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!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 184

Twelve-year-old attitudes and seven-year-old whining seen to have taken over my house.  For some reason these little people think that Hubby and I are not in charge and that they can argue and question us on everything. Uh...no.

Most nights by the time my head hits the pillow I'm thinking "Calgon, take me away!".

Then there are nights like tonight, when my daughter says she's scared at bedtime and her big brother agrees to sleep on her bottom bunk (under a Rapunzel comforter, no less) so she won't be alone.

I always count my blessings at night, but it's nights like tonight that I do that counting with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

Kicking cancer's ass - day 183

12:30am and this is my life....
Who has time for cancer?  It's softball season!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 182

Today was a good, good day.  I don't say that because I had to drive three hours for my fifteen minute weekly appointment.  I don't say that because it was sunny and cool, not icy and frozen for our trip.  I don't say that because I woke up feeling good despite a horrible night's sleep.  I don't say that because this appointment gets me one step closer to approval from my plastic surgeon regarding radiation, the next big step on this journey.

Today was a good day because I got to spend the day with my Hubby.  We've done many, many road trips together and I enjoy the times when it's just him and me (until one or the other's cell phone starts going off).  It was also a good day because I was able to spend time with one of my very favorite people in the world.  My friend A lived near me when our sons were born (12 years ago!) and was my first real "mommy" friend here in Abilene. She has been battling ovarian cancer for almost 7 years and has a hospice nurse now. It's so sad to think about. She's even younger than I am, and I'M too young for this cancer crap!  We had a great visit, though.  I wanted to spend hours and hours soaking up her goodness, but Hubby reminded me that she probably needed to rest.  He was right.  I thought I would be sad seeing her, but we didn't shed one tear. Just warm, strong hugs and happy memories. 

(She didn't want this pic posted on facebook, but I love love love it and wanted to share, so I figured I'd post it here where only a select few would see it.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 181

I'm going to print this out and tape it on my bathroom mirror.  

Most days I power through whatever I have to deal with, whether it's an appointment or a procedure or just managing the side effects of my treatments and medications.  Sometimes I need a reminder, though, that even on my low days, there's a fierce little warrior inside me waiting to prove that I'm strong.  
I'm standing tall.
I am a survivor.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 180

This may sound weird, but one of the things I'm thankful for since my war with cancer began is that Hubby has become even more protective of me.  He always was, to some extent, but he was also always very good at letting me have my space since I'm pretty darn good at taking care of myself.  We have a wonderful marriage and he's a really good man, but I can honestly say that I love him even more for how much he takes care of me now.
I'm not embarrassed to say that I want to be taken care of (and not just because of the whole cancer thing).

My emotional needs have skyrocketed since last summer and he has really stepped up and tackled those, as well as the mile-long list of physical needs I've amassed since this whole thing started.  He goes to every appointment with me for moral support and to stay on top of what's going on with my treatments, he has learned how to empty drains and changed bandages and massages my sore arm.  He has brought me food that was the only thing that sounded good at the time, he has taken over homework duties with the kids and he's always the evening drop-off when one of the kids' friends has to go home.  He doesn't take "for better or for worse" lightly and that means more than he could know.  He doesn't treat me like a cancer patient, he treats me like his wife who has cancer.  There's a difference and he gets it.

Only one odd thing.... he doesn't want me driving to Dallas to my appointments by myself (even though I insist that I can), and yet the other day he took medication which knocked him out and I ended up driving the whole day anyway.  Only a man would understand that logic!  :-)

Hubby - I've said it before and I'll say it a hundred more times:  thank you from the bottom of my heart, the same heart that belongs to you.  I love you!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 179

