Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Not only does October 1st begins Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it also begins a season of hope for cancer research and hope for a cure. I could go on and on about the importance of taking care of yourself and doing monthly self-examinations of your breast but I am going to leave you with this thought, the breast you squeeze can actually save your life! Take time to have your annual breast Mammogram after the ago of forty or younger if your Mother or Grandmother died of Breast Cancer. Yes, it’s temporarily uncomfortable but as uncomfortable as fighting for life against cancer.

This month I will be posting reflections about cancer, lots of facts about cancer and providing resources for cancer survivors. I promise it’s not a time to sulk, it’s a time to come together and celebrate cancer survivors and create opportunities to love and support those currently in the fight for there lives!

I think we all agrees that CANCER SUCKS but together we can help KICK CANCERS ASS! Join me, tell friends, show up in pink on Fridays at your office and show everyone that you are on a mission to SAVE THE TA-TA’S!!!

Love,
Sammie
XOXO

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L’amoure ~ Writing on Edge prompt 9/29/11

(Write a piece – fiction or creative non-fiction – based on your reaction to either of these photos. Or both. Word limit is…600)

I strolled along the streets of New Orleans taking in its splendor and history. Walking in Jackson Square among the quadroons and octoroons assured that I was safe among my people as we headed past St. Louis Cathedral in the Quarters. Ladies in their finest dresses and men in their best suits greeting each other with a familiar knod as they pass each other while acknowledging their heritage in this small but exclusive society.

Tonight is my debut at Bal de Cordon Bleu. The most elite French Men have arrived at Madame John’s Grand Ball Room to welcome the newest debutante’s and to court us until we select a mate. My Mother said that I was born for this. L’amoure was how I was created and l’amoure will be my quest tonight. Being born to a free woman of color and an illegitimate daughter of a Frenchman has made me a valuable commodity to any man! My porcelain skin, regal nose, long sun streaked hair and pale grey eyes turned many heads in the quarters. I was groomed under my Mother’s adoring eye, and provided the best education with private French tutors at my Father’s expense. I was swathed in satin, silk and fine damask preparing me to become the mistress of a Quadroon, who would cherish me and lavish his love upon me with large quantities of jewels, a home and money in the bank as a part of his legacy.

I entered the Grand Ballroom, as they called my name, Mademoiselle Evangeline Thibeaux. The men quickly gathered at the bottom of the staircase before I descended. Tall, well-built men. Short, skinny men. Refined young Creole men, educated in France with thick French accents coming to select their lovers, the woman that they will start their first families with, the woman he will hunger for when he is older and laying in his marital bed with his wife and the woman he will love until his death. I smiled at each of the men as I stared them in their greedy eyes, knowing that they desired my purity and lusted for my body. Then I saw him and my heart fluttered. His awkward glance drew me in. He was tall and muscular and skin as delicate and pale as alabaster, an obvious product of selective breeding. He exuded confidence and a proper upbringing, which oozed from his pores along with his fine french cologne.

I knodded my head and said, “Misseau,” as I made my bow.

“Mademoiselle Thibeaux, you look lovely this evening. I am Misseau Luc Broussard.”

“Very please to meet you Misseau Broussard!” I said as I placed my hand in his and he pulled me close.

The noise in the room disappeared as we began to speak. My Mother came over to interview him and to find out about his people. Other men approached me, but I knew that he was the one. The house girl brought out oysters and champagne for Mother, Luc, and me and we said a toast to celebrate our arrangement. Glasses began to clink around the room and well wishers came over to congratulate us. He stood up and pulled me into his arms, planted a passionate kiss and announced, “She said yes!” He pulled out his pocket knife, pricked his finger drawing blood, then he pricked my finger as my Mother joined our bleeding fingers together binding the two of us as one.

L’amoure Luc and Evangeline!

