If your remember, on my last update, I was sad to report that I had been diagnosed with Flu B.  Thankfully – I had just finished a round of Tamiflu, so I think I was able to kick the flu a little quicker because of that.  About a week after my diagnosis, I was feeling better thank the Lord.

Last Thursday I was scheduled for my baseline Bone Density Test.  That was one of the fastest appointments I’ve had at Duke.  I was called back before my appointment time, changed into a gown and less than 5 minutes later, I was dressed and on my way back home.  What a pleasant surprise.

My radiation oncologist had made a return visit for me last Friday to follow up from the flu.  She had said if I was better, I could cancel it……and I seriously thought about it…..especially since I had just been to Duke on Thursday – who wanted to go back again if it wasn’t NECESSARY.  The only thing holding me back was the fact that I still had a very nasty cough that just wouldn’t seem to go away.  But I’d talked to several folks who were recovering from the flu and most of them said the cough just hung around forever – so I kinda thought it was just part of the process.  Of course, I mentioned to my mom that I was considering NOT going to the doctor and she quickly informed me that she thought I should definitely go and see what they said about my cough.  Hopefully it was nothing – but better safe than sorry.  And truthfully – she was right.  She even went with me to the appointment (I think mostly so she could make sure I went and didn’t take off shopping)!

My lungs sounded great when the PA checked me out.  She agreed, however, that my cough was going on a bit long and she felt like it was prudent that we investigate it a little further.  She ordered a CT scan and I was blessed to be able to have one that day within an hour.  Some days you just hit the hospital lottery!  I walked over to the Medical Pavilion to have my CT scan and was called back before I could get seated good.  The CT took about 3.5 minutes and then I was on my way.

I wasn’t really expecting to know anything from the CT scan til probably the following week…..but I actually received a voicemail from the PA Friday night about 7:41 saying she was just calling me to follow up on the CT and if I hadn’t heard back from her by Monday morning, to give her a call on Monday…….which I did.  When we were finally able to connect on Monday evening – she informed me that the good news was there was no signs of cancer …….HUGE sigh of relief…….but that there was evidence of pneumonitis.  Grrrrr.  My doctor had told me of the possibility of pneumonitis literally the very first day I consulted with her….but of course we had hoped that we wouldn’t have to deal with it.

For those of you who are like me and may had never heard of pneumonitis before –

Pneumonitis (noo-moe-NIE-tis) is a general term that refers to inflammation of lung tissue. Technically, pneumonia is a type of pneumonitis because the infection causes inflammation. Pneumonitis, however, is usually used by doctors to refer to noninfectious causes of lung inflammation.   If pneumonitis is undetected or left untreated, you may gradually develop chronic pneumonitis, which can result in scarring (fibrosis) in the lungs.

Pneumonitis, a noninfectious inflammation of the lungs, is a side effect associated with several cancer treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy as well as newer targeted drugs and immunotherapies. The symptoms range from mild to severe respiratory symptoms but may not appear until weeks to months into treatment — and sometimes long after treatments end — leading to frequent misdiagnoses, particularly because the symptoms resemble those of pneumonia.

if you’d like to read more – here’s a link with some additional information

 According to the doctor – one of the types of chemo that I received can cause pneumonitis as well as the radiation……so I kinda had a double whammy.  On top of that, the breathing issues I experienced when I had those few Taxol treatments already had my system compromised a bit.
Even though the doctor had mentioned this all along – of course we had HOPED and PRAYED that I would avoid it.  But that wasn’t to be the case.  Soooo…… they put me on a high dose of steroids for the next 5 weeks and I pray that will take care of.  They have all ready warned me if I’m not better at the 5 week mark, that we may do an additional 3 weeks of steroids.  Whatever it takes.  The Good Lord has seen me through the past 11 months…..I have faith He will see me through this hurdle too.  (gosh is it possible that next month will be a year since all this started)???
That being said…….to quote Uncle Joe from Madea, I may be “big as a Buick” by the time I finish these steroids.  So if you are looking for me any time in the next 5 weeks, if I’m not at home, check the closest buffets! 🙂
So…….as bad as I hate to say it…….Mom was right.  It was prudent for me to take the time to go back to the doctor to have my cough investigated.  While we didn’t get the news we had hoped – at least we know and have a plan.  I’m glad I went and let them check me out a little further.  Better safe than sorry.
Now you know that when you see me and I’m still coughing like a villain, I’m NOT contagious……but just having a difficult time shedding this cough.  Hopefully I will start to see some improvement soon.
On a brighter note……today we celebrated Hunter’s 15th birthday.  How is it possible that my child now has his learner’s permit?  God blessed us with a wonderful son.  He’s kind, sweet, sensitive, caring, smart, compassionate and just an all-around good kid.  I am so proud to be his mom!

Prayers for a great rest of your week.


Romans 15:13 New International Version (NIV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Thinking Out Loud

Well it’s been a minute since I’ve posted.  Things got a little crazy around here.  CC was diagnosed with the flu in mid-February…….and my doctor put me on Tamiflu the same day he was diagnosed and I tried as hard as I could to stay away from his cooties.  I slept in the spare bedroom, disinfected the house like a villain, diffused essential oils, washed, washed, washed my hands, drank elderberry syrup…….you name it, I did my best to avoid it.  What’s that they say about the best laid plans?  Well – the flu caught me too!  Crazy enough we had both had the flu shot this year (this was the very first year I’ve EVER had it, but my oncologists strongly recommended that I take it).  CC was diagnosed on a Sunday and by the following Friday – I was feeling like crap!  The worst part was the terrible cough and congestion.  Because of the timing of my illness, there was some concern that I may have pneumonitis (often a side effect of radiation that can show up a month or more after treatment).  My radiation oncologist ordered x-rays to be sure what we were dealing with.  Thank goodness there was no pneumonitis – but she called me later that day to say that I, too, had tested positive for Flu B.  Are you kidding me?


