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TEXA A Tough 4 Years Local Man & Everyday Hero


God Writes a

Beautiful Story




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June 2019 |



table of

a letter from the

CONTENTS features




ummer, Oh sweet summertime in East Texas! I mean, who doesn’t love the scorching sun rays, that make you want jump into water somewhere?

Who loves to watch those beautiful summer sunsets in the sky at night? Well, living the Texas way, that’s what we do here in East Texas. As I put this issue together, I was torn with emotion in every direction. There are four stories that both tug at the heart and show the courage and selflessness of our family of friends. First of all, our Feature Cover story is about a young women who had infertility issues, and how a selfless act from her sister-in- law brought a trail of emotion for everyone, with a beautiful ending. Next, Mandy Estes opens up to me about her battle with cancer that she is going to overcome, and how things have changed somewhat for her family. But with that being said, I can’t wait for you to read how courageous she has been through all of this.


l e t t e r f r o m the editor


God writes a beautiful story


p l a c e s & f a c e s


local man and everyday hero


the incredible edible egg


community profile

Bobby Daw sets an example of what a community needs to be able to help and support each other to make our TOWN one of a kind. Last, but not least, Mike Vickers is a super dad hero who tells us how he handles being a single dad and what it’s like a day in his shoes raising children. Sometimes we all get caught up in trying to live a life for others, and we don’t take the time to enjoy the things that may be gone from us one day before we know it. So last year I said I will have a garden where my girls can learn to grow things as I did when I was a child. (Check, that has been


a tough 4 years

accomplished.) I said we are going to spend a lot less time watching TV, enjoying our chickens and nature, and spending time with family and friends. These are the treasures in life, and we won’t be on this earth forever. So, let’s enjoy every minute that we can and worry LESS! Here’s to the summer of 2019! Hugs and Kisses -

June 2019 | | 4

June 2019 |



God Writes A Beautiful Story “Sisters-in-Law share incredible gift of life”


wo young women who are married to brothers – Magan, married to Jon Collins, and Hannah, married to Cory Collins (Jon and Cory are the sons of Bro. Chris Collins, Pastor of McClelland Community Church, and wife DeAnna Collins), have for the past year been

sharing the gift of life of Hannah and Cory’s four-month old daughter, Wren Elizabeth. Magan and Jon Collins were already parents of two children, a girl and a boy, ages six and three. Magan Collins was the gestational carrier (also known as a surrogate) for Cory and Hannah’s baby. There are two types of surrogacy – traditional, in which the surrogate’s egg is “harvested” and united with the father’s sperm; and gestational surrogacy, in which the prospective parents’ egg and sperm are united outside the body and then inserted into the uterus of the surrogate, who carries the baby (or babies) in her body until birth. One of the most precious moments of life is holding your newborn baby for the first time. It is

...and I told Him, “OK, I will submit to your will knowing your plans are always higher and better than I can ever imagine.”

a dream of many little girls as they grow up, and as Hannah Collins shared, “It is part of being a June 2019 | | 6

June 2019 |



woman – what our bodies were meant to do.”

During the year that the couple stepped back

But for many like Hannah, the dream fails to

from trying to become parents, they renovated

become a reality. “We began trying to have

their home, but never stopped thinking about

children about five years ago,” Hannah said.

and talking about how their dreams might be

“We soon learned it may be a difficult journey


when we were referred to a specialist. I had to have a surgery and then we did what’s called

Then Hannah said that her husband, Cory,

IUI (intrauterine insemination) which is a step

stated that he thought it would be great if

below IVF and a little bit easier.”

they had a surrogate and asked her if it was something that she would consider. “Then I

Hannah shared that she became pregnant

was confused – he was saying ‘surrogacy,’ and

after the second round of IUI but lost the baby

God was saying, ‘adoption,’ so I said to my

at eight weeks, which lead to a D&C. Hannah

husband, ‘Let’s just pray a little bit longer.’ I

continued, “Then we decided to wait little

had no clue what God was up to.”

while in order to heal. But our hearts still longed to be parents, so we began the process

Magan then continued with the story. “I

once more. We got pregnant again with the

had thought about being a surrogate. I just

second round of IUI but lost our baby at 16

thought that would just be so cool to do that for

weeks which led to two more D&C’s. There is


a scripture that I have quoted from Day 1: ‘He gives the childless woman a family, making

Hannah – “She went with me to one of my

her a happy mother. Praise the Lord! Psalms

doctor’s appointments and we talked about it.”

