Saturday, October 1, 2011

LiveStrong Day 2011: 3 Special tributes: LEON BOTHA, DEBBIE ELS and MAXDOG

GREETINGS FROM SOUTH AFRICA!
MAXMOM here...

Today is a special day:
 LIVESTRONG DAY. 

Although there are many Cancer soldiers around the world, we have chosen to honor two special people, in particular today, who are "Living Strong" in their fight against Cancer. 

The following tributes are written by their friends and families, with the object of encouraging them in their fight, and also encouraging others who battle with this dreadful disease.  It is through such strength of spirit, that we are all able to strive to

 LIVE LIFE TO THE MAX! 

To ALL the cancer suffers out there: Please know that today, we stand in solidarity with you.  We salute your courage and your strength.  And we are grateful for the lessons that you teach us every day.  
You are not alone in this fight!
====================================xXx=====================================

Our first tribute:



I have been friends with the Botha family for approximately 20 years. Indeed my own children have grown up with theirs.
Andrea and Leon have four beautiful children who recently celebrated their
collective 21st birthday party
(Yes, you guessed - they are QUADRUPLETS! 

Here is a picture of them all at the children's 21st birthday party in April this year - a wonderful, happy family occasion:

L to R: (Mom)Andrea, Kirsten, Candice, Wesley, Calvin, (Dad)Leon
and (guide dog) Dulce.

For a while now, Leon, the amazing dad of this family, has been receiving aggressive cancer therapy and has become iconic in his fight to Live Strong. Their whole family has been amazing in their ability to draw strength from one another at this difficult time. 
As a tribute, Andrea has written an open letter to Leon.
Thank you, Andrea, for sharing this personal, private space - so that others may draw strength from you.  You too, are iconic of 'Living Strong'.  We admire your courage and are grateful for the incredible example which you are to all of us.
We love you, Andrea!
---xXx---

My Dear Brave Husband,

Where do I begin, this has been one rollercoaster year.

The 13th October 2010 will forever be etched in my mind as the day our lives fell apart. Yes sweet man that was the day you were diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. The sheer magnitude of the news knocked us for a six, but once we got over the initial shock it was your sheer determination and willpower to beat this dreadful disease that has kept us all going.

The prognosis was not good, but you were given a life line and you embarked on a radical radiation and chemotherapy course. Every single day was a huge challenge for you, but not once did you ever complain, you just remained focused and as positive and strong as humanly possible. When things came to a head and you landed in hospital for 5 weeks, you kept on fighting the hardest battle ever and you came out victorious. That was one of the proudest days of my life, the day you left hospital with the will to live and continue the battle.

Life was good for a few months, as we were given the good news that the original tumour had disappeared entirely – the sheer joy and elation was overwhelming. Sadly that joy came to a grinding halt in July when we were once again faced with the devastating news that a fresh tumour had grown in your oesophagus and shoulder. Why, was the most obviously question I asked, but you Sweet Man, never asked that question, you just picked yourself up and embarked on yet another 5 week session of radiation. You are presently in your 3rd session of chemo therapy, with another 3 sessions still to go, taking us all the way to the 7th December 2011. You came through the radiation with flying colours, still managing to go into the office daily, but this darn chemo is taking its toll on your already weakened body.

Oh how I pray for you to be entirely pain free and healthy again. I miss our times on the motorbike and our special precious time together. You are totally and utterly absorbed in this battle and I understand entirely, but oh how I miss the “old” Leon, I miss your laugh, your funny side, you singing to your favourite song, our happy family outings, I could go on forever. I pray for that all to return in good time and with your sheer determination and positivity, I am confident that the good times will once again return.

You have been a pillar of strength throughout our 25 years of marriage. You financially supported our family on your own all these years allowing me the opportunity to spend every day with my delightful children. We have raised our quadruplets to grow up to become beautiful, well adjusted 21 year olds. How proud you were the day they all turned 21, the speech at their 21st was truly amazing and very special to all of us.

A day never goes by without you thanking me for everything I have done for you this past year. My sweet husband you do not need to thank me for anything, I do it because I love and care deeply for you and I married you “for better or for worse”. This is the least I can do for you after ALL you have done for me and the children. You are one of the proudest most humble men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and it is you I need to thank for showing me how to appreciate life and how to remain positive and focused no matter what. You are so strong, courageous and oh so brave, very seldom do you have a weak moment which is so admirable. So Sweet Man you are the one to be thanked not me.

