Breast Cancer–Be Aware All Year

We all know that October is

and we are asked to

We wear the pink ribbons for a month and even donate money.

We must continue to remind our friends, sisters, cousins–even ourselves that

and that there are certain things that put us at

but, we also know that

So don’t forget to get that yearly uncomfortable mammogram. We all know someone, or we are that someone who can say

Let’s continue to help those with breast cancer be a

We are all aware in October, but breast cancer occurs all year. All of us know someone that did not defeat this disease or are living with it, so let’s not only be aware, let’s

Let’s continue to support those organizations that you feel are working toward a cure. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and breast cancer has affected us all in one way or another. We are in this together.

The Scars Of Breast Cancer Are Not Pretty In Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and everyone will be wearing pink in the form of ribbons, shirts, tee shirts and more.  What we see doing this awareness month is everyone being “pretty in pink”.

We have all known someone who has been affected by this horrific disease, or we may be that person. Most survivors carry scars from their treatments to defeat breast cancer.  Some of the scars are physical, but some are mental and not only affect them, but their loved ones too.  There are those women and men who carry both types of scars. Breast cancer is an equal opportunity disease, it does not discriminate when it comes to who is affected by it.

Sometimes the chemo may cause the hair to fall out, it can even affect the color of ones skin tone.  The scars of mastectomies may be covered, but they are there nonetheless.  Some survivors have lymphedema in their arms after the mastectomies.

Mammograms do not catch every type of breast cancer, but they do aid in the detection of many.  This imaging can be expensive if you do not have health insurance.  There are places in every community that offer free or low cost services.  Below is a list of  some of the ones in Tarrant County and the surrounding counties in Texas.  Please share with us those in your area so that everyone can benefit from these services.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Breast Cancer Awareness Month is about more than being “pretty in pink”.  It’s about being informed and finding a cure.

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We Are Not Our Hair–It Changes Too

As a little girl growing up in East Texas I loved my neighbor’s hair. Miss Adell had hair that went almost to her waist.  I called it water wavy hair.  It was hair that harsh chemicals and heat never touched.  To get a flip or something special she would put those famed pink rollers in it.

Even as she grayed her hair to me was her crown and glory.  After a bout with cancer with chemo treatments, her hair came out.  I never saw her during that time, but I did see her when it started to come back, and it came back straight. It was still beautiful and was getting long again, but it was straight.  It was then I realized something important.

Her personality had not changed, she was still Miss Adell, still just as beautiful as ever. She was not her hair, she was the neighbor that I loved–hair or no hair, straight or wavy.

I met the beautiful Paulette Leaphart on Facebook.  I saw this beautiful bald woman who had this megawatt smile that could light up any room.  At the time she was fighting breast cancer. After seeing more beautiful pictures of her with and without hair, wearing alternative hair, caps, hats and all that is in between I knew she was not her hair–she was Paulette.  She always knew she was her own beautiful woman–she was a fighter, in fact, she was a champion.

Years ago I met a lady who always wore alternative hair–she suffered from alopecia areata. She would change her look as quickly as she could.  Then one day she decided that she was not her hair, and off came the alternative hair. When the wigs came off it seemed that the smile grew brighter, and so much more.  She knew she was not her hair. Her hair has started to grow back, but she knows who she is with or without it.

As we mature and hormones go wacky our hair changes.  It can become thinner, drier, brittle and yes it also turns gray.

While watching the movie “Black Panther”.  I saw this beautiful woman with no hair. She was strong, she was confident, she was fit, she was fine, she was everything–she was not her hair.  One of the best moments is when she is so uncomfortable with her alternative hair.

As I write this I am in the process of trying to decide what I want to do with my hair. Just like a lot of women of a certain age, it is a work in progress.  For almost a year I have not put a relaxer on it.  Color has not been on it for about two years.  I have finally figured out “I am not my hair”.

As with everything else our hair changes.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  We are not our hair.

