Saturday, December 31, 2011

We're in paraben hell.

Parabens skeeve me out. These are all of the paraben containing products I'm tossing out today.

I have slowly been phasing all products containing parabens from our daily use. It's so much harder than I anticipated.
It's hard to toss out products that I spent our hard earned money on.
It's even harder to toss out some favorite products that I have been using for most of my life.

I read a great blog post recently on Breast Cancer Sisterhood.

Here's the gist of Brenda's blog:

Have you ever read the ingredients on the back of your shampoo bottle, your jar of moisturizer or the hand lotion you use? Chances are most of those ingredients you can't even pronounce. More importantly, most of them are chemicals you don't want in your blood stream. Regardless of whether you’re male or female, or if you’ve had breast cancer, you might consider avoiding a class of chemical ingredients called parabens.

Methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparabens are commonly used as preservatives in most of our personal care products. Manufacturers use parabens because they allow everything from toothpaste, to makeup base, to stay on store shelves longer. As informed consumers, however, we should be aware that parabens are known to cause breast cancer cells to grow and proliferate in laboratory environments. Because parabens can mimic estrogen, a hormone known to play a key role in some breast cancers, women who’ve had estrogen positive breast cancer should avoid all forms of estrogen in an effort to lessen risk of recurrence. Many say that should include parabens.

Just as “we are what we eat,” we are also a receptacle for the chemicals we put on our body. According to, the body can absorb as much as five pounds of cosmetic chemicals every year. Parabens are absorbed through the skin and into our gastrointestinal tract and our blood stream. The January-February 2004 issue of the Journal of Applied Toxicology reported measurable amounts of six different parabens from biopsy samples of breast cancer tumors. Because of their estrogenic properties, parabens can also affect male reproductive glands. The January 2009 issue of Reproductive Toxicology reported a probable link between parabens and the possible decrease in sperm production in males.

Studies are beginning to show that a lifelong exposure to estrogen may increase our risk for breast cancer. Many scientists are wondering if the cumulative effects of estrogenic parabens in our personal care products may explain why more girls are reaching puberty younger and younger, some as early as eight, and why more girls are being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Reading this was more than enough of a nudge to just pull the trigger and dump it all.
I want to start new in 2012.

Do I think I got breast cancer from my lotion? Probably not....but I can't be sure.
I don't know why I, and so many other seemingly healthy people, are being dealt this crap hand.
All that I know is, I worked my ass off to fight cancer and I DON'T want it back.

So what if I have to spend a few bucks to repurchase some new products for my cosmetic bag and lotions for my family?
We're worth it.

I hope everyone has a great and safe New Year!

Disclaimer: I'm not posting this so everyone goes crazy tossing out their products. You should make decisions that are best for your family.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Based on clinical trials, Herceptin is recommended for 1 year following diagnosis.
Yesterday was my first solo Herceptin infusion. I will get one every three weeks until August, which marks one year from when this crazy ride began.

It wasn't bad and took only around 45 minutes. The IV goes right into my port.
I also didn't notice any side effects last night from it. Woo hoo!

I met the nicest people in the chemo room yesterday. Since I was by myself and there for such a short time, I didn't request the private room. I'm really glad I didn't.

I met two families who were dealing with recurrences.
I was able to offer a little advice on current resources that are offered in the area. It made me realize how much I actually enjoy speaking to families battling cancer. I like to feel helpful.

I have known since the beginning that I wanted to use my diagnosis as a platform to help others. I still don't know what I'm being called to do. I pray about it often.

For now, I can only offer a little humor, advice and a smile.
I hope more answers come soon. I'm ready to get rolling!

Little update: My white blood count is at 3600. Assuming that it will be up to 4000 within a couple days, I will be cleared for surgery on Tuesday!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another goodie plucked from Kris Carr's website.

It's awesome!
Thanks for passing this on, Amy!

