Friday, November 18, 2011

Calendar is Complete!!

The 2012 Hope Calendar is finished! If you would like to see it, please go to:

You should be able to view it.  Each woman in the calendar is a breast cancer survivor who offers a short statement on what helped her succeed.  If you are interested in purchasing one of these, the cost is $15. Please let me know.

I had a wonderful time meeting the ladies and sharing with them.  As much as we are all different, we have a great deal in common as well. One thing I have found is that much of what we think and feel after experiencing cancer is the same as the next person.  We move on and try to live our lives as fully as possible knowing in the back of our minds that somewhere deep inside us, it remains, and could return at any time.

This being the week before Thanksgiving, I urge you to reflect on what you give thanks for and what you are grateful for in your life.  What are your special memories, and if you were to write a book, what would you say. On the flip side of that, if someone were to write a book about you, how would that book read?  Would you be proud of what others were reading about you?  What can you do this Thanksgiving to make it that much more special for others around you - just in case.  We never know what is in store for us and ya know what, it's not really about us anymore, it is about those who we love and wish to do well for and by.

That being said, here's a few idea's to help you make your Thanksgiving just a bit more special for family, friends, and yourself.

1.  Read a Thanksgiving story with your family.  If you are alone, read one that resonates especially with you.
2.  If you have family and friends over for dinner, ask each person to recall a special memory and talk about it. It will create fond memories for everyone.
3.  Go to church and praise God.
4.  Go see a parade - or watch one on TV.
5.  Invite someone in need into your home to share the day, or go to one of your favorite charity's and serve others.

When we help others less fortunate than ourselves, it often causes us to feel better about our own predicaments.  I've said many a time here, I am blessed and very lucky because I am still alive.  And while I am still alive, I want to make others laugh and smile....if only for awhile.

If I am not on here beforehand.....then here's to wishing you all a very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.  Hugs~

Monday, November 14, 2011

Skydiving - One More Check on the Bucket List!

Good Monday morning all! This past weekend was unlike anything - ever! On Friday evening, my wonderful son, Brad, emailed me and said, "Hey, momma, wanna go skydiving tomorrow?" And me being the kind of mom not to let my boys do something crazy by themselves, said, "Yeah, let's do it!"  And then I thought, "Good Lord, I seriously must be losing it..."

I barely slept that night thinking I was going to jump 15,000 feet out of a perfectly nice airplane, and possibly to my demise. Holy crap! But.....why not?  I always wanted to feel the wind "beneath my wings" so why not try it with my son!  And let me tell you - as far as bucket lists go - PUT THIS ONE ON YOURS!

It was amazing!!!! Did I say amazing?  I meant to say freaking fantastic!!!  After almost wetting my pants when the plane took off (because precisely at that moment you realize there is no backing out), I was terrified on the plane, and at the door, but once I actually jumped with my awesome tandem instructor Cris, everything changed. It is an indescribable feeling, but I will try to explain it.

You know when you are dreaming and feel like you are falling and you shake and wake yourself up?  It does not feel like that at all. LOL It is quite the opposite actually.  You are indeed falling at 120mph towards the ground, and the wind is rushing through your ears and hair quite loudly as you try to grasp the magnitude of everything around you.  With all that going on, you still almost feel like you are being pushed up from the wind, instead of actual free falling.  We spun around in a few flips and circles and Cris even let me "fly" our parachute. Of course, when the parachute opened, I wasn't ready for that part, and *whoosh* it pulls you back....and then you just float.  The whole thing lasted about seven or eight wonderful minutes and Cris, who was so awesome, touched me down as light as a feather, and I just walked right out of the harness (really!!) Having said that, if you are in Florida, I highly recommend Skydive Space Center in Titusville!  I kid you not.  I was so psyched.  My adrenalin was still going at full speed several hours later.

Honestly, other than the initial boarding of the plane and looking out of the door before the jump, it was absolutely spectacular.  So spectacular, that I do hope to do it again.  Oh, and did I mention, that because Brad and I were jumping with the seasoned jumpers who had more than 20,000 jumps, they took us to 18,000 feet.  Not that we would have hit the ground any harder (you're still going 120mph), you just get a longer ride.....ahhhhh.....

THAT was worth the check and check mark.....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Breast Cancer Risk vs. Heart Health??

OK ya'll....I need to get this "off my chest", so hold on.....Another "new" study has been published by the American Medical Association that states: "Even moderate drinking increases a woman's breast cancer risk".  Seriously, this after finding out that it also helps the heart by reducing the risk of heart disease.  

