Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Creature Comforts: the Big C Hop … Let’s Cut out Cancer …


I missed this … I was dissolving monasteries on Monday, with Henry VIII and the Reformation swamping me … I gave a two part talk on, believe it or not, the “Dissolution of Monasteries 1536 – 1540” … so forgive my remissness for Monday’s Big C blog hop …
 
The Big C for Cancer Hop in aid
of all those will a serious illness,
particularly Melissa

Melissa Bradley has been diagnosed with malignant cancer and thirty of us bloggers are writing funny incidents about life with cancer, or as I will with terminal illness … please see Michael di Gesu’s blog for participants.



Cancer, or any degenerative illness, is always incredibly difficult to deal with for the sufferer, but in some ways more so for those around their near and dear.  What to do and how we deal with it …


I’ve learnt a great deal from bloggers about other illnesses and the day to day effects – since my mother, and uncle, were ill I’ve come to appreciate how challenging, and life changing these times can be.





The words I use are C words: Care, Concern, Compassion, Courage, Communication, Conversation … but more importantly I’d add being with your loved one along their journey … sharing and laughing as much a possible – and remembering, always remembering, to put yourself into the sufferer’s shoes (or bed, as may be more likely) … it’s not about us – it’s about them, I repeat: it’s about them  …


My mother went to St Pancras Workhouse to wait out the transfer to Eastbourne after she had sufficiently recovered to live on … we were lucky her brain was a live wire …



St Pancras Hospital

My mind matches my mother’s … probably more so … and if you want to know more about St Pancras and the workhouse … search for St Pancras and about 5 posts will pop up …



Right, back to the Workhouse … as it was incredibly hot in July 2009 I was glad we were on the north side of the building … ‘our’ room was about 15 feet tall (2.5 m) and probably that square too – room for two hospital beds.


There were trees outside keeping the room shady, and keeping any breeze that might be around out – in fact I’m not sure if we could open the windows much – and, of course, there was a large metal fire-escape staircase blocking what was left of the view …


We remained there … as my mother was always warm bodied … and I think because we remained in the room, the other lady decided to do so too …


This was the holding place for patients until they recovered sufficiently or the paperwork was completed and signed off – ours had to go to Cornwall – and could ‘go on’ … home, care home or as in our case Nursing Centre.  (We were there 3 months).


I only visited three to four times a week (usually) … as it was a 2.5 hour journey each way … plus my visit time, or two visits – depending on how things were …


 
Our other occupant was a
lady .. fairly hairy though!?
One day I arrived to be greeted with the word “XERXES” ……. uhm, uhm … I’d just travelled from the South Coast, across London by tube ... 


... a walk past the new development at Kings Cross/St Pancras Euro Star terminal, by the British Library, passed those finials on the washing lines I blogged about if you search, through St Pancras graveyard … to be greeted by mother smiling at me with “XERXES” ….


Looking down the peninsula: where
Xerxes built a canal to allow his
invading fleet in 483 BC to cross
the isthmus
Ah ha …. I twigged … the other lady was Greek, could speak no English … so this was my mother’s nickname for her!  We both laughed our heads off … her eyes twinkled and her mouth twitched with mirth, before rendering us both speechless …



We did have another hilarious day in the ward … when Mum and I were totally hysterical and became more so … uncontrollably hysterical … tears rolling down our faces … it was ‘so bad’ – the staff came running, not sure if we were laughing or crying or in total despair …


Helandariou Monastery on
Mount Athos Peninsula, Greece
… actually total despair – my stomach ached, my face had been stretched to such an extent I was more exhausted than normal … but oh so much fun was had – and oh what happy memories of my mother, despite her strokes …


That tale is still to be told … enough for now – I wish Melissa all the very best, with the best outcome … but she’s lost her job, and would be grateful for some help, while she, with her sister, travel this lonely journey … not so lonely with us there …


… and particularly Michael di Gesu, who visits her regularly … and is cheer-leading her journey … the participating blogger’s links are on Michael’s page (here), while Melissa’s posts can be found at her blog … and her GoFundMe.com – to help with losing her job, and generally all the really difficult things that turn up when you’re seriously ill and have little spare of anything …