10 Things I Learned from People Who Survive Cancer
By Lissa Rankin MD on December 28, 2011

When I interviewed women who had survived breast cancer for my art project The Woman Inside, I noticed that they all had one remarkable thing in common.
They had all faced down death and decided to live every day like it might be their last. And then they all beat cancer.
The more interviews I did, the more I noticed that these women were living differently than most of the people I knew who had not been diagnosed with cancer. Here’s what I learned from those survivor women. Learning these lessons changed my life, and I hope they’ll change yours.

1. Be unapologetically YOU. People who survive cancer get feisty. They walk around bald in shopping malls and roll their eyes if people look at them funny. They say what they think. They laugh often. They don’t make excuses. They wear purple muumuus when they want to.

2. Don’t take shit from people. People who survive cancer stop trying to please everybody. They give up caring what everybody else thinks. If you might die in a year anyway (and every single one of us could), who gives a flip if your great aunt Gertrude is going to cut you out of her will unless you kiss her ass?

3. Learn to say no. People with cancer say no when they don’t feel like going to the gala. They avoid gatherings when they’d prefer to be alone. They don’t let themselves get pressured into doing things they really don’t want to do.

4. Get angry. Then get over it. People who survive cancer get in your face. They question you. They feel their anger. They refuse to be doormats. They demand respect. They feel it. Then they forgive. They let go. They surrender. They don’t stay pissed. They release resentment.

5. Don’t obsess about beauty. People who survive cancer no longer worry about whether they have perfect hair, whether their makeup looks spotless, or whether their boobs are perky enough. They’re happy just to have boobs (if they still do). They’re happy to be alive in their skin, even if it’s wrinkled.

6. Do it now. Stop deferring happiness. People who survive cancer realize that you can’t wait until you kick the bucket to do what you’re dying to do. Quit that soul-sucking job now. Leave that deadbeat husband. Prioritize joy. They live like they mean it.

7. Say “I love you” often. People who survive cancer leave no words left unspoken. You never know when your time is up. Don’t risk having someone you love not know it.

8. Take care of your body. People who survive cancer have a whole new appreciation for health. Those who haven’t been there may take it for granted. So stop smoking. Eat healthy. Drink in moderation. Maintain a healthy weight. Avoid putting toxic poisons in your God pod. Get enough sleep.

9. Prioritize freedom. People who survive cancer know that being a workaholic isn’t the answer. Money can’t buy health. Security doesn’t matter if you’re six feet under. Sixteen hours a day of being a stress monster is only going to make you sick. As Tim Ferriss writes in “The 4-Hour Workweek,” “Gold is getting old. The New Rich are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.”

10. Take risks. People who survive cancer have faced their fear and told it to go to hell. They know life is for living. Fear is powerless. And joy lies in taking risks. So go skydiving if you want. Bungee jump. Hang glide. Spend your savings. Live like you might die tomorrow.

Are you doing these things? Or are you waiting for cancer to test out how much you want to live?
Don’t wait for cancer, my love. Don’t tempt the universe that way.

Be brave enough to live now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Last Surgeon Appointment

I met with my surgeon one last time today before surgery.
Dr. Bretzke had checked out the results of my PET scan and she was excited with the results.

Neoadjuvant therapy is treatment given before primary therapy. Someone may receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer to shrink a tumor that is inoperable in its current state, so it can be surgically removed.

She said only 10-20% of people receiving neoadjuvant therapy have a total response after chemotherapy alone.
This is one statistic that I love. Not only did my tumor shrink, it disappeared!

She also said that because I am one of the 10-20%, my prognosis is "a whole new ballgame."
I'm a little scared of what that means, so I didn't ask. I don't like to think of my life in terms of how many years I have left.
I prefer to just take it one glorious day at a time.

Dr. Bretzke also said that she thinks statistics should be taken with a grain of salt.
The results we look at now are sometimes based on 5-10 years ago when we didn't have the amazing therapies and drugs that we have now.
She likes to think of cancer as a chronic disease "like diabetes" instead of a life sentence.
I like the way she thinks.

