Friday, October 29, 2010

" A gals gotta do what a gals gotta do." Velma Rice

" A gals gotta do what a gals gotta do."  Velma Rice - fashion merchandiser, excellent homemaker, wise woman of faith and life experience and my mother ;~)
There was a beautiful Red Maple tree growing in our yard when we made this house our new home in November 1998.  One year under the cover of heavy winter snow the mole family was so hungry they ate the bark around this tree so much so that I thought it would surely die.  As is my practice in my garden and my life I never cut out broken, injured, damaged plants or people.  Instead I give the proper fertilizer, light, water and time to see how things develop.  The Red Maple survived and to my amazement has flourished in the past eight years since its trunk was damaged.

A few weeks ago while the plumbers were here to upgrade my kitchen work space  we had them explore why water was back washing into the garage during rain storm and deep snow pack meltdowns.  Sure enough the Red Maple had found a well spring by breaking the pipeline of our storm drains.  Sadly the day had arrived when I had to admit the tree was more of an nuisance than an object of beauty in my garden.   Before new pipe could be laid and a new island garden could be planted someone had to cut down that tree.    What to do ??? What to do ???

Being only a 10.5 inch caliper tree trunk their was no need for a big tree service company to get this job done.  Confident I could slay this giant myself I asked many of the men in my life to be with me just for good measure.  All of the men I asked for help were busy slaying their own dragons. Each one had his own special reason why I should wait. Each promised to help me when they had more time.

On the morning of October 4, 2010 Western New York was blessed with a bright, sunny morning following what seemed like a week of rain.  I had sent Jim into Pittsburgh for the weekend to be with his mother so this seemed like the perfect time to get the job done !!!

First I removed as many of the lower branches I could reach without a ladder.  This would lighten the load of the trunk working smarter not harder ;~)

my trusty electric saw used to slay the beast  ;~)

About this time my neighbors Barbara and Gaylen heard all the noise in the early morning. OOPS   I was caught before the deed was complete.   My lovely next door neighbors soon joined me in the project. 

Gaylen does the honors to carve the bird

Barbara walking home to the right in this image of the clean cut down tree ready for reconstructive work to be done in the island.

Kara arrived on the scene in time to help clear away the leaves and branches cut into pieces perfect to enjoy with a glass of wine around my fire pit.

It was during the clearing of the leaves and branches that I shared with my neighbors that I had surgery on my breast four days prior in search of breast cancer.  They were both so kind and concerned that I take care of myself and be sure to contact the doctor for results of my biopsy.

  here I am minutes after we cut down the tree sporting the new rice rafferty breast cancer awareness statement necklace

Little did I know then that I would be the new face of breast cancer.

there is no lump,
no discharge,
 no pain,
no change of my skin
I feel very strong and healthy

my cancer cells were found from my diligent surveillance of my general health through routine examines.

Today I am feeling truly BLESSED that my cancer cells were found in the early Stage 0, DCIS

Now, for all of the people in my life who feel knowing I have a few cancer cells in my body scares you to death. 
 Relax !!!
You can not get cancer from me ;~)  Cancer is not a contagious disease. 
 I will have genetic testing to see if I am a carrier of the gene from my mother to my children.
Some people who hear I have cancer cells in my breast mumble something about breast cancer not being in their family as a thy walk away from me.  Sorry they are not aware that 90% of all breast cancers are not related to a family history.  For those women like me who have a family history perhaps we are very fortunate to be vigilant in a breast health care ;~)
Honestly, no one is sure they are immune to breast cancer.
Go get yourself tested...

You can relax also that I am not going to die from breast cancer right here in front of you. 

In fact, my mother, Velma Rice found her breast cancer mass in 1958 when she was just 35 years old. She had a mastectomy of her left breast followed by radiation treatments for 30 days.  My mother then went on to live another 35 years and she never was bothered by cancer again.  In fact, she died of a stroke.  Perhaps her blockages were aggravated by the radiation treatments given to cancer patients back then.

