Saturday, December 24, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Have you just found out you have cancer? You may know someone who has survived. Are you in cancer remission? You may be going through chemotherapy or radiation treatment. If any of these things are true in your life, you may feel as though nobody can relate to what you are going to. If you become involved with a cancer survivor group you will have the chance to talk with or write to someone who has been through the same things as you. You can learn how to best treat your disease and get advice from those who have been there, who can teach you how to best fight the negative side effects you may be experiencing.
There are a variety of cancer survivor networks available. The Cancer Hope Network is one such network. Through them you can be matched with someone who has been through cancer treatment, who may be going through something similar to you. This group can match you with people who have gone through anything from a common cancer like breast cancer to a very rare cancer like mesothelioma. You can receive emotional support and encouragement online or over the phone. Actual cancer survivors will tell the stories, will tell you it is possible to live a full live despite having cancer. You will not be talking with someone who is a professional therapist, but with someone who knows just what you are going through.
There is also support provided for caregivers and links to different agencies that might be able to give advice on treatments.
The Cancer Information Network provides links to a variety of support helps to cancer victims, including a letter from a survivor of lung cancer, a link to the Cancer Hope Network, and links to other agencies that provide support. There are also links to sites that give information on treatment, legal issues, financial resources to those with cancer, and support resources for caregivers.
There are numerous other support agencies, including US & Too for those with prostrate cancer at ustoo.com, with links to many support groups, information about the disease, and more.
The American Brain Tumor Organization lists support groups, provides inspiring stories, advice on how to manage fatigue, rehabilitative medicine, speech pathology services, and many other resources.
While having cancer can be devastating, there is help available.
By: David Haas
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
A Sacred Walk: Dispelling the Fear of Death and Caring for the Dyingby Donna M. Authers
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
today we lost our Eva..and i am struggling with the idea of "just"..as in just a cat...i mean i lost my dad for goodness sake.. i have lost cousins, grandparents.. but never a cat.. sure i flushed a few fish in my day.. i don't remember those losses... my dog's disappearance is a mystery.. so was my brother's dog.. so i was not expecting the loss of our little Eva to hit me so hard.. i kind of walked around the house for a while.. not sure what to do.. but writing has helped me cope with so much that i felt this blog fitting to place her memorial..
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
as worried that doing this would bring up all kinds of unresolved or even perfectly resolved issues with grief. I no longer have that worry. Me doing this has nothing to do with my dad. I am doing this because I know that I can. For the same reason I teach special education. I could teach anything but I focus on special education because I can. I can talk to the living all day, but I chose to give my time to the dying, because I can. And wouldn’t it be a shame to waste that on reruns of Oprah. As much as I love my Oprah time, it can be spent more impactfully (yes I make up words now). Ok.. getting off my soapbox.. I have a couple of book reviews if you are interested:
In preparation for my journey as a hospice volunteer I have a stack of books to read. A list was sent from HOM and I ordered a couple from my library.. as well as a few that came up in the search. The two books that I am reviewing today are written by hospice volunteers. Each writes about patients of whom have make an impact on the volunteer and either offered a learning experience or a better understanding of themselves.
When Evening Comes: The Education of a Hospice Volunteer
All I can say after reading this book is “wow.” Christine’s account of the connection and struggle to connect with her patients was so raw and honest. My first thought was that it was too honest and could be offensive to family members. But I wasn’t reading it from that perspective. I was reading it looking for tips and tools. What I got instead was a look inside a volunteer as she struggled with feelings of inadequacy and the potentiality of crossing the lone with her patients. She writes, in journal form, about finding her “place” within the care team, friends and family of the patient. She worries about her misgivings and slip ups. In one particular passage in which iced coffee squirted out of my nose after reading it, she describes meeting a couple who is a bit too open about the wife’s cancer. The husband openly discusses where the cancer is, how long she’s had it… cancer cancer cancer. As Christine listens to him speak she wonders how his openness with a stranger is making his wife feel. She attempts to change the subject by making note of the brightly decorated Christmas tree. She says “how pretty that tree looks with all the cancer on it.” For days she frets over how to make it better. What could she say or do to take it back.
She also writes about her struggle to find a reason why she is a volunteer. She worries that her volunteering as well as her murder-mystery authorship makes her seem macabre. She gives text- book answers to the “why” question and fears no one believes her as she does not believe herself. She doesn’t dwell on this question but discusses it while trying to say open and receive the “gifts” other volunteers talk about.
Through Christine’s honesty and self discovery, I certainly picked up a few tools but more importantly discovered how important being honest with one’s self is in this journey!
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes
By Frances Shani Parker
Loving Healing Press, 2007
I really don’t like to say that I did not like a book. Really each book has something different to offer and the fact that I finished it is a testament to it right? So I didn’t like this book, rather, it was not my “cup-o-lemon-ginseng-green-tea.” I find most poetry pretentious. I love to teach the subject and I love giving kids that alternative way to express themselves. But really, just say what you need to say. I am guilty of a few too many metaphors I’m sure.. but I still tend to roll my eyes when beats and measures are used for emphasis.. just use an exclamation point.. it serves the same purpose. That being said, the author of this book is an acclaimed and note worthy poet and it shows through her writing, which is possibly the reason I found it trying to read.
Back to the book- Frances Shani Parker, a
As a volunteer she visits with the patients she lovingly writes about. She learns how to be “open” (a recurring theme in both books), and how to visit each patient in their reality. I found this the most helpful. Many of her patients had some form of dementia and if she had not been able to relate to them in their reality, time would have been wasted either ignoring them or trying to convince them otherwise. For instance one of her patients claims that there is a man under her bed. The author crawls under the bed and shouts for the man to leave her patient alone. The mental image made me giggle but also made sense. What would most people have done? Try to convince the woman that there was no one under her bed? That would have frustrated all involved. In the patient’s reality there was a man there, and the author was able to quiet and comfort her by playing along.
There were also patients that she struggled to connect with simply because there was no verbal communication between the two. With each patient she found a way to connect, through music, or through speaking to them as though it were a year in their youth.
Although I struggled with some of the author’s writing style I was still able to learn so much through her experiences.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
my dad and brother would take these road trips.. they drove route 66 into
if you have read my blog for any amount of time then you know that my brother plays a big part in it... because as much as this is my blog.. my dad was OUR dad.. so i could never leave his views or experiences out of it.. for past blog posts featuring my brother see:
i woke up this morning to an amazing surprise.. a guest blog email from none other... it was so hard to read because we don't really talk about this.. we try to think about the good times.. and i think we worry about protecting each other's feelings.. but it made me think about something i learned over the weekend..i am in training to volunteer for hospice... and in our first training we talked a little about the dying process.. we were told to listen to the patients in their process of passing.. we should take it seriously if they are talking to people that have passed before or if they are reaching out.. our dad waved into the corner.. my mom asked if he was waving to the angels.. he nodded yes... we were also told that hearing is the last sense to go.. so they can hear us even if they do not respond.. my brother and i took turns telling our dad that we would be okay, that he can rest.. it was not permission to die.. never that.. it was the understanding that this cancer had taken his body and my God we would miss him and hurt for him but we didn't want him to struggle... or worry about us in his last hours.. he waited till my brother and i left the room to pass.. and in my brother's writing of his last words to our dad i fully believe he heard him.. and was proud of his strength.. and as much as he didn't want to leave us.. knew.. we would be okay...
and i am so proud of him for doing this.. for putting his feelings into words.. into taking such a cathartic step.. so without further ado.. my brother's words
I always think back to his sick days and I feel like it’s healthy to write a little about it. The first time I found out my dad was sick was a week after we went to go see Gran Torino and my dad was shaving and told me, “hey don’t I look like Clint Eastwood?” The day before he told me I had went with him to a doctor’s appointment, he said to come with him inside where the doctor was going to talk to him, then he told me “maybe you should just wait outside”, I began to worry. Let’s skip through to the part where they told me. It was a Saturday after the doctor’s appointment and I felt something was weird, as my mom and dad and I sat down to eat breakfast my mom said “your dad has cancer.” I looked at my dad and cried and ran outside then called my sister right away, she explained to me he will be having surgery and everything will be okay.
