I’ve been driving my dear friend Susan to radiation treatment for breast cancer in Marquette several times in these past couple of months. She’s traveled to the hospital for treatment over an hour and a half away from Baraga five days a week for almost six weeks. (That was after a round of chemotherapy up in Hancock earlier this year.)
She (and we) have driven through snowstorms, slush, rain and ice white-knuckling the wheel, feeling nowhere near radiant. Just praying to make it to Marquette and home alive. That’s all part of the challenges when you’re faced with cancer and live in the rural areas of the Upper Peninsula.
I have learned so much from holding Susan’s hand as she experiences this challenging time in her life. I have watched her be so very brave. I’ve witnessed her laughter, her angst, her grin, her struggles, and her beauty.
Wow…I’ve learned that it’s not a person’s spirit who “gets cancer”. The body may produce cancer cells, but the person’s essence remains the same, shining out radiance and being even when times may feel tough.
Susan is my hero–well, she has always been my hero–even before those cancer cells appeared. She seemingly understands and loves me as much as I love her. She and I often chat and laugh all the way to treatment. Can you imagine laughing and loving and living vibrantly at a time like this? But that’s what we do. We allow the cancer to sit between us in the car, but it’s not going to become the focal point. What is the focal point is the radiance of being alive and acting silly and telling word jokes and trying to figure out life.
Yesterday we arrived in Marquette a half hour before her appointment, since no imminent snowstorms or slush or dreaded ice interfered with the drive. We headed down to the Lower Harbor and noticed–ohmygoodness!–a magnificent sunrise staining the sky above Lake Superior.
We jumped out of the car and grabbed the camera (since resuming blogging I decided to start carrying the camera around again) and scurried toward the water.
Equally amazing–a beautiful freighter parked at the pier, its lights shining in the orange-pink-yellow dawn sky.
Barry (who also once drove Susan and me to Marquette during a challenging snowy morning) later visited boatnerd.com where you can look up the names of the freighters on the Great Lakes. We suspect it’s the Lee A. Tregurtha, although the Algosteel was located off Marquette when we looked later in the afternoon. (Boatnerd shows the boats’ locations in real-time, so it can be confusing when you search six hours later.)
Now a little practical information about this freighter:
This ship was built in the early stages of World War II as a tanker for Mobiloil. It launched in 1942. It was taken over by the Navy for the Atlantic Fleet, and then commissioned in Pearl Harbor. In 1960 Cleveland Cliffs bought it to carry ore in the Great Lakes. In 1989 Ford Motor Company renamed it the the Lee A. Tregurtha.
But Susan and I weren’t thinking practical yesterday morning. Instead, we were basking in the radiance of the skies. In a feeling of mystery and magic and awe.
Life can sometimes be just so beautiful, can’t it?
Even in the midst of fear or worries or confusion, the brightness of dawn can continue to shine forth bringing hope and gratitude.
Loving the radiance of your being, Susan “Dee”. Keep on shining, my friend…
It’s been my honor to accompany you on your journey.
You just might get me back to blogging again. Been thinking about it. Beautiful photos and sentiments and I wish only the best for your friend in her battle. Laughter can be the best medicine of all along with love and friendship.
There should be a like button somewhere around here for the idea of you starting to blog again.
Dawn King, I’m smiling real big with that comment!
I see that you understand, Scott. Thank you. And maybe you should start blogging again, too. It may be the season for jump-starting our old blogs again. 🙂
Smiling down here. And prayers sent for your friend. You guys must have been on the road EARLY to get all the way to Marquette and still see the sunrise! Which, by the way, was beautiful!
Dawn, I was up at 5:30 that day, and we met in L’Anse at 6:30 a.m. Susan was up way earlier, though. Glad you liked the sunrise. It was a magical morning!
Sunrises like this can warm the coldest soul and soothing a troubled heart. Your photos are superb. Susan’s battle is all too familiar these days, but it’s friends like you that, like the sunrise, sooth a troubled heart.
Carol, you are so right. It is true…there are so many people challenged with cancer these days. The radiation waiting room people told stories of all sorts of cancer challenges. I am glad you liked the photos. For some reason, I thought they didn’t turn out well last night. But Barry said I should look again in the morning, and he was right. Thanks again.
“Even in the midst of fear or worries or confusion, the brightness of dawn can continue to shine forth bringing hope and gratitude.” Kathy, this is such a beautiful truth! Thank you for the reminding us of God’s gift of this beautiful planet. May we always have eyes that see the wonder around us and hearts that are open to miracles. Please tell Susan that my prayers are with her and I hope you know my love and prayers are with you too. It’s so nice to see you back here again! ❤ xoxo
Brenda, thank you for your kind words. I am glad that this truth spoke to you. Susan is reading these comments and I am sure each and every blessing and prayer will shine radiantly forth. (And I am really enjoying blogging again. Guess I needed ten months off!)
You somehow seem to channel personal conversations in my life. Medical care in a rural area (specifically the UP) and freighters on Lake Superior have been dominating my conversations in the last day. I am so happy that you are blogging again, you fill an empty spot in my soul.
