Reflections ~ Biopsy Results: Gratitude Journal #9

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This past week has been very emotional! I spent most of it waiting for my biopsy results. I was in good shape for the most part, until Wednesday came. I felt anxiety creeping in as I began to think about how these results were going to change my life. I waited for the Nurse Practitioner to call me with the results and the morning whirled by and my anxiety began rising. The office’s lunch period quickly came and went and I decided to call if I hadn’t heard from her by 2:00pm.

Finally, the call I’d waited for six days finally came. I was so nervous as I answered the telephone. My stomach was in knots as I thought about the possibilities that were before me. Benign or Cancerous? Radiation or Chemo and a Full Hysterectomy, or just a Full Hysterectomy. I gasped for air as she began explaining the results of my biopsy. She stated that what looked like fibroid tissue was in fact endometrial tissue growing deep with in the uterine wall. The baffling thing is there was no blood source attached to the growth, but the great thing about the mass was it was COMPLETELY BENIGN!

BENIGN. Yes, it was benign! I was transferred to the scheduler to get my Hysterectomy date, and we confirmed May 10th. I will stay over at the hospital for one night and then I will be released to go home and all of this ordeal will be OVER!!!!

I spent Wednesday night celebrating my results! I called friends, sent text messages and took pictures to remember this moment. I needed to remember THIS moment! I needed to remember how I was feeling at the moment I heard that the mass within me was benign. I will always remember this moment and I am so grateful that I have had a wonderful medical team that always listens to me and advocates for my best health.

I am so grateful for my family and friends for their support. I am especially grateful that this entire process will soon be a part of my past.

I do not have uterine cancer — whew it feels great to be able to say that! But I have to acknowledge the thousands of women that are diagnosed with uterine cancer and cervical cancer because my heart pours out to you. The mental anguish that one suffers through the discovery process is unbelievable. My prayers are with you and your families!

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Reflections ~ On My Surgery Day

The morning started early at six a.m. yet everyone lagged along in an effort not to get ready. Perhaps it was dread of the day before us, anxiety or just fear but gloom definitely filled the air of my home.

Traffic to the hospital was horrendous, maybe this is GOD’s way of telling me to go back home. I pull out my cell phone and click on Twitter. I catch up on reading a few posts: @JuliaRobers1 (Firing My Pediatrician), reading about the exclusion of @JessBWatson daughter from the Soccer Team and I checked in with @addyeb about her vacation. My anxiety is starting to rise and my fear is I won’t make it on-time for my registration check-in.

***

My Mom left me at patient drop off and I made a mad dash up to the third floor for my Hysteroscopy. I’m feeling afraid and anxious as I enter the elevator and arrive at my floor. I find the registration desk and I see the clock.

I MADE IT WITH ONE MINUTE TO SPARE!

At the desk a nurse named Kathline was there and in the background softly playing I heard I HEAR THE SOUND OF VICTORY (one of my previous Song Of The Week posts). GOD is a comforter and healer I tell you. I know I’m gonna be just fine!

***

I’m all checked and dressed in my Bairpaws Hospital Gown that has a heater attachment – how cool is this! Pre-op Nurse Neila begins verify my name, birthdate, type of surgery that I having today and we go over my consent forms prior to me signing them. My Mom has joined me now and I tell her that she has been nominated and will be honored as Mother of the Year by a local sorority. She is surprised and thrilled at the same time, she deserves this honor and I am so proud of her!

My surgical nurse named Joseph comes into my room and introduces himself. He verifies my identification, goes over my consent forms and tells me we are going to walk over to the ambulatory surgery wing. I say goodbye to my Mom and I head over to the ambulatory surgery waiting room and my Mom goes over to the Surgical Waiting Room.

Once I arrive at my surgical prep pod, I meet my anesthesiologist, surgical intern, the ultrasound radiologist and of course my gynecologist to briefly discuss my surgery, answer questions, and get the party started in the operating room. I wait another two minutes or so and Joseph (my surgical nurse) walks me into the OR.

