Several weeks ago a friend shared with me that her co-worker had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled to have a mastectomy. Her office wanted to do something special for her and asked for some gift ideas. I provided a list that I've since massaged and am now sharing it with you ...just in time for Christmas...though barely.
#1 Clay Cross
This list is in no particular order, though I'm leading with a "must have." A dear friend from church gave me this clay cross when she heard of my diagnosis and impending uni-lateral mastectomy last year. Your fingers wrap perfectly around the cross for soothing comfort. I slept with this at night and sometimes still hold it to quell anxiety. You can find it on Amazon. I don't know why or how it works, but me thinks it contains elf magic.
#2 Items Designed to Pamper
All women relate to the mantra "Look Good, Feel Good." Understandably, when you receive a cancer diagnosis, you have every right to sleep, eat and breathe in nothing but jammies and a robe for as long as your heart desires. But there comes a time when you must get groceries. Some fun bath accessories, a dab of nail polish, lip balm/gloss can help you face the world - or at least the UPS delivery person. If you know of someone recently diagnosed with cancer, or any kind of cancer, consider a basket full of small gifts designed to pamper. Toss a scented candle in there while you're at it.
#3 Novelty Socks
Now, if your friend has just indulged in a pedicure with some of the items you gave her in the gift basket, she may not want to cover her freshly lacquered toes with fun, cozy socks. But she will eventually, and probably before the polish chips away to nothing but little squares of paint on each nail. I received several pairs of warm socks and I wore them all. of. the. time. Still do.
#4 A Journal
Now, I need to confess that I'm not a huge journaler, though every other year I tell myself I'm going to start doing it. The point is, many women do, and if you're looking for a great gift idea for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, consider giving a journal with a nice pen. This way they can record all of their thoughts and perhaps prayer requests and see just how good God is at answering them.
A merry heart does good, like medicine, according to the book of Proverbs, so give the gift of laughter! I adore Chonda Pierce and was thankful to receive this after my diagnosis, but any DVD featuring a comedian can help redirect downcast thoughts that may be brewing and serve as a reminder that there's still a lot of joy to be had in this imperfect world of ours.
"Music has charms to soothe the savage breast." I always thought it soothed the savage beast, but considering the topic I'm happy to be corrected. I fell asleep too many nights to count listening to Collin Raye's CD entitled His Love Remains. I recommend any comforting music, praise songs in particular, that can help ease a troubled heart and mind.
#7 Adult Coloring Book
Adult coloring books with colored pencils and pens are FUN gifts! But beware, if you give them to someone who has children living at home, they may never see your gift again.
My sister-in-law Kym gave me this blanket and I've used it so much I've worn a hole through it! I honestly felt like Linus from Peanuts the way I took this all through the house with me for MONTHS after my surgeries. Who am I kidding? I STILL sleep with it! Give the gift of warmth and security with a plush blanket.
Shortly after my diagnosis I was told to eat more chocolate. Not by my doctor, but by someone who had walked this journey before me so I trusted her and ate my fair share. I have no regrets. Nor any more chocolate. I hope Santa thinks to put some in my stocking this Christmas!
#10 Cute Mug & Beverages
What goes great with chocolate? Anything. I mean, coffee, unless you're trying to sleep at night. Then I grab some Sleepytime Tea. Consider giving a decorative mug full of tea bags and/or a bag of coffee...with chocolate.
#11 Inspirational Book
Of course I must add Joy Is Contagious...Cancer Isn't to this list of gift ideas, and not just because I assembled it and have a chapter in it. But because the stories remind us that even when we're facing something as scary as cancer, God is with us. And as far as gifts go, His son, Jesus, is the greatest gift of all. Additionally, the book goes well with chocolate and coffee while wrapped all snug-like-a-bug-in-a-rug with a blanket. And don't forget the socks.
What would you add to this list?
Have you ever said something so stupid you wanted to smack yourself? Yet you refrained because you didn't want to intensify the deep shade of crimson that was already spreading across your face? No? It's just me? Then learn from me, grasshoppuh.
Several years ago (pre-Tamoxifen - so I can't blame that) I was with my folks and kids visiting a friend's personal observatory. He used his telescope to show us the many constellations visible in the clear night sky, impressing us with all of their names. Now, I took astronomy in college; I'm not entirely ignorant of God's heavenly creations. So, what did I ask this intelligent, amateur astronomer? "Who named the constellations? The Native Americans?" Never mind those Greek and Roman names of constellations. I don't know why that question shot out of my mouth. I must have been thinking of that well known American Indian constellation, "Numskulled Bear."
Now let's fast-forward to last Sunday when I attended my first ever walk for breast cancer awareness. It was the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation's 8th annual Lee Lott Power of Pink Walk.
