I thought I was done.


I truly thought I had put my blog to rest, once and for all.  However, as we all know, life has other plans for us when we least expect it.

When I saw my oncologist, Dr. O, back in March for my normal 6 month check up, she told me right then, eye to eye, that if I didn’t loose the weight that I wouldn’t live to see 70.

Holy Shit Batman, you have my attention.  She also told me that if the cancer returned, if it was in my bones, there wasn’t anything she could do.  Gulp.  I’m still listening, with very wide eyes and attention to detail, she was super serious with me.  Dr. O continued to tell me that it was time that I have weight loss surgery, how my diabetes would be gone, blood pressure gone, high cholesterol gone!  Um ok.  I’m still paying attention, but my head was swimming, I was by myself and on information overload.  That was a lot of information to digest in such a short amount of time.

Of course, I knew I needed to loose weight, no one needed to tell me that, I could tell every time I saw my reflection, every time I bought new clothes, each time I sat down and my muffin top could be used as a table top.  Yes, I knew.  But there was something about hearing that I wouldn’t live to see 70 if I didn’t get the weight off that truly motivated me.

After making my next appointment (6 months later), I called my husband with my latest report of still being ‘no evidence of disease’ and then the news of the weight and what it meant.  I then came home, called our health insurance to inquire about coverage for weight loss surgery, it was time that I jump start this new journey, 70 doesn’t feel that far away.  When I hung up with Aetna, I was horrified, our current policy did NOT cover any type of weight loss surgery, regardless of what my medical history was or what any doctor had to say, nope, not gonna cover it.  By the time my husband got home, I was a emotional mess, I  had practically buried myself, I could see my life ticking away minute by minute.  He hugged me and that was all it took for me to fall apart.  In his gentle and encouraging way, he told me that we would figure it out, and that we did.  I ended up having the gastric sleeve surgery just 3 weeks later.  I want to live long past the age of 70.  I have grand sons to watch grow, more grand kids to come later (I hope) and life to live!  Damnit, I’m not ready to die, but having 70 stare me in the face is a strong wake up call.

About 6 weeks post surgery, I found myself passing a kidney stone and in the emergency room.  The emergency room doctor ordered a CT Scan to check for more kidney stones, however, his report floored me.  He came in and told me that there were no signs of a kidney stone but that I had a cyst on the inside of my left ovary.  WHAT?  I nicely told him that I didn’t have ovaries, he actually argued with me about it.  He even went back to check the CT Scan to make sure it was mine and then proceeded to tell me that I needed to go back to the surgeon who took them out, because I clearly had a cyst on the left ovary.  WHAT?  That’s simply not possible.  As soon as we got in the car to come home, I called my gynecologist who is the one who not only got me to have my mammogram that discovered my cancer, but he treated me for infertility, a high risk pregnancy, performed a complete hysterectomy and made sure I had a copy of my pathology report once my ovaries came out, I trust him.  He has hugged me and prayed over me numerous times during the past 28 years that he has been my doctor.  Anyway, he was out delivering a baby, but called me as soon as he got back in the office, he too said he had taken my ovaries out, but wanted to see the report.  You can bet your sweet self, I drove over to the hospital, got that report and went back to his office where we scheduled an exam for the next morning.  That exam didn’t lead to anything more than a sonogram that showed what looked like a cyst, no biggie.  But……it could also be a tiny bit of ovarian tissue that was left behind when my ovaries were removed in 2013, ovarian remnant syndrome.  Google it.  While it’s rare, it does happen and typically presents no problems for the average person, whew, good.  We discussed what we would do moving forward – re-check me in December when it was time for my well woman exam, unless I started having issues.  I have no issues to report.

When I went for my typical check up at my oncologist office a few weeks ago, I had the nagging thought to take a copy of the CT Scan with me, just to be a part of my medical file. When I told the nurse practitioner what was going on with it, she pulled my complete chart, reminded me that I was considered post menopausal, (oh I remember forced menopause, those hot flashes were horrid thank you very much), but felt it was best that we check my hormone levels to be safe.  Ok, let’s draw MORE blood (but that’s another story).

Fast forward 1 week.  I’m sitting at my desk about 2:00 pm on a Monday afternoon while at work, my cell phone rings and it’s my oncologist office, I let it go to voice mail, after all, I’m sure they are calling to tell me that my Vitamin D levels are still low and what we need to do.  WRONG WRONG WRONG, do not pass go and be prepared to pay a stupid amount of money moving forward.