Illustration from Kipling's Just So
Stories of 1912

Cancer can be held at bay, cancer can do its damndest … but along the journey we share with our loved ones, or those we decide to connect with along their journeys … humour and laughter, smiles and love, communication and visits will help us all …


To Melissa and her sister … from us all … our stories, our positive thoughts … and our communication with life beyond the chemo walls – many hugs and hopes for your future with us …



I have called the post Creature Comforts … because we all need to remember that we are human and are living despite our situation … when thinking of others is so much more important than thinking of us … whatever the outcome, we find we’ve embraced both ….


My last post mentioned drunken elephants ... and Susan from I think; Therefore, I Yam commented about a YouTube link ...and if you want to see what rotting fruits do to poor African animals - then look across now!  


Laughter is the best medicine ... and this clip certainly does it for me ... laughter lines permanently on show .... enjoy!


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

56 comments:

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This must touch Melissa so deeply, to read this and to feel your friendship. Bless you for taking part in such a wonderful endeavor!

D.G. Hudson said...

The blog and anthology for Melissa is such a great idea, bravo for you participating, Hilary. I just had to opt out due to my own responsibilities right now. I wish her health and recovery. She has the backing of the blogging community. That is heartening.

I'm also impressed that you 'gave a talk' about UK history. I didn't know you did that. Such a surprising lady you are. I would have attended that. I love history.

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Laughter is so important especially when so ill. It's great you have that memory - that uncontrollable laughter will stay with you forever.

Terra said...

Thank you for your post and some light hearted anecdotes about laughter with your mom. I find the rule of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries fascinating and heartbreaking. How neat you gave a talk about it. C.J. Sansom's fiction deals with those events and I like the series. Have you read it?

Christine Rains said...

Laughter is life. It's so vital. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Mason Canyon said...

When dealing with illness you sometimes have to laugh to keep from crying. Hilary, a lovely post and inspiring. Spending time with a loved one at the end and remembering it's all about them is so important. Wishing Melissa all the best.

M Pax said...

Laughter is important. I went through 'trials' with loved ones and it's those times I treasure, the moments of being there, and the moments of triumph because we could still love and laugh.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

How wonderful that so many of you are supporting Melissa with your stories for the anthology. Laughter is always a vital part of life, but even more so when facing serious illness. Thank you for sharing.

I'm glad you got a kick out of the video of the over-imbibers of the animal kingdom. (If you never saw the movie "Animals Are People, Too," I highly recommend it. It was probably from somewhere in the late '70s or early '80s.)

Cheers!

Theresa Milstein said...

I've missed hearing stories about your mother--I'm sure not as much as you miss her. Your dedication to her is clear.

JJ said...

It's not about us. It's about them. Thank you for that encouragement. Some of us need that. Cheers!

Tara Tyler R said...

what a wonderful post - it touched me to read about your mom and how you made that long journey so often and kept her spirits up. thank you for sharing it. and i hope melissa fares well through all the treatments - michael is an amazing friend!

Jo said...

I do agree with much of what you say, but I also think the carers should be given more consideration. It is often a very difficult job for them to cope with the day to day looking after their loved ones.

My very best wishes to Melissa and I hope the anthology will be a great help to her.

Denise Covey said...

This is a beautiful tribute to Melissa, Hilary. Laughter is indeed the best medicine. They say it's crucial for cancer survivors. No wonder with all those treatments to undergo.

Denise Covey said...

And I enjoyed hearing about your mother too.:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith - I sincerely hope Melissa will come through this really difficult time for her ..

@ DG - I hope the anthology will help Melissa ... and I understand your need not to be involved, I'd have been that way a few years ago. The blogging community is an amazing group ...

The talks just help the course leader and I learn at the same time ... it's part of the Open University's University of the 3rd Age ... lots of courses around the country, given by experts or teachers .. I'm enjoying being a part of it and benefiting from the courses or talks on offer.

@ Holly - it is so important isn't it - laughter always pulls us through things ... and yes the uncontrollable hysterics will certainly stay in my memory for ever ...