Of course, their study doesn't tell women not to drink at all, I mean, why would it?  It seems to me that these "doctors" getting grants (or whatever) and performing studies provide more confusion than conclusions.  

I would like to know how long this particular study endured for Dr Wendy Chen be able to conclude that the alcohol intake "over a long period of time" (lifetime) increases the breast cancer risk".  I listened to her on WKMG, Channel 6, this morning and was blown away by this PhD's responses.  She never had any solid information, only "recommendations" such as "reduce the alcohol intake to several per week".  Ok, I give - just what does that mean?  I myself have an education and would be afraid to explain THAT sentence to anyone.

Quite frankly, if you can't tell, I am exhausted with studies and the conclusions that "everything" leads to breast cancer.  Yep, it does.  Now that we know that, stop saying it and scaring the crap out of women, young and old.  We would benefit our communities much more if we focused on how we fix the breast cancer issue instead and find a flipping cure.  

Finally, oh educated ones, seven surgeries later and waking up every day seeing a "new study" is actually old.  I live with the fact of wondering if today will be the day IT returns, so, please stop screwing around with maybe's and possibilities and start providing real conclusions - or better yet - solutions - for breast cancer.  Only then will women stop having to have their breasts removed from their chest or worse - dying.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A combo for TNBC?

New news has been posted that may help triple negative breast cancer patients.  According to Medpage Today, researchers are stating that Avastin plus Taxol works just as good for TNBC as it does for non-TNBC patients.  I think that is promising news.

One thing this DOES indeed say is this:  Researchers are working diligently towards finding a cure, not just for a single type of breast cancer, but even for the most hardy cancers, and this is awesome.  Triple negative patients generally have a shorter life span than does non-triple negatives, BUT, take heart, there are so many different treatments being formed for now that the cancer is actually beginning to respond to treatment.  Ten years ago it didn't respond to anything and women just passed away.

As for me, I have been quite tired as of late, but I have learned to recognize when I am overdoing it, and I guess if I am honest with myself, either I haven't gotten enough rest each night, or I have gotten too much rest.  Either way, I'm kind of blah, but I know it's a phase I just have to get myself out of. 

I also cannot figure out why on earth I am craving chocolate.  And Lord knows I have eaten my share of it too - shame on me - bad chocolate!!  Never in my life have I craved chocolate.....and it sure isn't helping my cause any....... any idea's??

Have a great week and hang tough....people are working hard to take care of YOU!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

For ALL Women

Well, last Saturday, I did walk the Making Strides Breast Cancer walk.  It was a beautiful morning - I mean really spectacular.  At 0700 it was cool and crisp and the sun came out to gently warm us just as the walk began around 0830.

The walk was scheduled to start at 0800 sharp, however, many participants got stuck in traffic, so it was delayed to allow extra time for everyone to begin together.  This year, more than 7,000 people participated in this walk.  That is phenomenal.  Viera is not a huge place to begin with, but it sure has a lot of heart.  The Avenues continue to support this cause with the American Cancer Society and Lexus and each year it just continues to grow. I don't know how much was raised yet, but I'm sure its over the 500K mark.

Every step is magical for me. I know I've said it a hundred times, and I will likely say it another hundred, but I KNOW how lucky I am to have each day, and I take none of it for granted.  To be here and be able to walk along side these other survivors, and family members who walk for those who are no longer here, is completely humbling to me. I find it hard not to cry. Not from pain or poor experiences, but the richness in my heart that I feel every time I am among such a group of committed people.  I feel.....lucky.

There are so many that I carried with me during my walk, and I prayed for each of you.  I had my little list in my shirt.  I always carry you with me, here or not.  One day, there WILL be a cure.  Of course, I also believe it will require environmental changes too.

Anyway, for all of you out there who continue your own battles, know that you are loved and prayed for.  As a matter of fact, 7,000 people prayed for you Saturday!  Believe and hang tough. You CAN do this.

Hugs to all ~

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Third Walk

Tomorrow will be my third walk as a breast cancer "survivor".  I've been a survivor all my life, but being in this group is different because your status can change on a dime.  You have to keep your thoughts and spirits positive because according to science, your body will act/react to your thoughts/moods, etc.  This is not to say that anyone can think themselves healthy or think themselves sick, it is just to say that positivity breeds positivity and vice versa.

The calendar I have been working on for the last few weeks is almost done.  We have one photo shoot left and it is complete. I am excited! We already have about 20 orders for them - and that doesn't include what I shall get for my own family.  I designed them with one word in mind:  HOPE.  And then used a survivor for each month. 