 I may in fact never die of cancer either.

 " There is nothing to fear but fear itself. " Franklin D. Roosevelt

Hope you find it in your heart to share a cup of tea with me ;~)

in the meantime,
 A gals gotta do what a gals gotta do and I have more dragons to slay ...
 Are you with me ???  Do you have my back ???

Thursday, October 28, 2010

so you plant your own garden...

        After a While
After a while you learn the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul and you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises,
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead,
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns
if you get too much, so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure,
you really are strong, you really do have worth,
and you learn and you learn.
With every goodbye, you learn. Veronica Shoffstall

I have cancer cells in my breast in multi focal points.  There is no mass.  I do not feel sick.  It was a shock to me when the results of my bilateral biopsy showed malignant cells in my right breast.  I was shocked, stunned when I first heard this news.  Oh, Jesus, I said, How can this be ???
 My body heals so quickly.  Immediately I asked where do I go from here??? 

I AM HERE back in the middle of another chance to learn lesson for living.  I have been in a an intensive learning room before.             All Shall Be Well.  

Like a seed planted in the earth I will grow.  From this learning experience I will look a bit different but it will still be me.  
Souls do not break, they bounce ;~) 

I am Ultra Feminine Warrior.                All Shall Be well

Winter will be here for awhile then Spring will come again

Tuesday was a warm and sunny in Clarence NY so I planted my bulbs in my new island garden.

Winter will be here for awhile but Spring will come again ;~)

Monday, October 25, 2010

"What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it."

"What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it."   J. Krishnamurti

I am learning an old lesson in a new way.  If you have been following my blog for the past two months you know I have been on a journey with breast cancer.  After the bilateral lumpectomies on September 28th I felt wonderful within a few days.  So good in fact I cut down a tree in my garden along with the assistance of my senor citizen neighbors Gaylen and Barbara and my daughter Kara using an electric power saw.   With my usual Ultra Feminine Warrior strength I bounced back to focus on life leaving the past two month is the rear view mirror.  As a reward for myself during all of the mammograms and ride in the MRI machine I promised myself that my birthday would be celebrated with both of my children.  We all enjoyed a lovely weekend in West Chester, New York.

Here I am wearing the new Breast Cancer Awareness Statement Necklace I designed for rice rafferty celebrating birthdays with Kara, Barry and Meghan outside of the church where Meghan and Barry are making plans to marry each other ;~)
After birthday celebration mass with my family, Meghan and I are bookend birthday Libras, Oct. 9th and 17th ;~)
On the drive back from Barry and Meghan's the doctors office called to ask why I missed my appointment that day.  Kara thinks it was accidentally on purpose as I was so excited to put all of the medical procedure's in my rear view mirror.  I am usually organized to a fault for appointments and responsibilities. Today I will attend a new appointment with destiny.  After speaking with my surgeon over the phone at my insistence she had the unenviable task to break the news cancer cells were found in the biopsy of my right breast.

Doctor said it is not her practice to give patients news like this over the phone but after getting to know me she thought it best to tell me sooner rather than let me wait until today in her office.

So far I learned I have stage 0 Breast Cancer known as DCIS or Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

I designed the  rice rafferty Breast Cancer Awareness Statement Necklaces for women Inspired by the Look Good Feel Better   I took the training certification classes for Look Good Feel Better  as part of my continuing education while we still lived in Pittsburgh.  The first two statement necklaces I designed I offered to a charity fundraiser in Buffalo, NY and Pittsburgh, Pa.   The people from Viva for Life sent a nice young man out to my home to pick up one necklace.    I did not hear from the Pittsburgh coordinator until she wished me Happy Birthday after their event was over.   Little did I know when I thanked the Creator for health and healing during morning mass for my birthday as I wore this statement necklace, it was not accepted because I would need this one for myself.

I believe in a divine Higher Power who loves all of us and is greater than all of us.  The older I get I am learning everything happens for a reason.   Most importantly I believe in the words of Julian of Norwich   "ALL SHALL BE WELL"

This statement necklace will be with me on my journey inspiring me to look good and feel better.

