NOT ME by Guest Blogger Christine Handy

Christine_couchChristine, today.

I remember some of the details of the days leading up to my breast cancer diagnosis and of the moment the doctor called me with the results. The initial memories I do have are memories of disbelief and fear, not anger. The memories are of deep sadness, but not pity. They are of confusion and guttural pain. It’s a day nobody wants to experience and a day I will never soon forget.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer October 1st 2013, I was 43 years young with no family history of the disease. I was one of those ladies that never took the self exam seriously. But on that one, very random evening in late September for no apparent reason at all, I gave myself a breast exam and found a lump. It was a hard mass below my left nipple and it seemed to appear out of nowhere. That night my husband and I convinced ourselves that it was a cyst, it couldn’t be cancer. Not only did I not have any family history, but I worked out 6 days a week. I’m allergic to sugar so don’t eat any and I’m a vegetarian. Other than the major debacle with my right arm I was otherwise very heathy. This could not happen to me.

I was out of town the night I felt the lump and as chance would have it, it was on a Saturday. During my initial frenzy I contemplated going to the emergency room, but I had to come to grips with the reality that I had to wait. The compulsion for an answer that gripped my every breath was intense and yet I could do nothing about it. By Tuesday, I was back home and called my obstetrician who referred me to a breast specialist. Oh boy , I thought, here we go. I called the specialist and begged my way into an appointment the following morning. More waiting. I look back to the waiting during those days and I still shake my head. It was agonizing.

The following morning my husband and I headed to the “specialist”. Something unexpected happened when I checked into the reception area that morning. I started to feel humiliation. I had a lump. I was a marked woman (I thought) and I actually felt shame. I can’t explain why I felt humiliation, but I can only surmise it was because of the stigma attached to the word cancer . I remember growing up and adults whispering to each other, ” oh she’s the one with cancer,” like it was shameful. I had already felt fear and now I felt the black mark.

The specialist’s office was typical and systematic. We got to speak to the doctor fairly quickly, a brief hello and off with the shirt and bra. He did a physical exam and said that he believed the mass on my left breast was a cyst just from the touch and from the way it “moved.” I felt a surge of relief. I may have even smiled. The doctor then asked my husband to head to the waiting room and I was shuffled over to the line for the mammogram. I sat next to another lady who was older than me, I recall. She was very pleasant and started to talk to me. She said that she was there for her 6 month check up. She also said she had been diagnosed with breast cancer the year before, but that it was stage one and therefore she didn’t have to undergo any chemotherapy treatment. I felt sorry for her. She, although older than me, was still way too young to have had cancer- I thought.

Shortly after my mammogram , I was back in an exam room feeling pretty confident and a bit more at ease. The doctor came back into the exam room, sat next to me while placing his hand on my knee and said in a quiet , genteel voice that possibly it wasn’t a cyst, but that I should not be concerned. He also said that they needed to do a needle biopsy the next day. This was some kind of roller coaster and my brief feelings of relief were washed away by total panic. I remember I started to cry. All the emotional courage I had mustered up collapsed right before me. I asked for the nurse to go get my husband and she did. My husband walked in a few minutes later with a swagger and a smile but when he looked at me he immediately stopped and asked ” what’s wrong”. I explained to him what the doctor had said to me and then he lowered his head and in a solemn manner spoke out an, “awwwwww” sound . I knew from his tone and expression the he knew at this point that this was serious. As much as he recovered quickly and tried to convince me that it was going to be fine, I knew he felt differently.

It was at this very moment when the anger began. We left the breast specialist’s office and as I walked to the car I started to sob. You see, in the 14 months prior to this very day, I had had surgery on my right arm that led to an infection which went misdiagnosed for 5 months. The infection- during those 5 months- literally ate away all of my cartilage in my right wrist and broke every single bone while decaying the bones that were left. The misdiagnosis led to 6 additional arm surgeries, somewhere around 14 different arm casts and months of ridiculously painful physical rehab. It also led to my having a PICC line that was inserted into my upper right tricep and threaded to my heart. This allowed my “new” infectious disease doctor (I didn’t even know this type of doctor existed) to pump me with what was described as ” World War 2 ” intensity antibiotics to stop the infection. Even after all this, I ended up with a permanently disabled right arm.

