Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thank you Jesus!!

This time last year, I honestly wasn't certain whether or not I would survive to see this Christmas. I am ecstatic! While my health has not quite yet caught up with my head, this year is so much better than last. I am 7 surgeries in and holding up..well, I have a cold, but in my case, that just doesn't count! ;)

And EVERY Christmas we have so much to be thankful for, so first things first. Thank you Lord...for being. Christmas is because of Who we celebrate- Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He came into this world through Mary, the immaculate virgin of Nazareth. .....and for always being there for me, in light, in darkness, in strength and in weakness. Even when I turned away. You were there. You are there. I hear you - more than ever before. I see all the little miracles now. And I am certain that I have missed many in years gone by, but I silently wait and hope you will continue to show me more. And you do. I am humbled by your grace. You are my every coincidence. Amen.

To my breast cancer sisters, I pray for you each night. You are never far from my heart. From my mouth to God's ears, I pray for your speedy recovery. Timi, Janet, Suzi, Norma, Adrienne, Cindy, Debbie...there are so many of you that I could name another 50 names.......For each one of you, my wish is peace and hope.

My new definition of HOPE is this: Humility, Obedience, Pampering, and Empathy. We should be humble; courteous and respectful of others. Obedience is that we should care for our bodies as God intends and treat it as a temple. We should find the time to pamper our own tired bodies, and others for they fight some kind of battle, too. And finally, empathize with others to understand who they are and why they feel as they do. These things will help make all of us better people.

My last message this beautiful Christmas evening is in regard to another type of blog. On Facebook, we have a "Random acts of kindness" blog. I love it. There are several people committed to doing at least one kind thing for someone else each day. I am so very moved by this group. I hope it becomes HUGE and I would love to see everyone I know take one day and pay it forward or perform an act of kindness. There is so much unjust and there are a lot of people who could benefit from your smile, your hand, an opened door, a bag of groceries.....heck, buy a stranger a lottery ticket...who knows, YOU could change their life. That may be a stretch, but you get the idea.

So, today, while this may not be so random, here is my story. I have been under the weather, but I got up and did it anyway....I have a brother who has spent more of his life behind bars than not, he has hurt many of our family members by lying or stealing. I could go further, but its not necessary. I took cough medicine, ibuprofen, put on my best smile and went to see him on this Christ-mas day. After having to wait for more than an hour to get in, I finally got to see him and was glad I went. It did us both a world of good. We sat and talked and laughed with some other folks nearly the entire time. And I fed him - lots of junk food. His favorite is a honey bun with peanut butter with m&ms mashed up on top. His smile was so genuine and he couldn't believe that I came to see him on Christmas. I knew that it had been important to him. He is my brother, and I miss him. And I smiled to myself as I thought, "I know, I know...WWJD? He would visit." Message received. Like I said, I'm glad I went. While you cannot change stupid behavior, you can promote harmony and give of yourself to help another.

While this may not fall into the category of a random act of kindness and I don't really think it should, I tell the story because it is the immediate effect my visit had on my brother that is the moral of the story. When you do something, big or small, for another person out of love or compassion you bring something special to their day......and in that one special moment all is exactly as it should be.

My children have been blessed with an abundance of gifts and I have had the ability to "adopt a child" for Christmas. I bought her many things, and trust me, it did more for my soul than it will have done for her this day...but oh how I would have loved to have been there when she opened her Princess Barbie......that was number one on her list!

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope that in your day you have kept Christ in your 'mas and listened to him as you've gone about your busy schedules. Take the time to quiet your soul and hear him for he IS talking to you.

And, now, how does all of this relate to my cancer and Christmas. I am here, and I get feel, live, smell, laugh and take it all in. Every single breath of it. And my promise is to continue to keep Christ front and center, do good for others, random or not, and always, always, keep HOPE in my life.

Friday, December 24, 2010

One Set at at Time

Ladies - and men! I just want to share a recent FB email with you. It is the reason I started this blog, and continue to do this blog. It is also my Christmas wish for every woman who reads this that they will mark their calendars to schedule their annual mammograms and perform their monthly breast self exam. It could save your life.

In its entirety, my friend and old co-worker sent me this about one week ago:

"Just wanted to let you know that I had my mammogram done and the girls are healthy as can be. Viera diagnostics, who does the mammograms, gives roses to each of the women who come in for the test. The technician who did the test was so nice too!

I felt important and respected because I went in for my test. Sounds so silly when I see it in writing however, I really wanted to share this with you because of all you have been through and you inspired me to make the appointment.

Thought this would bring a smile to your face. Merry Christmas Arla, for you are a shining star".

And that note, my friends, made me feel like a shining star this week. To know that she is healthy - and took the time to do this important test.

Merry Christmas to all of you. May you be blessed beyond your wildest dreams with peace, good health and happiness.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lucky 7

This morning I had my "Lucky 7" - seventh surgery that is. They finally worked on reconstructing my nipples. I was wide awake for the entire thing - now THAT was different. A little freaky for someone like me. I don't like blood and guts - especially my own. BUT, as usual, they did a fine job.....thought I might just wrap myself up, slap a bow on me for a Merry Christmas!! LOL!

It certainly will be merry. After all, how could it not be? I am here and I have the ability to help myself and hopefully help, or at least lift the spirits of others, too.

This Christmas, I bought for a young girl, 3 years old and it brought me such great joy. I remember being that little girl some years ago. Dirt poor and nothing for Christmas but a dinner - which was fine for me because we didn't know anything else.

As you get tossed about in the Christmas rush, I hope you remember the true meaning of why we celebrate. So much has gotten lost in gift giving instead of being thankful and honoring our good Lord who gives us so much and who was born and died for us.

Wishing you safe travels and a peaceful holiday season.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Saying Goodbye with Grace

In her words: "There are times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I
do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful." Me too, for every single day. May God bless you and your children and may you rest in peace Elizabeth.

I knew when I read her post here on FB early this morning that the time was near. She spoke of her children and these words. In my eyes, she put a face of grace and timeless beauty on breast cancer. She endured great hardship and now she has gone home to our Father. I had only prayed that it would be after the holidays for the sake of the children. I am saddened by her loss and my heart aches for them this evening.

This evening, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has faced this battle. It is a tough disease and we do the best we can. Thousands die and thousands live. Rich or poor, black or white, male or female, it does not discriminate, it just does what it is designed to do: destroy.

This is your gentle reminder to do your monthly self-exams to look for unusual lumps or bumps (or something that just isn't right for you) or to get your mammogram if it has been more than 12 months and you are over 40 OR have a family history of breast cancer.

Together, we can make a difference in this battle. Here's to hoping we find a cure and find the cause.

Love to all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Erma's Words

Today I would like to send out a gentle reminder to just love and live your life. Every single day. You can never get a moment back once it is gone and for that reason, I give you Erma Bombeck, who defines it best with "If I Had My Life To Live Over Again." For all of you out there, I have three, hope and love.


I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later... Now go get washed up for dinner.' There would have been more 'I love you's' More 'I'm sorry's.'

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it . Live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!

Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what
Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us...

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Friend Gets GREAT News

My friend, Adrienne, who was diagnosed as Stage 4, right at Christmas time 2009, has just learned that all of her tests came back clear! That's right - no cancer is seen anywhere in her body. I have to tell you how overwhelming that is for me. Not only do I consider her my friend, but I look at her as a fine young woman and mother who is destined to leave her touch on this world.

I have said for some time now that breast cancer is not a death sentence. I say it again, and Adrienne is living proof. If you are reading my blog for the first time, read this and remember it. It is manageable, but you must change your lifestyle and incorporate a lot of things you might not otherwise like.

This is great news for Thanksgiving. Thank you, Jesus for giving us hope, and faith, and family and friends.

May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving with yours. Hugs~

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's Been Awhile

It's been a bit since I've made a post, but I've been busy with work and school and getting ready for Christmas. I've almost finished up everything. Going out on Black Friday will be just for the beauty of enjoy the adrenalin rush......and the chaos of watching people as they run around like ants.

I have four, not two classes to finish my degree. I so thought I was going on my last set...oh well...I WILL knock these out and graduate in May. I have to, I want my boys to watch me walk across that stage taking my dual master's degree...AND having done it all the while I've been ill. I want them to know they can do anything they put their hearts and minds into doing.

Received other recognition I was not aware of. The National Health Review posted our stories (six women from the Making Strides Makeover) in their magazine. Janet sent me the link which gives a brief paragraph on each of us, then the link to read each of our stories. The only thing they goofed on was our names - they totally messed those up. What I like about the publicity is that I hope it finds its way into the hands of another woman who may be going through this, and that maybe, just maybe, she won't feel so alone in her journey. If you are interesting in seeing it, please go to:

for the magazine and click on

if you'd like to read our stories.

Leslie, my favorite ARNP in Tampa will be coming forth with a link on Facebook called F4...It will be designed to allow women - and men - to do risk assessments on themselves for breast cancer. You input your information and it provides you with the information straight up that you need to know and what you can do to help yourself. The best part - all can be done right from the privacy of your own home - FREE. She is hoping that its up and running (pending the patent now) in the next month or two. Remember this post in a couple of months then check it out and send it on when its up and running. I promise you, you will be helping someone else.

Well, time for housecleaning and school work (ugghh)! Have a great week everyone!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Redefining Normal

Normal used to be jogging, having a cocktail with friends, mowing the lawn, moving furniture, goofing off with my boys, yada, yada....all the normal kind of things a woman might do on a regular or irregular basis. When you get breast cancer, everything becomes abnormal and your world changes, but YOU have the power within yourself to define your new normal.

