Friday, March 30, 2012


I'm done with 33 radiation treatments and have a certificate to prove it!

No more early morning drives to downtown Minneapolis every day. No more radiation burns.
No more wearing mesh bras, half a tube of jelly and gauze pads daily.
It's so surreal.

I can wholeheartedly say, without a doubt, that I was VERY unprepared for what radiation would be like.
Most people have a tough time with chemo and breeze through radiation.
I was the exact opposite.
I tolerated chemo pretty well, but radiation was pretty tough.
Thankfully, it's done.

I will miss the quiet time in the car every morning. I have to admit that I really liked the 6.5 weeks of leaving the house as everyone was just waking up. I didn't have to get anyone dressed, fed or drive anyone to school during that entire period. I felt like a Dad. ;)
It was a great time to just think, pray, cry and sing....usually in that order.

I am done with everything at the Radiation Center. I don't even have to come back for a skin check. Here's the final damage. Not too shabby, I suppose.

I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon on Monday to get my other boob filled back up to what it was before.
After that, I just hang out for 6 months until I have my exchange surgery.

It's crazy to me that I will start having 1-2 appointments per month, instead of 1-2 per day.
I don't get "the look" as much anymore from people. My hair has filled in so much that I look more like a ginger q-tip than a cancer patient. I had forgotten how good it felt to go and not worry who was staring or whispering.

I knew when this started that people might bail. It's hard to see cancer. It's hard to be supportive continually. It's draining on everyone.
Nothing made me happier than to see my facebook page today.
All of the comments, "likes" and sharing of this blog was so humbling.
99.5% of the people I started with are still here. They are more supportive than when we started this journey. They have NEVER left my side. I will never be able to show you all how much I appreciate you. Just know, I love you to pieces.

Onto random thoughts, Eric took this pic of me tonight. I'm tired, pasty and makeup-less; but check out that mop! :) I can't believe I'm posting this. I'll take a better pic tomorrow.

Have I showed you MiCal yet? If not, I got the coolest gift basket from my great friends, Cal and Michelle. In the package, along with a ton of awesome stuff (i.e. booze), was this chia pet thing. I freaking love it. I named her MiCal, for obvious reasons. I have been watering her religiously. It's safe to say that I'm kicking her ass in the hair growing race.
How cute is she?!?

One more random thing. How long should helium balloons last?
My friend, Kyra, sent me these balloons with an Edible Arrangements fruit bouquet right after my surgery on January 5th.
They have rockstar fruit there and obviously, helium.
Today is March 30. The smiley balloon just finally drooped today. The other 2 are still floating away. Next week will be 3 friggen months that those balloons have been hanging on.
Should I be calling Guiness Records or NASA?

Take care, my friends!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 29

I have one day of radiation left and I couldn't be happier.
My "class" of radiation friends are already gone. I was the only one who had to take a break in the middle of treatment.

Because of that, I was able to meet a new patient in the new group yesterday.
She was around 40 and looked scared as hell. She told me that she was having a spot in her shoulder/back radiated and that because of the range of the lasers, she was having a hard time swallowing.

I'm nosy and I asked more questions. She said that 5 weeks ago, she was diagnosed with a mass in her back. It turns out that she had undiagnosed breast cancer, for who knows how long, and it had metastisized to her bones.
The only thing I could say was, " you're stage 4 already."
She nodded and told me that this last month has been a whirlwind.

The statistics show that her chances of being alive 5 years from now are a little less than 20%.

I cannot even imagine. I tried to reassure her that the statistics don't matter as much as your attitude. I hope she fights.

I am so grateful, once again, that I found my lump. This woman could have been me.
I'm so sad that this is happening to her and so many others.
I hate cancer so fucking much.

This is one of those times where I wish women were proactively offered mammograms at an earlier age. If she would have found her breast cancer a few years ago, her prognosis would be better.

On to happier things....
I'm off to appreciate the sun with my littles!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Friendly Reminder

It's that time again....check your boobs! Seriously, you should do it.
Breast cancer comes in soooo many different forms and symptoms can come out of nowhere.
Know your bodies!

Please click this picture to make it bigger. It's a good reminder of what to look and feel for. I know I always learn better when food is involved.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Skin Check

I met with Dr. Sullivan today again. She is extremely happy with how well my skin is healing, as am I. I have only about 1-2 inches that is still an open wound.

