It has now been seven years since I started this blog. How quickly time goes by! We are many members but we are one in the body of Christ. Therefore you do not journey alone! Hopefully through this site you will be encouraged by the fact that many things you are going through in your own walk, others are going through (or have gone through) as well. Sometimes we think we are "going through things alone." But we are not. God said that "He would Never Leave Nor Forsake Us." (Hebrews 13:5) and that "There is Nothing New Under The Sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9). No man is an island. It's easy to forget that. May the words in this blog help you to think, encourage you in whatever spiritual state you are in and may the Lord use them to help us to grow in Him! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith!

I don’t want any readers to think that I am “promoting” being a prodigal. I definitely am not. But what I am hoping to do – is to encourage those of us who either have had or are currently experiencing a hard time in our walk to be honest about it. Personal conviction is a powerful thing, especially if you truly love the Lord. I think that sometimes the Body of Christ critiques and judges to the point where the person who is at the other end of that pointing finger feels ostracized, alienated and alone. I don't think that that is what Jesus intended. When I read through my Bible - I see a firm yet gentle restoration that Jesus ministered to those around Him. Look at John 21:15-19. When Peter who was at an all time low point in his walk - he was firmly, yet lovingly restored by Jesus. He didn't tear him down, or yell or make him feel any worse then he already did. He spoke to him lovingly and gently - and in doing so, Peter was able to repent and minister in a much more powerful, humble and confident way and it became one of the largest ministries ever.

Please note that I am only a vessel, my calling - to write. I dedicate this blog to the Lord and ask that He use it to reach out and touch whoever needs a special, loving, personal touch from Him. My hope is that the Holy Spirit allows you to see Him through the words (and not me). We go through things so that we can extend our right hand of fellowship behind us to assist and help someone else. Our Bible is the same today, as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow. (I am far from perfect and do not profess to have all the answers...) but the good news is - Our Heavenly Father does! His love, forgiveness, grace and mercy is real!Nothing you are experiencing in your walk comes as a surprise to Him! May He be glorified through this blog and may God bless you at whatever stage in your walk you are in!~

I am a Breast Cancer Survivor

I am a Breast Cancer Survivor
I was diagnosed with early stage triple negative breast cancer on June 24th, 2010 - I have been cancer free for 7 years now. It was only a chapter in my life - NOT my life, but the impact is one that has changed my life forever. Its important for women to know that 80% of the breast cancer diagnosis come from women who don't have a history of it in their family (My family didn't). Early detection is the key. For more information please click on the pink ribbon above. It could save your life.


October 19, 2011

Martina McBride - I'm Gonna Love You Through It

The Long & Winding Road is Really Not As "Less" Travelled as You Think...

Does Your Life Feel Like a Long and Winding Road?

 Do you ever look in the mirror and not recognize the person that you see?  I don't mean physically... Do you look at yourself and wonder how life has brought you to the point you are currently at? Are you at cross roads in your life? Are you so busy being everything for everyone else that the you have lost touch with who you are to you?

I often wonder if that is something that everyone experiences at one time in their life or other. I know I have experienced that this year.  My birthday is next week, a milestone. My first birthday being a breast cancer survivor.  Last October I was sitting in a chemo chair on my birthday, receiving chemotherapy and thinking, "I am doing this so that I can hopefully have the ability to celebrate MANY more birthdays."  That is what got me through.  And here I am now, a year later - getting ready to celebrate the "many more" and my emotions are a mess.  There is so much noise in my own head I can't even hear myself think. I just want to put my hands over my ears and yell "QUIET!!!"  But then I think the "quiet" would scare me.  Because then I would have to allow the thaw to occur... You know - when you keep yourself so busy by all that life has that you don't have time to "feel."  Its those times of quiet that overwhelm me and I have to look at the discord my life has been in for ohhh so many reasons - I can blame them all on cancer, but that wouldn't be the honest truth... Sometimes I think we need to look back and say, "okaaayyyyy - how did I get on this road I'm on.  When did I really need to change course?  And WHY? 

I think that is especially true for those of us who have been in a prodigal state.  I can see the things that brought me to a certain point.  A shake up occurred.  There are other ways a person medicates themselves that is not drugs or alcohol.  There are many ways a person can numb themselves in the hopes that the pain would pass. 

Are there times in your life when you wondered if God was really there?  If He was listening? If He had turned His back? If He had given up on you? If you had surprised Him?  If He left you like others have?  Is it hard for you to understand a Father's love when the father you had wasn't there for you? Abandoned you? Is it hard for you to believe that He is reaching out His hand to grasp yours and let you know, "It's okay." That people disappoint you all the time - but that He never will?  Do you blame Him for the hurts that have occurred in your life to the point that you will not allow Him to heal you in all ways you need?  Are you reading my words and saying, "OUCH?"

