Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No more drains and new "girls"!! :)))

What a pretty darn good day!  But as always..."Doctor Days" always bring with it brain overload, a range of emotions, and it good, be it info.

Dropped my Sambo off at football practice in the wee hours this morning at 6:45 a.m. and headed into work for a few minutes to pull messages off the machine before heading into Little Rock to meet with Dr. Hagans.  I always like talks with my Sam in the mornings.  He is my "morning child"....never gets out of that car without a "Love ya mom!".....kinda comes out like one word...."loveyamom" but I never tire of spending time with him....even if its only for the 10 minute ride to the complex.

Got to the doc's office and Deb rolled in just in time to help me into the paper gown.  :)  In came the Doc....with hugs for us both.  I just love him!  I REALLY loved him today since he removed my drains.  I kinda giggled with a threat that if he didn't take them he might get hit with one of them!  hehehe..... I can't TELL you how free I felt without those things!  Anyway, inscissions were looking ok.  Kept me on the remainder of the antibiotic and sent me off to see sweet Barb to schedule my port placement.  Deb dressed me and out we went.

As always, his staff greets us with smiles and hugs....You almost forget why you are there....well, kinda almost!  :) 

Scheduled for my port placement which is a little outpatient surgery for June 14th.  Chemo begins on June 15th.  Didn't want that darn port any longer than I had to!  :)

Dr. Hagans wrote my prescriptions for bras and prosthesis.  Deb and I marched over to Barbara Graves' (via Cracker Barrel for breakfast first! :) for my fitting.  Wanted to go ahead and get the fitting before port placement so that they can work around it.  What a fun day!  Got to choose my look!  hehehe   Do I go "stripper porn star?" or "baseball mom"?  :))  Laugh with me.  Sweet little Elsa got a kick out of us.  We opted for the Baseball Mom approach of course.  But one can play.  Gotta find some fun in this cancer thing!

Not everyone gets to carry their boobies out in a pretty purple bag.  But I did!  I was excited to get back to work....and complete the day.  Didn't see a soul all day!  haha  I kinda rushed it a bit.  Most people don't begin to wear them until 6 weeks ago out of surgery due to the soreness.  And I quickly saw why.  Couldn't wait to get home and get the boobies off!  haha  Had about an hour to rest and then off to the Panther Baseball Banquet.

Was a fun evening.  Benton Baseball is more than just a sport.  It truly is a family.  Never seen anything like it.  The Coaches love these kids.  The parents love these kids.  And everyone loves each other!!!  Nothing has touched me like seeing my name lifted up in prayer via the "Bleacher Parents Ministry".....who says God isn't in our schools???  Trust me....He is very much a part of this Baseball Program.  Might be a little secret to its success......:)  Something to think about!  :)

Anyway....great food, great friends, I was proud to show off the girls.....and sport my "no drains look".  I went from looking like a pregnant 12 year old back to ME!  :)  I even let a few girlfriends "take a peek" and "cop a feel".....darn it!  I was proud to feel NORMAL again!  It was a night full of the year's baseball memories and successes.  The Coaches fought back tears in reflection of the year....which in turn made me shed a few.  God has riched us so deeply via my Sam's love for the game.  I can't wait to go through his next three years of Benton High School with these people.  I know I can entrust them with not only making him a better baseball player....but also an honorable young man.  I know it sounds weird...but thank you Lord for Benton Baseball!  :)

Came home....and had a rough night.  I was in quite a bit of pain....and chose to leave the girls at home today.  Just too soon. :(

Deb also talked to Brenda today, Dr. Sneed's oncology nurse.  She got the low down on my treatment plan.  On paper....its not great folks.  My cancer is considered "triple negative" (estrogen negative, progesterone negative and HER2 negative) meaning there is no known way to prevent it.  They can only kill it.  Meaning it will have to strike and we have to be there waiting for it.  My history stinks.  I'm still trying to digest exactly how I feel about that.  It is very invasive and very aggressive.  While I've had some pretty big victories along the way, and prognosis is good, I'm having moments of fear and reality setting in.  Most likely I will be fighting this forever.  :( 

Please pray for us.  Stress is overwhelming me beyond measure.  My support system is awesome.  But life still goes on whether I have cancer or not.  Moments of feeling alone are frequent and horrible....believe it or not!  :)  The kids still ask questions and I can see the scared looks from time to time.  Please never cease the prayers.  Please.

To my Kim, I'm so happy that today is finally here for you.  Praying for you and your medical team and your precious family.  I love you!!!

In Him,

May 27: Happy, Happy Birthday...

Yesterday was truly a special day. May 27. My Momma's birthday. She would have been 60 years old. Wow....Its seems like forever since I've seen her and miss her so much!

I spent most of Saturday....lying in bed and reminiscing. My mom's parents are still living....and I don't get to see them much. My papaw called me earlier in the week.....which is unusual, because my mamaw usually does the calling. They usually have one on one extension, and one on the other, but most always, mamaw does the talking. My papaw was talking through tears. He has been up at night with worries about me. Mamaw calls nearly daily checking on me. Their health is such that they just can't make the trip. I'm embarrassed to say....I don't get to go visit much....due to baseball, dance, etc. etc. Life just happens.

Each time I talk with them, I vow to come see them as soon as we can. When the kiddos DO have the occasional free weekend, they typically go see their dad, and I don't DARE show up at Mamaw's house without my kiddos! haha

May is usually a rough patch for me with both Mother's Day and Mom's birthday falling close together. This particular "May" has been a doosey!! I decided late Saturday, that I would round up the kids, and drive to West Helena and surprise my grandparents at church. I can never arrive without "bearing gifts"....i.e., pictures of the kiddos, so I began sending pics to the one-hour at Walgreens. I made them a little photo album, with our latest family pics, some pics from our Spring Break vacay, and some random snapshots of us just being silly. (those are definitely in abundance!)

I discussed my little agenda with my brother and he agreed they would love the idea. I wished he and his family could have joined us, but since he pastors a church of his own....he needs a tad more than the "less than 24 hours notice" that is classic for his big sister! :)

We had texted and visited throughout the day, and he asked me to please make some copies of mom's journals to send to him. I've hogged them for a couple of years, but like me, he is in need of some of her words from time to time. He has asked me a couple of times before to do that....but I'd failed to take time to do it....:(   I'm sorry Jay. I immediately began completing that project for him. I dove in, making copies, and even took some pictures of different passages that she had written regarding Jay, or just uplifting words, with my iphone and texted to Jay. They sure made me smile....and hoped they did the same for my little brother.

Also, in her journal, there was rarely a post that didn't mention her friend, Judy. She was her childhood best friend, and a nurse by trade. She accompanied mom to her doctors' visits. I even texted Judy a couple of writings. Judy was such a blessing to my mother, and their friendship was more of a sisterhood. I know Judy aches for her as much as we do. God bless Judy! And thanks be to our Lord for sending me my "Judy".....Deb!  :)

On mom's last Christmas, I had given my mom two books from my children. They were the Thomas Kincaid "Memories for my Grandchild".....books. Very similar to the generic baby books, but they are geared to tell my children stories I couldn't..... About HER childhood. And even MY early days. I asked her to complete one for Sam and one for Sydney. Unfortunately, I she wasn't able to finish them....but she did get most of the way through Sydney's. She will never know how her HER handwriting....has been the best gift to us. I chuckle when she wrote about her first kiss, or dating my dad.....but she also left us with thoughts of us and things she wanted to teach my children.

Here is a blip about how "little girls are supposed to act!"  :)

I had the best mom. Our house was always like a revolving running in and out. We always had supper together every night. And lots of times a stray neighborhood kid or 2 would join us. My dad had an old green Chevy pickup truck and Mom and Rosetta would let all the neighborhood kids pile into the back of that truck and go get a "Jo Jo"....(shaved ice). This became a nightly ritual. Growing up in Newport, the mosquitos would carry us off, so they would always take us for a ride while we ate them. Lord, at least 8-10 kids in the back of that truck! :) I loved growing up there.  Mom never missed ANY of activities, and most of the time, she had a carload of kids to and fro. She and I kinda "grew up together" -- since she got such an early start at motherhood.  We had SO many good times.

Birthdays and Holidays were always a big deal at our house!  Always!  She made sure of it.  So today I am hoping to celebrate HER!  :)

I've wondered over the years.....Was she proud of me?  I found this.....and smiled through my tears.

I wondered lately....Did the cancer scare her?  Did the chemo just terrify her?  Did she totally place her faith in I'm trying desperately to do?  I found these answers....written by her...

I know now how important prayer is by others.  I have some of the best people praying for me....I know this because they tell me daily, and I feel their prayers.  Apparently, she did too!  :) She teamed up with God....and reached the goal of HIS plan.  

Mom's thoughts about heaven, seeing her loved ones, and her watching over my Sydney:

Reading her her own such a precious precious gift.  But nothing compared to the precious gifts of love and sharing God's word and "works" with us all of our lives.  She was a precious angel here on earth.....and is safe in the arms of Jesus now.

I did make it to church....and managed to suprise my Mamaw and Papaw.  David, the kiddos, and sweet Madison came.  We first stopped for hugs, homemade biscuits and gravy at Tootie & Chuck's, before planting ourselves in their "pew" that has been their's since I was a little girl.  Tears filled their eyes....and I know we made them very happy to see us.

Had lunch and a visit that afternoon before heading home.  I was tired from the day.....but SO happy to celebrate such a special day with two special people who loved her as much as I did!!

Mom fought her teach me how.  I know this now.  And I will fight to the end for His plan for me.  I know it will be revealed to me in His time.....and I will be with mom again someday. 

