An Unexpected Journey

IBC SURVIVOR – MY STORY

The End of Christmas Break January 3, 2012

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Yesterday was the last day of my son’s Christmas break.  It was wonderful having him at home.  Now that he is older (11), he can easily play card games and board games with my husband and I.  Rummikub is one of our favorites.  As we talked, laughed and played I was highly aware that this is what makes life special…sharing time with those you love.  All the Christmas gifts are great, but what my son will truly remember is our experiences together.   Time is a very precious gift.  Something all cancer survivors realize from their journey.

I just noticed today my natural breast is now larger than my prosthesis (breast form).  Yay.  (Yes, I am being sarcastic. ha ha.)  You would think I would have realized this sooner.  Anyway, I better get to working off the weight quick.  I really don’t want to go up a size, even though it is time for me to have another fitting.  My husband has new insurance this year, so I guess I need to see if they will pay for some mastectomey supplies too.  It really helps with expenses.

The snow looks pretty this morning, but it is so cold.  Burr!  Our first snow of the winter.  I am thinking I should wait till later in the day to go walking.  I’m not used to the cold yet.

I hope you all are having a great start to the new year.  For those going through treatment, I pray all is going well.  God bless.

 

Seclusion December 23, 2011

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Surprise!  I’m actually posting. ha ha  I know it seems like I have dropped off the face of the earth, because I haven’t posted in so long.  I tend to withdrawal when I’m not feeling well about myself.  Most people post happy, I’m-on-top-of-the-world type blog entries and in my world…that doesn’t happen often.

My sleeping schedule has changed because my hubby works nights and sleeps days.  Then my son of course is on a regular schedule.  I have to take care of him too.  My body has finally picked the night schedule, so when I’m up during the day I am sleepy…and grumpy.  This does not fit a healthy lifestyle.  I eat late and have ceased exercising.  Thus the pounds have packed on profusely.  I no longer need to lose a few pounds.  I need to lose weight equal to my 11 year old boy’s total weight or more!  I felt like crying at my last weighing at the doctor’s office.

I try not to think about how bad I look.  When I am at home it is a lot easier.  I enjoy life and the time with son.  It’s when I have to go out into the world that I struggle most.  Trying to find something to wear that makes me look good is impossible.  Too many bulges.  Who is that fat woman in the mirror?  Why does everyone else look so thin and beautiful?

And I have noticed that people don’t often look at me the same.  A few times this month I sat in a school or church setting and watched people move around me talking.  Then they do a oh-I didn’t-see-you-there look and say hello.  Makes me wish I could just stay invisible.

On the bright side, I am enjoying Christmas break with my son.  He is so sweet spirited and fun to be with.  I realize these years of his childhood are precious and I love every minute of it.  I am blessed to be alive, so that I can be here for him.  Thank you Jesus!

 

Just Me August 24, 2011

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I helped with the children’s ministry at church tonight.   It’s the beginning of the fall session and I will be leading one of the stations when they start in a couple weeks.  I did that a few years ago, but had to drop out because I felt so fatigued from radiation. 

It felt really good to have a few hours to forget about doctors, tests, medical bills, regular bills, and being a breast cancer survivor.  When you have your eyes on a group of kids, you don’t have time to worry about those things.  Plus you get to see those joyous faces.  Kids try to have fun wherever they are.

Now as I write this I am thinking of all you ladies (and guys) who are undergoing treatment right now.  My heart goes out to you as you struggle to get through each day and to reach that last chemo treatment or that last radiation treatment.  You are so strong in spirit and you are my hero.  God bless you all.

 

A Kind Word August 22, 2011

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Fawn in a friend’s backyard

I had a nice surprise in my Facebook inbox yesterday. Someone in my family whom I had lost close contact with, sent me a quick thank you message.

Growing up, she and I were close. I was often at her house on the weekends or she was at mine. When she went away to college, I greatly missed her friendship. We wrote letters to each other to keep in touch. (These were the days before texting, emails and cell phones everywhere.) 

After each of us got married, we just seemed to drift off into our own worlds.  Now this relative is sending her daughter off to college and was reflecting back to her college days. This prompted her to send me the thank you note for writing her all those years ago.  Back then, letters from home gave her comfort and support to get through some tough times. I had completely forgotten about writing her, but it was something that meant a lot to her.

Isn’t it wonderful what a kind gesture can do for you? I didn’t realize I had made a difference in her day, but thankfully it did. Now she has brightened my day by taking time to let me know how much she appreciated it.  It helps motivate me to keep  doing little things for others.  We have the opportunity every day to do something kind for others.  It’s the love behind it, that makes a difference. God’s love is a wonderful thing.

Proverbs 12:25

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

TODAY’S PHOTO:  My friend Angie sends me photos from time to time that she thinks I will enjoy.  This is one of them.  Thought you might enjoy it too.  🙂

 

O’ Ye Of Little Faith August 19, 2011

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I made my way to an appointment with Dr. Sunshine with dread.  Some of you may remember my radiation oncologist from a couple of my past posts.  We usually go round and round over something.  I remind myself before I go into the patient room to remain calm and not get my feathers ruffled.  We’ll see.

He does a very quick exam and begins ordering a PET.  I took a stance (so to speak) and told him it was fine as long as my insurance will pay.  Maybe it is the way he thinks he is in control that irks me so bad.  As a patient, we sometimes forget that it is our decision whether we take their advice or not.  Or is it that the doctor forgets that it is the patient’s decision?

