Belle of the ball (game).

A belle is defined as a woman or girl admired for her beauty or charm. As in, the belle of the ball. Well,  allow me to introduce the Twin Falls Belles.

 These girls define the word belle in every way. My niece plays for the team, while my brother-in-law coaches, and my sister manages or, in other words, runs the money and stresses out over a lot of emails and intense parents.  I’ve been really into watching them play tournaments whenever they are close to Idaho Falls. I have been so lucky. The tournaments I have attended all fell on chemotherapy weeks so going kept my mind off me and made it way more tolerable.

However, nothing could have prepared me for the most recent tournament here on Idaho Falls.  When I showed up to drop the girls and Eric off for their first early morning game on Friday I was confused when they were all wearing pink uniforms. Karen hadn’t said a word and my niece left the house dressed in gray. It wasn’t until the head coach turned around and showed me the back that I really understood.  The team had a breast cancer ribbon wrapped around a softball with the words “battle for Mary” printed on the ribbon.  I cried!  I didn’t cry for me, although I was touched, I cried because this had been done to honor my sister.  While I love these girls and they have truly lifted my spirit at some very difficult times, they were showing the most tender mercy to my sister who gives all she has to everyone she can.  I wept all the way home to pick her up, wondering how I was going to hide my crying. Luckily, she was in such a hurry she just yelled at everyone to get in the cars and we were all off. Oh, she cried too!  She cried when she saw the team, knowing it had all been coordinated by the coaches and parents. Then, mom cried.


The girls played the best game I have ever seen them play. The first game they played, they were there to win.  The other team could hardly get on base.  I was a bit confused when the last batter hit a double and they called her in to the dugout. Then, I realized that the game had been called because they were so far ahead. My precious niece had killer hits in every game.  She was amazing.  All of the girls were.  The final game they played was a close one.  The loss was tough to swallow but the girls went down with a fight. They played like they never have before.

To those girls, I say: “you are true belles. You have scored a run in my heart that will be talked about long after you play for other teams.  You are beautiful.  You are charming.  You will forever be the belle of the ball game.  I am so grateful for the act of dedication to the way you played that hot day in July. Thank you for recognizing my sister and loving her.  You give me hope that there are still great people out there.  You are wonderful girls and you will make amazing women.”

I wouldn’t have guessed that a 14u softball team could touch my heart so profoundly but they have left their mark.  If life was to be measured in statistics, I would hope that I can have a few RBIs like the one these girls have scored.   May I be as dedicated to lifting the hope of others as they have been to lifting mine.  Go Belles!!!!

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Life’s Infusion Room

I would like to express that chemotherapy is not bad but the Infusion Room at EIRMC is not big enough.  I went over this morning, same as always, to find all six bays full.  That’s not all.  There was a nice couple, whom I met yesterday at my blood draw, finishing up their antibiotic infusion in the entry of the door.  Just a bit further in, next to all the supplies, there was a nice lady getting treated for kidney infection.  After talking with the stressed nurses that were clearly trying to manage everyone, Josue and I decided to leave for an hour and return when they projected an open bay.

Marina, Maximo, and I returned 70 minutes later to find the same couple from yesterday, the kidney infection lady, a good-looking vet with an infection in his knee, and an older lady with hot pink pants on.  We jumped in line.    The available chairs were next to the kidney infection lady.  Turns out that my kids got a good chance to practice their people skills and learned some new vocabulary.  Kidney shared her stroke story and my kids were so nice listening and asking polite questions.  The only weird part was when she complimented Marina’s “thongs.”  Marina had no idea what thongs were.  I had to rephrase her statement using “flip flops.”  My kids are still laughing at that word.  I can’t wait until they figure out what the word thong means now a days.  That will be a real education.

Anyway, chemotherapy is kept in the hospital in the form of a brick.  So, when I arrive and the nurses from infusion order it from the pharmacy (located in some hidden place in the hospital because I have never seen it and I have been all over this place).  Pharmacy, once the order is placed, begins breaking the chemo brick down into a liquid form so that it can be shot into my veins.   Apparently, this brick was made by some fairy with a vengeance to still time from the average person because it takes forever.  From the time they made the call to the time it was delivered in the biohazard double bagging, it took 2.5 hours.

