Category Archives: Living with Cancer

Living With Cancer: I Cried Yesterday.

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Since last November the proteins in my blood that can indicate Multiple Myeloma in my bone marrow, that have been gone for several years, reappeared.  I have had them tested for months every six weeks.  Then, I got a three-month testing reprieve this spring, which ended last week.

The little rascals increased slightly again.

So, when I saw my oncologist yesterday we had a long talk and I did something that I haven’t done in a very long time…I had a good cry.

I did not cry, because my Multiple Myeloma may be creeping back into my bone marrow.

I did not cry, because I need to have a bone marrow biopsy next Wednesday.  For those of you who have never had the privilege, they are a real treat!

I did not cry, because getting this type of cancer is just bad luck. Nothing I ate, did or stressed about had anything to do with this diagnoses.

I did not cry, because I am depressed.  I am not.  I have known since my original diagnosis five years ago that Myeloma is not curable and always returns.  While, I don’t like this, and do not have too, it was rather expected to happen some day. Besides my food and bee sting allergies are much more dangerous anyway.

I did not cry, because I will never be disease-free or able to lift a grandchild, work, wear pretty dresses or high heels, lift my saxophone, ride horse, mow the lawn, dig in the dirt, bike, swim, run, or walk off-trail in a woods without back pain again.

I did not cry, because cancer drugs are so expensive the thought makes me seasick.

Nope those things would not make me cry.

I cried, because I really want knock the mean people of this world who blissfully go about their self-absorbed orderly lives mentally, emotional and physically abusing others upside the head with my cane.

Yes, I cried, because people are mean!

People are mean by commission and omission.   Truth has been castrated and humiliation elevated to a moral virtue. Shame extinct, and vulgarity and violence epidemic.

I cried, because people are so busy looking for something to complain about, they don’t count the blessings in their lives.  For instance, you are not me!  Or, any of the precious people sitting in the infusion room with me.  Infusion rooms filled to the brim with pleasant, patient and peaceful people.  No politics here!  Priorities!

I cried, because too many people have become their own gods.  Their own ideas and self-importance supersede consideration of anyone or anything.  We have become an deaf society of busybodies.  Our motto is, “everyone is stupid, but me.”

Then, too, I cried, because I’m bored.  Sometimes, I feel buried alive in this house.  I miss working.  Miss serving others.  Miss making a difference in people’s lives.  Miss being in a position to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  I miss me.

I cried, because I could. My doctor is a great listener and can keep a straight face when I have a hissy fit about badness and boredom.

I cried, because society as a whole could benefit greatly by having many more great listeners and fewer talkers.

I cried, because my phone rang during my appointment.  It was the Red Cross calling for blood donations due to a severe blood shortage.

I cried, because I am a blood user not a donor.

That made me angry, and I cry when I am angry.

Kindness needs a little love once in awhile.

Please, think of others today and give blood!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Is On My Mind Today? Living With Cancer and The Best 40th Wedding Anniversary Gift Ever!

doug and pat wedding

Sunday was Doug and my 40th wedding anniversary. Our refrigerator is shot, works but many pieces are missing, so on Saturday we went to buy a new one at Best Buy, pick up a dog toy for my neighbor’s dog, she needed a new flamingo, and buy some picture books for my World War II buddy El who is in the nursing home.

Well, as life would have it, we had to go home and re-measure and go back to Best Buy on Sunday….our anniversary.

So, as a joke, I asked the salesman if there was a 40th Anniversary discount. He responded that, that is at 50 years and we will have to come back in ten years…without missing a beat my big quiet husband resolutely stated, “We’ll be here!.”

Best anniversary gift ever!

What Is On My Mind Today: Reoccurring Tornado Nightmares…Good Coming From Cancer

tornado

I started a new oil painting just over a week ago.  Whenever I start a new painting I always try to challenge myself.  On this one I want to paint a cyclonic super cell with a tornado, and capture the soft marshmallow look of the wind bands of a super cell without losing the harsh menace of a tornado.  It’s a goal.

