Nichole’s Slices of Life–Visit To The Cancer Doctor

15 07 2011

I have 3 checkups a year to make sure my cancer is not active again.  Today, was one of those check-up days.  In 4 months, they’ve changed quite a bit at the center.  They usually call us 3 at a time to take our weight and our blood pressure.  Today, I got called without any company.  They have ditched the blood pressure cuffs for a gadget that goes around the wrist and is held on the heart.  The nurse said that their new system is more efficient. 

Next, I went to the lab to have two vials of blood drawn.  The cancer doctor saw me within 20 mintues after my blood was drawn.  Everything seems to be fine.  I have just the right amount of white and red blood cells.

He did caution me to follow-up next April with another colonscopy.  I had one done this past April and it showed that I had a serrated polyp consistent with Sessile serrated adenoma.  I was upset at first because only 2x was taken from the growth for the pathologist.  Later, my surgeon explained that unlike other polops which are easy to remove–mine was on a thin section of the small intestine.  I could have ended up in major emergency surgery if they scraped it all. 

In fact, if it doesn’t go away–cancer or no cancer–it will probably have to be removed by major surgery.  But, that is on next Spring’s agenda.  I will try not to worry about it.  Meanwhile, I will keep my regular quarterly appointments with my cancer doctors. 

We have a wonderful cancer center here in Hopkinsville, Ky.  It has been going strong for 20 years.  I’m so thankful that I don’t have to travel to get good treatment. 

God Bless each of you!

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July the 4th, l961

11 07 2011

I can’t let July gain too many more days before I write of my 50th anniversary of arriving in Hopkinsville, Ky.  My mother is a native of Hopkinsville.  She married a soldier from Camp Campbell in l943.  My parents moved to Lansing, Michigan so that my father could attend college to study to be an engineer.  Mother taught school in Lansing until her first son was born.  Then she became a homemaker.

I was actually born in Detroit.  Early in l960– my father pushed my mother to update her teacher’s certificate.  We all sensed things between my parents were not good.  By June l960– my father left.  My mother had already made arrangements to take classes at Wayne State University that summer.  She already had a babysitter lined up for us.  I can’t imagine how she managed all of that.  We didn’t have a car.  Mother took the bus to her classes each day. 

She did gain employment for the l960-l961 school year.  My youngest brother wasn’t even old enough for kindergarten.  So mother hired a sitter for him and she was at the house for us as well–when we arrived home from school.  Later, I found out that one particular couple befriended my mother and loaned her the money to accomplish all of these feats.  This couple had been friends with my parents for a very long time. 

I have the actual letters of correspondence between my mother and grandmother about the pros and cons of moving back to Hopkinsville.  In the end, mother decided that she needed to be where her family was living. 

We were renting a house –so it made it a little easier to uproot.  We left by train on the afternoon of July the 3rd, l961. A train ride from Detroit to Hopkinsville was a great adventure to four children.  The stop in Chicago was especially fun.  Mother let us have soda fountain treats and she bought us plenty of comic books. 

Arriving in Hopkinsville, Ky about 8:00 a.m. on July the 4th–we were met at the train station by my mother’s brother and her sister.  Grandmother was waiting for us with open arms.  She had buckwheat pancakes already made up.  We were to live with Grandmother in her part of the house until school started.  Then we would move upstairs.  There was a young married couple who had planned to leave that apartment the end of August.

Grandmother had endured a mastectomy the summer of l960.  Now that I am 59 years old and a grandmother myself–I can’t imagine how she took us into her home.  That was a very generous deed!

Grandmother made sure our lives were full of structure.  She never allowed us to sleep in or be lazy.  We always had to help with chores around her home.  And church was a part of our education, too.  Not only did we attend church on Sunday mornings–we also attended all the youth activities on Sunday and Wednesday nights, too. 

Mother taught school at the old Westside School the first year.  After that first year, she taught at the old Virginia St. school.  That was just a few houses from our home.  Her last year of teaching was at the brand new Holiday Elementary School. 

