Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Like My Mother Does......

Well, the days are getting longer, and things are looking brighter and life is good!  I am often asked how I can take so much & keep on moving forward with such enthusiasm.  So this week, I took some time to reflect on how I got here, and what is it that keeps hope alive so strongly within me.  How is it that I always seem to give more when I should probably feel like giving up?  It is very simple.  The answer came easily.  It is a choice!

I often say it is the children and grandchildren who give me the strength to continue on this journey. We all know that #TEAMNANNY is a huge gift to me and that we bleed yellow!   And while that is true, that they give me purpose to face another mountain, it is not always that simple.  Sometimes it is very lonely being like I am, but then I just have to call for a play date with one of them, and I am immediately brought back into the present and we play, we are silly, and we are ALIVE!!  An outing with a daughter is cool too.  I am with my husband 24/7 and he is quite simply the light on my darkest days, and he believes in me.  He supports all my dreams no matter how crazy they sound sometimes.  

I was not supposed to be still alive in 2015 because my prognosis was so dismal, so how dare I not reach out when I get down.  I have the most supportive family in the world, and they are always willing to help.  I am not always willing to "ask" for help mind you!  I am getting better at it!  

This joy that I have for life did not begin with #TEAMNANNY mind you! I have been sick pretty much my whole life with one illness or another.  Family know my extensive medical history, surgeries, hospitalizations, medical journeys with lupus and cancer have taken a lot from me.  But despite the physical and emotional challenges I have on this journey I am happy.  I mean I am really HAPPY.  I would not trade me the way I am for anybody else on the planet.  I am INSIDE out HAPPY.  The kind of happy when you thank God every single day for the blessings he has bestowed upon me.   The kind of happy that your #gratitude list is infinite.  

But from the very beginning of my life, to be able to survive a life of illness I needed a much greater inner strength.   You are not born with that strength.  I am sure genetically I got my hard head from my DNA, after meeting my birth family ten years ago, it was apparent that we are survivors each in our own way.  I was blessed the day I was adopted.  The day my mom and my dad chose me to be their own, my parents changed my life forever. I know they sure as hell did not know what they were signing up for but that their deep faith carried them through.  I must have done OK, since they decided to do it all over again with Danny two years later.  I could not have chosen a better baby brother! While growing up we had our share of sibling rivalry, he has been the most supportive brother a sister could ever wish for.  

We had a solid foundation of unconditional love.  I was raised to appreciate life, all life.  Find the good in every situation.  And remember to say thank you! Lesson #1.  Nailed it! :) 

I knew I was loved.  I knew I could screw up and they always had my back.  And that is true until today.  While I was always aware of how incredibly proud my parents were of me, it must have been hell these past few years on my mom to see how beat up I have been from my cancer and lupus and amputations.  It is hard on the family here who see me struggle on a daily basis.  My sweet husband has been through the worst of it with me, and I have seen the look on  his face sometimes. When the fear takes him down, and the doubt takes him under, it just makes me just more determined to win.  After all he is my backbone, my cornerstone, my crutch when my legs stop moving.  

While I knew my whole life that I was "Daddy's girl", and a princess in his eyes, (if tom boys can be princesses?).....he was my hero.   He survived war and illness, cancer and so much more.  I miss him every day.  But I know that I am glad he was not here to see me like this, struggling with every mountain that is put in front of me.  It would have completely broken his heart, and he would have felt helpless.  But mom would have been there to remind him that "she will be OK", like she did for so many years.  

My mom was the caregiver in our family.  She took care of all my dad's needs until the day he passed, and she has always been there for her family and friends.  My mom is my foundation, my rock, my inspiration and I want to be just like her when I grow up.  I will not grow old, because she has not grown old.  While my mom has been through so much more in her lifetime than I ever will, she taught me to CHOOSE to be HAPPY when I was very very little.   My mom rocks it at 87 1/2 .  My mom is my biggest fan, my cheerleader.  She is not quiet about it either.  She is the first one to "Like" my posts on Facebook!  She texts me every day to see if I am OK!  I don't know any other mom like mine.   My mom has aged, because that is what all of our bodies do.  They age.  But my mom is never going to grow old.  So today, I just want my mom to know how much I love and appreciate her! I am dedicating this to you mom!! I hope you enjoy it!!  It could have been written for us!  Keep dancing mom, keep being happy, keep wanting to help others.  Keep just being you!  Because children "live what they learn", and I am still learning.  And so far I have learned so much especially that I now know that at 88 I will be happy and have many friends...... Just Like My Mother Does.  xoxoxo

Here is the link to the official video and below it the song's lyrics dedicated 
to my mom, 
Joyce Kilcullen.  

