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'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 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 you guys (well,'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 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 sharp pain!!! OK so you've sat 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 ❤

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tailgate Fundraiser Raffle Items & Door Prizes!!!

Hello all!!!  Thanks for entering my raffle!!!  Ok there are 5 raffle items (packages) to purchase raffle tickets for (down below) Here is all the info on how to enter and win!!! You do not have to be present at the fundraiser to win the raffle items. Door prizes, however, will require you to be present (attend the fundraiser on October 16).  You must enter by noon (12:00 pm) on October 16 to be eligible to win.  Thank you!!! 

Ticket prices:
  • 1 ticket = $5 
  • 2 tickets = $10 
  • 3 tickets = $13
  • 4 tickets = $17
  • 5 tickets = $20 
  • 6+ tickets = Email me at :) 
100% of ticket sales go directly to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer!!! :) 

How to enter:
  • Go here to my Making Strides Against Breast Cancer website, and click on the "Donate Now" link.  Donate the amount you would like tickets for (i.e. 1 raffle ticket = $5, 2 raffle tickets = $10, etc).  Then: 
  • EMAIL ME AT: with the following information:
    1. Your name
    2. Your phone number 
    3. Your address 
    4. How much your donation amount was, and the number of tickets for that amount 
    5. Per ticket, state which raffle package you want that ticket to be entered into (i.e., if you purchase 2 tickets, do you want both those tickets to be for the same raffle item, or 2 different ones?).  

Thank you so much!!!!! 


***NOTE FOR PRIZES: Many have expiration dates, or are only valid certain days of the week!  Some require reservations!!!  Just FYI! :) 

1. Wine Package:
  • KC Wine Co - Complimentary wine flight for winner + 10 guests! 
  • Holy Field Winery - Private wine tasting for group of 20.  Includes wine tasting, cheese, and crackers!  
  • Cooper's Hawk - A group of up to 4 people to enjoy wine tasting with truffles! 
  • Bottle of Tailgate White: A blend of Holy-Field grapes Seyval, chardonel and Aurore offers a balanced sweet wine that anyone can enjoy! 
  • Bottle of Tailgate Red: Holy Field's most popular wine, and for good reason!  A blend of St. Vincent and Chambourcin grapes finished in a semi sweet style.  Paris well with beef, pork, BBQ, or pasta dishes.  
  • Bottle of Holy Field Wine - Chambourcin: A great tasting dry red wine with loads of berry character.  Just the thing for those special pasta or steak dinners! Aged in American Oak for 12-16 months. 
  • Bottle of Holy Field Wine - Vignoles: A golden wine rich with flavors of honey and stonefruits.  A sweet wine that paris well with spicy food, this is truly a great treat!  
  • Package value - $350

2. Royals Sports Fanatic Package: 
  • Royals Scentsy + melts (Dark Harbor) 
  • Royals beer coozies
  • Royals baseball 
  • Royals water bottle  
  • Royals blanket + Rally Mantis 
  • $25 StubHub gift card 
  • Package value - $121 

3. Chiefs Sports Fanatic Package:
  • Chiefs neon sign 
  • Allen Bailey #97 autographed 8x10 
  • Chiefs blanket 
  • Chiefs beer coozie 
  • Chiefs football 
  • Grill Scents + melts (Amazon Rain) 
  • $25 StubHub gift card 
  • Package value - $148 

4. Date Nights for a Year Package:
  • Nick and Jakes - $25 Gift Certificate 
  • Seasons 52 - $52 Gift Certificate 
  • Urban Table - $25 Gift Certificate 
  • BRGR Kitchen + Bar - $25 Gift Certificate 
  • Gram & Dun - $25 Gift Certificate 
  • Taco Republic - $25 Gift Certificate 
  • The Oliver - $25 Gift Certificate 
  • Stock Hill (opening late 2016) - $25 Gift Certificate 
  • Affare - $50 Gift Certificate 
  • Jalepeno's - $25 Gift Certificate  
  • Californo's - $40 off $80 purchase 
  • Ted's Cafe Escondido - Complimentary meal 
  • Package value - $367

