Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What would your Christmas wish be?

Her name is Olivia, and she is from a small town in rural Alabama. I had breast cancer last year, so a mutual friend was looking for some wigs or hats for Olivia, and that is how we met. Her cancer is stage 4 ovarian, that has spread to her stomach lining. Yesterday I found out that the doctors have called in hospice to help Olivia.
I started helping her because she is alone, has no insurance, no car and I couldn't imagine going through cancer that way. See I had a whole community (Marietta, GA) helping me. They sent me gifts, they baked food, they gave us gift certificates to go out to eat, they prayed, they made donations on my behalf, and my bff drove me to every chemo and was there any time I needed a laugh. I had someone to listen any time I needed to speak. My husband held me when I needed to breakdown. I didn't have to worry about the cost of a pill or whether I could make it to an appointment. I had insurance that was covering most of the cost. Olivia doesn't have any of that. Sure she has some people helping out occasionally, but most days are quiet. So quiet in fact that a radio is at the top of her wish list. (Which I will get to later)
Olivia, is a good person. Does she have some problems? Yes. Has she made some questionable decisions in her past? Yes. We all have! That doesn't mean we should just leave her without help!
Olivia's biggest fault is that she hasn't asked for help. She sits in her trailer and "NEEDS" things, but no one knows. We get busy with our day to day lives and forget about the ones that need us most. I have said all along in this blog, that the biggest thing that has helped me through this past year, is knowing I had people there to help. They were there because I shared my story. Just as I hope my story has helped others, that are now walking in my shoes.
You don't realize what scared is, until you walk in those shoes. But still, even at that; I don't realize and can't imagine the Doctors telling me that it is nearing the end and to call in hospice. I can't imagine having to talk to hospice myself and make the directives. I remember doing that for my dad, but we would have never subjected him to that train of thought.
Sit back and think,  have you ever been alone? REALLY, alone? Now think about the worse thing you have ever been through, were you alone? I can honestly say, no, I never have. Even when I thought I was alone, I truly wasn't. I have always had my sister, my family, my kids. It felt dark, but it really wasn't, I had people around that could come in and turn on the lights for me. So now I sit here reflecting on Olivia, and the unknowns out there like her. What can I do? How can I make her Christmas better? First, I can share her story, because I know it! Second, I can do what I can- I don't have extra money right now, because I am still out of work on medical leave, but I have set up a donation website for Olivia. Plus, she has the wish list I was talking about and I can help put that together and get it to her.
My husband and I were going to do something different for Christmas this year, because we are celebrating early with our kids. We were looking for a family to cook for and deliver their Christmas dinner. I found out yesterday that Beverly, my friend from Marietta, is going to Brewton. So guess who we get to cook for??? Olivia! Beverly is going to deliver Olivia's gifts (items from her wish list) and food for her. We are so excited that we are able to make her smile for Christmas. I just wish we lived closer so I could deliver it myself, but I am so thankful for the Norton's for helping me out. Plus, Olivia wants to see her grandmother, who is in assisted living, so Beverly is giving her a ride over there, as well.
Olivia knows her time here is short. She is scared, but she believes in God and knows that heaven awaits. Her message that she most wants everyone to know is that,  "If you know anyone with cancer or is sick, help them. Help by praying, or help in anyway you possibly can, even if you can't help financially. We need to all come together and stand strong for one another, even if you don't know them. AND by all means, don't kick someone while they are down. She wants us all to read her favorite bible verse, 1st Corinthians 13 and try our best to live our lives by The Word."
If you want to help with Olivia's Wish List, please pick an item and let me know what you will be donating. I will need the items by Monday. Text me at 678 333-4355 if you have questions or need to mail it directly to her.
1. Cards and Letters, she loves getting mail! Add a stamp, so she can write you back.
2. A radio, the silence is depressing and she loves music
3. Long socks, scarves, gloves, she stays cold all the time.
4. She needs her glasses fixed, I don't know how to handle that one.
5. DVD's, she loves horror films, and disney/pixar cartoons. She has a real old dvd player, but doesn't have cable or Internet.
6. Necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, soap, etc.
7. Christmas presents- she spent Thanksgiving alone and depressed. I want her to have presents to unwrap. That wasn't on her list- I added it.
8. Food- I am adding that one too- if you are cooking any good ole southern vegetables this weekend, please wrap up any leftovers, label them and freeze them. I want her to have some Southern Home Cooking to pull out of the freezer and heat up.
8. Most of all she wants your prayers and she wants you to pass on this Christmas Spirit to anyone you know that may be going through the same thing she is, right now.

You can drop these items off on my front porch or text me to get her address-

Christmas is not about getting gifts- it's about what you can GIVE!! Let's give Olivia the gift of comfort- let her know she is not alone! As I sit here and ponder, what would be my wish list, if I had to call in hospice? Her's is so simple- it's comfort and warmth. Olivia, you are an amazing and strong woman. The people that have not been there for you should learn from your strength and faith.

Thank you to the Norton's, Lisa, and Pat- who are already helping me, before the blog is even written! You are giving and loving people, but I knew that from when I was going through cancer!
                                                            Olivia McCormick

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving and Black Friday Baldness

I had to wait before writing this post- I wanted to get through Brittany's birthday and give it the importance that it deserved. So forgive me that this "Thanksgiving blog" is a little behind.....

Last Thanksgiving (2012) I had my chemo treatment and I knew that it was going to be a bad day. I also knew that I would be losing my hair after this treatment. The fear of losing my hair (as crazy as it sounds to someone that has never been there) was scarier to me, than losing my breast! For those of you getting ready to take this step, I hope this blog post helps you.

I knew that after my mastectomy that I could put on a t-shirt and go out and no one would know I was sick. No one would be feeling sorry for me. I could look in the mirror and not SEE sickness! How ugly would I look? Those fears were running through my head as the day got closer that my hair would be falling out. I decided that Black Friday would be the day I was going to shave my head. I didn't want it to just happen, I wanted to be in control and do it myself! I picked a good day, because that morning when I washed my hair for the last time, it was starting to fall out in clumps. I had arranged for my kids, best friends and my husband to be there for the shave.
 (black friday 2012)


 
So there it went- the hair was gone last Black Friday 2012!
So everyone want to know what I am thankful for this year? I am so thankful to have fought this awful battle and come out on this side! I am thankful for the wisdom and the blessings I have received through the ordeal. I am thankful for those that stood by me and helped with the fight. I am thankful for the new friends I have made along the way. I am thankful to God and the answered prayers. I am thankful for my new mission in life, to touch others with cancer.
Just the other day I received a message on facebook, from someone I didn't know.
Hi Traci! Just read your story on BCA, then went to your blog. I have just finished the exact same thing, having TNBC too! I start radiation next week. Just wanted to tell you how much I admire you for sharing everything. You are truly helping so many women!!! Happy Thanksgiving to you! We have much to be thankful for!!!
 
