Cancer Remembered: Feeling Antsy

This post is part of a month-long series on my cancer experience of 2013. They originally appeared on my blog at

It’s Friday…and I have a confession. I’ve been feeling a little antsy this week. We are going through all of the surgery scheduling stuff and I must say, it’s left me a bit impatient. I’ve talked to the nurses, the doctors, the insurance company, and we still don’t have a date. And that’s what I want….a surgery date. But as soon as I dealt with it during morning prayer a couple of days ago, the Universe let me know something. I’ve got a story to share with you in case you are ever really antsy too.

Earlier this week, my friend’s brother died. He was a throat cancer survivor, but in January he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of stomach cancer. When I heard about his passing, I immediately called me friend to offer my condolences and we talked about his experiences.
Before long, we discovered that he and I had something in common. We have the same oncologist. And then it hit me….I may not have a surgery date because my doctor was ummmm….trying everything he could to save this man’s life. This man who I know…who’s the brother of a good friend of mine. This man who I’ve attended summer barbecues with. And then I started thinking about the status of other cancer patients in the Texas Oncology Offices. Staff members could have been making hospice arrangements for those who don’t have a good prognosis, and they could be fighting with insurance companies regarding cases that are truly life and death.
And you see, my case is important. My cancer is serious…but I’m not fighting death right now. I’m enjoying life….I have a sore throat, Benadryl and Zyrtec are my friends, but I am living. And that is something that I should enjoy, and not be antsy.
As we enter into this weekend and the start of the Spring Break season for many, let’s put our energies toward living and not freaking out because the proverbial “they” have not done what we we want them to. And in good time, we will have the information that we need and I will have a surgery date.

Cancer Remembered: My Peeps

This post is part of a month-long series on my cancer experience of 2013. They originally appeared on my blog at

As I’ve been on this health journey lately, I’ve also had the opportunity to reflect on the awesome people in my circle.  (Health issues have a way of making you feel sentimental. ) Like my friend and mentor Richard said about himself, “My circle is big.” One thing that I am honestly thankful for is that the past 30 years or so have brought fabulous people in my life. So, because I love these people, and I know you’d love them if you knew them, I’m going to tell you about them!

