Boobs....apparently despite the fact that they really only function long enough to feed an infant, they remain so very important long after the feeding function has worn out. In social conversations, boobs come into the conversation at an astounding rate..."can I touch your boobs?", "wow, look at your boobs, what kind of bra is that?", "did you see the fake boobs on that chick, those couldn't be real", which all just usually leads to "I wanna get a pair of those".
But, despite all that...I have decided to have one of mine cut right off! While many people are in love with boobs, mine are trying to kill me! Next thursday (right before New Years), I am going to have a mastecomy and removal of my lymphnodes on the right side. The evil boob must go! I am not going to have reconstruction done, so I am soon to be trading in the name princess for the uniboober! My hubby affectionaltely has been trying out the nickname "Princess Oob"(....I kinda like it!)
What am I thankful for?!
Good surgeons with a sense of humor, and friends that laugh rather than cry when I call myself the "soon to be Uniboober"! Do you think they make those triangle bikini tops with just one triangle?! Merry Christmas Eve to you Christmas types, and Happy Holidays to all you other wonderful souls! Lets get the eggnog out!


Short delay...

My surgeon got called into an emergency surgery, so my consult will not be until tomorrow(Friday).
What am I thankful for?! My job.


The picture is coming together

It seems that each day for the last week and a half I have been given a small puzzle piece of information that will some day become a plan...
Today I met with the oncologist. He reviewed my scans with me. They still aren't seeing the spots that were in my liver, which is amazing, and the only cancer that they could see was in my breast, one rib, and in my spine, at the previous location. None of the spots (except the tumors in my breast) had grown, so the Herceptin, Zometa and Tamoxifen are apparently controlling them. My oncologist thought the most logical next step would be to have surgery to remove the breast. I agree.
I am scheduled to see the surgeon on Thursday, and at that time, I will get another piece of the puzzle and I will be that much closer to having a plan!
What am I thankful for?! Sushi, Angels that come in the night, and christmas pictures in the mail.


Needing a Plan

Cancer doesn't care that it is Christmas Time!
I have been having problems with my breast, so I went in for a mammogram. The mammogram showed new cancer in my breast. I had all my scans again to see if the cancer was progressing everywhere or just in my breast. My oncologist said I had a few options: If the cancer is progessing everywhere, I would need to go back into chemo. If the cancer is only progressing in my breast, then I have 2 options. I can either go back into chemo -or- I can have a mastectomy and radiation. He did indicate that he would suggest the mastectomy and radiation so that we can save the chemo for down the line.
The scans came back good!!! The rest of my cancer is stable. So, right now I wait til my Tuesday appointment with my oncologist. My husband and I will make a decision at that time on how we are going to proceed.
I just need a plan!
What am I thankful for?! Hats, christmas shopping on the internet, and text messaging!


Treatment and Training

I had treatment this week. Another uneventful trip up to Omaha, though it was only 9 degrees! Just keep asking myself why I don't live somewhere warm! My blood counts were all a little low, as was my Glucose and my blood pressure, but nothing too worrisome. No treatment needed.
My back is doing great! I got my gym membership renewed, FINALLY, and did 5 miles on the treadmill on Friday. Life is good! Here is hoping that things can stay quiet enough this time that not only can I train for the 1/2 marathon, but I can also RUN it!!! Last year was so disappointing, I would hate to go through that again!
What am I thankful for?!
60 degree days in December, twinkling Christmas lights, and ...


Let it be over

My back is fine now! Thanks for all the support! Now, on to holiday shopping, Christmas plays, and holiday parties...have at it!
What am I thankful for?!
Sunny Days.


QUICK update

The "Princess" is recovering! Doing better every day!
Thankful for?!
Moments of clarity.
ps- That is the last of the "princess" comments!



I had my surgery yesterday to fix my spine, and hopefully get back on the running trails!
I went in in the morning with Dan, my mom and my dad. They checked me in and proceeded to check my name and birthday a million times, I think they were waiting for me to mess up, but I tell you, I stayed strong and got it right every time!
The surgery before me got cancelled, so they rushed me into my backless gown and thigh high compression socks! Sexy! They asked me one final time if my name was Tracy and if I go by that. I said "Yes, that or Princess", so the last thing I remember before being wheeled off to surgery was, "Let's go, Princess!" HAHAHA! I am telling you, you might not find that as funny as I do, but no one calls me princess and definately not in the state I was in...hair falling out of my ponytail, no makeup, and my ass hanging out of a hospital gown big enough for 6 of me!
But, the surgery went well! He kept all the cement where it was supposed to be and most importantly out of my spinal canal, and really, what more can a girl ask for?!
The cement has now dried and I am recovering. It is a little more painful than I expected it to be, but I got a new pair of running shoes as a recovery gift from my sister and parents, and I am keeping my eye on the prize! I am going to run that half marathon if it kills me! (I mean that figuratively, not literally, so calm down!)
What am I thankful for?!
My doggy who has kept me good company all day.