Dr. Bretzke's nurse smirked when she was looking over my chart. She commented that she also had 3 kids within two years and that it gets easier.
She sat with me for about 30 minutes after the doctor left to go over more possible risks, what to expect and pain management.

Before I left, she said, "You know, people always ask me who does the best with breast cancer. I tell them,
1. people with a strong faith,
2. people with a great support system and
3. people with a positive attitude.
You have all of those things and you are going to do amazingly."

She doesn't know how right she is.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Enjoying NED

So, I had the most relaxing Christmas to date. I didn't really care what time we ate or what time we opened gifts. I normally run a pretty tight ship and have our days planned to the minute.

I am REALLY glad that I called for the results prior to Christmas. It took such a load off me and everyone else. We had a wonderful stress-free holiday and enjoyed each other.

I am so appreciative of all the messages I received regarding my good news. You guys are the best cheerleaders!

I have been talking to other cancer survivors to see how they explain their "status" to people.
It's odd. A week ago, I had breast I don't, yet I still have to have surgery and radiation.

Here's the deal.
I am currently NED. That stands for No Evidence of Disease. (YAY!!)
Breast cancer patients are never really in remission, so NED is the best we can hope for.
I will still have surgery and radiation because the scans can not see all the microscopic cancer cells that may still exist. We need to zap everything that isn't visible.
Next Tuesday is the big day.

This week is filled with all my pre-op appointments with my surgeons. I will have blood tests and another EKG to make sure my heart is stable enough for surgery.

While I'm not excited for the pain I will be in following surgery, I am ready to just get it done with.
It's just another hurdle I want cleared.

I recently started getting acupuncture. I had my second appointment today.
Studies show acupuncture may help relieve fatigue, control hot flashes, help decrease nausea and lessen pain.
I do this in addition to weekly adjustments from my chiropractor. I don't know yet that it's helped, but it sure hasn't hurt.

I hope you all had a blessed holiday!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Miracles do happen.

I tried really hard to not call for my PET scan results today. I really wanted to make it through the holiday assuming the best and just hear the results in person on Tuesday.

I was too anxious and actually started calling at 8 am today. About 40 minutes ago, my favorite nurse called me back with the results.

Drumroll, please.......

There is no evidence of residual or metastatic disease. This means my cancer has not spread.

The doctor who read my scan noted: Within left breast and left axilla (lymph nodes), cancer seen on prior PET scan is no longer visible.


He couldn't see cancer....any cancer at all....anywhere!
I will go into surgery cancer-free.

This is a miracle.

My chemo worked. Our prayers were answered.
I can breathe again.

I couldn't have done this without you all.

Thank you friends and THANK YOU GOD!!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PET scan complete.... the waiting game begins.

This PET scan was a little different than my last one.
I had a CT scan at the same time.
I had to be there at 8:30 and was done a little before 11. It's a long process.

First, I have to drink a couple cups of barium. Then my IV is started and radioactive glucose is injected. It comes in this crazy metal container.

I'm left in this quiet, dark room and told not to move for 1 hour, as this test detects cell activity.
To me, that meant take a nap. I happily obliged. Thank you, Xanax!

I was woken up and moved to the cold scan room. They gave me some nice warm blankets and told me to lie still.
It took me about 10 seconds to fall back asleep.

This is exactly why I can't take Xanax very often. It knocks me out.

The techs wished me well and sent me on my way.

I made it home just in time for the boys' nap time. I happily joined them.
I have gotten more sleep today than I have any other day this month. Love it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thursday is PET scan day!

After completing chemotherapy, a follow-up whole-body PET scan can provide information to assess if the treatment was successful and if areas that were previously abnormally metabolically active have responded. The PET scan can detect residual disease within the scar tissue and indicate if the treatment was successful or if the tumor has returned.

