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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Anything for a Friend..February 15, 2011

From our initial, first planning meeting, Becky told us that this would be a life altering experience to plan and be part of an Anything for a Friend event. It hasn't taken much to understand why. At every meeting, there is such an atmosphere of love and unity present. For me, it is mingled with humility as I realize that the hard work and effort that those who love me will expend on my behalf. The evening is mingled with laughter, enthusiam, and tears. As a whole, it is heartwarming to experience the goodness of others. I am especially touched by the many friends of Katie's, most of which have small children, have thrown themselves into the opportunity. I am so grateful to have been chosen as a recipient. Already, my heart has become more grateful which has in turn, made me more aware of the goodness in the world around me and heightened my own desire to be more giving and caring to those around me. Truly, the goodness of this organization has opened my heart and heightened my ability to love and serve. A special thank you for my new friends, Becky, Justin, and Kari for being such wonderful supporters and friends. Thank you to my sisters, children, and friends-old and new for being a part of this experience with me. I love you each dearly and am grateful to you for your example. Love and gratitude always..Cyndi

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Week at a Glance..

I've had a cold all week which has robbed me of one of my 'good weeks.' It is amazing how I have come to value a 'good day.' They have not been as plentiful following this last treatment but I am grateful for the things I have been able to enjoy. Most days it has taken all my energy just to work a few hours. After that, I am spent. What I am most grateful for right now is the time I have with family. Naps with Brylie, cuddles, hanging out, and visits from my little guys known to others as Jaxon, Emory, Bowen, Avory, Alex, Ty, Brylie, and Sophia!
Angie and Steve surprised me with a late birthday present...the infamous, much debated about 'should I get a tv for my bedroom' gift. I haven't slept in my bedroom since I was diagnosed with cancer. Something about the quiet, no distraction from my thoughts, lonely kind of place that it became after I was diagnosed. So, with instructions from Angie that "now you can sleep in your bed," I have a new television. They spent a couple of nights with me and I loved every minute of it. Angie and I crocheted, Angie cleaned, Brylie and I watched "shows", and Steve, bless his heart, spent 5 solid hours trying to link all my electronics with a universal remote control. It was a great couple of nights and when they left, my spirits were lifted and I felt emotionally stronger and ready to face the week.

Brylie is like my kindred spirit. Words could not begin to describe the special bond I have with her. Probably because she loves me so much as well. She picked up a braclet that had words on it and informed me..."this bracelet says I love my gramma Cyndi and she is not going to let cancer make her die." I'm not sure if she knew what she was saying but I did...and she is right, I am not going to let this cancer make me die. I adore her.

Mandi and her little gang came over and we made sugar cookies. We went through 5 bottles of sprinkles and came away with a dozen, very large cookies. Titus had more fun playing with the rolling pin than actually using it! The afternoon came to a close with Alex and Avory trying on and modeling all of my hats. Ty had to get in on the fun as well!

Truly, it has become the simple things in life that keep my heart smiling and most of those smiles come from my grandchildren. With them, I can be as much or as little as I have the strength or stamina to be and they love me just the same. Sometimes, at the end of it all...that is what I need the most. How grateful I am for each of them and the unique way that they have individually and collectively cemented their places in my heart. Life changes without warning but this is the one constant that I have in my family.

One of the favorite things I have always done with Jaxon, Emory, and Bowen is what we call "McDonald Shop." When their favorite toys arrive at McDonalds, we go from one McDonald to the next until we find them all. Gramma's can do that you know! While we didn't actually go 'shop' we did go to McDonalds and spend a little time together.

This is Emory's 'cancer hat'. Isn't she darling?

