A few weeks ago, doctors modified Dale's diet by excluding milk products and gluten. He has lost over 30 pounds and feeling much better. Who knew? Such a simple change making a huge change in Dale's overall health conditions. Simple??? Milk, cream, cheese, wheat, breads, pasta, and breading is everywhere. Gone. And we had just purchased Tillamook cheeses and Ritz crackers! So I take those to work and have one slice of cheese and 4 Ritz crackers for lunch. I may as well go on the same restrictive diet as it is healthy eating and in the meantime, gently finish off what we do have of the forbidden foods. The things we spouses do for each other!

In the meantime, I have a need to CELEBRATE the LIGHT I feel. Dale and I now look at our marriage as before Cancer, CANCER, and after Cancer. Since 2011 at diagnosis, life has been pretty tough with not only cancer but life and its many challenges. Some challenges directly related to cancer, others not.

During CANCER, we made it through with many, many people supporting us. We sold a home, built another, sold it and sold another, blending both homes into one and moved into our new home eight houses down the street.  We've completed the basement in the new home and decluttered the yard (taking out about 7 trees and 12 shrubs) and fine tuned other landscape pieces ( I did much of the work under Dale's imaginative & creative directions and supervision). Dale's fragile health forced him to retire. I completed my dissertation--slowed down during CANCER, but still completed it. It is a good study and if the reader wants to read it, send me a message and I will reply with a direct link to the study as it is published online.  My work conditions turned from united supportive colleagues to oppressed strangers when I was transferred to a new setting. Almost two years ago, we were told that CANCER was back and we geared up for several hospital stays. Fortunately, it was not cancer and explained in previous blog postings.

Other fragile health issues have continued through the months of after Cancer. Dale has maintained reasonable health (especially with new diet restrictions), completes what chores around our home as he can and has completed over 250,000 names in the indexing system for genealogy purposes. He is a volunteer for a church supported employment center and also volunteers at the VA. His good days are increasing as the bad days decrease.

I did not realize the depth of my own oppression until a new leadership team was formed. A few weeks ago, I pondered my life and felt joy. A joy I have not known for a few years.  During CANCER, survival comes to mind. I was reminded of my neglected hair styles during CANCER and now after Cancer even my hair style is updated and cared for.  After Cancer gives me a focus on life's blessings and hardships blended into what we call challenges. We have done hard things and we are okay. There is reason to CELEBRATE the LIGHT I feel. And perhaps I would not know the magnitude of that joy without the blessings and hardships called CANCER.

Perhaps it is the season. The LIGHT shines bright within our home with seasonal lights, displayed nativity scenes, and sparkling lights twinkle on the tree and front porch trimmings. The cold crisp winter air, sun glistening on snow topped mountains, and snow storm forecasted for the week brings me into a cozy feeling of chestnuts roasting on an open fire....I feel the joy of the Christmas Season with a deeper understanding of the LIGHT and #ASAVIORISBORN. We can and have done many hard things. The joy is known once again.

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