Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Updates, appearances and the AHA

First of all I want to thank all of you that are calling and emailing to check on my father. His condition can best be described as "improving". We were so happy to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his pastorate at our church in Conway on the 27th. I was so honored to be able to speak during the morning service, and tell him publicly just how proud I am of what he has done with his life. We had a state senator, the mayor of Conway and several community and church leaders come and speak about what an incredible ministry my father has had. As wonderful as the day was it was exhausting for dad. When I came home from Chicago I was honestly shocked to see him so thin and pale. He is extremely anemic, and that has to improve before his chemo can begin. Sundays activities really drained him further, and he has spent the last three days in bed resting. We will meet with his oncologist next week to determine how his counts are doing, and when his chemo will begin.

This last week has been amazing in many ways. My friends at the AHA have been thrilled with the news that I was crowned Mrs. International. My advocacay leader Barbie Kumpe is out having knee replacement surgery. I am anxious for her to get back so we can move ahead with out plans for the 2009 session. Marlene Vadjunec is our metro executive director, and is thrilled that Mrs. International is in her home state. We have many events coming up for the 2009 season, that I cannot wait to be part of as the representative of the International system. The festival of wines is always our first event of the season, and of course Kevin and I are in the thick of the planning season for the '09 Heart Ball.

I've started what will no doubt be a wonderful year of incredible appearances. My first was to film a knew segment for the home page of the "Go Red" website. I cannot wait to see the completed piece, and see it go up on the website. It should wrap the end of this week. I also had an interview with our state NBC affiliate, which gave me a chance to really talk about what makes the Mrs. International system "the" system for married women . I also had an interview with our state newspaper which will come out this Sunday, and an interview with AY Magazine, a statewide periodical, which will come out in September. It has been an incredible and incredibly busy two weeks, and I cannot wait to see what is to come! I still marvel at this opportunity, and feel so blessed to be living this dream that I have had for so long. God is good!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Arkansas Moving Toward 2009 Session

The 2009 Legislative session will be a busy one for the American Heart Association, with three major issues on the agenda. The first is the creation of a statewide trauma system. Such a system would allow Arkansas to properly treat strokes and other traumatic brain injuries. Currently, Arkansas does not have a statewide trauma system or a level one trauma center. Last session legislators could not come to an agreement on the funding for the system therefore no legislation was approved. However, several funding streams are currently being discussed in preparation for legislation in 2009.

Contact your legislators and let them know how important this issue is for Arkansas.

Next on our agenda is funding for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for all schools in Arkansas. Representatives Janet Johnson and Sandra Prater have taken the lead on this issue, and are reviewing information to determine how best to move forward with funding for schools across Arkansas.

Encourage your representative to work to fund AEDs in all schools in AR.

Finally, Arkansas' tobacco tax is well below the national average — just 59 cents compared to a national average of $1.18 according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Not only is price a big deterrent to youth smoking (for every 10 cents you increase the tax you can see a 7 to 10 percent decrease in consumption), Arkansas is leaving dollars on the table that could be used to provide much needed health disparities programs that reach into communities all across Arkansas.

We will keep you updated as this issue advances in preparation for the 2009 legislative session.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mrs. International 2008!!!

As I sit at my desk typing these words I am filled with more emotions than I can articulate. I have been raised in the knowledge that for everything there is a time, a purpose and a season. For me, this is the time and season to be Mrs. International 2008 and I vow to carry out those duties with purpose.

The International system has always been the penultimate of married women’s pageants. They, as an organization, represent all that is best in pageantry. Mel and Mary Richardson have an unwavering dedication to ethics and integrity, and a desire to use their forum to showcase the most beautiful attributes of married women; strength and purpose. They and their staff are to be commended for their beliefs, their commitment to excellence, and their incredible love and compassion.

I was so honored to compete in the Mrs. International pageant this year. I knew beforehand that I was going to be among a field of unbelievably accomplished, educated and passionate women. Upon arrival that reality was even more evident as I spoke with women like Cynthia Ducett who has dedicated her life to preventing drug abuse in teens since losing her daughter to a tragic overdoes; Shannon Devine who has dedicated herself to spreading the life saving message of organ and tissue donation; Sasha Townsend who has a passion for raising children in a healthy environment, and supporting them through the worst of times; Michelle Beckwith whose personal loss has empowered her to become a passionate spokesperson and activist on behalf of prostate cancer victims across the nation. I could go on and on and on, but the knowledge that I was singled out as the representative for a group such as this is overwhelming, unbelievable and amazingly humbling. And not only were all of the contestant spiritually beautiful, they were all physically beautiful as well! Everyone glowed from the inside, and there were some of the most beautiful evening gowns I have ever seen in my life on that stage. What an incredible event it was! Matt Davenport and his production team outdid themselves this year. The new PR firm, WPRK, organized several outings for the group that really made all of us feel so special. And of course, Mel, Mary and their staff were glorious to work with.

It is an unimaginable honor to have been chosen to represent this system this year. The International system has partnered with “Go Red for Women” as their national platform. I cannot begin to express what that means to me! As I left the stage after my crowning photos I was presented with my Swarovski “Go Red” dress pin from Monica Flores, the national head of “Go Red”. That was the moment of the evening that moved me to tears. After spending eight years with the AHA I am going to be able to spend this year as their “face”. God is amazing! There truly is a time, a season, and a purpose for everything.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The best of bad news!

