Meet Paula Mayfield-Ford
The first of the 10 amazing, Queen of Kings women selected. Her story is full of friendship, family, humor, strength, and grace. The gown she chose, that was provided by Paparazzi Glamour and Gowns, is truly a reflection of her, LOTS of sparkle and the ability to shine even on her weakest day, the day after chemo. I hope you enjoy her story as much as we did. Please feel free to share!
Friendships and humor…
My story began in February of 1976. Mary Mitchell (my Mom) had an X-Ray to identify the size and exact location of her hiatal hernia only to find after six years of trying she was three months pregnant with her first and only daughter, precious Paula.
So my loud, spastic never boring life began as a shock and surprise to my family. I am still shocking and surprising everyone that knows me on a daily basis in a variety of ways everyday. SIDE-NOTE: Are you as curious as I am about how much of my spasticness is a direct result of the x-ray waves that found my existence… you know you were thinking it?
My childhood was good in rural Henderson, Kentucky. I grew up with lots of family and friends. I was active in many organizations in high school and constantly pushed the cards with all authority figures just enough to be a challenge but never quite enough to get in actual trouble. My parents were supportive, yet stern.
I was a big pest to my two brothers. They were 6 and 8 years my senior. I have developed a close relationship with my brother and his wife closest to my age. I have a more parent-child relationship with my oldest brother and his wife who have had to take care of me many times. One other important fact to note, I basically became an only child at 12 because both my older brothers were off to college. Just what my already headstrong, spoiled brat self needed.
After high school graduation, I headed off to the big city in Evansville, Indiana for college. I quickly joined Delta Zeta and found my love for Bud Light, girl power and Euchre. College was a blast, or at least all the parts I can remember…just kidding…but seriously.
I paid my way through USI by working at CMC, Lazarus, and Ellis Park. You would think three jobs and 21 hours a semester would keep my nose clean, but I found plenty of time to squeeze in lots and lots of mischief. No specific names or activities will be mentioned to protect everyone from prosecution (though surely there are time limits on that).
I made a lot of my best friends in college. Seriously, I love these people, their spouses, and their children! My Greek family, classmates, and co-workers formed the deepest, most long-lasting relationships anyone could ever ask to have.
During college, I found myself. Surrounded by love and friendship, I found my second family. At CMC, I worked under the guidance and influence of some of the best people in this city. My bosses, my bosses’ bosses and coworkers are still my great friends today! CMC taught me how to work hard. Delta Zeta taught me how to love deeply. They both taught me to respect everyone and never underestimate anyone. I got a full-time job at CMC after graduation. I worked there from 1994 to 2004.
Soon, I decided to get an MBA. I chose USI and paid as I went again. I worked full-time at CMC and part-time at Lazarus. My boss at Lazarus was a mentor and a friend. She worked with my school schedule and full-time workload. We quickly became good friends. She taught me a lot about helping others and to take pride in my work.
I met Ben Mayfield in 2000 while taking graduate classes. He had a kind heart, shared my love for beer and was willing to put up with all my craziness which led to us living together within six months. I was engaged and married within five years.
Three short months after our July wedding, I found out I was already 10 weeks pregnant with our first daughter, Lillian. Two months before Lilli’s first birthday, I found myself pregnant again with our second daughter, Mary. For someone who hated everything about being pregnant, except getting that way, I was sure starting to make a habit of it. Ben had a vasectomy for his own mental wellbeing while I was still pregnant with Mary.
Sadly, Ben and I divorced in 2008. It was a tragedy for both of us but necessary for a number of reasons.
During my marriage planning and pregnancy whirlwind, I had began work at Pro-Tex-All. I had decided to try my hand at sales and what better thing for a clean freak to sell than cleaning supplies. I loved it and of course, loved my coworkers! I am still friends and see many of them today. It was a family-owned business and quickly became part of my family.
In 2005, I finished my MBA and had a love of sales and marketing. Opportunity knocked at my door with an interview at IMI, a concrete company?? Yes, that’s right! I immediately fell in love and found so many more people to add to my family. IMI has been my rock. I had both my girls while at IMI, got divorced while at IMI, and got cancer while at IMI. I like to say CMC taught me how to be an adult, but IMI taught me how to survive the storm! I still have amazing friends from IMI and am friends with a number of my customers as well.
Another family to introduce is Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish. We joined after getting married in 2005. I knew immediately that I had a faith family to add to my abundant brood. Everyone was so welcoming and inviting. I was also blessed with a surrogate mother to help me on earth while my Mom keeps watch from Heaven. Both girls have been at Holy Redeemer School since Mary was three and Lilli was four years old. My oldest, Lillian, is in 8th grade and in her last year at Holy Redeemer. I have again made many life long friends. They have raised money for me to help with expenses (in partnership with IMI and Pro-Tex-All too), made me meals, kept my girls, offered rides and a few have changed bandages and administered medicines when needed.
SIDE-NOTE: The moral of my story is I have been blessed by the most amazing people. I have my family, college friends, work friends, customer friends, church friends and have found so many others in every area of life from my realtor to kinder music class parents. I have received so much love that my circle of trust seems infinite! If any of you are reading this long-winded tale, I LOVE YOU!
Then in 2012, just before my 36th birthday, I found a lump in my left breast. I had just had a full gynecological assault (otherwise known as a pap-smear and exam) a mere two months earlier, so it must be nothing, right? I waited a month to see if what I thought was a cyst would go away. When it didn’t, I wasn’t sure what to do. Then, a good friend of mine offered to pay my $20 co-payment just for pure peace of mind. My appointment was around 9 a.m., and I was referred to St.Mary’s breast center by lunch. I left there around 5 p.m. with a biopsy scheduled for the following day at 7 a.m.