I’m happy to report that we are both feeling much better at this time.  Praise God!  That was a rough few weeks.  I still have a terrible nagging cough – but who knows if that’s from the flu or from this crazy weather that now has everything blooming outside!

My strength is coming back day by day.  I’m finding it easier to be out and about doing things for longer periods of time.  Slowly but surely life is getting back to normal.

Tomorrow I have an appointment for a bone density test – they ordered that after they put me on the Tamoxifen.  Guess we need a baseline reading on my bone health.  Hopefully that will be a quick trip tomorrow.  I have enjoyed not having to travel to Duke on a daily basis these past few weeks!

I seem to be adjusting okay to the Tamoxifen.  Yeah – I started experiencing major “power surges” literally within the first 24 hours of starting the meds.  They occur sporadically all through the day and night.  Fun times!  I haven’t felt like I’ve experienced any “mood swings” – which seems to be a common side effect of the meds.  My guys haven’t seemed to complain, so I hope we can avoid that one!  I’m finding that nothing really sounds good when it comes to food.  Food tastes pretty normal now so that’s a good thing……but even foods I have always loved just don’t appeal to me like before.  Or I’ll spend all day thinking about the yummy dinner I’m gonna cook and then by the time it’s ready – it’s not appealing to me at all.  I dunno.  Maybe this is a good thing?  Maybe I’ll lose some weight?  Fat chance!

My hair is coming back and it’s grown a bunch over the past few weeks. Many folks have asked me if my hair is coming back it’s natural color.  HELLO PEOPLE……I’d been coloring my hair for so long, who the heck remembers what my natural color looked like???  Last I knew, it was almost black.  Now it’s coming back baby soft and very much in a salt and pepper color!  I haven’t noticed ANY. SINGLE. BIT. OF. CURL………DANGIT!  I had sooooo hoped I’d have some ringlets!  Or at the very least a little bit of body!  I’m still holding out for that!  I want Melva Thompson hair! 🙂


Here’s wishing each of you a wonderful rest of the week.  I challenge each of you to find some JOY in each day.  Even in the midst of chaos – look for the blessing that tucked away somewhere around the corner.  Choose to be optimistic rather than pessimistic…….choose to see the glass as half full rather than half empty……and by golly, be nice to yourself every now and then.  Right Tina Morris?  It’s okay to buy yourself a bouquet of flowers or treat yourself to something special.

But ya’ll……seriously……with all the crap that’s going on in the world around us……there’s a lot of bad stuff, but a heckuva lot of good stuff too……and we may not be able to do much but one thing we can all do is just BE KIND.  It’s just that easy.  Need some ideas?

be kind

Choose kindness……..every time!



Colossians 3:12-14 The Message (MSG)

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

A Few of My Favorite Things

It’s been a little while since I last posted – but I am happy to report that I have been doing well and getting stronger each and every day.  My energy level is improving each day.  I’m ready to feel like my old self again.

CC was diagnosed with the Flu B on Sunday, so I was immediately put on Tamiflu in an effort to keep me well.


Yesterday I had someone share with me that a friend of theirs had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer…….and she asked me what were some of my favorite things that folks did for me.  We messaged back and forth with ideas, etc and she recommended that I do a blog post featuring my favorite things……she said “people want to help, but don’t always know how”.  Well here goes……..and these are in no particular order.

  • Meal Train – having friends arrange an on-line meal train was wonderful.  It allowed us to pick days we did or didn’t want meal deliveries.  On days when I felt like crap and didn’t feel like eating – at least there were meals here for CC and Hunter.  It was a true blessing.
  • Silk Pillowcase – a dear friend sent me a pink silk pillowcase and after I lost my hair from chemo.  Even though my hair is growing back now – I haven’t been able to give up my pillowcase!
  • Chemo Bag – I bought a Scout Bag with several pockets and used that for my chemo bag.  Inside I packed the following:  blanket, phone charger, hand sanitizer, orange tic tacs (to help with the taste of saline when they flushed my port), snacks, lip balm, Cusomething to read, hand wipes, ACT lozenges for dry mouth,
  • Transportation – having friends and family arrange to transport me to doctors appointments, chemotherapy sessions and radiation treatments was such a blessing.
  • Journal & great pens – having a journal to record visits, calls, thoughts, etc was very therapeutic.
  • Gift cards –  during chemo when I was battling with mouth sores, soups were about the only thing I could eat.  We have a deli in town that has a variety of soups.  I was gifted several rounds of gift cards there and they were such a blessing.  But gift cards in general are great – that would allow the family the ability to grab dinner on the go at times.
  • Books – hands down this was my favorite read.
  • Milkshakes – on days when eating just wasn’t in the cards……and nothing sounded good – a banana milk shake was my go-to.  I had folks call or text at random times to say “I’m in town, can I bring you a milkshake”?.  YESSSSS please!
  • Adult Coloring Books & Pencils – these offer a great escape when you’re sitting and waiting in the hospital.
  • Cute Caps – these are definitely a MUST – even if they lose their hair in the summer time, your head still gets cold.  Do you knit or crochet?  Even better!  Make them some super cute caps!
  • Lip balm –  chemo really really dried out my lips – so I kept lip balm on my nightstand, in the car, on the end table, in my coat pocket…… get the picture.
  • Cleaning – whether you go and do a few loads of laundry or clean out the refrigerator – those are truly great gifts.  Or maybe you prefer to pay a cleaning service to come in and clean – that works too!
  • Port shirt – these are fantastic for chemo.  The zippers allow for super easy access to the port.  They come in several different colors and long and short sleeves!
  • Cards of Encouragement – I have received an enormous amount of cards since my diagnosis.  Some days I got a bunch and then some days just a few – but I treasured each one.  If you are a card sender – DO NOT underestimate the value of sending cards.  They are truly treasured!
  • Goody baskets – Gosh, I got my very first taste of Shari’s Berries last summer.  Can you say DELICIOUS???  Goodness these things were awesome.  I also received a wonderful gift basket with lots of yummy goodness from NC.  NC Country ham, pancake mix, grits, and homemade preserves. Yummy!  These were gifts the entire family was able to enjoy!
  • Schedule some time to just hang out –  we really get sick of ONLY talking about cancer……I promise.  I remember one day a friend came by and had lunch with me and was sharing about a work issue.  She apologized for venting to me saying something like “you have cancer and here I am going on about this small issue”.  NO!!! I WELCOMED the distraction.  Cancer patients are still normal human beings.  We want to talk about kids, school, church, what’s going on in the world around us, vacation plans, etc.  Just schedule an hour or so to just come by, hang out and catch up.  Normal feels good.
  • Therapy lunches or getaways – i tried as much as possible to still have our weekly therapy lunches with my girls.  It didn’t always happen – but when I felt like it, we always tried to work something out.  Again – keep doing what you’ve always done.  And if the patient is well enough to sneak away for a few days – a girl or guys weekend away can do wonders.
  • Shop for a wig – losing my hair wasn’t such a big deal for me – but the idea of shopping for a wig was a little scary.  I was fortunate to have a wonderful friend from church who offered to take me to Raleigh to the Gallery of Wigs.  A trip I truly dreaded turned into SO – MUCH – FUN!  If you’re a great encourager – offer to take them shopping for wigs!
  • Make life normal for the kids – this one was HUGE for me.  my son was 14 when I was diagnosed with cancer.  Fourteen is difficult enough on a good day – but factor in a mom battling cancer, and that just gets even more complicated.  Having folks offer to take my child places, do things with him, invite him to movies, games, etc – anything to get him AWAY from the house and the constant reminder of cancer.  That was a HUGE blessing to me.  So if you can borrow the kid for a play date, a day at the lake, a trip to get ice cream, movies, dinner out – ANYTHING…….I promise you if you are keeping their kids engaged, that’s blessing the patient also!