Forgive me as I have to jump on my stationary bike for 9 kilometers, read from my meditation literature and get ready for my visit with my surgeon at 1:00 today.

As I prepare myself for this journey I remember the words spoken to me often by my mother during the three years I took care of her and daddy before they died seven months apart.
" A gals got to do what a gals got to do."    Velma Rice

Right now I have to go and take care of myself. Thanks for reading my blogs ;~)  Please come back to spend a little time with me as I share my experience of my journey.

Now go make yourself a VERY CREATIVE DAY ;~)   Carol Ann Rice Rafferty

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

" What if God made a mistake? "

" What if God made a mistake?

Buddy: Well, the way I figure it, he never makes mistakes. I mean, he made sure we got together."  Fried Green Tomatoes
Patricia Neal (born September 21, 1944), known professionally as Fannie Flagg, is an American actress, comedienne and author.

Looking out from my kitchen window I see the tomato plants that served me these past few months are showing the wear from a few overnight frosts.  Part of today's work will be to gather the last of the green tomatoes then clear away the old plant material into my composting heap.

                         This morning I greeted the day with a nice plate of Fried Green Tomatoes.
Sliced green tomatoes coated with corn meal, seasoned sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper.
  Next I heated my wok coated with a little no stick baking spray and a few dashes of olive oil.

The work surface of my island shows the process as well as a pan of oven roasted, fresh beets, washed, tops and bottoms trimmed then lightly sprinkled with olive oil the cooked until tender in a 350 degree heat.

  I served these Fried Green Tomatoes with fresh, Free Range Eggs sprinkled with grated, Sharp New York Cheddar Cheese and slices of warmed Prosciutto.

Awe, yes it's  Autumn in New York ...

     Autumn is the end of summer, the beginning of a rest for the fields and a good time for Thanksgiving.  God, he or she, the Creator of the Universe does not make mistakes. Everything happens for a reason.
It is that Higher Power brought us together.

Get outside and enjoy some part of this day. Be sure to make some mistakes today also, it will give you practice forgiving yourself as well as provide you with another chance to grow...

Eat from God's Table meaning eat your food as close to the way it looks in nature.

In everything give thanks ;~)

Friday, October 15, 2010

“Of course if you like your kids, if you love them from the moment they begin, you yourself begin all over again, in them, with them, and so there is something more to the world again.”

“Of course if you like your kids, if you love them from the moment they begin, you yourself begin all over again, in them, with them, and so there is something more to the world again.”
William Saroyan quotes (American Writer known for his stories celebrating the joy of living in spite of poverty. 1908-1981)

More than any presents what I really wanted for my 54th birthday was to be with my children. During every minute of the testing and surgery in search of breast cancer during these last two months I promised myself my reward would be spending precious time with Barry and Kara for my birthday weekend.

From the time can remember my dream in life was to be a Mommy. The plan was to have a boy first then a girl. After I gave birth to Barry then Kara my dream was complete that was it for having children.

When people meet meet me today and hear that I was a stay home, full time Mommy their response is, "Nice that you could afford to stay home with your children."

What they never look at is the sacrifices my husband and I made so I could be home to raise our family. Barry was born just before our second wedding anniversary. After I left my job even though it was a low paying office job that put a screeching halt on frivolous spending for years. Jim drove a 1974 VW Gold Sun Bug  we bought used for $4000 cash right after we got marrind in May 1978. He drove that car until we had to by a larger car with a real trunk to transport groceries home after we had Barry and Kara in 1984. I never did learn to drive the stick shift in Pittsburgh; that left me home without a car for the first six years of our marriage. Not many young women I know are willing to do that today.

Christmas gifts for me included; a cutlery set to make meal preparation easier as well as a commercial grade Eureka vacuum with a really long cord so I could work faster cleaning our home. That vacuum was great until it was time to empty the bag full of dirt.  It was designed without paper bag liner. Still using that cutlery set in my kitchen and that old Eureka Christmas gift is still being used to vacuum my car or clean leaves and debris out of our garage.