Whirl Wind couple of weeks!

Since last BLOGed, I gathered with about 50 of my closest friends and did the American Cancer Societies "Making Strides" against breast cancer walk! It was cold, but they all came out in their pink shirts, hats, scarves, glasses, wigs, and pink ribbons to support me and breast cancer research! As I looked around at them, I knew that spending the better part of a Sunday walking around a lake in the wind and cold, some carrying children and some pushing strollers, couldn't be how they wanted to spend their day! But, they did it with smiles on their faces, and never complained! I have the most amazing support group and I am thankful for them every day! The event raised approximately $120,000 towards research for the prevention and hopefully a cure to breast cancer!
I am scheduled to see a neurosurgeon on this coming monday to look at repairing my spine. The 20% compression fracture that I had in my spine after they treated my cancer (in April of this year) with radiation has increased to 60%. Unfortunately, that means that until I meet with the neurosurgeon there will be no more running for me. There is a procedure that they can do, called a vertebroplasty, which may releive my pain and allow me to run again! It consists of filling the vertebra with a cement type substance. This increases the height of the vertebra and also stops the compression from getting worse.
In the meantime, in an effort to be the best mom ever, I took my kids to Disney World, and we rode every ride!!! It was magical... and at times stressful, but I wouldn't change the memories for the world! HOWEVER, if you are considering taking a 4 year old, schedule in some nap time!!!!!!! That is all I am going to say about that!
Before we left for Disney I got to meet Paul, John, and Preston (and Tracy, for a second) from Extreme Home Makeover. My friend Teresa swung that one! I was so excited because I watch the show all the time, and I think what they do for families is amazing. I wanted to tell them what an amazing thing it is that they are doing for people in crisis, and have it come from the heart and from someone that was not directly benefiting from their work. They were GREAT, and even let me bring the kids back! While they were filming a walk thru of the house Paul talked to Skye in the Production trailer. Skye thought that was awesome! Paul and John loaded the kids up with CANDY and signed shirts for them! They were SO great to the kids and I! It was a great experience, and the kids, who already loved the show before, find it even that much more exciting now that they have met Paul and John. They met Preston for a second, but he had a headache! =) It is tough being a star!!!
What am I thankful for!?
Friends and family decked out in pink, ABC's Extreme Home Makeover, new friends, Mickey Mouse, BIG rollercoasters, Limos, and the the priceless looks on my little boys faces when we met the Power Rangers at Disney!


Just an ordinary day!?

Wednesday morning I got up at 4:45am. I showered. I put on my makeup, including lipstick. I took out my earrings and my belly button piercing. I put on jog pants, a sweatshirt, and tennis shoes. I made one final once over in the mirror to insure I had no metal on, then I drove to the hospital in the rain.
Once at the hospital I was signed in, strapped to an MRI table, blindfolded, (starting to sound kinky?), and slid into a tube. I spent the next 90 minutes listening to the soothing sounds of the MRI machine, which can only be compared to having a jackhammer by your head, with an occasional soft voice saying "ok, how you doing? This next picture will take about two minutes.".
After the MRI's of my spine, I moved out into the hallway where I sat for the next 60 minutes savoring the nourishment of barium contrast ...the breakfast of champions! When my 60 minutes were up I was ushered into another room where I got one last shot glass full of contrast and was slid back into modern technology...."take a deep breath, now hold it, 16, 15, 14....3, 2, 1, and breath". We did this about 8 times, and they sent me on my way.
I was right on schedule to be about 20 minutes late for the annual Breast Cancer Survivors luncheon (which I am thinking has got to be a lot more lively than the Breast Cancer Non-Survivors luncheon!). I was not too shaken when about 3/4th of the way there my gas light came on, but when I hit that parked car in the parking garage, I was starting to get a little pissed at how this day was going, and it wasn't even noon yet. So, I tore off a piece of an envelope lying on the floor and scrawled down my name, number, and plates and "I hit your car." I put it under their windsheild wiper and ran in to my second hospital of the day, because I am a survivor, damn it!
At the survivors luncheon I sat with 2 friends and 5 strangers and listened to a woman talk about her breast cancer experience. It is so weird to hear someone talk about their breast cancer experience, because some parts, like how horrible it is to have to tell your parents that you have cancer, are so much the same, and other parts are so very different. Like the fact that I never lost my hair or a breast. These were fears of mine in the beginning, but never happened to me as it has for most other women with breast cancer. It is strange to be in a room full of people who you should feel a strong connection to and still feel so very alone. But, I guess everyone's experience is different, as different as our personalities.
Finally, after the luncheon, it was time to wait for the phone to ring. My friends and I headed back to watch TV and....wait.
It was the PA that called. I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was smiling. She actually laughed a little as she spoke. She said that all my scans showed that my cancer was stable, and some areas even showed improvement!
I cried.
I laughed.
I thanked God.
I cried.
I napped.
I went out to eat.
I threw up.
I cried.
I hugged my kids.
I kissed my husband.
I went to bed.
What am I thankful for?! I am thankful that there was no little old man waiting outside the hospital to beat me with his cane for hitting his car in the parking garage. I am thankful that I didn't run out of gas. I am thankful for the woman that was brave enough to share her breast cancer story. I am thankful for my friends and family, and I am thankful for the two most precious little boys in the world. They are my heart and my strength!


