Never ignore a person who loves you, cares for you, and misses you. Because one day you might wake up from your sleep and realize that you lost the moon while counting the stars.~Unknown

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mandi Fuhriman

What I have learned this past year,

This year i have learned that life is too short. There are so many people in this world, everyone struggles in different ways. I have learned that there are so many good people in this world. Watching my mom go through what she went through made me realize that if we have faith and positive thoughts we can and WILL get through anything. Its the negative thoughts that tear us down and make it hard for us to get through our struggles. There are so many people in this world that ssee when someone really needs them and puts their struggles aside to help this certain person. I have learned that sometimes the hardest things to do in life are sometimes the best thing for you. I have watched my mom go through some amazingly hard times and she always pulls through it and comes right back on top. I admire her more than she will understand. One thing that i live by is.. God would never let trials happen to us that we cant handle. My divorce for example. Hardest thing i have been through. Emotions were out of control. Happy, sad, lonely, helpless, hopeless, guilt. But i did it and i am so happy now. I know god knew it was the right thing for me. I am not a very religious person but i do believe in god. I know he never leaves me no matter what i do in life. He knows me. He knows what my heart desires and knows what i need to go through to get to where i want and need to be. Do we all have the same beliefs and lifestyles? No! If we did life would be boring. Were all different. Some people never understand why a certain person does the things they do, but they're not in their shoes.
So this last year i learned that life is really too short. We all go through trials. Its all up to US how we get through these trials.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mitch Evans

What I learned in the past year

I think the main thing I learned this past year is how to face the toughest of trials and still be happy. We as a family always joke that we "can't wait 'til 2012", and it's true for the most part. However, the past year has taught me that no matter how difficult of a trial we are going through, staying happy and positive can make it a whole lot easier. I didn't learn this on my own, however. I learned this from my Mom. When she was in the lowest of times, in the most pain emotionally, physically, and spiritually she has ever been in, all she could think about was others. She didn't care about herself, all she cared about was helping others who are suffering through similar trials as she was. As I think back about it more and more I realize how amazing my Mom is and the great example she is to all of us. When she could have very easily folded and complained and looked for people to give her things, or help her out, she did the exact opposite. She went out and helped others, made them feel better, even donated money to them when she was in a place of financial hurt herself. I tell people she is the most amazing woman I have ever met, and this is not an exaggeration. She loves others more than herself just as the Savior did. She has been through a gauntlet of trials and yet has remained faithful and trusts in God. What a great example and blessing this is to have a mother like this. I always tell my Mom to "stay positive and love her life." It was in the past year that I realized I need to practice what I preach even more.

Thanks Mom for your example and teaching me the above mentioned attributes that will help me throughout my life and even more importantly help others. You truly are the best Mom and most amazing woman in the world. Merry Christmas Ma, I love you!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


What I've learned over the past year:
I have learned that life is really short and it is very useless to waste it by being negative. It's important to remember all the good you have and try your best to forget about the bad. Being negative about your circumstances, just destroys yourself and your family. My mom was very positive when she went through all her procedures and I think that is what saved her. I guess I've just learned to be grateful for what you've got and forget all the other stuff. That's about all I can do with this.

Monday, December 19, 2011



What I Learned This Year, by Chad Evans

                I began this year in completely different shoes than the ending of it.  I had a great job and was looking forward to finally getting some debts paid off and saving a good chunk of money, knowing that I had a 4,000 dollar tax return coming.  I felt like my addiction and my past were starting to fade away into the sunset and that I was on my way to huge financial success and one day a huge leadership role in the company I worked for.  However, I was reminded of just how fragile financial and professional security often is in these days of “The Great Recession”.  I was demoted out of lack of need for my specialty to telephone sales.  I was disappointed, but the company was struggling.  Eventually I was laid off.  I used the tax return to pay bills and to live off.  Soon, I was moving my family into Dad’s to live with him, Mandi and her kids.  I was pretty down on myself and my lack of confidence eventually pushed my addiction back to the surface where I was too weak to fight back or get help.  I fell hard, and nearly brought my family down with me.  I developed a terrible self-image of myself as a father, husband, son, brother, and overall person.  I emerged from the depths of that despair thanks to my family all doing a difficult thing with the DCFS—something that hurt me badly at the time, but something that I badly needed to get sober and regain some direction in my life.  I feel good about myself and my approach to life, however I admit that daily I am scared crap less about finances.  I get so stressed out about it that it consumes me at times.  I am hoping this year will bring me a stable job and that I will be able to pay the bills.  That is all I want right now.   It is what I think about most of the time.  However, it is the challenging times in life that we learn the most, and I have learned a lot this year.  I’m sure I don’t even know all I have learned, but will someday.  But here are some things I have come to know……

