Saturday, November 26, 2011

Time flies!

My calendar is quickly filling up with pre-op appointments in December. I will be seeing a lot of my family doctor, oncologist, general surgeon and plastic surgeon to prepare and run tests for my big surgery on January 3rd. What a way to start out the new year!

I have thought about it as little as possible since my diagnosis so I could concentrate on getting through chemo. Amazingly, in eleven days, I will have finished my sixth and final chemotherapy.
It makes me excited, but nervous.
It's a weird apprehensive feeling.

My body reacted amazingly to the chemo and my side effects were minimal. The effects were bad enough that I knew the medications were working, but not so bad that I was down for too long.

Being on chemo has always been a safety net for me. I know that cancer rarely spreads or grows while you're receiving treatments and it made me feel safer.
Now that my treatment is almost over, I feel more anxious than ever.
Part of me feels like the second the chemo is out of my system, cancer will say "game on" and start growing again.
Stupid thoughts consume me sometimes. Cancerfnsucks.

I have started to prepare the kids for my mastectomy. I had a c-section with my twins and have a light scar still. I had told my kids this summer, when my daughter asked how babies were born, that my scar was my "zipper." I explained that God told the doctors when my new baby/babies were done growing and ready to meet us. At that time, the doctor unzipped me and got the baby/babies out. After the boys, God closed the hole so no more babies could come out the zipper. ;) Of course, that's not exactly what happened, especially since my daughter WASN'T a caesarian....but it pacified my then 3 year olds and 4 year old. :)

I have continued the zipper story in regards to my boobs. It has been pretty easy to get through the chemo part with the kids, without them putting too much thought into this cancer thing. The surgery will be tougher since I will have to stay in the hospital a couple days....and will come home looking like a 14 year old boy.

I told Karsyn that I will be going to the doctor and will be getting a new zipper on each side of my chest. That's where the doctor will scoop out all the yucky stuff and God will fill the holes so no more breast cancer can get in.
She was completely fine with that story. Sometimes, I'm pretty happy they're as young as they are. They trust what I say.

The kids just want it to be summer so I can get my "button" out of my chest. I do too. It weirds me out still to have that port in and it's actually starting to hurt more than usual. Nine more months of that bad boy. Ugh.

I've been looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Here are the new breasts I have picked out.

I'm totally kidding, but I would LOVE her tiny little waist.

I've also started checking out new hairstyles. My hair will hopefully start growing once chemo ends.
I'm a big fan of pixie cuts, but hadn't been ballsy enough prior to ever cut my long hair off. Growing my hair INTO a pixie is almost comical.
I will just be so happy to finally not see my scalp anymore.

Here's what I'm kind of hoping for. Wishful thinking, I'm sure.

Thanks for continuing to come along with me on this crazy journey. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm thankful for so much.

I love this time of year. People are busy, but happy. The weather is changing. Today, I'm officially only 2 weeks away from my final chemo. My energy is back and we're looking forward to hosting dinner tomorrow for family from South Dakota.

I'm thankful for my husband who doesn't complain. He does so much around here to help. He tells me how proud he is of me and reminds me daily that I'm a "hot bald chick." :)

I'm so thankful for my kiddos.
They love me unconditionally. Although they're loud, their hugs are like no other.
They make me get out of bed every day. They make me stay positive and FIGHT.

This is their Thankful Tree. They drew pics of things they like. It's full of words, pictures of turkeys and feathers to decorate the branches with. It's my favorite tree.

I'm thankful that my mom takes such good care of my family. This lifts a huge weight off me on the days I'm struggling.

She will be leaving to go back to South Dakota on Friday. We'll sure miss her!

I'm thankful for my friends.
They're amazing. They never give up on me. They keep my spirits up. They send thoughtful gifts, texts and calls. They don't make me feel like a nuisance. It really makes me feel proud to know such great people. They make me feel loved. I love them.

Want to see the thoughtful gift I just received from Danielle, Keri, Kelly, Mandi and Melissa?
They had some of our friends take a picture of themselves with a sign of hope. The pictures were then printed out on adhesive paper and sent to me. I framed them today and can't wait to hang them!