Still no news.

No news yet on my appeal to my insurance company to get my PET scan. If they deny my PET on appeals then I will have to decide if I want to wait and try to get my secondary insurance to approve it, or if I just want to go ahead with CT scans and MRIs instead. Should hear back from my insurance company on Monday.
What am I thankful for?!
Husker wins and pink M&Ms!


No news.

Still no news on when my scans will be. My oncologist wrote a letter to the insurance company explaining my need, and I guess right now we are just waiting.
On Sunday I ran a 5K run, the Komen Race for a Cure. I got 3rd place in the Survivors Division, and we made the Omaha World Herald on Monday! I got a trophy!!! Pretty good for the diseased, and fairly non-athletic girl! It was a great morning, and over 12,000 people participated in the walk! It was AMESOME!!!!
I will let you all know when I actually get my scans scheduled!!!!
What am I thankful for?!?!
Snuggling under the blankets when it is rainy and chilly outside, Melissa Etheridge, and Don Q rum!



Well, I have heard back from my insurance company and they said that they are not going to okay my PET/CT scan. They said that I needed a letter from my doctor indicating why I needed a scan....ummmm...because I have metastatic cancer!!!!?
Seriously, around scan time I get a little crazy!!! I stayed home from work for a half of day on Thursday and then all day on Monday! There is always that chance that my life might change dramatically in a blink of an eye!
On Sunday night I had what might be considered a complete break from reality! Around 10pm, after the kids went to bed, I got really mad about having CANCER! This lovely...apparently over stressed break led to my screaming and bawling and hitting my hubby and our home office until he directed me to the bedroom so that I did not wake up the children! I totally agreed and willingly moved to our bedroom, and then... wanted to throw everything heavy we own out the plate glass windows!! Strong, or crazy?!?! I am guessing, on a crazy scale, with 1 being pretty close to normal, and 10 being naked in traffic singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider, I was closely approching a 9.5!!! So, if you hear the Itsy Bitsy spider, grab a blanket and throw me in your trunk!!! Much love!!!!
What am I thankful for!?!?!
Time to myself.



My insurance company has not yet okay'ed my PET/CT scan. I will updated you all when I find out when it will be rescheduled! It has been a stressful few days/week, and it looks like that will be delayed a little longer.
What am I thankful for?!
My old insurance company that didn't need precertification for PET scans!!!


Inside out!

I am now less than a week from scan time!!! Next Tuesday I will be having my PET/CT to see what is going on inside me. I don't know about you, but I prefer my insides to stay....well....inside! The scan takes between 2-4 hours. I will have the scan on Tuesday, and then I will go back on Thursday to meet with the doctor to get my results and then to get my treatment.
Things have been going pretty well lately. I have had some back and neck pain and some other small issues, but nothing has gone terribly wrong.
What am I thankful for?!


3am and nothing to do

Just got done tossing and turning in bed and watching a little prerecorded tv. Thought maybe if I typed a little I could get some junk out of my head and be done with it for awhile! I think I use this as a forum to convince myself of things, more than anything else.
After I blogged the other day, I went back and read a bunch of my old blogs, looking at where I was a year ago, at how I was dealing with this all. I had blogs which seemed almost embarrassingly over optimistic when you read the rest of the story. At first, I started to feel like I was only fooling myself, and there was no point my optimism....it was a very ugly time for me, and just not my nature. That is when I started to think about all the time that I HAVE been here since my diagnosis, and how my optimism has helped me and my family and children deal with this horrible disease. I don't want to spend what time I have left here being unhappy or making the people around me unhappy. No one knows how much time they have here and I could live longer than any one of you! While I have gotten some unwanted inside information on my possible fate, that doesn't mean that I should stop living now or not applaud every little piece of good news we get, even if it only lasts for one week, because I can tell you, that was one damn good week, and I am glad I had it! The good weeks, days, or months, give me time to rebuild my strength so that I can tackle the next obstacle with all I have.
So, if you have also read back through my blogs and you felt sorry for me, or felt like I was only fooling myself, please remember, that I vow to enjoy every great thing that happens to me, no matter how small or how insignificant it may be to the big picture, because this is my life and I only have one chance at it! I am no different than anyone else!
Well, I am going to sneek up and kiss my kids one more time, and try to get a couple more hours of sleep before work tomorrow.
What am I thankful for?! I am thankful that I have been given the time to tell my kids, family, and friends how much I love them, and that I am aware of how important is it to talk to my children about things I want them to know later in life. I don't know if I would have been so good at those kinds of things if I didn't feel a sort of urgency to do them!


