I’ve been living in a storm since December.  A storm whose nature twists and turns and changes with every new decision that must be made RIGHT NOW and as new information is learned. That’s what cancer has turned out to be for me.

I have been praying every night since before I received a diagnosis, “God! Please give me peace! Keep my blood pressure down (it has peaked at levels above 200) during all the diagnostic tests  Please let it NOT be cancer.”

But then after diagnosis, my prayer changed to, “God! Please give me peace! Protect my lymph nodes from this cancer.”

With every test, every doctor’s visit my stress grew, my fear became greater. My prayer shifted once again to “God! Please give me peace, protect my lymph nodes and keep them clear of cancer and …. please oh please give me courage to keep stepping forward into this storm.” I’ve wanted more than anything to climb into my bed, pull the covers up over my head and do nothing, pretend that the storm does not exist. I have asked Mark, “Hey I wonder what happens if I stop – just don’t show up for that nother test, exam, doctors visit.” But I know that’s not an option. The storm will not disappear, it will not go away. If I stop stepping forward it will take me over and ultimately kill me. So I keep stepping forward, I keep showing up for the next test, the next consult despite my fear. It is the only option and the quickest way for me to get through this storm. I learned long ago (when my mother died) that the best way through the storm is to turn towards it, yelling, “BRING IT ON”. I may get bruised & battered, even beaten to a pulp, but the storm passes over eventually.

I fall back to a favorite biblical passage that comforts me and brings me hope, “Weeping may endure for the evening, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). I’m ready for some more joy.

I ‘ve found some great quotes about courage that resonate with me and that resonance helps to keep me stepping forward into the storm:

“All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them, but confront them. Touch a thistle timidly, and it pricks you; grasp it boldly, and its spines crumble.” ~ William Halsey

“Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. Having courage and showing courage mean we face our fears. We are able to say, ‘I have fallen, but I will get up.'” ~ Maya Angelou

“Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.” ~ Mark Twain

We are all yeses

“We are all yeses. We are worthy enough, we passed inspection, we survived the great fetal oocyte extinctions. In that sense, at least — call it a mechanospiritual sense — we are meant to be. We are good eggs, every one of us.”

― Natalie Angier in “Women: An Intimate Geography”

The best thing for being sad

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”


― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Looking in the rear view mirror

How quickly 2022 passed. . . at least that’s how it feels looking at the year in the rear view mirror.

Mark and I are doing well. We’ve made it through the last couple of years without catching covid. It helps that we are both fully vaccinated against the disease, but being cautious when venturing out into the world again has also helped.

You may know that Mark retired in September 2021. At the time I wondered how he’d fill his days after he retired, but he’s kept himself busy with gardening-related activities. Over the last year, he studied for and passed the Master Gardener’s exam and now he’s a Master Gardener. He spends two mornings a week working at the Master Gardeners’ greenhouse.

In February, Mark’s dad had a stroke. His dad spent several days in a hospital in Asheville, NC and recovered well enough to be discharged to extended care in his neighborhood. Mark’s retirement turned out to be a blessing since he had a great deal of flexibility to help his brother get his dad settled and he’s been able to devote time to sorting out the financial and logistical issues of moving his father into extended care.

Mark worked hard to get our yard ready for the Hydrangea Festival’s tour of gardens in June. This involved laying sod in several spots in the yard where thin, sad grass hardly grew. Almost immediately after laying the new sod a critter started rooting around the sod, messing it up. Mark thought armadillos were the culprits so he set out his trap but didn’t trap anything. So he set up a couple of webcams to figure out what was tearing up the yard. Turns out it was a racoon! He wound up laying netting over the newly sodded areas and this eventually discouraged the racoon enough to allow the sod to take root.

I’m still working for the biomedical company I joined almost 6 years ago where I spend my days pouring over large healthcare databases. Over the years my research has focused on diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) and the impacts the use of my company’s products have had on the treatment of DFUs. It’s been a rewarding time for me.

The data mining and analysis I’ve developed over the last couple of years came to fruition in the form of three peer-reviewed articles that are published in The Journal of Wound Care. If you feel so inclined you can click this link to view and download the articles. I am now performing similar analysis on the impact of using our products in the treatment of venous leg ulcers.

I’ve sung with the Douglas County Chamber Singers for more than 20 years, and we were finally able to resume rehearsals after almost two years (covid shut us down right before our 2021 Spring concert). We held our first concert under our new Director in December. The concert was well attended and turned out to be quite an emotional experience for me. After the past two years I had begun to think that covid had silenced the choir permanently since during the many months of covid we lost so many members, including our conductor who decided to retire. It was wonderful for the choir to find its voice again after all the months of silence and I look forward to our Spring 2023 singing season.

I hope you’ve all had a lovely holiday season and offer my very best wishes to you in the coming year.

Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap is Amazing!

I’ve used this soap more times than I can remember to remove stubborn stains from my clothes (like blood & tomatoe sauce).

The best way to treat a stain is to treat it quickly with some kind of prewash solution and then to launder it in cold water. Any kind of heat can set the stain in the fabric, making it near impossible to remove.

But I’ve used Fels-Naptha soap to remove stains even after I’ve accidentally run a garment through the wash and dried it in a hot dryer.

All I do is take the garment to the sink, run cold water over the stain, dampen the soap, rub it on the wet stained spot, and rub the fabric together several times, then rinse and repeat if necessary.

The tee-shirt shown in the picture below had a bad splotchy stain around the bottom of the v neckline (spaghetti sauce). I treated the stain with some kind of pretreatment spray and then ran it through the washing machine (on cold). The stain was still quite noticeable after the wash, so I hand scrubbed the tee with my old standby Fels-Naptha and Voilà! All Gone!

It works! Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap is phenomenal!