Mother died of breast cancer in l985.  Grandmother died when I was 25 years old of heart problems. I left home when I was 19 to attend Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham, Al.  I met my husband there.  He was raised in Iowa.  We moved back to Hopkinsville in l985. Hopkinsville has been a great place to raise our four children.

The structure and love my grandmother gave me as I was growing up has stayed with me my entire life.  I’m not much of one for sleeping in.  I always see my dear grandmother’s face.  I feel her with me all the time.  I keep pushing on in life because of the building blocks of love and leadership that she provided for me.

My brothers have often spoken of the same sense of grandmother’s influence. The four of us have done well in life.  One brother is a college professor, another is a lawyer, another works for  the state in Denver, Co.  I have been a teacher/homemaker.  Together all of our children have grown up to have multi-varied talented careers.  My children love to hear about Grandmother B.  They cherish her memory even though they never knew her. 

I, too, have survived a mastecomy.  I am a 4th generation breast cancer survivor. 

Today the old train station is now the center of Art’s here in Hopkinsville.  I drive by the old station several times a week.  Always, the memories of arriving on that train in l961 flood my mind.

Thank you Grandmother B for taking such good care of us.

God bless each of you!





Nichole’s Slices of Life–Making A Comeback

6 07 2011

It has been about 18 months since I last blogged.  To be honest–the exceleration of Social networking  has really bothered me.  I don’t like to be around people who use their smart phones all the time.  Even at our family gatherings–it has become impossible to have conversations that are real.  I can be an “all or nothing” person–so I just quit blogging. 

However, at our annual family celebration of July 4th at our son’s home–I had a wonderful talk with my college professor brother.  He started a blog  (http://briancoatney.com/) last October and has found it to be a real outlet for him.  Since he teaches the art of writing for a living –he encouraged me to try free expression and quit being so bothered by perfection.  So that is what I’m going to try to attempt.

Anyone who has read my archives –knows that I love frugal and simple living.  So that is what I will continue to write about.  Jim has been retired for almost 3 years now.  We love being together and our goals for life are much the same.  We continue to be active at The Protection of The Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Clarksville, Tn.  Our parish will have a 3rd birthday in August. 

We are especially excited because Fr. Peter, who is an army chaplain , will be back at Ft. Campbell, Ky in September.  He has been assigned to be our Priest-in- charge.  Fr. Peter helped moved our community off  base to Grace Lutheran Church in 2008.  Then he had to leave for his 3 year assignment as a chaplain recruiter.  He has flown in to be with us about once a month during 2011–since we didn’t have a priest.  We have also been very blessed to have Fr. Jonas Worsham from Chattanooga, Tn be with us a couple of weeks a month.  His leadership has been exceptional for us.

Jim continues to work at the alter with Fr. Jonas and Fr. Peter.  We are including a picture of Jim. Jim has always wanted a long beard–so I told him to “go for it”. 

Daily life and our Orthodox faith will continue to be the themes of this blog.  I am excited that I’m a 3 1/2  year breast cancer survivor.  Jim recently had a scare with a “cold nodule” on his right thyroid.  Thankfully, it turned out to be benign.

Today was a big wash day so I’m posting a picture.  I try not to use our dryer unless it is absolutely necessary.  That is my simple living for today.

I hoping that I can renew old blogging friendships and make an abundance of new friends.

God bless each of  you!





Nichole’s Slices Of Life, 19

1 02 2010

My new beginnings never got off the ground.  I think that I just have goals that are too lofty and then fail.  Blogging was fun and easy in the beginning of my journey.  Plus, I had a passion about my path with breast cancer.  I will try once again…..

I’ve snuggled the fall and the winter away thus far –with plenty of reading.  When I have free time that is where my heart always leads.  We’ve also been very busy with our parish.  Having a full time priest has put demands on us that we were not used too.  We attend Vespers each Saturday evening.  During the Nativity fast before Christmas we were busy with many extra services.  Now we are getting ready to enter Great Lent in a couple of weeks.  We will be busier than ever with special services.

