Sunday, January 17, 2010

Can cancer be compared to a nuclear explosion? Maybe that is a little bit of an exaggeration but I can’t help it, I exaggerate. I think about it and I visualize the impact of the bomb and then there are the casualties. Finally, there are the survivors and then the fallout. I have been thinking long and hard about this as I have witnessed more of “the fallout” this week from my “nuclear explosion” two years ago.

It still catches me by surprise sometimes, the deep and lasting effects that this journey had on my family, primarily my children. They will never be the same, unfortunately, as they were before. They will always worry about “mommy getting sick again.”

The other day, I was taking my son to get his hand x-rayed because he had jammed his pinky at basketball the night before. It didn’t look terrible but I wanted to be sure. As we entered the parking lot to go to the x-ray center, my son noticed a sign on the front of the building. “I know that place mom you went there with us before.” I breathed a deep yogic breath to try to deal with this calmly. “Yes I did go there with you before.” I replied.

The sign was for the Breast Mammography Center* and Luke remembered going there. It was 2006, the year before I had my malignant biopsy. I found a lump almost one year earlier to the day. For that appointment my husband and children accompanied me. That tumor was benign. The next year when I went for the biopsy I went alone and the outcome was dramatically different.

“I hate that place!” He raised his voice and clenched his fists. “Ugghh!!!!” He began kicking the dashboard of the car. “That guy ruined our life. It is his fault that you got cancer. I am so mad at him.” Wow, I thought, I hadn’t expected this. Here was real, raw rage oozing out of my nine year old. I wanted to tell him that “that man” had in fact saved my life because we found the cancer early, but it would be lost on him, he was too upset.

“I am fine now honey. We aren’t going to that office for your x-ray we are going to the office right behind it.” I stopped the car and watched him wrinkle his face up again and listened as he yelled, “I hate that man. Doesn’t he know that he ruined our lives?” I know that I didn’t do the right thing next. I tried to minimize the whole thing and tried to get him to focus on the x-ray he was having. “Come on honey, the faster you get the x-ray done, the sooner you will be able to have your play date.”

I wanted to move on, I wanted to forget that this was where it all had in fact started but it just isn’t that easy. “Alright mom,” he replied. “I am just really mad.” I held his hand as we walked across the parking lot. That is when I thought about cancer being like a nuclear explosion. It changed our lives and now, fortunately or unfortunately, we have to deal with “the fallout.”

Friday, January 15, 2010

Prayers for Haiti

We should all stop and pray for the Haitian people.  Death and destruction will have many, many aftershocks for this country and her people for many years to come.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Magic Boxes

Thankfully, my children’s imaginations are still intact despite all of the technology that surrounds them. The other night I had an opportunity to witness the magic of discovering the limitlessness of a child’s mind first hand.

It all began with the idea of presenting my husband with a unique birthday gift. My son and daughter, ages seven and nine, decided that they would give the gift of themselves. They went down to the basement and found two cardboard boxes that were left over from when we moved in(four years ago!) and asked me to put a bow on top of each as they hid within. It was all silly and fun and my husband wasn’t surprised at all when he “opened” up his children after eating his coconut cake. They thought that they were so clever.

What happened next is where the magic comes in. I moved the boxes aside, reminding myself that it was in fact time to depart with them after all of these years. Later that day, I heard my daughter say, “I am going to go into my magic box and use my imagination.” She took a throw from the couch and climbed into one of the boxes and asked me to cover her with the blanket. For the next half an hour, I heard kicking and whirring noises from the box. She finally emerged from the box only to explain to me that she had been on a space journey.

“Do you want to come into your magic box and go into space Luke?” She asked her brother. “Sure,” he replied. So they climbed in the boxes as I covered them with throws from the couch. “We need it dark because we are going into space.” My daughter explained.

So the voyage began. There were more noises and kicking and laughing and screaming. I wrote my blog and sat in wonderment at what had just happened, enjoying the irony of it immensely.

Because as I looked around at the idle Wii, DS, GameCube and cell phone I realized that they had just as much, if not more fun, in a brown cardboard box, using their own imaginations.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Divine in You

So I think that I have been a bit preachy lately. Going on and on about yoga and its benefits, I guess it can get a little old. My husband, the biggest naysayer of all, had an interesting observation about my current zeal for my yoga practice.

We began our conversation last night after dinner as we cleaned the dishes. “Oh my God,” I effused. “I love yoga so much. It is so great because there is such a mind body connection. It is so uplifting to have someone speak positive thoughts over and over as you physically exert yourself. I am searching for the divine within and I feel great.” I looked over at him. His expression was bland. He clearly wasn’t sold. “Oh, come on,” I said. “Don’t tell me you don’t believe it?” Knowing full well that he didn’t, but his response not only surprised me but caused me to chuckle.

“I just have one thing to say.” He began. “Norman Vincent Peale.” I was smiling from ear to ear. Of course, he was right, it is all the power of positive thinking and it is a message that has been disseminated in many forms over the years. The thing about me is that I have always been one to succumb to trends like this. I practiced transcendental meditation in my teens and I read Norman Vincent Peale’s, “The Power of Positive Thinking” when I was in my twenties. In my early thirties, when a hypnotist came to a work conference as the evening's entertainment I was hypnotized immediately even though I was in the back of the room. There you have the crux of the argument, how critical is the power of suggestion in ensuring a happy healthy life?

Can it heal? Can it prevent disease? Can it really make you happier? Who knows? My husband, the scientist would like some empirical data to support my theory. “Just the facts ma’am” seems to be his mantra. Remember that he is trained in Western medicine. Some studies have been done, but it is difficult to quantify faith based healing.

“Ultimately, you are in charge of your own happiness.” He reminds me. “Yes,” I say. “That is exactly my point, yoga makes me happy.”

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! As I look back on 2009 I am thankful for so many things and yet I realize that each year of my life after children has been both full of blessings and hardship. I want for more. I want for more peace in my life and less illness for my family and friends. This New Year, my brother-in-law, at age forty six, was in a hospital room sipping non alcoholic champagne with my sister after recovering from a pulmonary embolism. Luckily, he is home and healing now.

I am hoping that 2010 will bring more of the good and less of the bad to me. There are many philosophies that teach that you bring to life what you wish. This year, my focus is on good wishes. You can have it all, within reason, now is the time to realize that all isn’t really that much. Dinner with friends, a grandparent’s birthday, watching your children play something they love…. It is all right there. It is the moments that often pass us by because we are so busy.

I am now addicted to my yoga class, in a good way. “Be present, be mindful.” The teacher chants. “Find the divine within.” I am not sure how divine I actually am but the notion of it is intriguing. Today she asked us to set an intention for our practice that started with the same letter as our name. I chose to dedicate my practice to joy.

I am joyful for my sister and her family as they averted a health crisis and I hope that 2010 brings them all good health. I am joyful for the opportunity to have this day and its blessings. I am joyful for my good health and that of my children. It is enough.