I went ahead and listened to the voice mail that was left.  Imagine my shock when I hear that my estrogen levels are elevated and we need to talk, that I need to call back with the information of the place that ran the CT Scan, they want a copy of it, and will call me back later on to discuss my labs.


That voice mail invoked the same emotions that the call telling me that I had cancer did.  I left my desk, called back with the information they requested, then quickly called Dr. W (gynecologist) to discuss.  He told me that he would call Dr. O’s nurse to discuss, he called back, we talked a couple of more times.  After we got home from work, the nurse practitioner called to go over my lab results with me.  For being post menopausal, my estrogen level should be at 10 or less, my current level is 80!  Holy BAD WORDS, EIGHTY??????  Freda (NP) told me that Dr. O wanted that remnant out, NOW.  I can’t begin to tell you how I was feeling.  Estrogen is super bad for me, super duper bad, like, oh so very bad.  My cancer was 100% fed by estrogen, so, if ANY cancer cells survived surgery, chemo, radiation AND the hormone suppressors I’ve been taking, this new estrogen could be feeding the bastards and do damage.  But…..wait….my latest labs are all clear, still no signs of cancer, so why am I in a panic?  Cause I understand the magnitude of what this COULD mean for me, estrogen is as bad as Satan is.  It can kill me.

Over the course of the next few days, I can’t even begin to tell you how many emails I exchanged with my oncology nurse, she was even able to work miracles and get my 2 doctor’s to talk to each other, not to nurses, or office staff, but to each other.  They even came up with what they felt would be a suitable game plan moving forward to treat this remnant.  My options are to either take a Lupron shot every 3 months for the next 5 years, or have it surgically removed, again. Let me tell you, that was an easy peasy decision for me – yank that sucker out.  No way can I live in peace knowing this thing is still in me and capable of going rouge on me again.  Did I mention that estrogen is involved and just how horrible it is for me?  UGH!

I have made the decision to have ONE and only ONE Lupron shot, this will give me up to 3 months to find a gynecological oncologist to do the surgery, get it planned around life and work, come up with the deductible and save for the time that I’ll need to be off work.  Oh, and let’s not forget that I have about a billion questions that need to be answered.

Back to the title “I thought I was done.”  Well, I did.  But clearly, this ovary thing changes e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  I tried keeping my weight loss surgery quiet, wanting some privacy in my life after a very public journey with breast cancer, but, well, that didn’t work out the way I planned it.  Then I wanted to keep this private as well, but my desire for more information related to ovarian remnant syndrome and breast cancer together outweighed my desire for privacy.  The internet (or as I call it, Dr. Google) hasn’t been very helpful, neither have any of the top cancer websites.  The women in my support group had never heard of this either, yea, me too.  I want to find someone who has been through this, not that I need support, but I want to pick their brain’s over how it was discovered, were they also estrogen positive, how did they treat, how did their post cancer treatment change, etc…..If you know anyone who has dealt with this, send them my way.

it’s been a rough couple of weeks with the passing of our oldest pup, Chrissy, followed by the news that my ovary is back and trying to kill me.  There’s been a lot to wrap my head around, but I woke up this morning, and for that, I’m very very thankful.

When I cross the finish line in 11 days at the Race for the Cure, it will hold a little extra meaning this time than it has in years past.  Not only will it be the 4 year anniversary of the day I learned my mammogram was bad, it also signifies that I really don’t know what tricks my body will pull on me next.

Crazy huh?


The End……?

November 24, 2015

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about how I need to update my blog, but, well, I felt that I haven’t had anything new to say.  Then, tonight (actually it’s morning, just after midnight), as I sit here, crocheting, thinking about random stuff, it occurred to me, that maybe I have nothing knew to say, because I’ve done some tremendous healing regarding having had breast cancer.

Healing, yes.  But I am not the same person I was before I learned that I had breast cancer, I’ve changed.  In some ways for the better, but in many others, not so much.  I find I’m far less tolerant of others and I find that I have closed myself off.  Then there is the memory issues (hello chemo brain), and my lack of giving a crap on some issues.

Learning you have cancer (or any other life threatening disease) changes you, it changes your world, it changes the people around you.  I haven’t always been able to express how I’m feeling, or what I’m thinking, but I’ve done my best.

