Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mama Schliep and My Cheerleaders

Mama Schliep and My Cheerleaders

"I can whine or I can worship!" ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss, author of Choosing Gratitude 
 
My faith is different than that of most people I know. I named my second daughter Emerson, after Ralph Waldo Emerson, who most closely conveys how I feel about spirituality. Oprah always asks, "What do you know for sure?" and here's what I know for sure: There is a universal consciousness that connects us all. This belief crosses all religions and faiths and bolsters me up in the face of any attitude or belief system which seeks to divide us from each other, from the environment, or from the universe. I find lessons from Jesus, from Buddha, from Emerson...and from friends reassure me that we are one and the consciousness, God, is wonderful. 

But...

Whenever I am doubtful I need only look as far as the Schlieps. Cathy Schliep is one of the most faithful souls I've ever encountered. She has had her share of heartache and yet she is the first to find comfort in her faith which never seems to fail her. She sends me daily texts, posts, and love. We taught together through one of my toughest teaching years, and she watched over me as if she were truly my Mama. She is a great Mama, which brings me to my friend, Cathy's daughter, Dana

Something else I know for sure: I hear God's words through Dana. Anyone who knows Dana, knows that she has a way with words. She can rattle off an inspirational speech as if she worked for hours writing it. I coached with Dana for years and I can point to specific moments in our friendship which renewed my faith. Dana also introduced me to a pain management system called Hypnobabies which not only helped me have a drug-free childbirth with Emerson, but helps me as I deal with Chemotherapy. (Dana also had her 3rd child drug-free in the backseat of a car at a YMCA!) She's God's and my own champion. Which brings me to another champion, Michelle Costello

Michelle is the hardest working, most magnetic person I've ever known. We also coached together for years, but more importantly she convinced me to go out on my first date with Michael. I was going to bail, but she wouldn't hear of it. And that's the thing about Michelle: she has such faith in other people that she will never give up on them. I've watched her coach literally hundreds of girls to be the best they can be...and I'm including myself in that number. 

I told Dana and Michelle about my diagnosis before I made any sort of social media post. I hadn't told many people, but I wanted to tell them because I knew they would give me the strength I needed to tell the world. And they did. Live it, Love it, Fear it! 

Cheers to Mama Schliep, Dana and Michelle! 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Queen of Cards

Queen of Cards

"If you knew who walked beside you at all times, on the path that you have chosen, you could never experience fear or doubt again." ~Wayne Dyer, author and spiritual writer

Back in 2018 when I had a newborn, a 2 year old, and a husband recovering from brain surgery, I received support from so many colleagues at Timber Creek HS. I am an English teacher and work very closely with the people in my department; however, I don't always get to see friends from other departments as much as I did before we changed our schedule to a rotating one. Some of my oldest friends are colleagues whom I don't often see, but whom I know walk beside me whenever I need them. One such friend is Mary Dressel. Mary sent us diapers in 2018 which was so unbelievably necessary. When Amazon showed up on my door step with a huge box of diapers, I honestly thought a guardian angel was looking after us. I opened the box up to see Mary's name and I knew I was right.

This time around, after I made my colorectal cancer diagnosis public, Mary started sending almost weekly cards. Her cards are always cheery and truly do make me remember that there are people out there, besides my family, just randomly wishing me well. That kind of stuff can't help but make me feel less fear and feel no doubt in my safety in this world. 

Thank you, Mary. 

Hello and Thank You

Hello and Thank You

“Once you get on the joy and gratitude frequency, you come to see that the universe is not only a co-creative force, but it's your strongest ally.” ~Pam Grout, author of Thank and Grow Rich

Good morning! Today is the day after my second chemotherapy infusion at Penn Medicine. I teach English Language Arts at Timber Creek Regional High School in Erial, NJ and our school moved to remote learning on March 17, 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions. I had previously scheduled some testing because I hadn't been feeling well, and on March 23, 2020, I found out I had colorectal cancer. 

This was obviously a pretty terrible discovery. My husband is a Camden City Firefighter and we have two beautiful, amazing daughters: Zoe turned 4 on April 2nd and Emerson "Emmy" turned 2 on March 27th. So we're quarantined with a 4 year old and a 2 year old, I have cancer, and my husband is an essential worker. Michael, my husband, is the only safe person to care for the girls, so I am getting treatment at Penn Medicine...alone. 

But...

When Emmy was born in 2018 we had just discovered that Michael had a, luckily non-cancerous, but still scary brain tumor! He had to have 12 hours of brain surgery on Emmy's 2-week birthday! Here's the silver lining, which is frankly an understatement: We have the most amazing friends and family. Back in 2018, my friends and colleagues  at Timber Creek rallied and raised money so that my best friend, Abbe Elliott, could organize a meal delivery service from Rent-a-Chef in Haddonfield, NJ. They delivered meals every Monday and Thursday for almost three months while I nursed a newborn, cared for a 2 year old, and helped Michael recover from brain surgery. 

So here were are again...

In the face of my diagnosis, Timber Creek has rallied again and we are again getting meals from Rent-a-Chef for the foreseeable future. Since I have so many people to thank, and I'm not licking envelopes during a pandemic or trying to write at a desk with my munchkins trying to steal my pen and paper, I will be posting thank you notes here, on my blog. My thank you posts will come in no particular order because I'm truly equally grateful for the biggest gestures and the smallest. I know there is not a single person who WANTS public recognition for their thoughts, prayer, gifts, emails, texts...etc. But, oh well. I am going to blazon the names of everyone who has helped me feel like a survivor instead of a victim. 

P.S. Fair warning: While I am an ELA teacher and I actually teach a grammar course, I will definitely not always be grammatically perfect on this blog; please don't judge. If I feel as if I have to check every grammatical element, this will feel like work, and I want to only feel grateful when blogging. 

P.P.S. I will likely be attaching links to non-profits that fund colorectal cancer research, in the future.