Sunday, July 07, 2013

I'm Sure They Knew I Wasn't a Cat

I was asked to go to a building I had never been before.  Inside the extremely large, white building people seemed so busy.  It scared me to see people hurrying about so quickly.   I felt a sense of urgency as we entered a large room where people looked worried, sad or depressed.  Life seemed to stand still here.  No one was talking at all in this room.  My parents looked worried as well.  There were several TV’s on but everyone seemed to be staring off into space, not watching the TV’s, including us.   This made me even more scared.  Why was I here?  My parents said something about tests being done.  I didn’t know what that meant.  The only test I knew was done is school.  This was not school, that was for sure. 

One by one I saw the worried people called up by someone in pajamas and they walked through a door.  I never saw them again.  After waiting forever, one of the pajama people called my name; we went with her through the same door.  I was worried we would not return either.  Where were we going?  They put my parents and I into a small room with a bed and I waited some more.  At least it had a TV I could change to whatever station I wanted.  I nervously watched, not really paying attention.  There was this tension in the room that I had never felt before. 

I waited some more.  My heart jumped at an unexpected knock at the door.  What was going on?  The nice, friendly lady said they had to take some blood.  I was so nervous; I barely felt the poke in my arm, then more waiting and staring at the TV, just like those people in the first room.  Another knock at the door made my heart leap.  They told me they wanted to take some pictures.  That sounded okay.  We went into a room with a big machine.  It didn’t look anything like a camera.   What was this thing?  They said it was a cat scan.  I’m sure they knew I wasn’t a cat.

What were they looking for?  I went through this tube thing, back and forth several times, and was told to lie still.  I wondered if they noticed me shaking.  I hoped they didn’t.  Then back to my room with the TV and more waiting.  I don’t really remember all the other tests, but I was no longer startled each time they knocked at the door. 

Then a pajama person and two people in white coats came into my TV room.  There is something inside of your body, they told me, that is not supposed to be there and we are not sure how it got there.  In my mind, I thought in the middle of the night, some evil person had placed a bomb in my body and now they were just finding it.

I actually dreamed about this a few nights ago.  I dreamed that two people in military outfits came to me with robots searching for a bomb inside my body.  I was so scared it was going to explode inside me.  I saw them looking at a TV screen, when suddenly someone said, “30 seconds.”  Everyone then left the room, and a guy came in my room with a big space suit like outfit.  All I remember is waiting… waiting… waiting for the bomb to go off.   It is almost as if this dream were coming true.   “Do I have a bomb inside me?”  I felt that same panicked feeling I had in my dream.   Why would someone put a bomb in me?

Another knock at the door brought me back to reality.  It was kind of fun to be wheeled in a bed upstairs to another room with a bed and a TV.  I was told they were going to make me better.  I did not understand what needed to be fixed.  My parents told me they were going to do an operation to take a piece of a mass out of me so they could look at it under a microscope.  I wasn’t sure what a mass was but my parents pretended like they were okay, but I could tell they weren’t.  What was inside me that would draw this much attention?  A few days later I heard them say the word, “cancer.” 

I was not sure what cancer was, but I knew it was not good.  I realized that one of my uncles died from cancer.  Was I going to die?  I did not want to ask this question to anyone for fear of the answer.  I just sat and worried about it everyday.  I wish someone would ask me if I worried about dying.  I wanted to talk about it but I was so scared. 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee

Whenever someone says, "Let me tell you a story," our ears perk up and we're ready to listen.  If someone says, "Have a seat and and I will give you step-by-step instructions,"  we aren't as prone to listen very closely.  Stories give us the ability to read between the lines, awaken our creative potential and are less threatening to our innate desire to want to choose our own destiny.  If the story is doesn't keep your interest however, you might as well go back to the step-by-step instructions.

I started Emm's story, Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee, with the statement, "When I saw Emmalee take her last breath, I was forever changed."  I have heard some rumblings from people about why I gave away the fact that Emmalee died in the first sentence of the book.  My answer is, I was inspired about that being the first line of the book.  I am not exactly certain why, and yes, I blew the ending to the book.

It is the non-traditional way to start a book like this, but I have had so many people tell me, they can't put the book down.  Why is that?  I think it is because there are information gaps that people want to fill.  The most important is, what happened?  The story I want people to know is, how did Emmalee live, knowing she was going to die?

She was full of faith but her story is not the typical cancer story that she was always positive and looked cancer in the face and laughed.  Fear of the unknown was overwhelming at times for all of us.  Emm's story is a raw account of what it is like to live with a bomb inside, not knowing when it is going to explode.  It is intense, but inspiring and will help you want to be a better person.  Love is the key to life and is the only thing that holds this world together.

Her story will strengthen you forever!


