Tag Archive: life

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

in the light of the Oscar Pistorius case and other heavy negative stories that are filling up the newswaves, it is good to be reminded of some of the good stories that are taking place out there:

‘At the end of January, eight days of rain left the people of Limpopo reeling. The district of Vhembe was one of the worst hit areas. Homes were damaged, water pipes broken and uprooted, and at least eight lives were lost.’

flyingforlifeso begins this article which highlights an organisation called Flying for Life which literally swooped in and saved the day – read the article here but even a bonus story is the site that i found it on called The Good News South Africa which is already doing daily what i am trying to attempt with a couple of blogs during this week – and that is reporting the good news – stories of life and celebration and cures for rabies and book-reading days, so read the story of how Flying for Life got involved to bring life and hope to the villages in Limpopo, but also perhaps bookmark that site as one to head to regularly to encourage you and add balance to all the negative news reporting we often fill our lives, minds and attitudes with.

‘Now, after the flood, once the rescue personnel have long since left the area and life has returned to “normal”, Flying for Life will continue to use aviation in its work to find solutions for education, healthcare, HIV/AIDS training, enterprise development, housing, water solutions, and skills and agriculture development.’

[to be inspired by the story of the man with no limbs, Nick Vujicic, and his new baby boy, click here…]

let me be honest, i am tired of all the Oscar Pistorius ‘stuff’ – i am tired of it and i wish it would go away.

i am also deeply disturbed by it. i don’t know that i completely understand why, altho i know it has something to do with the fact that it feels like almost everyone has an opinion, many people have made judgements, many others are just sending links and updates and quotes and there seems to be something a little too much in that – this article that calls us all vultures, seems to capture some of what i am feeling the best

i have mostly wanted to not write about it, because i don’t want to be just another voice commentating on something i don’t have a lot of facts about – presuppositions for sure, news posted comments definitely and a lot of opinion and argument and sentiment and so on, but no one really knows what happened [except maybe Oscar] and maybe we never really will. so i will keep my writing to the idea of the thing, rather than the thing itself, as that is something i do have a little bit more of a valid opinion about.

the celebrity aspect has to be a part of it – if that was James Smith [google ‘James Smith’ to make sure i haven’t accidentally picked another celebrity name] then this case would not have even registered a blip on the radar. in fact there was a newspaper headline board on a pole when i went out earlier that read ‘two more girls killed in cape town’ and no one [relatively] is going to even know that that happened. so because the guy who allegedly shot the girl [Reeva Steenkamp by the way although it finally feels like everyone now knows her name as well] is famous, somehow this case means more.

i mean at this very point i am multi-tasking between writing this blog and trying to convince someone on facebook that a cartoon of Elmer Fudd blowing a woman’s head off with a shotgun because she is making a duck face at her camera is NOT OKAY… it is not “just a cartoon bro” and even further, ” I’m 100% positive no person on their right mind will shoot a girl in the face for taking a picture like that.” Yes, i’m with you on that point, i don’t think they will, but THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT OKAY!

on a different page, my friend Megan is posting awareness photos as to how often images of violence are subtly woven into advertising as far as women are concerned and the link from her original post to an article focusing on ‘America’s Next Top Model 8’: Week Four: Crime Scene Victims just makes me feel sick to my stomach – the challenge is for each model to pose as a person who has been killed in a different way – with a judge commenting, “What’s great about this is that you can also look beautiful in death.” – i couldn’t even make it through all the images…

it just leaves me wondering how far have we gone? and how long will we continue to call this all normal?

and how can i be part of the remedy?

i think it must be along the lines of posting and speaking and pointing towards and declaring LIFE. not to pretend that darkness and death and brokenness is not happening [we must never do that – we MUST act when people share ridiculous cartoon pictures and when people are challenging the mentality behind advertising and the fact that a celebrity should not be allowed to get away with something no-one else should] but to remind ourselves in the midst of it that LIFE is happening. the smallest light destroys and chases away the darkness!