Changing your profile picture on Facebook seems a little like fishing for compliments.  Especially if you're a cancer patient.  Cancer really does a number on your self-esteem.  I mean, let's face it - you either gain weight or lose weight (or both), you lose your hair, your eyebrows, your eyelashes, not to mention certain body parts.... you just LOOK sick.  Even when you're feeling good, you're not feeling good about yourself.
I bought a new wig this week.  Most of the time, especially around the house, I wear hats because they are comfy.  I'm so sick and tired of wearing something on my head.  I've even started going "topless" at home sometimes since I do have enough hair to (barely) cover my head.  But when I go to work or shopping or the dentist, I want to look like a normal person, and normal people have hair.  I have two other wigs - a curly one that looks pretty much exactly like my "old" hair, and a shorter, straighter one.  This new one is... well.... put it this way, K's BFF, who has the biggest hair of any 7 year old on the planet, told me "Hey, you look like me!"   Ha!  The new 'do is big with bouncy curls and blonde highlights.  If I can figure out how to keep the longish bangs out of my face, I think I'll really like it.  It looks and feels so much healthier than my other two.  I've learned that wigs don't handle wear and tear for very long.  Washing, wearing, styling, spraying, etc.... all take their toll.  It's nice to have one that feels silky and new.

Anyway, back to the original subject..... I changed my Facebook profile pic to the new hairdo.  Immediately my friends started posting things like "Pretty lady" and "Beautiful".  Now I'm not saying that's why I posted it (because what else would a profile picture be than a picture of yourself???), but it's good to know I can still look nice.  So to all of my Facebook peeps - thanks for boosting my self-confidence, even if it is because of fake hair.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 178

I'm not sure if I've specifically mentioned much about the breast reconstruction process (or if you even want to know), but right now I have what they call tissue expanders. They put these in during my surgery and then slowly fill them a little at a time to stretch the skin to the desired size. Eventually (in my case, 6 months after I finish radiation) they do an "exchange" either for permanent implants or a surgery using your own tissue (what my plastic surgeon prefers).

Anyway, y
esterday I had an appointment with my plastic surgeon for a "fill" which brought me up to just above half of what my expanders will hold.  I'm feeling a little bit like Pamela Anderson now.  Ha! Not necessarily size-wise, but the expanders are just so WEIRD. Like a coconut bra or having two turtle shells.  Something like this:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 177

Random musings for Friday:

  • Yesterday marked 11 weeks since my last chemo,  In some ways it feels like I'm still going through all of that.... the fatigue and the not sleeping and the appetite/taste issues (although I'm not having to take quite so many pills every day now, thank you God).... and yet in other ways it seems like forever and a day ago since I sat in that infusion chair at my cancer center holding my "This is my LAST chemo" sign.
  • Today is 7 weeks since surgery.  I'm doing good but not as "recovered" as I thought I would be at this point.  I guess that's normal - you don't have body parts removed without having some issues, right?  Thankfully I have very little pain and my range of motion is getting better every day.  Adjusting to a body that's not like the one I've had for forty years takes some getting used to, though.  And I don't know when I will ever NOT be tired.
  • I held a 7 month old baby the other day and he has more hair than I do!  Mine is growing, though.  I am constantly rubbing my head, partially because it itches from wearing wigs and hats but mostly because I like the feel of having hair!!!
  • My daughter has come home from school two days in a row complaining of a sore throat.
    My son threw up in the bathtub last night.  Don't they know I don't need any germs in this house?!
  • I'm sad that the Olympics are almost over.  I haven't been able to watch as much as I wanted to, or as much as I have in the past, but I really, really love the Olympic Games.  I also think it's strange (someone pointed this out on the radio) that the next summer Olympics will be held in Rio.  Rio is in South America.... where summer for us is winter for them.  Ha!
  • Some hot flash trivia:  Hot flashes never come at convenient times.  Why don't they happen when I'm cold?  Exercising initiates a string of hot flashes.  My body temperature does not increase during a hot flash (I checked), even though it feels like the top of my head is going to burn off.
  • I was lucky and didn't have any issues with my fingernails or toenails during chemo.  All these weeks past chemo, though, my nails look worse than they did during treatment.  What's up with that?
  • Is it sad that I'm happy to not have something to do on a Friday night?
  • Breast reconstruction is a strange, strange process.  Just saying....
  • It's that time of year to start complaining.... about the *!%*?#* wind.  I really hate that the nicer weather in Texas means more windy days.  And by windy, I mean WINDY.  Ugh.
  • Next week we have to drive all the way to Dallas for one appointment that will probably take 15 minutes - tops.  I told Hubby we're going to have to find something else to do there to make the trip worthwhile!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 176

H A R L E M   G L O B E T R O T T E R S !!!

