Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas in Omaha

I spent Christmas in Omaha again this year with, Sister Johanna (my aunt) and Sister Jeanne. Before you ask – no, there was no blizzard this year and the weather was pleasant – slightly colder than Denver. In fact, it was 40 degrees Thursday morning in Omaha when I left. The flight left on time and arrived in Denver 30 minutes early. I have not had that happen in the past. It started snowing shortly after I arrived and became Denver’s worst snowstorm of the season. Good thing I had an early flight. I knew the good weather would not last forever. It had been in the 50’s and 60’s the whole time I was gone.

It turned out to be a very sad time for the Mercy Community. One of Johanna’s dear friends was in a car crash. They think she must have had a massive heart attack. For those of you that know some of the sisters, Stella was one of the sisters that was with Johanna for their 50th Jubilee. A few days later Sister Joan (pronounced JoAnn) died. She has fought a battle with cancer for 19 years and has been on Chemo every week for years for the liver cancer. She also was a very close friend and lived next door to Johanna and Jeanne. Sister Marie, who lives on their floor, stumbled over a rod sticking out from a snow removal. When she fell she broke her pelvis and has a couple of other fractures in her hip and leg. Then two other sisters being taken care of at the Villa also died. It was a very hectic two weeks for the sisters.

Johanna and Jeanne invited three other sisters for Christmas Eve Dinner and then on Christmas we went to Jeanne’s sister’s house in Iowa for a wonderful dinner.

20 ft live Poinsettia Tree - cranberries in the pool below - train tracks above and through the tree
Poinsettia tree - they were everwhere
We did have the opportunity to put the sadness aside for a couple of days and visited the Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s Botanical Center, on Sunday. It turned out to be free admission, which makes it that much better. It was the most beautiful display of Poinsettias that I have ever seen, over 5200 on display. The Poinsettias are changed every three weeks. The ones on the tree are on a wired frame. They have a very small person climb this cage, on the inside, and change out the Poinsettias. They had large train sets going all over the place and one was going right through the center of the tree. Sister Jeanne’s brother, Father Charlie, joined us and we had a wonderful lunch while we were there.

On Monday we went to the Historic General Dodge House in Council Bluffs for a private tour. It was absolutely beautiful and we were able to go clear up to the third floor, and then to the basement with its brick floor. The house was decorated for Christmas, which made it very special. One of Jeanne’s nieces went with us. 

On Tuesday Johanna and I met with some very special people to have lunch. Then on Wednesday we took a day of rest and stayed around the apartment. It was really nice down time. Thursday morning, bright and early, I flew home.

My little Ember was so glad to see me. After I got unpacked all she wanted to do is stay right with me. Every time I left the bedroom she would sit on the bed and call me back. I would lie down on the bed and she would lie on top of me. I was not getting out of her sight again. She has been right with me all day again today. What would I do without my little love? It was a wonderful welcome home.

"Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas." ~ Dale Evans

Monday, December 13, 2010

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go."

"Not without something hot in your belly." George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew ... Made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead.

"You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office.. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to
himself. So he put a new one on.

"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya.. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer.
"Oh, yer gonna drink this.  Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee " the cop said.
George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued.

"Yep,"  George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus"

Merry Christmas!!

This story is better than any greeting card.



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving is just a week away and the time of year that people take inventory of all the things that have happened over the past year that they are thankful for. 

I, on the other hand, give thanks to my Glorious God every single day. The year has had its ups and downs but the most magnificent news was in February when they said that my endometrial cancer was not active. (They do not use the word remission, but I am okay with that.) I have decided to wait until after the New Year to have any more testing done to see where I am with the cancer.

I am thankful to all of my family and friends that continue to support me.  I am especially thankful to my dearest and best friend Rebecca. God put her in my life to help me through all of this. She is the sister that I never had. I cannot forget Laurie who also is like a sister and is always available to make me laugh and take care of my cats. I do not know what I would do without these wonderful women.

