Friday, December 28, 2012

Whoo Whoo- I'm half way there and 2013 is on the radar

I have always been a person that looked at the positive vs. the negative- and this time is no different!! I am half way finish with this "chemo shitzzle". I have only 4 more to go and I am pretty excited about that fact. The Taxol is next, it is another unknown, I don't know what the side effects will hold for me, but I will put up a good fight just as I did with the AC. The Andriamyicin (Red Devil), was not a match for this chick! In fact, on the score card it was Traci 4- Red Devil 0!! I kicked her ass- yes she did manage to take my energy, and take my hair, but I won that battle, she DID NOT take my spirit! I hope I have the same results with the Taxol.
So the deal is, Jan 3rd I will start Taxol and the treatments will be every other week just like the AC. The plan is for a huge party at the end of these 8 weeks!! I have so many friends to thank for supporting me on this journey.
2011 and 2012 have not gone down as my favorites, but I know after all I have learned these past two years, 2013 is a year for renewal and I can't wait for it to begin. My life has changed so much since August and I am so thankful for all I have been blessed with. I am thankful for the friends and support Army that has literally come out of the woodwork. I am thankful for my family who is always there to hold my hand when I am in pain or wipe my tears. I can't EVEN begin to thank Olive (aka Kimmie) and Poptart (aka Cissy) who will stop their lives anytime I need them for anything or to drive Miss Daisy. I am also thankful to have met Super D (aka Dawn) on this journey. It really helps when you are able to reach out and talk to someone about the nasty's of chemo with someone who knows what you are going through. You are ALL the best and you have all taught me to be a better person and friend. So when you hear a lot of yelling and hollaring as the clock ticks down to 2013, it will be this girl!! I have never looked forward to a new year as much as I do this year!! Willie Raes, look out for the Party!
So I wish EVERYONE a happy, healthy and blessed 2013- I love you all!!! If you are reading this blog, you are my Army and you are what keeps me going on this fight!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Roller Coaster Ride #3....not my favorite

Well, Chemo #3 on Tuesday, was not my favorite so far! Kim showed up to drive Kristi and I to Dr Hahm's, and I was feeling icky.  I don't know if it was nerves or something else, but let's just say I was already puiney. I get back to the room and the nurse tries to access my port and it didn't work. She called in another nurse and they couldn't get the sailene to push through the port. Until they get the sailene to push and they are able to draw blood, to know they are in that heart vein, I am unable to get chemo. GREAT! They call in Kim, the PA and she wants me to immediately have that port checked out. She is concerned I am not feeling well because of the issue with the port. So they call the Vascular Surgeon and get me an appointment. I show up and the first thing he tells me is that I may need to have my port replaced...under LOCAL....into my JUGULAR.. If I wasn't scared, freaked out, emotional all ready, that pushed me over the edge. Luckily, Lloyd had rushed over there and was with us. Have I told y'all that Kim can faint at the sight of blood OR the discussion of it? She sure has toughened up, but I still worry about what she sees. Plus, I don't like to fall apart or be scared around the kids. Just not how it is supposed to go down. Anyway, they took me back and under the xray- they accessed my port. It hurt like hell, but they did not see any problems. So I told them to call Dr. Hahm back and while the port was accessed I wanted to go ahead and get chemo over, TODAY!!

So we rushed back to the infusion room and had the chemo- so 3 down 5 f'n more to go!!!
Last night, Christmas and what it means to us this year, hit us pretty hard. We are so lucky! This cancer could have been so much worse. We feel like we dodge a huge bullet and should really be counting our blessings this year! So Merry Christmas to you all- I hope that you are all blessed as much as we are this Christmas Season! I love you all!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Emotions and My Yardstick

Today we are going to delve into the emotional issues of cancer-
My cancer warriors will appreciate this, I think. Some of you it might offended and it might sound harsh. Oh well, cancer is harsh, so if you are scared about it being offended STOP READING.

1. Isolation and Don'ts- The first thing the Dr.'s tell you is DON'T GET STRESSED- um, I have cancer (stressful) I had my daughter get married and now she is moving away (stressful) It's Christmas (stressful) Don't leave the house (boring AND stressful) I have two businesses (stressful)

So you isolate yourself and try to remove ALL stress factors- ummmm
DON'T GO NEAR CROWDS, like the mall or church. (It's Christmas, REALLY). Don't go out to eat, because of the risk of food poison. Don't eat salads or anything raw. (But get good nutrition- contridiction)
DON'T GET SICK-(but you have no white blood cells) So here I sit in the house, day after day- guess that is why I am writing- I'M BORED!!!

2. Paranoia- so when we do leave the house, for a Dr's visit and we hear a cough- YIKES - now I am a germaphobe! Oh Please, I worked in an enclosed metal tube with people who would rather fly deathly ill, then to change their ticket, AND THEN leave their wadded up kleenex for me to pick up from their seats or the seatback pocket. So leaving the house now consist of tons of hand sanitizer and running from coughers, because you are paranoid of getting sick.

3. Fear- fear of the unknown, fear of your own mortality, fear of chemo and side effects, fear of germs, fear of anyone you love going through this- EVER, fear of getting cancer somewhere else. That one is self explanitory! We now live in fear!