The good news didn't last long.

I have not BLOGed for quite a long time. I am not even sure why. The thing is, I was just so happy to have finally gotten some good news, that when it all turned around, I think I was too disappointed to BLOG about it. Here is what happened. When I had my PET scan, the week following my last BLOG, it showed that I actually DO have cancer in my rib. Rib pain is apparently never JUST rib pain. There were also some abnormalities noted in both of my ovaries, but that has not been determined to be cancer, but just something worth watching at this point. The PET scan also showed that the area of my spine that was cancerous is much improved since my radiation treatments, which I could have told you by the mere improvement in my pain level! I generally have no pain in my back.
So, if you are keeping a tally and have lost track, I now have slow growing cancerous areas in my right breast, newly diagnosed cancer in my right 6th rib, 2 faint cancerous spots in my liver that are stable now for a year, improved spots in my T2 and T3 vertebra of my spine, and we are keeping watch on my ovaries.
Now, that brings us to treatment. What the doctor and I have decided to do, is keep me on the herceptin as it seems to be controlling my liver spots, and add tamoxifen (an antiestrogen) and zometa (a biophosphate). The tamoxifen is a pill that I take every day. It can cause hot flashes (which would cut down on my need to run a space heater in my office) and other menopausal type symptoms. I have been on it for a little over a month and I have not noticed any side effects at this point. The zometa is given every three weeks in the doctors office by an IV drip. It only takes about 15 minutes to infuse. The herceptin takes 1.5 hours, so it is pretty quick compared to that! The zometa can cause bone pain, but so far mine has been fairly mild and only lasts a day or two. The zometa doesn't treat the cancer, but my doctor thinks that it will make an unfavorable environment in my bones for the cancer grow and therefore, hopefully, slow the progression of my disease. Right now the game plan is to slow the overall progression of my disease as much as possible and try to maintain on the drugs that I am currently on. My doctor will keep a close eye on me, and when he or I feel like the progression is too much, I will go back into weekly chemotherapy treatments (the big guns). Since I responded so well last time, he doesn't expect any different the next time around. There will be a point in time when these drugs stop working, so we do not want to use them any sooner than we have to. And, I didn't really want to spend another summer going through weekly treatments and blood transfusions, I had things I wanted to accomplish! I wanted to get my kids to the pool and teach them how to swim. It has been a great summer with Skye playing coach pitch baseball, Laken running track, and both of them have learned how to swim well enough to go off the diving boards. Skye can even do a flip off the board!
I was able to personally accomplish so things too. I ran a 2-mile race over the Fourth of July. It was not a marathon, but after having spent 3 months being treated and recouping for cancer in my spine it was a great accomplishment. It was a very sad day, because my cousin was not there to high five at the finish line, but I ran the race in his memory, and I know that he was there in spirit, watching over me and making sure that I was okay.
My other big accomplishment over the summer was my Relay for Life efforts. Our relay team ended up earning $15,500 for the American Cancer Society!!! We won awards for our outstanding fundraising as well as for our TEAM SPIRIT! We had 28 members on our team and 19 of them actually stayed ALL night! It was amazing, but was emotionally and physically draining for most! There were over 4000 luminaries lit, 20 with my name on them, and the whole relay raised approximately $320,000!!! Let's hope that we find a CURE! I had a dream the other night that I was watching my mom put flowers on my grave. It was a horrible dream, but would be an even worse reality.
What am I thankful for?! Dancing in the rain at midnight, riding mechanical bulls, drinking margaritas, the electricity of lightning storms, anniversaries, my fantastic children, today, yesterday, and tomorrow!


Quick update!

GREAT NEWS!!! My rib pain is just rib pain!!!! The x-rays showed NO suspicious lesions!!! SUPER FANTASTIC!!!!!!
I will be having a PET scan next week to get a good look at my WHOLE system!
Thankful for?! Getting good news!


Fun filled -all cancer- weekend!

That title just doesn't sound quite right, does it? But honestly, that is exactly what it was.

