Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stained Glass

I have created a second blog that focuses on things other than breast cancer. Please feel free to read and comment

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roid rage!!! Ahhhhhh

Ok, not quite... More like Roid restlessness. With radiation came a daily dose of steroids to keep the inflammation at bay since the spot of cancer is so small. As I learned last year, decadron is the anti-sleep medicine. I'm so bored. It's 2:46 and I have been up for two hours...I wish I knew were my crocheting stuff is at. Maybe I should run to walgreens and get the pink hair spray I want for Halloween. They are open 24 hours. Nah, only the weirdos go out this late.

Seriously, why do people do steroids in purpose?

Well, tomorrow should be a fun day at work. Hopefully the GES peeps keep the drama to a minimum.

Me and the beam

Today was radiation #1 of 5. It felt like a family reunion. I had grown to love the people who work at Dr. Sim’s office.  I saw them every day for 6 weeks when I went through this crap last time. We got to chat and know each other. When I went in for my consult this time, they were happy, yet sad to see me. Happy because I think they found me to be a fun patient, sad because they knew why I was there. One funny point was the fact that when they came out looking for me, they all had to do a double take because they didn’t recognize me. Not one of them had ever seen me with hair!
Perhaps one day, I will visit them with no evidence of disease and just be able to say hi. How wonderful it would be to not have to have them do anything to me.
Today, as I walked back in to start my treatment, it felt strangely comforting. It almost felt like I was coming back home. Even being in the treatment machine felt comforting. I assume there are a few reasons for this. First, my memories of treatment there are positive because the people were so wonderful to me. One of my techs was the first person to see me after I learned Mom was diagnosed, so she hugged me while I cried. They celebrated with me when I finished my treatment. Second, there is always an empowering feeling when I am doing something proactive to fight cancer back. It makes me happy to be doing something to combat it. A coworker of mine was laughing at me because she noticed how happy I was today. It’s all because I have a need to feel like I am doing something to fix this crap.
And so treatment 1 is over… I like to believe that I have slightly less cancer in my body now than I did when I woke up this morning.
Prayers are always appreciated. I would ask that God continue to show me mercy and allow the cancer to melt away.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

So we meet again cancer...

A month ago, my greatest fear became a reality. The cancer was back. It took up residence in the form of a small spot on my spine. I am not going to lie. That fact really pisses me off. This stupid disease doesn’t deserve a second chance, but it got one anyway. Well, that makes me a “chronic cancer patient”. Such crap! Oh well. Now I just have to deal. The good news is, I get access to medication that I wanted but wasn’t qualified to have previously. It also means that I get scanned every three months for the rest of eternity. The good news there is that should some sneaky little cells try to stir up trouble somewhere else, we should be able to nip them in the bud quickly. This is not where I wanted my life to go, but I don’t get to choose my path. I just choose what I do along the journey.

Being me, of course, I decided that I just would have to work on a second book. It’s already in the works… But it will take time for me to write as I have just dipped my toe into the stage 4 pool, and have much more to learn and experience before I have enough worth sharing.

I think I have accepted this new development. With the help of Big Pharma, I am able to manage the anxiety reasonably well, and am starting to enjoy my world again. So here’s how I am choosing to look at this. I have many, many blessing in my life. At this point, I have only one curse. That stupid little tumor hanging out on the L2 of my spine. I don’t think that the squeaky wheel should get all the attention. So rather than focus on the 1 centimeter of crap hanging out in my body, I am going to focus on the other 5’ 3+” inches of me. I realize that cancer is going to tag along for the rest of the ride… But that doesn’t mean it gets to sit in the front seat. I’m still sitting behind the wheel. I have decided to let the doctors can work on and manage the cancer. I will work on enjoying the blessings in my life, and keeping the rest of my body healthy.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I'm back!

...Back in the writing groove!

So the book was finally published... I could not be anymore proud of it. It's honest and it reflects the gamut of early stage breast cancer: the fearful and the funny. To me, it is a work of beauty, a butterfly's tail, and the labor of love. Initial reactions were what I had hoped. People are finding it gives them a true look into the life of breast cancer. That was the goal.

If you would like to purchase the book, it is available at the link below. There is also a kindle version for all you techies out there.

I also am honored to be Coping with Cancer Magazine's survivor of the week. I wrote this article in honor of a dear sister survivor who always seeks opportunities to do new things in life, simply because she is here and she can. She inspires me.

Despite the bumps in the road, I strive to keep my head up. My blessings out weigh my challenges. My joy outweighs my sorrow. I am blessed.

Stay tuned as there will be more posts in the coming weeks. Thank you for all of the love, support and prayers. I always need them. Theys sustain me.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Oh happy day, and the journey continues.

 Today mom finished her treatment! What a wonderful, wonderful milestone. Two of us have managed to get through some pretty intense stuff, and for that I am incredibly proud! 3 surgeries, 24 chemo infusions, 12 neulasta shots, and 43 doses of radiation to date.
Of course, we are learning that as wonderful as it is, the journey doesn’t end the last day of treatment. There were some abnormalities in my most recent bloodwork. While these abnormalities can be caused by other things, nothing strikes fear in the heart of a cancer survivor than hearing something isn’t normal. So I am going to have scans in the near future. We are waiting on the results of some blood work to see where if my kidney infection has cleared up, and then we will go from there.

I know the blog gets a lot more traffic than it used to, (which is actually a good thing because it means things have been calm of late) but I will gladly welcome prayers from anyone who has them. Specifically, that today concludes the end of active treatment for both of us, and that the upcoming scans bring good news.

Monday, August 13, 2012


It has been a while since I have written a post. Althought truth be told, my writing has continued during a seemingly black out period, just in a different medium (or two). The well of words has yet to run dry, so I needed to find a new vessel to hold them. That's not to say that blogging hasn't been a wonderful experience. By all means, it has. But I wanted to do more.

In the last few months, I have gotten several projects under way. They are all now in varying stages. The first, which is complete and will be published in Copin with Cancer magazine in a few months is an article called "a cancer survivor can..." The second is the spawn of the early stages of this blog: pink lemonade which is a book about my experience with breast cancer and tips for future survivors. The third came as a result of much encouragement from several people. It's a collection of devotionals. If you are not familiar with that format, it's a faith focused style of writing that takes bible verses and reflects on how to apply them in everyday life. It has been a particularly exciting project for me. And last but not least, is a one-act play called "family history". The first draft of that is complete and is in the capable hands of my discerning editor, also known as my big brother Frank. With any luck, we may just be fortunate enough to see my words brought to life in Chatham next summer. Fingers crossed that the selection committee deems it worthy!

So let's recap: 1 article, 2 books currently totally about 95 pages worth, and a one-act play.

Certainly is a lot of words huh? Poor Steve, sadly for him, my writing doesn't mean I am any less chatty.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Robin Roberts

I had the tv on in the background today, and Robin Roberts graced the screen. Just a few days after going public with the news that she is now facing pre-leukemia as a complication from her breast cancer treatment, she is nothing short of vibrant! If you didn't know her story, you would never know what she was facing. She simply is amazing and inspirational. I pray that God gives her what she needs to beat cancer again!

