Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011 ... A Slideshow

Christmas 2011 was a Christmas filled with so many emotions. With my dad's dying on December 10, our family was keenly aware that the oldest member of our family would be looking down on us and watching us do our best to carry on the family traditions. He would have loved the decorations, the lights, the food, the talk, the laughter and the sounds of the children.

I placed the sweater my dad always wore over his chair at the dining room table. It made it feel like he was there.

We celebrated Christmas in the spirit of family, and family is what my dad was all about!

I hope you enjoy the slideshow. Merry Christmas and thank you to everyone who has held me and my family in your thoughts, prayers and loving arms! Judy

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

When The Silence Comes

(Dante's Prayer) Click to play.


My last post was on December 4th.

On December 10th, I got the call I didn't want to get.

My wonderful dad breathed his last breath. He died within a few minutes. If he wasn't in pain or fear I am glad. Glad for him. I wanted him longer, but not if he was in pain or unable to be in life as he had been for his 99 years.

I have been surrounded by my family. Each day I have been able to see them is like Christmas to me.

I know Christmas Day, this year, will not be the same as it has been for many years. My dad had two places in my house that he sat. He always sat on one cushion of my couch in my fireplace room as the family visited. And, he had his place at my dining room table for years.

It is when I think of seeing him in those two places that I feel the emptiness of his not being here.

I have kept busy. There is Christmas to prepare for. My house is the Christmas house. There are little ones who still want and need the magic of Christmas. There have been presents to buy. There has been food to buy. There are presents that are still unwrapped.

There is a heart inside me that is ok so long as there are things to do and people to be with.

But, the things get done and the people go home.

And, I am left with the silence.

It is in the silence that my throat unclogs and the screams of loss are heard.

It is silent no more.

I miss my dad.

I don't like this.

I don't like this at all.

And, I just breathed clear down.

Maybe I will sleep tonight.

Because I broke the silence.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Christmas Magic

Please......open the door and come on in. Welcome to my world, and welcome to my Christmas house!










Be prepared to have your heart melt as you watch the magic of Christmas in Jackson's face and experience the innocence and pure joy as he discovers things in my Christmas tree room.






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In this last video I am remembering my mom, who died in 2001. Our last Christmas with her was in 2000. The last thing I did with her was, as she sat in her wheelchair at my kitchen table shortly before going home, my sister, Linda, and I sang Silent Night with her. It was pure majic.




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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Silence Has Words

(Dante's Prayer) Click to play.

In my silence there is a volume of words. I am internal right now. Sometimes, in this silence, even I don't know the words that are unspoken.

And, then............words come...words I didn't know were there come in the darkness of night.

There are two years of words.

There are words, that if I speak them out loud, make the last two years real.

If the last two years are real, I have to feel them.

And, I finally can.

I know there is healing in the spoken word.

I know there is healing in the daring to feel unwanted realities.

And, that is the truth of the matter tonight.

The other truth is I have the hiccups : )

There are some truths that just simply have some humor.

So, I am off to bed, all the better for breaking my silence with a few words.

Friday, October 14, 2011

How To Enjoy Recovery From Surgery

I am finding being the nurse at home is multi-dimensional. I have temporarily taken over the things Tom used to do. I cook, tidy things up, converse, so Tom has some company, bring things to Tom that he needs, protect his environment by removing the phone from the bedroom so it won't wake him, change the dressing on his incision, make sure he has soft, yet enough, light to work by, go up and down the stairs multiple times during the day, which is teaching me to stop and think before I leave the floor I am on and all this is good.

You see, we live in a two story home with a mostly finished basement. My computer is two floors down from where Tom is. You may wonder how we stay in touch. That was a simple problem to solve. He calls me on his cell phone. It works really well. I also check on him to see if he is sleeping and if all is well. We have worked out a system that feels mutually respectful.

I know that the energy in the house is important. Good energy can't help but promote healing and part of good energy is humor. Humor heals.

Below is a video of gentle humor from this morning. Thanks Tom for being a good sport!


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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tom's Surgery Update

Tom's back surgery went really well. Dr. Kim got the piece of disc removed and now we need to see what the nerve wants to do. She couldn't tell us that. She said ... "First, the nerve needs to heal and then we will see what happens. Recovery could mean weeks to months." What I think that means is we won't know for a while whether or not the foot will change and to what degree. There is no noticeable difference yet in how high he can raise the toes on his left foot. He only has occasional pain in his left calf. He is still limping when he walks. His mood is good and I think he is actually enjoying a part of letting others take care of him.

It is easy to want an instant result and I don't think that is in the cards. I asked if we could have a referral to a physical therapist and the answer to that is, "Yes." We were both pleased with that because we had heard not all surgeons will make that referral.

Tom is home. From the time we left home on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. and when I brought him home at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday he had had back surgery. 24 hours....from check in to check out!

Tom will be a patient of mine for up to the next three weeks. I am his nurse now and so far he hasn't fired me : ) I pretty much try to have all his needs met that he doesn't even know he needs before he knows he needs anything at all. Raise your hand if you followed that last sentence.

I have posted three pictures since so many of you have emailed or called to check in and see how he is doing. We are taking things a day at a time and honoring his need to rest and eat well and walk a little and talk a little. It is nice to take care of him and have him be so appreciative. I think there is something to one's attitude and one's healing.


Tom being wheeled away to surgery


Tom on drugs....he was happy and fun...I think he felt no pain

Tom at home recovering...notice his side table, bed tray and bed desk

The adjustable bed is the one I got when Sarah had cancer so she could recover as easily as possible. It is working perfectly for Tom as well.

You know, life is good. Yesterday, I asked Tom how he was feeling about everything. He said, "The whole experience has been ideal. We have good doctors who got us in for appointments immediately and Dr. Kim, the neurosurgeon rearranged her schedule to fit us in for surgery right away. We are really lucky."

In our new office building there is a physical therapy office on the top floor. I checked to see if they take Medicare and they do. It seems we should be able to have Tom do his PT right in our own building.

All in all, the surgery and the recovery are good. All of your thoughts, love, caring and prayers meant and continue to mean a lot. Recovery comes in stages. Right now we couldn't be more pleased or more optimistic.

Thanks everybody........

Love, Judy

Monday, October 10, 2011

Update On Tom

My last post left off with letting you all know that Tom was scheduled to see a neurosurgeon concerning his left foot drop. The appointment was last Thursday and no time was wasted getting him scheduled for surgery.

A small piece of disc, that has broken off in the area of L5 S1, is pressing on the nerve root and it is stopping the communication that tells the leg muscle to lift the toes/foot.