First, I learned and believe, and try to live each day with the approach that almost everyone on the this Earth has good intentions in everything they do.  I feel that looking at life this way helps me avoid judging people, developing grudges, and helps me see the beauty of those around me and ignore the negative traits that we all have.  I am really tired of being critical of others.  Especially during times like these, when we all have enough to deal with, the last thing we need is people being critical of each other.  I know that at times criticism is good, and don’t want to give the impression that it should not be a part of any relationship.  But right now many people are fighting for their lives in one way or the other.  I have been critical and judgmental of other people.  On these occasions I acted selfishly and often hypocritically.  I have learned that there is a positive way of giving others feedback if they have done something that has wronged me, or someone else—or acted in a negative way.  Just as important as the delivery of criticism is the timing.  I have made it a habit to seek amends with those I have judged or been critical of.  I don’t want to be that person.  I want to be blinded to human flaw and see only the beauty of each soul.  This might sound idealistic, but I don’t think it is.  I know for a fact that everyone would be happier if we all tried harder to understand each other than to look for something about one another to complain about or judge.  I feel lucky to have the people in my life I do now.  I want to help build them up, not tear them down.  The world and life is cruel enough.  I don’t want a part of that cruelty. I feel lucky to have many people in my life that share this approach. 

Second, I have learned that sometimes things don’t happen for a reason at all.  They just happen and we will never know why.  I used to think opposite and believed that God controlled each and every thing in the universe.  I don’t know why but I don’t buy that anymore.  I believe we are here for a reason, but things just happen and we have to deal with them, bad or good.  I don’t believe that God controls all of them.  I don’t claim to understand or say I’ll ever understand the Divine Nature of Heavenly Father, but I have learned that He will help me realize when something happens for a reason because I can feel it in my heart.  I can’t explain why I have changed this belief.  But it has occurred.

Third, I have learned that life is fragile and short and it is easy to take our love ones for granted.  Almost losing Mom, and almost having my family torn apart helped remind me of this….I already knew it.  But it is easy to forget.  I appreciate all those in my life and the many things they have done to help me.  I enjoy every day with my wife and son, my family, and my friends.

Fourth, I have learned that it is ok to ask for help and that I don’t have to be strong and perfect every day.  This is something I am still working on but I have finally accepted.  I felt so relieved to realize this and truly believe it.

Finally, I have learned that my son is the most important thing in my life and that everything I do is for him.  So because of that, I try to do right every day and I have become a better man because of him.

That is it.  I guess that’s all I can think of now, though I’m sure I will think of more!!!

Merry Christmas Mom!!!!  I love you forever and like you for always!!

Your boy,


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


"I close the door but you let yourself back in. I let you go but you find me again. You enter my heart uninvited and I recognize all the signs. You fill up my eyes, you roll down my cheeks, take over my heart piece by piece by piece but you are just passing through. You are gonna have to leave soon, you need to know his is not your home. Every now and then, you change your name. I’ve heard you called heartache, some call you sorrow or pain. You come like a breeze and settle on me; sometimes like a storm without a warning. You bring the tears and the tears release my pain. So in a way, I have you to thank. But now I must dry my eyes, wipe my cheeks, reclaim my heart piece by piece by piece by piece cos I need to breathe again, I have to let the sunlight in. God didn’t make my soul to be your home. No, this is not your home." Hilary Weekes

Today, I recognized that tears are one of my tools for self healing. I've been told that tears shed in grief actually have a different chemial makeup from tears shed in joy. I've taken this to mean that my body is unleashing chemicals that it needs to release when I shed tears. This is probably why after a good cry, I feel better. Throughout my recovery, there have been times when I have wept for what appeared to be no reason. Other times, my tears held meaning and often led to a resting ground of healing. Now, as I have a fuller vision of my life, I recall all the grief that I held in. I held it in for a variety of reasons; love, pain, shame, and a desire to spare others the sadness I was experiencing. Mostly, I held it in becuase I was afraid that if I started, the pain would consume me and open the bottomless well I believed it to be. So I simply didn't cry at all. At least not publicly. Cancer gave me permission to cry and allow myself to experience the cleansing act that only tears can bring. I recognize now the inherent curative power and am able to tolerate anothers tears without the discomfort of not knowing what to do or what to say. Ultimately, I hope that a connection between my deeper, hidden self can find congruence with my outer self and I will find peace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beautiful Heartbreak - Hilary Weeks - Every Step

