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You Never Know Who You Might Meet…

25 May

In a blog from a week ago I mentioned going to a 30 year vow renewal for Rob and Linda while my son-in-law, their son, Mike officiated the ceremony. Who gets to attend something so cool? I mean really! I mentioned in that blog post not knowing who was invited or who was going to be there because I knew this blog was coming. If you want to read that blog post, please look back two posts and read “you’re still the one”.

We were all gathering on the beach, Sullivans Island, waiting for the moment that Linda would walk around the dune to start the vow renewal and celebration. While we were waiting I was taking  pictures, still getting used to my new camera, and I was walking around shooting pictures of everyone. I saw a woman, and what appeared to be her daughter, sitting in beach chairs. Something drew me to this woman, but I wasn’t sure what. She smiled at me as I was walking around and I kept feeling the pull to go and speak to her. This isn’t really part of my normal personality. I know that people who know me say “what?” – but, if I don’t know people, I really am shy, at first. So, stepping out of my comfort zone I walked up to this woman and began to talk to her. Rob came right over and introduced me to Heidi and her daughter; “they are from Ft Mill but now live in Virginia” Rob said and walked away. She smiled at me and said to her daughter “this is Morgan’s Mom”. This threw me for a second because it’s been a long time that a stranger referred to me as Morgan or Kyle’s Mom. Everyone that knows me KNOWS I am their Mom…but now that they are grown, I am known less and less as Morgan or Kyle’s Mom, at least in public. So it took me a moment and I realized, well of course she knows that – she knows Mike, Rob, and Linda, and Morgan married into their family. DUH. I cannot remember how the conversation went exactly – I should have blogged before I forgot what was said, but I remember enough to set the scene for you.

Heidi mentioned that she knew me, she said she saw me walking around and realized who I was, and then knew she was going to be able to meet me. She told me that she had read a lot of what I had written when I was sick. She asked me how I was doing now and I said “great – I feel good and I am good!”….she smiled so sweetly at me and mentioned that it was odd for her to know so much about me and know that I don’t even know who she is. Ahhh….a blog reader, this is not the first time I have been in this position. It is a little odd for me to be faced with this situation but her gentle personality and her sweet demeanor made me feel totally comfortable. And then she said “I prayed for you….a lot”…BAM – there it was; the mention of prayer during the hardest part of my life. I was so touched. I have to say, it was truly an honor to be talking to another human being, knowing in my heart and soul, that this precious woman took time out of her busy life and prayed for me, a stranger. She smiled such a sweet smile and her loving spirit came right out of her and covered me. I could feel it in that moment….as I could feel it…many times during my illness. I knew, without a doubt, that I was covered in prayer. When people tell you they will pray for you – you have to know that some people actually do pray and some people actually don’t. They say they will and they forget, or maybe they never intend to, but I could tell that she did. She knew way too much about me so I know she actually read what I wrote, and she actually prayed for me.

I was humbled and honored and it was a huge reminder how loving and caring people can be. The vow renewal was about 45 minutes away from the party and I was alone in my car. I had my sunroof open and music blasting. I was enjoying the beautiful day and I kept reflecting back to Heidi and our conversation. It wasn’t so much the words that she said “I read what you wrote” “I followed you through your cancer battle” “I prayed for you”….it was more the feeling that I got when she looked into my eyes. She knew me. I am not sure if you have ever experienced this kind of thing, but it is different to meet people who “know” you - but you have never met and you don’t know them. Then to realize that your story, your words, and your life touched them enough that they thought enough of you to pray for you. It’s a really a pretty big moment in your life when you wrap your mind around this.

After thinking about this all of the way to the party, I decided I was going to ask Heidi if I could blog about her. I wasn’t sure how she would feel or what she would say and I was a little nervous asking. You have to remember, I hardly knew her, but I knew I wanted to blog about what it feels like to have this wonderful thing happen. So, I was chatting with Morgan and Heidi came up and I just flat-out asked her. She got a little flustered and laughed with a twinkle in her eye and said “YOU want to blog about – ME….really???”….she threw her head back and giggled. This made me smile as she said she would be honored. Isn’t that crazy? I am the one who is honored. I am the one who has been reminded that people, sometimes people you don’t even know, are praying for you and asking God to help you through some of the darkest days of your life. I am the one who has been humbled, many times over the past three years, by things like this. They may seem small to you, they may seem inconsequential and not worthy of a blog post, but if you have prayed for a stranger, or a friend of a friend, or you have met people who have prayed for you during a difficult time and you didn’t even know them, then you know that this blog post is big. Prayers are big. No, prayers are huge.

