One week post op

 I’m just over a week post op after my Bi- lateral mastectomy, and I’m in a lot of different places. First of all, the physical pain is hard to really explain. I have large incisions that cover where my breast’ used to be, and although they look it’s so much pain, they’re numb. Yeah, numb. It’s like if you have ever had a cavity filled, your cheeks and face are numb, yet you can feel them at the same time. Exact same feeling on my chest in the places that just make you cringe thinking of what the pain must feel like. Above and below where my breast’ were, my sternum area, and the sides of my chest all the way to my back following my ribs are in so much pain. It’s a constant pain, sprinkled with very intense shooting muscle spasm pain throughout the day. One of the most painful moments I’ve had to experience since surgery is sneezing. Yes, I know, sneezing. But let me tell you, that sneeze completely took my breath away. I’ve now figured out, when I feel the urge to sneeze I make sure not to look at a bright light, or the sun, plug my nose, tilt my head back, and my husband will say “bless you” and then wah-la! No sneeze! You might want to take out a sticky note out and write that down, title it “Erin’s secret recipe for stopping a sneeze”. Alright, so you all understand a bi lateral mastectomy hurts, lets move on to something new, let’s touch on expectations. Anyone can google “post mastectomy photos” and figure out it’s not the most sexy pot surgery look. I specifically talked to my plastic surgeon about this. His response after a giggle, was, Erin, do not google those images. They are not your body, and you’re not a 50 yr old woman going through this. Of course my breasts were not going to look like they do prior to surgery, but he would do anything he could to give me breasts I would be happy with for the rest of my long life. After all of our friends and family left the night of surgery, and I had come out of the anesthetic a little more, I walked to the bathroom to pee. I did need to pee, but I knew with my heart I was going to look at myself in the mirror. So I did. I pulled up my hospital gown and took a deep breath as silent tears fell down my cheeks and my whole body began to shake. I let down the left side of my hospital gown so with my hand free I could touch where my right breast used to be. They were gone. My breasts were done. Everything was gone. The skin left from surgery, and the scars were all that was left. I felt nauseas, and started to breath quick. Took a deep breath, got myself back together, and walked back to my hospital bed. It’s gone! The cancer that was in my breast is gone! As much breast tissue as possible has been removed to prevent reoccurrence in the future, and another big step on our list is done! But, as happy as I am, at this exact moment I am terrified and heart broken. I had no idea what my body was going to look like post surgery, I had convinced myself that since I had expanders placed I would come out of surgery fully expanded with a few incisions and no nipples. I do know that was a ridiculous thought, and I was fully aware of what delayed reconstruction post op photos look like, but I’m 29 yrs old, and having expanders placed at the time of mastectomy. Big, scary, emotional wake up call while I looked at myself in the mirror. My feelings around this are changing often. There are moments I feel like I look like a monster, and at the exact same time those tears fall down my face, they are stopped on their journey to my chin by a very proud smile. A smile because I am a fighter, a survivor, and I’m unique. Forever memories I will always carry with me. Moving on to relationships. I’m not going to talk about my marriage again, because we all know it will turn into a Nicholas Sparks book. So, here’s the thing, friendships, and relationships with family change. That’s just a fact. Some for the better, and some not. That’s a pain I don’t think anyone is aware comes with a cancer diagnosis, and it’s a pain I wish didn’t. I’m figuring out that some people genuinely do not know what to do or say for fear of doing something wrong, so they just don’t. Others are “friends” that are accountable for a good time, laughs, and all the easy stuff, but can’t or don’t want to be invested in a true friendship for the other stuff, the hard stuff too. There are also the people from your past that you haven’t spoke to in a while, or new people you’ve never known that step up and support you more than you imagined they would. Have you heard the line in a Garth Brooks song that says ” some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”? I have in so many ways learned this is true throughout my life and this is another one of those times. I’ve been on my knees, or in my husbands arms in tears praying that the friends and family who have fallen away would come back, and that the mean things people have done or said would just go away. Those prayers weren’t answered. But, they were. I just didn’t know yet. Or I still don’t know they’ve been answered yet. So many of the things we pray for, because we think we need something, or we think we know what’s best for us, are not what God has planned. It would be easy to be angry with God, for letting me get cancer, or all of the prayers left unanswered, but now is when I need to be thankful, and quiet. I need to sit back quietly and wait and listen. If I don’t it will be easy to miss my “why”. 