 

Information On Well Woman Exams

Thank you Ms. Ruth Ann Hornbeck-Hatch for sharing this valuable information on free well woman exams.  If you are in need of or know a woman in need of a well woman exam, and insurance coverage is a problem, please have them call or google 211.  It will give outlets to places that do the well woman exams for free.

211

Let’s spread the word to our family, friends, church members and others.  There is a way to help save the lives of women.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, let’s help others help themselves.

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Puttin’ On The Pink For A Great Cause

There was a beautiful sea of pink in the huge ballroom of the Fort Worth Convention Center. Even the champagne and desserts were various shades of pink. Hosted by the Kupferle Health  Board of the Texas Health Resources Foundation. The event showcased the outstanding work of their mobile health unit.

With NBC 5’s Deborah Ferguson as mistress of ceremony, Neiman Marcus hosting a one of a kind runway show featuring collections from Lafayette 148 New York, inspirational stories featuring cancer survivors and great conversation–the event was a Texas sized success. Even the items for the raffles and the centerpieces on each table were amazing.

The mobile unit is as well equipped as any physician’s office with the latest technology and staffed by a very capable medical staff. In addition to digital screening mammograms, services provided by the mobile unit include:

  • well-woman exams
  • cervical cancer screening
  • HPV test for women with abnormal pap tests
  • colon cancer screening
  • bone density screening
  • cardiovascular risk assessments

There was laughter mixed with tears and hugs. Puttin’ on the Pink entertained, but most of all it informed Fort Worth and surrounding areas about medical resources that are available to them.

Texas Health Resources Mobile Mammography Unit

 

To find out more about the great services that are available through the Texas Health Resources Foundation  mobile health unit, go to:  https://www.texashealth.org/fortworth/pages/Services/Cancer/Mobile-Health-Unit.aspx

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Get your yearly mammogram.

Meeting Paulette Who Is Walking Across America Topless

I am not easily impressed by celebrities, or at least I don’t think I am. In my mind, I think that celebrities and those that are famous are just like us.  There are a few people that I am in awe of though.  One of them is a beautiful woman of a certain age that I wrote about.

I found her on Facebook and begin reading about her.  I inboxed her, she wrote back, and this continued on for almost a month.  We then talked on the phone a few times, and we then decided to do a phone interview.  It was a great experience.  One that has inspired many.

When Paulette talked about her faith in God, her journey with breast cancer and her children, her story came alive to me.  If you have not read her story, please go to:  http://thisisyourbestyear.com/2015/10/10/breast-cancer-awareness-prayers-for-paulette-and-her-8-children/ to read about her amazing journey.

I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans where she makes her home.  We arranged a day and time to meet.  She is as amazing in person as she was on the phone.  Her warm and beautiful smile just warmed my heart. Our conversation was like we had known each other for many years, it was as easy as Sunday morning.

From the smile on my face, you can see how excited I was to meet the wonderful, inspirational Paulette Leaphart. Her spirit, her love of life, her love of family, but most of all her faith in God is contagious.

Paulette is training to do a 1,000 mile walking journey from Biloxi, Mississippi to Washington, D. C. while being filmed along the way. Paulette will be topless to show the scars of breast cancer.  She will start her walk on April 30.  Her walk/movie is named “The Scar Story”.  I invite you to take a few minutes to look at the trailer.  It will amaze and inspire you. You will see the reason Paulette will walk topless.  The message is powerful. The link to the trailer is below.  Click on the link and be amazed, inspired and more.

http://www.thescarstory.com/video

You can follow Paulette’s 1,000 mile journey on her Facebook Page–Prayers for Paulette 8 Children. There will be a few surprise walkers that will accompany her along the way.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–make new friends, they bring warmth to your heart.

 

“The” Texas Conference for Women

The state of Texas always does it BIG, and it held a BIG, Texas Conference for Women in Austin.  Not only was it BIG, it was educational, fun, exciting and much more.  There was something for every woman no matter what age, educational level, etc.  There were local speakers, speakers who talked on social media, national speakers such as Robin Roberts and Tory Johnson.  The conference had great motivational speakers including one of the few men at the conference–Bert Jacobs, the CEO of “Life is Good”.  Tory Johnson of Good Morning America held a “Pitch Your Product” section. Patricia Arquette gave an impassioned talk on women, and Robin Roberts kept us laughing.  The First Lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott greeted the crowd.  There was so much to see and do–it was great!

