Welcome to my world

I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and a friend.
I've learned that who you have in your life matters more than what you have.
Thank you for stepping in to my world!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1438

It's National Lighthouse Day!

It was on this day in 1789, that Congress approved an Act for the establishment and support of lighthouse, beacons, buoys and public piers. In Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the signing of the Act and the commissioning of the first Federal lighthouse, Congress passed a resolution which designated August 7, 1989 as National Lighthouse Day.

If you know me at all, you know that I have a deep love for lighthouses.  It began a long, long time ago when my family would vacation in Maine every summer.  We would stay at the same beach house and I'd sleep in the same bed, putting my pillow at the other end of the bed so I could see the lighthouse blinking in the distance.  That was the Wood Island light.

Even though I've never lived on the coast, I've been fortunate to visit many beautiful lighthouses.  Watch Hill Light (RI), Cape May (NJ), Fenwick Island (MD), Cape Henry (VA), Sullivan's Island (SC), Morris Island (SC), Hunting Island (SC), Harbour Town (SC), Tybee Island (GA), St Augustine (FL), and Jupiter Inlet (FL) and some others I've probably forgotten.

One of the most amazing places I've ever been is the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  The sand, the sea, the small towns, and the lighthouses!!  Currituck Beach, Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras, Okracoke, and Cape Lookout are some of the most majestic and scenic lighthouses you'll find.  I could retire a very happy woman if I could wake up every day to a view of any of those.

Even my small hometown of Saugerties, NY in the Hudson Valley has a lighthouse, and you can even stay there (it's a B&B)! 

I know that technology has diminished the usefulness of lighthouses for navigation purposes, but these beacons are a beautiful and unforgettable part of history.  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1437

August is a strange month for me.  If you've read any part of my blog over the last four years, you know that August 1st was d-day for me.  That right there should put this month in the crapper for the rest of my life.  Three years ago my dad was fighting for his life after a heart attack and massive stroke.  Seven years ago my sweet mother-in-law was days away from taking her last breath.

You'd think when I flip my calendar to August, I'd make sure I had an adult beverage in my hand.  But.... whenever I need inspiration for something to write about, I go back and read my blog posts from this day in years past.  And tonight, reading the post from 8/6/14 hit me almost like a blow, but not in a bad way.  More like in a reality check way.

Three years ago I wrote:

Last night I went to bed in tears, afraid I was seeing the last of my dad. Tonight I am going to bed with a thankful heart... for God giving my dad some peace and rest, for the nurses who are taking amazing care of him, for Marion who is most definitely standing by her man, for my mom and my brother who are with me as we watch over my dad and hope for the best, for my BFF who I saw today for the first time in a year, and for my Hubby who is giving me whatever I need.
Blessed, even in troubled times.

Blessed, even in troubled times.  When did I get so wise?  Even when life f**ks you over, God is always good.  
Most of my life I have been accused of being a dreamer and living with my head in the clouds (or in a book, take your pick).  After all of the things I've been through in my adult life, I call it something else:  finding the silver lining no matter how bleak things look.

August of 2010 was incredibly sad.  August of 2013 was the absolute worst time of my life.  August 2014 was the scariest time of my life.  But you know what?  There's always a silver lining.  

August 1, 2015 was a lovely, wonderful, romantic day.  My mom and her longtime love were married in a simple outdoor ceremony at one of her favorite places.  She and her hubby celebrate birthdays in August.  My BFF's birthday is August 10th.  My big brother's birthday is August 23.  BFF's daughter's birthday is August 28th.  My beautiful amazing daughter was conceived in August.  I have plenty of reasons to make this a month worth celebrating.

Before I know it, summer will turn to fall and life will go crazy.  Between work and school, band and football games and the ever-present softball, we rarely have a free minute.  So for now, I'm going to enjoy these last two weeks of summer vacation with my kids.  I'm going to soak up some sunshine, sleep late when I can, and try to talk my daughter out of making yet another container of slime.

Dog days of summer..... let's make the most of them.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1432

Four years ago today.... d day.

I was at Family Life Center at First Baptist Church and my kids were roller skating.  When my phone rang and I saw my doctor's number, I knew.  She tried to go easy on me, asking if I wanted to come in to meet with her. I remember telling her "just say it".  Her response was, "It's not good."

