Hello again...

I had treatment again last week. I also met with the doctor to see what he thought of my spine MRI's, and here is the deal. The cancer was in my spine at the T3 level, and I have a compression deformity at T11. They think the L4-5, L5-S1 is just degenerative disk disease, and while a handle a lot of claims for that at work, I was actually excited to hear that is what I had...beats cancer! Anyway, I do have to think about the area at T3, and as far as I understand it (which isn't saying a lot), when there is cancer that has spread to the bone, these spots can then fill in with either Osteoblastic material (in prostate cancer and in about 20% of breast cancer) or Osteolytic material (as in most breast cancer cases). The Zometa that my doctor was considering putting me on, helps in the cases of osteolytic lesions,because they are weaker tissue and the med helps strengthen the bone in that area...well, I am not like most cases, and mine has filled in with the hard, sclerotic, blastic tissue, so there is really nothing they can do for that at this time. I could go on the Zometa anyway, for the "potential" benefits for the breast cancer alone, but it isn't going to help my spine, and the side effects can suck, so...since the cancer is stable, we have decided to keep on the track we are already on, and hold off on adding anything new. He also did a manual exam of my breast and the area that I had lymphnode involvement due to some of my own paranoia, but he did not think he felt any chenges, so that is good.
On a different front, I contune to run. There is new research out every day on the benefits of running/exercise, and I more than anythhing, I think it helps my mental state to run. I am running between 3-5 miles 3 to 5 times a week depending what is going on! With the holidays and the kids' activities, it is sometimes hard to get everything do! I am hosting Christmas Eve at my house tonight with my side of the family, so that is keeping us busy! Dan and the kids just left, Dan thought that taking the kids shopping on Christmas Eve was less stressful than being around me while I am cleaning...now, I have been shopping with my children in the last couple of weeks and it is not pretty...I wonder what he is trying to tell me?!?!
I hope you all have a very Happy Holiday Season! No matter what holiday it is that you are celebrating, don't forget to take a break from your shopping or crazed cleaning (in my case) to enjoy the time that you have with your family and friends...I am going to go finish picking up, and when the boys get back, I think I will call it good and get started on the Gingerbread house we have been meaning to make! No time like the present! Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself.
What am I thankful for?!?! I am thankful for a loving family and children, several great groups of friends, loving teachers to care for my children (and no, I have not forgotten our previous rockstar teachers!), baking cookies with friends (okay, all I did was decorate), and no drip windex!
Much Love,


A time to be Thankful!

Well, it is getting to that time of the year where there is something going on every night, with holiday parties, children's programs, holiday shopping, and visits to see Santa. The past couple weeks have been pretty busy in our household. Two weeks ago I was sick for an entire week with 102-103 degree fever, and this week I had treatment on Tuesday and, of course, it was Thanksgiving.
This was my first time being sick since chemo, and I have found, that after being in chemo, getting sick is much scarier than one would expect. I laid on the couch miserable for 5 days, refusing to lay in my nice, comfortable bed, because that is where I was chemo sick, and I refused to feel chemo sick. It was like a terrible flashback. I had to keep reminding myself that this was not cancer, and I would be fine in a couple of days, however, what my mind was telling me was being completely overridden by the fear in my heart. This fear and sadness was compounded by my oldest son asking me if my bad cells had come back, and if I was going to have to go to the doctor all the time, again. I hate for my children to see me sick now, no matter what it is. I don't want their memories of me to be me stuck on the couch sick all the time.
I went to treatment by myself this last Tuesday, which was nice for me because I like to ride up there with my music blasting, singing like a rockstar (which, I might be, but I don't sing in front of anyone, so you would just never know). It also gives me a chance to get some reading done as the Herceptin, ie. liquid gold, drips into my veins. My doctor was a little shocked to see me there alone, given my history of bringing someone new every time I go. It has been a running joke with them.
I got the results back from my MUGA scan. My ejection fraction (which indicates heart functioning) had dropped from 79% to 70%. This initially scared me a little because 55% is as low as they will let it go before they take me off of the Herceptin. I figured if my EF dropped by 9% every 5 months, I might not be on this too long, and this is the stuff that is saving my life! But...my doctor said that 70% is very normal, and that 79% was actually pretty high, and he thinks that I was just nervous when they did my baseline MUGA. This is entirely possible given the fact that it took 5 tries for them to successfully thread my IV that day and they blew a vein in the process.
They also did lab work on Tuesday, and my blood counts were low, so they gave me a shot of Arnesp to boost my red blood cell production.
We did not start the Zometa yet. My doctor wants to get an MRI of my spine to see exactly how the bone is healing back in where the cancer once was. Since my bone density testing was normal, he thinks that if the bones are healing back in fairly normally, then he is not sure whether or not he wants to start me on Zometa or not. He indicated that there are some pretty sucky side effects, and he wants to strike a balance between being aggressive with my treatment and not making me miserable with treatment side effects. So, I am going back to the hospital in a week and a half to have a full spine MRI, and then the following week, which is my normal treatment week, we will decide whether or not to start the Zometa.
Other than that, treatment went pretty well.
As far as the rest of my life, we had a beautiful, organic, free-range, Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws, and spent a lot of time with friends in our neighborhood. We put up Christmas lights and decorated the tree, and I got some running in.
What am I thankful for?!?! I am thankful to be in that time of the year when everyone else takes that time to examine their life and what they are thankful for. I think it is so important to reflect on the year and look past all the mildly annoying and painfully difficult times, and place emphasis on the people and the things in your life that make you happy and bless you each and every day. The top things on my list are: my family(immediate and extended), my friends (immediate and extended), my current fairly good state of health, the health of my children, my doggy, my beautiful home that I had the privilege of designing with my dad (which is incredibly special to me), twinkling christmas lights, my running shoes, and the fabulous weather that we had today!


From Pink Bunnies to Pink Ladies!

The past week has been everything from turbulent, to fabulous, to touching, to frightening, to just plain stunning...

Turbulence: I went through most of the past week with friends in turmoil, whether that be with me, with each other, or within their own lives separate from me. So, as is my nature, I spent a lot of time worrying about them and why everyone can't just get along (...and if ya need a little prozac to do that, well by all means let me refer you!) I am so thankful for the relationships that I have with my friends and family and I love them all, in all their grandeur.

Fabulous: I was able to spend a lot of time with my old neighbors and their families, as well as my brother-and sister-in-law, and some old friends from high school, as we made our tour of costume parties on Saturday. While I looked quite ridiculous in my costume, it was kind of fun to dress up and pretend to be someone else for awhile.

Touching: Sunday was our Making Strides walk. We had about 48 people on our team, if you count everyone who purchased t-shirts for the event. Unfortunately, we had a few that were unable to make it for one reason or another, but were definitely there in spirit! We had 9 of us that wore pink wigs, a couple with pink boas, and lots of other assorted pink wear. We caused quite a scene and apparently a few of us made it on to a 3 sec. blip on the news, but I have yet to see that. Most of all, we raised money and awareness for breast cancer research and treatment, and gave HOPE to those of us who are still in the thick of "surviving". I can't even begin to explain how touching it is to know that I have friends, and lots of them, that are willing to go walk 5 miles for me...and a supervisor/friend so FABULOUS that he provided "tailgate refreshments" at the end of the walk for the team!! Go TMARYMOONERS!!!!

Frightening: Apart from it being Halloween on Monday and chasing two little Ghouls around the neighborhood, I started to get nervous about the scans that I was having today. I know that their is no sense in fretting and that a positive attitude can take you a long way, but it is hard to get rid of that little nagging "what if" in the back of ones mind. Especially when it is in your nature to be prepared for whatever is to come, be it good, bad, or indifferent.

Stunning: Today was just that. I went in for my 3 months post treatment scans. And after drinking 3 glasses of CT contrast, having blood drawn, an IV threaded, beams of radiation shown through me, and radioactive material injected into my veins and pumped through my blood stream, I saw my doctor. And what did he say??? (Really, is that what you have read through this whole blog to find out?!?!) He said... that I do not have any new areas of concern and that my cancer is stable. Stable in that the liver looks unchanged, with one tiny "spot" that may or may not be malignant that is unchanged from the previous CT scan. It is so small that a needle biopsy would not even be possible, and if it did prove to be malignant would not change my course of treatment. As for my breast, they did not see any tumors on my chest CT. All of that... that was good news! It means that what I thought I had is still gone, at least as gone as it has ever been. That means that even without the chemo, and with just Herceptin, I am kicking some cancer @ss! Now, here comes the interesting part. Remember back in the beginning, when they thought that I had cancer in my bones? Well, they did follow up x-rays and determined that is was probably not cancer and if it was cancer, it was very minuet and was not creating damage to my bones. Well, it has now been established that the bone cancer, no not bone cancer, was actually.... bone cancer. HOWEVER, what I thought I had and then thought I didn't have, and now know I did have, is now GONE!!! You just don't know what you got until it's gone, do you?! Sometimes, I think that might be a good thing. It turns out that on my latest scans, they can see that the changes noted in my bone on previous scans are now healing in with new bone material. Since degenerative changes do not do that, they know that the treatment has "improved" my condition (for lack of a better way of explaining it) and therefore, the spots were cancerous. I guess maybe a higher power was noticing the the breast cancer with liver AND bone mets was a little too much for me to handle in one sitting, so he took the information back, and gave it to me now, after the treatment had it under control, to kind of "soften" the blow. I do appreciate that! And, I do feel better equipped to handle it now.