I would like to say we can be confident there will be a full/permanent recovery. I can't. It seems there are "windows" of opportunity when maximum recovery can be expected. We have missed the first window and are now into the second window. We may or may not get full recovery. It is possible we will get only partial recovery.

Check in time is 8:30 a.m. and surgery is scheduled for 11:00. My daughters, Sarah and Kara, will be spending most, if not all, the day with me. That is how we do it. We do these things together. I know our son, Adam, would be with us too if he weren't so far away. He has kept in close touch by phone.

Please send your thoughts, love and prayers for Tom, me, our family, the doctors, nurses, anesthesiologist.....all those who love and care for Tom. I believe in the power of prayer.

I will post as soon as I can to share the result of tomorrow's surgery.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Judy Explains

It has been almost two months since I last posted. I feel bad. I have had so many wonderful people who supported and encouraged me over the last half year as I trained for the 3 Day for the Cure.

I want to explain why I haven't posted. I thought it might get easier, but in fact, it is getting harder.

I walked most of the walk on Friday. With reluctance, but with cheers from my team mates, I hopped a short ride in the sweep van. That gave me a little time to cool down and rest up. I walked Saturday morning, but believe I got dehydrated, so did not walk Saturday afternoon. I joined the ranks of the cheering section along with Dave, Davey, Derek, Jackson and Tom.

Saturday night, I drank gallons of Powerade and got a good rest. By Sunday morning I was raring to go. As we were walking a sidewalk somewhere in St. Paul, my cell phone rang. It was Tom. He told me my dad was in the emergency room at St. Francis hospital. Sarah was a little ahead of me, and as she looked back to see what was happening, knew instantly this was probably about my dad, and said, "You're done!"

As soon as Tom could come get us we headed to the hospital. We believe he had a TIA, small stroke, and I spent the rest of Sunday and Monday at the hospital. Sarah was able to go back to finish the walk and share in the final celebration.

He is old. They can't do anything. Anything they could do would be too risky and could change his quality of life. So, we were sent home to take good care of him and spend as much time enjoying him as we can. It is hard. He looks so good on the outside, but things on the inside are wearing out. It is hard to let it in that our time is limited.

A week later, on September 4, we had a 99th birthday party for him. Following the party, the focus shifted to moving Tom's and my office, which I have been working on for probably four + months.

Everything that has happened seems to be happening so close together, it seems they are happening simultaneously. And, they all have emotion attached. There was no time to recover from the walk. I guess maybe I kept right on walking. I kept walking into the next life changing event or transition.

I haven't had time to feel. I knew if I wrote I would feel. I knew I had to feel. I just didn't know when.

Last week, I thought...ok...things are slowing down...coming to an end...the office is coming along...that was the last big thing that needed my attention....I can relax a little and do a post...I felt like I had abandoned the people who cared about me...I wanted to write and explain once I felt I could take some time...to let go and let down...

It didn't happen. I am doing a post, but not because I can let down. I am doing a post because if I don't, I don't know when I will be able to.

While we were moving, Tom got some hip pain. The pain moved down his left thigh, left calf, left ankle and then his left foot dropped.

He had an MRI last Friday and our primary doctor urged us to make an appointment with a neurosurgeon. With help from our doctor, a neurosurgeon has made room in her schedule to see Tom this Thursday, October 6.

I don't know what will happen. Our doctor was adamant we get in to a neurosurgeon ASAP. She said, if the neurosurgeon looks at the MRI, time will be made ... and it was.

So...to my dear family and friends and all who read and follow my blog...I wanted you to know why so much time has gone by since my last post. Life just got big. Then, it got bigger. And, it seems it is still getting bigger for now.

I got to have a few tears this morning. I held it together until I said thank you to the nice girl, named Holly, who called from Dr. Kim's clinic. She has a nice voice and she gave me good news. "We have scheduled Thomas for this Thursday, October 6, at 10:30."

Sometimes a job is so much more than a job. Amazing the gratitude and relief I felt hearing an appointment had been scheduled. I will tell Holly what a nice voice she has.

I will write more. I will write again. I promise. I will write for you and I will write for me.

Love,
Judy

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Training Continues....The Day Is Coming

What a beautiful day! What a beautiful place I live. What a beautiful place I have to train for the 3-Day.







This is the last weekend of clocking the miles before the 3-Day for the Cure. Today was a 10mile day and tomorrow is an 8 mile day.

I cannot believe how much better I am at walking the miles and how much I look forward to walking now.

If you read my previous post, you will remember something good happened to me while sitting on the bench along the path. I came to some kind of peace with this whole event. I found a calm and peace inside myself that resulted in a wonderful perspective.

I know now that I am not going to miss the walk. Maybe that sounds funny, but there has been such an emphasis on the training, and really, I did go straight from my recliner to the treadmill when I signed up for this, that I had serious questions about being able to do this and come out of it alive. With so many questions about my ability, I think I have carried a little bit of worry.

And....and.....and....I don't anymore!

Not only can I say, "Let's do this!," I can say, "I know I can do this and I know I will see, hear and feel every single moment!"

I am going to walk for so many people. I am going to walk with my daughter. I am going to thank God that I am walking with my daughter. I have been given this gift to walk with Sarah. Thank you God.

So, today was another one of those beautiful days. The sky was blue. The clouds were absolutely exquisite. The last one and a half miles were shared with Tom and my new pocket camera.

I bought it new so I would be able to take pictures and videos on the walk next weekend. I hope I captured some of the beauty of the day. Please enjoy the pictures and the video.

The countdown is starting! I am happy! I am calm! I am at peace!

Let's do this!




















Below is a video from the last part of my walk. Listen to the sounds and enjoy the beauty of this day. I am so lucky to live so close to Medicine Lake. It has become an important part of my training.






video

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Week From Tomorrow

Where has the time gone? I think time drifts by, like clouds in the sky, without our even noticing.

The 3-Day for the Cure is one short week away. One week from today, Sarah and her best friend, Kimmie, will be coming to stay overnight. Bright and early the next day, Tom will be driving the three of us to the opening registration for the walk.

60 miles in 3 days. 60 miles in 3 days. Or, the best you can do. Everyone who has signed up, trained and earned the required $2300.00 in fundraising is already a winner in my book.

I walked 5.43 miles today. Today was a 5 mile training day, so that felt good. We are supposed to train wearing the shoes, socks and clothing we will be wearing for the 3-Day.

Today, I wore a pair of medium cushioned smartwool socks and my second pair of Mizuno shoes that I am breaking in. They were great. I have been wearing the thick cushioned smartwool socks up until now but I like the medium cushion inside this second pair of shoes.