In closing let me once again reiterate my wish, and that is for you to be totally healed and for us to be able to pick up our lives where we left off last year on the 13th October.

Much love and appreciation.

Your loving wife always,

Andrea

Recently, Andrea and Leon's son Calvin, also composed a song for his dad.
The family would like to share Calvin's special tribute to his dad...
The son is entitled:

"WE'LL MAKE IT THROUGH."
(by Calvin Botha)




We love you Leon!!! Hang in there and...
Live Strong!!!


====================================xXx======================================

Our second tribute:...



Many of my readers are aware that I take my dogs walking most afternoons.
Our favourite place to walk is
LOURIE PARK

...It's a beautiful, tranquil place, not far from my home.
One of my fellow-walkers, Charmaine, has asked that we put up
a tribute for her friend, Debbie. 

Debbie is a special lady who was partly responsible for the fact that we have such a beautiful place to shed our daily stresses. 
Here is Charmaine's tribute to
Debbie Els... 

(Written by Dr Charmaine Elliot)

This story is about that thin silver lining on that cloud…

After my heart attack in 2006, I hobbled off to Loerie doggie Park with my dogs. I had strict instructions from my Dietician to walk every day. And that was when I met
Debbie Els
 and her three canine companions.

Debbie’s sparkling blue eyes and a broad, friendly smile was the first thing I noticed.
 I discovered that she was a cancer patient, in remission.

Debbie walked her trio of dogs – Amy, Zazoo and Tyson - every day until the time when the cunning cancer cells in her body found a new spot to hide. She threw the ball for Zazoo with endless patience, fed endless titbits to greedy Amy (who her husband, Manie had saved from the Kya Sands informal settlement), and allowed Tyson to forage and explore.

The bits and pieces that Debbie shared about her experience with cancer seemed far removed from this positive, warm, approachable person who walked beside me. Colostomy bags and reverse colostomy procedures were quite incongruent with her tranquil, collected demeanour.

In no time Debbie - with her positive energy - attracted a following, and the Loerie Park tradition of walking in a ‘troupe’ of 12 or more dog owners and to double the number of dogs was born . This tradition continues to this day as hordes of dog-owners enjoy the park every afternoon.

Debbie spearheaded the original clean-up campaign, arriving every day with a shopping packet to pick up years of disgusting litter. Nine months later Loerie Park was litter-free.

Sadly, the recurring cycle of increased cancer counts, chemo, radiation, nausea, fatigue and assorted ‘side-effects,’ like deafness, sensitive skin and general poorly-ness, meant that Debbie could no longer keep up with her own walks in the park. This didn’t mean that she disappeared from our lives. Quite the contrary, Debbie continues to send emails and sms’s – amusing, inspirational and informative messages, which I’ve come to treasure:


Here is the flavour of Debbie's messages:


• ‘all going well here. Cud do with a MEGA-Hz battery recharge for this draggy ol’ bod. Pity we’re not actually kitted out with power outlets or plug sites. Other than moving in sloooow motion, all dandy’.

‘Wiggle those fingers, wiggle those toes, wear blommies in your hair and glitter on your nose. Its Spring Day tday So wear sumfing pink Then u and mother nature will be pretty much in sync

*Chest bumps are STILL a mystery...if malignant will do radiation....other results are great in liver, lungs, lymph. Return to Park ever closer!

* Bitava flubberup. The chest lump is malignant. It GREW during chemo. Whata cheek!...
• So far so good with radiation. Little nauseous, lottle fatigued...

* Hlllooo Darling Delight, I be roasting and frying on schedule! The lump feels smaller already. Very eina....no pain, no gain hey! Hope you’re njoying the teasing promise of summer weather.

And so Debbie's positive spirit remains part of our daily lives – remembering birthdays, popping in through our electronic media - and reminding us what courage and bravery really means.
Thank you, Debbie, for what you have come to mean in our lives and for what you teach us. Your strength of spirit endures in those who love you. Live Strong!

Charmaine

   =====================================xXx=====================================

Our final tribute today is to my own special heart-dog:

 In May 2010, I lost my heartdog MAX to cancer when he was only ten years old. 


