When Breath Becomes Air
Such a heartfelt, deeply moving talk!
When Breath Becomes Air – a recommended read by Paul Kalanithi
Resilience does not mean bouncing back to where you were before or pretending like the hard stuff isn’t hard.
Julie sends us this box full of cute characters.
Her note reads:
Here are some beanies for your young warrior battling cancer!
The young warriors love the character hats and these are especially so cute. We greatly appreicate your thoughtfulness, time and dedication. I can just hear the delight as they pick their favorite hat.
Thank you for spreading love and hope into the world.
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
In 2012, 2 days after Christmas we lost my funny and strong sister-in-law to this horrible disease and we have missed her every day since 12/27/12. I made these hats in honor of Wanda and her brave fight with pancreatic cancer. I hope to continue making purple hats all month long!
Some facts about Pancreatic Cancer from pancan.org
Wage Hope Together!
I can’t believe how fast time flies… I am just taking down the Halloween decorations and it’s already the middle of November. Though I am well aware that November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, in the beginning of the month, I struggled with my words.
While my mind meditated in deep thought and my heart explored feelings, I made 3 hats in a dark, deep Homespun purple. Two of these hats are for adult cancer warriors, and the smaller one is for a little girl, someone who perhaps fancies purple.
I am told that, “This is when we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us.” But I remember my sister (in-law) all.the.time and completely miss her at the most unexpected moments. So, I’d like to share some facts on Pancreatic Cancer (source is cancer.org <link>)
The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for pancreatic cancer in the United States are for 2014:
- About 46,420 people (23,530 men and 22,890 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
- About 39,590 people (20,170 men and 19,420 women) will die of pancreatic cancer
Rates of pancreatic cancer have been increasing slightly over the past decade or so.
Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US, and accounts for about 7% of cancer deaths.
The average lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 67 (1.5%).
In a Thanksgiving spirit, I am thankful that Wanda was in our lives for the little bit of time as her impact was large and long reaching. I remember many of the talks we had, especially about Knitting Rays of Hope. She was my inspiration for starting this effort, as together we would sit in the oncology centers and see the need for support, encouragement, hope and love in sometimes extremely bleak situations.
I look around to her, still almost 2 years later and am at a loss…
… though I smile bravely and march on as she showed us all how to do, by her example.
We just dropped off 10 adult hats to keep chemo warriors warm. Walking into the Kaiser Permanente Oncology Center in Ontario without my sister-in-law can be difficult. I see the familiar faces of the nurses or staff and memories start to flood my mind. But, I have been taking my son, who is a great and constant distraction with all of his energy and curiosity, plus he provides a loving hand to hold.
This delivery was a bit different, as the charge nurse personally accepted the hats and thanked us with a hug and kiss. She told us how much these hats mean to her patients. I recognized her, as she gave us an orientation and tour before my sister-in-law started her chemo there. However, without my sister-in-law, she didn’t seem to recognize me and I didn’t verbally respond to her. I could have told her who my sister-in-law was, or that I was continuing this in honor of her, or that I know personally how much these hats mean to chemo warriors. I just smiled, prayed that the tears wouldn’t fall out of my eyes and mumbled “Thank you”, holding my son’s hand as we walked out.
I hope she understood that I just couldn’t speak with any composure, not yet. I ‘m only at the point of being able to walk into the building and take the elevator to the basement without having becoming an emotional wreck. But I go here, specifically for Wanda, my sister-in-law, whom I love and miss very much.
This was created in honor of my sister-in-law, for her birthday (6/30) and for her courageous fight against this horrible disease! June is a particularly difficult month for my family now, but it used to be completely different. We used to slightly groan about how it felt like Christmas in June, and how expensive it was for us as a young couple. God created so many wonderful people in the month of June: my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, my daughter, my brother, my nephew and sister-in-law. We lost my mother-in-law to Lung Cancer in 2005, my father-in-law to ALS in 2009, and my sister-in-law to Pancreatic Cancer in 2012. Oh, how I wish my problem was figuring out what to get them for their birthday instead of missing each of them so much.
Shortly, I will take this hat (and some others) to the adult oncology infusion center, where Wanda used to receive her chemotherapy. I hope that it will bring courage, inspiration and hope to a chemo warrior in their fight against pancreatic cancer!
I made a purple envelope hat for 1 of our special requests, but I don’t think it’s big enough, so it’ll be included in our next children’s delivery of chemo caps. I will make another one, a little longer for the special request and include a little more detailed how-to guide in that post.
Yesterday, we did a furniture swap and started going through a lot of my sister-in-law’s stuff. Death is so ugly, so final. Dealing with the business side of death is also so ugly, something no one wants to do but it has to be done. Unless you have done it, you really have no idea of what really needs to be done. All the nitty gritty details, all the drab business. Going through material possessions, fighting the tears, living the memories, making decisions, remembering and wishing for things that can’t be changed.
It’s difficult without her- Wanda, my sister (-in-law). Everyone loved her, so many people. Me -I loved her and miss her everyday.
I don’t know why everything has to be so difficult! The emotions you feel when a loved one has passed are intense and raw, but the business dealing with a loved one’s affairs should not be even MORE difficult. I am so upset… actually pissed with insensitive people. This world is full of people who simply do not care, and they make this world dark and depressing. Our world is already pretty bleak, while our family grieves… I simply do not understand why these rude, self-centered people do not realize how they affect others.
Friday morning, I crumbled. Yes, I sat at my desk and sobbed and sobbed, when I finally finished I had the red puffy eyes that ached when I closed them. I remember crumbling like this, right before the service- literally minutes before we were walking into the church. Throughout all of this, I have been pretty strong, all things considered. However, when it hits me, it really HITS me. Crumbling describes it perfectly, because that’s how it feels. No matter how hard I try, I cannot compose myself.
Don’t get me wrong, we are surrounded by people who care, friends & family who love and support us. Even at work, I am lucky to have friends who care. I see the tears in their eyes as I describe my frustration and anger as they empathize with me while I talk about dealing with these horribly rude people.
I am not naive and know that the world is full of people who simply do not care about others or their plight. I do not expect to be handled with kid gloves while pumping gas, buying groceries, or any of the other million daily tasks. However, if we are presenting you with a death certificate or discussing our loved one’s passing, I do expect a little compassion, sensitivity or at the very least, do NOT be a jerk! Friday, I hit my limit on jerks and responded with untamed waterworks.
I have made a few hats for babies in the NICU since December 27th, however, I hope to make more just to show that there are people out there that care. These horribly mean, uncaring people are my new inspiration to make a difference, to counterbalance kindness and love for the rude and mean. Here are just 4 hats I made since 12/27, but like I said I am on a mission to make more.
On Friday, just as all the emotions were hitting me, I received an email from Teresa, a friend we met through this loom-knitting for charity cause. She sent me a poem that was very insightful and has me going back to it almost daily. The poem and her friendship touched me and I appreciate her immensely.
Her Journey’s Just Begun
Don’t think of her as gone away
her journey’s just begun,
life holds so many facets
this earth is only one.
Just think of her as resting
from the sorrows and the tears
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.
Think how she must be wishing
that we could know today
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.
And think of her as living
in the hearts of those she touched…
for nothing loved is ever lost
and she was loved so much.
Yeah, mean people suck. But kindness spreads throughout the world freely and lightly.~Pali