Redefine your normal to be something special. Make each new day better than the old normal. You can't lift that big bag? So what....can't mow the lawn? Big deal - there are some fine looking yard men out there. Can't move furniture? Work around it. Normal can be what we want it to be.

As I just told a friend whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, this stuff sucks, but it doesn't necessarily mean it is a death sentence.

It has taken me a whole year to truly grasp that. In a nutshell, I had a part of my body reject me and try to kill me. That is very scary. Who is to say is won't happen again? No one. So guess what, my way of redefining normal is (that because I or "they" can't guarantee that it will not happen again) that I promise myself each day to try to be more patient with others, love more, laugh more, and really listen to what is being said.

I only get one chance at redefining this new normal and so I want it to be a good one. If you are redefining your normal, I hope you choose the happier thoughts and the things that will make your days great and special. For me, it's the only way to go.

Wishing you a blessed week and more birthdays ~


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Slightly Annoyed

So, today, I am slightly annoyed. I finally got in to see a local doc to check the "cough" that's been hanging around for months and also my back where the pain has kicked up a few notches - from an accident. This was my morning:

Supposed to see nurse at 0730 and doc at 0800. Saw nurse at 0810 and doc at 0830. Nice - thank you. Doc checks my ears, nose and throat. She tells me it is not good for a woman "my age" to be jogging "statistics say so" and "we end up with all kinds of problems". WTH?? Lady, in case you didn't notice, I'm way ahead of you. Besides, I've been a runner since I was 10 - a little late to tell me that now.

Anyway, she sends me to lab, xray, and pharmacy (in that order and from only two minutes of looking at me). When I asked why the pharmacy, she said to pick up a prescription. I thought it was something I had forgotten to pick up. No problem.

Lab, give blood - check. Xrays, chest and back - check check. Pharmacy, prescription - stop. It's for what? Allergies? Who said I had allergies - WHO EVER did an allergy test on me to prescribe me allergy stuff? NO ONE. Yet in less than two minutes this doctor thought she had me all figured out. Well. slap me on the ass and call me unhappy because I about came unglued right there, but I realized it was not the pharmacists fault.

The prescription is Flunisolide-Nasal. It is for stuffy/runny nose, itchy eyes, nose/throat and sneezing - NONE of which I have. Now the side effects are temporary nose/throat dryness or irritation or COUGH, headache, nosebleeds, sneezing and unpleasant taste/smell may occur. Seriously, I HAVE the cough and it is going to GIVE me a cough? This sounds more like it gives you allergies not that it helps allergies.....She assessed me in less than two minutes and NEVER looked at what she was doing, she just picked up her pen and started writing. I swear to God as I live and do you do that with a cancer patient????

I ended up in the Patient Advocate's office where I should have went LAST TIME after she ordered an ultrasound on the wrong breast. I guess instead of giving a second chance, I should have taken note and the next doctor. Well, now I am. Needless to say, she called back, and apparently my lungs are "normal" and I have "arthritis" in my back....guess the bulging discs that have been there for 10 years have disappeared too. Not sure if I should trust anything.

So, yep I am slightly annoyed. I have always received great care at this facility and now I am questioning it. I want my old doctor back....he knows who he is, I saw him today...please come back.... lol

To close this, I tell you this - as a cancer patient, you MUST be proactive in your own care, this is YOUR life. People make mistakes all the time, help them not make one with you. If they do, take corrective action. We only get one chance at this great life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

10-23-10 We ALL Made Strides

The "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" event was held in Viera and over 6,000 people showed up - just for this one event. It was awe-inspiring. I saw laughter, tears, hugs, new friends, old friends, and even a lot of co-workers - more than I would have expected.

So did I actually jog the whole event? YES I DID. In 35 minutes actually and I set a personal best record since getting this disease. It was hard, and I carried the medallion and the pink rose they gave me. Each time a piece of the rose fell, I made a wish for someone I knew with breast cancer. The sun was hard on me but I refused to let it get to me this year. I sought shade where possible - although very limited, it did help and the water and gatorade on the road was excellent this year. There were cheerleaders and all kinds of people on the route cheering me on as I ran and it touched my heart - and apparently my legs because I ran faster than normal. Actually, I have to thank the young 20+ yo man who passed me four or five times. After the last time, I thought to myself, "No ya don't, you're not passing me again...." so I kicked it up a notch. Finally, one of our LT's in the PD came and ran in the final 1/8 mile with me - very cool and appreciated. Thank you Marc.

Unknown to me, I would beat some other fine folks that I would never have thought possible. Surely they sat down somewhere, had a Coke, used the rest room, My sister, Sherry, even ran more than of this event. This after having a knee replaced. She rocks. The excitement at this event always far exceeds my expectations and MSABC has become my favorite day of the year. It fuels my faith and hope that I can and will continue to beat this disease. Each day I count down is one more day to living as a free woman. As of today, I am one year, three months and two days breast cancer free. Thank you, Jesus.

I did win an awesome "Fun in the Sun" package that contained a pink lounge chair (awesome!), a lime cooler on wheels (very awesome) and a brilliantly colored bag by Anne Ormsby filled with all kinds of goodies and one over sized lime beach towel. Thank you so much to the people who pulled it together. I love it.

I saw all the ladies that work at ACS who make this event happen. They are to be commended for their hard work. Erica, Anne, Denise, Lana (school) - and so many others behind the scenes. Also, to Pam M., Marketing Director at the Avenues - awesome as usual. I had the privilege of meeting all these women when I was selected for the makeover in August. I met some other wonderful people also. When I was buying tickets to "win" something, I realized that the donations/prizes were going to help an elderly woman with breast cancer. Yep, give me $20 in tickets. Didn't matter if I won or not, I wanted to help her win - the battle. The group of them had such a beautiful accent - I think it was English, but I'm not sure and they were just good decent people. I'm glad I crossed paths with them.

Our group went to Mimi's for breakfast, but I wasn't hungry. I was overheated from the sun and needed something ice cold. I opted for a Cinnamon Mocha Freeze. OMG - it was freaking delicious. I will go back for another of those.... :)

Anyway, I am posting pictures here to share with all of you. I hope that you have attended your local events. If you have the ability to help your local ACS in any way, I say please do so. What they do is offer hope... and that is something I think we can all live with.

Today, I am inspired by the lives of so many others who continue to reach out and touch my life. I hope that I can return that gift as I continue to heal.

Have a blessed and beautiful week.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

4,000 Friends

I think that in two days, I shall go for a nice walk (well....jog actually) with 4,000 of my closest friends. Yep!!! Finally, it's time for the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K. My team, The Spice Rack has raised nearly $4,500 and I am so proud of them as they are surely making a difference in a future breast cancer patient's life.

On top of that, so many more folks from work have signed on to go and walk or run as well. I am so pleased that I have possibly inspired them to take a part in something so special to so many cancer patients. Awareness and research will make all the difference for future generations. Last year's Making Strides event CD is done and I got a copy and lo and behold I am in it several times and I say this to all of you, if you have not yet gone to one of these events - DO IT!!!! That day last year changed my perspective entirely. I went from "thinking" I would beat this cancer, to knowing it deep in my soul. I felt it because of all the love and caring and hope that came from that event that day. I am excited to participate again. Thank you Jesus for giving me that opportunity to be here to stroll that same path again....

If you are involved I wish you great strides! Thank you for all you do in helping fund the cure.....until next time....


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Women of Hope

I joined a group meeting in the hopes of meeting others like myself - for many reasons. One, I might not feel so alone in this journey (although I would NEVER wish this on anyone else), two, we may be able to help lift each others spirits when we are down (and I have had my share of those days), and three, to continue to break out of my little box as I promised myself I would.

Who knew I would meet another Triple Negative. She's Stage 4 and guess what - she has been since 2007. THAT is a true miracle walking. Any other TNBCs out there reading need to go back and read that sentence again - She is still walking among us...Wow and amen. Let me tell you just a few things she shared with me - who knows, her journey thus far may help you:

1. They put her on Femara even though triple negatives rarely respond (she did)
2. She takes Zometa every month - it helps her bones release marrow - and her hip has regrown by itself.
3. She has had 42, yes, I said 42 chemotherapy treatment and has hair and a sense of humor.

I also met another wonderful new member, Karen. She too is a BC survivor and recently lost her husband. I could see the pain in her eyes yet there she was trying to get through the day. Her children are struggling. I hope you will keep her kids in your thoughts and prayers for surely as much as we go through, the kids take it quite hard.

I leave you with this for today. Fear is in my mind but the Spirit is in my heart. Did you know that "Fear Not" is in the bible 360 times?? That is almost one time for every single day of the year....interesting, huh...and in my dark hours when I am afraid, I try to remember these things and be comforted in knowing and remembering that I am exactly where God wants me to be. And so are YOU~~ :)

Have an awesome week~~ Hugs.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


This weekend has been about allowing my body to recoup. I have had no home work to do, no major house projects, no nothing. So I am just enjoying allowing myself down time.

My pup, Reina will require surgery to her knee which I will have done after the first of the year. She's only two and a half, so her prognosis thereafter is very good. She is like my child so I have no intention of putting her down. When I was sick she never left my side. Somewhere on this site is a picture of her laying on me while I rested on the couch. She was distraught not knowing what to do - but ever faithful, and so I will be with her as she goes through some tough days.

