Sunday, March 28, 2010

Goodbye Dad

My father died peacefully on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. Here's my eulogy
My Father's Eulogy

My name is Marcy, and for those who don't know me, I am Ron's only daughter. That said, I was probably responsible for most of my dad's gray hair.

I'll admit that for awhile I had a reputation as dad's wild child. Of course, that label stood in stark contrast to the way friends and family viewed my father. Whenever people spoke of my dad's character, they would often use the word, integrity. I looked up the term and according to Webster's Dictionary, integrity is the quality or state of being of sound moral principle. A person with integrity is honest, sincere and his actions are consistent with what he says. That would be my dad.

For as long as I can remember, my father would tell me you can do anything you want in this world, but you have to work hard for it—you HAVE to make sacrifices. He told me a dream come true wouldn't be joyous if it was simply handed to you. He said good decisions were the bricks that built good lives. On the other hand, if you made bad decisions and didn't live up to the expectations put upon you, there would surely be consequences.

I experienced that first hand when I was eight years old and my father shook my second-grade report card in my face and exclaimed that a D in math was simply unacceptable. I tried to reason with him by saying, I hated math, but I did like to read and write, and promptly noted the Bs I received in those subjects on my report card. I told him I wanted to be a writer, so what was the point of learning math?

He retorted that sometimes you have to work at things you don't like, because a well-rounded education would be essential to my success when I grew up someday. Since my teacher told him I failed to learn my multiplication tables, he made it his mission to teach every multiplication table--backward and forwards--that weekend. From sun up on saturday morning to late sunday night he drilled me with flash cards. 6X6 is 36is 24 blah blah blah. By Monday morning, I felt as though all those multiplication tables were branded into my brain for all eternity

About four years ago I was faced with a career transition, and I had to move from the world of publishing to the profession of sales. And when you're in sales, you've got to know how to increase numbers. I interviewed for a job with Reed Exhibtions and part of the hiring process entailed that I take a two hour test without the use of a calculator. I sailed through the reading and writing part. When I got to the math questions, my brain went into auto pilot and I answered the questions with relative ease. As it turned out, I got the job. That's when I realized dad was right. You have to have a modicum of education to get ahead in this world.

But dad wasn't all about teaching stern lessons to his kids. He had a lighter side, too. One of my first memories of my dad was of him taking me home from my grandparents house on one of those bitter, cold winter nights that Minnesota is famous for. The heat was blasting and the radio was in full volume.We listened to the Grand Canyon suite and he narrated the symphony, telling me the story of a donkey plotting up and down the canyon and finally racing back home. Then he'd change the channel and we'd
both sing along to Frank Sinatra's tune, It Was A Very Good year.

Dad loved music of all genres. He loved it when I'd play The Beatles song Michelle on the piano, and mention that he'd originally wanted to name me Michelle but there was already a Michelle in the Bruch family. He never got over the fact that I took Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water album to Florida and claimed it was his.

More recently at my home in Connecticut, I found him sitting alone in a dark living room singing along to Linda Rondstadt's rendition of the song What'll I Do. In that respect, he was just like his own father. In fact, over the past seven years when my mom and dad spent summers with me, I'd catch glimpses of both my grandmother and grandfather in dad's behavior. He could watch the History Channel solitarily for days by himself, which was just like his mom. Then he'd go out and have a cigarette in the front yard and do a meet and greet with the neighborhood. A radio announcer came to the door offering tapes of rare Norwegian music to my dad. The little boy next would always ask me when he was coming back to visit. That's when I saw Grandpa Bruch in Dad.

When I posted the news that my father passed away on Facebook, I received three heartfelt messages from our cousins in Norway—Ivar, Torleif and Randi. Randi message read: We are very saddened by your father's passing—we have many fond memories of him. Like my grandfather who got off the train in Denmark and was greeted by grandmother's family like a rock star, my dad reveled in the companyof my mother's Norwegian relatives.

Dad always wanted to lend me a helping hand in Connecticut. I would bring home Ikea furniture and he'd spend days putting together a bookshelf or hanging a light fixture. He was very slow and deliberate, reading the direction putting together a piece, then going out for a cigarette. 10 days later the project got done, but Mom would say hey it got done and it was done right. My dad's mantra was that of a turtle: slow and steady wins
the race.

One of the last memories I have of my dad was last December when we brought my brother back from Boston after his knee surgery. Tom and mom when in one car and dad and I drove in the other. Once again it was a cold winter night and the radio was on full blast, but this time I was driving. He started telling me stories of my great grandmother Bruch, who I had never known. He told me about grandpa Bruch's eccentric sister Aunt Clara, and Uncle Slim. He reminisced about spending summer's with his beloved grandma Christiansen and Grover as a child. By the time we got back to Connecticut, I felt blessed to have spent that three hours with him in the car.