Steve (Emm's dad)


Friday, March 29, 2013

This is an article that a young man wrote wanting to bring awareness to Mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that is often times asbestos related.  I knew a co-worker who died from this type of cancer.  Below, Cameron describes what it is like to be a supportive husband for his wife who is battling this disease. 

Remaining Strong with a Cancer Diagnosis

My wife has said that she doesn’t know how I managed to survive while she was
suffering from mesothelioma. As her husband and caregiver, I did go through a lot
of hardship and emotional turmoil. I also learned several valuable lessons that I
hope to now share with others currently struggling through cancer.

Three months before receiving the diagnosis, our only child, Lily was born. Lily
brought so much joy and happiness to our lives, and the future of our new little family
seemed bright and exciting. However, in three short months, all of that happiness
would be ripped away, and replaced by fear and despair. The first time I heard the
words “malignant pleural mesothelioma” is still very vivid to me. I could only look at
my wife as she cried and wonder, “How are we going to be able to survive this?”

I would have retreated into myself and had a breakdown if the doctor had not
brought me back to reality with questions about how we would like to proceed in
treating this disease. We were given a list of different options, and were expected
to make decisions for our future in the face of this emotional struggle. It was on this
day that I began to learn how to make difficult decisions at the same time that I was
feeling entirely vanquished.

My days were filled with fury and anxiety after the diagnosis. My rage was out of
control, and I frequently used profane language when talking to people. I lashed
out at others angrily in the attempt to vent my emotions, but soon realized that my
outbursts were not helping our situation at all. After a little time passed, my feelings
came under control. I realized that I had a duty to be a rock for my wife and child.
Both of them needed me. There were times when I was feeling weak, but I managed
to remain strong in the presence of my wife. I didn’t ever want her to know just how
frightened I was. I was committed to being a source of strength, encouragement and
support for her. This was not always so easy to do, but I did my best.

Sometimes, I had so many things to do that I was completely overwhelmed. It was
up to me to take care of everything, including working, making the arrangements
for our travel and taking care of the baby and our pets. It seemed impossible in the
beginning, but I discovered how to prioritize my tasks. I also learned that I could not
do everything myself. I had to be willing to let others help us, and we were fortunate
to have several people who were willing to do just that. Once I let go of my pride and
learned how to ask for help, our lives became much easier.

Two months in particular were agonizingly difficult for me. After undergoing
mesothelioma surgery in Boston, my wife went to stay with her parents in South
Dakota to recover and prepare for the next phase of her treatment. Lily had already
been staying there during the operation, which left me home alone to work and take
care of our house. For the next two months, I would have to be apart from my wife
and daughter.

After work one Friday, I drove all night long through a snowstorm to see them. It
was a short visit. I got there Saturday morning and stayed until Sunday afternoon,
leaving in time to be at work Monday morning. It was a long, exhausting trip for not a
lot of time with them, but it was worth every second to see them. This was the only
time I saw them in those two months.

This experience taught me a lot about myself and my family. The best lessons I
learned were learning how to accept help from our loved ones and to never allow
yourself to regret or second guess the tough decisions that are forced upon you
by cancer. Rather, we learned to take comfort in our ability to make decisions at
all. They gave us some small amount of control over a situation that often seemed
completely out of our hands. After seven years, Heather is still by my side, and
cancer free to this day. I hope our story helps others continue to fight their own
battles with cancer.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Lord tells us, in the Bible, that the first and great commandment is to love God with all you heart, soul and mind.  If this is the first and great commandment then no other commandment needs to exist.  If we loved him to our fullest capacity, His love would guide us to do His will.  If we Love Him then we will want to obey Him unconditionally because we trust him with all of our heart.  If we truly trust Him then fear dissipates, our worries dissolve and challenges are understood.   We then gain knowledge of his abundant love for us and realize that He would not give us a meaningless law to follow.  We would know that He is aware of our needs and that being obedient is in our advantage even when logically it may not make sense in our own mind.  If we love Him we will follow Him without wondering why we should obey any of His laws.  If we love Him with our whole heart, soul and mind why would we even question his ways or laws?

The second commandment is to love our neighbor as our self.  The Lord could have just said to love our neighbor and stopped right there, but he added the part about ourself.  There is equality in this statement.  We love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.  For those who are more self centered, this means that you need to love your neighbor more than you are already loving yourself.  For those people who tend to take care of the world, it means you need to take a step back and love yourself a bit more.

The problem is that those self centered individuals are less likely to see that they are not loving their neighbor enough and those who serve the world before they take care of themselves are likely to feel a change in their behavior would be selfish.

There have been a handful of people who I have met who project unconditional love and healthy self-confidence in a complete balance.  We are human and may not achieve this total balance in this life but will have opportunities in the next life.  I can only imagine meeting Christ and feeling of His perfectness.  The peace and unconditional love that would come from that meeting would be amazing.  I firmly believe that Emmalee has had this opportunity and know that experiencing the Savior's love will be a spiritual and emotionally healing.