113:9’ I didn’t lose faith in God’s promise. My husband and I, once more, decided that we

“Before that, after one of her miscarriages,

were going to step back for a while to heal

I felt that it was God telling me, ‘This is it.’”

again. Honestly, I was not sure where we would

Magan shared. “It was like an audible Voice in

go from there. Cory is my rock and we have

my head. I was on the way to Lufkin with one

always found ways to encourage and support

of my friends, and I told her, ‘I just feel like I

each other through it all. So, it was about a

should do this.’”

year that we stepped back [from trying to get pregnant].

“Jon and I had talked about this. Jon took me by surprise at their housewarming,” Magan

“In the meantime, I just kept praying about

continued the narrative. “We had actually

it. I felt that God was telling me, ‘Why don’t

stepped out of the house and were leaving.

you consider adoption?’ I was like…‘God, you

He said, ‘You know what? Let’s just go on and

just have to have a heart for adoption, and I

do it,’” Magan said. Both Hannah and Magan

don’t know if my heart’s there.’ He [God] kept

shared that it was a conversation they will

on and kept on with me, and I told Him, ‘OK,

never forget.

I will submit to your will knowing your plans are always higher and better than I can ever

The two couples then went to the doctor


together in order to gain understanding about the process. That morning, Jon said to Magan, “Let’s pray about this and ask God to let us

June 2019 | | 8

June 2019 |



know if we are not supposed to do this.”

help place the baby in Mommy’s tummy. They

Magan then stated that once they arrived at

were involved in the nursery, the shower. We

the doctor’s office and discussed everything

did not keep them out of the loop. We kept the

with the doctor, both couples, along with the

children involved in it all.”

doctor, had a plan and then knew that this was supposed to happen.

Magan’s pregnancy with Cory and Hannah’s daughter, Wren Elizabeth, was uneventful. “All

The doctor told them that law stated that

pregnancies are different, but everything went

they would have to adopt their child when

well,” according to Magan.

the surrogate delivered it. Hannah stated, “I felt like God was telling me to adopt, and it

“When she was born, we [Cory and Hannah]

turns out I was going to adopt my own child.

wanted to name her after Magan, so we chose

That was an eye opener for me. All along God

Wren Elizabeth, as Magan’s middle name

wanted me to totally rely on and trust in him.

is Elizabeth.” The precious Wren Elizabeth

I’m so glad I did.”

resembles her Daddy, Cory, Hannah and Magan both said.

Hannah said that she and Cory’s embryo was so good that once it was implanted in Magan

The doctors took sperm from Cory and eggs

(although statistically, a pregnancy could not

from Hannah and fertilized the eggs in the

be 100% guaranteed on the first attempt), it

lab. After five days and upon determining the

resulted in a pregnancy.

healthiest embryo, that embryo was implanted in Magan’s uterus. So, the baby, Wren

Hannah said, “You know, from the time we

Elizabeth has Cory’s and Hannah’s DNA.

were little, God knew we would need each other in this way and strategically placed us [so it

There is a process to prepare a gestational

would happen]; because she is not my sister.

carrier’s uterus to receive an embryo from

We are sisters-in-law, married to brothers.

outside her body. Birth control pills are

God is so good.”

involved to keep the gestational carrier from producing her own eggs. Then, estrogen

“From the day I said, ‘This is what I feel like

thickens the lining of the uterus to support a

what was placed on my heart,’ Jon was 100

pregnancy and progesterone further prepares

percent for it,” Magan shared. “He said, ‘I’ll

the uterus for embryo implantation.

support you, no matter what.” Hannah wanted Magan to do an at-home “She has been so amazing, a true example of

pregnancy test, even though medical

love…how do you repay someone – you just

professionals prefer the carrier to wait for the

can’t,” interjected Hannah.

