About Me...

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In a nut shell : I'm a wife, a full time working mom, a teacher, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a decade long breast cancer survivor, and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Roller Coaster Ride

Can I scream yet? Just once? Alright, I will just let out a loud AH! Ok. Ok, I'm good now, really. I just have to say it for sanity's sake....life is unpredictable, crazy and completely off the wall most of the time. This is exactly where I find myself this morning...

Last night I finally slowed down following Christmas .I have been moving full speed ahead since the Monday before Christmas...cooking, cleaning, shopping, decorating, wrapping and treatments. Finally I have had a few minutes to breath. Last night I was feeling pretty good. My house was tidy as best as can be expected with 2 boys home and a tree sitting in the living room. Diner was cooked, and cleaned up. I had a movie in mind I wanted to watch after I took a nice long shower.

It was after my shower I noticed it. I normally check out my breasts several times a month,making sure there are no new problems, i.e. skin changes, lumps. But this past month has been an exception to the rule. It's Christmas month, life has been crazy busy and I just let it go .I'm in remission right? Why should I be overly concerned about anything anymore? All I can say is Christina,where have you been hiding? What have you been thinking? Get your head out of the clouds and listen up! You think you are out of the woods? Quite contraire darling. Quite contraire.

So the roller coaster ride just got nasty again .Maybe just a bump or two, I hope. Last night when I looked into the mirror at my reconstructed breast I was shocked by what I saw. My arm was swollen, my "breast" (if you want to call it that) was enlarged, red, with a bubbly rash across my incision line. The same spot my cancer was found originally. My heart just stopped and I felt as if I could not breath for a second or two. I know this sounds like self pity, but my life flashed in front of me. I felt a bolt of panic set in for just a brief moment.

Within a minute or two I had hold of my emotions and figured it was nothing too bad. How bad could it really be? I thought it would go away. I waited, and then waited some more. By this morning I was hopeful. But again I was starring at the same problem as the night before. Originally I was scheduled for IVIG today, but after realizing I had to deal with this new issue I canceled it. I knew I need to make a few calls. I called my gyn to see what she thought. She said call your oncologist, but to call her back if I didn't get anywhere. So I called my oncologist again ( I had already done so) but as my gyn had instructed me to, I kept calling because 'this was urgent'. My one big problem is I do not like to be pushy, so I end up waiting and waiting. About an hour after my conversation with my gyn's office they called me back wanting to know if I had heard from the oncologist office yet. I hadn't.Yep, you guessed it! She wants to see me right away. Of course she does. Why would this be any less an issue than anything else in my life. I only thing I can say is I know I am in good hands.

Waiting is the worst for me. I remember it so well during my " Nothing is wrong" period before the cancer storm hit me three years ago. So I do not plan to sit around and wait. I am going to keep living, doing and moving until I have an answer and even then I do not plan to stop my life for anything. Denial? Maybe, but I do have a life to live regardless of the situation. So I am going ice skating with my boys. We had already planned to do this during their vacation. Dr. S's office is just a few minutes walk from the rink, so I can spend time with my boys and see the doctor. What else is there to do? Sit, worry, panic? No, no, none of those things do me any good. So I will keep busy. I know this now is a wait and see situation. What else can I do? So I am living as if I have no worries. I was right here in the same boat 3 years ago when I found my first lump, in the very same spot. The waiting is the worst, so I am not going to allow myself to be buried by all the what if's. I plan to enjoy my boys and this time I have with them before they return to school. I will celebrate the New Year and continue with my life as I know it...complete and full.

So just keep me in your prayers? I can't ask for more. I am in His hands.

I saw my doctor today and I am finally having my breast MRI tomorrow.She thinks there is at least a leak in my implant. It is enough for me to just pull my hair out. I have been saying that for a long time. Been told nothing was wrong, let it be. So now here we are with this! Ok now I feel better. I love my gyn, she is just great! After all this she is sending me to another ( make that my 3rd) plastic surgeon to have this sucker taken out! I will let ya'll know when I have more info.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Her Legacy...

I was reminded today of the loss of a dear friend. Just the thought of my sister in arms, brings both tears and a smile to my face, both sadness and joy in to my heart. I took pause last week, and again on Christmas day, and yet again today.This year marks the passing of one very dear to us all. She was a beautiful soul, a fighter and courageous to the end. Her name was Kim ,she was and is still my hero.

