The Blessings of Cancer

by Debbie Twomey on May 22, 2017

My last few blogs seemed a bit discouraging so it probably seems hypocritical to say there have been many blessings with this cancer diagnosis, but that is the Catch-22 of this awful disease.

I am not trying to garner pity but put a very realistic face to a disease that we had hoped would have decreased by a huge margin by now. But that is not what I have discovered. Or maybe, I just did not pay enough attention to the statistics till they hit me personally. I thought I was informed; I made it my mission to make breast cancer my number one charity and would read what I could about the treatment and cure rates. But that is just a fraction of what I could have done.

Still, in the face of chemotherapy and feeling pretty punk there have been many little blessings that make this journey a bit easier to navigate. Since my diagnosis I have received many emails and messages on Facebook (and yes I will always feel FB has more positive attributes than negative). So many of them offer kind well wishes and often some very sensible advice.

An acquaintance from high school sent a very practical list of what you would need after a mastectomy. I will include Judy Watter’s list in a future blog but I so appreciated her input. She has also written several times since and shared her experience and more than that—her love and support.

Kathy Kouwe, a part of my Young Living family sent me many oils in a travel bag and her support. That was so thoughtful and unexpected.

Other dear friends have sent kind thoughts that help lift my spirits on days when I feel lower than expected. A few have sent cards with simple words like Paula Gridley, which express a concern I had not expected. My friend Mimi Brooks actually sent me a Mass card for healing cancers. How special is that? I accept any and all prayers right now because I know God listens and I need Him to hear us.

My little granddaughter’s Kindergarten teacher just went through this same cancer and Jennifer Fournier has amazingly shared what she went through She and her teaching assistant brought a wonderful gift bag for chemotherapy days as well as many helpful hints. Ms. Brockway gave me 2 beautiful scarves which I need to learn to tie on my head soon. And Jen had the best items in my bag: a warm blanket and socks, books and a journal, mint candies for dry mouth and lotion. She also took my Mouse for a day to give me a break and McKenna a wonderful day of fun.

 My dear neighbor Rebekah Jones takes her precious time (she has 3 little ones at home that she home schools) to research what Young Living oils will help support care of my breast cancer as well as the neuropathy in my feet. She is now investigating a new mixture for my head which will be bald very soon and is actually hurting me more than I expected. Her family keeps me in their daily prayers as well.

My mentor and priceless friend Mary Starr Carter often sends me gifts that are practical and blessings. An Amazon Kindle card is perfect for me since I love to read. The cancer recipe book has already given me a few good eating ideas and Mike the Miracle Welch wrote a great book where he shares his protocol for fighting and beating cancer. Mary also sent me a Koala Bear that her hubby Jay got in Australia last week. K-Bear will join the monkey Miss Mouse got me to keep me company on chemo days. The handmade notes from her little 4 year old Sarah Grace are precious to me.                                                                        

The other day I posted on Facebook how much I wanted to smell fresh lilacs. I love these flowers for their aroma and for the memories they instill. Every Mother’s Day I would get 2 large bunches and bring them to my Mom and a dear friend Katherine Pastor (my “adopted” mom Kash) who have both passed away. When I opened my front door there were two bouquets; one from Roxanne Seeber and the other from Amy Dorgan. My house still smells of the lilacs and I have such a sense of peace and calming from them.

Seeing my best friend Lorraine Copes on my birthday, right here in my home was the best. I am thankful to see her whenever I can and to go to lunch was even better. I must admit I am liking keeping in touch more. There used to be a time, before kids and grandkids, when we talked on the phone several times a day. I missed those times.

My sisters Terri and Karen have made themselves available and try to come more often to what they refer to as “this godforsaken country town” I live in but for now it is where I need to be. I have to say not being the one that always makes that hour drive to visit has been great. But what I appreciate most (even more than the gifts they know I love) is the company.

I am grateful for my daughter Jordan’s road to recovery from drug addiction. She is working very hard to get her life in order and move forward as a mom and a reliable employee who can support her little Leah. The lack of drama and crisis has been a godsend and I pray for her continued recovery every single day.

There have been so many others like Christine David, Kip Holloway, Mary Currier, Sue Ruskino, Sandee Simmons, Chris Hopko, Donna DiBianco, and Billie Ann Fronzcek. Patricia O’Connell, Teri Dee, The Neuman girls, Holly Homeslice, and countless others who offered help or a kind word. If I have forgotten your name in this list trust me it is not forgotten in my heart.

There are two last people who have been blessings that are immeasurable during this difficult time. First is my good and generous friend Ellen Barbagallo.  My God I cannot even begin to express what depending on her has meant to me. When I was in the hospital last year she spent 10 days with my 4 year old granddaughter McKenna. I know the sacrifice; even if she loves McK with all her heart, it is still a lot of work. She has come with me for every stinking procedure in the last 5 months and stayed with McK again when I had MRSA as well as the lumpectomy. She never says no. And let me tell you this, she is 10 years older than me and never ever acts as though I am an imposition even though I know I am. There is no price tag for this friendship and all she has done for me. I am so fortunate to have made friends with her 10 years ago.

And finally, there is the Mouse. Anyone who knows me knows what that little precious angel means to me. Yes, there are several times when she wears the hell out of me or tries my patience but compared to the love and hugs and kisses and loving memories it’s a small price to be paid.

McKenna Elise Rose is the smile I misplace when I feel crummy. She lights up my day when pain darkens my day. Her laugh can bring me up when I feel like I have been down too long and her hugs give me strength to face even the most difficult of times. She dances for me, she tells me jokes, she makes me cards and sings her songs to make me laugh and she always wants my love and kisses. Cancer may be what I am dealing with but this beautiful little girl is the strongest weapon I have in my personal arsenal to not only fight but win this battle. I am truly blessed even in this predicament.


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