“official” blood test. “I told Magan to take the test, because I wanted to know. I also told her

“People ask, ‘How do your kids feel about

not to tell me if it was negative, but if it was

this?’” Magan shared. “They don’t know any

positive to call me,” Hannah said.

different. From the get-go, we kept it all in the open. We told them that God was going to

“A couple of days later, she [Magan] called me really, really early in the morning. She said,

March 2019 | | 10

June 2019 |



‘Hannah, it’s positive, it’s there!’ And we both just lost it there on the phone. We both were crying and at a loss for words. So, we knew before everyone else.” Magan then told of the call when labor began: “I called her and said, ‘Hannah, don’t freak out…She freaked out!” “The guys were at a 42 Night with the men of the church when Magan called and told me that she was ‘kind of hurting a little. I think I might be in labor.’ I said, ‘I’m calling the guys!’ So, then we load up and get to the hospital and she’s like a 4! I said, ‘Magan!’” “The contractions were different from before; every pregnancy is different,” Magan continued. “I wasn’t going to force it; when my water breaks – that’s when I’ll go.” Hannah had said that she would tell anyone wanting a baby to never give up hope, and Magan agreed. “I’ve had so many people come to me and say that they would do that in a heartbeat [carry a baby for someone who

PLACES & FACES 2019 butterfly release, first responders lunch, grill fest, Tera’s ribbon cutting, Tony Dawson roping

can’t]. I just tell them, if it is something you feel strongly about, just pray about it.” “The story didn’t stop once we had her,” Hannah said. “Wren is our miracle and she will always be a testament of God’s faithfulness and love. We hope to share our testimonies forever to help women who are walking in our shoes or considering walking in them.” Hannah is sure that all the prayers that were prayed by everyone brought an outcome that was guided by God. As she said in praise of God’s way, “God writes a beautiful story.” * email your submitted photos to By doing this, you grant the Natural Texan Magazine ownership and the rights to license and republish the photographs in any the issues. Submissions will be first- come-first- served basis.

June 2019 | | 12


submitted photos - 2019 butterfly release

J uJ u nn e e2 0 20 1 91 9| | n n a ta ut u r ar la tl et x ea xn an . n. n e te t| |1 41 4


submitted photos - 2019 first responders lunch

J Juunne e 22001 199 | | n a t u r a l t e x a n . n e t | | 1 51 5

PLACES & FACES submitted photos - 2019 grill fest

June 2019 | | 16


submitted photos - 2019 Tera’s ribbon cutting, Tony Dawson roping

J Juunne e 22001 199 | | n a t u r a l t e x a n . n e t | | 1 71 7

Local Man & Everyday Hero “M i k e V i c k e r s o f S e x t o n”

The number of children alone makes for a busy household, in this day and time. Collin, who is in college and Carsen are “in and out of the household,” in Mike’s words. Cooper Bice plays basketball on the junior varsity team and runs cross country for Shelbyville ISD. Seven-year-old


here is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted”

~ Henri Matisse

Tatom plays softball. The family resides in Sardis. Dad Mike works at Chevron USA in Carthage. When questioned about a typical weekday for

Remember profits follow passion! Painting by David Masterson

the family, Mike said his day begins at 6:30 a.m., when he wakes, then wakes the children. They dress, eat breakfast, and Mike gets them to school around 7:30. Then he drives to work, arriving about 8:15 to 8:20. On a normal day, he works until 5 p.m., and then drives home. The children’s maternal grandmother, Kaye Powell, picks the children up from school and takes them home. Most days, the babysitter is 14-year-old, Cooper. Monday through Friday, the routine does not vary too much.


hen many people hear the word “hero,” they think of heroes of war or heroes of one

On weekends, Mike takes care of the yard work

great, single act in life. However, it takes great strength to “carry on” when tragedies

and laundry on Saturdays. He also plans some

of life overtake a person. This is a tale of a man who is a real everyday hero – Mike

family activity to do with his children – movies, shopping, etc. On Sunday, the family attends

Vickers of Sexton.

church at Ephesus Baptist Church. For Sunday Mike lost his wife, Crystal, in March of 2018. The couple was a blended family: Crystal had a son,

lunch, the group often dines with Mike’s in-

Cooper Bice, aged 14, from her first marriage. Cooper was only two years old when the couple

laws. The children have some chores, but the

married. Vickers’ children from his first marriage are son, Collin, 21, and daughter, Carsen, 18.

cleaning is done once a week by a maid.

