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I AM BACK!

Posted: March 4, 2013

logo redTo All My Readers: Thank you for staying with me through the silence of the past year.  I am almost out of the cocoon as I call it and the silence will hopefully soon come to an end and I will become even more vocal than before with my writing.  I have learned that some life experiences should remain unspoken and unwritten as to salvage a couple’s  privacy as much as possible.

This cherished blog was originally created so I could write and share my stories of my crazy husbands antics and numerous profitable sales.   This year we are both hoping that the profitable sales will come from the promotion and exposure of the logo I created specifically for my crazy hubby.  Women and men both see the logo and laugh until they almost cry and then ask me where I got it.   Do you know someone who is married to a crazy guy?  Are you married to a crazy guy who you just absolutely adore? Would you like to be able to share with the world that you love a guy who is crazy?  What guy isn’t crazy?  Would you wear this on a hat or a shirt or maybe even a can koozie?  Leave me a comment to let me know.  The blog will move forward in the crazy way it was initially intended to.

Stay healthy and happy my friends!

pink_ribbon_glitter

 

Happy One Year Anniversary To Me!!!!!

Posted: February 4, 2012

zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah2Zippity doo dah …

Zippity aye …

My oh my what a wonderful day …

Plenty of sunshine coming my way …

Zippity doo dah, Zippity aye.

As you go through life, there are certain events that create an anniversary.  Getting married, getting a job and yes, getting cancer.  Today, February 4th is my one year anniversary of being diagnosed with the dreaded beast known as breast cancer.   Ironically, today is World Cancer Day…look it up…google it.World-Cancer-Day-2012

I try to make my blog as in depth as possible both with my words as well as my pictures.  I am so open about this chapter of my life that I wish I could post the pictures of the devastation after my bilateral mastectomy last year.  In 2006 I got one of the best breast augmentations I had every seen.  You could say I had a great rack.  I was told that I was going to have to get my implants removed and also have the mastectomy.  Insult to injury if you ask me.  The result was my entire chest dying.  The skin did not survive the surgery.  The pictures are much too graphic to post and really difficult to look at for the normal individual.  For me, they are not  hard to look at.    I had to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery in the days following.  Amazing things were done in the operating room over the course of 17 hours.  Now, all of the surgeries are over and the reconstruction is an amazing success.  I would love to post pictures of the results but again, the pictures would be a bit much.

While thinking about all of this today I tried to imagine what images equal the way that I felt and then the image came to me.  I ask everyone who reads this blog and particularly this article to cut me some slack with the analogy I am about to make and not be too judgemental.  I would hope that everyone knows that I am a patriotic individual and would never want to diminish the memory or the impact that September 11th  had on all of our lives.

ground-zero1

Do you remember where you were the day that the planes hit the World Trade Center?  I am sure that you do.  For purposes of relaying how I see it, imagine that my body is the United States and my chest is New York.  My right breast was Manhattan.  It was a beautiful day in February last year when devastation hit my chest and everything that was built up got taken down in the worst way.  Through the grace of God and the abilities of trained micro surgeons I was put back together and made to look whole again.  They say pictures are worth a thousand words and these pictures portray exactly how I felt and looked then and how I feel and look today.

ground-zero2

Here I am, a hair 2-4-12year later and looking great.  I have a completely different body.  My breasts are smaller and so is my stomach.  I am 30 pounds lighter and feel fantastic.  My intention is to get in shape this year and make something great out of all of this.  My last chemo treatment was in September last year.  My hair is growing back at a fantastic rate and everyone loves the cute little haircut that I sport.  I love it too.  Hair is overrated.  Shocking and hysterical that it was losing my hair that I was mostly upset about when I was told I had to do chemo.  Everywhere I go men tell me that they love my hair.  It’s great.  I am actually enjoying the maintenance free look.

I will spend this next year challenging myself in the best ways both emotionally and physically.  I want to give back,  I want to share.  Already I have made new friends who I am sure that I will know for a long time and they have either been diagnosed or they have been cured.  This is an amazing journey that we go through in order to save our lives.  Breast cancer is a vicious beast that does not discriminate and is very unforgiving.   I respect the vicious beast yet I hate it.  I will be there for women in the future who experience this terrifying change in their lives and I will be glad to be of help to them with their walk through the fire.

