Saturday, February 28, 2009

When A Day Isn't Just Another Day

What's so important about a day? A day is just another day until something significant happens (good or bad) and then that day becomes one that we never forget, like 9/11, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, the day you got married, the day you retire. But other things can also happen that make a date become one you never forget.

Today is one of those days. Four years ago, on this date, I got the news that I had cervical cancer. So now, 28 Feb 2005 is a day I will always remember. Saint Patrick's Day, 2005, is the day I had surgery to confirm my diagnosis - a day I will always remember. 2 May 2005, the day before my 51st birthday, I had a radical hysterectomy done - a day I will always remember.

I was in total shock when I was told that I had cancer. I was just getting ready to retire from the military and had hardly been sick a day my whole military career (over 22 years). Then this happens. What a way to spend my terminal leave....

I, like so many others, wondered "Why, me?", when I got the diagnosis. I didn't cry, I didn't scream, I just asked the doctor, "So what do we do now?" As you can tell by the dates listed above, I didn't waste any time getting things done. I wanted to get it done and over with so I could move on with the rest of my life and try to enjoy some of that terminal leave I was on. The hardest part was telling my friends, family and co-workers.

After recuperating from my surgery, I underwent six weeks of radiation therapy and chemo therapy as a preventative measure. Today, I continue to be in remission. I can't say "Cancer Free" because no one is ever "Cancer Free." On the day I was diagnosed I became a "Survivor".

For years I had been involved with the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, never knowing that someday I would become a survivor and that the Relay would become even more important to me. I was a Relay team member, Relay team captain and even a Relay committee member. I still have all my Relay T-Shirts. I spent hours walking the track and raising money - one year I was even there the whole 24 hours. My husband and I have participated in Relay every year for the last 12 years or so, I was even able to participate in the Relay in 2005. I created a spot on a wall of our house to display all of our Relay for Life Survivor medals, not only to remind us that we are "Survivors" but to remind us of those we have lost to cancer - friends, co-workers, and family.

My husband's mother died of lung cancer in 1979, my mother died in 2002 and supposedly had undiagnosed stomach cancer (with unknown origin), my Aunt Shirley died of pancreatic cancer in 2004 and in 2001 my husband was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma on his left tonsil. There have been so many people we have known who have died from cancer, that I've lost count.

My husband started out with radiation therapy on his neck. In Apr 2002 he had a radical neck dissection because the radiation didn't completely eliminate the tumor. By late 2002 the cancer had spread to the lymph glands in his neck. He had another radical neck dissection in Jan 2003, followed by more radiation therapy. He had a total of 65 radiation treatments. Things were looking good until Jun 2007, when he found out that the cancer had metastized to his lung, aortic arch and right chest wall. The bad news is - it's not curable. The good news is - it's treatable. So shortly after his new diagnosis, he started chemotherapy treatments. And, he continues to get chemotherapy every Tuesday. He will continue chemotherapy until he passes away. Of course, we are hoping that will be a very, very long time from now. He tolerates the chemotherapy pretty well, but it does take a lot out of him. The day of treatment and for a couple of days after he does a lot of sleeping. He doesn't have a lot of energy to do things, so he will be a very unhappy camper this spring and summer when he doesn't feel up to golfing. He loves to golf! His last CT scan showed that the tumor around his aortic arch had shrunk .7 cm and the one in his chest was stable. The one in his lung has been gone (or at least not big enough to show up on a CT scan) since Jun of last year.

Doing mine and my husband's genealogy has identified a lot of family members who died of cancer, so it does kinda make you wonder if it's in the "genes".

Monday, February 23, 2009

How Weird Is This?

Okay, I was going through more family photos again to scan and add to my Ancestry website when I came across this picture. The gal on the left is Lois (Johnson) Roberts, who was married to Jack Franklin Roberts, my first cousin once removed. The gal on the right - you would probably never guess in a million years!! That's my mother-in-law, Sara Keller. Evidently, Lois and Sara were best of friends. Weird that there was a connection between our families even back then. As a matter of fact, my husband loves the smell of leather and he used to go into my Grandpa Roberts' shoe shop just for the smell.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wow, What A Surprise!

I was surprised and thrilled to find out this morning that Gini at had awarded me the Kreative Blogger Award. I have to admit that I was also shocked, since I only just started this blog in January. Thank you, Gini! I would also like to congratulate Gini on being a 9 year cancer survivor.

I would also like to thank my cousin, Becky (, for encouraging me to start a blog. Without her support I probably would have never done it.

I am still learning about this blogging thing and hope someday to make my site look alot fancier than it does now. I guess I need a Blogging 101 course....

Gini, you made my day and again thank you very much.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We Are The Chosen

I recently had a fellow genealogist and family member share this with me and thought I'd share it with all of you.

We Are The Chosen

In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us, "Tell our story!" So, we do.

In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, "You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us." How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying, "I can't let this happen." The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish, how they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth. Without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do.

With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers.

That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those whom we had never known before.

2003 posting by: Lloyd Ray Timmons, Sr.

...and if sometimes we are lucky, we will be the one at the Christmas dinner who is asked questions and who can tell the stories and identify the pictures. And if we are really lucky - we can find another younger soul in the family to take up the cause.

Any Society that would give up liberty for a little security, will deserve neither and lose both.

Benjamin Franklin 1759

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Cool Discovery

Every Tuesday, my husband and I head to the Cancer Care Center so that he can get his chemotreatment. We can be there anywhere from three to seven hours, depending on which Tuesday it is and what all treatments he may end up needing to get. He is currently receiving Erbitux every Tuesday and then every third Tuesday he also gets Carboplatin. Both Erbitux and Carboplatin deplete the levels of magnesium in the body so sometimes he needs to have a magnesium bolus.

So, every Tuesday I pack up my laptop computer and grab some genealogy stuff to work on while we are at the Cancer Care Center. It helps me pass the time.

This last Tuesday, one of the items I took with me was a follow-up e-mail I had received from a gentleman who had contacted me through Ancestry's Connection Service about a relative of mine, Grace Evelyn Fox. He is working on his son-in-law's genealogy and had sent me a pedigree chart which started with his son-in-law's mother, Nancy Carol Fair. I started inputting what information he had on the pedgree chart into my Roberts-Allen Family website so that I could determine what information I had that I could share with him and what information he had that I didn't.

As I worked my way back through the generations on his pedigree chart I made a really cool discovery. I got to the names Beverly C. Rattliff and Mahala J. Mitchell and I went "hmm, those names sure look familiar." So I went into my Bradley-Moore Family website and sure enough, there was Beverly C. Rattliff and Mahala J. Mitchell. So it turns out that this gentleman's son-in-law is not only related to me on my Roberts-Allen side of the family, but he's also related to me on my Bradley-Moore side of the family. I hadn't realized the connection until I got his pedigree chart. How cool is that?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Harness Maker

In my Grandpa Roberts' early years, he was a harness maker and had his own harness shop. This is a picture of him in his shop.