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Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing In The New Year

I just got home from work.  It's New Year's Eve and I am kicked back trying to relax.  I thought I would give an update to my blog.  I am happy to say that I am adjusting to the "new normal" of life after cancer treatments.  I have a head full of curly hair.  I have continued bone pain that I am managing with pain meds, as little as I can possibly take to do the trick. The depression has subsided for the most part.  However, I have horrible insomnia.  It is to the point where I start feeling very anxious at bedtime, especially on Thursday and Friday nights when I have to work the next day.  I looked at the clock this morning at 4:56 and I had not slept a wink.  I have racing thoughts that circulate through my head as fast as lightning.  I have tried all kinds of things that might knock me out, but to no avail I am tossing and turning with an IMAX pictured show going on in my head. 

A lot has happened for me in 2010.  It has been over a year since I felt "the lump".  I remember thinking..."I know what this is, and its not good," but I just did not have time to hear someone tell me I had cancer.  I knew my life had to change.  I knew I had to change my lifestyle and my stress level and make some time for me.  With the sale of my business...the business that owned me, I finally had time to go in and get it checked out by a doctor.  I was told by the radiologist to come back in six months...actually I was told by the sonnogram  girl because the radiologist was too busy reading his newspaper to come and tell me himself after he spent 33 seconds looking at my films.  In my gut, I knew this was wrong.  After getting a biopsy by another doctor two weeks later, I was told the following day I had cancer.  She called me from her cell phone on a Friday night.  That Monday, I found out that my cancer was extremely aggressive, fast growing and there were five tumors totaling about 10 cm.  It was a rare form of breast cancer, triple negative.  So two weeks later at the age of 42, I had both breast removed and started chemo immediately after the drains were removed.  Radiation followed.  So here I am.  The new year is upon me.  What will it bring?  Hopefully, it will bring my reconstruction surgeries soon.  I am ready to get them over with and try to find a way to forget about having cancer.  I have a new outlook on life and the things that really matter.  I have friends and I have family, and most of all my faith.  

I will keep my blog updated from time to time, but it won't be as often.  I would like to not think about this disease.  I hope I never see it again.  I have done what I can to help spread awareness about triple negative breast cancer.  If you are just now reading this blog, I encourage you to go back and read from the beginning.  I welcome any questions or comments and I hope that I have enlightened others about this horrible disease.  Life must go least that is what I am hoping for during my upcoming new year.  I don't know why this happened to me.  I do know that God works everything, even the bad...he works it out for the greater good.  I give so much thanks to my husband, my girls, my family and my co-workers and friends.  I am glad I have not had to go this alone.  I continue to pray for the friends that I have made that have been stricken by this disease.  I can only have hope that a cure will come soon.  May God bless you and your family this year!  Until next time my friends...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Picking Up the Pieces

 am a month out from finishing treatment for stage IIB, grade 3/ triple negative breast cancer. I have battled more depression and anxiety since the treatment than any I experienced during. I think of it like the marathon runner who finally crosses the finish line. Many times they collapse on the ground once they finish. During treatment you are battling for your life. The shock of the diagnosis can be surreal and you have to be strong during the battle. When its over, you have more time to think about it and the side effects of treatment are magnified when you are supposed to be "done battling". Everyday I feel good at some point, but everyday I feel bad too. It is a small window of good. My faith has always been strong and I know there is a reason for everything. The fear that this disease will return is very strong and overwhelming, even though I know I should not fear. Knowing that I am 43 and have so much life to live, makes me want to live life to the fullest everyday. However, how do you do that when your body is your prisoner? I pray for strength and I want so much to not be physically limited. My job is physically demanding and I have been self employed for 13 years.  From where I stand now, it is hard to imagine carrying the load that I had before I got sick.  I thank God that I have Kevin.  He has been so great during this time.  He has done so much of picking up the extra slack since I have been sick.  As all couples do, we have our ups and downs.  However, relationships are not about the day to day short runs. A marriage is not a sprint, it is  a marathon. I am just glad to know I have my family and all the support they bring, and I am so grateful for Kevin.

I have not updated this blog in a while.  I have been trying to not think about cancer.  I have been enjoying the time with the kids and trying to get back in the swing of working. Christmas is right around the corner, and for the first time I am not too far behind everything.  The girls and I put up a pink tree with survivors names on it...about 60 total. They really enjoyed doing it.  My hair is coming in so curly. If I dyed it black I would look like Betty Boop.  Well, probably not that good...actually, not even close!

Today I worked from about 8 a.m. to about 4:30...a very long day for me.  It was a pretty good one.  I have enjoyed my clients and how supportive they are of me.  They are very encouraging.  They have been very good to me.  I am so thankful for the loyalty that I have seen with a lot of them.  Many have reassured me that they will be here for me when I get through my surgeries.  It is a good feeling.  Even though I have lost many, God is faithful in his promises.  He has taken care of everything we have needed and then some.  (Debra S...thank you for your encouragement and your kindness.  You are awesome!)  I have clients that are praying for me and tell me all the time.  I called one of my clients and left a message with her husband yesterday.  Afterwards, he began to tell me how they were both praying for me.  I have never met him.  Tonight, I returned a call to one of my long time male clients (about 18 years). After setting up his appointment, he prayed with me over the phone and reassured me that God would provide a way for me to be off work and get my reconstruction soon.  It is times like these when I think..."why am I afraid at times?"  So many people have faith for me...what am I worried about?  Oh well, this journey is not easy.  My emotions are on a wild roller coaster ride.  As my good friend Patsy says, "this too shall pass!".  I feel as if I have rambled through this post...probably because I have.  Hey, it is called "chemo-brain".  It is the inability to focus, remember things, and stay on track.  Today I went to work with one black shoe on one foot, and one brown shoe on the other.  Last Saturday I had some friends stop by the house.  After they left, I realized I had a beige tennis shoe on one foot and a green on the other.  So this is my life.  I have had a few brain cells killed.  I was on the phone with Vicky yesterday at the end of my work day.  I walked around ten minutes looking for my cell phone while I was talking to her (on my cell phone!)  It is pretty scary.  Well, Kevin is on his way home so I am going to end this now.  Until next time my friends...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Beautiful Landri

Having gone through cancer treatments this year for triple negative breast cancer makes me see life differently.  

I know how precious my family is...especially my two beautiful amazing daughters.  

This is Landri, my athlete, my first born.  She is one of the people I am most proud to know in this world. I love her and I will miss her when she goes off to college this next year.  She has done so much for me this year.  I wish I could hold her forever and never let her go.  I love you angel!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Moving On, The Pain and The Tears

It has been a while since I have posted.  I finished my last radiation on the 8th of November.  I am slowly getting some energy back although I hesitate to say that.  I am getting the desire to do things and go places.  I have been to the mall several times trying to do some advanced Christmas shopping on a tight budget.  But I am mainly wanting to just get out and walk around.  I have never been able to do any Christmas shopping until literally the week of Christmas due to owning my own business for the past several years...the season was just too busy to get anything done but work and "make hay while the sun was shining".  Now I am trying to do a little at a time, and get it done early...this will be a first for me.  Usually my kids are asking me the week before Christmas..."Mom, are we going to have any presents under the tree anytime soon?"  

