Tag Archive: cancer


smokers

Let me begin with a disclaimer: What follow is not true of all smokers. In fact, most of the smokers I know are very much not like this. But I strongly suspect we will all know exactly who these particular offenders are. The signs will be your head nodding along as you read this, or your fingers starting to, on their own accord, clench into the angriest of fists if you’re actually shouting out loud, “Yes! Morons!” before you get to the end of this piece, then this disclaimer is not for you.

I should also probably add that I grew up in a very different time. When smoking was seen as cool and it was the norm. Cigarette companies made the very best of ads showing us all that being a smoker equated to being a rally driver or an excellent skier and that it definitely was the reason all those smoking hot women (and smoking, hot women) were lining up in the club to be with you.

It’s not like that any more. Times have changed and now the smokers are the pariah and have been pushed to the fringes of society. We get to do the looking down our noses at them, and they for the most part keep to the side and stay out of trouble.

Except they don’t, do they?

Exhibit A: the freely distributed second-hand gift of death

A little too dramatic, you think?

Well yes, and no. This has certainly been attended to largely by the fact that smokers are not able to smoke in nearly as many places as they used to be. And it was definitely more in the days of the free-for-all where a smoker could sit next to you at a bar and pretty freely blow smoke in your direction. Which I have never understood. Especially when studies started to emerge that pointed to second-hand smoke being even more deadly than taking it in directly. “Excuse me while I blow some potential cancer in your face!” Except they would rarely ask, and it was often just a given.

I imagine the same person may have had some sort of a problem with me if I had sat next to them on a bar stool one day and then suddenly turned to them and spat directly in their face. Oh, and did I mention that I had a spit-borne disease? Whole different story and social norm, right? And yet, in many ways, pretty much the same thing.

The ‘polite’ request of, “Sorry, but do you mind if I smoke here?” hardly that far removed from the idea of me turning to someone at a social gathering and saying, “Would you mind if I proceeded to empty this bucket of rooting fish in your lap?”

Exhibit B: if it has my lip prints on it, it’s not littering

This is a phenomena I truly don’t understand. To be honest, I just struggle to get my head around the okayness of any form of littering. But this feels like all of that, plus.

And it seems to be largely car-enduced. Sure, there have been times when you see a smoker walking in front of you and they casually toss their butt into the street. That happens. But more often than not, it seems to be while you are driving behind a car, sometimes at pace but more normally at a traffic light, that the hand appears out the window and flicks the cigarette butt into the road.

Butt.

But…?

Butt!

In what universe…

In which culture…

In whose norm…

…is that kind of behavior possibly okay?

I’ll give you a clue. The answer is NO-ONES! As in never ever ever is it okay. It’s just not.

Stop. It.

And the best part is that i don’t think they see it as littering. (Forget fire hazard, let’s not even go there, although that does add a more sinisterly illegal kind of flavor to this whole thing). I don’t know how I know this, but I do. It’s just one of those coming of age gut feeling knowledges that life bestows upon you…

It’s like their lives are divided into two categories:

[A] things that might be considered litter and put into rubbish bins, and,

[B] cigarette butts!

There is something inside of them giving them the signal that this kind of behavior is alright. Even normal.

Anyone’s fingers clenching?

News Flash miscreant. It is NOT okay!

cigarette

Your smoking near me and sending your smoke in my direction, politely requested or not, is an unwanted, literally in my face affront.

And your tossing finished cigarettes out of your car window is littering. It is illegal. It is wrong. It is every kind of pathetic and infuriating and it needs to stop.

It needs to stop now.

And no butts.

noemiThe domino moment…Most of you have experienced some sort of ‘domino moments’ in your life which you will never forget. Some are good, some are bad but that single moment shifted your life and changed it forever.

Our moment happened sitting in a hospital room and being told that our 4 year old daughter Zofeya had a brain tumour.

The world around you crumbles and although everything has changed in this single moment, you know one thing for certain, nothing will ever be the same again.

As a parent you struggle to comprehend the reality of the situation and pray it’s all a mistake with the MRI scan results. How could Zofeya have a brain tumour if the only symptoms she had was difficulty with her balance and co-ordination? She wasn’t in pain, behaved normal and displayed no other signs that something had changed.

Within hours we were transported via ambulance and blue light to Addenbrookes, a specialist hospital and the speed in which everything is happening around you is also the speed in which you get catapulted into a world you were barely aware of, the world of oncology…the world of childhood cancer.

