Nina Shaffer



With Peace and Love ~ My Journey

My Journey March – August 2002 For me, sometimes friends and family were good and not so good, meaning…. Nobody knew how to react to my situation…what I needed and at times overdid their graciousness, unintentionally. I was given things that felt like I was really in bad shape, it scared me; i.e. sad cards, flowers, notes (almost like saying goodbye). I just wanted to see people acting normal to me, not with gifts, cards, flowers, notes, verses, books, sad eyes, self-pity and so on. I remember distinctly, that as I looked around while driving to all my dr’s appts, I saw smiles, busy lives, hectic jobs to go to, errands to run, plays to see, Children to be fed. I said gosh, I wonder if they know where I am going and that my day will be far from hectic, busy or fun. But once I entered the chemo area with “my kind” I knew I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t just me against the world, it was others suffering, even more so. But we all managed and just did it. We went along with the protocol of that day, hoping your Dr. just might say to you that “it” was misdiagnosed, your blood work is fine…You’re CURED! 3 IV’s, a good movie to watch, a little stomach ache; after six hours you are on the way home again. It was our life for that day, that week, that month, that year. But as you adjusted to each other’s comfort ability, you honored it, by way of just “saying hello, offering a warm smile that I care, having a cup of tea together or just an understanding silence…..” Our body and mind kept telling us, each time you enter a lab, dr’s office, chemo station or radiation bed we have 6 more weeks, 5 more weeks, then 4….And after that, if you require more, it is just what you will do, because too many people want you to WIN THIS BATTLE. You will have times of just being tired of being tired, sick of being sick, upset of being bald. But God gave us this for a reason and I truly believe for me, it was to be an example of courage, winning my struggles and lasting resiliency. I felt a calling to be a model for those going through this disease and for those family members. There is truly an undeniable hope that you can never imagine, that we will persevere for us and our loved ones. My comic relief was seen by many. I believe it gave us all a feeling of calmness and normalcy. Friends saying you were the prettiest bald lady I ever met. Playing with the dog with my wig, and just laughing at bunco…..when you thought you could never laugh again, after finding out you had the “C” word. Just because I was sick, it didn’t mean the world had to stop and be miserable with me. My mood for the most part was extremely well maintained. I had days, especially on chemo days and a few days after, that I had bumps in the road. But I got myself a nice wig, bonnets, nightcap, scarves, and eyelashes too and I was off to start the day. I continued working, helping to open up a new business, I was head of HR. And I had wonderful friends to get me though those times of getting sick in the ladies restroom. Jolly Ranchers and free diet Dr. Pepper was a great perk and did the trick to ease dry mouth and quizziness. I had a wonderful outlook….it took some time, though. The laughter, smiles, prayers, tears and hugs, were my healing remedies. Shopping one day, I thought about how nice it would be to have a new sofa….soon after that I never gave it a second thought. Other things came to mind, like treatment options and the future with my family. Wow, that hit me like a ton of bricks. The frivolous idea of a new piece of furniture, how dare I! Isn’t the old sofa good enough?? Decisions prior to my diagnosis were so clear and calm and then came the news. Years later, I often think about my sofa dilemma and how I did purchase another one. But it’s funny, the new one never did feel right. I guess, an indescribable guilt I had and still have. You started seeing the sunrise and sunset in a whole new meaning, taking it in longer. Breathing in and out with a pure energy, hoping it would not stop. Really listening to the birds chirp and the rain tattering on your window. It was a beautiful realization that life is alive and you are too and for me, to appreciate every bit of it. On many of a night, I felt a warm, soothing, strong hand, rub across my back, as I wore my night cap and felt and looked far less of a woman for him. I had tears running down my cheeks, which he never saw. I knew my husband was trying to cleanse me within his own sense of helplessness. He wanted so badly to take the pain away. It was a time in our marriage, I truly felt the love and fragility of my husband. There were days, I didn’t want to hear the neighbors and kids outside my bedroom window being funny, playing ball, laughing. I was in bed on this beautiful sun lit day and I felt rotten. I shut the windows, closed the blinds and felt sorry for myself….. But this too shall pass, I said to myself and prayed to God for forgiveness for my anger and selfishness. I thanked him for my Drs, my meds and the resources he gave me. I wanted to say so badly (why me). For the record, I never said it. I just knew God had a plan all mapped out and I went with it. I got stronger and mentally tougher, and fought the battle and I never looked back. I am here for you if ever you want to talk or to listen about my personal walk or “to just say hello, offer a warm smile that I care, have a cup of tea together or just an understanding silence…..” Nina Shaffer Sept. 2014