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

Monday, October 31, 2011


I did it!  I had my last "fill" Thursday and am now just waiting for my surgery date!  As you can see, I look pretty "normal" in my clothes now. 
Dang it, I still need to lose that tummy!  But there's a lot less of me now than when I began this journey!
Arghhhh, no make up or jewelry tonight!  That's a rarity for me anymore!

Now, I'll be honest, they are not proportioned and they are not soft and they are not pretty.......but he assures me that he will fix all of that at surgery time and I trust he will!  My surgery is a month away....December 2.  It just amazes me what they can do nowadays!

This last "fill" really pumped the smaller one up beyond the larger one.  And it is so uncomfortable, even under my arm.  It must really be stretching that muscle!  But, I know it will come to an end soon and I will feel so much better when these are removed in December.  I've been told by one of my "cancer sisters" who has already had the surgery that it is "instant relief"!  I can do this....almost there!!!!

In the beginning I really, really did not want to do this!  But, now, in spite of the pain and discomfort, I can honestly say I'm glad I did.  I think once I'm through all of this, I will feel better about how I look and won't have the disfigurement to constantly remind me of what this cancer did to my body.  It's not that I'm a "vain" person at all, but I think doing this will bring me emotional closure.  Does that make sense?

Another surprise on my porch....
I opened the door today to discover another surprise on my front porch.  
Isn't this beautiful?  Even though there was no note with it, I have a high suspicion who it was from and if you are reading this, thank you.  That was very kind of you.  I know it is handmade, which I love!  It looks like it's made from vases, goblets, glass plates....really pretty.  There is a solar light in the top.

She even painted a pink ribbon at the top.  Too cool!

There's not much "medical" going on with me right now, so I hope you don't mind me just sharing my "life" with you.
 It was Halloween night and we went down to Jen & Joe's house for Trick or Treat night.  I treasure these special times with my family and tonight was no exception.   Because of our location we just don't get any trick or treaters, but Jen and Joe live in a neighborhood that is swarming with them.  So, it's become our tradition to go down to their house and walk around with them and watch our grandchildren trick or treat.  Plus they always make a pot of chili...yum....any night I get out of cooking is a good night!  LOL!   Although I do have to admit I've been cooking more and more in my crock pot and really enjoying it.  But, every woman enjoys a "night off", don't they?

So, we went down and walked around the neighborhood with our little ghosts....Abby and Luke.

Funny thing about these costumes....my daughter, Jen, is real creative and when she asked her children what they wanted to be for Halloween they both wanted to be ghosts.  Jen wasn't satisfied with this overdone costume idea and didn't consider it creative enough for her, so she tried so hard to talk them into something else.  But, she finally gave in when Luke said to her, "But, mommy, I've been practicing, listen.....oooooooh ooooooooh (in his best ghostly voice).  LOL, that melted Jen's heart and she knew at that moment that ghosts they would be!

Before we left to head to Jen's, I whipped up a little Halloween surprise for my 3 grandchildren.  I stamped and wrapped Hershey Nuggets for them.

 Here's my little ghosts with their Nugget Tins.  My older granddaughter is at that age (13) that she's not fond of me taking her picture....but she got one too!  :=)

Jennifer and Joe live in an awesome neighborhood, which is actually part of the area I grew up in.  I walked up to many of these same houses many years ago to trick or treat.

Oh how I loved Halloween as a child.  We didn't have a set night or set hours and our parents didn't walk around with us.  We also didn't have packaged costumes.  I remember going through old clothes in the closet and throwing our costumes together.  And I remember Mom helping us and she really got a kick out of it.  Us siblings would take off and walk all over (the older ones watching out for the younger ones), going to every house and collecting the biggest bag of loot a child could wish for!  There was no porch light rule and it was a simpler time in America, where no one had to be afraid of anything they got to eat!  And when people ran out of candy, they started giving out quarters!  Back then a quarter was a big deal to a kid!  Oh the memories!!!  Walking around this neighborhood tonight reminded me of those simpler times.  I so enjoyed the children in their costumes having so much fun.

Back then people also didn't decorate their yards and homes like they do today.  There would be jack-o-lanterns, but that was pretty much it.   Walking around this neighborhood, it was amazing to me the extent that people got their yards ready for the trick or treaters.  Here's just a sampling of some of the houses that were ready for the trick or treaters, complete with fog and creepy music.  LOL!  As a child, I probably would have been too chicken to walk up to any of them!  But, the people were sitting outside to pass the candy out and the kids didn't seem freaked out a bit.  The scariest thing we had back then was Sammy Terry!

I love it that my grandchildren also get to hand candy out before they head out to trick or treat themselves. 

Another fond memory of my childhood this time of year was "corning".  Did you do this?
This is what our front porch looks like and it makes me smile when I walk outside and see it and it brings back those memories.  It drives my husband crazy and I told him about "corning" as a child and he was shocked to learn we actually went around throwing corn onto people's porches!  It was so much fun....throw that handful of corn and run as fast as you could!  Of course this was a tradition when we became teenagers.....and I remember one old man on the street behind us turning his dog loose on us.  I don't think I have run as fast in my life as I did the night I flew down the alley back to my house with that dog chasing us!   It's funny how some things you just never forget!  After my husband acted so shocked that we did such a thing, he said, "well, we corned cars going by, not houses".  Well, duh, does he think that was better?  They could have caused a wreck....lol!  I guess that was the difference in growing up in town versus the country.  We also went "soaping" (never used paraffin though).  He said he never did that either!  Oh what fun it was!  That's probably the most "mischief" I got into as a teenager. 

I don't think kids "corn" anymore.  So, how did we get all of that corn on our porch?

Do you see him?  They come up to our porch every day to get into my corn stalk decorations.  It drives Larry crazy that they get on the porch, but doesn't bother me a bit....as long as they don't get in the house.  My hubby needs to lighten up...lol!