5. KC Locals:

  • Zim's Sauce: 12 oz. Bufsas Mild Sauces 
  • Zim's Sauce: 6 oz. Nuksas Hot Sauce 
  • J. Riegers Whiskey 
  • J. Riegers Vodka 
  • J. Riegers Gin 
  • LAKE Candle 
  • 2 Bozz Prints 
  • 1 Bozz Tote 
  • Two Ocean & Sea tees 
  • One Kansas City Ampersand tee
  • Beer Kitchen gift certificate 
  • Sunset Grill gift card 
  • Sporting KC blanket 
  • Package value - $300

DOOR PRIZES: Must be present to win!!!  There may be more, but honestly I can't remember LOL :)

  • $25 QT gift card
  • $25 AMC gift card 
  • $25 Prairiefire gift card 
  • $25 Rock & Brews gift card 
  • $25 Pinstripes gift card 
  • Waterway Car Wash 3-Month Membership ($100) 
  • Ocean & Sea tees 
  • $25 Frankie & Jules gift card 
  • Chasing Fireflies Scentsy Warmer + melts (Shakra) + room spray (World Traveler)  
  • 1st Scentsy Prize: Body Butter (French Lavender) + Scent Circle (Lucky in Love) 
  • 2nd Scentsy Prize: Body Butter (White Tea & Cactus) + Scent Circle (Black Raspberry Vanilla) 
  • $20 Sunset Grill gift card 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sterile Peril!

I've been sitting at my desk this evening, trying to figure out: 1. What I wanted to blog about; and 2. How to start this blog post.  It's been about 10 minutes now, and I still don't have an answer to either question lol, so I'm just going to go ahead and dive in! :)  

There are SOOO many things I've been wanting to blog about recently!  I'll get around to it all at some point...hopefully :)  

Tonight I just want to update everyone (yes, I've been neglecting that too, sorry!!!); but first I want to talk about the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk coming up on October 22...I'm SO EXCITED!!! :D  We walked in the Making Strides walk last year, and (for me anyways) it kind of marked the "kickoff" of my cancer treatment, as my first step in my journey started the following weekend (double mastectomy).  Now, walking this year feels like it will mark the "completion" of my active treatment!  

 If you have not registered yet, please go ahead and do so, so that we can start planning for the right amount of people!  Click here to register, to read about why I'm walking, and why I support the American Cancer Society.  To summarize: No one facing cancer should EVER have to walk alone.  It was AWESOME last year to see all the people who came out to walk, just to support patients with breast cancer...seeing all the love and support helped me feel so much peace about the journey I was embarking on.  Also, fundraising is crucial to keeping the American Cancer Society research programs running (we MUST FIND A CURE!!! And better treatments in the meantime!!!) and all the patient information and support programs (which is critical to cancer patients...made a HUGE difference for me!).  Most importantly, it raises AWARENESS about this horrible disease...there's still not enough awareness out there yet!!!  

Even if you can't make it out for the walk, please join us for the after-party!  I just found out a couple of days ago that my parents are gonna host a party for me, to celebrate me being cancer-free!  (I just got goosebumps as I typed that!).  I didn't realize I had not actually celebrated that awesome news yet, so I am SUPER looking forward to celebrating with all my loved ones!!!  Please let me know if you need info on that, so my mom or I can get it to you.  It will be SOOOO GOOD to celebrate the end of this  very difficult, yet incredibly beautiful, journey that I have been on.  Hope to see you there!!! :D 

