Cancer Awareness Month

In a tribute to those we’ve lost to cancer and those who continue their brave battle, and to promote cancer research and awareness, I want to share how cancer has affected me personally.

No inspirational quotes today to prime the pump.  There is nothing which makes up for the loss of a parent, much less two.

My father died in 1969 as I was just beginning my journey into adulthood.  He died three weeks before his first grandchild was born.  So two people were deprived of the opportunity to know a man of character, honesty and integrity.  I believe my son would have benefited greatly from knowing his maternal grandfather who had a terrific sense of humor, a wonderful gift for storytelling, and an unshakable belief that family comes first and if you take care of the people you love, your family both of blood and friends who are chosen “family”, all other things will fall into their rightful place.

My parents were married after knowing each other only six weeks during World War II.  He abandoned his high school sweetheart, who’d promised to wait for him, and ignored the wishes of his family.  She outright defied the dictates of her strict parents and upbringing, for the man she fell in love with “the first time she laid eyes on him”.

They were married just shy of twenty-five years, when my Father became ill with cancer, and died six weeks after his diagnosis.

My mother survived the loss of her husband, known to be the love of her life, but barely.  The first year was the worst, and she suffered such a devastation of spirit, I thought we might lose her too.

They were madly in love with each other every day of their marriage and everyone around them knew just how it was for both of them.  The had a date every Saturday night and spent time with each other paying attention to their relationship as well as their family.

I learned different things from each parent, just the way it should be, and all the things they taught me were valuable lessons.  From my father I got three unbreakable life rules:  1) try to never lose your sense of humor, 2) value your education, 3) believe in the impossible, it makes things possible.

For several years after my Father’s death I still wanted to pick up the phone to share things he might agree with me were odd, or funny, and so I miss him still today, some forty odd years later.

During times of real stress, I know my Father is still with me, since I’ve seen his spirit in the house where I grew up.  I haven’t lost my mind, and I’m not the only one, my little sister still lives in that house and she’s seen him several times.  My Father, gone but not forgotten, still looking out for his loved ones.

So take a moment, share a thought, reminisce and use the link to donate to the cause.  Support cancer research and let’s working on keeping those loved ones close, as long as we can.

God Bless to all the Dads both here and in the hereafter.

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Digging Deep for a Lasting Foundation

Are you hitting just your stride at work, housecleaning or writing this fine day? With Thanksgiving right around the corner we’re all in a flurry to get things done before the family arrives, not to mention Nano is in the back of our minds. I’m not as connected to the outside world as I used to be when I worked a full time job, but last night as I watched the CMA’s I was blown away by Martina McBride’s song,  I’m Gonna Love You Through It, and her reference towards cancer.

Wow! I cried like a baby.

And in my solitary life completely forgot to mention anything about Breast Cancer Awareness Month http://www.nbcam.org/  in October.

Sure, I noticed all the NFL players wearing pink. I even made a mention to the DH numerous times about how wonderful I thought the gesture was. How awesome those big, burly men were supporting women by wearing pink ribbons. Unfortunately, I didn’t ever go any further than that.

After I regained my composure from crying over the song, I realized I needed to rectify that oversight. My family and friends haven’t been hit by this horrible disease.  None of us have had to worry about what this cancer did to everyday life and the families it devastates.

I can’t begin to say or express how thankful I am that my family and friends are well.

I tossed and turned all night long.

This morning I woke up and called the local church. I asked what I could do to help my community. How I could be a support to someone who needed help. There were plenty of people. Especially in an economy like the one we are in. I hung up the phone with a rush of gratitude and a sense of purpose.

 It wasn’t that I hadn’t wanted to help in the past. I guess it was because I didn’t think I could or that I didn’t have the time. I was wrong. I can help. A single kind gesture like holding hands and just being there helps bring comfort.

Thankful doesn’t begin to describe my feelings today.

Dig deep so when your foundation is rocked the walls will not crumble. Be it an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, a loss of job or cancer.

Remember you are not alone and you can make a difference. 

Summer

Blast From the Past to Inspire a Future

Recently I remembered a book from junior high and was actually able to find a library copy for sale on Amazon.  Published in 1987, the book, Will You Be My POSSLQ?  By Eve Bunting, is about a Catholic girl, Jamie, who has survived kidney cancer, and is now at UCLA.  She has a friend, Kyle, who needs a place to live and asks her to be his POSSLQ, Persons of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters.  It’s actually quite a cute book for the age group, a good first romance for young adults.

During the book, Jamie returns to the hospital where she received treatment, to comfort the other patients on the pediatric cancer unit, and includes a secondary character who is watching his 16 year old girlfriend die. Surprisingly this was not a part of the book that I remember, but it undoubtedly what sucked me in. 

Prior to getting hooked on bodice rippers and Scottish Highlanders *sigh* I was addicted to tragically sad books.  I loved a book that made me cry, not just wipe a tear, but sob out loud.  How better to achieve this to actually kill an innocent from something like cancer.  I’m sure a therapist out there would have some reason with my emotional need to cry, or the obsession with this type of book.

My favorite author, I think I still have the books safely stowed under my parents’ house, was Lurlene McDaniel.  She wrote a series called, One Last Wish, damn near every novel ended with a tragic but yet sweet loss of someone.  The first book was a romance where the girl has Leukemia and an awesome inheritance.  She creates a charity for those terminally ill children to grant one last wish, before she dies.  Oh yes, Kleenex are required to read this one.  All following books are individual stories of the children who get the last wish.   They detailed the struggles of being ill and young, but the courage and bravery to fight whatever sickness was going to take their life

So why I bring this up, it occurred to me that these stories pieced together who I am as a writer. My passion and purpose when writing a novel is to emotionally connect with my readers. I want to make them cry or grab their chest in anticipation when they think someone is dead.  I want them to squeal with my heroine when she gets her first kiss.  I seriously think my fundamental reason for telling stories is to get someone else to cry with me, with my characters, with something powerful enough it resonates deep within them.

I also think these books, these building blocks of my hopeful career, started me out with a flair for dramatics. I seriously love killing off a character, or putting them through so much emotional and physically hell it’s painful to imagine one more thing is even possible.  In one of my WIPs I killed off a character that made me cry for two days, his death still haunts me, but it made the story much more powerful.

I wonder how much of what we read as children/teenagers inspired us as adults, not only in what he currently read and write, but what we’ve chosen as a profession. What did you read as a kid that inspires you now as a writer?  If not a writer, what did you read then that draws you to a new book/author today?