There are so many things that I am thankful for that it is impossible to list them all for fear the list would go on and on and on. I put on Facebook last week that I was thankful for every breath I take – and that still holds true.

I pray that your Thanksgiving is filled with the joys of family, touched by the beauty of friendship, and warmed with the blessings of the day.

“It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor." 
~ George Washington

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A true story by Helen Roseveare, Missionary

One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive; as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator). We also had no special feeding facilities. 

Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. 

Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates). 

'And it is our last hot water bottle!' she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in  Central Africa  it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways. 

'All right,' I said, 'put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts Your job is to keep the baby warm.'

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. 

During prayer time, one ten -year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. 'Please, God' she prayed, 'Send us a hot water bottle today It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.' While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, 'And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?' As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say 'Amen?' I just did not believe that God could do this. 

Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home. 

Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator! 

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly-colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored.. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend.

Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the......could it really be? 
I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.

Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, 'If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!' 
Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, 'Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?'

'Of course,' I replied!

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. 
And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it 'that afternoon.'

Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive.
There is no cost, but a lot of rewards.
Let's continue praying for one another.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Autumn in Colorado

It is autumn in Colorado and this is the first year that I have had the opportunity to really take the time and enjoy the scenery. Rebecca and I took off after church on October 3rd and did a road trip down south - in her convertible. It was absolutely the most amazing, perfect time of the year to see the color changes. We returned on October 7th.

We drove from Denver to Montrose - Sunday, to Durango - Monday, to Blanding Utah - Tuesday, then back to Glenwood Springs - Wednesday, and back to Denver on Thursday morning. We were back in time to have lunch, get the bulletin done and attend staff meeting.

Switzerland America in Ouray

We took the Million Dollar Highway from Montrose to Durango - spectacular! And, on this beautiful highway we had a 20 minute delay for road work. Not a big problem we took lots of pictures.

As we left Blue Mesa Lake we had not picked up speed yet when a deer ran across the road in front of us. After stopping to look at us he went over the embankment. I jumped out of the car to get a picture. When I started to get back in the car it was rolling so I just shut the door. That is when I noticed that we were on the road - there was no shoulder. We were blocking traffic - including a police car. He waved everyone to go around us and came up on my side of the car. He wanted to know if we had a problem so I just blurted out that a deer ran in front of us. He asked if we hit - no. Were we okay - yes. And then I said "I just wanted to take a picture of it." He told us to be careful and not to stop on this section to take any more pictures.

We spent the day in Mesa Verde seeing the Indian dwellings. We had lunch in the park and actually cooked out on Rebecca' little cook stove. We had Salmon, corn on the cob, apple dumplings. What a great lunch. In fact, we only at out one time during the four days. Two of the places we stayed did serve breakfast so we took advantage of that.

Utah was breathtaking. Pictures and more pictures. The only problem is that pictures do not do this beauty justice. There was just so much to see in our short trip that it is hard to tell about all of it. This is the longest time that I have been in a car since before I got sick. I had a wonderful time but I have to admit that I was exhausted once I got back.

Thank you God, for the beauty around me everywhere,
The gentle rain and glistening dew, the sunshine and the air,
The joyous gift of feeling the soul's soft, whispering voice
That speaks to me from deep within and makes my heart rejoice.
~~Helen Steiner Rice

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Mario is getting bigger and more beautiful as time goes on. He is a strange little cat but that is what makes cats interesting. They each have their own personality just like people. This picture was taken in his backyard. Notice I said "his" backyard. He never went outside until he moved in with Laurie. It is fenced in and the cats get to go out everyday, several times a day. They love the backyard. Laurie and/or Craig watch all three cats while they are out there.

I sure do miss him but he pays little attention to me when I am there. He has a new home and he is very happy there.