Song of the Week — OPTIMISTIC by Sounds of Blackness

Wow it’s Monday already! So many things to be grateful for. So many things to appreciate that people have done for me. So many reasons to keep my head up and be

OPTIMISTIC!

The economy has definitely taken a bite out of my livelihood, my personal finances and my daily way of living. When people lose their jobs they don’t need childcare and when people don’t need childcare — I have an employment problem.

Just two months ago, I sat in my Town & Country with airbags deployed all around me and the engine and other car parts from under the hood sitting at my right hand inside of my demolished van. I was banged up, bruised bit not broken! My van was totaled but I survived.

My job was eliminated due to low enrollment, and I was offered a lower position with much less pay. A couple of weeks later I had a panic attack as I approached my new car and was about to get in to go to my job. My employers were less than understanding and I was extremely frustrated as I finished my last days of my employment with them but I survived and I got a better, higher paying job.

Live has not gone like I planned this summer but I kept pushing harder. I kept things in perspective. I suffered with unimaginable pain, but I took each day to remind myself that I’m still here. It was my optimism and faith in the midst of sorrow, chaos, and uncertainty that ultimately prevailed and led me to a new job, a new car, and a new understanding of who I am and how much I could bare. I know on the days when I didn’t have the strength to get up, it was GOD who carried me. It was GOD who kept food on our table, and friends at my beck and call.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in sadness, but we have to hold onto our dreams and keep our vision while remembering who we are, what we are capable of, and most of all remembering WHO we belong to! We were created to live in the winner’s circle, regardless of how hard our reality seems.

You can win, as long as you keep your head to the sky. Be OPTIMISTIC!

Love,
Sammie
xoxoxo

OPTIMISTIC Lyrics
Keep, keep On…. Never Say Die….

When in the midst of sorrow
You can’t see up when looking down
A brighter day tomorrow will bring
You hear the voice of reason
Telling you this can never be done
No matter how hard reality seems
Just hold on to your dreams

Don’t give up and don’t give in
Although it seems you never win
You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky

Be optimistic

If things around you crumble
No, you don’t have to stumble and fall
Keep pushing on and don’t you look back
I know the storms and strife
Cloud up your outlook on life
Just think ahead and you’ll be inspired
To reach higher and higher.

You’ll always do your best
If you learn to never say never
You maybe down, but you’re not out.
Don’t give up and don’t give in
Although it seems you never win
You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky (you can win child!)
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky

Be optimistic
Don’t you let nobody stop you…..
Be optimistic
You can win, Yes
Never say die….

10 Ways to Support Parents After the Death of a Child

The loss of a child(ren) is life changing.  There is no greater sorrow one can experience. The loss of a child is like a sucker punch to the throat, its takes your breath away, it aches to breathe and it hurts to swallow.  It doesnt matter if the child died in the womb, during birth, in a tragic car accident or at the will of a random bullet meant for the local drug runner or gang member — it just fucking hurts!  There is no way to compare the feelings of such loss based on the circumstances of the child or children’s death.  To try and assign the weight or a degree of pain to a parent for the loss of their child is asinine. It seems unfathomable that people attempt to do this but I assure you that they do!  The love a parent has for a child who dies is unconditional, profound and lasts an eternity.   Such loss can leave family, friends and a community speechless, stunned and scrambling to find peace and understanding that may never come.

If you are looking for ways to support someone who has lost a child here are a few suggestions.  Please note that there are hundreds of things that people can do to help, but these are my simple ways and they will not be the answer to healing the depression, grief and overwhelming feelings of loss that a parent feels.  These are just ways for you to acknowledge this loss and show that you care.

1. Acknowledge The Parents Loss

Lift them up in prayer. Send them your positive energy. Send them a card, flowers or a monetary donation if there is a burial or scholarship fund set up in memory of the child/children.

2. Listen To Them
Listen to the parents as they talk about their loss or memories child/children. Allow them to share their feelings with you.  Offer hugs and a pair of ears to help ease their pain.

