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! 

I’ve Been Thinking 7-16-17

This was written by Maria Shriver. I copied it from her Sunday paper morning email.  Maria is such an inspiring woman to me. Her mother was even more inspiring. This is what Maria wrote this morning. Wow!  I was so touched because I want to be the woman seen as “A Lot”. Her mother was a force to be reckoned with, however she moved mountains and made a huge impact on the lives of many throughout the world. That’s what I want to do. As women we have the strength to do anything!!

I’VE BEEN THINKING

Every week here at The Sunday Paper, we try to get above the noise of the week and offer positive perspectives to get you thinking, dreaming and talking about something you may not have considered before.

To that end, this issue is dedicated to awesome and inspiring Great Dames. No, not great danes. 🙂 Great DAMES. Yes, Dames.

Why?

I wanted to write about Dames this week because my mother—one helluva Dame herself—was honored at ESPN’s ESPY Awards Wednesday night for her relentless work on behalf of those with intellectual disabilities. (Great Dame Michelle Obama presented the award.)

What a night it was. I was moved, motivated, inspired, deeply touched, and prouder than a peacock. I was proud that my mother got the recognition she deserved, and proud that she worked her whole life pushing boundaries right through and into her 80s.

I remember her telling me when she was 85 or so, “You know, Maria, there is no excuse not to work nonstop until you are at least 80.”

“At 80,” she said, “I had some issues here and there (lol, that’s an understatement, but she continued), but I didn’t give in. I just kept working. There is so much to do.”

My mother didn’t understand retirement. She didn’t understand slowing down to smell the roses. It just wasn’t her forte.

Changing the world was her forte. Her approach to life and work made me think about how many other Great Dames there are out there who are still breaking boundaries and changing perceptions about women, longevity and relevance. (Of course, there are plenty of men who are doing the same, but I’ll feature them in another issue. I have several to write about, so no worries.)

I call my mom a Dame ‘cause she wasn’t your average lady or woman. Trust me, I was very aware of this at a very early age. 

She smoked cigars. She wore pants. She hung out with men. She played football. She tried to dunk you in water polo well into her 80s. She was a first class sailor, no matter the weather. She was just a first-class competitor in every way. There wasn’t a sport she didn’t try to master. There wasn’t a man she didn’t try to beat (or a kid for that matter, this one included).

She rarely wore makeup, rarely brushed her hair, never went shopping and never, ever got a filler or a facial. But, when she walked into a room—any room—every eye was on her.

Why? Because she was an original. The real deal.

My mother was wicked smart, fun, challenging, and fearless. She was intimidating, for sure, but she was authentically herself. In today’s world, you would call her fierce. A force of nature. People often remarked that she was “a lot.”
The women in this issue of The Sunday Paper are cut from the same cloth and the same mold as my mother (although they brush their hair, wear beautiful clothes, etc.).

They are all still at it. They own the room when they walk in. They are personally inspiring to me because age doesn’t slow them down.

Which brings me back to my mother. This past weekend, I was at a friend’s wedding and got to talking to a gentleman who wanted to offer some “helpful” advice to me as to how I might improve my social life. He mentioned that I hang around my kids and their friends a lot, and speculated that that, and my work, might be intimidating to some people.

Then he said to me (or his vodka said to me…vodka usually speaks truth, in case you’re wondering): “You know, Maria, you are still very attractive (gee, thanks), you’re intellectually dynamic, but let’s be honest…you’re a lot.”

I wanted to argue with him, but then I stopped myself because I instantly thought of my mother, who everyone said was “a lot.” I also remembered a friend telling me about a wedding he went to where the mother of the bride stood up and toasted her new son-in-law, saying that her daughter was “a lot,” just like her, and that only really extraordinary men and people could handle those who were forces of nature. She then raised her glass to her new son-in-law, her own husband and to all of those secure enough to be in partnership with forces of nature.

So, this Sunday Paper is dedicated to all those who are proud enough to own that moniker, and to all those who accept that force as it is and let it rip. Just like my father let my mother roar. He knew a force of nature when he saw it, and how proud he was to be the one to celebrate it.

Just like I’m proud to celebrate all the forces of nature highlighted here, a.k.a. Architects of Change. 

So, the next time someone is brave enough to call you a force of nature, or says “you’re a lot,” remember my mother. Remember her fight on behalf of those with special needs.

Remember that everyone said those with intellectual disabilities couldn’t compete, couldn’t go to school, couldn’t hold down a job, couldn’t marry, couldn’t live at home, couldn’t speak, couldn’t dream, couldn’t be included, couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t…
Remember this truth. She proved everyone wrong, she did things her way, and she embraced the force within and changed the world outside.

Be a force, ‘cause that’s what it takes to change the world.

P.S. And don’t worry if you forget to brush your hair or if you hang out a lot with your kids. Just blame it on the vodka! And, if you want to see a force of nature in action, watch the video of my mother’s ESPY award below.

http://www.espn.com/video/clip/_/id/19974723?utm_source=Maria+Shriver%27s+Sunday+Paper&utm_campaign=bdb137a096-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_03_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_36fd564d86-bdb137a096-118906693

Feathers On A Breeze by Gloria Ann Spencer

If there is anything that inspires me the most are the stories of strong women. Especially strong women who have faced adversity yet never give up. My friend Gloria Ann Spencer wrote this. It’s her own personal story. And what a story at that. As women we have all felt like this but how often are we blessed to have feathers land on us from heaven. I am so inspired by Gloria I felt the need to share her story. Like me Gloria’s Dream is to use her story to make a difference in the lives of others. She made a difference in my life today and I pray after reading this she will make a difference in yours. 
The Musing of a Girl that loves Oak Trees and Feathers

Feathers On A Breeze
I arrived late to a memorial service, and I have to admit, I did so on purpose. I slipped silently in one of the very back pews, on the family’s side. The back pews will surely accept family members, even the one with a piece of paper that states we are no longer a unit. From the back pew I can see the back of my son’s heads, as well as other familiar ones.
I sit STILL with my head held high, and my heart open. I listen to the words being spoken. Words of faith, family, love. WORDS.

