Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sunshine, Rain, Cartwheels and Pain...

…the moment a name is given the disease, the whole thing is changed: fright ensues, and horrible depression, and the life that has learned its sentence is not worth the living. Medicine has its office, it does its share and does it well; but without hope back of it, its forces are crippled and only the physician's verdict can create that hope when the facts refuse to create it.
Mark Twain—Letter to Dr. W. W. Baldwin, May 15, 1904

Sunshine and rain, cartwheels and pain. I didn’t make up that title. It’s my daughter’s concoction of words to describe what she’s going through in her life right now.

As I told you before, my son-in-law, Mike, has been diagnosed with lung cancer. He’s very young. He’s almost 35.

On September 1, Mike had surgery to remove a tumor from his brain. On September 27, he will begin radiation for some smaller tumors on the brain, as well as chemotherapy treatments for the lung cancer. The brain surgery was a success, and he did remarkably well. Had the surgery on a Wednesday and was back home on the Friday of the same week. If you could not see the scar on his head, you’d never know he’d been through such a major procedure.

My daughter, Lyndie, has been an extreme optimist during this part of their life’s journey. She’s courageous on the outside as well as inside. Of course she sees the negative possibilities—I know, we’ve spoken about it. In fact, she’s been one of that small army of very young wives who’ve had to take on the daunting task, with her husband, of making out a living will which was a stark thump on the head to the very real possibility of the unthinkable—Mike’s NOT surviving this illness.

Lyndie has always been an optimist. You know the type. The ‘glass half-full’. Me? It’s just a damn glass. Half-full, half-empty, it’s still just a glass. I’m not negative, not positive, just somewhere in between. Life just IS.

That being said, now I find myself clinging to my daughter’s positive spirit. Damn, that optimism comes in handy at times like these.

But I was hurt for Lyndie when someone made these comments to her—on a VERY public forum—regarding her cheerful spirit in dealing with Mike’s illness: You’re delusional. What’s it like to live in Lyndie-land?

Nah. I take that back. I’m not hurt. I’m angry, crazy angry that—at this traumatic time in my dear daughter’s life—somebody, anybody, would take the opportunity to lash out their own bitterness to her, to attempt to kick her legs out from under her.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing this person for not being optimistic. Believe it or not, I’m not even knocking them for resenting my daughter’s bright personality. There’s no rule that says we have to like everybody, that we have to like every type of personality.

It’s just the timing, the cruelty of the timing. And, comically, it reminded me of Dracula’s cowering at the sight of the upheld cross. To see such hatred displayed to a person, just because that person is a perpetual optimist, reminds me so much of that old scene where the vampire hisses and crouches at the symbol of good.

But to this person who chose to unleash their bitterness at this time—this time when my daughter is drawing from her own reserve of whatever it is that gets her through her husband’s extremely serious illness—I thank you. Yes, I thank you.

Your expression of resentment has caused ME to look deeper, to see just how much I DO appreciate my daughter’s strength. She’s one damn strong woman, no matter how bubbly and cheerleader-like she may seem. That’s just on the outside, baby. Inside that very pretty, glowing persona is a woman who has been through the fire, has MADE it through the fire, and who come out on the other side as strong as steel. And who is now stepping into yet another fire, the biggest fire of her life.

If my daughter—or anyone for that matter—chooses to see the damn glass half-full or filled-to-overflowing, then let her, damn it. You drink from whatever glass you see fit, and let others drink from theirs.

A dear friend of mine is dealing with cancer also. His approach is practical, and my approach with him, toward HIS illness, is also practical. Because that’s how he wants it. But he’d be the first to say that you must let the persons dealing with the crisis handle it in their own way. And so it is with Mike and Lyndie.

This Lyndie-land that my daughter has chosen to live is her choice, and it gets her through this, and gives her the strength to walk beside Mike during this trial. Lyndie-land may sound all gingerbread, cotton-candy and peppermint sticks. But let me tell you. It only SEEMS that way. In reality, it’s a tough impenetrable fortress that houses a strong, strong woman. A woman I’m so proud of I can hardly bear the huge pride.

Lyndie refers to it as sunshine and rain, cartwheels and pain. That about sums it up. So, in spite of her cheeriness which this person has found so annoying…my daughter also knows the pain. And she’s handling it much, much better than I ever could. With courage and grace…and a smile.

Here’s to you, Lyndie.


Lex Valentine said...