You see, you never know who you are going to meet in your life. You never know whose eyes are on you when you don’t even know it. You never know who has your back when you are too sick, or weak, to stand on your own. If you are lucky, like me, on days when you least expect it, you get to find out.

For this, my new friend Heidi, I cannot thank you enough. It was MY pleasure meeting you and spending time with you. When I think of the smile that came over your face when you simply said “I prayed for you”….(then my jaw popped open and hit the sand)…it became extremely obvious how far-reaching our God allows our story to go…not only because it touches other people, but it allows other people to touch us, through prayer, and years later, through hopefully, a new friendship.

What an honor it was to meet this woman!

What an honor it was to meet this woman!

 

 

 

Lost In America….

18 May

 

I was driving down the road the other day, on a 4 hour trip, alone, and my mind started wandering. I began to think about some of the things I have seen on the news and internet lately and I began to realize how “lost” we really are. I started thinking through the news articles and the things I have learned over the past year or so…and the ramifications of this behavior are really beginning to sink into my heart and soul, more now than ever. I am not sure if it’s because when I was a single Mom I was in the trenches of complete chaos running 100 mph and never had time to complete a full thought. Or if it is because I am expecting my first grand baby and my mind and heart sink when I think of the world she will be growing up in.

I have listed below some of the things that were running through my mind, and as I drove along I realized more and more of the horror that is happening to society because of the behavior in our society:

North Carolina is in the top ten states for sex trafficking. Our CHILDREN are being stolen, coerced, used, abused, raped, held against their will, and a lot of them don’t survive this sub-culture. They never come out. Do we get that? If we get that, why oh why, are our city officials, and state government, not doing things to not only preventing this at our sporting events and political conferences, but why aren’t they stopping it? We have the power to put people into space, we can see other planets, we can fly planes at a million miles an hour, we can spy on people across the globe, but we cannot stop buses of children, sex slaves, from being brought into our city to be raped by the men in our area?

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Condemned killer Steven Smith’s argument for mercy isn’t an easy one. Smith acknowledges he intended to rape his girlfriend’s 6-month-old daughter but says he never intended to kill the baby.

Federal agents arrested a Colorado man they say raped a baby at a Bakersfield, Calif. motel, videotaped the entire attack and then shared it on the Internet. The yearlong investigation led them to a Bakersfield motel and a family whose 11-month-old son was the victim.

 

The internet and news are LOADED with stories like this. These victims are not only children – they are BABIES. Someone’s daughter or son. Someone’s sister or brother. Someone’s child.

The struggle with pornography in this country is horrendous. The cycle of porn is described here: Sometimes, pornography can even lead you to do things you never imagined. Consider Gene McConnell. He was an ordinary businessman with a wife and daughter, but fascination with pornography became the fuel that caused his normal life to explode. “It began to ruin my marriage, my business, everything,” explains Gene. “It started with strip-tease or topless bars, then to massage parlors and prostitutes. Finally, I started fantasizing about what it would be like to actually rape a woman. I tried it one night when I saw a woman who ‘fit’ the scenario in porn. Fortunately, I didn’t go through with it. After being reported and arrested by the police, I spent some time in jail.”

There are people spending more money than they make to uphold an image that they use to cover up their own insecurities. The perfect term I heard recently is “fake it till you make it”…..but what if you lose your job in the middle of faking it? How many people did this happen to during the financial crisis in 2008, 2009, and 2010 or through our current financial environment? Too many.

We have girls texting pictures of their breasts, or pictures of them sitting on a toilet, or pulling down their pants. They send it to a boy or post it on facebook, or someone else does. Why? Why? Why?

There are rainbow parties – are your kids attending these? Do you even know what they are? If not, you may want to ask your teens about them and research them. If your teens are going, stop them. Do you even know where your teens are half of the time?

Parents want to be friends with their kids, they don’t want to parent, discipline, teach them values, consequences, or responsibility. Why? We are supposed to train our children to be self-sufficient and to contribute to society – not be a drain on it.

