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!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 398

After a long weekend of softball (and even more softball last night), it was fun to switch gears today and go watch my boy play football.  Hubby and I are sports junkies, football especially.  Needless to say, we are beyond thrilled that J has played for the past five years.  Now that he's in junior high and an "official" Wylie Bulldog, it's just that much more fun.

As you can see by the smile on his face, J really enjoys the game.  (Of course it helps that they won today.)  He's not normally a physically active guy (he would stay rooted in front of the tv with his Kindle or Xbox controller in his hand 24/7 if I let him), so it makes me doubly happy that not only is he playing a sport that we love, too, but he's getting some exercise at the same time! 

It's great to be a Wylie Bulldog!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 397

I have really great people in my life.

I have a husband who has loved me and supported me, no matter what, for almost fifteen years.  That's a rare thing, and I'm blessed.

I have friends, good friends, who pick me up when I'm feeling down.  And offer to kick someone's ass for upsetting me.

I have a son who doesn't care if his clothes match or if his hair is sticking out all over, but he's too self-conscious to ask a girl to a dance, saying being embarrassed is his worst thing ever.  He's a boy-man who acts like a teenager but will still hug his mom.

I have a daughter who alternately frustrates me and melts my heart.  She makes me proud to be the mom of a little girl.

I have a dad who is improving little by little every day, and wonderful people surrounding him, cheering him on.

Just this morning I was chatting via Facebook with a friend who made me laugh, and then I received a text from another friend and one of her comments made me laugh.  You can't underestimate the power of laughing out loud.  More people need to laugh.  Life is too short.

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 396

Softball, softball, softball.

I'm so proud of the Lady Diamonds.  They played five games yesterday and three today, and only lost to one team.  They made it all the way to the championship game and ended up in second place.  These girls continue to steal my heart, one game at a time.

I feel like I haven't seen my son in weeks.  First I was gone to NY for five days, then he was in school, at a dance and at a football game, and then we were at the softball fields all weekend for a tournament.  I think we'll have to go do something one-on-one sometime soon so I can actually see him!  Back to work & school tomorrow, softball games tomorrow night and Thursday, and 7th grade football on Tuesday.

No rest for the weary, that's for sure!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 395

Today my girl played five (yes, five) softball games...with more to come tomorrow.  K and her Diamonds teammates played their hearts out and finished the day 5-0.  If they win their first game tomorrow they will play for the championship.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day and I can't even tell you how much I love watching my girl and her friends play.  We have a very special group of girls.

Today was also a good day because I received the following text from my mom:

Visited Dad before I went for dinner.  Dad was great :-)  :-)  :-)

I don't know if Dad gave himself a pep talk or an attitude adjustment recently, or if some of the damage from his stroke is resolving and improving his condition, but Dad has had a string of good days this week.  It makes my heart happy to know that he is smiling, visiting, and happy instead of uncomfortable, frustrated and unhappy.

What hurts my heart is strife in my life having to do with people I'm close to.  I care so deeply and feel so much...I'm a pleaser and peacekeeper and not being able to fix something and feeling caught in the middle....somehow I need to make peace with the situation, but that won't be happening tonight.

Tomorrow is a new day...a day with more softball and then some football.  Hopefully the sun will be shining and my girls will be smiling and my spirits will be lifted a little.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 394

Dear Jaci (and Jarrett too),

Thank you so much for the sweet surprise.  When the girls told me you were looking for me tonight, I had no idea why, but I never expected this.  I love the necklace so much (and the card) and will think of you every time I wear it.  Thank you for being part of Team Michelle.  I'm blessed.


I've said it before, and I'll say it again...you won't find a better softball family than my Diamonds.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 393

Just about everyone knows hot flashes are one of the major symptoms of menopause.  I've been dealing with these since last fall when I went into "chemo-pause", so having them now that my surgery threw me into full-blown menopause isn't much different.  It's too bad I can't have them on cue, though.  See... I work in Hubby's office.  I also sleep with Hubby.  Hubby likes his room temperature one degree above freezing.  We have an ongoing battle between us over the thermostat.  He walks down the hall & turns the temp down, I walk by a few minutes later and turn it up.  Most of the time Hubby wins.

