The “Overcoming Adversity” Bloghop



The idea is the brainstorm of fellow blogger Nick Wilford, and he hopes to create a very special anthology to put on sale via Amazon. He intends to take the proceeds and put it towards a college fund for his stepson, Andrew. If you don't know Andrew, he has cerebral palsy and is coming to the end of his time at Stanmore House School in Lanark, a fantastic place that he has attended since joining the nursery class about fifteen years ago. Nick and Andrew have had to overcome mountains of adversity to get where they are today, so Nick would like us to write something in that vein: overcoming adversity for something you believe in. It can either be a flash fiction piece, or an episode from your real life. Poetry is fine too.

Here are the simple rules:

* Sign up on the linky list (where you can also find the other participants.
* Please keep your entry to 500 words
* Please post on either Monday 4th or Tuesday 5th February
* I'd better say, keep it family-friendly! I'm sure it will be anyway.


I have to say, the timing of this bloghop couldn’t have been more appropriate for me. I don’t know if my offering will fill the requirements for Nick’s anthology, but I had to participate none-the-less.

December 21, 2012 was predicted to be the day the world ended. Not many people took the prophecy seriously, so for most people the day came and went like so many other lazy Friday’s. But unfortunately the Mayan’s were correct about something, that circled day on the calendar did change my life forever. It was then that my beautiful wife…my best friend…my true north…my divining rod…was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was the day we were introduced to real adversity…and it spit in our face.

I won’t say that life up until then was a bed of roses, I mean we all deal with a certain amount of strife day in and day out, but I didn’t choose the name of my blog – Cruising Altitude -- for no reason. Me and my wife had endured the turbulent take off and subsequent climb through relationship issues, financial constraints, family growth (loss), and minor medical concerns, to reach a point in our lives where we felt we could remove the seat belts and feel relaxed. There’s nothing quite like a life-threatening illness to put the plane in a nose dive and send us scrambling for an oxygen mask.

I’ve always thought I would be perfectly suited to deal with an adverse situation. When things get really stressful and the wheels seem to be falling off, I tend to focus on the black and white. I remove emotion from the equation and concentrate on the decisions/choices/actions that need to be made in order to deal with the circumstances at hand. It turns out that my greatest strength, was also where I let down my wife the most.

It’s human nature when dealing with adversity, for our feelings to be drawn to the negative…dark thoughts, and my wife is no different. Since December 21st there have been days when trying to remain buoyant in a blustery emotional sea has been impossible, and she has succumbed. I did what I do, tried to get her to see how things weren’t really as bad as her mind tried to convince her. I just needed for her to focus on the black and white, and she would see how irrational her fears were. And that is where I failed her. What I have since realized is that before I can hope to pull her out of the throes of despair, I must first get in there with her. I should hug her so hard she has to fight for breath, and let her know that no matter what she feels…irrational or not…I’m there with her always. She knew she was not alone in this fight, but I still need to show her that I understand the gloom she is experiencing. It’s only after I do that, that I can take her hand and slowly lead her back to the black and white.

We were lucky the cancer was caught early and my wife’s prognosis is very good. As you read this we are most likely attending her pre-op visits in preparation for her surgery next week. I am a naturally optimistic person. My complete faith in her doctors combined with the incredible advancements made in treating this terrible disease, tells me that this is just unexpected turbulence in our long journey together. Our family will be back at our Cruising Altitude in a short time, with a flight plan laid out well into the future. But this passenger will have learned a valuable lesson.

49 comments

  1. That sure is an important lesson! I was explaining to a guy friend of mine once that the reason his wife got annoyed whenever he gave her solutions to her problems was that what she really wanted from him was for him to hear her, to be there and just to listen. Yeah, solutions are great, but if you leap immediately to giving those, women can see it as you saying "I don't want to hear you go on and on about this, so let's fix it right now!" Maybe it isn't logical, but it's how some of us can feel sometimes. :)

    I'm so sorry your family is going through such an ordeal - but you are indeed right that you're fortunate it was caught so early. I am keeping you all in my thoughts!

