A slight lump in the road…

One of the things I look forward to each year is the moment when fall finally shows up, usually announced by the arrival of the The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch.

This year was a little earlier than usual as my hometown got a jump on things and had their own glass pumpkin festival a few weeks ago.  I’ve always found something magical about these beautiful pieces of art, their different shapes, sizes and colors all making it virtually impossible to choose which treasure to take home.

This year, however, the choice was simple.  The pretty pink pumpkin tucked among the more traditional oranges and yellows called to me as a beacon of hope as just a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

While I have quite the ‘journey’ ahead of me, (I use this term loosely as it’s one often associated with breast cancer and for whatever reason I just hate it.  I associate the word journey with things that are fun, like a vacation – not cancer.  But I digress…)

I know that when fall is over and I carefully pack my pumpkin away with the rest of my collection, I’ll forget about it.  Until I pull it out again next year at this time when my ‘journey’ will have come to an end.  And I can only imagine the thrill it’ll give me knowing that I’ve gone through the unknown and come out just fine.  I can’t wait to unpack my pink pumpkin!

I’m sharing this with you as my particular type of cancer (called Her2+) requires immediate chemotherapy, so when I see you next in person I’ll definitely look a little different.  This cancer has an incredibly high cure rate (something like 98%), I’m stage 1, and I have the widest and strongest net of support anyone could ask for.  I feel unbelievably blessed.

So in the meantime, I’ll carry on.  I’ll continue writing this blog, consulting, and traveling to speak to various garden clubs and organizations.  While I might slow down just a bit, I have no plans on stopping.  These are all things I love to do and they add so much to my life.

Okay – now that this is out of the way, let’s get back to gardening!

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  • Rebecca, I’m so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. In September of 2005, at the age of 44, I was also diagnosed with Stage 1, HER-2 positive breast cancer. I can so relate to all that you are going through. My garden was my refuge, as well…there’s nothing better for the soul than “garden therapy”:) After a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation, I am happy to say that I am still healthy & cancer free 9 years later. I was once told that when you are going through cancer, it’s like a huge elephant in the room, consuming all of your thoughts & energy…but as time goes on, it eventually becomes just a little mouse in the corner…you’ll never forget that the elephant once existed, but it won’t always occupy such a huge place in your daily life. Praying that you are blessed with strength, and healing, as well as, peace throughout this “journey”.

    • Thank you for sharing your story with me, Sue – and what a similar story it is! I’m only 49 with the same type of cancer. I most likely won’t be having a lumpectomy as there are 2 areas of cancer, therefore a mastectomy is in my future, right after my chemo is finished. Definitely NOT looking forward to that one, but one day at a time, right? The elephant is certainly dominating the room these days. I can’t escape him – he’s everywhere I go. But yesterday I felt really, really good and spent 6 hours in the garden while the elephant stayed inside, peering out of the window at me. I’ve just realized he can’t go in the garden – hooray!! I’m looking forward to turning him into a mouse one day, and then setting my dog Buddy loose on him once and for all. How’s that for imagery – ha! Thank you for your good wishes, I appreciate them. XO

  • Oh dear, this will teach me to keep up with my blog reading! I am so sorry, Rebecca, and will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, along with so many others who are also going through challenging times. I guess these troubles help us expand our hearts and world view. I think I will picture you floating through a sea of pink and white healing light as you take this journey, surrounded by all the love, respect and admiration that so many of us have for you.

    • Thank you, Barbara – I like the image you painted for me. XO

  • I was diagnosed with stage3 breast cancer at age 43. I know all cancers are different. But Keeping positive and never giving up, helped me along the way. My prayers are with you. It is a difficult journey. cancer free now for many years.

    • Wow, Darlene – Stage 3 at 43? That must’ve been so, so scary for you and your family. I’m so glad to hear you’ve been cancer free for so long. Thanks for sharing your story with me. 🙂

  • Rebecca…. You my garden friend are now at the top of my prayer list. Praying you will set records in recovery speed. I so appreciate your attitude. What an inspiration you are! Hugs.