I'm thrilled to still be here to walk tomorrow. Each step for me is symbolic of the all steps taken to get here to this day, to walk with the other survivors.  And, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do so.....I hope to see you there....I am uploading a one of the hope pictures I recently took - I have to thank Trisha with TC Photography.  She has done a wonderful job with the pictures.  If you would like a calendar, they will be $15. All proceeds will go to Making Strides to help patients with appointments, mammograms, chemo, and other important necessities.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Two Years, Four Months, Five Days

I know, you are asking yourself, "What kind of title is that?" Well, for me, it's an important one.  Two years, four months, and five days ago, I received that dreaded call sitting in the same chair in my office that I sit in now.  I remember that feeling as my breath was sucked out of me and my thoughts became garbled in four words, "You have breast cancer".

I had never really been sick before then - I mean really sick, like what this unknown person on the other end of the phone was telling me, and every radar antenna I had went up and all defenses turned on.  Just like that.  I didn't know how, I didn't know where, I didn't even know what I needed to do, but I did know one thing - I was going to fight.

So, I have gone back on this day of surviving two years, four months and five days as a triple negative BC patient and re-read some of my posts.  I also looked at the photographs again, wow, it's been an amazing journey I must say.    I've made myself laugh at some of the things I wrote, and then with some of the others, well, I must apologize, for surely the medication was kicking in and my spelling wasn't the best.  But, the reason I went back to look was to see if I had been keeping my promise to myself, and more importantly to YOU - have I reflected my "get up, dress up, and show up" attitude.  I think I have, and Lord knows, I've been honest for sure. Sometimes too honest, but I refuse to lie to you.  The truth is what it is and you deserve nothing less than that and my mutual respect. That is the mother and soldier in me.  

Anyway, I thank Jesus, for helping me through this and giving me two amazing children and a sister who I could not have done this without.

Finally, it is October so reach out to every woman you know and remind her to get her mammogram.  Do it verbally, on email, here on a blog, and on face book, too.  "We" want more birthdays than ever before.  Do you want a good dose of hope?  I took a photo of a woman who was diagnosed with BC in 1976. The tumor was the size of her breast so she had a mastectomy.....and she is still with us.  Now how's that??? You should be smiling now.... go ahead, you can do it. :)


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's On!

Good morning! The calendar is on! I still do not have a confirmed sponsor, but I fully believe where there is a will, there is a way. I just know this is the right thing to do and the pictures that we have taken so far are beautiful!!! I can't wait to share it with all of you - and I hope that you will buy one when they are ready! All proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. ALL proceeds. I am/have been a cancer patient so my only wish is to help someone else get through it.

The women in the calendar will represent "HOPE" for others who are diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 - and beyond. Some have been survivors for 9 months, some for 40 years. They come from all backgrounds and ethnicity's - just like breast cancer. I am so looking forward to the finished product...

There is only 17 days left before the Making Strides walk here. If you are able, please go to my page and donate. You can find it at:

The funds raised help breast cancer patients with rides to their appointments, wigs and such, the Reach to Recovery program, and much more. Every day another woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, but the good news is that there are 2 million of us beating it because of continuing research. I have one word for that statistic: Yayness. :)

Have a great rest of your week. If you are fighting the fight - don't give up. There are so many of us out here rooting for you. We have done it, and so can you. Put one foot in front of the other and push through it - you CAN do this. Sure this is hard, but remember why God gave you knees, to get down on them and look up to him.

Anyway, my motto was (and still is) to get up, dress up, and show up. That, and putting on a little lip gloss makes me feel pretty good too.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How about a Calendar?

OK, late last week, myself and a co-worker were chatting it up and came up with a pretty neat idea... we have decided to do a calendar of local survivors and give all the proceeds to Making Strides for Breast Cancer. What more beautiful way is there to contribute to the cause and to also honor our women who have endured such battles? I was picturing the entire thing in my mind as we talked it through.

My co-worker, Trish, one of our CSI Techs at the PD, is also a photographer who does photography on the side via her own small company called TC Photography. We are looking for a sponsor at this time, and I am confident that we will come through with one.....So, I need YOUR help - if you know of someone who would be interested in one - being part of the calendar or two - sponsoring this wonderful adventure, then please send them my way!!

All good deeds are returned by good karma..... Have a blessed Monday everyone! Hugs

Friday, August 12, 2011

Making Strides - 2011 - Lucky Me!

Hello Everyone!