 The first ten years of our marriage we had definite scary dips into poverty thanks to six months of unemployment when my husband was a laid off Sand Lab Technician for McConway and Torley in Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh.

Funny how my happiness was not affected by our lack of money.  No matter how little cash I had access to I never considered myself poor. The less money we had the more creative I became as a wife, mother, home cook, seamstress, gardener, home decorator, day trip planner, reading specialist teacher for the children.

In other words "I was all over the place". If there was a need for myself, my husband or my children I figured out how to get the job done well with very little money. In almost every case that meant more work for me but I rose to the occasion.  Interesting how the lessons learned in the trenches stay with us for life...

Life is different for me now.  I have arrived at a new plateau of living. Barry and Kara are adults now who take care of their own needs. This is my time to focus creative energy on my art and wearable art objects sold under the cottage industry is started with my daughter rice rafferty.

Last Saturday was my 54th birthday; I feel really BLESSED ;~)

I am sitting here in my studio writing my blog while Chant is playing in the background,  and

Frankincense is burning in the Blessing Bowl I made from up cycled brown bag papers

 Looking back on the past week and feel truly blessed because too many good people I have known have not lived to enjoy 54 healthy years on this earth.

 I am BLESSED because I am THANKFUL;
  • for a husband who has loved me for 32 years of marriage and 4 years of dating before that, he excuses my exccentricities by telling himself and our children, " Your mother's an artist" :~)
  • for a son who taught me how to be a Mommy and loves me even if he is an economist and can ascribed a numerical value to me.     I'm PRICELESS ;~)
  • for a daughter who shares my vision as an artist and entrepreneur
  • for rice rafferty our cottage industry for women, by women, to improve the life of women.
  • for friends from Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and around the world, those that moved away and friends on face book that brighten my day with their intellectual information, witty humor and fellowship via the Internet.
  • for our 14 year old Pomeranian Chewie, who reminds me to enjoy everyday, he does not let stiff joints, poor eye sight and an occasion seizure kill his joy for living...
  • for my grand kitty Fever that I am watching for Barry and fiance Meghan, he teaches me to linger longer out in the garden on sunny days, strike up a playful situation that is completely unprovoked and the enjoy a cat nap in the afternoon.
  • for these and many more pleasures in my life I give thanks as a look back over this past week and remember...
    Jimi and me

wearing my latest rice rafferty breast cancer awareness statement necklace after giving thanks for another birthday
Meghan O'reilly-green, Barry, me and Kara  @ Stone Barns, West Chester, NY

I really love being a Mommy ;~)

Meghan and I share a birthday cake and week, me Oct. 9th and Meghan Oct. 17th ;~)
Thank Kara for the lovely birthday cake ;~)

last birthday celebration for this year ;~)
 The rest of the year Kara and I will celebrate unbirthdays ...

Friday, October 8, 2010

“Plant the seeds of Love in your hearts. Let them grow into trees of Service and shower the sweet fruit of Ananda. Share the Ananda with all. That is the proper way to celebrate the Birthday.”

“Plant the seeds of Love in your hearts. Let them grow into trees of Service and shower the sweet fruit of Ananda. Share the Ananda with all. That is the proper way to celebrate the Birthday.”   Sri Sathya Sai Baba quotes (Indian Spiritual leader, b.1926)

October 9, 1956 is my birthday.  I share a birthday with the late John Lennon who would be 70 if he had not been murdered and his son Sean Lennon. 

I'm a BIRTHDAY GIRL !!!  I Love to celebrate my birthday and I love to celebrate your birthday too if you need to get a party started call me ;~)  When I was growing up my family used to laugh at how I insisted celebrating " Birthday Weekend " that later grew into " Birthday Week". 

LOVED this birthday number FIVE !!!!!  Here I am in kindergarten, home from my television debut on Ricky and Copper Show as a birthday guest.

