MEET CHRISTINE HANDY: Author of “Walk Beside Me” — Giveaway

 

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What prompted you to share your story in book form?  I felt like by sharing my story I could promote friendship in a world full of woman tearing each other down. I felt that showing truth about how fulfilling female relationships could be could transform womans lives. I felt a nudge to show the awe inspiring glory of Gods earthly angels and the power they can have in our lives to uphold us when we have no pavement below our feet. If I could help one life then the power of the written word was worth it. To encourage even one person to stand up to a doctors misdiagnosis, a doctors arrogance and bullying then my book would be worth it.

How has the writing experience helped you grow and heal even more?  The writing experience has helped me grow emotionally and spiritually. God gave me the book I always wanted to write. Writing a book had always been my life’s dream.  It may not have been the story I dreamt of writing, but it was Gods story and I had to be faithful. The writing process was also healing to a mountain of open wounds I had from the doctors that bullied me to the daunting chemo that I had to endure. My story is a powerful tale and writing it after I lived it helped me see it in a different light. A light that gave me hope and showed me my own bravery.

What’s the core message you want readers to be inspired by from your story? My core message in Walk Beside Me is about friendship. the true power of friends. Not friends who stand by you for a few days but friends who never forsake you and stand by you season after season. Its a story of friends that sustain and carry you when you cant carry yourself. It’s a story about woman never giving up on one and sacrificing so much of their own lives for that one person without any need for thanks. The only thanks these woman wanted was to glorify God.

If you could pick just one line from the book– what would it be and why? My favorite line in my book is this. “ your being, your love, your gratitude – that’ s your music. It takes place inside of you, and you are the machine that can play. There’s no other instrument like you, nowhere in the world. That’s what makes you unique.”

What’s next for you? What are you working on now?  I am working on the sequel to Walk Beside Me right now. I am about half way through and it’s so exciting. The story is very different than the first, its the after illness life. Its very dramatic and full of life so to speak, a real page turner. I am speaking Nationally on my book and on empowering woman and other topics such as bullying and how to be unstoppable. I am also doing a book tour this fall. Its all very positive and life giving. Its been very rewarding to be out in the world living after being sick and in bed for so long. I feel lucky and I feel ALIVE.

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Instagram @chandy71
twitter  @willow_mia
I love when readers email me questions and give me feedback!
~Christine
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 Women uniting to lift one another up is part of the core mission of SOS and I’m so proud of Christine and how she’s turned tremendous pain into a powerful purpose! Every woman needs to read this story. Excited to be giving away an autographed copy or you can purchase her book HERE on amazon.
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GIVEAWAY DETAILS: 
  1. Follow Christine on Twitter @willow_mia OR Instagram @chandy71 (whichever account you are on)
  2. Post this comment toher twitter or Instagram account “Thank you for sharing your story” 

GIVEAWAYS RUNS Aug 22th – 28th, 2016

WINNER ANNOUNCED Sunday 28th.

It’s been a blast spotlighting these powerful women and their missions this month! Another special thanks to Melissa Rountree of Level 3 Active, Holly Dear & Kaycee Clark of Dear Clark, Stephani Faurot-Reuter of Heroes Beauty and Christine Handy. 
Love & Lipstick,
Tiff

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BREASTLESSNESS: Part 2 by Guest Blogger Christine Handy

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Christine Today.

OCTOBER 1

The call came in around 8:45 am. The diagnosis was stage 2 level 3 breast cancer, triple receptor positive. It was a Monday morning and I was home alone. I knew right when I picked up the phone that it was the doctor himself, no nurse to tell me everything was fine. As I was listening to the doctor, I sat down in my bedroom with the phone at my ear- trembling. I then asked one question, “was I going to die”?  I have no idea what the doctor said after that, other than he never answered the question. The rest of the day was a blur.

