Thursday, December 30, 2021

Finding Joy in an Uphill Battle

 I’m waiting in a massive line. It doesn’t really matter why I’m there, it just matters how I feel in that moment. I’m standing on a steep incline, and soon I start to shift uncomfortably. As a teenager I always carried a deck of cards and a hacky sack in my tattered purse. So, I start kicking the hacky sack around, knowing it will even make strangers my friends. Others in line introduce themselves and form a circle where we can all play. 

I soon discover the power of words. Having an epiphany that if you ask the right questions it’s like getting a key to someone’s door. You can find out all sorts of amazing things—and learn so much—if you dare to ask the deep stuff….  It’s like a shortcut to the soul.

“I’ve never told anyone that,” a woman says, serving the hacky sack to the man next to her. “I feel so relieved that I’m not alone.” She smiles at me.

“I think we’ve all felt like that at one time or another,” a gypsy-looking girl says, with the wispy voice of a fairy. 

But the hill makes things difficult—even for budding friendships. We persist for a bit, but after a while, the sun beats down unapologetically, and we all grow tired. 

I decide to try resting. Nobody cares because even my new buddies are doing the same thing. I fluff my ragged purse on the ground and use it as a pillow, but the hill isn’t comfortable, the gravel bites into my hip and shoulder, and the deck of cards only adds to my lumpy purse. I roll but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get comfortable on that hill. 

After an eternity, a man yells, and I see that employees are finally letting people into the event. We all press forward, like a d*mn herd of cattle. Everyone looks relieved. And I’d never been so happy to be on flat ground in all my life.


For some reason as I tried resting today, I couldn’t help remembering that day as a teenager, when I tried sleeping on a gravel hill. That’s what cancer has become for me. I’m in the same reality as everyone else—we’re all shooting for universal commonalities (some kind of purpose), but I’m on a hill, just fighting so hard to be on flat ground again. Nothing is ever “quite” comfortable. And this realization…has me reeling.

Life simply is that way right now. There’s no changing it. I’m in a fight to live—and I’m just not ready to get out of this metaphorical line yet. 

Cancer isn’t easy. Hell, LIFE isn’t easy, even when you level the playing field. 

I guess it’s just a matter of finding the good things, like my hacky sack or enjoying the utter magic of meeting strangers and hearing their stories. 

Despite a terrible incline—or whatever struggles YOU might be facing—there’s still magic around you. For me, I just need to keep filling my “purse” with good things (goodbye, baggage), and I should also remain spongelike, learning as much as I can from the people I’m lucky enough to know—especially Mike and my children.

I might be stuck on a relentless hill, but d*mn it if I won’t keep having fun along the way.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Man Found Perspective

 Being raised by my parents was almost magical. Because of my mom I wanted to be a preacher. I salvaged a big box from the garbage and stayed in it like a bobsled, reading the Bible for hours and preparing sermons. I started praying other places once I found a big spider in the box and let my parents throw it away. My mom is just…unexpected. She’s sweet and quiet, yet she was a beauty queen and her talent was wailing on the drums. (Check that out here: .)

My dad is infused with joy and a sense of play even though he usually dresses like a cutthroat cowboy! Growing up he’d make us steak and lobster on occasion! We had holidays fit for royalty even though my dad had to hawk his guns one year so we could have Christmas. Even though we didn’t have the “most” we always thought we did.

Then one of the greatest success stories I’ve ever seen happened. My parents ran a construction business and even sold it. I’ll never forget watching how hard they both worked years later to make it succeed. Yet, even though they’re “quite comfortable” now, on vacation I saw that my parents will never lose perspective of what matters.

“Pedro!” My Dad stood from his seat in Nuevo Vallarta and clapped the bellboy on the back. “Pedro” turned around and grinned.

“Oh—my goodness. Felipe!” he said in a Spanish accent. They hugged so excited to see one another. “Welcome home!” The man joked.

Another time my parents spotted one of the employees who’s from London. “We have to get together soon!” the man said, and my dad nodded saying they’d had such a fantastic time when they last caught up.

This continued at a small German restaurant in downtown Puerto Vallarta. “Thank you for coming here so much, despite COVID,” the owner said. “We’re so very grateful.” Then later he gave my mom a hearty hug and she beamed.