Huge thanks to my wonderful crazy husband Jason for staying right beside me the entire time over the past 365 days.  He has been my biggest supporter and tells everyone he meets about my blog.  He tells me how proud he is of me for coming through all of this so well.  This could have all ended in such a terrible way and instead I think it just set the course for where we are going in the future.  I tend to wonder sometimes what life would have been like had I not gotten breast cancer.  I will never know and that is okay with me.

Stay healthy my friends.

breast-cancer-pink-ribbon

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I still believe in openly wishing people Merry Christmas.  I also believe in respecting other cultures and wishing people Happy Hanukkah.  Christmas has always been a very special time of year for me.  This year it is still special but it is different.  I am ever so grateful to be on the other side of my cancer and to be moving ahead with my life.  I am grateful to have my beautiful and resilient children, my crazy and adorable husband, my family that stuck by me and my closest friends who really proved the power of true friendship.

It has been two weeks since my final reconstructive surgery.  I cannot express enough how different I look!  I am the kind of person who is dying to share the images of every surgery that I had during my adventure in the world of breast cancer.  I truly believe knowledge is power.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I will post the final pictures of my reconstruction.  Sometimes I tend to share too much and I would not want to offend anyone or have them to tell me that it was inappropriate or that I used poor judgement in publishing them.  However, if someone told me I could have a billboard on Sunset Blvd. to share and educate people about this procedure and the amazing images of before and after, I would do it.

I will wake up every day for the rest of my life and marvel at my reconstruction.  I went from pure devastation and dying skin to a gorgeous set of size B cup perky breasts.  Simply amazing work was done by my Obi-Wan Kenobi of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Jay Orringer, M.D.   www.drorringer.com.  I encourage all of my readers to look at the images under reconstruction on Dr.  Orringer’s website and then read the patient testimonials.  This is an amazing human being who really is a master at the artistry of breast augmentation and reconstruction.  Without Dr. Orringer by my side I would not have come through the past 11 months as physically or psychologically well.

A Little Walk Down Memory Lane

To remind everyone who reads this blog, I was diagnosed with stage 0 -1 breast cancer on February 4th of 2011.  Ever since the day I got the call from my breast specialist who advised me that yes, the lump I found in my right breast was malignant I have been on a very crazy ride.  I did not know how long the ride would be or how many twists and turns it had or how many times it would turn me upside down.  All I knew is that I had to get on the ride and just suck it up and deal with it.   I really had no idea how much I was going to be challenged and how much I was going to have to endure physically and psychologically.  I got hit pretty hard in all areas of the process.  Thank goodness I had a great support team at home, platinum doctors and an employer who was unbelievably good to me.

On February 15th I had a lumpectomy.  The pathology showed a small tumor and extensive DCIS which is a form of cancer that is best described like glitter.  It is very small and spreads over a large area.  That DCIS combined with the small tumor told us that I was going to need a bilateral (double) mastectomy.

On March 11th I underwent a 7 hour surgery to remove both breasts as well as my implants.  Boy, it was such a shame to have to take down the beautiful work that Dr. Orringer had created back in 2006.  After the mastectomy it became very apparent to everyone that my breast tissue was not going to survive the trauma from the mastectomy.  This was of no fault of the surgeon, it was due to me being naturally small breasted and then having large implants and then having to cut a large amount of the tissue out to remove all of the “glitter” cancer.   There I was with expanders in my chest and my skin was pulled so tight over them.  The skin was dying and turning black.   I was advised that I was going to have to have a procedure known as a DIEP Flap.  This is a type of reconstructive breast surgery in which a portion of your lower abdomen (tummy) is taken to replace the breast tissue.

On March 22 two very skilled micro-surgeons and I ventured down the road of a 17 hour surgery to recreate breasts from excess skin on my stomach.  Keep in mind that I am 5′ 4″ tall and used to weigh 265 pounds.  I weighed approximately 165 pounds when this procedure was done on me.  I was given smaller breasts and a tummy tuck.  Wow.  I never thought in my wildest dreams that my wishes for a tummy tuck would come true – and this is how I got it.  Be careful what you wish for – that is my new motto.  This procedure was on of the craziest things I had ever heard of.  I could not believe that a doctor could do what they were telling me.  I was assured that by the end of my follow up reconstruction procedure I was going to look whole and complete.  I could not imagine how it could be possible that I would ever look whole and complete again.  After the DIEP Flap I looked odd.  I looked and felt somewhat like Frankenstein.  I had two drooping, shocking pale sewn on somewhat breasts hanging off of me and a large incision from hip to hip.

