Monday, September 27, 2010

“Surgery is the red flower that blooms among the leaves and thorns that are the rest of medicine.”

“Surgery is the red flower that blooms among the leaves and thorns that are the rest of medicine.”

Dr. Richard Selzer

Tuesday September 28th 2010 my surgery date is tomorrow.  I selected that date because my mother always said, " Tuesday is a good news day. "  I was born on  a Tuesday and so was my mother.  I am so ready for this surgery. Got my pre surgery EKG, no silent heart attacks, Blood CBC looks good and a clear Chest X ray ;~)  Today the weather was a bit dreary so I opted for the 8 kilometers inside on my Schwinn Airdyne Stationary Bike instead of my usual walk around Clarence Town Park.

This past weekend was a dream come true having Barry, Meghan and Kara all together for the weekend.  During the course of three days we visited many galleries. First stop Friday evening Kara and I hit up El Musio in Allentown with an extra stop at Allen St. Dress to see what is new.

Kara treated me to sushi and salad for dinner @ Sea Bar  then we walked to another opening @  Western NY Book Art Collaborative

Quick drive up Delaware Ave to Hallwalls and Starlight Gallery where I saw my old friend Phyllis from Buffalo State College and met new friends Eileen and Joe.   Kara went on to CEPA Gallery I headed home after a wonderful night seeing art and meeting new and old friends.

Saturday was jam packed with excitement as we toured University of Buffalo North Campus Center for the Arts.  We lingered for a few hours on the UB Campus as Barry and Kara shared memories of their years attending UB  as we toured of the campus. My, my where does the time go ??? Seemed like yesterday that I attended the parent orientation talks and tours.  It was nice to remember all of the times on campus visiting art opening and academic events for Barry and Kara.
Next stop was on to the Carnegie Art Center where Jim got into the interactive art on a Moog Theremin  Touching story of an Elephant who out lived her usefullness and suffered and died form a broken heart.
Next stop Jim treated us to delicious variety of soups, appetizers and entrees we shared around the table at Saigon Bangkok

 Last stop for the night was at the Anderson Gallery to take in the extra ordinary art from the Annette Craven Collection. as well as new works.

Sunday morning was peaceful at morning mass @ 11:00 then back out to openings with Kara beginning with Erie County Historical Society.
We arrived after all the food and most of the people were gone however just in time to congratulations to Melissa Wertman Brown,  Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Director of Research and Interpretation where she is caring for the remains of other peoples lives.  While you are there be sure to check out the architecture cake art in the glass vitrine in front that are not anymore permanent than the Pan American Exposition building of 1901.

Quick walk down Elmwood Ave. to the Burchfield Penny Art Museum where Kara and I touched base with the ladies in the Museum Shop. Time to deliver more ricerafferty Devore scarves to keep women warm and fashionable this winter. Two of our Statement Necklaces will be available in the shop soon.

Hair styles - my Mother always called my hair a woman's Crown and Glory ;~)
Kind of an " End of the World as We Know It " theme going on here.

When you are not making art be art. 
Barry, Meghan, Kara and I refuse to put away the summer sandles.

Short walk across the street at 4:00 and we arrived at the Albright Knox Art Museum.   for two more hours of great art, meeting new friends and exchanging greeting with many well known artist from Western New York.  Completely satisfied, our hunger and thirst for good art satisfied we enjoyed a drink in the courtyard filled with music and laughter.

The evening was not over yet as we were invited to Jordan Slingerlands aka Dexter party.

We all had "BLAST" at Jordan's Dexter Morgan party.  I actually never heard of the Dexter Morgan show before and I could not stay in the room to watch the show during the murder scenes.  Wonderful long, non stop weekend with family and friends.

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive with well wishes and prayers throughout my medical testing.  After such a rich full weekend filled with art, family and friends I am so ready to climb on the surgery table.  I will be happy to put this all behind me then to get back to my business, teaching and making art.

