70 Years of Supporting Cancer Patients

70 Years of Supporting Cancer Patients


Heroes of Hope is the name given to tours of Cancer Care Services that highlight their purpose and mission in north Texas. Tours are offered at least twice a month and anyone who registers is welcome to attend.  You can do so through their website or by contacting me directly. I am a two-time cancer survivor and wished I had known about their services, especially for my caregivers, when I was fighting cancer. The tours are for an hour and are regularly scheduled for Tuesday and Thursdays from 11:30 to 12:30 at their location at the corner of Henderson and Pennsylvania in the Fort Worth hospital district. Such a wonderful, and little known gem of a resource, in our own backyard. This year, they are celebrating 70 years of hope serving cancer patients, caring for caregivers and empowering survivors.

What do they do?

  • Cancer Navigation
  • Emotional Support
  • Financial Support
  • Spiritual Support
  • Group Activities
  • Play Therapy
  • Social Workers
  • Cancer Care Equipment and Supplies
Fall Color in the California Sierra’s

Fall Color in the California Sierra’s

We are bound for a week in early October to the Mammoth Lakes area to check out the fall color of America’s West.  The elevations vary greatly in the eastern Sierra landscape from 5,000 to 10,000 feet so this means the trees peak at different times including aspen, cottonwood and willow. I hope we get the timing right after our disappointment at arriving too early last year see the fall colors of Vermont.

We fly into Fresno and then drive to Mammoth Lakes to the Mammoth Lakes Village Lodge which will be our home away from home for the week.  The lodge provides full kitchen, heated pool, jacuzzi and high-speed internet.  The first night we plan to dine at Nevados.

On our first full day, we explore Mammoth Lakes including Mammoth Rock Trail, Devil’s Postpile, Rainbow Falls and a possible drive to Bodie State Park.  We are also planning to rent bikes for the week to take with us when we visit Yosemite Park.  We read that renting bikes inside the park is very expensive.  I have scoped out a potential foodie stop for the day at  Mule House Cafe.  Since the completion of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 1993, Red’s Meadow has become a well-known resting spot for hikers tackling the 2,663 mile trail. Red’s Meadow rests at the 900 mark on the trail, offering a hot meal, ice cream, and beer to those passing through.

The next day we get up early and drive to Yosemite National Park to join the thousands of other visitors.  We read that this park is a busy place but hopefully off-season it won’t be so packed with tourists like ourselves.  But with 100th anniversary celebration of the National Parks, we expect to not be alone.  It costs $30 for an entrance fee that is good for five days.  We want to see as much of the huge park as our legs will allow including hiking Lower Yosemite Falls and Mist Trail to find the Bridalveil Falls.  I hope we are strong enough hikers to mount the steeper Vernal Falls and also have time to find the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees.

There is an ambitious 14 mile Cloud’s Rest Trail that we may try to work into the three days but definitely hope to drive up to Glacier Point if the weather allows.  This area had their first snow dusting just last week so we are prepared to take our fluffy coats and walking boots.

We have reservations for lunch one day to dine at the  Ahwahnee Hotel which recently changed names to Majestic Yosemite Hotel.  The food is supposed to be above average but the architecture and the history are what I am most interested to learn.  We looked into staying at the hotel but found the prices outrageous.


On our final day, we hope to check out some of the live hot springs and fumaroles (gas vents) and tour an old gold mine or two around Mammoth Falls.  Final dinner reservations are located at a place near our hotel at Convict Lake just because I love the sound of it.

If you experienced travelers to the area have suggestions for RM and me, please share them with us.  We know if we pack in food and drink, we are then required to protect these items in our car with bear-resistent food containers that we rent when we arrive. What other tips do you have for us?




What Not to Say in an Interview

What Not to Say in an Interview

After five hours on an interview panel today, it got me thinking about all the uninspiring responses to interview questions that I have heard from applicants over the years.  Today, we had a couple of doozies which compelled me to bullet point a few of the better ones that I remember over the years.

  • My alarm didn’t go off this morning because the power went out and at 9:30 a.m. when I finally woke up….
  • Is this job clerical?
  • No, I don’t know how to do XX but this job is on a team so surely someone else on the team knows how.
  • Do you have any questions about the position?  No.
  • What would you do if XX happened on a project?  That has never happened to me so I wouldn’t know how I would react.
  • I am a people person and I get along with everyone.
  • I have a terminally ill mother to take care of, a sick son, and I only moved here because of Katrina.
  • I am always looking for my next opportunity.
  • My husband is always working and I am bored so I am looking for something to give me purpose.
  • I think outside the box all the time.
  • I don’t know (to a core competency for the position).
  • Saying absolutely nothing… just crickets.
  • Was that preassignment intentional vague?

