Reconstruction and restoration are the name of the game in the world of breast cancer. Reconstruction rebuilds what was physically taken away while restoration gradually occurs as your heart and mind mend, affirming everything really will be OK.
Restoration also breathes new life into vintage sheets and scraps of metal until they resemble the vehicles they were designed to be.
... And on rare occasion, you discover that the world of breast cancer and classic cars intertwine.
Today I found myself at the 30th Annual St. Ann's Seafood Fiesta and Big Fish Car Show in Decatur, AL. I found myself there because my husband organizes the car show portion, so it's kind of a must, even if I would have preferred to fold laundry while watching The Crown. But had I gotten caught up with Queen Elizabeth and my fitted sheets I wouldn't have met Michelle Baker, the proud owner of a 1971 Chevrolet C10 that's designed with a message.
I chatted with Michelle for awhile and learned she had always wanted an old work truck, but once she got one she decided it should do more than haul stuff. Having a functional truck was great, but having one with a sense of purpose was far better.
You see, breast cancer has taken several of Michelle's family members and she's experienced a few scares herself. She understands first-hand the importance of mammograms and early detection, and knows not everyone can afford them. That's why her truck proudly displays decals that honor women who've died from breast cancer, are fighting breast cancer, or need that gentle reminder to get a mammogram. One of the vinyl decals is for the website Joy to Life, an organization that helps cover mammogram costs for under-insured women.
For a small donation, she'll add your name, or that of a loved one, onto the side of her truck. All the money goes to one of a couple of organizations geared toward research and early detection. She said she hopes over time to see more names honoring women who are fighting than those who've died, a small indicator that we're winning the battle.
It amazes me how many people have been touched by breast cancer. And even more amazingly is how once you are, you're driven to do something about it. No longer can you sit in the comfort of your living room, shaking your head, thinking, "Oh, that poor soul. Hope she makes it." You find yourself asking, "What can I do to help that person make it?" I've felt so supported on this journey, and if you're on it, I hope you do too. I've discovered there are lots of Michelles in the world, they just don't all have a truck as eye-catching as hers.
I nabbed this pic from Michelle's FB page because I failed to get a wide shot. You'd think after years of shooting video where "wide, medium, tight" were drilled into my head I would have remembered to step back for a wide angle, but no. I'm more of a lost in the weeds type who overlooks the big picture. Oops!
Have you ever said something so stupid you wanted to smack yourself? Yet you refrained because you didn't want to intensify the deep shade of crimson that was already spreading across your face? No? It's just me? Then learn from me, grasshoppuh.
Several years ago (pre-Tamoxifen - so I can't blame that) I was with my folks and kids visiting a friend's personal observatory. He used his telescope to show us the many constellations visible in the clear night sky, impressing us with all of their names. Now, I took astronomy in college; I'm not entirely ignorant of God's heavenly creations. So, what did I ask this intelligent, amateur astronomer? "Who named the constellations? The Native Americans?" Never mind those Greek and Roman names of constellations. I don't know why that question shot out of my mouth. I must have been thinking of that well known American Indian constellation, "Numskulled Bear."
Now let's fast-forward to last Sunday when I attended my first ever walk for breast cancer awareness. It was the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation's 8th annual Lee Lott Power of Pink Walk.
I had the honor of introducing myself to the walk's namesake, Lee Lott, and picking her brain about how she became associated with the annual event. She was diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer a little less than a decade ago. I won't share her complete story here because I didn't tell her I planned to do so. That's all I need is for friends to view me as some 60 Minutes investigative reporter that blabs everything without their permission.
(FYI...I didn't get the memo to dress cute and in pink. Look how adorable Lee looks with her pink tutu and fun strands of beads. Instead I channeled my inner Johnny Cash that day. "Love is a burning thing...and it makes a fiery ring..." Go ahead and sing it, I can wait.)
