Martha's big adventure — Keep your chin up - Martha Carr

There's one last operation for me to get through before the end of 2009, and while you're reading this one, I'll be recovering one more time.

Ironically, before October of this year, I had managed to go 50 years without ever being put under. Lately, I've been caught in a surgical loop.

As you all know, the first two were both for melanoma in varying stages. Thank you, by the way, for all of the e-mails I've been receiving with well-wishes and shared stories. They are all appreciated, and keep them coming.

This time, though it's for something entirely different.

Two years ago, I applied to the Face to Face Foundation, which is the humanitarian arm of the Educational and Research Foundation for the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS Foundation), www.facetofacesurgery.org. In the U.S., Face to Face makes it possible for people who need reconstructive surgery from the neck up, as a result of domestic violence, to get the help they need.

Two weeks after I got the first diagnosis of cancer, the grant came through and I'm going for it.

You wouldn't know from just looking at me, but the inside of my nose took a good hard left 20 years ago and could use a little rebuilding. This week, it becomes a reality.

Dr. Philip Miller, www.drphilipmiller.com, a noted plastic surgeon in New York City, will be performing the surgery and expects my breathing to improve by 60 to 80 percent. Imagine what a difference that will make to my entire system.

One of the requirements of the grant is that any recipient is out of the situation that created the physical impairment, and that they've received some kind of counseling along the way. That's one of the best parts to this last surgery of the year. It's the final piece of closure to what was a long and difficult climb out of a cycle of living with abuse as if it were normal and acceptable.

Not only has my vision of myself changed, which means I no longer tolerate abuse of any kind, either physical or verbal, from anyone, but I no longer carry the resentment and anger toward those who were playing out this drama with me. Everyone has moved on, and we can all let go now.

As my view of myself improved, my need to blame somebody diminished and my ability to have compassion grew. I had been convinced that there should be someone to blame, but the truth turned out to be that peace came as I learned how to stop parceling out responsibility to anyone. The operation on my nose is the last of it.

It's been an interesting year. There was the sudden move out of New York City when the apartment was sold and an interlude in Virginia while I figured out where to go next. Then came the relocation to Chicago near my son, Louie, just in time to discover I had cancer, not once but twice, and got an opportunity to see how Midwesterners pull together whether they've known you for a week or your entire life.

Now, the last reminder of a time in my life that ended years ago is being taken care of, and I can move on to a new year in a new home with all kinds of new possibilities. There's a new book, "The 3 x 5 Game" and a new web site starting, www.marthasbigadventure.com, and I'm sure other great things I can't even imagine right now, but will share with you as the next year unfolds.

It's a great life and it's made so much better with all of you along for the ride. Thank you, as always, for taking the journey with me. More adventures to follow.

Ask Martha how to get to your dream and receive a free gift of Martha's new Big Adventure book, "The 3 x 5 Game" –– www.marthasbigadventure.com. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., ne.