Friday, September 25, 2020

# 590 The Ride of a Lifetime

Chance, the wonder horse

 I don't necessarily enjoy surprises. In fact I usually manage to solve the mystery on my own given enough time and thought. A master sleuth I like to think of myself. 

Case in point, while having a conversation over the phone with my daughter a few months ago I had the inkling that she was hiding something from me.  After a few questions the nosy mom in me blurted out, "Are you pregnant?"  There was a brief pause and then an exclamation, "How did you know, Mother?"  They had planned on telling us in person that weekend. Chalk up another private detective mission accomplished; and a thrilled Grandma. 

However, this latest surprise on a beautiful fall day had me scratching my head trying to figure out what my BHE had in store for me.  He had entered the word surprise on the calendar for a Monday afternoon and that is when my master detective work sprung into action. Could it be a visit from my both sons flying home to see their dear old mom?  It didn't make sense knowing their busy schedule and, quite frankly, I'm not at death's doorstep quite yet (sorry about the morbid cancer humor). We had briefly discussed bucket lists and I racked my brain thinking what I had mentioned.  Catching a pass from Aaron Rodgers was one but that seemed out of the realm of possibilities even he could muster.

That morning, he advised me to wear jeans and an old shirt that could get dirty.  Jeans and a shirt? Still no clue.  I'd like to think all this chemo has dulled my brain but he is sure he had stumped me once and for all.

As we drove into the beautiful countryside I imagined a hike into the woods would be a lovely distraction.  Reflecting back through the previous weeks I hadn't been too whiny or demanding so leaving me by the side of the road didn't appear to be a possibility; and doesn't quite fit his moniker as the Best Husband Ever.  I was completely baffled.

Finally we turned into a farm set upon a hill and with a sign signaling my Aha! moment—I finally figured it out.  Gibson Training Center.  I was going to hang out with horses.  Me-- who loves the smell, their huge understanding eyes, the unconditional love they share fills me with awe every time I've been around these creatures. Good old Rob hit it out of the ballpark and he knew it.

Little did I know that not only would I be able to breathe in their delicious scent and groom them but I would actually get back into the saddle again.  Needless to say I was hesitant due to my creaky old cancer  bones and the fact that I hadn't ridden a horse in a number of years.  Gary Gibson, the owner of this wonderful facility, always has been a kind and understanding teacher. He refreshed my memory on horsemanship and before I knew it, I was riding around the arena with a big old smile on my face. 

Sure enough after getting up on this calm, steady horse I felt like this is where I should have been all along.  We walked, trotted and got to know each other in the short time I was on Chance's back.

So that was the story of my surprise day from the best husband ever.  He never ceases to amaze me with his ability to make every day count as special.  Love, love that man of mine.

Thanks for reading #590 of 7777+

Sunday, August 30, 2020

#589 Poems and Beyond

 I have discovered chemo brain and blog writing tend not to go hand in hand.  Since I started a new treatment (a nasty drug from hell which may prolong my life so can't complain),  I've had either debilitating side effects or space brain waves that have not permitted time to sit and create a blog.  

However, today is the day I told myself this morning to sit down and write. A little history about today's entry.  About ten weeks ago I sent out an email to friends asking if anyone would be interested in getting together on Zoom for poetry readings.  Much to my surprise, nine women came armed that night with their very own creations along with a poem or two from the "real" poets. We were all pleasantly surprised how much we missed sharing and creating while living in a pandemic.  Many reflected our feelings of isolation or how we have found joy during this time in our lives. 

I have decided to share some of my poetry with you.  Some were written over the course of the years dealing with cancer representing hope or despair, depending on my mood for the day.  Others show my frustration at seeing the world in 2020 during covid. 

Here are a random two I selected to share with you. 

                                                                     The New Course 

By Mary Gooze 

Rig up the sails

as we cruise through life.

Wait—what happened?

The sails have failed.

My body no longer a flying fleet

but a dilapidated worn out wreck of a ship.

“No worries”, says my beloved,

we will make this boat work.

Readjust the mast,

reconfigure our life,

fashion the new vessel to perform.

Even though it is not the voyage we foresaw, 

cancer will not guide our ride—

Simply readjust and reset.

Life sails on.

The Daunting 2020

Difficult times have been witnessed.

The morning news awakens me

to the horror and the chaos 

our nation is going through.

Hurricanes in the south, 

derecho in the midwest,

 fires in the west, 

unrest and covid across the continent.

Can we say, “ ENOUGH!”?

Can we reset this year


 devise a plan to become triumphant?

Begin today


A quick added note.  I will be swimming my fiftieth swim this week in northern Wisconsin.  Join me on facebook as I make my plunge and "swim" next to me in your pool, lake or your bathtub!


Thanks for reading #589 of 7777+.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

7777+ Days: #588 Post From My BHE

7777+ Days: #588 Post From My BHE: Dear Friends and Supporters, Rob has been at it again with blog writing.  He just finished watching a three part series on U.S. Grant...

