Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From seroma to hematoma...

Unless I have run into you at HEB (our local grocery store) - you probably haven't heard about my Dr.'s appointment yesterday.

So the "bump"/"lump"/"boob" on my back was not a seroma it was a hematoma.  

I did not have a fine needle aspiration.  I got an early Christmas present...a drain!!!!  That's what I told Dr. Skoracki and he told me that he really thought that it would come out before Christmas.  

Gordon (PA) and Dr. Skoracki couldn't believe how big the "bump" was yesterday.  Gordon couldn't believe how much it had grown since last Thursday.  

It was decided the "bump" was big enough that it would require a drain.  

First some numbing, then in goes the drain and out comes about a 1/4 cup of blood.  My blood is maroon (Jim went to Texas A&M - that's their color).  I bleed maroon!  Dr. Skoracki said my blood was blue - like royalty, lol!!

Jim came down from work via train to drive me back home!  It's so nice that his office is close to MD Anderson.

Dr. Skoracki is going on vacation next Tuesday but he gave me his email address so I could let him know when the blood starts draining a straw color.

Last night Jim emptied 10 cc's out of the drain and this morning it was also 10 cc's and still maroon in color.

I'm so happy it was nothing serious!  I just have to take it easy for a few days - no heavy lifting, vacuuming, sweeping - you know the stuff that I did last week to celebrate my 2nd Survivorversary?!?!!!  

Very glad we didn't wait till after Christmas to have the "bump" drained - I do wonder how big it would have gotten?

Thank you for your prayers!!!  One more miracle on this journey!!!

Love and Blessings From the Top of My Heart,


Monday, December 12, 2011

A bump in the...road? No, on the back...

The day after my 2nd Survivorversary Kelli was rubbing my back and she asked, "what's that bump on your back?".  She showed me in the mirror where it was.  It was the exact spot I was trying to get Jim to scratch for me the night before.  He had noticed it the night before but didn't say anything. 

So the good thing about Kelli finding it that morning is that I already happened to have my regularly scheduled appointment with my Breast Oncologist, Dr. Green that afternoon.

Dr. Green checked me over and all looks great!  Nothing unusual except for my "bump".
She really wasn't sure what it was.  She thought maybe it was muscle bulking up that was overcompensating for the Latissimus Dorsi that was missing because of my reconstruction. 

Dr. Green walked over to the Reconstruction clinic to see if she could flag down my Plastic Surgeon.  He wasn't available but Gordon, his PA was. 

Talk about service...I didn't have to go to him to have him look at my "bump".  He came to me in Dr. Green's clinic.

Gordon's theory was different than Dr. Green's.  He thought that the muscle was slipping and it would eventually atrophy. Dr. Green thought that made sense.

They told me to watch it and if it became bothersome or bigger then they would order some imaging to be done on it.  I asked, "so no ultrasound today?".  Dr. Green told me the same thing "watch and wait".  I guess I made an unhappy face because she said, "you don't like that idea???".  I told her, "yesterday was my 2nd Survivorversary and I would like to continue to enjoy this time but with this thing on my back...I'll be wondering".  Gordon said, "let's go ahead and order an ultrasound".  Dr. Green wrote up the orders :).

There were no openings on the 8th for an ultrasound but I did get to have one on the 9th.

The preliminary findings on the ultrasound report from the Radiologist were that I have a probable seroma. 

Here's the definition of seroma - "A mass or swelling caused by the localized accumulation of serum within a tissue or organ". 

My understanding is that it is fluid build up.  Kind of like a blister.  The "bump" is just above, on and under the incision on my back from my reconstruction donor site.

Gordon called me Friday afternoon to give me the preliminary report.  He said it was big enough to warrant draining it.  Most times they reabsorb into your body.

Originally I had planned to have it drained the week after Christmas when my Plastic Surgeon would be back from vacation.

Over the weekend the seroma became bigger and now uncomfortable.  Not really painful, then again maybe a little painful.  There is a lot of pressure.  What I don't know is if it only swells out towards the skin or if it swells the other direction also.  That may be the reason for the pain plus the skin is stretching.

My Plastic Surgeon's clinic was able to work me into the schedule tomorrow afternoon.  Gordon told me it's an in office procedure.  It's kind of like a fine needle biopsy on your breast.  They will also take a sample of the fluid to make sure there is no infection or anything else going on. 

The "bump" on my back honestly looks like a little boob.  My new saying is "you can cut the breasts off of me but they'll grow back somewhere else". 

Laughter is good medicine!