I wasn't surprised.  I knew the instant I found the lump weeks earlier that it was going to be cancer.  There was no doubt in my mind.  I was on vacation with my kids, and then meeting Hubby in Kentucky for a softball tournament before heading home, so I had to pretend for several weeks.  Pretend that life was good, that I was fine, that I didn't have something unwanted growing inside me.  So getting the call that confirmed my fears wasn't a shock, but I don't think anyone is ever prepared to hear

you have cancer

Life as we knew it was forever changed.  My world would soon revolve around doctor visits, medications and test after test.  We learned through ultrasound that there were actually two tumors, and MRI showed cancer in my lymph nodes.  This was not going to be a walk in the park.  My genetic testing came back positive, so my doctors went into full battle mode.... we had to treat this aggressively.

Sixteen weeks of some of the harshest chemo out there....six weeks of radiation....seven surgeries in two years.... and now at least ten years of hormone therapy to keep cancer away.

I don't regret anything I've done in my battle with cancer.  I knew I would want to look back and know that I did everything I possibly could to make it go away and stay away.    It was no picnic, and even now four years later I am still feeling the effects of chemo and surgeries.  
But I showed cancer who was boss.

Thanks to the support of my amazing Hubby, I always get back up.

Happy 4th Cancer-versary to me!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1412

Vacation.... I'm using that term loosely tonight.  
What started out as a trip full of fun visits with friends & family, water parks, roller coasters and Jolly Cow ice cream has turned into a jumble of mishaps and medical issues.  

Before I get to the crap, let's share the good news.  My dad's lady friend is doing much better.  She came home from the hospital Monday night after getting good results on her CT scan and MRI.  She had a mini stroke (officially known as a Transient ischemic attack), but there shouldn't be any lasting negative effects.  She has to take it easy (instead of trying to be super woman.... a role she's been playing for three years) and get some help so she isn't doing 100% of everything.  My dad will not like that.... he acts like a temperamental toddler whenever anyone other than family comes over to help.  But he will just have to deal.

So after spending three days at their house on full time nursing duty spending time with my dad, cooking his meals, giving him his meds (he takes a LOT of pills!), checking his vitals, helping him up and down the stairs, getting him washed up and dressed, and dozing in the chair while he watched 12 hours of CNN, I came back to Mom's and woke up yesterday morning to this:

It started across my chest, and has since spread on my torso, down my left side and towards my back. 


I have not changed any of my bath or beauty products.  I have not been in a contaminated swimming pool or lake.  I am not wearing any new clothes.  The only thing new is my lymphedema, and I have to admit I'm a little freaked out because Dr. Google (and some of my breast cancer friends in the know) told me that cellulitis often goes hand in hand with lymphedema.  And is it an awful coincidence that the rash is mostly in the areas on my body where my lymphatic system is compromised?!?

I spent the afternoon at urgent care getting checked out.  The doctor said an infection like cellulitis doesn't usually present like this, that it looks more like a sensitivity or allergic reaction to something.  What that something is, we don't know.  The funny thing is, it doesn't itch.  It doesn't hurt.  Taking Benadryl doesn't help it, and cortisone cream doesn't either.  So what in the world is wrong with me?

Not only am I unnerved about having a mystery rash (no cancer patient wants a mystery anything when it comes to their health), but today I had to undress for a doctor unrelated to my cancer.  You would think after having two children, being examined by countless doctors over the last four years, having seven surgeries and undressing for 33 radiation treatments, it would be old hat.  It's not.  Even though I have admirable results from reconstruction, it's an illusion.  I'm scarred and have obviously reconstructed breasts.... my body is living proof of the wear and tear cancer and its treatment has on a person.  I've been seeing all of my cancer doctors for so long that I'm (sort of) comfortable with them, but someone new, not a cancer specialist, taking a look at my chest almost sent me into a panic attack.

Good thing they took my blood pressure before!

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  I started my first dose of prescribed steroids today, so maybe, just maybe, I will wake up and see some improvement.  If it continues to get worse, or other symptoms develop, then I have to be seen again.  I don't know what this rash is or what caused it, but I want it gone.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy spending time with my kids in my hometown, eating too much ice cream and finding fun things to do with my family.  We will be heading home next week, so I'm going to try and put away the worry and add the relaxation and joy back into my vacation.

Stupid cancer.