Now that you're done singing you're thinking, "When is she going to get to the embarrassing part?" Well, here it goes. After visiting for several minutes with Lee and hearing her story, I told her how glad I was that I finally got to meet her. She politely smiled and said, "We've met before..."
After a slight hesitation, "Oh, yes!" I responded, "Just two weeks ago at the art thingy." I couldn't even think of the word exhibit. For that, I'll blame Tamoxifen. How could I have forgotten meeting someone so amazing and vivacious? Here's proof that I not only met her, but actually stood next to her for a group photo at that art thingy.
See? There I am to the far right on the front row. Aaaaand there's Lee Lott right next to me. Yeah, I could have smacked myself.
Lee, however, was so gracious. Hopefully we all are quick to extend grace to others. You never know what someone is battling, if they lack sleep, if they're medicated, perhaps need to be medicated, or simply their brain for whatever reason isn't firing on all cylinders. Despite the awkward faux pas it was a pretty wonderful day.
I got to meet up with other members of The Rack Pack. Again, they all got the wear- something- cute- like- a- fun- pink- fuzzy- boa- or- scarf memo. Interestingly, one of these gals (won't say who because again, I'm not Morley Safer) and I discovered we were both diagnosed with breast cancer last year on the same day, November 4th. Another precious person (I won't point her out because, again, I didn't obtain her consent) and I discovered we have a mutual friend from my hometown in KY who now lives in Nashville, TN. She's actually related to him and I feel as if I am, so that almost makes her and I related. Like third cousins. I plan on having Thanksgiving with her but she doesn't know it yet.
I enjoyed chatting with Darlene and her family during the 1-mile walk. Not sure if she planned on me talking her ear off, but when you're with me sometimes these things happen. Come to think of it, if I talked less I probably wouldn't say as many stupid things, but then I'd miss out on meeting people for the first time, again.
I'll leave you now with one final picture that includes my Johnny Cash-inspired look. Hope you have a blessed weekend and that you make time to spread some joy.
For the youngins who aren't familiar with "Ring of Fire" I hope you'll watch this video from Home Free and Enjoy! (I think they should be in all black - they didn't get the memo.)
Yesterday I shared a few thoughts on the importance of being part of a community. If you missed that post, you can read every disjointed word of it HERE. Well, today, I want to briefly share another example of community because this excites me so much! It pertains to what I received in the mail today.
This is our neighborhood lifestyle magazine that Yvonne Leffler edits and N2 Publishing prints and mails. N2P’s vision is to bring neighbors closer together through magazines that feature stories written by and about those living within recipe-sharing distance of one another. I promised Yvonne a couple of months ago that I’d submit a story for the October publication about the soon-to-be-released book Joy is Contagious…Cancer Isn’t and my breast cancer support group’s online auction. She said she’d welcome it, and finally it's here!!
I consider Yvonne a friend and enjoy every chance I get to chat with her. Her British accent captivates me. She could rattle off the atomic numbers and weights from the Periodic Table of Elements and I’d hang on to every word. Trust me, you would too because she’s so doggone delightful. (Once she sends me a snapshot of herself I'll add it to this post so you can see her sweet self!) [Edited 10/21/07 to include photo.]
Thank you, Yvonne, for allowing me to promote my book and The Rack Pack’s current fundraiser. And if you’re a neighbor reading this, please submit some stories, or else the magazine runs the risk of becoming The Tales of Kim Tisor and I know you don’t want that. Already in November's issue you'll read a sob story about my endearing dog, Carly, because Yvonne needed it.
Poor girl. She was really in need of some puppy pampering prior to me taking this picture that I submitted with the article, but there was no time. She's 16-years-old and smells like she looks but we all still love her immensely.
And I plan to write a short blurb about my daughter, Rachael, who was nominated by her 6th grade class to represent her grade on the local high school's homecoming court earlier this month. For the record, my children look nothing like me.
Being a contributor for the magazine as well as writing this little blog does my heart good. More than anything I hope this becomes another source of community for both you and me. Please, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. I like to "chat" even if you don't have a cool British accent.
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.