Feeling good. I ran 3 miles on Thursday. It was HARDDDDDD but I did it. Took me much longer than anticipated probably because I attempted it the day after a 2.75 mile run, so I had to walk for a minute, twice. No biggy....Like I said before - baby steps turn into greater steps. These little milestones are all about making my body healthier and stronger on the inside.

Was at an F.I.T (FL Institute of Tech) Wellness program on Friday taking photographs of one of our volunteers and an acupuncturist took my pulse and said to have my doc check my lungs. Interesting she said that as she had no idea what I've been through. I told her and she said it could have been the anesthesia, but to still have my lungs checked. Funny, I'm always trying to clear them. Hmm - check - will do.

You all have a wonderful week. Halloween is almost here, again (thank you, Jesus) and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I am thrilled because I survived to see it - again. YESSS!!!!! Hope, faith, and love........

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's a "Chile" life

Today's blog is not about cancer. It is simple and is dedicated to the 33 miners who are being pulled one at a time from a mine shaft near Copiapo, Chile, after more than 69 days of captivity underground. They have just removed the 12th miner (a 56 yo man) from a tube that is over 8 football fields in length that carried him to safety. The world watches today and I've seen tears of joy from San Francisco to Sri Lanka and I believe that our hearts are united in this - we are all grateful.

I can see the joy spread completely across his face as he realizes all is well. Now, I will sit here and pray and wait for each of the rest of the 21 miners who await rescue. I lost a boyfriend to a mining accident in the 90's. His death was tragic and deeply saddened me. I am so very happy to see that these men are going to be ok and I have no doubt that each one of them have been chosen to do something with their lives. The collapse of the mine was amazing in itself, but then a few of the men told a story about white butterflies leading them to safety inside the steel trailer..Again, I say they have been chosen.

Finally, to those who did not give up and have worked so hard to design the tube and get it down there to arrange the rescue, you have surely earned your wings today.

May you all have a very blessed day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Baby Steps

This morning, I did it. I jogged 2.75 miles. Of course it took me a while - 30 minutes to be exact, but I did it. When I first finished my run, I was a wee bit disappointed because it "took me so long", and then I laughed at myself.

"So long" can be defined as the following:

1. The first grueling few minutes in which I heard I had cancer
2. The hours after surgery - when I hurled morphine across the room (that was fun).
3. Trying - wanting - to lie down flat on my back - or just sit up by myself.
4. Last year's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk - I almost didn't finish.
5. This whole last year in which my entire life has been changed.
6. Finding out someone else has breast cancer...and crying inside.

Those were times that are/were "so long". 30 minutes to run 2.75 miles, something I have been pushing myself, and cheering myself on to do, is a great 30 minutes. I used to be able to run that same 2.75 miles in 20 minutes, but so what, I'm also ten years older, and my body has been to hell and back. So, I say, "yay for me!" Those weren't baby steps today, those were great steps to living my life.....

And so, my friends, my thought for you today is this - baby steps are good, because they will bring you to greater steps in your life. Stick with it, laugh at yourself and enjoy the very moment. Love to you~ ;)

Friday, October 8, 2010

No to the Mammo

Hello all. Well, I found out recently that I should not have allowed a doc here to perform a mammogram. After six surgeries, complications, and implants, mammograms are not the smartest thing to do on a post breast cancer patient like me. I have not clarified if that is all patients, most, or just me, so right now consider it "sharing".

Additionally, when I received my results, they refer to "ducts' in the left side - not possible; again, I have implants, nothing else. So, now because of all that, I am being scheduled for an MRI in Tampa where my specialist is at, and she is flagging my records that NO mammograms are to be performed on me. Bottom line is that you really cannot see around the implant anyway as they are opaque and all you see is a white round blob. Needless to say, I was annoyed but as far as I can tell, no injury was done to my chest. Still freaks me out a little though because I trusted this other doctor to do the right thing and I shouldn't have. Anyway, forgiven.

On to better things. Last night, I spent a wonderful evening at the Melting Pot with my friend and co-worker Maria, her daughter's Adrienne (BC patient) and Rachel, and some of their friends. We had a nice dinner, massages, parrafins, and other nice treats compliments of Imperial Spa. It was sweet.....and so was the chocolate.

The Quilt - there is finally a winner. Today, we did the drawing for the winner of the handmade quilt to benefit Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. The winner is "Families of the Shield". FOTS is an awesome local law enforcement non-profit group who goes above and beyond to take "care of their own" and families of law enforcement officers. They are truly a wonderful group. Without hesitation, they donated $100 to this fund raiser. I was so thrilled for them and when I emailed Officer John Pasko on FB, "the Good Lord always gives back to his servants"......he emailed me back donating it back to me to give to a worthy cause or individual. Now, I could give it to any one of the 200 people that donated, but the one that stands out the very most to me is a special lady who lost her mother to cancer just a short year ago. It was a terrible thing. The most amazing thing that I didn't even know is that they loved butterflies, and her sister even wrote a book honoring her mom. The name of it? "She Comes to Me in Butterflies". By now, my friend knows this is her, so Liz, I would be completely honored if you would hang this on your dining room wall - just where you showed me you would put it if you won - next to your mother's picture. That would do my heart good. And I hope that everyone else will join me in the joy it will bring to her.

As I have said so often, in so many ways, cancer sucks but thanks to research and wonderful doctors, not all of us will fall to it. It is a true tragedy that anyone loses their life to this dreadful disease in today's day and age so it is imperative that we continue to push hard for research and better care for cancer patients.

My team in Making Strides against Breast Cancer has been doing just that. Together, our beautiful team of 7, has now raised of $4399.00! These ladies are amazing, and I am so grateful to have them helping me. Helping me they are helping research and helping others. Jill, Mary, Angie, Dee, Donna, Adrienne....thank you.

Thank you all so, so, so, much for sharing in this and helping save the lives of breast cancer patients. Hugs to all.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let the Mammograms Begin.....

Last week, I had my first mammogram since learning of my cancer and having my surgeries. Little did I know, when I had decided to go with the silicone implants that they would be opaque during mammography. Yep.

As I watched the screen come up I saw two perfectly white blobs come up. I knew what they were, but what bothered me is you couldn't see around them. So, we had to take several more photographs to get all the way around. The good news to all of it is, having had a bilateral and now with implants, mammograms don't bother me one little bit. Not even a wince! Why? Still really can't feel that much of them. I know, it sounds crazy, but it is still a little strange to me too.

It is what it is, right? And I will still rise each morning and give thanks to God for allowing me more time with my children and family. I love being alive and a part of every thing that goes on around me. I'm so much more fascinated by the little things...

Cheers! :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

This is the letter I sent to the American Cancer Society and was selected for a makeover on 19 Aug 2010 along with five other women. It was a great day.

I having meant to put this on here, but I have forgotten (one of the my little side effects). Anyway, I share this with everyone, but I hope it touches every woman's heart:

I write to tell you of my journey with breast cancer with two-fold hopes; that you will select me for a makeover, and that I may inspire another whose journey is just beginning. I am 45 years old and the daughter to parents who died of cancer, a sister to nine siblings, a mother to two sons, and a retired U.S. Army soldier.

In June 2009, while sitting in my office, I received the dreaded phone call that changed my whole world in four simple words: “You have breast cancer.” More words followed, but I heard none of them. In the following weeks, a series of a hundred invasive tests were performed, and I felt humiliated and embarrassed. Everyone was kind and patient, as quietly, I cried on the inside. I couldn’t believe what was happening; I didn’t feel sick, tired maybe , but not sick. I have always taken pretty good care of myself but when my sister was diagnosed as triple negative breast cancer patient in 2007, it got my attention and I got a mammogram. A mammogram caught my cancer early and although BRCA negative, I too, am a triple negative.

From the beginning, I promised myself that I would get up, dress up, and show up and for the most part, I have. I have children, and although grown, this is scary stuff so it was time to put the game face on. With every surgery and setback, I am more determined beat this. Fighting cancer has absolutely been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it has also been a gift. I look at everything much differently now. Today, six surgeries and several infections later, I will not stay down. I am a mother and a pink warrior. In Spring 2011, I hope to complete a Dual Master’s Degree. Strangely enough, college has been a source of strength for me; a way to help me maintain control of my life. It keeps me focused and it sets the bar pretty high for my children, too.

I have poured my heart into a blog, in a positive manner, in hopes to inspire someone else. I hope it has. One of my first entries in June 2009 was this:

“I am frightened, but I have faith. I am educated, but not in this. So, what's a girl to do? Put my faith in God and know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be today. And that's enough for me.”

And so, I reflect on that passage and say, “Everything is moving along. I am still a little frightened at times, but I am not afraid because I have educated myself in this disease. I place my faith in God, always, and still believe that I am exactly where he wants me to be… today, and everyday… and that is all I ask for.

The bottom line is that in the last year, I have lost my breasts, my memory, all of my hair, my dignity, my strength, and even fake friends; however, I have never lost hope, faith, my family, my sense of humor or real friends.

My life has been a roller coaster of tears, fears, hope, prayer, hugs, help, and every other source of assistance imaginable. My friends and family are closer to me than I could have ever imagined and for which I am eternally grateful. My tush may be bigger, but so is my heart. I’ve lost much, but I've gained so much more out of life and each day is a beautiful gift. I am committed to living my life and not just merely existing in it. Not just for me, but for others like me.