How was I to know that in the UK alone every day 10 children get diagnosed with cancer and how would I have ever guessed that this will not be a statistic for us anymore,…it will be us.

The days after Zofeya’s diagnosis are a blur of consultants bombarding you with tons of information in a strange ‘oncology’ language and the many life and death decisions you have to make as parent in regards to your child’s life. On top of everything you have a four year old who just wants to go home as she doesn’t understand yet that her life will never be the same and you have another older child who is suddenly staying with friends or family while you have ‘moved’ into hospital.

Family and friend support is crucial and we informed some to pray for us who passed on the prayer request. We were overwhelmed with the huge support and this is how Zofeya’s blog came into existence (www.zofeya.dorgu.com). I did not have the strength, time or words to reply to everyone in person so my brother created this blog as means of communicating with the world outside our hospital room and I made the decision to be as honest and real about our situation as possible

But even with this decision, some moments can’t be expressed in words and since my camera was already my chosen communication tool I also decided to record Zofeya’s journey with photography and open up the door to allow outsiders a glimpse into the world of childhood cancer and how it can look like. It’s a challenging world, filled with tears, prayers, hard decisions and questions. Surprisingly it’s also filled with hope, sheer determination and I have never encountered truer courage than in those kids who are fighting for their life and still smile and play whenever they are able to.

Before Zofeya’s brain surgery we were allowed home for a few days and tried to spend as much quality family time as possible. How do you prepare for the day when you have to trust your child’s life into strangers hands and know you will be begging God to allow you to spent more time with your child? As a parent you are torn between screaming at God, begging, not understanding and only wanting to cry (of course not in front of your kids). God spoke to me about trusting him with all my heart and not depending on my own understanding (Proverbs 3,5) but I tell you what he was asking of me was the hardest lesson I had to learn, to trust him with the most important thing in my life, my family, the people I love.

Zofeya’s operation was the longest and hardest day of our life. All you do is pray and wait. No one can tell you how long it will take, what the silence after many hours of operation means and if you will see you child again. After 8.5 hours of major brain surgery we finally got the call that she was out of the theatre and we ran through the hospital to be finally able to see Zofeya again. Your heart breaks to see your child in terrible pain and over the next two days Zofeya was diagnosed with Posterior Fossa Syndrome and lost all abilities to move, communicate and even smile. Nothing quite breaks your heart as parent than your helplessness and your child’s eyes looking at you with pain and broken trust that you let this pain happen and didn’t protect them.

To cut a long story short, Zofeya’s was diagnosed with an aggressive medulloblastoma brain tumour (you only find out after surgery) and our long treatment journey started. 30 daily radiotherapy sessions under general anaesthetic and more than a year of chemotherapy as well as re-learning to walk, communicate and working on fine motor skills. We’ve been on this journey for more than 17 months and during this time our life revolved around little control, blood counts, treatment, hospital appointments, low immunity and daily feeds (Zofeya stopped eating last year). You have to accept that your childs future has changed and your child will never be like before her diagnosis anymore. She will have to live and cope with the side effects of her Posterior Fossa Syndrome and treatment and live under the shadow of possibility, that her cancer can return.

Since the 24/11/14 Zofeya is in remission (no traces of cancer are seen on her scan result) and slowly we are trying to reclaim our life again.

So what have I learned from the last 1.5 years?

  • Cancer sucks (excuse my language). It isn’t fair, can affect anyone, at any age and until there is a better treatment will most likely change your life and the lives of those who love you or the person affected by cancer, even if they come out the other end and are in remission.
  • It’s o.k. to question God, to be angry with him and to have a lot of unanswered questions. I’m pretty sure he wants you to be real and trust me, you will go through a lot of emotions.
  • One of the best advice given to me was that God will help us through and give us enough endurance and strength for the next months, weeks, days and sometimes hours alone.
  • This diagnosis will change your life and you can’t face cancer alone. Allow your family, friends, church and community to help you through this difficult time.
  • You will become an expert at this strange oncology (cancer) language but remember that not everyone knows what you’re talking about when you mention Hb, WBC, platelets, NG tubes, Hickman Line, Neutropenia, flushes, lumbar puncture, cannula and nil by mouth.
  • Find a way to express yourself and work through what is happening to you, your child, family member or friend diagnosed with cancer. For me Zofeya’s blog and photography was a way to stay sane.
  • Even when you manage to finish your treatment and are in remission only few people will truly understand that you are far from ‘back to normal’ and actually have to rebuild a ‘new normal’ from the broken pieces of your life. Someone once told me that a cancer diagnosis is comparable to a natural disaster; it’s all about survival. Once the disaster is over you are dealing with the aftermath of it, rebuilding your life with or without the special person you fought so hard for.
  • There will always be some unanswered questions. We have met some families whose kids lost the battle to cancer and we will never know why God sometimes answers our prayers and sometimes stays quiet. The same counts for when you see newborn babies fighting cancer. But it’s o.k. We don’t need to understand everything. We just need to pray for enough strength to get through this time and trust that God doesn’t just love me but also loves my child even more than I do.

