Thursday, October 1

Derailed ... While the journey is long and the tracks are currently twisting and turning, I still sing along; “I've been working on the railroad, All the live long day, I've been working on the railroad, Just to pass the time away, Can't you hear the whistle blowing, Rise up so early in the morn, Can't you hear the whistle blowing...” Oh yes, the whistle was blowing loud and clear and I just couldn’t hear it.

Since July our train has thrown me all over the tracks and not once did I hear the warning. That brings me to my favorite quote, “Make time for the quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud.”

Yes, it has taken me almost three months to pick myself up, dust myself off, and place my happy hips back on the train. I didn’t intentionally leave the train. I feel like I was truly thrown off the train. I’ve got the mental bruises to prove it. Now, who would throw me off the train? After all, it’s my journey and I thought that I had final say-so of who was onboard and where we were going.

That being said, we need to remember that it’s truly God’s Journey and we must be faithful and ready for the ride; no matter where it takes us. Fortunately God prepares the itinerary. For some reason I thought I created the itinerary, list of passengers and designated stops. Oh I was so wrong. God needed to slow this train down so that I could “hear” who was in charge. Trust me, it’s not me.

How grateful I am that a higher power truly has control over this train ride. I know I was thrown off the train for a reason. If for no other reason than for God to scoop my damaged body off the tracks and cradle me in his loving arms. He safely placed me back in my seat and we had a nice talk. I pray that I will continue to remember, in good times and bad that God has a plan for me and I need to sit back and enjoy the ride. I also know that I need to remain at peace with this journey. No matter how loud this train can get - yup, I’ve got some loud friends. I hate to say that I am probably the loudest. I love to have a good time. I also learned that I am a control freak, always have been.

As Dido sang, “I want to thank you, for giving me the best day of my life and Lord, just to be with you, is giving me the best day of my life”.

So, for all of those that jumped off the train and tried to help me back on I thank you. For those of you that viewed from a distance and prayed, I thank you as well. And mostly, I thank God for giving me another chance on HIS journey.

Saturday, June 13

No Crying Over Spilled Milk … Without fail it seems like it happens at every dinner meal. Yes, one of my two girls is going to knock over her glass. Each and every time they have a terrified look on their face. And, each and every time I say the same thing. “Get a towel and clean it up”. You would think by now that they would have realized that I don’t even care. It’s a simple concept: Clean it up, Get a new glass and Pour something in it.

What I don’t understand is the horror that is displayed on their faces after it happens. They both go straight into “the deer caught in the head lights” mode. Meanwhile the liquid is now underneath everyone’s plates and trickling onto the floor.

Then we get the sad, watery eyes. The youngest never knows when to cry. Trust me this is not the time for crying. Oh dear, do I have to teach them another lesson today? Okay, if I must. There is no need to cry over spilled milk. It’s not going back into the glass. It happened in the past and we know the results; the milk is all over my table and floor. Just clean up your mess and move on.

I really think that the girls are more amazed that I don’t throw a fit over the accident. At this point I don’t think it’s an accident. It’s almost as if they aim for the glass to watch for my reaction. My oldest is almost 16 and her sister is chopping chomping at the bit to be 9 years old. I really thought it was something that only my oldest went through. But, “without fail” her little sister is following in her footsteps. For fifteen years, I’ve never blinked an eye over spilled milk. Nope, not giving into that;. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Isn’t it funny how the little things throw us? A cup of milk or juice knocked over should not rock our world. In the time we could yell and scold them, it could be wiped up. At least that’s how I see it.

Cancer is the same way. It’s there, it’s already happened and I can’t sit and cry over the spilled milk of cancer. It is what it is. I simply continue to wipe up the mess that it leaves behind emotionally and physically. Instead I pour myself a “new day”. We all know the concept of the question: Is the glass half full or half empty? The pessimist sees it as half empty. The optimist sees it as half full. It's all in the attitude towards life.

People’s reaction to me being diagnosed with cancer is the same as spilled milk. They, without fail have the “deer caught in the head lights” look when they approach me.

Here’s a list of things that I am usually approached with: “How are you feeling?” "I love your new short hair cut ,” and, the best one yet, “What if this treatment doesn’t work?”

I want you all to remember my cup was FULL when I started!!!! I’m not knocking it over, nor will I let anyone else knock it over.

Yes, I am the women woman at every event that moves folks’ glasses so they don’t knock them over. I am too blessed to be frazzled by this mess, nor will I cry over spilled milk or cancer.

Thursday, April 30

Lights, Camera, Action ... Have they actually rolled out the red carpet for me? I see the lights and let me tell you, they are bright. I could hardly see as I approached. I have to squint, but I can see a lot of people. I am wondering if people truly know that I am the chemo patient that enjoys blogging. There are several police cars blocking the street. Oh, is this my moment? I have a police escort and I never imagined myself in this position. Just a few hours ago, I was in my living room staring out the window into the pitch black evening, thinking of nothing in particular.

The street is blocked and no one can enter the area. How many times will I sign my name tonight? I’ve been handed a pen and I am ready. Should I sign “Judie”, or “Judie Berry-Nix”, or “Judith McDaniel Berry-Nix”? What would Elizabeth Taylor do in this situation? She’s had a million last names. I know she’d know how to sign her name. She would also know what to do with all the bright lights. As for me, I’m squinting as if I have a bad case of gas. This is all new to me; I’ve never been in this type of a situation.

I had to get dressed in a hurry. I know I could have picked a better outfit. But this is my moment and I don’t want it to be lost trying to find the perfect outfit. From head to toe, I’m dressed in black. This time, not a sexy black, but a black that says, “I’ve never done this before!”

