Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Follow me :)

Follow me :) Ok, not in a weird, I'm some sort of cult leader way. I mean follow my blog! I have been amazed at how much response I have gotten since starting this blog not too long ago. I have had HUNDREDS of page views A DAY! And a lot of messages with questions/comments! So, if you are a fellow blogger or simply enjoy reading them, then follow this blog! And feel free to recommend it to your friends, should you feel they would like to read it as well. I would love to expand my reader base! My hope is that someday, my story will touch the life of someone going though a similar situation! And FYI: I love getting questions and comments :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Below are pictures documenting my "hair journey." It has taken me awhile to work up the courage to share the bald pics. But I sent out a bald pic earlier today on FB and had a GREAT response so I figured what the heck!

Today's post is all about hair! Or the lack thereof I guess I should say. Although that is not always a bad thing! I mean, I haven't had to shave in MONTHS. ANYWHERE! And I get to sleep in at least an extra ten minutes in the morning because I don't have to fix my hair! So being bald isn't all bad :)

But I am ready for my hair to grow back. Above is a picture from about three years ago. As you can see, I used to have REALLY long, thick, brown hair. I've heard that sometimes after chemo hair will come back a different color or texture. So I guess we will see! Yesterday marks one month since my last chemo treatment! According to all the literature I've read, most people's hair starts coming in around this time. I have a small layer of "fuzz" on my head that I never really lost. But I THINK I see a few sprinklings of new hair coming in! And so far, it's looking like I'll still be a brunette!

This is literally right after I had my head shaved! I noticed my hair falling out about two weeks after my first treatment. Hair coming out everywhere gets messy and it can be a little traumatic so I found that it was just easier to have it shaved off.

One of my BFFs, Audra, and I on New Years Eve 2013

I have two wigs that I wear when I feel like going out! Or when I just want to fit in and not have a million people ask me about my life story. One is long/brunette and the other is short/dirty blonde. Can you tell they are wigs above?? I have AMAZING coworkers and they actually held a contest at work to name my blonde wig since I consider it my fun wig!

For everyday wear I usually wear scarves or hats. (Believe it or not your head actually gets cold with nothing on it! I don't know how bald men do it!) The wigs are fun but they get hot and itchy sometimes. I was tired of the scarves and it was warmer outside today so I just went bald! Above is the picture I took earlier today and sent out with the hashtag #nohairdontcare :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

I have the BEST grandpa

Really, I do. He is the absolute best. And even though I hate to admit it, he has more a little spoiled. This morning, about five minutes after I woke up, I am walking through the living room when he tells me "You look so pretty this morning!" I am in sweatpants and a t-shirt with no makeup on and a beanie. I'm pretty sure I looked the opposite of pretty at the time! He actually does that all the time, tell me I look great at the moments when I look my worst, that is. He also cranks up my car for me every morning so I won't have to drive cold. I don't know what I'm going to do once I move and don't get to see him everyday!

2 years

This is a hard subject for me to discuss. Even now, I still start crying just thinking about it. Today marks two years since my mom passed away. I will never forget that day. She had been moved to Bethany House (which is an AMAZING facility by the way) to be able to get some rest, and also for us to get some rest. She was in the final stages of her life and we were all prepared to let her go. And I know that she was ready too. As much of a fighter as she was, I know she was tired and ready to be with her Maker. She was at Bethany House about a week before she passed. I've never told anybody this before but I honestly believe that she waited that long for me. I had my exit HESI for nursing school (which is a HUGE test that I had to pass in order to graduate) on Valentine's Day. I had spent most of my time studying by her bedside. So I passed my test. And mom passed away at 1:15 the following morning. I feel like she knew how important that test was to me and that I wouldn't have been able to do it had she passed sooner. She gave me so much throughout her life and I will always remember that as her last gift to me. Nothing made me happier than being able to whisper in her ear that I had passed. 

She was an amazing woman and a fighter to the very end. Pictured above is her with her baby, Maggie, sometime after her first round of chemo I believe. Whenever something unexpected or funny happens, I always think of her. She was a prankster, but she had an AMAZING heart at the same time. And she touched so many lives. I miss her everyday but I know that she is looking down on me smiling. And I know that in her own little ways, she is helping me through.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Life is NEVER boring

Life is never boring in my world. I closed on my new condo a week ago! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to move in yet because it needs a few things done and I've been in the hospital the past two days (blah). But I'm about to be discharged!! Being in the hospital does not fit into my timeline right now. I'm done with chemo and ready to move forward with a happy, healthy life! Not stuck back in the hospital. So hopefully they have figured out what the problem was and I will be better from now on!

Once I'm able to get over to my new condo I will post some pictures! I having the floors replaced and the walls painted before moving anything in. I figured this would make the moving process simpler. But I am absolutely in LOVE with it. I started the house hunting process a while ago, but then I got sick and put things on hold. Originally, I wanted a more expensive, free-standing home. But after the C word, I had to sort of reevaluate what it was I needed at this time in my life. And as proof that God provides, this adorable condo in a good part of town and in my price range just appeared! Like any new home owner I'm sure, I have all of these big plans for it that I'm sure I will never get to! But I do really love it and I can't wait to move in. It's absolutely perfect for this single gal (who probably wouldn't have done any yard work in the long run). I'm really sad to be leaving grandma and grandpa but I think I'm at the point in my life where I need to be moving forward. I will miss not having to do dishes and grandpa heating up my car in the mornings though :( But they are only just across town so I think I can handle that.

Monday, February 11, 2013

the strongest woman I know

My mother passed away from breast cancer two years ago this Friday. She was diagnosed at the age of 39 and battled for 4 and a half years before passing at the age of 43. Her cancer was very aggressive and came back somewhere different in the body about every six months. Our cancers were very different, however. There is absolutely no history of cancer in my family prior to my mom. Above is a picture of my mom, myself, and my little brother at Disney world. She was one of the strongest women I know and I can only hope to make as much of a positive impact on people as she did.

At my brother's high school graduation in May of 2010. One of mom's goals was to live long enough to see Hunter graduate high school. She was so proud that day.

My Survival Story

I was diagnosed with Stage IIA Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma on September 17, 2012 at the age of 24. I was HER2 -, ER 1% +, and PR 30% + for you medical folk.  On October 9, 2012 I had a skin sparring bilateral mastectomy with tissue expanders. They did a sentinel node biopsy and 0/3 nodes had cancer. In November I started chemotherapy. I had four treatments of cytoxan/taxotere and finished on January 17, 2013. No radiation was necessary. I just began the hormonal therapy (Tamoxifen) and will take it for five years.

I was out and about running errands with my friend Lindsey on Thursday, September 6. She was getting married that Saturday and I was her Maid of Honor. We had just met her mom at a hair salon to pick up something and were walking out of the door when I felt it. For no apparent reason I just happened to run my hand across my chest and noticed a lump on the top part of my right breast. Given my family history with breast cancer, I immediately got a little panicky. I asked Lindsey to feel it too and she suggested we drive over to my GYN's office and see what they say. The drive would usually take less than five minutes but there was some road work being done and it ended up taking about twenty. I will never forget that car ride. It was one of the longest in my life. We arrived at the office to learn that the doctor had just left for the day. So I made an appointment for the following Monday.

I stayed busy that weekend with the wedding but the thought of that lump was always in the back of my mind and I would occasionally notice myself inadvertently feeling for it. I only told a few friends and my grandmother and aunt about the lump. Most of them assured me that it was "probably nothing" and that it was "all in my head." But I had a sinking feeling about it.

I went for my appointment on Monday and the GYN said it felt like normal fibrocystic changes to her but that I should get an ultrasound just to be sure. So, I went for an ultrasound that Thursday. This is when I began to really feel that something was wrong. The technician did the ultrasound as normal and then went to let the radiologist make sure everything looked ok. Then they decided to do a mammogram of both breasts. (As a side note, at the young age of 24, I had never had a mammogram before and didn't know what to expect but let me just tell you now that they suck.) After that (and more waiting) the radiologist came in and said he was concerned because there were microcalcifications around the lump and if it was ok that he would like to do a biopsy today.

It was all I could do to hold it together. I had been prepared for a simple ultrasound, not all of this. I called my grandmother and aunt to let them know and to get a little reassurance. Anyways, they did the ultrasound and told me they would call me in a few days with the results. TALK ABOUT THE LONGEST WEEKEND OF MY LIFE! I just so happen to work in the hospital where this is all taking place. And we are given access to our own medical records. I had been checking my records nonstop for the results when they finally appeared on Sunday while I was at work. I scrolled down and there were the words. Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma. I got a little teary eyed for about two seconds and then pulled it together and asked to leave a little early so I could go home and talk to my family and friends.

The next day the radiologist called me with the results. I'm actually glad I knew beforehand because results like that are hard to hear over the phone and I preferred to have dealt with my emotions at home and in private instead of over the phone with some random doctor. The next few days were filled with doctors appointments and decisions.

As of right now I guess I am considered cancer free. I am very weary of saying that because the truth is you never really know if it's all gone. You hope the surgeons got it all in the surgery and the chemo and hormonal therapy was just an insurance policy but you just can't be 100% positive. After all, it only takes one cancer cell to still be floating around to cause a recurrence. That is one of the most frustrating things about this whole experience. I constantly have people ask me, "Do they think they got it all?" And I always say, "Well they hope so!" You just can never be sure. And no test has been invented yet to detect the presence of just one cancer cell in the body. But I believe in the power of positive thinking! So I am choosing to be considered cancer free and so I shall be!

Save the TaTa's!

The main reason I have had so many requests for a blog is the fact that I have breast cancer. Actually scratch that, I HAD breast cancer.  I finished chemotherapy three weeks ago! And boy am I glad to be done with that! But back to my point. People want to know about my fight. Now, as a disclaimer, I have never been one to talk about personal matters to people apart from my closest friends and family members. Even then, I rarely get emotional. I simply prefer to keep my feelings private for the most part. With that said, fighting breast cancer has been one of the MOST emotional journeys of my life. And I am a little reluctant to share my story INCLUDING how I made it through this emotionally. But as many people have reminded me, my journey can inspire others, which is why I started this blog. So bear with me. Maybe someone, somewhere, who is in a similar circumstance as me will come across this blog and gain insight and strength from hearing about my battle. HERE'S TO SAVING THE TATA'S!

This picture is me with some coworkers about a week after I was diagnosed at a THINK PINK walk hosted by the Cancer Center at my hospital. I have AMAZING friends!