PET/CT scans provide information to help physicians:

Locate the site of the cancer
Determine the size of the tumor
Differentiate benign from malignant growths
Discover if the cancer has spread
Select treatments that are likely to be appropriate
Monitor the success of therapy
Detect any recurrent tumors

So Thursday, I'm hoping that the tech sees no "hot spots."
I'm going to ask my doctor to not tell me the results until I meet with her next Tuesday for my pre-op consult. I don't want any bad news (which there won't be!) during the holiday.

Obviously, Tuesday will either be the best or worst day of my life.

Best case scenerio is that the cancer is gone. It's unlikely that it would all be completely gone, but a good portion of it should have been killed off by the chemo.

Good case would be that the cancer that exists is still contained and will be removed with the breast tissue during my mastectomy.

Worst case would be that even while doing chemo, the cancer spread elsewhere, automatically turning me to stage 4. There is no stage 5.

The statistics show that 30-60% of women who have cancer in their lymph nodes when diagnosed with breast cancer will have it eventually spread to other parts of the body. I'm part of this crappy statistic. I wish I weren't.
The risk of cancer spread depends largely on the tumor size and the number of positive lymph nodes.

I won't know the number of nodes that will have to be removed and/or severity of the damage until surgery.

After surgery, I will also know how often I will be going to radiation.
For now, it's planned at 6.5 weeks of Monday through Friday treatments. 33 blasts of radiation. Wow. Take that, cancer cells!

Want to hear something crazy? Surgery is in 14 days!!

Now that the chemo crap is over, it's amazing how good I feel.
That doesn't say a whole lot since I felt great before I found out I had cancer, but it's a nice change.
I guess for the past few months, I didn't realize how yucky I actually felt.
I only wish it wasn't flu season so I could go do something!!

I know you all are prayer warriors so I ask, PLEASE pray that the dreadful chemo was successful.
I can't think of anything better than spending 2012 and all years following cancer-free.
Who knows? Maybe 2012 will be the year that they find a cure!


Monday, December 19, 2011


My good friend, Mandi, from Rustic Charm sent Karsyn and I each one of the HOPE necklaces that people have been scooping up. I can absolutely see why everyone loves them! They're beautiful and the chain is the perfect length.

Please consider purchasing one of her "Hope" necklaces. They're only $14.00 and all proceeds will be donated to my Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team! Thank you, Mandi!!

Check out Mandi's store HERE.

If you'd like to donate directly to my team:

Thank you. :)

mri update


I just realized I forgot to update with my heart MRI results.

The good news is that my heart is functioning at the same level it was pre-chemotherapy.
Chemo is known to weaken hearts, so this is good.

The bad news is that my ejection function is still low and I also have left ventricular noncompaction.
I have been referred to a cardiologist, whom I will see at some point after surgery.

I don't really know what any of these means and I'm trying not to google.

My oncologist just said it's not a huge concern right now but may cause me problems when I'm older.

The one time I googled it, it brought up two sudden deaths by noncompaction.
Gotta love Google....or not. :)

For now, I'm going to stay focused on kicking cancer. If I can do this, anything is possible.

Make it a great day!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Note From My Mom

Angela said one day that there are many moms going through what I am now that I have a daughter with cancer. She thought that maybe someone could benefit from my message. I would like to tell my story.

Because it's December, my story will be about blessings.

Hi, my name is Pam and I am Angela's mom. I grew up with loving parents and one sister.
We were taught love, compassion, honesty, trust and most of all, family unity.
I decided a week after Angela's diagnosis that life as I knew it, would be changing.

I decided to move from my home in SD to Angela's in MN. She lives 4.5 hours from me.
I left my husband of 35 years. I left my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, whom I normally see weekly.
I said goodbye to my mother and asked her to care for my dog.
I left my friends.

I knew my priorities had to change. I had to move on and not look back.
It was tough and I cried hard.

It was the fear of the unknown.
I prayed. I prayed for strength and wisdom to guide my daughter, but also to be able to give her total decision making power.
This was her battle.