The police officers have made their way to the front with their patrol car. I have a better view now. Yes, I can see the criminals. Those are the four boys that I just saw trying to break into my husband’s truck. They never saw me. There I was in the window, in the pure dark and dressed in all black. They walked right in front of me and never saw me. They then began trying to open the truck. It was locked.

I dropped to the floor. I must say that hardwoods are tough on a girl’s knees. I crawled into the kitchen to call the police. Yes, I was scared. I’ve never been that close to a criminal. I whispered to the officers everything that was happening. It was not a moment from Law and Order, but I must say it was close. They kept me on the phone and told me to keep the lights off. They were sending a police officer over to my house. My job was to describe everything that was happening and where the little thugs were going. The officer on the phone finally informed me that they had captured the thugs and they were sending a car for me.

It’s all how you say things huh? Sending a car for me? I take that as, “Hollywood here I come!” I’ve always had the ability to take a bad situation and see the good in it. And once I saw the bright lights, well let’s just say this was my moment. The thugs were not going to steal that from me.

The police car arrives and the officer opens the back door for me. He motions for me to enter into the car. Oh no you don’t! I’m not the criminal here. I will not be riding in the back seat. Plus, suppose a neighbor sees me being carted off in the back of a police car?! “No sir, you’ll need to clean off the front seat and I’ll be sitting right next to you.”

I had to look into each car and identify the boys. I was able to make a positive identification. The bright lights were a little overwhelming. I still don’t know why the street was blocked, as they had captured the criminals.

I see this as a prelude to how life could be. Lights, Cameras, Action. I did all this in “one take”. Yes, this chemo patient is ready for her close-up.

I’ve learned that people don’t care what you are going through. Life goes on. Criminals are still going to break into your car, gas prices are still rising, and the world is still not at peace. What made me think that just because I was going through chemo that the world would stand still for a few moments so that I could catch my breath. Nope, instead I caught a few thugs.

That being said, I take each moment and make the best of it. Some see bright patrol lights, others choose to see their moment in the spotlight.

Monday, April 27

I Feel Good ... As a three-time breast cancer survivor, I must say that last week was my hardest ever. I couldn’t have made it through without you, your prayers and faith. Your virtual hugs are awesome. Let me say this … I FEEL GOOD. Please be sure to listen to Yours Truly and James Brown belt it out.

Still Skipping and Giggling!!!

I hope you're getting ready for May's blog. I promise it's a giggler!

Wednesday, April 1

Just Skipping Along … Do you remember Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz? On her journey she meets three characters: Scarecrow, searching for a brain, the Tin Man with no heart, and a Cowardly Lion in search of courage. The three decide to accompany Dorothy to the Wizard in hopes of obtaining their desires.

The journey with chemo is not much different. I remember when I was first diagnosed with cancer. I was told early on that my treatment plan would include chemotherapy and radiation. Oh, I was terrified.

I had seen all the movies that showed patients sprawled out on the bathroom floor; sick as a dog. Hair loss, loss of appetite and weight loss. Oh, I was ready. I knew just what to expect, based on television … the worst.

So there I am after my first treatment, praying that I wouldn’t be too sick, but smart enough to know to set up the bathroom with extra blankets, pillows and the softest towels. I knew that I was going to be camping out in the bathroom.

Why do we always expect the worst? What if we went into every challenge that life throws us with the expectation that we will make it through? No complaining, no fear, just the assurance that we have within us what it takes to make it through the toughest situations?

Remember, the Cowardly Lion wasn’t a coward at all. He was strong and courageous. The Tin Man with no heart was the most kind and sympathetic person you could meet. The Scarecrow, in search of a brain actually had some good ideas.

So, after a few treatments I decided to get up off the floor and get on with my life. I had to stop assuming that I didn’t have what it would take to survive chemo. I decided that for me chemo was mind over matter. I didn’t need to be scared. Chemo was not going to tear me down. I was convinced that only the strong survive and in my heart I knew this was the approach I would take from this moment on. Yes, my brain was working. I had a thought process that made sense to me.

So there I was skipping along the yellow brick road, just wanting to get back to where I was before I heard those dreadful words, “Mrs. Nix, you have cancer!”

With my ruby red slippers and a view of the rainbow, I know that I made the right choices for me. Unlike the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion I knew what I was made of. Sometimes the thing that you’re searching for, you already have.

Just imagine if we knew that there’s a pair of Prada shoes waiting on us. Wouldn’t we get on up and get busy? Well of course we would. Tell a woman that shoes are involved and we can move mountains. And, it truly doesn’t matter if they are from The Shoe Warehouse or Rodeo Drive. The same applies to chemo. We can move mountains once we believe in our inner strength. Besides, once you begin chemo, there’s some really cool shopping involved. You’ll need wigs (and I must say more than one), new clothes (yes, you’ll lose some weight -- mostly from worrying) and of course shoes for skipping down your yellow brick road.

Remember, the yellow brick road is already paved with all that you need to get through the toughest journeys.

Wednesday, March 4

Overboard...I’m not much of a swimmer. I can do the basics. Throw me in 6’ of water and I can survive. However, throw me in 40’ of cold water and you’ll have a totally different woman on your hands. That being said, I am probably the last person that should own a boat, but I do.

The perfect day on the lake for me would be a well-planned, fun day with the ladies and plenty of food. I would search high and low for a peaceful, quite cove. I would have personalized martini glasses for each special lady and a delicious picnic lunch. You know that I would have a theme and everything would be color-coordinated. Wow, there’s a thought. Ladies Day on the boat. Note to self - Plan Ladies Day!

I remember the last boat ride. It wasn’t that long ago. I always know just the right women to invite. I take great pride in my selection of friends. They must enjoy giggling. Even at my age, I admire women that know the difference between a good laugh and a silly giggle.

