Cancer · Mother Earth

Harvesting Cancer

Dear readers, it’s common knowledge how devastating cancer is to patients and their families.

Why??? Resonates in our minds when a loved one is diagnosed with this deadly disease in its many  ways and forms.  We come up with a million possible reasons trying to come to terms with the whys.

But, we are overlooking the practices  modern day farmers are employing when they harvest their crop.  Which is later sold to stores who distribute them and they end up on our tables.  Produce that becomes our breakfast, lunch or dinner along the way.

This is why I’m writing a series of posts related to farming practices and policies and how they are affecting the average consumer.


via morguefile

We need to go one step further when we are buying the products we consume in our homes.  The other day I opened a bag of spinach I usually buy at the supermarket and looked the company up, to my surprise they were second generation farmers from California who are practicing ecological friendly farming.

Do we need to stop and kind of check out who we’re buying from? I would say “DEFINITELY”.

For example, some years ago when in Puerto Rico the plantain harvest was scarce, they got expensive.  You can get a plantain from twenty-five cents to a dollar.  Some called them “oro verde” which means green gold.  Farmers who were able to harvest them when no other had them to distribute made their fair amount of money.  The land was the vehicle for the business transaction.

The land we live and eat out of is part of this marvelous creation.  Land really belongs to no one.  I have a deed that says that my house in anchored on three acres of land that our under my husband’s name, but nonetheless it’s not really ours.  Can we take it when we finally leave this thing we call life.  I don’t think so! It’s ours to use and share.  It is alive and can nurture our bodies and souls.  Farmers need to step back and see the land they have the privilege of harvesting as a living thing.

The question is, would you poison a person or an animal?

Then why are we poisoning our lands with pesticides?

Pesticides that end up in the food we are putting on our tables.

Pesticides that are linked with cancer in every possible way.  Even though healthy lifestyles are being adopted constantly, the very source of cancer is being overlooked.

We need to seek answers even if with our interrogatives we may cause discomfort to those who are violating the lands that cover this beautiful blue globe.

We would have to ask ourselves, why isn’t the government doing something about this, other than offer workshops on how to handle pesticides to local farmers.  Probably because farmer associations and lobbyists are the very ones that are influencing policy makers who are elected to office every four years.  They hand out their favors through hefty contributions equally to all, they really don’t care to much who or what they respond to because at the end of the day it’s all about politics.

Which brings us back to rethinking where we are getting our food from.  Who are these farmers and distributors that sell the produce.  Here in Puerto Rico green plantains are a staple item, but truth to be told  farmers are heavy on pesticides and those same chemicals end up in our tables.  Produce we feed our families and ourselves with.

Remember, be kind to yourself and to others and practice awareness of the capital humanity has  which is nature with all its resources.  Let us make good use of it.

See you around the corner.



Santiago, Xiomara B. Dr.; Rivera, Desiree; Pabon, Agnes; and Garcia, Arnaldo (2016) “
An Examination of the Use of Pesticides in Puerto Rican Agriculture,”RURALS: Review of Undergraduate Research in Agriculture and Life Sciences: Volume 10: Iss. 1; Article 1.

Gratitud: A Healing Power

Every now and then at noon I would enter his office with a,

“I didn’t bring lunch money today.”

Usually he was on the phone or doing something and his secretary was off during noon, so basically I would just stroll in to his office.


As he handed me a five dollar bill  (five bucks was the allotted amount each time), but I took them and let myself out and tried to grab a sandwich and go back to my job as a legal secretary in a nearby office.

Never ever did he question or ask me why. He just provided and kept on doing whatever it was he was doing.

I’m talking about my father in law, who was much more a father figure than in- law.

Not only did he provide my lunch money every once in a while, but also he bought our house, and many other things along my life. In other words, he went from small to big and everything in between.

He improved my life in every imaginable way.  He was our handy-man, he took my oldest child to school for her first three school years, our wing man in every financial decision we made, he was a major contributor in each project (he would always offer to split the bill on every major repair our home went through), he pulled us through as my husband waited for a liver transplant eighteen years ago, and in so many many many other things I fail to list here.

A time ago, a cousin told me that people who were gifted things didn’t appreciate them.  That they needed to work hard for them in order to really appreciate them.

I differ because I was given many things by this great guy and I appreciate them every day of my life.

Many years have passed since he became an important part of my life and today I lost him to cancer.  Facing this terrible disease hasn’t been easy for him or us as a family.  During these times I tried to give something back to him, but still I feel that I could have done much more.  Nothing I did seemed enough.  I wanted to shout “thank you” with every thing I did for him or my mother in law.

I’m happy in a sense because he didn’t enter that scary last stage of the disease where the only thing people talk about is the staggering pain their family members experience.

As the hospice nurse told me with a sympathetic voice,

“Nothing really alleviates the pain, it’s too much.”

He left before any of that happened.

Today as I said my goodbyes I felt overwhelmed with memories and with a bit of regret.  Wanting to do more…wanting to take back some things I said or did since that Christmas Eve in 1983 when my today husband took me to his home and I experienced for the first time how a family should celebrate Christmas.

When everything was said and done,  I only could quietly whisper,

“Thank you for everything Dad. I couldn’t have wished for a better father.”



What would your end of life setting be?

I’ve heard the word hospice on and off for years now.

The very first time I heard it was when my dear “mamita” faced the twists and twirls of Alzheimer many years ago.  I was caught up in my children’s middle years which is synonym to BUSY, BUSY, BUSY.  So it didn’t really mean a thing to me back then.

