But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as Eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Today Sheila and I were visited by Alton, a photographer for the Columbus Republic newspaper.    And I turned the camera on him!  :=)
Alton was a very nice, friendly young man and we enjoyed getting to meet him.  The Columbus Republic will be printing a special section called "PINK PURPOSE" in an upcoming newspaper.  I'm not sure of the exact date it will come out, but believe it will be next week....maybe a Sunday edition.  I need to verify it and then I'll let you know the date.  Anyway, the special section will be featuring stories of those fighting or who have fought breast cancer, and it will feature "our story"....mom, Sheila, and me.  I so wish Mom could have lived and been in the photo with us...she would have gotten a kick out of it.  

Here's Sheila getting an extension cord ready for him. 

I think Sheila and I were just expecting him to show up with his camera, but he had other "equipment" he set up.....he was quite a professional.   He shot the photos out in her back yard and he took TONS of shots, so surely he got at least one good one out of all of them!  LOL!  Jen, he had a really nice Nikon that just kept shooting photo after photo and I thought of you and your camera!  :=) 

I was thinking this was something else I could mark off my "bucket list"....I already had my "nude photo shoot" at the plastic surgeon's office....and now I was having a newspaper photo shoot.  But, then I remembered years and years ago.....before "extreme couponing tv shows", I was featured in the Seymour Tribune and they followed me to the grocery store and then to my home for shots of me and my couponing/refunding.  Yep, I was an "extreme couponer" before it became HOT on tv!  I got over $70 worth of groceries for a little over $4 on that trip.  That was a big deal back then!  Anyone remember that article?...way back when my kids were little...probably early 80's.  So, I guess this wasn't my first news photo shoot after all.

Big smile girls!!!!!

Thank you Alton. for taking such care in photographing us.  We can't wait to see how they turned out!  You made us feel like celebrities!  LOL!  Seriously, we are grateful to the Columbus Republic and everyone who has worked on this special "Pink Purpose" section and for giving us the opportunity to use our story to help spread awareness.  It is our deepest desire to help encourage others who may face this journey at some point in their lives and to help spread the message of early detection.
Once Alton had packed up and left for his next photo shoot, we took off to get us an Apple Dumpling at the Oktoberfest. 

The Lutheran Apple Dumpling is always a "must have" at Oktoberfest time!  There are just certain things you look forward to every year.

Sheila just finished up and was enjoying the music.  It was awesome!

We didn't get to stay long, but it was an absolutely gorgeous day!  I totally love the Fall and our short little visit downtown was very enjoyable.

I just had to show you these!  Do you know what they are?  Painted Pumpkins!  I especially love the bowl of popcorn.  LOL!  How clever, huh?

Until next time....get out and enjoy these Fall days before the cold of winter is upon us!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Can I be serious with you today?  I know I kid around a lot and try to keep my posts "light" but yet educational, but I never forget that cancer....any cancer....is a serious life-threatening disease.  I hope I never come across as "flippant" about it.  Being "positive" is my way of handling it and in my opinion, it's the only way to get through it!  I like to show pics and tell stories of my progress to encourage others and let them know that it is not an "automatic death sentence" and we can live with cancer!  None of us are promised tomorrow...whether we are battling cancer or not.  So, I choose to live each day in a positve manner and even during my cancer battle, I have found humor and blessings. 

I have had questions from others lately as to why I chose to have a bilateral (double) masectomy, especially since the cancer was only in my left breast.  It isn't anything the doctors coerced me into.  As a matter of fact, they kept telling me I could have a lumpectomy and my survival rate would be the same.  But, the reoccurence rate would not.  My surgeon did not sway me one way or another...it is a very personal decision and may not be the right decision for others.   Once I made that decision, my doctors fully supported me.

Before getting breast cancer, it was easy to say I'd "just take them off" if I was ever diagnosed.  It is quite another thing when you are really faced with that decison.  For me, I had a few months to think about it....since I had chemo first.  I was always drawn to the bilateral masectomy decision, but there were times (especially when I felt bad from chemo) that a lumpectomy sure sounded easier!  And it would have been!  But, I also knew the bilateral masectomy would cut my chances of it returning drastically, even in my non-diseased breast.  I couldn't ignore that fact and after going through chemo, I didn't like the thought of it returning and having to go through chemo again.  I have known others who had a lumpectomy and had the cancer come back within a year or two.   I wanted to give myself the best chance possible of it not returning. 

