I just wanted to share something close to all of us sisters. Over the last ten years of holding my Ladies Only Cowgirl Class, I cannot count how many women have been through breast cancer--usually at least one per session, if not more. We all know someone who has battled it, and it affects all of us as a whole. I won't list names but you all know who you are, including the gal who sends out my e-newsletters, and your stories and courage do not go unnoticed. I just wanted to acknowledge you all and give my love and support to each and every one of you who is or has gone through this difficult time in your life personally or with a loved one. I only wish I had been more active sooner about sharing awareness and supporting my horsey girlfriends who have been down this trail.
It has hit me even more this year, when my most recent protege, 29-year old Teresa Bateman, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring (she bought my personal horse, Nifty, in 2010). When she was 15, she lost her mother to breast cancer because she delayed treatment... she was just 42. Teresa has had this looming over her for years, but she has always taken the pro-active approach for early detection. Thank God! Teresa is strong and tough as nails, the mother of two darling kids, a great horsewoman, and married the love of her life, Tom, in September. He is her biggest support and rock.
Teresa went through a summer of testing, waiting, wondering, praying, and crying that culminated in surgery just last week. But with a solid foundation of faith in Jesus the Conqueror, she is conquering even as you read this and is on the road to a healing recovery and new-found health and vitality. Our prayers are with her daily and your positive thoughts and prayers directed her way would be greatly appreciated. As Wil, who believes in positive imagery, knowing from personal experience that it works, always preaches, "Thoughts are things and are real"... "as you think, so are you"... and as Jesus Christ put it "as you sow, so shall you reap"..."ask and you shall receive."
Always observant, Teresa has seen Wil and my lifestyle of alternative healthy eating habits and has made huge steps to convert herself and her family, weaning them from refined sugars, dairy, fats and processed foods into a more raw, wholegrain, and organic lifestyle of fruits and vegetables to support and sustain her cancer-free lifestyle. For years I had great intentions of living a more wholesome and raw foods lifestyle, but it wasn't until Wil's heart issues in 2007 that we really committed to making the change and consulted a naturopath to seek a new path oriented for our specific health needs. It has made a huge difference, and sharing life-enhancing strategies with others continues to be our third passion...the Lord, good horses, and good food habits!
Even closer to home was my mother's very invasive and serious reconstructive surgery for a cancer in her upper intestine. This procedure is usually not done on anyone over 65, but her overall health was so good they decided to go ahead even though she was 82. With a new pair of downhill skis to try out next ski season as incentive, my mother, against all odds and with post-op complications, bounced back after a lot of hard work, and yes! Did go skiing last spring on her new skis! She is another diet-related success story, opting out of the AMA's dreaded chemo and radiation treatment. She has worked with our naturopath for the past year, changing a lot in her way of eating, and is at present clean as a whistle. Praise God! You go Mom!
On that same note of empowering women for change and good healthy choices, I also want to honor a great friend and horse client whom we have known for 15 years. Although very active, a great rider, hard working and a total outdoor person, she has struggled with her weight since losing her father when she was 31. Stress, thyroid issues, and being a successful, over-committed business woman with a busy lifestyle had her leaving her personal life needs and health at the bottom of her "to do" list (sound familiar?). It was the perfect storm for poor health as she suffered the yo-yo of dieting and then resuming poor choices. Finally, this spring, she made peace with her choice for a REAL life change and has tapped the strength we all have within us for change. As friends, we have always been there for support and nonjudgmental encouragement...more "rolling the spur", as big brother Wil might say. She really has made leaps forward this summer while getting back into horses after losing her first WHR horse "Cowboy" back in 2011 at age 18. In June, she acquired our darling buckskin Smart Chic A Lena-bred gelding, who is a super minded, highly trained, all around reined cow horse. With the goal to work cattle and really up her horsemanship in the coming years, she has made the commitment to lose 100 pounds and has already knocked off 40 since July! You go, Cowgirl!!! As I knew her journey would be a long one, I wanted to give her commitment a shot in the arm, and found that inspiration for her and for any woman in Mandisa.
If you don't know who Mandisa is, you will soon. She was an American Idol contestant back in 2008 who was VERY large. Mandisa is a contemporary gospel singer of unmatched talent and enthusiasm. She has openly allowed the world to follow her life story of faith, stardom, and struggles with food addiction. With my limited on-line computer abilities, even I was able access her on You-Tube and found her world of inspiring music videos, interviews, appearances on Good Morning America and Journey to 100, that is, her journey to lose 100 pounds! And that was just the beginning. Though this has taken place in the years since 2009, her two-time Grammy award-winning upbeat inspirational music that makes you want to move has created a Zumba-like craze with a gospel twist, incorporated into fun-to-follow dance videos. She acknowledges that "True Beauty" (the name of one of her songs) comes from within, and that without Christ we are never a whole person and often reach for substitutions like food to fill a void that is actually from the pain of not truly knowing we are unconditionally loved. Mandisa offers warm, tough love with lyrics that encourage, give hope, and share truths that our core being is so often searching for. I especially love the songs "True Beauty", "Stronger", "Overcomer", and "Good Morning", and highly recommend watching her. You can start with the links to the left!
To all my Cowgirls...riders or not, big or small, with or without boobs or hair...you are all beautiful, loved, and special in my eyes, and in the eyes of God! Let's get together and celebrate womanhood on horseback!
Hang in there,
Your Horsemanship Mentor
For fun, inspiring Cowgirl Tough pink accessories, or to donate to a person in need fighting breast cancer, check out this website-- www.lopeforhope.com --and help your girlfriend or cowgirl "Buck Cancer!"
See my upcoming Ladies Only or Cowgirls Only horsemanship classes offered this winter in Arizona. Also, check out a new publication I've recently begun advertising in called Cowgirl! It's fun, with lots of bling, pretty stuff, and good horse articles.
Inspirational Mandisa videos on You Tube...