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Breast Cancer: It Gets Tough But The Sun Will Shine Again
By Blondie Clayton
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Rated "G" by the Author.
Tackling uphill battles with focus, faith and determination
(The Cathee Connor Story)
The Challenges . . .
Life, however, was not always one of smooth sailing. Cathee
has had quite an uphill battle with many different challenges. In 1971, two months into her freshman year in college, during Homecoming, she found her good friend, and former high school classmate, murdered in their dormitory.
Cathee had to be treated for shock and then make a decision whether to stay at Howard or to return home. She later dedicated and performed a dance in memory of her friend.
In 1972 Cathee got hit with the news of her mother’s diagnosis with breast cancer. The pressure was too great: at one point Cathee tried to permanently end her mental and emotional pain with pills (but God said “no”—not yet. I have work for you to do).
Three months before graduation, in 1975, Cathee had another close call with death from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Her heart and breathing had stopped and she had to be resuscitated.
Putting all that behind her, she went on to graduate summa cum laude (highest honors) with her class of 1975. Right after graduation, she was accepted into a graduate fellowship program in the Department of Exercise Physiology at the University of Maryland at College Park.
Her first major career opportunity came in 1977 when she was hired by Xerox Corporation, in Leesburg, Virginia, as a fitness specialist. Within two and a half years, she was promoted to Health Management Program Administrator.
Cathee took her first cruise in 1981 aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines, which turned out to be a real “love boat” experience when she met her future husband, Dannie Connor. However, in 1983, just when she was about to embark upon this new phase of her life—two months before the wedding—her life was shattered when she was informed of her father’s sudden death from a heart attack.
With the help of her family, friends, and her strong faith, she was able to move on and marry her “special sailor”.
By 1984 Cathee had moved from Virginia to Florida to build a life with her new husband and to begin a job as Assistant Administrator in health promotion at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Faced with yet another crisis—the cancer that her mother had fought for 12 years finally took her life. Again, with God on her side, and the support of her husband, family and friends, she was able to move forward.
Pregnant with their first child in 1987, her joy and excitement turned into deep pain and sorrow in February 1988 when baby boy Dannie, Jr. was stillborn. Cathee asked herself, “Why me? Haven’t I endured enough?”
After months of grief counseling, the pain she had been suppressing for so long finally erupted. Cathee collapsed in the middle of the street, screaming and crying to the point of just emptiness. At that point Cathee realized she needed help, and later joined a support group for persons who have lost children and began her slow road back to recovery.
The Big One. . .
It was in 1989, one year after her son’s death, when a routine examination to confirm whether she could work on getting pregnant again, revealed a malignant lump in her left breast.
Reeling through a roller coaster of emotions, Cathee finally came to acceptance and decided to have her breast removed by a mastectomy. The day after her surgery, as she laid in bed reflecting on her life, wondering how she was going to put the pieces back together; her husband Dannie came in—and with great difficulty-- broke the news that her sister Ronnie had been in a near fatal car accident in New York.
This pushed Cathee over the edge: numbness set in; there seemed to be nothing left inside to fight anymore. It was in that moment that Cathee lost the will to live.
After endless tears and overwhelmed by the traumatic events of her life, Cathee realized she needed to turn it over to a higher power. As she cried out for help, her hero came along—God—and He gave her the strength to carry on.
The Come Back . . .
Cathee under went six months of chemotherapy treatment. One month after her last treatment, she returned to doing what she loved best—dance. At the same time she became a consultant with Mary Kay Cosmetics, which became a major influence in her changed life. An opportunity in which Cathee advanced to Director and held that spot for three years. In 1990 her involvement positioned her to perform at a Mary Kay reception in Miami, Florida.
That same year (May 1990), a year after her surgery, the big break came when Cathee performed in La Nuestro 90 at the James L. Knight Center for Univision, an international television production company.
In 1991 Cathee became a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery Program, a one-on-one personalized support group for women with breast cancer. During that same year a second lump was found in her right breast and she had to undergo another biopsy. This time it was benign.
More Challenges . . .
Hurricane Andrew tore through South Florida in 1992, and left devastation beyond human comprehension. Cathee and her husband spent the night praying while the storm ripped apart homes on either side of them and left their home with “minor” damage.
In 1993 she and her two sisters found lumps in each of their breasts at the same time. Bunnie and Cathee’s turned out to be benign. However, her sister Ronnie’s turned out to be malignant.
For Ronnie, after having survived a traumatic auto accident six years prior, where she endured three months in a wheelchair and intensive physical therapy, this was a major new challenge to face.
Through Cathee’s challenges, she has experienced a tremendous spiritual growth and her strong faith would be necessary to carry her through the upcoming years.
The Rebirth. . . Read More at Her Web Site: www.catheesdanceoflife.com
(The Cathee Connor Story- an excerpt from her book: Psalms In The Dance of Life)
Site: Psalms In The Dance
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|Reviewed by John Domino
|Having been through Hurricane Andrew myself and having experienced the death of my wife due to breast cancer; I could relate to the hardships in this story. I wrote a short story about my wife called, "A Slice of a Short Life" and it took twenty years to put my feelings on paper. God Bless You! You have a natural talent so keep the pen on that paper!
John Michael Domino
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Incredible story of hardships and God's grace through them; very well penned, Blondie! BRAVA!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D