Enough With The Horror Stories

I’m sure that just like me; many of my sisters out there have heard horror stories about mammograms. I don’t know why as horrorwomen we have the tendency to create horror stories about those things that relate to our bodies. We heard horror stories about how our menstrual cycle was going to be. We heard the horror stories about our wedding night, child birth and many other things. And in a latter part of our life we have heard those same stories about our preventative checkup for breast cancer.

I admit that the horror stories kept me away from getting tested for a couple of years. I would go to my annual checkup. The doctor would give the order; the nurse would schedule my appointment and then I would miss it. Ironically I’ve been supporting the Breast Cancer Awareness Cause for about the same amount of time that I’ve been avoiding getting tested.

This year, a coworker who has promised to share her story with us later in the month, went through the experience of breast cancer. She used to have this pretty long beautiful hair and I had not seen her in a while. We ran into each other in the bathroom and I felt confident enough to ask her if something had happened. She briefly told me her story. I will not anticipate the details of her story, but it was preventative testing what help detect her cancer at an earlier stage. I told her about my fears and how I had been avoiding it. She encouraged me to get tested and I promised her that this year I would.

To be honest I had already missed the original date of my test. So, I called my doctor’s office and reschedule. The morning of the test I didn’t want to get out of the bed, but I decided to get up and go. I was late to my appointment. I think I secretly wanted for them to tell me that they couldn’t see me, but that was not the case. I was finally in my gown waiting to be called into the testing room and in my mind I was thinking Should I just get dressed and leave. Nah, I made it this far.

no more excusesLet me tell you that I felt like a fool after the testing was done. The tech told me that it is true that in the past, this was a painful test, but that technology has advance and now everything is done digitally. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. No pain, no discomfort, no horror stories to share. It was almost like taking a chest x-ray.

As soon as I left the office I thought of writing this post. I know that someone out there has been running from this the same way I did. If the blessing that God has given me through this forum saves one life, it is worth telling my story. If like me, you’ve been running to get tested. Stop listening to the horror stories. I’m living proof that it was the greatest experience ever and that next year I will not hesitate to go.

Stay Healthy

40

Advertisements

Mental Illness is Real

After the events of last week, the conversation about laws regarding access to weapons and mental health have intensified. One of the things that I’ve learned, being involved in the mental health field is that, the stigma of mental health and the issues some people have to access services, influences in having a larger number of untreated people with mental health conditions.

I wrote an article last year regarding “Faith and Mental Health”. One of the things that I’ve encountered as a Christian is that there are people who reject medical care for their mental health symptoms because they feel that it shows a lack of faith or just spiritual problems. I don’t deny that some people may be dealing with spiritual issues that cause their problems, but that doesn’t deny any mental health situations that they may be experiencing.

At the time that I’m writing this, it hasn’t been confirmed that the person who committed the horrible murders in Connecticut had mental health issues. My take on that is this, not all mental health patients are violent. At the same time I don’t think anyone in their right mind would enter a public place to kill innocent people, especially children.

I’ve heard many people saying that this incident is worse because it’s so close to the holidays. Believe it or not, the holidays can be a trigger, for some, unexpected reactions from those dealing with mental illness. The holidays are not a happy time for everyone. The stress of memories of past unpleasant prior holidays, family problems, financial issues, unemployment or something as simple as the weather changes during the winter, can be triggers to increase symptoms on someone with untreated mental illness.

From the spiritual standpoint, I believe that the enemy preys on those weaker during these times to ruin the celebration of the birth of Jesus. He knows he has been defeated and our victory celebration doesn’t sit well with him.

Revelations 12: 9-11

“And the great dragon was thrown down, the ancient serpent, the one who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole inhabited earth – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers was thrown down, the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life up to death.”

Instead of judging those around you with possible mental illness, educate yourself. There are many mental diagnoses, but the most common ones are depression and anxiety. If you or someone close to you presents these symptoms, seek help or encourage to seek help.

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you;

my peace I give to you.

Not as the world gives do I give to you.

Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Please take care of yourselves and each other. Blessings

Get your copy of Season’s Greetings from Amelia. This great novella brings mystery, suspense and the best stocking stuffer for your favorite e-reader. You can get your copy for just 0.99 cents on KindleSmashwords and Nook only during the month of December.

season (1)

Towdah: A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope

By Sheryl Holmes

“Jumping up and jumping down, screaming NO(!) inside my heart,…atoms crashing one by one, frozen in the moment; releasing — rushing — over the cliff…. Let this not be true oh God, Let this not be true!”
These are excerpts of word phrases from the lyrics of a song I wrote in attempt to describe the nauseating and shocking state of being when I was given the diagnosis of cancer.
Universal to all are the emotions and the bewilderment.  The anger and the fear.  Is there anyone who does not shake their fist at God for a moment and demand to know, “WHY ME?”  I sure did.  Even after following the Lord for twenty-plus years, I stood indignant before God.
Weeping an gnashing my teeth, I drooled on my pillow as I bit it in frustration — silently wailing and heaving.  Voiceless cries filled the night.  I wrestled with God.
In the morning, I was weary; weariness gave up the weeping and the gnashing and the cries. Through the gentle reminder of a friend, came my answer to my prideful questioning of the Lord.  I was asking the wrong question….not “why me?” — but I should’ve been asking “Why not me.”
Jesus had already done everything for me — “…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8b
“Towdah: A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope” is my book.  It is filled with hard questions like, “Why Me?” — “Is Salvation enough?” — “Would God stand by me? — by His promises? — Would He spare me of stage three cancer?” — “Am I going to die?”  I weave these hard grappling’s throughout my book and sprinkle in childhood reminiscing, humor, and poignant studies on life as I have experienced it as a home schooling mother of nine children and a wife of 27 years.
Treatment was harsh and my body produced every side effect that was predicted: mouth sores, fevers, aches in the joints and muscles, nerve issues that even plagued me today 24/7.  Radiation annihilated my feminine parts and forced me right through menopause reeking havoc on my relationship with my husband.
Yet, God’s mercy came in abundance.  His grace and compassion came in various forms of support.
Treatment ended.  My cancer is nonexistent at this time.  One year out of treatment I struggle with what I am calling the second phase of recovery: grieving loss.  I have been internalizing my losses – loss of who I was before I had cancer.  I am not the same person physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  I have a “new normal” and I do not really  like it… depression lurks in the doorway of my life.
So where do I  go now?
In the scriptures, Paul tells us:  “Whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord….”   My profits, who I was and what I had accomplished before are now lost.  But, in giving the old me up, I am able to draw closer to my Lord and rely on Him for filling my losses with the gains of knowing Him deeper and deeper. The eyes of my heart have been opened.  My reaction is thanksgiving and praise for who God is.  I look to see His grace poured into my day — every day.  He IS there!  I call these God Sparkles and I share them often on my Face Book page and in my blog writings.
Fellow survivor of this difficult life – come join me in resting in HOPE; no matter your circumstance there is always a song of hope to sing!  Check me out at: alwaysasongofhope.com — signup to receive my blog postings and LIKE me!
I also have been nominated on Yahoo’s online magazine as “A Woman Who Shines” — please vote for me by Oct 26th at:bit.ly/SherylHolmes and I will have the chance at winning a sweet prize and have a featured  article spot in their magazine(!).


My book:  “Towdah: A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope” is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online for a mere $3.99 for ebook and $9.99 for paperbacks.  Though my story is of my battle with cancer, it has a universal message of striving and persevering in HOPE through the pains and agony of life and all the trials we face in this world.
May Grace and Peace abound to dear reader friend.  What God has done for me — He will do for you in a way that is unique to your being and life.
He’s just THAT kind of God!

From Honeymooner to Survivor

Today at The Rising Muse we have the story of author and breast cancer survivor Katherine Bown. Katherine found out that out that she had breast cancer during her honeymoon. Let’s read her story:

In December 2008 I got married when my life was great; I had a brilliant job as a Marketing Communications Manager, I ran website, I had a busy social life – basically I thrived off being under pressure.

Ten days later on my honeymoon I found a lump on my breast, then got diagnosed with an aggressive (grade 3) tumor ( breast cancer). I then spent the 1st year of my marriage going through 18 weeks of chemotherapy and 3 weeks radiotherapy.