Last night my family did a very fun, very un-cancer-like thing.  J's friend scored VIP tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters show.  Well, technically his mom did, but whatever.  They had four tickets including a meet & greet with one of the players and invited us along.

Here are the kiddos getting some pre-game grub. 

Meet & Greet and getting their loot (including autographed shirts and basketballs):

Waiting on the players' bench:

We didn't have the primo seats like the boys:

Didn't want K to feel left out so I bought tickets for her and Hubby (and apparently she needed a basketball too):

Hanging with the team:

And last but not least, my favorite part.... dancing YMCA-style:

I'm not a huge basketball fan, or really a basketball fan at all, and had never seen the Globetrotters, but even I'll admit it was a super fun evening.  Huge thanks to K and T for inviting us.  A great time was had by all!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 175

  • For my mom and all of the folks "back home" who have 25" of snow on the ground in upstate NY and it's coming down like crazy again today
  • For my daughter who told me, "When we go to New York this year I want to go to the beach again instead of New York City"
  • For my BFF who would live with her toes in the water if she could (and I'd be right there with her, although I'm pretty sure our cancer-kicking asses would be in beach chair instead!)
  • For me & Hubby... because..... well, I think we deserve a seat on a beach with a strawberry daquiri in our hands

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 174

My little girl's world expanded over the weekend.  She went with her BFF (and BFF's mom & nana) two nights in a row to play bingo - for real.  She loved it!  Obviously she inherited my and Hubby's fondness for gambling.  ha ha

Sunday night, while she was at bingo, this was our text conversation:

Cute, huh?  But I want to know when my daughter started talking like a teenager!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 173

We don't have the cold weather anymore (80 degrees yesterday, thank you very much), but you want to talk hot flashes?  I started that new hormone therapy (Tamoxifen) last week and I swear sometimes I have ten hot flashes in an hour.  Hubby's going to have to learn to duck when he see my hat flying across the room.

Happy President's Day!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 172

I feel like every conversation I have with Hubby lately is similar to this.  We're both so busy with work, softball, kids, softball, cancer, (did I mention softball?)... that neither one of us knows whether we're coming or going lately.  He's always been pretty forgetful (sorry Hubs, but it's true), but I'm OCD and usually right on top of things, but cancer and chemo brain really did a number on my abilities to multi-task and stay organized.  I'm working on it, but if you asked me to do something last week and I still haven't done it, you might want to ask me again.  Or better yet, put it in writing.  Ha!  

Kicking cancer's ass - day 171

I realized this morning that I didn't write a blog post yesterday.  I was a little busy.  If you have kids and they play or did play recreational sports, take a minute to thank the people in charge.  Hubby and I are on the board and one of my best friends is the president of K's softball league, and OH MY GOD you wouldn't believe the amount of work that's involved behind the scenes.  

Most people just sign their child up, pay the fee and then show up when and where they are told to.  I am up to my ears in registration forms, entering information in the computer, trying to keep the web site and Facebook up to date, Hubby is overseeing finding coaches for all of the teams we'll have which has been a ton of work, and Madam President has had her phone practically explode from all of the texts, calls and emails about this stuff.  She's been meeting people all over town to take registrations, dealing with the city since our league uses a city park, handling the money, etc.  We've had six registration sessions (one of which was in a building with no heat and it was 20 degrees outside - that was fun) and two player preview (tryout) days over the last few weeks which have taken up hours of our time.  I'm not trying to toot my own horn because I've done way less work with all of this than Hubby and my friend K have, but the three of us have been bombarded with softball league business.  We're so appreciative when someone else steps up to help organize, collect forms, seek out sponsors... whatever.

