Caribbean Girl Meets American World

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(Above) Nicole Scott, explores her garden, Scott’s family cooks traditional Trinidad meals to honor her culture.

Nicole Scott goes into depth about her families Caribbean roots

Warmhearted, fun-loving, hospitable, words Nicole Scott describes the Trinidadian culture as. Growing up in a Caribbean background wasn’t a challenge for Scott.

“It seemed pretty normal to me because it was the norm. All of my friends had Caribbean backgrounds the only difference was that our parents came from different Caribbean countries,” said Scott. Scott and her friends were all educated the same and were given similar discipline in each others homes.

Realizing that the way she grew up was far different than it was for Americans didn’t happen until Scott went to college.

“When I went to college, I noticed that I wasn’t as much as an American than I thought I was. When you, when you grow up in a Caribbean household, especially somewhere in New York where all your friends have the same experience as you do,  It’s only when you get out into an environment where there aren’t as many people from the Caribbean, that you really stand out. The words that you would use for different things, or the way you would pronounce things, and you realize how different you are that you do come from a very different culture than the people who are in this country.”

Scott eventually came to realize that the Trinidadian history was different from the history for African Americans. Slavery for Trinidadians ended decades before it ended in America.

“When slavery ended in Trinidad, Trinidadians didn’t go through the hardships that people went through here. There were no, there were no Civil Rights movements, Jim Crow laws, not racism between blacks and whites,” said Scott.

Trinidadians got support from England and were under their government system so they didn’t financially struggle. Though her family came for better opportunities, being the first in her family to be born in America, wasn’t always easy for Scott . Feeling like an outcast always made her feel different.

“It was definitely different, especially when I would go down to visit, I felt very self conscious because as a kid, hearing the, the Trinidadian accent, it was so alluring to me. It was something that I liked and speaking as an American, I just felt that I sounded so boring, and so, just so uninteresting.”

The Trinidadian culture doesn’t only come with history, but comes with authentic food as well. The food comes from several different countries and other cultures such as French, African, Indian, Spanish, Chinese, Caucasian, and Middle Eastern.

Scott said, “Every Sunday comprised as a big meal which had your meat, a rice dish, a vegetable and my favorite as a kid macaroni pie.”

As does Scott, her daughter Nichelle Scott also enjoys the culture. “I love the cuisine and the togetherness of the Trinidadian-American community,” said Scott’s daughter.

Just as we do in America, Trinidadians celebrate their own cultural activities including Carnival, Diwali, and Christmas.

“The biggest thing would be Carnival, that is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday which is very similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. That is based off of the end of slavery, that’s really where it all started, Scott said.”

Diwali is celebrated by many indians and is celebrated by Indians in America. In Trinidad, Christmas which is celebrated all around the world, has great meaning to those who celebrate.

“We would always get a ham for Christmas, fresh baked bread was always important, um there’s something called pastelles, actually another favorite of mine, very similar to a tomalis,” Scott said.

Scott has enjoyed living in a culture that has had so much to offer and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Written By: Carleen S.

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Not Your Average Girl Scout

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(Above) Madi Dean in the Mass Comm room. Madi Dean has currently received her Silver Award in Girl Scouts. Now a Senior in Girl Scouts, Dean is determined to be awarded her Gold Award.

Ever since Kindergarten, Madi Dean has always had a passion for Girl Scouts. Many people misjudge Girl Scouts by thinking it’s all about the cookies, but Dean takes girl scouts to a whole new level.

She has learned several leadership skills which make her  standout in a crowd. She has started out as a Daisy, and recently made it to a Senior which is one of the highest levels in Girl Scouts.

“The best part about Girl Scouts would probably be seeing all my friends,” said Dean.

With a small troop, consisting of nine girls, Dean imagines how hard they have to work.

Taking trips to a Ski Lodge, theme parks, and Florida prove just how hard Dean has worked. Everyone has a secret to their motivation.

“What motivates me to sell are the prizes.” Prizes included for selling over the years have included stuffed animals, little trinkets, and of course the badges you get for selling,” said Dean.

Dean’s strong determination has led her to sell over 750 boxes of cookies. As Girl Scouts get older, many struggle to find a way to sell more boxes, that doesn’t seem to be the case for Dean.

“My mom works at Friday’s so we buy many boxes and sell them. It’s a really easy way to sell cookies,” said Dean.

Cookies aren’t the only reason why Dean’s in for the experience.

She has been given her bronze award which is the highest girl scout award a Junior can acquire. As well as her silver award, which is the highest achievement a Cadette can have.

Dean is currently working on her gold award. The gold award is the highest award any girl scout in high school can be awarded. Only 5% of Girl Scout receive this award.

The Gold award opens up opportunities to get scholarships and increases your chances of getting into a good college.

“It looks good on your high school transcript, so that’s what kinda got me into it,” said Dean.

