Christina’s Journey: Phase 8

“The Lord replies, ‘Write down the message I am showing you in a vision.  Write it clearly on the tablets you use.  Then a messenger can read it and run to announce it.'” Habukkak 2:2

It has been a while since I have written anything.  The reason of my absence is due to illness and I kind of lost my way.  I strongly believe as being a leader I must be transparent and true to myself, so I can become stronger after the trial is over.  It is very important to do the above task, because that is how you keep pushing when you feel like giving up.

I know you are wondering what my thoughts have to do with the Lord’s request of writing down your message from your vision.  Anything we put into the atmosphere will become our reality.  You must be careful because as the scripture states messengers will announce your information to others.  Being in remission has had a profound effect on me.  After having the Stem Cell Autologous Transplant my life felt real again.  All of sudden the joy of recovery came to a screeching halt.  I did not understand how I went from positive movement to negativity of a downward spiral.  I had a lung disease caused by excessive amount of chemotherapy and I was on steroids that altered me mentally and caused great physical pain.  My body was not following instructions and with all of these disorders I became isolated.  It took away my quality of life that I waited so long to gain again.  I truly lost all of my motivation and my determination to keep what is mine.

My epiphany moment did not occur until recently.  Our brain is a powerful machine.  Sometimes I would not get out of the bed either from being in so much pain or depression was settling in.  Being a Survivor is the hardest person to be when you were always fighting to stay alive.  It took a lot of changing my mindset.  I knew God never left me and He gave me the tools to be my own hero.  I began going back in my journal to see where my spark was so I can continue to fight the next chronic illness battle.  I will tell God, my family, and my friends that I wanted my life back and only 24 hours to be pain free and illness free.  When the Lord responded, it was in the scripture to write the vision and share the vision.  I shared my vision to myself to have motivation and determination again to live my “new” normal life without cancer.  The steps to a better life just began this week.  I had been silencing and blocking God’s vision because I was putting negativity into the atmosphere and getting no nourishment.

Overall, chronic illness is consuming all of your being.  I know first hand if it consumes you, you will become the reality of your thoughts.  As always, it still is a battle everyday to stay mentally strong and alive to have the best quality of life!

Always Surviving,

Christina

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2015 in review

Thank you for making 2015 epic! 2016 is going to be even better. Continue to follow, like, and comment. See you soon!

-Anchor 6~ Christina Sadler-Young and Kermilya Simmons

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christina’s Journey: Phase 7

When diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on November 15, 2013; exactly one month and three days after I had married my wonderful David, you would think that I would have been ANGRY at God, cancer, and my overall life but I was not.  I looked at cancer as a “gift.”  Something meant for others rather than for my own life lessons.  I knew God was utilizing me as a vessel to draw more closer to Him and get that relationship with Him that every devout Christian strongly urges.  I went through my treatments like being an Avenger character in the comics.  I never gave up, I kept persevering, and I knew that I was going to inspire others through my trial.  I never complained, I accepted willingly and without a drop of a tear falling from my eye.

I was taught by my role models; who are my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, that we push through barriers to survive, we do not complain we just provide the solution to the issue, and we take care of people who have paved the way for you and teach others to pay it forward to the next.  These are my principles in my life and they are a great foundation to build upon, but through my current experience this foundation can become a little unstable.  Utilizing my principles, I never saw cancer as a “villain” nor did it bring me anger at the time.  I was the bright sunshine face that I have always been and continue to be since God created me.  As mastering  “The 5 Levels of Leadership,” I had mastered other greats (created other leaders) because of how I was able to control situations, find a solution, and keep smiling to the next challenge.  I am here to tell you that those fundamentals that I used to move and politic in Corporate America has a downward spiral affect on a remission cancer survivor who is suffering with another chronic illness.

Now I am ANGRY at cancer.  Cancer has caused me to lose memory and I had to learn how to process information differently in order to feel “normal.” Cancer has caused me not to be able to breath at the same capacity because I have a paralyzed diaphragm, which has restricted my air flow.  Cancer has caused me to have chronic pain in certain parts of my body where some days I can not get out the bed or go downstairs in my home.  Cancer has caused me to feel guilt that I am still here and others are not.  I AM ANGRY! I am wanting and striving to be everyone’s hero and role model because that is how God made me to be, no changing that DNA but someone can be my hero and I will lower my walls of vulnerability to receive.  Being in remission is a blessing and a curse.

