Sunday, February 28, 2010

Made it through the first year...

Yes, I guess you could say that February will always be a month of anniversaries for me. Not only is it my birthday month, but it was on February 23rd, 2009 when the surgeon came in to tell me that my needle biopsy result showed cancer. It's that moment in your life, that everything changes. I must say that all in all, I am doing just great. This past year is one I would like to forget, but at the same time, I have grown in ways that make me who I am today and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

This past Friday (Feb. 26th) I had my mammogram. I'd like to say that the whole process was uneventful, but, it wasn't. The technician actually brought me back for 3 additional times to get "some better pictures" and just to be sure. UGHHH!!! And this time, she was focusing on my "other" breast (left side) because there is some "asymmetrical tissue" they want to monitor. Actually, when I was first diagnosed last year, the radiologist spent quite a bit of time doing an ultrasound on both breasts and she was pretty concerned about both sides. I guess when the lump in my right breast was found to be cancerous, they just didn't pay as much attention to the left side. Well, they made up for it last Friday. My poor chest wall hurt on Saturday from being pulled, mashed, pressed and tugged every which way. They also did an ultrasound on my left side...and after all was done, they told me that they'd see me in 6 months and they'll do a mammogram on both sides then. This is good news, but at the same time, I cannot begin to tell you how mentally drained I was afterwards. I guess a lot of women go through similar situations, and even though I am so grateful that nothing was really found, the psychological ramifications was totally draining. Once you've been through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, you feel like "I'm all done with this, let's get on with life"...well, Dave summed it up best...Cautious really does sum up how a cancer patient (Survivor) should approach future scans. You are cautiously optimistic that everything is going to be o.k., but at the same time, you are aware that something else could be awaiting for you to deal with, just hopefully not.

I honestly wasn't ready for that psychological drain and it took about 2 days for me to come out of my funk. I'm good though and ready to get on with life! Our family is actually going to take a celebratory trip to Disney soon and we are all looking forward to it. We just need to get away, have some fun and enjoy being a family. We're thankful we are able to take a trip like this and intend on relaxing and just have a good time. We had to cancel a Disney cruise that had been planned in October of 2009 when Dave was in the hospital getting his chemo. Last year we did manage to go to Hilton Head, but that was during one of my "good weeks" in the midst of my chemo. So, we're doing down to Florida for some nice warm weather, to celebrate being "done" with cancer and to enjoy our time as a family.

When we get back we'll hit the ground running to get ready for Relay for Life, so plan on hearing from me then!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hard to believe it's been a year...

I really feel like I need to make a post and I am glad I've had this blog to get my thoughts down on. Yes, I cannot believe that on February 12th, it marks a year from when I had my mammogram where they found the mass on my right breast. I cannot begin to say how thankful I am that everything went as smoothly as it has for both Dave and myself. We are eternally grateful that we dodged major bullets and are getting "back to normal", as normal can be. Dave has a CT scan next week and I have a mammogram on the 26th of this month...I think we'll just look at the scans as "routine maintenance" and be grateful that our doctors are taking good care of us.

I've wondered why it is that both Dave and I had to deal with cancer like we have...and for right now, I can tell you that quite a few people have been brought into our lives that are dealing with cancer now. Dave's blog: has had many hits from other cancer patients that are "googling" Myxoid Liposarcoma. His blog is really good and because his diagnosis is so rare, when someone gets that, they probably turn to the internet to find out as much information as they can. He's also gotten involved with the support group down at Emory for Sarcoma patients: Southeastern Sarcoma Foundation. It's a great group of people and I think it's so important to plug in with others who have gone through the same thing. Dave takes it upon himself to personally respond to those that email him via his blog and I know he's helped out quite a few people thus far.

We're also coming up on the time of the year for Relay for Life! It was our first time going last year and both Dave and I truly were moved by the event and what the American Cancer Society is doing to raise money for research and awareness. Our church (Grace Fellowship Church) didn't have a team there last year, so I've asked to head up the team this year and am excited for this whole event. I'm putting a link in case anyone out there would like to make a donation on our truly is a good cause! Here's the link for our church's team:

Here's the link to my personal page:

Last year, the Relay for Life in our county alone raise $2.5 million dollars!! Awesome!! We actually live about 2 miles from the fairgrounds where the event takes place and it's a great family event to, mark your calendars now and come on out if you're in the Atlanta area! May 7th, 6:30 PM...and it goes ALL NIGHT LONG! I think I may have to scoot home though, I'm not much of a camper anymore!

I feel like I could go on and on about what's been happening, but I don't want to ramble. I'm just happy to know that we're being used to help others that are dealing with cancer now and have time to focus on our family and get back to "normal".

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Here's to a Happy 2010!!

Wow, where has the time gone? I can honestly ask that since the past month and a half have flown seems ever since I finished my treatment, time is just escaping me, scary isn't it?

I'd like to start by saying I'm sorry I didn't do this entry sooner to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! Ours was fun, the boys had a blast and we had a great visit with Dave's family. Yup, 17 of them here on Saturday! It was so nice though, to be healthy and enjoy everyone's company. The last time they were all here at our house was right before Dave started his chemo, over 16 months, this time it was nice that we all felt good and could just see how far we've come since they visited with us last!

I still can't believe that 2010 is just about a day and a half away...where did this last decade go? Oh my, so much has happened over the past 10 years, and we made it through pretty unscathed. Dave and I have SO MUCH to be thankful for and we don't take any of it for granted. It's mind boggling to process everything that has transpired, but at the same time, it's neat to see where we are now, who we are and how things have worked out. I know we've met some pretty awesome people, especially in the past year and a half, and I look forward to all those people that will be brought into our paths in the future.

I'll touch base via the blog every once and a while to keep you up-to-date. My next visit with the Oncologist is in March (after my next mammogram in February) so I know I'll put a post up before that...I don't want to take for granted the ability to write, put my thoughts down, have somewhere to share what my journey has been like. This blog has been very therapeutic and I'm thankful for this outlet.

I hope and pray that you all have a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year! God Bless!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Great News! (besides the kitchen being done!)

I'm adding these pictures so you can see our kitchen makeover...2 of the new and one of the old...but that's not the great news...keep reading!

