Relaxing is Stressful

I am not a hippie, but sometimes I play one….  As a cancer survivor, a veteran with a touch of ptsd, adhd, and ocd; so, with that in mind, I am open to alternative treatments.  And did you know you can actually stress yourself out, in the process of learning to ‘de-stress’?  I have read several books this year, but a couple changed my perspective on how I see things.  The most recent book I finished was “It Didn’t Start with You” by Mark Wolynn, and he talks about how past trauma has a way of making its way to the surface even if deeply buried within a family. Even when we are unconscious of it, or unaware of the source.  The book details a series of exercises you can do to root out the causes of your issues needing to be released in order to move forward.

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza.  (read 4 times) The book deals explains how our minds have the capacity to take those elements of our self and reframe them, even re-experience things to a better result. At the end of each chapter is an exercise to provide you with practical tools. There is potential to gain relief and healing in your spirit (and your physical body), or at least to heal the negative energy and learn how to replace it with positive energy (oversimplified description), but it works if you fully invest in the process to get you there and truly believe that you are worthy of healing and love.  

These exercises affect your ‘total well-being’ so by taking care of the self emotionally, we heal physically at the same time.  It is pretty cool from my perspective at least. A way to remain cancer free, is to maintain my stress levels in a consistent way.  I need to break the habits of fear and insecurity and root out any negatives that lurk in the back of my mind and tackle those one at a time. Cancer does not have a chance in this body, sorry myeloma.

Anyway, even if I should have known better, I tried an online dating app.  Because you are looking for a long-term life-changing-earth-shattering love… go to the internet?  *laughing sarcastically* AND Wow, what happened between 2000 and 2019? Did a trend start where sending weenie pics to women is considered normal?  Random strangers asking for your privates in picture form? Has this been going on for a long time? Where was I, and why does it not appeal to me?  Oh, because when I meet people, I shake their hands, and look into their eyes, I never asked a man to clarify his manhood with photographic evidence.  I deleted the account, but I learned a lot in that month of time.

Dating after divorce is hard enough, dating after trauma and cancer, is another situation entirely.  My life ‘now’ is similar to a plot line in the movie with Steve Carroll in 40-year-old virgin, except, I have kids… and technically, not one.  (so not that similar) Any who, the plotline and feelings he goes through as he tries to date are pretty spot on.  The movie, Crazy, Stupid, Love, shows Steve Carrol dating as tragically as I do, or the movie Bad Moms, when the main character tells potential dates all about her kids and her mom life while sitting at a bar with her friends… yeah, that is kind of me also.  And a question:  When is a good time to bring up that you have a cancer that could come visit again someday? In the beginning, or do you wait? I prefer to live as if I do not have it, but my disability status is a reminder at times.

I am attempting to talk less, when possible.  Haha When I meet someone, my introduction may be short, but you will have a million questions in your head within the first 5 minutes, especially wondering ‘How, Why, When, What, WTF?’  You may have to allow me to summarize the únsummarizable’ in order to really get to know me. Eventually the newness of a person and the awkward insecure hello turns into a good conversation, but beyond that and flirting like a 20-year-old, I am at a total loss of how to date in the new world as it is today.  

I don’t know if the cancer put my mortality more in my face… but I think of how much time I may have left, all the time.  I wish the doctors had never given me prognosis numbers, I just use them as dates to beat, and so far, I already beat my first 3-5-year myeloma mortality rate. My next goal to beat is the 10-year mark with MM, but I know many survivors that are living well beyond that mark, so there is definitely hope for me (when I manage my stress).  So, each day is significant, no matter how insignificant a moment may seem.   

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Looking Back on This Day in 2010

January 20th will always be a significant day in EZ’s Multiple Myeloma history. You can read all about it in my post from 2014 by going to the link here.