One thing I know and is very clear, God keeps His promises.  (Hebrews 6) I have asked God for guidance and signs so I know I am on the right path for His works and He has sent them to me clear as day.  My daddy told me and explained that I can ask God whatever I wanted especially now in my new venture.  Through my pain, happy/sad moments, doubt, comfort, and love I will FOREVER BLESS and THANK GOD for every trial and tribulation He continues to see me through.

I am becoming more transparent, because that is the true form of leadership and being honest with yourself brings you to a whole new level in life.  I hope my story continues to inspire and teach because that is my vision and purpose.  With much love CDS-YOUNG

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

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Christina’s Journey: Phase 6

“Out of your vulnerabilities will become your strength.” ~ Sigmund Freud

“At first glance it may appear too hard.  Look again.  Always look again.” ~ Unknown

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”     ~James 1:2-4

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I have truly missed my followers and communicating with you over the past few weeks.  In Phase 5, I spoke on FEAR and how it can take control of everything and in return you are in a big whirlwind of emotions and pain.  With the help and guidance from God, you can and will prevail.  Having the Autologous Stem Cell Transplant on March 9th was a piece of cake within itself, but I am currently going through the biggest battle ever.  As I always say, I have battled cancer but the war is still not over yet.

After the transplant I was in quarantine for 60 days (30 in hospital and 30 at home) and with this confinement it created even more anxiety for me and no self worth at the time.  My body had just gone through a major reset just like a reset on an electronic device.  I was at the beginning of a new life, which came with a 2nd birthday to celebrate (March 9th), and a brand new “internal” body.  The everyday person would believe that being in remission is a huge accomplishment, and it is do not get me wrong, but to a cancer victim/survivor it is the question of “where do I go from here?”

When I heard the magical and highly anticipated phrase, “you are cancer FREE and officially are in remission” on May 29th I honestly did not know how to feel or respond.  I had a lot of mix emotions.  My husband, David, was expressing to me my lack of enthusiasm.  I told David that I could not become enthusiastic and celebratory when something is amiss.  I was still battling an illness:  shortness of breath, back and chest pains, and my neck was swollen.  I can barely walk up and down the stairs of my home.  What happened to my “new” normal?  I do not have an ounce of my newness anywhere in my opinion, because I feel worse more than ever.

It upsets David, my family, and my Hematologist/Oncologist that going through my current situation with my lungs and whatever else is hidden in my body is 10x worse and I would rather deal with cancer.  No one really knows what I am going through post cancer.  Many who have not had cancer think that you should be bouncing back into your old routines and that everything is moving upward and forward.  I am here to tell you that I am still fighting everyday for my life and for my life to have true  quality.  I always have a smile on my face and an optimistic mindset because that keeps me some what sane.

Before, I never questioned God on why He gave me cancer and to be a vessel to reach more people and now I am suffering another chronic illness from the aftermath of cancer.  My daddy told me I can ask God for guidance and what way does He want me to go until I reach my ultimate goal of being healed.  God will only put the right amount of burdens on us that He knows we have the tools to overcome but my humanistic way becomes sparked and you become tired…… I AM VERY TIRED!

I have discovered over the past few weeks, in order to heal effectively I must center my focus around me which is hard.  I am the type of individual who wants to see others succeed and fix their situations, which some elements of being Mrs.Fixit comes from my “Survivor’s Guilt.” I go beyond the call of duty for others because it has been done for me over the past 2 years and I end up excluding myself and care from the equation.  I am not able to go and/or do because of my body is not capable to go the way my mind wants to.  I also refuse for anyone to stop their life on my account because I understand the true meaning of life, so enjoy every second of it.  I have accepted that I am not going to be able to share every life’s moments every time, but when God leaves a small crack of opportunity exposed  I will break it down to get a little taste of being “normal.”