I’m sure I will think of many more ideas – but these were just the ones that stood out.  I will try to keep this page updated with ideas so the next time I’m asked, I can just send them a link to this post!   I can promise you that no act of kindness – no matter how small or great – will go unnoticed.  I was and continue to be thankful for everything that has been done for me and my family.  My “tribe” and my community showed up in big and small ways – and I am forever grateful!

I hope this list helps those of you who were looking for ideas.  And by all means – if any of you have great ideas you’d like to add, please send me a note and I’ll add your favorites also!



Luke 6:38 New International Version (NIV)

38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Hebrews 13:2 New International Version (NIV)

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed

Well I enjoyed a wonderful two weeks with NOTHING on my calendar.  No appointments, no treatments……just NOTHING.  What a blessing that was.  I didn’t feel my best earlier in the week – I had some headaches, wasn’t sleeping great and just feeling yucky…..almost like I was trying to come down with something, but thankfully, that passed and I felt much better as the week went on.  I enjoyed a lot of Netflix time.

***Side note – if you have Netflix and HAVE NOT watched Parenthood……oh my……add that to your list of MUST SEE TV.  It really is an awesome show!!  Yeah – I mighta watched all 6 seasons in record time!  #allthefeels #missthebravermans #reallifestuff

Wednesday I had my follow-up appointment with my medical oncologist.  My blood work was incredible she said.  My potassium was a bit low – but other than that, everything looked fantastic.  Praise God!  My radiation burns are healing nicely.  The area under my arm pit is almost completely healed.

We discussed immunotherapy and she put me on Tamoxifen for the next 10 years.  I admit I was startled when she said 10 years – most folks I know that have taken Tamoxifen have only been on it for 5 years……but as we all know, things change.  There are new studies out indicating that studies have shown that taking tamoxifen for 10 years reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence and death more than taking tamoxifen 5 years……so there ya go.

As with any drug – there’s a host of potential side effects…….so the plan is for me to start on the Tamoxifen and go back to the doctor in April to see how I’m tolerating the drug.  I hope and pray that I don’t have any issues with it – but she assured me there were other options for me if this one didn’t work out.

I will go back next month for a bone-density test.  So between follow ups with the surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist – my Duke My Chart is already full of return appointments set up for the rest of the year.  They said the first year is the worst – lots of follow-ups and return visits.  I will see the surgeon every 6 months for 2 years.  I’m already scheduled to return to the surgeon for a visit and a mammogram in May.  But……the hard stuff is behind me.  I can handle random appointments and tests for sure.

These last 9 months have seemed like an eternity and then they seem to have passed rather quickly.  So much has happened…….I have encountered so much GOOD over the past 9 months.  I have been loved on like nobody’s business.  From family, friends and folks I didn’t even know.  I have felt the overwhelming power of prayer – and the peace that only God can give us.  I’ve been moved to tears when I had friends say “I was up and down all night praying for you” and I’ve been the recipient of so much love and kindness in so many forms (cards, food, texts, visits, calls, gifts, money, transportation, prayers, etc).  I will be forever grateful…..and I know I got a little slack on thank you notes…..but please know that I appreciate every act of kindness that has been shown to me and my family during all this mess.

Several folks have asked if I”ll continue blogging.  My initial thought is this……I pray my life is uneventful enough that I won’t have much to say! 🙂  But……if you know me…….you know I’m typically not ever at a loss for words no matter how mundane and uneventful life may be.  So we’ll just see.  Stay tuned!

My prayer has been that God would take my MESS and turn it into a MESSage.……and for the rest of my life, I will continue to praise Him for the many ways He has blessed me always…….but especially over the past year…..and I will continue to share my personal testimony of how He saw me through one of the toughest battles of my life.  I have been praying for God to reveal to me my “purpose”…….and I trust that He will answer me……in His time.

