An im-PORT-ant day

Today got off to an early start.  I left home around 7:30am to allow enough time to travel to Duke and get parked and make it to my 9:00 am lab appointment.  They are so dang efficient in the Cancer Clinic Lab.  You check in, get a pager (like the ones they give you at Outback when you’re waiting for a table) and before you have a chance to get settled in your seat good, the pager is going off to let you know you’re up next for labs!  While I was standing in line to register, I got a message from my friend who just finished up her treatments about 6 months ago.  She was wishing me luck and letting me know she was praying for me today!  I just love those little “God-winks”!  Crazy how as many folks as they have back there doing labs, I got the same guy both times I’ve been.  It was a sweet but short relationship, as I told him I was here today to have my port installed, so I guess that meant we would be officially breaking up.  I told him it was truly nothing personal! 🙂 He took the news about the breakup better than I expected, and he wished me all the best going forward!

We had a little time to kill before my port appointment, so we ventured over to the Belk Boutique.  My friend Miranda had told me that they had some items they gave to new cancer patients.  I went in and asked about it, and sure enough there was a section of the boutique with scarves, hats, bandannas, toboggans, sleep caps, blankets, bracelets – lots of awesome items that were available to me.  I chose a blanket (everyone says you will need it in the infusion room), a bandanna and a awesome multicolored cap and a cool gift set!  I opted to save a few of my freebies for later!  Check out my swag!

I got a blanket, hat, bandanna, moisturizer, Burt’s Bees lip balm, toothpaste and hard candy from the Belk Boutique today!

Oh – and if you park in the parking deck and are there for labs, etc, you can get your parking ticket validated at the Belk Boutique also, and all day parking will only cost you $4.00.  What a nice discount.

**UPDATE** My friend Barbara just advised me that you get FREE parking on chemo days.  That’s fantastic!  Thanks for setting me straight Barbara!

A sweet friend took me to my appointments today.  She is a such a lovely person and has such a servant’s heart.  She asked the volunteer at the boutique if there were items they needed for the boutique to provide to cancer patients.  The volunteer shared several ideas with her and I know she will share those ideas with our friends at church and provide them with some extra supplies in no time!  We learned that the volunteer helping us was a 2 year breast cancer survivor and also a Christian.  She shared some of her joys and struggles and the next thing I knew, my friend was joining us all in a circle and praying for her right there in the boutique!  What a wonderful way to get our day started!  God keeps showing up along this pathway!

Next up was my appointment for my port placement.  My chemo doctor recommended the port be put in since I was going to have 12 chemo treatments.  It makes it easier on me and the hospital staff also.  I won’t have to worry about bad, rolling or collapsed veins – they will be able to draw blood, deliver IV’s, chemo, contrast, etc all through my port.  The procedure was pretty painless – other than the lidocaine shot to numb my neck and chest.  I’m a little sore around my neck and collarbone – but that should not last too awful long.  The stitches were internal and the incision is covered with surgical glue on the outside.  I’m a little bruised – but nothing terrible.  It feels a little weird having something like that implanted in my body – but they all assured me I would get accustomed to it being there.

My port was inserted a little ways down from my collarbone.

So now I’m all geared up and ready for my first chemo treatment on Wednesday.

A friend sent this message today…..I loved it!

One day down, is one day closer to the end!! 💪💪

It’s all about perspective!

Keep the prayers coming ya’ll!



2 Corinthians 9:8

8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.


A Day of Gatherings…..

This day has been jam packed!  We started off attending 8:30am worship this morning.  It was a day of celebrations!  During the service, we commissioned 4 adults and 16 youth for an upcoming mission trip with ASP (Appalachian Service Project).  Our group will be heading to rural Kentucky July 9th to do mission work there.  This is the first time we’ve had youth old enough to attend ASP and we are all excited for them and the blessings they will both give and receive from this experience.

Next we celebrated our Youth Pastor, Curtis Hammock and his wife Dori.  Curtis has recently been ordained as a licensed local pastor and today was his last day with us at Concord UMC! 😦  While we are so happy that he has answered the call to serve as an ordained minister, we will surely miss him and Dori and their sweet children.  It was truly bittersweet!  Curtis and Dori – we love you guys and know that you and your family will be a blessing to your new congregation, just as you have blessed us over the past few years.

