Baby Abigail and My Marathon Runner, Sandy

29 04 2008

Last night I had a nice long conversation with my niece , Karla, concernng her daughter–baby Abigail.  Karla and her husband have been taking turns staying at the hospital for 24 hour shifts.  Karla was at the hospital and was holding Abigail while we talked.  Of course Abigail was tied to all kinds of wires but Karla said that she was smiling and moving her hands and legs quite a bit.  So very much has transpired over the course of twelve days.

Abigail’s entire life has revolved around invasive medicine.  She wouldn’t have lived even one day of her life without modern medicine.  She has DiGeorge disease–a very rare condition which attacks certain chromosomes of the body.  It has targeted Abigail’s lungs in a big way.  Karla has spent hours giving Abigail breathing treatments.  And when Abigail ends up in the hospital–so many invastive treatments are necessary to keep her alive.  Tim and Karla are sad to see their baby live like this.  In fact, they witnessed the horror recently of seeing how the ventilator was put down Abigail’s throat.  That had much to do with their recent decision of not allowing anymore invasive treatments.

Because of their decision–Abby is now able to receive care from Hospice.  She will becoming home in a few days.  If she has a crisis again, Karla can call Hospice.  They will send a nurse to determine whether her crisis is of the nature of DiGeorge disease or whether it is an unrelated ailment that can be treated as an out patient.  If Abby is having one of her bouts with her lungs–then the hospice team will make her has comfortable as possible.  If she can’t beat the crisis, Abby will die in her own home surrounded by her family.  Tim and Karla are at peace with their decision.

For right now, they are enjoying  their time with Abigail.  Constance, an older daughter, told me how Abigail gets so excited when she and her brothers visit Abby in the hospital.  Abigail can’t sit up on her own but she likes to grab the hair of her brothers and sister.  Evidently, she is a very happy little girl when she is not battling with her lungs.  So continue to pray for little Abigail and her family.  In the midst of our serious conversation, Karla and I managed to find some funny things to talk about.  It was so good to hear her laugh.

On another note, Sandy, my oldest daughter ,ran in her first marathon on April the 26th.  It was the Music City Marathon in Nashville, Tn.  Sandy enjoyed running during her high school years.  She participated with her high school’s cross country team.  I well remember going with her one Sunday afternoon to her high school and she walked her path with me–so that I could understand what she did.  She explained her goals to me.  When I would be teaching at the junior high next to her high school –it was fun to see her practicing with her team when school was over.

Sandy decided to start running again about a year ago.  She has developed friendships with other runners and had targeted time each week to run with her “buddies”.  Since December of 2007–she has been on an extensive training schedule.  Sandy is a busy Certified Public Accountant–so to manage a consistent running schedule has taken great discipline.  She is an amazing young woman.  I’m very proud to be her mother.

Sandy and her friends entered the half marathon.  There were about 25,00 participants.  She ran a little over a 10 minute mile and placed 8,500.  I thought that was a wonderful accomplishment for her first try at a marathon.   Sandy has her eye on continuing to run in small races and working up to running the entire Music City Marathon next April.  We will be supporting her in every way that we can.  So congratulations, Sandy!

God bless each of you!



Holy Week, Baby Abigail and Another Birthday!

22 04 2008

This is just a short post to say a little about a few things.  First of all,  in the Christian Orthodox Church–this is our Holy Week.  We have prepared since March the 10th for this week.  Each week has had a special lesson for us.  We had our Palm Sunday on the 20th.  It was an amazing celebration.  After our Divine Liturgy–we each took a palm and made a procession outside.  Our family won’t be able to attend the services each evening.  However, we look forward to driving down Saturday night for Pascha Service.  When it is over–we will celebrate with a huge feast.  We’ve been invited to sleep a few hours at the home of one of our church families.  Then we will drive back to Kentucy on Sunday morning.

David Web (my brother) has just written an update about Abigail on my recent post concerning her holding on to life.  It is great news and I hope each of you will check out his comments.  She is still with us.  Many prayers have been said for this beautiful child.  Thanks so much for reading about this little gal and praying for her. 

Last of all, I just had my 56th birthday on Palm Sunday.  I can truthfully say that cancer has changed my life in so many ways.  I had no clue a year ago the new adventure I would be taking.  Nor did I ever imagine that I would have started a blog.  That is so unlike me.  I’m basically a very shy person.  So this has been a growing year.  Thanks to all who have been with me thus far.

God bless each of you!