That kind of message makes me feel like there is a reason why this disease touched my family's life.
You will lose your hair, but don't lose your humor, your hope or your courage. I wore more makeup and decided not to wear a wig.
After being so scared that people would be able to tell that I was sick, I embraced it instead, and made sure people knew that they needed to check their breast!! Your hair will come back- it may not seem like it before you shave, but it does. I finished chemo in February and in September I had my first haircut! My husband liked my hair when we shaved it and wants me to keep it like the picture above, instead of growing it back out. I will keep it short, but not that short. NOW you know why I am married to that man! If you are going to lose your hair, being married to someone that thinks you're hot that way, sure makes it easier!! So yes, I am so thankful to him!
 
Looking back at last year, I realize that fear was for nothing. I got through it and came out of the darkside stronger than ever! I hope if you are getting ready to go through this journey, my blogs help you and some of your fear is deminished....a little.
 NOW, bring on Christmas- it is going to be a joyous one this year!!
 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Brittany, one of the reasons.....

A little narrative and birthday wish, for "one of the reasons" I am a warrior and fought as hard as I did and "one of the reasons" I am so happy and thankful this Thanksgiving.
Rare moment caught on film...she never cried

But she did get into things!


25 years ago as I prepared to have Thanksgiving at my house, I was also begging my Dr to deliver my second baby girl. He finally agreed to induce me on the 22nd and have me home by Thanksgiving day (the 25th, that year). He did; and that Thanksgiving was the best I ever had!
Brittany Lynn Campbell was stubborn obviously from the "get go". She was expected to arrive early, sometime around Halloween. Yes, I did say the Dr. finally induced me on the 22nd of November.
She has brought so much joy and laughter to all of our lives. I already had a perfect 2 year old and no one could imagine anything any different than the first. That theory was totally thrown out the window, the moment I brought Brittany home from the hospital. Kristi snuggled and would rock for hours. Brittany not so much. If she heard a peep, her head would bounce around to see what the noise was, remember....she is just home from the hospital, and the peep was the two year old wanting to be with the little sister. My grandmother had 8 kids and she found it so funny and odd, that from the very beginning Kristi would drag Brittany around like she was hers. She would tell her what to do and watch out for her.
That was pretty much how most of these 25 years have gone, Brittany being totally opposite from her sister and her sister still watching out for her. They are still best friends and I honestly have never seen them get into a real fight.
Brittany is a contradiction, too. Have you ever met a OCD slob? Or someone who is very focused that is sometimes clueless? Or someone that loves to sleep but never wants to miss out on ANYTHING? Yep, that's our Bitt.
Brittany has the greatest sense of humor and keeps me laughing. Sometimes we don't even know why we are laughing and sometimes it happens in inappropriate places. Brittany and I can just look at each other and bust out laughing, till we are crying. (or running for the bathroom)
She is always up for an adventure. Say the word GO, and she is gone. She is fiercely independent, stubborn, competitive, and fearless. She has a beautiful soul and you can't help falling in love with her. She has always been the light of all of our lives....mine, Kristi's, her dad's, her cousin's, and all her grandparents.
24 was not the best year for Brittany. Her mom got cancer, her best friend and sister got married, as did her dad, and she was trying to get through her last year of nursing school. Through the Christmas holidays, she spent it with me going to chemo. Her strength and beauty amazed me, during that time. Her laughter lifted my spirits so much during the treatments. But during all of that year, you hardly ever saw her feel sorry for herself or get down. She tucked her head, buckled down and pushed her way through it all.
Brittany has been a blessing for all of us and we are so lucky to call her daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend,  BITT BITT or Bo Bo!! We are so proud of her accomplishments and we know she makes the best nurse there is and Albany is lucky to have her!
Here's to wishing you a very special happy 25th Birthday!
 Grand Bahama

Nassau

 Grand Cayman
 Big Sister love!

Still best friends!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We're all going to die.........sometime

Those of you following my blog, know that I started a list when I got cancer. It's not some elaborate bucket list, just a simple "don't forget to do these things" list. Some examples, go see a funny movie with friends, take a limo ride to North Ga wineries, help out someone with cancer, go to the beach with my family, take a hike, get healthy, love deeply, get in touch with my spirituality, go to a Braves game, etc (there are MANY MORE)

When you read on the internet what type of cancer you have and that it is "agressive", "more apt to come back", etc. You learn life is precious and just going through our daily lives without fun, interaction, meaning is only wasting those days we have left. We don't ever know how many of those days we do have left, so why waste ANY?  I'm not living like I am afraid of dying, I am living like I am afraid of NOT LIVING! I'm afraid of not living with a purpose.

October brings with it the awareness of breast cancer with all the pretty pink ribbons and such, but it's not only about breast cancer. I know in the past, before bc even, seeing the Pink made me stop and think about ALL cancers. Even though the ribbons are pink in October, I always thought of my dad and his cancer. I'm ashamed to say I don't know what the color is for pancreatic cancer's ribbon. I just know the awareness of Pink in October, meant Cancer. Period Dot.

October and the thought of cancer should have also made me stop and see the beauty in my life and how precious each day without cancer, was for me. Maybe that is something you can't learn, you have to experience. That's ashame too, that you have to look death in the face, before you can truely see life. I preach all the time about that now. I try to yell from the mountainside to appreciate what God has blessed you with and not to complain. Appreciate EVERY second of life, because it can turn on a dime. Get out there and turn up the volume on your life!

So, when we are out there playing golf in our pink or walking in our pink, do some things for me. Look at all the fabulous friends and family you are with, enjoying life and making memories- and appreciate them before it is too late. Live your life with meaning. Life is short and we are all going to die sometime, so make it count while you can.

Sitting here on a beautiful Tuesday, on the 1st day of October- I will thank God for all he has put in my life and thank him for this gorgous life. I will thank HIM for his healing hands and a second chance at life. I will walk around my neighborhood and take note of every precious thing, remember every single memory from my childhood,  and be thankful for all the great neighbors who were there for me last year.

And for you guys, go make your appointments for your mammogram, colonoscopy, pap smears, etc. Stop smoking and get healty. October should be all about Awareness- on your LIFE and all that Pink should remind you that it can be a pretty one!!!

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Update- January 4, 2014
My good childhood friend died on Wednesday and I am heartbroken. I spoke with my mom about her sudden death and my Mom said, you know Missy was prepared, even though it was sudden. She lived her life "right", she was a Christian, she was a great caring friend and mother. Same as my friend Tim who passed away in May. Are you living your life "right"? Are you prepared to go at any moment? It's hard, but they did it. They didn't speak ill of people, they were loving and caring, they loved the Lord and lived a Christian life. It's important to make peace with your loved ones and truely let people know how you feel. Let your Soul Shine and let that soul reflect goodness. That is my 2014 Resolution, to live a positive, healthy life, in His Light! My light will shine for 2014, for Tim and for Missy! If their deaths were to bring anything positive at all, it was for me to stop and think, to reflect on the type of person I want to be. To reflect on how I want to live my life. So, if you haven't noticed the change in me because of Cancer, you will for sure see it because of the loss of these two lives. Maybe that is "why" God took these two souls, maybe that is why these two "good" people are not here with us any longer. I know we can't question God, but that is the positive that is filling my heart, that is the change in me, that is coming from these deaths. I will live my life differently because of their deaths, how many other people will also?