He also informs me he is ordering a mammogram.  I already had one this year.  He tells the nurse to get the paperwork ready for the orders and hustles out of the room.  I sat there dumbstruck.  I just argued with him earlier this year over the additional mammogram.  My medical oncologist and my breast surgeon, recommend the once a year mammogram.  Okay, so how will I handle this?  Just not show up for the mammogram?  After they schedule it, call and cancel it?  Or do I confront him yet again?

Round two….fight!  I see him in the hall and tell him I had a mammogram in March.  But I need one every six months he says.  I rebut with the fact that I don’t want to expose myself to so many tests that it creates what I’m trying to avoid.  Then he starts the usual list of… you’re young, pre-menopausal, high risk group and his favorite phrase…aggressive cancer.  He also adds another personal blow (one of these days I will share this part of my BC experience) in hopes of a TKO.  I laugh off his blow and couldn’t stop from saying “you need to have a little faith.”  “I don’t have cancer.  I’m healed.”  There…at least I finally said what I have waiting since 2009 to say.  He’s a Christian, so I don’t feel I overstepped my bounds.  I believe in faith.  What a wonderful doctor he could be if he had assurance himself in healing.   I pray he will begin looking for the good report and not the bad.  And yes, for now, I am scheduled in October for a mammogram.  But I will take the fall, because it is worth it to see God’s works shown in this match.

Psalm 118:17

“I will not die, but live, And tell of the works of the LORD.”

 

Paradise in Everyday Life July 12, 2011

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One of my friends has allowed me to use some of her gorgeous images from Hawaii.  She just returned from her vacation trip a few days ago.  I don’t think it’s possible to take bad pictures there.  Every scene looks prettier than the next.

I know I’m not in Hawaii, but there’s a little bit of paradise in every negative pathology report.  Got a call today from my gynecologist with the good news.  The tissue she sent off from the D & C on the 5th is all normal!  Hooray!  No uterine cancer.  🙂

I wasn’t having early warning signs, but my doctor said things looked odd and wanted to make sure all okay.  Now I can put that to rest for another year or so, unless there’s anything abnormal.

I was wondering if there is anyone out there who kept their port after chemo?  I still haven’t had mine removed.  One of my friends kept his port.  He recommended it.   I don’t know what to do. 

Part of me says to get that thing out of there so I can rid myself of the cancer patient mentality.  I am finished with treatment except for Tamoxifen, but my brain doesn’t forget how it feels to struggle with the big C.  I need to focus more on my Healing than on the sickness I had.

Another part of me thinks I should keep it.  (And no, I don’t hear voices. ha ha!)  What if  I ever need to go into the hospital and they can’t get a vein?  My veins are not the best in the world.  The nurses had trouble finding good ones to get me through TCH.  I HAD to have a port for the remainder of my Herceptin treatments.

All my contrasts for tests and IV’s for other procedures have gone through the same vein in my good arm (right arm).  So losing the port wouldn’t effect that.

Then there’s the matter of yet another procedure.  UGH!  And someone told me they woke up during their procedure!  EEK!!  Mine would be at the same local hospital and I would have the same surgeon as she.  My mastectomy in 2009 was done by a different surgeon and was at a hospital in a bigger city. 

I know, I know.   I shouldn’t complain.  So many people are going through more difficult circumstances than I am and here I am struggling with a simple outpatient procedure.

I think I will browse more Hawaii pictures and imagine what it would feel like to be there.  I marvel at God’s beautiful creation.

 

Half Off Sale June 29, 2011

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bandeaubathingsuits.org

Yesterday I was reading a Living Beyond Breast Cancer article in the Insight newsletter (here’s the link if you are interested http://www.lbbc.org/About-LBBC/LBBC-Newsletter-and-Publication-Archive/National-Newsletter/Insight-Spring-2011 ).  It addresses the need for physical rehabilitation for some after surgery.   Most people, including myself, aren’t educated on affects of surgery beforehand.  Learning to recognize signs of needed physical rehabilitation can help patients recover much sooner.

One lady was telling of her simple joy of being able to dress without help.  Boy, I can sympathize with her.  I had to choose my wardrobe carefully for a long time because I couldn’t raise one arm up high enough.  As I read her comments, I remembered my most recent “wrestle” at a local department store.

Last week I was looking for a swimsuit so I could go swimming with my son.   I couldn’t find the size I needed, but the bargain was so great I decided to try other sizes.  The next size up just made me look like a beached whale.  So I go for my favorite suit in the dressing room that is one size down.  My excitement increased as I pulled the top over my chest.   “Hey. Not bad.”, I whispered to myself.  And it will match the black boy cut shorts I want to buy.  I felt a temporary lift in my low self-esteem as I smiled at my reflection.

Then came the self image crash.  I was pulling up the top as best I could.  My “bad” arm not wanting to help much.  My half-off swimsuit find was now just that… half off.  I temporarily stop my efforts to breathe because I was holding my breath in attempt to escape.  If America’s Funniest Home Videos could see me now, I would probably make it to the semi-finals.  I commenced to wiggling as I pulled and thought about a line from Steel Magnolias, “Looks like two pigs fightin’ under a blanket.” ha ha!

Houdini didn’t have a thing a me, because I escaped that swim top.  Whew!  It was a close one.  ha ha  Needless to say, I didn’t buy it.  And the fact that this girl is feeling really fat, I left with much disappointment.

This after breast cancer thing isn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but I’ve made it to here.  And that is saying a lot.  God has brought me this far.  I’m so thankful for a loving God.