When I read about the prodigal, I am moved by the fact that the scripture says in Luke 15:20 of the prodigal who decided to go back home:

"But while he was still along way off his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, he ran to his son and threw his arms around him and kissed him."  

The part that got me was that WHILE HE WAS A LONG WAY OFF.  "While I was a long way off...." "While YOU are a long way off..." Your Father is running to YOU.  He is running to you with His arms open wide.  He wants to give you a big bear hug.  He wants to gather you into His arms.  He wants to kiss you and show you how GLAD He is that you are making your way back to Him.  It doesn't matter WHAT you've done, or where you've gone.  He knows already.  And still He loves you.

Some of our roads "back home" are curvier than others.  Some are a longer distance back home.  But what matters is the fact that you recognize the need.  I'm asking God to show me how. To help me figure it out. We may not have all the answers - but HE does.

Our God is a God who would leave the other sheep to go find the one sheep that was lost.  That wandered off.  Luke 15:4 tells us:

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and one of them loses his way, does he not leave the other ninety-nine and goes after the lost sheep until he finds it?"

That goes right up there in my book with the prodigal's father running out to meet him.  That is the kind of Father we have.  Its up to us to "hug Him back." With all that love, how could we not?  Just open up your arms, receive and in return give back.  I think that is what He wants us to do, don't you?

October 9, 2011

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Your Money or Your Life? A Serious Sign of the Times...

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
There is much more we need to be aware of - and not only aware but to be active and to take a stand against drug companies that are withholding chemotherapy to make more money. That is a picture of me - don't let it be a picture of YOU. Help take a stand.
I heard some very disturbing news this week.  News that makes you shake your head in disbelief and I have to share it with those of you who read my blog because it is just plain WRONG.

I want to start this out by saying - no one ever expects bad things to happen to them. No one.  No one "expects" to get cancer.  I remember being in such shock.  I had just finished having a moving sale.  I came into the house to clean up and take a shower - and there, right where you would place your hand to say the "Pledge of Allegiance" was a lump.  It was about the size of a quarter.  I remember looking down at it thinking, "What is THAT?"  Honestly, I didn't think much of it at the time.  Not once did it occur to me that it would be cancer. It didn't even cross my mind.  It wouldn't have, because there had been no history of it in my family.  I honestly didn't know anything about breast cancer, other than the pink ribbons I would see time to time on the back of someone's car or hanging in the store near the register to buy.  I didn't know a thing about it...

However, I DO come from a medical family and I knew that whatever it was, I needed to get it checked out. I called my mother and she encouraged me to make an appointment with my primary care physician, which I did the next day.

I had had my annual GYN exam a month ago, my pap smear and everything that a woman should have yearly to take care of themselves.  Now the one thing I hadn't had was a mammogram.  I had been told, now that I was in my forties that I needed to go have one done and I had been given the name of a place that did them and somewhere in the back of my head on my invisible "To-Do list" was listed - "have a mammogram."  So I was very surprised when my doctor felt under my left arm pit and looked at me concerned and said, "I want you to go have an ultrasound and I want you to have it now."

I walked across the hall, for the first time scared to get an ultrasound.  The rest of that day seems like a bad dream. What I had thought was nothing but PMS turned out to be a malignant tumor. Disbelief, shock, fear, worry - a million things go through your mind.  You feel like you are dreaming and you just want to wake up.  I can remember thinking, "This can't be happening to me?!"  There I was, by myself too shocked to even cry.

The worst part was having to wait until the results came back.  They had to do a biopsy.  I had to wait three days to get the results.  Talk about a living hell.  The waiting was awful... I don't even remember how I got through those days... My life felt surreal.  I remember going to work, getting off of work and then taking myself out to a restaurant and having a Pearl Harbor.  Being a Christian, one who hadn't had a drink since she was 21 - it felt real strange having a drink I hadn't had since my college days.  I remember turning to the waitress and shocking her by saying, "I haven't had a drink since college - but I am sitting here waiting on the results of a biopsy that will tell me whether or not I have breast cancer.  Don't you think I deserve this?"  I truly believe I shocked her.  In fact I know it.  I mean, what do you say to someone who tells you something? Honestly, if I had been her - I would have looked at me with compassion and said, "that drink is on the house..."

It turned out I had caught it early, but I had a very aggressive form of breast cancer - called Triple Negative. Now, I am in no where near an expect on this - but Triple Negative breast cancer can only be treated with chemotherapy and radiation.  When it comes to talking about it I am only a "little billy goat gruff" compared to my pink sisters, who have braved so much more than I. Wait - you haven't heard the story?  The one about the Three Billy Goat Gruffs?  I will post that instead of a song - so you will understand what I mean... It also turned out that I had what I refer to as "one bad node." Which meant I would have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation.  My world was turned upside down - if you read my other posts, you'll be able to see just how much...  I went from knowing nothing about breast cancer to having a crash course - one that I would have to complete quickly in order to understand what was going to happen next.