Now that the threat of cancer has subsided, I struggle with the physical changes my body has undergone. I wrestle with what I see in the mirror each morning and feel a longing to look like and feel like "me" again. Me before cancer altered my plans. Part of me is resisting the hill I must climb to find the peace I once felt. I have yet to experience a plan in my life that did not include a mountain promising undesired alterations. My body is tired and my heart aches. Ultimately though, I know that the path is leading me to my own personal 'beautiful heartache.' So, I rest when I need to, cry when the tears conquer my smile and know without a doubt that I will have what I need to accomplish the journey. The words of this song describe the perspective I hold about my experiences of the last year and the months leading up to my diagnosis of cancer.  It is the belief through which I am able to hang on to hope when the storms of life threaten to snatch it from my grasp.  It is the hope that I share with each of you my friends.  Not one of us moves through the stages of life without a plan that represents what we believe about ourselves or what we feel we have earned by the choices we have made. Within the wrappings of those plans, we place our hopes and our dreams; safe from harm and close to our hearts. I have learned that those wrappings are fragile. Trials, disappointments and heartache seem to tear through them leaving our hopes and dreams vulnerable to the elements of life that fall outside the realm of our control. I believe that it is through the alterations to our plans that a loving God leads us to the places in our hearts where our greatest wounds hide. From there, healing leads us to the plans He has for us. And that is where I know our greatest blessings lie.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nurse Joe

When my daughter Katie first set up my blog it was for the purpose of keeping family and friends updated on the events taking place as I battled cancer.  It was her way of loving me..and providing a catalyst through which those who loved me could continue to do so as they were updated on my progress.  That love came pouring in the form of tender mercies, prayers, encouragement and on the most personal of levels, through answers to my most fervent prayers.

Throughout my blog, I have shared some of the intimate prayers I have offered that oft-times originated from a heart broken by the disappointments in life.  As I have blogged, I have done so with the purpose of this being a personal record of the miracles which presented themselves in such a way that I could not deny that they were from a loving Father in heaven who used cancer as a catalyst to share His love with me.  Nurse Joe is one of those evidences.  Because these experiences were of a more personal nature, I have avoided including him in my story.  The reality is, Nurse Joe was an integral part of the healing that cancer brought into my life.  In the years to come and as I reflect on the content included in this blog, I want him to be a part of my story.

I remember those early months following my mastectomy and during the onslaught of the side effects of chemo.  Each day as I got out of the shower, the image that met me was overwhelming.  My femininity as viewed by others was gone.  I had no breasts, no hair, no eyebrows and my body had taken on the distorted image of the chemicals that were destroying my cells.  It was difficult to get dressed in the usual outfits I adorned to 'look the part' of a woman who seemingly had it all together.  It was during those early months that I was forced to come face to face with who I was...not on the outside that I allowed others to see but on the heart, my soul and the essence of who I was as a woman.  Those were vulnerable days on a very personal level..

Joe was my chemo nurse and from the very first treatment, I had an overwhelming sense that he was going to be a part of my life.  As I would later find out, Because he was single, my girls immediately latched on to the possibility that cancer was going to be the catalyst by which I found the love of my life.  According to them (I was drugged and out of it), the casual flirting began.  In the treatments that followed "flirting with Nurse Joe" became the highlight of everyone who came with me to treatment...including my own.  Joe was very concientious and professional but the element of friendship was present in all of our interactions.  My daughters loved him and they did everything they could to promote a friendship.  He made the experience bearable for them and as a result, the sadness of my cancer eluded them as they sat with me during each treatment.  As I would hold my shirt down for him to access my port, I would always teasingly say "Be careful...I don't want you to flash me."  I beleived that I was just being funny until one treatment, he looked at me with the kindest expression and said "Cyndi, that doesn't matter" as if he sensed how deeply my losses were hurting me. 

On the day of my last treatment, the girls teasingly asked Nurse Joe if he wanted to tend me on Saturday; a practice that occurrred the first 3 days following chemo.  With laughter in his voice, he declined but said that he would call and check up on me.  As we went to leave and to the total embarassment of my family, I got brave and gave him my phone number, doubting I would ever hear from him.  I will be honest and say that I did go to sleep that night with a smile on my face anticipating that maybe, just maybe he would call the next morning. First thing the next morning, I got a call from Joe checking to see how I was.  And so our friendship began.

Without going into all the cheesy details, it wasn't long before we were dating and spending time together.  What a sweet man who, true to his earlier words to me, wasn't detered by the deficits I easily judged myself by.  On numerous, tender occasions, he would remind me that those things "didn't matter."  He was loving, tender, and kind; not to mention romantic, affectionate and passionate about life.  It was through those qualities that he taught me that irrespective of my health and condition of my body, I was lovable, attractive and that who I was overshadowed everything else.  I came to love Nurse Joe on so many different levels.  In a few short months, he unraveled the insecurities left, not only by my cancer, but by previous relationships.  As a result, I learned to see myself through different eyes and found peace in myself as a woman...something I don't think I have ever really felt. 

Nurse Joe holds a place in my heart that will always be tender and warm because of the lessons of the heart I learned through his treatment of me and my children.  I will always be grateful for this sweet man who has a unique and gentle heart.  He brought comfort and laughter to my children during a difficult time and taught me of my worth as a woman.  Truly, he is and will always be a friend of the heart and further evidence that my Heavenly Father knows my heart and answers my prayers.  For that, gratitude encompasses my life. 

Gratitude and love always....Cyndi

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fight Like a Girl..

