One Day More

One Day More

“Let each thing you would do, say or intend be like that of a dying person.” – Marcus Aurelius

I love that quote!

My daughter Kimbo taught a lesson at church a few weeks ago entitled “One Day More.”  She posed the question: “What would you do if you only had one day to live?”  This hit home because I have been thinking a lot lately about my actions, reactions, and thoughts.  After her lesson, I asked myself if my actions are the same now that I have been given more time since my Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) diagnosis in May 2012.  TNBC is very aggressive and has a poor prognosis compared to other types of breast cancer.  A large percentage of people with TNBC have a re-occurrence within the first three years.  I just passed my six year mark of being declared NED (No evidence of disease) and my doctors at Duke consider me one of their success stories.  Yes … I have been granted more time for the second time in my life … the first was in 1964 when I had to have an emergency “Venous Cutdown” after after a surgical procedure because I was hemorrhaging and in shock!

We know death is inevitable … we just don’t know when it’s our turn.  This is one thing in life that affects each one of us … whether we are rich, poor, gay, straight, Christian, Atheist, black or white … in the end, none of us survive in this life.  If we lived everyday with this in mind, I believe it would change our actions, reactions, and thoughts. I know that every moment counts … but I still need to remind myself every once in a while that the small stuff really doesn’t matter.

One Day More 1

Let me ask a few questions… If you knew that it was the last time you would ever speak to your friend, relative, or neighbor, would you change the conversation? If you knew you’d be seeing them for the last time, how would you feel? How would you interact with them? Would you grumble, complain, criticize, hold grudges, have a chip on your shoulder?  Would you gossip about others? Would a big car, a nice house, a high-paying job, a cool computer, the newest iPhone, or nice clothes really matter?  I’m not saying they aren’t important … but just ask yourself if they would matter on your last day on earth.

If you were going to die tomorrow, how would that change things for you? Would you let go of the petty stuff you hold on to? Would your priorities change? Would your thoughts change?

What would matter to you? I know what would matter to me!  If I knew it was my last day to be alive (and it could be!) I would cherish every moment.  I would love my family and friends and take time to be with them.  I would live in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest. I wouldn’t waste a moment worrying about things that are out of my control.  I would just appreciate the moments I have been given.  That is what I’ve tried my best to do since May 19, 2012.

When was the last time you told your family and friends that you love them, or spent quality time with them? If you are going to die tomorrow and you are given just one phone call, who would you call and what would you say? … What are you waiting for? … Go call them now! (I do not mean text them either!)

One Day More 2

I challenge you to live like every second is your last. Life is already too short, there is no need to waste our precious time. Live, love, appreciate, and be in the moment. Let go of all the negative thoughts, grudges, hate, gossip, and worry because after all, if it was your last day, those things would not matter. So… make time for the things that do matter. If you give your best effort to live this way, you will be happy.

This life that you have been granted by a loving Heavenly Father is a gift.  A gift to be cherished.  Enjoy it now … to the fullest.  Do what matters now! Live every day like it will be your very last! Didn’t someone make a hit song about that?

Just saying ….

Hope Makes a Difference


I have been told over and over in my life that “information is power” … maybe so, but I firmly believe that there is power in Hope!

Let’s go back in history for a moment.  On December 17, 1927, the USS S-4 submarine was conducting routine drills off the coast of Massachusetts and attempting to resurface when it smashed into a U.S. Coast Guard destroyer. According to Wikipedia: The sub sank immediately, and drowned 34 of the 40 men on board. Six men in the forward torpedo room survived and communicated with divers by tapping in Morse code on the sub’s hull, but severe weather delayed the rescue and the trapped survivors died after three days.

From this torpedo room the trapped men did their best to communicate with anyone that would be able to help them.  While crews worked diligently on the surface to free the sailors from their underwater prison, divers were sent into the water to see what options they had.  While underwater, one of the divers heard tapping that was determined to be Morse code.  The sailors inside the torpedo room kept repeating the same question, “Is… there… any…hope…?”

For the men in that torpedo room on that submarine, hope was the difference between life and death.  They hoped to be rescued.  Hope is the only thing that is stronger than fear!  Quoting Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “Hope is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances.  It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn.”


Throughout my life Hope has given me the power to keep moving, to fight another day, and to put one foot in front of the other.  Hope has always given me a quiet assurance that my circumstances can and will change.  We need to be positive and remember that anyone without hope lives in defeat.

Look at your life … I look at my life quite often!  By looking we will see that hope has the power to change everything.  It may not be the difference between life and death, as it was for the sailors on the submarine, but the outcomes of our decisions drastically alter our future.

When I think about hope I always think of the words from Jim Valvano at the very first ESPYs in 1993, when he received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.  Last month as my family was leaving NC Special Olympic Village on NC State’s Campus, in the dark I walked past a life size statue of Jim Valvano.  I immediately asked my son to take a photo of me and Jim.  It was a good teaching moment for two of my grandchildren when they me asked who was “that man.”


I have never been a NC State fan … but I am definitely a Jim Valvano fan.  His words of Hope carried me through my Triple Negative Breast Cancer treatments six years ago.  I know I have recited this to you many times … but it is definitely worth repeating:

“When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special. ….. It’s so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it. ….. I urge all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get your emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm,” to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality. ….. My motto is, “Don’t give up . . . don’t ever give up.” And that’s what I’m going to try to do every minute that I have left. I will thank God for the day and the moment I have. If you see me, smile and maybe give me a hug. That’s important to me too. … I know, I gotta go, I gotta go; and I got one last thing, and I said it before, and I’m gonna say it again. ….. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”

No wiser nor profound words ever spoken.  When we have hope we see a different future for ourselves … one where our problems, issues and failings are not the leading headlines in our lives.  But we must remember that hope requires us to be patient and let our loving Heavenly Father work out the details of our circumstances.

