Facing Your Giant

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Eliza:

By Eliza Boulware

I am Eliza Boulware, a five year breast cancer survivor. I can recall during a spiritual fast God spoke to do a self-examination. My first thought was checking my spiritual walk but I heard it again, so this time I did a self breast exam. I felt a lump in my left breast.

From there I went to the doctor and completed all tests needed and it was confirmed I had stage 2 aggressive breast cancer. My world was turned upside down. I became afraid that I would die because I had never been sick. After losing both of my parents, I had spoken that when I find any health problems, I did not want to suffer long.  Now I am looking at my children and my granddaughter and saying, “not now Lord!”

I held it together at first. I allowed one tear drop when I was first told I had breast cancer but the flood gates opened when I sat with the counselor who went over the financial cost. I cried so hard because as a single low-income woman, how can I afford this and take care of my children?

As a minister of God, I had believed I was healed and now I was angry at God. I began to pray and I had to face that this was a cross I had to bear. I had to face this giant and believe I have the victory.  Faith no longer was just a word but it became a true action word for me. I faced the giant called CANCER and defeated it. I went through 12 rounds total chemo treatments and 33 rounds of radiation. I lost my hair and did not hide it. My fingers and feet turned black. I told my story every chance I got. I continued to go to work, host my yearly conference and continued to preach God’s word. I faced my giant with my faith and family support.

I encourage everyone to face your giant. At first, it looks bigger than you can handle, but with God CANCER became cancer.  Facing your giant with truth and education helps you know how to defeat your giant. Never give up – you have the victory.

When Birds Make Plans

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Kate:

By Kate Morrow

It was my very last day of maternity leave and I was determined to make the most of it, soaking up every last minute with my twins Jack and Lilly. I had big plans of reading books, snuggling, taking a walk in the stroller to the park, visiting daddy at work and more. And then I heard it. “Tweet, tweet.”

Our scruffy, lovable Beagle, Atticus, who has a personality large than life just went outside and I forgot to close the door. I shut it quickly thinking I heard the bird from outside. I continued to hear, “Tweet, tweet.” And that’s when I realized…

A bird had flown into the house.

He was thrashing about. Atticus was chasing him. It was absolute chaos. Frightened and panicked, I quickly threw everything into the car, babies in tow, and was prepared to drive up the interstate to my in-laws rather than dealing with the bird. I quickly realized, it’s true—

You make plans, God makes other plans.

You see, this has been the metaphor of my life for the past year.

I planned to get pregnant. A year and three rounds of Clomid later, we were finally expecting.

I planned to have a baby. A six week ultrasound revealed we were expecting twins.

I planned on a normal, healthy pregnancy. I went into pre-term labor at 24 weeks and spent 4 weeks on bedrest.

 I planned to keep my babies inside of my womb as long as I could. I went into for-real-this-time labor and delivered them at 28 weeks, 3 days gestation and we spent 76 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

I planned to live a life as normal as possible when we were discharged. We were discharged a week before the worst influenza season in history and instead spent 120 days in medical isolation.

I planned to return to work. I instead had to resign from my ten-year career to keep my babies at home and safe through the winter.

I planned a countdown out of isolation and breaking free to our finally happy, normal life.  My father unexpectedly passed away at 68 years old just 17 days before isolation would have been complete.

This past year has been hard and tougher in ways than I ever thought possible. It was dark. It was a lonely journey. It was the year that almost broke me. Yet, it was also the year that also defined me. It was the year that I saw more life and death than I ever thought possible and the year that filled me with purpose. It was the year I grew up in more ways than I ever thought possible.

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The only constant during these times was the persistent urge and calling to do more. To help people. To encourage women like me. To make a difference for babies like Jack and Lilly. To leave a legacy. And that’s exactly what I am doing.

I didn’t plan for this, but I have never been happier or more fulfilled.

And I cannot wait to tell you more about it.