When Mary J Blige complimented her on being a pillar of strength, she brushed it off and said "hey like my mom says, everyone has something they have to deal with" and she continued on. She was smiling and energetic... That shows the strength and grace that we all wish we could have. I imagine she must have such internal struggles. She spoke about the fear and emotions earlier in the week, and then spoke of faith and gratitude! She's got exactly the attitude I aspire to.

Robin, please keep being amazing. You have no idea how awesome you are to someone one like me. I will keep you in my prayers. The world needs more positive role models like you! Thank you for sharing your story.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A survivor can...

A year ago at this moment, I was settling into my new life. The cancer had been removed, and I was adjusting to my changed body, newly released from the hospital post surgery. Seems appropriate to reflect on a change in my mentality since that time.
I remember thinking when I was diagnosed with cancer that my life was irrevokably changed. I was right. But not in ways that I would have expected. My future felt limited. In time, I understood that it wasn't. I thought that being a cancer survivor was something to be afraid of or sad about. Rather I realized it was something to be proud of. I learned early on in my survivorship that there is indeed hope in cancer: hope for a cure, and hope for making the world a better place.
I was curious to learn what cancer survivors can do, so I did a little research. Here's is what I found out. A cancer survivor can become a professional athlete. A survivor can make their dreams into a reality. They can run marathons and win races. Cancer survivors can hold political offices. Cancer survivors can climb Mount Everest. They can hike the Grand Canyon, jump out of planes and go ziplining. They can compete in the Olympics. They go on to have families. A cancer survivor can earn a degree or shape young minds. Cancer survivors can win Grammys, Oscars, and Emmys. They can write New York Times best sellers. They win Nobel prizes. A cancer survivor can serve on the US Supreme Court. A survivor can beat cancer more than once. A survivor can treat and cure other survivors. They can run into burning buildings and save lives. They can run Fortune 500 companies, and invent technology that changes lives. They can help others. They can spread awareness. A cancer survivor can raise millions for a cure or touch the life of just one other person.
A cancer survivor can find meaning and beauty even in dark times.

A cancer survivor can go on to live a more fullfilling life than perhaps if they were never diagnosed.
A cancer survivor can (and often does) make a difference in this world.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I know several of my recent posts have reflected on where I was a year ago. The comparison between this year and last year is striking. Last may I focused on preparing for a double mastectomy. Today, I participated in the spring lake 5 mile race. A year ago, I never would have found this possible. Today, it was more than possible, it was a reality. 5 miles was no joke! Especially on a morning as hot and humid as today. But I kept thinking to myself that I was able to get through chemo, I could surely keep going. And I did. I reminded myself how blessed i was to physically be able to participate. My health and well being is no longer something I take for granted. With the support of my wonderful and patient sister in law Eileen, I pushed on and made it happen! I sobbed when I crossed the finish line. The thought of what I had been through in the past 12 months, and the knowledge of how far I have come overwhelmed me. Here's the morale of my story today: we Can all overcome adversity an hard times with determination. Sometimes in life all we can do is keep our head up and keep moving forward no matter how daunting the road ahead may seem. Today, I felt the meaning of start strong, finish stronger.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life's little detours

It's so funny how when we are younger, we think we have life all figured out. At various points, we set a course and assume that we know where we are headed. But as we sail out, inevitably we will hit choppy waters or a bump in the road. And the plans we had get ditched and we need to find a new way. Often, these detours take us to completely unfamiliar roads, which can be just plain frightening, but perhaps all along these roads were part of our fate and we just didn't know it. I guess the point of living life is to see how the story unfolds. If it were all Preplanned, what would be the point of living it? The story would be predictable, safe and potentially boring. Sometimes these detours open doors and push us to reach potentials we didn't know existed within ourselves. I didn't know I had a writer trapped inside of me. I didn't know that I could be an advocate or a source of hoPe and comfort to cancer patients. I just didn't know that was part of me. Now, because of the detour my life has taken, I have found even more of myself that I didn't know existed. So sometimes change is a good thing. And sometimes opportunity finds it was to crash into us when we ignore it. It seems rude, but really sometimes it's all for the best.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sweet Caroline

This post is being brought to you from the gym so excuse any tyPos. while on the rowing machine his morning, sweet Caroline came on my iPhone. As most of you know this song has long held a special place of honor in my family reminding us of my grandma Carrie. It made me think of her and smile. Then it's my eyes got misty, I said a prayer to her to guide me. She had been diagnosed wih high blood pressure and I don't know anyone who was More diligent to taking responsibility for her own health. I still admire that and aspire to it. She walked several miles daily, went to church every day, and avoided sodium like the plague. Gid love he she lived a long full and beautiful life. Grandma, may i take mY responsibilities to my body and spirit as seriously as you did. Miss you and love you

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

God is good

I was blessed with wonderful news yesterday. the scans came back showing no signs of disease in my spine! the back pain has been caused by a couple of bulging discs in my spine... No big deal! I cannot tell you what a relief it was to have a run of the mill health issue rather than something cancer related. It's funny because while on the phone with the doctor's office, and everyone else, the question was what am I going to do about the disc issue. To be honest, I didn't even care. I am fine with the pain as long as it is not a sign of metastatic disease! Who cares... Nothing a little motrin and yoga can't fix...

I pray that God keeps me healthy. As always, I will work like it's up to me, but continue to pray like it is up to him.

I will continue to do whatever the guidelines ask of me. Take my tamoxifen daily, exercise more than 150 minutes per week (which is proving to be easier than I thought), continue to lose weight, keep my alcohol consumption down (although there is a bottle of verdi waiting in the fridge for Steve and I to celebrate). I also will continue my prayerful life.

Onward and Upward! At this moment, I know that my spine is healthy (bulging discs aside). Given that, the sky is the limit.

If you will be joining us on June 3rd at the walk, please do sign up. As this is the first time the CSC is hosting a walk, they are trying to estimate the turn out, and I hope we are light as of today. I am only showing 16 walkers on Angels (although I do know this number will be changing today because I am about to sign up some people who will be joining). I would love for you to share this day with me, but certainly understand that some folks have other commitments that day. No worries. I am hoping this is the first of an awesome annual event.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Prayers please

I have my first set of post treatment scans today. The doc ordered them because I have had some back pain. So today I have a bone scan and a cat scan of my lower back. Please pray that it is nothing cancer related. It's in God's hands at this point.

Friday, May 4, 2012

From where I once was...

I lived a good life prior to May 4th of last year. I was content, ordinary and was cruising along. Life was comfortable, happy. Then came a moment that threw me for a loop. We all know what that was. My world changed with the ringing of the phone, I was slammed violently into a reality that I wanted no part of. But we don't always get a choice. There was nothing I could do but walk the path laid out before me.  

On May 5th, I wrote my very first blog. Before that day, I had no inclination of writing anything. But the words came. They flowed through me like water over rocks in a stream, seemingly random yet rhythmic. They made sense in the given moment, and so I shared them. Words were a gift that came to me as part of the package deal of my illness. I am blessed to have shared my experience and my heart is warmed every time I hear from someone who has been touched by what I have written. As time went on, I found that this gift spread even to people I don't know, especially after my words were printed in Reader's Digest. I have gotten the most amazing response from people. It's so beautiful for me to witness.  

