Friday, September 9, 2011

Living Life Day to Day

[This is a special dedication in memory of Donielle’s friend, Shelli. After years of fighting, Shelli recently lost her battle with breast cancer. I had the pleasure of meeting Shelli when she joined us several years ago at the Sanford Relay for Life. Donielle always told us that “Shelli was her reason for doing Relay.” Well, now she has a bigger reason to continue. In Shelli’s memory, I know we will light a Luminaria at our next Relay. Plus, I know she will continue to “live on” in Donielle’s commitment to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Donations can be made in Shelli’s memory to ACS. In fact, making a contribution in memory of a loved one or friend is a wonderful way to make a difference. I am a team member of “Ellen’s Angels” -- I’m participating in the 2011 MSABC event on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. You can make a secure online donation by going to:
Thanks for your kindness. And thanks for remembering all those who have lost their battles to breast cancer and all other cancers.]
(This blog pertains to events that took place late May to late June 2003.) 
Living life and doing things in small increments is the only way I can handle anything at this point. It’s the only way anything makes sense to me. 
My Mom underwent a surgical procedure on May 31, 2003 to have a feeding tube inserted. Her thyroid cancer required intense radiation treatments that were now causing problems with her ability to swallow solid food. So, she had the surgery done and we (my brothers and I) learned how to care for her and how to do the tube feedings. I remained exhausted; it seemed that no matter how much sleep I got, I was still tired all the time. In early June, MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando celebrated Cancer Survivor’s Week. I attended a lovely high tea held on the 5th floor, also known as the chemo floor.  A simple activity like this was the highlight of my week. 
Edward and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary on June 6 by going out to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants. The steak dinner I ate made me happy, too. Going out to eat has always been something we all enjoyed doing as a family. This particular week, we also ventured out to a Chinese restaurant we all liked. Even when I had difficulties eating (whether it was treatment related or not) I still enjoyed going out to a restaurant -- ordering a meal, being served and then, having someone else clean up afterwards. From the time our children were very young, we had introduced them to a wide variety of foods and fine dining. They were comfortable in any restaurant and were never afraid to try new foods. Now that Brian and Adrienne were young adults, we could head out to any restaurant for a wonderful meal. A family event!
I received terrible news from one of my former Disney reservation center cast members.  My friend, Terry Ouelette, had lost her battle to lung cancer on June 11. I cried as I recalled how our friendship had grown, especially since Terry was there to help me through my first chemotherapy session. (See Blog #10 - Life Saving Chemo Treatments Begin, June 24, 2011) I immediately thought of her husband, Don, and other family members. I knew how much she would be missed by everyone who knew her. The loss I felt was deep and painful .. I had now lost a fellow cancer survivor. I began looking for answers, yet I also understood that “sometimes” there are “no answers.” Through my tears I continued to search for the “why.There is a wonderful book I recommend at times such as this -- When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold S. Kushner. I reached for my copy and began reading. Although I remained “upset” and “depressed” over the next several days -- and since her funeral would be held out of state, I held my own personal remembrance of Terry. I vowed she would “never be forgotten.” Every year since her death, I have lit a Luminaria in her memory at Relay for Life. With every candle, I say a quiet prayer that someday, soon -- there will be a cure for lung cancer. A cure for every cancer. And I continue to remember her and all she did to make my life as a cancer survivor easier.
Besides the loss of my friend, I had to deal with other issues including our upcoming trip to New York City for the Fringe Festival. In mid-June, Brian arranged a photo session with a professional photographer. The four of us gathered at his home studio for a morning shoot. We were there for about an hour, posing for the photo that would be our official Fringe poster. Trust me -- it was both frustrating and hilarious. Getting the four of us to look good for a single photo was a challenge, but eventually, we accomplished the goal. Edward would take the finished photo and create the poster, a project directed by Brian. These posters would be used to promote our show, so once we arrived in NYC, we would “plaster” these posters in every location possible. The “big event” was quickly approaching. Anticipation was running high throughout the household. The Feldman Dynamic would soon make its debut.

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