I am being very transparent as usual, because I do not wear a #chronicillnesshere t-shirt on my chest everyday this does not mean I am not trying to reach the highest peaks in life; it will just take me some time to get there due to my illness.  Life is awesome and my goal everyday is to live it to the fullest!  Life is not over until I am lying in a casket or my ashes are being shared with the Earth.

I hope this encourages and brings more closure for someone out there who is  surviving, a fallen survivor, and a caregiver.  You are not alone, even though, you may feel like you are.  There is always someone experiencing the same lyrics of your song

Kermilya’s Journey – Finding Peace of Mind

When faced with a life changing and/or potentially life threatening diagnosis it is inevitable that one may experience sadness, anger, fear, denial, anxiety, worry, hopelessness, and helplessness. The combination of these emotions can quickly send one into depression. Each individual experiences these emotions differently, and subsequently handles it differently. Some of us bottle up our emotions and some immediately want to release. Some pray and use spirituality to cope. Some discover the power of prayer in their darkest hour. Having PCOS, there are many highs and lows due to the unpredictable symptoms. Some days I feel OK and other days I’m in pain and feeling out of sorts. Before I got my PCOS under control,  I found that I needed to release my emotions…holding it in was making me sicker both mentally and physically. Although I firmly believe in the power of  prayer, I felt it was important to seek some extra help… some outside counsel to cope. Seeking this help was not only for me, but for my family and friends too.

I went through a period of depression and denial during my journey. I was feeling so many different emotions. I was afraid I was going to develop other chronic illnesses due to PCOS. I was afraid I wasn’t going to ever have my own biological children. I felt alone because no one else understood my condition. I felt misunderstood  because from the outside I looked fine, but I was really terribly sick. I really felt like my body was betraying me. What was worse my doctor, as sweet as she is, only offered me a pill to manage my symptoms  but there was no guidance on how to achieve a better quality of life after my diagnosis. I was so overwhelmed by it all. My amazing husband, my mom, and a few close friends were the only ones that knew about my condition at this time. I would often vent to them to unload this weight  I was carrying. They would offer words of encouragement and offer their prayers. Although they meant well, I still felt emotionally crippled and I’m sure they felt overwhelmed by it all too. After awhile I decided I needed an outside source of counsel to help me cope and work out these emotions.

Going to therapy was one of the best decisions I had made for myself and for my relationships. I was blessed to have a counselor with the same faith base as me, so it was a perfect match. After seeing her  I was able to cope with my emotions more effectively. I began having more good days than bad. Moreover, I wasn’t dumping my “stuff” onto my friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, I know my family and friends love me and wanted to be there for me. However, it can also be a lot for family and friends to cope, especially if they know they can’t really help or fix the issue. I remember my husband telling me (during my bouts with depression) that it hurt him because he knew he couldn’t help me…he couldn’t fix it. When you think about it, it’s not really fair to our loved ones. Venting some is ok and healthy, but if most conversations seem to lead back to your condition it can become overwhelming. We’re all going through something…but  constantly pouring all of your feelings  onto your family and friends my leave them feeling helpless and emotionally drained.

I’ve always been an advocate of counseling/therapy. I know there is a lot of stigma connected to going to a therapist. Some see it as a sign of weakness, some believes it shows a lack of faith, some are afraid they’ll be perceived as “crazy”, and some feel it’s taboo to share their problems with an outside source. Those thoughts are absolutely FALSE. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to release any emotions that may be holding you back from living optimally after a diagnosis. Going to a therapist allows you to work out your feelings  in a healthy way, in a safe and confidential environment.

When seeking counseling there are l different options. My job has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) option. I had six free counseling sessions per year. Once I used all of my sessions, I used my insurance and paid the co-pay. In addition to EAP, you can talk to your spiritual leader, a faith based counselor, a family counselor, or go to group therapy. Joining support groups with individuals that have the same condition is also helpful. Some also find that listening to music, exercising, journaling, crafting, or enjoying a new hobby also helps.

We’re a whole body and it is so important to care for ourselves head to toe when faced with a diagnosis. If you’re feeling a sense of being overwhelmed, feeling isolated and alone please speak up and talk to someone. For optimal recovery and life after a diagnosis it’s imperative that you are caring for yourself in totality – mind, body, and soul.