Together, the couple had son, Tristan, 12, and daughter, Tatom, 7. Even with outside help, it is a busy household. Other losses sustained by Mike and the children were Mike’s parents – the children’s paternal

Mike is to be commended for keeping his family

grandparents. Mike’s mother passed away in 2016 and his father just recently, April of 2019.

together and for being an “everyday hero.”

June 2019 | | 18

June 2019 |




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June 2019 |



The Incredible Edible Egg “farm facts about eggs”

The large egg is the standard most often used

What do dates on egg cartons mean?

and using a different size, without making an Dates on egg cartons and all other food

adjustment can affect texture, flavor balance

packaging reflect food quality, not food safety.

and consistency.

A “Sell By” or “Expiration Date” ensures eggs aren’t kept on shelves past a certain date. However, eggs can be safely eaten 2-3 weeks

When Do Eggs Need to Be at Room Temperature?

beyond the expiration date or sell by date. Some recipes specify that the eggs or egg

Difference Between Brown & White Eggs?

whites be at room temperature when added. In the case of cheesecakes and other batters

The color of the egg shell or yolk has nothing

with a high fat content, adding cold eggs could

to do with the egg’s nutritional value, quality

re-harden the fat, making the batter appear

or flavor. Hens with white feathers and white

curdled or lumpy. To avoid this, remove the

ear lobes lay white eggs; hens with red feathers

eggs from the refrigerator about 30 minutes

and red ear lobes lay brown eggs.

before use, or put them in a bowl of warm water while assembling the other ingredients.

Because breeds that lay brown eggs are


typically slightly larger birds, they require

Recipes that involve beating eggs or egg

more food, making brown eggs usually more

whites, with or without sugar, into a stable

expensive than white.

foam – soufflés, meringues, angel and sponge

How long can I store eggs?

id you know that you can tell whether an egg is fresh or stale by dropping it in water? A fresh egg will sink, but a stale one will float. Here are some more farm facts about eggs:

• Eggs contain all the essential protein, minerals and vitamins, and egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D.

• Eggs are good for your eyes because they contain lutein, which helps prevent age-related cataracts and muscle degeneration.

• An egg shell can have as many as 17,000 pores over its surface. • The edible part of a chicken’s egg is approximately 74 percent water, 12 percent protein and 11 percent fat.

• China produces about 160 billion eggs per year, making it the largest egg producer in the world. • There are roughly 280 million laying birds in the United States, and each produces 250 to 300 eggs a year.

• A chef’s hat is said to have a pleat for each of the many ways you can cook eggs. • About 60 percent of eggs produced in the U.S. are used by consumers, and about 9 percent are used by the foodservice industry.

• Egg shell and yolk color can vary, and the color has no relation to egg quality, flavor, nutritive value, cooking characteristics or shell thickness.

June 2019 | | 22

Refrigerate eggs at 40°F or less. Store them in their original carton on an inside shelf. The carton keeps the eggs from picking up odors or flavors from other foods and helps prevent moisture loss. Reference this handy chart for more egg storage tips.


Refrigerator (35°F to 40°F)

Raw whole eggs (in shell)

4 - 5 ks beyond the pack date or about 3 wks after purchase

Raw whole eggs (slightly beaten)

Up to 2 days

Raw egg whites

Up to 4 days

Raw egg yolks

Up to 2 days

Hard-cooked eggs (in shell)

Up to 1 week

Hard-cooked eggs (peeled)

Use the same day for best quality

Difference Between Large vs. X-Large Eggs?

cakes – also specify room temperature eggs. The eggs whip up to greater volume when they’ve had a chance to warm up a bit, 20 to 30

For eggs that are scrambled, fried, poached,

minutes. Because it’s easiest to separate whites

any size eggs will work. For most other recipes

from yolks cleanly when they are refrigerator

and especially baked items, size is important.

cold, this should be done when starting the

June 2019 |



recipe. Then let the whites stand at room

yolks special treatment. If you freeze them as

temperature while you prepare the baking pan,

they are, egg yolks will eventually become so

equipment and other ingredients.

gelatinous that they will be almost impossible to use in a recipe. To help retard this gelation,

What’s the Best Bowl for Beating Egg Whites?