Beauty with an edge

On May 18th I woke up with the same stomach full of butterflies that I’ve had for the past few weeks, except on this morning it felt like there may be a bird, cat, and a dog in there too. I laid in my husbands arms with tears running down my face onto his chest. I took a depth breath, and got out of bed to prepare for such a big day in our lives. We drop the boys off at my persons house at  4:30am so that she could get them to school. As I wrap my arms around the boys one and a time, and hold my person I start to cry and have a little meltdown. I’m not sure why I broke down at that moment, but I fully embraced it. I’ve learned in this journey you have to feel and embrace every emotion you feel. I know that seems  easy, but we all do it. We tend to shut down our feelings and feel only happiness, which may feel like it’s the best choice, but it’s not. You need allow yourself, and embrace each emotion, it become poison the more you stuff it down. After dropping the boys off we make the drive to the hospital, park, and begin our check in process. They took me back to do paperwork, and into pre-op to prepare for surgery. My husband finally gets to come into my pre op room and the minute he walks in we make eye contact and I instantly feel at peace. His eyes, his touch, his beautiful smile always make everything better, and give me the strength to take on the world. My feeling of almost floating with him by my side ends quickly when 3 different doctors come in to go over each surgery, I sign consents for treatment,and 4 or so different nurse are in and out. It’s time, I start to cry. I cry for fear of surgery, for fear of what changes will happen to my body, fear of pain, excited to mark this big step off our list, and so happy to have the cancer out of me. When I get to the OR, my anesthesiologist, plastic surgeon, and general surgeon were all waiting. They transfer me onto the operating table and silent tears run down my cheeks. All three of my docs rub my hair, and arms or hold onto my hand. I really have an amazing team who not only have such wonderful talent, but have a genuine heart for their patients. I then wake up in my room and immediately look for my husband. I couldn’t wait to tell him how brave I was, and that all of this is worth every minute of time we will have together for the rest of our LONG lives. I don’t remember much after coming out of recovery. I do know a lot of my family had come to see me, and I am so thankful for you. After company left I went in to the bathroom to see my chest. I again meltdown. It’s over! I did it, I was brave, and tough, and I did it! I also cry looking at my chest when I see the incisions and scaring. I have moments of weakness when I wish I could know ‘why’ things happen. Why at 29 yrs old will my body  be scared up? I’ll tell you outside of my weakest moments, have complete confidence that this is part of my plan along with my everyone in my life. We are all learning and growing through this. I have seen changes in many people around me, and in myself, and I am so proud. It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity, the ‘why me’, and anger. And sometimes you need to feel those emotions. You just can not stay in that place. I know there are many reasons for why I am going through this, because I know there is a plan for me. Part of my plan is to be as open and honest about this part of my life. To reach people through my story and provide some encouragement. I know as I heal from the surgery my breasts will not look the same prior to surgery, there ill be scars and tattoo nipples. But I can confidently say that I will still be a beautiful woman, that my scars will give me en edgy beauty. When I see my body, I see a mother to the most incredible little boys, a women so in love with her husband, and I see the fight this woman is fighting to stay in this world with her husband and sons by her side. I would fight through anything to get as much time as possible here with my 3 boys. There is a unique, strong kind of beauty that I will carry with me wherever I go. I am proud and confident, to embrace this new beauty of mine physically, and mentally.