Category Archives: Gratitude

Remission 12th anniversary

Photography by Miriam Hurdle

I was diagnosed with a rare melanoma cancer in July 2008. None of the doctors who treated me had seen it. It started with stage I or II but turned into stage IV within a few months. I completed the year-long bio-chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation on August 1, 2009. Today marks the 12th anniversary of remission. I’m thankful to be alive, enjoy my family and have the joy to watch the grandchildren grow. I have been writing about my cancer journey since 2016. The distance from the event allows me to have reflection and a proper perspective. It will be a part of my legacy to pass on to the generations to come. This was a one-day-at-a-time journey of faith, hope, and strength. It was a journey cheered and supported by family and friends.

To celebrate the 12th anniversary of my remission, I wanted to share an excerpt with you. The working title of my legacy is The Winding Road, and I’m working on the tagline.

Chapter 2

The hysterectomy surgery was on July 31st, 2008. I wanted to rest for two or three weeks after the surgery before returning to work when the new school year began. 

My husband, Lynton, drove me to St. Jude Medical Center which was 3 miles from home. He stayed with me until the hospital attendant transported me to the surgery room. After the attendant and nurses lifted me onto the surgical table, the anesthesiologist called my name and introduced himself to me and said Dr. Gray was on the way. Before I smiled at him, the blackness came upon me. 

I woke up in the hospital room in the afternoon. There was no pain in the abdomen. Perhaps the anesthesia was not worn off yet. Lynton came with a bouquet almost the same time I woke up. He stayed with me until dinner time and said he would call me early in the morning. It was a relief that the fibroids I had for years were out for good.

At 10:00 p.m., Dr. Gray came to the room and greeted me with a smile. I returned a grin with apprehension because no doctors would visit patients late at night unless there was an emergency. He sat down by the bed. “The surgery went well,” he said, “and I wanted to share the pathology result with you.”

My puzzling grew but nodded and kept smiling.

“The pathology result shows that the vaginal mass was melanoma. I’ve never seen it before, not in vagina, so I did some research. The research shows that melanoma is the most aggressive, invasive and dangerous cancer.”

He detected the perplex on my face, and said, “It looks like it’s in stage I or II, the beginning stage and the cancer has not spread into other parts of the body yet.”

I wanted to ask questions, but my mind went blank. What questions could I ask? The moisture saturated my eyes.

“I have lined up the referrals for you to see the specialists for treatments. Call my cell phone if you have questions. I’ll start my vacation tomorrow.” He handed me a note with his phone number. It seemed like he did a lot of homework that afternoon.

“But you’ll be on vacation,” I said, still tried to find words.

“That’s what a cell phone is for.” he smiled. “I’m glad God put you in my care.”

His visit transported me to the thickest fog in the dark.

~ ~ ~

The next day, I still had no pain after the anesthesia was worn off.

Lynton called me around 9:00 a.m. to let me know he was coming to see me later that day. He told me his dad passed away, and he was on the phone with his siblings. His dad had been in Loma Linda ICU since last Wednesday with a heart-attack and a kidney infection. The infection went into the blood and his condition went downhill. After the infection was gone, he was on dialysis to give the kidney a break to see if it could be reversed. Lynton and I went to see him last Wednesday. He was unconscious when we got there. The entire family of twelve people were there talking to each other about the latest progress. Lynton’s dad heard our voices and opened his eyes. We went close to his bedside to hold his hands and spoke to him. His eyes sparked a little and then went back to unconsciousness. That was the last time I saw his dad.

“Would you ask your family to schedule the funeral service after I get home from the hospital? I want to be there.”

“Don’t worry. My family will consider that when they plan for the funeral service. I’m on my way to the hospital to see you.”

When he arrived, I gave him the news. He faced me with the brooding look and said he would research on melanoma as soon as he got home.

“How are you feeling?” the nurse came in to check on me.

“I’m feeling very well with no pain. Can I go home today?”

“The attending doctor is not here yet. Let me check your incision and change the dressing. I’ll let the doctor know of your condition. He has to authorize the discharge.”

The doctor came in an hour later. After checking my progress, he authorized the discharge.