I couldn’t let this day slip by without reminiscing. January 20, 2010 was when we first met EZ’s local oncologist, Dr. Alan Kritz, and began this journey of life with Multiple Myeloma. We hardly knew what was about to hit us then, and it feels good to be six years down the road and looking forward to the future with great hope and expectation. We are so blessed to live in an area where two hospitals do stem cell transplants (Duke and University of North Carolina), and where there are many excellent myeloma specialists available to treat patients. We are thankful NOT to be in an oncologist’s office today, but rather at home in front of the fireplace, waiting for some snow flurries to begin falling.

Lucy, our newly adopted English Springer Spaniel
As I think back to a time of deep uncertainty with EZ’s cancer diagnosis, job/insurance loss, a 31 day hospitalization, huge financial concerns, radiation, chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, and a scary future, I am reminded that none of this came as a surprise to God. He holds our future in His hands, and He helped us get through each and every day with His strength, not our own. We hardly knew how to put one foot in front of the other, but He loved us. He helped us. People prayed for us. Friends and family supported us. Doctors cared for us. We are grateful. 

EZ’s Mr. Clean look
We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future. We will continue to be educated about all things MM. We will be involved in our Triangle Multiple Myeloma Support Group. We will give to wonderful organizations such as the IMF, MMRF, and LLS, in the hope that research and advances in treatment might continue to improve and prolong the lives of patients. We will pray for a cure. We will live life with hope, and treasure every day. We will try to show love and support to others who are fighting the good fight with MM. We will do this together, hand-in-hand, one step at a time.

Bacardi Beach, Samana Dominican Republic

Please leave a comment if there is any way we can encourage, or be of help to you today.

It’s a Mystery

Sister Mary Alice was getting annoyed with me. I was attending catechism at the behest of my mother, a devout Catholic. The nun was trying to get through one of the many allegories aimed at shaping our impressionable minds, and ultimately, our morals. She had just told us that heaven was a wonderful place where we would see all of our perished loved ones in a total paradise. I raised my hand and Sister Mary Alice stopped herself and asked me if I had a question.

“What if none of our loved ones are there? Just people we don’t know or people we don’t like?” I asked.

“Why would you ask a question like that? Of course your loved ones and friends will be there.” she said.

“I don’t think so.” I said, shaking my head.

“Goodness child, why would you think such a thing?”

I thought for a moment and then spoke. “Well, God has only given us people ten commandments. There’s lots of stuff in the bible about what Jesus and the disciples suggested and told a lot of little stories that help us get what they’re talking about. But God himself has only spoken to us once, through Moses, and that was the ten commandments.”

“That’s very observant, Bob. But I don’t think I understand what you’re getting at.” said Sister Mary Alice.

“Breaking any of the ten commandments is a mortal sin. Father Keeley says that there are no exceptions to the ten commandments, they they apply to everyone all the time.” I said.

“Of course that’s true, but you can confess your sins and make an act of contrition and be washed pure of your sins.”

“The thing is, almost all of my family are Presbyterians or Lutherans, we got a couple of Jews in there too, and they don’t believe in confession like we do. So in my family, only me, my mom and sister have any chance to go to heaven.” I said glumly. Sister Mary Alice looked like she’d sucked on a lemon.

“Well, dear, God does make exceptions. If your heart is pure and you ask his forgiveness, the kingdom of heaven is open to you.”

“So, I don’t really have to go to confession? I can just feel bad about what I did and I can still go to heaven?” I asked, brightening.

“Um, no. You need to go to confession.” said the nun.

“That’s not very fair. I have to go and tell my priest all the stuff I did wrong because I’m a Catholic and everyone else just gets to wish they hadn’t done something? Besides, the ten commandments doesn’t say that people who confess to their priest or feel bad about what they did get their sin erased. It just says don’t do this stuff, ever!”

“We really should get back to our studies. Bob, why don’t you take your concerns to Father Keeley after class. Now, I was reading about heaven and…”

“Sister Mary Alice?” I called, raising my hand again.

“What is it, Bob?” Sister Mary Alice didn’t sound happy.