I can't say I am glad that I went through cancer, but I can say I am grateful for the experiences that I have had as a result of it. I have spent quality time with my family. I think it has also helped my family to grow stronger and closer. I feel we collectively have a new appreciation for life and one another. I can say with confidence that the good times are a little sweeter to me. My child's smile is even a little brighter. I have never felt more loved than I did since my diagnosis. It's a rare glimpse that people don't often get. Most people don't often get the opportunity to learn what they mean to others. I have been given that gift, and it's amazing.

It is impossible to go through cancer unaffected. For me, I choose to focus on the upsides.I weathered all of my treatment protocol. I worked through much of it. I have helped others, and I have been published in two magazines.  Today, I am stronger, a bit smarter, a little more appreciative of life and my health, still full of faith, and feeling even more blessed than I was a year ago.

So what will I do to honor this day? I will live my life because I can. I will go to work. I will participate in my company's chili cookoff. I will go walk the boards with my boys (pending any thunderstorms). I will do my best to reclaim my life. I do not know what lies ahead. I do not know if cancer will rear its ugly head again. But for one day, it will not matter. You all recall my first blog post, the one that ended up in Reader's Digest? I stated that one day I would be a cancer survivor. Well guess what? I am one, and I am damn proud!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A prayer request for a young girl battling leukemia...

My cousin Danielle goes to St Joe's in Philly. She reached out to me last night with a prayer request. I hope that I can help by sharing this with you. I am not sure that my blog has quite the following that it did at one time now that I am out of treatment, but I figure if I can get a couple of more people to offer up some prayers, that's always a good thing!

Here's the story: Casey Doolin is a senior at SJU and was diagnosed with Leukemia over spring break, so maybe two months ago, and it apparently was the most treatable kinds. She started treatment 4 days after the diagnosis. She did about a month of chemo and they tested her blood and it showed that there weren't cancer cells, then when they check again two weeks later, 50% of her blood contained the cancer cells. (I think that's the correct explanation...?) She is home now and they want to increase the intensity of the treatment but do fewer treatments, hoping to do better this time.

Her brother is in Danielle's class and was on her spring break Appalachia trip last year and is being tested to see if he is a match for a bone marrow transplant for her. They had a mass for her a month ago at SJU and had a Relay for Life team for her, its amazing the support the school has shown.

Think about it. Most people in their spring semester of their Senior year are thinking about where they will be working or going to grad school. This girl's life was interrupted by cancer! She isn't being robbed of what should be an exciting time in her life. Please pray that she does well with this treatment, and that her brother is a match so she can get a bone marrow transplant. Please keep her family in your prayers as this must be a heart wrenching time for them. Her parents should be preparing to celebrate her graduation, but yet, instead they have to watch her go through treatments. It must be simply heartbreaking.

Life is pretty crazy sometimes. and I pray that it gets better for Casey. Thanks for taking the time to read this and for keeping her close in your thoughts and prayers as she battles her way through leukemia.

The calm before the storm

A year ago today, I was blissfully unaware of the storm that was brewing. I went to work. I figured everything was normal. We went to the park after dinner and I watched Steven run around. Our world was unaffected, our life was happy, I was healthy, at least as far as I knew.

I was vaguely nervous about the mammogram the following day, but truth be told, the thought of actually having breast cancer never really crossed my mind. I was more concerned about having to get my first mammogram. I remember hearing jokes about how painful they were, and that to prep for them, you could lay on the garage floor and slam the garage door down on your boobs. Things like that. I expected I would go, get the test done, and go home. I couldn't fathom what was about to happen.

I guess you could call it the calm before the storm. I guess you could say it was the perfect case of "ignorance is bliss". I guess no one ever expects to be struck by lightning, but it happens. It's been just about a year and I haven't woken up yet, so I guess it is all real. I had often hoped it was just a bad dream. I often longed for the simplicity of the night before my appointment: to live without any major fear, to feel normal and calm. I miss those days.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Reframing monday

Of course, not many people love Mondays. Myself included. I have that usual feeling of wishing the weekend was longer, not wanting to get up and out of bed. But then I thought for a moment. I am lucky. I am well enough to get up and go. It wasn't so long ago that I was on disability. It wasn't do long ago that there were days that I couldn't stand long enough to make a pot of macaroni. Now, I am well enough and blessed to still have a job. So I'm not going to whine that it's Monday. I'm going to celebrate the blessings in my Monday. I started To up my commitment to exercise last week. My goal is to meet the ACS guidelines of 150 minutes per week. I exceeded that goal and and 240 minutes! I'm proud of that. I will hit the gym again today at lunch and have every reason to believe I will hit my goal again this week. Taxol two for mom today. She definitely is having a better experience with this drug. Please keep the payers coming!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I'm alive, and well...

"And today you know that's good enough for me. Breathing in and out's a blessing can't you see..." (2 bucks to the person who names that artist).

I will refrain from Verizon bashing since they changed their minds on denying Steve his vacation time. Now we have something wonderful to look forward to in the near future... I can't wait to be out on the open sea breathing in the caribbean air. ahhhh

The American Cancer Society announced new recommendations on diet and exercise today based on additional research. No shock that they are recommending more exercise and fruits and veggies as a way to improve survival rates. Here's the article

As such, In addition to my morning trip to the gym with my treadmill buddy Jami, after we had dinner and managed through the latest fun of potty training (We are 98.5% of the way there only one accident in two weeks... of course, it happened to be today), I went out for a jog. 150 minutes per week of exercise is going to be a challenge, but it's an investment in my future. 

My goal is to really shoot for that. I've hit 90 for this week which isn't terrible. I should be able to get the rest in by the weekend's end.

Here's the deal peeps. I am going to keep kicking cancer's ass... I am not going to let it come back. I am still fighting like a girl to keep it far far away from my house. I take this seriously, and I am determined. I am grateful for the life I live. I love my family (my little one and my humongous one) (by this I mean my little family - me, Steve and Steven and my humongous family, my 86 thousand awesome cousins... Not my little steven and humongous steve... I was not calling you fat!) . I love where I live. I (mostly) love my job. I love my Mary Kay business. I love life. I am going to get more and more of it. 

My scans are coming up too. I am praying for good results. Oh that reminds me, I need to call and find out how my tumor markers and vitamin d levels came out. I know I say this a lot, but please keep me in your prayers. I am not cured of cancer... I just treated it really harshly and am hoping and praying that it never returns. In the meantime, I will do my best, but being a woman of faith, I want to keep nudging God so he remembers to keep me well. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The illusion of security

I know what pisses me off the most about cancer... The lack of control. I really didn't consider myself to be too much of a control freak. Although, of course, I had my moments where I wanted to be in control of everything in life. But I don't think I was obsessive about it and it certainly wasn't all the time.

However, the loss of control was a huge blow for me when I got cancer. I thought I had more say about my health than I actually did. I thought I had more ability to steer my life boat so to speak. I thought that I was doing good things for my health, and was hopefully destined for longevity. I lived in and loved that dilusion. I loved the thought that I had control over my body.