Yes, it's been a while and I hope this finds all of you well. It's been about 3 1/2 weeks since I finished up with my Radiation and I cannot complain at all! So much to be thankful for this year, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner! Wow, this year has just FLOWN by, quicker than most for us!

Today I got results from a genetic test (BRAC analysis) and the results were NEGATIVE!! This is GYN suggested I have the test done since I've had Breast Cancer and I'm under 50 years old. Even though I don't have daughters, if the results were positive, it could affect my sister and Mom. Anyway, the tests shows if there is a genetic predisposition for cancer and if there'd be a chance for me to get ovarian or uterine cancer down the road. I was so relieved to hear that the results were negative, awesome, awesome, awesome!

Dave also had his 3-month CT scan today and everything looks GOOD!!! Thank God! Again, if you were to tell me a year ago of everything we would be going through, I would have said, "No WAY"...but I look back on it all and know that there's absolutely no way I could have made it through without God's grace and the support of all of you out there.

It's been interesting the last few weeks, getting out life back to a new "normal". I'm feeling better, more energetic, still sore and tight on my right side which I think I just need to accept that as how it'll be, but trying to get back to a life without cancer. One day at a time is still my mantra, focusing on my family and trying to get into a routine. It was actually easier for me to be disciplined and better organized when I was going through treatment, but don't worry, I'll get it figured out! I'm SO happy to have cancer behind me and look towards the future!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Do A Happy Dance with Me!!

Well, how do I describe how I feel? Elated, jumping with joy, ecstatic, my emotions are hard to contain right now to say the least! Today was my last radiation treatment and with that I say, "So Long Cancer!! And don't ever come back!!!"

Getting through the radiation was a snap. It got tedious just because of the disruption in my routine, but, besides that and some skin irritation, it wasn't bad at all. The folks that worked with me were wonderful so my parting today was bittersweet. It was great to have caring, nice people take care of me during my treatments, but I'm also glad I won't be seeing them on a daily basis.

So what happens now? Well, I follow up with my Radiation Oncologist in a month, to check out my skin and see how I feel. I see my Oncologist (in charge of the chemo), Dr. Landis, in February for a follow-up and I think that's about it. I'll have a bi-lateral mammogram done in February and I think every 6 months after that...we'll see what they tell me.

You know, after having Dave's cancer be diagnosed last July, his treatment from August through February, my diagnosis in February, our surgeries in March, my treatments from April until now, I haven't had a "normal" life in 15 months. So, I guess now I can get used to normal again...thank God! I'll probably go through some reflective, contemplative time about everything we've actually been through. It's pretty daunting to consider the implications of what we have endured and it's probably why I haven't taken the time to really dwell on it. I know with Dave I was in survival mode for so long and then when he finished his chemo, I was just starting to get my life back. Then, BAM, my diagnosis hit me in the face and that's what has consumed my thoughts and time until, now back to being a Mom, wife, friend, and just Me.

I don't know where to start to thank so many friends and family for all the support we've received during these past 15 months. I know for a fact that we couldn't have made it without our network of friends, neighbors, family and just everyone who has lifted us up in prayer, been there to physically meet our needs and just really cared about our family during this time. So, again, my Thanks to all of you, you are amazing and I'm blessed to know that so many people really do care and love us.

I'm honored to have you all in my life and thank God for each and every day that I can touch others like I've been touched. I know that our battles with cancer have made us stronger people, and also just truly appreciative of each and every day we are here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Time Flies....

I know, I'm bad...I see that when things are going along smoothly I go quiet. So, I'm thankful things are going smoothly! So far I've had 27 of my 33 radiation treatments which makes me more than 2/3 of the way through. My skin doesn't like it at all, I've got burn marks on my collar bone and the rest of the area is turning sunburned, but that doesn't surprise me with my fair skin. I do put aloe on it a few times a day, along with the prescription cream the doctor is having me use, so I know I'll get this part of my treatment behind me too! I am so looking forward to being done, done, done. At least the side effects of chemo are behind me (except for my chemo nails), and I'm even starting to get some hair. Big surprise, it's a lot of white and gray with a little dark stuff, but that's what some good hair color will be for in the future. We'll see...right now I'm going without the bandanas and scarves and that in and of itself is very liberating. Hopefully my hair growth will multiply exponentially soon so I'll have some wavy locks to brush...I'm just thankful it's coming back in! I actually think my eyelashes are starting to grow back too, thank goodness! I've done a good job giving myself some eyebrows with my eyebrow pencil, but eyelashes are hard to fill in! It's all good though, seriously. Except for being a bit worn out from the radiation, I can't complain at all.

Dave and I were able to go to Knoxville a few weeks ago to see his parents and 2 of his 3 sisters, Barbara and Diane. It was such a nice weekend (minus the rain) because we were celebrating Dave's birthday which was Sept. 24th and his dad's 80th birthday which was Sept. 30th. Birthdays definitely are worth celebrating, even though we are all getting older, but after dealing with cancer, you just appreciate them more. We had a wonderful time with Dave's family and it was a great break from our routine here, we're thankful to have been able to make the trip.

Dave and I are celebrating our 22nd wedding anniversary tomorrow (10/10). This year I'm making sure we go out on a real date and enjoy each other's company. Last year he was in the hospital receiving chemo, so, I think we need to celebrate extra this year. We've been through so much and I know it's brought us closer, made us stronger. I'm so thankful that Dave is doing o.k. and that my treatment is almost over also, we have a lot to celebrate. I'm not sure where we're going yet, but I know we'll have a good time wherever we end up going.
Well, I think I'm going to say that this is all for now. I'm hoping that we can put a picture up here of my hair that's growing's pretty exciting to have some hair back on my head! I'll keep updating those shots to show the progress of my new hair...part of getting my old life back!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's been a while...

Once again time has slipped past me, I cannot believe that it's been almost two weeks since my last entry. I do apologize to those of you who do check this on a regular basis, I know it's refreshing to see a new entry every once and a while.

