Thursday, November 4, 2010

Squeezing Life's Lemons

We all know the old saying, "When Life Gives You Lemons...". And of course, we have all puckered up from time to time as life tends to give us all a lemon or two every now and again. In an attempt to be helpful, some of us can be all too eager to toss out the old adage to anyone facing life's struggles as if by making the assertion sour will suddenly become sweet. This statement is positive thinking at its finest. And who doesn't want to be positive. But sometimes the lemons being served up are well past their prime and it is impossible to turn rotten fruit into any kind of tasty concoction. No amount of sugar by way of positivity will mask the nastiness. You simply must hold your nose and choke it down...sometimes chugging one glass right after another. These are times when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you are getting the short end of life's happy stick.

I guess cancer could qualify as one of those moments. It would by no means be a stretch to say cancer equals one tall glass of barf juice...juice from the most rotten lemons. Having a flask of this foul but potable liquid shoved in my hand, I had no choice but to swill, swig and swallow. Here is where it gets interesting. I have a major gag reflex. Try as I might to chug-a-lug, all I did was heave and hurl. I decided it was time to protest. To kick up my heels and revolt. Not willing to drink alone, I called in the troops. Life's libations are more easily tolerated when shared with friends. If nothing else, they could administer CPR lest I begin to drown in my own regurgitation.

I've written much bemoaning the loss of my hair...another sour, rotten, old lemon. I will not lie. I hated the idea of being bald. Yet after throwing a fit or two over the unfairness of it all, I began to feel better. One point to note, do you not find it interesting how ugly begets ugly? Not only would I be poisoned in an attempt to banish cancer cells from my being, but my appearance was going to take a side trip to the land of grotesque. I was forewarned of all to come....mottled skin, broken (if not loss of) nails, puffiness, weight gain (every girl's nightmare) and of course the mother of all horrors... total loss of hair. And by total hair loss, they meant hair on head, eye lashes, eye brows, hair on legs...although this one is by no means a negative. You learn to miss hair you didn't even realize you had. But I eventually came to terms with it. What the heck. It's only hair and it will grow back. Besides, I received some good news. My course of treatment would allow me to "keep" my hair through the first 12 weeks of treatment. Three months as a baldy was WAY better than six. The first round of chemo would only cause my hair to thin and only to the point of being noticeable by me.

Well, "Life" must have gotten wind of the insurgency to come and planned its own form of retaliation leaving me hairless from the get-go. Leave it to me to be different. To experience side effects unlike the norm. Always marching to the beat of my own drum, I must say this was one time it would have been nice to have been a conformist.

Me and my not-so-wee-ones with a hat to hide my "hag" hair

Seeing this as only a minor set-back and by no means interpreting it as a battle lost, I forged ahead with my plans to laugh in cancer's face...literally. What did I do? I took my jar of "jungle juice" and threw a party. I called it my "Buzz Me, Baby" party. With friends and family to witness the moment and my sister to "do the deed", I took control of the uncontrollable and shaved my head.
Sharing heartfelt gratitude for my friends and family

Buzz Me, Baby

Suddenly, the bitter elixir forced upon me became sweet. With every laugh and embrace, my happy stick grew by enormous proportions and I had an overwhelming urge to extract more juice from the lemons. Rather than throw the yellow orbs back out into the universe, I was ready to squeeze the life out of them giving me lemonade to spare. That night tears were shed and laughs were shared. It was a night filled with bittersweet moments. A night of making the sour sweet.

My daughter and my mom...leaning on each other

Family portrait with my new fake 'do

Just so you know, I do believe when life gives you lemons you should make lemonade. It may not always be as simple as "add sugar, water and stir" but I'm proof it can be done. Maybe not on your own, but as another old saying/song goes "I get by with a little help from my friends". As corny as this may sound, when life shoves lemons in your face, let the love of family and friends be your sugar and laughter be your "stir stick". Dilute the bitterness with faith and house it all in a pitcher of prayer. Everything...and I do mean everything...goes down easier when following this recipe.

With love always,


  1. Oh my are the most BEAUTIFUL writer...I really hope that WHEN you come through the other side of this you consider publishing your blog posts or writing a book...I think many women would benefit from a dose of your positivity. :) (((HUGS)))

  2. My goodness Lisa, I agree with Lisa above- you are a magnificent writer. You have a gift. To be able to express all that you are going through so eloquently, that is amazing. And your 'Buzz Me, Baby' party- wow, you are an inspiration to so many of us. I truly hope someday you do publish these thoughts on your journey somewhere. And it goes without saying my prayers are with you in this fight. I'm glad your beautiful family is at your side. Keep doing what you are doing. God you.......xOxO

  3. Sweetie, of course I've seen these photos before, so I knew what this post was all about. But reading your words, wow, I'm once again amazed by you. You are by far the most wonderful woman I have ever "met", I so admire your view of life. I felt this way before the cancer, and I still feel the same way, even more so. And I agree with the others, and I've said this before: please, do something with that incredible writing skill of yours. You have a way with words that is simply amazing ... enormously captivating and heart stirring.
    Lisa, I'm hoping the outcome of the tests will prove to be just like you hoped.
    Thinking of you every day
    Love and lots of hugs xxx Peggy

  4. You are the best, Lisa. Beautiful woman, beautiful writer, beautiful soul. And can I just say that you look STUNNING with a shaved head.