I don't think I was prepared for the loss of energy and stamina that accompanied my last chemo treatment. The past two weeks, I have left work wondering if I could make it home I felt so tired. I am grateful for a profession that allows me to be flexible and set my own hours so that I can continue to work and be mindful of my limitations. Nonetheless, I can't at times help but miss the old me. The one who could do just about anything she set her mind to. When there is no energy left for the things I used to enjoy doing, I have to remind myself that what I am doing right now, right this minute, is all that I can do and that for is enough. I hope that I will remember that as my health returns. So often, we become bogged down by all the things we or others think we should do and feel that our efforts are not enough unless we are doing more, and more, and more. The reality is that sometimes, our best is just to simply show up. And if that is all we can do that day, we have done enough. We need to all give ourselves permission to be okay with that, knowing that each day will bring new energy, new determination, and new commitment to do better. This experience has taught me that life is about change; some changes come in big packages, others smaller and less conspicuous. No matter how it is packaged, if we cannot give ourselves permission to adapt to our daily personal bests, we lose precious opportunities to know ourselves better and hence, make meaningful changes. I am grateful to be learning that.
Tonight I feel grateful. Grateful for the fun friends who weekly come to keep me company. I love that I have friends who love to come sleep on the other couch while I sleep in the recliner just to be there while I am sick. To Doreen and fun are we!! Grateful for text messages wishing me well. Grateful for meals cooked by loving hands for Amy and I to enjoy. Grateful for friends who stay and eat with me. Grateful for family members who call me daily and pray for me constantly. Grateful for adoring children and darling grandchildren. Grateful for little gifts of love left on my porch. Grateful for kind strangers. Grateful for distant friends who have bridged the gap of time and renewed friendship. Grateful for new friends who have previously traveled this path and daily remind me that I will survive. Grateful for friends who know my heart and trust my intent. Grateful for the sacrifices of others. Grateful for friends who are willing to cry with me, laugh with me, and face the pain of this experience with me and my children. Grateful for the friends of my daughters who support them and love them. Most of all.. grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who never leaves me comfortless.

Love and gratitude always...Cyndi

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Storms of life...

This has been a long, hard week but today, I feel like I am finally starting to resurface. Having the shots on a daily basis has kept me aching, tired, emotional and overwhelmed with the whole process. Today was my first day without a shot and already, I feel all my 'good stuff' resurfacing. It only reaffirms my belief in the simple concept of holding on. That takes work; this process of holding on. It is a mental and emotional battle against the discouraging, hopeless thoughts and feelings that the adversary reminds us of. Truly, it is about remembering what we have known during brighter times. And being patient with ourselves as we do so.

I am reminded of a talk given by Elder Holland that I was privileged to hear during one such dark time. During this particular talk, he took a different approach than usual and personalized it to every person in the congregation. He shared tender thoughts and musings he had had the night before as he thought of those who would be in attendance. He spoke of the heartaches we individually experience as we travel our journey throughout life. His voice was tender as he spoke of mothers longing for their arms to reach their wayward children, spouses aching for their partners who has passed away, and the cries for young lives lost too early. He spoke of the quiet burdens we must carry alone which create a sense of loneliness and despair..even among the presence of loved ones. The scenarios were likened to being cast about on raging waters as waves crash into the vessel that is carrying us through the storm. Oh, the fear and trepidation that sets upon us as we wonder if we will survive the storm! Elder Holland posed a very viable, powerful question that has stayed with me over the months. He likened the boat in which we are traveling as the gospel of Jesus Christ. For me, that is the same as 'remembering'. It is the love and hope of the Savior's love that will ultimately not only guide us through the storm but sustain us through the those dark hours when the waves are crashing. So the question asked was this: "Why, when the storm is raging around us and we are in peril of drowning in the darkness of the sea, would we leave the safety of the boat that is our only and last hope of surviving?" Death is certain if we jump ship...we become consumed in the ravaging waters that respect no person. Despite the darkness surrounding us, there is hope and light to be found in the safety of the arms of One who has promised to never leave us alone in our storms. I believe that because I have experienced it. So, though I am guilty of giving into the tears of discouragement or despair, it is always just temporary because somehow, I have always remained inside the boat. I have stood out the edge with my life jacket on, one foot outside the egdge but always, something stronger than me has kept me from jumping out into the darkness, As a result, I have an unpenetrable hope that reminds me that every storm passes and that all a loving Father in Heaven asks of me is that I stay in the boat. There are no right or wrong way..some are quite unpleasant and sometimes, I have surfaced with a mouthful of water choking me but nonetheless, the security of the boat is found surrounding me on all sides when the storm subsides.