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Some of us are moved by words, and others pictures. For me, I like both to complete a story or emotion. Take 9/11 as an example, listening to someone speak about that day moves me, but when I see a picture or video that goes hand in hand with the story being told, I’m instantly covered in goosebumps and tears fall down my face. I’ve decided in conjunction with my blogging to share this journey, I will have a ‘photo journal’ as well. Maribeth with Maribeth photography has so graciously joined me during some appointments and some upcoming important dates to help me document my journey with her phenomenal photography. I know with her amazing talent she will be able to capture moments of raw emotion, details that not everyone gets to see, the truth in my journey, and I will have forever memories to look back on. The pictures that I am sharing with you now are from my last infusion. If you remember, this was a big day! On this day, I started my maintenance Herceptin and began what is supposed to be a much easier step in my treatment plan. In the first photo you can see the entrance to the Kaiser building where my infusions take place. It may look like a simple picture, but to me it stirs up quite a lot of emotions. When we would park and walk into that building, that exact view would make the butterflies in my stomach flutter a million miles a minute, my hands start to sweat, and I would take a deep breath because it was time now for the next treatment. The next photo is my husband and I checking in. I really love this photo. Every appointment we have the same routine together. For most of you, you see us our backs and us checking in for our appointment, for me I smile because I know my husband is swiping my credit card for me, because I can never seem to make it work. In the beginning of all of this, I was so emotional and scared, one morning we were trying to check in just like in the picture, and I could not get my credit card to work and it stressed me out so much and about pushed me over the edge. Then, my husband jumped in to help me and make everything better like he always does. Now, every time we reach the check in, he already has my credit card in his hands, has wiped it on his jeans to ensure it will work the first time, and ta-da no stress for me. This may seem like such a small thing, and in reality it is, but the big picture for me from this photo is just how much my husband does to help, and take care of me, nothing is too small, he’s happy to do anything to make this easier on me. Next, you will see my Onco RN preparing the needle to access my port, me closing my eyes and preparing myself for him to access my port (because no matter how many times I’ve had it done I always get nervous. Especially because sometimes I didn’t put my lidocaine cream on for enough time and it hurts), my ‘oh my gosh that hurts I obviously need to put the lidocaine on sooner face, me inspecting his work, and finally laughing at myself for being such a wimp. The next photo has 2 parts. I am showing my RN my nails because I jammed them a week prior and chemo really destroys your nails, so with me jamming them I developed a really nice infection and the week following this photo I ended up completely losing 2 nails. I was showing him my nails, as well as the antibiotic I was put on for the infection. Fun story, my infected nails got so bad when I was in Dallas for a work trip that I ended up going to a pharmacy and getting needles, band aids, and Neosporin. I stood outside took a deep breath and stuck the needle under my nails to “pop” them. Then, a combo of blood and puss dripped all over the sidewalk and I felt instant relief. Now, I have some really awesome purple band aids with neon green polka dots that I rock on a daily basis, you’ve got to look as cute as you can while you go through all these fun things! The next pictures are my blood being drawn through my port, me getting fluids while I wait for my labs to come back, and my RN getting my chemo started. There is a lot that I get out of these pictures, but there is one thing I hope others can see. I hope you can see my happiness, that although this is all very hard and probably the hardest thing I’ll ever do, I’m okay. I’m happy, and I am doing this! I am so very excited to add these photo memories to my blog for myself, and all of you. Surgery is fast approaching and Beth will be alongside me then too. I am sure when I see her photos afterwards I will have so many emotions. I know with her talent she will catch the smallest details, along with the biggest emotions that words cannot seem to explain. I will have these to look back on forever, to remember what all we put into this, and the ability to feel those emotions time and time again by looking at a simple photo.