Happy Birthday mom.
I love you,

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I have truly stared at this blank space for a bit not knowing just where to start.....not that my life has been very eventful since my last post....but I've gone through a wealth of emotions! Long story short....I've had a pretty crappy week. :(

First, I'd like to share a word of praise...Our Emme did perfectly! The Good Lord and His team of doctors were able to successfully repair her heart and by all accounts she should be on her feet again in just 2 weeks! Took Syd to see her Thursday evening and we were able to sneak back to see her for a few minutes. She looked just beautiful, and there is nothing more comforting than seeing the pure relief shown on the faces of her sweet parents.

Unfortunately, not every parent there has the same look on their faces....and there are broken hearts everywhere. I've spent my fair share of time at ACH with my Sam....and still, everytime I leave there, I'm different. I'm reminded how incredibly blessed I am that I have healthy children!

Still, SO incredibly grateful for Emme's victory today.....She is such a precious child of God, and Syd's friendship with her is such a blessing. We had been a basket-case all day and her surgery was 4 hours long. So it was refreshing to walk find her smiling and sipping sweet tea! :) God is so good!!!! I so hate it that my sweet friends had to endure such a scary time....but so incredibly happy that we ended with the "best scenario!"

Which brings me to this....Parents, do NOT settle for the "routine physicals" that some provide. INSIST on an EKG. I cannot allow myself to even think about what might have happened to sweet Emme, had she not have had that simple little test. She had NO symptoms, and during surgery, they repaired 9 irregular pathways. NINE! It was quite possibly a life-saving moment. My Sam and my Syd will have them.....from now on and forever more. We, at our house, are now calling it the "Emme Test"! :) It might mean that you can't just send 10 bucks and put them on a bus to get the physical.....but it could save their life. I'm standing behind my friend, Leigh, and will fight tooth and nail to get the word out.....with a passion as great as getting a mammogram. Before you stick your kids out in that heat.....get the EMME TEST! :)

We love you EM!!!!! :)))

This has been quite a busy week. Some ups and downs emotionally for sure. I'm a tad stressed about "life" in general....but am still overwhelmed by all the wonderful friends that continue to check on me....sweet gestures, texts, calls, emails, cards, meals.....They always seem to come at perfect times when I need an "uplifting" moment. God has given me a bigger support system that I could have ever imagined or deserved.

I've already blogged about my "meltdown" after visiting with Dr. Sneed. It continued throughout the week on a smaller level, and I've regressed a bit. I worked a 40 hour week and cleaned two houses this week. First time I've accepted a cleaning appointment since the surgery.....2 weeks to the day. Dr. Hagans said...."2 weeks".....and I thought I could handle it.

Bottom line....I'm bummed that my body just will not do what it is that I want and NEED it to do. I've taken alot of heat from loved ones on "doing too much," "Its too soon," blah blah blah. I appreciate, understand, and love their concern and they are probably right. BUT.....I have to work. Period. Period.

Not sure if my doing too much is even related....but I have appeared to be going backwards a little. Running a low grade fever for a few days, the pain is pretty intense.....and I've noticed a change in my drains. I called the doc and it appears one side is infected so I'm back on antibiotics. I am to see him first thing Tuesday. I'm planning to rest this weekend....(blogging from by big ole bed right now, watching bad tv!!) hopefully, nothing serious and I can move forward next week without the drains!!

Tomorrow is May 27. My mother would have been 60 years old. I know she is celebrating in the arms of our Savior. But, I've got a little too much alone time on my hands this weekend not to be a little bummed. I miss her so much. There are times when I (and I'm sure Jay, too) feel so robbed of FBC (!!!!!!!!) taking her from us at the age of only 49.....much too soon. My children were 3 and 14 months old. She never got to meet my brother's children. Today, I'm down right ticked off! She would have been "that mamaw" in all the baseball stands, football stands, dance audiences, school assemblies, church activities, basketball games......the miles would never have mattered.

Forgive me for "wallowing" just a bit. Tomorrow, I will blog and "celebrate" her.....I've got tons of funny stories....and I'll do my best to convey to those who never knew her, (which is everyone in my day to day life)...what a genuine, precious, happy, follower of Christ she was. Her smile lit up a room! And her laugh was contagious. She fought her cancer battle with such grace. I guess in many ways, she sacrificed her life to teach ME how to fight the good fight. I can only HOPE I can do it as graciously and faithfully as she did.

Friends, if you have parents still with you....savor every moment. Tell them you love them, share meals and laughter, make phone calls to them at least daily, say I love you!!!! and say it often. Hug them. Let them be a part of your much as possible....and be a part of theirs! Mend fences....Forgive....and be a family! Losing a parent is incredibly hard, at any age, under any circumstances. There is so much I wish I'd have said. So much I wish I could say to her now. So many times I wish I could just have another week, a day, or even an hour with her. I wonder if she is proud of me. I wonder if she thinks I'm a good mom. I wonder if she is disappointed or wants to beat my hiney sometimes!

Happy Birthday Mom. Tomorrow....I will celebrate you. Today.....I am shedding a few tears. You taught me to fight. And I'm sorry that I was angry at you when you made the decision to stop chemo.....and I threw a classic Terri fit! I wasn't ready to give up...You said to me, "I am tired. They have done all they can do for me. You will be fine." I know you weren't "giving up" were going home. I take comfort that you are with Jesus....but please know....we miss you here!!!! My FBC (the "f" is "freakin"......she wouldn't DARE tolerate the other F word! hehe) fight is 110% dedicated to you and for you! I will not give up....and I will never lose faith.

In talking with a friend yesterday, I was having another "woe is me" day.....and she pointed out that my faith is so strong in the areas of my life that I can't control...i.e, cancer. But maybe I struggle with having complete faith in the areas of my life that I am not forced to give up control....i.e., finances, career, relationships. Wow....punch me in the stomach. She is absolutely right!!!!!! Our faith is entirely tested in areas where we are also given "free will"! are so smart! :)

I had complete faith that sweet Emme would be just fine. And what a victory! I have total faith that my friend, Kim, will be back to herself very soon!
I have so much faith in my God that He will heal my own body....not entirely for me...but for my Sam and Sydney Clare. Do I continue to worry? Of course I do. Am I a bit scared? Definitely! But I know that if God's Will will lead you TO it, His Grace will lead you THROUGH it. Cliche, I know. But that is His promise to us. And He proves it to me daily. Even through the "bad news," I feel His comfort around me.

I have trouble relinquishing my faith to those worries that I guess I, in many ways, CAN control. My mom used to tell me that there are two things that you SHOULD worry about: 1) Those that you can do something about and 2) Those that ya can't! Think about that for a sec.....If ya can change it....then get off your rump and change it!! And if ya can't, then realize it and move forward. No reason to worry about it.

My prayers are to be able to not only give my cancer fight to Him. But to give Him ALLL my worries. Friends, please help me to do that. Sometimes, I just do not know how. I know I'm not alone....and that I have friends with the same struggles. That is my prayer lay my worries at the foot of the cross.

I have a special day prepared for my mother's birthday tomorrow. Something I know would make her very happy. I hope my body will cooperate....just for a day. I will blog about the details tomorrow....wish me luck! :)

For now, more naps with my weenie dogs, and bad TV. Sam is at Wally Hall, and Syd at Magic Springs with Chloe. The silence is deafening but a tad welcoming today. Continued prayers for Emme's recovery, my precious Kim who is facing surgery this week, and others who have unspoken needs and know who you are...and HE knows your needs.

Blessings for a safe and happy holiday weekend! :) I can do ALLLL things through Christ....who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

In Him,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


All of the posts on this blog....I re-read them occasonally.  Already in just a couple of weeks that I began writing, going back and reflecting reminds me of little details of certain days that I had not necessarily "forgotten".....but the joy and or emotion of it touches me all over again.  Among of the reasons why I decided to record every aspect of this journey.  Not only for me....but for my children and others that may be seeking to understand me....or my walk through this.

To be honest, I'm learning about myself.  I had been told what a "therapuetic" thing it is to journal your thoughts daily.  But I'm now drawn to it to the point that I really DO need it.  Anyway, in reading, I realized how I've left a very important person out of many posts.....this person impacts my EVERY day.  This entire post (and I can get as wordy in my HE can from the pulpit! :))  is dedicated to my little brother, Jay....whether he likes it or not.  I'm not certain if he even reads these blogs.....but one day....I want him to have it IN WRITING exactly how much he means to me. 

Where in the WORLD do I begin.  I was kind of a "turd" growing up.  haha  I was dramatic, kind of a smart-mouth at times, probably a little selfish, as most "girls" sometimes are.  Jay my eyes...."the good kid"!  While I'm sure he got in trouble from mom & dad many times throughout his life.....I honestly don't remember it!  We tease him that he must get tired at night having to "throw out the moon and the stars"  :) 

He and I are six years apart.  Ok....I'm the older one.  Was going to leave THAT part out!  Being that far apart in age growing up....we didn't "hang out" as some siblings do.  I mean...I was graduating high school when he was entering Jr. High. 

Some of my fond memories are on family road trips......(We moved from West Helena to Newport and still made trips back to WH often to see family, etc)....he and I would ride in the back seat and would lay down and put our feet up against each other and have "Feet Fights."  :)  My legs were much longer....and in the back of our old "Chevy Citation".....if I straightened them out TOTALLY, then he had no chance of beating me.  He soon learned my way of cheating....and we would scream at each other through total laughter....."BEND!  BEND!"   :) 

Another childhood memory, Jay and I had a little "song and dance" act that we could perform. Just work with me here....and imagine for a moment: 

 It was an old cat food commercial.....and I'll type the lyrics in a moment.  But to set the stage....I would take an old bath towel and wrap it around my neck like a boa.....Jay was my "Backup Singer" who had one line:  "Ba Do Ba Do....."   That was it.  He danced around and when I pointed at him.....and in his deepest "Elvis" voice he was to sing his "line"....and with gusto!!  :)

Here I go...twirling my bathtowel....similar to probably what a Vegas showgirl would do.....I loved the stage.  I loved an audience.  I was the STAR of the "cat food" song.....

