Not right now…not at this time…

“And I always find, yeah, I always find somethin’ wrong
You been puttin’ up wit’ my ish just way too long
I’m so gifted at findin’ what I don’t like the most
So I think it’s time for us to have a toast”

-Kanye West “Runaway”

If you ask me...I'm ready

Sometimes, you just aren’t ready for some things that cross your path at a certain moment in your life. Most people would have a hard time admitting this, but I don’t. It doesn’t have to be anything complex either; it can something as simple as a book. This brings me to “The Alchemist”. Five months ago a close friend insisted that I read this book and raved it was a life changing work of art. Thirty-one pages in, not only was I befuddled; I was simply uninterested and placed the book ever so gently on my bookshelf. I was overwhelmed with the profound concepts, allegories and metaphors. It was just too deep for me at the time. I had some more growing and exploring to do to stretch my soul.

Fast forward to Monday the 9th. Sitting at my desk, having a serious case of the Monday blues (now I realize I was pms’ing as well). I had a full-fledged pity party, thug tears and all. I invited a friend to my sordid fiesta, subconsciously hoping he would agree with me as I self-loathed and condemned myself to loserdom.  As I cried myself a river, he patiently waited to interject on my gloomy parade and then lovingly told me I was my own worst enemy. I knew he was right. Instead of being thankful for all the victories in my life, I made the choice instead to focus on what I was lacking. Being hard on myself has always been a challenge. I always have this burdensome perception that I should be doing more, making more, happier, skinnier, smarter, traveling more, reading more, the list goes on. Then he reminded me to take a look at my 2011 and how much I accomplished. I started therapy, joined Weight Watchers, actually lost almost 20 pounds, finished treatment, had a clear mammogram and BSGI test and it was my 1st year living alone. And to top it all off, I was on the Dr. Oz show, XM Radio Broadminded show and spoke at Dilon Diagnostics for Breast Cancer Awareness month. God opened so many doors without me even asking, things literally just fell into my lap. How dare I act like my life is in the pits.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Cancer BITES

This brings me back to “The Alchemist”. Tuesday morning, as a set my alarm and gathered my belongings to jet out the door, something told me to grab The Alchemist off the shelf. With 8 seconds left on the alarm countdown, I doubled back, scanned the shelf, grabbed the book, and was out the door Indiana Jones style. I cracked the book open during my metro commute and decided to start with the introduction, a letter the author wrote about the book’s rise to popularity. He explains the 4 obstacles to fulfilling your dreams. That alone stirred my soul, but as I read the Oscar Wilde quote he referenced, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Oscar Wilde once said, “Each man kills the thing he loves”. It resonated with me because it’s a stronghold that I have been working on to break for quite sometime. I have been slaughtering my own dreams.

I’m a firm believer that all things work together, and that everything is connected. Monday’s pity party led me to a conversation to refocus, which led me to the book on Tuesday and its wise words. My emotions lied, but I was reminded of the truth. God has brought me through so many obstacles, and He’s been there before, during and after each victory. I had to make a list to remind myself to have an attitude of gratefulness. If He got me through cancer twice, surely He can help me get free of a self-defeating mindset. It doesn’t glorify Him, and that’s all I really want to do with my life.

This time around with The Alchemist, I’m on page 65 and cannot wait to read more. It took a few months of preparation but now my soul is ready to receive some nuggets of wisdom regarding one’s “Personal Legend.” The author concludes his letter saying “We forget all the obstacles we overcame, all the suffering we endured, all the things we had to give up in order to get this far…this is the most dangerous of obstacles because it has a kind of saintly aura about it: renouncing joy and conquest. But it you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the soul of the world, and you understand why you are here”. Selah.