***

The room is freezing, green tiles are on the walls, the overhead lights are extremely bright and a there is a hole in the middle of the table and I am told to place my bottom above the hole so that when the table is lifted and my legs are raised the surgical team will have access to my “womanly parts.” I hop on the table and get into position. My teeth begin to chatter and Joseph hooks up the heater attachment to my Bairpaws gown and cover me with blankets. The anesthesiologist inserts my IV and we talk a little as the medicine kicks in, I am pleasantly surprised to find out that my anesthesiologist, gynecologist, and general practitioner/primary care physician were interns together at The University California San Francisco (UCSF), and that they all currently have surgical privileges at California Pacific Medical Center, which is where I am having surgery. I relax and quit fighting my drowsiness knowing that I am in excellent hands!

***

I wake and find my gynecologist standing over me giving me the thumbs up sign. I am still drowsy and in the recovery room. She proceeds to tell me lots of information about the surgery that she tells me that it is okay if I do not remember but there is one thing she wants me to know, “It appears to be a fibroid embedded deep in the ablated wall of the uterus. The mass is hard and cancer cells tend to be soft. We have to wait for the official biopsy results, but it appears not to be cancerous.” She again offers me her thumbs up and I smile and cry and offer her my thumbs up and I ask her to call my husband and tell my Mom who is waiting.

***

I have a wave of cramping come on and Jane, the Recovery Room Nurse administers additional pain medication. I begin to get drowsy again and I stay in the recovery room for another hour and a half before moving to my post-op room where my Mom is waiting for me. I am cognizant of where I am and my Mom re-explains what the doctor said. I remember it all too well and I smile! I start reading text messages and sending responses and I let my oldest son, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and “sisters” know that I am out of surgery.

***

I am home now. I have minor pain and a slight headache from the anethesia wearing off. One of the women from my Bible Study group supplied us with dinner, and I was pleasantly surprised when Waiters.com delivered Pasta Pomodoro for my family. My family is glad that I am home and celebrating my successful surgery and the preliminary news that it appears that I do not have cancer.

I still have to wait for my official results but I feel a great sense of relief knowing that half the battle is done. I have my follow-up post-op appointment on April 3rd and I have schedule my surgery date for my hysterectomy. I will keep you updated. Thank you so much for your prayers, thoughts, concerns and love! I truly appreciate each and everyone of you!

Love,
Sammie

Gratitude Journal #8 ~ What Lies Ahead of Me

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I am grateful for the week behind me and the week ahead of me.

Last week was a busy, busy week! I had many appointments, not just medical appointments, too many in fact. I went to the my Gynocologist, my surgeon, and to get my labs done. I lost 3 pounds since my unsuccessful biopsy on last week (March 7, 2012) and I am scheduled for my Hysteroscopy on March 22, 2012. I met with my bible study group for encouragement and I found myself feeling a little self-centered and pitiful, my anxiety was rising but they pepped me right on up and reminded me that I have so many other things to focus on and my goal should be to help others even during this time! So with last week’s appointments behind me I am starting this week with with a renew focus on being positive while providing a bit of cancer education.

So this week I am booked solid with yet more pre-op appointments. Today was blood work, tomorrow will be my primary care physician and then a pregnancy test in order to get signed off for surgery on Thursday. After that I will have approximately one week of waiting to find out if I have uterine cancer. It still seems surreal, but I am grateful that I am insured. I am grateful for the outpouring of love from my friends. I am grateful that GOD strengthens me daily to complete the tasks at hand. I am grateful that these cells have been detected early and I am so grateful that I know how to fight for my life!

I am grateful that I am in the hands of good doctors, I am loved, and I will get through this challenge just as I have done with all the other challenges in my life. I will be stronger, wiser and I will survive!

The NEW Things I Like About Me ~ Just Be Enough

On Valentine’s Day I made a point to send love to myself! I compiled a list of things that I love about me the day before Valentine’s day and scheduled a post. Well here it is just two short weeks later and Just Be Enough asked us to come up with a new list of tThings I Like About Me

I am going to confess something, I really thought that I was gonna be stumped. But the past week and a half has certainly given me plenty to add to my list!

The list that I am revealing now is full of breaking news that has pushed me in ways that a year ago were unimaginable for me. My PTSD and Anxiety are under control and I am ready for the world.

1. I am funny! ~ On Valentine’s Day while the world was exchanging cards flowers and chocolates, I received the news that my doctor suspects that I may have uterine cancer because of the formation of cells in my uterus. My response included a hearty laugh and then I said, “Then let’s cut that shit out! I don’t need it anyway.” See, I’ve been here and done this before with cancer and I’m gonna laugh until I have to cry!