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  2. You are a dear and loving husband. You didn't fail her, you hung in there. And there is hope after cancer...I'm a twenty-eight year breast cancer warrior.

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  3. We all deal with news like this differently. You didn't fail her, DL. You are the one who is able to be strong because you figured out how to maintain your optimism through the dark days. Your wife will need that because she's unable to do it herself. And that's not surprising. What's she's going through, what you're both going through, is one of the toughest challenges there is. *hugs*

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  4. Hi Don,
    Wish I could reach through the screen and give you both a hug. I can't imagine the fears and stress of this. You are very intuitive to realize that you have to "be in there" with her to hold her hand. I'll check in with you guys later.

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  5. My heart goes out to you and your lovely wife. I have no doubts you will battle this fight together as a strong team and I will send you all kinds of healing vibes and all my best wishes. Take care of each other. *hugs*

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  6. Wow. DL, you might be an analytical thinker, but you are also an emotional one. Your post brought tears to my eyes, there is so much emotion in it. Seems to me that you are your wife's anchor and she needs time to feel sorry for herself, but you'll be there to guide her out of that depression. She's going to need your optimism and faith. Good luck with the surgery and chemo, and like you said, there's every reason to believe she'll beat this. Just keep loving each other.

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  7. I'm so glad she was diagnosed early, but I know it'll still be a hard road to walk down.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

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  8. I understand both points of view as my husband has a 'solve the problem' attitude which can feel as though he doesn't understand emotions but that is not actaully the case, just his way of coping with things. The best thing is knowing that you are there for each other and will get through this together. My thoughts are with you both at this time and I wish your wife all the best for her procedures.

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  9. I'll be praying for your family. I hope everything all works out for you. One of my best friends has breast cancer, so I know the toll it can take, but you are resilient and from what I've heard you say of your wife, I know you two will pull through whatever life throws at you together.

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  10. You know I'm thinking of you guys always. I'm also an optimistic person and I'm sending all of the good vibes and hugs in the world to your family.

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  11. I had to get over the adversary of being Epilepsy, people still treat one as an outcast but my outlook has always been, I live with Epilepsy and not the otherway round as I would not go or do anything.

    Yvonne.

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  12. You had a revelation that not all relatives to a sick person have. You are right in that you have to get in those depths she is first, so you can reach hand and pull her up later. Otherwise it feels like you really don't know how it feels like. I will be praying for everything to work out well for her and for you all. My best!

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  13. Your post absolutely fits the requirements, Don, and thanks for sharing this very moving story. I hear you all too well on your practical approach to the problem being perceived as not really taking in what your wife is going through. But you do, and you are both in this together. Someone has to be the strong one and hold it together. Fingers crossed for your wife's surgery, and that this episode will soon be over.

    Thanks so much for taking part!

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  14. Oh, DL, I am so sorry to hear this awful news! I would give you a big hug, too, if I were there. My mom survived her ordeal with breast cancer and that was over 10 years ago so take heart and tell your wife there's a lot of people thinking good thoughts for both of you.

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  16. My wife works in oncology, DL, so unfortunately the C word is a daily part of our lives. Your story touched me, because I think every spouse's greatest fear is getting that news about the one they love most. I'm extremely sorry to hear the burden of the disease has hit your family, but glad to hear that you're going into it with as much of a fighting/positive attitude that you can muster.

    I'll have you both in my thoughts, and I think this is a fine addition to Nick's efforts.

    Best,

    EJ

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  17. Well, heck, DL! That is just an amazing, wonderful, and extremely worthwhile bloghop, and I LOVE it! Here's hoping Nick gets more than what he needs~

    And here's praying for your sweet wife. *HUGS* So glad to hear she was caught early, and here's hoping she has an easy treatment and is back to 100% VERY soon~ <3

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  18. I'm so sorry you both have to experience this. You didn't fail her. Just realizing what she needs is a huge step. There will be many up and downs for both of you and your needs and reactions will change day to day. Hang in there and you'll fly through this storm too. I'm hoping and praying for the best for you both.

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  19. DL, what a frightening thing to face. But it IS beatable! A friend of mine went through it seven years ago and is living proof it's beatable.