Baby Abigail Holding Her Own

19 04 2008

Although the ventilator has been taken off of little Abigail–she is holding her own.  They are still tube feeding her.  She has been tube fed since her birth.  An xray some hours after she was taken off the ventilator showed an improvement in her lungs.  They will not take any measure to save her life now except to keep her comfortable.  However, baby Abigail seems to have a strong will to live.  Please continue to pray for her and for her family.  This has been so stressful on my niece and her family.   Thanks!

God Bless each of you!

Some Astonishing Discoveries

18 04 2008

My breast cancer journey started near the end of October of 2007. At that time I knew for sure that I was a third generation breast cancer patient. However, I never really knew the details of my maternal grandmother’s cancer. I had it in my mind that she had her cancer way before I was born in l952. Some new information came to us in the form of letters that my grandmother had written to my mother while we were living in Detroit, Michigan. Join me now as I explain our recent discoveries.

Our internet service has been down a great deal these past thee weeks due to our internet company upgrading their services. Vera has become very interested in family history. With her frustration of not being able to continue with her internet searches-she started looking through boxes of letters and other documents that were in the attic. Now, I thought that I had read each letter that my grandmother had written. I certainly missed the two letters that Vera very excitedly brought to me while I was sitting in my favorite chair reading.

Grandmother wrote two letters to my mother telling her about her cancer. In the first letter she writes: “I am going to see my doctor Wednesday morning and it is almost certain I will have to go to hospital for an operation. My dear, it is a lump in my right breast. It is growing. I’m not too worried-really why should I be? The good Lord has been my support and stay through the years and I know He will not fail me now. I have failed Him but know He will not fail me.” That letter was written July 3, l960. Another letter was post marked July 18, l960. In that letter she writes: “I was operated on July 8th and came home on July 15th, one week later. I got along just fine. God is so good to me. Jack and Majorie are looking in on me and I am up and down. I have to go to the doctor tomorrow for an examination and a new dressing. I have been needing this operation since early last fall.” Grandmother didn’t want to go into detail in that letter. She implied that she would tell my mother the details at another time.

The word cancer was never used in grandmother’s letters. I found out the reason why in my cancer support group. We had a visiting oncologist with us recently. I asked him: “What are the greatest breakthroughs you’ve seen in the past 10 years as an oncologist?” Before he related the past 10 years, he gave some background information. He told us that patients were not allowed to know that they had cancer in the l960’s. It was all very hushed up. Cancer patients even had cobalt treatments and yet didn’t know they had cancer. The family of a cancer patient was given very sparse answers. And yet, my grandmother had to know that her breast being removed was cancerous. Especially since her own mother had died of breast cancer.

And that is the next astonishing piece of information that Vera found out for me. I was sitting up in her room Tuesday evening waiting for American Idol to come on. (Yes, I admit -I love that show) Vera said to me: “Your great grandmother Susie died on her 63rd wedding anniversary.” I think I said: “Really-how did she die?” Vera went to work and found great grandmother Susie’s death certificate on Right on the certificate it stated that she died from carcinoma of the breast. Vera and I were dumbfounded. We never would have imagined that breast cancer would have been the cause of her death. In fact, Vera would have never delved that deep into Susie’s death -if I had not been curious. We talked about our finding during all of the commercial breaks.

The conversation went something like this: “Well, that means I’m a fourth generation breast cancer patient. Who needs to do any genetic testing-four generations says it all. I think I better have my other breast removed. But I don’t want to have another operation.” Then Vera would say something like: “But you have to have surgery. God had a reason for us finding this information.”It has been a real struggle since I found out about great grandmother Susie. One minute I ‘m ready to have the operation. Then the next minute -I’m thinking that we have great ability to detect cancer these days-so why bother. It is a tremendous battle. I see my surgeon next week. I’m tempted not to tell him my findings. I know that he will insist that I have surgery if I reveal to him that I’m now in the fourth generation category.

Meanwhile, I’m grateful that my grandmother’s life was spared. One year after her breast cancer surgery-we moved to Kentucky to live with Grandmother. She was very instrumental in shaping my life. I learned much of my character training from my grandmother. Grandmother never had another problem with cancer that I know of . She lived to be 84 years of age and died of heart failure.

Please think of me as I make my decision about possible surgery . I’ll let you know what my surgeon says.

God bless each of you!



