Sharon Cecil: A True Story

Sharon Cecil: A True Story

 

On May 16, 1990, I was scheduled for a biopsy. Biopsy is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as “the study of tissue taken from a living person or organism”. What events lead up to a day that felt like the plot for a horror movie? This couldn’t be happening to me. I was too busy. after all, I’d always heard “life at 40”. Plus, I was going to graduate from nursing school in a few days and my daughter was going to graduate from high school in a few days and turn 18 in a couple of weeks. My husband and I were making plans for a wonderful celebration. Our lives were moving full stream ahead.

The Beginning

On January 15, 1990, I found a lump in my breast. It felt like a large, egg shaped knot in the lower quadrant of my breast. I had always done my monthly breast self-exam (BSE). This was not my idea of a Happy New Year gift. The lump scared me. I needed to call my doctor. it was not regular doctor office hours when I found this lump that was invading my privacy. I called the office anyway. I was told to call back in the morning. I call the office first thing the next morning.

A mammogram was ordered for January 30. Those days of waiting before I could have the mammogram were difficult. I had so many questions. I could not understand why I had to wait so long so have this lump checked. I didn’t understand why I hadn’t noticed this lump sooner. How could it be there now and not feel anything the month before? If it is breast cancer, will I die? The questions kept eating at me.

The results of my mammogram were excellent according to my OB/GYN and internist. “Nothing to be concerned about.” So I decided I needed to get back to business as usual. I need to stop feeling like my body has been invaded. Or worse yet, that my body was failing me. Yet, once a month, I was reminded that the lump was still there. February, March, and April proved that this “nothing to be concerned about” lump was becoming more tender and larger. This just didn’t feel right emotionally or physically. The question kept hitting me in the gut, “If this is breast cancer, will I die?”

I began to ask other people questions. I talked with a couple of my nursing instructors and friends who were nurses. I was reminded that I had no predisposing factors. I was told that:

Cancer lumps are not painful
40 is too young for breast cancer
You breast fed your child-that’s good
The list went on and on. This all sounded like what I wanted and needed to hear. Then, why did I continue to have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach?

The Middle

In May, I was scheduled for another mammogram. Again, it showed nothing. I was scheduled for a biopsy and on May 16, I was told that I had breast cancer. On May 21, I had a modified radical mastectomy with lymph node dissection (this is where some lymph nodes are removed and examined so the doctors can stage the cancer and determine treatment). Great, now I’m being amputated and dissected.

My first thoughts were about my family. I didn’t want to leave my beautiful, wonderful, loving family. I was so afraid of dying. I was being drafted into war I did not want to fight. I started comparing myself to the young men who had been drafted into the Vietnam War. The emotions ran rampant. Different doctors had different recommendations, one of which was to see an oncologist. At this moment in time, my biggest concern was the legacy (having been taught and told this disease runs in families), I would be leaving my daughter….Breast Cancer.

And we’re off…now I felt I was in a race for time. I started Chemotherapy. It felt as if a day didn’t go by that I was in a doctor’s office. Some weeks, I would see up to three different doctors. The months drug by slowly. I was still working as much as possible and I was completing my last semester of nursing school.

The End

In December, 1990, I finished nursing school and my chemotherapy on the same day.

I decided to stop and take some time to reflect on the past year. I did see my daughter go to her senior prom, graduate from high school and celebrate her 18th birthday. I realized how grateful I was. Now more than ever, I realized positive thoughts would create positive experiences. How could I relay these gratitude’s. I realized the spoken word is very powerful. I had a lot of realization going through me.

In 1991 I passed my state boards and I am a real nurse (R.N.)

In March, 1991, I made my first public appearance speaking on gratitude and attitude. I had buttons made to say “HANG ON TO A GOOD ATTITUDE”. Later that year, I had cards printed that read “Shar’n my gratitude with a gift of a gold ATTITUDE”. Attached to these cards was a gold attitude pin. Then I began volunteering for cancer organizations throughout the community. I was the BSE (breast self-exam) program coordinator for the American Cancer Society for several years.

In 1994, We Survive, Inc. was born. Women Offering Wisdom (WOW), a division of We Survive, was created. WOW is an inter-generational education program promoting communication between younger and older women. Its focus is to educate younger women-ranging in age from puberty to early childhood-on ways to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.

Through my experiences in life, I realized the importance of nutrition, physical health, and a positive mental outlook. These are areas addressed with the WOW program. Advocating the position that the more young women know about their bodies, the better prepared they will be to face any problems that may develop later in their lives. The WOW program incorporates breast self-exam into its program.

In 1998, I continue to speak publicly, my family is wonderful, and my life is moving full stream ahead.

We Survive A true Story

Breast cancer from a 17 year old’s perspective

On May 16,1990, my mother was told she had breast cancer. All I knew was “cancer means death,” isn’t that what everyone thinks?

This was a time when plans were being made. Most immediately, I was getting ready for my prom on May 18. My mom and I had already been shopping for my dress, my shoes and all the things that I needed. But, there were nails, hair and all the other stuff that goes with getting ready that needed to be done.

Then, there was graduation. Graduation was suppose to be one of the most exciting times of my life. There was going to be a graduation party. People coming over to the house to just say “hi”.

Plus, I was about to turn that magical 18 on May 29. Although, I’m not sure why it was suppose to be magical. It just was. I was really looking forward to having a party.

Did I mention my mom was going to graduate, too? She was finishing nursing school. There was going to be this grand old bash.

