lilacs in bloom may blooms lavendar natural plants essential oils

May’s Little Black Bag

Cancer, Encouragement

“You know those are kinda strong, right?” said Tom. He looked straight ahead at the road. I grinned and watched him drive. I continued layering on essential oils from a little black bag I carry in my purse.

“Yep. I know. They’ll wear off a bit before we walk into the building.” Maybe.

I do a 30-second nutritional scan every 4-5 days. It’s sort of like a fitness tracker – it uses scientific technology to match up frequencies in my body with frequencies in essential oils. Once the personalized scan report shows me the top essential oils and supplements my body is responding to at that moment, I load up my little black bag for the week and then I layer those liquid gems on my skin each day for wellness support. It takes just three seconds for essential oils to get into my body and they reach every cell in the body within 20 minutes. They release emotional trauma. They are capable of passing the blood-brain barrier. They are a key part of my journey at this time to remain above the wellness line. Most empowering scan for this cancer survivor, ever.

We parked and walked a short distance into the building where my annual CT scan results lay waiting. Ready to pounce? Or ready to send us happily on our way?

“You smell really good, what is that??” asked the receptionist when I checked in at her desk.

Today, friend, my little black bag holds Coriander, Dill, Cardamom, Copaiba, Black Pepper, Frankincense, and Tangerine essential oils that are all rubbed on my wrists. Joy and Aroma Life go over my heart. That doesn’t include what I researched and chose to use at home most of this month such as Sacred Frankincense morning and night on the soles of my feet, over my lungs, cupped in my hands and breathed gratefully into my lungs; alternated nightly with Exodus II on my feet; Thyme and Oregano alternated daily in the morning on my feet; JuvaCleanse in my water and over my liver; Forgiveness over my abdomen; Hope on my ears; Release in the diffuser at night with Lavender; immune support blend rolled on my spine before morning mineral makeup… and Progessence Plus, Lady Sclareol and Sclaressence for support for menopause courtesy of chemo and radiation seven years ago…

“Oh, thanks!” Those were the words I said out loud. Tom had mysteriously moved to the far side of the waiting room. “The scent is from a few (cough) essential oils I wear for wellness support.”

The lab tech took my blood pressure. The reading was higher than usual. That’s how I roll in the oncologist office.

We were led into an exam room. Silence sat with us for a few moments. 50/50 chance of sun or shade. 100 percent chance of God’s love and care.

The oncologist entered with a slight smile on her face.

“I’m happy to tell you that your scans remain stable.” We exhaled. She went over a few more details.

“You mentioned the benign lung nodule when I saw you before the scan a couple weeks ago; has that changed at all from last year?” I asked.

Over the past two weeks, between the pre-scan consultation and the actual CT scan, I did all I knew how to do for a “spring detox”. I went back to the basics of moderate juicing and mostly plant based foods. This is good to do periodically throughout the year anyway, and to be truthful, I feel best when eating this way. I had also been consumed with researching ways to support healthy respiratory and lung function using specific essential oils. A fearsome thought had taken up residence in my head after the consultation. What if, after being clear five years from cancer affecting my colon, the little sleeping lung nodule she keeps talking about could become a new problem?

“Oh, yes, the lung nodule. Let’s see.” The oncologist studied the report on the screen. “No, there is no change. Wait. Actually… it did change.” (Angst.)

“It went from 2 cm down to 1 cm.” (Joy. Whoa.)

We discussed a couple more regular tests she wants me to have. I won’t need annual scans going forward. We’ll just do annual monitoring.

At the checkout desk the staff members were still commenting on how nice whatever I was wearing smelled. I know, right? It’s the best. Simply, the best.

“Thank you! I’m glad you like the scent.”

Tom and I walked out of the building. We looked at each other.

“It could have gone either way. 50/50. People hear a different outcome than we just did, every single day.” He said exactly what I was thinking.

We know and love some of those people.

We’ve been those people.

We could be those people again someday.

Green trees, bright May sunshine, and fresh air.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.Psalm 57:1

A week after my fifth annual “all clear” visit with the oncologist in May 2018, I was using my oils and thinking about something my dad used to mention. He said there was a lady in his family that used to carry around a little black bag. He thought perhaps she used herbs. This intrigued me because I was trying to support my body in a similar natural fashion through the good gift of essential oils. I asked different family members if they knew whom my father had meant and each person said I needed to call my Aunt Maybelle. She is my dad’s older sister, and she patiently listened to my questions on the phone.

