Monday, February 25, 2019

Pain, pain, go away

Well, it's official. I have a really messed up back. The MRI says so. Almost every single vertebrae has an issue. No wonder I've been having such pain.

Some of the issues are hereditary, like the degenerative disk disease, osteoporosis, and spinal stenosis, but the other things are all mine - herniated disks, bulging disks, etc. etc.

I wasn't expecting the test to reveal as much as it did...2 single spaced typed pages of information. Wow. And that's why I'm going to the pain management clinic at the cancer treatment center as well as seeing the chiropractor. Joy, joy.

I'm nervous about going to the pain management clinic. I don't want to be put on some addictive pain meds but I sure could use a little help with the difficulties in my spine. And since I used to work for chiropractors before, I know how that goes. One adjustment will lead to many others and will help for a period of time but then, after the insurance runs out, we'll be back to square one.

I've been researching inversion tables. The doctor mentioned that it might help so the plan is to get one in the very near future. Hanging upside down by your ankles doesn't sound like a lot of fun - blood rushing to your head and all, but, if it elongates my spine and helps take some pressure off the vertebrae, it will be worth it.

The other issue is that pesky lymph node that doesn't want to shrink down to size. Along my left clavicle, there's a huge lymph node that I didn't even know was there. The oncologist found it at my last visit and did an ultrasound on it. At the time, the radiologist said it wasn't cancer but I was surprised when the cancer treatment center called on Friday and told me they want me to come back in next month for a retest. If the node is still swollen, they want to do a biopsy. I don't want another biopsy. They hurt.

Some days I wonder when cancer will ever leave me alone. In just a few more months, I'll celebrate my 5th cancerversary and while that seems like a minor event, it's major to me! Major!

On a lighter note, I've been focusing on getting my art ready for the exhibit. My work will be on display from April 1 through the end of May. I'm honored the county wants to put it up. I feel so accomplished, lol.

Art therapy has become my self imposed daily outlet. When I'm working on a piece of art, I'm not thinking about how badly my back hurts, about that pesky lymph node, or about the fact that cancer could come sneaking up on me again any day.

My latest projects are polymer clay jewelry with a steam punk influence. They're a lot of fun to do and they're quick and easy.

Free Art Friday is coming up again so I may just slip a couple of my pieces in and around the city for seekers to find. I love doing that. It's so fun to hide in the downtown area and watch as finders pick up my art.

I'm so thankful warmer weather is finally here. It's so nice to see the sun today. We've had so much rain lately.

Wish me luck as I get my back cracked. (Oh how my old chiropractor would hate hearing me say that!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Love is in the Air

Almost one and a half months have passed since we rang in the New Year and it's hard to believe how fast time is flying! My grandmother always used to say, "The older you get, the faster the years go," and she was right! Since reaching my 61st year, time goes by at lightening speed.

Love is in the air and hearts are everywhere! Valentine's Day will soon be here. Isn't it nice to have a month devoted to the celebration of love? I think so. At least it's not a month devoted to an emotion like anger or hate, that would be bad...really bad. All kidding aside, I love this month - did you get that, I said I LOVE this month, haha. In my humble opinion, love should be celebrated not just on Valentine's Day but every day. Love makes the world go around, or so the song says. But these days, it seems love is hard to find for some. There are so many wrapped up in worldly ambitions and evil desires that love seems to be a think of the past, at least love celebrated in the way God intended it to be but I won't climb up on my soapbox just yet.

Today, I'm not focusing on Valentine's Day, although I should be. Instead, my focus is on cancer, namely my cancer. Speaking of that, today is the day I go for my six month check up. I always get anxious before those visits. It's not easy going to have bloodwork done and waiting for the results. Those results will either determine I'm good for another year or heaven forbid, if the cancer has returned, treatment will start again. I don't even want to think about that.

Walking into the cancer treatment center is always overwhelming. There are so many people there and all in various stages of treatment for some sort of cancer. At times, I feel like I don't belong. I don't look sick any longer. The only way anyone could tell I'd ever had cancer is the fact that I'm missing both breasts and I wear compression sleeves for lymphedema. And to see those things, one would have to look closely, very closely, because I do my best to hide those facts.

I wish there was a way to move completely out of cancerland leaving it behind forever, but that isn't an option when you're dealt the cancer card. It's a lifelong game until you die and yeh, I know that sounded morbid, but it's the truth.

