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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When Does Summer at the Beach Spark Fear? Coco’s Journey; Chapter 21

By Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor

Ovarian Cancer; Facing Fears; Coco's Journey
Rubbing her head, the gritty little bits of stubble were bursting forth like a freshly planted wheat field on the surface of her head—a breaking forth of spring. And it was spring—to Coco. New life. New hope. The testimony her hair revealed was—chemotherapy was all behind her—at least for now. And maybe, just possibly, hopefully forever. But time would reveal that uncertainty. One thing learned from the cancer road was in concrete. This whole cancer adventure had taught her patience—and humility—and a fresh view of life.

Equipped with her sense of momentary hope, she walked the streets of Kiawah’s town center on her summer beach vacation. And there in the heat of the day, she noticed a man pushing a woman in a wheelchair. An unusual couple mixed in with all the young families galavanting around for their summer outings.The temperature that day hovered somewhere around the hundred degree mark. The sweat was dripping from under her arms. Actually, it was pouring out like a faucet. Heat, taking its toll on her—draining what little strength she had built up. But knowing that this heat was temporary--but real, she wondered about the man pushing the woman. The couple disappeared around the corner.

Five minutes later as she was enjoying her sweet tea at a shaded table on the sidewalk, she watched the odd couple round the corner and come right towards her. They stopped one table over and parked in the shade as well. When the man went in to buy them something, the confined woman looked out towards the street. And when she did, Coco caught a glimpse of her eyes. Unexpectedly, they sparked a memory. I know those eyes.

Then the woman turned towards Coco and their eyes locked. 

She definitely knew that face. But from where? And maybe it wasn’t the face that was so familiar, but the eyes. Tired and sunken as they were, they were memorable. 

Something came up in her memory just as the woman spoke. “Coco? It’s me. Marcia Covington.”

It all came flooding back. The lunch. The fear. The questions. I was supposed to call you back. This was the woman she had had lunch with not four months ago in Atlanta. The acquaintance with ovarian cancer. The dying one. The one she was supposed to arrange a follow up meal with… But today she looked different.

Guilt welled up. 

As she thought of what to say, Coco reasoned silently, but quickly, searching the recesses of her mind as to why she had not pursued this sweet woman. Chemo brain? Maybe. Busy? No, not really. Why didn’t I follow up? Then she landed on the reason—which would remain forever secret. The answer was embedded in her fears. More guilt. 

Coco knew it would be too difficult to talk to someone in the first person losing their battle to ovarian cancer. That mirror would be hard to reflect upon. 

“Marcia, it’s… It’s… It’s good to see you.”

“What are you doing here?” her friend said slowly with labored breathing.

“We’re having a little summer vacation… You?” 

As Marcia answered and they carried on their conversation, Coco studied her in the wheelchair. Though she was partially listening, she was equally analyzing everything Marcia—the woman defined everything her diagnosis could be. She studied her friend’s weight loss, her pale skin, the wheelchair, the labored breathing, the weak voice. There were conclusions in the clues. Coco could not and would not ask her how she was actually doing. The answer was staring at her. An awkward moment of silence followed.  

This short conversation was a slap of reality, revealing the truth of human frailty. It made Coco see a snapshot of how it could be—of how this could be her—and would be except for the grace of God… 

Coco’s fears surfaced once again. Sadness overcame her. 

And while she questioned being here now engaged in this exchange, Marcia asked. “I will be back home next week, would you be interested in going out to lunch?”

The courteous part of her wanted to say “of course.” The fearful part of her wanted to find a way out. But the woman in the chair was looking up… Smiling… 

She nodded yes.

Lunch was on.



Thursday, July 5, 2018

What Would You Do with a Beautiful Day at Kiawah? Coco’s Journey; Chapter 20

by Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor

Ovarian Cancer, Thankfulness, Gratitude
Coco slipped her shoes off, wiggled her toes in the sand and shuffled down the shoreline. It was a breathtaking sunrise. The morning waves rolled in softly against her ankles, splashing at times up to her knees.  She paused and stared out over the mass of water. Glistening rays bounced off the surf as the sun made its way up over the horizon. Standing still in the blissful moment, she noted the pelicans coming in from her right inches above the waterline in perfect formation. And looking down, she saw the shallow waters teaming with small minnow-like fish darting between fresh seashells and wisps of sand.