Sorry for the delay in my updates to you. I have been at the hospital with dad in the CCU unit at every available moment. The pathology came back from dads cancer, and it was indeed the best of bad news! The cancer is stage 1A, and had not spread to the surrounding lymph system. PRAISE GOD!!! This last week has been more emotionally and physically exhausting than anything I could have ever imagined. For the last seven days we have been through countless tests, and each day has seemed to be endless hours of waiting to hear just how bad, or prayerfully, how good the outcome would be. We now know that my father is in the best situation in which one can be when the diagnosis is lung cancer. The oncologist has strongly recommended four full rounds of strong chemotherapy. None of us are looking forward to that treatment, but we also know that this cancer is aggressive, and tends to metastasize in the brain, liver or bone. Chemotherapy should greatly reduce the risk of it's return. We praise God daily for the miracle of the discovery of the cancer at such an early stage. Dad's prognosis is great. Now, we anticipate the journey through his recovery and look forward to celebrating his cure.

The Heart Association is and always will be my passion. I've devoted almost a decade of my life in service to the AHA, and to educating women to the dangers they face from this killer, and I look forward to many decades more. During dads illness I have still been attending meetings and having phone conferences with the lobbyist group, and the heart ball committee. I've been told that our Health Initiatives team, of which I am a member, will definitely be travelling to the UK to meet in person with the Rt. honorable Dawn Primarolo in February of 2009. I'm honored and ecstatic; I've never been to the UK and can think of no better reason for my first trip "over the pond". But, I'm also really looking forward to forming my fist ever Relay for Life team. It will be an honor to devote some of my volunteer hours in honor of my father. Kevin, Mom, Leigh and I will relish the opportunity to honor and repay him for the hours of support he has given to us all. Watch out cancer; here we come.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Update on dad

Dad had his surgery today and Praise to God it went very smoothly. It began at 12:30, and was over around 5:00. The entire lower lobe of the left lung was removed, along with all of the lymph system surrounding the area. The surgeon told us that he saw no visible evidence of cancer in the lymph structure. We should have the pathology back from both the growth in the lung and the lymphatic system surrounding it within about 48 hours. Our prayer is that God continue to be with my father as he recovers, and give him the strength that he will need as his treatment continues. We are anticipating radiation and one full round of chemotherapy. We will know more once the staging process is complete. Until then, let me extend my personal thanks to each of you who have reached out with emails, phone calls and notes. You have no idea what your kindness and love means to me at this moment. It is your support and encouragement that are carrying me through this difficult and terrifying time. I treasure each word, and each of you! Please excuse my brevity; my entire family and I are exhausted. I know God will give us the strength we need to endure for dad through this time. Love to you all-Laine

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Prayers for my father

July has always been an important month to my family. My beautiful sister, 8 years my junior, was born on the first of this month. My mother underwent her triple bypass surgery and began the journey to a healthy life in this same 31 day period, and we have always celebrated my father’s birth on the 12th with delight.

My father and I are just alike. We think alike, we talk alike, our physical characteristics are almost identical (thanks for the short waist dad!). I inherited my love of public speaking, and my heart for the public from him. My father is an amazing man. He graduated from high school in 1966 at the top of his class. His ACT score was one point shy of perfect, and his SAT earned him a spot on the list of National Merit Scholars for that year. He led his debate team all through high school, and it was his skill in that field that aid his way through what was then Central State University in Edmond Oklahoma. His intended career field was medicine. My father dreamed of being a cardiovascular surgeon, an irony that would not go unnoticed in years to come. God had other plans. After finishing college, once again at the top of his class, my father surrendered to the ministry. He received his masters of Theology and Philosophy from Southwestern Theological Seminary on Fort Worth Texas in 1974, when I was one year old.

My father has always been the grounding force in my life. In the most important and difficult moments in my life he has been a stalwart against the storm. It was my father that pulled me from the wreckage of our car when a drunk driver hit us when I was four years old, and I was pinned between the dash and steering wheel. It was my father who taught me to ride a bike, swing a bat, and love my neighbor. My father is a living example of what it means to be a “Christian”. It was my father who held my mothers hand as the healed from her bypass surgery, and who encouraged my sister and I while we watched her struggle for her life. It has been my father on many occasions that attended American Heart Association and TWTH events when my precious husband was unable, to take photos or video, or just be a supportive face.

My father has lung cancer. My amazingly gifted father, who has devoted his life to service, who has never smoked a cigarette or worked in an asbestos factory, has lung cancer. He was diagnosed on the fourth of July with adenocarcinoma. A fluke in a test meant to uncover problems in his heart found it extremely early. We thank God for the miracle of that. He will undergo surgery on Tuesday to remove the bottom lobe of his left lung, and it will be determined what directions we need to go after that to prayerfully have a full recovery. It is hard to believe I am actually writing these words, but to do so is in it's own way cathartic.

So many of you are faithful friends and followers of my blog and Taking Wellness to Heart. I ask that you keep all of us in your prayers at this time, and that you especially have my father, David Hatfield, in your thoughts.

Most sincerely and with love, Laine