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, June 30, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 306

I learned one thing today.  Packing for a plane trip is a lot harder than packing for a road trip!!
(Especially when you have to pay for every suitcase!)

The last few years I have driven from Texas to New York in the summer with J & K.  It's a long, long, long trip (1800+ miles) but I love to drive and my kids are great travelers.  It's nice to be able to travel when we want, take as long as we want and bring as much as we want (or at least as much as will fit in my car!).  Driving across the country is really a fun experience, and even Hubby, who admittedly hates to travel, enjoyed it when he went with us a couple of years ago.

After the year I've had, I wasn't even sure the trip was going to happen.  Considering how worn down I am from treatment and surgery, Hubby was very reluctant.  Me driving was out of the question.  No matter how much I want to, there's no way I could handle three straight 10 hour days of driving by myself.  We compromised... he said we could go if we fly, not drive.  I don't mind flying at all....but it just severely limits us on when we can go, what we can bring and leaves me without a car while I'm there.  Between the kids' summer camps and my doctor appointments, we will be there for two weeks this year instead of three, but I'm happy to be going "home" at all.  We love being back in Saugerties for July 4th and being able to spend time with my mom and dad.

The one downside to going is that Hubby doesn't go with us.  He won't fly, and even if he would, he can't be away from work for too long.  Plus he will have a birthday while we are gone.  We had a little pre-birthday celebration tonight...we went out to eat at one of his favorites, then came home and he opened cards & gifts from me and the kids.  We also had the birthday cake I made earlier today.  It doesn't exactly make up for us not being here on his special day, but I did what I could.  

Since d-day, Hubby and I have only spent two nights apart.  Now we're about to spend two weeks apart.  I kind of know how Linus would feel if he didn't have his blanket.  Hubby is my rock, my support, my sounding board, my love...I'm going to miss him.  A lot.  

Kicking cancer's ass - day 305

I hate complaining. What does it accomplish? Nothing, except make me sound like a whiner. And I don't want to be a whiner.  But sometimes you just have to.  My latest complaint? Restless legs.

Ok, so that's nothing new. If you've been reading my blog for a while then you know I've suffered from restless legs syndrome for years. What gets me now is that the medicine I take to block estrogen and hopefully prevent any more cancer growth has made my restless legs a hundred times worse. I have it every single night.  And sometimes even during the day. The other night I rode eight miles on my exercise bike, but still as soon as I sat down on the couch, the RLS kicked in. It is the most annoying, uncomfortable, frustrating feeling to have to move your legs every few seconds. Or to have to get up and walk around when you're so exhausted all you want to do is sleep.

In the grand scheme of things, for a cancer survivor, dealing with jumpy legs seems like a relatively minor thing. But it sure is getting old day after day, night after night.  I can't rest in the evenings because I can't sit still and I can't sleep at night. The medicine I have for it doesn't work anymore.
I guess the silver lining is that I'm getting a lot more exercise lately!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 304

This is me with my friend G.  She is a fellow breast cancer survivor and started chemo around the same time I did.  She is part of my September chemo group that I post with on Facebook.

It was so nice to meet her in person and "talk shop" with someone who really gets it.  Almost everything she or I said, the other could relate to, whether we were talking about our hair (or lack of) or fear of recurrence or relationships with our husbands and friends.  

Our group is planning a little "reunion" in Las Vegas in the fall and I can't wait to meet more of my friends!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 303

It's been a rough year.  I'll be the first to admit that.  Every day since last July has been a struggle, and some days I've struggled harder than others.  I have a lot of good days.  Most of the time I'm at least ok.  Some days I haven't been ok at all.  One of my friends posted a blog article online that really hit home.    

Reflection Confessions: Dealing With the Physical Aftermath
of Breast Cancer Treatment

I could have written these words that Betsy Hnath wrote almost word for word.  Cancer is not pretty.  Being a cancer patient is not pretty.  Like Betsy, I wonder if I'll ever look at myself and accept what I see instead of seeing all I have lost.  

Like Betsy's husband said, it's a marathon, not a sprint.  That's partly why I decided to write this blog every single day.  Because some days are better, and some are worse.  Some days I am happy and some days I'm sad.  One thing is the same every day, though:  I am thankful for today.  I'm thankful to be alive.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 302

Someone posted this on Facebook and I just had to share.  Since chemo threw me into menopause (or at least "chemopause"), I can totally relate.  
Well, except for maybe the psycho part.  I'm not psycho, am I????