The Class of ’90
I know a lot a people have fond memories of high school, but you definitely missed out if you weren’t a part of the Class of 1990 at Francis Parker. We are a class of 70 people who still LOVE each other. We stay in touch with each other, we support each other across the miles, and we actually look forward to our reunions. And you know what else, we don’t look a day over 29….well maybe 30.
Oh, and let me say this…anyone who EVER went to Francis Parker is amazing,
Tougaloo Alums
I know that when I mention my Mississippi heritage and college connections, a lot of people are confused as to how a state with such negative connotations can be a positive place for me. It’s simple: because of the people. My ancestors and family elders overcame a lot in that state and while much of their suffering was due to racial oppression, they still found a way to own land, get educated, and help others out of their circumstances. I will always consider Mississippi my second home after Chicago, and love it when I get to visit. Tougaloo Alums are the some of the smartest people you will ever meet. Their intellectual pedigree is second to none. I know that sounds a bit extreme, but it is true. Especially if you have a medical situation. They really, really know medical stuff. Did I mention that they know the medical stuff?
The Green-Hudson-McGee Clan
When I moved to Texas in 1995, one of the first people I met was Christie. Our friendship gave us both entry into each other hearts and families. Our mother’s even have the same maiden name…so of course we use the familiar terms of “Granny, Papaw, Lala, Maxine, and Walter” when speaking of family members. This is perhaps the first time in 18 years we have lived further than 2 miles apart…well scratch that, the second time, I think. But anyway, this girl and her family get so much credit for the greatness in my life.
The Cousins
At my wedding, I had a poem dedicated to my cousins because they are amazing. I am an only child. I have 3 first cousins. We are tight. If one of us is sick, all of us is sick. Right now, we have Multiple Sclerosis and Cancer. We also have also rediscovered our childhood because one of us has 2 granddaughters. We live in Miami, Houston, Dallas, and Jackson, and we dare anyone, anyone to mess with us. Outside of the initial 4, I have plenty more cousins who are the bomb as well. Try any of us and we will cut you. Just ask Bubba, he’ll tell you.
My Work Family
To work anywhere other than the Dallas County Community College District is sad. Not because what we do is more important than other organizations, but because we are so awesome when we will work together. My DCCCD family knew Toni Williams and Toni Holloway and Toni Williams again and loved me unconditionally through it all. And here’s the thing, once you work in the DCCCD, you are always a part of us…even if you leave. I have dinner with an eclectic group of friends every so often and at one point in time we all worked at one of the colleges together. We’ve gotten married, got divorced, had babies, had schizophrenic dogs, eaten ice cream for dinner, and even dealt with serious health conditions. We don’t color in the lines, and that can be a huge frustration for some, but we don’t care. And kind of like the cousins, we may cut you if you mess with one of us too.
The Deltas
Spend five minutes with me and you will find out pretty quickly about my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. In the African American culture, greek letter organizations are lifetime commitments. I have friends who may say, “I was in a sorority in college, or I used to be a ____”
Well for us, if we joined a sorority or fraternity in college, we are still members. We still perform regular public service activities and are committed to the principles for which the organization stands.
We also have a little friendly rivalry with members in other organizations. But the rivalry is friendly. Friendly.
So I’m a Delta and I know a lot of Deltas. And we wear red and collect elephants and make loud noises. And sometimes we hang out with grown men who bark like dogs when they are happy. And you know what, CJ is in a male mentoring group with those men and I couldn’t be happier. With all of the influences he is faced with at school each day, he NEEDS to be around college-educated men who look like him. Remember, the cousins live out of town…so for Dallas male involvement, we have the Omegas. So they are in my circle too, along with the Alphas, the Kappas, the Sigmas, and the Zetas.
The Village People
Better than the group that sings “YMCA”….this is the church! I joined St. Luke Community United Methodist Church shortly after I moved to Dallas. I love being Methodist. (Mississippi friends, this church is a lot like Anderson UMC.) About 3 years ago, St. Luke expanded it’s community base and opened a satellite location in the southern
Dallas suburb of DeSoto. The kids and I started attending the southern location, which is now The Village United Methodist Church. Church is awesome from the preaching, the singing, community outreach, and the friendly folks. They will help you pray though any circumstance, and the Pastoral staff are not just ministerial icons, they are people who I know and love. The Village is definitely an important part of our lives.
Preschool and Kindergarten Mommies
I know this may sound a bit strange, but when my kids were in preschool and kindergarten, I bonded with the moms in my kids’ classes. Here we are 6-8 years later, at different schools, and we still meet for lunch, catch up over email, talk about raising chickens, and genuinely care about each other’s lives. These ladies rock, and I am better for knowing them.
Hyde Parkers (like President Obama)
To grow up in the Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park is beyond incredible. It’s multicultural, it’s lively, and the food is amazing. I will always love Hyde Park and the people in it. ALWAYS. (Sidenote on Chicago facts for non-Chicagoans: I do realize that President Obama did not grow up in Chicago, but he lived in Hyde Park and still has his house there.)
Now, there are five more people who pretty much are the circle, rather than being in the circle. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them, but they don’t like being mentioned ANYWHERE on the internet. I am eternally grateful for all of the support they’ve lent over the past 40 years as parents, family members, role models, disciplinarians, fashion consultants, and now grandparents.
So thank you for being in my circle, wherever you are. And especially thank you for joining me on this journey. Now tell me about your circle……………

It’s My Cancerversary

Over the past year, I’ve found myself thinking about what I was doing, thinking, and how I was feeling this time last year. As I’ve learned and grown a lot over the past months, I decided that the more I reflect, the more I want to share about my experiences.

January 31, 2013 was the day I was officially diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It’s not a day that I feel the need to celebrate, and frankly, it’s one that could make me reach for an extra pump of syrup in my coffee. This year, while my diagnosis day came and went, there is a day I feel the need to celebrate — JUNE 26!!!! That’s officially the day I became “cancer free.” While I don’t usually like labels, I’ll wear this one with pride!

The entire month of June, I am going to run posts from my cancer experience. During the time I was ill, I blogged on the CaringBridge website. Incidentally, if you or anyone you know is facing a health challenge, this website is a great tool of communication. That time was a great time of self discovery for me and I enjoy looking back and admiring my strength and courage.

And about said strength and courage…I was scared. Even looking back now, I have no clue how I was able to sound so confident. But God.

I hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane with me. And I hope it blesses you or someone you know.