4. Empathy- This is probably the one I am having the most trouble with right now- My Yardstick and Empathy!!!
When you come to me with a problem, or you have an issue- I pull out my yardstick and see how it measures up to what I am dealing with or in the grand scheme of things, is it really important to me at the moment. It doesn't mean, I care less or I am heartless, or I don't care about anyone else right now, but your problems REALLY need to be important for me to deal with them. I know I am not the only one to do this, because I have heard Kim on the phone putting things into perspective for someone, recently. So my question is, how do you deal with this- is it going to be that forevermore, my yardstick is bigger than everyone elses? That it better be a huge complaint to measure up to get my concern or worry? I said in an earlier post that cancer gave you a magnified perspective on everything. You love more, you feel more, you hurt more- you care more- but how is it that complaints get less, if you are caring MORE? It contridicts itself, doesn't it?
So for my family, that is not getting the support they need, for their issues- I apologize. For others, that may need my time and stress right now, I can't give it to you, so you WILL have to deal with my support team- and I apologize.
Maybe some of my "Cancer Sisters" can help me put this into perspective and give me the therapy I need on this one!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shave..BECAUSE of the save

Longest the hair has been in forever....go figure!

Well, I heard Tuesday at chemo that this would be the week for the hair to fall out. Of course, I am the woMan with the plan, so I planned for "black friday" to be the day! I never knew why they called it black friday, so I thought, if any day would be black, it would be the day I shaved my head. I made Kim in charge of the gathering, cause I knew after chemo on Tuesday, I would be out sick, at least Wednesday and Thursday. In true Kimmie fashion, the girls all had their orders- wear their hair up and in full combat mode. Brittany got the face paint, they all gave me gifts and cards to take my mind off of it.

Unfortunately, I had already broken down with Kristi and Lloyd. Everyones response was the same, "you'll look beautiful.". I had to explain- I didn't care whether I would be attractive, I didn't want to now appear sick. I don't want people to feel sorry for me, and that is the first thing that you do when you see a bald chemo patient. I could at least go out in public before, and no one would know I was sick.
The timing for our shaving gathering, was right on time. My hair was falling out by the hand full on Friday. Once we got the original cry over, we got on to the shave. My fabulous husband was in charge of the shears, because Cissy and Kim were shaking too bad. We had a good laugh during the middle of the whole thing, cause I looked up at Kristi and she about fell out, because I looked JUST like my nephew, Will. She started laughing so much because of our similarities. My sister always said we ACTED just alike! Now it is official!
Right as we finished up, Dawn- Super D- came in with her baby and her beautiful bald head. We were both feeling a little puiney because this was her chemo week also. Talk about inspiration....she has two babies and this shit! I can at least go to bed anytime I want!
This is a great time to commend my daughters- wow! How strong they are having to be through this- plus they have their own stuff they are going through. Brittany had 5 exams this week, and Kristi was having to move out of her house, during all of this! But no matter what, they were right there with me to hold my hand and keep me strong.
The two reasons why I,  fight like a warrior!

My life, My Rock!!

That was the last occurance to have me on edge- now that the shaving is over and we can move on towards kicking this cancers ass, I got this shit covered!- So bring on the chemo cosmos!
Sorry for the bad word....but sometimes it is the only word that works with cancer- (thanks Jerry!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time for the Roller Coaster

Let me get out the Pink Big Girl Panties and put them on- so begins chemo week......

It's like standing in line for the monster roller coaster, it's too late to turn around, but the closer you get the more fear you have about the ride. Yes, even though I went through chemo two weeks ago, there is still fear of the unknown reactions and when they will hit. Not being able to plan doesn't sit well with this chick!
It's a great metaphor too, because the days are like a roller coaster, too! I can feel great and be out shopping with my sister and turn white and feel like I am going to faint, without any notice. Yes, the sweet sales associate at Belks had to walk me to the door, while Cindi went to get the car. I tried to hide how I was feeling, but can't hide how I looked....not from Cindi! I can also feel great and all of the sudden a wave of naseau hits and I can't make it to the bathroom quick enough. Things take a 180 degree turn in seconds! I can look great, when I take a picture at La Parilla- but you didn't see me in bed the hours before that to even get the energy to go out as planned.
This chemo also brings me one day closer to the shaving of my head- my hair already hurts, so I know the hair loss is coming quickly. It feels as if you are taking down a ponytail, after having it in too long. I am wrestling with the decision of how to "do" the head shave. Do I want to have the intimate moment with Lloyd and give in to the emotions? Or do I want to surround myself with "my big girls" and laugh and cry and have them to hold my hand? Don't know why I am making a big deal about it, cause I know what I am going to do! Kim and Cissy will be here for the intimate moment and be there for Lloyd and I. We will all laugh and cry! Cindi says she can't be here to watch. I will give Kristi and Brittany the option of whether they want to be included or not. I think they need to see their mom and the strength I am going to have to pull out my ass to do this, but I will let them decide.
We have also come up with a plan- I think it is the flight attendant in me that gives me the ingenuity and Cissy's experience. We are putting duck tape on my bangs and my wisps and then cutting them to save. We will then put velcro on them and use them in my hats. You can buy fake hair like that, but I want to use my own! Ok- I have my plan!
Since it is Thanksgiving week, I have to say I am so thankful for my husband, my rock. I am thankful for my kids, who make me so proud and give me such joy. I am thankful for my besties and the support they offer me on a daily basis. I am thankful for my sister and my mom who are always just a phone call away and will drop everything. I am thankful for EVERYONE that has offered my support and prayers over the past months.
Lastly, I am thankful for facebook, my blog and the voice I have to give in the fight against cancer. I am blessed to know 2 people going for mammograms this week, because of my voice. I also, unfortunately, know one person that has found a lump and is going to have that checked this week, because of my voice. Please keep this special lady in your prayers, that this sonogram is normal and no sign of a tumor. I love you and it will be ok!
Alright, buckle up and get those big girl panties adjusted! It's time to get ready.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sisterhood of Cancer - Kappa Omg-a Cancer