So, what does this mean for the future? It means that I will be having a bone density test tomorrow, and if all goes well and the results show that I can handle the treatment that I will need to protect my bones, I will be started on another IV drug called Zometa. I will take this every 3 weeks as I have been taking the Herceptin. There do not appear to be any significant side effects, and it will only change life as I know it by adding 15-30 minutes to my IV drip every three weeks. A small price to pay for LIFE!

What am I thankful for?! Hugs(as always), smiles on children's faces, trick-or-treating, and the feel of the fresh autumn air!


Beware of Pink Bunnies!

Well, I think the anxiety of my upcoming scans has kicked into full gear now. I don't really feel nervous during the day, and haven't been consciously thinking about it too much, but at night I am having the hardest time getting to sleep, and when I do fall asleep I am having all sorts of nightmares. I don't know if it is all the PINK stuff that is out there right now for Breast Cancer Awareness month that is making me crazy or what, but about a week ago I had a dream (nightmare) that Dan had to wake me from, because apparently my tossing and turning had startled him. I was dreaming that I was walking through a field alone, and it was dark. There were broken down barns on each side of me....all of a sudden.... men dressed in pink bunny costumes (yes, the Easter bunny kind) jumped out at me and just started screaming like maniacs. They were not saying anything....just screaming. That is when I tried to scream but no sound would come out, and it was in that fit of terror that Dan woke me up to see if I was okay! Now, I am no psychologist, but generally pink bunnies are not what nightmares are made of!!! Seriously, had Dan not woke me up, they may have stoned me with Easter eggs or forced me to eat chocolate, or some other horrible fate!
Breast Cancer Awareness month is becoming quite the month, with sales of everything from ink pens, bagels, diamond necklaces, and even pink kitchen appliances going to breast cancer research! I love it, because I know that the money that is made from the sales of all these things could lead to a cure in my lifetime, or at least lead to more advanced drugs that will make "my lifetime" longer and longer! HOWEVER, all his pink "stuff" makes it a little hard to forget about what I am going through. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and not being reminded of my cancer is a blessing as well! I think about it enough as it is! Just think about it, if you logged on to my BLOG, then you were thinking about it, which means you probably think about my cancer every now and then, and I....I think about it every time I get up in the morning and wash my hair with special shampoo to help my hair grow back in thicker from the thinning it did during chemo, every time I make a pot of green tea in the a.m. to drink throughout the day because of the health benefits and the fact that it makes my mother happy, every time I put food into my mouth because of my special "fight cancer diet", every time my kids say something about the future (like "when you are a grandma will you..." or "when I get married will you..."), and every time I get out there and run, because as Melissa Etheridge says in her new song, "I Run for Life"! I also think about my cancer every time I see the scar and lump over my heart when my chemo port is, every time I go to the doctor, every time I look into the eyes of my parents and see their worry, and every single time I see something PINK! Damn, I really don't know when I get anything done! Oh, and that new song from Melissa Etheridge is definitely worth a listen. It means a lot to me, and it sure does say a lot in not too many words (much unlike this Blog which seems to be getting pretty long, and I still have two more things to cover yet!)
I received an e-mail from a breast cancer website that I belong to that indicated that Kodak was wanting some photos of breast cancer survivors for an upcoming commercial. So, I sent in a couple of pics, and they chose a picture of me holding my godson. It is a picture of me shortly after I cut my hair really short in anticipation of chemotherapy. I believe it was only a few days after I had my port surgery. I believe the commercial is going to show lots of photos of women in their everyday lives, and then at the end of the commercial they are going to note that all the women you just saw are breast cancer survivors. Last I heard, my pic was going to be used, but I have not heard back from them since I faxed in my model release forms! HAHAHA, "model release forms"!! ?? That cracked me up too! I was a little disappointed that they did not use the picture of me with my kiddos, but I feel like my Godson and I share some odd bond, because at exactly the same time as I was walking out of the hospital from my breast biopsy my friend was walking into that very same hospital in labor with this precious little soul! I have no idea when or where, but if you happen to see a Kodak commercial with breast cancer survivors, look for me holding a gorgeous little baby boy, and drop me a line, too, because I would like to see it as well. I guess my hopes to give a face to YOUNG women with breast cancer might come true, even if it is a tiny pic on TV for a millisecond!!! =)
I went to a breast cancer survivors luncheon last week, and I can tell you, young people with breast cancer are hard to find. That luncheon looked more like a "How to cope with Menopause" or maybe even more like an "AARP" meeting for women. I was by FAR the youngest in the crowd! But, it was nice to be among others who know, somewhat, what I am going through. It is kind of comforting.
What am I thankful for?!?! Hot-tubbing under the stars, great friends and family, and now that it is getting colder out...my fleece monkey jammies!!!


Where have you all been?

Sorry I have not BLOGGED for awhile! It has been a busy return to the school year with the kids having many activities!!! Since my last blog I went to my third and final counseling appointment. I found that the first two visits were helpful as I was in "crisis" situations at the time, but since then, things have been rolling along pretty smoothly. I have busied myself with things that are important to me....spending time with my family, starting a new running program, and fundraising for cancer research. For the most part, she pretty much was just affirming that I had things pretty together...have you met me?!? Maybe I needed a different counselor! But in all honesty, I think I do have things pretty together, and when I don't, I have you all to put me back together pretty well!
Last weekend a great friend and I did the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K run/walk. It was a lot of fun. They had a record 11,000 participants!! It was an amazing sight!!!
At the end of the month I will be participating in the Making Strides 5 mile walk for Breast Cancer Research and Support! This is put on by the American Cancer Society. I have 41 walkers on my team!! What a crew!
Today I had Herceptin treatment. My doctor did a manual exam of my breast and doesn't feel any changes, so that is a good sign that the Herceptin is working! On my next appt, November 1st, they will be doing CT scans of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis to make sure that there are no changes elsewhere, and to make sure that the spots in my liver have not returned. I will get the results of my scans on that same day. My lab results were good today, and my liver function tests were normal!
With as busy as things have been, chances are that I will not be blogging again until after that appt. So, at that time, I will update you all on the scan results and how the 5 mile walk went! If anything interesting happens in the meantime, I will let you all know, but right now life is pretty NORMAL! (as normal as it can be for an abnormal girl like me!)
What am I thankful for?! Everything. I am thankful for yesterday and I am thankful for today. I am thankful for the opportunities that I have had to help others, and I am thankful for all of the help that I have received thus far from others. I am thankful for those that still wear pink bands on their wrists to promote awareness and to support me, and I am thankful for the health that I have right now and the health that you all have! xoxo


Second Opinion.

I went in today for a second opinion with a breast cancer specialist, who is also a leading MD in high dose chemo/stem cell transplants.
She was very straight forward with me. She said that she had reviewed my case, and indicated that she did not believe that a stem cell transplant was a good option for me. She indicated that she has done 200+ stem cell transplants on individuals with metastatic cancer over the last 9-10 years, and of those, 5 individuals were still living in 2004. She indicated that of those 5, all but one of them had had a recurrence during that time and required chemotherapy. She believes that the stem cell transplant did get them a longer period of time without any kind of treatment, but does not necessarily think that it was prolonging their life. She said that they likely could have all been placed on chemo again and been maintained on that type of treatment and had the same outcome. She said that since we can not expect a cure in my case, that to go through about 100 days of poor quality of life from the treatment would, in her opinion, not be a great option.
I asked her about whether or not she felt that a mastectomy was a good idea. She indicated that she did not necessary think that there was anything to gain from having the surgery, and also indicated that keeping the breast was going to help make recurrences more quickly identifiable, therefore allowing for treatment sooner.
I asked her about whether or not having my ovaries removed or radiated would be helpful, since my tumor is 26% Estrogen receptive. She said that I could do that, but felt that taking an oral agent to counter the hormones would be as effective. She said that she believes that the chemo will eventually put me into menopause anyway, so it will not really be an issue anyway.
I also asked her about experimental trials, and if I should look into them. She said that right now that would not be an option for me because I have no measurable disease, but that when I am in a recurrence I could look into that. She said that when the time comes, I should look at third stage trials because they were promising enough in the first two trials to actually make it to a third trial, and that is a good sign. She did not know of any exciting third stage trials going on at this time. She said that she would only look into the first and second stage trials if it comes to the point that I have exhausted all my other options.
She said that right now, Herceptin is very promising and that their are other drugs out there that I have not tried yet. She said that I still have good things available to me, and suggested that I continue down the path of treatment that I am already on. She said that if I feel like I have to have a stem cell transplant, that I could make another appointment to come in and talk to her about it, and she would consider doing it.
But for now, she feels like my doctor is doing very well by me, and that she respects him a lot, and that she would even go to him if she had cancer. She said that she knows that he is up on all the new drugs, testing and treatment options that are out there, but if at sometime I had a question(s) for her, I could call her and do a phone consult (to save on paying for a visit) or I could even have my doctor call her. She said that she would be happy to consult with us if we felt like we needed another opinion.
Well, there you have it. It was definite not fun to talk about the fact that my condition is not curable, and that I will have recurrences, and all of that, but I did get straight forward information and her honest and professional opinion (no matter how hard it was to hear) and that is what I was looking for.
What am I thankful for?!?! Herceptin.


I hope you get the chance...

