BENTLEY

Bentley came into our lives when oldest son, Scott, and family moved to North Alabama for a job promotion.  They are living with us while they house hunt.

Bentley was a member of a two-pack family until Molly, a beautiful black lab, passed a few years ago.  He lived a structured life.  A large dog bone every morning and his daily feeding right after Mia Grace (granddaughter) came home from school.

Enter our doggies, Baxter, Bailey, and Sarah.  With just a couple of hiccups, the four doggies integrated well and are happy as a new pack.

Bentley finishes his meal in about 30 seconds.  He loves every morsel.  Our doggies sniff their food and then decide if they will eat or not.  I find this very frustrating.  Somehow, our doggies know that Bentley is getting “something” different.  Bailey made a dash for Bentley’s food one day.  Food went everywhere and clearly yet forcefully, Bentley gently told Bailey to back off.  Bailey backed off.

We feed twice a day in the morning and afternoon.  Bentley gets so excited about his feedings.  He is so happy.  It is a ritual of jumping, barking, and pure, genuine excitement.  He reminds me of myself when Richard makes pork belly.  After the first bite, I slap the table in sheer enjoyment.

Bentley has taught our dogs to eat.  We have all empty bowls with “nothing but shine” remaining.  I am not longer frustrated.

Sarah has adopted some of Bentley’s habits.  She stays closer to us as we prepare food.  She is more talkative doing an up and down head shake as she watches us.  She grins a goofy Basset Hound grin raising her mouth a little bit.

As I have watched this pack develop and come together, I reflect on the many work groups, teams, and organizations I have been a part of.  Often, it took one person to make or break the group.  Often, it took one person with courage to question a decision or way forward.  Often, it took one person with empathy to feel when someone needed help.

Richard and I have met many “one person” on this cancer journey.  As I reflected last month on this journey and the new path it is taking, I remain grateful for those “one persons” who showed up.

-VhS

 

 

Rainy and Reflective Day in Alabama

I have gone deep inside lately.  I took most of September to reflect on our Cancer Journey and what I have learned.

Last week Richard and I attended The Human Element (THE) Update in Sonoma, California at the Westerbeke Ranch.   (http://www.thewesterbekeranch.com/)

Richard and I were looking forward to the THE Update.  For many years, we have wanted to attend but we were always on the road doing work.  We have been Human Element Practitioners for many years and use these principles in our daily lives.

We arrived the day before THE Update began.  We spent the morning with Bill Chadwick who once trained with us.  In the afternoon, we had a lazy lunch and wine tasting.

Nate, at the Westerbeke Ranch, was kind and let us drop off our luggage and other items early.  We were in the Yellow Cabin that had a small kitchen.  I needed a refrigerator for some medicines.  Nate said to go, drop off our belongings, and that the cabin was unlocked.  I asked when we would get a key and he shared that there are no keys.  Everyone is on the honor system.  Westerbeke Ranch uses the honor system for wine and beer purchases as well as purchases from their Gift Shop.  It works.

It was around this time that I figured out asking about the workout room was most likely unnecessary.  I also figured out that we would be walking throughout the beautiful landscaped ranch and that would be my workout.  It was.

For the first time in all the many years I have traveled with work, I came home weighing less than when I left.  I ate three great meals a day.  The food was phenomenal and healthy.  Fresh ingredients presented in a family style environment.  We talked often with the Chefs and they shared several recipes for me to use at home.

Westerbeck Ranch is near the ongoing fires.  I wish they had our steady rain from Tuesday.

I awoke Tuesday morning feeling a little saddened that we were not at Westerbeke Ranch.  I enjoyed not having a TV or phone in our cabin.  We fell asleep with the moon and awoke with the sun.  I miss the sounds of nature and the crispness in the air.

I plan to return  …one day.

VhS

Always Remember

Sadness and loss consumed me once again this morning and then I remembered …  there were great people doing great things that day.

A couple of years ago Leon J. Moreau IV (Level 3 Leadership Graduate) sent us the attached video.  I had no idea this leadership happened on 9 / 11. Average people (real leaders) stepped up and did what they had to do. Over 500,000 people rescued in less than 9 hours.

Please watch to the end and, then, watch again every year.

http://www.americanwaterways.com/media/videos/boatlift-0

VhS

IT IS OVER!

