#7D4H - Guest Blogger Bud & Jan Brown #Cancer

Introduction to the blog: This weekend I had the privilege of visiting my grandparents Bud and Jan, in Sebring, Florida. The big joke is that, “Sebring is heaven’s waiting room”, due to the large retired population. It’s also known as the “armpit” of Florida. Despite these jokes, the two of them have been very happily living here for almost three decades. At 90 and 84, the two of them have sage advice to give all of us, and do so with a great sense of humor.

I had a difficult time categorizing this blog… it really could fall under disability, cancer, heart disease, or mental health. Like many things, aging is holistically tied to all of our categories for 7 Dresses 4 Health. However, both are cancer survivors, so they decided to post this for oncology.

About our guest bloggers: Ernest “Bud” Brown was born in Ithaca, New York in 1924. Jeannette “Jan” Brown was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1930. They met in Florida, and married in 1997. They spend their time together with their dogs, Lucky and Maggie. In Bud’s free time he tinkers with technology, paints, and stays up with current world news. In Jan’s free time she plays the piano, builds things around the house, and plays golf and bridge.

Title: Advice on Aging from the Experts

“Well, everything was good until yesterday!”, Jan says with a hearty laugh and smile.

She is just returning from a quick stint in the hospital due to a bad case of vertigo, perhaps spurred by a virus, but the exact cause; like most things that happen to you when you age, remain unknown.

She continues, “Life is beautiful, I have never been happier. I have everything I could want. There isn’t anything I could want more, other then time. Time has always been the thing I needed the most. When I was in my earlier years I was working full-time and entertaining as a pianist at night. I’ve always wanted more time. Now that I’m retired, I really need more time!

When I was working I didn’t have all of these things to take care of… (when you’re working) as far as your house went, you just went with what you needed. When you’re retired, your needs get expanded, and you pick up “hobbies”. You just don’t realize how many little things come up and become part of your everyday routine.

My husband, Bud, is also really limited in mobility so I end up doing a lot of the work. I’m so used to doing it, you get into a routine. It’s the same thing with work, and with having a baby, etc when you are younger. No matter how tired you are, it’s the joy of your life.

Now I get up in the morning to take care of my dogs… and Bud, the joys of my life”.

Bud and Jan at Bud's 90th Birthday party this year. 

Digging deeper, I asked Jan some pointed questions. These questions sparked Bud's interest, so he joined in on the conversation as well. Their collective wisdom ensued... 

If you could give advice to the younger generation, what are three things you think they should know about aging?

Jan’s thoughts: I don’t feel old!

1) I think aging is something to look forward to; not that you want to grow old too soon but it’s something that you know when it comes, you have more time to do the things that you want to do. When you are working that’s your life. When you are retired your life is more pleasurable. I loved my jobs but I love being retired, too.

2) Sometimes, it’s really important to realize when things have their due time. I used to think that when I retired I would learn to read music (I’ve always played by ear). I also bought books on decorating cakes. I haven’t done either of those things! Now that I have time to decorate cakes, I don’t have anyone to decorate them for. Your circle of friends dwindles. We go to a lot of funerals. That’s a tough part about aging. I have one cousin and one friend left, and my younger family.

3) Plan for your future. A lot of people retire and all they have is their social security, they have spent all of their money. Having money, particularly income, is really important to have to enjoy your time.

Bud’s advice:

1) Aging is not for wimps, it’s extremely painful.

2) If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.

3) Be nice to your children, they might pick out your nursing home one day.

4) I keep telling my doctor’s there are two things that I can do that don’t hurt: drinking and eating. (Bud’s very own)

5) I’m so old that I can laugh, cry, fart and pee all at the same time.

6) Getting a little action means your prune juice is working.

7) May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live.

8) I’m also aware that other people’s grandchildren are not as bright as mine.

9) I’m very good at telling stories over, and over, and over again.

10) I’m usually interested in going home before I get to where I am going.

11) I’m sure everything I can’t find is in a safe place.