I love seeing which words they chose.
I know these ladies will hold a very special part of my heart forever.

Hope you all count your blessing this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chemo #5

Losing is NOT an option!!
(Thanks, Christi!)

I only have ONE big chemo left in December and then I'm on to the smaller ones! Yay!
It will be so nice to only spend around an hour at the clinic getting an IV of Herceptin every 3 weeks, instead of the 5-6 hours I currently do getting the Herceptin, Taxotere and Carboplatin.

I will also be getting the Herceptin and radiation at the Minnesota Oncology that's closer to my house. I will save about an hour in drive time each time.

There were still no signs of that pesky tumor or lymph node involvement. Take that, cancer!!
My levels where all in the normal range, so I was able to stay on schedule and get my 5th poisoning. :)

I'm anxiously awaiting my next PET scan to see what exactly is going on in this crazy body of mine and to see if the chemo is doing it's job.

My mom came with to keep me company. She was pleasantly surprised at how well most everyone looked and how the nurses and doctors seemed to really love their jobs.

Her father passed away many years ago from lung cancer. She has commented many times that I "don't smell like chemo." I think cancer treatments have come a long ways, thankfully.
I know she was really worried about what I would look and feel like during treatment, as was I.
Cancer treatment is NOT fun, but it's tolerable if you accept help.

I don't even know what chemo smells like and I have tons of it in me. I finally have my meds figured out and can usually stay on top of them to avoid excessive nausea and bone pain.
If I only knew then, what I know now!

On a sad note for me, I have officially gained 10 freaking pounds. The health freak in me tells me to get my ass to the gym and lay off the casseroles. My crazy (but smart) doctor tells me to bundle up and get outside and walk. She obviously lives in a warmer climate than me. It's cold as heck here! She absolutely doesn't want me at the gym or touching people now that we're in flu season.

Don't be surprised if my mom has the 'Do Not Enter' sign on the door a lot this winter. She really has our best interests at heart but if I had it my way, I would have a coffee date every single day.
We have had sick kids pretty much since school started. I'm really lucky that I have only needed two antibiotic rounds so far. I'm hopeful we can all stay healthy until at least after Thanksgiving.

I have some pics to share from today, but first, I'm BEGGING for a favor.
Two friends have emailed me in the last two weeks to ask for prayers for their nephews. One is three months old, the other only two months old. Both have been diagnosed with cancer.
I know that your prayers have really helped me. If you have an extra minute, could you please add Wesson, Zade and their loved ones to your prayers?

They will both be starting chemotherapy soon in South Dakota. I can only imagine what their families are feeling right now. Our prayers are essential right now for these little boys that are fighting for their lives.

With that, I want to thank you for the millions of prayers, cards, emails, texts, gifts and love that you have sent our way. I'm beyond blessed to have you all.

I know the posts aren't coming as quickly as they were, only because I don't have as much to report on. That's a good thing. Hang tight, though.... soon to come will be some fun surgery stories...and possibly pictures!! :)

my chipmunk cheeks
Mom and I
Dr. Hartung and I...she's freaking amazing!

Mom trying out the chemotherapy chairs. She wanted to smuggle one out of there. She was pretty excited by the heat and vibrating buttons.

I have my iPhone, iPad and planner...all set!

It's such a great feeling to rip off my scarves and wigs! I feel so FREEEEEE!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'm great!

My dad gets nervous when I don't blog for a few days. He says that it makes "my followers" worried. :)

To humor Dad, I thought I would check in and give you a little update. I've been a little MIA lately due to sick kids. It's a vicious cycle now that the kids are back in school.

I bounced back after this chemo much better than before. I was more tired this time, but the yucky feelings didn't last as long as usual. I have more energy and was able to spend a lot of time running around with my family. I hope that becomes par for the course for the next two. I have chemo again on Wednesday.
Three weeks flew by!

Currently, I feel awesome. I'm not sick. I'm not any more tired than before I was diagnosed.
I'm gaining weight, which for the first time in my life, is a good thing.
My Meal Train peeps and friends have kept me so well fed during this time. It has been sooo appreciated.