When I finished treatment I went back to work but I wasn’t the same person as I previously was, I lasted a year at work and then I took VR – pretty much to search for ‘my purpose in life’ (I’d literally scour the net for ideas; going to change my job, looking at doing charity treks, how I could raise breast cancer awareness, fundraising – pretty much I did anything I could to change my life and give meaning to why the cancer didn’t take me!)

Cancer was a big surprise to me. There’s no history of breast cancer or any cancer in my family whatsoever. I was the first person to go through this journey.

It took 5 months of soul-searching when a friend suggested I set up my own marketing consultancy which I did and has been going great for a year.

I always wanted to write a book, but never knew what kind of book to write. A few months I finally figured it out. I could use my life experience to help family and friends of breast cancer sufferers; explaining in ‘my language’ all of the medical terms, how the breast cancer patient will react in certain situations, the side affects of treatment, how they can help along the way.

I have found my purpose in life, I want to help Mums, Sisters, Best Friend’s, Husbands and caretakers of those dealing with breast cancer. I want to share how important they are to those of us, whom they love, and have been diagnosed with breast cancer, after all I’ve got 1st hand experience at it!

Wow, Katherine! What a story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

If you want to read more about Katherine’s journey and would like more to get her book ‘Your Guide Through Her Breast Cancer Journey’

Her book is on Amazon for just $0.99 and the profits from her sales until 12/31/12 will go towards Breast Cancer Care. I think we can all spare to help.

 

 

 

More about Katherine BownKatherine Formosa Bown

Katherine was born Cardiff, South Wales, UK. She has worked in the marketing field for over 15 years. She was diagnosed at 33 years old with Stage 1, Grade 3 breast cancer in February 2009, after finding a lump in her breast while on honeymoon. She had 18 weeks of FEC chemotherapy, 3 weeks of Radiotherapy and is currently still taking Tamoxifen.Since completing treatment, she has given a lot of her time to supporting and fundraising for cancer research and breast cancer charities. Connect with Katherine on Twitter or Facebook

Beautiful and Handsome

As God’s children we should aspire for the best as we are the children of The King. With this I’m not talking about our expectations for others, but for our own selves. The media is filled with images that define beauty for us, and in my quest for meaning I decided to research the world view and God’s view on beauty.

When talking about the beauty in terms of human attraction these tend to be defined by gender. Women are beautiful; men are handsome. What does that really mean?

 Beautiful

I usually start with my friend Webster who says that beauty is the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).  It’s an individually pleasing or has beautiful quality; grace; charm.

Reading this also entails that beauty is very subjective. Something pleasing to my eyes is totally disgusting to the person next to me. Therefore beauty will depend on our personal experiences, our culture and our personal taste. Not much for an objective definition.

Of course I went to the Word of God and this is what I found:

  •  Proverbs 31:30(NIV)”Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” This one I found particularly interesting because Webster said that charm was part of beauty, but the word of God tells us that charm is fleeting.
  •  1 Peter 3:3-5 (NIV) “such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.”

So according to the Word, in reality being beautiful has nothing to do with how we look, but who we are. I think this definition can transcend cultures, tastes and personal experiences. I could even dare to say that it doesn’t divide even by gender as a man can have a gentle and quiet spirit as well.

Handsome

Now for the gentlemen, this was Webster’s definition of handsome: having an attractive, well-proportioned, and imposing appearance suggestive of health and strength; good-looking; having pleasing proportions, relationships, exhibiting skill, taste, and refinement.

Once again it focuses on the outer appearance and the subjectivity of what is perceived by it, but in this case it goes further talking about skills, which is something that I think I never thought was included in this definition.

I found in Daniel 1:4 the following message,young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace”  The bible doesn’t deter much from Webster in this definition, it talks about no physical defect, which I’m sure is not talking about lack of flaws, but about a healthy body; but adds something to it, which is knowledge and the ability to learn. So for a man to be attractive, the six packs may be as equally important as the knowledge he presents, if not more.