I read this quote the other day and it really hit home for me:

“I may be wrong, but it seems that there may be some unraveling of the American tapestry. I see people getting so caught up in celebrating diversity that they are neglecting their commonality. I don’t see this as a good thing.” Walking On Water – Richard Paul Evans.

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy has been arrested on domestic violence charges in relation to his girlfriend. Known as “Kraken” Hardy is or was a very popular member of the team among the fans.

There are more people being held in slavery now, today, than in any other point in history.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The mayor of North Carolina’s largest city resigned on Wednesday after his arrest on public corruption charges. U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said Wednesday that Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon is facing theft and bribery charges.

My favorite musician, Edwin McCain has a song called “Lost in America” and here are a few of the words from the chorus. These are words I have listened to, many times, but really heard them in the car the other day:

Yes, we’re lost in America

In this land we’re so proud of

We got the cars, the girls, the money, the drugs

To get you out of your rut

Yes, we’re lost in America

 

I know that many generations have complained about the “state” of the country going down the old toilet. I hear myself now and I sound like my Mother! There is just such a moral decay creeping through our society that it frightens me. I know that churches are popping up by the minute and people are being baptized and joining the churches in droves. And I hope this can help build a stronger base to raise our next generations on. Something. Not the me generation. Not the fake it till you make it generation. Not the entitlement era. Something has to change – for the better. Somehow, and soon.

In my mind it starts with the parents. If they are not doing their jobs raising their children with good morals, standards, expectations and responsibility, it all goes downhill from there. The schools are not supposed to be responsible for raising our children, the government is not supposed to be paying the way for everyone who doesn’t want to work, and people just need to stop doing horrible things to other people. I don’t care if you are black, white, green, or purple…we are human beings and we should all be doing the right thing. Not just for ourselves, but for other people. We are role models for our children, role models at our jobs, role models in our own circle of friends. People are always watching other people. Children are learning more from how they see their parents behave more than listening to what their parents tell them they should learn. Caught not taught! You can inspire love, ways to help other people, doing good things, and being decent, or you can inspire hatred, porn, selfishness, drama, irresponsibility, and abuse. You and only you have the power to pick which way your children see you.

Another part of the song by Edwin McCain is below and this is also how I feel sometimes:

I’m droppin’ out

And I’m quittin’ this game

Yes, I’m washin’ my feet, I turn off my phone

Changin’ my name, hittin’ the road

Don’t really know where I’m gonna go

But I’m gettin’ the hell out of here….

 

Ok, so if I wasn’t waiting for a grand baby maybe those words would definitely pull at me and make me want to change my name and hit the road. But I cannot, not anymore. So, I am going to use the words I heard from a speaker at a benefit we attended for a sex trafficking non-profit organization. If you are not doing something to stop the problem, you are part of the problem…..so, with that being said, what can I do?

Cancer Survivor Day 2014

18 May

This is a great event each year hosted by Novant Health and it is a block party outside Buddy Kemp. This will be my third year going, and since I am going, I hope to see you there. Great food. Great fun. Great celebration!

Let's Celebrate Our Survivorship!

Let’s Celebrate Our Survivorship!

You’re Still The One…

17 May

Today was a day that memories were made to cherish for a lifetime. Family and friends gathered around Rob and Linda as they renewed their wedding vows for their 30th anniversary. I wasn’t involved in the planning of it and I didn’t know who was invited and who was coming, but I figured I would know some people there since my daughter is married to Rob and Linda’s son Mike. It was a beautiful morning on Sullivans Island in South Carolina as we waited for Linda to come around the dune. It was warming up by the minute and we were all thankful for that since it was about 60 degrees when we left the hotel. People were gathering, meeting, talking and waiting. Taking photos. Teasing Rob. Typical group of family and friends gathered for a very important life moment. It was during this time that I met a woman named Heidi, which is a whole different blog post coming, but it made me realize how things really do come full circle and reminded me, once again, how important family and friends are.

Morgan came around the dune followed by two precious flower girls and then Linda came escorted by her Dad. Everyone took their places and then the best part happened. Mike opened his Bible and began to speak. He did such a wonderful job weaving scripture into his story of growing up with Rob and Linda as parents, in a Godly home, and being raised in a Godly marriage. It was perfect. It was the first time Mike officiated a wedding and it just so happens that his first wedding is for his very own parents! We all sat and listened to his story with tears in our eyes and our hearts overflowing with love and joy for such a great celebration of a marriage “well done” as Mike said. What an example Rob and Linda have led not only for their children, but for the rest of us. And I consider myself one of the luckiest recipients of this Godly marriage because Mike married my daughter and Rob and Linda have accepted Morgan into their hearts and lives as if she were their own. I could not be more thankful for this.