On Friday, some of my fantastic co-workers and I held a golf outing/dinner/raffle at a local golf course and raised nearly $4000.00 for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life! It was any amazing success considering we were just planning a "little outing". (We had no idea we would make as much money as we did. That brings our team to about $8000.00 in fundraising so far this year, and we have more events to go! Do you think we can make it to $10,000? Our goal was $7500.00, and when I set that goal, I think some of my teammates were a little if-y about our ability to raise that much money!)

On Saturday we attended a benefit for a classmate of mine from my hometown who has been receiving treatment for a brain tumor. They had a huge golf tournament followed by a raffle/silent auction/live auction and a live band. It was a huge success! It was good to see so many of our old classmates and people from our community out supporting her and her beautiful family. I know that it had to very emotional and overwhelming.

Tonight? Tonight I snuggled the boys until they fell asleep. I love those little creatures so much, and I thought that would help me sleep, but no such luck. I have been having some pain in my ribs, so I am going to see my oncologist tomorrow morning to see what he thinks about it, and to see if we have a plan for my treatment. I guess I am kind of scared, and feel like my cancer might just be growing out of control in there! It is so hard to think about that. Ever since I found out that my back pain was really due to my cancer, it has been hard not to wonder, every time I have an ache or pain, if it is my cancer spreading. We already know it is in my breast again, and we don't know if the cancer in my spine is gone or not, yet, so I just feel like I am in limbo! I like to have a plan. It is hard to just think I am sitting back doing nothing, and potentially letting my cancer spread. I am hoping that my doc will go along with the idea of getting a PET scan to check out ALL of my bones! It sure would make me feel better! Then I would know for sure what was going on, and I could deal with it. Not knowing...sucks, to be quite honest.

What am I thankful for?! I am thankful that I got to see my oldest son play baseball today, I am thankful that I will be able to see my youngest son run track tomorrow, and I am thankful that I have a huge support group to help me through all this, when I need them.


Worse and then Better

The morning after I typed my last blog, I already felt like I had been disceiving. My last blog was pretty upbeat and painted a pretty nice picture of how I was doing at the time. I think maybe I felt like if I said I was happy and feeling well that I just would be. The truth is, radiation sucked a little more than I expected it to.
Radiation was disceiving to me because, I would go in to the doctors office, lay face down on a table, and for 30 seconds I would hear a clicking sound, and then I would head off to work. I saw and felt nothing. It is hard to imagine that you can have side effects related to a clicking sound coming from another part of a room. I did have them though. I am easily tired these days, and I had a bad bout of esophagitis, but it thankfully only lasted a few days.
On the bright side, my last radiation treatment was this past Tuesday, but the fatigue is still there. Most evenings I am ready for bed at about 7pm, and getting up on time for work has not been that easy either. It doesn't help that I am awake from about 2:30am to 4:30am a lot of nights! Nights are especially hard for me, because they give me time to think. During the day I keep myself busy with work, the kids, the Realy for Life, friends, and family, but at night, there is nothing to keep me from thinking about this mess that I have somehow gotten stuck with. Mostly I worry about my kids, and how they will deal with my illness and....such.
I had my herceptin treatment this past Thursday, and met with my doc. I am still doing that every three weeks. He hasn't decided on whether or not to do any additional type of treatment yet. And, he has me on a lot of restricitions right now while my spine is in its current weakened state. I still can not run, I am not supposed to be lifting anything, and no strenuous activities. They worry about compression fractures. They will scan me in a month to see what the radiation did, and then we will proceed from there. I am hoping that I will get the okay to run at that point, but I do remember them saying that it takes about 6 months for new healthy bone to replace the areas that have been radiated, so maybe it will be longer than I had anticipated. I better start a walking program.
Well, if I don't wrap this up, the birds are going to be singing!
What am I thankful for?! I am thankful that the radiation has relieved my back pain for the most part, and I am thankful that summer is here!


A month of Celebrations!

The past month, has been both trying and blessed! In the past month, not only have I started back into cancer treatments, but I was also able to celebrate the birthday of both of the amazing little boys that God has truly blessed me with. I also celebrated the birthday's of a couple of close friends and celebrated my own 32nd birthday! As you might notice, I see no reason in hiding my age or pretending to be 29 plus a couple, or any other foolishness. I am proud of my age and will celebrate each and every birthday I am blessed to have. Beats the alternative!

