Wednesday, January 31, 2018

You Only Live Once

(Ross says I look like a hip-hop chipmunk.)

This past weekend marked 2 years since my breast cancer diagnosis...

and 1 year since my last blog post. 2016 was a year of treatments... surgery, chemotherapy, tamoxifen. 2017 was a year full of recovery, thoughtfully rebuilding my body, mind, and soul. Now 2018, I’m finally feeling like myself. This year I plan to focus on myself and personal goals. Family, friends, art, projects, and possibly a novel. 


So far, so good. I had a difficult time through the past summer with hot flashes. Knowing that alcohol triggered them, I cut it out completely. BAH! It sucked, but a lot less than hot flashes. Then in late July/early August we were in Italy. It was incredibly hot, and all I wanted was a cold shandy, so I did. I rationalized that the heat was so intense, I wouldn't know if I was having a hot flash or not -- it was that hot! Thankfully I was right, and was able to enjoy a delicious and refreshing Peroni Lemon Chill.

You Only Live Once 

Although I understand the concept, I don't believe this statement. I think that I have had several lives - childhood, young adult life, life before kids, life with kids, DC life... life before breast cancer, and after. Living like I want to make something out of my time here on Earth, now that's special, and it may take me a few tries, a few different lives.

Anyone can change their life at any moment... Isn't that amazing. We have the option to be the person we want to be. I understand there are obstacles from time to time, but if I surround myself with people who lift me up, I know I can do anything. The joy of supporting others also lifts me up. Friendship should be easy, otherwise I think it's something else.

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Breast Cancer Update: 1 Year Later

(hair growth 6 months after last chemo)

Yesterday marked 1 year since my breast cancer diagnosis.

I could drone on and on about the ups and downs of the past year, but I won't. Instead I will count today as my new year's day, reflect on the blessings of 2016, and look forward to a wonderful 2017. I will continue to limit time spent on social media like Facebook, and do my best to spend more face time with friends and loved ones. I will try to buy less, and give more. I will challenge myself with a few new personal projects, and support my family in their individual goals. I am truly looking forward to this year and what it has in store for me. I am feeling great and getting stronger and stronger everyday. AND LOOK!!! I have hair on my head! I'm not sure what to do with it... I'm just so thankful to have hair. 


The saga continues. I still have achy legs from time to time, especially first thing in the morning and after sitting for a long period of time, like in the car. I'm getting used to this, which stinks, I know. I've also learned that too much alcohol or caffeine triggers hot flashes. Boo! So if I drink, which is rare now, I only have 1-1 1/2 glasses of wine; or 1 cup of coffee. Jim and I shouldn't have that second cup of coffee!

I am not special.

My breast cancer is not unique. I fought a battle that many people before me fought, and many more people will continue to fight. Although it would have been nice to not have to get breast cancer in the first place, I am thankful for the experience. I have a couple follow-up appointments with doctors next month and will keep you posted. 


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Breast Cancer Update: 14 weeks Post Chemo

Remission + Turning 40

Hello all! It's been a long time since I have posted my progress. I had 2 follow-up doctors appointments; one with my breast cancer surgeon, and the other with my cosmetic surgeon. Both went well. I'm healing nicely and continuously regaining energy. I think I'm finally ready to exit the rollercoaster ride... Time for some smooth sailing. 

As of August 19th, my oncologist officially labeled me "in remission." I started taking Tamoxifen that same day, and the aim is to continue taking it for 5 years. I have experienced leg aches and pains, especially first thing in the morning and after sitting for a long periods of time. While not enjoyable, the minor side effects are manageable. Movement alleviates the discomfort, so I try to stay active.

In addition to finishing chemo treatments and finding my new normal... I turned 40! To be honest, I was super bummed at the time of my birthday. The hair on my head was patchy, my eyebrows and eyelashes were nonexistent, and I was feeling crappy and not much like celebrating. I had envisioned a fun party, or trip with friends and family... but I just wasn't up for it. I flip flopped back and forth on what I wanted to do. I had a melt down and decided that I didn't want to do much of anything. Poor husband had to put up with me crying and whining over how I was feeling about how I looked.

Approximately two days after my major meltdown, I must have werewolfed overnight. My eyebrows grew back with a vengeance, and I have had two haircuts since then. I'm feeling and looking more like myself these days, and truly feel lucky to be in remission. To anyone feeling the same despair that I was feeling, please give yourself time.

So, in celebration of my 40th year, I have created a National Breast Cancer Foundation fundraising page. My goal is to raise $400 by December 1, 2016. Please visit my fundraising page.

And if I may end with a bit of advice... If you feel something different with your body, get it checked out as soon as you can.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Breast Cancer Update: 4 weeks Post Chemo

The Emotional Rollercoaster Continues

Of course I wanted everything in life to go back to normal immediately after chemo treatments. My hair should magically grow back, and my energy level should sky rocket. Sadly, none of this happened. In fact, I just want to hide away most days and wait to reveal myself once I look a bit more like my old self. But that's just the problem... I will never be my old self again. I have evolved, and I'm still trying to figure out who it is that I am morphing into. 

“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.”

― Franz KafkaThe Metamorphosis

In the meantime, I have been gaining energy every week, and pushing myself to do more and more every day. Even if it is making the bed, doing a load of laundry, making dinner, or vacuuming - the little victories matter to me. I have found myself craving to be creative again, and I hope to feed those cravings as I get stronger and more confident. I look forward to it.