Kermilya’s Journey: God Keeps His Promises

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September was such an incredible month for my family and I! On September 5th at 11:15pm our sweet baby girl Madeline “Maddie” was born! She weighed 6lb 11oz and was 20 ¾”! God is so good and He is faithful! Every day I thank Him for our little one. There are days I look into her eyes and cry tears of joy…as she’s our little miracle! We now know that her birth was always in God’s plan, she just came in His timing. It’s hard when you’re in the midst of a storm (in my case PCOS diagnosis and difficulty getting pregnant), to remember that God’s will and plan for our lives is better than our own. Sometimes the sole purpose of God allowing us to go through adversity is for us to learn something, for us to fully trust in Him, and so that our testimonies can help others. In fact, I spent many days thinking of the testimonies of others to keep my faith intact.There were many nights I would cry myself to sleep. On those nights I’d remember all of the people God put in my path to remind me of His power. There were several challenges I had to overcome before I got pregnant. I will share those details later.

The power of prayer is amazing! Once I surrendered my diagnosis to the Lord (December 2013), I prayed for my baby (January 2014). I didn’t just ask for a baby, I prayed a specific prayer. I asked God for natural conception, a healthy pregnancy, healthy weight gain, natural labor and delivery, successful nursing, and a plan for financial stability with our new addition. Everything I asked for has come into fruition, and I give God the glory! Don’t be afraid to ask God for what your heart desires! He’ll give you what you need when you need it. 

My husband and I are  just now settling into being new parents. I’m enjoying motherhood, it has been a blessing! I do things that some say “spoil” her, but I’ve waited a long time for her. I want to love on her and will do anything for her…she’s my heart! My husband adores her too! I love watching them together! She looks just like him too…I was clearly just the vessel! My world is alright with these two!

With our new addition arriving, I did not get a chance to post about PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) awareness month. PCOS awareness is acknowledged in September. It is very important to me to spread awareness and to be an advocate for myself and for other women. For more information about PCOS go to www.pcosaa.org and www.pcosnutrition.com.

Christina’s Journey: Phase 3

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The next phase will be based on a holistic approach versus linear. Dealing and having a chronic illness, your whole thought process has to change because you will become your disease.

After I had finished the last treatment, ICE, I began feeling like myself again.  Some time had lapsed and the cancer became even more stubborn. I had a new port placed in my chest for my new treatment plan. The port was very painful when the doctors put it in and I was awake during the whole procedure. I definitely do not want to go through that again. The new port will allow for the nurses to retrieve healthy bone marrow cells for my stem cell implant. When they would retrieve the bone marrow I was hooked to a machine similar to a dialysis machine for 4 hours. They pumped me with liters of fluids and I could not use the restroom because the machine was not like your normal IV machine. After collection my case worker would call me to let me know if I had to come back for more collection or if it was enough the first go round.  Of course, me being me, it was not enough cells and I would have to repeat this tedious journey again. I never let my true disappointment show on my face. I tried my best to remain positive not for me but for my family and friends. I would feel defeated from all angles.  My human thoughts tried to overpower my faith and sometimes it was always a tug-a-war between the two. It is very important that you have a strong faith foundation because the Devil comes in all forms and elements and he will try to weaken you until you become your disease versus being an ambassador of your disease.

Disappointment is the biggest failure in life and those were my thoughts and feelings during that time of my treatment. You begin to become more analytical about your whole life and health plan because things are not going as they were planned or explained.  I felt like I was on damage control too because my family and friends, especially my husband, were becoming more frustrated. It had been over a year since my fight began at that time and I knew there was something bigger arising, God.  Everyone will not embrace and/or see everything holistically. Some individuals take the linear approach, which can be crippling but our natural way of processing information. The moral of this phase in my process is that everything as a whole is linked together for some reason and everything will not be linear (a,b,c, and etc.). If that was the case life would be boring and there would be no true reason for our existence. Try to be a holistic thinker today instead of linear. There is a time and place for both but go beyond your comfort zone, that is the only way you will truly be healed. The sign of you being healed is when you can read and/or write back on your life and have no sadness or pain, but happiness because you made it!

Christina’s Journey: Phase 3

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The next phase will be based on a holistic approach versus linear. Dealing and having a chronic illness, your whole thought process has to change because you will become your disease.

