Sunday, February 9, 2014

Quilt of Hope

Awareness Ribbon Tree
A few months before I was diagnosed with BC (breast cancer) I had purchased a beautiful new Baby Lock embroidery sewing machine. I enjoyed making warm flannel quilts for my family for any occasion. But when I got sick I didn't have the stamina to sew and really missed it.

While I was in the final stretch with radiation last summer I began thinking about a Quilt of Hope. I decided it was finally time to make one for myself. I found a beautiful pink ribbon embroidery design and began planning around that theme. After Christmas I had all the fabric and began cutting and piecing my Quilt of Hope.

Spoiler Alert: I'm Fine!

By the end of January I was almost finished with my quilt when I had my post-treatment mammogram. I sat, waiting for quite awhile, then was taken to the radiologist's office.
The first time I met Dr. Davis was 14 months ago when I was diagnosed. It was deja vu all over again and I wanted to run!
She showed me where the tumor used to be and then zoomed in on these specks that looked like salt. She explained that they weren't there 14 months ago, nor where they there at the time of surgery 9 months ago. She wanted to schedule a biopsy for the following day on Friday, January 31st.

Last weekend was surreal. I didn't want to tell anyone because I had put so many people through hell by sharing my journey the first time. I finally told my children but couldn't bring myself to tell my parents. They have been through so much and I just didn't want to worry them. I couldn't do any heavy lifting so didn't work on my quilt. But I started doing a lot of "Stress Baking", a term my friend Kristin shared with me, and tried out new recipes just to get my mind off the biopsy.

The doctor's office called me four days later and said "everything is fine"! The 6 spots were calcium deposits formed during radiation. My boob is broken again. Bruised but healing well.

When I got home from work that day, I finished my quilt and slept peacefully that night, wrapped in Hope, Love, Courage and Faith.
Flannel Quilt of Hope
Embroidered words of encouragement
Backed with soft pink fleece
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Friday, November 1, 2013

I Am

Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine

One year ago today my whole world changed when I reluctantly joined the Breast Cancer Club. I've had mixed emotions all day. Sometimes I'd be on the verge of tears. I could feel them behind my eyes, pressuring me into flooding my classroom. Then I'd get so busy that I forgot I'd even been on this journey. I've changed a lot in these past 12 months, but in a good way.

I am healthy and have more energy than I did a year ago.
I am grateful for having a professional, compassionate medical team.
I am whole again, even though a piece of me was taken.
I am blessed to have such a loving family and friends care for me.
I am happy that I have my life back and time to spend with the ones I love.
I am beautiful. I base this purely on my school photo; the best one taken in 27 years!
I am thankful for having this experience.
I am a better person because of breast cancer.
I am looking forward to where this journey will continue to take me.

There is so much to do and so many others to help. 
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tamoxifen - Day 50

It's a miracle! The effects of my last estrogen blocker, Arimidex, is practically out of my body. And, boy, do I feel so much better!

I don't think I will get to 100%, but 50 days into the change of meds, I sure am feeling like me again.
Celebrated with a new cut, color and style!

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Monday, October 14, 2013

News Worthy

Jewell Cardwell: Sisters share their breast cancer journeys and support others
By Jewell Cardwell
Beacon Journal columnist
Published: October 13, 2013 - 10:57 PM

Breast Cancer Survivors sisters, Carol Ford, left and Christie Hickman.(Family photo)

In recognition of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, two local sisters are hosting an “I Won” event to celebrate their battles and recent victories.

Here’s a little of their story:

“My sister (Carol Landon Ford) and I are breast cancer survivors,” Christie (Landon) Hickman wrote.

“Carol finished her treatment last year and I finished on July 25th. We are hosting a breast cancer event (this week) with 30 of our close friends to celebrate our win against breast cancer and share the importance of breast health.” Christie, 54, and Carol, 51, both reside in Ellet a street apart.