So, today, as I head off to the treatment center, I'll be thinking about love. I'll think about how much I love my husband, my family, and my life. And while I don't being constantly reminded of my bout with cancer, I'll accept it as a part of my "new normal." (I really hate that terminology!)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Cancer the gift that keeps on giving - the high cost of cancer

There's a basket of bills sitting in the corner of my bedroom. I try not to look at it as I enter the room but I know it's there. Its contents spill out onto the floor whenever my husband stuffs another bill into the basket. Usually, when the mail comes, he gets it first so he can filter what I see and what I don't see. Since he's the only one working, he takes care of our financial responsibilities and while I'm thankful for that, I'm not ignorant about our mounting bills.

Cancer is expensive. Even if you've reached maintenance phase, it's costly. There are always tests to be run, blood to be taken, doctors to see. It never ends. Just knowing this will be a continual process for the rest of my life frustrates me and the alternative, death, will be my only way out.

It would be nice to know that cancer could be a once and done kind of thing but that's only wishful thinking. Everyone knows cancer is a long and very involved illness.

I had no idea cancer would be as expensive as it has been. When I was first diagnosed, I was clueless. Maybe I thought naively that our insurance would take care of everything, but it hasn't and it won't. Maybe I thought when I reached a state of remission, the bills would end, but they haven't. And now, since most insurance companies have raised their deductibles, it only gets worse.

Just the other day, I called my oncologist's office to see if it was possible to reschedule an appointment for February 2019 to this month. I explained I'd finally met my deductible and was hoping to get in under this year's insurance. I knew if I could manage to reschedule the appointment I'd only have to pay my 20%. The scheduler shot down those hopes as she "regretted to inform me that the doctor's schedule was completely booked through the end of the year." GREAT...JUST GREAT. So in February, I'd be paying the full fee because my deductible wouldn't be met.

With only one income, it's hard to pay extra expenses. Many times, we do without necessities in order to pay medical bills. We've made arrangements to pay on every single one but sometimes, they get tired of waiting and turn us over to collections. You can't get blood from a turnip, as the old saying goes. We do what we can with what we have and that's all we can do. And don'tcha think that just maybe all the stress that comes from worrying about paying for treatment might eventually contribute to a recurrence of cancer?

Thankfully, we have good insurance but for those without insurance, I'm sure the high cost of cancer is overwhelming. It's not fair, that on top of getting a horrible disease, we also have to pay big bucks for the treatment of it. But, that's what you do if you want to live, right? We have no choice. And maybe, just maybe that's why there's no current cure for cancer. After all, treatment for cancer brings in the big bucks, ya know?!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

There is always something to be thankful for...

Whether it's Thanksgiving or just any other day of the week, there's always something to be thankful for. The older I get, the more I realize the importance of gratitude and that's why I've found it helpful to keep a gratitude journal.

At the end of every day, I take a few minutes to jot down things for which I'm grateful. As I begin writing, my list grows quickly. Seeing God's blessings causes me to be humbled at His love for me.

If you've got something to write with and something to write on, you have the items necessary to being keeping track of your gratitude. Begin by making a list of your basic needs that have been met if you don't know where to begin and allow your list to expand from that point forward.

For example, the first thing I'm thankful for each morning is the fact that I woke up. The alternative could be good too, because I know if I didn't wake, I'd be in heaven with Jesus, but for now, I'm thankful I'm still here.

As I begin to start my day, there are so many other things I'm thankful for but I'm not only thankful for things, I'm thankful for people and emotions, and so much more.

When you become intentional about listing your daily gifts and gratitude lists, you'll find your attitude shifting. Instead of focusing on the negative in your life, you'll begin to see things in a new light. It's all about perspective and being grateful helps you become more focused on positivity.

It isn't difficult to give thanks. Try it! At the end of the day, think of 3 things for which you're grateful. Write them down. You may have a small journal or notepad. Put the date on your list. Try to keep it going for 21 days. They say if you do that, it will become a habit. At the end of the month, flip back through your lists and re-read them. You'll realize God has been blessing you all along, even when you've failed to give thanks for those blessings.

Giving thanks makes your heart glad! Try it, you just might like it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Turkey day is almost here!

Mixing up my famous dressing

Thanksgiving preparations are in full swing here. This year, we won't be hosting the meal but will enjoy being the guests. Even though that's the case, there are still many dishes to prepare. The menu is made and it's time to celebrate!

Holidays are nice because they help us remember those things we forget in the middle of the year. It's nice to have a designated day for giving thanks, but the risk is that we isolate those aspects of the celebration to that one day a year instead of living it out all year round.
It's easy to gather round the dinner table and declare our gratitude, but what about those gray, wintry days in the bleak of February, or what about the sweltering days of July, or the mundane days of September?