He saw me there with the camera and it didn't phase him a bit.  I think he just wanted me to go back in the house so he could get his corn...lol!

As our lives change, I look at my past traditions with fond memories...and stay open to begin new traditions.  It was such fun doing Halloween as a child and then taking my own children around...but now our new tradition is to leave our home and go over to their neighborhood to watch our grandchildren enjoy the night.  It's a great time!

As we move forward, we are making plans to begin a new tradition for Thanksgiving.  It is so hard on our grown children to try to arrange and run around to two dinners on the same day, so we often times have them over for Thanksgiving dinner on another day.  It's more relaxed having dinner when someone doesn't have to rush off to another one...less stress for everyone.  With my mom and dad gone now and no more big family get-togethers, we have found just the two of us alone on Thanksgiving before.  I'll be honest....I just can't get into fixing a special Thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us.  One year we even went to Cracker Barrel.  This year we are making plans to enjoy Thanksgiving in Brown County, Indiana.  We are re-discovering the special places so close to home and making new traditions

Until next time.....be open to beginning "new traditions" in your own life.  Life changes....especially after your children are grown and out of the house or after you lose your parents......and sometimes we just need to be flexible and change things up a bit.  I call these "chapters in life".  Every new chapter can bring new blessings and new experiences and I'm learning to move forward instead of being "stuck in the past".  The past has great memories that will never fade but the future holds more memories waiting to be made!

Monday, October 24, 2011


As yet another family member has been diagnosed with cancer, I am reminded of this song that I have clung to during my own treatment.  It has given me much comfort in my darkest hours....to know that my anchor is Jesus and the anchor holds.  No matter how battered we may feel or the trouble that comes into our lives, Jesus will never fail us.  He will bring us strength and walk through the battles with us.

It's been a rough two years for our family.  Nick is the fourth one in our family in less than two years to be diagnosed with cancer...first my mom, then my sister, and then me (all breast cancer)....and now Nick, with brain cancer.  Although Nick isn't "blood"....he is "family"....he is my sister's husband. 

My heart is broken right now, as the cancer has already caused Nick to go blind, but I know that God is in control.  I don't always understand everything and it's in those times that I just have to turn it all over to God and ask Him to use these trials for His glory.  I ask Him to surround my sister and Nick and the rest of his family (he has two grown daughters) with His love and to give them a peace that surpasses all human understanding.  Some hard days lie ahead of them, but I know that God will walk right beside them and when they don't think they can do it, He will hold them up.  I pray for healing and wisdom and peace.  

Until next time......Remember, we never know what lies ahead of us and one day/one event/one moment can change our whole life.  I pray that you have that "anchor" in your life.  I dedicate this song today to my sister, Pam, and her husband, Nick, and his two daughters and pray that it brings them comfort. 

Friday, October 21, 2011


Picture by Alton Strupp, The Columbus Republic

Today, the article about me and my sister, Sheila, was in the Columbus Republic.  The Republic ran a special "Pink Purpose" issue of their newspaper a couple of weeks ago, with some awesome, inspiring stories of people fighting breast cancer.  Sheila and I are a part of this Pink Purpose month of their newspaper, and our article appeared on the front page of today's paper.

We did not see the photo or article beforehand, so I was quite eager to see it!  I want to thank Alton Strupp for such a great photo of me and my sister and Andrea Zike, the reporter, for her wonderful article!  Excellent job!

I did run around town rounding up extra copies for my family and friends, but I was careful to leave some at each store....so hopefully you'll go pick up a copy!  :=)  You can also find the article online here 

I also want to thank the Columbus Republic for their month long devotion to the cause of bringing awareness to breast cancer.  I have read and enjoyed each and every story and applaud you for your work in this area.  I know you are helping to save lives by giving people this platform to reach others!

You can find the special Pink Purpose issue and read the other stories at http://www.therepublic.com/view/local_story/Pink_Purpose_2011_special_sect_1317965815/

I am very proud to be a part of this Pink Purpose project.  I'm in a "club" that no one wants to be in, but now that I'm in it, God has given me a mission to help educate and encourage others.  Thank you Columbus Republic, for allowing my sister and I to tell "our stories" and my prayer is that it will help someone out there.

Until next time......let God use you wherever you are or whatever you are going through in life.  Be a willing vessel and He will open up the doors!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Chemo brain...it kinda scares me!  But, sometimes I just have to laugh at myself and the things I forget or say!  I met my "cancer sisters" (Amy and Carin) for lunch yesterday in Greenwood.  My good buddy, Linda Morrow, drove up with me (I'm glad she drove, as I had two sleepless nights in a row and was rather tired).  Anyway, as we were traveling up I-65 I told her my funny story from Monday....only one other person knew this story...Linda Curd, who I had lunch with on Monday!  It's a story I was reserving for my closest friends...lol...kinda embarrassing, ya know!  She laughed with me and said, "oh, you have to put that on your blog"....uh, I don't think so!  LOL!

Then at lunch yesterday, when the subject of chemo brain came up, Linda started laughing and said I just had to tell Amy and Carin "my story".  So, I broke down and told them....I figured, "ok, they're my cancer sisters....surely they'll still love me...lol".  Well, then they were all urging me to tell "my story" on my blog.  Argghhhh!  I resisted because it's a bit embarrassing and I don't want you all to think that everything about me is fake!  But, hey, laughter is good for the soul, so if it gives you your laugh for the day...or maybe some of you will even identify with it....then all is good.  And if it runs some of you off (LOL), well, maybe you didn't like me anyways...hehe!  But those who stick around will now be considered my "closest friends" because this story is only reserved for "closest friends"...lol!