For you that aren't familiar, Meal Train is a website where you can organize meal drop offs for people in need. This can include new parents, illnesses, etc.

Mine was set up by my friends Shannon and Jill. People have jumped on board and brought food almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday since my treatments started.
It's truly amazing.

To not have to plan meals and grocery shop as often has been a blessing. We have received awesome meals and had a chance to chat with friends when they drop them off.
I can't thank you all enough.

If you know someone in need of some extra help, I strongly recommend starting a Meal Train for them.

Thanks for your love! <3

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It takes a long time to grow an old friend.

I have been blessed with fabulous friends.
Some are ones I have met since moving to Minnesota, some have been around for ages.
Some, I talk to rarely...but think about often. With all of them, we can pick up where we left off the last time we spoke.

One of my oldest and dearest friends is Kyra. Our friendship has lasted through moves, marriage, babies and more moves.
We got in lots of trouble together and have made tons of memories. She is one in a million.
Her smile is unforgettable and her laugh is contagious.
She's beautiful and I can only hope to some day be as good of a daughter, wife and mother as she is.

Somehow in the midst of another of her out of state moves; which involved living in a camper for over a month with her husband and three small children, she decided to make me a quilt.

She sent out material squares to some of our elementary and high school friends from Watertown, who are now living all over the U.S. She asked that they decorate the blocks and return them to her.

My mom returned yesterday after almost a month away and brought the quilt Kyra and our friends had made. What a surprise.
Upon seeing it, I had no words. The tears flowed.

All these wonderful people put so much time, thought and energy into making their squares perfect.

Kyra and her Grammy pieced it all together and Kyra sewed each stitch on her "little machine" herself. This was her first quilt, but I'm sure not her last. She's talented.

Thank you all for thinking of me and all of your support.
This gift from all of you means so much to me. My quilt will be displayed proudly.

Thanks to Kyra Wolkow, Betsy Hills, Dayna Semchenko, Tana Reihe, Jessica Aker, Stacy Sundine, Tera Oland, Toni Connors, Niki Waege, Laura Hejl, Nikki Sejnoha, Jenni Carter, Julie Krejchi, Melissa Meyer, Casey Schmidt, Tina Stemwedel, Steph Ziegeldorf, Marisa McDonald, Liza Wornson, Rachel Bindert, Christy Borseth, Tawnya Jensen, Rachel Hemke, Cori Meadows, Liz Dailey and Missy Soper.

Kyra, hard at work!

Kyra and Grammy

The Masterpiece!

I also received this awesome Scentsy warmer from Amy Moss. It has the breast cancer ribbon, along with Love, Life, Hope. It is beautiful! Scentsy has donated over $600,000 to the The National Breast Cancer Foundation. What a fabulous company! The bar Amy sent with it is called, "You Go, Girl." It smells so good. Now I understand everyone's obsession with Scentsy! If you're wanting to do some holiday shopping, this is Amy's Scentsy site. There are a ton of warmers and scents. I'm sure she would love to help you out. :)
Thank you, Amy!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Karsyn is 8 inches lighter.

My daughter got a little over eight inches of hair cut off today! We are so proud of her.

She has been talking about getting a drastic cut for a few months, so we began looking into hair donation programs. The thought of her being able to donate her hair to someone without any was super exciting to her....and us!

The program we chose is called Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

I took her to my hair stylist, Nikki. She is utterly fantastic and I knew she would do a great job with Karsyn's hair. She didn't disappoint.
Karsyn looks AMAZING!

Nikki also sent me home with a bag of ponytails that she had cut off previous clients and hadn't had a chance to send off yet.

I will be mailing them all off to Beautiful Lengths on Monday!






***Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society, the largest nonprofit health organization committed to saving lives from every cancer, in every community, and improving the quality of life for people facing the disease. The role of Pantene is to help women grow long, strong, beautiful hair and provide the funds to turn this hair into free, real-hair wigs for women with cancer. So far, Pantene has donated 18, 000 free real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks which distribute wigs to cancer patients across the country. We’re currently the country’s largest donor of real-hair wigs through the American Cancer Society. Because real-hair wigs are expensive, and many women with cancer can’t afford them, demand for these wigs is high. We can only create as many wigs as donations, so your part is critical to improving the lives of as many women as possible.