When we traveled 100 miles to St. Elizabeththe New Martyr Orthodox Christian Church in Murfreesboro, TN. –we only attended services on Sunday.  Having our own parish within 30 miles of home with a our own priest is an answer to prayer.  However, it is also a call to a deeper understanding of our Orthodox Christian life. 

We really don’t have much of a weekend anymore.  We leave our home  at 3:00 p.m. each Saturday afternoon and don’t return until 9:00 p.m. most of the time.  We attend the catechumin class because we never had the opportunity to do that when we were catechumins living so far from a parish. 

On Sunday mornings we arrive very early to help set up coffee hour.  Mary, our friend who also lives in Hopkinsville–sets up the bookstore.  Jim, my husband helps set up the alter for Divine Liturgy.  Of our own choice–we often stay until 3:00 p.m. most Sundays enjoying a very long coffee hour and then helping to clean up.  We wouldn’t trade the opportunites we have now for anything.

On a more domestic note– Patrick, our 3rd grandson is 4 months old now.  He has gone through a long bout with RSV and had to be in the hospital a couple of days.  My children all were sick at times with RSV but we didn’t have a name for the condition in those days.

John, our oldest grandson, has worked with me to rearrange all of my rooms.  He came up with a plan and I just helped shove furniture around.  I think it is the prettiest our home has ever looked in the 24 years that we have lived here.  John has a real gift for what looks good.  He no longer likes to be around small children that much.  Often, he will spend the day with me on holidays but Alex still wants to play with the children at his neighbor’s home. 

I told John that we can’t move any more furniture for awhile.  I will have to teach him to cook now.  He is very excited about that propect.

I’m going to try to write short blogs and try once again to stay online.  I was extremely tempted to close down my blog but just thought I’d give it one more try.

Thanks for still browsing my blog site!

God bless each of you!





Nichole’s Summer Journal, 6/23/2009

9 07 2009

Today we didn’t have to take care of our grandsons.  We were up early to take our walk.  The youth from Wisconsin arrived at our home at 7:45 a.m.  They were eager to get to work.  Their goal was to form a frame to hold the concrete.  I had plans to pick up my daughter-in- law , Linda, and take her to an Amish store in Guthrie, Ky.

I had fun greeting the kids and asking about their evening.  I took my dogs out to greet them for the day. 

Linda and I had a wonderful trip enjoying the country scenery on the way to Guthrie.  She had never been to  this store but had heard me mention it many times.  We went through the store looking at everything two complete times.  It was hard to make up my mind what I wanted to buy. 

Later, we drove down the same highway to an Amish bakery.  Again, it was hard to decide what to buy.  We did pick up some salt rising bread and some sweet rolls for my brother and his wife, T, who is a new cancer patient. 

After I dropped Linda off at her home–I took the sweet rolls and bread by my brother’s house.  I was surprised that he gave me a check for taking care of their flowers for two weeks.  I was happy to have helped them and didn’t expect any pay.

I didn’t get home until 1:15 p.m.  Jim and I took soft drinks out  for all of the workers.  At first they were shy in accepting them but quickly changed their minds.  The heat index was 105 degrees that afternoon.

The bus picked the youth up at 2:15 p.m. Jim and I drove out towards Herndon, Ky and found a country road that took us back to 4l-A.  The road was full of Amish farms.  We had missed our usual Tuesday long day together and the country ride was a must to complete our day.

We were very happy that my sister-in-law, T came to our cancer group.  Sherry F. who is in charge of cancer services in our county gave a wonderful presentation.  T got some very good information as she begins her journey with chemotherapy soon.

We had sandwiches for supper after our cancer group.  It is now 7:55 p.m. as I write about my day.





Holy Chrismation Anniversary of Three Years!

25 06 2009

SYLVIA'A CHRISMATION 6-25-06art chrisnation 6-25-06

                a.S, F chrismation          

We had been searching for over 30 years for a more authentic New Testament church.  I can remember –starting as newlyweds coming home after church services and just crying.  Everything seemed so untouchable.  We hardly got to know anyone very well.  There just wasn’t enough time during occasional socials to form lasting bonds.  The few friends we had bonded with in college that went to that church were also newlyweds and no longer had the time to socialize as much. 