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Always. Without ceasing. In all circumstances. So yes, give thanks tomorrow and through the weekend. Tell people how much they matter to you. Make those gratitude lists. But when this weekend ends, don't stop. Keep it going. All year round.

Also, before we go and stuff our faces with turkey, can I just say how grateful I am for you?

It means a lot to know you take time out of your precious day to pop in and visit for a few minutes. I love reading your messages and connecting with you over how God is moving in your life or how my simple words here have been a breath of hope. It makes what I do worth it. It makes what I do matter, and it reminds me that this whole writing thing and helping people love God's story was never my idea, but an act of obedience and love.

So, Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Time for Thankfulness

It's been a good while since I've written. Honestly, I can't remember the date of my last post without looking it up and that's a good thing. That means I've been busy living my life and although this year has been full of challenges, it's been a good year.

In October, I crossed another item off my bucket list. For over 45 years, I've dreamed of going to Israel and finally, it happened. My husband and I joined a group of other Christians for a 10 day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was exciting, exhausting, and very memorable. I could write a book about the things I saw and experienced but for the sake of keeping this post fairly short, I will only touch on a couple of things.

Israel is a crazy, busy place! I never dreamed it would be so full of people, buildings, and traffic. Along with all that, there are, of course, the historical, biblical sites and we visited most of them while there. Every single day of our trip was packed with places to go and things to do. We'd have our 5:00 a.m. wakeup call, get dressed, eat breakfast, and be on the tour bus ready to go by 7:00 a.m. We'd return each day around 6 or 7pm, grab a quick dinner, and fall into bed exhausted.

Speaking of falling, on the second day of our trip, I fell and hard. We were in the City of David and had just completed a tour through some archaeological ruins. I was taking photographs of the city and walking as I maneuvered around others in our group to the perfect shot without bodies in it. As I walked toward an overlook of the city, I completely missed a step and went flying through the air. I landed yards from my original location and managed to fall with all my weight on my right knee. Before being helped up, I noticed how close I was to the edge of the platform. A few more feet and I would have been over the cliff. I took time to offer a prayer of thanks and then felt two strong arms helping me up.

Immediately, upon rising, my knee began to swell and throb. I was almost sure I'd broken my kneecap. My husband helped me find a place to sit and I pulled up my pants to see the damage. Already my knee was turning purple and the swelling was growing. From that point on I knew this was not going to be a good day.

But while in Israel, I did get to ride a camel (another thing to scratch off my bucket list) and I did get to walk on the Gospel Trail, a trail used by Jesus and his disciples to travel from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee.

The Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock

Getting kissed by my camel friend, Sam
 After several weeks, my knee has finally healed and I've been able to put the walker away. Now I'm focusing on preparations for Thanksgiving and finding myself entering a season of thanksgiving.

This year has been full of things for which to be thankful. My brother survived major heart surgery, our family was blessed with the addition of two little ones, I celebrated my 4th cancerversary, Phil and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, my youngest grandson, Garrett, celebrated his 1st birthday (which is a miracle since he was born prematurely and had major health challenges), we enjoyed a vacation to Mexico Beach before Hurricane Michael devastated that area, enjoyed our first international trip, and are now planning a mountain retreat.

The year has also been filled with sadness. We lost 2 uncles this year and a cousin had a major stroke. But through it all, God has been good. We are so very grateful for all of His wonderful blessings and especially thankful for sweet memories that will carry us through the end of the year.

Christmas will be hard with both of our sets of parents no longer with us, but we'll celebrate with those able to join us.

I've still been writing for the cancer magazine but will leave that behind at the end of the year and focus on completing my book. I've put it on hold for some time now and feel God prompting me to get busy writing it.

In February, I'll see the oncologist again and hopefully get good news. It's hard to believe 2019 will be the year I finally reach my 5 year mark. When that rolls around, on July 9th, I'm hoping to have a big celebration. That 5 year milestone is an important one. Doctors say that most breast cancer patients who'll have a recurrence usually have it within the first 5 years post diagnosis. I hope to prove them wrong.

And that's where things lie today. Early next week, I'll begin my holiday baking and I can't wait for that. Christmas decorations are already going up and yes, I've been enjoying many Hallmark holiday movies :)

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with God's best blessings. I'll try to post more often but in the event I don't, know that life is good and I'm busy living it. Spread love, Bonnie

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Pain, pain, go away!