@ Terra - we were very lucky we were able to communicate and have lots of laughs ...

Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries ... was fascinating to learn about - but boy so much happened - it's difficult to comprehend how much went on ... and how quickly things happened and how far they travelled to do the job ...

CJ Sansom - I haven't read any of his works .. I might see if the library has any of his ... and I've just looked him up ... interesting character ...

@ Christine - laughter is vital isn't it .. and with a little one - you'll be laughing a lot at his antics - fun.

@ Mason - sometimes it's both isn't it .. crying and laughing rolled into one. Those last years were so important to both my mother and to my uncle - and we were able to share lots and I'm grateful I had that time with them.

@ Mary - you will understand having experienced those very difficult periods with loved ones ... being there and the love and laughter - essential to their wellbeing and for us who get left behind.

@ Susan - The blogging community does come together doesn't it .. and I sincerely hope the anthology helps many, as well as Melissa.

I posted the animal one - as it resonates with me and my time in South Africa ... I'm sure I've seen snippets of the "Animals are People, too" - and I will look at the clip shortly ...

@ Theresa - thank you re my mother .. I haven't posted much as she didn't have grandchildren ... and so my memories are personal ... more stories may come out, as I continue blogging ...

@ JJ - I'e seen too many people visit and not connect with their loved one - as we forget they are the ones that are suffering and are seriously ill ... I'm glad you appreciate the "it's about them"

@ Tara - I'd been going to London for 4 months before that .. so the journey had become a bit much ... but obviously you do what is necessary for your mother - and me being there was important for my mother.

Michael is an amazing friend isn't he ... and I hope Melissa can get through all this .. positivity and care help so much ...

@ Jo - yes the anthology is for Melissa and cancer sufferers, or terminally ill as I use for my example ... thanks for your thoughts re Melissa ...

This wasn't about the carers - though having experienced 6 years of it, with two terminally ill, I understand that side .. but for this article it didn't need mentioning in the post. Caring is really tough, I agree ...

@ Denise - thanks so much .. Michael and Melissa's sister seem to be helping her and being there for her a great deal ... and laughter at all times improves our well-being doesn't it .. It just must be a very worrying time for all and I sure hope Melissa pulls through ...

Thanks re my Ma ... she'd be pleased!!

Cheers to you all .. and I hope the anthology will help Melissa and the Gilda Club Cancer organisation in Chicago ... thank you for commenting - Hilary

Jemi Fraser said...

Laughter does indeed heal and help. Thankfully there is an endless store of it! :)

Mike Goad said...

Cancer can be a horror and anything that can distract, even for a short while, must be a blessing.

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

Laughing is my favorite thing to do. What a great story you have. Blessings over Melissa.

J.L. Murphey said...

Laughter is the best medicine even if it's to keep from crying.

Karen Walker said...

What a beautiful contribution to this anthology project that is so heart-warming to see. Blessings to all of you helping Melissa. My thoughts and prayers are with her.

Gattina said...

Cancer is the most vicious disease ever. One of my friends was in full shape when school holidays started. On the 5th of July she did a city trip to London and enjoyed it very much. One week later she was in hospital with a "gastritis" and on the 25th she was dead ! Cancer had eaten her up everywhere. I still can't believe it, it was so quick, so unexpected, no warning, nothing !

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

I really enjoyed your post. I can imagine you guys laughing until it hurts to relieve the stress of the matter.

My father-in-law died of cancer several years ago. He was older and decided not to fight it, and lived for a year after his diagnoses. Our great-nephew was 6, and has a heart for the elderly. He was never scared by the changes going on in his great-grandpa, and was nice to have around. One day, my FIL was napping on the couch, and he felt this little face hovering over him. Finally, he heard this little voice say, "Grandpa, are you dead?" Troy said, "Not yet!"

He cracked up when he told me that story, and it makes me laugh today.

Hugs,

Kathy M.
Your newest follower!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for sharing this with us, Hilary! This is a very special contribution to the anthology. Laughter really is the best medicine. Let your laugh lines show! :)

Lisa said...