During the last trip dad took to Connecticut last Christmas he told me about how he had become engaged to my mom right before he left for Army training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He bid a farewell to my mother at the airport. It was September and one of the top hits on the radio was September Song.

For those of you that attended my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, they sang September Song together and we've got the tape to prove it. I told my mother we should play it at his memorial service. I chose the Willie Nelson rendition because it has slowww, and steady tempo that is so characteristic of my father. Here's my father's letter to my mom.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hello Spring

I love Spring. When I see the daffodil buds breaking through the thawing ground, and savor the taste of the first crop of asparagus and strawberries, I feel a sense of renewel. I want to discard my black slacks and wool sweaters and wear the colors of spring blossoms: fuschia, hycanith, and yellow.

It's time to open the windows and let the March winds sweep out stale air. Spring hales the awakening of nature. And with that, I can't help but want to change along with the the season. Out with the dreary days of cold. In with the fresh scent of spring!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Time Out

10 Ways to Cut Yourself Some Slack
Give Yourself Permission To Recover During Treatment
By Pam Stephan, Guide
Updated April 01, 2009

Any type of treatment you have for breast cancer can wreck havoc on your schedule. Going to treatment sessions, having additional tests, and keeping track of the paperwork makes dealing with cancer like having a part-time job! Meanwhile, you may still be working, taking care of your family, and keeping up other commitments as well. You need a break -– no, make that several breaks! Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to take special care of yourself. Here are some suggestions, several of which came out of my breast cancer support group.
While in treatment and recovery, give yourself permission to:

1. Just Say No
Saying "No" may make you feel guilty. You may be one of those people that gets asked to chair a committee, give a baby shower, or go out on the town. Perhaps you want to do all these things, but it's crucial to save your energy. Just say no to anything or anybody that will use up strength you need to cope with treatments, side effects, checkups, and recovery. You'll feel better if you rest and take good care of yourself.
Proton Cancer Treatment

2. Take Snooze Breaks
Take naps when fatigue hits. Set up a space for napping with comfortable pillows and covers. If you like, make a sign for the door that says: "Executive Nap In Progress - Do Not Disturb!" Try playing meditation tapes or soothing music to block out distracting sounds. Take that stuffed toy that someone special gave you and curl up for a rest. Let fatigue float past, while giving your body and spirit time to recover.

3.Veg Out
Maintain a healthy diet and let someone else cook. During treatment, eat the best diet you can. Go ahead and raid the health food store for organic choices, and be sure to check out their freezer for prepared meals. Remember to go easy on red meat and potatoes, but load up on cruciferous veggies, fruits, juices, legumes, and fish. Drink plenty of sugar-free fluids, and stay well-hydrated.

4. Get Away
Take a day or evening off and do something really enjoyable. Visit a spa, a garden, or take in a concert. Going for a weekend trip, even to a local hotel can lift your spirits. Sometimes a change of scenery or a visit with friends and family can make a nice change. It's a nice way to focus on nature, people you love, or places you enjoy, rather than thinking about your treatments.

5. Be Real
Just be sick without pretending you're actually fine. Summon your support people, hand over your usual chores, and go lie down. If you place few demands on your body during recovery from treatments, your inner resources will have a better chance to recoup and repair your body. You will feel better, and the folks who keep offering to help get a chance to step in and take care of you.

6. Ask For It
Ask for help with laundry, housekeeping, and driving. It may be hard to ask, but people really do want to help you. Laundry can go home with Louise, housekeeping can be done by Harry, and Doug or Diane can do your driving. Greta can shop for the groceries and pick up a movie or library books for you, too. If you have neutropenia, you don't need to be out in crowds anyway. Get a strong friend to do the heavy lifting and gardening. Your job is to fight cancer and recover. But your friends may need you to ask them to do this, or they might not know that it's just that simple to help out. Go ahead -- ask for it.

7. Go With The Flow
Cry when you feel like it with or without a sympathetic shoulder. Get out the tissues and go ahead and let the tears flow. It can be cathartic and renewing to have a good cry. Maybe you've been the strong one thus far. But if you're dealing with cancer, you may have thoughts and emotions that just naturally overwhelm you. If your best buddy or a good sympathetic person is nearby, let them comfort you. It's a good release for both of you.

