Sunday, February 1, 2015

We Support You - My Day of Sharing

When Madame Samm announced the We Support You with cheerleader Pat, I knew immediately that I wanted to participate.  I immediately told Pat I wouldn't be a prolific contributor in terms of lots of blocks or projects.  I have several health challenges and like to consider myself a survivor of each of them.  Cheerleader Pat encouraged me to do what I wanted and could and just have fun in the process.



In the fall of 2003, I had an apartment in Oklahoma City where I was working as a contractor.  I tested the results of IT (Information Technology - computer) programmer's work.  I researched computer issues for the company and wrote reports about the reports of new products and technology and how it might work with their existing products.  In other words, I had a stressful job.  My daughter had moved to New Mexico to teach and I was still helping her and was paying for her wedding.  My son had some addition issues.  I had taken some classes in gifted education to try to possibly get a better understanding of my son.  Even though the school district never identified him as gifted, many of the professors I had in my masters program told me he was gifted.  Somehow in taking the classes this time, I ended up in a doctoral program in gifted education.  My class that semester was in Tulsa one night a week.  So, I was commuting between Oklahoma City and Tulsa one evening a week plus on the weekend.  I was exhausted.  My contract and my job with my contact firm abruptly ended the last workday of October.  I went to the doctor in November expecting a possible diagnosis of diabetes since it is rampant on both sides of my family.  Nope, I can't remember the first part of the appointment.  I asked the doctor if he would look at a knot I had on my side.  It was right where the breast meets the body.  Technicians tell me if it were any farther back, it would be on my back - lol.  The doctor said he thought it was scar tissue from a breast reduction.  Then the look on his face changed and he immediately said, "I want you to get a mammogram and a biopsy."  I knew that I knew that I knew.

A week later I had the mammogram and biopsy on Friday.  Monday morning that doctor called and told me I had breast cancer and what surgeon to see.  My life was changing.

I had hair to my waist.  Not realizing that I was going to have alopecia, I went to the salon and had my hair cut short.  Later a friend went with me to a a program sponsored by the American Cancer Society - Look Good Feel Better.  The program not only gives you free cosmetics based on your skin coloring but also gives you tips on accessories to draw attention away from the fact that you do not have hair.  The program recommends looking the best you can which will also help you feel better.

I had a lumpectomy shortly before Thanksgiving.  My brother came from West Virginia and was here with me for a week.  My son and brother each were with me for the surgery.



I had my first chemo treatment between Christmas and New Year's Days.  My daughter unexpectedly came home to support me through that.  A friend and her husband took me to live with them.  They already had her mother.  Even though the clinic was only about 3 miles from my house, I was too ill to live alone.  I lost 12 pounds with my first chemo treatment.  Then when I started radiation, I came home to live since it was every day.  They lived over 60 miles away.  They owned a small family business and co-pastored a church.

Also during that first treatment illness, I knew that I was near death one night.  My faith saw me through that ordeal.

In June 2004, I was the person at my daughter's wedding with the least amount of hair.  I wanted to just wear a scarf and a hat and she wanted me to wear a wig.  Of course, I got a wig.  I thought she was going to send me a digital picture that I could post and I haven't received it.

My oncologist and I knew the stage and never discussed percentages or negatives.  We just planned for me to be at my daughter's wedding.

Six weeks after my breast cancer diagnosis, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  That was a double whammy!



I went back to work after radiation, married a sweet man who had suffered three strokes.  It all became too much.  I quit working and eventually quit my doctoral program - two classes and a dissertation short of a PhD.  My husband died 17 months ago.  I'm involved in two grief programs for widows.  Last year for Christmas I knitted twelve dishcloths for the widows in my small widow's group at my church.

I knew what I wanted to do for my one block that I had purposed to do for this hop.  Then one of best friend's sister was diagnosed with lung cancer in October.  She died on New Year's Eve.  I thought about making my friend who is a quilter, a block of support.  She is a perfectionist, as I try to be.  Her tastes are very different than mine.  So, I thought about making a block for her so she could do with it what she wanted with her initial and her sister's initial.  I thought about two blocks - one with each initial.  I think she's still in shock and dealing with their 80+ year old mother with whom my friend has definite issues.  So, I decided to wait.

My original plan and still is - make a block for each letter.  Make borders that say
FROM A - Z
I SUPPORT THE GALS

Last month it was announced that our next quilt show - 201, there will be a display of red and white quilts - perfect.  My support quilt will be red and white.  So, you know why the hanger is not black and everything is red/white.  The sashing with either be fabrics from the blocks or RED, RED, RED.

Now, my block.



I had lots of fun making this block and don't know why I put off doing it so long and agonizing about my plan(s).  I increased the original pattern by 200% and cut the background at 14" x 14" to allow for shrinkage with all the embroidery.  I have not embroidered around the bra yet.  I plan to machine embroider around them all at once so I only have to set up the machine once for that process.  I imagine all of them will be in shade(s) of red.  Maybe I should call this quilt 50 Shades of Red.