beat in either 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or corn syrup per 1/4 cup of egg yolks (about 4 yolks). Label the container

Use a stainless steel or glass bowl. Plastic

with the number of yolks, the date, and

bowls can retain a film of grease. Bowl size

whether you’ve added salt (for main dishes) or

(and shape) matters. For proper aeration, a

sweetener (for baking or desserts). Freeze.

small mixer bowl is best for up to 3 egg whites;

Whole Eggs

a large mixer bowl for 4 or more egg whites. When beaten, egg whites increase as much as 6 to 8 times in volume. The bowl should be

Beat just until blended, pour into freezer

large enough to hold the expanding whites,

containers, seal tightly, label with the number

but not so large that the whites are spread too

of eggs and the date, and freeze.

thin. The bowl should be deep enough for the

Hard-Boiled Eggs

beaters to make contact with as much of the whites as possible.

You can freeze hard-boiled egg yolks to use

Can I Freeze Eggs?

later for toppings or garnishes. Carefully place the yolks in a single layer in a saucepan

If you have more eggs than you can use within a

and add enough water to come at least 1 inch

few weeks of buying them, you can break them

above the yolks. Cover and quickly bring just to

out of their shells and freeze them. Freeze only

boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and let

clean, fresh eggs.

the yolks stand, covered, in the hot water about 12 minutes. Remove the yolks with a slotted


spoon, drain them well and package them for

thawed. Thawed egg whites will beat to better

If you would like more information on the

volume if you allow them to sit at room

incredible eatable egg, please contact Jheri-

temperature for about 30 minutes. Use thawed

Lynn McSwain, CEA-FCH at 936-598-7744 or

frozen eggs only in dishes that are thoroughly

via email at



making sure that no yolk gets in the whites.

It’s best not to freeze hard-boiled whole eggs

Using Frozen Eggs

Pour the whites into freezer containers, seal

and hard-boiled whites because they become

tightly, label with the number of egg whites

tough and watery when frozen.

Break and separate the eggs, one at a time,

and the date, and freeze. For faster thawing

To Use Frozen Eggs

and easier measuring, first freeze each white in a standard ice cube tray. Then transfer to a freezer container.

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), you can freeze eggs


for up to one year. When you’re ready to use frozen eggs, thaw them overnight in the

The gelation property of egg yolk causes it to

refrigerator or under running cold water. Use

thicken or gel when frozen, so you need to give

egg yolks or whole eggs as soon as they’re

March 2019 | | 24

Substitute 2 tablespoons thawed egg white for 1 large fresh white.

### Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or veteran status. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating

Substitute 1 tablespoon thawed egg yolk for 1 large fresh yolk. Substitute 3 tablespoons thawed whole egg for 1 large fresh egg. Source: American Egg Board

June 2019 |




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June 2019 |



Community Profile “Mr. Bobby Daw”

Members of Shelby County Cookers participate in the Shelby Go Texas organization, which

June Crossword

travels to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo each year They also cook delicious meats for fundraisers, local festivals, many events around the town, most for benevolent causes. Bobby became a member of Shelby County Go Texan team in 1994. Bobby is married to a sweetheart named Debbie Daw, they have 15 grandchildren, so we know they stay busy! This man is a definition of doing anything for his community and going above and beyond. You can find him at the Shelby County Expo Center keeping the Rodeo Arena perfect. If you see the Shelby County Cookers, you will most certainly find Bobby. I know his family is proud to have him in their life, and we are certainly glad to have him for our community. Bobby Daw, I don’t know if Shelby county would be the same without you!


ommunity volunteer hours are a big deal here in Shelby County. Bobby Daw is a Shelby County native who goes above and beyond for our community. When I asked many people who they thought was someone that gives back to our community with a generous heart and

doesn’t expect anything in return, I had numerous people say Mr. Bobby Daw. From the first time I met Mr. Bobby I could tell he had such a kind heart and is such a wonderful person to be around. Bobby was born in Shelby County, but his parents, Chester Ray Daw and Faye Lynch Daw, moved the family to Houston when he was a small child. Bobby grew up there and graduated from M.B. Smiley High School. Bobby has one sister, Donna Daw Morris, who lives in Houston. Bobby ventured off and went to the Air Force, then transferred to Houston in 1981 and back to Shelby county after that. Most of you have heard of Shelby County Cookers, I suppose, right? Well if not, you will after you read this, because they are the cooks of this town. Shelby County Cookers re-started in 1988 after having dwindled down from its original formation. The re-established and invigorated Shelby County Cookers was founded by Rick Campbell. Currently, Will Lucas is the Chief Cook, Collin Mathews, Assistant/Local Cook, and Bobby Daw is the Coordinator. Shelby County Cookers are made up of about 38 members. June 2019 | | 28

