Strawberries recently became #1 on the Dirty Dozen list. The Environmental Working Group puts out a list annually of the top fruits and vegetables contaminated with pesticides. For the third year in a row, strawberries topped the list. In fact, 1/3 of all strawberries (non-organic) tested positive for TEN or more pesticides! One sample had 22 pesticides.
I know organic foods are more expensive. Although I care very much about what I feed my family (especially as a breast cancer survivor), I can’t afford – nor do I want – to purchase all of my food organic. However, something like berries, with all the pits and divots, contains too much pesticide for my comfort.
If you’re wondering about #2, it’s spinach. It is advised that if you purchase non-organic spinach, you should soak it in water and baking soda for 15 minutes. Then you’re good to go!
My daughters are participating in a summer violin camp for 9 days. It’s a 30 minute drive on the 202 West to the 101 South. I’m always on the 202, but haven’t had to drive the 101 South much. I don’t like it. Drivers speed and change lanes quickly. They all know where they’re going and they’ll ride up on you if you hesitate for even a second.
I woke up in the middle of the night last night and couldn’t sleep for over an hour. I was thinking of the 101. But this time, I remembered something.
Seven years ago, I had to take the 101 South to a high school twice a week, after work. I was completing my M.A, in Educational Leadership and I was in a night class. I had just been diagnosed with early stage I breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy. I was determined to finish the degree. So I drove to my class with tubes coming out of my chest. The tubes drained excess fluids where the tumors used to be. My chest was tightly bandaged and no one in my class knew what was underneath my shirt.
So my fear of this route was not so much the traffic, but old memories. The fear of infection, disfigurement, recurrent cancer… I had those thoughts during my drive. I mourned my life pre-cancer. Here is a post from that time.
My insomnia occurred on the seventh anniversary of my radical mastectomy.
Driving today, I felt much better. The apprehension was gone. Sometimes, just identifying the cause of one’s jitters and meeting it with compassion (not over-analysis or sentiment) can be enough to overcome it.
In three months, my husband and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. We dated for 2 1/2 years before we tied the knot and I believe that is a factor for success: Don’t jump into a lifelong commitment!
But another key to making it work is translating what your spouse says. You see, we don’t always say what we actually mean. There are more positive underlying meanings that we’re missing out on! I’ll give you an example:
My husband does not like going to the doctor. He does not get checkups, despite the fact that I – his wife – am a cancer survivor and that he has some serious cancer issues on his side of the family. Naturally, I look out for him.
Me: Honey, would you mind if I make a colonoscopy appointment for you, now that you’re 50? (Translation: I care about you and want you to be around for awhile).
Him: I guess there’s no stopping you. (Translation: Oh thank you so much! I really appreciate that you love me so much to do that).
For something that affects each of us without fail, the subject of death remains taboo in our culture. Why?
2016 was rife with “surprise” celebrity deaths: Rickman, Bowie, Prince, Fisher and so many more. It’s sad to lose people we admire and love.
Yet, death can be the best teacher. It reminds us that life is, in the end, pretty short. It can clarify values pretty quickly. Six and half years ago, I was told by my doctor that I had cancer. I was fortunate – it was early stage I breast cancer – and my prognosis was very good. But I was 41 and not expecting that diagnosis at all. My life got crystal clear: Family and friends were priority. I realized that my job – teaching – was something I truly valued and I was grateful for it.
As I walked out of the hospital to go home to recover from my radical mastectomy, the air was crisp, the sun shone brightly and I noticed practically every blade of grass of the hospital lawn. I felt so alive!
Realizing that we don’t have much time gives us urgency. Don’t waste a day complaining. Don’t be negative. Live in the light of positivity and gratitude. Work towards your dreams. You might not have much time.
I just saw an old interview with Michael Landon. I was a HUGE fan of the Little House on the Prairie shows and I also liked Bonanza. When Landon died of cancer, the world was shocked. He announced his pancreatic cancer diagnosis and was dead less than three months later.
Something he said in his video keeps coming back to me. He said that knowing the end was near – with certainty – he “noticed” things more…about his loved ones and his life. I remember when I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago – although not any where as serious as Landon’s diagnosis – I was in shock and everything important in my life MAGNIFIED and irrelevant things fell to the wayside. In a way, I never felt more alive.
Since then, I’ve noticed things a little less again. I’ve gotten comfortable and I am aware of this digression.
My hope is that people will have this “awakening” long before a diagnosis. What is really important to you? WHO is important? Notice things more. Slow down.
For background, you can read my posts during my treatment and the recovery. It’s been an amazing journey, for sure. I’m humbled and a bit sheepish to even say I am a cancer-survivor for I did not have to endure chemo or radiation treatments. However, I do believe I can help others who have been given a cancer diagnosis, because I understand the shock and all the stages that accompany it. I also had a rough reconstruction process which included infections, a defective implant and 5 surgeries.
Anniversaries are a great time for reflection. Looking back, am I stronger now? Less materialistic? Grateful? Kinder? I believe I am. I know I’ve made a concerted effort to be those things. I definitely know the importance of living with presence and that is why I’ve been writing about that so much in my blog. Today is the only day we know we have. Yesterday is over. Tomorrow has yet to arrive. So cliche, but true!
I am blessed to have a healthy, wonderful family and a career I love. I have an opportunity – every day – to think, be creative, and write.
For all my women friends out there (those I have met and those I have yet to meet) – for you who are handling a personal struggle challenge: you can do it. You can and you will overcome. Take it one day at a time.