Week one after treatment one------

If there is one thing I have learned throughout this ordeal, it's this: there is a sisterhood that I have now joined. Anyone that knows me, knows I was never much for the sorority life- I didn't conform well. Apparently, I have no choice in the matter, now. Once you are diagnosed you are automatically put in this sorority of sisters. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE meeting alumni who have fought this fight and won - I LOVE meeting the sisters that are now actively fighting this disease, but you can't deny the conformity.
My bald head will give it away- back in my college days, it was a bow you wore in your hair or a t-shirt you had to show your sorority spirit.
I am going to Rock The Bald Head and hold it up proudly. I am going to put the t-shirts on and scream at all of you who don't take this disease seriously and make sure you check your boobs and get your mammograms. I am going to raise money for the cure of this horrible disease and that will be my "sorority platform". God has a plan for me and I will figure it out, before all of this is said and done.

Update- Week One has come and gone- overall the side effects of last Tuesday's chemo weren't too bad. I was icky feeling for a couple of days, Friday I couldn't get out of bed without throwing up, and today I am starting to get the mouth sores. My hair appears to still be on my head, for now. I will have this "good week" in between last weeks treatment and next weeks. I hate that I will have treatment 2 days before Thanksgiving, but I will have my good week on the week of Christmas, so it was a tradeout.
I will continue to rejoice in the good days and have fun on those days. I am now in "Neutropenia", which is the point I have to be really careful. My White Blood Cells went from 8.1 to 1.9- that means I am unable to fight infection, so I have to be very careful with who I am around, what I do, and what I eat. (That is your Cancer Class for the day).  I promise no test on this later.
Today I went to another great program the American Cancer Society provides (Look Good Feel Better) I LOVED Mary our instructor! She was a spit fire- and had the same sense of humor, as me. Dawn, my Cancer Sister, met me there and it was a blast! When I have helped raise money for the American Cancer Society in the past, I didn't realize where the money was really going. Now I see all the places it is going, not just to finding a cure, but this class and all the other ones they provide and all these wonderful volunteers that Mary! So thank all of you who helped me raise money for Team Traci!!
I rejoice over little things now, like taking a poo, no nausea, ability to eat, waking up and still having my hair, spending time with my loved ones, meeting new people, making someone laugh and saying goodnight and good morning to my husband. Before cancer, I went about my day and didn't think twice about much of that stuff. Cancer is like a Magnifing Glass that you put up to your life- Everything hurts worse, feels better and is noticed more.
I am still amazed at the wonderful  people that are in my life. People who I have known forever and I expected to be here for me, but also these wonderful people that are "just facebook friends" who give me support and the courage to be a warrior. You have all become such a great meaningful friend to me!
Smooches to you all!! Prayers to all my Sorority Sisters!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mountain #3 is now in my sights

Friday Kim and I went to see the oncologist and the plastic surgeon. The Oncologist, Dr Hahm, said the plan is the same....8 treatments of chemo, every other week. First, we have to attend "chemo school on November 1st, to find out what it is all about. Then, I will go have an echocardiogram on the 2nd of November, to make sure my heart is strong enough for the chemo. SO, I start chemo on November 6th. That will have me finished up in February.
After finding out all of that and finally getting a plan and a timeline, we hopped on over to Dr. Leake's. Although Kim has done great and hasn't fainted once (even when I showed her "dickey the drain"), she decided not to stay in the room while Dickey was being removed. Cissy and I proceeded to give gorey details about his removal though, just so we could see if she would fall out. I know, we are bad! Really we are proud of how strong Kim has gotten with our gore! So Dickey was removed, even though I was still filling him up, he had outlived his stay. Dr. Leake also wanted to fill the expanders- I was a little nervous about that considering I am still so "uncomfortable". I feel like I have a 2x4 across the top of my chest with tennis balls (now cantalopes) under my skin.
I am scared about chemo- just the thought of toxic poison going into my body, makes you a little nervous. But like I said before, I am on a mission to kill all those cancer boogers in my body. So, getting out the hiking boots, putting in the pink laces and Singing up the Mountain- here we go! Next stop "Chemo School" with Lloyd and Kim on Thursday!