This last week has been a very, very difficult one for my father's side of the family. My cousin was killed in an accident, and leaves behind a son, and ton of family, and friends, all of whom love him very much!

I have been having such a hard time with this, because I do love him. He was very inspirational to me, and I bragged about him every chance I got! He had recently e-mailed me the following: "If you ever feel down in the dumps, you can email or call me, cause I will tell you to drop the attitude and get up and fight (of course get the rest when you need it too)." He was tough, but loving all at the same time! I saved that e-mail, and will probably read it over and over again, and someday...just maybe, I will be able to read it without crying! Nah, probably not.

The good thing about my cousin, is that he seemed to be good at telling people that he cared about them, and he seemed to live his days to the fullest, without having to be prompted to do so. I for instance, lived 6 hours away, and did not get to actually see him in person much, but he kept in touch by phone and e-mail, and I would never question the fact that he loves me...and is probably looking down on me right now, wondering why I didn't run today...(and Jeff, if you must know, my gluts hurt from the workout I did this weekend in an attempt to get back into the swing of things so that I can run that half marathon that I told you I would get too. I did say HALF marathon didn't I? Because if I said full marathon, I am sure that was a mistake! And quit laughing, sore gluts is nothing to make light of, and I know that it is pathetic, but give me a break here, I am trying!)

I think I am learning to live my days to the fullest, as I know that I may not be here until I am 80+ years old, like most of us just assume we will, or at least I always did. I have learned through my illness and through the loss of my cousin that life is very fragile and that we need to appreciate every single day that we have with our friends and family and we need to tell the people that we love, that we love them. We just can't assume that they know!

I have found that since my diagnosis, many of my friends and family have made it a point to tell me that they love me, and some tell me every single day, in their e-mails, text messages, phone calls, voicemails, hugs, and smiles. Or, in their endless efforts to make me laugh when I am down in the dumps. I hope that I too have made it perfectly clear to my friends and family how much I love them!

To steal a line from a country song that is pretty important to me, I hope that everyone gets a chance to live like they were dying. -to love more and to hate less, to laugh more and to cry less, to play more and to fret less, to enjoy life and not feel put out by it, because life is fragile, and we just never know when it will be cut short for us or for someone that we love. Take the time now to tell people in your life that you care about them...do not wait!

What am I thankful for?!?! I am thankful for each day that I have with the people that I love, and whether I have 2 more days, 2 more years,or 10 more years, I am thankful to have the chance to tell you all that I care about you!



Well, it has been a couple of weeks since I last blogged. And really, not a lot has happened. I did go to my counseling appointment. The woman I met with has 20+ years experience working with cancer patients. She used to work at a cancer resource center. She really knows her stuff as far as cancer treatment goes. It was a nice visit, I basically told her about my diagnosis, the treatment I have had so far, and where I am at now in needing to make a decision on what treatment I wish to proceed with... and what a hard time I am having making that decision.
She suggested getting a second opinion, not because I don't trust my doc, but as a third party to provide more input, and maybe help me make a decision on what I would like to do next. I thought that was a good idea, and have been busy making calls to my insurance company and to the Med Center. I am going to meet with an oncologist that specializes in breast cancer on September 8th. I got all my registration paperwork in, and my medical records and pathology slides over to them this last week, so I am all ready to go...just waiting now.
This week I will see my oncologist, get my blood drawn, and will get herceptin. I look forward to going, because I feel like something is happening that way. I also have my second counseling appointment this week ...and so far she hasn't said "so how does that make you feel?", but I suppose that will come sometime. I also have the kickoff breakfast for the "Making Strides" walk this week. This walk is put on by the American Cancer Society just like the Relay for Life, but the proceeds go specifically to breast cancer research. The walk is in October, and I will be doing that as well.
I better get going, I have a kiddo that needs to get to bed, because he has his first day of first grade tomorrow, and he needs me to play ghostbuster.
What am I thankful for?!?! I am thankful for today, and being here to make sure there are no ghosts in my sons room and to kiss his little head and tuck him, and make him feel safe.


Enough with the SIGNS

Okay, I have a few concerned souls who have asked me about when I might actually follow through with the whole seeing a counselor thing. Well, let me tell you, I have actually made honest attempts in the past as I said I was going to-

Attempt #1: I called a therapist that was a referral from a friend who had breast cancer. When I called this therapist I went through the initial info over the phone only to find out that she did not take my insurance, and while a good therapist is not a thing one should turn down, I thought that the $130 a visit might get a little pricey once I opened my mouth and she realized the number of visits I was going to require! =)

Attempt #2: I finally decided to get a referral from my Oncologist for a Psychologist at the cancer center. I checked with the same friend from my previous attempt, and she said great things about this Dr, so I went ahead and called. HOWEVER, the psychologist was out, and it just so happened that her scheduler was also out, SO I would have to wait until Monday to call back and schedule an appointment. So, when Monday arrived, I was feeling much better and thought that my two failed attempts to schedule an appointment was a SIGN that I didn't really need to see a mental health professional!

Attempt #3: Today, I came into work and decided that after the long weekend and the constant weighing of options, maybe today was the day I would followed through with scheduling that appointment, so... knowing that I would be more likely to actually go if it was in Lincoln, I found someone in town who has experience working with clients who have cancer, and who actually came recommended as well. So, despite my many hesitations, I picked up the phone and dialed her number. HOWEVER, when I called they told me that the computers were down, so they could not make the appointment but that they would transfer me to the voicemail of someone who would call me back to schedule when the computers were back up and running. Now, knowing me, you should now understand that this alone was ringing in the back of my head as a SIGN, but when she attempted to transfer me and disconnected me...now THAT was CLEARLY a SIGN! However, much to my dismay a friend from work was simultaneously sending me a message- after reading my BLOG- that now might be a good time to schedule that appointment for "professional help", so...I did pick up the phone, call back and successfully left a message for them to call me back to schedule (however, I did give a false name and number- no, just kidding). It just so happens, that when they called back to schedule, I was gone at my acupuncture appointment and missed the call. Now really, is that not a sign? Should it be this hard to schedule an appointment if it was meant to be?!? You guessed it, I thought it was a sign! So, I didn't call back.

Later in the day (several hours mind you) I was going about my business when another work friend was on his way out for the day and nonchalantly said "goodbye, and hey, make that counseling appointment". OKAY!!! -so enough with the signs! I made the appointment, and I go tomorrow morning. Geesh, did they have to have an opening so soon!?!? I was thinking maybe next week would be soon enough!!! =)

In all seriousness, I do honestly believe it will do me good to talk to someone who is not emotionally invested in me. Someone that I can share all my fears with, without having to worry about making them scared or sad or angry in the process. So, assuming I don't get struck with a terrible asian flu or blow a tire on the SUV, all the signs point to- YES, I will be seeing a therapist!

Really, you don't all need to all cheer at once. That might hurt my feelings! Okay, probably not! =)

What am I thankful for?!?! Friends who nudge me in the right direction, despite my heel dragging.


Major Soul Searching.

Well, my doctor called right before we left for a weekend away with the kids.
This is what he said. I do have residual cancer in my breast. There is too much tissue that needs to be removed in order to do a lumpectomy and radiation, so my options are to have a mastectomy or see how long I can go on the herceptin alone without the cancer growing. There is a good and bad side to both. If I have a mastectomy, the surgery could weaken my immune system enough that cancer could grow elsewhere in my body or if I don't have the surgery, then I am leaving cancer cells sitting right there on my chest, which may or may not respond to the herceptin treatment.
He also said that I can wait the three months until I am scanned again and see if the breast responds to the treatment, and if it grows, then I could have a mastectomy...however, in my head, that means waiting until my system is weaker and then having surgery, and that seems a little risky to me. I think if I am going to have surgery, I should do it while I am as strong as possible.
The doctor did say that I could be maintained for years on herceptin, but I need to know what is going to get me 10-15 years, not 3-5 years...my babies are still pretty little!!!
I had a pretty long weekend, filled with the joy of playing with my children and the overwhelming fear of cancer taking me and leaving my children behind...I cried a lot, but we made it through, and I managed to keep it hidden from my kiddos! (I hope!)
Well, I have been gone, so I have to get stuff done around the house!
What am I thankful for?!?! Weekends away with my children, making memories!!!


No news.

I waited all day for a phone call from my doctor, but it never came. So...I will call in the morning to see what is going on.
I hope you all get more sleep than I will likely get! I hardly slept lastnight in anticipation of today's telephone call with my doctor, and now I get to do it all over again!
I guess that give me more time to research my options, and also to look up what types of things my insurance will and will not pay for in terms of reconstruction if I have a mastectomy or two. There really is a lot to think about...
What am I thankful for?!?! Snuggling up on the couch and watching movies with my boys!


Over-Hyped Appointment

Okay, here is the low down on todays appointment... went in and got my Herceptin, which makes me feel a little better.
Doc said that he is going to take my case to "the board" which consists of several radiologists, surgeons, and oncologists, and they are going to discuss my case. He is going to bring up the options of maintaining me on current treatment vs. lumpectomy and radiation vs. mastectomy. He is also going to discuss the possibility of reconstuctive surgery and the ability to detect recurrences, etc.
Basically, his opinion of the mammogram is that the masses are gone, but there is an area of suspition which is highly suggestive of cancer. I got the impression that he would like me to have a surgery of some type, whether it would be a lumpectomy and radiation or a mastectomy, to get better control over my primary site.
He said that they may want more testing, such as an ultrasound or a breast MRI. He said that he would call me on Thursday, and the surgeon may also call me on Thursday to set up a consult time.
Until then...we wait some more, and I do a little soul searching, and my hubby and I go through our feelings on the options.
Today I am asking my kids what they are thankful for:
Skye- "I am thankful I have good parents" (What a good kid!)
Laken- "...watching a movie" (He's 3, he hasn't learned to suck up yet!)


