Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's my birthday!

Here we go again. It's been almost a month since my last post. I continue to heal from the brain radiation and it has become a bit more difficult for me to express myself. I'm a slower thinker, I have terrible word retrievel, my balance and strength are not what they used to be and I'm just plain tired most of the time. Using our brains is hard work, and for me that's even more evident and exhausting.  That being said, I'm doing ok and the doctor is confident that the procedure worked. We will know for sure in October when I have my brain scan.

But Friday is my birthday and we are going to celebrate...the everyday moments of life. And I will proudly announce that I turn 44, because folks, getting older is a privilege. 

 While thinking of my big 44 coming up tomorrow, I was also reminded of the gifts I have received from people on a daily basis. 
 I have been gifted by family, friends, and complete strangers since being diagnosed with MBC. Here is a short excerpt from the past 16 months. Maybe you're interested in continuing to spread the kindness? I didn't wanted to start with too extensive a list in one post, so for now, here are 10 ideas.  

 Gift Ideas 
(not in any particular order except for #1)
and maybe I should also admit that my favorite gifts are the ones that do not cost a cent, but maybe just a bit of time.

1. LOVE

2. Handwritten cards and notes

3. Handmade gifts (from kids and adults)

4. Messages through email, Facebook and texting (short, long, or in between).

5. Flowers and plants (anything to show life's beauty).





6. Jewelry. Lisa Leonard is my favorite site.

7. I'm a quote girl and when it's paired with artwork, it's even better. Valerie Wieners and Kelly Rae Roberts are two of my favorites.

8. Organic Tea and Tea Cups are good for tea drinkers.




9. Comfortable attire is always a good choice. Things like socks, slippers, and pajamas pants are some of my favorites. 





10. Kindness...which seems to be a consistent theme with all these ideas. I'm a recipient of this priceless gift daily.

Happy Birthday to me, now go out and do something kind for someone...create ripples that are infinite, and spread the love. 

And, I have one last birthday wish for me, perhaps it's a tad selfish, but before ending your day tomorrow, educate someone about Metastatic Breast Cancer.  I'm wishing for many more birthday posts in the years to come, all written by me.   

Here is a great link to share. 

Thank you all for being the best damn support system a girl could have, much love. 

"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate."
-Oprah Winfrey


PS Look for information, coming soon, about our fundraising opportunities for MBC.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The art of living...

Fridays are usually my favorite days, but today, not so much. At 1:40pm this afternoon, I'm scheduled for stereotatic radiation. Basically, it's a precise radiation procedure to specifically target the two spots on my brain that are not stable. Although this is a routine and "simple" procedure for the radiation oncologist, for me, as the patient, it's quite intense and intimidating. I'll be happy when it's done and even happier when they confirm it worked. Last week I went in to have my mask made...I had visions of the movie Silence of the Lambs, right down to the part where I had to bite down on a piece of it so my mouth remains still during the procedure. 

Sometimes the yuck takes over my day and I can't help but focus on the way it's messed up things. Questions and concerns from my two loves tend to rip at my heartstrings the most, but we are all doing the best we can and helping one another to get through the hard moments. 

The Big C doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Every day is a challenge, some days more than others, but I'm still very much alive. I have learned to consciously choose to focus on things that are not part of the yuck...I'd rather not be defined solely by the big C because I'm more than that.

I'm still able to be a momma, show creativity, have conversations, and go for walks. I have a soul that yearns to feel at peace, love others, laugh and feel loved. 

Cancer can go screw itself because I refuse to let it overtake my life. It doesn't deserve that much attention. The biggest payback I can give it is to find happiness in the everyday and LIVE.




  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Waves...

When my visit to the doctor ended with my oncologist hugging me, it confirmed the fact that the visit was emotional. The yuck in my body is not leaving me alone and there are some spots, specifically in my brain and lung that need to be taken care of. My doctor feels it needs a specific, stronger treatment to put a stop to it. Monday we will meet with the radiation oncologist to hear the options for the brain and Thursday I start intravenous chemotherapy. Although both areas grew only slight amounts, it is concerning because of where they're located.  

Although I enter each visit with a cautiously optimistic attitude, I kind of felt like yesterday I was shoved off the wave I was finally learning to surf. This has been a rough year, constantly full of treatments, medicines, stalking the Big C and making changes when it starts acting up. It's not only frustrating and exhausting to receive this kind of news, it is terrifying! Honestly, a visit like yesterday makes me feel that much closer to the end of the list from the tool box of treatments. Then what? Well, we all know the answer to that and that is why it's terrifying. Apparently, I still have a large list to work from, but it doesn't seem to make this any easier. I'd rather not become an expert surfer, having to ride all these wild waves everyday. I just want a smooth ocean for a good chunk of time. 

I'm probably working harder at this than I have ever worked in my life. Taking supplements, maintaining a healthy diet, using essential oils, vitamin infusions is more than a full-time job. I currently have multiple doctors weighing in on my treatments and I have to manage all of the them. When I have been working this hard and then I get news like I did yesterday, saying it's frustrating is an understatement.

Luckily the support system I have is supplied with endless kind words, hugs, and love and for that I am grateful. 

In the moment I don't always feel like I can do this, but somehow I'll pick myself up and continue to ride the waves and maybe even get better at it as time progresses. 

"Sometimes you just have to ride the wave you're given."

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Do it anyway...

About a month ago, I was having a conversation with a friend and the unknown fact that I swam in high school came up. I wasn't a star swimmer as I only participated during the school swim season. But, I could do all the strokes and the butterfly was my favorite. Having this conversation got my interest peaked to test out my stroke the next time I was in the water, and I even told her I would text her a video. 

