Nine-Year Cancerversary Comments from Phyllis Holder, Founder Sisters4Cure

The following remarks were prompted by yesterday’s post, “Nine-Year Cancerversary.”  It was  written by Phyllis Holder, my long-time breast cancer mentor and founder of Sisters4Cure.  I so appreciate and love this phenomenal woman who has inspired, uplifted and guided me throughout the journey.

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God bless you Ms. Yvonne. I love you so much. I remember the gift basket I gave you when we first met. It was overflowing with encouragement, prayers for strength and lots of love.
I couldn’t believe that Pam (and the rest of your family) trusted me enough, to turn you over to me. Combining your journey with mine has given me one of life’s best rewards.
The poem I wrote for you. The courage you mounted on wings of prayer. And grace and mercy to stare down the type of breast cancer, triple negative, that 9 years ago we knew damn little about. Just that it killed black women. No need to add the most. In all things breast cancer, black women get the short stick.
God knows I rejoice in the extra time given by our Father who loves us dearly to you, me and every woman {and black man} we have prayed for and shared strategies with. Our Father who loves us dearly said live life to the fullest. The amount of extra time? We wake up gratefully one day at a time.
Happy Canceversary Yvonne Thomas! Salute! Keep smiling. Stay woke. And keep your feet on the path. Amen and amen.

Nine-Year Cancerversary: Living with Breast Cancer

On  a cold, snowy, early February morning,  in 2008, I noticed a large lump on the left breast.  My first thought was breast cancer.  I called the Eldest Daughter  and described the lump.  Using the voice I had grown accustomed to hearing after working in her medical practice for more than eight years, she calmly said, “breast cancer doesn’t usually present in this manner, but I will take a look before my first patient arrives.

Shortly after starting the exam,  she walked out without saying a word.  I waited on the exam table for about twenty minutes before I went looking for her.  I found her in my Youngest Daughter’s office.  She was talking on the phone and the Youngest Daughter was crying.

I asked the:

  • Eldest Daughter, “Why did you walk out in the middle of my exam?”
  • Youngest Daughter“Why are you crying?

Fear of the unknown best described how I felt when the Eldest Daughter said, “Mom, I just scheduled an appointment for you at the Women’s Health Center. I felt something unusual and want you to be evaluated there.”

The mammogram, ultra sound, biopsy, and needle biopsy all confirmed breast cancer.  On the first visit with my oncologist, I asked, “How is this possible? I just had a clean mammogram five months ago.”  I am not sure if he answered the question, but I clearly remember:

  • the diagnosis of Stage 1, Triple Negative Breast Cancer, and
  • him cautioning me to not search for answers on the internet.

Over the next eight months, I complied with the oncologist’s treatment plan; which included a lumpectomy; chemotherapy; radiation; and staying off the internet.

While in treatment, I connected with a local breast cancer advocacy and support group.  I am grateful to the women in this group as well as its founder and my mentor, Phyllis Holder.  They helped me to move from:

  • thinking of myself as a victim of breast cancer to
  • becoming an advocate for breast cancer awareness in the African-American community.

Even though miles separate me from the women in this group, I continue to support their programming efforts and it’s comforting to know that they are there for me..

Nine years later, in 2017, it’s a warm, sunny February afternoon in Orlando, Florida, I am:

  • cancer-free  with a loving family, supportive friends;
  • blessed with the gift of self-awareness and self-love; and
  •  worthy of living life to the fullest after my breast cancer diagnosis.

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I Need To Say This…

Today, as I perused my WordPress Reader, I came across this post and it touched upon that which clouds my mind with the election of #45 as America’s new leader.

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Donald Trump is an idiot.

Who constantly speaks in superlatives the way he does?

Who repeats almost every word and phrase as if talking to morons?

Who brags about themself the way he does?

Who justifies themself so much and contradicts themself so often?

Who lives in cloud cuckoo land and pretends it’s real?

If he’s not actually a two year old then he has to be an idiot.