Sooooo many people took time to wish me well and offer encouragement for me this week as I embark on my chemo regimen.  I continue to be amazed at the outpouring of love that has been showered on both me and my family through meals, calls, texts, cards, and visits.  We have been oh so blessed by our church family, family, friends, neighbors and even strangers.  Small town living ain’t so bad – and from where I sit, it’s times like this when folks truly show up and offer support in whatever form it is needed.  I’m truly thankful for this community!

Church was followed by “Sunday Lunch at BJ’s”.  My Aunt BJ prepared a table full of delicious food for lunch!  I’m still amazed at how she manages to get so much food cooked in such a short window of time.  I think she has some kind of super-power!  I think everyone is trying to make sure I eat good to “beef up” for this chemo! 🙂  There has been no shortage of good food for me over the past few weeks!  I completely forgot to get a picture of the meal she had prepared – sorry about that!  But trust me when I say it was mmmm mmmm good!


Doctors appointments and  hectic schedules of late has kept me and the girls from being able to have our “therapy lunches”.  That stinks and we are going to rectify it soon!  However – one of my therapy girls has had a full plate lately herself……so today I decided enough was enough –  and that we needed an emergency therapy session!  So we spent a few hours on the couch catching up and solving lots of problems.  It was good for my soul!

therapy session

The next thing you know, it’s dinner time!  Sunday dinners at my mom and dad’s are always a treat!  As I write this, I’m sure that you all must be thinking “Golly, she needs to be in a 12-step program for her food addiction!”  Yeah – we love to eat around here.  Mom  had prepared a feast for dinner!  So many of my favorites!!

There is nothing like fresh veggies!  YUM!  


And a wonderful blackberry cobbler compliments of Hunter Vaughan!  Gran had a “training session” with him and Haden one day a few years ago and it was time well spent!  These boys can cook! And yes – it tastes just as good as it looks! 

Yes… and fellowship…..that’s how we show love in this family.  And trust me – there is an endless supply of that around here!  Good times gathered round the table…..laughing, talking, debating……and arguing over who gets the last serving! 🙂

What an awesome Sunday!  So thankful for all the “gatherings” on this day.  Every one of them was special.

Til next time!


Romans 1:12

that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.



Pre-Game Prep

We had a wonderful and relaxing vacation even if the weather wasn’t in our favor every day.  Now we are back home and taking care of business.

Awww, wish we were still there……living the dream! 🙂

Today was “pre-game prep day”!  Next week is a busy one…..Monday I have lab work done and my port placement followed by my first round of chemo on Wednesday.  I spent some time today gathering lots of things I’ve been advised to have “on hand” for chemo.

While mom and I were at my oncology appointments last week, she brought her Scout bag and had some reading material, water, snacks, etc.  in it.  I love those bags – they are so lightweight and durable and I  decided that’s just what I needed to pack my chemo essentials in.  Got me a Scout bag purchased and monogrammed (thanks Heidi)!

Here’s some things I’ve been advised to have on hand:

  • Everyone has said “take your iPad/computer to watch movies, or surf the net” so I made sure I got a bag large enough to accommodate my laptop.
  • Candy to get the yucky taste out of my mouth when they flush my port…..Jolly Ranchers and Sour Patch candies were highly recommended (thanks Miranda) as well as orange Tic-Tacs!
  • Hand sanitizer and baby wipes since infections are a no-no!
  • Pedia-pops for days when I may not really want anything to eat.
  • Migraine meds – since I suffer from migraines anyway, the pharmacist recommended I have them on hand for chemo day since we don’t know how I will react to it!
  • Biotene for dry mouth.
  • Several different kinds of anti-nausea meds as well as a patch.
  • Duke’s Magic Mouthwash for mouth sores.
  • Water……and more water……and more water……
  • Snacks
  • Lip balm to keep my lips moisturized

Pre-Game prep is done.  Mission Accomplished! Hmmm……..maybe I should have bought a larger bag! 🙂

Chemo Essentials

I’m sure this list may grow – but I think I’m off to a good start!  I’m sure I’ll throw in a book also……even with all the e-books available on Kindle, I just like to hold a book in my hands. I bought a new book at the beach this week, but if anyone has any “must read” recommendations, let me know!

Proverbs 21:31

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.

Happy Saturday everyone!  Be awesome today and every day!




This is How We Do It!!

We planned our summer vacation months ago – and there was really no rhyme or reason to it other than my husband had 3 weeks available that he could take off.  Two of those weeks would not work for us because Hunter would already be back in school in late August… our dates were chosen purely by the process of elimination!