My life was very good: I was up for a promotion at work, I had an amazing babysitter for the girls who had become family, my friendships were strong, I had a new house, the girls were thriving at school and home, Ben and I had become co-parenting champions… I don’t have time for this!!
SIDE-NOTE: Workaholic-planners do not handle such long days completely out of their control with tons of waiting and a large amount of poking and prodding all over my NO-NO Square. I was furious when they wanted to jack up the next day too. I had to think they were overreacting more than me…WHAT??!!??
Thank God the St Mary’s staff was unaffected by my temper tantrum and intimidation tactics because those two days began my now seven-year battle with breast cancer. The cancer was classified as stage three with a double mastectomy, radical lymphadenectomy, a complete hysterectomy, chemotherapy and radiation scheduled within the first year.
My life then changed drastically, not from this little case of cancer, but the unthinkable happened. My mom had a massive stroke on Christmas Day while I was taking my first regimen of chemotherapy. She remained incapacitated and mostly unresponsive until her untimely death exactly two years later on Christmas Day.
My cancer literally killed my Mom. I know I undervalued her presence because once it was gone, an actual part of my soul was missing. The cancer broke my body into pieces and losing my Mom broke my soul. Thank God for my supportive friends or that would have been a dark abyss I may not have been able to recover from.
I am able to memorialize my mom and her mom, my Granny, after some creative help from Tracy Zeller and her jewelry experts. My mom’s engagement ring setting is now a pendant. Granny’s engagement ring diamond is atop a Great One Divine pendant and both their wedding bands are earrings adorned with the diamond my mom had gotten for her 25th wedding anniversary. Look closely at my pictures to see these precious keepsakes.
My first reoccurrence was only five months after radiation and nine months after my initial chemo. My idea to complete the chemo diet plan and get larger than life replacement boobs before anybody even realized I had missed a day of work DID NOT work out for me AT ALL. Now I was classified stage four, and incurable, unless granted by the grace of God.
Yet again, I was blessed with the most amazing people along my journey. My existing friends and family took multiple vacation days from not only their jobs but from their entire lives to go to Texas over the course of two years to get my cancer under control. Everyone was so kind and generous from Dr. Dicke and his team, all the nurses and even the hotel staff where I stayed all became my friends. I made several new friends in many places I frequented. Some were made at the nearest bar (hey everybody deserves a beer or 4) and another was a local friend of a friend who took me to church and bible study as often as possible. Dr. Dicke and Dr. Ahmed collaborated on my next maintenance treatments at home, and I had 21 beautiful months on oral chemotherapy only. Not a perfect scenario like a cure, but a blessing for any stage four cancer patient.
I met another new family when I joined the Livestrong program at the YMCA. They are a kind and selfless group of fellow cancer warriors along with three class act instructors. I have been able to learn so much about what my body is capable of overcoming and how a group of other cancer patients can really teach me about myself. These great women still reach out to me and one special friend visits me with meals frequently!
SIDENOTE: My Livestrong class and I have a special bond as they witnessed my fluke bench pressing accident. If you don’t know this story you may want to sit down for this…one of my implants perforated the muscle holding it in place and partially ruptured while I was bench pressing leaving me VERY lopsided! Seriously you can not make this stuff up people! Thank goodness my wonderful plastic surgeon, Dr. Gutter, immediately scheduled corrective surgery with new and improved implants and I was back to my PERKY self in no time.
In 2017, a good friendship with a man whom I knew from both Holy Redeemer and IMI became more than a friendship. HEEEEYY! Skyler had stolen my heart. As I began dating for the first time in 10 years, I tried to figure out dating with cancer, kids, a strong relationship with Ben, my many friendships as well as my scars and insecurities. Then, all of a sudden, BAM another reoccurrence.
A brief courtship became a marriage, now I’m Mayfield-Ford as I began traveling back to Texas for aggressive treatment. The cancer that began in the breast and several lymph nodes resonated in three places on my spine, my hip, my rib and now the lining of my lungs. A major accident with my younger daughter’s, Mary, compound arm fracture brought me home early. So I decided to stay in Evansville and finish my IV treatment. Once that was completed, I made it another 16 months on oral chemo alone. Then I faced another reoccurrence to my lung in June of 2019. I’m back on IV chemo indefinitely to try to keep the cancer at bay.
My story is very wordy and boisterous like me. It is chalked full of great friends and family just like my everyday. I skipped the details of many struggles, police encounters, a tornado, illnesses, and losses; but, I also skipped celebrations, accomplishments and many generous gifts not because they weren’t important to me and my story but because it’s about the people. The people who have lived through this journey with me, loved me, raised money, made meals, cleaned my house, changed my bandages, held my hair, helped me shave my head, drank with me, cried with me, made me smile and supported me from birth through today are the heroes in my journey of life.
Thank you everyone from my many besties to my families by blood and by love and to everyone I have encountered along the way. You each have left your imprint on my heart and made my life more special with your presence no matter how brief or in-depth our relationship is or has been.
Most of my organs have taken a pretty good lickin’ from seven years of chemo and cancer growth, but my heart is full of love and feels stronger than before I got cancer thanks to each of you and this experience to share my story with the world. (ok maybe just the Tri-State but let’s not nitpick).
“Let us always greet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love.” – Mother Teresa
Paparazzi Glamour & Gowns~blue dress
Tiana B Esthetics~Makeup