Bonuses & Birthdays

Monet's Garden
Monet’s Garden, May 2014. I was there. A lifelong dream, fulfilled.

Everyone has been so kind with messages for my birthday.  My “bonus birthday” as a cancer sister called it.  A term I have heard women use when they lived beyond the time frame thought possible due to their situation.   That wording might be a somber thought to some, but to me it is one that brings a sense of deep gratitude.

It was in May, just about the date of my birthday in 2007 when I woke up and realized one breast was different. Everything about my life was changed from that moment.

It might surprise you to think that I am naturally a private person, but my desire to do something for women living with IBC has forced me to step outside my comfort zone and be very public with what I lived through.  I do this because I don’t want others to have to suffer months of misdiagnosis, or receive inadequate care, or know that physicians and researchers  who wish to study this disease can’t, due to lack of funding.  I would have never thought 7 years later, I would not only would still be here, but that my life would put me in a place that could have such an impact on the world of inflammatory breast cancer.

I can barely contain my tears as I write this.   In the last 7 years, I have joined in celebrations of great joy and I have witnessed the deepest of suffering.  In the last 7 years I have been to more funerals than anyone should ever have to endure and I have seen miracles.

As much as I would like to think of my self as independent, tough, and resourceful, no one is an island and I am grateful for the love, support, prayers and humor, you have all shared with me.

I hope to use my days for others to have many “bonus birthdays”.  I hope you will continue to pray for me, and support why I devote so much time to this cause.

With all my love, from someone who is always saying thank you,

Hope always,

Terry Arnold

please donate, for others, so we can have more bonus birthdays.

research matters.

www.theibcnetwork.org

Happy Father’s Day, Mom!

 

Mother and Daughter Hugging

Another Father’s Day will be here before you know it. Many people will be celebrating the day with their father or remembering those that have already passed. Fond memories from childhood will come to mind and bring smiles to their faces. I envy those that have had a loving father in their lives. That unique and loving bond between a father and child is so precious. I hope that those who are fortunate enough to experience that relationship appreciate every moment they have together and realize how blessed they are.

 

For me, Father’s Day is very awkward because while I do have a father that is still on this earth, he is not part of my life. My parents divorced when I was 5 years old. In the wake of this, my mom, sister and I moved from South Carolina to Texas. I still remember my grandparents picking us up in their car and riding all the way back to Texas nonstop. We initially stayed in 1 bedroom of my grandparents’ house. There was a double bed in the room that my mom and sister slept in. I was the smallest so I kind of migrated to whatever space was available. Sometimes it was on a pallet on the floor, the couch, the spare bed in my great-grandmothers room (she snored really loud), or even in the bathtub. It wasn’t a bad arrangement and I remember being happy. It took about a year before my mom was able to get an apartment where, again, we all shared a bedroom and I finally had a real bed to sleep in that I shared with my sister. It was great. It took growing up and having children of my own to understand the sacrifices and hardship that my mom went through to raise my sister and me on her own.

 

My dad had no involvement in our upbringing and paid no child support at all. He was an alcoholic and most likely didn’t keep a job long. I don’t remember a time that he called or sent cards or letters. He was just kind of gone. However, I remember hearing my sister crying about missing daddy. I just didn’t get it. Perhaps I was too young and hadn’t formed the bond that she had before we moved. I don’t even remember him being around much prior to that and I don’t have any good memories from my childhood about him. There are a few embarrassing and unpleasant memories but mostly it’s just a big blank.

 

After the birth of my first child, my aunt let me know that my father had maintained sobriety for a few years and would like to talk. I knew enough about 12 step programs that he wanted to make amends and I would not deny him that opportunity. Eventually, I went to South Carolina and we reunited. I had never really thought about him as “Daddy” so I didn’t know how to relate to him much less what to call him. I settled on calling him by his first name. I was in my 30’s and it was all quite awkward. He was a stranger to me but I wanted to find out if a relationship could grow since he was indeed my father.

 

For many years our interactions consisted of occasional phone calls and visits which left me emotionally exhausted. Christmas presents and birthday cards were exchanged. The weather, his health and news about various family members were all discussed but there was no palpable connection. You can try to pretend it’s there but eventually, you realize that the deep bond that is formed between parent and child is something that begins with the unconditional love a parent feels towards their child and grows through the ongoing presence they have in the life of that child during important life events. As a parent, I know and understand this. In fact, I have no doubt that the bond between a mother and child begins even before birth.