This past week we were on vacation and I used the resort pool to test out whether or not I was continuing to live in my former life. I'm happy to say it was similar to riding a bike and I did it. My legs are a bit weak-looking from the yuck in my body, but for a 43 year old with metastatic breast cancer, I was proud of myself...sorry for the bragging. 


A couple of months ago, I couldn't sit in a car without intense pain and this week I swam the butterfly stroke in a pool. If you would have told me months ago that I would have done that, I wouldn't have believed you. But I even proved myself wrong. 

When you doubt yourself, I challenge you to do it anyway. I think most times you'll be surprised and you'll be glad you made that decision. Most rewards are a result of risks and challenges. 

It's painful for me to look at photos and remember the memories before my new life started last summer. The posts from Facebook pop up from years ago and it brings tears. My old life is gone, only memories and experiences keep us connected. I can hold them in my heart and be grateful they were a part of my life, but if I get too stuck there, it's not helpful. 

So, this small moment, where I was able to connect the old with the new helped me to see that maybe it's not all gone, but merely transformed. It also reminded me to have faith; regardless of the challenges life experience's possess, go for it and do it anyway.  


Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Real Deal...

As promised, I'm going to share more of the details from my visit to Dana Farber last week. I guess I think it's important to keep all of it real. It was a positive visit, but honestly it's truly never easy, and this day was no different.

Our day started before 7:00am when we left the house to arrive by 8:00am for bloodwork; bloodwork that revealed that my White Blood Cell count was still in the gutter and that I had to continue to wait for it to go up before restarting the meds because of my safety. It also resulted in a smaller dosage that hopefully will still attack and kill the yuck. And still, here we are a week later, and I find myself in the same predicament. My WBC are moving like a sloth and apparently in reverse. Getting that news on Tuesday was certainly frustrating and left me feeling a bit paralyzed and defeated. 



 Back to last week - the visit also included an appointment with my oncologist, an infusion of some meds for my bones, two painful shots in my tush and my first visit with a neuro-oncologist, including a thorough exam, done by his fellow, of my brain function, of which I passed with flying colors. 

Most of the two hour visit was also spent talking about my symptoms and experiences I've had prior to diagnosis and after. He concluded that it was probably best to prescribe a low dose of some medication for seizures, as it is his determination that the long term issues I've had with my eyes and the numbing sensations in other parts of my body could be small seizures. I was not surprised, but actually a bit relieved, because I've "known" for some time that these vision and numbing sensation episodes have been small seizures; I know my body, sometimes too well. The hope is that by being on the meds, things will not be as frequent and I will not have to panic every time it happens. He is really not worried about the "seizures" because they come and go, which is a good sign. He just doesn't want the small to ultimately become big, thus the meds. The meds have been a simple addition to my daily regiment and if they can give me some peace of mind, it is certainly worth taking them. 

Eight hours later after more, unscheduled bloodwork, we finally left, exhausted from the day.

This truly is a full-time job and on this day, I undoubtably worked my entire shift with few breaks.

So as I continue to wait for my WBC to rise, I try to take advantage of the less side effects I seem to be experiencing and reflecting on the positives, like today's visit to the radiation oncologist when she said, "Well, I think you're doing outstanding." She doesn't know all the ins and outs but as far as recovering from the radiation, she was very pleased. And her being pleased, gives me some relief as well.

And a welcomed distraction to the Big C has been this nest of newly hatched birds. I'm slightly obsessed with getting a glimpse of them on a daily basis. 



"The Real Deal is always going to win in the end."



Friday, July 8, 2016

Let's overwhelm the world...with kindness.

I was watching The Tonight Show last night and once again a news report scrolls across the screen. "Twelve officers shot by 5 shooters." It continues to be shocking, however, in some ways it feels like we are becoming numb to all this madness.

"You don't get harmony when everyone sings the same note."
-Doug Floyd

When are we going to learn to embrace the differences and show love and kindness? It needs to start with each of us and it seems there is no time to waste...start now.

"Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate."
-Albert Schweitzer

My E asked me this morning what was going on. It's a sad sad day when this type of situation is becoming so commonplace and we have to talk to our children about it on a daily basis. Teach your children well and be the example this world needs. Teach them to be kind and respect all lives, because we ALL matter.


"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."
-Demond Tutu


 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Working Overtime...

I feel like I'm working overtime these days still trying to recover from the nonsense from over a month ago. The struggle to get through each day is very real and it's hard not to get in a slump with this "one step forward, three back" routine. I've kind of had enough yuck for a while, and I'm just so dang tired. 

The good news and a list to concretely show my progress:

-I am free from the intense back pain I was experiencing.
-I have weaned off all pain meds...that is no joke and believe me, it's something to be proud of...phew!
-I am eating oatmeal successfully every morning.
-I'm taking some supplements again and drinking my nightly smoothies made by my Rock Star husband.
-I gained back a pound.
-I'm trying to restart my daily walking regiment.
-I'm doing more around the house.

I'm hoping this list continues to grow as time goes on and I regain some of my stamina, motivation and energy. 

I had my visit (for a LONG 8 hours) to Dana Farber today and overall my doctors seem to think I am doing well. That is reassuring. I'll fill you all in on the details in another post. For now, I'm calling it a night.

As always, thank you for your LOVE. It fills my heart, especially on these very difficult days I've recently had.


"To be the best you have to work overtime."
-Floyd Mayweather Jr.