Finding Beauty in the Ordinary
News came. I was composed in the Doctor’s office. I was composed when I drove home. When I got home, THEN, I cried. Friends offered to be with me, but I needed time to assimilate to this recent disclosure.  For me, assimilation comes from creating through ArtWork & Words. And so, here at my computer I sit. I cried some more and then began to put down my thoughts and feelings. For I find, that when I fully express how I am feeling, I can then regroup and carry on. Why do I share myself with you on this Wide World Web? I share because the teacher in me believes in the power of sharing; for I know that what I share might help or change someone’s life for the better.  This has power.

The following is what I created:

I know my face is red from crying. I know my eyes are puffy and swollen. My head aches. And my heart seems broken right now. Physically, I have gone through so much already, and this is just another nail on the coffin.

Two thoughts came to my mind:
1. Things come in threes, and
2. How do I tell my dad?

I believe things come in threes and that once the third is reached, the cycle is then complete (yet, my recent fourth broken toe didn’t get this memo!! ***smile***).

Most people know the first scenario (all TOO well), but the following two are new to everyone. I’ve kept the latter two close to my chest for some time. Now, I need to share it, as it is beginning to feel like a burden I can’t carry alone.

1. For almost a decade, I have had a growth on my spine. It has been surgically removed, and has regrown. The neurosurgeons and medical specialists are perplexed. I am in constant pain and I have mobility issues. Continual medical procedures are being done in order to help me with my pain and mobility. I am grateful for all the help and support I have received.

2. From the surgery and the growth, I have nerve damage from my L5. I have recently encountered severe consequences to the areas that these nerve bundles serve. For the past two months, and into the future months, I will engage in numerous tests and procedures to help me in this matter. I am thankful for all the specialists for their work…and that I am Canadian and can be taken care of so well.

3. Today, it was confirmed that I have cancer. I had a feeling, but today with the biopsy results in hand, and the Doctor’s sullen face, it was definite. I will be in line for surgery to remove the growth and then I will be on another journey. Hints of mastectomy, treatment et al were given, but I will cross that road when I get to it. I am blessed for the immediacy that my Doctor and the Breast Centre Radiology (for all in one mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy!) acted.   

But it is the final aspect that causes me to be sad and scared at the same time. How do I tell my dad? My mom already knows, as she died from lung cancer eight months ago, and is watching over me. The last few conversations with my dad, I told him that I was having more procedures and tests done concerning the L5 nerve damage, as well as ‘other’ assessments and processes. This strong, unrockable, emotionless man had his voice quaked when he responded, “Oh…no…” I’m glad I didn’t share about the large, hard lump. I didn’t want to worry him more. I have only seen tears in my dad’s eyes twice. The first was when I left home for the first time, and when my mom died.

But it seems I will have to tell him.  Tonight, in fact, I will phone him.

Here I am a mature woman, and I am afraid of my dad. I am not afraid of his power, any longer, but I’m afraid that I will break him with this news.  My wish is that I will be able to convey that ‘it will be all right,’ to him, even though I am tired as hell from this physical battle.

So many emotions swim over me. I feel anger, frustration, pain, betrayal, anguish, fear and so many others. Yet even with this, and after writing this, I see and feel the love I have in my life. I am blessed with a wonderful family, friends, coworkers, students, community members and strangers who visit my site from around the world. I know I am not alone. This thing called love truly empowers me despite all the craziness that is consuming me right now.

I am blessed in so many ways.



aletha tatge
05/19/2015 7:03pm

I remember the numbing feeling I had when I wa diagnosed with cervical cancer. My heart is reaching out for you. I will pray for the peace that you will need during this period.
I'm here for you. I send you. much love

12/16/2015 12:14am

You are a brave woman. You are also selfless. You are still thinking of others even if you are in a difficult situation now. You were still able to write a good article to help others. You are indeed a teacher. How are you now? I do not know how to feel if that kind of news would be told to me. I know that you have thought of it but at the back of your mind, you are still hoping for good news. Reading your article made me think about my life now and to treasure what I have and live each day with a smile and still hope. I hope you feel better in some ways.

05/19/2015 7:10pm

My Dear Friend Barb.. My thoughts and prayers are with you to encourage and give you strength to fight this that is within you.. The Foot Prints Peom comes to mind where is God is carrying you through these difficult times... My love and Hugs surrounds you My Friend!!❤️

05/19/2015 7:38pm

Ms. Burns
Sending you big big hugs and please know you are in my prayers. It's been 13 years since I was in your class last, but I still remember everything about it. You were and still are one of my favourite teachers. Xo

Marilyn Johnson
05/19/2015 7:40pm

Dear Barbara, I alluded to my own physical struggle as the reason I was unable to join your latest art group, after registering to participate. As I am recouperating, I struggle with frustration, anger and fear as a result of serious complications arising from choices my medical team made. I have intended on writing about my journey in an attempt to educate and perhaps bring some meaning to the circumstance i find myself in. I have procrastinated because, I must confess, I've been choosing to wallow in frustration with smatterings of self-pity, and I don't want the anger to be what motivates my writing. Your blog has inspired me to move forward. I thank you for that. I am so very sorry for your situation but I am so thankful for your courage in sharing as generously and expeditiously as you have. As I move forward in my healing journey I will be thinking of you and this moment, and will be sending out thoughts of love and healing prayers to you. Stay strong and of good courage and I hope to have the priviledge of meeting you, in person, before too long. May blessings of peace, assurance and strength be yours.
Marilyn Johnson

05/19/2015 7:46pm

My heart aches for you and your dad. This is hard news, indeed. I am sending strength and courage in soft, loving packages. For both you and your father.

