Friday, August 27, 2010



I survived my first radiation treatment on Monday.  As well as my 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th.  My first week! I'm more than 10% of the way through my radiation therapy!!!

I have 3 very nice radiation techs.  Terrence, Dustin and Jennifer (she's due in about a week, pray for a good delivery).  

I get to MDA, check in, change into a lovely gown (you know the kind with the ties that either show your backside or your frontside), and then sit and wait in what is called the "gown room".  The "gown room" is a very inspiring place.  Many inspirational notes on the wall, thank you cards, words of encouragement.  

One day I noticed a Bible verse hanging on the wall.  Matthew 6:25-27 25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Those verses have been a big part of our family's life for the past 5 years.  It was a great reminder for me to see them in the "gown room" right before my treatment.  I've also been clinging to the Cross, I hold my "clinging cross" in my right hand during radiation.

After my first treatment I met with Dr. Perkins (Radiation Oncologist).  On the way back to the examination room Sharon (Dr. Perkins' Nurse) asked me how my first radiation treatment went.  I said, "I'm not really sure how to answer that question but I'd say it went great!"

Dr. Perkins showed me x-rays and the path of the radiation.  Amazing technology!!

Oh I forgot to mention that one of my favorite words now is "breathe".  Every time a beam of radiation hits me I have to hold my breath.  A few times this week the techs forgot to tell me to breathe again :).

Jakob, Kelli and Joey also successfully completed the first week of school.  We made it through making lunches, getting up early (getting up early really is for the birds or for the hardworkers), homework.  We had a few tears (not going to mention from whom - but Mommy may have had a hard time sending the kids back to school).  

On Monday, on the first day of school, Joey's school hosted a breakfast for the parents after the kids went to their classes.  Danielle and Tracy had asked me who was taking me to my first radiation treatment.  I said I was going alone.  Well someone overheard me saying that.  This someone, whom I've only met a couple of times, showed up on my front doorstep at about 9:30 and offered to take me.  Nancy.  I told her thank you that I'm fine going alone and that we wouldn't be back in time for when school let out.  Nancy had already made arrangements with her Mother-in-law to get her kids.  And Danielle was already taking Joey home with her.  So Nancy took me to my first radiation treatment.  I call my helpers my Ladybugs, they are really Angels!

Thank you Ladybugs!!!

One other first this week.  Jim and I went to our first Breast Cancer Survivor support group meeting last night.  Normally it's just the Survivors but spouses were invited last night.  It was an amazing dinner hosted by this incredibly giving woman named Julie.

It was a fun night!  There were some tears shed but many more laughs.  

At the dinner last night I met another woman who had Triple Negative Breast Cancer and it turned out that about 2 years ago she was in the same study as I was in.  Julia was her Research Nurse too!!

Thank you for your prayers!  Please continue to pray.  This journey has brought so many blessings into my life.  I pray that you all too find blessings daily.

I am blessed to have you all in my life.  THANK YOU!!

Don't forget to join my team for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Love and Blessings from the top of my Heart,


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

feeling overwhelmed...

I know I shouldn't be feeling this way - overwhelmed!  I'm CANCER FREE!!  Why am I feeling this way?

One of the things that is heavy on my mind is the prevention of Lymphedema.  The Physical Therapists are giving me some wonderful tools in trying to prevent me from getting it.  Such as stretching exercises, soft tissue massage as well as little daily exercises like breathing exercises, wrist circles, opening and closing my hand and several other little exercises.

Great tools!!  I'm thankful for them!

Do you know what can cause Lymphedema?  Infections.  Things for me to avoid are: blood pressure cuffs on that arm (that's pretty easy), needle sticks on that arm (easy too), no hot showers, burns from cooking, bug bites, cuts and scratches to the hand or arm.  I also need to avoid harsh detergents (wearing rubber gloves when cleaning).  Avoid my hands from becoming dry or chapped.  Avoiding hangnails.  Avoid a razor while shaving under the arm (I have an electric razor).  Not that I do either one of these two things a lot but I need to avoid shelling shrimp or crawfish.

There's so much to know.

Oh yeah avoiding tight sleeved shirts, loose jewelry (I'm going to get my wedding rings made bigger).  Avoiding sleeping on the affected side, which of course is my favorite way to sleep.

Man do I hate complaining.  Why am I then?  I don't know!!!

Radiation increases my chances of getting Lymphedema too.  But I can't take the chance of not doing Radiation.  Those numbers of recurrence of Breast Cancer look so much better with Radiation than without it.

I received my Radiation schedule yesterday.  I went through the simulation.  Painless.  Cradle was made.  I was marked.  I had to learn how to breathe to drop my heart.  They don't want to radiate my heart, that would not be a good thing.  Since the lymph nodes that will be radiated are so close to my heart I have to hold my breath.  I get to wear these spaceage looking goggles that tell me when to hold my breath.

I will go for another run through on Friday and then start Radiation on Monday, August 23rd at 2 pm.  It's also the first day of school, thankfully I'll be able to take the kids to school on their first day back.  It's also the 16 year anniversary of my arrival in the USA, specifically Texas!!  It's a great day!  Lot's to be thankful for.

