Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trying Times!

A cancer diagnosis can change the dynamics of a  family. Without doubt, it changes the way we interact. It seems to me, as we journey through life, and through no fault of our own, we sometimes find ourselves right where we do not wish to be. I am thinking of myself, and many of my friends, as I say this.

There is a sadness in my heart as I write this post tonight, however I need to go back in time to set the scene. At the time of Jeremy's accident I was fortunate to learn about the potential of memorial websites. As I could find nothing in Australia, I set up a Memory-of  site which I think originated in the USA. While reading personal stories on other sites, I observed the amazing graphics that set these sites apart. I wanted that for my child and yet I had no idea how to go about achieving it.. I wrote and asked a family how they managed to have the precious photos of their loved ones converted  into keepsakes for life. I was then told about Angel Families Online. I immediately joined and found myself surrounded by the most amazing, caring, individuals going out of their way to ease the pain of the grief journey. As a way of finding an outlet for their grief, Angel Family members 'connect' with those of us struggling to come to terms with our loss, while at the same time lighting candles to help ease the pain and keep their Eternal Flame burning.

Little did I know at the time that I would also find the love, strength and support essential to me in my battle to beat this disease (cancer) and find quality in my daily life. If you imagine (for just a moment) our move to the farm, at the time of our retirement, and my cancer recurrence shortly after. It is all thanks to my online friends that I have not hit 'rock bottom' spiralling downwards into depression. It is my little band of friends, reading my blog, phone calls occasionally, lighting candles for Jeremy and leaving messages on FaceBook that bring joy to my days. With my disability, and unable to drive distance, I feel 'sort of' trapped at the farm. This is certainly a time to say 'thank you' for all that you do to get me through the days. I have formed such beautiful friendships in the blogging community also that I am quite excited at the prospect of using Nuance's Dragon Naturally Speaking software that will allow me to 'talk not type' for my entries. Once again, it is thanks to my blogging friends Alli and Spun Chops  that I have become aware of this software.

So, today it was a call from my very special Angel Family friend Kaz, with an update on yet another, recently diagnosed with lung cancer, that got me thinking about the effect of illness, and in particular cancer, on family members. In this case the patient is struggling to come to terms with the fact that she is estranged from her daughter at a time that she really wants to be able to enjoy, and share, the love that has always been there. I understand this situation as I found last year, while undergoing radiotherapy, it took enormous courage for my daughter to call me and tell me that she simply was unable to cope with my illness, and treatment, at that time. I appreciated her honesty, and, as difficult as it was for both of us, I understood her need to suspend contact for as long as it took. I knew that it was nothing to do with love, or lack of,  it was simply more than she could cope with at the time.

Megan lived on a farm with Ned and Bert after we moved from Lakes Entrance to Newcastle. Ray had wanted to make the move to be closer to his elderly mother as his illness progressed. This allowed Megan to keep her horses and not pay agistment. Today I was taken back in time to Ray's visit to Megan at the farm just prior to his passing. He asked Bert to take care of 'his little girl.' Megan was 18 when her beloved father died.  Bert was there for her when her own Dad could not be. She later had to deal with finding Bert face down after a massive heart attack. She put everything she could into CPR, doing her utmost to revive him and keep him alive until the ambulance arrived. Unfortunately, Bert did not make it. She was then instrumental in organising his funeral. She was also very close to Jeremy. Each Christmas he would do the 15 hour coach trip, on his own, to Lakes Entrance, where he would spend the Christmas holidays with Megan and the children. He also lived there for some time when he returned to live in Victoria after my breast cancer diagnosis. Quite simply, Megan has been too close to death for too many years. I understand how difficult it is for for her to deal with my illness. She is currently undergoing a 12 month treatment programme herself, and, for the first time in my life, I feel completely useless as a Mother. When I so desperately want to be there for her and the children, I am simply unable to take care of myself, let alone my family. My beautiful daughter understands this. She recently posted on my FaceBook  wall:
......'I love you ma xox and i miss you terribly I wish we lived closer and you were in my life every day, i would chop all your vegies and feed you like a queen and be your other arm.. my kids would be everything else and I have an 8 seater wagon which means i could drive you everywhere x0x I LOVE YOU'

Tonight I give thanks for my life, knowing that I may use the gifts that you bring to our friendship enabling me to grow to be the person I would most like to become. I am grateful for the many blessings that come with your friendship.  Love and gratitude dear family and friends. You are teaching me well.


