Friday, September 7, 2012


As many of you know, I hurt my back last September, herniated 2 disks, L4 & L5. I continued to walk, while my leg was numb, until I had surgery on Dec. 13, 2011. The surgery was successful - although I still have some nerve damage in my left leg. I continue to exercise, eat healthy, and maintain a positive attitude. I refuse to be defined: "I have a bad back," and so I  work extremely hard to be healthy.

I had to back way down from many commitments over the past year, because of the energy it was taking to become and stay healthy. So I've been able to focus on my body, my spirit, my family, my work. My mantra has been, "Talk to me in September." I had my high school reunion mid August, and I was the committee chair for that, and I really wanted to just enjoy my summer with Scott and family.

I had been asked to become a Supervisor in Training for the chaplain organization I belong to. This opportunity was really enticing, and I said a hesitant "yes," without knowing for sure what that would entail, but having faith that if God wanted me to do this, I could make the time. So just in case - I dropped 2 of my 3 classes at UVU, keeping some room for new. However, the more I learned about the SIT process and those who may be my guides, the less comfortable I was, and this led me to do some deep soul-searching, praying.

August 11 was my 35 year high school reunion - Rigby High School. It was a success, and I was happy with it and relieved it was over! Scott and I went over the mountains into Star Valley and spent a couple of nights. During that time we were able to talk about our fall and winter plans, what was happening, what could happen, and what we wanted to take on, and what we wanted to keep off our plates. One of the things we decided was that now was not the time for me to begin the SIT process - not sure when the time would be, so "yes," I want to teach others how to be chaplains, but "no," not right now. Once we made that decision, we began entertaining the idea of an adventure, particularly that of going to Uganda in May, to work with our friend, David Ssejinja's foundation for 2-3 weeks. We talked with David, decided to, and that would be our goal.

On another note, I haven't brought anything into my life, and as I've been looking at what more I can do, the prompt I have had is, "You need another year to focus on your body." I brushed that aside, thinking that another year of focusing on myself was ridiculous - I'm healthy, strong, even beginning to run, and I could do one more thing. But as one more thing and then another, have crossed my path, nothing, not even chaplaining, is fitting. As well, Scott and I have had an extraordinarily peaceful month. No tension - no stress for me benefits us both, and just enjoying our jobs, our time together, our yard, and our peace. We've been reading a book, Wabi Sabi Love, that talks about enjoying the idiosyncrasies in each other - what we fell in love with can sometimes bug the hell out of us as well. As well - enjoy the imperfections - Colen Sweeten once said, "You can still drink from a chipped cup." So - take it easy, mellow out, don't get caught up in the busy and negative. It's been good for us!

I am a stickler for keeping my annual health checks. I schedule them months before, just so I can have them on my calendar. I had a mammogram and dexa-scan scheduled for this past Wednesday, Sept. 5. I do bi-monthly breast self-examinations, and a month ago my left breast was hurting. I figured it was sore because my trainer, Cody, and I have been working to strengthen my upper-body. Yet last Thursday, Aug. 30, I came home from an evening with the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, and was rubbing my left boob, because it was sore. As I rubbed it, I felt a mass on the left side. I rubbed my right boob - nothing. I had Scott feel, and there certainly was something there. I thought to myself, "I'm glad I have my mammogram on Wednesday," then moved on to the Festival for the weekend, with this in the back of my mind.

The Festival was fantastic, and my lump was still there. And it was Labor Day weekend. So, Tuesday morning at 8:10am, I called my doctor's office, they answered, and were able to get me in at 9:30am. Dr. Dayton was out, but her nurse, Marilyn Sorenson, saw me. Marilyn is awesome; she took care of me when I hurt my back. She measured my mass (1 3/4) and quickly called UVRMC's radiology department and told them they would see me that day for now a Diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound - at 2pm. I quickly canceled my Folklore class, and stewed. I had the tests, they found a mass - without fluid, and did a biospy, telling me I should know the outcome by Thursday afternoon, Friday noon at the latest.

