Sunday, March 19, 2017

I cry.

I am writing this blog for all the sweet friends & family I have lost to cancer, any kind of cancer. People talk about how cancer is the small "c," & Christ is the big "C." Ultimately, I believe that will always be true. The reality remains, however, that cancer is a powerful beast! It's a monster, a predator, a thief in the night that preys upon unsuspecting souls. I know I am using strong words, but frankly, I don't have strong enough words to describe cancer.

It disrupted my life unsuspectingly 6 years ago this coming summer. I think perhaps I was at one of the happiest & healthiest times of my life. I was riding my bike 10 miles a day. We had just taken a cruise to see my son in law play his trumpet on the big ship. My middle daughter was planning her wedding. Life was good.

Suddenly, one Sunday night, a lump was discovered which would alter everything about my life. Thing is, I had no idea the changes it would bring. Yes, I am still alive! Yes, I am grateful more than I have words to express. BUT, in the last (almost) six years, I have watched too many kind souls die from cancer. I have been robbed of much myself, but at the same time, I have been blessed abundantly with more than I could ever imagine. I can only thank God for that!

So... here's to my dad (tho' it's been 22 years, such a deep loss even now), my mom (had cancer among other health issues), Chauncey, Elizabeth, Brenda, Cybil Sue, Linda, & so many others. You see, the outlook of cancer is bleak. Yes, great strides are being made, but at the same time, people are still dying from cancer. If the DNA of cancer can be tracked, why are people still dying?

I do not have a medical brain.  Maybe you have the answer to my question. My only HOPE is in the big "C" (Christ) & in research. If I understand correctly, the new budget proposal cuts funding for cancer research dramatically. The National Institutes of Health budget will be reduced by $6 billion. I cry for our country & the people who stand to be hurt by this budget (not just today's cancer survivors, but future cancer survivors too).

NO ONE is IMMUNE to CANCER!  I have mentioned those who have passed, but I cannot ignore the young women who fight for their lives. Also, those who are BrCa positive & fear not only for their own lives but the lives of their precious offspring. There is my beloved & brilliant friend who just had a double mastectomy & a hysterectomy. She's only in her 30's! There's my vibrant friend whose metastatic cancer has returned with a vengeance!

Here's what goes on inside a cancer support group I attend, a group which usually has about 15 members present but the # & the faces vary from month to month: fear of lumps, fear of surgeries, marriage issues, fear of children losing their mama, children losing their mama, lack of symmetry, death, recurrence of cancer, return of metastatic cancer, lymphedema, chemo brain, loss of femininity, low self esteem, loss of hair, fear of the unknown, PET scans regularly, tears, laughter, faith, heartache, support...

It is my belief that if you find a way to support cancer, you are helping all cancers. Research is research. A breakthrough for one cancer can lead to a breakthrough for all cancers. I realize I am almost 6 years out. Yay me! Yay me for every day I have lived in the moment not being robbed of my joy! However, my odds do not improve, my life will never go back to 10 mile bike rides, & chemo has done a number on my brain & my neuromuscular disease. Please realize cancer does not define me, but it has stripped me of more than I am able to explain in this blog. Daily, I cannot escape its ruins.

So... I beg of you, please in the name of Chauncey, Elizabeth, Brenda, Cybil Sue, Linda & so many others, give to TEAM SWEET POTATAS! In the name of those who suffer now (Shelly, Jaq, young women having prophylactic surgeries, Diane, Bilinda, Ann & many more.) In the name of those who will be diagnosed tomorrow; they just don't know it. In the name of the budget proposal, please give & give generously. TEAM SWEET POTATAS needs your help but more importantly, people with names & lives need your help!

Thursday, March 16, 2017


When I decided a few weeks ago to pick up this blog, & give it a go, I didn't waste much time thinking about it. I love writing, but lately, I just haven't had the words. I was thinking about my team, Team Sweet Potatas, & trying to figure out how in the world I will reach my goal of $10,000. The only thing I can think to do is write about the the Breast Cancer Survivor. You see, I know her. You may know me, but I don't know if you know the fabric of which I am made.

My fabric no longer has the beauty of youth, & it wouldn't even if I never had cancer. I am one of the lucky ones. (If you believe in luck. I don't). But, for the most part, my scars are hidden. Yes, they are real but few people ever see them.  My clothes cover them, & so people who don't know me probably would not know I am a Survivor unless I choose to tell them.