On top of all of the league business, we have our own team of girls we're in charge of.  Even though spring is still a ways off, the Lady Diamonds will start practicing this week.  My friend K is the head coach, Hubby is her assistant and I'm the team mom/dugout coach.  Needless to say, this has all been extremely time-consuming.  

Move over cancer - it's (almost) softball season!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 170

Today is Valentine's Day.... the day to celebrate that special someone.  I definitely have a special someone and I'm so incredibly grateful.  Hubby has been the best support system a girl could ask for.  He cares for me, he takes care of me, he works hard to provide for our family and he makes me feel special every day. 

Happy Valentine's Day Hubby.  You're the best and I wouldn't want to be anywhere but by your side on this crazy journey we call life.  I love you!

And for the rest of my peeps:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 169

Any woman who is a mother (or a cat owner) knows that your time is never your own.  Once you have these little people (or creatures) in your house, you rarely get to shower without interruption.  Going to the bathroom alone is a thing of the past.  Telephone conversations are multitasking at its best, because face it, kids will crawl out of the woodwork needing things the minute you're on the phone.

It's the same thing with television.  I very rarely have control of the remote control in this house.  Hubby has a gazillion "who done it" shows on our DVR and an addiction to reality shows like Gold Rush, Swamp People and Impractical Jokers.  The kids are usually watching one mindless, stupid cartoon or another.  There are three things I insist on watching:  Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and the Olympics.

Hubby and I had to go to Dallas & back for my two appointments today.  I am stiff from riding in the car for six hours and sore from an hour of lymphatic massage with my occupational therapist.  All I wanted to do was get my comfies on, sit on the couch and watch the Olympics.   The entire time, K is chattering and complaining while doing her homework, and then J sits next to me on the couch commentating, asking questions, wanting me to look something up on the computer....etc.  I am the least tv-addicted person in this house and I can't even get through ONE SHOW!

The next time my children are engrossed in Minecraft I've decided I'm going to sit right next to them and point things out, make suggestions, ask questions and overall be a huge distraction.  I know Mom is low on the totem pole with most things, but come on, fair is fair!!

Now shhhh.... the Olympics are on!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 168

This explains it all today.  
Two nights in a row of not falling asleep before 2am, a long day of running errands today, and another busy day tomorrow with two appointments in Dallas.  
Luckily most of the day only involves sitting in the car because I'm exhausted!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 167

Yesterday I added a new drug to my "kick cancer's ass arsenal".  Tamoxifen is a hormonal therapy used to treat patients with estrogen-receptor positive cancer cells.  Basically that means if you have cancer and estrogen feeds that cancer, it's recommended that you take Tamoxifen (or another similar medicine if you are post-menopausal) to block the estrogen.  If you starve cancer of its food source, it can't grow.

According to www.breastcancer.org, Tamoxifen can:
  • reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back by 40% to 50% in postmenopausal women and by 30% to 50% in premenopausal women
  • slow or stop the growth or advanced (metastatic) hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women
  • lower breast cancer risk in women who have a higher-than-average risk of disease but have not been diagnosed
  • help stop bone loss after menopause
  • lower cholesterol levels
That all sounds great, right?
On the flip side:

Tamoxifen's selective estrogen activation effects can cause some serious side effects, including blood clots, stroke, and endometrial cancer. The most common side effects of Tamoxifen are increased bone pain, hot flashes, nausea, fatigue, mood swings, depression, headache, hair thinning, constipation, dry skin, and loss of libido.
Getting rid of cancer means you're healthy.  So why is it that so many of the treatments used to achieve that make you feel so unhealthy?!?!??!  I know not everyone gets every side effect, and I recently read that women who experience night sweats and hot flashes while on hormonal therapy have a lower recurrence rate.  So if I'm sticking my head in the freezer or throwing my hat across the room more often now, I can be thankful that it might mean the Tamoxifen is doing it's job very well and keeping cancer away.  Amen to that!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 166

