Thursday, November 21, 2013


My mom always says that the older one gets, the faster the time goes by. I always thought this was one of those weird things that parents say, but I know it's true. Last Friday marked the one year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. This is crazy to me, because it feels as if it were yesterday. I guess that day will always feel fresh and raw in my memory, because my life took a dramatic turn that day. I was coasting along, from day to day, thinking I knew what was going on, what this journey was all about. Little did I know. I had no idea. I am forever different in so many ways.

Let me start this post by saying that I am grateful for my family and my friends who have supported me this year. There are so many of you who have held me up when I didn't want to get up, or couldn't get up. I have met so many people that I would not have met without this disease. I have reconnected with people from the past, and plan to carry those connections into the future. I totally believe people are good, because I have seen this first hand. I am so blessed. 

I have to go back quite a few years to set this story up for those who may not know me well. I grew up in a loving home, with parents who did their best to show me the right path to take. I have a brother who has always made me feel super cool. We laughed a lot, we sang a bunch..they spanked, and I pushed the limits. I couldn't take my parent's word for how cruel and hard the world could be. I had to learn those lessons on my own. Some of my poor decisions were made to try to belong, some were made to numb hurt feelings..Some were made just because they felt good, and would make my poor father freak out. I spent half my life learning lessons the hard way, and although I have been able to turn myself around in the past few years by remaining sober, reconnecting with God, thinking about my actions and their effect on others and by being a mom to my precious babies, on the inside I was struggling to put the past away.

I thought I had finally found happiness. I had the nursing degree, the perfect kids, the husband, the new house...Then I had breast cancer. 
This illness has been crazy. The physical demands of surgery and chemo, the fear of leaving kids with no mother..The crying, the fighting, the recovery, the love, the survivor's guilt, the survivor's pride...After all of that, nothing is how it was. The life-flashing-before-my-eyes experience has changed how I view life, priorities, happiness, and most importantly myself. I have just now figured out that life is too short to hold on to old hurts and guilt. I can let it go. I have been forgiven for my past mistakes, and I don't have to carry it around anymore. 
With all of my flaws, I still have value. I don't have to go through the motions and I don't have to settle for anything less than pure joy.

Please continue to pray for my children as Christian and I close the chapter on our marriage. We are grateful for the years of the love and support that you all have given us. We are still very much a family, and are optimistic about our separate adventures.

It's not the house or the degree that will make me happy. Happiness comes the inside...It comes from my children never doubting that I am proud of them.. It comes from taking the power away from guilt and shame by letting it go.. it comes from sherbert punch...It comes from seeing and experiencing the good in others...It comes from bringing glory to God in times of trouble and sadness...It comes from side-splitting laughter at oneself...It comes from accepting the scars and celebrating them...It comes from letting people in..It comes from taking pride in all we do...Sometimes it comes by saying goodbye to one's old self.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I keep typing and deleting...typing and deleting... unsure of how to start this post. For the past few weeks, my attitude has sucked. For the life of me, I could not pull myself from the soggy bottom. But over the past few days, I have turned an important corner.

 I know this may come as a big surprise, but I am somewhat of a control freak. I have obsessive tendencies when it comes to certain things. I like the toilet paper to roll from the top, I like only colgate toothpaste, I eat the same thing for breakfast everyday. I make lists. I know you all find this hard to believe, but I assure you it is true. When I first was diagnosed, I decided that I was not going to let this illness steal my joy. I was going to keep a positive attitude. I was going to hold my chin up. I was going to be so brave, and for the most part I have done that. The emotional recovery this summer, however, has kept me on my face. I was in no way prepared for the feelings, and thoughts I have experienced, and it caused me to be disappointed in myself and the way I handled the challenge. I was supposed to be back to normal by now. I should be working, laughing, enjoying the little things. I now see that these expectations I had/have set for myself and my journey are completely ridiculous and it is ok for me to feel scared, uncertain, and shaken up. I have been through a great deal this year, and it might take me some time to process all of these feelings and fears. And that's ok.