Jim and I always believed that the church should bring people together and not separate them.  The “aloneness” followed us through many church settings.  We even tried a “house church” for awhile.  Eventually, that too became a place for division and lack of real bonding.

We traveled to several different towns to be a part of what seemed like “on the edge” New Testament churchs.  Now to be honest , we did make friends in each of them.  We are still in contact with some people from most every church we were ever a part of.  However, we knew there was still a missing link.

Our youngest daughter who was going through a divorce had a very hungry heart, too.  She had been a missionary teacher in Ukraine for a year and remembered seeing the Orthodox churches.  In fact, she had been  given a list of Orthodox books to read to prepare herself to defend the Protestant faith!  She never really read  the books but remembers being in awe of the churches she saw as a tourist. 

Her grief was so bad that she cried out to God for some answers.  She believes that God reminded her of those books.  She ordered Becoming Orthodox,  A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith by Peter E. Gillquist.  This book deeply impacted her life.  Faith challenged us to read it, too.  We also had a time each week where we listened to a weekly podcast : Our Life in ChristOur hearts were so thirsty and we drank these podcasts in like we were travelers who hadn’t had water for days and at last found a creek or river of clear water.

The next step was finding an Orthodox church to visit.  Vera located several but we decided to visit St. Ignatius in Franklin, Tennessee.  We knew that Fr. Gordon Walker had started this church and we hoped to meet him.  So on Labor Day of 2005 –we ventured over to Franklin.  We were met by a dear lady, Myrna, who later became one of our sponsors.  She took us under her wing and explained all that was happening during the service.

During coffee hour, we actually got to meet Fr. Gordon. Jim cried on his shoulder because he knew that he had found what he had been looking for all of his life.

Faith moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for a new job.  A mission church was just geting started there sponsored by St Ignatius.  Fr. Stephen Rogers from St. Ignatius was there off and on to help get the church going.  We decided to drive the 102 miles one way each Sunday to be a part of this parish.  They had a temporary priest.  We asked him about becoming catecumens–but we were all told to wait a bit. 

Finally, on Christmas Eve of 2005 –Jim ,Vera, and I were made catecumins.  Fr. Gordon Walker was also at that service.  It was so special to us. 

The culmination came for us on June 25, 2006.  Fr. Stephen Rogers finally decided that we could be chrismated.  We arrived very early that morning as we had to have our life time confessions.  What a special day that was.  Our grown children and our small grandsons drove the distance to share our joy. Myrna and her husband, Deacon Edward, from St. Ignatius became our sponsers. 

Three years have now passed.  We feel that the Orthodox faith has made our lives more accountable to the Lord.  Our faith has also had the depth to see us through some serious times.  I found out I had breast cancer in the fall of 2007.  As soon as I had time to recover and feel like a person again– Jim got very sick with his aortic condition again.  In October 2008 ,  Jim spent two weeks at Vanderbilt Medical center in Nashville.  After opening him up –it was determined that he was inoperable  They wrapped his aneurysms up in dacron and sewed him up.  After working all of his adult life–he was now disabled.  We would have never made it through such difficult times without the Orthodox faith.

Now we are blessed to be on the ground floor of a mission church in Clarksville, Tennessee just 30 miles from our home.  We also have a new priest after having guest priests for almost a year. 

Our hearts are full of joy and thanksgiving for all the Lord has done for us in these three years of being Orthdox christians. 

May God bless each of you!





Nichole’s Slices Of LIfe, 15 (Cancer Strikes Again)

10 06 2009

Cancer has a way of showing it’s ugly face again and again.  Just about every month I hear of someone I know of who is fighting cancer.  In May, cancer entered our close family circle once again.  This time is was not my own personal battle but that of my sister-in- law. 