I had a conversation with someone at CSC recently about this topic. She pointed out to me that really, none of us have total control over what happens to us, anyone could get stuck by lightning tomorrow. I know that and have heard that many times, and probably have even said it myself. She said that even though it feels like I now have lost that control, I never really had it to begin with. But it comes down to that "illusion of security" that a friend of mine once explained to me. He told me that computer systems are never really secure. There are all these programs that create an illusion of security, but if someone really wanted to they could hack into most systems. Not very comforting. But I suppose it's true.

The same applies to cancer. There is nothing that guarantees us a cancer-free existance. I never smoked. I exercised several times a week. I was a veggie pusher (just ask Steve). I didn't drink excessively. I created the illusion of security against cancer for myself. I believed in that illusion. So when it came crashing down a year ago, nothing made sense. In some ways, it still doesn't really make much sense. It's just life.

But despite this, I still work very hard. Hitting the gym multiple times a week, sometimes even twice in the same day. I am getting my fruits and veggies in and try to do a vegetarian day or two a week. I take every vitamin I am told to take. I took every possible aggressive treatment offered. Perhaps it's my desire to regain the control I lost. Perhaps it's because I want to be able to rest easy knowing that I have done everything I can to prevent recurrance and spread, and now whatever happens is up to the Big Guy upstairs. It's the old "work like it's up to me, and pray like it's up to Him" approach. At this point, that's the best I can do.

I get tired sometimes, emotionally tired. Tired of thinking about cancer. Tired of being scared. Tired of working on how to be extra positive to overcompensate for the damage that cancer did to me emotionally. Tired of balancing my normal desire to plan my life and my fear of what if.

I know this post is not my usually upbeat type of post. But the purpose of the blog was not to wax poetic on the beauty of cancer all the time. The purpose was to share my genuine feelings, unapologetically (although sometimes I do apologize when I'm being a debbie downer).

On another note, please continue your prayers for mom. She started taxol yesterday. She's doing well, God love her. Please continue to pray for me as my journey continues. Also, a special prayer request, I have a friend who has had enough strife in her life who is going for a biopsy this friday. Please pray that she gets good results and that it is not breast cancer.


Monday, April 23, 2012

we laughed.

So, Dr Waintraub wants me to go for a few tests. One of which was suppsoed to be an MRI. So we scheduled it... Then I got a call today from one of the nurses saying that I can't get one because tissue expanders have metal in them and since MRIs are driven by magnets, it could "pull" them.

That lead to a lovely mental picture... I'll leave you to enjoy that laugh too.


Today I was back in the 4th floor infusion suite at the John Theurer Cancer Center. This time, I sat in the visitor's chair, as Mom took her first round of Taxol. The good news is, AC is done! Hurray! Let's hope we don't experience the likes of that ever again in this family. Walking around the suite was nothing short of surreal. The sounds brought so much of it back. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here to sit next to Mom as she did so many times for me. I can never repay all that she did, but perhaps if I can give back a little, that would be good.

Yet it's weird. I think some of the nurses recognize me, although I look a little different than I did. Walking around and not being the patient is a pretty strange feeling for me. It's nice on one hand, but it's sad on the other because of course, now I watch Mom go through the same things I did. That part really sucks. No family should have to go through any of this, nevermind twice. I could tell when the Benedryl IV was kicking in for her. I remember that feeling very well. She hit the point where she just needed to rest. She was nicer than I was about it. The first time it happened to me, I told poor Steve "ok, stop talking, I'm tired" and passed out.

My appointment with Dr Waintraub went ok. He would like to do some scans soon which I think will be good. I am praying they bring good news which will be a huge weight off my shoulders. Unfortunately, my surgeon got busy and that appointment got pushed, but that's cosmetic stuff, so it's not a huge deal. When that gets done, it gets done.

Sometimes this all feels like a very strange dream. It treads that fine line between making perfect sense and making no sense at all.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It was almost a year ago that I met with my doctor and she told me she was going to send me for a bilateral mammogram because of the lump that I found. She told me not to worry, but that she wanted to be sure. Looking back, I was a different person then. I was optimistic and had very little fear. I was convinced that this was my foray into the world of benign issues. It's interesting to go back and look at where things were at that time. We were planning on moving forward on the addition to the house. Rick and Courtney's wedding had just passed and they had just returned from their honeymoon. Work was busy but moving along nicely. We were considering having a second child. In fact, when I told my boss that I had the doc appointment, I said "not pregnant, don't worry". We were planning a Disney trip for november. I was excited about several Mary Kay parties I had scheduled. It's so strange how quickly life turned on a dime.
In an instant, life changed. We no longer needed the addition because instead of pregnancy visits to the doctor, it turned into oncology visits. My career got somewhat derailed temporarily. The Mary Kay parties were scrapped. Poor Courtney went from new family member to medical consultant in the blink of an eye. I probably single-handedly killed their "honeymoon phase". The Disney trip got cancelled. Essentially, all of the plans we had in place were for naught. Life wasn't going in that direction. Rudely, cancer shoved me onto a different path. Catastrophe struck!
Next week I go to see Dr Waintraub and Dr Cohen for my follow up appointments. I am assuming there will be a need for scans sometime soon. I will start to make plans for my exchange surgery which is the next step in my reconstruction. I have to admit that planning things are very difficult for me now. Call it post-traumatic stress, but it is very scary to think long term about what comes next in life for me. It's like there is this veil that hangs in front of my future. It will only lift as I get through the next phase of appointments. I feel like I can't look far beyond the next time I see my doctor or the next time. I feel like I need him to tell me it is ok to look forward. I know that people say think positive, and I have tradiationally been an optimistic person... But what you don't realize is the impact that cancer has on your mindset. It stops you cold in your tracks, and makes you hesitate when you think about looking ahead.
Don't misunderstand me. It's not gloom and doom. It's more extreme caution. Think of it this way, if you walked out bearfoot in the summer and stepped on a bee and got stung, you would likely be very hestitant of walking around barefoot again. You would exercise caution. On a grander scale, the same thing applies to cancer. In someways, you learned that there is only so much control we have over our lives and our future. The truth is, everyone has this same limit, but until you experience something so traumatic, you don't realize how little control you really have. I really personally loved that little land of dilusion that I lived in prior to May of last year. I loved believing that I had control over my health. I loved believing that I was in control of the choices in my life and of my future. I guess I needed to be humbled a bit by cancer, and it is accurate to say that I certainly was. The truth is, the cancer experience doesn't end when chemo ends. It stays with you for a long time. As much as I would like to say life has gone back to the way it was, the truth is, that would be a big lie. It's one of the lesser known secrets about cancer. People just assume that once you finish treatment, that you are done, cured. That's no really how it works. There is a certain amount of post traumatic stress that comes along with it all.

So I do the best with the hand I have been dealt. I focus on making this world better for me having had cancer. I'm down with that part of the plan. I am working on the walk and making it a spectacular event. I am lending my experience to every new cancer sister that I come across. There is only so much a girl can do, and that's the frustrating part.
On the upside, last night I was pleased to celebrate a 5 year post-treatment anniversary of a sister from group. That was a beautiful and hopeful place to be. It's wonderful to see how that can be. She is in her 60s and went zip lining last week. How amazing is that? I cannot imagine how invigorating that must be. I am not sure which is more exciting, the zip lining or the 5 years post-treatment part?

