I take a little pink pill each morning, to regulate my thyroid.

I’m not much for taking pills, generally.

I take aspirin for headache. If I start getting leg cramps, I’ll take magnesium for a while. I’ve learned to take 600 milligrams of ibuprofen the minute I feel my back go out. Now and then I start a daily vitamin and baby aspirin regimen, but I forget, and neglect to form a regular habit of it.

The pink pill, I remember.

Without it, my skin dries out and my hair and nails become brittle. Without it, my cholesterol levels go all out of control. My energy level drops. Depression blankets me.

The pill does exactly what it is supposed to do.

It also strips my body of calcium. That’s a well known side-effect of the prescription drug, and I knew it going in.

I come from a family of strong-boned women…yet I have osteoporosis.


My little dog, Rosa Parks, has severe allergies.

I inject her, every ten days, with a serum made specifically for her. It contains the essence of the many things she is allergic to, so that her body will build up defenses against them. It’s a lifetime commitment, but her little life is worth it.

Usually in about 24 hours after receiving her dose, she starts to get uncomfortable. Her ears get yeasty and itchy; her eyes water. They are the same symptoms, but in smaller measure, that she would exhibit all the time, without the treatment. If she becomes too miserable, there are other things I can give her to counteract the discomfort.

They come with their own side-effects.

It’s a balance we strike.


My little sister Nita – my cute little sister who can make me laugh like nobody else in the whole world – starts chemotherapy today.

Her prospects are dire. Knowing it wouldn’t save her, she didn’t want treatment.

She knows what a challenge it would be!

The doctors spoke to her about time, and quality of life, and comfort.

They assured her she could stop at any time.

They convinced her to try.

Yesterday – a long day for her – she had a port put in, for administering the chemicals. She went for her first radiation treatment after that.

Today, she will receive her first chemotherapy.

I’m not thinking of Nita in the hospital bed.

I’m thinking of Nita, standing strong like a warrior, in her raggedy wide-leg bell-bottom jeans with her long dark hair showing glints of red highlights in the sunshine and a big smile on her freckly face.

I’m not thinking of the toxins being introduced into her system. I am thinking of those chemicals as soldiers, every one, dressed in white with silver swords blazing, marching in to fight the disease.

We find the balance.



21 responses »

  1. A lifelong friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in December. She opted for chemo and has had two treatments so far. We agreed, with one another, that we would visualize the chemo going in and attacking those cancer cells and destroying them while leaving the good cells along. This goes against medical science but not against the power of the mind and body to orchestrate healing. We are holding her in light and healing, every day. This is what you are doing, too, for your wonderful sister. May all grace and life fill her body with exactly what it needs. I am sending an angel to be beside you, to hold your hand, and comfort you and give you strength.

  2. you wrote, ” I am thinking of those chemicals as soldiers, every one, dressed in white with silver swords blazing, marching in to fight the disease.”
    What a brilliant description and a thought I’ll hold tight as you and your sister face this army. Know that you’re both in my prayers.

  3. I’m thinking of Nita, too, Cindy. And you. And I’ll also think of those chemicals as soldiers, and I’ll pray for their strength and courage and power to conquer the enemy. And I’ll be praying for all of the Ricksgers family through this time, picturing you standing together as your own little army — there is strength in numbers — and love, of course.

    • This is a perfect comment, Kate, and exactly how I feel. I’m a bit removed from the “fray” right now, but my sisters are kind enough to keep me in the loop. As I read their e-mails going back and forth and see them scheduling driving duties and designating appointments, and cheering for every good day, I feel like we are our own little army. It helps! Thank you for your kindness!

  4. I’m thinking of you both, and all who are going through this with your sister. I like the soldier analogy and what the others have said here. I have a little sister and I teared up when you recall how you see her. Best wishes to your sister.

    • Nita probably laughed when she read that description, as it’s been a few years since she wore those wide-leg bell-bottom jeans…but I think of her as strongest then, before life took its toll, and that’s how I am seeing her now. Thank you for your kind comments!

  5. Cindy, for once words have deserted me. May I just sit with you and your sister and all those who must strike that fine balance between poison and healing?

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