Monday, 14 August, was more emotional that I had anticipated.  I cried happy tears.  I am finished with the 18 rounds (one every 21 days beginning 22 August 2016) of chemotherapy drugs and Herceptin infusion.

Once the infusion was completed, many of the Clearview Cancer Center Oncologist Nurses gathered with us and I rang the bell to announce that this was finished.

The plaque next to the bell says to ring the bell three times.  I rang one long time as hard as I could.  I wanted the world to hear that this was finished.  People hugged me and said goodbye.

I saved the last hug and kiss for Richard. As always, Richard was by my side loving and caring for me.  Throughout this journey, I never wanted to let him down.  He has postponed so many business and life events to complete his mission “to save my life.”

The attached picture is of us kissing after the bell ring.

I understand better as to how my life has unfolded.  I know why my parents died in what seemed to early in life because they could have only seen me as a victim, as their injured baby in this journey.

I know that Richard entered my life to be there for me to thrive through this journey.

He is the love of my life.  So many medical people have told me that I am fortunate.  They share that many men remove themselves not only physically leaving the relationship but also emotionally distancing themselves from their wives / partners.

Here are some of my reflections since diagnosis in June 2016:

Positive relationships are at the core of beating cancer. 

Richard and I had a great relationship going into this journey and our relationship is stronger today.

The relationship I have with myself must be positive as well.  I had to believe in me that I could beat cancer.

Long after the appointments and treatments end, I am left with my body and what it endured.  It is critical to have a holistic team beating cancer.  Richard’s approach to confront this cancer treating the mind, body, and spirit allowed all of my resources to grow to defeat cancer.

Relationships with the Care Team must stay positive as well.  If a relationship is not working, tell the medical person why and what to change.  If that person will not work with you to meet your needs, fire them.  There is simply no room for negativity when on a cancer journey.  Trust me; there are plenty of treatment centers and doctors to meet a cancer patient’s needs.

Finally, we have learned who our “showed up” family and friends are.  The “showed up” are the people that gave love and support continuously.  At first, I was surprised when some people said absolutely nothing.  I understand that sometimes people may not know what to say but to say nothing is a loud conversation about the relationship.

Leaders …

Are you showing up?  Are you present?

-VhS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday About Noon…

My last infusion will be over at Clearview Cancer Institute.

We will come home and remove my chemo schedule from the kitchen refrigerator.

It has been a long year of treatments, learnings, and most importantly love.

I would not wish this journey on anyone but I would not go back to the life I once knew.

Have a great weekend.  Richard and I plan to.

It will be steak night at the Scherberger’s tonight with Scott, Gina and the grandchildren.  From diagnosis, Scott and Gina “showed up.”   It is wonderful to celebrate this year’s ending with them.

Until next week and a new beginning … Vicky

 

I Had A Mammogram This Morning

Because of the type of implants I have and the fact that my Plastic Surgeon is first a highly skilled physician and then an artist surgeon, I am required to have a six-month mammogram after reconstruction.  FDA required follow-ups are every year for two years and then an MRI at year three.  It is the only time in my Libertarian life that I am OK with a Government Agency tracking me.

I was nervous.  I asked Richard to go with me and once again, he would be waiting.  I returned to the Crestwood Women’s Center.

This is the place where it all began; where the journey started. The place where I learned a new vocabulary.  The place where I learned that I had breast cancer.  The place where Dr. S retrieved film after film showing these cancers were not visible on mammogram — only a suspicious lesion was visible.  The place where women medical professionals and radiologists guided me through the shock of breast cancer as they poked, filmed, and extracted parts of my breasts to give my Surgeon and Plastic Surgeon everything they needed for my emotional and physical recovery.  Despite a cancer journey starting at Crestwood, it is still a happy, caring place for me to go.  It is the place that started the work to rid me of cancer and save my life.  I remain grateful to Julie, Teresa and the others at Crestwood for being with us on this journey.

As I updated my paperwork, I noticed on the left side a long list of appointment times and procedures at Crestwood.  I did not read the list. I did not want to go down a road that is behind me.

For longer than many of my blog readers are old, I have had mammograms.  Each year I would look at the images of my former dense breasts and wondered when and if “something” would show up.

Today, the images I saw are 100% cancer free.  I will no longer wonder.  I am free. 

 I got a really nice rack in the deal too.

 Thanks for going with me, Richard, and holding my hand.

Leaders …      What roads do you want to put behind you?

What are your new roads to travel?

Who is on your journey?

