JaniceHeck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the category “Cancer”

Wordless Wednesday: Colors of Recovery

janice Heck photo, Colors of Recovery

Colors of Recovery

Cause awareness by color

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Stand Up and Honor!

One way to stand up for those fighting against cancer is to join a Relay for Life walk. My family remembers and honors many of our family members who have had cancer.

Cup Song, Round 2, Cancer Free

I posted about the popular Cup Song on July 13, 2013

Photo Credit: Tumblr

Photo Credit: Tumblr

Now here’s another version that will touch your heart. Carmen, a young cancer patient, sings her own celebratory version of The Cancer-Free Cup Song with her doctors, Dr. Steele and Dr. Pope.

And here’s another version sponsored by the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation:

We celebrate with Carmen as she sings, “And I finally beat cancer May 23!”

Congratulations, Carmen, and our best wishes for you in your cancer-free future.

The Last Meow

Yeah, she is cancer free! We couldn’t be happier!

cats muscial

Meow for now.  =<^;^>=

One Cliche That Must Die NOW: “to die for”

We hear and read many clichés every day, but one in particular irritates me immensely: “to die for.”

In February of 2000, my husband died from kidney cancer. In the course of making arrangements with the funeral home directress, we were consoled knowing that my husband’s last hours were peaceful and without pain.

At the funeral a few days later, my step-daughter wore a stylish black dress, and having long blond hair, she looked stunning.

The funeral home directress, now known as the “Dragon Lady” in my family, commented to me, “That dress is drop-dead gorgeous.”

Tactful? Not.

A few days later, my sister and brother-in-law and I decided to take a short break from the stress of the week, and we drove to Lake Tahoe for a breather.

Dragon Lady called to check on a detail regarding the death certificate. I mentioned, “We are on our way back from Lake Tahoe and will be home in an hour.”

“Lake Tahoe?” she said. “You really live the good life.”

Her comment pulled the thinnest of scabs off the deepest, rawest wound. Good life? Fresh air in searing pain is more like it.

A couple of years ago, my daughter’s in-laws toured New Hampshire admiring the brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges of the fall foliage. They stayed at a bed and breakfast, and for dinner one night, they had a delicious pumpkin-squash soup.

On Facebook later that evening, her mother-in-law described the soup as “to die for.”

The next day both husband and wife drowned in a freakish, horrible accident after falling into a gushing, rollicking river, flooded with newly thawed ice and melting snow. They never had a chance.

I just read this phrase again today on a chicken recipe (of all things) on Facebook: “This chicken is TO DIE FOR!!!” (complete with capital letters and three exclamation points!)

“To die for…” No, I don’t think so.

This is one cliché that must die. People use it heartlessly, without ever considering the words they use or how it impacts others who have experienced tragic loss of loved ones. It must die, NOW.

Rough Lot. Smooth Lot. We Get Through and Learn.

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May, May 16. Something difficult in your “lot in life” and how you’re working to overcome it.

So much has changed in my life over the years. Difficulties have come and gone, and I am the wiser and braver for it all.

Now in retirement, I can look back and put the rough patches in perspective. How did that struggle ultimately help me?

Whether the rough patches related to family issues, relationship issues, work issues, or personal/spiritual issues, the result is the same. I made it through.

That is not to minimize the difficult spots. Some were tough. The most difficult was the death of my first husband from cancer. I saw cancer up front, close, and personal, and I didn’t like it at all. Cancer caused a lot of physical and emotional pain for me and my family. But even that pain changed me. I became much more aware of others around me who suffered silently with their own pain. I have tried to develop a more compassionate and encouraging personality.

Here I am now.  I have a lot:

My-Heck-of-A-Guy (my newish husband, Ken) who doesn’t mind being teased and even reads my posts. We met fifty years ago and married eight years ago. (It took him a long time to make up his mind.)

My family. Though my family has shrunk through death over the years, we remain close. We have lost both parents, one brother, and one sister, four nephews, two great nieces, and two spouses. Several members of my family now have serious medical issues. We no longer have the mass holiday parties we used to have, and sometimes we have no party at all. But life goes on. We have grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and friends’ children. We celebrate life with them.