However, one thing is certain.  The last 3 years have been hell, they have been very difficult.  So many things have not worked out like I thought they would.  I have been deeply saddened over the loss of a friendship that I thought would last forever, truly stand the test of time – but it didn’t and regardless of the actions that I sought to repair it, it is over.

I’ve lost jobs in the last 3 years, that has left me feeling very discouraged.  Each time we start to get back up on our feet, bam, knocked back down.  All I’ve wanted to do since I finished my surgeries and treatments was to escape for a beautiful beach vacation with my husband to celebrate the victory of beating cancer, rejoice in being alive and just take it all in.  And, now, here we are again, knocked back down.  We were planning to go to Cancun in February for this very purpose; sadly, a recent lay off has stripped this trip from my grasp once again.  This has left me still yearning for the closure I have wanted, the rejoicing and recharging that my soul needs – and, I had very special plans to honor my friend Beverly while there, with a strawberry margarita while sitting on the beach; two things she had to give up after her double lung transplant.

This past year (2015) has brought about it’s own challenges; 3 people from my breast cancer support group have passed away after their cancers returned, one of which hit me very hard; Tanyecia – we were diagnosed on the same day.  Loosing these 3 women (along with the above mentioned friendship) has hardened me a little, no not a little, a lot.  Getting close to someone, then seeing them suffer and die from a disease that could very well take you is frightening.  This has caused me to build some walls around my soul, protect myself even more from any outsiders that might hurt me further (refer back to the lost friendship).

The person who died that affected me the most is my friend, Bev.  I have mourned her death more than anyone I can truly remember ever mourning before.  For several months, the mere mention of her name, or a song (two songs, Stronger by Kelly Clarkson and Who You’d Be Today by Kenny Chesney) would reduce me to tears. Her life impacted me more than I ever realized, I dream about her so often, I find myself thinking about her, talking to her almost daily; I even had to ask her to stop visiting me in my dreams early on, as I was becoming restless and very weary.  I am so thankful that I was called to the hospital, along side of her family, the day she started telling people bye, and was called again to be with her when she passed.  I am so very thankful we had the opportunity to hold hands, talk, say we love each other, etc. while she was still coherent; I will forever cherish that I meant that much to her that she wished to tell me goodbye.  There are a few things that happened around those events that I will always hold onto, always remember, always carry with me that help me through when I find myself going down that dark road and missing her terribly.  Back in August, I realized I needed some help in dealing with her death and sought out grief counseling; wonderful decision.  I’ve been able to express how I feel in a safe environment, the impact she continues to have on my life, how I can honor her, and now, how I can start to let her go (yes, she’s been gone for 6 months and I haven’t let her go).

Because of Bev, that wall I’ve been building around my heart will always have a crack, in hopes that I can let others in.

I miss her terribly; I miss who she was, all the wonderful, positive good about her, our world needs more people like her.  For those of you who read this and know her, you know what this world is missing; for anyone who never met her – think of the most humble person you know, imagine this person has the soul of an angel, has integrity, no one ever speaks a bad word about them, nor do they speak badly of others.  A genuine, loving human being.  Every positive word you can think of, wrap that all into one human being and multiply it, and you have Bev.  We need more Bev’s, and I have a lot to live up to in order to honor her and what her life represented.

The last 3 years have left me feeling more depressed than normal (I was diagnosed with depression many years ago and have had to learn my own ways of coping, sadly, it’s usually via food); I have found that I get knocked off balance easily, which is probably why I have felt so discouraged lately regarding work; but, true to who I am, I will continue to pick myself up, and continue on.  There are days that just getting out of bed are hard, but at least now, it’s not because I feel so overwhelmed with cancer and all it brought into my life, Praise God.

As dark as the last 3 years have been, there has still been plenty of light!  PLENTY of light!

I now have 2 very healthy, adorable grandsons whom have occupied my heart in a way that I didn’t know was possible.  About a month ago, I was visiting them at their home (they live 3 hours away), and something changed with my oldest grandson(A), changed in our interactions and my heart healed by leaps and bounds that weekend (from the cancer).  It’s not something that I can explain, nor is it something that I think I even want to explain, it just happened.  Before A was born, a dear friend of mine expressed to me how there would be something very special about him, about the healing he would bring to my soul.  She was right, thank you Jill.