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Moving on.....

Most of you have been following my journey through Breast Cancer, but for me my life before BC was just as bad (if not worse). August 2011, I hurt my shoulder helping a wheelchair passenger with her big ass suitcase- (I know that is an oxymoron to me, too) ANYWAY- I worked for another month, in pain. I would come home from a trip and rest my arm a couple of days and go back to flying. One day however, we were landing and the pressurization in the cabin, brought tears to my eyes, it hurt so bad. The next day I was sitting ready reserve at the airport and couldn't lift my arm off the table. I went into the supervisors office and told her what had happened. We quickly filled out the OJI (on job injury) forms and shuttled me off to the doctor. That was the last time I have been at the airport!

The doctors and MRI's determined that I had a tear in my labrum. We scheduled surgery and thought everything went well and I would be back at work in 6 months. Things were good for a week or two, then the pain came back. A month after the surgery, I was in more pain than originally- which was hard for me to fathom. Basically, all I did was go to physical therapy, to the doctor and sit on the sofa in pain. If I got up to fix dinner, or run an errand- by the time I was standing for more than 15 minutes, I was dying of pain. I had injections into my joint, 3 Dr's opinions, and finally they determined it needed to be operated on AGAIN!

The second operation was supposed to be in August 2012- I was so looking forward to the relief that surgery would bring. Late one night I was rubbing my shoulder and found the cancer. The surgery, plans for relief, and my life quickly came to a halt!

Well fast forward through, a double mastectomy, 8 rounds of chemo, reconstruction surgery, and my life moving again- it is time for that surgery I put off. THURSDAY-

I have to say I am scared to death! I am scared of being in pain again and having to sit and not be able to LIVE my life! I am tired of being down and not looking forward to 6 months of recovery. I am also scared that this won't fix it again, and I won't be able to get back to my job. I am still trying to find something else to do, other than lugging 50 pound suitcases for a living. Until I find something, or if I don't, I am working back to being a flight attendant.

Because of that fear, I had talked to my Dr about not going through with the surgery and just dealing with the pain I have now. I thought I could live with it, but I didn't realize how tired I still am from the chemo and how I still am not too active. After the class reunion and having a garage sale- I KNOW I need the surgery. All day Sunday I was popping the pain pills, because I danced too much. THIS GIRL HAS GOT TO DANCE (i know not very well,so no smart ass comments from the peanut gallery...), so the surgery MUST go on! I have to learn to golf, get my kayak wet, pick up my grandson, plant a garden, get a job, travel the world, etc.....It is time I am fixed. So please pray for a successful surgery,  quick healing and that I can promptly get to my "list" and checking off all my important things!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rock my world and then rock it some more- I can handle it!

Well, I can't believe it has been a full year since my world was rocked. One year since Dr Robbins walked into the room and told me it WAS cancer. I was alone, while Kim and Lloyd are in the waiting room. The picture below is the picture I took while I was TRYING to be positive. I was putting on a happy face and thinking, this can't happen to me. There is no history in my family. I am the one to take care of people and raise money and give support for OTHERS that have breast cancer. My world was already difficult enough, can I handle more? 

As my Pink Suitcase Sisters were packing to go on yet another trip without me, I was preparing for shoulder surgery (which was promptly cancelled). With the hope that it would work this time, and I could get back to my real world, back to work and back to a life without pain. I guess that was too much to hope for. We needed to mix things up a little and REALLY give me hill to climb. Let's see if I can handle it?? Looking back I know that God had a plan, I know soon I will realize what that plan was for me. The changes were coming fast and I needed to hop on this train and get to the front car, as quickly as possible to take the controls. Yes, I needed help, so I surrounded myself with my family, friends who loved me, and friends who came out of the woodwork! One of the first things I did was overload myself. Stress makes me take on other things, it's a habit I have always had. So the first thing I took on was a fundraiser for WHAT ELSE? The American Cancer Society. In years past, the Pink Ribbon Classic was where I focused my energy and fundraising efforts. It was too late to get involved and I hadn't been contacted yet, so I saw where Making Strides Against Breast Cancer was having an inaugural walk on the Marietta Square. I quickly formed a team and started raising money.  This was going to be tricky, cause I didn't know what was lying ahead for me, as far as the cancer was concerned. Plus, I was planning my daughter's wedding for the week before the walk. Tricky as it was, my "team" came together and they exceeded my expectations. We were first place as far as individual teams! When I did a shout out the day before the race and told everyone that we were in 2nd place, we raised $1000 in one night! Raising money for a cause I believe in has always been a passion. The American Cancer Society was always at the top of that list, because of all the people I knew who died and LIVED with cancer. Making Strides and having a team is just a fun way to help out the ACS! This year again, we will go out and be a part of this walk and this year maybe I can walk it!  Last year, my double mastectomy was on October 10th, daughter's wedding October 20th, and the walk was on the 27th. I was in a chair cheering on my awesome teammates!! The walk is scheduled for October 12th and I would love to see everyone that has supported me through this journey to be there with me. Here is the link to sign up or to donate. This year, it's not about me, it's not about going into overload, it's about ALL the BALD BEAUTIES who have hopped on the cancer train and taken the controls!  Through this process I have lost a lot- my hair, my business, the past year, and my self. But what I have gained, has far outweighed all of that! I like my new self better, yeah my hair is different, but my husband likes it better, and I am looking to find a job that best suits this new me and I KNOW this year is going to be so much better! So, when your world gets rocked, realize there might be a reason for it and God will never give you more than you can handle. Trust in him, with his strength take those controls and say, "BRING IT ON!"

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Coochie Got Me Thinking

Last week I had to visit one of my not so favorite doctors- the gyno- I had another lump and with my medical expertise (umm google) I knew I had a cyst, so I raced to the appointment in a state of worry. If I didn't have ADD, and had finished reading my googled article, I would have known this cyst was benign, non-cancerous and not pre-cancerous. I know this is gross and none of you want to hear about my coochie, but it got me thinking about other types of cancer. First off, I don't EVER want to deal with ANY other type of cancer. And breast cancer was horrible and don't want it again and would never wish it on anyone, but it seems breast cancer has been in a way glamorized. The pretty pink ribbons and pink merchandise.Someone with breast cancer really tugs at the heartstrings of society. I first realized that I had the "fortunate type of cancer" at a support group. A lady there had lung cancer. She said it is really tough to have lung cancer, there are no pretty pink bows and people always look at her with disgust that she gave herself cancer, because of her smoking habits. She says you just don't get the sympathy and support you do with breast cancer.
Then there was the lady I met in chemo, she was there with a friend. This friend told Kim and I that the lady with cancer did not have a good chance of surviving, but she was staying strong. When we asked what type of cancer, the friend said, she has ovarian cancer stage 4- she could have prevented it getting this far, if she had gone to have regular pap smears. She didn't because she doesn't have money or insurance. Now girls, ALWAYS get your regular check-ups. I hate the gyno too, but you have to go!! For those of you that are low on money, go to the health dept. or call the doctors and see if they can work out a payment plan, borrow the money....just Go!!
This happens to be the same type of cancer as Olivia. I don't know Olivia, she is a childhood friend of my neighbor, Beverly. This neighbor has a huge heart and has been trying to help Olivia out with her medical and financial problems, so I have jumped on the bandwagon with Olivia and Beverly. Olivia has no medical insurance, she has no job, or husband, or car or money. Our help is what is getting her through. Having cancer is SO stressful- I can't imagine adding to that stress with the financial burden. I was so blessed to have insurance and it was still hard financially. This is just too much to bear. The other thing is Olivia comes from a small town and doesn't quite have the community support, that we have here in Marietta, or the hospitals. She is from Brewton, Alabama and has to go to Pensacola for medical treatment. She doesn't have the pretty pink cancer, but she has CANCER! Please everyone, if you can help her out! Her story is posted below. I know we all aren't in a position financially, but even a small amount helps- or pass around this blog or link to her donation website Sharing her story is help too!