Oh yeah, Saturday our team, Team Traci walked in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk- thank you to everyone who sponsored us and walked with us. It was a blast and we came in First as far as donations!! The American Cancer Society interviewed me last week and here is the link to that interview. Thanks again to all my wonderful supporters!!!
ACS interview

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Downhill side of Mountain Two

Well, I made it up and over Mountain #2, the wedding. I had to pull from every bit of strength I had to make it there. In fact, the Tuesday before, when Scott asked if I would be able to make it, I said..."if it were today or tomorrow, no, but maybe by Friday and Saturday"
I went to the Dr Leake on Thursday for my check up and had one drain removed. The other one on the side where the cancer was, still was not able to be removed, so "dickey the drain" got to go to the wedding with me. Since the surgery, the most it had ever drained was 65 ml- the wedding day it was 195ml...needless to say, I over did it a little and it has taken a couple of days to recouperate. I danced, I stayed till the wedding couple left the reception and I was able to WALK down the ailse and enjoy every last bit of it!!
Hopefully, Dickey will be removed tomorrow and I will be back up and at 'em. We are having another spa day and I will be going to Atlanta to get my "chemo hair". I figured it would be easier for Lloyd to shave short hair, plus it will be easier for me to style, before it starts falling out. (But enough of that- that is Mountain #3).
Mountain #1 was a hard climb- I really didn't want to start that climb, but I did. October 10th I showed up at Wellstar Hospital and put on my bear paw gown (a hospital gown with a hair dryer attachment attached to it to keep you warm). My Army was able to stay back there with me until I went back for surgery. This was actually 3 surgeries. First, Dr Robbins came in and cored out the cancer (she said it was pretty deep), she "amputated both boobs", then she inserted the port. The port will be used to administer the chemo directly into my big heart vein. The combination of drugs that I will be taking is very strong and can't touch your skin and damages small veins. It is called "red devil or red death". Once Dr Robbins finished up, Dr Leake came in and started the first step of reconstruction. He placed expanders under my chest muscles and then he filled the expanders with fluid. Enough to give me perky little B-cups, I had cleavage when I woke up! He will continue to fill these until I am the size I wish to be and then in about 9 months I will be able to get the permanant implants. I was unable to do that until after the chemo is complete. This pain was more than I expected- if someone tells you that it is just "uncomfortable" remember...they are on drugs!! I was supposed to stay in the hospital only one day, but ended up staying two nights. The morphine did not agree with me and so I needed to stay. The best way to describe how I felt was "road kill". I felt like my chest had been beat and mutilated and then stuck to the road and run over. Luckily, today two weeks later, I just periodically feel like I have been beat.
The good news that came out of the surgery was there was NO lymph noid involvement- YAY!! and the margins were cleared- so Dr Robbins was able to scrape that shit clean!! (Sorry mom for the use of the S*** word, but I believe the C***** word deserves the cuss words!)
So now here we are at the base of Mountain #3- Chemo Hill- don't want to start this climb either, but if getting to the top of this means killing every little Shit (cancer) Bug that wanted to stay in my body- then lets pull up our big girl panties, don our pink warrior outfits, and lace up those climbing boots!! I have an Army who will pull me up this mountain if I need it, so get to hiking!

On a side note:
Thanks to all that are reading these blogs and keeping me in your prayers- if this blog saves one woman and encourages her to feel her boobs or have a mammogram I have done my job. I have heard of a couple of people who have said it is wrong that I am sharing this journey with all of facebook, but I can't handle the bombardment of phone calls and only telling this once is so much easier- so I guess you have to say....I'm going to take the EASY road on that one. Plus, you can unfriend me if you don't want to hear cancer rants- this will be my life from now on- Cancer never leaves you, even when it has been eradicated from your body.

From this October 10
To this, October 20


Monday, October 22, 2012

The Commander and Chief

I want to write a little today about the "commander and chief of my Army. Lloyd stays behind the scene and lets the girls take the spot light...but he is the backbone of this organization. I have said this before, I am scared. I know my husband and I know he is too. He isn't going to let me see that, cause he has to be strong right now for both of us, but I can see it in his face. I could tell it when he lost it right before we walked down the aisle, at Kristi's wedding. I looked at him and said, "I made it". The reality at that moment and of the first obstacle, hit him. ...and me!
This man is doing so much for me right now. He his having to be my nurse, my hands (because I can't lift anything), my cook, my maid, and all of this after working from 7 am to 6:30 at night. Plus, he showers me, not only literally, but with care and affection too.
Lloyd, and his wonderful son spent the weekend cooking and cleaning up after 10 bridesmaids, one bride, a mother of the bride and a Kimmie! His balance was only shook one time during this, when he came home from work, to a broken bed he had to fix and dog throw up. Well there is the time during the wedding reception,  when his wife who just had major surgery wouldn't sit down and insisted on being stubborn and dancing! He did shake a little then, but it was more from anger! Ha ha...he knows me by now, so we won't talk about that!
There are so many things to be thankful for right now, but I have to say my husband is truly a blessing and he is at the top of my list. Cissy and Kim saw it when night after night for two weeks, he would come home from work exhausted to get my swinging bed made before I came home from the hospital. Well, it is complete and the love he put into the craftsmanship is so much more than I could ever thank him for! He is my lifesaver...and I could not be doing this cancer shit without him!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dear cancer (battle of the boobs)