I started my chemotherapy infusions on May 5th.  This was something that I feared like nothing else. I was assured by my doctors that I would do fine with the chemo.  Not so much.  Unbeknownst to me, I got a staph infection in my abdomen.  I woke up 4 days after the chemo was infused into me and I thought I was dying.  I had the worst migraine and I could not talk.  I managed to keep the pain stabalized with pain pills.  The next morning I was even worse and started to get scared.  I say that during this week of my life I simply existed.  I just took pain killers and rested all day.  I like to describe it like I was in a twilight sleep mode at this time.  I would not be completely asleep ever.  I would somewhat fade in and out.  The idea of eating or drinking anything never came to mind.  I was just trying to survive the day.  I thought the way I was feeling was due to my chemo.  I did not want to be a cry baby about it and I was trying to take it and deal with it.  By the end of that week I gave in and went to see my oncologist and he said it absolutely was not the chemo doing this to me.  It had to be something else.  I went back to Dr. Orringer who when he examined me realized immediately that I had a horrifically large and dangerous staph infection in my entire abdomen.  I was scheduled back for another surgery to clean it all out.  One more major surgery for the scoreboard.  Off to the hospital I went again.

In the hospital, exactly 15 days after chemotherapy was first given to me my hair began to fall out.  I stayed in the hospital for 5 days recovering and stabilizing.  When I got out of the hospital, chemo continued.

Just my luck to then get a seroma on my left side that would really be the worst wound I think I have ever seen on anyone, much less myself.  My body generally heals very well and quickly.  With taking the chemo my body just could not heal itself.  It just got worse and worse every day.  The wound was so deep I could see my stomach wall.  There was extensive undermining and in order to drain the fluid from the undermined areas we were going to have to use a wound draining machine – a Wound Vac.  I wore the vac for approximately 6 weeks.  That machine did the job but I must admit it did a strange job on my psyche.  I am grateful for the way that it helped my wound heal through chemo.  However, when you walk around 24 hours a days with a 3 pound machine connected to your lower abdomen and you are unbelievably weak from the chemo and it makes sounds, its not cool.  I had to have a private nurse come to check the machine 3 times a week.  She was an angel to me.

All of this craziness with my health was going on and at the same time I had major drama jumping off in my family.  Ridiculous.  All I can say is I never really got to rest as much as I should have because the world around me did not stop.  It almost seemed exaggerated this year by 100%.

I will be very glad to say good bye to 2011.  This year sucked for me and so many people I know and love.  Thank goodness for me it ended in a beautiful way.  I look forward to 2012 to be able to do everything I had planned to do in 2011.  Life Rudely Interrupted is what I call this past year.  My intention is to pursue an idea and see where it will take me.  More details on that in the coming year.

Thank you to all of my readers for hanging in there with me through the good, the bad and the ugly.  This blog saved my sanity and it gave me the ability to share which is what I do best.

Stay Healthy My Friends!

 

 

Now That Is Progress!

Posted: November 2, 2011

hair growth

It amazes me that I was so concerned about losing my hair when I was told that I would have to do chemotherapy.  My hair at one time in my life meant everything to me.  I was lucky enough to have thick, wavy hair that at any time of year could have been colored blonde, red or brunette.  I have always been able to carry off different hair colors.  Who would I be if I didn’t have my hair?  Would people look at me funny?  Those were the questions I asked myself back in May of this year when I started chemotherapy.  I realized all too quickly that my hair, like my breasts were expendable.  They really meant nothing if keeping both meant losing my life.  Pretty easy to change your mind about something when you put it into perspective like that.

My surgeons took great care in recreating my breasts through micro-surgery.  Now, here it is almost six months later and those wounds are healed.  My last chemo session was in September and look – my hair is beginning to grow back!  Little by little it comes in.  It is coming back everywhere.  Amazing how the body repairs and replenishes itself.  My hope is to help it along a little bit with vitamins and a hair cell therapy product.  My finger nails have been growing faster than they every have before.  Amazing.  I am hoping that I will have somewhat of a cute little hairdo by Christmas this year.

I have returned to work and it is the best thing I could have ever done.  I missed it so much.  I am so lucky to be good at what I do and love it at the same time.  I have been well received by all of my colleagues and when asked how I am feeling I can honestly report that it almost feels as if nothing ever happened to me.  Don’t get me wrong for one minute.  I know the hell I went through over and over again.  But that is in the past and I am on the other side and I am moving faster and clearer than before.  I truly feel that I have even more drive and more ambition to do greater things with my life every single day.  I am grateful for every day and everyone who watched over me while I was being challenged with the worst experience of my life.  Now I am just looking forward and I do not look back.  Not yet. 