8. Keep Good Vibes
Avoid negative people and situations –- now and after you finish treatment! You know who I mean: the people with breast cancer horror stories, the ones that say, "My cousin just passed away from that last week." Let those attitudes and lack of sensitivity stay with them; don't absorb their negative vibes. Either let loose with some good snappy comebacks or your own, or develop selective deafness. Better yet, appoint someone else to answer your door and screen your calls, admitting only those you choose to interact with.

9. Party On
Celebrate small victories, and rejoice when you have a good day. If your blood counts are close to normal, if your appetite is good, or your energy levels are bouncing back, celebrate! When you get any kind of good news, rejoice. Share your good news with family, friends, and supporters. Enjoy every day that you feel well.

10. Feel The Love
Show love to those whom you truly love. Be willing to receive love from those who care for you. If there's someone that you care for, but have never told him how much you love him, don't hold back. Say those special words now. Write that letter, put together a scrapbook, place that phone call. Tell them, show them, love them now. Make every day count.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Zumba Rocks

So in my quest to gain my pre-cancer fitness, I decided to start elbowing my way into the ever-popular Zumba classes that take place at my health club. I knew I was on to something big when I got kicked-out of the first class because I failed to register the previous day at exactly 5:00am on the website.

It turns out the only way you can get into these classes is if you get onto your computer promptly at five minutes before 5:00am the day before a class. You have to register within five minutes, otherwise you're kicked on to the waiting list. That's the only way I got into the class today.

What I love about these classes is the diversity of women lined up like they are in rehearsal as back-up dancers for a rock concert tour. Seriously, in front of me was your typical 20-something size four babe with blonde hair extensions. Right next to her was a plus-sized black woman. Behind me was a group of gray-haired ladies that were clearly grandmothers.

And then there was me, a middle-aged blonde sporting a blue-and-white Nike sneaker on my left foot and orange-and-white sneaker on my right foot. When I noticed some class mates staring at my feet, I just smiled and said: I'm trying to start a trend. Hard as I try, the dizzy blonde in me still comes out.

Oh, and for the record, Christina Applegate was right. Reconstructive boobs are like embedded granite rock cemented into your chest. They simply do not bounce or jiggle no matter how much you jump and down. And I think that's a good thing. Dr. Ott said I didn't have to wear a bra. But old habits die hard. When I saw her I had a bra on. She said: That's okay, they'll just stay higher longer over the long haul.

Anyway, as a former ballroom dancer, I brushed up on my latin dance moves, with cha-cha, mambo and meringue routines. It was a blast. When it comes to burning calories, the eliptical machine just doesn't compare.

So if you want to burn fat and have some fun, check out a Zumba class!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cancer Changes Everything

The first two months of this year have been very stressful due to the demands of my job. I'm in sales, and, unless you've been living in a cave, the recession is still alive and well in this grand country of ours, the USA. If you happened to be selling advertising, it's one of those extraneous expenses for businesses, that is the first to get cut when times are tough. Now I'm spending twice as much time to simply maintain the numbers I had a year ago.

I feel as though even if I worked around the clock, 24/7 I would still just keep my head above water with my performance. As a cancer survivor, my health has become a big priority. I'm trying to build up my immune system, which means I need lots of sleep.

The stress has me tossing and turning all night. When I am sleep deprived, I am not as on top of my game during the day. It becomes a vicious cyle. I'm not performing well and I lose sleep. The next day I can't perform well because I'm sleep deprived.

Come Friday night I crash at 9:00pm on the couch, and don't wake up until 11:00 am on Saturday. Perhaps I should have taken disability during my cancer treatments. I am tired, worn out and in desparate need of a vacation.

I want to honor my health after this two-year ordeal with cancer. I sometimes wonder if I would be better off taking a less demanding job with a salary so I can continue to heal.

What if my cancer comes back due to all this stress? I would be very angry for choosing to cave into the pressure of work over taking care of my health. Before I had cancer, this dilemma wouldn't exist. Cancer changes your priorities, your outlook, and that in turn changes your decisions.

Is it better to put your financial security or your health first?
Right now I'm pissed that all these demands have been put on me. I desparately need to get off the race track and take stock. I deserve it after what I've been through. But I can't say: Stop. I can't do this anymore. This much I can do; when the weekend rolls around, I sleep, and let fun take precedent over house work if I feel my spirit needs it. At least then I can focus on letting my body heal.

Monday, March 1, 2010

How To Boost Your Immune System After Cancer

How to Boost Immune System After Cancer
By Valencia Higuera

eHow Contributing Writer

Article Rating: (0 Ratings) Boost Immune System After Cancer
Flickr Living with cancer is devastating; oftentimes, cancer and cancer treatments weaken the immune system, and sufferers become prone to infections. However, there are different ways to boost the immune system after cancer. By boosting the immune system, the body produces additional white blood cells, which in turn help the body fight infections and diseases. Here's what you should do.

