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!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 521

Meet Zoomer:

This is K's robotic puppy.  If you notice, Zoomer is missing an ear.  We're not sure where it is or what happened to it.  K came in the kitchen crying last night, saying that she can't train Zoomer because she needs both ears to hear.   I was a little skeptical about this theory, but what do I know about robotic dogs?  I told K I would look online for help with Zoomer and maybe we could find a way to order a replacement ear.

Upon visiting Zoomer's neighborhood (what they call their web site), I discovered this in the frequently asked questions:

Zoomer is a Multi-Lingual little puppy and can receive commands in three different languages! All you need to do is to make sure he is switched to the correct language. 
No wonder Zoomer wasn't listening... she wanted K to speak to her in Spanish!

That's how I spent my Friday night... how about you?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 520

This morning I woke up with a sore throat... on one side.  Do you know how annoying it is to have a sore throat just on one side?  My ear also hurts on that same side.  Lovely.

Since I'm OCD and I keep a log of how I'm feeling every day, I knew that the sore throat was coming.  The day after I get an iron infusion, I get a headache.  That happened yesterday.  The next day I wake up with a sore throat.  That happened today.  The third day I wake up completely exhausted and have zero energy for a couple of days, so I guess I'll be a slug this weekend.

I'm really hoping this weird sore throat is from the infusion and not a gift from Hubby.  He's been sick since last weekend and just now is getting his voice back.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 518

This is how I spent my day:


Eight hours and 11,421 steps later (according to my trusty Fitbit), my OCD side can finally rest.

I should mention that the "before" pic was taken after I'd already started. K's room was a mess, but not that bad!  Her closet was a disaster, with clothes and toys spilling out everywhere. Her bookshelf was still packed with toddler board books and there were ponytail holders and clips in every nook and cranny of her room. I won't even go into how many loom bands I found.  She could never find anything, and it's no wonder! I couldn't stand it any longer.

I ended up with an overflowing large bag of trash, three bags and a box full of clothes and toys for Goodwill and I haven't even weeded out the clothes in her dresser!

I told Hubby I don't know the last time I cleaned, and cleaned out, K's room.
His response? "When she was born". Ha!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 517

Nobody likes a pity party except for the person doing the partying.  Not trying to sound preachy, but everyone has some reason to feel sorry for themselves. Some more than others.  

No matter what life throws at you, do your best to stay positive and shine.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 516

Hot flashes are a mystery to me.

Ha!  I wish.

Through my breast cancer Facebook groups and the people I know who've had breast cancer, there are a lot of women dealing with hot flashes.  Most of them say that they are hot-natured now, even when they used to be cold all of the time.  They seem to have hot flashes all day and night sweats at night, to the point that they need to try medicine to help them.  My sister-in-law has discovered that the herbal supplement black cohosh helps with her hot flashes immensely.

Even though I am in menopause (thanks to a hysterectomy) and I'm taking an anti-cancer drug that can increase hot flashes, I think I had more hot flashes during chemo than I do now.  With that being said, I still have them.  And when they happen, they happen quick.  There's a reason they are called hot flashes - as in they come on in a flash!  There's no warning and no slow build-up.  One minute you're fine, the next you are burning up.

It's totally ridiculous.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 515

For our last day in San Antonio, both kids got to do something they love.  K had the opportunity to socialize with one of her Lady Diamonds friends who lives there now while we took J to a model train show.  Win-win for both of them!

It was so great to see the Arnold family.  I'm glad K was able to catch up with A, and I was able to get big hugs from their sweet kiddos.

J picked out some new train cars and an engine, so he left a very happy camper.  We had a late lunch at The Cheesecake Factory - one of my and Hubby's favorites.  J left there saying it was the best meal he's had in a long time.

The good:
A & K - sweet, sweet friends

The bad:  
Hubby has a horrible cold and has been doped up on Nyquil and Dayquil since last night.

The ugly:
Obviously we did not get the memo for the dress code for the train show

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 514

Today we spent the day in San Antonio with my stepson and his family.  They were celebrating his stepdaughter's ninth birthday and the kids had a blast at a trampoline play place.  From right to left, here's K with the birthday girl and her BFF:

After that we headed downtown to the Riverwalk.  J had asked if we could visit the Alamo.  I'd never been there and Hubby hadn't been since junior high, so it was an interesting visit.  So much history in one small place.

