Category Archives: faith

How Did My Breast Cancer Affect My Husband?

Me with my wonderful husband at Paige's wedding, January2010
Me with my wonderful husband at Paige’s wedding, January 2010

Being a caregiver as a husband

Cancer – When we first heard the news one thing I remember is that my oldest daughter (21) came to me and asked, when is mommy going to die. During this time when we heard the “C” word it was a death sentence. Although we were a strong, faith filled family we believed that God was in control of everything in our life. But for some reason it seemed that Cancer was something outside of that layer of faith.

There were times I encountered different people who had this disease and I remember laying hands on them and praying for them. But now the disease is in your life and for some reason it was harder to find the faith I had praying and believing for others.

What did I learn?

Through this experience I learned more about my faith and myself that I would have never known without this encounter. I use to think I know what people went through but I had no idea. Looking back I see that the caregivers go through a different emotional experience than the one that has the actual disease.

Cancer was something that brings out all the different emotions out of your spouse. Although her faith was strong there were times that she showed her real feelings. Being the husband you are the one person on this earth that she can confide in. Of course she tries to never show this side of herself to anyone else; to the outside world she tries to be strong and brave.

I would have different people come to me and ask how your wife is doing, which you would expect. That would have been my question but now I add, how are you also doing? Just remember that Cancer has a major impact on everyone in the family and it changes your life.  It is up to you if this change is negative or positive.

Added Responsibilities

Trying to carry the load of all the different family issues that needed to be completed along with my work responsibilities created an overwhelming state of mind at times.  This is such a difficult time and if you let it, it will consume your thoughts and pull you down. Stay as positive as you can. If you start thinking about all the negatives you start asking why and then the blame game starts. As men we have the tendency to try to figure everything out and if you get caught up into this process it will show in your attitude.

Your life will also change and your responsibilities as a husband will expand into areas that you are not used to. As the husband you need to try to stay strong for not only your wife but also your kids. This is not something you cannot do alone, you need the guidance and direction from the Lord and you must take time to get along and pray and ask God for help. It is not wrong to ask him why and express your feelings but know he is a loving God and He is the only one that can help you during this time. You may also need to find a man friend you can talk to outside of your family. This person should be a good friend and hopefully be someone who is spiritually ground and is of strong faith.  They must be someone you can trust and confide with and take time to fellowship together. Go have breakfast, golfing or fishing, just find the time to just meet and talk. .

As the head of the house the man takes pride in being the provider but with a sickness of this magnitude, we need to now change our mindset. I researched and read what I could but it never prepared me for what I was going to encounter.  There were people I ran into at work and in church that were facing the same situation and in two of the cases the husband refused to accept the cancer and they got bitter.

I found that when a man encounters this type of news it does one of two things. They accept it and try to do their best to adjust their life and it moves them closer to God. Then there are those that go into denial and blame God which drives them away from the one source they need. They go into denial and with this attitude it creates a non-supporting role and causes more tension on the whole family.

Be A Good Listener

I am not saying you need to be super spiritual and that you will be perfect in handling everything that comes your way.  Just do your best and be supportive and encourage her, There will be times she will say things that she does not mean but learn to just listen and not try to correct her or give advice. This is something I still have a hard time trying to do to this day. Just be there and listen to her. Hear what her needs and wants are and ask how you can help. Do not force your agenda on her, let time take its course. She is processing and dealing with heavy stuff, so don’t try to understand everything. We would not know until we were walking in her shoes. Show patience, humility, compassion and Love.

The most important thing you can do is to continue to lift her up in Prayer and be a positive conduit feeding your surroundings with words of encouragement. Find the best out of your situation and meditate on those things. Believe that God will move in your situation and you “Will Conquer Cancer”.  Doug

I hope Doug’s insight will help others who may be on this journey.

I invite you to follow me of Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

How Can I ‘Be Still’?

There are at least two verses where the Psalmist is telling us to ‘be still before the Lord.’

  • Psalm 46:10 …Be still and know that I am God…
  • and Psalm 37:7 … Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;…
Powerful verse that continues to encourage me.
Powerful verse that continues to encourage me.

My Thinking

This tells me to ‘hush, hush, hush…Laura’. Hush your mind. Hush the negative voices in your head and stop trying to figure it all out. It’s up to me (God) to figure it out for you.

