when you’d really rather not be making something for someone

Today I’m sending a parcel to someone in Limpopo, the northernmost province in South Africa.  The parcel consists of a BonBon in cranberry, a newsboy (cranberry and black), and a pair of house slippers (not cranberry!)

limpopo

They’re going to someone I know, whose wedding Rob and I attended three years ago, who has two beautiful daughters, two stepchildren, a wonderful husband, a loving extended family, a talent for painting like she’s been trained in fine arts (which she hasn’t), and a good career, at which she works very hard.

Two weeks ago she went to the GP for a check-up, because her right hip felt mildly painful.   Turns out to have been secondary bone cancer (hip, ribs and skull), the primary being breast cancer.  Stage Four.  She’s 43. Today she starts an aggressive course of radiation therapy.  (Interestingly, she has a mammogram every year, the last one in December 2013, eight weeks ago. Nothing was picked up.)

Last night I was reading Deepak Chopra’s book Ageless Body Timeless Mind (1993).  This stayed with me: “Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now, look for the fullness in every moment. Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go….Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.”

I cannot know how my friend would interpret this right now, or her husband and children and mom but, if I was a prayerful person, I would pray that it is with hope for a cure and a longer, even more beautiful life.

Back soon x

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32 thoughts on “when you’d really rather not be making something for someone

    1. Nice piece of work Post author

      I know, it’s hard to know what to say. I don’t know what to say, either. Illness is part of life, but it’s so very harsh sometimes. I guess all we can do is send positive thoughts.

      Reply
  1. Jane

    Just awful. And scary, since she had had the mammogram. How does that happen? Hope the radiation works. x

    Reply
    1. Nice piece of work Post author

      Jane, I don’t know how that happens, maybe it depends on what/where your cancer starts, or the kind of xray that’s being used. Your brother would know more, and I’m sure Mary also would. Either way, I’m no longer convinced that a mammogram has much value – if it shows up clear, how long does “clear” last? In R______’s case, obviously not very long.

      Reply
  2. katechiconi

    The mammogram only helps find some of them. It didn’t show mine. Your friend will need lots of love and support and someone to talk to who doesn’t require her to feel OK all the time, because she will feel like crap a lot of the time. She needs to be allowed to say she’s frightened and feels like hell, rather than pretending she’s sailing through the process without a care in the world just to make other people feel better. And I think your lovely hats will help to cheer her up, so already you’re doing her some good!

    Reply
    1. Nice piece of work Post author

      Thank you for commenting, Kate. I’m pretty sure she will be able to be honest about what she experiences along the way with her husband and children, I think they have that kind of openness. One of the worst things to have to do is try to summon enough energy to pretend that you’re “doing fine”, (I know this from something else, not from cancer), and I would guess from what you say that you know all about this first-hand. xx
      PS. how’s that quilt back coming along?

      Reply
  3. tgonzales

    Oh Jill I am so sorry to hear about your friend and I know when she wears the hats and slippers they will feel like a warm hug. Love and Hugs, Tamara

    Reply
  4. gentlestitches

    so unfair and such a shock in such a young woman. She is lucky to have you as her friend and I enjoyed the reading about “this moment” It makes me think how very silly are the things I worry about sometimes and resolve to be grateful for what I have right now. Including an angel key ring from YOU! :-)

    Reply
    1. Nice piece of work Post author

      You are so right. Last night I lay in bed fuming about what I perceived as a slight to me in my capacity as chair of our trustees committee, from two other trustees. Fuming, I tell you! Then it slowly dawned on me that the only person getting in a state about it was me, and that my silly ego was feeling bruised, like a 4-yr old! Perspective alert!

      Reply
  5. daniellajoe

    prayers going her way, It is a long road ahead but who knows what tomorrow may bring? makes me think that mammograms are overrated, how could it miss it for sooo long??

    Reply
    1. Nice piece of work Post author

      I’m learning that mammograms are not 100% reliable. See Trish’s comment below (from “Patch”). Chopra has a whole chapter on how we need to get in touch with our body and really pay attention to what it tells us. But that isn’t automatic or even easy for many of us, it takes practice and meditation. I don’t think I’ll ever get to that stage, but I’m definitely going to try. For example, last night my body told me it needed chocolate, so I listened. This morning it’s telling me to go for a walk round the Common, and guess what – I’m about to put my trainers on and do just that!

      Reply
  6. onoodlesstitchcraft

    I have just been having a chat with a dear friend of mine who lost last summer to a stay in hospital due to a severe episode of psychosis which she has had to manage for over 23 years. Still going through healing from this latest episode and each day means she regains a former memory or skill. It has been wonderful to see her slowing returning to be the person we all know and love. We were being very philosophical about the bad fortune that seems to befall us when we are least expecting it and concluded as we have done on so many occasions before that the only way to live is in the moment and to do and be the best we can for we can never predict what the future may hold (ref. the Deepak Chopra quote). These times will try us and cannot be avoided but experienced and whatever the journey and outcome are made more bearable by the support of our dearest friends and family. It seems to me that you are doing exactly what you can to show you love and care in a way only you can. The hats and slippers will remind your friend that she is loved and cherished by a warm and loving person.

    Reply
  7. Patch

    Mmmmm, sadly mammograms, like any other screening, are not 100% reliable. Also there is still very little known about some forms of cancer and they can be quite aggressive and hard to spot and diagnose (I learned a lot from my scare the other year). It sounds like your friend was keeping a close eye on things but it’s a good reminder to the rest of us that it’s really, really important for us all to keep a sharp eye out for any changes and anything unusual and get it looked at quickly, even if we think it’s probably nothing.
    I’m not religious but I will thinking of your friend and her family and sending positive thoughts their way. Deepak Chopra has a very good point there.

    Reply
    1. Nice piece of work Post author

      Yes, it’s a good lesson, isn’t it. Although I feel almost guilty thinking about it that way, as if I can learn from her rotten luck. She has lots of positive thoughts going her way right now, they can’t hurt! :-)

      Reply
  8. kathrynrubidoux

    I’m sorry your friend has to go through this. It will be hard on everyone. I pray her cancer will go into remission and she keeps her strength.

    Reply
  9. P.E.A.C.E.

    How sad for your lovely friend, but may technology and hope help bring her many more years of her incredible life. Your excerpt from that book (a fave of mine) is quite perfect to choose. Thank you, and heartfelt wishes. Gina

    Reply

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