Tips

The number one question I have received over the last year is actually an unfortunate one.  It usually starts with, “My friend”, or “My neighbor”, or “My father-in-law” has recently been diagnosed with XYZ cancer.  Then the questions come:  What were some of the things people gave you that were really helpful?  What can I do for him/her?  What can I give to aide with the effect of chemo?

As much as I love to help it’s strange.  It’s strange that I am now a ‘go-to’ person regarding cancer and chemo.  As much as I love to help it stinks.  It stinks that cancer is so rampant that it is effecting so many!

So I thought why not post something about it and then I would be able to point people to this post a lot easier than I could rewrite it each time.

First of all gifts for people diagnosed with cancer:  (These are things I found helped – remember this is my opinion and may not be a blessing to others)

  • House-cleaning:  My neighbors provided once a month house-cleaning for me for 8 months!  It was a huge blessing to my family.
  • Meals: I had a meal calendar that provided meals 3x a week for 8 months!  This was huge and allowed my family to eat a lot less fast food during this time.  Popular meal calendar websites that make this so easy are:  mealbaby.com & mealtrain.com.  If they don’t have a meal calendar or you live too far away to take a meal any restaurant gift card from Chick-fil-A to Chili’s to a steakhouse is very nice and helpful.
  • Yard Service:  If it’s during the season of high yard work providing even one month of yard care that mows the lawn and trims the bushes would be a huge help.
  • Carpool: Offer to help carpool children to and from school, PreK, and extra-curricular activities.
  • Snail Mail: Cards and packages were so uplifting to receive
  • Just Reach Out: If you can’t find a stamp just reach out.  Even a simple text message to say “I’m thinking about you today, how are you doing?” goes a long way!  All too often people think, “I don’t want to bother her” or “I’m sure she is sleeping” or “I know she has so many people taking care of her”.  Believe me: They want to be bothered.  Leave a message if they are sleeping.  They may not have as many people surrounding them as you think.

What about gifts if he/she is going through chemo?  I received two HUGE chemo baskets. (Here’s a picture of one of them) I actually brought one of them with me to each treatment.  You never know what you will want/need or how your body is going to respond to each treatment so it’s good to be prepared.  Here is what I would put in a chemo basket:

  • Bottles of Vitamin D, C, & E, Zinc, Biotin & Claritin (claritin actually helps with bone pain associated with chemo)
  • Bath petals/soap
  • Queasy drops/Peppermints
  • Hand sanitizer (multiple bottles for around the house – any visitors and family members need to be constantly washing their hands)
  • Pill Box (that has slots for 7 days morning and night)
  • Comfy PJs (or a gift card to Soma – they have the best ones and have great supportive camis and button down PJs for mastectomy patients)
  • Soft Blanket (it can get cold during chemo)
  • Mouth Wash (‘Prevention’ is a brand made specifically for chemo patients and helps with mouth sores)
  • Journal
  • Book: Chemo: Secrets to Thrive by: Roxanne Brown (can buy on Amazon – very short read, but lots of helpful info.)
  • Flavored bottles of water (chemo tastes like metal and flavored water is nice)
  • Water Bottle (preferably a glass one – I got a great one from Target) – drinking a lot of water during chemo helps it get out of your system faster and the side effects to not last as long.  (My cheer I would always say is, “Pee, Pee, Pee, Get This Chemo Out Of Me!”
  • Lemon Oil (I am a fan of DoTerra Essential Oils – I flavored my water with it and it’s a wonderful cleansing agent as well for your body)
  • Gripper Socks
  • Chemo Hats – the softer and more generic in color the better
  • Gift Card to Charming Charlie (or other jewelry/accessory stores) – when you lose your hair cute hats and long earrings become a girl’s best friend.
  • Zipper Pouch (think make-up bag) with the following ‘travel-sized’ essentials: chapstick, hand sanitizer, tissues, lotion, and tylenol
  • Gift Card to gas station (especially if they have to travel far for treatments)
  • Gift Cards to eat lunches and dinners (chemo can last hours and their infusion companion usually has to run out and pick up lunch and then you usually have to pick dinner up on your way home as well)
  • Adult coloring book and easy fiction reading (during chemo and the few days after you have a lot of down time resting where you don’t have much energy)

Obviously this is a lot of stuff and not all is necessary, but it is an extensive list that even one of these things would be a blessing to a chemo patient.