Yes, I am the lucky one because I am here today and I get to write to all of YOU out here in blog-land, and you have been important in my life whether you know it or not. You have been a teacher, a classmate, a friend, family.....someone who sent an awful joke to me, or an unknown friend who has sent me words of encouragement along my journey. For all of it, I thank you.

I know the economy is dreadful and in worse shape than most of us have ever seen, and it does no good to cast blame, it just is what it is. As a country, we will pick ourselves up, dust off our knees, and drive on, because that is what we do.

With regard to Making Strides for the American Cancer Society, I am opting for a different approach to implore you to support this cause. But first, let me tell you that because of your support last year I raised more than $2600 and my team, The SPICE RACK, raised over $4200! I am very grateful to everyone who donated. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

This year, I am requesting (praying) that everyone I know donate between $1-$5, (unless your company can afford to donate more to a charity, then please do so). From that angle I hope to raise a few hundred dollars this year. I know it is going to be tough, but this is not an option for me - it IS about survival.

As you know, this cause is very personal for me, and my sister Pam. Triple negative breast cancer patients are only just now surviving in the last 5-7 years because of research. Only a short 11 years ago, they didn't even know triple negatives like us existed and women just died because nothing helped them. They would go through heavy doses of chemo and radiation and all the medication and nothing; they wracked their bodies and died anyway. RESEARCH SAVES LIVES - I, my sister, and many other triple negatives are living proof of it.

BUT, this fight is not over because the cure has not been found. Until we find a cure, mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives will continue to die. I have seen women of all ages - 20s, 30s, 40s and up....and it is heartbreaking. I still weep for my friends who lost their lives to this disease way too young and will never meet their grandchildren.

So, today, I humbly ask you to please donate to my Making Strides campaign where your money WILL go to research and WILL help save lives.

I honestly believe that I am still here to talk to my own children and say goodnight to them because of research in the last ten years. That thought overwhelms me because I know how lucky I am and I don't take one conversation with my boys for granted; I savor every single moment.

I monumentally thank you for your time, your love, your guidance, and your friendship.......and as always, your generosity. To get to my Making Strides page, please copy the below link and paste in your browser:

Much love and long life~


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ACS - Extreme Makeover - It could be YOU!

It is that time of year again that the Brevard County American Cancer Society is hosting their "Extreme Makeover" event. If you would like to nominate someone you know - or yourself, please see the flyer I have posted here. This is for breast cancer patients, men and women alike and consists of a full day of pampering and opening ceremonies for Making Strides!

I was privileged to be one of the women selected for the makeover last year, and it was truly a blessing. This year, I hope to be the photographer so the ACS staff can go about their day and do the final touches for the opening ceremonies (at which those selected will be honored). As they run around doing last minute things, I hope to capture those special moments throughout the day of pampering as ladies (or men) are made over.

This will be my way of giving back to those wonderful, wonderful ladies at ACS who made me feel so special last year. I had a hard time holding back the tears, even with all of the lovely makeup.....

If you know someone - or - know someone who knows someone - please share this super opportunity with them. Share their story. Maybe they will be selected for an amazing day of much needed - and deserved - pampering.

hugs to all ~

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Well, two years, one month, and seven surgeries later, I finally received my permanent makeup, or tattoo's if you will. Today is the fifth day with them, and I will tell you this: "Ladies - there is hope in breast reconstruction!!"

Ms. Judy Newdom of Facecrafters in Sarasota, FL, did an absolute superb job. She used a variety of 5 or 6 colors, and the areolas sort of look 3-D. Although I and others who know me know my chest is not my natural born chest, Judy added the final artistic touches and I am very pleased. And get this, the two hours it took her to complete, she did at no cost. Some people are unbelievably giving and she is one of them. Judy is also a survivor and understands the complexities and emotions we go through.

I do not normally advertise for others here, but I am making an exception. Judy Newdom is truly a gift to the breast cancer community she serves. If you or your loved one is looking for areola tattooing or other permanent makeup such as eyebrows, eyeliners, or lip lining, please do yourself a favor and call her first at 941-351-1333. You'll be glad you did.

Thank you, Judy for your dedication to others and for helping me feel like a natural beauty again!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Just My Thoughts Today

I remember when I first started this walk down cancer road. I was scared. Probably just as much, if not more so, than a lot of you out there. Both my parents died from cancer, my sister had Stage 2 triple negative BC, and I too was diagnosed as triple negative. I remember feeling like I couldn't breathe. I also remember my first three words....."Oh my God"....

Surely he heard my cries because for all the days that followed, I knew HE knew what HE was doing and that I must trust in HIM. You have a choice with God, just as you do this disease. You can walk with HIM/it, or away from HIM/it. I chose to walk with HIM because as I've known all my life, I know he will carry me when I am weak.

