Look Good Feel Better Class

Recently I was given the opportunity to attend a Look Good Feel Better class hosted by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but seeing as my excursions out of the house are somewhat limited, I was excited to attend.

Now understand that I am a people person (Well, I love being around people, but that doesn’t mean they always like being around me!) but I can be a wallflower going into an unknown situation. Introverted extrovert anyone?  Or is that extroverted introvert?  Hmmmm.  So here I am, showing up at the prescribed time and I’m late.  Ugghh.  Communication issues…

Fake smile on, let’s go find a seat.

I take a few moments to look around the classroom and its occupants and they’re just like me, mostly…

Some proudly display their absence of hair, some don’t.  

Some enhance their appearance, some don’t.  

(Big dangling earrings on a bald head are mesmerizingly beautiful!)

Some are chatty, some aren’t.  

BUT we are all cancer patients: lung, breast, urterine, etc…

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 There are 6 of us ladies and I believe I am the youngest (42) and the rest are in their 50’s, 60’s, and possibly 70’s??  There is the main consultant and a consultant-in-training (who is a 2 year survivor of lymphoma) teaching us to put on make-up.  Did I mention that I haven’t worn make-up since my diagnosis?  I really didn’t know what this Look Good Feel Better class was all about…  My face looks like the lost member of the Teletubbies, my skin is dry and partially acnified (because who knew that chemotherapy works against cancer cells but has a happy-go-lucky, we’re-best-friends relationship with acne.), and I feel about as attractively human as Medusa – minus all the snaky hair extension things.  No hair here, remember.

And so we began…

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Face cleanser, concealer, foundation, personal story from a cancer patient, blush, comment from someone about how self-conscious she feels when people stare at her, eye shadow, laughter about the effects of steroids, neuropathy issues opening all these little components, (Asking for help to open up all these boxes and compacts and tubes…), and then comes the lesson about how to draw on eyebrows:

Who knew that in my lifetime, I would require a lesson on how to draw eyebrows on my own face!

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I have about 10 eyebrow hairs above each eyebrow right now… 

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Then there is the mascara:

I have about 5 eyelashes on each eyelid right now.  They are not all in a nice neat row either…

Random little suckers; Work with me here!  

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I enjoyed every moment of the Look Good Feel Better class!  I got to hang out with people who knew exactly what I was going through…  It wasn’t about looking good.  It was about connecting with those beautiful women.  Their character was set apart by their fears and the freedom to just be women, who have a disease that makes life very, very difficult and uncertain…  Their triumph is being able to truly enjoy those precious moments of good in the midst of all those fears.  I was privileged to be counted among them.

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Many thanks to all those involved to help make the class happen, those who are part of these organizations that promote something positive in the midst of something so negative, and the companies (almost 40) that supply the components for the gift bags.

 Truly impressive!

My Perspective and the Decision-Making Process

I recently read an article by a blogger whom I enjoy perusing from time to time.. and I must say that I respect her, as a person (although I’ve never met her), and I enjoy the ‘realness‘ of her writing style.  Her latest article’s topic (promoting Guardasil immunizations) and her perspective gave me pause to ask myself some tough questions… again.

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Guardasil immunizations have been included in my everyday vocabulary for the last 3-4 years.  Because I have 2 girls, I am yearly faced with the well-child visit questions of ‘Will you consent to have your children immunized?‘ with this ‘protective measure‘ to limit the chances of not being diagnosed with cervical cancer (etc, etc, etc…).

Every year, I choose to say my well-informed ‘No thank you.‘ and go on my merry way…

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Here’s the thing.  I was recently diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  I am currently in the midst of 20 weeks of chemotherapy which will be followed by a single mastectomy and then 4-6 weeks of radiation.  After I heal from all that, I will go back to have reconstructive surgery.  This is all based on the counsel of surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists whom I trust.  A PET scan has determined that my breast cancer has only metastasized to 5 ancillary lymph nodes on the breast tumor side of me.  My surgical oncologist STRONGLY recommended that I have the new and improved ‘blood’ genetic test from Myriad Genetics because I am the 4th woman on my maternal side to be diagnosed with breast cancer.  I submitted myself to the very expensive test that my insurance does not deem necessary and yet, my doctors deem extremely necessary (the denied status has been appealed…).  I also have the unfortunate genetic disposition to have lots of other cancers (though no cervical cancer) on BOTH sides of the family tree. Because of all this I now have to face genetic counseling in the next month…  I have already been informed by my doctors that depending on the results of the genetics test: a double mastectomy and removal of my ovaries would be recommended.