Ok, here goes "my story"!  I was to meet Linda Curd at the Edinburgh Cracker Barrel at noon Monday...hadn't seen her in 8 years and was so excited and didn't want to be late (which is in my nature...not horribly late, but no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get out the door early).  Anyway, I was rushing around trying to get everything done, after sleeping too late....got my make up on, clothes on, shoes on, supper in the crock pot, paid a bill online, brushed and curled my hair (lol, ok joking about that one).....ok, that's it, I think I'm ready to roll!  I was so proud that I accomplished all that I needed to do that morning and it didn't look like I'd be more than 5 or 10 minutes late.  Awesome!!!  Ok, so I'm be-bopping down the interstate jamming to my music that was blaring and am almost to Columbus, which is 20 miles into my trip and just below Edinburgh...not much further to go!  And then I realized what I forgot!!!!  At first I was mortified and in a panic....what am I going to do???  Then I started arguing with myself..."I've got to go back.  No, you're almost there...you don't have time to go back....ok, maybe she won't notice!"  Now, you've heard the saying, "I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached."....well, let's just say I'm sure glad my head is attached at this point in my life!  LOL!  But I did manage to forget something that wasn't attached.....my bottom teeth!!!  There, I said it!!!  LOL! 

Now, get up up off of that floor and wipe those laughing tears away and pull yourself together.  Yes, I have false teeth, fake boobs, and a boy haircut (hey at least the hair is real now!).  LOL!  Now, I'm not proud of having false teeth, but anyone who knows me knows I didn't have good teeth and I finally gave up on the expense of trying to fix them.  Besides, I'm getting old (almost 60, ya know)...lol...and although I would love to say I have my real teeth, it wasn't meant to be!  Now, let me assure you that other than my boobs and my teeth, everything else about me is REAL!

Ok, you've had your laugh now!  And after arguing with myself in the car, I finally just started laughing.  Here I was driving down that interstate laughing out loud at myself!  I even looked in the rear view mirror and smiled to see if you could tell it!  Nope, you don't see my bottom teeth when I smile...good!  And there was no indented place that showed...I'm good for pics!....because there was no way I wasn't getting my pic with Linda after 8 years! 

See, you can't even tell, can you?  If I didn't tell on myself, no one would have known.  But, some stories just need to be shared...lol!

 I knew I'd confess my lack of bottom teeth to Linda.....(I just didn't know at the time that I'd be confessing it to the whole world!).   I first made her try to guess what I forgot that wasn't attached.  She couldn't guess...good!.... then that probably means the waitress can't tell either!  I was self conscious, but after awhile I totally forgot about it.  Linda and I had a good laugh about it all and sat and visited for the next 5 hours!  Thank God I was at Cracker Barrel where they had soft food like meatloaf and mashed potatoes...lol!  Well, that's "my story"!

Like I said earlier, the chemo brain scares me sometimes. Besides forgetting my teeth (first time ever, by the way), I've left 2 ATM cards in the machine since I began chemo (never did that before either!), I walked out of the bathroom this morning forgetting to shut the water off (didn't take long for me to realize it), I jumble up words or call people by the wrong name.  And sometimes I just feel a "little fuzzy".   Now don't get me wrong, I'm still very functional and this isn't a 24/7 thing.  But, I'd rather have a physical problem than a brain problem....the brain scares me.  And with that being one of the areas breast cancer can spread to, it scares me even more.  But, I'm sure it's just the treatments and it's only been 4 months since they ended and I've read that the chemo brain thing can last up to two years.  So, I'm sure that's what it is.  Plus, I've had a couple of sleepless nights this week, so that can't help!  Slept pretty good last night, so all is good!

Ok, so yesterday I met my "cancer sisters" for lunch at the Olive Garden in Greenwood.  It was wonderful to see them again!

Yes, dang it, I have the same outfit on...I guess I forgot what I wore on Monday...lol....yes, I'm a dweeb!  Hey, it was clean, so that makes it ok, right?  I'm more concerned that I forgot to put my earrings in....egads!

If you've read my entire blog, you might remember that I met Amy (in the middle) and Carin (on the right) at the "Look Good, Feel Better" progam up at Greenwood.  We hadn't seen each other since then, but became friends on facebook and have followed each other's treatments and progress.  We knew we'd see each other again, but it's been hard to get together between the chemos and surgeries.  We had to wait until we were all done with that and we'd all feel better at the same time...lol!  Yay, Carin and I have the chemo done and we all have our major surgeries done.  We finally all felt good at the same time and could meet!

Even though this was the first time we actually got to sit down and REALLY TALK, it was like we were forever friends.  We were so connected because we knew what each had gone through.  We understood....it was like we were in a "support group".  One of us would mention something and the other would say, "Me too...I wondered if that was normal".  It was great to find out it was!  We were able to encourage each other that things were normal and share out fears, knowing the other understood those fears.  I don't let fears take over....but they are always there.  We were just so connected....so bonded!  I love my "cancer sisters"....even though I'm old enough to be their moms, they don't treat me like I'm an "old lady"....LOL! 

Cancer sisters plus one....my dear friend Linda.  She's an "honory sister"....we don't really want her to be a full fledged member of our club.  Bless her heart, she surprised us by buying our dinner.  Thanks so much Linda!   Linda is such an awesome person!  I love her for many reasons, but one particular reason stood out yesterday.  I loved her yesterday because she said I was skinny!!!  LOL....hey, do you know how long it's been since someone said I was skinny?  I coulda just kissed her right then and there, but we were in the doctor's office surrounded by other people.  I've lost 50 pounds and am so hoping to keep it off....I feel much better with it off.  I'm kinda stuck there....not losing any more....but at least it's staying stable and so far I haven't gained any back!  That excites me, especially since I'm eating more now and trying all of those awesome new crock pot recipes!