-VhS

 

 

 

Twelve Days to Go

August 14, 2017 is my last treatment.  There are just twelve days to go.

I started writing about our cancer journey August 23, 2016.  Time is near to close this chapter and move forward. I will continue to write about our journey through the end of August.  September I will seek a new focus.

I have deeply appreciated everyone who has followed this blog, commented, and shared.

My intent in writing was to give you my truth, our experiences, openly and honestly.

A couple of items in the near future will be to finish my book about this journey. It is a book of hope.  If you have decided anything about what Richard and I have experienced, I hope you have found this journey to be one of growth and unbelievable commitment to each other.  We are both better in numerous ways as we close year one of our cancer battle.  We won.

I am also working on a list about the “reality of chemotherapy.”  It is a list of what we know now that we wished we had known before.   I want it to be a helpful guide to any other couple or family finding a cancer diagnosis in their lives.  I think it will be helpful to anyone who has a friend battling cancer.

Finally, one of my doctors told me to find a reward.  I am taking a couple of rings my Momma left me and having them reset.

I want to find a reward for Richard also.  What suggestions to do have?

Leaders …      What is in your future?

How concrete are your plans to achieve your future?

-VhS

 

 

Being Content

The title of the recent message series at our church is “Joy Ride.” It is a study through Philipians and the letters Paul wrote from prison.  In prison, he found contentment.  Paul could teach the gospel of Jesus to those that wanted to know why he would go to prison as opposed to stop preaching.

Contentment is a mental or emotional state of happiness and satisfaction.

Despite all that has happened these past 13 months, I am very happy and content.  I have learned what is important and to stay positive.  I simply enjoy living more.  Every day that I awaken is a blessing to me.

Sure, there have been some struggles.  I believe some struggle would be expected when given a cancer diagnosis. When my Oncologist told me I had an 80% – 85% chance for non-recurrence based on the general population with my types of cancers, I struggled with the 15% to 20% chance for recurrence.  It seemed like a high number.

When my genomic test results, based on my specific cancer tissue, gave me a 94.6% chance for non-recurrence, I danced on my shaggy eyelashes!  This result gave me a new reframe. What kicked into my belief system were more positivity and a belief in a better outcome.

I understand why Paul was content.

Leaders … Where do you find contentment?  How happy and satisfied are you in your work?

-VhS

I’m In A Pickle

“Down through the years, I have learned to take nothing for granted and to always remain grateful for blessings presented to you.”  From Julie via an encounter with another person.

Julie was the one who navigated us through the early stages of this cancer journey and continues today to provide loving care.  She has always made time to respond to any inquiry and lend a listening ear.

I think that for most of my life I took too many things for granted.  I took for granted that my Momma would be with me a long time and I could easily get her canning recipes whenever I wanted them.

I failed to pay attention when she canned her summer and fall gardens because I took for granted that there was plenty of time to watch her work.

Well … that didn’t exactly work out.

So now, I am in a pickle and stuck taking baby steps in this learning process of preserving foods from our garden.

I can make refrigerator pickles.  I am not skilled enough for canning yet.  The refrigerator pickles are really good.  Yesterday I made four quarts of garlic dill pickles.

Leaders …

Who and what are you taking for granted?

What is your action plan to change this?

-VhS

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

Wednesday, 12 July, makes one year of being cancer free.

It is also the one year anniversary of losing my boobs.  Yep, being cancer free came along with their demise.  Funny thing is that I really don’t miss my boobs.  These new ones are pretty awesome and they are cancer free.

It seems like all of this happened a decade ago.  There are days that I have forgotten what it was like not to have this cancer journey.

This anniversary brings the fast track treadmill we’ve been on to somewhat of a close.  There are only two infusion rounds left ending 14 August.  I will follow up with a series of six-month checkups from early 2017 surgeries.  Afterwards, I go into a semiannual and annual maintenance status.

Moreover, I will have my deportation soon!  Deportation means the removal on my chemo port.  The port allows access for my drugs without having to stick an arm vein at each treatment.  I am planning on cleaning the port and using it as a paperweight.

I asked Richard how he wanted to celebrate this anniversary.  He said with prayers of thanks.  I think that is a great way to start the day.

Leaders …  how do you mark anniversaries?  How do you celebrate the end of a project / event?  What are you thankful for and how do you acknowledge that thankfulness?

-VhS

 

 

 

 

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