cancer patient happiness 2014 stage four colon cancer survivor“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

Alfred Tennyson

My mother, she of the infinite energy and positive everything, gave my sister and me two beautiful Willow figurines this past weekend. Mine, pictured to the left, is called “Happiness”. A carefree girl smiles towards the sky and birds hang out on her sleeves. My mom’s kind wish and loving concern for me, her cancer-survivor-kid-in-hoping, came through loud and clear. I’m to embrace life and live it with abandon. Get reacquainted with the carefree girl. Arms open. Happy.

Life, even when you have much to be grateful for, can be just too messy and heavy and hard and exhausting and… there is a bird on my sleeve. Singing loudly. And she’s asking me to add words to her warbly sweet insistent melody.

Ok. Here is my list of words about carefree happy things heading into 2014. What are yours?

1. Lights on the Christmas tree.

2. Poinsettias that survive the Christmas purge. Sometime I’ll tell you about our first Christmas clean up.

3. A song played and sung with joy that makes you think maybe, just maybe, the courts of heaven open up and we’re all worshiping together with loved ones near and far, seen and unseen, when music is sung from the heart to the Creator. Can you imagine?

4. Snow shoes. I strapped on a pair that my family got me for Christmas and schlepped around the yard grinning like a fool. Happy fool.

5. Laughing or coughing so hard that you almost bust a gut. This is when your intestines twist painfully (the bad part) and then untwist (the happy part) because of radiation treatment. No, you shouldn’t try this. But you should laugh. Very hard.

6. Gift cards to Wegmans for produce. Love. Dear Wegmans marketing department. If you read this, I have room on my local Survivor’s Guide business directory for you. Will trade space for organic carrots and apples.

7. Tom making coffee in the morning. And getting the paper. And starting my car on cold days. And surprising me with a (gently used and in beautiful condition) elliptical.

7. A boss and co-workers that rock.

8. Christmas greetings from friends. I (hangs head in shame) sent not more than one. And my friends still love me. Thank you.

9. A daughter that does the dishes without being asked and uses her gift card to share Christmas with friends.

10. A hot-dog that barks and attacks the dust mop.

11. Family that prays. And calls and texts to say so.

12. A neighbor who shares apple and nut bread.

13. A quiet fire in the fireplace.

14. A God who promises to be here. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. And keeps giving a song.

Your turn. Arms wide. Eyes closed. Heart open. Deep breath. Face to the sky.

May you find happiness – or get closely reacquainted – in 2014.


Here is a link to an interview with Don Giovanni for Clear Channel’s Community Focus program in December. I appreciate Don inviting me to share about the cancer journey with his listeners: