Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Year Comes to a Quiet Close

So much has gone on this year.  I never thought that retiring would bring so many other things into my life to keep me so busy but I am glad it did.  The fibromyalgia and arthritis that set in my body gives me pain but with retirement and my doc's great encouragement, I push myself to the gym daily to stretch and work out the kinks that hurt.  The hurt hurts, and then it helps.  Sounds crazy, but I know in the long run, it is good for me. 

These last few months, God has tested our wills.  A brother in law passed suddenly from kidney failure after crashing on his four-wheeler. It was and has been a period of great sadness for his family. His mom was then diagnosed with kidney cancer and had her kidney removed, along with the depression, etc from losing her only son. It has been deafening to see her endure her pain. And now she has fallen and broken her hip. Just pitiful, but she is a trooper.  God strengthens her soul in ways I witness but hope to never live. My own son needs me and so I am trying to work things out to where I can move back up north. Financially, it will take a bit to get there, but if it is supposed to be, then it will be, I am doing the best I can. 

And now, my brother, Dennis.  Out of nowhere, a brain injury.  It began with flu like systems around Thanksgiving and he started getting weaker, and weaker and weaker. Literally every thing has been ruled out yet he has brain damage from "something" and it certainly is not viral or bacterial. Motor skills are lost also.  Hospital is preparing to ship him to rehab to save/repair what motor skills they can, but then what?  I keep telling myself that God knows all, does all...believe in Him....hold on to him.  HE knows exactly what he is doing. 

Christmas came and went without much notice as we were all quite exhausted. I even missed Christmas Eve mass. But my God knows where my heart was.   He knows that I know that materially wrapped presents are never the real gifts this time of year, but family and the love of those we have around us and the charity with which we serve others is.  Which brings me to my last note.  This year, I selected a family whose daddy is a terminally ill throat cancer patient and there is three girls (7, 15, and 16).  Tough ages to be seeing their father go through the ravages of cancer.  Radiation and chemo have taken a toll on him and he is down to about 85 or 90lbs and can no longer eat anything; it has to be crushed and put through a tube in his stomach.  Amazing what science can do.  Hearing about this indigent family who would have no Christmas, I asked my local FB friends $.50 each and lo and behold my big FB family came forward.  Many of my military friends jumped in and I was able to spend $300 on this family and get them items that they "really" wanted - to make it special.  Another friend of mine, Michele Haro, a local photographer here in Melbourne/Palm Bay, has also volunteered her time to take family portraits of the family.  This will surely provide lasting memories for their family.

As I reflect on this year, there has been so little and so much and yet God always gives me just what I need. In my heart, he knows the two things I am asking for this next year, if it be his will. I will do my part.

I ask everyone to do their part.  Our world is not getting any easier.  The rules are getting harder, the kids have it tougher, money is tighter, the weather is crazier, even the internet...a little more weird-er (?)  :)   Let's commit ourselves to paying it forward to at least one person once a day, or once a week - if you can.  Just simple things like a smile can go a long way....or a thank you...or holding a door for someone.  That is my wish for all of us...paying it forward to others.  

Happy New Year to all of you out there. I wish you peace, happiness, a joyous spirit, and great health.

I love you.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

It is Pink-tober for us Survivors!!

Hello everyone! It is October 2013 - you know what that means?  That means that this October will be my third walk as a survivor and my fourth walk.  I am looking forward to enjoying a morning gathering with 7000 of my neighbors here in Florida.  God always smiles on us and grants us with a beautiful day.

Yet again, I have not been so diligent in keeping up with my writing. As I had previously written, I had stepped away for a bit to regain perspective and breathe. I had lost a few friends and was not feeling well myself.  I feel it is important for me to write here, but it is more important for me to write honestly and provide good information.

That being said, today was lovely and I want to share it with you!!  Driving on the highway to pick up a friend to go the Art Fest, I was exiting on the off ramp and what did I see?  A big fire truck - but not just any fire truck.  The big PINK one!! And I got to sign that BIG PINK FIRE TRUCK! I know it may sound silly to some, but to me, it represents hope and honor - and it is in memory of a very young lady, Ashley, who passed away from triple negative breast cancer.  Please, triple negative breast cancer is nothing to play with!! If you or a loved one is diagnosed with TNBC, act quickly and viciously towards the disease or it will be vicious with you. 

Anyway, we took some pictures, bought some shirts, chatted and made some new friends.  The only way I can describe that moment is that it really lifted my soul right when I needed it.  Eyes up - thank you Jesus.  And many thanks to the Guardians of the Ribbon who give so much of  their time for us.  God bless them.
The Art show was nice as it usually is.  The art is too expensive for me, but I love to look at the artists' work - they are very talented!! I am back!! ;)

Another thing I accomplished this last week was to make my own little pumpkin for myself and a few friends.  I hope you like it.  Have a blessed week!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Another Woman Cries

I went to bingo one night last week only to hear from a friend that one of her neighbor's has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  My friend is concerned and asked if I could speak with her.  I can and will when she is ready.

Hearing this news saddens me, but what saddens me more is not the chemo, hair loss or breast removal, but the fear and sometimes sheer terror some endure as we face down this deadly beast.

So, I hope she will hear me when I reach out to her and try to be the best advocate I can be when I tell her that living begins with remembering that she is STILL ALIVE!  And there are some amazing and incredible doctors and nurses out there that are going to help in any way they can.  But as a patient, her first and biggest decision must be "Fight or Flight".  She get's that choice.  Does she want to live or not?  If she does, then choose to fight - hard.

I will tell her the same thing I have said over and over, "Your life will become a roller coaster of emotions, tears, fears, laughter, love, anger, and every other feeling you can imagine, so embrace it.  Relish each moment because you can never get it back.  Recognize it for what it is and remember there are no guarantee's, we just fight every day and then let God do the rest.

I have not yet met her so today all I can do is say a special prayer for her and her children.  That's right, she has children.  I remember very well how my own boys were affected by my diagnosis.  It broke my heart, but it made me fight that much harder.  Even through the hardest of days, I was determined to not leave them - not yet.  And now "she" must make that decision for herself because her babies need her too.  I am praying for her and hope she is feeling a little bit better today and is taking those baby steps towards recovering.

Monday, April 22, 2013

What's New? Omega 3s

Hello everyone! I have some exciting news for triple negative patients! I am so skeptical nowadays that I usually wait to post, but I think this is worthy of our attention. To credit this properly, the Komen Foundation along with Fox Chase Cancer Center and Penn State researchers  Dr. Jose Russo (at Fox Chase) and Dr. Andrea Manni (at Penn State) performed the research and it is posted on the Medical News Today webpage.

Their research indicates that Omega-3 fatty acids can stop or slow the triple-negative breast cancer cells better than cells from luminal types of cancer!  They added that the research reflects the omega 3 fatty acids work against all cancerous cell types, but were seen to be much more effective against the triple-negative cell lines and able to reduce the multiplication of cells by as much as 90%!!!  Think about that - THAT IS MAGNIFICENT NEWS!!!

So, how can we best ingest these Omega-3's that can help us the most?  By eating sardines, tuna, trout, salmon (oily fish), flax and hemp.  I despise sardines and anything that looks like fish, but if I can get it ground up into something where it doesn't have that God awful after taste, I'm good. BUT, know this, I'm up for changing my attitude for sure. Continuing on with that site's information, they compared our western diet to that of the mediterranean diet.  They eat more of the Omega-3 and obviously there is less cancer in their culture (that is factual).

Breast cancers differ at the molecular levels which is why each patient will respond differently. Some will respond fast, some respond slow, and some just never respond to the treatment.  So to break it down, the experts have categorized BC tumors into four groups: Luminal A, Luminal B (A/B have estrogen and progesterone receptors and these patients have better outcomes), tumors that test positive for the HER3 receptor, and the dratted Triple-negative tumors.

For women with TNBC, they lack the receptors for for estrogen, progesterone and HER2/neu (a protein) so Femara or trastuzumab, which disrupts the HER2 receptor, and tamoxifen, which targets the estrogen receptor, will not work.

Dr. Jose Russo states, "there are no currently available targeted therapies for women with triple-negative breast cancer".  Yep, I knew this. These are all the things I heard doctors and nurses tell me. Between the tears and blurs of moments of sanity, I would think "how the hell can I fight something that THEY don't even know what causes it?" 

But this is what they (Dr. Russo) do know: It is found more frequently in Latina and African-American women; It is highly aggressive; it has a low survival rate; and there is not any one specific treatment for it."  Yep, knew that too.

So, why then am I continuing to write these things? Because, of all things, there remains hope. In that hope, there is continuing research and as of recently they say eat these Omega-3's, so ladies (and gents), please eat them.  While it certainly will not be a cure all for all of us, surely it won't hurt any of us and it can only help....I however, do advise that you choose these fishy things wisely. Make them fresh and without added hormones and chemicals and all that "good" stuff that companies add nowadays.

Here's to our health, one day at a time.  Still here, still fighting, still praying for all of us.  Hugs.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Stepped Away

Greetings Everyone;

As you may have noticed, I "stepped away" from my blog for some time.  I needed that "me" time because I had lost quite a few friends that were triple negative and my spirit had been dampened.  Believe me, there are thousands of us still out there alive and well, and thriving, but when you lose not one or two, but three or more whom you have looked up to as your personal TNBC hero's it can be a bit overwhelming.

I will try to do better and post more often.  Regardless, I will try to find more research for women, and more access for those who are unable to get mammogram's or are sick.  I will try.  This damn cancer has me angry and hurt and has made me cry a little bit lately, but as I said way back when nearly four years ago now, every emotion is ok - even now.   That which haunts me now is that nagging feeling that just doesn't go away....UGH!  This disease has done a number on me physically and mentally, but I am still winning and I refuse to give in.

It really isn't what I do or do not do, it is merely the fact that cancer has taken the lives of my parents and has made the attempt on me, my sister, several cousins, etc.  Anyway, I think getting angry is ok considering I was only 19 when the beast stole my mother.

On a brighter note, it is a beautiful Spring day - you can smell it in the air.  Even some showers running across the state and I am watching my dogs high-tail through the yard quick and back into the house trying not to get their paws to wet.  They are my superheroes - oh how they make me smile.

I am here....still.  Thank you Jesus.  My spirit is quiet at the moment, but it will regain its strength and momentum for surely the good Lord has more plans for me.  I hope those plans include me being able to provide helpful information to others. So.....I will get to work on that.  I will return soon. 

Please update me on YOU!!  I really want to know how you are doing.... hugs.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A New Year

My how time has been flying! Already it is January 4th, 2013.  I have not been good at keeping up with my writing the last few months and part of that I believe was because I wasn't feeling up to it. In the last few months, our "breast cancer" family lost a few more women, and yes it affected me personally.  Each time we lose another woman to breast cancer, it is like a stake through my heart, and I wonder why? How much longer will this keep happening?

On the news last night (WKMG), they offered hope to those who will undergo treatment in the future. It becomes like a one stop shop, one treatment, one time and they are having success with it. This  procedure called IORT is done at the time a woman has a lumpectomy and basically a dose of radiation is given to her at that time.

The upside of this - it will help women who can be helped with radiation treatment (ER+/PR+).  But on the downside, I am not certain it will be effective for women with triple negative breast cancer (ER-/PR-/HER2Neu-), such as myself, because as I understand in my knowledge, it does not respond to radiation. Overall, this is GREAT news though, it is showing progress in an area that we need movement on - and fast. So a big hooray to our researchers for this!

After Thanksgiving, I completed another "bucket list" item and went on a 7-day cruise with my son Brad, and 10 other people. We enjoyed the Western Caribbean and stopped in Mexico, Belize, Mahogany Bay, Cozumel, and other places.  We walked the Mayan Ruins of Tulum (and completed the calendar full circle, so yes, life continues) (wink wink). We had the ultimate adrenalin rush with the Belize Zip line and Crystal Cave Tubing experience.  I highly recommend them both. And we enjoyed song, dance, shopping and a cocktail at Senor' Frogs in Costa Maya.

Let's see, what else have I done? Oh my, I have colored my body!! Yes indeed. After my sons inscribed signature and pink ribbons on their arms, I decided it was time for me to do something special for them.  I created an infinity symbol with their names engraved into it and had it placed on my ankle. I also got a "survivor" tattoo on my chest and finally, my military rank on my arm.  All three of these are important to who I am and how I've become the woman I am today, so I wear them with great pride.

2012 was filled with surprises, joy, change, vacations, lots of work - or no work, amendments, retirements, illnesses, and the loss of loved ones. Whatever it held for you, I hope that as it is now in your rear view mirror, you look at each moment as a gift.

I wish you peace, hope, prosperity, love and health. Remember to work to live and not live to work. Make time for play and laughter, skipping stones on the water, and Yahtzee!. :)  And find your best friend you grew up with - I am SO happy I did.

Be polite to everyone because you do not know what troubles them and our times are difficult for many now. YOU may be that one smile that saves their day - or life. Be charitable to others. Whether you give financially, give of your time, or help someone learn something new - volunteer at least once! Write down treasured moments and tuck them away together as the year goes by so this time next year you can read them. You can recall the event and remember just how blessed you have been.

Tell your children everyday just how much you love them, and if you have grandchildren, read to them, or start writing "your" story for them. One day, they will want to know everything about you. Be kind out here on blogger, on facebook, on twitter, because someone "important" will eventually read your words....make sure they don't come back to haunt you - or them.

Value your freedom. Thousands of soldiers have paid for it with their lives. This year alone, more than 3,000 soldiers died. Learn and understand your Constitution - you have an obligation to do so.

Finally, wherever I am this year or next, I adore you and feel so privileged to have you in my life. I know I can be a goofball at times, but my love and loyalty to friends and family remains steadfast.

Whatever you do in 2013, I hope you resolve to surround yourself with love and laughter and make a memory out of every day....