“We both had amazing, life-changing experiences during our journeys through breast cancer and met the most compassionate people,” Christie continued. “We created an organization — In This Together, Breast Cancer Support — to help others going through breast cancer treatment. We offer handmade ‘hug blankets’ to patients and The Giving Doll to the children of patients. Jan Householder is providing us with the dolls made with pink hair and shoes!”

The simply amazing Householder, of Wadsworth, is the founder of The Giving Doll Ministry, which gives volunteer-made soft-sculpture dolls to children suffering major medical problems, abuse, neglect or loss of a parent, or who have a military parent stationed in harm’s way.

Both were treated at Akron General Medical Center’s McDowell Cancer Center and had Dr. Esther Rehmus as their oncologist and Dr. Jessica Partin as their surgeon. Carol and Christie breathed a giant sigh of relief a couple of weeks ago when their mother underwent a successful breast procedure.

Christie, who is so passionate about her project, shared that she has been “adding names of those touched by cancer that you have mentioned in your column on our ribbon. I update this ribbon with new names on a weekly basis. People can request first names of fighters, survivors or the taken to be added by contacting us.” The virtual ribbon is located on the organization’s website at

Christie and Carol can also be reached at and 2carolford@gmail.comor visit their blog at

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Planning Our First Event

Christie is a creative woman who has many, many wonderful ideas.  When she feels a project coming on, the wheels start spinning, ideas start flying and thoughts are written down on anything handy.

See that  book of notes?  If you remember, you are lucky....(joke).....what I was going to say: If you remember, there is such a thing as chemo brain.  It is hard to hold onto a thought.  We just have to write down everything! One page has a sentence written on it, but it is upside down on the page.  It was funny to watch her when she noticed it, "huh, wonder how that happened."

See that phone in hand?  It has the latest technology, apps, internet connection and all.  Constantly ready to keep the ideas rolling ... at all 24 hours of the day.

The current project is our very first event ~ A celebration of our win against breast cancer.  I can guarantee that with Christie's ability as a public speaker and teacher, this will be informative with a flair of wit, laughter and thought-provoking revelations.

So, where do I come in?

Well, I'm the "sounding-board", the ying to her yang, and the organizer of these ideas.   Not the planner, (not going to happen), the organizer.  My hundred years of office work will come in handy as we begin to lift off the non-profit

Oh, how I love Microsoft OneNote!!! (check it out if you haven't seen it).  That is my job this weekend. Creating our notebook, sync it on sis's computer and teach her how to navigate.

She is going to LOVE it! 

After this event, we will welcome feedback, collect more ideas, tweak it here and there and then .... take it on the road.

In between all of that, we are looking for our Board of Directors.

The divine appointments over the past few weeks have multiplied.  We are both meeting women who want to get involved by using their God-given talents.  As they tell us their stories of their own journey or of a loved one, an instant connection is made.  And, of course, a hug is freely given ~

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tamoxifen - 1 week

One o'clock in the morning - after waking up ump-teen times, I decided to stay up for a bit.  Took 2 more pain pills and logged on.  I've had some inquiries about the effects of the Tamoxifen.  Can't say it is any better than Arimidex ... yet, it's only been a week. 

The pain is intense and I just wish I could describe it in a way to make myself understood.  I'm trying not to let this show at work and when I come home in the evening, I collapse.

My bones feel like they have been smashed by a sledge-hammer.  The shredded pieces like glass in my hands, arms, knees, legs, feet, ankles.  Today, my left elbow feels like I hit it against something hard.  I'm still bruising very easily. I'm hunched over like I'm 110 years old.  It is worse in the morning, and now seems to carry throughout the day.  I'm starting to have menstrual pains (I don't have a uterus and no cycles for 11 years).  What's that about?  My surgery sites (original surgery, plus nodes under my right arm, and reconstruction on my left side) all produce stabbing pain.  Sometimes the pain hits unexpectedly that I "yelp" out loud.  That can be embarrassing in public.