"Catfish got more one bag.......(Jay) Ba Do Ba Do.....
 Catfish got more flava....more flavor (high pitch!!!)......(and Jay)  Ba Do Ba Do.......
 Tasty Chicken....(Jay) Ooooooooo
 Lively Liver...... (Jay Ooooooooo
 Tasty Beef and Cheese TOOOOOOOO  (glass breaking now)..........
(TOGETHER for the big finale).....BA DO BA DOOOOOOOOO!   :))"

We started out fairly young on this little production......but what's Im certain we have performed this as adults from time to time at family gatherings when we get to laughing about it. 

I couldn't post about him without embarrassing him a little. :)  While I loved him growing up.....what I treasure about our relationship is how much he means to me now.  I posted a few days ago about striving to be "Imitators of God"......Jay is the essense of a Godly man.  In fact, in my eyes, He about the closest thing to being "Christ-like" here on earth, that I've ever seen.

He professed his faith at an early age.  Jay was the youngest "Lay Speaker" in the Methodist church at the age of 14.  (youngest at THAT time).  He was awarded the "Denman" (I THINK that is the name of it) Award at Annual Conference that year.....the first youth EVER to receive it.  While he answered his calling into the ministry a little later in life....and I'm sure met a few obstacles along the way.  I know this.  Jay is one of the "Godliest" men I have ever met. 

Mom had us at church....our whole life.  We grew up Methodist....attended church faithfully.....Jay and I both were Youth Ministers in the Methodist system....Jay...a full time Youth Director at a couple of different churches.  He is now a Pentecostal preacher!  :)  Far cry from our meek Methodist upbringing....but He preaches the WORD!  He is powerful.  He is incredible.  The differences in the "religions" are too many to name.  But its funny....Jay and I have had many "theological" discussions.  I seek his wisdom often....and "religion" is never discussed.  We talk about God.  We talk about the Bible.  Jay is a vessel dedicated to take Jesus into every heart he meets.

Throughout my life....he has NEVER once disappointed me.  Possibly the only man who has never once let me down. Don't get me wrong....we weren't the "Brady Bunch".....or the "Clevers" growing up.  We don't always see eye to eye.  But no matter what.....he leaves me with "I love ya sis" and I know and believe that he does.  He has a precious wife, Leah.....and two beautiful children, Jacob and Hannah.  He is raising his children in a Godly home.....and I know for a FACT that by now he has earned the title of "The good child"!  :)  My mother would be so proud.

I'm sure everytime I call him....he sees my name across his phone and wonders...."Oh what?"  lol   Its no secret that I'm a "crises magnet".....and many times throughout my life, its been at the result of my own choices.  But never once has he not been there for me.  Never once has he not stood right there by my side.  Never once has he judged me or loved me less for any mistake I've ever made.  He ALWAYS has the words to make me feel differently about a situation.  To ease my it about finances....or cancer.....or family matters. 

Since my mom died....he and I have felt like we lost the "glue" that held our family together.  We have had to work at keeping close.  Especially due to the miles between us.  I think of him everyday.  I talk to him often.  Lately, nearly every day.  He is so honest with me.  Shoots me straight on sometimes not what I WANT to hear....but what I NEED to hear.  I don't know if he really knows just how much he means to me. 

Growing up...we weren't a family that said "I love you"  often.  There are times when I'm talkin to Jay and when we hang up David scolds me...."Why didn't you tell your brother you loved him?"  Of course, sometimes we do say the words.  But sometimes we don't.  The love is still there.  And I sure hope HE knows that.  Because I do.  I'm so proud of the man, the pastor, the father, the husband, the brother and friend that he is today.  So proud.

I want so badly for him to be just as proud of me someday.  I'm working on that.  He is teaching me so much! About faith, about tithing, about God, about life, about love, about forgiveness.  Sometimes he is outwardly TRYING to teach me.....others, I'm learning by his example.  I am sometimes selfish and call him with my "latest crises".....lately the darn cancer.  But rarely ask how HE is.  I'm sure as a man, he has struggles.  He lost the same precious mother I did to cancer.  He has the same Dad we rarely see. He has the same grandparents that live away and we miss and love and worry about.  He, too, is raising children in a hard, hard world.  He has a mortgage and bills and everyday worries.  I'm sure.  He also has a sister with breast cancer. 

I pray for Jay and his family daily.  I love them with all of my heart. 
I heard a song on KLove yesterday, just after a conversation I had with him, where once again, his words were working to heal my broken heart.  This spoke to me.....and tells exactly how I feel for him.....

The Words I Would Say lyricsThree in the morning, and I'm still awake
So I picked up a pen and a page
And I started writing just what I'd say
If we were face to face

I'd tell you just what you mean to me
Tell you these simple truths

Be strong in the Lord
And never give up hope
You're gonna do great things
I already know
God's got His hand on You
So don't live life in fear
Forgive and forget
But don't forget why you're here
Take your time and pray
These are the words I would say

Last time we spoke you said you were hurting
And I felt your pain in my heart
I want to tell you that I keep on praying
That love will find you where you are

I know cause I've already been there
So please hear these simple truths


Say... from one simple life to another
I will say... come find peace in the Father

Be strong in the Lord
And never give up hope
You're gonna do great things
I already know
God's got His hand on You
So don't live life in fear
Forgive and forget
But don't forget why you're here

Take your time and pray
And thank God for each day
His love will find a way
These are the words I would say

I love you little brother.... When we get to heaven....can't wait to hear what all momma has to say to you!  :)

Blessings my friends.....please keep Emme in your prayers.  Her surgery is tomorrow.  Pray for her and her precious family.  Also, my sweet Kim....awaiting surgery next week.

In Him,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The "Plan"

What a day.....yesterday that is. I should have gone back home and crawled into bed with the covers over my head when only moments into my day....I fall flat on my front of several co-workers (I work with ALL men) a dress. Reminded me of the other day when I was joking with girlfriends....wondering if losing "the girls" would affect my balance like losing a big toe or something! haha As I posted in a Facebook status....I can attest....Yep! it does! :) conjunction with my "big girl wedges"!

Anyway....when ya fall down...momma always taught me to get right back up. Right?? So I did.....didn't bother looking around at who all saw....because I am quite certain that everyone did. I had done my "good deed" for the day and started everyone's Monday off with a laugh! Only cost me a bloody knee. No biggie!

I was anxious most of the day. Was seeing the "Man with the Plan" at the end of the day. My oncologist. To be completely honest, I could think of little else all day. But the day seemed to pass quickly, thankfully.

One thing of note....I was flat out rude to someone today...before I could even help myself! Since becoming a single parent, I did not have health insurance for myself. The kids are covered....but when you are a single mom trying to put out the "fires closest to ya".....things like that, no matter how important, sometimes take a back burner. Thankfully, I'm covered now. But for a long time...I didn't have coverage, and therefore my mammograms and physical exams were pretty behind. It has weighed heavily on my mind for a while. Ironically, about 6-8 weeks ago, I ran across information about the "Arkansas Breast Care" program (not sure of its official name...but that's close).....geared to help me, who were uninsured with mammograms, etc. Curious, I called to inquire. Left 4 separate messages with no return call. So just sort of gave up.

Yesterday, I received a call on my cell phone. I'm gonna tell on myself here....I'm a "screener". If I don't recognize the number, I usually let it go to voicemail, because somehow telemarketers have found me on my cell. Uggggg! But usually, if it appears to be a local number, I will answer thinking it may be a client, a kiddo calling from a different phone, or lately....a doctor's office calling for one thing or another.

I answered the call....and it was "so & so" calling from the Health Department getting back to me on my "recent" inquiry of the BreastCare program. Recent? For Real? She asked me if I was still in need of a mammogram. I actually laughed ....out loud! I proceeded to tell her, with a "touch" of that attitude I've been known to get at times when I'm ticked...and I quote: "Ma'am, with all due respect, I contacted you no less than 6 weeks ago, maybe longer, and since that time, I've been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, after a lumpectomy, bone scans, CT scans, a mountain of blood work, a double mastectomy, and I will be seeing my oncologist this afternoon!! In answer to your question....I will NOT be needing a mammogram!!" I was a tad snotty....and very aggravated! You could have heard a pin drop....and I'm certain I was probably probably preaching to the wrong choir. But geesh! She proceeded to advise me of low staff, et c. etc., blah blah blah. Kiss my booty. I informed her that simple phone calls take only moments and could save lives. Hope my little tantrum helped another lady down the line....and it made me feel a bit better for a second! Lord, forgive me for failing to use grace.....sigh.

Feel a little guilty now. But...I have cancer. :) Please laugh. We joke at home how I play the "cancer card" for silly things like asking the kids to re-fill my drink or bring me something trivial. I would probably bet that my day ended probably worse than hers. Confession is good for the soul! Thanks for allowing me to do so! ha

Picked up my Syd....and we headed to Little Rock to meet my new oncologist, Dr. Sneed. Heard awesome things about him. And was pretty ready to get this ball rolling. I'm thinking in hindsight if I did the right thing in letting her go with me. She has done a lot of "growing up" in the last few weeks. But I hadn't prepared myself for the emotions of what I would see....and I hope I didn't hurt her.

In the surgeon's office....Everyone looks healthy. People look like who you might run into at the grocery store or church. Noone looks "sick". Not the case here. You can tell by looking...everyone there has been affected by the Big C. For me....the "FBC". The knowing looks, the little bald heads, the wigs, the scarves, wheelchairs, ports.....all of it. Everyone looks "sick". Folks, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am sick. Not necessarily from the cancer. But about to be....because of the chemo. I guess its time to create a new "acronym"...FC. The C...being Chemo. Insert appropriate "F" word as you feel moved. I'll refrain from sharing mine! :) This is a family page!