What I am finding out about my health situation is I am dealing with pain on a regular basis, everyday.  I get out and go and shortly have to take pain meds to get through anything I am doing.  My bones hurt still as a side effect from the Taxol.  This pain in staying with me and it is very consistent.  It has been four months since that drug was infused into my body.  What I have noticed is that it has gotten much worse, not better.  Nothing can touch the kind of pain I experienced during those 8 weeks of getting the Taxol.  However, the residual pain is real.  It seemed to worsen during my radiation treatments and now has increased to a new level all together.  It is here everyday and now comes on at all hours of the day from early morning to late evening my bones hurt.  I could be sitting or standing doing nothing and I might have pain shooting through my fingers, my forearms, my shins, my feet, my knees, my wrists, all at the same time.  I have noticed that the colder weather is making it worse.  Before I ever was diagnosed with cancer, I dealt with swollen joints, a swollen left ankle, and weather related pain.  I thought that if I would have gone to a doctor about it, I would probably be told I had some form of arthritis. Since my treatments, I feel somewhat crippled unless I am on the pain medication.  As soon as it wears off, I am in pain again.   I don't know whether it will ever go away.  Sometimes I think things are fine and then BAM!!! hits me so suddenly and so strong that I have somewhat of a panic/anxiety attack and start to cry.  It sometimes catches me by surprise when I think I am doing OK.  I think sometimes the emotional pain is just as bad as the physical.  This has happened at work a couple of times and it is a cruel reminder that things may never be the same.  I will find myself mixing color about to service a client and I am crying like a baby in the back room.  This is when I feel like I have been robbed.  Robbed of my occupation, my income, my livelihood, and all I have worked hard to achieve the past 18 years of doing hair and building such a strong client base.  Right now I am going in on Fridays and Saturdays.  I work about six hours each day.  The pain from working is real and great.  It is physically very taxing.  I have less than 50% of my client base left.  Not working for about 7 months makes this happening inevitable.  My client base was made up of about 85% color clients, many who drove 45 min or more to see me.  They are professionals who always look top notch.  They have had to find stylists to replace me and prefer to try someone closer to home if they are going to make a change. After January, I will begin my reconstruction surgeries, 3 total.  By law, there is a 90-day waiting period between each one.  My hope is to have some good enough times between each surgery to service the clients I have left.  I know I will lose more, it is inevitable. I find it sad, but I know that my physical body will limit the amount I can do anyway.  I know it is probably for the best.  In the back of my mind, I keep thinking that I need to think about other occupations.  I just don't know how to do that when working so little right now hurts so bad.  I know that God is in control of this situation and he knows the plans he has for me.  I don't want to sound complaining or miserable, because I have so much to be thankful for everyday.  I do want people who are going through this to know what is happening to me, realizing that every case is different.

There is a dear girl who I met during chemo.  Her name is Kim. She often sat next to me and was always there with her fiancee.  She too, was being treated for triple negative breast cancer.  She was about a month ahead of me in her treatments.  I saw her at the cancer center a few weeks back.  Her hair had grown out about an inch and she looked great.  She was there delivering some Scentsy candles that some ladies had ordered.  We spoke, said hello, and parted.  A couple of weeks back on facebook I noticed that her profile picture was a picture of a Texas Christian University purple Scentsy.  Since I am an alumni, class of 1990, I asked her about the candle.  She had some bad news that her cancer was back and had spread.  She always has a great attitude and told me not to worry.  She was concerned about telling me and explained that just because hers was back, did not mean that I would not be OK.   She sweetly consoled me and told me I would be fine despite her new diagnosis.  Please pray for her.  She is staying busy managing apartments I believe.  She has the best attitude always!!!!

Speaking of attitudes....mine is one of hope and faith.  I am battling hormones, medication side effects, pain, and depression.  I have not exactly counted, but I am certain that I have cried everyday for at least a month.  Sometimes they are happy tears, and sometimes they are from fear, sometimes from pain, sometimes from sorrow, some are from disbelief that this is actually happening, some tears flow from the onset of the pain meds.  For many different reasons I cry everyday.  Some nights as I am laying in bed playing games on my iPhone, tears just start streaming....don't know why.  I just know that Kevin is asleep beside me and the kids are all tucked in bed...but I cry and have no apparent reason.  Sometimes its multiple times a day.  I don't what to do about it.  I am sure my family is perplexed and weary from it all.  I wish I could control it.  Overall, I think it is from having this huge life change/challenge.  You suddenly feel like your clock is ticking and you need to start living life hard.  Then you are faced with the reality that your body isn't the is not ready.  It is older and frail and broken.  So how do you go on grabbing the life out of everyday, dragging your body behind you, aches and pains and all.  Sometimes its overbearing....then the tears flow.  Someone told me that it is OK to cry and it is good for the soul, and it is a natural response and should not be inhibited.  It is the source and the reason for the tears that we should work on improving in our lives.  I think that I can live with that.  It sounds much better than "I am just falling apart".  So I will go with that.  It's OK, it is the body's natural response.  I love you people, whoever you are who keep me going with all your feedback and comments.  Each and every one of them mean so much to me.  I feel like I have a team that is standing behind me, supporting me, uplifting and encouraging me.  Until next time my friends...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Burn Baby Burn!

I know I have not written in a long time.  I have been battling and fighting the fatigue that comes with radiation treatments.  I go four days a week, run an errand or two afterwards, then go home and fall into the deepest sleep you could ever imagine.  I am very much so, that the doctor gave me a week off due to the extent of my burns.  The fatigue is immediate.  It literally feels like you lay on the table, get radiation while your blood is being drained.  I find myself having close calls while driving myself home.  I can barely stay awake, and there is this sense of hotness that comes with it.  The smell of burnt flesh stays with you all the time...going in and out of you with every breath.  I really thought this would be a lot easier than it has been.  It is still not as bad as chemo, but it is not easy.  The fatigue is always there everyday.  My eyes feel so dry and crisp.  It is like everything inside your body is hard and leathery, dry as a bone.  I have debated on whether to post the picture of myself showing my burns at #15.  There is no breast to see, nothing of any sexual nature.  So I think that I will because people don't realize exactly what radiation will do to your body.  I know that people facing radiation want to know what lies ahead for them.  I will say that not everyone reacts the same way.  A client of mine told me she had 38 radiation treatments to the breast and had no problems and did not get burned.  She saw the pictures of my burns and said that she experienced nothing like that at all.  So I don't want my situation to scare anyone.  Actually the burned part of my chest really hurts very little.  You must remember I have very few nerve endings left in that area.  The burn is nothing in comparison to the fatigue that I am experiencing.  I only have about six treatments left, and I just keep thinking that every cancer cell is being fried and killed....every last one.  I have had a really tough couple of days fighting depression.  I think the fatigue causes me to be depressed.  I have so much to be thankful for everyday.  I will write again soon and post more pictures as the burn heals.  I hope this is not offensive to anyone.  That is not my intention.  I hope instead that it may help someone else, a caretaker, a survivor, or anyone else who has to deal with the side effects of radiation.  Leave me your comments.  Until next time my friends...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Game, The Gift