For the creative types:

  • A blessing ring: This was such a neat thing that I brought with me to all my treatments and still have hanging at my prayer desk. I’d read through the verses and pray for the people praying for me.  This is a picture of mine.
  • Personalized scripture bouquet: I was given this and have since given it to many others. Use the ‘find & replace’ feature in Word to replace the person’s name. Cut them out. Fold them up. Throw in a vase and tie a ribbon around it.  100ScripturePromisesDocument-Template
  • Fundraiser jewelry: Find a piece of jewelry you like on Etsy. Work with the creator and design something for the patient that means something to them. Take orders from their team of supporters and give the patient some of the proceeds. We did a cool pink leather wrap bracelet for a friend and they did a silver necklace for me.  Here’s a pic of the jewelry.

I hope this helps.  Feel free to leave a comment if there are other things you have given to friends that were appreciated or if you yourself are a survivor what you were given that blessed you during that time.

 

Sedona


A couple years ago Mark and I went on a vacation to Arizona. Neither of us had ever been to the state. We thought it was beautiful and we loved our time there.
One of our favorite spots we saw was Sedona. It was just majestic and brought a strange sense of peace even among its vastness. 

Well I would like to introduce you to our own little slice of that majesty…meet Sedona:

 

Choo-Choo Express

Each of my boys at one point in their life have been obsessed with trains.  Hamilton was probably the most intense and lasted the longest.  He went from Thomas the Train, to real trains, to Disney’s Chuggington, and then back to Thomas.  Luke sorta skipped the train phase, except for the Mickey Mouse movie (more on that in a bit).  Garrett loves the train table and was all things Thomas for awhile and now his go-to movie is the same Mickey Mouse one.

Disney put out a full-length feature movie on DVD called Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo-Choo Express.  Here’s a couple pictures:

I put two so you could see how the train works.  I don’t know if you can tell, but the train throws out the next piece of track one at a time from his mouth.  I have no idea where all the track pieces come from (probably some of that pixie dust Disney magic).  If you want to see it in action go here and watch the first 25 seconds of the video:  CLICK HERE

A scripture I would consider my “life” verse is:  “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Entertain my nerdiness for a second.  In my Key Word Study Bible I am able to ‘tease’ out the actual meanings of the words.  The Hebrew and Greek languages were so rich our English language cannot always do translation justice.  Looking up the words in my lexical aide in the back of my Bible can really add depth to the verse.  For instance:

plan: plot, consider, principal idea is that of thinking

course: way, route, road, conduct, way of life, physical pathway or journey

determines: be established, be firm, be prepared, make secure, provide, denotes bringing something into existence, “signifies the deep satisfaction and sense of well-being which comes from the certainty that the Lord directs man’s paths”.

The Amplified (AMP) version of the Bible says, “A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the LORD directs his steps and establishes them.”

I am a planner.  I’ve been a calculated soul my entire life.  You know this from my previous post and picture of my four-month whiteboard calendar.  This verse reminds me who is truly in control of my plans.  I’m thinking about the future all the time (it can be as little as what I will buy at the grocery store to my son’s upcoming birthday party or even much bigger like my future hopes and dreams).  These plans obviously determine the course I perceive my journey should take as well as directs the conduct of my life to help accomplish those plans.  BUT!  The Lord is who firmly establishes each individual step, that when I submit to it, brings deep satisfaction when I realize he has my well-being in mind. (Read those last two sentences again – don’t gloss over them).

So what in the world does the  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo-Choo Express have to do with anything?

Well, I was recently watching the movie with G-man and it hit me what a perfect example the train was.  I can ride on the train where I think I want it to go, where I have planned for it to go, but God is the one that is throwing out each individual track ultimately taking my train where He wants it to go.  One.  Track.  At.  A.  Time.  He brings the path into existence one track at a time.  He is never in any rush.  Never is surprised of where He takes me.  I just have to trust, surrender, and be patient. 

So take 25 seconds and click on the video link above so you can see the train in action.  Think about your plans; the little ones and the big ones.  Try not to look so far ahead.  Enjoy the piece of track He has you on right now.  Expect some right-on-time-surprises. Continue to plan (I know I will), but also experience the excitement and peace in that he has the entire track already fully prepared.  And when a track goes in a different direction than we expect will we choose to trust, surrender, and be patient?  I pray we will.