It is the arms of love and service, both past and present, that have fortified and strengthened my ability to withstand the waves crashing around me. We do not weather storms alone, even if we are sailing solo. Within us we carry the strength and courage of those who have loved and sustained us throughout our lives. All the simple acts of kindness that have passed through us serve as the arms holding us back when everything inside of us wants to jump. At some timer or another, we all want to own feet have been unsteady this week as disparaging thoughts have bullied me when I was physically weakened. Truly, it is the evidence of our Savior's love as extended to us from the goodness of others that hold us safe. Some storms are easier to face than others. Some we can predict while others blindside us leaving us unprepared and frightened. Irrespective, it is through our love and service towards and from others that determines how we are able to weather them. I am grateful for those who have strengthened me to the point that my feet never actually touch the waters that rage around me.

Thursday, I went through the drive through window at Mrs. Cavanaughs to pick up some chocolate strawberries to take to a few friends. I had just come from the hospital and was feeling pretty beat up after my shot. I'm sure it wasn't hard to see I was distressed. The strawberries weren't ready but with the kindest smile, full of an awareness of me, she handed me a chocolate and arranged for me to come back. I share this because it was a simple kindness. The chocolate still sits on my counter top. You see, it wasn't the chocolate or even the kindly invitation to return that kept me inside the boat that morning. It was the compassion in her eyes as she,without a word, shared kindness and love to an otherwise stranger.
Friday, I went to the salon where I have gotten my hair done in the past. I was immediately met with a longing to feel normal look in the mirror and see myself as I have known myself for years. To look like all the other women there. A sweet stylist whom I have never met seemed to notice me and offered to shave off the remaining stubble of my hair, wash my (absence of) hair and massage my scalp. In spite of the fact that it meant I would have to sport my bald head to those around me, I agreed. Ahhhh, never underestimate the healing power in the touch of a hand. Kindness to a stranger...

I know that there are more storms out on the horizon. I will be honest and say that my awareness to them has been heightened this week. I can also be honest and say that I know that at times, I may be found with one foot dangling over the side determined to jump. I am familiar with that position. I wish I was able to just keep my feet planted regardless of how hard the waves may crash but I know myself. Past experiences have made me gun shy of brewing storms and my humanness allows me to succumb to the fatigue and fear. Past experience has also taught me that I am resilient because I have experienced the love of the Savior in those around me. I know what I know and when I 'remember', the fears give way to the hope and faith that I have been blessed with.
We all have storms that rage around us. That is what life is about. It's about learning to successfully maneuver through such storms. It's about becoming stronger and wiser and then taking that strength and wisdom to be the light for someone traveling behind us. It's about recognizing the value that lies within each twist in our lives that will ultimately shape us and create in us a vessel of stamina and courage. Some are evident to those around us but more than not, they are born quietly in the privacy of our own hearts. Tonight, I hope that you will all 'remember' what you know and have known because of the love and kindness' of others who have allowed the storms in their lives to create a guiding light of hope to share. And I hope that you will daily have 'Mrs. Cavanughs' moments that build you up when your foot dangles over the edge. And that it will be your arms that hold another safe when waves are crashing around them. Truly, that is what life is about. This what I know and believe with all my heart because it is true.

Gratitude and love always...Cyndi

My check-in...physically, I am fatigued but growing stronger, emotionally, hope is renewed, spiritually, I am comforted. My commitment is to be a 'Mrs. Cavanaugh" daily, and my affirmation is

I am blessed with the hope and strength I need to reach the shore.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

And so, I rode.