Romans 5:3-5 The Message (MSG)

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Countdown…

This is the only thing for 29 I could find...see how it's forgotten lol

I think its amusing how society only puts emphasis on certain birthdays, 16, 21, 30, 40, 50…those ages stick out as major milestones in this thing called life, but why? Why not celebrate 22 with the same vigor and enthusiam as 21? If you ask me, its culpable. In 29 days, I will be 29 years old. The age 29 is often overshadowed by the ever alluring presence of 30 lurking around the corner. But 30’s eve is exciting to me, and I welcome it with open arms.  I’ve been telling my friends since I was 26, “Look, I’m almost 30”, but now, its really true. I’m thankful for every second, moment, month and year that I am alive, and if you know me, you know that I don’t take birthdays lightly. Time has flown since my 28th birthday, when all I wanted was to get back a sense of normalcy. Now that I feel like a brand new Shelley, it’s time to celebrate!

In anticipation of year 29, I have concocted a list of 29 things I would like to accomplish in 29 days. Everyday is a new opportunity to do something different, learn something new, and help someone else. During Chapter 28, my goal was rebirth. In year 29, I plan to shine 🙂 I’m not putting any pressure on myself to complete them all by no means; just giving myself some added motivation…let the games begin!!!!!!

29 in 29 for 29

  1. Go swimming
  2.  go hiking at Great Falls
  3.  take a jewelry making class
  4. do 10 cartwheels in a row
  5. take a Qi-gong class
  6. read Wuthering Heights
  7. go see an artist/live band I’ve never heard live
  8. choose pics for my wall art
  9. Finish Mad Men Season 4
  10. measure windows for blinds
  11. clean out my office
  12. make a homemade carrot cake
  13. hit my goal weight of 145
  14. take ballet or tap class
  15. carve a pumpkin
  16. buy a matching bra/panty set
  17. make or bring lunch to a chemo patient
  18. hang my living room curtains
  19. volunteer
  20. design my 1st too cute tee
  21. visit a museum I’ve never been to (Newseum??)
  22. get a massage & facial
  23. get dolled up and go to dinner at a new restaurant
  24. rent a bike and ride thru DC
  25. complete a new vision board
  26. give away clothes to Goodwill
  27. take socasize class
  28. learn the French alphabet and numbers 1-20
  29. make a new recipe and invite Moms, Pops, Kells and Reg for dinner 🙂

Well folks, that’s my 29 in 29 for 29. Encourage me, cheer me on, and think of some things you want to do to celebrate yourself as well. Let’s gooooooo!!!!!!!!

I hate how much I love you…

Why everything that’s supposed to be bad make me feel so good?
Everything they told me not to is exactly what I would
Man I tried to stop man I tried the best I could
But (You make me smile)
“Addiction”- Kanye West

This is my idea of a crackhouse

I must admit, just thinking of sugar makes me smile. Cake is my ultimate frenemy. We have an intensely complicated relationship, and just when I believe I’m ready to let go, the memories of our good times together flood my brain. Remember that time back in ’88 Shells, when you had a rough day at school, but you came home, and I was waiting for you with open arms in the form of an Oatmeal Crème pie? Yes, Little Debbie, I recall. I blame it on my upbringing. Every important event, accomplishment, celebration, and even sad moments like funerals, sugar was always there, silently waiting in the wings to comfort me and make me feel happy again. Whether it was my Aunt Anne’s homemade Lemon Cake (which she still has not shared the secret recipe), or the chocolate ho-ho sitting at the bottom of my lunchbox, sweets treats have been there every step of the way.

