Feeling good. Time to work outside.

This is a compilation of days from last week. A little off of the timeline, but it took some time to get through this one.

Mike Alleman
Raining elsewhere in Houston

Life and springtime. We surveyed our garden the other day. Just a couple of years ago we had the winter from hell in Texas. A deep freeze and power outages and a certainty that our brand-new landscaping would not survive.

Today it is showing that the world is a resilient place. We did lose our bottle brush trees in the storm. Fortunately, we were able to snag a few young trees last year and they are blooming.

Shortly after the picture was taken, the storms made it to our slice of Houston, and we had to move indoors.

Being outside

When you are having a good day with Cancer, you want to do something… anything besides staying inside. For this three-to-four-week period of “California weather”, we are trying to take advantage of the time. I have started reading other blogs and books from cancer survivors. My current obsession is with Suleika Jaouad. She survived Leukemia (AML) in her early twenties and now in her early thirties is going through another battle with Leukemia.

I am not finished with her book yet. The stories so far are ringing consistent with our journey. From hospitalizations to sickness, to extreme isolation. Being outside is now a simple pleasure to be cherished. God has worked in several mysterious ways for us. Our garden was a dream we had had for many years. Seeing it come together, go through a battle of its own, and regrow was truly a sight to see. The regrowth did not happen right away. It took a couple of months. I had counted a few of the plants dead and then new growth happened.

As I am typing this, new numbers are showing on “Mychart” from her blood work this morning. In time, they recover. The world is full of parallels.

More Family visiting

Many of you sit at a distance with this blog as your primary portal into our life. Michele’s sister Linda is an angel in her ability to drop everything and be there for her. This last week, Michele’s other sister Sharon made it for a visit.

This week, my family has finally been able to make the trip over from Louisiana. My sisters Missy and Karen and Karen’s husband Mack are here right now. Missy took her for her blood work this morning. Several times we have tried to make it happen and the timing was off. My other sister Mona was not able to make the trip this time. She helps us with our training videos, and it seems like she has been more in touch with us on this journey, but hugs are still forth coming.

My sister Karen had back surgery right before we were diagnosed. She was not able to make the trip for our son’s wedding in September. The pandemic taught us how to be closer to each other over the internet. 20 years earlier, there were just phone calls, and it was acceptable, but not truly the same as what technology has been able to provide. Nothing compares to physical touch and hugs.

We have been able to visit, laugh and just be with each other. My heart is full today.

Family and Familiar Territory

Both Michele and I had parents that suffered from illnesses preceding their deaths. My mom became ill in early 2000. My sisters had the lion’s share of the caring to help her and my dad through that period. While mom fought issues with heart disease, my dad also discovered lung cancer during one of the “lulls” in mom’s battle. The countless doctor’s visits and hospital stays between the two of them over the next six years was a challenging time for all of us.

There are countless stories of examples of trials and grace during that time. This time was also filled with major challenges in our work lives as well. My dad was the true patriarch model for our family. He lost his father while he was a toddler. His stepdad had died before I was born. He provided for our family in so many ways and my early memories were of him closing on the purchase of his Automotive Services business. During his own illness and my mom’s illness he was a pillar of stability and commitment. I often say, “I now understand what he was trying to do by being strong for all of us”.

Challenges often come in waves. In this period, his business had struggles and we all had to help in putting it on the market to sell. The lesson. All in on our family first. He became the primary caregiver and played it all the way through. Mom passed away in July 2006. He passed away in October 2006. Two days before his birthday. He did not want to go another birthday without her.

There are two moments I remember distinctly in his progression towards death. The first was when I was driving him to radiation, and he says to me “It’s time to go.” I said, “Yes dad, we are on the way to treatment.”. He said “No, it is time for me to go.” I knew what he meant. When the body and mind align, it is certain on the outcome. Over the next two weeks, I remembered him in the back room. This was my early childhood room. The one that someone broke into and stole money out of my mini-safe bank. The room that caused us to get the burglar bars that enveloped our house. In that room, I watched him trying to reconcile his checkbook. He couldn’t do the math anymore. In that moment as he walked out, he just asked me to finish it for him. He left in tears.

There is much more to that story. What it taught me was that the greatest love stories that we as humans share come in the compassion we have at our lowest points. When we must depend on others and everything else in the world stops and you focus on just being there. Dad was just such a solid human being with a determination that was hard to match. Dad was simply good at life. On rare occasions when he would break down it was brief, and he would pull it together.

Family visits are the deepest part of love. I appreciate my family more than ever for all the times they handled the situation for my parents. We look forward to many more.

The doctors.

The doctors are super skilled at staying in the moment and focusing on what’s next. We try and ask about the future. They focus on today. This is both comforting and scary. When Michele feels the downward draw of the effects of the treatment, we go through tears and fight the will to keep working and fighting.

We are seeing more residents around the hospital now. They are eager to learn and show their own knowledge in their progression to full doctors in the practice. I look at their eager faces and recognize they come from around the world to study here. What mentors they have. Gifted in knowledge and how to talk to the patients with care.

I read today that MD Anderson has been #1 or #2 in the best hospital rankings for US News since the ratings began in 1990. 32 years and there is no better place in the world than where we are today. There is nothing more powerful than to not only have an organization tell you they are the best, but to also hear it from outside sources and more importantly EXPERIENCE it. We are advocates for life!

Catch up to the day I am posting this

The above post has been something I have been working on for a week. There were many edits, additions, and deletions. Many tears as I reflect on the pain and strength in the diseases our folks faced with the technologies of the time. My family will tell you that my parents kept on trying to have a boy until I came along. What my sisters may not know is that their walk-through life has been inspiring to me. Everyone has had unspoken trials. Today, we are still together and enjoying our lives as best we can. Love you all deeply.

We are sitting on Cinco de Mayo awaiting our results on blood work. Hoping to be home in time to share a toast with our neighbors to celebrate another life well lived.

Blessings to all that are continuing to read on our journey.

3 thoughts on “Feeling good. Time to work outside.

  1. Thank you for the update! You have blessed me, and yes family time is the best. We will continue to pray for both of you, be strong and positive trusting God for a Miracle! ❤️💙🙏🏻✨

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  2. I read all your blogs, slowly digesting every word. I cry, I smile, I live your journey as I read . It is a heavy footed walk, you must walk. I am encouraged by the love you have for Machile. I cried when she wanted you to hold her in that tiny bed as she was getting her painful treatment. You held her hands as you set in a chair because you both wouldn’t fit in the tiny bed. My thought was, “we each have a road we must walk, and even though we may be blessed with a strong partner to comfort us. We still end up having to walk that walk. God continue to bless you Mike as you walk your walk and Machile walks hers. The two of you hand in hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such an absolutely beautiful post. I understand so much about your experiences, as I have gone through many similar events. You have written so clearly about love, strength and family, and I just wanted you to know how wonderful and on point that is.
    My prayers continue, asking for complete healing and strengthened faith as only He can provide. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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