right here in the u.s. of a. ???…

Pretty scary to realize that in 2015 there continues to be pockets of blatant discrimination against people of color right here in our own backyard.

No. I’m not naive enough to think our country’s record is impeccable or even spotty at best, but to know that Fergusson, Missouri police can arrest innocent people “just because,” is totally unfathomable. 

When we look down our noses upon what’s going on in the Middle East, clucking our tongues as if to say “My, my. Those poor, unfortunate people running from the violence and terrorism overtaking their countries,”…let’s remember the Fergussons right here at home where many live in fear of being terrorized by law enforcement, sometimes with violent consequences.

When I hear of occurrences like what happened in Fergusson, my gut reaction is to make sure I never, ever visit such a backward-thinking place. And I’m not denigrating third-world countries where they may not know better. I’m talking about towns in our own country where folks SHOULD know better.

Laziness is no excuse. Stupidity maybe. I think I could forgive stupid people, although I wouldn’t hang out with them. Lazy people? Not so much.

Not that the folks in Fergusson care whether or not I set foot in their town. It’s just with all the negative publicity, it’s more than likely nobody outside the town will ever want to visit. That too is probably okay with Fergusson folks, especially law enforcement.

…just needed to let off steam…

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

living her best life…#33

Last week Pat wasn’t feeling so great. Not because of her chemotherapy treatment, but as a result of the side effects of homeopathic supplements prescribed by her naturopath intended to boost her immune system. It’s always trial and error attempting to learn what works and what doesn’t. 

Since then Pat’s had an awesome experience which I’m certain gave her spirit the boost she needed. No doubt about it.

Just won the Division II State Championship Soccer title!!!

Brad and I are not at the stadium. We watched the game on TV. The team won handily, beating Kamehameha Hawaii from the big Island by 7 to 1. 

It was so cool to see all the boys on TV as well as the parents whenever the cameras panned the crowd. What touched me most was hearing the announcers mention that the white arm bands worn by the boys were for “Aunty Pat.” There was also a colorful poster hanging in the stands which read…Get well Aunty Pat…from da Boys. Seeing that brought a lump to my throat.

Not only did we get to watch the game, but we were also provided dinner by one of the soccer families. Lynn and her son Justin had dropped the meal off earlier in the day. This is the fourth week our soccer friends have provided us with prepared food.

I’m still in awe at the level of support we continue to receive.

The team, along with their families and friends, are celebrating tonight’s win with a big potluck just outside the stadium. Another family took candy leis we’d provided to give to the boys from us. They will be up to their eyeballs in leis…literally! They will probably be bursting with pride as each of them has his picture taken with the trophy. 

Finally, the parents can let out a big sigh of relief. The season is nearing an end. All that’s left is the end-of-the-year banquet which is always tons of fun. It’s what we did last year…and previous ones as well. Can you tell we kinda miss it?

Anyway, just wanted to share this moment as it was quite special and meaningful for both Brad and me.

Chat again soon…

…love you always…

…and all my supporters.

………pat…and hugmamma.

living her best life…#32: second cycle of treatment

More from Pat as we continue to follow her journey through the everyday challenges of living with…multiple myeloma and amyloidosis.

Received the following last thursday.

Hi [hugmamma]…

It’s now after 1 a.m.. The steroids make it hard to sleep. It’s not like I’m bouncing off the walls. I feel tired, but I just can’t fall asleep. Brad’s snoring doesn’t help. Since Aiden left for college, I can use his bed if I get desperate.

Yesterday was the first day of my second 4-week treatment cycle. Fortunately, it went just fine…like the previous cycle of treatments.

There were a lot of patients again today. I’m getting use to it.

I took the last available seat when my name was called. Sitting next to me was the woman I saw during a previous appointment who was just beginning her treatment. Her daughter was with her again. They both smiled at me. I didn’t recognize them at the time, but now that I think about it…that’s who they were.

Unlike previously, I did not feel guilty about doing better than others. I realized we all cope in our own way.

Those with seemingly lengthy treatments have family popping in now and then to ensure all is well. Some are talking on their cell phones. Some are preoccupied with their IPads or laptops. And some are enjoying their snacks…as if they were at home in their favorite recliner. I had to smile at one guy who was out like a light…”sawing some serious wood.” As for me, I was able to write some overdue thank you notes. Now I just have to remember to mail them tomorrow. [hugmamma here: Pat remembered. Her thank-you note to my husband and me read…

Thank you for the Valentine’s Day gifts.

I really enjoyed the movie MALEFICENT! And Ethan hasn’t found the chocolates yet.

Thank you also for your continued love and support. Those quick text messages are a great comfort. And the emails and blog keep me in the right frame of mine.

I miss you guys and can’t wait until we can visit in person.

Love always…Pat.

[hugmamma here:These words brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. Lucky for me, I married her brother…and gained…a loving…lovely…younger sister.]

I was with three other patients towards a back corner of the room. We were all facing one another and it seemed as though we were in our own separate sitting area. I thought “Wouldn’t it be fun if we were all chatting gaily while having mani-pedis???” Hmmm…I wonder if the Oncology Department has a suggestion box?

Before going in for my treatment, Brad and I went to visit his parents. I think it helped for them to see me looking like my old self. When they offered lunch, I was so hungry I said “YES, PLEASE!!!”

Evidently I’d not had enough, because after my treatment I went to Costco’s food court while Brad was in Home Depot. I felt no guilt as I enjoyed a mocha freeze. I need the calories!

Took my home meds. Much easier with regular pills that dissolve more readily than the gel-coated capsules. Still tastes yucky though!

Over the weekend I had started a food journal as the dietitian I’m seeing had suggested. It made me aware of what I was eating which is something I want to continue. Journaling also ensured I ate…AND made smarter choices. At least I think I did. What I’m not certain about is if I ate enough. I emailed the information to the dietitian, so I’ll see what she says.

Browsed through my cancer-fighting cookbook and made a shopping list. Looking forward to trying the recipes.They sound pretty good and I think my family would enjoy them as well. Most of them contain ingredients which I already have or which I readily recognize. I’m sure I can find what I need at Whole Foods or in the organics/health foods sections of our local grocery stores. I must confess to only recently discovering these aisles. Imagine how shocked my shopping cart was…as it rolled warily through uncharted territory!

Looking forward to the weekend. Have a Reiki session with Mica on Sunday morning. And the State Soccer Tournament is also this weekend. Aiden’s high school team, MPI, is the number one seed for Division II.

That’s it for another “new normal” day. I’m going to try and get some sleep so I’m not dragging tomorrow. I’ve got a lot of healthy shopping to do!

Love you always…[and your family].

…and hugs to all who continue to offer…love and support.

…pat………and hugmamma.

living her best life…#31

A belated HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!! 

Was just reminded I missed sending out hugs to one and all. And yet it’s never too late for…

HUGS…ALL…AROUND!!! February 2011 00053Pat reminded me of my oversight when she emailed the following.

To update you on our Valentine Day’s weekend…

The power surge during the storm killed our TV. So in the afternoon, under sunny skies…you know our Hawaiian weather, bad one minute, glorious the next…we went to Best Buy to get a new one. Stopped by W&M Burger in Kaimuki on the way home. It took me a while but I managed to eat a Royal Burger. Do you remember that place? [Hugmamma here: No, I don’t, but you’re making me “ono” for one…with all the fixins’!]

We watched Maleficent later that night and I loved it! I especially liked the idea that “true love” exists between a child and a parent. I realize Maleficent wasn’t Aurora’s mother…but she acted as though she was because of how she doted on Aurora.

Didn’t do anything special for Valentine’s Day. Just had take out from Zippy’s. Ate something from the fridge instead.

Sunday afternoon friends from our son’s soccer team stopped by with dinner. They visited for a while which was really nice. After they left we heated up the food they brought for us…squash soup…chicken/eggplant stir fry…Chinese style veggies and long rice. All yummy!

That night we packed up a futon and blankets and went to Sandy Beach. 

Sat in the back of Brad’s truck.

I drank hot chocolate; he had coffee.

We looked up at the heavens…and watched the stars.

Lots of shore fishermen were out that night.

After the storm the previous day, Sunday was calm and clear.

On Monday we met Brad’s friends for a picnic and some shore line fishing. 

Brad caught one Oio. That was about it. He gave it to a family fishing a little ways down from where we were.

His friends brought tons of food. The aromas coming from food cooking on the hibachi smelled so good! I made sure to bring something I could eat…including leftover squash soup.

Later when we arrived home…WOW!!!…we found a cooler full of food in our garage. Thanks to Brad’s sister.

Today, Tuesday, I was back at work. Boy! Was my in-tray full!

Didn’t have to cook dinner tonight since we still had a bunch of leftovers.