So, on this very sad solemn day in late September 2013 while walking to my car fearing the worst , I was still in a cast . You see the reason I was out of town when I found the lump was not because I was on some kind of vacation after the arm debacle. It was because I was in NYC seeing the surgeon that had just fused and bone grafted my wrist. It was my 6 week post surgery check up. I hadn’t even gotten a chance to realize the magnitude of my permanently fused arm and I was worrying about having breast cancer. By the time I got to the car that day in Dallas Texas, in the parking lot outside of the breast specialists office, I started to scream. Literally scream in broad daylight. I couldn’t wrap my brain around having any more pain, any more suffering and I especially couldn’t imagine having cancer. Was all that I had gone through with my arm not enough? Was I being punished? I screamed and screamed and screamed some more. Not me. Not me I cried. 

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photo-262The week before chemo starts.

photo-264Chopping hair off before losing it to chemo. 

Christine_PeterChristine & her husband, Peter. 

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Christine resides between Dallas and Miami. She is a wife and mom to two great teenage sons. She’s a former model and power athlete. Stay tuned for Christine’s next inspiring post! She is also writing a book about her dual journey with her battle with breast cancer and the fusion of her arm. 

 

BE FAB FRIDAY: Old Hollywood Glamour at Era Salon

ERA_SalonPhoto by Josh Welch

 

HEY MY DALLAS SISTAS!

The hair salon- for most women- is hallowed ground. A place of beautification, confidence building and therapy. A woman’s crowning glory is at the top of our beauty regimen list so shouldn’t this hallowed space scream of glamour? Heck yes and I’m thrilled to tell you that my girlfriend’s new salon, ERA is the epitome of glamour, luxury and beauty. The minute you walk in to ERA, your stress melts off. The red carpet is rolled out and you are treated like a celebrity. Despite the uber-chic vibe, ERA has a welcoming Southern charm. Much like Truvy’s beauty parlor on Steel Magnolias, Maleiah has created a comfortable place to kick your heels up, have a cup of coffee or glass of champagne and share a laugh with the personable stylists. You will not only leave with bouncin’ and behavin’ hair, you will leave with a happy heart. 

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Maleiah Rogers, a veteran of the hair industry, discovered a passion for her craft at an early age while working in her mother’s salon in East Texas. After graduating from Toni and Guy in 2002, Maleiah honed her skills at the internationally acclaimed Jose Eber salon. Maleiah is a respected stakeholder in the industry and is known for her trendsetting style. Maleiah founded ERA to share her passion and inspire women to feel beautiful inside and out. ERA salon is the manifestation of Maleiah’s fashion beliefs- blending old Hollywood glamour with modern day chic. via www.erasalon.com

Maleiah_blow outMalieah doing her magic & looking fab.
Doesn’t everyone rock a fascinator to work?  

 

Era_oribeERA features and sells top of the line  products like Oribe.

 

What woman doesn’t want happy hair and a happy heart?  Call ERA today and make your appointment 214-520-6767.

4023 Oak Lawn Ave, Suite 120, Dallas TX 75219

Tell them Tiff sent ya. You will thank me later!

Be happy & be fab,

Tiff

SOCIAL MEDIA MADNESS

Hello Gorgeous!

Be honest…

How much time do spend on social media on a daily basis? Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc. It has become an addiction for many…who may not even realize the negative effects and toll it’s taking on their life, relationships and self-esteem. As if women need anything else to disempower us. 

In my latest vlog rant, I share my two-cents on the subject:  

 

What is your takeaway? 

Do you need to spend more time person-to-person with friends & family and less time connecting via social media? 

When you get off Facebook, do you have a sense of competition, comparison and overall ‘blah’? 

I’m old school and prefer catching up with friends over coffee/lunch/wine. Connecting eye-to-eye, laughing or crying with someone and feeling their energy is sooooo much more special than an email or facebook comment. Just sayin’. 

Stop the madness sista! Share this and leave a comment with your two-cents. 

Love, Tiff

 

MONDAY ‘Mind Over Matter’ MOTIVATION…Shut Up Tiff!

Tiff_Skirt_from Jess

I’m one who diligently tries very veryyyyyy hard to practice what I preach. I’m not even a fan of the word preach so let’s replace that with the word, teach. That sounds better, right? Why should I expect anyone to listen to what I have to say if I’m not walking the talk?

