The Ta-Tinis Present: Fight Like A Girl Flag 9 Benefit

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I met the Ta-Tinis during my chemo treatment at SCOA in 2014. I was 34 and had been given the worse news of my life. At the time I didn’t know of any other women my age that had gone through this nightmare. After my biopsy results confirmed the type of cancer I had, I was sent for counseling at SCOA to go over my treatment options and to start chemo cycles. I remember being given a huge bag of stuff at the end of the meeting. It was filled with things that helped me get through chemo. The bag and it’s contents were put together by the Ta-Tini’s. I met them in person a few months later at a Young Survivors gathering. They are all super sweet and have really warm personalities. I was happy to finally meet other women who had been diagnosed at an early age like myself.

 

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They along with SCOA organized the event. They have been doing it for several years and I love that they have found ways to give back, support, and celebrate women who fight breast cancer everyday. I hope to do the same using my social media platforms. I want  to focus on celebrating life, self love and finding happiness from within.

The theme of the event was the 1940’s, which had such beautiful fashion. I thought I would put my own spin on it…starting with flowers in the hair, which I’m currently obsessed with doing lately. I bought a stem of flowers from Michaels craft store, the entire branch was $8. Each flower was adorned with rhinestones and pearls. The flowers looked so real and pretty.

 

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I purchased the dress clutch, & shoes at Marshalls. I got everything for under $100. I’ve had the belt for years, not sure what retailer I purchased it from but it’s held up really well.

The event was wonderful, I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I was too busy stuffing my face, enjoying the music, and good company. Enjoy the pictures…I’m feeling lazy today…xoxo!

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Dress: Marshalls see similar here

Shoes: Jessica Simpson see similar here

Clutch: Marshalls see similar here

Belt: Old see similar here

Love,

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Living Beyond Cancer

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Hi guys, where do I even begin? It’s been such a long time. I haven’t blogged for this very reason. I just don’t know how to get back into blogging. It’s like learning to ride a bike again so forgive me if I seem a little rusty.

It’s been a year and three months since my bilateral mastectomy, which is when the cancerous tumor was removed. I count my “cancerversary” from that date. Some survivors count it from the date they were initially diagnosed. A year is big deal in the cancer world! I’m hoping for many more years.

Your probably wondering what I’ve been up to…truthfully, I’ve been celebrating life! it’s beautiful and I’m deeply grateful for each day. I completed all major treatment in June of last year. I reconstructed my breast in September and I’ve been laying low ever since.

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I needed to heal, physically and mentally. Treatment and surgery were so intense, it’s nice to just take a deep breathe. I’m learning to live beyond cancer, which is difficult at times. I had only known one person with breast cancer before I was diagnosed, now it seems like so many people are either battling the disease or dying from it. It’s so depressing, deeply depressing but I try to remain positive.

I wear this big smile, which hides a lot of pain but it also  represents happiness. Happiness for life, a full head off hair, quality time with my son and the people I love. Thank you all for giving me a warm welcome back, it made heart smile.

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Love,
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Self Love

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I had reached some really low points emotionally while battling ‘breast cancer’ this past year. The very thought that cancer had invaded my body was enough to turn my world upside down. I felt hopeless…lost….confused and deeply hurt. I initially cried a lot, stopped eating, and closed myself off from the rest of the world. How could anyone ever look at me the same? Why did I have to get cancer? When you’re a woman you worry about everything, especially physical (beauty) or your appearance in general ….our society is built on it. After losing all my hair during chemo, then both my breast after bilateral surgery, I had to learn to LOVE and ACCEPT the new me. 


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Xo 

 

Faith Prayer & Hope

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That was the message I pulled out of a fish bowl at the breast center before I went for my repeat mammogram. A reminder that I have never faced this battle alone. I was stressed at the thought of having to go through this process again. I remember the initial appointment like it was yesterday, I was coming for an appointment to check out a bothersome lump. I had no idea that I would be told that I had ‘cancer’…invasive, aggressive Her 2+ cancer. That day back in May has forever changed life. Ironically I was greeted by the same nurse who recognized my face from that first visit. We chatted about that initial diagnostic, how I was coping with treatment, and my feelings about going through this journey. She was as kind now as she was then, apologizing for ever having to break that type of news to anyone.
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I haven’t actually blogged in a while and its hard to believe that its been a month since I completed chemo and nothing…..I mean nothing has gone back the way it use to be. My hair for example, has been growing back a completely different texture. I’ve always had course, thick textured hair but the new growth is baby soft. I had eyebrows and lashes all through chemo but for some reason towards the end they thinned out and look like I have nothing. Just imagine a completely bare face, no hair on the head, eyebrows, or lashes. It is definitely a look that I will never get use to seeing in the mirror. I feel like a blank canvas and I jokingly have told friends and coworkers that I have to put on my face each day. The hair on my head is filling in mainly in the back and on the sides not so much on the edges or the top of my head, the growth pattern reminds me of a balding man. I’ve lost close to 30lbs since the start of chemo, which is the only exciting thing about this whole process. I’ve wanted to drop the weight but I’m a serious ‘YoYo’ dieter so I usually lose a little and gain much more! My taste buds have slowly returned so I can enjoy food again, there was a point when everything tasted like metal.
I have started Herceptin treatments alone, it’s an antibody that doesn’t give the same icky, awful side effects that I had during chemo. The Herceptin was a part of my chemo regimen (TCHP) Taxatore, Carbopatin, Herceptin, and Perjeta but I have to finish out the 52 week cycle that is recommended for this drug in order to achieve its full benefits. Taking Herceptin comes with one major side effect and that is heart function, it can damage the heart over time so I have routine echocardiograms to make sure it’s not deteriorating or showing reduced heart function from the drug.
I’ve been feeling pretty good so I was surprised to hear that my hemoglobin levels had not rebounded 3 weeks out from chemo. I have not felt any more tired than usual, I’ve even ventured out a bit more since chemo. At one point I went from work straight home and stayed in all weekend because a mistake like eating the wrong food while on chemo could be pretty explosive and not in a good way! My oncologist wanted to give my body the time to bring the hemoglobin levels up but surgery is needed and possibly radiation so even though, it increased from 7.3 to 8.0, it just is not high enough for the upcoming treatment options. We moved forward with 600 cc of blood to give my body the boost it really needed, the results from the transfusion are pending but I feel more energized than before.

 

I had to repeat my MRI and mammogram, my nerves were on edge because I can recall the initial mammogram like it was yesterday….Guess what? I wanted to share some great news! Take a look at the before and after pictures of my breast. I’ve circled the tumor in each photograph…notice anything different? No your eyes aren’t deceiving you, my tumor disappeared!!!! Your prayers have been working 😉 that along with the ability that God gives these scientist and researchers have made what use to be a death sentence, possible to treat successfully.

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MY MAMMOGRAM

 

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MY MRI

I truly believe that my purpose is bigger than this disease. I’m so grateful for the many people who have kept me in constant prayer. I still have a long way to go with treatment and surgery is still taking place so while the battle isn’t over, I’m sure excited about all the wonderful ways I can help other women through my testimony.

Luv,

 

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Push Forward

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You say, “It’s impossible.”…. God says, All things are possible.  

 
I’ve finally completed chemo…WoooHooo! Six cycles from June to October and while I still have far to go with treatment, I’ve decided that I’m going to celebrate every milestone because it’s a BIG deal to me! I started getting a sinus infection just days before the last cycle, thanks to my little ‘germ box’ five year old son ;). He goes to school and brings home all his cooties to share with mommy….you gotta love kids. I felt so guilty for not having energy to run and play with him. I did everything to rid my body of that cold because I was determined to get through that last cycle. When I arrived for treatment my doctor was concerned because my labs came back with a very low hemoglobin level. He debated for a little about holding off on chemo and possibly doing a blood transfusion. After reviewing the complete lab work he gave the green light to move forward with the last infusion…thank goodness! I just wanted to get it over with because my body was ready to throw in the white flag. Let’s just say that between these miserable hot flashes, lousy taste buds, and nightly leg cramps, I’m ready to give my body a much needed break from the ‘chemo beating’.
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I was so grateful to have friends and family go with me for my last cycle. My sister, whom I haven’t seen in a few years, flew in from London and my amazing friend Steph flew in from Connecticut for the ‘Ringing of the bell’ ceremony at SCOA. I wanted to cry when I rang that bell, I was so full of emotion. I’ve watched on the side lines for months as other people got up and rang the bell. It was a joyous moment, one that I will never forget. I remember when I first started my treatments at SCOA, I didn’t know what to expect but the nurses and doctors have been so good to me. The facility has been like a second home because I’m constantly in and out for treatments and other appointments.
It gets increasingly difficult to look pass the many faces and not be moved by the devastation that cancer has inflicted on other lives. I often look at SCOA as a room filled with everyday people going on with their everyday lives, until cancer puts the breaks on. I’ve met people that have fought cancer two and three times in their lifetime and remain so positive about returning for another battle…now that’s strong! I have exchanged stories about treatment plans, diagnostics, chemo, and how we first discovered we had cancer. The experience has been eye opening in so many ways.
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So what’s next?…Surgery…then radiation. I have repeat testing for the MRI and other scans before I determine the type of surgery, which will likely be a bilateral mastectomy….ouch! I haven’t prepared mentally for surgery, one thing at a time I guess. I’m working on recouping from chemo so I can be strong enough for surgery.

 

Thanks for all the prayers, love, and continued support…. I’m pushing forward!   
Huggs,

 

THE #FIGHTFORROXYJEWELZ FUNDRAISER

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” Never give up on your dreams”
I’ve been telling myself this ever since I relocated and found out I have breast cancer. For years I ran a fashion jewelry business and ‘I LOVED IT’, I worked full time but always kept a side hustle. It was a fun and exciting way of connecting with new people and building lasting relationships. It never feels like work when your having fun. Once I relocated I got so busy trying to adjust to my new way of life, job, and helping my son get comfortable in his new school….so busy that I stopped pushing my online hustle and trunk shows. I didn’t really know anyone and my circle of close friends were all in the northeast. I now realize that it is very necessary for me to revamp my business and use it as a source of income to help off set the medical & financial toll, that having cancer can bring on someone who is already fighting a difficult battle.
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I contacted my friends and suggested that I throw a trunk show in Connecticut…a fundraiser and revamp my business party all in one! Well that took off…my home girls are all super creative, very supportive, and they need no permission to go all out to make things happen….God I love them! In just one week my small scale trunk show turned into an all around fundraising extravaganza, complete with a venue ‘Sparks’ T-shirts & wristbands for the cause, silent auction, drink donations from the lovely Lisa Vanderpumps ‘ LVP Sangria ‘ line, raffle, jewelry of course and Karoake..LOL this should be interesting. I’m so ready to see old friends, make new ones, and have a great time! If your in the NY/CT area please stop by and say hello 😉
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I’ve always been very independent, you find out early on in the battle against cancer that ‘support’ & ‘help’ are needed in order to keep your sanity and help you cope with the harsh reality of what the disease does to you mentally & physically. I have always given to different charities and fundraisers, over time but had never considered one for myself until recently when my sister created a Give Forward page to help me get over financial hurdles. Every little bit counts! It could be a sweet message, social media share or like, monetary amount, it all helps! Please stop by and help in any way you can! Visit www.giveforward.com and search #fightforroxyjewelz  The link is posted to the right of the page for easier access. I have just completed chemo and was able to work as much as possible but surgery, depending on the type that I go with, will definitely require a lengthy recovery period so I’ll have to take considerable time off from work. There will be on going treatments, including radiation and medication that I will have to take for the rest of my life. This journey for me is far from over but I plan on fighting with everything in me.
I will begin releasing jewelry pieces weekly for online sales, which is something that I use to do and have decided to revisit. I pray that I have the time and energy to accomplish this while still undergoing treatments…LOL. I want to THANK all of you who have taken time to continue to support my efforts. I have amazing friends and family who know me personally but when you have a connection with people who you’ve never met, understand what your going through, it’s a truly humbling experience!
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Check out the article in this months issue of Afrophire Magazine
Thanks A Million,
 

 

Learning to Dance in the Rain

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“I want to live!”

It’s just that simple… I want to grow old and see my son graduate from college, get married, and give me grandchildren….is that too much to ask for? Well being diagnosed with cancer makes you think of all the ‘what if’s’….what if the cancer never goes away? What if it goes away and comes back? Then I start looking at survival rates and it becomes, how long will I live? The truth is anything can happen to anyone of us at any given time but for some reason, when your faced with a disease like cancer, it’s like someone just accelerated your life closer to death. Thoughts of death and sickness become the ‘elephant in the room’ you try to avoid it, you pray, you try to live a normal life but sickness and death are always in the back your mind. I wish that was not the case but it is for many people fighting this disease like myself.One way that I change the focus from cancer is by going to work. I work because keeping busy leaves less time for me to think about cancer… it’s the perfect distraction. I never thought I would admit that going to work gives me some sense of normalcy but it does. It’s actually a good feeling to leave the office on Friday and know that I made it through the entire work week. There are mornings that I dread waking up, I’m usually exhausted….sleep deprived and running on fumes. When the alarm goes off I wish for five extra minutes. Then I drag myself out of bed in time to slip out the door and make it into the office. I typically take the days following my chemo cycle off just so I can rest. Chemo days run together and come with long sleepless nights. I often find myself lying in the dark feeding my soul with prayer and positive thoughts. Sometimes I lay still enough to feel the heavy beating of my heart. Occasionally certain parts of my body twitch uncontrollably, I feel my fingers and toes become stiff at the joints and I get the worse charlie horse in my calves…boy, o boy are those painful. Let’s not talk about the bathroom trips…I haven’t used the bathroom this often since I was pregnant. I have to drink so much fluid to prevent dehydration but at the same time, I think my bladder wants to divorce me…seriously!

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The side effects
tongue pain & change in pigmentation, eyebrow & eyelash hair reduction or loss, lack of sleep, damage nails

Even on my worse nights I don’t doubt that life is worth living…Thankfully I’m able push forward every single day. I can smile because I know this to be true “I have cancer…cancer doesn’t have me.” I try to be optimistic about my future even during chemo cycles and testing. It’s hard to be optimistic when I’m hooked up to bags of lethal drugs that come with awful side effects. Some days I complain…some days I cry ‘I DON’T WANT TO BE STRONG’ …. Some days I ask why me? Then I feel guilty because I’m still here…Alive…and able to enjoy a life that so many people only dream. I’m grateful and I hope to fulfill my dreams and do all the crazy things I’ve always dreamed about doing, hopefully I won’t have to continue planning everything around the disease.

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My chemo care must haves for mouth, hair, skin, and comfort

I’m looking forward to October because…IT’S MY LAST CHEMO! I’ll still have to deal with the dreadful re-testing phase to see how successful the chemo and hormone therapy was on the tumor. Keep the prayers coming because surgery is the next big thing and while I’ve been able to work through out chemo I will have to take a month or two off to heal from surgery. I imagine this will be a tough holiday season 🙁  I plan on taking some time out to visit my friends and family in CT before I have surgery…not looking forward to the ‘human road map look’.  The scaring is so severe from any of the surgeries…UGH! I have been working on revamping my business and getting back to what I love to do…slowly but surely. I miss trunk shows, jewelry parties, and meeting great people all while building lasting relationships…the lyrics to the song “One day at a time,” just ran across my mind.

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Revamping my accessories business very soon!

I would like to discuss a few things in upcoming posts like, diet & exercise, support groups, and surgery and my thoughts on living life beyond the disease. I appreciate ALL of you that take the time out to support me on this journey, it has helped me tremendously!

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Loads of hugs!

XO

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The Waiting Game

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I’m hoping to be more consistent with these posts…really…I promise….well here we go…
After the pathology report I immediately met with my oncologist, Dr. Sommers at (SCOA), South Carolina Oncologist Associates followed by my surgeon Dr. Arrington to discuss my diagnosis and the treatment options available to me. Everything was happening so quickly…..one day you’re worrying about shades of lipstick…. latest fashion trends…. then the next day you’re tossed into a whirlwind of tests and appointments with doctors that will help to determine the best treatment for your type of cancer. You worry and question everything, it’s inevitable. Questions race through your mind every second of the day. Have I chosen the right doctor? How will I pay my bills? Will I be able to work? And how will this affect my family?
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My son loves the nurses…LOL!
The wait is terrifying and not knowing invites fear and doubt….a nightmare that you don’t get to wake up from. During these times prayer and faith will help you sleep at night…trust me you will need sleep. I had to let faith guide me during the darkest times otherwise; I would have never made it through the storm Besides, I still have so much ahead of me with treatments. Every test was literally like waiting to exhale. The first test was the…. MRI, which gave more in dept information about the cancer, in the right breast and detected fibroedenoma in the left breast. Then the PET scan, which had me in tears because I had to stay away from children (my son), elderly, sick, and pregnant for that entire day because I was radioactive…then I had to  wait for results, and finally good news…. the cancer had not spread to other areas or organs in the body. The echocardiogram was done to see if my heart could with stand the chemo dosage. I remember the technician saying “you have a beautiful heart, “which really stood out because I had been so tense and unhappy.
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My port placed under the skin
 My ‘team’ which now consists of nurse navigators, an oncologist, surgeons, and other medical staff hope for the best. They are wonderful at reassuring me that everything will be ok and that there will be a light at the end of this dark tunnel. I had never imaged this life and I would never want it for anyone. The blood work, needle pricks, surgical procedure, and constant monitoring, sadly becomes your new normal and just like any change in life you learn to adjust and move from one day to the next.
I met a phenomenal woman named Angela, who is a ‘survivor’ one day after an appointment with my oncologist at SCOA. I later nicknamed her ‘Angela the angel’….she has such a beautiful soul. She must have seen that look on my face the day I had to schedule yet another appointment for more tests. I was drained and still having a tough time processing the news of my new life with cancer. We sat in the lounge at SCOA talking about how cancer had impacted our lives. She had gone through the tunnel and I was just beginning the journey. She was diagnosed as triple negative and I’m triple positive.  It was refreshing to meet her and hear her story. I needed her presents more than she would ever know. We met for a play date the following weekend with her twin girls and my son…such a happy day! We let the kids run around the park while we chatted about life….exchanged stories about our different diagnostics and she shared what I needed to expect from chemo. There is no better feeling than sharing with someone that understands and can relate to how you feel and what you’re going through. She helped me get through the first two chemo cycles…laughter filled….and comfortable. We will talk more about her in later posts. In the meantime please stop by and check out her blog “Lucky Duck Hits Speed Bump,” where she documented her breast cancer experience.
I made a decision early on that I was going to fight! I prayed daily for God to provide me with all of the tools, support, and guidance to weather this storm. I wasn’t going to throw the white flag in this early in journey…. I have too much to live for. By the time I met with the nurse to discuss the chemo regimen, I was already a stronger person than I had been when I initially got the dreadful diagnosis. I wasn’t looking forward to chemo at all. I had heard mixed reviews about it doing more harm than good, creating new cancers, the debilitating side effects, and just how dangerous it was because it is a toxic drug being infused into the body that would ultimately drain the body of its resources in every way possible.
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Angela and her beautiful girls
I prepared for my first cycle by having surgery to implant the port under my skin in my chest to deliver chemotherapy to the largest blood vessel. The surgery was outpatient and lasted about 8 hours. That port itched like crazy and was so painful for the first month. I had to add a sponge piece to my seatbelt to keep it from rubbing against it when I drive my car. It left the ugliest scar and the chemo changed the pigmentation of my skin so it’s a darker shade.
 The one on one meeting with my chemo specialist ( Denise) to go over what to expect during each cycle was extremely helpful and very much needed because I had tons of questions. She reviewed the treatment regimen patiently…she was wonderful, personal able, and upbeat, which made me feel better. We went over my chosen drug options, side effects, and scheduling for each chemo cycle. My oncologist and surgeon decided that I would do chemo first to shrink the tumor, followed by surgery, radiation, and then 10 years of a daily pill called Tamoxifen…. Cancer really sucks! My chemo drugs (TCH)Taxotere, Carboplatin, and Herceptin along with a new drug recently approved about 2 years ago by the FDA for use before breast surgery called Perjeta My chemo cocktails are pretty serious. I have a combination of chemo and hormonal drugs because of my type of cancer. Each drug specifically targets the tumor in different ways. There have been so many advancements in medicine and even more benefits from continued efforts of researchers all over the world. My chemo cycles are every 3 weeks at the SCOA facility. They are very routine and closely monitored.

Chemo Cycle 1

·         Check in at 7:45
·         Lab work
·         Weight & blood pressure
·         7 hours (combination of prepping with anti nausea drugs, IV, & 4 different chemo drugs)
·         Next day Nuelasta shot
·         Follow up 1 week later with oncologist
·         Lab work
·         Weight & blood pressure
·         (repeat the same for Cycles 2-6)
How you feel following each Chemo cycle
Ø  Day 1
Nuelasta shot
Fatigue
Muscle & joint pain (Claritin helps if taken for 5 days after chemo)
Ø  Day 2
More Fatigue (rest)
Sense of taste is off (only taste salt & sweet)
Mouth sensitivity (Magic mouthwash works wonders)
Dehydration (fluids, fluids, fluids)
Diarrhea & or constipation
Blur vision (at certain times of the day)
Ø  Day 3 & 4
*The worst days
Extreme fatigue
Loss of appetite
Insomnia
Joint pain
Mouth sores
Confusion
Anxiety
Ø  Day 5
You begin to feel better J
You notice a new side effect with each chemo cycle. The first noticeable change was gradual hair loss 15 days after my first chemo infusion.  I knew it was coming, I siked myself into thinking it was no big deal but I still cried. I shed like an unkempt dog for days…hair when I woke up…hair when I showered…hair everywhere. I eventually cut it very low but in just a few days it began to come out at the roots in patches. I was losing my hair and would eventually go bald, I was losing control, and feared what this disease and chemo treatments would do to my body.  You can’t prepare for it; you just deal with it as it comes.
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Day 15 after 1st chemo cycle
I began to realize that this was pretty much my new life…on top of working full time, and being a mother to an active 5 year old. I had to learn to roll with the punches…hopefully no one has to deal with this but if you do… be prepared to go in the ring and have a few jabs thrown at you. The world doesn’t stop spinning, people continue on with their day to day lives. You miss out on all kinds of fun stuff, while you’re spending the weekend napping from complete exhaustion but you move forward.

 

 I have been blessed with the most amazing support system. My friends, family, and other supporters have made this journey more bearable. When everything seems out of control and overwhelming, they remind me to relax and take a deep breath. It is absolutely necessary to surround yourself with positive people. Living with cancer can be very lonely and depressing. You have to live beyond the disease and not let it hold you hostage. 
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Smooches!
 

The Wakeup call

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“I thought I’d never smile again.”

I remember waking up that morning, not sure of what to expect from the breast exam. I hadn’t slept much the night before; I was overwhelmed from spending much of the night tossing and turning until I fell asleep from exhaustion.

 I arrived at the women’s center and sat waiting in the mammogram room; it was brightly lit, stark white, with blank walls. The mammogram machine took up most of the room. I was kind of curious to experience the mammogram for the first time. I had heard stories about how your breasts were flattened out between the plates during the exam. How painful I thought as the built up anxiety put knots in my stomach. I was relieved when the nurse walked in and announced that due to my age, I was not a good candidate for the mammogram. They wanted to perform an ultrasound instead and for some reason I felt more relaxed, it just seemed less invasive….if only I could have warned myself of what was to come.

During the exam, I was instructed to lie on my side as the nurse performed the ultrasound. The lump was already painful but it intensified as she rolled and pressed inward with the transducer each time. I strained my neck a few times hoping to see the image on the grainy grey monitor. I’m not sure what I was expecting to see but  I was on edge just waiting to hear her assure me it was exactly what they thought it was…a ‘cyst’ but she had a  puzzled look on her face.  She said nothing, except that she was going to get the doctor. She was concerned….I could tell, and at that very moment, I knew I was in for a wakeup call.

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Once the doctor came in and introduced himself, he told me that he wanted to take a look at both breast. Up until that point the nurse had only focused on the one with the existing lump. I took a deep breath and rolled from one side to the next as he navigated around each breast with the transducer, applied more gel, and studied the monitor. The room was ice cold, the only thing warm were the steady streams of tears rolling down my cheeks. I wanted to ask him what he saw but I couldn’t talk, there was a lump in my throat. It’s as if I already knew that whatever it was, it was really bad…really really bad.
Remember that mammogram that I didn’t really qualify for in the beginning? Well know he wanted to perform one. This day was going down the tubes very fast. I walked across the hall and sat waiting for what seemed like forever until the nurse returned and performed the mammogram…it was uncomfortable and just as awful as the stories I had heard about the discomfort. My 9 AM, in and out appointment had now gone on for two hours,  finally after a needle biopsy, the doctor said in his professional opinion, he was 99% sure it was C-A-N-C-E-R.
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C-A-N-C-E-R?? …My legs began to shake uncontrollably as I sat on the exam table. He replied back “yes, it’s a cancerous tumor that’s approximately 3cm in size based on the markers.” I was weak, I felt like a truck just slammed into me at full speed, and the world began to close in on me.

I was devastated, to say the least but he pulled out the images from the mammogram and walked me through his findings…. I had planned on going to work after my appointment, obviously I couldn’t and after sitting in my car for what seemed like forever, I finally called my mother to share the news.

It’s one of those phone calls that you never want to make. I imagined that the news would be equally as terrifying for her as it was for me. She had lost her own mother to breast cancer several years ago, it was a battle that our family lost and one that I didn’t want her to have to face again. Our telephone conversation was awkward because I mainly let her talk, she was in a good mood that day. I felt guilty about telling her about my appointment. When I finally did, she remained completely silent. I waited for her to reply and when she finally did, she said “Don’t worry, stay strong, we’re going to beat this together.” My mother is a ‘rock’ and the strongest woman I know. She’s always offering advice and spends considerable time helping those less fortunate than herself. She was miles away but I could hear the fear and concern in her voice even though she remained upbeat and reassuring.
I didn’t sleep that first night and because the appointment was at the end of the week, I had to wait until the following Monday to get the results of the pathology report. Worrying about the future is only natural. When cancer stops you in your tracks, you begin to understand that worrying doesn’t make things better especially when you can’t control things. I had to think about what really mattered to me and remain faithful in God because he has the final word.
The scariest part was waiting and being alone with my thoughts. My initial fear was wondering how much time I had left with my son. As a mother you always want to be there for your kids. You give birth and watch them grow up right before your eyes. That first night I was filled with thoughts of not being there to be a part of those special moments in his life. Your dreams begin to shatter, you feel weak, and everything becomes dark, no appetite, no smile, only deep hurt and pain.
2014-07-27 19.44.47
Monday came and went, I went to work mainly because it kept me busy enough to not go off the deep end. I have the best coworkers, they have all been so supportive throughout this journey.   They kept things as ‘normal’ as possible for me because they knew my appointment had not gone well. It was an uneasy day my nerves were through the roof. I jumped every time my phone rang, in anticipation of that dreadful phone call from the doctor’s office, with the official pathology report to confirm his finding. It never came that day and as anxious as I was to find out, I never called because of fear.
The following day arrived and I went off to work as usual. My eyes were swollen because it had been a tearful night; the insomnia was insane from interrupted sleep but I made it through the day managing to squeeze out a smile here & there to help lighten the mood in the office…the day was mainly a blur. At  exactly 4:34pm Tuesday June 3rd I found out that I not only had Invasive cancer but I also had a rapidly growing and aggressive cancer….bullets…that’s how I felt…like bullets had pierced every part of my body. Thank God two my coworkers were concerned enough to come outside, which is where I ran to so that I could take the call in private. They got concerned because I didn’t come back inside. They helped me stand up, because my legs felt like they had caved in as I received the news. They even cried with me but most of all they helped me breathe when I couldn’t catch my breath. That day will continue to remind me to be thankful for everyday of life because it isn’t promised to anyone.
Love,

My Unwelcome Lumpy Visitor

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One month before diagnosis
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”.-Woody Allen
 
Towards the end of 2013 I was craving change, so I decided to push my plans to relocate south into full effect. Winter was approaching fast and I was mentally and physically drained. I felt like I was spinning around in circles and I couldn’t stop long enough to focus and catch my breath. I had my plans laid out, two years in the making for the big move. I was ready to escape the harsh winters and busy work schedule that seemed to leave me with little or no time with my son. I was two weeks away from moving when out of nowhere, this painful lump appeared. It had this sharp shooting sensation, a pinching dull pain. It seemed to balloon during my cycle and then go back down but not completely go away. How freaking annoying I thought, I had just gone for a routine pap only 2 months prior and I didn’t remember it being there,  I didn’t remember  my doctor saying anything when he performed the in office breast exam. What an inconvenience, now I had to make another appointment to have this lump checked out in the middle of packing and moving hundreds of miles away.
I reluctantly made the appointment for that same week because I was due to move the following week. I wanted to have a medical professional examine the lump. I wasn’t in the mood for bad news but after a few days of self diagnosing myself through Google (bad idea). I was ready to get the appointment over with. Finally the breast exam day arrived and everything went surprisingly smooth. The doctor did the exam and decided based on the lumps characteristics and my history of fibrocystic breasts (I had a benign lump removed in my mid twenties) she felt that it was nothing to be alarmed over.  She said something to the effect of “blah, blah, blah, you have nothing to worry about”… naturally I heard only what I wanted to hear “Nothing to worry about”.  Phew! I thought what great news, this was all I needed to hear so that I could move forward with my plans.
fibro
The relocation south was exciting because it was during the middle of the holiday season. Thanksgiving had just past, Christmas was just a few weeks away and before I saw it coming, it was a new year. I started my New Year’s resolution by joining the local gym, which I enjoyed after dropping my son off for school. Once I settled in I started my job search and landed a job shortly after the New Year. Everything seemed to be falling into place.  Except that this lump had not gone away, it hadn’t really changed in size, it was still very tender and something about it just didn’t seem right. Once I started my new job I lost track of time because it was during the middle of the company’s busiest season and I had 6 weeks of training.  I just didn’t have time to go for that follow up appointment. I needed to do so much but the days turned into weeks and before I knew it, it was a new month.
Once things started to die down I began scheduling appointments for my son first. I was grateful for the job because the new health care market place was a mess to navigate. I had spent 14 years with a company that provided various health insurance options so it was over whelming to figure it out for myself. It was now time to schedule another wellness follow up for myself. I was really good at going for my wellness visits.  This time I was more prepared and I had questions for the doctor. After performing the exam I started with my list of questions and then she said something at the end that hadn’t really dawned on me before, “everything appears fine but I don’t have x-ray vision”. Suddenly a light bulb went off in my head, had I dismissed the fact that no ultrasound or mammogram had been performed at the last visit? Why was the previous doctor so certain that this lump wasn’t cancer? Suddenly a sense of urgency came over me. This time I requested to have the mammogram performed for later that week. While I was nervous about the appointment, I was anxious to find out more about my unwelcome lumpy visitor.
Love,

 

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