I also found it imperative to keep a sense of humor. Trust me, aside from the gravity of my situation, there were also several jokes tossed around. That and my sister's falsey tossed into the pool...where it floated..and I laughed till I cried.

All in all, the days are not going to go by any faster or slower just because you have cancer. And, I bet you will be more grateful for each sunrise and each sunset that you get to enjoy. Take each moment as they come whether you feel great, or not so great. Part of this whole deal is that the treatment designed to heal our bodies actually makes us sick at first. Just roll with it and take it as a cue from your body that it is doing its job. That is all you can do.

When you are unsure if you can do this and get through it, trust me - YOU can, and you will. There are thousands of us out here, right here, sending you blessings. We do care about YOU and your cancer and we want you to get better.

Life isn't perfect but sometimes our society strangely acts as if it is supposed to be. If that were the case, we'd be in heaven already, right?? So, don't sweat the petty stuff and don't pet the sweaty stuff. ;)

OK, that's my thoughts, now chin up, shoulders back, smile, and's going to be just fine. Hugs....

Friday, July 1, 2011


My MRI was clean - NED (no evidence detected) and my oncology appointment went very well. It still seems strange at times that after two years of walking around first like a zombie, then with hesitation and concern, to just go back to being normal.

Not sure what normal is now, but by God, I'm going to enjoy it everyday! And, I am scheduled for my tattoing. After seven surgeries, a deadly bacteria that nearly killed me, chemo, and all the other Triple Negative complications, I can't believe that the thought of two little tattoo's is a bit scary to me. Must be because I'm afraid of springing a leak....been there done that - several times.

For those of you who are new to the breast cancer world, I won't say welcome, I will just say let me extend a big "God-hug" to you. This is not the most exciting path to walk, but we hold our heads high, with as much faith, grace and dignity we have, and we fight with we all can muster. I hope you choose to do the same.

If you haven't read my story, for me it was a no-brainer. For what may have seemed scary for me, was scarier for my children. I cried not for me, but for them as I asked God for mercy. Having lost my own mother at a young age, I became determined to fight hard. I greatly missed out on not having her around as I became a wife and mother and soldier and many other things. And she missed out on her awesome grandchildren. In a nutshell, I plan to stick around as long as possible to meet my own grandchildren one day.....

Independence Day weekend is upon us. This great country we live in offers us so many opportunities, even when we feel we are taking two steps back. Be a part of it - and celebrate your life, and our freedoms. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...amen...feeling pretty blessed.....


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Well, another day and another MRI. Nothing bad I hope, but I have had this awful nagging backache for some time now. Aside from having some back pain prior to cancer, I was hit by a pick-up truck and I have fallen - twice. I didn't just fall though, my feet went out and I went down *poof* - it was one of those "What the heck just happened?" moments - both times.

So, because of the never ending pain that keeps me up at night, I had an MRI (thanks Leslie!). The timing was good because I go to see my Oncologist next week. I have been feeling pretty good, too, so I am hopeful that all is well and as progressing as it should be. I take vitamins daily - including C and D and I walk for 30 minutes!! My hairdresser says my hair is growing "crazy fast"

I have this crazy chocolate craving though that just doesn't go away. The only thing I've found to counter it is a fruit bowl from Publix. They have the best fruit.... ever. Aside from helping with the craving, it is a natural sugar boost.

My cousin is doing well from her bilateral, and an old supervisor will have hers on Monday. Is it just me or does breast cancer seem to be going around like the flu? I bet if you stopped to think about it, you could name at least a handful of people - men and women, who have either had it in the past, or recently been diagnosed with it. At first, I thought I didn't pay any mind to the sheer numbers of it because it did not affect me personally, but that is not it. Everyday, more and more women are diagnosed with this dreadful disease. Thank God for great (and continuing) research. That is probably part of the growing diagnosis/equation - the ability to diagnose at earlier stages. Which means, more lives can be saved long term.

Anyway, ladies - listen up. Your gentle reminder....If you have not scheduled your mammogram, please do so. You are loved and this one simple test can save your life! I am living proof of it. If you don't have time to call right now, at least write it down on your calendar to make the appointment - YOU are worth it.

Hugs to all.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A big weekend

Well, June 2d was my two year anniversary since being diagnosed with breast cancer. It allowed me time for reflection on my life, this blog, and where I want to go and what I want to do. For starters, I signed up for a cruise.