    I am currently waiting on results from my mammogram. They sent me a letter to advise that they've asked for the results of last year's (completed at a different hospital) so they can compare. Always fun to wait (and think...)

    Please know that I think of you often and am keeping you in my prayers. You are a shining light in this world, girl, and I'm so glad our paths crossed. :-)

    Big hugs...

  5. You are one of the most courage woman I know! You have grace and style. You are amazing Lisa. I am truly inspired by you and your bold actions. I love that you had a "party" to buzz the hair. I just know that your positive attitude and prayer is the key to success. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Love you bunches!!!! xoxo-Kim

  6. You are sooooooooooooo amazing Lisa! You write with such beautiful conviction! I loveeeeeeeeeeeeee your shave party..and I for one think you are always beautiful! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  7. Ok...I have read this post...several times....taking in each word and holding it close.....knowing just what you are going though and yet finding this amazing person all over again.....

    You must publish these pass them on to all that you are going through your attitude and faith amaze me....So many want to feel sorry for themselves, and yet here you are finding the upside and giving us a recipe that all of us can benefit from!

    I truly love have a special place in my are my sister...not in blood, but in love!!!

    I hold you close in my heart and prayers always....everyday....God hears me....BE filled with is grace, glory and favor!!! I LOVE YOU!!!

  8. To say just in words how amazing you are just doesn't do it justice! Your attitude is truly inspirational!!

    I know you find it crazy, but I get so excited when I get to read a new blog you post! The passion you have for writing is so evident in all your blogs. You have such a gift in your writings, that I so hope that once this journey is complete you can pursue this passion with as much vigor as you are in this fight... You are an unbelievably special woman!!! ZOZO

  9. For some reason I'm not able to view your photo's at the moment....I'll come back & try again there later...but your words, as always, amaze & delight me! In all that you are going through you are still you & I love that you can share it all so eloquently! So, without the visual, I just have to say that is so good to 'hear' that you are maintaining your hold on control & have such a strong support network...sending {{{Hugs}}} Love & prayer as always xx

  10. Lisa, You are just incredible, this is not the first time I read this post, I did not comment before, I just had to read it again. I can never tell you enough just how blessed everyone is to be your friend. I sure know that I am. You are so positive, I hope that others learn from your strength.. Take care and God bless.

  11. You make me cry! You are so brave and strong to take this head on with possitivity and hard nosed stubborness! Your cancer does not have the strength and support that you do. Your cancer is only a temporary trial for you to overcome so that you can be stronger yet. I have a big smile on my face now imagining the cancer free Lisa - if you are not a force to be reckoned with now ...holey smokes watch out! Lots of hugs! Thanks for checking in on me as well. It was so very good to hear from you!

  12. Hey Lisa,

    I don't know you at all, but reading your blog makes me so emotional, you're an amazing writer and everyone with this disease should read your blog, you give hope, you're being very honest and open.
    You're such a strong woman.
    I hope you'll get some good news soon.


  13. Just popping back in to say how thrilled I was that you took time out to drop by my blog & leave such kind words! I have now been able to view your slideshow & Lisa...It'll take more than a shaved head to diminish your just shines right out in your smile! It looks like a great family night & so good to see you surrounded by love & laughter! Keep taking control & never stop smiling! Sending Love & {{Hugs}} & keeping you in thought & prayer every day..God Bless xx

  14. you are so beautiful :) love this post. thanks for stopping by

  15. Just wanting give you a quick comment letting you know I am thinking of you and your are always in my thoughts and prayers. You are an amazing woman and your spirit is AMAZING. Thank you for reminding me of the important things in life:) HUGS!!

  16. Amazingly put my dear friend! You are truly a wonderful woman and so very beautiful inside and out. I admire your courage, your sense of humor and sense of self. I continue to send lots of prayers your way!

  17. Lisa I had no clue! I've been so consumed with having a new baby in the house, I've been away from the blog world for awhile.
    Graceful comes to mind! Where most people would be giving up and you are taking control. I love your joy for life and amazing attitude toward this.

  18. ooohhh Lisa I feel soo bad I haven't been blogging and just read are a beautiful amazing lady and an so inspired by your strength...your posts have taught me sooo much from reading them I am going through some tough medical battles and found my self staying in bed and not wanting to face the world or the truth...just recently I woke up one day and thought no more...thank you sooo much for sharing
    I will keep you in my prayers


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