Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Driving Miss Norma - Book Review

Miss Norma and Ringo
Life's defining moments often come when least expected and in ways that were never anticipated.  For Miss Norma, losing her husband of 67 years the very same week she was diagnosed with advanced cancer, meant the life she had known for 90 years was gone in two heartbeats.  Driving Miss Norma is not about loss, however.  It is a moving memoir about the joyful journey that emerges as a result of life-affirming choices that become Miss Norma's defining moments.  Over the course of a year spent on the road with her son, Tim, daughter-in-law, Ramie, and poodle, Ringo, Miss Norma and her family show us what happens when you open yourself up to the very life of life.

At the beginning of this book, Norma Bauerschmidt makes two enormous decisions that drive the stories within her story.  First, when faced with months of draining medical procedures for treatment of what is expected to be terminal uterine cancer, Miss Norma chooses not to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemo.  She decides to live out her life outside the confines of a hospital.  In conjunction with that courageous decision, Bauerschmidt accepts an invitation from Tim and Ramie to take to the road with them in their RV.  It is this coming together that will completely transform all of their lives.

Though the journey begins with the hopes of checking off some of Miss Norma's "Bucket List" items, it is her reluctance to compose such a list that makes for the possibility of a more fulfilling trip.  In the course of taking it one day at a time, one delightful encounter at a time, Miss Norma and her family discover beautiful new ways of communicating and connecting.

As their experiences are shared via social media and national news outlets, Miss Norma becomes an international sensation with over half a million followers on Facebook.  Her life becomes her message, inspiring countless others to truly embrace fullness of living.  Everywhere she goes, total strangers become caught up in wanting to enrich Miss Norma's days.  The lines begin to blur in terms of who is enriching whom.  All that really matters is that Miss Norma's growing sense of wonder creates an energy and magic that draws others in.  By choosing to say yes to life, Miss Norma and family start a powerful chain reaction.

I was drawn to Miss Norma's story by my own family circumstances.  When my mother was diagnosed with multiple cancers, I had this dream of going on the road with her in my RV.  I had a deep desire to be a part of something that might be meaningful for my mom during her season of dealing with mortality and end-of-life issues.  Sadly, I never got to take that trip with my mother.  Reading this book, and vicariously embarking on Miss Norma's journey, has touched my spirit in vital ways.  It has renewed my desire to be a person who makes it possible for these kinds of life-affirming journeys to take place.

We all have the opportunity to be the driver on the journey of life.  I encourage you to read Driving Miss Norma.  It is quite likely to inspire you to hit the road.  I hope to meet up with you along the way.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

The Bright Hour
Some books are so achingly beautiful they cry out to be read.  This is one of them.  To not read The Bright Hour would be to deny yourself one breathtaking moment after another.  This is a memoir that reveals how to savor every day—even the days, especially the days, we would not typically love.


When Nina Riggs was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37, it was one small spot that seemed fixable.  “No one dies from one small spot,” she reassured herself.  Within a year, though, Riggs was dealing with a terminal diagnosis.  Lest you think the book turns grim at this point, let me assure you that this is not a dark accounting of impending death—far from it.

The question at the heart of The Bright Hour is this: What makes for a meaningful life when your time is limited?  It is an extraordinary individual who can see and illuminate for us the radiance and joy to be found in the seemingly mundane moments that fill our lives with meaning.  Nina Riggs’ poetic eye, and soul, gifts us over and over again with word pictures that not only dazzle, but that enrich our spirits.

What if, like Nina Riggs, we were to live the answer to that question every day?  Isn't that the key to loving our days and living with fullness of life?

The Bright Hour is the most important book I have read this year.  Having recently lost a good friend to cancer, I found this memoir to be a poignant way to reflect on how Susan also lived her life with great meaning and purpose.  It can be healing in many ways to read a book that celebrates a life force that is not diminished by death.  I highly recommend this book.








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost

Review This! Is Mourning the Loss Of Our Fellow Contributor, Susan Deppner. 

It's hard to get back in the groove of writing a normal review. Losing Susan has affected me deeply, even though I never got to meet her in person. I felt I knew her better than many of the people I have actually met. When you work together online for years, read each others heartfelt posts, share each other's joys and sorrows, and pray for each other, you form a deep connection. So all of us here at Review This! still have fresh grief from losing Susan last week. 

