Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Get That Mammo!

Yesterday, I received one of those Facebook messages requesting that I pass on to all my female friends a reminder that this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The message is aimed at reminding everyone to get a mammogram.

Well, rather than pass on a mass message of someone else's creating, let me give this a personal word from my own experience.  To cut to the chase, I am here today because I got a mammo in the middle of a normally hectic day in 2013.  Did I want to do it?  NO.  Having my boob squeezed in that cold, hard machine was just not high on my list of favorite things.  Besides, I'm busy.  Mammos take time.  And the available appointment time was just not convenient.  It was really cutting up my day.  Yada yada yada...what a pain!

But I went.  And I'm glad.  The ensuing months were not what I would ever choose to do.  From that day in 2013, I lost control of my life for awhile.  Anything I had planned flew out the window only to be replaced by surgery and chemo treatments.  The picture here was taken the June day after I sat in the chair of a sweet lady barber and had my hair buzzed off.  Being the vain creature I am, my first question to my oncologist was "Will I lose my hair?"  The answer was quick and no-nonsense..."Yes."  Since I knew she had done this very thing herself, I knew she appreciated my feelings.  

There are those who say mammograms are not worth the time because they don't tell the whole story...if you do your own breast checks and see your doctor once a year you'll be okay.  I'm telling you that if I had waited until I felt something, I would not be here to write this today.  Get the mammo.  Right now, it's the best we've got for early detection.  With what my doctors saw on the mammo, we moved on to further tests and pinpointed the enemy.  And it was game on from there!  

So pass on those reminders on Facebook.  Do whatever you are led to do for yourself and your friends.  Just remember what this friend is telling you:


Monday, September 18, 2017

You Can't Run Away From the Storm

When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete.  Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the "northeaster," swept down from the island.  The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along....We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard....When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
- Acts 27: 13-15, 18, 20 NIV

The Apostle Paul was being taken to Rome for trial before Caesar.  Before they knew it, the storm was upon them and they could do nothing but ride with it.  They saw no sun or stars for many days...had nothing to guide them or give them any point of reference for life.  They thought they were doomed to death.  They couldn't get away from the raging wind.

In Paul's day, they had no means of forecasting a storm.  Two weeks ago, our media began the alerts which became more and more serious with each one.  Hurricane Irma was huge and it was powerful.  And it was headed straight for Florida.  We had just seen Hurricane Harvey devastate the east coast of Texas and our fears for our safety grew with every advisory.  Ed and I began to seriously discuss evacuating as we prepared our house for the blow.  Our concern was not only for ourselves but for his mother.  At 93 with congestive heart failure, Mom did not need the stress of riding out a hurricane that could eventually have us treading water in the living room.  While we had always stayed home, this time we needed to GO.

Irma was due to come ashore sometime Sunday.  Thursday morning we were in our car with Mom by 9 a.m.  Knowing that every interstate would be a bumper to bumper rolling parking lot, I had mapped out a route of good alternate roads that would get us to Georgia.  With difficulty, I had found rooms for one night in Albany, GA.  From then on, everything was booked well into the next week.  All day, we worked our way north and west because we thought that would take us away from the path of the storm.  The forecasters were guessing it would come up the east coast of Florida.  It didn't.  As it turned out, we were running ahead of it.  We arrived in Albany at 10 p.m. after spending the day on roads where gas stations had no gas and the ones that did were swamped with hungry vehicles and desperate people.  I can't even imagine what it was like on the interstates.  There are so many stories to tell and they will be told some other time.  Suffice it to say, nerves were tense and bodies were getting more and more fatigued as the day ground on into night.

And the storm was coming on, like a great monster, and changing its course with every new bit of news.  Friday's ride was more pleasant because we stayed on the west side of Georgia even though that was a long way around to get to our destination.  We were heading for our daughter's home in Tennessee.  We spent the next week there, watching the Weather Channel and checking Facebook for news from home.