Now, here's some food that won't make me fat!
Look what Amy surprised me and Carin with!  Thank you so much Amy!  I can't wait to dig into it!  We weren't able to have a "five hour lunch" (probably could have talked that long!)....I had to get over to the doctor to get my port flushed and Amy needed to be somewhere to pick up her daughter.  So, big hugs all around and we parted, but we vowed to do this on a regular basis!  Love ya dear "cancer sisters" and am already looking forward to the next time!  They all 3 kept me busy and laughing and gave me support on a day that would have been harder for me....the 10 year anniversary of my dad's passing.  It was a good day!

Until next time....learn to laugh at yourself!  Don't be too serious!  And treasure those relationships that God brings to you.  I have met some amazing women because of this journey I had to take and they have enriched my life.  Even bad news can bring you great blessings....I never would have met Amy and Carin if it weren't for the cancer.  Find good in anything....even the bad....it's there! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Ten years.....my daddy has been gone for ten years!  It doesn't seem possible that it's been that long, but it has.  He passed away from small cell lung cancer on October 19, 2001, at the age of 79.

My daddy served in the Army Air Forces during World War II.   He was stationed at Freeman Field in Seymour, Indiana, and it was during this time that he met my mom.

Even though this is a tribute to my dad, he wasn't "complete" without my mom.  So, it's only fitting for her to be a part of my tribute to him.  They were married for 57 years and she was right by his side to the end, nursing and loving him.  Mom passed away last February.  After daddy died, she was very lonely.  She had been with daddy since she was a teenager and it was very hard for her to lose her "best friend" of so many years.  It was a very hard year for me last year and so much changes after both of your parents pass away.  I go back to my childhood and teen years in my memories, as they are some of my fondest memories.  Everything seemed to be so much simpler back then.  Sometimes I find life today to be confusing and many times I find myself just having to tell God that I just do not understand.

Daddy used to like to tell us about his service days at Freeman Field, where he told us many stories of driving an ambulance.  He was diagnosed with cancer in January of that year and passed in October, so we had less than a year with him after learning he had cancer.  He had always talked of his service, but I noticed he talked about it more than ever those 10 months and I could tell how proud he was of that time in his life.  He was also stationed down in Florida at one time....I think it was for a short time....and I am so proud of the military cards mom gave me after he died.  One was an identification card that Mom had to show to get on the base in Florida and the other was daddy's card to enter Freeman Field.  I will forever treasure these, as I know how proud daddy was of his service.  Freeman Field is no longer a base....it was turned into a manufacturer complex.  It's hard for me to imagine the time in life when men were actually stationed out there and living in barracks.  Mom and dad met at a local park.  It's a time that is just hard for me to imagine!

My daddy was raised in Tiff City, Missouri (near Joplin, Anderson, Neosho).  It was an itty bitty town that I have very fond memories of visiting every year.  I remember a grocery store, a post office and a tavern.  Did you ever notice that no matter how small a town is, there always has to be a tavern?  :=)  I remember the ice cold creek with the sharp rocks that daddy would take us swimming in...we loved it and always begged to go!  I remember the cookie factory he took us to where we could get a big tub of broken cookies!  As kids, we were in heaven with that big tub of broken cookies!  This was the time before children had so much....pop, candy, cakes, cookies....even pizza were a special treat!  Probaby the treat we got most often was ice cream!  Now these things seem to just be everyday life.   I remember a big hill, wolves, grandma and grandpa's outhouse and the nighttime "pot/pail", snakes and lizards, and their well on the back porch and the woodstove they cooked on.  I remember the linoleum floor that had a "hill" in it.  I remember no air conditioning and June bugs hitting the screen door when you went to bed. There was no running water, so we had to draw water from the well and heat it up to wash up.  As kids, we loved to draw the water from the well.  This was so different than the way we lived back home!  But, this is how my dad grew up, in a family of 10 children and I'm glad he took us there so often and gave us a glimpse of his upbringing.  We came from a small town in Indiana, but felt like big city folk when we visited there.  I mean, we had all the comforts of city folk...running water, indoor plumbing, a furnace, air conditioning. 

I will never forget my memories of the 12 hour ride to my daddy's homestead....back before seatbelts were a law.  I'm not even sure the cars were made with seatbelts back then, but I almost bet they weren't!  I don't remember any!  Just imagine 5 or 6 kids and two parents in a 2-door sedan.  We learned to curl up into a ball on the floorboard to sleep.  LOL!  I'm surprised we survived our childhood without all of the protections from the government that we have today!  I remember the restaurants/truck stops we would stop at to eat.  That was a "treat" for us as kids, as we grew up in a time where there was no McDonalds and if we had pizza, it was a frozen pizza....not delivery.  We didn't go out to eat, so stopping to eat at a restaurat on these trips was a "special treat" that has turned into a "special memory".  We never really went on any vacations....no Disney World or cruises or waterparks.....but I will always treasure my trips to Tiff City, Missouri!

When daddy was stationed here in Seymour, Indiana, and met mom and married her, he settled down here and this is where he stayed and raised his family.  But, he was not the first one in his family to live here.  His father, George Ruddick, had originally lived here before moving to Missouri before my dad was born.  I find that so wild that daddy would get stationed in the same town where his father came from and end up living the rest of his life here.  God had a plan! 

My mom and dad had six children....I was the third child and the third girl.  Daddy didn't get his boy until the fifth child and Randy was the only boy he got.  The rest of his five children were girls! 

 Daddy worked as a carpenter....many homes in Seymour were either built by him or remodelled by him.  He may not have went far in school, but he was very smart and an excellent carpenter and I was just amazed at what he could do.  I don't build houses, but I do like to think I got some of his creative juices, since I have always liked creating things!  Daddy was a hard worker, often working his regular job during the day and then working in concrete at night, to support his family.  As a child I didn't necessarily recognize the sacrifices he made for us, but as I grew up I realized just how much both he and mom did for us.  He was an honest man who cared about the job he did.  He (and mom too) taught me integrity.  I didn't get by with much growing up, but it has made me who I am today.  And to be honest, I didn't even try to get by with much.....yes, I was pretty much a "goody two shoe"!  LOL!   I grew up in a period where kids knew if they did certain things their parents would "kill" them.  LOL....nothing like a healthy fear of your parents to keep you out of trouble~!  Now, would they really "kill" me...no!  LOL!  But, just the thought of dissappointing them was enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. 