3. Cook A Meal For Them
After such loss it is easy for parents to be overwhelmed.  Offering and preparing a simple meal can help them with self-care and will provide them with the nutrition they will need to deal with their loss.

4. Invite Them Out To An Activity
Invitations to get out of the house will probably be declined but keep asking!  The goal is to get them out to participate in an activity, preferably an adult activity without children present.  Invite them to your home for cards or a board game. Ask to meet them at a coffee shop, or ask them to take a walk with you at a park.  Keep asking them, don’t barrage them but ask them at least once a week.

5. Plant a Tree in Memory of the Child
Call the Arbor Society or visit http://www.arborday.org and pay to plant a tree in honor of the child.

6. Make a Donation
Donate to a local school that they attended, a charity that helps children, or the Pediatrics Department at the local hospital in honor of the child/children. In these tight budget times, donations are needed and what better way to honor the family than to remember their child by helping another child.

7. Ask them, “How Can I Help You?”
Ask them if they need you to do anything specific for them. Tell them that you want to help them.

8. Speak Out For Children!
Become an advocate for children.  Speak out against community violence, talk about children’s diseases or become an advocate for change to protect and enhance the lives of children.

9. Offer Resources To Help the Parents, Family and Community to Heal.
Attend a grief support meeting with your friend.  Ask a grief counselor to meet with the family or community if necessary so that people can begin to process their feelings.  This is really helpful when children die after long illnesses or under violent circumstances. Children touch a community and sometimes it’s the community that needs to heal.

10. Just be there for them.
Finally, I say it’s just so important to just be there for the parents.  Let them know that they are not alone. Let them know that they are lived and cared for.  Let them know that YOU are there and you share their loss.

If you know someone who has lost a child or children please be present for them and comfort them as best you can. You may feel there is nothing you can do for them, but being there for them can and often does mean the world to them and it can truly help them begin to heal.

New children after the loss of a child /children, is a blessing but it is never a replacement of those who are gone. This article was written because I am feeling the need to give a special thanks to those who’ve helped and a wonderful Congratulations to my friend Lani and her hubby and the impending birth of their child after losing their child.  I know Silas is watching over his sibling from heaven.

Song of the Week — YES by Musiq Soulchild

Music has the power transcend you from your current mood and transport you to a magical place or carry you away to a great memory from your past.  Music’s influence and power are so profound in my life that I am truly honored to pay homage to the songs that have influenced me, carry me through difficult time or plain just make me forget my age and make me shake my tail-feather!

Enjoy as I begin to take you on an eclectic musical journey.

Love,

Sammie

I just saw this video this morning and I was absolutely floored! I always loved the song but seeing this video through the eyes of a woman who has lived with cancer — it is just mind-blowing.

The intimate relationship between partners dramatically shifts once cancer enters the picture. It is not just a journey for the woman with breast cancer, it affects everyone surrounding her — but most especially her partner who usually silently struggles with her while battling their own fears, insecurities, feelings of loss and uncertainty. Some relationships don’t survive cancer but for those that do, it is truly a blessing to know “The answer is yes, I’ll still think you’re beautiful…”

“Yes” Lyrics by Musiq Soulchild

Let me get this out the way
so there ain’t no complications
later on for us, no
Look, I know things don’t stay the same
People grow and seasons change, but
when it comes to love
don’t you feel like
you ever gotta worry about
my feelings changing for you all the time
’cause when I say I’m here
girl, I mean it.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

‘Cause I love you
All I care about is your happiness,
so the answer is yes.

People just don’t stick around (no)
build you up and let you down, but
I’m not one of those, no (girl)
I understand that you’ve been burned (before)
Honesty is what you deserve (so much more) yea
and so that’s what I’m giving you, girl.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes
When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.

I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

Now, if you ask
will I go (no)
when you need me most (no)
the answer is no
I’m dedicated to what we have
but will I be here
the way that I promise
I’ll say with no fear
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes, and
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess
The answer is yes.