So, radiation has been going pretty smoothly. It's so much easier than chemo. I think all the rain that we've had here in Georgia this past week hasn't helped me any. I was definitely in a funk yesterday, a hormonal roller coaster, all of which I think is normal and certainly deserved. I really just want to be done with all this. I'm over it. I want my hair back, my nails back, to have my entire days without a doctors' appointment or a radiation treatment, to feel like myself again, to just be done. Is that too much to ask? I'm trying to keep things as "normal" as possible around here, but do I really know what normal is anymore? Like my sister said a while back, get used to the "new normal". Hmm, I don't think I like that!

I went back to the gym this week to start lifting weights again. I've never really been in great shape, but oh my, I can tell it's been since March when I last lifted weights. UGH!!! I'll stick with it though and get back in the routine, that's the best thing I can do right now. I am glad I've kept up the walking this whole time, but strength training is so important too. I remember a long time ago, a guy at a gym I belonged to told me, "Muscles have memory"...hopefully mine will cooperate and bounce back in no time! It's ok though, at least I can work out and have the flexibility in my schedule to get back into it. My hope is that by the time the holidays roll around, I'll have hair and can tell I've been working out a few months! We shall see.

The radiation is going very smoothly though. My hats off to the staff, they are some really nice folks at the office where I go and make my treatments worth the trip. At this point, I have had 12 of 33 so I'm just over 1/3 of the way through. My final treatment date is Oct. 19th, believe me, I've marked my calendar! My skin is doing o.k. so far...I have aloe I'm treating it with and am sleeping extra when I can. They do say fatigue is a side effect and I've definitely noticed I can't do as much (which is very frustrating for me)...I'll get through this though so I'll give myself some slack for not getting all the "stuff" done that I should. Oh, to be all done will be a dream!
Well, it's a big football day in our household today, Florida Gators (my school) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (Dave's school)...what can I say? Goooooooo Gatorssssssss!!!!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Time for an Update!

Sorry it's been a while since I last made a post, I've been staying quite busy so that is good. Here's what's been going on since I last wrote...

Dave went to Costa Rica this past week on business. While he was gone, I went in for my Radiation Simulation on Monday..this is where they tattoo me, get me marked up with a Sharpie, line me up and get me ready for my upcoming Radiation. I then had my Port Removal surgery done on Tuesday and then started Radiation on Wednesday. On Tuesday, although the port removal was a simple procedure, it was not pain free. My surgeon told me I could drive myself to and from the appointment, but I'm glad my Mom came with me. All I can say is, "OUCHHHH!!!" He used a local anesthetic (or claimed to), but it was not a fun procedure. I'm just glad it is over and done with and out of me! The port was great to have during chemo, but since I didn't have any more need for it, I wanted it out!

Wednesday was my first Radiation appointment (of 33) and that is quite painless! I think like many have said that after going through chemo, the radiation will be a piece of cake. I get "zapped" from 3 different angles and the whole procedure takes about 10 minutes. No big deal, I'll just need to keep aloe on my skin since I am so fair and burn quite easily. They said that in about the third week that fatigue will probably kick in. I'm just glad I can rest and nap when I need to so, I'll get through it.

I was having nausea this week and figured out that it was from starting Tamoxifen. I read up on the side effects and it said that when starting on this "miracle drug", nausea can be a side effect at the beginning of treatment. I'll be on this for 5 years so I'm glad the nausea shouldn't be something permanent! This drug blocks the estrogen (which my type of breast cancer feeds off of), so it will help me not to have a recurrence. It also keeps me in chemically-induced menopause, so I continue to have hot flashes. I'm just dealing with them and taking off my bandana to keep cool! It goes with the territory so I won't complain although they are not the most fun thing to deal with. Such is life!

Well, not too much else is happening. Our kitchen remodel is just waiting on the painter to paint the walls, ceiling and cabinets, then we'll be all done! We're calling it our "Aflac Kitchen" since the Cancer policy has funded this project. For that I am thankful, it was about time!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Good News!!!

So, I saw Dr. Landis, my main Oncologist on Tuesday afternoon. He looked over everything, chatted a little, did an exam and at the end told me, "I'll see you in 6 months!" Woo hoo, music to my ears! Don't get me wrong, excellent doctor, excellent staff, just not a place I want to be at every 3 weeks! I was so happy to check out of there! I got my pink Breast Cancer Awareness magnet for the back of my car...kind of like a graduation present! (Although it cost me $5, it's for a good cause!)

Yesterday, I had 2 appointments and believe me, by the end of the day I was exhausted. The first was with the Radiation Oncologist to line me up and mark me for my upcoming Radiation. After that, I drove about 30 minutes away for my Diagnostic Mammogram. Everything was clear!! Yay!! All the torture of chemo worked. I can't believe that 6 months has gone by since my mammogram in February when I was diagnosed. I'd say, "Time flies when you're having fun", but, I gotta be honest and say I wasn't having a whole lot of fun these last 6 months (there were some good moments)...suffice it to say, I was happy to get a clean report and know that I've got 6 more months until my next mammogram!

I also went to the surgeon's office today and got my port removal procedure scheduled for next Tuesday. Both my Oncologist and Radiation Oncologist said that I have no need for the port anymore and that it's fine to come out. Good riddance I say! I was happy to have it in there for the chemo but I am over and done with that now so get that port out of me!!

Well, that's about all for now...we're focusing on our kitchen remodeling which has been a great diversion. It's good to have something to look forward to and I know we'll like having this project completed!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Appointments

Well, I thought I should do an update here since it's been a while. Today marks 3 weeks from my last chemo round and I'm so happy because I'm NOT getting chemo today!!! Yep, since April 21st, every three weeks I was getting chemo. But, I do go in to see my Oncologist this afternoon. I'll do an update to let you know how the appointment goes. I'm not really sure of what to expect, hopefully he'll tell me I can get my port out soon, we shall see.