Earlier in the week I was driving behind a vehicle with the words "Fight like a girl" and a breast cancer symbol across the back window.  For some reason, the words have played in my mind all week.  I questioned what it actually meant to 'fight like a girl.'

For me to 'fight like a girl' means to fight with heart...not just any heart but the right heart.  A heart that is tender, hopeful, forgiving, accepting and most importantly, a heart that that loves unconditionally.  Far too often, as life has handed me challenges and disappointments my initial response has been to just fight; to come up swinging against the hurt and fear and to doubt any purpose that might be tucked into the experience as well as the people that came with it. In the end, I simply gave up and dismissed my hopes and dreams. I was in the middle of such a fight when cancer knocked at my door.  I had lost touch with the things that were unique to me as a 'girl.'  I lost touch with my own heart and its desire to nurture, to love, to give, and most importantly, to hope.  Cancer connected me back to my heart and as a result (and as my cute dad always says to me)..."my Cyndibug" is back. 

So often when life takes a turn down a path barren of  any road signs that would indicate fairness, we forget the very qualities that will lead us to understanding.  As 'girls,' we forget the power and strength in an approach from a gentle and nurturing heart. We forget the longings in our hearts to be loved, to be protected, and ultimately to love.  And we fight from the woundedness that drove us away from those, greatest strengths.  And the 'boys' in our lives forget the strengths that move them towards being the kindly warrior, the knight in shining armor, and the one whose hands in which we entrust the holding of our heart.

So now when I think of 'fighting like a girl' I think of the wishes and desires of my own heart which is the desire to react to life from the uniqueness of a 'girls' heart irrespective of the path I may be on.  To hold tight to hope, to appreciate the longings of my heart to love and be loved, and to approach life with the tenderness from which my own life originated. 

                      FIGHT LIKE A GIRL
Gratitude and love always...


I Was Here..

Cancer is an ominous companion who seldom makes its presence known until it has begun its destructive journey.  Following my last treatment, I was nervous, wondering if it would once again make its presence known in my life. It didn't take fear long to redirect my once hopeful thoughts. After entertaining it for a bit, I made a committment live life..whatever and however long that might be. I realized that if I was fearful, I would miss the experiences and opportunities that life was waiting to unfold before me. And I would become self-centered and miss opportunities to share the love and hope that I had gained during my journey. So I committed to live life. In the words of this song, I found expression for the feelings in my heart.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Final Radiation!

On July 14, 2011 I completed my radiation tx and recieved the good news that my cancer is in remission.  Following my examination with my Radiation Oncologist Dr. Leslye Engersol, I asked her if this meant I was cancer free. Her reply was that no, my cancer was in remission.  Being the persistent person I am, I then questioned at which point would I be considered 'cancer free' to which she replied.."when you are dead."  So, I will hold with gratitude the fact that after a long winter, my cancer is in remission.

I have thought so much about the valuable life lessons that I have learned as I have taken this unexpected and certainly uninvited journey.  As I reflect on the changes that have occurred in my heart, I can only express gratitude and humility for this experience.  In my upcoming posts (which I will be more faithful at making) I hope to share the many reflections of gratitude and hope that have been my companions this long, difficult winter season.

For now, I share that truly, summer has once again arrived and at its arrival has replaced vibrant colors of life and living with those once darkened days of winter.  No longer do I greet the day with trepidation and uncertainity.  No longer do I force time to fly within my mind to escape the darkness.  Instead, I wake with a heart full of gratitude and an increased awareness of the good in my life and the love that has sustained me through the many seasons of my life.  So I share with each of you my love for life, for love, for time, and for every day that I am given to make something more of my life and hopefully, bless the lives of others as I have been so richly bless.  And I share a heartful of gratitude for each of you my friends and family who have walked beside me each step of the way, giving me courage and strength when I lacked the ability to reach deep inside myself enough to find my own.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sweet Dylan

Mandy Shaw: 2:22 AM, July 28..Dylan passed away at 1:20 a.m.  We are heartbroken...

Early this morning, 1:20, our sweet Dylan went to heaven.  He is free from the tumor.  He is free from any pain or sadness.  It was not easy to let him go.  Our lives were blessed every single day because he was in them.  We will feel this void for the remainder of our livese here on the Earth.  I know, he will be here with us whenever possible.  I know that he will watch over his brothers, sisters, parents, and family.  I know it was hard for him to leave us.  His mission on the other side is only beginning.  We love him so much, and will anxiously look forward to the beautiful reunion I know awaits us.  Thank you, from our hearts and souls, for all your love, concern, & prayers.  
We will forever be Doin' it 4 Dylan!
The  Shaw Family

In March, Dylan was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  From that day forward, lives were changed and hearts were softened as Dylan found a place in their hearts.  Dylan had a special hold on my heart.  He was the epitome of selflessness and unconditional love.  He had a heart wiser than the 9 years that it guided his earthly journey.  In the few short months that marked his journey back to his Heavenly Father, he touched lives and gave service to others whose lives were being ravaged by cancer.  Mine was one of those lives and I am forever changed for my time with him.

