My view from the empty nest: Some thoughts on back-to-school

It’s once again back-to-school time. This is my second year of not having any kids in public school as my kids are all big now. I’m still getting used to not having to be tied down to the school calendar, but it’s a nice feeling! I must say I don’t miss the whole back-to-school excitement at all. It was fun all those years when my kids were in school, and that was 18 years for me. That was a plenty! That being said, I guess this time of year makes me feel a little nostalgic and reflective about those school years.

I spent 5 of those 18 years working in a public elementary school, so I also have some “inside” experience. I have seen life as a parent and as a teaching assistant, and I’ve experienced the challenges and frustrations on both sides.

I haven’t been the perfect parent, and by no means do I have all the answers, but I do think I gleaned a little bit of wisdom over the years that stands out now that I can look back and reflect on. So as I reflect on this back-to-school time, some of this comes to mind.

I learned early on not to pay too much attention to other parents’ opinions of certain teachers. Mamas tend to get all in a huff about what teacher their child is going to get, and we all want our child to get a teacher who is a good fit for that particular child. But I learned early on that mamas can get all in a tizzy about teachers and are quick to call certain ones “hard,” or “mean,” etc. We all know those teachers who have those reputations, and we all know some mamas who do the talking that get those teachers those reputations. I figured out early on that some of those “hard” or “mean” teachers were pretty good teachers, and sometimes my kid needed a teacher like that. A lot of times those teachers were the no-nonsense types. They didn’t do a lot of fawning over parents, but more often than not they knew their stuff and just had really good control of their classrooms, which is a trait I can appreciate. I remember a certain preschool teacher one of my children had, who would just come right out and tell parents at orientation not to deliver their child to the door of the classroom because she wanted to be able to greet each child herself, and she did not want to feel like she had to stop and talk to parents during that time first thing in the morning. She pretty much just came right out and said she didn’t want to talk to us in the morning! My child was 3 years old at the time, so at that age parents were still wanting to walk their child in. I appreciated her just being honest about this and blunt about the fact that she didn’t want us doing that and why she didn’t want us doing that. Some of the mamas got mad because they didn’t appreciate being told this so bluntly. I appreciated the teacher’s honesty. I can always deal with honest. This teacher had a reputation for being “mean,” but she was one of my favorite teachers. So I was glad to learn the lesson in preschool not to listen to the other moms’ opinions. I need to be open minded, form my own opinion, and not be influenced by the other parents.

So many times parents expect teachers to be the loving, nurturing, hugging type of personality, and if they’re not this nurturing type they can get labeled “mean.” But it’s not really a teacher’s job to be the nurturer / hugger type. Some teachers have this nature, and that can be great, but it’s not their job to do that. That’s a parent’s job to do the hugging and the nurturing. And teachers who don’t have this type of personality can still be great teachers.

Teachers are just ordinary people. They have good and bad days. If my child or I was having difficulty with a certain teacher, I tried to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. I tried to look at things from their perspective. Teachers are dealing with 20+ students and sets of parents. Parents are dealing with just a few teachers. I always tried to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt and cut them some slack even when I did not always agree with them. I remember one incident in particular where a certain teacher seemed to not like my kid. He wasn’t really the type that teachers did not like, but this particular teacher seemed to have a problem with him. One time she sent him to ISS for “looking at her wrong.” I thought that was kind of excessive, but hey, I figured it wouldn’t kill the kid to sit in ISS for a little while. I had him apologize to her, and I told him he had better to do whatever that teacher asked. He only had to put up with her for that school year, but for the rest of the year if she said “jump” he better jump. It was a bumpy road that year, but I figured he was learning a good lesson about dealing with people. One day he is going to have a boss or a coworker who is going to be difficult to work with. Sometimes you have to learn to “get along” and take some crap. In general, I learned not to take situations like this so seriously. I made sure he did his part to make it right with the teacher, and I did my job to support her at home. As it turned out, once she realized I was going to back her up like I did, she really got kind of sheepish about her overreaction, realizing maybe she overdid it? Anyway, I think it’s important not to take things so seriously all the time if your child has some isolated incidents. If it’s a regular thing, that’s different and probably needs more attention. But as a teaching assistant I saw so many parents overreact when their kid got into a little bit of trouble at school. If your kid is perfect all the time, believe me, you are going to have some problems when they finally do something that’s not perfect and freak out about it. It’s okay if they’re not perfect.

