murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: Loyalty

I am Titanium

Over and over recently, I’ve
been told to listen for strength, power, language, music, signage, and energy to give me what I need….when needed.

Well, as Karma would have it, the Sia song, “I am Titanium” keeps swirling around me….in my car, at work, movies, at home (while ignoring housework), and now today in a auditorium full of teenagers and dance moms …..

Does a higher power work through varying means to capture our heart and attention?

As I sit alone at my daughter’s dance competition (yes and laughingly, in dance mom wearables – and no, not a Velour jumpsuit), ‘I won’t give up….even if the sky’s get rough’ fills the auditorium as I type this. (Have you read previous posts? Lol. Was this song choice for me?)

The messages do speak to us.

I AM titanium. Do all the young girls in this auditorium hear the same message, meaning we are in charge! We make personal choices every day. We love. We lose. We laugh. We are.

My girl makes me immensely proud and swells my heart with genuine, from the depths of my soul, joy (ironically, that is different than cheerleader joy). All the fatigue and temperature issues that come with this damn sickness escape my attention when she shines that smile. If only I could work half days and enjoy her over-lip glossed smile every full work day, this next month would go quickly and painlessly.

Cheers to all moms, sisters, daughters, friends, nieces, grandmas and cousins who don’t yet see they too are titanium.

Because you rock.

Mel

P.s. I have redeemed my ‘dance mom’ concerns with a black T-shirt that says, ‘if dance was any easier they would call it football’. (My journalism self is choosing to ignore the lack of punctuation.)

wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium_ore

“The well lived life of a beautiful young man.”

Privileged to work for the kind, loving colleagues, I do, I was again reminded today what is important in our lives.  Priority.  Love.  Family.  Faith.

As I embraced both heartache and celebration of a true hero’s life today -a near 16-year-old boy who has endured, battled, embraced, taught and loved through 8+ years of Leukemia, I was reminded that while my own challenges through mud continue, others too have their own muddy mountains that slip and slide.  We also have hands that reach for us in the dark, heal our heart over time and with amazing courage, love us through darkness and light.

We were not surprised that this young man indeed “practiced what he preached” as his dad shared that M’s words to his middle school graduates just a year ago included the following:….(messages from which we all should live and take on our individual journeys…)

1.  “Help others with disabilities.”  They are not defined by the disability.

2.  “Contribute to your community.” M was always in the corner of the disadvantaged.

3. “Always be kind to one another”.  Kindness matters.

We were graciously offered that M. knew “the power of his purpose was to inspire others to do good”.  And how can you not want that when seeing those bright eyes and big grin flash a spirit so real, piercing and full of faith and adventure, even through fatigue, challenge, change and the unknown?

Cancer is a curse and a blessing, and this young, amazing and ingenious man knew and lived this through his Faith and sharing that which he felt with others.  “It is a curse because of the suffering. It is a blessing because of what flourishes from its presence.”

And finally, what struck me most personally, was a line that flashed on a beautifully prepared memorial video on M.’s life. “Family means never being left behind or forgotten.”  

My friends, love those in your life today.  Ensure they understand you will not leave them alone when frightened and unsure of the journey ahead.  Pray. Hope. Believe. Love. And fierce, fierce loyalty always, as this brave family has done for their sweet M.

We are honored to have known you, M, or know those who love you.  We are stronger for the gifts you have given and the messaged coins you have showered upon our hearts.  We are gifted your presence and belief in a higher power that “asked” you to suffer for a reason I believe you know today in a more peaceful setting.

Today touched me, and I am thankful from a place that even I don’t understand.

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – Albus Dumbledore.

Om shanti, my young man.  Some day we will meet, and you will tell me how and why the mountains make us whole again.

Melissa

My mom. My superhero.

She always believes in me. The real me. The authentic me.

My mom, my superhero. She just knows.

She loves who I am. At two. At 10. During puberty. At 17 and taking me to Mizzou J-school for the first time. In my early 20s when I married my daughter’s dad not knowing what marriage and parenting truly entailed. As my career evolved, and I called home from all over the world.