Now why would they create a DOUBLE DECKER!!??! SMH

You may be asking yourself why I am even discussing my struggles with sugar on my blog about cancer. But touché my friends, the phrase “You are what you eat” have never become clearer to me until after diagnosis. I’m an avid reader, so immediately upon being diagnosed with cancer, I was adamant about educating myself on the disease as well as prevention. As I dove headfirst into all of the material, one ideology was ever-present: Sugar is the DEVIL. Being the sugar addict that I am, I took this very personal. In my mind, I began to defend sugar like any BFF would do. But after each book I read, I came to the harsh realization that I have been sleeping with the enemy for 28 years.  When I got to page 67 in the book “Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life” by David Servan-Schreiber (2 time brain cancer survivor), the first words on the page said “Cancer feeds on Sugar”. I had to let that marinate for a second. Did you know that the PET scan machine, used to detect cancer, simply measures the areas in the body that consume the most glucose? Yeh, I didn’t either. Cancer LOVES glucose, and the more glucose in your system, the more you are feeding the cancer, and assisting it in its growth. Scary thought huh? Yes, imagine how I felt. I could not help but wonder if all those gummy bears and cupcakes I ate assisted the tumors in my breasts to grow.  It also reads “They promote the factors of inflammation, which, as we saw in chapter 4, also stimulate cell growth and act, in turn, as fertilizer for tumors”. Inflammation is one of the causing factors to all disease in the body, so if you are eating foods that promote inflammation, you are preparing your body to become sick. It’s as simple as that.

The American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that 40% of breast cancers are preventable through diet and lifestyle measures. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I want to raise awareness that diets are a major cause of adult cancers, including breast cancer.  I also want to raise awareness that women are not powerless against breast cancer or any type of disease for that matter – mammograms for ‘early detection’ are not the only defense. You have the power, and the power is in what you EAT!  It is possible to take responsibility over your health so you never have to walk down the road I did.

In Proverbs, the Bible says we live and die by the choices we make, and to choose life. But I realized that people don’t have this mentality when it comes to food. You look both ways before crossing the street to prevent getting hit by a car, but then you eat fried and high fat food  every day, and never think of preventing diabetes or heart disease. Last week I watched a documentary called “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”. During the course of his travels across America while on a 60 day juice fast, Joe interviewed many people about food and their ideas on fasting. Most of them thought he was absolutely insane, while others felt like food is just food, and I’m going to die anyways, it might as well be at the hands of a pork chop. SMH. One brotha even proclaimed, “Well when I die, I sure hope God has ribs in Heaven”. Le sigh. Having a disease twice made me think twice about what I eat, but I know this is not the case for many people. I’m willing to go to extremes to stay healthy and live as long as I can.

Kris & My Boo Dr. Oz

In one of my favorite books Crazy Sexy Cancer, Kris Carr tells her story of being diagnosed with an incurable, inoperable and medically untreatable liver cancer. She was diagnosed at stage IV, and the doctors told her to just “watch and wait”. *insert straight befuddled face* Kris took matters into her own hands and adopted a diet and lifestyle that promoted health and wholeness, transforming herself into a Wellness Warrior. 11 years later, though she still has cancer (which is now stagnant), she’s thriving and living a healthy lifestyle, and spreading the message far and wide.  Your body was designed to fight off any disease, but many of our immune systems lay dormant and defenseless because they aren’t being properly charged up.

In an effort to step outside of my comfort zone, and challenge myself, I have decided to embark on a 10 day juice fast, inspired by the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. I’ve done many fasts before, but never one with just fresh juice. I’m especially interested in starting the fall season out with this juice fast because traditionally, this is the season that I gained at LEAST 7-8 pounds. This is normally the time of year when I let my sweet tooth make all the decisions for me, and as a result end up gaining weight that I usually regret by Dec 31st. This year will be different. I am putting my health first now, and not waiting for the New Year to make drastic changes. CanSer (as Kris refers to it) partially forced me into a healthier lifestyle, and I definitely look at as an upgrade. Kris says “My wake-up call encouraged me to make a total lifestyle upgrade inside and out..I learned that a nutrient dense, plant-based diet rules, the Standard American Diet kills, stress sucks (all life-force), exercise is non-negotiable, joy is utterly contagious, and having fun must be taken seriously.” I couldn’t agree more!!

So who wants to take your health life by the horns and join me on the juice fast?? 🙂 Cheers to the good life! I’ll drink some Mean Green Juice to THAT!