I love the words of President Russell M. Nelson from a devotion he gave at BYU.  He said: “If we will cling to the anchor of hope, it will be our safeguard forever.”  I love that word: FOREVER!

So, let me ask the question:  What can having hope do for you? From my years of experience, I believe I have the answer!  Hope shines its brightest when you are looking for the light at the end of a tunnel of despair. 

Hope will motivate you when you are discouraged and feel lost.  Hope helps you endure hardship when you feel that no one cares.  Hope helps you climb the mountains of adversity when no one seems to be helping. Hope will energize you when you are tired and feel you can’t go on.  I am so thankful that I have allowed hope to guide me each day of my journey here on earth. I can never thank those in my life who shared their hope with me and kept me optimistic. Now it’s time for you to give Hope a place in your life.  It’s worth it!


Hope is a force that’s wild and free. It can’t be contained; it can’t be explained. When things are at their darkest, remember that hope is at its strongest. Never underestimate the power of hope.

Just saying …

As a note: If you enjoy reading my post, please leave me your email address in the appropriate box to the right.  Thanks for your comments too!

Advice to my Younger Self

Younger Phyllis

It has been a long time since my last blog post. I’ve been busy enjoying life, but I’m certainly ready to return to blogging! A special thanks to all the folks that have encouraged me to get back to my blog (mainly you Brother “A”).

I have had ideas to blog about, but I was never around a computer when those thoughts came to me… and I refuse to type a blog on my small iPhone keyboard. Trust me… you wouldn’t be able to read it! Unfortunately, by the time I got in front of a computer, the thoughts had vanished… blame it on OLD AGE! But this topic has made its way from my brain, to the computer, and now to your device! Here we go…

We all have had at least one event in our lives that caused an awakening of sorts… a point where you begin to see what really matters most in your life. This has happened six times in my life: my father’s suicide, my mother’s death, my husband’s cancer diagnosis and death, my younger sister’s death just two years ago, and my own Triple Negative Breast Cancer diagnosis six years ago last month. Each of these events profoundly changed my life. They forced me to assess my life to see where I succeeded, where I failed, and what opportunities I missed. It forced me to define what I loved and what changes I needed in my life. From this, I would make a new plan for the rest of my life. I believe I am now on “Plan G!”

While driving home from Wilmington last Sunday night, I began thinking about my life and where I thought I was headed. I thought that if I could go back in time, I would pay more attention to some of the real-life advice my mother had given me. My mom did not have the best life, but she made a difference in the lives of many. Growing up, she would repeat things over and over again… but like any other kid, I never took them seriously! But now that I am older, I realize the value in all that advice she gave me. It provided guidance for my ever-changing life. So, as I drove home, I considered three pieces of advice my mother gave to me that had the biggest impact on my life. And now I can share it with my grandchildren… and you!


1. Believe in Yourself – The best advice my mother gave me was to not let other’s opinions about me change who I am… but to believe in myself. Oh my gosh… as I left the house I would hear her say, “Remember who you are and what you stand for!” … then she would always add “a daughter of God!” And now my kids have heard me say that thousands of times too! She stressed that it doesn’t matter what others think of you… it’s what you think of yourself that really matters. People’s opinions should never matter in who you believe you are as long as you carry yourself with high morals, respect, and good character. Everyone encounters highs and lows… but these things do not last forever. I have learned that by believing in myself, I can enjoy the peaks, pull myself out of the low valleys, and keep moving forward. Everyone has regrets. But along with believing in myself, my mom reminded me that “who you are today does not define you forever.” That advice alone has carried me through life and helped me believe in myself. Every day is an opportunity to be better than the day before. Some of the best advice I’ve heard is from a speech by Jeffrey R. Holland.  He said:  “God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams … just as He always has.  But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream.  In short, He can’t if you don’t believe.”

2053162. Be Respectful and Loving to Everyone – My mother always preached to look for the good in people… it is easy to find. Then she would say to let that good rub off on me. She always reminded my sisters and me to be kind, be empathetic, be compassionate… and then she would say: “be strong in your conviction—stand up for what is good in the world.” How many times have I heard her say… “Be in the world, but not of the world!” She must have known what the world would be like now that I’m grown. She loved to quote the Bible too. “Do unto others as you would like them to do to you!” Her message was to always show love and respect to everyone who comes into your life no matter their circumstance. We are all human. We all bleed red, and we all come from the same loving Heavenly Father. I believe my mom was the first person to ever tell me that “people will forget how you look but they’ll never forget how you made them feel!”

image3. Never Lose Hope! – I can hear her right now preaching: “Life is hard! Never give up or lose hope. And never ever underestimate the power of prayer.” My mom taught me to pray very early in life and to rely on Heavenly Father’s love, guidance, and help! That’s probably the biggest and best advice she ever gave me. My spiritual upbringing has guided me and helped me through life innumerable times. I’m definitely a believer… as I have said many times, Heavenly Father loves you… but I am definitely his favorite! I can prove it by the blessings he gives me every day.

Well, I guess I did listen to the advice given to me so many years ago! To recap: believe in yourself, be loving and respectful to all, and NEVER lose hope! Pretty good advice for any and every one. So glad my younger self listened a wee bit!

Just saying…