Lightning's Flower

Striking Down Breast Cancer Through Awareness

Leave a comment

Follow your passion

Following your passion is something Mommy was all about. She believed very strongly that we all were brought here for a reason. By doing something you enjoy and are passionate about, you maintain a peaceful mind. Furthermore, health is very important in the fight in preventing and battling cancer. We should keep our health as our top priority. My first guest post is from Omari Faulkner (yes my wonderful other half). Omari did such a great intro that without further ado, My first guest post!

Friends of Lightings Flower-

Just last year in 2012, my mother-in-law, Mable Rey, and I discussed in detail the importance of diplomacy missions and giving back to youth, both domestically and internationally. She was so excited about my first trip to Montenegro to take part in Georgetown’s 2012 Basketball Diplomacy Program. I love that she always spoke to me about how she saw basketball (and all sports) as a form of art and anyone blessed with her presence understood her love and appreciation for art.
Her connection to the earth was amazing. As we researched Montenegro together, she was amazed at the historical Old Olive Tree at Mirovica, which is claimed to be one of the oldest trees in the world, dating back more than 2000 years. She looked at me, and in her Mable voice says, “Oh my God! You have to bring me back some olives and olive oil!”

Days before the trip, Mama Rey was called home, her passing paused the world around us and I immediately knew, I could not make the trip to Eastern Europe. Then I thought about our conversations, I thought about what she would have wanted, I thought about how excited she was about this program and my love for Sports Diplomacy, and most importantly, I had to get her those olives and olive oil- they rest next to her ashes until this day and always will.

Mama Rey loved international travel, other cultures, and proclaimed they healed her in so many ways; therefore, whenever I travel internationally, I travel with a piece of her with me. Last year’s trip to Montenegro, I wore one of her beaded Asian inspired necklaces and this year, last week, I wore a leather bracelet she bought for me while in Mumbai, India.

Thank you Mama Rey for the inspiration, thank you for your beautiful daughter, and the lovely angels we have created together. You know just how much we miss your presence, but you remain alive in us all. Team Faulkner forever….

Omari Faulkner

Georgetown 2013 Basketball Diplomacy Program

On Friday, August 9, 2013, myself and six other dedicated volunteers returned from Bar, Montenegro for yet another successful Georgetown University Basketball Diplomacy Program. With program support from the United States Embassy in Podgorica, Montenegro, and continued support from Georgetown University and men’s head basketball Coach Thompson, the diplomacy program continues to advance every year.

At this year’s camp, the students from the Balkan region were very impressive; their approach to developing relationships with other campers from neighboring countries and willingness to work hard were noticeable from day one. My former Georgetown teammate Sead Dizdarevic, a native of Montenegro, has led this camp for 6 years and continues to give back to his country’s youth and stress the importance of hard work, dedication, and volunteerism.

There were many highlights to this year’s camp, one being the volunteer project. The camp participants’ energy and enthusiasm was on full display as they cleaned the recreational area and neighboring park to a local handicap day home for small children and adults. The student athletes eagerly filled bags with trash and never once complained. A shining moment came when children playing nearby, joyfully joined in and began to grab rakes and bags, also becoming members of the cleanup crew. After 45 minutes of teamwork, the campers’ work was evident. They set a positive example.

On Wednesday night, all the Georgetown and local camp coaches played a full 40-minute basketball game against the Veteran Bar, Montenegrin basketball team (my first full game in almost 5 years). As the final buzzer sounded, we scored more points in the game, but the real winners were the Montenegro Veteran team; the team consisted of players ranging from ages of 45 up to 70+. They displayed the true essence of teamwork and the importance of physical fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout life. Their mental and physical health fully supported U.S. Dr. Wilbert Cusano’s presentation on healthy living, which he presented the first day of camp. I walked away from the game truly inspired to remain healthy and active my whole life.

On the last day of camp, we were honored to have the United States Ambassador to Montenegro Sue Brown to attend the closing ceremony and speak to the importance of cultural diplomacy and building relationships.

I personally would like to thank all the youth camp participants and coaches, the United States Embassy in Montenegro, Georgetown University, and all the financial contributors to this wonderful diplomacy mission. It was a pleasure to spend the week with a great group of devoted volunteers – former Georgetown women’s basketball players-Kenya Kirkland and Monica McNutt, former Georgetown men’s basketball players- Sead Dizdarevic and Amadou Kilkenny-Diaw; current Georgetown University strength and conditioning coach Cameron Williams and health practitioner, Dr. Wilbert Cusano.

God Speed,

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair. Sport speaks to people in a language they can understand.”- Nelson Mandela.


Random Memories

I had a random memory of a time Mommy and I were up late one night making tape ties. She had a great idea for an event, so up we sat putting rows of neon tape to make these ties. All I remember about them was the strips of tape and us giving my oldest daughter a few pieces to keep her busy.

Random memories are good for the spirit. They are the type of memory that makes you smile when you think of it because it just sits there in your mind, it doesn’t have a real connector to anything other than a happy time. They are special because often times they don’t fall into our routine. Routines are fine, but to be creative we have step out of that routine. It challenges our mind. They can’t really be created, they just kind of happen.

Let your mind be peaceful. Enjoy a random memory or make a new one. They are the things that keep a smile in our heart and keep loved ones alive when they are no longer here to make new ones.



Why this…

I decided to start this blog and its subsequent foundation for my mom and for myself. She often talked about ways she wanted to help other women in her situation. She liked knowledge and the sharing of information. She talked about things she learned and would give full recaps to share the info. I went through some of Mom’s notebooks and found a wish list. She wanted to start a breast cancer foundation. Well, I decided to do it for her- but I knew I needed to do something different. My husband and I discussed the idea, and initially I couldn’t decided what it would be about- how it would be different.