John, how funny that you’ve been talking about rural health care and freighters. I did zip into your head for a moment and thought you might enjoy this. *grin*
I love you, Kathy D. Thank you for this — for your friendship and magic and spirit. I’m so glad you were born! Thank you to all who send well wishes. Blessings.
I love you, too, Susan Dee! Let’s do it again sometime soon. If it’s National French Toast Day. lol…
I, too, am happy to see you blogging again. Thanks for sharing your journey with Susan, what a beautiful tribute to her in your words. My friend at school (Peggy) is just beginning this journey and I hope I can be even half of what you’ve been to Susan. Blessing to both of you.
Joann, I just heard about Peggy earlier today. Nancy at the Sentinel told Barry about this. I know you will be a big support to her. Blessings to YOU! And thank you for reading and commenting.
This is lovely, from start to finish. From the kindness of your friendship to the long and sometimes fearful drives, to the “surprise” gift of a beautiful sunrise, to your gorgeous photos to – best of all – your sharing of the experience. Thanks, Kathy! All my best wishes to Susan!
Cindy, I am glad you enjoyed this. It was one of those blogs that warmed my heart to write. It was a day filled with grace. I know Susan will read your comment and smile in gratitude.
Susan is very fortunate to have you and you are fortunate as well. I am sending healing thoughts to Susan and my she soon be free of that awful disease. She really does have a wonderful outlook on her life and illness.
I really like the photos and I’m so glad to see a part of the U.S. that I will never see. The photos give me a perspective of what it looks like where you live.
Thank you, Yvonne. She does have a really good outlook on what’s happening to her body. She’s taught me a lot. Glad you enjoyed the photos. We were lucky to happen upon that dawn beauty.
Oh thank you, dear Kiah. Glad you had some time to read!
Hang on. It’s an hour and a half drive and you got there early and saw the sun rise!! That was an early start.
I had to look hard to see the freighter. Tres kewl photo.
Life can be tough. Good friends smooth the way….
Sybil, we left town at 6:20. Tomorrow morning–heaven forbid–we are meeting at 5:50. Glad you saw the freighter. Now close your eyes and try to picture it. LOL!
Profoundly beautiful. Like the both of you.
Ruth, thank you. I am glad you enjoyed reading this. Hope you get 100% better soon! Much love…Kathy Sue
A radiant post in so many ways. Friends – good friends- help us shine within and without. My guess is that you and Susan do that for each other, Kathy. in fact, perhaps you two are the reason for the amazingly gorgeous sunrise…
Pam, I just discovered your comment in the “spam” folder. So glad it was retrieved because your comment is just as radiant as you are…
Thanks for letting me know. Turns out all of my comments are going into Spam. I know I’m not a GREAT writer, but not that bad, either. ;-0 I’m in process of ‘chatting’ with WP to see what the problem is. xoxox
In my book you’re a GREAT writer, one of the best! Get ye out of Spam! Hope they give you a free “get out of jail” card and you can sprint happily-ever-after across the Word Press Board of Monopoly.
Awww. Thanks for the pat and the hug and the smile. I am being “investigated.” :-0 !!!!
I adore you, Kathy D. Much obliged to you for this — for your kinship and enchantment and soul. I’m so happy you were conceived! Much obliged to you to all who send well wishes. Endowments.
My goodness, this was a lovely comment to find this morning! Thank you so much…
Gorgeous photos! I’m glad to see you’re blogging again, Kathy. Let Susan know there are strangers like me rooting for her recovery. Your blogging inspires good vibes all around and I’m swishing them over to your dear friend, and you too for being a dear friend to her.
Sara, thank you kindly! I know Susan is reading these comments, so she’ll surely appreciate the swishing vibes. Thanks for coming back to read. Blessings to you!
I’m so glad you’re blogging again. This post and the beautiful pictures brought tears to my eyes.
Awww, Lunar, YOUR comment brought tears to MY eyes!!
So wonderful pics, made me feel very excited
So very glad that you enjoyed. Thanks for stopping by these shores.
Awww, thanks for reading, Jeff…
Love the photos. I am cancer free now for 2.5years
Glad you liked the sunrise pictures. So happy that you are cancer-free now!
Thank you Kathy, means a lot. 6 year plus journey. Suffering happens each day, but then so does life so I to am please I am cancer free and hope to hear others stories also. 😊👍🏼
Prayers for your dear friend as you travel this road together! My youngest son is a 4th year medical student and was invited to interview in Marquette for a residency spot the week before Christmas as he goes through the ‘match’ process for MD residents. He was raised ‘up north’ and even though he has been studying down below for many years, I know part of him would like to return to the north….but who knows where the match will send him!
The challenges of access you described for rural patients just add to the stress and challenges they face. I know your friend is so grateful for you on the road with her!
Karen, thank you for your kind words. My friend is done with her radiation now and waiting until February to discover the results. I know your youngest son will end up in a place that will serve him best…it would be interesting if it ends up being Marquette! And, yes, rural patients can have big challenges. Blessings…