Friday, April 6, 2012


We all have our crosses to bear.
On this Good Friday, the most solemn day in the Christian faith, it is hard for me to ignore the subject of crosses. Crosses are the very heart of the Christian faith. Today, we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This is the day that lead to the weekend that changed the course of religious history. Essentially, if it were not for Good Friday, Easter would have no meaning. We all know the story. We have heard the Passion many times. But how often do we reflect on it, and what it means to be a Christian?
Some would like to believe that having faith keeps you free from harm and stress your whole life. Not so. The bible does not claim this. The truth is, all people suffer in their lives. If you were to look at the beatitudes, it talks about the very concept that people suffer in this world, and that those who suffer are blessed in their own right. The promise of Christianity has nothing to do with freedom from trials in this life. Rather it is the promise of paradise in the afterlife to those who take up their crosses. When we think about it, everyone in this world encounters grief, hard times, and stress in their lives. And there are experiences that are at the root of these feelings.These experiences, per Christianity, are our crosses. In my case, of course, the cross is breast cancer.
I didn't get to chose this disease coming into my life. I am certain that given the choice, I would have asked to NOT have experienced it in my life. However, the truth is that if I had a how laundry list to choose from, what would I have picked? I haven't the slightest clue. I assume that is why the choice is not up to us. Because really, how does one decide between our own illness, the illness of a loved one, poverty, violence, abuse, or any other cross for that matter? We simply can't. So we are all given what is selected for us, and we are tasked with making the best of it.
I do not claim to be Christ-like, for none of us are that divine. But I do claim to be a follower, which obligates me to do the best I can to live up to the values of my faith. These include love, compassion, respect, honesty, hope. I do believe that my cross is something that I can use to help others. I continue to live that mission. I am on the committee for the Cancer Support Community walk for wellness. Our walk is on June 3rd which is Cancer Survivor's day. From my perspective, being on the committee is a great way to help further the mission of this wonderful organization, celebrate those survivors who continue to bear their own crosses every day, and perhaps raise funds to help bolster the program even further. I also continue to regularly encounter new breast cancer patients... A new one joined the ranks this week. So I continue to try to help them, giving them hope, love and support as they muddle through those hazy early days.
At the end of the day, I don't really know what I am supposed to be doing here, but I am interpreting the teaching of my faith and applying them the best I can. I do hope I am doing a good job. I believe that I am.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hurray for progress

Today was a happy day for me. I went accessory shopping (which my new found penchant for accessories is a rather fun cancer side effect) on my lunch hour. It was delightful to be out in the gorgeous, warm weather soaking up my vitamin D. Anywho, while in Claires (yes, i know most of their stuff is for kids), I was thrilled to realize that there are some hair clips that actually will grab onto my hair! HURRAY FOR HAIR GROWTH! It's the little things that I appreciate now. It's nice to move further and further from treatment, and I hope I never have to take a return trip.
My hair definitely looks like I might have gone with this style on purpose now which is nice. People are kind and complimentary about it, but I cannot deny the fact that I am really looking forward to having a ponytail again! Oh what a happy dance I will do when that day comes!
Next week is my follow up with Doctor Warden. It has been 9 months since my mastectomy... HOLY CRAP! In six weeks, the one year anniversary of my diagnosis will be here. That is ridiculous! What a wild, crazy year filled with tears, laughs and just plan craziness.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Living in the present

This has always been a challenge for me, even before cancer. In some ways, it has been to my benefit in the past. Always thinking about the future, planning about what I would do with my career, preparing for whatever the next step would be for my family. Perhaps it gave me a feeling of control over my own destiny. Perhaps it gave me motivation to keep working hard at my/our goals. Or perhaps it was just me being unpatient. Either way, it's how my brain operated. Many a times, I would look forward to the next step, and often not think about the here and now. It's hard to really appreciate the present when you spend your energy focused on what's coming down the pike.
Having been diagnosed with cancer, that sort of forward thinking causes more stress than good. It fosters and feeds a fear of the unknown. Anyone who knows me knows that by nature, I am a pretty optimistic person. One very unfortunate side effect of my disease is its muting of the optimism I was so used to. I found that one of my bigggest hurdles mentally was to stop focusing on the what if. It is hard because truthfully, once you have the unknown sneak up and ambush you, it's impossible to not suffer some sort of emotional trauma. It becomes a learned behavior to focus on the unknown and anticipate when it will rear it's ugly head again. It's hard to not worry about what will happen next.
But I do realize this isn't any way to live. I have spent a significant amount of time and energy learning how to focus on today. I felt like yesterday, I had a break through in that area. I was sitting at my desk at work and started worrying about my upcoming appointments with my surgeon and oncologist. I worried about what would happen if they run scans and the results are less than desirable... In that moment, I thought to myself, so what. I can't let what may or may not happen in a month from now. There is a part of me that wants very much to have answers. But there is a part of me that is learning to accept that being in that limbo place between appointments is nice. Right now, I am acting as if I am cancer free. And in this moment, I am able to do a decent amount. I am physically well enough to work, to do Mary Kay, to spend time with my family, to help plan the Wellness walk in support of the Cancer Support Community (ahem, have you signed up to join me yet??), and well enough to exercise. Those are all blessings in this moment. I need to enjoy them.
The truth is, I pray constantly about my future and ask for wellness, and I am working towards that end as much as possible. But I can't let my forward looking ways distract me from enjoying my present. I am glad to have a clear enough mind to write. I am glad to have an able enough body to do what I please. I am glad to enjoy the blessings and be hopeful about my future. I am glad to work where I do and to be able to contribute to the capacity that I do. I am glad to have a loving husband and the most beautiful little boy to keep me smiling.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Today is a good day. I am 35 and I am a cancer survivor. Not a bad gig after all! Funny how randomly yesterday, I saw this commercial Yes, I cried.. Not because it's Ricky Martin... but because it's a little more real than it was when the commercial was first aired.

I will be grateful for ever 3/14 that comes along. May there be another 50 of them. Come on, how cute will I be as a little 85 year old?? Friggin adorable I bet. I will shrink because of the early menopause. So picture it, me 4'6 carrying around a little purse wearing glasses. I envision being a little like Sophia from the Golden Girls... ahhh.

A friend has requested prayers. She is having some testing done today on a lump or two that she found. Please keep her in your prayers.

Also, I just wanted to say how amazing people can be. In the past two weeks, I have heard from people I know, people who know people that I know, and complete strangers about the Reader's Digest article. It's so wonderful to hear how it touched people. One such example was the most beautiful card from a bunch of Mary Kay women in New England who read my article at one of their weekly meetings. And the other was a bracelet I recieved from a woman who owns her own jewelry making company. She read my article and sent me a pink ribbon bracelet just so I would know someone was thinking of me. Pretty awesome and touching!!

It's been an amazing experience so far. Life continues to be good despite bumps in the road. Mom is coming along. She had her second infusion monday. I suspect today will be kind of crappy for her. Please keep her in your prayers. She's a tough cookie, and will get through this, but prayers and love are definitely appreciated. And pray for Dad too. I know this is tough on him. And of course, pray for me, just because.