Life is so fragile, so tender, and so sacred.  So is the love of a Father in Heaven who loves each of us individually and collectively.  I know that He was there in the quiet of the night as a young mother held her child as he passed from this life to the next.  He will be there to comfort her as her empty arms cause her heart to break.  He will be there in the quiet moments when timeless memories are shared and laughter returns to a young family longing to remember.  He will be there when the night feels too long and the promise of dawn too far to reach.  He will be there until the promise of eternity brings comfort and peace to longing hearts.

My heart aches for this young family however rejoices for sweet Dylan who needed only a brief moment of earthly experiences to secure his place with his Father in Heaven for eternity.  His example of service in the face of uncertainty and love in the face of death will forever change my heart.  

I have come to know that our Father in Heaven is in the quiet moments of our lives.  He keeps his promise when He says that He will never leave us comfortless.  He is there in the moments when our hearts are calm and He is there when our hearts are questioning and asking "why."  He is there for the first kiss on an infants head and for the last matter how timely or untimely it may come.  As those who know and loved Dylan and the Shaw family shed anguished tears, He is there.

He is there with each of us as we experience those quiet moments when life has hands us a lesson we long to reject and run from.  I know that with all my heart.  He was there when my fears overwhelmed me, when my hope briefly dissapated into the darkness of the night, and when dawn eluded me for days at a time.  And He is here as my body heals, my heart opens, and life is renewed after a long, tenous winter.  Always....light follows the darkness, peace follows the storm, and after all is said and remains.

Gratitude and love always....Cyndi    

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sometimes, messages of love surprise us by the wrapping which they arrive in. Often, they come when we least expect them but need them the most. Such was the case with this message of love sent to me by a child who has the magical gift of letting music express emotions that have difficulty expressing themselves in any other forum. Thank you Amy...for being aware of me and seeing me through the eyes of my struggle...and for allowing yourself to be there when I need the strength of another to guide me though it. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

At best, it has been a difficult week both physically and emotionally.  Physically, I have been battling a staph infection in the wound left by the removal of my port. This was followed by a nasty bout with Bronchitis.  Emotionally, I have been in every nook and every corner of a mother's heart as I have made hard but necessary choices on behalf of a child. 

Sunday morning, Mitch came downstairs and realizing how ill I was, laid his head on my lap and cried the quiet tears of a child struggling to understand why life has to be so hard.  I am grateful for the tender hearts of my children.  Right now, it is their hearts that mine ache for. I miss being able to be there for them and feel so sad that their hearts have to ache for me.

When I was first diagnosed, the nurse told me to plan that the next year would be donated to the cancer.  At the time, the fear and uncertainty of what my future held made a year seem like a small price to pay.  In my logical mind, I still believe that.  My heart is waning as I am realizing how long this year is becoming.  Discouragement is nipping at my heels as I watch my children come to terms with their own heartaches realting to our journey through cancer.  I long to feel like myself be physically and emotionally present for my children and grandchildren.  I try to visualize what it will feel like to feel whole again..both physically and emotionally without the daily reminders of what my body has been through the past 7 months.  Ahhh... to have a bad hair day again seems like such a blessing!

As challenges and struggles continue to appear, I daily remind myself of what I know about life, about love, and about a Father in Heaven who knows the corners of my heart where my greatest fears and heartaches hide.  As stated in 2 Nephi 4 verse 9..'I know in whom I have trusted."  As I have wrestled with the hard things that have presented themselves in my life this week, those words have been the banner running through my mind and truly, I know in whom I have trusted.

It's hard to wrap our minds around the painful aspects of life that we are all called upon to endure.  More times than not, we struggle to make sense when there are no answers in sight.  We question, we doubt, we cry, and at times...wonder where God is as we do so.  I have done all those things.  I have bounced from hope to hopelessness and from faith to fear more times in a day than should be humanely possible.  At the end of a good cry and what feels like a broken heart, I return to what I know and that is that 'I know in whom I have trusted.'  And the lesson learned is that no matter how senseless something may feel, He knows the end from the beginning and He is control.  My greatest blessings have emerged from my deepest tragedies.  From that, I have learned to be patient as He weaves the path that ultimately brings me back to where my heart lives.  It is there that I find the faith and hope to continue to endure all that He asks of me.

In the midst of turmoil and confusion, I am grateful for the strength of my children.  Even when that strength dwindles as life brings challenges, I know that ultimately they will survive.  And I know that I will survive.  The path is strewn with difficult moments however in the end....I know in whom I have trusted...

Gratitude and love always...Cyndi

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Anything For A Friend Event

Anything for a Friend is just that....anything for a friend.  My event was magical at best...filled with more love and support than one heart could hold.  What a wonderful opportunity to experience the goodness of others as they did 'anything for a friend.'  I could spend hours sharing the many, many acts of service rendered on my behalf.  I could share the laughter and the tears that are a part of this experience.  With pictures and words, I could string together a chain of inpenetrable friendship and love.  Right now though, my mind lingers on my greatest insight...'and a little child shall lead them...'

