10/26/2008

Bring Color to Breast Cancer Patients



As a cancer survivor, I can look back at my experiences and see small things in the year of treatment that made a huge difference in me. That change impacted others around me, positively, as well. My goal is to one day, bearing this in mind, to run my own non-profit organization devoted to this aim. I would enjoy helping breast cancer patients have some small comforts that help aid them in feeling good about themselves.

I became known to my oncology center as The Scarves Lady. After purchasing two different wigs, I found the one thing in common they both had, they were horribly uncomfortable. When a wig is placed on a bald head, it is very itchy and does not stay in place well. Plus, when I looked in the mirror I felt like a kid playing dress up. It did not look like me or my hair. Each hair was perfectly in place which is not me!

So I decided I was going to wear scarves, go for comfort. Thus I became the cancer patient that had countless colorful scarves. I loved the color they brought to my world! As my face was losing its color, I added color to my bald head to offset the ill look I saw on my face. Family and friends were always excited to see what combination I came up with next. I tried to mix and match scarves to both coordinate perfectly with my outfits and also to offset my clothing to give a fashion statement.

This attitude helped me feel back in control of my life, of my appearance. I needed that as; I was going through that period where patients feel a loss of control and unattractive. I needed to do something to put me back in the driver’s seat. The scarves did it and attracted positive attention from others, even fellow chemo patients in the treatment room!

Thus my dream company would be to have funding and run an organization that would do this, give color to breast cancer women. I would love to be able to provide scarves I would have sewn from fabrics that I would pick out. It would be a small cozy place where women and their support system could sit, have a quiet cup of tea and be helped choosing which colors or patterns would look best on them.

This would be a place where women would not have the glare of others in a department store noticing their bald head when they pull off a scarf or wig and try on another. They would not be rushed either. If they came in, felt nauseated and needed a cup of ginger tea and to just sit for a few moments and relax, it would be accommodating. They could experiment with colors they do not normally wear and just enjoy the moment and take some control back into their lives in a safe supportive place. I might even entertain having a make up expert on hand to teach them how to apply make up. I also would like to be able to allow those that could not afford the purchase to get items for free, at least 2 or 3 from funding. It is a small ticket item that can potentially make a huge difference in someone’s attitude. The make up expert could help bring live back to their face and remind them cancer is but one small part of who they are and not the defining feature!

To do this, I need a philanthropist or corporate sponsors. A winning lotto ticket would do as well! This is my passion, helping other women that are going to follow this path. Cancer should not be the definer of who these women are, they all deserve someplace to go to be reminded their outer beauty can match their inner beauty. It would be something family members can bring their loved ones too or buy them a few to give them back the feeling of control of their live, of choices. Which scarf to wear was, at times in my treatment, the only choice I was able to make on my own and it was empowering. I want to impart that to others. I believe giving this empowerment back to these women would help them build strength to fight for a new day!

If you read this and are so inclined to do so, please pass this on to someone who can help me make this dream a reality. The numbers of breast cancer diagnoses are staggering so the number of women that could benefit from this is limitless. Perhaps, if one organization was started locally here, it could be a building block for many others. We are world of color; help me bring it to the breast cancer women that lose their spirit when they lose their hair.

10/21/2008

Look At Me Now!

I interviewed with a wonderful organization called The United Way of Williamson County in Franklin, Tennessee a few weeks ago. I was then offered the position of Marketing and Communications Specialist. This role reports to a wonderfully good natured woman named Cheryl Stewart, Marketing Manager. She would have to be good humored to work with me! And I gladly accepted.

My role is part-time but this allows me to get involved in understanding all the causes that this organization supports. Thus, I have been in the throws of the learning curve! I had no idea there were so many useful programs today that help all walks of life with the difficulties many face in today’s world. I am inspired more than ever that I can influence positive change. This role may be behind the scenes but allows me the opportunity to grow with the organization, learn the various programs the United Way funds and supports too. This is truly an honor to be allowed to impact, in any way, the efforts of this organization to make resources available to all and help create change.

Their motto says it all, Live United. We all must do that, personally and professionally. Recognition is the first step: we are all interdependent and must do our part to help our neighbors. We all share this land, share in the American dream. With a little bit of effort on our part, we can help others realizes their greater destiny. This organization thrives on accomplishing this end!