I have a handful of friends who didn’t leave my side during my worst days, weeks and months the last 3 years.  They have carried me through the valleys and celebrated with me at the top of the hills.  They have shown me what true friendship really looks like.  They continue to help me to heal.

I have also seen my youngest son get married and be incredibly happy in his new life, for this momma, seeing her boys happy and thriving is beyond anything I thought I would ever be allowed to experience.  They continue to be what makes me who i am, how I want to continue to be a better person, at the end of the day, I want them to say “that’s my mom and I’m so proud of her, let me tell you about her” while they smile and beam.  They are my heartbeat.

Plenty of light.

There is a saying that says “Time heals all wounds”, I’m not sure about all the wounds, but I feel like time has allowed me the opportunity to explore life in a new way while I have been going through cancer.  Time has allowed me to talk my way through, write and express via this blog, share my experiences with others by helping other women through the process. Maybe that saying is true, maybe time has healed the wounds of my soul that cancer left.

I know I’ll never be the same person I was before hearing I had cancer, and that’s ok.  I have my life, my husband, my children (sons AND daughter in laws), my grandchildren, my parents, in laws, siblings, friends and my precious Wall-E.  I even have memories of previous friends that shine a light on my heart when I remember them.

This may be the last post I have, or it could simply be the last one for a very VERY long time.  For now, it is the end.

I wish you a beautiful holiday season; may you count your blessings one by one, starting with yourself!  Then wrap the holidays up by celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.


I’m going to go stand in my very own spot LIGHT!

Thank you for following along.

PS – please be an organ donor in memory of my precious, beautiful friend, Beverly.



June 3, 2015

I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog update since the end of January! Wow! I’m going to have to sit down and really think about what’s been going on in my life to update you all.

First, I can say, that I am still healthy, still no signs of cancer and at my last oncology appointment I graduated to seeing my dr every 6 months now – this is big news in the world of cancer!

So, what about the tears? I have been doing some reflection here lately, some good, some not so wonderful, and one of the things I thought about was how just a year ago, I was in counseling, trying to work through all of my emotions related to my breast cancer, trying to heal emotionally as well as physically. While I learned many things in counseling, I was able to release the tears I had kept bottled up inside, it doesn’t take a whole lot to get me crying now!

It used to really make me angry to cry, angry at myself, I found it as a sign of weakness in myself (me, not you, or anyone else, just me), and by golly, I’m tough and strong and badass, and all types of crazy things. However, since I have learned to cry again, and given myself permission to do, I am finding a way to release emotions in a more healthy way; sadly, my eyes would disagree since when I cry, I end up with big fat huge swollen eyes – it’s not a pretty site.

These tears have come in handy this past year, for many reasons, but I want to start with the most recent one that I care to share publicly.

About 15 years ago, when I started a part time job here in town, I met a woman, who served on our board of directors, the more I learned about her, the more I got to know her, the more I admired and respected her. Bev and I developed a friendship that evolved over time, discovering things about ourselves that we had in common, etc. Bev and I would soon face our own health crisis a few short months apart. She, however, had a harder road to travel than I did.

When Bev was 19 or 20, she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, the older she got, the more advanced the disease became. Never did she use this as an excuse to not do something, never did she use it as a excuse to get attention – NEVER did she ever let it get her down, never, simply never. Bev often kept how sick she truly was to herself, not letting people into that world, she always put others before herself. I remember walking into the waiting room following a mammogram and saw her sitting there filling out paper work. I stopped to chat with her and discovered she was there because her dr thought her lung was collapsed. I don’t remember now if it was or not, this would be a repeat procedure for her over the years that followed. Bev found out just how bad her health was when one of her lungs collapsed and she found herself in the hospital for about a month, it was then that her dr’s told her it was time for her to go on the lung transplant list, it was time, her lungs were just that bad. In true Bev fashion, she was upset that someone would have to die in order for her to live; always thinking of others first.

Bev agreed to go on the transplant list, she would find herself in and out of the hospital a few more times before her good lung collapsed and she was put in the hospital with no release date in sight. Her dr’s had no intention of releasing her from the hospital until she had a new set of lungs. Do you think she let this get her down? Nope! If my memory serves me right, she was there about 30 days before receiving her new set of lungs. Oh, how glorious this was! When I received the call that she was out of surgery and breathing on her own, with her new lungs, I couldn’t help but rejoice. She had some significant setbacks before finally being released from the hospital, but she was doing well, she looked fantastic, and was able to slowly return to life as normal.