Yesterday was one of those 'just let me cry' days as portrayed in one of my favorite songs by Hilary Weeks. After returning to the doctors office for my third shot and learning that I would have to receive two more, I gave in to the emotions that have been teasing me since my chemo treatment on Friday. Physically, this round of chemo brought no new surprises but emotionally, I have felt the weight of reality tugging me down. The effects of chemo are becoming more evident to me. Finishing one treatment means that the countdown until the next one begins and the sense of dread lingers. The 'unknowns' of cancer are manifesting themselves and I am no longer on the outskirts looking in. The images of those initial patients that startled me that first day of treatment look back at me in the mirror and I am realizing that for now, my body is sick and that the fight is real. I walked out of the hospital crying, not even noticing the sympathetic glances being sent my way. All I could think of was the these words of the song...'when I feel the heartache begin to take me under, I dig my heels in deep and I fight to keep my ground. But still at times the hurt inside grows stronger and there's nothing I can do but let it just let me cry, I know it's hard to see, but the pain I feel isn't going away today so just let me cry til all the tears have fallen. Don't ask when, and don't ask why. Just let me cry.' I was tired of 'digging my heels' so that others would not see my pain. I have held so much in for so many reasons and so many people and the dam broke. Finally...

I realized that I needed to cry. I needed to cry while the nurse gave me yet another shot that I knew would cause the aching in my bones to start again. I needed to cry as I walked to my car. I needed to cry as I sat at stop lights no matter who might be looking at me sitting there with my pale complexion and bald head. I just needed to cry. So I did..I cried the loud, hard tears that I had been avoiding and hiding from the love of others. And I didn't care if anyone saw me. I'm a mom and mom's are strong-even if it is only for their children, they are strong. And I am strong.
I just wasn't at that moment..

The blessing of the day was that it was a beautiful day...the sun was shining and the warmth of the air camoflagued the fact that it was indeed still winter. Wanting to feel the rays of sun while I had my cry, I opted to drive rather than go home. So, with my sun roof open, I drove. This fall, someone broke into my garage and stole both my bikes, one of which was very expensive. I have been thinking a lot about my bike and all the lessons I learned as I rode. In years past, I was pretty involved in biking. It was the catalyst by which I dealt with the anxiety associated with some of the trials i was facing and I loved it. One of my favorite places to ride is up in Morgan so I drove there and took the route with my car that I have in the past loved taking on my bike. So many memories with friends, with the blessings of solitude, and the tranquility of silence came to me as I drove. I remembered how my thighs ached as I struggled to conquer the hills and how I loved the breeze on my face on the way back down. Oh, the conversations I had with myself when I wanted to turn back or stop along the way and oh, the pride I felt when I mastered a hard ride! I so love that time in my life irrespective of the difficulties that were often the motivating factors behind many of the rides I took. Closer to home was the ride to Brigham City. Those memories are etched and defined in my mind as if they happened yesterday. I can still remember the night I first made the whole ride to Brigham. I could barely walk when I stepped of my bike but felt like I was walking on air. That was a huge deal for me. The hills had felt insurmountable the first few times I rode and the burn in my legs had more than once forced me to stop in the middle of the climb. Nonetheless, something inside kept me pushing. As I drove, I longed to once again feel the internal drive that had ultimately turned me into a good rider. 'One day' took turns with all the other emotions competing for my attention. As I turned for home, I was reminded of a scrapbook writing I had done years before about my expeirence with bike riding. Knowing it would remind me of the lessons I learned many years ago, I went to search for it once I got home. At the time I started riding, Chad was at a frightening place in his life where I literally had no control or access route to help him. The anxiety and fear this caused was unbearable. This is what I had written...entitled

'And so I rode'

Two thousand and three-my summer of discovery. From necessity and sheer determination was born a keener insight into life. I came to know who I was in ways I had yet to explore. My anxiety had peaked to dangerously high levels. Depression nipped at my heels and I seemed to barely stay one step ahead of its deadly consumption. I had become lost in the events that were rampaging through my life.

A simple purchase, made with great trepidation, would change my life drastically. I had never ridden a bike and was intimidated by the complication of so many gears, designed to allow my body to master the spin of the wheels. Initially, my insecurity forced my focus on teh hazards around me. As my confidence grew, my mind became free to explore the demons fueling my depression and anxiety. And so, I rode.

The harder the ride, the freer I was to think and process my emotions. Life became synonymous with the skills required to master the hills and conquer the distance of the ride. With every spin, I learned to overcome the fear of things that were out of my control. Letting go was easy when time was available to completely feel and examine the circumstances of their origin. Anxiety served as the fuel my body needed to successfully complete the ride. And so, I rode.