NO GUARANTEE!  Even with bilateral masectomy, it can still return.  The comedian, Wanda Sykes, was recently disagnosed and had a bilateral masetomy and commented on the Ellen Show that she was 100% cured....that she could never get breast cancer again!  I wish that were true.  In reality, it reduces our chances 90%, but there is still that 10% chance of it reoccurring.   So, the bilateral masectomy does dractically cut our chances of reoccurence....but not by 100%.  My surgeon explained to me that it is impossible to remove all of the breast tissue, so some is still left behind.  And cancer can return in that remaining breast tissue.  I have also learned that breast cancer can spread to 4 areas of your body....bones, brain, lung, and liver.
I feel good about my chances, as I know I've done everything I can to keep that from happening...the rest is out of my hands.    The thought of reoccurence is always at the back of a survivor's mind, but I choose not to dwell on it.  Like I said, no one is guaranteed tomorrow and I choose to live my life in a positive manner and not dwell on things I cannot change.

Another reason I chose the bilateral masectomy was my own family history.  With my mom and sister being diagnosed right ahead of me, I went from low risk to high risk immediately.  So, with that in mind, I had to realize I was still at high risk and it just made sense for me to get the bilateral masectomy.  I also have a history of "growing things", as I have had two large ovarian cysts removed at different times in my life.  The last time...about 8 years ago....they were sure I had ovarian cancer, but as it turned out, I had pre-cancerous cells, but no cancer!  Praise God!  But, when making the decision, I considered my own health issues, along with my family history.  I feel this was the right decision for me.  It may not be the right decision for you or anyone else....everyone needs to make that decision for themselves and be comfortable with their decision.  I have no regrets.

I'll be honest....the reconstruction was a harder decision for me than the bilateral masectomy.  Quite frankly, I wasn't upset at the thought of being "boobless".  But, for some, it would be devastating.  I made the reconstruction decision at the last minute....I didn't think I'd do it and all of a sudden I was saying, "Let's go for it!"  I even surprised myself.  I was feeling weak from chemo and just didn't know if I wanted to put myself through more pain and procedures just to have boobs.  I know I joke around a lot about my new "perky Cs", but in reality, it's a very uncomfortable procedure....even painful at times.  About six weeks after the surgery, I began to feel better.  It was pretty rough before that.  As I "grow", I have no regrets with my decision and am eager to get these tissue expanders out and the silicone implants in!  Again, this is a very personal decision and there is no wrong decision.

I hope I never offend anyone with my joking around.  It's my way of dealing with all of this and keeping myself in an upbeat and positive mode.  It's also my way of reassuring my family and friends that I will be ok.  While I recognize the down side of cancer and don't want to make light of it....I also don't want to be "doom and gloom" either.  I don't think that would help me at all and I truly believe there is a difference between "dying from cancer" and "living with cancer".  I choose the latter.  I will "live" until my last breath....whether that's a year or 30 years from now!  I just know that God can use this experience of mine and has given me a purpose in life for however long He keeps me around.  My deepest desire is to encourage others going through this, as so many have encouraged me.

I "preach" early detection and mammograms because I truly believe it gives us more hope for recovery and less treatment.  But, I also recognize that so much research is helping us live longer, even when not caught early.  We who are getting diagnosed today are more fortunate than those years ago, as much strides in treatment and prolonging our lives has been made.  While it isn't necessarily cured, we can still live with it! 

Until next time....get your mammograms and do your self exams!
And if you ever want to ask me anything, don't hesitate!

PS...I had promised pics of me and Larry at French Lick and will be getting them posted this week.  I still need to upload and crop the pics. 

Monday, September 26, 2011


Pam and I got up bright and early on Saturday morning to go to our first Komen Race for the Cure.  Actually, I don't think it was so bright since it was around 5 AM when we got up!  Now anyone who knows me, knows I'm so NOT a morning person, so this was quite a feat for me! 

Now, get the Rockey theme song in your head and picture me getting ready so early in the morning!  I snapped this pic in the bedroom as I was dressing and keep in mind that Evansville is an hour behind us....so, it was actually 5:25 am!  Yawn....sure glad I went to bed early!

We headed downtown and found the Old National Bank parkng garage where they had special Survivor parking and then made our way into the bank.  Right off the bat Pam saw women she knew.  Of course I didn't know anyone, but it doesn't take me long to find new friends in the "sea of pink"!  We all connect as we understand what each of us are going through and we find encouragement from each other.

