Thursday, June 22, 2017

I Cannot Believe He is Gone

I guess it should read I can't believe they are both now gone.  My ex-husband made it to our son's wedding on May 25th, and just 48 hours later, he passed away from multi-focal glioblastoma. Brain cancer. Damn cancer. IT SUCKS.

I have cried a few tears over this loss, mostly because he, his wife, and I had plans for how we would spoil grandbabies when they came.  Now, it's just me. I have to try to be the "one".  He fought so hard and was a champion throughout this disease, but he just lost all his strength at the end and could no longer fight.  I asked God for minimal request in regards to Russ: "Please don't let him suffer, please let him see Brad get married, and please take him quickly".  All of which God answered my prayers.  Thank you, Father.

One of the best days of his life was making it to the wedding. We knew it was going to be tough and he agreed to a wheelchair, thankfully. He enjoyed the wedding and the reception and although it was difficult getting him home (he was so weak), he was on top of the world.  He cried and held my hand ride or die pal.  I cannot express the loss my heart feels. We may have been divorced, but we have been friends for years, even through disagreements.  He was the rock, not just for our children, but his entire family, and this has crushed their spirits.

I hope that I can be of some support to each of them as they learn to fly solo. Our family has had its share of loss this year.  First, Peggy, the Matriarch of the family, last February. Then Russ' wife Lori in September, then Tucker, the 16yo dog who lived with each of us at some point and loved us every one, and now Russ.  If God would allow me one more request, it would be to give my family a break. A much needed reprieve from loss.

But in the spirit of living, Russ would want his friends and family to celebrate his life. So we did. And I will do my best to honor him when handling issues with the kids - and one day, grandkids. They will know both of them through stories and laughter.

I would urge people to ensure you get your yearly checkups, and if some feels wrong - it probably is.  Don't let some doc blow you off.  Be diligent with your health.  We only get this small window to love and be with our use the time wisely. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

More Cancer - Not Me

Well....the demons of cancer have reared their ugly cells yet again.  After losing his mother in February 2016, and his wife September 2016, my ex-husband was diagnosed with multi-focal glioblastoma. Terminal brain cancer. He had a petit mal seizure driving home from his wife's funeral where I had given her eulogy. Truly a lovely woman and we were family, committed to our children.

Back to the current issue at hand. My ex, Russ. After seeing his deterioration at Christmas, and needing to be near my kids for my own reasons, I chose to sell my home and move back here to help him.  He had brain surgery which removed the main (lemon sized) tumor from his frontal lobe.  There remains one tumor they cannot touch and so he has undergone radiation and takes chemo (monthly). He is also on an 18-hr each day procedure with headgear called "Optune".  It may be doing something as the swelling on his brain has gone down some.  Last week, the Doc said if it hadn't, he would be dead right now.  He deals with the ups and downs of this disease just as the rest of us who have had cancer do.  We suck it up and do the very best we can.  Russ is left with partial paralysis on his left side and is very susceptible to falling - even with his walker.  He also lost some of his sight in his right eye from the surgery and has seizures periodically.  But he is alive and he isn't giving in.

Our son Brad is getting married next month and he wants to be able to walk with his walker, but I am doing my best to get him a wheelchair, something I believe is becoming a sheer necessity for his safety. 

I still have my own days when it is still difficult for me to even get up out of bed from my own pain, but I am determined to help him and our kids to the end. If he can deal with this, so can I.  Think of this - his son w/his wife that passed hasn't even had time to deal with her loss.  That is almost unthinkable.  I have made a promise to help him as much as I can. That kid and our two boys deserve that.

That is what warriors do, we fight.  That is what family does. We fight together.  And so, back down this ugly road I walk.  To help the first of only two loves of my life as he does the best he can with the hand he has been dealt.  In doing so, I hope I set a good standard for our children. #FamilyFirst

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Sis, the "Other" TNBC and now Multiple Myeloma

In September 2007, our family got on the triple negative breast cancer train when my older sister, Pam, was first diagnosed with the disease.  She put up an incredible battle with it and rarely complained even though I knew she was in a lot of pain. I remember thinking back then, how awful it must be to have a breast removed. Who knew two years later, I would know what it was like to have both of them removed. 

Pam opted to do a single mastectomy and chemo even though I thought it wasn't enough.  I was always concerned for her welfare because of the aggressiveness of this disease to rear its head at a later date and the fact she did not do a bilateral but she was convinced she would be fine.  My gut instinct never sat well with it so I just prayed for her. But we both made it past the two and five year marks that is so critical for TNBCs.

Life went along seemingly well and that cancer train was in the rear view until recently.  Actually, I should go back to a year or so ago when she was having considerable pain because this should be KEY to any post-cancer patient.  Yes, the pain sucks but the idea it exists 24/7 means your body is trying to tell you something. I live with pain every single day myself and I hate when doubt creeps in.  My pain is from fibromyalgia and from a car crash....and well, now the ribs of course. 

Back on point, Pam's pains were in her hands and feet and she swelled in those areas.  What does that mean?  Honestly, I don't know but I tell you because should you recognize this, it might be worth checking into and seek medical advice.  Listen to your body, get it checked out.  

As it stands, my sister is now facing Multiple Myeloma. A rare type of cancer that develops in plasma cells (white bloods cells).  Cancer cells eventually overtake the healthy plasma cells in people with MM and depletes the body of much needed white blood cells to fight off infection.  As the cancer cells grow, so do the symptoms.  Pam's future will consist of biological therapy to try to turn her body into a cancer fighting tool.  She will be given drugs like lenalidomide (Revlimid), thalidomide (Thalomid), or pomalidomide (Pomalyst).  She will also endure protease inhibitors (to target and kill cancer cells), chemotherapy (for the rest of her life), corticosteroids, Stem cell transplants, and/or a combination of many of these treatments. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Multiple Myeloma and Stage 3 is advanced. When I read up on this disease, I wanted to cry.  It is hard not to look at prognosis and they all seem to be the same.  In her case, there is a 3-5 year life shelf and the treatment that comes with it is nothing short of quality of life reduction.  And it pisses me off because it also places her right in that 12-year window for TNBC's.  I am angry over that too... or maybe just scared.  Again.  Anyway, I digress.  This is about her, not me.  

So for this day, she will do the same thing she did with TNBC.  She will fight.  One day at a time, every single day.  Until she has no more fight left or until research has come up with promising therapy for individuals like my sister.  Today, I pray for Pam and for every person out there, who like my other friend, Michele Haro, who has been enduring this dreadful disease along with kidney failure for a year now and just received an additional diagnosis of skin cancer.  I pray for them because I know it is the best thing I can do and I ask you to do the same with me.  And pray for research, that they will find better treatment for those in need, not just with TNBC or Multiple Myeloma, but all cancers.

Thank you. I love you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Six years Later..... Pain after Breast Cancer: Costocondritis

After settling in with all the "new normals" of being a post-cancer patient and the hitches that come with that, there always seems to be something that creeps up.  In the last couple of years, I have stayed rather quiet for several reasons, but mostly because I was tired and just didn't have the energy to keep up with TNBC or anything else "cancer". :(  Maybe I was just trying to forget? But one never forgets....

Since those days, I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, osteopenia/osteoporosis, depression, excessive back pain (from a car crash way back when), issues from being hit by a truck during chemo (fun).....and now, costochondritis.

Here is the low down on costochondritis.   After breast cancer pain seems to be part of the normal every day activities and doctors often say "give it more time".  Well, in my case, I have done quite well...considering I am now 7 years out from diagnosis and 5 years out from the last of all treatments and reconstruction! Unfortunately, a few months back I had an incident where my ribs hurt.  It wasn't a crazy painful hurt, but one where I felt like I had bruised my ribs, and if I turned the wrong way or bumped them, it hurt.  Now, two weeks ago, I started getting this unbelievable pain in my ribs and chest. It almost feels like someone is stabbing me from the inside out or even a burning pain. While sometimes it lasts for just a few minutes, it can also last for several minutes leaving me shaken or waking me from a full sleep. 
Since this diagnosis, I have done a little more research and understand the cartilage between the ribs is inflamed. It has occurred because of the mastectomy in 2009.  I, like others, worry as the pain generated is in the area of where my multifocal tumors were situated.”

Therapydotcom states that "Costocondritis is inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone (called costal cartilages). Also known as anterior chest wall pain, costosternal syndrome or parasternal chondrodynia, it causes pain in the chest wall around the breastbone (or sternum) and sometimes is severe.
Costochondritis is a common problem in women who have been affected by breast cancer and acts up in a similar way to arthritis. The pain may be mild to severe with tenderness over the anterior chest and may radiate to the back, shoulders, stomach or arms. Pain is often aggravated with coughing, lifting, straining, sneezing and deep breathing. Pain can be constant or intermittent and can last for several days to multiple months/years."  (Oh joy!)
Apparently once you get it, it can flare up at any time and you have to be cautious with over-working your arms with things like lifting, painting and sweeping. Sometimes the pain can extend to the shoulder or arm on the involved side.  As for me, mine radiates from my sternum to the right all the way around my back and involves my right implant also.  Honestly, it hurts to a point it feels like my implant is going to fall off - even though I know otherwise.
Therapydotcom goes on to say "When costochondritis is accompanied by swelling of the areas surrounding the cartilage, the condition is called Tietze syndrome which causes localized musculoskeletal pain. In Tietze syndrome, the swollen area of the inflamed cartilage may be tender to the touch, and the skin overlying the cartilage may be reddened".
My doctor has recommended a combination of rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications (Ibuprofen), and stretches. In reading up, some cases of severe pain, cortisone injections or surgery have been utilized- with mixed results. I myself would defer on that and stick to stretching exercises as they have shown to be beneficial. 
So, ladies, my recommendation is to keep on keeping on.  Keep your chin up, keep stretching, keep exercising, keep kicking cancer's axx.....Much love. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Has it been that long?

I guess maybe it has. As time has crept by, I thankfully have continued to be NED (No Evidence of Disease).  That does not mean I have been without ailments because I have had my share.  Just not the "C" word - thank God!!!

In celebration of my five years cancer free, my son Brad took me on another cruise with a bucket list item to check off - meeting Trace Atkins.  We were front row and before the concert I DID get to hug him and take a picture with him along with Brad and my ex-mother-in-law.  We took her along as she NEVER has gone on a ship, been to a concert or anything like that.  So actually, giving to her was like a check on the bucket list as well because she had a great time.

I did have a scare with vertigo and at times it still gets to me.  What I found out is that like 85% of the other folks who get it, it is fairly easily fixable, but usually comes back.  After MRIs and such, I was sent to an audiologist who said my "Crystals had come loose and needed to be reset".  In other words, I was officially a dizzy blonde.  After a quick and painless 20 minutes, I was free to go and not dizzy.  Point of this is if you get vertigo, have your doctor check your crystals (ear crystals).

My son is getting married this year. I am so excited to be gaining a daughter!!  She is wonderfully brilliant, talented and beautiful.  Additionally, I am an honorary Gigi to a coming baby, Zander.  And yes, he will surely be spoiled.  Both occasions are scheduled to take place within a month or so of each other.

I have had to fight with VA to get my chest tattooed.  It has been a battle.  The people they sent me to have done one layer of tattooing and I don't know how well it will turn out but it is all I have been offered.  Just keeping my fingers crossed.  Better something than nothing, huh?

Anyway, wishing all of you out there fighting the battle to keep your chin up - to God.  He has your six and knows your plan.  Keep the faith in all that you do and help your body heal.  Eat right, play right, and stay right in your heart.  God bless for many healthy days ahead!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cancer is Cancer = Cancer to Cancer..... Mesothelioma (Ugh.)

    I was recently contacted by a gentleman, Cameron St James, who requested I take a moment on behalf of his wife, Heather, (family photo below) who is currently in remission by the way, to discuss another type of cancer:  Mesothelioma.  Of course I agreed to this because after all cancer is cancer!!  Once you are diagnosed, it doesn’t really matter what type you have, you are a cancer patient fighting for your life and your loved ones are right there praying and fighting alongside you that you beat the crap out of it.  So even though I do not know them, I KNOW them and their family, and their battles. Cameron and Heather, this is in honor of your fight and battle won! 
    Mesothelioma is the term used to describe a cancerous tumor which involves the mesothelial cells of an organ, usually the lungs, heart, or abdominal organs. Pleural mesothelioma or cancer of the lung lining is the most common form of mesothelioma cancer. Peritoneal mesothelioma is stomach lining cancer and is the next most common form of mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest and accounts for just 10% of annual diagnoses and originates in the heart.
    As I have read, the onset of mesothelioma asbestos lung cancer is slow and symptoms range from chest pain to pain in the lower back to difficulty breathing or coughing.  People may also experience weight loss and fever.  It is critical to seek treatment as soon as possible.  Mesothelioma asbestos lung cancer is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.

Symptoms for Pleural Mesothelioma:  Chest pain and pain in the lower back, difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss, fever, muscle weakness and sensory loss, swelling of the face and arms, hoarseness, coughing up blood

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma: The abdomen may bloat (fluid accumulation) and there may be nausea and/or vomiting, swelling of the feet, fever or impaired bowel function.
Not so odd, I read words that resembled my breast cancer in that early “signs” of  mesothelioma are often” ignored or mistaken for other minor ailments” because they are not specific to the disease.  (What I have learned more than anything else in the last five years is this: listen to your body!! If something feels off, check it out!!)

    Did you know that this year, several thousand people will be diagnosed with Mesothelioma? L They will be given 10 months to love….. Yes, I said LOVE….. Because you never really live or love until someone tells you that you are going to die (in my opinion).  Help make a difference in living and loving in our cancer to cancer battle!!  Learn about this disease and the signs and symptoms!  I would also encourage you to jump over to Cameron and Heather’s page to read more about 
Mesothelioma and Heather’s amazing - and rare case of- remission at:
For all of us out there dealing with every kind of cancer…however long you are given to love – and live…take it…fight hard.  Pass along as much information and hope as you can to the next person!  Future generations are counting on every one of us to fight for them NOW! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

