Monthly Archives: March 2017

Katherine thrives beyond mesothelioma

Editor’s note: Katherine Keys is a guest blogger this week. This is her story.

I have been fighting Mesothelioma for 10 years. When I was first diagnosed, doctors told me I had less than two years to live. I refused to believe my time was limited and instead decided to fight the cancer. I am convinced that it was my positive attitude and determination to win that have allowed me to survive against the odds.

At first I thought I had the flu. I was prescribed medication and painkillers but the pain persisted. When the pain was too much to take, I went to the ER. There I discovered I had cancer. I was 49 years old and diagnosed with Stage 1 pleural mesothelioma.

For treatment, I had my right lung and the lining of the lung removed, a major surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). After several months of recovery, I began radiation treatments. I had treatments five times per week for several months. Although I had been scheduled for chemotherapy, I was relieved to learn that I didn’t have to have them.

Upon completing my treatments, I attended my regularly scheduled follow-up appointments. At first, they were monthly, then every two months, three months, six months…and now annually. My follow-up appointments typically consistent of blood tests, a PET scan, x-rays and other tests to confirm that I am still cancer-free. The doctors and staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, are true miracle workers and I am forever grateful to them.

I was also greatly helped by the patient advocates at MesotheliomaLawyerCenter.org. Not only did they help me obtain financial compensation which helped with my treatments and quality of life, they genuinely cared about my well-being. I am proud to call them my friends and they continue to stand by my side as I fight mesothelioma. Their website is filled with a plethora of comprehensive information surrounding mesothelioma and the trust funds that are available to certain victims.

Today, I feel blessed to be able to spend time with my family and share my story with other people living with mesothelioma. While I have been through a lot and I am still challenged by physical pain and limitations after having a lung removed, I see every day as a gift. I hope my story brings resilience and positivity to people living with mesothelioma.

How to be Fearless

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs 31:25, Christian Bible, New International Version

 

I rarely paid much attention to clothing; I was more interested in developing who I was.

Well, it finally dawned on me about 10 years ago that I needed to get a little more with the fashion program. I was sitting next to my friend Laura Dailey in a nice restaurant. She was wearing the current style. I felt silly sitting next to her in my 15-year-old dress, even though it has been my all-time favorite style, pattern, and color mix. I finally conceded that I needed to set it aside. *sigh*

Do you have a favorite outfit that’s outdated? Frustrating, isn’t it?

I needed fashion guidance after recovering from my cancer ordeals. Tracy in Houston generously bought me some beautiful, fashionable dresses when I stayed with her right after my 2009 sarcoma diagnosis. My sister Roselie clearly loved watching me try on and then wear the pretty clothes.

When Thriver Soup was published, I knew I needed professional help with my wardrobe. Amy Elliott Elberfeld, Doris Gibbons, and Patti Raggets came over and went through my clothes. Keep, donate, trash. Out went 3 big black bags of clothing. Amy also gave me a lovely silk scarf that fit my skin tones perfectly and a couple stylish necklaces. She then took me shopping for a couple of outfits.

Painful, but I felt grateful. And fearless.

So I learned that fearless and fashion can go together. Fearless about letting go of what’s no longer serving me, and welcoming what does.

Find out how to become more fearless in my 10-minute video recently posted on the FashionNotFear blog (filmed by my fearless fashionista friend Laura Dailey).

Today I might not be Heidiva the Fearless Fashionista, yet my friends helped make my wardrobe more current and suitable.

Still, my friend Mim teases me: “When I think of fashion, I think of my friend Heidi.”

And we chuckle.

Thriver Soup Ingredient

Clothing ourselves for fashion can help us fit in and feel more confident. It helps us laugh a little more heartily in the face of life’s difficulties. And then we can take our new-found fearlessness and apply it to other areas of our lives.

When the Deceased Call

“`Enter paradise; no fear need you have, and neither shall you grieve!”‘

Sura 7:49, Qur’an

Some people will be surprised by who enters eternal paradise, which is depicted as beautiful gardens, according to the Qur’an.

Sometimes those in the Elysian Fields temporarily pay visits to earthly plots. And sometimes they let us know when they have arrived. By phone, even.

What would you give to receive a quick call or text from a deceased loved one, letting you know he or she is okay—or even nearby?

This immeasurable gift came to me in a dream one warm morning in mid-February.