I am guessing you are wondering what is going on with the cancer treatments. I am having radiation on my spine here in town, so that cuts down on the drive time. The plan was to go every day for two weeks, but that has been pushed to three weeks to help avoid some side effects. So far it has not been too bad. The drive across town takes about 3 times as long as the actually treatment does, and the side effects are minimal. I have had a little fatigue and a little problem with swelling of my esophagus due to radition falling past my spine. But, the main thing is that the back pain is getting MUCH better, and that is great news for me! I have been off of all my pain killers for three days now, and my side effects are so minimal right now, that I have not had to take any of the other stuff that has been prescribed. I did have a tough spell last week, but I think that was mainly due to a bad cold that just exacerbated my symptoms.
I did get the biopsy results back from my breast biopsy and they showed that the breast cancer that has shown up in my breast is the same HER2/NEU + type that I have had, so I will not be having any surgery, and we plan to just watch it and wait. If it gets significantly bigger, spreads, or the spots elsewhere in my system start to grow, then I will go back on to chemotherapy. For now we are going to treat my spine with the radiation and continue with the Herceptin every three weeks.

And to help me stay busy, I am going to continue to go to my 4 year olds track practices and meets, my 7 year olds little league baseball games, we will go swimming and play with friends, I will work and socialize, and I will continue my efforts to raise money for the American Cancer Society through the Relay for Life. Also, I haven't given up on the idea of running a half marathon, so if radiation goes REALLY well, I will begin a training program again.

What am I thankful for?! Birthdays!


Back into treatment.

Well, a lot has happen since I last Blogged, and I know there are a lot of rumors, true and untrue, circulating out there.

Here is the deal. The spots that they biopsied in my breast, some of those were cancerous and some of those were not cancerous. They sent them back to pathology to see if they are the same Her2/neu + breast cancer I have right now, or if they are a new type of breast cancer. I do not have an answer on this yet, nor do we have a plan set up to deal with them.

The other big news, which is very disappointing (but we can handle it) is that my back pain...which I was blaming on muscle spasms after my run, has progressed and is actually cancer in my spine. I had an MRI done, and the cancer is isolated to two levels of my thoracic spine. It is maintained within the bone and is not in the spinal canal at this time. I will start radiation treatment, hopefully on Monday. This will be directed at my spine and will be daily for 4-6 weeks.

I had all my other scans done as well, and everything else is stable. So...I am going to stay on Herceptin every three weeks, add radiation to the spine, and NOT start any further chemo at this time. They will watch me closely, and we will fight fires as they start!

I hope this clears things up!

What am I thankful for?!
I am thankful that my doctor looked into the possibility of cancer in my spine instead of just giving me pain killers and muscle relaxers. (Let's get this taken care of NOW!)
I am thankful for my FANTASTIC children whose innocence and love get me through the tough times! They are great snugglers!!!


Welcome to my Rollercoaster!

Well, it has been quite a month since I last sat here, about to pass into my one year survivorship anniversary.

I have been to Jamaica~ and almost didn't come back! (I could get used to that kind of lifestyle, but there is not much calling for a"professional resort bum".) When I got back I had to kick the running back into gear, because I virtually undid all my pre-trip training while I was in Jamaica!

I had a 10K race on April 22nd that I FINISHED which was my first goal, I was not last which was my second goal, and I beat my personal record which was my third goal, so all in all that race went well. Mostly thanks to my friend Lori for running next to me and reminding me not to walk! She kept saying "Tracy, you are a strong person, you can do this! You have beaten bigger things!" My thoughts~ Okay, you convinced me and you are right, I will just ignore the fact that my lungs are dragging on the ground behind me and I will keep running! You have to love friends like that!

Now, the next hurdle is the half-marathon which is quickly approaching~on May 7th! One must bear in mind that I had the 10K last weekend; it is now Friday, and due to some pretty nasty back spasms and some pretty stressful medical news I have not run all week! This does not make for good pre-marathon training!

First things first. The back spasms, I am blaming those on my dad because he has been getting back spasms for as long as I can remember. So, not only did I inherit his stunning good looks (if you like big ears), I also got his bad back! But, luckily for me I have a dear friend who is a chiropractor and she has been treating my back, so hopeful this will be resolved soon. I would like to get a couple more training runs in or I will stroke out running the half-marathon!

As for the disheartening medical news, it is not really all that tragic right now, but just quite stressful. I recently went in for a mammogram due to some breast pain that I was having. The mammogram showed that the calcifications that were still present at the site of my primary tumor after chemo, in August '05, are now virtually resolved(AWESOME NEWS), however, I now have a new area of calcifications in another area of my breast which are concerning to the docs. I had this area biopsied yesterday and will get the results on Monday.

Did I mention that I have a half-marathon to run in just over a week?!?! There will be no opting out of the marathon! (Sorry Dad and Dan, I know you worry, but I have to do this, and I will be FINE!) I just got my race shirt ordered. On the front it says "PERSEVERE" in honor of my fight against cancer, and on the back it says "Running in memory of (my cousin)" who was a supporter of me and a hero to many! I am counting on him to give me a little nudge from the heavens on the day of the run!

Well, there you have it! Happy Arbor Day & Hug a tree!!