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 301

Someone asked me yesterday what my "next step" is.  I am happy to say that my immediate plan is to enjoy my summer!!  The kids have been having a lot of fun with friends, swimming, going places, and we are leaving on Tuesday for two weeks in New York.  It won't quite be the same as our last few trips "home".  We are flying instead of driving, so no beach trip, and our luggage capacity will be way less.  That means no softball equipment or golf clubs (although I got the ok from my plastic surgeon, I haven't played golf since my surgery).  Since I am still trying to recover the energy I lost through chemo, surgery and radiation, our big outings like New York City and Six Flags will probably be put on hold until next year.  We will still find fun things to do, though, and enjoy spending time with my family and friends.  I am going to see my lymphedema specialist again tomorrow, and then I have NO appointments until the end of July.

After that things will pick up again, though.  I'll have a routine check-up with my oncologist up first when we get back from our trip.  My next surgery (hysterectomy) is scheduled for August 14th and I'll need to see the doctor and have pre-op testing at the hospital the week before.  I have a three month post-radiation appointment with Dr. Au sometime in August.  I am supposed to see my surgical oncologist in September or October.  My reconstruction surgery is scheduled for the first week of November.  Sometime between now and then I will have to have a CT scan so my plastic surgeon can "map out" my blood vessels and such for the reconstruction.

So that's my next five months in a nutshell.  Add in school, fall ball for softball and 7th grade football....yikes.  No rest for the weary, that's for sure!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 300

When I read this, I can almost hear Rocky saying the words.  
He's like my own personal motivational speaker in my head.

I got hit hard, but I'm still moving forward.  
Day 300 and counting!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 299

The list of medical expenses for a chemo patient is never-ending.  Last night I ordered a compression sleeve (also known as lymphedema sleeve).  Since I had so many lymph nodes removed during surgery, I am at risk of developing lymphedema, which is basically lymph fluid trapped where it shouldn't be, which causes swelling.  Really anyone with any surgery to a lymph area is at risk, but considering I had more than twenty lymph nodes removed, I need to be careful.

Some of the ladies in my chemo group and surgery group have mentioned having (or needing to get) sleeves, but none of my doctors have said anything about it.  I know one of the "risky" things, though, is flying.  Since I am scheduled to fly to New York next week, I asked my lymphedema specialist about it.  She said she definitely recommends me wearing one for travel, even though I don't show any signs of lymphedema.

I went to the local medical supply store and they showed me several different kinds, starting with the generic beige:

or one that looks like a tattoo:
or even ones that sparkle:

In the end, I went with one that is pretty but understated (in my opinion):

I'm supposed to go back to the medical supply store today to have them fit me for a sleeve and order one if they don't have it in stock.  However, their prices were way higher than what I found online, so I had Hubby measure my arm and ended up ordering one from a web site specializing in lymphedema items.  It is supposed to ship today, so hopefully I'll have it before we leave next Tuesday.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 298

Yesterday I received an envelope in the mail from the local hospital.  Since all of my "hospital" procedures have been done in Dallas, I had no clue what it could be.  The opening sentence said:

Our records indicate that based on the ultrasound-guided biopsy you had on 7/30/13, it is time to schedule your annual mammogram.

Wonder what they would do if I showed up for that mammogram?  Ha.  Try squishing these in that machine!

What can I do except laugh?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 297

I've said it before, but breastcancer.org has been a life saver for me.  Not only is there a ton of information on there, information that my doctors haven't always felt the need to mention, but through the discussion boards there I have met some amazing women who are fighting this same fight.  If you think you can't form real attachments with people you've never "met", check these out:


These strong, beautiful cancer warriors went through surgery the same time I did.  Last night was Relay for Life for my one friend (top pic), and today was a Making Strides BC walk for another friend (bottom pic).  As you can see in both photos, they proudly sported the names of our friends in the January surgery group on their shirts.  

Talk about a sisterhood united.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 296

I love my daughter.

Tonight we had a mommy/daughter shopping date.  I needed something to wear to a wedding, so K tagged along and tried on dresses with me.  And when I say she tried on dresses, I mean she tried on my dresses.  Silly girl.  She was dancing through the store having a blast picking out cute things for me to try on (and she has pretty good taste - aside from her obsession with leopard-print clothing!).