 Please pray for Kara's co worker who will have surgery on the same day.  She has to deal with a biopsy of malignant cells and the course of treatment best for her condition.  Please join me in wishing Laura well and good health.
  Eat your fruits and veggies, keep moving, stay positive, pray for peace and good will, take vitamin D if you live in the north country like I do.  
Looking forward to writing my next post when I am on the mend ;~)  Carol Ann

Friday, September 24, 2010

“Almost all words do have color and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone's eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too”

“Almost all words do have color and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see some one's eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too”     Gladys Taber

In the Pink Collection was inspired by Breast Cancer Awareness and the Look Good Feel Better programs to promote breast health and wellness for women of all ages.

This one of a kind In the Pink Statement Necklace will be available tonight at

 ViVA for Life, 
 an evening of celebration, is a Creative Black Tie Gala

" Breast cancer has touched many lives in our community. ViVA for Life, an Evening of Celebration was created to help generate much needed revenue and to celebrate living. All proceeds from this event benefit the WNY Breast Resource Center at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and will stay right here in WNY to assist in this daily fight and impact many lives. "

                            2010 Celebration on Friday, September 24, 2010 from 8pm to 12am.

 Kara and I of ricerafferty designs donated this pieces with hopes it is purchased and treasured by someone who is thriving not just surviving the battle against breast cancer.

                                                  Look for more ricerafferty
                               In the Pink accessories as they become available.
                                Check our website

                                                 In the Pink Collection

The color pink is named after the flowers called pinks, flowering plants in the genus Dianthus. The name derives from the frilled edge of the flowers—the verb "to pink" dates from the 14th century and means "to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern" (possibly from German "pinken" = to peck).[11] As noted and referenced above, the word “pink” was first used as a noun to refer to the color we know today as pink in the late 17th century. The verb sense of the word “pink” continues to be used today in the name of the hand tool known as pinking shears.

Pink is a pale red color. The use of the word for the color we know today as pink was first recorded in the late 17th century.
Although the pink is roughly considered just as a tint of red in fact most variations of pink lie between red, white and magenta colors. This means that the pink's hue is somewhat between red and magenta
Roseus is a Latin word meaning "rosy" or "pink." Lucretius used the word to describe the dawn in his epic poem On the Nature of Things (De Rerum Natura).The word is also used in the binomial names of several species, such as the Rosy Starling (Sturnus roseus) and Catharanthus roseus. In most Indo-European languages, the color pink is called rosa.

                   Embellish yourself with a gift of PINK or give as a gift to someone you LOVE ;~)
 Don't see what you want yet ???  Each piece is handcrafted from hand dyed tulle, silk, handmade Polymer Clay hand painted Rose and up cycled jewelry items.
               Choose from our luscious Blessing Basket full of shades that will make anyone feel
                                                              In the Pink

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Goodbye to Summer 2010 or "Teary and tantrum-filled goodbyes are a common part of a child's earliest years."

 Goodbye to Summer 2010 or "Teary and tantrum-filled goodbyes are a common part of a child's earliest years." known as seperations anxiety.

There is just no easy way to walk away from something you love. Separation anxiety is more about leaving something you love than being afraid of what lies ahead. 

I'll admit it, I LOVE Summer weather; the sunny days, bright flowers, swimming pools, hot sticky humidity, light salad picnics, bon fires in the back yard at night, fireworks, parades and even the insects.  I love it all ;~)

The best of both worlds for me would be a small home is the north and one in the south so I could follow the sun all year long.

This past summer began rather early for Western New York.  I welcomed the warm weather as  I bought a fresh pair of Birkenstock sandals when first hints of warm weather began in April.
  I loved every glorious mile I walked in these sandals all summer.  
Yesterday was wonderful with temperature in the low eighties as if it knew a grand finale was
in order. 

 I must have walked over five miles yesterday enjoying the warm sunny weather. After getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist I bought some fresh Butternut Squash, Gala Apples, Red Onions, a Pomegranate and a very small piece of Boneless Pork Roast at Wegman's.  