There is no shortage of mean people in this world. Some are just more overt about it than others. When faced with what your daughter has on her plate, one gets through it the best one can and there is no right or wrong way to do that. It's unfortunate that someone had to sit in judgment on how your daughter chooses to make it through this crisis. I often wish for a repellent for people like that, so they just can't ever come near me.

Kudos to your whole family for staying strong and focused on what's important!

C. Zampa said...

Thank you for visiting, Lex. I LOVE your idea of the repellent.

I feel so sorry for people who are evidently so bitter.

Nice to see you, lady!

Karenna Colcroft said...

Carol, how awful of someone to think they had the right to make such a cruel comment to your daughter. Especially in a public forum.

I admire Lyndie for keeping herself as positive as she can through all this. Instead of wallowing and wailing, she's choosing to actually live her life and make the most of her time with her husband, regardless of how long that may be. She isn't letting her life control her.

I want to be her when I grow up.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Whatever she's going through know that she will come out of it, in one way or the other but she will.

Regina Carlysle said...

What a nasty, hateful thing to do! Staying positive is the best thing she can do. Studies say that patients who maintain a positive attitude recover quicker. That being said, it only makes sense 'positivity' from a support system is huge. She must have a bright, hopeful outlook to get through the things she'll face in supporting Mike. I know. I've been there. Doesn't mean she won't have her moments or need her mom's shoulder sometimes. Like Lyndie said...Sunshine and Rain, Cartwheels and Pain. It all goes hand in hand when dealing with something like this.

C. Zampa said...

Karenna, thank you!
She may be my daughter, but in some ways she's way more mature than me. She is very, very strong, that's for sure.

Thanks for visiting!

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Mick!
Yes, you're right!
And I believe like you....she WILl come out of this, I believe the both will.

Thank you for stopping by, my friend.

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Regina!

Oh, dear lady, you most certainly DO know exactly what she's going through and just how much the positive attitude means in this time.

I thank you so much for visiting.

kathyk said...

Lyndie sounds like an incredible woman, someone that I'd very much like to be. I admire her for her desire to stay positive, even knowing that there is a definite possibility for the worst to happen.
Honestly I think people who are realistic and honest with themselves are the ones who are able to be positive.
But I think, dear Carol, that Lyndie didn't develop this all on her own; you are a wonderful person and I'm sure an example for her.
Lyndie, Mike and you are all in my thoughts and prayers... good things DO happen to good people and I believe that you are all very good people.


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Nasty people generally live nasty lives. I'm sad for them. Lyndie is like the light in the storm. If you keep your eye on her, peace will come and the fear will go away.

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Kathy, my friend!

She is indeed positive and strong, but you know, this is one thing I HOPE to get from HER. LOL.

I suppose, being a single parent household, we both did have to learn to be strong. But she surpassed me somewhere along the way.

Hugs to you.

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Joylene!

I love the idea of her 'light in the storm'. She indeed is.

In my life, she's an angel. Not that she's not had her trials and mistakes. She doesn't hide from that. But, bottom line, she's still an beautiful person and a strong woman.

Thank you for stopping by!

Victor J. Banis said...

She sounds like a beautiful woman indeed, and I have to agree that just didn't happen by accident. You can be grateful to have that light in your life, as I am sure Mike is. My thoughts and prayers are with you and with them. And never forget, that the light of a single candle can pierce even the blackest night.

C. Zampa said...

Welcome, Victor!

"...a single candle can pierce even the blackest night." I love that, and will remember it, and Lyndie will see it as well. Beautiful, strong.

Thanks you for visiting!

Natalie Dae said...

What a beautiful woman she is. If her outward manner and way of coping works for her and Mike, then that's what she must do. There is no right or wrong way to act when someone you love has cancer. We each deal with it the best way we know how. Perhaps, though, that person said those words because they wish they could deal with it the same way as Lyndie. Maybe they were at their darkest moment when they said what they did. Who knows, they may regret it bitterly now, or may regret it later on when sunnier skies come their way. I'm not excusing what they said at all, because it was pretty mean. I'm just trying to get inside their head and ask why they did that. It's a shame they are so bitter, probably due to the stresses this illness has on a family, the way we rail at how unfair it is and "Why us?"

I feel for this person as much as I feel for Lyndie and every other person affected by this cruel disease. I wish I had a magic wand to make it all go away, so every human lived without the crippling fear cancer presents. I have been touched by it, also have personal knowledge of how it feels to sit in that doctor's office and await the news, and I was much like Lyndie outwardly. I watched the different ranges of emotions from family members, all coping differently, all in their own unique way. But you're right. Inside you're quite broken, frightened, angry.

Sorry to waffle. This is a subject very close to my heart.

C. Zampa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patric said...

I'm gonna fall off the other edge of the waffle and say "Fuck 'em." If they can't handle someone else living in Lyndie Land (Not even themselves) then Lyndie doesn't need 'em. She's got more than enough on her plate dealing with keeping hers and by extensions Mikes spirits up, spirits which are so vitally critical to his getting better. that to be dragged down even slightly is anathema.

Do I feel for the naysayer? Only as much as I would wipe a squashed bug off my shoe because they CLEARLY have a ways to go along the learning process, and because I've been damaged off often by their ilk. No more for me, and no more for Lyndie, if she can help it. All the best to her and Mike.

Anonymous said...

Your daughter is the kind of soul who can find beauty even in the bad. We should all
be more like her. As for her "friend"? That "friend" is simply someone who has seen
your daughter's beauty and grace, her unbending spirit and incredible strength--and
wants to be more like her--knowing she can't. That friend is to be pitied. As for me?
I wouldn't mind living in Lyndieland. I think it would be a great place to be.


C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Nat.

I'm sorry you've had to face cancer yourself, and you've expressed your feelings beautifullly, as always.

Thank you for visiting! Hugs, dear lady.

C. Zampa said...

Hello, little sweetie Patric!

You've been a rock for me during this, in spite of your own dealings with this illness. And thank you so much for that, and for sharing your feelings here.

Big hugs to you.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Tess.

Oh, if I could have even half of my daughter's grace in this situation. Yes, like I said, Lyndieland is a much stronger place than it seems. Don't let the name fool you! LOL.

Thanks and hugs.

ElaineG said...

Hi Carol....you may not knock this person for not being an optimist but I will knock them for being an absolute ass! I have always believed that rude, mean, and plain-old nasty people are like this because they see people struggle, and try and persevere.....and they can't or won't. It takes EFFORT to keep a positive outlook, and at times it can tear you apart. For someone to suggest your daughter is not a realist? Is ridiculous. Life is what you make of it, good or bad, and obviously this person needs to realize they are bitter and find a way to express their anger OF THEIR OWN LIFE...and not take it out on someone that they do not know and is doing the best they can in the only way they know how. Lyndie is dealing with a reality that most of us will never know, and she is an inspiration. Only she can do what she needs to do and NO ONE else has any right to criticize! When did we come to a time in life that it is ok to criticize and demean being POSITIVE about anything? My thoughts and prayers are with Lyndie, Mike, you and your whole family. Because it helps to know that there are people that are CHEERING her and Mike and others can "go hang!"


C. Zampa said...

Elaine, thank you so much for visiting, and for your inspiring words!

You're so right. For Mike and Lyndie, it IS a huge effort to keep a positive outlook. It's a serious illness with so many far-reaching effects. Not only the fear for health, but finances as well. And it's a well known fact that the attitude is crucial.

Again, thank you, Elaine, for visiting. Your input and support is so appreciated.

Unknown said...

From the sounds of it, your whole family is stronger than these petty fools. Stay strong, girl.

Sarah Ballance said...

Sending lots of (((hugs))) and prayers for you and the "kids." And for what it's worth, a prayer for the person leaving that hateful comment because they obviously live with pain of their own. Some people build themselves up with attempts to bring others down, and I'm so sorry you guys had to be the target. But the beauty - of life, of healing, of appreciating each day - is there and you see it. That's a gift, no matter what shape the glass is in. =c)

C. Zampa said...

Hi, Pat!

Never really realized how strong I all could be until this, as well as having friends who are ill.

Thanks, my friend, for your support!

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Sarah!
Thank you!
And thanks for the prayers--for that other person as well.
Mike and Lyndie have much love and support, and I hope this person does as well if they should ever need it.
Hugs to you as well, friend.

Christiane France - Author said...

Cyberhugs to both Mike and Lyndie, and I pray that somehow they'll be able to cartwheel their way back into the sunshine. A prayer to for that person who lashed out so unkindly. Hopefully, one day she'll find a better way of dealing with situations that obviously scare her silly.

My husband has suffered some health problems over the past year, nothing anmywhere as serious as Mike, but I know from experience that staying positive is the only way to get through it.

Christiane France

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Christine!
Thank you for visiting, and for the hugs. They are so appreciated!

I hope your husband is doing better, and you are SO right about being positive. And I hope that other person finds better ways, as well, of dealing with the more unpleasant issues of life.

Again, thank you for stopping by and for the hugs.