I was thinking a lot today about how having cancer has changed my a good way.  There are a lot of things as you go through this battle that really bite.  In the end, those that survive the battle have something special to take with them.  At least that is how I feel.  I am a survivor, whether I survive one more year or 50 more years.  There is a song that says (I will summarize)...if you knew tomorrow was your last much different would you live it?  Surviving cancer gives you that perspective, and that is priceless.  I am reminded of the movie "The Game" starring Michael Douglas.  The following is a review of this movie:

 by Ásgeir Örn Nordquist  (Kópavogur, Iceland).
"Nicholas Van Orton, a successful businessman lives a good life until an unexpected birthday gift from his brother destroys it all. Nicholas has been enrolled in a game - "a profound life experience" that begins quietly but soon erupts in a rush of devastating events. Van Orton has to win this deadly game or lose control of everything in his life. And this time money and power are meaningless. This is a suspense/thriller, that does manage to hold one's attention. The film stars Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. Deborah Kara Unger (David Cronenberg's "Crash") turns in a fine supporting roll as well. Davd Fincher, director of Seven and Aliens 3, continues to set high standards for motion picture making. This lastest entree of Fincher's does not lose a beat in delivering the maximum impact of the story. This movie will get into your head. It will keep you guessing the whole time. If you don't give this movie a chance you'll never know what you missed."

Why do I think of this movie?  It is because Michael Douglas has been given a gift, but he has to fight for his life.  No money or power will help him.  In the end, he thinks he is dead, but he survives to find out it was all a game.  Why is it a gift?  Why does Michael Douglas' character end up thanking his brother for this "deadly" gift?  Because he will take with him a new value he holds on his life.  Something he would have never been able to see if he had not played "the game."  That is what surviving cancer has done for me.  Whether it is 1 more year or many more....I will no longer allow my days to  "suck the life out of me".  Instead, I will try to suck the life out of each day.  Little things that were a nuisance before, have become charming and special.  I realized this as I drove Presley up to the school for activity night.  I watched her walk away from the car, approaching a crowd of middle schoolers.  I thought to myself how special it was that I got to see this.  She is growing up fast.  Before, my thoughts might have been " I have to take you where now?".  It is easy to allow life to get the best of us.  But now I know the value of getting the best out of matter how small best is.  It is a gift, this new perspective.  To truly have it, you must have your life snatched from you, as you hold on to the last little bit...scratching and fighting tooth and nail to take it back.  That is how you get the gift. 

 It has been said that having breast cancer is like being elected to a club that you never wanted to be a part of; it is truly a sisterhood.  You hate that you are in "the club", but you are glad that there are so many who share in this battle with you.  The club members are very nice, and they know what you are facing.  You get to meet new clubs members everywhere, and everyone you know, knows someone in the club.  They all have the gift, the gift of a new perspective.  They don't sweat the small stuff.  They have a "bucket list", a list of all the things they want to do before they "kick the bucket".  So as I bring this post to an end, think about what you would do differently.  How would you live your life if you knew you were to your final days?  It is my hope that everyone could live like this without going through a horrific battle with cancer.  So live each day to the fullest, the best you know how.  Take the gift, steal the gift, grab it and run.  Whatever you do, don't wait for it to come to you.  Until next time my friends...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Angels. Angels with Skin On!

Hello friends!  I hope everyone is well.  Today I have completed my 7th radiation.  I am exhausted but my spirit is not broken.  Getting radiation makes you feel like you have been in the tanning bed too long.  You know if you have ever used a tanning bed and you have plans immediately after, you can't shake the sense of smell that you have tanned.  You really want to take a shower.  This is quite the same.  However, with radiation the sensation is coming from deep within.  You cannot get rid of it.  I wonder what it will feel like after 18 more of these treatments.  Except for the extreme fatigue, radiation has not been so bad.  My biggest physical challenge right now is dealing with bone pain everyday.  It comes on in the mid afternoon to early evening.  It seems since radiation started, the pain is coming on earlier in the afternoon and lasting longer. This pain was caused by the last four chemo treatments with the drug, TAXOL.  Taxol causes nerve damage, neuropathy, bone pain, and many of these symptoms can be long term or permanent.  After going through chemotherapy, my bones have felt hollow and weak and my muscles feel atrophied. After sitting for any length of time it is difficult to get up and walk. The good news is I am getting closer to the end of these types of treatments and looking forward to reconstruction.

Now I have to tell you about some amazing people in my life.  As you might remember, my oldest daughter is a senior at Richland High School this year and will graduate in May 2011.  She has the most awesome friends.  Sometimes, like right now, I think of them and just start to cry.  They are happy tears.  There are a few of her friends that make my day great with just a word or a visit.  First of all, there is Hayley.  Hayley is an excellent soccer player and is on the drum line in the band.  She gets up at the crack of dawn and is up late often working on school work.  She and her mother have been clients of mine for a while.  I have been blessed to get to know Hayley on a more personal level.  I have often called her my third daughter.  She and Landri have hung out together since middle school.  However, they have the busiest schedules that have kept them from spending the same amount of time together that they did in the past.  They are still good friends, and Hayley follows my blog.  She just seems to always lift me up whenever she can.  Sometimes when I am on Facebook, she will chat with me...even asking me questions about homework and such.  She makes me feel special and she is such an awesome young lady.  This week she sent me a text asking me to review a college essay for her.  I said I would and she sent it to me through Facebook.  I began tearing up the minute I started to read it.  It was about the person who had made the biggest impact on her life.  It was about me and my battle with triple negative breast cancer.  Wow!  I cannot express how honored I felt.  At the end of the essay, she said that I was her "hero".  How can this be?...That battling this awful disease has gained the attention of a teenager?  As a society, in general, we think of teenagers as self-centered, crazy, irresponsible, shallow individuals caught up in their own little world of friends and fun....existing far from the reality of the real world that is about to hit them.  I am here to tell you, there are some very mature, wonderful kids out there.  These kids work hard and put God at the forefront of their lives...and it shows.  They are kind and considerate and have a great future ahead of them. Hayley is one of these people, a beautiful, smart young lady. She will excel at anything she chooses to do, and I would be proud to call her my own anytime.