And before we knew it, I was diagnosed with breast cancer (it was actually 6 months after her transplant). We started sharing our dr’s visit updates, would we both be at the dr at the same time? Could we meet for lunch? So many options. If I wasn’t checking on her, she was checking on me; we gained strength from each other while we continued to build our friendship. I learned so very much from watching her, she taught me what it was like to fight for your life with so much grace and dignity, if I could muster up just half of that during my fight, I would be doing well.

Long story short, Bev went into chronic rejection and was never able to fully recover before she passed away a few weeks ago. The day her husband called me (from the hospital) and said she was asking for me and explained just how bad she was, I found the tears flowing before I could even try to stop them. Seeing just how upset I was, my husband drove me over there and waited in the waiting room so I could go spend time with my sweet friend, the last time we would end up having together. She held my hand the entire time, couldn’t lift her head to see me, but told me how proud she was of me for beating cancer, that she loved me, she asked about my grandson (I tell ya, always thinking of others); we talked about the song Stronger by Kelly Clarkson, I quickly tried to find it on my phone (I didn’t have it) and silently let the tears fall down my face knowing that I was most likely telling her goodbye. As we held hands, I told her that I was going to go, she needed her rest, she had family coming, she told me she didn’t want me to leave, to stay. I stayed a few more minutes, before kissing her hand and telling her how much I loved her and that I would be back on Friday.

I cried all the way home, and the next day at work as well. Knowing I was about to loose this precious person who meant so much to me was hard to take, someone I admired and respected was going to leave us. This just wasn’t acceptable in my world.

I didn’t get to see her that Friday, she had rallied and was doing fantastic, she was going home. I made plans to stop by to see her on my way home that following Tuesday, which was her 3 year transplant birthday, but texted her to change our plans so she could spend the day with her husband and extended family, she felt that was best, she was feeling rather fatigued. We agreed to touch base on Saturday morning and I would come over. I have kept that text.

Saturday never came.

On Thursday evening, May 14th at 8:34 pm, Bev’s husband called me to tell me she was back in the hospital and simply just wasn’t going to make it. We talked for a few minutes, he told me where to find them in the giant hospital. I told my husband what was happening, texted the kids, got in touch with a few people from work and headed to the hospital, coffee in hand knowing it was probably going to be a long night. During my drive to the hospital, i chatted with Bev’s sister in law, Christy, who is also my friend, she kept me up to date as things changed. When I was in the parking garage headed towards the hospital, she texted me and said to hurry. I started running through the hospital halls, coffee splashing as I went. Christy met me at the elevators and brought me back to where Bev was. As we rounded the corner, we came upon a large gathering of her husband’s co-workers, church pastor and family members. He was telling everyone that she was basically gone. We were then able to go into her room, and of course, my tears were flowing. She was still in a medically induced coma, on a ventilator, but was basically not with us any longer. I did what I knew to do, hold her hand, tell her I love her and cry. After a while, I stepped into the hall and started making a few phone calls to let others know what was happening.

It was after midnight when we all left the room and the machines keeping her alive were turned off. Her amazing husband (and I do truly mean AMAZING) stayed with her through that final moment, taking care of her – it was beautiful, and loving, and heart breaking all at the same time. We were all allowed to come back into her room, where we all took turns standing beside her bed, holding her hand, talking to her, telling her our goodbye’s.

Her funeral didn’t take place until the following week, and for me emotionally, it was pretty brutal. Her story wasn’t supposed to end up like this, she was supposed to be healthy and live a long life with her new lungs. I was having a very hard time understanding why God didn’t heal her. For the first time in my life, I found myself angry with God, felt very selfish and hated to hear the standard “I’m sorry”, or “she’s in a better place”, etc. Those things were not helping me, even though I knew them to be true. I knew she was breathing with lungs at 100% capacity, that she had met her donor and was probably already on a beautiful beach in heaven (something she had to give up following her transplant).

In the days following her funeral and my final goodbye, I continued to cry, I continued to seek out answers, to make sense of what had happened. I was the one with cancer, a disease that kills, she had gotten a new set of lungs and was supposed to be healthy. I was angry. And then I realized what I was feeling (besides sadness), survivor’s guilt. If either of us was supposed to loose a fight, it was supposed to be me from cancer, not her – never here.