I keep Melissa in my prayers every day. This was such a heart-warming post about your mum and Melissa. I've seen that rotting fruit video before and practically rolled on the floor! Lovely and interesting post Hilary... of course!

Chatty Crone said...

I don't know Melissa but I do know this - she is loved. I know this will help her on her journey.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jemi - laughter most definitely helps doesn't it .. and does so often rise up in us ...

@ Mike - you've said it well .. distraction at the time, and memories for later on ...

@ Teresa - laughing helps us so much with so many things .. and thanks re the story and my mother ..

@ JL - you're right laughter is the best medicine, even if it's to keep us from crying ..

@ Karen - I'm sure everyone's stories will give us food for heart warming thought ..

@ Gattina - well you've told us of a horror cancer story, and yes I've heard similar ... cancer can take over so so quickly - very sad for her family and friends.

@ Kathy - good to meet you and thank you for commenting ... my mother always had quips to hand and I'd often sit there giggling with her, or laughing uproariously at some off the cuff remark she made ..

Your father's story ... wonderful touching and loving tale of the love of a grandson .. oh what a great chapter to tell us ..and to have those memories - favourite of the time I expect ... "Not Yet" .. love it!

@ Chrys - let our laugh lines show, and our eyes twinkle ... essential for the ill and aged ...

@ Lisa - good to see you .. and glad you enjoyed a tiny part of my Mum's journey ...

The rotting fruit and African elephants is too funny isn't it .. I loved it, when I saw it .. so appropriate for the Amarula post, but a fun clip to bring laughter to our eyes here ..

@ Sandie - I haven't been able to comment on Melissa's blog - it's adult related .. and for some reason I couldn't get through - but for this blog-hop I've been able to get through ... I'm really pleased to say.

Thank you so much for coming over everyone ... we all need support and love at times ... and this blogging community gives it ...

My thoughts for Melissa, her family and friends and to all who are suffering ... let us laugh as much as we can -and 'hey' it's the weekend! and we're still British! Cheers Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You were a very good daughter, Hilary. Your mother was very blessed to have you.

Vagabonde said...

You chose the perfect name for your blog with Positive letters and Inspirational stories, as you are being very positive and your stories inspire us to be friendlier and happier too. I will go and read the blogs you linked. Laughter is wonderful and has been shown to help our health – I hope it helps Melissa with her treatment. I know with my husband (who has Alzheimer) we often laugh at the problems with his memory when we find that he placed something in a weird place – it helps to laugh.

Suzanne Furness said...

Laughter is so important, a great medicine. I remember times I laughed with my mum during her years of illness. My very best wishes to Melissa, I hope this anthology gives her strength and even some of that important laughter.

Carol Kilgore said...

Laughter is always a good thing. Loved the video. I'm glad you and your mother shared some happy times.

Inger said...

In my cancer support group, we got this list of things called: What Cancer Cannot Do, by someone unknown, but who had been there.

Here are a few quotes from the list for Melissa:

Cancer cannot cripple Love
It cannot shatter Hope
It cannot corrode Faith
I cannot destroy Peace
It cannot kill Friendship
It cannot silence Courage

Nick Wilford said...

Excellent post. I think you showed that being there for someone is the most important thing you can do. I'm glad you and your mum were able to share some great laughs.

L.G. Smith said...

So glad you have those great memories of your mom. Terrible situation for Melissa. I do hope she gets the care she needs.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary -

I'm sorry to hear of Melissa's diagnosis. I'll be praying for her.

My husband was diagnosed with a virulent form of leukemia back in 2006. Unfortunately, he lost his valiant battle in 2007.

During those difficult days, we experienced many joys sharing our faith with others. His positive attitude and care for those around him inspired many.

Sincerely,
Susan

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joylene - I am just so grateful we were able to communicate and share her last years, despite hospital conditions ...

@ Vagabonde - thanks so much ... I really was unsure what I was doing or what I was going to do when I started blogging - it seems to have worked out happily ...

I feel for you with your husband, but laughing as to the 'where oh where' can that item have got to ... just the right thing to do ...

@ Suzanne - laughter is the best medicine and it is so good to know you had those wonderful times with your mother during her illness.