2. I do not crumble (or at least not for long). ~ I keep my head in the game regardless of my task. So I called and scheduled the two appointments my doctor recommended: the first was for a 3D Ultrasound and the second was for a biopsy.

3. I am quick to respond. ~ I set up my 3D Ultrasound and had it the very next day and my biopsy is scheduled for March 7th. I informed my husband, family and my bible study group that the monster known as cancer was trying to rear its ugly head again and I let them know I AM PLANNING TO BEAT ITS BUTT!

4. I am determined! ~ I will fight with every fiber of my being to beat this thing and I will not give cancer any of my negative attention. Cancer has already stolen a family member (Rich) and online friend (Susan) from me in 2012 and I am determined that I will not be next!

5. I am more than cancer ~ Cancer does not define who I am and if it is back it will not define who I will become. I am a wife, mother, friend, advocate for special needs families and cancer recovery and I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH!

What are your things? What do you love about you?

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Sending My Love To You (Did I mention this is a list of things I love about me?)

A girlfriend of mine (She-She) asked me to write five things that I love about myself and I decided to publish it as a reminder to myself of just how many ways that I am loved and I am a reflection of self-love for my children and friends:

Dear Me,

Here is the things that I love about me:

1.  My Faith in GOD ~ I am faithful to GOD and his plan for my life.  It has not been easy to follow or accept GOD’s plan but it has always guided me down the appropriate road for my benefit.

2.  My Open Heart ~ I love my open heart.  So many things have happened that could have easily made me harden my heart but I didn’t allow it to close me off from people or to close my heart to new people, places or experiences.

3.  My Determination ~ To look into myself and discover and unravel all of the layers of me. The un-perfect layers that have melted together to become the me that I am today, in spite of the me that I was yesterday.  My determination to review my life with accepting eyes and through a lens that allows for human errors, human tragedy and self-acceptance has been the key to living a healthy life with PTSD for me.  Sure, I still stumble and fall from time to time — but I do not collapse like I previously used to when situations occur that trigger my PTSD.

4.  My Willingness to Help Others ~ I take pleasure in helping others.  I have been so blessed by the people who have helped me in all aspects of my life and I know it is a privilege to help others!

5.  My Creativity ~ I truly know how to make lemonade when lemons are thrown at me.   Lemonade is my way of making the best out of unpleasant circumstances, it’s a way of stretching resources and getting positive/negative energy out of me.  My creativity helps me express myself in ways that I may never verbalize.  I quilt to tell a story with fabric.  I write to vent, to tell my truth, to tell how I desire something to be and to help others that may struggle as I have struggled.

This exercise took me about 1 hour to write.  It is very short but I honestly struggled to think of things I love about me, mostly because I have never been encouraged to make such a proclamation.  This my Valentine’s Day gift to myself.  This my proclamation of self-love!  If you are reading this and you have never done this before I highly encourage you to do so!

Here is your challenge:

Name five things that you love about you!

Write it down, shout it out to the world, toot your own horn, because if you don’t who will?

Love,

Sammie

Reflection on Happiness

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
Dalai Lama

Happiness is not a fleeting moment that can be captured in a mason’s jar. Happiness is a conscious choice. I believe that to be the case. It’s kind of like mind over matter. I say this after experiencing some of the best and worse times in my life.

As I sit here enjoying yet another day, which will be filled with blessings, I reflect on the choice that I am making to be happy, regardless of the bumps and bruises that I will encounter today. I am cognizant that I am making this choice without the aid of the anti-anxiety medication that I have used for the past six months to help me deal with PTSD and frankly I am okay with that!

Today I choose to be happy. Yes, I said CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY! I choose to be happy because happiness is really my choice. I can choose to dwell on the negative or positive things in my life and right now I am choosing happiness!

There have been so many negative and bad things going on lately but they can not be allowed to outweigh the good and positive things that continue to surround me and bring me joy. I read a brief about the Happiness Project book and I have to admit I was truly inspired to put it into practice in my daily life. So without further adieu:

My Twelve Personal Commandments of Happiness

1. Let it go! (The bitterness of the past arguments, fights and life’s disappointments will only continue to cause problems in the future if I don’t let go of my anger, bitterness and resentment.)