[To read more about Zofeya, take a look at her blog over here]

[For more Taboo Topics stories related to Cancer, click here]

rings

Kev and I met in 2000, and started dating shortly afterwards.

In 2002 I was diagnosed with a (thankfully non cancerous) tumour on my pituitary gland situated in the centre of the head just below the brain and behind the nose and eyes. Over the next few years Kev was a great support through numerous tests and scans and especially when I had my first brain surgery in 2004. After seeing the doctor a few months after my surgery we got engaged believing that the worse of things were over and we could now start a new part to our lives together and leave this in our past as stronger people. The doctors had all said that in only 1% of cases the tumour returns and they felt that I would not fall into that 1%. In May 2005 we got married and were both reasonably young as I was 22 and Kev was 25.

In the October of 2005 I started feeling sick but due to the symptoms of the tumour being similar to pregnancy we got a little scared as we’d always discussed being married for 5 years before having kids but knew that if I was pregnant it was in God’s hands and all would be fine.
I went to my GP and he did a few blood tests including testing for pregnancy and checking other bloods that would indicate if the tumour was back. A day later when the GP phoned me back I was unprepared to hear his words telling me he thinks the tumour is back.

What followed was more scans and tests to confirm what was my worst fear and it was found the tumour had returned. The doctors then tried a medication which was supposed to keep the tumour under control but I unfortunately had very bad side effects and couldn’t stay on the medication for longer than a week. During this time Kev started working more and more hours which was partly due to demand at work but also because he was scared of what was going to happen to me.

In March of 2006 I had my second brain surgery which was very difficult for Kev. We hadn’t even been married for a year and yet we were having to discuss the options of what to do if something happened during the operation. Thankfully God oversaw the operation again and I was fine. My blood levels dropped and we thought I was on the road to full recovery when in August/September 2006 my blood tests showed an increase again which showed there was again a tumour.

In October 2006 I underwent a specialised radiotherapy to try and kill off the tumour. Again the doctors felt this would clear up anything that was left behind and there would be no more issues with the tumour. Early in 2007 my blood tests were not as low as the doctor was wanting so they tried me on another medication which he warned would have very bad side effects but thankfully I suffered very few side effects in the first month and thereafter I was fine on the medication and returned to a more normal life again. Around the same time Kev and I moved house so that I could be closer to our friends, family and church.

In December 2010 I received a call from my neighbour, while I was out with a friend, asking if I was okay as she could see smoke coming from our house. We rushed home to find the fire department putting out a fire that had destroyed most of our house. In the next month and a half we saved the few things we could from our house and dealt with getting builders and insurance started on replacing our house and our stuff. During this time I was often getting sick but Kev and I both put it down to being in the burnt out house and the stress we were facing, thankfully together.

In the February of 2011 I went for my annual scan (routine to make sure there was no change in the tumour and that the medication was still keeping the tumour under control.) in between dealing with builders. I read the report to make sure everything was the same as the previous year and instead I was a bit confused by what I was reading and spoke to two friends who were in the medical field to confirm what I thought I was reading. I also handed the scan to the doctors rooms and waited for his call for further confirmation but it was found that there was no sign of the tumour.

We will be married for 9 years in May this year and are currently still waiting on God to see if He will answer our prayers for children of our own but through these two large situations we have faced together we are thankfully, even through Kev “running away” through work, blessed with a marriage that has withstood all of this and more with God at the centre.

We have also learnt that we have to make time for our marriage and for each other and have now chosen to have one day a week that is generally booked for us time so we can continually build on our marriage no matter what comes our way or how busy we may get with work, sport or church commitments.