I also graduated with a Dual Master's degree from Webster U. An accomplishment I've waited pretty much all my life for. :) At the graduation, the President of Webster, Dr. Beth Stroble, even said some kind words about me that were totally unexpected. When I got up to meet her and take my photo with her to receive my diploma, she said she was glad to finally meet, I was thinking the same thing about her.

I also took a photo with Jen Arnold and Bill Klein. Bill's dad was another student / friend in school. Great guy with a great sense of humor. I wanted the photo with them sort of as a reminder that of the things we go through in our own journeys, some endure a lifetime of challenges....If you haven't seen them yet, you can catch them on TLC, the show is called "Little Couple". Wishing them the very best in all that they do.

No more school....until I start teaching...yay for baby steps...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Deciphering BRCA negative...just what does it mean for you?

I have FIVE women in my family (myself, my sister, and three cousins) that are/have been breast cancer patients, and all of us are BRCA negative. For the longest time I've thought, "Surely this gene is in my family". Surely, I must be right. I researched BRCA and decided to share with you what I found because I believe everyone should understand the results.
A negative BRCA test result means that you do not have a detectable mutation (gene) in BRCA1 or BRCA2. Sometimes, there is a known BRCA mutation in other family members, and it is referred to as a ‘true negative’. This means the gene causing the cancer in your family has been identified and you do not carry the same mutation. What does it mean to you? It only means that your negative result reflects it is unlikely that you carry a BRCA1/2 mutation.
Statistics show that approximately 12% of all high-risk people have a BRCA1/2 mutation that is not identified yet, so it’s missed by the test. Genetic testing is not yet perfect and current techniques cannot “read” the gene/DNA completely.
It is also possible that you are not the right person in the family to have this test, so if you tested negative it may be necessary to look at your family and determine whether it might be more appropriate to test someone else. Both myself and my sister have taken this test and we are negative yet we are both triple negative breast cancer survivors.
On the other end of this is the question, what doesn’t the negative test result mean?
It doesn’t mean you don’t have a gene mutation. You could still be at an increased risk for cancer because you might actually have a BRCA1/2 mutation, it just hasn’t been identified yet. Also, the negative test result does not mean that you cannot get cancer. And it doesn't mean you can stop visiting your doctor. You should continue to follow up with your specialists and take your health seriously.
When I had my test, I considered it to be a preemptive strike against my cancer. If I had/or didn’t have the mutation, at least I was aware of the results and could move forward in an educated manner. I will not take this cancer lying down…unless I have just awakened from another surgery……I will become as educated as possible, from reputable doctors and hospitals that I trust.
Genetic testing is getting better and better each day and the medical community is making leaps and bounds strides against breast cancer. BRCA is the current test, and hopefully one day soon, a more predictable accurate test will be available that can identify every mutant gene. Until then, stay educated and know your body and your disease. Hugs.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A "God Week"

There have been all kinds of things happening this week, so I decided I would call it a "God-week"....his reminder that HE is in charge - not us.

In the last 7-10 days, areas from Kansas to Ohio and Texas to Georgia have been pummeled with rain, flooding, and tornado's. People are losing all the material things they have worked so hard for - and some of their most prized possessions.... loved ones. Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, AL, my Army home for six years, was torn to shreds in EF4 and EF5 tornado's. This pains me as I watch the people look for their loved ones, their pets, and pieces of what may be left of their homes. My heart truly aches to see anyone feel such great loss.

My cousin is making her way through the beginning stages of her breast cancer experience and I pray for her daily, to receive good care from the doctors, and mercy from God. And my friend Debbie, well, she is not so good. She is in the last stages and is now with hospice, and back in the hospital with a signed DNR. She has a tube running through her nose into her stomach to drain the fluids that have built up. I could feel the tears as I left her bedside. I don't know if that is the last time I will see my friend or not.

On a spirited note, this morning, I went for my Graduate photo's. I will finally graduate this coming month and I am thrilled, however, it is overshadowed by the things going on around me. And that is very much ok - so many others are in such great need. Lord, give them strength....

We should all say this: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and staff, they comfort me." I don't know what HIS plans are, but I must trust they are good and our lives were planned for us long before we entered this life.

I know that my own journey with breast cancer has been quite a haul. There were days that I wasn't so sure I would make it and sometimes, like this morning, I feel guilty. Days when my body hurt everywhere, and I looked just awful (to me)... and I was hit by a car, and got the flu....and the list goes on and on....but I never gave up. On the contrary, I would look up and just say, "Really?? Come on, give me a break." Now, I just want to say, "Give them a break."

