Looking for Direction? Follow the Signs.

Are you at a crossroads in life? Maybe you’re considering a move or a personal or professional change. Perhaps a major change has been thrust upon you such as the loss of a loved one or a recent health diagnosis. Regardless of the life challenge, choosing the right path going forward is not always crystal clear.

If you’re looking for direction, my advice to you is follow the signs. The signs I’m referring to can’t be found using Google Maps. These are signs that come to you in the form of feelings, dreams, nature, or in everyday life activities. Some people rely on an internal instinct, often referred to as a “gut feel” to make big decisions. Others are tuned into their dreams and can literally see the future play itself out like a movie in their subconscious at night. Still others may see something in nature that stops them in their tracks like a rainbow, cardinal, or hawk in an uncharacteristic setting. Lastly, individuals may hear a certain song on the radio, a message while reading a book, watching a TV show, or movie and feel like a message is being sent directly to them.

I had a special sign that came to me following my mother, Max’s, passing. My mom and I were very close and I was really struggling with the loss. On the day of her memorial service, I noticed a single shiny dime on our dining room carpet. Soon thereafter, I began to come across single dimes in my daily travels. I’d find a dime in my pants or jacket pocket, in my car on the driver-side floor mat, in the dryer, on the ground at the gas pump, etc. I was talking to a close friend about this experience and they sent me the following saying: “When you find a dime, stop and pick it up. A found dime is a sign from heaven that a loved one is thinking of you. It shows that you are on the right path in life and someone is always looking out for you.”

If you’re thinking maybe this guy was smoking something, there is more to this story. Fast forward two years and we are getting Max’s house ready for sale. In her attic, we found a box marked “Christmas items,” and in it were two Christmas card books of dimes. The one card cover read “Here’s A Sockful Of Dimes For A Fine Grandson,” given to me by Nan & Pap Evans ( Max’s parents) on my first Christmas. The other card cover read “Some Christmas Dimes For You” and was given to me by my mom and dad around the same time. I felt these cards were the missing piece to why I was finding single dimes everywhere and knowing this brought me a real sense of calm and inner peace. Now I know that when I find a dime, I have three special angels that are looking out for me.

If you pay attention to unique occurrences that arise in your daily life, you may also find a gift or message that you are seeking. The following little piece reinforces the notion and I hope it speaks to you:


Searching

 Searching for answers, nowhere to be found.

You know it doesn’t hurt sometimes, to stop and look around.

For those answers that we search, seem difficult to find,

But oftentimes those answers, lie way down deep inside.

In our hearts and in our minds, where the questions first arose

And the seeds of doubt were planted, complicating life’s winding road.

So why keep on searching; think back to where it all began.

Then you’ll come to the realization, that the answers were at hand.

 

Yours truly,
Frank

Why Blog?

Up to this point I have resisted suggestions to “start blogging,” but now the timing feels right to me. For those of you that read my book Know Your Enemy, you may recall that I stated early on I never intended to write a book, let alone a cancer book. I believe this book was written through me and I was merely the conduit to get a message of hope and can-do spirit to first-time cancer patients and caregivers.

I plan on using the same approach for this blog; that is to let thoughts and topics flow through me and post them to the blogosphere. I intend to write about subjects that are universal in nature. I want the message to be positive, motivational, authentic, and hopefully inspirational. I will also follow the simple rule of leaving subjects of politics and religion at the doorstep.

The writing style for this blog will be conversational. I want readers to feel like they are sitting around the kitchen table or breakfast bar with a group of friends discussing topics of the day. Since I relate best to the world through music, specifically song lyrics, humorous stories and famous quotes or sayings, I will use these forms to present the content found in this blog.

I began appreciating these forms of writing when I realized how inspirational such forms could be for people. Often times, some words of encouragement or a little act of kindness can be all that it takes to get a person back on track. For me, I had this epiphany 30 years ago and it is when I wrote one of my first poems. The poem was written for an IBM colleague and friend from the Windy City who was going through a difficult time. I wanted to write a little pick-me-up piece to lift her spirits and penned the following poem. I’ve always liked the message of persistence and perseverance that it conveys and regardless of your age or lot in life, I believe it remains relevant today. This poem can also be found in Know Your Enemy. I hope it will resonate with you too:

 

Untitled

When times get tough, as they often do
Plant your feet firmly; you’re going to make it through.
Dig down deep inside, and don’t be afraid to cry
But whatever you do, don’t ever ask why.
Remember what got you this far; you made it on your own,
But also remember family and friends are here
To make sure you’re not fighting alone.
Today the chips seem down, tomorrow’s a brand new day
And you know what you have to look forward to.
Everything-Going-Your-Way!