 After soaking my 32 year old Romertopf in water I layered up the dinner ingredients then pushed it into a cold oven.  Set the oven to 350 degrees and I was free to work on the mosaic back splash in my
kitchen then take another walk around Clarence Town Park.

Here is a close up of my oven roasted dinner served out on our backyard patio table.

The last official day of Summer 2010 was so special, because it was the first time since 1991 that the fall equinox will coincide with a full moon. 
It was all so exciting that I had a hard time giving up the day to go to sleep. So happy I made one final walk to enjoy the weather late last night as today I woke up to drizzling rain as a metaphor that the magic of Summer 2010 was all washed away.
Not to worry, I believe we make our own magic so I bought a cedar infrared sauna in August for just a time a

s this.  This year when I miss the heat of summer I will fire up my sauna, put on my CD of Desert Winds and play in my sketch book or journal.  After all we still have Indian Summer to look forward to in October. " An Indian summer is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs in autumn, in the Northern Hemisphere. It is characterised by a period of sunny, warm weather, after the leaves have turned following an onset of frost, but before the first snowfall."

My plan is to take a quick trip over to Block Island to celebrate my birthday over the extended Columbus Day weekend.

"The Nature Conservancy added Block Island to its list of "The Last Great Places." The list consists of twelve sites in the Western Hemisphere."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Yet doe I feare thy Nature, It is too full o' th' Milke of humane kindnesse." from Shakespeare's Macbeth, 1605

"Yet doe I feare thy Nature, It is too full o' th' Milke of humane kindnesse." from Shakespeare's Macbeth     Thanks to each and everyone who has been with me in the virtual waiting room.  Yesterday afternoon I spoke with my doctors office, "The biopsy report returned showing no malignancy in the tissue sample biopsy."  The original 48 hour wait grew uncomfortably long as I waited over the weekend into late Tuesday afternoon. 

My first thought was a rush of relief of course that I do not have cancer. My second thought was for all of the unfortunate people who receive the call giving unwanted news.  My third thought was good now I can still be a blood donor since I am not sick.

 Actually it would have been very difficult to break the news to my body if the call said I did have cancer because I feel GREAT !!!

A small mass of atypical cells was found in both of my breast. Pre surgery testing was done today with a date for surgery on September 28th. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy walking, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, working on my art projects, finishing the tiles in the kitchen makeover back splash and making plans for getting life back to normal after heal from my wounds.  When this is behind me I will continue to pray for others in who need the strength to work with their burdens.
 I am now working on a line of Breast Cancer Awareness  riceraafferty Statement Necklace and Accessories to donate for silent auction fund raiser.

A very good thing that has happened during this adventure in medical care is the numerous caring people I met along this journey.  Complete strangers offered to call me, talk me through the scary parts and lend a hand of encouragement. I am thankful for the mature people I met along this journey.  One delivery man shared his girlfriends journey from feeling fine, having a small lump found followed by a complete mastectomy.  I was moved my the compassion in his face and voice as he shared her journey.

I am still have a few more hurdles to jump with this journey. Being fifty three years old I expect to have different health issues arise in the future. I am stronger as a result of this experience.

 Here is an image of an art object I created in 2009 title ; Dress for the Autumn of my Life.
Notice my Mothers Broach pinned with a chain that holds my embroidery scissors, wooden needle case, needles and key. 

Viking keys meant power for the woman.

"Married women had a very strong position in the Viking Era, and keys helped express this. When a couple was married, the wife was given a set of keys to symbolize her new status – “given to lock and key,” as it was called. The shiny bronze keys hung in full sight on her clothing, along with a small knife or a pair of scissors."

 In times of adversity we are reminded just how strong we can be.  It is exhausting to be strong for along time without other people offering the sweet Milk of Human Kindness.
Thank you all for prayers, love and wishes of goodness sent  my way.  I could never have done this with all of you ;~)

"Remember, thoughts and feelings have physical effects. Open yourself to receiving help, nourishment, and compassion from yourself and others. When you experience events that cause you sorrow, resentment, or pain, allow yourself to quite literally get these feelings off your chest by experiencing your emotions fully, grieving fully, and then letting go so that you can "make a clean breast of it."
Dr. Christiane Northrup

another interesting site about breast health

" Life is precious handle with prayer." unknown

Sunday, September 12, 2010

“Run your fingers through my soul. For once, just once, feel exactly what I feel, believe what I believe, perceive as I perceive, look, experience, examine, and for once; just once, understand.”