Tomorrow, I go to my Radiation Oncologist's office for my CT scan. I believe this is the beginning of my radiation treatment. I know he said they'll mark me (I guess with a Sharpie or something) and then schedule the Simulation, etc. I'll update you more on that too, when I know more. Seems like a lot of doctor's appointments to go to and will know a lot more afterwards. I also have a Diagnostic Mammogram set up for tomorrow afternoon. I can't believe it's already been 6 months since this all started. Actually I can believe it, it seems like time has stood still, at least for my bald head. My hair is just not coming in like I was hoping, but I need to be patient. Now that no more chemo is getting pumped into me, my hair (and nails) will get a chance to grow back in like they should. My eyelashes are still with me, but my eyebrows are quite sparse. Thank goodness for eyebrow pencil!!! I think makeup is KEY to a woman who has no hair and is losing what little she does have on her face (eyebrows to be exact). Anyway, all I know is I look a heck of a lot better with my makeup on than off!

Well, that's all for now. I'm feeling GREAT thank goodness. It definitely took me a lot longer to feel normal after this last round of chemo, but that's o.k., at least it's all done! I'll follow up after my appointments these next two days to let you know what the good doctors have to say!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Met with the Radiation Oncologist

Well, I'm almost 2 weeks out since my last chemo. It's been interesting, mentally I'm great, knowing that the chemo is behind me is such a relief. My body on the other hand, is experiencing the effects of chemo and I just want that behind me too! I have to remind myself that the effects are cumulative and give myself a break. The nausea has lasted a lot longer than the previous rounds and my feet and ankles have been swollen which is another side effect. I still get tired pretty easily so I'm trying to rest up when I can...I'm getting better every day though and know that the yuckiness of chemo will be behind me soon.

I met with Dr. Gargus, my Radiation Oncologist this past Thursday. He's got me coming back on 8/26 for my CT scan at 11:00 AM. They'll do some preliminary markings to get me set up for my Radiation. At 1:00 PM that same day, I have a Diagnostic Mammogram and see how things look. Oh well, good to get it all done and know how things are going! Going to all these doctors appointments isn't always fun, but it comes with the package. I'm thankful that I don't work right now and can do these while the boys are at school. Knowing that I'll be going through 33 rounds of radiation is just something that will be part of my schedule for 6- 1/2 weeks. Just a blip on the radar though and hopefully will fly by without any problems.

We're staying busy with our kitchen remodel and getting the kids back in their school routine. I'm grateful for so many friends that have been supporting me and know that without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. Some friends from church got together last Tuesday for a "No More Chemo" celebration. It was so nice to get together with friends and just celebrate the fact that part of my treatment being done. I certainly hope we'll have many celebrations. Life to too short not to enjoy these special moments and so, I will be looking forward to many more gatherings!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Woo Hoo! Let's Celebrate!!!

So, how can I say this and really get my true feelings across? I am soooooooo excited and thankful to be where I am RIGHT NOW in time....I just can't put it into words. I almost broke down in tears this morning while on my walk, just so thankful to know I am officially DONE with chemo. To know that my body is now healing and I am feeling better, to have that yucky phase behind me. I'm overwhelmed with the enormity of what it means to be done with my chemotherapy. What a year! Dave and I had a toast last night (with a Mimosa), and it was just so symbolic. To put this past year behind us and get on with the future. Live is so worth celebrating and we need to enjoy and appreciate each and every single minute we have. We need to laugh, breathe, enjoy our family, friends and loved ones and grasp hold of each special situation we are in. Again, I just don't feel like I'm able to put my thoughts into words, I'm inadequate here, but I hope I'm conveying what is in my heart.

I can't tell you how happy I was to leave the oncologist's office this past Tuesday. The nurses and staff were wonderful, I even baked them a treat to say, "Thanks for taking care of me and all the patients". They appreciated that and I appreciated being able to show my gratitude. My "Hello Dollies" are a great way to say "Thanks!" They gave me a "Purple Heart Award" certificate when I finished up my chemo and all the other patients clapped and said "Congratulations". I appreciated this, but at the same time felt a tug at my heart knowing that some of these patients will continue on with their treatments or may not have the same prognosis that I have. Going through cancer definitely opens your eyes to the trials other people face and makes you appreciate the hurdles you are able to overcome.

So, my mom and I got into her car after leaving the doctor's office. I just totally broke down in tears. The enormity of what I had just finished hit me and I was so relieved that it was over. I never, ever want to go through something like that again. So many have told me how well I am doing through all this, but sometimes I don't know how I've made it. Going through Dave's cancer was hard enough and then to get diagnosed myself on top of that was just almost too much for me to handle. I know for certain that it has been the prayers of so many and only by God's grace that I have been able to endure this.

My boys only made it 1/2 way through their week at spend-the-night camp. It was a lot to expect them to be there the whole time, but we're proud of them for sticking it out. Our oldest son, Bryce, has Asperger's (a mild form of Autism) and I think that presented a challenge to the staff, especially knowing I was going through my last chemo round. The boys had fun, but throw the ramifications of everything we're going through, they made it as long as they could. Dave was able to pick them up Wednesday and to be honest, we were glad to have them home. This gives us time to get them back on a schedule and ready to start back to school on a good note (this coming Monday). I somehow mustered the strength to take them to school to meet their teachers on Thursday and I know they enjoyed seeing everyone. Part of me is so glad the summer break is over (because my chemo is over!), but at the same time I'm sad it went by so fast!

Well, we're on to remodeling our kitchen now which is a great diversion for me! I'm excited to update and get new "stuff" and it's sad to say, but if it weren't for Aflac paying us during our cancer treatment, I don't know if we could have done this. I certainly look at it as another silver lining of our journey and am looking forward to the finished project!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

My 6th and FINAL chemo round is tomorrow!!!!

So, I have been doing absolutely great and keeping way too busy since my last blog entry. But like I've said many times before, "No news is good news!" I'm so psyched that tomorrow is almost here to go to my last chemo infusion. At the same time, I'm soooooo tired (really did too many errands today), but that's o.k., at least I have the time and energy.