It’s okay to be afraid

It’s May 1st, I officially have surgery in 16 days, 21 hours, 11 mins. As my surgery date is fast approaching, I can’t help but be pretty emotional and afraid. It’s a big 8 hour surgery, and I don’t tend to do well with anesthesia. Not to mention the small fact that my body will never be the same. I’m not saying its going to be a bad change, but change in it’s self is hard. I stand looking in the mirror at my body and sometimes I cry. I cry for a lot of reasons. I cry because my eyes tend to always fall on my tummy first, which has gained quiet a bit of weight from my treatments, then they tend to drift to the discolorations on my arms and chest from the chemo toxicity rashes, my port which after its removed will be another scar, my head which is starting to grow a little peach fuzz, and then finally by breasts. I sometimes stare at them and think how crazy it is that there is something so dangerous that has grown in there, something that could potentially spread throughout my body and take my life if I hadn’t caught it, yet you can’t tell looking at them. Then I start thinking about this upcoming surgery and the surgery itself scares me, the pain from healing, the pain my plastic surgeon explains from my expanders (when we asked how many times after surgery we need to come to his office his response was “it depends on Erin’s pain tolerance. We will expand them as much as she can handle at a time), and the way my body will look afterwards. It’s a simple fact, that even with the two amazing surgeons I have, my breasts will not look like they do now. There will be scars, they will be a different size and shape, and my nipples will be 3D tattoos. The other side of this is, at the end of this I will be cancer free, a survivor, with my whole life a head of me. I’ll stare at my body in the mirror, or feel my body underneath my clothes, and I’ll feel proud, and it will be a new kind of beautiful. No, I wont have a perfect, tight, un scared 30 yr old body, but what I will have will be a whole new different kind of beautiful body. I’ll have a body that shows how hard I fought to be here, that I beat cancer, that I was strong, and brave, and my body will forever be a journal of memories from this crazy journey I am on to get where I am suppose to be. We teach our boys regularly that it’s okay to be afraid, but you have to feel that fear, and push yourself through it and do it anyway. I’ve been feeling this fear for surgery that seems to be growing the closer we get, and that’s okay. I spent a few hours crying on the couch yesterday, and it felt good. I can fear, and I can cry, but when I walk through those doors on May 18th,  tears or no tears, I will take a deep breath lay on the hospital bed, kiss my husband, and be wheeled back to surgery full of fight. How blessed am I to have the ability to fight and beat this? To come out of this on the other side with my whole life ahead of me? It’s okay to be afraid, you just have to feel that fear, and do it anyway.