My message for women: You are never alone. I know how you can be in a room of 50 people and feel completely alone, but shrug it off and get back out there. Define your cancer; do not let it define you. Put your face on it, not vice versa, and then walk this chosen path with your head held high. Have a positive attitude, and smile, and the world will smile with you.

As for me, I am committed to helping women. Even today there is still a taboo about breast cancer; I want to break it and keep talking about it - whatever it takes. No woman should ever go through this feeling alone.

Catching up

The last few weeks have flown by and I have stayed very busy with work, school and my new-old passion....jogging. Jogging at a very, very slow pace. It is my hope that after last year's Making Strides event that I can jog it this year on 23 Oct. Last year I just barely completed it, but I was just two days out of chemo and only two weeks out from being hit by a truck and still had a concussion and back and leg issues.

I want to do this not just for me, but for every woman out there who has ever had, and who ever will have breast cancer. If you are reading this, let me remind you of good news in the fight against breast cancer, research has made exceptional strides and nowadays this disease is not necessarily a death sentence. Re-read that and repeat it to yourself. It CAN and is being incorporated and managed by thousands of women all over the world. There IS hope, so don't you give up, not today, not tomorrow, not ever.....Not everyone will make it, but HOPE and faith, and prayer are very powerful.

This journey has brought me closer to my God, my family, my friends (old and new) and to a disease that took the lives of both of my parents. While I am not fond of this relationship one bit, this is the path chosen for me and that being the case, I shall hold my head high and hope that somehow I can assist just one other person each day in their journey. If it's you, I hope you respond back to me. My friend, Lari-Lane, passed away recently and when I logged back on to make some notes, I found a message here from her sister. THAT touched me more that words can convey.

My next post on here will be the memo to the American Cancer Society, the one that got me selected for the makeover with five other phenomenal women. This coming month, in October, we will be featured in the Space Coast Charm Magazine. I am both humbled and honored by this but again, I say, my goal is not publicity of me, but of this disease to help reach someone else who may need a hand, or a heart.

The Spice Rack. My own personal team of seven women from my office that have been fund raising for the Making Strides event. I am SO proud of: Mary, Angie, Donna, Dee, Jill, and Adrienne for all their efforts. As of Saturday evening we were over $2800!! That is amazing and the efforts of only seven - imagine what 7,000 women can raise!! I hope you will join us in our efforts. Please consider a small donation to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer at:

Love to all. Have a blessed week!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Goodbye Lari-Lane

I walked into my office to not one, but two heart breaks this morning. The husband of one of our officers passed away from lung cancer last night. It all happened so fast that I'm certain that my friend and co-worker must be completely distraught. I'm still stunned. May Tim rest in peace.

The next shock that sent me reeling was several face book messages, thank you everyone, notifying me of a dear friend's passing. Lari-Lane Payne, retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant, Mother, Sister, amazing and phenomenal woman and friend.

I am surely a better woman myself for having known you and I am deeply, deeply saddened by the world's loss today. You were always a great friend to me - especially during this last year when I myself fought this battle. You didn't tell me your cancer was back even all the while when you were donating to my charities....and I was on your list of causes on FB...go figure - just goes to show the kind of woman you have always been. I have many stories to tell the kids and grandchildren, and one day, I hope they ask me, because I will make them smile and laugh. Remember when I took off my rank and walked out? You took me by the hand and said "Hey, go take care of your son and come back, everything will be fine." And it was.

I will miss you so my friend. May your soul rest in hands of Jesus Christ...Today, my tears fall for you, but I know in my heart that you are in a wonderful place. One day, we will meet again and until then via condios.....

Monday, September 6, 2010


Well, as of this evening, I'm only $112 away from my $1000 goal towards my Making Strides campaign - anything additional will be an awesome bonus! I'm still selling raffle tickets and that is not going as good as I'd hoped it would be, but it is what it is, at least some funds will come from it and someone will have a beautiful quilt.

I've ordered a few more things to sell off. The pink rubber bracelets that say HOPE and FAITH that will sell for $1 and pink "courage" magnetized photo frames that will sell for $2. Again, I willingly dropped more of my own into this endeavor and now I just pray that people will enjoy what I am offering at these exceptional prices and support the campaign. Lord, please hear my prayer.

I have so many to thank for their support. My ex-husband, Russ and his company, Aarchcasters in Fenton, MO; Melbourne Police Officer John Pasko and Families of the Shield; Angela Sigman, Lari-Lane Payne; Don Carey; Country Bingo Patrons; Eric Wiggers; Jennifer Hayduk; Jim Gibbens; Kim Doty; Lilly Rodriguez; Mary Burns; Mike Asbury; Jeri Keefe; and my sister, Sherry Smith. And so many more still that have bought a ticket for a chance at the quilt. I thank you monumentally. Cancer is the meanest thing I've ever come across, and with your help, we will be one step closer in finding a cure. Mothers, daughters, sisters, and children alike....thank you for your generosity - you are our angels and you will be doubly blessed for your kindness.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bits and pieces

This morning, I received quite a phone call. Charm magazine, located here on the Spacecoast, called me to tell me they want to feature me in their October issue as part of the Cancer awareness issue. My cup runneth over! Now, I just hope I can live up to such expectations as I'm sure some amazing women have come before me. In thinking about it today, I hope to reach other women who have, or are, enduring breast cancer. It can be quite a lonely journey, and sometimes, we find solace in the most unusual places. Right? Anyway, a gift from God to me, and I hope I serve them well.

Lesson for the day: The immune system is sort of its own system and it circulates via our lymph vessels which are throughout our body (except the brain). The lymphatic vessels contain a pale, thick fluid (lymph) consisting of a fat-laden liquid and white blood cells. All the icky stuff that needs to drain from your body goes through the lymph system so it is important!

Borrowing from another site, I provide more background: along the vessels are the lymph nodes, tonsils, bone marrow, spleen, liver, lungs, and intestines--where lymphocytes can be deployed as part of the immune response. It works or can be seen at work when an infection leads to an enlarged lymph node at the elbow, or when a throat infection causes the lymph nodes under the jaw to swell. The lymph nodes swell because the lymphatic vessels drain the infection by carrying it to the nearest area where an immune response can be organized.

So what does this mean? If you are a breast cancer patient who has had lymph nodes removed, it means your lymph system will slow down on the side of removal and you must encourage it everyday to prevent lymphedema. Each morning I do 20 crunches and 20 pulleys (from an over the door system) to prevent swelling. If swelling gets into my arm, it means trouble. So, practice prevention and always wash thoroughly, especially cuts, nails, etc. The tiniest of cuts can cause a big problem.

Back to work on school projects! Two more classes after this and I AM DONE!!

Hugs to all~

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Raffle - QUILT

I'm raffling off a quilt for Making Strides for Breast Cancer. Tickets are 1 for $2, 3 for $5 and 5 for $10! I hope you will/can support this. All proceeds will go to Making Strides, including my investment.

Many, many thanks to my co-worker, Stephenie who donated her time and made the quilt, while her own grandson is fighting to recover from cancer as well.

See Photographs! hugs~

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'm not sure I've reiterated it lately, but I am very grateful to still be kicking around and I thank the good Lord every day when I awake. I know how lucky I am.....

I realize that not every day will be spectacular, but I believe that it is what we make it and until this cancer struck me, I was just moseying through....but not anymore. I do everything..."more". I love more, I live my life "more", I believe in others "more", and there is such a personal reward to my days in all of it. If I had one recommendation today, it would be to "do everything more"....and feel the difference.

Hugs ~

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Thursday was the Extreme Makeover day, graciously sponsored by The Avenue Viera and hosted by Making Strides. It was an amazing day. Tangles Salon, Patchington's, Pizza Gallery, Hot Rayz Limousines,Belk, and others were involved in making this day a large success. Several times my eyes blurred as I reveled in the moment or shared a quiet moment with one of the other ladies. Cancer is not fun, it's goal is to take your life, and Thursday was a way in taking ours back.

At 0830, our driver, Billy, picked us (myself and 5 other breast cancer patients) up at the Holiday Inn. We departed straight to Tangles Salon in Rockledge where each of had our hair, nails, and toes done. We were there from about 0900-1500. These ladies had closed off their salon to give us their undivided attention. We had coffee and donuts available and a lunch catered in so there would be plenty of time to get everything done. And right at 3:00, we were exiting out the door just about on schedule. Many thanks to Lisa and all the ladies there who made our morning and afternoon so special. Most of them were even able to make the opening ceremonies that night - THAT says a lot about the kind of people these women are.

Next, we were taken, again by Billy, to Belk, to have our makeup done by the ladies at the counters. And then on to Patchington's where we all got dressed into our outfits that we wore that night. From the morning to evening photographs, there was a clear difference and we had thoroughly enjoyed the day meeting and greeting everyone. Once dressed, we were taken back to the Holiday Inn where we realized there were about 200 people awaiting our arrival!! I was a little taken aback, but I felt great. I was with some phenomenal women and each with their own story, and own journey. A sisterhood for sure.

We walked in one at a time with a big pink umbrella covering our faces while the announcer read part of our story to the crowd. When she said our name, *poof* down with the umbrella and a walk down the aisle for everyone to see our makeovers. From the photo's, you can see that I was dressed in black pants, a floral top and a lambskin jacket. Ooooh, that jacket is fine and it is now in my closet. ;) Several people took pictures and I finally learned what it must be like on the "red carpet" for stars - a bit overwhelming to say the least. But it was day and evening filled with unforgettable memories.