Needless to say, unless I'm having a hot flash, I'm usually always cold - at work AND at home.  I'm the person you see bringing a sweatshirt to the movies in July.  Why is it that the hot flashes only come when I'm already hot?  Why not when I'm having to turn my little heater on in the office or stealing the covers from Hubby at night?

Amen, sister!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 392

As stressful and hectic as my day of traveling to New York was on Saturday, today coming back to Texas was practically uneventful.  Other than a fifteen minute delay in leaving Dallas, everything was on time.  No missed connections or re-ticketing or running through the airport.  I did have restless legs on my longest flight (from Philly to DFW), which was annoying.  It's really good to be home.  I missed Hubby and the kids, and while I loved seeing everyone up there, it was a crazy busy stressful trip with no down time.  Hopefully next time I visit I can actually go just for a visit and not to drive all over the place trying to get Dad's affairs in order!

It really did my heart good to spend time with Dad, and yesterday was a really, really good day for him.  God is good!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 388

Today I did NOT have a fun travel day.
I should have known it was going to be bad when we couldn't even board in Abilene because of a "slight maintenance issue". That was resolved and we got on the plane, only to sit there waiting for more fuel because we were being "re-routed" and needed more fuel. Last I checked the route from Abilene to Dallas was pretty much straight west to east, but whatever.  Then we had to wait to take off because there was too much air traffic at DFW. My flight finally left Abilene five minutes after I was supposed to land in Dallas. 

I knew I had already missed my connecting flight to Philly, so I hopped on Skylink to the next terminal to get to customer assistance.  She issued me new boarding passes (through DC now) and I had an hour until boarding.  I had to get back on Skylink to go from terminal D back to Terminal C for my flight.  Or so I thought.  After sitting at that gate for a while, they announced that my flight to DC would actually be leaving from gate D40.  Are you kidding me?  I just left there!!!!  Back on Skylink yet again (J would have been in his glory) to Terminal D, only to find out that our aircraft came in from Mexico and needed a thorough security inspection before we could begin boarding.  Nice.  I'm all for security, but I'd already missed one connection and had been traveling for five hours and hadn't even made it out of Texas yet!!

We ended up leaving 40 minutes late, which didn't bode well for my connection in DC.  We were scheduled to arrive at 8:06 and my next flight was at 8:25.  Thankfully the pilot announced that five of us were trying to make tight (understatement) connections so he asked everyone to remain seated until we exited the plane.  Then the fun really began. If you know me, you know I hate to run.  Like hate it with a passion and only do it if something is chasing me.  So after two flights, lugging a tote bag and suitcase and running (literally) on an empty stomach, hoofing it to the next terminal was not enjoyable at all.  To make matters worse, you have to go through security all over again. WTH????  Here I am, running through the airport praying my flight didn't leave, and I have to take my shoes off and present my liquids all over again?????  I took off without even tying my shoes and was so incredibly relieved when I saw the jetway door open at gate C39. 

Someone must have called ahead because they were very obviously holding the plane.  I felt like royalty.

So after all that, with my change of itinerary, I ended up landing in Albany 30 minutes earlier than I would have originally. Here's where you say "All's well that ends well", but man, what a day!

Tomorrow I get to see my dad, and hopefully make some headway on his paperwork. No rest for the weary!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 387

Yesterday was my three month check-up with Dr H.  You know what that means.  I arrived at 2:10 for my 2:20 appointment.  They called me back to the exam room at 3:25 and I walked out of there at 4:45pm.  What a fun way to spend the afternoon.  Not.  