The point is that they’ve been frequenting this area for 20 years, yet they aren’t just friends with the ritzy people who stay in the best hotels like they do. Nope. They’re friends with the workers, the locals, and anyone (regardless of class) who’s real.

I thought of this as I walked from the plane in Salt Lake City and sat down in my designated wheelchair. “How are you?” I asked the transportation employee.

“I’m having the worst day ever!”

Mike kissed me on the cheek and whispered, “Good luck with that.” He stood up. “I’ll meet you at pickup gate 2C, and then we’ll drive home? I’m gonna go get the SUV.”

The man vented for a while. “I never talk to customers like this, but my boss just passed me up for a promotion. I just found out—and I’m livid.”

“Is this your dream job?”

He shook his head, and as the conversation continued I couldn’t help dropping the bomb. “I have stage four cancer. The doctors say it’s terminal.”

He gapped, obviously rethinking his worries. “And here I am telling you MY problems…”

“I just shared that because life is short! Don’t waste it being so unhappy. What is your dream job?”

“I want to stage houses.”

“But—let me guess—it doesn’t make any money. Right?”

He nodded. 

“Okay!” I said. “I had a similar problem. I wanted to be a writer; I even wrote nine books, but I make enough each month to eat off the dollar menu at McDonald’s.”

He laughed. “Oh! I didn’t mean to laugh.” He shook the amusement from his face.

“No worries.” I grinned. “So I found something that’s close to writing where I CAN make money. I had to work hard for it, but now I’m an editor! Sure I’m not writing YA fiction like I hoped, but I’m surprisingly happy with my career!”

“But how can I possibly make money staging houses? I don’t have any experience.”

I thought for a minute. “You could be…a realtor! Stage homes and then make money selling them. Get contacts and then—down the road—start your own staging business for fellow realtors who’ve grown to love you!”

“This is so weird,” he confessed. I started a realtor class, and it’s about to expire. Then my mom—who has no idea—gave me silly realtor socks as a joke for Christmas!”

“And NOW we’re talking about it. It’s a Godwink for sure!”

He broke out laughing. At that point Mike called, and the man pushed me over to our SUV. 

“I have to work until 1 a.m., but I’m so energized! You changed my whole perspective.”

“Nah! You would’ve figured it out.” I winked.

“This job IS a means to an end. I’m gonna finish that real estate class—and then I’m gonna go skiing.”

“Skiing?” I asked.

“Yeah, ‘cause I’ve always wanted to go, and you only live once, right?”

I waved goodbye and after Mike started driving off he said, “He sure changed his tune. What was that about?”

“I just helped give him some perspective.”

“YOU are such a character.” Mike burst out laughing.

I thought of my parents in Mexico and grinned. “If I am, I get it from my parents.” And even though we’d just left a sunny, beautiful paradise and exchanged it for ice and snow, I thought that I couldn’t be happier.

(A “fancy” picture in the elevator 🤣.)

Monday, December 27, 2021

Tortugas Mean Hope

 The gritty sand massaged my feet as the sun’s heat beat down, masking the flulike symptoms that 

I always feel—making the warmth on my skin seem natural. And as the water repeatedly encased my feet, trying to lure me in, I couldn’t help staring at the horizon. If God can create all of this majesty that somehow balances itself out, I can rest assured that He has a plan even for my life. There’s beauty in the mess. There’s joy even in the heartache. 

“Careful: Turtle Season” a nearby sign read, boasting a gorgeous picture of tortugas “turtles” bursting from their shells. I’d seen a documentary once; it said very few turtles actually make it to the ocean. I spied bird feathers next to broken eggs then. Birds had obviously ravaged a nest, yet next to me, little marks patterned the sand, and I knew one of the baby turtles MUST have survived. Sure it was only one … but that exhibited something powerful: hope.

“Excuse me,” a man said, shaking me from my surreal moment in Mexico. “This might sound strange, but didn’t I see you in a wheelchair earlier?”

His wife had come to stand next to him, and Mike sauntered over as well.

“My parents rented me a scooter,” I said.

They blinked, obviously wanting to hear more.

