Archives for December 2013

Kylie Whiteside

The Little Things

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

With those of you who know me, you will understand the whole randomness of this thought process as you read. For those of you who do not know me, this is how I think.

I ride and train barrel horses for a living. Love it. Although my days are sociably lonesome from any human contact, I am surrounded by what I find to be the most amazing animals. Horses. Throughout the day, as I ride and work, my thoughts are many and random.

One that has really kind of bugged me recently are people around Christmas time. I am certainly not a grinch, but read on and hear me out.

As we all know from the songs, greeting cards and shopping – “It is the most wonderful time of the year.” Is it? Really?

I recently read on a Black Friday massacre, people beating each other in the stores and in the parking lots, over deals on items; you go to town, and everybody is in hurry-up mode. Nowhere for parking, people absolutely stressed about having extra money to shop and spoil their loved ones, and you rarely hear “excuse me” if someone wants past you. Whatever happened to the true meaning of Christmas? And when did it become that a simple card with meaningful words was not enough?  I wonder if you randomly asked children of today what Christmas is all about, would they know?

To me, of course it is the Birth of Christ, and the get-togethers with family and friends. Today’s society has become so focused on materialistic items, and the thought pattern has become that the only way to show love is to buy people more and more and more. So my main thought for all of the rambling is: Do materialistic gifts fill your heart forever? Can you look back in 50 years and remember how gifts made you feel, or would you even care, or remember that gift anymore after that long? I understand some gifts are very meaningful, and yes, I believe there is room for that. But ultimately, the older I get, the more people I meet, I am now realizing that quality time and good memories you spend making with those you love and care about are the ones that fill your heart forever. It is the kind words, the meaningful hugs, and the good old cheek pinch from Grandma no matter how old you are.

As I work with the horses daily, and spend hours watching them, I appreciate all that they teach me, every day. The gratitude they show over just getting a pat or a good brushing; the excitement they have and how they nicker when they see you coming to their pen; the craziness and playfulness they have when you turn them loose to run in the arena; or, even just the enjoyment of finding a little green blade of grass through the snow. The little things.

So, with what I am learning from the horses on a daily basis, it urges me to ask these questions: What if we all just had a little more gratitude for everything we already have in our lives? What if we all just treated each other a little bit better? What if we went out of our way for a stranger and had manners like “excuse me, please and thank-you,” or helped an older person with their groceries to their car? When is enough, enough?

I think there would be a lot more happiness throughout the world if we could all impose this sort of change, and not just around Christmas. Always. I hope this blog has reached those that need it and it is nothing personal to anybody. Take notice – where can you help out and make someone’s day good? It’s the little things.

One Day at a Time

Meet Brooke. The past few years have been an incredible journey, not knowing what life had in store for her. So she took it one day at a time.

As a young, vibrant barrel racer, Brooke was on top of the world. She was young, had many accomplishments under her belt already, such as multiple qualifications for Canadian Girls Rodeo Association (CGRA) and Alberta Barrel Racing Association (ABRA) Barrel Racing Finals. as well as being a tough competitor in the High School Rodeo Association in Barrel Racing, Pole Bending and Goat Tying. She was ready to take on the world, and had her whole life waiting for her.

Brooke making yet another great run.

Brooke making yet another great run.

When Brooke was at the age of 19, it was January 16, 2012. Brooke had received every high school graduating student’s long awaited college acceptance letter. Later that day, she also received some devastating news. She had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), not exactly how she pictured that day would go.

When I asked Brooke how she felt about it right after she was diagnosed, she said, “For a young 19-year-old girl, who was not even a year out of graduating high school, being diagnosed with cancer was certainly not how I pictured that day to go. Something no one could ever imagine happening, a true nightmare. At first I was really scared, and scared many times throughout my journey.”

Immediately after being diagnosed, the doctors proceeded with a bone marrow extraction, and from that test they can determine all the details of the leukaemia and how they were going to treat Brooke. From there, they started by testing siblings, and there is only a 30% chance they could be a potential match. Unfortunately, Brooke’s brother was not a match. After finding out that her brother was not a match, the doctors went to a worldwide stem cell and bone marrow bank, called OneMatch. This process was started at the end of January to beginning of February. They went through all the possible donors until at least two 100% matches were found. One, who will be the donor, and the other, a person for backup.