I am also adjusting to contact lenses for the walk. I have a lens that has correction for astigmatism in my right eye, single vision, and a lens that has a bifocal in it, no astigmatism correction for my left eye. They worked well today. Funny how the brain adapts.

And, I wore my new hat. It is a great hat. It has a wide brim that will shade my face, a flap I can either velcro up or leave down to protect the back of my neck and it is made of wonderful, lightweight, breatheable fabric that protects from the hot sun and the UV rays. It was like walking under a shade umbrella. I purposely walked where there would be little shade to see if it really worked. I loved it.

I was walking the last half mile and decided to sit for a while on a bench. I want to take you to that bench because it was the most relaxed and peaceful I have felt for a long time.

I was alone. The sky was the most beautiful sky I have seen since I can't remember when. It was blue and was filled with white clouds that came in so many interesting shapes and sizes. I just sat and looked and breathed and thought this is what I want the walk to be like. I was so in the moment. For a long time no walkers or bikers came by. I was alone.

I looked at the clouds. I started to think about my mom. I thought how she would be proud of me for what I am doing. I started to look at the clouds to see if I could see her face. I wanted to see her. And, then, seemingly out of nowhere, I swear I saw an eagle gliding through the clouds. I spoke right out loud. "Was that an eagle? That was an eagle. I know it was an eagle." I didn't see it again. But, I knew it was my mom letting me know she was proud.

I was quiet. I smiled. I got up from the bench. I said, "This is how I want to feel on the walk."

I don't want to miss a moment of the walk. At one point when I was walking today I felt tired. I said, as I have all along, "You can do this. All you are is tired. That is all."

And, then, I had a nice thought. I will imagine that God will put wings on my feet when I need them. That made me smile too.

It has been a good day....a reflective day...a day of gratitude...a day of moments.

One more week and I will be amongst 2400 people who have come together for an incredible event. Never in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined what I am about to do. I am at peace.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back To Training (I Hope) And My Names List

Sarah and me sitting on a bus stop bench with the beef jerky we brought for instant protein

I have so much I want to say in this post. Sometimes my thoughts come faster than my fingers can type.

After a three week break from my training for the 3-Day for the Cure, I hit the pavement yesterday with Sarah. It was hot, humid, sunny at times, breezy at times and always fun.

Well....sometimes it was too hot, too humid, too sunny...never too breezy and no matter what the weather conditions, it was always nice to be walking with Sarah.

We got a chance to talk. We talked about important things as we took breaks along the way. We talked of implants, changed bodies, people she knows whose cancer has come back...the need to celebrate the two year marker as that seems to be the time frame in which cancer often returns. At least, that is what she has been hearing in her Comfort Club, which she attends once a month.

We took frequent breaks. We sat on bus stop benches, stopped in at McDonald's, ate lunch at Applebee's, rested and got ice and cold water at Caribou Coffee and put ice chips on our foreheads, arms and down our shirts...ok..it was only me who did that last part.

We laughed. Then we laughed. And, we laughed some more. It was good to be back training together.

But, when we got back to my house and I took my left shoe off, my foot hurt on the instep and it looked like the bone was protruding. I iced it and Sarah called her doctor friend who told me how to treat it and I hope to be back training in a few days. For now, I am benched. It is best to take care of it immediately and then I will start training again with a little less vigor.



I am keeping a list of names of people to walk for. The list has grown. I don't know what it is, but when I think of the names you have given me and remember your words, "Will you walk for?".......

Something happens to me. It becomes very personal. Saying your families and friends names makes each step I take have great meaning and helps me keep going...one step at a time.

If anyone wants me to say the name of a loved one, please let me know and I will add it to my list.

I will be carrying the list of names with me when I walk in August.

And, I will walk!

I will walk for...........
Emma
Sharon
Carol
Barb
Danette
Priscilla
Robin
Becky
Elizabeth
Shirley
Cindy
Amber
Sarah
Angel
Lynn
Pat
Kathy
Karen
Curt
Betsy
Jennifer
Michelle
Vicki
Tina
Ellen
Janice
Keri
Mark
Gary

Thank you everyone for all your support, love, care, encouragement, thoughts, hugs, smiles and prayers.

Love,
Judy

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Someone Remembered

I was reading the paper yesterday...the obituaries...and I saw the name of a woman who was a client of mine over the years.

I kept looking at her name. And, I felt her life. I felt her presence...her joy...her inimitable style...and I missed her.

I can't stop thinking about her. I have a unique privilege in life. I get to know a person in so many ways. I am so honored...honored that people who sit in my office share their hearts and souls and depths of their lives.

I guess I want to say that the people I meet touch my life. They are not a file or a case...they are a person....

And, they leave a mark in my life.

May God hold her loved ones in the palm of His hand.

You touched my life.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

A Great Visit With Adam And Family

My son, Adam, and his family have been visiting this last week. It is the first time we have seen them since Christmas 2009. Adam was home for my niece, Briana's, funeral in February 2010, but otherwise we have been miles apart for far too long.

Below is a slideshow of pictures set to music of the last few days. The cast of characters includes Adam, Sara Beth, Kallsen (6) Parker (5), Sarah, Dave, Davey (7), Derek (5) Jackson (3) Kara, Sam, Christopher (18) Amelia (13), her friend, Haley, my sister, Linda, brother-in-law, David, Tom, my dad and me.

Kara cut Adam's hair. They are twins. Adam gave Sarah, Kara and me head scratchers so when you see a picture of the three of us girls with things sticking out of our heads, that is what they are. We went to Music In Plymouth, the big 4th of July gala in our community, which was a spectacular night. And, we spent time with my 98 year old father. It was a happy week!

I love family. I love my family. To have the oldest member at 98, and the youngest member at 3, and everyone in between together was wonderful! My grandsons, Josh and Joseph, weren't able to be here and oh, how we missed them.

Adam, Sara Beth, Kallsen and Parker leave this morning to head back to South Carolina. Goodness gracious I am going to miss them! They are taking Amelia back with them for a ten day visit. Have fun Amelia!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Training Post # 11...With A Thankful Heart

I don't know how time can pass so quickly. Perhaps being busy makes a person not feel the days come and go.

I will catch everyone up to speed on the life of this 68 year old girl.

First of all........I have reached my fund raising goal for the 3-Day for the Cure, and exceeded it. I am over $2,400.00 as of today.

It is with a grateful heart I thank everyone for their support and financial donations. In order to walk the 3-Day for the Cure, I needed to raise $2,300.00.

