Celebrate Life - My Story

Fall has arrived and I can't be anymore excited than a pig rolling in mud assuming pigs really like doing that.

Fall......Oh How I Love You

With the arrival of Fall so many good things arrive with it. Things that warm my soul. Things that bring a slow grinto my face kinda like a cat that ate the canary grin, you know the one. Things that I wish would last forever.

The things I'm talking about are:

  • Cooler temps
  • Brisk air
  • Falling leaves blowing along the street
  • All the shades of oranges, yellows, purples that fill the gardens
  • The smell of pies baking
  • The smell of coffee brewing
  • Jeans, sweaters, and boots.....Holla!!!
  • Coffee/Wine drinking on the deck
  • Long walks
  • The excitement of the Holidays approaching

These things seem to ease anxiety, to bring people together (ya know football games and such), and to encourage giving.

Time To Give Back, To Make A Difference

This Fall with all the feels going on I want to make a difference. I want to encourage others to want to make a difference. I want to reach out to strangers and help. I want to help save lives. I want to give back to an organization (Planned Parenthood) that was there for me when I needed them the most. I put my thinking cap on and created a Celebrate Life campaign.

While everyday should be a celebration of life there are times when it's difficult to see what you should be celebrating. This can't be more true when it comes to being told you have Cancer. Head over to the blog and join The Onyx Feather's Celebrate Life Campaign at www.theoynxfeather.com.

This campaign is personal to me in so many ways.  I have listened as my loved ones who are panic-stricken share the news their doctor just dumped into their lap. Through gut wrenching sobs and fear setting across their face they talk, sob, yell, sob, talk, sob, sob, exhale and say how can I do this???

They can't even say the WORD that has brought them to their knees.

It's like if you don't say it it's not real. It might just go away.

The ONE word no one wants their doctor saying in a sentence describing their health.

The ONE word that changes lives FOREVER.

The word is........CANCER.

Cancer. Cancer. Cancer......it doesn't get any easier to say the more you say it.

The stats in the below image will give you an idea how many people are affected by one single word. Warning the numbers are astonishing. 

photo credit: www.cancer.org

photo credit: www.cancer.org

Can We Talk About Breast For A Minute

Breast Cancer statistics are 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetime while 1 in 3 women are diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer.

Early detection through screening and increased awareness helps saves lives.

My family, friends, and myself discovered lumps in one or both of our breast during self exams. Early detection starts with self exams. Be familiar with your body so when something isn't quite right you will know.

My Story

I guess it's been about 7 or 8 years since I found a painful knot on the outer side of my left breast. The area was a little red, warm, and painful to touch.

I freaked out a little. 

Then a lot.

You see I didn't have health insurance. I was working paycheck to paycheck. I didn't have much money in savings........okay I didn't have more than the minimum allowed, that was my emergency fund. I was in an emergency crisis with no dollars to take care of it.

Compassionate Care 

What I did have was Planned Parenthood on my side.

I called to make an appointment. I remember I was so nervous to call. But that nervousness was eased with the compassionate person on the other end of the phone. She listened. She let me cry. Then in a very soft voice she said to me, "I understand how you can feel at this time, but please don't worry yourself our doctors are very good with this type of issue. You're in good hands."

I got control of my sobs and then brought up the fact that I didn't have insurance and I didn't know how I would ever be able to pay for all of the test and treatments if I needed any. Again, she reassured me not to worry  there was an excellent program for women diagnosed with breast issues that I would qualify for.

They got me in right away (which kinda made me nervous......were my symptoms something they could tell could be serious?).

On my appointment day I did my best to keep a positive attitude and not let the worry get the best of me. Wobbly legs and sweating pits I walked into that clinic to face the unknown.

From the moment I walked in the clinic door and signed in to the moment I walked out I received the most compassionate care I have ever received from any doctors office.

On that day I was assigned a health advocate to assist me with any and all things I needed during this time. She explained step by step what to expect. She did not rush me when I had questions she patiently answered every single one. I had her undivided attention. At that moment it was all about me and what I needed.

The Steps

  • Building a relationship with my health advocate
  • Meeting the doctor and building a relationship with her
  • Doctor performed Breast Screening
  • Recommended a Ultrasound of the Breast tissue
  • Schedule a Mammogram

I was able to have everything except the Mammogram done in that one visit. What a relief. But a mammogram, seriously. I'm barely in my forties, I thought I had years before I would need to do this.

I'm not gonna lie. I was scared shitless to have this mammogram done.

More Paperwork

But first I had to fill out the paperwork for the Women's Wellness Program to see if I would qualify. I returned the paperwork the next day and was notified within a couple of days of my acceptance into the program. Now I can breathe a little easier. But dang it.....a mammogram.

Again, I got nervous with all of the swiftness of getting me appointments, getting qualified and then more appointments.

I marched right into St John Hospital to get this mammogram thing done and out of the way. I'm gonna tell ya mammograms are not my most favorite thing to do in the world (to date I've had at least 10 or 11 of these babies, ugh). But well worth the few moments of discomfort. I'm using the word discomfort loosely here...... it's very awkward having a  stranger pull and tug on your breast then smash it flat like a pancake. And again, the technician was as gentle as she could be, explaining everything as she went, and helped keep the event as modest as she could. I am very grateful to her for that.

After all the test results were read I am happy to say I did not have Breast Cancer. I had cysts.....several of them bad dudes!!!  I was told I needed to come every six months for a mammogram and ultrasound to check the size of the cysts and if they were also growing in numbers.

For three years I went every six months for mammograms and ultrasounds. After two years the cysts were not growing in size or number. Yah!!!! Which meant I could start getting mammograms and ultrasounds once a year. Last year was the first year I was not required to have an ultra sound or go back in for more images. Happy Dance!!!!

I continue to perform monthly self exams and have yearly mammograms. I am fortunate to now have health insurance and have had for the last four years. But there are many women who do not have adequate insurance and the need for programs like the Women's Wellness Program continue to be desperately needed.

After receiving the best care during this scary time in my life I want nothing more than to be able to give back to Planned Parenthood.....as a thank you for all that they do for women. For the compassionate care they provide. For the opportunity to receive care when needed the most.

Giving Back

The Onyx Feather kicked off October with a Celebrate Life campaign to raise $$ that will be donated to Planned Parenthood. TOF is giving 30% of all Celebrate Life Bracelet sales towards this donation. Help make the Celebrate Life campaign make a difference for someone who is in need of their Breast Screening services.

TOF thanks you from the bottom of our heart for your support and for your compassion. Together we can make a difference. Let's CELEBRATE LIFE!!!