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~