[To continue to another story from Marriage Year 9 with Matt and Kathy Allison, click here]

Heather Moretz Martin

Heather Martin is the wife of Robert Anthony Martin, who i met at a protest in Philly that was against an outdoor feeding ban in 2012, and she has agreed to let me use this blog post that she made which deals really well with this aspect…

The No-No List by Heather Martin from her blog ‘Not Quite Right: Faith – Life – Common Sense’ which can be found here.

‘For those of you who don’t know me or are new to my blog, I embarked on the Breast Cancer Journey eight months ago, when I discovered a lump in my left breast. I have had a successful lumpectomy, and have completed eighteen weeks of chemotherapy, and began my radiation treatments this week, which will take me into May.

Those of you who do know me know that I have made it a point to approach this journey with a healthy amount of humor. It’s amazing how much better things seem when you can find something to laugh about.

Sometimes, the things I laugh about are people’s reactions to my cancer, and the things that they say. Probably my favorite comment, which I heard from numerous people during my chemotherapy, was, “You have great color!” I always wondered what color I was supposed to be, if my actual color was unexpected. Purple, perhaps, or a very becoming chartreuse. Over time, I realized that the comment was intended to refer to the fact that I had rosy cheeks despite my treatments, a realization that was cemented after my third treatment when I began suffering from terrible anemia. From that point on, we referred to it as “misplacing my melanin.”

I did a quick internet search this morning to see if there were any articles on “What Not to Say to Cancer Patients,” and I found several. However, I found them all lacking. For one thing, not one of them mentioned misplaced melanin and therefore were, in my book, incomplete. So I decided to make up my own “No-No” list, based on some of the things I have come across this year.

1. When you find out your friend has cancer, please do not relate horror stories. At all. Ever.

There is nothing worse for a cancer patient than hearing, “Oh, gosh! My mother’s father-in-law’s seventh grade gym teacher had a cancer completely unlike yours, and he grew two extra heads before his flesh melted off of his bones!” Listen, honey, my grandfather died of pneumonia, brought on by his compromised immune system from chemotherapy, and I am very well aware of Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts who ended up with secondary cancer after chemotherapy for breast cancer. I know the risks. I know the worst-case scenarios. If your story doesn’t have a happy ending, don’t go there.

2. Don’t question or criticize the cancer patient’s choices of treatment…

…particularly after the procedure is a fait accompli. Once the word Cancer is pasted to your forehead, life becomes a multiple choice test, and each answer has its own level of unpleasantness. There is no decision that does not contain some amount of risk, and there is so much information thrown at the patient that every day feels like finals week in college. So when the little black dots have already been filled in with the #2 pencil and the paper has been turned in, it’s not going to be very helpful to hear, “You know, I read a story last week that says that this procedure you had done two weeks ago is going to make your feet fall off, and turn your earwax fuscia.”

3. Unless you’ve gone through, literally, the same process, give advice at your own risk.

Please do not suggest to a woman undergoing chemotherapy that she should not eat chocolate. Ditto bacon. Double-ditto coffee. You do not want to go there. Trust me, it’s not pretty.

Also, this is a Really Bad Time to bring up obscure little-researched alternative and/or homeopathic treatments with absolutely no solid facts behind them. Now, you may be a firm believer in the healing power of powdered elk-antler. In fact, most people would probably be quite curious should you ask if they’ve heard of the miraculous healing powers of powdered elk-antler. But presenting a cancer patient with, “Only powdered elk-antlers have the power to cure cancer! Any other treatment is going to make your feet fall off, and turn your earwax fuscia!” will probably not end well for you.

4. Don’t ask if you don’t really want to know.

“How are you doing – really?” and “How are your treatments going?” are dangerous questions. You’re really opening yourself up to learning more about the body than you’d prefer to know. You might get a very safe answer about goats throwing themselves off the hills of Gilead (See Song of Solomon…), or a slightly more disturbing relation of fingernails randomly falling off, or… well, trust me, it gets worse. There is no procedure in the breast cancer journey that is not either embarrassing, painful, or gruesome. Or some combination of two of those. Or all three. And after a while, the patient loses all sense of shock, and may be… blunt. So, unless you really want to know, stick with something safe and vague. And don’t be afraid to say, “TMI!”