So here's to another 50 3/14's with cake for me!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sometimes I just get angry

I do try my best to always be positive, and look at all the good that has come as a result of the disease. And although I consider myself to be pretty well skilled in the positiving thinking arena, sometimes I just can't help but get angry. So as much as I try, I hate that cancer ever came into my life. I hate that it is still in my life. I hate that it doesn't give me a choice. (We were not allowed to say "hate" growing up in my house, but I believe this is the one time when it's truly warranted!)

Cancer is rude, intrusive, loud and disruptive. It doesn't care that we are good people. It doesn't care that we loved our lives the way they were. It doesn't care that it's not a good time for such chaos. It doesn't care that my mother has been about as good of a christian as one could possibly be. It still crashes the party and has long overstayed its welcome.

It tests your stamina. It tests your faith. It tests your relationships. It tests your mental fortitude. Many times we pass those tests, but sometimes we don't. Sometimes we just get tired of it all. It is a little unfair that we got hit with this disease in a double header fashion in my family (ok, maybe that is an understatement). We had less than two weeks between active treatment periods. That's hardly a break period! Trust me, it takes much longer than that to recover from the trauma that is cancer.

Forgive the negative emotions, but they are all a genuine part of this process. Cancer isn't pretty, and sometimes, I let its ugliness take over for a bit.

But this too shall pass.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus... or something like that.

Yes, Momma, you will feel normal again.

I know the feeling well. You feel like you just can't shake the fog and the blah feeling. But you will. I promise. I know that it's demoralizing when you just don't feel well enough to do things you once did with ease. It's aggrevating that when you feel slightly better, and you have this burst of hope that things are getting better, you crash and burn. It's annoying that you just can't seem to shake the side effects.

I remember dreading swallowing liquids because my throat was more in repell mode more than inject mode. Sometimes, you just don't feel like doing the things that are good for you. Getting up and doing something basic for ten minutes feels like a day full of chores. It's just plain exhausting. It seems like it never will end.

But it will end. It just takes time. I am certain that never in your life will you more wish for a remote control to fast forward through time than you do now. I remember. And I feel that way now too. Unfortunately, crosses aren't easy to bear. But that's life. And when the cross gets too heavy, lean on us, or take a nap. There's nothing wrong with sleeping away this nightmare. Just remember, in the end, you will be victorious, and really, that's all that matters.

Life will feel normal for you again sometime soon. Aside from this foray into being on the caregiver side now, my life is starting to pick up where it left off. I am back to work full time, including travel. My Mary Kay business is doing great, all because I am able to work at it again. Steven is thriving (and dare I say, finally pretty close to being potty trained. Not one accident today! Yippee!)

So hang in there, Mom. The road is long, but you will not walk it alone. And the sun will be shining when you get to the other side of this. In the meantime, let our love carry you through.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The worst of the first

Mom is halfway through round one of chemo. I think the worst of the first is behind her. It's not been the most fun week of her life but she is a trooper and will be ok. It's been rough on dad to see her go through this. I know he always knew how much he loved her but I do think this makes him really appreciate her (come on Briamontes, say it with me "I appreciate ya!). The road ahead is steep but she will do this. She's a strong survivor.

It is very strange for me to watch. I understand everything she is experiencing. It's surreal in a way. It's like weird deja vu kind of dream Except This time I'm watching it instead of living it. It's almost like an out of body experience.

Anyway, please keep us all in your prayers as we continue to push forward. Every prayer means so much.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My birth month

March has arrived! Last March, I didn't give much thought to my age or my life or how many more birthdays I would have. I cannot deny that this year is a little different. I now see my birthday as it's own gift to me. When you have a battle with cancer, you can't help but be cognizant of your own mortality, and of the fact that life just is unpredictable and potentially short. I remember the first time I saw an American Cancer Society commercial where they called themselves "the official sponsor of birthdays". I got a bit teary eyed because I thought what a beautiful and frightning statement... That was long before I knew it applied to me.

This year, I turn 35. My mid-thirties! If things were different, I might have lamented that age. But now I embrace it. I am happy to be turning 35, because I am happy to be here to see it. I continue to pray that I beat this disease. Remember, that I have finished treatment, but I have not officially beaten this disease. I am certainly a survivor, but cancer is always a risk for me now. Moreso than for someone else. I still haven't had a scan since before the mastectomy. I am operating under the assumption that I am cancer free, but the reality is, I don't know that for sure. But then again, does anyone really know that about themselves? No, they don't (not to frighten anyone, it's just a fact).

The truth is, I have no idea what lies ahead. I could be here for another 50 years, or another 5. That's not for me to decide. That's in God's hands. I hope and pray that he goes for the bigger number, and in the meantime, I will do the best I can to be healthier so my body stays as strong as it can. It goes back to the whole concept of "I work like it's all up to me, and pray like it's all up to Him". That's about the best anyone can do, right?

I personally plan on celebrating every birthday I have coming. And I plan on being happy about getting older. I am grateful for that opportunity. Yes, my hair is grey. I am ok with that. Yes, I have a few laugh lines forming (although they are not as noticeable thanks to Mary Kay!) No, I cannot stay up as late as I used to or drink like I used to. Yes, I am closer to be eligible to live in an "active adult" community. But you know what? I am ok with all of it! Because I am happy to be here to enjoy getting older. I embrace it. It's life, and I am grateful to be living it!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mom is doing well

I just wanted to post a note to everyone thanking you for your love, prayers and support. Mom is doing pretty well considering. She's in good spirits and so far the side effects are manageable. Please continue the prayers. They mean more than you know.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tale of two survivors

It's interesting to see how my life and mom's have lined up. About 2 months before I was diagnosed, mom was told to come back in six months. As I was finishing up chemo, she went in for that follow up, which was part of a long drawn out evenutal diagnosis process for her. In the middle of radiation, she got her formal diagnosis, and joined me in the land of breast cancer. We had a two week break between the end of my treatment and her surgery which was the start of hers.

Today was the first day I traveled for business since before I got sick, and today was the day she started her chemo. Perhaps some of why the timing has lined up as it has was to show her that life will go on. It just does. Sometimes it seems like things will never feel normal again, but today for me they did, with the exception of the fact that my mother was in getting her infusion.

I guess that's the way cancer works. There are 2.5 million women who have faced this disease and are living in some stage beyond their diagnosis. Some are 30 years past it and probably never give it a second thought. Some are newbies walking around obsessing on it. I look forward to the day when both mom and I are "past" it and can just enjoy life again without looking through cancer colored glasses.

It's not a journey I ever would have picked to share with anyone, selfishly because I never wanted to go through it, and unselfishly because I never wanted to see someone I love suffer. But we don't always pick our paths. Sometimes the road winds off in ways we didn't expect, but follow it we must, keeping faith that it's where we are meant to be. Mom and I have shared some fun moments in cancer solidarity. What can we do but make the best of it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gratitude practice

Now that I have posting ability from my phone, perhaps I will pick up the pace of posting. I know there is a small handful of people who miss it. Today, practicing gratitude is on my mind. Yes even at 4 am. How many of us take the time to thing about all we are grateful for? I hadn't focused on that in a while and I recently took up the practice again. It comes down to how we want to view our lives and circumstances. It's very easy to focus on the issues and challenges that bring us down. Problems are real and can weigh on us if we choose to allow them to.

