I Have Cancer – Now What?

I go every year for my annual physical. When I turned 50, I scheduled first a mammogram, then a colonoscopy. Mammograms are a piece of cake compared to the vile, gooey stuff you have to drink in preparation for the colonoscopy. But these things need to be done in order to be certain of your health. Especially when all your relatives live overseas, your mother has dementia and no one knows anything about health histories.

For the last four years, every year irregularities have been found in my right breast so I have had to go back for a better look. They check things out, pat me on the head and say everything is fine.

Until this year. Except this time it was the left breast. I should have known. How is it that a person knows before the technician or doctor says anything? I should have known when the technician took more xrays and then took me right away for an ultrasound. And when the technician said that the radiologist would be coming in to take a look at the ultrasound and would give me my options, I wasn’t surprised.

The needle biopsy wasn’t bad at all. I was told I couldn’t take aspirin but I could take Valium. I told the technicians I wouldn’t be taking Valium because I would probably fall asleep and not get to the office for the procedure. The doctor who did the biopsy was very pleasant and the two women technicians were wonderful. It was done on a Friday and I was told that I would get a phone call with the results by Wednesday.

When my doctor called and left a message on Tuesday, I already knew it was cancer. My doctor told me it was treatable. Since I had asked during the biopsy, I had been told that my lymph nodes had been checked and they were fine. I feel very confident that this will be treated successfully. Now I am just waiting for an appointment with the oncologist.

I am very much in disbelief about this. I feel very healthy. I have been losing weight and watching my diet very carefully. This seems so silly. How can I have cancer when I feel good? I feel tired but getting up at 5:30 or 6am every morning and having the busy schedule I have would do that to a person.

I started looking up breast cancer on the internet and that was a really stupid thing to do. I stopped quickly. No sense in adding all the fear factors into this. And when my son suggested pot or cbd extract, I just rolled my eyes. My son has graduated from law school. I asked him if he wanted me thrown in jail so that I could be his first client? Ever the helpful mom, right? Sorry, I don’t think I want to be that helpful.

My doctor told me that I should hear something from the oncologist within a couple of days. It has been two days and I called to check in. I did not appreciate the whining in the voice of the receptionist when she told me they had three business days to get back to me. I felt like asking her how she would enjoy waiting three business days if she had been diagnosed with cancer. But that isn’t me because I am still in disbelief. I mean, really? How could I have cancer?

I have my faith in God. I have a plaque that states ” Lord help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I together can’t handle.” I could use your prayers.

At the Breaking Point

I think after all the decisions and events I have gone through since January, I seriously need time away. Let me think what has gone on in my life since the beginning of the year.

I have found this truly wonderful man who lived a fair distance from me. I made the decision to move closer to him as I was tired of the constant commute every weekend. It was also time to strike out on my own without my youngest daughter. But not only did I have to find a house for me, I needed to find a good barn for my horse.

The barn and then the house was found. Then this truly wonderful man decided to propose to me and move into this new house with me. Our wedding date was set for June 24th. Of this year. Wedding preparations. We decided to keep our wedding small but still, wedding preparations.

Then my oldest daughter got engaged. Wonderful! Fantastic. Except she announced that her wedding would be May 21. Of this year. Before my wedding. In Canada. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She announced this to me after I had registered for a writer’s conference that was to begin May 21 and go until May 25.

Oh, and my son called to announce his graduations. Yes, two graduations. One on May 27 from his MBa program and the other one on June 11 from law school. I could only make one graduation, I told him. I asked him to ask his father which one he would be going to and I would go to the other one. Only my son called to let me know that his father would attend both. I picked May 27th.

I kept thinking, I will first concentrate on moving my horse to her new barn. That happened in April. Then concentrate on moving into the new house. That happened one week after I had my horse settled. Next I would concentrate on my daughter’s wedding and the travel to the wedding.

My daughter’s wedding was beautiful. It was rainy and cool that weekend but the wedding was beautiful and my daughter was gorgeous. My daughter and her husband are more or less settled, considering the fact that he is in South Sudan on a contract with Unicef until March of 2018. My daughter has chosen to stay in Canada for a while. We will see how long she can tolerate being apart from her new husband.

Next was the writer’s conference. Travelled there and back home in time to catch a flight to my son’s graduation. The graduation and time spent with my son and his wife was fantastic. We weren’t rushed or overwhelmed. Just spent time with my son and his wife.

Now I am back home and can finalize the details of my wedding. Air plane tickets have been purchased for my oldest daughter, my son and his wife. We have places for them all to stay and I am looking forward to the short time I can spend with them.

My fiancé and I are not going on a honeymoon right after our wedding. That can wait until later in the year. But July can’t come soon enough. If my youngest daughter announces her engagement, a wedding in the year 2020 sounds good to me.

