Ramblings of a Middle Age Woman – Purple Day

May 13, 2016. Friday the 13th. It’s going to be one of my favorite days.

Yes you heard me right. Why? Because it’s my purple day.

No, purple day is not remembering Prince (even though we did talk about doing that at work). Purple day is what I call the Relay for Life Event that I participate in every year. I’ll wear my purple shirt to work and then will go walk in the survivor lap.

What is Relay for Life? I’m so glad you asked!! (I know you did I heard you.)

relay for life

Relay for Life is an event that is held in communities in over 20 countries. While there are wonderful organizations that help with specific cancers (like Susan G. Komen for Breast Cancer), The American Cancer Society helps all cancers and Relay for Life is one of their big fundraising events.

What’s so awesome about Relay for Life is that it honors those who have lost their fight with cancer and celebrates those that are survivors and supports those who are still fighting. If you’ve never been to an event, take time to go. It doesn’t matter if you do not know someone fighting cancer or have not lost a loved once to cancer. After the opening ceremony, survivors are called out individually to receive a medal and line up for the survivor walk. This part of the event is always emotional because when you see the ones receiving their medals you get the picture that cancer does not care how old you are, what race you are, what gender you are, what size you are. Cancer does not discriminate.

If you think that cancer would not dare to strike one of your kids, let me introduce you to the five year old whose dad carries him to the stage to get his medal. This is his second year. Or if you say you have no history of cancer in your family so you don’t have to worry, let me introduce you to the mother who is a five year survivor and her daughter who is currently going through cancer treatments. They had no history of cancer in their families either. Maybe you think because you are a young woman in the prime of her life thinking of having another child that you don’t have to worry about cancer. Let me introduce you to the woman who was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer who has two young children. Because of the gene she carries, she also had to have a hysterectomy so she will not be having any more kids. For every excuse you have of why you think you don’t have to worry about cancer, I can introduce you to someone who use to think the same as you.

Honestly, if you sit there and say that you don’t know of anyone in your family or your circle of friends that have fought cancer or who had family members that fought or died from cancer, then you my friend are in the minority. My mother is a 20+ year survivor, my grandmother passed away from pancreatic cancer, I had chemo treatments with the woman that lived across the street from me who later lost her life to breast cancer, my first doo rags were given to me by a woman at church who had been diagnosed the year before me, the friends who shaved my head after my hair starting falling out all had family members that had fought cancer or passed away from cancer, co workers I work with now have had family members or loved ones that have fought cancer or lost their fight with cancer. I could go on. The American Cancer Society says that in 2016, there will be an estimated 1,685,210 new cancer cases diagnosed and 595,690 cancer deaths in the US.

That’s way too many. One is too many.

So if you hear of a Relay for Life event, fundraiser, or walk then think about taking part. Every little bit helps.

And if you see someone wearing a Relay for Life survivor shirt, give them a hug and a pat on the back. They deserve it.

releasing of the doves

God Bless

 

Ramblings of a Middle Age Woman – Mothers

 

Today you’ll be seeing posts on social media wishing a Happy Mothers Day to all the Mothers out there. Or posts about how terrific one’s mother is. I’m no different.

My mother is my best friend. I know there are probably a lot of daughters/sons out there that say that year after year but I for one actually mean it. I have no doubt of my mother’s love for me. There’s been too many times in my life that I’ve screwed up and no matter what she’s always been there. She may not have liked what I’ve done or agreed with my reasoning but she’s always stuck by me.

My mother does not look or act her age and looking at her you would never know that she is a 20+ breast cancer survivor. She never let cancer or anything stop her from living life to the fullest. How many other mothers in their 70’s run around in pink leather and ride a Harley?

couple on motorcycle

But the realization that she won’t be around forever has really hit home this past year as I’ve had several friends lose their mothers. My heart goes out to them this Mother’s Day and I can’t imagine what they are going through.

I know that too often I’ve taken for granted that my mother is a survivor and have not expressed my love for her as often as I should. I take for granted that when I wake up in the morning and call her she will be there when in reality none of us are promised a tomorrow.

One of the commandments is to honor our parents and I want to honor my mother today. She raised me. She is the reason why I kept going through my fight with cancer and she is the reason why I am here today. We aren’t perfect and we don’t always see eye to eye but there’s no question that I love her and she loves me. I just need to tell her and show her more.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to tell your Mom you love her. Let her know today!

mother

 

God Bless!