What being 50 means to me

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet June:

By June Headley-Greenlaw

So it happened – I turned 50 on July 16th!  I’m counting among my birthday gifts finding out that I was chosen to be a new blogger.  I am excited to share some of my experiences with all of you.  Hopefully, my thoughts about turning 50 will help you get to know me a little and I look forward to sharing more each month.

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During my birthday week celebration, I reflected on all the blessings I have in my life.  But that week, I also found myself reflecting on things I don’t normally think much about – my childhood.  For me, turning 50 means I not only made it through, I survived and thrived!  I was fortunate to have lots of neighborhood friends in our very lower-class neighborhood, but times were tough!  I grew up in a 900 square foot house with a family of four.  It’s taken a lot of hard work the last 30 years for me to get to a life I’m proud to crow about.

I have a wonderful husband that is my hero!  He cooks and cleans AND does the grocery shopping!  We have six kids minus one.  That’s a story for another blog.  Four of the kids served in the military and the youngest two are in college.  Five boys and the baby girl.  I am blessed!

I have a nice home in a nice neighborhood where kids are safe to play in the streets and adults can be seen chatting on curbs.  I’ve learned a lot from these chats and sincerely recommend that you get out and get to know your neighbors.  There’s always someone you can call when you need help with a project.  We literally call each other and say, “Hey, can I rent your husband for an hour”.  Yes, I know how steamy that sounds, but it’s really just about a toilet or some heavy lifting that needs to be done.  I promise it’s not that kind of neighborhood!  Although we LOVE “the hood” it is more than we need now so we recently showed it to a couple that would like to buy in our “hood”.  I told them I had to put a disclaimer on sales documents that our neighbors might show up unannounced to use the pool because they have a standing invitation.  We don’t have to be there.  They are all welcome!  Don’t worry, I’ve got good insurance.  I am blessed!

I drive a 10-year-old minivan because I haven’t quite come to terms with the fact that my youngest child is now 19 and in college.  It’s a really nice van and I see no need to upgrade.  I am blessed!

I have a wonderful job that has gotten me to within a month of retirement eligibility.  I am blessed!  Since this is my first time blogging here, I’ll let you know that I work at the University of South Carolina.  Primarily, I help faculty members develop research proposals, but I also help coordinate a very large regional conference each year and anything else that folks need me to do.

While I’m starting to feel parts of my body losing strength, I am pretty healthy.  I am blessed, but a little scared!  During my birthday week, someone at work literally said to me, “get ready for bladder leakage”.  Really?  Yesterday I was 49 and today I’m supposed to start peeing my pants?

So here I sit, at the age of 50, just waiting for my application to join AARP to arrive in the mail!  Feeling completely blessed and grateful to have made it this far!

Ultimate Mother of All Bonding Experiences

By Stacy Thompson

So I’m sitting in a hotel room near Lake Bled, Slovenia (more on that later), getting ready to begin another awesome hike with Mom.  Whenever I start one of these, I always spend a little time reminiscing about past hikes and some of the incredible experiences we’ve had—one stands out, and fortunately I have the video journal to give you some of the high points of the journey.

As with many of the crazy, challenging things I’ve attempted in life, the Ultimate Hike was Mom’s idea.  It is a solid enough premise—raise money to help fund children’s cancer research—with an unbelievable physical challenge—27.3 miles on the Foothills Trail in one day.  Yes, 27.3 miles. In. One. Day.  Though I thought my mother had truly lost her mind, I once again reminded her of my words to live by “I will never say no” to any experience she offers up.

So we began months of hiking with our Midlands SC team at Harbison State Park—our hikes became longer and longer as the day of the CureSearch Ultimate Hike drew near.  The night before the Hike we were in bed by 7 a.m. for our 2 a.m. wake-up call (to be safe, I called in a wake-up call, set the alarm in the room as well as alarms on my phone,  Mom’s phone and my iPad—sounded like a maniacal clock factory explosion the next morning).  We were on the trail by 4:45 a.m.–hiking in the dark for the first leg and then continuing on through until around 7 p.m. that evening—and here, for your amusement, are three excerpts from our video journal:

Part I

Part II

Part III

In all, an exhausting but exhilarating day—and one we plan to repeat in the future for sure!