As you can see, this was suppose to be the best of times. Do you remember my first sentence on this page?

Cancer changed everything. All I could feel was scared. I felt as if this was unfair. I was cheated of having a good time. All of our plans were disrupted. Taking care of my mom was so hard. She would talk to me like I was an adult. I felt as if I couldn’t be a kid. I resented not being able to do what we had planned.

I didn’t want cancer in my life.

The cornerstone of WOW is Sharon Cecil & her daughter Michelle’s story.

WOW’s objective is no young women ever feel the way Michelle felt. WOW is an informational program and provides a vehicle of communication for young women in Michelle’s situation.

Moody Cecil

Moody Cecil:

A Born Naturalist

By: Sharon Cecil

Born and raised in Bloomfield, KY, Moody’s relatives (on both sides of his family) owned farms throughout Nelson County. Although he knew that farming was not a passion, he realized at a very young age that nature was. As a child, one of his favorite aunts would take him hiking and one of his uncles took him fishing on a regular basis. He spent a lot of time on his grandparent’s farm. There weren’t many trees, but a lot of hay fields filled with wildflowers. Wildflowers became a passion for LoL Moody.

Moody left Bloomfield to go to college. After finishing college he went to work as a Pharmacist. Spending 40 plus years in healthcare, the center of his life was interacting with and educating people about their health. But, he never lost his love for nature.

Through the years Moody took any opportunity that he had, to spend time at his grandparents land (who no longer used it as a working farm). He was seen by spending as much time as possible communing with nature. He wanted to grow online gaming walnut trees as a legacy for his grandchildren.

Moody semi-retired and the prospect of being able to spend more time at the “farm” and plant walnut trees were becoming more and more doable. You know the old saying, “be careful what you ask for.” The only obstacle in his way was his wife (who is writing this). She wasn’t really crazy about the idea of spending time at computer games the “farm”. It was basically a nightmare for her. By this time, the house had been vandalized and burglarized. It was all grown over and you literally “could not see the forest for the trees.” But, Moody would not give up his dream.

All possibilities were explored to see how the land could be best utilized. Moody wanted to take the gift he had been given and share it with as many people as he could. Working with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, Moody realized that he didn’t have to plant walnut trees or any other trees. He had 79 acres of gently rolling woodland that has since been designated as a Stewardship Forest by the Kentucky Division Of Forestry- creating a “legacy for future generations.”

There was much work to be done. By renovating the house and cleaning the front acreage around the house, the old home place came back to life providing a “haven of hope”. Located in historic Nelson County, it is a beautiful setting for restoration of the spirit.

In 1994 the Cecil’s co-founded WE SURVIVE, INC., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, whose headquarters are located on the land Moody so dearly loves. It is the perfect setting for seminars, workshops, team brainstorming and league of legends meditation. By promoting intergenerational communication, WE SURVIVE programs provide opportunities for the exchange of information encouraging participants to be proactive in environmental stewardship and their personal health.

Moody began taking his grandchildren fishing and hiking on the same ground he walked as as small child. They inspired him to develop a program for children. I CAN (Children And Nature) is designed to help youth be proactive in environmental stewardship by stimulating participants creative abilities while developing their appreciation for natural surroundings.

Moody provides programs for and works with youth organizations throughout the community. He has worked closely with the staff and youth at Wayside Christian Mission and Jefferson Community College (JCC)- Early Childhood Development Program while creating an intergeneration connection with Franciscan Health Care Center bringing senior citizens, Children And Nature together. Through this collaborative effort, Moody kicked off a program, on April 24, 1998, providing fun- filled activities- which included art and photography projects. Children from Wayside Christian Mission designed and created a banner and the children from Wayside and JCC’s Early Childhood Development Center put together a nature scrapbook which was presented to the residents at Franciscan Health Care Center. The children planted seeds that were later transplanted to gardens established at Franciscan as part of a project they are developing called Eden Alternative. The Eden Alternative program is a philosophy which believes that nursing homes should be a diverse, dynamic habitat in which animals, plants, and humans interact and thrive. Also, a tree was planted at each facility in recognition of Arbor Day.

In the fall of 1999, Moody completed a Master Gardening Course through the Jefferson County Extension Office. He is providing opportunities for the County Extension Office and his fellow master gardeners to be a part of WE SURVIVE programs.

Moody planned, promoted and presented programs encouraging environmental stewardship, for Arbor Day and the 2000 Arbor Day National Poster Contest- a cooperative effort of WE SURVIVE, INC., and national sponsors the Keebler Company and The National Arbor Day Foundation. As Kentucky’s Coordinator for the Arbor Day National Poster Contest, Moody contacted schools, groups, and organizations throughout the state. He is very excited about the opportunity the contest has provided fifth grade students to foster planting knowledge and the importance of caring for our environment. His plans are to generate more participation in 2001.

Moody coordinated two separate events to announce the winners of the Arbor Day Poster Contest. Jefferson Counties winner was announced at the County Extension Office on March 21 with a reception that followed. The State Winner – whose work advanced to national competition- was announced at Jefferson Community College. With over 100 attendance, Jeneen Wiche was the keynote speaker for this event held on March 24. Students, representatives from JCC and the County Extension Office were present when Moody Cecil and Jeneen Wiche planted a tulip poplar tree- Kentucky’s state tree- at 1st and Gray St. on the Jefferson Community College Campus.

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By combining his experience as a healthcare provider and naturalist, Moody has created unique programs that promote environmental stewardship and healthy lifestyles.