Sunday, December 13, 2015
Today was just not a good day. I didn't feel too terrible (other than just tired and flu-ish), but emotionally I was a WRECK. I feel like I look terrible, as my skin has broken out all over my face, neck, chest, and back; I feel like I'm a teenager again, without the unlimited energy! I went to work for a few hours, and I was almost paranoid to get out in public. Just driving through traffic I felt like there were all these big, scary germs everywhere, waiting to attack me. But I survived, of course ;)
A much better day today! Felt a lot better, still just tired. Work went pretty smooth, so that helps! Went out to Tequila Harry's for some Mexican food for a fundraiser for The Healing Chair - Kansas City, and I am so glad I went! I want to be at everything I possibly can be at for this charity, since that chair (recliner) seriously helped me TREMENDOUSLY after my double mastectomy! Not to mention the four women who head it up are amazing, and always know how to raise my spirits. I even ate an entire cheese quesadilla myself, and some chips! That's like, what I ate in an entire day last weekend! Not to mention it even tasted pretty good (thank you taste buds for coming back a bit)!!!
All these days kind of ran together, but overall they were good. My mouth had started to feel TERRIBLE on day 6 (I felt like I'd eaten a cactus!), which was frustrating. I was having trouble eating and drinking, but it mostly cleared up a couple of days later. We had our office Christmas party, which was a blast!!! I was pretty worn out by 10:00 pm, so we cut out a bit early, but it was a lot of fun! It was also good to see and spend some time with my boyfriend, who came in town for the party. I'm feeling pretty darn good today, almost back to normal!!! I accomplished some things today, which is always good...even went for a walk in the rain!!! :) I also found out that "my" healing chair (the Natalie chair) was delivered to it's 2nd recipient today! I can't wait to meet her, and I hope she feels the love from it!
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Woke up this morning in a total fog...as I told my family, I feel like my head is on up-side down. I feel like a Shel Silverstein character, just kind of goofy! lol. I can feel swelling of my lymph nodes in my head and neck, which is good because it means they are working! It feels almost like I have a cold, with the body aches and sore throat, but it's not too terrible. My head just feels weird, inside and out...my brain feels like there are only a few synapses connecting, and my hair follicles feel tingly and weird. So bizarre! Kinda like this guy:
I also find it interesting how sore my surgical and drain sites have been since Friday...yup, chemo is definitely working to attack those bad cancer cells!!!
I ate two pieces of cinnamon-sugar toast and an egg for breakfast, so that is good. No nausea so far, thankfully. My bright-pink and poofy steroid face has gone down a bit, and almost returned to its normal color. Yay!
Emotionally, I feel like a wreck. I am eager to return to work tomorrow, but I feel like I can't function at all! I feel like a Ferris Wheel that is hanging on by one anchor, and any one bump or stressor might knock it loose, and it will roll away, unraveling itself into bits and pieces as it goes. I am so thankful for all the love and prayers I've been blessed with, as they help tremendously! Two scriptures from my Bible readings today boosted me up this morning:
Saturday, December 5, 2015
But if that's the worst so far, I'm doing great! :) I know there are more challenges ahead, but this was the first thing to strike me as "Yup, my life is gonna be different!" I did have some major dry mouth last night, which was interesting. I've had dry mouth off and on throughout my life (between rheumatoid arthritis and various medications, I've experienced it a few times), but this was D-R-Y MOUTH!!! As in, when I woke up last night, I wasn't sure I was ever going to be able to get my mouth open! Imagine that, ME not being able to open MY big mouth!!! lol. I went and used some Biotene rinse that a friend had thoughtfully bought me, which saved the rest of the night!
Also, is it bad that I'm kind of ready for my hair to start falling out, so I can quit plucking at all these stray facial hairs that drive me batty?!?!?
The rest of the day went well, I did some light yoga and went for a walk, which felt AMAZING. Now going to shower and rest up some more! Love and blessings to you all!!!
Friday, December 4, 2015
Whew, round one of chemo is done! I'm feeling good right now, just tired of course. Nothing was painful, except for a little burning in my left shoulder briefly with one of the drugs, but not bad at all! Didn't feel like too long of a day, but I sacked out after about an hour so I slept through most of it! Initially I was really cold, I had on a hat, scarf, gloves, jacket, and a big thick quilt; but once they brought me a heated blanket and a pillow I sacked out!!!
I brought Mo (short for cheMO) today, a little dog stuffed animal that my grandma took with her to all of her chemo treatments (she went through chemo twice for ovarian cancer). It was nice to have some cute and soft to hold on to all day!!! So I definately recommend that :-)
My mom and dad were with me the whole day, and I'm so thankful they were there and got to experience it with me, and support me (and most importantly - keep me laughing!). 😂 Two of my lovely friends and coworkers came to visit, bringing snacks and scarves - two items I can't get enough of!!! It was fun visiting with and laughing with them! I know many of you want to come visit during treatments, I've got my schedule now so let me know! :-) I'm also thankful for all the love and support today, it kept my spirits up and kept me smiling all day! (7 hours). My nurses were amazing too...so thankful for them!
Now off to eat Chipotle, go for a short walk, and rest rest rest. Blessings to you all!!! 😄❤
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
It pains me to admit this. I am kind of tired of fighting already, and the war has just begun. I've already had won some battles, but they have depleted me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am so thankful for all of my friends and family, for each thought, prayer, and message gives me enough strength to face the next moment. If I am silent, it's because I only have the energy and strength to take the next step. And that's only because of your love, and the love, grace, and mercy of our wonderful God. I know that God has so much more in store for me and my future, but I have to concentrate on getting myself well, so that I can do the work He has set before me - helping others!
I haven't slept the past two nights, which is not abnormal for anyone nowdays. I'm sure it will take a little while to get settled in the new place, but I do love it here! My port is still tender, and it just kind of drives me nuts (like my expanders did initially). I didn't realize how far up the body the port catheter goes, and it's driving my neck bonkers! But it will be way better than having IVs, I know.
But I don't want chemo. I don't want radiation. I felt so strong and empowered, and now that I know I will start chemo in a couple of weeks, I don't want to start. Having been through chiropractic school, where we firmly believe in all things natural and only natural, the thought of WILLINGLY injecting some serious toxins into my body for an entire year makes me cringe. And makes me want to cry. And scream, and throw myself on the floor and have myself a little 31-year-old hissy fit (a lot like some of the kids in my best friend Ashlea's preschool class!).
However, I know that I need these toxins to continue to fight this war. I've thought about it and prayed about it, and I know this, with God's help, is what will give me victory. Sometimes, when I'm thinking about (ok, freaking out about) all the chemo drugs, I think about all the other crap (there's no better word choice there, I tried to think of one but I got nothing at 4 am!) that I've put into my body. Years upon years of poor nutrition (I should have won the most un-healthiest vegan award many years ago), lack of exercise (ok it'll give myself credit, I exercised on multiple occasions throughout the years...just not consistently), drank my share of alcohol (those bottles of wine weren't going to drink themselves! And I shared on occasion...). The worst was probably the sugar addiction. All those boxes of Little Debbies that claimed to have 5 or 6 servings, but I only saw 1 serving per box! Same with Oreos...who gets more than 2 servings out of one if those packages?!?
But I digress.
I've willingly cleaned up my diet, and have felt better than ever; yet as Chemo Day 1 approaches, I want to give up on that and just go to Connie's Cookies, get a dozen of those amazingly soft and delicious cookies, and eat them all. For breakfast. Then there'd be a stop at a Panera bakery for some pastries for lunch. Maybe through a bread bowl of soup in there, just to make sure I get my carbs. But before I plan my dinner, I'll just stop with my fantasy, because I know now that I can resist these temptations. Thank goodness for Christ, helping to set us free from our sins!!! (Gluttony, in my case...major gluttony!).
I feel like I initially set out to have a point with this post, but I don't remember what it was now! So it's time to finish my Bible reading for the day and spend some time in prayer, so that I can have the strength to face the day. Thank you all again for everything...God bless!!!
Ooo, and I did go wig shopping with my momma, and we had a blast!!! I picked out two wigs: one for "daily" wear, and the other for fun. I am no longer worried about losing my hair!!! 😀
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
So they finally gave me a number: Stage 3 cancer. Now when I can say I've beat cancer, I can say I beat stage 3 cancer - take THAT cancer!!! My medical oncologist (whom I love dearly) gave me my treatment plan yesterday: Chemo every 3 weeks for one year, starting December 4. Most importantly, I will be able to still enjoy adult beverages for all my holiday festivities!!! After the appointment (tons of info), we got to see the infusion center (where they administer chemotherapy).
The Infusion Center. I don't know what I was thinking it would look like, but as my mom put it, it felt like the control center in Houston or something with all the hubbub of nurses running to and from, attending to the various patients. The infusion center was a large, long room with recliners lined up along all four walls. The recliners all faced towards the center of the room, where the "command center" was. This was a large, oval desk where nurses worked urgently over computers and other medical thingies. Each recliner had a patient, hooked up to bags of IVs, resting in it. The demographics of the patients were all female, age 50+. None of the patients nor visitors were talking, yet the room was loud with emotion. The energy, not good, was palpable; not entirely negative, just gloomy, and laced with fear, sadness, and lonliness.
This gloom was in stark contrast to the lighting of the room. It was bright, SO VERY BRIGHT. And I'm the girl who loves a lot of light! But this light just seemed over abundant, as if extra bulbs had been installed to illuminate any shadows within the patients. Dark places that we like to keep hidden deep within us; away from the world, and away from ourselves.
We went on in and proceeded to schedule appointments for my chemo sessions. The woman who was scheduling me seemed to be confused that I was there scheduling visits for myself, as she kept trying to talk to my mother. I looked around the room as we waited for her to book my appointments. It felt more like a hospital than any place I've been so far, and I realized I hated it. I immediately hated it so much. I felt as though I didn't belong, and having felt that way many other times throughout my life, I hated it even more.
Later, after my second appointment, I tried to picture myself sitting in one of the recliners. For some reason, that seemed to help. I thought hey, if it's a recliner, I belong in it!!! Lol. And I visualized my mom helping me get comfortable and making sure I was settled, and that all the IVs were correct. I visualized doing my favorite past times (music, coloring, games, etc), and friends and family coming to visit. I visualized myself receiving the chemo drugs, and I visualized myself being strong and fighting every step of the way. This little exercise seemed to help, because I realized that I do belong there. I have cancer, and I need to go there to save my life; and hopefully brighten the lives of some of the others along the way. I believe it was Buddha who said, "Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will never be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." Even though that place is bright with physical light, I must still be the light in the darkness. And I can be the light! 💡
Thursday, November 5, 2015
WARNING: "Graphic" Photos Below! I've included some pictures of my drains, so that if anyone is reading this and getting ready to have them, they can see that they're not too scary! The first picture is where the 2 drain tubes on my left side are sutured in to my body, and the second picture is one of the drain bulbs (these collect the fluid being suctioned out of the body, preventing seromas and what not). I'd much rather have all this stuff being sucked out of my body, than staying in it!
My second week post-surgery is almost complete! I have not had any real pain over the past few days, other than some tenderness where the drains insert. It's been nice to be back at work part-time, but I have been very tired. Yesterday, I must admit, I was pretty cranky; the result of PMS, exhastion, and a body that desperately needed a shower. Fortunately, a long nap and a saran-wrap assisted shower helped tremendously, and I feel much better today!
I am getting ready to head to my plastic surgeon to:
1. See my plastic surgeon for the first time since my initial consult (I mean, you could say I "saw" her during surgery, but, not really), which is exciting!
2. Hopefully get my drains removed!!!!!!! I must admit I've almost gotten attached to them (emotionally...I'm already attached physically, hah!). It's amazing how emotional this journey can be, and sometimes it's with the most bizarre things!
3. Get my first fill! This should be interesting, because it amazes me they can just keep adding saline to the tissue expander every week...
Then off to work! Assuming I get my drains removed today, I cannot wait to shower tonight!!! I've never been more excited to get clean lol! 😉
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
I went back to work yesterday for half a day, and it was nice to be back! It felt good to get out of the house, be productive, and talk to people. The one thing driving me nuts is these drains...I am almost ready to rip then out myself! They are just getting annoying and itchy, but they are still collecting a fair amount of fluid, so I suppose it is good to have them!!!
I did have an appointment with my surgeon yesterday, who gave us some good news! My tumor, which they had been measuring at 3.5 cm, had shrunk to only 2.5 cm! And only 4 of the 9 lymph nodes removed were involved! Thank you all SO MUCH for your prayers, they have made a huge difference...Praise the Lord! Now I continue to rest a bit, then towards the end of the month I will go have my port put in, and keep rolling along from there! Woo hoo, the party is just getting started!!! 😀
After my half day of work today, I came home and read my Bible (after eating a huge lunch of delicious leftovers, of course!). During my "quiet time" with the Lord, I really got to thinking about how blessed I am. I have done nothing to deserve these blessings that God has given me; if anything, I have not taken good enough care of them. I think of how I am blessed with a healthy body. I may have cancer, but I am able to walk with two legs, hug with two arms, hear with two ears, see with two eyes, laugh loud and proud, etc etc. Health is a blessing, and I am so thankful I am health enough to fight like a girl!
I am also blessed with amazing friends. I know lots of people say they have great friends, but mine really are amazing. They are the most selfless, kind, generous, funny, and beautiful people ever! That might be one of the worst sentences I've ever written (I should really go back and proofread these before I post them), but no words can fully do them justice. They light up my life in ways they will never know. I am so blessed and so thankful to have them to journey beside me!
I'm also blessed to have a good job with great coworkers, and an even greater boss. These people have already been so helpful and merciful to me on my journey. I also have blessings like my cat (LOVE HER!), my boyfriend (he could take up an entire blog post himself...or even an entire blog! Lol 😉), and my location (oh yeah, I live in Kansas City, home of the 2015 World Series Champions, our beloved KANSAS CITY ROYALS!!!). But I think my biggest blessing in life is my family.
I have a lot of awesome family members, who have stepped up and helped me out more than I could have imagined. The most amazing ones are, of course, my parents. They are, hands down, the most amazing people I have ever known. They would do (and have done, and are doing) anything and everything for me. Having to spoon-feed your 31 year old requires great patience, especially when that is only one of many things needed of a caretaker (thank goodness that specific need only lasted about 24 hours!). Driving me around for appointment after appointment...Keeping my medications and supplements organized so that I take them at the right time...spending sleepless nights with me at the hospital and at home...I think if I were a caretaker, I would go crazy! I do not know if I will ever understand what being a parent is truly like, and I don't know I will ever understand that great unconditional love that parents have for their children. Parents are so unselfish and self-sacrificing that I literally cannot comprehend it. (Confession: A parent's love literally blows my mind! It's like when I think about how the universe is constantly expanding. Ok if it's expanding, what's it expanding INTO? Into nothing? But nothing then has to be SOMETHING, because the universe is expanding INTO IT!!! *MIND BLOWN*). Ok end rant! 😉
That infinite, merciful love that parents have for their children is amazing. What is even more amazing is that this is how our God loves us. Maybe you have not had an earthly parent who treated you well, but please know that God loves you with all of His heart. You are loved no matter who you are, or what you have done, and He is always waiting for you with open arms.
I always wish I could show my parents how much they mean to me, and how amazing they are, but nothing I can do can compare to how much they have given me. Love you mom and dad!!! ❤❤❤
And now that I'm all teary-eyed and emotional (seriously PMS, could you just hold off until I don't have cancer anymore?!?), I have to remind myself that there are too many other people out there who are not as fortunate as I am. It's my job, my God-given purpose, to give those people something to feel blessed about. I must find them and love them!!! And to end on a high note...how 'bout that parade today?!?!?! 😄😆😉⚾❤
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Ahhh, a lovely weekend! 😆 Had some AMAZING meals this week (thank you Gilroy Gals!!!), and lots of good company! Got to see some old friends and other loved ones, which is just awesome. I can't believe how much more I treasure each of my relationships now days!!! Watched The Halloween Tree yesterday with dad, and enjoyed looking at all the pics on FB of everyone's costumes!
Today was a busy day! I am thankful that my pain levels were low. I am so thankful that God is healing me, and has reduced my pain!!! We watched the Chiefs game this morning, and had company this afternoon. Ashlea came over to color (hehe) and hang out, and my aunt, uncle, and cousin came by for a bit as well. And they all brought me Starbucks! 😄☕I'd been craving it! Barb also came by to bring dinner from the Gilroy Girls again! I swear, those women are amazing!!! Then I took a shower (shhh, don't tell my surgeon, my drains aren't out yet! Lol), and dried my hair, etc. I am physically exhasuted, but it feels good! Ooo, and I even went up and down the stairs today, too!!! Conquered the stairs today; tomorrow, the world!!! 😉🌏
It occurred to me today that this (surgery) is/was only the first step. I feel like I need to mentally and emotionally pace myself, in a way, as if I am doing a marathon. And I guess in a way it is a marathon - a marathon to save my life. I told this to a friend and a BC survivor, and she reminded me that there are other people running this race with me, and even more cheering me on from the sidelines...thanks Pam!!! 😀 I love that reminder...it's my race to run, but I'm not doing it alone!!! 💟
Tomorrow I am heading back to work!!! Going to go in for a few hours before my follow up appointment with my general surgeon. Kind of nervous about both things, but I know work will be good (and I'm excited to see my friends!), and I know regardless of what my final pathology report reveals, I will get treatment and I WILL SURVIVE!!! 💪
And now, let's go Royals!!! 😀⚾❤
P.S. The blue scrubs pic...I was trying on my mom's old scrubs to see if they would be looser than mine for work tomorrow...I'd say they were loose alright!!! Lol!!! I'm a replica of Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!!! Lol!
Friday, October 30, 2015
Oh man, I personally love the title I chose for this blog; however, I might be biased 😉
But first, I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone, all of you, that have prayed and come over to deliver flowers or meals or just to keep me company, and for reading my blog, and for everything else you have done to support me!!!
Second, updates! 😀 Went for my first follow up visit with my plastic surgeon yesterday. I was really nervous about this appointment, because I knew they were going to take off the bandages, and I would have to see my new chest for the first time.
They checked the drains and said everything looks good there, but I still need to keep them in for another week (ugh, but I'd rather have them draining fluid out of me, than having to keep that fluid in me and cause more swelling!). Then they took off the ace compression bandage off.
The first thing I felt was relief, because I realized that what's causing a lot of my chest pressure was the wrap! It felt good to stretch a little, and take in a few deep breaths. They removed the rest of the bandages, and said all the incisions looked normal. So I took a deep breath (since I finally was able to), and forced myself to look down.
What I saw was not what I expected. I expected several large, thick, and ugly incisions marks. I expected lots of bruising, coloring my chest in blues and purples. I expected the drain tubes to just be hanging out of holes in my chest wall. I expected a pancake-flat, bloody chest. Can you see why I was excited for this appointment?!? Lol.
What I saw when I looked down was skin; my own skin, in its normal color. I saw one steri-strip covering one incision a few inches long on each breast. I noticed the drain tubes coming out the sides of my chest, sutured nicely into tiny incisions. The best part was seeing that there were small curves on my chest wall - not flat as I had anticipated.
So all this was quite a relief!!! Praise Jesus! 😀👆
I was exhausted after the appointment (it's amazing how easily drained of energy I am now days), so I took a nap (my favorite activity this week). I woke up to visit with two of my awesome coworkers, and with a good friend who brought supper the a few other good friends had made.
During the afternoon and evening, the pain subsided a bit more. I started noticing a very bizarre sensation in my left breast: bubbling. Bubbling! Like fizziness, carbonation-like. It felt like someone dropped an alka-seltzer tablet into my breast!!! I know it is just the fluids moving around the tissues and drains, but it is the weirdest sensation I have ever felt!!!
But I will take some bubbling over burning pain any day! 👍 Champagne breasts...has a nice ring to it! 😉
Last night I felt pretty good, and I was able to brush and flood my teeth! One more step in the right direction!!! This morning is pretty good also, I'm only about a 3-4 out of 10 (minus the cat waking me up by walking across my chest...yikes!). But a major pain decrease, finally!!! But I could not do all this without the strength, peace, and hope given to me by God, and by all the love you all have shown me. Thanks again for reading...God bless!!!
P.S. GO ROYALS!!!!! ❤⚾❤⚾❤⚾
Thursday, October 29, 2015
I've had to do a lot of tough things in my life, but my surgery on Monday was probably the toughest. I felt peaceful and calm going into it (both of my surgeon's were able to be there, yay!) which was good. I felt REALLY good about it once they gave me that happy twilight medicine stuff right before they wheeled me back to the OR! ;-) lol.
It amazes me how fast blood circulates through the body. Almost immediately after giving IV drugs into the vessels, you feel the effects from head to toe. But I digress...
When I woke up from surgery, there was a ton of emotions. Good emotions about the cancer being gone, and everything went as planned. Not-so-good emotions about the pain. I thought my chest and sides were either on fire, bleeding out, or a combination of both. I've never experienced that kind of pain before, and I panicked because I thought something was very wrong. The nurses were all great, and were patient and helpful in managing the pain. I also cried out to God, and thought about all the amazing women I've met who have fought this same battle, and have won. I was also upset when I found out they took all my left lymph nodes, instead of just the sentinel biopsy (the surgeon said they felt swollen and what not, so she took them). I know this is a common procedural, but I was hoping and praying that the lymph nodes weren't involved, but better to take them than to leave them in there! And of course we will know more once the final pathology report comes back.
I eventually got wheeled to my little room at some point (which was actually pretty nice, minus a bathroom). I remember my friends and family coming to visit, which was soooo nice and reassuring!
My nurse that night, Tess, was awesome. She was very kind, gentle, and patient. I don't think I could have made it through that night without her and my mother! I was unable to do anything, which was incredibly frustrating. If I wanted a sip of water, I needed help. If I wanted a bite of graham cracker, I needed help. If I wanted that annoying strand of hair out of my face, I needed help. While it was a very humbling experience, I am so thankful for their help. Especially when it came time to use the bathroom.
Going to the bathroom after surgery was the second hardest thing ever. I had figured I could just use my abs to sit up, but that intensified my chest pain so much that I would just fall back onto the bed. Once I finally made it upright, I felt that burst of excruciating pain again. While both sides hurt a lot while standing, the worst spot was below my left breast. I panicked again, as I thought the sutures had split open and fire and blood was now pouring from it. Tess and my mom reassured me I was fine, it was just the new tissue expanders shifting with gravity, putting pressure on the incisions.
I thought I was either going to hurl, pass out, or simply die right there (having very low blood sugar was not helpful).
Fortunately, none of those things happened, and I made my way down the hall to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom, I needed help holding my gown so it didn't fall in the toilet. I needed help getting the toilet paper, as I couldn't reach out far enough. And we all know how long it takes me to pee...lol. Once that was finished, I had to stand up again to go wash my hands. I figured since I was still upright, moving from sitting to standing wouldn't be too difficult. So I just stood right up, and immediately felt the shift of the expanders, along with the intense, burning pain. The whole episode took about 20 minutes...just to go pee!
Anyways, I got some rest that night, and got some food and fluids down me. The hospital dinner they gave me was chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes, which was all actually VERY yummy!!! So that was a pleasant surprise :-) Getting dressed in the morning was also very humbling; I felt like a giant American Girl doll, but nowhere near as cute! (If I were an American Girl doll, I would totally want to be Samantha. Even though they retired her. Lol).
The ride home wasn't too terrible, but I did notice how terribly rough and bumpy a lot of the roads are! Once I got home and settled, I just watched movies and the first part of the Royals game with my boyfriend (who also took good care of me, bringing me whatever I needed, and would patiently position my little heart pillows under my arms until they were in juuuuust the right spot). I wish I could have watched the entire game (all 14 innings!), but I am glad we won!
Yesterday was still a struggle with pain. Not too bad during the day, but last night it increases again greatly. Again, crying out to God and remembering other survivors got me through those tough moments. I was fortunate to have friends come to visit, which was soooo nice,and my mom washed my hair in the sink (this was painful, but I must admit I did sleep better!). And I did get to watch the Royals win! :-)
Feeling much better today, as I'm not experiencing that intense, excruciating pain as often. I can even feed myself now! Even though I'm never hungry now, which is weird lol. I also took a record 5 laps around the table this morning when I got up to use restroom! 😆 I felt like Eric Hosmer or someone rounding the bases (bases, chairs, same thing!). 😉⚾ I have an appointment later this morning with the plastic surgeon to check my incisions and what not, and if I said I was not terrified of looking at myself for the first time, I'd be lying. I also hope I get my drains taken out. Even though they're not terrible, they are just a (helpful) nuisance! Lol. I know that God will get me through this!!!
Thank you for reading, and I will update soon!!! God bless! 😊💟🎀👆
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
I was finally feeling ready to attack this cancer and have surgery when I woke up this morning. Good thing my surgery isn't scheduled till Monday, because I was notified that my surgeon had left town last night. She had left for St. Louis, where her mother was in ICU. I was informed of this so that I could move a Thursday appointment to Friday (to prep for my surgery Monday), and I didn't think much of it at the time.
Once the call ended, my mind (of course) started going crazy with the beloved "what-ifs."
Ahhh, those what-ifs that ruin many of our days! I began to worry what if her mother is severely ill, and she can't return in time for my surgery? Or what if her mother passes, and she has a funeral to attend, instead of my surgery? Or what if all ends up ok, but she is distracted as she works on me??? I got myself so worked up I was "stuck." This happens to me periodically as it is (thank you OCD!), but this time I prayed.
First, I prayed for my surgeon and her mother. I immediately felt selfish after my initial thoughts, and realized the bigger picture. Then I prayed for peace about my situation. As I was sitting there praying at my desk (thankfully the phone didn't ring, giving us some peace at the front desk), I heard a whisper: "Do you trust Me?"
My initial response was "Oh God, not now, I don't have time to trust, I just need PEACE!" Then I remembered who I was praying to. If I have time to pray for peace, then I have time to trust, and then I for sure have time to receive peace.
Why we resist these simple and easy things, I will never know (other than good ol' human nature). About this time, two scriptures popped into my head:
Phillipians 4:6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Mark 11:24: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
God reminded me that, not even a week ago last Friday, He has answered my prayers in a big way (regarding my post-surgery supploes); how could I be here not trusting Him to provide?
This calmed me a bit, but I was still concerned. I went and talked to my mom and some coworkers, who reassured me all would be fine. I realized yet again how God uses His people to help us hear Him...and I am so thankful for that (And those people)!!!
Sometimes I feel I'm just as bad as the people in Exodus - continually forgetting God's provisions and love. This is why I am so thankful for His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love! And also for my friends and family who continually reassure me, and remind me of His love and provisions. I am still continually thankful for you all!!!
Saturday, October 10, 2015
I feel like some sort of sick (I guess I am though hah!) and twisted person to be saying this, but I do believe I had a sort of "honeymoon phase" after my diagnosis. One website defines this as "A timespan during which problems are known to exist are either not manifest or are ignored, much like the newlywed period during which spouses are most cordial and passionate with each other. In medicine, a honeymoon period is that which follows the diagnosis of a disease and before its impact is felt."
