Why Volunteer

By Janet Prince

Saying “yes” to being asked to volunteer is a very personal decision.  Everyone that volunteers do so for very different reasons.  I do it for many reasons.  Being a homemaker with grown or almost grown children allows me the opportunity to give of my time and my resources.  But most of all it gives me a sense of belonging to a “sisterhood” that I get so much more from than I could ever give.quote

Many say “no” to volunteering for many reasons, such as they don’t have the time, it doesn’t fit in their schedule, or they think that means more meetings.  Well, for a volunteer organization to run smoothly, meetings are involved.  However, individuals can choose how involved they want to be…do they aspire to be a chairman of the club/group, or maybe an officer on a higher level or do they want to just be a “worker bee” behind the scenes.  Each job level is just as important as the other.

When I began volunteering with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC.org), I had much to learn.  My club, the Woman’s Club of the Midlands, which is a part of GFWC South Carolina (gfwc-sc.org) does many things in our community.  One of our newest projects is collecting books and building a bookshelf to put at Lexington Oncology for those receiving treatments, as well as for their caregivers.  Patients will be able to “borrow” books to help pass the time, which for some can be most of a day.  This is a project that won’t take hours to do or put a stress on our members, but it will mean the world to the patients at Lexington Oncology.  This is just an example of how easy volunteering is to do.

I would encourage you to look at the many organizations in our community that are always looking for volunteers.  Find one that represents what you are passionate about and step forward.  For me knowing that “The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service” I knew I had found my place to serve.  While serving our community through the Woman’s Club of the Midlands, I have received so much in return.  I have been able to develop my leadership skills, by serving as a club officer, chairing committees, and the highest honor of all was to serve as the GFWC-SC State President for 2016-2018.  But most of all I have developed friendships with women across our state and across our country.

picI have just returned from a region meeting in Mississippi with my “Southern Sisters”.  We laughed, we learned, and we shared so that when the weekend was over we all returned to our homes with our cups so full that they are running over with joy.  So, I encourage you not to look at volunteering as work, but as fun while helping others. I guarantee the return you get will be more than you could ever give.

My theme when I was president was “Sharing our Passion…One Step at a Time”.   Find your passion and share your talents and your time in our community…you will never regret it!

The Phone Call That Changed My Life

By Janet Prince

In 2003, Gary and I had it all.  A home on the Avenues in Cayce and the land in West Columbia where we were making plans to build our “forever” home, and our two precious daughters, Ashlan (age 5) and Genna, who was only four months old.  That’s when I received the phone call that changed my life forever.

I was 39 years old when we had Genna and Ashlan was in 5K.  I knew I was extremely tired but attributed that to those two factors plus keeping up with the normal household duties.  But that tiredness was not caused by my normal, happy life, but from a lump found in my right breast.  The night I found the lump I didn’t give it much thought because my Mother had a history of benign fibroid tumors over the years, but I did call my doctor’s office the next morning, April 16, 2003.  They worked me in and my doctor confirmed it was a lump so, he sent me and Gary right away for a mammogram which led to a core needle biopsy.  Thankfully they had had a cancellation that morning and could do the biopsy right then.  The doctor told me they would have the results the next day and someone would call me around 4:00 p.m.

The next day, I took Ashlan to kindergarten and Genna and I went out to do some shopping.  While we were out I saw the poem “What Cancer Cannot Do” in one of the stores.  I thought is this a sign?  No…it couldn’t be.  So, I went on about my day and got home to get Genna down for a nap before going to pick up Ashlan.  They had said the phone call would not come until 4:00 p.m. so I knew Gary would be home by then and I didn’t need to worry because he is my rock.

At 2:00 p.m., I was rocking Genna and the phone rang.  I thought, it can’t be them calling right now…Gary’s not home yet.  But it was the nurse navigator calling to give me the results of my core needle biopsy.  She told me who she was, and I asked if she could hold on for just a minute, so I could put my baby down.  Then I returned to the phone and she proceeded to tell me that I had Ductal Carcinoma.  Not being familiar with cancer diagnosis terms, I asked her what that was.  She said, “Mrs. Prince, you have breast cancer.  We are scheduling you an appointment with an oncologist and a surgeon”.  I asked her to wait a minute, so I could get a piece of paper to write down exactly what she was telling me.  My hands were shaking, and I kept telling myself to just keep breathing.  I took everything down and thanked her for calling me.