Baby Abigail

18 04 2008

Blogging is a wonderful hobby.  However, it is not my top priority in life.  I’ve been away from my blog for almost two week due to circumstances that are more important than my hobbies.  I hope to be back to blogging at least twice a week soon.  Just bear with me.  If one is new to my blog–I have about 90 blogs that can be read. 

I wanted to share a little about my great niece who has been extremely sick since her birth in December of 2006.  She was born with no immune system.  After several months–she was diagnosed with Digeorge disease.  Baby Abigail has been tube fed her entire life.  This past winter has been tough for Abigail .  She has had pneumonia a couple of times.  Now she is currently in the hospital again with pneumonia.  My niece and her family have decided to take her off the ventilator because she can no longer live without one.

I talked with Abigal’s mother about thirty minutes ago.  They have made the decision to let Abigal pass.  It was very emotional talking with her.  We cried but also rejoiced that Abigal will have eternal life in Christ.  Please pray for this precious family.  My niece and her husband have five other children.  My niece is the daughter of my brother –who goes by the name David Web on my blog.  Pray for David and family.  It is hard to lose one’s child.  It is also extremely hard to lose a precious grandchild.

When I’ve heard from my niece later today–I will post a short note about Abigal’s passing.

God bless each of you!



My Dad, Part 2

7 04 2008

Life kept getting stranger for our family. We lived in an upscale neighborhood , yet our standard of living was declining. My dad bought a barrel of flour for my mother. We no longer had store bought bread. Mother made biscuits for our bread. Our food became extremely simple. I longed for the regular food that Mother had once made. The prize out of that barrel of flour is that mother did make cookies. She made oatmeal cookies and some type of chocolate cookie made out of cocoa. I know that my brothers would agree with me that we missed store bought bread.

There was a double standard in our home. Dad kept a shelf of goodies just for himself. He kept a loaf of bread and some whisky in that cabinet. I knew better than to touch dad’s precious hoard. Dad also got to be overbearing with us. Regular chores became our assignment. Now ordinarily this is a good thing for children. However, dad was very strict. He would check the dishes we washed and often he made us do them a second time. Dad was particularly harsh with my oldest brother, Phillip. Phillip had to do much of the yard work. Dad actually made him use scissors to trim the edges of the grass.

I came to dread it when dad was at home. He constantly picked at us, or he would tease us in inappropriate ways. I didn’t know until I met up with my dad again later in life that he had left the car industry to explore being an engineer with plastics. One of my brothers just recently gave me more details of that era. It seems dad was working with a company called Renard Plastics which had ideas ahead of its time. The company folded. Later, from my mother, I learned that my parents borrowed some money from my maternal grandmother in order to survive. It was about this time that our lovely home was put up for sale.

One day we woke up to find every curtain in the house drawn. My dad ordered us to be absolutely quiet. I kept asking my mother what was going on. She never really answered me in a truthful way. My dad was trying to keep the company that financed the dining room furniture at bay by darkening the house and acting like no one was at home. His plan didn’t work long. Soon people were at the door to come seize the furniture. No explanation was given to me and my brothers that day. I just knew that our family was in trouble and that I felt a weight on my shoulder that no six year old should ever have.

I started first grade in that neighborhood, but by October, our family moved to a rental home in Birmingham, Michigan. It was a large two story grey house on 14 Mile Road. Dad was an insurance salesman by this time. Since our nice dining room table was repossessed, dad made a dining room table that was very basic just so that our family could have something from which to eat.

Despite the chaos of our family life, mom still tried to create a somewhat stable environment by taking us to church on a regular basis. At the time, she was in the process of learning how to drive, but did not yet have a driver’s licence. Therefore, some of my parent’s familiar friends picked up my mother and us children. When we would return from church, dad always had a big pot of something cooked for us. However, it was not always to my liking. For example, one Sunday he had cooked a pot of fish stew for us.

Dad was overly dramatic in his discipline of us. This was a carry over from his father who was harsh with him as a child. One of my dad’s favorite punishments for us children was to wash our mouths out with soap. I remembered how one day he washed my mouth out with soap because I had wrapped up some food that I didn’t like in a napkin and dropped it under the table. He also did other cruel things to us children. For example, he once shaved all of Phillip’s hair off and beat him with a leather belt. Mother constantly tried to intercede for us and be our advocate, but my father would rarely listen to her.

Soon I noticed that my parents were not socializing with their long time friends any longer. Their friends would occasionally check on my mother but would have nothing to do with my father. My father was starting to dabble in a fringe religious group and had made a whole new set of friends. One weekend, my dad bought all kinds of goodies for a party that he was having with his friends. There were mints, nuts, cookies, finger sandwiches and good things to drink. I got excited because I thought that the goodies were for us, too. However, Dad sent us upstairs and enjoyed a party with his friends. We were never allowed to have any of the leftovers.