I have painted a lot of paintings of storm clouds, but I have never actually painted a tornado and I am finding it a challenge.  The more is less and less is more art principle certainly applies to this project.

I have seen many tornadoes.  The first one I ever saw was when I was a very small little girl.  My family and I were on a trip from our farm to the Twin Cities and a tornado dropped of the sky right in front of our car.  It crossed the road and ripped a very large metal factory to shreds.  Large pieces of sheet metal delicately floated through the air like wispy spider web threads caught in a breeze.  The contrast of the tornado’s awesome destructive power and its gentle beauty was not lost on me…not even as a small child.

Soon, after that experience I began having a repeating nightmare of being chased by tornadoes.  I didn’t have these dreams every night, but I did have them often. I had them as a child.  I had them as a teenager.  I had them as a mother and I have had them as a grandmother.  They are always heart pounders.

In the dream the blackness of the storm is crushing.  It is evil.  It shows no mercy. It is deadly. It chases me everywhere I hide. I can save others, and do, but the tornado always continues to stalk me.  When all hope is gone, I always turn and face the storm.  I want to see the thing that was going to get me.

Just before it destroys me, I always wake up.

As horrible as those tornado nightmares are to my subconscious, my conscious loves watching storms.  I always have, even as a child. As a teenager, I raced storms across our farm fields on my horse. The F3 tornado that hit Hugo several years ago, came down just three houses from mine. I watch storm chasers on television and the real thing whenever I get a chance, which in Minnesota is this time of year. I love watching the ways clouds move.  Never the same twice. If I am outside, you can bet that I am watching the sky.

Several years ago a fellow artist saw my work and thought that maybe I like looking at clouds so much, because I like looking up at heaven and that is where God lives.  That could be part of my fascination with storms.  However, there is a part of me that thinks that if I watch enough storms during the day, the tornadoes that visit me in the night will go away.

Obviously the tornado of my dreams is symbolic of fear.  Over the years I have given this issue a lot of thought trying to figure out just what fear the tornado represents.
Throughout my life I have found myself in more than my share of fearful situations.  Fear was often my constant companion.  Especially after the doctor told me at age ten that I was so sick with asthma that I would not live to see my twentieth birthday.  I can remember being just a little tiny thing going into the back of my closet and hiding in a toy box under a blanket to feel safe.

When Grandma Esther found out about my hiding from fear. She told me that if I didn’t admire cowards I should choose not to be one.  After the delivery of that excellent advice, I became quite good at confronting fear and letting it go.  My approach to life became…what doesn’t kill me, will only make me stronger.

Stronger I became, but nothing ever got rid of those tornado nightmares.

Until….

My cancer diagnosis for Multiple Myeloma.

A person doesn’t often think of good coming from a cancer diagnosis and treatment, but  getting rid of those nightmares was a good thing.  Then, too, when faced with your own mortality, you feel more alive that you have before.  Cancer teaches you that each day is a gift and to live it fully.  Relationships become so much more precious and nothing gets taken for granted. And, if you ask, you will find that God will give you the peace that passes all understanding and that there is no challenge this side of heaven where he will not walk right beside you.  Yes, good can come from a cancer diagnosis.

So was the tornado in my dreams the Multiple Myeloma?  I don’t think so, because I had thyroid cancer when I was only 30 years old and I still had the those nightmares.  It is probably more likely that the tornado was the severe asthma, that enlarged my heart and gave me the lung capacity of one lung, that was cured by the stem cell transplant.  Or, that after surviving 18 months in a body cast, all of the vertebrae in my back having compression fractures, over two years stuck in a hospital bed in my living room looking out a window at a tree, then going through six months of chemo and a stem cell transplant, I really just do not have much to fear anymore at all.

What doesn’t kill me, only makes me stronger!

Or, maybe I finally learned that no matter what tornadoes may come,  I am never alone and have no reason to be afraid for God, my heavenly father, will never leave me or forsake me.