I was hoping to "graduate" to six month visits, but not yet.  Apparently my blood counts are still rebelling from chemo and are still low - not dangerously low, but in the worrisome low range.  So I get to go back and repeat this fun in December and hope for better numbers.  The good news is that I got the ok to have my port removed!  I hate my port.  I'm thankful that I had it for chemo, but that's over and done.  I don't have a lot of extra padding in front of my shoulders so my port sticks out like an alien.  I can't wait to get rid of it!  Dr H told me I can ask if they'll remove it during my reconstruction surgery.  If not, I'll have to wait and have it taken out by someone here later on.

There is also a debate about which anti-cancer medicine I should be on.  For pre-menopausal women (which I was), Tamoxifen is the drug of choice.  That's what I take now.  For post-menopausal women (which I am now), Arimidex or one of its relatives is the drug of choice.  Some studies have shown the Arimidex family to be superior anti-cancer drugs when people are on them for five years.  But then there's another study that shows Tamoxifen for ten years is the better choice.  Is it a coin flip or just whatever works best for a person?  Since I'm BRCA+, my doctors in Dallas had mentioned Tamoxifen for ten years back when I was diagnosed.  Dr H seemed to lean that way, too, so (at least for now) I'll keep taking that and hope for the best.

Tomorrow I fly to New York to visit Dad and hopefully get some of his Medicaid paperwork squared away.  Wish me luck for safe travels.  And if you happen to know where Dad hid his most important papers, let me know!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 386

It's 12:41am.
I just walked by my refrigerator where a picture of Allyson hangs.  I hate that she had to have even one night like this, but man, I sure miss reading her Insomniac Blogging posts.

Do you ever feel lonely, even though you're rarely alone?  I'm a solitary person.  I'm better with just a few people than in a group.  I hate being the center of attention.  I'm a watcher, not a doer.  I have a husband I love, children I adore.  I have friends, good friends, who like me.  I am surrounded by people who care about me.  And yet here I sit, at the computer in the wee hours of the morning, because I can't sleep, and all I can think about is how alone I feel.

Is this what cancer does to a person?  The physical scars and emotional trauma aren't enough... now I can add this to the mix?  I'm not depressed.  Stressed and exhausted?  Yes.  Sad or anxious?  No.  And even if I was, I take a happy pill for that.

Why can't I sleep?  Is it the stress I've been under lately because of my dad?  Is it because my body was surgically thrown into menopause?  Can I blame it on one of the medications I take?  Or is it just bad luck?

Why do I feel so alone?  I know being a cancer patient is isolating:  nobody "gets it" unless they actually walk in your shoes.  But my best friend has walked in my shoes.  I have two wonderful support groups full of women who have walked in my shoes.  It's not that I don't have anyone in my life who can relate to all of this.  Is it because being the focus of everyone's attention for a year has made me self-centered?  Do I miss the attention that I never wanted in the first place?

I think day 386 is a weird place to be.  D-day was over a year ago.  I finished active treatment months ago, so technically I've come out on the other side of this mess.  Everything is still so new to me, though, that I don't feel past it.  I may not spend every other day at the cancer center or drive to Dallas every week for appointments, but having cancer still pretty much consumes me sometimes.  I'm guessing there will come a day when it doesn't. I hope.

What would Allyson Hendrickson say?
Well, friend....cancer sucks.  That's all there is to it!  It sucks!  You will sleep again.  Maybe not tonight, but you will.  And you are NOT alone. 

Just because I miss her, I can't sleep and I need a smile at 1am, here's a Throwback Thursday picture...my girl and her BFF - the epitome of togetherness:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 383

Did you know that one of the effects of surgical menopause (a.k.a. when your body goes immediately into menopause due to surgical removal of ovaries) is debilitating fatigue?

I do now.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 382

Friday night Hubby and I had a date.  We went out for pizza and then braved the chilly, misty evening to cheer on the local high school football team.  The pizza was fantastic, the company even better.  Unfortunately the football game didn't go our way.

Saturday morning dawned gray and cool....not exactly softball weather, but we bundled up and headed out to K's tournament.  Her team played four games Saturday - won two and lost two, which meant they were still in it on Sunday.  Her team rallied from being down 7-0 to winning  the first game 9-7, so they made it to the semifinal game.  Too many mistakes cost us, so we fell one game short, but I'm so proud of this group of little girls who have made me love softball more than I ever thought I would.  

We are now all completely exhausted and fighting to keep our eyes open while we watch the Dallas Cowboys. game.  Looks like we'll have another busy week with two softball games, a 7th grade football game and then the high school football game on Friday.

Have I mentioned that I love sports?!?!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 380

To my Hubby,

I could search for a hundred years and never find adequate words to describe what you are to me.  As a couple we have faced huge obstacles and tribulations in the last fourteen years, and together we still stand strong.  We don't always agree, and sometimes we can't even find a way to agree to disagree, but you are and always will be the most important person in my life.  We are blessed.

When I am at my lowest, you hold me up.  When I am at my breaking point, you ease my burden.  When I am hanging on by a thread, you talk me down from the ledge.  I know I have laid (and keep laying) incredibly heavy burdens on your shoulders, and probably take for granted that you can carry them.  You haven't let me down even once.  

In sickness and in health, for better or for worse, you stand beside me and that means more than you could ever know.  I love you.

To my readers...yes, I realize I should save this post for another month when Hubby and I will celebrate our anniversary, but sometimes the words just have to come out.  

Also, there is a story behind the couple in that picture.
A month ago, Hubby was in the waiting room while I had my surgery and a man sat down next to Hubby and started talking to him.  Hubby told him a little about me & what we were there for.  A while later, that man came up and handed Hubby a gift bag for me.  In it was this Willow Tree Angel couple.  I love Willow Tree angels, and I love Hubby, so this was a perfect gift.  Why from a perfect stranger?  I don't know.  
(I secretly think Hubby made up the whole story and bought it for me himself, but he denies that.)  
Hubby had to go down to get something out of the car and this same man was in the parking lot next to his vehicle, which was sporting a tire with something really wrong with it.  Hubby came back in our room to get his wallet, saying he had to "go buy a man a tire".  Is it any wonder why I love him???

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 379

Last night I felt like I was jumping out of my skin.  At the close of the business day the plan was to transfer my dad this morning to a short-term rehab facility that nobody had even visited, and it was over an hour from his home.  This morning when I got to work I had an email waiting for me from the admissions department of the facility we wanted him to go to.  She said that they were offering a bed for my dad, pending insurance authorization.  I replied to her saying that her email was a ray of sunshine after a dark, dark night.

They transported my dad this afternoon and he is settled in at a wonderful place.  He has his own room with a big window he can see out from his bed.  He will go to the dining room to eat every meal and the doctor and therapists all took a lot of time to meet with him and go over what he can expect and to talk about how much progress he has made since his stroke.

We now have the daunting task of trying to apply for Medicaid so his long-term care will be covered financially, which will require tons of paperwork and a lot of luck.  We need years of tax returns and income statements, military discharge papers and documentation of any transfers of assets.  We don't even know where his birth certificate is!  One step at a time... one day at a time.  The important thing is that Dad is where we want him to be to get the best care.  I hope and pray he has a restful night in his new home away from home.

Tonight my family spent the evening at the fair.  I love the fair.  It's dirty and expensive and the rides are scarily unstable and the food is horrible for you.... but it's so much fun.  We ate, the kids rode rides and played some games and we finished the evening off sharing a funnel cake.  Good times after a stressful few days.

As always, I want to take time to reflect back on this day thirteen years ago.  I was pregnant with my first child and was awakened by a phone call from my mom, telling me to turn on my tv.  She said a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.  I sat glued to my tv the rest of the day, watching in horror as our nation was brutally attacked and precious lives were lost.  God bless America.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 378

This time last year I was recovering from chemo #1 and gearing up for J's big football day at Cowboys Stadium.  This year I'm still recovering, only this time it's from surgery and whatever nasty bug I picked up from somewhere, and gearing up for a busy football season.  I went to bed with an upset stomach and a fever.  The upset stomach was gone this morning, but the fever remained.  Now that I've had lunch, my stomach is protesting.  Is it too much to ask to just have one thing go right??

J had his first football game last night as a 7th grade Wylie Bulldog.  He played offense most of the first half and some defense in the second half, and he got a tackle.  It was a miserable 100 degrees and I was melting in the stands - I can't imagine how those boys actually put forth any effort.  Go Bulldogs!

As much as I absolutely love football, I'm a little overwhelmed with life right now, and I'd rather be doing this:

That was back before cancer and a heart attack and a stroke threw my whole family for a loop.  
(It was also when I had a pretty pedicure, unlike right now!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 377

The good:

*J was feeling better today after coming home sick yesterday, so he was able to attend his first pep rally and 7th grade football game (they won!).

The bad:

*J seems to have shared his stomach bug with me.  I have been feeling so queasy all day and even resorted to taking some of my chemo nausea meds.

The ugly:

*My dad is only approved to stay at the hospital through tomorrow.  The place we want to transfer him to hasn't accepted his application.  There is so much red tape everywhere in this process that I don't know if we'll ever get it figured out.  I am stressed to the max.

Kicking cancer's ass - day 376

I'm in a storm right now.  The stress is overwhelming.  I know God is with me every step of the way, but I keep waiting for one little thing to go right, instead of one roadblock after another.

Life is good, but it sure ain't easy.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 375

One of the weapons in my kicking cancer's ass arsenal is Tamoxifen.  Tamoxifen is a drug that blocks estrogen, which is a good thing since my tumors were estrogen-receptor positive.  That means my cancer basically ate estrogen for lunch.  I actually started this medicine back in February, but I've had to stop and start it several times (I couldn't take it during radiation, when I flew in July or when I had surgery).  My body hasn't had more than a month or two on Tamoxifen at a time, so I really don't know how it's going to be in the long run.  What I do know is that one of the side effects that hits me immediately is restless legs.  I don't know why, but Tamoxifen exacerbates my restless legs syndrome to the tenth degree.  I started back on it Friday, and both Friday night and Saturday night I had to rely on another medication to combat the effects.  I've never taken so many pills in my life.

I'm still on exercise restrictions from surgery, but I think I might have to start riding my exercise bike a little bit each day in hopes on combating the restless legs.

In other news, please keep my dad in your prayers.  Medically he's stable, but mentally he's having a really difficult time.  Insurance is requiring him to be moved from the acute rehab (hospital) he's at to a sub-acute nursing facility.  The place we want him to go to has a bed available, but there's some red tape and paperwork we have to get through first.  I hope to get through it all tomorrow so he can get settled where he needs to be.  He's had a couple of falls lately, too, so we're all worried about keeping him safe while trying to get him well.  His stroke was very severe, so there is a lot of work to do, and a lot of the time he doesn't want to cooperate.

Pray for his health, pray for his safety, pray that his transfer goes through, pray for improvement in his motivation, his cooperation and the ability of his therapists to work with him.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 374

This is my girl riding in the parade that kicks off the West Texas Fair & Rodeo.  She is always asking to ride in the fair, and this year she got her wish.  She would have preferred to be riding on a horse, but sitting next to her teacher with her classmates on the Wylie float was a fun time.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 373

Football Friday night in Texas.
I missed this last year... I think I only made it to one game all season. Tonight we started the game with a thirty minute lightning delay two minutes into the first quarter, but went on to win - Bulldogs vs Bulldogs.

Monday night is K's first fall softball game and Tuesday is J's first 7th grade football game.

I'm a sports mama and I love every minute!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 371

Today was an exciting day for J.  Yes, it was just a Wednesday, and yes, he had school and football practice.  That's not what made it exciting, though.  A few months ago there was a reporter from the newspaper at the Open House for J's model railroad club.  She became very interested in J since he doesn't exactly fit in with the model railroad club demographic.  He is by far the youngest member of the Abilene club and the only "kid" to participate other than the visitors they get from time to time.  She asked him some questions and then asked if she could contact us to do an interview with him.  She never came back to train club and I never heard from her, so we figured the story got nixed.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when Hubby and J were at train club.  This same reporter showed up and began an interview with J and took pictures of him there.  She talked to Hubby and asked if it would be ok to for her to come to our house and talk to Jared in his own environment and see what he's working on with his own trains, etc.  She came this evening and spent an hour talking with J, taking some video, asked him a ton of questions and even walked out to see the shed in progress where J will eventually build his own train layout.

I could tell J was nervous, but he did SO GREAT.  Better than I would have.  He was calm and answered her questions in complete sentences and really made model trains sound so interesting!

My favorite part was when she asked him how he knows so much about trains.
His answer? "Years of experience!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 370

Today Hubby and I road-tripped to Dallas for my post-op appointment with Dr K.  It's never a quick in and out visit with her, and considering we've been here 50 minutes and are still in the waiting room, today promises to be no different. 

Whenever I see Dr K, we wait. And wait. Whenever we see Dr L we wait. And wait. Whenever we see Dr H we wait. And wait. And wait. Waiting for the first two doesn't bother me. Much. I don't know why. Maybe because I really like them.  Maybe because we have to drive three hours for these appointments... so it really would be a long drive to only spend fifteen minutes here. Having to wait for Dr H grates on my last nerve, though. I'm normally a patient person, but I can't stand the fact that I have to wait 2+ hours every time I see him. I guess not being thrilled with him as a doctor has something to do with how I feel.

Anyway, I digress. Today I hope to get the ok to drive, as well as get the pathology report back from my surgery. Praying for good news.

* * * * * * * * * *
It's 10:00pm and we are home.  The good news is that my pathology report was all clear.  A few benign and/or normal issues, but NO CANCER.  The bad news is that I'm housebound for three more days.  Dr K wants me to wait the full three weeks before I start driving again.  Sigh.

I also graduated to six month visits with Dr K. That's two doctors down, three to go!

We detoured on the way home to visit Allyson's cemetery.  I was hoping her headstone would be there, but not yet; however the little butterfly yard light I put out was still there.  I'm happy she's not in the dark.

We also took the not-so-beaten path on the way home in order to avoid the Dallas-Fort Worth five o'clock traffic.  This back way took us through Hubby's namesake:

He enjoyed driving through Boyd, but I have to say that they should use the term "city" loosely!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Kicking cancer's ass - day 369

I'd like to give a little update on my dad.
He still has inpatient status at a rehab center at a hospital.  He does occupational, speech and physical therapy six days a week (when he cooperates, which sometimes he doesn't).  He spends quite a bit of time sitting up in the chair, can pull himself up to stand holding the parallel bars, feeds himself (with his left hand) and recognizes my voice and my kids' voices from messages we leave for him.  All of that is GREAT.

Some is not so great, though.  He's very frustrated and down.  I'm not an expert on stroke patients, but I would think that is fairly normal as they begin to realize how limited they really are, and how much of their former selves they've lost.  Sometimes he's very testy and doesn't always want to do what they ask him to. He's also very confused sometimes.  Marion goes sometimes for his therapy sessions and he does very well with her.  I told her she needs to add physical therapist to her resume!  His right leg is essentially paralyzed, and most of the time he has a catheter because the stroke caused him to lose bladder control/feeling.

Now on to the scary stuff.  A doctor from the hospital called me yesterday.  They had done another CT scan on my dad because they want to start him on blood thinners to avoid him getting any blood clots in his right leg since he can't move it.  The CT scan showed two "worrisome" lesions, but the doctor said at this point explaining it in any way would be pure speculation.  He wants a better look at them, so he asked for my consent for a brain MRI with contrast.  So that's next on Dad's agenda sometime this week, and hopefully it will show the doctors what they need to see.

Please keep Dad in your prayers.  We know his recovery is going to be long, and maybe even limited, but with help and prayers, I have faith that we can get some of the old Opa back!  He listened to the voice mail that J & K left for him yesterday, and Marion said afterward he smiled and said, "Nice".  I'm glad we can bring even a little sunshine to his days.