Please pray for my procedure tomorrow afternoon and pray that it truly is nothing more than a seroma. 

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers!!!

Love and Blessings From the Top of My Heart,


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2nd Survivorversary!!!

God has blessed me with another Survivorversary!  I pray that I have many more to celebrate!!!

What have I done to celebrate today?  I've done laundry, swept the floor, wrapped some Christmas presents, cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, picked kids up, dropped kids off. Isn't that special?  YES!!!!  You know why - what would normally seem like an ordinary day to most -- to me it shows me that I'm still here.  And ordinary days are great!!! 

I think back to 2 years ago.  The day that I heard, "you have cancer in your breast".  There was no laundry done that day, no sweeping, no present wrapping, no kitchen cleaning, no vacuuming, no picking kids up, no dropping kids off. 

It was a day that would forever change me.  A day of Jim holding me up.  A day of friends crying with me, praying for me.  An evening of telling Jakob, Kelli and Joey that their mommy had cancer.  An evening of Jim calling Papa and Omi and Mom and Dad to tell them that their little girl had cancer (a task I couldn't do myself).  An evening filled with fellowship with friends at our church's Ladies' Christmas Dinner.

So many thoughts ran through our heads that day and many more ahead.  Questions, information, change of plans (our plans).  But most importantly the Blessing - we looked up to Jesus to help us, guide us, comfort us. 

As I'm writing this I'm thinking - how fitting actually...we looked to Christ in our time of need and it was during the Christmas season.  We became Christ-centred again during the time of His beautiful birthday celebration.  Christmas is a time to celebrate the Perfect Gift - every day is a gift!!!

So while you are busy during this special time of year -- take the time to remember what Christmas truly means...the birth and celebration of Jesus. 

When ordinary and normal seems boring to you -- instead be thankful that you have been blessed with the tasks you are given.

Enjoy time with your loved ones and I wish you all a very Happy and Merry Christmas!!!

Joyful today on my 2nd Survivorversary!!

Love and Blessings from the Top of My Heart,


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sorry for the delay. Moni's surgery went great! She feels well. We got home late this afternoon. Thanks for your continued prayers. -Jim

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happenings and surgery...

Wow!  I can't believe it's already October.  And I can't believe that it's been since June that I've posted an update!! 

Here are a few of our highlights from the summer.

First off I went to Canada to "surprise" Papa, Omi and the rest of my family.  Only Jason (my bro) and Amanda (sister-in-law) knew that I was coming and were kind enough to pick me up from the airport.  A very generous friend of mine gave me a buddy pass so I could fly home.  I ended up staying up there for 10 days.  It was so nice to spend time with family. 
Guelph, Canada

San Antonio
Next vacation was a few days in San Antonio to attend our great-niece's 1st birthday party.  We spent time with family there, our niece and her fiancee as well as my cousin from Michigan.  We also went to Sea World.  We had a blast!!!  We ran into some friends of ours from Kingwood at Sea World.

After that we had visitors from Canada.  My brother, Jason and my sister-in-law, Amanda and our 2 nieces came to visit for a week.  Quality family time!!!
The kids with their Canadian cousins

Celebrating our 40th Birthdays
Off to Vegas next for Jim and I.  We met up with some of our dear friends from Austin.  Jim and I were celebrating our 40th birthdays along with a few of the others.  Vegas is always fun!!!

Our next vacation was the last week and a half of the summer.  We first went to Pensacola Beach, Florida then to Treasure Island, Florida.  It was amazing!  We went in-shore fishing (in Tampa Bay), hung out at the beach, the pool, collected treasures (seashells), rented a boat, watched dolphins swim right by the condo we stayed in.  All this thanks to some of our close friends.  It was definitely paradise - I would move down there for sure!!!

Kids are back into the routine of school.  Jakob is a Freshman in high school now, Kelli is in 7th grade and Joey is in 5th grade.  Jakob tried out for the High School golf team and made it!!  Kelli really enjoyed swim team this summer and got "high point" winner for her age group at All-Stars!  Joey loves going to the ponds just down the road from our house to fish!! 

Jim is busy at work.  He just returned from a short trip to Kuwait.  This was his 3rd trip to Kuwait this year.

Me - well I'm feeling great!!!  I have started running again.  I only run about 3-4 miles, I'm running for me. 

This past weekend we participated in Houston's Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure.  A 5K.  There were over 35,000 registered participants.  This was my 3rd time participating, 2nd time as a Survivor!!!  I had lots of friends and family on my team - Moni's Bosom Buddies this year.

