We are back today with our wonderfully inspiring friend, Emily Phillips. If you missed yesterday’s first Inspiring Person post, you must go back and catch up!
Kathryn – Tell us a bit about your family, and how your upbringing made you the truly inspiring person that you are today!
Emily – I was born and raised in Michigan. Both of my parents were first generation U.S. citizens, so our home was one with old fashion standards and values. Looking back , I realize my mother was a great inspiration in so many ways, as well as helpful and nurturing to the other children in the neighborhood. My mother was like “Martha Stewart”, before Martha came on the scene. She was an amazing scratch cook and baker. She was the master of her laundry and everything was ironed, including the bed linens. Whites were bright white, which probably had something to do with how long she would wash them in her wringer washing machine! Oh how I would love to have my mom’s old ironing board!
Kathryn – My mother and grandmother also ironed our bed linens and I have continued that custom at Chestnut Cottage. It is such a joy to get into a bed with ironed linens and also know that our guests have that same joy!
Emily – If costumes were needed for the school play, no problem, mom could come up with really great results withour even a pattern. Helping teachers with grading papers or chaperoning were just small ways my mother contributed to our education. I am not sure there was anything that was too big a task for my mom and she never complained about anything. That attitude , was the greatest gift she gave to me, especially with my journedy with breast cancer.
Kathryn – It is so important for all of us to realize just how much our mothers gave to us. My mother was my greatest mentor and is missed every day!
Tell us a bit more about where you have drawn your inspiration in life and share with our readers a little more about your cancer journey. What kind of things kept you going and how can this help others who might be facing a similar challenge
Emily – Again, my mother really gave me everything I ever needed before I even knew I needed it! One thing is for certain…my strength and resilience comes from my mother.
Kathryn – As a true animal lover (with the exception of birds of course), I would like for you to share your interesting experience with your cat and the neighborhood dogs.
Emily – Before I even received my diagnosis, things lined up for me in a rather uncanny way. Approximately one year prior , I felt the need to find a naturopathic doctor to work with to enhance a healthy life style. Ten days prior to Thanksgiving 2012, I was in my yard walking with my diabetic cat , which was a daily routine. We were coming around the side of the house and I looked up to find two dogs staring me in the face. There was a boxer and a black lab, the boxer had a collar on so I grabbed the dog by the collar. The black lab caught “Shortey” (my cat) before he could climb the tree. I let go of the boxer to help my cat, who was fighting for his life. I threw myself on top of the cat and used my body to shield Shorty . I screamed for help but no one heard me. The dogs kept circling me pawing at me, trying to get to my cat. I scooped up Shorty and ran for the house. My husband immediately took both of us for medical help. We dropped the cat off at the vet and then I went to the urgent care. I had cuts, bites, abrasions and bruises on both arms. Shortey did better than I and only seemed a bit bruised.
Kathryn – Oh what a terrifying experience. I would have done the same if I had been in your situation. Protecting our children and pets just comes so naturally! Then what happened Emily?
Emily – Exactly one week after Thanksgiving, I received my diagnosis. I had triple positive breast cancer and the doctors were recommending no breast sparing. One week after that, Shortey’s bruise turned out to be cancer as well. My treatment plan included a bilateral mastectomy, six chemo treatments and one full year of Herceptin infusions. I also needed an axillary dissection because one of my sentinel nodes on the right side had cancer.
Kathryn – Were you in good health otherwise at the time of your diagnosis.
Emily – Yes, I was strong at the time, having had an excellent exercise routine. I continued to work out through my entire cancer treatment. I even set a goal with my granddaughter that after treatment, we would run a 2K.
Kathryn – I am sure that a healthy lifestyle simply puts one at an advantage when facing a cancer challenge!
Emily – My experience with Shortey and the dogs was a hard pill to swallow. But looking back, this experience brought out a sort of “silent warrior” persona in me. And I certainly needed this for my journey. After the dog attack, Shortey stuck with me and as his cancer progressed he never let out a whimper or refused to get up out of his bed. He had the stamina and spirit of a warrior as well. Sadly, Shortey lost his battle with cancer on August 5th, 2013 , the day before my last chemo treatment.
Kathryn – It sounds like Shortey kept you going and wanted to see you through your treatments. I do really believe that pets have a sense about illness and helping us humans on our journeys!
Emily – After Shortey passed I still needed to find a way to help with my inner strength. One of the doctors at the cancer center recommended a doctor to me who teaches Mindfulness Meditation. This brought great peace to me and I have been practicing ever since. My last Herceptin infusion was March 25, 2014 and on April 27th, 2014, my granddaughter Isabella and I ran our first 2K!
Kathryn – You are certainly an incredible “Inspiring Person” and if you will join me again tomorrow, I would love to end with a few final questions.