Today was a day that memories were made to cherish for a lifetime and I cannot tell you how thankful I am to be included in this family.

Mike Preaching! IMG_9515 IMG_9569 IMG_9625

Happy Mother’s Day — To My Children…

11 May

It is that time of the year again and my kids are waiting for me to post this blog so they can see what the reverse Mother’s Day surprise is for 2014.

It has to be a little bit calmer this year and some of my choices were not allowed. I had to say “ no” to repelling a waterfall, zip-lining, rock climbing and several other choices, and this is not just for my own bone health safety. Some of you know this already – but some don’t. I am going to have a granddaughter in October and I cannot wait. My little girl is going to have a little girl!

I cannot believe that next Mother’s Day I will be celebrating this day highlighting my daughter’s first Mother’s Day as a new Mom. I cannot wait for that day to come. Not to say that I am not thankful for today, because I am. But next year is going to be the bestest Mother’s Day ever. I am also beginning to let it sink in that this Christmas we will have a baby in our family! A new baby. I am so very very thankful.

For our reverse Mother’s Day this year we are going to have a very nice lunch someplace cool. The restaurants downtown are not open for lunch on Saturdays – not the restaurants in the tall towers with the views anyway – so I will find someplace cool and funky. More details on that to come. BUT, on Saturday morning, June 14, Morgan, Kyle, and I will be riding above, around, and through the city of Charlotte in a helicopter. We will be getting a bird’s eye view of our beloved city from a private helicopter tour….just for me and my Doodlers.

I don’t think either of my kids has been in a helicopter before. I am not totally sure of that – but I am hoping to experience this with them for the first time in their lives.

So, this isn’t going to be a wordy blog full of torn emotions about my Mom and how much I miss her. Even though I do. Every day. But, it’s a blog post closing a chapter on sad Mother’s Day celebrations and also closing the chapter on non celebratory Mother’s Days. Today is the last Mother’s Day I will spend waiting to celebrate Mother’s Day in a few weeks with my kids by doing something cool. From now on we can celebrate Mother’s Day ON Mother’s Day and then do the reverse thing in a few weeks anyway…but next year I want to see my daughter, no matter what, celebrating her first Mother’s Day and learning how to soak in every special moment of the days to come in being a Mom. Every last sticky finger, melted crayons, and leaking diaper, to smiles, little chubby arms around her neck, feety pajamas, playing Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, finding rocks in your washing machine, melted gum in the dryer, a piece of cheese popping out of the VCR and a business card popping out of the cassette player in the car (yes, back in the day)….I wish on so many days I could go back and re-live my memories with my children and write down every single second because now the memories have faded and the moments are blurry. Some of them, not all of them. But I want all of those seconds back. It’s funny that I seem to be living my life wanting my old seconds back or wanting the future to get here, when we all know I should be completely living in the present. BUT, I know that I have not been myself these past few years and maybe that is what is eating at me. I want to go back to being a full-time Mom; a woman with responsibilities regarding kids, Bibles studies and Church, sports, and just being with my kids. But, life happens and children grow up and I am doing what I am supposed to do – letting them go. I think it is also magnified that Kevin still has kids in the house and I don’t. I just miss the day-to-day life with my kids. That’s all. Anyway……

It’s going to be very cool for me to sort of hand the Mommy title over to Morgan as I enjoy every moment taking on the new role of Gramma – or whatever name I can figure out that I like. I will ALWAYS be a Mom – but now that my kids are grown we are nurturing a new friendship dynamic and sort of putting the parenting one aside. And it’s really cool.

Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you….and to my children, I look forward to another great Reverse Mother’s Day celebration and I know that you both already know this – but you are my heart and my soul and the best two things I have ever done in my life!