The Loss of My Precious Haley

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Tina:

By Tina Cameron

The loss of a pet is heartbreaking. It doesn’t matter the circumstances; a pet dying from old age; an illness such as cancer or the difficult decision to send them over the Rainbow Bridge to end their suffering–it is just heartbreaking. This is the story of my precious Haley who was in my life for almost 10 years. She loved food, her stuffed animals and stealing my pillow at night.And, unfortunately, was also sick most of her life.

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At eight months old, she had emergency surgery and was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and seizures. At age two, she was diagnosed with liver failure and I was told she would not live past four. I was determined to have her time left with me to be just lots of snuggles, love and any food she wanted to eat. After a few months, we returned to the vet and there was no change in her liver enzymes but, she was still active and thriving, so I decided to change her diet myself since she refused to eat the specialty food from the vet anymore. Within three weeks, her liver enzymes were reduced by half. I was thrilled as was her vet. So, we carried on and still had the occasional Chick-fil-a run.FB_IMG_1510321410447

Year after year she continued to have elevated enzymes and birthdays. In October 2017 her liver enzymes were normal for the first time in 7 years. I was ecstatic since we had just celebrated her 9th birthday on September 20th, 2017. Fast forward to June 13th, 2018 at her next vet visit. She had begun losing weight despite eating like a pig. At the vet, while waiting to be seen, she became lethargic. She was seen right away and after her assessment was rushed for lab work and an x-ray. She had an enlarged heart, a heart murmur, severe constipation, low blood sugar (which explains the lethargy) and with Insulinoma, which is a rare malignant pancreatic tumor that causes low blood sugar, seizures, difficulty walking, and weight loss. She had all of these symptoms. The vet talked to me about options and that quality was more important than quantity.

The next twelve days were a blur as she had to be fed every four hours to keep her sugar elevated. She began to decline rapidly and started distancing herself from me in a way to prepare me for what was coming. On day 12, June 25th, 2018 I made the most difficult decision to put her down and to end her suffering. By this time, she was bleeding and vomiting bright red blood and refused to be syringed fed or watered.

On the way to the vet, we had the windows down, took selfies at red lights, and cranked up Miranda Lambert. She was smiling because I think she knew where we were going. At the vet, her IV was started, pictures were taken, and I wrapped her in her favorite blanket, held her and repeatedly told her through the tears it was okay to go and how much I loved her. The medications were given, and her suffering was over in a minute and a half.

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It has now been four weeks, I am still grieving and missing her every day. My other Yorkie– Peyton Manning is still grieving as well. Pets are our family. So, Haley, please know that you were/are my heart; my chick-fil-a loving, cheese and Pringles crunching loving sweet girl. You brought so much joy into our lives. You were sick more than you were healthy the 9 years, 9 months and 5 days you were on this Earth. You are finally free of pain and can run with all the sweet dogs, cats and bunnies in Heaven. My heart is broken but knowing you are happy and healthy gives me comfort. I will look after Peyton as she is so lost without you. I will love you furever my precious sweet girl.

Autumn Chicken Salad

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Rhonda:

By Rhonda Woods

I am the Chef/Instructor for the Pelion High School Culinary Arts program.  This is my 18th year of teaching Level One and Level Two students in grades 10-12.

I began compiling recipes of my Chef Woods Facebook page when I accompanied my late “sweet husband” to his doctor appointments and chemo treatments.  He lost his short 18 month battle with Metatastic Melanoma Cancer.  I thank God for healing him and taking him home, but miss him greatly.

Cooking is and has been my stress relief.  I now get to teach others my passion for cooking…and especially baking.  So, let begin with a favorite of our faculty and staff, Autumn Chicken Salad!