My legs became strong as I pushed my muscles to work harder and harder going up the hills. My endurance increased as the miles passed by. Strength was born from the determination to succeed. The breeze on my face invigorated me; the cool drink of water refreshed me; and the road invited me to keep moving forward. As my body became toned, my mind flowed in tune with the emotions I resisted facing. The more I rode, the more life made sense to me. And so, I rode.

I discovered that the power to overcome and moved forward is within each of us. We are given the strength we need when we endure and continue in hope. There is no need for perfection. Growth comes in its absence and in our quest to achieve it. Letting go opens our eyes and our hearts to the goodness surrounding us. When life becomes unbearabale, stop and rest - have a cold drink of water and begin again. Pacing oneslef provides the guarantee that you can and will complete the journey. Weakness serves the purpose of building strength. Perspective determines fairness . Peace can be found.

And so I rode.

Cyndi, Spring, 2003.

I've had to go in daily all week for the shots that stimulate the bones to produce the white blood cells destroyed by the chemo treatments. My last one is tomorrow. The shots are painful and the end result is aching in my bones that compete to throb the most in the most unexpected places. And it leaves me exhausted. My emotions have been on my sleeve this week. Tears come easy with little provocation and most of my emotional energy has been spent just 'remembering' what I know and what I believe about the purpose behind this journey. Last night, even though Amy was home, I allowed myself to have yet another good cry. Amy laid by with her arms around me. She always thinks she doesn't know what to do or say. She does and she did. That's what I love about her. She keeps things simple and in perspective. And my heart was quiet and my tears dried when she went to bed.

Throughout my house I have the word 'Remember' in carefully selected places. That's what I do during times like this (that I knew would come) when everything seems overwhelming and too much to bear. I remember what I know-even if at the moment, I don't feel it. I know what I know and it is the strength that I hold on to when my strength dissolves into fear an despair. I have been promised and I beleive that every prayer that I cry in the night is heard and answered with the utmost love and care. I have felt the arms of love around me as I have laid awake on sleepless nights wondering why I must do this alone, without a companion. I beleive that there is a greater purpose in this experience than I am able to see within the range of my human vision. I know that no matter how lonely a moment may capture me, I never cry alone-that a loving Father in heaven sits quietly by my side, counting my every tear. I beleive in the power of the sacrifice made by my Savior and hold fast to the knowledge that He knows; without explanation or words... He knows.

So..for now, I will simply...'remember' what I I rode.

Gratitude and love always...Cyndi

Monday, February 14, 2011


Just a reminder for all those of you who have offered to help with my mom's fundraiser. We will be holding a meeting tomorrow night at 6:30 PM at my house in Farr West. If you would like to help, please come. It's hard to explain how awesome this thing is in an email:). Thank you in advance for all your help.

Call or email me for directions

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Turn

Well, I am not the best blogger so bear with me if i babble :)

All i can say is i have the BEST mom. She is the strongest woman i know. She has been through so much and stil stands tall. I love my mom. I look up to her in more ways than she will EVER know. Everything she has taught me, she has been right about. She has been there for me through everything. I hate more than anything in the world that she has to go through this. She doesn't deserve any of it. Her whole life she has worked hard for everyone else and has put others first.
I need to be more like her. :) I havent been to any of her appointments and i need to be there i need to be there her more, i hope mom that you know that i think about you every day and even if i am not there for you like i should be i really am.
I love you mom and am so so proud of you. You are strong and i strive to be like you more.
Sweet dreams, tomorrow is a new day!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Seeds of Growth

I work with wonderful people. Daily, I learn lessons of life from them. It was one such lesson that my thoughts have dwelt on lately. With permission, I share the thoughts that have evolved from one of our conversations and the analogy that was drawn. We spoke of the journey that a simple seed takes before it finally arrives at the beauty that brightens the world and spreads joy to the recipients of its' flowering splendor. First, the seed is buried alive under the soil that will ultimately provide the nutrients needed to nourish plant. Then the seed is drowned in the water necessary for growth. Finally, the seed is sorched by the sun until it swells and bursts. Then and only then is the plant conditioned enough to produce the bloom that brightens the garden into which it was planted.