Last Saturday I went to Laurie's (they were out of town) to give Mo his pills (he has cancer). There are only about three of us that feel comfortable giving Mo his medications. Jan was there to feed the cats and she was still there and had the three cats out in the backyard (Mo, Noir, Mario). I saw Mario stalking something and then he finally pounced. It looked like a snake but it was weird looking and it kept curling around. It was only about 3-4 inches long, had little tiny black beady eyes, and it looked like it had been chopped off. It was about the size of a nickel in diameter. Mario kept putting his paw on it but I was afraid that he would try to pick it up in his mouth. I finally got a pine cone and pushed it under the fence. When I got home I looked it up on the Internet and yes, there is such a snake that is known as a blind snake. It has no teeth so it can't hurt the cats. Laurie and Craig have found their den but no one knows how many there are - just where there is one, there are more.

"How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures." Psalm 104:24

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Do you need washing?

(I have a friend whose sister has terminal breast cancer. She has been on chemo or radiation for over two years now. She has two teenage sons. I saw this story on her blog and borrowed it for my blog. I know that she would not mind if I share such a touching story.)

A little girl had been shopping with her mom in WalMart. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence.

It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there, under the awning, just inside the door of the WalMart. We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day.

I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day. Her little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, “Mom let’s run through the rain”, she said.

“What”, mom asked. “Let’s run through the rain”, she repeated. No honey, we’ll wait until it slows down a bit”, mom replied. This young child waited a minute and repeated, “Mom, let’s run through the rain!” “We’ll get soaked if we do”, mom said. “No we won’t mom. That’s not what you said this morning”, the young girl said as she tugged on her mom’s arm. “This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet”, the mother asked? “Don’t you remember”, said the little girl? “When you were talking to daddy about his cancer, you said, if God can get us through this, He can get us through anything!” The entire crowd stopped dead silent…I swear you couldn’t hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one left. The mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child’s life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.

‘Honey, you are absolutely right. Let’s run through the rain. If GOD let’s us get wet, well maybe we just need washing’, mom said. Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They got soaked.

They were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories. So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday. To everything there is a season and time to every purpose under heaven.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them.


Speak of God, for God, with God. 
~C. McAuley

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I am a 10 on the scale 1-10

Today I had my last appointment with my surgeon. The very day I have been waiting for - it has been over two years since I have not had a doctor's appointment and this is going to be a much needed reprieve. Only God knows if/when this will all start up again so I will continue to take it one day at a time. I also will continue to get my blood markers done, and PET scans only if my oncologist feels it is necessary.

When I went to her office I knew that the seroma was gone and there was no more accumulation of fluid. She said she wanted to see for herself and after careful examination she admitted I was right. She once again gave me the "pep" talk about chemo and radiation therapy and requested that I go talk with the radiologist. My answer was - "no"!

I have full range of motion with my arm so she put "excellent" in my chart with lots of exclamation points. She then asked if I wanted to continue visits or did I want to call her if I needed something. I bet you can guess which option I chose. She gave me a hug and said that she hoped not to see me again under these circumstances.

I give all the glory to my God. Praising God will renew and rejuvenate you. Psalms 59 "I will sing of your strength in the morning and I will sing of your love for you are my refuge in times of trouble."

Friday, September 3, 2010


"There are extraordinary moments in our lives when we are certain a Divine Hand has brushed our cheek, wiped our tears, and graced our hearts with a glimpse of eternity." ~Susan Duke

When I returned from Omaha I had an appointment with my surgeon. The seroma, this time, was only a third of what it has been so I feel that it is starting to slow down. I choose not to do another procedure with Interventional Radiology. My surgeon confirmed that I know my body better than she does and will respect my decisions. Although, she does get her little dig in each time about doing chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I told her that "if" the cancer comes back I will deal with it. I just want to live as pain free and productive life as possible. When God is ready to take me home - He will!

Since there will not be a lot to report on my health at this time. I think I am going to write about my many blessings starting with my move to Denver in 1996 and the reason I moved. It will be in segments and one at a time because it probably will turn into a book. But this is my journal of my journey and it is the only one I have, so I will keep writing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A friend who cares

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. 
                                                                        ~Henri Nouwen

Johanna's Jubilee

The week of August 21st until the 28th I was in Omaha for my aunts Jubilee. Sister Johanna Burnell, RSM has been a nun for 50 years. What an exciting day starting with Mass on Sunday, the 22nd, said by Father Charlie O'Rourke, Sister Jeanne's brother. After Mass dinner followed in the auditorium at Mercy High School where Johanna had been President for 21 years. (She retired last year.) There were four other sisters celebrating so I am not sure how many people were present for the entire event. Lots of friends and families for all of the sisters.