Life is that way. One minute you’re on the boat just enjoying life, giggling and having a good time. The next thing you know, you’re treading water. Not just any water, but 40’ of cold, mind-numbing water.

I remember looking back at the boat. Based on the fact that I’m treading water, I know that I’ve jumped. The boat appears to be moving ever-so-slowly away from me. I can still hear giggles. Have they not caught on that I’m in trouble? That being said, when do your friends know that you’ve jumped ship? I don’t mean truly jumped off the bow. But, mentally jumped. Not the, “lets take off our bikini tops and jump in” but the “I’m mentally done for today jump!” Oh come on, we’ve all done it. Some of us in “deeper” water than others.

Interestingly enough, when I jump, a few always jump with me. No! When I jump you stay put. I need to know that someone is still steering the boat. We can’t all jump at the same time. How silly do we all look treading water together? I look back and see my favorite sister-girlfriend still on deck; just as I would expect her to be. She calmly yells for us to return. She circles the boat around us and throws us a life jacket.

Yes, she gets it. We all have that special sister or girlfriend that no matter how rough the water is, she is just not coming in with us. She is the calm one. To her I say, “Thank you.” For yes, there are days as a breast cancer survivor that I am scared to death. There are days that I accidentally research way too much information. And yes, there are days that with all the tears, I’ve lost sight of my anchored boat.

I remember a quote from awhile back. “I’m not committing to swim until I hit water.” I have no intention of jumping this boat. I look to the cove and see peace and tranquility. I look to my right and see my sister, my best friend. I also believe that if you can swim in 6’ of water, you can swim in 40’. You gotta believe in the power of the breast stroke.

Thursday, January 29

Huggable Trouble...I really didn’t plan on hugging her. It just kinda happened. For the most part, I never thought that

I would see her again. There she was in all her glory. She seemed nice enough. It was one of those awkward moments where you don’t know what to do. So what did I do? I hugged her. Not a hug that says, “Let’s be friends.” But, a hug that says, “I know what you’re going through.” Yikes, I don’t think I was supposed to give off that vibe. She did seem somewhat surprised when I embraced her. But once again, I didn’t know what else to do. I am one of those people that believe that someone should always be talking. I don’t like long moments of silence. So, I tend to yack on and on about nothing at times. And since I didn’t have anything to say, I thought … Oh just grab her and hug her.

I think he was as surprised as she was. I know he didn’t see it coming. Who would have? He was tall, distinguished and wore a wide brim, taupe colored hat. He was the type of man that you noticed as soon as he walked through the door. So, I must admit that he was a good choice.

I saw him immediately, and I know that he saw me. Not a look where our eyes locked and the theme from The Sound of Music played in the background, but a distant look. Was he about to pretend that he didn’t remember me? Or was he praying that I would just go away? No, I’m not one of those women that will be ignored. Does he not remember Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction?

I had only seen them together one other time. Does she not know who I am? Okay, sadly I must admit that I knew he was married. There was no doubt in my mind. They talked about their children. I am also married with children. From what I can remember, the children were older. They were reminiscing about the children growing up and she mentioned his mother for some reason and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I really didn’t want to know much about the family. I think it just makes things harder if there are too many attachments.

Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. YES, I slept with him. It wasn’t intentional. I hadn’t even planned it. I think it actually had more to do with one of those long moments of silence. I didn’t know what else to do and talking wasn’t an option. I assumed that she knew ahead of time. Couldn’t she look at me and tell what was about to happen? People have always said that my eyes are a dead give-away as to what I’m thinking.

We hadn’t seen each other since our first chemo treatment together. The medicine in my chemo knocks me out completely. I always ask my nurse to give me the “good stuff” first so that I can catch up on my sleep. He had the same plan. We only talked for a few moments and then we both feel asleep.

She laughed at our odd sense of humor. Yes, in front of her we joked that we would be sleeping together. For some reason she gave me the sense that she thought it would be a good idea. Or at least that’s my side of the story and I’m sticking to it.

Perhaps he talks a lot too. Perhaps she did enjoy the silence, or the fact that nobody would be talking. Perhaps she just wanted to reminisce back to a time when the children were young and he didn’t have cancer. Perhaps she just wanted to watch him sleep peacefully and remember when life was oh so simple. But, perhaps she just wanted to feel the embrace of a stranger that knew what she was going through. After all, sometimes it’s just a vibe that we feel when someone needs a hug.

Tuesday, January 6

Shrek and Donkey...Oh how I love a good craft store. I am truly not partial to any one in particular. I specifically banned my family from Garden Ridge. I just don’t think that they show the proper amount of respect for those of us that could spend hours just looking at crafty ideas (yes, I said hours) and yet, we may not purchase a thing. Still, I could spend an entire day in bed resting up for an evening at Garden Ridge. I can envision the sale signs. I always make a bee-line for the candles. I’ve never seen so many sizes, colors, scents and discounts. Garden Ridge, Here I Come … You’ve Been Warned! I don’t ask for much in life, but at this point I just want to get to Garden Ridge.

I had decorated the tables with candles (as usual) and everyone was having a “ball”. Thanks to the local craft store, the decorations and theme were perfect. Rob and I drove separately so that I could get everything set-up on time. Oh, how I love to decorate and plan a party. I do remember that the party was fun. It was a year-end celebration.