I think the main reason I'm tired though is that we sent Bryce & Kyle to spend-the-night camp (for the kids whose parents have cancer), but we got a call at 1:35 AM because Bryce was getting bitten by mosquitoes and was too hot to sleep and had been crying for an hour and a half. We talked with him and told him we couldn't come up right then and there to pick him up and that he had to figure out a way to deal with this. I also told him, "It's a once in a lifetime experience and you have to make the most of it." This REALLY stuck with him and the counselors called us today to discuss everything and said after that phone call, he really re-grouped and did o.k. So, we're all on the same page and hoping he can have a REALLY good camp experience and enjoy this week away. We definitely would go get him if we needed to, but we really want him to try to make the most of it. I'm going to be sure to send everyone a huge Thank You note afterwards and how well the staff has handled this situation in dealing with both Bryce and our situation. They all know tomorrow is my last chemo and we all want it to be a celebratory occasion and seeing it as an end to my "fight" and that things are going well and it's a time to be happy! My radiation (33 rounds) should start in about 3 weeks...but I believe that'll be a piece of cake compared to my chemo...

So, I have mixed feelings about tomorrow. I know it's going to be the "same ol', same ol'" where I'll feel cruddy at the end of the week but also, I'm elated to know it's my LAST round of chemo. I have made the 7-layer bars for my nurses who have been awesome during my entire treatment. Heck, I may even give one to Dr. Landis...he deserves a sweet treat too!

I do owe so many thanks to all of you who have been supporting me through encouragement, prayers, meeting physical needs by providing meals for me and my's overwhelming to have experienced the kindness and generosity of so many people for a whole ENTIRE year now. I think I've mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating...tomorrow, Aug. 4th is so significant for us...first of all, it's our nephew's birthday. Happy Birthday Zach! He's serving in the Navy and is in the Persian Gulf right now so, we wish him a very happy day, on board ship! If my chemo'd brain serves me correctly, I believe he's turning, that's amazing right there. Next significant thing about tomorrow is that it marks One Year from when Dave was admitted for his first intensive chemo infusion at Crawford Long...and what a year it has been. And now, for me, it marks the END of my chemo treatment. Exactly one year to the day from when Dave started his chemo. I know it's a year we hope we'll never have to repeat, but, again, we could NOT have made it through without your prayers, support, encouragement and friendship. Thank You sooooooo much!!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just Thought I'd Catch Up...

So, this isn't really about Breast Cancer, or chemo, but it's been a while since I've made a post and I figured I'd write to say how things are going. Things for me have definitely been on the upswing since my last post, thank goodness. I know that since my 6th and final chemo is about 5 days away, the psychological effect is knowing it's almost over is just brightening every day. At the same time, I have a bit of anxiety, just knowing the chemo will be pumped in me one last time, but I can get through it and the end is in sight.

Keeping busy through all this is key, and man, we've been busy. This past weekend we went to the Sarcoma Awareness Walk at Piedmont Park which was a very inspirational event. For Dave and myself, it was great seeing his 3 doctors, different nurses and PA's and a slew of cancer survivors and some still in treatment. Last year, about 60 attended the event and this year they had 120. They met their goal of doubling in numbers and hopefully, next year, they can double again. Since I've been going through treatment, I had "kind of" forgotten a lot of what Dave had gone through, but this event really made me realize all that he did go through to fight his Liposarcoma and how incredibly blessed we were that it was as "simple" as it was. No, it was not easy, no, it was not fun AT ALL, but, seeing other patients who have had amputations, or recurrence, or are STILL in treatment, made us realize that God blessed us in getting Dave through his cancer in an amazing way. We're still keeping an eye on him and praying for no recurrence (his next CT scan is Aug. 11th), but we can't worry about the future and we know that through God's grace and provision, we'll be able to get through whatever comes our way.

The rest of the weekend was spent with family which was fun. We went to dinner with my oldest brother, Ed, who was coming through town to pick up Mom for a trip to Ft. Lauderdale. One of our dear family friends of over 48 years had passed away, so they went down for his funeral. I really wished I could have gone, but with everything going on here, we decided it was best I stay put. Even though I feel great and my levels are o.k., it would just be a hard trip and I'd be around lots of people (and foreign germs) which I don't need to expose myself to these days. It stinks, but I know everyone understands.

Sunday, we took the boys up to see Camp Toccoa where they'll be going this coming Sunday for their spend-the-night camp. They are both so excited which is so encouraging to us. I hope it'll be a great way to end their Summer break. The camp is called Camp Kesem and it's for children whose parents have had (or have) cancer. I know I've mentioned it before so I won't expound on this. Anyway, we visited a Museum, have a great lunch of Southern cooking and enjoyed our time as a family.

So, with this I'll close for now. I'll be spending the next few days getting the kids ready for their camp and for my last chemo round. On Tuesday, I'll be the patient whooping it up and dancing around the infusion room celebrating my last day there (I'll try to contain myself for the sake of the other patients), but I think you know what I mean. God has been so good to me to get me through all this with little or no complications and I know that only by His Grace, I am able to endure what's been placed in my path.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Worst is Behind Me!

First of all, I want to say "Thank You " for all your prayers, encouragement and support. I'm doing the proverbial knocking on wood as I type this to say that Round 5 definitely went as smoothly as Round 4 and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I really only had one day (Thursday) where I felt lousy, but it was mainly from the bone pain brought on by the Neulasta shot. So many people have told me how "good I look" and "I have a sparkle in my eye"...I tell them that I think I'm the healthiest chemo patient in Gwinnett Co. But that is so awesome! I know it's because I have hundreds of people praying and God has been faithful and amazing in letting me get through chemo with little to no complications.

Knowing that my last Round is just a few weeks away is so freeing. I can envision dancing around saying, "Whoo hoo, it's over!!!" I'd say that this has been the hardest thing I've been through, but to be honest, it was so much harder for me to see my husband, Dave, go through the intensive chemo he went through and the toll it took on him physically and mentally. Ugh, that was by far the worst thing we've ever had to endure in our 21+ years of marriage. With this week being Sarcoma Awareness Week, my hats (or should I say scarves) go off to all the Sarcoma patients out there that have had to endure countless rounds of chemotherapy, numerous surgeries, too many to count CT/PET scans and the like. Sarcomas are so rare and aggressive and yet are so unheard of. When I mention to people about Dave's Liposarcoma, they honestly say that they've never heard of such a thing. Well, I hope that many people become aware of Sarcomas and the funding is appropriated for research to conquer that nasty beast of cancer. The treatment has to be so aggressive because the cancer is and the chances of recurrences are so great, especially in the lungs and the liver. So, my scarves off to all you Sarcoma patients! I hope that somehow, the Liddy Shriver Initiative will be to Sarcomas as the Susan G. Komen Fund is to Breast Cancer!

