Posted in cancer, God, gratitude, hapiness, Post Cancer, Survival, Thanksgiving, volunteerism

New Year and a New Adventure

As 2013 dawns, I embark on a new and exciting adventure. For the past nearly 3 years, I have worked at SCB Marketing and love it. I interviewed and got the job within weeks of finishing my cancer treatment. Jeff and Josh hired me in 2010 and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve Brevard County in such a positive way. I have absolutely loved the work and the people.
Within the past year, it has become apparent to me and nearly everyone around me that I have a real fire in my belly to serve the cancer community. I have found my true passion is in that arena. I love making a difference for people who are facing one of life’s greatest challenges. It does not matter whether I am facilitating a support group or speaking and raising money, it all is incredibly gratifying and something I must do.
Within the next month I will be transitioning from SCB to assume my new position as Marketing & Communication Director for Space Coast Cancer Center and Space Coast Cancer Foundation and I could not be more thrilled.
I will be working with one of my personal heroes Dr. Richard Levine and his partners. We will be working on initiatives to improve the quality of care and resources for cancer patients.
I covet your prayers and support as I assume this new role. And I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank God for this wonderful opportunity. God is good all the time!! WOW!!!!

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Posted in cancer, God, loss, Post Cancer, Survival

My new LOGO………the Pink Phoenix.

 I have decided to make the PINK PHOENIX my new logo.  I feel it is an appropriate one  as for quite some time, I have felt that I have risen out of the ashes of a much different and previous existence.   If you toss in the radiation experience, it makes the correlation that much stronger.  In my work with cancer patients now, I see it time and again where new and better life springs from a previous one.  I am placing the legend of the phoenix here for those who do not know it.

There is a bird that lays no eggs and has no young. It was here when the world began and is still living today, in a hidden, faraway desert spot. It is the phoenix, the bird of fire.

One day in the beginning times, the sun looked down and saw a large bird with shimmering feathers. They were red and gold–bright and dazzling like the sun itself. The sun called out, “Glorious Phoenix, you shall be my bird and live forever!”

Live forever! The Phoenix was overjoyed to hear these words. It lifted its head and sang, “Sun glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone!”

But the Phoenix was not happy for long. Poor bird. Its feathers were far too beautiful. Men, women, and children were always casing it and trying to trap it. They wanted to have some of those beautiful, shiny feathers for themselves.

“I cannot live here,” thought the phoenix and it flew off toward the east, where the sun rises in the morning.

The Phoenix flew for a long time, and then came to a far away, hidden desert where no humans lived. And there the phoenix remained in peace, flying freely and singing its songs of praise to the sun above.

Almost five hundred years passed. The Phoenix was still alive, but it had grown old. It was often tired, and it had lost much of its strength. It couldn’t soar so high in the sky, nor fly as fast or as far as it was young.

“I don’t want to live like this,” thought the Phoenix. “I want to be young and strong.”

So the Phoenix lifted it’s head and sang, “Sun, glorious sun, make me young and strong again!” but the sun didn’t answer. Day after day the Phoenix sang. When the sun still didn’t answer, the Phoenix decided to return to the place where it had lived in the beginning and ask the sun one more time.

It flew across the desert, over hills, green valleys, and high mountains. The journey was long, and because the Phoenix was old and weak, it had to rest along the way. Now, the Phoenix has a keen sense of smell and is particularly fond of herbs and spices. So each time it landed, it collected pieces of cinnamon bark and all kinds of fragrant leaves. It tucked some in among its feathers and carried the rest in its claws.

When at last the bird came to the place that had once been its home, it landed on a tall palm tree growing high on a mountainside. Right at the top of the tree, the Phoenix built a nest with the cinnamon bark and lined it with the fragrant leaves. Then the Phoenix flew off and collected some sharp-scented gum called myrrh, which it had seen oozing out of a nearby tree. The Phoenix made an egg from the myrrh and carried the egg back to the nest.

Now everything was ready. The Phoenix sat down in its nest, lifted its head, and sang, “Sun, glorius sun, make me young and strong again!”

This time the sun heard the song. Swiftly it chased the clouds from the sky and stilled the winds and shone down on the mountainside with all its power.

The animals, the snakes, the lizards, and every other bird hid from the sun’s fierce rays — in caves and holes, under shady rocks and trees. Only the Phoenix sat upon its nest and let the suns rays beat down upon it beautiful, shiny feathers.

Suddenly there was a flash of light, flames leaped out of the nest, and the Phoenix became a big round blaze of fire.

After a while the flames died down. The tree was not burnt, nor was the nest. But the Phoenix was gone. In the nest was a heap of silvery-gray ash.