Tips:

  1. Mise en place, a French term that means to “put in place”, or have all of your ingredients washed, prepped, measured or weighed and all tools. This helps prepare the recipe quickly…kinda like a food network show!
  2. Use a sharp knife for cutting. A dull knife is less safe because it takes more pressure to use than a sharp one.
  3. A food processor with a “pulse” button is your friend. Makes quick work on chopping and give you the control over how much chopping needed to be done rather than just using the “on” button.
  4. Chicken salad is highly perishable, also know as TCS food. Foods that require minimum time in the temperature range from 41 degrees F-70 degrees F. Six hours total without refrigeration, but the internal temp cannot exceed 70 degrees F.
  1. Chicken salad has a refrigerated shelf life of 7 days, counting the day it was made.

 

Ingredients

1 lb. cooked, diced white meat chicken

1 hard boiled egg

1/4 c. Onion (@1/4 of a small onion) cut into large chunks

2 ribs celery, washed and cut into large chunks

1/4 of a Granny Smith Apple, small diced

1/4 c. Dried cranberries, rehydrating is optional (just soak in some hot water to plump up, the drain)

1/4 c. Sliced almonds

1 t salt or lite salt

1/4 t. Ground or coarse black pepper

1/2 c. Light Duke’s mayonnaise

1/2 c. Light Daisy sour cream

Directions:

  1. In the food processor bowl with a blade attachment, pulse the chicken @ 6-8 times and remove to a non-reactive bowl.
  2. Pulse the onion and celery to the same consistency as the chicken and remove.
  3. Pulse the hard boiled egg 3-4 times and remove.
  4. Combine the chopped chicken, vegetable and egg mixture with the remaining ingredients.
  5. Adjust the consistency with additional mayonnaise and sour cream, and flavor with salt and pepper.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. Serve with crackers, bread or on a bed of salad greens.

 

Free Therapy Anyone?

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Marianna:

By Marianna Boyce

What is a blog?  Before March, 2018, I really didn’t know.  My very unique definition is as follows:

Blog (noun) – A public forum shared on the Internet where people can release pent-up frustration about living with daily chronic pain.  In sharing with others, feelings and emotions can be placed on the outside of oneself instead of bottling them up on the inside.

I had been suffering from intense pain related to an “undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis,” best classified as Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Writing would be the release I needed to bring me back from the alternate universe I had been living.  In a nutshell, blogging would be my free therapy. 

My name is Marianna Boyce and I’m sure you’ve already guessed that I deal with daily chronic pain.Marianna

I am 50 years old and recently celebrated my 31st wedding anniversary with my remarkable husband Gerry.

My daughter Tiffany is 38 and she is married to Bill.  They have three girls. Our two older grandchildren are adopted. Abby will soon be 13 and her sister Emma is 11.  Avery is 5 and she was a fantastic surprise!  That’s a whole story in itself!

If you do the math, you will figure out quickly that Tiffany is my bonus daughter.  Although I did not give birth to her, I consider her my daughter and will refer to her as such in future posts.  We have been through a lot together.  There was a reason for it all.

Our son Cody is 30.  He is a middle school teacher in Lexington School District One.

Parenting is one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding jobs a woman can have!  With Tiffany and Cody both “grown and gone,” our reward is now seeing them thrive and pursue their chosen careers. We’ve been blessed with two driven and goal-oriented children.

Another great reward is being “GiGi” to our three grandchildren.  I was effortlessly navigating my new season of life…until the unimaginable happened!

I vividly recall the moment my unusual journey began.  The onset of my mysterious symptoms would instantly change my life.  I would be tested in dramatic fashion.  Some days I would pass the test, but many days I would fail miserably.

Coping with prolonged, intense pain brings forth a wide range of emotions.  I experienced many victories and defeats along the way.  I will offer you a glance inside my little corner of the world, past and present.  I promise you this blog will not be all gloom and doom.  Although our lives are very different, I’m sure you deal with similar emotions on a daily basis.

I am thrilled to be a voice for Lexington Medical Center’s Every Woman Blog!  I sincerely look forward to sharing my unique story with you!  Your comments and feedback are always appreciated.

No one has a perfect life, but life itself…It is a gift.  God gives me breath, therefore I breathe, therefore I live!  I will live life to the fullest!

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