Almost 3 weeks

It has been almost three weeks since I last had a chemo treatment. I am feeling pretty good. If it wasn't for this cold that I have, I would be feeling exceptionally good.

Today I spent most of the day trying to get caught up on things that have been slipping behind around the house. Which is a good feeling. I am trying to get time to move so that it will be Tuesday. I am anxious to get to my Dr and find out what my options are at this point. While I have been speculating, I really do not know for sure until I get in there to talk to him.

I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary on Friday, and got 2 dozen roses at work! That was quite a surprise! I plan on celebrating 15 and 20 year anniversaries as well, so we have got to get this treatment plan figured out.

I have been spending a lot of time figuring out my new and improved nutritional plan. We went to the farmers market on Saturday and found a couple of different people who have free range cattle and chickens, which will be better for me, because they have not been given growth hormones. My mom gave me fresh eggs, and I am working on the soy milk, but it is a little more difficult. The soy cheese is pretty good. I have cut out white flour and processed sugar, so I tried some wheat pasta, which was tolerable and wheat bread, which I think I can learn to like.

I am considering doing some genetic testing to see if my children's children or my sister will be/are at a increased risk for Breast CA, and to see if I am at an increased risk for a second primary of ovarian cancer.

That is about all I know today. I will update the blog after my appointment on Tuesday.

What am I thankful for?!?! 10 years of marriage with someone that I love.



I got the results back from my mammograms today.
They were unable to identify any distinct masses on the films, so that is great news. The original mammogram showed 3 distinct masses, 1 of them was quite large with two smaller ones. These are no longer visible- or are just too small to see.
The mammograms were done here in town, but they are now sending the films over to my Oncologist at the Cancer Center, where he will look at them, he will have a radiologist that he trusts look at them, and also a breast surgeon.
I will be going to Omaha on Tuesday, the 9th, and I will be having my Herceptin treatment and will find out what "my" medical team thought of the films, and we will go from there.
Right now I am back in the waiting stage...but good news is good news, you can't knock that!
The hubby and I are busy researching the best diet to help keep this stuff at bay, and I have started on the diet full-time now. It is a little hard to get used to, and restricts any eating out due to the number of prohibited food items and cooking products, but it is worth it! (Coincidentally, donuts are on my list of bad foods and it just so happens that they have brought donuts to work two days in a row now! What are the odds?!?!) Geesh!!!
The only other thing going on right now is the painful reality that my hair has not yet got the memo that I am stopping the chemo, as it has been thinning out more than ever in the last couple of weeks...If I go through 6 rounds of chemo with all of my hair, and then lose it AFTER chemo ENDS, you may all get to see the crazy dance...which, much like the happy dance, is NOT TOO PRETTY!!! =)
What am I thankful for?!?! My little boys, who are patiently waiting for me to come snuggle them and kiss them goodnight! Gotta go!!!


Professional Help

I am going out of town for the weekend, but when I get back, I am going to see if I can get a little professional help.
Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of me, I am sorry I am being such a downer, I will try to pick it up next week, I just have a lot to process right now!
I have a blood draw on Monday to make sure my counts are okay after the little weekend getaway, and I am also having my mammograms done on Monday.
So, I will not be blogging over the weekend, but I will try to update everyone when I get the results from my lab and mammogram back.
What am I thankful for?!?! Cooler days!


The NEWS!!!

The news:
My CT scans and the MRI of my spine showed no evidence of tumors. Tumors that were in my liver initially are no longer visible on CT,and there was no evidence of disease in my spine, or any new places, for that matter.
The doctor did a physical exam on my breast and said that he can not feel any residual tumor. He said that all he notices are the changes at the biopsy site.
So....I guess, as of right now, I have no visible evidence of cancer!
I was low on all my blood counts, so I did get to hang out at the hospital til 9pm tonight to get two units of blood and platelets.
The plan:
I will be setting up a mammogram in the next week or so, and then I will go back and see the doctor in two weeks. If the mammogram shows evidence of residual tumor that the doctor was unable to feel on exam, then I will potentially have a lumpectomy to remove the residual tumor. I will also be staying on the herceptin to try to keep the cancer from coming back for as long as humanly possible, which per my doc could be "several years". I will get the herceptin via IV just like the chemo was, but I will only have to get it every three weeks. The side effects are less, w/o the nausea, fatigue and hair loss. My mood should be more consistent, and my hair should be thickening back up. I will be on the herceptin indefinitely, and have several options should my cancer recur. I will be having scans done every three months to check for recurrence and to monitor my heart functioning due to the herceptin use.
I plan to continue with my herbal supplements, will have more energy and better blood counts to kick my exercise up, and will be monitoring my diet closer than ever, because now....the chemo is gone, and it is all up to me and a higher power to keep this stuff at bay.
The emotions:
I am really in an odd place right now, while everyone is very excited (as they should/better be), I have not been able to get all that excited yet. I think I am in shock and quite frankly a little terrified to go off the chemo, because the chemo is what I was placing a huge part of my faith on, and now that is being taken away. Please, be patient with me, I have a lot to process, and this is a big step. Also, I still have some uncertainty going on, as I have not yet had my mammogram, and I do not know if I will be having surgery or not. But believe me, I am VERY thankful for the news I received today, and if I could quit crying, you would be able to see that.
The love:
Thank you for all the love, hugs, prayers, thoughts, vibes....etc!!! They must have worked!!! And PLEASE do not stop on me now, I need you more than ever, because I have a lot of hard work ahead of me now; I have to keep this from coming back!!!
What am I thankful for?!?! Modern medicine! The power of hope and faith! And, did you see the sunset tonight, it looked more beautiful to me tonight than it ever has! Sweet dreams!


I feel the power!

Okay, stop. All the good vibes are vibrating me right out of bed! (And the best part, no quarter needed!) hehe!!
You know what, I was scared and a little weepy yesterday, but today, I have had so many people wish me luck, give me hugs, send me thoughts via my blog, e-mail me, and text me, that I have not even had time to think a negative thought, and really, it has apparently worked. It is almost 11pm and I am actually considering sleeping! I am not all that nervous or scared either. I know the lump(s) in my breast are much better, not gone, but much better, so already that is some good news. And, if it is getting better in my breast it surely can't be getting worse elsewhere, right?! AND...all I can do now is fight. Either I keep fighting as I am, or the situation makes me fight harder, either way....there is not a whole lot of mystery at this junction.
One of my biggest concerns now is getting this bum leg figured out, and maybe getting a refill on the good blood, because I am pretty tired.
Thank you to everyone who has sent good vibes either openly or telepathicly!!! ...and if you know my hubby's cell number, you might want to call him tomorrow and see how HE is doing, as he will be spending a lot of time hanging around in hospital waiting areas!! Not too fun! At least I get to run around in one of those cute little gowns with the opportunity to moon (or not moon) the hospital staff! =)
What am I thankful for?!?! The rain!!! (and JR, if it rains all day at work tomorrow, I am SO SORRY to miss it!) =)



.....I have a better state of mind now. I think Thursdays are just so hard because I am so tired and just plain worn out.

I have some weird swelling situation going on in my leg right now, but I had an uldresound done at the hospital and there is no clot, and my oncology office put me on antibiotics, so if there is an infection, then it should be getting better. I think it is a bruise that just isn't getting better and is getting more swollen from my blood counts being low, but I am no doctor. I will see the doc on Tuesday(as we all know by now), so I should get it figured out then.

I don't really have much to say, so I am going to defer to you all. I am going to make it so that my blog will accept comments. If you have something you want to share, go right ahead. Remember, I have my restaging on Tuesday, so if you could put some positive vibes in there that would be great....but, you are welcome to say whatever you want, please just don't use other peoples names, as they may not want their name on the internet.

What am I thankful for?!?! Friends, family, and other concerned individuals who take the time to read my blog, because they care! (Oh, and A- thanks for the card and for sharing what you are thankful for!! I love to hear that other peole are thinking about things like that too!)


Nothing to say...

....chemo went okay. I am feeling fine, I guess. Just know that my hgb is low because I am getting short of breath doing nothing, and just generally feeling run down.
I am a little upset b/c I know I am not doing enough of anything...not getting enough done at home, not getting enough done at work, and probably not being as healthy as I should be either. Seems like it takes all my energy just to pretend like I feel fine.
Same old frustrations, different day.
Anyone want to be sick for me for a little while?!?!
What am I thankful for?!?!.....
..........I don't know.

I am thankful that most of you will never know how this feels!


Was feeling a little down.....

.....so I decided to wear my favorite little black dress to chemo today! HA, so there! I am telling you, this stuff is NOT going to rain on my parade!!!
What am I thankful for?!?! Little Black Dresses! (Guys, you won't understand this, but I think all you girls will!!!)


Carboplatin vs. Steamroller....

