Category Archives: survivor

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

I Am One in 15 Million!

Support Cancer Awareness
Support Cancer Awareness

Did you know that I am one in 15 million?  You may be one in 15 million, too. Yesterday, June 7, 2015, was National Cancer Survivors Day.

I am grateful to be a survivor of the dreaded disease.  I had a moment of celebration. Nothing fancy. No family cookout or barbecue. In fact, I simply posted on my Facebook page to inform others of the significance of the day and then I said a prayer.

It was a short prayer. I thanked God that he healed me and thanked him for continued healing every day. Prayer does not have to be a formal ritual. Prayer is just a conversation with God.  I talk to him like I talk to everyone else. I just say different things.

I celebrate  survivors of all cancers.  To go through cancer treatment, you have to be a warrior because you fight for your life.  I celebrate you or someone you know.

In the midst of celebration, I pause for a reality check and pray for those who are fighting this very minute for their life. My prayer for you is that you have strength, and are surrounded with support from family and friends. Please know that you are not alone. I do not know you but I pray for you every day.

Finally, I remember those who lost the battle with cancer and several come to mind.  I have to mention my friend, Nancy. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple years after me and lost the battle with breast cancer. I live every day to the fullest because I know she would tell me to do that. I walked in the Race For the Cure 5K in memory of her.

I walked in celebration of Cheryll and in memory of Nancy.
I walked in celebration of Cheryll and in memory of Nancy.

Celebrate those who survive.

Support those who fight.

Remember those who lost the battle because they would want you to live every day.

Even though I would rather not be a part of this statistic. I am grateful that I am one in 15 million.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at 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

Where Did My Eyelashes Go?

Not My Eyelashes...
Not My Eyelashes…

“Where did my eyelashes go?” I literally said this out loud just last week.  I was getting ready to meet one of my Origami Owl Jewelry Bars (party) hostesses and set up her party.  I was putting on my mascara and when I got to my right eye, I had a clump of eyelashes missing.  Obviously, the picture is not of me.

With all of the help for breast cancer survivors, why isn’t anyone concerned about eyelashes? As I have noticed over the 5 years since chemo, my eyebrows have thinned out, too. I see all of these tips in magazines for making your eyebrows and eyelashes fuller but what if you don’t have much to work with?

I remember being so self-conscious when my eyelashes fell out during chemo. After my 4th round of Red Devil Chemo, (Adriamycin), my eyelashes were gone and I did my best to compensate with eyeliner. I wore glasses so it wasn’t incredibly noticeable but I knew it.  I am 5 years out from that beast of a chemo (Red Devil) and thankful to be here.

Okay…my view/opinion about breast cancer… the very hormone, estrogen, that defines you as a woman ends up globbing together with other estrogen cells to become breast cancer. So the very hormone that makes you a woman, trys to kill you, and the treatment robs you of your hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and so much more. I hope you can infer that I find this entire concept, hideous, outrageous and unacceptable. However, I can’t change that so I will only give it this small paragraph.

Just wondering…we have the option to cover our scares with tattoos and some tattoo artist provide that service for free.  We’ve come a long way.

Just what about eyelashes and eyebrows. Can’t somebody help? Would a company step up and donate services to breast cancer survivors to donate eyelashes and free makeovers at least once a month?

Maybe, we will find a solution before someone else asks, ‘Where did my eyelashes go?”

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

Be Blessed.

Laura

Do You Evaluate Life Goals?

IMG_5067

Do you take time to evaluate life goals? April is a great month to evaluate the goals you made in January. Below is my post listing my goals for 2015 with an assessment after each goal.

2015 will hold many more firsts...some I don’t even know about.  My goal, not resolution, is very basic. My goal is to be healthy: body, mind and soul.

Body…I have been eating clean since July 1, 2014.  I have room for improvement in this area.  I am walking my first 5K, Race For A Cure, this month.  I hope to walk many 5K’s for different causes in 2015.  This time, I walk for all who are fighting breast cancer.  I walk to celebrate all survivors and to remember those who lost their battle to this horrible disease. It will be the first time that I will be recognized as a survivor.

  • Assessment of goal #1 BODY…
  • I did complete the 5K for Race For A Cure and received a ‘survivor’ shirt .
  • I did not realize that the survivors wore a different color shirt.  It was a very emotional day.  Complete strangers were cheering us on as we walked and after we crossed the finish line.  It was truly and amazing experience. I walked for all who are fighting breast cancer.  I walked to celebrate all survivors and to remember those who lost their battle to this horrible disease.
  • Below is a picture of my survivor shirt and medal.
  • Survivor shirt and survivor medal for completing 5K.