Thanks to all of you I have met that goal, and with each step, will say a name of anyone you would like me to be walking for. With each step I take, if I can put a name to it, something wonderful happens inside me.

I am already walking for a few I know by name.........

Sarah
Angel
Lynn
Pat
Kathy
Karen
Curt
Betsy
Jennifer
Michelle
Vicki
Tina
Ellen
Janice
Keri
Mark

I have had to put my walking on the back burner for a few weeks. There are some business circumstances requiring my attention, and a fund raising garage sale at Sarah's this week, and a visit from my son and his family next week that I am preparing for.

I can't miss my life while I am training. I will train again. But, first, I get to see my son, his wife, and two of their sons next week. We have not seen them for a year and a half.

I brought them home from SC for Christmas, 2009, because I anticipated the death of my niece, Briana, and I wanted us all to be together. Then, Sarah was diagnosed with cancer and life was redirected. I smile. That is a nice way to put what has felt like a trip to hell.

I can't wait to see my son and his wife and their boys.

I want to hold them, hug them, hear their voices and laughs, and feel them as they live in my house for the days they are here.

Memories are going to be made. I want to be here. I don't want to miss life in the moment. God will help make me strong enough to carry out my training after their visit.

I will train.

I will walk.

I will walk for the names anyone sends me.

I will say your loved ones names with each step I take.

With all my heart I thank everyone who has supported me in my training and in my fund raising goal.

If you want to see my progress...my reaching of my goal...just click on the link below.......

http://www.the3day.org/site/TRC/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?pg=peditor&fr_id=1626&px=5787663

With a grateful heart I say good night.

I will keep you updated on my training.

I will keep you updated on my life.

Life is to be lived.

I intend to do just that.

Love,
Judy

Friday, June 10, 2011

Training Post # 10 .... Good Report On Sarah


Ok........so a breath can be taken and a sigh can be heard around the world...a good sigh!

Sarah got the results of her endometrial biopsy and everything looks normal!!

I am so pleased, happy, ecstatic, thrilled, relieved, grateful and probably a few other adjectives as well. I am blessed. We are blessed.

So, now Sarah and I will walk with a spring in our steps tomorrow. Sarah will be coming over to stay the night tonight and we will get up and walk our 13 miles tomorrow. It is a big day! It is the biggest training day yet, and Sunday is a 9 mile day. We have already walked 9 miles this week. That totals 31 miles for the week!

I will see if I will be able to do it all. I am a bit under the weather, but am going to just go slow and pay attention to how I feel. We will walk in my neighborhood and will use my house as our home base to eat and rest. I have a yummy casserole in the oven that we will be able to scoop and heat in the microwave....instant nutrition!

I am very close to raising my $2300.00. The sooner I have my fund raising done my team will be able to check in online and make decisions about whether we will stay in the tent community or in a motel.

I think I need about $172.00 yet and then I will have met the goal.

If anyone has been thinking about donating and just hasn't done it yet, please do, or if anyone would like to consider donating it would be wonderful.

Your support really does help me walk. I say the names of my supporters as I take my steps and for some reason it helps, and even brings a smile to my face.

The link to my personal page is listed below. You can check my progress and see just how far I have come and how far I have yet to go.

Thank you everyone so much for your encouragement and your hugs and questions about how I am doing in my training.

http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?px=5787663&pg=personal&fr_id=1626

Hugs,
Judy

Friday, June 03, 2011

Update On Sarah's Appointment Today

I am at Sarah's house now. It is 3:30 p.m. and we are home from the doctor's. She had an ultra sound, a meeting with the doctor and an endometrial biopsy.

The ultra sound looked good...no fibroids or polyps that would cause the bleeding, but the thickness of the edometrial lining indicated she should have a biopsy.

Anything 4mm and under would indicate NO biopsy needed. Her reading was 6.3mm...so not too high...anything like 10mm or above is what they see if there is cancer.

So, things look good so far and we will get the results of the biopsy maybe next Friday, June 10 or early the following week.

We are tired and we plan to walk tomorrow over in my neighborhood. The doctor told Sarah to let her body guide her as far as the walking goes.

Our walking schedule for tomorrow is 12 miles. We will see how it goes. Sarah will be staying overnight at my house and we will give ourselves lots of time to walk and rest and walk and rest and then rest and rest and rest and rest : )

Your thoughts and prayers lifted me high this morning. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love and care. No matter which way I would ever fall, I know I would land on a blanket of angels.

Hugs,
Judy

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Not A Training Post Tonight....A Post About Keeping My Wits About Me

(Dante's Prayer) Click to play.

video

What better way to calm one's spirit than with music and nature.

Today has been a day of questions and uncertainty and what ifs. It has been a day of telling yourself not to worry. It has been a day of going about living as if everything was normal....as normal as it is when your daughter had cancer...and is, as far as we know, doing ok.

But......for the last three days my daughter has been bleeding.......on Tamoxifen.

Bleeding on Tamoxifen can mean any number of things I guess. One of the things it can be is a symptom of endomedrial cancer. It might just be her body coming back to a pre-menopausal state. Chemo shuts down your hormones and can put a young woman into menopause.

I might not make much sense tonight. I will do my best.

We have learned through this journey that what statistics say is not always true. Sarah's 36 year old cousin, Briana, died of uterine cancer, a cancer that strikes women my age...........68!! Briana died of it!!

Her main symptom was profuse bleeding that wouldn't stop. So, when my daughter was bleeding profusely for three days, we take note.

Sarah has contacted the oncologist's nurse and her gynocologist. She has an appointment tomorrow for an ultra sound, a doctor's appointment and a potential uterine biopsy. That is a "maybe biopsy" based on the doctor's appointment I guess.

I will be there. That doctor's appointment will be at the same office where she was told she had breast cancer. That alone, has some anxiety for her.

We are all believing everything will be ok. That is the mind talking. Funny how your body goes where your mind can't stop it.

For those who pray......pray.

For those who don't.......hold us in your thoughts.

Thanks..........hugs, Judy

Monday, May 30, 2011

Training Post #9 ... 3-Day for the Cure....My Personal Page

There seems to be a learning curve here and even a test of my patience going on today. The good news is I am still laughing.

Let's see if clicking on the link below will take you to my Susan G. Komen personal page.

http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?px=5787663&pg=personal&fr_id=1626

Training Post # 8 ... 3-Day for the Cure...Hope This Works!