Please keep open minds the next time you hear of The United Way coming to your company or organization. They truly are full of caring folks in the office out to make a difference. Please know, behind the desk, trying to come up with the right words to motivate you to care is me, with the aid of my new chief Cheryl at the helm! With the awareness of needs in our community, the right words to stimulate your caring nature and your donations, United Way makes these dreams come true!

10/09/2008

Heroes In Heels



Once a year a wonderful program sponsored by the Cool Springs YMCA in Tennessee puts on a fashion show to benefit their program. The program is called The ABC’s of Cancer. This program is for cancer survivors and meets monthly to teach new information regarding cancer survivorship. The classes reinforce living a healthy lifestyle. Topics are picked based on interest of the group and applicable subject matter. These women are decreasing the odds of their cancer returning by taking charge of their health proactively. It is about a healthy lifestyle, mind, body and spirit.

The ABC Program is funded on donations. Thus, annually, they have a fashion show whereby cancer survivors get to be the models. This is the only fundraiser of the year for this program. Other organizations, companies or individuals donate all other monies to keep this program up and running.

This event, appropriately named, Heroes in Heels, is a day whereby women come together that have been poked and prodded in the past by the medical community to get pampered. Outfits are picked out that flatter their assets and show the latest in fashion trends. Prior to their walk down the runway, they are treated to a face make over to learn how to enhance their inner beauty.

The benefit of this night is not lost on those that attend. Each run way model is introduced and after hearing about their apparel and accessories, the audience is told how many years they have lived cancer free. Each model is applauded, before leaving the stage, with a smile befitting a woman that has conquered the odds and won!

This year’s night was held and sponsored by Belks in the Cool Springs Galleria. They pulled out all the stops, ending the evening with a tribute to the heroes lined up on stage for one final bow. Each model was given one pink rose and serenaded by a solo artist on stage. He sang an inspirational song to the women, as they stood together on stage. All 20 stars raised their rose to the sky as he sung the last chorus, in unison and without any prompting to salute life and survival of the spirit.

10/02/2008

Surgery Pro


You know you are surgery pro when you know the answers to all the questions before you are asked! This is a sure sign that you are no longer a novice at surgery protocol.

After having yesterday, an outpatient surgery, it was so apparent to me and all present that I am indeed a pro at this. I can literally continuing talking, with no break, when being pricked for starting an IV line. Infact, I frequently can point out the better veins to shoot for, making the nurse’s job so much easier. I have learned the trick to be successfully pricked, remain calm, do not tense up and do not ever let the nurse know you are anxious about it. It only serves to unnerve them and you want them calm.

The hospital gowns never change. Vera Wang is not waiting in the wings with the newest look for patient attire! Hence, each time, no matter where I have gone, the most commonality is the gown you are forced to wear. It is the most hideous looking gown, never fits you well and often times, does not feel comfortable against the skin. With as much as you pay to be at a hospital or surgery center, why can’t some of those profits go into a more contemporary gown?

Another sign of my expertise is my ability to know how to control the bed buttons and the TV controller! I am told many patients have to ask for instructions. I think they even have a manual you can read, something possibly called Controlling your hospital bed and TV remotely for Dummies.”

This is one of the few places in life that you go in looking so much better than you do when you walk back out. After a procedure or a hospital stay, you walk out like a zombie, deprived of needed sleep, hungry for real food they do not serve and dying for something besides ice chips or a Coke. I have made my husband literally stop at a drive in McDonalds just so I can have something not good for me. My body craves the indulgence of fast food!

The instructions you leave with are a standard for just about every procedure. It is ironic that they feel they need to point out the obvious on these instructions. Call us if you have a temperature, excessive bleeding or uncontrollable pain. Who in their right mind would not call when any of these things occur?

Sometimes I think it would be funny to call about the less obvious and ask something like “Is it ok for me to go an amusement park in less then 24 hours after my procedure and get some real thrills by riding roller coasters repeatedly? “ Yeah, I think I might do that sometime just to change the monotony of the procedure! For, at the end of the day, life is about taking chances.