....really, I think they both have the same effect on a girl! Wow, that stuff sure does pack a punch. I think the insane heat has a lot to do with it too- (really, if it is going to be 97 degrees out, there really should be a BEACH near by!! REALLY! Did I say really?!?!)
The last week has been a little rough with the morning naseau and vomiting (just until the meds kick in), and I also think the heat may have added to the chemo fatigue and the bone pain from the Neulasta shot. But, never fear, we didn't really miss out on anything. By the end of the weekend I will have grilled out twice, went swimming twice, attended a t-ball game and the horse races, and played games at my nephews birthday party at the park! Not to shabby for Little-Ms-Cancer-Pants, huh?!?!
Well, that is the update...I really don't know much else other than to note that the worsts part of this chemo phase is over, so it is all downhill now, until we get to the restaging...and I would just like to say, BRING IT ON!!! (Apparently those extra good vibes people have been sending me are working great, because I am not nearly as scared now as I was a couple of weeks ago, but who knows...talk to me in two weeks, my mood may swing again...careful, it is dangerous around me!!!)
What am I thankful for?!?! I am thankful for 85 degree days (Can't wait to have a couple!) ...but mostly, I am thankful for the special time that I get to spend alone with my kiddos, we had a lot of fun swimming together this weekend and they are great snugglers at bedtime!


We have a plan.

Well, today was my first day of my sixth, and final round of chemo prior to getting rescanned. It was a fairly long but painless day, as usual. =)
Here is the plan- I will have chemo again in a week, and then on the 26th of July I will go in to the hospital in the morning and have CT scans of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis done, and also an MRI of my entire spine (which was kind of by my request, because every little back pain...probably normal....makes me nervous, so I would just like to see that it is still just the normal wear and tear going on in there). We also talked about a brain MRI, but I think as long as there are not additional tumors, I am happy just knowing from my last brain MRI that I have a brain in there. No need to go upsetting it. After my CT's and MRI I will go to lunch and my Doc will have the results by that afternoon, so we will have our meeting to discuss the plan for the future, but what it looks like is- 1) if things are going well and the tumor in by breast is shrinking (which we know it is), and the spots in my liver are not larger (which really, how could they be?!), and there are not any new masses (which is completely unreasonable to think about), then we will continue with chemo as we have been, and he will determine that day about how many more rounds before we scan again. He basically said that as long as the treatment is working and I still have visible tumors we will continue the treatment as we have been. 2) If at some point the tumors would actually start to increase in size or spread then we would sit down and devise a new treatment plan. 3) If at some point the tumors are no longer visible then I will go off the chemo's and continue on with only the herceptin, for as long as that keeps the cancer at bay.
Well there you have it, I have a plan, and actually was starting to get a really good mental attitude which was enhanced 3-fold by a doctor that I work with who loaned me a book written by a surgeon, Dr. B. Siegel, titled "Love, Medicine, and Miracles". This book has been so helpful for me because it is giving me examples of instances where people have been "cured" or at least had life significantly prolonged beyond expectations, even with the most grave prognoses, and proceeded to maintain exceptional mental attitudes and had their tumors simply "melt away". I have maintained since the beginning that living was the ONLY option that I was going to entertain and that I would do anything to make that happen, and this book, had it only given one example (rather than the many that it provides) to hang my hat on, still would have given me the hope to proceed with that attitude. If it can happen to one other person on this planet, there is no reason to believe that it can't happen with me as well. And really, HOPE is all you have in this type of situation, and I have never been the type to have to have numbers and statistic's and a 40 page thesis to prove anything to me. If I believe, then that is all that matters. When I was growing up my parents routinely told me that I could do anything in my life that I set my mind too, and I believe that. And you know what...I have set my mind on living and that is exactly what I intend to do! (It is not that I am forgetting about my moments of fear and frustration, but I am trying to counteract them the best I can, and with my absolutely FABULOUS support system, it is not all that hard! As soon as I show signs of fear or disappointment in how things are going I seem to have a number of people step out of the shadows to pump up the support, and after my last blog, I have gotten a lot more hugs! THANK you, I really believe (and you can find this crazy or goofy if you want) that hugs are healing!
What am I thankful for?!?! Dr. Siegel's book, the doctor at work who loaned it to me, and my medical team who seems to follow many of the suggestions that this book puts out there! Also, I am forever thankful for my daycare and the ALL the wonderful teachers who are patient and kind to my children during this difficult time for our family, especially Mr. K (who is FABULOUS!=) He is the real deal!!), Ms. M (who cares for my youngest with one of the most patient and loving attitudes-and who can be tough when he needs it =)), and Ms. S who has been not only a director, but a friend and confidant! I LOVE you all!!!


Good or Bad News?

This last round of chemo left me feeling better than rounds before it. In doing so, it made me worry a little that the chemo is no longer working....however, I had lab work done today to find that my hgb and platelets are both very low, so I am in need of both a blood and platelet transfusion tomorrow. On the bad side, that is long, and boring, requires missing more work, and adds a trip to Omaha on my "off" week. On the good side, that means the chemo must still be wrecking havoc in my body, and I am just somehow tolerating it better (must be that acupuncture!).
The nurse was surprised that I was up and running...she said that with my counts as low as they are she expected me to be in bed. While I did nap today, that was probably more due to the long, active weekend we had, and the fact that as I am nearing the end of my first phase of treatment and I am not sleeping well. I am just so scared to go in to that appointment after all my restaging tests have been done, especially when all I really have to compare it to was my initial staging appointment where the doctor so calmly read though all my test results aloud and noted all the places my cancer had seemed to have spread to.... my liver, my spine, my ribs. It was a moment that no one should have to experience, and no one can possibly imagine unless they have experienced it. Each day, every little pain in my spine is a constant reminder that my cancer now may have really spread there. It is scary, but I am trying to work through it the bast I can, and maintain the attitude that "I" will be the one who gets the miracle of life!
What am I thankful for?!?! Fireworks and my loving and supportive family and friends, thanks for the GREAT holiday weekend!!!!


Summer is busy as usual!

It really doesn't matter what illness you have, summer comes on in full swing whether you have the energy for it or not....so I have chosen to go at it with full force and sleep when I can. The kids' sporting activities are keeping us running, but it is well worth it. There have been a lot of cute moments and lessons learned!
The Relay for Life went better than expected!! Our team raised over $4000.00 which is way more than I expected us to raise when I signed us up in the middle of the night on a chemo/steroid induced insomniac moment. It was quite a night. It was nice, but being involved in all the activities kept me so busy that I really didn't think too much about the fact that I was a cancer survivor, and that all the hoopla had a lot more to do with me than I was really acknowledging. Not to say it was without its moments, but it just didn't have the impact on me that the Seward one did. I think the Seward Relay was just calmer and quieter, and seemed to lend itself to reflection and the luminaries seemed to glow brighter there. My team and I managed to stay up all night and actually had 2-4 people walking most of the relay! The symbolism of the event is very powerful if you stop and think about it. I definitely felt supported by my team, and was touched that they all cared enough to spend the entire night walking with/for me. I sort of felt like I shouldn't have asked that of them and wanted to just turn in our money and cancel our walk in the few days before the event, but they didn't let me, and it all turned out just fine.
As for treatment, the side effects have been less this last round, and I actually made it to work for 5 hours today...no throwing up, no debilitating fatigue...it was a good thing! Maybe the acupuncture is helping, maybe it is mind over matter, but being the nervous person that I am, there is the thought in the back of my mind that maybe the treatment is not as effective anymore. Either way, I have one round left and then I get restaged. So, it looks like the last week of July is when I will be having all my CT scans, x-rays, MRI's, and bone scans, to see how my cancer is responding to the treatment. Until then, I have no idea what the next step will be.....and frankly, I am willing to go an extra few rounds, but my doctor said no, it is about time to see what is going on! I am going to have to trust him on this one, I guess. But, if I start to get a little moody towards the end of July, please be kind, as I am very scared to go through all the testing again. If it comes back as mediocre or bad news, I anticipate it feeling a lot like the moment the doctor first told me the extent of my cancer! And believe me, it was not a shining moment in my life! If it is good news, well then I will have worried for nothing!

And all you positive thinkers in my life can yell "I TOLD YOU SO" as loud as you want, and I will be happy to hear it! Until then...I may need a hug or two or twenty!

Okay, that is the extent that my mind will let me BLOG tonight, I need to get to bed. I will get you updated again, as time permits...

What am I thankful for?! Friends and Family who will walk in circles all night long and not even think twice about it, just because they know how much it means to me! Okay, I have to go, it makes me tear up just thinking about it!


Been a long week.

This week has been a little hard. I had a cold that turned in to a nasty sinus infection, I found out that someone I care about also has breast cancer and will be starting her treatment this next week, and I had to have a blood transfusion on Wednesday because my counts were all down.
On the up side, we got our kiddy pool up in the back yard, I saw my first lightening bug of the season, and my mom came to visit and played with the kids while I got some much needed rest.
Other than that, not much is new. I am gearing up for what I expect will be quite a week. The Relay for Life is this Friday, and I have yet to get a campsite planned. We also have bank night for the Relay on Tuesday, which is the same night my oldest son has a T-ball game and my youngest son has a track meet. Not to mention that this Tuesday is my hard Chemo day. I get Carboplatin this week and it seems to take me out, which leaves Thursday as a designated day in bed! Woo-Hoo! To top off the week, my cousin is getting married! Sooo... I will have a night to have fun and to be surrounded by my family, many of whom I have not seen for quite awhile!
What am I thankful for?!?! The Women's Clinic- where they tend to read my mind and help me out when I, myself, can not even express what I need. The staff there have been amazing!!!