Dear Cancer,
I have written you in the past. I am sure you remember me, I told you how much I hated you, when you destroyed my dad's body and spirit. I cussed you each time you have attacked one of my friends. What you don't understand is I am a fighter and I have an army helping me fight. You will be sorry you have messed with this chick. I don't forgive easily, and I never forget. I know my enemies and who are sincere friends. You, are an enemy.
The Battle of the Boobs was last Wednesday. You attacked and I counter punched and did it with aggression. I may be down right now, and I have had to retreat, but I will not hide from you. Sure, you caught me off guard. You attacked when  I was down with my shoulder issue,  I never thought I would have to fight you one on one. Certainly not at 47. I fought against you for others, but it is normal to say, I thought it would never happen to me. That's what I said. That's why I didn't do a monthly self breast exam, that is why it didn't matter that I was late getting the mammogram. I will now shout it from the rooftops that the SBE and mammograms are extremely important. I will not only fight you for myself I will continue the fight to cure you, to banish you. I will team up with the American cancer society and any other organization to kick your ass.
I know I still have more battles to come. I know I have four months of poison to make sure you leave my body, but I will win! In the end, you will lose! 
Battle of the Boob....winner Team Traci!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Well, that was fun!

Today someone posted that I was a warrior. That is how I like to think of myself, with my huge army by my side. But this morning, three days after surgery, I am feeling a little more like road kill. Something that has been run over, gross and kinda stuck flat out to the road. In my case it is the chair or the bed or my swing, that once I get into a comfortable position I can't move and I am stuck. If anyone ever tells you a mastectomy doesn't hurt that it is more just uncomfortable, remember thay are taking heavy duty drugs, and are not in their right mind.
I have to repeat that I am overwhelmed by the love and support. I have been amazed by the love...even from people I have never met. People who are friends of friends, people who don't know me, but have put me on their prayer list. It is so comforting to have this support. I can't thank you all enough!
I know this is just the beginning of a very long fight, but with the army of my supporters, I can climb any mountain!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ready, set

By now, all of you know how important all my "sisters" are to me, my real one and all those I have chosen to be my sisters. But this past weekend, Kimmie (my chosen sister) took me to St. Simons. She is one of the best sisters anyone could pick for themself! We were coming home on Monday, but we decided to postpone our return back to reality. I changed my pre-op appointment with Dr Leake to Wednesday, so we turned around- with the car all packed and promptly went BACK to the beach. As soon as we were all packed and we got into the car, I started having a panic attack- I wasn't ready to come back and face reality. Kim and Lloyd understood that and they both said, " you do what you need to do". I delayed the the panic and told Kim to turn around!
We spent the day at the beach, then we came in and sat on the balcony and talked. About dusk, Kim said, "come on ,we got to go take a drive." We hopped on the golf cart and went over to the Historic Coast Guard House and to the most beautiful beach on St. Simons. My nephew is in the Coast Guard, so I posted that picture on my Facebook page- he promptly responded with the CG motto- semper paratus (always ready or always prepared). I said in response to that, JUST LIKE AUNT T! 
Well, I woke up Tuesday morning having another panic attack, because it was... time. It was time to go back and face reality and to prepare- Problem do you prepare for this? How do you prepare for or get ready to face the reality of Breast Cancer?
I am at a loss- I have read other blogs and tried to take heed. Button up shirts, pj's with pockets for your drains, recliners to sleep in for as long as 2 weeks to 2 months (don't have that yet, but my husband is hurriedly making a swinging bed for my back porch!) Anyway, one week from today I will transform my body. I have had boobs- big ones, since 9th grade. Never really liked them, but they were me and who I have been. Don't get me wrong- I am not having second thoughts about a mastectomy! I want this cancer GONE!! After the surgery, I have a wedding to make sure is "prepared". I will have only 10 days to be back up and ready for my daughter's wedding. Talking about being in panic mode- I rushed out last week and bought 3 more dresses- All of that stuff, I THOUGHT was stressful enough without dealing with cancer too! Now, that wedding sounds like an easy task! On top of the wedding, my daughter has told me she is having to move away after the wedding. I wasn't prepared for that either. I totally feel I am not ready for anything! So after all of that, I will need to be prepared for chemo- 4 months of it! How the hell do you prepare to have red poison pumped in your body? I don't know the answer to that question, either.
So Aunt T- the one who is always prepared- who always is always ready, ready to have fun, ready for shenanigans, ready to be in control, ready to take care of everyone and everything, ready to pull anything out of her pocketbook like food or bandaids, ready to GO, ready for ANYTHING. Aunt T doesn't feel ready for this and that scares me!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Let's get it on....