If you are entering into a journey of your own with cancer, you set your pace between you and God. Trust HIM to get you to where you are supposed to be. I can only say that of all times when I should have lost faith in everything, I found it and found myself, and remembered that family, faith, and love is what living is really all about.

In this "God-week" of turbulent times, hug your loved ones a little closer, smell your child's clean hair, sit by the beach and let the sun warm your skin, or just sit quietly and listen for God. HE is there, watching, waiting, and carrying you just when you will need him most. And, if you can't hear him - call me....he might be a little busy.....

Much love....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time Flies - Easter Message

It has been some time since my last post and I have been very busy. My oncologist has finally allowed me to go 6 months in between appointments, and my reconstruction specialists are about done. The only thing left to do is paint a pretty picture, if you know what I mean (color them in).

I've been doing well taking vitamins regularly with minerals to help support and sustain that which my body needs. I have also taken my awareness to a heightened level where stress is concerned. I do not want to become very stressed out any more as a part of me believes that for so long I lived that way. Now, I let go and let God as much as I possibly can. At least I'm trying...the fates test me regularly.

Too many classes and two thesis' later, I will graduate with a Dual Master's degree, with Honors, on May 7th. Throughout all the chaos of the last two plus years, I continued my education. Mostly, to show my children that they can do anything they set their hearts and minds to do regardless of the situation. It has been a very challenging and difficult time as my mind has wandered all too often, compliments of chemo I'm sure. I've been lucky in that my instructors have allowed me to use my laptop when my hands and bones hurt, and notes at critical pathways that would help ensure my success. I thank them all genuinely for their patience and support. I hope to become a successful and compassionate college instructor myself after graduation.

Just recently, I learned that my cousin has been diagnosed with Stage II IDC. I remember that awful gut wrenching feeling of not knowing what really lies ahead. Not being in control. Cancer sure has a way of reminding us what humility is. She is a strong woman though with a strong family and friends network, and I believe that she will come through this just fine.

As a young girl, a few years her junior, I always looked up to her. She was tall and beautiful, and a model. And she had this infectious laugh that could make a whole room laugh. And she did, and still does. I still remember my dad saying something to her that made her blush 50 shades of red and the family roared with laughter. Carolyn, you are still beautiful, and regardless of what you choose to do, you will STILL be beautiful when your treatment is over. The good Lord knows what he is doing. Keep the faith cousin, and remember what your knees are really for. HE will carry you as he has promised. For my friends, please say a special prayer for her.

Now on to a special sermon of sorts. With Easter on our door steps, may you all be gently reminded of what Easter is really all about - the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a time to celebrate HIS victory over death and man's hope for eternal life.

Before His death, Jesus had promised eternal life to those who followed Him. That Jesus rose from death reflected his infinite power. And ever since I was a little girl, the one message that has been said over and over and over that Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting eternal life." (John 3:16).

This Easter, wherever you are, I wish you hope, peace, and love. Always.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Making a Survivor Care Plan (as read in New Connections)

I recently read that every cancer patient should have a survivor care plan, and after reading the article, I agree. Because I think it is SO important, I’ve copied much of the article for you here so that you can read it for yourself. If you would like to see the entire article, please go to the New Connections site of the American Cancer Society.

A survivor care plan is really a record of your cancer care that can help you monitor and maintain your health long after treatment ends. Your plan doesn't need to be complicated; in fact, it can start with a simple pen-and-paper list of information. At its most basic, your plan should include:
• The date of your diagnosis and the medical name of your cancer, along with a pathology report of any biopsies you had
• The name of the medical professionals who cared for you, including the doctor who diagnosed you and the doctors in charge of your treatments
• The type or types of treatment you received, as well as any potential side effects or long-term risks of that treatment
• If you had chemotherapy, the dates of your treatments, names and total dosage of the drugs
• If you had radiation, the dates of your treatments and the total dosage of radiation
• If you had surgery, the dates of your surgery and the names of the medical professionals who performed the operation
• Any complications you had from the cancer treatments or surgeries
• A list of any follow-up visits and the results of any tests conducted during those visits

You may have to go to different sources to get this information, but you should get it soon after treatment ends. Some doctors and hospitals are now helping patients create survivor care plans as they reach the end of cancer treatment. If you're working with your health care team, your plan may also include:
• Contact information for support groups
• Other support resources
• Tips for living a healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of cancer recurrence or new cancers
• A schedule for screening for recurrences or to look for new cancers
• Information about your legal rights regarding employment and insurance
All of this information may prove valuable in the future, so it's a good idea to keep your survivor care plan in a safe and accessible place.