I would like to give a special thanks to Pam, Denise, and Lana S. for all their efforts in pulling this together. This is my written promise to you that I want to help you next year with this event.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Day ahead

Well, tomorrow will be a big day, but today I got big news. My CA 15-3 Cancer marker news came back good - it was a 6! The other test, CA 27.29 came back as a 16, which means that I am still in remission and good to go. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me one more reason to be grateful for this day.

I was in my car leaving the aquatic center where I was taking photo's of our Dive Team doing annual testing when I got the call. When I hung up, the tears flowed. It's hard to explain because I am full of hope that I will continue to beat this and get back some sense of normalcy, but just hearing that everything is "ok" resonates very deep in me and I know that my hope and faith, and the prayers of everyone is really, really working.

Tomorrow is my big day. Making Strides and the American Cancer Society is providing me and 5 other ladies with a wonderful makeover in Viera. I am looking forward to it.

Have a wonderful evening! I'll post pictures from tomorrow and this weekend's event later this weekend! Hugs~

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Hi everyone - For some reason, the pink box link above does not work correctly. If you wish to donate to Making Strides, please use this link instead:

Again, your donations will be used for important research that WILL one day save someone's life from breast cancer. I have no doubt that it has saved mine and my sister Pam.

Love to all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

14 Months and One Birthday ago.....Making Strides Ever Since

One week ago, I got to celebrate my birthday, an event I really wasn’t sure I would live to see. I continue to hope that one day breast cancer won’t steal another year from anyone and we will have a world with less breast cancer and more birthdays. There are about 60 days left to go before our Making Strides walk…I hope you can find a way to support this magnificent organization. I have a link here on my page.

I also have a friend of mine donating her services to making a quilt that I will be raffling off. She said it will take her two weeks to make. I bought the colors today. It will have pink, a deeper maroon, a cream color, and tan also. The pinker colors are butterflies, which I carefully selected on behalf of my bosom buddy Adrienne, who continues her brave battle with Stage 4 BC. For Relay for Life, the name of the group was Butterflies of Hope and when I saw the butterflies, I knew it was meant to be a part of the quilt.

Anyone wanting to purchase a raffle ticket, please let me know. I am going to sell the tickets for one for $2, 3 for $5, and five for $10. My goal for this year is to reach $1,000 to go to Making Strides - of which I already have almost $385 in donations from several generous friends and family. As soon as I can, I will get a photo posted on here.

I'm off for my outfit fitting for Thursday's makeover that Making Strides has so generously selected me for.

And school starts again tomorrow night - I've decided to tack on the other two courses to get a dual master's degree if my health continues to improve. Wish me good health.... ;)

Love to all ~

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Making Strides

I have almost reached my current goal of $300 for the ACS Making Strides Campaign. When I make that, I will up the ante some - maybe to $400 if I have enough time. Everyone has been very supportive to me during my quest to raise funds to continue to support research for breast cancer and I'm very grateful.

This organization goes all out every year to help support the American Cancer Society and having had four members (including myself) of my immediate family with cancer, (both my parents succumbed to it) I honestly believe that our best shot at a healthy future is going to be based on research. I also want there to be a difference for others - I want there to be a cure so no one has to endure breast cancer.

Again, many thanks to all who continue to support this wonderful organization, your money will be wisely used for research.....

God bless!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I forgot to share my Making Strides Campaign page with you. It is:

If you have an extra dollar, or find extra change in the bottom of your purse, I would greatly appreciate the donation to Making Strides (American Cancer Society).

I lost both my parents to cancer and my sister and I are both Triple Negative breast cancer patients. One day, I believe there will be a cure, but until then, I have to keep hoping that folks will help me support the mission to keep research going.

Thank you!!

Mammogram? Check~

It's been a whirlwind these last two weeks. My son was in town, I finished a class, and I've been working on my house. But, I just logged on to read that one of my friends went and got her mammogram. Ladies, that's what this blog has truly become about - YOU and ensuring that you take the time to take care of yourself, and doing so means getting your annual check ups. Yayyy Donna - now, keep passing the word to other women so they don't forget or get overwhelmed by their schedules.

So, this last week, I also learned that I will be receiving a makeover, compliments of the American Cancer Society's "Making Strides". I will be picked up by a limo and whisked away for a hair cut and color, mani and pedi, and an outfit. We will then be taken back to where the opening dinner ceremony for Making Strides is being held and seated at a VIP table with Mike and Mindy (DJ's). Many thanks to Anne, Lana, and everyone involved in making this happen. I know you've put forth great effort already. I am looking forward to this, it's been awhile since I've felt good about myself, so maybe a little change will help. Funny, that's all this last year has been about...change......keep it coming.

I spent my birthday at Tampa getting my tests and meeting my new Oncologist. Also learned that my right arm has started to swell, so I'm now wearing the compression sleeve. That's ok, it doesn't look really bad and once you get used to it, it feels ok. By design, the goal of the compression sleeve is to get the extra fluids out of the arm and I just remeasured my wrist, elbow area, and the upper arm area and in just two days, the swelling is back down.

In speaking to my Occupational Therapist, Wanda, when you've had lymph nodes taken out, you have to be extra careful with any cuts, bruising, and swelling of the arm the nodes were removed from. It is very, very important to keep the swelling under control, because it is not just water, it is "junk" building up. One of the things she told me to do to get my lymph system moving in the morning is when I first wake up, do 20 crunches/sit ups. That will get that mid-section, that is so critical to the lymph system, moving properly and help prevent swelling.

Keeping the faith till next week when my next CA -15-3 test comes back. I hope the numbers are still down to an "8" or below. If so, that will mean I am still in remission. And I feel pretty good....

Anyway, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, enjoy your day. Wishing you a very special evening and weekend....hugs to all.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Good Week

Hello all - I have been so busy with school and work these last weeks, and it still wears me down. By the time the sun goes down, I'm shutting down myself, which leaves little time to do anything else.

I have been busy around the house also. My son is coming home with his girlfriend, who I get to meet for the first time, so I am very excited. We have a great weekend planned and I just hope and pray my strength holds out. I know my excitement level will for sure, but the sun does a number on me. I have found that the neuro issues I have are worse when I am in the sun. Interesting, considering I am a Leo, and I have always loved the warm sun on me. Nowadays, I have to stay out of it. But this weekend, I will venture in and continue to live my life. My time is precious, and my time with my son irreplaceable, so we will have fun! :)

My hair is making a comeback - and I'm having fun with it. Have added another new photo. It is now a whole three inches long! Woohoo. That is actually quite amazing when you consider all the drugs and damage my body has been through this last year. I don't take it for granted; I revel in the thought that I am taking baby steps and regaining part of my former self, but becoming a better person in this journey.

And now for my monthly preaching:

Each day I am committed to helping women fight breast cancer. The best way I know how to do that is to tell you this: Know yourself, know your body, know your doctor - Get your mammograms. I can not emphasize enough, even today, how critical the timing of my mammogram was. An error of just a couple of weeks would have made a HUGE difference in my survivability. Please, if you are reading this, please, take the time to do your monthly self-exams, listen to your body and get your mammograms. If there is any history in your immediate family of breast cancer, take it seriously as a knock on your door. Science is an amazing gift to all of us and they are making strides in breast cancer, but women must be proactive in their own care. Your doctor cares about you, but they also care about the 500 other patients they have - so help them help you.

Have a blessed week....hugs to all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Day

Another beautiful day has graced me yet again. It was filled with the regular chaos that just happens to be my work and school life, but it is what I thrive on.

Somehow, I never imagined me saying this, but my chest looks good this week. I've been watching it very close and praying hard for no more infections. Six surgeries has been awfully hard on my body and I'm exhausted. But when I get really tired I just ask for the strength to get up, dress up, and show up. Or as a new friend accidently said, get up, dress up and shut up?? She was a little confused - I'll never shut up. :)

I volunteered at one of the colleges to do a criminal justice interview today. I acted as an aunt of a deceased (murdered) niece and the class ultimately tried to pin it on me! They did a pretty good job for being new students so kudo's to CJ students in Dexter's almost got my shoes! LOL

Tropical Depression Bonnie is down near the Bahama's. El Nina' is on the warpath - or as my son and I were talking - "The bitch is back". I'm glad she's not strengthening any further for all our sakes. But we can sure use the incoming rain.

Sometimes, don't you just have lean a little to the side and wonder....."What the hell is wrong with our society"..... I read news that the VA in St. Louis has tragically deprived some veterans of basic rights. What do I mean by that? Well, they went to the VA dentist for treatment and the facility was not properly sterilizing the equipment. Now, many soldiers will suffer the consequences of those lazy employees. Suffering can and already has come in the form of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV. Now that's some scary stuff considering I myself used the one downtown years ago. Someone's head needs to spin and I am serious. I will closely follow this case. I have dealt with that VA before as I retired out of St. Louis and I remember thinking "I will never come here if I don't have to" because it is in horrible condition. Why? Why would we treat our soldiers who defend this country like they are dirt and not worthy of a clean facility at the very minimum? I'm quite distressed over that.

I feel fairly lucky to be able to go to Tampa VA. I have said many times that I have received good care there, and I mean that. I have had infections that I think could have been prevented, however, they took immediate action and took care of me.

I went back to look at my class information - arrgghh - I thought I was done in December...but it looks like March with graduation in May and that depends on what classes are offered. Sometimes my little chemo fog can be a good thing.....BUT I am totally ok with it, I am enjoying going to school and meeting people and learning some new things. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is the class I'm saving till the end Business Finance...ouch. I hear it difficult and it is my weakness so that means for 9 weeks, I will be doing whatever it takes to get through it.