I haven't written in a while so I'm hesitant to start off this blog post talking about pain, but it's what's most prevalent in my life right now, so please forgive me.

For the past few months, every bone and joint in my body has hurt but lately, the increase in pain has become worrisome...especially now that the pain seems to be concentrated in my spine.

My next visit to the oncologist isn't until February 2019 (I'm on an every 6 months schedule right now) but if it keeps getting worse, I'm going to have to go in. In the meantime, I've been hearing many good things about cancer survivors and the use of medical marijuana.

Since Governor Nathan Deal passed the medical marijuana law for our state, I've been thinking about approaching my oncologist about possibly prescribing it to see if it would help alleviate my pain. From everything I've read about cannabidiol, it doesn't contain the levels of THC that cause the mood altering affects of normal marijuana. In fact, the Georgia law states that any medical marijuana product can't contain more than 5% THC and a person cannot have more than 20 fluid ounces on their possession without suffering the consequences of receiving a felony charge against them.

Most medical marijuana is given to end stage cancer patients but it's also used for those suffering chronic pain, like I do.

I have a very high pain tolerance so when I say I need something to help with the pain, my pain level is off the charts. For a normal person, the one to ten scale offers a place for them to rate their pain but I've been living with pain so long now, it's impossible for me to pick a number that matches my level of discomfort.

Every time I am in extreme pain, I can't help but wonder if the cancer has come back and if it might have settled in my spine. In 2015, doctors found a suspicious spot on my spine at L5 and thought the cancer had returned. It turned out, after more testing, that it was just a hemangioma but it scared the living daylights out of me.

I pray daily and ask God to keep me free from another round of cancer. I don't know if I could take it. This one has been hard enough.

To keep my mind off the constant pain, I've been using art therapy. It helps me shift my focus from the pain and allows me to be creative. It's a self imposed therapy that I've thoroughly enjoyed but I have to temper my time. Usually the best time for painting is early in the mornings when I have the most energy. As the day progresses, my back hurts more and more, and I have to quit working.

My complaints aren't always vocalized. I try to keep them to myself as much as possible for fear of burdening others with my problems, but sometimes, you just need to dump things out and let them that's what I'm doing. Thanks for reading and for the love and support you offer. It means a lot!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Happy to still be cancer free!

Yesterday, I had my six month check up at the cancer treatment center. It's always a harrowing day for me. Just knowing I have to go there makes me a nervous wreck. I guess because I have such a fear of recurrence, it debilitates me.

As I readied for my appointment, I began to get very nervous. I was so nervous, I was trembling. Normally, I'm not an anxious person but since I've had cancer, things have changed.

At my last visit, the doctor and I talked about this. He explained this is very normal and is a form of post cancer PTSD. The trauma of the cancer experience affects a person much in the same way a person who's been to war feels. Loud noises,crowds, and anything out of the normal routine cause feelings of anxiety. That's one reason he prescribed an anti-anxiety medication for me. I only take it when I absolutely need it and I felt I needed it before the visit to the cancer treatment center, so I took one.

After taking the medication, I drove myself to the treatment center. It's a huge center serving all of Southeast Georgia and people come from all over the world to receive care there. Just finding a parking space is a huge challenge because of the volume of patients they see each day, but after driving up and down the rows for several minutes, I managed to find one fairly close to the door.

My bracelet
Taking a deep breath, I said a quick prayer and headed inside. As I entered the facility, I passed a bald woman sitting in a wheelchair. I gave her a big smile and thanked God I wasn't in her shoes. Although I don't understand it, God, in His mercy and grace, has allowed me to do well to date.

Each time a person visits the cancer treatment center, they must stop at the registration desk and receive a badge. No one is admitted without one. After I checked in, I proceeded to the port lab. Although I don't have a port and hopefully never will need one, that's where they do all the blood work.

After the blood draw

I sat in their waiting room for about ten minutes and read before being called back. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the men and women waiting for their turns. One very frail black woman was sharing with another woman about her recent tests. I didn't want to eavesdrop but it was hard to avoid hearing their conversation since they were right in front of me. I noticed the woman wasn't doing well. She had a disposable bag in her hand just in case she felt ill. I was thankful I wasn't going through a period of nausea and vomiting.

Soon my name was called. I followed the lab tech into the drawing room and had a seat. She noticed my compression sleeves and asked where she could draw blood. I explained she could only use my left hand and must use a butterfly needle to draw. She asked me to wait and in a few minutes, she returned with another tech. She needed someone to change out the vials for her as she used the butterfly. I thought it funny that they needed to tag team merely to take a few vials of blood.