 

Another Reverse Mother’s Day

7 May

As Mother’s Day approaches us once again, I felt compelled to re-post my blog from Mother’s Day 2011. For my new blog followers, this was in the beginning of my breast cancer battle, and I have made a promise to my kids that we are going to do something cool for Mother’s Day each year now. A reverse Mother’s Day. If you read my blog below, you will have a better understanding of what I mean. For my friends and blog followers from during my fight – you know that on Mother’s Day I will tell my kids about the cool thing we will do this year to celebrate our reverse Mother’s Day. This year we will celebrate it on June 14 and what we are doing is a surprise until Sunday. Two years ago we took a hot air balloon ride over the mountains in Asheville. We are still trying to schedule last year’s Nascar Driving Experience. We got rained out twice and we have to get that back on the calendar again. So, please stay tuned for Mother’s Day 2014, and you can read, right along with my kids, about the next adventure we will take to celebrate the two best kids in the whole wide world…..please read below from May 2011.

Today is a Mother’s Day, for me, like no other. I am constantly aware of my body and all it tells me every single minute of the day. What is hurting, what is healing, what I am eating and how it agrees with me (or not), am I touching my face, mouth, or eyes without having washed my hands ? It is exhausting, and a bit self-centered, but necessary as my white blood count continues to return to normal this week. I am also waiting and watching for my hair to fall out. This is the exact detail of my life today that makes me reflect back to Mother’s Day fifteen years ago.

Mother’s Day 1996. My brothers were in and out of the state visiting and caring for my Mom. Hospice was at my Mom’s house every day. My children were young and we were a very young busy family. My children did NOT want to go to their Grandmother’s house each day because they were constantly told to be quiet (Grandma’s sleeping), be calm (Grandma’s sick), stay inside, stay outside, dinner won’t be till later, stop going in and out….the small kid drama continued…

I believe my Mom was still coherent on Mother’s Day that year. She was beyond wearing head covers because she was so sick so we began seeing my Mom as the very sick, bald, dying woman that she was. My brothers were coming to town and bringing their kids sometimes too – so my kids thought some of those visits were a big family party. I remember during one dinner we kept hearing the kids outside the kitchen door laughing and this strange pinging sound. The sound continued on and on. My father finally got up to see what the kids were doing and then the yelling started. Our children ( I think there were 5 of them that day, all under the age of 5) were picking up handfuls of gravel from the driveway and tossing them at my Dad’s brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee. My Mom slept through it all.

Between Mother’s Day 1996 and Memorial Day 1996 were the longest days of my family’s life. My Mom had a bilateral mastectomy years ago, she had a blood clot in her groin so her leg died – it was cold and dark purple. She was very very sick and her mind had really started to do strange things because her breast cancer had moved to her liver. Her liver wasn’t functioning correctly anymore and her mind was being altered and poisoned.  The beautiful woman we all grew up with and loved was gone. Already.

I wish I had taken the time to have heart-felt long talks with my Mom during the point that she was still coherent, but I didn’t. I just could not face the fact that my Mom was leaving me. Avoidance was my only mode of survival so I could continue on and take care of my children. I couldn’t even begin to picture my life without my Mom, so I didn’t.  I knew that if that outer shell cracked and accepted all of what was happening before she died, I probably would not be able to function. At all. I knew at that point many huge life changes were on their way, my marriage was over, my mom was dying, I was really not “employed” because I was a stay at home Mom, and I was speeding full force toward being a single parent, without the support of my Mom. I was going to be totally and completely alone, with two small children whom I loved with all of my heart. I remember having THAT talk with my Mom and she was extremely saddened by the fact that my children were going to be from a broken home. She begged me to fix that, change that path somehow, stay in the marriage for the children, but I just couldn’t. I could only focus forward and focus on doing what was necessary to get my children through losing their Grandma, a pending separation/divorce, moving out of our house, me going back to work full-time, them changing schools….it was so overwhelming that I could only focus on one day at a time or I would have had a total breakdown.