September (A Cancer Reflection)

I woke up anticipating Fall today. The air is crisp. Leaves are beginning to change on the trees on my front and back yards. My children are in already in school. Soccer season has started and here I sit in the waiting room of the Breast Cancer Center waiting for my Mom to complete a test and second mammogram.

I’d like to say this was an abnormal day but it’s not! I’ve spent way to many days sitting in a waiting room just like this one for both myself and my Mom.

Yesterday was my best friend Belle’s birthday and it also marked the one year anniversary of my Mom’s breast cancer surgery. I didn’t celebrate either occasion with an outing. I just felt the need to write and tell both Belle and my Mom exactly what they meant to me. As I wrote notes to each of them and completed an article for a deadline, I just kept hearing Earth Wind and Fire singing “Ba de ya, say you do remember.”

Well I did remember! I remembered that some of the best and worst times of my life took place in September. I remembered that I survived those times and I remembered the love that surrounded me, and my Mom and Belle.

Soon I was singing and remembering: my first true love, Sunday dinners, hope, sweet stolen kisses, high school basketball games, Cal football games, high school dances, FAITH, weddings, mimosas, children born and children lost, courage, music loud and strong like laughter in my soul, the kindness of strangers, FAMILY (birth family and extended family), healing, FAITH, leaves turning, the new school year, new uniforms and clothes for school, FAITH, seasons changing, love changing and life changing!

“Do you remember the 21st night of September?” Pick a year, any year but remember the beginning of Fall and all of it’s splendor. Remember there is a season for everything under heaven. Cherish it! Honor it! Embrace it! Live it! Love it! There is a time for all of us and a reason for each of us to be here on earth and our existence matters. We are more than our enemies negative thoughts. We are more that our daily successes. We were created for a reason and our purpose in life is as specific as each leaf that falls from a tree before fall turns it’s supple branches and brilliant foliage to brittle barren winter twigs.

Well, my Mom is done with her appointment and it looks like we will be coming here more often to suffer, fight and heal. She just scheduled her ultrasound guided biopsy to remove the mass in her right breast and determine its stage of cancer. We will come back here on October 6th.

But for now we will reflect and sing through our September and remember just how much CANCER SUCKS!!!!!

“Do you remember… dancing in September … never was a cloudy day…”

Reflection on 9/11 — It Seemed Like Yesterday

It seemed like yesterday. I waddled my seven month pregnant self down the hallway to the bathroom while my family slept over at my parents house and I heard my Dad gasp at 5:55am PST. I quickly asked what was wrong as I peaked into the living room and my Dad looked stunned. “There was an accident in New York City,” he said. Nature called and my unborn daughter pressed upon my bladder and I rushed to the bathroom. I had heard what my Dad said, but I was not prepared for what I saw when I came out of the bathroom.

My Mother was awake by then, preparing morning coffee for my husband and my Grandmother who was visiting us from Chicago. I sat down on the couch of my childhood home and gazed at the television in terror. The first tower had been hit at 8:48am EST (5:48am PST) by a plane and the building was engulfed in flames. I stared at my Dad and he shook his head and I knew exactly what he was thinking. He was a Civil Engineer and the look on his face told me that the building would not stand very long and the survival rate for anyone above the point of impact was pretty grim.

I held my stomach tightly and cried. Dad called his office and asked if they needed any help, he was quickly informed that all non-essential government offices were closed until further notice. The television was now showing live video of the carnage of the North Tower and in a blink of an eye — we witnessed a plane strike the South Tower at 9:03am EST (6:03am PST). I shrieked in horror and I knew my normal American life would never be the same! “This is a terrorist attack,” I said and my Dad quickly agreed. Again, he called his office and said that he was ready to be deployed to New York if necessary as he watched in disbelief.