When I was a teaching assistant, I was always surprised when parents would act like we were out to get their kid. I mean, really? I really don’t think teachers are out to get my kid at school. Sometimes certain teachers and certain students may not click, as in the above story, but if my child got in trouble at school I figured he or she did something to get there. Blaming the teacher for my child’s behavior just really did not occur to me. But it sure seems to occur to a lot of other parents!

Kids are not perfect, even the ones who make straight As and take all AP classes. In fact, I have seen many of those “perfect” kids crack  because they put so much pressure on themselves to be so perfect all the time. Or perhaps their parents at home are applying the pressure to be perfect. Sadly, I think too many parents are comparing their kids to others down the street and get competitive. We saw this even when I worked in kindergarten when some parents would get anxious over the fact that their kid was not reading when some other little kid across the street was reading in kindergarten. Again, more competition going on between parents without regard to the fact that all kids are different and develop at different rates.

Don’t be afraid to let your kid fail and take the consequences. They learn a lot from these experiences, and if you always protect them it will take a lot longer for them to learn the lesson. I remember when my oldest child first went to public school in first grade. She would forget her library book, and I guess she would call me from the school office (can’t believe they let her do that, but that was a long time ago), and I would bring the library book to school. After doing this a couple of times, I had to tell her, no, I wasn’t bringing the library book. Well, with her being the first child and having that oldest child perfectionist thing going on, she about freaked out. But I had to let her freak out. She needed to learn that it’s not the end of the world to forget your library book. Nobody’s perfect. When you forget something or don’t do something right, you deal with the consequences and do what you can to fix it later and not repeat the situation. Important lesson learned that is not learned if I keep bringing the library book to school!

All this seems like common sense, but I still think these are some good basic things to think about and consider as we begin the new school year.

This writing thing is hard……

Once again, I haven’t posted anything in a while.

I have this desire to write, and I have so many thoughts in my head that I want to write about, but somehow getting those thoughts organized and on paper is, well, hard.

I feel like I should set aside some time devoted to just writing, but I’m having a hard time fitting that in along with work, running, family time, miscellaneous chores, etc. A dilemma for all writers, I’m sure. Or anyone who is trying to find time for something creative in their life.

Writing also scares me because I’m afraid to put my thoughts down on paper and make them so concrete. But if I don’t write them down, the thoughts come and go and go away. I need to write when the inspiration hits.

Several months back I read a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (see Liz’s website here)The book really resonated with me. I have never ever considered myself a “creative” person as I’ve always been way more black/white, cut and dry. I was always the person who was good at making the plan happen but wasn’t so good at coming up with the plan. I never considered myself the idea person, but I could make somebody else’s idea happen. When my children were young, I spent a lot of time sewing. I taught myself to sew, and I made these gorgeous children’s clothes that were smocked, embroidered, and appliqued. But even then I did not consider myself “creative.” I usually just used someone else’s designs and patterns, and I could make them happen, but I rarely came up with any sewing ideas of my own.

Liz Gilbert has made me rethink this somewhat in her book. I think because what I want to write about is nonfiction, I didn’t consider that “creative.” For some reason writing fiction seemed like a creative process to me but not writing nonfiction. Liz has made me think about this differently.

I also recently discovered Liz’s podcast Magic Lessons. It’s really good and has inspired me to find time to write and deal with the fear I have about writing.

I find that my courage about writing waxes and wanes a lot. Back when I was going through my cancer adventure, I had a lot of courage. I had just gone through cancer, heck, what was I afraid of with a little bit of writing? Now that life is more normal, I’m not so brave.

Liz says that whatever your creative process is, it’s worth doing just for yourself, no matter whether anyone else ever sees it or reads it. So any writing I do is for my benefit, and I need to find time to do it. Whether I decide to let anyone else read it or not, well that’s beside the point and can be decided later. But the writing needs to be done regardless, for me.

One reason I find that I want to write is that I get so tired of how “surfacey” everyday life is. People ask each other, “How are you?” Our immediate reaction is to say, “Fine.” I get tired of saying, “Fine,” because a lot of times I’m not really fine, but everyday conversation with people I barely know is not the place for conversation of any depth really. My friend, Deb, and I have been having some conversations about this, and she shared with me this video of Beth Moore (click here to view) and her take on the “fine” thing. Beth is pretty much spot on here.

And even my good friends get tired of hearing about all my baggage, I’m sure, although they are good listeners and great friends. I seem to feel guilty when I burden them with my stuff. So writing just gives me another outlet for some of the baggage.

Writing and putting my thoughts out there for others to read can be a pretty scary thing. But I find when I do this, a lot of times what I say resonates with someone out there, and I like connecting with kindred spirits.

I’ve spent the last couple of days alone in a little cabin in the woods, and I spent a little time writing while I was here. It was great and refreshing and worthwhile to spend time on. One of the benefits to getting older and being in my 50s and being done (if you’re ever really done) with raising my kids is that I can spend more time on me and spend more time doing things that are important to me personally. Not that raising my kids wasn’t important to me, but you know what I mean.

So as I return home, I hope I can commit more time to writing and putting my thoughts to paper, and I hope to share more things through this blog. Thanks for coming along on the journey with me.

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My office for the last few days.

Big milestone weekend…..

Two years ago on July 12, 2014, I ran Grandfather Mountain Marathon for the 4th time. I had a wonderful weekend with my running friends at the race and the post-race festivities. I stayed with my friend Paige at her wonderful mountain house for the weekend, and Don and I hiked Snake Mountain the day after the marathon.

I had spent the previous 6 months running a bunch of marathons and 50Ks, 7 in all since the first of the year. I was having a lot of fun and felt really strong and healthy.

The week after GMM I had a mammogram scheduled. A few days later I had a biopsy, and 2 days after that they called me to tell me I had breast cancer.

My life then came to a complete stop for about 16 months while I went through surgeries, chemotherapy, and more drug therapy. I had surgery and recovered. Had 2 more surgeries and recovered. Went through 4 months of chemo, all my hair fell out, and got progressively weaker and weaker and recovered again. Had another surgery and recovered again. Then I had to complete 6 more months of IV drug therapy.

This past weekend I went back to Grandfather to run the marathon once again. Since it was the last marathon I ran before my cancer diagnosis, I thought it was fitting that I should make it the first one I ran now that the cancer craziness has settled down and I’ve been able to run enough miles to make training for a marathon possible again.

I’ve been running a good many total miles in recent months but not very many long runs. My body does not seem to do those as easily as it used to, and quite frankly they’re just not as much fun as they used to be. I did manage to get in a couple of 18- to 20-mile runs, and each one had a lot of climbing, so I figured I was minimally prepared for the marathon. At least to finish in survival mode.

It was tough, and I was pretty wrung out the last 6 miles or so, but I finished my 5th Grandfather Mountain Marathon in 4:44 and some change. It was by far my slowest GMM ever, but I was glad to conquer the mountain and finish once again. This finish makes 37 total marathons/ultras that I have completed.

That makes 5 GMMs for me. I thought maybe I might hang up the hat after this one since the training was no fun. But I had so much fun at the race I feel sure I will return next year, God willing, for the 50th running of the Grandfather Mountain Marathon. I’m sure there will be some special activities of some sort to commemorate the 50 years, and I wouldn’t miss that for anything. It’s my favorite marathon of all the ones I’ve run, and I’ve run it more times than any other marathon. I love the challenge of the mountains, the beauty of the course, the laid-back atmosphere, the small field, the ease of parking and logistics before the race at the ASU track, all my friends who run the race year after year, and just all the other people that this race attracts. It tends to draw a different kind of runner, as you can imagine, and I dig the crowd.

I don’t think I will ever get back to running as many marathons/ultras as I was before my cancer adventure, but I think I enjoy the challenge enough that I will probably run 1 or 2 a year anyway. At least as long as I am physically able and I enjoy it. If it stops being fun, then I’ll move on to something new! There are always new things to do.

For now I thank God for a body that is healthy enough to run and enjoy being active. A healthy body is a huge blessing never to be taken for granted.

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What happened to the strong bald lady?

It’s July and almost 2 years since my cancer diagnosis. I look back to a year ago and think I was probably doing better then than I am now. This damn cancer has made me one of the walking wounded.

Physically I am doing well. I am sleeping well and eating well. All my blood work is normal. I am still running a lot, probably just as many total miles as I was before cancer. I just can’t run as fast or as far as I used to. My body just can’t do what it could do before. I’m sure getting older has a part in it, but I think probably all the cancer treatment has just affected me. For the most part I don’t let this bother me too much. But every once in a while I get a little angry that cancer robbed that from me.

We’ve had an awful lot of challenges in our family over the last year, and I haven’t handled it all that well. I think I handled all the cancer stuff better because it was just happening to me. About the only thing I had control over was my reaction to it, and I kept that under control pretty well because I don’t think I would have made it if I hadn’t stayed strong. I had to stay strong for myself and my family, so I did.

Now I find I am pretty much a weenie when it comes to any challenge whatsoever.  I crumble at the slightest hardship. What happened to the strong bald lady?

Someone mentioned to me that cancer survivors can be victims of PTSD. At first I brushed that off. But the more I think of it, perhaps there is an element of PTSD to my reaction. I certainly don’t want to compare my experience with someone who has serious PTSD, but I think I see some elements of it.

I’m still having a lot of issues with side effects from the tamoxifen I am on. I wish I could talk freely about them because I think there are many women out there suffering in silence with these same issues I am having. Perhaps if we brought them to light and talked about them openly, these issues could get some attention and we could get some help for them. I’m too embarrassed to talk about them. So I join all the others suffering in silence.

I recently saw both my PCP and my oncologist. I talked with them about these side effects. Neither of them were very sympathetic. They have pretty much told me I need to be on this medication and there’s not much they can do to help me with the side effects. I lamented to one of them something like, damn cancer, it’s taken many things away from me. She said to me, “Yes, but they got you all fixed up. It’s a small price to pay.”

I wanted to say, hey, wait a minute, I’ve paid a lot of prices. I think it was a pretty big price. Yes, I’m alive. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for all the treatment I’ve been able to receive. That doesn’t stop me from wishing I could be the way I was before. And I think I’m entitled to mourn that a little.

It’s been a couple of weeks, and I’m still angry about that “small price to pay” comment. I’m trying to take my own advice and cut her some slack. People don’t realize some of the things they say and how they sound. But man, that comment pissed me off.

I keep writing in this blog because I find that it helps me to be honest about the struggles I’m having. I get a little tired of going around pretending like everything’s okay. So this gives me an outlet to express these things without burdening people. I figure only the ones who want to hear about it will read, and those who don’t won’t read, so I’m not burdening anyone with my problems. I thank my close friends who are good listeners and let me confide in them.

Thanks for reading, friends. 🙂

Warning…….whining ahead…

I wish I could say life has been pretty normal around here. I haven’t had to go to the cancer doctor, or any other doctor for that matter, other than a trip to the ophthalmologist, so that’s been a huge relief.

But life just keeps on coming. Seems like as soon as one problem is over another one comes along. Or better yet, they overlap.

I remember writing in a previous blog that any day I didn’t have to go to the hospital or the chemo clinic was a pretty good day.

I guess it’s not quite as simple as that.