The event went off without a hitch. Trying to pack a car after an event is usually more stressful than the party itself. I remember everyone trying to help pack the car so that I could head out on my long journey home. I vaguely remember backing out of the driveway. There appeared to be more than the usual chatter of friends trying to assist me as I was attempting to back out. That should have been a clue. It seemed liked it took forever. I rolled down my window as I felt my blood pressure rising. I assumed that some fresh air would be a plus. I can see Garden Ridge is off in the distance as I’m traveling down I-85. It’s somewhat of a blur, but I know it’s there. Oh Lord, I just want to make it to the Garden Ridge exit. My favorite place to be and I don’t have anyone with me. How happy could a woman be? But this is one time when I’m not happy because all of a sudden I realize that I need help. Not a 12-step program for addicted, craft junkies, but I realize that I am sick and feel as if I’m about to pass out. I am totally aware of my surroundings as I can see Garden Ridge in the distance. But I didn’t even get to check out their candles. Just a few more yards, and I can call for help. I am now begging for the Lord above to take over.

I immediately dial my husband; no answer. I call my girlfriend who is at the same party. “HELP, where is my husband?” She immediately tells me to pull the car over and then explains that Rob has just left. She calls Rob. I make it to the top of the ramp. At this point I just want a safe place to pull over. I could care less about Garden Ridge or the sale that I know they’re having. I’m going down FAST and I know it! As usual, I begin to pray.

My original thought was to pull over at the local gas station. Oops, missed that opportunity. I know that I can’t turn around; it wouldn’t be safe at this point. I decided that I would pull into the next location. It’s a bank. I know that they’ll have a security camera, so that I will feel safe. For some reason I pulled around to the back of the bank. I made sure that all the doors were locked, and the heat is on full blast. I reclined the seat and took a good nap. I’m not sure if I was napping or just passed out completely. I knew that my husband and friend would arrive soon. It just seemed like it took hours and that time was passing so slowly.

Now, what I was not planning on was the possibility of a mug shot of “Lake Norman’s Chemo Celebrity” hidden behind SunTrust bank in what appeared to be a drunken stupor. Besides, who hides behind a bank? I promise you, I haven’t had a drink in over a year. Nor have I ever plotted a bank heist. How will I ever explain this one? The parking lot is dark and gloomy and for some reason, I feel safe. Once again, I clearly didn’t think this through. I truly know that my “wheel” had been taken over by a Higher Power.

Rob and the gang arrive. As in the movie Shrek, I’ve got a friend that will leave you laughing. I’ve never been so happy to see her. Let’s just call her my favorite Donkey. Donkey is talkative, enjoys singing and idle chatter, which proves rather annoying to those around her. All I remember is her saying, “It will take me awhile to get used to your car”… I can hear her talking, but I’m unaware of what she is talking about or, why she’s talking. I’m truly thinking, “Are you kidding me? … Just Help Me!”

You could’ve tied me to the roof of my car and announced that I was Christmas dinner, and I would still be the most blessed child on earth. My fingers are swollen and feel as if they’ve been slammed in a car door, and my eye looks like I’ve lost a match with Ray Jones, Jr. (not a bad thing I must add). At this point I could give Shrek a good run for his money. I was, as they say, “Tore Up from the Floor Up!” I couldn’t dress cancer up this month if I tried. The side effects of chemo are definitely playing a game with me, and I’m not winning this round.

I remember going to bed and thanking God that I made it through the night. I know you’re wondering, what happened? … Wish I knew. What I do know for sure is that Jesus took the wheel, when I admitted to him that “I was letting go … cause I can’t do this on my own … He was willing to save me from the road I was on...” Yes, we all know the tune, we all sing the song. But, how many of us truly know when it’s time to ask someone else to take the wheel and admit that we can’t do this on our own? And, at the same time admit that this would not be the best time for my first mug shot.

Tuesday, December 2

Keep Your Daughters Off The Pole...The room is somewhat empty. Yet it is well lit, so I shouldn't' complain. I remember what Chris Rock once said. "A dad's only goal is to keep his daughter off the pole!" What would my dad say at this point? I've always wanted to make my dad proud and never disappoint him. However, a girl's gotta do, what a girl's gotta do.

Here I am, staring hard at the sterling, silver pole. The cocktails are flowing. Without the cocktails, I couldn't do this, let alone survive. The few men in attendance appear to be laid back so I don't anticipate any problems. For women like me, it's a matter of survival. I don't think that women wake up and say, "Yep, I think I'll work the pole today!" Is it what I want for my girls? No, I don't even want my girls to know what the pole looks like! Yet, here I am and ready to go. You would think some music would help. But there's no music and no wide screen TV. There isn't anybody even asking me to "drop it like it's hot!" .

All eyes are on me and I know it. I'm starting to feel a little light-headed. Oh come on Judie, this isn't your first time! Take a deep breath, you can do this. Remember, it's all about survival. I remind myself to stay focused on the goal.

Oh, the goal. How many of us get through the day because we have a goal? You know, the light at the end of the tunnel. My train is quickly moving through the tunnel and I see that's there's light. I don't question my journey. My faith is strong and I trust and worship a true and All-Powerful God. So, as my girlfriend always says, "Put on your big girl panties and move on". Okay, based on the situation at hand, I almost hate to mention "panties". That being said, I do have on a cute pair. It's the little things that get me though the day. Yes, for me it's panties.
I stand close to the sparkling pole. I wrap my hands around it ever so tightly. I slowly lift myself up. I know not to make any eye contact. I am ever so careful. This would not be the day to trip and fall. Besides, the shoes I've choosen are not the best. However they are cute. I've worked this pole over 100 times. Carefully, I place one foot in front of the other. No need to be shy. Besides, all eyes are still on me. How sad would it be at this point in my life if I couldn't get at least one man to give me a once over? I notice Susan and I whisper to her, "Where is everyone today?" I don't think it's ever been this slow. I make my big move. I think the men knew I was struggling today.

The bathroom is only a few steps away, I know I can make it. I'm holding my sparkling, IV/chemo pole tightly. I've learned that I can unplug it and walk around the chemo center with my sterling silver pole. Oh, yes I can work a pole. I am holding that pole tight. The medicine is really kicking in. I should have gone to the bathroom before the cocktails took effect. My goal now is to make it back to my favorite chemo seat without any drama.