However, as heavy as problems can be is as uplifting as gratitude can be. So I challenge you to join me each day, what are you grateful for? Today, I'm grateful for technology that makes posting easier. I'm grateful to have something to celebrate in challenging times. I'm grateful for modern medicine. I'm grateful for an amazing support system. I'm grateful for jami on her 34th birthday. And that's just what I am grateful for off the toP of my head at this moment.

Even when the road gets rough there is good to be found. Taking a pollyanna approach can help change the way the rough journey feels. It's about recognizing and appreciating the gifts.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I got an iphone today and want to see if I can post from here

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

steps in the right direction

So far this week, I have gone to the gym 3 times for cardio. I also did a 30 minute yoga session, which by the way, you never realize how out of shape you are until you do yoga! Needless to say, I was sore the next day."but it's a good hurt"...

As part of the cancer transitions programs, we are supposed to set weekly goals. Mine are the following:
  • Go to the gym 4 times this week (3 down so far)
  • hit at least 4 servings of fruit/veggies daily (2 days in a row so far)
  • Drink 8-8 ounces of water (I think I have done this, but I haven't been diligent about counting to be sure)
  • Get back to weight watchers tracking (today is day 3 of that)
Rome wasn't built in a day right? I figure every little step in the right direction counts. It's been a long time since I have been well enough to consistently exercise and do healthful things. It's a wonderful feeling. I intend to be healthy for many years as I have much more to do and much more to contribute to this world. As a wise survivor keeps telling me, I will chose to go by "faith not fear".

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The week in review

This week was my return to a healthy lifestyle. I got to the gym twice (not great, but it's better than nothing) and went walking at lunch twice. That's a good start. I was pretty good about packing my lunch and snacks for work. I also signed up to do the Spring Lake 5k in May... Thanks Chris and Ei for getting that going! I am going to shoot for walking it. I am hoping that I can work up to the running for the fall.

This upcoming week will bring more opportunities to work on my health. My goal this week is three trips to the gym. I also have the first wellness/transitions seminar on Monday. That includes several components including exercise. Which reminds me, I have to find my paperwork for that... oops.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

In defense of Komen

Because I don't feel confident that people will take my post in the manner it was intended, I have removed it. If you would like to read it, send me an email and I will pass it along.

I do find it sad how emotional, hateful and angry people get over topics like this. However, I do believe everyone is entitled to feel how the must.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

the road to wellness

I am finally at a point where I am ready to start really changing the way I do things. I had made a few attempts during treatments but side effects got in the way. Now that active treatment is done, it's time. I cannot fully control cancer. In fact, I can't control it pretty much at all. However,statistics do show that moderate/vigorous activity, and a lower BMI reduce your likelihood of a recurrance. While certainly there is no guarantees with this disease, it would be foolish of me not to make the effort.

My goal is to get in exercise 3-4 days a week at a minimum. I will be paying better attention to my diet. Bottom line is, will it help the cancer stay away? No one knows for sure. But statistics say yes. And if it doesn't, well, at least in the meantime, I will feel better about myself. Being healthier is never a bad thing right?

I also will be starting my cancer transitions program on monday. That should be good. I am really looking forward to that. The focus is these very types of lifestyle changes. I think that will be great.

So this is where it starts. Who knows what the future holds. I am hoping it holds opportunities for 5ks, who knows, and maybe more... But you know what they say, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". Today I take mine.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

where is that remote?

I have talked about wishing this time would pass quickly and be but a memory. It's so hard to fathom what it will be like when I am no longer treading water in a pink sea of breast cancer. Will I forget what it feels like now? The fear has lessened a bit, although I anticipate a huge spike whenever I go for a follow up. In a recent session at the CSC, they referred to this as "Scan-xiety". I though that was pretty funny and certainly appropo. I remember reading somewhere about a cancer patient saying how stressful doctor's visits were for them, and at the time, not understanding why. I get it now!
The good news is, I am definitely in a less acute emotional situation than I was a few months ago. I can actually wear non-waterproof mascara most of the time, which quite the improvement. The adreneline has come down, and I am not as cancer-obsessed as I was. I am trying, and doing a somewhat reasonable job of getting back to "normal". Being out of radiation is certainly wonderful as I know longer have that daily reminder every day of what my life has become. And like everything else in life, as time is going on, my radiation burns are healing up quite nicely. Thank you, Silvadene!
Mom is doing great post-surgery. You'd never even know she had surgery... She hasn't missed a beat. She goes to see Doctor Warden tomorrow. I cannot help but be thankful that she caught this. I am so relieved to see that she is going to go through this and be just fine. I don't like that she is going through treatment, but I don't down her future success for one minute. She's got a lot of living to do, so she just needs to clear these upcoming hurdles, and she will be back to kicking ass in scrabble, travelling, hanging with the wade street gang, and showing me how to raise my son.
It will be a wonderful feeling when we fast forward and all is good for us. Sometimes, that day seems incredibly far away, and sometimes it seems like it's within grasp. I am particularly excited for the day when Steven is old enough to realize how special his mom and grandma are.. We survivors are pretty cool after all. Ideally, I am hoping he will be shocked when he learns what we have gone through, because that will mean that he has not been negatively affected by it. That will be a victory in and of itself. And then I want to be there to see him graduate from medical school. Princeton would be nice, or perhaps UPenn like his Aunt Courtney. Hey, if I am only going to have one kid, he sure as heck should get the benefit of the best opportunities, right?
Anywho, things outside of treatment are pretty good. It's definitely strange to not see a doctor constantly. It's a blend between unnerving and refreshing. I am starting a program next week called "Cancer transitions" which is geared towards teaching cancer patients about how to make lifestyle changes to promote overall wellness, and supplement any treatments given. I am looking forward to that. The program director is an absolute gem and has been so unbelieveably helpful to me throughout my journey. Hey if you are ever looking for a place to make a charitable donation, please consider "the cancer support community" in eatontown. They are totally privately funded, and truthfully are invaluable to cancer patients.
Anyway, as far as I can tell, I have a bright future ahead. In the meantime, I am going to do the best I can with what I have. And I will be grateful for the wakeup call cancer gave me. Not everyone has the opportunity to assess their life the way I have. I have a different perspective, and I love that. I've said it before, cancer has changed me... But I believe it's changed me for the better.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

All in the family -- Coping Submission #2

So I received my copy of Coping Magazine today. I am sharing the publication with Montgomery from Montgomery Gentry, cause I'm fancy like that... (he had prostate cancer recently... who knew)

In the package, there was a note from the editor asking if I would be willing to contribute again. Well you don't have to ask me twice. Not sure if they will like it, but here's what I am sending them. Keep your fingers crossed.