Tomorrow, I have a day filled with appointments at MD Anderson.  Pre-op appointments.  I'm having surgery on Wednesday.  This is my reconstruction surgery on my non-cancer side.  It should be my final surgery.  Dr. Skoracki will be removing my tissue expander (a.k.a. the rock).  It's called an exchange surgery because the tissue expander is exchanged for an implant.

This time I won't even be spending the night in the hospital.  I will most likely have 2 drains.  Jim will be taking a couple of days off to take care of me and the kids.  I most likely won't be able to drive for about 2 weeks.  Should be the easiest surgery to date.
 I will have Jim update the blog on Wednesday as soon as he gets word that I am out of surgery. 

Thank you once again for your prayers. Please pray for the Dr.'s and medical staff caring for me before, during and after surgery.  Also for Jim and the kids as they wait for me to get out of surgery. 

I would like to share with you an article that was in last week's local newspaper

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,


And if you'd like to sponsor me in the Race for the Cure (it's not too late)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't Know Why...

I don't know why "bad" things happen but I do know that God uses those "bad" things to bring people to Him, closer to Him.  

This past year and 3/4's has been filled with so much good.  The fact that I'm healed of cancer is amazing in itself.  The most amazing thing though is the outlook on life I have been given.  Moni is not in control - GOD is!!!  What comfort and joy that brings.  I have eternal life because of Jesus!!!  Can I get an AMEN?!!?!!!

I have friends and family that are hurting right now.  Newly diagnosed with cancer, endless surgeries and trials after cancer, dealing with the loss of child, dealing with the loss of a spouse, dealing with the loss of a friend, dealing with physical hurt, dealing with emotional hurt, dealing with loneliness...  Things that are just out of our control.  Bring your hurts to God.  HE is in control!

Pray for those loved ones around you that are hurting.  Prayer does bring comfort!

(an update on what's going on in our family will be coming soon)

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,


Monday, June 20, 2011

Still attached...

Good morning!

Hope everyone is doing well.

Summer is being enjoyed by all in this home.  Jakob, Kelli and Joey are still at it with swim team.  Practices are early in the morning so we still haven't gotten to sleep in but that's okay.  That'll come soon enough.  The boys have also been enjoying fishing at a local pond (about the only place around that there still is water).  We are in a major drought, please pray for us to get some rain.

Jakob has been playing golf, sort of.  He actually hurt his back a couple of weeks ago so we took him to a chiropractor to have him checked out.  It turns out his hips were tilted.  We got him pretty much straightened out and as I type he is playing in his 2nd golf tournament of the summer.  Jakob is planning on trying out for the high school team in August.

Jim has been busy at work and taking over all the "mom" stuff.  Such as taxiing kids around, helping Jakob with golf and running to the grocery store and other errands.

I'm so happy with the way the kids are really stepping up and helping out around the house.  They are even doing their own laundry and helping me with mine.

We've also had some great friends bring in meals for us which has been such an incredible blessing!!!  Thank you!!!

So I'm healing well.  I still have 2 drains in.  One in my left breast (reconstructed side) and one in the scar on the left back where the muscle was removed.  It's uncomfortable to be attached to these drains but definitely not unbearable.

Last Tuesday when I saw Dr. Skoracki he decided I was too close to the minimum number of cc's to have my drains removed.  I have to be less than 30 cc's per day for 48 consecutive hours.  I'm less than 30 cc's now and have my weekly appointment to see him tomorrow.  I'll have been attached to these drains for 1 day shy of 4 weeks and I can honestly say I'm not going to miss them!!!

Other than going to MD Anderson for my weekly appointments I haven't been out much.  A couple of Dr.'s appointments for the kids and a couple of small trips to the grocery store and a few minutes at Saturday's swim meet.  That's it.  I'm ready to go out to a restaurant for lunch or dinner :)!

Unfortunately on one of my trips to the grocery store I did something silly.  Normally when I have gone to the store one of the kids is with me to help me.  This time I dropped Jakob off to a friend's on the way home.  I only had a few things in the back of my car (SUV), light bags.  I opened up the back to carry the bags into the house then I went back outside to close the back.  Forgetting that I'm not supposed to lift anything heavy.  I reached up, pulled down on the back to close it and I felt something pop and was in pain.  I didn't know what happened.

It looked to me like maybe my tissue expander had slipped out of place.  I asked Jim to look when he got home and he thought that it appeared normal.  This happened on Wednesday.  Then on Saturday he told me now that he was looking at me again it looked like the tissue expander may have moved.

