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Showing posts from October, 2016

Life Lesson #88 ~ In the Middle of it All

“Strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on but you keep going anyway.” ~Anonymous
In this last post for October, I just want to say how humbled I am to share my thoughts, my stories and my life with you. This blog started out as a means to cope, to deal with cancer and to fight back. Little did I know back then not only would I survive breast cancer but I’d also develop a voice of my own along the way. In finding my voice and in battling the big C, I’ve come to understand the deeper meaning in Marianne Williamson’s words, “Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.” My knees did indeed hit the floor but today, October 31, 2016, some 10 years since cancer came for me I have emerged stronger. I sit here in awe, blessed and grateful to be able to call myself a SURVIVOR.
Ten years ago this past December I found a lump in my breast tha…

Life Lesson #87 ~ When Friends Gather

“No one looks back and remembers the nights they had plenty of sleep” ~anonymous
“Saturday, 6 pm, our house” is usually how the conversation begins. I grew up with a home full of people gathering in my parents’ house. The kitchen was always full, and by southern standards that was a good thing. Here in ‘twang’ country, the kitchen is “a gathering place for friends and family, a place where memories are homemade and seasoned with love.” Yep, that about sums it up nicely if I do declare myself. So it should come as no real surprise I enjoy opening our home to our friends and family as often as possible. It can be anything from the holidays, birthdays, planned game nights and dinners or simply unplanned, random, impromptu, and spontaneous evenings with friends around our table. The one thing I have always wanted for my children was the same gift my parents gave me and that is extended family.  When I look back on my life as a whole I am thankfully aware of the many various, diverse, dis…

Life Lesson #86 ~ The Scars We Bare

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“Behind every scar there is an untold story of survival.” ~anonymous
My scars, each one of them though they may be old, purple, fading and spread out are still very present across my chest. I have scars most people could not imagine living with, more or less living through what caused them. I have been cut open and stitched up in ways unimaginable, put back together again and sent on my merry way. My scars are a living testament, a reminder I have faced death, battled the Beast and lived to tell the tale. I am not ashamed of my scars, no, they tell my story. I wake up each and every morning and face the mirror without as much as sigh. I see the mark of the Beast on my body. I am vividly aware of her handiwork, the art of breast cancer’s imprint and the impact on my life. I feel the phantom pains, the crazy reminders of a breast that once was but no longer exists. In those moments each and every morning staring into the looking glass I thank my Father for His unyielding strength. I am…

Life Lesson #85 ~ Making Time for Family

Making family time, what does it mean to you?  Why is it so difficult to get everyone under the same roof, to sit around the table and simply share a meal together anymore? Do we make time to breathe or to sleep? We just do it right? It’s natural, the way things are. So why do we have to actually make or schedule time for family? Shouldn’t it be just as important? I know we’re as guilty of this as anybody at times. Through the years we’ve had our share of grab dinner and go, let’s schedule a night next week and let me just finish this or that kind of moments. It happens, especially in the digital, go, go, go, always connected but not connecting society we all live in. Life is just busy, constantly moving and asking more and more of us. We sleep less, but we sleep, right? However many times family just gets pushed to the back burner and left there. No flame, no simmering, just left and forgotten. But what does that say to those we love? How do our children feel when we say I HAVE to m…

Life Lesson #84 ~ The Woman I Am Becoming

“The woman I was yesterday introduced me to the woman I am today; which makes me very excited about meeting the woman I will become tomorrow.” The woman I was once is gone.  Like a butterfly I've broken free from my cocoon. I'm braver than I was, much more independent and far more free thinking. No, I wasn't as strong or always as tough as I am now. However I have always been genuine though sometimes to a fault. I’ve lived a life that has resonated a fervent and spirituous nature. I’ve always been a passionate soul that’s for sure.  I'm feisty, full of laughter and eager for adventure. I was raised by two unbelievably loving, caring, affectionate and kindhearted  parents. They taught me the art of being silly, of being true to myself and having a strong mind of my own. My stubborn, head strong ideas, my hopes and dreams were never discouraged. My parents encouraged me to soar, to fly and spread my wings from the moment I was born.  Through the years I haven't alwa…