Anyway, my sweet friend Sonya met us there. All smiles, pretty as ever, a skinny minnie....she has beat me at the "diet game" proud of her. We checked in and proceeded to wait a bit. Visiting a bit in between my calls to the back for bloodwork....then the "money" lady.....etc etc. We were finally called to our exam room and met cute little Josh.

I'm sure he was no more than 21 or 22 years old...but had a deep voice and called me "darlin". A precious smile, and a gentle nature. A cutie PAtootie....young enough to be my son....but smart enough to lighten the mood. FBC was kinda the "elephant in the room". He put me on the scales....Ugggggg.....but allowed me to take off the "big girl shoes" first....I'm sure those silly things weigh at least a couple of pounds a piece! :) He even let me choose which number the little bar teetered to! What a guy! :)

Josh discussed my medical history....prepared everything for review by the doc. Not entirely sure what his title is.....nurse, intern, resident. I didn't really care. Today, he was a cute little breath of fresh air! :) Sonya and Syd agreed! :))

Dr. Sneed entered, consulted with me briefly, asked me to dawn, this time a cloth in the front....still know the drill. He completed his exam, and I was able to dress. He came back to have "the talk."

My Deb, nurse friend, and "Medical Agent" hehe, is out of town this week at a medical conference. So, I am fuzzy on exactly what he said, and exactly what everything he DID say....means. Deb is already on the ball with her friend there, an oncology nurse, to get the low-down. My chart hadn't been dictated yet, but she will call Deb as soon as she gets the info in front of her.

This is what I know. First off....I am NOT "Stage 3"....I am "Grade 3".....big difference. What the differences are? I'm not entirely sure. But my stage is defined as "Stage 2A" Breast Cancer. So I've got some googling to do. And some previous googling to "throw out."

He asked me what I understand to be going on. I told him....and when I said the words "Cancer Free"....he stopped me. He said, "I hate it when surgeons say "we got it all".....or "cancer free". There is absolutely NO test to determine that. They CAN say we got all that "we could see".....but again, big difference." He went on to explain that molecular cells cannot be seen by the eye, nor is there any kind of test to see them....and this is the stage when chemo is effective in killing them. When they become tumors, is when they become a problem. Our kill anything that can/cannot be seen.

He also gave me a few statistics. He used a computerized prognosis tool....entered in my info. If we were to do nothing and stop chances of the FBC coming back in other places in my body are 40%. (Wow....dang it. That's a big ole number!)

So he presented me with two optional chemo regimens. The first....6 treatments every two weeks. VERY very invasive, horrible drugs, with debilitating side effects. So bad, that I would virtually be homebound and almost bed-ridden for the entire 3 months. No work, no kids' activities. No life as I know it. Wow. What KIND of an option is THAT? He said he hasn't even prescribed this plan to anyone in more than a year due to such adverse side effects; however, I am young and in otherwise perfect health, that I was possibly a candidate. 3 months ....done. This treatment plan reduces that 40% risk....down to 18%.

OR....Option 2. 8 treatments given every 3 weeks. (6 months). Double the time....ugggg. Another evil. Side effects still include hair loss (all three drugs in this "cocktail" list that as a top side the hair will be gone....accepted that. I will be bald long as my "forever" allows me to meet my GREAT grandchildren!), nausea, which they've had good luck in treating with various meds, and most of all fatigue, created by low blood counts. These are manageable. After a few days, you can function normally for a couple of weeks before starting over. Quality of life much better. Risk at the end of THIS plan....20%. Only 2% difference.

I have to work. I have to be there for my kids. If I'm under "house arrest" for 3 months missing everything about my normal life.....depression would be so deep I don't know if I could ever snap out of it. There isn't really another option for me. In fact, the doc quickly appeared to even take the first one off the table. His words..."you have to LIVE while you are ALIVE!"

The percentages were a bit discouraging. I don't like 20%. (nor do I like the 18%) Geesh. I'm gonna be fighting this thing a while. A 6 month treatment plan has to be completed before I can even begin to think about reconstruction. We're looking about a year on this battle.....IF everything goes well.

Not sure what I was expecting. But this didn't feel like a victory for me. I felt a bit defeated. I made it home before retreating to my room for the "breakdown" I encountered that everyone has been fearing. I literally climbed into the bed, with the covers over my head. Had one heck of a cry to Deb, but really didn't wanna talk to a soul. Didn't wanna blog. Was mean to David, was grumpy and short with the kids. I was just broken. I had a long talk with God. To be completely vulnerable in sharing this....I whined to Him a little. I cried out asking "Why?" Not necessarily why I deserve this....because I've made plenty of mistakes in my lifetime....that on that type of scale, maybe I do deserve some FBC karma. But my children....deserve a healthy mom. They deserve so much more than taking care of me....or having noone there for them while I'm busy being a cancer patient. FC!!!!

Friends, I'm blessed. I woke up better this morning. I fell onto my knees in prayer. His comfort overwhelmed me. Satan still has tried to step in a few times here and there today to try and shake my faith. But God followed up every action....with a graceful and glorious REaction. He placed people in my paths at just the right time to pick up those pieces and remind me to fight. Calls, texts, cards, Facebook messages, emails....all of it. Means so much to me! Reminded me to "get up". Last night was a "fall". Today....was climbing back up.

A few details:
May 29th: I meet with Dr. Hagans, surgeon, for another post-op checkup. Hopefully saying bye bye to the drains. Still hating the darn things....but my new friend and nurse for Dr. Sneed fixed me up with a little something a tad more comfortable than tucking them into my panties! So far so good! :)

Dr. Hagans office is to schedule at that time placement of a permanent port for use with chemo. I believe its an outpatient sort of thing....not a big deal. I will set up that appointment when I go in that day.

Also, I am to have an EKG and some additional blood work before my next oncology visit that will most likely be sometime next week.

June 11: I see Dr. Sneed to get the finalized drug regimen and results to all the above tests.

June 15: Chemo begins. Will be every third Friday after that. I am trying to back it up to a weekend to avoid missing as little work as possible.

There ya have it. This is the not so fun part....where the cure is worse than the disease. I'm gonna be bald. I'm gonna be tired. Probably gonna puke a little. May sleep too much. But here we go. Let's kick it!

Lord....I STILL praise you in this storm. That is a promise. I've seen the blessings. And I've seen first hand people who would love to trade for MY diagnosis. My sweet Becca posted a Facebook status yesterday that hit home and would like to share..."If you put all your problems in a pile with everyone else's....its highly likely that you would pull yours back out and keep them rather than trade for theirs." How true. Walk into Arkansas Oncology.....and you will get a big ole dose of that statement. I sure did!

One last funny before I need to sleep....Tonight we actually all went to dinner as a family. A friend had sent me a Chili's gift card (Thanks Jami!!) so we treated ourselves. David is super picky about his burger being "done". Well there was a hint of pink and he was doin a little griping. My sweet Sam....God love him....said, "It's a "Breast Cancer Awareness" Burger....Pink". We all busted out laughing (complete with diet coke out the nose!) Ya might have had to be there.....but it was pretty funny stuff right there! :)

Another thought stolen from my brother.....who SO brightened my day with a chat ......I'm rephrasing a bit....but here goes, "Let your true colors shine through as a rainbow".....Its sad when they are not. :(

Please keep my friends Kim and Emme in your prayers. And as always, please keep praying for the kiddos and I. Blessings for a wonderful day tomorrow.

In Him

Monday, May 21, 2012

Busy busy weekend....:)

As the title of this post says....Busy busy weekend....Just the way I like it!  :)  Even too busy to really even blog!  But you know me....I keep good mental notes and am never at a loss to have anything to write about.  (To my sweet Kendall....don't think I'll need the "30 minute" warning on this one....but reserve the right to change my mind!  hehe)

This weekend was the Benefit Garage Sale that my sweet Becca and "crew" (Karen, Tammy, Kim, Justin, etc. etc. etc.) pulled together on our behalf.  All I can say is wow! So many donations from sweet friends (and strangers) who came together to help us.  As if Becca hasn't already done ENOUGH to help us....she pulled this thing together in true to "Becca" form....and it was a success.  Her original location fell through and she ended up having it at her home.....forcing it to be outside in the heat, and VERY overwhelming.  Counting up...we think we had close to 15 or so families making donations.  God bless she and Justin for opening their home for this.

Since I was off all day last Thursday for appointments, I worked a 9 hour day Friday to catch up.  Had intended to go home and rest....but couldn't relax knowing these ladies were out there working so hard to get ready for the sale.  I went over to help them around 6 I guess....Sambo and I arrived to find Becca, Karen and Tammy (and even sweet Caroline!) workin workin!  Lots of items to be separated, organized, and priced.  We immediately jumped in.  Shift changes throughout the night (as mommas and daddys were also getting in ball games!  :) ) and soon Greg, Bryan, Kyle & Kim arrived with "more stuff" and jumped in to help. Countless others donated (I am awaiting a list from everyone to find out just WHO I can properly thank!)  and we are so overwhelmed and grateful! 

I must admit, I was exhausted.  But I had such fun visiting with these friends, and wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.  We laughed and joked as we rigged up ways to hang clothes, cover items to protect from the dew since we were having to leave things outside, etc etc.  You can tell we all grew up watch Macgyver!  :)  We were very resourceful!  :) 

Arrived the next morning between 6:30 and 7:00.  Becca, Kim and I were there to meet sales quotas in record time!  :)  I really enjoyed the visit we had.  It had been too long.  And my Kimmie is simply hilarious!  That girl just "ain't right" sometimes!  :)  Lots of sweet shoppers who I knew were there simply for the cause....and others who were there for the "bargains".....its was a good day.  We wrapped it up after lunch....and as with all garage sales....MUCH too much left over.  I left home with some "good stuff" that Becca has me an appointment in a few days to take to consigment, and the rest we donated to Civitan. 