The irony for me was that doing this research I found pictures that do not conform to our Hollywood mentality of beauty, which reinforces the notion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Yes, I did find pictures of Brad Pitt in the midst of it and of  Julia Roberts, but I found pictures that defined beauty that are unusual for our traditional mindset. Here I share some:

Beautiful:

See full size imageSee full size image

Handsome:

    

So here’s the bottom line:

  •  Are you woman, being defined by the world’s definition of beauty or are you beautifying your spirit with the Word of God?  Also, are you looking at men within the God’s definition of beauty?
  •  Are you man, being defined by the world’s physical view of handsome? Or are you being teachable and in the search for the true knowledge? Also, are you looking at women within the definition of beauty that God has set for you?

Food for thought,

Blessings

Naty

Moving Forward

First of all I want to apologize for not writing in the last few days, between Camp Nano and other distractions I have not been able to sit down long enough to concentrate. I’ve been thinking a lot about how sometimes we are affected by issues regardless if they have direct or indirect impact in our lives.

Life is never without challenges, disappointments and painful events, most of them out of our control. The way we react to those events and the way we view those events will determine our behavior and ultimately potential future outcomes.

When something unexpected affects negatively our lives its very common to feel anger, sadness, shock, resentment, disappointment, grief and many other negative feelings. Ephesians 4:26 reads “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” but I know there are wounds that are longer lasting, however once the sun comes back up, it may be time to start our baby steps back on the road of life.

We believe that we have no control over those feelings and that’s not totally true. Yes, those feelings are normal. We should not stuff them or deny them. We should talk about them and process them, the problem arises when we sulk and get stuck on them.

At some point the grieving process of an event runs its course and yes, the timing is different for everyone, but when the grief hinders you from functioning, you’ve gone too long.

That’s why I say that you can ultimately impact your future outcomes, for example…the loss of a relationship may be devastating, but it could open the door to self examination, discovery and the potential of a new, sometimes even better relationship. The loss of a loved one is devastating, but if you have faith that they are in a place of no pain and no sorrow, that will give you hope. The loss of employment or some other financial loss will not be easy to recover until you get back on your feet.

Feel what you need to feel, process what you need to process, but then it’s time to get up and move on. Trust that God will make everything right and that he’s in control. That there’s no evil that will not be avenged and no good deed unrewarded.

Faith will get you through

Be blessed.

The hair clip from hell!

Have you ever heard that we are affected by things, people and places? The results can be both negative and positive and sometimes without our conscious acknowledgement. We live our life day by day and our life gets transformed for good or bad and it’s not until we make a pause that we realize how far we’ve gone; either towards our purpose or away from it.

There’s a particular thing that was a symbol in my life for a long time without my conscious knowledge, it was a hair clip. Apparently when I was very angry I would pulled my hair up, others will say that it was very high, and that I placed the hair clip on the top of my head. It was an unconscious thing.

I use to be a manager, and I heard some of my employees pass by my cubicle and announce, “oh oh hair clip is on”. I never paid attention, I thought it was a joke, until one day someone who I was in a relationship with and I were having a phone conversation. It was more an argument. He got quiet and said. “I bet your hair is up” and when I touched my hair, he was right. This same individual had a fist fight with his brother. I was called by a neighbor who couldn’t pulled them apart. I asked to be placed on the phone with my boyfriend and announced that I was on my way. When I made it to his place the guys were in separate rooms, I talked to “my guy” and started asking questions about the fight, he kept staring at me in silence. Finally he said,” I’m not talking to you until your hair comes down” I started laughing and pulled the clip off. This was over five years ago.

Why a hair clip story? During the last five to six years God has been working on me. I’m not sure if I had an anger issue, it was more a legalistic spirit. Everything needed to be in a way (usually my way) and I was miserable. If things were not inside the mold I would not only be upset but angry.  As things started changing in me I started enjoying my life. I laugh more, I have less concerns and I’m way less affected by sudden changes in life.

When I stopped managing my life and surrendering it to the one that could actually do something about it I had less reasons to worry and less need to control. That gave me more time to enjoy life and do more of what I like: writing! I’m not going to say that I never get upset or angry anymore, but the clip went away from my life as I am not nearly as uptight as I used to be.

I laugh when people say how funny or laid back I am. If they only knew me then. But what about the hair clip you may ask? I have not used it in years. I realized this week how long God has brought me when I found it buried in a box.

Would you like to share things that God has changed in your life? Have you identified things, people or places that affect you positively or negatively? I would love to hear them!

Be blessed!!