After I had finished the last treatment, ICE, I began feeling like myself again.  Some time had lapsed and the cancer became even more stubborn. I had a new port placed in my chest for my new treatment plan. The port was very painful when the doctors put it in and I was awake during the whole procedure. I definitely do not want to go through that again. The new port will allow for the nurses to retrieve healthy bone marrow cells for my stem cell implant. When they would retrieve the bone marrow I was hooked to a machine similar to a dialysis machine for 4 hours. They pumped me with liters of fluids and I could not use the restroom because the machine was not like your normal IV machine. After collection my case worker would call me to let me know if I had to come back for more collection or if it was enough the first go round.  Of course, me being me, it was not enough cells and I would have to repeat this tedious journey again. I never let my true disappointment show on my face. I tried my best to remain positive not for me but for my family and friends. I would feel defeated from all angles.  My human thoughts tried to overpower my faith and sometimes it was always a tug-a-war between the two. It is very important that you have a strong faith foundation because the Devil comes in all forms and elements and he will try to weaken you until you become your disease versus being an ambassador of your disease.

Disappointment is the biggest failure in life and those were my thoughts and feelings during that time of my treatment. You begin to become more analytical about your whole life and health plan because things are not going as they were planned or explained.  I felt like I was on damage control too because my family and friends, especially my husband, were becoming more frustrated. It had been over a year since my fight began at that time and I knew there was something bigger arising, God.  Everyone will not embrace and/or see everything holistically. Some individuals take the linear approach, which can be crippling but our natural way of processing information. The moral of this phase in my process is that everything as a whole is linked together for some reason and everything will not be linear (a,b,c, and etc.). If that was the case life would be boring and there would be no true reason for our existence. Try to be a holistic thinker today instead of linear. There is a time and place for both but go beyond your comfort zone, that is the only way you will truly be healed. The sign of you being healed is when you can read and/or write back on your life and have no sadness or pain, but happiness because you made it!

Christina’s Journey: Phase 2

During this point in my treatment I was getting the roadmap to recovery laid for my family and me. One of the first statements made from the nurse was, “this will not be an easy road, but continue to remain positive and you will be just fine.” I kept those words close to me as well as God’s Promiseso I would not lose faith and fall into a depression.

The plan was to have six rounds of chemotherapy, which began on December 31, 2014; from that point on I had chemotherapy every two weeks.  On May 29, 2014, I was able to “ring the bell” and sign my name and experience at the hospital for patients to reference.  I was declared cancer free on June 17, 2014 and I returned to my career on June 23, 2014 with restrictions on hours which was hard to abide by.  Anyone who knows me knows I am a workaholic and a perfectionist. Going back to work during that period made me feel as if I had a tangible purpose. At that time I had 40 employees who needed me for guidance and development and I was still striving for career advancement as well, but God had other plans for me.  In August of 2014, I began to have symptoms of what I had previously had before being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  A year ago around this same time the cancer relapsed and I had a reoccurrence.  Only 20% of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients relapse after the traditional treatment of ABVD and of course I snuggled quite nicely into that statistic.  Let’s keep this into perspective; being a young trailblazer and visionary it was harder to take the news the second time around.  I had thought my life was over, but not think holistically at the picture that God had something more spectacular and that He knew I could handle the job well.

My Oncologist wanted a second opinion who specialized in the particular blood cancer that I had and I really appreciated him for not allowing his pride as a physician to get in the way for my treatment plan.  When I met my new “team” of health professionals I knew then that I was not going to die and I was placed on a well structured plan to prevent complications.  I am now the “guinea pig.” I had two rounds of a treatment, ICE, that literally kicked my butt and I lost my hair so quickly versus the first go round. The second stage to the new treatment plan was to check fertility and get me approved to have an autologous stem cell implant.  The hardest to deal with is the possibility of not being able to carry my own children naturally due to all of the chemotherapy, but that will be discussed in the next phase of the process.

I want to continue with Kermilya and my story of chronic illness, because I know there are people out there looking for directions, answers, resources, and etc.  We are both here for all of you so please respond and like our blog. This project means the world to us and more is coming.  Thank you!!!!