As Taken from the "Medical Press" which posted on 6/24/14

Virus kills triple negative breast cancer cells, tumor cells in mice 6/24/14

"A virus not known to cause disease kills triple-negative breast cancer cells and killed tumors grown from these cells in mice, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. Understanding how the virus kills cancer may lead to new treatments for breast cancer.
Adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) infects humans but is not known to cause sickness. In prior studies, the researchers tested the virus on a variety of breast cancers that represent degrees of aggressiveness and on human papillomavirus-positive cervical cancer cells. The virus initiated apoptosis—natural cell death—in cancer cells without affecting .
"Treatment of breast cancer remains difficult because there are multiple signaling pathways that promote tumor growth and develop resistance to treatment," said Craig Meyers, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.
Signaling pathways involve molecules in a cell that control cell functions—such as cell division—by cooperation. For example, the first molecule in the process receives a signal to begin. It then tells another molecule to work, and so on.
Treatment of breast cancer differs by patient due to differences in tumors. Some tumors contain protein receptors that are activated by the hormones estrogen or progesterone. Others respond to another protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2. Each of these is treated differently.
A does not have any of these protein receptors and is typically aggressive.
"There is an urgent and ongoing need for the development of novel therapies which efficiently target triple-negative breast cancers," Meyers said.
In the current study, the researchers tested AAV2 on a cell-line representative of triple-negative breast cancer. The researchers report their results in Cancer Biology & Therapy.
The AAV2 killed 100 percent of the cells in the laboratory by activating proteins called caspases, which are essential for the cell's natural death. In addition, consistent with past studies, AAV2-infected cancer cells produced more Ki-67, an immunity system activating protein and c-Myc, a protein that helps both to increase cell growth and induce apoptosis. The cancer cell growth slowed by day 17 and all cells were dead by day 21. AAV2 mediated cell killing of multiple breast cancer cell lines representing both low and high grades of cancer and targeted the independent of hormone or growth factor classification.
The researchers then injected AAV2 into human cell line-derived tumors in without functioning immune systems. Mice that received AAV2 outlived the untreated mice and did not show signs of being sick, unlike the untreated mice. Tumor sizes decreased in the treated mice, areas of cell death were visible and all AAV2 treated mice survived through the study, a direct contrast to the untreated mice.
"These results are significant, since tumor necrosis—or death—in response to therapy is also used as the measure of an effective chemotherapeutic," Meyers said.   Future studies should look at the use of AAV2 body-wide in mice, which would better model what happens in humans, according to Meyers."

Well, fellow TNBCers - this is promising news!  Let's continue to hang in there and keep the faith.  They are continuing to do the research in hopes of helping us and this is looking good!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Opinions on Bilaterals Changing as Heard on CBS This Morning

The Chief of Breast Surgery was on CBS This Morning with Gayle King and Charlie Rose discussing breast cancer and mastectomies.  I watched the interview and had to rewind it a bit just to be sure I caught the entire thing.  While I applaud her efforts at trying to get women to maintain their natural body parts, the medical community for years, has been telling women how bilaterals would decrease the return of breast cancer - and possibly reduce another cancer elsewhere in their body.

This doctor turned it on its heels taking a 180-position saying that 1-20 women choose to have "unnecessary" bi-laterals when the removal of one breast is justified. From 1997-2007, there has been a 10x increase and that women overestimate the return of cancer to the other breast.  She stated cancer normally doesn't go to the other breast, but if it returns, it goes somewhere else in the body.  Further, she said women don't get what they hope for such as lower risk of return of the cancer, OR "improved survival from the cancer they have" by having both breasts removed, BUT they do get other things such as the possibility of a more symmetrical appearance or, a reduction in the cancerous possibilities from BRCA 1/2 and future false positives and such.

Needless to say, I was hopeful for women in the future, but a little flabbergasted from everything that I have learned through my own journey.  So, here is my take, my words, my opinion for that Chief and all women.

Rest assured, MY life has already been "IMPROVED" by an entire FIVE YEARS.  That of which I likely would not have seen Christmas 2009 if I had not taken drastic measures as my cancer was very mean and aggressive.If I had not had both removed, it would have been bad for me because other small tumors were "hiding" in the other breast in a location at the chest wall and not seen on MRI and mammo.

I believe women today elect for bilateral surgery because they do their homework, or have help, or have been informed by the medical community that is is/was the safest, most hopeful long-term treatment (once the surgical aspect is complete).  Placing all breast cancers into one pile stating that a bilateral is not necessary is a dangerous path to tread.  IF the cancer had/has already hit the lymph nodes (your body's super highway), then it has already traveled elsewhere anyway (as she said) and a patient then waits for the ugly monster to rear its head.   Then, women tackle the beast that day, but not today.

My opinion was, and remains, that I would rather opt for a chance at long term survival - for which I AM living proof.  I appreciate her valuable opinion, but respectfully disagree with her. I am certain the 100 women diagnosed today in NY will listen to her and weigh her words and proceed to choose their path carefully. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

And Lovely Life Goes On

This year has already been filled with so much good and yet so many struggles for my family.  I have been so blessed with my health that at times it takes my breath away when I see how others health fails them and they continue to decline.

My brother, who had the brain injury on Christmas Eve, has made what can only be considered to be a miraculous recovery.  He went from having near zero odds for recovery, to a nursing home, to an assisted living home, to temporary living quarters with my sister.  At the beginning of May, he will begin the next part of his own journey in South Carolina with his son watching over him.  We worked with him everyday.  I will tell each of you who reads this, if there is a brain injury, work that brain and do not give up.   They are in there you just have to find them.  Bring them back to you, they are waiting.  He IS back and getting stronger everyday - even driving again!! Now THAT is a miracle.