Things happened pretty quickly the days that followed and then weeks. I had a lumpectomy 6 days later in Phoenix, Arizona and shortly thereafter my parents, my husband and I flew back to Dallas to begin the immediate search for an oncologist. I begged every doctor I met not to have chemotherapy, but by doing so I raised my chances of survival. Finding an oncologist that I trusted was not easy. The trauma and disbelief over my arm overwhelmed me. I wasn’t sure I would ever find a responsible and honorable doctor again.
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 My older son was away at boarding school when I was diagnosed with cancer. He was 14 years old. I could not fly to tell him in person about my diagnosis. My husband would tell him the following weekend which happened to be his schools parent weekend. I did call him right before going into surgery to tell him I could not be there. This would be the second parent weekend I had to miss. The spring before, I was having the PICC line placed in my chest and arm to kill the infection that was destroying my wrist. Now this. I called him after we landed in Arizona and I had to tell him something before I went into surgery. I tried to calmly tell him I would not be at his parent weekend, but that his dad would be there. He didn’t even ask why. There was silence. I told my son that I wanted desperately to be there. And as my tears were streaming down my face, I told him that I had to have another surgery. He said, ” what’s new mom?” ” You always have to have surgery”. He was referencing my arm. I told him that I couldn’t talk about it, but that daddy would tell him when he got there . I’ll never forget what he said next. He said in a defensive and yet brave tone “Mom, it’s fine. At least you don’t have cancer.” It stopped me dead in my tracks. You see, in his 14 year mind I can only surmise that he felt that his mom was letting him down with her arm problems, but that she was going to be ok. Now that it was cancer, he would have to go through the agony of not knowing if I was going to be ok. I wanted to hold my son and reassure him, but I couldn’t. I wanted to scream and yell and run and hide. Forget the lumpectomy, I’ll just end my life and my sons won’t have to suffer through any more of my health problems. I was their mother and I wanted to protect – not cause pain. I wanted to love not put fear in their tender souls. I wanted to be a mom, not a woman needing constant care and help from others.
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My younger son was not in boarding school.  We told him the night I was diagnosed. He was 11 years old. He too had been suffering because of my arm. The previous year he never knew who was driving him home from school. Between my arm surgeries and physical rehab appointments and then the discovery of the infection, the ramifications that bled through our family were exponential . There was never dinner on the table, I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t drive, I was in bed constantly recouping and coping with pain. My presence as their mom was sporadic and limited. My son would call me after school and ask, ” Mom who’s picking me up today? ”  A couple of times I had forgotten to have someone there to get him.  I was failing as a mother, the only job I ever really wanted to have. The fear I felt was hideous to me, but the thought of what my children were feeling was paralyzing.

My oncologist was witty and informal which was a relief seeing as though we were there for such a serious reason. I walked in with my husband and the doctor immediately looked over at my casted arm and said in a lighthearted way, “what’s going on over there?” We were off to a good start. He asked me why I had my lumpectomy in Arizona. He said he would have preferred to have done chemo first to shrink the tumor and then surgery. The doctors in Arizona had said the same, but all of the doctors pointed out that the bone grafts on my arm would be destroyed by chemotherapy. Therefore, the decision was made to do the lumpectomy first and buy us some time to allow the grafts to graft.

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The lumpectomy would be the first time of many that I had no use of either arm. I was unable to move my right arm from the fusion. It was casted from my fingers to almost my arm pit. The bone grafts on my arm had to stay exactly where they were placed in order to be properly fused. Cancer was on my left breast. After the lumpectomy I had limited movement on my left arm. I couldn’t open a door, bathe, get dressed or feed myself . Putting in my contacts was daunting. I had lymph nodes removed from my arm pit as well so lifting my arm up was not possible. I couldn’t hold a glass to drink. My mom had to hold a straw up to my mouth. Sleeping was almost impossible . I remember laying in my bed at night on my back feeling petrified, exhausted, in pain and confused while desperately wanting to curl up into a fetal position to give myself comfort. The “I couldn’t do’s ” replaced the ” I could do’s”. I couldn’t even wash the hair I was about to lose to chemo. I had gone from being a 41 year old thriving wife and mother with an incredible passion and talent for yoga and other sports to a woman with a fused dominant arm and breast cancer. I had not had a day without pain in almost 3 years. I was the healthiest unhealthy woman I knew.

