Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dear Breast Cancer

       If you are just stopping in, this is the thirty first post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 31:  Dear Breast Cancer

Dear Breast Cancer,
     You were an unwelcome guest.  I didn’t even know that you were there, growing, changing, threatening.   My first hint of your existence an ominous walnut shaped spot where no spot should be. 
     I recall when I learned your ugly secret, the way my heart skipped a beat, and my stomach clenched.  The way my eyes filled and puddled over in fear and shock.  I never thought you would come to me.
    You crept silently into my left breast.  Don’t you know that my infants nursed at that very breast?  I held my babies in my left arm,  their little heads pillowed against my breast, echoing its soft curves.  They could hear my heart beat, thump-thump, thump-thump.  You would have extinguished that forever.
     You stole something from me.  You are always on my mind.  I wish that I could forget you. 
     You changed my life.  You showed me that I am more delicate than I know.  You labeled me as sick, different, damaged.
    You touched my children.  They were frightened that they would have to grow up and grow old without a mother.  You took part of their childhood away.  They should not have had to deal with adult worries.  You would have silenced my voice in their future.
     You touched my marriage.  I am no longer the smooth skinned bride that my husband touched with joy.  You marked me.  My scars reflect my determination to be rid of you.  
    Breast Cancer, I can not believe that it has been three years since we were introduced.  Some days it seems as if it were just yesterday.  And then there are times when I feel that I have known you forever.
     Breast Cancer, I would not have chosen you, but, I have learned these things from our dance together.
    You do not define me.  I am who I always have been, but more so. 
     I am not alone.  My friends stood beside me with home baked meals and encouragement.  More friends then I knew I had.  They were the tangible hands and feet of Jesus to me.
     You have given me sisters who have fought the same battle.  I want to serve as an encouragement for them.
     Our family was strengthened by your visit.  They covered me with love and prayers.  Crayoned cards and gentle kisses.  Quiet times and boisterous parties with enough squabbles and mess to let me know that I am needed and wanted.  Our family works harder to be there for each other then before you reared your ugliness.
     I have learned to love unconditionally, to forgive completely,  to live in hope, and to enjoy every moment I've been given.
     My marriage is sweeter.  My husband touches me with new found joy and appreciation.  We whisper our love quietly heads together and argue loudly about nothing of consequence.  We defer to each other and support each other.  My husband is my treasure.
      Breast Cancer, I did not fight you like a girl, I fought you as a Warrior.  The battle for me was already won on Calvary’s cross.  I know that God loves me.  I have seen His goodness in the land of the living. 
     Breast Cancer, you forcefully pointed out that narrow gate through which we all must pass.  But I have learned this, the One who has led me all my life will not desert me. When the time comes for me to pass through the narrow gate,  it will be just wide enough for me and my Savior together.  

     Part of this post was published anonymously at Positively Alene as part of her 31 Days of Anonymity Series.  You can find that post here.

Last Thoughts

      If you are just stopping in, this is the thirtieth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.
Day 30:  