I've googled, looked all over the internet and can't really find much on a breast tissue expander shifting.  I'm not too worried about it but I would like to ask for your prayers.  Please pray that it is not a big deal, that it is an easy fix.

Like I said I've got an appointment with Dr. Skoracki tomorrow to have my drains removed and to have my tissue expander expanded.  I'll let you know what he says about the expander moving.  I won't be pulling like that again for a while.  I'm being a good girl now and taking things slow.  Which is hard when you feel so good!!

Also if you have the time please pray for Jakob and his golf tournament today.  For his nerves and that his back doesn't bother him.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our family.  You really have no idea how much you all mean to us!!

God Bless you all and please remember to find your JOY every day!!!

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,


Friday, June 10, 2011

Recovery and Birthday...

Sorry for the delay in the update.  It's not like I haven't had plenty of time to update, I've been taking it easy...I just haven't written.

Surgery went really well.  I had the mastectomy on the right breast with a tissue expander placed.  Left side - the tissue expander was removed, a permanent implant placed and the latissimus dorsi flap was taken from the back and transplanted onto my left breast.  So I have 3 (actually 4, another small incision under my left arm) and all 3 are healing very well.  The incision across my back is about 12 inches long.  I would have to say that most of my pain has been from my back.  But the pain is tolerable and when it becomes too much I don't hesitate to take my pain pills.  

I also had 6 drains placed.  Two for each breast and two for my back.  A week after surgery a drain from each breast was removed and this week the last drain from my right breast was removed along with a drain from my back.  So 2 remain.

I stayed in the hospital from surgery, Wednesday May 25th until Sunday May 29th.  Let me tell you if I were a queen I doubt I would have been treated any better than I was.  I didn't want to leave the hospital but decided I probably should get back home with my family.  The doctors, nurses, nurse's aides were so kind and caring.  The food was incredible!!  And the bed -- I want one!!!  It was so peaceful to be in the hospital at MD Anderson!!

So yesterday I turned 40!!  I am so blessed to be alive and well!  It is truly a miracle and gift from God that I'm here!  The celebration for my birthday was put on hold due to the fact that I still have the 2 drains - it's best that I stay out of public places for risk of infection.  I had been hopeful that I wouldn't have any drains on my birthday and had mentioned that to Gordon (PA) and Dr. Skoracki on Tuesday.  Gordon said, "well we'd rather you have drains in on your 40th birthday than an infection".  True!!!  I also thought, "how special it truly is to have these drains in on my birthday, how many people can say they had drains in on their 40th birthday?".  I mentioned this to Papa and he said (imagine this being said in an Austrian accent), "well you are a plumber's daughter you know all about drains".  It really made me laugh!!!

The great thing about all of it -- it just means I get to celebrate my birthday even more than just one day!!!  So as soon as these drains come out -- I'll be ready for birthday lunches and dinners ;).  Really throughout this journey I have learned to celebrate each day, each moment!!!  

Life is precious, it is a gift that I am given everyday!!!

Jim and the kids have been great in helping out around the house.  It was wonderful to have Lauren (our niece) and her sweet baby girl here to help take care of the kids and housekeeping while I was in the hospital.  And having Mom (Jim's Mom but I claim her as my Mom) here helping out too and taking care of me.  We've had people bringing in meals - everyone is so kind and giving.  Thank you for all the cards, messages, emails, phone calls and especially your prayers!  

I am so humbled and overwhelmed with the love I have received!!!

Go find your JOY!!!

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another surgery down....

Sorry for the delay in sending out this update.

Moni is out of recovery and was just moved into her room on the 11th floor of the hospital main building (room 11016.)  Everything went very smooth and Moni is doing great.

We checked into MD Anderson this morning at 5:15 AM and Moni went into the operating room and started surgery at about 8:20 AM.  Dr. Hunt finished the mastectomy at 10:20 AM and Dr. Skoracki finished the expander and reconstruction procedure at 3:15 PM.

Thank you for the continued prayers and support!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Surgery time...

Good evening!

Just a brief update.  The time for me to report to the hospital tomorrow morning is 5:15.  Expected surgery start time is 7:30.

I had a great day today.  All appointments went well and we are all on the same page as to what is going to happen tomorrow.

Here are a few examples of what I mean by great day.  The lady (Alma) doing my EKG today prayed for me.  The lady (Ruth) that drew my blood reminded me that I'm in the Head Physician's hands.  I enjoyed my time talking with the lady (June) working on the 3D imaging research study.  I had great conversations with Dr. Skoracki, Gordon and Dr. Hunt and with the nurse in Anesthesia.  I also had some wonderful conversations with other patients and their caregivers in the waiting room.  I know I am in the BEST care!!!