On Wednesday afternoon I went to a Business Seminar for work. I received several calls from my doctor's office, trying to get information correct. Then at 4:30pm I had a missed call from the office. The message was from my doctor - she called me! Her message said to be at her office at 9am on Thursday, she had the test results. Wednesday night was horrible - although a good friend came by, and we had a lovely visit with some laughs. Laughing is always good. I didn't sleep, and Scott tossed and turned.

Thursday morning we were up and out to the doctor's office. Dr. Dayton pulled us into her office, asked a couple of questions, then sat down and said, "Ronda, you have cancer. I am sorry." Woah - kinda knowing, mostly hoping, but still stunned. I mean, me, no family history, young, healthy, estrogen level is great, sheeze. 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer - that's outrageously high - holy cow! Only 15% of women with breast cancer have a family history of cancer - only 15%. Where do the rest of us get it? Where does it come from? I mostly listened, cried, tried to think. Dr. Dayton is awesome - I have been seeing her for about 10 years, traveling from Orem to Payson, and I will continue to do so. She gave me something to sleep, told me to call her, anytime, and made a call to a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer.

Scott and I drove to Jenna's to tell her. While driving from Payson to Mapleton I called UVU and asked to drop my Folklore class. That was so hard - I love teaching, love teaching folklore, love my students. But after last fall's bad back issues and having to teach not feeling well, I just didn't feel like that was fair for my students. So I did.

I told Jenna, Tyler, Marv, Dad & Mom, Diana, Julie, Natalie, Daniel, my siblings, and then I began reaching out to friends - in an odd way, and they are responding. You see, I've been working really hard this past year at being healthy - not just physically, but emotionally too. I've been blessed with a "bring it on" attitude all my life. I like an adventure, I like "hard," I like learning, growing, pushing. I like an adventure, I like going out of my comfort zone - and I realize this is that experience, that journey. I refuse to think of this as a battle, a war, terrorists in my body, etc. It's NOT. It's a journey - and I will not fight my body, I will work with my body. I will not surround myself with war analogies and terminology - that is not a language in my life. I want positive - no negative. I will invite goodness into my life, just like I always do, that's me, that's my world.

I saw the surgeon yesterday afternoon. I have Stage 3 Invasive Ductile Carcinoma. It's the worst type of breast cancer - see I don't do anything half way! The surgeon was kind, was honest, and was hopeful. He said I'll need surgery (schedule for Wednesday) because the mass is growing. They will do a lumpectomy, as well as look at the lymph nodes to see if they are cancerous. If so, then removal of those as well. I will then be referred to a medical oncologist, who will determine what types of radiation and chemotherapy I will need. I'm OK with all of this, just need to be positive and busy these next few days. 

To kick this journey off, I'm having a Boob Day Party on Sunday evening. I've invited the positive people in my life - those who I want surrounding me, keeping the positive in and the negative out. I also want to share my story - we can all learn from this process. I also want to learn - what have others experiences have been. And I want to be able to laugh, to talk about it, to be open and honest with each other. I also want a system of defense - I read this quite a while ago, and it has proven worthy - Decide what path you want to be on, Decide who you want to be with you on that path, Begin your journey. That's what I'm going to be doing - not sure what the map looks like, but that's part of the adventure, and I'll be blogging about it along the way.


  1. You're amazing Ronda at everything you do, this is beautifully written.You are a brave woman going on a very big adventure. Thank you for spreading your positive energy. Spreading light and love is what you do! I love and appreciate you for it! -Cody

  2. Wow. This was tough to read. My mom had breast cancer 4 years ago and it was an amazing experience for my whole family. It was both terribly difficult and forever bonding. Her cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, so she did surgery, chemo and radiation. And she is a different person today. A better person. She will tell anyone who listens that she wishes cancer SURVIVAL on anyone. We'll keep you in our prayers. :)

    1. Thank you, Krystal. I'd like to meet your mother - seriously.

  3. I am so glad that you are sharing your journey through writing. Of course you would! Please know that I am here to back you up when needed. You are in my thoughts and prayers as this new week unfolds.

  4. Ronda, I'm sorry for what you are going through. I can't even imagine. I haven't seen you in years, but reading your posts here and on FB, it looks to me like you are doing amazing things with your life. I am sending positiveness your way. God bless you. You'll be in my prayers.

  5. Your positive outlook is inspiring. I will be thinking and praying for your family. Love, Johanna