The night of my dad’s surgery I remember doing the most stupid thing ever. I smoked pot. I guess I felt like this was the thing to do at a time like this, I was wrong and I told my sister and she was very upset and I trashed the weed that night. The surgery, as we were waiting in the waiting room I was just anxious I wanted it to be over already. We got to see my dad before he went into surgery and I cried, he told me “I will be alright and I’ll see you when I get out.” I left my dad and went outside, I needed fresh air. Just then my cousins Mike and Gj and Jr came to get me and we went to eat. When my dad got out of surgery I felt so much better, happy and thanking God. Thinking to myself that everything’s over now, but I was wrong. The doctors tested my dad again and found that there was more cancer and it spread. I couldn't believe it and started blaming God. After the doctors tried treatment a couple different times, my dad became very weak and I hated it but as long as the cancer would go away he needed to keep doing it. I was let down those times the treatments failed I had hoped something would work. It didn't.
My dad gave his life to Christ, September of 2009. He was so full of hope and we had an angel with us, Gilbert Castillo (Gj). He did so much for my dad, he loved him so much and my dad loved him, Gj was at our house everyday praying and keeping my dad full of hope. When my dad was coming to his last days Gj was suppose to go on a trip with his soon to be wife, my dad told Gj “Go have a good time.” My dad didn't care about himself; he wanted Gj to have a good time.
Another angel sent to us was Natalie Zaragoza, she would take my dad to all the appointments and treated my dad as if he were hers. It seemed like she always knew what to do. (I’m not trying to leave people out, the others I didn't mention you know who you are).
The last day, I remember everyone coming over. My Tia Kinney played the guitar, I guess to make his final breath peaceful. As everyone was in the room my mom begged my dad to get up and drink coffee begged and cried, and just told him to get up. I finally did the hardest thing ever, I stood up and gave my dad a hug and told him “dad, you can go now, you can go dad, we will be okay, mom will be okay, you don’t have to fight anymore. dad you fought hard enough dad now you just rest”(11:00pm). My dad did not pass away until 3:35am he waited and still fought to his last breath.
My dad left me with his personality as I’m told by some people. He left and touched so many people’s hearts and left spaces in their hearts as well. To this day I always have my dad with me. I know God is preparing a place for me in heaven so I can be with my dad. I wish I could just hug him and tell him I love him and tell him thank you one last time, but I know the next time we meet it will be forever.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
my dad decided to give fly fishing a try.. my husband lent him some waders and he caught a few bass..when he returned home (back to AZ) he apparently purchased a fly fishing vest..i didn't know about it until i was home with him for his last few months of life... some nights i would get into his closet and smell his shirts... when he was sick he didn't quite smell like himself.. and i longed for the dust mixed with stetson and leather smell that seemed to cling to him all the time... while in his closet one night while everyone slept i found the vest.. it was in the very back and the tags were still on it... i don't know when he bought it or why he never used it.. but there it hung...
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
- my dad was not afraid of the tighty whiteys... he would open the door in them.. unashamed.. and more focused on the reason you are at the door to begin with... when he was getting very thin and his shorts fell down in the front lawn (can you call rocks a lawn?) he just grinned.. and said the breeze felt nice....
- my dad loved to dance (let me quantify this a bit more.. not so much actual dancing.. more like silly movements to music)... it was not surprising to catch him doing a little jig to whatever music was in his head.. and if there was actual music.. watch out!
- my dad loved music- our lives were filled with music.. many times he would start singing and after a while we would all join in... sometimes he would sit and strum his guitar and my brother would get out his keyboard and it would sound just horrible! when his mp3 player was full of battery power, he was in his own little world of cindy lauper and old country
- my dad was strong... not in the way that most girls except their dads to be.. i mean STRONG... naturally strong.. he definitely had a steel working bull riding grip.. holding his hand when he prayed, even in his last days, felt like holding an anvil...
- my dad was happiest outdoors.. hunting.. fishing... camping... even simply sitting on the porch... he was like an ocean mammal.. he had to get out for air in order to live..what i think he got out of it... is what i am ever in search of.. freedom...