One of the first people we saw that morning was Pam's friend, Kathy, who was just diagnosed recently and has just finished up 4 rounds of chemo and is preparing for surgery.  I had actually "met" Kathy on the phone when Pam connected us and on the internet, but not in person.  I knew she was going to be at the race, along with thousands of others, and I was sooooo hoping to meet her in person.  God knows the desires of our heart.....I met her right off the bat, plus stood with her during the opening ceremonies (unplanned...He must have put us together!)

Next I met Donna, another friend of Pam's.  Pam, correct me if I get any names wrong.....I'm usually so bad with names and this is all from memory.  Also, if my memory serves me correct, I believe she said she was an 18 year survivor.  Yay Donna!!! 

As I entered the bank, some young ladies handed me a pretty beaded bracelet from a Sorority.  There were free handouts everywhere....even Hoosier Lottery tickets (I won $15!!!  LOL).   Anyway, later I saw this table of young women actually making the bracelets and asked if I could snap their pic.  It takes a lot of volunteers to make things happen and I thank each and every one of them! 

Pam and I walked down one street that was booth after booth of "giveaways" and that was cool!  Everyone likes freebies!  :=)  We got all kind of goodies!

And these freebies were particulary yummy!  I'm not a big cookie person, but I must say these cookies were delish!  They had an area set up for what was called Palooza and it was for survivors and 1 guest.  That's where we found these cookies, a scarf hand out, and drinks and fruit.


I gave Pam my camera and went and lined up for the Survivor Walk.  I hoped she'd snap pics of anything happening and she did a great job!  It was such a rainy morning and umbrellas were everywhere, but they asked us to put the umbrellas down when we heard the music begin because they spooked the horses.  Wow, we get horses!!!  I had no idea!  And I was so glad Pam was able to snap a pic of them as they came down the chute to lead the parade of survivors.  

Angie, if you're reading this, I know you will love this pic! 

Now, silly me.   I lined up with the spectators on the other side of the rope THINKING I was in the survivor line ready to walk and I saw this first group of survivors coming down the way after the horses and they were carrying a sign that said "Less than 1 year".  I'm like...."uh, I think I should be with them-not here!"  And I immediately went under the rope and joined them.  LOL!  Do you see me?  Hey, it was my first Komen Race....I'll be smarter next year!  :=)

As we reached the stage, we made our way up some very wide tiered steps, which put us in the back row of the survivors.  What I didn't realize is that when we turned around to watch the ceremonies on stage that we were actually going to be in the front row for all of the activities.  How cool....Pam was able to get great pictures of us since we were in the front row!  And look who ended up right by me in that front row....Karen who I had just met earlier!  Pam got some great shots of us together during this time of honoring survivors!

This lady was awesome!  She and another woman sang and they both were very, very good!  I loved the songs....I Feel Like A Woman, Fight Like A Girl, I'm Going to Love You Through It, We Are Family, Amazing Grace....and others that were so inspirational!  We all danced and sang along being in the front row, we even had the microphone put to our face to sing ito it.  LOL!   Do you see me in this picture?  I couldn't spot myself at first because I didn't realize I had that much hair on the back of my head.  LOL!

Pam said I was singing here.  I love to sing but can't...LOL...and I always figured it was the voice that scared people.  But, now I think it's the singing face that scares them more!  Of course cute little Karen just gives off a sweet smile to make me look even worse.  LOL!

Amazing grace....what more can I say?

We have a lot to clap about....we're surviving cancer!  I chatted with the gal next to me and she was Teresa from Tennesee......

There's my singing face again!  LOL!  Hey, I was having a good time and you've gotta be able to laugh at yourself...right? 

Pam cracks me up!  She was at the side of us at first, so I had to keep looking over there for her to get a shot of me....instead of the back of my head.  Then she found a spot to stand so she was kind of behind the stage looking straight on at us...perfect!

Well, it was perfect until these guys stood right in front of her.  LOL!  They were waiting to go on stage and just as we were smiling for a pic and Pam was all ready to take it.....they lined up right in front of Pam.  Me and Kathy were cracking up and then saw Pam actually tell them to move because she was taking a pic.  LOL...I was cracking up when I saw this big tough guy actually squat down so she could take the pic.  That's my sister....nothing shy about her.  LOL!

