The Gift I don't want to Give...


I have been sending out little "bloglets" ( my new term) as I figured out how to write this post. Here goes...

Usually when I write, I sit in our dining room and look out the front windows. Today I am mixing it up, and sitting at our kitchen table and scanning the backyard. It is actually lovely outside. A breeze is blowing in, and scattering my papers around.
The papers filled with scraps of thoughts and ideas about what this blog will say.

The last blog I wrote I title "Life and it's Stuff". I liked the title, still do. It is true. The longer we are all around, the more stuff we have. Don't believe anyone if they say they don't have any "stuff", cause they are just big fat liars.

Since I wrote that last full post, I have ended my career at the Preschool where I was fortunate enough to have taught for the last 20 years. I think it is 20 years, if not, it is 21 or 19 or maybe even 22, but a long time. During the time that I was deciding to change my life, and try different things, spend energy in other places, life decided to give me a kick. Here's my story.

I was being a good adult. I was doing what my dermatologist had told me to do. I was following up with him every 6 months to take good care of myself and my skin. Three years ago, I had these funky looking red bumps appear in a spot on my skin. We, my doctor and me, spent about 6-8 weeks trying to figure out what those bumps actually were. It turned out to be Melanoma-insitu. YIKES! I was concerned and scared. Whenever anyone hears the "M" word it is scary. My doctor took good care of me, and so I thought, WHEW that is the end of that. Well, this past April when I went in for one of my ongoing checkups, my doctor noticed that near the same area, there was a skin lesion that looked darker to him. I of course thought it looked just fine. It was not just fine. It came back as Melanoma- insitu again. I had to have 2 different surgeries to get rid of the cells from this spot. The first surgery was relatively easy, it was out patient and required just a few days of resting my arm. When I went to have the stitches taken out, the surgeon said the pathology had come back that the Melanoma-insitu was not all gone. She needed to go back in and take a larger section out. I was surprised. I had not planned on this. (Duh!) The second surgery required a lot more. I had to have anesthesia, and be out for the procedure. She also took 6 other spots off my torso that my derm had suggested be removed while we were doing this anesthesia thing. It is now 2 months, and I am good. My arm was quite a site after the last surgery, and I am grateful that the pathology came back clean.

Why am I writing about this? Because, life gave me some "Stuff" and I had to figure out what to do about it.

In my post May 20th, I talked about being a parent when life and it's "Stuff" happens to our kids. What do we do about it and what is our role. My kids are all adults now, so what I hope to do is show them how to be a good adult. When you have little kids, your goal is to get them there...get them to adulthood, help your kids become all that is needed to be independent, competent, successful individuals. People, in fact! People who are able to stand on their own and know what to do when "Life and it's Stuff" presents, because it will.

Now, as our kids are growing, we have a chance to show them some examples of how to be. Since I am an officially retired Preschool teacher, I am going to periodically use the names of some of my favorite kids books while I write. There is a great kids book titled "How to Be" what the premise of the book is about is how to be a person, all the characteristics necessary to be a good person. I like this book, it is simple and entertaining. I was thinking about this. What do we need to do as parents to show how kids "How to be"? I know that along the path of raising my kids I could say I acted like a whole variety of characters out of kids literature. But, to send the right message and attempt (yes attempt) to be a good example, we parents may have to do a little trial and error, because, after all, we are all human. I would suggest that we need to be like the wise mother owl in "Owl Babies" who knows what her babies need and so provides that, instead of the chicken in "Chicken Little" always running around yelling "The Sky is Falling!" Through our behaviours and our words, we need to show our kids love, consistency, caring and stability. Of course it is fine to be human and not always be perfect, but keep on trying. I know for myself I had to actually demonstrate my own "human-ness" when I was sacred this spring dealing with Melanoma. I had to show my kids that I would not be like an ostrich who sticks it's head in the sand and hopes bad things go away, but deal with it and figure it out.

That leads me to the next part of my story. I feel compelled to get this part right. Through my journey this spring with Melanoma, I learned that a young father of 3 children in our school, is dealing with Stage IV Melanoma. I know this family. I taught their 6 year old daughter when she was 3. I have learned of their struggles and trials and hopes in working to beat this disease. In doing that, I then learned of a woman who has been dealing with Stage IV Melanoma for 7 years....which is quite remarkable, and not the norm. She, Susan Steel, started an organization called Skin of Steel, which is working to help find new treatments, trials and an eventual cure for this horrible disease, Melanoma.

So, why am I bringing all of this up here? Because, it is important. Part of parenting, and truly an important part, is to teach our kids how to "deal". Deal with all of life, not just the good stuff. I chose the title for this blog "the Gift I don't want to Give" because Melanoma is something I have had to deal with and I don't want my kids to have to deal with it. So, what can I do about that? I can help them know how to take good care of themselves, and I can help educate them.

I have learned that their is a remarkable organization right here in Chicago working to break barriers and defeat this disease called Melanoma. As I said above, the name of the organization is Skin of Steel. Look it up, check it out. It is not in my wheel house of skill sets to sell. I am an educator, a person who likes to help, a person who likes to teach people. That is what I am doing.

In life we get to choose only a few things. I am learning that.

Today, I chose to share this story.

So, to continue my Preschool lit comparison, here goes. I am choosing not to be like "Wemberly Worried" I am going to try to help figure out "What's Going On in There" and then learn, act, and decide "What to do With a Tail Like this". In doing so, I hope to continue to teach my adult children how to deal with life as effectively as they can, and to take the time to try and make a difference when it matters. Making a difference in working towards effective treatments and cures for Melanoma, now THAT matters!

If you choose, check out Skin of Steel. I guarantee it will matter.

Until next time,