Sunday, August 10, 2014

. . . Enduring, Encouraging and Everlasting . . .





Those are the words Scott included in his prayer, his blessing, yesterday at Bonefish Grill as we began celebrating our one year wedding anniversary a day early. You know us! We celebrate the day before, the day of and the day after! :) But seriously, Scott can pray the most beautiful prayers. I often tell him following his prayers how beautiful they are. He reminds me he just prays from his heart. But yesterdays? It was special . . . very special.

 As we sat there, outside enjoying the weather and beauty of the day, with a bit of a breeze (we even pretended we were at Wrightsville Beach), we began reflecting and talking about our first year. And as Scott described it, it has been “victorious!” And you know what? He is so right. This last year has been full of challenges, some more devastating than others, but through each one we came out victorious! We have endured, we have been encouraged and most of all we realize the love we have, and the life we live are everlasting.

Among the gifts Scott has given me in celebration of our one year anniversary, is a necklace with matching earrings and a bracelet symbolizing the Tree of Life. When I think of the Tree of Life I think back to the Bible to the tree in the Garden of Eden, which yielded food giving everlasting life (Gen 2:9; 3:22). Plus, it stood in the center in the Garden of Eden, reminding me God should be in the center of my life.

I also can’t help but think of the Tree of Life at the Animal Kingdom at Disney, the centerpiece in the park. The backstory tells us “once upon a time, no vegetation would grow on Discovery Island. There were no trees, no shrubs, no flowers, nothing. It was a barren piece of land. Then, one day, a tiny ant planted a seed and made a wish. He asked for a tree to grow – a tree large enough to provide shelter for all the animals. Magically, the ant’s wish came true and a tree began to grow -- and it kept growing until there was room beneath its limbs for all the animals from A (ants) to Z (zebras). And as the tree continued to reach for the heavens, the images of all the animals that took shelter beneath its shade appeared on its trunk, roots, and branches.”
But to me, the Tree of Life celebrates, life. And today, I celebrate my life, and thank God for sparing my life and allowing me to be victorious in the battle of breast cancer and to celebrate my life and one year wedding anniversary as the wife to Scotty Teague, my God-given love. Today, I celebrate my life as the mother to Austin, who continues to grow and become the man I pray he will continue to become.
The three of us have endured many adversities during the past year, but they have strengthened our faith and trust in God, as well as made us stronger, unshakable. We realize more than ever God’s love will sustain us and remain with us no matter what storms of life are sent our way.

Through our storms, we have been encouraged by His word, His promises and by the prayers and acts of support of our family and friends. And during our time of suffering, we realized we were “comforters in training" so we can comfort and empathize with others. The Bible tells us “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (Corinthian 1:3-4). To know God has a bigger plan for our lives than what we ourselves have in mind has been an incredible amount of encouragement when we have found ourselves in the darkest of valleys.

And finally, Scott and I know our love is everlasting . . . as children of God, our lives are everlasting. In order for something to be everlasting, you must have trust. And trust is what we do because of the faith we have been given. Love is meant to be experienced, not just understood. A hug, a kind word makes us feel good. Through our faith, we believe there is a reward for those who diligently seek Him, “Our ultimate reward is the revelation of our Father's everlasting love for us” (Hebrews 11:6). And for something to be everlasting, remember . . . it is never failing nor has an end.

Today as we celebrate our one year wedding anniversary I am grateful for “my” Tree of Life, as well as the year we were given . . . a year of endurance, encouragement and a confirmation of everlasting love and life.



 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, July 30, 2013, at approximately 4:50 p.m., I heard those three little words I thought I’d never hear. No . . . they were not “I love you.” After having a stereotactic biopsy the day before, my OBGYN called to tell me “You have cancer.” I thought I had been handed a death sentence  . . . the week before my wedding.

At first it didn’t really sink in. He began telling me he wanted to refer me to a surgeon as soon as possible. He felt confident we had caught it early and it was confined to a milk duct, but I would soon learn more about my diagnosis when I met with the surgeon. He told me there were a couple he’d recommend, but there was one surgeon he highly recommended. I told him whoever I could see the soonest was the one I wanted to see as I began pleading with him since I was about to get married. By this time, it was after 5 p.m. and his office was closed. But he assured me he would have his staff get on this first thing in the morning.