She embraced every adventure as if she was next to me on the plane, and closed her eyes and sent me white lights when I made choices that a mom can endure but can’t stop……(parasailing in a foreign country, being the passenger on the back of a motorcycle in cities far away from home, working a trade show with a shooting, being ill in Tokyo, Vegas, Mexico and other distanced cities all alone, living away in Summers in college with strangers on Long Island and loving NYC on weekends with other adventurous and underage 19 year olds, enjoying my share of New Orleans and many a trip with the college girls- even when missing the state lines. Lol.)

She gave me the courage to be who I am, and the guts to rock some adventures most folks wouldn’t consider.

She has empowered me to speak my mind in light of conflict and challenge, and be the person I am meant to be. She taught me to be strong, speak up and laugh along the way.

It is because of her I am able to take on anything and know – with my whole heart- I will not just survive ….. but own.

It is because of her I am not afraid.

It is because of her that I want to be stronger, better as a friend and mom and a new me. A healthy me- both in body and mind, heart and soul.

When my daughter was born, mom held her for the first time and looked at her as if that single loving moment could never be enough or more powerful. When divorce followed, she held my hand and cried with and for me. When the wild side of being single and newly divorced hit, she laughed along with girlfriends at my misadventures. When dating the wrong boys went on and on, she kept laughing, only now, she was sharing with her own circle of women friends. They laughed too. When the cancer came, she held it together, but I know privately she grieved for me.

She always believes in me.

Most folks don’t know she has a bachelor’s in political science and a minor in Russian from the University of Illinois. She taught school in inner city Chicago during the riots while dad was in law school. And when her own world faced challenge, she followed her own life’s path change and worked full time concurrent to achieving a master’s in social work to start her own FT private practice in psychotherapy. She rode her bike across Ireland in her 40s, started a band (the aging hippie band) and climbed the Grand Canyon in her 50s.

She embraces friendship and love as most people never fully appreciate. And as her own wise circle of women friends would concur, she is lovable, artsy, quirky, incredibly bright, cultured, polished and an amazing feminist woman to adore and idolize.

She is my superhero.

I am grateful, blessed, honored and only hope, I too can give my own sweet girl the same gift some day.

Om shanti…..
M

Never will I be a shrinking violet. Results..the day after the scan.

‘She believed. She could. So, she did.’ – unknown (but purchased at Hallmark 🙂

I had a dream last night. In it, I am walking alone though a set of unknown streets that don’t exactly feel safe, but I don’t see anything that is wrong either. I am alone and don’t feel directly afraid of any one thing in a way that makes me want to run, just a quicker walk to where I need to be. I keep moving, and as I get close to a door, a few people I call my “outsiders” in this dream walk me through to a safe auditorium. I don’t know them, but they feel familiar and most of all, safe.

I woke up.

Now, with a mom who is a psychotherapist and asks me if I’m stressed when I answer the phone with “hello”, I tend to overanalyze, and as such, it made me wonder. Who were these “Outsiders” in this dream, and why was I instantly safe in their company when alone I wasn’t so confident? I didn’t even need my dream book.

They are you. All of you.

See, the dream came last night just after I learned the best news I could possibly hear in this cancer nightmare…I learned my thyroid cancer is contained to the thyroid region only. It had not spread anywhere else in the body. I sobbed – as did my girlfriends who held my hands next to me- both before and after.

Do I get to ring the bell that says cancer-free yet? No, I have blood tests and more blood tests, another body scan and perhaps more treatment, but for today, I am contained and the radioactive iodine will work on the “bad” cells for months. (no worries, I will no longer be a threat to glow when sitting next to you 🙂 But that bell will ring, my friends. And I will eSend each of you a violet on that day and hand them out to the room of staff and friends and family as a thanks for your love, grace, prayers and peace. In fact, you are all invited to the event.

There has been so much said to me in the last few weeks, I can’t even begin to share the amazing sentiments and stories presented my way. We all have “stuff”. We just do. Some ask for help and are rewarded, others suffer privately and work from within. That’s ok. But don’t hide or cocoon for too long.