Checked my blood test results. Everything still looks good. And if I’m reading my numbers right, some of them may have gone up.

Tomorrow is the first day of the second cycle of my chemotherapy treatment.

Oh! And they changed my meds from capsules to tablets which melt more easily in water. No more trying to swallow the gummy, outer coating of the capsules. Yuck! Should be lots quicker to take. Won’t taste better, but at least I won’t be in the bathroom for half-an-hour.

That’s it for now. Until next time…

…love to you, your family…

…and all my well-wishers!

………pat…and hugmamma.

living her best life…#30

We all have moments of reflection. Although most of us never need to contemplate…living with cancer, day in and day out.

Reading Pat’s thoughts on how she deals with her “new normal,” is humbling. I’m less likely to think about what ails me.

Hi [hugmamma],

Haven’t emailed in a while, so I’m glad we got to talk last week.

I realized I’ve been putting off emailing about my last treatment.

For some reason I feel compelled to record something each time…be it good or bad. So I must do this before I forget how I felt last week.

Treatment went as well as the three previous ones.

Had a different nurse, Etta. She was young and pretty like Tara, and just as attentive. 

My appointment was earlier than usual. That seemed to make a big difference. It was crowded! Patients occupied every chair. 

I was struck by the fact that so many people are fighting cancer. It was more than a little disconcerting.

My chair was in a sunny corner of the room.

As in the past, I was in and out while those who were there before me were still being treated when I got up to leave.

I realized that being there for some time, meant some of the patients had to haul their IVs along with them when they visited the bathroom. Some brought snacks or meals. Whether or not they could keep from upchucking their food was another matter.

It seemed to me I was the youngest patient. Or maybe it just felt that way…

More than that I felt rather fortunate not to have suffered any serious side effects. I haven’t lost my hair, or my appetite. Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit more tired and achy, but really…I have NOTHING to complain about.

It’s weird, but I’ve been feeling a bit guilty. Especially when I think about folks I know who had a really difficult time while undergoing cancer treatment. I was warned as to how awful it would be, and what all they had to endure. Truthfully…I have yet to deal with any of that.

I know it’s still relatively early in my treatment process, but I thank God every day.  After all…every day…is another day. And that’s a good thing.

I’ll remember that, should I have a bad day.

Thinking about last week’s treatment leaves me teary-eyed, but it’s something I had to get off my chest…feeling guilty.

So thank you for being my sounding board. I’ve said it before.

It does help.

…love you always…pat.

…love you more…

………hugmamma.

 

living her best life…#29

Just thought I’d give a little update re Pat’s status from a phone chat we had last week Thursday.

Pat’s a wonderful listener, so I got a lot said.

Not my intention when I made the call.

Of course she asked a lot of questions.

And laughed a lot.

So I figured..Okay. She’s laughing, so I guess she’s feeling fine.

I love it when she laughs.

Her whole face lights up…eyes crinkling at the corners…pearly whites showing from ear to ear.

Pat’s being treated wonderfully by friends and family who feed her and her men.

In addition to a meal of fresh, cooked salmon with a couple of sides, her sister Kathi had brought by homemade chicken noodle soup.

A friend had called asking which of 2 options Pat preferred.

Talk about Chinese take-out.

She chose butternut squash soup and a stir-fried dish.

When speaking of husband Brad, Pat got really animated.

I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

Not that I needed to…get a word in edgewise, that is.

According to his gushing, eternally grateful wife…BRAD IS SMART!!!

I mean really, really smart.

And believe me…I don’t doubt it.

Pat’s lucky to have her hubby in her corner as she beats the c–p out of c—-r!

Brad researches Pat’s diseases to within an inch of their silly existences.

Armed to the nines, he queries the doctors about the medical hooha he doesn’t quite get as a lay person.

Not only that but Brad can actually remember what he’s learned.

Me?

I can regurgitate what I’ve read or heard…to a point.

After that it’s…duh???…memory hiccup.

Then lo and behold.

While we were speaking, Pat’s doorbell rang.

Our Valentine’s Day gift had arrived.

Candy, cards…and MALEFICENT!

We both agreed we’d not been fans of Angelina Jolie since she enticed Brad Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston.

Now…how long ago was that?

Thankfully, Aniston’s garnered well-deserved happiness with fiancee Justin Theroux. 

And the Jolie-Pitts have settled in nicely together with a lovely brood of children, and are to be congratulated for their awesome charitable work.