Shopping and trying on anything isn't much fun when you're a post-chemo, post-surgery, post-radiation cancer survivor.  I have ten extra pounds I'd love to be rid of, I have fake cleavage and super short hair.  I'm not sporting my usual sun-kissed look because radiation patients have to avoid the sun like the plague.  My port sticks out by my collarbone, so I had to nix several dresses that I really liked because of the neckline.  I don't look like the me I want to look like.

Nothing looks "good" on me.

But you know what?  Seeing my daughter trying on my ladies dresses and having her there to zip the zipper I couldn't reach and tell me how pretty I looked and hearing her belt out Katy Perry's "Roar" from the next stall in the fitting room.....somehow something I wasn't looking forward to ended up being a whole lot of fun.  Because my little girl is fun.

As I'm writing this post, K is Skyping with her daddy.  She's in her bedroom and he's in the living room.  I just heard her tell him, "I have a green tongue Daddy.  Want to see it?" 

This beautiful, quirky, sweet girl makes my heart happy.
(And I bought not one but TWO dresses - and she picked out both!)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 295

Today J and I went on a little road trip.  K had softball camp this morning and spent the afternoon with friends while her brother and I drove to Fort Worth for physical therapy.  Yes, I drove two hours (each way) for a one hour physical therapy appointment.  When you have a serious medical condition and you live in a town where people recommend seeking treatment elsewhere for serious medical conditions, you can bet I'll be going elsewhere!!

My range of motion still isn't where it is supposed to be thanks to my surgery and now radiation which has tightened things up even more.  Enter Beth to the rescue.   She is a lymphadema specialist that my breast surgeon referred me to.  I had seen Beth, also an occupational therapist, several times before radiation but she didn't want to mess with my skin during treatment.  Now that I'm healed on the outside from rads, we'd like to try to heal the inside a little more.

So while Hubby was at work, K was doing this:

And while I was driving, my "company" was doing this:

So far our summer has been made up of a whole lot of "busy" and not a lot of "vacation"!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 294

Life is so amazing, in all its wonderful, terrible glory.

This weekend we have been invited to Hubby's best friend's son's wedding.  This beautiful, sweet young couple is embarking on life's journey together and they've picked June 21st as the day to commemorate that.  At the exact same time as the wedding Saturday, there will be a funeral for the mother of another of Hubby's friends.  She passed away this week from cancer.  Both families are close to Hubby's heart, so our prayers go up for both of them - for the joyous occasion of young loves starting a life together and for the sorrow of a family saying goodbye to their mother and grandmother.

I haven't spoken to my friend A in weeks.  Her family has asked people not to call, and I know A is spending the precious time she has left with her boys.  I have been sending texts and messages, though, just to let her know she's never far from my thoughts.  Yesterday she responded back, and I immediately pounced, intent on "hearing" her voice, if only through a Facebook message.  Her family represents another "circle of life".  My sweet, loving, faithful, graceful, funny, clever, witty, thoughtful, amazing friend is dying.  She admits it, and from talking with her, she has made peace with it.  Two days ago, A's little sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  God is taking away one angel while at the same time giving the family another.

My heart hurts for Hubby's friend's family.  I know what we went through a few years ago when we lost my mother-in-law to cancer.  It was beyond sad.  Saying goodbye is never easy, and when sickness takes someone away, it hurts.  When sickness takes someone way too soon, a young mother like A with children who still need a mommy, it is devastating.

Life is life.  I know that.  But sometimes it's so unfair.
After all I have been though, I consciously choose to celebrate the good, because those precious moments can be stolen away by a scare, a worry, a tragedy...in an instant.

Celebrate life, my friends.  It's so worth living, even when it's painful to do so.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 292

This was yesterday:

This was today:

Notice what's missing?  (Besides his sister & dad!)  His glasses!!!  J got contacts today.  He's so excited.  He has been asking for weeks and we finally made an appointment after he came home from camp with a screw missing on his glasses.  He had a bit of a rough time at first getting them in, but once he got the first one in he did fine.  He's been wearing them all day and looks around like he is seeing a whole new world.

We'll see what happens when he goes to take them out tonight!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 291

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.

 — Rev. Theodore Hesburgh

Today is Father's Day...the day we honor the men who love us, care for us, support us, teach us, and provide for us.  While I have a wonderful father whom I love very much and honor for doing all of those things, today I want to write about my husband, the father of my two beautiful children.

I scoured the internet trying to find inspirational quotes or Bible verses pertaining to fatherhood.  I didn't really know what I was looking for, but when I stumbled across the quote above, I knew what I needed to dedicate today's post to.  