The ash began to tremble and slowly heave itself upward. From under the ash there rose up a young Phoenix. It was small and looked sort of crumpled, but it stretched its neck and lifted its wings and flapped them. Moment by moment it grew, until it was the same size as the old Phoenix. It looked around, found the egg made of myrrh, and hollowed it out. Then it placed the ashes inside and finally closed up the egg. The young Phoenix lifted its head and sang, “Sun, glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone! Forever and ever!”

When the song ended, the wind began to blow, the clouds came scudding across the sky, and the other living creatures crept out of their hiding places.

Then the Phoenix, with the egg in its claws, flew up and away. At the same time, a cloud of birds of all shapes and sizes rose up from the earth and flew behind the Phoenix, singing together, “You are the greatest of birds! You are our king!”

The birds flew with the Phoenix to the temple of the sun that the Egyptians had built at Heliopolis, city of the sun. Then the Phoenix placed the egg with the ashes inside on the sun’s altar.

“Now,” said the Phoenix, “I must fly on alone.” And while the other birds watched, it flew off toward the faraway desert.

The Phoenix lives there still. But every five hundred years, when it begins to feel weak and old, it flies west to the same mountain. There it builds a fragrant nest on top of a palm tree, and there the sun once again burns it to ashes. But each time, the Phoenix rises up from those ashes, fresh and new and young again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in bitterness, cancer, healing, stress, Survival

On STRESS…………..some levity on a heavy subject :)

STRESS

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’

She fooled them all…. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter”.

It depends on how long I hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem.

If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.

If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance.

In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress.

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced.

So, as early in the evening as you can , put all your burdens down.

Don’t carry them through the evening and in to the night… Pick them up tomorrow.

1 * Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue!

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4 * Drive carefully… It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5 * If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can’t push.

9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

10 * Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

11 * Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

19 * Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you to day.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY

20 *Go ahead and save the earth….. It’s the only planet with chocolate.

Posted in Chemotherapy, God, heart, Love, Survival, Uncategorized

Grace……..a poignant human portrayal. The story of John Bibby & I

Grace, we hear the word in church, at mealtime and when something unexpected and undeserved happens.  I have defined it for years as “unmerited favor”.  I have known for quite sometime that it is what God extended to us, “while we were yet, sinners”

Romans 5:8

New International Version (NIV)

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

But what does this look like on a daily basis and do we truly extend this to those around us, as we are called to do?

I do not have to look very far, in my life to remember the most poignant example of grace I have ever experienced, in human flesh.  It is the story of my boyfriend John and I.

Our story begins in the most unlikely way and like this:  In 2007 I had a very regular boyfriend (who became husband #2 John Smith).  We had been dating off & on since the fall of 2003.  I say off & on because this was a tumultuous relationship and we had significant “off times” when John Smith would become angry or upset about something and he would call off our relationship.  It was during one of these times, I met a guy named John Bibby online and we starting “hanging out”.  He was handsome, fun, very smart etc. but my heart was still wrapped up with John Smith.  John Bibby was a good distraction for me and was “never going to be a serious relationship”.  After all, he was nearly 10 years younger than me and I was seriously bound to John Smith.

Over the course of the next 18 months, when I was tossed aside, I would call John Bibby and we had some really good times, great conversations etc.  John Bibby also really bonded with my son Tucker.  They used to hang out and do things together, even without me.  John and Tucker really enjoyed  hanging out and  Tucker really needed a positive male role model.  John Bibby was always respectful, thoughtful,  helpful, kind, resourceful etc.  On an intellectual level, I knew he was everything I was supposed to want in a partner.  We really got along well……we never fussed with one another.  Never!!  But regardless of all this great stuff…..I was stuck on John Smith.  As soon as the phone call came from him, I would toss John Bibby aside and run back into my unhealthy relationship with John Smith.

In late 2008, John Smith and I were off again.  John Bibby and I were spending time together again.  Now, John Bibby has never been married or had any kids of his own, and one day I discussed the fact with John Bibby that I probably would like to get married again someday.  Some time in the beginning of February we had this discussion and I asked John Bibby if he thought he would ever consider being married.  Then I asked the question that lives in infamy.  Did he ever think he could consider me for a marriage partner?  His answer showed a lot of wisdom.  He said that if I could stay in a relationship with him for more that 6-12 months and I would stop running away, yes he would consider it.

Now get this folks………within a week of that conversation, John Smith asked me to marry him and I agreed.  I tossed John Bibby aside one final time, without much explanation except this:  I knew there was something wrong with me.  I told John Bibby through tears, one final time that I was back with John Smith and I would not be contacting him again.  I could hear the complete and utter confusion and devastation I was causing him.  As I hung up the phone, I was aware that I had just pushed away the one man who had been absolutely wonderful to me for the final time.