I could have done an Insomniac Blogging post last night (you know what I'm talking about if you follow my friend A's Three Little Cowboys blog).  I went to bed around 10:45pm....got up at 11:45pm....messed around on the computer for a couple of hours.  By the time the clock started closing in on 2am I knew I needed to get some sleep.  Monday morning was looming, so I made myself go back to bed even though I was still wide awake.  Hubby caught me playing Words with Friends on my phone in the dark in the wee hours.  Finally I decided I would try again, and I guess I fell asleep.  I was not a fan of my alarm at 6:20am.

I wish I could blame my not sleeping on something like this:

That kind of insomnia I don't mind.  It's not unusual for me to stay up until the wee hours reading a book that I just can't put down.  Well, it wasn't unusual.  Thanks to cancer fatigue and chemo brain, my reading time has been seriously diminished.  I can't remember the last time I stayed up really late because I was lost in a book.  

We just received notice that schools are delayed two hours tomorrow due to ice.  Thank heavens.  At least if I can't sleep tonight I won't be facing that God-awful early alarm!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 165

Having cancer takes up so much time.... making appointments, going to appointments, going through paperwork thanks to those appointments... it's endless.  You wouldn't believe how much time I spend online researching treatments and medication, keeping track of everything in my computer and phone because I can't remember anything, connecting with my online friends I've met because of breast cancer...the list goes on and on.  (Well, you probably would believe it since I put it all in my blog!) Because of that I love when I get to spend time doing un-cancer-like things.

This morning we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast with J's friend T's family:

After that we picked up two more friends and went to see the LEGO Movie (which was nerdy but pretty funny).

Hubby threatened to "shush" us, because face it, my friend K and I like to talk (3 hour lunches anyone?).

After that we ended up bringing all five kids back to our house for the afternoon.

Now I'm settled in on the couch to write my blog, Hubby is watching a guy movie (upping his testosterone level after sitting through the kids movie) and all of the young people are keeping themselves busy.  The guys are immersed in Minecraft world and the girls are getting themselves a snack.

Happy weekend!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 164

Want to know one thing that I really don't appreciate about what cancer does to you (besides the obvious, of course)?  It makes you a hypochondriac.  I'm not even sure that's entirely the right word.  According to my trusty friend Wikipedia:

 Hypochondria refers to excessive preoccupancy or worry about having a serious illness. This debilitating condition is the result of an inaccurate perception of the body’s condition despite the absence of an actual medical condition.

I wouldn't necessarily say that definition applies to me.  First of all, even though I blog about it Every.Single.Day. I wouldn't say I'm "preoccupied" with my serious illness.  Considering I did actually have cancer in my body, I wouldn't say there was an absence of a medical condition.  And I think I'm incredibly aware of my body's condition after everything I've been through, so no "inaccurate perception" here.  However, going back to Wikipedia:

Hypochondriacs become unduly alarmed about any physical symptoms they detect, no matter how minor the symptom may be, and are convinced that they have or are about to be diagnosed with a serious illness.

I can relate to this.  After a cancer diagnosis, it's hard not to think anything that goes wrong or feels "off" has something to do with cancer.  For the last couple of weeks I've had pain in my elbows.  I've never had pain in my elbows in my life.  Thanks to my incessant research, I know that one of the more common places for breast cancer to metastasize is bone.  Therefore I do not like feeling pain or anything unusual in a joint or bone.  My left eye waters constantly.  The eye doctor told me it was allergies.  In just one eye?  Knowing that there was cancer in the lymph nodes on my left side, my mind goes crazy thinking maybe there's something messed up in the tear ducts on that side as well.  The likelihood that my watery eye has anything to do with cancer is probably nil, but tell my mind that.  Speaking of minds....another common place for breast cancer to sneak away to is the brain.  I get a lot of headaches, some of them really bad.  You get the idea.