So, Tuesday the "Fab 3" attacked the Dr's and their schedulers! I don't think they knew what hit them. Dr. Robbins (the surgeon) is in a hurry to get on with the surgery. She does not want to wait and was hoping to do it next week. WELL, Dr Leake (the plastic surgeon) went out of town for 2 weeks. He won't return till Oct. 1- and he didn't even ask our permission. We made that point to his whole office staff when we decided to attack their office!
Anyway, we sat down with Dr. Robbins scheduler and she couldn't get a committment from Dr Leake's office, because of insurance and his trip. We told her this would not do! If we couldn't do it by the first week of October, Dr. Robbins would just have to wait till after the wedding! Katie the cute little scheduler went to ask Dr. Robbins if that would be ok, and she of course said NO! Dr. Leake's office said they would call back next week. We told Katie what we were up against and of course she started to cry and say she could not imagine planning her wedding and her mom not being there. Which in turn made Cissy cry, but the heartstrings plan that Kimmie had divised, worked! Katie said she would hound the scheduler at Dr. Leakes office and have it all planned by Friday.
The "Fab 3" weren't going to accept any of that, so we got in the car and marched into Dr. Leake's office! We told the girls at the front desk the whole sob story and told them we wanted to see Meaghan, the scheduler. While we were at the front desk, we also got lots of donations for the Pink Ribbon Golf Tournament. More stuff for the goodie bags and some botox treatments for the auction!
Meghan came out and we found out that they had just got the ok from the insurance company and she would get back with Katie and call me TODAY!! I told her we prefer to do the surgery on October 2- that would give me plenty of time to get well for the wedding on the 20th.
By 3pm I had the answer- seems we left out one factor when we were marching around flexing our muscles and pulling at heartstrings.....the hospital. They couldn't get the hospital scheduled until the 10th- ugg! But, as I said before, cancer doesn't know who it is dealing with! I can be up and dancing at the wedding in 9 days, after the surgery!!


It's early morning and I had so many jumbled thoughts going through my brain. Usually when I get the urge to write its because I have a story to tell, this morning it's all just thoughts. Mrs. Harrell my 12th grade English teacher would tell me to organize my thoughts, so let's give it a try.
Strength, everyone keeps telling me I am so strong. That's a funny word, because I don't know if this is strength that I would use right now to describe me. I guess I just feel like I have a way to weather the storms. In the beginning, I usually put those sails down and head right into the storm, I ride that initial front that is blowing in and tackle the problem head on. To my loved ones, that is the "confrontational" side of my personality! Right now that is where I am, let's gather our information and be as aggressive as we can be and fight this thing till we beat it! That is not to say, that I don't try to find that protective harbor and run to it every now and then.
I know where my "strength" comes from, if you chose to use that word. It comes from my mom. I have never in my 47 years seen her "lose it" or freak out, or break down. She is a rock. I can't say the same for me. I have "lost it" on multiple occasions, you can ask my kids! She has so much grace and I admire her so much. So when I think of strong, I think of my mom, who at 87, I wouldn't mess with! I wish I had her strength with her composure. Hopefully, through this journey I will have a chance to work on composure and grace.
I have often watched new moms with their kids. The children fall down and the first thing a little one does is look to their mom to see their reaction. If the mom comes running and is freaking out, the child then cries and screams. If a mom has composure and quietly says your going be ok, then a calm goes over the child and he will get up and brush himself off. I have tried to raise my children that way. Don't ask Kristi about when I had her brush herself off and go to school with a broken arm, that was an extreme case of this example. Even though I learned how to brush myself off, my mom was there to hug and comfort after the fall.
My humor, well that comes from my dad. With a nickname like, Porky, how can you not be funny. Looking back when he got his diagnosis of cancer, I don't ever remember him having a bad outlook. It was almost like he didn't take it serious. I often wondered if he was just clueless and didn't know that with pancreatic cancer he only had 6 months to live. Or was it that he lived everyday, and didn't really care about time remaining? Or as my funny husband would say, "what's time to a hog"? I don't really know what that means, but I laugh every time he says it.
So, to get through this, my goal is to do it with the grace of my mom, the humor of my dad and the spunkiness of Traci! (that's Suzanne's word!)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Onward and Upward!

I feel as though I am writing "50 shades of cancer", everyone has asked me why I haven't blogged lately and they are wanting more! Well I haven't because we have been waiting.....not so patiently! Maybe if there was a reason for the cancer that was it, to teach me how to let go, how to turn it over to God, and how to be PATIENT!
So this week, I went for the Pet Scan- it is not bad at all, a very relaxing process. You are put in a room, they inject the radioactive sugar in your veins, they turn down the lights and let you rest while you wait one hour. I took my i-pad and read my book. Then they put you in an MRI-like machine for about 20 minutes and scan your body from head to toe. I DO HAVE A BRAIN, YAY!!
Yesterday, I met with Dr Hahm- she made us wait about an hour. Can I tell you that WAITING in a small room with my hyper husband, and the impatient me- is torture!! He thinks the reason we always wait in Dr's offices is because they are in cohoots with the parking deck and they get a kick back. I think it is because they are trying to teach the two of us patients- he said they will need a PHD to teach the two of us!!
Anyway, she walked in the room and she must have seen the fright we had on our faces, while we waited, because she said- "No other cancer showed up!" Both of us let out a huge breathe. I think we had been holding it for over a week!!
Dr. Hahm did let us know about the road we are getting ready to head down. She did say the double mastectomy will be "uncomfortable" and there will be a recovery time for that, but she is giving me time to bounce back and time to get through my daughters wedding before she starts chemo. So very late October, I will have outpatient surgery to insert a port. The chemo I have to have is very strong and can't touch your skin and it doesn't do well going in your vein. The drugs I have to have are a cocktail of Adriamycin and Cytoxan, I will have four treatments every other week. After that, I will have four treatments, every other week of Taxol. So all in all, four months of Chemo. I have to have the stronger more agressive chemo because the Triple Negative Breast Cancer factor. It is a more agressive cancer and if any little boogers got lost from this lump- we want to exterminate them with the chemo!! I will lose my hair- so from now on...Bald is Beautiful!! ok?
Next step is to return on Tuesday to the breast surgeon and she will schedule the surgery for the mastectomy. We need to get this ball a rollin' - I got too much to do!!
Again, thanks so much for the wonderful cards, letters, gifts, and facebook messages- y'all are keeping me positive and I love and I am thankful for each and every one of you!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cancer College