The week of my event I answered my front door to find a sweet little toddler standing there holding a pizza with a card clutched tightly in his tiny hand.  As he and his mother entered the door, he immediately ripped open the card as he excitedly announced that he sold pizzas for me.  The 5, one hundred dollar bills that fell to the floor were unmatched by the obvious joy that this little one felt at doing something for this woman he had just a minute before met.  Two years old and his mother had already taught him that service is full of love, excitement, and unadulterated joy. 

The night before my event a young girl came to my door with 114 cupcakes she had spent the entire day making.  As we talked about my event and the upcoming ones, she extracted a promise from me that I would let her help with those who follow me.  She too had the vision of what it meant to spend her time and energy on something even bigger than what she knew it to be.  At a young age, she saw an opportunity to do something for someone else and she took it.

Not sure how to begin to describe the two young men who have touched my heart in such a profound way that I struggle to contain the emotion when their faces flit through my mind's eye.
Tyler, who came to the event, became ill, went home to take some medicine, and returned to be there.  As I introduced him and acknowledged the goodness of his heart, he turned his head into my shoulder and began to cry.  Tyler is 14 and cancer is ravaging his young body. The love I felt from such a young person battling such a deadly battle is now permanently etched in my heart.  Follow Tyler's story at

Then there is my sweet Dylan who is the 9 yr old son of one of my 'other daughters' who is fighting a losing battle with brain cancer. His time here on this earth is short and he seems determined to fill it helping others in spite of his physical limitations and ailments.  Dylan was there at the event, money in hand to contribute.  Dylan won a raffle item...a large stuffed animal and when his name was read as the winner, I couldn't have been happier.  That happiness quickly turned to tender awe as I watched him being pushed in his wheelchair to Samantha...a little 6 yr old also battling cancer.  Without hesitation, he gave her his winnings and watched as she hugged it close.  He returned home and spent the next week putting together a lemonade stand and bake sale to make money for his new friend Tyler.  He was successful beyond measure.  Love always prevails...even if it is for someone you just met.  Dylan's life is the ultimate measure of that.

So when I say that my event was a success...this is what I am referring to.  These are children whose hearts have been changed through a challenge that as adults, we run from.  The world has not yet taught them to run from their fear and anguish so they embrace it with the purest forms of service and love.  They have taught me so much about love by the innocence through which they give to others in the midst of their own fight to survive.  What a wonderful word this could be if we could all return to that place of innocence that allows us to forget ourselves, love more freely, and share who we are with those around us.  Through the eyes of children, I am reminded how simple life can be...even in the wake of a storm, when we reach out to others.  As a result, the winds have quieted, the storm subsided and my hope renewed.  How does one adequately express gratitude for that?   

Never underestimate the power of the simple acts of kindness we all hold in our hearts. 
Gratidue and love always....Cyndi

Sunday, June 5, 2011

One more surgery...

Today I went into surgery for the removal of my port. As Katie and I sat waiting, memories of my last surgery flooded me. I found emotions that I have avoided feeling surface as we talked and shed a few tears. It wasnt until I felt the bright, sterile coldness of the operating room that the emotions fully reached the surface. Fortunately, there was only a few moments until I drifted off into the safety the anesthesia provided. I will never forget the day that I had my double mastectomy. I waited to go back to surgery under the watchful, protective eyes of my children and family. I was heavily clad in courage until I left the security of their love and was wheeled down the hall towards the operating room. As I rounded the corner, there leaning against the wall was my youngest son Mitch. He smiled but it did not hide the tears running down his cheeks and the sadness in his glance. How grateful I was that his sweet face was the last I saw before I went into the operating room. Katie was unable to be there that day and although the reason that kept her away was important, I missed her. It was after I recovered the anesthesia that I realized that through the windows of my heart, I had seen her there, with Mitch, as I was wheeled by. That was a blessing from a Heavenly Father who knew the heart of a mother that needed to see each of her children before she underwent such a major surgery.  On that day, as the doors to the operating room opened and the starkness of the room hit me, my own tears began to fall. The anesthesiologist asked the reason for my tears and I remember feeling surprised that he would even need to ask the question. I cried out I didn't want to do this, placed a hand on each of my breasts and drifted away from the emotion that was choking me.

After that, there wasn't a lot of time to think about the loss I had experienced. There was recovery and preparation for chemotherapy. It just was what it was and I avoided the emotion attached to the experience. Even the scars, the drains, and the pain were unable to distract me from the denial in which I protected my hurt. I was surprised by that but greatly appreciative of the shelter it afforded me. My surgery today cracked my shell and opened up avenues for the pain to begin creeping though. I felt vulnerable and insecure for the first time as I made my way from surgery to my first radiation treatment. It wasn't until I was lying on the cold, steel table under the colder machine above my head, bare from the waist up that the reality hit me. What was once a most intimate, personal part of my body was now the drawing board for two radiologists as they marked with red ink the pathway for the radiation to follow. They were sensitive and kind, professional and confident... but still, unaware of the emotion I was feeling.