Words of Encouragement

My son is busy studying for his bar exam. It isn’t until July but he, and his friends from law school, are all studying and have worried expressions.

I know my son will do well. This is his dream. This is his goal. He is studying eight hours every day. I have chosen to support him and send him words of encouragement every day. I do pity his wife who will have to be mindful of his stress and worry and fear. Fortunately, she has a full time job so she can stay out of the house nine to ten hours Monday through Friday. Hopefully, my son will take a breath and not study when his wife is home.

I will enjoy looking up quotes of encouragement for him. I will try to remember to include them on my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. For all those students who are busy studying for whatever upcoming exam – I wish you well. Remember to eat well, get your sleep, exercise and let yourself take some time off to breathe. I wish you well.

The Goblet

Well, isn’t this interesting. My first book, The Goblet, was published with Tate Publishing. I was satisfied with what Tate did with the cover. The book could have used more editing. The book trailer was not of really great quality. Tate Publishing did set up a few book signing events. But on the whole, not too bad.

When I was ready to publish my second book, You Are Mine, I thought I would go with Tate Publishing. Handed over my check after talking to a few people there and waited. Then saw the announcements, a few months later, that they had closed their doors. Wonderful.

Now I have quite a few copies of my book, The Goblet, and decided to check out Amazon and sell the book myself. Only I discovered that there are a fair number of sellers selling my book for over $30! Wow! When The Goblet was  newly released, it was only selling for $15.99. I don’t know how many copies of my book these people are selling but I wish them luck.

I have now posted The Goblet on Amazon and I am selling autographed copies for $5.99. I have contacted Amazon to let them know what I am doing and I have asked them to make certain buyers can see my price and that I am the author. Such is the writer/author life.

I Didn’t Run

Well, there you have it. I didn’t run. God answered me pretty clearly the next day. But I don’t think it was just for me. I think it was also for all the other writers who were wondering the same things I was thinking. I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.

Wednesday  night at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference was the awards ceremony. BRMCWC offers the Selah awards for published authors in various categories. BRMCWC also offers the Foundation awards in various categories for unpublished works. I submitted my second novel to the Foundation awards in the Fiction: Mystery/Suspense category. And I placed third.

My novel, You Are Mine, won third. My heart jumped when You Are Mine was announced. Oh, and my name was announced as well. I was in shock and utter disbelief. I tried not to tremble as I walked onto the stage and had my picture taken. It happened. I won an award.

A friend of mine also won in the Foundations award for her short story. I congratulated her after and we hugged as she congratulated me. We were both in shock but we said it together. This award gives us hope. Hope that we are doing the right thing. This writing thing. Hope that our work was recognized as worthwhile. A group of our peers voted on our works and gave us awards.

I don’t like to brag about myself. In fact, I won’t do it. But the judges at BRMCWC have no idea what this award has done for me. It has put this smile on my face and this determination in me to forge ahead and write. I had been struggling with this for so long. But after my prayer to God and His pretty clear answer, I guess I better pull up my boot straps and get to work. I have always told God that He needs to hit me over my head with a baseball bat because I am pretty dense when it comes to His messages.

That was one heck of a baseball bat! Thank you God. I hope my writing pleases you.

I Almost Ran

I almost ran last night. I was at the point of getting up and leaving.

I am attending the Blue Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference here in Ridgecrest, NC. This has been the best Christian writer’s conference I have ever attended in previous years.  I did not attend last year but I wanted desperately to come this year. When I finally arrived Tuesday morning, I was overwhelmed with the amount of people that are here. Over 475 attendees. The largest number ever.

I felt small. I felt insignificant. I did not see any familiar faces. I felt like I did not belong. Certainly after two women made very catty comments about skinny jeans, I felt devastated as I looked down at the skinny jeans I felt comfortable in. And I certainly did not feel like I was a writer that should be at this conference. That was it. I would leave and no one would notice or care.

Until Todd Starnes had his speech. I laughed with him and felt a little better. Then Todd talked passionately about Christians needing to take a stand. We all need to keep writing and keep standing up for our Christian rights. I prayed last night. I prayed for all my loved ones and I prayed for God to let me know if I was doing the right thing with this writing that I feel compelled to do.

Well, did He let me know. In the morning Edie Melson shared how insignificant she had felt in the past. She shared that she wondered if she should be writing. Why in the world should she be writing when there were so many wonderful writers around her who were so much better. Then God showed her a picture of a choir. There are many people in the choir. Many have the same range. But each one is unique and when blended together, the choir is wondrous and beautiful. God directs the choir as He directs all of us with our special gifts. We are all needed and special. God has given us a purpose and we need to listen and follow His purpose for us. The same goes for writers. Wham!