05/19/2015 7:58pm

I'm so sorry. I will be praying for you.

05/19/2015 8:27pm

I'm just as saddened and shocked myself to see you go through such Hell Week after Hell Week. The US Navy SEALs should award you with a double Trident to honour your toughness.
You are not alone Barb.
Its hard not to be in tears after re-reading this blog, it has shaken my world to be apprised of your new condition(s). Our Canadian Health system works; I have faith in this system - the docs WILL take great care of you Barb.
We, your friends, as a whole team will be praying for you as you embark on another week in the grinder. But rest assured you are not alone here - as you can see we are all huddling around you and sending positive thoughts, powerful messages of support and undying strength to you, for you.
My cheeks are wet with tears of sadness as well. But you will be strong and you will be the inspiration for all of us who are nowhere as mentally tough as you are.
Sending you blessings and deepest and best wishes my friend, I will be praying diligently for this new journey of yours. Peace babe !!

05/19/2015 8:36pm

Barbara, my dear, I have no words, right now, other than to let you know I have read your blog and am trying to process what you've had to say. My thoughts are with you and I'll be in touch once we've both had a bit of time. Love you . . .

Joseph Leavell
05/19/2015 9:02pm

barbara ... Thinking of you, with love.

05/19/2015 9:20pm

I heart and prayers go out to you.

05/19/2015 9:44pm

My heart goes out to you Barb. I know how you feel. A person can only take so much right!!! and you have had your share. The one piece of advice I can give you is let your emotions flow. If your mad be mad smash something oh it feels good believe me, if you feel like screaming scream. Try to focus on "not the what ifs" but what's right in front of you. As for telling your dad just it don't think about it. The one person I was so afraid to tell when James was sick was my son. That was the hardest thing a never had to do. And telling him his dad might died was the worst. But what I have learned is stay focused on the positive.... I know it's hard as hell. Hang in there I will be praying for you.... Oxox

05/19/2015 9:58pm

I am sad to hear your news Barb. I can relate to your situation in several ways. I too lived through many years of debilitating pain and breast cancer/mastectomy. So, if you want to have a cup of tea one day, then by all means give me a shout. I will keep you in my prayers for strength as you go forward from this spot. Wishing you the best possible outcomes!! ❤️

05/19/2015 10:07pm

Dear Barbara --- sadden by your news. Stay strong. Praying for you.

05/19/2015 11:21pm

Barb I am sending a big hug your way, my thoughts and prayers are with you. You are such a warm, caring and sharing person and reach out to so many people with your creativity. I wish only the best for you and if I can do ANYTHING please let me know!! Hugs to u

05/19/2015 11:29pm

Dearest barb, my heart is heavy for you. Sending prayers and love. Xo carlanda

05/20/2015 7:28am

Hi Barbara, so sorry to hear heart goes out to you and the difficulties you have had to bare and continue to suffer...Keep faith and lots of courage to you!!! prayers and love and may medical help and miracles bless you to full health!

05/20/2015 8:47am

Dear Barbara,
I am sitting hear crying for you. This is terrible news. I sometimes wonder why God chooses people to have great pain who have given and loved so much in their life. It is so frustrating that we do not know what is in store for us. I know this. I believe that there is a larger plan for all of us and we need trust that all is as it should be. This is at times unbearable. I cannot imagine how you feel, but I have faith that the one that loves us in in charge. I am praying for healing for you. Be strong. Sending love.

05/20/2015 11:58am

Barbara i am so sorry to hear your news concerning your cancer. I wish I was there to give you a huge hug! also share a few tears. My thoughts are with you as you go through treatment. You will find the people at the cross cancer institute very supportive as we did. Take care.

05/20/2015 9:46pm

Barb, I know of many people who have beaten this particular cancer even when it was left for a long time. I feel that God will bless you with a treatment that will heal not only you body but your soul. Take care of yourself and remember God is with you.

Catherine Holmberg
05/22/2015 10:22am

Dear Barb: Life seems to be kicking you in the teeth right now. I know that telling your Dad is going to be hard but you need his support. I know what cancer can do but they have so many new treatments that a cure is in your future. Be positive like you always are, remember your friends love you, if you need help CALL we will all be there.
I have a lot of books on CD's for the trips to and from Edmonton if you would like some let me know. Don't look for #3.

05/22/2015 10:29am

PS Barb I have a good feeling about all this - it is going to turn out OK.

Tricia Fuglestad
05/22/2015 8:45pm

So so sorry Barbara to hear of your troubles. Thank you for the bravery you show in sharing your feelings and struggles here. I am so touched and will pray for you.

Courtney (seamerias)
05/28/2015 9:29am

I'm so sorry Barbara. I really hope your recovery is quick and efficient. You are a beautiful person inside and out and I know you'll get through this. I hope your dad is taking the news as well as he can. Sending you lots of love! xo


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