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From October 2012 to March 2013, I had 16 rounds of chemotherapy. I lost all my hair including facial hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. I am 5 feet 9 inches and my weight at the sickest part of my chemotherapy dropped to 98 pounds. In April 2013, I had a mastectomy and then in June that year my first reconstructive surgery. Just 2 months later I had another arm surgery where the metal and screws were removed from my wrist/ forearm . This part of my arm was now totally fused and the hardware was causing my frail arm a lot of additional pain. During these surgeries from April 2013 through December 2013, I continued to have treatments for breast cancer. Starting in April, one week after my mastectomy, I began 12 rounds of a drug called Herceptin that was administered every 3 weeks . I was scheduling chemotherapies around surgeries ! I couldn’t fully wrap my brain around the magnitude of what was going on. I was showing up physically to the surgeries, the appointments, the chemotherapies but emotionally I was dying inside. The days when I wanted to quit were too many. I felt desperate to live to raise my children, but the suffering was endless. My last arm surgery was in August 2013 which brought the grand total to 6. My last breast surgery was in January 2014 and I am not finished with the reconstruction. In total, 12 surgeries in 2 1/2 years and 28 chemotherapies.

My husband had his job and now he had to take over my role as mother, caretaker, carpooler, cook etc. It’s hard to describe the pressure it put on our whole family unit. We were all trying to stay afloat, but there were days where I wondered if people and households could just explode. The tension and pressure was so high. We were trying to function in this new environment and every single day was horribly hard. And as we at home were coping, my son at boarding school was suffering in ways we will never know. I often think about the ghosts of who I used to be and I loved that girl, I’m different now.

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My parents were my rocks, my sons out of fear pushed me away, my husband was busy and my friends saved my life.
To be continued………….

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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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. 

 

THE FIRST WEEK OF SPRING= FABULOUS!

Hey Sistas! 

You know those week’s we have periodically that are just perfect…like a dream, full of fun and magical moments. I just experienced a week like that!  Today, I am reveling in the blessings and had to share it with all of you. If you are on Instagram, this may be a repeat for ya, sorry. The lesson I relearned from this week was the power in reaching out and doing for others during your own difficult time. The week prior, we had a very challenging time with some business situations and I needed to get out of my head and stop focusing on my present circumstances. It did the trick…

Let’s start with last Saturday: I have mentioned meeting a remarkable young woman named Jessica Youngblood who has a ministry called Just Fabulous Events which helps build confidence in teen girls. She is a recovered meth addict who has transformed her life through God’s love and healing power. Her mission is in alignment with mine and I truly believe in Divine connections which empowers us to do more together than we can all alone. Jess asked me to be part of the event as emcee and stylist of the fashion show. I was honored and so blessed by the entire experience. There is nothing better than seeing a big group of adorable girls giggling and having fun! But, my favorite part of the night is toward the end when the girls are given a quiet moment to reflect on  what they need to give over to God to heal. It could be any broken part of their life. They write it on a rock and go lay in down at the foot of the cross. It was so beautiful to see all the girls go up to the front and release their pain. SO Powerful! I wish we had an event like this when I was a hurting teenager!!  Click to see more pics and “like” her Facebook page. 

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Then on Monday: My bestie Heidi wanted to give our girlfriend Christine- who is recovering from a year of chemo and a mastectomy- a special birthday gift.  One can only imagine how devastating that experience can be on a woman’s self-esteem so what better to help her feel glam again? A professional photoshoot with hair & makeup and starting the day with a blowout at Drybar! Heidi asked me to be part of the special day and help her get Christine ready with a great outfit and beautiful makeup. Christine said it was the most beautiful she has felt in 2 years. Mission accomplished. WOWZER! How gorgeous does she look… 

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Jump to Tuesday & Wednesday: I can’t remember the last time both my sister and I have been home at the same time. It’s been years! She flew in to Houston for a brief visit so I jetted down there for some QT with the fam. Our favorite thing to do with our Mom is load up on energy with some TexMex then spend hours digging through thrift stores. As soon as we enter the store, we separate. The hunt begins! We will holler across the store to one another with a find- as if we struck oil. We try things on and begin the fashion show giving each other a thumbs up or down. This would make a hilarious reality show! Our family has been through a lot of healing over the years and has had it’s share of tough times, like most families, so I cherish these precious moments more than ever. 

