Monday, March 27, 2017

The Bad Roommate

So's been awhile!

I have hair and perky boobs.  Life is good.  Very good.

My body is still healing from surgery in some ways, but is starting to feel more normal.

My breast surgeon changed me to yearly clinical exams and I'm only seeing my oncologist every 6 months.

This means at some point in the very near future I may not be seeing a doctor every month or more for some sort of cancer related issue.  As much as I love my doctors I can do without appointments if I'm don't need to go.

I've also moved past the whole cancer a a very scary monster, which it is.  However it's hard to live with that staring you in the face everyday.

So I'm choosing to view my cancer history as a bad roommate.  Yes, we've lived together.  No we don't get along.  But we both have a life time lease on the same body, so we'll coexist and only speak when we have to.

I've had my share of bad roomies.  There was my first roommate in college, who ironed her underwear and had a very loud ticking wind up alarm clock (ok.. it was 1981).  That damn clock used to keep me awake until one night our next door neighbor took it apart and removed a spring.  We all found it quite funny when Helen couldn't figure out what had happened to her clock.  If you're out there Helen...I'm sorry.

Learning to live with my cancer hopefully, in the background isn't easy.  But I'm not giving a bad roommate anymore of my time.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The All Done Club

In the world of BRCA mutants there is a little thing called "The All Done Club"
I am now happily a member.  

It means you have decided to have surgery to prevent dying from hereditary breast and ovarian cancers by having your Ovaries, Fallopian Tubes and Breasts removed.
Once your surgeries are finished you are "All Done"

None of that is easy on the best of days.

I made a few detours on my way to the all done club by being diagnosed with stage 1 fallopian tube cancer.  So being "All Done" almost had a whole other meaning.

As in DONE.

Not going to lie, that haunts me and will continue to haunt me everyday.  

But the best part of the "All Done Club"
is just that...I am finished with all this cancer business and ready to move on with my life after 2 years worth of detours and frankly, huge personal growth.

I am not the person I used to be.

Cancer has aged me.  I'll admit it.  I don't take my life for granted anymore.  I'm just happy to be here!

I am still recovering from diep flap surgery.  I hit a little detour there as well.  I developed a hematoma on one breast.  But it is resolving nicely, just not as quickly as I'd like.

I'm also looking at my first mother's day without my mom.
Geez, I can't even type that without tearing up.

I guess it's all just part of the journey

Friday, April 15, 2016

Humpty Dumpty

I am 10 days out from Diep Flap Surgery.  That is where they take your lower abdominal fat to reconstruct breasts after a mastectomy.  I knew it was going to be a hard surgery, but it was maybe even more so than I thought.  My recovery so far has gone well.  But with 3 large incisions and 4 JP drains I have to admit I feel a lot like Humpty Dumpty after the fall.

Stranger still, my new body.  My stomach is now flatter than it was when I was 16.  I think my belly button seems about 2 inches higher...probably because my excess belly was ...much lower?

At any rate, I'm sure it will become the new normal.  I will like it.  But right now it feels like yet another new normal to adjust to.  Admittedly I am just really tired of feeling sick in any way shape or form.  

So that's what I've been up to.  Recovering, yet again.  Hanging on the couch, spending time with my family and catching up on some Netflix series' I've been meaning to watch. 

So pardon my wine...I'll go get some cheese.

Friday, April 1, 2016

We Can Rebuild Her...We Have The Technology

T-3 Days till I have Breast Reconstruction using Diep Flap Surgery

So many feelings...

Joy! No more feeling like I have a plastic plate embedded in my chest (bye bye expanders)

OMG! I'm going to have a Tummy Tuck

Ugh...Surgery/Meds/feeling like crap, again

WHOA...8 hours of surgery followed by 2 days in ICU
Gag/YIPPEE...12 weeks out of work

I am very torn between feeling a bit like the Bride of Frankenstein 


Jaime Sommers The Bionic Women

 I think I will lean more towards the Bionic Women...since she was smart AND pretty.
I also had my 15 month Gyn Oncology appointment which was all good.

In a way I feel like I see a light at the end of the tunnel, or perhaps the tunnel just got more light?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Until we meet again...

My mother passed away a week and a half ago.  In some ways it feels like so long ago, and in other ways I still can't believe she's gone.  My mom grew up in a large family on a farm in Kansas.  I have spent all of my life traveling to Kansas.  First with my parents and now with my own children.  I know some people would be surprised to know that of all the places I have lived and traveled, home was and always will be my family's farm.

Going through hard times whether it be the death of a parent or chemotherapy, the farm has always been my happy place.  The place I could close my eyes, imagine waking to the sound of the birds outside and my grandpa's tractor.  I could walk down the hall to my grandma in the kitchen.  She always had a poptart or a little box of cereal just for me.  There were cats to chase, a hayloft to climb into as well as the joy of being surrounded by family.  It was always good.

When my mom died I wanted to say a few words at her funeral.  Something I was unable to do when my dad died and regretted.  I thought of all the things she gave me and taught me throughout my life.  One of the best things she ever did was to encourage us to be independent and to try new things.  Perhaps it was the best thing...