After much teeth gnashing, nail biting, lip biting, tongue biting and enlisting Tom's help, (I had to install a new browser to get this to work because that is the browser that worked for Tom) I am now able to post the widget that will get everyone to the donation page. It is still not my personal page, which I really do want to be able to share, but it is more than I had seven hours ago.

Thank God I am laughing.

Anyway, I hope this works and I am going to test it now.

I might have to make a recording of me laughing. That would be so much better than a recording of me crying.

Here goes....................................Judy is going to click now......I think it works!

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen Twin Cities 3-Day for the Cure!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Training Post # 7.....3- Day for the Cure...The Last Two Days Were Hard But We Walked In The Sunshine Until The Sirens Went Off

(Walking In The Sunshine) by Roger Miller. I loved Roger Miller. Click to play.


The last two days were hard. Sarah and I walked ...what was it.... 11 miles yesterday. We did hills. We did going up hills. We did going down hills. It was the most hills I have done to date.

We walked outside until the rain came and the sirens sounded. We caught a ride home since the sunshine had ended and finished up at the Y in Sarah's neighborhood.

I went to bed early and slept nine hours. I woke up and wondered if I would be able to get out of bed.

I did get out of bed knowing I had 5 more miles to do today.

I had to talk to myself. I had to tell myself I could do it. I started getting ready to go to the Y. With each article of clothing I put on, I began to feel that I would be able to do it.

And, I did.

I did it.

Enough said.

I must not forget to say....I am training for the 3-Day for the Cure....a 60 mile walk in three days to raise funds for breast cancer.

I am walking for my daughter, Sarah, and so many others who were never given the chance to walk, for those who cannot walk for so many reasons, and for those who will come after us.

Sarah has learned of so many breast cancer patients whose breast cancer has mestastisized. The cancer has come back in their brains, their spines, their livers.

I pray there is a cure for this dreadful disease.

I can do something. I can walk. I can raise funds.

Oh, yes. I get tired. I am tired. But..............that is ALL I am.

I will walk. I will walk until I can't walk anymore.

I must raise $2,300.00 in funds to do this walk.

It is taking everything I have.

I am asking for your support. If you are able to make a donation, please consider doing so.

I will walk for your dollars. I will walk for my daughter. I will walk as far and as long as I can walk.

To make a donation...

1. Please click on the link below.
2. Then click on Donate to a Participant on the right.
3. Type my name into search for a participant.
4. My name will appear in a box as you scroll down.
5. Click on Donate now and go from there.

http://www.the3day.org/site/TRC/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?pg=peditor&fr_id=1626&px=5787663

I thought I had it figured out how to take you to my personal page so you could check my progress and make a donation, but alas, I seem to be in training for this too : ) I hope I get it figured out. There is a way to do it!

Thanks,

Judy

Friday, May 27, 2011

Training Post # 6 .. Second Post Today....Who Knew?


Who knew that I, Judy Wright, would ever be training for a 60 mile walk in three days?

I can tell you that if I had had a crystal ball 40 or more years ago, I could not have or would not have foreseen this.

My family knows me mostly attached to my recliner. They may even think it and I are one.

Close to 170 training miles later I only visit my chair now to rest and recover until the next walking day.

I have started defining myself as an athlete in the making. This could be a slight stretch, but I am finding humor is a pretty good companion as I train.

I read a quote that I like and think speaks to my "new" life.

"Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken." Frank Herbert.

The change that awakened me was not my little girl crying in the night, but the phone call I received that led to my daughter's diagnosis of breast cancer.

Oh, yes, this sleeper awakened.

And, I have found personal resources I didn't know I possessed, including my ability to train for this incredible walk that my daughter and I will walk hand in hand.

Let's do this!

One step at a time!

Please take a look at my personal page on the Susan G. Komen website and consider supporting me in reaching my $2300.00 goal in fund raising.

http://www.the3day.org/site/TRC/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?pg=peditor&fr_id=1626&px=5787663

Thank you...Thank you....Thank you!

Judy

Training Post # 5 ... 3 Day for the Cure ... Come Rain Or Shine

Come rain or shine Sarah and I will be walking August 19, 20 and 21st in the 3 Day for the Cure.

We have been training for weeks now. So far, Sarah says we have walked over 170 miles, and we have miles to go before we reach the finish line. Below are two pictures from one of our training days a couple weeks ago.





It was raining. Sarah called it a drizzle. I called it a torrential downpour with the wind whipping the ice cold pellets of rain in our faces. We had fun. We laughed. We said how good it was to be doing this together.

We are a team. We have been a team from the beginning of this journey.

This week our training looks like this....

Tuesday....walk 3 miles
Thursday....walk 5 miles
Saturday....walk 11 miles
Sunday....walk 5 miles

And, it goes up from here!

I'm getting better. I am in better condition. After walking my 5 miles Tuesday, I could still do lots of other things. The first day I walked 5 miles I think I was rendered useless the rest of the day.

Yep, I am becoming an athlete : )

At the bottom of my post you will find the link to my personal page on the Susan G. Komen website. You can check my progress in my fundraising efforts. I need to raise $2300.00.

I am coming along in this effort and I still need donations. If you are willing to make a donation, you can do this easily on my personal page.

Thanks ... Love ... Hugs ...

Judy

http://www.the3day.org/site/TRC/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?pg=peditor&fr_id=1626&px=5787663


Friday, May 13, 2011

Training Post # 4 .. 3-Day for the Cure

I wish I had a picture to put up but I don't. This week has been the hardest training week yet.

The total number of miles I must walk this week is 24. 24 miles.....24 miles....So far I have walked 19 miles. I have 5 more miles to walk on Sunday.

Each week I try and push myself a little more.

Thursday, I went to Sarah's house so we could walk 10 miles together. The hope was to walk 10 miles outside. It was raining and we had some time constraints, so we were only able to walk 4.2 miles outside.

This is not a small matter. It was the first time I have walked outside because it has been so cold out. So, the new things I did on Thursday were...

1. Walked outside on different surfaces
2. Walked at a faster pace, some of the time, because Sarah just walks faster
3. Walked up and down hills which is different than walking on a treadmill

When we couldn't walk anymore outside because it was raining, we drove to the local Y in Sarah's neck of the woods.

There I pushed myself a little more by increasing my pace. I did a little time at 2.9 mph which was new for me.

When I left Sarah's I still had 3 miles to walk at my Y. I continued to push myself and do the first 2 miles at 2.9 mph and then cut it back to 2.7.

I was so proud of myself. I walked ten miles total that day, walked up and down hills, walked faster more consistently and kept my good humor to boot. Lots to be said for keeping one's good humor : )

Tonight, after walking 6 miles today at my Y, my feet hurt and I am glad to just be able to sit and relax.