While I love talking to all the people in infusion, and I adore the nurses (truly they are the best in the world), I would rather be doing something else.  Good things come from being in the hospital that long.  Marina has started to talk about wanting to grow up and be a nurse and Maximo talks about being a doctor.  These are both promising professions.  Plus, I have met some pretty cool people.  In just one day, I got the Hot Vet, Kidney, and Hot Pink Pants…all good stories.  Each one of them has their reason for being there and their life outside of the Infusion Room.

None the less, the days best humor came from my sister, Ann.  She sent me a text “happy tree sap.”  I laughed when I realized you can put a comma anywhere in that text and it just gets funnier. For example: “happy, tree sap” or “happy tree, sap.”  Teresa stopped by with her kids to keep me company a while.  That was awesome but, again, there is a space problem.  Teresa’s two kids are sitting on each other while Maximo stands and Marina sits on Teresa.  We were crammed in the smallest of all bays.  It makes for a cozy visit until the nurse has to wedge in to shut off the IV pump and remove my port access.  

So what does infusion really do.  It pumps a highly toxic chemical into my body that requires the nurses to remind me that I shouldn’t be around people for the next few days, when I just sat squeezed into a room with people that are only there because they are sick. Oh, the irony of it all.  They still time from my day so that I can have more years.  Chemo kills my cells so that I can live.  I guess the Infusion Room is a miniature model of live.  We pay our costs to have out benefits and hope we got a good deal.  I’m pretty with my deal.  No major complaints (wink, wink.)

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Roles We Have

The transition from our old life to this new one is not as easy as you’dplanner think.  We had our old routine down.  I knew when I worked.  Josue knew when he worked.  Our kids knew the daily grind of it all.  This one is not that way.  We scheduled things and then medical changes happen.  We can plan out our week, do a regular blood test on Tuesday and by Thursday I’m getting a call for some test that will inevitably come out negative but will take the standard million hours to do because of the way hospitals functions.  It has made committing to anything very difficult.  Then, Josue and I find ourselves discussing how guilty we feel that we don’t commit.  We have become those people.  The ones that want to be there but never are, or we randomly show up when we the schedule actually stayed open but nobody was planning on us so they have to uncomfortably make room.

fatigue 1fatigue 2Then there is the fatigue!  Imagine going to bed around 9:30 pm, waking up about 7:00 am, and feeling like your body is made of led because of how heavy it feels to lift.  After 9 1/2 hours of sleep, you are still exhausted.  The worst part of the fatigue is that it is the only symptom that has a gradual onset.  It sneaks up on you.  It creeps in and does not creep out.  Running and other activities help but starting them is extremely difficult.  There is no motivation because you never feel rested.

Throw in the never ending feeling of numbness in you feet.  Neuropathy is stupid.  I view it as completely unfair.  My big toe on my right foot has not been felt for weeks.  I can press it into the floor and feel the pressure in my nerves further back in my foot but not on the actual toe.  Wait!  I lied.  It has been feltPeripheral-Neuropathy1.  When I run, somewhere between mile 2 and 2 1/2 I can feel it.  Oh boy, can I feel it!  My feet will start to sting.  They get that familiar feeling that everyone knows.  It the one that happens when your feet fall asleep from sitting on them too long.  It’s the one where you know it will hurt to move them but if you do the blood will start to circulate and they will feel better.  Only, in my case, they just have the hurt feeling because the nerves are messed up.

Some days I wonder where I fit.  Most days I just don’t want to fit anywhere.  The transition doing a lot to feeling like you do nothing has mentally beat me up.  My kids are awesome at reminding me that they love having me home, even if I’m not as active as I was.  Josue is great at coming up with things to do and keeping us active.  I know this change is a good thing and the transition is good but that doesn’t make it any easier.  I’m grateful for the things I have recognized as needing changed and taking more of an active role in my home life.  I am really grateful for that blessing.  However, suddenly I find myself having to redefine my identify outside of home.  I helped build a little program at work and now it is time for it to restructure without me and that is sad.  I love being a counselor.  I am passionate about working with people but cancer has decided that isn’t my main role for the time being.  I guess my new adventure is learning to master the roles I am being given now.

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Weightier Matters

Ender's Game

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.  I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.  And then, in that very moment when I love them…I destroy them…”  These are the famous words of Ender.  They sum up so much of what I wish to share.  They are profound.  Take time to identify your “enemy” and you’ll see what I mean.  Is it my family members, my co-workers, my neighbors, myself?  Define enemy: a thing that harms or weakens something else; a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.  Now, again ask yourself about your enemy?