What a wonderful analogy from which to view the trials and difficulties we face in life. Truly, my life right now is that of that simple seed. At times, I feel buried under the emotional toll that I experience as my body undergoes changes. While I know that who I am remains the same, the physical changes have caused me to dig deep below the insecurities that keep me from growing and reaching for my full potential. The process of doing so brings the tears that fall as I search to find the courage to face the challenges that lie before me and as I reach to see myself beyond the worldy messages and see myself through the eyes of my creator. As I am forced to move closer to the hope that will give my experiences meaning to myself and others, I find myself reaching towards the Son..the only one who has the healing power to finally, allow me to see the beauty that lies within. Through this refining process, my heart is full and my awareness to the beauty of others has bloomed and fostered gratitude and love to those around me.

I have learned that this is the case with the trials we face. No matter how dark the night may be..the dawn always follows and with it, the warmth of light to strengthen us and guide through the day. I also know that the trials we experience are tender mercies in and of themselves. It is through the heartaches and disappointments in life the that we are led to the parts of within us that are broken and need to be healed. Often, it is in those broken places that we find the roadblocks that prevent us from reaching our full potential. More importantly, it is when we are in our broken places that we find ourselves reaching upward to the One who has the light that will always us not only to bloom, but to continue blooming and blessing the lives of those around us. As a result, we become more like Him in our ability to love and serve others.

Friday, I will receive my second dose of chemotherapy. It would be dishonest to suggest that I am not fighting a nagging sense of dread for the effects that I now know will follow. There is still that element of the unknown that taunts me. So tonight, I am tightening my grip on the lessons that life has taught me about strength and resilience and faith. And I am holding onto the hope that when it is all said and done...I will bloom.

Gratitude and love always...Cyndi

Week at a glance..

The American Cancer Society graciously sponsors a workshop which provides tips and makeup to promote "Feeling Good" during cancer. The best part of the workshop was that Amy went with me!

The week leading up to my next treatment was filled
with kindnesses that made the anxiety tolerable. This note arrived in the mail with a new hat from my sister Linda.

The beaten up, weathered bench that sits outside my front door has been the recipient of more gifts, flowers, goodies, and love than one heart can hold. Many, many a night as I have come home with the heaviness of fatigue or uncertainty weighing me down this little bench has held messages of love and hope to lift my load. This week was no exception.
The night before Chemo, my girls decided to have a
sleepover at my house. This has to be one of my
favorite pictures...the "tickle train." No one loves having their backs tickled like my children. They sit in front of each other, and tickle each other's back. Then they rotate. Any anxiety
I was feeling dissapated in their giggles and laughter.

This chemo treatment found me surrounded by Katie, Travis, Angie, Sophia, and Amy. I know this isn't an easy thing for my children to watch. It isn't an easy thing for me to watch them watching me however, their courage and love resonates throughout the process. Travis was greeted by baby Sophie with a unwelcome surprise...Katie the baby hog...and Sophie with a tummy feeling much better after emptying her contents onto Travis!
Angie made it a point to greet and learn the stories of other patients as she shared the joy only a baby can bring. This included my nurse...who the girls curiously eye the absence of a wedding ring on his finger...just in case! Seriously! (kinda cute though!)

I know that this was a lot for Amy to take in. She was brave, and she held tight to the tears she refuses to shed. No matter how old she gets, she is still my baby and there are certain emotions that are unique to that title. I am proud of her..she makes me laugh when I can't find anything to smile about. I adore her.

Sunday was Katie's birthday...a day that she has shared with my father for the last 30 years. It was hard to not feel well enough to cook her birthday meal for her. It's one of those 'mommy things!' It's also one of those many things we daily place in the family box entitled "It's not a big deal." Katie is a big deal..she is my big deal and to walk into her home and see her wearing her cute little apron serving her own birthday dinner was heartwarming. And of course, I couldn't leave this picture of Mitch out...cheesy boi!

Happy Birthday Katie and Grandpa!