You know though, I am reminded in so many different ways, that no matter what my physical push is, no matter what aches or pains I feel, there is a truth.......and that truth never changes........

I get to do this.......I get to train........I get to walk.........I get to earn funds.......I get to push myself harder than I have ever pushed myself physically...I get to do this....

So many people don't get to do this.....their "get to" was snuffed out. All I get is tired and my feet hurt and I take a minute to straighten up when I get up from sitting down...but that is no big deal. No.........I get to do this!

A couple of days ago, I was at a 4-way stop intersection in my neighborhood. It was my turn to go. And, not one, but two cars sped through their stop sign. If I hadn't been watching closely I could have been hit twice.

Know what my first thought was?

I thought if I had been hit, how would that affect my training?

Would I be able to walk in August?

Yes, I get to do this! I want to get to do this!

I look in the mirror and see a person I haven't met before. Oh, make no mistake, she still has my body. But, her thinking and commitment to "walking the talk" and "talking the walk" is ever present.

When I walk on the treadmill, I still close my eyes when I feel tired and my feet hurt, and I just keep saying, "You can do this. I am so proud of you. Just keep going....left, right, left, right." And, I do.

And, when the end of the walk for that day is done, I smile.

I always smile. Because I did it.

I "got" to do it.

I still need financial donations to reach my $2300.00 goal. If anyone is interested and willing to make a financial donation, please click on the link below. You can check my progress and count yourselves as among the people who help lift my feet when they are tired.

http://http://www.the3day.org/site/TRC/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?pg=peditor&fr_id=1626&px=5787663

Thank you! Each and every one of you is important to me! Together, maybe we can make a small impact on a huge disease.

Hugs,
Judy

Monday, May 09, 2011

Training Post # 3...Videos From The Walk

I can only say what an incredible experience it was to walk in the Race for the Cure on Mother's Day.

I can only tell you that the spirit of Sunday's event was overwhelming.

I can only imagine what walking the 3-Day for the Cure in August will be like.

And, I can do my best to communicate what it was like to walk past the many supporters that came out and stood and waved and cheered all of us on.

I made eye contact with many of those people. Strangers. I had never seen them before and I doubt I will ever see them again. But, there was something about that moment when our eyes met and we exchanged smiles. They would say things like, "Keep walking!" "You can do this!" "Thank you!"

In those brief encounters between strangers a common purpose was felt. And, then we were not strangers at all. We became one. A lone man, sitting on a cement retaining wall, smiled as I passed, leaned toward me and said, "Happy Mother's Day!"

I am putting on a series of videos of the walk. I want to share the sound and as much of the atmosphere as I can.

I was so inspired by the day! I knew my decision to walk the 3-Day in August was the right decision. It's funny, but I felt a sense of quiet calm and confidence that my training will be ok somehow. I will make it. I will make it step by step. If my feet are moving, eventually a mile will be walked. That will only leave 59 more to go. And, so on and so on and so on!


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I hope you enjoyed the videos of the Race for the Cure.

Because every walker needs to earn $2300.00 in fundraising if you are willing to consider making a donation in support of my walking, you can go to the Susan G. Komen website by clicking on the link below. Every donation helps me reach my goal. Check my progress! Thank you!

http://http://www.the3day.org/site/TRC/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?pg=peditor&fr_id=1626&px=5787663

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Training Post # 2 Race for the Cure Mother's Day...Slideshow at Bottom


Yes, it was mother's day today, 2011. Mother's day, 2010, was lost. I can't remember where we were in the order of Sarah's cancer schedule, but I do know not one of us was thinking about celebrating mother's day. Life, as we had known it, had gone on hold.

Today was a celebration of survivorship. Today was a day to give back. Today was a day to walk amongst more than 55,000 cancer survivors and co-survivors.

Today was the Race for the Cure, a three mile walk at the Mall of America, that raised millions of dollars in funds for cancer research.

Why is this important for my training post?

It was the first time I have walked on something other than a treadmill in my training. I did well. I learned some things. I learned I can do this. I learned when you walk and come upon supporters standing on the side of the road banging pots and pans and waving and shouting their support, you forget about your feet. You forget about being tired. You lose touch with your body. All you see and hear is a throng of people that is sharing their energy with you. You can go on. You know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you can walk as much and as long as you have to.

Today, I got faith. Today, I got hope. Today, I got strength. Today, I got power. Not bad for a day's walk!

Today was the beginning of the 3-Day for the Cure in a sense. It was internal.

Today was about the Race for the Cure. Yes, it was.

But, more than that, today was about my daughter. I will walk for her. I will walk for so many others who were never given the chance to walk. We filled out a pink sheet, that on one side said, "In celebration of....," and on the other side said, "In memory of....". Yes, some don't get the option to walk. Sarah and I do.

I hope you enjoy the short slideshow I made from some of the pictures from today. The slideshow appears at the bottom of this post.

And, if anyone is willing and able to make a financial donation, it will be greatly appreciated. Each walker must earn $2300.00 to do the walk. You will find the link to my personal page on the Susan G. Komen site down below. You can donate there and you can check my progress as well.It is not for me, it is in support of me.

At the survivor's ceremeony, following the walk today, there was a woman who was a 65 year survivor. May God grant, if anyone is impacted by this dreaded disease called cancer, that they live a long and healthy life, albeit a new life. Life is never the same after cancer. My feet were sore after walking, but tonight they are fine. I am surprised at how well the training I have done is preparing me for the 3-Day for the Cure in August.

I am happy. I am proud. I am content. I am dedicated. I will walk for those who could not or cannot walk. I have never felt anything quite like what I experienced today. Who knows, I might just be an athlete in the making. What I do know, is the experience and memory of today, did a whole lot for my training. I hope you enjoy the slideshow!

http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?px=5787663&pg=personal&fr_id=1626



video

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Welcome To My World Of Training

I am sitting in my recliner aware of my aching feet. These feet have taken me, step by step, across 8.26 miles this morning. I am proud. I am happy. I went the distance. I didn't know if I could do it. And, I did do it. I am proud of myself.

I have been training for the last six weeks for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure on August 19, 20 and 21st. The 3-Day for the Cure is a, 60 miles in 3 days, walk to raise funds for cancer research.

Thousands of women and men do this walk because their lives have been touched by cancer. This is one way they can give back to all those who walked before them and hopefully give to those whose lives will be touched by cancer in the future.

My life was touched by cancer. I understand the need to give back. When my daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with breast cancer the day before her 42nd birthday I knew next to nothing about cancer. Now, I know more than I ever wanted to know about cancer.