Considering this is my second round with breast cancer, you would think that I knew that you could walk around with your pole. No, no one bothered to tell me. I would just sit in my seat and read. Now that I know, I walk around. I've unplugged my pole to comfort a dear friend that arrived with her mom, I've worked my pole across the room to grab new magazines, I've even made it back to the snack bar (when was someone going to mention snacks ... I would have worked this pole a lot faster, had I known about the food!).

So, heading off to chemo isn't as bad as you may think. Once you learn to work the pole, the possibilities are endless. How far can I go with a pole? Don't know. However, what I do know is, I respect the pole and all the women that have learned to work the pole at chemo.

Now, back to the men. Yes, it was the only day that there were just men at chemo. Not a woman to be found, besides me. Where were the ladies that day? I don't know, but I do know that I made them proud. I worked that pole and didn't even fall. My daddy would have been so proud of me. Yes, it may be a dad's goal to keep his young lady off the pole, but in this case, I know my daddy would say, "Girl, Work That Pole!" So let's be careful what goals we place for ourselves and others. No, I've never worked the other pole. But, a girl's gotta do, what a girl's gotta do. It's called the dance of survival.

Wednesday, November 26

Driving Miss Daisy...Imagine the feeling of knowing that you are due on the set at 9:45 and a car is being sent for you. Gosh, does it get any better? All I have to do is spend a few moments in hair and make-up (actually just make-up), head over to wardrobe and then wait for the driver. Life is good. I can honestly say that I can get used to this red carpet treatment. Is this really how the stars are treated? The ride back is even better. They politely ask if I would like to make any stops. I’ve never asked them to stop anywhere. I would truly feel like I was taking advantage of the situation.

I really hate to feel like I'm imposing on people. Being a celebrity is not as easy as I envisioned. I’m feeling like a call to Oprah would have been a wise move. I have people stating that they don’t wish to bother me, so they don’t say much. Are you kidding me? When haven’t I enjoyed a good conversation? I’ve been asked if the car is warm enough, if I would like to stop for lunch … what is proper driver/celebrity etiquette? Oprah, could you possibly help out the local blogger? This is all new to me!

Well, before Oprah returned my call I was in trouble and I knew it. Imagine being dropped off at your destination. I walk through, everyone speaks and smiles. I head to the back and the door is immediately closed so that I won’t be disturbed. He enters the room and I know it’s time. He’s well distinguished, professional and has a calming spirit. Then he recites his lines from the script, “Judie, I don’t think you’re going to have chemo today. I don’t like the infection that is on your eye.” Oh, wait, give me a chance to find that page in my script. I can’t find it. Where is the line that I am supposed to respond with when my doctor ad-libs? Surely, this is a joke. He orders me to visit the ophthalmologist across the street. Okay, no problem. I can head right over.
Oh dear, my driver is gone and I don’t have a car. I am now feeling like a homeless women begging for help. Where do I begin? Pride is kicking in and I want chemo, but I’ve got to get to the ophthalmologist first. I call my husband; he’s uptown and can’t get help. Ummm, who's next? I’ve got a plan. This is when being nice to everybody you meet in life pays off. Yes, the secretary offered to take me over to the doctor’s office. Of course we all laughed when we realized that I don’t drive to chemo; I, “star-chemo patient” have a driver. It’s funny how everyone knows, but at that moment everyone forgot. I thought about walking. I could see the medical plaza, I just couldn’t get to it. After I told Karen that I would walk, she reminded me that it’s truly a couple of miles downhill and back up. Nope, that would not be my plan. Can you see the headlines? “One-eyed blogger collapses in Mooresville”.

Karen sweetly packs me into her car and drops me off at the doctor’s office. He calls my name immediately and rushes me to the back. He looks at my eye and adds a medication and sends me on my way, ensuring me that it will clear up in 10 days. He then announces that I can have chemo today and that he will call my doctor.

There I stand with a blank look on my face. I’ve paid my co-pay; that only took two seconds. I am now thinking, “How am I getting back to chemo?” Is anyone reading the script today? I don’t have a car!! Do I need to yell it from the mountain tops? Okay, I DON’T HAVE A CAR! And, I don’t have another ride until after chemo; which is three hours from now.

I call my girlfriend who works across the street at the local bank. Her voicemail message is so soothing and pleasant. However, I don’t want voicemail. I need a ride! Okay, I give up. I admit it … I'm stuck! I take a deep breath and remind the receptionist that I don’t have a ride back to chemo. The doctor overhears the story (I’m not embarrassed yet … hold tight, its coming). He’s a tall gentleman, somewhat young and nice on the eyes. He speaks. “Ms. Nix, I will take you back to chemo.” Yikes, the doctor of the practice is my driver today?! Yup, he sure is. Dr. Patel returns me to chemo and the day continues just as God planned.

Dr. Patel opens the car door for me and helps me in. I’ve gone from red carpet-star treatment, to feeling scared, desperate and alone straight to … "How you doing Dr. Patel?"

Don’t ever underestimate who may be driving your train. It’s not always who you think it’s going to be. Be willing to ad-lib in life. Besides, I really think that’s where the fun is.

Tuesday, November 11

4 Wigs And A Funeral...I don’t intentionally put things off until the last minute. It just so happens that “the last minute” is when I am at my best. My husband calls me the “Wing It Queen.” I can wing my way through almost anything. Well, maybe not everything. Imagine my surprise when we received the phone call that my first husband's brother (we’ll talk about the first marriage another day) had passed away. My first question was, when and where will the services be held? My entire life is scheduled around chemo. Believe me when I say, we were not putting off chemo for the ex-brother in-law. I informed my oldest daughter that her uncle had passed away and out of respect for their family we would be attending the services. Besides, it’s the right thing to do. I found an outfit for Tayla. We'd laid everything out on the couch. The goal is to pack the car with everything that she has laid out, pick her up early from school, dress in the car and head straight to the service. I’ve got plenty of time. The service isn’t until 2:00 p.m., and I know exactly what I’ll be wearing. No stress!!!

