Waiting for Savasana


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Finally Some Good News!

My bones are clear.  They are cancer free!  I am happy dancing right now.

I am not out of the woods yet as I still have my body  CT scan on Thursday.  So really, it’s one down and one to go.

But just for today, I will revel in the happy news that my bones are healthy.


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Update

I got up and went for the first part, an injection.  It was simple.  I did not cry or shake.  My friend Laura drove me there and I just chattered away to her.

My family members made comments in my last post about my dad and it was really helpful.  My dad battled renal cancer for twenty years. And he did it with smiles and jokes and a tough bravery that was remarkable.  At one point, my brother had called me and told me this was it, Dad wasn’t going to make it through the weekend, the only thing keeping him here were the blood transfusions he was receiving.  My dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye but I know for my part, I always, always loved him. The disagreements are all surface stuff.  I loved my dad regardless.  I hope he loved me.  But I digress… So I called my dad the minute I hung up with my brother and told him I was coming to see him.  The whole plane trip I was sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t believe this was it.

My brother picked me up and drove me straight to the hospital from the airport.  I was nervous walking into his room but I didn’t need to be.  He was standing up! And when he saw me, he smiled and did this little dance I can only describe as a jig.  I was astounded.  But that’s my dad.  He knew how to rally.

He lived for several more months and he fought that creepy cancer to the very end.  He did not “go gentle into that good night”.  And I don’t want to either.

I have to keep raging.

I have to remind myself to have courage.  I have to be strong.

The die has been cast.  I mean, nothing is changing at this point  If the cancer has spread, there is nothing to do but fight it.  If the cancer is there, the scan will find it.  It’s already done. If it’s there, it’s there. There is no turning back and burying my head in the sand isn’t going to get me anywhere.

The only way to go is forward.

My scan is in an hour and a half.

This is crazy.


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I Wouldn’t Wish This on Anyone

This is the most terrible thing that has ever happened to me.

For the past month I have felt the biggest combinations of terror, hope, anger, sadness, disappointment, love, care, and rage.

I have a bone scan tomorrow.  I have a bone scan tomorrow.  I have a freaking bone scan tomorrow.

And then I have a body scan on Thursday.

And I am afraid of what they are going to find.

There is a chance they may find nothing.  Ha!  That would be a laugh.

I feel already like I’m doomed.

People told me that once we had a plan, that I would feel better but now there are new plans, new doubts, new questions because there were just so many lymph nodes involved that it  may be that I am at stage 4 and if I am there, everything is only treatable. Nothing is curable if I’m stage 4.

And it is only treatable for so long.  And then it’s over.

It may take years but this thing, if it’s stage 4, then it essentially over.  Put a fork in me.

If I’m stage 4, I don’t get chemo because what’s the point?

I get hormone therapy and hope it works for as long as it works.

But if I’m stage 3 I get chemo and the works because there is a glimmer of a chance that we can beat this and it won’t come back.

And I won’t know anything until I have my bones scanned and my body scanned and I am terrified to the point where I can barely breathe.

I don’t have choice about any of this.  All I can do is what they tell me to do.

Tomorrow, bright and early, I will get up, pull myself out of bed, get dressed, brush my teeth  and get ready to have my bones scanned for cancer.

And I don’t want to.  I really don’t.

I just want to get the chemo and have hope for a full recovery.

The not knowing is torturous.  The not knowing rips through my head.  I don’t know.  Bones?  Liver? Lungs? Brain? Clear?  Unmeasurable?

I want to get off this ride.

I want to believe that I really will be ok again one day. But really will I ever be ok again?

Sometimes, I play games in my head and tell myself that I deserve this.  That this is punishment.  I don’t say why me?  I just take it because it is what it is.   I hate this cancer.  I hate what it has done to me in just a few short weeks.

But I will pull myself out of that bed tomorrow shaking and crying most likely and I will get in the car and go to the place and get the injections and do the wait and I will get in the machine because what else can I do?

My only option left is to search for the truth, even if I don’t like what I find.


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Forgive

Well…that was interesting.

This is going to be a vaguepost.  Please forgive me.

This entire week has been a fiasco and sadly, my children were hurt emotionally.  Fortunately, they both came to us and told us what was going on.  Thank goodness they felt comfortable coming to us and telling us that something was not right.

And we put a stop to it.

And now, it is over.

Am I mad?  Yes, a little but mostly at myself for trusting the wrong person.  Fool me once, and all that.

But I will get over it and they are ok and we will move on.