We lost the year 2010 in the blur of her diagnosis, surgery, chemo treatments and follow-up appointments. Sarah is free of cancer now but we are not free from the effects of the last year. Cancer changes you.

Here is a picture of Sarah and me on her one year cancer free celebration cruise in March of 2011. She looks wonderful and is doing great!



I did everything with Sarah. I went to every appointment. I turned my front room into her recovery room. I still go to every follow-up appointment with Sarah. And, together, Sarah and I, with our friends, will be walking in the 3-Day for the Cure.

This is a huge commitment of time, energy, clothes, shoes and money. Each walker must raise $2,300.00 to do the walk.

I wanted to start sharing my training with people. I have never done anything like this before. I have not been a regular exerciser in my life. I am literally going from my recliner to the treadmill and/or the pavement overnight. Having people ask me how many miles I walked on any given day keeps me motivated. Having people say encouraging words to me makes me feel like I am not doing this alone. Sharing the victory of more and more miles walked as I train makes me feel like an athlete.

I smiled as I wrote that last sentence. God knows that the word athlete has never fallen into a paragraph used to describe me. But, at age 68, who knows! I guess there is still time to be known as an athlete.

So, welcome to my world....a new world for me.

I have learned they make spandex workout wear in my size. That alone is a little scary. I have learned about moisture wicking sports bras, underwear, shirts, shorts, capris, and did you know that there are a multitude of athletic shoes that a person has to learn about and try to see which kind works the best for your foot?

I am getting educated. I am training. I am walking. I am learning new things about myself. I am going to keep new posts coming on this blog because I need to share this incredible decision I have made to do this walk.

I am also going to include my personal page on the Susan G. Komen website so anyone who wants to make a financial donation will be able to do that. I am almost halfway to my goal of $2,300.00. You can also see the progress that is being made toward reaching that goal.

http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/2011/TwinCitiesEvent2011?px=5787663&pg=personal&fr_id=1626

Today was my biggest training day yet. I will walk six miles tomorrow, five miles another day, yet to be determined, and on Sunday, Mother's Day, I will be walking three miles at the Mall of America in the Race for the Cure Cancer walk.

Every time I walk I close my eyes and say, "I can do this". My daughter is alive. She is alive because somebody walked before she was diagnosed. Thank you, and I have made a decision and a promise to walk for others.

Please check back in to see how I am doing. Please give me words of encouragement. They mean so much!

And, if just 120 people donate $10.00 I will reach my fundraising goal. If 60 people donate $20.00 I will reach my fundraising goal. Breaking it down like that makes it seem possible.

And, now I am off to work.

Hugs,
Judy

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cruise One.....Cruise In Review

It is Thursday, March 10, 2011, the fifth day of Sarah’s cancer free celebration cruise, and I am sitting in the main room of the ocean suite Tom, Joe and I are sharing on the Carnival Glory cruise ship. Tom is out on the balcony rehearsing his music for the Chamber Choir concert he will be singing in the day of our return to real life. Joe has made his way into the lovely dressing room attached to the bathroom to get ready for the day. I am playing some music on my computer, and the cleaning crew, led by our wonderful personal steward, Wirat, (pronounced Wee to make it easy for us) will be here soon to clean and tidy our room. Wirat is wonderful! He comes with a sense of humor….lucky for us! (He told us when we say his name to only say one Wee…not two!)

You would think three fairly smart and competent senior citizens could navigate their way around a cruise ship without too much trouble. I guess that was expecting more of us than we could handle. It might not have been too much of a problem if one of us had remembered our room number. All of us knew it was on deck 7, but each one of us remembered different parts of our stateroom number.

As we wandered deck 7, I saw a nice young man and said, “Hi, we need help!” He asked if we needed to be let into our room. I said, “We do, but first we need to know our room number.” (We had our key card, but the room number is not on it for security reasons.) This is where being able to laugh at yourself comes in handy.

He took my key card and found our room for us and with a smile opened our door. It was only a short time later that he saw us come around the corner and called down the hall and said, “Come this way,” and made us all laugh. We have been good friends ever since.

We are docked today in Isla Roatan, Honduras. Sarah, Dave and Alyssa have gone off on a ziplining excursion. They will be gone for about 4 ½ hours. Davey, Derek and Jackson are in their fun kids programs at Camp Carnival and Tom, Joe and I are on duty in case of emergency. The folks at Camp Carnival give the parents cell phones in case they need to be reached. The three of us are hanging out on the ship for the day.

Yesterday, we all went on land in Belize. Interestingly, it wasn’t any one of our favorite days. It was stifling hot and humid and we mostly just saw shops and no real restaurants to sit down and eat. I did enjoy some of the shopping. They had some nice floaty sundresses I wish I had bought, and they had a flea market with some beautiful jewelry and wood carved figures of sea life.

We didn’t dock at the pier in Belize, but were transported on a smaller boat that rocked and rolled over the waves. It was a bumpy ride and I think it qualified as exercise if holding on and bouncing around counts. Looking around the boat you could tell the heat and humidity had taken its toll on everyone.

The day before Belize we stopped at Cozumel, Mexico. We all enjoyed seeing the shops and doing a little shopping, but the favorite part of our time in Cozumel was eating lunch in an open air restaurant. I was glad to see, printed at the bottom of the menu, the water they use is purified and double filtered for safety and our waiter assured us it would be fine.

Two musicians set up their Marimba close by and entertained us. Davey went up and put some money in their pot. Sarah and I each got a Marguerita and following lunch we found some chaise lounges and sat and watched the boats, the little boys played in the sand, we got some nice pictures and then we headed back to the ship.

I have never been on a cruise before. I have heard about them. I am thinking a cruise takes on a life of its own after a while. I think if you settle into the experience, the cruise will lead you. I don’t know if it is like that for everyone. Maybe it is. There is so much to do on a ship. You would never have to leave the ship to have something to do. When I leave our room, I am always glad to get back “home.”

Our stateroom has truly become home for the three of us. It is like we have four rooms. The bathroom, the dressing room, which has a closet and drawers as well as a dressing table and bench, (I have claimed that spot) the main living area which has sleeping accommodations for the three of us, a desk, closet and drawers and, finally our wonderful balcony.

We spend so much time on the balcony, day and night. The sky is always telling its story with the sun and the clouds during the day and the moon and the stars in the darkness of night. The ship makes its rushing noises as we move through the water and, in some ways; the rushing noises become another voice. When we dock they become silent.