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Hydrating with a Cherry Limeade

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My goal of scoring something in a bold floral print- ACCOMPLISHED! This blouse covers several Spring trends- Pleats, Sheer, Puffy Sleeves & Bold Floral Print.

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The remainder of the week was filled successful work stuff, auditions, one of the best girl’s nights ever-  plus, seeing my coaching client really step it up and rock her session with me. I’m like a proud mama! This first week of Spring will go down in the HERstory books for me. 

Here’s a quick hair tip (this blog post is all over the place), but for you ladies who are wanting a longer ponytail- this is the best hair trick I’ve ever come up with. I only wish I had figured it out years ago! Thursday was swamped and I didn’t have enough time to wash and blowdry my hair for girl’s night. I thought a high ponytail would be quick & ez, but my pony looked wimpy and short. BINGO- I added a second ponytail underneath and voila- problem solved. I felt like “I Dream of Genie”. So fun and will be my go-to summer style! 

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WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR FIRST WEEK OF SPRING?

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Love, Tiff

 

 

WALKING BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT: Celebrating Christine

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Hey Sweet Sistas!

How do I graciously begin a post about a topic like Breast Cancer? There’s really no gracious way to go about it except to say cancer sucks and when it hits the body parts that makes women feel feminine and sultry…well, it’s like one bad nightmare. On top of potentially losing your breasts, add losing your crowning glory? WHAT?

We all know or indirectly know a woman who has fought this battle and lived this nightmare. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I invite you in joining me in celebrating a courageous woman who is my SHEro, Christine Handy. Now, SHE is the epitome of GRACE. Throughout her battle this past year, she has worn a smile (even through tears) and refused to become a victim, but a VICTOR! Yes, she has battle wounds, but remains a warrior. She has awaken from the nightmare and is living life! Did she want to give up? I’m sure she did, but she showed up every day- for herself, for her family, for her friends and kept putting one foot in front of the other walking by Faith. Here’s a glimpse into her battle: 

October 1, 2013, marked the one year anniversary of my BC diagnosis. (it’s a yucky story but here goes) I was home, unfortunately alone, about 8:30 AM…..I saw my cell phone ringing, picked it up and there was a very soft, but firm voice on the other line. My doctor told me quickly that I had Stage 2 Malignant Breast Cancer. He was unsure yet if my lymph nodes were involved and that I also had the most aggressive type, Level 3.

All I could remember after that was sitting down gingerly on my chair in my bedroom….tears started flowing. I didn’t want to embarrass myself over the phone with the doctor so I think I just sat quietly and listened.  I hid my tears…..

And then I remember asking one question….”Am I going to die?”

I will never forget the doctor’s answer…..

He said , “I would like to meet with you and your husband to discuss”. That was it………that’s all he said. That is almost all I remember from that entire day. I do know we told our son Noah that night because I couldn’t stop crying. We tried to wait, but it was impossible for me to hide my fear, sadness and utter despair. Noah needed to know. Luke was at boarding school and so we kept it from him until Peter could fly up there and tell him in person. I went straight to Arizona for my lumpectomy with my parents.  My parents flew me home and Peter flew up to Luke’s ‘Parent Weekend’ that I obviously would have to miss. Peter told him then.

 That said, we are replacing that horrible memory with a new memory and a beautiful day. OUT with the OLD in with the NEW.

I spent the entire day of October 1st, 2013, out of my house with friends and family who love me and they made it a FABULOUS day.  Now, we just have to go through the motions to the finish line….. MY SURGERY. I have delayed my reconstructive surgery indefinitely as it is too much on my body. I need to rebuild. I will get through the holidays after the final CHEMO which is now DECEMBER 3rd and decide then. I have had ENOUGH.

I have amazing friends, a loving family, parents that care so much, kids that love me and I am CANCER FREE!

WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT.

XO, Christine 

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