Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One Year Ago Today...

Mark one off the bucket list.
No, it wasn't the date I found out I had cancer. It was one year ago today that I boarded an airplane in Little Rock with 15 other Arkansas teachers and embarked on a trip of a lifetime. We were headed for a fantastic three week tour of China, as part of the Bringing China to Arkansas Program (thanks to UALR and The Freeman Foundation).

Those three weeks in June were some of the most amazing and memorable of my life. Not only did I learn a great deal about a fantastic country, but I was able to see and do things of which I had only dreamed, and do these things with people who would soon become my very dear friends.

I have fantastic and lovely memories of that time in my life.

It's a little scary how much can happen in a year.

We returned from this trip at the end of June and a couple of weeks later I heard the words, "That doesn't look good." (I really don't think anyone ever said, "You have cancer.") The lump about which this was spoken was actually found while in Beijing, near the end of our stay in China.

The point of all this is not to review the many ups and downs of my crazy year, but to point out how quickly life can change. There is no doubt that I had cancer while in China, yet was clueless. I felt great, was going at full tilt, and loving every minute of the trip. Even after finding the lump I was not worried. I'd had lumps before. No biggy. It wasn't until I had it checked out that things changed...and changed fast.

Not to be morbid, but I'm sure someone reading this is in the same boat I was in at the time. Not a sinking boat, but a boat with some serious cracks in the hull. And like me, you just don't know.

So, all you healthy people out there, consider this and live each day like it could be one of your last. Be thankful for the good things in your life...family, friends, pets, home, blue skies, sunshine, birdsong, trees, flowers, laughter, tears, hugs, waking up each day. The list goes on and on.

Be kind to strangers and family, complain less, encourage more.

Be diligent in taking care of yourself...you only get one body. Get up and move; spend less time online.

I can no longer frivolously say things like, "I'll be glad when this week is over" or "I can't wait for next year!" My mom used to tell me I was wishing my life away, and she was right. She passed away at the young age of 71. She was not ready to leave.

Life moves quicker than you think, and this is not Walmart. There are no guarantees.

“Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.”  Horace


Clueless at the Temple of Heaven - Beijing

Clueless at the Terracotta Warriors - Xian
My favorite town, Lijiang,
and the best travel companions ever!

The Bund - Shanghai,
and me without a care in the world.


  1. So much has changed in one year. It was so good to see you today though...you look great! We are ready to have you back!

  2. I'm so glad that you have had the travel opportunities you have had. Travel changes your life and the way that you think about your life. You've had a hard year, actually a terrible year, but you have such a good attitude and have realized how many people love you and support you and want to help you get through this valley. I am praying for a good summer for you and good results with your radiation. Can't wait to see you again. xxxooo