So, imagine my surprise the night before when I can’t find my wig. I’ve got plenty of them. I just want the cute, short spiky one. It’s got burgundy highlights ... does that not spell "funeral" to you? I’ve looked everywhere. I have a box of wigs under the bed. Surely, it’s in the box. Nope, no wig to be found. Okay, let’s move on to plan B. I refuse to stress over the missing wig. It’s probably in the closet. So, I spend an hour tearing it apart. Nope, no wig! Okay, now I am aggravated. I can’t decide if I am more aggravated over the misplacement of a wig, or that I am going through so much trouble for the ex in-laws. They don’t know about the cancer and I don’t think a funeral would be the best place to have the discussion. It’s bad enough that the chemo has changed my finger nail color to shades of dark gray, I have an eye infection, no eyebrows and perhaps only two or three eyelashes that are holding on for dear life. I am determined to look as if everything is ok.

Then it dawns on me. I can run to Statesville and pick up a new wig. I’m going to bed. No more stress. The store opens at 10:00 a.m. If I leave home by 9:00 a.m., I’ll be their first customer of the day. I can try on a dozen or so wigs and be looking like Halle Berry by 12:00 noon. That’s my plan and I am sticking to it.

The worst thing about a Wing Queen shopping is going with a mind set. I was determined that the new wig would be short and funky with some highlights. Oh dear Lord, where are they hiding the short, cute wigs? Time is not on my side, nor can I find the wig that I want. Crap, I am going to have to wing it once again.

Okay, so the dark brown wig with blonde highlights is kinda cute! Is it funeral cute? Gosh I hope so, cuz I just plopped down the Visa card and I think I’m looking kinda cute. Besides, the woman that was helping me has reminded me of the store policy of only trying on four wigs. She was also running out of steam and she really doesn’t care that the funeral is only a few hours away. She apparently doesn’t understand the “Wing It” concept.

I pick up Tayla from school. The wig is on. I can look at any 15 year-old and tell exactly what they're thinking. Besides, Tayla has my eyes. We can’t hide anything. Our eyes are a dead give away to what’s about to come out of our mouths. Okay, I'm ready. The teenager is about to speak. I brace myself for her honesty … “Mommy, it looks good.” She knew before I could ask.

So, off to the funeral we go. To this day, no one knows that I wore a wig or that I am going through cancer for the second time. I penciled in the eyebrows, added some soft chocolate gray eye shadow (to mostly cover the lump on my eye lid) and added some ruby red lipstick to my lips. I've decided that I will use the lipstick as a distraction. If all else fails, they can just think I went a little too far with the lipstick.

Now you’re probably wondering where was the original, burgundy spiked wig? I am not too embarrassed to report that it was in the back of my car. Yes, I am one of those people that if it's too hot, I will pull off my wig and send it flying to the back seat. Yes, while in traffic, probably scaring someone to death. It was underneath Tayla’s bat bag, which should have been out of my car over the weekend. Yes, the Wing It Queen is going to blame all of this on Tayla. However, I can’t be too mad at her, cuz I looked good that day and my ex-in laws knew it!

Tuesday, October 28

Sam I Am...It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You would think as a breast cancer survivor I would be jumping up and down and dressed in full pink. Nope, not this survivor. Let me be the first to say, I do not like pink. I am just not one of those women that can carry such a dainty color. Place me in fire engine red and I’m your girl. The louder the better!

It still amazes me how many people will not have a mammogram or even hold each other accountable. It also saddens me that we devote only one month to a cause. So, once November 1st. hits, are we free to move on to the next holiday; are we free to stop talking about mammograms and preventive health; are we free to stop raising awareness for such a deadly, almost preventable disease? Ladies, we must do better to help each other.

Who decided that such a dainty, pastel feminine color, such as pink would represent such a horrible, deadly disease? Breast cancer is not dainty, nor is it feminine. I don’t care how you dress it up; it’s loud and in your face at every turn. Hear me when I say, “I Do Not Like PINK!”

That gets me to thinking of the infamous Green Eggs and Ham, best-selling and critically acclaimed book by
Dr. Seuss. Here’s my take for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I do not like my breasts in a machine
I do not like for them to be seen

I do not like them flattened or squished
I do not like them presented as the main dish

I do not like your silky pink gown
I do not like your reminders all around town

I do not like your little pink ribbons
I do not like there’s not enough money yet given

I do not like the loud crashing sound
I do not like the sight of the plate slamming down

I do not like my breast twisted left and right
I do not like my breasts in the x-rayed light

I do not like for you to hear me scream;
as I am bold
I do not like the results that I may be told

I do not like the view any more from the right
I do not like that we can’t win this fight

No fan I am of the mammogram
However, Sam I Am

Survivors Appreciate Mammograms!
Judie Berry-Nix
aka, Sam I AM

So, here’s my challenge to each one of you over the next few months. Let’s be sure to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness. I already know what excuse you’ll use, so here are a few little helpful hints to get you started: Tie a pink ribbon to the leg of the turkey for Thanksgiving. Add a pink ribbon on the top of the tree for Christmas. Ring in the New Year with a pink champagne glass. Give your girlfriends a pink box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Or, my favorite; order a cold mug of pink beer for St. Patrick’s Day!

Oh No…
I think I like PINK!