     Cancer is a word, not a sentence.  ~John Diamond

     On February 18, 2013, it will be four years since I heard the words, "You have invasive ductile carcinoma... surgery, chemo, radiation."  Four years since my life was forever changed.  I no longer have cancer.  I am a cancer survivor.  Our lives have moved on.  We are busy with usual family things. 
      Unless I happen to be wearing a breast cancer bracelet, pin, hat, or other clothing article that shows that I am a member of the cancer club - a casual acquaintance wouldn't know.  In fact, Cynthia, the colleague and parent of a child at my school that I had met in the waiting room of the women's center on the day of the mammogram that saved my life, had no idea.  We happened to meet at the nurse's office at my school.  She was there to pick up her son.  Cynthia shared with me how embarrassed she  had been that she had was wearing the exam doily when I arrived in the waiting room.  I assured her that I was similarly humiliatingly attired just moments later.  Cynthia went on to say how frightened she was each time she went in for her yearly mammogram.  She was always afraid that they would find cancer.  It never occurred to her that they had found it in me.
     The road has not always been smooth.  Two years after my diagnosis, I had an odd full feeling in my beleaguered breast.  Another biopsy was called for.  In the week between the ordering of the biopsy and the actual biopsy, I began to put things in my life on hold.  I didn't want to commit to anything for fear that I would be back in the dance with cancer again. Fortunately, the area of concern was a small fluid filled cyst.  It has since gone away.
     I have noticed people complaining about the pink washing of the month of October.  My feeling is any money raised for breast cancer awareness and research is money raised.  Every dollar counts.  I do buy pens and other small items with a pink ribbon on them.  I feel a sense of connection when I see others who have a pink ribbon.  I love to see survivors.  They signify hope for me and many others.
     I have seen posts of concern that mammograms cause cancer or over diagnosis.  Mammograms save lives.  A mammogram saved mine.   I am here today because a mammogram found a cancer that no one could have felt in conventional exams before it spread.  Even the doctors who knew it was there, could not find it.  My lifetime chance of having cancer was considered low.  I did not have any risk factors.  I am appreciative that the radiologist made "a good call."  He knew cancer when he saw it.  I am also appreciative of the tech who made sure that she got as much of an image as she could on the mammogram.  My tumor was tucked in against my chest wall.  It could so easily have been missed in imaging.
     Cancer is no respecter of persons.  It strikes the old and the young.  The average age of diagnosis is 61.  I frequently heard that I was young, 50 at that time, but I met women who were much younger than I.  There were girls in their twenties and thirties who had breast cancer.  They should have been planning education, jobs, weddings, and children, instead of chemo and radiation appointments.  You are never too young for cancer.  If you feel a lump, get it checked.
     I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  ~Psalm 27:13
     I met my Savior at the age of twenty.  He has carried me through many situations, good and bad over the years.  In cancer, I saw the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Through it all I felt the prayers offered in my name.  I felt the touch of my Father.  He walked with me through the fire of cancer and He will walk with me the rest of my days.
    My husband is an amazing man.  I love him.  He has been a source of comfort and strength.  I appreciate him.
     Tomorrow, is the last post in the 31 Day Series.  It is a letter to breast cancer.  It may be the final post in the series, but it will not be the last time I post about cancer.

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Personal

      If you are just stopping in, this is the twenty ninth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 29:  It's Personal