Psalm 23 

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Regardless of why,  I am so very grateful that both the nightmares and the cancer are gone.

I wish everyone’s nightmares and cancer were gone.

May God be with all of my fellow cancer soldiers and their families who did not choose, but were drafted into the war against cancer.

Numbers 6: 24-26
24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

Now, back to painting tornadoes!

 

 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? A Soldier, Priest and Courage

World War II Soldier

There was a soldier on an island in the Pacific during World War II wishing he was home and anywhere but there.  His military unit had been on that beach for over a week. They were staging for a big offensive against the heavily dug in Japanese.

This wasn’t the soldier’s first rodeo.  He had been in several tough fights and knew that this one was going to be no different and probably worse.

Engrossed in his thoughts, the soldier didn’t see the army’s priest walked up to him.  The priest had sought him out knowing that the soldier was a Christian, practiced the Catholic faith, and would soon be ordered to advance into battle.

The priest took his pastoral role very seriously and always tried to visit with soldiers before they were ordered into a fight.  This day was no different and by the pale anxious face of this soldier, the priest thought that the kid could use some company and sat down.

The priest looked at the boy and asked him if he was ready for confession.  The young man’s head reared back from the force of his laugh as he responded, “Father, I have been on this beach all week, I have had no opportunities to sin.”  Well, the priest thought about that and asked the soldier if he was sure.  The soldier was certain that the tally sheet of his soul was clean, at least for that week.

The priest wasn’t born yesterday, nor did he look like it, and knew that there were plenty of ways for young men to offend God when they were all gathered together far from home with nothing to lose and no promise of tomorrow.  The priest nodded and asked the soldier, “Is there anything that I can do for you?”

The priest did not have to wait long for the soldier’s answer. The young man blurted out that he feared his luck was running out.  He’d seen too many friends die. Soldiers that were stronger, smarter, better-trained and more faithful than he, had, had their numbers called.  He explained to the priest that with each battle, gun shot, artillery or grenade blast his fear grew.  Battles were becoming harder not easier. His courage had been used up and was gone.  So, yes, there was something the priest could do for him…could he have some courage?

The priest thought about the young man’s request.

He told the young man that everyone is afraid to die…even priests and good Christians.  Only the untruthful would say otherwise and bearing false witness is a confession-able sin. The priest reminded the soldier about the many times he had seen the priest under fire in harm’s way on battlefields ministering to the wounded, dying and performing last rites for the dead.  Right out in the open.  The priest told the soldier that there are times when he is practically paralyzed with fear.

Everyone feels fear the priest told the lad. Especially in situations that are dangerous or life-threatening. If someone tells you they are never afraid….they are lying. The brave and courageous are not fearless, they have just learned to control their response to fear.

The priest then told the young soldier how he finds courage in the face of death.  He repeats the Bible verse, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” 

The soldier took the priest’s advice.

During an interview on television sporting a lopsided grin the soldier remembered repeating that biblical phrase hundreds, if not, thousands of times before the end of the World War II…which he survived.

The Twenty-third Psalm, that the priest provided to the soldier, is probably one of the most well-known verses of the Bible.  It was written thousands of years ago by King David…a brave and courageous soldier.  King David knew what it was like to be young, on a battlefield facing death.  However, the circumstances do not matter, King David’s poetic words have given generation after mortal generation peace, reassurance, hope and courage.

Psalm 23: 1-6

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

 

 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today: The Shadow of Death and Then….There Was Light!

 

sunrise

Genesis 1:4
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

My favorite time of the day is the early morning.  Specifically the crack of dawn. I like its silence, coolness and potential. This morning, like most mornings, my dogs got me up just as the first rays of sunlight escaped the eastern horizon.  The light danced across the landscape and bathed my backyard in a gentle golden haze.

As I was searching for recipes in my computer’s archives, I found this poem I had written well over thirty years ago.  I guess my likes and dislikes really have not changed much through six decades.

The Child Inside

When I was a child, meek and young
I vowed to myself to never miss a rising sun
Excited to greet the hues of new day
Determined not to let life slip away
This morning I watched a new day evolve
I wondered what happened to that small child’s resolve
Her promise was honest
Discovery was real
This morning’s sunrise, again, held a childlike appeal

I love light. It is reassuring, revealing, comforting, illuminating, clarifying and brightens up its surroundings.  Most importantly though, light chases away shadows. Which is important to me, because I have always been afraid of the dark.

Darkness is frightening. It blinds and disguises. Evil seems to be forever lurking within its depths just out of reach of light’s illumination. Light exposes the ominous secrets of darkness and erases its shadows.

Having light at the ready to chase away the shadows of life is essential. Darkness can descend without warning and at any time…like an unexpected pounce by a large wet puppy. Sometimes dark shadows just muddy you up a bit, but there are those times when they knock you completely off your feet.

It doesn’t matter if you are good, bad or indifferent. Christian or not, life’s shadows befall all. Nobody….nobody….gets to dance in the sunshine their entire life. There will be days of illness, anxiety and a time to face your own or someone you love’s death. Morality is a kept promise and death the black hole of shadows.

Matthew 4:16
“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”

Job was a fellow in the Bible whose life and very existence became consumed by shadows. One right after another. Really, really dark ones.  His home was destroyed. All of his children killed.  He became sick, covered with sores, homeless, bankrupt and the object of disdain, ridicule and mockery by his former friends and neighbors.  His wife, instead of supporting him and providing help, told him to just hurry up and die.  Yup, Job definitely experienced the shadows of life.

Amazingly, though severely tested, Job’s faith in God never wavered.  He wrote, “The key to surmounting life’s shadows is and always will be light.”  No matter how dark and overwhelming the shadows became, Job looked to the light…..God.

As a Christian woman who has lost several babies, loved ones, suffered through a major depression and who has fought cancer twice, I know a bit about how hard it can be to see light at the end of a long dark tunnel.  In truth, that tunnel often felt more like an escape-proof, inky black quick-sand filled bottomless pit. At times the darkness seemed to suck the air from my chest and light out of my soul.

I have sat alone in darkness and learned that even during vicious shadow attacks when  I couldn’t see God, he always saw me.  Believers in Jesus Christ don’t need to fear that disease, death or any of the other multitudes of shadows in this world have the power to separate them from the love of God.  God and Jesus are the hope for the hopeless.  They do not abandon their children in times of need.

John 10:27-30 

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

There comes a peace that passes all understanding when you cease worrying about holding on to God, because you know that he holds on to you.  He will never let go.

Deuteronomy 31:8
And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

During those times when I was overcome by shadows and my heart and mind silently screamed, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me!.”  I may not have seen light, but there was light. The light of God’s love shown though others. It was there when my husband cared for me, when a nurse was extra gentle just to be kind, when a doctor provided hope or humor, when family, friends and neighbors stopped by to provide love, help and encouragement.  And when complete strangers let their lights shine by praying for me.

Matthew 5:16
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Shadows will come and go. Light lasts forever. Look for it. Choose to seek and love the light.

John 8:12 . 
Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” 

What a wonderful promise! 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? My Two Published Books For Sale on Amazon

Golden the Goose was the first children’s story that I wrote for my daughter Aurora and the only one for sale on Amazon.  When Aurora was four years old, she announced that she needed a story about a golden goose.  I told her there already was a story about a golden goose. To which she replied with a dreamy look on her little face, “I want mine to be in love.

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So a goose love story was written by a young mother, fighting Thyroid cancer who knew that her little girl was too young to remember her, should her cancer battle go poorly.   I thought that writing and illustrating Aurora stories with a motherly moral message would be a great way to leave a legacy.

Golden the Goose’s message about domestic abuse…”being a princess in a palace is not worth the price, if you spend your own life with a king who is not nice.”

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Over the next several years “Golden the Goose” was followed by other children’s stories written by a young mother to her young daughter.   Such as:

Golden the Goose.  A goose love story

He Who Thinks Well and Runs Quickly.  Native American Anti-Bullying Story.

