Ring In the New


Don’t you just love New Year’s resolutions??  I started 2013 with all kinds of good intentions.  I was going to be a super-blogger, and all the wonderful people who have been supporting me were going to get updates every week, every day, every hour ….  (well, maybe not THAT much).  At very least, I promised myself, I was going to start 2013 off with a really fine New Year’s post — and get it done right away.  Well, today is January 22.  Does that still qualify as ‘right away’?

Clean out the old!  Make room for the new!  I’ve always loved New Year’s Day.   New Year’s Eve, not so much.  New Year’s Eve is what my father-in-law called ‘Amateur Night’ for the alcoholic wannabes who try to party and drink with the big boys.  These days I don’t drink anything stronger than Ginger Ale.  I don’t even drink coffee anymore.  Anyone who knows me knows what a sacrifice that is!  I don’t drink, and I go to bed around 8pm — and New Year’s Eve was no different.

Ahhh, but New Year’s Day!  The clean slate!  The promise of ‘better things’!   An end to all that was difficult in the year past.  I don’t know how closely you’ve been following, but 2012 had its share of difficulties for me.  Just the same, though, I’m not going to be burdened  by the past.  I’m focused on what’s ahead of me for 2013 and 2014 and 2015 and 2016….  I’m determined to make the New Year less about my losses in 2012 and more about my eagerness to see what 2013 has in store for me.

My New Year’s ritual begins with me cleaning out all the trash from the old year.  It’s my outward expression of a spiritual cleansing.  Yes, there was a bit of trash.   Yes, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.   Yes, I underwent ten hours of brain surgery.  Yes, my entire world was turned upside down.  I had trash to clean out, but there was a lot I had to keep, as well.  In 2012 I witnessed the best of humanity.  You’ll think it strange for me to say this, but I might not have been aware of how wonderful life can be, and how wonderful people can be, if I hadn’t gotten sick.  I started this blog with a determination to acknowledge the million things I have to be grateful for.    Turns out that a million thanks isn’t enough.  I have more to be grateful for than I thought. Let me highlight just a few of the many that are embedded in my heart:

I am grateful that the ambulance took me to Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  It was at that wonderful hospital where I came under the care of the magnificent Dr. Mark Johnson and his team of surgeons.  They removed a maddeningly complex tumor from a delicate part of my brain without harming my perceptive, motor or cognitive capacities.  God bless surgical genius!  I’m grateful too, for a primary care physician who troubled herself to visit me in the hospital to make sure I was OK and has since checked in weekly to see how my husband and daughter are doing.  Dr. Pinto heals with the heart as well as the mind.

Because Brigham and Women’s is so closely integrated with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, I was assigned an oncologist and a nurse practitioner who are second to none.  They have worked tirelessly to fight my cancer even as they have made it their business to mitigate my side effects.  I complain about nausea, but I know how much worse it would be without their interventions.  Believe me, that’s something to be grateful for!  I thank God for all the wonderful phlebotomists who hold my hand every week — it’s a simple act of compassion, but it means so very much.

When I was first diagnosed, I met a man who was being treated at the same place as me.  His name was Fred, and he told me he was also newly diagnosed.  We fell into a conversation and I discovered that he worships in the same church we do.  He promised to pray for me every day and I’m certain he kept his promise,  just as I kept my promise to pray for him.  Fred fought the good fight for six months, and when his fight was over God called him home.  We barely knew each other, but I felt as if I’d lost a brother.  I’m grateful for the love that only those who are fighting this horrible disease can share.

I’m grateful for my family and my husband’s family — both families have really stepped up with every kind of support — material, emotional, spiritual.  I am grateful for the world’s best mother-in-law and I am grateful to God that he gave my husband the strength to comfort her while she was so very sick.  God helped Paul find the words to tell her about my diagnosis even while she struggled with her own serious medical issues.  There were times, this summer, when his afternoons consisted of visiting one hospital bed after another.  It must have been the grace of God, but Paul showed compassion and understanding to us both.

I’m grateful for a twenty-one year old daughter who sacrificed her own plans and took a year off from college to comfort her mother.  My days would be so empty without her.  I love you, Angelique, and I thank God for you!  I’m grateful to my best friend from our days at Reading High School who, after hearing my devastating news, has become my very best cheerleader.

