Four Brave Ladies

We’re back from our vacation — over 1600 miles round-trip — miles that took us through some of the most scenic winding country roads and rolling mountain passes I have ever seen. We drove across Virginia, and through parts of South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee. We were on the outskirts of Nashville when our faithful Toyota Avalon ticked over 100,000 miles on the odometer.

The photos can’t capture the beauty, but I’ll share a few in this post. The one above was taken in North Carolina, near the Tryon International Equestrian Center.

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This week’s blog title, “Four Brave Ladies”, is a tender tribute to four women I’ve spent time with in the past five weeks, all who have recently been touched by cancer. I will not mention their names out of respect for their privacy. Their loved ones will recognize these stories.

K’s Story

My first tribute is for a friend I met at church  shortly after we moved to Virginia. She had a wonderful sense of humor, and I enjoyed getting to know her and her family. As our children grew, we shared many laughs and stories — particularly during our kid’s teen years. She and her husband were both music teachers and I was a band mom. That provided a long-lasting connection.

Her cancer diagnosis came in October of 2017. Just two years into her retirement she received the devastating diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer. It had metastasized to her lungs. There was no cure, only the hope of a miracle and more time.

She fought valiantly for the next 21 months — a miracle in itself for a pancreatic cancer patient — during which she met many milestones for trips and family gatherings. On July 6th she met another milestone, when she held her tiny newborn granddaughter for the first time. Can you even imagine the joy in her heart when their eyes met?

On Friday evening, I received a call telling me that my friend was welcomed into the arms of Jesus. The greatest milestone of all. May she rest in eternal peace.

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D’s Story

My second tribute is for a relatively new acquaintance. We’ve only met once or twice in the past, but our paths crossed again during our vacation. She is a breast cancer survivor. Her cancer was caught early. After diagnosis she had a mastectomy followed by a short course of chemotherapy. She was blessed with very few side effects. Her treatment is over, her spirits are high, and she is doing very well.

Throughout her cancer journey, she kept her eyes fixed on the Lord. We talked about our shared faith, our families, and our lives back home. It seemed like we had been friends for years! I was grateful that the Lord brought us together again as an encouragement to one another in our walks of faith.

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N’s Story

My third tribute is for a friend that we have known for over 30 years. Her family lived on a farm in Maine. They were neighbors and close friends of my parents, and were a huge source of comfort and support for my mom when my father died suddenly in 1986. Her children grew up and moved away, and she and her husband relocated their farm to North Carolina several years ago, shortly after my mother and brother moved to Virginia.

We haven’t been in touch very often since their move. I reached out several weeks ago to ask if we might visit during our upcoming vacation, and was shocked to learn that she was battling breast cancer. She received the diagnosis on her birthday last year. Even though she had just completed her chemotherapy and is beginning radiation treatment, she still wanted us to visit.

It was wonderful seeing our friends again. Although the  chemo left her weak and exhausted, she still enjoys her daily walks. We were given a full tour of their property, accompanied by her husband, their two granddaughters, three dogs, and a donkey. We were quite a sight to see! She is another brave fighter, and I expect she will regain her strength — and hair — very soon. I was so glad we were able to visit during our trip, and I will continue praying for her full recovery.

 

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M’s Story

Yes, I mentioned four tributes, didn’t I?

”M” stands for Mom. Last Friday, while still on vacation, I received word that my mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She has Paget’s Disease which accounts for between 1%-4% of all breast cancers diagnosed each year. It’s very rare, but treatable. That is, if you are 85 years old and in relatively good health. My mother has advanced Vascular Dementia and a pacemaker. She cannot have an MRI or a mammogram to see how far the cancer has progressed. The disease is clearly visible though, and presented itself as a nasty rash. My brother and I will meet with a breast surgeon next week to discuss our options. It will be a difficult visit. Your prayers are coveted.

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I’ve lived my entire life knowing only a handful of people who have been touched by cancer. Suddenly this disease is touching so many lives of people I love. It is hard to not feel a sense of helplessness or even dread, however, I have a Father who holds me safe and secure. I have confidence and the reassurance that He will uphold me through whatever trials are on the horizon.

“I consider that sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” — Romans 8:18

Sultry Summer

It’s been a wonderful week here in northern Virginia, despite the oppressive humidity. My walks are starting earlier each day as I try to avoid the heat, but this morning I discovered an added bonus — a wild blackberry bush! I figured I’d better pick some before the birds discovered them. And wow, they tasted really good mixed in with blueberries and raspberries on my breakfast cereal! 😊

Since Independence Day fell on Thursday this year, it seemed more like a Saturday. We drove out to visit Mom at her nursing home, and my brother met us there with Chick-fil-A — Mom’s favorite treat! It was a special belated birthday celebration and we enjoyed spending some time together.

Just a quick update on the garden front . . .

Our tomatoes were rapidly disappearing from the vine, and all my zucchini as well! Some were completely devoured (mainly the cherry tomatoes) and some had big chunks missing. My hubby borrowed a “have-a-heart” trap, hoping to catch the critter, but that same evening he spooked a large doe in the garden. She had somehow broken through the wire fence, and was so frightened that she crashed right through it again during her escape! We haven’t had any further issues, but we are on guard for any more unwelcome guests.

I’m going to take a couple weeks off from blogging as we head out of town for a well-deserved vacation. Our road trip will take us to the Carolinas and Tennessee, where we will visit friends and family. We are eagerly anticipating this break since we haven’t had any time away since last fall.

Hopefully we will still have a garden when we return. 😉

I’ll look forward to sharing stories and photos from our trip in a few weeks. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some summer fun too!