Albert Einstein quoted - The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious... Sometimes there is lot of story behind a simple look, lot of effort, lot of work, lot of emotions and lot of many things :) which we just simply call mystery..Albert Einstein quoted

Yesterday was a good day.  I enjoyed a lovely, relaxing drive reconnecting with an old friend  during our drive from Buffalo to Syracuse.   Surface Design Association Members from Western New York State were invited to tour the Fiber Program at Syracuse University.  I knew about this invitation for many weeks however I was not able to commit because of a recent death in the family as well as the uncertainty of my own health concerns.   Here I am in a creative play room filled with recycled and up cycled materials.  This plastic chair was so surprisingly comfortable that I could not resist tossing my leg over the arm of the chair during the few minutes we were in this space.You can feel my delight at being able to attend this tour yesterday.

I am in day four of a kind of virtual waiting room. Since August 3rd I have been on a constant call list for repeated needle biopsies and pathology reports of my breasts following a mammogram that showed a tiny cluster of white calcium dots.  The funny part is I FEEL WONDERFUL ;~)   I just returned from my morning three mile walk carrying five pound hand weights for a full body workout.  If I am sick it will be news to my body.  I have just lived one of the best summers of my life enjoying being outside for many wonderful, hot, sunny days.

This virtual waiting room has it's advantages; fragrance of the grass, trees and flowers are more acute.  Food tastes better, colors call me to linger in an attentive gaze. Being with people I love is a treasure for me even when they are preoccupied by the hurry of life.  Life has a Halo Effect when you remember to number your days. I have received kind offers to help in various ways; go to doctors appointments with me, out to lunch, well wishes for good health and promises to keep me in prayer.

It is interesting to listen to the busy plans others have made for the next few months while I have to keep my plans simple on a wait and see day by day basis. Things that would have been important to me or might have hurt my feelings are not as important right now.  Right now I am in this waiting room to get results if I have cancer growing in a mass of cells that I can not even feel.

My purpose of sharing this experience on my blog is not for sympathy or to make you feel sadness. 
I write with the hope that someone who needs a word of encouragement will find my blog and read it one day.  These past few days in the virtual waiting room have been delightfully peaceful.  I have a deep faith in a spiritual reality that is much larger than the physical world we can see.   I believe in a creator who loves all of us and knows exactly what is going on in my life and my body before modern medicine told me they have concerns.  

Right now I continue to be an athlete in training.  I am an Ultra Feminine Warrior   I face life with the same energy and commitment I approached the natural child birth of Barry and Kara.  I will do all best on my part to keep myself strong and healthy then trust that God will bring me to the correct people at the correct time in my life. With the peace that passes understanding I wait...

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

 In the words of the Julian of Norwich I believe  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

“We quaff the cup of life with eager haste without draining it, instead of which it only overflows the brim / objects press around us, filling the mind with the throng of desires that wait upon them, so that we have no room for the thoughts of death.”

“We quaff the cup of life with eager haste without draining it, instead of which it only overflows the brim / objects press around us, filling the mind with the throng of desires that wait upon them, so that we have no room for the thoughts of death.”
Oscar Wilde  Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900)

Life was so simple when I believed in magic, that wishes really could come true and Santa Claus.  " Oh Cathy, Santa brought you to me. " is the quote my mother wrote on the back of this image of me taken taken Christmas morning.  Chatty Cathy has been silent many years since I accidentally pulled her string that made her talk too hard.  I still remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach the minutes after I realized what I had done.  Silent Cathy now sits in my living room on my wooden rocking chair from my childhood along with New Born Thumbelina and Tiny Tears.  Life was so simple and sweet back then.
This morning I took a ride in the shine new Siemens Magnetron Espree MRI machine.  I was told to put my camera away as no pictures are allowed to be taken in the room.
 see the website and you can get an idea of how I spent this morning.,1007660,12754,14330~a_langId~e_-1~a_productId~e_142246~a_storeId~e_10001.htm