Click here to send me an email

Friday, October 10

Drop, Tuck and Roll...Remember as a child your parents would turn around (yes, while still driving 70 mph) and say? “If I have to stop this car… The phrase never had an ending. To be honest with you it didn’t need an ending. As children we all knew what it meant. I never had any friends or cousins that ever mentioned what happened when the car stopped. Just the threat of it was enough for the “average” child to get her act together (and no, my parents never said it me).

Now that our train is plugging along, like a New York City train, I must let you know that it is jammed packed. It’s truly standing room only. There are so many friends that are waiting at the next stop to hopefully get on. No one is worried about getting a seat. They truly just want on. For that I am so grateful.
That being said, have you ever had someone in your life that you really want to pull aside and say, “If I have to stop this train…” you would think it wouldn’t need an ending. Oh, come on. It needs an ending if you are an adult hearing those words.

Here’s how I see the statement ending. “Get out!” No, we are not even stopping, simply slowing down. In Cornelius, North Carolina it’s Fire Prevention Week. So, in paying homage to Fire Prevention Week, I would suggest just a simple drop, tuck and roll. Isn’t that what we were taught in the case of a fire? Same rules apply here. It amazes me how many people get on the train ride of life with their own concerns, rules and hidden agendas. You know the people that see the sign that states, “Only One Over-night Bag”. They get onboard with all the extra “baggage”. They are hitting everyone upside the head with their heavy baggage. We all know those people. Yet, we always turn the other cheek and make excuses for them. How awesome would it be if we didn’t have to make excuses for them? Perhaps then we could focus on what’s really important. In their world it’s all about them. Needless to say, always remember the Drop, Tuck and Roll.

I think it would only happen to them once in life and then they would realize they picked the wrong train. We must take some responsibility for allowing these people on our train. On the same hand, we must be strong enough to open the door and send them on their way. They often need a little push. I think it’s harder for us to give them the needed push. With the friends and family on my train, I don’t think that we’ll have any problems.

I say this in hopes that we all learn that what is sometimes dressed up in the prettiest package with a beautiful organza bow and all the trimmings, is nothing more than that. It’s a pretty package. It’s what’s inside that truly counts. Learning the difference is a life time lesson. I pray that we all have time to learn the difference and learn it quickly. I know that our parents have always said, “Say thank you, it’s the thought that counts.” Is it really?

The “it’s all about me people” are only centered on themselves and not others, so in their case the thought was to gain accolades’ for themselves. These are the moments that your parents really haven’t warned you about. It’s hard to accept that times have really changed. Not everyone means well. I look at it like this. They simply got on the wrong train. It happens, no hard feelings. However, they should know to ask to get off, BEFORE they are pushed off. I’m sure that there is a train coming along the bend that would be more suited for them. Sad to say, that train is probably packed as well. However, this I know for sure … this is not the train for them.

So together we will all push forward with a simple:
“Drop, Tuck and Roll … this is your stop!”
Ooops, who said we were stopping the train…Just Get Out!

Remember to send their baggage along with them;
after all, it's their baggage that's slowing us all down.

Tuesday, September 9

Here's Your Sign...I’ve always enjoyed comedians. I think it takes a special talent to not only deliver the punch line; but to remember it. Bill Engvall and Jeff Foxworthy are two of my favorites. You know, the guys that say, "Here's your sign" and "You know you're a redneck if..". These guys let us know that there really are some stupid people in the world. With three weeks of chemo and one week off, I pile in as much on my off week as I can. Probably more than I should. Therefore, I truly don’t have an abundance of time or energy. You would think going to the hospital for a scan couldn’t possibly turn into an event. Or going to the local Harris Teeter (grocery store) wouldn’t faze me. In both cases I was truly thinking; run in and out. So imagine my surprise when I pull up and see the SIGN for the Handicapped, the New Mom To Be sign, The NO Parking sign and not a spot for me within a mile (so it seemed). And then it hit me… Where is my sign? Where is the sign for people going through chemo that are truly out of energy? The sign that allows the mom with eight kids to pull up in the fire lane, so she can unload them. The sign for the family that has just lost a son, that on a good day a trip to the grocery story is more than they can bare. Where is the sign for the gentleman that just buried his wife; and all he wants to do is purchase a few cans of soup. Or, the sign for my friend’s wife who is helping him go through chemo; I know that she deserves a sign. Don’t we all crave for a sign sometimes in life? Not a sign that says we are truly rednecks or just plain dumb as dirt. But, a sign that lets us know that society truly cares, a sign that gives us the strength to continue on. Just imagine if McCain or Obama had the clever idea of passing a bill that gave us two days of true “signage” in life. No one could question when you used it or why. You would just pull it out as you needed it and grab that special parking spot. I think the sign that really got me going…and I was going good, was the New Mom sign. How about a sign for the mom going thru cancer and wants to survive. Or, the mom going thru cancer but forget to buy cupcakes for her daughter to bring to school, or the mom going thru cancer and wants to (for once) cook dinner for her family and not depend on others. Or, my favorite, mom going thru cancer and just wants to go somewhere to vegetate. I love my local Harris Teeter. I don’t think I’ve ever been there and not run into someone that I know. Someone that turned the dreaded shopping trip into a 30 minute social event for me. My daughter went to the store with Rob and when they returned I asked, “Did you see anyone that you knew?” She quickly responded, “No mommy, when I’m with Daddy we don’t see anyone.” I then realized that my husband is right. I will truly talk to anyone and everyone. I then asked her, “Are you sure?” (as if it’s impossible to go to the store and not turn it into a social hour). I love my Harris Teeter. A store where you want to put on the cutest outfit and a little eye liner because this is your one day out.
It reminds me of the famous Cheers song:

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
(Especially when chemo is involved)
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
(nope, just need a parking spot)
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
(I’m thinking Harris Teeter can send a check at any moment)
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
(a parking spot in site)
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

Judie Berry-Nix

Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, Niece, Friend
Breast Cancer Survivor

Here's to everyone that in the midst of their journey, took the time to create a sign.