     Writing about my journey with breast cancer has been more difficult than I had thought it would be. It's not that a person forgets the overwhelming feelings, but the distance of a few years calms them somewhat.  There are some things that I have considered whether to include or not because they are not easy to say.  Most people were supportive, prayerful, and considerate.  There were however, a few things that were said to me, that were said thoughtlessly or out of curiosity, but without consideration. 
       A person with cancer needs support, comfort, and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.  We don't need to be told that someone's sisters-cousins-neighbors-mother has it worse.  There is always someone who has it worse.  Always.  In almost every life situation, there will be someone who is worse off then you.  But to hear this when you are going to radiation treatments every day for six weeks, does not help you to feel better.  In fact, then you feel even worse about complaining about being burnt, or tired, or sad.  Breast cancer is a life threatening disease.  Cancer is hard.
     A dear older lady, and by older I mean older than me, informed me that she knew exactly what I was going through, because two of her husbands' sisters died of breast cancer.  Then she went on to say that at least I knew how I was going to die.  Ouch!  I thought I was making a plan for living.
     More than one person shared with me that if they had cancer, they would just let it take its course and not do anything too extreme like chemo or radiation.  Really?  It's easy to say what you might do when you do not have cancer.  I pray that they never have to make a choice between such extreme measures or dying.  People with cancer make the best decisions they can and then live with the results.  Radiation and chemo do have risks, but they have helped many people to survive that would not be here now.
     There were people who said, "I couldn't handle having cancer."  Well, I didn't really have a choice.  You don't always get problems that you can handle.  But I can assure you that God does walk with you through them and give you friends to help carry the load.
     Then there were the, "I can't wait to see how God uses this" crowd.   God can teach others a lesson without giving me cancer.  We live in a fallen world.  Cancer is part of that.
     When a person gets breast cancer, people are curious.  Believe me, my breasts had never caused such a sensation my whole life - until I had cancer.  Then the girls became kind of public property.  There was no question too personal in people's quests to satisfy their curiosity.  They wonder if they can tell by looking which side the cancer was on.  (There are more breast cancers on the left side than the right.)  They wondered if I had "only" a lumpectomy, a mastectomy, or breast reconstruction.  I had a lumpectomy.  A wise nurse shared with me.  "It's not 'only' a lumpectomy.  Lumpectomy is a comfort word.  You had a partial mastectomy."
     Scars - Yup, I have them.  I have seen worse.  I have seen better.  I can live with mine.  If you are really curious, google breast cancer survivor images.  You will see beautiful women sharing their scars.  I am not one of them, but I applaud their bravery.
     I did not ask you about your sex life.  Don't ask me about mine.  My husband and I appreciate each other, thank you.
     What a person with breast cancer wants to hear is that you'll be there for her and her family.  You'll be there in good times and bad.  That you'll help her get through it.  That you will be there to celebrate the good days and that you'll be with her when she's discouraged and in pain.  Unless you have had breast cancer, you don't really know how she feels, don't tell her you do.  It is okay not to say anything at all.  Instead offer the comfort of your presence, a hug, or a shoulder to lean on.  Listen.  Listen to her feelings, her doubts, and her fears.
     Finally, don't forget the husband in all of this.  He is worried and scared.  He is being a caregiver and a comforter.  When a family member has cancer, the family is living with it, too.  Cancer is hard on everyone.  All of the things that I suggested for the person with cancer apply for their family, too.  They also need love and support.

 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.  ~ Psalm 19:14

Sunday, October 28, 2012


      If you are just stopping in, this is the twenty eighth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 28:  Gifts

      I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.  Now more than three years later I am cancer free.   I take medication daily and an IV medication every six months.  Life is sweet and I am so grateful for the life I have been given.
     I wanted to express my thankfulness to God for taking me through that fire with an action involving Compassion International.  My husband and I talked about what we could do.  We discovered our answer right at our feet.  Literally.      
     Our chickens were gathered about eating spaghetti.  The girls love spaghetti.  You can read about our girls here.  We decided that we would purchase chickens for families through Compassion.
      Chickens give children and families a lasting source of nutrition and income. Fresh eggs raise the levels of protein and other nutrients in a family’s diet, and the sale of extra eggs and chickens can pay for vital basics.
     We managed to gift eight chickens.  Compassion International just put out their new Gift Catalog and chickens are no longer in it!   Instead, we will make a contribution on the 18th to help a malnourished child survive through emergency feeding.  Many children living in extreme poverty do not know where their next meal will come from.  In this way we can continue to express our thanks to God.
     I appreciate the gift that I have been given.  How do you show your appreciation to God?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I Will Survive!

      If you are just stopping in, this is the twenty seventh post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 27:  I Will Survive

     Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive at a Breast Cancer Survivor Dance Tribute.  It's all here, tears and joy, sparkles and pink, feather boas and disco balls on hats, 100 survivors and pink wigs.  Great fun to watch!  Keep dancing!

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid.
 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me
in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.  ~ Psalm 27:1-6

