Moving on to Tomorrow

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It’s just hours before we begin a new year and I wanted to THANK all of you for taking this journey with me. Sure it’s been a rough year but I feel so LOVED!  I’ve opened up and revealed more than I ever thought I would to such a large audience of people, some of whom I have never met. I don’t know if sharing my story has made a difference for all of you but I know for sure it has touched some of you. I know that someone has gotten a mammogram, done a self breast exam or followed through with making an appointment to take care of their health in general and that says a lot. THANK YOU all for making this year less of a roller coaster ride, I couldn’t be more grateful for the support.
My New Year Goal is to continue the fight against ‘cancer’ even while it’s in remission it’s important to never take your health for granted. I’ll be doing everything in my power to stay as healthy as possible. I already feel STRONGER than ever, more determined and accomplished.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you in advance!
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XOXO
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Beautiful Scars

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“Turning the marks of our pain into beautiful scars.” –Song lyrics by Steven C. Chapman

Look who has hair!!! It’s baby soft and a completely different texture from what I had before. Guess we’ll see how long it lasts. It’s growing back right on time because it is quite chilly in the south.  

I’ve completed surgery for my bilateral mastectomy, I’m healing fairly well and looking forward to the joy the holiday season brings. Thank you all for checking in on me, you guys are amazing and I appreciate the LOVE! I’ve surprised myself with the level of calm I’ve had with removing both breasts, I actually felt more emotion over losing my hair than my breast…shocking…I know. Especially since the physical and emotional scars are adding up. I don’t know that I’ve ever considered any of my scars beautiful but lately I’ve come to see them in a different light. My scars are a testimony to my journey, they tell a story about a woman who refused to give in to cancer. I think this disease has forced me to see another side of myself, a stronger, kick-ass side, that I can’t really explain but I’m happy I discovered it because fighting cancer is no walk in the park.

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The days leading up to surgery were intense. It was kind of like when I was pregnant with my son. A few days before giving birth, I had that ‘nesting’ feeling. I had so much anxiety, I cleaned and prepared for every little possible hiccup. The only obvious difference was his birth was joyous…mastectomies are NOT. My mother naturally cleared her schedule to be with me for surgery and I instantly felt relieved. It also helped that I’ve stopped working until I’ve fully recovered from surgery. I was able to focus on healing for once, besides it’s not like I could drive myself to the office anyways. I had the canon ball drains and wires hanging all over my body. I felt like a puppet and could not wait to have them removed. It was difficult to sleep and so freaking uncomfortable with the drains in. I left the hospital the day following my surgery. I had to get clearance from both the surgeon and oncologist. I thought I was going to be in so much pain but I wasn’t and I wanted to go home. I’ll admit that I didn’t feel like dancing but I haven’t needed the pain meds the surgeon prescribed. At one point, after surgery, I experienced a brief black out, after feeling a little light headed. I fell, luckily didn’t hit my head on anything, regained consciousness and had to go to the emergency room just to make sure nothing more serious wasn’t going on inside my body. It turned out to be nothing serious but made me realize just how fragile this disease had made me. It’s of course the holiday season, I want to decorate and be festive but I had to be extra cautious with the drains, they made me feel so old. It was a good thing its cold outside so I could wear layers to disguise them when I have to head out to take care of errands. I have not gotten use to being home all day, I’ve worked so much over the years, I’m not sure how to just slow down… sooooo I’m working from home, which keeps me busy. After about two weeks following surgery I was finally able to drive my car. I’m still restricted by the amount of physical activity I can do but I’m happy to be out and about on my own again.

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After I heal from surgery, I’ll have to undergo radiation and then more surgery for reconstruction. I have so much respect for the many women who have lived with cancer for years and continue to fight this disease every day. Thank God for providing me with such an amazing support system! My mother has made so many trips back and forth from Connecticut to S. Carolina to be there for me and I love her so much for it! She’s a rock, my rock. The days when I feel weak, she provides a level of strength that can only be admired…I’m beyond grateful to have her in my life.

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Nurse Navigator “Dottie” she’s amazing!
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My drains

I almost forgot to mention that the day before surgery, I got a call from my surgeon’s office telling me that my insurance would not cover a bilateral surgery. They were only willing to pay for a unilateral mastectomy. The unaffected breast that I opted to have removed is considered healthy so they didn’t feel it was necessary to remove it. I understood that removing it doesn’t extend my life, it doesn’t even prevent a recurrence, so why remove it? I considered it ‘preventative’ it had so much calcification in it. I also never did genetic testing so I don’t know for sure if  I have the BRCA gene but it’s one less thing I want to be monitored for or worry about each time they run scans. Plus someone wanted to raise my blood pressure because why else would I be getting that kind of update the day before major surgery. Let’s just say I politely gave a few people a piece of my mind. I had to pay out of pocket for the other breast to be removed as well. Most people don’t just get in line to remove their boobies unless they’re hoping to avoid the miserable routine mammograms and testing that would be recommended if I kept the so called healthy breast.

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feeling more & more like the old me 😉
I don’t know that anyone can ever prepare themselves emotionally for a roller coaster ride like the one I’ve been on these past 7 months. I think back to last year around this time, I was preparing to start another chapter in my life by relocating. I was so excited and ready for change. If only we had crystal balls, that alerted us about future bumps in the road. I would have ‘detoured’ or chosen an alternate route because CANCER SUCKS!! It robs us of so much and when you think you’re in the clear, it can come back with a vengeance!!  I’ve remained optimistic despite the over whelming urge to break down and cry. It’s hard to make anyone understand my pain. The sad truth is many people will die and it’s heart breaking to think that so many lives will be destroyed by the disease. We need a cure, research has come a long way but there is still a lot of ground to cover.
I hope you all are having a great time with family and friends…be thankful…love and cherish each other 😉
XOXO

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,

 

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.
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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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