My aunt was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor and underwent brain surgery.  They removed most of it, but she will now endure the dreaded chemo and radiation cocktail.  I love this woman insanely.  The youngest of seven girls in my mother's family, my brother's and sister's and I could always count on her when it was cold or we were hungry.  I know that she is in God's hands and has good medical care, but I ask that if anyone hears me, please pray for her.

My sister crashed her motorcycle and got banged up with a couple broken ribs. She, thankfully, is doing well. At 59, one would think she would have taken a harder hit, but she is one tough cookie.  She sold that bike the next day. Thank you Jesus!!!!

And I moved, locally.  I still have bone and muscle pain throughout my body so packing, lifting and moving have been ridiculously hard for me.  But I am not complaining.

Whew....we have been crazy busy, right??? I know.  But on a beautiful high note, my son got engaged to his soul mate.  I went with him to pick out the ring and in less than hour set up the dinner and everything as it was not pre-planned at all.  His dad picked up the $600 dinner tab (thank you!!).  It was amazing and Kyle ran and got her father - AND step-father's permission and at dinner, did the complete old-fashioned, down on one knee, will you marry me just like she always dreamed would happen.  As a mother, it was a moment I will cherish in my heart forever.  And sweet Ashley had no idea at all that it was coming.....none.  It was just fabulous.  She thought it was her birthday dinner.

Our 15-year old chocolate Labrador that I drove for hours to get Kyle for his 10th birthday is not well.  April has been so hard!!!!  He had seizures yesterday and of course, I cried.  It will be hard when Russ has to put him down.  Kyle found him on the internet.  Someone dumped "a box" of what turned out to be pups on the highway and they ended up at the shelter at 6 weeks old.  Well, I gave in to Kyle and called to see if they had that pup named "Tucker" and they did, so without telling him, drove to the Iowa border, and they said, "You can pick him up tomorrow, we have to neuter him".  I damn near fainted that day.  Drove all the way home thinking it's a fricking between laughing of course, because I knew my son was going to be over the moon!!

The next day, back I went to get him, only to find out on the way home, in my new SUV, that he was car sick..... Anyway, my post today is dedicated to the unconditional love of our Tucker, who I wish could live forever, but we all know that won't happen.  But, I am sure we will see him again.  He will be wagging his tail waiting for all of us.....

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....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's That Time Again!

Hello everyone! It's been quite awhile that I've been back to write a post. I've been busy and taking it easy by taking care of my health, and my brother, for awhile.

This last year, it seemed as if a lot of women I knew were diagnosed with breast cancer and it became frightening for me as a survivor.  I actually sat back to analyze what I was doing out here. Was my writing all for naught in that this devil of an illness was out of control, or that maybe my hope for the future misleading, or am I doing good by continuing my thoughts?  I would like to believe that I can make you laugh, give you hope, and educate you too! And yes, my goal is to ALWAYS be honest and forthright.

Here it is October 2012, wow - three years ago this month, I was walking my first Making Strides event while undergoing chemo.  The next year, I ran it in under 42 minutes. I was so proud of myself because in my heart, I carried so many others with me.  This Saturday, I will walk it again, no more running for my achy bones!  Each year, this event becomes so much more meaningful to me, not just because I am here to walk it, but because of all the other women (and men) who are now surviving and able to share in the day as well.  It still takes my breath away as I walk under those balloons that represent both life and death and the fundraising efforts of millions of people.

This cancer thing is part of who I am. I cannot change that any more than I can change the size of my hands (because I can change my butt and bust) :).  Everywhere I go, it remains a part of me, but I am trying not to let it define me.  It has changed my life in so many ways. My body hurts unlike ever before, so when I had an opportunity to retire/leave the City, I did.  I prayed to God to help me and find a way for me, and he did. I am now in retiree mode resting more and trying to figure out what it is I can or need to do.  All new territory for someone like me who has been so driven all her life.  I thought about writing a book, but what would the catch be?  Cancer? Survival instincts? Motherhood? They've pretty much all been written.  So I wait and think.  I have some idea's, but my mind is not cooperating dammit.  Damn chemo brain. ;)

Cancer changed me in many amazing ways as well, so I am not complaining!  I look at life so much differently; I do not take it for granted.  I desire to help others when possible and I see more good than evil.  More importantly, Jesus found me again. My relationships with others are so much more valuable than ever before.

Moving along....I got two new tattoo's!! I know, it sounds silly for a woman my age, but they both have genuine meaning to me.  The first one, on my chest says "Survivor" with a pink ribbon, and the other is an infinity ribbon with my boys names and a heart. Their actual fingerprints will be placed inside the heart. 

For new survivors; Your life will change a hundred times over - roll with it.  It is a part of who you are, period.  I believe that you will become more educated than ever before by yourself and with the help of others, should you choose to and whether or not you want to.  You have a choice to fight or flight; I recommend fight - always.  Our bodies change - so what, big deal.  So do our minds and our souls and our families and friends.  This is not just a challenge, it IS a journey; embrace it.  You are not alone.