I will have 33 Radiation treatments.  My last one happens to be the day before I go on a "Girl's Weekend" with some friends. What a celebration that will be!!

I know I'm always asking you to pray for me.  But you know that without I wouldn't have gotten this far?

I ask you to continue to pray for me, for us whenever you can.

This overwhelming feeling is making me forget how far we've already come.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.

I love you!!!

Love and blessings from the top of my heart,


Monday, August 16, 2010

long time and some great numbers...

Howdy Army!

It seems like forever since I've blogged.  That's partially true.  I started blogging one day and then had writer's block so I thought I'd try again.

I had a great appointment with Dr. Perkins (Radiation Oncologist) 2 weeks ago.  He gave me some stats.  Most people with a full response to chemo don't usually do radiation, but at MD Anderson they do.  My chance of recurrence without radiation is 20-21%.  BUT my chance of recurrence with radiation is 2-3%.  That's a huge difference - I'm am highly being encouraged to go through with radiation.

After the appointment with Dr. Perkins Danielle and I met with Dr. Green (Oncologist).  She was practically jumping up and down for joy.  This was my first appointment with her since my great pathology report came in.  Remember it said NO CANCER and FULL RESPONSE TO CHEMOTHERAPY?  Well Dr. Green was very happy!!!  She told us that only happens in about 20% of patients. PRAISE JESUS!!!  Dr. Green then gave me my survival rate (I don't know if this is before radiation or including radiation) 90%!!  She also told us that she didn't want to give me my survival rate when I first got to MD Anderson (Stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer spreading both directions to the lymph nodes - didn't look good I guess).

God has shown me so many MIRACLES throughout this journey!  And I now realize what a miracle I am!  The Great Physician has healed me!!  I am so thankful - SO THANKFUL!!

There are some hurdles to still jump over.  Because I had 31 lymph nodes removed I have a chance of developing Lymphedema (swelling of the arm).  I am now in physical therapy.  I will be going twice a week for now.  I had my first appointment with the Physical Therapist (Ron) last Wednesday.  Measurements showed swelling in my hand, wrist, upper arm as well as my upper back.  I have 3 exercises that I have been given for homework - they aren't easy but I keep working on them.

I met with Dr. Skoracki (Plastic Surgeon) and Gordon (his P.A.) last week and they filled my tissue expander for the last time before radiation.  On August 17th, they will take saline out of my tissue expander to flatten me for radiation. Dr. Skoracki is very pleased with how I am healing.

Last week I also met with Dr. Hunt for my post-op.  She was also pleased with my healing.  I had talked to the nurse before Dr. Hunt came in.  I had told her that Jim and I were talking about how many "famous" people must come through MD Anderson.  She said yes but they aren't allowed to say who comes through, but that when you see a security guard that's usually someone famous.  I told her that I knew that Phil Mickelson's wife Amy and Mom had come to MDA (it was in the news).  She told me that Dr. Hunt was actually Amy and Phil's Mom's surgeon (it was in the news too but I didn't know that until that moment).  Made me feel pretty special that I had the same surgeon as them.  Dr. Hunt is amazing!

What else am I missing?

Oh yeah!!  I went to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Survivor's party.  I went with my friend Deana (8 month Survivor) and my friend Mary (11 year Survivor).  There were 400 Breast Cancer Survivors there (including one boy Survivor).  Geralyn Lucas was the guest speaker.  She wrote "Why I wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy".  She was a great speaker.  Geralyn started talking about hair and how for her it was almost harder to lose her hair than to lose her breast.  She invited women up on stage that were having a hard time with their hair - a couple of bald women went up on stage.

I told Deana and Mary, "This makes me just want to rip my wig off".  Deana said, "come on go up on stage, I'll go with you".  We did.  And I ripped my wig off.  The whole room started cheering for me.  Geralyn gave me a big hug and told me with emotion how proud she was of me.  As all of us women were walking off the stage she said that Samantha from "Sex and the City" had nothing on us.
Deana and me
Mary and Me

We had such a fun night!  The lady I sat next to was a 25 year Breast Cancer Survivor!!  I also got to finally meet in person, Molly.  And see a new friend again, Shalene.  It was a very empowering night!  I look forward to doing more with the Susan G. Komen organization.  Please don't forget to join my team, the Race is on October 2nd.  Or donate to this worthy cause

The other thing happening is that I will be going for my radiation simulation tomorrow, August 17th.  I'll be beginning radiation on August 23rd for 33 days (6 1/2) weeks).

So I have a few prayer requests.  I appreciate all your prayers - they mean so much and are what have gotten us this far.

- pray that I don't get Lymphedema (this will be an ongoing request, for the rest of my life)
- pray that my radiation goes smoothly
- pray for my physical therapy and rehabilitation
- pray for the tiny pains to go away
- pray for our kiddos as they get ready to go back to school next week

Thank you all for your time and for reading my blog.  I appreciate you all so much!!

I have been given this amazing chance to live life the way God intended for me to, thank you for being part of it.  I have the best family and friends EVER!!!

I love you!!

Love and Blessings from the top of my Heart,