My 27th bday..toasting it up with Cupcakes SMH

Is this the end?!?!….

I’ve paid my dues , Time after time –
I’ve done my sentence, But committed no crime –
And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face, But I’ve come through
We are the champions – my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting – till the end –
We are the champions –
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions – of the world- Queen, “We are the Champions”

Me-ALI...cancer-Liston lol

I walked into the chemo ward of GW alone the morning of June 29th, and looked around the room for any empty chair. Out of the 20 stations, the only open chair was #6. I chuckled to myself. It was the same seat I sat in for my first treatment, 378 days prior. I thought to myself I’ve come full circle, ending this where it all began. I remember first walking into that room, seeing all those people hooked up to IV’s and bags of unknown drugs. It was like crossing over the borders into a foreign land. But I had my posse with me, surrounding me like a shield of protective love. The staff there still comment on how they’ve never seen a patient come in with so many people. We packed snacks, dvd’s, and books like it was a day at Camp Chemo. If they were scared, they didn’t show it at all. The day actually turned out to be quite festive. What I remember the most about that day was meeting Vicki. It’s funny how things work together. Vicki was a beautiful, middle-aged sista with a bad short haircut and a warm smile. Ironically she was sitting in chair #5, and as soon as we walked in, Nicole said “Hey, there’s my cousin Vicki”!! We introduced ourselves and we laughed about how we were getting treatments on the same day. Vicki’s presence gave me a peace that I needed so desperately at that moment. It reassured me that I could go through this process, and still look fabulous and most importantly have a positive outlook. She gave me the courage to face the unknown.

I've had ENOUGH of you! lol

Fast forward to June 29th, 2011. After 18 treatments of Herceptin, a drug used to treat certain types of breast cancer to prevent reoccurrence (click here for more details http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001048/#a699019-why), I was finally at the end of the road. For the past year, I went to the doctor every 3 weeks for treatment, and now this chapter was closing. I was so excited that morning I even decided to wear a dress LOL. I was totally comfortable with going alone too. It was comforting to know that I had grown so much emotionally and I no longer “needed” an entourage of supporters to make me feel secure. Alot had happened in the past year. Though I was at peace with being there alone, I was more than elated when Kelley came strolling through the door. It warmed my heart that the person I began all this with was here to end it.  No fanfare, no huge posse, just me and my sister finishing out the course. She was there with me the 1st day I ever walked into the chemo ward for a “tour”. It was awful and scary, and I broke down several times. But Kells was cool as a fan. She’s definitely the yin  to my yang. Also there was my first and favorite nurse Katie. She reminisced about how I fought her tooth and nail on NOT getting a port implanted, and how I stood my ground. My poor veins have paid the price, but it was worth it for me. When it was all over, she bandaged me up and told me how proud she is of me. I walked out of that ward ready to take on the next phase of my life.

See, even back then she was the calm one!

Sweet Vicki...

 I look over at chair #5 and remember Vicki. She wasn’t there my last day, but she was certainly in my heart. Vicki passed away in March of this year, and Nicole and I attended her service together. I had to pay my respects to the woman who’s warm spirit gave me so much peace on the numerous times that I saw her. I wasn’t the only person who gleaned from Vicki; her service was packed, and we stood in the hallway listening to the numerous accounts of how impactful she was to so many people. I would have never known Vicki was terminally ill because she beamed with life and light. Vicki taught me such a powerful lesson in our brief time of knowing each other that I will keep with me forever. Life is to be lived and everyday is to be cherished. Like a true diva, Vicki requested of her husband that Luther Vandross’ “A House is not a Home” be played at her service. That’s my kind of woman…fly to the very end.