I eventually want to create a post that really details the hard hit my body took and provide the detailed pictures.  My thought is that the pictures are so unbelievably graphic that I am not sure if I would offend people.  My intention in sharing is to educate people on the affects of breast cancer on a woman’s body and the miracle of reconstructive surgery.  Any comments on this would be greatly appreciated.  Again, I am not intending to offend anyone.

On a lighter note, my wonderful and crazy husband Jason and I did not have our annual Halloween bash this year.  I literally pulled into my driveway this past Saturday night, when we would have been having it, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I wasn’t having a party.   In the 4 years we have been together we have had 3 raging Halloween parties.  This year, with all of the craziness going on in our lives my husband decided he was going to sell all of his Halloween decorations.  For anyone who knows Jason they know that his Halloween stuff is some of his most prized possessions.  He’s really got some of the best stuff I have ever seen.  Bottom line is he knew he could make a lot of money by just getting rid of everything.  People paid him top dollar for all of his creepy and scary stuff.  He made a profit on just about everything he sold.   Once again, Jason bought a lot of stuff, paid little for it, used it for a few years, gave lots of people enjoyment and then sold everything at a profitable price.  I would call that a WIN - WIN.

 TRICK OR TREAT

Jason Halloween 2011 (2)

Jason Halloween 2011 A

Here are pictures of Mr. Pimp Daddy himself this year.  He grew the mustache just right for this costume and this look.  Yes people that is really his mustache but that is not his hair.  He generally keeps his hair cut real short and usually is clean shaved.  

Jason is known for wearing the best costumes at Halloween and winning top prizes in the past.  Believe it or not this was a down played year for the crazy devil.  Prior years have included him being dressed as Gene Simmons from KISS,  the bloody groom to my bloody bride, a horse, a chopped up surgery technician, a crazy clown, the fat bellied cop with his box of donuts and my favorite – a woman.  Jason does make a pretty good woman.  Put a dress and long wig on him and with his great face, arms and legs he looks amazingly good.  This only works when he is clean shaved of course.  

This Halloween my hair started growing back and we got rid of all of our Halloween party inventory.  I would say that that is huge progress in our house!  Now if we can just get rid of 50% of what is in our garage!  That would be extreme progress.  Baby steps.  Baby steps.

fight like a girl

Even though October is over and we are now venturing in to the wonderful season of Fall, please remember to be aware of breast cancer and spread the word on breast cancer awareness, no matter what month we are in.   The seasons may change and the green leaves may be turning orange and brown but PINK will always be a color that is in my pallette through Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.  For the rest of my life PINK will be a symbol of something I endured and respect.  I have met a few wonderful women who have also taken this journey.  I have also heard of friends losing loved ones this year to the battle with breast cancer.  This breaks my heart.  Why do some go into battle with this beast and lose the fight?  We will never know why this is.  It is our responsibility as survivors to educate others and embrace the fact that we did survive.

Stay healthy my friends!

logo red

Words To Live By

Posted: October 23, 2011

keep calm and carry on

Hello to all my readers!  Sorry it has been so long since my last post.  I am finding that after chemotherapy is over, there is a period of time (at least for me) in which communication of any kind was just not in my favor.  I would constantly think about friends who were going through their own trials of life and I did not want to communicate.  I did not want to write and I did not want to talk.  Communication is what I do best so this was very frustrating for me.   Thank goodness it is all coming back to me and I am moving forward with my life.

L♥ve this…

About 6 months before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I walked into a colleague’s office and saw the greatest sign/statement ever.  Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion. Seeing only limited distribution, it was little known. The poster was rediscovered in 2000 and has been re-issued by a number of private sector companies, and used as the decorative theme for a range of other products. There are only two known surviving examples of the poster outside government archives. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Calm_and_Carry_On

This statement spoke to me in so many ways.  I work in a fast-paced and exciting environment that I love.  It truly fits in my work life.  With being diagnosed with cancer, it certainly speaks to me in my personal life and it will be with me forever.  A copy of this statement will hang in my office to remind me and everyone who enters, that crazy moments are just for now, carry on and move forward.  Amazingly inspiring statement if you ask me.

