A Strong Southern Woman

By Tina Michelle Cameron

IMG_0641

I began working at Lexington Medical Center on the inpatient oncology unit in September of 2014. This is where I met Hannah. I want to tell you a little bit about my friend and former coworker. She lights up a room when she enters it. She is strong, down to earth, easy going, funny, caring, smart, and an all-around beautiful person, both inside and out. I admire her for so many things, but what I admire most is that she has no fear in standing up for herself and in her ability to speak her mind. My blog posts lately have been about the strong and caring women that I have in my life. I am proud to call them friends. I hope you enjoy reading about Hannah.

Hannah draws you in with her southern accent and beautiful smile. She is a nurse, wife, mom, daughter, aunt, and sister. I asked Hannah to answer some questions for my blog and, even after almost six years of knowing her, I found out some new things about her. She comes from a large family, including four brothers, three sisters, three nieces, and nine nephews. Wow! Both her parents are recipients of the Order of the Palmetto, which is the highest civilian honor bestowed on a South Carolinian. Double wow!

Hannah is 31 and graduated from Clemson University with her BS in Nursing. She is also certified in Oncology. After passing her oncology certification, she decided to apply to grad school. A few years ago, she graduated from Francis Marion with her MBA. She currently works at the Michelin Family Health Center in Lexington. When asked why she chose to be a nurse, she said it was because of her desire to make a difference. Hannah believes in supporting in-state schools, which is why she chose to attend Clemson University and Francis Marion. She is also a die-hard Clemson fan.

Hannah is married to Jeremy and they have two children. Harper is 8 and Brantley is almost 4 months. They also have two dogs, Marley and Bear. Hannah has a huge heart and loves to help veterans. In fact, she is a nurse for the Vets to Washington project. Her hobbies also include spending time with family, watching Clemson football, and watching Harper play softball. She is a Lexington Girls Softball board member. Hannah also is a Civil War reenactor. She loves her country, sweet tea, family, and football.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Hannah. In my opinion, she is a strong southern woman. I have enclosed a few photos of her and her precious family.

Finding joy in a new hobby

By June Greenlaw

Baby boy quilt

When I turned 50 a few years ago, it occurred to me that I might want to get moving checking things off my bucket list.  One of the things that has long been on that list is to learn how to quilt.  This past January, my best friend and I took a beginner’s quilting class.  We are now quilting fools!

I was amazed at how easy it was, considering I had not touched a sewing machine since home economics class in 7th grade.  Remember, I’m over 50 now, so that was a long time ago.  I have to give credit to the teachers of the class because they were very patient, but I do believe that anyone can learn to quilt in very little time.

Quilts for Veterans group

During the class, we were able to get the top of our first quilt completely done.  When a friend saw what we had done via facebook, she reached out to us and asked if we would consider making some quilts for Veterans in her hospice center.  Of course, we were honored to do something so small for folks who have done so much for us.  We hope these veterans will sleep half as comfortably under these quilts as we sleep under the blankets of freedom they have each provided to us.

Knowing about this opportunity, we wanted to share with others and touch as many lives as we could, so we coordinated a Quilts for Veterans event.  Many awesome volunteers came together and we were able to complete 24 quilt tops that day.  Those quilts are currently be finished by volunteers and will be presented to the Veterans very soon.

Since then, I completed that first blanket we started in our class and I gave it to my 89-year-old Aunt.  I also completed two baby blankets, one for a boss at work that had just become a Grandfather and another for a niece that is expecting her first child.  I was delighted to be able to give all of them something handmade, but the quilting journey has a few other adventures to report.

I mentioned above that my friend and I took this class together.  Well, that friend and I have a mutual friend that recently lost her Dad.  We received some of her father’s clothing in the mail from one of her relatives.  We were able to use his clothing to create a keepsake quilt for her to, one day, pass on to her children.