5. For the love of all that’s chocolate, enough with the Facebook Cancer Support Pictures already!

Now, I think most cancer patients will understand and appreciate the sentiment, knowing they’re being thought of by their facebook friends as they’re going through their treatments. But, speaking for myself, when my friends post every prayer, dove, flower, rainbow, candle, butterfly, and fluffy kitten picture “honoring someone who has fought or is fighting cancer”, all it does it make facebook one more place where I can’t escape the reality of my disease.

If you really want to honor those fighting cancer, if you really want to bless me, go out and do something tangible. Call your local cancer center and offer to put together some goodie bags for people starting on their chemo journey (I got one, and it blessed me enormously!). Grow your hair long, and then cut it for Locks of Love. Knit or crochet soft caps with fun yarns for women who are left with zombie hair. Volunteer to drive cancer patients to their treatments. These things will have so much more impact on the lives of cancer patients than a picture on your facebook wall.

6. Don’t assign your emotions to the cancer patient.

No, really. Do you have any idea how ridiculous it is to have an argument with someone who won’t believe that I’m not depressed? That I’m fatigued because of the medication, not because of emotional distress? There have been times where I’ve gotten a little hot under the collar trying to get someone to believe that, actually, I’m quite happy, and have a supernatural amount of joy and peace, goshdarnit!!!!!

Ahem.

7. Don’t wait for the cancer patient to initiate contact.

I’ll admit that I’ve become a bit of a recluse since I was diagnosed with cancer. Part of this is because I simply don’t have the energy to think past what I need to do. Good grief, I’ll sit here for half an hour thinking about something I need to do before I actually get up and do it.

Part of it can also be completely explained with the words Chemo Brain. This is for real, folks. Chemo completely messes with your brain. My trains of thought have been known to get lost on a straight track. They have derailed before pulling out of the station. It’s really sad.

So if you haven’t heard from me, it may be because I sat by the phone for half an hour thinking about calling you, but by the time I get around to picking up the receiver, I’ve forgotten what I was going to do.

Don’t be afraid to take the initiative of calling, thinking they need their rest, or want to be left alone. The chances are pretty good that a call from a friend would be just what the doctor ordered!

************************

I hope you have been able to read this article with the humor and humility with which it was written. I recognize that I have also said and done all the wrong things when I have come across someone going through tragedy or illness. So this was not written to be either critical or sarcastic. These are, honestly, things which have made me smile because I have seen how much my friends and my family care for me. This is not a journey I would have chosen, but I am so much stronger for it.’

[For other stories of Cancer-related journeys, click here]

Cancer is a beast!

it used to be this far off distant disease that you heard about and was pretty scary, but i’ll bet you most people these days know someone who has been through it, is currently suffering from it or undergoing treatment, or knows a number of people who have died from it.

my gran, Doris Anderson, died of skin-cancer related issues. as did my uncle David Anderson. and then just recently my 30 year old cousin, Laura Anderson Markle [David’s daughter], who had only been married for such a short time, was diagnosed with cancer and died within about six months. my best friend and one of my best men from our wedding, Rob LLoyd, has just finished his second round of chemo and been cleared from the cancer that was inflicting him… and i could name many more.

it is a beast. and a violent one at that. and it does a lot of secret and savage violence and fortunately medical advances are happening all the time and so hopefully doctors are getting better and better at dealing with it.

but i think it has been a bit of a Taboo Topic – it is unpleasant and scary and so we would rather not talk about it and just pretend that it’s not there and secretly hope and pray that it will go away.

and how do we deal with someone who has cancer? do we ask questions? can we? should we not mention it? is humour allowed in any form or measure? are we allowed to ask them about their long-term plans? can we help? should we help? or do we go on as if life is normal?

i am hoping that as some people share their stories here, whether firsthand or perhaps stories of loved ones, that we will start to better understand and be able to talk about some of the related issues. after all it is very real and prevalent and maybe there are people you know who have cancer who really need you to be able to be the person they talk to, confide in or whose shoulder they borrow from time to time.

the purpose of this Taboo Topics series is to let you know that you are not alone. there is a light. and there are many people who have walked this road and are walking it and will offer you support wherever you may be on it:

meet Aaron Fullerton – writer for hit show Graceland who survived testicular cancer and managed to find some humour and insight in his blogging about it

meet Wendy and Xylon van Eyck – Xylon has been struggling against lymphoma

meet Noemi and Zofeya – four year old Zofeya diagnosed with brain tumour

meet Heather Martin [specifically speaking to friends of cancer sufferers]

meet Ray Ferrer, artist extraordinaire – this is a memorial testimony for an incredibly strong man who i met online

an article i read in the Los Angeles times which gives some good advice/principles for not saying the wrong thing