“It’s just that… well… it seems to me that everybody breaks the ten commandments. Quite a few of them break all of them. I don’t see how we can be so sure about who’s going to be in heaven, so sure of it, since God’s only words to people were the ten commandments. Everything else is just what people think, and there’s a lot of people who think differently but say that they are basing their thoughts on the bible, I think we should follow what god says rather than what people think.”

Sister Mary Alice was at my little desk in a wink and she slapped the back of my head. Hard. I jumped out of my chair and screamed at her that she was mean and I was pretty sure she was a liar because she was telling us to believe her and not god. With that I ran out of the room, slamming the door behind me.

Sister Mary Alice pursued me as I scampered down the hall towards the door of the parish building. She called out to me, sounding kind and saying “please stop. Let me talk to you.” I flashed out the door, hopped on my bicycle and pedaled home as fast as I could. On my way, I passed my mother going in the opposite direction on her way to mass. She honked and waved, giving me a smile. I gave her a limp wave in return.

I dropped my bike outside the back door of the house and went into my room and threw myself on the bed. I was afraid that I was in trouble with everybody. Only a minute later, my mom knocked gently on my door and came in to see me crying on the bed. She sat down and pulled me to her. “Shhh. Shhh.” she said. “Tell me what’s wrong. When I saw the expression on your face I just knew you felt miserable about something.” I told her about catechism and my questions and how Sister Mary Alice hit me. She turned my head to look at the back of it and gently rubbed it, kissing me on top. “Sister Mary Alice hit you?” she asked. Mother had the tone. Mom got the tone just before she was about to unload on someone. “We’ll just see about that.” she said, her mouth formed a straight line of unhappiness. “You can be a handful sometimes, Bunny Rabbit, but no one gets to hit my little boy!” On those words she told me I could watch television or play outside, that she was going to catch the rest of mass and then have a word or two at the parish house.

That night after dinner the doorbell rang. My sister ran to the door and opened it on Father Keeley and Sister Mary Alice. She invited them in and went to get mom. When I saw who it was, I quietly ducked into my own room, avoiding them seeing me. I figured that I might be in trouble after all.  I heard the murmur of voices in conversation and then my mother came and knocked at my door. Opening it, she said she’d like me to come to the living room please. I followed in grim anticipation. As I walked into the room father Keeley stood up smiling and held out his hand. I shook it and said hello. My mom pointed to one of the chairs and I sat. To my surprise, Father Keeley smiled and said that Sister Mary Alice had something to tell me. I looked at her.

“I would like to apologize for striking you. I allowed my frustrations to get the better of me. Corporal punishment was not called for and I regret my actions.” she said.

“Okay.” I said. My mother gave me an unhappy look and asked me to accept her apology. “Okay,” I said again. “I accept your apology.” It was obvious I didn’t mean it. My mother challenged me on it and suggested I should say it like I meant it. “But that’s just it, mom.” I said. “This is just like confession. She says she’s sorry and is kind of making an act of contrition.”

“That’s right, son.” said Father Keeley.

“Well, that just makes it all worse. I mean, I’m putting on this face that says ‘I forgive you’ but the truth is, I don’t. She hit me and it hurt.” I said, rubbing the back of my head for effect I guess. “The thing of it is, I’m still mad because she hit me. I mean, how does a person of god get away with that. I’m just a normal kid. I hit someone and go to confession, and I say my act of contrition and a few Our Fathers and a few Hail Marys and it’s over. Except I still hit the other kid and he didn’t even get an apology and yet I’m forgiven. See? That’s why I think there’s something wrong with all of this. God gave us ten commandments. God didn’t say that a priest or feeling bad about what you did will make it all better. A wrong is a wrong, right?”

My mother raised her eyebrows and looked to see Father Keeley field an answer. “Well, there are many mysteries to god’s will. We have to accept that and have faith in the Holy Trinity and their teachings to see us through.” he said. I saw my mother squint as though she was trying to figure out whether a picture was hanging straight.

