Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Bald, The Boobless, and The Beautiful

This post is dedicated to my BFF, Lauren who shaved her head just for me!  Who could ask for more?  These photos were taken at Lauren's sister's hair cutting place.  I have to say, Lauren rocks the look!  She is the "Beautiful" in this post title.  I love you, my beautiful, wonderful, amazing friend.  Thanks for being there for me!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Do you know what the best medicine is?

This was the question my five-year-old asked me a couple of nights ago.  She came bounding into the room and stood in front of me and asked me, "Do you know what the best medicine is, Mommy?"  I said, "no, my dear, what is the best medicine?"  Then she gave me a hug and said, "Love, Mommy.  Love is the best medicine!"  Then she hugged me again and said, "I just love you so much, Mommy!"

That little conversation made my whole day.  It's amazing how kids can squeeze your heart strings like that and make you feel like a million bucks!

So, this blog post is dedicated to my wonderful, darling, five-year-old (going on twenty!)  You, my precious, little princess, are the twinkle in my eye, the butter on my toast, the sunshine on my shoulder, and the breath in my lungs.  You make my sad days happy and my hard days worth every moment!  I love you to the moon, past the sun, past the stars, and to infinity and beyond!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Welcome to my new blog

Hello All!  I have decided to start a new blog about my journey with my cancer diagnosis.  As most of you know, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In-situ) and Invasive Breast Cancer in my right breast in September, 2012.  This was devastating news and upturned my family's and friends' worlds.  Upon receiving this news, I underwent a shock very similar to what I experienced when my oldest brother was killed in a freak accident in May of 1997.  For a long time it was really hard to wrap my head around the thought of having cancer.  Before my diagnosis, there was no history of breast cancer in my family and it wasn't anything I was ever worried about getting.  I later learned that 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer had no history of it in their families.  This nasty disease can pretty much happen to anyone, and from what I am reading about, a lot of studies link it to certain foods, and to having children at an older age (I was 29 when I had my first child.)  I would suggest to any woman who had their first child in their late 20's or older to get a mammogram, even if you are not 40 yet.

Even though both of my breasts were removed and no cancer was found outside the breasts or in the lymph nodes, due to the aggressive type of cancer found in my right breast and because I tested positive for a protein called Her2-Neu (this was attached to the cancer cells), my doctors suggested that I have 6 bouts of chemo along with a year of infusions of Herceptin (for the Her2-Neu).  I have to go in every three weeks for 4 1/2 months for the chemo and each session lasts 3 hours long.  For the Herceptin infusions I have to go in every week for a year and those sessions will last 1 hour.  I will lose my hair a couple of weeks after my first chemo session.  I may experience the other side effects (nausea, vomiting, super sore mouth, etc.) and I may not.  Some people go through chemo with hardly any side effects, while others are sick as a dog the whole time.  I have no idea how I will react and I am a bit apprehensive.  I thought I was okay with losing my hair because I've had such a love-hate relationship with my hair, but now as chemo approaches I'm starting to freak out.  My daughter isn't taking it well, either.  She is afraid she won't recognize me.  I told her I will look the same, I just won't have any hair.  I don't look forward to picking out a wig.  I originally didn't want to even deal with wigs, but with Amaia being so concerned, I will probably be getting one.

I need to give a huge shout-out of thanks to the many people (friends, family, and church members) who have reached out to my little family to help out.  I've received such a massive outpouring of love, support and encouragement.  So many people have helped with either watching kids, providing meals, visiting me, calling me, emailing me, sending letters.  It is overwhelming and I have never felt more loved in my life.

I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone, but I do have to say that there are some positive things that have come from this crisis.  For one thing it has helped me realize that I have been taking a lot of things for granted:  my family, my friends, my general health, my hair, my breasts (oh, how I miss those girls!), my ability to do simple things like bathe myself, my relationship with God and His son, Jesus Christ, and my every breath of life.  I believe that things happen to us in this life for a reason.  I am just beginning to understand why cancer has invaded my life, but the biggest thing I've learned is just how much the Lord, my family, friends, and even my acquaintances love me.  It is very humbling and comforting at the same time.

I am eternally grateful to everyone who has reached out to me and my family.  Thank you, thank you, thank you-I can't say it enough.  I look forward to when I can turn around and do the same for others.  My newest desire is to get healthy enough so that I can be an advocate and support for other women who are suffering from this disease.

I have lots of info on breast cancer that I am learning and in time I will post what I have learned and share these things with everyone.  In the meantime to all my woman friends and family:  please be sure to do your monthly breast exams-it's such a simple, quick thing and it could save your life.  For my sisters, their daughters and my brothers' daughters:  please get your mammograms by the time you are 25.  To everyone:  please take your health seriously.  Even if you don't care about your own bodies, you have a multitude of people who would be devastated if anything happened to you.  This life is a gift, don't take it for granted.  Live each day to the fullest and be grateful for even the smallest blessing, like having breasts or hair.  I love you all and send smiles, hugs, and kisses your way.  If you haven't smiled today, do it right now, you'll feel better no matter what your mood is (at least smile once for me!)