A Journey of Leadership

9 / 11 has once again past.  Sadness and loss consumed me once again.

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.

VhS

 

 

My Chemo Rocks!

At chemotherapy.com, chemotherapy is defined as:

“Chemo is a type of treatment that includes a drug or combination of drugs to treat cancer. The goal of chemo is to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy is considered a systemic therapy. This means it may affect your entire body. Chemo drugs target rapidly growing cancer cells, but they can also affect healthy cells that grow rapidly. The effect of these drugs on both cancer and normal cells often causes chemo side effects.”

I want to share with you the positive aspects of chemotherapy.

  1. My friend Li-lien asked me to work with my chemo and embrace it for the best results.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we embraced and worked with all we encountered in a positive manner? 

  1. My friend from high school, Chantal, gave me three words to remember while undergoing chemotherapy.  Those words were hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Drinking water helps maintain pH balance, metabolism, and endless other benefits.  I am drinking alkaline water (more to follow later).

Wouldn’t it be incredible if we viewed downing a couple of glasses of water as easy as downing a couple of beers or glasses of wine? 

  1. Everything I have read and every health professional I have spoken to about activity and chemotherapy says that the more active a patient is the fewer side effects they encounter.  My side effects have been minimal and easily what I can handle. I exercise everyday.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we all moved a little more everyday because we saw the daily benefits instead of waiting for a health scare?

  1. Taking chemotherapy has made me more aware of my body, how to listen to it, and how to respond to it.

Wouldn’t it be terrific if we all were a little more aware? 

  1. Taking chemotherapy increases my opportunity to never see my cancer again by 85%. I want to live to see my grandchildren graduate and as Scott said, “graduate from grad school.”

Wouldn’t that be great odds for most anything?

All of the above are simply sound practices of an aware leader who takes care of their body and, therefore, is better able to serve others. 

Yes, there are some severe side effects to chemotherapy.  My fear is permanent hair loss.  So far, all hairs are accounted for!  In the next Thursday’s blog, Richard will share his out- of-the-box method for me to keep my hair.

-VhS

Why We Bother…

…to share this journey.

If one Father, Husband, Brother, Partner, Uncle, Friend says to a Daughter, Wife, Sister, Partner, Niece, Friend: 

          Are you currently and correctly doing your monthly breast exams?

          Have you scheduled your annual 3-D mammogram?

          Have you talked with your doctor about a Breast MRI?

          Are you listening to your body? 

Sharing this journey will be worth every thought, feeling, and experience we have encountered since May 23, 2016 if it makes a difference in another person’s life. 

I believe this is working. 

A good friend wrote me: “In hearing what Richard has done for you makes me hope that when I am faced with the same situation, I can muster the strength to act just as he has and be a wonderful man, husband, partner as he portrays.”  Next, he asked if there was anything he could do. 

Richard said to ask him to pray for his ex-wife so that this does not happen to her.  Richard continued to say that he prays for his own his ex-wife, Jennifer, so that this does not happen to her as well.  He prays for her husband so that he does not go through this, either. 

I said to Richard that am so sorry this happened to us. 

He replied that, in the Army, we say this builds character. 

And it does.  Oh, how it does. 

VhS and RjS

Why We Bother…

…to share this journey. 

If one Father, Husband, Brother, Partner, Uncle, Friend says to a Daughter, Wife, Sister, Partner, Niece, Friend: 

          Are you currently and correctly doing your monthly breast exams?

          Have you scheduled your annual 3-D mammogram?

          Have you talked with your doctor about a Breast MRI?

          Are you listening to your body?

Sharing this journey will be worth every thought, feeling, and experience we have encountered since May 23, 2016 if it makes a difference in another person’s life.

 I believe this is working. 

A good friend wrote me: “In hearing what Richard has done for you makes me hope that when I am faced with the same situation, I can muster the strength to act just as he has and be a wonderful man, husband, partner as he portrays.”  Next, he asked if there was anything he could do. 

