Wednesday, October 7, 2015

embracing life

The third annual embracing life breast cancer retreat was such a great success!  I am both thoroughly uplifted and completely wiped out, all at once.  We started the retreat with a fun night of socializing, playing some competitive "Jeopardy," listening to great music, and hamming it up for the photo booth.  

When reporters from the news channel KVRR came and set up their camera, and asked if they could talk to some of us, we said sure.  It wasn't until the next night, that I actually got to see the story and was very humbled by it.  Stella played a prominent part!  If you'd like to view it, you can go see it here, at KVRR.

The next day we arrived at the hotel conference center to a beautifully decorated retreat area.  

They even provided a "stage," for us to sit while we spoke, which made for a more relaxed day.

One of the themes we centered our retreat around was Kintsugi. One of the survivors gave an inspiring story of how she is in the process of making sense out of what had happened to her.  Below is a small part of what she shared with us.

I was so happy to be asked to be part of the planning meetings for the retreat. Could we somehow do  a group created piece of art using the ideas of Kintsugi?  

We had used rocks, for our theme for the first year, trees, the second year- as we brainstormed someone mentioned a butterfly.

So I went home to do some research and happily stumbled across the dragonfly...

Dragonfly- "a dragonfly is usually all about transformation, change and being present in the moment.

See it as a sign that you need to wake up. That you should cherish your life. Every single moment. 
Life is extremely short and you shouldn't waste it by worrying about things you cannot change or have no control over. Live life fully and enjoy yourself. Adapt to new situation and change and don’t get stuck in the past."

We all took turns selecting broken pieces of glass pieces, tiles, ceramics, and gems, and gluing them into the body of the dragonfly.  The piece will be sent off to add the "gold" and finish the piece.  I am so excited to see how the final project turns out! 

I was also very touched to be given the chance to be part of a presentation done with some of my stage 4 sister survivors.  Our group, fourward, meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, at Roger Maris, with Dr. Chery Hysjulien

We spent several sessions of formulating a message, through boards we decorated, to share as one of the inspiring stories of the retreat. 

I'd love to share the whole presentation, if I'm allowed to.  As each member of the group stepped forward, holding our signs, not uttering a word, a powerpoint was projecting a copy of our boards so all could see and read our messages.

I scanned the faces of all those in attendance and saw tears in abundance, and emotion-laden responses, smattered all across the room.  I feel like we were seen, and heard.

These were the two I made~  

In other news...

I continue to wrap my arm, trying to assuage the swelling.  It's slowly getting better, but I may be wrapping for quite awhile.

And just like that, it was time to see Dr. Panwalkar yesterday.  The look of shock on his face when he saw my wrapped arm was surprising to me.  

But after examining me, and seeing the fluid being retained in so many parts of my body- he decided to put me on some lasix, to help me get rid of the fluid.  He also held off on the taxotere yesterday, and instead I had the other two drugs for infusion.  He said we will decide on how to proceed with chemo/taxotere  my next appointment.  

He still affirmed that I will likely have to do chemo indefinitely, or until my body can no longer stand it.  It's a little sobering.

But I have so much to look forward to, that I am keeping my gaze ahead of me. 

We added a new charm in honor of our 3rd embracing life retreat this year- a dragonfly.  

"cherish your life, every single moment." Amen...


  1. I so enjoy reading your posts and look forward to everyone. I am glad you had the opportunity to share at the conference. Awesome. Hugs on the arm and expect with the lasix you'll lose a few pounds of liquid. Hope that helps you feel better.

    1. Thanks, Joan. I think the lasix has already started working :) Thankful that you come and read and comment so faithfully- touches me so. xxoo

  2. So glad to hear about your experience. It was so fun to hear your voice on the news report too! I can imagine how good it was to be known and seen and accepted. I love your posters and would like to see the other gals' as well. That bracelet is a wonderful memento and touchstone. Love you, girl!

    1. Jenn- I truly thought they'd keep looking for others to interview as well and they might use me for a sound byte or two. I was so surprised to see the story. We love wearing our bracelets- I rarely take it off! Love you right back!

    2. Jenn,
      I LOVED hearing Vicky's voice too! What a treat!

    3. Praying for you in s Florida this morning. I put your comment about the paramedic on my Facebook page this morning with a thank you to first responders.

    4. Praying for you in s Florida this morning. I put your comment about the paramedic on my Facebook page this morning with a thank you to first responders.

  3. Love, love, love your I Am words - beautiful! And I am so hoping the lasix helps - swelling sounds horrible. And even though missing taxotere probably isn't the greatest, I hope the missed dose lets your body recover a bit.

  4. This was so much fun to read, Vicky. Your writing literally makes me tingle. So real and so much JOY.

    I'm saving this post to my favorites.

    Love you dearly~~~~~~~~

  5. Thanks for this, I've been hoping for an update.

    Living moments fully is the way forward; I'm endeavoring to do the same.

    I'm so proud of you!! Love and prayers from up north :-)

  6. Amen again :-)

    And thank you so much... for being so generous with your kind words... they helped. Big.

  7. the bracelet is perfect...what a wonderful visual - something to help you the dragon fly ...and your boards-Vicky, how profound- do you think the others would let you share theirs? I'd so love to see them xo

  8. Oh my dear soul-sis,
    I love seeing that picture of all of you grinning and having fun. And to hear your
    voice, it made my day. You are beautiful inside and out!

    And your.. I Am Not.. and I Am... list. They tugged at my heart.
    I read those to Bert and they brought tears. He wanted a copy of them to post by his reading chair. Thank you for your comments on my blog and support, dear friend. I am beyond words grateful for you. This has been a tough time and your prayers mean the world to me and to Bert. I'm so thrilled that you had such a wonderful time at your retreat. I can't wait to hear your sharing!

    Love you to the moon and back again!

  9. I love the new symbol you've embraced to exemplify your journey. The beauty of each step fourward continues! Holding you close to me heart dear Vicky!

  10. This is one of my favorite posts too. It explains so much. I didn't know what the dragonfly meant. The gift shop where I worked sold them but I never understood them. Ladybugs are cute with a cute name and butterflies are beautiful after their transformation but I never could see making necklaces out of dragonflies. Now I do.

    I wish your chemo days were behind you. You may have mentioned it in your praise report a couple of weeks ago but I just assumed that now everything was working, you could sit back and watch the days, months, and years go by in relative peace. It seems as the world grows smaller, thanks to technology, the women fighting breast cancer grows larger and larger. Oh for the day when there is no more sickness or disease.

    Continued prayers to you and yours.

  11. I love that you say I am not at war...and instead go to the positive. This is one of my pet peeves....the sub-conscious negative.

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