Tag Archive | cancer

Four score and seven years ago…

Well, maybe not quite that long….

More like 15 years to be exact.

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve graduated high school.  And my 15 year reunion crept on me with all kinds of crazy quickness.

I know, I know.  You’re surprised by that…. Like, “How could Megan really be old enough to be 15 years outta high school?!”  😉

I must admit that I was quite apprehensive about going. Quite honestly, I didn’t much want to go at all. (No offense to any of my classmates.) My reasons being: 1. Not married & no kids 2. Not even in a relationship 3. Not exactly where I thought I’d be professionally. 4. I don’t look much like I did back then. Ya, I know… not the best reasons at all, but that’s what I was feeling about 3 months ago.

While I am personally OK with all of the above, answering the questions of who, what, when, where & why of all that stuff was not really something I wanted to spend the night doing. I am at a MUCH different place now than I was when we initiated talks of the reunion & not to mention the difference between where I am now & where I thought I’d be when I was just outta high school.

But here’s the thing I had to keep reminding myself of (with the help of a couple of friends) … life happens. How could I have possibly known at age 17 what my life was going to turn out like?  Hell, I still don’t know where I’m going & what I’m meant to do at 33… you know what I mean?

The kicker of the whole thing is that as I sat here trying to come up with excuses as to why I shouldn’t go or why I didn’t want to go, I KNEW I NEEDED TO GO. I was one of the people PLANNING THE REUNION.  I needed to swallow the big girl pill, suck it up and catch up with old friends.  I needed to look on the sunny-side and just be me.  So what if I’m not married.  So what if I don’t have kids.  So what if I am working in a field outside of my “chosen” field.  Who cares if I’ve put on some weight since I was 17 years old.  I mean, seriously?!?  Those were my reasons!

"Fizzle Awards" - Me on the left

Why the heck was I worrying and fretting?!?!?  I was even voted “Most Changed” during our senior year when the “fizzle awards” came out…  (Still not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing! 😉  )

A LOT changes in 15 years.  I think I should have been more concerned if I HADN’T changed at all in the last 15 years….

It all started when one of my good friends and fellow classmates and I started talking about planning a reunion about a year and a half ago and somehow the time flew and the reunion is over and done with as of last weekend.

After generating some ideas & doing some preliminary leg work to find a venue a year ago, I just kind of sat back & let time tick away.  Before we knew it the reunion was here and lots needed to be done. Carrie took on invitations, pricing, RSVP’s and such, while I was making the donation box and putting together the slide show.  The other Megan was in charge of the cake and Bethany took to getting pricing for near by hotels and name tags.  Couldn’t have asked for a better group of gals to work with. 🙂

Sooooooooooooo….. here’s the jest of the story.

I had fun…

… it was a really good time.

AND it wasn’t that difficult at all.

Everything came together beautifully. Those who helped plan were phenomenal. Catching up with old friends & acquaintances was great.

Somethings never change while so much has changed for us all.

Those that didn’t make it were truly missed.  Hopefully we’ll have more classmates be able to attend the next one.  20 out of 82 isn’t too bad I suppose considering we’re spread out all over the place doing all sorts of things.

We remembered one classmate who was there with us in spirit and collected donations in her honor and memory for her charity, the Kristy Lasch Miracle Foundation.

“Before she died, Kristy envisioned creating an organization to help younger breast cancer patients. She knew too well how financially cumbersome the disease could become, and the unique challenges of having the disease at such a young age. The Kristy Lasch Miracle Foundation was created in her memory, and honors her dream.”  -Excerpted from kristylasch.org.

She was a classmate to us all, a friend to many and a spirit that couldn’t be shaken.  To read more about her story or to make a donation to the foundation, please visit www.kristylasch.org.  Every little bit helps!

THANKS to all who came and to those that helped.  Hope to see more at the 20th!

Relay for Life: Honor & Remember; Love & Belonging

official logo of the American Cancer Society R...

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Today I’ll be spending much of my time at the local Relay for Life stretching long into the night…

Remembering those I have lost to the ugly and scary reality that is cancer.

Honoring those that have fought the good fight and prevailed over the ugly monster.

It’s a bitter-sweet celebration for me…

As I remember my step-dad, 2 uncles, and 3 friends who lost their battle…  I honor an uncle, 2 aunts and 1 friend who are alive and survived.  (You can read a little about some of these lovely people here.)  To read a little more about remembrance, learning and growth check out my post Time + Healing = Acceptance.

Take not one moment in this life for granted.

Tell those you love, you love them often.

Remind those you appreciate, you cherish them often.

Relish in each breath you breathe on this beautiful Earth.

So I leave you with two songs… One a cover of “In My Life” by Dave Matthews and the second, “Fix You” by Coldplay.

In My Life is pretty self-explanatory… it helps me to honor and remember those in my life both in the now and those who are no longer walking alongside me.  I’ve posted this song here several times, but it’s just one that I can’t live without.