So that was what I concentrated on when I spoke:

"My mom was born into a loving family.  She was smart and funny.  She knew how to work hard and was good at making sure every detail was covered.  But what I think she really excelled at was being open to new experiences. 
As a young child we moved frequently due to my dad’s job transfers.  While most people struggle with change, my parents seemed to welcome it.  As a family we looked at every move as a new adventure.  New places to see, new people to meet and new experiences to be had. 

 One of my earliest memories is of my parents setting off on a cross country transfer from Kansas to Los Angeles.  I was 3.  I spent the trip sitting on the armrest of the front seat of our car between my parents, something she used to joke, would have got her arrested these days.  In later years, my mom had talked about how homesick she was those early days in California and how much she missed her family in Kansas.  But as a child I never saw that side of her.  What I saw was my young and very glamorous parents driving to California where there was going to be move stars, beaches and most importantly... Disneyland!  I distinctly remember having dinner at a fancy restaurant on that was a Denny’s.  My mother encouraged me to order something different that I’d never tried off the was spaghetti. 

 And that was how it went throughout my life.  My mother encouraged all 3 of us kids to do our best (sometimes let say she STRONGLY encouraged that). To be independent and to try new things.  She loved to laugh and had  one of the sharpest minds of anyone I have ever known.  She loved her kids, grand kids and family immensely.  I feel incredibly blessed that she was my mom and that we had her for as long as we did.  In the end as her lung disease progressed it was truly her strong will and faith that kept her going.  So today I stand in front of you all ...Rita’s family and friends and I join you in wishing her only the best as she starts her next journey.  I know she is no longer suffering and is enjoying her new adventure.  Enjoy yourself mom, we will miss you."

I was pleased to see so many cousins and long time family friends at my mother's funeral.  Somehow knowing that people knew her and loved her as much as we did was so very comforting.  

After the funeral we headed back to the farm.  Many of my aunts, uncles and cousins had already gathered there.  We rode around the pasture, looked in the barn and as the sky darkened all the kids (both young and old) played "ghost in the graveyard", "hide and go seek" and "sardines".  Just like we did as kids...and as our parents had before us....and their parents had before them.  We ate, drank beer, played cards and laughed.

I could almost see my mom sitting on the porch and smiling that evening.    

Friday, February 12, 2016

STOP...go directly to not pass go

Do not collect 200.00


What an interesting few months it has been.

First the jail part.

Well, I didn't actually go to jail.  But I was pulled over for blowing off a stop sign in the very small metropolis of Double Oak,  Texas.  Why was I in Double Oak?  Because I decided to take the long way home from the grocery store to see the miniature donkey farm.

Have you ever seen a little donkey?

SO cute.

Anyhow I got a nice 210.00 ticket for missing the stop sign near the little donkeys.  I've been told by others this is a common occurrence and they probably make a decent amount of money on that particular stop sign.  

My sister and I thought perhaps we could earn the money back by selling t shirts outside the courtroom (which FYI only meets the third Thursday of the month at 6pm) that read:
"I paid 210.00 to see a little ass in Double Oak Texas"

Now for the do not pass go....

Living life after cancer means being hypersensitive to any sign the cancer beast has returned.  Recently I started to experience urinary frequency and pain.  I tried to ignore it and hoped maybe it would go away.  But then realized...yes, this is one of *those* symptoms associated with my cancer.  So I went in for more testing.  

It's a really interesting day when finding out you have a UTI is great it isn't cancer and I'm not neurotic.  

Now the 200.00...

I have been plugging along with filling my breast expanders.  I think I am close to where I want to eventually be.  I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon in a week to confirm and go over the details for surgery.

While I am happy about all of that, even though I feel like I have flotation devices embedded in my chest right now..

There is a great sadness on my horizon.

We placed my mother on hospice care 2 weeks ago.  She has fought a valiant battle against COPD for several years.  I can only hope and pray we can make her as comfortable as possible in the time she has left.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Adventures in plastic surgery part 2

Thankfully my surgery is over and I've healed well.  My plastic surgeon was even surprised it went as well as it has.  So yeah!

I'm still not enjoying life with expanders but I am getting used to it.  SO of course they expanded them a little more.  Muscle relaxants are my friends, now more than ever.  Especially at night.  Breast expander pre-op (courtesy of allergen).

But I only have one more expansion left and then will most likely have diep/siep flap reconstruction in the spring.

I went back to work this week.  It was rather eye opening.  Clearly napping and watching netflix the last 6 weeks has done a number on my stamina.  I was one hurting pup coming home that evening.  The next day was better.  I have to keep remembering this whole process is a marathon...not a sprint.

So for now I'm going to enjoy sunny 60 degree Dallas, and rest up for my next surgery.

Well I guess there's also work....3 older kids....but that's just regular life.

OH and one other item of good news I was accepted to present on BRCA including my story this summer at the National Convention of the Association of Woman's Health, Obstetrical and Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN) - my favorite professional organization.
So I have a little work to do on that project as well.  Honored and excited to be accepted to do so.