What am I thankful for?!
I am thankful for the Relay for Life which gives me a positive distraction and a goal to work towards.
I am thankful for all of you that have donated to our cause and/or sent your well wishes!
I am thankful for my work friends who are going through cancer treatments~ my thoughts and prayers are with you.
I am thankful that my friend with a newly diagnosed tumor is STRONG and has a strong support network because that is so important, especially when you are in and out of the hospital and have small children! (You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!)

All my love,


Less than two hours left

A couple of weeks ago, when I had my 3 month follow up testing, I found out that my cancer continues to be stable. The spots in my spine actually appeared to have improved. Unfortunately, they were able to see two spots in my liver which they actually feel were visible on prior CT scans, but were just not reported because they are so small. One spot is approximately 6mm and one spot is approximately 7mm. As long as these spots stay this size and don't grow, we are not going to worry about them (easier said than done).
Tonight I found the inspiration to type as I look back on the last year and all that has come of it, as tomorrow is the one year anniversary of when this all began for me.
One year ago tomorrow I began a journey towards living. Because, little to my knowledge and little to the knowledge of those around me I was dying. It wasn't painful, it wasn't scary, as a matter of fact, it was easy. What isn't easy? Living isn't easy. It is hard work. It takes will. And, a lot of the time it hurts. It hurt in my bones, it hurt in my heart, and it hurt to the bottom of my soul. I went through MRIs, CT scans, PET scans, x-rays, 2 port surgeries, 6 rounds of chemo therapy, and a couple fairly uninspiring counseling appointments. I saw people come and go at chemotherapy, older people and younger people. I saw people cry when they got good results and cry when they got bad results. I saw people come in for one, two, and ten year follow ups and be disease free. I saw family members bring in food to the doctors and nurses who cared for their love one up until they slipped away. I learned that nothing in life is guaranteed and I learned that if you want something bad enough, you damn well better work for it. I learned that life is to short to waste your time worrying about things that don't matter. I learned that you need to embrace the good things in your life and try to rid your life of the toxic things that cloud your existance. And, I learned that 100 percent of the time this is easier said than done.
I learned that you can not run away from cancer, but trying sure makes you feel better. I learned that if you are just crazy enough you can run 13.1 miles on a treadmill at the gym and it is healing on the mind and hard on the knees! I learned that if you are lucky enough to have great family and friends they will applaud you for your acheivements and some will even rub your feet!
Most of all, I learned that strength and courage has to come from within. It can not be given to us by others, but the will to seek that strength within can be found when looking into the eyes of your children, or your parents, or your spouse or a friend.
What am I thankful for?!? I am not one of those people who will say that I am thankful that I got cancer or that it is the best thing that ever happened to me....that is bull. However, I am thankful for the things that I have learned so far, I am thankful for the love I saw in others that helped me build on my strength, I am thankful that I will likely get to see my children celebrate their 4th and 7th birthdays in May, I am thankful to be going on an amazing vacation with my husband, and.....most of all, I am thankful to be here to experience life, even when it sucks, because I am not willing to take the alternative!



Just a quick note.... My computer has been down, so I didn't have time to BLOG, and I am too busy to do it tonight too, but I just wanted to let you know that all went well last Thursday! My cancer is stable, and I can be free of worry for the next 3 months! More BLOGGING to come soon....
What am I thankful for?!?! All the people who supported me in the last couple of weeks and helped me through the stress of it all.
Love you!


Let the meltdown begin!

Well, where do I start. A few things have been going on in the last month. I have been training for my half-marathon, started attending team leader meetings for the Relay for Life, and had another treatment.

I have gotten started on my list of things I want to do before I die. Not that I plan to die anytime soon, but mainly because I think everyone should have a list, and I am 30+ and some of my goals warrant some sort of youthfulness, so I thought I better get started on mine. Of the things on my list I am currently working on a) running a marathon, b) speaking out about something that means something to me (despite my stagefright), and c) doing something with this life change(cancer) I have been given.

So, to start toward my goal of running a marathon I thought I better run a HALF marathon(don't want to kick the bucket running 26.2 miles right off the bat, when I have spent the last ten months trying so hard to LIVE. That would be a damn shame!). I have been running about 5 times per week. I average between 25-30 miles per week, and my longest run so far was 10 miles. I just started lifting a little this week. I am going to run the city's Half Marathon on May 7th. I plan to run this for 2 reasons. The first reason being that I want to prove that I am not sick! I want to feel like I have some control over this body of mine. All through chemo I felt out of control of my body, which is a pretty sucky way to feel if I might say so myself! I feel like if I can propel this bod of mine 13.1 miles without falling over, that I have some control over what my body is doing...ie. more control over my body than my cancer does!!! The second reason I want to run this is to run in memory of my cousin, Jeff. Because he was a marathon runner, and because I told him I would someday, and well, there is no better time than the present. He has gotten me through several of my longer training runs. Several times, as I have been running on the treadmill I have located a spot and concentrated on it. During this time, I picture him telling me that I can do it! And, honestly, I truely think he is watching over me, because otherwise, I have no explaination for how I, of all people, can run 10 miles!!! =)