My name is Olivia McCormick. I have stage three cancer and am currently undergoing chemo. I have no insurance no income and am at the mercy of the good people who find a place for me in their heart. I had my uterus removed in 2006, in 2007 I had a tumor removed from my bladder. I have also had three laparoscospic procedures. I am an epileptic and my inability to gain control over my seizures slowly tore my life apart. I lost my educational opportunities my career my husband my good and car. I began having serious abdominal pain around August 2012. I was told repeatedly that I was suffering from constipation or bladder infection. I went into the ER in extreme pain one night. I was literally writhing and screaming out in pain. There was nothing being done. Finally able to get a CAT scan of my abdomen. They admitted me to the hospital right away. The next day they removed my ovaries and a ten pound tumor. It was cancer. The cancer had spread to the layer of tissue that holds ur insides in. It is called the omentum or fat pack. 
I will have to undergo chemo for eight more months then major surgery. I will be cut all the way across the bottom of my bust line and down to my hip cuts on each side to open my entire abdomen to search for any remaining cancer. I am no where near perfect and I know I never will be but I hope I can make it through this with help so that in the future I can help others who are suffering through this and many other life threatening illnesses. Please help

I KNOW there was a reason I got cancer. I feel like that reason was to go out there and spread the word and help others with cancer. I hope that me using the word COOCHIE in my title got lots more hits to my blog and y'all will pour out the support to Olivia! Here's her link to help her Donations for Olivia

P.S. Don't tell my mom I talked about my coochie on the internet- 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Get My Euphoria Back!

The Birthday Week is finally here, those that know my best friend and I, know that it is really a "Season". Kim's birthday is the first week in May and we start celebrating then, until the end of May- that is when we celebrate Memorial Day and then switch over to my birthday. We celebrate my birthday, usually till the weekend before July 4th.  That is how it has been since we have known each other.
I can't speak for Kim, but I know I think of my birthday as my New Year's Day- I don't remember things in "years", such as 1999- I remember them in "birthday years", that happened when I was 23, as an example. New Years Eve or Day, don't matter a whole lot to me, it is my birthday that switches the calendar into the next year.
Last year, I celebrated my birthday with only a few worries- paying for Kristi's wedding, losing some lb's, and wondering whether my shoulder would ever be pain free, so I could go back to work. Life was good!
47'th Birthday Lunch
 Well, in a matter of a couple of weeks, things changed- that is when I found the lump. I knew immediately it was cancer. I didn't need to wait on the Dr to tell me, that 47 would be the year of cancer........
So, moving on from 47 and waiting on this Birthday Eve to occur, why am I not my usual "happy birthday self"? I feel incredible blessed right now- I spoke about that in my last post. I really think the reason is that I know how quickly life can change and how much this birthday REALLY should matter!! I remember waiting on the results of the test in August and wondering if I would make it to this birthday! But somehow, I think it is the everyday that should matter. This birthday I am remembering where I was (carefree) last year and this year is totally different- I am totally different! I wish I could time travel back to the above picture, when my hair was brown and long, when I was on the road to another shoulder surgery, so I could get back to flying......I wish, but that is one wish that can't be granted by blowing out this year's candles!
I hope I get my euphoria over my birthday back, but it just seems so anti-climatic, since I have been feeling that same euphoria since February 14th, when I finished chemo and felt like I was given a new lease on life.
So Happy DAY to everyone!! Check your boobs, love your family and friends, and live like there is no tomorrow- don't wait for your Birthday or New Years!!!

Cheers- to you all!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Old Friends, New Friends and Breast Friends

My birthday is coming up and it is always a time for me to reflect. This year has me reflecting on friends, and all those long ago birthdays, that I had as a kid. My elementary school friends coming over for cake and to play outside. The picture below is a picture of my best friends from Kindergarten, Elementary School and 8th Grade. These are friends I am proud of, they make me happy that my life never took me away from my hometown. These friends know me, know where I came from and we will always have each other! Even though life takes us in different directions, when we get together it's like we never missed a beat.
In addition to this group of girls, thanks to facebook, there are other "old" friends who have been there through this whole journey. Friends I knew in elementary school and high school, but never really "knew". They have been a huge support through all of this, also! They took the time out of their busy schedules to let me know they were thinking about me, to let me know if I needed anything, I could call them. That touched me beyond words. Thanks, Kelly Kennedy, Salliegh Grubbs, Mary Ansley Meaders, Mike Gambo, Charles Wilhelm and his wonderful wife Colleen, Paige Raines, oh and many more......(chemo brain affects quick thinking) Y'all were good cheerleaders and it helped so much when I felt like the goalpost was a million miles away!

Then there were the new friends, people that I have met recently, but who through this whole ordeal, became part of my Army! Tim and Vickie Hunt, Pat Becker (who sends me little random gifts, that brighten my day), Jere Brownlow (one of Lloyds friends, who was unbelievably thoughtful with his gift), Jeff and Toni, Diane Shelton, Nancy Michelson, Flay and Al, Kim Newell, The Germaines, Suzanne Payne, Marjorie Wilson, Patsy Bennett, Rachel, Nessa, My Airtran Family, Lisa Thompson, Team Traci. I know I am also going to forget some of these friends, too! Thanks for all you did!

Just know whatever category you fall in, even if you aren't mentioned here, you are in my heart. Knowing that somehow I made an impression on a friend's life, enough that you were here for me in my time of darkness, meant the world to me! I asked my friend Ann Weider right before she died, if there was anything I could do for her. She told me,"no, you've already done it, you were there for me." Just being there for someone is tremendous, and I can't thank all of you enough.