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with life and all its challenges lately. I find I don’t have much to say in this blog because most of what wants to come out of my mouth, or my keyboard, is whining. And I don’t like sounding whiny. I know I have a lot to be grateful for, and I have wonderful people in my life. So this overwhelming desire I have to be whiny just feels so indulgent and selfish.

At the same time, I want to be real. Life is not easy. Sometimes things are hard. And I want to be honest about my feelings.

I was reminded recently by a young friend that a lot of people struggle with life and its challenges. I am not alone in this. My young friend wrote an extremely candid blog post about her struggle with anxiety and depression since her teenage years. (You can read her blog post here.) She reminded me that speaking out about our struggles resonates with others who have similar challenges. This allows us to realize we are not alone and also to seek support.

So with her influence, I am speaking out.

Life is not fun sometimes.

It seems the older I get, the more complicated life gets. When I was younger, I thought life would get simpler. Nope.

I am kind of tired of being so stressed out that daily functioning is difficult sometimes. I felt this way back when I was going through my surgeries. Once the surgeries were done, I felt somewhat better because at least I knew what to expect and what was going to happen. I knew I had to go through chemo. I knew I had to go through a whole year of Herceptin infusions. I knew I just had to put my head down and get through it. Just generally knowing what to expect helps.

When I have to deal with a lot of unknowns, I get stressed out. When I don’t know what is going to happen, I get worked up. When I don’t see resolution in sight, I start to panic. I find myself in this situation frequently nowadays.

The only thing I know to do is to get my Bible out, read, and pray. I get comfort from this. But I am still afraid. I know I’m not supposed to be afraid, but I am. I’m supposed to trust God. But I’m having a hard time with it.

I’m pissed off because I’m on this medication that has given me a lot of side effects that I have to deal with. It affects my hormones, and I have to believe this is contributing to my overall irritability and emotions. I just want to quit taking the crap, but that would be against medical advice, and I don’t feel comfortable with that.

The other ways I deal with the stress is to run a whole lot and read a whole lot. I am doing a lot of both of these things. I praise the Lord that my body can run because it is such a huge blessing. A friend of mine who is even more of a running fanatic than me was recently told he cannot run at all due to a medical condition. I’ve had my share of “medical conditions,” but at least I can run. Thank you, God.

I am reading a ton, and it is such good therapy for me. It’s a relief to be able to immerse myself in another world for a few minutes or hours and forget all that I have going on.

I think another thing I have in play here is that before my cancer diagnosis I was a pretty optimistic person. In fact, I had no idea just how optimistic I was until I went through that. The whole time I was being followed by radiology for my suspicious mammograms, I didn’t really worry about it much at all. The radiologist told me he thought it was okay, and I believed him. I went back to living life and really didn’t dwell on it too much. Me get cancer? Nah, not me.

I was wrong.

I now realize that yes, I can get cancer. Yes, bad stuff can happen. I don’t know why I didn’t think it would happen to me. But it can and does and just might.

So I have to learn to deal with this life stress. The older I get the more complicated life becomes, so I guess I better get used to it. In the meantime, until I figure out a better way, I will run, read, read my Bible, and pray.

Hanging on to my bravery…..

I haven’t written anything in quite a while.

I’m afraid that my nerve may be going away a little bit.

Now that all my treatment is over, life is a lot more normal, and I’m finding myself returning to the old mindset.

There are certain aspects of living with a medical crisis of sorts that made me live life in a different way and in a way that I wish I could hold on to.

It made me brave. I didn’t really care what others thought about me. I had WAY too many bigger things to worry about.

It made me realize that my thoughts and feelings are valid, whatever they might be. I’m not always right about everything, and I don’t know everything. But I am entitled to my thoughts and feelings. If others don’t like them, I can’t really worry about that. I have to be true to me. And my thoughts and feelings are just as valid as anybody else’s.

It made me realize that if somebody doesn’t like my opinions, thoughts, or feelings or agree with them, that’s okay. No need to get all mad or upset. It’s okay to agree to disagree. And still be friends.