At age 31, she did not need a mother to tell her to take a nap.
The mother instinct in me has always been super strong. I felt the need to protect my baby as well as her babies.
All of my energy has been focused on getting her well.

We knew that we couldn't change the past or predict the future.
Angela decided the first day that life would go on as normal.

The kids know mom has cancer, but our lives do not revolve around it.
The kids know that I'm here, but never ask why. It's like an extended birthday party for them.

I heard Angela talking to a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient that some days, she forgets she has cancer. I know she really doesn't forget she has cancer but she chooses to forget the bad and look for the good.

My responsibility to my daughter is to be her best friend, her helper and most importantly, her mother.

Each day is a new blessing. The REAL blessing is that Angela chooses to parent her children with the same love and tenderness that I gave to her and her brother.
Almost every day, I want to pull her into my lap and kiss her fuzzy head. I just want her to feel all better.

I watch hourly for changes in her.
Her smile, her complexion, her eyes....every day is a new beginning.
I watch and help when she is exhausted from her chemo or sick from her Neulasta shot.

She always has time for her family and friends.
She has shown us all how strong and remarkable she is.
She never complains. She never asks Why? She continues on with her life like it's just another day. She celebrates each moment with a smile on her face. She's amazing.

I wish someone would have told me in the beginning "This will be a life changing event, but embrace it and all that goes with it and you will be truly blessed!"
This is hard...but it's not impossible.

So to all of my daughter's friends and blog followers, THANK YOU for your support and prayers during our journey.

We know that cancer has presented itself to many of you in many ways.
May all of you who have been touched by cancer, please say a prayer for Angela and all the others, that a cure be found in the shortest amount of time.

Our prayers are with you all!

Happy Holidays!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I received this awesome afghan in the mail from a family member in Iowa that I have never met.

It's another time that my mouth has dropped as I have seen first hand how compassionate, loving and selfless people are.

She even tied ribbons in the shape of a cancer ribbon across the middle. What a fabulous lady.
Obviously, even the family I haven't met yet are freaking awesome. I'm so blessed.

Thank you, Sheri!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's a girl!

My hair is really growing! I'm even getting some hair around my ears, so it will soon look like I'm just a short haired woman when I wear hats rather than a bald dude.
Follicles, represent!
My eyebrows and lashes are still pretty fugly. I don't bother trying to comb or pencil them in. I just make them look worse.

The chemo fog has lifted for the most part. My mouth is still sore, but no nausea today. I don't even have a headache. Yay!

Unfortunately, my heart has been doing weird flips today. It hasn't been ER-worthy yet, so hopefully it's nothing.

Speaking of, I had an MRI yesterday on my heart. It took forever.
Normally, my scans have taken 30 minutes tops and usually ended with me being woken up by the table being moved. This one lasted 90 minutes and went something like this:

Tech: "Hold your breath." (machine makes crazy loud jack hammering sounds while I turn purple from lack of oxygen)
"Ok, breathe."

Me: You're trying to kill me.

Rinse, lather, repeat for what seemed like 3 hours. It was miserable and I hope to not repeat it any time soon.

I should have results back in a few days. Hopefully, I still just have low ejection fraction and no new complications.
My wonky heart will be checked again in three months via Echocardiogram if there's no new craziness going on in there.

Mom and I took the kids to the park today.
We're enjoying the abnormally nice weather here in Minnesota before we get our typical ridiculous amount of snow dumped on us. I'm sure that will be in the very near future.
We even found some pretty marvelous sticks to take home to use as snowman arms.

One of these days, I'm moving to Texas.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is this it?

I'm really hopeful that this is my last day of chemo-induced yuckville.
I'm usually feeling better by Sunday, but today has been pretty tough.

It's very possible that my body is fighting off the virus that the kids all have had this week and this isn't chemo related at all. I'm just kind of run down and I feel like I have a layer of hair on my tongue. I took a migraine pill and now I seem to be on the mend. Fun times.