John Bibby emailed me about 2 weeks later and begged me to continue his relationship with Tucker.  I was now married and I sent back a 2 word reply, in all caps…….it said  NO CONTACT!!  That was the last time I heard from John Bibby.

Fast forward to the beginning of November 2009:   I am about 12 weeks into my cancer journey.  John Smith has bailed on the marriage and I am living in Melbourne, in a hotel room with my 17-year-old son Tucker.  I am trying to figure out where we are going to live, where I am going to get treatment etc.  I am in the midst of trying to get this huge puzzle put together of our life.  I was really concerned about Tucker, he was a senior at Viera High School and I could tell, he was really concerned about our life.  I just needed some space too……mentally just so I could cry, scream, think and pray.  I was not finding that space with Tucker there.  I was trying to put a good face on things and keep him from worrying.  That was not working out so well.  Then one day in my prayers about Tucker and our situation, I thought about John Bibby.  I knew he probably hated me (and rightfully so) but I knew he still loved Tucker.  I thought about calling him for probably about a week before I got the guts to actually reach out and do it.  My first attempt was actually an IM on Yahoo but he ignored it, thinking it was a bot and not really me.  I thought he was ignoring it because he hated me but I tried again.  This time he acknowledged the IM and said if it was really me, call him.  I no longer had his number so I asked him to send me his number.  He did so reluctantly, still thinking it was not really me.  Once I had his number, I stared at it for 3 days before I got up the guts to call it.

Our first conversation was very tentative and went something like this:      I said hello John, I appreciate you taking my call.  I really would not blame you if you hung up on me right now but I have a problem……… I told him about my recent cancer diagnosis, my subsequent separation and my current situation.  I explained to him that I was calling him to see if he would be willing to come and help me with Tucker.  I told him that he did not need to even see me, I would put Tucker out on the curb to be picked up etc.  Would he be willing to help me with Tucker?  And I took a big gulp and waited for his response ( I was sooooo scared at this point).  He said NO!!!  I was just about to thank him for taking my call, hang up and ball my eyes out when he stopped me.  He said, what I mean is……..I will not just hang out with Tucker, it is a package deal.  I want to hang out with you too.  What?  Really?  I then told him……”look I am shot out, I am NOT in the mood or inclined towards romance or anything like that”.  Do you understand that?  I then said, well, here is where I am going to be hanging out…….I am going to be getting chemo, my hair is going to be falling out.  I am hanging out at the exciting Cancer Center.  You understand that don’t you?  I am going to be sick and sleepy and not much fun for the next year.  Are you getting this?  This is where you want to be?  After I was so horrible to you?

He answered yes……this is where I want to be.  I have been a dead man walking for the past year and I can not believe I am getting this opportunity to help you now.  I guess given what I had been through with my husband, I did not dare to believe that it was true.  I protected myself and my heart for quite some time.  I kept waiting for John Bibby to run away like his hair was on fire, at some point.  I thought well…..wait until my hair falls out, then he will leave. ……….  Wait until I am very weak, helpless and no fun at all, then he will go away.  It was not until nearly March of 2010 when I had thrush so bad and I gave it to John for his 40th birthday (he was sooooo sick)…I thought surely he would run away then, but he never did.  He never left Tucker’s or my side for over 6 months.  He cooked, he cleaned, he helped Tucker get the best grades of his academic life, he taught Tucker how to drive.  He brought me food and drink when I was weak and slept for days on end.  He took me to all of my appointments (and there were hundreds).  He sacrificed himself financially to be there for me through it all.  What do you do with a man like this?  I tell you what you do………you love him back.  I finally have allowed myself to have the partner I have always dreamed of.

This portrait I have just painted is the closest thing I have ever experienced God’s grace, in human form. John Bibby would have been well within his rights to tell me to “go fly a kite” when he heard from me in November 2009.  No one would have condemned him if he did so…….myself included.  But he was compelled by his decency and love for me to extend himself beyond what was common.  This was an uncommon act of GRACE!!

I thank God for John Bibby daily.  We still don’t fuss with one another.  I have NO DOUBT of his love and devotion to me.  And at this point, I have had the opportunity to give back to him uncommon support when he has needed it.  He does not doubt my love for him either.  We have weathered one of life’s most harrowing storms together, it has made our bond incredibly strong.  He is my greatest supporter, in whatever I choose to do and I am his.  This is the way it supposed to be.  It is because of this large measure of grace I have received, that I am able to extend myself in uncommon ways.

Thank you God for your grace & mercy, it is new everyday!!  Thank you for the gift of a great friend and partner……..John Bibby!!

Here is a Poem John Inspired me to write:  It says it all.