Memories of a past life visit me, reminding me how the years and life has passed. Some times of heart break, love, happiness, laughter. A Bitter sweet melancholy begins to lower its self on me.

I was drawn back to the preacher’s words, words of belief, life and memories. I stand STILL with my head bowed with others listening to the closing prayer.

I move out of the chapel quickly without a noise. I hear my name being called out. I stop for a few quick hugs and stories from old friends from the past. They are kind and express their love for me, and let me leave.

My green eyes filled with tears. My mind was questioning, why had my life taken the path it had. I thought of the countless late nights and early morning prayers, I have prayed. Asking for my eyes to see, my ears to hear, my heart to be open and filled with his presence. I requested my mouth to be shut unless it was to be used for his glory. So many nights I hug my body tight requesting for his loving touch, a hug.

As I walked briskly to my car a whirlwind swirls around me, blowing feathers of all sizes and colors around me, out of a mighty oak tree. The wind was bending the branches of the large tree, the feathers kept falling around me. The feathers spun around me brushing against my skin, so many feathers that they would have had to come from multiple birds, so many feathers, small, medium, large, and so many colors, white, brown, and black. The wind was kissing my face and lifting my hair. As I took one step at a time towards my car the feathers continued their dance around me. 

A thought came to my mind that I needed to capture this moment on my cell phone, because no one would believe my description of what had happened. The sensation of my God showering his love on me was breath taking.

I have laughed out loud and said that if God was going to show me the way , he was going to have use a large free standing sign with neon letters, and a flashing red arrow pointing me the way to go. Instead HE used my love of the might oak trees and my child like delighting in finding feathers. Feathers that to me meant a sign from the angels. Recently, I had stopped looking for feathers, my heart had become weary. GOD reached out to me and made me see, and feel HIS love for me. My sign was swirling about me. I will continue to thank God daily, and know that as long as I take one small step, He will continue guide me in the direction to go.

Gloria Ann Spencer 2/3/17

Unlimited Power 3-7-17

A reminder to all women! We have the power within us. So today, put on your Red Jimmy Choos and rock that red dress!! You can persevere through anything. If I can do it…..so can you!!
“Inside each one of us we have unlimited power…

We have persistence, perseverance and POWER!

You just need to tap into it.

Far too many of us live our day to day lives without realizing our potential because we don’t look inside ourselves for the power…

… instead we rely on outside forces out of our control.

So today, look inside.

Tap into your OWN personal power and unleash your greatness into the world!” – Les Brown

The Story Of The Red Shoe 3-6-17

Once upon a time in a far away land there lived a sweet and lovely girl named Amlev. Amlev dreamed of providing a good life for her and her children. 

One day after many years of experiencing hurt, an opportunity arose and Amlev took it! She ran away to another land and began a journey that provided many great experiences. She travelled the world. Explored beautiful beaches, met wonderful people. Some famous and some not so much. She experienced great restaurants, saw famous music bands and met some of the members of the band too. 

One day she woke up. She found herself in a very strange city where men dressed like women, women dressed like men. There were strange people buzzing around her calling her Wemma. Lying next to her was a very odd old man. She realized that maybe, just maybe she was in the wrong dream. She missed her children, her family, her friends and she missed her mother too. She said to herself “I’ve got to get out of this dream!” 

 Amlev ran to Walgreens and bought a box of Calgon in the hopes it would “take her away”. She jumped in the tub. Closed her eyes and said “Calgon take me away!” When she opened her eyes she was still in that same awful dream that was nothing short of a nightmare. 

At that point she knew this required emergency measures. She needed some red shoes. She had lost everything but thank goodness, she hadn’t lost her sense of style too! She knew “when looking for the perfect red shoe…..call Jimmy Choo.” She contacted Jimmy. She said “Jimmy! I need the perfect shoe! I’m in the wrong dream and I have to get out!” Jimmy replied, “I’ll send you the perfect shoe. When you receive them put them on. Tap your heels together and say “I want to go home!” When you do this, you will find yourself in the perfect dream surrounded by the people you love, working your dream job, relaxing on a tropical beach as all of your dreams will be  coming true!”  Amlev placed the order and patiently anticipated the arrival of the “miracle” shoe. She knew that upon their arrival she would finally find herself in the perfect dream providing for herself and children just like she set herself out to do! 

 Finally, the Jimmy Choo Miracle Red Shoe arrived. Amlev took the shoes out of the box and put them on. She closed her eyes, tapped her shoes and when she opened her eyes she was finally in her new dream. She was standing on a stage wearing a red dress and her “miracle” red shoes. She was successful. She was strong. She was a survivor! As she stood in front of the cheering crowd she held her arms in the air and said “I made it! If I can make it, so can you!” 

If you’re reading this today and find your yourself in a challenging situation that feels more like a bad dream. Remember……

“Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we’re always home, anywhere.” – Glinda The Good Witch (The Wizard Of Oz)

Know your courage. Put on your red shoes and you can go anywhere!