She looked at Father Keeley. “He’s only eight and he’s suffering a crisis of faith.  My son is precocious to say the least and he’s always been analytical. If something doesn’t make sense to him he’ll tug it every which way until he understands it …or rejects it. I think you’re going to need to explain things to him so that they make sense.”

“Well, Jade, as you’re aware, life has many mysteries. We cannot hope to understand god’s will and design.” said Father Keeley.

“You’re a man of god. You get to speak to god.” I interrupted. You should be able to get the answer to a question, expecially if it means the difference between someone believing in the church or not.”

“You cannot extort God, son. You must give of yourself willingly and accept the situations we face with faith. You can’t tell god to answer your question or you’ll stop believing in him. Things happen because it’s god’s will and we need to accept them with faith.” said Father Keeley.

“So everything is god’s will?” I asked.

“That’s right.”

“Then he must be the reason I’m asking these questions.”

My mother made a funny noise and put her hand over her mouth. “There’s no reason to be sassy, young man.” said Father Keeley.

“I don’t believe my son is being rude, Father. He’s listening to what you say and accepting it at face value. For him, he’s making a valid point.”

“Look, son, let’s just leave it at this. Sometimes things make no sense and seem to contradict themselves. We have to believe in the teachings of Mother Church and try to apply those teachings to our lives. We can’t question the little things that we ponder in our spare thoughts. That’s the best answer I can give you.” He stood up, indicating that his visit was over. Sister Mary Alice stood too. Father Keeley reached to my mom to give her a one armed hug, but she took his hand and shook it and then indicated the way to the door. The two visitors strode to the door which my mother opened. Father stepped out wordlessly but Sister Mary Alice paused at the door.

“So, I’ll see you in class next Sunday?” she asked, smiling. I replied with ‘maybe’ and he smile faltered. She trotted to catch up with Father Keeley.

Mom shut the door and looked at me. “You’re not happy about this are you?” I said I wasn’t and asked if I had to keep going to catechism. My mom studied me for a moment and then said no, that religion had to be a matter of choice and I was old enough to start making judgments. I was eight, after all.

“Going on nine.” I said.

“I would like it if you would go to mass with me on Sundays.  Could you do that?”

I said I would, but asked if we had to go to high mass at 11:00, preferring low mass at 10:00. She smiled and said “deal.”

“Mom? What do you think of all this? Do you believe that we’ll go to heaven?” I asked.

“I hope that I do. I have faith that my life will be rewarded by my best efforts. It would be hard for me to go on without that belief to shore me up.” she said. “Does that sound silly?”

“No, mom. It makes sense to me. You should be a priest.”

“Women can’t be priests.” said my mother.

“That’s just crazy.” I said. Mom gave me a hug and kissed me on the cheek.

“You’re still my Bunny Rabbit.” she said, smiling.

 

My Chi

I am not a spiritual person. I am not actually sure what a ‘spiritual person’ is, but I would bet EMan on the fact that I am not of that ilk. I am not a religious person either. When it comes to believing in something that I cannot see, experience or evidence, I struggle. And by struggle, I mean I look constipated when I think about it. I really have tried several times in my lifetime. Meditation for example, looks so much fun. I genuinely believe that my life would improve if I managed to get a bit of zen and, you know, allowed myself to believe in its existence. As somebody with respect for others and their beliefs and all the jazz that makes me a perfect, humane person, I am most perplexed that my belief in existence is still so black and white. Black and white and westernised, just with the occasional massage or reiki session.

It is rare these days, that when in comes to the topic of cancer, for me to experience something new or be surprised by it. Last week, I managed to be surprised. As somebody on the minimum wage, I found myself in a taxi, which I hailed with my stick outside the cancer centre, with just myself and a devout taxi driver for company. These facts are important, because they explain how we got onto the subject of the subject we we talking about. My taxi driver introduced me to something that I had not considered at all since my diagnosis, and that something, was called ‘healing’. Not sexual healing, even I could do with a bit of that right now, he was selling, spiritual healing.

