A Humorous Look at the Bright Side of Cancer...
And There Is One

Letter To My Benefactor

June 21, 2019

Letter #45 To My Benefactor

Dear Benefactor,

It has been a really long time. On March 8, 2018, I promised you that I would go hiking again. Well, I hit a bit of a snag.

Boy-howdy, who am I kidding? It’s been rough.

On April 11, 2018, I ended up in the ER. I had been having sporadic, excruciating pain on the left side of my abdomen for a year and a half. I was sent home with a possible diagnosis of a kidney stone.

I went to several doctors to keep searching for an answer and by June 3, I was diagnosed with celiac sprue. I guess my colon was bleeding, hence my pain. Because of the internal bleeding, I ended up with severe anemia. (The normal range for ferritin is from 10 to 232, and my ferritin was 5.)

Not only did I have severe anemia, I had also gained 40 pounds because I was in so much pain all the time and had not been able to exercise like before.

Last year, on July 1, 2018, I determined to try to go hiking with my family from Ontario, Canada. I settled on Cutthroat Trail which is an easy trail I’ve done before. (I told you all about my first time hiking it in Letter #32 to you.)

About twenty minutes in, I knew I was in trouble. I turned around and bawled my head off for those 20 minutes back to the car, so frustrated with myself. The medical websites weren’t kidding when they said that “anemia causes weakness and fatigue.”

Since that day, I’ve had a mental block about hiking.

I’ve managed to lose 24 pounds and my ferritin level is up. Therefore, I have decided it’s time to get back into hiking. Tomorrow morning, I am going to conquer that Cutthroat Trail. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.




By |June 2019|Letter To My Benefactor|

March 8, 2018

Letter #44 To My Benefactor

December 9, 2017 – Bethany Covenant Church

Dear Benefactor,

I’ve been a bad girl. I have not hiked since November when I conquered the Waihe Ridge Trail in Maui. I told you all about it in my last letter to you.

You see, I’ve been super sad. My uncle has Stage IV lung cancer. It happened super fast. In fact, I just told you—only four letters ago—about him. I had no idea at the time of how sick he was. Neither did he.

In June, he left on a long road trip to mourn the loss of his beloved wife so I wrote him a smushy Father’s Day card (no, he is not my father, but that is a story for another day) telling him how much I loved him the day before he left.

He ended up in the emergency room coughing up blood while he was in eastern Canada, and they diagnosed him on the spot right there during his “vacation.” What the heck???

In that smushy letter, I had told Uncle John that I really missed Aunt Ann and planned on planting yellow roses on Memorial Day which, incidentally, was the actual day of her death, and now here he was, fighting for his own life.

I don’t want to plant all kinds of roses in honor of her and him. I want to sit in the yard with him and admire the many yellow roses that I already have in the garden which remind me of Aunt Ann. We would have peppermint tea (which is his favorite) and I would try to crack him up with my jokes so he could snort and say, “Cut it out!” in that distinctive voice of his.

So, you see why I have not been hiking. I will get back to it, I promise. For now, I’m trying to spend every precious moment I can with Uncle John while he is still around.



By |March 2018|Letter To My Benefactor|

November 25, 2017

Letter #43 To My Benefactor

November 21, 2017

Dear Benefactor,

Guess what? I finally went for another hike. Maui, this time.

It took Ken and me about two hours to get to the top in the burning hot sun. In case you want the details, the Waihee Ridge Trail is 2.1 miles up with a 1563-foot elevation gain. In other words, it was freaking hard. For me, anyway. Ken barely broke a sweat. I huffed and puffed like an old granny.

Five minutes after we made it to the summit, the clouds rolled in. One minute back down the trail, it started pouring. And we started sliding. I thought I was going to die.

Fast forward two days. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a quick turkey sandwich at the airport, waiting to board our plane home.

That’s when the fun began. First, our freezer broke. As I related on Facebook, “Reality check: came home from Maui to a broken freezer. On our way to town on a Black Friday to go shopping. Shoot. Me. Now.” We bought a freezer, had it delivered, and spent all day throwing away hundreds and hundreds of dollars’ worth of meat and trying to save any fruit that was still partially frozen.

Today, the fun continued. Both dogs had explosive diarrhea all over our laundry room. Must have been the thawed cherries they dug out of the compost pile.

So, in addition to the complaining I did on Facebook, I now felt like swearing my head off and complaining some more.

Instead, this is what I know:

1. I just got to go to Maui for 12 days.
2. I hiked the Waihee Ridge Trail and I did not fall and break my neck in the mud on the way down or fall off the cliff.
3. I have not had a reoccurrence of cancer like I thought I would.
4. I have a new freezer because I had the money to pay for it.
5. I have a house over my head, a warm bed to sleep in every night, and cupboards full of food. Not everyone is so fortunate.
6. I have lots of friends who care about me.
7. I have a family who loves me.
8. I have a benefactor who, several years ago, paid for my hiking boots.

In other words, I am content.



By |November 2017|Letter To My Benefactor|

November 17, 2017

Letter #42 To My Benefactor

Steamboat Rock State Park – August 10, 2017

Dear Benefactor,

The last time I wrote you, I mentioned that Ken and I were going camping with some friends on the other side of the mountains (with our new RV) and I would try to go hiking, using those boots you bought me.

Remember how I also mentioned my fear of rattlesnakes?

Someone in our party got stuck up on the hilltop blocked by a rattlesnake—the hilltop depicted in this picture, in fact—and by then, any inclination I had of going hiking went out the window because I just couldn’t conquer my fear.

I went biking every day instead.



By |November 2017|Letter To My Benefactor|

August 6, 2017

Letter #41 To My Benefactor

Fragrance Lake with wonderful friends from Ontario, Canada – July 17, 2017

Benefactor! Benefactor! Benefactor!

So much stuff has been happening around here, I hardly know where to start.

I definitely have not been having any extra time to wallow around feeding into my survivor’s guilt.

First of all, I told you (in my last letter to you) that I would go hiking again soon, and I did. I’m not sure how I managed to squeeze it in with all the crazy stuff happening around here, but I did.

You would be so proud of me, because I made it to the top of Fragrance Lake the very first try this year. Granted, I was with three other people and there was a lot of huffing and puffing going on—I didn’t want to get embarrassed by lying down on the side of the trail for a nap (or death)—but I did it.

Here’s the picture for proof.

Okay, big digression there, but here is what’s been happening:

a) We bought a travel trailer. Never ever thought we would own one of those, but we do. In fact, the maiden voyage of this wonderful contraption is happening in half an hour. Another fact, Ken will be coming into my office to yell at me any moment that it is time to go, so I am typing 100 words per minute right now.

b) Item #5 on my bucket list will probably be fulfilled while we are camping on the other side of the mountains with our new travel trailer. We are finally getting a concrete patio.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of hiking—not with the shoes you bought me—but mainly back and forth to the RV and prepping the ground for bucket lists, but my Keens are coming with me. They are in the trailer as we speak, waiting for me.

There are rattlesnakes where we are going, so I hope I can get the courage up to hike. We both know how I feel about bears and cougars and murderers in the woods.

Gotta go. If you never hear from me again, it means one of those rattlesnakes got me. I beat cancer, so what’s a little rattlesnake, right? Right? Hello?

We’ll hope for the best, eh?



By |August 2017|Letter To My Benefactor|