After the blood work had been done, I walked to a quiet area in the center to read. It was an hour before my next appointment and it wouldn't be worthwhile to go home and come back again.

The area I was in wasn't quiet for long. Every few minutes, someone was going down the hall. So many people were in wheelchairs and needed assistance getting to their next appointment. Once again, I gave thanks for my well being.

Time passed quickly as I read and soon the alarm on my phone was telling me I needed to head to the clinic to see the doctor.

Arriving at the clinic, I met with the nurse's assistant and had my vitals recorded - weight, blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. Next, I was taken to a room and went into waiting mode again. After about twenty minutes, the doctor came in. I was unfamiliar with the doctor but apparently she was one of my doctor's partners. She was polite and listened well. She went over my test results and said everything looked fine other than my Vitamin D level was a bit low. I was happy to hear I didn't need to return for another 6 months.

Before my next appointment, with the nutritionist, I took the elevator up to the second floor. I wanted to stop by and spend some time in the chapel.

The prayer wall
The chapel is a beautiful, peaceful place and I always enjoy going in there. It's so quiet and is a good place to spend time in prayer. I was surprised to find a new brick wall in the room and it was covered in slips of paper. Tiny prayer requests had been shoved into the cracks of the wall between the stones. I thought it ironic since I'll be going to Israel in 2 months and one of the highlights of my trip will be going to the Wailing Wall. The Wailing Wall is a sacred place and people from all around the world visit each year. One their visits, they leave special prayer or praises recorded on tiny slips of paper. When the wall gets too full of paper, the slips are removed and buried on the Mount of Olives.

After my time of prayer, my next stop was to visit the Cancer Thriver's corner. I always try to stop in and see what activities are scheduled for the month. Usually they offer classes such as drumming, cooking, or various art activities all free for cancer survivors. This time they didn't have anything scheduled that I was interested in so I went down the hall to the free library. I'm always looking for a good book to read and thought on my next visit I'd bring a big stack of donations from my personal library.
A reminder to keep fighting

The meeting with the nutritionist didn't take very long. She just asked how I was doing and wondered if I was having any issues with my diet. Since I wasn't, she just recommended some supplements she thought might benefit me and I was done.

It was such a joy to leave the cancer treatment center! I hate going there and feeling death. It hovers there, it seems, like a huge vulture waiting to swoop in and take its next victim.

On my way home, I couldn't help but think how very blessed I am. Stage 2B invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes was my initial diagnosis. Normally, that would have required chemotherapy and radiation along with surgery and hormone therapy. But my faith in God allowed me to choose not to take chemotherapy and not to use the follow up hormone therapy (although I did try it for a few months and got extremely sick from it.)

I continue to follow my natural health regimen which includes lots of green tea, ashwaghanda, turmeric, and a host of other supplements. So far, so good so I must be doing something right.

It amazes me how many people think they have to do exactly what the doctor recommends without doing any research on their own. Since it's my body, I always do a lot of research before I take any recommended medication or treatment. I feel that's my responsibility but I understand many others don't feel the same way. In any event, I'm just thankful. I'm thankful things have gone so well and continue to do so. I never want a recurrence of cancer and hopefully, I won't ever have one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What I really want

The other day, I was reading in the Bible about the blind beggar. In the book of Mark, the author tells us that the beggar was on the side of the road as Jesus was passing by. Knowing that Jesus was the Healer, the beggar began to call our to Him. At that point, Jesus turns to him and asks, "What do you want me to do for you?"

I've always wondered why Jesus made the beggar verbalize his need. I'm sure it wasn't to give Jesus clarity, because He is all knowing. Perhaps it was to cause the beggar to really stop and think what he wanted. I'm sure as the beggar searched his heart, he probably had many requests he'd love Jesus to grant, but being forced to pinpoint his desire made him choose the most important thing. The beggar wanted his sight. That was the one thing he needed Jesus to do for him - heal his blindness. And Jesus did.

I just celebrated my fourth cancerversary. This year was very low key. My husband, two of my children, their significant others, and one of my grandchildren went out to a restaurant to eat then came home for cake. The day was pleasant and although we didn't have a big celebration, as we'd done in the past, it was significant to mark the passing of another year since diagnosis.

Celebrating my fourth year since being diagnosed with cancer made me stop and think back to the story of the beggar. What did I really want? What did I want Jesus to do for me?