    • Thank you, Teresa – I can use all the prayers I can get! XO

  • Dear Rebecca, I know so many wonderful women, like you, who have made that “journey.” Indeed, it is a journey, much like gardening and writing. We’ll share its success with you, with love, filling our own wells of strength thanks to the unbeatable truly Sweet person you are. 10 gazillion hugs.

    • Thank you, Linda. I’ll take those hugs. Every one of those 10 gazillion! XO

    • Thanks, Lisa! But I’m afraid I’ll be even MORE obvious with my bald head if I sneak away. ‘Who’s that bald chick ditching out of our talk?’

  • They can take your hair but no one can take your beautiful smile or all the beauty that comes from what you share with us. You will be in my prayers as you tackle this challenge. It sounds like you have all the nearby physical support you need but you have mine from miles away.

    • Thank you, Dot. Support, whether it’s nearby or far away, is much much appreciated. XO

  • Rebecca ,

    I so enjoy all your posts and seeing you at the NW Flower & Garden Show.
    Your knowledge of gardening has helped me in my gardening so much. You’re truly a lady who will flight this bump in the road.
    Sending prayers and Love !


    • Thank you, Kathy. It’s always a joy seeing your smiling face at the show! Unfortunately I won’t be there this year, but Susan will so she’ll give you a big hug for me. I’m so glad to hear you’ve enjoyed what I’ve had to say and that it’s helped you a bit in your own garden. 🙂

  • Rebecca…it always amazes me how much we really do not know about what another human being may be going through. I look at your blog, see that smiling face filled with such creativity and wonder and never see “cancer” lurking there. I had thyroid cancer over 5 years ago and being in remission makes every day so precious. I didn’t have as public a life as you do but having my blog (which I’ve sadly abandoned lately) kept me going when I had the energy and when I didn’t, it gave me sonething to look forward to. I know you have a huge group of supporters who will be here (and there) for you. I am sending you love and healing thoughts and you will be in my prayers now for a speedy recovery. Don’t forget to ask us for help. We have experience with this and are all connected more than most believe.

    • Hi Teri – I really like what you said ‘we are all connected more than most believe’. You’re so right and this is something I believe in, very very much. Thank you for your kind wishes and for sharing your own story. I’m so glad to hear you’re in remission, too!

  • Hi Rebecca. Mary Ellen from P. Allen here. I didn’t get to visit with you last spring when you were in Arkansas but so wanted to. You are one of the people I’ve admired from afar. There’s just something special about you. I was diagnosed with BC this time two years ago. Jenny Peterson is a good person to have in your corner. She sure helped me. You are in my heart pocket.

    • Hi Mary Ellen. I had wanted to meet you, too, as Jenny was singing your praises but there was hardly a spare moment that weekend and before I knew it ‘poof’ it was over! I’m so glad Jenny was with you during your own battle with BC – aren’t we lucky to have her as a friend? I always laugh when people downplay the importance of social media, as through it I’ve found my own personal guardian angels that I hold close to my heart. Jenny, of course, being one of them. I hope to get the chance again to visit with you – let me know if you ever come out my way to Northern California!

  • Thinking of you, Rebecca, and sending lots of love and support to you and your family. If there is anything that we can do to help, please let me know. Big hugs, Teresa

  • Hey girlfriend!
    I can’t improve on all of the fabulous love and support that you clearly have for you above. But, I can tell you this, when this journey is over, you will surely look back at all of the words of encouragement from the gracious people in your life who contributed here and behind the scenes and KNOW how much YOU bring to all of our lives every day. Obviously you are a wonderful example of the love that is reflected back at you when you put it out there for all to see.
    Cheers to you and your family in this little “lump” in the road. You got this! 😉

    • What a sweet thing to say, Christina. Thank you. I’m smiling ear to ear. 🙂

  • Rebecca,

    I greatly admire your honesty and sharing your story! love the thought of a pink pumpkin to mark your “journey”!!!
    Many friends and family have and or are going through what you are now engaged in, and because of speaking out, it can serve as a heads up for women to get checked regularly.
    Sending positive thoughts and keep the blog going!

