Homemade birthday cards and dancing at St. Joseph’s

Health Update – I got back last night from a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. I’ve been feeling great, yet still need to check in with the oncologists every six months to make sure the sarcoma doesn’t rear its ugly head again. Recurrence is a problem with soft tissue cancer. All the scans went well, with no signs of problems, thanks be to God. I’m so appreciated of people’s continued prayers and support!

One of our students asked me if I went to boarding school. The answer is yes, High School Seminary. When he followed up wondering if I ever got homesick, I could see the tears forming in his eyes. He had a nice Thanksgiving with his grandmother, and now that he’s back on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus, he’s missing her and his relatives so much. He knows St. Joseph’s is a good place for him to be, yet all of us on staff realize how emotionally hard it is to be away. I got homesick several times, even when I moved away for college. Imagine what must go through the mind and heart of a child as young as six! We try to be as supportive as we can, and if family can be reached, give the child a chance to call home and talk. But sometimes there are tears, calling forth a hug or pat on the back, and solidarity with the lonely sadness.

Happy birthday Carol!
Happy birthday Carol!

I joined the Fisher Home (6th– 8th grade boys) for supper. David and Gayle are two of our newest houseparents and are quickly learning the routine and developing relationships with the boys. Gayle likes to cook from scratch and put a great meal on the table that fed the hearty appetites of ten teenage boys. After supper, everyone pitched in to clean up the area of the home they had particular responsibility for. They rotate duties, since no one is particularly fond of washing pots or cleaning bathrooms. Students take good care of the place, although it helps to have houseparents check things over. Carol is a six day houseparent in Fisher and celebrates a birthday tomorrow. After the table was cleaned up, the guys got out paper and crayons and created a pile of cute homemade birthday cards to greet Carol with when she comes in tomorrow. It’s been a while since I got out the crayons, but I gave it my best effort as well.

I noticed the lights on in the Skating Room and stopped to find a group of 4th and 5th grade girls practicing for their “Dancing Dolls” performance. I asked the girls to demonstrate what they have of their routine so far. They started with some timidness and hesitancy, but once they got the beat down, started to lose themselves in the music and have fun. I look forward to seeing how they respond in front of the crowd a couple of weeks from now.

The girls practicing for their “Dancing Dolls” routine.
The girls practicing for their “Dancing Dolls” routine.

A visit with my oncologists

Checking in, checking up, checking out!

I’ve been on the road a lot lately, and today is a day to do laundry and repack my bags for the next trip. We’re going to Pittsburgh for donor appreciation luncheons and I’m sure I’ll have a few good stories to tell after our return.

Last night, I returned from the Mayo Clinic after follow-up tests and visits with my oncologists. Thanks be to God, my cancer is still in remission, and I won’t have to return for another checkup for in six months.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Overall, I’ve generally been feeling good. Still, I had a touch of anxiety heading for the check ups because I didn’t feel ill when they discovered the cancer in the first place. As I drove into Rochester, instead of sickly feelings, my memories of people who visited me in the hospital and at Hope Lodge, places we ate and conversations we had. I recalled fellow patients who offered their support. As I walked through the halls for my appointments, I remembered the initial visits, not knowing my way around, not knowing quite what to expect. Through the grace of God I’ve come a long way.

Like many of us who hit middle age, the doctor did notice rising levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and told me to take it easy on the holiday sweets and treats. He said I need to adjust my eating habits, (and take to heart the healthy school lunch challenge that St. Joseph’s Indian School earned!) and eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and keep sugars and saturated fats to a minimum. He also said, the nerves in my leg have probably healed about as much as they’re going to. I’ll have to give up on fast breaks and stick to a set shot. But all in all, he was very happy with the progress I’ve made.

I enjoyed the gracious hospitality at St. John’s parish, which is literally across the street from the Mayo Clinic. Fr. Jerry and Fr. John have made it a home-away-from-home when I go for check-ups. At the 12:10 mass, I ran into a couple of St. Joseph’s donors who assured me of their continued prayers and a woman who herself was visiting the clinic for cancer treatments. We promised to keep each other in our prayers. My own brush with this illness has made me more aware of others struggling with health issues. I continue to hear from many people each day, requesting prayers and I am very mindful of all those in need of healing.

The drive is long, about 350 miles each way. But after the good news, I traveled back on eagles wings, with spirits soaring.

Back on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus, I noticed that three boys, in one family, have been checked out for an extended period of time, and asked if they were going to withdraw. Their home is two hours distant and their grandmother has been critically ill. They’ve gone back home to be of support to her. But they’ve done well at St. Joseph’s and definitely want to stay. They hope to be able to return after Christmas break. In the meantime, our teachers have been sending work home where an aunt is home schooling them for these weeks.

I thought that was a creative and compassionate solution that lets them be with family at such an important time.