Every Mother’s Day, since we lost my Mom, the kids and I only celebrated simply, if at all. They would make me a card, maybe get me a small gift, maybe they would make me a bagel or toaster strudel for breakfast. But we never had big celebrations on Mother’s Day, nor did we attend any that we were invited to. I felt like I was robbed. I was too young, at the age of 31, to be without my Mom. What exactly was there to celebrate ? I hope my children know that Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate, but I would rather them surprise me with a card or a toaster strudel on a regular old day. Not a day that they feel they “must do something”. The constant pressure for kids to “do something” because the calendar says so doesn’t mean near as much as when my kids did something sweet for me on a regular day. THOSE are the days and moments I celebrate Mother’s Day quietly. There was a day Kyle came home with several beautiful flowers in his dirty little hands and rang the doorbell. When I answered the door, there he was, smiling and holding them out to me. I hurriedly pulled him in the house (loved on him and put them in water) – but I knew he had taken them out of a neighbor’s garden so it was a quiet celebration for sure! Or after a pre-teenage fight with Morgan I would get letter after letter from her explaining her views, or apologizing, or asking me for forgiveness, or sometimes just a picture or a piece of gum taped to a handmade card. THOSE were my Mother’s Day precious memories and moments…and I have thousands of them. I treasure my children and I still thank God, all of the time, for lending me these two to raise for Him.

So here I am, on Mother’s Day, fighting breast cancer, just as my Mom did exactly 15 years ago. She was losing her fight that Mother’s Day, and mine is just beginning, so the perspective of today is somewhat different. But now I do know what it’s like to wonder if you will have the opportunity to even decide if you want to celebrate Mother’s Day next year. I know what it’s like to spend countless hours during the night worrying over what will happen to your kids if this battle is lost – maybe not next year – but in a few years. I know now what it’s like to really look at your parenting and see if you helped nurture the qualities and characteristics in your kids that will allow them to have a good life, a life filled with happiness, God, helping others, responsibility, good choices, success, and love. But mainly, on those nights, and days like today, I know  if/when I do lose this battle, in two years, six years, or twelve years, I will miss the daily Mother’s Day moments that my kids bring to my life. A call, a text, a joke, a donut, a letter, a smile, a facebook posting of support, Kyle knocking on the bedroom door in the late evening and laying on the bed with me to talk, the kids asking for advice or opinions. These are the  small ones, the ones that Hallmark does not inspire or pressure, the ones that come directly from the hearts of my two precious children.

I promise, Morgie and Kyle, that next year, on Mother’s Day – we will have a big old party! It will be big enough to make up for all of the Mother’s Days we quietly celebrated…I am not sure what it will be like, but you guys leave this up to me – and mark your calendars for Mother’s Day 2012 – for that day – you two are all mine….I love you both dearly !!!! And I wonder, as my Mom looks down from heaven, if she likes the job I did raising her two grandbabies. She missed most of their lives and I hope she can see them from her windows in heaven – I hope she is very proud of them – because I know I am. That is what makes MY Mother’s Day happy this year. That and that alone.

The Weather Channel Is….

4 May

Thanks to The Weather Channel and the new national partnership with the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. I copied the email below I got from them to announce their involvement with ACS. I am very thankful for this. Let’s finish the fight!!!

 

One in three people living in the United States will hear the words, “You have cancer,” in their lifetime. Since so many of us have been touched by cancer, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve signed up as a national partner of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event.

So, here’s the forecast: The Weather Channel has teamed up with the American Cancer Society to help finish the fight against cancer by encouraging our viewers to sign up for a Relay For Life event in their community and to fundraise by supporting our on-air Team Captain challenge. Next week, we will launch this new partnership on our morning show.

Like a storm, cancer has hit too many of us. It comes in and attempts to take away our loved ones, our piece of mind, and even our livelihood. But as a past Relay For Life participant, you know firsthand the power of fighting back. That’s why we’re asking you to join us today and start or join a Relay For Life team in your community. It’s not too late to get involved and fundraise for this important cause. And you wouldn’t want to miss out on some other exciting activities to support this new partnership:

  • Tune in to AMHQ next week at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. Central) and encourage your family and friends to do so. We have exciting things planned that’ll include cancer survivor stories from across the country. One of those survivors is a brave 10 year old named Tori, who fundraised by participating in Relay For Life fundraising pageants in her hometown. Tune in next week to hear Tori’s story and the inspiring stories of other survivors who have been helped by the American Cancer Society.
  • Download The Weather Channel app on your mobile device to stay connected to the weather for the Relay For Life event in your area.
  • Check out our hosts’ Team Captain page and spread the word on your social media networks that they’re challenging each other, to see which of them can raise the most funds in support of the Relay For Life movement.

We’re all so excited to be a part of your amazing Relay For Life community, so follow us on Twitter @AMHQ to keep up with our team’s progress.