My daddy and Karyn came to visit and cooked me a delicious "crappie" dinner, trophies from his latest fishing excursions.  Yum!  Becca joined us....the kiddos, plus Madison, Sam's sweet girlfriend, and Chloe, Syd's buddy.  Of course, the night was full of laughter and smiles.  Was so glad to see my dad and spend the afternoon with him. That did me so much good! By 10:00 that night....Momma was pooped!!  I know I should get 50 lashes for doing way too much.....and I was listening to my body alright.....but ignoring it knowing I could take it easy Sunday.  I'm feeling stronger everyday.....and I'm not one to every sit home.  I'm a go go go kinda girl.  So it felt good to my "soul" to be helping.

Of course, sweet Karen Harris and Carly, brought us a yummy dinner Saturday evening, but we saved it for Sunday.....Another in the long list of fabulous cooks! is SO out of my vocabulary.  I kinda snarl at the scales everytime I walk by them.  No courage to even THINK of stepping on them!  So grateful for so many who continue to help us.  Stephany arrived Sunday afternoon with Sub sandwiches, chips and fixins!  So yummy, especially with the kids getting out of school.  I'm beginning to get a little spoiled!  :)

Sunday morning, wow!  Senior Sunday at church.  43 Seniors recognized at First Baptist.  While I only know a handful was such a touching service....beyond words.  The Lord always speaks to me through Pastor Rick...without fail.  But his message today was so good.  And the music.  Oh wow!  I'm always moved...but today felt the need to stand and raise my arms (and this good little Methodist /Baptist girl doesn't do that often!:)  )  in praise and worship!  Since the surgery....I couldn't raise my arms physically....but boy was I raising them in my heart!!!  I fought back those "emotional/touched by the Good Lord" tears the whole service!  I knew when I watched Pastor Rick baptize is sweet little granddaughter, Lacy, just moments into the service, that I needed my kleenex!  :) 

So many of my close friends have graduating Seniors.  I love them like family....and am experiencing both pride and sadness as they begin this new chapters in their lives and cut the apron strings a little.  Don't know how I'll be able to do this in just 3 short years!  :)  They are continually in my prayers, especially this week as they have so much to celebrate.  God bless them all!!!  :)
This verse was printed on their tribute this morning....and I'm honored to share it....

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. "   Ephesians 5:1

Imitators of God......Life of Love.  Love this verse.

I took the kiddos to lunch and landed home for a much needed nap.  I just died.  Emotionally, I was a bit down today.  Not to disclose too much (I know by reading my blogs you wouldn't believe that I don't tell just EVERYTHING!  :)) but I am just not willing to write about it all.  I've been disappointed by a couple of people close to me lately.  I feel guilty by my disappointment in them, simply by all the kindess and generosity shown by others......but, I've come to realize that those we love sometimes disappoint us.  They sometimes hurt us.  Just as I'm certain I've hurt those I truly have loved.  I know I've been a disappointment, probably more than I even know. 

But matter how I "slice it or dice it".....the feelings are real.  I'm hurt.  I'm a tad angry.  But, I still love them with my whole heart.  And forgive them.  "Imitators of God".....I SO needed to hear that verse!  I'm strivin for that my friends!  I've found more love in this life of mine in the last three weeks than I have in a lifetime!  So grateful for my brave children, my precious precious David, and all my friends who have done so much for us.  I can only pray that they are as blessed by me as I am by them.

I am to see Dr. Sneed, my oncologist tomorrow.  I'm a bit anxious.  I was a little nervous because it appeared that due to work obligations of my usual crew....I would be going alone.  But my God even works on the "small details."  Late tonight, I got a sweet text from my dear friend Sonya asking if she minded if she "joined" me at the doc tomorrow.  She is going to meet me at my appointment and be there with me.  I truly have hand-picked angels from God right here on earth for this journey.  She probably has no idea how much that means to me and what a comfort it is to have her there!

Anyway...tomorrow.  The final pieces to the "Plan".  One thing I learned from Pastor Rick's message this morning to the Seniors.....don't ask the Lord to "bless your agenda".....just give Him your life.  Done.  It's in HIS hands.  I'm praying and searching deep to give Him my faith in its purest form.  We talk God and I.

Prayers for my Kim, my Emme, and all graduating Seniors and their loved ones who are standing beside them on their new journeys.  And a stranger to me....But sweet Emily, a precious child of God and an FBC Senior who's turn of events have kept her from so much of her Senior and Summer activities.  God works miracles!  :)

In Him,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 7 Post-Surgery: Got my PINK gloves.....:)

What. A. Day. Brace yourself for a long one folks. Its gonna take a while to document all of the many things that happened in this day. I literally never stopped from the time my feet hit the floor this morning. Ended the day with tears.....scared tears, happy tears, those kind of tears that come when you are so "incredibly touched" that you can't do anything but cry. This day was JAMMED packed full.....I said over and over...."I just can't WAIT to blog tonight!"...AND it wasn't JUST because I was getting to use my new apple keyboard and case that my sweet David and the kids got me for Mother's Day for use with the Ipad straight from the comfort of my recliner! :)

The world began turning a little before 6 this morning. I woke a little anxious to see the Doc and the answers I was hoping to get today. Got the kiddos up.....and ready for their day. Headed out for Little Rock about 7:30. I was hoping to get there a little early to check out the Women's Resource Center at Baptist. I'd been told it was a comforting place for Breast Cancer Patients.....and had many resources available for girls like me! :) My car can't exit at Shackleford headed toward Kanis.....without veering right at the Krispy Kreme. I have cancer dang it! I wanna donut!!! :) The "auto-pilot" took over and David and I indulged ourselves. Diet? What diet? Can't believe nearly every post for the last 6 months has been my quest for weight-loss....down 41 lbs....and I'm eating this garbage. And loving every bite! :)

D and I arrived early....knew it was going to be a lucky day when we found a parking spot right up front! SCORE! :) If you have ever tried to park at know my victory there. Since I'm not supposed to lift more than 10lbs, D grabbed my suitcase of a purse (which I'm sure weighs double that!), opens my door....and off we go. If I haven't adeuqately described how absolutely precious he is to me throughout all of this....than let me do so now. He caters to my EVERY need, before I can even think about doing it myself. I'm completely rotten now. Everytime I even shift in my chair....he is alert and asking, "What is it baby? What do you need?" Far cry from my home life for the past few years.....I'll just leave it at that. Not quite ready to write a book.

Anyway, we headed to the resource center....2nd floor. Funny how people in elevators size up anyone not in "scrubs" to see what they might be in the building for. I guess I notice because I do it too. Our hearts immediately bleed for those who have lost hair.....or in wheelchairs, obviously week from chemo. D and I just exchange knowing looks.....and I'm sure like he....I immediately send up a prayer for that stranger. I know their fears....and I'm experiencing and about to experience what is controlling their body. I also receive the "knowing" glances from strangers as well. While outwardly....I don't have "CANCER" written across my forehead.....its obvious from my "preteen physique" hehehehe and my lovely drains showing beneath my blouse, and the pillow I carry under my arm for comfort....that I've got a little battle going on.

We got there a few minutes before it opened, so D and I sat in the chairs outside. It was nice to just have a few moments alone with him. I have known a love like this before in my lifetime. I loved John very much.....and as the father of my children, I still love and respect him. But its been a long time since I've known this love again. Mutual love and total respect. I said once.....that I would love to be "adored". Every woman wants that. David adores me. And I have zero doubt about that. He is not just beside me in this fight. He is a step AHEAD of me. I don't know if I will ever be his "wife"...(If ya like it ya gotta put a ring on it......bwahahahahaha.....just couldn't RESIST! Im not used to all this MUSH!) ....but I do know that God has given me a life partner and best friend in David. This man is incredible. He loves me on my worst days.......therefore he deserves me on my best. He instills in my son the art of being a "gentleman" to all women.....including his mother and little sister (ha!).....and invests in my children daily. God bless David.

I know I'm rambling....but I'm reflecting on every moment of this day. It's been awesome. Never want to forget even a minute!!!

The sweet little lady got there to open the Center, and D and I entered. Actually....he found a chair INSIDE the center to plop into and hold my 20 lb purse.....:) and I browsed around. It was a room full of breast stuff.....but it was breast pumps and pillows and ANYTHING on earth you could possibly need or NOT need regarding nursing an infant. Lordy! I finally asked about things available for breast cancer patients. (Lord knows I'm WAY past birthin babies!) She smiled and led me to a room in the back. With wigs, bras, "falsies", books, pamphlets, etc. We took a minute to look at the wigs. Unless I wanna come out looking like Elvira in a black one....or 80 in a gray one....I was kinda outta luck today. She is placing an order and I am to check back. That was ok.....I am hoping to not need it for a bit....or EVER. But wanted to check out the place.

I found this place is funded through grants....via either the American Cancer Society or the Komen Foundation (not quite sure) and all of the resources are free to me. I left with a couple of soft "open front" bras with some "falsies" and several pamphlets and resource materials. All free of charge. God bless those who give and donate so these grants can exist. I left there feeling again overwhelmed at the simple kindess of others. Little did I know that was the beginnings of this day.

We arrived at Dr. Hagans office (another elevator ride to the 5th floor.....same emotions) a few mins before our scheduled 9:00 appt. D still sporting my purse.....and me being a dork with all the nervous energy. Deb was meeting us there.....and we expected her to come rolling in on 2 wheels at any minute! :) Tina (yes....she is my new friend there. I don't look at these ladies as "staff" I look at them as friends. They genuinely care....and it shows! They each greet me with gentle hugs and warm smiles.) calls us back and D heads in with me this time. Without missing a beat. Exam Room 1 is mine today.....and I began to get into the lovely paper gown. I'm a pro now. I know the drill. Deb appears within a minute or 2 just ahead of the Doc. He comes in.....immediately hugs Deb and I, shakes hands with D and we dive right in.