“I have stage 4 cancer. Last year the doctor gave me two years to live …”

“She has a hard time walking long distances,” Mike said, “after a surgery to remove a tumor.”

Their eyes grew larger.

“My parents refuse to lose hope about my diagnosis, but I know they worry—and they wanted me to have a nice trip.” I took in a long breath and sighed. “It IS good to see the ocean again …” I turned to the waves and thought how none of us truly know when it’ll be the last time seeing the ocean, a snow-crested mountain, or the first bloom of spring.

“Well,” the man said, then looked to his wife who nodded, “no matter what you’re facing we wanted to tell you that you’re making a positive impact on other people’s lives. You waved to us from your scooter on our first day here … and my wife kept talking about how sweet you were—this whole time.”

The woman smiled at me, so kindly. “You look great,” she said. “You’d never know anything was amiss.” 

“I think this weather has been awesome for me. I swear I’m standing straighter and feeling better every day.” I grinned.

“It’s so snowy back home,” Mike said.

“I knew it!” The man beamed. “You’re like us—you’re from Canada. That’s why you’re so nice.”

Mike and I burst out laughing. “We’re from Idaho.”

“That’s … close enough!” the man said. Then the couple left and as my parents joined us on the beach, I couldn’t get over how great it felt to be spending time with them in paradise.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

A Visit to Paradise

 My ex is in a different state and has the kids for one holiday a year—unfortunately, this year it’s Christmas. Even though we celebrated early, it didn’t feel quite the same, and it’s tough because I miss the kids.

My parents must’ve known I felt bad about that—plus, this battle against cancer has gotten to me a little more recently…. Anyway, those givers bought me and Mike airplane tickets, rented me a TURBO scooter, AND brought us to spend Christmas with them in Mexico!

We’re in one of those fancy resorts that practically has its own zip code! The scooter can go over 20 miles an hour, and I swear I’m the best scooter driver you’ve ever seen! A little kid waved to me last night after seeing me do a figure 8 in the lobby! I think my only traumatic event was driving—at the speed of light—through a Mayan temple. A man kept trying to take pictures of the statues, but I accidentally kept “scooting” in his way. (Then Mike got in a few photos ‘cause he kept chasing me like I needed a d*mn babysitter!)

A shuttle driver asked if I’d had too many tequilas. I told him I’d only had water! Anyway, I hope my parents are still glad they brought us here because we’re having the time of our lives.  

I did throw up our first night here—because cancer sucks even in paradise. But other than taking daily naps (like a 100-year-old), I’m doing pretty good.

We had lobster last night, and we’re having steak tonight—medium-well! Like my brother’s friends used to say: “No one eats like a Stilson.” These days it’s just keeping my food down that’s the tricky part!

Well, we better live it up! I have more treatments and tests next week—and we found out that I’ll be on certain medication for the rest of my life (God, I hope it’s more than docs think!). But I am excited to get home and get the kids back. For me and Mike, those four little people are our world!

In closing:

I told a lady on the plane: “I’ve learned so many great things after having cancer—and now I get to see Mexico again because if it!”

“Wow,” she said, beaming. “I don’t have cancer…but I DO have a heart condition. Maybe I can find something good in that too!”

“Good on ya,” I said, and for the rest of the flight I couldn’t quit grinning.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

A Holiday Reset

Indiana wanted to help raise money for a local youth organization; so, this past Thursday we wrapped gifts for people at the mall. 

“Business” was pretty dead, but after a while, a mother and son came up with gifts for us to wrap. 

Indy and I wanted to do a perfect job, so we showed them our wrapping paper selection, different box sizes, and a vast amount of decorative ribbons. 

“I love Christmas,” the boy said, handing me a gift for his mother. 

Christmas isn’t always “jolly” for me. In fact, since I’ve had cancer it’s even more stressful than normal. We’ve been extra worried about money, and I hardly have enough energy to go shopping. Still, I glanced up and smiled, setting a red bow in place.

“Christmas, huh?” I said “What do you like about it?”

He grinned, exhibiting the kind of excitement only a young adult can have. “I love the tree,” he said. “And I LOVE presents.”

“Right?” I finished wrapping the gift for his mother. Now it was time for me to wrap what she’d bought for him. “What did you get last year?” I asked him.