I tenderly hold my hands, softly rubbing to help ease the stiffness.  My neck and back ache so much.

So, this is the medicine to keep cancer away.  It sucks.

I've completed year 1 of 5 ~ can I endure 4 more?

I'm falling apart

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Arimidex vs. Tamoxifen

I have been taking Arimidex since August 2012. As the months go by, my pains are more extreme. My husband is the only one I really "show" just how bad.  After all, I'm in remission. I should be "all better now". That is what most folks think. They don't understand that poison streamed through my body killing cancer cells AND my good cells.  It takes time to repair, it takes time to get your strength back.

I don't mean to sound so whiny

I am very grateful that I have made it this far through "my journey".  I do try to have a smile on my face, stay out of "my bubble" and focus on others (thank God for the type of job I have),  and I get up every day to go to work.  I have to.  The mornings are the hardest .... that is when the pain is the worst.

So, Sept 12 I had a visit with my favorite oncologist to discuss my meds.

Quality of Live VS Recurrence 

Taking the estrogen blocker will give me a 40% chance of keeping cancer away .... at least this type of cancer.  I'm HER2 protein positive and estrogen receptor positive.  Just a little aggressive and mean-spirited.

Doc changed my meds to Tamoxifen, stating that I should start to feel  better in about a month and the bone pain will not be a side effect.  She said that the worry would be blood clots, uterus cancer (don't have one of those, so I should be good on that count).   I came home and looked it up on WebMD to read the reviews from other patients.  Looks like the same kind of complaints as Arimidex patients.

They don't call it "practicing medicine" for nothing!

I've given my life to God and I will give Him this too.  My church family gave me a prayer cloth anointed with oil and their prayers.  It is precious to me.

I'll be sure to keep you posted .... still living in the moment, each day at a time.

What Rock do you stand on?

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Monday, August 19, 2013


Tonight was a long time coming .... A celebration dinner with my good friend "M" and my sister, Christie.  M & I had planned to get together after our treatments were done to celebrate coming through to the other side (M was diagnosed 2 days before I was).  When Christie was diagnosed, we then decided to wait until the three of us could come together and make a toast to success!

Tonight was it! Panara's.... yummmmm

I was thrilled to introduce the 2 of them and tickled pink when we giggled like school girls as we shared our more humorous stories.  And the conversation doesn't always have to be about cancer.  We shared about our families, our learnings from our experiences and how it changed our outlook in life (ok, alot of it was "because of cancer") and just enjoyed each other's company. 

Chemo brain was a huge part of our laughter as one of us would start a thought and then forget what we were going to say... and then the other 2 would have to try to remember key words of what was being said in order for the memory to jolt back into the moment.  If you don't get it, don't worry about it!  It truly is a memory loss that only a chemo cocktail can promote!

I thought it very interesting when M said she didn't think of herself as a survivor, but as a thriver. 

No matter what your circumstance
Everyone should strive to thrive!

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Happily Ever After

For several years I had been hoping one of our wedding anniversaries would be worthy of a cruise. When the 20th anniversary rolled around in 2008 Richard had lost his job, we'd lost my sister, Cathy, among several other loved ones and frankly, didn't feel like celebrating.

So, I set my sights on our 25th anniversary, but inadvertently joined the BC Club. When we calculated all of my treatments and discovered I'd be finished 2 weeks before this special anniversary, neither one of us could even begin planning something that far in the future, especially when we didn't know what the future would hold.

Yesterday we decided to get away for the weekend even though I'm feeling kind of tired from the radiation. So, this morning I found a castle in Hocking Hills with an enchanted forest full of cabins. I am so happy that we made it this far and have each other. I am a very lucky girl to have my knight in shining armor, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Now, I need to go pack!
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Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

A friend of mine shared this with me.  I just thought it was perfect for everyone and especially those who are going through cancer diagnosis. 

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