So I'm off to do the dishes and make my kiddos sandwiches for tomorrow's lunch.  Then quickly packing a bag for the hospital.  And then off to bed to get a good night's rest!!

Again thank you for praying for me and my surgery!!!  One other request, please keep my dad (Papa) in your prayers, he is suffering with severe pain from Sciatica.  Thanks!

Jim will update tomorrow once I'm out of surgery.  Please check or  Hopefully he'll update both sites but in case he doesn't update one you can go to the other.

Goodnight to all of my friends and family!!!

Love and Blessings from the top of my Heart,


Monday, May 23, 2011

2 days till a big surgery...

Good Morning Army of Prayer Warriors!!

Well the time is here!  This Wednesday I will be having my big surgery.  Or I guess surgeries.

Tomorrow I'll be spending the day (literally all day) at MD Anderson for all my pre-op appointments.  Blood work, EKG, chest x-ray, meet with Breast Surgeon, meet with Plastic Surgeon, meet with Anesthesia and meet with Research people.  I've been asked to participate in another study.  There is a new 3D technology that MD Anderson is trying out for patients going through with breast reconstruction.  Currently 2D imaging is being used.  I find these studies so interesting!!!

Here is the synopsis of what the surgery entails on Wednesday.  Dr. Kelly Hunt, my Breast Surgeon will be doing a mastectomy on my right breast.  My right breast does not have cancer but because I have the BRCA1 genetic mutation I am at a high risk for developing another breast cancer, so therefore we are being proactive and removing the healthy breast.  Dr. Roman Skoracki, my Plastic Surgeon will then place a tissue expander in the right breast.  On my left side he will remove the tissue expander and place a permanent implant.  Dr. Skoracki will also be taking the Latissimus Dorsi (LD) muscle from the back and place the flap on the front.

The total (estimated) surgery time will be 4-6 hours.  I don't have a specific time for my surgery start time yet.  I won't find out until tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.  I will be in the hospital for 3-4 days.  With about a 6 week recovery time.

I am very excited for this next step in this journey!

Jim is able to take about a week off to be with me.  Our niece is coming for a few days to help out with the kids and housekeeping.  My Mom (okay Jim's Mom too) is also coming to help out.  The kids are done with school on June 1st.  Thankfully Jakob, Kelli and Joey are big enough that they will be a big help to me this summer.

I was sad last week when I realized that our summer vacation plans had to be cancelled due to my recovery from surgery.  We were going to go home to Ontario for the month of July but because I will have drains from my surgery and will be going through the tissue expansion process my Surgeon has advised that I not go.

I ask that you please keep my Surgeons and the medical team in your prayers.  God has blessed these people with an amazing talent - His hands are on me, He is the Great Physician.  Please pray for Jakob, Kelli and Joey that they will not be anxious (I know they are in wonderful hands at school).  Pray for Jim as he has the daunting task of waiting in the hospital while I'm in surgery.  Pray for my parents, I can't imagine how hard it is to wait while my child is in surgery.  And please pray for me while I'm in surgery and that I have a smooth recovery.

Jim will post when I'm out of surgery.

You all are so wonderful and faithful!  I am so thankful for you!  Jesus loves you and so do I!!!

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,


Thursday, April 21, 2011


About 3 weeks ago I was overcome with the Joy that my cancer journey has brought me.  I just cried out, "Thank you Jesus for giving me cancer!"  I know He did not give me cancer.  What I meant was, "Thank you Jesus for all the blessings I have received and seen throughout this journey!"

I was thinking back how a year ago I could hardly wait for it to be bedtime.  I would wait till 8 pm.  How hard it was for me to get up in the mornings and get our kiddos ready for school.  I just wanted to crawl back into bed once they were off at school.  But now I feel amazing!!!  I have so much energy!  Life is great!!!

I met with Dr. Green (Breast Oncologist) at the beginning of this month.  Everything looked great.  She told me that my appointments would be boring from here on out, which she said was a really good thing.  I will not complain about boring appointments.  My appointments will be every 4 months with Dr. Green.

I also met with Dr. Rapini (Dermatologist).  I had been putting off my annual skin check.  Skin was clear!  I have been Melanoma free for 9 years now!!!  Hallelujah!!!

