End of Summer Blues

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Hi there! I know your probably wondering, where the hell has she been? LOL…covers face…unable to give a good reason for not blogging in such a long time. The months have seriously flown by and I can’t believe summer is coming to an end. I’ve been busy just living, I’m learning every day that I have to make my health and happiness a priority. I use to be busy doing everything except taking time out to be still. At times I lose track of me because I work full time, I’m a single parent, and I’m trying to juggle multiple things in my life. I start having insomnia, my body starts aching, I gain weight, and I feel overwhelmed doing the smallest task.

When I start feeling that way, I know I have to slow down and make some adjustments. I decided to take a much needed vacation, to celebrate my birthday in lovely Miami Beach. I was able to stop in and spend quality time with family while I was in Florida. I also started back at the gym, changed my diet, and I avoided social media of any kind. I find social media to be so addictive. There is a lot going on in the world, everyone has live videos, I would find myself up really late reading about something or watching one video clip after another. Then I would get up the next day and feel like crap because I got less than five hours of sleep.

I’m so happy that the Olympics is over. I stayed up late every night watching my favorite athletes compete. Now my son is back in school, which means more to keep up with every day. I’ve been wanting to blog but I’m either exhausted or just feeling blah! I’ve been letting my hair grow back because I want to try styles that need a little more length but boy has it been a fight, I’m tempted to cut all my hair off but for know I’ll be trying some really cool protective styles.

 

 

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I got this dress as a gift. Zara has always been one of my favorite retailers. I love the soft brushed denim feel. The dress is roomy and the neckline is adorable. This outfit is more of my day to day summer wardrobe. I enjoy dresses that are comfortable and practical for my lifestyle. I’m looking forward to trying out new trends for the fall, it will also be nice to change up the wardrobe a bit. What trends are you looking forward to for Fall/winter 2016?

Please enjoy the pictures & thank you!

 

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Dress: Zara, see similar here

Choker: Zara

Love,

 

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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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Pink Cardigan & White Ripped Jeans

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After putting on those few extra pounds, I’ve decided to change up my wardrobe a little. I’ve always been a fan of fitted clothing but lately it seems to hug me in all the wrong places. I think once I shed the weight, I’ll feel more comfortable wearing certain styles. Until then I want my clothing to flow and compliment my curves.
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Women always want to feel sexy and pretty no matter the age or the circumstance. There are two breast cancer survivors that I follow on social media, Bold & Breastless and the other Prayers for Paulette 8 Children primarily because I can relate to them. I think they both show what true beauty means after cancer attacks your body. I love that they are using their personal testimonies to advocate for change and bring awareness to the harsh realities of the disease. When I considered getting back to blogging, I shot myself down every time because I knew I wouldn’t look or feel the same. I can remember days when I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I was fatigue all the time and I went through periods of depression. Basically I was a mess but seeing them fight the disease, raise their kids and maintain optimistic attitudes made them even more appealing. I thought if they could do it then so can I.

 

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I want to do things I enjoy for as long as possible or until my body says otherwise. My advice to anyone facing chronic or terminal illness would be to “live the best possible life you can live with no regrets.” I believe in starting by eliminating the things that don’t bring you happiness. Then change the way you treat yourself. Always love yourself, forgive yourself, and listen to what makes your heart smile. Don’t wait for anyone to give you what your lacking, make it happen for yourself.

 

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Please check out my video, I watched it over and over again…cracked myself up but I’m really proud of myself for giving it a shot. Who knows maybe I might make more!

 

 

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Jeans: JCPenny

Shoe: By Anna: JCPenny

Cardigan: Similar Here

Blouse: TJMaxx/similar Here

 

 

Love & Happiness

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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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1st OOTD 2015: Ankara Skirt

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What’s it like to feel alive?  It’s like dancing to the beat of your own drum….Making No apologies for who you are…. Feeling calm during a storm…. Being at peace in your heart…. No holding back…. Loving freely and doing ALL the things you have always wanted to do!!
 
 
 
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Hi Guys…it’s a new year already and I haven’t done an outfit of the day (OOTD) post since October 2013….My, my, my how time flies. I had taken a break from blogging when I relocated, then got diagnosed with breast cancer and…well… you know the rest. I start my 6 week radiation treatments this week and I still have monthly appointments for Herceptin therapy but I’m feeling really good about life.  I now see the more optimistic side of things…the glass half full instead of half empty theory. I will be doing external beam radiation to the chest wall on the effected right side. I wasn’t able to undergo immediate reconstruction because of the need to radiate that area. My oncologist and radiologist both felt that the expanders would interfere with treatment and may possibly create more discomfort for me if they were put in place.  It may be another 6-9 months before I can even entertain the idea of reconstruction because of the damage that radiation does to the skin. Any who… I’m not sweating it, it’s kind of nice not to wear a bra because they are really uncomfortable anyways. Besides what’s there to complain about?…I’m alive and well!
 
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I found this Ankara print skirt while surfing Etsy for Christmas gifts. Naturally I had to buy myself something 😉 The shop name is RegalClothes and I absolutely LOVE the quality of the skirt. The stitch work, accuracy of the sizing, and service were impeccable…Check them out, they have wonderful merchandise. I hope you enjoy the pictures & thanks for stopping by! 
Xo
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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

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,

 

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.
chemogirl
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.
day15
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!
 
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