    Just give her lots of hugs. We need those.

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  20. DL, I'm so glad you guys are tackling this together and leaning on each other. I'm sending positive thoughts and prayers your way! You guys will find smooth skies again soon.

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  21. My heart goes out to you and your wife.
    You haven't failed her. I think your optimism and positivity will help you to pull through during these difficult times...
    Thanks for sharing so candidly... I think you are so brave. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers DL.

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  22. DL, our prayers will be with you and your wife. Have faith - you will overcome.

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  23. My best to you and your wife during this stressful time. I sincerely hope she makes a full and quick recovery.

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  24. Sometimes the hardest thing family or friends can offer is a true listening ear. It's a hard one. As a woman, we don't want black and white solutions and overly cheerful optimism. First we need to deal with the overwhelming emotional storm within. We need time to fall apart, get angry, cry over the unfairness. Once we've got that out of our system, THEN we can see the black and white hope and behind the hope is the path to take. As the bible says, there is a time to weep and that's sometimes tough. Guys take all the emotions and weave them into viable action to take. Nothing wrong with that but the timing of when they're offered.

    Scary times indeed, Don! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife. Don't forget the threefold cord-you, your mate, and your God. Unbeatable. :-)

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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  25. My thoughts are with you, your wife, and your family. Early detection is the key. I went through something very similar last October and it was removed with no problems.

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  26. I'm so sorry to hear about your wife's diagnosis and my thoughts are with you and the family. Hard to find words for a battle like this. Best of luck for a strong and speedy recovery. Hang in there, both of you!

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  27. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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  28. My thoughts are with you and your wife during this new challenge that you are facing. Please continue to keep us updated on the situation, and hang in there. It takes a lot of strength to be able to share about this.

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  29. I'm so sorry to hear about your wife, DL. It's so easy to look at the negative sometimes. But you know what, next year at this time, all of the negativity and pain you're having to endure right now will be a distant memory and you and your wife will be back cruising along. Happy and healthy! :)

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  30. Don, I'm so sorry your wife has this challenge upon her. Wishing her and you and your family many blessings. You'll get through this together and emerge even stronger than ever. Praying for your wife and sending her lots of positive thoughts and good vibes!

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  31. I wish you guys didn't have to deal with this, but at least your wife was diagnosed early. You guys are in our thoughts. Everyone has a different way of reacting to the disease. What's important is that you've realized what your wife needs from you and you're there for her. ((((hugs))))

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  32. Hey, DL.

    It seems like you have a good hold on the situation. Cancer is such a horrid disease, but THANKFULLY they caught your wife's at the beginning stages. WIshing you and her all the best during her surgery and recovery. Optimism and a good FIGHTING BACK attitude is the only way to handle situations like this.

    You both are in my thoughts and prayers.


    Michael

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  33. I'm so sorry to hear about this, however it is inspiring to hear how you are handling it. I send my best to you and your wife and pray you're back to cruising soon!

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  34. DL, be sure to send me YOUR address so I can send the book!

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  35. Prayers for you all. I'm happy to say, these days I can name far more breast cancer survivors than people it beat. They have made advances and it is a different world than just a few years ago. But the C word is scary as hell no matter how good the odds. I know my head would spin.

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  36. I wish you both well and that your wife will overcome this trail. We all do. :)

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  37. Thank you for digging deep and sharing. I'm praying that you and your wife overcome this obstacle and get back to cruising altitude quickly and with complete health.

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  38. I'm very glad they caught it early! I wish you good luck!

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  39. I will keep you and your wife in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this ordeal. God bless.

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  40. I suppose at some point most people think about how they would react to some devastating news like being told they or a loved one has cancer. I know I thought about it. But, I promise you the reaction I had thought about was nothing compared to how I felt when those words escaped my doctor’s lips. Reading your post, tears just sprang to my eyes, knowing someone else I know, no matter how distant the relationship, had to hear that diagnosis.