And I forgive because what else is there to do when it is family?  I forgive.  I encourage my husband and sons to forgive and we all move on.

But people who read this and know me really should know by now that I was fierce as the mama bear before but the mama bear with the big “C”?  Yeah, don’t mess with her not even a little.

I will forgive but when it comes to those two boys, I will not ever back down.  I will always protect them and I will always be on their side.

Now can I tell you how amazing my boys have been?

Sooooo wonderful.  So sweet.  So loving.

Last night at my insistence, my little one came to me for a cuddle.  He was so happy.  He closed his eyes and said, “Mama, I want to hug you so much but I don’t because I don’t want to hurt you.”

Anyone who knows my fierce, passionate little boy knows that this is a huge deal for him.  Restraint.  Wow.  That’s big.

Sometimes, he just walks by me and hugs my head.

And my eldest, oh can I tell you about my eldest?  He is just a remarkable kid.  He stops by for visits.  He  checks on me and he is trying so hard to help out and be strong.  We talk about stuff and he says he feels sad but he tries to keep himself preoccupied doing other stuff.  He’s been keeping me in the know about Minecraft (something I really care to know nothing about but it makes him happy so it makes me happy)  I think that is very wise for him to stay preoccupied.  I am going to try to follow his lead myself.  It is very easy to get caught up in this poopy situation.

Regardless, this cancer stuff makes you grow up.

My friend Natalie recommended a book called “When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children”.  I devoured it.  The book is all about being honest with your kids without scaring the crap out of them or making them feel bad for having feelings.

I love my boys so much.  My one wish is that they can come out of all of this better people, regardless of the outcome.  Really, all I want is for them to be on solid ground.

So one big lesson I learned this week is surround yourself with people who are not crazy and if you make the mistake of doing just that, forgive.  Forgive yourself for allowing crazy and forgive the crazy person because, well, maybe they just can’t help themselves.

I spent a big portion of my teens and twenties acting like a crazy person.  I can honestly tell you it was because I didn’t know any other way to act.   It took a lot of work and yoga and antidepressants and therapy and resolving of issues to be the adorable person I am today. I know what it’s like to be crazy and not know better.  I know what it’s like to do something stupid you can’t take back.

So I forgive.  Even if the person can’t ever forgive me.  I forgive and we move on.

Thanks for following us on this crazy journey.

Haircut

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Haircut

I got a haircut because it was too difficult to brush it myself and forget about a ponytail. My arms hurt post mastectomy. I looked in the monitor camera thingie and thought, gosh I’ve aged. So I made this face to stretch the wrinkles. And my boys photobombed me.
I will loose my hair very soon but that’s no reason to look like a mess before then.
The hair cut wore me out. I took a two hour nap afterwards and had dreams of cockroaches and bedbugs. All I was trying to do was look for a place to rest but all I found was stink and bedbugs and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I gotta get off these pain meds.

Today has been ok.  I met with my friend Sugar who has been to Hell and back and she gave me hope and good advice.  And she bought me lunch and cupcakes.

And life goes on.  I helped with homework and science fair projects.  We ate dinner.

I’m stressed about the body scans.  I mean I already jumped from suspected stage 1 to stage 3.  Stage 4 may be around the corner…or it may not.  We won’t know until we know and the only way to know is to take invasive tests.  Hooray!

That’s why I’m making this funny face as I sport my super fashionable mastectomy post-op camisole under my baggie hoodie.

This is my life, gotta make a stupid face because I can not fall apart.


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Rough

That was not easy.  That surgery.  Not easy at all.

First we went to nuclear medicine where this guy put 4 injections of radioactive stuff into my nipple.  Yes you read that right. 4. Injections. Radioactive.

It actually was not as bad as it sounds.

The preliminary sucked.  The tech told me it would hurt and I could hold his hand but not my husband’s hand.

The guy wouldn’t tell me on a scale of 1-10 how bad it would hurt because he “didn’t want to scare me”.

Whatever, the shots barely registered.  I’d give it a 1.  Nothing.

Then they took some pictures.  More images of my boobs whoopie!

Then we went to the hospital and waited.  It wasn’t so bad.  The Husband and I both played Candy Crush Saga.  I’m stuck on level 51 or something.  Who cares.

The nurses came in and talked to me.  The surgeon came in and talked to me.  The anesthesiologist came and talked to me.  She told me they would have me walk down to the O.R. and then I would get on the table and they would hook up the i.v.’s.

And then I told her that I had some PTSD from my younger son’s emergency c-section years earlier…the one where he almost died.  I started to cry and shake and said I thought I would be too scared to walk into the O.R room.  She and my husband promptly agreed with me and they brought me a gurney.  I laid down there and she worked her magic.  My husband wiped tears away until they gave me some calming medicine and then I was ok.  They wheeled me to the O.R.  They moved me to the table.  I kept my eyes closed.  I felt something pinch in my hand, they put a mask on my face and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery.

“Are my lymph nodes clear?”  I asked before my eyes were opened.

And someone said, “I’m sorry, they’re not clear.”

And I was bummed but too out of it to cry.

Someone in the distance remarked that I was beautiful.  Or maybe I imagined that.

I was wide awake when I got back to my room and feeling no pain.  I grilled my husband on what the doctors told him and unfortunately, it seemed they didn’t tell him much.

I buzzed my nurse who seemed surprised when I asked her to call my surgeon.

Words can not describe how fired up, red hot, pissed off I was.

She called me back.

They took a lot of lymph nodes.  A lot of them.  They were going to need to be biopsied,  fat would be melted, nodes counted.  At least the first three were positive for cancer.  Probably more.

I got off the phone with her.  My husband and I cried.  We called our parents.

I can’t really remember what happened after that.  The adrenaline wore off and things started to hurt.

Eventually the pain from the surgery set in but it took awhile.  Plus I had an i.v. morphine drip that first night.  I highly recommend.

I went home Friday afternoon.  I’ve been recuperating ever since.  It’s not so bad but it’s not great either.

I took a shower.  i looked down.  I didn’t really flinch.  It’s not so bad.  I look like an alien but I don’t really mind.  Cancer’s gone.

But the pathology came back and let me tell you, there are a heck of a lot of cancerous lymph nodes and a few clear ones.  She cleaned me out but the pathology report is freakin’ scary.

Because now we are talking Stage 3 and aggressive treatment and full body scans and bone scans and yes, when I think about it, it scares the shit out of me.

So I try not to think about it too much or for too long because I’ve still got to beat this thing.

I don’t care if I spend the next year feeling like roadkill (and believe me, I fully plan to), I have got to beat this.

Have you met my husband?  Have you seen my children?  Have you seen the way we all look at each other?   Do you know what I would do for them?  I can not lose my boys.  I can’t.  We need each other.  That’s all there is.

Plus there’s the dog.  The stupid dog.  “If that dog outlives me, I am going to be so pissed.” I said to my husband  for the hundredth time as we left for the hospital on Thursday.

There is no way that dog is outliving me.*

*In case you are worried, we have no plans to kill the dog.


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Cancer makes me cry

The surgery went well but the outcome wasn’t what we wanted. They found cancer in her nodes and now it looks like she’ll need radiation too. So we are angry and sad and worried. But like Beth said after processing all of it for a few hours –she’s to cute to die.

If anger could cure it the cancer would have spontaneously combusted last night. But now we are being positive and we are rallying for the long haul and all of your love and support means so much.


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This Is It

Here I am.  The night before surgery.  It is quite surreal.

Clear lymph nodes.  Clear lymph nodes.  Clear lymph nodes.

We saw the plastic surgeon this morning.  He wrote all over my chest with a marker.   Guidelines for surgery.  Mortifying.

But it made me wonder about the scrubby soap that the hospital sent me in the mail.  I’m supposed to scrub myself in the morning and keep the soap out of my eyes and ears to avoid damage.  DAMAGE?  What the heck kind of soap is this?

The plastic surgeon told me just to dab with the scrubby soap.  This, in my opinion, defeats the scrubby purpose of scrubby soap but I guess the guidelines he wrote on me trump a good scrub.

I have been feisty today.  I am acting the same way I behave the day before I run a marathon.  Kind of moody. Kind of crabby.  Kind of snarky.  Not much fun but I’m still kind of funny.

Tomorrow begins in the nuclear medicine department.  Shots of radioactivity in my boobs.  I can’t wait.

Then we head to the hospital.  Check in and then surgery.

I’m scared but I’m ready to start the  cancer marathon.  I am prepared.  I have supplies.  I’m good.  I hope.

I hope they give me some really good drugs.  I deserve some really good drugs.

When I was first diagnosed, I knew I wanted to be open about my cancer experience however I didn’t expect the outpouring of love and kindness from everyone.  It has been such a blessing.

My dad battled cancer for twenty years before he passed away in 2011.  He was very private about his battle.  He didn’t want people to know he was sick.  Even toward the end.  I tried my best to respect that and I know that the approach was what my dad needed.  He was a very strong man.

I also knew that keeping my cancer a secret would have probably made me feel even sicker.  I just let everything out there all the time and I can’t see why this cancer thing  should be any different.

And also, I am terrified. I am not the biggest social butterfly.  Honestly, people exhaust me.  But I’ve realized that while I spend some of my best nights at home in my p.j’s with a good book, I do need people.  I need support.  I can not tell you how much the support of my friends and family has meant to me.  Truly, it means the world.  I believe in love.  I believe in giving people positive thoughts and good vibes even when it’s the only thing I can give to them.  And here, at the beginning of my journey, I need every bit of positivity.  I need you.

And you need each other.  It shouldn’t take a cancer diagnosis to reach out to someone in need.  We all have stuff we go through and it’s important we try to be there for each other.  Kumbahya and all that.  But it’s true!  It’s so true.  We need each other.

Reaching out can be so simple.  Some people have sent me cards in the mail.  It lights up my day.  Cards are such a wonderful way to let people know how we feel about them.  When was the last time you sent a card to someone you love?  I admit, this is something I myself am not good at but from now on, I am going to make a bigger effort to send as many cards as I can (once I can move my arms again).  Maybe tomorrow you could send a card to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile or someone you miss or someone who is hurting.  It doesn’t have to be me.  Just someone.  Someone you care about.  Someone you need.

Tomorrow really is the first big step.  The needle biopsy, the MRI, the consultations, they were all just the prologue to this journey.  It all begins tomorrow.

I wonder how this will change me.  I hope I can be strong.  I hope this isn’t my last hopeful post.

Tonight I’m signing off with a very cheesy song that has inspired me in the past when I ran marathons to fight cancer.  Now the fight is for my children, my husband, my family, my friends.  This time the fight is for my life.

Wish me luck.


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Ladies, Pick a Good One

This post is an ode to my husband who has thus far stepped up to the challenge of his wife (me) having breast cancer at a fairly young age.

This man has been my rock.  Since my diagnosis, he has sat with me, listened to me, comforted me.  He lets me win most arguments.  He stays with the boys while I go off with friends who are trying to support me with coffee, and wine and lunch.

All he asks in return is that he gets to get a bit of tennis in.

That’s all he asks.

He has been gentle, patient and understanding.  He has also been my cheerleader when I feel down (which, if we are being honest, is necessary but annoying).

Neither of us likes domestic stuff.  Cooking and cleaning and laundry are at the bottom of our list.  But he is mostly making an effort.

When we first began to date many, many years ago, I had that thought flit through my head in the beginning “He’s just too nice.”

Like a dating death sentence, am I right?

But then I really began to look at my life and realized that I could do a lot worse than nice.  In fact, I deserved nice.

And he wasn’t just nice.  He was (is) thoughtful and kind and gentle.  He is strong and brave and extremely loyal.  And ladies, he is also dreamy, hot, handsome.

He’s a good dad to our boys.

He’s a wonderful husband to me: smart as a whip, sharp as a tack, the man is the whole package.

Not every man will get up with the baby in the middle of the night.  Not every man understands that when he is alone with his kids, it’s not babysitting.  And no one needed to explain that to him which is an even bigger bonus.

He is my partner in everything, especially co-parenting and I respect his style because he is very creative.

When our eldest was born, my cousin gave him this little plush cow and when you squeezed it’s tummy, he said “Moo!”  Well, whenever my husband would change the baby’s diaper, I would hear the “Moo!”.  Even at 2 in the morning.

I asked him why  he did this and he said that this was his way of letting the boy know that a diaper change was coming.  Umm…ok. Kind of Pavlovian but ok.  I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t live on a farm.

We still have that cow somewhere and every time I see it, I think of late night diaper changes.

My husband also invented “punishment hugs”.  When one of our children is completely losing it (and this happens quite a bit) or has done something inappropriate or foolish, my husband will say, “I think that deserves a punishment hug.” and then he walks over to the child and gently hugs him.

And people….most of the time…it works.

I work in early childhood education and I never in a million years would have thought of that one.

And now we have found ourselves in a difficult place.  And even though it is essentially happening to me, he has made it abundantly clear that we are in this together.

And yes, we still have arguments (it’s always about cleaning! Ugh!) and no neither one of us is perfect but during this time I realize that my investment in marrying a really nice guy, is paying off.

I am so grateful to have him as my partner.  I honestly don’t know what I would do without him.  I really picked a good man and I am so glad that I realized all those years ago that I deserved to have NICE in my life.

And I still do.