Thursday, October 25, 2012


     If you are just stopping in, this is the twenty sixth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 26:
To keep me from being conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
    Paul shares in Second Corinthians that he was given a thorn in his flesh.  We don’t know what his thorn actually was, but we do know that he wanted to be rid of it desperately.  Perhaps the thorn was not identified specifically so that each of us could relate to Paul’s battle.  
     All of us have thorns in our lives.  A thorn is an area where we feel most vulnerable or defeated.  Our thorns could be depression, an irritating neighbor, a boundary-less relative, splitting headaches, or like me a diagnosis of cancer.
          Paul wrestled with God on this issue.  He prayed three times for his thorn to be removed.  Finally, God answered, but it was probably not exactly what Paul wanted to hear.  God said, “No.”  Well actually what He said was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  God did not remove the thorn.  He gave Paul grace to live with the thorn.
     As Christians we sometimes think that if we pray hard enough, if we are obedient enough, if we trust enough, or are somehow good enough that we will be spared the painful thorns in life.  The Bible doesn’t say that.  Nobody gets a pass from difficulty in life.
    I remember standing in church singing the song Indescribable and thinking surely the God who placed the stars in the sky and calls them by name could have told the lightening bolt of cancer not to hit me.  Not that I wanted it to hit anyone else, but God had allowed it to touch my life.  He could have prevented it.  He could have removed it before it was even found.  He could have.  But He didn't.   Was there pain?  Yes.  Did I wrestle with God?  Yes.  Did He make it all better?  Eventually.  I learned that I could trust Him to be with me in the fire of my battles.  You see, the things that were true about God before cancer were the same things that were true when I had cancer.
· We are more than conquerors through him that loved us and gave himself for us.
· Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.
· I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
· And they overcame by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.
     The One who has led me all of my life, walked with me through the fire of cancer, and from each day since.  He is indescribable and amazing.   

     So as we feel the thorny ache in our side, consider the One who suffered more than just a piercing of His side for us.  Remember that His power is made perfect in weakness.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


     If you are just stopping in, this is the twenty fifth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 25:  Scars
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  ~2 Corinthians 12:10
     My mother in law and I belong to a local book club.  We share a love of books and enjoy discussing them with others.  Last year our club read the book, Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

     It is a tale of sacrifice and loss, betrayal and friendship, love and apathy.  The main character is a young Nigerian girl who calls herself Little Bee.  At one point in the book Little Bee shared this thought that really resonated with me as a cancer survivor.
"I ask you to agree with me that a scar is never ugly.  That is what the scar makers want us to think.  But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them.  We must see all scars as beauty.  Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying.  A scar means I survived."  
     Breast cancer has left me with an impressive scar.  Although the tumor was small, my scar stretches from under my underarm out.  I also have a smaller almost unnoticeable scar from the lymph node biopsy.  A portion of my breast is missing, from about 3:30 to 5:30.  It is not obvious when I am clothed that I have scars from my battle.  
     Life hands out damaging blows to people of all ages and backgrounds.  None of us get through life without pain.  We all have scars.  Admittedly some are more visible that others.  Scars are not a sign of weakness.  They are a sign of survival.
  Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
   But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
   A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”      Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
   Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  ~John 20:24-31
     The risen Christ showed his friends the scars that His life, His suffering, and His death inflicted on Him.  Those scars remind us that Jesus felt pain, just as we feel pain.  The scars of Jesus became part of the evidence for the reality of the resurrection.  His scars were not obliterated.  They remained.  A scar doesn't form on the dead.  It forms on the living.  He continues to carry the scars.  He has allowed us to be engraved on His hands.
     We walk with a Savior who comes, scarred, to be with us with whatever scars we bear, with whatever wounds we carry, and with whatever doubts we harbor.  Scarred hands reaching out to scarred lives.
Surely, he has borne our infirmities, and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God,
and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities
Upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
And by his stripes we are healed. ~Isaiah 53:4-6 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making Strides

        If you are just stopping in, this is the twenty fourth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 24:  Making Strides

     The journey to end breast cancer begins with a single step.  On Sunday, Patty and I joined more than 7,500 walkers with Making Strides for Breast Cancer at Woodbury Commons, NY sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
          I get tears in my eyes whenever I walk at one of these events.  It is an emotional and inspiring experience.  Pink is everywhere.
     Men, women, children, and pets, everyone walking united in purpose.  
Everyone caring about making the future a brighter place.
The newly diagnosed and the survivors.  Both beautiful.
 Walking in honor of friends and family.
Hoping to see a world with less breast cancer and more birthdays.
Is it just me, or do our glasses match?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Monday, October 22, 2012