 It’s ALOT to take in…  

ALOT!  

And then there are my 2 girls…  

Oh yeah, by the way, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.  This means that although I have submitted myself to the testing process for a wide array of sexually transmitted diseases and came up ‘clean’, I still test ‘abnormal’ for my pap smear.  Ask a group of doctors what that means and they can’t even agree…

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My perspective, my decisions affect not only me, but my decisions are made based on my perspective, my belief, of this life that I lead: I believe in Christ; I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Yes, I am a Christian.  The world says I am alot of things and alot of what they say is not respectful, but I choose not to respond in their ‘manner’.  

My decisions for my health will be made by myself and my husband, because I trust his wisdom and guidance.  We will make the best decisions for myself and our children based on the wisdom and guidance that we trust which will include the medical advice of doctors that we trust, and let me tell you that there are doctors that I would never trust!

My husband and I choose not to have our children receive the Guardasil immunization.  This is our well-informed choice based on what we believe is best for our children.

It is our choice alone.

You must make your own well-informed choice for your children.

My heart grieves for those who suffer from the diagnosis of cervical cancer; my heart grieves for those who suffer from any type of cancer.

It’s hard.  

It affects you body, soul, and spirit.

This is something that I know all too well as I live in the midst of it right now… but there is no guarantee that after all the chemotherapy and surgeries and radiations that my cancer will not return.

No one can give me an absolute 100% guarantee.

In fact, my chances are increased for developing lymphoma… but I do have this day to love my blessed little family and live in the ABSOLUTE wisdom and trust of my great God.  I choose to live it always giving the glory to Him for everything that He has so graciously allowed in my life including… cancer.

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Never be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions…

again…

and again…

and again…

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To my fellow blogger, whom I’ve never met:

Thank you for challenging me to think and ask!

Movie Review: Frozen

It’s a little cold… so just ‘Let It Go’.

Ever watch Finding Nemo?  They start out the film with the deaths of oodles of sibling Clown fishes and Momma Clown fish.  Poppa Clown fish and Nemo have the rest of the movie to learn how to communicate and live happily ever after…  Poppa fish is presented as an uptight parental figure who is only saved by an absentminded tag-along.  Nemo is the child who just needs to be given the opportunity to flex and stretch his… fin and a half.

In Frozen, the weight of rejection is placed on a young child because of the magical ability to freeze anything and everything that she touches.  We are never told how she was granted this ‘gift’, but now my 8 year old wants icicles to shoot from her fingertips while waltzing around in my snowflake covered blanket.  Furthermore, we learn that sisters are purposefully separated by well-intentioned ‘protective’ parents who take a short 2 week trip… and die.  All this happens while we happily sing ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman?‘!

I remember a fairytale of my childhood about a king who isn’t careful what he wishes for and is granted the ability to turn everything he touches to gold.  It doesn’t end well for him… or his daughter.  Here we find that true love overcomes even the coldest heart or is that the coldest touch?

Brrrrrr 

Do I even want to approach the subject of what constitutes ‘true love’?  Because who knew that trolls can love a young boy into manhood when the rest of humankind rejects him?  The only ones we see to be truly bad are the ‘weasel’ of Weselton and the 13th manchild of an apparently too-large-family.

But never fear, I do have a absolute favorite!  OLAF!  He is the most misguided, and yet, ever-so-loveable snowman who loves a warm hug and has absolutely no idea that he will NEVER get a tan!  I feel his pain on that one… because sometimes being too white will scare even the Sun away.  But I digress.  Back to the review…

Olaf should have his own movie! 

Let the cast of Frozen support him as well as he supported them…

As a whole, the movie is overrated.  Little did I realize that I had already watched most of the movie via YouTube clips with my anxious, ummm… eager child.  And who hasn’t heard, learned, and recorded their own version of ‘Let It Go’?  This version, of course, is my favorite…

Keep Olaf.