Until next time,


Acts 20:24 The Message (MSG)

22-24 “But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.

Finding My New Normal

It’s now been exactly one week since I completed my last radiation treatment.  And what a wonderful week it’s been.  I really can’t describe just how awesome it’s been to have NOTHING on my calendar.  No labs……no doctors appointments……no treatments……NOTHING!  It’s quite a welcome change!

The fatigue is still a big issue – and Saturday I took the liberty of having a “pajama day”.  I had the most relaxing day at home doing NOTHING and it was wonderful.  This week, however,  I’m trying to MAKE myself get up and do SOMETHING each day.  Even if it’s only for a few hours.  Sometimes – just getting up and getting moving helps.

Call me crazy (you won’t be the first)…..but last week, for the first time since my cancer diagnosis……I truly experienced a little fear.  How crazy is it that this fear only showed up AFTER the chaos of the past nine months…….AFTER all the hard stuff was over.  But a few days after completing radiation – I had this realization that there had been a HUGE sense of security during all my chemo and radiation treatments.  I was constantly at the hospital, having blood work, getting chemo or radiation, and X-rays, and weekly visits with the doctor……but NOW……all of that is over.  I mean, I’ll still have sporadic visits with the doctors but nothing like before.  Being at the hospital so much, there was this enormous sense of security regarding my health – because they were constantly checking me and looking out for me.

Now…..well, that FEAR crept in big time last week.  I remember having a conversation with myself (don’t judge) saying “here is where you find out just how big your faith is”.   I admit that I have had the utmost faith in my doctors, nurses, therapists, etc from the beginning.  Faith that they were going to do the absolute best they could in efforts to rid my body of this cancer.   I’ve also had faith that God was going to see me through this – whatever that looked like…..but that FEAR kept creeping in.  Was I really going to be able to trust and believe that I had been healed?  Was I going to have the confidence to move forward with my life and not let this fear paralyze me?  I messaged my friend Miranda saying “while i’m happy to be done with treatment, there was always this sense of security being at the hospital every single day.”  She responded back confirming that what I was feeling was completely normal…….and while it does get better, it takes awhile.    Okay – so at least there was some validity to what I was feeling……and obviously others have experienced this same fear as well.

So……let me set the stage for what happened next.

Several weeks ago, my friend Lisa felt led to start a Bible Study in her home.  We were going to meet on Friday nights.  The first week she held the class, I was out of town, so I was unable to go.  The next week, we got hit by a small blizzard in the middle of the week…..and because there was still snow and ice hanging around, she decided it was best to cancel that Friday.  Here is what she posted about cancelling that night (January 19th was the actual date).

Bible study at my home is canceled for tonight. While the roads are clear, Westover and my driveway are still pretty icy. I am most concerned about someone slipping and falling while getting from the road into the house. We will resume next Friday at 6:30 p.m. Come and enjoy! Our topic will still be “Walking from fear into faith”. It will be a great time! Hope to see you!

So…..last week we were able to meet on Friday night at her home.  Our topic was “Walking from fear into faith”…….the study she had prepared the week prior before the snowpocalypse.  We discussed that fear is real.  And fear is designed by God to alert us to danger……and it’s not realistic to think we can live without fear at times.

Psalm 56:3-4 says

But when I am afraid,
    I will put my trust in you.
I praise God for what he has promised.
    I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
    What can mere mortals do to me?

Hebrews 11:1 “Now Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

So was my faith, indeed, bigger than my fear?  As I sat there Friday night – I wasn’t sure why anybody else had come, because I was CONFIDENT that God intended this message JUST FOR ME.

Isn’t it cool to sit back and look at how God works?  You see – the Friday before (the original date we were to discuss this topic) I still had two radiation treatments left.  I had not yet felt this fear creep in.   God’s timing is always perfect.  And although Lisa had prepared this study a week prior – God knew that these fears were going to creep in for me last week.  He knew just when I needed to hear this!  Once again – I got cold chills.

We also discussed these 4 Truths

#1 – God Loves us (as shown in John 3:16, John 16:27 and Romans 5:5)

#2 – God knows what is going on in our lives (Matthew 6:31-32, Psalms 139:1-10)

$3 – God can do something about it (Genesis 18:14, Luke 1:37)

#4 – You can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do (Proverbs 3:5, Psalms 119:68)

For obvious reasons – Truth #2 really stood out to me.  God knows what’s going on in my life (just like He knows what’s going on in yours).  He knows my fears – and He knew those fears were going to creep in……and HE knew I needed to hear this study on that very topic on this exact night!

Before we wrapped up our study Friday night, we listened to this song “Trust in You” by Laura Daigle.  I’ve heard this song many, many times……but on this particular night, the words resonated with me like never before.  The verse at the 1:17 minute mark really spoke to me

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less



Yet again……God showed up and showed off.  On so many levels.  I’m so thankful for my friend Lisa – and for her stepping out in faith to start this Bible Study in her home (and trust me, she had MANY fears about doing this).  Because her faith was bigger than her fear – she was obedient to what God had laid on her heart to do……..and God used her and her Bible Study to speak directly to ME about MY faith and MY fear.  How awesome is that??!!!

I love that God continues to remind me to “keep your eyes on ME”!

Be Blessed!


Psalm 139:1-10 New International Version (NIV)

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.


And We’re DONE!!!

And that’s a WRAP!  Yep…….today I walked out of Duke Cancer Center Radiation Oncology Department with a flood of emotions as I completed my 31st and final treatment.  What an incredible feeling.  I’m not really sure I’m going to know what to do with myself now that I have an entire week of no doctor’s appointments/treatments, etc.   I stopped to take a pic of the EXIT just before I walked out of there this morning.  What a welcome sight!