The sad part of the trip was that Johanna was diagnosed with pneumonia the week before. It was really hard for her to work and to do the preparation for the event. We worked at the school a couple of hours on Saturday getting tables, etc. set up and there were a lot of people there to help.  On Tuesday the doctor diagnosed her with severe bronchitis and put her on heavy doses of medication. 

Then on Thursday the 26th, Sister Jeanne's brother-in-law died from a massive heart attack. He lived in Council Bluffs. His wife is in a wheel chair, a polio recipient, and depended on her husband for help.

Sister Jeanne and Sister Johanna share an apartment and are best friends. Jeanne is part of our family and comes to all of our events and Johanna is part of Jeanne's family and goes to all of their events. It was a very sad and tragic loss for both of them.

On Saturday night, before the big event, we had a family picnic at Mercy Acres. We had a wonderful prayer time and lots of memories of childhood flowing. There were only 20 of us there plus Sister Jeanne. One of my highlights was getting to ride on my cousins Harley Tri Bike. I had to borrow shoes and socks and a helmet but at least I was able to ride. I might just make a good biker-chick.

All in all it was one of those very exciting weeks and a very sad week. Like good news, bad news. However, I will be going back to spend Christmas in Omaha. Hopefully there will be no blizzard this time.

Speak of God, for God, with God. ~C. McAuley

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday the 13th

No I am not superstitious, normally. Several months ago before my surgery I started volunteering at the Front Desk on Friday mornings from 8am to 11am. I took two months off after my surgery and started back on August 6th. This Friday morning, the 13th, I was sitting on the floor playing with Ember and that funny feeling hit me - it was Friday - it was also 9:45. I jumped up, brushed my teeth, put on some clothes and was downstairs by 10. Very embarrassed.

Lynn, the gentleman that is always down there on Friday mornings when I am not there - was not there either but his wife was. She said that she came down at 8:45 and saw that no one was there - it was all dark. Not good! So she took over. She said, "no problem, it happens all the time." I doubt that, but it was nice of her to say so. I assured her that I probably would not forget Friday mornings again, but if I did to please call me. And, I confirmed that I would be there on the 20th but not on the 27th.

On the 21st, I am going to Omaha for a week. We will have a family picnic at Mercy Acres on Saturday night and there is a celebration, on Sunday, the 22nd, starting with Mass and then dinner to follow. This Jubilee is for my aunt and four other nuns. They have been Mercy nuns for 50 years. It should be a wonderful day, lots of families and lots of excitement.

Health-wise I am doing fine. I feel good and have little discomfort from my continual seromas. I have no drains in so the fluid builds up until it needs to be drained. Obviously the last procedures with Interventional Radiology, did not work so I will go about every 10 days to have it drained. I will go again just before I leave for Omaha and then I have an appointment when I get back. No one can answer the question, "Why am I still filling with fluid?" They say that this happens to some people. Okay - I will accept that. (I have researched this on the internet and found it to be true.)

Well there probably won't be another posting until I come back from Omaha, unless something really exciting happens. Not that this posting was exciting - but there will be less and less to write about. At least I am praying for that. We all have our everyday adventures, etc., so I do not want to bore you with my everyday life - like the car. (Three things in three weeks - the car should be good to go.)

I continue to take life one day at a time and take nothing for granted. "And my God will meet all your (my) needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 

"God abounds with generosity and his goodness is poured out to all his children. He has no favorites. And he fills each one according to their need. We are freed from fear and selfishness when we learn to trust God's perfect timing in our lives."