Life Lesson #83 ~ Brave Hearts

“In this house we don’t give up.” It’s our motto, our hakuna matata you could say. Being a young mother diagnosed with TNBC in 2006 was shocking to say the least. But it was downright absolutely frightening for my children. They were babies really. Joshua was 9, in third grade and Micah was in first grade just turning 7 the week I started chemo. You can say this wasn't exactly  how I saw our story playing out myself. That in mind I can just imagine mommy having cancer wasn’t anything like Goodnight Moon for the boys either. Breast cancer, isn't a fairy tale of heroics and martyrs. It’s a battle to the death, for life. Either cancer is going down, or you are. It’s just that horrifically simply. When I look back on my life, on my kids and their battle with my disease I’m amazed by their bigger than life brave hearts. They are what we call co-survivors. Why, well because they too were fighting the beast right alongside me. Literally, “my kids were my heroes through it all.”
I c…

Life Lesson #82 – These Small Hours

When I look around me and see all I have, by whom I am surrounded and the love that encircles my life I am awe struck. I am not only a breast cancer survivor with a second lease on life; I am living a life of purpose. I know who I am and where I have come from. I am not ashamed of the circumstances that have molded me, created and made me who I am. My life, all I have and have not and everything else in between is more than sufficient. I may not have it all but I do have a life many dream of. And I don’t mean material riches, title or possessions. I’m talking about the real stuff dreams are made of like family, friends, love, faith and a life well spent. I'm loved unconditionally and accepted wholeheartedly by those closest to me. Do I deserve the love or life I have been given, not really but I am unbelievably thankful for all of it. I have been provided an education I am proud of, a job I love and a profession tailor made for me. I am married to the love of my life and together…

Life Lesson #81 ~ Me and You

Love, it’s almost indescribable. Love can hurt but then love can heal. Love can drive us bat crazy and then sooth our insane madness.  Some days we may be at our wits end and the next in blissful euphoria. It’s just how love is. Bonkers at times, yes but mostly we are one another’s happy place are we not? The truth is, we laugh a lot, maybe fuss a bit but when Johnny puts his fingers through mine I melt. As the day begins and ends, our love always leads us to each other. After over 20 years of marriage we’ve learned above all, we’re as human as it gets. We’ve seen each other’s worst, believe me.  The bottom of the barrel kind of bad and we’ve stayed.  Why? Well the storms of life, they will come there’s no doubt. The cracks of uncertainty will spread across your walls, maybe even throughout your foundation but “there is no challenge strong enough to destroy your marriage as long as you are both willing to stop fighting against each other and start fighting for each other.” in my opin…

Life Lesson #80 ~ Soul Sisters

“She’s my confidant, my joy, my private dairy, my strength. She’s my soul sister.” That’s exactly what I have in my dearest and closest friend Shawna. We all have best friends; they are the people we can’t do life without. We share our families, our time and our joys with them. They are family through and through and no one can take their place in our lives. There’s that one friend though, maybe two if you're really blessed as I am. Not to the exclusion of your best friends,  this kindred is simply a soul friend, a sister, a brother, something almost beyond words, a relationship altogether different from any of the others. Now speaking as a woman, finding your soul sister is a pretty remarkable thing. It’s best described as looking into a perfect mirror image of our own soul. You are not in any way sisters by blood; instead it’s almost as God created your souls as a whole, then split it into two separate, distinct, beautiful and rare but connected pieces before sending each piece…