Let the rest of the movie GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Facebook…

openly supports abortion for underage girls.  They support the murder of innocent helpless babies.

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As I was reading my news feed last night, a post from TownHall.com via their Facebook Page came through with this feed:

2013-08-16 20.36.37This is the link they shared…

I was appalled.

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Facebook allows a page called Virgin Mary Should’ve Aborted?

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So, if I’m religious or I’m pro-life, I should not be offended?  It’s okay to offend me?  This page is not hate speech, according to Facebook, “Z”, “Lilith”, and 8,166 likes…

I shouldn’t be surprised because apparently it is hate speech for Paula Deen to admit saying one word, 30 years ago, and lose multiple contracts.  But it’s okay for Oprah Winfrey to cry racism because she is a black woman and shop girl in Switzerland didn’t recognize her.  Supposedly wouldn’t show her a bag that was on a higher rack, out of arm’s length…  And it’s okay for Alec Baldwin to publicly spout profanity and slurs at a reporter and then be rewarded with his own show?  Oh, and I’m a ‘hater‘ because I’m white; because it’s the entire white population’s fault for the short-sighted actions of a Hispanic man and a black teenager and the ineptitude of the Florida justice system?

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The Facebook page is offensive.  The unidentified partners are willing to post pictures of themselves (young, hip, and like, totally in the ‘know’ of all things), but not their names because “We conceal our identities so the extremists don’t hunt us down and kill us for our beliefs. However we have posted our pics, and we stand by our anti-religion convictions. Unlike god, we can provide proof of our existence.

Huh?

So they think that I (we), religious and/or pro-lifers, are extremists who will what?  Hurt you?  Kill you?

  Seriously?

Your Mommas can provide proof of your existence, but your intelligence seems to be sorely lacking.

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  Grow-up and grow a back bone, already.

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You don’t even know me.  Just like I don’t know you.  And yet, you lump me into a group that will hunt you and kill you and I’m the one that should embrace your desire for participationin these debates – share your insights and express your beliefs. Whether it concerns abortion, LGBT rights, religion, etc., all discussion is welcome.”?  Seriously?  You want a debate?  You got it.

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But putting down one group in order to build up another is cowardly and uneducated

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And here is the kicker, folks…  Facebook supports not only abortion for underage girls, the murder of innocent babies, but they also support hate speech.  Things that make you go Hmmmmmm…  I did report this group, 3 or 4 times, last night.  Each time under a different ‘offense‘.  And three times, twice almost immediately, I got a response from Facebook stating,

Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the page you reported for containing self harm and found it doesn’t violate our community standard on self-harm.

and

Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the page you reported for containing hate speech or symbols and found it doesn’t violate our community standard on hate speech.

and

Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the page you reported for containing nudity or pornography and found it doesn’t violate our community standard on nudity and pornography.

They haven’t responded to me anymore as of 10:11pm EST.  The guidelines for reporting can be found here…  My favorite hypocritical Facebook statement is:

Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.

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A group that does not even abide by its own standards is not a group to be trusted.

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Here’s a not-so-fun fact: Facebook had taken the page down once before and then, for whatever reason, allowed it back up.

WHAT????

 

Oh the PLACES you should go…

What a treat!  I’ve seen sand dunes before, but nothing on this scale of magnitude…  (Yes, I know, it’s probably nothing in comparison to what you’ve seen, but since this is my first experience and I’m writing this, well… you get the idea.)

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Jockey’s Ridge State Park located in Kill Devil Hills, NC is really nothing to behold when you drive into the entrance.  You can sorta see the dunes from the main road…  But as you follow the path to the dunes, you are suddenly confronted with enough sand to make many cats very, very happy!  In fact, that was one of my first 2 thoughts:  1) WOW! and 2) I wonder what all the cats in the area think? 

(Okay, incoming rabbit trail…  You know how they have made ‘many a movie’ about an animal’s travel?  They should definitely include sand dunes into the travels of a cat.)  Now back to our regularly scheduled blog…  You climb and climb and stop and breathe and try to climb some more, and then you realize that you are terribly out of shape, and then you climb some more… 

July 2013 096And then you look up and you see a sight that is more fantastic than anything you have seen before.