I have had several conversations or encounters over the past few weeks that have reassured me that God is in control and his plan is perfect. Once again, He has placed people and events in my path to cause me to slow down and think and thank. I am the world's worst at letting go and relinquishing control, but when He constantly shows up when I call, and even when I don't, it makes it clear to me that I need to and will be able to let it go. These chance encounters, perfect unscripted words, smiles or hugs or messages or songs or rainbows... they are not chance at all. God's ways of saying "I got this!"

I know there are always going to be things in life that I am powerless over, but my control freak tendencies and bad attitude do not have to be some of them. I can have a bad day or feel uncertain and remain grateful, I can extend Grace to others as God has done for me. I can accept people in my path as a perfectly timed collision and find peace knowing that I don't have to be in control of everything...

Dates to remember:
September- All month we are collecting white tshirts, socks, toiletries for the Hale Foundation September 28- Light the Night
October 19- Miracle Mile -

"I don't know where the journey will end, but I know where to start." -avicci

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Soggy Bottom

It has been a while since I've posted. I always have stuff to share, but honestly, I lack the focus to sit still long enough to write. If I am completely honest, I cannot focus on anything for longer than five minutes. I feel like a 3rd grade boy; Unable to keep my seat, uncomfortable in my skin, anxious and gawky. 

 I am almost three months out from my last chemo treatment. My hair is coming in quickly, I have lost a few pounds, I have more energy, and my blood counts have almost recovered from the 6 months of torture. I was planning to go back to work last week, but my left tissue expander developed a leak. Dr. Lynn had to go in and remove the defective piece and install a new one, so I have spent the last 3 weeks with a flat tire and a drain tube. The drain came out yesterday, so hopefully I can return to my job by September 10. I Pray I can return by September 10. 

This summer has been very difficult for me. Up until this time, I have been able to remain positive. I have been able to hold on to the everyday, little things that bring me joy, to get me through. Just as this summer has been muted with rain and clouds, my mood has also been dark. I just knew that when chemo was a thing of the past, I could return to my normal self, and to my regular life. I now know that that is not going to happen. The feelings of uncertainty, the anxiety in my throat that makes it hard to breathe, the port in my chest that reminds me that the fight is still on, the solitude in crowded places, the inability to complete simple tasks and the restlessness that keeps me on the edge of my seat are debilitating at times. This has been so hard, partly because of the expectations I have for myself. It's been 3 months, Sarah. What is your problem?? Get it together. Stop crying. You are weak..You are losing it!! I have talked these feelings over with other ladies that have been through this, and they say all of these feelings are normal..It makes me feel a bit better.

The last few weeks have been a little better. I have found some easy crafts to focus on, and with the help of Patty Griffin, Amos Lee and Robin Thicke (don't judge), I am making the best of what remains of my indoor summer.  

I know that my God has not brought me this far to abandon me. I know my insecurities are from the enemy. I know that I will eventually get used to the new girl in my head. I won't always look like a stranger in the mirror. I know the fears of  cancer recurrence will subside as time passes. I know I am blessed to be alive. I know I am a strong woman. I appreciate all the shoulders I have cried on, and I am forever grateful for those who have carried me when I couldn't get myself up. 

October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) is on the way. University Hospital Foundation is holding the annual Miracle Mile walk on October 19. We have a Sherbert Punch Cancer Fight Team, participation is free, or you can donate online. This event helps women in our area. It helped me. You never know when/if you or someone you know will need help. Last year there were close to 10,000 people there. It really is an awesome thing to be a part of. 
We will be wearing our awesome One in Eight shirts, so sign up and hang out with 10,000 of your closest friends.

Also, a few weeks ago, Leukemia claimed the life of a sweet friend of mine, Johnathan Aaron Shaw. September 28 is the Light the Night event at Evans Town Center. If you would like to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, use the PayPal link at the top of the blog and I will pass it on to our team.

This post has been kinda dark, I know. But I challenge myself as well as all of you to reach high and hold on to your blessings, no matter how small, when you find yourself at the soggy bottom. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bygones and Paula Dean

I always love the month of June. School is over, the sun is out, vacation approaches. Days are long, laughs and memories are plenty. This June has not disappointed. I turned 36 this month. Never would I have imagined being excited about entering the late thirties, but after this year, I am ecstatic. I am so very thankful to have had another birthday. Next year, I will have 3 birthdays to celebrate... 1. 6th sobriety birthday (May 5) 2. 37th Government birthday (June 6) 3. 1st No more cancer birthday (Dec. 12). Yes, I will be accepting presents.