All of a sudden everything he had said didn’t seem to make sense to me nor could I remember it all. So I asked him if my fiancĂ© could call him should he have any questions I could not answer. He was very gracious and gave me his cell phone number.

After we hung up, I sat on the side of the bed trying to process it all. Do I call Scott? I thought. Surely he’d be getting off work soon. And about that time my cell phone rang. It was Scott. I was trying very hard not to break nor give off a signal of fear, and I apparently did ok. He wanted to know what he could pick up for dinner. I encouraged him to come by the house first then we’d decide.

Since I had had the stereotactic biopsy the day before, I had spent most of the day in bed as directed. Apparently there is a risk of bleeding within the first 24 hours so the less you do the better. So I slid back in bed, except this time I was sitting up, anxiously awaiting Scott’s arrival. Trying to decide how to tell him I have cancer. Cancer. The “C” word. Could I actually say it? I don’t know . . . my head was spinning! I quickly felt very nauseated. We should probably hold off on the wedding, I thought. But Scott has worked so hard to make all the arrangements . . . ugh . . . what to do? What not to do?

And Austin . . . Oh my God . . . what will Austin do if something happens to me? Scott could manage fine without me but not Austin . . . he needs his mother, plus, he’s been through enough. Maybe the surgeon will tell us it’s a mistake. Oh, how I pray we can the surgeon tomorrow!

By the time, I had this mental battle well underway in my head, I hear “Hey darlin’.” There is Scott. God he looked handsome . . . . He came over and kissed me. There was immediately a lump in my throat the size of Texas . . . I calmly told him we needed to talk and asked him to close the door. He did then knelt down by the bed and held my hand with that beautiful smile on his face. I looked him straight in his gorgeous blue eyes and said, “My doctor called . . . I have cancer.” The look on his face . . . he broke . . . bellowing, “Nooooo! Nooooo!” I held his head in my lap consoling him, trying to assure him it would all be ok. I immediately began trying to explain everything my doctor had told me, which I could not remember most of it. But the two things I could remember were, it was found in a milk duct so it was confined and apparently caught early.

I told Scott I had his cell phone number so he could call him later, and he did. After a few hours in and out and behind closed doors, I told Scott I wanted to tell Austin. For 10 years, it had just been the two of us, and I was always open and honest with Austin. Although we hadn’t told anyone else yet, I wanted him to hear it from me. So with the three of us piled up in my bed, we broke the news. A lot of it he could not comprehend, but the one thing I assured him was I would be ok. When I had my stroke, I told him I’d be ok, and I was. This upcoming battle would be no exception. I would and could beat it! Plus, this time we had one more on our team – Scott . . .

And a year later, WE have beat it!

Today, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, I celebrate my one year anniversary of being a breast cancer SURVIVOR!

For several months, I had imagined what this day would hold, this momentous occasion in my life . . . we’d have a big pink party to celebrate this milestone. But instead, Scott and I are headed to Nashville. Crum-Teague Healthier Solutions is a vendor at the Plum Expo, the National Women’s Survivor Convention at the Opryland Hotel. I mean  . . . who would have thought? One year ago today I’m trying to simply accept my diagnosis. Now, 20+ trips later to the Cancer Treatment Center of Chicago, having found cancer in my right breast initially then a more evasive tumor in my left breast, who knows the number of tears, scans, tests and vials of blood, five surgeries, four chemo treatments and the loss of hair, one year later I’m headed to celebrate with approximately 1,000 other ladies from across the country who too have conquered their battles with cancer. And yes, I have my “sparkle” on!

But no worries, I feel a “pink” party coming on soon!

In closing, Jesus honored God by fulfilling His purpose on earth. Remember, as believers, we should honor God the same way. When anything in creation fulfills its purpose, it brings glory to our Creator. “So God may you continue to use me to bring glory to you . . . God work through me,” Susan.

 

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

From One to Ten . . . Amen


First of all, THANK YOU for your prayers, as well as your thoughts, phone calls, texts, messages, etc. We greatly appreciated everyone’s acts of concern during my unforeseen surgery last week.