She was happy to be here. Her breathing seemed easier this morning. And her stamina was clearly improving.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What Happens When Mrs. Kravitz Won’t Shut Up? Coco’s Journey; Chapter 19

by Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor

Ovarian Cancer; Gossip; Discouragement
Coco laughed thinking about her encounter with the little boy. Honesty is such a beautiful traitand he possessed it. When she considered her striking appearance, given the baldness, it made her understand where little Phillip was coming from. How many glistening top women were roaming around this neighborhood—sane ones anyway? She was the only one—that she was aware of.

As she replayed the conversation, she turned the next street corner and noticed a woman watering her flowers. She had never seen her before, even though they only lived a few blocks away.  

“Good morning,” Coco said, feeling the shortness of breath. “You have the prettiest flowerbeds.”

“Thank you… They are really pretty this year.” Suddenly the woman stopped, turned her head at a funny angle and said, “Are you ok?”

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What Questions Come on the Long Road Back? Coco’s Journey; Chapter 18

By Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor

Getting back you life, Recovery from Illness
Attempting to tie her shoelaces was somewhat harder now than six months ago. She found the process—well—complicated. It took more concentration and certainly more dexterity than she presently possessed. The numb hands made for some clumsy coordination. But Coco wasn’t daunted, it would get better—she knew that.

Opening the front door, she inhaled deeply, stretched and looked out at the brilliant blue sky. It was a summer day brimming over with life. A small breeze drifted through the trees. It was her new beginning--a great opportunity to start back on what would likely be a long road to recovery. Yet her willingness was powerful. And the desire was great... Though her expectations were realistic.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How Many People Actually Go On Facebook? Coco’s Journey; Chapter 17

by Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor

The Journey of Cancer; When Love Feels Undeserved
The sun peaked in the blinds covering her bedroom window. Her husband had already left, having slipped out to work before six. Morning had arrived. Coco wiped the slumber from her eyes, realizing that she had no scheduled appointments with anyone today. It was time for her—a time to regroup—a time to reflect. 

Yesterday’s conversation with her doctor about remission was still being replayed in her mind. And nothing could wipe the smile from her face. With her robe on, she walked down to grab her morning coffee. As she sipped the Columbian brew, she gazed out the kitchen window, watching the birds on the feeder as they came and went. At one point, a brilliant gold finch sat alone nibbling on breakfast, watching the world go by. She smiled. The morning reminded her of when she was younger and had just returned from college after final exams. Because in those moments, there was a freedom in knowing that all her tests were behind her—just as her cancer test was behind her now. She was still alive—and the future was out there to be discovered.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How Do You Thank God Enough? Coco's Journey; Chapter 16

by Larry Puls  @larrypulsauthor

One Woman's Journey Through Ovarian Cancer
In the elevator accompanied by only her daughter and husband, she leaned over and gave them a deep embrace. It was a wonderful moment of joy that could not be contained. Coco's tight hug symbolized the thankfulness she had for their support during her cancer journey--and for the fact that she had arrived at a place such as this.

Remission. 

The word resonated in her mind. Did the doctor really say that? But as she asked her family to verify it, they both acknowledged it with smiles on their faces. Remission. Such a sweet word, and so coveted. She pinched herself. This was not a dream.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What Do Dreams Look Like at Three AM? Coco's Journey; Chapter 15

By Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor

The Cancer Journey; Ovarian Cancer
She was four weeks removed from her final chemotherapy—and hopefully her last. Coco’s appointment was scheduled for 10:15 this morning. In a few hours she would know where she stood with the cancer. The parasite within. 

But there was this long night before the big day. And sleep proved elusive. How could she rest during such a pivotal time as this? And then to make matters worse, a storm swept through at midnight, a lightning show that lit up her walls, casting eerie shadows. Her husband’s heavy breathing reminded her of what deep sleep sounded like—though she couldn’t mimic it for the life of her. He never stirred once, though the ground shook with thunder. How she envied that. But in the end—fatigue overwhelmed her weakened body and she drifted off—at three am. 

A flash of light. 

Then the cold chill followed. There was a mist or a fog hovering over the lights. She found herself in a doctor’s office, but was it hers? She couldn’t recall trekking over here. Yet here she was, in an office, with unfamiliar surroundings, and yet vaguely there was something familiar. She just surmised that this room must be the right place... But it looked so different.