Clearly “cancer” wasn’t in the picture when we picked our vacation.

Want to see how God works?  The week that we had chosen months ago for our vacation turned out to be the week immediately BEFORE my chemo treatments are scheduled to start!!  Amazing!  Everybody hopes for sunny days when you are on vacation at the beach – and we are no exception.  We’ve had some sunny days – but boy were they windy!  We’ve managed to take the boat out one day so far – but between the wind and summer storms, the weather has not been in our favor to do the things we’d planned.  Every time the guys get their fishing stuff together to walk out the door – down comes the rain again!  The old Sonja would have been pissed……but “Cancer Sonja 2.0” (this is the title that Hunter gave me after my 2nd cancer surgery – that warped sense of humor runs deep at our house!) has kind of enjoyed the down time…..and just being here with my two favorite fellas.  We’ve spent time on the deck watching the boats, shopping, watching TV, reading, playing Yahtzee and other games and oh yes – EATING!

It’s quite possible I might have gained 10 pounds on this trip!  I love food!  All kinds of food – and while I know chemo affects everyone differently – many have said it changes their tastes.  Things they loved no longer taste as good – and honestly, I’ve probably been more concerned over this stinking chemo messing with the tastes of my favorite foods than I have been over the chemo causing me to lose my hair.  I mean, it’s all about priorities, right???

Well, CC has given me free reign to eat any and everything I want this week.  So guess what – I am trying hard not to disappoint him!!!

So……this is how we do it….

when things don’t quite go the way WE had planned! 🙂


CC is known for his “beach breakfasts”.  He’s usually the first one up and he will get the griddle out and cook up a breakfast buffet.  He never disappoints!  Breakfast with a view!
El’s Drive-In is a “must” stop EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
fishing the docks
The fellas finally got a chance to do a little fishing from the docks!
Our “go-to” for bar food!  They have something for everyone!


Finally made it to Happycakes!  Hunter had the S’mores Cupcake!


I opted for the Turtle Cupcake.  Can you say “ahhhmazing”!!


sunday on the boat
Sunday on the boat……

Even the best laid plans don’t always work out……and often times, that’s a good thing!  We’ve not had the weather we hoped for – but we have had a lot of time together – eating, laughing, talking, fishing, and just enjoying each other.  Clearly God knew ALL of us would need this time to rest, relax, refresh and recharge (oh, and REFUEL) before my chemo starts!

Gotta run…….somebody has to be in charge of planning that next meal! hahahaha!


Psalm 116:7  “Relax, because the Lord takes care of you.”

How we got here…

This is the post excerpt.

On April 18, 2017 – my life was pretty normal….well, there are those that would argue that I’ve NEVER been normal, but…..anyway, I had an appointment for my yearly OB/GYN visit.  During that visit, I mentioned to my doctor that I had been experiencing some “tenderness” under my left armpit area.  I really thought the underwire in my bra was causing it (probably due to a FEW extra pounds I’d put on) but felt it was worth mentioning.  After several attempts to locate the area of my “tenderness”, the doctor found the culprit, a lump.  My doctor was optimistic it was merely a cyst, due to the feel of it, and the fact that it was tender (everyone will tell you that cancer is not typically painful).  He sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound to determine what it really was. I was able to get an appointment the same day.  Mammogram appeared to show a cyst, while the ultrasound did not appear to show a cyst.  The only way to know for sure was to do a biopsy.  I was scheduled to come back in a week for a biopsy on April 26th, 2017.  During the biopsy, the doctor saw yet ANOTHER mass that had not been apparent on either the mammogram or ultrasound the previous week.  She biopsied BOTH spots.  The next 5 days were truly the LONGEST of my life…..waiting to hear the results from the biopsy.  A phone call from the radiologist on May 1, 2107 confirmed that the biopsy results showed both spots tested positive for CANCER!  Seriously?  How can this be?  How can I feel totally fine and healthy and have cancer?  The pathology showed a Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – the mass measured 2.4 cm.  I was blessed immensely and was able to see the surgeon that same week on Friday, May 5th.  After consultation with her, I opted to have a lumpectomy + radiation in hopes of riding myself of this beast.  The lumpectomy was scheduled for Thursday, May 25th.  Surgery went well, recovery was great.  All that was left was to wait AGAIN for the pathology results that would let us know if we got clear margins.  A call from the PA on May 31st indicated that the doctor had NOT been able to get clear margins (the tumor was larger than it had appeared on the scans) and cancer cells were found in my Sentinel Lymph Node that was removed during surgery.   The tumor was shaped a bit like a sea urchin – with tentacles going in many directions.  Clear margins were achieved on 3 sides of the tumor.  Next we waited for radiation and medical oncology to review my pathology and recommend to the surgeon whether or not they needed to remove any additional lymph nodes when the re-excision surgery was done.  Oncology recommended NOT removing any more lymph nodes – they would just target them with radiation.  Surgery was set for June 8th, 2017.  The surgery was successful and clear margins were obtained.  Next up were visits with medical and radiation oncology at Duke University Cancer Center on June 14th.  The long and short of it is that I will be needing 12 doses of chemo (4 doses of CEF or FEC – it’s a combination of 3 drugs Cytoxan, Epirubicin and Fluorouracil) followed by 8 doses of Taxol.  Once chemo is over, I may get a mini break and then start radiation.  They have recommended 6 weeks of radiation at 5 days/week for a total of 30 doses of radiation.  Doing a little bit of math in my head (which is NOT my strong point) it quickly became obvious that I would spent the majority of the rest of 2017 at Duke Cancer Center.  While it’s not the Ritz Carlton or as exciting as an all-inclusive vacation – I am oh so thankful that Duke Cancer Center is less than one hour from home.  I am very fortunate to have such a world-class facility right in my back yard.

