Two Stories about Cancer and the Beauty of Hope

Regardless the type, the word cancer is enough to put a lump of fear in anyone's throat. The mind goes wild and usually it doesn't take long for one's thoughts to jump to the most dismal outcome. Despite all of the research and growing technology of today's world in the areas of prevention, controlling, and putting an end to this non discriminatory disease, we still as humans feel the loss of control in our lives when we hear the word cancer. Whether we are a cancer victim, or happen to be the relative or close friend of someone who is, we find that our lives are no longer our own, they belong to the doctor's appointments, the treatments, hospital stays and the awful fear of the unknown. 

 As I have shared some of my medical history in previous posts, many of you are already aware of the fact that I was diagnosed at the age of 13 with ovarian cancer. During the end of my 8th grade year and the summer that followed, I had the classic signs of this form of cancer only at that time there was no way we would have ever fathomed the idea of cancer as the cause. I was constantly bloated with bouts of constipation. I also experienced a major loss of appetite along with nausea and sometimes vomiting after I ate. But the thing that actually made my mother take me to the doctor was the fact that my abdominal girth increased over an inch in one week. Test showed I had an obstruction in the way of a mass, but it wasn't until after I was operated on and the tissue samples sent to the lab were resulted, that I found out I had cancer. Thinking back I sincerely believe that since I was so very young and not aware of  my own mortality, I was somewhat protected from the terrible reality that I may die. My parents however, were fully aware of the severity of my condition. But at that age what cancer in my life did manage to do was to make me terribly angry. 

As a teen I had to endure  operations leaving me with ugly scars, chemotherapy and hours of real sickness…not being able to eat and enjoy food the way I liked…countless trips to the bathroom due to nausea and vomiting, missing school and my friends, hair loss, mouth sores…loss of continence along with dates, socials, football games and I can go on…I was 14 years old…but still to me, it was more of a disruption to my life than a death threat. At that age it made me feel like an oddball, I wasn't like everyone else because of it...and I hated it because of what it stole from me.
 (from my Facebook note "My Thoughts on Cancer")

That was 40 years ago. 

My parents, thank God, are extremely faithful people and my mother in particular put great faith in God to take care of her little girl and see this entire thing through with nothing short of a positive outcome. She prayed constantly between all the tears, and put her trust into the hands of the pediatric oncologist at Philadelphia's St. Christopher's Hospital for children. She also kept me busy. During the fall months I was a member of my high school marching band front, so when the season ended my mother immediately encouraged me to tryout for the indoor drill team. By this time as I recall, my hair had completely fallen out. I remember wearing a wig with my uniform hat on top, and the fear that they both may topple off my head at any time exposing my completely bald scalp. I also recall being so incredibly thin that safety pins were needed to hold up the skirt of my already extra small sized uniform. Mother really does know best because, in retrospect, I eventually realized the best thing for me was to be involved in something, anything not having to do with that damn cancer diagnosis! After my chemo treatments came a second surgery. My entire freshman year of high school was divided up between chemo treatments, tests, lying in hospital beds and tons of doctor appointments. It was a tough 12 months, but when all was said and done I was believed to be cancer free.

Then 11 years later at the age of 25, nine areas of tumor growth in both my abdomen and pelvis were discovered on a CAT scan. This gave way gave to yet another trip to the OR entailing 8 hours of tumor debulking. Fortunately for me and my family all tissue biopsy results showed no evidence of cancer. The doctors told me that the chemo I endured as a child actually saved my life.

That was 28 years ago.

Ironically on the actual 40th anniversary of the day my cancer journey began, I received an email from Heather Von St. James. She contacted me to follow up on an earlier email she had sent asking me if I was interested in sharing my experience with cancer along with her story in a post for my blog. She wanted to share our journeys as way to help build hope and spread the word about how important it is to hang onto hope no matter how difficult a situation anyone could be dealing with in their life. In the first email Heather introduced herself as a 10 year survivor of a type of cancer called Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. She went on to tell me how she was diagnosed just 3 months after giving birth to her daughter Lily. The prognosis for this type of cancer was not a great one. Without treatment Heather was given only 15 months to live. With chemo and radiation she was given a possible 5 more years. Still a pretty crappy prognosis for a young mother with a new baby at home. This was a time in her life where she should have been able to embrace the joys of being a new mother, not worrying about her own mortality. Fortunately Heather's doctor knew about an experimental surgery which in addition to the chemo and radiation could give her up to 10 more years.

That was 10 years ago.