And, lastly, on behalf of cancer survivors everywhere, we thank you for the work you have done to help the American Cancer Society fulfill their vision of a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Together, we will finish this fight.

Your friends at The Weather Channel

Oh Baby-Baby

21 Apr

http://theprimaxpinkwarriors.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/oh-baby-baby/

A Flashback

7 Apr

Yesterday I went to South Park Mall, alone, and I had the weirdest flashback. I don’t think I have been back to this mall very many times since that moment I am going to write about, and if I have been there, I haven’t been alone. I was walking down this one section of the mall and all of a sudden I remembered a day, right in that same area of the mall, and a moment so clear, that my heart sank. As I was walking along yesterday I remembered walking along the other side of this section of the mall hoping and praying that the mall floor would open up and I would be swallowed whole, never to be seen again. The day was September  18, 2011 and you can read my blog post from that day – either by the date or search my blog for “Silently.” I was shopping for the satin pajamas I needed to wear after my double mastectomy. It’s easier to slide in and out of the bed in satin when you cannot use your arms….anyway, I remember so clearly walking along in this “upscale” mall here in Charlotte and feeling horrible about myself. I had on my wiglet and hat and saw a reflection of myself in the store windows. I hated what I looked like and my heart was breaking over the thought of having my breasts and ovaries removed the next day. I remember looking at everyone and thinking how great they all looked and how pretty the women were. I remember walking along in the mall that day, silently, and feeling very very sad.

Yesterday, in the same area, the feeling came back. The overwhelming sadness of where my heart was during that trip through the mall that day and I was surprised how sad I suddenly was. I started walking along with my head down and I felt like I was sinking but then I caught a glimpse of myself in one of the store windows, just a side glimpse, and my sadness vanished and reality, all of a sudden, became crystal clear. My hat and wiglet are long gone. I have had a hundred haircuts, my body – in clothes – looks fairly normal and I was there shopping for something specific. Something special. I turned around and headed straight for the ice cream counter and ordered myself two scoops of mint chip ice cream with chocolate sprinkles and then I went straight back to the area where my flashback occurred. I sat down on one of the fancy leather chairs and I began to eat, and enjoy my $6.49 ice cream. I looked over to the area where I was so sad a few years ago and I began layering reality over my flashback. I know that it’s still ok to have setbacks every now and then. I have had a lot of things happen in the past few years and the devastation has not, and will not, completely go away. BUT, as I sat there, eating my $6.49 ice cream, I realized just how far I have come. Now, I am NOT bragging about myself because I am still in shock over being nominated, first of all, and then being selected as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in 2014, but I was there, in that section of the mall, to buy a dress for this event. It’s a black tie formal event and I am going. Not to watch someone I know get honored, but to be honored. Me. It’s crazy, I know…and I still cannot believe it. But yesterday, sitting in that leather seat, I have to tell you it was pretty shocking to compare these two shopping trips – just two and a half years apart. If you would have stopped me in the mall that day, carrying my satin pajamas, and told me that I was going to be blessed in so many ways in that time frame, and then be recognized for helping people, I would have called you a big fat liar and run in the other direction. At that point in time I was blogging, leading the Primax Pink Warriors, fresh out of chemotherapy and heading right into a 9 hour surgery, but to even try to think back to how my life has changed just absolutely blows my mind. It is amazing what you can do when doors open and you suck it up and take those steps through them.