Then Bob Hostetler spoke. He talked about all the famous authors he is friends with. He talked about how he hated Davis Bunn and how irritated he was with all these people who were such wonderful authors and could do so much. He said we should all just give up and go home. Then he shared the story of Ehud from Judges. Ehud had a deformed right hand. But God sent Ehud on a mission and used him. God’s plan was perfect and the plan would not have worked if Ehud had a perfect right hand. Instead Ehud used his left hand. God has a plan for all of us. Even though we may think we are not useful, God has a plan for us and we need to be ready for it. God has given us a gift and we need to listen to God’s plan and be ready to follow it.

Okay, okay, God. You did hit me over the head with a baseball bat. I got it. I got You. Thank you God. I love you.

Fresh Beginnings

 

This is my fiance, Bill. The love of my life. My new beginning. A fresh start. Someone I will spend the rest of my life with. The man I will grow old with – okay, so we are already old but I want to grow older with him.

I separated in August of 2013 from my first husband. Our divorce became final in August of 2016. I met Bill in September of 2016. After many rough online dating scams and really not wonderful dates, I found Bill. I have heard from a number of young people how successful they were with the online dating thing. But not me. It seemed like there was a target attached to my picture and I seemed to attract all the eastern European con artists who just wanted to love me, never meet me, empty my wallet and run for their coffee shops.

I met Bill through It’s Just Lunch. They interviewed me, asked me how far I was willing to drive. Being from Canada and making twice yearly drives up to Ontario, I told them a 2 to 3 hour drive was not a problem.

It’s Just Lunch makes arrangements for you to meet your date for either lunch or dinner. You meet and the two of you decide if you want to continue meeting or not. They made arrangements for me to meet Bill in Charlotte at Dean and DeLucca for lunch on a Saturday. At the time, I did not know that I was supplied with a picture of Bill, He was not supplied with a picture of me.

Unfortunately, I had been suffering with an inner ear infection and when Saturday rolled around, I just was not feeling well. I was still feeling dizzy and thought that making a 2 hour car drive was not something I was up to. I called the It’s Just Lunch office but no one is there on a Saturday. I called Dean and DeLucca and left a voice message. Apparently Bill never got the message.

I called It’s Just Lunch on Monday and apologized profusely. They asked me if I would still like to meet Bill. I said I would. They told me they would call him and see if he felt the same way and then would call back. They called back to say we would meet the following Saturday.

To this day, Bill reminds me of how I stood him up. He wandered Dean and DeLucca for an hour. He kept watching all the women who came into the cafeteria area. But a lot of them were with someone else or were just shopping. He couldn’t approach any of them as he didn’t know what I looked like. He told me no woman had ever stood him up. He had to meet the one and only woman who had dared to stand him up. I am pretty proud of that.

We both have hurtful pasts but we support each other. We laugh together and do silly things together. We enjoy the same type of music. We enjoy the same types of activities. We enjoy each other’s company. And we are head over heels in love with each other. We are building a new house together. We will be getting married on June 24th. That will be the happiest day of my life. Even at my age, one can find love. Real love. A lasting love. I want to spend the rest of my life with this man and I can hardly wait.

Love Interests Interview with Sarah Grifton

This is Shelby Norstrom from the online website, Love Interests, a forum on relationship issues. We ask hard questions but provide solid answers from people who have been there. Today we are happy to introduce Sarah Grifton, lead vocalist with the very popular Christian rock band, Forever Yours. We are so happy we finally managed to catch Sarah who is in between gigs.

Hello, Sarah and thank you for being here today with Love Interests. And I love your singing voice Sarah. It has to be one of the best voices I have heard in a very long time.

Hello Shelby and thank you for the compliment. It is a pleasure for me to be here.

Sarah, can you tell me as a Christian person, how is it that you are now divorced from you husband? How are you able to reconcile being Christian and being divorced?

(Sarah sighs.) Well, for one thing, my ex left me. I did not leave him. And our marriage had not been a good one.

How do you mean your marriage was not a good one? Did it have anything to do with Bill not being a Christian?

(Sarah shakes her head.) Bill is very career oriented. Having things meant a lot to Bill. He always stressed having a high paying job and having the vacations, the big house, the cars. He thought that should be every person’s goal. You couldn’t have those things if you didn’t have a high paying job in a good company. Bill wasn’t very happy that I spent so much time with the church and then with Forever Yours.

I guess Bill didn’t know the Bible.

No, unfortunately not. At least, he kept ridiculing me and the children for going to church. He said it was a waste of time.

How did you meet Bill? I thought you were high school sweethearts.