It made me realize that I really can’t waste time on things I have no control over. I can help with what I can do, but I have to let the rest go. And it really doesn’t make sense to worry about things that “might” happen but probably won’t. There will be plenty of time for worrying about it when and if it actually happens.

It made me realize that many people out there are hurting and suffering from all kinds of different things. I don’t know what’s going on with other people a lot of the time. So I should show them the same grace that God has shown me.

I am hanging on to a lot of these “realizations,” but I find that maybe I am not as brave to talk about them as I was before. I want to keep talking about them because I find when I am honest about my thoughts and ideas something about that resonates with other people. There’s almost always a kindred spirit or two out there who will reach out to me about something I’ve written that spoke to them.

There’s so much fake stuff in this world. People trying to put up some facade of being some certain way or having the perfect life or doing all the great stuff. Facebook can sometimes be a contest to see who has the best and most perfect life.

I have a great life but it’s not perfect. I think about a lot of things on a deeper level than I ever used to. I find when I share these things with others, we connect.

I have a lot of ideas for things to write about. I just need to keep the “brave” thing going and write about them.

Thanks for listening, friends. 🙂

My Oscar acceptance speech……

When I reflect back on everything that I’ve been through in the last year and a half, I am so grateful for all my family and friends who have helped and supported me. There are many whose support has been important to me and who went way above and beyond to help me. So many people brought me meals during chemo, and some of you brought me MANY meals. I had a few people bring me meals whom I had not even met before, but they heard about me and wanted to help out. So many of you sent e-mails and texts to encourage me. I got gifts like hats in the mail for my bald head. I got Edible Arrangements. I got flowers. I got a bunch of stuff! People prayed for me. There are many others of you who helped me, and I am grateful for your friendship. I am blessed.

I have to thank my family, who took great care of me and supported me through everything. Craig and Mom went to all my surgeries, waited for me, and took me home after. Craig made sure I ate, changed my bandages, helped me get a bath, and fetched stuff for me when I was lying on the sofa. Mom stayed with me after surgeries, cooked meals for us, did laundry, and came and stayed with me during chemo when Craig had to travel for work. Craig, Drew, and Jackson went to chemo with me. Kelsey sent me flowers, messages, and texts, which is a good thing because the boys aren’t too good at sending messages. My extended family sent cards and messages and visited. Thank you to my beautiful family. I love you guys so much.

Thank you to my Three Musketeers, Deb, Don, and Paige, my best friends. Deb, Don, and Beth were always bringing stuff over, food, flowers, gifts, meals. Deb and Don both ran or walked with me during treatment, always going at my pace, just to keep me company and spend time with me. Paige organized all the meals that people brought to the house, and she hosted me at her beautiful mountain home several times for relaxing weekend getaways. This was good time for me to get refreshed after going through everything. All three of these friends went to chemo with me. Thank you so much, guys, for taking care of me and being my friends. I love you guys.

Thanks to all the folks on my text update list. Thanks for caring enough to ask to be on the list, for wanting to know what was going on with me, and for praying for me.

My friend, Aprille, also brought many meals and let Craig and I enjoy her beautiful cabin at Leatherwood for a weekend during my chemo treatment. Thanks for being my friend, Aprille.

Thanks to Fredda for the many bouquets of flowers, your many texts and visits to the house, and the food. When something challenging happens for me, you always reach out and make me know that you care. And I know you do this for many in our community. Thanks for being my friend.

Thanks to the Rock Hill Striders – Luanne and Avery, Angie and Seth, Earl and Bonnie, Ed and Blair, Scott and Mary Ann, Hope and Jose, Erica and Todd, Jay and Leah, Don and Beth, Dan, Geary, Jeff, Ed, Katie, and Jennifer. You guys brought many meals and supported me with your positive words and inquiries about me. Luanne was always bringing me my favorite things from Panera, and she cooked us many fabulous meals including a particularly memorable roasted prime rib that was delicious! Angie brought me too many meals to count and was always texting me with positive words. I also could talk to her about my medical issues and get her advice and ideas. Thanks for listening, Angie. Ed Moore even missed his evening run one day to bring me a meal with Blair. I know what a sacrifice that was. 🙂 Mary Ann brought snacks to the hospital for every surgery so Craig and Mom wouldn’t be hungry while waiting. Everybody else brought meals and always asked how I was. Don, Angie, and Ed Kelly ran or walked with me on many a Sunday, sacrificing their own run to go at my pace. Thanks for being our second family, guys.