Relay for Life

Okay, if you have donated to my Relay for Life campaign, THANK YOU! I set my initial goal at $500 and I thought that was going to be a little difficult to reach, but within the first 12 hours of having the website we raised $705 dollars!!! My supporters are AMAZING!! I was so awe struck!! Me, speechless, now that is a feat! I really can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate this!! The Lincoln Relay has already earned over $86,000 and the Relay is not even here yet! Seriously, I just can not even believe it!!! I know many of my donations came by way of those who are also supporting my husband, and I can't tell you how much that means.
He has been working very hard to keep us going at home, as well as going to work and working hard every day! He is AMAZING! As a matter of fact, he drove clear across town today to check on me. I had gone to bed around 11pm lastnight and did not wake up until 3pm today when he walked in (and then I went back to sleep until a little after 4pm)! Let's just say I must have been tired. Unfortunately I missed work and an accupuncture appointment! =( SORRY!
What am I thankful for?!?! Those who donate their time and/or resources to help others!


Last Chemo Tx in Round 4

My labs were decent. The RBC's and HGB were low considering I had the shot of ARANESP last week, but I got it again this week and I am going to meet with someone to day to look at alternative ways to help stimulate blood cell development and help reduce my overall side effects of chemo... I will let you know how that goes.
My WBC's are in the normal range, and those are the ones I worry about most- with getting a serious infection. So, that is good news. That nasty shot I got last week did the job and made the difficulties of last week worth it!
I asked about getting a baseline (it will be somewhat baseline at this time) MUGA Scan or ECHO because I have found research indicating that the Herceptin I am on can cause poor heart functioning. They will do that in two weeks, right before I get the next dose of Herceptin, and then will do it again every three months after that. I will be having the MUGA Scan.
I had a nice dinner with my dad, and branched him out to Mongolian food! (And, he LIKED it! Not bad for a small town boy, huh?!) Then I played in the sprinkler with the kids and took the little one to track. He got a first place ribbon in his race, and was very proud of himself! As was mommy, of course, but then again I was proud of the stop-wave-last place ribbon he got last time, too!!!
Was up 'til 2am, couldn't sleep, so I signed up my Relay for Life Team!
What am I thankful for?!? Sprinklers on hot days!


Newspaper Edit

My name and some brief info about me were in the newspaper...if you read it, here is an edit to the story: My cancer is advanced so they are not planning to do surgery at this time.

Just wanted to get that edit in there...now, the gorgeous part- that was right on track! HAHAHA! I am so embarrassed! I can only imagine the heckling I am going to get at work for this one! (please be kind)

It was a nice story, however, and it does give a face to younger women with breast cancer. I feel that it is very important to let people know that younger women get breast cancer too- even as young as 17 years old! That is the IMPORTANT part to me!!!

Okay...just wanted to get that out there before too many people read it! Off to treatment!


Today/tonight I attended Football 101. This is an all afternoon/evening program aimed at women, to- learn the fundamentals of football, socialize, and come together for the common goal of raising money to fund further research in an effort to find a cure for breast cancer.

The event was started by Coach Bill Callahan last year. Coach Callahan lost both of his parents to cancer- his mother to breast cancer. Tonight The Epply Cancer Center in Omaha, a part of UNMC medical center, was presented with a check for $50,000 thanks to all of those who attended and also to those who bought raffle tickets (a winning ticket in my case!! I am now the proud owner of a framed and autographed poster of Tommie Frazier!) It was overall- a wonderful experience!!!

I am getting into the fundraising activities now, and I am working on putting together a Relay for Life team for the Lincoln relay at the end of the month. And really, I know more about relays than football, so this is good!!!

Well, it is getting late, and I have treatment in Omaha, track practice, and a t-ball game tomorrow, so I better hit the sack!


What am I thankful for?!?!?! Husker fans, and their overwhelming generosity!!!



Thursday was by far the worst day so far. Good thing I have that "renewed sense of determination"... I have been having a hard time keeping food down this time and with the added cold, fatigue and bone pain from that shot, it really took it out of me.
I slowly got better on Friday, worked for a few hours in the afternoon, and ended up going to the Relay for Life in Seward on Friday night, late. It was so nice and calm out that night, and the luminaries just glowed. I went with one of my best friends and my mom and met my sister and nephew there. We went at 11pm after all the hoopla was over, so it was just quiet and peaceful. It is quite an eye opening experience if you have never been to one. It is really unbelievable to see the number of people who battled with or currently are battling cancer. And, that does not include all the people that are affected as caregivers or friends and family of those with cancer. We walked the track a few times, and then headed out, but it was kind of the turning point for my week. I began to feel better, physically, after that. And mentally, it is reassuring to see all the people who spent their time and money to pull off an event like that. Coming from someone with cancer, it is kind of like a GREAT BIG HUG. It is a fantastically warm feeling. (But, that is just me, I am one of those touchy, feely kinds of people!)
Well, I got some good rest last night, so I am off to get some stuff done around the house! Take care out there!!
What am I thankful for?!?! HUGS!!!


Forgot to mention....

....I set up an appointment to meet with the Cancer Center Nutritionist next week. I have been reading a book called What your Doctor Did Not tell you about Breast Cancer (or something close to that, it is late...). It has really got me thinking about my diet and how it can help me improve my health and overall chances for survival! For any of you who are interested in preventing breast cancer in yourselves or a friend or loved one, it is a pretty good read and I can get you the exact title and author. If you are pretty emotional about my situation, I would maybe consider passing it up, it can be a hard read at times.

I am currently working on creating a data base of all the rx's, herbal supplements, and OTC drugs that I am taking, so I can share this with her when I go in. I am also pulling together information on diet and nutrition that I have heard and had passed on to me so as to get an opinion on these things too! I can feel battle heating up!!! =)

Renewed sense of determination...

I don't know if it was the long weekend or the fact that I have had a lot of time to spend with my family and friends in the last week or so with my birthday and memorial day, or all the positive vibes that I am still getting from all of you out there, but instead of spending last night dreading today's treatment I was ready for it. And, I think being read for it and not dreading it made it go so much better!!!

The chemo nurse I had today pumped (okay, dripped) my Herceptin much faster this time, so that 1 and 1/2 hour portion of my treatment only took 40 minutes! Nothin' better that lessening the actual treatment time! (Not that it is all that bad, but my ability to sit in a chair with the sound of Judge Judy droning the back ground is rather limited!) Today was a little slow overall, because they had all of Monday's and today's patients in the office due to the holiday weekend. I don't mind waiting, I would rather wait then have someone get a delay in their treatment. There is NO reason for that!

All my blood counts were good today. I went ahead and had the Aranesp shot today and will do the Neulasta Sucks-a shot tomorrow to stay on top of my counts. While it is not walk in the park, I just don't feel down about that either, because it works! and it is what I need to keep on top of things and keep from causing a delay in my treatment, so let's just get at it! (However, as a side note, you might want to avoid me from about mid-Thur to about mid-Fri because that is when it tends to kick in, and my stellar mood might be a little tarnished! I apologize in advance.) THIS TOO SHALL PASS! (My new slogan!)

WHAT AM I THANKFUL FOR??? Three day weekends, digging in the dirt, and a healthcare team that I love and trust!!!

I hope everyone spent their weekend well!!!


Half Way Done!

I am now officially half way done with phase 1 of my cancer saga.

I had my blood drawn this past week. My platelets were very low, so I had to go back in on Thursday to get blood drawn again. If my platelets were still low or any lower, they were going to have to do a platelet transfusion yesterday...the day I had chosen to celebrate my birthday, since I was so tired from chemo last week. (Yes, I am officially 31 years old now!!! No complaining here!!!) But, when I got my results back, my platelets were back up to the normal range with everything else! Something in this bod must be working right!!!

So we went out, celebrated, and did a little dancin'...and I felt good! I am renewed and ready to take on another round of chemo, but not until I enjoy this long holiday weekend!!!

What am I thankful for?? I am thankful for spray on tans and dancing under the stars! What ever you do, enjoy life, because you only have one chance!


Day 8, Round 2

Today was my short chemo day! Woo-hoo! I always feel so good on chemo day, which is nice! My blood work was not too bad. My white blood cells are down again, so I am supposed to avoid sick people, crowds, raw fruits and veggies, etc, you know. My RBC's were pretty good and I got a shot to help keep them there, and my HGB was better than last week, so that is good too! I take a shot tomorrow to help boost the white blood cells, which is good, but makes all my muscles ache, so I am taking volunteers for anyone who gives good back and shoulder rubs, because they usually hurt the worst. =)
All in all, I am doing better, and a thanks to all the supportive e-mails after the whinny one I put out late last night. I was tired and bummed, and that is just what happens....today I felt much better after some sleep and the chemo fog finally lifted! Funny, I forgot to make that psych appointment I said I was going to make! Sorry to those who have to put up on me on the bad days, but it is so hard to schedule those when you are feeling good!!! Maybe next week!! (wink-wink)
What am I thankful for!?!? ...for E-mail and for my friends who so lovingly and understandingly taking the mood swings for what they are and nothing more, and never give up on me! You will all never know how much you mean to me!! And, if I don't return you call.... I AM SORRY! I am working on it, I swear!


It t'was the night before chemo.....

....and all through the house not a person was stirring...except me.