Not much to update on with the cancer journey. I had my last treatment May 23. It was the easiest round by far. I had prepared myself for the worst, so it was a pleasant surprise to return to normal within a week. I still receive infusions of Herceptin every three weeks until January. This is a medication that targets my specific cancer type, but it doesn't cause the side effects that the other chemo drugs cause. For that I am very thankful. When I went to the doctor on the 13th, my blood counts were still trying to recover from the last round. This means I am still without sushi and pedicures. Once my blood counts climb, I will be on track to continue my reconstruction. My hair has started to grow back just this week. It feels like a fuzzy peach. They say most people's hair comes back curly...If this is the case, watch out Lionel Ritchie!! I will need some Soul Glow.

 July is CARWASH MONTH!!!! if you take your car by Sparkle Wash on Belair Road and choose fundraiser wash, enter our code, $4 will be donated to Sherbert Punch Cancer Fight. The proceeds are going Directly to The Lydia Project ( an organization that helps women facing all types of cancer and their families). The code is 4062!

June has been an interesting month for headlines...The NFL player, Jodi Arias, Oklahoma tornadoes, DOMA, James Gandolfini (my get out of jail list now has an opening. don't judge). If you have read my status posts lately, you know that our local headlines about violence, robberies have me heated.

I am writing today, because the Paula Dean story has me heated as well. I have thought long and hard about how to tackle this subject without offending anyone..I hope I do not. However, If I do...there is no money to get or endorsements to lose, so...I am coming from a positive place and I hope that comes through.

When I applied for my nursing license in 2011, I had to give an inventory of any run-ins with law enforcement. Most jobs require the applicant to list any convictions, but this application wanted any and all arrests. In 1995, I was arrested in Athens. I was 19 and acting even younger, with no thoughts of future plans or consideration about how my actions affected me or anyone else.  After obtaining legal counsel and months of back and forth, the charges were eventually dropped. As a 33 year old college honor graduate, mother of two, I had to return to Athens to collect court documents and records. The clerks and secretaries didn't care that I had changed or that I had gone on to do anything good with my life, I was a record number, a 19 year old trouble maker, drug addict. My past was in my face. I had to answer for my mistakes in a very serious way. It was one of the saddest, scariest days of my life. I had to write a letter defending myself to the board of nursing and wait. I was (am) no longer that sad little girl who said and did things with no regard for others, yet my entire career was hanging on whether strangers thought I deserved a shot. Paula Dean has a big mouth, no doubt. But I personally know that being judged, based on my past, when I have done painful work to change myself was heartbreaking and scary. God has forgiven me for the harmful things I have said and done. My parents have forgiven me. I still have work to do on forgiving myself, but at some point, those things should not be able to be held against me, and the same can be said for Paula Dean. I still have amends to make, and I am still working on forgiveness and keeping my big mouth closed. I am so grateful that God doesn't bring up my transgressions from 20 years ago.

As I step off the soap box, I hope I am an example of the fact that people CAN change. Now where can I find some of that Strawberry Paula Dean cake?? 

Here is the link to Lydia Project! See ya at the Carwash!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Back to Work

It has been over a month since my last post. It feels like a year or more. So much has happened. First let me start by saying Thank You to all that came out to the Sherbert Punch Cancer Walk. Despite a chilly start, the day was perfect. I got to see people I had not seen in years and visit with all my friends and family at one location. It was overwhelming. I wish it had lasted longer so I could have talked to everyone.  The following weekend was the yardsale, where even in the pouring rain, people were shopping. Yvette, Tara, Bre and Jessica worked so hard. I have never seen anything like it. My heart overflows with gratitude.