Mind…I want to continue to fill my life with positive influences and have the courage to leave the negative influences behind.  The words you speak over your life are very telling.  When my girls were little, I would speak into them positive statements..

  • when you go to college…not if you go to college
  • when you get a car…not if you get a car
  • God has your plan…don’t worry
  • also, you could be president if you wanted to…

The world was open to them.

  • Assessment of goal #2 MIND….
  • I have let go of negative relationships and only nuture positive relationships.  A sense of freedom comes when you surround yourself with positive influences.

Soul…For me, this is my most important area.  I want to spend more time in my devotions seeking God’s direction. I want peaceful relationships with those in my inner circle.  Finally after 3 years, I am making progress toward peace with my dad’s death.  I was going to go see him on Saturday but he died on Monday.  I missed my opportunity. (This also comes under ‘mind’) For me, my soul still aches from that decision but I know he is in heaven.

  • Assessment of goal #3 SOUL…
  • I continue to find opportunities to improve. I continue to seek God and his perfect will for my life.  I still miss my dad and things don’t get easier but I become more thankful for the time that I was given with him.

Take pride in how far you’ve come and have faith in how far you can go. In all of life’s craziness, remember to enjoy the journey.

April is a great month to evaluate your progress on life goals for 2015. 

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

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

5K Adventures

My nails are ready for my 1st 5K.  I am participating in Race For A Cure. Yay!
My nails are ready for my 1st 5K. I am participating in Race For A Cure. Yay!

This is a partial post from my New Years Day blog.

  • 2015 will hold many more firsts...some I don’t even know about.  My goal, not resolution, is very basic. My goal is to be healthy: body, mind and soul.
  • Body…I have been eating clean since July 1, 2014.  I have room for improvement in this area.  I am walking my first 5K, Race For A Cure, this month.  I hope to walk many 5K’s for different causes in 2015.  This time, I walk for all who are fighting breast cancer.  I walk to celebrate all survivors and to remember those who lost their battle to this horrible disease. It will be the first time that I will be recognized as a survivor.

I am so excited to participate in this 5K. I was brave enough to be recognized as a survivor.  These are big steps for me.  I will let you know how it goes.

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

Be Blessed.

Laura

UPDATE…

5K Race For The Cure, 2015

The Rack Pack ...Saving 2nd Base Since 2012
The Rack Pack …Saving 2nd Base Since 2012
Breast cancer survivors. Me 6 years (L), Mary 10 years (R) Waiting for the race to start...in the rain.
Breast cancer survivors. Me 6 years (L), Mary 10 years (R) Waiting for the race to start…in the rain.
All survivors 5+ years.
All survivors 5+ years.
Walking in the 5+ year survivor parade.
Walking in the 5+ year survivor parade.
Before the race, waiting in the rain.
Before the race, waiting in the rain.
1 mile marker!  Rain rain go away!
1 mile marker! Rain rain go away!
2 mile marker. Yay!
2 mile marker. Yay!
3 mile marker! Woohoo! Almost done.
3 mile marker! Woohoo! Almost done.
Survivors after the race.  We made it!
Survivors after the race. We made it!
After the race, celebrating with Jessica.  She really encouraged me the entire time. Thanks, Jessica.
After the race, celebrating with Jessica. She really encouraged me the entire time. Thanks, Jessica.

I did not realize that the survivors wore a different color shirt.  It was a very emotional day.  Complete strangers were cheering us on as we walked and after we crossed the finish line.  It was truly and amazing experience. I walked for all who are fighting breast cancer.  I walked to celebrate all survivors and to remember those who lost their battle to this horrible disease.

Below are pictures on my survivor shirt and medal.  Also, a picture of  who I celebrate (Cheryll) and I walked in memory of (Nancy).

Survivor shirt and survivor medal for completing 5K.
Survivor shirt and survivor medal for completing 5K.
I was # 737.
I was # 737.
I walked in celebration of Cheryll and in memory of Nancy.
I walked in celebration of Cheryll and in memory of Nancy.

Take pride in how far you’ve come and have faith in how far you can go. In all of life’s craziness, remember to enjoy the journey.

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

Be Blessed.

Laura

Survivor…6 Year Celebration

On 12/26/14, I am a 6 year breast cancer survivor from diagnosis! Yay!
On 12/26/14, I am a 6 year breast cancer survivor from diagnosis! Yay!

The best Christmas present I could have is to be here to write this post on my blog today.  As of tomorrow,  I am a 6 year breast cancer survivor from the date of diagnosis. I am thankful, blessed, humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude. Be Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Laura

6  year breast cancer survivor
6 year breast cancer survivor