Richard said to ask him to pray for his ex-wife so that this does not happen to her.  Richard continued to say that he prays for his own ex-wife, Jennifer, so that this does not happen to her as well.  He prays for her husband so that he does not go through this, either.

I said to Richard that am so sorry this happened to us. 

He replied that, in the Army, we say this builds character. 

And it does.  Oh, how it does.

VhS & RjS.

 

 

 

Caregiving Is Not For Wimps

The role of the Caretaker is hard.  Between the two of us, I believe that Richard has had the more difficult task in caring for me.  A Cancer Caregiver provides for not only the immediate needs (bathe, groom, dress) of the person with cancer but also for the interactions with the medical team and the functioning of the home.  Added to Richard’s duties was also running Executive Leadership Skills International.

There is also the Caregiver’s role in emotional support.  I cannot count the times he held me and just let me sob getting the pain out or at least trying to get the pain out.

Then there are the unspoken needs of the patient.  Somehow, Richard found the time to launder and pack away every bra I owned. When I returned from my surgery and opened my lingerie draw as I prepared to dress the next day, those items were gone saving me from looking at a reminder of what was no more.

He studied.  At medical appointments, he was prepared with questions and took notes. He took the lead and kept people focused on his mission.

He was already a great chef but took extra planning to ensure my meals were balanced.  Somehow, I managed to lose 12 pounds without exercising.

I do not know how I would have made this journey successfully without his love and support.

I believe that a Caregiver is the epitome of a Servant Leader and encompasses every aspect of Be – Know – Do.

If you know someone that is a Caregiver, offer your help.  I think of my friend whose Mother suffers with Alzheimer’s. I think of my friend who drives hours to check on her Daddy.  I know I can offer more support and actions to help them.  And, I will.

At my first surgery, Scott (son), Gina, and their two children extended their stay with us during a trip to help.  We came home from the hospital with the house perfect, dinner made, and even the dogs brushed!  At the second surgery, Scott and Gina managed the telephone call list and gave Richard uninterrupted time to be with me at the hospital.

So many friends have helped us.  From fully cooked meals, to stocking our freezer, tending the garden, buying cards for me to give to Richard, picking up the doggies and taking them to the vet’s, cards, flowers, phone calls, checking in on our needs…we have been blessed with love and support.

We were overwhelmed with your kind and supporting comments after the first article.  We were especially touched by your prayers for us.

-VhS

 

 

 

 

Richard Takes The Wheel …

When we realized the seriousness of the cancer and what lay ahead of us, Richard took the wheel.   

ADRP 6- 22 defines an Army Leader as “anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals.” 

Richard took the leader role, put a holistic team together, assigned responsibility, and led with inspiration.  I’ve always known what a great leader Richard is but to see him focused on this project showed me the depth of his commitment and his determination for success.  

He told me his mission was to save my life. 

He contacted clients and either cancelled or postponed work for June and July because my surgery was accelerated with the discovery of the second cancer. 

He asked our clients to respect my privacy and they did.  His influence in asking others to maintain my privacy greatly facilitated my recovery.  I was just not ready to share this with many people. 

The Holistic Team he put together covered mind, body, spirit.  Team members included the Surgeon, Plastic Surgeon, Oncologist, Christian Counselor, Nutritionist, Physical Therapist, and Primary Care Physician.  For those people we encountered that used a more traditional approach to cancer, I believe they were surprised at the inclusion of a counselor, physical therapist, and nutrition on this team.  I believe Richard’s holistic approach has influenced others to look beyond the medical component in treating cancer. 

Our insurance company provided a Case Manager who has helped us navigate the insurance side of this.  

And then, Richard became my Cancer Caregiver for every aspect of my physical and emotional healing.  That is another story …

-VhS

 

By The Hand of God…

… My cancer was discovered.

… Without going into too much detail but providing enough information to understand what happened, here is the rest of the story.