“Thank you, doctor,” I said to him while my mind spun at a record speed, miles into the search engine, chasing the meaning of melanoma.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #94: At Home

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Amy said, “Due to the lock down, we are spending more time at home. But, hopefully this isn’t limiting our interest in photographing. This week, we invite you to share photos taken at home.”

“When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure, you wish you were safe at home.” – Thorton Wilder

This is the seventh week staying home for me. Like most of the people, I go out only when it is absolutely necessary. I face each day with the hope to stay healthy to enjoy my grandchildren when the pandemic is over. There are enough things at home to keep my life interesting such as gardening, checking my daughter’s Tinybeans account where she posts the photos of my grandchildren, reading or re-reading paperback books, exercising, and even cooking a couple times a week (my hubby took over the full time cooking when he was retired in 2016. Lucky me!).

Spring is in the air. The buds are all over my 30 rose bushes. I started with 12 pink rose bushes. Eventually I added 10 white iceberg rose bushes, and some orange and yellow roses. Now it’s not so boring looking at the roses.

Most of the plants in my garden are low maintenance. I do have several patches  for annual flowers and this is the time to plant new flowers.

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Nothing gives me greater joy to see the photos of my granddaughters every day.

When weather permits, I go on a walk in the neighborhood. On some other days, I can do yoga at home.

Piles of book for reading and re-reading.

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My new cooking is this Sausage and Vegetable Casserole. One 9″ x 13″ dish last for three alternate days for lunch. On the other four days, hubby cooks his regular lunch.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #94: At Home

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #90 – Distance

Tina looked at the “Social Distancing” and invited us to focus on DISTANCE this week as a challenge to serve as a reminder of its importance.

I grew up in a big city and now live in one. When we traveled, it amazed me to realize some people live in a great distance from each other. It made me think that these people do not have the convenience to access many things, things at our fingertips we take for granted. These people also don’t have the luxury or technology city people have. I asked myself why people choose to live in these locations and live in this lifestyle. “Are they happy?” Then the next question is, “What makes people happy?” I think people either have no choice or choose to be content wherever they are and however they live.

 

The first set of photos is the distance in the land.

“Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.”Robert Morgan

c21 Longleat 3

Longleat in Somerset, UK, is an English Stately home. The house is set in 1,000 acres of parkland with 4,000 acres of let farmland and 4,000 acres of woodland.

 “Ocean separates lands, not souls.” – Munia Khan

Four Miles Beach Port Douglas, AU

Four Mile Beach is considered the premier beach of Port Douglas, Australia, beginning at the northern rocky headland and continuing for four more miles without any buildings or construction interrupting the pristine views.

 “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

Denali National Park, AL

Denali in Alaska is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m) above sea level. With a topographic prominence (measures the height of a mountain or hill’s summit relative to the lowest contour line) of 20,156 feet (6,144 m) and topographic isolation ( the minimum great-circle distance to a point of equal elevation) of 4,629 miles (7,450 km).

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The next set of photos is our family practice of social distancing.

Because of the Covid-19, I canceled my flight to be with my daughter, Mercy, for the birth of her second daughter. I planned to be there to watch Autumn while she was in the hospital. They live close to Washington sate which is on the top three states with most Coronavirus cases and death. I live in California which is one of the three states among the top three. It was for the safety that I canceled the flight. If it were not for a dangerous situation, they could have friends volunteer to watch Autumn. Under these circumstances, on Sunday, March 22, my son-in-law was able to take my daughter to the hospital but not staying with her during her labor. They did video chats during her labor. After baby Nora was born, their friends watched Autumn in the afternoon so Will went to the hospital and held Nora in his arms. They continued to do video chats in the next two days. The hospital discharged my daughter on Tuesday. Baby Nora had the first check-up appointment on Thursday.

Mercy and I did video chats and sent video messages to each other. She set up a Tinybeans.com account for her older daughter Autumn. She also posted many photos of the family and Nora on that account. That is the account I don’t miss checking every day. I can’t get enough to look at the photos and videos again and again.

“Distance means so little when someone means so much.” – Tom McNeal

1. Mercy & daughters 3

Happy mother and daughters. I think Autumn read to Nora!!

“I exist in two places, here and where you are.” – Margaret Atwood

2. Autumn practices

Autumn practiced care for the baby in the car seat.