and so i want to call on you [and me] this week to look out for stories of goodness and grace and beauty and Love and to share them via your status or your Twitter or your blog – for every negative story that is out there, let us share a positive one. if we can’t stop all that is bad [at least instantly] then let us at least celebrate and cheer on and be encouraged by that which is good. let those stories give us the strength and belief to get involved in the less-than-happy ones and hopefully see more positive endings to those as well.

life to the full

i am thinking of the invitation i just received to Linawo Chilren’s home’s 10th birthday celebrations, i am talking about the children’s house Val is a trustee of and the uThando LeNkosi Work Day, i am even simply talking about Monday night’s TheatreSports show at the Intimate theatre in town – whatever it is, let’s just start speaking and sharing some life, so that we don’t get taken completely down by the darkness…

for the first positive upbuilding story focusing on Nicholas McCarthy, one-handed pianist, click here…

a story of pilots flying in water and supplies to flooded areas and also a site for daily stories of good news

the inspiring and humourous no limbed Nick Vujicic has a baby boy…

is anyone with me on this?

as you will probably know if you have followed my writings for any amount of time, my favourite cartoon strip is called ‘Pearls before Swine’ by Stephan Pastis [who stubbornly continues to refuse to add a stuffed dolphin called ‘No_bob’ [because he doesn’t] to his series, fearful of the unmanageable rise in book sales i imagine] and every now and then he just completely nails life on the head like in this one:

pearlsenergy[For a great looped cycle of some of the other Pearls Before Swine strips I’ve enjoyed over the years, click here]


Yes, I said ‘Live’ not ‘life’ cos ‘Live’ is a verb. and cos it’s me.

my friend and former wedding photographer Bex Meissner sent me this link to a great article on the top five regrets people have before they die and it is well worth reading the whole article, but just to whet your appetite the top five regrets people mentioned are:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Really good time to give those some attention now and see if any of those areas are lacking in your life and make better choices and live differently if necessary… but to read the explanation of each point go and read the complete article here.

stumbled upon these video clips of spoken word from a guy called David Bowden which i thort were too powerful not to share…

this is the first one…

and this second one on scripture i think is even more powerful

Take ten minutes and enjoy and be inspired and challenged.

on Christmas day, tbV and i went to visit a church called Epic that our friends Cody and Lyndsey go to and really had a great time – they meet in a cinema and we were greeted with good coffee and donuts, so pretty much everything i look for in a church [harr!] and then we found the one thing we had been missing in a bunch of churches we have visited since being in Philly which was a great message…

using clips from Elf [which we watched later that nite with some kids from the block cos we were so inspired, what a fun movie] and Charlie Brown Christmas [Linus the evangelist, who knew] Kent preached a simple yet powerful message on the need for us to learn from and be inspired by and emulate a lot of what kids, and specifically his kids, live.

from Psalm 118.24 “this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” he spoke about the unbridled passion and abandon that kids often have about life and used the example of a child opening a present [the real way] by just ripping it apart and trying to get to the gift [whereas the adult is being all mature and old and worrying about saving the paper and the ribbon and so on]

then in the Message, Matthew 6.34 reads “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

the focus is on ‘what God is doing right now’ – often we have ideas of how and where God works and often He throws that on its head by working in different places and differently to how we might expect and part of our job is to take time to be still and observe and listen and watch to see where God is at work right now and where He is wanting us to get involved – it may not look like what we would expect, but by doing what we expect He would say, we may well be missing what He is actually calling us to – are we really being led by God. i would never have imagined that tbV and i would be living and working in the Simple Way, even after being so inspired by the book years ago, but we took time to wait on God and hear and none of us have a doubt now that this is where we are meant to be living and ministering…

lastly he mentioned the story in Acts 16. 22-26 which starts with Paul [and Silas] being stripped and beaten with rods and goes directly to him praying and singing hymns to God – how do we respond to adversity? one of the things children love to do is sing – with reckless abandon, any time any place. why don’t we sing any more?

and why do we sing songs to God in church? is it because He has forgotten how good He is? No! It is because we need to be reminded regularly how awesomely good our God is.

Grow up and become like a child. Your life [and living as opposed to existing] might depend on it.

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