The last time I blogged was while I was on the plane on Thursday, July 10, headed to the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA) for my appointments with plans to return on Friday, July 11. My appointments were a result of the persisted pain, burning and numbness in my left hand and arm, which was also were beginning to affect my right side. It began about the middle of May. After my surgery the end of May, Dr. Chris Stephenson, D.O. took all the pain away through his miraculous manipulation, but unfortunately, it returned.

I saw him again during my post-op appointment the middle of June. Once again, Dr. Stephenson was able to help alleviate the pain to a degree but no entirely.

After returning, home the pain continued to persist and worsen. So Scott made me an appointment with Dr. Stephenson the first of last week for July 10 with plans to return home on July 11. One night, not ten. With Scott’s schedule and Austin’s football practice, he elected to stay home.

After I saw Dr. Stephenson on Thursday, he wanted to see me again Friday morning before I left. I was scheduled to leave the CTCA at 11:30 a.m., headed to the airport. Instead, we are sitting in his office with Scott on speaker phone as Dr. Stephenson wanted to get an MRI of my neck. Since his manipulations were not working, he was almost certain there was something else going on in addition to my neuropathy. Unfortunately, we could not get the MRI completed until 5 p.m. so he told Scott he was going to keep me an extra night.

While Dr. Stephenson began some manipulations to provide me with some temporary relief, I could hear my phone buzzing. When we were through, Dr. Stephenson looked at his phone and had a text from Scott, saying he and Austin were on their way. And my two missed called? You guessed it! It was my husband. We called Scott back and he was adamant they drive up so I would not have to be alone . . . that’s my husband!

The MRI took about two-and-a-half hours. As the tech was helping raise me up from the table, I looked in the mirror in front of me, expecting to see my glare but there stood Dr. Stephenson, texting the radiologist and neurosurgeon. I could not believe he was still there! He told me it appeared I had a couple of disks on the spine, which could be causing a lot of my pain but he would let us know when he heard from the other doctors and what the treatment options would be.

So, I returned to the hotel, checking in for the second time, had dinner, then became very fidgety awaiting the arrival of my boys! Scott had anticipated an arrival time of about 10 p.m. and within just a few minutes, they walked through the doors – I was sooooo excited to see them!

The next morning Dr. Stephenson called us with an appointment on Monday morning to see a neurosurgeon, someone who he trusted greatly. So we tried to enjoy the rest of our weekend despite the level of pain I was experiencing.

On Monday morning, we checked out of the hotel as we were off to hopefully find out what was going and what could be done. Dr. Alzate showed us the MRI on his computer where two disks were pressed up against the spine, not the nerve, referring to it as cervical degenerative disk disease. The treatment? An ACDN: Anterior Cervical Discectomy Fusion where he would remove the two degenerative discs in the neck area of my spine. The incision is made in the front of the spine through the throat area. After the disc is removed, a bone graft is inserted to fuse together the bones above and below the disc space. Scott and I discussed it and decided to move ahead with surgery. We had hoped to do this week (week of July 21) but Dr. Alzate was not available then; however, he did have an opening on July 17. Oh wait! July 17 . . . the day we were going to the beach for a long weekend. I was and had been in so much pain I agreed to the date just to get this all behind me/us.

After we left his office, we then followed up with Dr. Stephenson. While talking with Dr. Stephenson, he encouraged us to seek a second opinion. But, I’m thinking, my surgery is scheduled for Thursday!?!? A second opinion could take days, weeks. In addition, he decided to get an MRI of my left elbow just to make sure there was nothing else going on there.

Then Scott and I talked about and agreed he and Austin would return home then fly back Wednesday if in fact we were moving forward with surgery. And if not, then I’d use my return flight home. It was so hard to see them leave, but we had peace we were doing the right thing. Scott had several appointments he needed to follow up on plus Austin had football practice. But I have to give Coach Newberry a shout-out for his understanding and allowing Austin to miss practice on Monday. As he told Scott, “. . . family first . . .” And there are so many people there who we’ve become friends with, I don’t always feel like I’m 10 hours away from home.