Then I have my "Breast Friends", you gals were HUGE!! Just looking at your lives and your accomplishments would be enough, but you gave me so much more! Jan and Joan- all you have been through and being able to ask you questions, see the glow you two have, teaching me that laughter is the best medicine, and surrounding yourself with people who are positive, you two are truely inspirations for me! Irene, the survivor- I look at you and see it is beatable, plus you were always quick to answer my questions, thanks! Susan Chewning and the letter she mailed to me, that gave me such comfort. Marsha Durham- you rock girl! Raising the awarness and the money you do for breast cancer research, answering my questions, another inspiration! Dawn Ford, as much as I hate cancer for taking one moment of your life and your joy with your new babies, I am so glad I had you to travel down this journey with. You are truely SuperWoman!
My "surprise warrior" Mary, my next door neighbor. She and my husband didn't hit it off when he moved in the neighborhood and it was never a secret. But when she found out I was diagnosed, she came through as one of my biggest supporters. I was overwhelmed by Mary's concern. She brought me a card or gift, after EVERY chemo. She came by and checked on me often! She was unbelievable! Her advocacity for BC is remarkable and she had a no nosense approach to "it will be better". I loved that from her.

At one of my chemo support groups, I think it was Cookie that said, "don't be surprised at the friends who will leave you or not show up, in this time of need. You need to be prepared for that." I told her about all of you and that I was only disappointed in a couple of people. The people that came out in support FAR outweighed the negative. Just FYI, if you ever are given the opportunity to reach out to someone with cancer, even if you are mad at them or have had problems with them in the past- reach out anyway! Your problems should be put away during cancer and no problem is ever too big not to be overcome during cancer. Cancer patients realize that, and no matter what issues we have had......they don't matter to us anymore. We just want all our "problems" fixed and our house in order, because we know how short and precious life is! I just read a book, "One More Mountain", it was about a lady diagnosed with cancer and she tried to "fix" things she regretted about her past. It was a great book! Anyway, fix things while you can. Cancer may invade your body, but when it does, it eliminates anger, grudges, or any other negativity present in your life.  There will be people who disappoint you when you don't hear from them or you feel like they don't care, but realize, that is their problem!
Last but not least, I have my BEST FRIEND- my husband beside me! Without him here, I could not have made it through the past year! I love you honey!

You all made my life worth fighting for, so I it wouldn't be fair not to also mention my family in this post- cause they too are my "friends" as well as the reason for me to fight so damn hard and be so strong! My girls (and B-rad), Cindi, The boys (and KK), my Mom, Jim and Janet and that precious, precious grandbaby! Smooches forever to you all!!!

My life has been fulfilled to no end because of the wonderful friends and family in it! You are all a blessing and I thank God he put so many wonderful people in my life! Having Facebook and sharing my story through this blog kept me in touch and uplifted by you, even at my lowest points.

I don't need any birthday gifts this year, cause I have the greatest gift of all....love and friendship!

**Disclaimer, I know this blog is usually written for people who don't really know me and wouldn't know these people listed above, but I had to write this personal note. The thing you can take away from it, if you are diagnosed with cancer......Surrounding yourself with friends is the MOST important thing during this journey. Do that by sharing your story, and let them know what you are going through. They can't help, if they don't know! Knowing you have a gazillion prayer warriors out there helps to get through the day. Don't try to kick cancer's ass alone!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reconstruction...check, Living healthy......check

Friday at 11am I checked in to my old familiar room at Wellstar Outpatient and got prepped for my reconstruction surgery. This time I decided that I wouldn't make such a production out of the event and even told Lloyd and Cindi to go on into work, that nurse Brittany would be in town to take me up there for the check in. I am sure all the nurses appreciated that I didn't have my usual entourage with me! I told Dr Leake I wanted itty bitty titties, so he came with a box of them to try out and see what looked best. He had to do a lot of repair to the muscle around my left underarm because that was where the cancer was, so it took a little longer than he thought it might. By the time he came out to talk to the family and tell them all what he had to do, Kristi and Lloyd were there. Cindi had come in before I was put to sleep, on her lunch hour.

This was an outpatient surgery so I got home about 6pm. I was quickly put to bed, because the move from O.R to home made me nauseated. I took the meds and went to sleep. This recovery hasn't been too bad. I am tired, VERY. Just a little uncomfortable, only took the Oxycodone Saturday and Sunday. I do have two drains, and hopefully they will come out this coming Friday. They better! I want to go to Tennessee and prop my feet up....ha ha getting pretty good at this propping stuff! Although, this surgery moves me closer back to reality of no cancer and fix the shoulder and GET YOUR ASS BACK TO Work!!!
I have said this before but I haven't touched on this aspect of change. Cancer changes you. Cancer makes you scared that it will come back and raise it's ugly head at anytime. It is now my job to do ALL in my power to assure that doesn't happen. Most of you know that I LOVE food, it is truely a passion of mine (my husbands too- hince the weight gain since our marriage!) Anyway, we make a production out of cooking. All of the cancer books I have read has warned about processed food, sugars, white flour, alcohol, and not excercising. WELL, we have eliminated all of that from our diet. (hmmmm maybe not so much the wine) It hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be, especially since one of our other passions is gardening, so we grow a lot of what we are eating. Our spring salad garden has been unbelievable this year. How many ways can you eat Radishes.... let us count the ways! I have an awesome Spicy Kale and Shrimp recipe, too!
Exercising has been another issue! I was trying to walk about 3 miles with my friend Lisa, about 3 times a week. Of course she goes out of town about as much as I do, so timing was hard. Then my knee decided it would swell because of my RA, but after this surgery and the recovery, you will see us hitting the pavement again! Plus, maybe my sister can get her pool open and I can start water aerobics! Hint Hint!!!
Anyway, if the cancer does come back, I at least can rest assured that I have choosen the most radical approach to getting rid of it (a double mastectomy and 8 rounds of chemo) and I have done what I have  needed to do to keep it at bay! Even down to changing the deordorant I use......
I have learned, this is my body and I will fight and do what I can to keep it as healthy as I can. I want to be here for my kids and grandkids!! Cancer does not need to happen to you to think this way, go check your boobs and ask yourself, are you treating your body like you need to, in order to be healthy?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to prepare for the cancer road

I was a girl scout so I know a little about being prepared- ha ha, plus I did my research as soon as I got my diagnosis. This is for anyone out there that may be dealing with a new diagnosis of breast cancer and may want to know how to be prepared.

1. Do your homework- Talk to friends who have been through it, see whatthey did and what they would have done different. Go to the internet and be educated www.whatnext.com is a great resource for asking questions of others that are going through the same thing.

2. Be ready for Dr's visits- have a tape recorder, because you will not remember what was said. Take a friend or family member (sometimes a friend is better because they aren't typically as emotional as a family member). Stand up for what you want- I WANTED a bilateral mastectomy, even though my dr told me she recommended a lumpectomy. I knew I would be paranoid about it coming back if I wasn't as agressive as I could be (ok, I am still paranoid, but I don't think I am as bad as I would be with just having the lumpectomy)

3. Be ready for after your surgery- I had a dbl mastectomy so to prepare:
a.I bought a recliner to sleep in, if I needed to. It was also a lifesaver during chemo!
b.I had pjs that buttoned up and had my mom sew pockets in them to hold the drains
c. I had a long bead necklace to safety pin the drains to while I showered
d. I had two round oblong pillows to put on either side of me when I slept, so I wouldn't roll over on my side.
e. I had everything placed within reach before my husband went to work. Like my coffee cup, bowls and a plate. I wasn't able to reach in the cabinet.