During his 107 days of grace, Max taught me many things but, most of all, he taught me to
"LIVE LIFE TO THE MAX "
(the name of this blog)

Today, I would also like to share a few of
 MAXDOG's life lessons
 - as a tribute to all those who fight cancer - both animals and humans....
The 'life lessons' which follow are primarily for animals, but they uncannily reflect on our human ideals as well.  I hope you enjoy them...


LIFE LESSONS ACCORDING TO MAXDOG

• WORK HARD !...
...by doing what you can for your owner. Whether it’s picking up socks, underwear or simply being with them, do it with devotion and enthusiasm!
• PLAY HARD!...
...this provides entertainment to the peeps, enjoyment for yourself
and keeps them focussed on you!
• TEST THE BOUNDARIES and CELEBRATE YOUR HEALTH!...
...see how far you can run, how high you can jump, how loud you can bark and how long you can sleep...and be grateful!
• CELEBRATE LIFE!...
...Smell the wind! Read the news! Soak up the sun and enjoy good company!

• MAKE FRIENDS!...
...Remember the only thing you will eventually leave behind when you leave this earth
is a legacy of your relationships!
• LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT!...
...Don’t let the worries of others get you down or the worries of what is yet to come. Your worries will only diminish the joys of the present! Consider simply lying in the sun!
• DON’T PASS OFF THE OPPORTUNITY OF DOING GOOD FOR OTHERS!....
...pick up that sock, or sit quietly with the peeps whilst they share their troubles.



• WORK ON BEHALF OF THE PACK TOO!...
...Together you will be more than on your own!
• RELISH THE LOVE THAT COMES YOUR WAY!...
...It is precious and one of the most genuine things in life!
• DEFY ALL EXPECTATIONS!...
...Including the Vet’s if need be!
Never let anyone tell you that you “Can’t” do something!

• BUT...TAKE YOUR MEDICATION!..
...the wisdom of others is important to recognise!
• INSIST ON YOUR DAILY WALK!...
...and learn to read the human signs that it is time for that walk!

• ACCEPT THAT YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES!...
...They make you stronger and give you the necessary wisdom for life!
•BE PATIENT!...
...When things don’t happen fast enough, lie down and wait!
• SHARE YOURSELF
It makes people understand you.
• REMEMBER: THE MOST VALUABLE GIFT YOU CAN GIVE ANYONE IS TIME!!!
(Us dogs know this, right!?!)

• WELCOME PEOPLE TO YOUR HOME!...
...It makes them happy and you get their attention!
• BE HAPPY AND THE WHOLE WORLD WILL BE HAPPY WITH YOU!...
...If you pine and are grumpy... most dogs will be left in a corner!
• BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE!...
...and don’t be shy to show it!
• TELL YOUR HUMANS NOT TO WORRY WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE!...
...we love them anyway!
• SHARE YOUR WISDOM!...
...Those who really need it will take it and use it for the greater good.
...Those who don’t need it, will leave it and you won’t have lost anything yourself!
• SHARE YOUR WARMTH WITH OTHERS!...
...You weren’t given fur for nothing!

• EVERYONE HAS A MASTER!...
...Choose yours well!
LOVE YOUR FRIENDS WITH ABSOLUTE ABANDON!!!
...and they will multiply!

And lastly but most importantly...

• IT TAKES A LIFETIME TO LEARN THE LESSONS OF LIFE!...
...Don’t pretend to know it all!

Sending all my love to the amazing people and animals around the world who rise to

 LIVE STRONG

with this dreadful disease.

21 comments:

Boondocks and The Love Shack Pack said...

Many thoughts and prayers go out to all humans and canines surviving and overcoming this horrible disease!!!

LIVE STRONG!! LOVE STRONG!!!!

AROOOOF!
Boondocks & The Love Shack Pack

Ginger Jasper said...

A very wonderful tribute blog. I have to say that I shed a tear at this. I so hope those two dear friends come out at the end of treatment and LIVESTRONG. They are an insperation to us all. Wonderful.. HUgs GJ xx

Milo and Alfie Marshall said...