2. Do it now. (There is no time like the present. If I don’t do it, I can’t count on anyone else to do it!)

3. Doing something everyday just for me. (It’s important to take care of my own needs especially since I spend my days taking care of so many other people’s needs — especially my children’s needs first.)

4. Treating others as I desire to be treated. (This really requires me to reflect on item number one so that I can react to people differently.)

5. Enjoying the process. (Too many times I am over-scheduled with too many things that I don’t want to do but I am required to do because of the kids activities. I know I should enjoy things more especially when I see that my kids are enjoying it. I need to take time to remember it’s not always about the end results it’s the process of getting there as well.)

6. Being more open with others. (No longer hiding behind my kids, insecurities to inform others that I can’t participate in things due to lack of money. My family is not the only family dealing with an economic crisis. Sharing my true and honest feelings about things instead of withdrawing from friends and loved ones.)

7. Purging. (Ridding myself of the clutter in my mind, heart, body, closet and house. Things bog me down. Be it purging the things in my mind: ie.. fears, doubts, anger, confusion, desires. Be it purging the things in my home ie… the clutter of holding on to things that are no longer relevant in my life. Purging “things” that create confusion is now a necessity that must go high up on my list of things to do. When there is too much of everything and that feeling of utter confusion occurs, I know it is time to purge because if I don’t it will lead to chaos. Nothing more needs to be said about that.)

8. Venture out into new pastures. (Trying new things, new foods, new friends, immersing into new cultures. Develop a new skill set, try a new job, volunteer for something that will allow me to learn something new.)

9. Decide to have it ALL! (Stop selling my hopes and dreams short and settling for less than I deserve by making the decision to say, “I can’t do that.” I can do anything that I put my mind into figuring out. However, I can’t do it all at one time and I must discern the difference. There will be times in my life where I can dedicate some time and energy to being the best at something else. I need to stop feeling like, if I’m tied up with one thing right now that it means I can’t do specific things. I just need to be patient and know my time is not GOD’s time!)

10. Conquering my fears. (Accepting the unknown and understanding that whatever happens is the way that it was supposed to be.)

11. Honoring my temple. (Listening to myself and my body.)

12. Be grateful. (Being grateful in all things at all times for the lessons that I will learn.)

What will your commitment to happiness be in 2012?

Busy Times

During the month of December 2011, I will be moving and having surgery! It certainly is a busy Christmas season for my family and me this year. We are blessed beyond measure and pressing toward 2012 with lofty goals and accomplishments to achieve.

With this said, beginning Monday, December 1, 2011 my blog schedule will be changing until the New Year.

Monday ~ Song of the Week

Wednesday ~ Excerpts from my still uncompleted NaNoWriMo 2011 Project (which will be of an erotic nature)

Friday ~ Week of Gratitude post

Looking forward to hearing from each of you while I recuperate from surgery and unpack at my new home. Wishing each of you a blessed and wonderful holiday season!

Love,

Sammie

You don’t get to tell me WHO I can be anymore!

This is the August 1, 2011 writing prompt from The Red Dress Club called Mentors. Unfortunately I was unable to link up but I wanted to post this anyway.

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One of my favorite books is by Loraine Hansberry — that’s right it’s TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED, AND BLACK.

When was younger I used to call this the triple wammy! I was too young to understand that I needed to work harder than others in order for others to recognize my talents because of my color. I didn’t understand why my 2nd grade classmate couldn’t play with me anymore because her mother told her that “blacks were stupid and dirty.” I couldn’t comprehend that in my young mind how someone would think that I was stupid when I had skipped a grade to be in that 2nd grade class! I was devastated that my friend wouldn’t play with me anymore but I had an amazing teacher, who was angry enough about my experience to include a classroom lesson about how Americans differences make our country stronger! This may not seem impressive today but I assure this was quite controversial in the early 70’s and it was not a part of the state standards on curriculum.

Mrs. S. introduced us to all kinds of authors, who were all nationalities and paraphrased their biographies or autobiographies to explain to us what it was like in “their” AMERICA, and when she read from TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK something touched me.