Robert is a friend that tbV and i met once in Americaland at a protest of sorts and have since become strong online friends and co-appreciators of Pearls Before Swine and other shared forms of humour as well as sharing in a hunger for following Jesus – he has been married to Heather for close to 18 years and while this is more of a story than a ‘one thing to learn’ piece, there is a lot in here to help us be better at loving our spouse…

Robert and Heather [a few years ago]

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor,without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:23-33 ESV

I’ll bet that most people who read the above passage and the other various passages probably know the verse that comes before this better than this passage. While they may come from various different positions, almost everyone can rattle off “Wives submit to your husbands” and know that it comes from this letter of Paul’s (it is also in Colossians 3:18 and 1 Peter 3:1 I’m not going to get into a discussion of those passages. Instead, however, I’d like to talk about the husband’s role. And, to be honest, while I could probably do a pretty decent job of discussing the biblical text and all that goes into it… I’m not. You see, probably more important than the way I interpret the words of Paul and explain them is how I live it out. So, let me tell you what I do as I try and figure out what it means to love my wife as Christ loved the church.

My wife’s body is not in the best of condition these days. Oh, don’t go there… I’m quite pleased with her appearance and such. She’s a gorgeous woman and I am constantly amazed that she married a geeky nerd like me. But folks who read my blog know that we are heading into the seventh month of a journey we never asked for, that of cancer and the treatments that go along with it. So, when I say my wife’s body is not in the best of condition, I mean that between surgeries, medicines, side-effects, etc., it’s a little bit broken right now and needs a bit of healing and fixing up. Because of that, she can’t do what she would normally be able to do as a wife, a homemaker, and a mother, three roles that she deeply loves to fulfill. As much as she wants to, she just can’t.

Now, I’m no paragon of masculinity with a well functioning body, buff and ripped with that fabulous Adonis-like form. I’ve got my issues and my problems. But, right now, I’ve got a lot more capability to do stuff than my wife so, in comparison, I’m doing pretty good. There are also things that are my roles in life that I deeply love. I love being a preacher, I love being a scholar, I love being that big strong Daddy to my little girls, I love doing the handyman thing around the house, and I love being a husband to my lady-love. These are the things I do. However, during this particular time in our “one-flesh” life, some of this I have to give up. As much as they are my strengths, as much as they are my heart passion, I can’t do the preacher thing as much any more. I can’t spend hours on end reading books and pontificating about the things I learn. There are all sorts of other little pleasures I have in life that I need to set aside. Why? Because I love my wife.

Let me give some examples.

My wife and I both love to cook. In fact, we “fight” over the kitchen sometimes because we love it so much. Usually it’s her anyways because I don’t get back from my commute until almost 6:30 at night. But these days, when she can’t cook a meal because she’s too tired or in too much pain, I put down my laptop case, throw off my coat, strap on an apron and head to the kitchen to cook.

We have two girls who cannot decide which of their two loving parents they want to have read bedtime story to them at night. So, my wife and I split the duty where we each get one kid every night and, the next night, we switch. That way, each girl gets some Mommy nights and each girl gets some Daddy nights. However, when she can’t tuck the kids in at night because it is too painful to trudge up the stairs, I scoop up both of my girls and give them their snuggles and love before bed.

We try to live a simpler life than most. Because of that, we decided a long time ago to be a one income family. My wife had no aspirations to be a career woman. Teaching piano lessons, being Mommy, and keeping house were her biggest goals. So, I do the work thing and she stays home. And since she has the time, she takes care of stuff around the house during the day so that, in the evenings and weekends, we can be a family together. But when she can’t do the laundry, sweep the floors, scrub the toilets, clean out the fuzzy-green monsters from the refrigerator, wash the dishes, etc., because she has used up all her energy from the day simply getting dressed in the morning, I stop being the husband and start being the homemaker for a time.

My wife has ceded to me the recliner in the living room because it fits my body better than hers. It is a very comfy chair and it is my default seat in the evenings. But these days, when she needs the comfy chair in the living room because she needs to prop up various body bits to alleviate the discomfort, I give up my man-chair so it can nurture her wounds.