It has been five months since my surgery, six months since my diagnosis. This just blows my mind. I feel as if my world is standing still, but the world keeps spinning. I feel angry about this sometimes. It usually manifests itself though road rage. Don't these other drivers understand I am having a bad day? A bad six months? That's when I have to remember that the world does not revolve around me and my chemo schedule. Although this is sometimes the hardest pill to swallow, I find great comfort in knowing that there is One who is always with me and knows every hair (well, hair follicle) on my head. Lucky me.

There is nothing like a national tragedy or natural disaster to put me in my place, and the past six months have been riddled with them. The week before my diagnosis..Hurricane Sandy, The weekend after my surgery...Sandy Hook, Last month...Boston, and this week..Oklahoma tornadoes. These are all reminders of the fact that we are not promised tomorrow, and things can change in the blink of an eye. And hopefully these events are reminders that material things do not matter. We should all realize that it is the people around us, and the everyday moments that are irreplaceable. I cannot imagine waiting to find out if my babies escaped the school that was leveled by a tornado or whether the gunman passed by the classroom holding my darlings. But I sure do forget my fortune when they make a mess or wake me up at 7:00, or eat ice cream sandwiches for breakfast. Shame on me. Do I send my husband to work with an "I love you", or did I just roll over in a huff because he shaved too loud? I have a ton of work to do.

Last month, my God mother passed away unexpectedly. She was the kindest woman. She could cook, sew, sing, and she always told me she was proud of me. Even when I was strung out on drugs with beer on my breath, she would hug me and smile and make me feel as if I was the only one in her world. She and her husband came to my college graduation in 2011. She was so proud of me. The day she died, I went back through my phone and Facebook inbox just to make sure that I had told her that I loved her. I could not bear the thought of her dying and not knowing. As I scrolled back through our conversations from the last few years, I know for a fact that she knew. This was such a relief to me. I type through my tears as I think of all the work I have to do.

Tomorrow is my last chemo therapy treatment. As I try to prepare myself for what is to come over the next week, I keep coming back to what seems to be the take home lesson. IT'S NOT THAT BAD and LIFE IS SHORT.
If I love someone, I need to tell them often. If I am upset with someone, I need to work it I need to tell my kids daily that they make me proud. I need to breathe deep and react slowly (especially in Evans traffic). I need to make time for myself. It is okay to say no. I need to celebrate the little things. I need to ask for forgiveness. I need to stop making excuses. I need to forget about the Jones', and remember that it is the memories and the laughs and the tears and hugs that are most important. I've got work to do.

Thanks again to the ladies that helped with the yardsale, and the Cancer Walk. Thanks to all that purchased t-shirts and bumper stickers. I hope that "One in Eight" has sparked conversations about breast cancer and early detection. Thanks for the support and prayers that have been spoken on my behalf. It has truly made a difference. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Phoebe Buffet

Well, we are halfway through the month of April. Master's patrons have hopped their little planes back to where ever they come from. Pollen has settled into the hearts and noses of everyone. Kids have gone back to school..can I get an AMEN! The days seem to move quickly, especially the days when I feel good. Those days fly! I am happy that time is not standing still, because that means that this leg of my journey will soon be over. The last several weeks have been a struggle for me, and I am ready to move on. I am over this. 

I have been a bit overwhelmed at the attention I have received the past few weeks. I had a chance to speak at a University Foundation Fundraiser, I did an interview with Kimberly Scott on channel 2, which showcased my brilliant guitar skills, and now the commercial video for University Hospital foundation has been released. Everywhere I look, I see my own mug. Couldn't I have gotten some recognition while enjoying a good hair day?? Anyway, I don't mind being on stage, so if this gives me a chance to highlight this scary disease and put a steroid rounded face to it, then so be it. 