Wishing you all a peaceful and safe weekend. A special e-hug to two people Kellie, whose Daddy just got out of the hospital - it was a tought few days for her, and Adrienne, who after months of chemo, started radiation today. You are in my thoughts and prayers ladies. Love to all~ know that I carry you with me always.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The new normal

Hello everyone. Well, as I said in my last post there will always be good days and not so good days. I don't really believe in bad days. Any day where I can stand up and thank the good Lord for giving me another day is a good day.

That being said, I returned to Tampa to recon and inquired with them about HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) and they shot me down. At first I was a little distressed because I've had several setbacks, but once I put it all in perspective, I realize that my particular situation, while not great, is not as bad as what that therapy was created for (according to Dr. G). You really need wounds that do not heal at all, etc to qualify for the treatment and although breast cancer patients are just now being looked at, they are not being considered at Tampa VA. I think they are missing the boat, and even Leslie thought so. Enough that she said she is going to provide further input on my behalf for it. Apparently, my "infection" on the right side is a stitch working its way out...Did you know it can take six months to a year for stitches to dissolve or absorb into the skin? I didn't know that.

I was quite frustrated and proceeded to ask several other questions - why does my skin prickle in the sun? When will I start to feel better? Where am I on the scale of ill to well? Where am I on the scale of other patients? Why do I feel so damn lousy all the time? FIX MEEEE!!! Dr G's answers were as follows: Chemo can have long-term neurological effects and prickly skin can be one of those things. On the scale, I am considered "normal" - kind of right in the middle, just like on a dryer. Same thing with regard to where I fit with other patients. Other patients with my type of cancer have the same setbacks and it can take a year, or longer before getting back on your feet. I feel lousy because I've been to hell and back and my body is fighting and wants to be better than normal. They all sound like simple answers don't they?

Finally, she said that if I can stay healthy for another four weeks, I just might lick this thing with regard to the implants. I still think my body is rejecting them but she says no, she doesn't even want to consider removing them. Isn't that funny? My sister convinces me that it just might be time to get them removed and give my body time to heal and the plastic surgeon says, "No way!" I'll give it that four weeks and then we'll see, but if there are any more infections, then I need to be very serious about this. These infections are life-threatening and one day, I hope to meet my grand-children (no pressure boys)...I just want to be able to be around for those special times.

As for the HBOT, I don't quite think I'm ready to give up on the idea for breast cancer patients to receive such therapy. I will fight if I think it will help others. Hugs to all

Monday, July 12, 2010


I'm still a little off-balance since Joyce passed away last week and I've gone from being sad to now becoming angry at my own treatment.

I spent hours researching why my chest will not heal correctly. First, I know that because I am a triple negative, I will have setbacks, everything will be harder, and I have to keep that in mind. People question it over and over and I can't explain it other than what I have been told; not enough research has been done to explain why that is, it just is. And TNBC patients heal much slower and have weaker immune systems.

Needless to say, I've become a little pissy. I am so sick of being sick. Lord forgive me, I don't want to treat anyone poorly, I really don't, but my life is on the line here so I have no patience left for anyone not willing to step it up. I feel ill and I'm weak, physically, and THAT scares me. If I had any energy whatsoever I could try to gain some strength, but then I would only jeopardize the two steps forward I might be making with my breasts that keep breaking open. This is a vicious circle that is breaking me down mentally and I could sure use some mercy.

After 6 surgeries, I found out that after EVERY surgery, a patient is up to 70% more likely to die from DVT (deep vein thrombosis) than if they hadn't had surgery. And that percentage is for a whole three months. So, basically, for the entire last year, I've been in that critical window....nice of ANYONE to fill me on that note. I mean, really, shouldn't someone, anyone, have thought to tell ME about it?? Well, actually, in their defense, they may have and my chemo brain did a dump.

Now, on the upside, diabetics are often treated for non-healing wounds in hyperbaric oxygen chambers and they are up to 65% effective. When I go to Tampa on Wednesday, I will ask for consideration to use the chambers. Either that, or I seriously have to consider removing the implants or a second opinion, or surgeon. I definitely have another problem and that will mean another surgery because there has been yet one more breach and I feel like a guinea pig...dammit....Something's gotta give...I just have to find the right person to help me.

I know how lucky I am, I do, I really do, I'm just having a hard time accepting the fact that I may not have breasts after all...and for me, this very moment..that's tough. I've pretty much always been a girly girl and from the beginning of this, my light at the end of this tunnel was the reconstruction after chemo, etc. So now what?

Also,I'm not trying to be a downer here, but I promised I would try to keep this real and to do that means sharing the not so good days too....doing anything else would be disrespectful not only to myself, but to every breast cancer patient that follows down this road behind me. There are ups and there are downs, today is just one of those down days...and it too shall pass....the good Lord will pick me up again....

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Goodbye, my friend

This was a difficult week for me. My friend, Joyce Atkins, who was diagnosed with breast cancer right around the same time as I was, died Monday, from complications of another surgery. Her daughter Theresa called me. It was so unexpected that as I was talking to her, I began to cry. I just couldn't believe it, I had just talked to her two weeks ago and although she looked exhausted (don't we all), she was chipper. So, the rest of my thoughts this day are dedicated in memory of her.

Fast food or Pot roast. Sometimes, we are called upon to do things that we don't want to do, and often, it takes much longer than we want it to take. It is painful and it tests our patience and our sanity (and that of our loved ones!). But the challenges presented upon us are what make us exactly who we are, exactly the way God intended us to be, and so my question for you today is, do you want fast food or pot roast? Personally, I want pot roast and if that means I have to endure this a little longer, because there is meaning in HIS eyes, then there MUST be meaning to it, somewhere, somehow. And that is exactly what I think my friend Joyce would want all of her friends and family to believe as well. Choose the pot roast. Take your time and live your life one day at a time and be happy with what you we don't know what tomorrow holds. Love your family and friends for who they are, not what you want them to be. Love yourself, exactly the way you are, not the way you wish you could be. Tomorrow will come, by fast food or pot roast and I hope that you savor each and every moment. I will miss my friend, Joyce, but I believe she was called home when it was her time.

Other than that, I think I might have another infection. I'm trying not to be down about it. Again, I'm thinking pot roast. After all, I have to remain positive, as that is half the battle, right. My other bosom buddy, Adrienne, finished chemo and is getting ready to start her radiation. Please keep her in your prayers. She is Stage 4 with metastasis to the back. Her daughter Emma, 8, is growing wise beyond her years. I hope that as the summer progresses you can find an extra dollar to donate towards my Making Strides for the American Cancer Society campaign this year. One day, women around the world will not have to worry about breast cancer, I hope, I hope, I hope......Until then, I will continue to battle against the beast and pray for a cure. I will post my link on the next writing.

Hugs to all.....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day 2010

Happy Independence Day 2010. 234 years ago, this great country gained her freedom, and we still have it. Serving in the military has been a part of my family for several generations and in 2004, I retired from the US Army. Our Flag represents what and who we are as a nation and I hope that those who have the responsibility to lead us always remember how hard our forefathers worked, and the lives lost before us.

It has been a tough couple of weeks, but I shall not whine, for I know that I am lucky. I've said that all along from the moment I found out I had cancer. They found it early, I had the surgery - six of them now, and I've been able to undergo reconstruction. The cancer remains in remission with no signs of it anywhere else in my body...thank you, Jesus. I'm just so darn tired from this bacterial infection I'm fighting that it has knocked me down hard. It's quite scary actually. This too shall pass as my son would say.

Pseudomonas, a not so fun bacteria that can hurt you from the outside, or inside. It particularly likes people with weakened immune systems...people like me. Doctor's appointments a plenty to check the blood and skin, etc. That's ok - be proactive - that's what saved my life in the first place...

Anyway, as each day goes by, I'm feeling a wee bit better. No redness, no fever, and that increases my odds. I'm thinking about doing a lot of things differently, sooner than later. What I mean is I want to visit places and see people I haven't seen and do those things I've been putting off. One thing is for certain; this last year has taught me that cancer waits for no one. With that momentum, I went to see my brother, Tom, who is incarcerated in Polk County. I love Tommy, he is truly the funniest guy I've ever met, and he has one flaw - no, he has two: One - he can't keep his hands on his own property, and two - he has only one kidney. Other than that, he's a good guy. We spent a few hours catching up on lost time. It was nice.

While you watch the fireworks this evening, try to watch them as if it were the first, and last time you were to ever experience them.....Why? It's just an amazing feeling and you become fully present, right there and enjoy that very moment. Love to all for a special and spectacular July 4th.....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Three Weeks Later and one more surgery

Well, here it is, the first day of Summer 2010. And it has been a beautiful day. The sun has been shining and its been about 90 degrees. A gorgeous day all in all. The last few weeks have been event filled and I continue to learn new things as I take this journey down the breast cancer path. These last couple weeks have been hard, but I won't complain. There are many others out there who have a much harder road than I. I am grateful for each day that I have.