I loved Ms. Hansberry’s story and I continue to be inspired by her daily! There have been so many times in my life when have doubted my own talent, diminished my own gifts in order to make others feel better about themselves or just surrendered my power knowing I didn’t have the confidence to follow through with my decisions because of my inexperience. But as I look back on those experiences, I reflect on how much I’ve grown, the confidence I’ve gained, and I proudly proclaim to those who doubt me or question my abilities — “You don’t get to tell me who I can be anymore”. I have surpassed the expectations of many people in spite of my age, gender, economic status and life circumstances.

Because of Mrs. S.’s care, love and “teaching outside of the box”, I am a confident, resilient, intelligent woman. I am an advocate for change and tolerance among Americas youth and I too am a TEACHER!

Thank you Mrs. S. for teaching me that I am blessed to be YOUNG GIFTED AND BLACK!

Post script:
You may wonder if my friend and me ever made up. Mrs. S. made sure that that happened. In fact, we all reconnected last year via the telephone when we found out that our beloved teacher is now suffering from a brain tumor.

The Photo Session of Sammie Love (#trdc)

I entered my favorite local hotel with my bags. Checked in, and entered my room. My nerves were beginning to get the best of me. I pulled out the champagne bottle and strawberries that were set up in the room to try to relax.

Knock, knock, knock!

I breathed deeply and thought ‘What am I doing?’

I went to open the door for Chloe and Margo and my heart was palpitating.

“Hi Darlin’,” Chloe squeeled, as she gave me a huge hug and a kiss. Her hand lightly touched my hair and the room suddenly turned electric. “This is Margo but her friends call her Voila!”

Chloe, Margo and me spent the next three hours together with a camera, lights, and make-up creating The Naughty Girl Session Of Sammie Love, a set of intimate photos as a gift for my husband and a final picture entitled Embracing My Scars, which was used as a photo for an article that I’d written about being a rape and breast cancer survivor.

“Smile for me Sammie!” Click.

“Tell your hubby to come here!” Click.

“Make me wonder what you are thinking right now.” Click.

What Chloe revealed through her camera was the beautiful me that I had never really seen. This version of me was youthful, carefree, brilliant, sensual and sexy. I hadn’t seen that image of myself in quiet some time. I’d lost her after getting caught up in my life as a survivor, wife, mother, friend, employee, student, boss, writer, parent advocate, champion of children and lover of all things sweet!

The beautiful woman that Chloe captured on film was the woman that I was rediscovering on a daily basis, and this woman had spent years caring for others but finally decided to make it a priority to take care of herself.

When the Naughty Girl Photo Session of Sammie Love ended, I had bonded with two new friends, discovered the sensual woman that was hidden deep within me, and I walked away with one hundred and five: fabulous, amazing, sensual, thought provoking, reflective pictures that captured moments of my life for myself and my husband. I am inspired by my photos daily and the photo in the header is one of my favorites. Special thanks to Chloe Jackman and Margo Cristein of Lovely Me Photography – San Francisco www.lovelymephotography.com for helping me find my sexy!

Waiting on the World to Change

A few years ago when I completed my Master’s degree I was ready to set the world on fire! My graduate school experience was an exhausting process, but I did it. I worked hard to balance being a wife and mother, keeping up with all of my readings and assignments, working full-time, and completing my thesis. I was proud of myself. I had completed my goal of of finishing my studies before I turned forty.

When I gave my Valedictorian Speech I chose not to focus on the struggles I had gone through to get to that day, I choose to reflect on a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Grad School was the beginning of creating the change I wanted to see in the world. I was hungry to create change for my family, economically speaking. I was compelled to create change in the ways that children were taught. I was driven to become a catalyst for change within my community. I worked hard to change things around me and I tried to leave things better than I found them, but in all my hard work and efforts to create change around me, I neglected the most important changes that needed to occur — those that began inside of me!

As I begin my unemployment, I’m reminded of all the hopes and dreams I had when I graduated. I completed the goal to finish school but I accepted a “job” and I was waiting on the world to change instead of BEING THE CHANGE I wanted to see in the world. Well, now I’m looking forward to the creating the opportunity to find balance between my life, my work and my community. One thing I know for sure is all lasting change begins and ends with me. Change can’t be instructed — it must be applied in thin layers in order to survive. I’m ready to put in the work and BE the change I want to see in the world. I can’t wait to see what my future holds!