Many years later, I heard it again as my great grand-uncle faced the end of his life with a debilitated heart mixed up with Parkinson and a bit more.  I still can close my eyes and recall the rattle of his bed the nights I spent over helping my mother in law take care of her elderly father.

Hospice meant things that were needed to take care of the ill.  I kind of never figured out it was a bit more than that.

via morgueFile

Dealing with my father’s in law cancer has been like the birth of a first child.  He is the first of our parents that faces a terminal illness.  We need to do so much for him in so many ways that there is no time for grief, or even emotion.  If we let just a small memory creep into our minds we feel overwhelmed, our chest so tight it literally hurts.  A single memory can trigger a pain so intense it feels like they are hammering a nail straight into your heart.

As I listened to a very kind women talk to me about all the benefits hospice would give not only my father in law, but my mother in law as well I felt strange, a bit bizarre even.  It was as if we were talking about someone else.  She explained rather quickly the part where hospice dealt with terminal patients, making them feel better, she ended up with…

“It’s a hospital at home.”

In other words, no longer can doctors or nurses here do anything else.  Only one thing kept going on in my head, it’s an end of life setting.  The things that are palliative, not only for his body, but also for his soul.  If that’s even possible.

No longer hospice means nothing to me. 

The word itself brings with itself sadness, but at the same time relief.  Will things get better?  I really don’t know, I only want to believe that his or anybody who is in his same condition can embrace any setting they are put into with peace and gratitude for everything they have lived and everyone who they have loved.

A curious thing was that when I asked her, which hospice she represented, the answer was a quiet,

The Faith Hospice.

I chose to believe that even if my faith is weak and torn, if we put all our faith together we can manage through these troubled times and believe he will be able to be as comfortable as they are promising.

And that my dear friends is what believing is all about.


Tiptoeing Around Cancer

Moving around quietly around someone we love that suffers from this terrible disease is heart breaking.

Each time my mother in law tells me to do something or I have to deal with my father in law It’s hard for me to look at him, don’t even talk about looking at him straight at the eye. It’s hard dealing with the reality of all the changes that have gone on with him not only physically, but emotionally.

Up to this point, I’ve lost my ability to talk to him.

I can’t get over the fact on how different things are.  To be honest I’ve sometimes wished he no longer has his thoughts straight because maybe if he would be oblivious of what was happening around him he would suffer less.

I can’t help myself fuss quietly around him.  Checking on him or doing whatever I need to do.

Sometimes I wonder what’s going on in his mind?

The other night as my brother in law, my son and me drove him to the hospital to get admitted ONCE again,  there was fog all around the place, and my son tried to make conversation about the fog (which I instantly felled appalled because I hardly speak at all),  he commented,

“They are to many to be clouds…”

I answered, “that it was fog…”

To my surprise he made a “boooooooo” sound with his very weak voice.  He was trying to be funny!

I had even stopped kissing him, that night when I said my goodbyes I was damn sure to give him a warm kiss on his head and told him I would be back on Wednesday.

My son taught me a lesson that night, tiptoeing around cancer isn’t such a good idea because we’re losing precious moments that will be treasured forever.

So you see “mis queridos amigos”, we need to get over ourselves just once in a while.

Hasta pronto!



The Stories that Surround Us

Have you ever wondered in awe how all our lives are intertwined as if we belonged together.

All our stories run parallel in way or the other.  Yet, we fool ourselves in thinking that we are unique, drifting alone and forgotten in this marvelous Universe.

via morgueFile

Today as we went through the pre-registration for my father in law’s next stay in the hospital to continue with his salvage regimen of chemo-therapies, towards the end of the paperwork the clerk who was helping us shared  her own story.  After hesitating she told us that her dad also is going through  Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

She kindly told  us all about him, and we felt humbled and blessed to the least.  She really didn’t have to share anything in fact. She shared their pain as a family and  how hard it was not only for the patient, but also for them.

She really didn’t have to tell us anything, we were just two strangers that were doing what needed to be done.

During all this process in occasions we feel alone and heartbroken that someone we love has to go through all the pain that cancer brings with it.

Sometime before my father’s last stay in the hospital, my husband told me quietly that,

“I haven’t let myself cry over Papi.”

I really didn’t have an answer to that, but the day I left both of his parents (which I love deeply as a daughter), I allowed myself to cry over him for the first time.  I’m not fond of doing such because I believe that it’s not over until it’s over.  Then, we’ll have time to grieve and move on eventually.

I felt very lonely in my car as I poured my heart out in pure grief.

My thoughts went back in time and saw a younger version of him handing my house keys to me.  He had literally bought us our home.  He didn’t give my husband the keys, he gave them to me.

It meant a lot  to me back then and it still does.

Yet my memories didn’t stop there, they went even further in time and recalled how he gave me money to go and buy all my school supplies for my freshman year.  I bought  a bunch of notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, files, markers and two gigantic dictionaries (No internet back then).

Then they jumped to my wedding, went back to when he had gotten out of his way trying to find the perfect crib.  I wanted it white with a bunch of requirements he was more than happy to meet.  All these random memories had no chronological order, yet shared something similar, they were all full of love.

I remained a while just pouring my heart out and then moved on.  I needed to get home and leave them behind.

Through this difficult time we have all grown one way or the other.   However, I have come to learn that we are not alone.  All of us share similar stories and when the time is right and the occasion rises we share them and connect in ways that may even seem impossible.

We stop if we are in a hurry to listen, we appreciate and are thankful for kind and compassionate words of those who have endured our same path, and most of all we are humbled with the blessings we have each day.

So, my dear friend next time  you fall into the temptation of thinking you are alone in the vast world, think again and open your mind and life to the blessings of the stories that surround us.