Walking into my treatment this morning – I was so happy and eager to get this, the FINAL one in the books.  The girls got me adjusted on the table and as they walked out the door to go get ready for my treatment – it really hit me that this was IT…….this long awaited final treatment was finally going to happen……and then the tears just came……and came.  I think I became overwhelmed at just everything that had transpired over the past nine months……the good and the bad……..and the tears proved to be very cathartic and probably long overdue.

Yeah – I know this is gonna sound crazy……..but I’m really going to miss seeing my 3 radiation therapists.  I’m pretty biased, but I think I had the absolute BEST therapists on the planet.  Christie, Erin and Lauren were amazing and took such great care of me.  God definitely gave each of them a heart for serving and caring for others and I’m thankful that I got to know them……but I hope the next time I see them it’s at the mall or somewhere FUN!  Margaritas maybe??!!  I couldn’t have done it without them cheering me on!  And the smiles you see in the pic below……these girls wore those smiles non-stop.

green girls

And this guy…….he has been the absolute BEST.  From the first day of radiation when I wasn’t sure where to park or what to do……he explained the drill to me and what I needed to do……and EVERY MORNING SINCE he has yelled “Good Morning” to me from across the way.  I don’t care if I parked in the deck, did valet or got dropped off – this fella saw me each and every day and always had a big smile and well wishes for the day.  Now THAT’S going above and beyond!  He even put his chap stick on so he was picture ready!


So guess what??  This chick ain’t setting an alarm for tomorrow!!  I have NO WHERE that I have to be.  What a blessing!  Granted……the fatigue is still hanging around like a bad cold……and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon so I’m told.  But that’s okay.  I’ll just plan to “watch Netflix and chill” for awhile.

I follow up with my medical oncologist next week……to discuss immunotherapy and next steps.  My Duke My Chart is already full of return appointments…..with the surgeon, for my mammogram, follow-ups with medical and radiation oncologists, labs, etc.  So I’m far from being DONE – but the 3 biggest hurdles are behind me – surgery, chemo and radiation!  That’s definitely cause for a celebration.  Kyra and Byron – I see some mango margaritas in our future! (but we’ll need some larger than this one!!) 🙂

mango margarita

And let me just say again how thankful I am that I live so close to such a world renowned facility like Duke Cancer Center.  I’m fortunate to only have to travel 32 miles to get there…..I’ve met so many folks from near and far who travel many miles and hours to get top notch care from some of the best physicians and people on the planet.  I’m definitely thankful to be just a short drive away.  I honestly cannot say enough just how awesome everyone I’ve encountered has been.  They are definitely top notch over there!

Now I’m off to enjoy an entire week of NO APPOINTMENTS!  Halleluiah!

Thank you Lord for seeing me through these past nine months.  For never once forsaking me……..for being available day or night when I cried out to you……for showing me your Mercy and Grace time and time again…….for holding me up when I was too weak to stand on my own…….and sending me angels in so many forms……..I cannot take credit for making it to this point.  For that – I give you all the glory, honor and praise……and I humbly thank you for all the blessings you have shown me (both big and small) along the way.  Amen.



So I really liked both of these versions of Acts 20:24…….and I couldn’t share just one!

Acts 20:24 New Living Translation (NLT)

24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

Acts 20:24 The Message (MSG)

22-24 “But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.

Really Now?????

Ever feel like some days or weeks that the deck has been stacked against ya?  Satan tried every way he could this past week to steal my joy.  It started last weekend with the weather reports calling for snow last Wednesday………really?  Right in the middle of my home stretch?  I can promise you that being 26 treatments in – I wanted NOTHING to interfere with me making it to my next 4 appointments and getting those things DONE.  Add to that that I’m TOTALLY not a fan of winter (I’ll take the 70’s and flip flops ANY day)…..well, this chick was NOT a happy camper.


Thankfully – the snow didn’t start here until 5:30ish that morning.  My husband HAS to work no matter the weather…….and fortunately for me – my brother can’t really work when it snows – so he was at home and offered to get me to Duke.  The roads were not great – thank God he had 4-wheel drive and I’m even more thankful that, unlike me – he isn’t afraid of driving in that mess.  We made it to and from Duke without incident – but saw a lot of cars in the ditch and accidents along the way.  Treatment #27 – DONE!

After I got home – it continued to snow.  It snowed…….and snowed……and snowed……we had 12+ hours of snowfall here in little Siberia (aka Roxboro) and well over 12 inches of snow!  I admit it was absolutely beautiful coming down – and it creates a beautiful backdrop for all of God’s creation…….but golly gee – all this snow was surely going to make getting back to Duke on Thursday a royal pain in the butt.

Thankfully……Kippy said he would be glad to take me again on Thursday.  Because of the inclement weather, Radiation Oncology was not opening until 10:00 am on Thursday.  We made it back to Duke and I was in and out of my appointment in no time and headed back home.  Treatment #28 – DONE!

Friday my dad offered to take me to treatment.  They were opening at 9am Friday morning – so I was still able to go at my regular 9:45am time.  I checked in, sat down – well, I think my butt actually hit the seat of the chair and almost immediately I was called back for treatment.  Those girls were rocking us in and out of The Green Room on Friday!  Treatment #29 was IN THE BOOKS.

I know this is going to sound crazy to most of you – but I’m going to miss my girls in The Green Room.  When you spend 30 days with your radiation therapists – you really get to know them and they become like part of your family.  They have been soooo awesome to work with and have made this whole experience much more bearable.  They are 3 of the sweetest girls I’ve ever met.  So I gave them fair warning on  Friday that they had all weekend to wrap their brains about the fact that I would be breaking up with them on Monday!  Those girls NEVER know what I’m gonna say!  Monday would be my 30th and final treatment – and I just wanted them to prepare themselves! 🙂

Every Friday after treatment, I see my radiation oncologist.  This would be my last visit with her for awhile as well.  She came in the room with a certificate in her hand – kinda cool that I get a certificate for completing radiation!  So… she sat down to talk to me – she informed me that it turns out that Monday WON’T be my final radiation treatment.  WHAT???  She had decided to give me one additional “boost” treatment in order to get the amount of dosing of radiation she desired for me…… while she had brought me a certificate of completion……upon more careful inspection, the date she had entered on the certificate was, indeed, Tuesday, January 23rd!