Well, I think this will be about it for now. I am feeling fine, not great yet, but definitely fine! :-) I'm back to walking at our Park, taking the boys to their swim lessons and getting back into a normal schedule. Again, my thanks to all of you for your amazing, continued support! It's been one long journey and I couldn't make it without you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

So Far, So Good? Jury is still out...

Well, I must say that I am just relieved to have Round 5 infused and I can officially say that I have one Round left. What a huge milestone! I know I keep saying this, but I truly can't wait to get through this chemo and just be done with it!

I am hanging in there. I'm taking the Claritin and hoping that the bone pain will subside in the next day or two. It's just weird. I got the Neulasta shot at 2:00 PM yesterday and by 8:00 PM, my cheekbones, ribs, jaw bones, and many other bones hurt. We know the shot is working, that is the main thing.

The boys have been enjoying their day camp this week and I'm thankful they are doing it! Bryce is racing his Soap Box Derby car tomorrow and Kyle will be launching his rocket. I don't know if I will make it or not, all depends on how I do tonight, but I know they've had a great time at the camp and for that I am thankful.

Well, here's to hoping that this round goes as smoothly as Round 4 did, we shall see. I can only hope that it does and in a few days I'll be writing that I've "turned the corner" and everything is good!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Been Quite Busy, Gearing up for Round 5

As I have said before with doing the blog, no news is good news. It's been 10 days since my last post and that is good. I've been staying busy with the kids, enjoying the "good days" and not thinking too much about the upcoming chemo. You know what? I am so pumped to get the next 2 rounds over and done with, I can't wait for it to get here. I can see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and know that my chemo is going to be over with before I know it. Round 4 went pretty smoothly and I can only hope that the next 2 Rounds will be as uneventful. I did try Claritin again and I actually think it helped since I only needed to take Lortab for one day to ease the bone pain! That was awesome. I can handle anti-nausea meds for about a week and one day of Lortab...easy, peasey, pumpkin squeezy!

I do think so much of this whole cancer journey is mental. I know that although Round 3 was my 1/2-way point, it still seemed like forever until the end. I was just absolutely miserable and I'm hoping and praying that will be remembered as my worst Round. Right now I can envision saying (after Round 5) that I only have 1 more seems so close and around the corner...I know I can make it and I will!

I did get in to see a few doctors these last two weeks and I'm so glad I did. I saw my Dermatologist to help me with the itchy skin and bumps I was dealing with. That was such a good move, they put me on a prescribed lotion to ease the itching and it worked! The red spots are gone and I'm not digging, clawing, tearing up my skin anymore! There was a definite correlation between the areas of skin I was itching at and what was exposed to the, I've been using sunscreen, wearing shirts that cover more up and staying out of the direct sunlight when I can. I'm so glad to have that under control, it was a real nuisance.

The other doctor I saw last week was my Podiatrist. Here's what happened...after Round 4, I noticed my fingernails feeling quite numb. Neuropathy is a definite side effect and some chemo patients lose their fingernails and toenails. Gross, huh? I started using a lot of lotion before bed, hoping to moisturize the heck out of my nails and to prevent losing them. Well, I also noticed my big toenail on my left foot throbbing. Not good, nor was the fact that it was red all around the nail. Hmm, well, I took off my cute nail polish and noticed that my big toenail was 1/2 purple. So, I made the appointment with the Podiatrist and she said I probably jammed it somehow (I couldn't remember what I did to it), and she said the nail would probably come off on its own, but she recommended taking it off to avoid the risk of infection (especially with my immune system being compromised from the chemo), yes, I had the nail removed last Monday. Thank God she numbed it up good, I couldn't look at her removing it, but it's gone. I've faithfully been doing my "Hibiclens" soak, twice a day, 20 minutes each time. So, all that to say I'll be growing out my hair and my big toe nail at the same time!

Yes, I'll be going in for Round 5 on Tuesday, July 14th. Your prayers and words of encouragement are so appreciated still! We're so blessed with such a great support network and I know that is continuing to see us through this incredible journey.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy 4th of July Wishes!

Wow, it's hard to believe that this year is half-way over and here we are, about to celebrate the 4th of July. I'd ask the rhetorical, "where does the time go?" question, but we least I do. We are coming up on the year anniversary (July 15th) of when Dave was diagnosed. What a year! I NEVER would have imagined this for our lives, but, we're making it through...sometimes plodding through, but we're getting through, slowly but surely.

I've been feeling somewhat "normal" since Monday or so (it's Thursday) always, it's good to feel good again. And two more how about that? I'm so tickled I can hardly stand it! There was something psychological of getting through the 4th round that was empowering. I know the end is in sight and I can get there! It helped that I felt so much better this time and the chemo wasn't as hard on me as the last round. I did take the time to go to a dermatologist today to have my itchy, red, irritated skin looked at. It's definitely a combination of the chemo, my very sensitive, dry skin and the sun...not surprised. They've prescribed a lotion that should really help my skin and I'll do my darnedest to stay out of the sun or cover up and use sunscreen faithfully like the doctor suggested. Oh the joys!

We've been staying busy this week which is good. It's finally fun to have the boys home and enjoy the summer like it's meant to be. We've been at the park and pool almost every day and running lots of errands getting ready for the holiday weekend. We, for the first time in 6 or 7 years are NOT hosting a 4th of July gathering. Instead, we are going to 2 of them! That's the way I like it! Actually, we've had a lot of fun in the past cooking out, having our own fireworks show in the cul-de-sac and like being home, but, it'll be nice to bring some side dishes enjoy being with family and friends.

So, with this being said, I wish you all and Happy and Safe 4th of July!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Still hanging in there...

So, for whatever reason, I feel much better this time around than my last round. This is excellent news...but I don't want to jinx myself, so I'm not going to go on too much about it. I do think that the Claritin helped with my bone pain this time so I will continue to take it during my last 2 rounds. This round I took about 3 Lortab (total) which is great. I don't like how knocked out I get on Lortab so I really don't want to take them if I don't need to.

