Dr Carey’s Teleconference Link – What’s On The Horizon for TNBC

18 Oct

As promised – here is the web-link for Dr. Carey’s teleconference last night with our local TNBC group. She is amazing….watch and see. We cannot thank her enough for taking time to educate us on what’s new in TNBC research and treatments.

What’s On The Horizon For Triple Negative Breast Cancer 10/17/2016



If you have any trouble viewing the video, additional information is available at:






I Am Retiring!

17 Oct

Tonight we had our second teleconference meeting with Dr Lisa Carey and our local triple negative breast cancer group. When she spoke to us three years ago we were so honored that she would take time away from her family and give that time to us. We were a brand new support group and hearing what she had to say gave us all some relief, some more than others. Here we are three years later and the research being done and the findings this research uncovers, is beyond amazing. We still do not have targeted therapy for TNBC but we are getting closer and closer – I just know it.

I will post a link to her teleconference in a day or so in case you are a TNBC survivor and would like to see it. She gave us so much information I will be glad to watch it again, maybe a few more times, to absorb some of this information.  I am happy that they seem to be peeling away the layers of triple neg a little bit more each day!

So, good news peeps! I started the TNBC group in Charlotte 3 years ago with a teleconference from Dr Lisa Carey – and tonight was my last event for the triple neg group and it was with Dr Lisa Carey! How lucky am I? I am turning the group over to Sharon and Ellen (who I call Rocket) and they are going to bring fresh ideas and new energy to our group. It has been a fabulous 3 year run and I am ready to step back a little bit further from the breast cancer world. I went right from being diagnosed, to going full steam ahead into chemotherapy and 6 surgeries, three volunteer positions and I had a full-time job. Now I have reduced hours and I am going to slowly step back out of the cancer community and take more time to be with my JellyBean, dig down deeper into my faith, slow down a little, settle into a new home eventually (soon I hope), and just breathe. I know Sharon and Rocket are going to do amazing things with our group and I cannot wait to see it grow even more. The friendships that have come out of this group are life changing – and for that, I could not be more thankful.

There Is A Hole In Our Family – Again

21 Sep

There have been a few sad days in our house lately. Kevin’s Mom (Avonell) has been in assisted living for a few years, but last Wednesday her kidneys shut down. The Hospice nurse told Kev and his siblings she had 24-48 hours…but as we all know, God is the only one who knows our timeline. So, the family has been doing the bedside ritual, waiting, praying, talking, playing music, reliving memories, and bonding. Kev has been home for a few days but this morning his Mom was called home. As usual, you think there will be some relief after long suffering, but there is none. Yes she is in a better place. Yes she is happy and whole. Yes she is now with her hubby Gray – and her Jesus. But here we sit, with another hole in the family.

I am so lucky, and so thankful, that Kev’s family welcomed me into their lives with open arms. Especially his Mom and Dad. I think they knew that Kevin was finally happy, after a long time of being unhappy, and maybe they gave me some quiet credit for that. His parents were always loving and kind to me and they filled some gaps that my own parent’s deaths had left. I was happy, and still am, to be a Renegar.

There are many memories I have of Avonell, but two really stand out in my head, and heart, today. In 2010 Kev and I were spending time at his parent’s house trying to help do some stuff around the house and yard. They were in their eighties and just couldn’t keep up. One thing she asked me to do was to help clean out and organize her closets. Well, we started, and we only got one closet, and the rest of that guest room, done. We had some trash bags ready and I remember being shocked and wondering how in the world anyone could ever use over 15-20 Christmas center pieces. There were all kinds and all different types with all different combinations of Christmas colors. But still, I knew she didn’t have that many tables, so I tried to get her to part with a few of them – but she just asked me to put them right back in the closet – so I did. But the desk – now that was another story. Drawer after drawer after drawer were filled with red candles…some tall and skinny, some short and fat, some tall and fat, lots of them were a little melted and some were melted crooked. We would look at each one and I would say “we could get rid of this one, it’s not straight anymore”…..but she would look at it and tell me to put it back in the drawer, that it was still ok, she could still use it. After several drawers of red melted candles, I started chucking some when she wasn’t looking. The drawers were still full; as I am sure they are today, of melted, tall, skinny, short, and fat, red candles. She never knew I threw any of them out – even though we left that room with three trash bags full of stuff. She was so fun to spend the day with and as I watched her looking at her things, I know she saw perfectly good red Christmas candles – many more years of use in them, right? That’s how her mind worked – keeping everything because someday you might just need a red candle.

