Category Archives: support

The Importance of Quality Time

We all get busy in life. Work, kids, family, dishes, laundry…the list is endless.  It’s very easy to get caught up in the routine of raising a family and just as easy to sacrifice quality time with your partner in the process.  Often, we find ourselves with a peck on the cheek as our spouse runs out the door to drop the kids off at school and you don’t reconnect until you lay your too tired head on the pillow at night. This becomes the norm, not the exception and somehow the romance is lost.

The most significant thing that the past 5 years has taught me is that it is important to take the time to nurture the relationship with your spouse. One day you might not have that opportunity.  It doesn’t have to be a week long vacation to the Bahamas (although that would be really nice).  It can be a twilight walk around the block or sitting by the fire pit with a glass of wine. Whatever time you can carve out of a busy day can be enough.

Every year we take one weekend in June to recharge our batteries and reconnect with one another. Believe it or not, my responsible, devoted husband used to be a die-hard adrenaline junkie! In his younger days, he raced Super comp Motorcycles (yikes!).  For the past four years, the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) has hosted a national event at our local drag strip in Epping, New Hampshire.  One live race, and I was hooked!  I am now a front row spectator with a favorite driver in every category.

race day

For this one weekend, we spend our days cheering on our favorite drivers and our nights outlet shopping and exploring new restaurants.  We stay at quaint bed & breakfasts and simply enjoy one another’s company.  We talk about whatever comes to mind – work and kids are off limits – and rediscover why we fell in love. The romance that falls lower on the priority list (but never forgotten) is a priority. My husband holds the door for me and holds my hand.   I look forward to this weekend for the whole year.

Take the time, whether it is a few minutes or a few days, and make sure you are connecting with the person you have chosen and who has chosen you.  The day will come when that opportunity is no longer there.

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Finding the right cause for me

I am a big believer in giving back.  There are millions of causes out there, and it’s hard to know which ones really invest in the causes you are passionate about.  There are regular Facebook posts and news reports related to the shady activities of charities that claim to raise money for worthwhile causes.  Some of those reports are more disappointing than others.  I am always disappointed when I see reports of funds being mismanaged by organizations claiming to support veterans and children. I wonder how people can exploit the suffering of others and still sleep at night.  I sure couldn’t!

Of course, over the past few years, I have been much more aware of charities that support cancer research and families who have been plagued by the disease.  I support several of my friends and family members when they participate in various Relay for Life events. can see how these funds are invested back into local communities and supporting them has been very rewarding.

Lately, I have been searching for my own cause to support and have finally found one that not only aligns with my personal mission to help eradicate cancer, but also encourages me to continue my quest toward being more fit in my 41st year than I was in my 31st year.  The Great Cycle Challenge raises money toward ending childhood cancers.  It challenges riders to commit to riding a set number of sponsored miles in the month of June.

Great Cycle Challenge

 

Right now I have committed to riding 100 miles, which is still a little scary to see in print.  Mother Nature is not being very cooperative in helping me to get outside to ride, so for now I will have to begin my training indoors on a stationary bike. I’m hoping, if my training goes well, to increase that number to 150 miles by June 1st.

To learn more about the Great Cycle Challenge or to support me with a donation, please visit https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/CameronGrant.  Even the smallest donation can help to save a life.

Everybody needs a little time away…

When I originally started this blog, I was proud of being the strong one.  I was the spouse who had held it together while our family turned upside down.  I worked full time, was pregnant with our second child, sat in on countless doctor appointments, tucked in our child and never missed a school event.  I substituted for dad during hospital stays and times when getting out of bed was just not possible for him.  I did it all with an unwavering faith that our time as a family was not up.  I KNEW we would beat cancer!  There was no other option.

Several months ago, I came to the realization that I was very capable of being the strong one, but much less capable of dealing with the actual sadness that accompanies illness. One night, after positive results from my husband’s fabulous oncologist, I realized that the only time I cried about everything we have been through is the moment we received his diagnosis.  From that day forward, I put on a brave face and soldiered on.  No matter what happened, I never waivered.  Not once did I let myself believe that we would not win the war the war with cancer. I never broke down. I never let myself feel.