The last part of the article reminds everyone that treatment may one day be behind you, but it is important to take the time to create a survivor care plan now so you can be the best possible long-term advocate for your health.

Hope you've enjoyed this update! Hugs.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Space Coast Music Fest

Hello everyone! I have two tickets up for a "chance drawing" or raffle, if you will, to the Space Coast Music Fest here in Melbourne on April 15-16. The tickets are for both days AND include two backstage passes to meet either Miranda Lambert or Dierks Bentley!!! Priceless!

As you can guess, all proceeds will go to the Relay for Life event that will be held here at the end of April. Doing my best to help other cancer patients.

Also - we would like to have an Arts and Crafts show sometime around April 9th. Not having experience in this arena, I think it could be a good showing, but still need some guidance - and a lot of hope to pull it off! Will keep you posted....

Busy, busy, busy.....between work, school, and seminars, I have not been very attentive to my site here and I apologize to those of you who do check in periodically. I promise that when I finish school next semester, I will get back to educating on cancer.

Have a wonderful week! If you want to purchase any tickets towards the raffle, please leave me a note here or email me. Tickets are 1 for $2, 3 for $5, 6 for $10 and so on..... hugs everyone!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Keeping HOPE Alive

Everyday I sit back and try to think of new ways to keep the focus on finding the cause and finding the cure for breast cancer. I fund raise for Making Strides and Relay for Life in the hopes that funds go to help those who need it most. I believe it does.

Another aspect that I think is just as critical is keeping HOPE alive. I recently read that approximately every three minutes another woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. That is what...20 women an hour, 480 women each day, 14,400 each month and 172,800 each year. When you look at it like this, it is overwhelming and almost gut wrenching because lately it seems that almost every week, someone I know is being diagnosed with a dangerous BC.

I feel that somehow with my survival thus far, it is imperative that I make time to offer hope, and help that newly diagnosed woman - or man - keep their hope alive. As those who have had breast cancer know, with a diagnosis comes many dark days and life altering decisions.

Today, I go back to what I've said many times during my writings - if you haven't yet scheduled your mammogram for this year, please do so. Write yourself a promise to do it - you will be saving those who love you most from endless worrying, sleepless nights, and long hospital stays. Love yourself enough to give your body hope. Hope that you never have breast cancer, hope that if you do get it, your body will stay strong enough to fight back, and hope in our medical community as they continue to research every available option to save lives.

My closing words for you are these: I PROMISE.

I want you to promise me that you will schedule your mammogram. Even if it is 4 months out. Don't get caught up in your busy day to day schedule and keep forgetting because cancer waits for no one. My hope for you is that you walk away and go to your calendar to make a note that says, "I promise"....and follow up.

I hope that you have many years ahead with your family, your friends, your neighbors. And yes, your breasts and hair, too.

And I promise I'll stay right here and keep writing to you. Love to all.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Busy is GOOD

Well, the New Year began with a bang - figuratively and literally! :) The fireworks woke me up which was good because I love to watch the ball drop and they were also beautiful to watch as I looked outside my window. I thought to myself how much I would miss these kind of treasured moments so I take them in and commit them to memory....and shortly thereafter I fell back to sleep. LOL!

New Year's Day, I went to bingo with my sister and won.... $1, THAT'S the way to start the year off right! Off course we always split and she held up her end and won a few times both that night and the next day so we did good! We spend a lot, but when you hit on that kind of jackpot - it is sweet!

I'm also in what I think will be the very hardest class of my Master's Degree Program. Finance for Managers. I took Statistics in my BPA to AVOID anymore math classes...lucky me. To make it worse, I'm taking TWO classes!!! I'm a sucker for punishment I guess. Actually, when I found out I had cancer, I had to take a semester off and then only took one class at a time. Now that I'm feeling better, I am determined to graduate in May and walk across that stage with my boys in the audience. They are, after all, the very core of my life and why I do everything I do. I want them to realize that no matter what, they can do whatever they put their minds to...and they know that - this is just reinforcement. ;) And you, this is your reminder that YOU too can do anything you set your mind to do. Think and be positive and it will be so.

I think after graduation I might like to write a book - maybe a motivational book for cancer patients. I'd prefer to be a motivational (and fun)(not funny per se) speaker, but I don't know yet...Choices. That's what I like. I will have the opportunity to choose....and of course, I'll share it with you.

Being on the mend and being busy is good. It makes me feel good and alive. And that is something I want to do a whole lot more of....Cheers to a great new year!! hugs to all!