“A pair of pants! We each get one whole gift every year.” His eyes sparkled. “I can hardly wait for Christmas.”

I blinked. It seemed unbelievable that a person his age could show so much gratitude—for one, small gift.

His mom took the break in our conversation as a chance to hand me his gift. She’d left it in the bag—so he couldn’t see—and winked as she handed it to me as if it were pure gold.

These two honestly baffled me. I turned, and I’m still not sure why, but so many emotions overwhelmed me as I spotted the gift she’d bought for her son this year. I’d opened the bag to find…a simple pair of pants. 

“Wrap it in white,” she whispered, “with a red bow. He’ll love that.”

After Indy finished wrapping the dad’s simple gift, we just stared at each other so amazed by this family and their excitement over such small items. “I guess it’s not small to them,” Indy said.

“And that’s what’s so humbling…. Some people don’t have much at all. But look,” we watched them, “they’re some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen.”

“Me too,” Indy agreed.

As we watched the mother and son, Indy hugged me so tightly. “I’m glad we know what matters, too.”

I studied my beautiful, baby girl, wrapped my arms around her, and thought that I have so much more than I could’ve ever hoped for.

Mike and I celebrated Christmas with the kids on Friday (they spend one holiday a year with their bio dad, and it happens to be Christmas this year). I felt stunned to see how happy our kids are over whatever they receive! We had people generously make our Christmas wonderful. We got anonymous gifts, some money in the mail, and even a massive gift basket that completely shocked us! But I do have to say that the thing we’re most grateful for is each other. 

“I know it’s hard,” my oldest daughter said, giving me a huge hug. “But you have to keep fighting. Okay, Mom. You can’t give up!”

I hugged her back and nodded. “I will! I promise. Ruby, I want to be with all of you—for as long as I can.”

It’s crazy how quickly cancer put life in perspective.

Anyway, I wanted to wish all of you a very, merry Christmas! I hope you have exactly what you need this holiday season! And I hope you’ll have the eyes to see the beauty that surrounds you—no matter how big or small.

Friday, December 17, 2021

What I CAN Instead …

 “I saw you in the wheelchair,” the Delta representative said, “so we’re moving you closer to the front of the plane.”

“Oh, wow! Thank you,” I said, my eyes wide. 

I’d decided to visit my parents in Arizona right after Halloween, and I’d never expected the airline’s employees to be so nice! Everything went great until after I left the customer service area and waited to board; that’s when I noticed a few younger people studying me with pity. I’m not sure why their prying eyes hurt, but they did.

I called Mike and whispered into the phone. “God made me all wrong,” I said once Mike picked up, but I immediately regretted my words. God doesn’t make mistakes—that’s religion 101. Plus, I probably got melanoma from fake baking or getting burned when I was homeless in Hawaii. Fiddling all night, then blending in with tourists and sleeping on the beach all day had risks. If you slept too hard, when the shade moved, you’d wake up lobster-red. Nope. Melanoma wasn’t God’s fault; it was mine.

But honestly, it’s true that most days I do feel like there’s something wrong with me. Maybe we all feel like that sometimes. Maybe I’ve just felt that way more than most. I’ve had people tell me I’m a one-upper, so contrary I just have to go against everyone, or an acquired taste. But I don’t want to be someone who has to grow on you like fungus…. Anyway.

It’s hard having cancer and wondering about all this beyond reason … Who am I really? A collection of my perception and what other people think about me? What impression AM I leaving behind? And then it instantly feels as if everything that’s wrong with me is manifesting in my body so everybody can see it on the outside. 

This isn’t a pity-me post—trust me, that’s the last thing I want. These are just issues I’m dealing with probably because of the cancer. 

It’s hard being unable to do most things by myself. I can’t reach up high or climb on counters when I need the largest dish. I can’t even sleep through the whole night anymore because some part of my body inevitably starts burning with pain. 

People ask me when I’ll be able to walk “normal” again. The answers probably never. I’ve also had friends ask when the swelling in my face will go away. It’s called moon face—something that happens when you take steroids. My face will thin out in days or months. I. Don’t. Know. But honestly I think right now that’s the least of my concerns. And that’s what Mike told me before I boarded the plane to go see my parents right after Halloween.