Cue the music...People let me tell you 'bout my Best Friends....
The past two days have been filled with 3 dr's appointments, boob feels, blood drawing, laughter, crying and lots of learning, that is why my two best friends look a little blurry! We have learned about BRACA, HER2, Estrogen receptors, nuclear grades, stages, triple negative breast cancer, pet scans, genetic testing, etc. I feel like I have been emersed in cancer college for the past two days. I have had two of my favorite, best friends in the world with me through it all! Kim the notetaker and Cissy the star student and 7 year cancer survivor, that asks the questions. Then there is me, going along in a daze, making the jokes to keep the fun in all this seriousness (ha kinda like high school). Except this time I retained all the knowledge learned and will pass it along, because so many have called to find out. So here is your lesson!
Tuesday we went to the Breast Surgeon and she had all the results from the MRI- good news....she believes the cancer is contained to the lump. Bad news...she wants to do the mastectomy ASAP- no waiting on my daughter's wedding, like I had hope. But like I am learning, I am not in control of this show. SO with that being said, let's hurry up, so I don't have to walk down the ailse with drain pipes coming out of my chest. It is really called drain bulbs, I call them the other, part of that humor. Dr Robbins saw that we were serious about getting the show on the road, so next step is to see the plastic surgeon TODAY at 2- whoo whoo. We have a couple of hours to spare, so what do three women with 2 hours to spare do, with all this heavy stuff going on ??? Well if it is the three of us, we go to Willie Raes and order wine and discuss all we just learned. Plus. it helps a little when you have to sit there with the plastic surgeon while he handles, measures and photographs your boobs! So day one is over and the plan is bilateral mastectomy, with the beginnings of reconstruction to take place at the time of that surgery. The plastic surgeon will implant an expander to stretch the muscle and breast tissue that remains. The whole reconstruction process takes about a year. He seemed to think getting rid of some of this "excess weight" (aka as big ass boobs)  might help the shoulder, also!
While we were at lunch, drinking the liquid courage, we decided to call back to Dr. Robbins office and get her nurse to call Dr Hahm's office and see if we could get that appointment moved up. We really didn't want to wait another week. Good news- Kimmie got it changed to tomorrow!!
So yesterday was that appointment, Kim picked me up and both of us had a little cry on the way to that appointment. Whining Wednesday- not the kind of whine we usually do! By the time Cissy met us at Dr. Hahms office, we were better. Time to get back to learning. Dr Hahm is fabulous and the best teacher EVER!! If anyone ever has to go through this, which I hope you don't...she is the person to go to! So, first she explains why I am there, usually you only go to the Oncologist before your surgery, if the surgeon thinks you might need chemo before the surgery OR the surgeon thinks you might need a PET Scan. The reason I am at Dr Hahm's office is the latter. The shoulder pain is a little concern for wanting the PET scan, in addition to the Enbral that I have been on for my RA, which causes some types of cancer.
She also does a metisistic workup- SAT word- that turned out good. My blood count, white cells and everything else looked good, so the lymphoma threat from the Enbral looked good. Dr Hahm also went over the type of cancer I have: Stage 2A Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. (Of course, all of that can change when they do the surgery- the tissue and lymphnoids will be tested again at that time). With the type of cancer I have, the only treatment is an aggressive chemo. BUT good news...I can wait on that till after the wedding! So I won't have to walk down the ailse bald headed! She ordered the PET Scan for ASAP, they should be calling today to schedule that for this week or next. Two days after that, I will go back to Dr Hahm so she can give me those results. Once she has the results, I will go back to Dr Robbins and she will schedule the surgery. We are thinking it will be at the end of September or first of October. SO, I have two weeks to get the wedding wrapped up!!
I am so lucky to have all of your support- EVERYONE!! I have received so many cards, prayers, gifts, messages and I love you all for them! I am especially lucky to have two amazing friends who have stopped their lives to be with me, to hold my hand, rub my back, make fun of my boobs, cry with me and comfort me and Lloyd! Then there is my wonderful husband who too, is scared, but is there to hold me at night when I fall apart and reassure me that we are going to get through this. I couldn't imagine going through all of this without them!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Even Warriors have bad days!