 

Thursday (4/21/16) Ramblings of a Single Middle Age Woman

Don’t ya love the title?

I do.

If I sit down and think about what I’m going to write, I end up spending more time stressing over the title. Then by the time I settle on one, I don’t want to write the post. This was catchy and one I can use over and over and over again.

Middle aged. ugh! Well I did start out with old and changed it. People say you are only as old as what you feel. If that were true I’d be retired and living at the beach.

The intention tonight was to write something to link back to Suzanne Eller’s blog for her #livefreeThursday and the subject How Big is Your God. I’m not for sure that I can answer that question.

It’s not that I question how big is my God – my God is big enough to handle anything. He’s proven it time and time again. I question myself and why I forget how big He is. When trouble strikes or things seem bleak, instead of being confident that my God can handle it, I panic. Look to people and/or things to try to make things better. Then when I do FINALLY turn to God, if He doesn’t answer in a timely manner or like how I think He should, I still run to people and/or things. It may not be until later, after it’s all over, that I look back and go yeah – that’s my God.

There was one time in my life that I actually didn’t panic – at first. When I sat in the surgeon’s office and listen to him tell me he was 99% sure it was cancer but it was fixable. He kept waiting for me to fall apart, be worried, ask a million questions. But I didn’t. I sat there and said yes I know. It’s going to be ok. I watched God’s healing hand on my mom when she fought breast cancer and I knew He could do the same for me. It was later when I let life (divorce, problems with kids, financial difficulties) get to me and I acted in a way I shouldn’t have. I turned to things of the world to make me feel better and loved during my fight with cancer instead of totally relying on God.

Then when my biggest fear of being alone crashed down on me, when I had no where else to turn, when months of being a virtual reality junkie and computer gamer nerd ran it’s course, I sat back and took a long hard look at things that had happened and where I was. One thing was clear – God was there. He had never left. I’m the one who had moved away from Him.

But you know what? He took me back. My God is big enough for anything. And He’s big enough to forgive me for messing up and love me anyway. That’s how big my God is.

How Big Is Your God

JOKES ABOUT BREAST CANCER

About this time every year the crude comments about breast cancer start. There’s one post going around that I know of that is declaring some day in October as “Go Without a Bra” day in support of breast cancer. Sometimes even “Save the Ta Ta’s” can rub me the wrong way. Because it shouldn’t be about saving the “ta ta’s”, it should be about saving a life. You don’t see shirts or bumper stickers or posts about “Saving the Colon” or “Save the Liver”, or “Save the Prostrate”. Some people want to treat Breast Cancer Awareness month like juvenile kids and that can really get on my nerves.

Part of it is because I had to have a double mastectomy to save my life. I didn’t choose to have. I had to have. Not only was one breast full of pre cancerous material so that it was only a matter of time before I fought breast cancer again, but I am Brca2 positive so was at an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast. Even with the double mastectomy, I still have a small chance of having recurring breast cancer because they cannot remove 100% of the tissue. Not only that, but of course there is the chance of having the cancer metastasize elsewhere in the body.

I did choose to have reconstruction after my double, but you know, doctors aren’t gods, even though some try to be. When there are issues with your muscles that no one could foresee then you have problems. And those problems require more surgery which with being single with a single income and high insurance deductibles, I’m just now finishing paying off for the two years of surgeries I had to have in the first place. Because of my problems with the reconstruction, I am very self conscious about my appearance.

The other reason why I have problems with breast cancer jokes is because I lost a friend of mine to breast cancer the year after I was diagnosed. In October of all months. She had fought it a year longer than me and she was a year younger than me. When people come up with these jokes, I don’t think they realize how cruel they can be to someone that has had breast cancer or to someone who has lost a loved one to breast cancer.

Honestly, no cancer is a laughing matter and shouldn’t be treated as one. The more you joke about a cancer, the more people stop taking it seriously. So get serious about Breast Cancer Awareness this month. You just might help save a life – and it might be yours.

#fightbackagainstbreastcancer

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

My goal for this October is to post several stories about my fight with breast cancer. I dedicate all of these posts to those that have lost their fight to BC, those who are still fighting, and the ones who are now cancer free. We are survivors!

