Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fighting Like a Girl

Bad week. Cancer stinks! I feel like a bloated balloon immediately after eating and get hungry 2 hours later anyway! I have what I call gasoline breath. My medical team politely calls it a “metallic taste side effect” and encourages me to only use plastic utensils. I feel like I’m sleeping half my life away. I hate greasing up my hands because they are so dry! 
These are only just some of the “side Effects” that don’t seem like a side issue to me at all. I never even felt what cancer feels like! It’s the treatment that is making me crazy!

Ok. I’m a girl who grew up in the 60’s. The above is my way of fighting for the day. It feels like handing me a foam bat to beat everything and everyone that’s annoying me. I found it therapeutic at one time in my life. Here’s a picture of it below.

It’s fun for a second, but ends up totally unsatisfying. The 1960’s are over  - at least for me. Thank God. So what do I do? Cancer treatment does stink and I am tired of rearranging my life to its beck and call. So how do I “fight like a girl” and come out victorious?

Well, I was talking to the Lord about it. Tomorrow at about 3pm I will be ½ infused of all the chemo planned for my “personalized fight against cancer”. They try to make it sound special, don’t they? One thing is thing for sure. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So how does one get encouraged at the halfway mark? So…darn…that’s right. I forgot to run that marathon. I need to know:
What does the coach say to keep you going at the half way mark?

I thought of the Blessed Virgin Mary and how she “wonders” (ponders) at the hard words about her life given by Simeon. “He (Jesus) will stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul”.  That wondering must have made her stronger. I thought of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta who fought everything by prayer and doing good to others. She certainly didn’t focus on herself! I’m having a hard time not focusing on myself. I remember when I was a grad student I decided I would not miss any community meetings because of deadlines. After all, it was only because of the goodness of the Lord that I had the opportunity to get my MSN. Wouldn’t it be foolish to become so study focused that I ignored worshipping the one who from all good things flow? This worked very well. I got my degree and even though the research could’ve been better, I learned enough and more and grew in my love for God at the same time.  But cancer treatment isn’t like that. I went to Mass on Sunday. With every change of position (I’m Roman Catholic. We sit, stand, and kneel alternatively. I think at one time we all had ADD and needed help to focus. This is a joke. Kind of.) Anyway, with each move I’m thinking will I make it? Am I shaking? Do I need to sit down? Maybe I could just wait in the car. It was totally useless for worship and so I’m going back to my “follow your body” instructions from the doctor. If I’m not feeling right, I’m staying home. This will probably mean missing more things in the second half of therapy. But maybe, just maybe, it will be a joy filled time alone with the Lord. I could certainly give him more of a chance in that area!

My dear daughter, Katie, started a Novena to St. Peregrine who was miraculously healed of cancer. Yesterday the Novena ended. Maybe that’s why I had the hardest of days. It could very well be a spiritual battle. Doing novenas is not my particular spiritual culture, but my parents did one for me as an infant and I have had asthma my whole life with no hospitalizations or big deal of any sort. Here’s the prayer for the novena. I thought praying the daily intentions would certainly arm me for a darn good battle against any attack!

Day 1 – Pray for us, that we will not let sickness bring us to despair
Day 2 – Pray for us, that we may persevere in hope
Day 3 – Pray for us, that we will have the courage to offer up our suffering in unity with the Cross
Day 4 – Pray for us, that the loneliness of our suffering will be consoled
Day 5 – Pray for us, that the fear of death will be replaced with the hope of everlasting life
Day 6 – Pray for us, that our suffering will not rob us of joy
Day 7 – Pray for us, that in our pain we will not become selfish but ever more selfless
Day 8 – Pray for us, that this sickness will teach me to depend more and more on God
Day 9 – Pray for us, that our lives will glorify God alone

After reading this and taking another three-hour nap some good news started to come in.
  •           If I’m not sick tonight I get to go out to dinner and a movie with Robin and Mary to celebrate our tap dance class run by none other than Grandma Birdie (Robin). How blessed am I to get to dance tap with them!
  •    George, my 20th grandchild, had his birthday video posted on facebook by his mom. http://couchofred.blogspot.com/2015/01/happy-birthday-george.html What a great year of new life and this year will make him a big brother! Walt is calling the new baby Black Jack because he’s number 21 for us. Don’t worry. It won’t stick.
  •    One of my dear friends sent me a picture of her and 2 of her friends at a tea. One of them had made a floral hat with an old bra. Now that’s feminine creativity at it’s best and I’m about to have some used bras! Look out! (Sorry gentlemen who read this. It’s a girl thing. I’m getting over self pity here.)
  •           We have been trying to help an old man in the neighborhood who doesn’t live in a safe environment. More happened toward getting him a new home yesterday than all the days in the last 5 years combined. That’s a lot to rejoice over.
  •     And last but not least, I offered my sufferings 2 weeks ago for my family (always) and my friend Geriann who had surgery 12 days ago on a benign brain tumor. Like me, she had hundreds of people praying. The doctor came out of surgery and announced they were able to get “much more” than they expected. Go Geriann! Go doc! Go prayer! Now Geriann is free to go back to West St. Paul and continue to build a neighborhood where God is known and loved and neighbors and really neighbors. She is awesome! I’m so happy for her and her family! This week I will continue to pray for my family and focus on those who need healing from divorce. May God grant them (the whole family!) peace and a new start to move forward! 

And so, my anger is gone and I have won a battle. Probably not my last, but it’s won! Now help me out with some marathon coaching (you are very good at this), and I’ll continue to fight like a girl: I’ll listen to my body and go in for my halfway dose tomorrow and find out what more of the “accumulating effects” will hit me over the weekend. I will ponder the course of treatment along with the promises of the Lord. And when I’m feeling not so bad, I’ll find some way to reach out and do something good for another. I am happy I have you in my court. Oh, please say a prayer so I can get out with my friends. I’d be much obliged! 