Apparently, the doctors in the office have been discussing me at their weekly meeting. They think the reason that my skin broke down so fast is because I started radiation so soon after my surgery and my expanders had been filled so fast.

While my body was rapidly making cells for my new breast skin, the radiation was treating my new skin as dividing cancer cells and zapping it.

Both my body and the radiation were doing exactly what they should have been doing. Too bad it was such a grueling process.

I now have 7 sessions left. I'm so excited to be done!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thank God for Unanswered Prayers

Too often, I start feeling sorry for myself and am quickly put in my place by God.

I was so bummed last week when the doctor put my treatment on hold. I was exhausted. I wasn't making it through the day without a nap and was still going to bed when it was barely dark each night. I was eating like crap. I had no energy.

I prayed and prayed that God would keep my skin in tact long enough to get through ten more treatments so I could just be done.
I prayed that He would give me the energy to get out of bed each day to get to radiation and to power through each afternoon so my kids could stay on their semi-normal schedules.

I'm not going to lie. Wednesday, I was pissed. I was sent home again from the hospital and told that my body needed the full seven days to heal. I was pissed at God for not listening. I was pissed at my body for failing me once again. I was in a tired, overly emotional state. It was ugly.

Fast forward four days and I feel fan-freaking-tastic. Seriously.
My "big giant boob" has healed so much in just a week. It's now at the gross peeling stage, but is bleeding much less. The break was EXACTLY what I needed. So, I'm going to finish rads a week later than previously what?

During my days off, my lovely husband let me sleep in every morning. That man's a gem. I made it through every day without a nap.
Together, we tackled a few projects this weekend and spent a lot of time together playing outside with the kids.

My dad unexpectedly came to visit on Saturday. He couldn't have come at a better time.
We love him so much and wish he would come see us more often. (hint, hint) :)

We even pulled out those dusty party pants and made it to TWO St. Patrick's Day parties. My poor liver.

I feel so much better and I'm actually excited to get back to radiation tomorrow to finish this out.

God proves time and time again that I need to get over myself and just be patient.
He is amazing and His timing is perfect!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Good News and Not So Great News

The CT scan results came back today and my shoulder is normal. Yay!
I was pretty nervous at possibly needing surgery on it, so this is great news.
Unfortunately, it still hurts like hell so I'm stuck again with no real immediate fix.
Dr. Kruse is still considering my issue to be Bursitis and is recommending physical therapy.

Because of my mastectomy and lymph node removal on that side, I have stopped using my left arm and hand as much. My range of motion is pretty poor. It's possible that I have a frozen shoulder, so hopefully, it will feel better once I work on getting my range back.

I went to radiation this morning at 7:30 am only to be sent back home. My skin looks terrible so I wasn't surprised.
I am on another break until Monday. At that point, she says I can go straight through until the end.
She also put me on an oral antibiotic so I can try to avoid an infection while my skin is open.

My skin looks so awful now that I won't even post a picture.
At first, my boob looked like it went to Hawaii without me. Now, it looks like it sat on a campfire. The part that isn't burnt to a crisp looks like it received road rash.

I asked if we could just up my pain meds and continue this week, but I was quickly shot down.
Dr. Sullivan said the issue right now is that I have literally no more skin to lose.
If the burn goes any deeper, I'm at risk for not having enough skin left to do my implants.

I can't think of anything worse than having my real boobs removed, having horrible expanders put in, having immense pain from radiation and then after all that, not being able to get decent replacement boobs.

Eric wants me to stop treatments. He hates this. He cringes when he looks at it. This is one of the few things about cancer that I can tell REALLY bothers him. I can't stop though. I have made it 2/3 of the way already. I just need to finish this out.

So....until further notice, I will be home gooping and wrapping my "big, giant boob," as Chase calls it.
Hopefully, this break will be just what my body needs to get me through until the end.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Well, that was embarrassing....

I went in today for a Joint Arthrogram and CT scan on my bum shoulder.
Unfortunately, the cortisone shot that I got two weeks ago has given me little relief.

I was injected in the shoulder with dye and then sent in for the scan to see if there are any tears.
As I walked in, I remember thinking, this machine looks a lot like my radiation machine.

I was making small talk with the techs and soon they both started yelling, "Woah, woah, woah!"
I sat up on the table and just looked at them like a deer in the headlights.

The first tech starts laughing and says, "We're just doing a shoulder exam. You can keep your clothes on!"

Apparently, I am so used to taking my shirt off for radiation every morning that I walked in, whipped off my shirt and positioned myself on the table.