Dean proves that hard work pays off and doesn’t plan on giving up anytime soon.

Written by: Carleen Scott

Fundraising for a Cure for Breast Cancer

Written By: Madi D.

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast divide and grow without their normal control. Tumors in the breast tend to grow slowly. By the time a lump is large enough to feel, it may have been growing for as long as 10 years. Some tumors, however, are aggressive and grow much faster.  http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/WhatisBreastCancer.html

She was beautiful and kind and loving, not only to me but to everyone. She was the star of our hometown of Peoria, Illinois—the high school homecoming queen, the college beauty queen.

I, on the other hand, was bigger, heavier and taller than most of my friends and her friends. I developed my own way of getting attention. I was a tomboy and a mischief-maker and delighted in nothing more than spending hours galloping around on horseback. Suzy tried desperately to teach me about the pretty things in life: how to fix my hair, apply makeup and coordinate my wardrobe. None of it seemed to work. I was still a big, sort of clumsy girl with two left feet. The boys didn’t know I was alive, except that I was Susan Goodman’s younger sister.

Suzy came back to Peoria when she graduated from college and got a job modeling locally. Eventually, she married her college sweetheart, Stan Komen.

College, for me, was the first time I felt I belonged anywhere. I was active in many school projects and finally began to have confidence in myself. I felt independent and responsible and ready to take on the world. After graduating, I packed up my bags and moved to Dallas, Texas, home of my father’s older sister.

Although we were separated by distance, Suzy and I spoke every day by phone in the late afternoon.

As if it were yesterday, I can remember the phone call I received from Suzy one Tuesday afternoon. Her doctor had found a lump in her breast that was not a cyst. He recommended a biopsy. A biopsy is the surgical removal and microscopic examination of tissue to see if cancer cells are present.

I decided to fly home to Peoria.

When I got off the plane, my father was waiting there alone with an expression on his face I will never forget. He didn’t have to say a word. At the age of 33, Suzy had breast cancer.

What happened from this point on is still difficult for me to talk about because I am so much more knowledgeable on the subject today. If I had only known then what I know now.

The truth of the matter is that growing up in the small town of Peoria, our family had been treated our whole lives by one doctor. Suzy trusted him with her cancer the same way she did with her measles. Mistake number one.

None of us knew enough to inquire about seeking information from a major cancer center or from a group of physicians associated with one in Peoria. He was our doctor. Period.

The most difficult concept to grasp about cancer, I think, is the fact that when it is first detected the patient usually feels just fine. There is rarely any pain associated with breast cancer in its early stages. So when you are told you’ve got a life-threatening disease, and the treatment sounds more heinous than the thought of a little lump in the breast, it is understandable that a woman uneducated about cancer might opt for no treatment at all.

Such was the case with Suzy. My sister was terrified, naturally, but adamant against having a mastectomy.

Our family doctor called in a surgeon to review Suzy’s case. It is important, if you are to learn from our mistakes, that I tell you a little bit about this surgeon. He was very handsome, very suave and seemed very self-confident. According to Suzy, this surgeon told Suzy he could cure her. Even the most respected cancer experts in the country (which he was certainly not) do not talk about recovery in terms of surviving cancer or remission. They refrain from using the word cure because cancer can recur.

But that, of course, is exactly what Suzy wanted to hear, and who could blame her? Like many women, and for that matter men, too, Suzy was of the frame of mind that the doctor was always right.

This surgeon suggested performing a subcutaneous mastectomy, a procedure in which the outside of the breast is left intact, but an incision is made and the breast tissue is removed. He would then do an implant ten days later. Suzy would be left with a small scar but no more cancer. She felt it was her best option.

After Suzy’s surgery, my parents, Stan and I were all at the hospital anxiously awaiting the results. The surgeon walked confidently in the room and said, “You can relax, we got it all. I believe she’s cured.” My heart sank because I knew enough to know that cure is a very difficult word to use in reference to cancer. If it is used at all, it is more likely to be spoken after a five-year period has passed without a recurrence.

For the next five months or so, Suzy felt pretty good. She was convinced she was cured. When I suggested she secure a second opinion just to be sure, she became very sensitive. After all, her doctor had told her she was fine.

But before six months had gone by, our worst nightmare became a reality. Suzy found another lump. This time it was under her arm. Despite everyone’s optimism her cancer had spread.

Suzy went next to the Mayo Clinic, where we learned that her cancer had metastasized (spread) to her lung and under her arm. There was a tumor the size of a quarter in the upper part of her right lung and suspicious shadows elsewhere. Their recommendation was 30 days of radiation and then to “watch it.”

Well, I, for one, was tired of “watching.” I wanted to see some results.