All part of being a stay-at-home-mom (and because I don’t get home in the evenings until almost 6:30 at times), my wife gets to play taxi and drive the daughters around to their various thingies. But pain, fatigue, exhaustion, etc., makes it so she can’t do this. When she needs me to drive the kids to school, flute lessons, horseback riding lessons, friends’ houses, church, Sunday school, youth group… basically everything that the Mom Taxi Service does, I use my vacation time to stay home so that the family continues to run smoothly and “normal” is preserved.

Note something here: I don’t do all this stuff because I HAVE to. I do it because I WANT to.

My time is not my own. My energy is not my own. My desires are not my own. Everything that is me, I give up so that my wife has the space, time, energy, and rest she needs to heal. It is my way of nourishing her, cherishing her so that she can, someday, get back to doing what she does.

But, to be honest, I’m not going to give up giving up for her. When she finally gets back to full health (and I trust in my God enough that I KNOW that will happen), there will still be days when I tell her to sit down and prop up her feet while I get a few things done around the house. There will still be days where she gets a well deserved day off and is allowed to rest and replenish herself. And I hope, honestly, that this journey we are on right now will train me up better so that those days will be more frequent than they were before this whole thing came down.

The situation my wife and I find ourselves is a bit extreme. Not every marriage faces these challenges. But every marriage, as I see it, should have this kind of sacrifice as the absolute core of what it means to love one another. Love is not about what you can get out of the marriage. Love is about what you put into it. I’m putting my entire self into it, sacrificing everything that is me in order that my wife will know how absolutely essential she is to me. Before I was married, I thought I was a complete person. Now that I’ve been married for almost 18 years, I cannot even begin to understand how I could have ever been so mistaken. Because of that, I give myself, my life, to my wife “as Christ loved the church”.>

[to read what Sheralyn Cloete has to say about making good assumptions, click here]

Laura Anderson Markle

my cousin Laura died two days ago.

she was 30. recently married. then cancer reared its ugly head. absolute tragedy.

just before she went into hospital i did get to send her an email and let her know that i loved her and was praying for her and her family and hoping for a miracle from God [which sadly never happened, not how i was hoping anyways]

so it was really sad, but there was also a strong sense of love and support of friends and family surrounding her in the months leading up to her death.

last nite i went onto facebook and saw message after message, from a whole variety of unlinked friends of mine across the country, mourning the death of Burry Stander, aged 25, a South African olympian mountain biker who was killed on Thursday while training after being hit by a minibus taxi

Absa Cape Epic 2012 Stage 5 Caledon to Elgin Valley

i didn’t know Burry, but a lot of my friends clearly did [either personally or just as fans and supporters]

i doubt any of them got to send him an email before he died.

for the most part, we just don’t know when we are going to die. or when those around us are.

FUNERALS

i have a love hate relationship with funerals.

i know they happen because someone died and so they are meant to be times of sadness, but for the most part i have enjoyed the ones i have been to… when they have been celebrations of the person’s life, rather than simply testaments to the fact that someone has died. i especially love the open mic. time when it happens when friends and family are invited to come forward and share a story about the person they love who has passed on.

but i am also always pretty bummed that the one person who really should be hearing the stories is not officially around to hear them. so one of my big dreams in life [and i guess some might think it’s a pretty sick one] is to come back to life once my funeral has started [open casket] and be able to eavesdrop on what people are saying [and let’s be honest to be able to shout “that’s a load of crap” if someone gets up and starts eulogising me who never had much good to say about me when i was alive. [with dreams like that, maybe it’s a good thing i don’t sleep more?]

the point of today’s scribing is this – how much more amazing would it be if we got to tell people just how much we love them and how much they mean to us, while they are still around to appreciate it?

i want to invite you, to challenge you, to do that! just for one person [for now at least and then maybe someone else tomorrow or next week] who you really care for and who maybe you haven’t told recently [or at all] how much you love them.

but i also want you to share with me who you do it to [i want to hear relationship so not the person’s name but simply a label of friend, family member, work colleague, girlfriend… whoever they are to you] and i want you to pass this challenge on to three other people [and i want to know their names] to encourage them to do the same…

so decide on one person in your life who you want to encourage [verbally, by email, by handwritten note, carrier pigeon?] and three people who you want to send this challenge on and in the comments section of this blog write it down like this:

encourage: my cousin
challenge: Ted, Bill, Napoleon

and then go and do it.

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