Ok so an update on my last post, I detailed the frustrations I was having with my chemo brain.  Since then, I've been doing MUCH, much better, and I am SO thankful for that!!!  Shortly after my last blog post, my oncologist had me stop the Tamoxifen for awhile, and checked my hormone levels (estradiol, FSH, and LH).  My FSH and LH (I won't stop to detail those here, I'll spare you that biology lesson lol) were VERY elevated, which means a couple of things: 1. It can indicate menopause, but my doctor believes I'm just in perimenopause.  Either way, at age 32 that's pretty #awesome!  LOL ;)  2. My fertility should I say this...pretty much shot.  Chemo fried my eggs (L.I.T.E.R.A.L.L.Y.).  When I first heard this, several words came to my mind:  Infertility.  Barren.  Sterile.  Fruitless.  It was kind of a sucker punch right to the gut, and it took my breath away a little bit.  

Even though I've never really desired to have children of my own, I always thought that someday, when I met the right person, I might want to have a family with them.  At the time of my diagnosis, however, I was not in that position.  They had me see a fertility doctor, who explained the costs of freezing eggs; which I'm sure you know is EXPENSIVE.  It was hard for me to rationalize even just entertaining the idea of possibly freezing eggs, when I was: 1. Single!  2. Already in a mountain of debt thanks to student loan awesomeness!  3. Getting ready to acquire some super cool medical bills!  4. Just wanting to save my life!  I'd always felt that I made the right decision, until that moment.  

As he always likes to do, Satan tried to sneak in.  He threw those words into my mind: Infertility.  Barren.  Sterile.  Fruitless.  He spoke convincingly, like I imagine he did to Eve in the Garden of Eden, and was very accusatory.  I heard things like "Now you are less of a woman.  The one thing you were put on this earth to do (reproduce) you cannot do're a failure.  You are officially damaged goods.  Now you will never attract a mate.  No one can love you now."  

Of course, you know how I handled this.  I went home, poured myself a big glass of cabernet, and got out my Bible!!!  

Thankfully, Satan flees when we read the Word, and when we praise God.  James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."  I took this to heart, and I resisted the temptation to give in to the "poor-me's."  It would have been so much easier to just drink the wine, but I'm thankful I didn't settle with that.  As I read scripture and prayed, God held me in his hands.  I cried on his shoulder, but he wiped away every tear.  Unlike the enemy, he spoke softly and gently; whispering words of encouragement.  He reminded me in Ephesians 2:10 that we are not created simply to produce offspring, but that "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  He reminded me that his plan for my life is perfect, that I am fruitful in many other ways, and that (most importantly) he loves me.  

Side note: I have many, many friends who have dealt with infertility, and I absolutely cannot imagine going through that, when it is something you desire so much.  You all know who you are, and I am amazed and inspired by each of your journeys!   

The hormone thing has probably been the wildest thing going on treatment-wise.  As far as chemo goes, I only have about 4 infusions left!!! CRAZY AWESOME!!! :D  I've got a super awesome lymphedma compression sleeve thingie I get to sleep in, it's SUPER poofy (and pink!) but it helps keep the swelling down, so that's awesome!  See pic below for an example (mine is pink though...yay pink! :)  Personally, I'm doing very well.  Family is doing well (now that mom's broken wrist has healed up lol).  Work has been crazy as always, but is going well.  And guess what...I have a boyfriend!  :D  He deserves his own entire blog post, but he is absolutely answered prayer, for sure.  He likes me and accepts me for who I am, short hair and scars and spazziness and chemo-brained and everything!!!  And he's attractive, intelligent, AND hilarious!!!  So to all my single friends: don't lose hope, there ARE ACTUALLY still good guys out there!!! #shockedface   

:)  Thanks for reading ya'll...I'll be back soon!  God bless!!! :)  

I get to sleep in one of these sexy things!  LOL definitely will be cozy in the winter! :D lol 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Chemo Brain...The Struggle IS Real!

This has been a real struggle for me lately. And I wrote this at 4:00 am today, and haven't proofread it because I'm headed to work lol :)  

I used to be sharp, quick-witted, on top of things, and FUN. Maybe I'm wrong lol, but I used to be super fun to be around! Now I feel like a drag. I'm sure I'm not totally a drag, but I just don't feel like "myself" anymore. 