I hope the anthology will raise some laughs and help Melissa through ...

@ Carol - glad you enjoyed the elephant video ... funny isn't it - poor creatures. My mother and I were, essentially, blessed during her journey ...

@ Inger - what a great list of quotes .. about what cancer cannot do. I know you've been there and your cancer support group must have been invaluable and I'm sure are with you now ... we do have so much to live with, despite the dreaded C ... thanks so much for posting here.

@ Nick - being with our loved ones along those journeys are important aren't they ... and you did so much with and for Andrew. I'll always remember Andrew's laughing face ...

@ Luanne - certainly Melissa is in our thoughts - so cruel to lose your job at the same time as fighting cancer ... I hope she will pull through ...

@ Susan - thank you so much for praying for Melissa ... I wasn't sure about your husband - leukaemia is a dreadful disease ... but it's good to read you shared much despite those dark days ... and that your husband set his sail firmly to the wind - and he was able to inspire many ..

Thank you so much - Melissa will be happy to have these comments and to have the uplifting stories ... cheers Hilary

Marja said...

What a great support for Melissa and what a touching moments with your mum you shared. Laughter is indeed a blessing in difficult situations. You are a beautiful soul

cleemckenzie said...

I loved your C words. They help to outweigh the one that has such a dark implication.

After spending the time with my mom through her last illness, I was reminded of these words. " I slept and dreamed that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was duty. I acted and behold: duty was joy."

You gave Melissa a lovely story to read.

Julia Hones said...

Dear Hilary,
Laughter is so important. Kindness, love, laughter.
I hope Melissa has all the support she needs.
Lovely post...
Hugs and a peaceful Sunday to you.

mail4rosey said...

I love when people come together for the sole purpose of helping another. I'm wishing her well on her journey too!

Sara said...

I wish Melissa the best and yes, any severe illness is challenging, but your post is uplifting. It reminds me that even in the face of a life-threatening illness, laughter can be found and can help with the healing.

You are very thoughtful and caring, Hilary. I think this is one of the reasons you have so many friends. The caring within you just oozes out and touches people around you with warmth:~)

Sorry I haven't been visiting lately. I've had some serious blog problems, which have kept very occupied in trying to get them fixed.Fortunately, they haven't shut my blog, but scary stuff never the less.

Sara said...

Oops. I forgot. I'm impressed with your two-part talk. As I tend to be very shy about public speaking, this is amazing feat, especially the subject. Congratulations.

Oh, I wish my eldest could meet you. As a long time history buff, she would enjoy having conversations with you:~)

Empty Nest Insider said...

You're absolutely right when you wrote, It's not about us - it's about them." I'm glad you shared so many wonderful memories with your mum. I didn't realize you had such a long commute to see her. Your inspiring words will be of great comfort to Melissa. Oh, and the drunken animals were a hoot!

Julie

Val Poore said...

It seems awful to say I'm enjoying these cancer blogs, but I am. They are so very inspiring and reflect the love and joy of sharing. Wonderful stories about you and your mother, Hilary! A lovely post!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Marja - I'm sure Melissa will be inspired by the other stories .. there is hope and there's always laughter .. thank you ..

@ Lee - many thanks - yes we need to remember other things when we're dealing with adversity ...

... and I remember we 'talked' quite a bit last year when you were with your mother on her last months ...

Great quote: I slept and dreamed that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was duty. I acted and behold: duty was joy". .... such true words ...

Thankfully any encouraging words from us for Melissa will bring her some love ...

@ Julia - yes laughter, kindness - that is so important, love and more laughter ... Melissa seems to be in good care - let's hope that life is kind to her ...

@ Rosey - yes it is great isn't it - when we bloggers do help and support each other ..

@ Sara - yes ... laughter and communication help with the healing and the passing along that long journey.

I really appreciate your thoughts - I was lucky to be able to do as much as I could for my mother and my uncle ... and as Lee above says ... "duty was joy" ...

Blog problems can be a pain ... and I hope yours can be resolved - Sharing Connections is special ...

