Monday, January 10, 2011

Sampson-Size Strength

 Jane and her cat Sampson

I don't think it was a coincidence that my friend Jane named her cat Sampson.  Jane likes strength stirred into her life along with a little cream and sugar.  

Sampson, written about in the book of Judges (in the Bible), was given uncommon strength by God to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats unachievable by ordinary humans.  He wrestled a lion, slayed an entire army with only the jawbone of an ass and then destroyed an entire temple by pulling two pillars together, thus killing the rulers and all the people in it.  He died during that last feat, but he was considered a hero to his people.  

Since we all know that the name Sampson means ultra strong, I wondered what the name Jane meant, so I looked it up.  Jane is a Hebrew name and means "God is gracious"

It's not that I think Jane's cat has been given super-feline strength. Sampson hasn't even, to my knowledge, done anything extraordinary, like saved anyone's life.  It's just that she had that much confidence in him when he was yet a teeny tiny kitten.  But that's Jane, always believing in the unseen, in the unbelievable.   She has an unshakable faith that makes mine look wobbly, at best.  How she maintains it is beyond me.  

Jane in first grade

The first time I remember Jane, I was in Hudson's Grocery Store, (my uncle Doug's store) when all the shops in town were located on the south, east, west or north side of the Harrison square. Jane's father owned Trotter's Paint and Paper, which was just across from Hudson's on Stephenson Avenue.  We were two six-year-olds, quite taken with a display of Bobbie socks while our mothers pushed their grocery carts, confident that they'd either find us eventually or we would find them.  I was not only taken with the Bobbie socks, I was mesmerized with the color of Jane's hair.  I'd never seen anyone with hair that light; almost white.  So were her eyelashes and eyebrows.  Amazing.  I remember she kept talking about wanting these Bobbie socks and I kept staring at her, nodding with approval, thinking the whole time, wow what beautiful hair!  Did I get some of those socks?  I have no idea.  Probably.  Everyone wore them with their saddle oxfords to school.  Jane and I ended up in the same first grade class at Central Elementary.  The rest, as they say, is history.

That's me, top row, fourth kid counting left to right.  Jane is third row down, third from left.  

Our lives since graduation have zig-zagged along.  We never lost track of each other. 

Jane married (as you can see from the announcement), gave birth to two great sons.  In fact, her last son (Josh) and my last child, a son (Chris) were born within weeks of each other.  Somewhere I have that 1982 picture of us and another friend, Anne, proudly holding our sons and Anne's newborn daughter, Sara, up for the cameraman.  Life was SO good.  But that good life sort of started a downward spiral for Jane in 1994 when she was diagnosed with cancer (not breast cancer like me).  I believe she called it non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  Thus began her decent into utter hell. 

On Friday I received an e-mail from Jane's son, Josh.  Dwain and I didn't have to think about it twice.  We drove west to Fayetteville's Washington Regional yesterday (Sunday). 

Within the last few weeks, mom has suffered two falls.  The first occurred on the 17th of December, and the second was on the 28th.  Both x-rays were negative.  She struggled after each fall but was able to get around using a walker.  It appeared as though she was going to be alright.  However, due to extreme pain and immobility, we took to Washington Regional on Thursday morning.  A CT scan showed that mom had fractured her upper femur.  Therefore, yesterday she had a partial hip replacement to fix and secure her femur and hip socket. The surgery was a success, and today she will begin slowly rehabilitating her hip. 
She should remain at the hospital for a few days.  For rehabilitation, we are assuming that she will be at Health South.  I will keep you updating on her condition in the coming days.  She is doing well and resting well.  We appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Have a great weekend.

Dwain and I found Jane alone in her fifth floor room sitting in a chair, absolutely thrilled to see us.  She told us all about her partial hip replacement surgery.  She pointed to a walker across the room, calling it her salvation.  Jane seemed to rejoice in the tiniest things: her strong, muscular physical therapist "I just love him," she smiled; the surgeon who performed her partial hip replacement; the ambulance drivers who carried her to the hospital; the nurses who constantly attend to her.  Her gratefulness list was endless.  I asked her if she was in any pain.  "Oh, no.  They give me good medicine for that. But my hands hurt where the IVs were inserted. " (and still were, in both hands.  BOTH HANDS!).  Jane mentioned it was most painful in her left hand, which bothered her mostly because she is left-handed.   I'd forgotten that little detail about Jane.  She's one of those ultra-intelligent, left-handed, blonds. 

She seemed more than a little anxious to talk to me about my upcoming chemo.  "You know, Megan, chemo is hard but I credit it for my life.  If it weren't for chemotherapy, I don't think I would have been around to raise my boys.  I stayed in remission until 2007 and it's in remission again, thank the Good Lord.  I know all about the books Suzanne Sommers has written, all the natural stuff she believes and swears will work, if we just give it a chance.  But I'm not about to trust my life to something that science hasn't proven.  All I can say is, I took chemo, and I'm still here." 

She told me what to expect.  Jane's never been an alarmist.  Never been one prone to overactive imagination or exaggeration.  She just told me the truth, as she'd experienced it through the years.  She said, just get a calendar and mark off your days; mark off each treatment.  One down, this many to go.  Look at it as a victory.  She said it would be hard and that I might need to take some time off, especially near the end of my chemo when the doses would start to take a toll on my body.  She told me about wig care and where to find other good ones, health care, foods that would taste good, and so on and so on.  

Jane hold's a master's degree and is  a long-time school librarian.  She loves the kids, loves helping them in spelling bees and other projects, never regretted what she chose to do for a living.  She hates to miss a single day of work.  She fell and then continued to go to work because she LOVES her job so much.  But in the end tearfully admitted that she was in such excruciating pain that she needed an ambulance.  She said it made her cry. 

Oh, and did I mention that all the chemo drugs from this last bout caused her to develop cirrhosis of the liver?  And did I also mention that Jane counts her oncologist as the biggest blessing of all?  "He saved my life and he's kept me alive to this day." 

And still she gives thanks and says, God has been so good to me.  Jane, that's exactly what your name means.

Well, Jane, you've always been a Sampson-size blessing to me.  I hope I can be as strong. 


  1. Nice imagery; smooth flow of words; wonderful friends!

  2. Megan, thank you for sharing your journal with me. You write so vividly and with such freshness - I love lines like "Jane likes strength stirred into her life along with a little cream and sugar."
    What a blessing to have such dear old friends from your childhood still part of your life!

  3. My head is expanding -- blush, blush. Dwain and Celia, I consider that a huge compliment coming from two professional writers. And on behalf of Jane, Thank YOU! :)

  4. Hi Megan,
    I have just seen your note on my blog and it makes me so sad to hear of someone else having to go through what I have been through....... I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis...... all I can say is that you will have some very low days; days that you never imagined possible but you WILL come out the other end and I can confidently say that it will make your good days seem so amazing when you come out the other end of each chemo treatment and it will make you better in the long term! Even on the days where you wonder how your body will bounce back, it will; I promise! No one can ever compare the feeling of chemo to anything else and I think you will be fine on your first one..... stay strong and draw on the energy and strength of everyone around you.... I wish you all the very best on your journey and I pray that you come out the other end feeling well and healthy as I will too! Thank you for your comments.... the biggest help to me was sorting out my diet..... as soon as I cut dairy, wheat, soy and gluten (which I discovered I am intolerant to) it made a massive difference to my chemo recovery!!

    Good luck and I am sending you wellness vibes from Brisbane, Australia

    Susie x