We were very proud of all of the quilts I have mentioned, but our favorite, and likely the one that will mean the most to us forever, is one that we created for a girlfriend that is currently receiving treatment for breast cancer.  The quilt was designed with the pink breast cancer ribbon in the middle.  As we told our friend, we know that this diagnosis does not define her, but we wanted her to be able to use this blanket to wrap herself in love while fighting this battle and, afterward, to use it as a reminder of her strength.

Checking this off the bucket list has been incredibly fulfilling already, and I’m excited about all the gifts I will be able to create in the future.  I currently have two wedding quilts on my agenda, and my daughter recently asked me to make one for her friend that is ill.  I feel very blessed that God led me to this hobby because it has given me the ability to do something unique for others.  The best part of making the quilts is always giving them away!

I encourage anyone that has thought about quilting to give it a try.  It’s been a rewarding journey so far, and, as an extra added benefit, it has given us something to do while we all keep our distance from others during this challenging time with the virus.  If not quilting, I hope you will check something off your bucket list soon.

Calling All Guest Bloggers: Embracing Our Virtual Community

By Lexington Medical Center

close up photography of woman sitting beside table while using macbook

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

One of our goals of the Every Woman Blog is to facilitate a dialogue and provide a sense of community for the women of the Midlands. And in times like this, a virtual community is even more important! We have hosted many women bloggers over the year who’ve shared all parts of their lives with our readers. Now, as our community faces something unprecedented, we are inviting women of the Midlands to submit a blog post on topics that may be of interest to other women in our community during this time. We may all have a little extra time to write or read and sharing with others may be a real comfort. We invite women of the Midlands to submit guest blogs and strengthen this community.

If you are interested in submitting a guest blog for consideration, please email it as a text attachment or in the body of the email to everywomanbloglmc@gmail.com. To be eligible, blogs must be between 400-600 words and include at least one photo. Publication will be subject to approval.

Exercise and RA: Part Four

By Marianna Boyce

active-adult-athlete-body-416778I’m sure we can all agree exercise benefits us all—regardless of gender, age, and fitness levels. There are many options to choose from, but not every workout suits every need. The key is to keep looking until you find which one works best for you.

 

In the beginning, I used rheumatoid arthritis as an excuse not to exercise, but quickly found anything water-related was a soothing option for my aching joints. For that very reason, I joined a gym and participated only in their water fitness classes. After about a month, this particular activity enabled me to build strength and endurance, ultimately giving me the confidence I needed to search for more options.

 

Since I preferred group classes, I looked for some I could do without creating painful regrets. There’s a difference between RA pain and exercise pain. I can handle the exercise pain alone, but paired with RA, it’s a frightening thought.

 

To follow is a list of some of the choices I’ve made so far. I certainly plan to add to the list as I become stronger, but for now, I’m challenging myself. It’s a balancing act, but the motivation is quite simple—feeling better while improving my mobility.

 

Aqua-Fit/Aqua-Tone/Aqua-Zumba

Each of these fun-filled workouts is for people of all ages and fitness levels.

 

I reaped many benefits from these non-impact underwater exercises performed in a temperature-controlled pool.

 

The instructor guides each step of the way, and most importantly, if you mess up, no one cares. As long as you keep moving, you’re doing it right.

 

I like to say, “What goes on under the water stays under the water.”

 

There’s no judgement and no rules.

 

Okay, there’s only one rule—no drowning allowed, and since your face is never submerged, it’s an easy rule to follow.

 

As I gained momentum in the areas of flexibility, strength, and mobility, I mustered up enough courage to try a Yoga Restore class.

 

Yoga Restore

This relaxing hour is also encouraged for all ages and fitness levels.

 

woman-in-purple-long-sleeve-shirt-and-grey-leggings-sitting-3756509

It uses breathing, stretching, and restorative postures to assist in feeling refreshed and renewed. With the lights dimmed, the intimidating factor most people feel when starting out makes it easier to attend. It’s a great way to treat your body to a calm, relaxing workout.

