Tag Archives: dealing with cancer

This May in the Shenandoah Valley


The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April (May) day.
~Robert Frost

(Image from a past spring of my Abraham Darby rose, and below of my Bathsheba climbing rose taken last spring. Both are from David Austin)

May is a  balmy, blissful, sometimes treacherous month.  This May has been stressful on various fronts. I sometimes feel as if I’m clinging to a wind-tossed bough. Why the heck did they rock that poor baby in the tree tops, anyway? Crazy nursery rhyme.

Cold winds blasted my darling buds and frost struck not once but three times, after early spring warmth had lured everything out. My roses suffered. I even had iris buds freeze for the first time and the peonies were knocked back or out. Asiatic lilies froze beneath their covers… Weather can be sinister, and yes, I take it personally.


Despite a perilous spring, abundant beauty cloaks our green valley and my beloved garden is rebounding–including the roses. I’ve mulched them with rich wormy compost, added organic rose fertilizer, and I’m using Garden Sentinel, a new biofungicide/bacteriacide spray from Gardens Alive, an organic company. Its based on a naturally occurring bacteria and is fighting the black spot that struck after frost damaged their leaves. I also use liquid kelp to give them a boost. If the Japanese beetles arrive again in a plague of Biblical proportions, there are organic products for that too. Mostly I do hand-to-hand combat.

On the family front, May hit hard when our oldest daughter Alison, in her late 30’s, was stricken with a blockage in her colon and underwent emergency surgery. She went from not feeling well to being in severe pain in a matter hours. Thank God she had a highly skilled surgeon who got her through the surgery and successfully removed the mass. However, pathology reports said the tumor was cancerous and it had spread to one of the several dozen lymph nodes the doctor also removed, so she will have to undergo chemotherapy this summer. He assures us that chemo has come a long way in recent years and he’s confident she will make a full recovery. We pray so with all our hearts. If you have an encouraging cancer survivor story to share please do. We’ve lost too many dear friends and family to this monster.

Of course, we’ve still got Covid to hide from. Virginia is among the worst states for it, but we have a new C-word to worry us. I’m thankful for modern medicine. This is scary.

I’m also open to good rose growing suggestions.

And God bless us everyone.

 

Value Yourself, Ladies


My dear sister, Catherine, a breast cancer survivor, shared this on Facebook, I’m so impressed by her wise words that I’m sharing them with you.

Catherine and LizzyCatherine: When I was tagged in a photo to take my picture without makeup, I had to think how this would raise awareness for breast cancer… something I’ve dealt with. My great-grandmother had breast cancer and died of old age. My mother is a “breast cancer survivor.” And, I guess, so am I. Although, I prefer to think of myself as someone who went through cancer and chooses not to allow it to define me. I don’t want my beautiful daughters to ever have to deal with it. I wish all forms of cancer were eradicated. So, how can my picture without makeup help to bring that about? It can’t, unless I can touch just one person and help them to care enough about themselves to take care of themselves. 

Catherine and BethNo makeup? Sure, we are, at our core, imperfect. But, there’s beauty in that imperfection. And, others see us as far more beautiful, even without makeup, than we often see ourselves. Where we stop and see the puffy face, the skin spots that show our age, the little wrinkles around our eyes, we should stop and see the life we have been given, another day, another opportunity, another chance to demonstrate love and to witness that amazing beauty, that incredible gift to all those around us… and to value each and every person just as they are! So, value yourselves.

Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon.When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, I was told that I was EXTREMELY fortunate. Because I had gotten a mammogram, and because I hadn’t settled for the answer to go home and keep an eye out for a lump (I asked for more info and an answer), I am here to celebrate life. The kind of cancer I had was aggressive, but was caught early. I was told that if I’d waited to feel for a lump, it would have been too late to save me. With my dr’s guidance, I chose to have a double mastectomy, a choice I don’t regret. So, my advice to all of you beautiful women out there… do regular self exams, get your mammogram, go to the Dr regularly for checkups, cultivate friendships, laugh often, know that there is someone out there who cares about you. So, puffy face, wrinkles, pimples and all…. VALUE yourself.

*Images of Catherine and her oldest daughter, Lizzy. And Catherine with me taken over the holidays