When I look back on everything I had gone through and the feelings I had of so much loss, I came to realize that my journey wasn't without a reason, because God always has a plan. Now you would think that someone who spent so much of her adolescence in hospitals getting probed, prodded, stuck and opened up would never want to step foot in a hospital ever again as long a she could help it. But what my battle with cancer gave me was the desire to help others who are sick. To let them know I was once in their shoes and that it really does suck, but it can and will get better. Cancer influenced my career choices subsequently leading me to first become an x-ray technologist and ultimately a registered nurse. It also led my husband and myself to our beautiful adopted children Michael and Grace.

For Heather, she found strength and healing by sharing her experience with others and to help people become more aware of the terrible disease mesothelioma. In one of her emails to me she wrote "My aim is to inspire people and to show them that with hope, the odds don't matter". To read about Heather's devastating diagnosis and incredible journey of survival over the past decade, just follow this link to her blog Beating the Odds.

 Heather Von St. James
My aim is to inspire people and show them that with hope, the odds don't matter!

I want to thank Heather for reaching out and inviting me to share her story along with mine. I pray that in some way this post inspires hope for anyone who is truly in need, and to please know that there are many of us out here who have experienced first hand the beautiful gift of hope .

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!


Share Your Style Link Party #28

My name is Lynn and I am the author of the blog, The Vintage Nest, and today I am your host for the

 Share Your Style party

 Welcome! ~~~~~  Share your link on one blog and it will also be on seven others....great exposure for your blog and inspiration.   We love that you are here and delight in all that you SHARE with us.   We hope that you will visit other blogger post.  You may find a new recipe that you just have to try, a new bloggy friend,  a project to do this week, or inspiration for an Autumn vignette.  And please add a link back to the party on your post. :)

This week on a blog post I explained a little bit about pickling, white washing or liming furniture.  I took you thru the process that I use on a vintage pine cabinet.  I hope you will check out the post here.

As always, it's terribly hard to pick out just a few features for you.  I spent hours looking at all the beautiful posts.  Here are a few that really caught my eye.  Enjoy and if you were featured please grab the button below to post on your blog.  :)


On the blog Bringing French Country Home, Pat shares some late summer blooms  in her garden.   My garden is waning right now, especially with no rain lately, and I enjoyed her post and beautiful photos so much.  Thank you Pat.

Is this the cutest vignette ever??  Michelle of Dandelion Patina, shared how she made a lounger out of hay bales.  How charming for your front porch for Fall, right up on to Thanksgiving.  Thank you Michelle for this charming inspiration.

Sarah gave us the basics of canning.  With summer's bounty coming in in full swing right now, I loved that she shared her knowledge with us.  It's so healthy for you!  Not to mention so pretty sitting on the shelves in your kitchen.  You can find her post on her blog  Must Have Mom.

LZ of Summery Umbrella, shows us how to make the cutest branch ladder.  Perfect for an Autumn  vignette on your front porch or yard, on a screen porch holding some throws for those chilly nights or just as she shows,  which family photos.  It's so cute LZ.

And Briana of the Bargain Briana blog, shared with us how to make this adorable crayon wreath.  Now, wouldn't your kids think you are the best Mom on the block with this on the front door for the first week of school or on a school teacher's class room door?  Thank you Briana for this delightful project.


Sneak Peek ~ Our Fall Foyer

Well our kiddies have "T" minus one week until the start of the new school year and I can't believe how the summer just flew. Gracie is headed for the junior high and Micheal will be finishing up his last year of grade school. Gosh I remember taking Grace to her first day of preschool with Michel loaded on one hip and her tiny hand holding tightly on to mine. Where did the time go? But this is my favorite time of the year for many reasons, mostly because I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the brilliant colors of the fall.

For my foyer vignette this year, I decided to give it a bit of a farmhouse feel with the large pitcher filled with autumn florals, a basket of green apples and a few pumpkin here and there. And let me not forget my favorite wooden swans.

If you want to see more gorgeous fall decorating please stop by on September 7th for a full week of home tours from 30 different bloggers. That's right 30 homes in just 5 days! So write it down on your calendars, you won't want to miss a second of these tours which is being hosted by my lovely friend Marty from the beautiful blog 

And tomorrow evening our 28th Share Your Style link party will open at 7pm EST so be sure to stop on by to share YOUR style.

Have a great day!!!
Sharing this link at parties hosted by these fabulous blogs...


Share Your Style Link Party #27

Hi Everyone and welcome to another fabulous Share Your Style Par-tay!!! 

It's me Barbara from the blog 21 Rosemary Lane, and I am your host for this week's jamming party.  Wow can you believe that the summer is almost over? Gee whiz it went by fast didn't it? Well before we get this party started let me share with you some of what I have shared here this month at 21 Rosemary Lane.

