Sunday, April 21, 2013

"F" to the 4th power

Recently Dr. Mark, our dear friend and pastor of Old Stone Church, sent us a video of some of Craig's  friends from Johnny's Restaurant singing, "Don't Stop Believing!"  It made our day!  Yes, we are still going strong!! 

I responded letting him know we are doing quite well given F4 (F to the 4th power): Faith, Family, Friends and Food. 
More specifically: 

Faith: Church is the  highlight of our weekends. Craig is so grateful to be able to get up, get out and get to church. We took for granted this simple opportunity we had weekly and now embrace it!

Family: I don't know what we would do without them! Craig's little Angel, Jessica, keeps him young and entertained daily! She is her father and she is daddy's little girl! He has been getting out once a week with Joey, enjoying a movie which saves me from having to see any of the awful  Sci Fi movies out there! Thank you, Joey! My father and sisters keep me humored and I can drink vicariously through my sisters each weekend without feeling horrible the next day!

Friends: Now I understand why Mary Pat says she needs younger friends:) Craig is just one of the guys. Paul has surgery on something every other weekend, Kenny had open heart surgery, Dave just had back surgery, Kim's neck is a mess and may require, in the big picture, Craig is one of the gang!!  His freedoms and health are put into perspective each day given what every one else is experiencing.

Food: Craig told me he would have devoured me the first weekend if it weren't for our dear friend, Bick, who has been preparing our food weekly!  We are loving her creative meals and delicious desserts! Some  favorites include her banana-peanut butter ice cream made with only those two ingredients,  peanut butter cookies, hummus, pesto pasta (made with some special pasta) and every dish that has had tofu! Geez, I hadn't had tofu since my Grateful Dead daze, I mean, days.

I need to add a 5th "F" and that is Fun:  It's Weekend #3 (49 to go for those of you counting) and we are still having fun! We even like each other sober. We're not quite as entertaining, but likeable, none-the-less. We have gone to a Cavs game, seen a movie, visited with friends, gone to happy hour to see one of our favorite bartenders, Jill, drank vicariously through Bob, and shopped for much  smaller clothes (Craig is down 50 lbs)....we are just living the dream, living the dream!!! 

Craig feels good. He is working out, taking walks and riding his recumbent bike. He gets out each day, stops in at work, has lunch with friends, runs errands and is only napping a little bit each afternoon. 

We are blessed. We are grateful. And to the boys at Johnny's, we will not stop BELIEVING! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rested & Ready

"Rested and Ready"

As the Avett Brothers sing, and he believes, Craig is “Rested and Ready!”

We cleansed, lost weight and ate and drank things we could barely pronounce. 
And overall, Craig feels great! His 72 hours after the medicinal administration ended this morning at 8am. He did not feel any nausea or flu-like symptoms as we anticipated. He did  feel a  little bit of a “different kind of pain” in his back this weekend. We are hopeful this is the cancer falling off of his bones. Yahooey!

What originally seemed like a 72 hour  sentencing, turned out not to be so bad. 
After seeing my friend Mary Pat’s mother with a 75 foot oxygen hose, I encouraged Craig to look into getting something longer than the 15 foot hose that came with
the machine. The 50 foot hose that he found allowed him much more
freedom! He could actually get all the way up to bed, downstairs to his
nordicbike and outside to the patio. He was even able to enjoy the hot
tub Saturday night while wearing the oxygen tubes!  Most importantly, Craig
was so diligent about the amount of hours  he was on the oxygen, that he
banked up enough time to leave the house for church. That, was by far,
the best part of his weekend! Realizing that he can use the few hours he
is allotted off of the machine each month to go to church boosted his already
good spirits! 

So, though our lives have changed a bit, some things are still the
same. We enjoyed Happy Hour out on the patio drinking distilled water
and doing shots of wheat grass. We ate some delicious meals prepared for
by our dear friend, Bick, who is hired for the year (or maybe life) to keep us fed.
(Craig felt her meals were even better than Veigns at Crocker-WOW)  We
had guests (Anne, Michael, Bob)  join us throughout the weekend   for
vegan-like meals, smoothies or just shots of wheat grass. YUMMY!! 
So life hasn't changed TOO dramatically, has it? :) 

My role through all of this according to the Delta Institute is
to be Craig’s "Advocate." However, through my nagging and pushing him to get up
and away from the TV each day to exercise, I have seemingly been given other nicknames, like:
“Badvocate,” That’s when I nag too much. 
“Madvocate” That’s when he doesn’t listen to my nagging:) 
“Gladvocate” That’s when he listens to my nagging and does what I
encourage him to do. 
Actually, Craig started coaching me on the Bowflex and the two of us are enjoying getting buff together:) He  just may be the centerfold for the Believe Magazine...if there were a magazine!

We are grateful for a peaceful, nice weekend and look forward to the rest of our journey. I’m not even going to tell you how many more weekends we have of this new lifestyle...because I  kinda enjoyed it:) 

“Through believing you may have life in his name.” Dr. Mark Guiliano
April 7, 2013. Amen. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

                                             "Don't Stop Believing!"

That has been our theme since Craig's terminal cancer diagnosis in November of 2012. We have been overwhelmed with the love and support of our friends, family and our Old Stone Church family. About two months after Craig's diagnosis, his friend, Harry, wanted to have a surprise get together for Craig. Harry, his wife, Craig and I all planned a dinner at our friend's establishment, The Tradesman. An hour later, Craig was mobbed with love and support from about 70 people who entered the bar in a single file line to Journey's, "Don't Stop Believing!"