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Just want to change the pace of my writings from cancer to cars. It is good to talk about something else - right? Well, I guess that all depends. I would like to be telling you that I bought a new fancy sports car. That is not the case - not on my budget.

Week before last someone left a note on my window saying I had a very low tire on the back. Not a problem I stopped and put air in the tire and then drove right to Peerless Tires to have it fixed and my tires rotated. I do this every 3,000 miles and it was time. I asked that they please check that back tire because I had just put air in it. They rotated the tires and said that my car was ready. I asked if they had checked that tire and they said that it was okay just low. I am looking kind of puzzled but they know their business, I'm thinking. Two days later I was back. The tire is now on the front and yes there was a nail in it. Grrrrr!

Last week I had the oil changed. Nothing unusual about this, I always have the oil changed at 3,000 miles. When I started to pay the bill, he said you have a couple of small leaks that need to be taken care of right away. What leaks? When he started explaining I told him that had just been done less than a year ago. He looked it up and it was in November. My 2001 Grand Prix has a bad GM motor in it and the gaskets go bad about every four years - lucky me. This is very expensive to have the gaskets replaced. It was still under warranty and they fixed it for no charge.

This week one day when I started the car the battery light was on. I made a call to see how serious this was and my friend, Steve, told me to go to Auto Zone and have the battery tested. He also said that it could be the alternator. They said the battery was bad so I bought a new one, met Steve, and he put it in for me. He returned with me to Auto Zone to make sure the refunds were made because it was a seven year battery replaced in five years. I told them that the battery light was still on. They checked the alternator and it was bad, but not that bad. I had errands to run so it was decided that we would take care of the alternator latter since the new battery would be okay for awhile. Have no idea how much charge was in the battery and I drove way down south to run my errands and on the way back home I new it was going to quit on me. And then a God thing happened. I was at 1st St and the lights went out. Steve lives right off of 1st St. I was hoping I could make it to his house. I didn't! The car stopped at the stop sign and right across the street, two houses up, was Steve's house. I hated to call Steve because he was at the hospital with his dad. I just didn't know what else to do. He said to leave the car sit there and he would take care of it when he got home. I walked down to his house and gave his wife my keys and a credit card and she took me home. I felt so bad leaving all this work for him. He was at the hospital for four hours and then had Life Group that evening and did not even get started on my car until late evening.

How do you say "thank you" to good friends. Only God knows what we need and he puts the right people in place each time. There is one young lady in the church that has helped me out on several occasions and when I tell her that I don't want to impose on her, she will say, "Don't you take my blessing away from me." And then I do understand.

"God has blessed you with his kindness. Why not pass it on? Kindness is always contagious. Start an epidemic where you live. All it takes is one to light the way."

The Story continues...

The bad news - It is now a week later, August 7th, since they said that I no longer needed treatment for the seroma. Wrong again! The seroma is back in full force. I am going to call the surgeons office Monday morning to see if I can get it drained again. I may just have to do this once a week, or so, until it stops. I cannot keep paying the huge co-pays only to have them not do the treatment. And, I do not want that huge drain hanging on me again.

The good news - I did get my bra and a prosthesis on Monday. It looks so normal. That was such an exciting day that I was calling or texting everyone telling them that I felt like a young girl getting her first bra. I cannot begin to tell you how uplifting it is. (No pun intended.)

God has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined.

"Laughter lightens our load, especially during times of trouble. It is a pep rally for heavy hearts."

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Continuation of Story Time

It's Friday, July 30th, morning and Rebecca picks me up a 6:30 for my second round of Betadine treatment. The hospital was expecting me and I was taken to a private room and prepared for the treatment. The same nurse blew out another vein trying to start the IV and this was after wrapping my arm in a hot towel. The second nurse took her time and was successful. The antibiotic was started and then I was taken down to Interventional Radiology and given some more stuff so this would be a pain free procedure. Since the cavity was so large last time they were hoping to inject a smaller amount of Betadine this time. The radiologist started the injection and no Betadine would go in. He determined that there was no blockage in the tube and he tried again. He said that it was time to take it out - so he did. They put a compression bandage on me for three days and then everything should be okay.