On Tuesday morning Dr. Stephenson called to let me know I had an appointment with another neurosurgeon. Unbelievable! That quickly! This doctor had not reviewed Dr. Alzate’s notes so he was providing a very objective opinion. And guess what? Everything he saw on the MRI and his recommended treatment plan was in line with Dr. Alzate.

So I texted Scott to tell him their flight arrangements were being made so they could return on Wednesday. Our original plan was to have Scott and Austin come to the hotel on Wednesday morning, but the limo had to stop at the CTCA first. I told Scott that was fine. I was thinking in my head . . . if I can get ready in five minutes to be in the lobby to catch the hotel shuttle I could get there in time to surprise them! And I did! We could not have timed it any better.

Wednesday was filled with pre-op appointments then Thursday came rather quickly. When I tried to wake up from surgery, it was as difficult as always. I just don’t wake up well from the anesthesia. Given the type of surgery I had, Dr. Alzate normally admits his patients to ICU, but I did so well, I was admitted to the step down ICU.

Since they were still trying to get my pain regulated, they decided to keep me an extra night. This would allow me the opportunity to spend one night at the hotel before returning home on Sunday. And that’s what we did! We will return in three weeks for my follow up.

One of my biggest disappointments? My neck brace apparently does not come in pink. No sparkle, no bling, nothing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything given the comfort it provides.

Although I was originally scheduled for one night, which turned into ten, I was reminded of Genesis 1:10: “. . . and God saw that it was good.” It was amazing the turns and hills and bumps in the road the last week-and-a-half but God saw that it was good. I cannot remember a trip to the CTCA where I had the privilege of meeting so many people . . . the opportunity to minister to others, pray with them, cry with them. I was even able to attend a women’s breakfast group last Friday morning led by our chaplain, Toi Thomas. I was so blessed by this trip in so many ways . . . and had it been up and back overnight, I think about all the blessings I would have missed.

So, remember, it’s God’s plan and His timing, not ours, even if it goes from 1 to 10 . . . Amen. 
 
 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Can Three Months Turn Into Three Weeks?


Thursday, July 10, 2014, 12:45 p.m. EST

Just three weeks ago, we received the most anticipated news since “Our Pathway to Recovery” began almost a year ago: “We’ll see you in three months for a checkup unless you need us in the meantime.” Unfortunately, I need them in the meantime.

Yes, I am on a flight to the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA) in Chicago with pain in my left hand and arm. Last night, I woke up three times with unbearable burning and pain. I could have literally screamed at times. But instead, I cried as Scott walked me around the bedroom and in our bathroom, against my wishes, just hoping movement would alleviate some of it until the pain pill he gave me kicked in and would hopefully allow me to rest and go back to sleep. But it didn’t . . .

Although last night was the worst incident to-date, it’s ironic I will be seeing my doctor today at 3 p.m. (CST), and I’m just praying he will be able to give me relief, both short-term and long-term. If it requires weekly visits, more medicine, surgery, etc., I’m willing to do whatever it takes in order to get relief.

About the middle of May, I became experiencing a discomfort in my left arm. What I described Scott thought it could be tennis elbow. So he bought me one of those braces you were when you have tennis elbow. It felt good once I put it on, but it never alleviated the pain.
By the end of May, I began experiencing a lot of pain in my left arm and hand but no burning. I noticed it was worse when I was still, i.e. riding in the car, at night. We assumed my neuropathy had worsened as a result of my chemo. After my last surgery, the end of May, I was hospitalized not because of my surgery, but because of the pain I work up to in recovery in my left arm and hand. The next morning Dr. Chris Stephenson, who by the way, is the son of the founder of the CTCA, came to my room and but all performed a miracle. As he began placing his hands and working his fingers in various areas of my head, neck, shoulders, arm and hand, the pain left my body . . . literally. I felt like a new person almost immediately, and for a few weeks was pain free.

Unfortunately, the pain has returned during the last couple of weeks. I drop things, can’t open things, can’t close things, can barely hold on to a golf club at times . . . actually, I am typing this blog with my right hand as I can barely open my left hand/fingers from a clutched position. By the way, you may remember a blog I typed almost two years ago with my left hand as I was unable to use my right hand at that time following my stroke.