Fair warning to all of the strong ones, being the rock eventually catches up with you.  For me, the moment of truth came from a friend’s innocent Facebook share.  A country music fan, she share the story of Joey+Rory, a duo who were also married.  Joey, the wife, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had gone home to pass peacefully with her family.  Her husband started a blog to document their journey (http://thislifeilive.com/). I couldn’t stop myself from following. I read about her slow decline from perfect health and viewed pictures of her bonding with their young daughter.  As the posts became more somber and it was clear the end was near, the amount of anguish I felt for this family and my own continued to grow.  I couldn’t help but think that this could have been us.  I could have been the one sitting next to that bed.  Our children came frighteningly close to having to say goodbye to their father. I recognized myself in Rory  – he is the strong one.

Joey Feek passed away this afternoon, at the age of 40.  When the blog updated and Facebook flooded with the news, I felt such an overwhelming wave of sadness and loss – for someone I didn’t even know.  Their story of love and heartache rang so true and real and so much resembled the bond that Dan and I share that for a moment, I was unable to separate the two.  All of my fears, all of the thoughts I never allowed myself to have flooded my conscious.  The tears that I never allowed to fall were unstoppable.

I had forgotten how cleansing a good crying jag could be.  This superwoman just remembered that she is human.

I am still thankful every day that our family was given a second chance at life.  I don’t recognize the life we had 7 years ago, but that’s ok.  I love our life as it is now and I will love our life as it evolves into something new tomorrow.

 

A Little Bit of Fun

Now that school is back in session, our weekends are usually filled with errand-running and other busy activities that give us very little time to just relax and spend time together.  Today, we decided that puttering around the house was a great idea.

Our 12-year-old daughter’s idea of relaxing is baking.  She definitely did not inherit this talent from me.  I loathe baking.  All of that measuring and waiting just drives me crazy.  I am a much more organic cook – a little of this, a pinch of that, a smidge of this.

Today she decided that she would relax by making sugar cookies from scratch.  I love baking when all I have to do is put the dough on the pizza stone and take it off.  Unfortunately for my healthy initiative, they turned out great!!!

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In case you are a baking-lover like my daughter or just want to try your hand at these great cookies, here is the recipe:

Sugar Cookies

2 2/3 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1 cup of softened butter

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 (350 if you are using a dark or non-stick cookie sheet)

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder into a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla using a mixer.  Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until completely incorporated.  Roll into golf ball sized balls and bake for 8-12 minutes.

Tips: If you don’t know how your oven runs, cook one cookie first to determine timing.  This way you won’t ruin a whole batch.

Also you can definitely bake these on a cookie sheet, but we prefer the texture created by cooking them on a pizza stone.  Not only does the stone pre-heat in the oven for more even cooking, the bottoms are a little crispy and the rest of the cookie is nice and soft.

After they are baked, you can definitely get creative!  Dip 1/2 in tempered chocolate or frost them with your favorite icing.  The possibilities are endless.

Enjoy your cookies and the weekend with your families!

Survivor Perspective

I have been thinking about this blog post for several days.  There’s something I really want to share, but not at the expense of offending anyone who we are fortunate enough to call a friend or family member.  One of the hardest things about being a survivor’s wife is learning a different way of communicating.  The Big C is a scary topic that most people don’t understand.  I know that questions are not being asked and comments are not being made maliciously, but I want to give a little perspective on the emotions and memories that those questions and comments can provoke.

On Monday, we attend a wake.  One of my husband’s very good high school friends passed away.  This was especially difficult for him because this friend was diagnosed with Leukemia around the same time he was diagnosed with Lymphoma.  They had a special bond because they endured months of chemotherapy at the same time and could commiserate about the experience.  Not only was my husband devastated by the loss, he also carried a certain amount of survivor’s guilt – the “why me” of remission.  Although he was determined to attend the wake and provide whatever comfort he could to his friend’s family, he also harbored the fear that people would look at him and silently ask “why did you survive when he didn’t?”.  I’m sure it wouldn’t have been intentional, but I can’t say I wouldn’t have done it had the situations been reversed.