5 Ways To Be A Confident Caregiver

Practical Tips For Caregivers of Cancer Patients

If you are about to become a caregiver or just found out that you are a caregiver of someone with cancer, odds are, you have a lot of new things running through your head.  There is a lot you need to know and a lot that you need to learn.  Being a caregiver is a job that includes not only logistics and physical needs, but also emotional needs as well.  We know that you’re often also handling all of your other responsibilities as well.  

Don’t stress, my friend!  You CAN do this and your loved one needs you now more than ever!  Here are a few simple reminders to help you move forward in confidence as a caregiver of someone with cancer.

  1. Take Notes:  There will be A LOT coming at you, so take notes and get organized from the start.  Whether you like a handwritten notebook or binder to keep notes straight, or you like a digital version on your phone or small device, find something that works.  Just remember, that you might be taking these notes a lot of places so you want something that can easily be taken into an exam room and be with you all on the go!
  2. Plan for your own health.  You can’t help your loved one if you aren’t well yourself.  Go into this cancer fight with the perspective that you will have times of exhaustion or physical limits.  Know your limits and be prepared when you hit them.  The last thing you need is to feel discouraged.  Go ahead and feel tired, but plan ahead so that you don’t burn out.  Perhaps you need others to help fill in so that you get a break from time to time.  Perhaps you can’t physically lift your loved one to help them shower or get out of bed. Think ahead to have your network of people around to help!
  3. Gather your information:   Gather the vital information that you or someone else might need.  This includes insurance information for the patient, doctors’ numbers, pharmacy information, etc.  Keep that handy for when others might step in to help or just to save your sanity and make it easy!
  4. Plan for irritability ahead of time.  Anyone going through pain and disease will feel grouchy a time or two.  Often certain medications have side effects that cause irritability.  I’ve found that when I have that as a mental reminder in my head, I don’t take things personally when my patient is frustrated.  You can love with grace instead of taking things as an offense.  
  5. Read my book.  No, seriously.  Read my book and read others like it.  I wrote Know Your Enemy because I want families to be smart about how they approach the cancer fight.  I want to help set you up for success because I believe when you know your enemy and are educated, you can fight better and smarter.  There are people like me who have walked through the cancer fight multiple times, whether as a patient or as a friend, and you can learn a lot from others!

A cancer diagnosis can be quite the shock, and many people find themselves in caregiving situations by default when that diagnosis comes.  You may not feel prepared for this next season, but trust me, you are!   You have what it takes to fight cancer with strength and walk alongside your loved one to help them fight with all they’ve got too!  

Staying Motivated: National Cancer Prevention Month

A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.
– Hippocrates

As you may or may not know, February is National Cancer Prevention Month. What I like about this particular campaign, is that it focuses on prevention in addition to awareness.

Keeping in mind that cancer prevention is possible by making simple lifestyle adjustments, I’ve thankfully been able to gain focus on getting my health in check for February and for the rest of the year.

Here are 3 things I would recommend to do to create good exercise habits for the rest of 2017 in honor of Cancer Prevention month:

Challenge Yourself to Daily 30 Min Exercise
Take 30 minutes each day to get the body moving and blood pumping. It doesn’t have to be extreme and there’s no need for a gym membership. You just need to get up and get outside for some physical activity. On the days when you are not feeling up to a challenge, step it up with some bike riding, running or weights. The important part is to just keep your body in motion.

Evaluating and Optimizing your Diet:
The key here is balance. So, plan on incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet and limit processed foods and red meats. With the reports linking red meat consumption to colon cancer, this should be a no-brainer. Boosting your nutrition habits will help fortify your immune system and cut the risk of cancer.


Maintain a Healthy Weight.
Carrying around excess weight is not only bad for your joints and can place strain on your cardiovascular system; it has also been linked to different types of cancers. Keeping your weight at a solid and steady level will not only prevent chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, it can also help prevent against types of cancer. As a bonus, if you follow the first two steps, maintaining a good weight shouldn’t be hard.

The American Institute for Cancer Research has estimated that about one-third of the most common cancers in the US could be prevented by simply exercising, eating better and keeping your weight in check. Read more at American Cancer Society: Weight and Cancer .

For those of us who have made resolutions for 2017 to get healthy, this is great source of motivation to keep going. And for those of us who have had trouble keeping our resolutions, this is the perfect time to give ourselves a second chance.

Just remember, it’s never too late to change your habits and yourself for the better.

Please feel free to share your own story or leave some kind words of encouragement in the comments section below.

I hope the rest of 2017 and beyond, finds you healthy and happy.