When I met Kim I was in a low place. Not to say I didn't have hope, I did. But I was lost, wandering in the land of the beast. I had not yet met a fellow survivor along my path. My journey up till that point had been one of solitary struggle. Then she found me, and I wasn't so alone. I had someone to talk to, someone to lean on and to let lean on me. Kim was there shining so brightly you could not help but smile. As soon as I opened my heart to her I had a hand to hold.

I meet Kim in J Land. I came across her blog, and found her to be spunky, witty and ready to take on the beast we shared...breast cancer. Her humor was a breath of fresh air. Kim's life was an open book we all read, overflowing with a deep love for living and those she held close. Kim was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend. She was my friend, a sister in arms, a pink warrior through and through. I loved Kim. She taught me more than words could ever express in the short time we shared. I still have to remind myself she is gone. I can still feel her sometimes as I sit at my keyboard writing an entry. I feel her loss deeply, at times I still grieve her short life. I long to read her written words, to know her insights and to ask her what her thoughts are. I miss Kim, as we all do.

Kim was a light. She was a warm, welcoming spirit. Her life was a guiding force whose light burned out way to soon. I know she will never leave us completely. Kim gave us all something of herself. I hold her memory close. I feel her loss every day. Yet, I know she would tell me to live, to laugh and to fight harder. It is those times I feel the desire to celebrate the beautiful life she lived.

Some may call her an angel, but to me she is much more. She is a bright shining star guiding us all through the dark night and deep waters. I miss her more each day, and yet her legacy lives on within each of us who knew her. Kim, left us all suddenly, and to this day I can feel the sting of Indigo and Mary's news... Kim was gone, lost to us here on earth. Tears still burn my face when I remember the day I opened the email. I felt as if I had been slapped across the face.

Kim would tell me not to give up, to fight, to throw myself 100% into the course of living my life as fully as possible. She would offer her hand, no matter how terrible she may feel. Kim was a fighter, a true warrior. Kim could raise her sword and charge full steam ahead. Kim taught me to be brave and to stand up for myself. So I pray I can do the same for all who need a hand. I pray I can continue to fight this beast for both of us, for Kim and for myself. Kim faced the beast as only she could do without regret. Kim felt the pain, she worried but she endured. In a world full of doubt, I hope we too can rise above the fear and offer others Hope just as Kim did. This coming year when October rolls around and we remember those who have lost their fight with breast cancer, remember Kim. When I walked this past October I thought of Kim, of her legacy to us all and the hope of finding a cure. Now I walk for Kim, as I walk for myself and all those who are still fighting this beast. Our battle is not lost, yes, we have lost a comrade in this battle, but we must still press on. In my own life, my own journey I know I must raise my head up, and keep walking this path, following this journey. No words can heal the pain of losing a loved one, but there is still hope. There is always hope. Somewhere Kim is calling to us all, to trust and to have faith and to allow our hearts to guide us.

So today I choose to dance even as tears fall down my face. I will lace up my pink dancing shoes and let the music play. I will dreams and see the world through my children's' eyes. I will hope, trust and believe. I will laugh and I will shout at the beast. I will dare it to come for me and stare it in the eyes. I will chose to be a pink warrior, a fighter and a survivor. I honor Kim today and every day I am given. I celebrate her life and her joy. The miles may seem longer than they have ever been before but we will overcome. Kim is still here with us,we just have to allow her warrior spirit to lead us onward. Be encouraged my friends...we may not have chosen this life, but we do own it. We can live every minute as it was the last or we can sit around and wait for death to come. Don't we have an obligation to seize the day? Sure there may be days the road beneath us feels like broken glass, yet the pain we feel reminds us we are still alive. Isn't the sun still shining in the sky above us? Don't we have the gift of living in this moment? So celebrate all you have been given, pain, worry, joy, hope and life! Honor Kim and all she has given us by living completely. So let's make her proud of how we have chosen to live our lives. Let's find a reason everyday to be thankful.

I wish we could wake up and know this was all a nightmare, but we are awake .I know there is no hiding the pain we all feel. We hold a void in our hearts, but Kim's love for us all is still there. She is holding out her heart ready to fill the emptiness. As long as we remember Kim, her life, her struggle and her gift of insight to us all, she is forever with us.