Thanks to my mountain running buddies for being my friends and for the gifts and messages. Thanks for treating me to a fun weekend at Black Mountain during my chemo treatment! Thanks Dennis, Lou, Doug, Martha, Beth, Beth, Phyllis, Don, Ed, and Alan.

Thank you to the many, many people in my community who brought meals for me after my surgeries and during chemo. This was so helpful for us. We were able to freeze many leftovers and, therefore, had even more meals to pull out for later. Many of you did not even know me beforehand, but you brought a meal to me, a stranger. Thank you. Thanks to my dear friend, Paige, for organizing all the meals. Thanks to my neighbors, especially Butch and Lisa Cowart and Ken and Lyn Evans, who brought meals, snacks, and took care of Carolina for us when we needed help.

Thanks to Fort Mill Fast Feet. I am not a member of your group, but many of you reached out to me and ministered to me with meals and words of encouragement. There were a few of you who did not even know me before this, but you reached out to me anyway. I thank you for your support and cherish the new friendships I’ve made.

I received many, many cards from people, and I thank everyone who sent them. They were always encouraging to me. I have to single out Mrs. Nettie Sibley from Fairfax who sent me more cards than I can count. For a while there I think I was receiving at least one card a week from Mrs. Nettie. Thank you, Mrs. Nettie.

I thank the people of Fairfax First Baptist Church and the people of Unity Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill for the cards and prayers. Your support meant a lot to me.

I’ve had excellent medical care, and I’ve had a lot of wonderful nurses and doctors who took care of me through everything. When you’re going through something like this, it is so comforting when people in the medical community treat you like more than just another patient. I know this must be hard for them as they see so many people with all kinds of problems. But I had a few medical providers who really showed their concern and care for me, and this really meant a lot to me. I have to single out my surgeon, Dr Corey Crain, who took such excellent care of me. He spent so much time with me in his office going over everything, explaining things to me, drawing me diagrams, etc. He would ask me how I was doing emotionally and how Craig was handling things (not many of the medical people ask this or even want to know). He called me personally on the phone many, many times to talk with me about the decisions we had to make. He did not delegate this to someone else. He called me personally. When he said he was going to call, he did. I didn’t do any waiting around because I was forgotten, like was my experience with some other providers. He welcomed me getting a second opinion if I felt that was necessary, and he called and consulted with other doctors about my case and then passed that information on to me in a timely manner, pretty much immediately. Dr Crain will always be special to me. There was also a nurse anesthetist at Piedmont who took special care of me. Before my mastectomy the nurses had difficulty getting my IV in. After a couple of attempts they quickly called in the “posse,” and I had several medical personnel around my bed that morning trying to get my IV in as painlessly as possible. This nurse anesthetist took charge of the situation and supervised getting the job done. I had to spend the night in the hospital that night, and she visited me the next morning, a Saturday, just to check on me. I appreciated her concern and care for me. This really stood out to me. I wish I had gotten her name so I could do a better job of thanking her. Also thanks to Deb, one of the nurses in the chemo clinic at Levine Cancer Institute-Rock Hill, who took care of me all throughout my chemo and Herceptin treatment. I saw Deb every 3 weeks for almost a year, so she got to feeling like family to me. I always knew I was in good hands with Deb, and she was always there with a friendly face and a hug when I needed it despite the fact that she was always working so hard.

I have had excellent support during my cancer ordeal, and I am grateful for all my friends and family. Thanks for getting me through one of the toughest times of my life. I’m glad to be on the other side of things, and I’m enjoying life!

Enjoy your life, too, friends. 🙂

Terri Marshall