Life Lesson # 79 ~ The Original Uniboob Club

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Taking a look back, it was ten years ago I crossed the finish line during our first breast cancer walk. I was fighting the beast at the age of 33. Hand in hand, arms up with my family and friends we stood united. Johnny was on my left and my sister Morgen was on my right when we stepped over that line together.  To say it was a surreal moment is an understatement. But I learned something  as we crossed the victory line, something I carry with me till this very day.  Michael Douglas says it best, “Cancer didn’t bring me to my knees, it brought me to my feet.”
So let me introduce myself again. I’m a fighter, I’m a survivor and I’m the proud owner of one real breast, a uniboob if you like and yes, one fake boob. I certainly found my sense of humor early on in this battle. My sister Morgen wouldn’t have allowed me to be any other way quite honestly. Morgen she’s a fighter herself, a fellow spoonie battling lupus. She looked me right in the eyes and I knew we would kick butt together. It …

Life Lesson # 78 ~ Gone Too Soon

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“You never know the last time you’ll see a place or a person.”  It’s such a sad but true statement. One we know all too well. Saturday we said goodbye to one of the greatest men I have had the joy of knowing and loving. Perfect, not a chance but legendary, you can bet the farm on it. He was a man of true grit, a transplanted Philadelphian who called Texas home in the last years of his life.  He loved his Phillies, Eagles and of course the Fliers. He supported Breast Cancer and Autism Awareness among so many other causes. Our dear friend was a man of real character, tender hearted though he could be tough at the same time. He was generous, loyal and simply real. A man who worked very hard to live the kind of life he was proud of. This man, our friend not only touched my life but was also a big part of it. He was family even if it wasn’t through blood. Sadly not even 60 years old yet Mike was here and gone way too soon.
Mike just had a way of putting you at ease and welcoming you into…

Life Lesson #77 ~ Being in Love with Life

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I have a question for you. How’s life going right now? Is it working out for you? Are you happy with it? Better yet are you in love with your life?  Or are you possibly stumbling down the yellow brick road or maybe chasing the rainbows end? Most of life’s circumstances we don’t see coming that’s for sure. Those sweet and sour moments just kinda show up. We tend to forget our attitude changes everything. If we keep looking at life through a second rate, inadequate or deficient set of spectacles that’s exactly what we get, shabby and inept. But by choosing a different set of glasses (not the rose colored kind either) our perspective changes. See “Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out just take another shot.”
Now I can’t say I have been in love with every moment of my life. Sadness, pain and difficulties have certainly had their two cents and then some. I have absolutely hit rock bottom mor…

Life Lesson #76 ~ Big Adventures

Have you ever seen the movie Up by Disney/Pixar? It’s another one of our favorite movies around here. Of course maybe that's because our family has this sense of adventure deep in our souls. The line, “Adventure is out there” pretty much sums up my childhood. Heck it sums up my parents life together since the beginning. Pretty much as soon as my parents married they were off and running around the world. They have lived, visited, traveled and taken me along to so many amazing and exotic places I can’t keep count. Combined together our family has scene Vietnam, Panama, Germany, England, Scotland, Sweden, Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Korea and most recently Ecuador. Honestly our international itineraries are a lot bigger than just those named above and if you add in most of the continental U.S. you might just begin to get the picture of our lives.  As a child I was blessed to walk through castles, take cruises down famous rivers of the world, cross the English Channel on a …

Life Lesson #75 ~ Changing Our Fate

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“If you could change you fate, would you?” It’s a fascinating question asked in one of my favorite movies, Brave. I love Merida, she’s a spitfire, strong, sassy, opinionated and of course a redhead too. Merida’s also very determined to write her own story. As the tale of Merida plays out she is given a choice to make, she can change her fate or not.  She is warned by the Wise Woman but she fails to understand, “Fate be changed, look inside. Mend the bond torn by pride.”  In the process by working to “fix” her life, the fate she’s been dealt, everything in Merida’s life falls apart.  The fact is it’s not what she wants that ultimately sets her off course, it’s in the way she attempts to get it. This is the thing we fail to realize many times, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis nailed it right on the head didn’t he?  
I have thought about what life would have been like without breast cancer many times. Believe me it’s not a fate anyone wi…