Tap each picture to see who was there.  Enjoy!

Remember thisisyourbestyear”, and as Jake says “Life is Good”

Breast Cancer Awareness–Prayers For Paulette And Her 8 Children

Bishop T. D. Jakes says it’s your Destiny, you know that happening that was not planned. Rev. Jerome B. Price said it is God talking to you. Who knew that browsing Facebook would lead to something thought-provoking for me, and hopefully for you.

Paulette 19I came upon this site–Prayers For Paulette8Children.  Well you know me, I am assuming there is a mistype, and it should read Prayers for Paulette & Children.  Don’t ask me why I thought that, I just did.  Maybe because I saw this beautiful. bright-eyed young lady with the gorgeous smile smiling at us on most pictures, and besides who has 8 children?  As I read more, I found out this beautiful lady was Paulette McKenzie Leaphart, and yes she has 8 children, and yes they do need our prayers.   Paulette is a breast cancer survivor, she is a fighter, a warrior whose faith continues to keep her, but above all she is a mother of 8 children both biological and adopted.

The following is my interview with Paulette, and I hope I give her and her children the loving justice they deserve.

It took a while for Paulette and I to start the interview, we started by me inboxing her on Facebook, and  connecting by phone to set up the interview. Paulette lives in the Big Easy, and from her tone, she loves New Orleans. 

Paulette’s life before her diagnosis was great, she was beautiful and talented with 8 great children.  She was happily Paulette 15living her life–that is until in a dream God told her she had cancer. Yes, Paulette said God told her she had cancer.  There were no symptoms, but she knew it was the voice of God.  Getting her doctor to believe her was another story.  After finally agreeing to have her do her first mammogram, and it coming back negative, her doctor tried to assure her that she was cancer free.

Paulette knew what she knew, and she was not cancer free.  After seeing how persistent she was he agreed to have her do an ultra sound.  After the radiologist came in and looked at the ultra sound, Paulette knew he had found something, but he did not tell her. A few days later she got a letter telling her to go in to see her doctor because they had found something suspicious. Her doctor performed a biopsy since they had found a tumor–finding breast cancer.

Paulette 16Even after hearing she had breast cancer, Paulette remained calm because she already knew. When talking with her doctor, she was informed that she had a very aggressive cancer, it was stage 2, grade 3.  The doctor told her it was a fast-moving cancer, and because of her family history and the type of cancer, he suggested a double mastectomy.  This was the first time Paulette was at a lost for words, she thought she had been prepared for anything, but a double mastectomy had not ever crossed her mind. Even though she trusted the doctor, she immediately went for a second opinion, and they agreed with the first doctor–a double mastectomy was advised. The surgery was scheduled, and immediately after the surgery there would be breast reconstruction or so she thought.

The doctor who was to do the reconstruction surgery reviewed her files and came to the conclusion that reconstruction surgery would be too taxing on her body since she had other medical ills one of which is a blood clotting disorder.  Paulette thought that this can not be happening, but the doctors explained why they could not recommend the reconstruction, and she agreed and was okay with it.  She had made peace with the idea, but she still sought a second opinion who told her of another procedure that could be done for reconstruction–she decided not to do it.  She was at Paulette3peace with her decision, it was hard, she cried, got angry, but eventually decided no reconstruction was best for her.  In her own words  she told herself “Baby Girl, you still got your sexy”.

When it came to telling her children about her breast cancer, it was hardest telling her youngest daughter who is now 8.  Her baby had just gone through seeing someone die from this disease so her only reference to cancer was death.

Her oldest daughter started the Facebook page because she knew they all needed prayers.  Paulette’s first time reading the page was about 3 months after the surgery. After reading and responding to comments, Paulette decided to take over the page herself.