The strangest thing happens when you become a breast cancer patient.  All of a sudden when you see an oncologist - the choices are up to YOU.  They say things to you like, "What would you like to have? A lumpectomy or a mastectomy" as if you were in a store and you were picking out an item.  Honestly, I think that floored me more than any words can say.... Here I was coming to see them and they were giving ME choices.  I felt like - what do I know? How can I possibly make a decision like that when I know NOTHING except what I've just learned right now??? I didn't know there were several types of breast cancer.  I didn't know anything about it all... Something about the "C" word and all you hear is - "Blah blah blah - cancer. Blah blah blah  Chemotherapy..." I think one of the smartest things I did was have my mother go with me.  You see, I had to relocate back to my childhood home in Massachusetts from Upstate New York.  My mother being a medical professional knew (as did I) that the best place for me to go for treatment, was in Boston where I was from.  Some of the most world-wide reknown hospitals in Boston. I've worked at a few myself. I knew... In fact there had been at time years ago when I had actually worked at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute - how ironic it would be that I was going back as patient. I was to go through several rounds of what is referred to as "The Red Devil" - chemotherapy which consists of Adriaymycin and Cytoxan.  I would write more about it - but just the thought of that chemo makes me nauseous and sick to my stomach. So I hope you don't mind if I continue on from there... The color is red.  The smell - never leaves you. It is in my head forever. It feels like a bleach coursing through your veins.  It is all you can do to remember that this poison is to kill out any lingering cancer cells that may have gone from your nodes into your body.  I had to keep reminding myself of that through every treatment of it.  And as Forrest Gump would say, "That is all I've got to say about that..."

The next course of action for me - was a second chemotherapy called Tamoxifen.  It was a "walk in the park" compared to the Adriamycin/Cytoxan mix I had.  It made some of my fingernails and toenails fall off.  But compared to losing my life - that was a minor thing.

I cannot tell you how humbling it is - to lose your long curly hair, to lose hair all over your body - from your eyelashes, eyebrows to your nose hair, to the hair all over.  (Did you know that nose hair keeps your nose from running?) I probably learned more than I ever wanted to know about my body.  But you go through a plan of action with your Oncologist, and you do what you have to do - why? Because you have NO choice. I hear people telling me "how strong" I am all the time... But honestly, its not a matter of "strength" its a matter of doing what you have to do to get through it.  God gave me enough strength each day to get through the most difficult time in my life.  Even as my marriage was crumbling, even as I didn't have any answers or anyone around me except my kids, my mom and my brother and my bff from long distance.  It was at this time that I met through Facebook - the most amazing group of women I will ever have the honor of meeting.  I call them my "Pink sisters." Other women who were going through what I was going through.  They could understand.  They could share their experiences with me, answer questions.  Although we were not face-to-face we became a close knit group of women.  All of us trying to make sense of this horrible disease.

Although I started this blog out with my own experience - its not the reason I've written this blog tonight. I heard some unbelievable news from a dear sweet sister - one of my Pink sisters, who's mother is in need of a chemotherapy called, "Doxil."  This is what my sweet sister Kim, championing for her mother - wrote:

Dear Johnson & Johnson: I have arbitrarily decided that my Mother's life is worth exactly $1 Billion Dollars to me. She is on the "list" for your product Doxil, her only hope to continue living, and it is has been unavailable due to your "shortage" for three months. Your people within your great Personhood tell us that a small amount of Doxil will be released to the people on Schindler's List in 5 weeks. That is the story we have heard repeated for 12 weeks. Please, bump my Mother up on the list and get her her billion-dollar-life-saving chemo ♥

It is unimaginable to me - that a company would withhold a life-saving drug from a cancer patient - or anyone facing a life threatening illness regardless of the disease.  Yet from what I am hearing, that is exactly what is being done.  It is morally wrong. When we put money above people's lives - helping another human being. Providing what could possibly be the only medicine that could save a person's life - that's what I consider blood money.  The thing that is so head-shaking to me is that cancer is random.  No one is exempt from the possibility of getting it.  No matter how "healthy" you eat.  No matter what your weight.  The rich get it, the middle class, the poor.  It doesn't matter your race, your religion - any thing.  All of us have been affected by this horrible disease in one way or another.  If we don't take a stand for getting chemotherapy and any life saving medicines out to those who need it? WHO WILL?

So I ask you for you to pray for Kim's mom.  I don't know her name specifically - but that is okay, because God knows who she is... I cannot tell you how devastating getting cancer is - and not allowing yourself to get stressed out while going through ANY treatment.  But being told that they can't GET that treatment for you? Its just wrong....And it is up to US to do something about it.  It could be your daughter, your son, your husband, your mom - YOU.  I pray that God convicts those who are in the business of making chemotherapy and holding it back because THEY want more money.  Health Insurance cost so much as it is. Have we really become such a nation of greed? At the cost of people's lives?  God have mercy...