There is nothing worse than going through cancer treatment, except perhaps watching someone you love dearly go through it. Cancer wreaks havoc on your world, and takes your entire family on an unpredictable roller coaster ride. So what happens when you encounter both scenarios at once? Well, the answer might surprise you.
I was 34 when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Up until that time, we had no family history with the disease. Needless to say, it shocked everyone we knew. Being the first person in my close network going through this was daunting and traumatic. I was blessed to have an amazing support system: an awesome husband, amazing friends and family, but possibly most importantly, my wonderful mother.
Mom was an integral part of my cancer journey. She did what mothers do, not matter how old their babies are. She stood by me as I navigated side effects, cooked whatever foods I could tolerate, helped keep life normal for my 2 year old son, and went to many of my appointments. Her support was unwavering. And because she was my mother, she was one of the few people who knew the whole story. She saw everything I went through: the brutal truth. When I would say to others "oh, I'm doing ok", she knew what was really going on behind the scenes.
You might imagine my horror when she was also diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after I finished chemo, and was halfway through radiation. It broke my heart, and filled me with guilt. Knowing that she knew exactly what she was now facing in graphic detail made me feel terrible. It didn't seem fair that one family should have to endure so much, especially in such a short time frame. Wasn't one of us enough? I thought to myself, "if you only get what you can handle, than someone must think very highly of us and our strength". To be honest, I would have preferred not to have received such a compliment.
But in time, I realized a few things. Yes, she knew the bad and the ugly of cancer treatment, but she also knew she could handle it because I did. I believe she learned a lot by watching me. She might still encounter bizarre chemo side effects, but she will know what to do about them because she worked with me as I figured it out how to manage them. She is prepared, and although she is not looking forward to her journey, she knows like anything else in life, there are gems to be found if you look hard enough. Although it seemed a little bit backwards for her to be asking me what to expect, it is special for me to be able to guide her through this. So what if it redefined the typical mother-daughter dynamic? Who said roles had to stay traditional? We are a family, and we support each other no matter the challenges. Just as we got through my treatment together, we will do so with hers as well.
We were lucky enough to have a wonderful relationship before cancer. Now we can keep each other company in this crazy club. And I realized that she found hers early because of me. She gave me life, and I just may have saved hers. There is no sweeter blessing than that!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Living life... and watching the Giants.

I am enjoying my first week being out of treatment. It's exciting and unnerving at the same time. There was so good news last week. My liver function test results and my tumor markers were all deemed "perfect" and yes, that's a direct quote. That's not a guarantee of anything, but it's a good first step.

Radiation was a little more interesting that I expected. I am managing the burns now. It's pretty gross, but at least I am done. Nothing Silvadene and some non-stick guaze can't help. Makes me really appreciate any firemen who have ever been injured. Burns are not fun... They are gross and painful.

So, we are in the midst of a very short break in my family. Mom's surgery is Thursday. So therefore, we enjoy a full 9 days out of cancerland before we head back in for round two. Please keep us (really her) in your prayers this week. Pray for Dr Warden, that she does what she's awesome at and is on her best game on Thursday.

On another note, Go Giants... (not sure if they will still be in this by the time everyone reads this or not. time will tell)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Out of Active Treatment

If all goes well today, it will be the end of the long road called "active treatment". A huge milestone for me. It's the end of all those things that were rattled off to me in May, when I swallowed hard, and said "full steam ahead"! A double mastectomy, 4 rounds of AC, 4 rounds of Taxol, 28 rounds of radiation.... As of 1:45 this afternoon, they will all be checked of my to do list!

What an amazing feeling! I alternate between wanting to dance and and wanting to cry. It's been a rough road for my family, but we made it. As much as I hated treatment, I am grateful to God that they exist. They saved my life! I am blessed.

So now what lies ahead? I have no idea. I do intend to make a mark on this world. To do my best to make God glad he gave me the opportunity to be here. I don't intend to be overt about it, there are quiet ways of making a difference, and that is what I plan to do.

I am not going to lie, I went through a lot. This has been a crappy road to have to walk. But there have been moments of grace through it. I know that God was never far from me, and I know that I was blessed. I am lucky that I was healthy enough to receive the most effective treatment plan available for my disease. Some people aren't. I am lucky that my disease is treatable. Some people don't have that luxury. I am blessed to have the best support system a girl could want. Not everyone does.

As much as I want to forget the last 8 months, I know that I won't. They are a prominent part of me, and have changed me. I just will do my best to make sure that the change is for the better.

For today, I am just happy to say "it's over!"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

this too shall pass.

We all know how odd life can be. The truth is everyone gets their times to be put through the ringer. I used to prefer being the supporting cast in such a story rather than the lead. However, now knowing that mom is going to go through her ringer, I'd go through it all myself all over again to prevent her from going through it. Before you think I'm noble, I have to admit it's selfish. It's no fun going through the physical crap that comes with treatment. But it's ten times worse watching someone you love go through it.

But the truth is, this too shall pass. Her time through the ringer will come and go. And when it's over, she will be fine and strong. I cannot tell you how many times in life I have said I wish I had the fast forward button. Whether it was while me or my friends went through the heartache of a breakup, or me getting through chemo, or plowing through school when I was burnt out. There are so many moments of our lives that we want to wish away. However, we can't. Those days are here to shape and effect us for a reason. Perhaps, it's to teach us true love when we see it or to teach us not to take things for granted. Whatever the struggle, there's always a lesson to be learned.

Time does heal all wounds if you let it and are patient enough. I was noticing my surgery scars after treatment today and realized how beautifully they are healing. I will never look the way I did before, but I am ok with that. My scars a precious and they are here to remind me of what I have gone through and of how strong I am. I don't hate them. They are a natural tattoo, the result of a rite of passage I had to go through. Perhaps I had to go through it to lead my mom through. I don't know. All I know is we will get through this.

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” 
― Robert Frost

In other news, weather like this makes me grateful for hot flashes. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

dreaming of chemo brain and radiation

I found it pretty funny when I woke up yesterday morning and realized I had a chemo brain dream. Picture it: I was in a school-like setting and it was halloween. I was getting my costume on when I realized that  when I had shopped for my costume I must have had chemo brain. As I started to take the components of my costume out of the bag, I realized that they were a mish mosh of items. I had a grey shark hat (complete with teeth), a Giants jersey (no doubt inspired by their big win over the weekend), black evil looking wings, and leg warmers that look like chicken legs.

I laughed to myself in the dream and "remembered" that I had a few ideas when I was shopping and must have gotten distracted at the store and bought a little of each idea. I shrugged, and put all the craziness on, and strolled on out. In my dream, I got the looks you might have imagined, but I didn't care. If people asked what I was dressed as, I just replied "chemo brain".

Radiation is going along ok. I have 7 more treatments to go and am very much looking forward to being done. It's just a big hassle. My skin is getting pink and itchy now. It's normal for being this close to the end, but it's annoying none-the-less.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Some of you may remember an earlier post (waaaay back in the beginning of the nonsense) that talked about my horoscope that predicted a "shedding of skin". That guy has always had a ridiculously uncanny ability to post insanely relevant predictions under Pisces. Well, I thought today, you might get a kick out of his prediction for the month of January. 

"If only a tiny fraction of the dreadful things that some folk expect from 2012 ever come to pass, what will we do? But that just goes to show how easily we can unnerve ourselves. None of those disasters will occur. Just as none of the problems in your own life, even the ones that keep you awake at night, are as serious as they seem. There is only one resolution you need to make. It involves freeing yourself from fear. " 

Well, damn... 

I cannot help but laugh at Jonathan Cainer's ridiculousness. Ahh, well, I guess if it can't hurt to take up that friendly advice. At the end of the day, fear has been one of the worst side effects of this whole ordeal. Being free from that will be the best gift. I have done my best to have faith, but fear does cloud that from time to time. To live cancer-free and fear-free is my goal.