Anonymous said...

Reading this with tears streaming down my face and an ache in my heart. But also with a renewed realiziation that we do not always know or understand what's going on in other's hearts & minds. I thank God everyday for the love and understanding of my online friends!Sending you much love and lots of prayers my sweet friend. Hoping one day we will meet and share some of that Mexican casserole. Much love and lots of hugs being sent to you from your friend in Texas!

Kaz said...

Chez powerful story,lots of heartaches in both journeys but lots of love there also frim family and dear friends and and a extended angel family that will last longer then we live,I believe..

Thanks to memory-of for bringing us together with lots os other parents going through the journey.

Love and very much cherish friendship always..gentle hugs xoxo

Sorry about the journey Meg is walking through. Chez with your words of widsom you will be right there with her..xo

Carole said...


I found this to be both an emotional and uplifting post. You write beautifully and I love reading your thoughts.

The support we find from strangers at times of need in our life is simply amazing. People with their own battles ongoing who are taking time to talk to others and make them feel valued.

It never ceases to amaze me how many truly beautiful people there are in the world, selfless, motivating and inspiring - and you are definitely one of them Chez.
Sending much luv to you xxxxx

Samantha said...

You are such a caring and understanding woman. Always finding the positive in life's hardest situations, just like my mom did.

When my mom's cancer came back, I was just about to graduate from high school and head 2.5 hours north for school that fall. Our distance made our relationship even stronger. We talked on the phone daily and learned so much about each other. We saw an entire different side of one another, and it is truly when I realized how deeply lucky I was to have her. Even distance can provide you with a chance to strengthen bonds-- just like you have found with your online friendships. I hope you and your daughter are able to continuously express how much you mean to each other. It is such a blessing to hear!

Futomara said...

It is often difficult to see the good when we are dealing with things that seem not so good, so painful. I once learned that with every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit. I try to always remember this.

Chez, I firmly believe our purpose is to serve one another. I truly hope my suggestion of Dragon's Naturally Speaking opens new opportunities for you and improves your quality of life. However, it does have a learning curve. But, if being able to express yourself is therapy, than think of how much more you can express yourself when your computer types what you say.

You mentioned you like visiting my blog because you never know what to expect. My blog is a form of therapy for me. And yours is a blog I come back to because I feel we have become a new kind of friend. Blog buddies. I truly appreciate you!

Starry said...

you have written this beautifully Chez, as usual, but this has particularly made me open my heart to Meg. As you write about your experiences, you bring all your family members to life for those of us who have not met them. I truly appreciate all the incredible things you have as a family and individuals, experienced.
I know God loves you all, as do I xoxox Starry

nancyspoint said...

CHez, I am amazed at how you continue to handle your life's trials. I agree, cancer changes family dynamics, at least at times.
I'm glad you have found so much support through blogging. And what a beautiful message you received from your daughter!!

diane said...

You do have such a difficult life and yet you always try to find the good things that you have. Well done, soldier. Hopefully more good things will come your way in the future.

Chez said...

I am definitely (Futomara) overcome with your response to this entry. Because I have been unable to get straight on to replying individually I ask that this general response suffice for today. That will allow me to move on to the next entry ASAP.
It is rather rewarding, and humbling, to read your thoughts. Your kindness makes writing a pleasure.
With gratitude... Chez

Rose Mary Saraiva said...

Chez, this is a beautiful post, so full of love. I remember when my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma, my brothers and I didn't know what to say or do. It took a while for it all to sink in. Distance can be difficult, but love finds it way. Love knows no boundaries, overcomes all obstacles, and it always finds it's way home. And I agree with your sentiments about the online communities, I have met so many wonderful people whose wisdom, strength and courage have helped and guided me. You being no exception. Your inner beauty radiates in your words. May God continue to give you strength. Love, Rose Mary xoxox