  As kids we played outside all day every day!  We didn't sit in the house and watch tv or play video games.  We ran and played hide and seek, or jumped off the garage roof (lol), or threw rotten apples or walnuts back and forth at the neighbor kids (hey, I'm sure they started it!  lol), or hop scotch or jacks, ghosty ghosty, and splits or made tents with blankets over the clothesline with clothespins and bricks.  We played "store" by going thru the trash barrels down the alley and collecting vegetable cans and cereal boxes, etc. to set up in the garage that we turned into our "store" .  We played til we were so dirty all over!  Our bath water turned black...lol!  I remember Juicy Fruit gum, and a twinkie left in the lunch box.  I remember hearing dad pull up out front when he came home from work and as soon as you heard that sound, you would take off running as fast as you could to greet daddy!  And if you were the first one there you got to see what he left in his lunch box and there always seemed to be a banana or a cupcake....and if you were the first one, it was your's!  Oh what memories!  As I grew older and looked back on that special memory, it hit me.....why didn't daddy ever finish that?  Surely he could have eaten it!  And in my heart, I know now that he purposely left that "special treat" in his lunch box for one of his kids!  And he always had a pack of Juicy Fruit gum to pass out to all of us, so none of us were left out!  We may not have had all of the "luxuries" that kids take for granted today....but we had everything we needed and we had love....we had so much love....and it just made the "special treats" that much memorable! 

I remember the van he owned one time, and the station wagon another time. I remember the pencil behind his ear, the cigars, the house on 4th Street that he bought when I was in second grade and where I spent my childhood and teen years and where he remained until his death, and the Hog Report on the radio waking me up every morning....LOL!  I remember him taking us camping and to the Brownstown races, the Homecoming Carnival at Brownstown, the cotton candy as we were leaving, and the County Fair.  I remember him liking the Ferris Wheel!  We may not have had fancy things, but daddy worked hard for us and was able to provide us with these special things.  I remember the brand new bicycle he bought me!  I may not have realized where that money for these special things came from as a kid....but I sure did when I became an adult!   Daddy worked hard for his family and he loved being able to "treat us".

I remember sitting as a family and watching television in the evenings.....Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Ed Sullivan....even silly shows like Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres!  Us kids didn't control the tv...our parents did and we watched what they chose.  And Daddy loved these shows!  And I remember my daddy's love of ice cream and the many times he would send me and Sheila to go get a gallon of vanilla ice cream and a can of Hershey Syrup!  Sheila was in high school and driving...I was in Jr. High and got to go with her.  And it always ended up with scooping the loop, a teen tradition back there....it was basically driving a certain loop around town, sometimes called "cruising".  It was what the teenagers did back then!  So, even though the store was only a few blocks away from home it would always take us at least an hour to go get that ice cream and I remember many times when we were flying by the seat of our pants to get to the store before they locked the door!  This was before "24 hour stores" ....this was when the store closed at 9 PM!  We always made it even though I don't know how (maybe we had done this so many times that the store clerks were waiting on us and taking bets on whether we'd show up...LOL).  Can you imagine us being gone for an hour and then going home empty handed!  And you know what I remember....I remember daddy always just sitting there patiently waiting.  He never got mad....he had to know why it took us so long, but he never said a word!  Looking back on it now, I figure he always knew not to expect us back until a bit after 9.  LOL!  He was such a patient man.

Everyone who knew my dad loved him!  He was kind hearted, he was mild mannered and slow to anger, he was honest, he was respected and as a child, he was the bravest man I ever knew!  He always made me feel safe, even against the window peepers.  I always knew daddy would take care of us.  He still was the bravest man I knew until the day he died.  He faced cancer and death as bravely as he faced life.  He never complained.  And he talked with me when he was sick and went through each one of his children by name and how we each one were in a "good place" in life.  It was important before he left us to know we were going to be ok.  That was my daddy....always thinking of us above himself.   He was a good man.  He was a good daddy.  He made me feel safe, secure, and loved.   I miss him so much!  It was so hard to see him age and even harder to watch the cancer rob him of his life.  And I had a hard time with anger after daddy died.  Both of my parents were smokers and I admit to being angry with them about it because it was robbing me of my parents too early.  It took me some time to forgive them.  I know that sounds terrible, but in reality, anger is part of the grief process and I felt like tobacco robbed me of more years with my parents!  I still feel like tobacco cheated me, but I am no longer angry about it.  I know it was an addiction and I also know they started smoking at a time when it was "popular" and the health affects were not known. 

I was blessed to have the best daddy a girl could have and I miss him terribly.  Ten years.....and it still causes me so much pain.  Things are just never the same after your parents pass away.  But, I have my memories tucked away in my heart and have my hopes of seeing both of my parents again.  I thank God for my daddy.
I love you and miss you daddy.  You never knew I got cancer too.  But, I know it would have made you sad.  You always wanted to protect your children.  Someday I'll see you again......

Until next time, hug your loved ones today and let them know you love them!

LOOK MA....NO BRA!!!!!

Today I went to Dr. Jackson for another "fill".....only one more to go!  Before I went, Sheila came over and snapped a "progress pic" for me.
550 cc
No bra....how awesome...and they "stay up"!  LOL! 
Yes, they are fake...but my real ones tried to kill me!!!!

This was my cancer side.  Look, you can even see the cleavage area!  :=)  Gotta lose the belly!  :=(  It's smaller than it was though!