Another one of Landri's friends is Brooklyn.  She is a tall beautiful, athletic blonde that will impress you on the basketball court, but at the same time, you could imagine seeing her on the cover of a beauty magazine.  She is kind and sweet and she is a person with high morals and values.  She is a light for Christ and I am glad she is part of Landri's life.  She is often spending time with Landri after basketball practice and I have been blessed to get to know her as well.  She also reads this blog.  She has walked in the Race for the Cure with Landri this year, and was at the salon garage sale ready to help out in any way.  She always seems to give my spirits a lift.  Sometimes she will leave me comments on my blog.  Once again, I am proud of the girls and friends Landri has in her life.

Of course Landri and Presley are the greatest daughters I could ever have.  I am so proud of them both.  Landri is an amazing athlete, a natural born leader, and is strong in her faith.  She has been my cheerleader this year, keeping me up and fighting.  Presley is a beautiful kind-hearted angel.  She is always thinking of others.  Since I have had cancer, she has been especially attentive to me.  She asked me questions all the time like "How was your day mommy?"..."can I do anything for you?"  Sometimes despite how I try to hide them from her, she sees my tears.  She comes up to me and puts her arms around me and holds me.  She says "it's o.k. mommy...I am sorry you are hurting"..."I love you, you are the best mommy in the whole world"...I am truly blessed. 

I believe we all have guardian angels.  I also believe in the hardest times of our lives, God sends us angels "with skin on them".  Landri, Presley, Hayley, Brooklyn, and so many others, are my angels with skin on them.  I love to read your comments so don't hesitate to leave them by clicking "comment" on the bottom of this posting.  Until next time my friends....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Radiation 101

Well I was supposed to start radiation last week.  I went in for the simulation and markings etc. and the radiation oncologists (R.O.) said my heart was positioned in a very weird way inside my chest.  This is due to the fact that I have pectus excavatum.  In other words, my ribs cave in slightly instead of having a nice curvature outwards.  My left ventricle is sticking straight up/out the chest wall instead of pointing to my side where it should be.  So no photon radiation for me as this cannot be done without radiating the heart.  The R.O. said she would use electron beam radiation because the depth can be controlled and it can be done without affecting my heart.  I really have had to try to sort this out in my head because I just did not have a good feeling about the whole thing.  I keep thinking "what is God trying to tell me about this?"  The two ladies in the radiation room who get me all set up are very personable and nice. So I started yesterday, Monday for the first treatment after questioning the doctor some more with Kevin in the room.  (In case you don't know this, our doctors don't like this very much.  We were told that we wouldn't understand because we did not go to school for twelve years to study how to give radiation.  Well, darn it!  I  found out I am not a doctor and my questions are irritating and not really that important.  It's too bad in those twelve years of schooling they don't emphasize doctor/patient communication more!)  Blah, blah, blah!  Whatever!  Kevin and I had to bite out tongues to keep from giving Miss R.O. America the "what for".   It doesn't take long at all to get the radiation, but I am already feeling some sting from it.  I am still dealing with some pretty severe fatigue.  I could literally sleep for 10-18 hours at a time.  Then I will have a burst of energy and I am down again. 

 Today I slept until it was time to get up and get ready to leave for radiation.  When I got home, I put my IPhone on the speaker mount and I began cleaning.  Years ago I taught all kinds of aerobics and exercise classes.  Now I can turn house cleaning into a workout, especially now that it is so easy to get winded.  So I have done laundry all day and vacuumed.  Then I mopped the floor with my feet and a towel and a bottle of cleaner.  All done with grace and style, I might some really good music.  Ok, now if you are believing the "grace and style" part, well we've got to talk.  It was a good one hour heart-pumping work out.  The steroids have left my body thankfully, and I feel like I have a chance to start slimming down...if my energy decides to lend me a visit every now and then that is.  I will tell you one of my side effects of the radiation.  Many of you remember the early days of the tanning bed's popularity.  Well, I was working in health clubs during those early days and I would tan for literally an hour or more at a time (there were not the restrictions like there are now).  Of course I would never let anyone in the general public do this, but we employees used to lay in the beds after hours WAY past the suggested maximum time limits.  It was then that I discovered the term "prickly heat".  This is when you feel something like needles poking you after overexposure to the sun or tanning beds.  Well, I felt that the first day after radiation and today too!  The weird thing is, I did not feel it in the area that they radiated.  I felt it in my lower right leg, my left leg, and a few other places.  Very strange.  I also noticed that I have an appearance of lines across both sides of my chest even though the left side is the only one being radiated.  The lines almost look like sheet marks...or whelps.  They were there after both radiation sessions, but gone by morning. Anyways, I lay on the table in position and I stare at this opening in the acoustical ceiling tile.  Someone has deliberately carved out an opening so that a laser beam of some sort can pass through the tiles to line up with the machine.  There is some sort of mechanism up inside the ceiling and I can see the red beam shining out of the opening.  So I stare, and I focus, and I pray.  The opening is the shape of a cross.  I just keep my focus on that and I pray for God's protection and healing.  I pray that I made the right decision.  Leave me a comment on my blog if you like.  I took the filter off so there should not be a problem.  If you leave me a comment through my postings on facebook, then all who are led to this blog are missing out on your comments.  I have had some excellent advice and so much encouragement.  I know there are other triple negative survivors that are reading this that need your words of support too!  Click on "comment(s)"  below the blog in tiny print and leave me a word.  Until next time my friends...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting Past The Shadows In Your Head

Well, I have not been blogging lately.  I am still waiting to start radiation.  It is Friday night and I am waiting on Kevin to get home.  The girls are with their dad.  Monday I will go in for a "test drive" session of radiation.  I have received the "tattoos" already this past week.  These are just three little dots that are permanently inked on either side of your chest under the arms and one dead center in the just below the chest.  These are reference points for measurements and markings that the physicists will use to plan out the angles of attack with the radiation.  I have secretly been debating on having radiation at all.  I just have not felt sure about it.  I kind of broke down in the radiation oncologists office and she asked me if I was having second thoughts.  I told her that I just wanted to get it over if she really thought that I needed it.  I also told her that I needed to get back to work at least on Fridays and Saturdays and I did not want the stress of all this and the possibility that I might get burned.  She said to me "well how about we just do this Monday through Thursday, 25 sessions?"  I said it was a deal.  I thought it was good that at least I don't have to work and get radiated on the same days, and I will have 3 days to heal and try to keep the skin healthy for reconstruction.  