Interviews are highly stressful for most people so collect your wits, practice with a trusted colleague, and think before you speak.  If you do mispeak, just admit it to the panel and make a course correction quickly.  Don’t leave them laughing as most interviews are not auditions for a comedy show.

Coneflowers, lavender and sage

Coneflowers, lavender and sage

Gardening was passed onto me by my parents and in turn their parents to them. Tackling massive yard transformations, especially for a beginning gardener, is not one to start without a plan, the right equipment, some help, and time.

C3 is living now in Lawrence, Kansas, in a charming old house with a front and backyard that at one time had belonged to an avid gardener. It has good bones for nice garden beds, a sweet area already fenced for a vegetable and herb patch as well as a brick patio and screened in porch.  It also has a dog run and a basement equipped with some basic gardening equipment including a nice Toro mower.

But the previous tenant had left the place in disarray for a good while so the yard, garden and beds needed lots of t.l.c.


Grass and weeds everywhere
We call them weed beds but we see the potential!
Thistle garden

C3 and I agreed that Labor Day week-end would be as good a time as any to start cleaning out the weeds.  And the weather was perfect and we were excited to get started.


I flew in on Saturday and we immediately made an inventory of what equipment she already had and what we needed to add to get the job done.  She spent about $170 at Wal-mart to purchase the required weed wacker, shovel, metal rake, basic hand tools, a saw, clippers, gloves, trash bags, and more. Fortunately the house came with a good selection of garden hoses, a wheelbarrow and the mower so these finds kept her expenses to a minimum.

The week before I arrived, she had sprayed Roundup Weed Killer on all the grass and weeds especially that which was growing up between the bricks in the patio area.

The first afternoon, we weeded as much as could get cleared and swept and bagged up all the debris. We filled a lot of yard bags, eventually totaling eleven.

We mowed the grass the next day, finished weeding and trimming and sprayed for bugs.  The yard was infested  with black beetles. We ran into some nasty thistle as well that slowed our pace, stuck to our gloves, pants and shoelaces.   We looked like a pair of mother and daughter porcupines but we made murderous swaths through the beds, around the fence lines and especially in the garden patch triumphantly beating back the thicket of grasses and prickly weeds.

Late in the afternoon, we took a blessed shower before heading to the local plant nursery to stock up on fall perennials and herbs.  I had also brought sunflower seeds from my Texas garden to share with her.

She invested about $18o in plantings, potting soil and mulch.

We slept 10 hours straight, woke with tender feet, back and arms but limped out early Labor Day morning to finish the job.  Coffee never tasted better.

We cleaned out the dog run, she may convert this area eventually for a fire pit, and then fixed holes in the fence for Scout’s safety.

Using the shovel, we turned all the dirt in the herb patch, raked and added new potting soil before laying out plants, scattering the sunflower seeds along the back trellis of the plot, and finishing all with cedar mulch.  We agreed it smelled like fall.

Herbs may they grow!

The hard work paid off immediately with a visit from several monarch butterflies and pollinating bees and the sweet smell of lavender and sage.  The coneflowers were blooming when I left to return to my home in Fort Worth late today and I bet her mums will be blooming in a week. Another happy gardener is in the works to carry on the family tradition.


Never say never

Never say never



Life lessons remind me to never say never. And also avoid using the term, always.  This last year, I had first hand experiences that I never thought would happen.  For example, RM is playing golf and shooting skeet. He did both due to his job in support of company fundraisers and he surprisingly enjoyed the experience except for the associated body aches and pains and revealing his lack of experience to his colleagues. I thought I would never run a mile again under ten minutes, but I did.

These terms of always and never are ones we often resort to when we argue.  When I hear always and never, I usually don’t believe the person. These words are used by a person trying to elicit an emotional response not one based on facts. They are also used by folks who only think in black and white terms.  More likely, people who use these words just don’t feel heard. So, next time you get into an argument and you hear the always and never terms used, try to redirect to what the person is really trying to tell you.

“I always have to empty the dishwasher”   Try, ” I can tell it annoys you so let’s work out a compromise so you don’t feel that way anymore.”

“I never see you anymore!”  “You are right, we don’t see each other as much as we used to, let’s discuss why?”

“You never listen to me.”  “I don’t always hear you is what I think you are trying to say, and let’s work on that.”

So, how do you think about using the word, should?  To me the word should sounds as if there’s some universal truth everyone agreed to. We “should” wear sunscreen. We “should” eat fewer processed foods. We “should” get eight hours of sleep each night. But not used when we talk about our colleague’s behavior or what career move our friend is contemplating.  Using should just interjects guilt onto a person instead of support. And don’t we already feel guilty enough about our short comings?  In my head, are constant little should statements like “I should lose weight”, “I should check in more with my friend”,  and “I should volunteer more”.

Do I believe you should never say these words again?  No, but using them sparingly will help your credibility, boost your leadership capacity and improve your relationships.  I think I will go put my pearls on now…