Plus, I used to know (...ok mostly) EVERY SINGLE song title and artist of EVERY SINGLE classic rock song. Now, I'll recognize a favorite tune, and I'm lost  Grasping at fragments of no avail. 

Seriously, did all my knowledge just get fried along with the cancer cells???!???  And how much of it is Tamoxifen, if any???  

I used to love talking and conversing with people. Now, I'm not sure I even know how to have a conversation! Ok I care about this person, but what should I ask them or tell them? And then oh no, they asked me a question...questions are good, but can be a real struggle. 

Very often nowdays, it seems like I can't find an answer. I get paralyzed. It's like I sense that the answers and pieces to answers are up there, but it's as though I cannot find them, grasp them, and use them. Have you ever seen on of those machine thingies at like, a fair or what not that have a chamber you stand in and there's a fan ok the floor and it blows money up all around you, and whatever you can grab onto and keep hold of you get to keep? This is exactly how my brain feels: the bills are my thoughts/memories, swirling around my brain, and I'm desperately trying to grab on to any that I can, hoping it's of value. 

No wonder I'm exhausted by lunch time!

So many things seems so daunting, and I get stuck. Simple, little things like calling to order something, or scheduling an appointment. I think, "how can I do this?" I know I just pick up the phone and call, but then what? Then there will be questions, and I will have to come up with answers. 

And this is where it gets tough. 

Questions are a real struggle for me. I'm finding it increasingly hard to open up and talk to people. I always appreciate it when people ask me questions like "How are you?" and the like, but answering is absolute mental hell for me. And I know HOW CRAZY and dumb it sounds; I'm fully aware of that, which makes it even MORE frustrating. I love that people care about me and ask questions, but why can't I answer them??? What little communication skills I DID have before chemo are long gone, it seems...

Some examples: 
  • How's the swelling in your arm doing? Oh yes, my lymphedema...thankfully it's very slight, but it does cause numbness and tingling sometimes. I'm already sick of wearing the bandaging to bed; I'm very thankful my insurance is covering a custom sleeve! But how is it doing? Um...well...AND THEN I GET STUCK. It's as though my brain can't take knowledge of how my symptoms are today, and how they have been recently, and integrate them to form an answer. So I fumble, I ramble, hate myself, and move on. Lol no I don't hate myself, but it is darn frustrating. And these sleeves and gloves...I mean, as sexy as they are, they're not my FAVORITE daily accessory...
  • How was your date? Hmmm, let me think...(ok, who even has TO THINK ABOUT this??? First dates are usually pretty impressionable...) was I even there?? I remember being there, but how DID it go? What on earth did we talk about? Did we talk?!? Oh yes, because I remember thinking about how...well, how SOMETHING, BUT what??? I'm sorry, what'd you ask me???
  • How do you feel about X,Y,Z? I.e. A movie, musician, person, date, place, etc. Feelings??? What are these feelings you speak of??? I seem to have a vastly diminished capacity for developing new feelings. If it's something I've cared about deeply for a long time, that's still there; but developing new feelings (i.e. dating, new people in general, events and happenings, etc) seems to be something I just don't do anymore. This one is bittersweet though...I used to get excited about so many things in life, even little, simple things. Now, I don't remember the last time was when I was really, truly excited about something. Even when my doc told me I was cleared of cancer, I didn't feel EXCITED, or even super happy. I was pleased, yes, but not ecstatic like I used to get. On the flip side, I used to get soooo worked up about things that upset, not so much (unless it's an insurance company or a crazy patient...that'll still do it). That part I'm VERY thankful for...but I miss excited, Spazzy, goofball, silly crazy Natalie. And I don't know how to get her back.