To be made into a wig, your hair must be:

At least 8 inches long (no maximum length)
- If you have wavy or curly hair, measure when straight
Free of permanent color, bleach or other chemical treatments such as Japanese straightening
- Vegetable dyes, semi-permanent dyes and rinses are acceptable, but “virgin” hair is preferred
No more than 5% gray

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wanna See My Lump?

When I was getting my needle guided biopsy done the day before I was officially diagnosed in August, I watched the procedure on the little tv monitor of the ultrasound screen.

All I could think about was how I used to be SO excited to get ultrasounds so I could see my little babies growing inside of me.

This time was so awful in comparison.

As I watched the needle go in, tears rolled down my face.
I was scared.
The nurse held my hand. As the needle came out, each time, the doctor shook his head.
I soon learned why.
What was supposed to be fluid, if my lump was only a cyst, was coming out as stringy pieces of tissue. I knew that couldn't be good.

I got dressed, joked around with the nurse a bit and went back to the consult room.
That's when my life changed.

Even though my tests would have to be sent off and results wouldn't be in until the next day, I knew.
The nurses knew.
I could tell they had been talking about me in the back room while I was waiting for the doctor to come speak with me.

About eight of them walked past my room and gave me 'the look'. One handed me a squishy pink cancer ribbon stress reliever. Seriously?
They looked so sad when they looked at me. It was the worst feeling.

That's the day I decided I would never give someone the look of pity that I was receiving.
I didn't want their pity. I wanted their eyes to tell me I was going to be okay.

I'll be honest, people with obvious cancer used to make me nervous.
I didn't know what to say to them or how to act. When I would see someone obviously in the midst of chemo treatments at Target, I would give them a sad smile and look away.
I didn't want them to think I didn't want to make contact, nor that I was staring. I was just uncomfortable.

I'll be honest again, I'm STILL uncomfortable around some cancer patients.
At chemo, many of the other patients are so much worse off than me. It puts things into perspective.
I almost feel guilty for wearing the fun wigs and watching movies while I get my poisons, because they can barely open their eyes.

As I ate lunch with my daughter today at school in full make up, heels and my fancy wig on, I had to smile because I knew I was fooling everyone.
No one, that didn't know my story already, would ever think I was fighting cancer.

It made me realize that there are probably a lot of people just like me walking around. They're not blatantly showing off their bald heads, but they're still fighting horrible diseases and hardships.

When a guy pulled out in front of me ten minutes after I left the school, instead of honking and calling him a jerkwad, I refrained...which is rare for me.
Maybe he's late for a doctor's appointment. Maybe he's just received some bad news. There are millions of maybes.

Bottom line, people usually aren't knowingly being inconsiderate asses. They may have a million other things going on and they're just trying to make it through the day.
While I don't think everyone should receive a pass all the time; Plato said it best. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 1 of Juicing!

I don't know why I got cancer. The only thing I know for certain is that I don't want it again.
I need to start living healthier.

Right now, my exercise routine is non-existant. There's not much I can do about that, but I CAN control the things I put in my body.

By feeling yucky from the meds, I have been eating whatever sounds good. Lately, that has been BBQ chips and Pepsi. Making healthy choices hasn't been a priority...until now.

Why am I fighting so hard to live if I'm just going become unhealthy on a whole other level?

I have to quit my pop habit. Aspartame is bad, food dyes are bad, processed foods are bad.... everything that tastes good is bad.

I'm going to strictly juice for the next 3 days. I will only consume raw, organic fruits and vegetables and tons of water. My juices will always contain at least 60% veggies and less fruit.

Vegetable juicing works because the enzyme rich raw juices are readily absorbed into our blood stream within minutes, requiring little digestive energy.
The vital nutrients flow straight to your Liver.

Cooking and processing food destroys these micronutrients by altering their shape and chemical composition. In this advanced nutritional level, you avoid all processed foods and eat only organic vegetables and fruits, unless not otherwise possible.

Virtually every health authority recommends that we get 6-8 servings of vegetables and fruits per day and very few of us actually get that. Juicing is an easy way to guarantee that you will reach your daily target for vegetables.