Given that I am BRCA 2+ which means my risk of not only breast cancer but also others like ovarian, pancreas and skin cancer is increased, I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to find the balance between being vigilant and venturing into hypochondria.  If anyone who has had cancer figures out how to do this, please let me in on the secret!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 163

They're here!  They're here!!

I confess to being a huge Olympics junkie.  The only other person I know who gets this excited about the Olympics is my mother.  I guess my apple didn't fall very far from her tree.  I wish we could be together to settle in on the couch with a cup of tea and watch them together.  My children don't care about the Olympics and Hubby runs the other way, so I'm left alone to cheer on our country's athletes.

I know there's all sorts of controversy and negativity this year (when isn't there), but to me, the Olympic Games represent the entire world coming together in the spirit of sportsmanship.  I love everything about the winter Olympics.  The scenery is often breathtaking, I love most of the sports in these games and the human interest stories are (for the most part) so interesting.  

(Although right now I'm waiting for the Opening Ceremonies to start and I'm not quite sure what Maria Sharapova being from Sochi has to do with anything!  Last I heard, tennis was not a winter sport.  Get on with it NBC!!!)

Go Team USA!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 162

I don't have a tiara, but I have plenty of love, and also plenty of cookies (thank you evil Girl Scout cookie mom-friend!).  Chemo took my hair, ruined my taste for Diet Coke and even water, and killed my cancer - why couldn't it have gotten rid of my sweet tooth as well?  I have a dentist appointment in a couple of weeks and I'm dreading it.  I don't have good teeth anyway, and switching back to drinking regular soda and grape Kool Aid, as well as maintaining my love for all things chocolate has probably made my teeth even more of a disaster.  See?  Cancer is the gift that keeps on giving.

On a side note, Hubby and I had an interesting trip to Dallas today.  I had an appointment with Dr. T and a consultation with an occupational therapist specializing in lymphedema.  The appointments went fine, but getting there was the adventure.  We woke up to snow.  Real cover-the-ground-and-stick-to-the-roads kind of snow.  Luckily the interstate was mostly clear until we got to Dallas, but the roads there (and the drivers!) were horrible.  It took us over four and a half hours to make the three hour drive from here.  Good thing we like each other's company!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 161

The good news?

Our area is expecting 1-2" of snow tonight.  This makes me happy because I love snow and it makes my kids happy because we rarely get enough precipitation here to qualify as snow.

The bad news?

We found out today that we are heading back to Dallas for an appointment with Dr T (my plastic surgeon) tomorrow.  That's not the bad news - I'm glad he wants to see me two weeks earlier than expected because the sooner he does his thing, the sooner I can get on with radiation.  However, heading out at 6:30am to drive three hours in the snow is not what my Thursday plan was.

C'est la vie!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 160

Today, February 4, 2014, is World Cancer Day.  It is a day to give your support to those affected by cancer (not only the patients, but their caregivers, because they truly give SO MUCH).  It is a day to raise awareness of not only what cancer is, but who it affects, and how it affects them.  It is also a day to celebrate survivors - those who have won and those who are still fighting, and to mourn those who we've lost.

*Both of my grandmothers died from the same cancer I have.
*A friend's little girl overcame a rare cancer diagnosis at 3 months old.  She's now 9 years old and thriving.
*Another friend's son (same age as my J) beat thyroid cancer.
*My BFF's mom is a breast cancer survivor.
*Hubby's mom beat breast cancer 14 years ago, only to succumb to bone cancer three years ago.
*My sister-in-law is a breast cancer survivor.
*My BFF had cervical cancer and is a breast cancer survivor.
*My friend's husband is a colon cancer survivor
*That same friend's young grandson is fighting cancer.
*My sweet friend A has fought ovarian cancer for seven years and now has a hospice nurse.
*A friend's daughter (same age as K) is undergoing cancer treatments now.

I am a breast cancer survivor.