The next few minutes were filled with an absolute obsession for news. Images streamed live on the television. Theories were discussed around the cocktail table and the entire time my soul cried out, “THIS IS WAR!” By now my husband was awake. There was talk of our family moving to Canada because of his dual citizenship. My Dad talked about the building materials and composition and the amount of time it would take for a building of that size to fall based on the impact of the planes, the flames that now engulfed the building and the design and fire safety regulations and then it happened just as my Dad predicted, the South Tower fell at 9:59am EST (6:59am PST).

THIS IS WAR!, I thought. I ran to the guest room and kissed my children and I stood against the wall and slid to the floor as I held my belly, cried some more and told my daughter, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you will be born into this craziness!” All of my hopes for my children changed in that moment. Every dream I’d ever had for them disappeared and all I could pray for and think about was their safety. I cried for the loss of my children’s innocence. I cried for the loss of my own security. I cried because something this terrible and life altering had happened on American soil and in MY LIFETIME! “THIS IS WAR!” I thought again and again and again!

The days that followed 9/11 have been filled with: mourning, triumphs, resilience, loss, memories of love, anger, celebrations of heroes and life, patriotism and of course war for America. The towers have fallen and World Trade Center’s lights have dimmed and been replaced by a beautiful 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero where ashes once remained. Today 9/11 is a day of National Service and a day that I will never forget! Even though I did not know anyone that died in the Twin Towers, I mourn for each and every one of them. I grieve with their families. I cry for the children that have never meet their Dad’s because of this tragic day when our world stopped. I thank each and every first responders that ran into the Twin Towers to save someone when everyone else was running out. I thank every American that took up arms to defend our country and our freedom. But most of all I thank each and every American that banded together to help their neighbors, to help the affected families and to help our country heal!

Just Being Me — A Mother’s Response to Bullying

This summer has been difficult. There I said it! It has been challenging in ways that I have never experienced and that truly says a lot if you have read anything about me. It started at my son’s fifth grade graduation luncheon when the girl that teased him mercilessly because he had ADHD and Dyslexia for four years walked into our private luncheon to say goodbye and give him some candy after being told that she was not welcome to do so.

Much to my chagrin, this mean-spirited girl walked into our banquet room and I completely lost it! As a teacher, I have never allowed myself to become that angry at a child but: after four years of explaining that my son learns differently, staying up late nights with him to complete his homework only to receive it back with her rude scribblings on it, coaxing him to go back to school and to continue to try his best, lifting his spirits when his spirit was broken and he felt like giving up on everything and remembering the alienation from his classmates that she had caused with her brutal teasing — I LOST IT! I became completely undone. I was filled with so much anger it scared me. If I didn’t have the help of my two “girls” I don’t know what I would have done. My son’s response was much more gracious, he accepted her candy, retrieved it after I threw it across the room, waited for her to leave and then tossed it in the garbage.

I could not process my emotions. I was flooded and bitter over the miserable experiences she had created for our family. I’m not good at asking for help. I never have been. It’s hard to for me to accept my weak moments. I know that it is okay to have them and they rarely get this out of control. I know it’s okay to ask for help, but it’s just something that I am going to have to learn to do because I don’t do it well.

I had intended for this post to be a little bit different and I’ve struggled writing it for the past two days. I’m being completely honest and putting four years of pain and struggles out there for the public to see. I am the parent of a child with learning differences, I accept that! This is not the last time that he and I will face adversity together. This is not the last time that this will affect our family. But I am acknowledging the pain that I felt for my son, my heart, and my little angel because he is just like everyone else — he just learns differently! He is sweet, kind, empathetic, helpful, a great storyteller and struggling with who he is because of the challenges of his learning differences.

As for me, I am not proud of what happened. It is what it is. I am what and who I am. I feel what I feel. I am working hard to gain control over my actions when my child is attacked. All of that is okay as well! I’m learning to ask for help, I am learning that it is okay to have someone support me and that just has to be enough.