    • Heads up is right, David! I’m going around telling every woman I meet to get their mammograms!! So far two of my good friends have gone in since this ordeal, and my dentist’s assistant. Three down, three million to go! Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

  • You have been in my thoughts every day since you told me. You are one of the strongest women I know. “Sweet”, yes. But also tough, smart and not one to take crap off anyone. Even cancer. You are going to kick this cancer to the curb and we are all here with you – your own personal cheering section. You got this and we’ve got your back…always.

    Love you!

    • Theresa – I hope you know how much you’ve inspired me and I can only hope I’m as strong as you think I am. Thank you for all the help you’ve given me so far! XO

  • Rebecca,
    I am so sorry to hear but hopeful that your cancer was found early and has a high cure rate.

    I will keep you in my thoughts.

    Healing vibes your way!


  • Saw this on another friend’s FB page and had to forward to my friend who is in her first month of breast cancer treatment. Hoping things go well for you and my friend.

    • Thank you, Sharon – and I wish your friend the best of luck with her treatment!

  • Oh my, I am very sorry to hear this, Rebecca, but you have an amazing attitude and wonderful support system. That will carry you through, Rebecca. Bless you in the weeks ahead as you get the treatments you need. And bless you for everything you do every day!

    Sending you a hug!

    • Thank you, Mary. You’re so true about my support system. I feel more and more blessed each day and know that they’ll be there to pick me up when I’m down. XO

  • Much Love and support coming your way from Roseville, CA. Debra told me and I was saddened by the news. But it sounds like with the loving support of your family and great care you will be good. But I will continue to think about you and wish you well. OXOXOX

    • Thank you, Candy. I was so sorry to miss you all at the Succulent Extravaganza. The timing couldn’t have been worse and it saddened me to know I wouldn’t see your smiling face. Thanks for sending me your love. XO

  • I love you and your positive pink pumpkin. You are always such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing and know that I am part of that support system.

    • You are so welcome, Gigi. I appreciate all your texts,photos and words of encouragement! XO

    You are such a positive, glowing force for good – YOU WILL WIN. Because in this fight, the light wins. I believe this with all of my heart. You have so much support, so much love, and so many amazing things in your arsenal to battle this foe. Strength to you! My brain is gathering up all the best thoughts and beaming them out to you. You know we all have your back. And your boobs. MUCH LOVE!!!

    • Dearest Rebecca,
      I was so shocked and saddened to hear the news of your breast cancer. I’m so thankful that it has been detected early and the cure rate seems to be so high!
      We are all your fellow gardeners, friends, family and support. I’m sending you all my love and prayers to help you through this challenge. I know that next year at this time, this will all be behind you! And I think that pink pumpkin is just the thing to cheer you up!!
      All the best, my dear,

      • Thank you, Elizabeth. I appreciate your kind and heartfelt words. I had actually had a last minute, painful biopsy the morning of my talk and was a little off my game (hence the tears!) but was so happy that I could be surrounded by so many caring people who shared their own stories with me. I wish I had a chance to talk to you a little more – I hope things are well for you and your beautiful garden?

