Tag Archives: beach

The Hidden Scars of Breast Cancer

6 Nov

Image

 

Breast cancer leaves many scars, but the hidden ones are often the hardest to heal.  This honest, compelling look at the hidden scars of breast cancer is a must read for anyone who has been touched by cancer.  Read more…

New Website Focuses on Breast Cancer ~ The Empowered Patient

25 Oct

I’m so honored to be a part of a new website that was launched this week.  It’s called Empowered Patient.  Click below to visit the site where you’ll find one of my videos on the left hand side!

I’d love to hear your feedback!

EMPOWERED PATIENT

Wishing you a day filled with HOPE and inspiration!

Beverly McKee

The Breast Cancer Warrior

I’m so very honored to be a part of an new website that focuses solely on breast cancer.  It is a part of Cancer.org called “Empowered Patient”.  You can see my video on the left hand side of the screen!  Click below and share your feedback…
Wishing you a day filled with HOPE and inspiration!Beverly McKee
The Breast Cancer Warrior

– See more at: http://www.breastcancerwarrior.org/1/post/2013/10/new-website-focuses-on-breast-cancer-empowered-patient.html#sthash.bpthiJuN.dpuf

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

1 Oct

It’s October 1st, which signifies the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Before you buy that pink ribbon product, watch this video to become an informed consumer and hear a message that may save a life.

Read more…

A Crisis Averted Due to an Act of Kindness

27 Sep

 

ImageMy heart stopped when I saw the driver coming towards us…heading the wrong way up a one way ramp.  It was Saturday night and my family was headed home from dinner with Grandma.  We weren’t prepared for this unexpected event.  We veered out of the way and my husband rolled down his window to warn the driver.  An older lady peeked out of the door.  My husband yelled a warning over the traffic all around us…telling her she was headed the wrong way towards a busy intersection.

Read more…

Test Results!

27 Sep

Thanks for the kind comments, emails and FB messages in regards to my last blog:  Test Result Anxiety.

The results are in…Read more

Transforming A Day of Surgery Prep Into “Pay It Forward Friday”

20 Sep

Pay It forward Friday

The Breast Cancer Warrior shares her latest quest to find the rainbows through the storm. Check out her inspiring story/video about how transforming a day of surgery prep into “Pay It Forward Friday”. She invites you to join her with the goal of making the world a better place with one random act of kindness each week. Guaranteed to make you smile!

Read more…

Why I’m Opting for a Prophylaytic Hysterectomy

11 Sep

Image

Do you buy lottery tickets?  Like most people, I play on occasion, usually when the jackpot reaches the multi-million dollar mark.  Who couldn’t use an extra 20 million dollars? 

Did you know that your chance of winning the Powerball is one in 175 million?  And yet we still play. 

What if you had a one in four chance of winning?  Would you buy a ticket?  I would with those odds!

Some wonder why I am having a preventative hysterectomy with these same odds of developing ovarian cancer (27% to be exact).  My journey through breast cancer came with an all expense paid trip to world BRAC testing.  It was a whole new world for me.  I dodged the bullet with BRAC 1 mutation but I wasn’t so lucky with BRAC 2.  I officially have something in common with Angelina Jolie!

Please click here to read more….

A Lesson In Letting Go

6 Sep

 

Image

 

I was enjoying an early morning nature walk through the farmland behind my home.  It is my favorite place to reconnect with nature in Missouri.  Long stretches of shaded canopies created by hundreds of mature trees, abandoned fields that create a home for an abundance of wildlife, dry creek beds and antiquated barns.  I had missed my walks through this wonderland filled with the sights and sounds of nature at its finest.  I rounded the corner to greet the oversized tree that I had come to love through the years.  It is a gentle giant with limbs reaching far into the sky, providing a perfect silhouette against the field behind it.  I had taken many pictures of this tree throughout the years, each season bringing with it a different type of beauty. 

 

I stopped short when my beloved tree came into view.  I knew immediately that something was wrong.  The tree should have been full of beautiful green leaves, shielding the ground below from the bright sunlight cascading through the field.  Instead, the tree was nearly bare…no leaves on its branches or the ground.  I assessed the situation as I approached my old friend.  I was saddened to see a mammoth vine had climbed up the tree’s trunk and infiltrated most of the branches.  The vine was taking over the tree, squeezing the life out of it, one leaf at a time. 

 

I felt helplessly overwhelmed as I looked up at the dying tree, wondering how I could help.  I continued on my walk with a heavy heart and the goal of finding a solution.  As I pondered my new found dilemma, it occurred to me that this didn’t happen overnight.  The vine had climbed the tree’s trunk slowly but steadily, the tree oblivious to the danger at hand.

 

It dawned on me that as humans, we tend to allow emotional baggage creep into our lives until it slowly begins to weigh us down…just as the vine had taken over the tree.  Everyone experiences difficult challenges throughout life.  Many of us shut down emotionally in order to deal with the crisis at hand, not allowing our emotions to get in our way.  We put them in a little corner of our mind and move on.  We continue on our path of life, adding to that corner of unexpressed emotion with every loss, trauma or stressor.