Terror, rage, sadness and above all, a feeling of complete and utter helplessness invaded me. Why was this happening to Suzy, of all people? What had she ever done to deserve to be so sick and so frightened? Although no one said anything aloud, we all knew my sister was now fighting for her life. And it all happened so quickly. She tried to keep up a brave front and would often talk of plans for the future.

A major turning point in Suzy’s struggle for survival came from a surprising source, Mrs. Betty Ford.

The year was 1978, and while serving as First Lady, Mrs. Ford had finished a successful bout with breast cancer. The whole country was shocked and saddened with the news of her breast cancer and mastectomy. Her bravery touched a place inside of Suzy that none of us could possibly understand because we hadn’t gone through it ourselves. In Betty Ford, my sister found new strength.

“Nan,” she said, “if Mrs. Ford can admit she has breast cancer and tell the whole world she intends to fight it, well then so can I.”

The doctors at Mayo suggested Suzy have radiation therapy, which is a treatment using high-energy rays to damage (burn) cancer cells and stop them from growing. She did have the radiation but it was not successful in slowing her disease. The cancer was out of control, and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it. But we had to try.

Suzy decided to seek treatment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. When she arrived, she was a Stage IV cancer patient. This means that the disease had spread to other organs in her body and was still growing. It was a very critical situation. But, for the first time, Suzy was part of a team: Her new doctor and his associates made Suzy a partner in every decision. They were completely and totally honest with her and all of us about her condition. Suzy was not only allowed to ask questions, she was encouraged to do so.

Suzy’s doctor’s approach to the disease was an aggressive one. Thus began the saga of intense chemotherapy. The problem with chemotherapy is that it doesn’t know the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, so a lot of important healthy cells are killed in the process, including the cells of the stomach lining and hair roots.

Chemotherapy is often accompanied by nausea, mouth sores, hair thinning, and sometimes total hair loss, depending on the type used. Suzy experienced all of that and more. Everyone given chemotherapy is warned that a side effect is hair loss, but nothing can prepare a woman for the shock and embarrassment of baldness. She bore up under the strain with all the dignity and grace she could manage, although I know she was devastated. Little did I know that even then, my sister was teaching me.

The stress and tension put on a family involved in a serious illness is unimaginable. You know you must stick together on the crucial matters, so often the tension released is by arguing about the little things. My father had a terrible time. He could not bear the sight of his precious daughter being so ill. As a result, it was our dear mother who bore the brunt of much of the burden.

It was especially difficult for her because during this time lumps kept appearing in my breasts. I had my left breast biopsied three different times during Suzy’s ordeal. Once, she had to leave Suzy’s side in Houston in order to be with me in Dallas. All three of my tumors were benign (noncancerous). I hated to worry my mother, but the truth is, I was scared. Every time I felt the slightest little abnormality, my heart began to race. I had learned that women whose mothers or sisters have had breast cancer have as much as three times the usual risk of developing the disease.

Whenever we felt as if we couldn’t go on, that the load was just too heavy, it was Suzy’s grace and humor that got us through the day. She was able to find something to smile about with every turn of the road, and her infectious, warm concern was felt throughout the hospital.

The one thing Suzy never found humor in, however, was the aesthetic conditions of the waiting rooms. The walls were empty, the chairs uncomfortable, and sometimes a patient would have to sit there waiting six or more hours for a scheduled appointment. Suzy was horrified and so was I. She was more concerned with the treatment of the patients while my concern was the treatment of her disease. I was outraged that more hadn’t been learned to help my sister.

“Nan,” she said, “as soon as I get better, let’s do something about this. You can find a way to speed up the research. I know you can. And I want to fix up this waiting room and make it pretty for the women who have to be here. This isn’t right.”

For about fifteen months, the Houston doctors were successful in slowing down Suzy’s breast cancer. But then, for reasons known only to God, the disease started to rage inside her once again.

Fully aware of her condition, but never willing to give up or talk about it, Suzy began a perilous and painful downhill battle. There was more surgery and more chemotherapy, but by now her body had built up a resistance to the drugs. Her cancer had gotten so out of control that it broke through the skin, resulting in grotesque sores all over her chest. She began to spend more time feeling awful and we spent more time feeling helpless.

None of us knew what to do anymore. Up until this point, we had always spoken enthusiastically about our future together. It was becoming more obvious with each new day that this was our future with Suzy.

One day, during the time when Suzy stayed in Houston, we were lying together by the pool at the hotel. She loved to sunbathe as often as possible, because she felt that having color on her face was the only thing that made her look healthy. As I watched her lying there reading, I took note of her thin, frail body and strained breathing. Fortunately, Suzy was into her book and paid no attention to me. Had she looked over, she would have seen my tears and known immediately what I was thinking.

Our time together was drawing to a close. In a flood of beautiful memories, I began to look back on the sacred relationship I shared with my sister. Frantically, I wrote my memories down, fearing somehow I might forget one later. I didn’t realize then that memories so special are never forgotten. I also didn’t realize that what I was writing that sunny afternoon was my sister’s eulogy.