Bev passed on May 15th, and I still find myself with fresh tears over all that I lost in this extraordinary friend, this beautiful human being, this person who was nothing but good. I have found myself troubled by things and wanting to pick up the phone and call or text her, just to hear her positive attitude, making me realize it would all be ok, whatever it was that was bothering me, it would all be ok.

And so I cry, tears of sadness over loosing this precious person, but also tears of joy for having known her and been a part of her life. I received a rare gift at her funeral from a stranger, it was very personal and very profound that I have only shared with one person, as soon as I was able to get to my truck, I opened the notes feature and wrote down every detail so I could remember it always; I thank God for the message He knew I needed at that exact moment in time.

I’m learning that tears are good.

Other than the loss of Bev, the only other times that come to mind that brought me to true tears was this past Christmas and the birth of Andrew, my first grand child almost one year ago.

We, as a family, postponed our Christmas gathering this past year due to a stomach virus running like a mad bull through the house, we wanted everyone to feel better before we got together. As I stood in the kitchen preparing what ever it was we were about to eat, the 4 grown kids were all in the living room playing with Andrew, it was a beautiful sight. I wish I would have been able to sneak a picture so that I could capture that moment in time, for me, just something to remind me of how lucky I am to still be here. I was able to hold back the flood of tears that I wanted to release that day, and instead replaced them with a big smile and a gracious heart, along with a silent prayer of Thanksgiving to God for bringing me healing from my cancer.

The other time that I experienced true emotion, true tears, was when Andrew was born. I was very overcome with emotion when I held him the first time, I surprised myself seeing how I had been telling everyone I wasn’t ready to be a grandma. Those were tears of joy to witness this miracle, to watch my son with his first child, my heart was so full and I again, was very grateful to still be on this earth to be a part of it. The flood gates of my soul re-opened a few days later when it was time to return home, I was already so head over heels in love with this little guy and I couldn’t stand to leave him in the capable of hands of his mommy and daddy, I wanted to stay too. So, what did I do when it was time to leave and head home? I cried! A lot! I cried so much that I probably could have ended the drought in that part of the state just a year ago! LOL….seriously, it was rough and I’m sure no one understood my emotions, but I did.

You see, I’ve lost 3 of my 4 grandparents to cancer, one of which, I was very close too. I also lost my step mom to cancer. Watching someone you love loose their battle isn’t easy. When I learned I had cancer, we had no idea how bad it was, if it had spread, nothing. We had to wait until my surgeon did a frozen biopsy of just one single lymph node during surgery to know if it had spread even that far; it had in fact spread. Now, we had to wait again for the final pathology report to learn the other nodes were also positive for cancer. In the cancer world, when it’s in your nodes, it can and will spread to other parts of your body, this is a very scary thing. I in some sense, had to come face to face with my own mortality. My oncologist ran tests of my body, head to toe, to make sure it hadn’t spread, thankfully, my cancer was contained to my breasts and lymph nodes. Does that mean I’m healed, no, it doesn’t. When I’m 10 – 12 years out with no signs of cancer, then and only then will my Dr consider me healed. I have 10 years left.

Facing cancer, facing my own mortality has taught me so much about life, about myself. I don’t take the little things for granted any longer. I don’t pick up my camera to capture a moment like I would have before, instead, I’m sitting back, letting life happen and enjoying it so very much as I know my story could have very easily turned out differently. I’m also aware that at any given moment, the roque cancer cells in my body that COULD be laying dormant could decide to wake up and invade my body again. Because of this, I will soak in each and every moment, I will cherish the times I have with my family and close friends. I may hug you a little tighter, a little longer. I may tell you that I love you, or appreciate you more than I did before.

I will probably bug you senseless to make sure you are taking care of your health, getting your mammograms and in honor of Bev, ask if you are an organ donor.

Next week, my son will get married to the one God has chosen for him. I will be there, front and center, taking it all in, thanking my Heavenly Father for allowing me to be here and maybe, just maybe…..

I’ll cry.

Not because I’m sad, but because I’m happy and so appreciative to be in this moment in time.

I’ve learned that tears are a good thing and I won’t hold them back any longer.

This is my Bev, 8 months after her transplant, 2 weeks after my first chemo treatment.