Juicing also helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. This is important because most of us have impaired digestion as a result of making less-than-optimal food choices over many years. This limits your body's ability to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. Juicing will help to "pre-digest" them for you.

So, there's my reasoning. There is no particular rules I'm following for this except liquids only. I want to detox from all the crap I've been eating. I want to feel better. I want to wean myself from all the bad sugars.
This is not for weight loss. Honestly, that's the least of my worries right now.

After that, I will still incorporate juices into my diet to get the recommended servings of vegetables. I hate eating veggies, but don't mind drinking them.

Damn, 3 days seems like forever.

My new juicer and tons of good stuff!

Ingredients for this morning's breakfast are celery, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cucumbers and a green apple :)

Juicing is amazing!

Breakfast of Champions...It was good!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kris Carr Rocks.

One of my favorite people in the cancer world is Kris Carr. She's an amazing author and wellness warrior.
In 2003, she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable stage 4 cancer. She is still rocking life beautifully.

Her goal is to deliver fun, inspiring brain cell-boosting education that will help you become the CEO of your health. How awesome is that!?

I saw this on her website yesterday and it made me want to start living better. She inspires me to want to change my old yucky habits.

Prepare to be inspired!

By Kris Carr on November 1, 2011
November is National Prevention Month (Because I Said So!)

Health Ambassadors,
Last week I decided to totally hijack the entire prevention movement and throw all chronic disease, shit pickles, emotional BS and dis-ease into one month of self-care awareness. We’re calling November “National Prevention Month” – for everything! I wrote about it in Friday’s newsletter, so check your inboxes and spam folders if you missed it.
In 1971 – the year I was born – President Nixon and Congress declared war on cancer. So what’s happened in the 40 years since? Not much. Today, the United States has the seventh highest cancer rate in the world. While heart disease is on a slight decline in the U.S., the cost to treat it is expected to triple by 2030. Around the globe, diabetes deaths will double between 2005-2030. By 2030, almost 23.6 million people will die from from heart disease and stroke. These are expected to remain the single leading causes of death.
Here’s the download that most of us missed: The majority of chronic diseases, including many cancers, are caused by diet, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors. Not just genetics. Actually, poor ole genetics often gets a bad rap. Enter … drumroll … epigenetics! The sexy science that teaches us that our genes are not always our destiny. We can actually have a predispostion for something and still avoid the trigger. And catch this, we can even change our DNA. Um, yeah, we’re that powerful.
What can you do to stack the odds in your favor to hopefully avoid an unwanted medical condition? Remember this very important snugget: Keep you inner eco-system as clean as possible. That’s right, you have rivers and lakes and sky on the inside. When you smoke and shout, eat dead foods and refuse to wean, finger your remote, cry on the inside, junk out on sugary crack, and slather chemicals on and around your body – you’re polluting the pristine environment that is you. If you’re a swamp on the inside, it’s time to cleanse the waters and get them moving again. Here’s how …
Eat LOTS of plants, less animals, real food, nothing fake, move your assets, dial down stress, breeeathe, don’t smoke (it will rob your beauty and your life), build a contemplative practice, love more than you hate, forgive (yourself), pray like you give a damn, take fun seriously, burn your to-do list, say no to other peoples “you-do” lists, dump stuff, make memories, poop, poop, poop, drink your holy green juice, take supplements based on what your blood work suggests ya need, pet your pet, smile like a child, live like it’s the first day of the rest of your life and it’s so delish that you can’t wait for another!
There is only one lasting cure … and it’s prevention. And it’s up to us to set an example, teach our children, and lead the way to health, spiritual wealth, and happiness through personal action. Prevention rocks!
If you’re on board, then join me and spend the next 30 days focusing on self-care. Do it for yourself, do it for the broken sickcare system and do it for the next generation. This is a movement, my friends. We need numbers. We need you. Share this post with your friends. Talk about it on Facebook and twitter. Make prevention trend! Wanna? Use the hashtag #preventionrocks
And if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, get on it! From here on out, I’ll be writing a lot more about my personal thoughts and reflections there.