Let’s Talk Taboo

Alright, there are so many taboo topics out there, that we all just don’t talk about. Whether its sex, death, money, diarrhea, or religion. I’ve got nothing to hide, and I’ve made myself pretty vulnerable to you all in this little journey of mine, so why stop now? As I get through each day, I try to think about what I can share with all of you, what you may or may not know about what I am going through. So, let’s talk about SEX. We attended our “chemo class” at the start of this. One thing the nurse told us was that a lot of couples really struggle in their sex lives not only during chemo, but this entire fight. Each step brings new struggles, but they’re all hard in their own ways. But no matter what comes with each, it’s all more than worth it. First of all, how many of you know that for the first  at least 72 hours after chemo, all of my bodily fluids are toxic? Come on, don’t lie, we can’t be the only ones who had no idea. I have to use a different bathroom than everyone, we need to wash our pillows and sheets, I need to wash my make up brushes, I’m not suppose to kiss the boys, or swap spit with my sexy husband (REAL challenge for me) and obviously not have sex. In fact, our nurse informed us if we so chose to have sex within that time, we would need to make sure to use “barriers” as the chemo could really hurt my husband. First thing I did when she told us that was laugh, thinking “man I feel bad for the guy who found that out”. Then, you get pass that initial 72 hours, and that’s the exact time I start getting really sick. All of my favorite side effects start and usually a few new ones. I typically really do not feel well for about the next 8 days. Between being miserably sick, pain, and sheer exhaustion, there is surely nothing happening in the bedroom. I’m happy if at this point I can just get a few hours of sleep. After quiet some time, I slowly start feeling better! At this point, my pain is subsiding, my rashes are somewhat healing, I’m not pooping my ever loving brains out (which just makes anyone feel sexy) my nausea is less frequent, and my mouth sores are healing (do you know how hard it is to kiss your husband when your mouth is covered in sores?) There are some things though that are always somewhat difficult. No matter what point I am at in treatment, my nose is constantly running. Why? Well, along with all of the other hair on my body, I’ve also lost my nose hairs. Not really a big deal right? It’s really not, but, it is somewhat annoying, embarrassing, and not sexy when you’re kissing your husband and your nose is constantly running. Alright, you come to terms with the fact that your nose is constantly running, and you figure out that if you blow your nose, and then head towards your super sexy husband to get yourself a nice squishy kiss, right before you kiss him, sniff your nose really hard, and you can typically get an un-snot interrupted 3-5 second kiss. No big deal. But, lets not push our limits and try for any make out session of any sort as it will end up wet and salty. Haha. Body image is next. Every woman with or without cancer struggles with this on a daily basis. And if you don’t, I admire you. On top of any regular insecurity you may have had, add some additional weight that you have had the pleasure of gaining from all of the steroids, chemo, and hormone treatment you’re on. You develop a pretty nice fluff. I know what you’re all thinking as you read this, she’s worried about the extra weight she’s gaining from chemo? At least she’s alive. And you’re right. In the big picture, there are a lot more important things, but it doesn’t make it easy, and it doesn’t take away the insecurities, or make it any less real. I still feel these things, I just choose to grow through them, to push myself, and to find confidence in myself that I’ve never had. In addition to your  extra fluff, you get to be bald. I know, I know, I should well past this. For the most part I am. But, I can’t find the right words to explain how uncomfortable as a woman it is to want to be “sexy” to your husband, but how out of place and weird you feel when you’re laying in your bed next to him, and you’re bald. My husband has not changed the way he looks at me in the slightest, he thinks I am even more beautiful now, I can feel his love for me in the way he looks at me, or looks into my eyes. This is a personal struggle. A struggle to feel sexy, and to feel like a woman while I have no hair. The amazing thing is, that when I get through all of this, I will have a true unbreakable confidence in myself. Each day I fall more into my own body, my heart, my soul, my very being. You have to really fall in love with yourself, and get to know the you you’ve never known. But what an amazing gift. At the end of this, I will have fallen in love with every inch of me, I will have pushed through every insecurity, every fear, and become a truer, stronger, confident, unshakable me that I never knew could exist. On the other side of this is my husband. I’ve learned a lot recently, how much my diagnosis effects many more people than me. I’ll expand on this in another post, but for tonight, I want to talk about my husband. No, he does not have cancer, and he’s not going through chemo, but he is very much going through this too. I could not imagine how hard it would be for me to see him go through this and feel so helpless. I’m sure he feels helpless, frustrated, hurt, and stressed to say the least. He also has a lot that falls on his plate. By the time I get home, I am beyond exhausted, and I don’t have much energy as it took everything to get through the day. So, who do you think dinner, the kids, the house, and the dogs fall on? Yep, that amazing husband of mine. He’s happy to do all of it, but that doesn’t make it easy. He does all of those things, and takes care of me, all with that beautiful smile on his face that never fades. In addition to the emotional side, and all of the stress he takes on, let’s think  about how much he worries about me. Let’s get back to our timeline, 72 hours I’m toxic, next 10 days or so, I’m sick and miserable, I start to feel better, but I’m insecure, and then my husband is stressed, and very worried about me. Well, before you know it you wake up and its time to get chemo again, and this whole thing starts over. So, let’s talk about sex, and how hard it is to keep alive while you’re going through this. But here’s the thing, you figure it out, you have to. But not only do you figure that out, you find a lot of other ways to be intimate. We may not have a crazy, wild, hair pulling (yeah I just went there)sex life while I am going through this, but we have found intimacy in different ways. We are very quickly becoming very good communicators, he is constantly holding my hand, getting lost in my eyes, divulging secrets, insecurities, emotions, and his truest heart, kissing me in the sweetest ways, connecting on levels we didn’t know existed, and growing the most amazing trusting friendship. He has the ability to take away any pain or worry with his touch. That’s the honest truth. When I am really sick, or in pain, or sad, the one thing I can consistently count on to ease me or take it away is a simple touch from my husband. I can fall into his arms and be at peace. I don’t know about you, but that’s something truly amazing.