So now that treatment is over, I carry on with a new agenda, and a lesson to take each day by the horns and ENJOY LIFE. Drake said “Everybody dies but not everybody lives” and I’m learning how to live, sparkle, shine and thrive, even through the storms. Above all, I want to do for someone else what Vicki did for me. It’s only right…

Romans 8:37

New Living Translation (NLT)

37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

It was all good just a week ago…

Feels like the world is closing on me
Feels like my dreams will never come to be
I keep on slippin’ deeper into myself
And I’m scared, so scared
If you’re troubled
You just gotta let it go
If you’re worried baby
You just gotta let it go
All your hustles ain’t for nothing
You just gotta take it slow- Alicia Keys “Troubles”

We’ve all heard the age-old idiom “When it rains, it pours”. I can definitely characterize last week as a “rainy” one. By Friday night, I had just about enough. I walked into my house at 12:15am, only to find that my precocious two-year-old dog had broken out of her makeshift barrier in the kitchen, which was still intact and peed on my beautiful yellow couch. In a dramatic display, I fell to my knees, shaking my fists in the air, asking God “WHHYYYYYYYY”!!!!!!! All I could do was cry. Actually I wept like Cuba Gooding Jr. in the scene from “Boyz in the Hood” after Ricky got shot. I didn’t go as far as he did, fighting the air, but you get the picture.

Have you ever had a time in your life when everything seems to be falling down around you? I like to call these moments “a series of unfortunate events”, uncontrollable instances that are totally out of your hands that occur in a snowball effect. It’s like Hell Week for the Navy Seals, or as if I was being hazed by the mean sorority girls of life. Let’s recap my crazy week…

Last Saturday May 28th, I woke up sweating massive bullets. I grabbed my blackberry to check the weather, and to my surprise it was already 83 degrees at 9 am. “I guess it’s time to breakdown and turn on the A/C”. So I closed my windows, cranked up the A/C, and headed out for a walk with the magic puppy (who later in the week lived up to her name smh). Hours later, my house was still blazing. Sunday evening, I got into an unnecessary “disagreement” with a close friend, that trickled over into Monday, my day off. Still wiping the sweat from my brow, I sat in my house trying to figure out why my brand new A/C unit was not functioning properly. Tuesday comes. I go to work, it’s 90+ degrees, and my sister rescues my hot dog (pun intended) from my house. I head over to my weekly weigh-in, only to discover I’ve gained 3.8 pounds in a WEEK! (Darn those Memorial Day burgers *tears*) Defeated by the scale, I arrive home that evening to find a note from my neighbor in the mailbox. He informs me while mowing my grass, his brother ran over a piece of my A/C unit in the backyard, and is quite certain it caused some serious damage. While very thankful for his honesty and integrity, my level of frustration escalated. He assured me he would cover the cost, but now I had to get an estimate. I packed a bag and spent the night my sister’s house. Wednesday, the HVAC tech gave me an estimate of $750, and as I was pondering if my neighbor could come up with that amount of money that quick, my uncle informed me that the massive bush growing in my backyard is poison ivy. You’re kidding me right…smh.

Thursday I headed out to Baltimore to work for the day, only to hear my car shreeking like a wild banshee. WHAT IS GOING ON?!? Low and behold, I need brakes. Again. I just got them last September. Friday brought along more disappointment, this time in the form of feeling emotionally let down. As much as I tried to be understanding and mature, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. So by Friday evening, I was extremely fatigued, emotionally, mentally and physically. All I wanted to do was crawl in bed, and wake up 6 hours later to celebrate my victory over cancer at The Race for the Cure. But the puddle of dog pee on my couch almost pushed me over the ledge. I looked at Lily with disbelief!! “Et tu Brutus”!!! SIGH…

Team I am TOO CUTE 4 cancer! WOO HOO!

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful occasion. Internally, I was feeling a wide range of emotions. Though it was a celebration, it was also a reminder of the fact that I had faced this disease, twice. This time last year I was starting chemo, so unaware of what the future would hold. It’s hard sometimes to celebrate when you see so many posters and t-shirts who unfortunately passed away from the same disease. Some people call it “Survivor’s guilt”. Overall, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Grateful to God for healing me, and for giving me the best support system I could ever imagine. By the end of that day, I felt like Hell Week was coming to an end.