Even my Bath and Body Works “stress free” body wash says, “Breathe deeply for best results.” That is yoga in a nutshell. No wonder I crave the mat. And that packaging designer likely didn’t know the translation would end up here. What’s great is that my favorite packaging designer, Jodi (who works for a food company that freaks out over a picture of pork chops), said “I have every confidence you will bitch-slap this.”. Love that too! Both are real and raw and say something that kicks us into reality. Life just happens, and we sit in a corner, or we “Fight on” like my friend, Dan said. Or Laurie from SEB who quoted Oprah for me, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you really want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

A lovely old friend from grade school reminded me “we are girl scouts and the one thing we learned is how to survive. Never forget to stay fierce” That rocks, Ms. Leigh Ann Broyles-Roberts.

That’s what my “Outsiders” did. 100’s of you. My circle of loving friends who are always there for me, and in this instance yesterday, Lisa Lindley Durzo, Teresa Helms Ellison, Kim Kastel Hackney and Kirsten Waal Newquist, Michelle Foley (via phone, text, and FB ‘on the spot’ addict). They loved me and held me up in what- thus far- has been my darkest hour. They will stand at my side in one year when we ring the bell together with my daughter and family next to me. They got up at 6am and drove my arse over to STL not knowing what would happen, or what we might face- but the “girl power” as Lisa says would get us all through. And she was right on.

Was this a nightmare or a gift? Is cancer a wakeup call to make change? Was it meant to show me that “outsiders” are not out side at all? Certainly, I am facing some additional challenges separate from this health issue, but I will not shrink in that area either. I will move forward regardless of what happens outside of my hoola hoop. Never have I nor will I be a shrinking violet.

A new and wonderfully loving nurse friend, Sue Beeler, shared an original comment that should be a prayer in its own right (and I will find a way to market its use in some way at HSHS), but her words inspire, “Think from a place of peace, act from intention, do with grace, and you will be ok no matter the situation.” (copyright, Beeler, 2012.)

As with any scary health illness, cancer is a personal story -so personal and experiential, a person is never again the same…..And I suspect for anyone who crosses its path as friend, partner or family.

At least for me, the gift of the outsiders- YOU- have changed my path forever. 🙂

Namaste’ (the divine in me blesses the divine in you.)

Mel

P.s. Matt Damon, Emelio Estevez, Scott Baio, Patrick Swaze, Tom Cruise…they have nothing on any of you. The swirl of a gift that came with the friends at my side so I would not be alone, prayers, love, wishes, notes, incredible shares, electronic posts, emails, cards, flowers, gifts (yeah, folks give gifts when you get cancer….I had no idea. Next time, I will hint sooner for a car.) Love to you all.

Fierce Loyalty. It is our choice to give.

When I started this blog, my goal was fun and upbeat, but this past weekend of seclusion, due to the now complete radioiodine treatment, forced me to think more pensively.  This is life and what makes us real. I’m done hiding behind a pretend “everything is fine”. Sometimes, things just hurt.  And well, these last few months have indeed hurt.  A lot.

On my FB and Twitter pages last week, I wrote “Fierce loyalty is a rare, rare gift.” Several people “liked” but one friend privately disagreed.  He said no, fierce loyalty is simply, “Faith”.  He may be right, Faith is likely one of the fiercest of loyalties, but not everyone experiences in such a deep, thoughtful way, nor do they look at a higher power from his perspective.

When my former mother-in-law passed away after 25+ years living with Multiple Sclerosis, I felt something-perhaps Faith- sitting in Blessed Sacrament’s beautiful chapel. I was sitting alone and just felt something.  In retrospect, it was likely “faith” or some awareness, yet unknown to me of fierce loyalty.  Mollyanna’s grandma had been in nursing home for 10+ years, never known her granddaughter except with a teardrop or eye movement -but not in the sense to hold her or cuddle as a grandma should. But the loyalty wasn’t about her, it was about family.  Molly’s great grandma, Nell, her  grandpa Jim, her uncle ,Tim and her dad were at a Lebanon nursing home 25 minutes from their home EVERY day for those 10+ years so she would NEVER eat a lunch or dinner alone.  And she couldn’t speak back, likely didn’t have much in the way of cable and never shared a meal.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

Loving your child with your whole heart and knowing that you would do anything in the world to protect them.  That’s love, that’s fierce loyalty. I would give my life for my girl, never move away from her for a job, and I would work any job possible to keep her healthy and thriving. I am the parent and will do what I think is best.  Will she likely need a psychotherapist some day to work through all this madness I have swirled about us? Yes, but you know what, I will pay for that too- as it was me – not her- that caused the swirl.  She is the best gift I was ever given, and I tell her every day.

