Thursday, December 31, 2009

"We Learned alot this Year"

Steffie said that. She did. She takes this change to a new year more seriously now since she's got 2 digits to her age :) My darling, perceptive child said this to me just yesterday as we were doing errands. I told her I wouldn't be sad to see 2009 go. And out pops that tidbit of wisdom.

Yes, we did learn alot this year. Alot of good and some bad. We learned that Mommy is tougher than most and that I was incredibly lucky not to be plagued by the severe side effects many experience with chemo. We learned that each day matters more and that we're tighter as a family. Chemo and treatment has left scars and leftovers that don't disappear but I can honestly say I'm looking forward to what 2010 brings this family.

Bill, the girls and I wish you all the happiest and HEALTHIEST 2010 possible. To all my blogging sisters and brothers, you have been invaluable to me as a virtual support system. Take every care with yourself, love your families and be well in 2010.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is such a special time in our home. I have a carved in stone rule that the mass hysteria stops by noon on this day. This gives everyone plenty of time to come back down to earth for the seriousness of the day. This is the day Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. The day Mary's body prepared to give birth to the light that is Jesus. This day has truly more significance that merely the day before Christmas.

We'll all start collecting here at 1 p.m. to spend some quality family time together. The girls are excited because Bill's mom is in from Ocean City and we'll be going to mass tonight with everyone. Then our big tradition of dinner out with at least 15 of us at the local cafe. Bill's coming home early from work. Work can wait.

I think back to this time last year. I was minus my hair, exhausted despite the careful planning to give me a little of a break from chemo around the holidays. 2009 has been such a hard year. A year of pain and a year of recovery. I can honestly say I won't have any trouble putting this year behind me.

This doesn't mean I'm not thankful for what I have. I am. I think the only thing that hasn't been shaken is my faith. The depth of my feelings in God have only gotten stronger as I progressed through the nightmare. I have felt all along that He's guiding both Bill and me in the choices we make and that his knowing hand guides the physicians who care for me.

It's been an unbelievably long year. But when I think back to last Christmas, we've made great progress. Maybe not as much as I would have liked but I do know God has a plan for me, my girls and Bill.

Steffie has become a little lady, more aware of her responsibilities and duties in life. She's always been the most aware and sensitive child. Yes, she's a procrastinator of near epic proportions but I see a difference in her. I think of her comment about BC being a good thing for all of us. She feels that it's grounded us in what matters. It's made her more aware than children should be at her age of how her actions affect other people and that every moment should be cherished for the gift that it is.

Jackie has blossomed from baby to little girl in this past year. I get twinges of anger every now and again that this last year was stolen from me by this disease. My baby made this transformation while I was at my very worst. But somewhere inside I know it made her a stronger little girl. Compassion can be taught only by example and I have cherished memories of her tucking up next to me last, snuggling close to make Mommy feel better. And it did.

Bill has been my saving grace. I couldn't have made one step down this long road without him.

There's still more to do. More recovery, more pain from the last surgery, more living but all of it is surrounded by love.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I am OKZay! And Snow!!

A week later, and here I am. I'm hurting still but it's the muscle healing. The incisions are starting to pinch like crazy as the healing progresses. For those of you that might be wondering how this part of reconstruction goes, I'll explain.

I had 3 types of cancer in my right boob so everything, including the nipple complex was removed. We decided on an elective left mastectomy for preventative reasons. In any event, I ended up with expanders placed under the pec muscles - the left one was punctured when my mediport was installed. Sr. S left 6 inch incisions across the middle of each breast. I assumed he would cut on the side. Nope. He just opened the existing incisions like a "zipper."

So this surgery last week involved removal of the old expanders and insertion of the new silcone implants. We decided this would be best because I didn't want to go through filling things up. Dr. S also removed a ton of scar tissue and bulk crud around there - all of it went for biopsy and all of it came back clear!

So the incisions now have stitching that will dissolve and sticky tape across the middle. This will fall off on its own as I take more showers. Just praying, praying praying! that I don't react to the tape.

Pulling open dresser drawers isn't fun. Stirring cookie dough is like pushing a shovel through cement. Over time, apparently, the pec muscle degrades and weakens. So as soon as I can, I need to start lifting 2 pound weights to strengthen the pec muscles. They aren't sagging - they're just really really weak.

I'm way tired. Anesthesia and me simply don't agree anymore. I can get about an hour of energetic effort doing something and then I run out of steam. It's getting better and I know it's only been a week.

Wanted to post some pics of the snowstorm we had last weekend. 26 inches of snow and I couldn't lift a shovel. I pushed it around instead :) Thank God for Martin-the-awesome-neighbor who plowed our driveway. Since we kept going out to work on it in stages, he really helped us out!

Hope all of you are well and happy.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Here I am at 7:45 on Tuesday morning. Boy, am I sore. As in wrestling with wild animals, hit by a Mac truck sore. Even my lower back hurts. I guess that's from lying on that evil operating room table.

Things apparently went well. I was asleep so I missed it. I now have tatas that, of course, I haven't seen. I don't like looking at incisions so I've kept my bandages in place. Bill checked the bleeding and healing. He says things look OK. No drains, thank you Jesus. Those things are beyond gross!

Dr. S did do some scar tissue removal. He also sent everything to the pathology lab for testing - I guess this is standard procedure. I can't tell yet if I can move my arm better although the whole mess feels less tight across the chest, if that makes sense. I can't feel much of anything other than discomfort but the pulling seems to be gone. My right arm is pretty swollen but then Dr. S was in there messing around and it's my lymphedema arm. I did get stuck on my back in bed like a turtle with a shell. Had to wake Bill up for help getting up :)

All in all, it's manageable.

We actually ran into the lady at the hospital who made sure I had a private room last year during my mastectomy. I got the chance to thank her for helping us out. I can't imagine what I would have done without Bill with me 24/7. Angels along the way.

And we ran into at least 4 people in the surgical center who've cared for me before at one time or another. This was nice cause they treated me like a queeny-waheenie. Kept me warm, kept my mind busy during the wait with all the visiting and chatting. More angels.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wish me Luck!

I'm heading to the hospital in a little while for the tata replacement surgery. This should be a "drive by" type of operation that should be very quick. I hope. Me and anesthesia don't seem to agree.

I have been without boobs for over a year now since I don't really consider my expanders boobs. One is popped and the other has only been filled one time. It's gonna be quite weird to fill out a bra (even if it's only a B).

I chose barely B cups because I'm not used to them anymore. And also because I confess to being quite worried about the skin that's left. Radiation fried me to a crisp and although I've healed, there's a tremendous amount of scar tissue. Dr. S tells me he can clean it up some with scar tissue removal to help my range of motion. I SO HOPE THAT WORKS OUT!

I get to have clear fluids and jello until 10 a.m. Isn't that nice? :) I wonder why I couldn't have the same the day of my big surgery? I was a freakin mess and being so hungry made the whole thing worse.

Bill the super dooper wonder husband is going with me today, as is Mom. Poor guy, he simply has to wait but then, he's used to that. This will be my 5th surgery for this BC thing. That's pretty sad.

I'm off to get Jackie ready for school. Hope this post finds everyone well and happy.

Cheers everyone!