12) I’m smiling all the time because I can’t hear a word you are saying.

13) I’m wrinkled, saggy, and lumpy, and that’s just my left leg.

If you could give advice to your doctors, what are three things you think they should know?

Jan’s Advice:

1) Act like you care: it can’t be that hard!

2) Listen to you: for six months I told my doctor there was something wrong with my bladder, and they kept just giving me Cipro. It wasn’t until I was peeing blood that they did a cat scan and realized that I had cancer. That’s another thing, you need to be honest with your doctor and advocate for what you need. They won’t know you’re not feeling well unless you tell them.

3) Schedule your appointments better. C’mon, you can care and be more considerate of our time.

Bud’s Advice:

1) Don’t keep me waiting so damn long! We’ve all waited forever and have even left when you are waiting too long.

2) Continue doing the good stuff you are doing. I think medicine is taking a gigantic leap, especially over the last fifty years. I can’t imagine what the next fifty years will be. Everyone is going to be living to 120. The world is going to get smaller because we’re all living longer. The population is also growing in leaps and bounds. What I can’t imagine is that we haven’t had a massive war in sixty years. I just wonder if another one isn’t past due.

3) Smile. Having a positive attitude makes a big difference in the quality of care your provide. We have a very close relationship with our doctor; Dr. Syracuse, every time she comes in: “Hello, kids!” or “Howdy gang”. She also refers to us as family, and we feel the same way towards her.

In your lifetime, what is the biggest thing you have overcome and/or survived? How did you survive it?

Jan’s Advice:

Something in your life that you have no control over, keep going on. Don’t get stuck on it, you can’t change it. It’s their problem, not yours. Something you can’t change, you accept.

Bud and I were meant to be… we start and finish one another sentences. We think alike.

Bud’s Advice:

Probably pimples when I was a kid! The scariest thing that happened, that I survived, was my heart attack. I don’t like doctor’s, they scare me. They do things that make you hurt. A lot of my friends were going through open heart surgery before me. I thought to myself, “man, I’m never going to do that”… but then you know what, I had a heart attack, and I had to have open heart surgery. I didn’t do it bravely, but I did it.

I don’t have the fear of doctor’s anymore, I’ve overcome that. They still hurt me though!

My advice to people facing the same dilemma is to do it. Don’t delay it.

Call to action:

Do you have important information around aging that you want to share with a wider audience? Do you or a loved one currently live and/or struggle with aging related issues? Do you work in research, advocacy, prevention, treatment or care? We want to hear from YOU! Write to us today: 7dresses@artsconnectinternational.org to become a featured blog writer. 

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About 7 Dresses 4 Health (7D4H): 7D4H is a year-long arts and health education campaign lead by visual artist, Marian Brown, in conjunction with Arts Connect International. The objective of the campaign is to promote inclusive community practices through adDRESSing health artistically and collaboratively. To learn more about the genesis of the project, read Marian’s New Year Blog.

About today's look: In today's look Marian is pictured at South Station (Downtown Boston) in Sorel boots, with a black coach bag, grey Express sweater, skull fashion scarf, and custom gloves with sown on mustaches (for fun). Bud and Jan are pictured in 1997, when they first met. All of the dresses for 7 Dresses 4 Health were designed and sown by Kim's Fashion Design. Love the look? Visit Kim at 100 Huntington Ave, Boston MA 02116, call her at (617) 267-9299 or email her: info@kimsfashion.com. Mention 7 Dresses 4 Health for a special discount!

Campaign Update (2017): All 7 Dresses 4 Health blogs were migrated from a former site, so the sharing analytics are inconsistent from when they were first published. We apologize to our guest bloggers, and readers, for this inconvenience. That said, the campaign garnered an average of 5K hits per blog, over 500,000 readers throughout 2015! Additionally, the average number of shares per guest blog was over 150x on social media (through Facebook and Twitter). Thank you for making this incredible campaign possible - and for all that it was for so many. With gratitude, Marian & the ACI Team