Everything is looking good. Healing nicely. He removed the sterio-strips (sp?) I can now shower! Yay! I get the pleasure of keeping my drains a bit longer. But they are still having quite a bit of output so rushing it can do more harm than good. Deb proceeds to tattle on me.....that I'm a "rock star"......and back to work. He is proud of me. Next time she says it....D says I need to break out into an "air guitar" solo.....But I think I'm more of a drummer! I was FASCINATED by Peter Criss of KISS in the 80's. Might be hard to do though, now, since I can't raise my arms. So air guitar it is. :) Okay....not really. I'm being a dork, but Deb is just one of biggest fans, and is SO exaggerating. I'm just me. Doing what needs to be done. Not half as strong as I wish I was. Nevertheless, I'm extremely blessed to have a cheerleader like her in my corner. Blessed....and honored.

We present Dr. Hagans with one of my "Prayers for Terri" bracelets. He put in on immediately. While I don't necessarily expect him to wear it the next time he scrubs in for surgery.....I do know that as my doctor, and a man of God, he is praying for me. I can assure you....I pray for him too.

I asked him point blank: "Am I considered "cancer free"? His answer....Yes ma'am! I am going to be honest. While those words make feel like break dancing in the lobby.....I have rode the cancer train before with my precious mother. I know you can hear the words. And still be defeated. It CAN rear its ugly head. So my fears haven't really changed upon hearing the words like I thought it would. BUT....its nice to begin a battle from the "Offensive" side and not the "Defensive". Plan is in motion. We discussed "Oncologist" options and decided that I would see Dr. Sneed.

Funny that Dr. Hagans immediately got my DEB on the phone setting up the appointment. And true to "Debbie speed" I have an appointment on Monday. Ball is rolling....I'll know then how much and how often I'm going to be having chemo treatments. He did say that since I'm "young and otherwise healthy" that I would probably be "hit hard" to make sure any possible "lingering" cells are struck and gone. Also, since my cancer is "estrogen negative", I'm not a candidate for oral pills. Its going to be the yucky kind. So let's do it! Monday....I'll have the final pieces to the plan. Dr. Hagans is very optimistic about my prognosis. I've got my "gloves" on to fight.....and My God, my "team" and I are ready for this.

I got dressed....D grabbed the purse (ha!) and we headed out. Deb was chatting away on the phone to get my appointment set up. And I checked out with sweet Brenda at the desk confirming my next appointment here (the 29th at 8:00 am....hopefully to say "bye bye" to the drains).....and also the appointment with Dr. Sneed on Monday. We were able to speak with his precious Barb and also gave she and Tina my prayer bracelet as well. These ladies are such a blessing to me. Whether they know it or not....they have so aided in this journey but their kindness and "real-ness" of this "FBC".

Time out for Glossary lesson: "FBC" Until now, that has stood in my mind for First Baptist Church. My church home and source of "sanctuary" for the kids and I. Don't kill me!.....but I stumbled upon the blog of another breast cancer fighter/survivor while on a "googling" quests. Anytime she refers to "breast cancer" throughout her blog for the past 3+ years....she calls it "FBC". Insert "F-bomb" where appropriate. :) While I'm not quite as crass as she is.....boy do I really agree!!! :))) Forgive me in advance is I refer to FBC from time to time!!

Anyway, Barb took time out of her busy day to catch up with us and give hugs and well wishes. She and Tina walked away dawning my bracelets and D and I ended up following Deb down about 3 or 4 hallways going through a couple of "Employees Only" doors until we reached the office of sweet Tiffany. Tiffany is the source of this ball rolling soooooo very quickly just 3 short weeks ago. Of course, she put on her new bracelet immediately and extended her geniune concern and well wishes too. This "FBC" has brought many many special people into my life that I will never forget....and if my memory serves me correctly....she was the first. God has placed these wonderful ladies into a career where they NEED to be. I'm certain I'm not getting "special treatment"......but the fact that I feel as if I am special....means the good Lord has his hand in everything they do there. Simply grateful.

We exchanged hugs....and headed out! Sambo has had some issues with his iPhone.....and we had an appointment with the Apple Store.....thank goodness it was still under warranty. Since we were to be in LR anyway....we headed that way to take care of that. Got that business handled, ran a couple of errands for D, grabbed a quick bite of lunch and then headed over to St. Vincent's. I was referred to their "New Outlook" center.....for resources as well. Wow. I was immediately greeted by this spunky little lady named Alisa that is definately a new friend, in every sense of the word! I was asked to complete a little bit of paperwork.....and took a seat on the comfy sofa next to a sweet....upcoming new friend as well.....lady named Carol.

The three of us.....and D quietly listening....immediately dove in to where I was in my fight. They were thrilled to me see me ...according to them.....getting around so well after only a week from such a horrible surgery. We each did a little "name dropping" of our doctor team....and they sang the praises of my choices in Doctors. Awesome to hear...although I'd have SURE corrected them had they hadn't sang their praises as well. Still....Its great that I've never heard a bad word about my "FBC Team".....haha. I immediately shared my "love-hate" relationship....mostly hate, of course.....with my drains. Carol began to tell me her story. She had made the choice to have her reconstruction at the same time as her double mastectomy, in order to have "one surgery"...."one recovery".....I recall my hopes for the same thing, and my disappointment to learn I wasn't a cadidate for that. Three surgeries later.....and two MONTHS of wearing drains (4....not two)....sweet Carol is facing another. Her body didn't heal properly. Her chemo was a horrible experience which effected her healing. Wow. That SO could have been my story.

Cancer is teaching me patience. I have a strong "alpha' personality. Always burning the candle at both ends and a "let's get this done already" kind of girl. I'm now learning to slow down and re-invent the wheel a little in how I have to face this "FBC". Carol shared with me how lucky I was to have such a conservative physician who, while it may be a longer process, has the best interest of my health first and foremost! Doesn't really matter to him what I "want" or "prefer".....bottom line....this is out of my hands. I am to be patient. He is fighting for ME. Not my "wants." How refreshing. I've take a tad of criticism (for lack of better words).....maybe more like a little bit of judgement from some.....about how I made the decision to have a double masectomy.....a bit aggressive considering I had clear scans....and even clear nodes (we found out after the fact.) Truth is, I never batted an eye. I made the decision many YEARS ago, after I watch the FFFFFFBC take the most God-serving, loving mother from me....that one sign of cancer.....the "girls" are gone. Take em!!!!

Yes, this was aggressive. But Dr. Hagans also forced me to take a conservative rather slow "aggresive" approach to this fight. And I'd do it again. Carol gave me more "reaffirmation" today that I've made the best choices.....the best choices for me. Please pray for my new friend Carol. She has "healing" battles to her cure that I cannot imagine. Bless her for touching me in a new way today.

Alisa led me....also to a "room in the back"......complete with a salon chair and mirrors.....and wigs wigs everywhere! She put pantyhose on my head (literally!) to mask my real hair....that she would inform me as lovingly and gently as possible....that probably two weeks to the DAY after my first treatment would begin to come out. Those are the facts. But that isn't today. Today...I was wearing pantyhose and trying on wigs. D was a sport.....we laughed and laughed. Can you imagine the wig with "dreadlocks"??? "Jamacian Terri"....:) I left with two. After my sweet Leah does her diva magic on some of the crazy bangs.....I think I'll be presentable. It was a fun whole mood was awesome.

I left there with not one but TWO goody bags full of treats. Little handmade scarves, books, journal, cotton caps, a little pillow, a couple of wigs, etc. She told me of a support group at a church close-by that is made up of several women "like me"....close to my age and fighting the fight I am. I am checking into that one tomorrow. We headed to the front....D carrying a armload of stuff in addition to the "purse".....and Alisa stops at her litte bookshelf. Hands me a book entitled, "God, they say I have Cancer!". She said she could tell that I am experiencing a "Faith Based" fight and that is her personal gift to me. While I was touched by the book that I most certainly intend to read. But her words...."I can tell you are having a "FAITH BASED" fight".....hit me. Is there any OTHER kind of fight??? Last night, I chit chatted with Clay, from the First Baptist FBC......hehe, and he and I talked about how we can't imagine those who go through battles like this without Him. Friends, tell everyone you know about Jesus. His glory is so WORTH it!!!!

Sweet Alisa added another stop to this "getting to be a long day" day. She told me of a special little camisole that I just HAD to have. They have little kangaroo type pockets for these awful drains. I know anyone reading this....has the point! I hate the drains. But trying to hide them is next to impossible. Try using the restroom.....pulling down your pants and trying to keep them from A) dropping to the floor....or worse dropping into the toiliet! and B) they are heavy and any simple movement of them being that they are attached to painful. I try to tuck them into my pants....or hold them close to me. But I am constantly fighting with them. This little cami, has pockets on the inside that hold the drains! They also have a special little bra for more cotton"falsies". She said it may cost about $35 dollars or so....but I HAD to have one of those! The drains are killing me.

She sent me to Snell Prosthetics just down the here we are on another mission to find this cami. We get there expecting a "store" but its more like a Doctor's office. I asked at the window and told them why I was there.....she insisted on dang near a complete medical history, complete with insurance info and said I needed to have a seat. I think we waited no less than 30-45 minutes. I was getting a tad cranky....had been a long day, and I was tired. I needed to get back to Benton to the kiddos, (although two simple texts and they were taken care of. My sweet Tammy and Marcia. They got 'em squared away without missing a beat!). Anyway, twice I re-interated to the folks "behind the glass"....that I just needed the "golden cami". Finally, I was led to a "pink" room. I mean, this roomed looked like it had been hosed down in walls, pink cabinets, pink ceiling. Of made me smile. I was immediately calm again. The Nurse Practioner's name is Beth. A soft-spoken lady with such a gentle nature.