This was the last time ....500 cc.  Can you see my growth spurt?  LOL!  Wait 'til you see me after today's "fill"!  I didn't want them too big (already been there; done that.....LOL, my kids would say "Mom, TMI!") but I worried about going the other way and making them too small.  But, I think I'm going to be pleased...they seem to be coming along "just right".

Yes, I admit that I'm obsessed with my breasts!  Yes, I've become a "boob flaunter"!  LOL!   And, for those who know me, they know that is soooo not me!  But, I don't see them as breasts as much as I see them as an example of modern medical technology.  It fascinates me and I feel fortunate to live in a time period when reconstruction is even possible!  That's why I'm so willing and eager to show them off....to let other women know the possibilities if they ever find themselves in this same position.  I was joking around about this with my sister tonight...about being obsessed with them (she gets to be my photographer every time I get them "filled") and she laughed and agreed with me....and I told her the "newness will wear off"!  LOL!  This is where I'm at in my life right now...first I was obsessed with my hair....now it's my breasts!  I figure once it's all completed, I'll go back to "normal".

 It's actually giving my sister the opportunity to see the progress in case she would ever decide she wants to go back in and have it done, so it's been good for her to see it first-hand.  We both can't wait to see the "finished product"...LOL...December!  Wow, what a Christmas present!

Ok,so today I took my handy dandy camera with me to the doctor's office.  I wondered if it would be too much to ask them to take a picture of him doing the "fill", and decided to just ask!  I have documented everything in pictures up to now for my own personal journal and wanted to capture this process too.  As I walked in feeling a "little funny" about taking a camera in with me....there they were!  Two women (obviously together) were sitting there and on top of the table between them sat a camera!  I had a good chuckle and greeted them and said, "Oh good, I'm not the only one"!  LOL...I felt better!  They laughed and told me they have also documented everything!  Whew, I didn't feel so weird approaching the doctor about it now!

First up I snapped a photo of the syringe he was going to use.  He has two of them set up (one for each breast) with 50 cc saline each.  They are very large syringes.....with tubing and a needle on the end (it's hard for you to see that in the photo).

As Dr. Jackson entered the room, I asked him if he'd mind humoring me and held up my camera!  He was so gracious and called his nurse, Cindy, in to be my photographer.  She took several shots of him doing it....didn't rush it at all...and was so kind about it.  I asked if she had ever taken a pic of it before and she said she's taken pictures, but never of him actually doing the "fill"!  LOL...well I was a first...imagine that!  Dr. Jackson said he thought it was a great idea! 

See this little tool?  I have no idea what it is called, but it is a device that he runs across each breast to find the port that is inside me on the expander.  Once he finds it, he is able to mark it with this little tool so he knows where to insert the needle!

Now, he has used this little tool each time for this and I never ever noticed the X that it makes in my skin until today!  X marks the spot so he knows where to insert the needle.  I find all of this interesting!   I don't know how I missed the X before....guess I just never looked down at it!

Now, without showing too much flesh, I cropped this photo to show you how he inserts the needle thru my skin and into that port so he can push the saline into the expander.  The tube goes into that syringe I showed you earlier.  I'm still mostly numb so it really doesn't hurt.  One stings a little and they can bleed a bit, but it's really no big deal.  Not as painful as it may look...lol!  If you ever do this and have a fear of needles....just don't look!  :=)

Then he pushes the saline out of the syringe through the tubing into the expander.  That's how it's done!  At first it was easy, but as the expanders have become more inflated with the saline, it is tighter and tighter to get the saline in.....so he literally puts the end of the syringe onto the chair arm to be able to apply the pressure he needs without putting a hole through the palm of his hand.  LOL....I don't blame him!

I hope this helps someone.  I debated on how much to show, as I'm so not into showing you guys any "nudie shots", so I hope I've done this tastefully enough.  I know when I wanted to know how things would be done, I searched the internet to learn as much as I could and a visual helped me so much.  So, my hope is that my visuals and explanations (in layman's terms) helps someone out there....whether today or months or years from now.  I am just amazed at what can be done!

My sister asked if I had any regrets doing the reconstruction and I can honestly say no.  But, with that being said, I did tell her that the first six weeks I did question my sanity...LOL!  It was a bit rough at first, but it wasn't just the reconstruction that was rough....I was also healing from the masetomy.  The tissue expanders were put in during the same surgery.  My breast surgeon removed the breast tissue and when she was done, the plastic surgeon stepped in and put the tissue expanders in....then they sewed me back up.  So, considering those things were put directly on an area that had just been cut out, I can understand why it was rough at first.  But I made it!  In my sister's case, if she would decide to have it done, I believe it would be easier for her, as she is already healed from the masectomy.  She would still have the discomfort of the skin and muscle being stretched.....but at least she wouldn't have the double whammy.  Whatever she ever decides, it is not a wrong decision.  Each woman has to choose for herself.  Like I said before, it was my hardest decision.  I felt like I could have lived flat chested and wasn't sure I wanted to put my body through more....but I have no regrets that I did it.  Not at this point anyway and I'm trusting that everything will go well with the next two surgeries and beyond.  At this point, I'm actually happy I did it, even though I do still have to sleep in a recliner surrounded by pillows.  Like everything else....this shall pass!

I must say I feel fortunate to have Dr. Jackson doing this for me.  He is so compassionate about it and I can tell he cares how it will end up looking.  I have every bit of confidence that he will take care of the extra skin, make them symetrical, and do whatever it takes to make them look as natural as possible.  He is a good doctor and we are fortunate to have him in our area.

So, that was my day!  Tomorrow I will go back to Dr. Venkatesh's office to have my port flushed.  I do this once a month and I can always tell it needs it because it gets harder and seems closer to the surface of my skin.  It just feels more uncomfortable, so I like having it done.  Plus, I get to see the girls in the office again!