I’m grateful for a plumber who came to our new condo to make a minor repair.  I was fresh out of the hospital, then.  Obviously, he noticed there was something wrong with me and he gently asked about my situation.  Then he talked about his own wife and her cancer diagnosis.  His care ran a lot deeper than a few words while he was cleaning up from a job.  On the day before Christmas he dropped by our house again — not to check on our plumbing,  but to wish me the best of the Season.

How can I not be grateful?  I’ve got a front row seat to the very best of humanity — a parish community that never missed a chance to lift my spirits in the form of a meal, or a card, or a call, or some kind of encouragement.  Not to mention a tidal wave of prayers.  Once, on one of those few occasions when I’ve been able to make it to Mass, a fellow parishioner noticed that I was having trouble keeping my hands warm.  She slipped beside me, took off her gloves and put them on my hand.  It was such a sweet gesture!  “Just keep them”, she said, “I have so many.”  I have kept them, and every time I wear them I think of her kindness.

 I’m grateful that my super-athletic godson wore pink socks to his opening football game to show support for his aunt and for everyone who has cancer.  He regularly sends me a note from his home in Indiana.  Just a word or two of encouragement:  “Be strong!”, “Get well!”  God bless you, Max! 

Would I have missed out on all this kindness if I hadn’t gotten sick?  If I’d been well, would I have overlooked the beauty and love inside so very many people?  That beauty and that love was there all the time — I just never noticed it.

2012.  God put me into situations I would never have chosen for myself, but I guess He knew what He was doing  My heart is more open than ever to the best of humanity.  That is the gift of illness.

2013.  I don’t know what to expect, but I’m expecting God to continue blessing me.  I expect to see more surprises, more examples of compassionate humanity.   I’m sick, but I’m more resolved than ever to be witness to life, and to be a part of.  In 2013 there will be weddings, graduations, new babies, school reunions. 2013 will bring forth he solemn seasons of the Church: Lent, Triduum, Easter, Pentecost, Advent and Christmas.  All the solemn seasons, and the best season of them all: the season we call ‘Ordinary Time’.  Cancer has given me new eyes to see — and I’ve come to see how extraordinary the ordinary really is.

It’s a little late, but that’s my New Year’s Post.  I continue to ask for your prayers.  I particularly want you to pray for me on 31 January when I have my next MRI.  That’s when we’ll learn how well the chemotherapy has kept tumor growth at bay.

God Bless all of you, and all your families.

Thank you all, and love to you all.



About pamvbradford

I am a fifty seven year old banker specializing in government banking. I have a beautiful twenty-one year old daughter and a wonderful husband. My husband and I recently downsized, and purchased a beautiful condo in Watertown MA. We love our new home. I know I am a very fortunate person. I am surrounded by supportive family members, by supportive coworkers and by the marvelous support of our faith community at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington MA. As the Psalm says, "There is nothing that I lack." My whole life changed on July 18, 2012 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The news came from out of the blue. My tumor was removed by the marvelous Dr. Mark Johnson and his wonderful team of surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The surgery truly was a miracle. I couldn't possibly have gotten better care. Now the 'easy' part is over. The tough part is to learn to walk with God in the midst of danger and surprise. My mood shifts from gratitude to fear and back again but I know God has a purpose for me. There's a reason I didn't die on the operating table. There's something that God wants me to do. This blog is my effort to share with others, with all of you, what it is that I am learning as I put one foot ahead of the other, live each day as it comes, and discover what it is that God has to teach me. Your prayers keep me going. Your love comforts me. Your knowledge and faith guide and teach me. God bless you all!
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2 Responses to Ring In the New

  1. ronald lancaster says:

    Pam, You wrote a beautful New year’s post. You have the most wonderful gift of expression, and this is another example of how your illness has brought outyour awesome talent, Love you always, Julie


    • Harry Curtis says:

      Pam, you always inspire me and Kim, as well as your friends here at the bank. We talk of you, think of you and pray for you often. Your posts are just the latest example of how you have always given so much of your self to those around you. Keep strong!

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