The problem I have with myself is that I don’t really understand weig10 kght.  Yep, I said I don’t understand weight.  There are two definitions. 1) A body’s relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it – the heaviness of a person or thing.  2) The ability of someone or something to influence decisions or actions.  I believe we are always confusing the definitions.  We end up placing them on the wrong issues.  Allow me to expand.

Atlas, from Greek mythology, was a legendary Titan. He was in a lot of stories, including a story with Hercules. Atlas led a battle of Titans against Zeus which lasted for ten years. Eventually Atlas was singled out by Zeus and forced to hold up the heavens as a special punishment.  There aatlas holding the worldre several images of him holding up the world or carrying “the weight of the world” on his shoulders.  It is the symbolic image of man’s struggle with internal turmoil.  How often are we weighed down by this feeling?  Actually, I find it ironic that a feeling, something that bears no actual relative mass can create such heaviness because of the influence it plays in our decisions.  This cancer inside of me is probably one of the heaviest things I have ever carried, yet, it mays next to nothing.  It pulls at every part of my life and the lives of those around me.  It is pulling them toward a vortex, an endless hole of despair that really doesn’t exist because the Plan of Salvation leaves to place for it.

Nonetheless, I continue in the same pattern of thinking that I have always had.  It is a pattern similar to many.  I believe that gravity’s pull on my body is more important than my spirit’s.  I beat myself up over what the scale say about, pretending that this number measuring pounds or kilograms defines my character.  I highly doubt that when I am face to face with the Savior he will ask my weight.  help scaleHe may ask well I took care of the body He gave me but I can’t see Him asking for a number.  In spite of knowing this, I frequently assassinate my soul for not being physically correct.  As a result, my weight problem becomes even heavier to carry.  In turn, I punish those around me by making sure they experience the same misery I feel by vomiting my emotional weight all over them, sometimes even blaming them for the way I feel about myself.

How, you might ask, does this relate to Ender from the beginning quote?  I am finally, at age 38 getting to know my enemy.  I am learning what I want and what I believe.  I am beginning to understand how I love myself and quite frankly I have not done a good job at loving myself enough.  In the past 6 months (yep, it has been almost 6 months since the first doctor’s appointment), as I have confronted the idea that I am enough…me, Mary, this girl is exactly the way the Lord intended her to be, flaws (or delayed blessings as Elder Eyring calls them) and all.  Ironically, as I have been working to understand myself and relinquish the pain-staking idea that I have to be perfect inside and out, I have not only felt lighter, I have become lighter.  I’m not trying to lose weight anymore.  I am trying to acknowledge the weightier matters.  I thought, at one point, if I didn’t look a certain way then Josue would leave me for another woman.  He didn’t, despite my efforts to convince he would be happier.  I thought, at one point, being the best at my job would make me more desirable.  It didn’t, despite my countless lost hours away from home.  Turns out, that when I allowed others to accept me for who I am, the way I am, I like me better and the weight of the world melts away.  Businessman with the World on his Shoulders

I would encourage everyone to take a hard look at themselves.  Ask how your enemy is destroying you and seek to love yourself at a level that becomes indestructible.  Let those around you love you the way you will learn to love yourself…the way the our Father in Heaven loves each and every one of us.

 

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3 doctors in 3 days

It has been a pretty interesting week at the Barreiro house.  Maximo broke is middle toe on his right foot. He has it in a “buddy cast.”  For those of you that don’t know, that is simply what they call it when you tape one toe to the other. Maximo thinks it’s pretty cool until he has to go to sleep at night and slows down long enough to feel the ache. 

I ran a couple extra tests for the oncologist this week. I started experiencing pain in my chest muscles and made everyone nervous. Who am I kidding, it freaked me the heck out. Turns out it’s a side effect of my chemotherapy and should start going away. I was just worried about another tumor but it is exactly the opposite.  The chemotherapy is working well enough it starts to over do it and they may reduce the dosage. That could be really cool. 

As if Maximo and I having trips to the doctor wasn’t enough, Josué found himself in the emergency room after a late night soccer game.  He displaced his little finger and has to see a specialist to fix a ligament. He’s wearing a little finger mold for 10 days.  Seriously,  it’s a good thing we have insurance. We keep Idaho Falls doctors employed. 

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