Monday, November 5, 2012

Don't apologize for your memories being fresh

Sorry It has been a while since I have written and partly because my life has become so busy.  


Lately, I have been giving myself a hard time about after 9 yrs of surviving cancer, I still get emotional talking about what my children and I went through as a result of an unforeseen cancer diagnosis.  I feel like "OMG...get over it already, who wants to keep hearing and seeing you cry over something that happened almost a decade ago"? Earlier this week, I was privileged to be on the Steve Harvey show and talk about my experience as a colon cancer survivor along with Kelly who is an amazing stage IV colon cancer survivor.   We were given a series of questions that we would be asked and the answers were provided to each question based upon our individual story.  The show’s producer went over the questions with Kelly and I and we did well but, I knew the one question about how it affected my life would most certainly make me emotional so I asked to skip it and we did.  The show started, we were on stage, the audience is looking and the cameras start rolling and even with my nerves getting the better of me, I was prepared to encourage the world to get a colonoscopy…so I thought. Steve asked Kelly about her journey and cracked a couple jokes in between and it made me feel comfortable and I thought to myself "I will be OK.  Then he started talking to me and to be honest, I don't know what I said...LOL.  I do remember he asked the question I was hoping to avoid and there came the water works and the picture of my children then and now.   I tried explaining through the tears the trauma we experienced and tried to sound intelligent but, I have no recollection of what I said.  It was over in almost an instant, he said thank you and the producers whisked us off stage and back to our dressing rooms to go home...I felt defeated, I felt like I had let all of my friends and family down.   Over the weekend, I had a chance to reflect about my experience and why I can't seem to stop the tears from flowing when I tell my story.  In my sleep, I heard God say to me "Your tears are not of pain anymore, they are tears of joy because you are still here"!  "I keep the memories fresh to remind you of your journey, to keep you honest when you tell your story because it is no longer about you but, about the lives you will save with your tears and your story, don't worry about what people have to say about your tears, one day, they will have a story".  So, for those of you that may be like me, let your tears flow and don't be apologetic for your memories being fresh no matter where you are in your journey.   In the words of Jasmine Greenamyer of (Colon Cancer Alliance) to me "Don't be so hard on yourself.  As hard as it was for you, you will have helped a bazillion other people". 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Birthday

This year, I reached a milestone birthday but, this year felt different. I wanted to celebrate, I had ideas and a  marvelous plan for a celebration that I wanted to have for this year, for this milestone, for this moment that I didn't think I would ever see.  When the day finally came, I did nothing!  No party, no cake, no celebration of my life!  What happened? Why didn't I celebrate?  I was stifled by fear and the meaning of my own life.  What if no body else feels like my life is worth celebrating? What if no one shows up? What if, What if, What if!  

After those thoughts went into my head, I had a revelation...I have been celebrating this whole time.  I forgot the words spoken to me "Enjoy everyday as if it is your last"!  Every time I spend time with family and friends, I am celebrating my life....who says that you have to celebrate your life once a year?  I realized that I was content with that day because I celebrate all year long; I enjoy everyday more often that I ever did before cancer.  I learned that a birthday is a celebration of ones life on the day they were born but, it can be whenever you want to celebrate your life and those that want to celebrate with you will.

Everyday is a gift, celebrate and enjoy everyday as if it is your last!  Don't miss out on spending time with family and friends because you feel sorry for yourself or angry at your condition. Celebrate because it's Monday and your still here, celebrate because it's Tuesday and your still here, celebrate because it's Wednesday and your still here, celebrate because it's Thursday and your still here, celebrate because it's Friday and your still here!  My point is, celebrate your life because you have one and don't stifle yourself from enjoying life because you miss the blessing of everyday life!  Be Blessed!


Psalm 90:12 ESV/  "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom".



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The desperate times

I would tell myself that if I had time to plan, maybe I would have been better prepared (financially) for my cancer diagnosis.   The journey through cancer can lead to so many desperate actions and decisions because you're in survival mode on every level and everything after a cancer diagnosis is urgent.   One of my many desperate moments that come to mind is when my house was in foreclosure.  Americas Extreme Home Makeover was coming to Chicago and the kids and I were so excited because with what we'd seen on the show, we knew that we could be chosen....mother of 5 children (girls), newly diagnosed with colon cancer, can't work, can't make repairs on a house that is falling apart; we fit the profile!  Desperate, the girls and I stood in line with hundreds of other families waiting to tell their stories to the producers. My daughters wrote compelling stories about my battle with cancer and our struggles to keep it together. They poured their hearts out on paper;they said things I didn't know they felt and made me feel proud to be their mom.  We finally had our chance with the producer who asked if we had a tape of our story and we didn't, although it wasn't required at the time, it would have been helpful.  They read our story, took our picture and said if we're chosen we would here from them.  Time went by and to make a long story short, they didn't pick us.  I exhausted my savings and money from my pension and we still lost our house.  I was desperate to keep my house, I was desperate to keep my family together and some type of normalcy for my family. It took a while for me to stop blaming myself for having cancer, after all, it wasn't like it was passed on like a cold or I touched someone who hadn't washed their hands, I had no control over what would become of my young life. I shared this because I know there are others going through financially desperate situations that are beyond your control. Please know that life is full of desperate situations, bad decisions, loss of income or unforeseen health crisis but, regardless of how your desperate situation was caused, just know that it doesn't last always, it gets better no matter how it turns out and you have to let go and let God!   Be Blessed!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Structural Damage