Now, please note I am not depressed or anything (thankfully). Frustrated, yes, but happy with life and thankful to be alive.  I guess if I had to put one word to how I feel in general, it would be NUMB. I just feel numb. You know how if your hands are numb, and you go to use them (i.e. pick something up, write, etc), it's more of a struggle to use them...that's exactly how my brain feels, ALL THE TIME. I know it's there, and it's working, but I can't quite FEEL it, and I'm just going through previously learned motions. I often feel as though I'm watching myself go through life. It's literally like I am watching myself from behind (and to the right...what's up with that?!? It's the strangest sensation)...there's a feeling of disconnect from both my mind and my body, and I'm not sure how to get everything back on the same page. 

I've been doing good with reading my Bible, but I can definitely sense the Holy Spirit gently reminding me to come rest in His presence, in prayer, to find peace.  

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mastectomy and Radiation Tips

These are things that I came up with that helped me when I was going through treatment, and hopefully they will help you too! If you have any additional tips, please comment below so I can add them. Thank you!!! ❤

  • After mastectomy: Go slowly. Have patience with yourself. Allow yourself to slow down, as tough as it may be. It may take you 20 minutes for your first bathroom run, but don't worry about time; just focus on healing. 
  • Stay on top of the pain meds (as in taking them as prescribed, not waiting extra hours between doses), at least for the first few days. I didn't have too much pain at all while resting, as long as I stayed on top of the meds! I only needed them for less than a week post surgery.
  • Movement is the most painful part, including shifting around, reaching for things, standing and sitting, etc. I was surprised to find that it was more of a burning pain (from nerves being cut) than a sharp stabbing pain. It was honestly intense at times but never more than I could bear, so do not worry too much about the pain because the meds help tremendously. Bracing my chest (basically hugging a heart pillow across my chest as hard as I could) helped TREMENDOUSLY!!!
  • If they wrap you in an ace bandage, watch for skin irritation. If skin irritation occurs, try using some aloe vera on the skin (being careful to avoid any incisions or drain openings). Something else that worked good for me was to wear a tank top or camisole over the bandages, and under the ace wrap. I was scratching several spots on my back.
  • Remember that if you are having a mastectomy with reconstruction, remember that what you see the first time you see your chest with the bandages off is NOT the finished product! While it may scare or disappoint some, remember that you did this surgery because you are strong enough to handle it; you did this because you chose life. And now the cancerous breast(s) are gone.
  • Get a recliner (buy one, borrow one, etc), preferably one with a lift-up feature. The transitions from laying to sitting, and sitting to standing can be very painful, as things shift around as you move. I didn't sit or sleep anywhere other than that recliner for weeks after my surgery. If you're in the Kansas City area, contact me or Google The Healing Chair Kansas City to contact us to sign up for a recliner to borrow after your mastectomy! The girls are great, they deliver it and set it up and when you're done they come and get it! Plus they're amazing women! St. Louis hs a Healing Chair charity too.
  • Connect with other breast cancer survivors. This one is especially important in my opinion, as during the really tough moments I thought of them. Drawing on their strength, and the strength and hope I received from crying out to God, kept me going.
  • Accept and enjoy help. You will most likely have several or more people who want to help you before and after your surgery. This was tough for me, because I always prided myself on being very independent, and being the one to help others. I resisted assistance in every way initially, until a friend (and fellow CA survivor) reminded me that people WANT to help. You may also be surprised, as was I, at how much people really do want to help; especially strangers. Don't reject offers for help; embrace them! I needed helped even feeding myself for the first day or two, so I'm so thankful for my momma!!! ❤
  • Don't get scared about what you will look like. I was terrified to look at my new breasts the first time they took bandages off, but I saw what looked like a regular breast, minus a nipple, and plus an incision. But they were beautiful, and cancer free.
  • Buy oversized button down tops. I bought 2 sizes up, and I am so thankful I did! I allowed myself to splurge on 3 pairs of Victorias Secret pajamas, because I figured they would help me feel pretty after my surgery. I also wouldn't let myself wear them until after surgery, so that that had something to look forward to! Other than getting the cancer out of me, of course ;-)
  • Don't be surprised by odd sensations. I experiences pain, swelling, numbess, tingling, pressure, stiffness, soreness, and even a bizarre "bubbling" sensation at times. Even having studied the nervous system extensively, I was surprised at how many different sensations I would experience in just my breasts after surgery! Even sometimes all within the same day!
  • Heart shaped pillows and drain pouches were my life savers! I had a cousin of mine who wanted to help and is a rock star at sewing make some of these for me, and they were absolutely perfect! I would have been miserable without them!!!
  • I also used a heart shaped pillows to put in the small of my low back at times, when my low back started getting site from sitting around so much. 
  • Ice was my best friend! 20 minutes every couple of waking hours helped take the edge off the pain, swelling, and itching (from under the ace wrap).
  • Keep the drain cords close to body, and be cautions where your walking, and what you lean up against. I.e. don't get your drain cord hooked around a drawer knob, and walk away...only to feel the the pull from the drain site! Lol
  • Keep a blog or journal. It's fun to reflect upon how far you've come. You can do a journal, but blogging allows you to share your journey with as few or as many people as you want. It's also an easy way to help friends and family keep up with you.
  • Dry shampoo, face wipes, and baby wipes were all live savers!
  • Wedge pillows were awesome for under my legs, and for sleeping on after I was done with recliner. 
  • Drain removal - no pain! Only felt something where they insert! So freeing!!!
  • Remember the good and sweet moments. I remember my mom washing my hair in our kitchen sink, patiently waiting for me when I winced in pain. I remember my boyfriend gently washing my fave with a Burts Bee's facial cleansing cloth. These sweet, beautiful moments that many people don't get to experience. When my mom hand fed me at the hospital because it was too excruciating to move my arms.
  • Radiation - I used strictly aloe vera on the entire radiation sites twice per day, and I maintenance a healthy diet (lots of water and vegetables, low sugar and alcohol), and I didn't have any real burns or skin changes until the last week. Be prepared for fatigue, but also for brain fog too! Random symptoms can happen. Oh and make sure it's pure aloe vera gel, not oil or anything! And don't apply it less than 4 hours before a treatment! I also had some itching inside my breast, which benadryl helped with. 
  • After mastectomy, start moving as soon as you can, and as doctors allow. Getting range of motion back in shoulders and stretching out the chest and torso was so helpful in my recovery, and continuing it through radiation was crucial too. Commit to doing stretches EVERY DAY, even of you don't feel tight. Every time I've skipped a day of yoga and stretches, I've felt so tight the next few days! 
  • As with all treatments, REST REST REST!!! 😊😴😪