Monday I had a moment . . . on the number eight tee box. For seven holes, my left hand hurt so badly I told my friend and golf partner Paula I wasn’t sure if I could compete in the upcoming two-day tournament. I sat there and just cried in the golf cart. I was crying because here I am  . . . only a few weeks after we were at the CTCA . . . my life is supposed to be getting back to somewhat normalcy  . . . I’m only 44 years old . . . what is happening to me? Why won’t the pain just go away? Ironically, after I had “my moment” my golf game surprisingly came back together for the remainder of the holes.

Speaking of the golf tourney, we finished Tuesday, finding ourselves at the top of the third flight, but unfortunately, we were not able to hold on yesterday. Neither one of us played well nor did we sister-in-law well, but we looked good! After playing together several times in this tournament, for the first time, we actually wore matching outfits both days in the tournament!

But it’s amazing how quickly things can change . . . how you can feel ok one minute, not great, but ok (I’ll take ok) then but all be begging for relief of pain the next.

Nonetheless, I am encouraged that Scott, with God’s help, worked everything out so quickly for me to be headed to Chicago to see my team of doctors. My faith and trust in Him remain strong, and I have already prayed a prayer, declaring my healing. What I have to remember, it is His time plan and timing, not mine.

Oh! Did I mention? Today just happens to be mine and Scott’s 11-month wedding anniversary. Although we’re spending it apart, we realize what is important in our lives. We’ve also realized we often do what we have to do, not what we want to do. I cannot wait to celebrate our one-year anniversary next month!

Although I’m somewhat discouraged on several levels, I will continue to hold on to His unchanging hand as we encounter the next chapter on “Our Pathway to Recovery”.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Long Time No Blog


I can’t believe it’s been more than seven weeks since my last blog! Where has time gone??? There is so much I want to share with you:

Yes, I did play golf on my birthday! It was the first time Scott and I have ever played golf together. Remember, last March he had knee surgery then tore his Achilles in May then I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July. Afterwards, he and Austin took me to Applebee’s for my birthday dinner! Plus, I got two more Pandora charms for my bracelets! Love my boys!
 
 
 
April 3 I had the privilege to be the keynote speaker for our Community Fellowship for Women. My topic? “Not How, But Why”. This presentation allows me to share my testimony about overcoming inevitable adversities in life, as well as inspire and encourage others.

 
April 15 we officially kicked off our new business, Crum-Teague Healthier Solutions, with the first of many Healthy Living Seminars at our home. Along our “pathway to recovery”, Scott and I have been enlightened and very educated on healthier living. Yes, it is incredible to beat cancer, but it is even more important we learn how to take better care of ourselves! To that end, Scott began researching opportunities, which would enable us to share and help educate others about healthier living. After six months of praying and searching for another job opportunity for Scott, it was just divine that we were introduced to this business, whose mission mirrors the mission of the Cancer Treatment Center! Plus, we get to help others who have a need and/or desire an overall healthier lifestyle. It is the most positive and rewarding environment I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of. We are very blessed in many ways.

 
After attending the early service on Easter, we headed to the airport to make an unscheduled trip to the Cancer Treatment Center, April 20-21. I had had some health issues for several weeks that we felt needed to be addressed prior to our return trip planned the end of May. I’m very thankful we made this trip as it was very helpful and provided us with a peace of mind.

On Sunday, April 27, I had the pleasure to speak at Reformation Lutheran Church . . . both services! Again, I shared my “Not Why, But How” presentation.
 
 
The evening of May 1 we were conducting another Healthy Living Seminar at our home when two gentleman arrived we did not know, yet, our senior partner knew who they were. They sat in the back of the room, taking a few pictures, and at the end of the seminar, our senior partner introduced them as the Executive Vice President/CSO and the VP of Sales and Health Science from our company’s headquarters in Dallas, TX . . . OMG! Although we had only been in the business a few weeks, they had heard so much about us and our successful seminars they wanted to attend since they were in town. It was like an episode of “Undercover Boss”! Our senior partner has been in the business for eight years and told us he’d never had top executives at a seminar before. We were very privileged and honored they joined us, which allowed us the exceptional opportunity to get to know two people who we had heard of, read about and listened to on our company’s conference calls.