I had my first set of scans done and they said they were all clear.  I know that is good news.  Somehow though, I wasn't jumping for joy.  I guess I just have an uneasy feeling about the way that these doctors do things.  I have never been offered a PET scan.  When we asked, they said that "they weren't really as good .....(for this, that, etc)".  I know there have been many cases where women were given clear scans one week and literally 3 weeks later were stage 4 with mets in the liver, bones, etc.  I know that many women feel that they have this cloud that hangs over them for the first five years.  Another thing I don't really like is the fact that my oncologist is now saying that I am going to get scans done every 6 months.  At first they said every 3 months, unless I am crazy (which could be true:).  I just remember how fast these tumors grew.  They were growing about 1/2cm every two weeks.  A average breast cancer tumor has a Ki 67 score of about 15-20%.  This is how fast and how many cells are replicating so to speak.  My Ki 67 was 90%.  These little boogers were moving!!  So the idea that some of these nasty cells are floating out there and looking for someplace to land and I am only going to get scanned every six months doesn't really sit well with me.  I am trying to stay positive, and I hate sounding negative. 

 So the radiation oncologist explained to me why I needed radiation.  I asked her if the chemo kills the cancer cells then why radiate the chest.  Her answer made sense.  She told me that due to the fact that I had a mastectomy prior to chemo, many of the tiny blood vessels had been cut/damaged.  Because of this, the chemo drugs don't circulate well into the chest area.  I can see where this is true because I have little feeling in the chest area, under the arms, and into my back.  I know the nerves have been severed, so one can assume that the blood vessels have been damaged too.  So Monday is the practice session, and the real deal happens Tuesday.

I guess every cancer patient who finishes treatments has anxiety over their cancer spreading, coming back, and just being missed.  That is the challenge...getting past the shadows lurking in your head.  It is tough to shove them down and keep them out of the way.  Getting back to your life, a new and hopefully better life is the goal.  Please leave me a comment.  I love reading them.  Until next time my friends...

Sunday, August 29, 2010


On May 19th I posted a blog about my friend Heather who live in Van Wert, Ohio.  She was getting chemo for her triple negative breast cancer that had advanced to stage four.  The chemo was not helping and she was told to get her affairs in order.  She did not give up hope.  She kept her faith that there would be healing for her.  I am going to repost my response to her as well as a message I received last week from her through FACEBOOK.

From "The Spec on a Pig's Butt" from May 19th

Live each day to its fullest. NONE of us know when our last day will be. I am sorry it was so exhausting for you. Keep the faith and know you are healed. Just make up your mind and live your life. Put this cancer behind you. Just think of it as over. If there is something else you can do, then God will show you. In the meantime, you don't have to worry about it, because it is in God's hands not yours. Give it up to him and feel released from that burden. Tell God it is all his and if he wants you to take action in any way other than what you are doing now, to show you and make it clear. Pray for discernment to know when God is speaking. There are hundreds of prayers going up for you so don't worry. Now start living your life and enjoy every minute. Don't let this disease steal one more minute of another day with worry. God is way bigger. I truly believe that Satan is using these people, like the nurse who gave you your Neulasta shot, and maybe even the doctor... stumbling over her words. That is just Satan trying to give you the spirit of fear. Now you need to laugh at his ugly face and tell him your God is greater and by the blood of Jesus and by his stripes you are healed. Tell Satan he is messing with the wrong girl because in Christ you have no fear and "all things are possible with him who gives me strength". You tell that scum Satan that you will NOT be afraid and he is a little tiny wimpy stinky spec of dirt on a sweaty pigs butt. His "powers" are nothing compared to the works and the miracles God performs every day. And healing your cancer is nothing compared to so many of God's miracles. Satan, this is Penny, and if you are reading these words you are so stupid to think you have any way of stealing my sister Heather's hope, faith, or joy. You might as well go run and hide in Jesus' name because Heather is a strong woman of faith and when she feels weak, God has given her people like me to help pick her up again. He has given her an army of prayer warriors that are praying for her and cursing your name.....Now Heather, tell Satan to be gone in Jesus' name...and he can take his fear with him and shove it up his pitched forked tail! OK, now if the little booger decides to come you know how to talk to him. I love you!---(Penny)

So many of you have wondered how she is doing since then. She made drastic changes in her diet, strengthened her faith, and eventually ended up at Cancer Treatment Centers of American in Zion, Illinois.  This is the message I received from her last week. 

Hey girl...thinking and praying for you my pink warrior girlfriend.....I hope this email finds you well. I have some good news to share w/ you...Dr. Citrin says that I am going into remission w/ my cancer and it is going to be long term !!!!!! My ctc have been a "0" the last 4 times.......they started out @ a 92 ! How amazing is our God Penny :) He is the ultimate physician !!!! I am going to have another chemo of carboplatin/ gemzar this Wed.....and another one on Sept. 8th. !!!!! I am so happy that I am responding Penny:) Yippeee :) Thank you for all your blessed prayers my friend.....pls. keep them coming.....Prayer is Powerful :) God Bless you and Love ya~ Pls. keep me posted on your dx :) Sending positive energy and peace your way......Love U ~ Heather Lynne

So my point is...God is the ultimate physician.  If you are stage four with any kind of cancer, do not let Satan steal your hope, faith, or joy.  Do not listen to doctors who have only negative to say.  God is way more powerful than any other physician, even those with the highest knowledge and deepest faith and greatest intentions.  Heather's words have been copied and pasted with her permission.  If you would like to read more about this go to May 19th's blog.  Thanks Heather for letting me share your exciting news of God's miracles.  Until next time my friends...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sharing An Amazing Video...The Scar Project

My good friend Pat Quintal sent me this link.  It is an amazing video which features some very courageous women who are all survivors.

After watching this...I don't have much to say today.  Please leave your comments and turn up your speakers.  There is some great music in this video. Until next time my friends...


