Sunday, April 20, 2008


Everybody’s touched at some point in their lives by cancer.

It hits at moments unexpected. A phone call comes in. The announcement is made. A dear friend or a relative gets “it.”

Maybe it is as with you, but it is currently surrounding me. In more ways than you know, in more ways than I share. With Michael. With my friend Kara, from high school. With others I don’t talk about because I just don’t because I respect privacy.

My friend Kara. Man. She got it. She got it bad. Double mastectomy at about the age of 34, about six years ago, ovaries removed, then it spread to her brain; she’s had, seriously, about 28 surgeries, the last a tumor removed about a month ago, from her brain. She has spent months at a time in the hospital, dealing with kidney failure, infections, you name it, and I've NEVER seen her feeling sorry for herself. How does she do it?

She’s thriving, doing great. I love her to death. She didn’t want it. Didn’t ask for it. But when it came knocking on her door, she couldn’t turn it away like it was the Jehovah’s Witness crew. She couldn’t hide up in her room, close the blinds, crawl under her covers until they went knocking on the neighbor’s door.

Instead, she straightened up, put on her game face, opened the door, let the bastard in, and fought the fucker. She’s still fighting. She fights like the girl I knew in high school, all tough and independent and ready to take on a challenge. She talks about it. She doesn’t shy away from it. She faces every day. She laughs. She lives. She breathes. She looks to the future. She plans for the future. She’s my idol.

She called ME the other day to find out how Michael was doing. Her husband read her the note I sent about Michael, because Kara’s eyesight isn’t so great from the last surgery, either that or she’s just “playing” lazy (haha Kara!). And her husband said, “See, what are YOU bitching for!” She sees the goodness that God has given her in her life. She is concerned for others.

Kara is kid-like in spirit. Kids adore her. My kids LOVE her! She is kind and funny, playful and awesome to be around. She’s had a rough go of it, yet she still fights through it, still believes in the positive of what’s happening in her life.

When others question how well she’s doing, or if she’s doing well, I rebuttle, “She’s doing it. She’s positive. She’s not giving up, is she? Let’s be positive for her.” Because what the hell is the alternative? And if you don’t ‘act’ well, then do you start to not ‘feel’ well?

Kara is the type of cancer patient I would hope to be if it would happen to me. A go-get-‘em gal. A “it-happened-to-me-but-it’s-not-stopping-me” kinda gal.

And then Michael. Little Michael down the street. Michael, who came to the door a week ago Thursday to play with Ajers, and when Ajers opened the door he said, “Michael, what are you doing here, you puked at school!”

“Yeah, but I feel better now! Can you come play?”

So they went to Michael’s to play. Two days later, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Five days later, it was removed. Today, he still lies in ICU, recovering. Ajers talked to Michael yesterday on the phone, and I got to talk to his mom, and talk about how a little phone call can lift OUR spirits!

I cried at church today.

It’s been emotional. The kind of tears that just come on for no other reason than you wonder why this kind of shit happens to the people it’s happening to, and what’s the big picture of it all.

And the big picture. That the day I found out about Michael’s brain tumor was the day I met Mimi, (through Dawn and Michelle) who has seen more tragedy than a mother should ever have to bear in 10 lifetimes. It seems that everything goes full circle and people come into people’s lives for a reason. I meet Mimi a week ago today in Chicago, knowing that just three months ago she lost her son to brain cancer, and how is it that she can go on with her life, go on a trip to meet other women and carry on with her life and be with us and laugh and feel joy and happiness after such a tragedy?

I wonder.

I also pause for a minute to wonder who the hell is writing this post and what has happened to Manic Mommy!? Ha, where has she gone! Who is this serious sad pensive woman?

OK, so let’s not be serious and sad and pensive anymore, because yes, cancer is a part of each and every one of our lives, and if you’ve been blessed with good cancer stories, which I do believe good comes from it, because it helps us to appreciate the here and the now, and the people we hold dear to our hearts, then be thankful, and if you’ve been lost and saddened by the disease, then I will pray for you, and while you might be a Manic Mom reader and think that I’m not a spiritual person, I really am, and I will pray for you and I hope you find peace and health and happiness.

So obviously, I'm praying fiercely for Kara, and for Michael, but I also am sending extra prayers and strength and love to others that I know who are facing challenges, including my dear friend Kelly’s husband Mike, my dear friend Stacy's sister Heather, my dear personal friend L., and for Kendra, Coleman and Haley (Haley, you sooo remind me of my friend Kara and her spunk!), who I met through the blessings of Michelle, Dawn, and Mimi. May He be with you as you all face the next hurdle in your journeys to healing. God bless and keep you.