It is 2:00 p.m. now, and Tom, Joe and I have had some lunch. On excursion days the regular restaurants are not open until dinnertime, but there is no worry we will starve. Food is available 24 hours a day somewhere on board. Follow your nose and you will find deli sandwiches, pizza, a Mongolian buffet, a plethora of desserts and soft serve ice cream.

We expect Sarah, Dave and Alyssa home soon and I am sure there will be much to tell about their zip lining outing. I, for one, am going to zip right out to the balcony. It feels really good to write a little bit about our week. It makes me feel like my family and friends are with me.

Sarah just called and said they are back safe and sound, that it was………….okay……….not all that great, and I would have hated every minute of it. Her assessment of my feelings is startlingly accurate because my daughter knows me! And, now I can breathe again.

Tomorrow we will hit Grand Cayman and we are all doing the Swim with The Stingrays…Visit Hell…and See The Turtles excursion. It is supposed to be the one thing to do in Grand Cayman. I expect there is a shorter name for this excursion but this is what I call it. A side note from Joe…..Joe just said…..”Except for Joe. I am not swimming with noooooooooooooo stingrays!” I don’t know what could be better than being in the water with hundreds of stingrays rubbing up against your body. At least, that is what I have heard. Truth be told, I have my doubts about it too!

It is 5:15 p.m….still Thursday, March 10.

We have left Isla Roatan and the afternoon was lazy and wonderful. I got into my jammies and shut the curtains and napped in the dark while Tom and Joe respectfully sat on the balcony. I woke in time to see what I might wear to dinner tonight.

The guideline is to look casual nice. I looked, with trepidation, at the clothes I had brought and wondered which ones would fit at this point in the cruise. If there is ever a next cruise I am bringing several sizes of clothes and will wear the small ones first and move up gradually.

Oh, the surprises that are in store for someone as they, not only cruise into new ports, but sail unabashedly into a new size of clothes, all inside seven days! It seems Tom and Joe are unaffected by this phenomenon. But, Tom says that is not the case. He says he and Joe simply brought bigger belts and still have a few notches left. I am somehow comforted by that.

A funny story about old people sharing a room….Tom came in from the balcony and said Joe was wondering why he couldn’t see. After twenty minutes of pondering his lack of eyesight, Joe figured out that he was wearing Tom’s glasses instead of his own. I won’t ask Joe to read the menu tonight. It really is good to be able to laugh at ourselves. I am loving this!

It is time to rock and roll to dinner now, and meet up with Sarah, Dave, Davey, Derek, Jackson and Alyssa. I fully expect to come back “home” with more stories to tell.

Back from dinner now……

You know some stories have action and some just don’t. Both Sarah and Dave agreed they were glad they went zip lining, but it didn’t have the “wow” factor they were looking for. They climbed many, many steps, did quite a bit of walking and it was hot. The little boys were tired at dinner but still want to go back to Camp Carnival to watch a movie.

Tomorrow morning the nine of us will be leaving the boat to do our Grand Cayman excursion. Tonight we will sleep to the gentle movement of the ship. We don’t always feel it. When I do, I think of it as being rocked or cradled.

Good night for now. Sweet dreams.

It is Saturday, March 12th. I am sick. I started getting swollen glands night before yesterday.

By the time we left for Grand Cayman yesterday morning I was running on low energy. As we were getting ready for the Stingray, Hell and Turtle Farm excursion an announcement came over the loudspeaker. There was a question mark about whether or not we would be able to do the excursion due to high winds and rough waters. We had to take a tender (the shuttle boat) from the ship to the pier and it is not always wise to do that. We sailed to a different side of the island though and all was well.

The reviews of the stingray part of the excursion were mixed. Derek thought it was awesome, Sarah and Dave loved it, Jackson spent some good time wrapped up in a towel on Joe’s lap on the boat, Tom enjoyed it, I could have lived without it and Davey thought it was a nightmare.

Essentially, this part of the excursion means you get in the water, which is really wavy and powerful, and the giant stingrays rub up against your body looking for food. Pieces of raw squid are provided for you to feed the stingrays. They advise you on how to do it so their powerful suction does not leave red marks on your hands. They also advise you not to touch their tails as that is where their stingers are. Between the words strong suction and stingers I was happy enough to get in the water to say I had done it, touch one stingray and call it a day.

For a more exciting review, I gratefully refer you to someone else.

Our visit to Hell was short lived. It is a small little town that has some gift shops and a post office so you can send postcards from Hell. There are areas that look like lava beds and that is about it. I took a picture of the lava bed like areas and a description of how it came to be that way.

The highlight of the excursion was the Turtle Farm and lunch. While we sat having a bite to eat Sarah spotted a beautiful peacock. Then we spotted three iguanas. Davey was in absolute heaven and by the time we left there, he said, “This was the best day ever!” So, for one little boy, at least, his day went from a nightmare to a dream made in heaven.

By the time we got back to the ship I was dragging. I stopped at the medical center and got some cough syrup so I could sleep last night. I may stop down there again today to see if they can dispense antibiotics.

Last night at dinner our waiters and waitress sang happy birthday to me. My birthday is March 16th. They brought me a lovely piece of chocolate cake with a candle. It was nice. If there is a halfway decent picture of that you will see me wearing Joe’s sport coat. I was so cold. Davey had put his little clip on tie on my dress and I probably look like I really did just return from hell.

Today is last day of the cruise and it is a ship day. We will hang out and pack up our things except for the things we will keep in our carryon bag. Our bags are collected tonight and we will have an early debarking in the morning in Miami.

Tom, Joe and I fly out of Miami Airport at 12:05 p.m. and will arrive home mid-afternoon. We pick up our car at MSP and Tom will head off to his chamber choir concert and Joe and I will head home.

I have many reflections about this trip.

I have moments that are the meaningful ones.

They don’t have to do with places.

They have to do with people.

They have to do with conversations.

They have to do with the looks on the children’s faces.

They have to do with Davey getting on my lap at dinner and sharing my sherbet with me.

They have to do with Derek’s excitement about the stingray excursion.

They have to do with Jackson reaching out at dinner last night and wanting to hold my hand.

They have to do with Tom, Joe and me enjoying our shared time together in our room, and our time on the balcony watching the water, watching the sky, seeing the moon and the stars.

They have to do with a conversation I had with Sarah yesterday, over the roar of the shuttle that took us out to the stingrays.

This was a celebration cruise. Sarah is cancer free. Sarah is alive. Sarah is still healing. I am still healing.

Yes, I have so many things left to say. Living with cancer and the endless journey you go on takes you places you don’t know exist until you get there.

Sarah…I love you.