The techs looked a little embarrassed as I proceeded to get dressed so they could do their job.
It makes me giggle just thinking about the looks on their faces. Good times.

I should have results on Wednesday afternoon.
I had the techs make me a CD of the scan so I can try to self diagnose myself before the follow up appointment.
Hopefully, it's nothing. If it's something, hopefully it's easily fixed.

Take care, my friends!

Friday, March 9, 2012

I'm not surprised.

I was hoping to duck out after radiation today without running into Dr Sullivan. Unfortunately, (fortunately, maybe?) she called the techs and told them to call her when I was about done so she could come check my skin.

I'm officially taking a little break from treatment. She wanted me to take a break until next Thursday. I compromised by telling her I would see her Wednesday. She agreed.

Because of how broken down my skin is, we are going to do the remainder of my sessions without the bolus and hope that does the trick. The last week of radiation is called boost radiation and it targets the incision.
Because that's where my main issue is, she has no idea how this is going to work.
We'll watch it closely.

To say that I'm bummed is an understatement. Even though it's just a few days, it's still a delay.
There's a reason that radiation is scheduled 5x per week for 6.5 weeks. Obviously, that is what has proven most effective.
For once, I just wish something would go as expected. I know this is best for my body but I just wish that I could have made it through as planned. I'm disappointed.

I'm also a little nervous that my "final boob" is going to be a train wreck because radiation has been so hard on my skin. The plastic surgeon will only be able to do so much.

It itches, it burns, and now, it bleeds.

I have finished 23 of 33 treatments.
There's an end in sight, but a few hurdles along the way. A few prayers for healing would be appreciated!

Are these pictures grossing you out yet?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I had another skin check this morning. More of my skin along my incision is breaking down.
Dr. Sullivan told me that I have one more layer of skin to lose before I will be in intense pain. We can't let it get to that point.

She thinks that with daily wrapping, I might make it until Wednesday before needing the treatment break.
I'm going to think positively and hope my skin regenerates by then and the break is unnecessary.

I'm tired and soooo over this.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Update on Skin Changes

Here I am. I have 15 treatments left.
So far, it's just peely gross. It bleeds here and there but the pain isn't too bad.
I am using every cream, oil and lotion under the sun.
This is, unfortunately, what just happens sometimes.
The formed bolus that they use on me every time is what makes the treatment fry my skin so much. The purpose of the bolus is to keep the treatments closer to the surface of the skin.

It's becoming pretty hard to disguise the redness. It peeks out of almost all of my shirts. I also have stickers that I have to leave on throughout my whole treatment. The one here looks like a bullseye.
I wear this HOPE necklace, from Rustic Charm, to distract people from the sticker. :)

Here's a close up of the nastiness.

Here's my back. Part of it is exit burns, part of it is from actual radiation. They do one shot at my lymph nodes through my shoulder every day. My back is the scaliest of all. It is peeling and feels like I've been sunburned to a crisp. Now I can't sleep on my sides because of my expanders or my back because I'm fried. Good times, my friends. :)

All in all, this is a major pain in the ass....but it's not that bad.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Prayer Warriors Needed

You have all done such an awesome job keeping me in your prayers. You are true prayer warriors and I know that you all, with God's help, can move mountains.

I have asked before, but I know you won't mind me asking again. Two families close to me are being touched deeply by cancer and they need our prayers desperately.

There are two sweet boys who need your prayers more than anything. Their little bodies are weak and they and their families are exhausted.

God has placed them so heavily on my heart that I can't seem to do much but think of them lately.
They are both fighting rare and very aggressive cancers.

Wesson is six months old and has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Zade is almost seven months old and has infantile sarcoma. They were both diagnosed with cancer at around three months old, when their lives had barely begun.

Wesson was transferred from South Dakota to St. Judes in Memphis, TN recently. He is currently undergoing a research protocol in order to get him well enough for a much needed bone marrow transplant.

Zade is currently being treated in Sioux Falls, SD. He had a clear CT scan this week (YAY!) but has been experiencing dipping oxygen levels for reasons that are currently unknown.

They have both undergone the hell of chemotherapy.

They need answers and they need miracles.

Please pray for the continued strength for these amazing little boys and for their families, who are fighting this battle right along with them.



While I was writing this post, I received word from a good friend that her father had passed away this afternoon due to a heart attack. I'm sure Sharon could use some extra prayers right now also.

Thanks for your time and love.