HAHAH!! I love this bunny

Sometimes, life can really get you down. Things fall apart, the ones closest to you will hurt you, cars break down, things stop working, your money runs low or things change and you can’t do anything about it. Trouble comes. Jesus even warned us about it: “In this world you will have trouble. BUT take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). That made me leap for joy! Even if trouble comes a’knocking, the Greater One who lives inside of us has already overcome it! And that means we have too!!! 🙂 James 1:2 tells us “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (NLT). It may sound crazy but its truth. Just reading that made me feel better instantly. And it helped me to let go of the disappointments of the week. Sure, were my feelings hurt? Indeed. But I know for a fact I’ve hurt those close to me before as well, so I forgave in my heart. I even forgave Lily. And does my A/C and car still need to be fixed? Absolutely. But thank God for an emergency fund, referrals and coupons lol. If you continue to focus on your troubles, they seem to get worse. So change your focus and look at the bright side. There’s another age-old idiom that you can follow: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! 🙂

1 Peter 4:12-19

The Message (MSG)

 

12-13Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner…So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he’s doing, and he’ll keep on doing it.

This face belongs on the tizzube!!

In this very moment I’m king
In this very moment I slayed Goliath with a sling
This very moment I bring
put it on everything, that I will retire with the ring
and I will retire with the crown, Yes
no I’m not lucky I’m blessed, Yes
clap for the heavyweight champ, Me
but I couldn’t do it all alone, We…
I wish that I could have this moment 4 life, Cause In this moment, i just feel so alive! -Nicki Minaj

How cool is THIS!?!?

Have you ever had a “this is too good to be true” moment? When everything all seems to line up perfectly, and you experience something you never even imagined?? Well, March 23rd, 2011 was a “Moment 4 Life” day for me. I just kept thinking to myself somebody pinch me!! There was I, pulling out of Union Station on the 8:05am Acela train to NYC, on my way to NBC Studios to be a guest on the Dr. Oz show. Dr. Mehmet Oz, as in the FINE famous doctor that knows Oprah!!! LOL. The guy who talks about health and wellness, and today was the day I will meet him in the flesh!! I was amazed at how it all came about. Only God can orchestrate something like this…this is how it all went down.

Monday, March 21st started out as a normal day. I had an 8:30am doctor’s appointment to get my annual BSGI test(more on that later), so the night before I asked my friend Tekeah if she could accompany me since I have learned the hard lesson of going alone to get tests ran. (Very bad idea!) At 7:35am I got a phone call from the doctor’s office. They informed me that the Dr. Oz show was interviewing one of the doctors at GW, and would I mind if they recorded me having my test administered. Uummm, are you kidding? SIGN ME UP! Then I quickly thought, wait, will my boobs be blurred out? Once they assured me they would, I was all systems go! Then I panicked. Oh no, I have to change my outfit, I’m going to be on TV!!! LAWD! So I raided my closet to find a cuter ‘fit, then scurried out the door to the metro. Then it happened. The stupid blue line was delayed, again. I sat on the train almost in tears!! I let Tekeah know that I was trapped on the train, and to let the doctor know I was going to be late. I nervously sprinted into the office at 8:55am, hoping I didn’t blow my opportunity. But lo and behold, the cameramen were also running behind schedule, so they were no longer going to record me. I was slightly disappointed but also relieved because I hadn’t put any makeup on yet. My test results came back normal (YES! look Ma, no lumps!) and I went about my day as normal.