4. Share your story- this helps not because you are getting sympathy, but you will have prayer warriors and they will all be a means of support. You will feel like you have to be a shining example and be strong for your supporters. Being strong is half the battle!

5. Surround yourself with friends- continue to go out, be around people and keep a sense of humor. Laughing through this whole journey is the best medicine.

6. Make an adventure out of chemo- ok, so not everyone will be like me and my "chemo army" - we had army hats with a pink ribbon on it, we took food to the patients and nurses, we made posters for the wall (a Luke Bryan one, and it is my understanding it is still hanging in the infusion room), we met everyone in there just about and offered encouragement, We took our Gnome and photographed each treatment to keep track. We LOVED our nurses, we rocked out to a "mixed tape" of our chemo songs on the way, Pack a blanket, water bottle, candy if the taste bothers you, a special prayer to read, and a really fun friend to pass the time with you!

7. Prepare yourself for the after effects of chemo-
a. your hair- more than likely you will lose your hair, come to grips with it- embrace your inner warrior and don't be ashamed of losing your hair. I never wore a wig. The medically induced menopause made me hot, even wearing a hat I would have to shed it at the dinner table. I didn't think it would be appropriate to take off a wig and put it on the table! Plan a shaving party and take control of when, where, and how you will lose your hair.
b. chemo brain- you will have this- write things down, take your time speaking and explain to strangers why you can't think of the words you are trying to say.
c. Food- try to eat well. You will need protein and lots of nutrients. The ACS and your hospital will have support groups and classes you can take.
d. Looking Good- go to classes on how to keep your self esteem Look Good Feel Better http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org is a class through the ACS, it is a great one that teaches how to apply your makeup and take care of your skin. Chemoflage www.chemoflage.com is another class offered and it is really good too, you also will receive awesome swag bags when you go to the classes. Eye makeup is VERY important when you are bald!!

8. Your baskets of necessities-
a. claritin- no one tells you, but this helps with the bone pain associated with Taxol and the Nulesta
shot
b. nausea meds- take them after chemo, BEFORE you get sick
c. pain meds- take them BEFORE you start to hurt
d. hand sanitizer
e. journal- keep track of symptoms to share with the dr at the next visit, or for your info on what helps when you get sick
f. themometer-
g. hemoroid wipes- all the above medicine will cause hemoriods
h. stool softner- for the above reason

9. Remember-
a. you will feel good again- after my last treatment, I actually feel better than i did before my diagnosis
b. your hair will come back- granted it may not be like it was before, but it's back
c. you are awesome for fighting this fight!


I hope these ideas help you, if you are having to go down this road.  I would love to see other survivors share their ideas, too! Please comment below- and God bless you on this journey!!


Back again, this time with a ramble!

I am sorry I haven't written in a while, to be honest I was busy "living life" and ignoring the fact that I had cancer! I finished treatment and tried to figure out how to go about my life as a "cancer survivor". I realized that this diagnosis can not be ignored, not matter how much my hair grows back or that surgery or chemo is over. I felt stronger and started walking 3 miles about 3 or 4x's a week. I soon realized that my RA was not in remission and that I will need to go back to the weekly shots- not the news I wanted to hear, because those shots can cause cancer and I am TERRIFIED of getting it again. I went to a support group to try to deal with my "new life" and as soon as I heard the story of the young lady who had breast cancer return in her bones, I couldn' t go back. I'm scared and I don't want to hear that my fears are justified. I look in the mirror and I don't see myself, I see a different person who now has gray very short hair and it brings back to light, that I had cancer. Coming to the realization that I will never be the same person I was before has been difficult, but then again; if I come out a BETTER person, it might be worth it! Please realize, if you meet anyone that has had cancer, they are going to be different than they were before. They will think deeper, care more, laugh louder, and love harder than the average person. But also know, underneath that strength and vitality is someone that knows they should make the most of every day for they are scared that in the blink of an eye there won't be another one! That is what I have been doing, making the most of every day!!!
Now it is time to deal with my next breast cancer road- Friday I go in for the removal of my tissue expanders, the removal of my port and the placement of my implants. This is not a road I EVER thought I would be on. I have had large breast since I was in 9th grade and never once thought I would be going in for silicone implants! I had often wished for a reduction, but the amputation I went through in October was not a wish that was granted well! Let's all just hope that Dr Leake picks out some cute little perky ones that I will be happy with!!! ha ha
As with any surgery, I don't know where this road will lead. I have heard horror stories about the implants, I have heard people say it was not that bad, but I have also learned to be prepared in the event something does go horribly wrong. Hell, I hope that is how everyone lives their life anyway- as if something could go horribly wrong at any time! Live each day as if it is your last and make an impression on anyone you meet! New motto, live like Tim Hunt! He passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago and he died "a good man". He lived each day being nice to everyone and I don't know if he knew what he was doing, or if he intentionally tried to make an impression on everyone he met, but he sure did! Maybe it's because he had been given so many new chances at life, he survived stage 4 cancer 20 years ago, had multiple heart attacks, and various other health problems- maybe he knew the VALUE of LIFE! It's sad it takes an illness or a diagnosis to learn this value.
I have tried to teach my kids to live life to the fullest, to respect themselves, not to waste time and not to "settle". If I can also now impress upon them to be a "great person" to make a good impression and to be "nice" to everyone that they come in contact with.....even the mailman- I have done a damn good job as their mother! They are my greatest accomplishment and I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to be their mother, I am blessed!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day

When I found out I had Breast Cancer, I thought there was only one kind- Breast Cancer. I had no clue about HER 2 positives, or negatives, Ductal, In-sutu etc. Once we got into our "cancer college" phase, I quickly learned all the differences and learned about Triple Negative- that is the type I have. Today is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day, so I will educate you, as well. Here is a description from the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.



Understanding Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is one of many forms of breast cancer.

•Forms of breast cancer are generally diagnosed based on the presence or absence of three "receptors" known to fuel most breast cancer tumors: estrogen, progesterone and HER2-neu.

•A diagnosis of TNBC means that the tumor in question is estrogen-receptor negative, progesterone-receptor negative and Her2-negative. In other words, triple negative breast cancer tumors do not exhibit any of the three known receptors.

•Receptor- targeting therapies have fueled tremendous recent advances in the fight against breast cancer. Unfortunately,
there is no such targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer.

•TNBC tends to be more aggressive, more likely to recur, and more difficult to treat because there is no targeted treatment.

•TNBC disproportionately strikes younger women, women of African, Latina or Caribbean descent, and those with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.