For those survivors that have been around awhile - GO YOU! I am so glad you are still here and able to enjoy the warm sunshine, soft rains, birthdays, and life itself.

And for those of you that we have lost this year (and year's past), my promise is to carry you with me Saturday and always as we continue to fight for a cure.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

No Cancer Dancer - Three Years!!

Three years ago, I was terrified that God would take me from my children. How selfish of me, huh? I couldn't begin to comprehend the new terms being tossed at me and what my body was about to endure. But today, I am a no cancer dancer!! The PET Scan is clean! In exactly 11 days, I will reach that critical three year date of being clean from this dreaded disease. YAY!

If you are a follower here, you know that I had a scan back on 6/15 but for some strange reason, the results "never came in".  Well, under normal circumstances, no news is good news, but when you have lived with a determined little DNA that goes awry, you just never know what is going to you wait, and wait. And in this case...wwaaaiitttt..... but alas, wahala!  Thank you, Jesus.

Three years.  Ladies (and gents, too!) this is great news - especially coming from a TNBC like me!! As I said from the very beginning of this blog, there are no guarantees with cancer, so we hope and we pray. TNBC was found by researchers only a short decade or so ago, so I KNOW there is great hope in the strides being made today for tomorrow's patient.  And I want YOU to believe it!!

You, me, we, cannot give up the fight to support research for ongoing treatment.  Treatment that includes simple things like a life-saving mammogram, a trip to the oncologist (for those financially unable), patient and family support, and yes, the American Cancer Society. They have done so much for patients and their families and the only way I can think of to continue to support research and patients (at the same time) is to support ACS. If others before us had not done so, my sister and I would not be here right now, of that I am certain. I am not a spokesperson or anything for them, I have just been a cancer patient who has been loved by the people who work there.

Today, I ask that you look at each face that passes you by. At work, in the store, on the street, even on television.  Look at them with hope and compassion because if they are not, or have not suffered from a cancer themselves, then surely a loved one has. This disease called knows no boundaries and is very determined to take lives young and old. It took my mother and father. At some point, it has held several women in my family - seven of us. But we are not giving up!

Together, we will continue the battle.  Yay, for three years! YOU can do this, too. I believe in you. Hang in there.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grateful today

Well, I still sit here waiting....patiently as I try....for the results of my PET scan that was done back on 6/15. Those of us who undergo these know that the clock can tick slowly while waiting for the results, but come on, 10 days? Give a chemo brain a break! ;)  I should be a grateful little soldier in that I am well taken care of by our Veteran's Administration and that there are others who, unlike me, may not have access to these medically necessary scans.  So my thought for today is, thank you VA from a grateful ole soldier, but please forward my results. wink wink.

On another note, my Making Strides page is open - please, if you have not yet donated to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign, please consider making a donation at my site.  Your donation is tax deductible!   June 2, 2012, was three years since my diagnosis, and honestly, I have met hundreds of other women with breast cancer. Many are still with us, many are not.  I am determined to help ensure that as time goes by, that percentage of survival increases and that my family will never have to worry about this dreaded disease again.  On October 20, 2012, I will once again walk for, and carry those with me, who can no longer walk for themselves. I AM trying to making strides today for "our" breast cancer family tomorrow.  I could list so many names right here, but there wouldn't be enough room to represent them all.

I must believe that one day, breast cancer will never steal another year from anyone's life.

Cheers for an awesome and hope-filled week! Hugs

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

MDS symptoms

As I posted yesterday, Robin Roberts is once again fighting the battle with MDS, a form of leukemia. To follow up on that post because she is also a triple negative, I thought some of you might be interested in the signs or symptoms of the disease.

As taken from the mdsbeacon website and originally published by Biblia Kim 5/1/09, it is as follows:
The symptoms of MDS will vary depending on the severity of the disease. Nearly half of those with MDS display no symptoms upon initial diagnosis.

Anemia, or low red blood cell count, cause the most common symptoms because red blood cells are responsible for distributing oxygen throughout the body. In MDS, the percentage of healthy red blood cells is below normal; therefore, the body does not receive adequate oxygen.
Signs of anemia include:
  • Chronic tiredness or fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Pale skin
  • Chilled sensations
  • Cardiovascular symptoms, such as chest pain (older patients)
Neutropenia, or a low white blood cell count, is another symptom of MDS. A shortage of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infections, increases the likelihood of acquiring an infection or fever. Of the various types of white blood cells, most people with MDS lack neutrophils, rather than lymphocytes, making them more susceptible to bacterial than viral infections. It is possible to have a defective immune system despite normal neutrophil counts.
The common infections associated with neutropenia include:
  • Skin infection
  • Sinus infection accompanied by nasal congestion
  • Lung infection accompanied by shortness of breath or a cough
  • Urinary tract infection accompanied by frequent and painful urination.
Thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count, is also a symptom of MDS. Platelets are responsible for blood clotting.
People with MDS have a greater frequency of the following symptoms:
  • Nosebleeds (epistaxis)
  • Bleeding gums
  • Flat, pinpoint bruises
  • Rashes of small red dots(petachiae).
Less common signs of MDS include:
  • Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
  • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly)
  • Abnormal shape or size of cells
  • Chromosomal abnormalities. 
Keeping in mind that I would think that periodically some of these things are part of our "normal". But, if you have been reading the above and checking some of the concerns off, then I would recommend you make an appointment with your oncologist for a consultation.  It is likely nothing to worry about, but we as cancer patients know, it is better to be safe than sorry because our lives really do depend on listening to our bodies.