Since going into remission, I've had 1/2 a breast reduction (on the non-cancerous side) and another lumpectomy - in the same spot as the first.  I still take anti-estrogen oral therapy because I'm high risk for recurrence.  I have four wonderful grandchildren that I would not have seen if I had not had the support to fight these challenges.  I'm letting my hair grow for my fourth donation to Locks of Love.

I used my Happy Light - light to treat seasonal affective disorder as my light source for my pictures.

After wading through my enormous post, please visit the others sharing today.  Great thanks for Madame Samm and Pat for the encouragement for me to try a new pattern and have fun.  I agree with Pat that we find a cure for cancer in our life time.

This hop is to support those with any kind of cancer, not just breast cancer.  However, I do want to mention that my father-in-law and his only sibling, a brother each had breast cancer.  My oncologist told me that does not increase my daughter's risk of having breast cancer.  They each died of cancer and not breast cancer.

I was fortunate to have the support of family, friends, and a spiritual faith to sustain through this challenge.  Each person's journey is similar and each person's journey is unique.

The We Support You Blog Hop participants for Feb 2nd




Ga's House  (you are here)






55 comments:

Judy B said...

What a roller coaster ride you have had. Love your bra and love the idea of an A to Z quilt. Thank you for sharing.

Renee said...

Your block is lovely. The red and white is beautiful.

I hope that 2015 is one of great happiness for you.

I am very thankful you are in remission and that you had friends and family that could step in and support you along the way. (((Hugs)))

Heleen Groot said...

What a story. I have goose bumps just reading it. You have been through so much. You are so very brave. You are a survivor. A survivor that somehow finds the strength to still support others. You are amazing. And so is your bra block! Thank you for sharing.

Joanne said...

You are one strong woman! Thank you for sharing not only your talent and creativity today, but your story as well. Good luck!

Vickie said...

Your story is one of faith and triumph Suze. I hope you will finish your A-Z quilt someday, it's a very good idea ! Blessings sweet lady !

Anita said...

Love your block! Thanks for sharing.

Leah said...

Lovely block. I love the red.

Lovelli Quilts said...

You have had a long struggle. I love your quilt block and the coloring is wonderful. We Support You!!!

Elizabeth Coughlin said...

Your strength is remarkable and inspiring! The block you made is so pretty.

Mdm Samm said...

keeping your head above all that shades of red...very heartfelt..your block is lovely indeed

charlotte said...

An incredible story. The human spirit is strong. Faith is important to us in our fight. Wonderful job on the bra. I love red and white. I hope you will show the whole thing when you finish it. Best wishes to you.

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

Great job

Kate said...

Looking good, Suze. Continue to be strong. :)

Dorian said...

((hugs)) and many prayers going out to you. Your quilt sounds lovely, enjoy making it. You did a great job on your first block.

Siouxzq64@gmail.com said...

Thank you for sharing. Love your red bra! It really is a fun project.

Michele said...

Your block is beautiful and I'm sure your finished quilt will be a true masterpiece.

krislovesfabric said...

Beautiful block and thank you for sharing your story...you inspire us stay strong!

StitchinByTheLake said...

You have fought a long battle but you are winning! Thanks for sharing this story with us and for being a great role model for staying strong. blessings, marlene

Linda said...

You've had a lot to bear in the past. I hope the times ahead of you are gloriously happy and carefree!
Your block is beautiful! I love your idea for the quilt!

Thearica said...

You truly have had a hard road to walk.. I pray that your future is brighter, much brighter. Your block is so pretty.

Needled Mom said...

You can certainly relate to the support factor. Your block is wonderful.

Judy said...

You are strong, and that must be the reason why you can still look positively in the near future. My both friends are like you, they had to learn to take every day as it Comes and I feel very proud to be their friend to share tears but also lots of laughter and faith.
May this year be much much better to you, bless you!
Red and White is alway a great combination, so go on!
hugs from switzerland

Carol said...

Such an amazing story of your journey through breast cancer. Thanks for sharing! Your block is beautiful...love the colors! Here's to cancer going away forever!

Carol said...

Wow, hang in there! You are a story of courage for those who are struggling through as you are. Your block is lovely! Keep up your good work--warm thoughts are coming your way.

Calicojoan said...

Life throws curves some times. It sounds like you have a good handle on riding them out! Gorgeous block. Sending you best wishes!

Mary said...

WOW! You have had an incredible life and doing very well in coping with it all. Your quilt design is wonderful. Your block is lovely. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Hang in there and remember We Support You.

creativity amongst chaos said...

Oh my goodness, so many challenges that you face. I am so glad to see you tackling them with such strength and courage. Love your idea of an A-Z. Sounds just adorable to me. Best of luck to you to finish for your event. Hugs, ~Cori

toniaconner said...