July 2013 105It’s not just sand dunes that you see.  You see the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding towns and… an amazing history of what was before ‘you’.  There were kids were playing, there were kites flying, there were hang gliding lessons being given in the distance, and then there was you – enjoying the sight before you, beside you, behind you – ALL around you.

July 2013 106And then, I remembered what goes up the sand dune must go down the sand dune…  Princess Pink was NOT a fan of going down!  I was too concentrated on Princess Pink to really comprehend all the possibilities of going down.  (Although there was that moment when my mind seemed to click with some recalled movies scenes of stranded people in the desert and then I kind of shut off my mental clicker and focused on the very real and very present circumstances at that very real moment)

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My most precious memory moment was when Camo Kid commented on our soldiers who are fighting in desert-like conditions.  Full packs, full gear, extreme heat, imminent danger all around…  and I was blessed to be reminded by my 12 year old of those who fight for the freedom we enjoy.  Many BLESSINGS to all our soldiers!  (And many dreams of swimming pools, cool drinks, and functioning air conditioners…)

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Here’s one last thought to leave you:  Take plenty of water to drink!  I did…

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God isn’t hard of hearing, right?

DSC00685Okay, I must admit that this post will not be written with complete objectivity…

I’m have been trying objectively to sort through the pros and cons for this post and needless to say, the scale of equality is starting to weigh heavily to one side…

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I was invited to attend a Women of Faith Conference at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  I’d heard about these conferences, but had never formally attended one (unless you can call viewing You Tube clips as attendance).  That all being said, I had an idea of what it was about and what to expect… 

Right, expect the unexpected, right?

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The group of ladies I attended with was a group of about 44-48.  Our ages and faith ranged a large spectrum.  A lovely tour bus was contracted.  The group leaders were WELL organized and the trip, as a whole, was very nice!  (Can I just put a plug in for Lodestar Tours?  Excellent service!  Excellent driver!  Wonderful service ALL around!)  We entered DC and were promptly delivered to the Hilton Garden Inn where we enjoyed an overnight stay at one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed!

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On Friday evening we were whisked away to the Verizon Center along with approximately 7,000 other attendees… (Side note:  That’s an AWFUL LOT of estrogen contained in one space, no matter how large the space may be!)

The program begins and we are enthusiastically informed that some new and exciting changes have been made this year at the request of past attendees…

And then, the program continues.

You see, they’ve add a worship team this year! 

And let me tell you, they were movin’ and groovin’ to a beat that I was totally unaware exsisted!  And, I think that they were singing, but I can’t be totally sure because all I heard was noise, uhhh… LOUD NOISE that is.  The words were up on the screen, but I never actually heard the words from the worship team’s mouths because it was THAT loud.  I couldn’t hear the ladies sitting on either side of me because it was that LOUD!

Can you hear me now?

Sorry, no pun intended…

And then Ballet Magnificat! came out…

I’ve been to a concert before.  I’ve never been to a ballet before.  (Oh wait, I have.  It was the Nutcracker at the local middle school when I was about… the age of a middle schooler.)

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But I have to say that between the seemingly synchronized and fluid movements of Ballet Magnificat and the Movin’ and Grovin’ of the worship team, I was confused, unfocused, and totally, like totally feeling the effects of  the ‘reverb’ from the electric guitar (and the drums, and the Godfather of all sound systems)!

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And then, my friend leaned over and said, “Do they think God is deaf?” and then I knew, I wasn’t the only uncertain soul in the Verizon Center…

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And then Mandisa came out…

Let me tell you that I don’t know much about her, but she has a tremendous voice and an inspiring testimony, and that girl can m.o.v.e. and she is h.a.p.p.y. about life!

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And the ‘par-tay’ kicked up about 17 gazillion percent!

(And I swear, I can still feel the ‘reverb‘…)

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Eat your heart out Simon Cowell!

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Oh yeah, during most of the ‘music’ portions of the conference, I sat outside in the lobby or in the nose-bleed section of the area in order to ‘become one with my thoughts‘ again.