    Through surgery and treatment I clung to the fact that today (11 years ago for me) many people survive cancer. It’s not what it used to be. I thought about some of the people I met who survived and how much more fragile they seemed than me. My mantra was, ‘if they can do it, I can do it’.

    I won’t lie and tell you it was a ‘walk in the park’ or that I didn’t lock myself in the closet and cry. Sometimes I would take a drive alone, just so I could scream and beat on the steering wheel without my family, who by the way quite literally went to pieces, seeing that. BUT, I’m here to tell the story.

    Once the initial shock began to turn to a grim acceptance, I realized that I could just lie down and take it, or I could fight back. Fight back, I did, with as much positive attitude (sometimes at a decibel level only dogs could hear) that I could muster. Some days, all I could do was pray and pray I did.

    Enough about me. Maybe hearing that could help you or your wife. But what I really want to say is that through this ordeal, I realized something big. I realized that I was being taken care of. The doctors were doing everything they knew how to fight that devil c. My neighbors and friends were cleaning my house, bringing in meals and holding the hands of my husband and children (who were grown women at the time). And my relationship with God and His Son grew to a point where I knew they loved me and would take care of me and my family, no matter what the outcome. BUT, my family (any family suffering through this type of thing) were out there watching me and feeling hopeless, helpless and afraid. People tried to comfort them, but they had to find their own way, all the while trying to make things easier on me.

    So that was over 400 words to tell you ‘don’t be so hard on yourself’. Cancer is a disease that strikes everybody close to the main victim with a one two punch that would knock an elephant on its butt. Everyone involved has to find their own way through the nightmare. The important thing is that your wife knows that you love her and will be there for her, no matter what. That goes for your children, parents, her parents and anyone who closely touches her life. I’m sure she knows you pretty well and in her own way prepared for your black/white reaction. Maybe she even wished you would have reacted differently, but I’m sure she and those that know you know you reacted with and out of love.

    My prayers will be with you. You and your wife can do this. I look forward to the post when you explain to us how you walked out of this shadow into the sunlight. I admire and appreciate your courage and your willingness to talk to us about this.

    (Sorry to go on so. This comment was longer than most of my blog posts.)

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  41. Wishing you the best! I'm so glad they caught it early.

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  42. I'm so sorry to hear this! It's very brave of you to post about it. My prayers are with you and your wife.

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  43. when are they going to find a cure for this monster!
    i'm so glad they caught it early! prayers for smooth procedures and a speedy recovery!

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  44. A tough issue to be dealing with. We all deal with adversity in our own way. I'm sure she knew you would see what she needed and give her your support. And you did; her faith was rewarded with patience in letting you have your reaction, and then getting past it.

    I hope all is well with the surgery. You both will be in my thoughts.

    .......dhole

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  45. HI DL .. well done for realising that she needed you where she is ... so often we forget the patient (the person) even though of course in our own minds we're not ... it's just we have different ways of dealing with things.

    Now I hope the worst is over and as you say you'll be cruising once again ... and will put your experiences to good use for the future and for others ...

    My thoughts to you both and the family ... a really good post for the anthology .. cheers Hilary

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  46. Eep I almost missed this post. Glad I caught it. I was worried your "absence" was something of this nature. I'm sorry to hear it. But so glad it was caught early. Keep us posted and remember to lean on your cyber friends here. We can be an amazing wealth of support when you least expect it. Prayers for you both. And I'll email you so I can send her a special "stay well' pixie. ;)

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  47. I wanted to thank everyone who left well-wishes for me and my wife, especially those you who do not have your email address attached to your profile and therefore not allow me to respond directly. All of your comments mean the world to both of us!

    I've wanted to talk about my wife's diagnosis for a while now, but I needed to wait until she felt comfortable enough to announce it to the world -- which she did last week via Facebook. She has a network of family and friends that is hard to match, but I knew my blogging buddies would be there for me. Now you can understand why I might disappear for periods of time, but I'll always be back.

    I'm really feeling the warm fuzzies today, so thank you for that! :)

    DL

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  48. Very sorry to hear this news. But heartened nevertheless to know that there is a glitter of light at the end of the tunnel. Thinking of you both xoxo

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