As I started to look back at her treatment, things started to pop out. One time she talked about her mastectomy, telling me how if people knew everything they wouldn’t potentially get them- particularly how she thought it would significantly reduce her odds of a recurrence, yet her 2012 self wasn’t so sure. Looking back I missed the opportunity to ask her more about why she felt that way. Of course now I won’t know, but maybe putting that out there will make someone think harder about it. Mommy had triple negative breast cancer, which is more complicate and aggressive as they don’t understand it as well, so treatment options aren’t as tailored as some other subclasses of breast cancer. Yet, recent studies have identified genes that may be targets for triple negative therapies. This would significantly impact treatment options and chances of recurrence. We are learning everyday!

I then thought of one of the times we were in the emergency room. A resident came in and casually mentioned the cancer on her lung not being a problem of concern, only the brain metastasis. Well, Mommy didn’t know the cancer was in her lung – so clearly she was heartbroken. I wanted to slap the doctor in the face with the clipboard, but instead I gave Mommy some comforting words that I don’t remember now. We hugged, but I could see the fight seeping out. She was here because recent labs didn’t look good and she hadn’t been eating well, now this! I immediately looked at her records when I got home to find out that in fact her records indicated lung mets, but they were stable so it was not referenced in her regular oncologist appointments. I later found out from speaking with her doctor that stable cancer was usually not spoken of with someone with Stage 4 metastatic cancer. They were only worried about the areas not in control or unstable.

These were just a couple of the things we didn’t know. I know many people are probably in the same position, so in that I found my muse. I would focus on education. I would continue the fight against breast cancer. The fight to find a cure. And how best to arm ourselves, but with knowledge. Knowledge is power, and knowing about your particular cancer, your treatment options, why some options will work and others won’t, is all part of preparing.

Finally, I started it for myself. My healing process. As I mentioned before, I found out I was a co-survivor only 3 months before she passed. I never thought about what help I might need. I had my husband’s shoulder to cry on, which I did many times. But come morning, I was back to business. Co-survivors go through struggles as well, not just from a caretaker standpoint, but from feeling helpless. You try to be optimistic, but you don’t know what will happen. There is a painful edge, your walking across a rickety bridge suspended over a canyon. You pray you will make it across, but you just don’t know.

In all, I owed it to her to keep her alive. I wouldn’t replace those last six months with her for anything in the world, except more time with her. But this keeps her in my mind and on my lips, not just a memory.

So with that- share the love, a hug, and most importantly a laugh in Mable’s honor. And stay with me on this journey.



I didn’t know what to expect yesterday to be. I figured I would roll with it and try not to stress. Shortly after publishing my first post, I got an email from my Mom’s friend saying as soon as she went to the site it started thundering and lightning. We both agreed, Mom was excited I had taken this leap. Some might think starting a blog is not really a “leap”, but for me- someone who is not always open with her emotions it actually is. A lesson I learned from my mom, someone who was definitely emotional- but also very guarded. She was eager to share her opinion on cancer being a manifestation of complicated and sometimes hurtful emotions with no place to go. Science has demonstrated this link to stress and cancer does exist , but research continues to look for answers as to how much. So here I am, trying to not “hold things in” as she said. She was proud of my leap.

The rest of the day was pretty normal, though we all went out to eat especially for her. A celebration in typical Mable fashion. Everyone who knew her knew she could enjoy a meal for hours! Well- she sent a special message to my husband while we were there. Her insistence on keeping a discussion going with him would not be missed on this day, so we just laughed together. On our way out of the car when we got home, our youngest sat in my carrier staring at the sky as we walked to the door. This was not the first time she had been out at night, but it was the first time she looked so intently at the sky. Mom used to do that with my oldest two, and even had her oldest Granddaughter, my oldest child, greeting the morning sky and trees and saying goodnight at the end of the day. (My husband and I share that ancestral affinity for the cosmos- so I am sure she had a number of people smiling down on her). To me there was no coincidence that she chose today to look up smiling to say hello.

Life is about symbols. Some symbols we chose. Too often we tend to overlook a lot of symbols as mere coincidence or something our mind is creating. Well- I think our mind is creating it, but it is because our mind is privy to more than our conscious self is aware or understands. Others symbols or signs are being sent to us. Slow down enough to see the symbols being shown to you. It may give you a smile, answer a question, lighten something weighing on your heart, or teach you a lesson.

Enjoy the day and look for your symbols!


For You Mom!

imageI caught the end of a program on Veria Living last night. The host had traveled to Mexico and the episode ended with him getting a massage. The massage was very similar to a spiritual cleansing like the one’s my Mom performed many times before, using incense, prayers, flowers, and cleansing herbs. This one included some time in a sauna room, which was accompanied by more herbs. It seemed the massage was the final part and even that reminded me of a cleaning. I immediately thought- Mommy would have loved that. It was an ancient Native Inca practice. The show’s host also quotes Hippocrates as saying, “Give me a fever and I can cure any disease.” It is true that the body heats – a fever- to rid itself of toxins and bacteria, etc. many of which cannot survive in high temperatures. I wonder if cancer is the same- unlikely, but maybe it would interrupt something. Of course, I have no basis for that thought- it is just a thought. My mind can’t help but think of how my mom spent many an hour of her life in a sauna. She loved it- it is as if she was immune to the high temperature, she would sit literally an hour. I always pointed out the warning sign suggesting 30 minutes max, but she of course ignored me. The sauna does have significant health benefits, see how it might improve your health, and cleanse toxins from your system.

Well- today marks a year now since my Mom passed away. This site will be full of her life, so feel free to check back often. For now, enjoy your sauna. It’s hot outside, so that’ll be my sauna! I never could take the high heat like she could!