#588 Post From My BHE

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Rob has been at it again with blog writing.  He just finished watching a three part series on U.S. Grant and is in his "war mindset". Bear with me--I have had to endure his endless history lessons.  Still love this man although somedays it is easier than others!

Mary and I were never fans of the term, “fighting or battling cancer”. The doctors, nurses, and researchers are the real warriors in such a fight.

Those that know me know of my passion for history especially war history. But after managing this disease for eight and a half years, my mindset has changed.

A war is not fought in one battle but is a series of engagements without ever knowing the outcomes. One goes from treatment to treatment as the enemy (cancer) evolves and fights back. You must change tactics midstream if necessary as reports (scans) come in.

On a good day you attack the enemy and live life to the fullest. On a bad day you set up defensive positions and hold on to your situation as best you can.

And, like going into war, the objective is the same. You just want to get back home to enjoy your family and have some semblance of normalcy in your life. As we celebrate our nation’s fight for freedom may all those “fighting” cancer eventually “win their war”.


Thanks for reading #588.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

7777+ Days: #587 Life Jackets=Life Savers

7777+ Days: #587 Life Jackets=Life Savers: Enjoying the campfire with Rosie We just spent a few days up north breathing in the aromatic smells of the trees and surrounding ourse...

#587 Life Jackets=Life Savers

Enjoying the campfire with Rosie
We just spent a few days up north breathing in the aromatic smells of the trees and surrounding ourselves with nature at its best.  Actually it qualifies as the second best remedy for the present situation after the greatest medicine of all--grandchildren hugs from our recent Seattle trip.  With cancer and covid ever present on our minds, a break from both of these maladies has significantly improved our mental health.

Rob, my BHE, found a rustic (it was clean and had a bathroom) cabin which was  compatible with our drive to get away from it all. Rosie, the dog, escaped with us and enjoyed the romps through the woods and the chases after the chipmunks (although none were caught).  My plan to swim was achieved without any fear of drowning although between a tippy kayak and a wiggly dog, Rob was at risk for a dunk in the water.  It was my forty-seventh swim since our plunge into advocacy work and my goal to reach the fifty mark appears to be right around the corner.

On another note, I saw my oncologist (BOE-best oncologist ever) last week after my MRI.  The news, unfortunately, wasn’t good.  Party time has continued in my liver where the lesions have increased in number and in size.  Although this felt like a gut punch, it will not stop me from advocating and swimming and living the best way I know how. Quoting from one of Mary Oliver's poems, "I don't want to end up simply having visited this world" continues to be my mantra. 

As I advocate for more research funding for stage IV to ensure my daughter and granddaughters will never face a cancer diagnosis, I continue to explain to others that a cure may not be in my future. However, I’m still rooting for the brilliant researchers to discover another miracle drug and throw current metsters like me a lifejacket of more time.

June 20th was my sixth metastatic cancerversary and I want more years to hang out with my BHE and the BFE (best family ever). Although I’m now facing tougher side effects in the next few months with more scans and an array of worries, I am confident there is a shining light of hope on the horizon but need your help.  

Please consider a donation to my More For Stage IV fund at the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

Not only will my children and grandchildren benefit but hopefully, optimistically, fingers crossed and with “a touch on wood”; a new treatment is lurking in my future to keep me around for many more years.

Thanks for reading #587 of 7777+.

Monday, April 20, 2020

7777+ Days: #586 SHAZAM! This is Life Changing

7777+ Days: #586 SHAZAM! This is Life Changing: We are masked, thanks to sister Susan. It's been a while since my last post when...  Shazam ! Just like that our world was turned...

#586 SHAZAM! This is Life Changing

We are masked, thanks to sister Susan.

It's been a while since my last post when... Shazam! Just like that our world was turned upside down and blog writing became secondary. While trying to adjust to the new norm of living with Covid19,  I realized the troubling feelings I was experiencing were similar to the ones I had already agonized over after learning of my terminal diagnosis almost six years ago.

This led me to researching the five stages of grief and how it relates to both my initial emotions with cancer and the Coronavirus that is consuming everyone's lives. One of my findings was David Kessler's words describing what we may be experiencing due to the recent events even though we may not necessarily be suffering the loss of a loved one.

"The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief ‘s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss. At times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is as unique as you are."

What makes this message so relevant to the Coronavirus and to my living with terminal cancer are the similar feelings they both have evoked.

Covid19--Maybe it isn't as bad as the news reports are stating.
My cancer--A possible misdiagnosis?  Tests can be wrong, can't they?

Covid19--I am so angry I can't see my friends and family and a return to my normal life.
My cancer--Why has this happened to me?  I want to scream and rant and rave. Life is so unfair.

Covid19--Please, higher powers, hear our prayers and requests to get rid of this menace.
My cancer--Help me, I will do anything to be able to live longer.