Proudly wearing in my Shirley Temple dress here I am surrounded by the love of my older brother Fred, younger brother Mark, maternal Grandmother looks on as I smile at my mom, dad, and Grandma Rice.  One of my dirty little secrets is, I LOVE Birthday Cakes decorated with FLOWERS ;~)   You are welcome to come visit me in my studio any afternoon if you show up with a decorated cake I promise to have a nice pot of tea ready in a minute to share some tea and sympathy ...


                                         Here are Jimi with me in 1975 on my nineteenth birthday.

We are surrounded by a small selection of my house plants; the Ming Aralia  and the Norfolk Island Pine
He soon learned how much I love to garden and how to celebrate a birthday for a week. 

 Honestly, my celebration is more about the presence of being with people I love and people who love me more than about the presents.
On face book I love to write a birthday greeting on my friends walls.  I always write the same thing; Happy Birthday ..., make it a good day ;~)

 Taking this advice to heart I make everyday a good day for myself too.
This day is getting away from me so I will have to add more images
 from many of the other Birthday Girls that are me on another post.

Today ,I am busy pushing through a few loads of laundry, making a Whole Wheat Cortland Apple Pie, packing homemade Vegetable Soup, sauteing Brussels Sprouts in  Olive Oil and Garlic, then packing to spend this weekend with my son, his fiance, my daughter and hubby. 

Barry has some pumpkin patch fun, visit to the Rockefeller Stables and a Clam Bake planned as part of the Birthday Weekend Festivities.  I'll take more pics and post them soon. 

If this weekend is your birthday, make it a great, if it is not your birthday make it great anyway.

Kara and I love to celebrate A Very Merry Un Birthday to YOU !!!

Please keep me in prayers as I am still waiting on the final results for my biopsies. 
I feel really great so I expect good news.
Now out for a wonderful walk in the windy, afternoon sunshine, Quigong exercises and  putting final touches for getting my show on the road.

 Rest In Peace John Lennon
Happy 70th Birthday

 Give Peace a Chance ;~)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I will let God take care of me. I will let Him make me feel how much I am loved. I will let Him surprise me and show me things I have never known before.

" I will let God take care of me. I will let Him make me feel how much I am loved. I will let Him surprise me and show me things I have never known before. "
 Jocelyn Soriano is a CPA, auditor, writer, novelist, blogger and empathy.

Here I am just four days after bilateral lumpectomies on Tuesday morning.  Actually I was feeling great right after being released from the hospital at 2:00 after the recovery from the surgery. Had Jim drive me to Wegman's for to pick up some Shrimp Bisque and Spicy Tuna Sushi as I had not eaten since Tofu and Veggie dinner the night before. 

I only took two of the pain pills the doctor ordered as no need to take pills if I was not in any pain.  Wednesday morning I rode 9 kilometers on my stationary bike since it was raining all day.  Thursday I took one walk around the park for my usual outdoor exercise.  Yesterday I enjoyed two walks one in the morning and one in the afternoon sun.  Quick visit yesterday with my dermatologist for my annual check upconfirmed my skin is healing very nicely and she predicts that I will not even show scares.  Much to surprise and delight, even if I do work in Fiberarts and as a Seamstress, the doctor did not even use stitches to close my wounds.  Simple clear steri strips and some super glue were all that was needed put me back together.