All of the confusion from last week still remains with me. I was getting so many different stories of how many treatments this would be. Why couldn't someone just say that it would be 1-3 treatments and maybe more. How hard is that. What little drainage is still left should be absorbed by the body.

I guess if we prepare for the worse, then it is a true blessing when it is not as bad as we expected.

"God's ears are open to the desperate in heart. His eyes are aware of their need. Ask him to visit your most hopeless situation. God is always looking for a place to put a miracle."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Warning: This is long and may be boring.

Mastectomy on June 7th. Left the hospital with 2 drains. The drains were removed on the 25th. However, that was too soon and I developed a seroma. On the 29th my surgeon drained the seroma and put a catheter in so I could continue draining. On Monday, July 19th, three weeks later, they said the catheter had to be taken out, even though I was still draining large amounts of fluid, because there was too much chance for infection, and besides I should have quit draining by now. By the end of the day a seroma was developing again. On Tuesday I contacted the surgery nurse, again, to see what can be done.

The rest of the week gets more interesting/confusing so bear with me. There are lots of phone calls going back and forth and I only learn later that most of the information was not correct. 

Tuesday - The surgery nurse calls me back and she has talked with my surgeon. Since I am still draining so much the next step would be with Interventional Radiology. They will do a sclerosing procedure. This procedure is one time only and there has been a high rate of success. She explained it to me. They will drain the cavity and then fill it with a sclerosing solution, leave it in an hour and then drain it and it will be all over with. Okay sounds simple enough so we made an appointment at St Jo Hospital at 6:30 Friday morning. I should take someone with me. (A little doubt in my mind about how simple this is going to be.)

Wednesday - A gentleman from radiology calls me to get me pre-admitted. There are a lot of questions being asked back and forth. He was surprised that I thought it was a one time procedure and tells me that it may be more than a one time. Hmmmm! The procedure could be painful but that they will make sure I do not feel the pain, I will have an IV. As soon as I told him that I had had a pulmonary embolus he wanted to know if I was on blood thinners - yes.  He almost panicked. He said my PT INR had to be 2.3 or less. I personally didn't see this as much of a problem because I still had two nights not to take my medicine but he wanted me off of it for four nights. The call almost ended immediately and he said he would call me back - he never did.

The surgery nurse called me back and wanted to cancel for Friday and Move it to Tuesday so I could be off my med. I talked her into letting me go and getting my blood tested to see where it was. If it was close to 2.3 I had no problem - it would be down by Friday morning. It was 2.5 so she decided that it was too close a call. I kept telling her it would be down by Friday and to call my anticoagulation guy and he would explain it to her. I asked her to please keep me on the schedule for Friday because this seroma was growing by the day. She said that if I was not in the correct range that they would not do the procedure so she would keep me on the schedule for Tuesday also. I would take my chances.

My anticoagulation guy called me and said to hold my meds Wednesday night and Thursday night and I would be fine. He said if you want to be sure it is down - and then gave me a little tip - which I did. Okay - now is the funny part. You know how I like humor in everything.  I put my pills in a container and just take them daily morning and night. After all this commotion all day I took my pills and did not give it another thought until about a half hour later. You know how your stomach goes into a knot when you know you have done something wrong and you cannot reverse it - well... I fretted over this for about another half hour thinking what am I going to do - I have really messed up. For some unknown reason I went out and looked in my pill container. There were three pills that did not dump into my hand when I took my pills earlier and one of them was my blood thinner. I think you all can figure out the unknown reason - all I could do was thank God over and over. When we least expect Him to be in our lives - there He is every time!

I feel like this is turning into a book so please feel free to click off at any time. I just don't want to forget any of this like I did my surgery.

Thursday - I worked at the church all day and the staff took me out to lunch for my birthday. It was so good - Applebee's.