Beth, my "another new friend", knew immediately of my needs. Fitted me with the "golden cami" and gave me some other tips for adding "physical" comfort to me while I'm forced to live with them. The cami SHOULD in fact be golden.....due to the price of it being over $70!! However, she is making sure it is covered under my insurance so I would have to pay only $11. Sold! I'll take two! :) She only had one small in stock, so I'll be picking up my second one next week when I go back to the doc. I know I'll be facing the drains again after the mission of the cami proved successful. FINALLY! :)

Poor David. We now had a car full of wigs, fake boobies, bras, and BOOKS about wigs, boobies, and bras. Not one complaint. Not one ounce of boredom. Nothing. He is my angel. Period.

We stopped by the ATT store to re-activate the new replacement phone for Sam. Done. You would think I was bringing him a new arm or something. He had to use a 3gs for two whole days! Mean mommy I am. He would be thrilled to have a brand new 4s via his warranty. We then headed on back to Benton for a couple more errands. Fred's pharmacy first....for a prescription. Then stopped by USA Drug looking for a particular guaze pad that I need. No luck at Fred's or USA. Only at Walgreens. Funny though, the lady who worked there and we asked for a recent survivor. We briefly exchanged stories. While I didn't catch her name, I prayed for her tonight. And will continue to do so. She was a joy! Seems like God placed survivors everywhere in my path today! Even the drug store!!!

We headed to Walgreens, to pick up my Syd, and finally home. Home brought me more cards with treats from wonderful precious friends. Syd tries to race everyone to the mailbox....hoping to be the one to announce to me, "Mom!! You got more cards today!" We love it. Cards from so many friends are not only uplifting to me...but to all of us. So incredibly overwhelmed at the outpouring of love.....and grateful. I share my faith with such an awesome community of believers!!!

Home less than an hour.....and off to the new complex for the Panther Game! I was a bit tired from the day. Had hoped to be able to rest a bit before but flat ran out of time. But so enjoyed watching my Sam play his first High School Game.....(Dang...he is growing up on me....what is the hurry already????) and visiting with my sweet friends. Pam was my chauffer there...and Deb hauled us home. Pam and I had a long overdue and much needed visit! I just love her! She describes our friendship is being able to act silly like we are 10 years old.....I'm sure there are people who would think we are "under the influence" of "mommy drinks"! But we are just silly friends who laugh laugh laugh everytime we are together! Tonight was no different. God knew what He was doing a few short years ago when he placed us into the "Cubs Family" and gave me Pam and her precious family! Love her!

I also received many smiles, hugs, well wishes, and chit-chats from many many precious friends. I was back in my element....complete with hollerin at my Sam for dropping a pass that was thrown right to him!! Ugggggg!!!! Trust me....he was just as bummed when he got home....but hey. Life happens. We all "drop the ball" sometimes. But just like in football....we can get up and dust ourself off and try try TRY again!

Deb delivered us home and my sweet friend Shannon and Chloe....Syd's other "Mom" and another BFF came bearing gifts. Chloe and Sydney are pretty much unseparable. We used to be neighbors until we had to move from Longhills, but the move didn't shake this friendship. Nor did two different school districts. Even the fact that they are Benton and Bryant!!! I tease that Shannon may fight me to claim Syd as a tax deduction since she is there so much! We love Chloe as our own. Never and ounce of drama with those girls. I can foresee a forever friendship there.

Unbeknownst to me, Shannon had lost her best friend to breast cancer a few years ago. I could tell that she was fighting back the tears as she brought me a little book entitled, "Stepping into the Ring....Fighting for Hope over Despair in the Battle Against Breast Cancer." Along with it are a little tiny pair of pink boxing gloves. She has a matching set hanging on her rearview mirror, alothough a bit faded from the sunshine and years. But a constant reminder of her friend Kim's battle with FBC! Sydney informed me that Chloe's youngest sister Kimberly, is named after Shannon's precious friend. "Kimbo" is a spunky little child and a bundle of energy and joy. I now add another another precious soul I'm fighting this battle for......Becca's Keri, Shannon's Kim, and my sweet mother. I've got quite a team going now......and my pink gloves are ON!!!!! And I will never forget Shannon and her Kim and the fight I have to continue....everytime I look at my gloves. God bless Shannon and her family. They mean so very much to us.

I am ending the day simply exhausted. And even with a few tears. Friends, Im really not that "strong". I have my God. I have my kiddos. I have more friends than I never knew I had. And to be honest....I've seen things in friends that have suprised me in different sorts of ways. This cancer has hurt me physically....but it has opened to my eyes to so much....good AND bad.....but in many ways, it has blessed us. Blessed us as a family. My strength at times comes from the people around me. It comes from things my momma taught me. It comes from meds! Goodness I'd be a basketcase.....Yes, I am on an anti-depressant! And yes, it gives me strength. But mostly, my strength comes from my God. I'm just me....with a powerful beacon of strength from Him. Cancer has taught me that, yes? Let it teach YOU that earthly problem is too big with Him as your source of strength. I'm not "special"......that promise is to all who believe in His grace and accept His glory.

I've learned that you can quickly turn a sympathetic "pity" stare into a geniune smile. All ya gotta do is let your faith shine! :)

Headin to bed....gonna be feeling this full day tomorrow. Before I go, please pray for my dear friend Janet, who lost her father. Also, keep my sweet Emme in your prayers for her surgery next week. And many other of my friends who have stresses and issues heavy on them right now. Prayers of comfort and blessings going up for all of you! Sorry for the long post.....but I never wanna forget the "fullness" of this day.....Blessings!

In Him,

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Today, I feel weird. Not necessarily a "bad" kind of weird. But just weird! Lol I got up and went to the office again, worked most of the day and came home middle of the afternoon to rest. I think I'm having a little bit of anxiety about going to see the Doc tomorrow. I've not gotten very good news in the few times I've been through those doors. So the nerves are beginning to set in a little.

I am hoping for a few things:

1) To lose these flippin drains!! They are not my friends. Ugggggghhhh! Not only are they painful....they are difficult to hide under clothing. One slipped out from under my blouse today and I thought my poor boss was going to faint! Poor guy. :) They really aren't the most attractive accessories. I know my Syd and my sweet David will be glad to be rid of these as well. They have been the ones to aid in the "draining & measuring" process. This is love, I tell ya!

2) Hoping to be released to drive. I hate being grounded and a constant burden to others.

3) Hoping for some definitive answers regarding my game plan. Lumpectomy? Check! Bone Scans? Check...and Clear! CT Scan? Check! Double Masectomy? Check! Lymph Nodes? 4 removed and clear. I'm no genius but I am assuming that means I am "cancer free". But I would REALLY like to hear those words. I would really like to know that anything from here on out is strictly preventative and to rebuild what has been taken.

I am hoping for the best but fearing the worst. Every person on my medical team has advised me that most likely I will have chemo. "Chemo" has been a scary, scary word in my family for many many years. I remember during my mom's battle, we never really feared it would take her life. Or I didn't.....each triumph and each victory came when we heard the words...."No more chemo".

Of course, as a woman, I don't particularly want to go bald. But I am not scared to rock a cute scarf and have u seen the cute hats these days??? I can get me a cute wig and be done with it. My fear? Is the effects. I don't want to be sick. I'm not a good patient. Been told I'm "hard-headed," but I just don't have time to slow down. This is the difficult thing for me. I have to work. I have to chase my kids. I am their #1 fans in all they do!!

I fear the nausea, I fear the hair-loss, I fear the fatigue, I fear the needles. I fear my body being invaded by this "poison" that is designed to help me. Like my mom, I don't fear dying. I don't fear this cancer taking my least now....but I fear the darn chemo. This surgery has already taken me more out of commission than I intended.

When I allow myself to "go there" and do things like google "stage 3".....I end up pretty scared of never seeing my grandchildren. I won't lie....when you see things like "40-50% 5 year survival rate" associated with MY's an eye-opener. 40- 50 %??? Really???? FIVE year survival rate?? FIVE? I want another 50! I keep hanging on to the Doc's words...."I have every reason to think that this is absolutely curable." Absolutely Curable. Within those two words lies a heck of a lot of hope for me. Thinking of things along those lines....makes a few rounds of chemo sorta ok. Let's just get the plan already!! For me, planning is bringing the future into the present so that I can begin to do something about it NOW! Its that "control" thing with me again. Part of my DNA. :)

The day was relatively uneventful....compared to others around here lately. Felt good to work a little and to know I will be drawing a little paycheck next week! :). I like routine. I like normality. I love my job....and am very happy to get back at least part of the time.

Chit chatted with my sweet Kara....what a blessing she is to me!! And she knows it. That...makes me smile!

I grew tired mid afternoon. Still experiencing some pain so I came on home, and like yesterday took a little (ok...a 2 hour!) nap. Nothing better than my blankie, a recliner and a couple of weenie dogs for some good rest!

Sweet Dione brought us a yummy dinner tonight, smiles, and hugs. Such a precious friend. Lord, we've been treated so wonderfully. My family has never eaten so good!! :) Becca and Justin came by for a little visit. I made them eat and take home some! We will never be able to eat it all! Enjoyed our visit and the laughs! My David was quite the jokester and in rare form. Was nice to visit with them....they are the cutest little couple!! :)

The kiddos both went to FBC's Spring Fling tonight. I so hated to miss it. Thought about trying to go for a bit, but have been having some pain this evening and didn't want to press it. They both came in hungry (Thank Goodness!) and full of stories about the evening.

I am reminded what precious blessings they are to me. Both came in with hugs and kisses....asking about my day before diving in to telling me about theirs. Tomorrow is the Spring Football game at the new complex. Sam received his jersey today....#21! He is pumped. Wild horses....breast cancer....drains....not able to drive....NOTHING will keep me from being there tomorrow night! Looking forward to watching him play and seeing the friends who have done so much for us the past few days.

