Kat and Ali 12-28-17

They say there are no accidents in life. Especially when it comes to meeting people.

In 2014 I walked in to CPMC in San Francisco. I was scheduled for my chemotherapy treatment. That morning I prayed for an angel to come in to my life that would speak hope in to my life. It’s no secret my life in SF was rather tumultuous with my ex. Standing next to me while waiting for the elevator was a gentleman. We struck up a conversation. As it turned out he was a pastor from Vallejo. His wife had just had open heart surgery. His name is Ali. We have been friends ever since. Ali has blessed my life so much with his prayers, encouragement and support throughout the past few years.

That day Ali asked me if I would stop and see his wife Kat that week. He felt it would cheer her up. I made it a point to go visit Kat that week. She was very sick the day I went and was so down. I have never seen Ali or Kat since that day three years ago however we remain in contact via phone and text.

Today my calendar reminded me it was Kats birthday so I texted her a birthday message. Much to my surprise I received a call from Kat. She was crying. She called to thank me. Not only for remembering her birthday but for stopping to see her that day three years ago. Kat shared that I’m always saying what a blessing they are in my life but I have failed to recognize the blessing I have been in theirs. Kat told me the day I went to see her the doctor had just told her they found a blockage and would have to perform another surgery. She was so sad. She told me that my voice and smile lifted her spirits and after I left her doctors told her the blockage was gone and she would not need another surgery. She said she often forgets my name but has never forgotten my voice or smile and the miracle I brought in her life that day. I had no idea. Her words to me were “you always say Ali and I are a blessing in your life but you really were a blessing in our life that day. I will never forget you. I wanted you to know that”.

Wow! I had no idea. I was very touched to hear her story. Even more so to know I somehow made a difference while in one of the greatest challenges in my own life.

The moral of the story is you never know whose life you’re going to bless. Strive to be a blessing for others. You may not see it today but one day you will discover that somehow you made a difference.

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I Gotta Try 7-22-17

It’s been three years since being diagnosed with cancer. What a journey it’s been!!  Sometimes I still have to wonder how I’m still standing however, clearly it’s been through the grace of god. Between cancer and all the side effects that came from the treatment to fight this crazy disease, add Cowden Syndrome, Hashimotis, Thyroiditis, lymphodema, neuropathy, a drug induced lupus, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, not to mention a crazy ex boyfriend and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. 

My last treatment was May 7, 2015. After my treatment my doctors prescribed a hormone blocker to keep the cancer at bay. Since then, I have gone through three different meds.  All have caused debilitating side effects. 

Recently I began to experience blurry vision. I thought I might have something in my eye so I went to see an optometrist. I was told I had a thick lining behind my cornea as well as many deposits. The doctor suspected Fuchs Dystrophy however Fuchs usually attacks both eyes. I only have one eye that’s being affected. He referred me to a specialist in Seattle. Imagine my dismay after he told me it was possible I would need a cornea transplant. I’ll admit I was overtaken by fear as well as tears that began to roll down my face. I asked “is it cancer?”  The doctor replied “I don’t know”

After my appointment I spoke to a friend on the phone. He said his friend was an optometrist in the Bay Area and would reach out and ask the doctor to call me. I spoke to the doctor that night. I told him all the meds I was on. One of them is tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a hormone blocker to prevent my type of cancer. My cancer is HER2 positive/ Estrogen positive. Lucky me. The doctor shared one of the side effects from the drug is eye damage. I contacted my oncologist the following day and sure enough. That is one of the side effects. I told the nurse I was going to stop the meds immidiately. This is my third reaction to the wonder drugs I’ve been forced to take to fight this crappy disease. I’ve been on Anastrozole, Letrizole and now Tamoxifen. All have had such negative effects on my body, mind and spirit. I couldn’t believe it when the nurse said “there’s one more drug you can try”. I thought “Are you kidding me?!”  I couldn’t believe she would suggest such a thing. I wanted to jump through the phone and slap her!!

Six months ago I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t open my hands. I was in excruciating pain. I was diagnosed with a drug induced lupus, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. I was told that the Letrizole I was on was not only attacking cancer, it was attacking my immune system and body. At that time I wanted to stop all meds but was told doing so could be fatal. It’s my understanding I have an incurable cancer however it’s treatable which is why I’ve endured such an aggressive and continued treatment. I agreed to try tamoxifen. The result, the pain got better but now my vision is impaired. Omg!  This isn’t worth it!

A year ago I joined the John Maxwell Team. I joined because after all the challenges I’ve faced I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. I don’t wish what I’ve endured on anyone. The John Maxwell Teams mission is to add value to the lives of others. I knew in my heart that it was a perfect fit for me. My goal in life has always been to be a voice of hope and inspiration for others. I’ve been so sick that other than my blog and Facebook posts, I haven’t been able to accomplish my mission. As I pondered the thought of trying another drug to defeat cancer I had to ask myself “is this worth it?”  My answer “No!!”