Despite all of this, I still loved my Dad. I longed for his approval. I longed for our family to return to the kind of living that I had once experienced. It was not to be. Life became an unending maze of strange happenings. My premonitions of my dad and mother divorcing were not so far fetched. The severing of our family was just around the corner.

Herbs for Life

5 04 2008

I just want to make a disclaimer before I start this blog. I’m not a doctor or a professional of any kind. Always check with your doctor before starting any kind of new program. And most of all don’t go off any medications without the help of your doctor.

 I call myself an herbal apprentice. Last June of 2007, I had an overwhelming desire to learn more about natural medicine. I knew that my priest and his family had studied natural medicine for a decade. So I asked my priest’s wife if she would lend me some books from her own personal herbal library. She was very happy to do that for me. I also went to our public library to see what they had on herbal studies. Little did I know how important this journey would become for me since near the end of 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

One of the books my priest’s wife loaned me was : HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN by Rosemary Gladstar. It is a very interesting read but involves a great deal of knowledge in how to make homemade recipes. I did find Gladstar’s book for a $1.00 on It is a reference that I hope to use more when I move out of the apprentice stage.

My library had a book entitled EARL MINDELL’S HERB BIBLE. This book is written in language that most anyone can understand. I particularly like his section on the top 100 herbs. He tells you how they work and the proper dosage to take. If there is a necessary caution for an herb-he tells you. He has a section on the history of herbs and a section on just how herbs work in one’s body. Here is an excerpt: “The living cells of plants can be likened to miniature chemical factories. They take in raw materials-carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight-and convert them into useful nutrients. Oxygen is a by-product of this process. Many herbs are rich in compounds that are pharmacologically active, that is, they exert a profound effect on certain animal tissues and organs. Therefore, they can be used as drugs in treating, curing, or preventing disease. A plant may consist of several components including leaves, roots, fruit, flowers, bark, stems, or seeds. Any of these parts may contain the active ingredients that give the plant its medicinal properties.” I also looked for his book on  and found it for a $1.00.

About midsummer I visited a little bookstore in the country. This little store is in a home. My eyes caught the title of a book entitled: PRESCRIPTION FOR NUTRITIONAL HEALING by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. I bought the book for $23.00 dollars. It is a very extensive work. The book contains three parts. Part one is entitled: UNDERSTANDING THE ELEMENTS OF HEALTH. Part two is entitled: THE DISORDERS. Finally part 3 is entitled: REMEDIES AND THERAPIES. I have used this book a great deal concerning my breast cancer and my osteoarthitis. I particulary enjoy the section on herbs. Like Earl Mindell, Phyllis Balch gives exact doses and all of the cautions that are needed. I would imagine there are some copies for sale on It is worth a try to find a good used copy if money is tight. This is book that I will use the rest of my life.

I have found two great sources to buy my herbs and vitamins from. In my research last summer I came across an herbal company that has been in business since l987. This company is based in Oregon. They try to run their company with a zero tolerance for waste. Nearly all of their products are organic. The average price for a bottle of herbs is $9.50. Each bottle contains 100 capsules. I think that is a terrific price for an organic herb. The web address is  www.mountainroseherbs.comThis company also does international business. I also buy many of my vitamins and some herbs from a chiropractor in my church. His products are very high quality. His business is called Myostar and he can be reached at

Today, I’m only on one prescription which is my cancer pill. For the rest of my disorders I take vitamins and herbs. I take green tea, curcumin, wormwood, cloves, black walnut and various vitamins for my cancer. I take nettle for my allergies. For occasional respiratory problems, I use capsules which contain a blend of the following herbs: pleurisy, slippery elm, wild cherry, plantain, chickweed., horehound, licorice, mullein, kelp, ginger and saw palmetto. For my osteoarthritis, I take cod liver oil, calcium with Vitamin D in a capsule ( three times a day) and the herb white willow bark for pain.

My search into natural medicine continues. This winter, for the first time in my life, I have not gotten the flu or bronchitis. I strongly believe that good natural preventive medicine helped me. From time to time, I will try to post as I make progress in becoming more knowledgeable about natural medicine. In the meantime, I hope my resources will be the beginning a healthier lifestyle for my readers.

God bless each of you!