That's the weird part about having cancer. EVERYTHING is just a side effect of this stupid tumor....even if it's not. Your mind just goes there.

Oh, how I wish I could wake up and think, "Damn, my head hurts. I must have the flu" instead of just assuming it's some stupid side effect of this stupid cancer. I hope to have that some day again. I don't want to always assume the worst. I want to have regular people ailments and symptoms that aren't indicators of more tumors or recurrences.
I want to be normal again.

Moving on....
People have asked if I'm still a fan of juicing. I am.
I have no idea if it's helping anything. I feel better....and that's good enough for me!
I juice just about everything that can be juiced.

Most often, I just throw in a few carrots, celery stalks, a cucumber, kale and a pear or green apple.
I like how it tastes. I juice in addition to regular meals now. I made it ALMOST 3 days of strictly juicing last month and I was about ready to eat my damn arm off. People need to chew. Fact.

I do have good news to report. I am down to one med and a multi vitamin per day.
When I was on the chemo circuit, I had tons of pills. Most were PRN, (as needed) but filled nonetheless.
They were for nausea, migraines, sleep, bloating, mouth sores, etc.


I now have one daily med that I take and 2 gummy vitamins. Woo hoo!
I still have migraine meds, sleep aids, etc., but I'm hoping they won't be needed as much
as they have been prior.

I'm hoping to give my poor body a little break from the craziness before surgery in a few weeks.

I can't believe I'm talking about surgery in terms of "a few weeks."

I'm thinking about taking pics of my chest pre-surgery. Is that weird?
Everything is happening so fast. I know I want my mastectomy to happen, but will I forget what I once looked like? I will hopefully leave surgery cancer-free, but I will also be leaving surgery without a part of my body that has made me feel and look like a woman.

Those "time bombs" nursed all of my children.
I would be lying if I didn't say I was a little sad to be losing such a huge part of who I am.

Hopefully, my new ones will be better. I just wish I didn't have to wait so darn long to get them!

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's been 118 days..

It's been a whirlwind, but one speed bump has been cleared. Yay for no more chemo!!

118 days ago, I had my mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy.
I can post this pic now, because it doesn't seem personal anymore.
I just want them gone as soon as possible so I can start a new chapter.

This is what I looked like leaving my very first appointment at the breast institute.
One X shows where my cancerous lymph nodes are. The other is where my tumor is/was located.

This was 117 days ago. My sweet cousin Breanna's wedding. Karsyn was the flower girl. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony. Everything was perfect, but I felt like I couldn't breathe the entire day. I was keeping in a horrible secret. About three hours prior, I had received the phone call that would rock my world. I have no idea how I survived this week.

Here I am now.
The REAL me.

This is today. My complexion is pretty gross. I'm a little ashy.

My hair is really growing. It's the juicing and Nioxin, I'm sure. :)

I didn't lose all my eyebrows, nor my eyelashes. I still have enough to make me feel normal...whatever that is.
I'm one of the rare ducks that even kept most of the hair on my legs and arms. So unfair. ;)

Here are my nails. I've been told that I'm lucky to have any. The rings are obvious effects of the Tamoxifen. Yuck. All are broke off except two now.

I still have a chance of losing more hair and my nails. I'm going to stay positive that this is as bad as this part will get.

Here are the reasons I get up every morning.

I don't have pictures of everyone I would love to list here. You have all been awesome. I appreciate every single one of you for including us in your prayers. We're making progress!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Today is good.

Karsyn's back at school. Chase is running a slight temp and complaining of a headache, which is exactly how Karsyn's week of hell started last week.

Houston is currently kicking some serious Mario Kart butt, so he seems to be ok for the time being.

I feel pretty well. I go in for my last Neulasta shot at 2:50 and that will start MY hell week.
Thank God my mom is here now or it would be a difficult weekend.

Your messages on here, through texts, cards and facebook have all put smiles on our faces. It means so much to all of us that you guys take the time to check on us.

Love you!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Safety First!

