Monday, January 31, 2011

Storming Heaven

Friends, today is the first day of the novena for our beloved Susan (aka Whymommy). Starting tonight, and continuing for a full nine days, we will be storming heaven with our prayer for Susan's complete and total healing. We are told that all we need to do is to ask for all we need. Well, we are asking. The link to the novena prayers and readings, suitable for printing at home, is here. This novena is adapted from one I found on the web which was written by a priest at Texas A&M.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fighting Together, with Prayer

In my posting on Lymphedema Sleeves, I talked about my friend, Susan Niebur aka Whymommy, who is currently participating in a clinical trial to battle a locally metastatic cancer, her fourth cancer in as many years. Susan is an amazing person. She shines with love. She radiates joy. She makes you want to be a better person. In the short time she has been part of our church community, she has drawn so many people to her, just like moths to a flame. It might be her cheery smile and her ability to see the goodness in life; it might be her obvious love for her husband and children; it might be her wit, her intelligence, her kindness, her gentleness. I'm not sure.

What I am sure of, however, is that many people have expressed to me the desire to pray as a community for Susan. And, as a result, we are joining together starting next Monday, January 31, to say a novena (communal or private prayer, said over nine days or hours). We will say the novena in our church chapel and we are inviting those who cannot be there in person to pray with us between the hours of 8 and 9, every night from January 31 through February 8.
If you are not the formal prayer type, we invite you to send all positive thoughts and vibes, expressions of caring and love, and aspirations of hope out to the Unknowable Universe over this period. We also invite you to pray formally in the style of your own tradition for this intention if you are more comfortable doing that.
We will be praying through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II -- intercessory prayer is like asking a beloved older brother or sister to talk to Dad (intercede) for us. It is a type of prayer that has a long history in Catholicism, and which makes perfect sense if you believe, as Catholics do, in the Communion of Saints -- that is, in the spiritual unity of all in the Christian Church, those on earth and those who are with God. All members of the Communion of Saints are members of a Mystical Body, with Christ as the Head, in which all members contribute to the good of all and share in the welfare of all.

We are working on the details right now -- when we are finished, I intend to post the novena prayers here so that anyone who wishes to can pray the novena with us. If you do so, please let me know so that we can let Susan know the breadth and depth of love for her, both here in her immediate community and around the world.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Surrendering Hunger

Have I told you about my fantastic sister, L? L. is older than me by 18 months and 2 weeks. All of my life, I've looked up to her as a trailblazer and a leader. We never went through much of the sisterly anguish that many people do (aside from the time I smeared black fingerpaint all over her beautiful picture in kindergarten (I was attending with her for the day). But hey, she wouldn't let me play with her and her friend, Sherry, so she deserved what she got, right?)

Last year, L. decided to lose weight. And guess what? She did. She, an aunt of ours, and I used a book called Your Whole Life to try to address some of the reasons that we were overweight. My sister threw herself in whole heartedly into this new way of looking at being overweight. She went from "Couch Potato to 5K" and, by the summer, was running an hour every other day. Today, L. is stronger than ever. She radiates good health and vigor. She gave me a book called Surrendering Hunger, which is a companion to the Your Whole Life book. The idea is that, after the initial 12 week program, Surrendering Hunger will provide a year's worth of meditations to help you persevere in your attempts to lose weight. I haven't opened it yet. But I will.

There are a few things I've learned over the past year, after quitting Weight Watchers and going through Your Whole Life, and joining a gym:

Finding a way through being overweight is my personal cross to bear. No one else developed the habits of eating and of (non) exercising that have led to this condition. No one else can help me change those habits.

My huge (no pun intended) problem is that I don't pay enough attention. I am not organized enough. I can't figure out a way to integrate the life I want into the life I actually have. Maybe I'm too distracted. Maybe I'm too lazy. I'm not sure. It just struck me this weekend that I haven't had my hair cut or colored in almost a year. Most days I pull it into a ponytail and forget about it. That seems to me to be emblematic of the problem I have.

So, I'll go home (I'm currently in an airport in the great American Southwest, coming home after attending the funeral of a dear friend's father) and pick up Surrendering Hunger and Your Whole Life and I'll try to figure out how to translate the words on the page into action in my life. Again.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lymphedema Sleeves

My dear friend and cancer survivor Susan of ToddlerPlanet has posted today about a new effort to help breast cancer survivors who have had a mastectomy or axillary dissection of the lymph nodes due to breast cancer. Many of these women develop lymphedema, or swelling of one or both arms, as a result of surgery. In order to help deal with this condition, they need to wear lymphedema sleeves, which are like compression stockings for the arms. However, this pricey and medically necessary "medical device" is not covered under Medicare or most insurance plans. Women who cannot afford the $200 to $500 for the two sets of compression sleeves and gauntlets can now apply to a nonprofit organization founded to help breast cancer survivors. Please read Susan's blog post to find out more, and to donate if you can.

And while you are there, please say a prayer for Susan, who today is seeing her oncologist about some hot spots that showed up on a recent PET scan. They're in the middle of her chest and may indicate a recurrence. Susan is a fantastic woman, the mother of two small boys, the wife of a lovely man, and a space scientist who works on contract to NASA and promotes the idea of women in the sciences with her blog Women in Planetary Science. She is also a three time cancer survivor, and an advocate for others who have had cancer through her blogs, ToddlerPlanet and Mothers with Cancer. Please say a prayer for her and for her family.