Encouragement for Those Who Mourn
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


Cancer is a Thief

Cancer has stolen many I have loved from my life. It took both my parents. Dad was gone within days of his diagnosis. Mom had more notice -- a whole eight weeks. I had the privilege of caring for Mom in those weeks with help from Hospice. Here's my story of that time with a tribute to Mom. Being with Mom when she passed into the next life was precious. I wanted to see her off and I did. 

The same kind of cancer that took Susan from us also took one of my very best friends in 2010. A year earlier, the last time I'd seen her, was the previous Christmas. She lived five hours away from us, but we were in the area to see my brother on Christmas Day. 

Sandy and Her Mother Making Mochi Together for the Last Time
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


Sandy invited us to spend the morning and early afternoon before we were due at my brother's sharing a special annual event in the life of her extended family. Sandy's family is Japanese and traditionally met on Christmas each year to make mochi -- something I'd never heard of. I happened to have my camera so I documented the activities for a Squidoo lens that still lives on HubPages: How to Make Mochi. This is not a recipe, but a look into the home of a family that has been making this traditional Japanese food every Christmas to get ready for their New Year's Celebration. It was especially meaningful for us to be included because it was the last time we saw Sandy alive. Ironically, the next year, we attended Sandy's memorial service the day after Christmas. 


Both Susan and Sandy had friends and family who loved them. Both fought hard with faith and hope in their hearts. Both wanted to see their grandchildren grow up. Neither had the opportunity. Both were examples of living out the verse shown on the mugs below.




When God Calls a Loved One Home

We are never really ready for someone we love to leave our lives here on earth. Some leave us suddenly with no warning. Some linger for years fighting an illness like cancer. Maybe we have prayed they would be healed. We wonder why God did not answer that prayer in the way we hoped. Instead we've watched someone we love suffer. Was God not listening?

Many with strong faith, like Susan and Sandy, did not win their battles with cancer. Surely they did not die because they and their praying friends did not have enough faith. Yet some try to lay blame on those very people and tell them they just didn't pray with enough faith.

Edith and Francis Schaeffer founded L'Abri Fellowship, based in Switzerland, to help young people or any others who came to stay in their community find answers to their questions about faith. They were very strong Christians who served God with all they had. Though people all over the world were praying for him, Francis died of cancer.




 During the time Francis was ill, Edith wrote a book about the reasons we have suffering and affliction in our lives as she watched her husband slowly leave her. She helps us grapple with the "Why?" of the pain in our lives. She explains why those prayers for healing may not be answered the way we like.

 I highly recommend this book to all who are trying to understand why they or their loved ones are suffering. I have owned the book for about thirty years now, and I've passed it to many friends who've had cancer and wanted answers. They fought, but they did not all win.

Knowing Why Doesn't Do Much to Make Grief Go Away

Jason's Grave: A friend made the wreath. © B. Radisavljevic
 


I've had my share of grief and bereavement. Both my children preceded me in death. I lost both parents. Our best friend took his own life when he believed cancer would steal his mind. Another very close friend died of cancer in 2013. I should have earned a doctorate in the school of hard knocks for dealing with grief by now. One can and does get through it, but it always leaves an empty place and a scar in the heart. Here's what I've learned through my grieving experiences: How to Grieve and Go on with Life.

Our country music contributor, Barbara Tremblay Cipak, shares part of her grief journey after losing her dad in The Incredible Power of Love. The video she shares there is a fitting end for this post.

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost: Encouraging words and help for working through grief
© B. Radisavljevic


Have you lost a loved one recently? What helps you deal with your grief? Feel free to comment or ask questions below. 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I Didn't Fall in Love With Your Hair - Proceeds Donated to the Canadian Cancer Society


"I Didn't Fall in Love With Your Hair, Up or Down Girl, I Really Don't Care" (Lyrics)

Standing in my kitchen last Fall with the radio blasting life's lyrics from my favorite country station, the ache in these words filled the air. After hearing them, the topic of the song was clear.

Perched along side the radio, the tears flowed.  So much circling my mind from those sixteen words ... thoughts of loved ones I personally know battling cancer, and memories of those passed on.
"Phone call came in from her doctor back home
The cancer had spread and she threw down the phone
She looked in the mirror, tears running down her cheeks
Said if it all falls out, baby what would you think?" (Lyrics)
For me, there's also a personal aspect. Going through some medical challenges, the loss of my hair was a real possibility. Although I've been blessed with my dad's very thick hair, I started to lose it by the handfuls last February.

Despite this, I was one of the lucky ones. I'm managing things much better, and my hair is as thick as it's ever been again. However, the choices I had to make and am still making will forever be a part of my life. And that's ok now, for now.