We also knew that this would be the first time my husband would encounter some classmates and former friends since being diagnosed in 2011.  Everyone would want to know how he was doing.  Their concern would be genuine, but they would have no way of knowing that he couldn’t talk about it there.  Too many emotions were already swirling around in his heart.  He really didn’t have the ability to keep his emotions in check while discussing his own condition.

The moral of the story is, if you ask someone who has or has had a potentially terminal condition of any kind how they are doing and their answer is short, please do not be offended.  They greatly appreciate your concern, they are just unable to express their feelings.  My survivor does the best he can to talk about it when asked, but it is a difficult conversation for him.  The best gift you could give any survivor (or survivor’s wife) is compassion and understanding.  They will appreciate it always.

In the meantime, it is important to remember that life is precious; it is also very unfair at times.  No one should lose a spouse or a child or a parent at the young age of 42.  Treat every day is it was intended – as a gift.  You never know when it will end.

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It’s all in the perspective

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Saturday was an interesting day for us.  We woke up at the crack of dawn because my sister, mother and I had the fabulous idea that we should have a multi-family yard sale to purge all of the things we no longer needed and clear out some space for the holidays. I had mixed feelings about this, since selling these things, even to families who needed them, felt like selling memories.  I remembered the first time I took our 12-year-old daughter out for a jog in her jogging stroller.  I remembered changing our son into his first Red Sox outfit in the pack ‘n play.  It was definitely a nostalgic day for me.

After wrapping up a successful yard sale, we were able to check Facebook for the fist time all day.  Part of me wishes we hadn’t.  Our news feeds delivered the message that one of our survivor friends had lost his fight with leukemia in the early hours of the morning.  This news hit my husband very hard.  A high school friend, they had been diagnosed around the same time and experienced chemotherapy together.  They carried a bond that most of us are unable to comprehend.

I suspect that this loss brought a little bit of nervousness.  Even though he has been in remission for over three years, there are triggers that will cause him to become apprehensive about his success.  It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I’m sure that losing a friend is one of those triggers.

For me, this news put the items we sold into perspective.  Even though they carried tons of happy memories, they are just things.  The memories live on in our hearts.  It made me remember what is really important; the people who touch our lives and leave a positive, lasting impact.  Rest in peace our friend.  You will never be forgotten.

Quality Time

It is not often that my husband and I have “kid free” time together.  We are always jetting off to some school event or swim team practice or work related responsibility.  Today, I’m happy to say, we were able to take some time to be together and enjoy one another.

We started out morning by dropping our children off to other people.  Our daughter strutted her way to middle school in her very stylish skinny jeans and baggy sweatshirt.  She’s just like her mama in that she loves the fall weather. Wait until she realizes that this is New England and she will be back in shorts and a tank top tomorrow morning.

Our son went off to his day care provider, where he was convinced that the “letter of the day” would be O.  I love that he has 3-year-old concerns.  I also love that he is social enough to be confident outside in the world.

Children deposited, we picked up Grammy (my mother) and headed off on our adventure to The Big Apple, a farm in Wrentham, Massachusetts.  We have been going to this farm for the fabulous homemade apple cider and donuts since I was a young child.  It is one of my favorite places because it really does make me feel like a kid again.  Nothing has changed in the past 40 years and I love their dedication to the history of the farm.  The ever-so-delicious caramel apples don’t hurt either!

Big Apple Farm Store

If you ever get the opportunity to venture to Wrentham, it is definitely worth the detour.  Close proximity to the Simon Outlet Mall makes it a double positive.  Since I couldn’t convince my husband to make a stop at the outlets, we hit a couple of stores that were necessities, then had a leisurely lunch.  It was a morning well spent and it was nice to spend time with both of them without constantly being interrupted with “Mama, I want a granola bar” or “Can I go to a friend’s house?”

However, 2:30pm is fast approaching.  Children will be retrieved from their respective sites.  Life will go on as it has for the past few years in our “new normal” and I will cherish the few hours I had to feel like we were dating again.  It is important to take the time to support one another in your own relationship and nurture the bond, even in small doses.