I don't ever want to be that person - the one always on her soapbox about her "cause".  Yes, I have cancer, it has changed me and it will affect me for the rest of my life.  Knowledge is power, and I have done my research on the type of cancer I have as well as the treatments I've been given.  I am more than happy to share what I've learned if it will help someone else, because you can't possibly understand what kind of deep, dark hole a cancer diagnosis throws you into unless you've been there.  I've been helped so much by other survivors who have paid it forward and shared their experiences.  I'm glad that the world, the WORLD, is joining together today to acknowledge that something needs to be done about this monstrous disease besides pretty pink or purple ribbons and 5K runs.

I refuse to allow cancer to rule my life.  I may have to wait a while before my hair grows back or I can swing a golf club again, but I'm still me.  I'm still the girl who calls herself a girl even though she's over the 40 hill.  I still love to read and listen to my music loud in the car and blow kisses to my girl when she walks into school.  I still tease my hubby about being grumpy and yell at the cat for her constant meowing and look forward to the Olympics like a kid at Christmas.  I'm a New Yorker at  heart, a Texan by choice and a beach bum in my dreams.  Despite the pills, the appointments, the tests, the bills, the pain and the fatigue, I'm taking each day as it comes and not letting cancer win.  Yes, I'm a survivor.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 159

I love birthday celebrations that go on and on (and on)!  
These came for me today:

So bright and lively and pretty - birthday flowers from my big brother.  

Today was chilly and damp and foggy, so this lovely bouquet was a nice pick-me-up on a gloomy day.  I know I keep bragging about all of the gifts I've received, but what can I say?  I'm spoiled.  (And my friends and family rock when it comes to gift-giving!)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 158

This Willow Tree angel of courage is a gift from my wonderful friend S.  I'm touched and honored that my family & friends think of me as an inspiration.  Thanks to them I am able to tackle each day head on. What choice do I have?  Curl up in a ball and say "I don't want to do this anymore?"  Even though I'm fighting cancer, life goes on and it can be so beautiful.  I've said it before - every day is a gift.

Even though sometimes I don't feel all that courageous, I can look at this triumphant little angel and smile.  She's saying:

"I am strong.  I won't give up.  I will win!"

 If cancer patients had mascots, she would be mine.  

Today is my birthday.  I plan to celebrate this day and many more birthdays after it, so take that, cancer!  I would totally be standing in this angel's pose if I was recovered enough from surgery that I could actually lift my arms like that.  Ha!  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 157

Today is February 1st.  Six months since d-day.

What a way to spend half a year.  Since August I've been poked and prodded and x-rayed and photographed and examined more times than I can count.  I've had blood tests, mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies, CT scans, bone scans, PET scans, MRIs, chemotherapy and surgery.  Since I'm still looking at radiation, preventative gynecological surgery and reconstruction surgeries later this year, it looks like I won't be jumping off this cancer treatment hamster wheel anytime soon.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes it can seem endless.... the tests, the doctors, the procedures, the pills (Oh my GOD the pills!).... if I didn't have my trusty red binder and my phone calendar, there is no way I'd be able to keep track of everything.  As sad and painful and exhausting as this road is to travel, I am thankful for so many things.  I am so thankful for each of my doctors and their nurses for their part in my care.  I have put my faith in them and my life in their hands.  I am so thankful for modern technology - the machines and computers and medicines, all of which are helping my oncologists and surgeons give me the best care possible.  I am so thankful for health insurance.  Cancer treatment is more expensive than you can even imagine (remember the $10,000 injections during chemo??), and what we have to pay is just a drop in that bucket thanks to our insurance.  I am so thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life who are supporting and encouraging me in ways big and small.

Most of all, I am so thankful for me.  I am thankful that I am young and that I was healthy when I began the fight against this monster.  I am thankful that I am stronger than I ever expected - who knew I could kick ass like this???
I am thankful that God has me in his hands.  My heart is full of hope and faith.  

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11