Friday, July 8, 2016


DISCLAIMER:  I did not proofread this at all.  I typed it quickly, because I wanted to get down in writing and share with YOU that it is all over after today, and to share the Good News.  Please read the whole thing, as I hope and pray God uses it to speak to you!!!  

It finally hit me today, as I was driving.  After today, the bad stuff is all over.  While I know I still have a long road ahead, the hardest part of my journey will be behind me.  The rest of treatment should be much, much easier.  

This past week has been one of the toughest weeks for me.  Yes, I was physically tired, but I was mentally and emotionally exhausted...drained...nothing left.  And it showed, which was the worst part.  I was so tired I couldn't think straight, talk straight, walk straight, NOTHING was right.  Decision making was a lost cause, I couldn't decide on even minor things.  This showed up mostly when I was driving, and at work.  I probably should not have been driving when I got really tired, but (oops) I did.  I've gotten honked at more times in the past week than I have in my entire lifetime!  I remember one specific time I was in the parking lot of the cancer center, and I was backing up.  My head and neck were all cranked around to the right, then to the left, then to the right again...I kept going back and forth, back and forth, trying to figure out if I had cleared the blue minivan behind me (I was in my own little world, and don't remember anything except wondering if I was going to hit that blue van! And I remember thinking it was a dark blue, unlike my friend Georgene's minivan, which was a light blue...).  At some point, I heard a loud HONK behind me, and I am SO THANKFUL that, when it startled me, I didn't hit the gas and hit the van.  I just kept my foot on the brake.  I turned to my left again, and there was some gal (with a full head of hair, mind you) waving impatiently at me.  I waved, and then somehow I got out of there.  No clue how, but I remember I was MAD that I was getting honked at in the CANCER CENTER PARKING LOT!!!  Hello, major chemo and radiation brain here!  I mean, who knows how long I was sitting there, trying to figure this "puzzle" out, but she didn't have to wave at me like I was an idiot.  