My sister Laurie doing my wrap at my daughter Mary's house. she's the artsy-craftsy one. I'm her student.
                                   Thanks Laurie!  


  1. Oh Pam! The suffering and emptying you are going through is so very difficult. This may be your passion in walking in the steps of Christ. As hard as this is, and as mysterious as to the whys, know that after this struggle comes the sharing in the glory of Christ even more than you have already experienced. You know I've walked in extreme suffering too . The suffering does have an end on it and all I can say is I have been very blessed because of it... Growing closer and closer to the heart of God as is happening to you im sure. You are always in my prayers and in my heart. I hope you get a reprieve tonight and can be with your friends. Love you holy woman of God!

  2. If you can't go to mass, then you could get a Eucharistic minister to come visit you. I would do it if it weren't for the miles! Be open to allowing other people to serve you, and the Lord.

    Godbless, and hope to see you kick this,
    John Broxup

  3. Way to go Pam! Keep it up! .... Regarding point #4 above - I'd like to hear more about it some time. I think about said gentleman and pray for him often. I'm glad things are moving forward for him.

    1. I'll email you later on #4. Good news is exciting.

  4. Pam, you are so inspiring and so honest. Keep fighting the good fight of faith! You are in our daily prayers.

  5. Dear Pam, Thank you for all your sharings. I especially love the prayers of the novena. They are so good for any type of suffering. God bless. And do listen to your body.

  6. Pam, thanks for sharing your struggles. They really do inspire me and others! As for me, I never went in for the "fight" mode when I had cancer. More like "surrender and endure." I didn't make goals or plans for what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go -- just tried to enjoy the little things that came to me. One sister brought me a cute series of novels that I enjoyed. Got nice visits from my kids. Watched chick-flicks on TV with my daughter. I actually look back at that time with gratitude because I had to switch modes from active to passive and just rest in the Lord and those who were caring for me. Now if I could just remember to still do that once in a while without having to go through an illness!! Praying for you always!

  7. I got the flu bug the other night and thought of you right away and offered up my little cross for you. I ran cross country in high school and to help us out about midway through my coach said to look at the person ahead and pretend I had an invisible fishing pole and to throw it ahead and reel the other person in, I think this analogy worked since I grew up fishing :) So to just look up ahead in the distance a little at a time and make it to that point, know that is a victory, and then look to the next little bit is helpful but I think you are already doing this! You are really such a witness and are really calling me on- I am so blessed to know you and was so glad to get to see you in South Bend! I am keeping you in my prayers!

  8. Now, you get that priest to the house to give you the Eucharist! ...just sayin'. :D :D I'll take that foam bat when you're done with it. We must use whatever means necessary to create peace in our lives. That one must be fun.

  9. Please hang in there Pam! Rah, rah rah!!! you are an inspiration to us all. Love you, Deirdre

  10. I can't see my comment so I am writing it again. Hopefully it won't be posted twice. As I was saying: This s a beautiful, real and honest post. I didn't know that you could write so well. You shine through this post! We pray for you every morning. Continue to fight like a girl and pray like a saint! Love,

  11. Ugh, I left a long comment about how your blog inspires me and now it's gone. It wasn't eloquent, but I feel it has to be better than this. Anyway, I am a friend of your daughter, Katie, our kids attend SSA together. I am out here praying! And every day I say to the Lord when I struggle, "Thank you God! I love my problems!" and my little crosses seem so small compared to that which you have embraced. But I am so grateful to you for taking the time to share your struggle here. It builds me up. It makes me feel should cancer touch my life, I will have your words to sustain me. I will have your experience to help me through. It is a gift and I am so grateful to you for giving it. I have another friend of a friend who is fighting cancer too and her writing inspires me in much the same way. I think you'd like it and you could pray for her as well: http://lil-lytnin.blogspot.com/ Feminine Genius. That's what you two have. The ability to share your struggle, write your pain and love and struggle out for us and call us to community, giving others hope and inspiration. Thank you. God bless you both. Fight on warrior princesses!!

  12. PS-I have never run a marathon. For $100 I might be inspired to run around my block. But maybe not. So I don't know what to say at the half way point. But the Lord does and it appears you're listening so there's that.

  13. John & Marcia DeWittJanuary 28, 2015 at 9:47 AM

    Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration. Thank you, Pam. You Walt, and the family are still in our regular prayers.
    You also now have a sister joining in the battle against breast cancer. I don't know if you remember Rene Shireman, a member of the Work of Christ (she has been the nurse at summer camp a number of times, but not sure if she served while you were there). She was diagnosed last week and is having some type of surgery and starting treatment this week (sorry I am weak on details). I believe there is someone in the WOC forwarding your blog to her. Her name is now beside yours on the wall in front of my desk.

    1. Rene and I were coming and going - maybe even job shared - before we moved. Please give her my cell number if you see her. My love and prayers are with her.

  14. Pam maybe you running the race is to persevere by resting in God's presence "In God alone is my soul at rest, my help comes from him" and letting him be your strength and shield, your rock in whom you trust...."He alone is my rock , my stronghold my fortress: I stand firm"(Ps. 62)

    When you are weary let your brothers and sisters in Christ who are praying lift your weary hands and drooping knees. Grab onto scripture sister... it is the way to reach out and touch the "hem of his garment" and you will receive a special "Grace".

    We are praying for you and Walt and the family. As others have said you inspire me by your attitude in this battle. God wants you to fight!!!! But also to rest in His love, and presence when needed. A parting Scripture:

    Heb 12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

    1. Thank you everyone! Love your wisdom, prayers, and your love. May God bless you today with a special gift of his presence. I'm on the road to success!


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