So, there it was….I had just been told I had breast cancer.  I went and picked Genna up out of her crib and walked across the street to my neighbor, Paula Taylor, who was and still is a nurse at Lexington Medical Center.  I knocked on her door and with tears streaming down my face I handed Paula my baby girl and went home to call Gary and my Mama.  The whole time thinking, I wasn’t supposed to be alone when this call came in…they weren’t supposed to call me until 4:00!  But they did and now I had to call Gary.

Everything from calling Gary and my Mother, to my best friend, is still a blur.  I just know they were there in a flash to hold me up and to see me through the biggest fight of my and for my life.

My cancer was Stage 2, Triple Negative and very aggressive.  I had a lumpectomy and then started my eight rounds of chemotherapy and 30 rounds of radiation.  I was told that before my second chemo my hair would be gone.  Instead of letting it fall out a little at a time with a baby in the house, I let Ashlan pretend to be a beautician and she cut my hair.  Then when she finished, Gary said “you are going to want me to go ahead and shave it for sure now”.  So, he did, and I cried.  Not that my hair was that awesome, but it was a part of me and it took me a long time before I would look at myself in the mirror.  Thankfully, I had gone to Becky’s Place and purchased a wig and a hat because I didn’t want anyone to see me without my hair.  I was very self-conscious and looking back on it I didn’t need to be because my family loved me just as much without my hair as they did with my hair.

At my first treatment, I met a woman who was a retired teacher from Airport High School.  I don’t remember her name, but I remember what she said to me that day.  She could tell I was scared and asked me if this was my first treatment and I said yes and that I was terrified even though I had my family with me.  One of the drugs they used is red and is sometimes called the “red devil”.  But she told me to look at it as though it were the blood of Jesus going through my veins washing the cancer away.  I have always remembered that and have shared it with others as they are beginning their cancer journey.

Looking back over the past 15 years and too many surgeries to count, I’m still here and I’m still a survivor.  There are many things that cancer can do to you but there are many more things that it can’t do…. cancer has made me a stronger woman and a person that appreciates even the smallest things in life.  My goal as I began my cancer journey was to see me girls grown…today, my Ashlan is 21 and has already received her B.A. in Psychology and is now working on her master’s and is getting married in just three short months. My baby, Genna, is thriving and enjoying life like every teenager.  I truly believe Genna is my angel sent from God.  I believe the pregnancy hormones accelerated the cancer growth and had I not gotten pregnant with Genna it could have been in my body growing and I may not have found it until it was truly too late.

I encourage you to do your monthly breast exams.  If you feel anything, call your doctor right away.  You can never be too cautious with your life.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month….so wear your pink to remind yourself to always take care of you!

Until next time…..

Janet

Baby

Me with Genna (top) and me with my family on my last day of chemo!

The Whispering Signs of Ovarian Cancer – Do You Know Them?

By Janet Prince

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and I want to share with you the signs of ovarian cancer…why?  Because I lost my mother –  my very best friend – to ovarian cancer eight years ago and I still miss her every day.  As I shared last month, I am a breast cancer survivor but what I didn’t share is that my mother was diagnosed just five months after me with ovarian cancer.  Just like most women, my mother was so busy helping to take care of me and helping Gary with our two small children that she didn’t have time to listen to the “whispers of ovarian cancer”.

In September of 2003 as my Mom was taking care of me, I noticed her acting a little nervous.  I knew something was wrong and she was holding something back, so finally I got it out of her that “she too had a little problem”.  So, in October I finished my chemo for breast cancer one week and the following week my Mom started her chemo treatment.  We continued our cancer journey together…as my hair was returning, hers was going away.