Oh my ~ I am so moved by these beautiful tributes, I cannot see to type.
I send my love and blessings of health to all humans and animals LivingStrong as they fight this disease.
I also honour all those who have lost the fight against cancer (furry and human), and celebrate all those who continue to survive and LiveStrong.

Jan, Milo and Alfie xxx

Scout 'n Freyja said...

A beautiful and heartfelt post in honor of two wonderful people and a dear dog that will always be missed (by more than you'll ever know). It's perfection, Caryl, but I wouldn't expect any less from you.

The Life of Riley said...

What lovely tributes. Sending my best wishes to Leon and Debbie and to their friends and families, and rememebering Maxdog today.

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Hello and what an inspiring and beautiful tribute. To the Botha Family we send our very best wishes to you all. You show what the word family really means. Just wonderful. To Debbie Els, you are an inspiration. Your sense of humour while facing such a tough battle is to be so admired. Our best wishes to you also.

And for Maxmom, extra love to you for sharing these amazing stories and in rememberence of your dearly loved dog Max. This Live Strong day has brought family and community together.

No worries (especially on this special day) and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

NanaNor's said...

Dear one, I love this tribute because we all have family & friends battling this horrid disease and they are such strong folks. Thank you for posting this and of course your tribute to Max dog was so touching. Reggie sends lots of love to you all as do I.
Hugs, Noreen

Tessa the Maltese said...

Waht a PAWSOME post!

Woos, Tessa

meowmeowmans said...

Lovely post, MaxMom. We are purring and praying for a cure, and together we LIVESTRONG. Hugs to you.

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Dear Maxmom
This tribute is so beautiful. Your words touch our hearts.
It takes so much strength for all those with cancer to keep up the fight.
It takes so much courage to not give up.
We all stand together... to fight cancer
love
tweedles

Bouncing Bertie said...

Thank you for this wonderful post, and for the life lessons according to Maxdog. All well worth a read. I am thinking today in particular of my closest friend from student days, who has always lived a notably healthy lifestyle yet contracted ovarian cancer 4 years ago and has been on chemotherapy ever since...

All over the world we have happy memories of Max (and sad ones).

Gail xx.

Maggie and Mitch said...

What an absolutely beautiful post!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Caryl, your post and the others I've read this morning are touching, inspiring and inspirational. I've lost several dogs, and my Mom to cancer, and I have to admit to feeling defenseless and helpless against it, and so very angry for what it has taken from my life...Your post reminds me that I should channel that anger in a positive direction, and so today I will vow to try. But I know it won't be easy.

Piappies World said...

Thanks you for this beautiful post. We join you to LiveStrong, MaxMom!

We continue to pray that a cure will be found. So much sadness as been brought about by this nasty sickness.

Love,
Piappies Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai, Wai-Max & Forgie

TK and Squashies said...

Wow! Just WOW!
We stopped by to remember our dear Max. Imagine our surprise when we found this wonderful post of strength, courage and love!
Thank you fur sharing this with us.

rottrover said...

Oh Caryl, this is lovely. I have to come back when I have more time to savor! Thanks for stopping by our blog today.

-Gizmo, Bart and Ruby

Tom, Tama-Chan, Sei-Chan, Bibi-Chan, Gen-Chan, Vidock said...

Beautiful!

Asta said...

MaxMom
What a bootiful and moving post
Thank you
I know Max is holding youw heawt and helping you give these lessons to all of us
I pway fow youw sweet fwiends in theiw fightI pway my Dadddi's C doesn't come back
I pway we defeat this monstew fuwwevew
thank you again
smoochie kisses
ASTA

Becky said...

Wow. Much to take in - beautiful, inspiring messages and thinking of each of them and the impact and example. Much love and thank you for all you are doing to make this world such a better place. Much love.

Sam said...

Thanks Maxmom for the inspiration and hope.

Linda Gotlieb said...

Today I write with a very heavy heart having heard from Debbie Els' sister of Debbie passing away this morning. What a phenomenal lady. An inspiration to all her met her. In 1997 I introduced the Searle Patient Partners Programme in SA and Debbie became our co-coordinator and that was the start of an awesome friendship. I am privileged to know her and she influenced my life with her humour, positivity,and love of life. Life consists of who you meet along the way and I am blessed to have known and loved Debbie. Rainbows always Debs RIP.