“Love knows not distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars.” – Gilbert Parker

4. Autumn & Nora

Autumn had Nora on her laps. She was very gentle with Nora.

Let’s do our part and keep social distancing. Stay safe!

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #90 – Distance

 

 

 

New Granddaughter

Yay! I’m a grandma of two granddaughters now!

 

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I visited my daughter Mercy at the end of February. Her friend planned a baby shower on Saturday for her second baby. I arrived on Thursday. Her friend called on Friday to cancel the shower because she was exposed to someone who might have exposed to the Coronavirus. She didn’t want to take the risk to cause any harm to my daughter’s pregnancy.

Mercy has a headache and runny nose. She worried that she might have the virus. Nobody knew exactly the symptoms of the new disease. I didn’t want her to add any worry to her pregnancy. I told her that the Coronavirus may have flu-like symptoms, but not all the flu-like symptoms lead to the new disease.

My son-in-law Will took Autumn out for a bike riding. Mercy and I spent time talking about various things while I gave her a head and shoulder massage. She had a good night sleep and felt better the next morning. She was released that it wasn’t a Coronavirus.
After I came home to southern California, I booked the tickets to fly back on March 24, four days before Mercy’s due day. They needed someone to watch my two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Autumn.

On Thursday, March 11, The California Governor announced the social distancing policy that the gatherings should not be over 200 people. By Friday, March 12, the school districts announced closing of the classes. Our church announced cancelling all the meetings, including small group meetings. The world was crumbling down like an avalanche.

On Tuesday, March 17, Mercy and I had a video chat. She said she worried about my health and didn’t want me to get sick from the pandemic. I tried to ease her worry for me and still wanted to go. After talking for a few minutes, I sensed that she also worried that if I got sick, it would affect the babies. I then canceled my trip.

On Sunday, March 22, Mercy went to the hospital at 5:00 a.m. with 7cm dilation. She video called me at 9:00 a.m. before taking a nap. Baby Nora was born at 12:30 p.m. weighted 6 pounds and 7 ounces. Will sent me a couple photos of baby Nora. Mercy video called me again around 1:00 p.m. and chatted.

The doctor discharged her on Tuesday afternoon, even though the baby didn’t eat too much and didn’t have too many pees and poos yet. Because of the Coronavirus, the doctor sent her home with distant support. She called me again on Wednesday when she was feeding the baby. They were thrilled to have Nora.

I later found out that on March 22, they left Autumn at home while she was sleeping. Will dropped off Mercy at the hospital and rushed back home. Will was not with Mercy when baby Nora was born. In the afternoon, their friends watched Autumn for a couple hours so that Will could go see Mercy and the new baby. How I wish to have been there!

Will started taking paternity leaves. When he resumes working, he still works at home because of the Coronavirus. It’s so good to have him working at home in times like these.

 

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Merry Christmas

It has been a challenging time for me since the beginning of November. I have an allergic reaction toward something, possibly medications. After having gone to the Urgent Care twice, Emergency Room twice, hospitalized for five days and seeing eight doctors, no doctor could pinpoint what happened to the constant inflammation of my skin. All they could say was to ask me to discontinue this and that medication. I will discontinue ALL my medications in less than a month. What a motivation for me to get rid of all the medications I have been taking. They gave me some treatments such steroids and antibiotics. I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital and was hoping not to miss all the celebrations in Christmas.

 

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Messiah Performance

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Messiah Performance

With great effort and determination, I gathered my energy and ensured a pleasant appearance; I managed to sing in one of the two performances of Messiah. I couldn’t sing in the first one because I was still miserable. Laying in my bed, I could hear the choir singing. My disappointment was no greater than my motivation. I quietly plead for good health the next day so that I could sing. Oh, what a miracle! I woke up feeling the coolness of my body. It was a great joy for me to spend hours to prepare myself. The photos showed my red face (with no make-up) from the inflammation. My friends in the audience were happy to see me.

 

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Retirees singing to the retirees

I also got to sing in one of the two chorale concerts. I missed the first one when the group sang in a retirement home. The second one was as fun when we sang to the fellow retirees.

 

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Precious group of ladies at the Christmas dinner

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Joy to the World celebration

There were two Christmas parties I was delighted to go and had fun seeing my friends of thirty years. One was the ladies Christmas dinner, and the other was the adult fellowship Christmas party.

