Relay for Life 6-19-16

Friday night I attended the Relay for Life event in Moses Lake. It was a wonderful event that I am very passionate about. I was handed a purple shirt to wear along with a purple lei, a survivor pin and a survivor medal. I’ve attended several events but never in a million years did I ever think I’d be attending a Relay for Life event as a survivor. They began the event by lining up all the survivors to take the first lap. I took the survivor walk. As I walked, there was a cheering from the crowd for those of us who made it. It was a very emotional experience for me as I walked around the track. There were people cheering us on and exuded so much support it was overwhelming. 

As I walked around the track the reality of cancer really hit me. None of my family was there to cheer me on, yet all these strangers were all to willing to recognize not only my journey but the journey of all the survivor’s I was blessed to be in the company with. I’m a grateful survivor but Friday night as I walked around that track, I couldn’t help but think of all those who weren’t as lucky. I found myself walking not as a survivor, rather in honor of the strong men and women who fought the fight but didn’t make it. 

As I fought cancer, I met so many wonderful people. In my experience, those fighting cancer are the strongest people I’ve ever met in my life. People always say, “God never gives us more than we can handle”. If that’s true, then anyone who battles cancer is one strong person in God’s eyes because I’m here to tell you, it’s tough business. I’m a strong woman but cancer brought me to my knees!  

There are so many people who have touched my life that have lost their battle to cancer. Recently, a dear friend succumbed to her own battle. This woman was a fighter. Last year she was diagnosed with a rare cancer that affected her entire body. She was given three months to live. She chose not to pursue treatment. She also chose to live life with a positive attitude and a strong faith in God. “Jean” defied the odds and not only exeded three months, she lived more than a year. She was so full of life. She will forever be an inspiration to me and to the many others whose lives she touched. 

As I thought of “Jean” I decided to donate $100 in honor of the strongest and most inspirational woman I’ve ever known. I have many friends who are battling cancer. My hope is my donation will go a long way in finding a cure for this horrible disease. 

I left that night and as I drove home I began to cry uncontrollably. I cried all the way home. Cancer sucks!!! It’s hard for those who haven’t been affected by the disease to understand the emotions unless you’ve been through it. Tonight, as I write this I’d like to encourage those of you reading to click on the Relay for Life website in your area and make a small donation. If money is an issue then sign up to volunteer in some capacity, whether it’s sending a card to someone you know fighting cancer just to let them know you care or even knitting hats.  Together we can make a difference!!!! 

For those of you who find yourself facing your own battle tonight, I’d like to encourage you to keep going. Don’t give up and whatever you do, don’t lose hope. There are many who have walked in your shoes. They made it….I made it and I believe you can make it too!!!


Another Day In Paradise 3-4-15

I wrote this blog two years ago. Today I’m 15 years sober. I’m still climbing out of the pit but my passion for helping those in need or even being a voice of hope and inspiration hasn’t changed. A friend send me a text this morning saying “another Day In Paradise”. It sparked this memory and caused me to refer to this blog as a reminder of just how blessed I am. Despite the challenges in my life, I am living another day in paradise. 

Today is my sobriety anniversary. I have been sober for 13 years. It’s hard to believe that 13 years have passed since I woke up from a three day blackout in the back of a police car. I was on my way to jail for throwing a cell phone at my boyfriend. I had spent the weekend consuming an unimaginable amount of alcohol. In fact, my last drunk consisted of three fifths, a bottle of wine, a half gallon of whiskey along with many cocktails at the bar. I washed it all down with cocaine. It was Sunday, March 4th, 2002 when I entered reality. I had no idea what I was doing in a police car, I had cut my arms, legs and and face with a knife and all of my eyelashes from my right eye were gone. I suspect I burned them with a lighter. Who knows. The journey has been long but through the grace of God, I am able to celebrate my thirteenth year of sobriety. 

Between the years 2000 & 2001, my ex-husband and I went through a nasty divorce. It’s amazing how two people who fell in love and raised a family together could become so bitter toward one another. Divorce in any relationship certainly brings out the “ugly” in each of us. My divorce was no different. I find the humor in it all by referring our divorce as “the War of the Dunkins”. If you’ve ever seen the movie “the War of the Roses” that was my ex husband and I. We fought over everything, however unlike the movie we didn’t have the chance to swing from the chandeliers.  The divorce was so stressful and made me feel like such a failure that I found myself drinking every day for over a year. Of course, being the class act I thought I was, I rarely drank before 5:00 pm. I often refer to myself as the “Joan Crawford” classy drunk who never missed a cocktail hour. Looking back, I find myself so embarrassed. 

We all have stories, my story however belongs on TLC debuting as a mini series. The past few years have been a difficult journey but somehow I’ve managed to get through it without the use of alcohol. I have God to thank for that. 

I spent the morning volunteering at my church today feeding the homeless. Rather than celebrate my recovery, I find it more rewarding to give back. My story at times may seem overwhelming and more often than not, I feel sorry for myself but some how volunteering my time feeding the homeless brings so much happiness that even for just a few hours I’m able to focus on someone else’s story. I’m quickly reminded of how lucky and blessed I really am.

I began volunteering last week and since then, my life has taken on a new perspective. I’m happy again and every day I look forward to going back to my new “job” that pays me in rewards and blessings rather than with a big paycheck. I’ve met some wonderful people, I’ve cried many tears, I’ve swept floors, wiped spilled milk from tables, served oatmeal, assisted the sisters in handing out clothes and I’ve hugged people who live on the streets and haven’t bathed in several days and despite their adversities and challenges, they are filled with a sense of gratitude for what they do have that it’s hard for their gratitude to not be contagious.  

I have travelled quite a journey these past 13 years, I’ve been up and I’ve been down but somehow God has seen me through it all. Thirteen years ago I was rock bottom, ironically thirteen years later I’m rock bottom again. The good news is with gods help I was able to climb out of the pit of addiction and all the demise that came along with it, I suspect he will help me climb my way out of this pit too and who knows, in a year from now I’ll be able to look back and say “look how far I’ve come” and once again be able to say God carried me through this challenge too. A good friend once told me “Velma, you’re rock bottom. There’s nowhere to go from here but up”. I may be rock bottom but I’m moving on up!!!

In the meantime I’ll keep moving forward and take this time to ask anyone reading my blog to give back to your community. Whether it’s volunteering your time to help those less fortunate or even donating clothes or money to your favorite charity, please do so. It’s such a rewarding experience. My song for today is “another day in paradise” by Phil Collins. I chose it because sometimes when we feel like our lives are in disarray and we feel sorry for ourselves, remember there’s always someone else less fortunate and our lives really are another day in paradise.