The interesting thing is that when I sat down on the plane an overwhelming peace fell on me. And it grew as a stranger sat down next to me. We immediately started visiting. Somehow I ended up telling him about the cancer, but this stranger didn’t judge me or show an overt amount of sympathy … or sadness or anything bad, really. He just treated me like a normal person. And then I swear we talked about everything: religion, philosophy, family, and what it’s like to live in Idaho. 

“They changed my seat at the last minute,” he said.

“Mine too!” I replied. And then I discovered he’s from the same small town where I live. And he only lives a couple miles from us! And our kids are the same ages—and go to the same exact schools! 

Despite only just meeting, I said this was a Godwink, we exchanged information, and decided it would be fun to go on a double date. And when I walked off the plane, I swear I stood a little straighter. It wasn’t because I felt better, physically, but because someone had treated me normally. This stranger gave me the courage to move on from the moment of self-pity and sadness because  the point is that although I don’t know why I’m going through this, I can still overcome and be positive and happy throughout the hardship. After all, I’m still alive! I’m still able to move around! And I can live life to the fullest—to my own capabilities! It’s time for me to STOP measuring myself against everyone else’s view of me. And measure myself against what I am capable of, what I want, and what I CAN do about it!

We ended up going out—not on a double but—on a triple date a few weeks later. Can you believe the man on the airplane actually knows someone who I’ve been good friends with! I guess they ended up talking about me while visiting at church and were so surprised to discover they have a mutual friend. 

Anyway, I loved every minute: the conversation, the laughter … the joy. But most of all I loved that all of them treated me the same way the man had on the plane. And I realized that regardless of how people treat me I need to always fight to find that inner joy. Some days can be a battle – because joy is not like happiness (that just comes and goes), no, Joy is something you have to fight for. Joy is something you CHOOSE. So that’s what I’m going to do. Today, I choose joy.

(A pic of my second-favorite wig lol.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Start of a Godwink

 Two men wheeled me through the massive Salt Lake City airport. I’ve gotten over my embarrassment of needing a wheelchair for long stints, and I simply talked with the men, finding out about their hopes and dreams. We had a few minutes, and I even bought them coffees. “If you want to travel together, do it!” I finally said after hearing the story of how they were such good friends in high school that they started working together. Yet, work, school, and responsibility aside, they wanted to travel together.

“We might travel…but after we finish college,” one said.

“Listen! I have stage four cancer. I thought I’d raise my kids and ‘see the world’ when they got older. I always wanted to visit Italy and Ireland! I wanted to see Canada and Mexico again…. But look at me. My oldest is an adult and my seventeen-year-old is close behind. Now that I’m 38–the age when I’d hoped to travel—I’m too sick to do almost anything. Go now, while you can. Tomorrow…is uncertain at best.”

“I understand,” the taller guy finally said. “But you’re traveling today? Where are you going?”

I laughed. “I told my parents that I missed them too much, so they bought me a ticket to go see them in Arizona! Just don’t tell my doctor!” I joked. “She’s paranoid about blood clots.”

We resumed our journey then—them pushing me through the airport and me watching as different people occasionally looked at me kindly, sadly, curiously, callously…. I even caught an elderly woman grimacing, as if nothing looked “wrong” with me.

Anyway, that airport is crazy because there’s a stretch where you have to walk for over a mile before reaching the terminals. When we finally arrived, I turned to the men. “Please go take that trip! Sooner rather than later.”

They laughed. “We just might. It was nice to meet you.”

“You too.”

They left soon after, and another representative, seeing the wheelchair, asked me to approach the customer service center. “Which flight?” she asked. 


“Can I see your ticket?” 

I handed it over, and that’s when a Godwink happened. 

To be continued 🤗

Thursday, December 9, 2021

An Awkward Day

 Today has been…awkward. It started with a message from a new friend (one of my blessing from 2021). “Your gingerbread men are doing the nasty,” she wrote. I went to check the decorations—and balked. It was true! Those blowups have NO SHAME.

My kids heard about it, and being a special brand of idiot, I said, “Maybe they’ll make gingerbread cookies. You like those, right?!”

