Goddess mug shot The Goddess Speaks

By Rose Pamatigan

Don’t wait for the bad
to show life’s good

How many years have you been running around, not stopping to see what's around you? I was like that for years, not stopping to smell the flowers, listen to the birds sing or look at rainbows. Life is too precious to let it pass us by. We have to seize every moment and make it add to our life in a positive way.

I never thought I would ever have to stop and notice how precious life is until 11 years ago, when I was told I had breast cancer.

Not me, I thought. They must have been talking to someone else or made a mistake. Five of my relatives have had breast cancer, but I wouldn't get it.

I went through the anger, wondering why it couldn't have happened to someone else, a selfish way to feel. Then I started trying to bargain with God to let it not be true. Depression set in next. When the day came for my radical mastectomy, I had accepted the fact that I did have cancer. At age 51, I took a stuffed animal to the hospital with me. This opened up humor in the hospital room with the doctors and the nurses. So the healing had begun. Fortunately, my breast cancer was in the early stage and had not spread.

IN 1998 my world started crumbling again. My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. I couldn't let him see how scared I was when he had his lung surgery. It turned out the cancer was caught in its early stage, and nodes and margins were clear.

Ten months later another mass appeared in the same lung where the surgery had been performed. Again he went through the lung surgery, and I stayed with him 24/7. There is no way to express the feeling you go through when a loved one has cancer. You feel so helpless. He went through three months of chemotherapy.

Six months later, another mass appeared in the same lung. The oncologist said that if the cancer returned again, my husband would have only six months to live.

He had lung surgery for the third time. The waiting was unbearable. The time seemed to pass so slowly, but all I could do was sit there and pray. Finally the doctor came out and said he had tuberculosis this time. The tears started flowing and I was almost hysterical; my husband's father had died from TB. The doctor calmed me and said, "Thank God its tuberculosis; it's curable."

THINGS LOOKED uncertain again in 2001 when my mammogram showed a new calcification in my right breast that could turn to cancer. So I had another mastectomy, which I believed was better than waiting and wondering if and when it would turn cancerous. The same stuffed animal went with me to the hospital. In fact, it sleeps at the head of my bed to this day.

Things are going well now for both of us. We do volunteer work with the American Cancer Society. I ran a cancer chat room on the Internet for 3 1/2 years and made many friends. Some are gone now, but I carry memories of them in my heart.

When my husband had his first lung surgery, I wrote a poem called "One Day at a Time." I had never written anything in my life. For some reason, sitting in the hospital room, the words started flowing, and I wrote them on a paper napkin. The poem means a lot to me. Living one day at a time is the answer to happiness.

One Day at a Time

Give me one day at a time.
Let every moment be special.
Surrounded by God's love.
Let there be peace and harmony.
Give me one day at a time
To watch the rainbows.
To see the flowers in radiant bloom.
To hear the birds sing.
Reminding us that God is near.
Give me one day at a time
So I can comfort and bring love to others.
Hold my hand out if they need a helping hand.
Listen to them and try to understand.
Give me one day at a time
To praise the Lord.
For the love he gives to us.
The times he carries us in strife.
For never asking questions, always understanding.
We thank you Lord for one day at a time.
One day added to our life makes a lifetime.
A lifetime of love, and caring and sharing.
Thanks Lord for one day at a time.

Rose Pamatigan started a nonprofit organization called Hug Me Bears, which refurbishes and delivers stuffed bears to underprivileged children, hospitals and hospices.

The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and
about women. If you have something to say, write
"The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813;
or e-mail


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