Two weeks ago, the steri-strips from the previous surgery were removed and there were what looked like three little black dots on my left breast. I was concerned, but Dr. Gould was not. There was also a laser burn on my right breast - an "oops" if you will. All was fine until last Monday when it appeared that sure enough, there had been compromising of the incision. :( Unfortunately for me, it hit me fast and hard. Tuesday morning I could hardly think as my head and body ached so badly I couldn't think straight. I was afraid to make the drive to Tampa, so I opted for a local doctor with shots and antibiotics. That got me through the evening so I could drive on Wednesday. I "thought" they would schedule me for surgery the following week, but I should know better to be prepared for the unexpected. I was immediately admitted, placed on antibiotics and geared up for surgery. Now, here I am six surgeries into this and although part of me is quite frightened, the other part of me trusts in God and in the medical community. This infection was a fluke, but it should serve to other cancer patients as a warning that it can happen in a moments notice and we need to take exceptional care at all times.

My hair is growing back amazingly well and I'm quite pleased with it. There's still part of me that wishes it were longer, but hey, its part of this journey, so be it.

These silicone implants that I now own are amazing little gals. The one thing that gets me is this: It is cold in my office, and when it is cold, the girls get cold, and when they get cold, my whole body gets cold because there's nothing there to warm'em up. So, I'm on another journey to find a way to help women with this. My mind wanders and I think, "I'm in a warm climate- holy macaroni - can you imagine having these in Alaska? Geez." Yeah, poor women there. You see, women who have single or bilateral mastectomy's are basically coned or scraped out and there's nothing left but skin (if they are lucky). When the reconstruction is done, the skin is very thin thus allowing temperature changes to affect the chest and body more. Sounds insane I know.....leave it to me to bring this up. I patent the idea - don't steal it! ;)

Anyway, I am still in school. Four classes left. Still chugging along like the little train that could....I refuse to give up on this dream of mine.

Moving right along, I have some strange, but good occupational therapy news. The OT nurse I saw at James Haley went into detail with me about the lymph system - the sewage system of our body if you will. When lymph nodes are removed, the system slows down and you must take extra precautions. Just what does that mean? It means reduce eating preserved foods, foods in boxes and cans, etc, these things have a tendency to bog down your lymph system because it has to break it all down (they are unnatural).

Next, to help "wake up" the lymph system in the morning, lightly brush each arm from the hand up to the shoulder (very lightly now) on all sides. Do it to both arms and even your legs because you have lymph nodes in your hips, so start at your feet and lightly brush up toward your thighs. I know this sounds silly, but try it. When you lightly brush up, do you feel that sensation? That is your system saying, "Hello, I am here" or something like that. Anyway, you are waking it up so it starts working. As a cancer patient you want to do that every day.

If you have had a single/bilateral mastectomy, do the same thing with your breast, lightly working away from the center/nipple area. Afterward, you should brush it toward your diaphram area as that is apparently where everything goes from the lymph system to disperse.

Amazing information, huh? I know it sounds a little hoky, but I swear, this therapist comes highly rated, and as such, until I either think she's nuts, or prove her wrong, or a miracle occurs, I will continue to do these exercises. Why? Because in my opinion, they sure as heck can't hurt......

Finally, a big shout out to Kimmy and Donna who graduated from Webster this last semester attaining their Master's Degree's!! Way to go, ladies - I'm right behind ya.

Love to all.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Post Surgery

Well, yet again I have another new chest. Last week, they went in, removed the old, inserted new, moved them around to reposition and lasered out a bunch of scar tissue that was encapsulating the implants.

Geez, it was a tough surgery. It didn't take but a couple hours, but I'm quite bruised and swollen this go around. My body is telling me it tired right now and I'm trying to listen, but I did have to return to work this morning. It was very, very difficult. I'm pretty sure that I almost cried many times, but I pushed through it and just asked God for mercy on my girls. Was going to stay in and rest at lunch, but changed my mind and went to Makoto's w/Cdr G. Thanks! I owe ya one.

Finally home and it's early evening, thank goodness. I think I'll enjoy the quiet time....I have a break from school so I'm going to take advantage of it.

Congrats to all my Webster friends who are graduating with their Master' lead the way....a big HOOAH! to you. I'm rocking slow and steady and not giving up -one class at a time, carrying a 4.0 GPA, and just recently inducted into Delta Mu Delta. Not too bad for a breast cancer patient.

Hugs to all...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all mother's, wherever you may be. You deserve this single, special day each year, and I'm so glad to be here to celebrate it with you. I've been quiet here because I've been trying to regroup - I crashed my computer and lost all my college homework and "stuff" - years of it. I was overwhelmed. And I've had lot's of things to make up in a college class; a presentation, a 16-page paper, and a final. No easy task by any means. But I'm back. :) Today, I'd like to keep this simple and send a special wish to my own mother, who died from cancer when I was 19. I cannot take credit for the poem, but it is just as heartfelt. She was taken from me way too early, but I now understand this disease waits for no one. So Mom, this one's for you:

"If roses grow in heaven, please pick a bunch for me, place them in my mothers arms and tell her they're from me. Tell her that I love and miss her, and when she turns to smile, place a kiss upon her cheek and hold her for a while. Because remembering her is easy, I do it everyday, but there's an ache within my heart that never goes away. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY MAMA. I LOVE AND MISS YOU!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lucky Me!

We did the "Relay 4 Life" this past weekend and what a joyous occasion it was. First, I need to give serious high-fives to all the students who were out there supporting this event. Wow, my cup runneth over... I couldn't believe the support - it was fantastic. And to the teachers and others who put the event on - what a great job! My bosom buddy, Adrienne, was there for a majority of the day and into the evening. She stayed for the Luminaria candle lighting ceremony. I don't know how she made it, but she has the strength of a hundred angels.....

I had preop on Thursday, so I stopped by the Casino and lucky me, I won $200!!! Yayyyy!! I took it and ran right out the door, which is something I don't often do. I put it away for the Relay and I purchased tickets to all the little things that people at the event were raffling off. I figured if I won, it was meant to be, and if not, it was still meant to be because it was all for research for cancer..amen, amen and AMEN! After hitting a concrete wall (figuratively) late in the evening, I left to rest for a couple hours and returned at 0600, just in time to hear an announcer say, "Ms. Arla.... YOU are the proud new owner of the hottest new Ipad!!" Yep, I won an Ipad for a single $10 ticket purchase. How about that.... I took a picture and texted it to my boys to show it off.....HA! That went over well... LOL! What fun.

I still feel so very blessed for each moment I have....even though I learned my son, Kyle, will be leaving to go back to St. Louis. I am deeply saddened, but I believe he should learn his dad's company, and be close to where his grandma is. I should reconsider things at some point as well. I love my boys so much....but hate that weather.

Lucky me - my home computer bit the dust, self inflicted. Took everything with it. Homework, thesis, all my old school work, all my pictures, etc...Wow, I am still having a hard time reconciling this, but cannot dwell on it....A classmate advised that I sent her my thesis as a guide and she still had it....THANK YOU JESUS!!!! It will be much easier to recreate....Lucky me, yet again....

Have a blessed week all....much love.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Catching Up

So, I caught up on my taped shows today and watched an Ellen show from this past week. It was about "Larry" the whale - a whale who escorted a woman raising money to support breast cancer by paddling (basically) on a surf board?? That is not what you call it but I'm having a fog moment here....

Anyway, I was walking on my treadmill and as I live and breathe I SWEAR I heard God say, "See, there are miracles all around you".....and it was so real that it made me cry. It stopped me in my tracks. A single encounter with a playful whale has continued to bring so much needed emphasis on this cancer. And bless that woman for giving so much of herself to do that for her friend. Google it if you have a minute - it was an amazing moment with nature.

When we quiet ourselves from the outside world long enough, we can see and hear what really matters most.... Have a blessed week.

OH - and if you are local, please visit the PAL Center behind the Jr/Sr High School in Satellite Beach, on April 24th to see Operation NOW (Not on Our Watch) in action. The mission is to educate our youth in the hopes to prevent losing them to distracted driving. Rene' Rubiella, President, and Founder is a guest on my show this month. (NASA channel 49, Wednesday and Sunday evenings) I hope we can help your children be a little safer out there on the roads. God bless!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Police Hall of Fame Patriotism Award

April 8, 2010 was a big day - yet I never saw it coming. I was acknowledged with a President's National Police Hall of Fame Patriotism Award, written and submitted by the members of "Families of the Shield".

It was presented at our Annual Department Meeting last Thursday and I almost fell over. To give you an idea of just how stunned I was, nearly anything can engage my tears nowadays, even a turtle crossing the road...but I couldn't even cry or talk. I am rarely - and I mean rarely, ever speechless, but I was. All I could manage was a meek and humbled thank you and a slight nod to our superior officers to hang in there that things are looking brighter every day. And with that, a standing ovation. Really? I mean, seriously - for me? I am the one in awe of them.....unbelievable.

I still get chills reflecting on the special moment. Melbourne Police Officer John Pasko, you are a very kind person. Thank you for even thinking of me, but more so, taking the time to write such an amazing nomination letter and the photographs - WOW! I am still blown away. One of those photo's (at right) truly reflect my journey down this path with breast cancer. So many times I have felt so alone, but yet, I know that the good Lord has been right here beside me along and just knowing that, I feel stronger, and loved, and fear no evil. That one picture says so much, not just about me, but also about him, my friend and co-worker (John) who put so much effort into this award.

LT Loos said the look on my face when he called my name was priceless. I'll bet it was. :) It was definitely one of those WOW moments in my life.... thank you so much John and Families of the Shield.....