On the face of it, simple exercises designed to help one relax and breathe correctly is a beneficial thing. Positive thinking is also something I could take a dose of. This, so the taxi driver told me, is what Qigong is all about. Well, actually, it is about an invisible energy, chi, and the cultivation of it to improve ones life force, according to the worldwide web. Great I thought, I can get me some of that, it sounded like a less energetic form of Zumba. And then, he went on. And on. Traffic was heavy, so it went on some more. Qigong, he said, could cure cancer. Not medicine, Qigong.

In fact he said, the exercises are preventative and if I had been doing them already, I would not have myeloma now. Shame that. It’s not too late, he said, I could have I individual healing sessions with his master. I looked at their website and these sessions come with a 85% success rate, with a minimum of four sessions depending on the illness, at a cost of £300 per session. The taxi driver rightly pointed out though, that what is £300 when it can save your life? Indeed.

If only… I am stuck between thinking that this exchange is deplorable and insulting on the one hand, and thinking that if it gives some people hope, then what harm can be done, on the other. Personally, I know where I stand, but I am yet to reach the point where such an option would seem appealing. It appeals to me about as much as a visit to Lourdes does. Actually, at least the latter would be a holiday.

I can sit on my sofa and think that all the above is ludicrous. I can continue to have faith in western medicine, I like that it does not offer me the universe and it does not tell me that I am wrong. I hope that in the long, long, term when my end is near, that I do not wonder whether I should have explored the spiritual or religious path, rather than ridicule them.

I do not know why the thought it is making me angry.

This is enough, right?

EJB x

An Angel gets his wings….

My honey was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in October, 2010.  Seven months prior to that, in March, Mike Murray from our neighboring state of Alabama was diagnosed. Mike’s wife, Angie, and I became friends through a mutual friend, Dina, who knew that we had something in common…..husbands with the same type of incurable cancer.

When I first became friends with Angie, her honey had already had two Stem Cell Transplants, but was taking Chemo. I couldn’t understand, if he’d had transplants, why he was still having to take Chemo? Angie explained that Mike’s MM was very aggressive, and he would probably always be on treatment.

For much of the time I have known Angie, they have been at MIRT (Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy) at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. They lived in a furnished apartment in Little Rock; supplied by a church for patients who have to be there long-term.

Angie has been Mike’s full-time caregiver as he has traveled this journey. She has been his source of support and comfort, and has truly exhibited the Bible’s phrase, “the strength of Job.”  Her faith and love has never faltered as she has walked this often stressful, and tiring pathway with the love of her life.

On Thursday night, just before Easter, Mike was moved into a hospice facility. Those of us in the MM community knew that Mike’s journey would soon end. Angie’s postings on his Carepages website had become infrequent, and we knew that all her waking moments were being spent by his side.

The day before Easter, Angie’s “Magic Mike” finished his battle and ended his journey. May the rest of us caregivers, in the MM community, learn from Angie Murray.  She faced the unthinkable with grace, dignity, strength, and faith …….

and her Angel got his wings, on the perfect weekend.

A Christmas Carol

Today, I stuck too firm fingers up to my chemotherapy treatment and its, frankly sadistic side effects, and ventured out of my bed for some Christmas joy.

I love London at Christmas, even in the rain. My journey from East to West at the start of my evening, was a stark reminder of how much My Myeloma has made me miss out on this festive season. Sure, people have come to me, but I have not been able to walk along the Southbank finishing my journey by crossing the Millennium Bridge to reveal the Christmas Tree at St Paul’s Cathedral, I have not been able to see the commercialism of the Oxford Street Christmas lights and I have not been able to do my Christmas shopping in an actual shop. Simple pleasures, but things I have missed and things I long for. More simply, I want to sit outside the British Film Institute, drinking a mulled wine whilst smoking a cigarette, and just watch the festive fun walk before my eyes. Alas, there is always 2013. The closest I had gotten to a Central London Christmas, until 18:30hrs this evening, was the photograph below from my taxi.