And later this week, let’s just keep with the cancer theme as I’ll have TWO book giveaways which will be FUN, I promise:

Welcome to Shirley by Kelly McMasters and The Department of Lost and Found by Allison Winn Scotch. I'll have the authors stop by and offer something uplifting. I promise.

Peace UP. Cuz there's no other option really, is there?


Suburban Correspondent said...

So, you mean that the hiding in my bed with the blinds drawn approach just won't work?

AutoSysGene said...

I often wonder if there really is anyone out there that hasn't been touched by cancer..;ast year within three months my dad was dx'd with prostate cancer and my grandma with lung cancer.

I thought my mom was seriously going to lose her mind. Thankfully, both are recovering quite nicely, for which I am incredibly happy.

I'll add Michael to my prayer list.

Kate said...

Amen, Manic! I will pray and continue to pray for everyone with and effected by cancer.

I needed to have my perspective adjusted--thanks.

Michelle said...

I don't know what it is about this last year, but it's just been monstrous with all sorts of news like this and similar. No rhyme or reason or explanation ever. I keep thinking that this next one has to be the last one, but another appears. Here's hoping that Michael truly was the last AND that he's a 5 percenter.

Barb said...

I am one who has suffered loss from cancer and has also been given hope, renewal and faith through cancer. This week my family and I have been attending events surrounding "Relay for Life" and the stories of survival are just amazing. Even the stories that have not yet ended happily have been amazing for the support that is shown in time of need. Thanks Manic for your voice on this matter. It's beautiful as always.

Amanda said...

Positive thought - be it prayer or just uplifting thoughts - has been proven to help people heal faster. I don't know how it works but it does. The power of the human spirit is indomitable, so I will be sending happy vibes to Michael from across the ocean while you all sleep and that way he should be getting it 24/7.

PS We all know you're a sensitive soul behind that front! ;)

morninglight mama said...

There's a time for serious and pensive, and you did it perfectly! Well done, my friend.

Take My Life... said...

Damn, Steph, never thought i would come on here and cry sad tears!!!
Thank you for all you said though. Thank you for taking the time to "put it all out there" . Life sucks at times and cancer ,well, you know, CANCER SUCKS!! Feeling sorry for yourself is just not a good solution, it is way too destructive to oneself and others...
I was thinking about Haley when you talked about Kara, then read you thought they were alike!!
Without getting any more emotional, I am thankful i made that trip , met you , Michelle and Dawn, best laughs i had in a long time, I miss you !!!
DO we know Michael's type of tumor yet?

Stephanie J. Blake said...

Cancer sucks.Thanks MM. For putting it into perspective.

MaBunny said...

Wow Manic. Let it out. It does a body good. Whether through tears, anger or just plain ranting. Cancer has touched my life in more ways than I'd like to remember. Hasn't touched me personally , as in on or in my own body, but alot of people I love have been taken from me by the big C.
I go along with Mimi that CANCER SUCKS!!
I found ya'lls blogs toward the end of little Juju's life. I didn't know at the time that we shared a birthday. Even though I didnt' know him in person I was touched to tears that I had a small connection with such a spirited little 'big' guy.
I will keep all in my thoughts and prayers.

Take care and have a great day..
will look forward to the book giveaways!

B. said...

Sometimes the subject just needs to be taken head on. Currently, one of the secretaries at my school is losing a battle with pancreatic cancer. However, I have an aunt and uncle that are both cancer survivors! I wish the best for those you know that are dealing with it right now.

DeeMarie said...

To reiterate the thoughts of many others, Cancer Sucks. I'm participating in the Relay for Life this year in memory of one of my best friends from grade school and in honor of some true fighters and survivors that have touched my life. I'll add Michael and Kara to that list in my heart.

Andie said...

you are so right. EVERYONE has been affected by cancer- whether they have had it or not. That's why I did the bike ride I did.. because I wanted to make some sort of difference for others who have dealt with it- like your friends.

I'm so sorry to hear about little michael, kara, and mimi, and all of those people who have been touched by the disease in one way or another.

They are in my prayers!

Moll said...

I didn't think your post was sad and pensive, but rather reflective and caring. I too will send out warm thoughts to your loved ones dealing with this.

I hope you are feeling better too.

Unknown said...

Ya know, I always tell people how very fortunate not only I have been in my life, but how fortunate all those I've ever KNOWN in my life have been. Throughout my life, I never really knew anyone that died. Just my sister's boyfriend. Then gram died while I was in the Army, from lung cancer (actually, it was Beth's gram, but she was mine, too!). My family all lives to be old. I'm talking my grandmother, who smoked her WHOLE life, died at the age of 98. My other grandmother (don't know if she smoked or not) died in her 80's. My father died at 68 of liver failure because he was a drunk his whole life. Other than that, every one I know has be so fortunate.