Thursday, June 15th CC and I spent over 1.5 hrs with the oncology pharmacist at Duke Cancer Center.  She went over the first chemo regimen that I will be doing (CEF or FEC depending on your preference…..same drugs either way).  She also spent a lot of time talking about the side effects and everything they do to try to minimize any nausea, sickness, etc.  It was a very informative meeting.  She sent me home with printed calendars with treatment days listed, when to take meds, what to do in event of fever – you name it, she prepared us for it.  She said her goal was to make this treatment as boring as possible and hopefully to keep me as healthy as possible during this.

I am scheduled to have labs done and port put in on Monday, June 26, 2017 and I will start my first dose of CEF on Wednesday, June 28, 2017.

Pshew…..ALOT has happened since April 18th.

I have been journaling this mess since it started.  Mostly because it was therapeutic and also because I wanted to be able look back on this and see all the ways that God blessed me in the midst of all of this “chaos that is cancer”.   I’m not a very private person – I probably “overshare”…..but I truly felt like the more people that knew my story, the more people that I would have praying for me and the better off I would be.  So this blog is my attempt at sharing my story.  The highs and lows……the pretty and the not so pretty.  If sharing my story encourages JUST ONE woman to get her yearly breast exam, then it will not be in vain……or if it encourages another breast cancer warrior who is fighting this same fight alongside of me, then I will count that as a blessing as well.

This much I know is true…….God’s hands have been oh so apparent during EVERY. SINGLE. STEP. of this story so far.  It’s amazing just how many times HE has shown up and shown off and given me that not so gentle nudge letting me know that HE is right here with me and my family as we navigate the days ahead.  I intend to give HIM all the glory for the big things and the small things.  Having a cancer diagnosis truly changes you in an instant.  Your attitude…….your outlook…..your priorities……the ability to discern what things really matter and what truly is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

So…..that’s where we are right now.  Here’s to kicking this cancer right where it hurts!  And the good news is – these were just “temporary lumps”…..the real “lumps” have been removed from my body (Praise God) – but this cancer WILL NOT define me.  This chaos that is cancer is just a “temporary lump” along the course of my life.  I’m going to look back on this adventure one day and say “you know, it wasn’t ALL bad”.  I just met a new friend this weekend – she is a breast cancer survivor (just finished up her treatments around Thanksgiving 2016) and she said to me “the treatments were long and tough some days, but I was tougher”!!  I plan to look back on this mess and say the same thing…..that, with God’s help, I was tougher than all the surgeries, doctors appointments, lab work, scans, treatments, etc.  Stay tuned to hear me make that same proclamation!

**Disclaimer** for those that don’t know me personally, let me issue this disclaimer.  I have a pretty warped sense of humor…..and have been known to make jokes about this cancer.  It’s not meant to be rude – it’s just who I am.  Laughing is much better than crying……and I’m choosing to laugh my way through this mess every chance I get!

Thanks for taking time to read my blog.  I pray that you’ll hang around with me for the rest of this ride and celebrate with me when we get to the finish line!

Blessings to you!