 

There’s no judgement and no rules.

 

Okay, there’s only one rule—just do you. Since you know your body better than anyone, it’s an easy rule to follow. The instructor never pushes beyond your limit. If you can’t hold a particular stretch or pose, do one you can.

 

RPM (Indoor Cycling/Spin Class)

This class is for all ages and fitness levels.

 

athlete-bike-black-and-white-cycle-260409RPM is a calorie-burning workout on stationary bicycles where you ride with the instruction of an enthusiastic coach. An instructor will guide you through various terrains—including hills, flats, and mountaintops.

 

In this class, there’s no judgement and no rules.

 

Okay, there’s only one rule—just have fun. It’s not a competition. The instructors constantly encourage members to listen to their bodies.

 

This high energy class is great, but I always take it much easier than everyone else. My knees and ankles don’t allow for the intensity many others exert—and I’m okay with that.

 

Barre

Wow—I love this class. It’s incredibly challenging, but miraculously doable—even for those with joint-related issues such as RA.

 

It’s a low-impact, high-energy program that integrates principles of yoga, Pilates, and strength training all in one class. The instructor focuses on slow, full-range movements combined with high repetition and isometric contractions. It increases strength, endurance, and bone density. It also improves posture, functional movement, and engages every muscle in the body through each pose and exercise.

 

Did I mention, there’s no judgement and no rules?

 

Okay, there’s just one rule—challenge yourself, but only within your physical limitations. The instructor will give modifications to any exercise if necessary.

 

Is it easy? Absolutely not. Has it been well worth the extra time, effort, and money? More than you’ll ever know. Until September of last year, I’d completely forgotten how good exercise felt. These activities changed the trajectory of my health and wellness goals.

 

Trust me! There’s still much to do, but the benchmark I recently set for myself was to simply feel better without focusing on a number on the scale. I’ve met that goal—so what’s next?

 

If you’ve ever entertained the idea of joining a gym, I encourage those of all ages and fitness levels to take that plunge if at all possible. Not all have a pool, so if you’re searching for water-fitness in particular, MUV fitness is a good option. If you don’t necessarily need a pool, I definitely recommend any reputable gym that’s convenient and affordable.

 

The reasoning is simple, and has nothing to do with vanity, but everything to do with mobility.

 

I’m not 100% pain-free, and may never be, but I haven’t felt better in years. Exercise is helping in ways I never thought possible—mentally and physically. It’s something I never thought about until it was snatched away, but I can honestly say I no longer take it for granted. The power of movement and mobility—it truly does matter.

beach-woman-sunrise-silhouette-40192

I’ve not been paid or given any services from MUV Fitness.

 

Exercise and RA: Part Three

By Marianna Boyce

waterfitness1

After the onset of perplexing RA symptoms in 2016, it’s taken me more than three years to pull myself together—especially in the area of health and wellness. The counterintuitive aspect of combining exercise with rheumatoid arthritis seemed ludicrous, but I’ve been desperate to feel like my old self again. I know exercise is an important factor. I’m not getting any younger, so it’s high time to get started. No more quitting.

Everyone’s probably heard the definition of insanity—the one where you do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results? Yeah—that’s the one. I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

It was clear what kept me in tip-top shape in my thirties and forties wasn’t clicking in my fifties. I had entered a new season of life—and wasn’t happy about it.

This change was inevitable, and throwing RA in the mix was much like throwing gasoline on a fire.

In a nutshell, I just missed me. It was evident I needed a different approach, so I got back to basics—start slow and do what you can.

Initially, I resorted back to my home workout videos, but they weren’t as easy as they used to be. I was desperate for outward results but didn’t realize at the time that I needed to work on things other than vanity.

Wanting to lose twenty pounds, I started making better food choices, but also took the plunge and began working out in my sister’s pool last summer. It was then, something strange happened. After a few sessions in the privacy of Cindy’s backyard, I felt incredible—and hadn’t even lost one pound.