June Crossword Solution If there is something you would like to see in an issue of The Natural Texan, please let us know!


Across 1. The things there 6. Feathery plant 10. Delayed 14. Actress ____ Hunt 15. Steel ingredient 16. Revered person 17. Qualified voters 19. Hawk, e.g. 20. Showed feelings 21. Penned 22. Flagmaker Betsy ____ 25. Blackboard cleaner 26. Singles 30. Move back 32. Sleep lightly 33. Recall the past 38. Challenge 39. Belief 40. Had creditors 41. Classroom Tool 43. Expansive 44. Pep 46. Grace closing 47. Not lying 51. Informal assent 53. ____ acid (nutrient) 54. Save 59. Of sound mind 60. Genetic 64. Those folks 65. Long-necked bird 66. Burn slightly 67. Not difficult 68. Minister to 69. Orchard members

4. Religious order 5. Join in 6. Evergreen 7. Time period 8. Decay 9. Compass pt. 10. Heavenly scales 11. Goodbye (Sp.) 12. Rich cake 13. Senior 18. Scent 21. Songbird 23. Peaceful 24. Stage decorations 25. Prepare copy 26. Gambling term 27. Ark patriarch 28. Bible book 29. Clairvoyant person 31. Become visible 34. Dubuque’s locale 35. Dog paddle 36. Relinquish 37. Adam’s abode 39. Camp shelter 42. Acapulco coin 45. Lawn 47. Speed 48. ____ Beach (D-Day site) 49. Dressed to the ____ 50. Foe 52. Holdup 55. Recipe direction 56. Walking stick 57. Desire 58. Looks over 60. FDR’s successor 61. Female sheep 62. Bolted 63. Conclude

Down 1. “Of ____ I Sing” 2. Shipboard spot 3. Toast spread

June 2019 |



A To u g h 4 Y e a r s “the Jeff & Mandy Estes family”

“After the mammogram, we had to wait a week for the results, and it was the longest week ever.” After the hysterectomy, Mandy’s mom came

have a mammogram before having implants

to live with the Estes family, because the

unless you are 40 and over.

twins had colic for their first years. Mandy was able to breast feed her twins for the first two

“After the mammogram, we had to wait a week

months of their life. She stayed until Mandy

for the results, and it was the longest week ever.

was healed from her surgery.

They called and wouldn’t tell me anything but told me I had to go and have a sonogram. When


The year 2017 was uneventful, except for the

they called back, they said they saw something

twins’ first birthday. Mandy said that she really

in both breasts. They referred me to Dr. Cagle

planned for that first birthday. The Estes’s just

to do a biopsy of it and by then, this was already

enjoyed being a family.

in November. Dr. Cagle did the biopsy and told me that he was almost certain that it wasn’t

he desire to have children is a strong one when a woman gets married. For those who

In April of 2018, Mandy had breast implants.

cancer. Two days before Thanksgiving, he calls

find that they are not able to conceive a child the natural way, in today’s world there are

“Then in about August, I thought that

and said that he was not sure if he should call

medical treatments to help bring the wanted pregnancy to reality. Jeff and Mandy Jo Estes

something was wrong with the implants,

two days before Thanksgiving and let me enjoy

underwent three rounds of IVF – In Vitro Fertilization – before their dreams of children became

because I felt a large knot that was under an

Thanksgiving or give me my results. I told him I

possible and their twin girls, Lynlee and Lyla, were born at the end of April 2016.

implant. The knot was sensitive to the touch.

wanted my results. Dr. Cagle said it was cancer;

But I thought that it would just go away, that

he didn’t know what stage it was in or anything at

“I had three full rounds of in vitro – about a year,” Mandy related. “I got pregnant with the girls

it wasn’t something to worry about. Then, in

this time.

and was told that after they were born, I would have to have a complete hysterectomy. The girls

October, I decided to go to the doctor, because

came early – a little over two months early. When I had them, everything happened so fast, I

I [the knot] was getting bigger. I went to Dr.