Aurora’s School Bus Rules.  This is exactly what she said…almost.

The Evil Lizard of Nid A story about conquering the mighty tantrum.

Chloe the Water Lily Fairy Princess The best way to get willy-nilly children and busy, bouncing baby bunnies to go to sleep at night is to read to them.

Going to Get the Calves.  A story about growing up on the farm.  I did illustrate this story, but used all of the originals in a book I made as a gift for grandchildren.

The Hen Who Wanted to Fly.  Dreams can come true.

Pete the Christmas Apple.   The Christmas Story about Jesus and Santa Claus is told from the viewpoint of an apple.

A Family’s Farm Christmas Is a inter-generational family portrait of tradition.

On Grandmother’s Knee I wanted my daughter to know her Great Grandmother Esther.

On the Day I Was Born, Frost Killed All The CornIs not on my blog, but has illustrations.   It is a silly farm parody of another Children’s book, “On The Day You Were Born.”  Instead, of wonderment, the day is filled with chaos, but ends with farmer marveling over his new baby girl.

And, then there was “Carina the Brave.”  Several years ago I re-wrote this story to personalized it for my three-year-old niece who was battling leukemia.  Laney did not win her cancer battle.  “Laney, The Brave”,  is about loyalty, family and conquering fear.

book cover

https://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Dreamed-Commander-Chief/dp/B00ACPK2GA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523024124&sr=1-1&keywords=Patricia+Turgeon

The other book that I co-authored and published is a biography of Robert E. Hansen called “More Than I Ever Dreamed“.  This biography chronicles Bob’s childhood, military service during World War II, his tenure as Commander of the VFW during the Kennedy years and cold war and the Minnesota politics of his time.  Bob personally knew John F. Kennedy and most of the world’s post-World War II leaders, he lived and extraordinary life.

These books were sold through the Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Science Museum, Dakota County Historical Society and online.  They sold out rather quickly.

The prices being charged for the limited copies available of this book on Amazon are the very definition of optimism.  Interestingly, after working with Former Governor Tim Pawlenty on the World War II Memorial Dedication, Bob’s indicates in this book that he was no longer a fan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? Holiday Jingles…Too Many…..Too Soon!

grandma and reindeer

This news story caught my eye about how psychologist’s studied the effects of Christmas music and concluded that playing holiday tunes too soon can have a negative impact on mental health.  I  have provided the link below to the news article.

Actually, I get this. Not so much the part about the tunes triggering too much thinking about all of the to do’s for Christmas, but more about them triggering thoughts about the  have not’s and who’s not of Christmas.  This time of year, mourning losses whether, health, job, material, relationship and especially the death of a close family member or friend, become exponentially hard. Along with the brightness and fun of the season, comes kick in the gut emotional darkness as heartache silently, and sometimes not so quietly, screams…why me?

Depression during this time of year is common, real and an increased mental health concern. If you, or someone you know, are suffering from depression, it is so very important to see a doctor. Depression is a disease. Treatment is available. Suicide is preventable. Speaking from experience, there can be contentment and happiness after loss and depression.

The holiday season can be very short for some and never-ending to others. Non-stop holiday music does seem to make the never-ending line move slower.  The best way to help speed up the never-ending line, is to give those caught in it the most precious of all gifts….your time.  After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really about?  Loving people.

Christmas is a Christian holiday.  It is a celebration about the greatest gift of love.  God’s holiday focus wasn’t on stuff or to do’s, it was solely on bringing his beloved, fallen and often evil, human’s peace, joy and eternal salvation by simply believing in his son as their savior.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Please note that God said…”everyone”.

Hugs, to my many loved ones and friends who I know are going to be in the never-ending line this holiday season. I am sorry for your losses and continually pray that the peace the passes all understanding fills your heart and mind today and everyday as you struggle to climb your mountains.

And, should you come to visit me during the holiday season, there is a good chance there will be lots of cookies and…disco music.