Phew. I did it. I wrote about something pretty taboo, but also pretty scary to be so vulnerable and open about. I promised myself to push ,y limits, to be vulnerable, and to share the most honest experiences I can through this. So, here I am, being brave and talking taboo.

One Step Closer

IMG_3050Going into the 5th round of chemo, we pre planned 2 separate IV fluid appointments in hopes that maybe we could prevent me from being so miserable. My oncologist also wanted to keep an eye on the rash that I keep developing about 5 days after chemo. Right on schedule, the evening of the 5th day following chemo, I kept waking up with my arms feeling like a had a very bad sunburn, and the next morning, the rash was covering my right arm. My appointment for fluids on Monday also consisted of my oncologist being very confused by the rash, and giving me IV steroids as well as 4 days of oral steroids. Not only did this not help, my arms kept getting worse, much worse than the previous round. Off to the dermatologist I went. He was unsure what exactly the rash was, but thought he would give me 2 weeks of a higher dose of steroids. For those of you who are not aware, steroids are not enjoyable. You’re cranky, hungry, puffy, and its impossible to sleep. But, if it’s going to make me better, its worth it. My rash is getting WORSE. The best way I can explain the pain is for you to imagine what it would feel like to have someone hold a torch to your arms. As miserable as it is, I keep going through each day thinking as positive as I can. If the chemo is destroying my arms the way it is, imagine what it is doing to the cancer in my body! Now, it’s time for my appointment with my oncologist prior to my next chemo. This time our appointment is a week before my 6th chemo instead of the same day. We’re sitting in the exam room like usual, Dr. Mayer walks in laughing (as he has done time and time again, because what else can we do other than laugh at all of the things that are constantly thrown my way?) he sits down and tells me I need to go to the dermatologist today, and get a skin biopsy. He is unsure what is causing my rash, and we need to be sure it is nothing dangerous. Then he completely takes my breath away, and tells me with the rash getting as bad as it is, that we do not need to complete the 6th neo-adjuvant chemo! Wait, what? I’m done with the neo-adjuvant chemo? I don’t have to go through this Hell again? I don’t have to go through the emotional and mental torture for the next week of preparing myself for the pain, for being sick, mouth sores, headaches, rashes, vision changes, and GI issues? But, wait, I do not want to “half ass” this fight. I want to be hit with all of the hard stuff, give me everything, all of it, no matter how hard, so that this will be gone and I can move on with my life. Dr. Mayer talked us through the clinical trails for the chemo I am on, and in fact, most made it through 5 rounds of the chemo, so I was doing pretty good. But, with as bad as the rash is getting, and the compounding side effects of the chemo on my body continuing to get worse, it was time to stop the neo-adjuvant chemo!!! I couldn’t breath right at this point. I DID IT! I made it through this Hell of neo-adjuvant chemo! 5 rounds! I pushed myself, I picked myself up each and everyday, I cheered myself on, and I didn’t give up no matter how hard! I am so damn proud of myself!! I am stronger than I could have ever imagined I could be!! We finish up my appointment, and start to head to the car, and I can’t stop smiling, I jump into my husbands arms, I kiss him a thousand times, and then, I get into the seat next to my husband, and I just cry. I’m crying because I am so happy to be done with this . I’m so proud of everything I have accomplished , and I’m excited to move on to the next step! My husband holds me and tells me how proud he is of the woman I am, how tough I am, how beautiful I am, then kisses me the way he does that fills me to the top with strength, confidence, love, encouragement, and bravery. Then we head downtown to meet with My plastic surgeon. My mastectomy is scheduled for May 18th @ St. Joes. Our appointment is to discuss final details. But first, I want to touch on second opinions. A while back, we met with a plastic surgeon who was very nice, but what he wanted us to do for my surgery was not something I wanted, nor did I feel comfortable with. I thought about my consult with this doctor for several weeks and was unable, no matter how hard I tried, to accept orbe comfortable with his surgical plan for me. So, I did something I’ve never done before, and decided to get a second opinion. I’ve always been someone who is almost “too trusting”, I mean, he’s a doctor, he knows what he’s doing, I need to just trust him, right? Well, in most cases yes, I do just that, but my gut feeling was a little overwhelming on this one. It wasn’t a quiet whisper that I could just tune out, it was the equivalent of a 3 yr old little boy scream. For you momma’s out there, you know it’s close to impossible to ignore a sound like that! Long story short, I made the call, saw another plastics doctor, and I am so glad I did! He is completely on board with what we were hoping for, and we felt so comfortable and connected to him. I no longer am afraid for my upcoming surgery as we fully trust our surgeons. May 18th, I will have my mastectomy, and have expanders placed at the same time. Our appointment was to discuss size and shape of the implants I will eventually have. Because I have to have radiation, I will have my expanders for a little over a year. Let me tell you just how weird it’s been for me to research what breasts I would like to have. We were sent home with “homework” to look up pictures of breasts to find the shape and size that I like. I’d wait until the kids were in bed then sit in the corner of my couch where if the kids came up the stairs they couldn’t see the pictures of boobs on my computer. I would type ” breast implants” or “reconstruction after breast cancer” or “boob job pictures” and many other things to bring up as many pictures of breasts as I could find to look at. After a few hours of sorting through different pictures I saved the ones, or should I say “pairs” that I liked the best. At this point, I took a BIG deep breath, and text my husband something to the effect of “I’m going to send you some pictures of boobs I like. Can you please look at them and tell me which you like the best? And then could you please delete them from your phone, never ever think about them again, and promise me you will love my boobs the best no matter the scars?” I know, ridiculous right? But, I don’t think any of you quiet understand what its like to try to make a decision on breast size, and shape, while you worry about the scars, the pain, and the simple fact that what you would really like is to just keep the breasts you have. But, I can’t do that, because the breasts I have are currently very mean and trying to kill me. You’ll be glad to know that I picked the size and shape I would like, and we are ready for surgery. One other fun fact, we also discussed my nipple options. This is something I don’t really have to completely decide right now, but I did have to decide if I wanted my surgeons to save my right nipple or not. My breast cancer is in my left breast and my surgeon is unable to “save” my left nipple. So, I needed to decide if I wanted my right nipple to be “saved” or if I would like it removed for the symmetry. I decided not to save my right nipple, and that when construction is complete I will have 3d tattooed nipples. I know, I know, sounds crazy. But. Google it. It’s actually really great. I’ve come a long way in my feelings on this upcoming surgery, and I’ve decided its kind of fun to pick out what size and shape, and what kind of nipples, and well, it’s kind of like picking out your perfect car. I get to pick out and design my own boobs! And I’ll tell you this, at the end of all of this, I’ll have the boobs I want!

The little things aren’t so little.

The little things aren’t so little.