I firmly believe if my Grandma Sterling had passed before my grandfather, he wouldn’t have lived for very long without her.  He couldn’t tell you what he had for breakfast, but he could tell you about the one room school-house where they met.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

A friend and minister recently shared some private stories about experiences that happened while in seminary that made her question God and why difficult things happen to us when we ask only for love and try our darndest to do our best for a higher power.  After much discernment, she stayed true to the ministry and is today one of my favorite ministers of all I’ve seen preach.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

My best girlfriend from the second grade will take me tomorrow to hear the results on the total body scan knowing full well it may be wonderful or devastating.  She is a single, professional mama working two jobs and going to school and still put me ahead of everything because she knew I needed her.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

We all make our own beds in the morning (or not), and we all wake having the day to make our own.  What we do with it is ours.

Loyalty is our choice to give…or not.

I am not in a good place right now.  I am sad and very, very scared. And I fully admit to needing help.  But I continue to breathe, pray, love my little girl and wish for fierce loyalty from the people who cross our paths.

Namaste’

It’s radioactive Friday. Iodine tastes better than a pre-colonoscopy beverage.

FB, Twitter and the email world have shown me love and healing I never dreamed.  I wish I could hug Steve Jobs and that Zuckerberg dude directly.  Wow- thank you to the now hundreds of notes and stories, prayers and eHugs that have come my way.  And check out the jpgs at the end of this post..priceless….

I am officially radioactive but no superpowers yet.  Go to your window and look for the glow.  It might be an early Mardi Gras bead being thrown high in the air of STL parties, but it could just be me. (They said superpowers take a few weeks to kick in. At that point, look for a pink sparkle cape and a big smile.)

Today was the (first) treatment.  It’s called radioiodine therapy*, and it is specifically used to treat Thyroid Cancer.  The anxiety is much worse than the actual beverage.  It’s small and doesn’t taste much more than a little aluminum foil mixed with warm tap water that has been sitting on the kitchen sink too long.  So, really, in the big picture, not a big deal and oh sooooo much better than that which you drink before a colonoscopy.

I love however that the nurse in the room puts on all these clothing protectors and big rubber gloves, but they put a small white paper cloth over my chest (with tape in the back no less) and I sit in my skinny jeans and pink sweater waiting to start.  Not even glasses. Seriously?  Oh well, I guess drinking it is much worse than losing a pair of my favorite Dansko shoes.

Course, we are talking about radiation in a contained lead package that has to be ordered from another facility and isn’t housed in the hospital for safety reasons. Literally. They have to order it once the patient has the consultation to ensure they will go through with it because it is so expensive and well, you know…radioactive.

They also actually measure my radioactivity before I leave AND after I set off an actual Geiger counter. For real! She takes out a human size ruler, stands far away, students are watching, a loud buzzer is going off, and they are watching a Geiger counter score the success of the treatment in my body. Freak’n science, incredible! (Mr. Gattung at OTHS would be so proud of me. And I only remembered his “vette” (meaning chevet). I should really get that A now.) (Thank goodness my brother, HJ, is a PhD radiochemist to explain what I ingested to my parents in a way that doesn’t scare more than necessary.)

Regardless, we go back Tuesday for a total body scan to determine if the tumors have spread beyond the right (and to my surprise, also left) thyroid lobe.  All were in fact papillary so if “you are going to have thyroid cancer, this is the best you can have”.  Comforting.

I will know partial results after that scan and on that day.  There will be blood work in six weeks and six months, plus any additional treatments pending next Tuesday’s total body scan, meaning more scans every one to five years for the rest of my life depending on what we find.

This on top of my every three-year colonoscopy.  Bazinga!

MU alum is kicking cancer's ass!

! 

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine-131#Medical_and_pharmaceutical_uses

** MU Live Strong logo…http://instagr.am/p/mWfOC/

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