 

When I broke the news to my father about my impending divorce and financial stress, he was completely devoid of emotion. It was odd. He muttered something along the lines of oh, that’s too bad but it happens to a lot of people. Sadly, it was an opportunity to bond that passed by unnoticed by him. It was a time that he could have stepped up and acted like the father that he was. My disappointment in him was difficult to bear along with all of the other things that were falling apart in my life. I think at this point I finally realized that the “relationship” was a farce. When it came time to respond to the needs of his “child”, he had nothing to offer. I had to face the fact that this wasn’t healthy for me and let him go.

Mom & me

The person for me that deserves to be recognized on Father’s Day is my mom. She has always been the one and only parent in my life. She has filled the roles of both father and mother all of these years so for her, Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for always being there for me with love and support, and instinctively knowing when I needed it the most. I love you!

Am I Really Doing a Couple’s Photo Shoot?

Kathryn & Ronny baloons

“You fall in love with the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time.”   Unknown

 

Honestly, I did not expect this to happen at all. When I divorced, I was convinced that I would never have any kind of serious relationship again. I didn’t want to go through the emotional turmoil that I had experienced during my marriage. I was convinced that relationships had to be rough and I was perfectly fine being single for the rest of my life. Then along came this man that turned my world upside down in the best way possible and captured my heart. Next thing you know, we are doing a “couple’s photo shoot”! I definitely did not see this coming.

 Ronny and Kathryn upside down

I look at these photos taken by the Very Uniquely Gifted photographers, Bonnie and Gabriel Al-Rifai of 2 Birds Photography and think who is that woman who looks so content? I can’t believe it’s me! This incredible man has opened my eyes up to so much more love than I thought was possible. I have learned that relationships can be amazing. I want to encourage all who fear that true love is just for the movies. It is possible to find that person that loves you just as much as you love them and when you do, it will be worth all you went through to get there.

 Ronny and Kathryn 1

Ronny and I have been together for 2 years and have been photographed by many people but I have never seen photos like this. I am so glad that we agreed to connect with these 2 Birds! Their approach to a couples photo shoot fit us perfectly. No awkward poses, no fake smiles, it was just Ronny and me being exactly who we are and loving our lives together.

 Kathryn & Ronny laughing

I will treasure these captured moments of our laughter and love. I know that one day, I’ll be able to look back at these photos and see that this was just the beginning of a wonderful life together.

 

 

 

Do these jeans make me look fat?

operation beautiful post it note

In between exchanging recipes or chatting about the kids, women often engage in what’s termed “fat talk.” Experts once thought fat talk was reserved for middle school girls, but studies have found that it is a common occurrence in women of all ages, including older women, and even some men do it. Denise Martz of Appalachian State University who co-authored a study on the subject says, “Because women feel pressured to follow the fat talk norm, they are more likely to engage in fat talk with other females.” According to the study, fat talk lets women appear “modest,” which is more socially acceptable in a society that shuns egotism. “We tend to dislike arrogance and especially dislike it in women,” Martz explains. “Women are perceived as okay if they fat talk and acknowledge that their bodies are not perfect but they are working on it.”

The fat talk phenomenon might be exclusive to wealthy countries where food is plentiful. In areas of the world where famine is the norm, extra weight is perceived as a sign of “wealth” and status.

Not everyone thinks fat talk is productive. Dr. Carolyn Becker, professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, says, “We have some really nice experimental data that shows that a mere three to five minutes of fat talk significantly worsens body dissatisfaction.” Becker goes on to say, “And that’s really problematic, because body dissatisfaction is associated with reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables, decreased exercise behaviors, and in fact, in one study they found that adolescent girls that were somewhat overweight, those who liked their bodies gained less weight than those who disliked their bodies.”

A campaign called Operation Beautiful, the brain-child of North Carolina-based Caitlin Boyle, is dedicated to ending fat talk. The slogan on her Web site reads, “Transforming the way you see yourself one Post-It Note at a time.” The site encourages people to leave hand-written motivating sticky notes on the mirrors of public restrooms, at the gym, at work and even on “a random car windshield” and to include the Web site at the bottom – www.operationbeautiful.com. Participants are asked to send in photos of their postings, which are then featured on the site. One featured note reads, “You are beautiful. Never think otherwise.”

Jackie Silver is the founder and president of AgingBackwards.com <http://AgingBackwards.com>  and author of “Aging Backwards: Secrets to Staying Young.” Sign up for her free newsletter at: http://agingbackwards.com/ and connect her on Twitter, @AgingBackwards, Facebook, http://on.fb.me/AgingBackwardsJackieSilver and Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/agingbackwards/.