Mom's 90th Birthday-Kroey Krewe Family Reunion

Mom’s 90th Birthday-Kroey Krewe Family Reunion

My good friends. I have lived in a number of places in this world (New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Alaska, Hong Kong) and I have made good friends in each of those places. Moving to new places means some loss of contact with these friends. But now with social media, especially Facebook, I can maintain those friendships with a few words, a picture, or a joke.

My faith. Where would I be without this? It is my foundation and my source of strength.

Time to write. This is the biggest blessing for me. I have always been too busy working to take time to write, even though I loved teaching writing to students. Now in retirement, I can write to my heart’s content. The blogging challenges have gotten me going again, and I have met such good and encouraging writers in the blogosphere.

My lot in life now is good. My only minor difficulties are a slow Internet and changing eyesight that comes with age. I can deal with these.

I know. I am soooo cute.

I know. I am soooo cute.

The Last Meow

Don’t forget us. We have made your life pleasanter, haven’t we? I see you laughing when I do cute things. Wait. You’re not laughing at me, are you? Cause if you are, no more cute things!

Meow for now.  =<^:^>=

Saturday Sampling: Meandering through the Blogosphere

As I meander through the blogosphere, I copy and paste blog post titles that appeal to me into a blank post. At the end of the week, I sort through these titles and choose my favorites. Here is this week’s sampling.

Books:

Anita Ferreri at the Nerdy Book Club, Retro Review: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

Anita Ferreri, literary specialist in Winchester County, NY, reminds us of the excellent qualities in the Winnie-the-Pooh books.

Milne’s books are classics that teachers can read to children in the early grades. His lovable characters (Christopher Robin, Pooh, Tigger, Owl, and Eeyore) express wisdom that stays long in the hearts and minds of children and adults.

Grammar:

Sharifah Z. Williams, Dems da Rules: Adverbs

Williams, writer and and self-proclaimed word-eater, reminds us that unneeded adverbs, the “most sinister of writing faux pas,” don’t necessarily interfere with a good story line. In fact, if you are engrossed in the story, you will not notice the adverbs. Still, it is wise for good writers to use adverbs with care.

Spelling

Judythe Morgan, Spellcheckers and Pullet Surprise Work

Judythe Morgan reminds us that our spelling system is not perfect by quoting a 1992 poem by Dr. Jerrold H. Zar. Our spellcheckers are not perfect either; they do not check for context when doing their thing. Here’s a clip to prove the point.

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Hashtags

Tom Whitby, How Does #Edchat Connect Educators?

The #edchat hashtag connects teachers for Twitter chats on Tuesdays at noon and 7 p.m. each week. Interested Tweeters carry on a running conversation on pre-selected education topics. What a neat way to keep up with changes and trends in education.

I have used the #edchat hashtag on Twitter a number of times to pass on articles/posts worthy of an educator’s notice. This post tells more about this useful tag and how it came to be.

Health:

Michael King, A Cancer Story: Thoughts of Death

Cancer has hit my family hard, and it may have hit yours, too. The emotional impact of this horrible disease is deep but not always talked about openly. Michael King shares his physical and emotional pain in dealing with his own cancer. This is a good blog for cancer fighters and cancer care-givers to follow. Michael is fighting back at cancer by writing about it. My family fights back through Relay for Life.

Recipes:

Anderson Cooper, 7 Recipes for $7 (Charles Mattacks, The Poor Chef)

I love food blogs so I follow a number of them and look for recipes to try out. This post features Charles Mattacks (The Poor Chef) who shares recipes that cost about $7.00 each. I am going to try out this featured “Granny’s Chicken Curry” sometime soon.

Cats:

And now…*drum roll*… two cat posts for the week. You didn’t think I would skip the cats, did you?

Derek Perry, On the Subject of Cats and Poets, at WORD SALAD: Stories from the Savage Pen. Cat owners will love this post! Nuff said.

B.F. Kazmarski, The Creative Cat, Daily Sketch: On The Edge. Check this site for a delightful charcoal pencil sketch of Mimi and Jelly Bean.

YOUR TURN:

What was your favorite post this week?

Relay for Life Wash-Out, Or Not

Our Ocean City, NJ, American Cancer Society Relay for Life,  June 22, 2012, was almost a complete wash-out weather-wise.