Kim, I miss you. I always will. I am trusting in God's promise... I will see you again, someday. So until I am called home, keep your star shining brightly for us all. Until then my dearest friend, I will keep dancing.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Joshua's Christmas Wish...

Christmas is here. The season is not just around the corner anymore. No, Christmas is in full swing .Homes shimmer with colored lights and streets are beautifully adorned with wreaths of red and green. As for the our home, well we are ready to usher Christmas in. Our tree is decorated , a wreath hangs on our door and the outside lights are burning bright. All our stockings are hung, including the dog's, by the fireplace and Micah's train is steaming strong around the bottom of our tree .We are definitely ready for jolly old St. Nick to arrive and to celebrate the birth of Christ.

As all families do, we have our own traditions. Every year, no matter how old the boys get, we go to the mall and visit with Santa, we bake cookies and drink some hot coco. We take in the sites of Christmas, together, as a family, and sing Happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas Eve. We go out and look for our tree, string lights and let the boys place all their ornaments around the tree. As we count down the days till Christmas the boys find small treasures behind each door of our advent calendar. Then about a week before, we work together getting all the outside lights hung on the house. Finally we place our families', 35 year old Nativity scene, out for all to see. Sure many of the pieces may be missing, and a Shepard may now stand in for Joseph, but it is a tradition, our way of honoring the holiday's true meaning in our hearts.

This season is my favorite time of year. A time to celebrate not only my Lord's birth, but the love of my family.It is also a very somber time for me as well. I will never forget the Christmas Eve we took the boys to see Santa in 2006. My hair was just beginning to grow back in. My port was still in and we had completed out first walk ( Race for the Cure) two months before. It was Christmas and I was looking at a second chance at life at the age of 33. Life was uncertain and our emotions as a family were still very raw. I loved the lights, the reindeer and the beautiful fire flickering in the mall hearth. As we stood in line the boys seemed a bit controlled, unlike the kids around them who were giggling, jumping up and down and full of anticipation. Joshua and Micah just sort of stood there, speaking every now and then, looking around, smiling, but more reserved than most children on Christmas Eve.

As I remember, look back in my memory of the day I am still moved to tears. I can still see Micah getting off of Santa's lap and Joshua lingering a moment. Santa looked him straight in the eyes and asked him what was on his mind? What did he want Santa to bring him for Christmas? Then the words flowed out, as if a dam had burst inside him. Then and there I felt as if my resolve would buckle. Santa looked my way, and I could see the agony in his own eyes. My son, my sweet boy looked Santa straight in his eyes and without hesitating asked if Santa would please ask God to let his mommy live and not die from cancer! this was his only wish. He told Santa he wanted nothing else! I was broken, completely lost in this emotion as it burst through my well build wall of strength.

Nothing more could Santa say. You could see he was in shock himself. Santa was at a loss, how could he promise my child such a thing? So he looked my 10 year old son in the eyes, nodded his head and walked him over to where I stood. This brief but seemingly long moment passed as Santa placed Joshua's hand into mine. I hadn't even seen Santa walk Joshua over to where I stood. It was if the world stood still. I was speechless, saddened, broken. Here was my son, my child, asking Santa, to grant this one wish... of life, to his mommy. He wanted nothing more than to know he wasn't going to see his mommy die. Joshua had no care of what lay beneath the tree, or what wonders Santa would deliver later in the night. No his one, solitary wish was for his mommy... to live.

Life has taught me many lessons, but of all, this one is the greatest... children, are precious. If we but took a moment to really understand, to witness their acts of self sacrifice the world would be one of true brotherhood and peace. Children in their innocence give us more than any material gift can ever provide us. In the wish of a child, in a simple prayer, they can bring such insight into our over scheduled lives. If we all but took a moment, to consider all we do have and offer our love and forgiveness, unconditionally to those we love. If we were willing to give up our own needs, wants and wishes for someone else, maybe we all experience the true meaning of this season.

Of this I am sure, as I look back , as I remember Christmas Eve 2006 I was given the greatest gift of my life.In my heart I know it was the most beautiful I have ever experienced even though it was one of the most painstaking in all my life. As I reminisce I am reminded of Christ's gift to us, of his birth and death, and the timeless message of self sacrifice. I am here today, I live because my son prayed fervently for my life. He did not waiver in his desire or his resolve. As a child, Joshua gave up the most important wish of the year... he gave his Christmas wish, to his mother....