Now, the next two goals are kind of running together at the moment. I feel like I must have gotten cancer for a reason, and I am not sure what that reason is, so for right now, I am going to put energy into fundraising for cancer research. Since I have been given this disease, I want to do something with it. I am going to use my experience to help raise money for reasearch(and motivate other to do the same) which may eventually save millions of peoples lives, and if it brings about a cure soon enough, it may even save my life! That is were the Relay 4 Life comes in! The relay raises money every year to fund research. It is by far one of the largest fundraising campaigns in the US for cancer research, and their funds have been used to discover/create the drug Herceptin which currently is doing a large part in keeping me in a "partial remission". I owe my life, literally, to these advances in cancer research! Now, in addition to fundraising, and organizing teams, and so forth, I have also agreed to speak at the next team leader meeting. This may not seem like much to you, but for me that is HUGE, because I have a real fear of public speaking, and there are about 70-100 people that attend these meetings! I am going to speak out about my disease, what has happened to me, the fact that YOUNG women do get breast cancer, the importance of self exams and advocating for yourself with your doctor even if you aren't 40 years old yet, and why it means so much to us cancer survivors to see everyone gather at tracks across the United States to raise money, and awareness, and most of all to foster HOPE. HOPE for a cure! A cure in my lifetime, or a cure in my children's lifetime, or in the lifetime of my grandchildren.

Now, enough about life goals. I did have treatment last week, and I suppose you want to know how that went. Well, I proudly waltzed into the office in my "I love my Oncologist" t-shirt and went through the routine- everything looks good, drip...drip...drip... Oh, my hemoglobin was low, so I got a shot to boost my red blood cell production, but that was the only thing out of the ordinary, and was no big deal. THEN, I found out that all my scans are at my next visit. I will be getting scanned on Feb 16th. They will do a CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and my pelvis, and a MUGA scan to see how my heart is holding up to the Herceptin. Right now I am handling the news of have my scans right around the corner quite well, but I will probably check in with you all again the week before, because that is when the reality of it all usually hits. I mean really, I feel well, but I felt well before I was diagnosed too, and at that time I was harboring a 5 cm breast tumor and two smaller breast tumors, bone mets, and 3 liver tumors! So, I will not know for sure until the doctor walks into the office at 1pm (or there about, he is usually 45-60 minutes behind) on Feb 26th. Until then, one can only assume that a higher power would not let me continue to put myself through all this half-marathon training if he was just going to throw my butt back into full chemo, right?!?! And, I have a trip to Jamaica planned for my 1 year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, and I am really not going to miss THAT!!!! So, from the week prior to the 16th of Feb thru about 3pm that day, please do whatever it is you do- pray for me, send me good vibes, cross your fingers, do the no cancer hula....I don't care, but whatever you do, help me through this!!! There are times I feel like I can do it all myself, and there are times that I see myself as a little speck in this vast universe, and feel like I could use all the good forces out there to back this little speck up!!

What am I thankful for?!?! A winter that feels like spring, a friend that pushes me to train and supports me every step of the way and applauds my accomplishments no matter how small, members of the American Cancer Society that believe in my strength and encourage me to spread my message, and all of you who read this stuff I write, because without you, I am just writing all this to myself, and if you think about it, that is a little weird!!!
Love, Me



I had treatment again this week, and it was pretty routine...hello, yes, everything is going well...okay...drip, drip, drip...bye-bye.

Christmas went well, but I am glad it is over...New Years too! I think I am just ready for a new year! I hope this one goes better than the last. I am not up for any more big bombshells! My 1 yr anniversary of my diagnosis is the second week in March. I can't believe that it has been almost a year! It went pretty fast, considering! I think I slept through about 4 months of it though, so that could be why it went so fast for me!

My doc says I have one more routine treatment left, and then we will scan again before the treatment after that! It just seems like my scans were finished, and we are talking about doing it again. It is so strange to think that this is how my life is going to be from here on out! Measured in three month increments! But, if this had been 10-15 years ago, I would have been given a prognosis of only about 3 months, so I won't complain! LIFE IS GOOD for me right now. For the most part, I don't even remember I am sick until it is treatment time, and people I meet have NO idea unless I tell them, which...why would I?!

Well, I just really don't have much to say other than, Here is to a BETTER 2006!!!

What am I thankful for?! A new year with me in it! Cheers!!!