Ah - I'm enjoying giving talks to the history group - but I couldn't do it if I didn't blog ... I'd be hopeless at it ... and having spent so long in hospitals or Nursing Centres, or with my uncle - speaking clearly and concisely I had at least learnt, and making sure the audience could understand ... giving them time to take things in ..

I'd love to meet your eldest and at some stage you - perhaps when you come to London next year ... I'll brush up on my history!

@ Julie - thank you: so often or usually people think about their own visit .... not the good they could be doing to their patient.

The commute to London was only for 8+ months ... I say only .. the commute up the road here was then for another 4 and 3/4 years ... while my uncle was a half hour/40 minute journey unless he was here in the local hospital, the hospice or the Nursing Centre here for really 7 years .. he died before my mother.

I think everyone has contributed amazing stories of hope and happiness, despite the times ... and I sincerely hope Melissa's seen the Amarulaed animals .. they are such fun to see - poor critters!

@ Val - I know it does seem strange to laugh during such challenging times - but it does get us through ..

Thank you to you all - I continue to wish Melissa well during her healing ... cheers Hilary

Sherry Ellis said...

Those are perfect "C" words, and quite fitting for this blog hop!

Stephen Tremp said...

God Bless Melissa as she recovers and kicks cancer's ass! She has the support of a lot of people and I'm sure good reports are headed her way. I'm sending thoughts and prayers her way right now!

Lynn said...

So lovely that Melissa has this kind of support. And your hospital memory is priceless!

Sai Charan said...

Hi Hilary, happy to have visited your blog through Patsy's page and enjoyed reading through all your recent posts!! :)

The content you write here definitely justifies the title of this blog, it is indeed positive and inspiring to all your readers!! :)

Can't agree more with what you said - humour and laughter, smiles and love, communication and visits, hugs and hopes - are the best blessings for the people who really need them. Laughter is the best medicine :) Keep writing more :)

All the Best,
Charan :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sherry - many thanks .. Cancer is always so difficult ...

@ Stephen - I too hope she heals and thankfully she seems to have the blogging community behind her ..

@ Lynn - Michael has done loads for Melissa ... glad you enjoyed the story ..

@ Charan - thank you for coming over from Patsy's blog ... and that you've enjoyed your look around: much appreciated!

I'm glad the blog title matches up ... and I'm with you .. and your words too - as they are so appropriate for all in need.

Many thanks to you all .. it's finally chilling down a little here! Cheers Hilary

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh, Hil. Thanks for sharing. I know that for years to come you will have that memory. Your mother must have been a wonderful woman. I love laughing that hard. It's exhilarating! xoxoxo

TexWisGirl said...

i hope your united countries remain strong and unified.

Michelle Wallace said...

I loved all your C-words, Hilary!
Laughter IS the best medicine...without a doubt!!

Deniz Bevan said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Hilary. Love the idea of all that laughter!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Robyn - many thanks we did have some fun times ... actually lots of happy days and laughing like that was just amazing ... considering what we were both going through ...

@ TWG - our countries are definitely changing after the Scottish Referendum - perhaps for the better: I hope so ..

@ Michelle - thanks .. it was good to think of the C words for Caring for Cancer .. and Laughter does help so much ..

@ Deniz - glad you enjoyed it .. it was lots of laughter .. and good to remember it.

Cheers and happy weekends - Hilary

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI, Hilary,

I am SOOOOO sorry I missed this post. Obviously Melissa had too.

THANK YOU ... it was wonderful! Your C words are so much better that THE C word!

Laughter is so healing. I spoke with Melissa the other day when I read how depressed she was on Facebook.

She hates to call me, so I called HER. I kept her laughing... As you say, it is about them!

I'll be calling her again tomorrow since I haven't spoke with her since last week.

Thanks again for you wonderful post. We BOTH appreciate it!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Michael - no worries .. I know you're so busy - and Melissa, but she has much on her mind.

I don't do FB - and really should .. especially when I read about Melissa and how challenging life is for her ...

I'm glad you're so able to help her - as laughter is the best medicine - she'll be so appreciative ...

Delighted you got here and I know you're doing the best for Melissa ... with thoughts to you both .. cheers Hilary