New Breast Cancer Awareness Statement Necklace made while I am recovering
 Since I am blogging my experience to help other women who will have to walk the journey I have since August 3rd I will included the whole truth; the good, the bad and the ugly.
If you have read my previous blogs you know I approached this experience as an athlete in training with a very positive attitude.  Arriving at Millard Filmore Suburban Hospital at exactly 6:00 am as scheduled was smooth since I had done the preregistration EKG, blood work and was cleared for surgery by my Primary Care Physician. Take off my street clothes, have the IV port placed into my vein and take the first of many blood pressure readings.  The first blood pressure was low for me around 106/ 68. The nurse commented that most people came into the hospital with higher than normal blood pressure.  Hummm maybe those Quigong exercises are paying off ;~)
Since my time in the operating room was 8:30 by 7:00 I was wheeled down the hall to a small room with a mammogram machine.  YIKES more radiation ;~(   More mammograms were needed to locate the exact placement of the Titanium marker.  This is where things started to change to a negative direction.  With my left breast clamped in the mammogram Lo Rad machine a male doctor came into the room, introduced himself then from beneath my left breast he harpooned me with a wire attached to something that looked very much like a plastic sewing spool that hold thread.  Like a cowboy he pushed this wire into my breast then pushed it up and pulled it down a few times all without using any Novocaine or topical medications.  I am very tolerant of physical pain in fact I had Barry and Kara both natural childbirth and was back home taking care of my home within two days.  I tried hard to focus as they took more mammograms but nothing I did could combat my feelings of nausea, dizziness, sweating with a drop in blood pressure and pulse of 48.  After smelling salts, cold compress, pushing on my vagal nerve all failed to alleviate the symptoms the good doctor ordered a cart, nurse and an IV drip of saline solution to rehydrate me and get my blood pressure back to normal.
At this point the doctor said to the nurse, " We got an intelligent patient here."  " We don't usually have intelligent patients so well versed about her health conditions."
I laughed as I asked, " Oh really, where do the intelligent patients go?"
Soon after drinking in the IV bag I was able to sit up on the cart, blood pressure and pulse were rising and I was ready to repeat the wire procedure on my right breast.

When the doctor said the debate is out over the pain experienced during this procedure I reminded him that since I am the one with a wire sticking our of my breast my vote is YES !!! it does hurt very much.  Needless to say he was less of a cowboy and more compassionate when he impaled my right breast. More radiation with the Lo Rad ( don't you just love that name???) machine.  A foam cup was taped over each spool sticking out of my breasts and I was wheeled back up the hallway to the bed where the morning had begun.  Really wished you have an image of me in this set up but I am sure you get the picture.
Since my Vasovagal response slowed down the procedure of inserting the lead wires to the Titanium Marker Clips my best advice is try not to be dehydrated.  Find a focal point and work with the doctors and radiologist technicians to expedite this procedure. Feeling faint held back my surgeon and everyone waiting for me in the operating room. My apologies for making everyone held back on time was greeted with a pleasant, " Not at all, we are here waiting for you to be ready. "
As soon as I met my anesthesiologist I felt more confident.
"You are a lady." I saw with delight as soon as she introduced herself.
 One look at her co ordinating violet eye shadow, how it complimented her violet blouse under the hospital scrubs signaled to me we are kinder spirits. 
"Tell me about your history of sedation's Carol ? " asked the doctor. 
" No history of sedation, I had both babies without any medication."  I answered. 
" You are a strong woman then." she responded.
 " I am of Viking stock."   To which she answered, " Don't get me started, I love to talk about history and we have a job to do now." 
  From that point I don't remember much except a very relaxed ride down the hall to the operating room.  Then I remember hearing fast paced music that someone was talking about in the back ground. I remember thinking this is music to get the jog done ;~)  
Time from recovery room was a rather quick and eventful hour of drinking water, eating a graham cracker, walking to the bathroom unassisted, review of post surgery wound care then a ride out to the car waiting in front of hospital.  DONE ;~)  
My initial reaction as soon as I left the hospital was NEVER AGAIN !!! When I look how my wounds are now, how quickly I am on the mend and the fact that there are no stitches I have second thoughts.  Although I hope I never have to live time like this past month of tests, biopsies and waiting that have overrun my life since August 3, 2010 if I need to make the choice for my health I would elect to follow this same procedure again.  
 Now once again, I am in the waiting room for the next two weeks waiting for a final biopsy report that indeed no cancer has been found even in the larger surgical biopsy.  I have a feeling of being truely blessed from this experience and will continue to pray and do may part to make life brighter for people who are in their own battle against cancer. I am very well aware the door could have opened either way.  I am in this battle against cancer in everyone for the rest of my life.
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