It’s day 8 post Chemo Round #5. That means only 1 more of these babies!!! I can’t believe I’ve made it through 5 rounds already. Each day brings something new, and each day is a challenge, but I am proud to say I’ve made it through 5 rounds already! This next one will bring even more emotions than the last I’m sure. Not only will I have the usual emotions of fear, and anxiety, I will be so relieved to have made it through one of the hardest chemo regimens out there! This round so far has had it’s ups and downs, but seems to overall actually be better than the last! We’ve had some fun things to deal with like this chemical burn like rash on my arm. I cannot explain to you the discomfort of it. It burns constantly. Trying to sleep is hard because when anything touches it and the pain is very intense. They gave me IV steroids and then put me on 4 days of oral steroids in hopes that it would help. No luck yet. I will calling my onco RN this morning when they open for any new ideas they may have. I do think our decision to schedule me for fluids on day 4 and 7 of this round has helped. If anything just having the IV fluids may be keeping my body stronger and giving me more energy to fight the effects of chemo breaking me down from the inside out. The burning stomach pain has been an issue again this round, my Onco has me taking Prilosec twice a day, and 4 Pepcid completes as well. I have not noticed much relief, but I understand it can take a while to start helping. I’ve also developed a pretty sexy 1-900 phone operator voice as I have caught a lovely cold. The boys seem to like my voice, maybe I’ll keep it! Another thing that has come along with this round has been my overall appreciation for each moment I have, each true relationship I have, and all of the small things that really are not small at all. Since being diagnosed I have had an overall change in my outlook that keeps growing, but here in the past week something seems to have clicked in my heart and soul. I have a whole new perspective for the littlest of things. I find myself so overwhelmingly grateful and appreciative of all things that seemed so small. Above all, I am so very blessed and thankful for the truest relationships I have. My husband, I cannot put into words how incredible he is. My marriage is the absolute center of my heart and soul. He fills me with more passion, joy, happiness, completeness, life and love than I could have ever imagined. He is my rock. He always seems to know just what I need at just the right moment. He has shown me who I really am, taught me how to be myself, and love myself. My boys never ever fail to amaze me with their love, support, innocence, happiness, joy, and sense of wonder. There could not be one possible thing in this world that could ever over shadow the love those 2 boys have in their eyes for me. I believe in myself more when I try to look at myself through their eyes. Because I can not only see the sparkle in their eye when they look at me, I can feel it. My family, has been more than amazing in so many ways. My mom, I don’t know what I would do without her. She has been such an incredible source of support, encouragement, help, love, laughs, and more. She has not missed one night of staying with me while my husband is at work. She is there the same time every night with a kiss for me and the boys, she allows me to rest after I made it all day through work somehow, and she loves and supports my boys a long side me. Although I am a grown women and a mother, I could not get through each day without my mom. It doesn’t stop there, my step mom Kat, has been so supportive, and willing to help with anything at the drop of a hat. I know without a doubt that if there is anything no matter how small, she would jump at the opportunity to be there, or anywhere I need her. My sister, my daddy, my step dad, my wonderful in laws, and my grandparents. They’re all so loving and supportive and true. I am trying to be better at letting them in. I am learning that although I am stubborn and push through each day and sometimes don’t know how I made it, that all of the people in my life are waiting to be of help. I am learning that everyone is going through this too. No, they may not have cancer, or be going through chemo, but they are hurting too. It’s my goal, especially with surgery coming up, to utilize those in my life who just want to be of any help instead of pushing myself so hard. On to friendships. I have one very true and dear friend, you all know, she is my person. I never can find the words to explain her friendship. She truly is the most beautiful person I have every known. Our friendship is one you only find once in a lifetime. And when you do, you hold on tight and never let go. I know that we have a lifetime together, and I thank God everyday for her. I do also have a handful of true friends that genuinely care about me and my family, but it has been quiet eye opening to discover how few are far between they are. But, I am not sad or upset about it. I was. But  now, I am just thankful and blessed for those that I do have. You know who you are, and you know how much I love you. Thank you for being my friend, and for loving me and my family through these rough times. We will always hold you close to our hearts and forever be thankful for your friendship. So, I will end this with saying, the best thing I have taken from this round of chemo has been peace. I am at peace with the relationships I have, they are so incredible. I am also very aware and appreciative of the smallest of things. It’s cliché but its true, each day the sun rises and I’m alive, and I am so thankful.

Orange is quickly becoming my favorite color.