    • I hate it too, Ivette! And you’re right – I WILL win. My arsenal is full and I’ve never felt stronger. Thank you, my friend. XOXO

  • My dear friend… I know of very few people that are as loved as you. To be as surrounded by positive thoughts and more love than you can imagine from your friends and loved ones is truly a gift that will carry you through the challenges ahead. Can’t wait to see your cute bald head 😉

    • You couldn’t be more right, Sheila. The love I feel is more than I could’ve ever imagined and it just gets stronger every day. I’ll make sure to send you a pic of my bald head – cute or not! XO

  • Oh, Rebecca ~ my thoughts, prayers and love are with you. You are one of those special people who is as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside and I KNOW your inner strength and spirit will carry you through treatment. Thank you for your incredible courage and honesty sharing with others.
    Blessings, Debra

    • Thank you, Debra – I appreciate your heartfelt words. I’m feeling great about everything and completely ready for battle! XO

  • Rebecca: I clearly remember your beautiful garden and your lovely hospitality during the Garden Blogger’s Fling. I want to wish you a successful journey. Many of us who have had the big ‘C’ and come out the other side can tell you that there is much learned on this kind of a journey and life is certainly brighter during and after. Hugs to you and best wishes.

    • Thank you Layanee. I loved meeting you and hearing your laughter – you’re a fun, fun person and I only wish we lived closer! I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with the dreaded C yourself, but am hoping it’s far in your distant past.

  • Much love to you my dear friend. Hugs and kisses. I love those pumpkins too by the way.

    • Nicely put, Annie – with the same passion that I have with gardening and I should be just fine. XO

  • I always wonder how I’ll handle such news, and your courage and upbeat attitude are exactly what I aspire to muster should the need arise. You’ve probably heard of Dr. Susan Love — a potential source of info if communication issues with your docs arise. So looking forward to the pink pumpkin post next fall!

    • I always wondered too, Denise. And you know what? I was surprisingly calm. I was actually a little irritated because the phone call came right when I was getting to the good part of my favorite Modern Family episode. I was alone, my husband unreachable at an offsite business meeting, and so I just hung up the phone and tried to watch the rest of the show. Yeah, right. After a few minutes I called my good friend, Jenny Peterson, who is another designer/author/public speaker who went through the same thing and asked her to tell me the nitty gritty details of this whole mess. If it weren’t for Jenny I don’t know what I would’ve done! Thanks for reminding me of Dr. Susan Love – I have a book of hers somewhere and will try and find it asap!

  • Rebecca, “Look a little different”? You can buy hair, as you’ve figured out by now, but you can’t buy a beautiful smile like you wear everyday. I’ll be praying for your recovery and cure.

    • Thank you, Carol. You always have a way with words that makes me smile. XO

  • Dear Rebecca, I don’t think that I can add much more to the many sentiments and thoughts that have already been written here, but please know that I will be thinking of you and wishing you strength and love. Please don’t fail to call on me if I can be of any service. Big hugs.

    • Thank you, Nancy. I’ve actually been thinking about you and your fabulous skin-care products. Now that I’ll be sporting a bald head I’m feeling pretty good about the pomegranate and argan oil helping to keep it in tip-top shape! It’ll be interesting to see what chemotherapy does to my skin, and you can be sure I’ll be in contact with you for some advice! XO

  • Rebecca, I know how devastating this diagnosis can be — it can just shake you to your core. One thing I know for sure about you — you have a deep sense of hope and possibility which will serve you well. On days when you feel despairing, though, lean on us! You are well loved and we will get you through this! XOXO

    • Jenny – you know how important you are in my life. I’ll never forget our first conversation about this, and the honest, kind, loving words you gave me. XOXO

  • Ah Rebecca, as soon as I read the title of this post I just knew, that word “lump” has such a stigma. Thanks you for letting us all know, you are a brave and strong woman and are approaching this with the best attitude. We’re all pulling for you and I can’t wait to see your pink pumpkin post next October.

    • Thank you, Loree. You can bet I’m looking forward to writing that post!

  • What a brave and positive attitude you have as you face this frightening unknown. I hope it is merely a lump in the road for you – I’m sure the success rate and your early detection help fuel your outlook. Thanks for sharing with us so we can all wish you well and keep you in our thoughts and prayers. Your pink pumpkin is perky and appropo. All the best, Diana

    • Yes, Diana – it’s merely a lump. A frightening and awful lump, but a lump nonetheless. Thank you for your kind wishes. XO

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but glad that it so treatable. I’ll be thinking about you over the next year as you go through your treatment. A positive mind set will help keep you going, but I’m sure the support of friends and other garden bloggers will help too. My mom survived breast cancer, and lived to the ripe old age of 91.