Friday, August 13, 2010

In Limbo Land

Limbo land...that is where I am at today.  I am glad for the break, glad I am finished with chemo.  Now I am waiting to start radiation.  First I am seeing a urologist to deal with this mystery phantom UTI which the doctors say isn't that at all.  Even though I have taken over 50 antibiotic pills, they say I have no infection.  I do however have unexplained pain.  I did look up on the internet what the symptoms of bladder cancer are and they are the same as a urinary tract infection.  Of course the doctors hate it when you do this (as does my husband).  They think you are paranoid and that you think every little ache and pain is the cancer spreading.  No, doctors, I am not paranoid.  However, I have been dealing with this pain and UTI symptoms for over ten weeks without any answers or solutions.   The nurse who said it definitely was NOT cancer would not give me a referral to a urologist (she works directly for my oncologist and surgeon).  I asked her how she knew it wasn't cancer.  She acted irrated that I even asked.  Here's the deal, I doubt that it is the cancer spreading, but I do think I deserve to know how she is so sure. I remember a radiologist that read my mammogram and sonogram that was so sure my "lumps" were not cancer either!   She said I had to go to my regular doctor and get a referral.  PLEASE!!!!  So what they are telling me is they can treat me with strong antibiotics (ones that happen to cause lung damage as a major side effect).  They can give me numerous tests, switch my antibiotics back and forth, give me chemo for cancer, but you can't send me to a urologist for symptoms that started during my cancer treatments.  I have to go to my regular doctor for this, who happens to be a nurse practitioner.  As a matter of fact, I think she is the only person I have seen who doesn't think I'm a raving paranoid idiot.  Carol Dvorack, the only person I completely trust at this point in my medical journey with this cancer.  She listens to me, takes the information and makes an informed decision based on her knowledge AND what information I am giving her.  She is the one who told me to see Mary Brian, my breast surgeon.  This was after I told her that I thought the radiologist did not know what he was doing by telling me to come back in six months after my mammo and sonogram.  She did not think I was paranoid, and it is a good thing since two weeks later I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, with grade 3 tumors dividing and replicating at a 90% proliferation rate.  Normal breast cancer tumors are at 10-20%.  Being your own advocate for your own health care is a must.  I am so sick of doctors who think they are God and think that the patient's knowledge has no value.  I may have not gone to medical school, but I know when something is not right in my body.  Which brings me to this.  When I visited with the plastic surgeon in San Antonio, I had to take all my medical records and every test with me to give them.  The scan of my kidneys showed a 4 mm kidney stone that was not blocking anything at the time of the scan.  So you think that since I have been having unexplained symptoms of a UTI for over ten weeks now...probably more like twelve, with negative urine test for bacterial infection, they might have looked at the scans of the kidneys and urinary tracts.  Just a thought, people!  Maybe it is totally unrelated, but nurse (I will refrain from mentioning her name)...please don't act like I am paranoid and know nothing.  By the way, I was never told about the kidney stone by anyone.  I get it, I have is not important at this point.  But it would have been nice to know and I guarantee this nurse has no idea.  Oh well, I guess I am irritable.  This is probably because Diagnostic Health in Keller who did my mammo and sono called me to confirm my six month follow-up (the one that the radiologist ordered who said I had 3 benign "nodules").  I explained to the lady that I just finished chemo and I had no breast at this point and would never be back there again.  So I had never cancelled the appointment; I have been busy.  So the lady who confirms all the appointments called me and we had a discussion.  She was actually very nice.  I cried when the conversation ended.  I guess if I had not followed my instincts, I would be dead right now or I would be finding out on monday that I had stage 4 breast cancer.  I have learned to count my blessings.  God has given me a strong gift of discernment.  We have had so many blessings the past six months.  There are too many to count.  But I know they have been plentiful.  Thank you Lord!  Until next time my friends...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Getting Back to "Normal"

Well friends, I hope everyone is well.  I have been recovering from the last chemo session, and I am starting to feel more "normal" everyday.  Of course, this is a new "normal".  There is a normal that one has before a life threatening illness and all the treatments that go with it, and then there is a new "normal" that you experience after cancer, chemo, and the likes.  I am shooting for the new normal that I hope life will bring me closer to everyday. My strength is growing everyday with little reminders here and there that I can't do all that I once was used to doing. 
I have been enjoying this little break...the "after chemo, but before radiation".  It's a limbo-land that I wish would last a little longer.  I am enjoying time with my kids, and still finding time to rest everyday.  I am enjoying not being in pain any longer and starting to be able to do more and more.  I think of all the people that have prayed for me and I thank them.  I know there are so many that have and still do everyday.  I know things could have been so much harder without the prayers of so many people.  Thank you to everyone and most of all thank you to my wonderful husband who has been there for me in so many ways.  He has been my hero.  Thank you to my girls who have shown me what the word "courageous" really means.  Thank you to my mother-n-law for all her hard work and efforts taking such good care of me and being there for surgery, chemos, and so much more.  My friends and co-workers at the salon, I could not have made it without you guys.  My sisters, I love you both and thank God that you have been there for me.  The Garden Friends....your prayers have a direct line to heaven I do believe.  And for everyone out there you know who you are...thank you for your prayers.  They have been heard, and God has got me through this far, and I thank everyone.  Until next time my friends...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Road Trip! The DIEP Flap Reconstruction- San Antonio

Hello everyone!  So last week I finished my last chemo session.  Hurray!  So with radiation quickly approaching in the next few weeks, I had to decide what kind of reconstruction options were available. I traveled to San Antonio on Sunday to stay in a hotel and get up Monday to visit with some doctors who are highly skilled and knowledgable with the DIEP Flap procedure I have been researching. This is not an implant surgery.  With most implant surgeries, the use of expanders are necessary and put in place before radiation.  They are filled every two weeks to stretch the skin, and sometimes skin graphs are necessary.  With this, often comes a great chance of infections & pain.  Also, there is the inconvenience of an extra surgery.  I had been researching a new procedure called the DIEP Flap, Deep Inferior Epigastric Perferator Flap.  This is different than the TRAM flap, where the breast are rebuilt from an abdominal muscle and tissue that is "channeled" under the skin up to the breast.  This often causes complications with sitting up and using the abdominal muscles which have been partially removed. This tissue is still attached to the lower part of the body, but runs like a "tram" under the skin so that it has blood supply.  With the DIEP FLAP procedure, the belly fat and skin along with blood vessels from the groin area are completely detached with incisions across the lower tummy, like a tummy tuck procedure.  The breast shapes are then cut out of the tissue and shaped.  The surgeons work under a microscope using microsurgery techniques and reattach the arteries and veins using suture material barely visible to the naked eye.  The surgery is long and tedious and requires highly skilled surgeons.  Currently there are about 40-45 surgeons in country performing this procedure and 5 of them are at a facility in San Antonio, Texas.  They are the Plastic Reconstructive & Microsurgery Associates.  They perform over 500 a year.  If you google "diep flap San Antonio" their site will come up in the top few.

There are many benefits to this procedure.  First of all, no surgery for expanders.  This procedure uses your own natural living body tissue and because of this, their is little risk of infection or rejection.  The surgeons are moving healthy, non-radiated tissue up to the chest area.  The appearance is more natural looking than implants, and you get a "tummy tuck" with a much flatter, attractive appearance left in the abdominal region.  The abdominal muscles are left in tact and remain strong.  So it was worth the trip to San Antonio to get all this nailed down.  Insurance of course has to be approved, but they don't seem to think it is a problem.  This group of doctors do not "balance bill" what the insurance company won't pay, which is a big plus for me. I have heard that standard reconstruction surgeries can cost in the range of $90,000.  A friend of Kevin's said that is what theirs cost to the insurance company.  His wife had a Tram flap procedure done on one side and an implant procedure on the other due to the burns from radiation on one side.  I am sure this DIEP Flap procedure is well over $100,000.  That is one of those things that you won't know until everything is said and done.  It all depends on the rates negotiated with insurance companies.  Thank God for our insurance.  We found out today that they have paid out over $140,000 to date in medical payments.  We also found out that I have a lifetime maximum benefit of $2,000,000.00.  Two Million Dollars!!!  Time to start praying that there are no recurrences with this cancer and no other major medical problems.  That could add up really fast with scans and tests 2-3 times a year, and I have many years ahead of me that I will need medical coverage (I am thinking positive here). 