Each day I take a variety of different medicines to manage the symptoms and side effects that come along with chemo. Although the chemo is killing the cancerous cells that are in my body, it’s killing a lot of other things too. One of the first things that comes to everyone’s mind is the rapidily dividing hair follicles. You lose your hair on your head, which as you all know as that started to fall out by the handful, we took control and my husband and boys shaved it for me. It made it so much less painful, and it was one less thing my cancer was going to take from me. I also lost my leg hair, arm pit hair, you know where hair,(which means no painful waxing for me!) nose hair (which actually kind of sucks because my nose runs constantly with those hairs) and as of recently I’ve really been losing my eye lashes and brows. It seems that most people thing with Pretty Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer that’s what you get. I’ve been told by many people “don’t worry, it’s just hair, you’ll grow it back! It could be worse” I smile politely and walk away. It IS worse! Chemo also kills and breaks down your mouth and you develope beyond painful mouth sores, you lose your sense of taste, you develope painful sores in your nose, burns, rashes, and sores all over your skin, inability to sleep from pain, fear, emotions, or steroids,my vision goes out the window, my eyes get infections, my intestines are stripped out and very painful, I am in an intense amount of cramping pain, and extreme diahhrea, and lastly, it takes away every single lay one of energy I have each day. The GI effects alone are hard to put into words really. The mornings are tough. I usually wake to my bodies own alarm clock being the intense pain in my bowels. I jump out of bed nauseas, both from the pain, and the chemo in general and dart to the down stairs bathroom.(I know it’s silly, but I still try not to poop anywhere near my husband 😉 ) I spend quiet some time in the restroom with very intense cramping and diahhrea. At one point last cycle, I had got up 20 times in between 10pm and 4 am. I had taken 16 Imodium, and 4 lomotil with no relief. I was beyond exhausted, dehydrated, and in so much pain. These particular side effects happen every round. Before I eat any meal, I take Imodium and lomotil to try to make my experience a little less miserable. I can typically make it through a meal and talk for 10 mins before the cramping starts and I need the restroom. That’s enough about poop 😉 On to my point. There are very real painful day to day side effects and symptoms from my Pretty Pink Cancer that most people don’t really know about. Thankfully, we have some really great medicines available to help manage the symptoms the best we can! That bothers me. It burns my heart and twists my soul when people have not the slightest idea what I go through on a daily basis for the simple fact they truly have the idea in their heads that The hardest thing that a breast cancer diagnosis brings to a woman is hair loss. I want you to know the hard, the scary, the truth. Breast Cancer isn’t pretty, and it isn’t easy. But, I can do it, and so can you. Each day brings new challenges, and not all days are bad. One of my closest friends reminds me daily that there are silver linings in each day, and she is so very right. No, I would not sign up for a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, but, I do know with every fiber of my being that the good that I am getting from this is irreplaceable. I have become a stronger woman than I could have every imagined I could be. I have been heart broken when losing friends or realizing the friends I thought I had I don’t, but for that I am grateful. The few who stand by me, through it all is more than I can dream of. I don’t take anything for granted, I’m slow to anger, quick to forgive, and have become quiet good at finding the positive and good in everything. Like I’ve been told by those who have held my hand trough this, laughed with me, been brutally honest, and continue to pick me up each time I fall, each day is a blessing, live each day to the fullest, because everyday counts. 👊🏼💪🏻💗 


The Healing Power of Makeup

Waking up the day after chemo can be quite the ordeal. I’m immediately exhausted, I’m puffy from fluids and steroids, my eyes are swollen and painful, the inside of my nose hurts, my chemo face breakouts have already begun. On top of all of the physical changes, I start to feel nervous for what’s still to come, I feel somewhat insecure in my own skin, and I have about 1 Hr to put my big girl panties on, pull myself together, and just keep swimming. I’ve come to realize how ridiculous I sound when I’m so worried about how I look. I’m fighting a battle of a lifetime, to have a lifetime with my husband and children. I’m being ripped apart by this chemo from the inside out. Who cares what I look like? Well, I’m not that girl who can bravely face the world without putting herself together the best I can before I leave.I am however, the girl that will be open about how I feel, how hard it is,how I look before I cover my face, who won’t cover her scars, port, or burns on her body. I’m me. Getting through each day and this is how I do it. It doesn’t make it any more or less graceful or brave then the women out there who hide from everything, or those who hide nothing at all, we are each beautiful, graceful, brave, and strong. This battle and journey is as individual as we are as individual women. What matters is you’re fighting. The picture below is half of my face put together and work ready, the other is not. You can see I’m really starting to lose my eyebrows and eye lashes now too. There have been some very entertaining eye brow application mornings! Don’t worry, I won’t let you down, you’ll see some of those too ☺️ Have a wonderful day, and make today count!  


Pictures to last a lifetime

We went for spring family pictures this weekend, I took a deep breath, dug down deep for every once of courage, and took my wig off. I took it off to make sure we had pictures of this time in our lives to remember each moment, for myself to see the love of my family the same without my hair, to see my own beauty , courage, and strength, for other women going through this along with me, for women I’ve never met who are struggling with the hair loss, and for everyone to see there is more to a woman’s beauty than her hair, ❤ Deep breath, and JUMP! Here are a few for you to see, more to come soon ❤