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For those of you unfamiliar with the sights of London, that is the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree. It is normally impressive when not viewed through a car window in the rain. Oh, Bethlehem!

As with most things in life, I will not permit myself to be all doom and gloom for long, for this evening, once that melancholia was out the way, my body held out just long enough for me to attend a carol service in Westminster Abbey.* Middlesborough once again came up top trumps with two tickets to the Civil Service Evening of Fun and Flirting With Faith. The tickets were obtained through fair and open competition and at no time was my illness mentioned. No way, Housana.

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Now, if you are a fan of the Christmas Carols, you have never really experienced them until you have sat in Westminster Abbey accompanied by the Abbey’s Choir and the Grenadier Guards. You really haven’t. For a whole hour, bar approximately five minutes if I am being honest, my arms were goose pimpled and I was festive. It was, quite simply, majestic, even if my singing was not. High notes and me are not friends as I am sure Housemate would testify when my iPod is on.

The blessings however, did bring my current ailment home to me. My Myeloma is never far from my mind, but in times like these and one is exposed to faith and prayer towards the sick and infirm, you have to ask, why me? If there is an omnibenevolent God, where is the love in whacking me with this big shit covered stick of cancer? I am sure most the congregation did not ask themselves this when the words were spoken. Most of them were believers and were there for the hymns and the hymns alone.

It cannot however hurt to ask oneself occasionally whether you have faith and then, as I do, ask the question above and realise that there is no rhyme nor reason to life’s turbulence. It is what it is, and it is happening because it is happening. I have no intention of ‘giving myself to God’ as somebody suggested earlier in the week. I just ask that those who do believe pray for me. Just so I am covering all the bases. Just in case. All I know, and do not not know a lot as my basic knowledge of theology demonstrates, is that I am just bloody fortunate that their are people in my life who take me to Westminster Abbey at Christmas. And that is something to be thankful for this Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine.

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So there you have it. I have seen the last of what London has to offer this Christmas. The chemotherapy has now won out, I am sick and my body is not going to wake up again properly until Christmas Day. At least I got a few hours. I was faithful to my body, and now I am joyful and triumphant.

God Bless Us, Everyone.

* For future reference, private photography is strictly prohibited in the Abbey, despite the Abbey once transmitting images of Elton John’s eyebrows slow dancing in there across the globe. Life can be unfair sometimes. Sure.

Bedtime Bible Stories

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up…” Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Bedtime bible story (from one of our favorites, Read~Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall) with our daughter, Tara, her husband Jamie, and their four children.

Two Years Post Diagnosis

On January 29th, 2010, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. On January 29th, 2012, I stood before the congregation of my home church and testified to God’s faithfulness in my life. What a privilege it was to share, from my heart, what the past two years have meant to me.

My brothers and sisters at Stony Hill Baptist Church faithfully prayed for me when I was hospitalized for a month, endured chemo and radiation treatments, had my stem cell transplant, and recovered from my hip pinning surgery. I have been blessed beyond measure by their compassion, kindness, sacrificial acts of service, and prayers. I love the people of this church and was humbled and honored to stand before them on that beautiful Sunday morning.
Two years ago my world was turned upside down in a matter of days, and I went from being an executive in a small company with a stable income and a “normal” life, to someone who was unemployed and in for the fight of my life with a blood cancer. However, with the love and support of my family, my friends, my doctors, and my church, I have gotten through some really rough times and been blessed in more ways than I can count. My prayer is that God would use me to glorify Him and encourage others who are in need. I cannot imagine cancer without Christ.
For me these verses summarize what I have learned on my journey thus far:
I’m not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives my strength.