I have now completed 4 rounds of chemo. But this round has pulled its fair share of punches. Each time I go to the clinic for a treatment, we start off with blood work. The tech draws my blood, someone processes the blood and reports the results to Dr. Keaton, and he consults with me. This whole process takes about 15 minutes and demands a $40 copay and then I am off to the treatment room, where I begin my infusion. On this particular day, my platelet counts were too low for me to receive my chemo.. Some might have celebrated the fact that they would get an extra "feel good" week, but not me. I have painstakingly planned my entire life around these treatments, so for there to be unforeseen changes in this schedule almost shut me down. I do not like surprises, I like structure, I like a routine. I do not like change. And for those out there that know me well, know that I love my day planner, and to have to deface this possession with Liquid Paper, was almost too much for me to bear. It's not that any of my "scheduled appointments" are so important that they could not be changed, it's that I had no control over the decision. No one asked me. Doesn't this doctor know me? Doesn't he know that I have business to tend to? Events to host? Visitors to entertain? TV to watch? Kids to wrangle? I will admit..I am a control freak. I always have been. I try to turn over my will and give it all over to God and somehow, I always take it back. This is just one more time where I had to learn that there are things that are out of my control, and I have to let it go. LET IT GO.

So, I am 5 days out from receiving round 4. The side effects are starting to ease. The bone pain comes and goes and my attention span has improved to the point that I have been able to sit here and write a bit. 
The t-shirts came in Friday, so I have been working on bagging them up, and getting everything ready for the walk on Saturday, and I have been doing so with 3 brain cells. I know I have mentioned chemo brain before..It is like being in a constant cloud...ADD...hangover..Phoebe Buffet state for days. There is not anything you can do about it except laugh and wander around the house looking for stuff. My family thinks this is funny. Throw a pain pill into the mix, and you have one hot bald mess. So this is your disclaimer..who knows what you might find in your race bag.

The Walk is Saturday..I cannot wait to see everyone that is coming out to be with me. I know we will have a good time. It will be a time to learn and spread awareness..

Please continue to pray for me and my family. Pray for me to LET IT GO. Pray for Lauren and Dusty, friends that are courageously fighting cancer battles. We will see you all Saturday!!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The BIG Things

Over the past four months, I have spent a great deal of time writing about, celebrating and clinging to the small joys. It has been the simple things, the small things that have meant the most throughout this cancer trip. And I totally believe that it is the simple, everyday, ordinary moments that one strings together that will mean the most in the end. Yesterday, I started thinking about the BIG things. 

I promise that this is not a gloom and doom post. However, one cannot face cancer without thinking about the big things. 

Christian's Grandmother passed away right after Christmas. She was the purest, kindest soul I have ever met. This past weekend, our family gathered from all ends of the country to celebrate her life with a small memorial. The weather was perfect, and my dad got to do the service. As I sat there thinking about her and listening to the stories and memories, I was overcome with gratitude that I had had a chance to know her and be a part of her family. She was a quiet, strong woman. She loved her family, and she lived a full life caring for others and loving God.

 I sat there wondering how I would be remembered if my family had gathered to reflect on my life. I know they would not say I was quiet, but strong, I think they would say that. I think they would say I could make people laugh. I have always loved making people laugh. I hope they would say that I was loyal and determined and that I loved hard. It really made me think about how I have lived my life up to this point. I know I have played hard, made mistakes, held grudges and burned bridges. I have lied and gossiped and been self-centered. Yuck. But  I hope that when I am a grandma and I leave this place, my children rise up and call me blessed (Proverbs 31). I hope that I make my children feel good about themselves. I hope they never question whether I am proud of them. I hope Christian knows that he rocks my world. I hope my children and friends will think about me when they hear Janis Joplin or a broadway number or smell patchouli..

The BIG thing is that I don't have to hope for all of these things to happen. I can start right now and make it my mission to love and laugh with my babies and spoil them rotten. I can celebrate report cards and strike outs and recitals and coloring in the lines. I can tell my husband that he is number 1, better yet, I can show him. I can teach my children about love and life and mistakes and grace and I can do it right now. I can prioritize and capitalize on this moment.

Chemotherapy #3 is now in the past. My side effects seem less severe with the new meds that have been added. And the family time, and belly laughs were just what the doctor ordered. The SHERBERT PUNCH CANCER WALK is coming up on April 20. I have ordered the first round of t-shirts, so if you still would like to participate, please visit SHERBERT PUNCH CANCER FIGHT FB page for details. 

As you wrap up this work week, and enjoy the weekend, enjoy the small things while remembering the BIG things.

Life is short. Family is important. Now is the time.