So this year as you light the candles, bake gingerbread men and open gifts surrounded by family, remember the true meaning of this season is giving of yourself.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Christmas Card To You...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year my dear and cherished friends. you are all a part of my life and my journey. Today, I thank my God for your presence in my life...


P.S. Be sure to turn down the music player at the bottom of the page and turn on the the music with the slide show. Also be sure if you click to the site to watch it in original view.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Get Out of the Station Wagon!

Two words: Breast Cancer.
Stage: Two.
Nodes: Positive.
Type: Triple Negative.
Plan of Action: Mastectomy followed by chemo.
First thought: Dear God. What will my kids do!

Life is so fragile, in moments our lives change and suddenly we realize we have no time to lose.Life is not just changing, life is racing past you. There is no making time up, you must live in every moment, without regret. As each morning comes, as you breath in deeply, as you wake your children you realize each and every day may certainly be your last.

I was 32, in my early 30's when life came to a screeching holt. I was looking in the mirror one day healthy and the next processing news my life could be actually coming to an end. Everything changed, my priorities were reorganized. My boys are everything to me and so I began living as if every minute I had with them was my last. Honestly, it isn't a bad way to live.

Cancer found me in a crazy way, I was blind sided, but the gifts she has given me . Well, they are precious. So I ask you this: What would you do if you were sitting alone when you heard the those words two words, breast cancer? As a mother would your worry be for your children? Would you ponder your children's lives without you? Who would tuck them into bed at night, kiss their worries away and celebrated life's everyday victories with them? When your last goodbye was said, how would they remember you? So again I ask what would you do?

Would you just stop, wait for the day cancer strikes her last blow? Or would you stop and smell the roses, take in each and every moment you were given with your children? Yes, it's a uphill battle, but hope is not lost. Death, we can face it bravely. But what about our footprints ? How do we leave them behind us for our children to follow in, to remember us by? As a mother my purpose since breast cancer came knocking on my door has been about leading my boys to a place of laughter, yes filled with some tears, but mostly a life full of hope. When my boys look back how will they remember me? My simple hope is both vividly and full of life over flowing.

So Again I ask what would you do? As a woman, hearing those words and knowing you have only one shot at beating this beast what choices would you make? Knowing you had to fight to live, to survive what would you do? How would you strike back knowing you had only this one chance to hit the beast with all you have?

My point is this, cancer can be overwhelming. Life comes at you from all sides, full of demands both from the beast and those surrounding you. Sometimes, the choices can be hard. Some may not really even see you are fighting, striving to come up for air. But then your heart and soul are revived and suddenly you are a whole new woman. You're not the same person you once were and coming to terms with this knowledge can be overwhelming at best. The you who used to allow those around you to drain you of your time, energy, balance and confidence is gone. You find you are stronger, absolutely ready to take charge of your life and the time you have left with your babies.

Stepping back from the chaos life begins to bloom unlike anything you have ever felt or known before. The clarity, all the colors and this new life can be altering and to some shattering. The back lash of this new you can be frightening to those you love, and those closest to you. Some may even feel betrayed. Suddenly feeling as they are on the outside looking in. Without a reason they can start closing in on you from all sides without even realizing it. Your cancer may seem invisible, out of plain site. Sadly many may take your strength for granted. Unintentionally many get caught up in their own fear may not even see your cancer. At the end of the day you may feel left behind as the beast rages inside of you, dragging you off into her den. You are the warrior, the strong one, the woman who can take control of everything and be everything to every one. You have no vulnerabilities to anyone anymore. Then you wake up one morning and realize if you keep up this speed, you will have nothing left to give your children. The station wagon full of Larry, Mo and Curly suddenly comes to a painstaking holt! The brakes squeal and the doors open. Without another thought, you hear yourself say," Get out of the station wagon! Please? "Life is just too short.

I sometimes have to stop and laugh at the thought of me fighting off this beast, branding a sword in each hand, and a dagger in between my toes. I am a one woman show twirling, dodging blows, striking when and where I can. I am the village protectress fighting alone. How could I dare allow this beast and her furry to touch the villagers? Maybe I should call myself the village idiot instead? Truth here folks? I am not Joan of Arch! I can not do this alone! I do not wish to throw myself upon the fiery stake. Really I don't. this is the thing we all have to stop and realize we are not one women armies. I can tell you without a doubt I am not a caped super hero! I have plenty to go around,really I do. I just have to be careful to keep enough of me a side for my children too. Plain and simple, I am weak too. I stumble and many times collapse even though I do so behind closed doors.