Brooke learned of her transplant date in mid-May, and received her transplant on June 22, 2012.

“Not being able to contact or know any information about my donor, a year later, when it was possible, I put in for a request for contacting each other. Receiving further information about my donor, I then proceeded to contact her. I am happy to say we are friends and keep in contact on a regular basis.”

In the beginning of Brooke being diagnosed, she was very focused on telling her friends, family and loved ones that it was going to be okay. I asked Brooke what mindset she had throughout her healing, “I centered so much on positives. I truly believe in the power of positive thinking, and I surrounded myself with positive things. There are some things in life you just cannot control, you just have to know that someone has a greater plan for you, and never lose faith. At times, keeping totally positive, and not losing my head was hard. During those times, I was so lucky to be surrounded by people who loved me; they would tell me a funny story or give me encouraging things to read, always letting me know that there was light at the end of the tunnel. I really had to put everything on hold, my friends, barrel racing, even being outside. At first it was really hard; I just wanted to be like everyone else again. I focused all that time on myself, I needed to focus on myself to get better, put everything on hold at that time, so that I can do what I love for the rest of my life.”

Staying Positive!

Staying Positive!

Throughout Brooke’s healing and time in the hospital, she received many beautiful messages, sayings, and thoughts from so many people. The words that stuck with her the most, and were the most inspirational were from her doctor. It was almost as if these words were etched into her soul for as long as she needed them. “You must just take it “One Day at a Time.” So, she did. At that point in her life, she couldn’t think about the past or even the future. Brooke focused on those inspiring words every moment throughout her journey.

On September 27, 2012, Brooke was told she was cancer free.

Brooke is now back in the saddle, but it has not been overnight to get back to her lifelong passion. “This past year has really been a struggle for me, as I wanted to be doing what I love before I was even ready to. I never really realized how much of what I had been through really affected my body, till that fall when I started riding again. It was a horrible feeling when I went to get on my horse and I did not even have the strength to pull myself up onto the saddle. I took most of the winter off, as I do not have an immune system yet, and decided those indoor arenas may not be the best thing for me. This spring and summer I have been riding lots going to a few jackpots and rodeos here and there.

Brooke is back out at the jackpots, and has been going to some Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeos (CIRA); and, because we compete together at the jackpots, may I mention, she is starting to kick ass again!

This past August, Brooke was blessed with a horse named Dumpling. “When I first got him, I was so nervous; the first couple runs together were not so picture perfect. I had almost forgotten how to ride. I had lost all my strength, and my confidence as a rider. So, a lot of the first couple months I spent just riding him, mostly out in the open stubble field and walking the barrel pattern. I would go out in the pasture and just lie in the grass and watch him. Always greeting me for a cookie, I would just stand there and brush him. I was doing lots so we could get to know each other. If we were going to connect barrel racing, first we needed to connect as friends.”

Brooke with Dumpling.

Brooke with Dumpling.

“For the first while, he was just taking care of me; I remember one jackpot he left the third barrel so hard he almost lost me, then shortly remembered I wasn’t ready to go that fast. The more we barrel raced, the more I gained confidence in myself and the more we gained in each other. These past couple months, I have been going to some college rodeos and barrel races. It’s been going really well, making some points and some money here and there. For each run, we keep getting better and better, I am really excited to see what the future brings for the two of us. It has not been till the start of this winter that I am finally starting to find that I am riding like my old self.”

Life is precious.

“There are so many moments in life people take for granted. Spending a lot of time in the hospital, I really got a great understanding of this. Being out of the hospital, I certainly wake up each morning with a smile on my face. Receiving my life-saving gift, I feel as if I have gotten a second chance at life and I do not want to waste it. Embracing life, I cherish all the milestones I once did not know if I would be able to. I take every opportunity presented to me, because, from experience, I truly know that life can change forever in the blink of an eye. You can’t take for granted what you have today; you don’t know what will come tomorrow or even if there will be a tomorrow.” — Brooke Patton

To contribute to success stories like Brooke, you can visit www.onematch.com and give someone a second chance at life.