To boost the immune system, eat small frequent meals every three hours, increase vitamin C intake and try to relieve stress. Here are additional tips:

Step 1 Get plenty of rest. Lack of sleeps weakens the immune system. In turn, you're more likely to develop a cold or flu. Find ways to reduce stress (regular exercise, natural herbs), and strive to sleep at least eight hours a night.

Step 2 Adopt healthy eating habits. Fruits and vegetables contain plenty of antioxidants, which are necessary to improve the immune system after cancer and fight infections. In addition, protein (found in beef, chicken and eggs, to name a few) promotes a healthy immune system, wherein a diet low in protein weakens the body's defenses.

Step 3 Lose body fat. Being obese or overweight slows the production of white blood cells, which can weaken the immune system. To improve your immune system after cancer, attempt to maintain a healthy body weight. Decreasing your body fat by 5 to 10 percent makes a significant difference and increases the production of antibodies.

Step 4 Limit your sugar intake. Excessive sugar suppresses the immune system, and the body cannot effectively fight infections. Improving your immune system after cancer improves your overall health. To accomplish this, choose healthy snacks over candy and other sugary treats; drink water or natural juices instead of sodas.

Step 5 Take vitamin supplements. If unable to boost your immune system with diet and healthy eating, consider vitamin supplements. Supplements include vitamins E and C, zinc, omega-3 and selenium, which are proven to improve white cell production

Diet That Supports Health and Healing During Cancer Treatment

Diet to Provide Nutritional Support for Cancer Treatment and Recovery

If you are a patient undergoing cancer treatment, it's more important than ever to eat a healthy and nutritious diet. Your body is working overtime to fight the cancer, plus it's doing extra duty to repair healthy cells that may have been damaged from chemotherapy and radiation.

Cancer treatments - especially chemotherapy - can take a toll on your body, draining your strength and appetite. To help build back your immune system incorporate delicious whole foods, which are easy to digest, with their rainbow of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Foods that are rich in their cancer-fighting antioxidant values. Start by eating lots of protein. You can get it in a variety of tasty foods. Also include foods rich in vitamin C, D, E, carotenoids, selenium, soy isoflavones, amino acids, folic acid, l-glutamine, flavanoids, calcium, and other nutrients. It's also important to make sure you drink lots of water and get enough calories in your diet. Your nutritional needs may change during treatment. After surgery, or radiation to the abdomen, head or neck, you may need to adapt to a liquid diet and work your way towards a soft food diet before getting back to your regular foods diet. You may also need to adapt to a lactose-free diet, and or high protein diet during chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Great Herbs and Spices to Eat to Support Pre and Post Chemotherapy & Radiation Patients:













Great Foods to Eat to Support Pre and Post Chemotherapy & Radiation Patients

Since cancer treatment may dampen your desire for food, you will want to eat tantalizing and nutritious, whole foods that will spark your appetite. They'll boost your energy and sense of well being while giving you the important nutrients you need to help in your fight against cancer.

Vitamin C (Protects cells, prevents certain cancers)

Cabbage, red
Kiwi fruit
Peppers, bell, red
Tangerines & other mandarins
Vitamin E (Neutralizes cell damage)

Brazil nuts
Sunflower seeds
Vitamin D (Preventative)

Carotenoids (May inhibit the growth of cancer cells, research shows that cancer patients respond very well with vitamin A)

Acorn squash
Collard greens
Corn, fresh
Peppers, sweet
Sweet potatoes
Selenium (Is a powerful anti-oxidant)

Brazil nuts
Rice, brown
Sunflower seeds
Soy Isoflavones (May protect against hormone related cancers)

Soy products

Folic Acid (Is essential for proper synthesis and repair of DNA)

Beans, dried
Bok Choy
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage, savoy
Peas, fresh
Lycopene (Inhibits prostate cancer)

Grapefruit, pink

Fish Oils (Reduces inflammation)

Ginger (Promotes circulation and energy. Aids in digestion and absorption. Is an anti-inflammatory and helps greatly with nausea)

Flaxseed Oil (Reduces inflammation)

Flavanoids (Helps stimulate enzymes in the body that combat cancer cell growth)

Grapefruit, white
Catechins (Neutralizes free radicals)

Green tea
Calcium (Reduces the irritant effects of bile acids and fatty acids in the colon)

Beans, dried
Bok Choy

Please use this as a list when you go grocery shopping!