Disappointing? Maybe at first, but as time passed, I made a conscious effort to stop fretting about the number on the scale and concentrate solely on the inner me instead.

When summertime came to a close, Cindy covered her pool for the fall and winter months. We decided to join a local fitness center with an indoor pool as we waited out the colder weather.

In all honesty, we weren’t thrilled with the idea of shaking up our daily routine by going to the gym throughout the week, but it’s something we had to do. It sounds like a zany idea for two women in their fifties to be joining aquatic activities in a public pool—yet there we were, along with other people of all ages, shapes, and sizes.

We both loved it immediately.

After the first few sessions, one of the instructors asked if we’d tried classes other than the pool-related ones.

At that time, Cindy and I were on an incredible exercise high, but our instructor knocked us right back down to earth when she asked us about trying other classes.

My thoughts were, “We’re just here for the pool, lady—nothing else. We’ve found our new comfort zone, and we’re happy about it, so there’s no need to push the issue.

This intuitive instructor wasn’t convinced. She thought we could do more. This sweet lady suggested we try a Yoga-Restore class offered upstairs in their main studio.

I told her about a few yoga videos I enjoyed at home (pre-RA,) but they were currently more advanced than my physical capabilities allowed.

She explained this particular class was more concentrated on breathing, stretching, and relaxing. The more she talked it up, the more Yoga-Restore intrigued us. balance-body-exercise-female-374101

Breathing is a necessity; stretching leads to mobility, and relaxing is a luxury.

Sign us up. When’s the next class?

Little did we know how amazing we’d feel the day after yoga.

If you suffer from RA, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, etc., you know that mornings are the worst. The pain and stiffness after waking up are debilitating, but after the first yoga session, our mornings were much more tolerable—not 100% pain-free, but definitely a considerable difference than before.

Branching out to take that one additional class prompted us to seek more possibilities, but we agreed the pool would be a constant. Our new yoga class was also a keeper, but we now looked at the gym in an entirely new way. It appeared Cindy and I were much stronger than we initially thought.

Our options are limitless, but our health issues sometimes keep us grounded. There’s always a fine line to tread, but as a team, we have each other’s back as we both make progress.

How can we push ourselves without going overboard? What else can we possibly do? Just about anything we put our minds to.

An Angel Here on Earth

By Tina Cameron

I have a friend that is truly an angel among us. Tisha is kind, sweet, caring, funny, and 20200201_081241has a big heart for people and dogs. Recently, God has had her in the right place at the right time on two separate occasions. The first occasion was as Tisha was out driving, she came across two dogs that were in the roadway in danger of being hit by passing cars. She stopped her car and rescued the dogs just as the owner was pulling up. The second incident was the next day as Tisha was driving to the hospital where we work as oncology nurses. As she was driving in the dark hours of the morning, she noticed a man riding his bicycle near her. In an instant, another driver hit this gentleman and took off without stopping to render air or return to the scene. Thank goodness Tisha was paying close attention and able to call 911 before stopping to help the injured man. He sustained a shoulder injury but will be okay.

IMG_0430Let me tell you a little about Tisha. She is 48 years old. She has been married for 27 years to Jamie, and they are blessed with two sons, Gavin and Grayson, and their two “children-in-love,” Matthew and Sarah-Grace. Tisha is also Mom to three fur babies-Bella, Brody, and Bailey.

Tisha has been a nurse for 9 years. She became a nurse because she has always enjoyed helping people and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. When I asked Tisha what nursing meant to her she said, “For me, nursing has been interesting, challenging, and rewarding. Becoming an RN was a dream come true for me. I really believe that nursing is more than a career; it’s a calling and truly a way of life.” During her free time, Tisha’s favorite things to do are spending time with her family and her dogs, decorating her home, and taking naps and beach trips.