The following weekend, May 2 and 3, we had the distinguished honor to attend one of our company’s summits with approximately 200 other business owners. To my surprise, in only a few weeks,
 
we were awarded the “gold brick award” for achieving Team Leader, which is the first attainable leadership position in our company, by the two executives who were just in our home, plus our National Field Leader . . . WOW!
 
On Sunday, May 4, I conducted a book signing at Barnes & Noble. That was a great experience! Met a lot of people and signed some books and met some more people!

 
May 7 I held my “Saturday with Susan” at John and Ella Price’s new event center as we were going to be out of town on Saturday. “Saturday with Susan” is an interfaith group of ladies coming together to fellowship, as well as encourage and inspire one another.


After Austin got out of school on Friday, May 9, we headed to Atlanta for Mother’s Day weekend. My boys took me to my first Atlanta Braves baseball game on Saturday evening! It was Austin’s first MLB game! We had a wonderful, family weekend!



On Thursday, May 16, I met who I hope will become my publisher! I’m so excited about this opportunity and hope to hear from her by the end of next week! Eeeeeeeeeks :) Also on this day, I saw my book “Only to Susan” . . . on the shelf . . . at Barnes & Noble in Johnson City – I finally made a shelf! Yipeeee!


May 17-18 our business participated in the merchant’s corner at the Iris Festival! This was great exposure for us, plus, we got to see so many of you who we haven’t seen in a while!


Monday, May 19 was awards day at GMS for Austin and his last day of school . . . where did the year go???


In addition, I have been able to play golf on Tuesdays with our Link Hills Ladies Golf Association and yesterday was our first inter club match at Link Hills.


I continue to help lead the weekly Thursday Devotional Coffee Club at Station 180 (located beside Freedom Fellowship).


I know there’s a lot I didn’t include, but this is meant to be a blog not a book, right? Speaking of books, I failed to mention . . . I have submitted my manuscript for my second book! It is my hope to conduct a women’s symposium in September, at which time, I will release my new book!


So, here we are, Friday, May 23 . . . tomorrow we will be getting in the car and headed to Chicago. This is the first time we’ve driven, but we are going to take advantage of the time we have and stop and play golf along the way! Our first stop? My best friend Donna in KY! My first appointment is not until Tuesday morning, followed with a full day and again on Wednesday then my surgery is Thursday. We will see my plastic surgeon Friday morning and hopefully head for home shortly thereafter.


God has been so good to Scott, Austin and me. In everything, all things, we give him the praise and the glory. We realize to know God is the most important and meaningful relationship you can have. To know His goodness is inspiring. It fills us with hope, and it motivates us to live a life of meaning, confidence and purpose.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our lives the last several weeks, but I’m making a commitment to blog more often. For one thing, I enjoy it; it’s good therapy for me. And secondly, if there is something I share that can inspire and/or encourage one other person, just one . . . then praise God for the gift He’s given me.


And I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this Memorial Day Weekend. I know we all respect and care about all military men and women regardless whether they are currently serving or are veterans . . . thank you to my husband, Scotty Teague, and my father, Cecil Crum, for your service. But this Monday is about those who gave their lives for our country and our freedoms. Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women, who died in any war or military action. I ask that everyone remember that this weekend. May God Bless you and May God bless America.
























Monday, March 31, 2014

I May See the Beach on my Birthday - No Foolin'!


During my “pathway to recovery”, I decided months ago to set a goal in order to give me something to work toward. I told myself I wanted to be able to play golf on my birthday. There was a time, not too long ago, my goal seemed very ambitious. But I never gave up. That day has almost arrived. My birthday is tomorrow, Tuesday, April 1. Yes, April Fools’ Day. And yes, I’m going to attain my goal.

Not only do I intend to achieve this goal, I’m very excited I will get to play golf with my husband for the first time! That’s right . . . it will be the first time we’ve played golf together.

We met last February before he had knee surgery in March. While continuing to rehab his knee last spring, he tore his Achilles on the other leg in May, which put him off the course, track . . . everything except poolside, for the summer! And I haven’t played since my diagnosis the end of July.

