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Monday, May 6, 2013

Seeing is Believing

“This is happening for a reason.”  I can still hear it as clearly today as I did almost two years ago.

I was sitting alone in my car with a light rain tapping against my windshield as a few simple tears slide down my face.  I had just left my surgeon’s office for my lumpectomy post-op appointment. My husband Winston had reluctantly left for a trip that he had put off because of my surgery with my encouragement to “Go…I am fine.  It’s just a follow up appointment and remember Dr. Bowers told us he was quite sure he got it all…so go, I am fine.” 

That day sweet Dr. Bowers came into the exam room and said, “Hey kiddo…how are you doing?”  Before I could respond, he continued with, “Well, we have some bad news.  We did not get all the tumor…we did not get clean margins after all…and I’m afraid we are going to have to go back in.”  I sat there really in disbelief.  I had been told I had Ductal Carcinoma In Situ and that my cancerous tumor was contained within one of my milk ducts…that I had been lucky because the tumor had not yet invaded my breast tissue, therefore I would only need surgery followed by 32 rounds of radiation and be spared the process of chemotherapy.  Was the tumor worse than initially thought?  Has the tumor spread?  Am I going to lose my breasts after all? Questions were swirling in my head.  When one hears “you have a tumor that is cancerous that must come out” it rings loudly in ones ears. 

As my eyes whaled up, suddenly I wished I was not alone.  A numb tranquilized my body.  And then there was that still, small voice that whispered into my spirit… “This is happening for a reason.”  I was not alone after all.

My name is Lucy Barlow and this is my story.

What was the reason that this was all happening?  Why was I hearing that small, still voice?  Well, let me tell you the rest of the story.  

Following my two lumpectomies I began a series of radiation therapy sessions…33 of them…every day of the week Monday through Friday. I had to travel about 45 minutes each morning  so I could get in and out and then get to my office.  On one particular day, the radiation machine just did not want to “wake up”. This had happened a few times before, so I generally had some devotionals, reading materials and other work projects available to fill my time as I waited. 

On one particular day, something seemed to change for me.  Suddenly as a watched others in that quiet waiting room, I thought about the journey my friend Sharon had traveled some years earlier.  My friend had gone through a horrific battle with cancer and chemotherapy and she had many times shared with me her vision to develop support systems for others going through treatment – a way to share pearls of wisdom to other women so the journey through treatment could be smoother.   She had these great ideas and I often said to her “You should really do that and make it available to women worldwide."

And then…I was faced with a similar situation.   I will be the first to tell you that I cannot say “I know how it is” to go through chemo; however, when you hear cancerous tumor it will change the way you see yourself and life.  I had an "a-ha" moment that morning as I waited for the machines to "wake up" when as I sat then I saw a small, frail lady appear to my right.  She looked to be about 65 years old but moved as though she was 80.  Apparently she had been dropped off by public transportation, and the lonely little woman shuffled in, sat down, and remained there silently as she laid her head in her hands as thought to say, “I just don’t know how I can go on.” 

I thought to myself that there must be a way to help others proceed through this difficult and trying time in their lives. 

And then it happened. 

As I sat watching the despair in the eyes of that little frail lady, I suddenly knew why I was going through “this”.  It was to join my friend Sharon in providing a way to assist and comfort other women who are going through their treatment processes.  Everything she talked to me about before took on a whole new meaning to me. I “caught” Sharon’s vision and the passion that had lain dormant within her took on an immediate call-to- action for me. Sharon and I were to become partners and form a company that is designed to assist women who are beginning their chemo therapy process – to help them travel the path of cancer treatment with more peace, organization, and sense of a promising tomorrow.  

The answer…I just had to be there and be living it to see it!

Oh, and by the way, I have been cancer free for two years…go pink!!

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Journey That Led Us Here

This is how it all started….

My name is Sharon Crews and I am a breast cancer survivor. After recovery, I felt the need to help others in my community going through the same thing as I did. I started off by packing a backpack with the all the essential items I found necessary for chemotherapy, and gave it to a woman in my community. That is how the vision of My Chemo Cocktail & Me, and Got Your Back Pax originated from.

My partner and dear friend, Lucy Barlow, teamed up with me after she underwent radiation therapy after the removal of a cancerous tumor from one of her milk ducts.

One day as she showed up for her therapy appointment, she sat in the waiting room facing many different women who were all in different situations. It wasn’t until she saw a lonely, frail woman in her 60’s drag herself into the waiting room, sit down, and hold her head in hands until she felt the need to help those women through this difficult time.

That ah-ha moment Lucy encountered inspired her to help breast cancer patients. She simply wanted to make the journey as easy as possible for them.

I had shared my story with Lucy before this ah-moment, and I told her what I did for a lady in my community. After her encounter with the lady in the waiting room, she called me and told me that we have to reach women undergoing chemotherapy. She wanted to go forward with the idea of packing backpacks for breast cancer patients, and I couldn’t have agreed more.

Our project began over 2 years ago and we have come a long way since then. We have been giving out mock versions of our book and backpax, and as of now, we are awaiting our launch of “My Chemo Cocktail & Me” and Got Your Back Pax. God has led us here, and we are excited to see where it takes us!

Watch our video of our first book and pax given to one of our dear breast cancer sisters: My Chemo Cocktail & Me: First Prototype Gift
We have come such a long way since the first gift of the My Chemo Cocktail & Me Prototype book & Got Your Back Pax, given to Sharon Davis! We are so blessed & honored that Sharon allowed us into her life to share a piece of our hearts & wisdom with her on her journey through chemotherapy. Every day we come closer to launching, but as this time draws closer & we make changes to our book & pax, we will never forget how this mission of helping fellow sisters in need of comfort & support started! Enjoy… The Chemo Girls   XOXO
Not just SURVIVING, but THRIVING with you!