Today I awoke around 5:30 this morning, started the coffee pot, checked the computer messages showered same as any other day. Except today was different I had a date with destiny.  Today was my second ride in the MRI in search of Breast Cancer this week.  Today we were going after a lump that showed up on the MRI imaging taken on Tuesday that never showed up on the Mammograms taken August 3rd.   How luck am I ??? The technician told me health insurance companies refuse to pay for MRI unless a woman has a personal history of cancer or has a strong family history.  I fall into the second category as my mother found her own breast cancer lump while in the bathtub at age 35.  Neither grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and they each died at age 93 although during separate years.

 It is said if we live long enough everyone will have some form of cancer.
"Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells."   I remember hearing people say someone "caught the cancer" when I was a little girl. Thankfully through education there is better understanding about cancer as a disease.  Unlike the flu, there is no need to avoid contact with anyone diagnosed with cancer to preserve your health.  In fact spending time in happy social settings is healing to everyone whether they have cancer or not.

My drive to the Imaging Center was peaceful in the break of dawn. Truly, I wished I was heading out on my morning walk instead going in search of cancer but I made the most of the journey. Turning off the radio I chose instead to talk with God during this morning drive.  I found myself in praise, " This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it."

Arriving for MRI at 6:45 has its perks;~)  I never found a place so close to the door in all of my years going for mammograms.  I was greeted at the door by a lovely woman named Judith with beautifully manicured finger nails.  While she got me checked in Judy shared some of her personal journey and words of encouragement.  She found it interesting that I am documenting this experience in my Art.  Funny point of interest, they photo ID me when I arrived for an MRI, like someone else was going to volunteer to go in my place. That gave me a chuckle.

Remove top garments, check, robe opens in front, check, personal effects in locker, check, final bathroom run then enter behind the double door first room on the right for an IV port.  Glasses and key in the basket,  left arm out of the gown, climb up on the table face down so we have access to your breasts.  Here I lay motionless with my left breast restrained in a clamp, table slides me back into the MRI.... Good thing I have ear plugs as the noise quickly changes from the sound of a heart beating to LOUD beeps and banging sounds.  In my meditative state I have no clue how long I am in there before the IV opens with a rush of chemicals to enhance the images.  I feel the fluid travel down my right arm, there is a warm tingle in my head followed by an odd taste and sensation of my tongue.  

While I lay there my belief in magical wishful childhood fantasy comes back to me. Why are they taking so long???   Maybe the mass is gone??? They will tell me there is no lump, nothing is there and I am free to go home with an all clear;~)

With my closed eyes I see the Caves of Lascaux from my Art History books.  
Just like the hunters praying for a good hunt, a mythopoeic vision of the optimum outcome is planted  in my head, I imagine myself cancer free and free to go.

Just then the technician opens the door to tell me the doctor is in the room to take the tissue samples from the mass.   The doctor introduces himself to me without looking at my face.  I am still lying face down on the table with my breast being held in a clamp.  "Don't move Carol", the the technician tells me as she pats comfortingly on my back she covered with a flannel blanket to keep me warm.

" Little bee sting" is the term they use when injecting the fast acting Lidocaine.   More Lidocaine is given as the needle is inserted deeper into my breast.  " Back into MRI for more pictures Carol."  The needle is guided to the mass via MRI then back out for a drilling sound as six samples of tissue are removed from my breast.  A titanium hook is put into place that will be remove during surgery later this month.  Now I have a titanium hook in both right and left breast that will be connected to a line before the surgery.  The surgeon will follow the line back to the exact place of the biopsy in my breast. 