I left the hospital with a heavy heart, longing for the time that my body would become my own again..private and sacred. Life is hard and we are faced with loss and disappointment that time often forgets to give us the opportunity to prepare for. I am not sure I could have dealt with these feelings as I entered chemotherapy. Often we are blessed with a delay in the full awareness of the gravity of our experiences until we have the strength to process and embrace it. To me, that is yet another evidence of the tender mercies that are a part of being a child of a loving Father in Heaven. And when we come face to face with the tragedy we have experienced, He is there with His eternal promise of peace and comfort. Truly, He has never left me comfortless when I have prayed for His peace to remove the sadness, fear and anxiety that on occasion, nipped at my heels with every step I took. So, as I shed a tear or two, I reflect back to the words of one of my favorite songs that I shared early in my blog....'my tears are not a surrender....but for now, just let me cry.' My own tears are not a surrender...they are the means by which my heart will heal from the losses I have experienced these last six months. It would be foolish to sacrifice so much so that my body can heal and avoid the tears that will heal my heart. So for now...."Just let me cry. I know its hard to see but the pain I feel isn't going away today. So just let me cry, til all my tears have fallen. Don't ask why and don't ask how.  Just let me cry."

Gratitude and love always...Cyndi

Friday, May 27, 2011

Now that the worst of chemo is over, my thoughts have turned to 'living' again.  Mostly, I find my mind wandering back to what life was like before I was diagnosed and what it meant to be diagnosed with cancer.

Prior to my diagnosis, I was in a dark place.  Life had taken its toll on me and without realizing it, I had let hope for a brighter future slip from my grasp.  My heart was slowly giving up and letting the light of hope dim.  I was able to hide it from others but my family knew it and felt helpless to help me. I had held fast to hope as it pertained to others but at the end of the day, I would slip into the numbness of hopelessness for change to ever occur in my own life.  A devastating divorce six years prior had cast a spell of disillusionment around my heart. The initial years of loneliness had caused me to pray for the silence of the need for love.  Professionally, disappointment and false starts had earmarked all my efforts to succeed.  Some of my children continued to struggle with poor choices as they ran from the heartaches in their own life.  The others were bearing the heartache from their own disappointments and heartaches. My prayers often echoed the words from one of my favorite songs as I questioned how heaven could remain silent when I was out of words. 

I had found the lump in my breast late summer.  From the moment I found it, I knew I had cancer.  I remember laying in bed that night saying my prayers with a sense of bitterness as memories of the battles I had fought most of my adult life flooded my thoughts. I cried thinking that my life would end without the promised blessings of love, success, and happiness becoming a reality.  I didn't have health insurance which in my mind, meant that I would never recover financially.  Without even thinking about it, the lump became the private fear that completed my plunge into hopelessness.  It wasn't until December that I found the courage to begin the process of validating my initial awareness that I had cancer. My physician, Dr. Tom Matthews, is a personal friend and spiritual leader who has been with me as I have experienced some of the greatest disappointments and heartaches of my life.  With tears in his eyes, he told me I had cancer.  With tears in my eyes I looked at him and all I could say was a broken "Wow...I just can't get a break can I?"  I will never forget the compassion in his eyes as he shared my sorrow. Katie was with me and neither one of us knew what to say as we walked to our cars. I sat in my car as Katie drove away, not knowing what to feel.   Slowly, tears slipped from the broken places in my heart as I allowed them to escape down my face.  As I sat there, I heard a voice as clear as if someone was sitting there with me say.."Cyndi, you did not get cancer to die, you got cancer to live."  I can honestly say that in that very moment, fear left the equation my diagnosis had established and my heart felt light.  And I can add to that honesty that it has not returned.  I've cried tears of fatigue, discomfort...and tears of joy but hope has burned bright.  I credit that to a Heavenly Father who loves me and surrounded me with spiritual and temporal angels.  I humbly acknowledge that the goodness of others have held me up when I wanted to fall and sustained me when I doubted my ability to continue in the process.  Truly, I have been surrounded by the goodness of family, friends, and strangers who kindly kept the light of hope glowing.  On the times when it was merely a flicker, there was always someone there to gently blow on that flicker until the glow was renewed.  As a result, in the midst of these past difficult months, I was able to emerge from the darkness that had previously taunted me.  For that I am eternally grateful.