The lesson is this...even though we were out of the brunt of the wind and rain, we were still tied to the storm.  It held us, like a terrorist holding a hostage.  When could we get out of this mess?  Would there be anything left once we broke loose and got back to the base of our life?  Our trip home a week later was less frantic and yet exhausting because we pushed hard to get back to our familiar surroundings.

Whatever the storm...whether it is a real live hurricane or something grinding away in life on a personal level...there is the bad blow and then there is the aftermath.  And wherever you are, you have to deal with it.  You can't get away from it.

Our Florida hometown is a very green little city.  We have one set of tall buildings on our beach but everywhere else the town is full of trees and lovely landscaping.  Right now, much of that is debris lying in piles along the streets and turning more and more brown every day.  The aftermath...the consequences...the stuff that's left to deal with once the storm has torn it all loose from its roots.

Hurricane Irma taught us that leaving is just as hard as staying.  The night we got home, I told my brother that if I ever evacuate again it will be to Maui.  As I lay in my own bed - thankfully! - later that night, I thought "That's not far enough."  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Go Through Update

TP and Regina Kennedy

My last post spoke of my niece,  Regina Kennedy, wife of my nephew, TP Kennedy.  Today, after an encouraging consultation with a doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Regina shared her thoughts in a Facebook post.  This is part of what she wants us to know about this journey she and her family are on.

So, what do you do when you're diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer at the age of 38? You have your share of ugly cries and then you decide to put your big girl pants on so that you can fight. You don't ask the doctors how much time you have because you're here on God's time and he says when it's time to go... you wake up each morning and think, "I have today" and then praise God that it is so. You pray fervently for healing, the right treatment, that you will live long enough to see your babies leave the house, and to celebrate many more years of marriage to the incredible man who walks by your side. You research as many alternative therapies as you can to use in conjunction with conventional treatments. You ask God to not let this diagnosis be in vain but use it as an opportunity to help others. You begin to wonder and then ask God what you can do for Him with the card you've been dealt. You give thanks and praise and believe that come what may, He's with you every step of the way and because of that you will have victory. If you really trust in Him, you find that you have peace in your heart because it is well with your soul. You choose to fight the hardest fight because you don't really believe it's time to leave your family and friends and that you have not fulfilled your purpose. You praise God, focus on your family and continue on.

To all of you, squeeze your family and friends and hold them tight. Forgive where forgiveness needs to take place and live your life to the fullest. Most importantly, spread love. When you see me out and about, please be sure to say hello! Love to you all. -regina

Regina and TP are facing monumental expenses as they enter the world of cancer treatment.  Their friends have created a trust for those who wish to help.  Checks can be made to:
"The 2017 Regina Gray Kennedy Support Trust" and mailed to

"The 2017 Regina Gray Kennedy Support Trust"
Gould Cooksey Fennell
c/o Dillon L. Roberts, Trustee
979 Beachland Blvd.
Vero Beach, FL 32963

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Go Through

The past few months in my extended family have been difficult.  While we have experienced some special happy times, we have also shared a serious health concern for my brother and the passing of a dear family member, my sister-in-law's mother.  The thunderbolt came in the midst of the others when my nephew's wife, a seemingly strong and healthy 38-year-old mother of four children was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  From the moment we heard the news, it has become the focus of our prayers and concern.  She faces grueling treatments.

"I'm so sorry you have to go through this," I heard myself saying.  Isn't that one of the things we say in situations like this?  As I said it and heard the same sentiment from others, two key words came to the center of my attention.


We all get bad news.  We all have sadness, challenges, sickness, scary diagnoses.  We go through.

That is the simple truth of what we do when the storms surround us.  We hurt, we grieve, we cry...but we lean into the wind and rain of pain and distress.  If we have an established faith, we get the real test of we trust it?  Will it be our mainstay as we go through the darkest hours?

But you are a shield around me, O Lord;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
-Psalm 3: 3 NIV