There are so many levels to medical challenges. With broad smiles, or as many as we can muster, we try not to let it be an all consuming time in our life. However, the waiting hurts .. The waiting to find out; the waiting for treatment results; the waiting for procedures to be completed, and so it goes.

Strength we thought we never had, we somehow find.

And thoughts of those we love ....

What will they do if? ... how can I tell them .... circle our mind more often than we can block them.

Then yes, the thought of our hair. I cried. It isn't shallow. It's just a part of the process.

Whether the fight is cancer or a chronic disease, we know medication plays havoc on our systems, and on our hair.

But those we love and who love us, remind us:
"The heart that's inside is why I stopped and stared
I swear I didn't fall in love with your hair" (Lyrics)
To those suffering much greater battles than mine I want to hold you so tight, and make it go away.

How can we take the pain away for you? We know we can't, but we want to.

If granted one wish, mine would be magical powers to take it all away, for everyone.

I Didn't Fall In Love With Your Hair by Canadian Country Artists, Brett Kissel  & Carolyn Dawn Johnson

A Collaboration with Philanthropist W. Brett Wilson for Cancer Awareness Month in September 2016.

Released September 9th, 2016, proceeds for the song between September 9th and October 28th 2016 were donated to the Canadian Cancer Society and matched by Brett Wilson.

You can find 'I Didn't Fall in Love With Your Hair' on Brett Kissel's sixth studio album, Pick Me Up.








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Song for People Enduring Cancer

Brett Kissel, I Didn't Fall in Love with Your Hair
and More Here
'I Didn't Fall in Love With Your Hair' by Canadian Country Music Artist Brett Kissel & Featuring Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Written by Rachel Bradshaw, Kyle Jacobs and Billy Montana, this moving song was released in September 2016 for Cancer Awareness month with proceeds donated to the cause between the dates September 9th and October 28th 2016.

Philanthropist W. Brett Wilson, also played a role by matching the amounts earned and donating those funds to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Like most songs do for the artist, it struck a personal chord for Brett Kissel; his mom has battled cancer.

Why This Song Says So Much

Battling cancer certainly goes deeper than potentially losing our hair. However, when the news hits us that we could be facing this horrendous fight, some of us think of this superficial thing...our hair.

After first hearing this song blaring from the radio in my kitchen, the lyrics stopped me in my tracks. Listening to every word, the tears flowed.

The song speaks to the love of one soul for another; it reminds us what true love means and that our body really is our temporary home. The cliche 'beautiful on the inside' has greater meaning when you process these lyrics.

Love is an unseen force, yet the most powerful in the world.

How do we know we are loved by another?

We know because we feel this invisible energy. The feeling of love resonates in this gorgeous song. 'He didn't fall in love with her hair' - he fell in love with her soul, her being - This untouchable force survives all things tangible.

We are reminded that our love for each other cannot be measured by something physical, like our hair or our body shape. Love is a connection that survives the seen. This intangible force captures our spirit, and in doing so, gives us the secret to life.

We are all here perfecting that secret. 

Love is where we find the light and it's the only road that takes us home. Get out the tissues as you listen to this song.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Book Review

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Book Review
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. A story of a woman whose cells lived on long after she passed away.

As the cover says, "Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out. Their lives would never be the same."

The same could be said about us. Our lives will never be the same because EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US has benefited from Henrietta Lacks' cells.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a science book and one that I almost did not read because of that fact. However, I am glad that I did.

It is a science book but it is also a book with a fascinating story to tell. Part science, history book and biography. An easy read. It is a book that you will not be able to put down though to be honest I did find the ending a bit slow.

You will learn a lot about science, about cells and about Henrietta Lacks.

Author Rebecca Skloot sums up the book best in this short video:



WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK?

Yes, I would. It is an easy read and the subject matter is fascinating. However, don't take my word for it. Consider the fact that it was named one of the best books of 2010 by Entertainment Weekly, Booklist, The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, O Oprah Magazine, USA Today and many more institutions.

Do you read science books? Are you interested in learning more about Henrietta Lacks' life story? You can learn more on Amazon by clicking right here.

Happy Reading!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy your copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks from Amazon.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:


The Review This Contributors

Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasBev OwensBev OwensWednesday ElfWednesday ElfBarbRadBarbRadOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010Renaissance
Woman2010
Lou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelBuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecorating
forEvents
Heather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G

 

Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner