Sunday, June 11, 2017

Foggy like an October Morning

I am finally learning to accept it: my new normal. I had always heard about people "finding" their "new normal" after cancer treatment, but I always figured life would just go back to being exactly how it was before. But it never does, as you come out of it a different person than you were going into it. I tend to get hung up on the few frustrating things, instead of focusing on all the good things (of which there are MANY, thankfully).

For me, the most frustrating thing is the brain fog! Before I started cancer treatment, I did have some brain fog from my autoimmune issues, but nothing like it is now. I had been doing well, until I started Tamoxifen again a few weeks ago (thankfully I am not crazy depressed this time - praise the Lord!). I feel like my body is running around doing things, going through the motions, yet my brain is stuck in molasses. Good days (no brain fog) feel like my thoughts are running through water, they just move in and out and around with little resistance, and are pretty easy to control. Bad days (very foggy) make me feel like I have Jello for a brain - thoughts come in and get stuck. Very stuck. And when I can manage to think through things, they leave a sticky trail like a slug...which is not only gross, but gunks up my brain more.

Ok that was kinda random...but anyways! This graphic pretty much sums it up:


It frustrates me because it slows me down sometimes, and anyone who knows me knows that I DESPISE moving slow, going slow, or anything slow in general. I like speed and efficiency (I'm a typical goat Capricorn, ain't I? lol). Thankfully all my friends and family say they don't notice it (or they are just being REALLY nice), which is AWESOME; but I still feel it, and it is frustrating to me, as it slows me down. I can't explain things as well as I would like to. I am not as talkative as I used to be (which may be a good thing! lol). I get overwhelmed and overstimulated VERY easily. Etc etc...

Outside of my frustrations with  myself at work, there is one thing that drives me nuts about the brain fog more than any other: my social skills. I have a LOT more social anxieties than I used to (which I didn't really have any previously). Going to the grocery store gives me great anxiety - for no good reason. As with many of my anxieties, I cannot pinpoint why these things give me anxiety, I just know they do. I manage to work through them, and they are getting easier with time (and special thanks to Austin for helping me navigate the scary grocery store, and loading up the items onto the conveyor belt for me...that is the scariest part! #facepalm).

The other aspect of my "social skills" that drives me nuts is my communication skills...this was never something I was great at anyways lol! I've always been terrible about returning phone calls (as in, I rarely return them), but I used to be pretty good about returning texts, emails, FB messages, etc. Nowadays, I am not even good about that! I often compose or reply to a message in my head, but never actually send it. Some days, I am too tired, and I will try to think of a response, and I just can't form the words; and my perfectionist self doesn't want to just send a hurried response. Other days, I simply forget. While I used to be able to just quickly reply, now days all my responses are typically pretty well thought out. Which is probably a good thing, but it slows me down.

Anyways, I just want you all to know that you are often in my thoughts, and always in my prayers. And thanks for always being supportive and understanding...I have the best family, friends, and coworkers a girl could have!!!  <3










Saturday, June 3, 2017

This One's for You, Cara

It is with a heavy, heavy heart I wrote this post. I've been mentally writing blogs in my head over the past few months, but haven't had the actual drive to sit down and write one. I honestly don't know if I can find the words to say, however this one needs to be written.

My beautiful friend Cara (this pic is of us at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer breakfast last August) finished kicking cancer's ass last year. She did not let several rounds of intense chemo, followed by a mastectomy, and then a clinical trial (maybe radiation, etc, I cannot remember) slow her down - this chick has been running marathons since then! Before I even met her I had a bond with her, as she had the Natalie healing chair for her mastectomy recovery (I love all those women, it's a special bond I will never be able to describe...the Healing Chair is a sisterhood unlike any other, even just the regular breast cancer sisterhood...it's amazing). Cara is an amazing woman, friend, wife, and mother. Even as she was doing treatment, she sent me things like cards made by her first grade class (which I still have, and are FREAKING adorable). I pulled those cards out last night and looked through them, after I heard the news. For all those who are not Cara, here are my thoughts and feelings, and how you can help (prayer and encouragement please, and etc); and Cara...these are my words to you, and please excuse the profanity.

Cara, I can't even imagine having heard this news, and it physically pains my heart to think about it. You go in for some simple stomach aches, and come out with the news that you have tumors on your liver and both lungs now?! Stage 4 metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.

Fuck you, cancer. Fuck you.

I am angry and sad and scared for you, and your family. And, of course, for myself. This is what all of us survivors fear, yet try not to live in fear of. You have inspired me so much, more than you will ever know. You and your husband are such incredible and positive people, and you take such good care of yourselves; how the fuck did this happen?! HOW?! I won't even begin to ask why. I have changed my own diet and lifestyle (more whole foods, gluten free and dairy free, almost completely given up alcohol [as it can increase my risk of recurrence 90% since my tumor was estrogen-positive], exercising more, stressing less, etc), but you were like PERFECT about all that (as far as I know). I feel guilty for complaining about "having to" make those changes, and about having to take tamoxifen. A little brain fog is nothing compared to that triple-negative bullshit you've had to deal with. I am a huge believer in spiritual warfare, and I am so thankful for yours and Josh's examples of incredibly strong faith. I cannot thank you both enough for you guys just being who you are. I am just pissed off that you have to deal with this; yet I know if anyone can fight this shit, it will be you. I know God "gives" (I don't believe he GIVES them to us, Satan does, but I know God will use this journey for good) his toughest battles to his toughest warriors, and you are the toughest warrior I have ever met (besides my grandma, who has kicked stage-4 ovarian cancer's ass twice...thus, I know you can do it too...as she is still alive and kicking 10 years later). Ok sorry that was so rambly, but I wanted you and the world to know how fucked up cancer is, and how we need a cure for all types of cancer.

Fuck you, cancer. You've messed with the wrong woman twice now - she will KICK YOUR ASS AGAIN.

Here is info on how to help...I will be ordering a shirt, please let me know if you want one as well!!!!! And please please PLEASE keep them in your thoughts and prayers <3




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Much More Than Conquerors

Ahhh, verse mapping!!!  I love it...Breaking down scripture is so refreshing and satisfying!  It's one of my favorite activities that helps me better understand scripture, and grow closer to God.

Romans 8:31-39 was my reading for today.  There is SOOOO much to unpack in this passage, but what really caught my attention this morning was verse 37:

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (NIV) 

At first, I just read through it like "OK cool, God loves us and we conquer stuff through him and his love ok yup yeah cool."  Then something told me to go back, and dig deeper...

I tend to think in short bursts (what I call "bullet-point style" lol); this is also how I do my verse mapping.  So if you can follow me, here we go :)

  • "All these things" - In the passage, this is relating to the previous verses in the chapter, regarding condemnation, trouble, hardship, and persecution.  In the bigger picture relating to daily life, it relates to anything and everything in life (including hardships and troubles). 
  • "We are" - Not "we might be," but WE ARE (and YOU ARE!).  No question about it!  
  • Conquerors: 
    • A conqueror is a person who conquers (I know, that's a tough one to grasp!).  
    • Conquer means to: 
      1. Overcome and take control of (a place or people) by use of military force 
      2. Successfully overcome (a problem or weakness)
      3. Climb (a mountain) successfully 
    • This can be interpreted to mean that through him (God) and his love, we can conquer and overcome anything and everything.  We can conquer any problems.  We can successfully overcome any addictions, struggles, weaknesses, health issues, financial issues, anything can be overcome with God's love!!!  
  • Now, what's even more awesome is that it doesn't stop there.  No, the Bible tells us "we are more than conquerors."  Not only can we overcome our problems and issues, but we are so much more than that!  We will not only survive through our problems, but we will truly thrive through (and after) our problems!  
With God's love, anything is possible.  We can conquer and overcome any setback, any issue, any problem, any frustration, anything and everything!  His love is how I've overcome many problems in life, including cancer, and how I will continue to push forward in life!  

"'If you can?' said Jesus.  'Everything is possible for one who believes.'"  ~Mark 9:23 (NIV)

Never forget you're an overcomer!!!  <3  God bless :)  



Sunday, January 8, 2017

Spiritual Warfare, Book Reviews, and Anchors!!!

Whenever I tell people that the easiest part of my cancer journey has been chemotherapy and surgery, they typically look at me like I am crazy (I mean, I get that look a lot anyways, but especially when I tell them about that).  Obviously, they inquire as to why that was easier than my journey since then, and until recently I never could pinpoint it.  It took me a little while, but I finally figured it out.  

I've always known that spiritual warfare exists (at least in my opinion; here is a link about it), as the devil is always looking to get us down and take our eyes off of God.  If you've never seen the movie The War Room, take time to watch it.  Not only does it have a powerful message, it's actually good entertainment!  Anyways, up until late last summer, I never personally knew the enemy's full power (which, keep in mind, is NEVER more powerful than God).  



There was a lot of anxiety (which I've always struggled with) and depression (which was new to me).  I constantly felt overwhelmed, drained, and defeated, with feelings of worthlessness and despair that I couldn't shake.  I would read my Bible, but the words seemed hollow and untrue.  I would pray, and I felt that my words fell on deaf ears.  


Days turned into weeks, which turned into months, and my anxieties and depression grew worse.  I fought them all day every day, which was exhausting.  


His job was much easier when I going through surgery and chemo.  When you are going through that, you are very much focused on just keeping yourself alive; you don't really notice or worry about what else is going on in your life, or what is going on around you.  Plus, that stuff is terrible enough on its own that it's practically the devil incarnate (and I know many of you have gone through "Red Devil" chemo).  The enemy doesn't have to try very hard to get you down; often, you're already there.  Even though I had was fortunate enough to maintain a positive attitude throughout treatment, it wasn't always easy.  I read my Bible and prayed daily, and I know this helped me tremendously.  

When you finish all the physically grueling things, that's when his real work begins, and he works HARD to try and destroy us.  And if you're not ready for it or expecting it, it can catch you off guard.  Wayyyyy off guard.  I had confidently expected once I finished chemo and radiation, the rest would be smooth sailing.  So I threw myself back into "regular" life.  I started seeing my friends regularly, started dating, started fundraising and doing charity work, started a business, etc etc.  All of these things are wonderful, important things, but I slowly forgot everything I learned while going through my cancer journey: put God first, and everything else will fall into place.   


As my schedule got busier and busier, my spiritual life was pushed aside.  I read my Bible and prayer maybe once to twice a week, and my prayers were shallow and rushed.  After a few months, I had become so frustrated and angry and depressed I hated my life.  I was so mad that I went through all of that treatment just to come out the other side with a life that I absolutely hated, even though it was a wonderful life.  I would get more angry with myself when I would ask why couldn't I just appreciate this wonderful life I had?  I started hearing the answers very clearly: Because you don't deserve anything good, Natalie.  You're not worth it.  You have too much baggage to even consider carrying on.  Etc etc, with everything in my life: my friends, my family, my job, myself, everything.   


And these are the lies we start to believe.  The devil is so smooth and persistent that if we are not constantly on guard, his whispered repetitions become our reality.  Thankfully, God is good, and he is always fighting back for us.  


On my way home from work one night,  a few months ago, I randomly decided to stop by a bookstore on my way home (literally one of those God things as I passed the store, and turned around to go back to it).  I purchased two books that evening, and while I have not finished reading either one, they've both already changed my life.  


The first one is "Fervent" by Priscilla Shirer.  This is a book all about spiritual warfare; specifically the top strategies the enemy tries to destroy your life, and how to use scripture and prayer to fight against him.As the back book cover says: "You have an enemy.  And he's dead set on destroying all you hold dear.  He does it strategically.  He does it specifically.  He's doing it right this minute, in fact - aimed at personally drawn targets on your heart, your home, your mind, your life.  And this book, this battle plan, is your chance to fight back.  With a weapon that really works.  With prayer."  Shirer says are the top ways he tries to destroy us (and I am inclined to agree): 



  • Strategy 1: Your Passion - Getting It Back When It's Gone 
  • Strategy 2: Your Focus - Fighting the Real Enemy 
  • Strategy 3: Your Identity - Remember Who You Are 
  • Strategy 4: Your Family - Fortifying the Lives of Those You Love 
  • Strategy 5: Your Past - Ending the Reign of Guilt, Shame, and Regret 
  • Strategy 6: Your Fears - Confronting Your Worries, Claiming Your Calling 
  • Strategy 7: Your Purity - Staying Strong in Your Most Susceptible Places 
  • Strategy 8: Your Pressure - Reclaiming Peace, Rest, and Contentment 
  • Strategy 9: Your Hurts - Turning Bitterness to Forgiveness 
  • Strategy 10: Your Relationships: Uniting in a Common Cause 
Definitely all the areas in which I can feel Satan trying to sabotage me and my life.  

The second book is "Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships" by Chip Ingram.  I had just recently starting dating literally the most perfect man, but I was constantly plagued with anxiety about the relationship.  Despite his encouragement to the contrary, I just knew I wasn't good enough for him (and that I was probably bad for him), that he was too good to be true, that once the "honeymoon" phase ended it would be over, that I would screw it up somehow, etc.  So I picked this book up, and for anyone in any relationship (romantic, friendship, working, or otherwise), I recommend it.  The enemy constantly wants us at odds with everyone we have a relationship with: blaming them for our unhappiness and frustrations.  In reality, we need to realize there are two different ways of doing relationships (this is specifically tailored to romantic relationships, but can be adapted for all relationships): 



  1. The Hollywood Formula (AKA how most of us have always known to do relationships): 
    • Step 1: Find the right person. 
    • Step 2: Fall in love. 
    • Step 3: Fix your hopes and dreams on this person for your future fulfillment. 
    • Step 4: If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3. 
  2. God's Prescription for Relationships: 
    • Step 1: Become the right person. 
    • Step 2: Walk in love. 
    • Step 3: Fix your hope on God, and seek to please Him through this relationship. 
    • Step 4: If failure occurs (and it will, as we are humans), repeat steps 1,2, and 3.  

Once you work on becoming the right person (and not looking for the right person, or expecting your partner to be the perfect person), walking in love (and not just falling in love, but loving them unconditionally, and showing them grace and mercy), and fixing your hope on God and serving Him through this relationship (instead of expecting this person to fulfill all your hopes and dreams, which one person absolutely cannot do), your relationships will change DRAMATICALLY, as will your life.  

And of course, we are human and we will fail, so when you do...start again with becoming the right person.  And repeat.  And repeat again, and again.....


I LOVE books that change your life.  Now I'm back in the Bible every day, and spending daily time in prayer with Jesus, and I am back to feeling that joy and peace that God so lavishly and lovingly gives.  I know that there will be more spiritual battles I will experience in this life, but I will be reading, knowing that God will always win the war.  


And yes, I'm also back to loving my life and the people in it, my job, and Jesus :)  



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

I wanted to add this bit here too, as it is a post I wrote on New Years Eve a few days ago, but never got around to publishing :) 



2016 is winding down, and 2017 is rapidly approaching.  In lieu of traditional resolutions, I like to pick a "word of the year" for myself to focus on.  This year, it was "survive" (of course!).  The year before it was "cultivate."  2017's word: Anchor.  


As many of you know, at some point during 2016 I became obsessed with anchors.  Not just a "hey those are cool" type of obsession; an obsession in which I became so infatuated I wanted a tattoo of an anchor.  I wanted it on my left wrist (because that's the side my cancer was on); however I'm not allowed to have needlesticks on that arm (since my lymph nodes were removed).  Which is fine; I will just "anchorage" up everything else! ;)  I fell in love with the symbol after I heard the song "Eye of the Storm" by Ryan Stephenson, in which the lyrics say: 



In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
In the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn 
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm 

Jesus is the only one who, when we are lost or falling apart, can keep us together.  Our family and friends and others are great and helpful, but only Jesus alone can save us in the storms of life.  


So what is more perfect than making anchor my word of the year?!? :)  


Now my musings on why choosing the word anchor, so that 1. I can remember; and 2. enlighten and hopefully inspire you all  :D  


Wikipedia defines an anchor as: "A device, normally made of metal, used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to the wind or current."  I interpret this (via my spiritual Christianity) to be: "A device (being/entity = Jesus), normally made of metal (or made of the Holy Spirit! :) used to connect a vessel (us, humans, people) to the bed (a firm rock, or other stable place) of a body of water (life) to prevent the craft from drifting due to the wind or current (life situations/circumstances, stressors, anything that can throw us off course).  Thus, Jesus is my anchor, who keeps me grounded in Him and in His hope; keeping me from drifting away into anxiety, depression, hopelessness, etc.  


Now, don't get me wrong, I still struggle with anxiety almost daily; however it is a lot more manageable when I spend time with Jesus every day!  






Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Here's to Plans and to 2017!!!

Plans have changed again, but they are now "finalized!" Update on my current status and upcoming treatment:

  • I can get my port pulled whenever now, YAYAY!!! 😃😃😃😃😃
  • Docs have decided to remove my ovaries, instead of having me take esteogen blocking pills or injections for medically-induced menopause. I will also take a daily medication to help further block estrogen. We were just going to do the injections, but with the cysts on my ovaries we have decided to just remove them. YAYAY for birth control being taken care of!!! 😆😉😂😂😂
  • I will hopefully be getting my implants switched early next year also - DOUBLE YAYAY! Also, there is a rap in progress.....hehehe 😀
  • My scans did show stress fractures in both of my tibias, so I have to chill out on the 3 miles I've been running lol...yay/not-yay! Lol
My feelings: excited and terrified, but as always I know God's got this, and he will see me through my menopausal transition. And I know with my amazing friends and family and boyfriend, I will get through it and bounce back better than ever! I am so excited for 2017...here's to new boobs and new adventures!!! 😆😀❤ And I pray you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! ❤🎄

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Planned Parenthood - Natalie Style!

So, how does one start a blog post that's very, very personal???  Yeah, no clue...so I'll dive right in!!! lol...ok so yes...while we believe my fertility is most likely shot, there's no way of guaranteeing that I will for sure not get pregnant.  Unless I am completely abstinent for the rest of my life; which, yeah...probably not going to happen for the girl who made sugar cookies with "SEX" written on them in red food gel lettering on them in high school!!!  *facepalm for my high school self* 

Le sigh...

Anyways, when I first thought I wanted to blog about this topic, I questioned my motives.  I've never actually questioned my "why am I sharing this" before, because I always just knew it was because I wanted to educate, encourage, and inspire others.  Also, up until now, everything has been relatively easy to share, because all of my decisions have been widely accepted and understood by all of my family, friends, and people in general.  Reproduction is the only subject I've received any condemnation on, which is why I questioned my motives for sharing all this.  Do I feel the need to justify my decisions?  Do I think that I need approval from others?  Or do I truly want to be transparent about this deeply sensitive, emotional, and almost taboo topic, in hope that it educates and helps others?  

After a lot of contemplation, it is my hope and prayer that you read this with an open mind and and open heart; which is how we should approach everyone in life.  I do not expect everyone to understand, but I hope it gives you some insight into the lives and minds of those of us who willingly choose to not have children of our own.  

While I am still prayerfully considering my options, I know in my heart what is best for me, my body, and my life; and also what I want most.  Pretty much all of my healthcare-related decisions up until this point have really only affected ME; deciding to permanently sterilize oneself directly affects others, especially any future spouse.  All my decisions up until now have been pretty easy to make: 

  • Surgery:  Lumpectomy?  Mastectomy?  Single or double?  Reconstruction?  FLAP/TRAM, expanders/implants, or nothing?  Nipple conservation?  Nipple reconstruction?  3D tattoos?  Saline, silicone, or gummy?  Teardrop or round?  For me, this was the easiest decision to make...the night I was diagnosed, I knew I wanted my breasts completely removed, so I could have brand new ones!!!  LOL...thank the Lord for giving me tiny breasts to begin with, so that it was an easy decision!  
  • Chemotherapy:  A controversial topic in and of itself, especially when you come from a natural health background.  Not only does it involve the decision to undergo chemo (are the short and long-term side effect risks worth the benefits?  Should I do chemo first?), but also do you want to get a port or picc line?  This was also an easy decision for me, thankfully.  I knew I wanted to get a power port, and do absolutely everything I could to save my life; even if it included going through hell with chemotherapy...because I knew I would be going to hell and back.  And I wanted to come back and stick around here for a long time!  
  • Radiation:  I dreaded this for some reason, I think because I had a feeling it would make me tired.  It did, of course, but I trusted my doctors, my knowledge and research, my gut instincts, and of course God to help me know that this was another good choice for me.  
  • Tamoxifen:  Still up for debate on this one, but it's still a much easier decision to take this pill for 10 years than decide on reproductive options.
Speaking of Tamoxifen, this is one factor that's helped me make my decision.  Tamoxifen is an estrogen-blocker that is an oral medication taken daily that stops estrogen-positive cancers from coming back.  Since my cancer THRIVED on estrogen, this is a very good option for me.  It is supposed to be taken for 10 years, and you are not supposed to get pregnant during this time (due to teratogenic effects).  My 10 years will basically be starting at age 33 for me, which will make me 43 when I finish the course.  

Personally, I know I don't want to be giving birth to and raising children at age 43, for many reasons that I'm sure you can imagine.  Yes, I could stop the medication at some point, but I know that the worry of "OMG will my hormones going out of whack bring my tumor back?!?  What if it grows back and I have this child and then die from cancer?!?"  Yes, those are extreme thoughts and worries, but I know myself well enough to know that those concerns would overwhelm me, and Natalie does not do well when she is stressed out (as we have seen by Natalie getting cancer previously).  :)  

So what is a girl to do when she does not want to get pregnant, but wants to have sex someday lol, and cannot have any form of hormonal birth control?  

I had a nice conversation with my oncologist yesterday about my options.  I'm sure I will review them with her in more detail, as well as with my OBGYN, but with my mother dearest and my dear boyfriend in the room with me, I just wanted an overview and short discussion of my current options, which for me include: IUD, medically-induced menopause (I'm currently in peri-menopause), tubal ligation, or ovary removal.  Just some minor things...

My first thought with an IUD was "What?!  I don't want a foreign implant in my body!!!"  Then remembered I have two large foreign implants sitting in my body right now!  So what makes an IUD any different???  As far as it being a foreign object, there is no difference really, but for me physically it is not the best option.  Medically-induced menopause?  Um...SCARY!!!  As is ovary removal!!!  I'm thankful I don't have any of the BRCA gene mutations, or else they'd definitely want to be harvesting my ovaries!  I really feel for all my friends who are having theirs out...love you guys (well, girls...you're amazing! <3 ).  So while it's not a done deal, a tubal ligation is most likely my best option for me, both personally and physically.  


So, if I CAN have something reversible, why wouldn't I want that?  Because I know, in my heart, that I do not want to produce children with my body, or with my eggs (over the past year I've realized I don't want my DNA passed on...which sounds silly I know, but with all of my issues and family history issues...yeah no lol).  As crazy as it sounds (and believe me, I have been told by MANY people over many years [and especially over the past year] that this is crazy, that there must be something wrong with me, that I'm not a REAL woman, etc etc...) I have never really wanted children of my own; nor have I ever had the desire to be pregnant or give birth.  I know, many of you are reading this and going WHAT?!?  Because I know many of you want nothing more than to become pregnant with your own child, to carry your own child, and to give birth to your child.  And I think that is a wonderful, beautiful thing, and you know I keep you in my prayers.  I am thankful, however, that this is something God has never put on my heart.  I had never understood it, and I always DID think I was weird or that something was wrong with me; but when I was diagnosed with cancer, and heard that I could possibly never had children, it all made sense and I thanked God.  

I did always wonder that if I met the right person, and was in the right relationship, I might change my mind.  But I have (FINALLY! ;) met the right person, and am in the right relationship, and my feelings have not changed.  I can't predict the future, and I could be wrong, but I do not forsee myself ever changing my mind on this one.  

How can I say this with such confidence?  Well, for one, I have always known that if I were to want children, I want to adopt them.  Not to liken children to animals, but I've always felt about children like I do about animals:  there are SO MANY IN THE WORLD WHO DON'T HAVE HOMES, or people to love them!!!  I can't handle thinking about all the animals in shelters...OMG it breaks me heart and brings me to tears if I even start to think about it!!!  And if I see one of those blasted ASPCA etc commercials, even just for one nanosecond of a mangy animal who has that look of heartbreak in their eyes, I'm emotionally ruined for a week.  

So when I picture children like that, my heart breaks a million times over. 

No offense to animal breeders, because those animals need homes too; but there are already SO MANY who need homes!  And for me, it is that way with children too: there area already SO MANY who need homes and love and care; why would I NOT choose them???  I know that probably sounds ridiculous and crazy, but for some crazy reason (maybe because I AM crazy? lol) I've always felt that way, and had that opinion.  

Now, know that I've already gotten a lot of crap about this too throughout my life: 

  • "Why would you want to raise someone else's kids?!?"  Because SOMEONE HAS TO!  And why NOT me???  Because, if not me, then who else will show them and give them the love, encouragement, support, etc that they need?  
  • "You just don't know what you're getting when you adopt!"  LOL...this one always cracks me up, because you know what???  You don't know what you're getting with LIFE!!!  As soon as you enter this world, you don't know what you're getting!  We aren't guaranteed anything in life; we're not even guaranteed tomorrow.  You might be the most perfect person, with the most perfect spouse, with the most perfect DNA (which none of that even exists); but until Jesus returns this world ain't perfect, and your children will be out in this crazy, corrupted world...so you don't really know what you're getting with anything (especially with kids!).  Until we truly solve the whole nature vs. nuture debate, I'll just keep my mind focused on Jesus.  
  • "But what if they grow up and kill you?  Or kill others?"  My first response is typically, "Well what if YOUR children grow up and kill YOU, or others?"  Thankfully, I'm ususally shocked into silence long enough for my filter to kick in, and I don't actually say that.  My usual response is, "Ok, if they kill or harm or do bad stuff, yep that would be horrible; I cannot imagine that!  And if they kill me, well then I'll be up in heaven with Jesus!  And how many non-adopted children grow up and do bad things?  But seriously, we can't fear the future for any reason.  We can fear the future for so many reasons, but if we do that then we will miss out on so many of the amazing things that God has in store for us!"  And then they are the ones who are silenced.   
  • "Oh, you will change your mind someday!"  Mmm...I haven't in 33 years now...maybe, but doubtful.  And if I do, well I know God will get me through that too!  
  • ETC ETC!!! :)  

The best thing of all?  I have the most amazing and supportive family, friends, and boyfriend...without them, we all know I would not have made it this far in my journey; analld I surely could not be making a decision like this.  And my boyfriend, ahhhh dear Austin, what an amazing man!  I've been so blessed to have SO MANY "God things" and God-sends and gifts that I know are directly from God in my life time, and Austin is one of the best!  He is literally the man I've been looking for and praying for my whole life, and it amazes me every day that I have been blessed with such a perfect gift.  I could write so much on how and why I know he is a gift from God, but I'll keep this short and sweet: From the very beginning we've been on the same page about having children, and the dude is more than open and willing to adopt (and his reasons would melt your heart!).  Plus,any man that can sit through a doctor's appointment and listen to all the things discussed yesterday (as if hearing that your girlfriend should probably have her tubes tied isn't bad enough, all the other bodily conversations and what not were fun to listen to also I'm sure!) and not run out of the room and hold my hand during chemotherapy is simply amazing...simply perfect <3 

I'm amazed every single day at how my life has changed for the better since my cancer diagnosis.  Never in a million years did I think I would have cancer at age 31; and never in a million years did I think I would kick cancer's ass and come out happier and better than ever!  

Ok, so that was a lot!  Thank you for reading, I hope you learned something or at least have some insight into us crazy, weird, strange women who are different than "normal" women.  Now I have that song (I think it's from Sesame Street???) that goes like, "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong!" stuck in my head! LOL!!!  Except I know where I belong...right here, right now, right where God has me.  Love you all so much, and thank you <3 <3 <3 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Anniversary of my Double Mastectomy

It is CRAZY (but awesome!) to think that yesterday marked one year since my surgery...the day I started cancer treatment. While most things were a blur after my diagnosis, I vividly remember the day of and the day after my surgery. I remember waking up the morning of my surgery, and showering with the antibacterial soap they want you to use before surgery. I remember going downstairs to start my day as I always do (or prefer to do, but some mornings I must admit I am lazy!) and read my Bible and pray. I was nervous, but as I sat in my newly-delivered Healing Chair, the strength and love of God, along with all the cancer patients who have gone before me poured over me, and gave me peace like I've never felt before.

I remember hugging my dad as we were heading off to the hospital, and I can still hear him telling me "I love you more than you'll ever know," after which of course I bawled LOL :-) I remember arriving at the outpatient clinic, because first I had to do the super fun nipple injection for the sentinel node biopsy (which, sadly, was a bust - hah, get the pun??? - because they ended up having to take all of my left axillary lymph nodes). When I came out from that, I got to spend some time with my dear mother, and a dear friend who always knows how to uplift my soul.

After that, it was time to head over to the surgery center. After a short wait, it was surgery prep time! Vitals taken, IV hooked up, doctors visits (I was excited when I found out both of my surgeons were actually in the house, because 3 days prior neither of them were supposedly going to be able to be there), changing into the sexy gown and socks, and saying my final goodbyes to my breasts...and to my tumor (BYE FELICIA!!!!!!).  Soon it was the to head to the operating room. Right before they wheeled me back, they gave me some of my beloved Versed, and I was ready to party in the operating room at that point! Lol.

The next thing I remember was waking up from surgery. I will never forget this, as it was one of those vivid and surreal moments. I temmener waking up, realizing I was alive, and excitedly thanking God. Then quickly, the pain set it. That was VERY unexpected to me, as I figured the intense pain would come once pain meds wore off; I did not expect to wake up in excruciating pain. Once I realized I was in pain, I started to panic: cue heavy breathing. Heavy breathing equated to bigger chest expansion, which quickly proved to provide even more intense pain. I was able to calm down quickly, and I remember tears rolling down the side of my face as the nurse administered more pain medication. I remember thinking how happy I was to be alive, but simultaneously being terrified for the road ahead of me. Shortly after, my mom came back, and once I saw her face I felt peace again, and the rest is a blur.

I don't remember much of that evening, except my family and my best friend and her mom came to visit me (and brought beautiful flowers), which made me smile.

At some point during the night, the second worst part came. My nurse Tessa, who was AWESOME, came to make me get up and go to the bathroom. Lol. I LOL just thinking about it now! I was like ha ha, you're funny! I can't even feed myself (literally, my mom spoon fed me, because you cannot move your arms whatsoever...well, you can, but OUCH!). Unfortunately, she was NOT joking, and what is normally a simple and easy thing to do was the most excruciating task I've ever endured.

The first part was sitting up. OK, so just sit up...not hard, right??? Nah, it's just that when your core contracts to lift you up, it pulls on your chest...ooo sharp pain!!! OK so you've sat up...now swing your legs around and then stand up. More core and pulling. Then shuffle walk to the bathroom, while trying to actually move as little as possible. Finally, I made it to the bathroom. Then, of course, I had to sit down on the toilet. I thought that would be the easy part, but there is a lot going on in the body when you squat down! Lol...anyways, I remember as I was sitting down, I could have sworn my expanders (implants) popped out through my sutures!!! It was the most intense, burning, searing pain I'd ever experienced. At some point then, I had to stand back up...ahhh, the reverse squat, also not too much fun! Then it was hand washing time. I remember feeling so humbled by the fact that I didn't even have the ability to push down on the soap button, because just that motion caused too much pain. I will be forever grateful to my mother, who patiently helped me through all of this!!!

Anyways, it got easier and easier every time. The ride home the next day was NOT fun; every little bump jarred the heck out of me, and there were moments (and many more moments over the next few days) that I thought I HAD to be bleeding from my chest! Lol, but of course it was all fine, thankfully!

My pain was kept under control pretty well after that. The only painful thing was the positional changes, and i found that braceing my chest with a pillow helped tremendously! I am thankful for my parents who helped with the drains!!! And I will never forget all the love people showed me during that time...the love and the prayers were what helped me get through it all ❤