Mothers, with cancer have a choice to make. Do we spend every moment of every day trying to please everyone, or do we snatch up every moment we have left with our children and run? We are fighting, hitting back, pushing and shoving the beast away at every turn. This time we have with our children, these memories we make, well they may seem selfish to many. Sadly they may be, but the time we spend with our children, the promises we keep, these are the times we imprint memories upon our children's hearts. These are the moments we pray they will never forget. While we fight to live we are praying our children will not forget us, who we are, who we were. We want them to hold these moments close even if they are bittersweet. Our souls will rise and fly away soon enough, so this time, these moments, these lives we hold close are painfully too short.Once this life is gone, we can't take it back, or make it up. All we have is the here and now so why aren't we living life as if it is our last everyday? Gently, tenderly, painfully we need to grasp at whatever time we are given with these precious tiny lives. Our real hope as mothers living with breast cancer? One day when our children are grown , when time has passed and they visit a landmark, sit in a chair, enjoy something as simple as a slice of pizza... they will remember us, their mothers.

So yes, my children are precious to me, as all our children are.They are both my heart and soul. If and when the end comes , I hope I have done enough so they remember and do not forget me. I pray they will keep my memory alive, who I am and how much I have loved them inside their hearts as they grow into men. I am reminded of the Disney song from Dumbo, "Baby Mine". Dumbo's mother was trapped, imprisoned but still she reached through those bars and cradled her baby. The song is a precious lullaby between mother and son. The telling tale of separation and a mothers' one chance to hold her child close to her, impress her love upon him and say goodbye.Many may scold her for protecting her child, still she would do it all over again. That is the way of it, isn't it? I could ask for no better example of cancer's prison.

None of us ever want our children, husbands or any of our family or friends to feel alone or left out in the rain. We do want to be strong for everyone, but we can't. Truly. we have tried to be all things to all people all of the time. But those days are behind us. Some may lose faith in us because of this. I know many women facing this battle go through this over and over again. I say this to those of you still struggling: Faith may wavier but HOPE is never lost! In the end I know we will all make it through this struggle, one way or another.

As for me, I just don't want to regret any moments spent with my boys when the doors to this life finally come to a close. I want to know I have loved and been loved. I can't change this course life has me on. The miles may be long, and many days lonely. But this I know, one day the winter will turn into spring. Life will bloom again, even if it just a for a season. I pray the long night will pass and our brave fight will come to a peaceful end. I do not wish the scars of battle to last forever. So I fill this time we have left with memories, full of life and the living of it.

I have nothing to hide, I am an open book. So as I battle, as I heal and when I make my final journey into the light through darkness I will embrace the struggle. I tell you in the end, it is so much better to live, even if your spirit is weary, live life with your children as if there is no tomorrow. We do not have to go without leaving a living book for our children to read. Our children's love has the power to open bigger and greater doors.

So finally I ask you once last time how would you spend your last moments? Who knows the way it will end. Life is not a sure thing. We all gamble with the odds and pray for the best. So dance, fly and soak up each moment you are given with your children. The pathway is already lit, all you have to do is take the first step.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reason For Pause

This week we started pulling out all the boxes. You know the ones, filled full of tinsel, snowmen and little villages? Every year I am amazed by how many we seem to have. It's really not that we are gaining more, simply put, I am just getting worse at repacking them up. Still, seeing the lights, the angels and of course jolly old St. Nick gives me reason for pause.

It was this same time three years ago, I found the smallest of lumps. Three years ago I felt my heart pause. Three years ago I felt the fear of cancer slip quietly into my life. Since then I have been beaten up a bit, shoved a time or two, cut and sewn back up but for all the wear and tear I have emerged a survivor in true form. So for me this time of year is a time to reflect and to celebrate. Our home is full of life, joy, laughter and most of all HOPE. We have seen the darkness, felt the pain and with God's grace we have lived to tell the tale so to speak.

Here and now, in this time and in this place I am alive. As I look around my home, I see my children, my beautiful boys living in the moment. As we count down the days till Christmas I am reminded of just how precious the time we spend here on this earth, in this lifetime really is. How wonderful it is to wake and greet a new day! How blessed I am to be surrounded by those I love and those who love me. How can I complain or how can I take anyone or anything for granted ever again?