A Caregivers LOVE………by Dawn Faust

by Dawn Faust on Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 7:28pm

 LOVE sits beside me in a chemo chair

He says I am beautiful without any hair

He smiles reassuringly when I am afraid

He gives to me peace tho nothing is said.

LOVE brings me a drink

And gently kisses my cheek

He says that he loves me

And yet does not speak.

LOVE watches everyone

That works over me

My vigilant sentry

To the highest degree

LOVE  brings me home

He tucks me in bed

He checks on me frequently

He kisses my head.

LOVE wakes me for food

To help keep me strong

He fusses and fetches

At times all night long.

LOVE is not angry

He is patient and kind

He is always helpful

And does not mind

LOVE continually gives

Without self-regard

It is not a burden

It is natural, not hard

LOVE does not keep track

Of all that he’s done

All that matters to him

Is the battle be WON.

 God Bless the caregivers………………LOVE = John Bibby.


Posted in cancer, Chemotherapy, faith, friend, God, Grace, help, Love, Post Cancer, Survival

Help my friend Keri

I met Keri when I was still married to John Smith, I hired her husband to drive for our company.  I was diagnosed in August of 2009 with breast cancer and Keri was diagnosed 6 months later with cervical cancer.  Both of our husbands departed our cancer journeys but we have remained in touch and supportive of one another.  She is in MD Anderson, in Texas right now where she is fighting for her life.  Her attitude Inspires me…..she is incredible.  If you would like to help Keri, let me know.  She needs much prayer, support and any money you may feel moved to give.

We walked this morning to raise money and support.  There were at least 150 people who walked/ran.  It was great!!

Read below:

In October 1, 2011, both Family and Friends of Keri Morrissey will host a walk/run in her honor to help support her fight against Cancer, followed by an afternoon barbeque at the Dog N Bone British Pub, Cocoa Village. Keri is a 33 year old, single mother of two beautiful children, Jillian (age 9) and Jake (age 5). (Pictured)
In the spring of 2010, Keri was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Cervical Cancer and after an intense treatment program that included chemotherapy and both internal and external radiation, Keri was declared cancer-free on October 25, 2010.

During a recent check-up on July 18th, doctors advised Keri that an area of concern was discovered and further tests would have to be run to conclude if her cancer had returned. Unfortunately, the cancer did return and the tumor is large and growing in an area that has already been radiated. When cervical cancer recurs this quickly, it is a sign that the tumor is very aggressive and should be treated as such.

Doctors have set her treatment plans, which include major surgery for 8-10 hours and require the complete removal of her pelvic organs. This procedure will be done at MD Anderson Cancer Treatment Center in Houston, Texas at a substantial cost to the family. We are reaching out to our local community, hoping to raise money for Keri and her family to offset the cost of travel, hotel expenses and additional medical costs not covered by insurance. She will need to travel to Texas on a monthly basis for further treatment after the surgery and will be required to cover all expenses associated with these visits.

We need your support to organize this walk/run and/or BBQ on October 1st!! As a sponsor of this event, we will place your company’s name/ logo on event t-shirts as well as any correspondence/ signage associated with this event. We anticipate 250 participants.

We do hope this is something you might be willing to consider. By donating to this family, you will be touching more than just three lives. You will provide hope and relief to a family that is facing a great life experience at their doorstep. Any donation is greatly appreciated, as every dollar generated will go directly to the family to assist with their incurred medical expenses. Should you have any questions, or need more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at the information below. Thank you for your willingness to support Keri in her fight for a cure.

Posted in exercise, Post Cancer, Survival, Uncategorized

Exercise is vital to Survival………….

Exercise………defined by my oncologist, Dr. Richard Levine is 30 minutes of elevated heart rate.  That means getting your heart rate 50-60% above the resting rate for a 30 minute sustained period of time.  Dr. Levine recommends all cancer patients who are able, do this at least 5 times a week.  He also states that by doing this cancer patients have a 30 % benefit.  They are 30% less likely to have a recurrence of cancer by exercising 5 times a week.

Chemotherapy only gave me a 28% benefit.  By enduring the rigors of chemo, I got 28% less chance of a recurrence of my breast cancer.  So guess where I am at least 5 times a week?  I am at the gym exercising. The 30 % I get from exercising is HUGE!!  And on the days when I just don’t feel like it…..I think of the chemo chair.  I would much rather be on the treadmill, or elliptical trainer than in the chair.  Motivating myself has become quite easy.  And I share this with you to help you realize just how important exercise is.

If you are NOT a cancer patient…….you get the 30% applied to your non cancer status and prevent an occurance of cancer to begin with.  Something to think about the next time you want to blow off the gym  🙂