What God is trying to tell me

‘I am the Lord your God…I’m the one who made you. I’m the one who knows the number hairs on your head, before and after chemo. I’m (God) the one who’s here for you. I’m the one who has hope for you. I am here to give you good. I am here to see you through the hard times…so just be stillJust be still, Laura.

Just be still and let me (God) do my work. You don’t have to figure it all out on your own. You are not on your own. You have me (God) to rely on. You don’t have to plan 5 steps ahead.’

Me the ‘A’ Type Person

You see …I am an ‘A’ type personality and I like to set goals, especially career goals.  I’m going to get my Masters by 2002, become an Assistant Principal within 3 years and then a Principal within 4-5 years. But these verses always brings me back to my center. It’s all about God’s plan not mine.

I have learned through various life experiences, parenting teenagers and through cancer that God never gives us more than we can handle, even though it doesn’t feel that way to us when we are going through the hard times.

Be still and know that HE is God.  He has it all under control.

I invite you to follow me on FB @http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Cheryll’s Story , Part 2

Cheryll's Story... The cross is for my faith in God. The pink heart is for my compassion for others with breast cancer. The word 'hope' stands for always having HOPE. The pink ribbon is in honor those who lost their lives to breast cancer. The pink crystal is my reminder to stay grounded and stay in faith that God has this and every part of my life in his plan.
Cheryll’s Story…

This is part 2 of my sister’s story.  I admire her courage.

“Two days later, my gynecologist was calling me. The nurse told me that the doctor would call me, but I know something wasn’t right when I had a message from my gynecologist office. They called me on the 16th of Oct. to come into the office the next day. I told her that was impossible, I had started a new job in June and I can’t take the time. I told her to just let me know now. She kept saying you need to come in, after going back and forth she finally relented and said again, you know I don’t want to do this over the phone.

I told her I had cancer 23 years ago and I am going to act fast and attack, so… I said, ” Tell me now!!! ….I have breast cancer, right?” she said, “Pathology confirmed that you have breast cancer and I have an appointment set up for you tomorrow to see the surgeon”.

I thanked her.  I was shocked, but there is an underlying story and other things which are converging into this story which I can’t go into right now. I knew in that moment that the Lord was with me, without a doubt.  I was at work when she told me and for a brief second a tear came to my eyes and a big lump formed in my throat, but it was very short-lived. I shook it off, my boss asked if I was okay, I answered with a shaky voice, yes, are you sure she said,  and at that moment my yes was firm and sure, I was quite sure that all would be fine and I told her so. I had such peace, such knowing and no fear that I knew everything was going to be fine.

Later, I would end up telling my sister the same thing and she recognized that I had no fear. Again, other things were going on in the background, so I was confident and not fearful.  The next day I was in the surgeon’s office with my husband and my mom to discuss procedures. We reviewed options and a lumpectomy was a good choice. My cancer was stage 0 and had not broken out of the duct and had an intermediate growth rate. I really didn’t want surgery since the cancer had not broken out of the duct, but the doctor stressed the point that we can’t be sure that it didn’t spread. Cancer being what it is in microscopic form it could have traveled.

So far I felt that the news was fantastic and that proceeding with the surgery is the best precaution.  We met with the scheduling nurse and told her to get started with everything right away, I wanted this lumpectomy to be done before year-end. We set up the test within 2 weeks for the mapping, blood work and such on Nov 9, 2014. They also reviewed my lymph nodes to be sure we didn’t have to remove those also, which turned out to be fine.

The surgery was scheduled 3 weeks later for Dec 2, 2014. Everything went well, and again within a couple of days we found out that the lump had no cancer, not only within the ranges or the margins as it is called, but there was no cancer in the entire lump. This was of course a marvelous blessing.

There were many things going on in the background and I know that the Lord God had everything under control and that He had touched my body. I had a close friend pray for me and we claimed my healing in the name of Jesus which was towards the end of August after the initial meeting with the radiologists and I know again that all would be well.  A few weeks later as I was lying in bed praying, I felt the Lord touch my body and a beautiful sensation went through my chest and I knew without a doubt that I had been wiped clean.

Being human, we seem to wait to be told the news from doctors, surgeon and various professionals that all is well, but I knew all was well.  Now I had to go thru radiation to make sure that there was definitely no residual cancer left behind.  Precaution is the important word here. The surgeons nurse described this procedure as necessary, like using all the ingredients for a cake.  You cannot leave something out and get the recipe right, so radiation is the rest of the recipe.