It was time to begin saying our good-byes. Our family had always been totally honest with each other, and breaking that trust at this point would hurt Suzy much more than help her.

After my sister was released from M.D. Anderson, I tried to come home every other week for a visit. One particular Sunday afternoon on the way back to the airport, Suzy spoke to me again about doing something to help the sick women in the hospital. This practically tore my heart out because here she was, hardly able to manage a whisper, and she was worrying about other people. I couldn’t bear it.

When my father pulled up to the curb, I quickly kissed them both good-bye and jumped out of the car. I was just about inside when I heard a funny sound that sounded like my name. I stopped in my tracks and turned around. There was Suzy, standing up outside the car on wobbly knees, wig slightly askew.

With her arms outstretched, she said gently, “Good-bye, Nanny, I love you.” I hugged her so hard I was afraid she might crumble. And then I ran to catch my plane.

I never saw my sister alive again. After nine operations, three courses of chemotherapy and radiation, she had lost her three-year war. By the time I flew back to her side it was too late. She was gone.

The months after Suzy’s funeral were the saddest in my life. I wanted to stay near my parents because I knew they needed me (the truth is, we needed each other), but I had a son and a home that had been without any attention for a long time. It was time to get on with it, to pick myself up and start living again. Some things are easier said than done.

I spent a lot of time thinking about Suzy. There is no way to accurately describe the void her absence left in my life. I also spent a great deal of time questioning my faith and wondering why such a good person was taken from a family that needed her so desperately. I often wonder, as many people do when they’ve lost a loved one, what really happens to a soul when a person dies. Was Suzy watching me? Did she hear me when I called her name out loud? After much thought I came to the conclusion that I would never know until I died myself, but I sure didn’t want to die in order to find out. Just in case, I wanted to do something to let her know how special she would always be in my heart. I was haunted by our last conversation and lay awake sometimes all night wondering what I could do to help other women with breast cancer.

Could one person really make a difference? http://ww5.komen.org/AboutUs/SusanGKomensStory.html

This was the story that inspired Dean.

“ I enjoy knowing what I am doing is making a difference, I enjoy seeing the same people every year, and I enjoy being able to do it as a family.”

Dean has always given to charity, but as of 2008 she leaned toward the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Dean started after her mother in law, Patricia Dean, died of breast cancer. Dean claims that she imagines herself raising even more money for Breast Cancer then she already has.

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“ I have already raised a lot of money for breast cancer. I’ve already raised over 50,000 dollars, and i imagine i will continue to do that. “

Dean fundraises all of the time at her work, TGI Fridays, but she also fundraises at other places throughout the community.

“ I fundraise for church, i’ve done it in the neighborhood, oh gosh, well, Kiersten and I have set up spirit nights, we’ve done Chick-Fil-A, we’ve done um, bake sales, yard sales,absolutely, we’ve fundraised everywhere.”

Dean fundraises for many charitable events and looks to continue on in her future.

Scrap it, She’s Scrapbookin’

Written By: Madi D.

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(Above) Carleen Scott in the Mass Comm room.  Scott’s favorite thing about scrapbooking is keeping memories alive.

For two years now, Carlene Scott has had a place in her heart for

scrapbooking.

“I love how I can look back at all of my memories.”

Not only does Scott use pictures that she takes, but also does something

very neat with other kinds of pictures.

“I like to cut pictures out of magazines and put them into their own

scrapbook for things that I want for the future.”

Scott started scrapbooking simply by watching TV.

“ I was watching a craft show and they started showing scrapbooks and I

just really got interested in them.”

Besides scrapbooking, Scott also has some interesting other hobbies, for

example, Running track.

“I have won medals, ribbons, and even a coaches award for track while I was

in middle school.”

Scott has been running track for three years now and is looking forward to

running it in the spring on the school team.

Why is Scott even in Mass Comm you ask? Scrapbooking has barely anything

to do with Mass Comm.

“I wanted to come to Mass Comm because I that it is different that

all of the other specialty centers. It stood out and it just called me. You can come

out with more knowledge that you would have coming into some of the other

ott is also very active in school with her academics. specialty centers in Chesterfield.”

Scott is also very involved with her academics.

“I won the presidential academic award in middle school for my outstanding

grades.”

Unlike me, Scott has lived in more than one state.

“I was born in Michigan and lived there for a while, and then I moved to

Arizona. After Arizona I moved here. My favorite state is going to have to be

Michigan. The people there are just so kind and welcoming and it’s just a wonderful

state.”

Scott has a wonderful personality and some cool hobbies to! If it was my

choice, I think that everyone should get to know Carlene because she is an

awesome person!

Carleen Scott in the Mass Communications room.