Cancer as a Crutch – WHAT?????

January 28, 2015

The last couple of weeks have been somewhat trying for me, for some of the things that have come up, I’ve bit my tongue, kept my thoughts to myself, but then there are a few that I didn’t.  Ok, not really a few, but you understand.

Last week, I was having a particularly hard day with my joints, my hips and the bottom of my feet were hurting pretty badly; my guess is that even though I thought the neuropathy was gone, it isn’t, so I posted on Facebook as to what I believe are some misconceptions regarding people who have had, or currently have cancer.  I got some negative feedback on that post; one person even said I was using cancer as a crutch and then proceeded to post elsewhere about women missing the attention when they were in active treatment, I took that as a jab at me, and yes I spoke up.  I was very aggravated by this comment, and there were some who saw the comments and felt the same way that I did, attacked and aggravated.

I have been very vocal in regards to my diagnosis, surgeries, chemo, radiation and hormone suppressor treatment; partly because it has helped me to deal with what I have and am going through; then on the flip side of that coin is my desire to help others who are facing the sea of pink, whether they are a cancer patient, a care giver or a support person.

You see, breast cancer is about more than a pink ribbon, after all the surgeries are over, the hair has grown back and the radiation burns have healed – the average (or in this case, me) person is not done, they don’t get to go back to their old life pre-cancer, life becomes a new normal, so let’s talk about that briefly.

First, there is the emotional toll that a cancer diagnosis takes on you, both mentally and physically.  I was a mess, and I do a complete mess from the day I learned my mammogram was bad until a few days after I received my diagnosis.  I shut down.  The only way I would talk to someone was via text, email or Facebook chat.  I would go to work and that was it, I wouldn’t cook, do laundry, etc.  I shut down in a serious fashion.  I went through a lot emotionally in that month of not knowing and it took it’s toll on me.

Second, I had 6 different surgeries related to my breast cancer.  SIX!  That’s six times of being put under anesthesia, six times that I had to recover, six times I fought through the pain because I didn’t want to give into the pain pills (I’m stubborn like that); six times we seriously scrubbed surgical tape and glue off my body, with the last time leaving me with a horrible reaction and burn from the surgical tape, I was more miserable from that than the actual surgery.

Third, 16 rounds of chemo.  The first 4 rounds went like this:  Every 3 weeks I went in and was pumped full of steroids before my chemo was administered; I would come home and be awake for a little over 24 hours before being able to sleep, which led into my 5, yes, FIVE day chemo crash, or as I called it, chemocoma.  I literally slept for 5 times straight with a rare times of being awake long enough to use the bathroom and eat something small.  Repeat in 3 weeks.  Long term effects of chemo…….compromised immune system and chemo brain (memory loss).

Fourth, 34 rounds of radiation, which I started exactly 6 days after finishing chemo.  I ended up with some very nasty burns on the side of my breast, I did give in and take pain pills, just so I could sleep.  The burns were deep, I had big blisters, the skin was just about black and finally peeled.  Because of the radiation, I now have to massage my breast daily to keep scar tissue from building up and the implant drawing up and becoming smaller.  I am told this is very painful if it happens and cuts down the chances of having the implant replaced.  I recently learned that because of the radiation, I am now at a higher risk for skin cancer.  I’m having a small spot on my chest looked at this Friday by a dermatologist for what Dr. Google and I have diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma.

Fifth, hormone suppressors.  I am now on the last of the 3 available drugs I can take to keep my hormones from turning others into estrogen, once this last one stops working, or I can’t handle the side effects any longer, I have to start all over (Femara, Arimidex and Aromasin).  Each one has it’s own side effects, so it became the lesser of two evils, what can my body handle best……right now, we are going with bone/joint pain and neuropathy.

Sixth, I will forever have a compromised immune system.  I recently had a upper respiratory infection, the fatigue was horrible.  When I asked my oncologist about it, she said that isn’t unusual.  This concerns me, what will happen if I get really sick, say with the flu, or even pneumonia.  I can’t imagine the fatigue that will come with one of those.

So, you see, the average person may look at me and think I’m all better now that I’m finished with everything, when in reality, I’m far from it.  I’ll never be 100% better, and that sucks for not only me, but for my family too. I can’t begin to count, or try to grasp the number of times I have had a conversation with them, then turned around and asked the exact same question because I don’t remember the conversation that we JUST HAD.  Can you imagine just how frustrating that is for me, and them too?