My daughter turned my husband and me on to Maleficent, starring Jolie with a cameo by daughter Vivian as toddler Aurora.

Haven’t heard how Pat liked the DVD, although she was viewing it when a thunderstorm took out the power in her area.

She text me that she could hardly wait til the electricity returned.

Can’t wait to hear how she liked this very unique remake of…SLEEPING BEAUTY.

Pat did say our brother-in-law Dennis was doing well after the stroke he suffered. 

To look at him, she said, you’d never know anything extraordinary had happened.

So as far as I could tell…

…it was good news all around.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: life in a…fortune cookie?

Never know what you’ll find when you break open a fortune cookie. 

Since I’m not usually a fan of this Chinese take-out dessert, I’m not likely to rush over to the bag to crack one open and see what it says about my past…present…or future.

Unlike me, however, my husband and daughter like the taste of fortune cookies and are always curious about their predictions.

When my daughter came across the following in a cookie she opened for me, well…it did seem appropriate for what I was going through at the time.

Avoid agreeing with people merely to keep peace.

In fact, that tiny slip of paper is still in the clutches of my pet tyrannosaurus rex…a little, rubber one which came as a prize in some food product…sitting at the top of my laptop.

Trying to rid my life of unwanted and unnecessary stress these last several years has meant adopting the message in these words. There’s no retracting the time lost worrying over other people’s agendas. Instead, I’ve made a concerted effort to find peace in my own life, ensuring that I can live as happily as is feasible.

I don’t insist others agree with me…just because.

…i do wish them peace, however.

………hugmamma.

my pet T-REX...

my pet T-REX…

(Find more inspiration at…

https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/nurturing-thursday-fly/

living her best life…#28

Pat sent the following in an email last Thursday. Life got ahead of me so I didn’t post it. Although a little late, it’s still poignant because of the insight it gives into her frame of mind on any given day.

I’m staying home today and tomorrow. Brad and I decided, if I feel well, I’ll go to work on Mondays and Tuesdays. I’ll do my blood tests on Monday and use that to determine if I should go in or not on Tuesday. I usually receive the results midday Monday.

On Wednesdays, I’ll go in for my treatments. I’ll then rest on Thursdays and Fridays.

I feel well again today, so I thought I might also work on Fridays. However I don’t want to overdo it. So I’ll see what I do.

Yesterday, I actually felt a little tired before and after going in for my treatment. After a nap, I felt slightly foggy…kinda like the meds are the kryptonite to my wannabe super power of clarity. It wasn’t so bad though that I couldn’t make dinner.

Having recently gone to Costco for more ginger juice, I had picked up a few things. So I cooked some steaks on the stove top grill, and made a salad for Brad and Ethan. Of course, I couldn’t eat the steak. Catching a few whiffs of its aroma was all I could do to satisfy my cravings for it. It worked. Mind over matter, I guess.

At least the smell of food, even when I’m cooking, doesn’t “turn my stomach.”

[Hugmamma here: In response to what I wrote…

You’re such a trooper, Pat. Keeping up your positive spirits in trying circumstances.

You inspire me to stop complaining and get on with it. Guess it only goes to show…everything is still normal.

Your life is a new normal now. And I’m here for you without question.

Love you…just as you are. Sending hugs…

………hugmamma.

Pat had this to say by way of reply…

I was thinking the same thing as far as this is just a new normal for me. So with that said, I’m going to take a shower, get dressed, have some breakfast and get started on laundry. Never thought doing laundry would be cause to celebrate, but there you go…

…normal at its best!

…talk again soon…love you always…

………pat.

living her best life…#27

As we all know we can make the hiccups pass with a nice, long, cool drink of water. That usually works.

In Pat’s case it came in the form of a…nephew’s weekend wedding.

Wanted to let you know it was a pretty good weekend.

Although Dennis is still in the hospital [due to his having had a stroke]…he’ll likely be released tomorrow (Monday). …Brad and I stopped to visit on Saturday afternoon before heading to Ramsey’s wedding.

Yes, despite all the trials and tribulations thrown our way, life goes on.

Dennis must be feeling better because he told Brad he’ll probably have a few days off so he’s going  to call him to go fishing. When Brad asked if he could hold a fishing pole, Dennis replied…not yet but he’s working on it.

[Hugmamma here: That’s Dennis! Nothing will keep him from the fish he loves to catch and eat.]

It’s a good sign that Dennis remembers everything. I think he needs to rest to regain his strength.