         If you are just stopping in, this is the twenty third post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 23: Broil

          I was told that radiation could make me feel tired.  I thought, I have six kids.  My youngest two didn't sleep through the night until they were four.  I can do tired.  Except that I wasn't just tired, I was lay down on the floor tired.  I needed a nap most days when I got home from school and radiation.  And not just a little nap, a two hour nap.  I would wake up in time to eat dinner with the kids and then have enough energy to get myself ready for bed.  I found that I needed to take a day off in the middle of the week just to rest.  I was fortunate to be able to do that.  I had a wonderful substitute who worked well with my students.  I knew when I wasn't able to be there they were in good hands.  My school and principal were very supportive.
     My biggest difficulty with radiation though was the burning.  I am a very fair skinned blonde who easily freckles.  My skin really is the color of milk in the areas usually covered by clothing.  After the second week of radiation I looked like I had a sunburn.  At first, I was relieved to see the redness.  To me it meant that the radiation must be working in killing any remaining cancer cells that might still be lurking in my breast.   My skin reddened over the entire radiation field.  It looked as though a line was drawn across my chest and underarm.  Some areas blistered, peeled and oozed.  I was prescribed cream to put on my breast to help with the burning.  Weekends were a brief reprieve.
      I would suggest that anyone who is undergoing radiation treatment be vigilant with care for their skin.  Use the lotions and creams prescribed by the doctor.  Do not use deodorant.  Use only mild soaps and shampoos.
     I have also heard mention of eating foods with curry during radiation treatment.  The curcumin in curry is what gives it it's yellow color.  Curcumin is a known anti-inflammatory compound.   If I had heard of that when I was having radiation, I likely would have tried it.
     Several weeks after I had finished radiation my radiated skin had turned from red to light tan.  Over time the skin has gone back to it's usual white color.

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
    save me and I will be saved,
    for you are the one I praise.  ~Jeremiah 17:14

Sunday, October 21, 2012


    If you are just stopping in, this is the twenty second post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 22:  Bake

     Many people have asked me what radiation is like.  Considering it is an almost daily thing, it is not that bad.  After I checked in and changed into a gown, a lovely radiation tech invited me to the radiation room.  The ladies and men who work in the radiation/oncology department were very friendly, optimistic, and good listeners.  The ones that worked with me were usually the same five people, although I usually saw just three of them at a time.
     The door to the radiation room is extremely thick.  It has yellow nuclear signs on it.  It sounds more intimidating than it actually is.
     Once in the room everyone double checks that you are you and the mold is the correct one.  In the radiation room I was in, there were many molds hanging on a rack like you might see at a dry-cleaners.  Many were like mine, but there were also face masks and other molds, whose purpose I didn't recognize.   I lay down on the narrow sheet draped table on top of the mold in the position I was in when it was made.  A tech moved the table with a remote control back and into the machine.  Then I was manipulated more precisely into position.  Once again I was asked not to help.  The techs shifted me with the sheet I was lying on.  They pulled it and rolled me just a little bit at a time.  The table moves up and down and side to side until I was positioned exactly right.  
Source - This is not me.
     The lights in the radiation room are kept low.  The techs lined up the tattoo dots in the radiation field so that they radiated only the area they were supposed to using laser light cross hairs.  This was not a time for modesty.  Remember, they have seen it all and then some.  The techs tried to make me feel comfortable and when I was all set they covered me with an additional gown so I wouldn't feel quite so exposed.  Then they left shutting that huge door behind them.  There was a viewing window and a microphone so that I could talk with them and they with me.  I was never really completely alone.  
     The radiation itself does not cause any pain.  I couldn't even feel it.  The machine buzzed and made clicking noises.  I lay still and counted the clicks. When radiation was finished the lovely tech people came back through the door and moved the table back and down so that I could get up.  
     I am saddened to report that I did not gain any type of superpower from my radiation exposure.  I had hoped that I might get invisibility or super strength, but no such luck.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan

     The first thing you need to know is that my kids will eat this!  They are partial to mac & cheese, and not the good kind either.  But this, they will eat.  And it's delicious.  Score!