I remember clear as day the moment I found my lump in December 2005. I knew right away, though I tried to find every reason why it wasn't cancer. I tried to forget about it and enjoy the holidays with my family. I desperately didn't want it to be cancer. I did all I could to push it away, block it out, and pay no attention to it. So I lived, just as I have always done, in spite of the beast who was lurking around our home, our tree and my life .We put the lights up, decorated the tree , put the gifts out and enjoyed the season. Little did we know how much life was about to change.

So this year I celebrate all we have, no matter how big or small. We are a family, together, able to hold each other tight. Life has changed, but we are the better for it all. Now, the gifts around the tree have little to do with how blessed we are. The size of our tree has no significance, nor does the meal we put upon our table. What do you ask has real meaning during this season of celebration? Life, family and hope. The grace God has given my family and I is the greatest gift ever we have been given.

I felt the power and the true meaning of this season on Tuesday night as I sat just hours after my IVIG infusion, watching my son Joshua sing. He stood there surrounded by 259 other choir members from his school singing the Carol of the Bells. I sat there with tears streaming down my face. He was so happy, confident and beautiful. For a second I saw the grace of God pour down upon him and I was moved beyond words. I was in awe as I was humbled in His presence. How can I worry? How can I complain? God has not forsaken me. All I will ever need in each and every day He affords and blesses me with.

I am living here and now. I am breathing, and laughing. I can feel my heart beat and my soul stir. So I sit in awe of His mercy, of His unending love and this life He has given me. I am a wife, a mother and a survivor. I am alive to feel my husbands hands hold mine, to feel my children's arms wrap around me and to feel the sun shine upon my face everyday. I have much to be thankful for and even more to praise Him for.

So this year, I live in wonder of the season. The beauty of His gifts surround my life. I am alive, full of hope. I may still battle this beast on certain fronts, but I do not do so alone. Grace, mercy and hope fill my heart as they carry me through to another year.

May we all sit and rest a spell knowing we are loved. May we all feel the blessings of Christmas both past and present.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Life's Journey

This time of year brings me back. Most know I was diagnosed with Triple Negative, stage 2, node positive Breast Cancer in 2006. Life changed for not just me, but for my family. I was dumbfounded, taken back as I had my feet knocked right out from under me. How could this happen ? I was so young. My life was still in front of me, how could God take it all from me now? I was scared, hurt and shocked. I became painfully aware my life was not my own nor was time on my side. I was not just looking death in the face, but she and I were eye to eye!

The holidays had just come to a close and it was the beginning of the new year. I found the lump at the start of December 2005. I was concerned as "it" continued to grow through the Christmas holidays. I sat on this turn of events for a while. I didn't want to ruin Christmas for my boys. We had just bought our very first home, Johnny and I. This was our first Christmas in our new home. I wanted the memories to be special, not marred by some silly worry of mine.

You know the story... Breast biopsy, cancer, mastectomy, chemo and the list goes on. Life for sure changed. I was just completely side swiped. I dealt with this new change of events fairly well it seemed. I lost my breast, my hair and my once rosy life in a very short time. Many would ask why not be bitter? Why not be angry? Why not be mad at God? Well the truth is this: I did feel hurt and yes abandoned, at first. I did not understand but I did have my faith, and my family.

The real deal is I had already gone through the whole being angry at God thing much earlier in my life. I was 8 years old to be exact. It was the same year I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Following a blood test in the doctors office I was placed in the hospital and placed on insulin injections all just days after my birthday. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital, the very same one some 24 years later I was hearing this Breast Cancer diagnosis in. I had already let my anger and fear fester in this very same place. I had already shouted at my Maker and felt His gentle touch in my 8 year old life. As a child I was angry, I wanted a normal life and I feared not being able to have children of my own one day. I was scared I would never marry or have children until I met my dietician who was a diabetic herself , married and having a child of her own. I cried, I told Him off and then I surrendered all my hurt to His plan. I did not understand the full depth of things then, how could I? I really did not like the idea of dealing with this new scary beast, inwardly I was terrified. What I learned over time was this was my burden, yes, but I did not have to carry it alone. I lived through the bullies and there were lots of them believe me, both kids and adults alike. I was punched in my stomach once for petting a kids dog in my own yard. (He was afraid I would give diabetes to his four legged friend.) Then as I got older I was looked at different by teachers and down upon even a by a few pastors as they taunted me in their own ways. Life was hard, but those times, those hurtful, painful times taught me a lot about who I was and who I believed in.

