Lessons From City Slickers

As a cancer survivor of 10 years, I can say it changed my life in a positive way. It’s like I get a “do-over” and I feel very liberated. My faith is stronger, I don’t sweat the small stuff, I am in tune to what is really important in my life……..AND………I no longer dread the coming birthdays and growing older. I CELEBRATE every line on my face and every year that I can enjoy life. I moved on to my SECOND ACT.

I’m sure you all have been in the doctor’s office waiting for your mammogram and noticed the pamphlets, on the side table, reminding us women to do self breast examinations as frequently as possible and to look for unusual signs. Well, I for one, looked at them but didn’t think it would ever apply to me. I was as healthy, worked out, and didn’t have cancer in my family. This is my story: In April 2007, I was taking off my shirt in front of the mirror and noticed a small dimple by my center breast bone. I pushed on it and felt a pea-sized lump. At that moment, those pamphlets that I had been looking at for all those years came to the front of my mind. I knew I had a problem. (I had just had a mammogram the previous November) I called my GYN and he said to make an appointment and not to be concerned because my risk was very low for cancer and it was probably just a cyst. I said “Let’s cut out the middle man and I want to go right now to the Vanderbilt Breast Center”. I went and I did have stage one, aggressive triple negative breast cancer. Had I waited until my next mammogram, my story would be have been VERY different. My two girls were in middle and high school at the time. I believe they were the reason I stayed positive and focused. Everyone is wired differently and handles devastating news in their own way. I sometimes handle it with humor. I had a lumpectomy, but my gut was telling me that it wasn’t enough. I declined radiation because of the position of the tumor, close proximately to my heart. My family has a history of heart disease and I felt that it would result in complications in the future. Approximately 2 months after having the lumpectomy, I decided a double mastectomy was the best course of action for me. This decision was against my doctors recommendation. But I insisted and they were able to work with the insurance company to cover the procedure. I told my girls that their mama was going to get a new set of “sisters”…….what women my age would pay the big bucks for. When it came time to make the decision to have chemo, I told my girls that the surgery probably took care of the cancer, but I just wanted to make sure to “clean house”. I told them I would loose my hair, but I was thinking of going for a new look anyway. I went through chemo and I must say I thought I sported the bald head very well. I didn’t have to worry about having a bad hair day. One thing I have learned about this entire process, from the time I was diagnosed with cancer, enduring chemo, and the multiple surgeries is that a women must take control of her life and be EMPOWERED. Don’t let doctors tell you how you should feel and what is best for you based on their studies of the masses. Be EDUCATED. I don’t regret any of the decisions I have made because it was MY decision, not someone making it for me. If your gut is telling you something other than what the doctors are telling you, go with that feeling. There is a reason why women have an incredible inherent gut feeling. I personally feel that it’s the Holly Spirit nudging me. If I didn’t go with my gut and took my doctor’s opinion that I didn’t fit the profile, it could have ended in a deadly mistake.

Now that I have a do-over, my life priorities have changed. Do you remember the movie City Slickers? When cowboy Curly said there was only one thing that is the key to a happy life, Billy Crystal continuously asked Curly what is it was and Curly wouldn’t tell him. At the end of the movie, Billy Crystal finally figured it out. that “one” is different for everyone. It’s up to each individual to discover what the key to happiness is.

Mine was realizing that working 24/7 and defining life by a paycheck is not important to me. What’s important is making a difference in my life, my family’s life, and in the community. I invest and lease real-estate and I recently was appointed as a member of the Williamson County School Board. I do what it takes to wake up every morning energized and ready for the day.

Having going through the challenges and emotional battles of cancer, I truly believe that I would have been even more devastated when my husband left me for another woman. I remember thinking when he made this decision……..his actions don’t hold a candle to what I have been through with cancer. I truly believe the Lord was with me every step of the way.

Every day is a new day……….Make the best of it.