America, for God’s sake, and ours, get a grip.

You have an idiot as a leader.

Or a two year old.

Neither of which is suitable to make decisions for a country.

I’m not being mean. Truly, I’m not.

I’ve taught for almost thirty years and I can honestly say, hand on heart, I’ve never come across the most backward child who couldn’t communicate more effectively. Even if it was only in pictures. Or they were mute and signed. They made…

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New Experience: Aromatherapy Blending Workshop

It’s a new year and last week, encouraged by the ELDEST GRANDDAUGHTER, I ventured way out of my comfort zone to explore a new experience.

AROMATHERAPY BLENDING WORKSHOP

Over the years, the ELDEST GRANDDAUGHTER has blended and gifted me with different essential oils and sprays for relaxation, sleep, and to control my pain levels.  When she suggested going to a 3-hour Aromatherapy Blending Workshop, my immediate response was “sure sounds like a fun outing.”   Saying no to the grandchild that carries my name and shares my birthday has rarely happened.

The workshop was held at one of my favorite places to visit in Orlando,  The Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens.  Just in case the class wasn’t a good fit for me, I took my IPad and camera.  The backup plan was to politely excuse myself, the Eldest Granddaughter would complete the workshop, and I would tour the gardens.

Well, the opposite happened.  The class peaked my interested and, with or without the Eldest Granddaughter, I plan to attend the next scheduled workout.

During class, I created a recipe and blended my first essential oils.

MASSAGE OIL FOR PAIN RELIEF

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I left the workshop newly-educated and newly-converted.  I plan to dig deeper into creating and blending essential  oils for self-usage as well as gifts for friends and family.

After the workshop, I was able to take a quick walk around the gardens and captured a few photos.

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ON A JOURNEY: TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST

Took a six month break from blogging; and, I return re-energized and re-invigorated.  Grateful for this break.  It allowed me to reconnect with family and friends as well as SELF.

While away, I spent a great deal of time BEING STILL, GOING WITHIN and SEARCHING for the right path to follow in order to LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST. Not sure what will cross my path on this journey, but I am open to those things that bring LOVE, PEACE,  and HAPPINESS into my life.  Though 74-years-young, I believe there are still new:

  • things to learn;
  • people to meet;
  • places to visit, and
  • past memories to record.

I plan to use this blog as the platform to:

  • Share life experiences; and
  • Store memories because some are fading.

I LOVE TO CAPTURE NATURE PHOTOS

Two years ago dissatisfied with the photos captured on my IPhone, IPad and Canon point-and-shoot camera, I gifted SELF with a Nikon 5200 Digital Camera.  Some in my family, I am sure with good intentions, didn’t see the value in a 72-year-old grandmother purchasing, “such an expensive camera.”

Since then, I drifted through online photography courses as well hours of reading through different photography books including, “Nikon D5200 for Dummies.”

Last week, I attended a three-hour class, Photographing Camellias, which was  held at one of our local botanical gardens.  I went to the class with our 25-year-old granddaughter, who is with us for an extended visit,

Fessing up! I was a bit intimidated by the other attendees.  I came with my granddaughter and Nikon 5200 Camera.  They came with their camera along with a lot of different  equipment and supplies. Things that I had never seen before.

Minutes into the class, it became clear:

  • My skill set was far lower than the others attendees, including my granddaughter; and
  • This class was too advanced for my skill level.

Determined to make it a positive learning experience, for over three hours, I:

  • Enjoyed the beauty of the Camellia flowers;
  • Captured photos;
  • Observed the instructor and other attendees;  and
  • Questioned those things that I did not understand.

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Whle I enjoyed the photography class and the beauty of the Camellia flowers, watching my granddaughter as she took photos brought so much LOVE, PEACE AND HAPPINESS INTO MY LIFE.

CHERISHED MEMORIES

PHOTOGRAPHS BY: SeasonedSistah2 (Yvonne)

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Chelsea Yvonne King

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