Category Archives: family

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

Missing My Dad!

Daddy and Me
Daddy and Me

I have been missing my dad for a while.  I am stopping by his grave on Sunday, Father’s Day.

My dad was:

The Broker…car salesman.  He could sell you a car even if you couldn’t drive.

Champion Bowler – He loved to bowl and won various tournaments back in the day.

#1 Papa – He loved my girls.  He loved for them to come and swim at his house.  He often drove to their softball games if they were local.

The Grillmaster – My daddy made the best ribs in the south. (my opinion) He is the only reason that I eat porterhouse steak.  He made the best ribs and porterhouse.

My dad passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack.  I miss him every day.  I see his eyes in the great-grandson who he never met.  He saw the one who made him great, my granddaughter, but he passed away when she was 5 months old.

I know my dad is in heaven and that I will be reunited with him one day.  He would tell me to slow down and enjoy every minute of every day. I invite you to do the same.

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….

Art From The Heart

FullSizeRender (2)

I was at the clinic earlier this week and I dropped by the chemo lab to say “Hi” to the nurses. I recognized at least 5 of the nurses. They are truly caring individuals. The nurse who gave me the best advice during chemo has moved and no longer works there. That advice was “Don’t be a hero.”

I noticed that some new ceiling tiles were painted. I found out that cancer patients and their families painted all of the ceiling tiles. When I was getting my chemo treatments, I sat in a recliner with my feet up and listened to my praise and worship music.  When I opened my eyes I was staring at the ceiling, a ceiling of ‘art from the heart’. What an inspiration!

FullSizeRender (3)

IMG_0280

FullSizeRender (6)

IMG_0279

Ring The Bell

During my visit, a patient completed her last chemo and got to ring the bell.

RINGING OUT Ring this bell Three times well A toll to clearly say My treatment is done This course is run And I am on my way
RINGING OUT
Ring this bell
Three times well
A toll to clearly say
My treatment is done
This course is run
And I am on my way

I had tears in my eyes as her husband took pictures of her ringing the bell and pictures of her with the nurses.

I remember that chapter in my life…that feeling of relief.  As I moved to the next chapter in my life, I became more grateful and thankful.

Now I am going to add a ceiling tile to the collection of ‘Art From The Heart’.

Be Blessed.

Laura

No Matter What

Wearing my awesome new geek glasses tonight at work. Equip with multiplication and division signs. Not pictured the equal signs on each side. I love them!
Wearing my awesome new geek glasses tonight at work. Equip with multiplication and division signs. Not pictured the equal signs on each side. I love them!

No matter what, I will always trust God.  I have been going through a challenging time with my broken wrist and my beautiful daughter posted these song lyrics on her FB page. WOW! It was just in time to put things in perspective for me.  I was encouraged by my little girl. Life is so good.

“I’m running back to your promises one more time. Lord that’s all I can hold on to.

I gotta say this has taken me by surprise.

But nothing surprises YOU.

Before a heartache can ever touch my life,

it has to go through Your hands

And even though I keep asking why

No matter what, I’m, gonna love You

No matter what I’m gonna need You

I know You can find a way to keep me from pain. But if not, I’ll trust You. No matter what.”

No Matter What by Kerrie Roberts

Let me tell you about Kelsey. She is an amazing young woman. She is kind and compassionate.  When she was a child, she would write a poem for everyone at Christmas. She exudes a kindness and unselfishness that is very rare. She is an encourager. She is also very brilliant. She has a Biology Degree from one of the elite educational programs in the Southeast. (Hence the math symbols on her glasses.) She posts the most amazing things on FB and I am going to add a page to this site for her.  It’s coming soon.

Be encouraged.  God is with you no matter what.

I invite you to like my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

The Life Saving Loofah

Life saving loofah..now retired
Life saving loofah..now retired

Pictured above is the life saving loofah.

It was a normal morning in November of 2008.  I was in the shower getting ready for the day.  I reached for my loofah (bath sponge) and shower gel.  No loofah!  It was across the bathroom in the tub and I was in a hurry so I just put some shower gel in my hand.  As I moved my hand under my right arm, I felt a lump.  I thought to myself…that’s odd.  Then I compared it to the left side and something was definitely different with my right side.  I quickly got dressed and went to work.

By the time I was able to contact my primary care doctor, I had an appointment for the first week in December.  My primary care doctor sent me for a CAT scan suspecting that it was lymphoma and a mammogram just to be on the safe side.  I just had a mammogram in March and I was very vigilant to get one every year. During the mammogram, a lump was detected in my right breast and two suspicious masses in my right axilla (under arm).  I scheduled a biopsy before I left. In the meantime, I got ready for Christmas and for Paige’s (my eldest daughter) graduation from nursing school.  

Biopsy Results

On December 26, 2008, the on call doctor told me that I had breast cancer!  He was very apologetic for delivering the news over the phone.  Of course I was full of questions like… How bad is it?  What stage is it?  What now?  He told me that he didn’t know how to read the pathology report but that he didn’t want me to worry.  (Really?  Didn’t want me to worry?)  He went on to say that many of his patients were 10, 20 and even 30 years breast cancer survivors. An appointment was scheduled with a Surgical Oncologist for Monday.  It was Friday and I had to wait until Monday to find out details.  All I could think about was how would I tell my husband, children, mother, other family members and friends.