In my dismay, I am trying to figure out what is going on with me...It seems like lately I have been in a weird place, and I can't seem to figure out what has changed. I just haven't really had any good feelings about anything lately. Not that I have really had any terrible bad ones either, but just nothing worth a lot of anything.

I haven't really wanted to talk to anyone and I haven't been able to think of a damn thing to say in my Blog. Hence, the short attempt I made earlier today just because I knew people were wondering where I was. But, I guess if one is going to type a Blog in order to put out there a realistic look at life with Cancer, one should address the ups and the downs. So, after my really great chemo day last week, I started to have some bad days...I got tired and sick. On the up side I have meds that help with the sickness, but the fatigue...that just lingers.

On Friday, I went out and I stayed out way too late knowing I was tired, but I paid the price, because then I had exhausted myself beyond a reasonable limit, which made Saturday a long day. And, when I am overly tired, much like a two year old child throwing a fit in the candy aisle at the grocery store 2 hours after naptime, things for me seem to decompensate rather quickly.

Then, on Saturday, after a two hour nap, I went with my family to a friends birthday party. I ended up leaving the party for awhile to go drive around and cry (only to later share it all with the whole world in my Blog). I was sad that I was tired, I was sad that I was sick. But I did NOT want to go home, and I did NOT want anyone at the party to see me and feel sorry for me, because I was happy to be in the same room with people I loved and who I knew loved me. I just didn't want them to talk to me, because I just didn't feel like talking! Finally , we headed home and went to bed around midnight. I got up at 11am on Sunday, went back to bed at noon and finally got up for the day at about 3pm (a good 14 hours of sleep). Luckily, my mom took the kiddos to the zoo, so I was able to get that apparently much need sleep.

I think when I go to the doctor tomorrow, I am going to go ahead and make that appointment with a psychologist. What do you think? I think I am ready. And, if you have made it all the way through this rambling, you may be ready too! I will check to see how many slots she has open!

And while I am at it, I think I am going to schedule to meet with a nutritionist who specializes in diets for cancer patients. As much as I love the kiwi and pears I am eating at my aunts loving request, I should probably work on the rest of my diet as well. For those of you that are interested in the alternative types of treatment and health, I have also added to my diet a shot of some multivitamin potion my friend gave me, 6 capsules a day of Ganoderma Lucidum, and 3 tablets of Ellagic Acid. I am also working on installing a water purifier to my shower to take the chlorine out of the water, because apparently that is bad for me too!

SO...there you have it. ((That was even a little painful for me to read!))

What am I thankful for? People who care enough about me to read all that blah, blah, blah, because while some of it is awfully embarrassing to put out there, it makes me feel better to get it out of my head, and gives me something to do at midnight when I can't sleep. And maybe, if there is someone out there with cancer who happens upon my site, perhaps it will make them feel a little less alone. xo!

(I will try to think of something funny or inspirational for my next blog, or maybe not...)


Pink Paper Roses

Today I was shopping over my lunch break. As I was checking out, I grabbed one of the pink paper roses they are selling for a dollar to help promote breast cancer research. The girl checking me out said that she had noticed that I buy one each time I am in, and gave me a gift with my purchase for being a such a charitable customer. It makes me wonder if her life has been touched by someone with breast cancer. It wouldn't really surprise me, it seems like everyone I talk to knows someone who has been through this, in some form or another. Anyway, I guess I really appreciated her enthusiasm and felt like I wanted to share it with you all. It is such a small thing, but as a person with breast cancer, it really makes me feel good to see people being so supportive of the cause....because it is my life....
What am I thankful for?....those who are working on finding a cure for breast cancer, and all those who find it in their heart to donate to the cause!!


Day 1, Round 3- Good Stuff

When this round is over I will be half way done with the first step of my battle! And, the worst chemo visit (because it is so long) is now over with!
Today a friend of mine took me to chemo...She had the task of hanging out and waiting from 10am to 3pm with me! She was a great entertainer!! She told stories the whole time, and made the visit just zip by! Several times, I actually forgot I was there!!!

The doc examined me and said that he felt my condition was responding well to the treatment. He said my tumor definitely felt smaller. And the blood must have been some good stuff because all my blood counts were within a fairly good range! The gave me a shot of Aranesp today to stay on top of my red cells, and help me keep from getting soooo... fatigued. Here's to hoping it works!

My doc will be gone next week...off to a conference to learn new defenses in the fight against cancer. I will miss him (wink-wink) but the PA is very nice!

Returned to Lincoln to see my kiddos run track! Laken got 3 out of three in the 50 yard dash! He stopped 5 yards from the finish to look for us and wave and smile!! Went from a nose length lead for the blue ribbon to third place! But....gotta love that smile!!! Skye got 1st place in the 100 yard dash...we are going to start calling him dash because he has a whole collection of blue ribbons now! He is my competitive child! It was a great end to a pretty darn good day!! I got to spend time with a friend, give my cancer a good strong kick in the @ss, and I got to see my kids have fun and play!

I bought a sound machine today, hoping it will help with my sleep issues! So I am off to listen to the "waves crash on the beach"! Well, minus the waves and the beach and the Mai Tai's, but here is to pleasant dreams to all of you!!!

What am I thankful for?!
Two parents who are loving and supportive and have molded me into the person that I am today! ((I am sure there are some quirks in there too, but those are cute and endearing, right?!?!))




Apparently, a perfectly normal day can be followed by a perfectly not normal night.

What is courage?

Everyone keeps telling me how courageous I am and how strong that I am. Well, unless courage is found huddling on the guest bathroom floor crying at 3:30 in the morning, I am not so sure that I am the picture of courage. It is times like these where I wish that there was something that I could do to make this all go away. I wish I could be strong and run it off, or stay up for days and study it away, or something, anything. But my current reality is that I am here doing what I can to eat right and keep the rest of my system healthy while I wait to see what Gods plan is for me. I am Girl in Limbo. And in the mean time, I am going to put all my energy into enjoying life, I guess that is what I am meant to do!

You know, there is something very therapeutic about typing this Blog. It seems, that either I am such a slow typer that by nature it just gives me enough time to feel better or that by putting my thoughts into words it gets them out of my head where they seem to fog up a perfectly happy yet quirky thought pattern, but...I feel better already. And am actually quite thankful. What am I thankful for now? I am thankful that my boys have good aim when they use that guest bathroom! ((Oh, and I guess it is the 6th now...Happy Birthday, boys! I love you!))


Normal Day...

.....whether you have a perfectly healthy body or one with cancer, sometimes you just have an average, just like any other day, kind of a day. That is what today has been.

What am I thankful for? Those people who donate blood so that those of us who are a little less fortunate in certain areas of life, can have an average, just like any other day, kind of a day! (Especially those A positive type people!)



Got 2 units of blood today! Must have been the blood of a Rock Star, because I am feeling good now! So watch out I am workin' on those dance moves!!!

O.K.- actually I am just working on getting things done around the house that had been pushed to the side during my May Day Extravaganza and I just finished stuffing 45 gift bags for the kids' birthday parties at daycare! And now... I am off to read a little more in "The Tao of Pooh"!



No Chemo Tuesday!

Today was blood draw day.

I found out that my white blood cells are up and my reds are up a little. My Hgb-for those of you who do not know, hemoglobin is the part of your blood that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body- is quite low, so I will be going up to Omaha tomorrow to spend the day for a little rest and blood transfusion (the next best thing to rest and relaxation)! I suppose that is why I kept getting lightheaded when I tried to dance on Friday night...I thought it may have just been the heat from my ultra sexy dance moves! ((If you have ever seen me dance, you would understand how funny, not egotistical, that statement really is!!))
Now, I have reached the point where I start taking a little unpaid leave time. Bottomed out my sick leave in the last two months, with an astounding 60 odd hours off in March and and an additional 20 some hours off in April! What a slacker, I know!! Have a little vaction time left, but I think I will save that for the kids events that I want to attend. But really, the worst part of missing work tomorrow?....tomorrow is a food day, which means no meat snacks and chocolate cake for breakfast!(really, thinking that my body may have sacrificed itself to get out of eating my co-workers cooking!)
Well, I was told that my last blog was quite wordy, so I am going to wrap it up, and go try out my new "healing meditation" CD. Hope you all get a little R&R yourselves!
What am I thankful for? The sweetness and innocence of children! After track practice tonight, my little one said, "Mommy, I am so proud of you! You did such a good job watching me at track!" Oooohhhh....so sweet he melts my heart!


Cancer Sucks!