I had the honor of introducing myself to the walk's namesake, Lee Lott, and picking her brain about how she became associated with the annual event. She was diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer a little less than a decade ago. I won't share her complete story here because I didn't tell her I planned to do so. That's all I need is for friends to view me as some 60 Minutes investigative reporter that blabs everything without their permission.
(FYI...I didn't get the memo to dress cute and in pink. Look how adorable Lee looks with her pink tutu and fun strands of beads. Instead I channeled my inner Johnny Cash that day. "Love is a burning thing...and it makes a fiery ring..." Go ahead and sing it, I can wait.)
Now that you're done singing you're thinking, "When is she going to get to the embarrassing part?" Well, here it goes. After visiting for several minutes with Lee and hearing her story, I told her how glad I was that I finally got to meet her. She politely smiled and said, "We've met before..."
After a slight hesitation, "Oh, yes!" I responded, "Just two weeks ago at the art thingy." I couldn't even think of the word exhibit. For that, I'll blame Tamoxifen. How could I have forgotten meeting someone so amazing and vivacious? Here's proof that I not only met her, but actually stood next to her for a group photo at that art thingy.
See? There I am to the far right on the front row. Aaaaand there's Lee Lott right next to me. Yeah, I could have smacked myself.
Lee, however, was so gracious. Hopefully we all are quick to extend grace to others. You never know what someone is battling, if they lack sleep, if they're medicated, perhaps need to be medicated, or simply their brain for whatever reason isn't firing on all cylinders. Despite the awkward faux pas it was a pretty wonderful day.
I got to meet up with other members of The Rack Pack. Again, they all got the wear- something- cute- like- a- fun- pink- fuzzy- boa- or- scarf memo. Interestingly, one of these gals (won't say who because again, I'm not Morley Safer) and I discovered we were both diagnosed with breast cancer last year on the same day, November 4th. Another precious person (I won't point her out because, again, I didn't obtain her consent) and I discovered we have a mutual friend from my hometown in KY who now lives in Nashville, TN. She's actually related to him and I feel as if I am, so that almost makes her and I related. Like third cousins. I plan on having Thanksgiving with her but she doesn't know it yet.
I enjoyed chatting with Darlene and her family during the 1-mile walk. Not sure if she planned on me talking her ear off, but when you're with me sometimes these things happen. Come to think of it, if I talked less I probably wouldn't say as many stupid things, but then I'd miss out on meeting people for the first time, again.
I'll leave you now with one final picture that includes my Johnny Cash-inspired look. Hope you have a blessed weekend and that you make time to spread some joy.
For the youngins who aren't familiar with "Ring of Fire" I hope you'll watch this video from Home Free and Enjoy! (I think they should be in all black - they didn't get the memo.)
Yesterday I shared a few thoughts on the importance of being part of a community. If you missed that post, you can read every disjointed word of it HERE. Well, today, I want to briefly share another example of community because this excites me so much! It pertains to what I received in the mail today.
This is our neighborhood lifestyle magazine that Yvonne Leffler edits and N2 Publishing prints and mails. N2P’s vision is to bring neighbors closer together through magazines that feature stories written by and about those living within recipe-sharing distance of one another. I promised Yvonne a couple of months ago that I’d submit a story for the October publication about the soon-to-be-released book Joy is Contagious…Cancer Isn’t and my breast cancer support group’s online auction. She said she’d welcome it, and finally it's here!!
I consider Yvonne a friend and enjoy every chance I get to chat with her. Her British accent captivates me. She could rattle off the atomic numbers and weights from the Periodic Table of Elements and I’d hang on to every word. Trust me, you would too because she’s so doggone delightful. (Once she sends me a snapshot of herself I'll add it to this post so you can see her sweet self!) [Edited 10/21/07 to include photo.]
Thank you, Yvonne, for allowing me to promote my book and The Rack Pack’s current fundraiser. And if you’re a neighbor reading this, please submit some stories, or else the magazine runs the risk of becoming The Tales of Kim Tisor and I know you don’t want that. Already in November's issue you'll read a sob story about my endearing dog, Carly, because Yvonne needed it.
Poor girl. She was really in need of some puppy pampering prior to me taking this picture that I submitted with the article, but there was no time. She's 16-years-old and smells like she looks but we all still love her immensely.
And I plan to write a short blurb about my daughter, Rachael, who was nominated by her 6th grade class to represent her grade on the local high school's homecoming court earlier this month. For the record, my children look nothing like me.
Being a contributor for the magazine as well as writing this little blog does my heart good. More than anything I hope this becomes another source of community for both you and me. Please, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. I like to "chat" even if you don't have a cool British accent.
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.