Many things happen on several different levels in our lives, and it’s God working us, proving us, sharpening our faith , walking and talking to us , preparing us, so.. so.. so many things go on that we are blissfully unaware of until we see it all come together. Again these are the under currents in the Christian life.  They go on in the unseen spaces of our lives. I was shocked at first and there was a reason for that, yet I automatically knew all was going to be okay.

My sister Cheryll
My sister Cheryll

It was shock, then knowing immediately, no fear, no problem, I will be victorious only because the Lord God is in control and it’s all okay.  It is very simple, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, I am going to be okay. The resolve was simply, I am okay whether I am in heaven or I am kept here for a while longer on the earth by His grace. I did not allow fear to disrupt my home life, my husband came home, I told him about the news, told him it’s going to be fine. He had a shaking in his voice, I said,  “ Ugh ugh, no It is going to be okay” and didn’t miss a beat, prepared dinner, sat down and continued to say It’s all okay. I am an attacker, we are going for it, so let’s not worry about it. That is just what we did and my husband was with me all the way. I am thankful and grateful for my mom who was a tower of strength. If she ever doubted, she didn’t let me know.  I am thankful for my husband.  He handled it well, and he did well because I handled it well, and I did well because God already handled it well. God handled everything to perfection.  Be blessed. Cheryll”

Thank you, Cheryll for sharing your story. I am so thankful that Cheryll shared her story.  I hope it helps someone you know.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be blessed.

Laura

Cheryll’s Story, Part 1

My sister Cheryll
My sister Cheryll

I invited my sister to tell her story today.  I hope it brings awareness to breast cancer.

“I went for my annual mammogram which this year turned out to be a 20 month wait from my previous mammogram. I was blindsided, I was sitting in the little waiting room area and was talking to a wonderful, sweet spirited women that was in a wheel chair and she told me  that she had breast cancer 5 times. She was hoping today that her mammogram would come back clear so that she would not have to go through this again. Well, I of course said that I agreed with her and said I would pray for her so that she wouldn’t have to go through all this again and all of a sudden my name was called.

I said, “Well it looks like now I have to go see what’s happening with me!” She wished me well.  I stepped into the radiologist’s office and she was sitting in front of a computer and a screen that was huge. My images were on the screen. She asked me to sit down and mentioned that these were my results from today and she said, “Here is a cluster and it is very suspicious!!” There it was, bam, right between the eyes. I sure didn’t see this coming. I was waiting for the “All is good” news you can get dressed and see you next year and now I hear, “you are going to need to go get a biopsy because it doesn’t look right”.

I said, :NO!, No, No, just No” I was shaking my head no and she said, “What do you mean, No?! “Listen this is a cluster. This is not a little round dot like you see here or another one over here. This dot you had here has grown into little shards. See these?” She pointed out the elongated specs and I could see that she was right. She knew what she was looking at. I just kept saying, ” No, no, and no” She said, “Look if you were my sister, I would tell you that you need to go right away for the biopsy. I am going to have my head nurse talk to you to let you know what the procedures are.”

Her nurse greeted me and took me in her office and we set up the biopsy.  There were weight issue’s with me in regards to the table and I had to drop a few pounds for the safety of others and myself. I understood and walked out in a daze. I called my sister about 3 weeks later to bring her up to speed on what was happening up to this point. She had reassuring words for me and said she would be praying for me. She really opened up to me about her situation, which was the first time I had any information about what she went through.  I was glad for the talk and the information, I needed her and was glad to have her input.  I dropped weight and scheduled the biopsy 7 weeks later and had the procedure done in their office.” Cheryll

The rest of Cheryll’s story will be published Thursday.  I want to encourage woman everywhere to schedule and follow through with their yearly mammograms and other health screenings.  Early detection saves lives.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

How Do You Tell Your Story?

My first locket... Blessed, Hope, Cross, Pink Ribbon, Pink Heart
My first locket…
Blessed, Hope, Cross, Pink Ribbon, Pink Heart

I tell my story in many ways. This is how I began to tell my story.  I hope you are encouraged by my story.

On December 26, 2008, my life changed forever.  I was 47 years old when I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.   I did not think this would ever happen to me. In all reality, it did.  By the time I was diagnosed, the cancer was Stage 3a and Grade 3, a very aggressive form of cancer.  The silver lining in all of this is that it was triple positive cancer.