All 3 of us....Kathy, me, and Teresa.  I may never see or hear from Teresa again, but I will be praying for her.  And who knows.....God works in amazing ways!  I do believe I'll see Kathy again and I do have her email and phone #, so plan to keep in touch and updated on how she is doing.  My life has been enriched by the people I have met on this journey.

That pretty well wrapped up the ceremonies.  They were great and very inspiring!  And it rained clear up to the Survivor Walk and ceremonies and then quit....then started up again after the ceremonies were over.  Coincidence???  I think NOT!  The rain stopped at the key moments!  Thank you Lord for the rain...and thank you Lord for the moments of no rain!  :=)  Pam liked to think of the rain as God showering us with His blessings.  I like that!  :=)

Pam and I made our way in to the bank to dry off and rest and sat down at a table with this lady and her daughter.
I hate it that I can't remember her name, but I do know she was from Kentucky and worked at Deaconess Hospital. 


Now, you surely didn't think Pam and I ran the 5K (3.1 miles), did you?  LOL!  I would love to do that someday, but don't know if my knees will ever let me.  But, maybe with some training on my treadmill.....  Never say never!  :=)

Pam's back....

My back.....

Now, since Pam and I were there alone, there was no one to take our picture as we walked, so we got the shot of our backs before we began and then just took shots of what we saw along the way!

Something as simple as this ribbon hanging in the tree can make you smile.  Thanks to whomever put it out there!

Same with this flag!  I'd like to have one of these, so might have to search the internet and see if I can find one.

These cute young cheerleaders were cheering for us along the way.  Loved their socks and their enthusiasm!

And then we had these Zumba dancers.  Wow, what energy!  It looked like such fun...I would love to do this someday!

~Real men wear pink!~
But this man might have gone a little overboard....LOL! 
If you dress like this and I have a camera....you gotta expect a pic!  LOL!   Hey, it's all for a good cause and I thank him for his support.  And he was a good sport to pose for me!

And there I am....I walked my mile and am heading down the survivor chute!  They announced our name as we crossed the finish line.  And they made us feel so special!

We had a great time and I felt so inspired.  Thank you Evansville, for such a great Komen Race.  You did a fantastic job and it was an awesome experience that I plan to do again next year!   The organization was fantastic and even though there were thousands there, it was spread out enough that we didn't ever feel a bit crowded.  Many thanks to the many volunteers who made this happen!   Pam and I want to make it an annual event and hopefully get Sheila to join us, as well as some other family members.  We are thinking we'll do the Spring one in Indianapolis and the Fall one in Evansville and make it a new annual tradition until the day breast cancer is whipped!

Back home at Pam's we dried out and both crashed for an afternoon nap.  LOL...hey, remember, we got up at 5 AM!!!  AND walked a mile!  Actually we walked more than that, but only a mile was "official".

I want you to meet Harley, Pam's sweet spoiled little dog.  She has pink ribbons in her hair.  You can't tell in the picture that they were pink....but they were.  She was so sweet and loved attention.  If I quit petting her, she would let me know she wanted more by lifting her paw toward me.  LOL...she is so spoiled!  I fell in love with her!  :=)

Later that day Pam had to head to work and Larry showed up to pick me up to head home.  Thanks again, Pam, for such a great time!  We'll do it again!!!

And, on the way home, Larry and I decided to stop about half way home and stay overnight at French Lick, Indiana.  We have been wanting to visit there....never been before....so this seemed to be the perfect opportunity!

Be sure to come back tomorrow and I'll tell you all about our French Lick experience!  And our gambling experience, which is sure to make you laugh.  We are so NOT gamblers!  LOL!

I'm exhausted and it will take me a few days of "downtime" to recuperate from all of this fun! 

Until next time.....go have some fun!  You can rest later....LOL!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


 I just had the greatest time in Evansville, Indiana with my sister, Pam.  She manages Chicos down there and had asked me to come down and talk with shoppers about Breast Cancer Awareness.  I was honored to do so and thank God for the opportunity.  It was a wonderful experience and I met and talked with many women and got the opportunity to spread the message of mammograms and early detection.

These are Pam's employees and they were so warm and friendly to Linda and me.  Oh, I forgot to mention that my good buddy, Linda Morrow, drove me down there.  It's about a 3 hour drive and I had never driven it before and just wasn't real sure about driving it alone.  So, she graciously drove me down and I told her on the way we were going to receive blessings down there...and we sure did!