     We picked up the eggplant and the onions at our local CSA.  It is low carb.

  • 1 pound of ground turkey or ground beef, 
  • 1 medium onion,
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1 large eggplant sliced into thin rounds,   I soak these in lightly salted water.
  • 1 26 oz jar of spaghetti sauce,  
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 9 x 13 pan.
  2. Brown meat in a skillet and drain.  Set aside.
  3. Saute onions in butter in the skillet.
  4. Line the bottom of the prepared pan with half of the eggplant rounds.
  5. Stir the sauce and the meat together and pour half over the eggplant.
  6. Top with the sauteed onions and half of the mozzarella cheese.
  7. Add the remainder of the eggplant and then the rest of the meat sauce.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
  9. Remove the foil sprinkle the parmesan cheese and the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top and bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.

     I have served this on italian bread or with pasta as a side.   Of course, if you add bread or pasta, then it isn't a low carb meal.  Enjoy.


     If you are just stopping in, this is the twenty first post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 21:  Preheat

     Radiation is usually scheduled at the same time Monday through Friday for six to seven weeks.  Yes, every single weekday for seven weeks.  Just the thought of an everyday treatment for that amount of time is a little daunting.  Fortunately, I was able to schedule my appointments for immediately after school.  Unbelievably, unlike every other doctor office I've ever been to, the radiology department runs on time.  Amazing, right? The first few appointments take a bit longer, but after that I found that I could be in and out, including changing, in about 20-25 minutes.  The technicians keep everyone moving along.  One day a week, there was a quick detour for blood work.  It is possible to have a life during radiation.  I worked most days and even managed to go on a school trip with my son.  The weekends were free.
     James, our son who lives in Georgia, and his wife sent me a lovely tote bag, which I used as my radiation bag.  I carried my Kindle, baby wipes, lotion, a spare t-shirt, and my card in it daily.  By designating a bag for radiation, I knew that I would have what I needed.  It also served as a place to put papers or reports that I was given when I saw the doctor.
     All of the really nice places have membership cards and Radiation at the Oncology Center is no exception.  I was presented with a photo id with a bar code to be used for checking in when I arrived for radiation.  I greeted the receptionist, scanned my card, and went back to the ladies waiting area.  There I would change into one of those attractive gowns with the opening facing front, for obvious reasons.  Then sit to wait my turn.  Three o'clock was not a popularly scheduled time.  I met many ladies, but they were usually there because they had rearranged their schedule for some reason.  Cancer is no respecter of persons.  The ladies I met were old and young, grandmothers and young mothers, business women and wives.   The happy and the sad.  There were the bald, the wigged, and the few with hair.  Some came alone and others with a friend.   All of us feeling a little vulnerable, hopeful, and scared.  
'When you pass through the waters,   
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze." ~Isaiah 43:2    

Friday, October 19, 2012


     If you are just stopping in, this is the twentieth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 20:  Inked