My confidence can waver just like yours. My negative self-talk can bombard me like a banshee and let’s just say.. my poor husband. My hormones can hit me like a freight train. One day I’m skipping like a school girl with butterflies swirling around my head and the next day I could karate kick anyone who gets in my path like I’m Laura Croft. Am I walking tall on those days? Not so much. I can admit it. 

I know you are used to my empowering motivational messages, but sometimes life just gives you it’s best shot and I can only ‘keep it real’ here on the blog. That’s what the vast world of blogging is all about.. sharing your experiences, tips, advice and life with the hope to inspire others. Some days I’m sure you think- Shut up Tiff! I’m just not feelin’ it.

I’m not a whiner and loathe it when women play the victim so let me make it clear here- this is neither a whine session or rant. I have a lot of good days, great days as a matter of fact, but I also experience the ebb & flow, ups & downs of life just like you. Even on the down days- there is a silver lining and lesson to it. 

The photo above is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I’m going to just put it out there- the day I took this photo I had cramps so bad they woke me up and it felt like the devil had set up his hell camp right in my abdomen. This was a week earlier that expected so my period tracker app said. Ok, we all deal with this and it can be quite juvenile to discuss it at my age, but I promise it goes with the topic at hand. I had an important lunch meeting that day that had already been rescheduled once. I had to suck it up and take my own advice…Mind over matter, girl. What I really wanted to do was curl up in bed with some chocolate, a bag of Doritoes and zone out to the Food Network. (who loves Cutthroat Kitchen?)  I was also dealing with a serious life-threatening issue (which makes my monthly situation look like a walk in the park) with the beautiful teen girl I mentor. I mean really? I have trust that God is in control even when I feel so out of control. 

I popped some advil for the cramps. 

The positive self-talk begins. 

The affirmations roll off my tongue. 

I pray for help. 

I choose a cute outfit. ( A big thanks to my dear friend Jessica Youngblood of Just Fabulous Event for the ‘just because’ gift of that adorable black & white skirt instead of what I wanted to wear.. a moo moo so I could rub my belly. 

I listen to Miranda Lambert on the way to my lunch meeting and pump myself up… “Go and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady”.  By the time I got there I was walking a bit taller than when I left the house. A woman’s will to fake-it-till-we-make-it and practice mind over matter is miraculous and borderlines – a superhero power. Who agrees? With everything we have on our plates, the hormones that can make us feel like we got the life sucked out of us and all the people and different personalities we have to deal with- women are true superheroes even if we can’t find our cape and aren’t walking so tall. Come on, a man gets a little sniffle and you would think the world was coming to an end. 

Some days just suck. Those are the days you roll your eyes at the computer when I post a “Walk Tall” motivational message. (I forgive you!)  You don’t want to put your shoulders back and walk tall, but sista, stand up on the inside then eventually you will be walking tall on the outside. It’s especially important to put on a cute outfit when you’re feeling down instead of the sweats or moo moo.

Mind over matter combined with a cute outfit can totally change your day. I promise.

Love, Tiff

Mind Over Matter

 

 

YOUR MONDAY ‘Kick-In-The-Butt’ MOTIVATION: Getting Balanced In July

Have you been overindulging a bit too much this Summer? My hand is waving in the air and I’m screaming “Oh, Oh, Oh” like Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter (for you youngens who don’t know what the heck I’m talking about…click here & watch this quick clip! 

Ok, back to the topic. My fab YouTubers have asked for me to keep up these Monday Motivational candid vlogs and today’s video has several kick-in-the-butt ideas. If you are like me and have been indulging a bit too much this Summer,  join me in July by doing more yoga, cutting back on the extra sugars & meats, plus detox your mind from the social media and junk food TV by reading more….

 

YOUR THOUGHTS?

Staying balanced all the time is impossible, but it’s being wise enough to know when we need to take a step back from certain things. Remember, if you are in the DFW and Austin areas, take a look at the new Sweat & Core classes at Sunstone Yoga. Stay tuned because we’re giving a FREE month to one of you Dallas sistas! 

Gotta go - make a salad, drink some green tea and read, LOL! 