Whichs makes me wonder. When it's my turn for me or someone in my family to be diagnosed, how will I handle it? What will I do? Will that it that much worse cause I've never had to deal with it?

It's scary. So very scary. This is why I pray so very hard for anyone I hear of that has cancer. I pray very hard for all of them.

AlaneM said...

Manic I think this is an awesome post!
Cancer sucks. It is hard & painful & messy & we all have to deal with it in some way or other.
Thanks for being real & not funnin it up...we need a dose of this sometimes.
Thanks for bein so MaNiC baby!!

Monnik said...

This is a well written post. Well, all of your posts are well written, but I love the honesty of this one. Cancer has touched us all. It's scary and mean. But amen about being positive - that's all you can do. My uncle has terminal brain cancer and my aunt asked the family to pray that she is joyful with him during his last days here. My mom said we all need to ask God to teach Aunt Mary how to 'dance in the rain'. So true.

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

Life is not like a Maytag washer. It doesn't come with a warranty or any guarantees. And Lord knows it's NEVER fair. And yet, people persevere and give others monster sized inspiration. When I was about 32 a neighbor my age battled breast cancer - it blew us all away. HOW???? WE'RE YOUNG! My prayers go out to Kara and her family. And Michael too. Dory had it right, "Just keep swimming." It's either that or drown in our sorrows.

Take My Life... said...

hey ... i had to go check it out cuz you know...I had to...
Here is the defeinition:
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?...

lilypotter said...

Thanks for the uplifting, thoughtful post. It's true that cancer affects everyone; my mom was diagnosed about 2 years ago. She's a fighter, too. I posted about her not too long ago, and I'm having a contest on my blog to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Here's the link

My best wishes for your friends and little Michael.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.

Jenster said...

I'm one of the good cancer stories!!

As has been so eloquently stated, cancer sucks. No two ways about that. But I can tell you I would go through it again and again if it meant my children would never have to. My heart goes out to Michael's parents. I will keep that family in my prayers.

As for Kara - I <3 her! She rocks!!

And so do you, Manic!!

Trish Ryan said...

So much for the whole "I'd just crawl into bed" plan.

We have a friend who was just diagnosed and it's amazing what it's done for how I think about life and marriage and faith. It's like, "Okay, I say I believe in this God...but now I really need him to DO something..."

My Two Army Brats said...

I don't think there is anyone who hasnt been touched. We started Relay last year when I was scared to death as a 27yr old waiting on breast biopsy results and now this year I'm running Relay and everyone I come in contact with I talk to them about it and everyone has their own story about how cancer has affected them, their family, friends or some other horrid connection to the beast!

Everyone should join their local Relay For Life and make a difference!

Michelle Kemper Brownlow said...


Give me some ideas and I am OFF! Sketching away!!

WOuld be happy for you to have a full set!

Lisa said...

Your thoughts really hit home. My 38 year old cousin died last year of breast cancer. Cancer is such an ugly disease. It has no prejudice and sneaks up on you when you least expect it. So many lives are affected by it, it is such a horrible thing for anyone to have to go through!

Anonymous said...

I'm off to bed and will include prayers for you and all you mentioned.
Thanks for the post.

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

I hate the "c" word.

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

It is around us like crazy. It hurts to have it touch people's lives.

Anonymous said...

MM -
Thank you for the real + touching post. I have lost loved ones and am inspired daily by the fighters I know. Keeps your perspective in check to remember how good and precious life is.
PS...thank you for visitng BL..and for your sweet comment. It reminds me why I love this crazy blogosphere...connecting with new friends..Manic + Bizzy go hand in hand!

Jess Riley said...

Very moving...very scary. My best friend's mother was just 51 when she died of brain cancer two years ago. I still can't believe she's gone. One of the most big-hearted people I've ever known. Another friend's brother was recently diagnosed with and treated for the exact same kind of brain tumor...he's beating it, and his prognosis looks good. All you can do is keep swimming, indeed.

Momx5 said...

Wow manic I just left a similiar post, so far this week Cody, and Lindsey from cp have passed away, I am so incredibly sad, and yes I followed King Julians struggle. Please pray for Cody's family and Lindsey she was only 5 and a half. I can't imagine their parents pain. So many children have cancer we need to fight for them and donate.....

cancersucks said...

Kara and Michael are added to my prayer list.....and let Kara and Michael's parents know that if there is a Gilda's Club near them it is a wonderful place. I go to a cancer support group there and feel "at home" there. Cancer is the type of group that you never want to belong to- but once you do, you are changed forever. Cancer sucks! T