Well, we met in high school, that’s true. At that time, it was expected to get married right out of high school. When Bill and I started dating, he didn’t want me to go to university while he was studying. (Sarah shrugs her shoulders.) I just thought that I would go to university later. All of our friends were getting married and they kept asking us when we would follow suit. I guess, it was just expected.

Was Bill a good father?

(Sarah bites on her lower lip.) He was when the children were young. But as he climbed the corporate ladder and the children got into their teens, things changed. His expectations for them grew. He kept telling them that without a business or science degree, they would not get a corporate job. He kept buying things or taking us on vacations and then saying that without a good job they could not have these things.

What did Bill think of your oldest daughter becoming an archaeologist?

(Sarah closes her eyes.) He was really angry. But then he did not see her graduate from university with her archaeology degree.

Where is Bill now?

(Sarah inhales and lets her breath out slowly.) We aren’t sure. (She hesitates.) I have tried to locate him but he is somewhere in Europe. We just aren’t certain where he is. I’m sorry, Shelby, but I just can’t go into any more of this. (Sarah gets out of her chair and leaves the stage.)

 

 

 

Writers Beach Weekend

This past weekend I drove to Topsail Beach in North Carolina where I joined eleven other female Christian writers for the weekend. Lisa Carter and Alice Wisler started this writers’ retreat three years ago. I have gone every year, so far, and this weekend has done more good for me as a writer than I can say.

Alice and Lisa have done a phenomenal job of organizing the weekend for Christian writers. Alice always leads the devotionals and Lisa has given us a wealth of information on writing, getting to an agent, publisher and the marketing aspects of our books. We have had so many interesting conversations about the whole book writing thing that has gripped us.

Not everyone has an agent. Not everyone has gone the traditional route of finding a publisher. There are a few self published authors. Discussions, this year, have been on the changing climate for writers. The market is changing and publishing houses are changing their ways. Change has had to happen due to the demand of the public – the readers of our material.

The best part of this yearly weekend is the sharing and the love and support that comes from each woman at this retreat. Prayer is a big part of all our lives. Just knowing this is a safe and secure place to retreat to is a welcome calm in the storms of our lives.

Lisa strongly recommended that every writer should attend at least one workshop every year. I agree. Workshops, retreats, conferences for writers are a necessary charge for our batteries. I attended the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference two years ago. I will attend again this year. The first year I attended, I felt my head would explode with all the information from the workshops. But it was a wonderful, safe and secure place to attend. I could not believe how published writers, agents, editors, publishing representatives and authors were willing to share their experiences, their ideas, their recommendations to be a successful author.

To anyone who is thinking of writing a book, I say go ahead and take the plunge. It is said that everyone has one good book in them. I am so grateful to Alice and Lisa for their support, love and guidance. Thank you Alice and Lisa. You are both a blessing to me.

 

Second Novel – You Are Mine

Excerpt from You Are Mine

“Hickory dickory dock. The mouse ran up the clock.” The long, slender fingers ran up Rebecca’s warm back. She was lying face down on a bed. She shivered as the fingers ran up her spine. Her eyes widened as she knew what would be coming next and she closed her eyes.

“The clock struck one, the mouse ran down. Hickory dickory dock.” The fingers slowly scratched down her spine and Rebecca flinched as the fingernails dug into her skin. She broke out into a sweat and squeezed her eyes shut. “No,” she thought. “no.”

Rebecca Collins pressed her hands to her temples and shook her head. Why was this memory interrupting her thoughts? She looked down at the keyboard of her laptop. She had been focused on her assignment. But this unwanted memory had invaded her attention. She raked her long, blonde hair with her fingers to the back of her head. She stretched her legs and arched her back while sitting in the patio chair. Her back was stiff and sore from being on her feet during her nursing shift at the clinic in Lahaina, Maui. She squinted up at the sun from under the protection of the patio umbrella, her eyes twitching with the effort.

After a few moments, she sighed and powered off her laptop. She brought a hand up to her glistening forehead then pushed herself out of the patio chair. She shook her head and whispered, “It’s too hot.”  Carefully Rebecca slid her feet into the leather sandals that were scattered under the patio table. ”

Rebecca thought she had left a frightening past behind, secure in a marriage with three wonderful children, living on Maui, Hawaii. Haunting memories still invaded her peace and security but she was able to push them away with the help from her loving husband, Dan.

Until one night when her past came rushing to the forefront. A man who did not want her to forget. A man who was not going to let Rebecca and her oldest son, Benjamin, go. Michael Philips is the man from Rebecca’s past and he is obsessed with Rebecca and Benjamin. Michael is willing to do anything to bring the three of them together. But Rebecca and Benjamin want no part of his plans.

Three lives that are intertwined from the past. Five innocent lives that are a part of an evil and devious man’s ideas. How far will Michael Philips really go to bring them together? Find out the steps Dan takes to protect his family.