She had a knack for buying things on sale and giving very interesting gifts – that were, no doubt, purchased on sale. I always thought it was super cute because, after all, I didn’t have a Mom anymore and I loved having a mother-in-law. Her kids mumbled and grumbled after years of getting interesting gifts but I found it fun. The best one was when we opened our gift one year for Christmas and in that box was a Precious Moments ornament. I thought it was adorable – and then Kevin told me that it had the #2 on it. It was for a baby’s second birthday or second Christmas! We laughed…boy did we laugh over the past few years about that ornament. Kev thought about not keeping it last year when we were downsizing out of our big house and I was adamant about keeping it. I know what it’s like to lose a Mom and I know precious a memory can be. I also know how something so simple – like an ornament – can bring back many other memories each year while decorating for Christmas.

So now as I sit here typing this, getting ready to pack for a trip to attend his precious Mom’s funeral, I I cannot help but look forward til we unpack for Christmas and find that ornament. I bet you that this ornament, as funny as it was a few years ago, will be Kev’s favorite ornament ever.

My heart breaks for the loss his family is feeling. They had their wonderful Mom for so many years and she was really good to them. I am sure she had her moments – like all of us Moms do. But how lucky is it to have your Mom live to be 93 in good health up until the last 2 or 3 years? Having lost my Mom at 61 – that is an extra 30 years of memories they were able to make. I know it is all part of life and the normal circle of everything, but it still stinks to say goodbye to someone you love. No matter how old they are.

A Friend of a Friend…

15 Sep

I met a friend of a friend a few years ago…and you know how that goes – they become your own friends. I am so thankful Christine is now MY friend because she is amazing. We are so lucky and blessed by the support and talent she gives to the Primax Pink Warriors each year. Can you believe that she donates her photography talent to our Silhouette of a Woman art show each year? And guess what – our pictures are beautiful!

How lucky are we to have a professional photographer??!! Need a photographer for your family events? Then this is your girl!

Christine Bittler

A Survivor Party – September 26, 2016

12 Sep

If you are in the Charlotte NC area – please join us for a night of fun and survivor fellowship….I will definitely be at this event, so please join me! survivor-reception

Amazing Grace

21 Aug

Grace…..what a beautiful and wonderful word.

Grace – noun – elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.

Graceful – adjective – characterized by elegance or beauty of form, manner, movement, or speech; elegant.

Christians live every day by the grace of God. We receive forgiveness according to the riches of God’s grace, and grace drives our sanctification. Paul tells us, “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” (Titus 2:11). Spiritual growth doesn’t happen overnight; we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 2:18). Grace transforms our desires, motivations, and behavior.

So what is this all about? Back in early 2016 Terri and I were neck-deep in the planning stages of our #200women mammography project in Ocho Rios Jamaica and a co-worker of Terri’s (who is Jamaican) told us about Novlene Williams Mills. So we googled, researched, learned, and were amazed with what we were seeing – she is an Olympic medalist. I knew I had to try to contact Novlene so I reached out on Twitter to tell her about our project. We made contact and shared messages and information. She told me she was very busy in June and couldn’t attend our actual program in Jamaica but she would do anything she could to support us from afar. I was astounded. Here we were in Charlotte planning our free mammograms and ultrasounds for Jamaica and I was having contact with an Olympic Medalist. Me. One day at work I got a big box delivered and when I opened it I couldn’t believe my eyes! Autographed signed photos from Novlene and letters to the 200 women who were receiving our free mammograms. She also wrote 50 letters for women who would be facing a diagnosis. I was so very thankful because I knew that the contents of this box could break down any barriers we might face with our women.