I have worked with Tisha for the past 5 ½ years. I am so happy to call her a friend and feel blessed that she is in my life. Tisha is an asset to our oncology unit, as well as our patients. She truly is an angel here on earth, and the world is a better place because she is in it.IMG_3308 (002)

Exercise and RA: Part Two

By Marianna Boyce

Exercise and RA part IIIf you read my last post, you’ll recall my sister and I claimed her swimming pool as our gym last summer. Cindy and I both suffer from chronic illnesses that affect mobility; she suffers from fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, while I endure dreadful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

 

What started as “Saturday only” water workouts quickly evolved into something much bigger. We upped our game as we squeezed in two additional workouts during the week. Being in the water made it easier for us to move.

 

The weekday shakeup in my rigid routine was inconvenient but well worth it. The hardest part about changing the workout schedule was getting there after a long day at work, but once we were in the pool, we were unstoppable. Swimming made an empowering difference in the way we felt.

 

Cindy and I were definitely on to something—that is until the leaves started changing their colors.

 

When she covered the pool for the fall and winter months, I had the mully-grubs. My body needed the pool, so I began searching for venues that offered aquatic fitness classes in a temperature-controlled setting. We needed a heated pool in a clean, safe environment.

 

Of all the options available, a local gym in the heart of town caught my eye.

 

Now, the question was, “Do I actually want to join a gym?” 

 

Having a membership definitely has its perks, but it costs money, time, and commitment—things I wasn’t sure I had. Certainly, no one dealing with a beast like RA joins a fitness center. The idea seemed counterintuitive, so I immediately started talking myself out of it.

 

First and foremost, what does a fifty-one-year-old, pain-filled, peri-menopausal woman do at a sports club?

 

Secondly, I couldn’t afford to join, but then figured I couldn’t afford not to. 

 

Thirdly, I thought the gym was for “perfect” people. I’m certainly far from that, but it was high time my health and wellness finally took precedence.

 

To satisfy my curiosity, I needed to visit the gym. Since I had no earthly idea what to expect, slipping in under the radar was my goal. I finally mustered up the courage to go to the gym, and I actually fell in love! The whole “slipping in under the radar” idea was not an option, which was a good thing.

 

I was initially impressed with the security from the get-go. Once I entered the building, I had to abide by the safety rules in place. It turns out, I couldn’t aimlessly wander much further than the front desk check-in. I’m not sure why I thought I could.

 

Members must show their barcoded pass scanned whenever they enter the building. Since I wasn’t a paying member, I was promptly met with a friendly face as soon as I stepped inside the front door. I probably looked like a deer in headlights, but she immediately made me feel comfortable.

 

Before taking a tour, I had to sign in as a guest. The process was computerized and entailed more than just signing my name on a sheet of paper. Still, this minor inconvenience made me feel secure knowing they had a detailed listing of everyone in the building at any given time. 

 

After signing in, a gym representative gave me a tour. I revealed my medical setbacks, and the representative assured me that many people join the gym for similar reasons. Not everyone who goes to the gym is young, fit, and fabulous.

 

As I looked around, there were people of all ages and sizes scattered throughout various areas of the gym. Some people were in great shape, and others were working on their goals, like me. The reality of large fitness gyms differed completely from my preconceptions.

 

I was quite comfortable with the representation of everyday people. Although we were extremely different from one another, we were also very much the same. We all just wanted to feel better. Exercise does that for everyone—healthy and unhealthy alike.

 

I left the gym with a fourteen-day free pass to use in whatever way I chose, but my interest was with their indoor pool only. Water exercise was the only thing I was confident I could do, but with fourteen free consecutive days, it would certainly help in my decision-making process.

 

Whether at home or a gym, movement makes a world of difference. I wasn’t ready to forfeit my mobility over to RA. As stated in my last post, I have RA—RA doesn’t have me.

 

I could hardly wait to tell Cindy about my visit. She had a fourteen-day free pass waiting for her as well. I hoped she’d love it because I’d already made up my mind—I was not doing this gym thing alone!

Exercise and RA part II image 2