Friday - Rebecca picked me up and we were checking into the hospital and I was getting the funny feeling that they were not really expecting me. They did finally take me up to a private room and then the staff wasn't sure what I was there for. Yes, I am still laughing. Finally this nurse -  not really sure who she was or which department she was from, started talking about the procedure and that my PT INR had to be at 2.0 or they would not do the procedure. She also started saying that they would not be injecting any sclerosing agent, they would just be draining the seroma. Rebecca and I just looked at each other. I am sure glad she was there with me or I would have been crying instead of laughing. My PT INR was at 1.47.

The nurse that was to take care of me blew out a vein trying to put in the IV so she had to call the IV therapy team to come up. After two hours they finally have me all ready for the procedure, and  radiology was ready for me. It was another hour before they come to get me. The person before me was really a problem per the radiologist. 

Okay I am down there now. Every one is so nice. The doctor came out and apologized to me for all of the confusion that has gone on. He realized that I really had no idea what was happening and that no one had explained this procedure to me properly. After he explained it to me he asked if I still wanted to go through with it - it was not too late to back out. Long story short - He put in a long catheter with a curly tail on it and he even let me see it on the screen. He drained the cavity and then injected it with Betadine. It was in for an hour and then drained. I had to turn every 15 minutes on each side, back and front, to make sure the Betadine went into all the crevasses of the  cavity. Meanwhile I do have one humongous drain hanging on me now. Nothing that can be disguised through clothing like the other ones. I will come back next Friday and have the Betadine injection again. And then again the next Friday. Surprise - again! There is only a 50 percent chance that this will work.

He said that they could do surgery again but that usually never works and only will make it worse. Some people are chronic seroma makers. 

If you have made it through all of this you probably realize that I continue to need prayer. Look what your prayer has done for me so far. Believe me - I am not complaining - this too shall pass. However, I am really glad this week is over. ~But I want a bra!!!!!

"My interpretation influences my situation -- It's not what happens to me that matters as much as how I choose to see it. The way I react will determine whether the circumstance makes me better or bitter. I can view everything as an obstacle or an opportunity for growth - a stumbling block or a stepping stone."

PET Scan results

Praise God through whom all blessings flow! 
"No Active Cancer" 

I started on Arimidex this morning - antihormonal therapy - one pill a day. No chemotherapy and no radiation therapy per my oncologist. I am not sure that my surgeon knows this yet but she is not going to be a happy camper.

Be very specific in what you ask for. "If you want specific answers to prayer, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they're answered?"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rollin' the cat

My little girl likes to play on the bed while I am trying to make it, or I should say she used to play on the bed. I am not sure what happened but she kind of quit doing that until just recently. I purchased a new set of sheets and they were a very light color and all of the sudden I could see black cat hair all over the top sheet. Needless to say, "I can't have that." So, I got the lint roller out and was rolling over the sheet when appeared my black cat and she wanted to play. I rolled it over her once thinking that would be all it took and she would be gone. Wrong - she loved it and now it is our daily routine to get rolled when I make the bed. Sometimes I am not fast enough for her and she stands on the bed looking at the night stand where I keep the roller.

Ember is so little (10 lbs) and her hair is very fine. It does little good to comb her or brush her because I am not going to get enough hair out of her to make a difference. The lint roller works great and now my fear is that I might get too much hair out and she will be bald. Do you think that could happen? Hmmmmm!

Happy Birthday to me!

Yesterday, July 18th, was my birthday. Why, you ask, is a 67 year old woman so happy about her birthday. The simple answer is - because I had one.

As many of you remember, last year at this time my cancer was spreading and my future (here on earth) looked pretty bleak. In February 2010 things changed and my terminal cancer was no longer active. They don't call it remission but I will take whatever they want to call it. I have had another PET scan on Friday and I do not have the results of it back yet.

I received so many birthday cards, birthday wishes on FaceBook and at church that I was glowing all day. I am not sure how many people actually knew what it meant to me. I plan on celebrating my birthday every day so if you want to send me birthday wishes anytime in the next year I will accept them and be grateful for each new day.

"Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Psalm 139:16 NLT)