After the procedure I sat up to recollect myself and enjoyed a small glass of orange juice that reminded me of all the times I have donated blood. If I have cancer does that mean I am no longer able to help others by donating my blood??? Two more light compression mammograms.  I am sent out the door with instructions not to do any heavy lifting or exercise for the next twenty four hours.

Quick stop at the store for a new garbage disposal as the plumber is coming today to hook up water and gas lines in the kitchen.  Yesterday the installers brought in the new granite island and counter top, for the sink and cook top.  Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans ;~)

 After the plumber is gone I'm going for a walk outside around Clarence Town Park while I wait for the results of my biopsy.  I'll keep you posted with my results as soon as I hear but just for today ;~)

This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.   Psalm 118:24

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

" Fashion is in my blood. Growing up, I was always clacking around the house in my mother's shoes. "

" Fashion is in my blood. Growing up, I was always clacking around the house in my mother's shoes." Sophia Bush

I inherited my mother's hazel eye color.
Her good taste for expensive fabrics, color, and fashion.
Her ability to listen with empathy during a conversation. 
Her excellent cooking, decorating and entertaining skills.
 This week I am waiting to see if I inherited her gene for Breast Cancer. 
My parents first Christmas in their new home 1952

My doctors have kept a watchful eye on me since I found the first lump in my breast at age 29.  Every year since then I have gone for annual mammograms. Some years they found a cyst that was easily aspirated with a needle using ultra sound technology.  I had a sense of joy and relief as I watched the cyst collapse when drained. 
For the past few years tiny white specks of calcium were pointed out to  me on my mammogram films. Often I got as far as the last office to the exit only to have to go back for another mammogram just to make sure it was all clear.   I am no stranger to wondering which way the door would open.  For years I wondered would I be spending the fall at Buffalo State College or would I go directly to Roswell Park Cancer Institute?  Believe me, it was with a sense of joy and appreciation when I made the calls to loved ones from the parking lot waiting to hear I got the all clear.
This summer has been a little different.  Since August 3, 2010 things have begun to change.  This time the doctor said, " Carol, I have a little concern about the growing cluster of calcium specks showing up. Let's get a needle biopsy today to be sure."   She said the was no lump but to be on the safe side I needed a Needle Biopsy to examine a little tissue.  Since I have been proactive about my health in general I was happy to work with the technicians to make everything go a quickly and smoothly as possible.
This image was taken in 1959 when my mom was 35 the year she found breast cancer.

                   Fred was 5, I was almost 3 and Mark was just under 1 year old.
My mother went on to live 35 more years after her breast cancer treatment and she did not die from cancer.  This information has been a message of hope and inspiration to many women in their battle against cancer.

Yesterdays my MRI showed a small lump, not fluid, this time in my left breast. 
Tomorrow morning I will have a MRI Needle Directed Biopsy will let me know if the cells in this lump are benign or not.  

Among all the other characteristics I inherited from my mother I possess her Courage as well as her ability to make lemonade when life throws me lemons.  During all of my hours of waiting for medical test I have been kind, caring and courteous to the other women who are anxiously waiting for what comes next.   No matter what my outcome is after tomorrow MRI guided Needle Biopsy, I am overwhelmed and thankful for the family and friends who have expressed care about me.  Three women have already offered to help me any time I need them. I am also thankful that I feel so strong and healthy right now. Each day I either walk three miles or ride my stationary bike 8 kilometers in addition to other daily household chores. 

Early detection is the best offense we have in any women's fight against breast cancer.

Most cases of breast cancer occur 'by chance'. However, breast cancer does occur more often than usual in some families because of their genetic make-up.

Barry, Kara, Me and Jim   September 1, 2010

I was trained through the American Cancer Society in Pittsburgh with Look Good Feel Better     This wonderful program provides free cosmetics, skin and beauty care treatments to anyone healing from cancer treatment.  

Inspired by the Look Good Feel Better concept Kara and I will be working on a series of  ricerafferty Breast Cancer Hope Statement Necklaces with a portion of the our sales going to cancer research.
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