There are a lot of ways to be a good father.  In my opinion, one of the most important ways is for a man to be a good example for his children - in all things.  His work ethic, his faith, how he treats others, his priorities, saying what you mean and meaning what you say.... all of those things show children what it takes to be a man of integrity.  And all of those things demonstrate why my Hubby is a wonderful father.

What transforms a wonderful father into an amazing one is how that man treats the mother of his children.  My husband respects women, he puts me first and he stands beside me, no matter what.  If nothing else, this past year has shown me that.  Taking the worse in "for better or worse" and the sickness in "in sickness and in health" seriously and giving me 110% of his devotion and support shows my kids how a husband loves his wife.  And a husband loving his wife in positive, encouraging ways gives my kids an example of how to be when they find their true love.

This photo is the wallpaper on my phone's home screen.  My whole world, right there in a group hug.  
I love this man to the moon and back.  He's my best friend, a strong, caring husband and a loving father.  We are blessed beyond measure.

Happy Father's Day, Hubby. 
Thank you for all that you do for me, for us.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 290

Thursday was a long day of waiting, doctors appointments, more waiting and more doctors appointments.

First we saw Dr T, my plastic surgeon.  He seemed pleasantly surprised when he examined me.  Even though my skin is almost all healed, he wants to wait five or six months after radiation before doing reconstruction surgery.  I'm fine with that because I really don't want to be laid up for weeks during summer vacation and the type of surgery I'm having will require wearing compression garments afterward - who wants to wear those in the Texas summer heat?  I have a tentative date of November 5th (tentative only if I have to change it for some reason).

Next we saw Dr K, my gynecological oncologist.  Since I am BRCA+ (the gene mutation associated with breast cancer), I am at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.  Removing my ovaries is a given.  The medication I am taking to suppress estrogen can cause uterine problems, so Dr K says let's just take it all out.  I'm fine with that, too.  If I don't have female parts then I can't cancer in my female parts, right?  We don't have a date yet, but hopefully that surgery will be scheduled the second week of August.  Even though it will be laparascopic surgery, Dr K wants me to stay in the hospital a couple of days because of us having to drive several hours home.

Our last appointment was with Dr L, my surgical oncologist.  I was supposed to see her in April for a three-month follow-up after my January surgery, but I was in the middle of radiation.  So this appointment was a five months post-op.  She was really surprised with how great I looked, too. (I keep telling people my skin tolerated radiation very well but nobody believes me until they see me!)  She wants me to see my lymphedema specialist for some more physical therapy, and then I'll need to go back to Dr L a couple of weeks before my reconstruction surgery.

The one thing none of my doctors have mentioned is a plan for follow-up scans.  Obviously my surgery eliminated the need for any future mammograms, but I'm not sure if I'll have any periodic tests such as a PET or CT scan.  In talking with my fellow breast cancer warriors, their doctors recommendations are all over the place.  Some won't do any scans unless you are having specific problems or symptoms.  Others will routinely test for signs of a problem.  I'm not sure where my doctors stand on that - something to remember to ask them next time.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 289

Let's talk insurance.  There has been a lot of controversy in this country the past couple of years regarding health insurance.  I admit that I didn't follow most of it because we are fortunate to have insurance through Hubby's job, and it's very good insurance.  Thankfully Obamacare isn't even a blip on our radar.  One of my friends does not have health insurance, and she has figured out that it will be cheaper (at least for now) to pay the penalty for not having insurance and pay privately for medical bills than it is to buy insurance through Obamacare.

In the fall when I was going through chemo I touched on how much some of my medical stuff costs.  If you'll remember, for the injection I received the day after each chemo, our insurance company was billed almost $10K.  For each shot.  That doesn't even include the chemo itself.  For each of my radiation treatments the cost ranged from just under a thousand dollars to almost $3500.  I had thirty-three treatments.  You do the math.  My surgery in January cost over $50K and that was just for the hospital portion.

I can't say I'm a fan of the Obamacare plan, but I do often think of my friend, and others, who do not have health insurance.  What if what happened to me happened to them?  There is no way they could ever pay for everything.  I feel for my fellow warriors who don't have good (or any) insurance coverage.  It's overwhelming.  We have really good coverage but still have had to pay thousands last year and this year to reach our maximum out of pocket.  I guess that's the one good thing about having major surgery the first week of the calendar year!  Everything (for me) since then has been covered 100%.  Since I'm still facing at least two more surgeries, I plan to fit them in this year while we are at our max.

For years Hubby and I have talked about getting life insurance.  He had a small policy but I didn't have any life insurance.  Want to know the irony?  We finally met with our insurance agent and bought a policy for me - the year before I was diagnosed with cancer.  While life insurance isn't something you want to focus on, it's one of those things (like writing a will...something else we took care of in the last few years) that adults, especially those with children, should really get done.  The genetic counselor said that a life insurance company can refuse you if you've had genetic testing done for cancer.  I have, and I tested positive.  So if we had waited even a few more months, I would most likely have been denied coverage.

God has His hand in everything.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 288

It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
–Abraham Lincoln

Today Hubby and I are heading to Dallas to see my doctors there.  I have three appointments, which are all follow-up visits since my surgery in January and the end of radiation last month.  We'll see Dr T (plastic surgeon), Dr K (gynecological oncologist who will probably put a kink in my summer by wanting to schedule a surgery) and Dr L (surgical oncologist).  I shouldn't have to have any tests today, just spend lots of time waiting around in those fashionable hospital gowns.  Lucky me.

I don't anticipate any bad news (after all, I'm kicking cancer's ass), but maybe they will discuss my future in terms of scans and preventative treatment.  As a little reward (or as my January surgery sisters say, a silver lining), after our last appointment Hubby and I will head north to the casino for some non-cancer grown-up time.  I'm a little more optimistic heading into this trip since I won a jackpot last time.  Keep the luck heading my way!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 287

As I was saying the other day...

Today is J's first full day back from camp.  K's BFF is busy with basketball camp.  And we had no plans!

Lord help me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 286

J comes home from camp this afternoon, and while I've missed him, I know our church youth leaders have been making sure he and the other junior high kids have an amazing experience.  They have a no cell phone policy at camp.  Last year they had a pay phone so J called me with a prepaid phone card, but I forgot to ask if they even had a pay phone this year (different camp).  I haven't heard his voice since he left on Friday.  
I am so thankful for modern technology.  The youth ministry has kept a daily blog from camp and posted pictures (none of J that I've seen...booo!) and they are even on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (the second two don't help me because I'm not on those).  They also have broadcast each evening's worship service live from camp online.  How cool is that?  So I haven't been able to see my son, but I have been able to see what he sees, and by sharing the worship service, I'm sharing a little bit of camp with him.

I can't wait to see what God has done in him over the last five days.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 285

I feel like we set a bad precedent last week.
So far our summer vacation has looked like this:

  • Monday - football camp for J in the morning, then his friend came home with us from football for the afternoon;  K's friend spent the afternoon with us and stayed overnight;  Relay for Life dinner party that evening.
  • Tuesday - football camp for J;  batting clinic for the girls;  out to lunch with all the kids;  both friends spent the afternoon with us;  K had a softball scrimmage that evening;  J's friend spent the night.
  • Wednesday - football camp for J;  out to lunch afterward, then his friend spent the afternoon with us again.
  • Thursday - work for me;  K had two friends over in the afternoon;  camp check-in for J at church at 4pm;  K spent the night at her BFF's house.
  • Friday - drop J off for church camp;  work for me;  K brought her BFF over in the afternoon;  Hubby and I had to work a softball tournament that evening;  K spent the night at the hotel with her friend who was moving.
  • Saturday - Hubby and I worked the softball tournament in the morning;  took K to see the movie Maleficent;  K spent the evening and slept overnight at her Peepaw's house while Hubby and I went back to work the tournament.
  • Sunday - K spent the day with her cousin at Peepaw's house;  Hubby and I had a kid-free brunch date and a quiet afternoon.
So tell me... what is the rest of the summer going to be like?!?!  I need a vacation just from the start of vacation!  If we ever have a day where we just sit home my kids won't have a clue what to do with themselves.   

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 284

Many of the women in my January "surgery sisters" group are getting ready to have (or have had) their final reconstruction surgery.  Some women choose to forego any reconstruction, and some, like me, are having to wait.  (My plastic surgeon wants to wait up to six months after the end of radiation before doing anything.) Whether you choose to have no recon, go with implants, or have surgery to use your own tissue to make breasts, there is no one right decision for everybody.  I saw this, though, and had to laugh.

Funny?  Yes.  And yet it kind of reminds me of the (insensitive, in my opinion) people who say that breast cancer patients "get a free boob job".
I was perfectly fine with my old ones, thank you!  
(Except for the whole cancer thing...)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 283

I am sad today.
It was the first time I've cried over something non-cancer related in a long, long time.

A very special military family moved away today.  I've only known them for a couple of years, but K and E have been softball teammates for several seasons and have become good, good friends.  E is funny, polite & super sweet and they always have a great time together.  They have had play dates and sleepovers, have spent many, many hours swimming together and love to play Minecraft (not while swimming....ha!!).  If I could hand-pick a friend for K I couldn't have found one nicer than E.  K has a lot of friends (and thank GOD her BFF's family isn't military!!!), but E will be missed.  A lot.

While I am sad for my little girl, I'm also sad for me.  E's mom K has become one of my best friends in the short time I've known her.  She is someone who changes your life simply by being in it.  She is one of the most giving people I've ever known - always willing to help out or pitch in, no matter what you need (and I've needed a lot this past year!).  She brought us meals, gave K rides and a place to go when I was down & out during chemo, she took over for me as dugout coach when I couldn't do it (and stuck around to help me now that I'm back) and she was a big part of my Relay for Life team.  She is fun, thoughtful and caring - beautiful inside and out.  She's not just my daughter's friend's mom, she is my friend and I hated to say goodbye to her this morning.  I hope she realizes how much her friendship has meant to me.
(I really wanted a picture of us, but we were both crying before we even said a word so I gave up on that idea real quick.)

I'm old enough to know that people will come and go in my life.  This wonderful family has left a lasting imprint on my heart and I'm blessed to have their friendship.  I know that there's no controlling who the military takes away, and it makes me glad that their family will be complete again once they are reunited with K's hubby in their new home.  It will be a grand adventure for them, but things won't be the same at all around here.  I'm thankful that modern technology will allow us to keep in touch, but Facebook and Skype just can't compete with living five minutes away.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 282

Today my boy left for five days away at camp.  He's going with our church and I know he's in good hands, but I don't think letting go, even a little bit, ever gets easier.  J went last year for the first time ever and absolutely loved it, so I know he will have a wonderful time.  He even knows a couple of friends who are in his group, which makes me really happy.  As friendly and social as he is, he has a hard time opening up to new friends, so I'm always glad to know he's hanging around with a buddy or two.

In typical junior high style, he didn't let me make a fuss.  He gave his dad and me each a hug, let me take this one picture and then he hopped on the bus to grab a seat.

I'll be saying prayers for the campers and their leaders for safe travels, fun adventures and quiet time for the Lord to work in their hearts these next five days.  I can't wait to hear all about it on Tuesday!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 281

It's only the fourth day of summer vacation and already my kids' social calendars are going to exhaust me!

Monday - Wednesday J had football camp.  His friend's mom works, so she brought them there in the mornings and I picked them up at noon.  His friend then spent the afternoons (and Tuesday night) with us at our house.  K's friend E spent the night Monday night and I took them (and another teammate) to a batting clinic on Tuesday.  Tuesday night they had a softball scrimmage.  Today I am at work until noon, then going home to pack up J's stuff for church camp.  We have to check him (and his luggage) in at 4pm this afternoon and the buses leave for camp in the morning.  After he leaves, I will come to work again tomorrow.

This is 'vacation'?  Ha!  Even with all of this going on, the kids are begging every free minute to either go somewhere or see someone.  I think it's going to be a long summer!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 280

This is exactly how I felt this morning.  Fatigue is still my number one complaint (well, that and my stupid hair that grows too slowly!).  J had a friend spend the night last night and the kids starting watching a movie at 9:30pm.  Not a big deal on summer vacation, right?  Only problem was I was ready to go to sleep at 9:30pm!  <yawn>  

I keep telling people that I can go and go and go, but once I hit the wall, my body tells me in a very obvious way that I need to rest!  I guess last night was me hitting the wall.  I turned my light out before 10, got the boys up and on their way to football camp at 7:30am and then went back to bed until after 10am.  I just could not stay awake.  

I asked on one of my breast cancer Facebook groups how long this fatigue lasts after radiation, and most of them said months.  I need to cut myself some slack, because I know I'm not just tired from thirty-three radiation treatments.  I'm tired from having my life completely turned upside down by cancer.  I'm tired from dozens of doctors appointments, basically poisoning my body with chemo drugs, major surgery as well as those radiation treatments.  I'm tired from kicking cancer's ass for the last ten months.  