 

Over time, the weight of our emotional baggage becomes too heavy to carry.  Much like the vine took over the branches of my beloved tree, the long term effects of chronic stress weigh heavily upon us, both physically and emotionally.  We start to experience depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, high blood pressure and a host of other physical ailments.   Our mind and body wear down from carrying the heavy weight for an extended period of time, crippling our immune system.  We become vulnerable to the smallest emotional stressors and have a hard time fighting off even the mildest illnesses.

 

At some point, we have to make a decision to let go of the emotional baggage.  The options are endless for letting go, but include talking to a friend, therapist or clergy or expressing our emotions through art, music, dance or writing.  Meditation is a very popular way to stay in tune with your feelings and emotions.   Bear in mind that if you’ve been carrying some of those feelings for many years, it won’t be easy to leave them behind.  It requires a lot of effort and ongoing practice to move past those feelings, but it can be done.

 

Letting go of emotional baggage is an act of self preservation.  Once we’ve gone through this process, many of us feel as though the weight of the world has been lifted from our shoulders.  We owe it to ourselves to take a moment every day to assess our feelings and let go of the emotions from our past. 

 

I know from talking to fellow survivors that many of us add to our emotional baggage on our journey through breast cancer.  We are too busy fighting the disease and side effects of treatment to experience the fear, anxiety, anger and sadness that accompanies our diagnosis.  I have tried to be cognizant of this fact throughout my journey, but seeing my favorite old tree suffocating from that vine really brought it all to light for me.  I want to live my life in the present, not weighed down by the emotions of my past.  I hope you can do the same because as we all know, life is short.  I hope you’ll take time to let go of old hurts, cry the unshed tears and move on to a happier, healthier life. 

 

I’m happy to report that my gentle giant, the tall tree has been given a second chance at life!  The caretaker of the property cut the vine from the trunk of the tree and also cut the vines from the branches.  It will take time, but eventually, the tree will sprout new leaves and once again, offer a canopy of shade to all those who seek shelter beneath it.

 

Thanks for reading!

Beverly McKee

The Breast Cancer Warrior

For more information about The Breast Cancer Warrior or if you know a 25+ year breast cancer survivor, please visit my website at www.breastcancerwarrior.org.

Watch my video to learn how I became the Breast Cancer Warrior by clicking here.

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for the latest updates about my journey through breast cancer and for daily inspiration.

© Copyright 2012-2013  Beverly McKee. All Rights Reserved

The Brown Pelican Rescue

25 Aug

 

Image

It was dark when I stepped onto Lighthouse beach on Sanibel Island.  I was excited to spend the morning with the wildlife on the beach, watching the sun peek over the horizon.  I was photographing my favorite piece of driftwood in front of the lighthouse when something jumped into my shot, startling me.  It was a young brown pelican.  He jumped onto the driftwood and sat there, posing perfectly.

I didn’t think much of it at first, but when he continued to hang out near me on the beach, I knew something was wrong.  I discovered that the little pelican had fishing line wrapped around his legs.  He couldn’t swim well and couldn’t fly.  He was vulnerable and asking me for help in the only way he knew how. 

My heart melted for this poor little guy.  I knew what it was like to be hurt and vulnerable, depending on the kindness of strangers to survive.  Nine long months of breast cancer treatment had taken away my ability to care for myself at times.  I had to depend on the kindness of the surgical nurses, the chemo nurses, my doctors, my husband, my mom and a whole crew of family and friends. 

I discovered that most people will step up to the plate if given the chance to help.   My mom retired early and left my dad at home alone to come to my house after every chemo treatment.  My husband became my 24 hour drug dealer after my bilateral mastectomy.  Friends and family delivered meals and helped keep things as normal as possible for my boys.  For the first time in my 42 years of life, I gave up control and let others care for not only me, but my boys, my home, my pets.  Being vulnerable was a new experience for me but in the end, it helped me realize that it’s okay to let others step in to help.  Life goes on…dinner get made, laundry gets done, the boys play with their friends, the house gets cleaned.  The many positives have outweighed the negatives for me during this journey through breast cancer and my new found vulnerability.

I had finished radiation about a month before my encounter with the brown pelican that morning.  My body and spirit had healed immensely during our time on Sanibel Island.  I was ready to be the caretaker…instead of the cared for.  I made several phone calls, trying to find someone to help at such an early hour.  The pelican gazed right into my eyes, pleading for help.  I promised that I wouldn’t leave him until he was safe.  I stay with my friend for over an hour, waiting in the hot sun.  He stayed close to me the entire time.  Somehow, he knew that I would take care of him. 

A policeman showed up with an assistant, a towel and a pet crate.  He made it clear that he did not have experience capturing a pelican.  Then miracle of all miracles, a jogger stopped and said he would help.  We formed a big circle around my little friend and he protested, trying to defend himself.  We were determined to save him and eventually, the jogger scooped him up in his arms, wrapping the towel around that razor sharp beak.  I snapped pictures as he helped the police assistant deposit him safely into the crate, but not before I pet his head and reassured him that he was in good hands.  I told him goodbye as he looked as me through the door of the crate.