The local organizing committee worked hard to pull this event off, but lightning, thunder, and rain thwarted attempts to run the usual all-night Relay.

Volunteers started signing in Relay teams at 4 pm, but dark, threatening clouds hung in the sky above us. It was not a question of if it would rain, but when it would rain and for how long.

Local South Jersey Channel 40 weatherman hero, Dan Skeldon, warned that we would have intermittent thunderstorms and rain throughout the evening. Still, we signed in teams and watched the skies. We advised teams not to set up their tents, but a few intrepid groups managed to get theirs up despite the theatening weather.

Thunder and lightning flashes became more frequent, and the rains began, so we moved inside the Ocean City Civic Center to wait out the storm.

Photo by Cassandra Heck

The crowd inside dwindled a bit as some of the faint-hearted Relayers called it quits and left for home. The rest of us participated in the hastily reorganized, but memorable, opening ceremonies.

Within the hour, the rain abated, and Relayers began to walk the track. A number of teams (mostly the teens) put up their tents on the football field.

My team, the NJ Krewe du Kroey, departed for local headquarters a few blocks away at the first signs of thunder and lightning but made their way back to join me on the track as soon as the rain stopped. Several pansies members of the team decided to stay home and collect those long dormant dust bunnies under the beds that were now demanding immediate attention. Oh well, their loss.

The braver members of the NJ Krewe du Kroey

While the NJ Krewe du Kroey team dawdled in a warm, dry house, I talked with photographer Brian M Richards. At first, I thought he was with the The Press of Atlantic City, but when I talked to him, he revealed that as a volunteer event photographer, he goes to seven or eight Relays a year, takes pictures, and posts them online for the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Relay followers. You can find more pictures of the Ocean City Relay here.

Brian choked up, and his eyes reddened and filled with tears when I asked him why he went to so many Relay for Life events. “I have lost nineteen family members to cancer, including my mother, father, and youngest brother. Coming to Relay for Life and taking pictures helps me remember and honor them. Cancer is a terrible disease, and this is my way to fight against it.”

Later, I saw a familiar Relayer, Jimmy Walker, walking the track in his HOPE Relay for Life T-shirt. Each year we see Jimmy at the Ocean City Relay, and he faithfully walks all night long despite having to walk with a cane. Just his presence makes us smile and encourages us to complete more laps than we had originally planned to walk. We admire his stamina, his determination, and his loyalty to Relay for Life.

I asked Jimmy why he participates in Relay for Life, and he responded with a broad smile, “I do this because I want to encourage others in their fight against cancer.”

A primary function of the Relay for Life is to raise funds for cancer research. Each team gathers sponsors and donations before the Relay, but many also do on-site fundraisers. Our team planned to do face-painting, sell popcorn, and do the Great PheeBee Blueberry Funnel-Cake-in-the-Face-Fiasco-Fund-raiser. These on-site fund-raisers for the Krewe were #EpicFail, not because of lack of effort, but because that thunder and lightning storm kept battering us.  (Anyone have any ideas for what to do with 100 bags of popcorn we couldn’t sell?)

PheeBee in 2010 Fantastic Blueberry Funnel Cake Fund-raiser Fiasco

Because the Relay crowd had thinned out significantly, we decided to save that delicious blueberry funnel cake for another fund raising event. Then we thought we should just eat it on the spot. Hmmm. Where did it go?

Other teams had fund-raisers planned, too. Delicious looking sandwiches, cupcakes, and boardwalk pizza appeared for sale at tables around the track. Food always makes for a good fund-raiser.

One twelve-year-old boy designed a “Candyland” theme for his fund-raiser. This site was popular with the younger members of the NJ Krewe du Kroey who stopped by to ponder the choices. Ten pieces of candy for $1.00. What a deal and for a good cause besides! What parent (or grandparent) could argue with that?

MiMi and her stash of penny candy.

But the rain was not finished for the evening, and dark clouds once again rolled over the Ocean City High School football field and track. And once again, Relay activities moved inside the Civic Center for the remainder of the event.

While the rain definitely dampened the Relay, it could not snuff out the spirits of the Relayers. Talk has already started about next year’s Relay! Maybe you can join us. We have asked Dan Skeldon to reserve better weather for us.

Have You Lost a Family Member, Friend, or Acquaintance to Cancer?