While grabbing some fajitas at Rita's on the Riverwalk, we enjoyed a serenade by a mariachi band.  Well, we all enjoyed it except K, who was very much embarrassed to be the object of their attention:

Both kiddos went back to my stepson's house for the night, so Hubby and I went on a movie date.  American Sniper is an incredible film.  Very powerful, very patriotic, very moving.  You could hear a pin drop as the credits rolled, and no one made a sound as we walked out of the theater.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 513

Hubby bought me a FitBit for Christmas.  If you don't know what it is, it looks like this:

It's a silicon bracelet that you wear 24/7 and it tracks your movements.  Mine is the most basic model and it keeps track of how many steps I've taken, how many calories I've burned (I think it grossly overestimates this!) and even how restless and how many times I'm awake during the night.  If you're a serious FitBit user you can keep track of water intake, foods you eat and log any exercise you do.  It syncs automatically through bluetooth on my phone as well as my computer.  Neat-o, right?  

My goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day.  Since I've either been sick and/or severely anemic pretty much since before I got my FitBit, there hasn't been a whole lot of activity for me.  Today is the first time I actually met that goal!  We took a road trip to San Antonio, and the kids wanted to go to the fitness center in the hotel.  I walked a mile on the treadmill before going back to the room.  When I checked my FitBit, I had less than 400 steps to go to reach my goal.  I headed back to the treadmill & logged another half a mile.  This was the result:

Right now these 10,000 steps days are few and far between, but at least now I know I can do it!  FitBit even sent me a cute little "sneaker badge" to commemorate the event.  Go me!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 512

In light of waking up with zero energy yet again, I began to do some research.  I currently take three prescriptions:  Lexapro (antidepressant), Mirapex (restless legs) and Tamoxifen (estrogen blocker).  Looking at the possible side effects from just these three pills, then adding in the fact that I was immediately thrown into surgical menopause (which brings on it's own set of symptoms) a few months ago and considering I am still anemic, it's really not a shock that I'm tired.  But I'm sick of being tired.  Hubby is sick of me being tired.  My kids are sick of me being tired.

I want to feel normal.  I want to feel like I can face the day, every day, when I wake up.  And yet here I sit, on my couch in my pjs, after a full night's sleep, because I'm completely exhausted.  Just reading through the lists of side effects is exhausting!

What choice do I have?  Without the Mirapex, my restless legs syndrome is awful (aggravated by the Tamoxifen).  Without the Tamoxifen, my body will produce estrogen that my cancer fed off of.  Without the Lexapro, I can't stay on an even keel and deal with any of this!

I know I can't place 100% of the blame for the way I'm feeling on my medications.  There's no telling what, if any, side effects I have.  After all, I had cancer!  Multiple surgeries and chemo and radiation did a number on me for sure.  It really makes me wonder, though, how much of the way I feel is tied to the pills I need to treat certain things.  Maybe it's like six in one hand and half a dozen in the other - you just have to find the lesser of two evils.

  • extreme drowsiness, falling asleep suddenly, even after feeling alert;
  • nausea, sweating, feeling light-headed, fainting;
  • hallucinations;
  • muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness with fever or flu symptoms and dark colored urine;
  • chest pain, cough with white or pink phlegm (mucus), wheezing;
  • feeling short of breath (even with mild exertion), swelling, rapid weight gain;
  • feeling weak or tired, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss;
  • fast or uneven heartbeats; or
  • tremors, twitching or uncontrollable movements of your eyes, lips, tongue, face, arms, or legs.
  • dry mouth, stomach pain, vomiting, constipation;
  • headache, dizziness, spinning sensation;
  • mild drowsiness;
  • swelling in your hands or feet;
  • appetite or weight changes;
  • blurred vision;
  • sleep problems (insomnia), unusual dreams;
  • amnesia, forgetfulness, thinking problems;
  • Hot flashes
  • nausea
  • leg cramps
  • muscle aches
  • hair thinning
  • headache
  • vision changes (e.g., blurred vision)
  • eye pain
  • easy bruising/bleeding
  • mental/mood changes
  • unusual tiredness

    • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination
    • headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, confusion, hallucinations, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops
    • drowsiness, dizziness
    • sleep problems (insomnia)
    • mild nausea, gas, heartburn, upset stomach, constipation
    • weight changes
    • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm
    • dry mouth, yawning, ringing in your ears.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 511

    Do you know what those coins are?   

    That picture represents the love between a father and his little girl.

    Those silver coins have been in a stack on my dresser for months.  One day, as I was doing K's hair before school, she arranged them in the shape of a heart.  The next morning, her daddy surprised her by arranging them to say the word "Hi".  While doing her hair that day, she changed them to say "bye".  Hubby's next act was a smiley face, hers was a peace sign.  Every morning she looks for a new design from her daddy, and this bow is what she left him today.

    We don't have fortune and fame, and can't give our kids everything they want, but what we can and do give them is love.  Hubby has no problem telling me or the kids he loves us, but the little things he does to show us that love touch my heart even more.

    I'm blessed.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 510

    Today is chemo day for my mom.  This is number three of twelve chemo treatments.  She's doing amazingly well.  She had a few rough days last time, but bounced back quickly and then had a good week or so before the next one.  I hope that trend continues!  Please keep the prayers coming for her that she stays strong, healthy and keeps her positive spirit.

    Yesterday I crashed.  I mean CRASHED.  I took the kids to their friends' house (for a Martin Luther King Jr party!) and I came home and promptly conked out on the couch.  One of the lovely gifts cancer gives you is never knowing what is "normal".  I'm anemic and my blood counts have been down for months.... so is it "normal" for me to crash on the couch at 4pm?  Or is it a sign that something else is going on?  Am I coming down with something?  Is it tied to the anemia?  The endless questions, wondering and worrying can drive you batty!  I try to listen to my body and rest when I need to rest, but maybe I'm still not resting enough.   I feel guilty, but I had to skip the fitness challenge.  I was just way too exhausted.  Today is a day of rest, so if I'm up to it I'll do yesterday's exercises.

    Here's a picture of J & K with their friends at the party today.  Fun times!

    Sunday, January 18, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 508

    One of my Facebook Bellas posted something that really struck a chord with me.  She was having a hard time after a young woman she knew recently passed away from cancer.  She wrote:

    "I don't feel like I'm surviving, I feel like I am just waiting for my turn - this is a horrible disease"

    Even though I try not to dwell on my health, and sometimes I even manage to "forget" for a while, I do have moments where I feel exactly like that.  I know that there are a lot of people who beat cancer and go on to live for a long, long time.  But I also know there are many who aren't so lucky.

    There are days when I feel lousy or I'm completely exhausted and it's just really difficult to stay positive.  I had an aggressive form of breast cancer that had already spread to multiple lymph nodes.  I also carry the gene mutation for breast cancer.  Those two things aren't exactly encouraging.  There are other days, though, where I feel like the past eighteen months can't possibly have happened to me.  It's still surreal, even after everything I've gone through.

    I truly believe that "surviving" isn't just something we do, it's something we must choose to do.  I can't control whether or not I ever get cancer again.  I can control the choices I make, though, and I try every day to be healthier, stronger, happier and more positive.  That's not just surviving, that's living!

    Friday, January 16, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 506

    THIS is my daughter's philosophy!  She is the queen (or should I say princess) of mismatched socks.
    While it makes putting her laundry away much easier, it drives my OCD-ness a little crazy.
    Life is too short, but you still won't see me wearing mismatched socks!

    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 505

    Want to hear something neat?   I received a message yesterday from one of my KCA friends.  One of her good friends has a friend (stay with me here) who was just diagnosed with breast cancer.  The mutual friend asked my friend if she had any resources she could pass along.  Turns out this woman with breast cancer lives in Iowa.  Another of our KCA friends lives in Iowa, so my KCA friend asked her for information to give to this other woman.  There's an organization in Des Moines that pairs people who have cancer with other cancer survivors, so they have a kind of mentor as they begin their fight.  Our KCA friend lives near Des Moines, and guess what?  SHE was paired with this woman, the friend of a friend of a friend, to be her mentor.  Small world, right?

    Why did I post the quote above?  Our KCA friend in Iowa is facing a challenge right now, but by being a mentor to other cancer patients, she is putting her fear aside, moving forward and making a difference.

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 502

    As you all know, I am a huge football fan.  Unfortunately, we are coming to the end of football season.  Boo!  Even though my Cowboys lost yesterday so they won't be in the Super Bowl, I still look forward to the big game.  If you're like me and don't have a team playing, I can give you some incentive to want to pay attention to the game.  We are doing a football board for the Super Bowl as a fundraiser for K's softball team.  It is $25 per square, and there is a $250 winner at the end of each quarter.  Fun, right?

    You know you love football.  You know you love winning money.  So combine the two, and help out a little girls softball team!  Let me know if you or anyone you know might want to buy a square.

    I can accept PayPal at lighthouse_lady8@hotmail.com.  As J would say, "Easy peasy!"

    Sunday, January 11, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 501

    Today we were a house divided.
    Growing up in Texas, Hubby is a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan.
    Growing up in New York, I'm a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan.  (Don't ask me to explain)
    K isn't really a football fan, but she tends to cheer for whichever team her daddy does, which means she cheers for the Dallas Cowboys.
    And then there is J.  Somehow, right smack in the middle of Texas, growing up in a house full of Cowboys fans, my son cheers for the................. Green Bay Packers?????  Say what??

    He gets the last laugh this year, because his Packers beat my Cowboys today in the playoffs.  
    Oh well, there's always next year.

    On a different note, who knew that an iron infusion would have side effects?  I didn't.  I guess it makes sense, because if you take iron pills there are side effects.  I just didn't expect it, especially the side effects I have:  headache, earache, congestion and sore throat.  The exact same thing happened in the days following my iron infusion last time, too, so I know I can blame it on that.  It just seems weird to me.  Hopefully I just have one more to go.  I'm getting sick and tired of spending this entire winter sick and tired!

    Friday, January 9, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 500

    Today is day 500 of kicking cancer's ass.  On day 499 I did a hundred squats - yes, that's ONE HUNDRED (breathing heavily and needing to rest halfway through, while my teenager breezed right through them... Grrrr) and a forty second plank. 

    My daughter must have sensed my exhaustion because she tried to bless me with superhero powers. I told her I was too tired to be a superhero.

    I did learn that she has superhero powers:

    She can turn into literally anything.

    She can push a button on her watch and turn into half-human and half-cyborgThe other button makes her half-demon.

    She can shoot lasers out of her eyes.

    She can read ancient legends and say ancient spells.

    She can fight evil demons.

    She can shoot firebolts and lightning bolts.

    Wow. Being an eight year old superhero sounds more exhausting than my fitness challenge!

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 499

    After a day of rest, today's challenge is a forty-second plank and one hundred squats. Just shoot me now.

    Thursday, January 8, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 498

    Well, the good news is that my labs were better.  The bad news is "better" doesn't equal "normal".  My hemoglobin, which was the biggest worry, went from 8.1 to 9.9.  Yay!  I'm out of the needing-a-blood-transfusion stage, but I'm still anemic.  A normal value is over 12.  So things are moving in the right direction at least.
    Dr H wants me to have two more iron infusions which will hopefully get me back in the normal range.  There's nothing to them other than having to sit in the infusion room for two hours, which is depressing. But I suffered no ill effects from the first one, so there are worse things.  I go for that today, and then again in three weeks.
    I think we might have set a record the other day, too.  We were in the waiting room for less than thirty minutes, and in the exam room for about fifteen before the doc came in.  I don't know that we've ever gotten in and out with Dr H in a little over an hour!
    Since Mom was still in the chemo chair thanks to an insurance delay, I won!!!

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 497

    Fifteen years ago, on January 7, 2000, my life was changed forever.  That's the day I first met Hubby.  I think back to that night, and all of the monstrous phone bills (back in the day when you had to pay for long distance calls!), and all of the money we spent on plane tickets to fly back and forth between Texas and South Carolina (it was mostly South Carolina to Texas, because let's face it, Hubby hates to fly), our first real date (1am at Waffle House)... in some ways it seems so long ago, but in other ways it doesn't seem like it could possibly have been fifteen years.

    We've been through so much together, including some really tough times, and through it all Hubby has been by my side.  His love and support have never wavered and for that I am eternally grateful.  Our children are lucky to be the ones who call him "Dad", and I am incredibly lucky to be the one who calls him Hubby.  Actually I call him "Pa" most of the time (he calls me "Ma"), except in my blog posts he's Hubby.

    Of all the tough times we've been through, one of the worst was the night his big brother died.  I will never forget when Hubby called me from the hospital and told me Daryl didn't make it.  Even though his brother had been in a motorcycle wreck and those are usually pretty bad, I thought he was kidding.  My response was actually "You're kidding!". That was January 7, 2007.  So this date is bittersweet, especially for Hubby.  

    One of the lessons cancer has taught me, though, is to focus on the positive and be thankful for your blessings.  The day we met is the greatest blessing.

    Happy fifteen years together Hubby.  I love you!

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 496

    I have an appointment with my oncologist this morning, and at the same time my mom will be getting chemo treatment #2.  So at 10:30 while I'm waiting for Dr. H, she'll be sidling up to the chemo bar to kill some more cancer cells.  Go Mom!