I have upcoming appointments on May 2nd and 3rd.  On the 2nd I  will have chest x-ray, chest ultrasound and mammogram.  Then on the 3rd I meet with Dr. Perkins (Radiation Oncologist) for follow-up.  My last appointment with Dr. Perkins was in October.

On May 25th I will be having my right breast mastectomy and reconstruction on my left breast.  My pre-op appointment with Dr. Hunt (Breast Surgeon) and Anesthesia is on May 23rd.  Also blood work and EKG on the same day.  And on May 24th I meet with Dr. Skoracki (Plastic Surgeon) for my pre-op, this is where he will draw on me to prep me for surgery the next day.

I healed incredibly quickly from my oophorectomy.  Dr. Lu (Gynecologic Oncologist) will see me once a year.  I have been having some hot flashes but they really aren't as bad as I had expected.  Although, sometimes I do turn the air conditioning on high ;) in the house or in the car.

Kids are doing great!!!  Last day of school is June 2nd, we are excited for summer time!  Jim is doing well too.  He just rode in the MS 150, a bicycle ride from Houston to Austin, about 150 miles.

Everyone is happy and healthy in our home!

I pray that you all take time to reflect on your blessings.  Blessings come in all shapes and sizes.  Look for the good in everything.

Jesus died on the cross for our salvation.  He suffered.  He rose again!!!  And in Him we can always find Joy!!!

Happy Easter!!

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,

Most recent photo - my hair has grown so much

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pathology results...

Good day!!!

I received a call from Dr. Slaughter yesterday evening with the pathology results from last week's surgery.

The pathology report showed my ovaries and fallopian tubes as normal and no cancer.  Praise Jesus!!

We weren't expecting to find any cancer, as this was a surgery to prevent me from getting ovarian cancer.  But I think this is an amazing Miracle and wanted to share the Awesome news with you!!!

We are being cared for by our friends and family.  Meals have been brought in for us, laundry is getting done, Jakob, Kelli and Joey are getting rides to and from school, and Jim and the kids are taking on the cleaning.

Taking it easy is a hard thing to do when you feel so great!!  I was called by Lena, one of my discharge nurses on Monday to make sure I was resting.  It's hard but I am!!

Thank you for your faithful prayers!!!

The Great Physician is clearly evident in this journey!

Have a Joyful day!!!

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,


Friday, February 18, 2011

Home Sweet Home...

Hello to my Army of Prayer Warriors!!

Well I'm home.  We got home yesterday afternoon.  I was extremely happy to get home because I missed the kiddos.  I have to tell you my hospital stay was just like staying in a hotel.  The nurses and their assistants were so sweet and caring!!!

So my surgery went well.  I have 4 small incisions in my abdomen.  Dr. Lu said she didn't see anything unusual and that she will receive the pathology report sometime next week.

We had to be at MD Anderson at 5:15 Wednesday morning.  We arrived on "Moni time" at 5:30 am, we got checked in and a whole herd of us headed to the pre-operative "holding" area.  There I was asked some questions by several nurses and assistants.  Chaplain Chan came and prayed with Jim and I for the surgery and all those involved in my care.

The doctors that were in the operating room with Dr. Lu were Dr. Stone and Dr. Webb.  And oh yes Dr. Arunkumar, the Anesthesiologist.  All amazing women!!

It was really cool - I was actually still wide awake on the way down to the operating room.  I bumped into Gordon, my Plastic Surgeon's PA.  The other cool thing, since I was still awake, I got to see the operating room.  I usually am halfway asleep by the time we hit the operating room.  There were the 4 doctors, a nurse or 2 and a few assistants in there.  I actually crawled onto the operating table myself.  The table was covered with this royal blue "egg crate" type material.   The doctors were strapping something onto my legs and the Anesthesiologist was telling me she was going to strap my arm down...and that's all I remember.

I woke up with a sweet nurse named Annalee taking care of me.  I was on oxygen and feeling no pain, yet.  The surgery started between 7 and 7:30 and I remember asking what time it was when I woke up - they said 8:59.  I think Jim was able to come and see me around 10, by that time Dr. Lu had already gone out into the waiting room to let him know that the surgery went well.  (It must be so nerve racking to have to wait through your spouse's surgery.)

I did start feeling some pain and was given some pain meds directly into my IV a couple of times.  We waited in the post-op area (which was also the pre-op area for me) for a room to become available on the Gynecology floor.

Because of all the IV fluids I was being given, I could wait no longer.  It was time for me to get up and use the restroom.  Of course a nurse had to go with me and hold my arm since I had just been under general anesthesia.  The nurse was so proud of me!!  It was just across the hall from my bed.