There is only one doctor in all of Dallas/Fort Worth that is doing this procedure, but I feel more comfortable with a "team" of doctors who perform hundreds a year and have accountability to each other.  The surgery is quicker with a minimum of two micro surgeons working at a time, so their is less time under general anesthesia.  I was really impressed with the doctors and staff.  Assuming everything is approved with the insurance, I will possibly have the first phase of reconstruction in November, about 8 weeks after radiation is finished.  This is much sooner than we anticipated and it will depend on my healing from radiation.  The second phase of the surgery is nipple reconstruction and any modifications needed.  The last phase is tattooing the nipple color.

To all my blog followers, this is probably too much information.  But to some who are facing these decisions and wondering about their options, I wanted to share this with you.  After all the abuse my body has taken in the last few months, it is good to think about getting "rebuilt" to a new and improved me.  In the meantime, I will be trying to shed about 30-40 pounds in the next 4 months before reconstruction so I can wake up from surgery with a new, healthier, fit me!  Getting off these steroids will be wonderful, and I plan on starting Weight Watchers next week and getting to the pool at least Monday through Thursday.  Being on a low-fat diet and exercising is crucial with survivors of triple negative breast cancer.  It is the number one thing that increases the chances of keeping the cancer at bay after treatments are over.  It is something I can control.  So it is now not only about looking better and feeling better, but about staying alive and extending my years.  Still love getting your comments and please join my blog by clicking "follow" on the right hand side of the page if you have not already.  Until next time my friends...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seeing the Light At The End of The Chemo Tunnel

Tomorrow I am getting my last infusion of Taxol, my last chemo session.  It will be my eighth chemo total.  I am very glad to get this part of the treatment over with and done.  From what I understand, Adriamycin, Cytoxan, and Taxol, have a four time life time maximum dosage which I have received.  I know some people receive Taxol over a longer period in smaller amounts.  Basically, I have received all that I can have.  If I were to have a recurrence in the chest wall or distant metastasis, then other drugs would be used.  I don't want to think about that right now, but I am glad to know that I will never receive these types of drugs again.  The permanent side effects of these are yet to be seen.  However, I am currently experiencing neuropathy in both feet, mostly in the toes...and some in my hands.  The past few days I have been plagued with fatigue, overwhelming fatigue.  It has been hard to keep my eyes open and stay awake because I am so tired.  It is almost like my brain is not getting enough oxygen.  I am being treated again for a urinary tract infection with more antibiotics.  I have fought the bone pain again, however this time it did not seem as intense.  Overall, I am glad that I am seeing this part of the treatments come to an end.

Many of you have been praying for me and my online triple negative friend, Heather.  Heather has been in Zion, Illinois getting treatments at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  Her cancer got worse before it got better, but I am glad to announce that she is responding well to her treatments and all the natural therapies that she has done.  Her tumor markers the other day went to zero!!!  Amazing!  To think she was told to get her affairs in order...God has other plans for her.  Thanks to everyone who has been praying for her. One thing I can say about CTCA is they approach healing from every angle.  They provide nutritional counseling, lifestyle coaching, emotional and spiritual counseling, and the latest in medical science.  They believe in the whole circle of healing.  Another friend of my sister's is getting treatments there and gets acupuncture while she is hooked up to her chemo.  She has it arranged, but just the simple fact that they allow it to be done in there facility says a lot.  If my disease ever advances I will definitely consider going there for treatments.  Go Heather!!!!  I am so happy for you, keeping the faith and being so courageous to keep fighting and not letting Satan steal your hope!  Thanks to everyone for your prayers, and keep them coming for us both.  Thanks to all my blog followers for giving me an outlet to write about my experiences.   Also, I thank you for all your encouragement during this time.  It has meant the world to hear from you.  Leave me a comment.  Until next time my friends...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Looking forward to the Last chemo!

Well friends, it has been one week since my 7th Taxol chemo took place.  What does that mean?  It means that I have exactly one week before my final chemo session happens.  It will be almost exactly four months after my double mastectomy.  These were four hard, long, educational months, months that give you a whole new outlook on life, love, family, and your health.  Being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer is definitely educational.  Why?  Because most people have never heard of it, or they can tell you very little about it.  So the search is on...on to find everything out that one can about this nasty horrible disease.  In a nutshell, I am going to enlighten you about what I have learned. 

Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) affects women who are mostly under 40 years of age.  The majority are African American young women, and several are Latino.  Most will express mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes which means a 70% chance of having breast cancer in one's lifetime and a 40% chance of having ovarian cancer.  I myself am 42, Caucasian, and negative for either of the gene mutations....a rare breed so to speak. Very little is known about TNBC except that it does not express receptors for estrogen, progesterone, or HER2 like most breast cancer tumors.  Tumors that are positive for these receptors are now more easily treated after normal therapies with drugs like Tamoxifen and Herceptin and others that block the hormones from feeding the tumors.  TNBC tumors are not fed by these hormones and there are no drugs to follow up with after chemo or radiation.  Chemo and radiation are the only current treatments for TNBC survivors.  TNBC has a higher recurrence rate, a higher mortality rate, and a much greater chance for distant metastasis.  This kind of cancer will often spread to the brain, lungs, liver, or bones.  The time frame for metastasis often peaks between years two and three.  These years are crucial.  Once a metastasis-free time period of 5 years has passed, one is virtually out of danger and considered cured.  These tumors are rapidly growing, very aggressive types.  Their cells often have up to a 60% chance of leaking out and looking for someplace to land and grow into more tumors in other areas of the body (stage iv).  Chemo will fail in 50% of these cases and the disease will recur or advance to other areas. 