Well……what’s one more day?  And honestly – I have to be in Durham Tuesday am anyway for Hunter’s orthodontist appointment – so it wasn’t going to be a huge imposition.  Honestly……if she feels that one more dose was needed to keep that nasty cancer from coming back – by ALL MEANS, let’s do it.  The stinking treatment only lasts 20 seconds so it’s really not a big deal.

We discussed my follow up appointments……..I won’t see her again until the fall…..but she said that I won’t get much of a break from doctors appointments for the rest of this year….I’ll be in and out between return visits with the medical oncologist, my surgeon and the radiation oncologist……and follow up mammograms, etc.  She laughed and said I’d get a break from so many appointments NEXT year and should only see each of them once a year if all goes well.

So between the snow……the yucky roads……transportation worries……and an unexpected extra radiation treatment…….Satan tried to take up some real estate in my life……but we had no time for that.  As always……God provided…..Just what I needed……Just in time…..and brought me JOY!

satan knock off your game

Thankful that even in the midst of all of this…..God continues to reassure me that HE is in control……that HE has me…….and that He will see me through.

We’re ALMOST there………



Psalm 94:19 New International Version (NIV)

19 When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.

Sooooo close!!

Well ya’ll, I’m getting soooo close to being done!  I finished up my scheduled radiation treatments last Friday.  I was set for a total of 25 and we checked #25 off on Friday.  My appointment was a little longer than normal because immediately after my treatment Friday, they began marking me up and getting the machines set up for the next series of 5 “boost” treatments……and the doctor had to come in and make sure everything was set up as it should be.   These 5 treatments will specifically target the tumor bed.  My incision from the lumpectomy surgery is under my left arm pit.  The machine is set up very close to my incision site – and they radiate me for about 20 seconds each day and that’s it.

Last week was by far the hardest yet.  Not in terms of pain or anything – just getting up and getting going.  The fatigue showed up big time……and even though you know to expect it…….I don’t think you are ever quite prepared for how quickly it comes on at times.  Like one minute you feel great and full of energy and 10 minutes later, you’ve hit a brick wall and getting off of the couch to get a snack seems like too much of an effort.  Craziness!

With Monday being a holiday – my son was out of school and I had the day off from radiation…….so we decided it was a perfect weekend to head down to the beach.  Who cares if it was freezing cold.  The beach makes everything better.  My mom and dad were able to join us – and we had a great time just hanging out, watching TV, eating good, watching for horses on the island, and lounging in our PJ’s………it was just what the doctor ordered.

And speaking of mom and dad…….let me just say that I can never thank them enough for ALL the help and support they have offered me since all this mess began.  Whether it was moral support…….or accompanying me to doctors appointments……..or chemo……..or driving me to radiation………or making sure Hunter had transportation to school or dental appointments……..or picking me up a loaf of bread so I’d be prepared for Snowmageddon (not just ANY bread, it HAS to be the BEST bread in town from IGA!)……they have gone above and beyond to support me and I will be forever grateful for all they have done.  Honestly, I hit the jackpot when it comes to parents (and Hunter, Jalen and Haden hit the MegaMillions in the grandparent category for sure).  My parents are two of the most giving and selfless folks that I know……and I’m glad that God chose them to be mine.

Today was my first “boost” and it was quick and painless.  Truthfully, it takes me longer to change from my clothes into the hospital gown than the treatment takes!  All I have to do is lay there……completely still…….but this time I don’t have to do any breath holds so it’s super quick and easy.  So I’ve got 1 down and 4 to go.  And yeah – they are calling for lots of snow tonight……so I’m praying I can get #2 in the books tomorrow.  I’ll have to call them in the morning to see if they are operating on regular schedule or not…..or if I need to come in at a later time.  I’ve all ready advised my brother that I’ll need him to get me over there if the snow comes… we’re all set to get there provided we can do it safely.  I’m too close to the end now to let a little snow stand in the way!

I also had a follow-up appointment with the pulmonary doctor this afternoon.  My latest pulmonary function test was completely normal…….so he’s taking me off of my daily inhaler.  While it’s difficult to know if the asthma was brought on by an allergic reaction to the chemo Taxol…….or from me being anemic……..I’m just glad it’s gone.  He wants me to continue to carry my rescue inhaler as a precaution.  He said cold weather can definitely induce breathing problems (and baby, it’s definitely cold outside)!  I will follow up with him in 6 months just to be sure I don’t have any pulmonary issues after completing radiation and he will probably repeat my pulmonary function test at that time.  Hooray for a great report!

So here’s a few pics of how things looked once I wrapped my 25 treatments.  The collar bone area took the worst beating……but it’s healing up a bit.  She prescribed me some silvadene cream to apply to that area.   Please know I don’t post these pictures to be boastful in any way.  As I mentioned in my very first blog entry – my goal was to be as open and honest and authentic as I could.  Not to pat myself on the back – but to encourage others who may be going through something similar.  To see that it’s DOABLE… may not be pretty – and it may not be fun – but in the end, it is DOABLE.

worst one

The center of my chest is by far the place that itches the most.  It’s starting to peel like a sunburn would… hopefully that’s starting to heal as well.  I’m expecting the area under my arm to get a little more tender since these last boosts focus directly on that area……but so far so good.

My hair has really grown ALOT over the past two weeks.  Let’s just say that it’s a tad bit lighter than I remembered! 🙂  That’s okay – I’ll take it.  And somehow…..somewhere in the middle of all of this…….this happened!