After the biopsy of the lesion, a “marker” was placed where sample tissue was removed. A marker alerts a radiologist reading a film that this section of the breast has been biopsied. I know the marker was there because there was a follow-up mammogram and I saw the marker on the film. There was enough suspicious material from the biopsy that I had a lumpectomy to remove the lesion.

When my surgeon (Dr. Z) removed the lesion, there was no marker.

Dr. Z removed another mass near the lesion and there was no marker. He removed a second mass and there was no marker. He brought in a portable x-ray machine and there was no marker.

          The lesion’s margins were negative for malignancy. Had the marker been there, he would have stopped with the removal of the lesion and given me a cancer-free bill of health.

The largest of the other mass had margins positive for malignancy.

For my values, I believe that the Hand of God removed the marker and guided my surgeon. There is no other explanation that makes sense.

Once diagnosed with breast cancer, I was eligible for a breast MRI. That MRI discovered a different cancer in the other breast.

I believe the discovery of these cancers has been a miracle.  In so many ways, I am blessed.

Now … for a little extra knowledge…

  1. Not all breast cancers are visible on mammography. Mine were not visible on mammography. Neither my physicians nor could I feel these tumors, and one tumor was 4.0 cm.
  2. When offered a 3-D mammogram, get it! Pay the difference out-of-pocket if your insurance does not cover the additional cost.
  3. Mammograms are only one part of breast care. Monthly self-examinations and annual examinations by your physician are additions to the care.
  4. If you have dense breasts, talk with your physician about a breast MRI.

I have thanked my surgeon many times for discovering my cancers and saving my life. He reminds me that my intuition was telling me that something was wrong in the first place, and was instrumental in the discovery as well.

I also believe that people are placed and reconnected in our lives for many reasons. The woman I sat behind most of high school because we were placed in last name alphabetical order is Chantal. She posts from time to time on Facebook about women listening to their bodies. I listened to you, Chantal, and to my body. I remain grateful for your encouragement to do so.

-VhS

 

It Has Been Awhile & We’ve Been on a Journey

For those of you who follow us on Leader Lines, Executive Leadership Skills International (Facebook), and Army Leadership by the Book (Facebook), you know it has been awhile since we posted.

It has been busy since 23 May 2016.

On 23 May 2016, I arranged for an early mammogram. I knew something was wrong. From a small suspicious lesion, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

In addition, I received a miracle from God along the way.

I also received the best care that anyone could ever wish for from Richard. He put everything on hold for my recovery. He researched and studied this disease. He designed a holistic plan (mind – body – spirit) for my full recovery. He brought together a medical and healing team for optimal success.

I have attached a picture from yesterday. It was Day 1 of Chemotherapy. (Look sideways!)

DSCN0821 - Copy
Day 1 Chemotherapy

These blogs will reflect on this journey and follow basic Army Leadership of Be – Know – Do.

  •           Be – the values and attributes that shape character.
  •           Know – the knowledge that leaders use.
  •           Do – the application of what is known through action.

Expect to hear from us a couple of times each week. I will share this journey focusing on our values, knowledge gained and applied, and actions we have taken.

A guideline that I would ask you to follow in your comments is to please write with and about dignity (quality of being worthy of honor or respect).

-VhS

Girl Scout Cookies to Those Deployed

One of our participants from a Leadership Program is deployed. He just got a large box of every type of Girl Scout Cookie sold in our city from us. He wrote to tell us how much he and his office mates enjoyed them.

If you would like to send Girl Scout Cookies to those deployed, take a look at this:

http://www.girlscouts.org/en/cookies/all-about-cookies/FAQs.html

“Girls may participate in a council-approved “Gift of Caring” or “Cookie Share” program that allows girls to collect donations of cookies for military personnel serving overseas.”

-VhS

Those Deployed

Richard and I pray everyday and throughout each day.

We always pray for everyone deployed in our defense, their families, and their safe return.

Here’s a video I encourage you to watch and listen until the end. You may need to paste it into your browser.

http://leaderlines.net/listen-and-watch/

Vicky

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