The weekend is almost here and it looks like the weather is going to be nearly perfect. Blue skies, warm breezes, 80 something, and perfect for a summer ride. The best way to spend your weekend is on the back of the most beautiful animal God has blessed us with. When you are in the saddle you can forget the world around you, you can feel the mountains surround you, and you can get lost in the beauty of a sweet summer day. We love to get the horse out and ready to follow the trail wherever it leads. We look for treasures along the way. We might find some old antlers a deer lost some time ago, we may come across a crystal clear stream we have never seen before, we might happen on a raspberry bush full to the sweetest raspberries you have ever tasted. We never know what we are going to find as we ride but we always now what we will bring home.
We always come home with a smile, a feeling of contentment, and the enjoyable serenity that only a summer ride in the mountains can bring.
The constancy of breast cancer has become such a part of our daily lives we are no longer surprised by the diagnosis of thousands of women around the world, yet when it forces its presence into our inner circle we gasp with the harsh reality and shed tears of what lies ahead and it isn’t just the disease itself – it is the many methods used to combat the horror that subjects women to fearful, lonely, startlingly vulnerable scenarios that break their hearts a little at a time. When it is done, all the scans and readings, the surgeries, the endless consultations, the poisonous treatments, and you hopefully emerge “clean”, the pain of those months seem bearable, but in the early steps of the journey, and even the middle ones, before you can see the results, there is a deep grieving that the sufferer must endure. When my sister began the radiation portion of her treatment, and she described to me the mean moments of feeling helpless and exposed, at the mercy of people she didn’t know, I heard a wrenching discouragement in her voice, and the only thing I could pray was that somehow in the weeks of treatment ahead of her she would find some element of joy. There wasn’t anything joyful about a bi-lateral mastectomy, with months of chemotherapy, loss of hair and strength, utter exhaustion, always feeling less than whole, but somehow the radiation seemed like the final blow in a long drawn out fight, because we had hoped she would be able to avoid that portion. After her first ugly encounter, I dreaded the days she had ahead of her, until I received the call after her second treatment. She spoke of a room full of people, all awaiting their radiation treatment, and in their midst a group of nuns who called everyone honey, and walked from patient to patient with trays of donuts and Danish, pushing their sweets and their sweetness on the crowd. Every little bit one of them sang out a name, and the owner would pass the desk and ring a little bell as they went through the doors for their “medicine”. We laughed as she vividly described this elderly crew of women, dressed in their habits and Bronco sweatshirts plying the radiation patients with pastries and good cheer. The conversation concluded with a grand assurance in both our hearts that my sister, despite the weeks ahead of her, had found the one thing she needed to get through it. In those Bronco loving nuns, she had found her joy.
Perhaps the most dreaded utterance in the English language, or in languages worldwide is the word cancer, for with it comes a series of other words, like chemo-therapy, radiation, surgery, autoimmune disease, and death. When my sister’s regular annual exam brought about the discovery of something “questionable”, I was the first to say that it would be nothing, and yet, perhaps a week later, though it felt like months, we were discussing the treatment her oncologist was recommending for her breast cancer. It was as though we were walking one day as sisters, and then we were walking as cancer victim and onlooker, because there was no way I could walk in her shoes. Helplessly, I could do nothing more than possibly carry her shoes when they became too heavy for her. She faced her future with fear, certainly, but with the grace of one who knew that her steps were ordered, and she would walk them honestly and in faith, and I would share in her faith, praying that each step further from the diagnosis would bring her closer to health. The uncertainty was painful, but the greater pain came in knowing that the belief I had always unconsciously held that she would be protected from anything as horrific as breast cancer, that we all would, was a thing of the past. We indeed had cancer.
When someone in the family unit is sick, in a big way, the entire family feels it to the depths of their soul. Knowing there is great need, and knowing as well that there is nothing you can do to make it all go away is terrible and frightening and a little heart wrenching. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which, since not one of us hasn’t been touched by someone who is part of that sorority, the “awareness” isn’t at the heart of this. It is more of an exposure, a coming together, an admission that we are better in numbers, in groups of people who are willing to stand with our hand extended to walk along side, to embrace with passion, to say you are never alone. Our goal is wellness, and for all of those who have moved ahead of the disease, we are applauding joyfully, and for those who are still wondering everyday where this will end, we want to say that when it does end, or if it never does, we will be there. As a sister of a survivor, we have been there and we will stay.
On Saturday August 6th, 3:30 PM, Kayla Kubiak (16), was with our Evergreen Rodeo Princess, Crysten Ackley (17), whose car skid on loose gravel and rolled off a as they were coming down the hill on Buffalo Park Road just before Evergreen High School. Crysten broke two vertebrae in her neck but was released from the hospital with a neck brace, stitches and 8 staples in the back of her head. Kayla is still in intensive care at the hospital as she was ejected from the car and is in critical condition with extensive injuries including a shattered pelvis and broken leg. Kayla’s parents have been at the hospital since it began and are experiencing extreme hardship. Kayla is in great need of any assistance the community can give her and her family. There was also another passenger, Stephen Watts (22), who was bruised and suffered a concussion. In lieu of flowers or cards for these kids we ask that donations be made to: The Kayla Kubiak Fund and mailed or dropped off to Evergreen National Bank P.O. Box 2020 Evergreen, CO 80437. It is our hope to rally the community of Evergreen and support this local family in any way possible. Our prayers and thoughts are with them during this difficult time. Thank You.
And each night I’d spent prayin’ that God would make her mine…
…And as she walked away I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord for the gifts in my life.
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Just remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs’
Just because he don’t answer don’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
There is purpose in the journey our lives take, the ups and downs, even the things that we think of as “bad” can often lead us to the place we are actually meant to be. Be careful of shunning the turn your walk has taken, remembering that on a single day we are not able to see the broad picture, the road yet to come. If we let the difficulties stop us in our tracks we will miss the prize that is waiting around that next bend, that was waiting all along, that we never would have found if we had pursued the thing we were sure we wanted in the first place.