Memoir Book review: The Invisible Girls

August 24, 2013

I enjoyed reading the book Invisible Girls by Sarah Thebarge.  Her memoir read like a diary, where I felt like I entered into her world and hardships.  The memoir was an interesting contrast and comparison between her personal struggles with breast cancer, spirituality, relationships and infertility with the struggles of a family (mother and five daughters) she met on the train from Somali.  Her honesty and ability to dig deep into her thoughts and feelings pulled me into her book, gaining new understandings along the way.

I have had many encounters with people from other countries including refuges.  Sarah, however, allowed me to really picture the culture and language clash with her details of everyday situations.  I was inspired by Sarah’s humility of what she didn’t know and her willingness to keep trying to help in a situation that wasn’t simple.

I could relate to many of the spiritual challenges Sarah talked about in her story.  Though I can see blessings all around me, it can be hard to feel God with health issues, unemployment and Cancer that is abundant with family and friends.  My mind and heart don’t always connect with the questions that only seem to provide a glimpse of answers when I look at the Sun and the Stars.  Many of the spiritual clichés that I have grown up with seem to bring further disconnect from the God in which I hope is watching over me.  I could feel my heart’s brokenness yet a glimpse of encouragement as her memoir seemed to illustrate a Spirit that resided within her.

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Memoir Review: Promise Me by Nancy G. Brinker

March 19, 2013

Promise Me was an amazing book on so many levels.  Nancy G. Brinker is the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization launched in honor of her sister who died of breast cancer.  Nancy shares of the struggle of losing her sister to breast cancer, her own battle with breast cancer, her research about breast cancer and the relationships that hold her along the way.  It is a must read for anyone who has or knows someone battling with cancer or someone wanting to make an impact for a cause.

Nancy writes in a way that most captures my attention, she writes from her heart.  Whether she is giving medical information, or walking you through her story, her passion and love is evident.  She draws me into her family, into her relationships, and the promise she made to her sister about making a difference for breast cancer.  Her mother, instills the necessity of making a difference and finding joy in serving others which is integrated in the heart and soul of Nancy’s life.

Throughout the book, Nancy gives some incredible information on breast cancer and research.  She shares stories from other survivors and various treatment options as well as the importance of advocating for yourself in the medical system.  The end of the book includes 11 pages of resources regarding financial, treatment, trials, diagnosis, and prevention.

 


How serious is my chronic illness?

February 25, 2013

This past week, I have learned that several people I know have cancer. Cancer is a horrible disease that most of us have witnessed in some capacity. It can be painful, deliberating, expensive, draining (emotionally and physically) and potentially deadly. We wish and pray that this disease finds a cure.

While learning of the cancer diagnosis for people I care about, it has brought about a lot of personal emotions for me to process. Having any chronic illness and going through the process of discovery of what it is, the prognosis, and treatments is difficult. At times we have hope for what the future can bring through this new illness, and at other times the future looks bleak. Having people around for support and love can make all the difference. It gives us a degree of connection, though we might still feel alone in the journey.

When I first began having fibromyalgia symptoms, I blew it off as an extension of an illness. I thought eventually I would regain my strength, and the tingling sensations were just a weird manifestation of an infection of some sort. Emotionally I was dealing with some personal issues, that seemed to be leading me into a dark place. I wondered if the stress was taking its toll upon my body.

After several months, and having pain that was moving into the 6-7 pain scale, it was time to see a doctor. I could no longer ignore what was going on, and the constant lying around was becoming problematic. Summer ended, and laying on the couch wasn’t as fun as laying in a baby pool with my kids.

Those early days of diagnostic testing and medication experiments were tiresome. I can remember the fear I felt as I went through the process of searching out potential diseases I could have. Each test brought different possibilities. At the beginning, I can remember hearing and dreading the word fibromyalgia. I hated this word, because it seemed to imply more mental issues and unclarity than other diseases, especially since it appeared to be more of a “we don’t know” diagnosis. As I had more tests, and realized the possibility of something deadly, I began to care less. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office having an echogram (I think that’s the name) where they were searching for a heart infection, and the technician was explaining that if they found an infection, it would need to be treated right away, or I could die. I felt relieved later, to discover that I had no infection in my heart, and became more open to any possibility, even if it was more in my head.

I can understand more clearly how fibromyalgia is an invisible disease. Though I have received great support over the years, especially in the early stages, in general this has subsided. I know people care, yet few people understand. I feel a battle inside of finding the balance of keeping it alive (this is what Fibro looks like), and living my life in my own personal fibro bubble. Because I look and act “normal”, even the people closest to me forget my pain and fatigue. Occasionally someone will add a reflection that shows an understanding of my illness to the situation at hand. I feel blessed and loved when those connections are made.

I cannot imagine fully the impact of having cancer. I live with a chronic illness, and have watched my mother die from tongue cancer and my sister-in-law survive cancer but have not experienced it myself. No matter how difficult my days are, I realize that this disease will not take me away from my loved ones. I may have to watch for other symptoms (such as depression) that could shorten my life, yet the core symptoms of fibromyalgia won’t do this. Cancer doesn’t necessarily mean a death sentence. Most people with cancer, actually live a long life. However, the fear of death is greater because the potential is there.

I hope and pray that I can be a support to others in their experience with a chronic illness and/or disease. I admit, at times it is hard for me, because I can long for the support and love that can come from people with a more serious illness. As with any difficult challenge, it is important that I recognize how people care, even when it may not be so evident in the way I desire. I still have people ask me how I am, years later – the love is there. May I be able to offer the best of what was given to me.

None of us know what it is that lies ahead for us. Our life is filled with both amazing blessings, and horrific challenges. The medical world can try to simplify and provide better treatment through diagnosis and statistics. However, regardless of what it might appear to be, the mystery remains. May I find a way to love and be loved in the mystery.


Rocking the Pink Memoir review

September 23, 2012

I really enjoyed reading Laura Roppe’s book Rocking The Pink.  It is a story about her journey with breast cancer and how it inspired her to follow her dreams.  I love her honesty in a compelling and humorous way, allowing me to laugh at the darker aspects of life, while recognizing the grief of it.  Her story to becoming a rock story reads almost like a fairy tale, except of course the big C wood.  Laura writes in a witty way about people and life’s circumstances, sharing her experiences without every criticizing other people.  I enjoyed her positive stance and her strive to follow her heart in a way that considers other people.  Her relationships with her husband, daughters, cousin and fellow cancer survivor, Jane revealed her loving  and kind manner and made you love her all the more.

I connected to Laura’s story by her illness, her dreams and her positive aspect.  Though I can’t say I share the successful rock star life, it doesn’t prevent me from dreaming of making a difference through writing.  I was inspired by her ability to find the very best in her close relationships and made me love my husband all the more for his love and support.  Having two daughters, I connected with the motherhood piece, the fear of not being there, not giving enough, and balancing your own dreams.  I generally feel less alone reading the stories of others experiencing some kind of medical crisis, learning from their ability to capture their feelings, hopes and fears.  So thank you Laura for sharing your story through your book and music.


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