Blessings to all! Have a great week. And don't forget to say a little prayer for fellow cancer patients!!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Robin will be fine

Triple negative breast cancer is a disease that keeps giving. Even when one battle ends, another may begin at any time. If you know someone with breast cancer, please offer a helping hand.  The emotional, physical, and life toll it can take on an entire family is tremendous.  If you are a survivor, please don't forget about those who still need YOU.  Your friends, your family, patients, neighbors.  Cancer may have changed your life in many ways, but it does not define who you are unless you let it.

And so now we hear that Robin Roberts is facing a new challenge in her life.  After surviving triple negative breast cancer, she has now been diagnosed with a bone marrow disease.  She is under going a "pre-treatment" of sorts to gear up for blood transfusions that will help her.  This woman is a rock.  She was one of the very first people I recall looking up with TNBC.  Reading her story helped calm the storm that raged fear within me.  I was terrified and reading her journey quieted that fear, some.

Learning of her illness makes my stomach do flip flops for her, because I know she will have to undergo that dreaded red - or green - devil again, but she is a tough cookie. I read what she had to say about her diagnosis and just like Robin, she is completely positive that her outcome is good.  Some TNs might wonder what is to come for them, too.  Don't worry about tomorrow, we can only control what we have today.

That being that case, I am positive that I will be praying for mercy and intervention on her behalf.  Please, won't you pray for this woman who has come into homes every day with a smile and a story to brighten the lives of millions around the world.

Have a blessed week all.  Hugs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Item #6 on My Bucket List

Well, item #6 on my bucket list is identified as "making a difference in someone's life".  Today, I did something that I hope, hope, hope, will come true.  I sent an email to Ellen DeGeneres asking her to consider my mother in law for a new car.

My M-I-L, Peggy, is nearly a saint. I love this woman as if she were my own mother (My mom died of cancer when I was 19).  She has endured so much, and asked for so little throughout the years. I think the last time she was even on a vacation was probably 20 years ago when I took her to Oklahoma for a weekend of bingo.  She raised five kids on her own after her husband unexpectedly died of a massive heart attack, and never remarried. Her life has been dedicated to her family. One child has cerebral palsy and another has brain seizures. She has never had a new car - ever. Or a new house. Her home was built in the 40's or 50's and her son, my ex-husband (and friend) is constantly making repairs to both the car and house.  The air conditioning is an open window or window unit. Yet, she takes it all in stride and smiles through even the hardest times.

Peg is now in her 70's and still works part-time at a bakery, just to get by.  It breaks my heart. I wish I could give her so much, but I don't have it either.  As we know, cancer has a way of depleting everything out of a person, but if I could, I sure would do this myself.

Not only would it be neat to check off another bucket list wish (Item #6) by helping this truly inspiring woman, who, without even realizing it, helped me become a better person and a good mother, but I would like to be able to give back just an ounce of what she has given to me and so many others.  If you knew her, she would make you smile.  She makes everyone smile; especially my children who adore her.

Ellen, if anyone can do this, you can! Please help me honor Peggy.

To my readers, you can help by asking Ellen to support this request. Her web page is:

It would do our hearts some good.  That's my thoughts today.  Love to all.

Hugs and hope~  (Ellen - call me!!)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Where'd They Go??

Hi everyone.  Apparently my blog has learned magic, because I am certain I have been writing and logging in here, but a few have magically disappeared.  *poof*gone*  Go figure.

Well, surely there is no way I can regroup what is lost, but I can tell you that my PET scan was indeed negative and I danced around the same office where I first found out about the cancer.  I will make  three years NED and I have no doubt that I will see four and five years too!  What a weight off my shoulders!  I didn't realize how concerned I was until the phone rang and I picked it up. Once I hung up, it was like someone lifted a boulder off of my chest. 

My boys have been in Jamaica for this last week celebrating their daddy's 50th birthday with him.  It brings me great joy and peace to see the wonderful relationship our family has maintained even though we have been divorced for more than 20 years.  Way back then I knew by maintaining "friendly fire" it would be in their best interest long term, and now they not only reap the rewards, but the entire family does and I thank God for his whispers to me even when I wanted to scream.

On another note, one thing we as cancer patients know is that life is very short.  This morning I learned of the passing of a nice lady who was loved by so many people here in Melbourne. She was not a cancer patient. Her death was tragic and completely unexpected.  I only met her a few times and she was so nice to me each time.  So today, my thoughts and my heart are with each of these folks and the family members who lost her.  Michelle, you left your footprint on many and I'm sure they will carry your memory with them always. Thank you for sharing yourself with so many. You will be greatly missed.