Months later – off we go to Jamaica to do our mammography project. We met with each woman before her mammogram and answered questions about the test if it was her first one. We offered encouragement to those women who had already had a single mastectomy and this was their first follow-up mammogram, and we spoke to women who tried to get mammograms each year. We shared our stories, we shared laughter, hugs, tears, and hope. We shared some life changing moments with these precious Jamaican women. Our hearts were changed by the gratitude these women showed us. In meeting each woman we gave them Novlene’s photo and letter and they were amazed that she would take time out of her busy schedule to send them something through two American strangers. Little did I know that while we were in Jamaica, Novlene was racing in Europe trials for the 2016 Olympics – while we were there we heard that she won that race and that brought the excitement level up another notch for all of us. Novlene is a true hero in Jamaica…a cancer survivor and an Olympian.

So fast forward to now. We now know Novlene and #TeamJamaica won a silver medal in the Olympics! I am so excited for her, her Relay team, and her country. What an amazing thing!

When I think back to asking her to help us with our project, she was buried in training for THE OLYMPICS and she took time to give such a beautiful gift to these scared and frightened Jamaican sisters of hers. It still boggles my mind that in the middle of training she would take her time, her energy, and mind to do what she did for our mammography program. Novlene is a beautiful example of grace (see above) and have you seen her run? Talk about graceful (see above) – like a warm knife through butter!

I just want someone, anyone, and everyone to know that she did this project with us while getting ready for the Olympics! Her heart is like many breast cancer survivors hearts – all we want to do is use our gifts and experience to help other woman facing this disease or one who is concerned about it. Her heart is the heart of a God-loving woman, one full of grace, compassion, and love.

Here is an older story about Novlene and a video of her from 2012. Watch this if you want to see grace in action….she is the anchor for Jamaica so watch until the end and you will be amazed. I have watched this several times and it just makes me so excited – just like it’s happening today.


Thank you Novlene for your help in our project, for the friendship we are starting, and for giving breast cancer survivors, everywhere, hope. You have shown us all that life can go back to normal or – even get better – after breast cancer.

Goodbye Old Habits

10 Aug

(I wrote this last night and forgot to post it)

My JellyBean has a new habit that started a few weeks ago, and I love it. She likes to be held and rocked right before, and after, her nap and rocked before bedtime. You see, this is different for her – she normally goes 100 mph until she gets into the crib, settles down, and falls fast asleep. I love this new habit because she has not been snuggly since she was a baby. She is now 22 months old.

I am in Anderson taking care of The JellyBean because my daughter is in Cuba and my son-in-law has to work each day. So, luckily her other grandma and I get to split days and spend precious, quality, one on one time with this beautiful girl. There is nothing better than these moments we have been gifted.

At nap time today I was holding her and rocking her. As I felt her begin to relax in my arms I began telling her of all of the exciting things we are going to do together someday. We can visit Disney World, we can go to the American Girl store, we can get manis-pedis, and I would like to take her to the children’s movies that come out – as soon as they come out. These are, of course, all dependent on her parents letting me. But as I told her we would meet Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, and Goofy and Pluto she relaxed even more and just listened intently.

I remember when I was raising my kids; I couldn’t wait for them to crawl, then walk, then talk, then run, then get big enough to ride a bike…and the list goes on. But what I realized yesterday – sitting in that chair, rocking my baby, was the ONLY thing I had to do. There was nothing more important than the moment I felt her relax all the way and start to fall asleep in my arms. Being a grandparent means enjoying the moment, the small miracles in each day, the gift of these precious children and the joy in each smile and hug.

As a busy parent, especially being a single parent with small children, I always had 9 million things to do and a million things on my mind. I enjoyed my children immensely and loved them with all of my heart – but I was BUSY; a single parent without any family in the area to help. So I take each one of these precious moments with my JellyBean and allow myself to not only rest and be present in these moments, but to acknowledge each stage she is in while she is in it. Not wish for days to come – but to be thankful for the moment as it’s happening.

This is the gift of being a grandparent. Or should I say the many gifts of being a grandparent. Being able to set aside time and to be present in each and every moment is the best gift of all.



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