After I returned from helping my parents pack up their Florida home to move north, I posted their gorgeous bridal Edelstein Bavarian China set my mother so sweetly gifted to me. We are also in the throws of Updating our Screened-in Patio so I shared phase one of this process. And if you like loaded potato skins or just loaded potatoes, stop by to check out this wonderful recipe on how to make A Very Loaded Potato Salad. Finally I shared our new Guest Bedroom's Summer Linens

I'd like to invite you all to stop by sometime and visit me over on 21 Rosemary Lane. 

There was another ginormous turnout for last week's party so thanks to all who came by to link up!

Alrighty then, without letting another second go by here are 
First up is this absolutely stunning kitchen transformation from the beautiful blog Edith & Evelyn Vintage. See how a tired 1970's kitchen was dramatically taken 40 years into the future. It is truly amazing!

OK this post caught my eye because I have to be the Queen of used candles. I must have at least a dozen and a half sitting around the house that I just couldn't bring myself to throw away. Barb from Sparkles in the Everyday linked up this wonderfully detailed tutorial on just what to do with them!

And yes I am getting geared up for my favorite time of the year, Autumn. This link from Still Woods Farmhouse is filled with beautifully unique ways to adorn your door for this most nostalgic and colorful season.

Barb from The Everyday Home put together 10 wonderful tips for organizing your laundry room. Thank you Barb!

The blog Anne's Entitled Life shared a yummy Sidecar Cocktail Recipe. The last time I had this classic drink had to be years ago so I plan to give this recipe a whirl!

And finally Sally from Cottage Fix shared her struggle with selecting curtains for her pretty blue family room. I think she hit a home run with this lovely lace and toile combination.

If your style was featured please be sure to take along our cute button to put on your sidebar before you leave!

 Remember when you share here at Share Your Style, your link will be seen on 8 different blogs!


Updating and Redecorating the Screened-In Patio

When we moved to 21 Rosemary Lane almost 13 years ago we were thrilled with the idea of having a large bug free enclosure off of the kitchen. But the patio itself was in need of a little, scratch that, a lot of TLC. 

Here is the Realtor's photo from 2002.

After four years of living with this rather blah looking space, in 2006 we began to work on freshening up the patio. The screens were somewhat compromised due to age but not so bad that we needed to remove them. So we painted. It had to be the hottest dang time of the year to attack this project as it was August and we wanted to have the painting done before Michael's 2nd birthday.

(Those are our two dogs at the time, Blizzard in the foreground and Sandy in the doorway. Both of them became doggy angels back in 2008.)

The finished space eventually looked like this.

Grace and Michael on the patio in 2008. 

And while I did like the space I had one ongoing problem. That being the dirt and mud tracked up onto the patio by kids, the dogs and yes, even Mr. Rosemary Lane. So to remedy the problem, in 2010 I repainted the floor, but this time I went much darker.

As you can see I changed up some of the furnishing with a few yard sale and roadside finds.

We only painted the floor this time although we could tell that the huge task of replacing the screens was going to be happening in the next few years.

And as predicted over the next five years the screens begun to seriously rip and disintegrate. So starting last month Mr. RL began the process of pulling off the exterior wood and removing the old torn screens.

Mr. RL also painted the ceiling in a pretty sky blue and then I repainted and caulked all of the interior white wood.

The floor also received a new coat of concrete paint. The color I decided on is similar to what I had used the first time I painted the floor. It is called Sandal and is part of Home Depot's DECKOVER floor paint collection. The floor will need one more coat before all is said and done. I decided it was OK to go back to the lighter color (of which I really preferred) because over the years we lost about 5 trees in the backyard, so the issue of dirt areas in the shade becoming muddy during rainy weather more or less went away.

And since we now have our big giant dog Buster who likes to create his own doggy doors to get on and off the patio, Mr. RL is going to build in an pretty architectural feature which will hopefully deter "The Bust" from using an unauthorized entrance onto the patio. (There will eventually be an "X" in each of the bottom sections.)

 I plan to re-configuring the furniture yet one more time. I would also like to incorporate a rectangular table for this space so it will seat six comfortably. I have an old farm table base in our basement but the top is way to big, so I'd like to make my own tabletop in a 3 ft by 6 ft dimension. The rectangular shape should better maximize the usage of the space on the patio.

Now for the fun part, the decorating ideas! I think I am going to repaint both the natural color wicker love seat and coffee table in white. I love the crisp contrast of the dark blue with the white so this will probably be my jumping off point with regard to color scheme.

Here are some blue and white inspirational outdoor spaces I have come across.





As you can see I am really digging the blue and white stripes. I truly hope to get this project as close as possible to finished by September 1st. 
Keeping "ma" fingers crossed!!!

And don't forget to stop tonight at 7 pm sharp for another Share Your Style link party! 
(Yours truly is hosting!)



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