Friday, August 1, 2014

No waiting....

Ahhh...a beautiful day.  A gorgeous day walking through Kefauver Park.  As usual many women are walking as well.  Most of the time in two's or three's, talking about life and kids and work and husbands.  While in own little world I overheard something irrational and unfortunately something I've have heard many times, "I'm not having a mammogram.  I'm afraid of what the results may be."

As they continued walking and chatting I thought to myself:  What's worse than being afraid of what the results may be?  Finding out you do actually have a problem!  A problem which may have been easily treated if caught early, now, has more difficult decisions to be made on how to tackle because it's been postponed.

Because of family history and personal history I've had annual mammograms since I was around 25.  The lesson that can be learned through my diagnosis of breast cancer?  Time.  A lesson of time.  My mammogram at 37 was clear, clean of any issues.  Just a little over one year later when I was 38 I had an almost four inch tumor in my right breast.  The cancer was found with what was to be my last mammogram ever, in my life. 

What if I'd told myself after the mammogram when I was 37, "I can wait a couple years for my next.  I'm only 37.  This one was ok.  No need for one at 38.  I'm young."  What would my cancer been like if I'd have waited?  Obviously it was fast growing as only a year separated my tests.  Treatment for a tumor like mine was bad enough.  Hmmmm....I'm afraid of what the results would have been if I'd went without a mammogram, putting it off for another year.

So the next time you hear someone say, or think yourself, I'm afraid of having an essential yearly checkup, "I'm not having it.  I'm afraid of what the results may be."  Say to the person, or tell yourself, that putting the test off may have terrible consequences.  Much worse than the irrational fear of what something might be.

 2011. My last treatment of Herceptin after a year
of chemo and radiation.  It's over.....

Let's Take a Journey to Dollywood with Colton. All you need to know!!

Colton wanted photo at each Dollywood sign.

There isn't a bigger Dollywood fan than my nephew Colton.  (Well. Maybe my sister. And me!)  This week's "Let's Take a Journey" will probably be the most detailed we'll have on the blog--because of the enthusiasm of Colton.

Wanna know all about Dollywood?  Then read "Let's Take a Journey to Dollywood with Colton":

1. Tell us about your trip:
You can take backpacks into the park.
    Dollywood is a theme park located in the Great Smoky Mountains and is a place designed around family fun and entertainment.  Dolly Parton (one of my favorite people ever!) is the face of the park and has added her personal mountain touches for a special and unique experience.  It is about an hour and twenty minutes from Madisonville, TN, give or take a little depending on the traffic.

2. Approximate cost:
    Tickets are pricey at Dollywood, but there are discounts.  One day admission runs around $40-$60 depending on ages and amounts.  In most cases a fast food chain offers a $5 discount on their cup and there is often a discount on Coco-Cola products.  They also offer military discounts, senior discounts, and check with your local AAA chapter for tickets (they don't offer the discount directly with AAA but give them to chapters.)  They also offer multi-day and multi-park tickets that can save you a lot of money.  And a season pass is cheaper than two one day tickets.  If you plan multiple visits, check onto a Gold season pass, it entitles free parking and 20% off food and merchandise.  Food is also pricy in the park.  I will give food tips later on.  And always drink water on a hot keeps you hydrated and IT'S FREE!  (The only thing that is!)  Parking is $10 for cars and it's higher for RVs.

3. Fitness Level (if applicable):
   Although Dollywood is a place for vacation, I would recommend your best walking shoes as it is a large park.  In the warm months I recommend sandals so you can walk comfortably, avoid blisters, and ride the water rides (my fav!).

Colton wanted photo at each Dollywood sign.
One of my, Marna's, fav things.
4. Equipement:
    I always bring a dry box (found in the outdoor section at Wal-Mart), it makes it easier to keep up with things and it keeps them dry on the wet rides.  I also always bring a change of clothes for the end of the day, and never buy one of the overpriced lockers at the entrance of the park.  They run around $4, and each water ride has lockers for 25 cents.  I always put my stuff in the River Rampage lockers and come back at the end of the day to change.  For children, a lot of people bring strollers.  They seem handy and it would be a good place to keep your items.  You can bring your own or rent one there, and they also have scooters and electric wheelchairs for those that need them.

5. Things to bring:
    Keep you load light, but prepared.  Definitely bring your camera, plenty of money or a credit card, sunglasses, sunscreen (usually applying before going works for me and I burn easily), a big appetite, and a thirst for thrill.  Dollywood is famous for good food!  My absolute favorite place to eat is Aunt Granny's Buffet.  It is $16, but has anything and everything in country cooking.  It seems pricy but that includes your drink, and the full buffet.  By the time you buy a sandwich, side, drink, and dessert elsewhere it will cost more.  And bring your adventurous side because the park has some great rides.  Each ride has a special theme and is sure to give a good time.  One busy days it would probably pay off to rend the Q2Q Bot, which cuts line for you.  They cost $20 per person and are good for rides and front row seats in theaters.

Colton wanted photo at each Dollywood sign.

6. Age appropriate:
    Dollywood is great for all ages!  There are kiddie rides, theaters, good eats, water rides, shopping, and so much more!  Dollywood has something for everyone!

7. Favorite things:
   What is there not to love?  My favorite things are: the shows ("Dreamland Drive-In" to be specific, "Christmas in the Smokies" at Christmas time), (Aunt Granny's Buffet, and the famous Cinnamon Bread at the Grist Mill-it's to die for!!), and the rides (Blazing Fury, TN Tornado, Daredevil Falls, Rider Rampage, Dizzy Disc, and Scrambler are a few of my faves.)  Dollywood also has various things that many other places don't offer that makes a visit extra special.  Things like Dipping Your Own Candles, and a visit with Ms. Lillian are sure to make a memory.  Dollywood also has "Free Package Pickup" so when you purchase merchandise in the park and don't want to carry it around, the store will send it to the exit and have it waiting for you as you leave, it's very convenient!  And if going with a youngster be sure to have them measured as you enter the park and they will place a colored wristband on them so you automatically know what they can ride.

8. Go Again? Tips? Suggestions?

I don't like to get wet.  Colton does.
   Living around an hour away I go back around ten times a year!  the park has various festivals throughout the season, and each one deserves a visit!  Christmas time is amazing with over 4 million carefully placed lights, and amazing shows!  Never plan your day according to the weather.  East TN is never consistent and even the stormy days are fun because there are theaters, and it usually passes within an hour (all the non locals leave with one rain cloud!)  Do be sure to grab a map and show schedule when entering.  The shows are not to be missed!  (Hopefully you will see me on one of the stages performing one day!!)  Try to avoid the weekends!  It is always more crowded then and can make long lines.  Another tip is visit Splash Country if spending a couple of nights in Pigeon Forge during the summer months.  It's a little cheaper and has some amazing water rides and attractions!