I have an appointment with my Oncologist this week, and hopefully she will clear me to eat sushi and get a mani/pedi. It's been way too long that I have had to go without. I will also get started with Tamoxifen that I aim to take for 5 years. I'm a bit nervous about the side effects, but will deal with it as it comes up. Baby steps. I have scheduled the surgery for my medi-port to be removed on August 31st... the day after my birthday, which may limit the celebrating on my actual birthday - but I'm ok with it. I just want to get it out. Then in September I will follow up with both of my surgeons. Autumn cannot come soon enough. I'm so ready to get this year over with and keep on keeping on.

Give me another week and I'll post some pictures of my peach fuzz head. Maybe my first art project will be to put a collage together of my hair growth photos. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Breast Cancer Update: Every Monday Morning Comes

Just a quick post before my last chemo treatment

Since I began chemo treatments in March, this song would run through my head every weekend before infusion on Monday.

This weekend while I enjoyed time with family and friends celebrating Rileigh's birthday, the tune played in my head as usual... but it will be the last time that I will dread Monday morning.

I still need to get through infusion and my week of recovery, but I am eager to be on the other side of chemo. I hope to regain some energy and continue to see the positive in everything.

I plan to continue blog posts on how I am doing, hopefully some hair growth photos, and my next chapter of Tamoxifen.

Suede - Every Monday Morning Comes (Sci-Fi Lullabies)

Monday, July 11, 2016

My Breast Cancer Update: 'Cause you can't, you won't, and you don't stop!

Only one week left!

As I sit here in the infusion suite, dreaming about next Monday being my final chemo treatment, I can't help but think of all the people who helped get me here. It's impossible to name you all, but please know that all of the encouragement, visits, gifts, cards, well wishes, prayers, and love have made me stronger and able to fight through this.

Some people I have to mention are my hubby Ross, my mom (AKA Memaw) and dad (AKA Pop Pop), my two tough sons Rileigh and Jackson, and our dog Karma. You all have been so very patient, caring, and strong throughout this tough year. Your love is unmeasurable and I can't thank you enough.

It's been a tough week for us all. HELL, it's been a tough year! With so much hate and prejudice in the world and on the news these days, it's difficult to stay positive. That is why I chose a quote from the Beastie Boys for today's post. "'Cause you can't, you won't, and you don't stop!" 

'cause you can't ignore what is happening in our world today. If we could just all do as our parents taught us - Treat others the way YOU want to be treated. 

you won't stand by and do nothing. A simple act of kindness everyday goes a long way. Pay it forward as much as you can. Hold a door or the elevator for someone. Say hello and smile. It's easy to be kind. 

and you don't stop because people acknowledge kindness. Children recognize it and hopefully copy it.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”
- Gandhi

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Breast Cancer Update: 25 Random Questions

I have been busy lately... well, busy for me. Ross hosted a movie night at the park; I met up with friends who are in town; we went to a concert; and we drove the boys to camp on Father's Day. I get tired out easily, but I'm hanging in there and trying to enjoy myself. 

Trying to stay positive can be tough with all of the doom and gloom in the world these days. For a break from the grind, I decided to take a moment to answer 25 random questions.

25 Random Questions

1. Do you have any pets?

Yes. We have a Jindo-mix dog named Karma. She is frequently on Instagram. #karmadog

2. Name three things that are physically close to you.

My laptop, a glass of iced tea, and my cell phone.

3. What’s the weather like right now?

A bit overcast and about 80°F

4. Do you drive? If so, have you crashed?

Yes I drive. No I have never been the cause of an accident or crash.

5. What time did you wake up this morning?

This is a bit embarrassing... around 10am. 

6. When was the last time you showered?

This morning. 

7. What was the last movie that you saw?

Last week I watched Deadpool.

8. What does you last text message say?

"OK, I'll keep in touch."

9. What is your ringtone?

It depends on who is calling me, but my default is "Opening."

10. Have you ever been to a different country?

Yes. I have been to Iceland, Costa Rica, Greece, Aruba, Jamaica, and Canada. 

11. Do you like sushi?

Yes, I love sushi, but haven't been allowed to eat it since February. I look forward to a visit to Sushi Taro in August. 

12. Where do you buy your groceries?

From several grocery stores including MOM's Organic Market, Whole Foods, and Harris Teeter. 

13. Have you ever taken any medication to help you fall asleep faster?

Recently, yes. 

14. How many siblings do you have?

I have one brother, Jamie.

15. Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?


16. How old will you be turning on your next birthday?

40, ugh...

17. Do you wear contacts or glasses?


18. Do you color your hair?

Ha! This is a rude question right now. When I have hair, I seldom color it. 

19. Tell me something you are planning to do today.

I am planning on cooking a healthy dinner for Ross and I.

20. When was the last time you cried?

Today. It wasn't a full blown cry-fest. My eyes welled up a bit. 

21. What is your perfect pizza topping?

Fresh arugula.

22. Which do you prefer, hamburger or cheeseburger?

I haven't had either in a while, but cheeseburger.  (Now I want a burger!)

23. Have you ever had an all-nighter?

Of course.

24. What is your eye colour?


25. Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?

YES! Pepsi is gross. It tastes flat and too sweet. I love the harsh burn of a Coca-Cola!  (Great, now I want a Coke with that burger!)