We had just had a big family time the evening of the Kentucky Derby.  We all enjoyed watching that together.  T seemed normal as ever.  Just a week later she had her physical and her doctor found a mass in one of her breasts.  T didn’t show a great deal of emotion. She was very silent about her experience.    I recommended the surgeon that I had used for my mastectomy.  She had to get a mammogram and take it to the surgeon.  He then did a needle biopsy.  The first report seemed to indicate that there was not much to worry about.  I was suspicious because T told me her mass was quite large.

Finally, the surgeon told T and her husband ( my brother) that she probably did have cancer.  T decided to have a lumpectomy.  I almost begged her to have a masectomy.  Her reply was that it was still uncertain about whether she had cancer so why would she want to have a mastectomy.  Well, in my heart –I knew she had cancer. 

T and my brother didn’t seem to feel a need for folks to be in the waiting room.  I really don’t think T believed she had cancer.  Jim and I insisted on being with my brother during surgery.  We did get to visit T in her holding area for about 30 minutes.  She just didn’t seem to get it–that this might be something serious.  It was hard for me to understand their reactions.  I had a different kind of biopsy and knew that I had cancer when I went into surgery.  Their experience seemed so backwards to me.

We sat with my brother for a little over two hours.  The surgeon came out and sat down with us to tell us that T did have cancer.  He ended up removing almost half of her breast and two dozen lympth nodes to get clear margins.  He told my brother that T would definitely have to have chemotherapy and radiation.  I think my brother heard the information correctly but I still don’t think he processed it very well.

My reaction to T these almost two weeks sincer her surgery has been strange.  I have to be careful that I don’t impose my own personal bias about how she should be reacting.  It has been difficult.  She went back to work the next week to finish up her school year as a school psychologist.  I just couldn’t believe she did that.  Now she and my brother are on a two week trip to visit their grandsons.  Maybe she is just trying to soak up as much of life before treatment as she can.  I just know that our stories of how we both reacted to cancer are very different.

T missed her yearly exam last year.  I can’t imagine why– because she has good health insurance.  And T never does breast self exams.  Cancer came and creeped into her life.  Women in their 50’s and older are very prone to get breast cancer regardless of whether there is a family history.  Please ladies–don’t skip those yearly exams and don’t neglect doing a personal breast exam once a month.

In 2007 I found out I had breast cancer.  However, I had never skipped a year.  I was tempted to skip the whole mammogram thing that year.  But because I didn’t– my breast cancer was found very early.  I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiation.

T has a long road ahead of her.  We all will be supporting her and my brother with prayers.  We will do all we can to help her.  It is  very devastating to have cancer strike our family once again.

So what else have I been doing this past month?   I finished out my school year as a substitute teacher. I’ve been getting back to working with potted plants.  I had lost interest for a couple of years.  The ones I had –I watered but I didn’t  do much else.  Now I’m working on creating new plants through my cuttings.  I’m also enjoying reading.  If push comes to shove a book always wins over blogging.  I’m also working on learning my choir music.  We sing without instruments and I sing alto.  I have a huge notebook of music to be working on. 

We have our own priest now at our mission church.  He is not with us yet because he is still trying to wrap things up in Canada.  However, he came down for a couple of weeks during the Easter season.  And today he just left after visiting with us for another couple of weeks.  He came and blessed our home last week. We also had a wonderful social after church.  We had a gathering at the home of one of our parish family.  She cooked a very full and fancy meal for us.  Most of didn’t leave until 6:45 p.m.  It was just a wonderful time of food and fellowship. 

Our priest will be back  to our parish–along with his family– by the first of July.  This time they will be fully moved.  He found a home for them to rent and has already ordered a specific date for the moving company.  We are very excited to have our first full time priest at our Christian Orthodox Church.

I hope not to be so long in writing again.  I am busy though–still making many trips to Nashville for Jim’s health needs.  I also take care of our grandsons most of these summer days.  Vera is gone for the summer.  She is an intern with a new Orthodox ministry in Kansas City,Mo.  We have missed her a great deal.  There is a possibility that this internship will turn into a job.  We are happy for her if it does but our hearts ache with missing her.

May these summer days provide many blessing to each of you!