“My husband, Jeff, and I went in the next week

didn’t get to have the hysterectomy. The girls were born in April of 2016 and given the names

Brian Glymph, who has been my doctor for

to Dr. Cagle’s office and discussed what we

Lynlee and Lyla. The twins stayed in the NICU for one month before being able to come home.”

the past 18 years. He gave me a self-exam

were going to do. Oh, the biopsy showed that

and decided to do a mammogram, because he

the cancer was only in the left side; the right

Mandy had the hysterectomy two weeks before Christmas, 2016. Mandy never had chicken

felt something, also. Dr. Glymph sent me to

side did not. We decided to go ahead and have a

pox or measles as a child that her parents knew of. But the doctors felt that she had had the

another office in Nacogdoches and they did a

double mastectomy, because there is the chance

measles on the inside of her body, never confirmed. The doctors diagnosed Mandy with Stage 4

regular mammogram. I forgot to say something

that cancer would recur in the other side.”

Endometriosis in 2010 and said she would be unable to have children.

about the implants. By law, you don’t have to

June 2019 | | 30

June 2019 |



Mandy continued, “Dr. Cagle did the double

“So now, whenever I am finished with chemo,

mastectomy on December 14, 2018 and did a

I’ll go every three weeks for the remainder

dye test for my lymph nodes. It showed that the

of my life. I’ll be hooked up for a hormone

lymph nodes on the left were cancerous, as well.

blocker. The doctor actually gave me five to six years, but I don’t feel…I know that it

Mandy was referred to Dr. Cameron Sahid,

isn’t going to be that way. The hormone pills

an oncologist in Tyler and went “a couple of

prescribed for me after my hysterectomy are

weeks into January, after I was healed from the

what they say caused the cancer to grow. They

surgery.” This would be January of this year –

tested to see if my breast cancer is hereditary,

2019. The oncologist wanted Mandy to have a

and it is not – the girls are not carriers.” It is

PET Scan, to look at the bones. She had the PET

too early to test the girls for the HER2 gene.

“The doctor actually gave me five to six years, but I don’t feel…I know that it isn’t going to be that way. ”

Scan and it showed that the cancer had spread to two ribs and her left femur.

During all her doctor visits, Mandy was accompanied by her friend of 25 years, Krystal

“They told me that since it was in my lymph

Rabon, as Mandy’s husband works out of town

nodes and in my bones, it was considered Stage 4

during the week. Mandy noted that Krystal also

[cancer]. He actually told me that if I had come to

helped with the girls when not working.

him first, he would have diagnosed bone cancer, not breast cancer. But since it was diagnosed as

Mandy said she is considering alternative

breast cancer for the insurance, that is what it is

treatments after the chemo is done. “I hope

considered and spread to the bones.

to be accepted for clinical trials. The one I am trying to get in is at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona,

The doctor ordered six rounds of chemotherapy

but it takes a long time to get accepting. I

for Mandy. Since it was in the bones, it could

don’t think they start accepting you until other

not be healed. It could be treated, but not

treatment is done.”

healed. “I’m on my fourth round of chemo now. I had to have a port put in, and I’ll have it

Mandy said that her husband, Jeff Estes, has

for the remainder of my life. Instead of poking

been very supportive and stays home with the

me and going through my veins, they can go

girls when she has had chemo. She said that

[deliver the medications] through the port

the chemo either makes her sick or ravenously

in my chest. I go for chemo treatments every

hungry. She is also given steroids, which

three weeks, and I stay hooked up for six hours.

makes her body swell. Mandy will not have

After the chemo is done – I just recently had a


CAT Scan and that showed that everything is at a standstill – that the cancer hasn’t grown.

Prayers for this brave warrior, Mandy Jo Estes,

I have the HER2 positive gene, which means

and her family for the best outcome possible.

that everything grows faster than normal.” [HER2 stands for Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2, which promotes the growth of cancer cells].

June 2019 | | 32

June 2019 |



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