“Of course! That would have been your great grandmother, May Emily Morgan Burd. We called her ‘Ma Burd’. She was a midwife, and she carried a little black bag with herbs in it to help people.” I was grateful to my aunt for sharing her knowledge about my great grandmother.

I have a whole new fondness for my little black bag. I don’t have Ma Burd’s knowledge of nursing people and helping them with herbs; but you’d better believe I will keep right on filling my own little black bag with the herbal goodness from essential oils. They are one key blessing among many things I do to try and stay above the wellness line.

may emily morgan burd daniel ferris burd

May Emily Morgan Burd, seated with my grandmother, baby Verna Burd, on her lap; daughter Vera, Daniel Ferris Burd, and their son, Robert. Thanks to Aunt Maybelle for her help with my questions. Thanks to my mom for forwarding me this photo.


stage four colon cancer survivor

Sharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor who has been NED (“no evidence of disease”) since 2013. She loves coffee, writing, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work and that have helped support her personal journey with cancer.

[ More about Sharon ]

Sharon’s Note: As always, information I share about my personal journey with cancer is never intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Only your awesome doctor can do that kind of stuff. I DO intend to share strategies that have given me hope in a hugely hopeless situation. I started using essential oils in Spring 2017. God puts the things we need in our paths at the time we need them and oils have been a game changer for my life as a cancer survivor. You can see different resources I’ve used along the way since 2010 on the What I Did That Helped page.



Be a Sister: Faith Truth & Love Magazine

Cancer Resources

Sustain Me: Notes on Cancer, encouragement for cancer patients, stage four cancer, stage three cancer

One of our goals is to connect readers to inspirational online resources, especially ones that may help cancer patients. This week we are pleased to introduce Faith, Truth & Love, an online magazine for women.

By Brenda Smith, Editor-in-Chief, Faith Truth & Love Magazine

“Everyone generally wants to feel important, needed, wanted, and loved. Being a part of a group meets those needs for some of us, even if the group, or community is not the best influence.”

That thought is what inspired me to create an online community for women that would be a positive experience for those looking for support. In April of 2013 I decided to create a personal blog to give advice to others, and share my insight about different people, or events. After three months I started to lose my interest for writing the blog. I thought to myself, “Who is benefiting from what I have to say?” After a month of blogging my site turned more into a celebrity gossip site, more than anything else. After a few days of asking God for guidance the Holy Spirit lead me to create an online magazine later that week: Faith, Truth, and Love Magazine was in the works.

When I launched Faith, Truth and Love magazine, I was a full-time college student. I quickly discovered that I could not write everything for the site on my own. I prayed to God for help to find women that would write for the site, and the next week I had seven writers! I learned that I, too, needed a group of women to support me while creating a community for women.

The goal of Faith, Truth, and Love Magazine is to bring women together who are followers of Christ, offer sound information in different areas of their faith, and also share wisdom about day-to-day living. I wanted to create a place online where women can feel safe to ask questions, give their opinion, and encourage each other, without feeling judged.

I gave my life to Christ on April of 2012; it was a struggle for me to find the right people to get guidance from, and because of that personal experience, my goal was to minimize that challenge for others. We live in a time where social media is often used more than the Bible. I decided to take the Gospel to social media, along with many others who have a similar desire to reach and minister to people through their experiences.

Building cancer awareness through an online community of women was another goal. This is a mission close to my heart because I have lost two relatives due to cancer. Both of them were males, but the support I received helped me though the grief. I find women who go through cancer treatment to be simply amazing. It takes a strong woman to choose to fight the battle instead of giving up. I believe that God, and a strong support system, is what helps get people through the cancer battle.

There are so many women who are hurting, feel alone, forgotten about, and rejected. This is why I feel community is so important for women. Yes, the men in our lives are very important – but women have a unique ability to encourage one another through our friendships. We need to be there for each other, and build a bond of sisterhood by investing time in each other.

I challenge every woman that reads this article to be a sister to another woman, or a girl who needs a friend or mentor. Be kind, loving, and gentle to each other. We all need someone on this earth that cares for us.


Brenda Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Faith, Truth and Love Magazine

Brenda Smith is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Faith Truth and Love Magazine. She created Faith Truth and Love Magazine (FTL Mag) to bring a community of Christian women closer to God, while helping them with everyday issues. She is currently a junior at Davis College pursuing a Bachelor in Religious Education degree with a concentration in Counseling. Brenda is also working on her first inspirational e-book.

 Connect with FTL Mag on Facebook and Twitter.

 Sharon’s Note: Brenda kindly invited me to contribute to the online community over at FTL Mag. You can read the article from September 2013 on “Maintaining Your Faith through Cancer” by clicking here.