Ugh……seriously?  I have NOT missed shaving my legs lemme tell ya!  I was sooo sad to see that hair growing back!

Well……it’s time to call it a night.  Hang on a few more days………I’m so close I can almost taste it! 🙂



2 Corinthians 4:16-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[a]being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!




Is that a Finish Line in Sight???!!!

Why yes, Sonja…….that IS the finish line just around the corner!  Hallelujah and Praise be to God.  And let me tell ya – I am more than ready to race across that finish line…….but the reality is I may cross it on my hands and knees rather than running or walking it cause goodness gracious this chick is tired…….really tired.  But by golly I intend to get across that finish line one way or another…….sliding, riding, kicking and screaming…….whatever it takes… the Grace of God, I’ll cross it soon!  It ain’t got to be pretty……..all I want to do is cross it! 🙂

So today when my alarm clock went off……..for the first time since I started radiation……I really just wanted to cut the alarm off, roll over and go right back to sleep.  It took every ounce of energy I had to pull myself out of bed and get a shower……and I stayed in the shower til all the hot water ran out……cause getting out of the shower and getting dressed seemed like just too much of an effort.  But I reluctantly pressed on and got myself ready to knock another one off the list.  After today’s treatment, I am down to 8…….yes EIGHT…..JUST 8 more treatments.  Halleluiah!  We crossed this treatment off – but it took awhile.

For the past 2 weeks – I have walked in…….checked in…….sat down……and within minutes they’ve called me back to do my treatments and I’m in and out in no time.  They really are a well-oiled machine over in the Cancer Center.   Heck, yesterday, I checked in at 9:22, got called back at 9:24 and I was finished and getting dressed at 9:40 – that’s 5 whole minutes BEFORE my actual appointment time of 9:45.  So I’ve told my friend Pat (who drove me today) to just drop me off at the clinic and run an errand or grab a bite to eat because I’d be in and out faster than we could park.  You know what that means right?  Well……it didn’t happen.  When I got checked in this morning, the board showed that my treatment room was 30 minutes behind schedule.  Okay – that’s not awful.  But my therapist came out and apologized, but said they were having trouble with the machine today and that’s what had caused the delay.  Truly not anyone’s fault – and honestly, the wait wasn’t so bad because there’s always folks to talk to.  I finally got taken back for my treatment at 11:45 – so it was only a 2 hour delay.  But once I got back there – they had me in and out in no time.  I was done by noon.  I was so afraid they were going to come out and say that they machine was completely down and I’d have to go home and reschedule.  Thank God that wasn’t the case.  I was happy to take a 2 hour delay.

Side note: (and this is a TRUE story).  My friend Pat has taken me to numerous chemo and radiation appointments……and can I tell you that almost EVERY SINGLE TIME – something happens on HER days to prolong our stays.  The first time my O2 stats were low and they ordered an emergency CT scan – which we had to wait for……and got home after dinner!  The next time it took FOREVER for my chemo to thaw out that day……..and today, the Green Machine was acting up.  I can’t tell you how much I hated texting her to say “yet again……there’s been a delay”…….it’s really become quite comical at this point!  (Well – maybe not to her!)  🙂  But in true Pat fashion – she just smiled and said “the Lord evidently wanted us to spend a little more time together today”!  And she drops me back off at home and says “let me know when you need me again”! Yes……I’ve been blessed!

As the old saying goes, I’m “in the short rows” now.  And not a minute too soon.  I’m definitely ready to NOT have my calendar planned out for me!  I may not know how to act when I’m not headed to Durham every day.

The doctor told me on Friday that the next two weeks would be the worst.  This week I continue getting the same treatment as always but the last 5 days I will get a “boost” and they will target the tumor bed during those 5 treatments.  My skin has definitely become more sensitive as the “burning” has gotten worse.  The one area near my collar bone is still the WORST and the back of my shoulder is quite tender.  I’ve encountered some swelling over the past week and the doctor said that was to be expected and she has me taking ibuprofen 3x’s a day to help with the swelling and the pain.  The last few days there’s been a shooting pain in my breast.  It comes and goes – but it is quite uncomfortable and extremely annoying.  Itching is the worst at night – I guess when I get all snuggled up under the covers, I get “just warm enough” for the itching to begin.  I’ve taken a benadryl the last few nights so I wouldn’t wake up clawing myself.  You know how when you get a sunburn and your skin feels really really tight……that’s how this feels too.

The area near my collarbone (above) is by far the worst and most painful……..

The picture above on the left is my upper back and shoulder – that’s the second most painful area at this time.  The picture above on the right is my underarm…’s burned a bit, but fortunately not painful.  That gray area isn’t a shadow – it’s really my skin looking like it’s molded! 🙂  But they say the skin in that area just turns gray for whatever reason!

But all in all……..the pain, discomfort, the traveling, the early mornings, the burning, the itching……it has not been unbearable.  And when I find myself wanting to be a little whiny – I have to stop and remind myself that ALL of the pain and discomfort I’ve experienced – if I bottled it all up together would be but a drop in the bucket to the pain that Jesus endured on The Cross.  THAT – was suffering.  So if Jesus could endure The Cross for me (and you) – then I can definitely endure this with His help…… it pales by comparison.

I’ve often said that I considered it quite an honor that God allowed me to be able to participate with HIM in the miracle of childbirth.  And we all know that a typical pregnancy lasts 9 months.  When you think about ALL the things that must happen to create a living breathing child inside your womb – it’s nothing short of a miracle.   After I was diagnosed with cancer, I remember telling some friends that I felt like God was going to allow me to participate in yet another miracle with Him…….that he would heal me of this cancer and allow me to use my story to truly glorify Him.  Today, as I sat and did the math (and yes, i checked my numbers several times because we ALL know that math is not my strong suit)…….this whole mess started in April 17, 2017……..and if all goes as planned, I should finish up treatment on Jan 22, 2018.   You do the math behind me! 🙂  That’s a little over 9 months since this whole mess started.  #truth   I just chuckled to myself.  Isn’t that just like God!?