    • Wow, Alison – 91! That gives me such hope! Thank you for thinking of me. XO

  • Rebecca, I saw this post go by on your Twitter feed, so I had to stop in. I first learned about the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch through your blog, and I can’t believe that was four years ago now! I just haven’t being blogging much lately, as I’ve been too distracted by baby goats all season!

    I’m very sorry you have to wade through these waters. Everyone’s experience with this disease is different, I just wish none of us had to navigate around lumps in the road. However, you have a great attitude, and I have no doubt this will be behind you quickly.

    When I was forging through my own breast cancer diagnosis (triple negative), almost six years ago now, my garden was one of the things that kept me truly motivated to heal quickly. I honestly found the whole experience to rather inconvenient at the time. I’m not a very patient person, and gosh darn it, I had things to do, and weeds to pull! 😉 So I agree, back to gardening, it’s honestly the best therapy, both physically, and emotionally.

    Surround yourself with excellent doctors, friends, and family, don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way, or accept help when it’s needed. This is your time. Time to focus on YOU, and focus on being well. We’ll be here celebrating with you when you return! -Clare

    • Wow, Clare. As I’ve been learning, triple negative is a really tough one to beat. I’m so glad you’ve come out the other side with shining colors and so appreciate you sharing your story with me. It sucks, for sure, but I’m hoping to learn a lot along the way and end up a better person for it. Thank you for your advice and good wishes. XOXO

  • Pink Tulips for Rebecca it is. I so enjoy your blog & so admire your gardens. Pink Tulips in my garden for you sweet Rebecca.

    • Thank you, Caroline, I appreciate your support. I think I’ll head out tomorrow to buy some pink tulips!

  • I have enjoyed reading your blog and have never commented until now. I had my own cancer journey almost 7 years ago. Looking forward to garden season helped pull me through some rough days. I too will plant pink tulips in your honor. What a wonderful idea!

    • Hi Nancy – I love the idea of pink tulips and am so touched. And I’m so glad you left a comment on my blog, in such a meaningful way, too. I’m so happy to hear you’ve been cancer free for 7 years now – that gives me so much hope. XO

  • Being a Master Gardener in Spokane, I heard of your news a couple of weeks ago. We are all pulling for you and are hoping that your trip to visit us is just a “lump” in the road and that we will see you soon! You have one thing going for you – nothing will keep you out of your garden! Take care.

    • Hi Cathi – yes, I was so disappointed to have to cancel the Spokane speaking engagement but it would’ve happened during the first rounds of my chemotherapy and I’m just not sure how easy or hard it will actually be. Thank you for your kind words and you’re so right about it not keeping me out of my garden. In fact, I’m hoping I’ll have a little more time to just sit and enjoy it for once!

  • I love Karen’s idea for the pink tulips! Let’s all do this for you, and in all parts of the country. Then next spring we will celebrate your beauty amid theirs. Sending you so much love and huge hugs, my friend. L

    • Hi Lynn – I love her idea, too! Thanks for your love and huge hugs. I’m sending them right back to you. XO

  • We’ve chatted already but wanted to add a note here too.

    Here’s my thought for the day-plant a mass of pink tulips to make you smile in spring. Or ask Tom to plant them (pointy side up) if you’re too tired 🙂 xxx

    • I really like your idea, Karen! I’m typically not a huge pink fan in terms of garden plants but you know, I’m learning to love it more and more now. And I especially love your idea about planting the tulips. There’s so many gorgeous hues of pink I’m looking forward to stopping by the nursery tomorrow to see what I can find. Thank you for such a fabulous suggestion! XO

  • Rebecca, wow, so many emotions. I am very sorry to hear of your diagnosis, relieved to hear it is so treatable, touched by your openness, and grateful to have a brave and steady example of how to face fear and keep moving forward. Know that you’ll be in my thoughts. And I think you picked the perfect pumpkin. Love and good wishes, Pam

    • Thank you so much, Pam. Beautifully said, as usual. XOXO

  • Thank you for your courage in sharing your news. I am a strong believer in sharing–it helps you and it helps others. I think it is especially useful tool to gather information and dispel fear. How generous and kind of you to open your heart in this way. Now, go buy a pink wig!