Three weeks ago, I was involved in a car accident that had the potential to have seriously injured us both.  I, being the passenger was in a position of no control and all the power was in the hands of the driver.   As we slid and twisted and turned and I watched how my friend navigated to the best of her ability a situation that was beyond her control.  The car finally came to rest hitting a steel beam on the bridge and we walked away with no scratches, bumps or bruises and if you saw the car, you'd question why it wasn't...God was in control.  Of course we were sore afterwards but, that was to be expected and the car obviously has body damage and is being inspected for structural damage.


We are all passengers in this life, therefore, things in life will happen beyond your control and no matter how well disciplined or well trained you are in your finances, in living, in working, in health or in relationships, life happens beyond your control and it can leave us with structural damage.  Structural damage is described as:  damage to any part of the main structure or any component that is designed to provide structural integrity.


Structural damage in the human sense is loss of spirit, loss of faith, loss of mental capacity, hardened heart, a broken body and soul, with the main structure being our faith.  We must remember to stay prayerful in the worst of circumstances and know that God is in control and he is the only one that can repair human structural damage.  When life is beyond your control, remember, God is in control, rest in him and know that he will fix any and all structural damage done in your life.  Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble".


I pray this encourages....you are not alone!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Self-image after cancer

From time to time, years after my cancer diagnosis, I still struggle with my body image.  Maybe I should be fine by now but, I don't think there's a statue of limitations on getting your self esteem back after the trauma of cancer.  Sure, there are days when I am confident, I feel good about myself and I'm okay for a little while but,  when I see a dress I know should be able to wear or a nice pair of jeans or slacks that in order for me to wear them I have to make accommodations for my deformed stomach, it brings on the insecurities again.

I should be grateful, the doctors did emergency surgery and saved my life! How dare I sound so bitter that doctors saved my life! I use to feel that the doctors cut me open and then sewed me back up without any concern about how they put me back together nor how it would effect my mental state.  In 2010, I had an opportunity that changed my life and changed my view of my scar.  I was privileged to be selected as 1 of 12 Colondar Models of young adult colon cancer survivors diagnosed under the age of 50.  That photo shoot forced me to face and acknowledge my fears of ever being seen as physically beautiful, acceptance of myself and realize that I was not cursed or alone in this world.  Sure, my family and friends were supportive and listened to me cry but, I felt they could not relate to the feelings I faced everyday.  I showed my scar to the world and became liberated, I felt like my secret was out and now I could stop hiding.  I was so concerned about how others would think about me in my new physical state that I simply forgot the blessing in this whole thing...I'M ALIVE!

Now, I wear my scar like a badge of honor! That badge says "Survivor" and it means I am not alone and neither are you!

If you would like to find out more about my journey, go to: http://www.colonclub.com/crazy-projects/the-2010-colondar/2010-models/june-2010/.  While your there, check out the amazing stories from the amazing men and women who bare their scars in the name of colon cancer awareness.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

If you could just get up!

Every now and then my chronic aches and pains takes it toll on my body and forces me to lay down and it's so hard to get back up that I wind up being in the bed for a couple of days. When I feel like that, I often recall a memory of me laying in my bed and my youngest daughter who was four at the time, came in my room and asked me if I was dying. I fought back tears because what did she know? I looked so much different from when I left home 12 days prior and it was obvious the girls were discussing this amongst themselves and had concerns. I was bandaged from my pelvis to my ribs, I slept all day, had to have help being washed up and changed, family and friends coming over taking care of them and me, what were they suppose to think. My response to her was "not today baby". I was lying slightly on my side and was able to kiss her forehead, she walked out and I burst into tears. After some time had past, I layed there thinking "if I could just get up, the kids would feel better" and I was motivated to move because my children needed me too....I needed me too. What I did after I got up is crazy but, I just want to end it with this thought: When life has you down, just say "if I could just get up, things can get better"! God will help with the rest but, you got to get up!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Here it goes!

Ok, after a lot of thought, I decided to blog because I do have a lot say about life after colon cancer and living. So much has changed since being diagnosed that I felt it necessary to write my thoughts out loud in the hopes that it helps someone!

I started "living my life on purpose and everyone in my life has a purpose". When your life is crowded with a lot of people, you tend to group them all together and you can't determine who's for you or who's against you. But, when God adds a purpose to your existence, people will start separating themselves from you because they can't relate to your change. I realized that God doesn't want any distractions for my purpose "given" life. I struggled to understand why I survived colon cancer when I'd lost so many friends (who I felt deserved to live more than me)to this disease and to be honest, I'm afraid to ask God why but, I know "to whom much is given, much is required".

I'm broke, I live from paycheck to paycheck, I have a whole lot of children....lol, (5 natural and 5 God given) I lost so much and went through so much fighting cancer so why should I live my life on purpose? Because God took my old life and gave me a new one with a purpose.