We sang this song in church Sunday……..WOW…..did it speak directly to me.  I love it!  Hope you enjoy!

Love and hugs,


Hebrews 12:2-3 The Message (MSG)

Discipline in a Long-Distance Race

12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Counting ’em down

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a great time celebrating the New Year…..whatever that looked like for you.  For us……well, we celebrated it at home…….snuggled up in our PJ’s……catching up on shows we had DVR’d.  It was brutally cold here on Sunday.  I’ve been a hot box my entire life until this year.  Chemo changed all that and it seems that I am eternally cold these days.  We ventured out to church Sunday am, then went to town to grab some lunch and met some friends at the theater to see Pitch Perfect 3!  It was so dang cold when we left the theater, all I wanted to do was get home and get warm!  It was a perfect night for chili beans!

So……the New Year brought good news for me!  I got another 3 day weekend – which was wonderful for several reasons.  Last Friday I could really see some change in my skin after radiation.  There was a really pronounced “burn” area near my collarbone.  The doctor said it was to be expected…….and that I could expect this week to be a bit worse.  Ugh – definitely NOT music to my ears.  We’ve been diligent about moisturizing……but some things are inevitable.  Having an extra day away from radiation was a blessing… gave me another day to heal before getting back at it today and it allowed me, quite simply, another day to REST.  And that’s EXACTLY what I did.  Monday was a pajama day at the Vaughan household.  I had NO desire to venture out into the cold so I never left the house…….heck, I didn’t leave the couch too many times.

Here’s a few pictures to show the change in my skin this week.  It doesn’t really show up in the picture very well – but the area under my armpit it both red and very gray.  Thank goodness the nurse warned me about that Friday.  She said “don’t get worried that you may molding……it’s completely normal”!

The area above that looks like a shadow is truly where my skin is very gray and “moldy”! 🙂
My chest is quite red and I’ve developed a bit of a rash.  Yeah – it itches!
The area near my collarbone is the WORST.  It’s definitely the most painful.

The best news of this week is that I am now OVER half-way done with my radiation.  Today I checked off treatment #17 out of 30.  That ONLY leaves 13 to go!  Praise God! As you can see…..I’ve been marking off my progress on the calendar they gave me with my schedule.  Wow it feels good to know that I’m getting soooo close to the finish line.

I experienced some pain for the first time over the weekend.  It wasn’t unbearable – but painful nonetheless.  It’s like a sharp, shooting nerve pain sometimes in my breast and sometimes under my arm.  It typically doesn’t last very long…..but boy, you sure know it when it’s happening.  Between the occasional pain and knowing that this week was going to be a little more difficult……I really dreaded going back to radiation today.  It wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.  I came home and put lots of moisturizing lotion on my burns in an effort to minimize the burning and discomfort.

So this morning as I was getting dressed……I picked up my magnifying mirror to see if, by chance, I may have any eyebrows or eyelashes coming in.  Well what do you know??!!!  I could see some really really short eyelashes coming out!  And yes – the eyebrows appear to be making their re-appearance as well!  How bout that!  And just as quickly as I got excited about my eyelashes and eyebrows…….I realized that this probably means the hair on my legs and my underarms may be reappearing too.  UGH!  I have to say I have enjoyed NOT having to shave!


My mom and I were talking this morning.  Here we are in 2018……and if all goes as planned my radiation will be complete by Jan 23rd.  My lump was found at my doctors appointment on April 17th, 2017…….so I should be finishing up radiation a little over 9 months from the time this shit storm started!  In some ways it seems impossible that so much time has elapsed……but in other ways, it feels like it’s been a LONG 9 months.  When I stop and think about the endless blessings that I have received during this time….it becomes overwhelming.  I truly do NOT know how folks go through something like this without faith in God and a COMMUNITY of Christian friends surrounding them and praying them through the good and bad days.  I KNOW that folks have prayed me through this……and God has shown up in big and small ways……and it’s been my hope that I have given HIM all the glory.  Yes, I’ve come through the past 9 months with minimal setbacks, side effects, etc.  But that’s not because I’m any super hero……and it wasn’t because I was as fit as a fiddle……I can ONLY give the credit to God.  I’ve definitely learned to lean heavily on HIM and to trust in HIM to meet my needs each day.  And He’s shown up and showed off……time and time again.  I am thankful that He has given me this platform of my blog to share and this whole experience and hopefully to lift others up…….to encourage those who may be fighting a similar battle……and to just reassure folks that no matter what you are fighting…….you DO NOT have to go it alone.

Many of you have asked what you can do for me at this time.  Honestly – your prayers are the absolute best way you can support me right now.  Praying that I can get through the next 13 treatments with no complications and minimal discomfort.

I didn’t really make any New Year’s Resolutions (other than kicking this cancer in the a#@)……but I have made some mental notes of things I want to do this year.  If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you’ve read where several times over the past 9 months, I’ve had complete strangers come up to me in a restaurant and ask me if they could bless me and buy my lunch.  I can’t tell you how emotional that was for me – and how it was a perfect example of God’s amazing love and grace being poured out on me by folks I didn’t know and may never see again.  This random act of kindness has really impressed upon me the need to be observant of those around me.  It’s my hope that I will be able to pay it forward and do the same thing for other cancer victims that I may encounter.  And I’d love to challenge YOU to do the same.  If you see a cancer patient (or anybody for that matter who looks like they may be struggling whether it’s health related or finances, relationships, etc)…..I encourage you to bless them and pick up their lunch tab.  I’m sure you will BOTH be blessed.

Well I’d better hit the sack.  I’ve gotta rest up so I can check another treatment off the list tomorrow!

Wishing you all the best 2018 has to offer!


Colossians 1:11-12 The Message (MSG)

9-12 Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.