“Not anymore,” my son said and slid his breakfast away.

“Mom, those cookies would be their babies!” My youngest daughter said, looking genuinely appalled. “That’s…that’s not okay.”


Now that my kids hate me, gingerbread cookies, and Christmas, I finally got them off to school and thought the traumas had ended. But working from home is tough. Around noon, our white cat (who got handicapped in the Great Mystery of 2020), sauntered over and decided to lick his butt ON me, BY me, anywhere NEAR me. Do you know how hard it is to edit articles when there’s a godforsaken slurping sound RIGHT BY YOUR EAR?

So, it’s days like today when I realize there are things much worse than cancer: like trying to joke about reproduction with your junior high kids or having your cat try to lick YOUR face right after doing a butt cleanse for the past hour.


Signing out for the day,

A Traumatized Elisa 

P.S. I’m just glad I finally have things in perspective.

Pics of me and “the butt licker” and the gingerbread decor after their exhausting night.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Fighting for a Family

 Indy got incredibly sick—and to see her like that…was devastating. She’s 11 years old and one of the happiest people on earth. Someone could be mean and she’d hope for the best: “They’d never mean it THAT way,” or “We should give them another chance.”

But on Sunday, I knew something was wrong when Trey teased her, and she mumbled, “What a jerk!”

Two hours later, Indy had a full-blown fever, a sore throat, and even hallucinations! The doctor dubbed it strep and gave us antibiotics, but the next night Indy still struggled. I slept by her on the couch, so worried. 

After a few hours my hips hurt and my back ached—I honestly woke up feeling so ill from the cancer that I had to take more medicine than usual. It’s weird with the medicine because for about an hour after taking it, I remember what it felt like not having cancer. And then the flulike symptoms set in again: body aches, chills, nausea, sometimes vomiting, and extreme bone pain. I told the doc about this last week, and she prescribed something that is slow-release. It blankets the pain so it’s background music instead of the full symphony (if you know what I mean), but then the pain never totally goes away. It just lurks there, making me feel “gross” but never momentarily well.

Anyway, when I went back to sleep I had the most wonderful dream about a beautiful valley. I felt so different there, lying in the grass—and I realized…it was simply the absence of pain.

Then Indy woke me up, “Mama, I’m cold.” She shivered, and I covered her with an extra blanket and patted her back.

“Okay! I’ve got you. You’re okay.”

“Mama,” she quaked moments later.

“What, sweetheart? I’m here.” I held her close. “I’m here.”

“It’s just that you’re so sick and now…you’re staying up—not getting rest—because of me.”

“I’m okay,” I said, amazed by that kind of altruism at such a young age. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” I said—not even in my dream of the beautiful valley. After all, it really does seem like Mike and the kids are MY Heaven. “You’re my baby. I want to be with my kids, always. Especially when you need me.”

She rolled over and stared at me, her eyes so big—filled with concern even though SHE still fought a fever. “You know how you said you feel like you have the flu all the time?”

I nodded.

“I just realized how terrible that must be. It must be…so…so bad.” Then these huge tears rolled down her cheeks. And she hugged me like she might never let go. “Mama, I’m so sorry you’re sick.”

I hugged her. “It’s okay. It’s really okay. It’s not as bad…as it sounds. Indy, I’m just so sorry that YOU are sick!” And as I thought about how terrible cancer can be—and I felt those darling arms around my neck—I couldn’t help thinking how grateful I am to have a family to fight for.

Indy finally started feeling better late last night. I’m so glad she’s on the mend, painting her nails crazy colors, and harassing her cat (her world!).

Anyway, when I woke up from my nap today the kids had already been home from school for an hour, and I kept wishing I could give the kids and Mike more...but I can’t. 

Hopefully they know I’m doing the best I can. I’m enjoying each moment and simply fighting for more time.

A picture of me and Indy right before and after I got cancer.

Thank God for Warnings

Mike limped back inside. “What’s going on?” I asked.

“I’m taking care of it,” he said. “Just stay here.”

But I’m bad at staying put, so I went outside where two women in uniforms stood between our knocked over garbage can and our trailer.

“Not again,” I said quickly, vowing to pick up the garbage as soon as I figured out why these women strutted around our trailer as if it were an animal they’d captured.

“We’re with the city! Someone reported you. You’re in violation of code—“

I didn’t hear the rest because I’d gotten lost on the “someone reported you” part. I immediately thought of our neighbor who’s called the cops on us before. She’s the same woman who won’t let her kids play with ours because we aren’t Mormon.

“So we need to move our trailer?”

“Yes. And we’re writing the ticket right now.”

“Wait!” I said. “We’re having a really hard time. My husband bought this to fix it up, but then he broke his foot. Then our SUV—with the hitch—broke down and is in the shop…so we can’t move the trailer.”

It almost looked like she rolled her eyes.

“And—and,” I went on, “I have stage 4 cancer.” I’d said it. The ultimate trump card.

She studied everything about me, as if she didn’t believe a single thing I’d said. 

“And if this garbage isn’t picked up within 24 hours, you’ll get a ticket for that too!”

I immediately started putting the trash in my garbage can. But every time I bent down, the pains grew, and I started crying from the tumors in my spine. Mike came out then with some sort of paperwork. He handed the code enforcement officer a copy, then started helping me pick up the trash.

After we finished, Mike grabbed my hand and led me back toward the house. 

The taller woman said sarcastically then, “It just sucks when we have to do our jobs. Darn it.”

I’m embarrassed to say that my anger got the best of me, and still within earshot, I whispered, “Wannabe cops!”

Shockingly they didn’t ticket us for the trailer (I guess it can’t be parked in front of our house—even though a church bus down the road gets a “pass”). A friend moved our trailer to the side of our house, our SUV is almost done getting fixed, and Mike can hobble without crutches. Yay!

I just keep thinking about those callous women and how they treated us even though we’re experiencing trials. I guess that doesn’t make us exempt, but you’d think they’d be a little bit kinder. If people could simply understand the struggles of others—and help them instead of kicking them while they’re down—this sure would be a better place.

I still don’t know why she didn’t ticket us. But I really am thankful. That’s the last thing we needed right before Christmas. Thank God for warnings.

Monday, December 6, 2021

We Got This

 I haven’t written in a while. Truthfully I just haven’t been feeling very well. But that’s okay, it’s almost Christmas and if THAT doesn’t make life better, I don’t know what does 😉

Months ago I started hoping that I might be in remission someday, but this latest setback has me wondering. 

Unfortunately hope is a buoy that sometimes brings even greater disappointment.

Anyway, until now, I never understood how people could say “it wasn’t the cancer that killed them; it was the treatment.” So far immunotherapy has caused me to have liver failure, colitis that led to sepsis, and now serious struggles with my endocrine system. I just get over one thing with meds, and something else pops us. (The amount of medication I’m on shocked one friend—but that’s the cost of living!)

Anyway, I’ve become extremely exhausted, sleeping four hours a day (while the kids are at school), and just feeling like I’m limping to a finish line—that I might never cross. That’s when my husband found a package on the front porch. “It’s for you,” he said, always so happy like a Golden Lab.

I beamed too, surprised when I read the sender’s name. She also has cancer and has bravely battled against all odds. I’d just read a post of hers, saying how deathly sick she is…. The fact that she’d sent me something—when she’s so ill—flabbergasted me.

I set the package on my bed, pulled out beautiful items and fun winter hats. The irony of it just hit me, thinking about this woman who has lost her hair and been in excruciating pain from chemo. After I donned one of the fashionable new hats and looked in the mirror, I cried from her exceptional kindness. Her courage and fortitude gave me the strength I had momentarily lost. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

So, I’m taking medications to bolster my endocrine system, and wearing a hat from my new friend. I hope that my body can withstand treatments long enough for the immunotherapy to kill the cancer. I so hope my organs will stay strong enough to get through this! And I hope my friend will feel better soon—and beat this too! We. Can. Do. This.

Doctors originally gave me two years to live, then they said I might have ten… But now—against everything—I’m reaching for the stars. 

I’m absolutely sure God has a plan; part of this is just learning to be at peace regardless of the outcome. Now THAT is true growth. 

P.S. Here’s a pic of one of the hats with my favorite wig. #ElsaWig #cancerawareness #melanomaawareness #wegotthis