When she had to lose her hair it was hard for her–after all she is a woman. She did everything to keep her hair, researching, buying products, but in the in the hair came out. She was determined that cancer would not win this battle since it was gong to come out, she thought I’ll cut it off myself which she did, and the barber did the rest.  Even her youngest daughter decided to be just like her mom.Paulette 13

Even though it has been hard for Paulette and also hard for her children, they constantly draw strength from each other.  They had been without a home for a while. Since Paulette did not have health insurance, she had to decide on medication or a roof over their heads. Notice that I did not say they were homeless–they always had the love of family and friends and each other, but most of all they had their faith in God.

Her life has changed, but it is not for the worst.  She has been hit, but not knocked down. Paulette has decided to share every step of her journey with others in the hope they can draw strength from her testimony.

It seems that even In the mist of all her troubles, there were those who are determined to do more to make her unhappy.  Paulette did not lose weight, the treatments made her gain weight.  She even seemed to always be smiling so she can’t have cancer some people thought.  It was amazing to me that people could be so cruel, but again her faith in God keeps her strength up.

On good days she takes her youngest children to music and dance while continuing to make their new house a home.  They all attend church together.  I ask Paulette why she decided to adopt children when her children were just about adults, and she told me it was a promise she made to God when she was an abused child.  Her children keep her strong.  Even though they are children, they step up to fill in the gap when Paulette is unable to do so.

Her doctor says she is in remission, but can’t say for sure if she is cancer free.  Paulette says there is no need because God told her she is.

To see more about Paulette’s story, go to her Facebook Page at : https://www.facebook.com/Prayers-For-Paulette8children-468487063257460/timeline/?ref=br_tf.

Her story will inspire you.  I look forward to meeting Paulette and her 8 children in New Orleans when she celebrates her 50th birthday.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

For two of the bravest women I know–Carol Cooper and Renae Ruffin.

The Saga Of The Bra Fitting

When you decide that  you are going to let your new gray neighbors meet the rest of the neighborhood, you must take other things into consideration–jewelry, attitude, clothing fit and more.  Gray hair does not make you look old, but if you have gray hair and the girls (breasts) are not bra fit 4sitting right, then you need to find your correct bra size.

I can remember when Oprah had a person who came on the show and measured her–even Oprah needed some help.  So if Ms. O needs a little help, maybe we do to.

After a month of mammograms, sonograms and MRI’s I decided that the “girls” could use a new dress or two. What I did was to go to a store–Dillard’s to find a person to measure me correctly.  You need someone who has the time to actually measure you, and talk with you about what you are looking far.

All women know that  shoe size changes because our feet change.  The maker of the shoes may make them differently.  Maybe you gained and/or lost weight, that affects your shoe size.  The maker of the shoes could be the problem.  You can wear one size by one designer, but another size with another designer. That’s the way it is in bra sizing. You’ve changed, and so have the “girls”.  Sizing can vary by brands and/or type as the picture below illustrates.

bra fit 9

That’s what happens to the “girls”.  You’ve had children, you gained and/or lost weight, you do weight training (which helps to keep the girls perky) and you are over the age of 35. Some people suggest you measure yourself at least once a year.

After you find the correct fit and make your purchase, it is important that you take care of your bras.  Most women do not hand wash anything now.  If you are washing bras along with everything else you need to put them in a lingerie bag and wash them on the delicate cycle.  This will help the bra keep its shape.  If you have a place to let them dry naturally that will help with the longevity of the bras.

I decided it was time to buy, and lo and behold, the bra lady as I like to call her was my former student.  She measured, looked and remeasured.  Then came back with a group of bras for me to try on.  The very first one was not what she thought it should be.  Even though it was the size she measured, she did not like the fit.  She had me raise my arms up, then outward, she tugged on straps–then went outside and came back with a different size in the same bra.

After the initial sticker shock (I am a bargain shopper) I left Dillard’s with new Wacoal bras, to go along with my clean report from the mammograms, sonograms and the MRI’s.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Don’t forget to have your girls checked out.