Over the next few years, she took all the “cancer” hits for us.  My cancer to date has never returned, but Mama’s kept rearing its ugly head every time we thought we had it beat.  On Mother’s Day 2010, I admitted my Mother to the hospital and learned the end was near.  She was placed on In-Hospital Hospice in June and she passed away August 8, 2010.  During this time, we laughed, we talked and I cried.  We were blessed with those very special days and I was blessed to have a husband and family who let me spend those final eight weeks, day and night,  with her.  Gary and the girls would come to the hospital and the girls would crawl up in the bed and share with their Granny how their day was and what was going on in their life.  I believe it was those special times that kept Mama going until it was her time to go.  The night she left us, I held her hand in mine and watched as she left, and I know in my heart she went from my hand to my Daddy’s hand.  And in an instant my best friend was gone.

mom

I encourage you to know your body and know the symptoms of ovarian cancer.  What makes them hard to determine if something is wrong or not is that the symptoms of ovarian cancer are things that we just chalk up to minor irritations.  The Whispering Symptoms include:  abdominal pressure, bloating and discomfort, unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, unexplained weight fluctuation and constant feeling of fullness.  Now who of us hasn’t had many or all of these symptoms at some point in time?  If any of these symptoms prolong you may want to check with your gynecologist…and remember a pap smear does not detect ovarian cancer.

The Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Central South Carolina provides educational information, provides speakers for area lunch and learns, and holds the Cathy B. Novinger Annual Butterfly Release on the steps of the State House.  This year the Butterfly Release will be held on September 20th and butterflies will be released in honor and in memory of those who are battling or have lost their battle with ovarian cancer.  More information can be found at www.ovariancancermidlands.org

Until next time,

Janet

Make time to volunteer

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

Meet Janet:

By Janet Prince

I’ve always been intrigued with “blogs”…they appear to me to be a place where writers can share their inner thoughts and experiences with the world.  When LMC had their post on Facebook looking for new “bloggers,” I submitted my name and a brief bio and was thrilled when I was selected!  So, I think my first order of business is to introduce myself to you and share a little about my life.

I have been a lifelong resident of West Columbia, and a graduate of the University of South Carolina.  I am married to Gary Prince and we have two beautiful daughters – Ashlan, 21, who is a graduate of USC-Beaufort and is starting her master’s in clinical psychology at USC-Aiken this month and Genna, 15, who is a rising sophomore in high school.  Gary is co-owner of Senn Brothers Produce and I have been a stay at home mom since Ashlan was born.  I am a 15-year breast cancer survivor and a full-time volunteer!

logoI believe in giving back to your community through volunteerism.  I am currently the Chairman of the Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Central South Carolina, which was started by the late Cathy Novinger when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  This group was formed to provide education of the symptoms of ovarian cancer to all women.  Knowing the symptoms helps with early detection which helps to save lives.  This organization means the world to me because I lost my mother to ovarian cancer and because of my daughters.  I am most appreciative of the support that Lexington Medical Center provides to our organization.  LMC will be the presenting sponsor of our 2019 Spring Event and I will be sharing more information on that as the plans are finalized!  Until then though, we will be the non-profit recognized at the Fireflies game on Thursday, August 30th at Spirit Communications Park!  To learn more about the Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Central South Carolina, please visit our website at ovariancancersc.com

In addition to the OCC, I am a member of the GFWC Woman’s Club of the Midlands which is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC). GFWC is dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service.   I have been a member for 17 years, the past ten years spent in leadership of our state organization and I have just completed my service as the GFWC-SC State President for 2016-2018.  As president, I was able to choose projects that I was most passionate about so of course one was called “What Color is Your Cancer? Mine is Pink and Teal” – Pink for my Breast Cancer and Teal for my mother’s Ovarian Cancer.  My other project was “Dyslexia Awareness – Genna’s Story”.  Genna was diagnosed with Dyslexia in the first grade and has learned the tools needed to succeed in school and in life.  You can learn more about GFWC and GFWC-SC by visiting our websites at gfwc.org and gfwc-sc.org

With the start of school just a few weeks away, I would encourage you to look for a way for you to give back to your community.  Choose something that you are passionate about – look around there are so many choices!  You may choose to volunteer at the hospital, your local library, your child’s school, or your church or any of the many national organizations such GFWC-SC, Rotary, your local Chamber of Commerce…the opportunities are endless!

Until next time….enjoy the final days of summer!