Then, Tuesday afternoon I saw I had a missed call from GW. When I first saw the number on my caller ID, my stomach turned. “Aww man, do they want me to come back in for more tests? Did they further review my films and see ‘something’? I was reluctant to check my voicemail but I chucked the fear to the side and hit them back. The doctor informed me that the Dr. Oz show was looking for a person that benefited from the advanced imaging technology and I fit the bill! They would put me on the first train smoking to NYC the next morning to tape the show! WHAT! HECK YEH! Siced is an understatement; I think I ran and clicked my heels mid-air!! How exciting! Man God, this is AWESOME!! Thanks homie! *doublefistpump* The previous year, the BSGI (Breast Specific Gamma Imaging) test had detected a lump in my left breast, which was undetectable on the mammogram. This year, the BSGI test was taking me to Dr. Oz….funny how things work together 😉

So I made it to NYC, was picked up by a chauffeur (how fly is that) and headed to30 ROCK. My sissie Tekeah came along for the ride, last minute expensive train ticket and ALL! Great friends are priceless! As we were being escorted to the Green Room, and we see that Dr. Oz’s studio is directly across from Jimmy Fallon!! MAN! Can we go meet The Roots pleeeaaassseee?? LOL! For the next 2 hours, I went to hair and makeup, had my clothes steamed, went over what I would say with a producer, got mic’ed, and tried my best to remain calm. Then it was showtime! I walked on to the set feeling like a cancerlebrity! Oh the bright lights, the cameras, the audience. I prayed as I waited in my front row seat, Lord just give me the words to say, take the nerves away, and let You get all the glory out of this experience! Let my story help someone else’s life!!

Yes, I was pressed to take my own pic in hair & makeup! lol

It all happened so fast. My segment was finally up, and Dr. Oz glided towards me and held my hands as I spoke about my experience. Then after a few minutes, it was over! WHEW! I did it!! In that moment I felt like I dropped kicked cancer in the face! Once and for all! Take that sucka!! You thought you were going to bring me down, but God had another plan in mind! *insert praise break*

Showtime BABY!

That night, as I headed back to DC on the train, I cried. But they were tears of joy; this was yet another lesson in how God turns tragedy into triumph. God knows the desires of my heart, and one of them is to help and encourage others who are affected by or experiencing what I have been through. Being on the show is bigger than meeting Dr. Oz or having 3 minutes of fame; it’s actually not about me at all. I view myself as a vessel to help spread the truth. I want others to truly know they are not alone, and help to remove the stigma of fear associated with cancer, or any other disease for that matter. You can thrive and live a victorious life, despite the curveballs you’re thrown! God has a plan for you, and as long as you follow His lead, He will continue to elevate you beyond your wildest dreams! I’m living proof :-)…

Romans 8:28 (The Message)

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Does that make me Craaazzzyy!?!?

I ain’t perfect, nobody walking this earth’s surface is… -Jay-Z

 
 

Even Lily needs to talk to someone lol

 

So, I’m just going to come out and say it. *clearing throat while sitting up tall* I have been going to therapy. Yes, you read right, a sista has been partaking in weekly couch sessions for the past 8 weeks, and frankly it’s something I should have done years ago. Now you may be reading this pondering to yourself, “OMG, I didn’t know Shelley was crazy?!?” *insert bbm shocked face* or “Why is she going, there’s nothing wrong with her” or “I would never go tell somebody my problems, I GOT JESUS!” *waves church fan* Whatever you may be thinking right now, that’s your business lol. But allow me to share why I chose to.