It seems as though my life was always crazy with a very busy job and being a single Mom with a little bit of volunteering. Then in 2008 I got a real taste of volunteering in an area I was passionate about and loved it. I got re-married when my kids were out of high school and continued on with my busy job and volunteered more. The more I volunteered – the more I liked it. And then came my diagnosis and we all know my story from there. But these moments, crystal clear flashbacks in my own mind, happen once in a while. I knew that I would share this one because I KNOW there are breast cancer fighters and survivors, reading this right now, that think nothing good can come of this time in your life. Nothing good can come from fighting cancer. Nothing good can come of these surgeries. Nothing good, nothing good, nothing good….stupid cancer. But, I am here, at this moment, telling you the truth. Good things CAN come from this trip to hell and back. Great friendships, relationships, and new perspectives can come from tragedy and despair. I am not sitting here saying that this recognition of the 50 Most Influential Women is the “be all end all” to having cancer and everyone should have this. I am talking about what is behind the recognition….. I am talking about the meaning of it. I am not some fancy business woman or some really super smart employee of the year kind of girl. This recognition came because tragedy came into my life and I did something with it. Yes, I still work and have a very busy job. Crazy busy. But at the end of the day, what really matters is that I have been placed in a position to help people in some of their darkest hours. Not because I have to because it’s my job and my paycheck – because it isn’t. I do it because I want to. I feel strongly led to say “hey, that’s the way I felt too” – “yes you are allowed to be sad, cancer stinks” – or “I know a woman who had the same thing, let me introduce you”…..THAT is what is behind the beautiful dress I bought yesterday for the event on May 30. I am extremely honored and grateful to have been nominated, and chosen, along with some very powerful and influential women in the city of Charlotte. I still shake my head and cannot believe they really meant to pick me, but they did, and any recognition like this comes because I am put in positions to help women. I still think God chose me for this path. This isn’t about me – it really isn’t. I also couldn’t have done any of this without people around me helping me climb up one ladder ring at a time, to keep reaching and stretching, out of my comfort zone and into a place where I am allowed, and blessed, to help women. No matter what that looks like on any certain day, that is what this is all about.

So back to the $6.49 dish of ice cream – isn’t that outrageous for two scoops of ice cream? Jeeze, but I have to tell you, as I sat there and faced the reality of what I was shopping for yesterday and what I was shopping for two and half years ago, I realized something big. Facing those spirit crushing flashbacks as I ate my expensive ice cream was worth every penny and every single calorie.

 

The List of 50 Most Influential Women Is Released

6 Apr

 

50 Most Influential Women

 

The list of the 50 Most Influential Women for 2014 has been released and the honorees are listed below. I am still in shock that my name is among the names of these influential women. Phew. It just doesn’t seem real !!

Congratulations to our 2014 honorees!

Rebecca Anderson
Queens University of Charlotte

Shekeria Smith Barnes
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Tonya Brandon
CBRE, Inc.

Colleen Brannan
Branstorm PR

Jayne Buckley
Compass Group- Foodbuy Division

Taber Cathcart
Alston & Bird, LLP

Astrid Chirinos
Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte

Cynthia A. Coto
Union County Government

Sharon Decker
Secretary of Commerce- State of NC

Denise Dexter
Lincoln Harris

Daniele Donahoe
Rinehart Wealth Management

Betty Doster
UNC Charlotte

Martha Fortos Dozier
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

Kelli Gold Embler
Autism Speaks

Sarah Jo Hutto Funkhouser
Morehead Title Company

Ophelia Garmon-Brown
Novant Health

Beth Hernandez
Balfour Beatty Construction

Joan Higginbotham
Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Randy W. Hopkins
The Hopkins-McElhannon Group, Inc.

Carrie Howell
Hospitality House of Charlotte

Nancy W. Hudson
Charlotte Community Health Clinic, Inc.

Christine Mackie
Zippy Ice

Margaret Martin
MECA Real Estate Services, LLC

Monica McDaniel
Bank of America, Retired

Nancy B. McNelis
Queens University of Charlotte

Mary Nell McPherson
Freedom School Partners

Sheila Moore
Novant Health

Sue Myrick
Former US Representative

Abong Ngranui-Fankam
A Place of Hope

Cristy Nine
Cresa Carolinas

Nancy Black Norelli
Norelli Law, PLLC

Joanne O’Brien Beam
Wake Forest University Charlotte Campus

Nancy Olah
Parker Poe

Jennifer Cook O’Toole
Asperkids

Moira Quinn
Charlotte Center City Partners

Tonyia Rawls
The Freedom Center for Social Justice

Laura Renegar
Primax Properties

Cheryl L. Richards
Northeastern University- Charlotte

Jane G. Robinson
Kent Academy

Ruth Samuelson
NC House Representative

Pamela L. Shipman
Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions

Pearl J. Smith
Pearl Realty, Inc.

Nicole H. Sodoma
Sodoma Law, P.C.

Paula R. Vincent
Novant Health

Amy Wartham
UNC Charlotte

Whitni Wilson-Wertz
Otis Elevator Co.

Lynn Wheeler
Wheeler Communication Group, LLC

Martha J. Whitecotton
Carolinas HealthCare System

Ellen Wingate
Noosa Pest Management, LLC

Joan O. Wright
O’Sullivan Wright, Inc.

 

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