Take time today to hug someone or tell them you love them.  These are what make up such special moments in life and when you have the opportunity - don't let it slip by!! You know what they say about physics, right?  In the one second you touch something hot and burn your hand - it can feel like an eternity. But in the second you've lost someone you love, it seems like they've only been here mere minutes and gone way too soon.  Don't miss any special minute today.

You are loved.  Hugs.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Regarding PET Scans

Hello everyone. I've been away for a little while.  Busy, but not; exhausted, but energetic.  I was actually just taking some selfish "me" time by going on an amazing cruise! I went to St Thomas and St. Maarten Islands, which I recommend, and since my return, I have been working and napping and playing with my dogs, and so on.

I went in and had a PET Scan on Friday.  I've had some issues with lymph nodes in my arm where the cancer was, and it is painful. My shoulder gives me a fit occasionally, but this was different, so the doc is investigating.  Safety - I prefer that.  As a TN, I'm keeping my fingers crossed because June will be that three year critical point I need to reach being NED.  I believe I remain cancer free and so I hope to hear that from the doctor today.

Regarding PET Scans, I thought I may be able to re-share/refresh the information on them.  What they can do.  PET Scans provide critical information to help physicians locate and determine size of a cancer, distinguish benign from malignant, determine aggression or invasion (has the cancer spread?), type of treatment, and follow up / recurrences.

Some one million new cancers will be diagnosed in 2012 - this includes most cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 570,000 Americans are expected to die of cancer this year, more than 1,560 people per day.  Through the use of the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computed Tomography (CT) imaging, doctors can detect and evaluate the extent of cancer.

So now that you know what it CAN do, just how is it done? I will do my best to explain in words I understand it to be. If I am wrong, please feel free to correct me as I want everyone to have the best information.

Well, it can be time consuming, but it really isn't a difficult test. Upon arrival at the imaging center or hospital, you will have an injection that contains minute radioactive glucose particles designed to "make the cancer glow" if you will. For some reason, the cancer is attracted to the sugary substance of it.  The hardest part of the test comes in two parts.  The first part is in remaining very still and quiet. You know how it is, as soon as you are requested not to move or don't have a free hand - your nose itches. Guaranteed every time, right? The second hardest part is the waiting on the results.  The specialists that review the tests know how important it is to get your results right the first time, so you can expect to wait three days.  And, if you are like me, five days as my test was on a Friday.  Patience is a plus.  Anyway, my therapy in waiting comes in my writing this for you and booking my next cruise to the western Caribbean with my son (yayness!).

If you can sit down and look at your results, good or bad, with your doctor, you get a fine opportunity to learn a little more about your body.  How cool is that?  Have an awesome week, and a very blessed Easter.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So Much to Live For

I have always been aware of the things that I am grateful for in my life. My God, my children, my home, my country, my job, and the ability to see and feel and laugh and love freely as I choose.....When faced with a possible death sentence, there are moments that flash before your eyes and a weakness that fills your whole body. In one breathless split second, you know there is still so much to yet to do. Suddenly all the little things you have done in your life become a bit more significant. You treat others a bit more tenderly and loving and enjoy each day because you know time is precious and that dash between your years is important. An you know that some people never get that extra time.  (I have also found that I can get a bit irritated when people are arrogant or waste my time.)

I would like to think I have accomplished some wonderful things in my life - most importantly my children.  Education, retired military, honors, and others things that fall on the list are there, but my boys, well they are what move me - my real prize in life. When I think about a bucket list, they are always included in those things I want to do.

Just for kicks, some of things on my list that I hope to do (with my boys) one day are:
1.  Go to LA and be on the Ellen Show and the Price is Right. They are my two favorite shows.
2.  Visit Poland.
3.  Write a book
4.  Get a tattoo that is a compilation of my boys tats and names
5.  Sing with Bette Midler
6.  Make a difference in someone's life
7.  Visit the Grand Canyon
8.  Watch the Northern Lights - from Oregon or Alaska
9.  Go skydiving with my boys (Check!)
10. Swim with dolphins with my boys (Check!)
11. Get a master's degree (Check!)
12.  Raise money for charity (Check!)
13. Win the lottery
14. Pay off my house
15. Drive the pace car in the first lap of the Daytona 500
16. Win a Corvette :)

Being a two year survivor, I am now working on that list.  I add to it all the time and I do things that I didn't realize was even on it and then check it off anyway because it just felt amazing......These are but a few of the things that I have to live for but my children brighten my day beyond measure.  Everyday is a pleasure knowing I have them in my life. Just yesterday my son got a tattoo with my signature and a breast cancer ribbon on it.  He blew me away.  On his facebook page, he wrote "the most important person in the world to me".  And this is how I know I still have so much more yet to live for.

For you, whether you are still fighting or a survivor, choose how you want to spend your days and then do it.  Make a list or not.  Count your blessings or not.  Being on this side of the grass on any day is a good day for me so I'm going to make it count with a good attitude and a bit of grace!