Until next time....I urge you to be pro-active and learn as much as you can about any illness you may be dealing with.  And don't be afraid to ask questions!  I find the more I learn, the less fearful it is for me.  I hope I have helped someone today! 

Monday, October 17, 2011


Eight years....I couldn't believe it had been eight years since I'd seen my ex-sister-in-law.  Gosh, we were sister-in-laws for years and years....all through our child raising years, our children's marriages, some of our grandchildren being born...and then it happened.  A divorce.... but we vowed we'd always remain "friends".  But, something happened.  She got remarried, moved farther north from us....not far, just Indianapolis....but we just seemed to lose contact.  Then facebook came along and we reconnected!  Yay!  And last week while talking on facebook, we managed to find a day we could both be free to meet for lunch.  So, we both drove half way and met at the Edinburgh Cracker Barrel.

It was wonderful seeing Linda again!  She hadn't changed or aged a bit and looked exactly how I remembered.  We had so much catching up to do.....we actually had a five hour lunch!  We laughed together....and we cried together, as we shared painful events in our lives over the last 8 years, like the passing of our parents....her dad and my mom and dad.  After sitting there after eating and talking, Linda had the great idea of going outside and visiting from their rocking chairs....duh, why didn't I think of that? 

When we went out there, a man was in one of the rockers, working with some paperwork.  I wanted to find a stranger to snap our photo for us, but he appeared "too busy", so I didn't want to bother him.  But, just as soon as we sat down a couple came up to enter the restaurant and I asked the lady if she'd snap our pic, so she did! 

Well, Dale, the man who was sitting there doing paperwork was "miffed" that we didn't ask HIM to take our picture.  LOL!  After joking around with him a bit, I turned the camera on him and he obliged and I told him he was going on my blog!  LOL...I just love the people I meet in this journey called life.

As Linda and I parted, we vowed that we would not wait 8 years again.  I've told her if we'd get together more regular we could probably cut our lunch down from 5 hours to 2.  :=) 

More changes in my life!

Yesterday I talked about the "little things in life" and the changes that cancer has brought to my own life.  Well, I thought of a few more.  One that Linda noticed today was my fingernails!  Now, for those who KNOW me, they know I've bit my fingernails down to the skin and beyond my whole life....until now!  Now, Linda hadn't seen me in 8 years and I had "new hair" and "new boobs" and what does she notice?  My fingernails!  LOL!  She was amazed and said she didn't think she'd ever see the day I had fingernails!  Now, I can't explain why chemo seemed good for my fingernails, but they grew hard and fast.  I had read that chemo can turn your fingernails dark....but it was the opposite for me.....it helped my fingernails (plus the fact I didn't bite them....I guess I was too weak to bite them while doing chemo...LOL).

Make-up....another change in my life.  Now, when I was younger, I used to wear a little make-up, but never have been a heavy make-up user.  But somewhere along the line, I quit using it at all.....another "rut" in my life....I quit caring how I looked.  I know part of it was depression (which is another story for another day).  When I got the cancer and the chemo made me lose my hair and I was so pale, I turned to make-up again.  It brought some color back to my pale face at the time.  And now I find I don't want to leave the house without it. 

And jewelry....I'm not talking expensive jewelry....just costume jewelry.  With the chemo came my love for costume jewelry again and I was happy to discover that my double pierced earring holes were still there even after years of "no use".  I don't know why or when I quit wearing jewelry.....I just was not a big jewelry person.  I was an unusual woman.  While other women would want jewelry, I would rather have a crafting tool.  LOL!    But, along with the cancer and chemo, came my desire to wear jewelry again.  Seems like a strange thing for cancer to bring back into your life, doesn't it?  Maybe it has something to do with "control".  While I couldn't control what the chemo was doing to me and the way I looked, I found some type of control in make-up and jewelry.  I began to care what I looked like.  I think I tried to accentuate those things to override what the chemo was doing to the way I looked.  Does that make sense?  I began to care more about doing things to make myself "look better"....not so much for anyone else...it made ME feel better about myself!  I think you lose so much control over your whole life while going through cancer treatments that you look for things you can control!  Now, just like make-up, I hardly leave the house without some jewelry on!

Like I said yesterday....this isn't a "new me"....it's actually the "old me"!  Kinda like a "re-birth"!  It truly has turned out to be the "little things in life" that has brought me joy thru my journey!

Until next time.....reconnect with someone from your past that you love and care about!  It made my day!  Love ya Linda!  And do something for yourself to make yourself feel good!  :=)

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Cancer can change you.  I think my life had just got stuck in a
"rut", with me doing the same ol' same ol' day after day.  Do you ever feel that way?  The cancer struck this year and as I fought it and have begun to feel better, I find my life changing....for the better, I might add! 

For one thing, I have found myself depending on God more.....being closer to Him again.  I am "unchurched" at the time, but still have maintained my relationship with God.  He has never left me.  But, now I feel the last two years I've had to rely more and more on Him for answers and that my relationship with Him has grown stronger in the midst of the battle.  He can teach us a lot in the "valleys of our life" if we keep our hearts open to Him.

 I am learning to enjoy life again!  I'm learning to be more spontaneous and open to changes.  I don't sweat the small stuff and try to find the blessings in each day.  None of us are promised tomorrow, whether we have cancer or not...and I'm learning to live TODAY  joyfully and take advantage of opportunities each day brings!  Today brought one such opportunity and resulted in a spontaneous change of plans.  My sister, Kim, and her daughter, Sarah, were coming over to help me clean up outside of our house before the cold, nasty weather arrives.  But, as I took one step outside and realized just how beautiful it was outside, I had an instant change of heart that resulted in a change of plans!  It was too beautiful to work today....we needed to take advantage of the awesome day God had given us.  The yard work will still be there and I'm sure we'll still have some available decent days to work on it.  But, TODAY, we were going to take a road trip!!!  So, I called Kim up and told her to be ready and I'd pick her up and we were headed to Brown County, Indiana.....specifically, Nashville, Indiana!  Have you heard of it?  It's a tourist town that people visit from all over...little shops, awesome Fall Foilage (artists go to Brown County to paint the foilage)...just a real awesome place to visit in the Fall!  And come to find out, Kim and Sarah had never been there before!  It was a 45 minute drive and they had never taken it in!  That excited me even more, as I knew they were in for a treat!