The phone rings and I pick it up. I hear, “Hi Mom, I’m in the flower garden.”

It’s my deceased son’s voice.

I wake up, filled with that oil-and-water mixture of deep gratitude, love, connection, joy—and terrible sorrow. Sound familiar?

I don’t rise quite yet. I bask in the afterglow and wallow in some grief.

Then I go to his garden, started for him behind my bedroom window. Along with the many crocus blossoms I’d already witnessed around Valentine’s Day, I discover that Tristan’s first daffodil has just opened its sun-ripened orifice. He had come to see his beautiful flowers and be near me.

When I started the garden more than a year ago, I had no idea my son would come calling in the middle of winter to see his first daffodil open. With help from several friends I had planted the flowers so I could sit and reminisce and make an offering. For him to visit surpassed my wildest expectations.

Oddly, his timing coincided with the passing of a pastor who, along with his caring wife, had gifted my son with coral bells for his garden. It was like Tristan had visited that particular morning, in time for a memorial gathering, to also say “thank you” to Gary and Liz for their thoughtfulness and for indirectly helping me heal my grief.

While I did not know Gary well, I knew he had worked for years with my friend who also had lost her son. My friend gradually attained serenity and acceptance around her son’s passing.

The moment she learned that Tristan had passed, she arrived to sit by my side, hold me, and sob with me. Yet through her tears, she glowed with the radiance of peace. I looked  her in the eyes and said, “I want that.” And she helped show me how. Because Gary had shown her how. Gary’s loving influence continues now through me. And Tristan’s lost life will be used to help others make better choices and also let go of grief and enter paradise.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

How have you connected with a deceased loved one? A friend of mine places a rose under a specific tree at the Kentucky Horse Park each year when she visits, honoring a special friend. The possibilities are as open as we are creative.

Source:

http://www.islamicity.org/quransearch/action.lasso.asp?-db=Quran&-lay=tblMasterTranslit&-format=SReply1.asp&-op=cn&Topics=1674&-token=Gardens%20of%20Paradise%3C!–Asad–%3E%7C%7C%3Cta%3Etrue%3C/ta%3E%3Ctt%3Etrue%3C/tt%3E%3Cts%3Etrue%3C/ts%3E%3Cdc%3Etrue%3C/dc%3E%3Ctx%3Etrue%3C/tx%3E%3Cal%3Etrue%3C/al%3E&-Sortorder=ascend&-Sortfield=cv&-find

Discover 3 Kick-butt Keys to Thriving Despite Cancer

Discover 3 kick-butt keys to thriving despite cancer. Important attitudes, behaviors, and major life choices are explored in this episode of Breast Friends Cancer Support Radio network. Listen for tips on managing chemotherapy, the difference between being healed and being cured, reducing pain levels, and getting out of the hospital early. Find genuine hope and practical options to improve outcomes.
https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/97339/3-keys-to-thriving-after-cancer

 

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Rarest One of All?

There are about 7,000 rare human diseases. How rare is rare? In the United States, it’s when a disease affects fewer than 200,000 people.
     Um, that doesn’t seem quite so rare to me. However, diseases falling into this category tend not to get research funding. Without research, conventional treatment options are few or nonexistent. That is an enormous issue for 30 million people in the United States.
     Just think of what that means for those with truly rare diseases. No one is going to fund research when only a small handful of people have a particular disease.
     When I speak of a small handful, I am referring, for example, to those with undifferentiated endometrial #sarcoma. I have only heard of three women besides myself who had it. I’d say that’s pretty dang rare. And mine owned the additional prefix “highly.” Read: “the most deadly.”
     My tumor slides earned the privilege of a trip to an international conference.
     Not the honor I wanted.
     #RareDiseaseDay was Feb. 28. This short video clip is about my experience with having a rare disease.
     Cincinnati’s TV station #WLWT channel 5 came to my home to do a segment on healing from a rare disease when conventional treatment runs out of options.
Watch the 1-minute show here.
     Note that Thriver Soup is not my story. It’s a series of more than 250 practical tips for healing. People with everything from anxiety attacks to Parkinson’s are adopting and benefiting from the useful ideas they’re finding in its pages.
     Healing from rare diseases, even terminal situations, is possible. I am living proof.

     How has Thriver Soup changed your life? I’d love to hear.