That is definitely what I experienced. The past few weeks have not felt scary, just slightly overwhelming. It has been almost exciting, as any new adventure does. All the love and support was so great, and it felt really good to know that God has put such AMAZING people in my life (this means YOU! You are AMAZING!).
Part of me was relieved that all the weird and annoying symptoms I had been experiencing (fatigue, night sweats, etc) were validated. I was not just a whiny wimp that wanted to sleep all the time, I had a good reason to skip out on social events on Friday nights to sleep!
Another part of me was "happy" to have something that forced me to make some major lifestyle changes; changes I have wanted to make for years, but never had the real strength or resolve to make them last. I was thankful for an "excuse" to purchase expensive organic produce and all natural beauty products.
And, of course, I've always wanted bigger boobs ;)
Thankfully, I know I can continue to focus on the positive things. I do know, however, that these "excuses" are ones I should have been using for years. I preached prevention to all my patients, but I did not practice what I preached.
Suddenly, reality has set in. I am blaming PMS, as that is what gets me emotional on a monthly basis. Also, this is the first time I have felt that anything about my situation is unfair. PMS and cancer?!?!? I mean, just uncap and dump the entire salt shaker in the wound!!!
While I am thankful for the lifestyle changes I have already made, the reality of incorporating them for the rest of my life overwhelms me. I worry about things I should not even be thinking about right now. Things like "What will my friends think if I only want to eat at 'healthy' restaurants? Will it drive my family and friends nuts, or offend them, if I turn down baked goodies, or (my newest thing) only want to use glass food containers instead of plastic?" With the holidays approaching, how on earth and I supposed to show all my loved ones how much I care without budget-friendly baked treats?!?!? And holiday parties...ok, while I know I will bend my "rules" here, what AM I going to wear?!?!?
Thankfully, I know you all are amazing, and will support me in this fight however I need you to. I've been drinking apple cider vinegar and kombucha for years, and you all still love me. :) Thank you!!!
Then there is surgery (worries of pain, external scarring, pain, internal scarring, pain, infection, pain, and oh those creepy/gross drains, etc) and chemo (nausea, fatigue, low white blood cell count during cold and flu season, and my biggest concern: whose hair WILL I pull?!?!?), but for now I am just focusing on my next step: preparing my mind, body, and soul for surgery. I want to go into surgery as healthy as possible, so that I can recover as quickly as possible. I have a LOT to do in that time off after surgery! So much Netflix to watch and so many books to read...but I am terrified of the pain and side effects from surgery (especially the limited movement...yikes! And I'm not even allowing myself to think about how I will look with clothes off for a long time...not that I enjoyed thinking about it previously lol).
Once I am healed up from that, then I can focus on the next steps. But those are a few months away, and I know that with God and all you wonderful people, I will be just fine. Please know that all your texts, calls, emails, Facebook posts, cards, prayers, and EVERYTHING helps me so much, every day. I go back and look through them constantly, and I will use them so much over the next few months. I hope God blesses you all as much as you have blessed me, because you have blessed me beyond words.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
First there is surgery. Fortunately, there are several options for surgeries, all of which have pros and cons. I am currently leaning towards bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, which all of my doctors have fully supported (those reasons would fill up another entire blog post of its own). While I had always thought it would be relatively easy to simply say, "Yes! Take my boobs and give me new, fun ones!" it has not been easy. I am still praying over this decision, asking for God's guidance and peace. 2 Corinthians 5:1-7 has been very helpful:
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Diagnosing...that's what we were taught to do in chiropractic school. I was the one who was supposed to be diagnosing others, but I've now found myself to be the one diagnosed.
With the "C-word."
I knew women my age could get breast cancer, but surely not me, and surely not at age 31. I mean that was so rare, no way it could be me...right? But it is me. And it turns out that it's ok.
In just 24 hours since getting the call yesterday I've already learned so much about myself, my family, people, and life. I'm already stronger than I ever thought I could be. I always thought I couldn't handle even hearing that I had cancer. But I went to work today, scheduled appointments for myself, and had a lot of laughs. My family has amazed me. They have been incredibly supportive, and stronger than I could ever have hoped. I've discovered that people are amazing, and I think needed to be reminded of that. I have literally been blown away by all the prayers and gifts and well wishes I have received. I've always believed in prayer, but now I really believe in the POWER of prayer. What is surprising to me is that have never felt so much peace in my life as what I feel today. I have never felt as thankful as I feel today, nor as blessed.
I can't thank you all enough for all you have done already, but please know everything is appreciated. Tomorrow I am meeting with the surgeon, and I am so incredibly thankful that my mommy is able to come with me. In the meantime...have you checked yourself yet??? 😊 God bless!!!