Yesterday, Dave & I went over to the new park near our house and walked. I did one lap (about 1.4 miles), but I was very happy with that. Dave did a second lap (which I usually do 2 - 3 laps), but I didn't want to push myself and it was starting to get hot. There's nothing worse than having hot flashes when you're walking and it's pushing 80 - 90 degrees outside. I know the walking is doing me good though and I will continue to do so, especially when I can get up and out when it's cooler (like at 6:30 in the morning). Crazy, crazy weather. I'm getting to be a softy this summer because I'm inside so much, but then I look around and so is everyone else! It's almost too hot to go to the pool! I'm not going into anything about global warming and whatnot, it's just plain hot here in Atlanta, that's all there is to it!

Well, I guess that is about it for now. Thank you for your continued support, I'm so glad that I'm on the downhill side of my chemo. I can handle one in July and my last in August! I'll be so happy to be done with this, you don't know! I guess it is helping me deal with this round knowing I'm more than 1/2 done! Yippee...whoo hoo and all that stuff! :-)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Round 4 Chemo is done....

Now to get through the next 6 days or's always the hardest part of the chemo round. Each day is different so you never know what to expect and it is certainly a roller coaster ride. Hopefully this round will be kinder to me and my body. I know I'm fortunate to only have to go through 6 rounds as I met a gal today, that had to go through 12 rounds. Wow, I can't imagine that and to make it worse, it was her 2nd time having to go through chemo. We each certainly have our own stories, she's a real neat lady and I hope she will be cancer-free from here on out.

Not too much else is news around here...the boys are in day camp again this week which helps me out a bunch. Bryce's group went tree climbing in downtown Atlanta (with harnesses and all), which he really enjoyed. Kyle's group is going to an Animal Safari in Pine Mountain on Friday, I'm sure he'll have a good time. It's been good for them to be busy and it allows me to have some rest time which is much appreciated during my "rough" weeks.
I'll write later when I have more to say....that's all for now!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day (and some other stuff)

Yes, it's Father's Day...I miss my Dad, he's been gone almost 5 years now (Aug. 11th), that's just hard to believe. We know we'll be reunited with him one day, but it's still a bummer knowing that he's not here with us anymore. The one thing we can be thankful for is that he's not suffering anymore...he really got the bum rap after his stroke, you never want to see anyone who was so full of life go through what he did. Oh well, I don't want to be sad today, because on the other hand, we're thankful that Dave is celebrating Father's Day. We're blessed with 2 healthy boys, sometimes a bit difficult, but after trying for 6 years to have kids, we know that they really are a blessing from God. Also, Dave's dad is 79 and in relatively good health, for which we are thankful too! He's a very neat man and I'm blessed he's been in my life for 22 years!

My week with the boys being gone was definitely refreshing. The boys loved their time with Grandma and at VBS, they really did enjoy themselves. I picked them up on Friday and I think they truly realized how much they missed us. Bryce was crying because he was so happy to see me and Kyle practically knocked me over when running up to hug me. Absence does make the heart grow fonder! Mom kept the boys busy and I think the break was good for the whole family. At first, it was so quiet around here, Dave and I didn't know what to do. Then we got used to it and now that the boys are home, it's never quiet! Also, I know where my time goes when they are the kitchen, picking up their stuff and doing laundry! Oh well, I can handle that, for sure! We're glad they had a good time and really did appreciate the time apart!

Yesterday (Saturday) the skin on my forearms (up to my elbows) and knees starting itching like crazy. Also, the skin on my neck got really itchy. Red little bumps popped up all over the place. I was going nuts and started taking Benadryl, using hydrocortisone cream and tried to get the itching to go away. I took an Aveno bath last night which helped a lot and then today put some ice packs on my arms which helped also. I thought it was some kind of heat rash or dry skin problem, but after Dave talked with Barbara, we found out it's actually a side effect of one of my chemo's, Taxotere. I can't wait to get this stuff out of my system and get back to "normal" if I ever truly will. Anyway, I will call the doctor's office tomorrow morning if it's still bothering me...what an annoyance! My skin is so fair I shouldn't be surprised, I just wasn't expecting this to pop up out of nowhere!

I am scheduled for Round #4 this coming Tuesday. I hope it isn't as hard as Round #3 was, that really was the pits. I'll just really be happy to be on the downhill side and it's reassuring to know I'm over halfway through!

Monday, June 15, 2009

No news is great news...

Yes, it's been a few days since I've done an update, but that's a good thing right now. Thank goodness I have 2 weeks where I feel good again before I go back for my next chemo. I'm scheduled to go in every 3 weeks so, next Tuesday is Round #4...whoo hoo, at least I'm on the downhill side of chemo! I have never wanted anything to be done and over with in my whole life as I want to get through my chemo. It's just the pits and I hate feeling lousy...actually, I've never met anyone who likes feeling like they have the flu. Did I mention the salty, metalic taste that I've had this's just nasty. I feel like I have a constant salty taste in my mouth, and right now it's not as bad as it was right after the chemo. Oh well, I know it'll go away, eventually when I'm all done with this. Like I said, I just want to be done with it!

We've been staying busy around here with the boys and enjoying summer. I am trying to do things that are fun with the kids when I'm feeling good. Actually, my mom has given us a reprieve this week by having the boys spend the week with her and they are going to Vacation Bible School (VBS) at her church. They spent a few nights with her last summer, but this time they are gone for 5 nights. Wow, what a break! They were looking forward to spending the week with "Grammy" as Bryce has nick-named her, so it's good all the way around. The house is sooooo quiet! Oh well, I will try to get some things done this week as well as rest a little. I do feel good though, so I want to get some things done as well as getting out and exercising.

We're so excited about a new County Park that has opened less than 1 1/2 miles from our house! We took the boys there this weekend and I went this morning also to go walk/jogging. The park is beautiful and I know we will make such good use of it. The boys loved taking their scooters there while Dave and I walked. Dave is going to get set of Frisbee golf discs (Happy Father's Day!) and put them to good use. Our county is known nationally for their awesome parks, so we are very fortunate to have one so close by.