I have decided to pursue holistic treatment. I have an appointment on August 9th at the Bastyr Institute in Seattle. One of the best in the nation. I have stopped my meds. The truth is, how can I or anyone accomplish any mission if we’re sick. I want to do great things. I want to live life to the fullest. I want to travel, I want to spend time on the beach but most of all I want to add value to the lives of others. I want to make a difference in this crazy world!

Our current White House has turned into a Cracker Jack Palace inhibited by enough peanuts for a baseball game. There’s a battle about health care. There are people in America fighting cancer and other diseases. There are women being abused, people trying to overcome addictions, depression, anxiety and even PTSD. I am no stranger to all of the above and then some. I want my story to be someone’s  hope. I want my story to help bring change!! After all, I’m still standing. What good is keeping cancer at bay when doing so has caused physical damage and now eye damage. I can’t make a difference.  

I’ve been a warrior all my life. I believe we all have a warrior spirit that lives inside of us. I also believe it’s important for all of us to do our best to do great things, help others and strive to make positive changes in this crazy world. That’s really what life is all about. It’s not about how much money we have, the car we drive or even the home we live in or the clothes we wear. It’s all about making a difference.  You’ve heard the question “What would Jesus do?”  I can tell you Jesus wouldn’t sit back and not lend a helping hand to those in need or to those who are suffering. He wouldn’t sit back and do nothing. 

I’m on my last leg. I know this. I have no idea if holistic treatment will work. I have no idea if my cancer will return but what I do know is I’m not going to just roll over and do nothing. I’m going to do my best to make a difference. I didn’t become a certified member of the John Maxwell Team so I could lay in bed and do nothing because I’m sick!! If I have one year, five years or even ten years left I want to live each and every day feeling strong enough to inspire others to do the same. Maybe if I don’t give up, they won’t either. Will I succeed? I have no idea but in the words of Michael McDonald…..I’ve Gotta Try! 

Happy Anniversary To Me 3-4-17

Today is my anniversary! Most people celebrate their wedding anniversary, sometimes their anniversary at being at job, etc. I celebrate my sobriety anniversary. For me it’s a celebration of the night god saved my life. Every year I post the story of my last drunk. A reminder of a dark time in my life. Today I’m not going to do that. I’d like to focus on something different or rather the person who touched my life and made a difference. 
As you all know I am a recovered alcoholic. I am celebrating 15 years of sobriety today. My last drunk was 3 fifths, a half gallon of whiskey and a bottle of wine. I cut my face, my arms, my legs and I burned off my eyelashes on one of my eyes. All this in 48 hours. What can I say? I like to go all out. Lol. My best friend and attorney, along w the help of my parents got me in to rehab a few days later. Prior to this I had gone through a year long challenging divorce w my ex husband. Of course that’s another story. I used alcohol as a way to escape the reality of a very challenging life. I entered rehab with the thought I was not an alcoholic rather an abuser. Of course I was in complete denial and couldn’t imagine calling myself an alcoholic. After all, I wasn’t homeless, I was always dressed nice and I was “woman of the Year” in my beta group. 

I met a woman in my group who was a corporate executive for Microsoft. She was successful, beautiful, dressed to the nines and…..she was an alcoholic. Hard to believe. She didn’t fit the stereotype we all have of an alcoholic. I had been in treatment for 7 days and was at my group. This woman was sharing her story. As I listened to this woman speak of her trials with alcohol I found myself resonating with her story. I’ll never forget she was wearing a beautiful creme colored pantsuit. Everything about her was spot on. She looked like she had stepped out of a magazine. As she shared her story I found myself resonating with some of the embarrassing things she had done while drinking and when she said “I’m an alcoholic” everything clicked. It was that “AHA” moment!! I blurted out “I’ve done that…….Am I an alcoholic?!” Tada! Welcome to treatment. 
It was that day I made the decision to accept I was an alcoholic and it was the impact that woman had when she shared that changed my life forever. I’m telling you this because we can be that woman too. We all have a story and we all have the ability to share our stories with others. Sometimes it’s that crappy, humiliating story that is an inspiration or hope for someone else. 

It’s funny I barely remember that woman’s face but I remember her creme colored suit. She was everything I wanted to be. She was courageous, she was honest, she was smart, successful and she was just like me. She inspired me to believe if she can do it, then so can I. I’ve never seen this woman again but the impact she had on my life lives in me forever. I want to be that person for someone else which is why I became a member of the John Maxwell Team. Their mission is to add value to the lives of others and make a difference. That is what I am striving to do. So today as I celebrate 15 years of sobriety I also celebrate the fact that alcoholism or even the events that led up to my recovery may be a part of my story but it’s not my story today. Today I am a survivor and I’m striving to make a difference.