In my heart, I knew what I really wanted. I wanted to live more than just one more year. Making it to the elusive five year post cancer mark wasn't going to be good enough. I needed more! I wanted more! I wanted to live a long and happy life. I wanted to grow old and watch my grandchildren grow up.

Of course, truth be told, I wish I'd never been diagnosed with breast cancer in the first place and if I'd ever had the opportunity, I would have asked Jesus to completely rewind my life and allow me not to have experienced cancer but He doesn't work that way. As each year since diagnosis has passed, I realize all of this was part of His divine plan for my life. You see, without my having to take the hard road through cancer, I would never have learned the valuable lessons I've learned along the way.

When the blind man was on the side of the road calling to Jesus, he was desperate. He wanted to be healed and he knew Jesus had the power to give him the gift of sight. His faith in Jesus was manifest when Jesus required the man to verbalize his need. If the beggar had chosen to ask Jesus for something other than his sight, I doubt Jesus would have answered the request. Jesus, able to see into our hearts and minds, weighs carefully our needs. He always knows what's best for us even when we don't have that knowledge ourselves.

I could have asked Jesus to remove the cancerous tumor from my body and He might have done it if it fit into His perfect will for my life but, I never asked. Throughout my life, I've learned to trust whatever He sends my way, be it good or bad because I know each comes directly from His hand into my life for a reason.

My prayers now revolve around my desire to live as long as God will allow. It is my heart's desire that my life will be a blessing to others and that God will the receive glory. Each moment, each hour, each day He gives has been a gift and one I don't take lightly. Before cancer, I took so much for granted.

Have you ever thought about what you really want? If Jesus were standing before you, what request would you present to Him? Would you be willing to verbalize your need boldly like the beggar did?

Jesus said, in John 11: 25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" 

You can have eternal life by believing in Jesus. You can be assured that you will be with Him through all eternity. It's very simple. If you'd like more information, click here.

To read the story of the blind beggar, click here. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

It's getting closer

In just a few more days, I'll celebrate my fourth cancerversary! It's hard to believe 4 years have gone by so quickly since the day I found out I had cancer. Sometimes, it seems another lifetime ago and sometimes it seems like just yesterday. More than anything in the world, I'm just thankful to still be alive.

The day I received my diagnosis, it felt like I'd been given a death sentence. It was almost as if I was handed a piece of parchment paper with my expiration date printed across it boldly in bloody red letters. As the paper was thrust into my hand, I didn't want to receive it. Though that didn't actually happen, it sure felt like it did. As I listened carefully to the voice on the other end of the telephone, the words traveled across time and emblazoned themselves upon my heart. I had cancer and not only did I have cancer, I had breast cancer.

Since that life changing day, I've been on an emotional roller-coaster. Some days have been really good and others have been extremely challenging. Not only has my mind been battered by an arsenal of thoughts and feelings, my body has also been assaulted. Test after test for the past four years have been on the lookout for any rogue cancer cells that might be wandering through my body. Thankfully none have been found, although a couple of years ago there was a suspicious mass on my spine. It turned out to be a hemangioma,  a benign tumor formed by a collection of excess blood vessels. I was extremely grateful.

I've had to work hard at learning how to return to normal since then. You'd think it would have been easy but the trauma of cancer changes things in a big way. Now I suffer from self esteem issues, severe chronic fatigue, residual pain, and the side effects of lymphedema. Each day I have to choose to push through. Some days are easier than others, but I do it anyway.

On July 9, I'll celebrate. That was the day in 2014 the cancer was removed from my body. I was actually diagnosed on June 5, 2014. This year, on July 9, it will have been 1462 since I began my new life post cancer. That's pretty amazing, I must say.

Thursday, July 5, 2018


Yesterday I was ambushed. The day had gone extremely well as we celebrated the fourth of July with one of my daughters and her family, but late in the day, I received an unexpected surprise.

I was given a handwritten letter from my mother who'd passed away this past December. At first, when I began reading, I thought it would be a beautiful keepsake but instead, I found nothing but hurtful and bitter words. Needless to say, I was crushed. It was a sneak attack and it was so painful.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in tears. Trying to keep from ruining the party, I excused myself to the bathroom where I cried in private. Why had I been given this letter now and why had my mother written such terrible words? I was so confused and it seemed so unfair.

On my way home from the party, I threw the letter out the car window. Watching the 3 pieces of paper float away on the wind gave me peace. Although I knew I'd never be able to forget the words I'd read, at least I didn't have a tangible reminder of them any longer.

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 "Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Words wound. Even if they're coming from the grave, they can still pierce the heart. So please, don't say damaging things to your loved ones...ever.