I was just reminded by my parents about the bummer part of my appointment today.

Since my mastectomy surgery is less than one month away, we can't risk my counts being low like they were on Monday.

That means that I'm on lock down until January to curb some of my exposure to germs.

I will be allowed to go to necessary appointments sporting my sexy mask, but that's it.

The kids will still go to school, of course, but will be scrubbed down the second they get home. I will also not be the one taking or picking them up.

My mom is going to be back living with us for quite some time. She and Eric will be taking care of the carpooling and kids activities.

They have also told me that I will not be making it to any holiday parties this year.
I suddenly don't feel 32 anymore.

I'm going to let them and God run the show this month to get me through this.

I tend to over do it and would probably blow it right before my surgery. I'm going to rest up and hopefully avoid all these crazy viruses going around.

Stay well, my friends!! <3

Chemo 6/6...complete!

I was apprehensive to go to my appointment today. I wasn't looking forward to being sent home without chemo because of low blood counts. Fortunately, my WBC went from the 2000s on Monday to over 8000 today! Yay!!

I am officially done with chemo and on to the next chapter.

I will have my heart MRI on Monday. Surgery is still scheduled for 1/3.

Thanks for everything. Your prayers are working!!

This post is pretty pic heavy. Sorry. :)

I'm settling in for the long haul.

Should chemo patients pole dance? Of course they should!!

I think they slipped something in my bags.

Mom and Dad...the best parents EVER!

Dad, carrying my important things to the car. What a guy. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I think this is one of the first times in this journey that I have felt a little defeated...and annoyed.

I try to follow doctor's orders and do everything right. Sometimes that's just obviously not enough.

I had my pre-op physical yesterday and after the blood draw and found out I failed. My white blood count is just over 2000. This week last month, I was over 8000.
If I get to 1000, they will hospitalize me.

I also heard that my echocardiogram from last week wasn't great. My ejection fraction wasn't what it was supposed to me. It can indicate a whole bunch of things like heart disease....or it may be nothing.
I will have to have an MRI on it to get a better idea.

Because my WBC is so low, it's very possible that it won't be high enough by Wednesday to get my scheduled (last) chemo.

I feel like everything has went so smoothly and now it's all up in the air. I'm too type A for this shit.

I know that it will all work out. I just hope chemo and surgery are able to stay on their scheduled dates.

Sorry about the vent. I'm really trying to keep a positive spin on things, but the unknown is so hard sometimes.

Guess which option I'm choosing? :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I talk a lot about my "MoMs." Those are my Moms of Multiples friends. We all have twins or triplets and have become really close. I love them all more than words.

Unbeknownst to me, when I was diagnosed, they broke off into teams and each week sent things to me at home.

I have received baked goods, meals, personal care items, jewelry, blankets, clothing, gift cards, hats, scarves, chemo necessities, candy, etc.

It has been amazing. THEY have been amazing.
They have brightened my days more than they will ever realize.

You know those gifts that you receive that are so heartfelt that you can't help but sob?
I just got another one.

The box seemed to be about 50 lbs. It came from a friend in Colorado named Becky. She's super crafty, so I was excited to open it. My friend, April, had told me that I would get two boxes that went together, so even though I got April's prior to Becky's, I waited to open them together.

I had no words again....except that I have the best friends ever!!

My friends all picked out material to make me a quilt.
The quilt is amazing and huge. It's colorful and makes me so happy. It's warm and perfect.

In a photo album, there is a personal note from each person and the piece of the fabric they chose. The notes and squares were sent off to April, Allison and Kristi S. to assemble my book.
As I read each note, I was able to look at my blanket and see which square was picked by each person. I'm sure I will read all of these inspiring notes a million times.

The material was sent to Becky and Tiffany in Colorado to make the quilt. You may remember that Tiffany made my chemo quilt a few months back.
I am in awe of how talented these girls are. They even sewed letters of our families names and designs in the squares. Amazing!