In the summer of 2008, just a couple months after I had started my chemo and had lost my hair, this comment was made to me: “Well, if you had to get cancer at least you got one that was curable.” That comment has stayed with me and caused me to be angry for seven years. This October I’m letting go of that anger but I want to educate people on the reality of breast cancer. It is NOT curable. Cancer free is what we are, but like other cancers, you live with the knowledge that there is possibly a cancer cell somewhere in your body laying dormant waiting for the opportunity to wake up and grow. The difference between you and someone who hasn’t had cancer? You know the hell on earth you went through to become and remain cancer free. So every year you celebrate the fact that God brought you through and you morn those who have lost their lives to cancer.

We do not ever need to become complacent about breast cancer or any type of cancer until it really is wiped out. Lung cancer and breast cancer are the two top killers of women and this needs to stop! So this October support pink and breast cancer awareness. Go get your mammograms done and encourage your loved ones to do the same. Let’s band together and fight back against breast cancer!

#supportpink #breastcancer #wipeoutbreastcancer #survivor

God Bumps

Have you ever experienced a God bump? You know, those goose bumps you get because something happened, but you know that God was the one who caused it to happen? I have. Several times. This post is about the one that meant my life.

I was in my second marriage and had my two sons when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had a lumpectomy, radiation and chemo. Did the whole pink ribbon thing for awhile but after years went by and she stayed cancer free, the whole thing kinda went into one of those drawers you tuck away to never look at again. Even knowing that she was not the first in our family to have breast cancer, that we even had female relatives that had passed away from the disease, did not push me to continue to go to the doctor yearly and have yearly exams. Did not do the whole self check exam. In the back of my mind I wanted to believe that it would skip a generation. Even though I wouldn’t wish it on any of my kids or grandchildren or their kids – you get the picture. It was just one of those things that you think ok it’s not going to happen to me.

When I started going through my third divorce, I’ll admit I wasn’t quite with it. Other things were going on that I’ll explain in another post. That speaks more toward following God and not rushing and jumping into situations you shouldn’t. Which I was VERY bad about doing. Some days it took all I had to get up and go to work. My kids were about grown – one was a senior in high school but having issues which I won’t get into here. The other one was back living with me trying to figure out what he wanted to do in life. I’ve apologized to them for that time in my life because I sure wasn’t there for them then. It was during this time in my life that one morning I got up, went to get ready for work, and could not find the bra that I usually wore. Not a big deal I know, but I knew that it was there in my bedroom or bathroom, just no where to be seen that day. I’m not one that has a million bra’s laying around, a different color for every outfit. Usually had just the one and somewhere there was one that was a back up. So I dug around and found my back up which had not been worn in like forever! During the day, the underwire snapped. If you’ve ever had one snap you know that the poking does not feel good! You tape the end, you try putting it back in, you try to do whatever you can short of going without the bra until you can get home. When I got home, and took the bra off, there right where it had poked me I could feel a lump. I of course panicked, the family history of cancer coming out of the drawer I had tucked it away in. Of course, I had not been to a doctor in several years, not done a self check in I don’t know how long. Too late to call the doctor’s office I had to wait until the next morning. Luckily, the doctor was very understanding and was able to work me in immediately that morning.

When the doctor examine me, he did the examination and looked at me like where is it. So I put his hand on the lump and he’s like yep there’s a lump there. He looked closer and wanted to know what that indention right in the middle of the lump was. That was where the underwire had poked me the day before.

Later in the month when I met with the surgeon who was to become my surgeon for the rest of my life or his, he knew I was beating myself up for not doing self exams. He explained that even though the lump seemed big like it had been there for awhile, he believed it may have actually only been there for several months. He didn’t believe that I would have felt it five months before if I had done a self exam. But, if the underwire had not snapped that day, I cannot tell you when I would have found it. Considering at the time they removed the lump that it had grown from the first biopsy, that my breast was filled with cancer like material so they could not get the margins clear, that the main lymph node had cancer cells, and that I’m BRCA II positive, had I not found it when I did, there is a very real possibility that I would not be here today to write this post.

A God bump. Something that happened at exactly the right time to stop something even worse from happening. Something that can’t be explained especially since that night when I got home, my bra was laying right on top of my dresser. Right in plain sight.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve had several friends pass away from cancer. One from breast cancer a year and a half after I was diagnosed. The other from lung cancer several years later. Believe me I have asked myself several times a thousand why me and not them? Why was my life saved and not theirs? I still don’t have the answer. But I know it was a God bump that saved my life. I will thank God for that every day especially every day I celebrate a birthday and remember those that did lose the battle every day and thank God that I got to know them.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven –             Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV