Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Good News and Bald News

First I will give you the good news.  I saw Dr. Shipiro and had my blood drawn and everything looks great.  I'm excited about that.  I had my second round of shots which was not as bad as the first round of shots.  I knew what to expect this time and felt no anxiety/fear before getting it.  I actually spent about 3 hours total at the doctor and most of it was waiting around so I was able to get all of my christmas cards addressed.

Last week I started losing my hair again.  I knew losing my hair was a possibility and very likely to happen.  It was still shocking to see it falling out again and I wasn't handling it very well.  It's not cool to loose your hair once in a year and twice in one year is really not cool.  I'm more accepting of it now.  I am mostly bald on the upper right side of my head.  If I have a hat on you wouldn't be able to tell how much hair I have lost.  I'm glad that it is winter now because it is hard to wear hats when it's hot.  I don't mind so much when it's cold.

I was at the Cleveland Clinic last week and I saw a woman who was completely bald wearing nothing on her head but she had these big hoop earrings and was dressed really cute.  I wanted to say something to her like "You looks so bad ass like you are ready to kick cancer's butt" followed by a fist pump into the air.  I didn't because I know better than anyone that some days you just want to walk into the hospital and not talk to anyone or look at anyone.  You really just want to count the minutes until you are out of there.

Lately I have felt so good.  I have energy and drive to do things with the kids and around the house.  I actually go out shopping instead of waiting until my mom comes so she can run errands.  It feels so good to get back to normal.  I still average about 3 doctor's appointments a week but I just try to take it day by day when it comes to those appointments.  I try not to think too far ahead because it will just make me anxious to think about the rescans and testing.

Tonight I decided to go to the gym and jog/walk on the track.  As I looped around the track pacing myself with a slow and steady jog I decided to just sprint as fast as I could.  It felt so good to use my body again, to feel short of breath,  to feel normal even if it was for one lap.  It also reminded me how much I hate running.  Okay I'll be honest, an old guy was getting ready to pass me and I couldn't let that happen so that's the real reason I decided to sprint.  It still felt really good.

I almost started this blog post with this quote.

Although this has been by far the hardest year of my life I feel grateful for so many things.  I hope that I can move forward continuing to see the good and not the bad.  Early this year I told Dr. Lilly that I wouldn't mind taking Versed (a drug they use to sedate you and also gives you amnesia) so I could forget this whole year.  Dr. Lilly's response was "Think about all of the good things you would have missed."  At the time I thought "Think of all the bad I wouldn't remember."  Dr. Lilly was right.  There has been so much good about this year along with the bad memories.  Most of my year has been filled with love and support from family and friends.  So many people have helped me through the tough times.  I never felt like I was alone fighting cancer and for that I thank God for the people he has placed in my life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Radiation take 2

Well today I finished my last brain radiation treatment. The doctors initially decided on a one day treatment, switched to a three day treatment and finally decided on a five day treatment because of size and location of the tumor. They also hope the longer treatment with less daily radiation dosage would minimize damage to my brain.

This treatment presented a few more challenges as compared to breast radiation. First of all I had to wear this scary mask to hold my head still.

I did not like it. The doctor gave me some Valium to get through the whole ordeal. I didn't complain. Secondly I had to take steroids to avoid brain swelling. It was a weird feeling to have my body go from seriously tired to seriously wired and not being able to rest. I'm normally an excellent napper but I could not get myself to chill! It was frustrating!

At the end of my breast radiation I was so excited to be done. I had dreams of walking out of that building triumphant and leaving the horrible 10 months right behind me. Today I was happy and relieved to be finished but I also feel melancholy and a little resolute about the future. I will have a follow up MRI in December and follow ups every 3 months thereafter. I am also getting shots in my stomach to stop estrogen production every 28 days. So maybe the melancholy feelings are because this is far from over and I'm learning to accept my new normal.

Now I will be positive. I'm reading some great books that are helping my mental state. The first one is anti cancer a new way of life. I think everyone should read this book regardless of a cancer diagnosis. It has a lot of science behind prevention and future prevention of cancer. Basically it says eat well (cut sugar, meats and processed foods) exercise and relax.

The other book I recommend is peace is every step. It's a book written by a monk who teaches how to deal with emotions and change thoughts to the present instead of focusing on the past and the future. He also gives suggestions on breathing exercises for times when you feel fear, anxiety and general negative emotions.

With the help of these books and working to get back into my normal routine I can say that mentally and physically I'm doing better than I was in my last post. My hope is that as time passes I will continue to improve.

So that is where I am now. I was talking to Joe the other night about how awful 2012 has been for me. Joe pointed our that even though things haven't been ideal maybe 2012 has been a total loss. Maybe this is the year I can say I beat cancer.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Taking a huge sigh of relief

It has been 10 days since my surgery.  I have had very minimal pain.  Actually my arm is still very sore where they put in about 6 different IV's.  All of my cognitive function is good.  I had an MRI the day after my surgery to make sure the cancer was gone and the MRI came back clean.  So the surgery went very well.  We are all very grateful for all of the prayers.  Friends from all different faiths fasted and prayed for me.  

On Wednesday I am going to have a cyber knife treatment at OSU.  Cyber knife is basically a very concentrated radiation treatment that will go directly to where the cancer cells were located.  It will be a long day at the hospital.  I have to be there at 6am and I will leave sometime in the afternoon but it is only one treatment and I'm finished.  

I changed oncologists.  I'm now seeing Dr. Shipiro at OSU.  He is one of the nations best breast cancer doctors.  It was good to get his opinions on my continuing treatment.  Joe and I felt very good after leaving his office.  We also feel good to have all of my treatment at OSU since all of the doctors know each other and all of the information can be shared in the same system.  It makes it easier on everyone.

I have been trying my best to put these past few weeks behind me but it is hard.  I have struggled to function.  Sometimes the only thing that made me get out of bed were the kids.  I didn't want them to have a memory of me laying in bed all day even though I really wanted to just watch TV and try to forget everything that has happened to me this year.  I've tried to tell myself that other people have it worse than I do or at least my body is cancer free.  Some days I could not even tell myself that.  I just had to let myself feel bad or sorry for myself.  I have a friend who would tell her kids you get one day to feel bad about what happened and then you pick yourself up and move on.  I wish I could do that.  Someday I will.  Maybe I will when the huge scar on my head heals and my bald spot grows back.  Maybe it will take longer than that.  I don't know.  

One morning I found a sticky note on our bathroom mirror that said, "no matter our circumstances no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it." Dieter Uchtdorf I love you! Joe 

I do know that admid all of the depression there are bright spots and highlights of my days that I wouldn't give up for the world.  I have wondered many times what 2012 would be like if I hadn't been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I do know that cancer has made me see my world differently and changed me in many ways.  I'm not sure that each change has been for the better but it is a part of who I am now.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Post Surgery update Oct 11

This is Kate, Dale/Lynn's friend. The doctor just came out. He said the surgery went really well. The brain had essentially encapsulated the tumor and it came out easily. It did not appear to be anywhere else. The doctor said it could not have gone better. She'll spend at least one night in the ICU to monitor for infection & swelling.
So excited for the wonderful news!!!
Thanks to everyone for the prayers and well wishes!

Surgery day

Right now joe and I are driving into Osu for my neuro surgery. It is a beautiful fall day and if I didn't have to have my brain operated on today. I'm sure I would have taken Jacob to the park or stayed at home with Lauren since she is running a fever. Anything but the first option would be fine with me. Overall I have tried to keep a positive outlook considering this surgery. My doctors have been very positive. We have so many family and friends who are praying for us and we feel comfort in that. It is hard to think where we would be without our super system here in Columbus.
I remembered I last week when joe and I traveled down 315 on our way to meet the neuro oncologist we were both in tears because we were so unsure of what the doctor would tell us about my cancer. Today both of us are much more calm heading into what maybe the most important day to save my life and health for years to come. I never thought I would get this awful disease. I never thought the cancer would have spread to my brain. I never fathomed that cancer would make me a kinder mother, spouse and friend. For those life lessons I am grateful. Joe or Kate will update this blog when my surgery is finished.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One step forward and two steps back

It has been a crazy busy month and I can't believe that I will end treatment in 3 days.  The first 3 to 4 weeks went well.  I kept busy with exercising and doing chores around the house and I'm getting Lauren ready for her baptism.  Last week I started to have trouble sleeping again and I was so exhausted I went to talk to Dr. White about it.  She said that science has no idea why but by the end of radiation cancer patients have no energy reserves left.  She gave me some pills to help me sleep.  They have been a lifesaver  but I started to have these awful headaches that would not go away.  Dr. White decided to order an MRI.  I was feeling pretty confident that things would turn out OK.  Call me the forever optimist!  I guess that is a good quality for a cancer patient.
We had plans for my last day of radiation.  I was going to go with some friends to lunch.  I bought some "Imagine a world without breast cancer" wrist bands off of Amazon.  And I was really hoping that when I walked out of the Radiation Oncology doors, I would never walk back into them.   
So tomorrow is supposed to be a happy day and it just isn't going to turn out that way.  I saw Dr. White  after my treatment and she pulled up her computer and said "I have some findings to show you."  I've been a cancer patient too long to know that you do not want to hear those words from your doctor.  To make a long story short the cancer has metastasised to my brain and I have a mass the size of my eyeball on the right front of
my brain. Dr white set up a meeting with a neuro surgeon ASAP so we left the breast center and went straight to the James. It was scary to walk into that building and up to the neurosurgery floor Doctor McGregor said that I have a very common brain tumor and a very simple surgery is required to remove it. However it is very uncommon for cancer to matisise to the brain and they are about 90 percent sure this will be the same kind of cancer pathology of my breast cancer. To summarise my feelings, Joe and I are in complete shock. I was certain I was putting cancer behind me on Wednesday and this is just another chapter to my story. I feel very nervous about how we are going to make it through this next month or. I realize that we have many superhero friends and family around to take care of my kids and feed us when ever we need them. When I came home from my doctor appointments yesterday our lawn was freshly mowed and we has many new flowers planted in our yard. It felt so good to know others were thinking of us. I picked a surgery date. It will be October 15. People keep asking me how I am feeling. I am in complete shock I swear that the first diagnosis was easier I still had faith that everything is going to be OK now I'm just not sure.

I'm exhausted and each morning when I wake up I tell myself that this is all a bad dream and I realize that it is not a dream at all. I was dealt a bad hand of cards and someday my luck may change or maybe it won't and I will just have to deal with that as it comes. My head hurt so bad last night and I could hear Jacob crying for me because he wanted me to tuck him in. It took all of my strength to get out of my bed and walk into his bed to say goodnight.

Tomorrow I will have a full body scan to see if the cancer is found anywhere else in my body. Dr white says it is highly unlikely but that is what she said about the brain rumor. This is not my year for good luck. I thought it was for awhile but now I see how fragile life is and I'm so glad I put Jacob to bed last night just so the two of us can have that memory and nothing can take that away.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Radiation Day 1

Believe it or not I'm excited to start radiation tomorrow.  Today I went in for a check to make sure I'm lined up correctly with the machine.  The radiation room looks just like the photo except for the fact that  there are tons of computer monitors on the other end of the wall.  It also had a 3 feet (I'm not exaggerating) thick door going into this room which takes forever to open.  The radiation machine was amazing.  It had all sorts of different x-ray arms that came out of it and rotated around my entire body.  Dr. White and a few nurses were in and out of the room calling numbers and adjusting my body on the table.  Speaking of Dr. White I found a youtube clip of her while I was searching for this photo.  Check it out!  
I am happy to report that my hair is growing back.  It felt weird to shampoo it at first.  I kept looking down to see if it was going to fall out.  It didn't.  I also have prominent eyebrows again.  I was feeling more self conscious about my eyebrows than my hair.  I'm so excited and happy that I do not have to wear a hat anymore.  I was getting so sick of hats.
My left arm mobility is doing great.  I met with my physical therapist today and she said that I'm a fast healer.  I'll take that complement any day!  I am able to do all of my favorite activities such as riding my bike and playing tennis.  It feels good to be mobile again.  The radiation could affect my arm mobility so I will still follow up with my PT though out my radiation.
Lauren started school last week and we found out that another mom at Tyler Run has been diagnosed with breast cancer over the summer.  I told Lauren and she immediately said "I can help her."  Lauren gathered all of our kids books on breast cancer and delivered them the next day.  Lauren also found the little girl at recess and they played together.  I was so proud of Lauren for wanting to help others.  She has always been so tenderhearted and it was great to see Lauren act with such compassion.  I'm sure she gets that from Joe!
I talked with this mom for two hours on the phone last week.  Her story was shockingly similar to mine and brought back lots of memories from my life earlier this year.  Well of course that night I couldn't sleep and just like I did earlier this year I climbed in bed with each of my kids and held them while they slept and I prayed.  I got bored with that fairly quickly so I opened up pinterest on my phone and saw this quote.
I'm not sure if this was an answer to my prayer or just an awesome coincidence but either way I'm going to try and stop the worrying.  I know that this cancer out of my control.  I'm doing my best to control my health by exercising and eating well.  I still do feel grateful for many of the circumstances surrounding my cancer.  I feel grateful for the positive people I have had around me this year.  I sure that with time my worrying will become less frequent and manageable.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Interesting Articles



Monday, July 23, 2012

Post Surgery and Pathology Results

Okay I'll tell you my pathology results first since that is the most exciting.  After looking at my breast and lymph nodes the doctors couldn't find any CANCER CELLS!  That means that the chemotherapy knocked out all of the cancer cells or for you medical nerds out there Dr. Lilly called it a complete pathological response.  Joe and I were so happy to get this news.  Actually, Dr. Lilly left a voicemail on my phone and when I heard the news I started to cry.  Joe thought that it was bad news and I couldn't stop crying so I just handed him the phone to listen to the voicemail.  We fell so blessed.  I know that so many other women are not so lucky.

I went to Dublin Methodist for my surgery.  That hospital is so nice.  Big rooms, two tvs, one computer to check e-mail or watch netflix, quiet whenever I wanted it, a bed for Joe to stay with me at night, great nursing and room service 24 hours a day.  Oh and let's not forget all of the great pain medicine every 3 hours.  What else could you want!  I was on the same floor at labor and delivery and they played a nice soft song every time a baby was born.  If I didn't want to hear the music I shut the door.  It was great.

So now I'm home recovering from my mastectomy.  It has been hard at times but I remain very optimistic about my recovery from surgery.  I have been busy doing my physical therapy.  It is not easy but I have seen some results and it encourages me to keep going.

I'm so grateful to all of the people who have helped me.  My mom took a whole week off of work and right now my kids are at my sister's house in Virginia so I can relax and recover.  Other people have sent cards, flowers and food.  Thank you for your support.  I am happy and ready for radiation to begin. 

Monday, July 9, 2012


We just returned from a great vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  It was so fun to sit on the beach and watch the kids play.  We had fun visiting Kitty Hawk and going out to eat.  Joe and I took naps every afternoon while the kids watched TV or played video games.  It was heaven. 

Sadly now I'm back to reality.  I'll have my mastectomy on Friday the 13th.  My cousin Sarah's birthday is on July 13th and she insists that her birthday negates any connotation that Friday the 13th may be a day of bad luck.  I'm hoping she is right.

So this week I am preparing for surgery.  I'm lucky that I have family around to help out with the kids.  They will be well taken care of.  My friend who just had a mastectomy is taking me to Hope's Boutique to shop for a mastectomy bra and prosthesis since I'm not having any reconstruction done until 2013.

I have such mixed feelings about this surgery.  I have wanted to have this surgery since day one.  I want this cancer out of my body.  On the other hand I have felt so much anxiety about having a disfigured body.  I know things can be worse but it's still hard to deal with.  I'm hoping that I will adapt to this new phase of cancer just like I adapted to losing my hair.  It was hard at first but eventually I got used to it. 

Anyway, that is about all of the time I have this week to dedicate to my blog.  These next few days are going to fly by.

Monday, June 25, 2012


At 11:30 on Monday I hopped in this machine to get a chest MRI. I'm happy to report that my tumor is about 1 cubic centimeter. FYI - I started out at roughly 100 cubic centimeters in January. Dr. Grainger said that even if the chemo has completely removed all of the cancer an MRI would show scar tissue where the cancer used to be. He said that it is impossible to tell the difference on an MRI between cancer and scar tissue. It will be interesting to find out at surgery just how much of the 1 centimeter is actually cancer. The MRI did not see any cancer in the lymph nodes. Again, we will have to wait until surgery to find out if these findings are completely accurate. Dr. Grainger said he was very happy with the MRI results and so am I!!! This is a blessing and an answer to prayers. I'm so greatful for your prayers on my behalf.

When I was in the MRI machine I couldn't help but flash back to January when I had my first MRI. I had a few tears as I remembered all of the uncertainty I felt that day. I still feel uncertainty. Now that uncertainity comes with a knowledge that all of this is completely out of my control. Some people might think that this realization might lead me to more anxiety/depression/anger but it doesn't. It helps me to accept my situation for what it is. I know I can't change anything about my cancer. The only thing I can control is myself and to keep fighting.

Do I still have bad days? Of course I do! Don't think for a second that I don't get emotional about what is happening to me. The majority of my days and weeks are filled with the things that I love like my kids, riding my bike, tennis, going out with friends, hanging with Joe and expecially NOT sweating the little things in life. So far that has helped me get though this disease.

We will meet with Dr. Lilly on Thursday to discuss surgery. I have so many mixed feelings on my surgery options. One day I'm convinced to go one direction and another day I decide to choose a differet surgery. I feel like Dr. Lilly will guide me in the decision making process. I hope I am less conflicted when I leave his office. For now I am happy and I will live these next few days enjoying the weather and my family.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Check chemo off the list!!!!!

I am so excited to write this post. When I walked into my first chemo appointment in February it seemed like June 22 was so far away. Now I'm finished and I'm so thrilled to be through this phase of treatment.

Joe and I watched the iron man competition last night. It was so fun watching the winners walk up to the finish line, grab the ribbon and hold it high above their heads with a look of joy and accomplishment on their faces. Call me crazy but I kind of wanted to do that today as I left the infusion room. Maybe I even pictured Christina Aguilera's song Fighter playing in the background.
I cant believe how self sufficient my children have become. Lauren can make breakfast and lunch for herself and Jacob. Both kids fold and put away their own laundry. Jacob does our towels. They are good at cleaning spills and picking up toys. These chores are done without complaint. Lauren has even "babysat" Jacob when I needed to relax. I'm so incredibly proud of them and thankful for there unconditional love they have shown to me.  Even when I had bad days Jacob would say "I like your boy hair mommy."  HA HA!

As I look back at my chemo experience I must say that I will miss the infusion nurses. They are kind, compassionate and fun to get to know. Knowing I would get to see them made it a little easier to walk into the infusion room.  This is a photo with some of my favorites.

I'm so grateful for the people that have been around me this year. I know we wouldn't have survived without help.  This is what greated me when I walked into my house.  And the gifts started to pour in all afternoon including PJ's for the hospital and flowers from friends from out of town.
Somehow Kate  and my friend Shantell managed to be sneaky and get people to sign this card all through my cancer treatment.  She got people from school to sign it, people from church and also people from out of town who came in town to stay with me during treatment.  I was so touched by the messages on this card it brought me to tears.

I will have an MRI on Monday and meet with Dr. Lilly about surgery on Thursday. I'll post MRI results next week.

For the next two weeks I'm going to try to look back and celebrate my accomplishment instead of looking forward to what is ahead.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I was pretty proud that I walked the entire 5K for the race for the cure.  I recently read this blog.  This woman ran the Boston marathon during her radiation treatment.  Talk about awesome!  Even though I think this is pretty cool I will not be running any marathons.  I hate to run!

In other news we have picked a radiation oncologist.  I will go to the Stephanie Speilman Breast Center at OSU.  I will see Dr. White.  She is great and I instantly liked her.  Dr. White suggested five weeks of radiation five days a week.  Radiation will start after my surgery.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ports and People

Last week I had a port put it because my infusions were becoming too painful through my arm.  Now I have a port placed in my left shoulder  For more info on my port click here.   When it comes to medical devices the less info the better.  I have passed out in a few doctor's offices so it's better that I have a broad knowledge of what the device does.  If things get too specific I may not be able to finish this post.     

The surgery went well.  I was semi awake during the surgery but I don't remember much.  I remember feeling a lot of pressure in my shoulder and hearing the doctor and nurses talking.  I remember very little about the rest of my day.  My friend took me home from the hospital and I vaguely remember driving home in her car.  Next thing I know Joe was home from work and I realized I had been sleeping/answering phone calls all afternoon.  I cannot remember what I said or did.  It was kind of scary and funny all at the same time.        
So many people have come to help me through these infusions.  My friend Audrey came from Texas to spend a few days with us and take care of us while I was recovering from chemo and surgery.  I have felt so lucky to have family and friends come and help us though these last few months.  I don't know what I would do without them.
This was in Lauren's backpack this week.  I have wondered how my cancer would impact my kids.  Jacob seems totally unaffected.  As long as he can pretend he is batman and beat up bad guys he is happy.  Lauren surprised me with this little drawing.  I heard her talking to a neighbor a few days ago.

Friend "Why doesn't your mom have hair?"
Lauren "She has breast cancer."
Friend "Is she going to be okay?"
Lauren "Yes she is going to be okay.  She is already feeling great."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Taxol week 3

Lots of family and friends have asked me to post photos of my wig or bald head.  My sister took this iphone shot when we went out one night.  I get complements on my wig all of the time.  I like it.  I can see that it will be very annoying to wear during the summer.  It can be itchy and hot.  For now, it works for me.  Most of the time I wear a hat.  Hats are comfortable but I notice people stare at me with a hat on.  I kind of wish I had the courage to just go out into public bald.  I walk around my house all of the time bald but if someone comes to the door I throw a hat on.  As for my bald head photos, I'm working on it.  I've had a few ideas for some artsy photographs.  I doubt I will post them to this blog.  I have been so busy working on other photo jobs/chemo/daily life and I haven't found time to take them.  

Other people have asked me how Taxol (2nd chemo drug) is going.  My answer to them is GREAT.  For the most part I have been side effect free.  Honestly the infusion is the hardest part.  Usually during the infusion the different medicine stings as it is administered.  We are going to take some steps this week to avoid this.  After my infusion I have been exhausted.  I go home get some rest and have been able to go about my normal activities.  I do tire easily.  If I don't get a nap I am ready for bed at 8.  Since Taxol is cumulative I will be more tired as the weeks go by.  I will take Taxol any day over that awful A/C.

Since I have started Taxol and had confirmation that my tumor was shrinking I have been so happy.  I'm going to steal a quote from my friend.  "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present."  On days that I am feeling good I have tired to live life appreciating the present.  I have been elated to take a walk outside, wrestle with my kids, go out with friends or actually talk to Joe instead of sitting next to him on the couch while we channel surf.

While going through the A/C I would cry at least once a day.  Usually in the shower or if I was driving in my car by myself.  I can see that my old optimistic personality is coming back.  I'm happier and I am ready to get this cancer treatment over with.  Now the hardest day of the week for me is my Friday infusion day.  I know that the doctor will never tell me that I'm cured of breast cancer.  I do know that once treatment is over with I stand a good chance of the cancer never returning.  

At church we had a lesson on charity.  Most of the lesson focused on how we can become charitable through service, forgiveness and correcting our overall attitude toward others when they offend us.  

Right now I have a completely different vision of what charity means to me.  I have seen so many people go out of there way to help our family.  As I watch others be charitable it makes me want to be like them.  I'll fully admit it.  Sometimes I wouldn't do things for people because I thought they could help themselves or that they brought problems on themselves by making bad decisions.  Now, I realize that becoming more charitable will only benefit me in the long run.  I have been looking for small ways I can help others.  So far, I have listened to a few people tell me there problems and tried to help them.  The old me would have probably cut them off and done nothing about it.  When you have cancer it is very easy to be selfish.  My hope is that I can branch out and help others while continuing my treatment.

Join My Team!

Here is the link (below) to register for race for the cure. You have to click "register"and then "join an existing team". You will then be able to search for the team by typing "Lynnsanity", the team should come up and then you click "join"and proceed through the registration.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ultrasound Results

So a friend told me that when she is going to have an important day she looks at herself in the mirror and says "You are a bad ass!" just to pump herself up to do well at her job and whatnot. In preparation for today's scan I tried to use her pump up method. I'm not sure if it took all of my anxiety away but it did make me smile.

I went for an ultrasound to look and see if the tumor and lymph nodes had changed. I'm excited to report that the tumor has shrunk by 75% and they didn't see any cancer in my lymph nodes. I had about 3 lymph nodes infected two months ago.

I have been on cloud nine all day after hearing this news. Two months of this awful chemo drug has done its job and soon I'll live cancer free. YAHOO!!!!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bye Bye A/C! I will not miss you.

It has been a difficult past two weeks. I finished my last A/C treatment. This was phase one of two chemo phases I will go though. My last treatment left me very tired and so sick to my stomach for a week. I was hopeful that I would be back to normal in three to four days like the last treatments. In retrospect I probably shouldn't have given myself a timetable to recover by. By day 3 and 4 I was feeling worse compared to days 1 and 2. When I didn't get better I mentally began to feel upset about what was happening to me.

Now that I am feeling physically better my mental state has improved. This weekend our church had general conference. Click here for more info. I noticed that a few of the talks mentioned people with cancer or just people that were sick in some way. I found one of the talks to be very relevant to my current situation. Here is a quote from the talk.

"Though many people face trials, adversities, disabilities, heartaches, and all manner of afflictions, a loving Savior will always be there, said Rasband. “He has promised: ‘I will not leave you comfortless: I will come unto you’ (John 14:18) ‘… My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’” (John 14:27)."

A friend of mine that had breast cancer told me that the word afraid is used more than 200 times in the bible. Fear is one emotion I have felt in the past two months. My friend said "Take hour by hour, day by day.. but, "do not be afraid"... I just wanted to pass those words onto you. I know things get tough, especially the kind of past few days you just had! But, you will come through it. I would say, God is trying to pass along a message to us with those words!" I really try to live by this advice. When I do my days go better.

Don't get me wrong though. I have had some bright spots in the past few weeks. I had a whole day to myself. No kids and no husband just me!!!! We have had fun with our kids. We even took a road trip with friends a few weeks ago during spring break. Right now, I live for these moments. Nothing is more important to me than the people around me. Having the people I love around me is what is keeping me going though this.

My friend is setting up a team for the race for the cure. I spent some time looking at the komen website today. I think this website is an excellent resource for breast health. When I was first diagnosed I looked at the breast cancer page off of cancer.org. It left me very confused and I couldn't find any concrete info for my specific kind of cancer. This site has LOADS of info. A few little facts for you:

-There are 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the US today.
-When breast cancer is found early the 5 year survival rate is 98%!
-Five percent of all breast cancers occur in women under age 40.

I also visited the shop komen page. I love this t-shirt!
I know I have talked about how awesome Joe has been during these past few months. He is more excited about the race for the cure than I am. He has been so positive though everything. Even when I am at my worst he has been my cheerleader. On a hard day when I was so sick he sat by me and worked on his laptop. I asked him "How can you love me when I'm like this?" He answered "I don't know how to not love you." Is this guy for real?

My friends have been so supportive. I get really emotional on infusion days. Before my infusion I started to cry. My friend Kate took my hand and said "You can do this." It was all I needed to stop crying and get it done. Other friends have watched my kids, brought me food, sent me texts (joe had to get me a new plan) e-mails and phone calls. I have felt so supported.

Tomorrow morning I will have an ultrasound to look at the tumor and see if it has changed. I'm hopeful that I will get good news. I know so many people who are sending positive thoughts and prayers my way. I'm grateful for that.

Monday, March 5, 2012

moving forward

It's been a good week off. I have stuck pretty close around the house this week. Mostly we played with friends, ate great food and enjoyed this wonderful weather we are having this winter.

On Monday night a friend came over and shaved my head. It was falling out like crazy and I was ready to let it go. The kids didn't even care. I had told them about losing my hair. When it was shaved they glanced at me and continued to play. I asked Joe and impossible question, "Would you rather me be bald or 9 months pregnant?" Joe answered "bald." Good answer Joe! Of course, Joe said I look beautiful with no hair. I know he was lying and that is fine by me. He knows how much I hate to look in the mirror. I brush my teeth with my back to the sink. I feel like the phantom of the opera. I want to break every mirror in my house. The morning after my head was shaved the kids went off to school and I went to check my e-mail. I found a note from Joe telling me how beautiful I am.

Can I just say right now that Joe is as close to perfect as it gets. Sometimes I feel mad that he has to go though this awful time with me. He has been though so much in his life. I hate watching him carry the burden to work and come home to more work. He has handled it beautifully.

I have come to the conclusion that I'm not upset about losing my hair. I'm upset that now I look sick. Now everyone knows that I'm not well. I hate that. Acquaintances now do a double take when they see me and ask if everything is alright. I hate having to explain to them that I have cancer. It would be nice for my hair to return just so I could avoid that conversation.

On the other hand my bald head has been sort of a support base. I have had many people come up to me in the store or at a park and say, "I'm 5 years cancer free from stage 4 throat cancer. You will be fine." I feel some connection with with these people I have never met. We are all fighting against the same thing.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

a little black rain cloud

I'm sure if you looked up our address on weather.com you would have looked at the doppler radar and seen this cloud. This cloud hovered over our house from 3am Thursday morning and finally blew away Sunday morning.

3am Thursday morning Lauren threw up. I was scheduled for my next chemo Thursday at 9:50. My mom came to help take care of the family. She woke up having an asthma attack. Joe stayed home from work and my mom took a trip to urgent care. Over the next two days, Joe caught Lauren's sickness and so did Jacob.

My second chemo treatment went better than I had expected. I was feeling very nervous on Wednesday. I had myself convinced the doctor's couldn't do anything for my nausea. Dr. Granger mixed me a new cocktail of meds and they worked great. I slept a lot. In my opinion that's not a bad thing.

My hair is falling out like crazy. It may be shaved tonight or tomorrow. Honestly I don't think I have the mental capacity to shave it tonight. I want to be like this woman who shaved her head and showed it off like a badge of courage. I think I might be getting there but not today.

My friend sent me these photos from her wedding today. This was a happy day. I remember feeling such joy for my friend. I sat at the table with friends and family telling stories, making jokes and certainly claimed the honor of the loudest table at the restaurant. I'll be honest when I saw that photo I wanted to go back to that day. I thought I was healthy that day.

Now my perspective has changed. Last chemo treatment I had 4 bad days and 11 great days. This week I had 3 bad days and I'll have 10 great days. I am seriously cherishing every great day. I cleaned my house the day before chemo feeling empowered with energy, I spent time with friends, I counted how many times my kids said "I love you mom."

I love how my religion has given me perspective on a larger scale. I know that this life is a test. I know that this life is probationary. I existed before this life and if I make correct choices I will continue to live with my family in the next life. I know that God has put me on this earth to learn. Every experience we have in this life can teach us and mold our character. My hope is that I can come out of this trial a better person than I started.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My week off

Lots of things have happened this week. I wanted to write them down so I don't forget. Overall, my health has been good this week. I still had some chemo related sickness on Monday and Tuesday but they were minor issues.

Today I feel excellent. Joe has been reading about the benefits of exercise and yoga during chemo. Reputable universities have done studies of chemo patients doing yoga. Studies show yoga is good for the mind and for the body. This morning I spent about 30 minutes on the treadmill and took an hour yoga class. I walked out of the gym feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.

I met with a genetic counselor. I will be tested to see if I have the breast cancer gene. It was a sobering meeting. I am scared about what this cancer might mean for Lauren. Regardless of the genetic testing outcome she will have to get her first mammogram when she is 20. It is good that she will be closely monitored. I am hopeful that when Lauren is 20 medical technology will give her more options for her body. I have read about a possibility for a breast cancer vaccine or other treatment options instead of chemo. I hope that Lauren never has to deal with cancer.

Speaking of the kids, we have been talking to them about my illness. I ordered a few excellent books off of Amazon.

The first book is easy to read. I caught Lauren reading it to herself. Both of these books put a positive spin on a parent with cancer.

Kate and I visited Hope's Boutique to shop for a wig and some headwear. Overall I was not very happy to be there. I'm not excited at all to loose my hair. I did have fun trying on wigs. I think I look pretty good as a blond (see photo below). When my real hair grows back I might consider dying it.

I have received so many encouraging texts and e-mails. Thank you so much for all of your love and support.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

this will be a perfect match

I am a big tennis fan. I love to play tennis and follow the professional game. I took this photo two years ago. Joe and I went down to Cincinnati to see Federer play. It was a thrill to see a professional match in person.

Now that I am through my first chemo treatment I'm decided to score this match. Me vs. cancer. Of course, cancer isn't going to get a point. I'll take the first 15 and cancer is stuck with love.

Right now it seems like it is going to take forever to beat cancer. I often feel overwhelmed at what is ahead this year. I am not a patient person but I can be patient if that means that I will live.

Chemo made me very tired and sick to my stomach. I have been under a delusion that this treatment might be easier than expected. I didn't realize that we are going to need some more help to get through these next few months. I feel so grateful to everyone who has helped us so far. I know that people are praying for our family. That means a lot to me. Keep the prayers coming. We are going to need them.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

1st Day of Chemo

Day one is behind me! The treatment wasn't so bad. Joe sat with me and worked on his computer. I sat and played on my kindle and talked with a few people on the phone.

We came home and had a big lunch. I was exhausted so I went upstairs to take a nap. When I woke up my stomach was so upset. It was so upset I could not move or I knew I would vomit. I was that sick when I had kids so I kind of know the drill. Joe gave me some zofran (anti-nausea pill) and I waited for it to take effect. I felt a little better as the night went on but I was still not wanting to get off the couch. I called the doctor. He suggested that I take decadron (a steroid). This pill helped me to feel a bit more human. I went to bed at about 8 and now I'm up at 6 am.

My stomach doesn't feel too bad right now so I'm going to start eating and drinking slowly. That's another thing I learned from my pregnancy days. Eat small meals. Anyway, I have to go back to the Dr. today to get a white blood cell booster shot. My sister Katie is going to stay with me and Joe is back to work. Wish me luck today!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Let's Get Started!

If today was a typical Wednesday I would be sleeping right now. On Wednesdays I usually exercise, volunteer at the school, take Jacob to speech, take Lauren to ballet and end the day watch TV. Unfortunately today is not a typical Wednesday.

Today I will start Chemotherapy with Dr. Granger. We met with Dr. Shipiro at OSU yesterday. He was wonderful and the facility was beautiful. Dr. Granger seemed more personable and his office seemed to meet my needs. I'm sure I've made the right decision. Joe and I prayed about it last night and we both felt good about this decision. Right now I am ready to start this treatment. I know things will be hard. I know these first four treatments are going to make me sick. I'm ready to start because I'm ready to get this over with.