Yesterday was a bad day, and for Cancer to make May Day a bad day really sucks! I always look forward to May Day...the grass is turning green, the leaves are coming out on the trees, the flowers are blooming, and my kids' birthdays are just around the corner, which means a day off of work to go to the zoo(not to mention being one year closer to having no daycare bills!)!!!
But let's get real, this year, May Day was a bit of a drag. I spent all day helping the kids decorate the May Day "baskets", fill them, and deliver them(that was the good part). However, while normally this activity would take about an hour, on this particular May Day, we started at 10:30 am and finished the last delivery at about 6:30pm. No, not because we did a million of them, not because the baskets were fancy and elaborate, but because there were lots of much needed rest breaks throughout the process for me to sprawl out on the couch due to nausea and/or lightheadedness, or just an overwhelming feeling of crappiness (not to mention- a 2 1/2 hour nap) But, me being me, I was bound and determined to do what it took to not let cancer ruin my(and my children's) holiday, and the little bit of crazy holiday tradition that I have carried on from my childhood to my children's childhood. (Happy May Day, Jeff!)
I was so happy to have successfully completed another special family moment. We had dinner, and I headed off to bed thinking that sleep would come easily considering how badly I wanted it all day, but much to my dismay...now...I was wide awake. I do not know what possessed me to get on the internet and type in- search for "stage IV breast cancer survivors", but I did. And, if you have done this, you will find that you are able to quickly locate some of the saddest and most depressing stories on the internet...stories filled with false hopes and short remissions. Which, is then quickly followed by streams of tears and a lot of "why me's" floating around in my overwhelmed and less than hopeful mind. But then, after a short pity party, and a "lets please talk about nothing" phone call to a friend, I went back to the computer and searched until I found that one story where someone in my condition had beaten the odds for 15 years now...that would get me to 46 years old, and my kids to 18 and 21 years old...you just can't help but find that comforting when you are in my situation. I know, most of you who are reading this are very positive people and are certain that I am going to be the miracle that makes it to 90+ years old, and I thank you for all of that positive energy; however, I need to take this day by day, and to me 1 year is a blessing, 15 years is a miracle, and 60+ years, well, that just makes me tired to think about. The good thing is, when I get into the pity mode, it is quickly followed with the determined and angry me who wants to live to **have daughter-in-laws who find me quirky and annoying, and ***a husband who complains that I nag too much, ***to compare age spots with my equally old girl friends who will surely have more and larger spots than me, and ***to give my grandchildren pixie sticks and send them home with there parents!!!
And, what am I thankful for? Today! Because, today I am full of energy, out of my chemo-fog, and happy to be doing the hum-drum everyday stuff of life!


No title

I am all kinds of exhausted and all of my muscles ache! So....I thought I better dig deep and find something that I am thankful for...
......I am thankful for.......warm smiles, tylenol PM, and my bed! Goodnight! =)


Covered in Prayers

Today was my last chemo day in round two of six! 1/3rd of the way done with chemo (before my cancer and me are reassessed). Chemo went well...the doc was running way behind and I saw the PA today. She is super nice, very easy to talk to, and makes me look short (she must be 6'3", kinda cool)!
My lab today showed that my reb blood cells (rbc's) and white blood cells (wbc's) are very low (my platelets went back up from 58,000 to 216,000, way to go little buddies!). Yes, sometimes I have to give those blood cells a few words of encouragement!!! (no, I didn't make the appointment with the psychologist, maybe next week). =)
I was just under the level of wbc's that they prefer to do chemo, but since 1) I have next week off to rebuild, 2) I was able to take a shot of Aranesp today to boost the rbc's, and 3) tomorrow I can take the shot of Neulasta to boost my wbc's, they thought it important that I go ahead with the chemo. Time is a tickin' and I am ready!! I only got the Gemzar today, and it is the Carboplatin that generally wrecks havoc on my labs, anyway.
Well, that is the short of it!
What am I thankful for today? A yard full of sod, the prayer blanket I received in the mail from Faith United Church in Gibbon (which my children have affectionately name my "snuggy blanket"), and the big beautiful full moon (to remind us how small we really are)!!!
Sleep tight!


A hairy situation

About 4 days ago I got an unmarked box in the mail. When I opened it I caught a glimpse of a styrofoam head and quickly shut that box and put it in my closet- without even inspecting the contents. I thought, well, the doctor had said my hair may just thin, and I might l not even lose my hair. Maybe I shouldn't have ordered these so soon....

Yesterday, as I was applying some crazy hair product (that I spent way to much money on) to get my hair to stick out in all the right places in that perfectly planned "messy" look, I looked down at my hands to find that instead of the goop sticking to my hair, my hair was sticking to the goop.

[It is weird, I have been starting to go several minutes and even hours at a time without thinking about "my condition" when all of a sudden, a hand full of hair can bring it all slamming back in grand fashion.]

Today, I gathered my wits and my children (god knows that looking at things through the innocence of children can make the most stressful situation better) and I pulled out that unmarked box. I explained to the kids that I was starting to lose my hair, and that they needed to help me get this stuff unpacked. So, in an excited fashion the kids pulled everything out of the box. They told me which hair looked more like me, and we tried the wigs on them. A picture perfect momment. Somehow, with them by my side, it wasn't so scary....HOWEVER, as I put on the wig liner prior to trying on the first wig I got my first glimpse of what I might look like bald, and mom and dad, I might have been thankful for a little smaller ears!!!!!!

Let me see, what am I thankful for today? the hair that is still on my head no matter how short it is and how old I think it makes me look, the laughter of children, and the health of my family!


Tomorrow is a new day...

Tomorrow is a new day, and one that I am thankful for. The last couple of days I have been feeling a little sick to my stomach, very tired, and quite honestly, a little sorry for myself. And ya know what, I don't feel bad about that anymore, because at some point it is going to happen. I kept telling myself that I need to be strong for everyone else, and you know what I found out?? When I wasn't strong, you all took over and were strong for me! Thank you! In the last two days, we have had people cook us food, watch our children for some respite, entertain us, and one friend even got me some faux "beverly hills perkys"! (I work with some crazy people!)

I slept lastnight (and half of today, if you must know)! I haven't slept for about three days prior to this. I am feeling much better now, the nausea medication is helping, and I think that the sleep has improved my outlook. I am ready to take on another weekend!

What am I thankful for?!? The amazing support network that I have, the smell of spring rain, and, quite frankly, I would be thankful for anyone who could invent a breath-right-strip for dogs, because right now, my dog is snoring so loud I can barely think to type!!! =)


Day 1, Round 2

Today was the first day of my second round of chemo.

For those who like to know the plan, here it is:

I am on 21 day cycle:
Day 1: Carboplatin (brand name Paraplatin), Gemcitabine (brand name Gemzar), and Trastuzumab (brand name Herceptin)- totaling 3 hours of treatment
Day 8: Gemcitabine- totaling 1 hour of treatment
Day 15: Blood draw in Lincoln- totaling about 5 minutes!
I will go through 6 cycles(18 weeks). After 18 weeks they will determine how my treatment is going. They we make any adjustments at that time.

I did find out that I will not be having surgery. At this point there is no mastectomy in my future. So much for those new perky boobs I thought I might be getting at the expence of my insurance company. Somewhat of a bummer, I was kinda looking forward to that little gift in the midst of all of this treatment. Doc said that they generally only do surgery if it is expected to cure the condition. Since the severity of my condition is considered controllable, not cureable, he said they generally do not do surgery unless the treatment isn't working and they think removing the tumor would slow down the spread/progression. He thinks that Chemo will shrink my tumors to the point that I could be on Herceptin alone. At least until/if the cancer would start to progress then I would go back on a full chemo regimen to get it back into check. Basically, he is thinking no surgery but likely a lifetime of chemo. I told him he is going to get sick of me then, because I am going to live a LONG, LONG time! He said that he knows that I am and new advances in medicine happen all the time! He also gave me the name of a good psychologist that works there at the cancer center. I figured it was about time someone caught on to the lunacy!!! I really think that was a preexhisting condition, though!!! =) That happened after I started crying in his office after hearing that I had to keep the breasts I have! Ya know, people cry at different things, and at the moment...it was the thought of the "Beverly Hill Perkies" that was getting me through...I guess now it is going to have to be some other little thing...I will let you know when I figure that out, because right now I am tired and am going to go roll around in the 2 strips of sod they layed in my front yard...

What am I thankful for today? The smell of freshly watered grass, be it in a box on my office chair (thanks J, you crack me up) or 2 strips in my front yard...boy it smells good!!!!

Love to all who care enough to read!!!


Days going by

I haven't had much to say lately. The days have been pretty much going by uneventfully. No chemo this past week, so I have felt pretty "normal" lately, and have had blocks of time where CANCER has never even crossed my mind. In the first 3 weeks never a minute went by that I didn't think about it. It consumed my body and my mind...now, things are getting better...while I still think about it a lot, it doesn't consume all of me!

I did some research and have decided to add some "natural", "alternative" treatments to the plan. I haven't decided which supplements I am actually going to take yet, but if you are intested in reading the information, you can go to:
www.cancer-prevention.net. I figure, now is not the time to knock things one has never tried! If standing on my head and reciting that abc's backward (yes, I practiced that in college, ya never know when you are going to need that skill) might cure me...I think I might just do it.

Well, chemo starts again this Tuesday. My dad is going to take me. I am kind of glad to be going...this last week without chemo, I felt like I wasn't doing anything to help kick this! I realize that my body needs time to rebuild and rest from the therapy, but it is hard for me to be wait... (A huge surprise to those who know me, I am sure!)

Things I am thankful for today: friends/family/strangers wearing pink breast cancer awareness bracelets and/or liveSTRONG bracelets, cards and e-mails I have received from friends and family that I have not seen for a long time and those that I see all the time, and riding lawnmowers!!! =) Love you all!


Things I am thankful for:

I have decided that at the end of each blog I am going to try to rememeber to note at least one thing that I was thankful for that day. I think that this is probably pretty good practice for anyone, and would be a great thing to do with the kids at bedtime.

Today was a great day, and I have several.

Today, I am thankful for- sunshine, flip-flops, pink flamingos, my hubby, peacefully sleeping children, friends that make me laugh, and neighbors with brownies!