The first time I heard Fix You, was at the Relay for Life in 2009 during the remembrance lap.  Completely moving and emotional moment that will forever be etched in my mind.

For any one that has fought and lost their battle to cancer… you are remembered.

For those who are survivors… warriors against the beat… I honor you.

How has cancer affected your life?  Have you lost someone close to you?  Survivor stories?

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A Book and It’s Influence

Trouble Finding the Words

A Book and It’s Influence…

The Last Lecture, a book that Pausch and Jeff ...

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“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
—Randy Pausch

 

I haven’t been utilizing the topic suggestions for the Post a Day/Post a Week

campaign, however I thought I’d give it a shot today.

I actually touched upon it in “My Releases…” that I posted the other day…

Today’s topic… #68 Name a book that changed your life.

Book:  The Last Lecture

Author:  Randy Pausch

This book was an amazing read.  Can’t put it any more simply than that. 

Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at CMU who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He thought out of the box…the sky was the limits to him as well as his students…

He was asked to give a speech in what was once known as the Last Lecture series at the University.  The speech would be given in front of colleagues, friends and family, about 400 to be exact.

His lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” made the media and made it big… he was featured on Oprah and I believe he was also featured on Primetime.  I heard rumblings about his lecture and have to admit that curiosity got the best of me, so I googled “The Last Lecture.”   

If you haven’t yet done so, you must watch the video… have a pen and paper near by  along with some tissues….if you’re anything like me, you’ll be trying to write down bits and pieces; the tissues are a must have for the ending.

His passion, humor and humility are inspiring.

 

Ok… so this leads me to the book that was then created. 

The book went above and beyond the bits and pieces of his childhood goals detailing his view of the world. 

His passion, energy and messages spoke to me.  His love for life…his love for his family…his love for what he did inspired me; The words in his book changed me…

Not in a way that I am no longer recognizable to those around me… not in a way that I no longer live my life as I had before…

His book and lecture changed my outlook on life… I decided I wanted to be a Tigger versus an Eeyore.  No easy task to live up to everyday, but because of Randy Pausch I at least try.

The words in his book as in his lecture are reminders for me to live my life fully…live it earnestly…

 I am a HUGE lover of words… individual words; quotes; prayers; poems; little tidbits of knowledge give from others… 

The walls of my home are filled with them… I view them as words to live by. Little tidbits of wisdom from various people and sources that influence me on a daily basis. 

There are a TON of amazing quotes and tidbits to be gained from The Last Lecture…

His words and message are carried on by many all over the world now.  Although he left this world much too soon leaving behind his wife and beautiful children as well as many amazing family and friends, his legacy and love for life will be carried on for many, many years. 

Here are a few quote from his lecture than rank high on my list and are held close since being first being “introduced” to Randy Pausch.

“…The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something….”

“…Did you figure out the head fake? It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you….”

“…Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you….”

“…The best way to teach somebody something is to have them think they’re learning something else…”

Are you living your life as an Eeyore or a Tigger?

Are you living your life earnestly?

What were your childhood dreams? Did you achieve any of them?

Time + Healing = Acceptance

6 years ago today my family was rocked by the death of a key member.  My step dad lost his battle to colon cancer.  He was taken away much too early for any of our liking, but not soon enough for the suffering he endured.  He fought hard and selflessly, stating that even if the experimental treatments wouldn’t help him, at least they’d help someone else.  His actions and words ring loudly in my mind today.

As I sit here and look back to that exact day… at the exact moments of where we were 6 years ago to the day, almost to the minute of when we had to let go and say good-bye, I find myself oddly content and accepting of his absence. 

TIME

Time is a crazy phenomenon.  It has the ability to fly by so quickly that you don’t even realize just how much has gone by while at the same time stopping in a mere heartbeat and seeming to freeze indefinitely.  The saying “Time heals all things”  couldn’t speak more truly to me on this day.  While he is not here to witness all that has changed and his absence is NEVER forgotten, knowing that he would be proud of each and every one of us in our words, actions and choices is a comforting thought. 

A LOT has happened in 6 years.  It’s astonishing to think just how much has actually taken place in such a short time span.  His kids are all continuing about in their day-to-day lives, making their mark on the Earth he left behind.  His grandkids are growing up ever so quickly… as they were such little ones in their own respect when he passed, hoping the memories they have of him won’t fade too quickly.  Each having a special bond with pap-pap/grandpa in their own right. 

Marriages, celebrations,  more deaths, stronger family bonds…life does go on.  Time pushes you forward without you even realizing it. Time helps to heal the wounds left open from his passing.  Not to say that the actual loss was made easier, because not a day goes by that he’s not missed, honored or remembered.  Time has helped each of us deal in our own way.  Time has allowed for some of us to grow closer to each other.  Time has allowed for our family to grow exponentially and shape us into the family, the plan,  that God has created for each of us. 