Photo: Opening Ceremonies for Relay for Life

If you have lost a family member, friend, or acquaintance to cancer, you may want to join a Relay for Life in your area. These Relays are held all over the country and world with teams of people raising funds for cancer research. Find a Relay team in your area here.

Relay for Life gives a unique opportunity to remember those family members, friends, and acquaintances who have lost their battle to cancer; to pray and hope with loved ones who currently battle cancer; and to celebrate the lives of those whose cancer has been cured or is in remission.

Our local Relay will be held on June 22, 2012 at the Ocean City (NJ) High School track. Last year approximately 75 teams participated in the Ocean City Relay for Life, and we hope for that many teams or more again this year.

The opening ceremony sets the tone for the Relay (an all-night event with people walking the track from 6 pm to 7 am, only taking time off for short naps in tents on the field). It is a night of sadness and joy; a night of walking, talking, and bonding with family and friends; a night of music, games, challenges, contests, and outrageous silliness.

The cancer survivors’ walk, one of two most poignant events of the evening, comes first. Cancer survivors, wearing purple survivors’ shirts, walk the first lap, giving proof that cancer can be beaten. Relay participants stand along the side of the track and cheer, recognizing the sheer determination and courage it takes to fight cancer.

The second poignant event occurs after dark when luminaria (brightly decorated white paper bags with battery powered candles representing all those family members and acquaintances who have lost their battle with cancer) line the perimeter of the track. These luminaria stand in memory of and in honor of moms, dads, babies, children, teens, grandmoms, granddads, aunts, uncles, friends, and other acquaintances. The stadium lights dim; the crowd stands in silence in memory of loved ones lost. Memories and tears flow.

My extended family has four Relay for Life teams: The Krewe du Kroey (the original team in Texas); NJ Krewe du Kroey (my team); the South Carolina Krewe du Kroey; and the hardest working team, Kroey’s Teens against Cancer of Burleson, TX, led by my great niece 13-years-old Phoebe Chambers.  The TX and SC teams have already completed their 2012 Relay. (You can read more about the origins of Krewe du Kroey here.)

We participate in Relay for Life because we have lost family members to this terrible disease:

my late husband, Victor Patrick Hall;

my great niece, nine-year-old Joanne Theresa King;

my younger brother, Robert Kroelinger (“Texas Bob”);

my nephew, Darrel Varnam;

my brother-in-law, Don Millward;

and several of my mother’s sisters and brothers.

Friends, too, are battling cancer or have lost the battle.

This year, the Queen Bee of the Texas Relay for Life, Miss Phoebe Chambers, my very talented and charming great-niece, will rejoin the NJ Krewe for the 2012 Ocean City Relay. Pheebs will do anything for attention to raise money to fight against cancer. Her grandfather, Robert Kroelinger, my brother, lost his battle to cancer two years ago.

This year Pheebs will do a grand repetition of  2010 Ocean City blueberry funnel cake fiasco fund-raiser. This event should not be missed. Aunt Patty (cancer survivor) certainly enjoyed smashing Phoebe in the face with the blueberry funnel cake helped the last time Phoebe got stuck with this job volunteered to do this particular fun and tasty fund-raising event. So it was messy. So what?

Just throw some of that folding green stuff in Phoebe’s beach bucket and watch the humiliation fun begin. This is a quiet fundraiser other than the laughter and catcalls, so no coins!

I think it’s my turn this year…to manhandle the funnel cake, that is. HeeHeeHee. Watch out, Pheebs, I’m gonna getcha!

Oh well, Phoebe is a great sport, as well as an enthusiastic fund raiser for Relay for Life. Together with her Kroey Teens against Cancer she helped raise over $10,000 for cancer research. That’s a lot of funnel cakes in the face!

If you want to support this on-going cancer-fighting effort, come join us on Friday night, June 22, at the Ocean City (NJ) High School football field, or look for a Relay for Life in your area. I can guarantee you will laugh, and you will cry. The emotional impact that cancer creates when a loved one is lost to this horrible disease is high, but together we can work towards a cure. The Relay provides a bit of catharsis for all of us.

YOUR TURN: Have you lost someone to cancer? Have you found a Relay for Life near you? What was your Relay like? Did the Relay help you cope with your loss?

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