And so the Love Mobs began. We created additional mobs for others afflicted with Cancer including my high school classmate, Brigid, my dear friend, Shelley and my colleague, Jessica and her son, Owen. We made fleece blankets that were signed by the "mobsters," gave each person a copy of my "Love" book, and gave them a Love Mob CD  that my sister, Judy,  created which was filled with uplifting songs! The friends who were mobbed were overwhelmed with emotion and pleasantly pleased with the outpouring of encouragement and support. The Love Mobs were truly uplifting!

We were pleasantly "Mobbed" twice this past  weekend before our new journey began on Monday April 1st (new treatment plan that lasts a year and requires a very strict diet).  After I took Craig out Friday for a nice dinner at his favorite restaurant, Johnny's,  over 100 people join us in celebration again at the Tradesman. We were again uplifted by the love, support, kind words, hugs and encouragement. We had surprise visits from a long-time friend, Marie and Jessica  came home from college to support and surprise her father. We were greeted by long-time friends, new friends, church friends (Carl!!!), former students of mine and of course, our family! WOW! We are so blessed!

But the mobbing didn't end there! Our family and friends again mobbed us at church Easter Sunday. My sister, Peggy and Pastor Mark arranged everything and several pews in the front of Old Stone Church were filled with our loved ones! Both Craig and I were overwhelmed with emotions. That was by far, the most beautiful act of love and kindness that we have recieved, and we have been blessed with much love and kindness!!! Friends who don't even attend church, came to mob Craig. Our friend, Dann even brought his mother and sister! My father, three sisters and some nieces and nephews were present, as well. Pastor Mark made reference to Craig and this special Love Mob and even sang the main verse from Journey's "Don't Stop Believing!" Again, WOW! 

We are so grateful and blessed! We will not stop BELIEVING!!!  


Well since the onset of my husband's terminal cancer diagnosis in November of 2012, we have certainly shown that Believe is not our motto, but our lifestyle. Not only have we been blessed with so many friends and family who have given us love, encouragement and support to keep on believing, but, thankfully, that is just how we think, also! 

Although the two main hospitals here in Cleveland told Craig there was nothing they could do for him because the cancer was so far spread (bones & lymph nodes), we refused to give up. In a strange & twisted way, we ended up under the care of a new doctor who knew of a cancer treatment from Panama. We embraced the idea immediately. These Panama doctors explained to Craig that because he was stage 4 and because he had 10 radiations, they could only give him a 97% chance of full recovery. WHAT? That's 97 percentage points more than the Cleveland hospitals could give him! Yahooey!! The good news is, we don't have to travel anywhere to get this treatment. Everything is sent to our home as they believe home care is the best care for the mind, body and spirit! The doctor who told us about the treatment is overseeing everything to make sure we are doing it all right!

This program is quite intense and requires dedication and a loved one to advocate and watch over the patient. That's this girl, right here!! Since my husband has to be on a strict diet (somewhat gluten-free, somewhat vegan, high alkaline, no acidics and NO alcohol) for an entire year, I chose to join him for support. I didn't think it would be kind to be enjoying cake, cookies and Crown Royal while he's munching on fruits and veggies this next year! Now that's LOVE, right??!! 

So begins our journey. We began the cleansing on Monday. Today is Wednesday and I am down 3 pounds (back to my high school weight) and ready to eat the mulch in my flower beds:) I have never been on a diet, watched what I ate or abstained from alcohol. Craig is down 6 pounds. I told him that at this rate he will be down 730 pounds by next April:) This is going to be quite a journey, but very well worth it given the 97% chance of full recovery for my husband!!! Craig WILL be the poster child for BELIEVING! 

We are blessed!
 We are grateful! We Believe!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Laugh at your mistakes

Laugh at your mistakes....clearly, I have laughed a lot throughout the years! I am a firm believer that you have to be able to laugh at yourself before you can ever laugh at anyone else. I have a habit of pointing out my errors and poor judgment and turning them into elongated stories that I often times find humorous and hope the listeners do, also! I have so many favorite times where I messed up so bad and could do nothing but laugh about it.

One of my favorite mistakes took place a few winters ago. I was on my winter break and we had about a dozen guests come ski at our ski house at Holiday Valley, New York. A few times during the trip the topic of our return home came up. The group couldn't believe that I had to go back to school on the Monday after New Years.  They all had off until Tuesday. That Sunday I hurried everyone out of the house and back to Cleveland as I had to get home and get ready to go back to work the next day..... So, there I was sitting in an empty parking lot Monday morning looking at a very dark and clearly closed school building.  Apparently, I also did not have to return to work until Tuesday. I must have laughed for 10 minutes in between calling and texting all of the skiers and my family to let them know about my mistake!

This does take me to another funny mistake I made while skiing. (I told you I had a number of stories!). My friend and I were at that same ski resort many years earlier and while going up the lift, we saw a sign, "Open Restaurant and Bar."  Being a bit parched and hungry we perused the top of the mountain but to no avail. Back on the lift, we reread the sign and decided to take a right off of the lift and peruse that area. Well, this continued a few times until we finally asked the lift attendant where the "open restaurant and bar" were. He was confused at first until we explained we saw the sign going up the lift. Next thing I know, the attendant is laughing hysterically, eventually getting out that the sign says, "Open restraint bar" a directive necessary for proper lift exiting. Haven't stopped laughing at that mistake!!!

We all make them. Mistakes that is. It's ok to laugh at them! It's ok to teach your children that mistakes happen and not to get uptight about them. As long as you learn from them, it's ok. Live and Learn. Don't just Live.  Laugh!