As our train continues on, watch for the signs that our awesome
Heavenly "Conductor" has created for us.

Signs of Hope, Love, Strength and Faith

Don't let anyone ever take away your sign!

Tuesday, August 12

The Chair...Do you know people who like to have certain things done a certain way as a part of a ritual of sorts? Well, I must admit, I’m one of them. For example, I read my favorite bible scriptures before every treatment and ask God to please watch over me and to protect me, I try to dress up for treatment (if you look good you feel good – seriously), and last but not least; chemo treatments must always been given in the same chair each time. It has to be the chair along the left wall. So, imagine my surprise when someone had MY CHAIR. It’s like the pews at church. Everyone knows where everyone sits and you don’t take someone else’s seat; whether you beat them to it or not. Okay, so now I am faced with a dilemma. Besides starring the poor man down, I truly stood there for a moment and didn’t know what to do or where to go. I know he was thinking “Why is this woman standing here?” So, I walk through the Treatment Center and think, what would be a good SECOND choice. How often do we get a second choice? I really didn’t want a second choice. I wanted my chair that I have sat in for the last month. Did he not receive the memo? Okay, so now I sense I have a bad attitude and I can’t shake it. I want my chair. Without appearing to sound like Angelica from the Rugrats, I knew that I had to get my act together. So, what would any other breast cancer survivor in my position do? She would tell the nurse on him. Yes, I have sunken to a whole new level thanks to chemo. My nurse was nice enough to recommend a new seat for me. She explained that she understood my “dilemma”. So there I sit ACROSS from him on the far right wall. Not in MY chair on the left side that I must have. Chemo begins and I realize I better pray for a better attitude and for forgiveness. The medicine begins to work and I am starting to get sleepy. Oh wait; I must stare him down one more time. I then think, gosh he must be new here (of all the places to pick, why would he want to be here). He doesn’t know the routine. I then fall asleep. I am awakened by my nurse. “Judie, we have good news for you…your tumor markers have dropped. The chemo treatments are working.” Then I heard her radio playing so softly Lone Star’s - I’m Already There. I was, focused on what I thought was the best seat as if it was somehow connected to the best treatment or the best news. The good news was already planned for me by God, no matter where I was sitting. Sometimes, what we think in life is the best “seat” really isn’t. I had the privilege and honor of sitting in someone else’s favorite seat and what a BLESSING it was. Shame on me for having a bad attitude. Let’s just blame it on the chemo and thank God above that I was given a SECOND CHOICE/seat! And more so that God was already there as I struggled with something so simple and found me worthy of receiving such good news when I wasn’t at my best. For sure, I know that I spent more time worrying about my outward appearance that day and the unimportance of where I sat. God was already waiting for me at my new seat...

Are you onboard yet? Don't worry about where you're sitting. I just need you to get onboard.

All Aboard!!!

Check out my playlist to hear I'm Already There by Lone Star

Sunday, July 13

I'm Blogging...I will be using this blog to help keep family, friends, co-workers, clients, neighbors and well-wishes up-to-date on my current journey... All Aboard! I am currently one month into my chemo treatment. So far, so good! I really can't complain about side effects, as I haven't had many. The constant side effect is just the tiredness from the chemo. I usually spend 3 days sleeping off and on. On the fourth day, I regroup and try to get some work done. The only physical difference to my appearance is that I have finally lost all of my hair. However, as you all know, it allows me to delve into a new craft project, i.e., designing hats for my beautiful, but bald head. My fashionista "little" daughter has joined me in my design studio. She has a great eye for color and style. Our style is a little bit on the Phyllis Diller side. We both love bright and funky colors. We purchased two hats from fabric stores, sewed one and decorated the other. I've also been able to make the "weekly" trip to Michael’s Craft Store to purchase trinkets to adorn my hats. I am sure by now you are wondering what theme I have picked for my battle. Yes, there's always a theme for everything that I do. Did you expect cancer to be any different? I envision my cancer centered around a train station. I am surrounded by a ton of people. There are those that have purchased their non-refundable tickets with me, those that are still at the ticket counter begging for a cheaper fare, those that want to ride along side of me on the train, but can't make the journey until next month, those that want a refund as the trip is just way too expensive, and those that completely misread the itinerary and are at the airport. Wherever you are in my journey, I applaud the fact that you are with me. It is often difficult to hear "All Aboard", but I promise we are going to learn a lot about each other along the way. I know that my Heavenly Train Conductor has an awesome journey planned for me; a journey of growth, strength and hope. So, let me be the first to say, "ALL ABOARD – Choo Choo!"

Friday, July 11

The Beginning...I was caught (as usual) in Charlotte traffic and was going to reschedule the mammogram because I was running so behind schedule. I arrived just in time, but couldn’t find a parking space. My oldest daughter was with me and I really didn’t want her to witness me having a mammogram. I begged the parking attendant to allow me to park directly in front of the mammogram mobile so that she would be safe. As I approached the truck, they informed me that they were closing. I knew that I hadn’t begged to be “flattened” in the machine for no reason. I explained my situation and they graciously allowed me in and also offered to watch my daughter for me. The entire process couldn’t of taken more then 15 minutes. I truly spent more time looking for a parking space and begging for help. A few days later I received a phone call…the dreaded phone call. That was the beginning of….my new beginning. I have tried to be a role model to all women, but mostly children.
Remember, we are never too busy to beg someone to save our own life….

Please read our feature story as it appeared in Cornelius Today, one of our local newspapers.