While I look back at the individual I was 6 years ago and the person I am today, I know that Lynn would be proud.  His gentle yet strong words of encouragement will always remain central to who I am.  His patience is something I hope to be able to carry forward.  From chauffeurring me to and from band and working at Kennywood, to teaching me to drive, to dealing with family dynamics, he truly was the most GENTLE MAN.  Even when he could have flipped out at me for wrecking our car within the first few months of me having my license, he didn’t.  Saying only, you need to be more careful.  I was much more insecure in and of myself 6 years ago.  Insecure of my place in this world, my goals, aspirations, my writing, relationships, my place in the family, etc.  Time has helped me to grow, to learn, to change…. Time has helped me to be more accepting.

Acceptance 

6 Years has help me learn to accept all that comes my way in life.  If ever I’ve learned something from Lynn’s passing it is that LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS FAIR.  Seriously, how many times have you thought or said that something is not fair?  I know I’ve said it too many times throughout the course of my life.  I’ve finally come to a point that I am able to ACCEPT that fair is a relatively frivolous word.  What is fair?  What makes something fair?  If you really think about it, not much that happens is truly fair.  Bad things happen to good people ALL THE TIME.  Just as we may feel good things happen to seemingly undeserving people all the time. 

Life is not about being fair.  It’s about the choices you make.  It’s about the mark you leave on the world and the impression you make on those around you.  It’s about doing good for yourself and by others.  It’s about cherishing those closest to you, remembering those who have gone before you and leading the way through positive example for those who come after you.

Accepting that not everything works out as you may have planned for yourself is a great feat.  Accepting that you have the ability to control some aspects of your life while many aspects are not wholly in your control but in the hands of ANOTHER is tougher still.

Time has helped me to accept that it’s not up to us when or how we leave this Earth.  Time has allowed for me to remember and cherish all the good that Lynn brought to my life and my family.  Time has shown me that though he is not physically here in our day-to-day goings on, he is in our hearts so long as we choose to keep him there.  Time has shown me just how strong I can be, and how much I have to offer those around me. 

I accept that Lynn and so many others are in a better place now than they were before they left us.  Leaving behind the pain, suffering and discomfort that illness brought them did mean they left loved ones behind that would mourn, hurt and miss them to unbelievable degrees.  I accept it now… 6 years ago, accepting his absence was unthinkable.  Do I miss him still?  More than you can know, but I accept his absence more willingly now. 

Time + Acceptance = HEALING

   Time has helped me… time heals for some.  For others, it only gets more difficult with time.  Learning to deal in your own manner is the tricky part.  I’m still learning to balance it all.  In time and with acceptance I believe I have come to appreciate his role in my life while he was here on Earth and the role he still plays in my life from above. 

Something that helps… a piece of artwork in my apartment… reading and repeating the words when things get tough and I’m not sure what to do or how to react… THE SERENITY PRAYER

God Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change;

the COURAGE to change the things I can;

and the WISDOM to know the difference.

Simple words, but their significance is paramount in my life.  Knowing when to let go is a tough aspect of life.  Knowing when to let go of the worrying, the insecurities, the regret and the notion of  “FAIR,” are no easy tasks to take hold of. 

The ability to take a step back and acknowledge that YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL alone is HUGE. 

INFLUENCE 

Lynn’s influence on my life can’t really be put in to words… so I’ll try briefly.  He was a strong man in his beliefs and actions.  He spoke poorly of no one and knew EVERYONE.  He was dedicated to his family beyond comparison.  Didn’t know a more hard-working man than he and have yet to meet one since.  His heart of gold and smile could win over just about anyone.. even the toughest of individuals, like my pap.  You knew just how much he loved his kids and grandkids without him even saying a word… just the mention of their names and you could see the pride on his face.  His love for my mom was so amazing… who’d have thought a blind date would have brought them so close.  They completed each other… The smiles of each of their faces was the ONLY “proof”  or “evidence” needed.  Rediscovering his faith in love and family brought him to rediscover his faith as well.  While some didn’t believe it was the “right” faith (what is that any way????), he was happy.  Shortly after, he was diagnosed with cancer.

What I can take from this whole situation and his role in my life….

I’ve learned to be strong.  Have faith in myself and my convictions.  Hold family close and love unconditionally.  It’s NEVER too late to try something new. 

Most importantly , I’ve learned to be ACCEPTING.  Accepting of others, of myself and all that happens in life.  There’s nothing more to it.

ACCEPTANCE

Below is a link to one of my favorite songs of all time… It took on new meaning after having lost Lynn and several others in the last few years.  Don’t take a minute in your life for granted.  Appreciate any and all interactions you have for you never know when it is the last.

Through it all…The Tough Stuff…

As an EXTREMELY busy week is behind me, and the start of a new and INCREDIBLY busy week is here,  I am reminded of all the important things that matter. Importance is a relative matter; I am talking about the good stuff. The good stuff in life that can be taken for granted from time to time without even being acknowledged for its importance until after the fact.

These last 2 weeks I’ve experienced many highs and lows each varying in nature yet the significance of each being most prominent. Continue reading