I stopped being mad at God and started being grateful for the gifts I had. I was alive for starters. I was also loved. I had a good family who loved me, who were there for me every step of the way. They believed in me and all they saw in me. My parents would have moved mountains and through the years made sacrifices beyond my understanding all so I would be taken care of. As life moved forward I came to terms with this plan. I adapted to the shots, no sugar and the bullying I continued to endure. You ask how can I be so forgiving of my Lord, especially when some in His name were some of my worst offenders? Well I realized as I got older it wasn't the Lord who was out to get me or who was causing any of my hurt. Sadly, it was those who spoke in His name, yet had no real understanding of His compassion, those who were led by their own fears who caused my hurt. (He may have allowed it, but He surely didn't cause it.) I may not have understood His plan, and to be blunt I didn't exactly like this plan of His, but He was there with me every step of the way. I spent more time in the hospital than I did out it seemed, but you know what? I grew into a compassionate woman who found love and who did have her own babies, ( in the very same hospital)two boys to be exact. I can feel and honestly relate to pain and sorrow now because I have actually been there.

As time marched on Johnny and I made a life together and it wasn't not so bad. Maybe we didn't have grand things but we had each other, we had our children and we had our faith. I have to say I was still caught off guard though when this new beast came to town dragging me off into her den. I wasn't ready for her stench and so I was completely turned around off course on some detour road when the cancer took my breast. I was not happy at all. I was not pleased with my God at the time either, but I did trust Him. As time went on I found over and over again He was my shelter and was where my Hope truly is. Yes, I faltered, I turned away for a while, I sank below the waters surface for a while too. But then I heard His joy calling me home. If I am not bound to this earth, then why was I throwing such a fit? Isn't my faith and trust in His grace enough? It was then, in a moment of pure clarity did I see His plan. He knew this beast would come. He knew I would struggle and endure pain beyond measure but He also knew I would come through it stronger for the journey. Yes, He allowed my childhood beast to approach, circle and to attack. Why you ask? I was just a child, how very true. But I know this deep down beyond a shadow of a doubt it was to prepare me for the stronger beast coming years later not only to destroy but to devour all of me.

In those dark waters I found myself laughing, crying, hearing His voice so clearly I was completely taken back. It was as if I had just found the missing puzzle piece I had been searching for all my life. Suddenly strength I didn't know I had was building inside of me. I knew I could survive this kick in the gut even if I had to go through hell to do it. I was surrounded by love, family and angels. His grace was flowing through my life and He had a plan even if I didn't have all the pieces. All those years I dealt with the highs and lows of my diabetes I was growing stronger, my faith was building and God was slipping all the right pieces of my life together.

I could hate God , yes. I could be angry at His choices for my life, absolutely. But looking at my path at where I stand now from where I have come from I see His hands molding every part of my spirit and this life He has given me. I trust my Maker. I may not always like what I see Him doing, but I do know I am loved and held together by His Grace and Mercy. Even if I can't see past today, I know right here and right now my God is for me and not against me. He loves me and no, my life is not passing me by. I am right where I belong. So with all my might I will continue to embrace all life has to offer and all He has to give me.

I have pondered my path, this journey and accepted what may come. I have gained experiences and friendships along this road worth the battle I now fight. Yes, the pathway may not always be lit but I will always have a lantern and a slightly crumpled up map guiding me for sure. I will get there in His time. I am an open book, a living breathing testament of God's grace. My soul is at peace ,my life is in bloom, and I am definitely stronger for the journey. I have a place in this world, a family who loves me and a path set before me. No one is guaranteed tomorrow and though I plan to live a 100 years, my time may come earlier than I expect. My body may tire or give out too soon, so why would I waste a minute being angry? I want to live completely in every moment I have. Then, when I take my last breath and pass into the unknown I am ready.

This I know, when I meet my Maker I know I will not cross the veil alone. I will not leave this world with regrets. I will not leave my own legacy behind, for it is His. A legacy of strength, of hope and of faith I leave to my children. I am His creation, His child and when this life is over I will be Home in His arms.