Smiling For My Friends

I love it when my friends conquer their fears, meet their goals, and just do some really cool things. My real-life friends and fellow blogger Biranda just wrote a book. How cool is that? And because I’m smiling for her…I kind of decided to interview her.
ME: How did you come up with the idea to write a book?
BEE: I began this journey 4 years ago, writing by hand in a notebook. After about 3 pages, I put it down. Well my youngest brother Marcus asked to use the notebook.  Of course I let him use it; one thing led to another and I forgot about the notebook, not completely, but it was something I put on my bucket list–something I would get to one day. Then my brother Marcus called me one day, about 3 years later and said, “Bee, when are you going to finish the book?” I said, “What book?”
And he began to read the 3 pages I had written years before, the words that I had forgotten, the rising plot that I had been so anxious to see pan out. That’s how it all began.
ME: How did you go about the writing process?
BEE: This is my first time writing a novel, so looking back on the process, I was all over the place. I started out writing every night and then letting my daughter edit what I  wrote. As the book began to take on a life of its own, I began writing when the inspiration would hit me. But I made sure I touched the story in some way, everyday, whether it was doing research or reading a chapter to a family member. Now that I have finished the book and am weeks away from releasing it, I know that having a scheduled time to write is important, for me at least. With “City of the Guardians: Introducing Alex Honor”, I would finish a complete chapter before moving on to the next. I am taking a different approach with the second book of the COTG series. I have written 3 chapters for the next series but they aren’t complete, I will come back to them as the ideas come to me. Instead of being stuck/having writers block, I just keep it moving.
ME: How long did it take you to write the book?
BEE: I started the book May of 2012 and finished Mother’s Day of 2013.
ME: Your daughter, Amaya, seemed to be a big inspiration for you in writing the book? How did she impact this project?
BEE: Amaya was a HUGE part of this book. I truly believe one of the reasons God placed her in my life was for this specific project. I was working at a restaurant called Outback Steakhouse and no matter how hard I worked, I never made a substantial amount in tips, ie: $36, $25. It was very disheartening. Then when I would come home and  take care of my little boy who was around 8 or 9 months at the time and he wasn’t sleeping through the night. Needless to say, I was exhausted and would fall asleep on the couch with my son in my arms. Amaya would wake me up and say, “Mama, you gotta write. Mama, wake up. You need to write.” She was my inspiration. She saw my dream for City of the Guardians, when no one else did. Amaya has always believed in me and my work. I am utterly thankful and blessed to call her my daughter. Amaya’s future’s so bright, sometimes I wonder why God gave her to me.
ME:  So far, I’ve read two chapters of the book. The character, RIP, gave me the chills. Do you think that all the characters live within us?
BEE: Ooohh, good question. This is  of the things I look forward to most, being able to delve into the characters and how they relate to us all. Rip represents Rage and is a very bad Guardian. He is supposed to give you chills because what he stands for is not something we want to come in contact with. Unfortunately we see his presence  all the time, like when the nightly news reports on a family being killed by a relative or a person shooting up a school. It’s something that I wish didn’t exist but reality says otherwise. I believe we all have experienced each of the characters in one form or another. I know we don’t like to admit it but if you could replay your life, it is guaranteed that there have been moments when you desired the worst  for someone who may have hurt you or a loved one. Not to say you acted on it or even still feel the same way now, but in that moment there was a whisper that wanted you to get Vengence (Vile), Hate (Hurl) someone or caused you to feel Guilty (Gib) about something.
The thing about the Guardians is that they all represent emotions we as a society have dealt with. My mission is to expose the whispers that we sometimes ignore because we are not inclined to listen to that gut instinct or in the case of the “bad whispers,” we think they are the right thoughts at that moment. Everyone knows right from wrong and everyone will be faced with a decision to make, most times on a daily basis. City of the Guardians: Introducing Alex Honor is spiritually based, but I don’t push that because I don’t want an Athiest/Non-Believer to pass it up because it’s labeled as a “Religious” book. I want them to read it too and maybe have a change of heart.
ME: Do you have a favorite character? Who is it?
BEE: Right now my favorite character is Mica because he is the most different of all the Guardians. Mica represents Mercy but he isn’t the soft spoken type. He is very direct and about his business. The characteristic that will stick out most about Mica is his hair. It’s solid white and is constantly blowing, whether he’s outside or not, there is a breeze about him wherever he goes.
ME:  After you write, you must then go through the publishing process. What’s that like?
BEE: I published with a company called Xulon Press. It is a type of Vanity Press in which the author pays a publishing company to publish their book. The process was strenuous because of all the approvals and decisions you have to make. They do what you ask and the rest is up to you. So if you don’t proof your Book Cover well, and it ends up having a typo, that’s on you. The author has the final say on everything. Also, all the marketing is on the author. A Vanity Press will give you outlets and suggestions, but they all come at a price. In the end, I am responsible for making sure the world knows about COTG. I am responsible to getting people interested in it and pushing the brand.
ME: Do you already have ideas for the next book?
BEE: Yes, I have already started on Book 2 and have a good idea of how the series will end. The journey continues and the best is yet to be read.
ME:  What advice do you have for up and coming writers?
BEE: I would tell up and coming authors to write because they love to do it. Don’t write because you want to become rich, if it’s your passion, pursue it, otherwise don’t waste your time. It’s hard and sometimes disappointing but also very rewarding. I will continue to write even if not one person buys by book. I love to write, that’s how I express myself best.
Next, I would tell them to surround themselves with people who can help them achieve their goal. People who believe in them and who can give advice about the craft.
Last but definitely not least, get plugged in to the social media scene, ie Facebook, Twitter, and any other avenue of networking. I have met and connected with so many people, some of whom have pre-ordered my book @
If you are interested in learning more about City of the Guardians, check out Biranda here:
Twitter: @beelkirk
Keep smiling Bee!