At one o'clock I was taken to my room.  And let me tell you, it was a nice room!  I met another sweet nurse, Jincy.  A young woman with a big heart for her patients.

Jincy called me a super star patient.  When she found out I had already used the restroom downstairs in the post-op area, she was so impressed!!!  She kept calling me "Super Star".

I had 3 nurses in all while I was in my room.  Jincy, Eva and Mary.  And the nursing assistants were Dora, Romika and Rachel.  All these women love what they do for a living, you could just tell.

my first meal after my surgery
Jim stayed with me for most of the day - he did go run an errand at one point and get himself some dinner.  While he was gone Dr. Webb came in to see me.  I also ordered dinner.  You should see the menu.  I ate crab stuffed shrimp in a lobster cream sauce with grilled veggies, mashed sweet potatoes and NY cheesecake.  I hadn't eaten in over 24 hours at that point.  It was so yummy!!!

The kids were being well cared for by their Aunt and a great friend of ours but it was time for Jim to go home, get them and get to bed.  And another great friend took care of our dogs.  Feeding them and even giving our diabetic dog his insulin injection.

Jakob, Kelli and Joey's wonderful teachers and counselors had been keeping track of my Caringbridge journal and had told them when I was out of surgery and that the surgery went well.  The caring people that are in our lives are evident in all aspects of our life.  Thank you to those teachers and counselors (you know who you are - you are very special to us).

Jim did a great job getting Jakob, Kelli and Joey up for school and to school the next morning.

Meanwhile, at the hospital - I slept well.  One of the nurses or assistants would come in about every 4 hours to check my vitals or give me pain meds.  They were being as quiet as they could be, trying to not wake me up.  Dr. Webb came in to check on me at 5:30 in the morning.  I went back to sleep for about an hour then I was hungry again.  This time I ordered an omelet with veggies and cheese, breakfast potatoes, fresh berries and coffee.  Before my food came, Dr. Webb, Dr. Stone, a couple of interns and a Pharmacist and Pharmacist Assistant came in to visit with me, they checked out my incisions, asked about my pain and we went over the pain medication and instructions for when I get home.

Time for my meal.  I'm telling you this is no ordinary hospital.  It is a very special place!!

Dr. Lu came by later in the morning and again gave me the at home instructions and asked if I had any questions.

I also had a couple of discharge nurses come in - they said no cleaning, cooking, stairs or laundry for 2-3 weeks.  I seriously thought they were joking.  They weren't - they made me promise that I would rest.  So once again our family must rely on the generosity of our dear friends.

Jim's lunch
my lunch
Jim came back after taking the kids to school.  We sat and talked for a while.  I got dressed.  Jim went down to the pharmacy to pick up the medication.  Then we decided to eat lunch while we were waiting for me to be released.  I ordered shrimp again, grilled this time and Jim ordered an Asian stir-fry. I don't know why I was so hungry while in the hospital.

I was discharged and taken down to the front entrance while Jim went to get the car.  Thank goodness we don't live far from MD Anderson - it took us about 45 minutes to get home.

I couldn't wait to see the kids when they got home from school.  I know it had only been about a day and a half but it seemed longer.

We had a yummy dinner brought to us by another wonderful friend.

I was able to shower this morning and removed my bandages from my incisions.  Everything looks great.

I went for a walk around the block today.  A very slow walk.  It was such a beautiful day.  The sun was shining and it was probably about 75 degrees.

I am thankful for this surgery.  By having my fallopian tubes and ovaries removed my risk of developing ovarian cancer is reduced by 90%.  Due to the BRCA-1 genetic mutation I had an extremely high chance of developing ovarian cancer.  MD Anderson is a cancer research hospital, I signed a consent to donate my ovaries for research.  The medical advances that are made in cancer treatment is incredible due this miraculous place.  Jincy, the one nurse I had, told me that she has seen many miracles by working there.

I know I am one of those miracles.  I want to thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  I know Jesus is The Great Physician and that brings me Peace and Joy.  I pray the same for you!!!

Thank you from the top of my heart!!!

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,


P.S.  No menopause symptoms yet!!!!  Keep those prayers coming! :)

waiting to go home with my honey

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Surgery Update...

Moni's of surgery and in a room now. Everything went great and she'll be staying at the hospital overnight to be monitored before going home tomorrow afternoon. Thank you for all your prayers and support! Jim

Monday, February 14, 2011


Happy Valentime's Day!! That's what my kids use to say.  I still say it that way.