- never ask him for help with homework: my dad was probably too smart for his own good... he watched too much PBS... my brother and i asked him as a last resort....you know.. when you are just trying to get done... you just want to go to bed... but you have one last thing to do and it is stumping you...so you get desperate.. and ask him... well settle in.. it's going to be a while... my favorite example is when i was working on dividing fractions... and he told me the history of fractions!!!! the history!!!!!
- sometimes he really DIDN'T know: you could have asked my dad anything... ANYTHING... and he would know the answer.. as a little girl.. i thought he really did know everything... as an adult... i saw just how much he made up... yup.. made up... my brother didn't believe me... we were trying to remember who sings the theme song for Toy Story (randy newman, the laziest song writer alive).... but dad said john sebastian... he answered with so much conviction..we laughed and said he'd made it up... he never admitted to making up that name... he said Google was wrong....
- he watched ANYONE who performed on Austin City Limits: on the last list i wrote about how much he loved music.. well this included horrible bands like Cold Play.. simply because they played Austin City Limits... i had a bit of a crush on Paolo Nutini... before i knew his name i called him the hot Scottish guy... from the other side of the house i heard "the hot Scottish guy is on!!!!"... when i got there he was laughing... "just kidding, it's willie nelson again"
- he hated The Simpsons: few things really got his goat... i will never know if he actually ever watched an episode...i think he would have thought it was funny.. but his heels were dug in and he stuck to it....i was grown.. an adult... visiting from Michigan... i was up late watching the simpsons... he walked in and started yelling at me (me....an adult.. married.. living a half a country away)..... i giggled and blew it off.. until he woke up my mom to tell on me.....
- he personified IRON WILL: he woke up at 4am to go to work... some mornings i would be awake to and watched him drive away from my bedroom window.. i felt so sorry for him... to have to go to work in the dark....some days he came home with burned holes in his shirt or skin! (welding).... he worked really hard for us for so many years.... i think it had to be the will to work... when he was in his wheelchair... he did everything he could to still walk to the bathroom.. he would lock his legs... even if was just a few steps... when he pulled himself on and off the wheel chair.... it was will.. sheer will...
- my dad was never bored: he could easily amuse himself... usually by making some kind of animal call with his mouth.. his favorite was a javelina call.. one particularly uneventful fishing trip comes to mind... on one side of the lake sat my dad, myself, my brother and my husband.. on the other was a pair of men... then after an entire day of nibbles my dad begins to call in these phantom javelina... the men across the lake didn't realize that the horrible sound was coming from my dad.. they looked left and right for the large hairy pig.. when they realized it was my dad they laughed in relief and we all called it a day...
- he liked trying new things: on one trip to San Fransisco he talked us all into trying "authentic" Chinese food... lets just say it involved a few live things.. and some tepid octopus... not to mention the time he decided to take up skate boarding and went out and bought himself a skate board complete with vicious looking cobra on the deck
- he loved kids: before i came along he doted on his nieces and nephews.. each of us, it seems, had our own song... most didn't have words.. just a cute little tune.. either way.. we were all very special to him
- he didn't drink: he sipped... he nursed.. possibly before i was born and in his younger years he did.. but what i like about this is that he didn't need to.. he was fun and laid back all on his own... he was real.. all the time
- he was slow: he drove slow, ate slow, walked slow.. and it drove people nuts... i am sure it drove me nuts a time or two... but now when i think about it, i can appreciate it... that he didn't rush through life... he was always stopping to smell the roses...
- he had tiny teeth... i don't know why or how but his teeth were little.. but.. he made up for it with a huge warm smile
- he had little hands (i have little hands) short stubby fingers... but i miss them the most.. i miss the roughness of them and the strength within them.. those seemingly small stout hands could have and sometimes did carry the world
- he could sneeze you out of a car... his truck(s) were always dusty.. and it never failed.. anytime you got into the cab with him he would sneeze.. a sneeze that would literally fog you out.. no matter how close you leaned to the window...
- he was a man of few words... he didn't say a whole lot... he was quiet and patient and just sat there and took things in.. but when he had something to say.. i don't think anyone could NOT listen..