Needless to say, I am VERY excited about stepping up to the tee box on number one. Plus, it’s going to be a beautiful day. But not only am I thrilled about playing golf, I am even more overjoyed about celebrating another birthday. This time last year, I never doubted I’d celebrate 44 plus many more. After July 30, 2013, I didn’t know . . .

For those of you who have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses you know exactly where I’m coming from. Just the word “cancer” sends you into an emotional orbit, wondering what, in my case, my son and fiancĂ© would do without me . . . it took me months to even say the “C” word . . . uuugh. It was so heart wrenching. Now I realize what a “gift” my breast cancer has truly been.

As you all know, in our household, we really do celebrate the little things. Like many of you, we too have come to realize the little things are actually the big things in our lives. But tomorrow, I have so much to rejoice about in addition to my birthday . . . God has blessed my family and me beyond measure. He has taken care of us the last several months when at times we didn’t understand His plan, but I never quit putting my trust and faith in Him.

God continues to bless me more than I could ever imagine, while He's continuing to fully restore and heal my body along our “pathway to recovery”.  I thank Him for allowing me to achieve my goal tomorrow, spending my birthday playing golf on the links with two bonuses: having Scott has my partner on an absolutely beautiful day. So, I’m not sure how many holes I’ll be able to play, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t know how many fairways I’ll see, but it doesn’t matter. Nor do I know how many times I’ll find myself on the “beach” (sand). Well, that doesn’t matter either, even if that's the only beach I see tomorrow.
 
Hmmmmmm . . .  Wonder where and what I’ll be doing to celebrate my birthday next year?

 

 

Monday, March 10, 2014

My "Pathway to Recovery" Continues yet We Choose to Celebrate!


So, I may have gotten a little excited this past week but good news is good news, right? I have beaten breast cancer but does that mean my journey is over? No . . . my “pathway to recovery” continues.

Forgive me if I thought my medical oncologist would look at me last Friday and say, “You beat it! You’re good to go!” Instead, she/they are going to closely monitor me as the highest risk for reoccurrence is within the first two years following treatment. In addition, since I carry the BRCA2 gene AND have a 1 in 10,000 mutation AND since I had breast cancer, in both breasts, I am at a slightly higher risk for melanoma. If you will remember, I had a melanoma removed in 2011, which was benign. I had two moles removed last spring, and they were benign. To that end, I have a history of melanoma, which creates even more concern.

I guess it is impossible for an oncologist to use the word “cure” since it implies, in this case, cancer would be gone forever. So, I suppose the best a doctor can do is say they can find no signs of cancer in your body at "that" time. Even though my surgeon told me he felt good he got it all, and there is no evidence, the fact remains there is always a chance some cancer cells are left in my body and survived. Even though I had chemo, there is still a chance.

I will be returning to the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Chicago sometime in May for an outpatient surgery, as well as meet with my gyno-oncologist and medical oncologist. They are trying to get a few things in check that are not in check at this time before scheduling me for my three month follow-ups.

So, when do we officially get to celebrate, popping the bubbly? Why not today! Today is a day of celebration! Yes, it is our seven month wedding anniversary, it is also a day of life, a day of hope. And when I say hope, I’m not talking about our wishy-washy maybes. In scripture, the word hope is an indication of certainty, meaning a “strong and confident expectation”. We have much to celebrate.

I praise God every day for the gift of breast cancer and how He’s by my side along our “pathway to recovery”. And for the many people, especially women, who He puts in my path every day, who bless me, I in turn desire to be a blessing to others. Even when the “waves are kicking me under”, (you guessed it! Stronger by Mandisa), I will continue to fight with all I have. I know God will continue to give me the fight within and the strength to face each day with gratitude, not fear or worry . . . making me stronger! Speaking of stronger, remember “our God is stronger, God You are higher than any other, Our God is Healer . . .” I love this song, “Our God” by Chris Tomlin. My God is healer. I have put my life in His hands and my faith and trust in Him. I desire to bring glory to God through all of my life, just not the good times, but in it all.

Before I left Friday, I asked my oncologist when do women celebrate their one year, five year, ten year, etc. survivorship? She said from the day they are diagnosed. Today is not July 30, nor was last Friday, but I don’t want to wait til then! Our "pathway to recovery" continues so let the celebration begin!