I haven’t seen the end of the tunnel yet. I’ll still must take a blogging break until my health is fully recovered. Until then, I wish you all

A Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Challenge, 2019.09.12 – The Greatest Gift

September 12, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!

 

 

Gifts come in all sizes and forms. Some are tangible, others are elusive.

My baby daughter is a miraculous gift. She was tiny, weighed one pound thirteen ounces. The nurse wrapped her in layers of blankets to put her in my arms, and placed a heating lamp over us to keep her warm. My daughter is now a mother of a heavenly gift, a healthy and intelligent two-year-old daughter.

Mothers may resonate with the selfless love we have for our children. We wish to take the place of their illnesses and pain. Love is a great gift we received as children and pass on to our children.

My husband told me when he woke up at night, he inched over and put his ear closed to my nose to make sure I was breathing. I survived from stage IV melanoma cancer. The life I have is a gift of a second chance of life.

I could think of many tangible gifts received, but they come and go. As to the indescribable gifts, it is the sum of great gifts come along my way that mold my present being.

 

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The Greatest Gift

 

“It’s easier for me to give than to receive.”

“I know, Martha. When you receive, you feel weak.”

“You’re right, I feel helpless and vulnerable and admit other people are stronger.”

“Being able to receive gifts is a gift. When we receive gifts from others, we give them a gift of giving.”

“I never thought of it. When I receive a gift, I feel obligated to precipitate and feel guilty when the chances to return the favors become impossible.”

“The movie Pay It Forward comforts me and changed my understanding of giving.”

“I can tell it’s a great concept.”

~

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction, 2019.09.12 – The Greatest Gift

 

 

 

 

 

Share Your World – April 2, 2018

Cee’s Share Your World posts these questions for this week and here come my responses:

1. What was or is your favorite cartoon?

My favorite cartoon is Peanuts. I like that because many of the comic strips have thought-provoking quotes rather than funny ones.

Peanuts is written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz (November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000) which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward. The comic strip is the most popular and influential in the history of comic strips, with 17,897 strips published in all, making it “arguably the longest story ever told by one human being.”. At its peak in the mid to late 1960s, Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of around 355 million in 75 countries and was translated into 21 languages. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peanuts

 

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Peanuts 3        Charlie Brown Quotes About Life Charlie Brown Quotes On Life Peanuts Quotes About HappinessPeanuts 2        5d598d1b18d013f8ea8c12016272a4db

2. Which cooking utensil (other than the usual pots and pans etc.) would you miss the most?

All my life until the time I was retired, I worked long hours. For many years I worked full time and went to school full time (It seemed like I was going to school all my life). Cooking has never been my favorite thing to do. When I do cook, I made due of whatever is at hand.

 

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3. Would you dare to sleep in a haunted house overnight?

I’m not an adventuresome person. If there were ghosts, I don’t think they would harm me. But if I saw one, I would be scared.

I have a friend who is a real estate agent. After her mom passed away, she was selling her mom’s house. she showed it to a buyer one day. While talking, that buyer said, “Is there anyone living in this house?”

“No.” My friend said.

“There is a person standing behind you.” The buyer whispered.

“Described that person to me.” My friend said without turning to look.

The buyer described to my friend of whom she saw. My friend said, “That’s my mom.”

 

4. What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

I’m thankful to be well again. During my hospital stay last weekend, after many testing to rule out the virus and disease, the doctors concluded that I had an allergic reaction to some chemicals in my high blood pressure medication. Whatever chemicals that didn’t agree with my baby, I had taken it for nine months. Then my baby didn’t like it anymore and reacted to it violently and cause 103.8 fever and rash all over my body. The medication was replaced by new one, and I’m doing well.

My granddaughter turned 6-month-old on March 28. I’m going to see her tomorrow, Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

 

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Cee’s Share Your World – April 2, 2018

Weekly Photo Challenge – Family Story

Our granddaughter Autumn is five and a half months old already. Even though we are 1,000 miles apart, we try to make frequent visits to watch her growth. Mercy and Will are grateful that they have a healthy and happy baby. It puts a big smile on my face every time I look at her smiling face. I’ll see her next Friday. I can hardly wait!

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Autumn.5 months

Weekly Photo Challenge – Story

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