    I don't know what's more depressing, though - the fact that my mother has to have chemo or knowing she'll probably get through a whole treatment before I finish waiting for Dr H!  (She does get a head start, though, thanks to the hour time difference!)

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 495

    • My computer died.  I mean completely, not even a light will flicker, died.  This is not good.  My phone is great for playing Words with Friends, reading email and checking Facebook, but not so great for typing a blog post on.  
    • After a day of rest, my fitness challenge is back on.  Today was a 25 second plank (I did it twice!) and 70 squats.  I did 50 without stopping, rested a minute and then did the last 20.  Squat #51 was the worst one!
    • My Cowboys won a playoff game.  Did you hear me?
      My Cowboys won a playoff game!
      Next Sunday will be ugly in this house since they are playing Green Bay and J has somehow become a Packers fan!
    • Tomorrow I have an appointment with Dr H to check my labs.  After last month's dismal performance by my blood counts, I hope the numbers are much better this time.  I'm finally getting over my sickness, I've been taking vitamins and drinking protein shakes and I had an iron infusion.  Fingers crossed that all of that equals better lab results!
    • The kids went back to school today.  How did I spend my alone time?  Doing laundry, filing paperwork (GOD I need another room just for my medical papers!) and then running errands.  I had three things to return and a prescription to pick up.  Do I know how to have fun or what?
    • Speaking of medical paperwork, my insurance company has been billed a whopping $437,764.88 since d-day (8/1/13).
      Holy CRAP!
      Granted, the amount they've had to pay is significantly lower, and my portion maxes out at $4,000 a year, but still. 
    • I have been awake since 4am.  I went to bed at midnight.  You do the math!

    Friday, January 2, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 492

    Do you make any resolutions for the new year?  I don't have willpower to stick to a diet, so I never make New Year's resolutions regarding eating or exercising.  I know myself, and I know it'll never last.  I did start a fitness challenge, though.  One of the Bellas (my breast cancer Facebook group) put up a challenge for planking and squats.  Since I am completely out of shape with no motivation to exercise, I thought maybe I should do this to get my butt moving!

    I have zero upper body strength.  I've always been a weakling, but that's been made even worse since my surgeries that affected the muscles in my chest and under my arms.  I knew the plank challenge would really challenge me, especially since I still have some pain in my side from coughing.  So far so good, though.  I even did the plank twice yesterday and today!  Fifteen seconds may not seem like a lot, but oh my God is it hard!  I had K get down on the floor with me today to try to do it.  She's a healthy, energetic, athletic eight-year-old.  She couldn't do more than four seconds!  That made me feel better.  Ha!  

    The squats are easier for me, but doing 50 or 55 at a time isn't easy.  I'm trying not to look at the end of the month where it says 250.  Yikes!

    I may not be buff or skinny, but at least I'm doing something to make my body a little healthier and stronger.

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

    Kicking cancer's ass - day 491

    Today is January 1st.  2015.  Wow.  Where does the time go?  In a few days it will be the 15th anniversary of the day I "met" Hubby.     

    This time last year I was getting ready for my mastectomy surgery.  I was only a few weeks out from chemotherapy, I was bald, exhausted and scared to death about what I still had to face.  Today I am still exhausted, but I'm hopeful that most of my breast cancer "journey" is behind me.  My body bears the evidence of the four surgeries I had last year.  I am forty-one years old and I'm in surgical menopause.  I carry the fear with me every day that cancer may return.  I'm still facing a surgery or two this year to complete my reconstruction, and my schedule of doctor appointments will still be busy.

    Nothing about my life for the past five hundred days (give or take a week or two) has been easy.  I've been through hell and back, and my family has had my back every step of the way.  My kids are the most caring, resilient kids in the world.  They are understanding when I say "I can't do that today".  My teenager often asks me how I'm feeling, and K prays for me before we eat supper.  Hubby has been my rock, putting his own needs and issues aside so he can take care of me.  He is my best friend and I couldn't love him more.  

    I don't normally make New Year's resolutions, because I know I most likely won't keep them.  I don't stick to a diet, I won't stay away from Facebook and I can't give up chocolate.  One thing I vow to do this year, starting today, is to be a better wife and mom.  I've been selfish (justifiably so - cancer patients have to be) for the last year and a half, and it's about time I focus more of my time and energy on the man I love and our beautiful children.  Every day with them is a gift, and I want them to know I appreciate each moment I have with them.

    Hubby, J & K - you are my world.  Thank you for walking through the fire with me. 
    Let's make 2015 the year we move past this cancer business and get back to living life!