     Our eldest son served in the Navy.  He came home to us, thankfully, with 2 rather large tattoos.  One tattoo on the back of his calf and the other on a shoulder blade.  He is fond of telling his friends that his mother has more tattoo's then he does.  And I do.  I have three.
     I met my next new doctor, the radiologist.  She is a lovely young woman with a delightful smile.  I was encouraged just being with her.  She explained the radiation process and answered my questions.  I was going to have six weeks of radiation.  Monday through Friday I would come in for radiation.  She explained the possible side effects, the process, and the things to do or avoid during the six weeks.  Before I could start radiation I needed to meet John.
     John at radiology was also very kind.  He explained everything one more time.  He had the job to create a form and tattoo me so that the radiation would be delivered to exactly the same place for the six week period.  John set me up in a radiation simulation machine.  I was given one of the glamorous drapes for modesty.   Then I laid on a rolling table like the one that would be used in the radiation room.  I was placed on a big pillow filled with little beads.  I was to lay with my arms supporting my head, then moved into the round doughnut of the machine.  This was to make sure everything fit easily and no elbows would get bumped along the way.  John told me just to rest on the pillow and not try to help him.  He mushed and tucked the beads in the pillow around me.  Then the air was vacuumed out of the pillow.  It became a hard mold form fitted to my body.
     John gave me three tiny, about the size of a freckle, blue tattoos to ensure that when I went for my radiation treatments the machine would be lined up exactly the same way each time.  I rather thought that the tattoo's would be made with some kind of tattoo gun.  Nope.  The tattoo's were made with a drop of ink and a needle stick.  The needle stick felt like a needle stick, not awful and I didn't faint, which for me is pretty good.  These tattoo's are permanent.
     The first tattoo is located on my sternum between my breasts.  This tattoo is the only one I can see.  The thing that bothers me about it, is that it is not centered.   It is off to the left side just a little bit.  How crazy am I?  The other two are on each side of my chest, below my ribs and armpits.
     I had never considered getting a tattoo before.  I just wasn't cool enough for a tattoo.  But now I have three.  They remind me of what is important to me.  They remind me of a battle fought and won.  They remind me to be thankful for every single day. 
 For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. ~Isaiah 51:3

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Perfect Ten

     If you are just stopping in, this is the nineteenth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 19:  A Perfect Ten
     Gone are the days when every woman with breast cancer has a radical mastectomy.  Not all breast cancer is the same.  Different breast cancers require different treatments.  Every advance in breast cancer prevention and care has been because of research based on brave women willing to take part in clinical studies.  
     At the post op appointment with the breast surgeon, I had been invited to participate in the TAILOR X study.  Part of the study included using an oncotype dx test.  An oncotype test looks at the activity of certain genes within the tumor sample and assigns a numerical value to the likelihood that invasive breast cancer will return.  It is not genetic testing to look at a person's inherited traits.  Oncotype testing looks at genes and their activity in breast tumor tissue within the cancer itself.  
     According to the Susan F. Komen for the Cure website, the Oncotype DX breast cancer test has changed the treatment plan for many women.  Of the women in the study there was a 28% reduction in the use of chemotherapy as a result of the test.  Also 4% of women had chemotherapy added to hormonal therapy as a result of the test.  These women were initially considered to be low risk but were reclassified as high risk based on their Recurrence Score.
     In the TAILOR X study, scores of 26+ would receive hormone therapy and chemotherapy.  Scores of 11-25 would be randomly assigned to hormone therapy alone or hormone therapy with chemotherapy.  Scores of 10 or less would have hormone therapy. 
     Although I agreed to participate in the study, I prayed that I would not be in the randomized group.  I wanted a clear cut direction.  I would have been nervous that I had not done all that I needed to do to stay healthy if I was in the randomized group and did not have chemo.  I reconciled myself to a higher number and chemotherapy.  I looked at wigs online trying to determine if I could do a wig or should just go with a scarf.  I worried over losing my hair.  Still, I hoped for a low number.
     My husband, Pat came with me to meet my newest doctor, the oncologist.  The oncologist told us that my Oncotype Recurrence Score was 10.   The treatment for scores of 10 or less - hormone therapy, but not chemotherapy.  I hadn't even realized that I was holding my breath until it exploded out of me in a huge sigh of relief.  Not only was I not in the randomized group, I was in the hormone therapy without chemo group.   Pat assured me that he had always known that I was a perfect ten.  Can you see why I love that man?
Source- Bo Derek in the movie 10
     The oncologist completed his exam and discussed hormone therapy after radiation.  Radiation would be for five days a week for six weeks.  My next new doctor would be the radiologist.    

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hope Was Born In A Cave

     If you are just stopping in, this is the eighteenth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 18, 2009.   This series is about my journey with breast cancer.  You can find the previous posts here.