Over the last week I have talked with many breast cancer survivors. As I sit and listen to the stories I have felt so much compassion for these women. These women were faced with trials of infertility, marital issues, no support from friends or family and financial hardship. I couldn't help but feel grateful for my circumstances surrounding my breast cancer. I have two beautiful children. I have felt such an outpouring of love from family and friends. Joe and I have had a great marriage.

Before I had cancer I read a blog about a mom who had a baby sick with liver disease. I read this post about 5 times last summer. I even made Joe read it. I remember thinking to myself, I need to be more appreciative of what I have. I need to spend quality time with my kids.

This blog post reminded me of what should be important in life. Now more than ever I see the writer's point of view. I have a bucket list a mile long of important things I'm going to do when this is over. Nothing on that bucket list consists of material goods. Actually I do not want anything that costs money. My sister told me that Joe should buy something nice for me since I have cancer. I do not want diamonds, a new car or purse. I only want to be healthy. OK that's not entirely true. I wouldn't mind a Canon 5D.

Anyway, I have changed already. I put both of my kids to bed (Joe and I used to divide and conquor). I hug my kids until they stop hugging me. I tell Joe I love him before we go to bed. I now tell my parents I love them every time I talk to them on the phone. I'm content sitting with Jacob on the couch watching his stupid TV shows. I am patient with Lauren while I help her with her homework. I am content to stay at home and cook dinner.

I know that God has put us on this earth to learn and to grow. Do I think God gave me cancer? NO! There is a really good article that I read yesterday about a young man with cancer. You can find it here. Here is a great quote from the cancer survivor Daniel Hedlund "’I'm looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for me. . . . What lessons He’ll teach me. How He’ll stretch me and school me. And most of all, what He will turn me into. Where I see myself going and who I see myself becoming are very different from where God sees me going and who He sees me becoming. But each step of the way, I can see that where He has taken me is a much better place than I ever thought of for myself."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hello Dr. Granger

As we moved closer and closer to my appointment on Friday my mind was racing. My most recent doctor's appointments have been filled with bad news. I could feel the anxiety coming back. My dad came Thursday night. It was nice to have him with us. He gave me a blessing. If you want more information on LDS blessings click here.I felt like I needed a blessing to help me make a good treatment decision. My blessing was wonderful and I felt that it helped me to be calm and listen to the doctor.

Friday morning we (Joe, my dad and Kate) met with Dr. Granger from Columbus Oncology. These Doctor's are associated with Riverside hospital and Dr. Lilly. I LOVE Dr. Lilly!

Dr. Granger was wonderful too. He spoke with us for two hours. He answered every question as throughly has possible. After our discussion he took us on a tour of his office. He introduced us to a few nurses and showed us a mural that Vern from HGTV painted.

One nice thing about his office is that it is a one stop shop. If I am sick they can treat me right in the office and I do not have to go to the hospital. If I do have to be admitted to the hospital I will probably have to go to Riverside since they have an oncology wing.

Here are some of the notes from the meeting

First cycle: 2 drugs at once:-Adriamycin & Cytoxan (called “AC”). This is given every 2 weeks for a total of
4 doses or 8 weeks.
2 weeks after 4th dose (week 8): switch to another chemo drug-Taxol
Taxol given every week for 12 weeks. Total chemo: 20 weeks

Philosophy on cancer:
Be aggressive
Be optimistic
Be honest

Other reasons to sick with Columbus Oncology are:
1. His office is close to our house. When I'm on Taxol I will have to go to the office twice a week for 12 weeks.
2. He personally manages all of his patients. I will not be working with a resident or another doctor unless I call on the weekend. They have a rotating on call schedule for the weekends.
3. He seems very qualified. You can read his bio here.He told us he left OSU because he wanted to focus on patient care.

Dr. Shipero at OSU is really going to have to bring his A game to get us to go to the James. I'm very curious to see what kind of treatment method Dr. Shipero recommends. I felt very calm and at ease at Dr. Granger's office. The crew I took with me agreed that Dr. Granger seems like a keeper.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

state of mind

Yesterday was wonderfully normal. I woke up, talked with Joe, got the kids ready for school, worked out, cleaned all three bathrooms, played with my children, enjoyed the beautiful weather and fixed dinner. I relished in the fact that I didn't have to go to any doctor's appointments or run any cancer related errands.

Yesterday was the first day I didn't have a cancer related meltdown. I haven't taken any Zanax since Saturday. I feel calm. I don't know why. Maybe it is because I'm able to sleep again. Maybe it is because I'm in denial about what is going to happen. Maybe I am feeling comfort from God. I'm not sure. I'm just happy that I'm not crying all of the time.

I talked with a friend that had cancer 3 1/2 years ago. She told me not to think in the future and keep your thoughts on today. I started that yesterday and I think it's helping me.

I couldn't help but think about how my life has changed in one week. I am a planner. I live by my calendar. Two weeks ago I was looking at vacation destinations for my 10th wedding anniversary. Two weeks ago I was setting up my photography work schedule. Three weeks ago I told a friend that Joe could coach Lauren's softball team this summer. Now all of my planning has come to a stop. I'm waiting to talk to the oncologists for a treatment plan. Once that is in place I can get back to planning again.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

week one down many more to go

You are going to think I am crazy for saying this but I feel very lucky to be diagnosed with grade 2 invasive ductile cancer. Now I will explain why.

November 11, 2011
I had my annual obgyn checkup. Dr. Costa performed all of the usual tests including a breast exam. All tests came back completely normal.

January 7, 2012
A dull pain in my left breast woke me up at 3am. I am a hypochondriac so I was immediately concerned. I ran downstairs, jumped on the Internet and started research. I had myself convinced it was a fibrous cyst. Fibrous cysts are common for a 31 year old.

January 9th
I called Dr Costa's office and talked with the nurse. She suggested I see the doctor.

January 18th
I saw Dr Costa for a breast exam. She seemed surprised to find the mass. Dr. Costa said she wasn't sure what the mass was. I asked her "Do you think it's cancer?" She said "I would be shocked if it is cancer."

January 19
I had my first mammogram followed by a long ultrasound. The radiologist came in and told me to make an appointment with a breast specialist for a breast exam and a biopsy. At this point I was starting to get nervous but I still felt optimistic that everything was going to be fine.

January 24
I had my first appointment to see the breast specialist Dr. Lilly. Joe offered to come with me to my appointment. I told him to take off when i had the biopsy the next day. I thought he was going to do a breast exam like Dr. Costa. I called my friend Kate to see if she could come with me. As I said before I'm a hypochondriac and I don't do well with medical terms. Kate is in Nurse Practitioner School at OSU and has been my friend since I was in first grade. So we went to lunch with friends before the appointment. I was still feeling very confident that things were going to be alright.
Dr. Lilly came into the exam room, did some routine doctor things like listen to my heart and lungs then did a breast exam. I was scared. I am still shaking as I am typing this right now. After Dr. Lilly finished he told me he was pretty certain I had breast cancer. I was shocked. A million things started running though my head. How am I going to be a good mom to my kids? How are we going to afford expensive medical care? How am I going to be a good mom to my kids? I repeated that one in my mind a lot. Am I going to die? How am I going to tell Joe. It was hard. Kate seemed in shock too. We sat in the office and hugged. At that moment I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. I didn't want to put my family and friends though anything sad or hard. I didn't want them to see me upset.
Dr. Lilly came back in the room and did a fine needle aspiration so he could confirm cancer. Once cancer was confirmed Dr. Lilly could order more test to be done. The aspiration was done around 1pm. Cancer was confirmed at 4:00. Joe I went back to the hospital and I was in an MRI machine at 4:30.
We came home and put the kids to bed and started to call close family and friends. It was a hard long night. At 3am Joe and I were both wide awake.

January 25
Dr. Lilly called at 8am with the MRI results. They had seen cancer in my limphnodes on my left side. On my right breast they saw two suspicious areas that needed to be biopsied. I was due to be back at Riverside Women's center at 1pm.
Joe and I took the kids to school and made their teachers and guidance counselor aware of what was going on. I could not calm myself down. I was fearing the worst. I had myself convinced I was going to have cancer throughout my whole body and I would be dead in 3 months. Lucky for me Dr. Lilly had given me some Zanax (an anti anxiety drug) to calm me down. Joe and I both took one.
Joe and I went to the Riverside Women's Center. I had the biopsy's of my limphnodes done first. They were unable to biopsy the right breast because the suspicious tissue was too deep in the breast. They scheduled me for a MRI guided biopsy. The radiologist took Joe and I back to her office to look at the MRI and ultrasound imaging. The mass on my left side looked SO big. It was freaking me out. Thank goodness for Zanax. She also showed me the cancer in the lymphnodes. She removed about 5 of the largest cancer filled suckers.
On my way home I e-mailed a friend who had breast cancer. She came over and we talked for about 2 hours. It was very calming for me to talk to someone who had been though and survived breast cancer. She was very honest with me about chemo and radiation treatment details. I appreciated that. I was so scared of the unknown.

January 26
I usually volunteer one day in Jacob's classroom so I decided to start the day with some normalcy and go to the school. It was so nice to not feel like a cancer patient and just be a mom. I had fun playing puzzles, reading books and enjoying Jacob and his little friends. It was so strange to spend the whole day without my kids. I kept reminding myself that these testing days will soon be over. I was sick of going to the hospital.

Kate came with me for the MRI guided biopsy of my right breast. I was not looking forward to being pushed back into the MRI machine. They had to biopsy two different spots and put markers on the masses so they could be identified later. It was painful. The masses were deep in my breast tissue. The doctor numbed the area but it wasn't enough. To make matters worse I was stuck in the MRI table and I couldn't move. I was so glad when it was over. Once I arrived home I was exhausted. Kate went to pick up Jacob and I went to take a nap. I needed it. I had not slept since Monday.

January 27th
I had to be at the hospital at 7am for the last day of testing. I had to have a bone scan and a CT scan to make sure cancer had not spread anywhere else in my body. I had to wait 3 hours for the radioactive medicine to circulate though my body. My friend bought me a Kindle Fire so I curled up on the hospital bed with a warm blanket and played with my new toy. It is a pretty cool device and it will be perfect to take with me for hospital visits. It was great to have my mind occupied with Pinterest and a good book.
I spent the rest of the day at home with my mom and Jacob. It was a fun afternoon. We ate lunch, played games, and watched TV. I knew doctor Lilly would call sometime with test results. At 7 Dr. Lilly called. I was so scared of more bad news. Dr. Lilly said I have a very common and treatable form of cancer. I felt relieved, almost like I won the lottery. I slept better Friday night.

January 28
I am an assistant wedding photographer. I love my job. I shot my first and last wedding of 2012. I told Steve (my boss) I will be available next year. It was hard to leave knowing that I had to give up something that I love. I cried as I walked back to my car.

January 29
Today I feel thankful. I have felt love and support from family and friends. I am thankful for my supportive husband and healthy beautiful children. Joe is an amazing person. I am lucky to have him in my life. I feel so blessed to live in a great community with wonderful caring people. I'm thankful for modren medicine to cure my cancer. I know I have a loving heavenly father who knows me and knows my needs. I have felt his spirit has been with me, caalming me and telling me that things are going to be ok.
It is hard for me to sit and talk about having cancer. A note on my blog, a text, an email, or a prayer on my behalf is always welcome. My hope is that we can have normal conversations like we did before. If I feel like talking to you about my cancer, I will bring it up. If not please do not feel offended. We will choose an oncologist next week. I will update when we know more. Here are a few awesome notes I received this week. They were the highlights of my week.