I've learned that fear is the beginning of hopelessness.  Fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of life, fear of love, fear of success and countless other fears that life exudes, are all the catalyst to an absence of the hope we need to secure our hearts desires.  On the eve of my last chemo treatment, fear taunted me with the possibility of being susceptible to a recurrence of cancer without the treatments.  And I cried...tears of uncertainty for what my future might bring.  I realized that in the presence of fear, I had no faith to maintain the hope that had sustained me during the long winter months.  I made a personal commitment that I was not going to live my life in fear.  Most likely, I will one day die from cancer.  In the meantime, be it a year or thirty years, I choose to live.  I realized that if I am entertaining fear, I can't live with hope.  I can only exist.  And I have wonderful children and grandchildren who adore me, friends who love me, and family who sustain me.  And I never want to go back to the darkness that was consuming me.  I believe in that quiet voice that spoke above my tears and the fear associated with my diagnosis.  I believe in the source from which that message came and in the love that accompanied it.  I trust in those comforting words...

"Cyndi, you did not get cancer to die, you got cancer to live."

Gratitude and love always...


On Tuesday, I will have surgery to remove the port through which my treatments were delivered.  It has been painful and appears to have embedded into the vein.  I look forward to the removal.  I will also begin radiation that day which I will have daily for the next 8 weeks.  Onward and upward!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Race for the Cure

On Saturday, the day after chemo, we participated in the Walk for the Cure 5K Race in Salt Lake.  Friends of my sister Amy who walk yearly, sponsored me on their team 'Bookin it for Boobies.'  My daughters and my sisters excitedly joined them and insisted on pushing me in a wheelchair.  I was apprehensive at best, unsure of how I would be feeling.  How grateful I am that they encouraged me to come.  I was tired, a little out of it but so humbled by the experience.  As we walked the distance, we were surrounded by over 16,000 other walkers who walke for a variety of reasons.  Some to support the cure, some as survivors, many to honor a loved one who had lost their battle with breast cancer.  Irrespective of the reason for their attendance, there was a comradary and sense of unity that I have never experienced before.  The majority of us were strangers to one another but for this cause, the barriers that might have otherwise separated us merged into a wall of compassion and service.  As I looked forward, all I could see was a wave of white and pink t-shirts representing a committment to humanity.  Behind us...the same.  As the race ended, the survivors were positioned to walk together in order of their years battling and surviving the disease.  As I took my place among the newly diagnosed, I was overhwelmed with a sense of sisterhood and strength.  The sight was incredible but what it represented was a committment to the hope that allows us to continue to fight when our strength was gone.  It was only fitting that as we lined to stairs that we were surrounded by those who had walked with us.  Those who selflessly gave of their time and resources to show an outward gift of support and courage to those who were living with this disease.  At the end of the tribute, white doves were released into the air symbolizing the hope that was inspired in each of us that day. I felt honored to be among these great people whose lives had been touched in some way by the tragedy of breast cancer and yet had rose above their fears of the uncertainty of life and 'walked' to make a difference.  I am so grateful that because of my diagnosis of cancer, my eyes and my heart have been opened to the many, many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others.  This experience has added dimensions of service and compassion to my life and to the lives of my family that have changed our hearts forever.  A special thank you to my daughters Katie, Angie, and Amy, my sweet friend Aubrey, my sisters Linda, Amy, and Donna for supporting me and making it possible for me to be a part of this event.  There was laughter (silly t-shirts) love, and a spirit of sisterhood that is forever imprinted in my heart from that special day.  How grateful I am... 
 How funny were our t-shirts?
Baby Sophie walking for gramma!
 Newly Diagnosed

 Love my girls....!
 16,000 total...
 Sister of my heart....Becky

 Donna and Linda
 Who cares what we're wearing!  Support from a stranger!
Gratitude and love always....Cyndi

Below is a link to the song that was played in tribute to the survivors at the race.  There are some images that are real, that represent some of the harsher realities of breast cancer.  Most of the images are of hope and love and support.  I hope that this is the message you will glean from it.  I apologize ahead of time if any of you find them offensive.  The video included carries a power of the realities that were represented by those who supported and walked today.  It is a song sung by Melissa Ethredge entitled 'I Run for You.'  I loved it...Cyndi

Last Chemo Tx!

 My last chemo treatment was definitely a celebration.  I was surrounded by the people who have loved and supported me and whom I consider in every sense of the word to be my family.  My parents, Katie, Angie, Steve, Sophie, Amy, Mitch, Amy, Carissa, Nate, Derrick, Joe, Tammy, Brylee were all there to cheer me on and celebrate the end of this part of the road with me.  Amy brought flowers and chocolate strawberries, Brylee gave me a pink toy, mom brought doughnuts and there was enough joy to share with everyone there that day.  It feels like a blur to me but I do remember a lot of the usual Tangren teasing, laughter, love and support that has made me who I am.  There is no question that without the love and support of such wonderful friends and am family, I would not have been able to endure this with the positive, hopeful attitude that has been with me.  A special thank you to those who took of their time to stop in with a hug and a congrats on this final day of chemo!

Gratitude and love always...Cyndi