Yesterday was my first real breakdown- I am sure there will be many more! I have filled my mind with positive stories, like Cissy's, and put the bad ones out of my mind (like my dear friend Anne). So when I watched Robin Roberts yesterday, and how she is now going through a bone marrow transplant because of what she went through with the breast cancer, it hit me that the unknown is still awaiting me in this fight.
My army is so huge though! It is bigger than I could EVER imagine- the outpouring of support and the gifts that I have recieved since last friday, have been so overwhelming. I love each and every one of you. I am staying strong and staying positive.
Tuesday Kim, Cissy and I will be going to Dr Robbins to find out the results from the MRI and to map out our plans. Lloyd and Cindi will be taking off from work during the surgeries and the chemo (if it is needed), so we are letting them pass on the office visits. They will all be recorded, just in case the three of us can't remember something.
I can't sit here and do nothing of substance in this fight, so I signed up to walk in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on October 27th. I would love to have everyone join me!! If I am unable to walk, I will have you all meet at my house (so I can see you) and then go up there to walk together, as a platoon!!
I really hope to put off all treatment till after Kristi's wedding. That's my plan anyway, if I can be in charge! Ha ha Anyway, if that is the case, I will have the surgery as soon after her wedding as possible. If I do that, I will not be able to walk, but it has always been important for me to raise money for the American Cancer Society, so this walk gives me the opportunity to do something positive, through this negative! I would love everyone to sign up and help me (now more than ever in this cause!). Sign up now!!
Keep up the prayers and I will keep up the fight! Thanks again to all of you!! I love you all!

Friday, August 24, 2012


Well, Friday can't get here soon enough! I spent this past weekend in complete and utter fear.

 I felt a lump on my breast about 3 weeks ago. I had just made an appointment for my mammogram screening, so I didn't really say anything to anyone, including the dr. I went in for the screening on August 13th. The tech that was doing it was very concerned that I had not called my dr, but she did the screening anyway. When I left, I called Dr. Pitcher and she wanted to see me in within the next two days. I went and she was very concerned after feeling the lump. She referred me to a specialist at the Breast Center. They could not see me until yesterday (Monday). So, hince the title of this blog....I spent all weekend and this past week in fear. I have been scared before, like when Kristi had her seizure or when I saw Brittany wreck the 4wheeler, but never a fear that last this long. NOW I have to wait till Friday! I went to Dr. Robbins yesterday (Monday) and found out this lump is a solid mass, whatever that means. She did a biopsy that same day, and now we wait to see if it is cancer.

That time came today,  Friday August 24th,  at 11:30am.
Me waiting for Dr Robbins, with a fake smile!

I have absolutely the best support system and an army behind me to get through this, so we will! Kim stayed by my side all day yesterday and went to the appointment with me. She is truly a blessing in my life, as is Cissy. They both stayed over here last night drinking wine till 10:30! The hole in my boob is a little sore, but it is the shoulder that really hurts. It did not like the position it was in on the table. I was supposed  to have shoulder surgery on August 29th, but that was promptly cancelled.

I am going to stay upbeat and positive and surround myself with people I love! This to shall pass!
Ok, so by now everyone knows that this is cancer. You might also know, if you know me....this ain't gonna get me down. I am strong and I got it from the strongest woman I know- my mama!! We will keep you posted through this blog. Kim, Lloyd or Cindi will keep it updated if I am unable. I have gone through bad times before and I know the people I have behind me. Please everyone be there for my girls- Kristi, Brittany, Cindi and Kim ( even though she stays strong on the outside) needs your support.

God bless you all and thank you for being here for us!! We will keep you posted. Next step is the MRI, that will tell more and then we will go from there. Let's just pray I am back to my old self by October 20!! Kristi's wedding.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pink suitcase sisters

Lots of people ask what is a pink suitcase sister, and how did you come up with the idea? I told you in on of my earlier blogs that I would let you know. Like I also said earlier a book called the Passion Test is responsible for a lot of good things in my life, the Pink Suitcase Sisters being one of those things! Back in the fall of 2007 I was doing a lot of walking with my sister and her friend. They were both single at the time and we were talking about trips and how they had no one really to travel with, since they weren't married. Then in another incident, my client walked into my office with her husband. They were telling me all about their trip to Egypt and I told them I was getting ready to go to NYC with my girls (my house just sold and that was my treat to them for having to move out of our big house and into the itty bitty) sorry off track and a blog for another time! Anyway, the lady said she would LOVE to go to New York, and I said why not go, you just went to Egypt for gosh sake! She told me her husband would never go to New York, so my suggestion was that she go with some friends. She said her friends would never travel without their husbands.....well- I saw that as a problem that needed to be fixed. My brain churned for a couple of days and I came up with a business plan. I emailed that business plan to my sister and a couple of friends. I also emailed it to Kathy, my outside travel agent. She in turn emailed it to all her friends and before we knew it, we had about a dozen ladies that wanted to sign up. I asked Kathy to be my partner and we put together the first trips then we had an open house on Feb 4th, 2008. That night, 65 women joined!! We now have about 300 members and go on a lot of really cool trips. We have also had Atlanta Magazine do an article on us and Southern Lady is doing one on us for next months edition!! This group is incredible, if I do say so myself. Everytime a women travels with us and makes new friends, it makes me so happy!! Everytime we can be there for someone that needs comfort, it makes me happy. It has been so sad that over the past couple of years I have not been able to travel with them and get as close to these women, as I did when I went on the trips. I can't wait for the day when I am not on reserve and I can plan to be off to go on the trips. But until then, they are in the very best hands with Kathy!