Today is a day that stands for  LOVE.  I LOVE you all!

Proverbs 3:3 says, "Let LOVE and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your HEART. "

LOVE is not just a word that means I like you very much.  LOVE is a verb, an action.  You have given me so much LOVE throughout my journey.  You have prayed, you have sent notes, emails, messages, meals, taken my kids, changed my bandages, picked me up.  You have done so many "things" for me.  That is LOVE!!!  Thank you!!

It's time for my next surgery.  I will be having an Oophorectomy (having my ovaries and tubes removed) on Wednesday, February 16th.  The procedure is considered major surgery, mostly because I will be under general anesthesia.  My Gynecological Oncologist, Dr. Lu is planning on going in laparoscopically to remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes.

I don't have a specific time for the surgery yet, I only know that it's taking place on Wednesday.  Tomorrow I have all my pre-op appointments and will find out late tomorrow afternoon the time of the surgery.  I do know that I will spend Wednesday night in the hospital.

Having an Oophorectomy will put me into immediate menopause.  We have all heard the symptoms of menopause and some of you have already experienced those moments.  Watch out for Moni!!! ;)

So once again I ask for your LOVE!  Please pray for Dr. Lu and her medical team that will be working on me.  Please pray for my kiddos - they are concerned about me having surgery.  Pray for Jim, he will be waiting  for me while I have surgery.  Pray for me.  Please pray that I can handle the menopause symptoms with grace.

Thank you for your LOVE!

Show someone who's not expecting it some LOVE.

LOVE and Blessings from the top of my HEART,


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year...

Happy New Year to y'all!!!

We had a great Christmas break!  It was very quiet and we enjoyed every moment of it.  This week has also been very special as my Uncle from Canada and Aunt and Uncle from California came to visit us for a couple of days - we had such a wonderful time together!!

2011 has started off much differently than 2010 did.  But don't all new years start off differently?  I'm thankful for 2010 - I was cured of breast cancer.  The journey began at the end of 2009 and will continue on for the rest of my life.  I have been blessed to have the Lord carrying me through it all.

Jim and I just finished the 2011 Texas Half Marathon
New Year's Eve was a very early one for us.  We had to get to bed because I had Jim and I signed up for a Half Marathon on New Year's Day.  January 1, 2011 Jim and I completed our first half marathon together - he beat me by a second, but like a good wife I was following my husband's lead(haha!).  Jim would rather I not disclose our official time but I'd like to - so here it goes 3:21:57 and 3:21:58.  It was really important to me to start the new year off like this.  We walked but we did it!  Jim probably could have run it in half the time but chose to stay by my side.  Thanks Jimmy!!!

Kelli and her cast
Later on that day our sweet children (who didn't take our advice) went jumping on a friend's trampoline.  It was dark and there were several kiddos on the trampoline playing nicely and then our sweet little girl started crying because she hurt her ankle.  It was swollen like a balloon.  We iced it immediately.  Wrapped an Ace bandage around it and had her use crutches.  Kelli's ankle eventually started bruising - we were pretty convinced it was a severe sprain.  I ended up taking her to the orthopedist yesterday and as it turns out she has a crack in her growth plate.  Just a small one.  The Dr. told me not to freak out, that it is quite common and she'll heal fine.  Kelli gets to wear a removable walking cast for 4-6 weeks and will stay on the crutches until she can comfortably go without them.  She said, "no more trampolines".

A few days before 2010 ended I noticed some soreness in my left hand and a little bit of swelling.  I've been continuing to do my Manual Lymph Drainage along with the wrapping of my arm and wearing my compression sleeve when needed.  The pain is still there and has travelled up my arm some.  But I'm only noticing slight swelling in the top of my hand and in my fingers. I've been talking to the nurse at my Oncologist's office and they are thinking that it may be Lymphedema.  I will be starting physical therapy with the Lymphedema Therapist next Wednesday.

I'm a little frustrated over the possibility of having Lymphedema but I have to keep reminding myself that it is NOT CANCER.

This new year is truly a blessing.  We are able to laugh and enjoy the life we have been given.  I do have several friends and family that are going through some tough things at this time.  Whether it be an illness, loneliness, financial struggles, etc.  Please remember that praying and leaning on God helps us get through those tougher times.

Speaking of prayer, would you please pray for Kelli's growth plate to heal properly and please pray that this Lymphedema leave my body.

Our blessings!
I will pray that this year will bring you health and Joy!!!

God Bless you!!!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,