TNBC occurs in only about 10-15% of all breast cancers, but accounts for about 25% of all breast cancer deaths.  Therefore, there has been a push for more research in this area.  It is considered the "hot topic" in breast cancer research.  It is an area that is widely unexplored and is in desperate need for some breakthrough new treatments.  These are the highlights of what I have learned about the disease and my diagnosis.  So coming to the end of the chemo is exciting and scary.  Now comes radiation, more surgeries, and then the waiting game...  Better yet, trying not to play the waiting game.  The biggest challenge is getting on with your life, focusing on quality not quantity.  Any cancer diagnosis changes the value you put on today, making the most of every moment.  This is hard during treatments, because many of those moments are spent trying to get through the effects of the treatments.  If you are not a blog follower, please join by clicking on "follow" to the right hand side of the page.  I have spent the past few months trying to spread awareness about TNBC.  I hope to God that I have made a difference, and that I will continue to do so.  I have used my FACE BOOK as a platform for spreading awareness.  It has no longer the same social implications for me.  If there is another friend I can add or request, I do so.  It is one more person who might read the blog and find out what TNBC is.  The more people are aware, the more the public demands research and answers. The more attention it receives, the more chances for grants, money, and treatments.  I have many FACE BOOK friends who are kindly re-posting my blog link on their home page, visible to hundreds of other friends.  I have had many contacts from friends of friends of friends, who were triple negative, or had loved ones who were.  God bless all who are willing to share this info.  Many years ago, people did not know what a pink ribbon stood for, but now they do.  Soon, over the next few years, people will know what TRIPLE NEGATIVE BREAST CANCER is.  Until next time my friends...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Silver Lining

Hello my friends!  This weekend was a hot, tiring weekend...but a great one.  The garage sale at the salon was a huge success.  My pain was manageable or it was so hot that I did not notice it as much :)  Either way, I got to go and stay quite awhile both days.  The music was great and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun despite all the hard work and the stifling heat.   I am amazed by all the people that chipped in and helped that did not even really know me.  There are good people in this world for sure!  We raised some $$ for TNBC Foundation, too!  A big thank you goes out to all my wonderful salon friends who worked so hard....Linda, Vicky, Susan, Sandy, Joyce, Carol, Mattie, Suzette, Shonna, and all the husbands.... and Ken (who spent the night in the parking lot sleeping in his truck Saturday night)....and all the others at the salon who helped spread the word and give their time.  Thank you to Patsy (MAM) and my sister Cindy and my brother-n-law Kyle and all family for all their help.    Also everyone who brought and donated items, made cookies, brought drinks and coolers.  Armstrong McCall, the salons foremost supplier has been so awesome at spreading the word and providing many tables for the sale. are awesome!  Everyone at the salon who got their clients involved.....thank you!!!!  It is not possible for me to mention everyone....I know I don't remember or know about each person....but I thank them from the bottom of my heart!!! 

So today was Monday and I woke up in a lot of pain.  I was able to kick it with the pain meds but slept for 6 hours straight.  My girls have been wonderful.  They have done laundry, vacuumed, cleaned, and just taken care of me and each other.  They are awesome and have had a lot of fun this summer despite having to deal with their mom having cancer.  I feel really blessed to have such awesome kids, and their friends are amazing.  I love having them over.  They all have offered to help me in so many ways and they have been so supportive of Landri and Presley. I am glad everytime all the kids are over here hanging out together.  Blake is Landri's new boyfriend and he was at my house at 6:45 on saturday morning with his truck to load up things for the garage sale.  He seems to be a great guy and Landri is all smiles.  Taylor, Landri's buddy, and Justin, Taylor's boyfriend are over here as well and always are offering their support and help. Taylor always gives me a big hug everytime I see her.  I feel really blessed by all the love around me.  I know my family and friends have become much closer since my diagnosis.  It seems that it is the silver lining of having cancer.  I am so glad that there is a silver lining and I am blessed with so many people in my life walking beside me on this long road. God bless all these people!  Please leave me a comment if you wish.  Until next time my friends...

Friday, July 9, 2010


Yesterday was my 3rd Taxol chemo treatment for triple negative breast cancer.  Only one more chemo left!! Yippie!  The bad news was that my white blood count was in the dangerously low levels so they would not let me skip the Neulasta shot this time.  This means some more serious pain coming my way.  Actually it has already started to creep in.  I began taking my pain medication this morning.  Tomorrow will be the third day since treatment and that is normally when it gets really bad and persist for about a week, maybe more with this NeulastaNeaulasta is an $8250 shot that hangs out in your system until it is needed to trigger bone marrow to produce white bloods cells.  This can cause some pretty serious bone pain.  For me, it greatly increases the pain of the Taxol treatments, which causes me most of the crippling pain that I experience in my joints and bones.  I am praying to feel good this weekend.  I need a miracle.  Why?  Because I have some amazing people doing some wonderful things for my family and I would like to be there to witness it all happen.

Vicky, my best friend of 18 years now and so many of my other co-workers have organized this huge garage sale to benefit me and my family's extra expenses of medical and me not working, etc.  Clients from everywhere and other salons have brought things and many have donated tables, clothing racks, and there time to help out.  Saturday will go from 8-6 with an Elvis tribute performance artist, and an "I love Frank Sinatra" singer at the gazebo.  Sunday will be the Russel Dorsey Band, a Big Band Swing group who are very popular locally.  All this for me?  Still can't believe it, but I am feeling the love!

My girls, Landri and Presley,my niece Leah, Cindy my sister, and many of their friends are helping out as well and volunteering their time.  My family will be running a table selling pink lemonade, breast cancer pink ribbon hats, visors, key chains, pins, bookmarks, magnetic car ribbons, breast cancer awareness bracelets, etc....100% of the profits going to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.  They will also be handing out free publications and educational material about all kinds of different cancers, awareness and their prevention....and of course free balloons for the kiddos!  Sunday there are a large group of stylists, many of whom I used to work with from Avatar Salon, and several from The Yellow Brick Salon are coming over to do wet cuts for a donation.  So many good, generous people in this world.  Ken Cater, my friend and the new owner of the Yellow Brick has spent a lot of time carrying donated items from the salon to the empty lease space the shopping center donated to us for storage.  Linda, his mother and many other stylists have worked really hard pricing items in an un-airconditioned space...working tirelessly until there was no light to work in.  I can't express my gratitude enough to all these people who made this happen.  I just really want to be there as you can see why.  So if you are in the area, this Saturday and Sunday please come and enjoy the music and go treasure hunting at the gargage sale.  There will be drinks, cookies and such as well.  Come stop by the salon and check it out and don't forget the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation table full of goodies and accepting donations. 

The address is

The Yellow Brick Salon
485 W Harwood Rd
Hurst, TX 76054

Located at the Village Plaza Shopping Center @ SE Corner of Harwood & Hurstview

Thanks to all who did so much to put this together.  What is really cool about this event is after it is all over....a church group is picking up all the leftover items and they will be having a sale for an orphanage that they have been collecting items for as well.  Recycled generosity...I love it.  I am sure there will be a lot left over because I have seriously never seen so much stuff.  I hope to be able to get out of bed tomorrow.  Right now Presley has a sore throat and stomach ache so it is possible that we both may be home tomorrow, but I will let you know how everything pans out.  Thanks to all my followers for your encouragement.  Please leave me your comments, as I love to read them.  Until next time my friends...