After I hung up the phone, tears streamed down my face. I sat in the front room and stared out the window and I prayed!  I remembered a song that we used to sing in church when I was a little girl.

  • Peace, peace, wonderful peace coming down from the Father above.
  • Sweep over my spirit forever I pray in fathomless billows of love.

You see…I am a believer…a Christian…a person of strong faith and I prayed….

Telling Others of My Diagnosis

When Doug came home from work, I told him that I indeed had breast cancer.  I don’t remember his full reaction but I know he told me that everything would be alright.  We told the girls that night and I totally recall their reaction.  Kelsey (17), my youngest, just sat there and looked at me and Paige (21), the eldest, said, “So you are going to die?”   I replied, “I don’t plan to die.  God will heal me.” The next night Doug and I went to tell my mom.  I didn’t want to give her that news over the phone.  Doug’s side of the family was in New Mexico so I had to tell them by phone.

When you receive a diagnosis of cancer, your life changes forever. It took years for me to be able to talk about my diagnosis and progress without tearing up.  Now, I am ready to share my story and help others. One of my favorite verses is: 1 Timothy 4:16 (Living Bible) “Keep a close watch on all you do and think.  Stay true to what is right and God will use you to help others.”

I am so thankful for the life saving loofah.

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

Be Blessed.

Laura

Is Everything Okay?

Survivor flowers (6 years) from Kelsey and Josh waiting for me at home after my appointment this week..
Survivor flowers (6 years) from Kelsey and Josh waiting for me at home after my appointment this week..

Is Everything Okay? 

That is what I asked Dr. Wonderful (Hematologist-Oncologist) this week. I had my 6 month visit.

Usually, it goes well but this time when I asked her if everything was okay she said, “I don’t know.”  The next 24 hours are a blur. She ordered an ultrasound but the Women’s Center made me get a mammogram, too.  Mammograms are so painful for me.

The time leading up to the ultrasound seemed like weeks even though it was only 24 hours.

My initial reaction to everything sent me right back to where I was 6 years ago.  I was so upset.  I had a few minutes where the doubt began to creep in my mind.  When I came home I told my husband about the ultrasound. Also, I told him that if I needed a biopsy that I was going to cancel….STOP RIGHT THERE…

Then I said, “NO…I’m not going to cancel anything.  If I need to fight this battle again, I will not change my schedule.”  He encouraged me that it was going to be okay.

While waiting for the appointment, I prayed, spent some time with my grandchildren, and listened to praise and worship music.

Kelsey apologized for the 6 year survivor flowers on the counter that were waiting for me when I came home from the appointment.  I told her that we will celebrate the 6 year survival until we know different.  That is the first time I had flowers waiting after a doctors appointment. It was so thoughtful of Kelsey and Josh and made me feel so awesome.

Is everything okay?  I am thankful to report…YES, Yes it is.  I was reminded this week of just how precious life is…just how undeserving I am to have this second chance…just how blessed I am by a supportive husband and daughters…just how blessed I am by my three grandchildren…and the promise in Joel 2:25…”God can restore what is broken…”

Is everything okay?  YES!

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

Be Blessed.

Laura

Do you collect things or make memories?

...so brave on Splash Mountain.  Aunt Kelsey is very excited!
…so brave on Splash Mountain. Aunt Kelsey is very excited!

We had a special Valentine’s Day making and collecting memories and not things. My son-in-law serves in the United States Navy and he and my daughter are here on leave.  It is the first time they have been home in about 14 months.

Kelsey, my youngest daughter, wanted to take her niece to Disney World for the day.  It just happened to be on Valentine’s Day.  So we made it a family day.  The more the merrier as they say. We had so many special moments that we will remember forever: the look on Madison’s face when she went on Splash Mountain or the look on her face when Elsa, Anna, Minnie Mouse and The Little Mermaid blew her a kiss during the Princess Parade.

One of my favorite moments was when she hugged Kelsey for no reason at all. Now that’s a special moment!  Just thinking about it makes me smile.

...with Aunt Kelsey in front of Cinderella's Castle
…with Aunt Kelsey in front of Cinderella’s Castle

This next  picture is of my mom with Madison.  My mom is the original Meme.  Paige named her Meme.  I remember the exact moment that Paige said ‘Meme’ instead of ‘Grandma’ and my mom said, ‘That’s my name.”

...with Great Meme
…with Great Meme

I always write…here’s my mom with the one who made her ‘great’ because when my grandfather touched Paige’s little hand for the first time he said, “Did you know that you are the one who made me ‘great’?”  All of these moments are etched in my memory.

Here is a great quote….

1125 happiest peolpe

Think about your moments and memories.  If they are starting to fade, write them down.  It doesn’t have to be a fancy journal.  It can just be a spiral notebook.

I remember special moments all day.. it’s just that special moment that makes you smile when you think about it.

So…do you collect things or make memories?

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

Be Blessed.

Laura