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The past few weeks have been incredibly stressful at the office. This stress was due to a number of causes, but the biggest cause was my office manager continually "yelling" at me for various things that I was unaware I was even doing. Seeing as how no one else seemed to be in agreement with her, I was left feeling incredibly confused most days. It all came to a breaking point last week.
When I went in to work last Friday, I started helping a co-worker get together a list for office supplies. He has never worked the front desk, and was unaware of our need for things like paper clips and toner. My office manager came back and was upset that I was helping him. I apologized, and explained that this is his first time going to get office supplies, and that he does not know what kind of toner we need and how much, etc. My office manager looked at me and said, "Toner?!? Why would we need toner?!?!" I have learned not to explain myself, as it just gets me in more trouble, so I simply said, "I don't know." Then she said she needed to talk to me in her office.
Before I continue, I must mention that words are so tangible. They come across as spoken sound vibrations, but they have the capacity to reach into a soul and do something. They can uplift, soothe, and heal; or they can wreck and destroy. Unfortunately for me, I was about to experience the latter.
Upon arriving in her office, my office manager immediately launched in to full accusatory mode: "Let's talk about Monday. Monday was a disaster. You were here for 8 hours and got NOTHING done. And yesterday [Thursday], again you got NOTHING done. You've been completely unproductive...I don't even know what we're paying you to do anymore!" I sat there, stunned. I have had a lot of coaching and feedback throughout my years (which has been very beneficial), but I have NEVER had anyone question my work ethic. I am the type of person who always gives 110% (well, on an "off" day, I may only give 100%, I am only human), and I had been working my butt off all week (or so I had thought). The sound vibrations from those words felt as though they transformed into a physical slap to my face.
I started to explain what all I had accomplished the past week, but was interrupted with more negative comments related to concerns I had mentioned to her throughout the previous weeks: "You need to STOP HELPING your co-workers; if they don't catch on and learn the job, and if they don't want to be here, then let them go, let them walk out - we don't want them here anyways, we can replace anyone here. You can't care about your co-workers or your patients so much. We will always have a high turnover rate, with new people probably every week, and you need to learn how to deal with it." Now, before I continue on with my story, I will admit that some change is good, and I DO understand that there will be a fair amount of turnover at our office; however, I also know that SOME stability is important! In my business experience (15 years in the workforce HAS taught me a fair amount), high turnover is NOT good. There are plenty of studies and articles that outline the negative effects that high turnover has on a business:
- The shocking cost of turnover in health care
- The cost of turnover: Putting a price on the learning curve
- Turnover rates and organization performance: A meta-analysis
- The long term influence of service employee attrition on customer outcomes and profits
- High employee turnover can affect company performance
- How high employee turnover harms your performance
My biggest problem with this high turnover situation is that in the end, it is my patients who become affected: I have had several patients quit care BECAUSE OF the high turnover rate! That means they are not getting the care they NEED and DESERVE because of something that we CAN work to make better. And that's where my ethics start to get compromised.
She continued on: "The bad thing Dr. T is that you're not mold-able, you're not conforming - we thought you would, and it would be an easy transition. But you're NOT conforming, and we're disappointed. You need to think about if this is really the right place for you...maybe you don't belong here." Ooo, I don't belong...I don't fit it...I was called a disappointment. I have only once in my life had a previous employer tell me they were disappointed in one aspect of my job performance (I did not meet credit card sales goals at a retail job); but never that they were disappointed in who I was. Also, I am all for doing what your employer tells you, but if "conforming" compromises my ethics - then I'm out. I'd even conformed pretty well - keeping on schedule with VERY short appointment times, getting patients scheduled with one of the other docs in the office, following treatment plan outlines, selling things such as decompression packages and supplements and oils and supplies, following up with my patients, etc. But now, as she continued to inform me, I was not conforming in the aspect that I help my co-workers, and I care too much about my patients. I was starting to feel like this:
First of all, you HAVE to be true to yourself, stand up for yourself, and stand up for what you believe in. I believe in genuinely caring about my patients and co-workers, and giving my patients the best care possible. If anything gets in the way of that, then it conflicts with my ethics - and that is unacceptable.
Second, I was being told to conform, and Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing, and perfect will." The pattern of this world is one that values money and prestige - not things that God values. God explicitly states to NOT conform to things that make you uncomfortable, and my whole purpose in life is to follow Him. I will come back to this scripture in my next blog post (which will be about how to seek and find God's will for your life).
While it was a hard decision to walk away from the career I had worked so hard for, God confirmed my answer to leave that Friday morning. All the money and fame in the world is not worth it if I have to compromise who I am and what I believe in. Most people will probably not understand my decision, but I am who I am - a child of God. I'll choose my God, my peace, and my health over every worldly thing, every time.