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, 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

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Final Chemo!

Tomorrow I will complete my last  round of chemo.  My last treatment left me physically and emotionally tired...dragging to make it through the responsibilities of each day.  Tomorrow comes with mixed emotions.  One one hand, I am grateful to be able to put this part of my cancer journey behind regain strength and the spunk that makes me who I am.  Now, my thoughts turn to living with the knowledge that I am susceptible to a recurrence in the years to come.  That thought ignites some fear...the fear that occupied a place in my heart before cancer rescued me and restored hope into my life.  Funny thought isn't it?  That cancer restored a hope for my own personal life that had been lacking? 

I have learned that irrespective of the hope that we have for the challenges others face, if we are lacking our can feel empty and lonely.  No matter how much good one may be surrounded by, without hope, the experiences lack the lustre that love and goodness should and can add to our earthly experience.  I am grateful for the hope that has lit the way for me during these long winter months.  Hope that came in the form of service and sacrifice of others.  I can honestly say that without it, I would be in a different place than I am right now. I have been blessed in ways that I could never articulate and not once have I doubted the source from which those blessings came.  It is so true that God uses each of his children to do His work on this earth.  Any disappointment that I may have experienced has been compensated for by the charity of others...often times strangers.  Never underestimate your ability to make a difference in the lives of others.  Just knowing that someone "sees you" can make an unbearable day tolerable.

I am committed to living life again, to sharing the lessons that I have learned and to live life to the fullest and trust that someone wiser than I has a plan for me.  I am hoping that plan is cancer free but if it is not, I have been blessed by the goodness of others to know that I can and will have the strength I need to face anything placed in my path.  I don't want to live my life under the shadows of what might happen or what could happen.  I am grateful to those who have moved past their own pain and allowed their lives to strengthen and support me as I have faced this difficult time.  I hope that in doing so, your lives have been blessed as well.  That has been my prayer.  More than anything, I pray that you will know of the eternal gratitude I feel.

I haven't written much these last few weeks.  I have been emotionally and physically spent with little left to offer at the end of the day.  I am grateful that those days are coming to an end and hopeful that radiation will a smoother ride. 

Gratitude and love always...Cyndi