We had an awesome lunch and even got to sit outside on their porch to eat it.  It was so yummy....look!

Grilled chicken and veggies.

Baked sweet potato.

Vegetarian Lasagna.

And the shops, oh my!  We got a late start since this wasn't a planned thing and most of the shops begin closing around 5....some stay open later.  Anyway, we didn't even make it through half of them!  Oh yeah, we are definately going back!!!  One of the first shops we saw was this Scrapbooking/Stamp shop....right up my alley!

There's all kinds of shops....you never know what you might find!

Speaking of....look what I found!  Now, those who know me, know I kinda have a "rubber ducky" collection around my pool.  LOL...wouldn't he be a great addition?  Yep, I'm 59 years old and still have a "kid" in me!

Fall and Halloween decorations were everywhere!

I was in my "happy place" today...I absolutely love the Fall!  The colors, the air, the smell of leaves....love it, love it, love it!

Fall was all over that town!  I don't think I'd like living in an area that didn't have the "change of Seasons".  Each one of them have their own beauty (yes,l even winter...lol)!

Kim and I found this bench interesting...it was made from the headboard and footboard of a bed!  Way cool!

We ended our day with a horse drawn carriage ride that gave us a little tour around the town.

Thanks to Cat (Kat?....I didn't ask her how she spelled her name...oops!) and Avalanche (our horse) for a great little tour of the town!  Kat was a sweetheart!  We enjoyed it very much!

We had a great time in Nashville and are already planning our next trip back.  They have a Playhouse over there and we'd love to go back and take in a Musical!  And, my good buddy, Linda, and I had already planned to go over for lunch one day.  I can't wait!

I thought of my mom today (she passed away last February) and couldn't help but remember the time we took her over there and she had such a fun day!  Mom could be a lot of fun and I have such fond memories of that day with my mom and a couple of my sisters.  We went in this one store that had all kinds of hats and we were trying them on and turned something so "simple" into a fun memory!  I'm so glad I take my camera everywhere!  I wouldn't have wanted to miss this happy shot of my mom!  She was laughing so hard that day she had tears in her eyes.  Good times that I'll never forget.....one of my favorite memories!

I love you and miss you mom. 

I'm enjoying cooking again!  I used to love to try new recipes and still loved collecting cookbooks.  I'd even ask for Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks (love them!) for Christmas and my girls just couldn't understand that request....they'd say, "but mom, you don't cook".  LOL!  They did have a point, but I'd still get the cookbooks because that's what I wanted and I'd read them from cover to cover, marking recipes I wanted to try "someday"!  But, after the kids grew up and it was just me and Larry home...it just seemed like too much trouble to cook for the two of us.  So, I haven't really cooked for years and even then, it's the "same ol' same ol'".  And now all of a sudden I'm enjoying cooking again and trying new recipes!  I tell my daughter it's the "new me"!  I don't think my son-in-law even thinks I can cook....lol!  I found an awesome facebook page called "Crock Pot Girls" where I have found tons of new recipes to try.  I'll admit that I am worn out in the evenings and don't even want to begin cooking...so the crock pot is the perfect answer!  And wow, I didn't realize how many things you could do in your crock pot...even desserts!  I thought it was only good for a roast!  Look at some of these yummy dishes from my crock pot!  My hubby is really enjoying this!  So am I!  I'll have to share some recipes with you!  If you're on facebook, go check it out.....look under discussions for the recipes (until Oct 31....then I'm not sure where they'll be)

Chicken and Dumplings...great comfort food!)...got my love of pepper from my daddy...lol!

Weight Watchers Taco Soup (thanks to Judy Conrady!)

Smoked sausage, potatoes, onion, green beans (My good pal, Martha, told me about this one!)

Killer Apple Caramel Cobbler with ice cream

Another enjoyment of life.....Garage Sales!  Yard Sales!  Whatever you want to call them!  I'm sure I got my love of garage sales from mom....I remember her going to them when I was a child!  She'd go with her sisters and now I go with my sisters!  Good times!  And you just never know what "treasures" you might find!

Kim and Sheila

Decorating!  Oh, how I had always enjoyed decorating for the Fall and Christmas!  But, like so many things, I had pretty much quit doing it.  So, it was so much fun getting out there and decorating the yard again this year.  I can't wait to decorate for Christmas and already have big plans to run greenery and lights down our split rail fence!

Hey, when you need a scarecrow.....LOL!

I'm more of a Fall person than a Halloween person (although I have such fond memories of Halloween as a child).  Now, my sister Kim...she's a total Halloween freak!  LOL!

These are just some of the things I'm enjoying again!  I tell my daughter, Jen, that this is the "new me"   ...but when I think about it, I think it is the "old me" who just got lost along the way!  Facing a life threatening disease can have a way of giving you a different perspective in life and it's brought me back to the things I've always enjoyed!  I feel like I'm out of my "rut" and am learning to enjoy life again!  And, it honestly is the "little things in life" that bring the most joy. 

Until next time....strive to be flexible...don't let your life get too scheduled and be a repeat of the day before....day after day after day.  Look for opportunities...be spontaneous!  Is there something you used to enjoy so much and just don't do anymore...like me and cooking?  Re-visit those things that always brought you so much enjoyment.  Live today like there is no tomorrow....because no matter whether we have a disease or not...no one is promised tomorrow!  Sometimes it just takes an illness to make us realize that!