Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lessons Learned

My friend, a nonsmoker, is in a battle with lung cancer. She is in her second round of chemotherapy and radiation and has an amazing spirit. This week she wrote, "’I'm trying to soak in what this experience needs to teach me. I’m paying attention." Powerful words. She's a special lady.

I've been thinking about those words all day, today. Our family has faced one medical challenge after another. All three of my children were born prematurely, the youngest, weighing just 2.5 pounds. The last six years have brought countless medical visits for my daughter and I, several surgeries, the loss of my job due to illness, and a quest for our restored health and answers.

Jane's words prompt me to think about what I've learned from our own experiences.

1) Never wear a watch. When you are waiting, the time goes by much faster without one.

2) Live in the moment. If your daughter wants to get the Christmas tree lights out in October and turn the dining room into her favorite soup and sandwich hang-out, join her. Just don't tell your friends when it starts to snow. : )

3) Find the gifts and blessings. Today's: a rainbow, physical therapy, a feature in livelearnnow , spending time with a dear friend, listening to my daughters sing. They are all around. The kind people you meet each day. A fresh tomato from the garden. Dad's beautiful flowers. Dark organic chocolate. A smile and hug when your child runs to meet you from the bus. Family.

4) I trust my own instincts.

5) I've learned you must be an advocate for yourself in the medical field.

6) Try to stay level. As my internist keeps reminding me, "You're running a marathon." : )

7 ) Accept help. My sister with breast cancer taught me the importance of this. Likewise, help others whenever you can.

8) If asked, "How are you doing?" I now answer, "We're okay."

9) You can make the world better one smile at a time and always remember, your sense of humor is your best medicine.

I had a strange experience last spring. In going through my medical history again for the "zillionth" time, a nurse expressed surprise when she learned I had been a science teacher.

"You don't seem like the average teacher!" she said.

When I asked her what she meant, she explained, "You aren't rushed!"

Perhaps I am a different person for all of this. One of my daughter's doctor's once said, 'We would never wish any of this on a child, but kids that face adversity grow up to be pretty special adults.'

So far, his wisdom has proved to be absolutely true.

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