    • Thank you, Jo. I, too, am a strong believer in sharing (as you saw at the last garden talk – ha! I’ll admit I was surprised at my unexpected flow of tears!!) and was so touched by the women who came up to me afterwards to share their own personal stories. And while I didn’t buy a pink wig, I DID find a pretty hot little blonde number yesterday with my two girlfriends. Looking forward to showing you next time I see you! XO

  • Dear Rebecca, I have been following your blog for quite some time and share your love of gardening. We share this other “journey as well.. I was diagnosed with stage one Dcis in 2007. Looking back the worse part of the entire ordeal was the fear. Fear was the worst part and the hardest to overcome. But I have to tell you that nothing they did to me was as bad as my fear surrounding the many surgeries and prodedures I had , though it didn’t seem so at the time. I am a take charge person and suddenly everyone was taking charge of my whole life and everything I had so carefully planned was now set aside while I readjusted my teaching job, my family and my whole life around this unwelcome intrusion. I spent my time researching and deciding which course of action I could best live with. I made informed decisions by reading every available, credible source. ( Breastcancer.org is credible and will become your best source!). Now, seven years later, I am comfortable with the outcome, healthy, and on the other side which is where I can’t wait to see you. You already have such a good and positive attitude which I greatly admire and which will be a great asset. I will be praying for you Rebecca…..sincerely, Donna Jones

    • Hi Donna. Thank you for such a meaningful response and for sharing your story with me. You’re absolutely, 100% correct in saying the fear is the worst part. I’ve already experienced that in the short while that I’ve been dealing with this and have told all of my doctors that they MUST communicate with me constantly because the second I’m left to my own questions my mind goes to the dark side pretty fast. I need the info – don’t hold back, give vague answers or try and spare my feelings! I think you and I are similar in the ‘take charge’ aspect of our lives and you’re right – spinning out of control and having everyone else in charge has taken some getting used to. Thank you for your prayers. XO

  • Dear Rebecca,
    I am truly sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I have not experienced it myself, but I was by my mom’s side as she battled cancer. The thing that changed for us the most is how much the problems of life seemed small afterwards, in comparison. I found that to be very freeing. I hope you find strength and empowerment through this difficult time. You have brought me a lot of joy through your last book and blog. I am just a backyard gardener, but I had such fun applying the principles in your book to my garden. I find even going to my local nursery is even more enjoyable as I look closely at the color and shape of plants. I hope you can look forward to knowing that there will be joy again in the simplist things like walking in a nursery despite a spring rain. You will be the one savoring life!

    • Hi Rebecca, fabulous article, great photo, and your positive attitude simply wonderful!! Love, hugs and hope for all you do!!

      • Thank you, Sabrina. Watching you go through your own ‘journey’ with your positive attitude has been such an inspiration to me. I’m hoping more of this ‘down time’ means I’ll be able to visit you more often!

    • Hi Debbie. You’re so right about watching the vast majority of life’s everyday ‘problems’ shrink away to nothing when compared to something like this. It is absolutely freeing, as you stated. It’s been one of the most liberating things, actually, to be free of these petty, everyday concerns and I only pray that I never revert back to the way I was once this is over. We all tend to forget about the serious things in life and sometimes something like this shakes us to the core and reminds us that really, the only thing that matters is love. It’s like a veil has been lifted from my eyes and I keep telling everyone this! They probably think I’m insane, but it’s true. In the end, all we have is our relationships to one another and that can often be more than enough to carry us through. Thank you. XO

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