Aren't you tired of me writing about being tired?  During chemo, I had a whole list of complaints.  After surgery I was 100% focused on getting stronger every day and healing.  Now I'm just figuring out how to get back to enjoying life while at the same time knowing I can't give 110% of myself to everything like I'm used to doing.  There are times when I'll need to sleep until 10am and there are times when I'll have to tell my kids I can't go swimming in the middle of the afternoon when it's 95 degrees.  I hate it, but I have to learn that I have limitations and that those limitations are ok.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 279

Random musings...

  • Five kids in the car at one time can be really quiet if they decide to play the quiet game!
  • This is the first week of summer vacation and I have to get up early every day.  How unfair!  Who scheduled all of these activities anyway?
  • One of K's best friends is moving to Germany next week.  Sometimes living in a military town really bites.
  • J's best friend is also moving this summer.  Again, that thing about living in a military town.
  • I'm really tired.
  • We had our end of season softball team party last Friday.  Tonight we have a scrimmage.  
  • Hot flashes in the summer are no fun.  
  • Trying to buy airline tickets is the most frustrating thing.  I'm trying to buy three tickets, and yet when it pulls up the seating chart, there are only two seats available.  And they are not near each other.  Fabulous.
  • I miss reading.  I can't seem to find the time and thanks to chemo brain, when I do have the time I don't have the ability to concentrate.
  • I can't decide if the inventor(s) of Minecraft is a genius or the devil.
  • J leaves for church camp on Friday.  I should probably at least get out the suitcase.
  • I miss New York bagels.
  • Either a mouse lives under his chair or Hubby and the kids eat a lot of snacks in the recliner!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 278

Yesterday was June first.  That means it has been exactly ten months since d-day (longer still since I *knew* what the lump was going to be, but August 1st was the day I received the official word).   I don't know if I've ever written about this before, but getting "the call" is something you'll never forget.   I had taken the kids roller skating and as soon as I saw my doctor's office number on my caller ID, my heart sank.  I remember the nurse practitioner was trying to beat around the bush and sugarcoat it a bit and I didn't want that.  I already knew what it was, I just needed her to confirm it.  She finally said, "It's not good, hon."  Yeah, no kidding.  I put on my happy face for the kids until we left the skating rink and didn't break down until I got home to Hubby.  That was the day that changed everything.

If I think back on everything I have been through since then, that first day seems like so freaking long ago.  I can barely remember what I was like before that day.  To say cancer changes a person is an understatement.   My emotions were so battered in those first few weeks and I was so fragile....I felt like I woke up hanging on by a thread every single day.  However, I've thought about changing the blog to include the days between d-day and my first chemo as kicking cancer's ass days.... because even though I wasn't doing anything treatment-wise yet, in my head and in my heart I was already battening down the hatches and gearing up for battle.  But that would mean going back and changing the title of 278 blog posts and I'm just too lazy for that.  So today's really 278 + 28 days of KCA.

There are all different theories about when a person is considered a survivor, but one of the more common ideas is to count from the day you were diagnosed.  I like that, because surviving cancer is a long, drawn-out war full of daily battles both big and small from the very beginning.  Whether I am having to endure an awful treatment or go through yet another test or a major surgery, or just trying not to cry or sleep through the night (or both), it's an ongoing process that will be my "new normal" for the rest of my life.  So every day that I wake up, I wake up smiling because I'm doing so as a survivor.

Yesterday was also National Cancer Survivors Day.  For people who don't have cancer in their life, this is just another blip on the radar on their calendar.  For people like me, it's a day to acknowledge the fact that I may be in the trenches but I am winning, little by little, day by day.  I'm a survivor.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 277

Last night Hubby and I really enjoyed our little get-away to the casino.  I stayed up waaaaaaaay too late, but it was worth it because I had to stay up in order to get paid for this jackpot!  My first ever!

I'm so thankful for Grammie who looked after our kids so Hubby and I could have some grown-up time during her visit.  I know she loves spending time with J & K, but I also know how exhausting it can be, even now that they are older and more self-sufficient.  Unfortunately she leaves to go back to New York tomorrow.

We've had a great visit... she was able to have lunch with both of the kids at school, see J's band concert and awards ceremony and celebrate K's birthday with us. I know she hates being a long-distance Grammie, but she and my kids have such a special bond despite the miles.  We're all so blessed by her.