Your story can give other a lot of hope, seeing what you have made it through. congratulations of the remission.

Jane's Quilting said...

You certainly went through a lot. Thank you for your story, hang in there and fight! You deserve to watch your grandchildren grow. You are a true inspiration to them.

tink's mom said...

Your survivor attitude is wonderful. It's what people going through the process need to hear. Great idea for your red and white quilt. It will be stunning once completed. Your starting block is terrific. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Brandy Pettit said...

Thank you for sharing your story, your strength and perseverance is inspiring!
~Brandy

Scrapatches said...

Dear, Suze ... your block is beautifully done!

Thank you for joining in this hop and sharing your journey of faith and survival. You are in inspiration to all!

Thanks also for all the emails that helped keep me on track while organizing the hop.

Looking forward to seeing your beautiful red and white quilt in the making. Just keep sewing ... one stitch and one block at a time ... {{{{{{{quilty hugs}}}}}}} <3 Pat

madebymeinred said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad you had such great support from you family and friends. Your block is lovely.

Baa. xxx said...

Beautiful block - you are awesome!

LJ said...

You're well on your way to a great looking block. Red and white are wonderful colors for a quilt and a block. You have certainly had some horrific experiences with the big "C" but I'm glad that you have become a survivor and have a positive outlook of life.

Createology said...

Thank you sew very much for sharing your incredible story and for being sew very brave. Your Support block is wonderful. I believe you will create a lovely red and white quilt and be able to Support many people for many years to come. Thank you for hopping...

The Slow Quilter said...

Your red and white support will be great at the show.

thequiltedcat said...

A very touching story and your block looks great!

Mary Ann said...

You are an inspiration and I pray that you will always have the support you need, when you need it. Your fabrics are lovely and will make a lovely quilts. You are off to a good start with that lovely block. Thank you for sharing your story.

Theresa said...

I'm from Broken Arrow myself, so I know the ride between Ok. City and Tulsa is a long, boring one. That will exhaust you on it's own. What time you have had. It's good to see that you have made it through. Your obviously a strong lady. Your block is so very lovely with it's polka dots and oh I love polka dots.

Brenda said...

Dear Susan, you know I'm in your corner for all time. What a lovely quilt plan you have. The journey will be fun to watch.

Julia Plunkett said...

Wishing 2015 brings you health and happiness. Love the start of your blocks, they're going to be beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

sandra said...

Dear size I just want to say that I went through a lot of same ride you did but I had the Fibromyalgia before the Breast Cancer which culminated in Double mastectomy. I loved what you created to help support others who are suffering. I am ten years Cancer free but it has made my FM a lot worse. Bless you Sandra

Marian said...

I love your block, the fabrics are darling. I look forward to seeing the finished project.

Doris Rice, The Quilting Queen said...

Wow, that's one heck of a roller coaster ride. Your A-Z quilt will be perfect.

Carla said...

Love the idea of the A to Z quilt. Your story is one of courage and you are certainly one strong woman.
The quilt block is very pretty.

Amy said...

Your block is just lovely. Your story is so courageous. So glad to hear that you are in remission.

Kwilt Krazy said...

Glad you are doing better. Sorry for all of your trials. Wonderful that you are supporting others and your quilt will be lovely. Nice block! WE SUPPORT YOU!!

Tammy said...

Thank you for sharing your cancer story with us. And for sharing your beautiful block. I am a 1 year breast Cancer survivor.

KaHolly said...

Congrats on being a survivor! Love your block. Such a great idea!

evelyn said...

Love all your red fabrics. Your block turned out well. Cograts on being a survivor.

Quilt n Queen said...

Suze...you are definitely a survivor, in more ways than one. Thanks for sharing your story. Your block is lovely...I love red and dots...it is perfect. Thanks for sharing your support!!

Gmama Jane said...

You are a winner Suze! Women like you allow others going through a trial to never ever give up HOPE! Attitude is 90% of the journey toward being cancer free. Your story should be told to every woman with Breast Cancer or any cancer for that matter! I find that stitching/quilting/sewing divert my mind off the chronic pain of fibro. I have had fibro since 1986 when most Dr.s thought it was "all in your head" Thus, I kept my little Fibro secret all to myself. It wasn't until the Fibro commercials started showing up that gave some credence to our plight that I began to share with others how I was Really feeling.. I can't begin to imagine dealing with Fibro AND Breast Cancer? I would think the worry of the cancer coming back would hang heavy around your neck. But then, with your positive outlook, Faith, and courage, I'm certain you will meet that challenge on a daily basis. Stay Strong, Stay Brave, but most of all Stay grounded in the Love of God who will never forsake you or never leave you. Suze, YOU ROCK!!
Blessings
Gmama Jane

Corrie said...

Thank you for sharing your road with us. Stay strong, you have come so far and have so much to do. Your block will be perfect for the purpose.

MalinisQuilts said...

Such a lovely color! Beautiful work!