I have 2 eye brows which are not my originals. They look nothing like my originals, & I am okay with that. They are tattoos. I have implants, & they are what I call imposters. They are pretenders, not my originals. As the tee shirt says, "My real ones tried to kill me." These fakes don't feel like me either, but truth is, I am okay with that too. My worth has never come from them, & that is probably a good thing since what I have in their place is really no comparison.

I had radiation, & now my radiated skin is deteriorating. This radiated skin causes a multitude of problems, but few people understand what that means. My Radiologist explained all of this to me before radiation, but it had little meaning at the time. How do you understand something when you have no mental picture, no reference point? The information you are receiving is incomprehensible.

Well... there's a few other problems too, but I will get to them a little at a time. If this bores you, I understand  & beg you to disregard this blog. There's so much to share, but then, what is TMI? Sometimes it's hard to know, & then I must ask, will this further my cause? I hope so. Knowledge is power, right? So... I figure the more I share, the more the reader will understand the need for a cure. Hopefully, people will give generously. Feel free to give to any team. It all helps the same cause. We need a cure.

As I share with you, I am inviting you to become acquainted with the fabric that makes me. It's not the same fabric that once knit me together. It has a few patches, some rips & tears, holes, is shredded in places, & perhaps has some new pretty patterns. Sometimes I don't recognize my own fabric. It's unique, & it won't match that of any other Survivor. However, there are common threads that we all share. Some of my problems are universal Breast Cancer problems. Some of them are a bit rare, & some of them might belong only to me. Welcome to my world. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, or disregard this blog altogether. It may not be your cup of tea.

Monday, March 6, 2017

May 13th

It's that time of year where I find out who my friends really are. If you don't disown me on or before May 13 (this year's Race for The Cure), either you have a high tolerance for redundancy, or you really are my friend. I don't repeatedly share facts about Breast Cancer because it's my passion, although it is. I don't beg for money because I enjoy bugging people. I don't. I ask you to give from the heart simply to save lives. As almost everyone knows, my life changed 5 years ago. I went to bed one Sunday night knowing I had a new found lump. Two days later, I sat in the office with a doctor hearing those words I never wanted to hear.

Breast Cancer has always been one of my greatest fears. I've always had anxiety. When you take a person with anxiety & tell her that her worst fear has come true, you have a basket case. Prior to that moment, I lived my life pretending everything would be okay. When a worry came my way, I would ask my husband if he thought everything would be okay. He would humor me by saying "yes," & I would pretend he had a crystal ball. This worked well until that moment, that life changing moment.

I couldn't pretend anymore. Neither of us knew if my life would be okay, & we knew we didn't know. I was too horrified to ask my husband his thoughts. By the end of the week, I had a scary diagnosis & a treatment plan. I'm sure I had PTSD too. I couldn't sleep, but when I did, I awoke with a heavy heart. I could not escape that awful feeling of fear. I was suddenly hearing words that sounded like a foreign language. I needed an interpreter. I didn't know that my life would never be the same. I didn't know that I would live the rest of my life in a brain fog.

I had no idea that the chemo I was given would cause a neuromuscular disease I already had to progress. Losing my hair was humbling, but losing my ability to process information has been much worse. My hair grew back; my brain still has trouble thinking clearly. My memory is like "50 First Dates." If you tell me something in confidence, don't worry about me sharing it. I won't remember it. I had no idea the toll this rotten disease & its treatments would take on me & my family. They would suffer too, just in a different way.

So here I am. I have just survived another cancer scare. All is well. Some of my relationships are strained because I am changed. I wish I could understand things more easily. I feel as though my social graces are at times no longer second nature. Having memory loss is both a blessing & a curse. I forget important details. However, I don't dread things like I used to because I don't remember my upcoming events. I only tell you all of this so you will understand why I am again beginning my yearly mission.

Please donate to TEAM SWEET POTATAS.  You can search for my team on the Susan G. Komen website. Click on The Race for The Cure & then choose Peoria, IL. She (Susan G. Komen) saved my life. Please give whatever you can. Who knows who will be diagnosed next? No one is immune. Not even those with crystal balls. The farther a Survivor gets from her diagnosis, the harder it is to raise money. Please help me if you can. The sooner TEAM SWEET POTATAS reaches her goal of $10,000, the sooner I'll stop begging.