So tomorrow brings with it "dreads and excitement". Kinda funny how things work. I've never felt stronger in my faith. I've never felt more at peace with my God....yet so uncertain about my future. In our "wounds"....we can find Light. I've searched myself deeply since my diagnosis and have chosen to live and focus on so many different things. Cancer can kill, yes....but for me it has killed lots of things that probably NEEDED to die. The Light in my Wounds. :))

Today, at the office, I inadvertently heard a phone conversation between someone in my office and a client. They were chit-chatting a little and he began to tell the voice on the other line about his Co-worker in the office who is a single mother about 40, who was working her hiney off to do the best for her two teenage kids.....and she just found out a couple of weeks ago she has breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy just last Wednesday and was already back at work with a smile. Took me a few seconds to sink in....that he was referring to ME. He said, "She has made me realize how small my problems are....and how big her faith is...". Wow. I had to excuse myself to the restroom to gather myself. I know I wasn't meant to hear the conversation, and I'm still trying to process all that is happening to me. The greatest words he said.....were "how big my faith is" the "light" in my "wounds". Pretty good stuff!

Some days I want to fall on my knees in prayer. Others I want to cuss like a truck driver! And sometimes, those emotions go back and forth in a matter of minutes. Just so many emotions!!!! Like I said, I feel weird! Lol

My appointment tomorrow is at 9 am. My precious David finally worked it out to be off work tomorrow (again! :( ) to drive me to my appointment. Deb is going to meet me there. She is my "medical agent" of sorts there to take in and explain what I may not understand, and ask what I may forget to ask. She is the sister I never had.....

Sidenote: My mother's childhood best friend, Judy, was a nurse. They remained close throughout the years. She always accompanied mom to her doctor appointments and such....such a blessing to our family and like a sister to my mother.

Deb is my "Judy". :). She always pulls her strings, and calms me with her sweet spirit, positive attitude, and cra-zzy sense of humor! Who knew doctor's offices could be such an adventure! :) I know I can trust her with my care, my fears, my faith, my kids, and my life. And you can bet, she will be there with me every step of the way....until I beat this monster....or until it takes me. I love her so very much!!! I am truly honored to have her as my friend.

While I have been rejoicing the fact that no cancer was in my lymph nodes, I am terrified it's still here....somewhere. My sweet mom had those small victories as well....but it never seemed to die. I am praying that the good Lord heal my body. I'm just not done being a mom. I'm just not done fixing everything I might have messed up over the years. I'm not done telling others about Jesus. I'm just not finished yet. In Him, I am finding my Hope. In my wounds....I am seeing His light.

One new perception....
One fresh thought.....
One act of surrender....
One change of heart....
One leap of faith.....

......can change your life forever.

In Him,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Not my "attitude".....

Today was a MUCH better on many levels. I don't think I will need a "woe is me" warning on this post. :) Happy day!! I keep getting all these messages and words of encouragement about what a positive attitude I have.....oh how I wish I could take credit. That's not ME, my friends....that's HIM! :)

I woke about six and decided to try to head to work. I was a tad reluctant at I'm not sleeping well. The doc prescribed me something to calm and help me sleep but I guess I left them in the hospital. Dumb me can't find them. Oh well, not much of a "pill taker" anyway....but it bugs me that I was so stupid!

Nevertheless, I found something to wear that didn't make me look toooooo awfully scary, fixed my hair and put on a tad of makeup. Syd helped me wash my hair last night in the kitchen sink.....I almost felt human again! :)

David drove me to the office by 7 (still forbidden from driving by the doc) and I dove right in! It felt so good to be back. I spent the morning catching up on my desk and doing paperwork. I'll admit, I'm still having some pain. Moreso, around the area where my drains are.

I worked until about 1, about 6 hours today. I listened to all who advised me not to overdo it. I began to get tired and listened to my body and headed home for a big long nap! :).

This evening was like a holiday meal at our house! Leigh fed us like we were royalty! And sweet Emme made us a beautiful pink strawberry cake, with the breast cancer ribbon made out of strawberries. Simply precious!

Emme, and her family are so special to us! One of Syd's BFFs, and a beautiful child of God! Emme has had her own medical struggles recently. She went in for a routine "required" physical prior to basketball/volleyball tryouts and a routine EKG has her on the road to heart surgery next week. Emme has been diagnosed with Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome. Emme is a "sporty girl" and is a very incredible athlete. She has played competively in nearly all sports her whole life. As a mom, I can only imagine the fear that enveloped my dear friend. Still, she has been an incredible friend to us helping us in some capacity nearly everyday. That is Leigh, always helping others.

I'm begging each of my prayer warriors to please keep this precious little girl in your prayers. Also her family, and her medical team next week. I have faith in our Lord to provide complete healing for this precious child. This family has been a source of strength for us over the last couple of years in more ways than I can list. Please pray that I can return some of this strength for them.

Also, please remember my dear friend Kim, from our "ball family". She is facing surgery in the midst of her oldest son's graduation activities. She and her family are precious to us. Please pray for them as well.

I'm still overwhelmed by all the sweet words, thoughts, and kindness that my friends have taken the time out of their busy days to extend to us. I can't possibly wrap my mind around all that is being done for us.....

Thirty-One gifts:
My dear friend, Cindy, from high school, is graciously doing a fundraiser for our benefit. She emailed me this morning asking if she could donate the sale of a "Greyhound" bag to help us with expenses. She had enough interest to create a fundraiser altogether, whereby friends can order via her website for our benefit. Again, what a precious thing to do for us! God bless Cindy for such a loving, self-less gesture. Words can't express how full my heart is.

Becca has my "Prayers for Terri" bracelets on many arms around Benton. Everytime I look down, it reminds me of this fight....and reminds me that I'm not alone and we will win!! My Syd has several friends wearing them and boy does that make me smile! "Team Terri" is growing!!! :)) Becca and "friends" have also organized a garage sale this weekend for us. This woman is like the energizer bunny!! The kids and I will be forever grateful for all she keeps doing for us. I love my Becca for sure!

God keeps surrounding me with such wonderful people every step of this journey. While I hear from many each day....the "regulars" haha.....Deb, Becca, Jay, Ang, Aunt Tootie, etc.... But there are always a few who catch me "off guard" and bring a tear.

Many know, and many may not know, that while in Newport, I was a youth minister for about 7 years. Right out of college, I was asked to teach the Junior High Sunday school class. I graduated this group 6 years later. I had them the whole time. A member of this class was a little redhead (in EVERY sense of the word!) named Kara. Ironically, Kara's dad was MY youth director and SS teacher many years before when I was her age. I loved Mr. James and he was a very important part of my youth! Kara was (and still is!) very very special to me.

She was like a little sister (to say "daughter" makes me feel too old!) to me. Besides being very active in the youth group, she was basically a part of my family! She was my "go to" sitter for the kiddos while their dad and I played golf each week or did anything warranting the need for a sitter!

Kara's dad, James, tragically lost his life in a car accident, I believe it was during her first year at UofA. It was only a few short weeks after I lost my mom. They were buried close to one another. Kara once told me she chose that spot so they wouldn't "get lonely". :) My mother had worked for Mr. James for several years. I have many memories of him....he was a big man, with a huge loud laugh! Always wore a smile....and had you smiling in his presence. I know God gave us each other during that horrible time....for a reason.

As I am writing this, I am being reminded of the many ways God intertwined our families. Kara's mother is a precious lady who was a youth director's "dream parent". Always willing to help in any capacity. She was a teacher at the high school. Kara's brother, Matt, also active in our group was a joy, too. A wonderful family.

Kara and I have almost always remained in touch. Reconnected on FB a few years ago. We have a special kind of friendship and I am so proud of all she has accomplished! A new wife, and "mother-to-be" and ....a youth director! Kara is so much like her daddy! Not much for "mush". Not a "sugar-coater". But she never ceases to trust me. She continues to let me know she loves me. She reminds me of her memories of watching hours of "Barney" with Sam....or holding Sydney until she fell asleep.

Today, her words were...."Glad you are alive! I feel better when I see you on FB! I stalked your kids while you were gone!". :) That is "Kara speak" for "I love you and missed you!". God gave me Kara all those years ago. God gave me Kara again.....and boy am I blessed. Will she ever know how much she means to me??? I love my little Kara.....It is one of the "realest" relationships I've ever had...she loves me. All of me....the good and the "not so good". And I cherish our friendship.

After my nap, I received a call from my BCBS case manager. Since my diagnosis, she is a nurse assigned to my case to aid me any capacity throughout this journey. By the end of our phone call, Delores, was a new friend. She shared with me many resources that are out there that could benefit me. And we talked at length about not only the "medical" aspects of Breast Cancer....but the "emotional" aspects as well. She shared with me the following prayer....and it outlines my feelings completely!!

Lord, I have just received the diagnosis of breast cancer....
Still my anxious heart as I seek to understand why....
Teach me to transform this suffering into growth....
My great fear of tomorrow into your faith of presence....
My tears into understanding....
My discouragement into courage....
My anger into forgiveness....
My bitterness into acceptance....
My experience with cancer into my testimony....
My crises into a platform on which I can learn to help others.
God, please grant that one day I can embrace this time as my friend, and not my enemy.

I have received many words of encouragement and I have heard from several what an "inspiration" I have been. While those are precious, sweet words to me....I realized early on in my diagnosis, that as a Christian, many would be looking to me to see exactly how I handled this "monster." I prayed to my God that I can use this as a testimony someday....and find the good that is promised in every adversity. Some days...I do fall short of His glory. Some days....I fail to honor Him. But when I DO inspire others in some way, please know that it is not ME. It is HIM walking beside me, holding me up and never leaving my side.

My friends, we serve a mighty God. Today, I praise Him for yet another day. I thank Him for his grace, His friendships, His forgiveness, and His love. These things....are the source of all inspiration.

I leave you with the UMYF Benediction:
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.
Numbers 6:24-26

In Him,