It was an exhilarating feeling to be a part of saving his life.  For the first time in a really long time, I got to be the hero and the caretaker.  I’m still facing two surgeries next month:  a prophylactic hysterectomy and an exchange surgery, as the final step in my reconstruction.  I know that I will be vulnerable at the hands of the surgical nurses, my doctors and my family to take care of me during surgery and recovery.  Being able to give back to that little brown pelican made me feel like the universe is a bit more balanced.  It also taught me that a random act of kindness can be very healing.

I made an emotional video of the brown pelican rescue that I’m sure you will enjoy by clicking here.  It’s full of breathtaking pictures of birds and the sunrise over the bay.

Thanks for reading!

Beverly McKee (The Breast Cancer Warrior)

For more information about The Breast Cancer Warrior or if you know a 25+ year breast cancer survivor, please visit my website at www.breastcancerwarrior.org.

Watch my video to learn how I became the Breast Cancer Warrior by clicking here.

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates about my journey through breast cancer and the latest studies about breast cancer prevention and treatment options.

© Copyright 2012-2013  Beverly McKee. All Rights Reserved

Celebrating My First Hair Cut Since Chemo!

15 Aug

Image

Most of my fellow breast cancer warriors can relate to my experience the other morning.  Overnight, my new sprouting hair was suddenly too long to spike up across the top.  I had curls that would pop out on the sides, too short to blow out but too long to contain.  I shared my feeling of panic with my husband, wondering how I was going to walk around, looking unkempt with crazy hair.  I didn’t have a plan…which is never how I like to exist.

This particular day, however, was not supposed to be about me.  It was about my 8 year old friend, Linzi, who had been growing her hair for the sole purpose of donating it to a company that makes wigs for kids with cancer.  This day had been long coming and I was excited to celebrate this day with “my little girl”.  I’ve known Linzi since the day she was born and she is extra special to me.  She lets me play with her hair and talk about girlie things with her when the level of testosterone is too high in my house because I have all boys.

We gathered in Linzi’s kitchen as her hairdresser carefully cut her beautiful long ponytail.  She was excited to get a new, sassy haircut and feel the freedom of swinging her shortened locks like a diva.  It was a fantabulous event and I’m so very proud of Linzi for donating her hair in my honor!

Once we prepared Linzi’s long ponytail for the donation, I asked Linzi’s hairdresser, Lisa, if she had any ideas for my hair as it continues to grow.  Her face lit up and she informed me that she is the queen of growing her hair long, cutting it into a pixie cut, then growing it back out.  Yes, she had a plan and would love to cut it for me…right at that moment!

I was so excited to get my first haircut after chemo!  The camera was clicking as Linzi’s mom captured the moment for me.  She cut the sides and back very short and shaped the top for me, telling me that we would continue with this process until the top grew out enough to cover the sides.  Now I not only had a sassy new cut, but also a plan to continue my journey through growing it all out.  I was so excited!

Image

She assured me that now, instead of looking like I just got new hair, it looked like an edgy pixie cut.  I was a bit skeptical but it boosted my confidence for later that night when I went to my boys’ open house at school…my first time around a big group in Missouri without my wig.  I got a lot of compliments, which kept me smiling.

Yesterday, I was even more delighted when I went to a Back To School Celebration lunch with 20 other moms.  One of the moms was unaware of my journey through breast cancer and told me she assumed that I was ultra trendy.  She also pointed out that many celebrities are getting their hair cut very short.  She told me she loved it and asked if I was going to keep it short.  What a rainbow in what has been a difficult journey of hair loss and regrowth! 

Imagine my surprise when after lunch, a random stranger walked up to me and told me she loved my hair.  Needless to say, the days of my wearing a wig are gone.  This short hair is not my favorite look, but I no longer feel the need to hide under a hat or wig…this is my new look and I’m rocking it!

To my fellow breast cancer warriors who are still going through chemo, hang in there!  My last chemo was March 25th, a little more than 4 months ago and I am confident and proud of my trendy, sassy new hair!  Your day will be here before you know it! 

I would love to see pictures of your hair re-growth. Post them on The Breast Cancer Warrior Facebook page so we can share inspiration for our fellow warriors.  Remember we are ever alone in our journey through breast cancer.

Thanks again to my friend, Linzi for donating your beautiful hair in my honor!  You are an amazing young lady and I’m proud to be your friend!

Image

Thanks for reading!

Beverly McKee (The Breast Cancer Warrior)

For more information about The Breast Cancer Warrior or if you know a 30+ year breast cancer survivor, please visit my website at www.breastcancerwarrior.org.

Watch my video to learn how I became the Breast Cancer Warrior by clicking here.

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates about my journey through breast cancer and the latest studies about breast cancer prevention and treatment options.

© Copyright 2012-2013  Beverly McKee. All Rights Reserved