Dinner, Encouragement, Stalkers, and Blogger-Authors

Here’s the post I’ve been promising for a while. The stalker story. Get ready….I am certain you will laugh, just certain. In my defense though, I need you to know a little background. If you read a lot of blogs, you will soon discover that bloggers write a lot about their personal lives and experiences. If they have a blog and they’ve authored a book or two, they probably have divulged more about their lives than if they were meeting you for the first time at the grocery store.

So, if you’ve followed a blog and read books by the same author for the past 5-6 years, then you know them. Really well. Because typically they’ve blogged and shared about enough of their lives that you feel like you know them. But what you actually have is a “virtual friendship.” Which is fine.

Unless they live in your town, shop at your grocery store, and went to high school with friends of yours. Then that virtual relationship takes on a new turn….because now not only do you know them, you know a lot about them.

Last January, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It took us a while to get to the thyroid cancer diagnosis…we went through Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, thymoma, thyroid lymphoma, and eventually ended up with thyroid cancer. So amidst my recent diagnosis of “something cancerous,” a group of friends and I got together for dinner. We talked, we laughed, we cried, and we prayed through this uncertain diagnosis.

One of my friends is on the planning committee for a huge church women’s conference in Dallas every year. One of my favorite bloggers and authors usually speaks at this conference. So in this dinner conversation, I asked my friend if planning for the conference had started, and if my author was speaking this year. The answers were yes and yes.

I then exclaimed, “I LOVE HER. I love her books, She is awesome.” And would you believe that there were people around the dinner table that did not know much about her? So I jumped in and told them her story. A story that I’ve read about over the years. I was so thorough that my friend who knew her didn’t even know all of that. But it was in her books, it’s on her blog. She’s very transparent that way.

So my friends said, “Are you sure you don’t internet stalk her?” “Of course not, I exclaimed! She writes this stuff of her own free will. She wants me to know it.”

Right. I personalized it and decided that she and I were friends. Because I kind of never thought I’d meet her or anyone in her family in person. Until this happened…sigh.

My friend’s daughter attends the same school as one of the author’s kids. They also know each other from church. My friend saw her in the hallway at the school and told her my story. She asked her to call me. And being the wonderful person she is, she did call me.

I was on a high for about 4 days after talking to “the author.” My life was good. And I would still read her blog posts and her books. And she called me to check on me. Whew! Until I saw her a local coffee shop. Cheryl and I were there together and she does a really good imitation of me almost choking on my coffee when I saw her.

So I introduced myself to her as the cancer girl that she called. And we hugged. And we took a picture together. That high lasted about 10 days.

Then, I noticed she was speaking at a church near my house. I decided to go hear her as I’ve only read her books and the blog. And I already had my photo with her…so I really was just going to hear her speak. I really was, y’all.

Now let me tell you that she also has friends and a sister who write really good blogs. So I started following them as well because she links to them sometimes. And then, we know about their lives as well. And to top it all off, we even know they do things like go shopping together. That’s just how blogger friends are.

Back to the local church. I went to hear her speak and when I pulled on the parking lot of a church I had never been to, I parked my car and looked up as another car pulled in the same time I did. Guess who it was? The author. We parked right next to each other. I couldn’t believe it. So as we got out of our cars at the same time…I had to speak to her. Right?

And because we’re cool like that, we hugged. See, this is were the problem lies. I make jokes. So what I should have just said is since she is a hugger, we hugged. And I think at this point, she probably recognized my face.

Then in May she had a new book and bible study release. And she was speaking at yet another local church about the new book. And I went. And afterwards, she greeted the people. I wanted to get my book signed. And I did.

But this time. SHE REMEMBERED ME. I was Toni, the thyroid cancer girl with three kids. She looked at my neck swelling, she hugged me, and she asked about the kids.

All of this happened between me and a local celebrity in less than 4 months. And then her sister wrote a book.

You see where this is going. I’ve been following her sister’s blog for a while too. And…my friend Christie attended high school with the sister-blogger-authors. So now I know them…I really know them. And I think they have been very instrumental to my spiritual growth. Oh yeah — I introduced myself to the sister blogger author because her daughter attends my college. (She blogged about it once). And I told her if she ever needed anything to call me.

Oh friends…the world we live in is just too small. It really is.

So because I know both sister-blogger-authors, I want to support them in the stuff they do. And we talk over social media. And from time to time we could see each other in the grocery store…or the coffee shop. And then there was the flash mob…and we were all there together. And the list of coincidences go on and on…so now I know them. And I know a lot about them. And I’m not stalking them. If they read my blogs, they’d know enough about me that would be stalker material too. Because that’s how we bloggers are. Yep.

And if another celebrity comes around…well, you never know. 🙂