(an ad plays first)

                                                      "Like My Mother Does"
[Verse 1]
People always say
I have a laugh
Like my mother does
Guess that makes sense
She taught me how to smile
When things get rough

I've got her spirit
She's always got my back
When I look at her
I think, I want to be just like that

When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I feel weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
Because I see myself like my mother does

[Verse 2]
I never met a stranger
I can talk to anyone
Like my mother does
I let my temper fly
And she can walk away
When she's had enough

She sees everybody
For who they really are
I'm so thankful for her guidance
She helped me get this far

When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I feel weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
I see myself like my mother does

She's a rock
She is grace
She's an angel
She's my heart and soul
She does it all

When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I'm weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
I see myself like my mother does
Like my mother does

I hear people saying
I'm starting to look like my mother does

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A SURVIVOR sharing the gift of HOPE!

I am Katherine Kilcullen, & known online as #TEAMNANNY, created by my grandson Isaac who when just 6yrs old put our LIVESTRONG wristbands together & had me promise that we would always be a "team".  Little did he know that his dream of our team would help to inspire so many more to join us on this journey.  This is my story.......

We *ALL*  know somebody affected by this disease!  I had it, my mother had it, my father, my niece, my BEST friends..... too many to keep count anymore!  Cancer has already taken too many of our loved ones from us too soon!
My story has been shared online on my blog, you-tube channel and Facebook – because I believe that knowledge is power and had I been diagnosed earlier I would have had a different outcome. The fact that I even survived surpassed all statistics and my prognosis was grim, outcome I was told was dismal.  I feel that sharing this hope, that if you don't give up on your dreams because of cancer, then you will be stronger for the journey it brings you on.  I am me.  I am not my cancer.  And cancer cannot destroy love and hope.  I respect those who want to keep their cancer story private.  It is a difficult journey and it is not easy to wear your heart out on your sleeve.  But I have learned from other survivors stories that by sharing my story, I will help reduce the stigma associated with cancer, add my face to the 32 million people worldwide, and let people know that you are a not a statistic.  Each person’s treatment plan is personalized, and that we all have the right to patient centered care.  And every survivor needs #HOPE!
In January 2006 I was diagnosed with stage IIICUterine Papillary Serous Carcinoma: a rare and highly malignant form of endometrial adenocarcinoma.  My treatment began with a radical hysterectomy, a bilateral aslpingo-oophorectomy, debulking as much tumor as possible, followed my adjuctive therapy which consisted of six cycles of chemotherapy treatments with combined drugs carboplatin (Paraplatin) with paclitaxel (Taxol), followed by thirty five abdo-pelvic radiation treatments, and brachytherapy.  I remember the whole time wondering just how bad this was when everyone treating me was in hazmat suits, protecting themselves from the poison they were administering to me to kill my cancer cells. 
If only it killed just the cancer cells...... I have since had major lupus flares following my cancer treatment, and have life long side effects, the collateral damage post cancer  including but not limited to.....
·Enteric NS Neuropathy – 2 o chemo (2008) ·  Celiac Disease (dx biopsy 2008) ·  Right leg AK amputation surgery ( September 16, 2010) ·  Right leg AK amputation revision surgery (March 30, 2011) ·  Radiation Colitis – (June 2011) ·  Moderate radiation proctitis with vascular ectasia & fibrotic area (October 2011) · Argon plasma coagulation – October 2011, December 2011 and March 2012 ·  Left leg AK amputation surgery (September 17, 2012) ·  Left leg AK amputation revision surgery (April 27, 2013) ·  Argon plasma coagulation – February 2014.  
I made educated choices in my treatment plan.  I got the facts on what was the best treatment plan for the type of cancer I had.  I feel that because the support I received from LIVESTRONG empowered me to be my own advocate, it made a huge difference in my outcome.  I was inspired by other survivor stories, found out what worked for them, and took what I needed from that information and applied it to my own fight. It was a crash course in survival skills 101.  Thank God for the support I received from LIVESTRONG.  You just reach out to them and suddenly you have an army of people who are wanting to help. 
I continue to fight the collateral damage of cancer treatments every single day.  But I am still alive to make a difference! Too many of our loved ones have ran out of time!  Through these heartbreaks we should be inspired to honor the memory of those we have lost and those warriors still fighting by our volunteer work and fundraising efforts!  The LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION was there the moment I was diagnosed until this very day..... I say “Let the yellow shine” on those affected by cancer!  And YOU can help me pay it forward to our loved ones diagnosed today.
*Unity is strength*
 *Knowledge is power*
 *Attitude is everything*
The LIVESTRONG Foundation serves people affected by cancer NOW from the minute of diagnosis and empowers them to take action against this disease that is now the world's leading cause of death. LIVESTRONG has become a symbol of hope and inspiration to people affected by cancer around the world.  
It was my dream to survive the cancer and gain enough health, and do what I could to become a LIVESTRONG leader.  In 2014 my dream became reality!  "UNITY IS STRENGTH" is the truth. Please, join me and #TEAMNANNY, united and help me support the LIVESTRONG Foundation.   I am #STILLSTRONG......  Thanks to my loved ones, and my "yellow family" @LIVESTRONG!  My motto is "Never Live A Life Less Than You Are Capable Of"

Follow us online! We are sharing hope online! Just use the hashtag #teamnanny.  


*Love* & *Light* has been my signature for the past 20 years, and may it continue to help lead you when darkness comes.



@teamnanny on Twitter