Speaking of Father's Day, wow, that just hit home. We went to Knoxville last year on Father's Day to see Dave's dad and his sister, Barbara. It was at that time that she and his mom encouraged Dave to get his leg (big muscle) checked out when we got home. I can't believe everything we've been through this past year. Well, we're just going to keep on, keeping on, one day at a time! So much has happened in this past year that we ever could have imagined. OK, sorry for the rabbit trail! I'm going to close for now...gotta get some stuff done while I've got the opportunity!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Feeling Better All the Time

Thank goodness for counts coming back up and my body feeling better again! Round 3 so far has definitely been my hardest, but it's done and I'm on the mend. It's amazing what 24 hours can even be like when going through treatment for cancer. I do think that the cumulative effect of chemo will make it harder each time, but there could so many other variables in how one's body responds. So, with that being said, I'm back on the upswing and so thankful to be feeling good again!

I must say, for me, cancer has taught me to be introspective. Before, I never would have taken the time to do a journal, let alone think of blogging. I know for a fact that God has a plan for me and I'm just waiting to see how it all unfolds. Each day though, someone new is introduced to me which is awesome. I think because I'm a "cancer patient" right now, I draw attention to myself that otherwise, I'd just go around and never be noticed. I always smile and try to be friendly, but it's sweet how people just take the time to do the "extra" stuff for me...there are a lot of nice people out there, really. People are just more sensitive than I ever could have imagined, so maybe it is just giving me a chance to see the world through a different pair of glasses. Yesterday, I was at Wal-mart (seems like I go there too much), but anyway, I was making a return and the Greeter lady just starts talking to me like I was having a cup of coffee with her. First she asked me how I was doing, where I was in my treatment, then she starts to tell me about her husband and how he faired through his battle with cancer. Cancer is life changing, but again, it's for a good reason.

I'm so happy that I'm doing better, it's scary to feel so down and out, but once my counts are back up, it's nice to feel almost "normal" again. I went out for my walk/jog this morning, even that is so nice, to feel strong enough to jog a little. Exercise is so key for me and I'm thankful I was in a good place in my life when my cancer hit. Because of Dave's cancer, I made it a point to walk (and eventually walk/jog) 5 times a week. It helped me so much, just getting outside for at least 30 minutes a day. I'd put on my headset and just go...the sun, the serotonin, fresh air was so therapeutic for me. I have had a history and family background of having a problem with turning to food for solace and being overweight. I didn't want to undo the good I had been doing with Weight Watchers last year when Dave was diagnosed. So, I kept up my exercising and it was just such a healthy way to deal with the stress. When I got diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I eased up on myself a bit and "unjoined" Weight Watchers as I didn't want to worry about my weight, the actual number on the scale and not knowing how I'd respond to chemo and all. But, I also told myself that I'd deal with my treatment the best I could and exercise when I felt my body would tolerate it. I usually don't go out the day after my infusion or the few days following. Hmm, let's see...I went out last Tuesday morning, the day of my infusion. Then I went out for a short walk on Thursday and Friday. The weekend was out of the question. I was feeling better on Monday and went out for a good walk and took yesterday off. This morning, I was out early, feeling strong and had a great time. I know that studies have been done that show exercise is beneficial for people going through chemo. How could it not be? Just the fact that you're exercising is good! For me, I'm so glad I had started this before either of us were diagnosed and I'm thankful to be able to continue my regime even while undergoing chemo. I hope to be in better shape after chemo than before I was diagnosed. How's that for a goal? :-) I've got a busy day planned with the boys so that's all for now!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Update on Round 3

Well, it's been a while since I've done a post so I figured I'd catch everyone up on how things are going. Suffice it to say, it gets harder with each round. I'm six days out right now and still feel kind of crummy. I had a really rough time early Saturday morning, almost to where I wanted Dave to take me to the E/R. I think my white counts were at their lowest then and I could just feel every ache and pain inside me times 100. It was just horrible, I don't want to go into details, but trust me, I could feel everything happening inside me and it felt like my insides were on it's Monday night and I'm still not back to feeling "normal"...I can't wait to feel normal again.

Although I'm half-way through with my chemo, I feel like everything is hitting me at once. Maybe I've suppressed some of my feelings, but I just had a pity party this time around. I want my hair back, I'm tired of cancer, of being the "family with cancer", of just not being normal. My sister put it this way, "Get used to your new normal". Well, I want the old normal back. I guess we'll never have the old normal. After getting diagnosed with cancer and dealing with it, going through the treatments and living with the scars of it, life will never be like it used to be. I know that we'll get through this, I'm just so ready for it to be over.

It's ok for me to feel like this, it's got to be...dealing with all the emotions is just exhausting and I wish I didn't have to process all of this. I need to though, to work through it and understand how I can be a better person because of it. I do know for a fact that so many people care for us, are praying for us and that we've got great friends, family and neighbors. Also, it could be a lot worse. Dave and I often remind ourselves, although our situation is not "normal", we're fortunate in that either of our cancers could have been so much worse. There are so many people that aren't as lucky as we are, to have insurance, a company that supports and believes in us and cares about us, to have doctors that are awesome available to us, that we're going to be SURVIVORS and that we're making it through our treatments rather unscathed.

I still don't know how Dave made it through the chemo that he went through. I get a fraction of the amount he'd receive and I feel like crap. I know he had some rough times, but really, I don't know how he made it through. I just truly hope and pray that a cure for cancer can be found during our lifetime that won't require chemo. Chemo just plain stinks...I wouldn't wish it on anybody...ever.

So, I guess getting this stuff "out on the table" is good for the soul. I know I'm on the upswing and look forward to the days that I don't have "tummy troubles". I look forward to feeling good again and have my wits about me. Chemo-brain and chemical-induced menopause aren't a good match...aye yae yae, good thing I have 3 guys in my house that love me a lot! Well, that's all for now...take care.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Short and sweet

Just wanted to let you know that the Claritin doesn't work on me. Last night, about an hour after I finished my other post, my jaw, sinuses, back, ribs, arms, just about any bone I have, started to hurt. Like Dave said this morning though, at least we know the Neulasta is working! I will keep trying the Claritin, but I'm also using the Lortab...whatever it takes. That's it for now!