Oh, by the way, my second CA15-3 cancer mark test came back.... at a "7" - that is great news!!!! I am one more day closer to being out of the woods. July 17th will be one year cancer free.....hmmm, I'm even thinking about changing my birthday this year to that day and throwing a big to all - have a wonderful week!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A New Month

Hello everyone! Yesterday, I had the privilege of making a special Certificate of Appreciation for the Radiologist who caught my nearly undetectable cancer so early. I had to have another CA15-3 blood test at the VA, so it was a good opportunity for me to take it to him. I also had one for my favorite doc, Linus A., who is kind, compassionate, and caring. Linus wasn't in, so I asked to have it left on his desk where it would be the first thing he saw when he came in this morning. As for Dr. Miller, the Radiologist, he was very touched and even choked up by it. No one had ever come back and done/said anything like that. I hugged him and thanked him for saving my life....he said he would always treasure it. I hope that he shares it so that others will see how much he is appreciated. It was one of those moments, yet again. Part of my plan to not forget to thank and appreciate everyone who has stood by me this last year. One line on the certificate says, "Imagine being truly grateful, then magnify it times a thousand and it still does not come close to the eternal gratitude I will always have toward you."

Next week, I go to Tampa for more follow ups and I have three more certificates. One for Leslie, one for Dr. Perez, and one for my chemo nurses. Every one of these people played an important role in my well-being, both mental and physical during the most challenging time of my life, and this is the only way I know how to thank them.

Originally, I thought they might think it a bit silly, but after seeing Dr. Miller yesterday, I now believe otherwise.

Also, had a special moment with a new little puppy that was welcomed into a co-workers home....I'm adding the picture here. He sure is a little beauty and he just wanted to snuggle with me...awwwww

Wishing you all a very special weekend. This is our holy Easter weekend, where the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated. According to scriptures, he was raised from the dead three days after his death on the cross. With his death, he paid the penalty for sin and for all those believing in him, shall have eternal life in Christ Jesus. Amen to that....Whether or not you believe, may you be filled with a hope and faith to make your every day a memorable one. Hugs to all~

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

On June 8, 2009, just days after learning I had breast cancer, I began this blog and I wrote the following:

Everything is moving along. I am frightened, but I have faith. I am educated, but not in this. So, what's a girl to do? Put my faith in God and know that I am exactly where I am supposed to And that's enough for me. As for my thought for today, I actually just now "stole" it from my dear childhood friend that I've known since first grade, Rose. She put it on her facebook page and I thought it was pretty profound: "There are two ways to live your life...One is as though nothing is a miracle, The other is as though everything is a miracle."

Now, on this St. Patty’s Day, March 17, 2010, I reflect on that passage and say, “Everything is moving along beautifully. I am still a little frightened at times, but not afraid because I am now educated in this disease. I place my faith in God, always, and still believe that I am exactly where he wants me to be….today, and everyday….and that is all I ask for. Thank you, Jesus". With regard to my friend Rose’s quote: "There are two ways to live your life – and I CHOOSE to live as though everything is a miracle….” Yes, indeed. Love to all....OH - and to my friend and school mate Donna - it was so great to see you again.....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

10 Months Later

This will be brief, and I hope, filled with hope for others. It has been 10 months since that moment when sitting at this very same desk (see picture at right) that I received the phone call and was told I had this dreadful disease.

Since then, my life has been a roller coaster filled with tears, fears, hope, prayer, hugs, help, and every other source of assistance imaginable. My friends and family were closer to me than I could have ever imagined and for which I am eternally grateful.

My tush is bigger, but so is my heart. I lost my breasts, my modesty, my dignity (at times) and my hair, but I've gained so much more out of life and every single day for me now is an amazing and beautiful gift. And honestly, I hope I feel this way for each and every day of the rest of my life.

Every morning, I wake up, and the first thing I say is, "Come on girls (to my dogs) and thank you, Jesus, for another day....It's going to be beautiful yet again." How could it not be.

Nowadays, I'm getting the "Hey, you sorta look like that Jamie Lee Curtis gal on the Activia commercial.....yeah, sure I do.... I don't care who I look like as long as I wake up and look like someone each day...and I get to do something good - somewhere.

Have an awesome day all...hugs ~

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

News and Updates

Hi all~ It has been a crazy last week or so. Last Wednesday, my sister Sherry had her knee replaced. Something long overdue. Before going into surgery, I was in preop with her and Ferell (quick story) and after one sedative, Sherry started telling the nurse, Stephanie, about my cancer and surgeries, etc. She then told Stephanie about my wig, to which an older woman in the corner (waiting w/her husband who was having surgery also) stood up and said, "I want to see", and puzzled, I looked over, and as I did, she yanked her wig off, and I laughed and yanked my wig off, too!!! I then ran over and gave her a big hug and we shared a few precious minutes talking about our cancer and our hair. She had just finished her last chemo the previous week and so she was still bald. My hair is coming back black and's pretty wild...Anyway, I just had to share that moment with all of you because it was like something that only happens in movies. It was a great feeling...and shortly thereafter, my sister was out like a light.....

The very next evening, my son, Kyle, crashed his motorcycle. I didn't find out until Friday morning. He was released from the hospital yesterday with a concussion, fractured fibula, torn ACL, and road rash. He is very sore, and I hope, and pray, he never gets on a motorcycle again. The trauma nurse said that he was riding on the wings of angels that night. I believe her. He was very, very lucky and I think he knows that. He even told me he will fix it up only to sell it and get his money out of it.

Like I said, it's been a busy week. But not so busy to think of my warrior sisters and all my friends who have been so supportive of me. There is not one day that goes by that I don't hold you close in thought. I notice that as I begin to feel better, my calendar seems to get fuller - what's up with that??? Actually, as of late it has been my sister, my son, and school. That's all. Once things settle down, and I'm really back on my feet, I want to volunteer time to somewhere that supports breast cancer patients. I feel that I have a lot to offer; hope, love, peace, laughter in hard times, and eternal friendship.

Now, tell me - how have YOU been? Hugs to all~

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Day After Valentine's

Hello all! I hope you had a very special Valentine's Day! I've yet to find me another special Valentine, but that's OK, I don't fret over it. It took me many years to realize I needed to focus on me and so I have.

Aside from beating cancer, chemo, the flu and getting hit by a truck, I continue to go to school seeking that Master's Degree....I'm keeping my fingers crossed that by December of this year, I will finish. So what will I get to call myself for those thousands of dollars invested??? Hmmm, let's see.... Master? No. Sophisticated? Not really, I'm pretty laid back. Scholarly? No. OK fine. I'll just settle for the love of learning and the true desire to teach and inspire others.... especially my own boys.

I'm feeling fairly well nowadays and I'm very excited about that. I still have days when I have absolutely no energy and when I do, I listen to my body (something I never did before). The further I get away from the last chemo day in November, the better I feel. The steriods are still sticking to my hips and lips, but I know that one day the weight will go too. By the time I get done with work (full-time) and school, I'm completely exhausted so I apologize for not being on here each day. Know that I think of YOU, and my warrior sisters, every single day. Your love and support this last year have been a tremendous blessing. I will try to catch up with some of you this weekend.

Keeping the faith and wishing YOU an amazing day filled with grace, laughter, and love. Hugs~

Monday, February 8, 2010

Polar Plunge Update

I'm so sorry everyone - chemo fog at work. I forgot to update you on our Polar Plunge in January! I raised $260 in three days, but in less than one week, our group of 10 raised over $2,000. I must give a special shout out to SGT Rocque and his daywatch squad here at the Police Department for donating almost $500 to support us.

In total, the Plunge raised more than $62,000 and it felt GREAT to be a part of something so special. These special athletes rely on people like you and me to help enrich their lives. To the right, I have added a couple photos taken at Aquatica on 9 Jan 10. I did not take the "dip" for obvious health reasons, but I did participate in every other way.

Again, sorry for the delay and thank you so kindly for your donations to this wonderful group!! Miracles happen everyday and YOU are part of them!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Nine Months Later

Well, it is nine months after my diagnosis. I have been through four surgeries, four rounds of heavy-duty chemo, a port, steriods, tons of drugs, hair loss and an extra 20 lbs - but hey, who's counting??? ME! That's who. I'm counting every single one of my blessings - and every new little hair that presents itself. It has been a long road to get here and I still have "Phase 2" left - that is one more surgery to re-set my implants and create new nipples.

I recently had a CA15-3 cancer marker test done and my number came back at an "8" which indicates my cancer has responded well to the chemo. From what I understand, any number under 32 is ok, but when it rises over that, it becomes a warning that something may be going on. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me a new lease on life. My promise to everyone, and myself, is to not let one day go by wasted and to let people know I appreciate them....because I truly do.

As I was driving along in my little red car with my little chemo fog the other day, a thought occurred to me. What do I wish someone would have told me when all this started....after awhile and time to try to recollect some of the good thoughts and hugs and wishes, I realized that the one thing I wish someone would have said is, "Girl, the next 6 months of your life is going to suck! You're going to feel sick, and you are going to beg God for mercy, BUT you WILL hang in there, and get to the other side of this". Which I'm pretty sure my favorite nurse Leslie did say something along those lines, but I just couldn't remember.

That being said, any woman who reads this, with love and admiration, I tell you this: "Cancer does suck, but you do whatever you have to do to get to this other side of it. You become a warrior and make it your goal to set a positive example for those who follow behind us." That is my charge to you. It is a heavy load to carry at times, but you CAN do it. Know that every evening as I lay my head down, I thank the good Lord for his mercy, and I ask him to gently carry YOU through your hard days.