Day 18:  Hope Was Born In A Cave

     An acquaintance told me if she got cancer, she would be demanding answers of God.  The first question she would shout would be, "God, why would You do this to me?   Why?"   But, it's not as though God would say, "Ooops.  My mistake.   Let Me just take that back.  Sorry to have bothered you. "
     I certainly had not expected to get breast cancer, but I never asked "Why me?"  Instead, I thought "Why not me?"  After all,  christians don't get a pass from painful experiences.
     I had a wonderful support group around me with friends and family.  My husband was great, but in reality there are things that a person with cancer just has to do alone.
     Each Sunday morning,  I share a short devotional at our church.  This is what I shared a few days after my post op appointment.  Some of our church family knew that I had cancer, others were hearing it for the first time.
Hope In A Cave
March 29, 2009

     Have you ever been in a cave?  To me, caves are dark, cold, dank, small places without much air and a pervasive smell of mildew.  Now I know that caves can be somewhat larger, and perhaps more comfortable that I imagine, but still I think I would prefer to lay on a beach in the Caribbean with an umbrella drink.
     And yet many biblical figures spent time in caves.  David wrote Psalm 142 while hiding from King Saul in a cave.  Here is part of that psalm:
"When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way.  In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me.  Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me.  I have no refuge; no one cares for my life."
     David is crying out to God from the bottom of his heart.  He is depressed and desperate.  He feels overwhelmed and wonders how this happened to him.  Not only is he hiding in a cave, he is living in the cave.  The place where he is living reflects the state of his emotional  well being.
     Have any of you ever lived in a cave?  I know that I have.  A cave is a place that we don't want to go; a place we never planned on being.  It is the loss of a job, a marriage, a child, our freedom, or our health.  A cave is a season of loss or worry, discontent, anger, or frustration.  A cave is a place where you feel alone.
     "So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.  But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.  ~ 1 Samuel 30:4
     Another translation reads:  David encouraged himself in Yahweh his strength.
     In the cave, David says to God, "Then You, oh Yahweh.  I say, You are my place of refuge.  You are all I really want in life." (Psalm 142:5)
     You see, God does some of His best work in caves.  Hope is born in a cave.  Jesus was raised from the dead in a cave.  When you are in a cave you have to trust God with your life.
     In a few weeks the church will be filled with visitors and guests for Palm Sunday and Easter, but right now, we are family.  So I will share what a few of you know.  Last month I went to the doctor for a routine yearly test and after much squashing, poking, prodding, and some radioactive dye, it was determined that I have early stage 2 breast cancer.  I did have a successful surgery.  The cancer hadn't spread to the lymph nodes, or any place else.   I have appointments with a lot of people to figure out what else is ahead of me on this journey.
     Cancer may have stunned me, but it didn't catch God by surprise.  God promises to go before us in every situation.  He knows every situation.  He knows every thought I think and every word I say.  He will not only go before me into my battle, He will go beside me and behind me.  He has blessed me with many people here and at work who have ministered to me and my family.  He has given me shoulders to lean on, ears willing to listen, and hearts to pray for my need.
     Cancer is not uncommon.  There are others here this morning that are fighting the same battle or have a loved one who is.  I pray for you every day.  Our prayer chain has been full of wounded people looking for salvation, redemption, and healing.  Not all of them have cancer, but all of them have pain.
     No matter what your need is remember this, Jesus Christ went before you and He has a Battle plan.  He knows every fear, every question, and every doubt that will rise up within you before you do.  He went ahead to scout the territory and to clear the rocky path.  He will carry you through.
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I am far away.
You see when I travel, and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and  follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
If I go up to heaven, you are there.
If I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride on the wings of the morning,
If I dwell by the farthest oceans,
Even there your hand will guide me,
And your strength will support me.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
Before a single day had passed.  ~Psalm 139:1-5, 8-10

Updated:  This post was featured at Create With Joy.   Thank you!

The Sheep of His Hand

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.   ~Psalm 95: 6-7
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