It is so obvious how much time, energy, thought and money was put into this awesome gift.

You are all so wonderful. I can't thank you enough.

Here are two of the pages showing the fabric and notes. The Las Vegas theme is from my good friend Melissa. Eric, Cal and I had the pleasure of visiting her there the week I was diagnosed.
The pink and white flower print was picked by another great friend, Heather. I love this print and would have been able to pick this out as the one she chose without even checking the book. She's a classy chick.

Thank you so much April M, Becky W, Tiffany B, Sarah F, Valerie E, Mandi C, Jen M, Kristin C, Esther D, Sara D, Megan W, Kim, Sam, Annie, Heather, Melissa M, Ashlee, Keri, Melinda, Meredith, Christi, Allison, Lisa, Kat, Heidi, Amy K, Amy M, Christina, Melissa W, Erin, Kristi S.

Masks are hot.

Karsyn has been really sick since Monday. After two pediatrician trips this week, two different antibiotics, sleepless nights, a ton of fever reducers and an entire week off from school....she seems to be turning the corner.

In the mean time, the boys and I have tried to "mask up" as much as possible.

So far, no one but Miss Karsyn has been sick. Knock on wood.

Eric took this picture of us. I was amazed my how much fuzz is on my head. Pixie, here I come!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Plastics Guy

I love meeting with my plastic surgeon. He's adorable and considered a genius in his field.
I like to people watch in his office more than anything.
I feel like I'm on a Midwestern version of 'Nip/Tuck'.
Tomorrow marks one month before my 'ticking time bombs' will be removed.

Everything is on schedule for my surgery as long as my Echo and physical results come back ok.

The doctor thinks I will only have to stay in the hospital for two nights. He also reassured me numerous times that he's liberal with the pain meds, so I shouldn't worry.
The fact that pain meds make me puke is the ONLY thing I'm currently worried about.

I will be in surgery for 3-4 hours between the mastectomies and first stage of reconstruction.
There will be drains placed on both sides that will drain excess fluids from the surgical sites. They will be gross and uncomfortable, but necessary. I will have them for about a week.

Here's a pic of a complete stranger with a drain. I love the internet! :)

Another fun fact, Dr. Migliori will be using AlloDerm when he puts my expanders in.
AlloDerm is derived from tissue of postmortem human cadaver donors that have been donated to the US tissue banks.

My final surgery where my expanders will be exchanged with implants will depend on how much radiation I will need. Right now, we are planning on 35 treatments. We won't know for sure though until my first surgery.
I will either have it six months from the date of my mastectomy, or six months from the start of radiation. That puts it at either July or August 2012.
It also seems like an eternity from now.
Cancer-free in 2012, yo!

Are you curious how big I will be at the end?
Of course you are. ;)
Well, I won't be anywhere near Dolly Parton. We are just hoping to almost double my original ones and put them back where they used to be pre-kids.
We are shooting for at least 450-500 ccs.
I would like to go bigger but it's not in the cards.
Dr. Mig is a genius, but not a magician. It all depends on how my skin does with the radiation and tissue expanders.

I have an appointment on Monday with my primary care physician to have my pre-op physical.
I haven't seen her since she missed my initial lump.
I have no idea why I'm going to her again.

Actually, I have thought about changing doctors, but I don't want her to forget me or my story.
I don't want her to dismiss another patient that is concerned about a lump. I don't want her to tell another person that she has "lumpy bumpies" and send her on her way.
I want this doctor to see that *LUCKILY* I was persistent and gave her another chance to order a mammogram for me.

I hope I was a "teaching moment" for her.
I hope she now errs on the side of caution and orders mammograms every damn time she feels something she questions, no matter what the age or family background is of the patient. I hope I will be her last "lumpy bumpy" patient that has to go home and worry, without answers, as to why the bump in her breast is growing.

Besides the tumor biz, she was a pretty good doctor. As long as I don't get cancer again, I'm probably ok sticking with her. :)

I hope you all have an awesome weekend!