When we met Toby, one of Pam's employees, and got the chance to talk with her, we were both blesssed and connected with her.  Linda especially connected with her when she told us she had lost her 22 year old son, Lewis, just last year.  Linda lost her 13 year old grandson, JJ, last year also and they connected on a level of knowing the pain of losing a child.  Linda was able to share her necklace that has JJ's thumbprint and to let her know she may able to get one with Lewis' thumbprint.  God works in such amazing ways and is always a step ahead of you.  Linda was right where God wanted her!  I was so happy to see the connection they had and know how very much Linda was blessed by meeting Toby.  I don't call things like this  "coincidence".....there's no doubt they are a "God thing".

This is Toby...she graciously loaned me some of her hair.  LOL!  What a sweetheart she is.  I even found out she does Stampin Up!  Imagine my surprise on Saturday when I asked if she had big plans for the night and she said, "No, you won't believe this, but I'm just going home and make cards".  I'm like..."WHAT????  What kind of cards?" and she proceeded to tell me she does Stampin' Up!   No way!!!  She had no idea I was a Stampin' Up Demonstrator and I had no idea she was into Stampin' Up too!

This is my sister, Pam, who was very busy all day.  As a matter of fact, all of the girls were busy, busy, busy.  They had non-stop customers, so we mostly tried to stay out of their way.  It's a very busy store!

Deaconess Hospital had given Pam some giveaways (mints, ink pens, magnets, pamphlets) to display and give away and that was mine and Linda's job.  And the customers were very receptive to us and as it ususally turns out, everyone you speak with has been touched by breast cancer, whether it be a family member or a friend. 

And, I met this sweet lady....a 3 time survivor.  She is fighting cancer for the 3rd time now and had such a fighting spirit about her.  I honestly cannot imagine going down that road 3 times and hope I never have to face that.  But, if I do, I hope I can keep my "fight" alive like this woman has.

I was able to sit at the front door with the display of items from Deaconess Hospital and talk with the customers as they came in or left the store.  It worked out great and Pam had the table set up beautifully with a black cloth and mirrors.

The Deaconess Hospital had a theme going on.....BREAST CANCER IS FOR THE BIRDS!  I soooo agree!  And this is what I'd like to do with cancer....strangle it!  LOL! 

Ok, I was nice to it.  LOL!  Actually, I would have loved to bring this cute little bird home with me.  And, Sharon, if you are reading this I thought of YOU and how wonderful she'd look in your pink office!  :=)  But, alas, I had to leave her behind.

Wow, how cool are these shoes?  One of the gals working at Chicos was wearing them!  I think I NEED some of these...lol!

Actually, I got the chance to look around Chicos and what I loved best about it was the sizing!  Can you believe it!!!  I am down to a size 2!  This is my kind of store!!!  :=)  When I see those commercials on tv showing women saying "I lost 50 lbs and now wear a size 2", I am always screaming "Liar"...LOL!  I owe them an apology.  I now realize they must be shopping at Chicos!

And what do you think about this bling?  LOL...actually, these were on our display table and I think they are for scarves.  Ok, how about these earrings?  :=)
No, they aren't actually earrings.  But, you give me and Linda some "downtime" and a camera and you just never know what you'll get.  LOL!

Speaking of downtime and a camera...LOL!  Pam finally got some
"downtime" at the end of her shift and I wanted to get a pic with her.  So, here we are!  She hadn't seen me since my surgery in July and hadn't seen my reconstruction yet....so she had to check it out.  LOL!  If you know me and Pam....you understand!  :=)

We have a "prim and proper" side too.  LOL!

Thank you, Pam and Chicos employees for inviting us and welcoming us into your store to help spread Breast Cancer Awareness.  I've asked God for opportunites to help educate and encourage other women and He keeps giving them to me.  I have found if you are a willing vessel....God will use you and open doors of opportunity.  He is so awesome that way and blesses me so much on this journey.

I spent the night at Pam's Thursday and Friday nights and then on Saturday moring we woke up and headed off to the Komen Race for the Cure in downtown Evansville.
I will be posting about that experience tomorrow, complete with pics, so be sure to come back and visit tomorrow.  It was my first Komen Race and in spite of the rain, we had a fantastic time.  I can't wait to share it with you, but didn't want to overwhelm you in one post.  See you tomorrow!  :=)

Until next time......ask God for opportunies to be used and receive many blessings in the process!