When you receive a diagnosis of cancer, your life changes forever.  From that point on, you are known as the one who has cancer.  Some people deal with it by talking to everyone about every detail.  That just wasn’t me.   I prayed, spoke as if I was already healed and immersed myself in worship. I am a woman of faith and I put my trust in God to bring about His divine will.

It took years for me to be able to talk about my diagnosis and progress without tearing up. Eventually, I  became the principal at my own school.  I began to share my story with those who needed words of encouragement. Inner healing began to take place every time I reached out to help others.

During that time in my life, Origami Owl Custom Jewelry found me.  With the assistance of one of my teachers, I designed the locket in the picture above.  Wearing my custom locket gave me voice when I had no voice. I chose each of the charms because they have special meaning to me:

  • Pink Ribbon – Symbol of Breast Cancer
  • Cross – My hope is in the Lord.
  • Pink Hope oval – I was speaking ‘hope’ over my situation. (positive attitude)
  • Sparkle Pink Heart – I love anything pink and sparkly.
  • Blessed Plate – I am blessed.

In October, 2014, I began to share my story through my Facebook page and on my blog.  The purpose for my Facebook page is to: inspire, encourage and empower. I recently reconnected with Origami Owl to discover that their Mission Statement embraces the very purpose I started my Facebook page.

“Our mission is to be a force for good; to love, inspire & motivate people of all ages to reach their dreams & empower them to make a difference in the lives of others.”

I recently became a designer with Origami Owl to tell my story and to continue to be a force for good, inspiration and to make a difference in the lives of others. Every story is unique and important. YOU are important. How do you tell your story?

As my story changes, so does my locket. I have added... Designer Charm, Blog, Hope (script) Also, I put all charms in a heart locket because the cause will always be close to my heart.
As my story changes, so does my locket.
I have added… Designer Charm, Blog, Hope (script) Also, I put all charms in a heart locket because the cause will always be close to my heart.
Heart locket-different angle
Heart locket-different angle

I invite you to visit the Origami Owl Stories page to read more stories. http://www.laurasjourneyofhope.com/origami-owl-stories

Be Blessed.

Laura

Renewal

IMG_5036

Along came a beautiful hummingbird and then his mate a couple of minutes later. They fluttered around the aloe plants and obtained the nectar from the aloe bloom.  Now, we had lived at that house 14 years and I had worked in the yard at all times of the day and I had never seen a hummingbird, much less a pair of hummingbirds.  Then, I remembered a verse in the Bible about God taking care of the birds of the air.

Matthew 6:26 (NIV)

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

I sat in silence once again but it was a good silence.  The kind of silence and time with God that renews your soul.  I knew God had my back in all of this.  I knew God was in control.  I went inside and began to review notes in my devotional book.  I read the notes from the Sunday that I was in the hospital, March 15, 2009.  In those notes was a phrase…“I know God remembers me.”  If fact, that phrase is listed 73 times in the Bible in reference to God taking care of us.  Then,  I listened to my favorite praise and worship song, “He Knows My Name” by Tommy Walker. Here are the words to the first verse/chorus:

I have a maker

He formed my heart,

before even time began

My life was in His hands

He knows my name

He knows my every thought,

He sees each tear that falls

and hears me when I call

He, my God, remembered me all along.  I just needed to go to the source of strength. My spirit had been renewed by some quiet time with God and the hummingbird visit.  I only saw them one more time after that day and haven’t seen them since.

I have looked for them again this April and May but so far, there is no sign. I believe that was a moment just for me.

I invite you to follow me on FB @ http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope

Be Blessed.

Laura

A Tribute To My Mom

...with Great Meme
…with Great Meme

I dedicate this post as a tribute to my mom in celebration of Mother’s Day.

She is my ROCK! She was there during my chemo and after my surgery and even before all of the medical stuff.  She raised two girls as a single mom during the time when child support wasn’t given much priority. I never felt as if I ever missed out on anything.

She kept us active in church and always prioritized church over all other activities. My sister and I were involved in the music department at church and participated on tours with our respective singing groups.

I played basketball and volleyball and would go to away games with the team.  My mom would give me her last $5.00 so I could go on these away trips. In retrospect, she gave me her lunch money.  I would venture to say that there were many times she sacrificed so that my sister and I could have what we needed.