This actually is not my 1st dibble and dabble into the world of therapy. In the spring of 2002, my sophomore year of college at NC State University, I was 7 weeks into a Statistics class that was about to hand me my first ever D. Terrified of not passing the class, I asked some of my peers what to do. It was too late to drop the class, and getting a tutor just wasn’t my style (foolish pride). Someone suggested that I go to the counseling center, give them a believable sob story, and the powers that be could grant me a coveted withdrawal recommendation due to personal hardship. The plan seemed genius and cutting edge, and being the drama queen that I am/was, I accepted the challenge. So I put on my sad face, and marched down to the counseling center. I entered into the therapist’s office, and the 1st thing I noticed was that her name was Grace (my sweet grandmother’s name). It touched my heart and made me smile, but I had a task at hand. Get that class dropped!! So back to the sad face. And…scene! She began to asks me questions on why I came to see her, and since I couldn’t admit the real reason, I began to talk about my personal life. And then it hit me…man, I really do have issues! I spent an hour talking to her about everything, things I had experienced over the previous 2 years in college, my mistakes, my losses, my feelings, etc. I walked in that office on a deceptive mission, and the tables quickly got turned on me. After 4 sessions of meeting with Dr. Grace, my original mission was accomplished. I was able to drop the class without it affecting my GPA or credits, but I really walked out of there with much more; a deeper understanding and yearning to know myself personally and get to the root of some things. There was some repressed anger, uncontrolled emotions, fear, etc there, but at the ripe age of 19, I was not ready to face them. So I carried on my life.

Fast forward to 2010. I’m 27, and facing my 2nd cancer diagnosis in 2 years. Immediately I go into Faith Fighter mode, and I take on the treatments under the disguise of Wonderwoman, with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. I have support and love all around me, and I have a relationship with GOD that gives me the encouragement and power that I need. But it is hard. Mentally and emotionally. There are times when I am just angry about what happened, and I have taken it out on the wrong people. There were times when sadness has overtaken me for hours, and I couldn’t shake it. I knew back in 2008, after going thru treatments then, that I needed to seek out professional help. There were some feelings and emotions that I needed to address, but I went on with the mantra that everything was ok. But it wasn’t; the aftermath of the storm left some stones unturned and it was time to rebuild. Coming back to work  in September was difficult, having a million people ask me why did you cut your hair! Lord have mercy, if I had a dollar for everytime I heard that, I could retire! Inside, I wanted to steal them in their face (I know drastic), but outside I just smiled and gave them some generic reply. It wasn’t really until this past December when I realized it’s ok to say everything is not ok. It doesn’t diminish my faith in that truth that God has healed me, but there were some skeletons in my emotional closet that I had to face. What lies beneath is often we ignore the most, until we are literally forced to deal with them. I didn’t want to be forced, I willingly surrendered. The white flag was being waved frantically! This experience brought up some many other things that I had long-buried, and it was time to dig them up and knock them out once and for all.

My Amber Rose impression lol

So I am 8 weeks in, and instead of feeling crazy, I feel empowered. I took the first step on the road to mental and emotional health, and I am already seeing major improvements in how I deal with life. One of the biggest things therapy has helped me to identify is my behavior patterns, how I respond and why, and then the tools I need to react more maturely and positively. Therapy for me is a complimentary tool in addition to where I go first and foremost with ALL of my issues, GOD and His Word. My active approach is to seek God’s guidance first, cast my cares on Him, and ask Holy Spirit for help, because that is His job ya know ;-). And He told me to go, so I went! LOL. He also led me to a book which I recently finished by Joyce Meyer called “Managing Your Emotions”, which was loaded with scriptures and Godly wisdom on how to handle your “issues”, and it was another resource for me to fight depression and fear. With the tools and training I have already received at church, and now with therapy, a sista is about to be unstoppable!

I don’t know how long I will go, but I’m sure Holy Spirit will tell me when. Therapy has allowed me to not be afraid of sharing my feelings, even with God. He knows what we are thinking anyways; He is just waiting for us to bring them to Him. There is a stigma associated with seeking professional help, but I am now at the point where I don’t care. I need some help and I am no longer afraid to admit or ask for it. Who cares what other people think anyways…like Kanye said, “We all self-conscious, I’m just the first to admit it”…

Psalm 43:5 (The Message)

 5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
      Why are you crying the blues?
   Fix my eyes on God—
      soon I’ll be praising again.
   He puts a smile on my face.
      He’s my God.