•Approximately every half hour, another woman in the US is diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
 I have sucessfully finished 8 treatments of chemo, and because I have Triple Negative- that is all I have to do. Taking Estrogen or any other medications does not work for the Triple Negative patient, so we are hoping that chemo stomped out all the cancer boogers and the mastectomy got the tumor. I believe awareness and donations for research are the hope for a cure. I appreciate, and will fight for all the organizations out there supporting cures for this horrible disease! If Loreal for one month gives only 2% donations to Breast Cancer Awareness, then this chick will buy that lipstick. I get so sick of the Negative Nellies that have issues with October and the Pink Ribbon- if one damn Pink Ribbon reminds a woman to go get a mammogram, that ribbon did it's job! If one company gives one dime to research, then I praise that company! AFTER you have breast cancer, you come to me and tell me what that pink ribbon means to you. You will find that all these organinzations do mean ALOT- especially, the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, Triple Negative, etc. As well as the small local organizations that do so much for the cancer patient- Loving Arms Cancer Outreach, Chemoflage, Blue Skies Family Retreats, and etc.
So here I am the Breast Cancer Survivor, beating my drum, supporting and writing about today..... 3/3/13- Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day! Research and Awareness is the key to the cure..... My Spotlight Story

Friday, March 1, 2013

Giving Survival a Voice and Cancer the finger!

This week I went to lunch with some really good friends and we had a discussion about me "sharing" my story with the world. Some people in the past have said that I have shared a little too much, these friends however; don't agree. One is a cancer survivor, and my post have given her the chance to know what was going on with me and on several occasions she was able to quickly answer a question I might have and help me out. One of the ladies was a caregiver for a cancer "victim" and she has a perspective from another side, plus she said she is going to the GYN this week, because of my reminders. The other ladies, have given me strength to stay focused on this journey and their words and friendships have kept me typing. While we were at lunch, the man sitting behind us noticed how important these friends are to me and how they give me strength. He sent us this note and paid our tab.I would not be surrounded by so many friends, if it hadn't been for me sharing! The other thing that happened because I shared, was EVERYDAY I had at least one person tell me they were praying for me- because I shared, I had more prayer warriors!


 
Plus, now I am writing because it has got back to my brother, that I am a BETTER writer than he is! Those that know my brother will think this is really funny.
ANYWAY, getting back to the story. There were two reasons for this blog today- First, my friends and family give me strength and if I can help just ONE woman and let her know that she can survive the fight against cancer, and the way to do that is don't be afraid to share her story. Sharing my story gave me friends I NEVER knew I had. Those friends got me through this battle. Don't go it alone! Also, if I can help just ONE woman, by reminding them to do self breast exams and get mammograms. Then, if you are unfortunate and get diagnosed, you will maybe catch the cancer early and have a better chance in the fight against this horrible disease.
So if I help just ONE woman, my voice was heard and my "purpose" has been reconized!

The other reason for this blog, is a man in Roseville, MN saw some of my past blogs and he wanted me to share his voice. His voice is was as caregiver for his wife, who won the fight against cancer. He wants to share what he went through and what he learned through their journey. His name is Cameron, his email and pictures of his beautiful family are below. I am flattered that my blog is a venue for his voice!

When My Wife Got Cancer

In November 2005, my life was irreversibly altered. I found out that Heather, my wife, had mesothelioma. It was also when I became a caregiver to her, which I was ill prepared to handle. Only three months before, she'd given birth to our only child, our daughter Lily. All we wanted was to celebrate the holiday season as a happy, healthy family, but it wouldn't be that simple. Instead, we began a long, difficult journey to beat cancer.

The full implications of the situation hit me before we were even out of the doctor's office. He strongly recommended that Heather visit a mesothelioma specialist to improve her odds of survival. My wife looked like she was stuck in a nightmare she couldn't wake up from. We decided to visit a specialist in Boston by the name of Dr. Sugarbaker, a leading expert in this form of cancer.

Our lives were completely miserable and chaotic for the next two months. Prior to her diagnosis, Heather and I worked full-time, but Heather left work to fight her cancer. To take care of her, I started working part-time. While not at work, I made travel plans, saw to my daughter's care and accompanied Heather to the doctor. I was terrified that, regardless of the effort we were putting in, Heather would still die and I'd be a broke widower raising a baby on my own. Many times, I would break down on the kitchen floor when nobody was around to see. Luckily, these feelings of misery and helplessness were few and far between.

We were blessed with a loving family ready to help out, and even strangers were offering their support. We're eternally grateful to these people and we couldn't have gotten through this trying time without them. One recommendation I have for others in a similar situation is to take whatever help is offered to you. It will make things much easier to deal with.  There is no room for pride in a battle with cancer.

Things returned to normal over the next few years after my wife won her battle with mesothelioma. If I learned anything from the experience, it's that my tenacity can be used to my benefit and how important it is to not take our time here for granted. This was part of what drove me to go back to college.  My time as a caregiver gave me the strength and courage to pursue this dream, and I began working towards my degree in IT two years after Heather’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

I graduated with honors and served as the speaker of my class. In one part of my speech, I stated that if I'd been asked where I saw myself within five years, it wouldn't have been on that stage. I spoke of the importance of maintaining hope and that you can achieve anything with some faith in yourself.  My wife’s strength and courage has been an inspiration to me, and now we hope that by sharing our story, we can help inspire others in their own battles with cancer today.


 
 
Cancer does give you strength and tenacity! So take that f'n cancer- we won!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

It's the end of the ride!

Whoo Whooo- Valentines day / Thursday, was my very last chemo and I don't think I have looked forward to a day, in so long. It is also bittersweet! I know that the chemo is killing the cancer in my body, so I get a little panicky thinking that if without the chemo, cancer might find a way to get back in my body. I have also made so many friends, that I enjoy seeing and talking to every other week. Like David, the young man who was diagnosed with cancer and his family. Susan, who started the same treatment as me, two weeks ago. There are many others that I knew their story, just not their name. It's like the last day of school, you are ready for the summer, but you are sad too, for it to end. Anyway, you get the jest, it is bitter sweet. Kimmie made it a celebration, as she does with most occasions. She surprised me with all kinds of treats. She decorated the car, she made sunglasses and had Cindi and Brittany show up as a surprise. Dawn and her son, came in bareing gifts and sat with me a while. All the nurses were so sweet! We got Shay to sing one more song (Amazing Grace). Lloyd had made Asian Hot Wings for everyone and wrote a sweet note to the nurses that made them cry. It said, "thanks for taking care of the love of my life." Yes, it even choked me up, too!  I wrote a letter to them as well. My letter said, they were unbelievable and an inspiration not only to me, but to Brittany, too. (she said oncology is her calling and she believes she will eventually end up in that field, with her nursing). She decided this after the second time to chemo and talking to the Infusion nurses and to Dr Hahm's awesome nurse Rebecca! Anyway, they all made an impact on my life and I will never forget how in the midst of my storm, they were my safe harbour.
Maria and my last bad of chemo
I often write my blog when I am feeling better and I have said chemo hasn't been that bad. Kinda like childbirth, you forget quickly! Well, as I am sitting here with intense bone pain in my legs and knees, I can say today and yesterday, have been bad. I did not run the fever with this treatment, but the pain is as bad as the first my firstTaxol treatment. But, you know what? I can deal with it because I know this is the last time I'll have to! The most difficult side effect is the stinging, burning, itching of my hands and feet. That hurts and is really annoying (almost to the point of insanity!) Luckily this doesn't start until AFTER the bone pain, so I don't have to deal with both of the side effects at the same time! Then there is the neuropathy- numbness in my finger tips. Dr. Hahm said if I were a neonatal nurse or a surgeon, she wouldn't give me Taxol, because of having to use my fingers for my job. I told her she MUST not know about the art of passing pretzels and pouring cokes, cause I am sure if she did, my occupation would have warranted the concern, as well! Just joking. Hopefully, the numbness will go away at some point, but as long as the itching and pain stops I will be fine!