We enjoyed a lot of ‘staycations’.  A ‘staycation’ is a weekend get away or vacation just a few miles from your home.  Our neighbor had a small cottage near the beach and would rent it to us at a discounted rate.  As I reflect back on these memories, it is no coincidence that we just happened to live by a neighbor who had a beach cottage. That is the favor of God on a strong Christian woman just trying to raise her girls.

One of my best memories was when she signed me up for college while I was on tour with the church singing group.  I told her as a wise 18-year-old girl, I just needed a semester off from school.  Funny.  She wasn’t having that. When I returned home, she informed me that I needed to go to the college and sign up for my classes because I was enrolled in Southeastern University.  Now that is a strong woman. She saw my potential.  I  graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree and became a teacher,  Then, I went on to earn a Master’s Degree and became and Assistant Principal and eventually a Principal.

During my first year as a Principal,  she needed heart surgery to replace a valve.  During the operation, she also needed a pacemaker/defibrillator to keep her heart beating.  She made it through the surgery.  However, she had to stay in the SICU twice as long as the surgeon anticipated. The total days in the hospital were also twice what the doctor anticipated. He had no explanation for the delay in her recovery. I visited daily and posted Bible verses on her encouragement board. I sat by her bed and begged God for more time with her. My prayers were answered. She is a fighter and she continues to fight every day.  She continues to exercise 3+ times per week.  It just took some time after surgery to regain her strength back. My mom is a 4 year survivor of heart valve replacement surgery.

In the 4 years since surgery, she has been blessed with 3 great-grandchildren.  I am blessed that she lives close enough to really know her great-grandchildren.  She visits them weekly and helps me on days that I have the kids. I value every minute with her. I am thankful for God’s favor on our lives and so blessed to write this tribute to my mom, the survivor, woman of God, and fabulous Meme.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LLStarner.

Be Blessed.

Laura

Celebration Update

He will be so happy!
He will be so happy!

Doug wanted a celebration at home with his family.  It’s easier that way.  The kids can be kids and have fun and play.  Madison had fun helping me make the cake.

Making a cake for Papa.
Making a cake for Papa.
Cracking eggs...Her mom taught her well.
Cracking eggs…Her mom taught her well.
Yucky eggs.
Yucky eggs.
We need more sprinkles!
We need more sprinkles!

Fun times for the kids!

…and a Happy Birthday to Papa!

Happy Birthday, Doug!

Let’s do it again next year!

Be Blessed.

Laura

Happy Birthday, Doug!

Happy Birthday, Doug!

Doug is:

  • kind
  • loving
  • a giver
  •  a helpmate
  • a caregiver (when needed)
  • a Godly example to our children and grandchildren
  • and my soulmate.
Handyman
Handyman
The Adventurer
The Adventurer
The Hunter
The Hunter
The family that hunts together...wears camo together.
The family that hunts together…wears camo together.
Dance partner at Paige's wedding
Dance partner at Paige’s wedding
Papa to our first grandchild, Madison
Papa to our first grandchild, Madison
My Soulmate
My Soulmate

I am blessed to be on this journey of life with him.

To be continued after his celebration tonight….

Who Knew?

My new look!
My new look!

Who knew that something as simple as a broken wrist would be so very challenging?  Not me.

With breast cancer,  the plan was set for the year, give or take a few port complications and a hospital visit.

4-RED Devil Chemos

4-Taxol and Herceptin

Herceptin to continue for a year

Surgery

Radiation (35 rads)

and go from there….

Broken Wrist

I was only told that I need a cast. Somewhere the communication regarding immobilization of your hand was totally left out.  What does it cause? In my case, every tendon from the wrist to the fingers needs to learn how to work again. (My interpretation of conversation with the Physical Therapist)

My observations…just a week ago, I noticed my 7 month old grandson working on the same fine motor skills that I was working on.

Benefits

I realize that I am blessed beyond my wildest dream.  I have a roof over my head, a family, friends and a MIGHTY GOD. Material possessions do not matter to me. It’s the daily blessings that go unnoticed such as tying your shoes.

Who knew? God knew. In Deuteronomy 33:26 (ESV) the Bible says: There is none like God…who rides through the heavens to your help.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope

Be Blessed.

Laura