The memory loss is just as frustrating for me, personally, as the bone/joint pain is.  Both things hold me back.  For instance, if something isn’t a repetitive thing, I forget unless I write it down, or more seriously, put it in my phone with an alarm.  I don’t know how to make others understand what this is like, it’s not something I choose to have in my life, or use as an excuse, it’s MY truth, my absolute truth.

I wish to God that cancer had never came into my life, but it did, and I am damn proud of how I handled myself.  I fought hard to get where I am now.  I have often times wondered what my purpose in life is, and I think being there to help others navigate this sea of pink is my calling.  I’m going to dr’s visits with one friend who is a breast cancer survivor with mets to the bone, I’ve been asked to reach out to someone I’ve never met after they were diagnosed, I’ve been contacted when a mammogram comes back bad, I’ve been asked how someone can help someone they love through breast cancer; and I’ve been called when a routine test showed something abnormal.

Yep, I use cancer as a crutch.

It is my hope and pray, that my story, my being so honest and vocal will help another woman through, gives her someone to talk to that understands.  It is my hope that I can help a care giver, loved one or support person understand what their loved one is actually going through, you see, it never truly ends and to insinuate we (I) use it as a crutch or dwell on it is really a slap in the face.

My advice to you, unless you are living inside the cancer patients body, experience their thoughts, feelings, pain; are in the surgery rooms, hear word for word what the oncologist says, takes those hormone suppressors and experiences the side effects – don’t pass judgement, don’t take jabs, try to understand; cancer is hard enough to navigate with out negativity being forced on us when we are doing our best to remain positive.

I am one hell of a fighter, I’m strong willed, I’m determined and I never back down from a good fight, I kicked cancers ass after all!  But what I won’t tolerate is being judged when someone doesn’t truly know the situation.

I know my circle, and I know my truth – God and I know and that is all that truly matters.  If you don’t believe me, I’ll let you ask him when you stand in judgement.

Letting go of my anger over this now.

Carry on and remember – it’s about more than a pink ribbon

PS – if you want to follow someone who really talks about breast cancer, look up Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer on Facebook and the web, watch her feed then tell her she uses it as a crutch, let me know how that works for you.


Deep in the Heart of……..

January 8, 2015

I bet you thought I was gonna say TEXAS!  Uh nope, not this time.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had my genetic testing for the BRAC gene, I had to gather as much family cancer history as possible.  I already knew that 3 of my 4 grandparents died from cancer.

Maternal Grandfather: prostrate and bone

Maternal Grandmother:  breast and lung

Paternal Grandmother: colon, skin and stomach

Doesn’t look so great for me, huh?

Anyway, what does that have to do with being deep in the heart of???????

Well, lucky me, my oncologist gave me a 2 year deadline to get my first colonoscopy (BEFORE I turn 50) done.  My deadline is up in July.  As much as I dread the prep part of the procedure, I dread the time frame I have to wait to hear “all clear” more.  Those seconds will probably feel like weeks, those minutes like years.  This will be my first “big test” since completing all of my treatments.  I can admit to feeling anxious about the whole process, in the “cancer world” this is referred to as scan anxiety.

As I drove home from work today, I was thinking that I might need a xanax to calm my nerves going into the procedure, but then I remembered the dreaded clean out and how it probably won’t stay in my system anyway.  Oh the joys!  This is gonna be super fun!  I’ve only been on my new job a month and I’m so thankful that my boss didn’t even flinch when I told her I needed to take the day before off, she is 100% aware of my cancer and everything related to it, she knows about my blog and encouraged me to continue it when I was thinking about taking it down.  Too bad this is just a contract position cause I’m really enjoying the people I work with and what I’m doing, not to mention I get to ride to and from work with my husband!

Well, there it is, the next part of my cancer journey.  As much as I am scared, no, terrified, of those few seconds until the dr tells me that I am indeed NOT full of you know what and that I will remain cancer free, I really must say that I wish my boys would be here to receive the payback of the gas leaving my body for all the times that they have “blessed me” with their own.  Of course, I’m sure they would find a way to make fun of me for it since they know how much I hate it, picking on me is what they do, but that’s ok, I know they love me and I’m just thankful to still be here to be picked on!


Deep in the heart of…………TEXAS!