Love, Tiff

 

 

BEING MISS THRIFTY IS STYLISH & SMART: A Day In My Life

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Happy Sunday Sistas!

Since moving to Dallas, my husband has been in and out of town every month with his CD launch and we haven’t had much time to explore this fab city. Since he was in town for the 4th of July weekend, I decided to introduce him (and reintroduce myself) to all that Dallas has to offer. I love to just get in the car and go on excursions without a hard set schedule. We knew we wanted to have a chill day with some browsing, nibbles and I wanted to get in some thrift shopping.

We started at Bishop Arts District which has changed and grown since I last lived here. This charming, Austin-esque area has some of my favorite eateries as well as eclectic shops and vintage stores. Grab brunch at Oddfellows or dinner at Tillman’s Road House. Tillman’s private dining room is amazing with real trees lining the walls. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. Put this on your to-do list when visiting Big D!  

bishop_arts_TiffAaronA few peeps have already asked about my outfit on Instagram so I want to make sure you sistas are in the loop, too. Dress: Rory Beca , Crossbody Bag: Steve MaddenMirrored Aviators: Betsy Johnson

One of my favorite things to do when I lived in Dallas 15 years ago was thrift shopping. The greater DFW area has fantastic thrift and vintage stores. Yesterday was my first opportunity to go hunting – and bless my hubby’s heart – he was so patient. I’m sure thrift shopping is comparable to getting teeth pulled without anesthesia for a man. He was not only patient, he asked Siri where the best locations were!

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One of my intentions for the Summer is making the time to read more. I have ordered a few new titles off Amazon, but the very best place to get books is Goodwill. I’ve mentioned this on the blog before and several of you commented that you also shop there for your books. Well, yesterday – my thrifty shopping angels were on it and led us to a gigantic Goodwill where I found 13 hardcover books at only $2 a pop. HOLLA! I found books to fill many of my interests from leadership and spirituality titles from John C. Maxwell, Max Lucado, Sarah Ban Breathnach, M.Scott Peck MD, Thomas Moore and John Eldredge to Suze Orman’s financial wisdom to a few biographies of successful female TV hosts. I also love giving away the small, but powerful reads by Bruce Wilkinson on the message of John 15 and the Prayer of Jabez so I pick up extra copies whenever I find them. 

I was excited to find that my favorite Dallas Salvation Army on Harry Hines was still open and guess what I found there? Three beautiful silk scarves in gorgeous Summer colors for a whopping $8 total. Can I get a double… Holla, Holla! Although thrift shopping takes some skill, a good eye and high tolerance for that funky “vintage smell” – it is so fun and rewarding when you score! Most books average $26 retail and I got 13 for the same price. A good quality silk scarf will run you from $30-300 depending on the brand. So, being thrifty is both stylish and smart, sista! 

Thrift_scarves

We still have so much to explore in Dallas, but for our first jaunt around town- it was a total success!  We ended the day hydrating and snacking on the best chips & salsa on the planet at Rafa’s on Lovers Lane. Add it to your list when visiting! You can’t visit any city in Texas without indulging on their best Tex Mex.

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I would love to hear your favorite spots for thrift shopping!

Comment, share, tweet and let me know.

Love, Tiff

 

40 Easy Ways to Organize Your Closet from Pinterest

Sanctuary Of Style:

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Happy Saturday Sistas!

I save Pinterest browsing for Saturday mornings and love all these stylish ideas for organizing your closet. If you saw my video on closet organization, you remember that one of my first tips is to think of your closet as a mini boutique – regardless how small it is! 

Enjoy….

 

Originally posted on StyleCaster:

Whether you’re living in a extra-small studio apartment or a house with plenty of extra room, there’s one thing we all have in common: The need for a perfect closet, something most of our living spaces do not come equipped with.

MORE: The ONLY Closet-Organizing Trick You Need To Know

The lack of an organized closet might make you want to take matters into your own hands, and try to create your own system that’ll not only make storing your clothes and shoes practical, but also pleasing to the eye.

As hard as it is to believe, turning your dream closet into a reality can be easier than you think with the help of some inspiration and your local hardware store. You can even turn your closet into a living space by incorporating a small home office inside rather than just having your closet as a place to store your clothes. In fact, lots of well-known YouTube…

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