I worried about the context of my blog and where it was going.  My intention is to continue blogging about the crazy life adventures that seem to be posed to me.  I just hope that my writing is exciting enough to keep the readers interested.  My ongoing other life challenging experience is having a 72 year old mother who has Alzheimer’s disease.  I intend to write about that as well.  What ever direction the blog turns is the direction in which it should turn. 

PINKTOBER

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I cannot stress enough to everyone who reads my blog to spread the word about breast cancer.  Women and men alike should be checking themselves once a month.  It is easy to do and it is important.  Had I not been completely in tune with my body, I might have missed catching my cancer in its early stage this past January.  If you feel something little and hard, demand that it be looked at with an ultrasound.  Mammograms will not always save your life.  My cancer did not show up on a mammogram, yet it was seen on an ultrasound.  Scary thing.  So many women rely on mammograms and don’t know that certain forms of cancer do not show up on mammograms.  I tell everyone now.

GropeYourWifeI will promote breast cancer awareness for the rest of my life.  That is an interesting thought.  Amazing how my life was  changed so quickly.  Amazing how many lives get changed in a moment.  You just never now what one day from another is going to bring to you. 

Stay healthy my friends!logo red

Under Water And Coming Up For Air

Posted: October 9, 2011

Blue%20under%20WaterThe more things you do, the more you can do. – Lucille Ball

It has been 30 days since my last blog post.  I chose not to write on my blog during these days because I was so “under-water”.  That is how I describe the affect chemotherapy has on me.  Additionally some depression crept up on me and I did not want to write about it.  I never stopped thinking about articles/posts to write but somehow was silenced both verbally and physically.  I wanted to write but somehow I could not bring myself to do it.  I wanted to talk to friends who have had tragedy during these past 30 days and that has been difficult as well.  So much craziness has gone on this year.  I must say that 2011 is the worst year I have ever had and that goes the same for a number of my closest friends.

I am unbelievably excited about returning to work after 5 1/2 months of not being there.  I have some anxiety about jumping back into the water but I must.  The chemo brain is what concerns me.  Sometimes I cannot recall what a simple every day item is called.   For example – imagine there is a diet coke can on the table.  I will sit there and point to it and say can you pass me that when I know what it is that needs to be passed to me, I just cannot get the word from my brain to my mouth.  I anticipate that with my return to work I will initially listen more than I talk and it was exactly the opposite of that prior to my breast cancer.

They tell me I am cured.  I believe them.  I hope I am cured.  I don’t know if I could go through all of this again.  I really had a bad time with the reconstruction and the chemotherapy.  I have no idea how older women manage to do this and survive through it more than once in their lifetime.  

Feeling the need to share a story from just the other day -

I decided to stop off at a neighborhood high end drug store that is known for catering to women who love to buy little gifts and trinkets.   I walked the entire drug store looking for Breast Cancer Awareness products to purchase.  I asked one of the sales clerks for help and she said that the store did not have any Breast Cancer Awareness products.  I held my breathe and held back an “F” bomb.  I then said “That is horrible”.  I could not control myself.  The next thing out of my mouth was “That is just f*cking horrible”.  I drove home trying to understand how a drug store was not promoting Breast Cancer Awareness.  It is October!  Duh!

When Igot home I called the drug store and asked to speak to the manager.  A nice lady got on the phone.  I introduced myself to her and asked her if the majority of the customers who shop at the drug store are women and she answered yes.  I asked her if she felt that the majority were prominent women who love to spend money.  She answered yes.  I then asked her why the drug store is not selling anything to support Breast Cancer Awareness.   She said that the owner decided not to do this.  The owner is a female I found out later.  I expressed to the young lady on the phone that I would be happy to share this experience with all of the women that I know who shop at this drug store.  Spread awareness and make money doing it.  That is the right thing to do.  By not doing this, the drug store is missing out on many opportunities to make money and support the hearts of their customers.  They should be able to walk in and have PINK PINK PINK  everywhere in October.  Too many women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.  Too many women have died from breast cancer.  This really is a no – brainer.

pink_ribbon_glitter

It is OVER! Chemo is OVER!

Posted: September 10, 2011

light at end of tunnel

The walk through the dark fire is OVER!  My 6th and final chemotherapy treatment was Thursday, September 8th.  I cannot express how grateful I am to have come through the darkness of cancer to see the light of the future for me.  A close friend of mind talked about the light at the end of the tunnel and to keep your eye focused on it.  He was right.