Number 8 and Final One
Kimmie (Chosen Sister), Cindi (Birth Sister) and     Brittany (my sweet baby girl)

Rebecca- Dr Hahm's nurse
I am so ready to move forward with my life, now that this trip is over. These lessons learned from the cancer I will carry on with me, though. I have always thought things happened for a reason and that God was in charge of putting people and circumstances before you, but now? I believe it more than EVER. I realize that everything you do in your life, and your day to day life COUNTS....it really matters! Everything about your life is a lesson. Every little decision you make is going to enhance your spirit or drag it down, so make your decisions wisely! After you have cancer, or any other life altering experience, you realize that you have the right to reject circumstances that drag down your spirit and take advantage of what makes you and those around you happy. Number one in importance is to be fully present and appreciate all that is in your life right now and appreciate the people and things that give you joy. The hardest lesson I will take away from cancer is to give up the need to know what is happening tomorrow and living in the present! That is a hard one for the planner, who wants to know! Taking note of every moment is important to me now. I want to be the person who makes an impact on someone's life, just by the little things I do day to day. There were so many people that did that and touched my life during this journey and I thank you!
So I have reached the destination- I am sliding in sideways, saying Whoo Hoo- what a ride! Thank you all for joining me on this roadtrip, I could not have made it without you all!

The End!
NOW- off to the next adventure!!

Click to watch my video about the last 6 months

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rocky Theme Song

Many of my friends know that I always have a song in my head- and sometimes it pops out. Well today, as I enter the final lap and await the last chemo on Thursday- the Rocky Theme song is playing. I picture myself running up the steps and on Thursday I will be pumping my arms and finishing this battle to the top!
Chemo has been hard, but I wouldn't say it was unbearable. I guess my shoulder injury trained me for the chemo. I was used to being in pain, sitting. and not being able to do anything. I never did get the nausea that some people get with chemo.Thank God!! I had it on my very first treatment of Andrimycin and that was it- of course after that, I stayed on top of the medicine and would even set my alarm to wake me in the middle of the night so I wouldn't miss taking a pill. I think that helped! The nausea pills did make me constipated and I had an issue with that, but luckily I had a friend in Dawn! She was having the same problem and she went to the specialty doctor (in that area) and told me what he said to her, so I didn't go! Thanks Dawn, for taking a probe for me!!! I know, too much information, however; I am writing this blog for women who are going through this same thing, so they may want to know the good AND the bad that came with treatment!
The Taxol is what I am taking now and after I have my treatment on Thursday I will feel fine till about 5 or 6pm on Friday- that is when I get a fever, last treatment it got up to 101- the new cut off point for me to call the after hours physician. The pain will also start about then and  won't let up until Monday or Tuesday. I have learned that the heavy duty pain pills I have, don't help the pain, they just make me feel like I don't care that I am in pain!  So now, I just take tylenol and claritan. Don't ask me why Clariten works with the bone pain, Dawn told me about it when I took the Nulesta shot and had bone pain from that medicine. The new side effect I am having with the Taxol is itching and burning hands and feet- THIS drives me nuts. I take benedryl for this and it seems to help.
But all of this will soon be over- I can handle anything as long as I know it will be better AND when!! That is the key- I haven't been able to plan anything and I am so ready to begin my life over again. I have made "an appointment" for a week long trip to my favorite beach (Cape San Blas). I also have surgery for the reconstruction coming up. My shoulder dr said to wait about 6 weeks after the boob surgery to do anything, so that is still pending. My bucket list is getting longer and I am ready to get to work on that and the party!
Listen out for all the cheers and the Rocky Music on Thursday- it's not just Valentines Day- it is the END OF CHEMO DAY!!


My BCF- Best Cancer Friend, Dawn (Super D)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cancerversary....5 months

So today I had a check up with the surgeon that diagnosed my cancer. I didn't realize it until I was staring at her computer screen, but today marks exactly 5 months since I was sitting in that same exact room waiting to hear those 3 dreaded words. "Yep, it's cancer."  That was 5 months ago, that my life came to a screeching halt and all focus had to be on myself, my support group and survival. I am nearing the end of this dreadful journey, and I have to say I have learned so much. You really don't know how much your life changes when you are faced with your immortality. "Things" don't bother me anymore, because well, how could they when you have such a bigger fish in the fryer. I have also learned alot about people too, I really hope I can be even half the friend that you all have been to me! Your kinds words and actions mean so much to me and brighten my day, when I am sitting here in a painful Taxol coma. You all have taught me that little things you do and say mean so much to someone when they are down. I re-read all of my cards I had received over the past several months, and was once again overwhelmed by the people that took the time to write such inspiring letters. Again, I have learned how important that card or letter is, and hope I can be that special friend, too, when you need me.

I only have two treatments to go...Yay! Last weeks treatment was uneventful. As always- Kimmie picked me up and we showed up with our bag of goodies. Gnomie, my blanket, and Donna's prayer. Cindi has been working and allowing Brittany or Kristi to go with me, while they were home for Christmas, so this week she brought Kimmie and I lunch and sat with us. It was crowded and the man next to us was a little sick and sleepy, so we did behave ourselves...this time. My side effects were bone pain all weekend and a fever on Saturday. Nurse Brittany was here and monitered it for me. At 100.4, I am to call the emergency line at the dr's office, it broke at 100.3- whew, it was a close one. I absolutely did not want to go to the emergency room on a Saturday night with no immune system and all those sick people. My blood count was a little low on chemo day, so I had to go today and have that checked. If is was still low, I was to get the Nulesta shot. Luckily, through the grace of God and my prayer warriors- my blood count had gone up and it looked good. Another YAY!!
I am seeing the light at the end of this dark tunnel and I am ready to begin living life again. I still have reconstruction surgery and my shoulder surgery with 6 months recovery, but I am making plans to mark things off my bucket list. Fly Fishing lessons, a trip to the beach, living my life with the volume turned up and a BIG ASS PARTY to celebrate surviving this journey. When my life settles down I will follow through with my promise to be an avid volunteer for this awesome organization, Loving Arms Cancer Outreach, they offer support, free wigs, bras, prosthesis, rides and monetary support for cancer patients. I also will try my best to get back to the job I love and start "cloud hopping" again!
Thank you all again for being "my army", my friends, my prayer warriors, my everything!  Now, go feel your boobs!
Kept my smile till the bitter end...waiting on the dreaded words- August 24, 2012

What a difference 5 Months has made....Jan. 24