Covid19--Why us? I don't see any way we can recover.  It all seems hopeless for our world to survive.
My cancer--There are few treatments to keep me alive and there is no cure.  I won't see my grandchildren grow up.  I will not see ___________.  (Fill in the blank with any number of things).

Covid19--  I get it now.  Accepting a different way of living life and appreciating all I do have will make this catastrophe not feel quite so catastrophic.  Good must come from this and we will be better humans taking care of the earth and each other.
My cancer--I plan to fill my days with joy, laughter and discovery. Cancer will not define who I am.

Ruminating about these five stages is exhausting and occurs on a regular basis for me.  You see, life with a terminal disease is not always easy for others to understand...and that's okay, I get it. But perhaps those of you experiencing this coronavirus crisis and the stressful emotions involved, you may now understand what I, and many others like me, face every single day. I will keep going and so will you--one day at a time.

Thanks for reading #586 of 7777.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

7777+ Days: #585 Sunshine, Animals and Teeth.

7777+ Days: #585 Sunshine, Animals and Teeth.: Rosie the dog It's been a while (too long) since I've plopped down at the computer and composed a ditty to share.  The reas...

#585 Sunshine, Animals and Teeth.

Rosie the dog

It's been a while (too long) since I've plopped down at the computer and composed a ditty to share.  The reason for my no show these past few months?  Life with all of its ups and downs took over and writing was not at the top of my "to do" list.

Today is a new day so will attempt to write a profound blog and astound you with the knowledge bestowed upon me by this wretched disease.  Realistically, it most likely will be the usual rambling so bear with me as I blather away!

 Due to a new medication change, my body has had to adjust to the side effects which has sent it into a bit of a rebellious mode. This lovely drug has given me a new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes which entails blood pricking, diet monitoring and moving when all I want to do is stay in bed.  And to add to that debacle, the dreaded diarrhea is back and typifies the old adage--"when the shit hits the fan..."  You can only imagine.

 Cancer spares no one their dignity or their feelings as a healthy being but those of us living with it carry on.  Yeah, right.  That last statement certainly sounds like a Pollyanna quote or a picture of me belting out , "The sun will come out tomorrow..."  Cancer sucks and takes away so much of who we are---if we let it.

A month ago, I said, "Enough!  You will steal no more from me".  I am taking my joy back...and so I have.  Here's a short list of my joys--simple, silly or straightforward--in a nutshell; and no particular order.

1.  My electric toothbrush takes two minutes to clean my teeth.  For two whole minutes I think about how lucky I am to have teeth.

2.  The sun is shining--the warmth penetrates into my inner cells with their uplifting rays.  My apologies if it sounds a tad obnoxious to my friends living in a colder climate, but the 80 degree weather we experience daily certainly helps put a smile on my face.

Our little animal family
3.  My BHE being there for me...always.  Having a loving man by my side through all the scans, appointments and the outright scariness of this disease proves once again how I hit the jackpot of husbands.

4.  The beauty of nature fills me up--soaking it in every time I step outside.  I love to discover something new on my walks whether it is a tree blooming or one of the many hummingbirds flitting past my face.  I am always in awe of Mother Earth.  (On a side note, let's start taking better care of her.)

5.  The past month we've had a number of family members (including the best ever grandchildren, children and spouses and sister and hub!) visiting the desert.  Since they all arrived from cold and overcast places, the joy on their faces as they reacted to the sunshine was priceless.

6.  Good food.  There is an abundance of fresh food available to us and I am appreciative of the hard work of the farmers in the area.

7.  Music abounds from the magical human voices in the complex to the local morning doves waking me outside my window.  Surrounded by the sounds brings me joy.

8.  My two "Learning in Retirement" classes have been both stimulating and educational.  Who would have thought listening to the beauty of opera would be so moving?  Wonders never cease.  Not only have I opened my ears and mind to this splendid genre but my BHE has also embraced my new found music pleasure.

9. A major positive mood changer named Rosie came into our lives this past December. This bundle of energy is a six year old rescue mutt from the local animal shelter.  Despite a few quirks (don't we all have some?), she has brought endless joy to both of us. After being abandoned on the streets and taken to a kill shelter, we feel we saved our little dog's life; but truly she is returning the favor tenfold.  My advice--get a dog--you won't regret it. By the way, never fear the cat's safety,  Catfish continues her reign as head animal in the household and shows her dominance with one swipe to poor Rosie's nose.  No blood drawn but the territory has been established.

10.  I'll end this "joy" list with friends. Carole King's famous song, You've got a Friend" says it best.  In times of trouble or not, good friends truly have my back and have lifted me up while going through some rough spots.  My hope is to someday return their kindness.

A bit of a cheesy post but it is how I am managing through difficult times while negotiating this wild ride every single day.

Thanks for reading #585 of 7777+.