Having Jen [his daughter, a nurse] hovering over Dennis was reassuring. One of the nurses attending him was a family friend. She comes from a big family just like ours. Because of that, we all went to school with one of the siblings. Malia was a year or two younger than me. An older sister of hers is one of Julie’s [Pat’s sister} closest friends.

After visiting with Dennis, we drove out to the west side of the island for Ramsey’s wedding. 

It was a beautiful ceremony in a gorgeous setting. 

Just the thing I…maybe we all…needed.

It was good to reconnect with everyone. I hadn’t seen most of them since our family meeting where I told them about my diagnosis. So it was nice to be able to talk with them in person, and let them know that I’m doing okay.

Everything was held outdoors. A spectacular sunset was the perfect backdrop.

Of course the Hawaiian food was ono…Hawaiian for “yummy delicious!” There were additional choices, however, since the bride’s family had flown in from Montana.

Uncle Dennis usually makes the poke…a Hawaiian delicacy of raw tuna fish, seaweed, and seasonings. However Cousin Eric and his wife, Nicole, provided it for the wedding.

I actually managed to eat enough kalua [roasted] pig, poi [a Hawaiian starch made from taro root], and sweet potato to fill me up. 

Hawaiian music was playing, while hula girls danced.

Bride Lauren gave her unique, Bird-of-Paradise, floral bouquet away in pieces, which was pretty cool. She gave one piece to her grandmother, the only grandparent who made it to the wedding. Another piece was given to her mother for being so supportive throughout. The remaining two pieces were given to both Ramsey’s mom and step-mom for welcoming Lauren into their families. They were her “moms” since her own lived so far away.

Back to reality…I went shopping at Whole Foods today. Bought some unfamiliar ingredients to make almond muffins. I’ll let you know how they turn out. It’s from a book given to me by a friend. The Cancer Fighting Kitchen has a lot of recipes that look pretty good.

I plan on going in to work tomorrow after my blood test…the start of another week. 

Just taking it one step at a time.

Talk again soon.

…love always, pat.

…and we love you too.

………hugmamma.

 

living her best life…#26

As often happens in our lives, there can be hiccups along the way.

Recently, Pat had such a day…

News in Hawaii is that Kaiser-Hawaii employees are on strike!

My nurse had assured me that she would be here for me this week, and she was. Because Kaiser was short-staffed I had to wait a bit. In spite of that, Tara was as attentive as ever.

Additional blankets were ordered but because of shortages on all the floors, only a few were obtained. 

Brad said the cafeteria was closed.

I don’t know exactly who’s on strike but I guess it includes medical assistants, cafeteria workers, and lab techs/nurses who administer the blood tests…as well as the guys who do the laundry.

Some smaller clinics are closed altogether this week.

Supposedly, the strike should only last a week. However it might continue to occur intermittently thereafter.

 On Monday I had a blood test, and today I went in for chemotherapy treatment. Thankfully, I didn’t encounter any problems because of the strike.

I hope all other patients are getting the care they require. From what I could see while I was there for my treatment, everyone seemed to be receiving what they needed.

When I entered the room,  I sat next to a man who was already undergoing treatment. He was still there when I left.

On the other side of him was a woman who was in for her first treatment. She had family with her. I overheard the nurse explain what would take place, assuring the patient, as I had been, that she would be fine. Then the pharmacist, Richard, arrived to explain what drugs she would receive and how they would be administered. I remember how he’d done that for me on my first day.

Then there was another woman who was in for her last session. She sat and knitted while having her treatment. The nurses thanked her for the manapua…a bun filled with shredded, barbecued pork. A Chinese delicacy she’d brought them on previous occasions. The woman hugged them all when she left, saying she’d return to visit…but not to stay!

That woman inspired me even though it’s still early in my treatment. I wanted to reach out to reassure the woman who was just beginning…or perhaps her daughter.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to strike up a conversation with fellow patients.

Or maybe not.

It’s such a personal, anxious and scary thing for me. I’m sure it must be for the others as well.

While finishing up my treatment, Tara and I were laughing about something. The woman’s daughter…if, in fact, that’s who she was…glanced my way, smiling. I hope my conversation and laughter helped allay her fears…at least a little bit.

I’ll sign off now so I can go and eat something.

By the way…I gained 2 pounds! Yoohoo!!! Never thought I’d be celebrating that.

…we’ll talk again soon…

…love you all…always.

………pat.