My husband wrote a beautiful blog about our life.
“God didn’t create cancer and he didn’t inflict it on Mary. He didn’t desire that it ruin her or that it wreck our life but, ‘[He] intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.’ (Gen 50:20)”
Happy 91st Birthday!
Born on March 10, 1920
Georgia Hazel Stanford was the fourth child of nine siblings. At the age of fourteen, her mother died from complications of childbirth. The eldest, Gertrude, took the baby and raised her as her own. Her two older brothers were already out in the world, married, and in the military.
Being the oldest child in the house, she became the mother. She was forced to drop out of school to take care of her four younger siblings. At the age of twenty, she married my grandpa, Aaron Stubblefield. She was tired of being a mother and housekeeper; marrying was the only answer to get away from her father and her life.
Grandpa was one of six siblings. He had a third grade education. He was definitely smarter than the average bear. The day after they married they moved to Battle Creek, Michigan in pursuit of work. They lived in a small room at their Aunt’s house. They only had .25 cent to their name. They had initiative, ideas, dreams, and the work ethic to make them come true. They worked at restaurants and started learning the craft. At the age of twenty-two my grandmother had her first child, Rose Marie. My grandpa decided that he was ready to go into a business of his very own.
They moved back to Jackson, TN. At the age of twenty-seven, she birthed my mother, Mary Margaret. They opened seven restaurants, the basic meat and three, over a span of twenty years. One included management of a hotel. They retired in their seventies. Grandpa passed away on October 23, 2002. He was suffering from bone cancer and kidney failure. His passing changed our family forever, the humor and optimistic outlook on life was largely gone.
Grandma still has mostly black hair (never dyed). She is mobile and her mind is good most days. She has broken her back, shoulder, hip, and has bounced back better than most in their nineties. She has a personality like no other. You will never doubt her feelings toward you; you’ll know whether good or bad.
She is my grandma.
She is amazing.
I have recently read Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. As a project of personal exploration, I will blog my way through the 77 tips contained therein. It’s like Julie & Julia except I am cooking with cancer. Read the Preface for more information.
Tip #1 Create a Cancer Posse.
I think this is the most important of all the tips. It is also the one that we have failed to do with my mother’s care. If I was ever in her situation I would want to implore this step most of all. My mother has led a life of isolation. Her parents drilled in her head that you have no true friends and that you can trust no one. Her support system told her that if she would just get right with the Lord that her cancer would be cured, that if she confessed all of her sins and prayed hard enough that this punishment (cancer) would go away.
She was told that all of her friends including members of the church would stop inquiring about her because of her inability to do things for them or participate in church activities. I had to keep telling her that it was okay that she wasn’t able to go to church and that there was no way that she would lose her friends because she was sick. If anything they would become much closer, I thought. Little did I know, the world is not the shiny place with pretty rainbows that I had imagined it to be. We lost contact with the church, friends, and some family. It became apparent that we were once again on our own.
So now I am beginning to form a co-survivor posse of sorts. It would be great to find some others that are in their mid to late twenties that are caretakers of parents with stage IV cancer.
Tip #2- Find and Visit a Personal Refuge
Lovers lane cabin in pigeon forge. Three days of quiet solace, love, and rejuvenation.
My mom’s personal refuge, however, is Disney World. Due to her illness and lack of funds she is unable to go. We are currently trying to plan our last trip there together, but this time we will have my husband, Chase, with us.
Other than that my mother lives in a box that is her living room recliner. Years of unwillingness to accept that she has cancer, she has chosen not to take advantage of all that life had to offer. Now she is confined to the box because she lacks the physical strength to do anything else. Long-term chemo and cancer itself have worn her down so much that even if she stopped treatment, the deficit would remain.
Tip #3- Create a Sacred Place
This is yet another amazing tip that we have not done. It would be more accurate to say that we created spaces of chaos, spaces that in no senses of the word ever be considered sacred or calming. My family teaches that any emotion whether good or bad should be bottled up and thrown away. If we had no emotions then there was not a need to cope.
At the beginning of all this, I would get so frustrated with everything that just before I was about explode, I would get in my car and drive for an hour or so.
What else was I going to do? I was in high school.
It was a time for prayer, reflection and solitude.
A time that I embraced God’s peace.
Tip #4- Remove These Words From Your Daily Speech: Maybe, Sure, I don’t Know, (and- this is the best one-) You Decide.
“Cancer isn’t killing me, it’s just forcing me to grow up.”
This tip is hard for me to relate to. These are the main words in my vocabulary. They make up my state of mind.
Confession: I am voiceless.
I let others dictate my life.
“Is life to short too be taking shit, or is life too short to be minding it?” Violet Weingarten
I am trying to find my voice before it gets lost , before I give up on it. Most of my life, I have viewed it as selfish to take care of myself at all. I have come to the realization that I have to take care of myself so I can in turn take care of others.
It is time I learn when to say “no” to others, and “yes” to myself.
Note: You can buy Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips here.
After about a decade of becoming a cancer expert, I have developed a need for expression. A need to share our experience. Therefore, a blog is born.
One month ago we were able to go home (Nashville), and meet a Twitter friend. It renewed my hope in a world after cancer, and a current place of happy existence. He helped me to realize, I, Donna Livingston have a story.
He told me a few books to read, that might inspire a certain style of writing. Immediately upon returning to our current place of residence, I filled up our Amazon.com cart with those books. I also searched for cancer related books that you normally wouldn’t find on the waiting room bookshelf.
I felt inspired. I felt happy. I saw a tiny speck of light at the end of my ever falling pit of depression.
This first book that I read was Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. Amazing. Inspiring. Not your ordinary cancer book.
I will be blogging through each of the books I read starting with this one. Giving you helpful hints along with sharing pieces of our decade with cancer.