I must admit that I am emotional about the chemo process ending and moving forward.  I know that I still have to go through some very dark days for the next week, as that is the process with chemo.  In about a week I should be building up my strength again, getting my strong mental abilities back. Hopefully the chemo brain will not last that long.

Although the chemotherapy is over, the nine (9) months of Herceptin maintenance begins.  I have a very aggressive form of breast cancer called HER2-positive.  Because of this I will receive infusions of Herceptin every three (3) weeks for the next nine months.  Here’s a little history on Herceptin and how it is helping women with HER2-positive cancer. 

Herceptin in Early-Stage and Advanced Breast Cancer Herceptin® (trastuzumab) was the first targeted medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designed to treat human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer, a more aggressive form of the disease.

In September 1998, Herceptin was approved in combination with chemotherapy (paclitaxel) for treatment of women who had not received previous medicines for their advanced (metastatic) HER2-positive breast cancer (first-line treatment). It was also approved as a medicine to be used alone for women who had received prior chemotherapy (second- and third-line treatment).1

In November 2006, Herceptin was approved for treating early-stage (adjuvant) HER2-positive breast cancer when given with chemotherapy (doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide and paclitaxel), a combination called AC-TH. In January 2008, it was also approved as a stand-alone medicine following anthracycline-based chemotherapy.  In May 2008, Herceptin and chemotherapy (docetaxel and carboplatin), known as TCH, was approved. This treatment regimen has been associated with a lower risk of heart damage when compared to other combinations of Herceptin and chemotherapy.  Another AC-TH combination, comprised of Herceptin, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide and docetaxel, was also approved in May 2008.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States. Approximately 15-30 percent of breast cancers are HER2-positive.  Just my luck to get this!

Last Chemo

I don’t know if I will ever be able to completely thank all of my friends, colleauges and closest family members enough for supporting me every step of the way through this horrific experience.  I have had tremendously skilled physician’s save my life and put me back together after the horrific attack my body received.

This has been a most humbling experience for me.  It has also been a very liberating one.  I always wondered what I would look like bald.  I have wondered about that for years.  I think I carried it off pretty well.  I never wore a wig and I will sport cool hats when I return to work.  My bald head with little hair growth is my badge of courage and I will wear it with pride.  I also wondered what it would be like to be a married woman and have to have a double mastectomy.  I used to wonder what kind of impact that would have on a couple.  Oddly enough my curiosity was answered when I got cancer.   We have not let it change us too much.  Reconstruction opportunities are amazing and my good friend and plastic surgeon Jay Orringer, M.D. www.drorringer.com is the master of reconstruction and he is going to help me.  We owe Jay a lot.  He has been there 150% from the moment he sent me to my breast specialist in January to just last night when he called to check on me.  Through everything he has held my hand and walked me through the fire.  I will always love him for this.

Cancer is a life changing experience that I would wish on no one.  Chemotherapy in my opinion is right up there with water-boarding (torture).  I am glad that I am done with the chemo.  Now I have faced one of my greatest fears and I have won the battle.  I did not kick cancer’s ass.  It truly kicked my ass and it ripped my body in half.  I will never say that I kicked it’s ass.  I will politely bow down to it and acknowledge it for its power.  I went through the battle and succeeded at finishing the race.

I know that everyone who knows and loves me is glad that this is over and is excited that I can start really living again. 

This is WINNING.

peace pink ribbon

flowers

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am reposting this blog entry today (from March 30, 2011) because it is one of my favorites.  If all goes well for me, I will get my final chemo treatment tomorrow and be on the road to recovery.  Hair is starting to grow – even the grey ones!  This is fantastic news to me.  I hope you enjoy this entry today.  Thank you to all of my friends and readers for supporting me through this gastly journey with breast cancer.

I have lived my life knowing that there was always going to be more to it tomorrow than there was today.  I have lived on this earth for close to 42 years now and I realize that if you are not paying attention, life can pass you by -quickly.  I am at home recovering well from  my 15 hour DIEP FLAP breast reconstruction surgery.  I had a platinum team of doctors and professionals working with me through this journey.  I feel that I must pay respect to each and every one of them.  The following professionals saved my life, cared about me as an individual and kept me calm, cool and collected through the entire experience and for that I will be ever so grateful.

 Shadiar Ohadi, M.D. – my family doctor  

Jay Orringer, M.D. – my plastic reconstruction surgeonwww.drorringer.com

Kristi Funk, M.D. – my breast surgeon and speciailist   – www.pinklotusbreastcenter.com

Jay Granzow, M.D.- my plastic micro-surgeon.  – www.plasticsurgery.la

I was blessed to have found the lump on my own.  By alerting the doctors immediately, they were able to move swiftly and strategically to ensure that the cancer was removed quickly and that I would be a survivor of breast cancer.  The final part of this journey will be the one that frightens me the most – chemo.  Chemo scares me because I have never been through it and, let’s be really honest here, I am upset about losing my beautiful head of hair.  The upside to this is that during the time of my chemo and for a period after, I will carry the recognizable image of Cancer.  This will only assist me in promoting education to the people I am surrounded by each and every day.  If someone wants to ask me a question, they should know that it is okay to ask.  I was born to be a communicator, advisor and protector.  What better subject to communicate and educate on than breast cancer?  This is not to say that all other cancers are of deserving education on…I am just doing what just got dealt to me! LOL.  

Knowledge is power.  I want to educate people about my experience with Breast Cancer.  By doing this, I feel that I am playing the hand that I was dealt, and playing it quite well, with the complete intention of WINNING.  I have been dealt a few hands in my life that others would have not bounced back from so easily.   I look at life in a very realistic and grounded way.  Everything happens for a reason! 

This is one of my life lessons.  I honor that it was given to me to deal with.  I cannot imagine this happening to my sister.  Now, instead, she is living through it with me.  I welcome anyone who wants to live through it with me to do just that.

I do feel compelled to share this one story.  If I don’t document it in my blog, I will forever be telling the story to people and I don’t want to have to keep telling the story so, here goes….

The insurance carrier had assigned a case manager to me for my chemotherapy that will start in a month.  For use of the Blog and to protect the guilty, I will refer to the case manager as Cindy.  Cindy contacted me a few days before my last surgery.  She introduced herself, explained her function in the process and we got to know each other a little bit.  I am the kind of person who will quickly become familiar with strangers who I will be working with on a project.  During our first conversation I interpreted Cindy to be a professional and caring individual who had been working with the insurance carrier for many years. 

Not so fast…..I was contacted by Cindy again the day before I was to go in for surgery.  She expressed to me that in no way would she have the operation that I was about to have and she was asking me why I was putting my body through this kind of torture.  I explained that my skin had not survived after the double mastectomy and that this was our only option.  She then told me that the operation is dangerous and I that I would have a very difficult recovery.  I explained to her that I had been advised by my doctors that this was not a painful surgery. I would survive. I would heal very well and aesthetically the results would be phenomenal.  She again told me that I was going to be in an extreme amount of pain.  She was stating this based on diagnosis codes that were listed in front of her.  I explained that my muscles were not being touched, therefore the recovering and pain would be minimal.  She told me that my doctor’s had not been telling me the truth about the procedure they were going to do on me.  These repeated statements made me for the FIRST time in my life fear surgery.  Surgery has always been easy for me.  Doctor’s have always been amazed at the way my body springs back.  This woman scared me senseless.  I was crying uncontrollably.  I was beginning to believe the things she had said.   About 3 hours later, she calls me back and says “I have spoken with your doctors and you should go ahead and have the surgery”.  Talk about going from one end of the spectrum to the other!

I had the 12 hour surgery that was extended to 15 hours.  This surgery generally requires a blood transfusion.  I did not have to have one.  I came out of anesthesia right away, alert and would not shut up.  I spent one day in the Intensive Care Unit where the nurses could not believe how alert and mobile I was able to be.  I was then moved to a regular room for the duration of my stay and observation.  The doctors and the nurses were shocked at how my body came back and latched on to the skin grafts.  They were amazed at my uncontrollable ability to make jokes about everything and to laugh through it.  Because of the way I was healing and the positive attitude I had, my physician’s released me a day early!  I came home rested for the weekend and then got a call from Cindy the Case Manager.

NOW HOLD UP AND WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE!  

Cindy called me to follow up on when I came home and how I was doing.  I answered her questions and then told her that I need to say something to her.  I do not think she had any idea what was about to happen to her.  With all the anger and energy I had, I explained to her that I am a person who has had multiple major surgeries and I have never been afraid of them…ever.   Then I started yelling at her and had a hard time controlling myself.  I explained to her that she was going to have to listen to everything I had to say to her.  She had no right to tell me whether to have a surgery or not.  Whether it came from a good “motherly” place of advice or if it came from the place of the ugly bureaucratic insurance industry.   Either way, I did not care.  What she did was wrong and unacceptable.  I continued to yell at her and gave her this analogy – “You have no idea who you are dealing with.  I am a prize-winning thoroughbred race horse.  You told me that I could not finish the race.  You told me I shouldn’t even be in the race.  YOU TOLD ME NOT TO ENTER THE GATE!”  No one tells me that I can’t accomplish something that I put my mind to”.  I explained to this 62 something year old woman that she was going to learn from this horrible experience and hopefully she will never do anything like that to any one ever again.  I demanded that she find me a replacement Case Manager.  I explained that her actions had violated my trust.  Because my trust was violated, she was off the team.  I instructed her to find a replacement GOLD STANDARD Case Manager, otherwise I would come after her with a vengeance.  Within 20 minutes I received a call from a much senior Case Manager and now we are moving forward.

I will be writing a letter to the insurance carrier about this matter.  My understanding in talking with professionals in the health care industry is that this may have been a ploy to get me not to have the surgery at all. 

On another note – this experience has changed me.  It has definitely been one of those life changing experiences that makes you value and appreciate everything you have in your life.  Even though I call my husband crazy and this website was originally produced to expose his craziness, I seriously would have been lost without him through all of this.  I love that man more than anything and I am so grateful I said “yes” to marrying him when he asked me on our second date and then “I do” ten (10) days after the second date. 

Life is amazing.  Take chances.  Take a leap of faith.  It just might surprise you.

i love my husband
pink_ribbon_glitter
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

  

Happy Anniversary Jason – I Love You!

Posted: September 5, 2011

June 2010

Four years ago today my crazy and adored husband Jason and I boarded a small boat with a captain and a skipper and sailed to Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe.  Wearing jeans, white hoodies and baseball caps we took a hike and were married by the captain of the boat.  Call it a “leap of faith marriage” as we had only known each other for 13 days!

Together we have experienced a lot in the past 4 short years.  We experienced the death of a cherished Mother, the birth of a beloved Daughter, the vicious face of breast cancer and all of its glory and the growing pains of a sudden marriage.  Most of all and above everything we have experienced love.  Some people live their whole lives searching for this experience.  Love comes with hills and valleys that is for sure.  Only the strong survive.

Today I woke up not thinking about cancer or chemotherapy.  I woke up knowing that it was my 4 year marriage anniversary.  The only gift I was hoping for was a 4 year anniversary pin from Hard Rock Lake Tahoe.  Like clockwork I woke up and had a cup of coffee handed to me along with my pin!  Today will be a good day and the coming year will bring us a lot more of life’s experiences.  Hopefully we have experienced so much craziness this past year that we will sail through the coming year.

Thank you Jason for abruptly asking me to be your wife and for sharing your life with me and my children.

love and marriage

Another Blood Transfusion For Me

Posted: September 4, 2011

This past Thursday, September 1st was to be my 6th and final chemotherapy treatment.  I have been excited about this but there was always this l voice inside me that said I was going to need another transfusion before I could get my final chemo.  My hemoglobin was 6.   Generally oncologists will not give a patient chemotherapy when they are below 9.  I wasn’t upset, I just accepted it.  I had to have 3 units of blood.  The best part about today was getting to sleep the enture time the blood was being transfused.

blood transfusion sept 2011This little bump in the road buys me some healing time for my abdominal wound.  That is very clean and thriving.  I will more than likely have to get a skin graft to close the wound completely. 

I guess I could look at the recent bumps in the road as really good timing for me with my children.  Since chemo has been pushed back almost a week that will give me more time to heal.   I have been so quiet over the past two weeks.  For some reason this last chemo session really took its toll on me.

Oddly enough I believe that my hair is beginning to grow back. I have peach fuzz all over my head and my fingernails have been growing quite well.  I feel like I am at the last leg of the race and all I need is a little coaxing to finish. 

I am ever so grateful to my husband who has been running alongside me with this battle since February 2011.  Jason and I were always very close but this with breast cancer has bonded us forever.  We will celebrate our 4 year anniversary of marriage.  In a lot of ways we are very lucky to have each other and all of our friends who have been supporting us through this adventure.

I am seriously looking forward to getting my last treatment.  Next Wednesday cannot come soon enough!!!!

peace pink ribbon

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