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Miracles

  
July 24th is Pioneer Day.  This day is set aside as a time to honor the Pioneers who traveled across the united states to Utah so that they could have religious freedom as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (mormons).  Many of my ancestors were Pioneers.  They joined the church in England and went through many hardships in order to settle in the west.
   I have often thought about the sacrifices they demonstrated and the courage they must have had.  My great, great Grandfather was Samuel Lane Crook from Apperly, Gloucestershire,England.  His family listened to the message of the missionaries and were baptized.  His sister Elizabeth Crook Panting  and Samuel were able to buy passage on the ship “Thorton” to come to America.  I have always been fascinated by their stories.  
     Here is a small account of Elizabeth’s story.
   Elizabeth Crook Panting was born 7 May 1855.  She married  Frederick Panting. He was considered the “town drunk.”  When Elizabeth joined the church he was quite upset.  Elizabeth secretly saved up enough money to buy tickets for her and her children to leave for America.
   As they boarded a train to begin their journey. Fredrick came looking for them. Elizabeth was scared of what he would do to them.  She prayed and asked God for help.  A thought came to her to exchange bonnets with the woman sitting next to her and ask another family to watch her children.  As her husband walked the aisles of the train before it began to move, he looked back and forth at the faces looking for his wife. He had a gun only half way hidden in his pocket.  He stared Elizabeth in the face and then walked on by unable to recognize her. The first of many miracles in her journey.

   After crossing the Atlantic Ocean and traveling further across their land of promise by steamboat and train, Elizabeth, Christopher (5), and Jane (1) began their handcart trek in Iowa City, Iowa.

Elizabeth was privileged to experience another miracle during her journey to Zion. She told the story of this miracle to her daughter, Jane, repeatedly throughout her life. As Jane (Panting Bell) grew older she told this story to her children and grandchildren:
As the Willie Company traveled along the plains, they had many trials which slowed them down considerably. Little Jane rode in the handcart and was very ill. Her mother didn’t dare to stop to take care of her as she pulled her handcart along. She would call to her son, Christopher, to ask if Jane was dead yet. When they reached Ft. Laramie, the expected provisions were not waiting, and they had to continue on with reduced food rations. On October 14, after another reduction was made in rations, Elizabeth went out to gather some buffalo chips to make a small fire to warm what little food was left for her children. She had on a long, full apron and had almost filled it with the buffalo chips when a man came up to her suddenly (and seemingly out of nowhere) and inquired as to the circumstances of the company. Elizabeth told the man that most of them were starving and were in great need. He asked her to follow him, saying perhaps he could help a little. Shaking the buffalo chips from her apron, Elizabeth followed the man. They went over a small hill out of sight of the camp, where he led her to a cave where a lot of dried buffalo meat was hanging. Elizabeth told her granddaughter, June Cranney Monson, that there were shelves of books on one side of the cave that looked like the Book of Mormon gold plates. She said they looked as if they were sealed. The man loaded as much meat in Elizabeth’s apron as she could carry and told her to share with the other people. Then he led her out of the cave and to the top of a small hill and pointed out the camp below, cautioning her not to get lost. As Elizabeth turned back to the man to thank him after she had looked where he had pointed to the camp, he had disappeared. She looked for the cave and could not find any trace of it, but she still had the dried meat. She went back to camp and divided the meat out to the ones that were in the most need, no doubt saving lives.
  The Martin handcart company were stranded in a place called Martin’s Cove, Wyoming. Many of the members never made it that far. the rest of the company were taken on to Salt Lake City. My great,great aunt eventually lived in Logan, Utah where she married and had nine more children.  
  Elizabeth has been a great example in my life. I have thought of her courage, faith, and strength many times in the last few years.  

  My own challenges seem small compared to what she faced.  As she demonstrated continuous faith on her journey, she was blessed. 
  I am so grateful to have such a strong example in my life.  Thank you Aunt Elizabeth.  Miracles do happen. God does bless our lives. He does know our needs.