And I think that is what sums it up for the week.  I felt like an IDIOT; a moron, stupid, and slow, which made me frustrated and ANGRY.  Not angry at the cancer or anything really, but that I couldn't be super woman and just fly through radiation with no side effects.  

Which kinda sounds like how I felt towards the end of chemo, eh?

I was still feeling angry (and EXHAUSTED) this morning as I was driving around (scary haha).  Then a song came on the radio, and it broke me.  The melody and the lyrics smashed right through what had become a hard shell, where I had just shut down my emotions and care for pretty much everything (and it's amazing how fast we can build that up).  Here's a link to the video with lyrics if you want to hear it (it's BEAUTIFUL).  I recommend you listen to it, even if you don't read the rest of the's one of the most beautiful and moving songs EVER (and, as my best friend and family know, music moves me as it is lol).  It wasn't until the music and lyrics of the chorus that it all overwhelmed me and I broke down, as for the first time in my life I fully realized the full power of the cross (I had to pull over actually lol); but here are the full lyrics with the chorus in highlighted:

My heart hangs on every word
That you speak
I need you, Lord
Come Find Me
Holy Spirit, breathe
I've been walking through deserts
I need more of your presence
I'm weak
Savior, be my strength

Down in the valley, when waters rise
I'm still believing, hope is alive
All through the struggle and darkest day
I'll remember the empty grave

Your touch
Bringing me closer
Your hand
Healing what's broken
My prayer
Father, meet me here
My life for all of your glory
Your grace, let it surround me
Let faith change the atmosphere 

Hallelujah, death is done
All of hell is overcome
Jesus, You are alive
Hallelujah, death is done
All of hell is overcome

Oh my Jesus You are alive 

So, if you've listened to it, I hope it was at least somewhat as powerful for you as it was for me (or at least enjoyable).  

I've always appreciated and been thankful for Jesus and his death on the cross, but I've only understood it in an intellectual sense (Tiffany and Erin, we were JUST TALKING about this Monday! lol); I've never fully appreciated it in an emotional way.  But wow...when we fully realize what He did for us, and we REMIND OURSELVES DAILY of the empty grave, it's life changing.  He conquered death when he died on the cross, and rose again three days later.  This isn't just fact; it's our story - mine AND yours.  He conquered death before I even faced the possibility of death with my cancer diagnosis.  He conquered death before I even knew I had had cancer;, and He overcame death so that I could fully live during my cancer treatment; and even if I didn't make it through treatment, I STILL WOULD NOT FACE DEATH.  Physical death, perhaps; but never spiritual death.  

And He did all that for me.  And FOR YOU.  Even as we continue to sin against Him.  WHAT A GIFT!!!  

Anyways, it also it hit me that even when I was searching for hope, reassurance, and strength from my doctors, my family, my friends, and others, I never realized until today they could never provide me what I needed this past week, no matter what I was going through.  And I was frustrated with that, and worried that I would never "snap out of it" I never fully turned to Him and fell into His arms, letting Him carry me.  I did GREAT at this before my surgery; but not this past week.  Only He can provide me with that.  Only HE can provide with so many things that we look to others for in this world.  ALSO, I realized that when I was down in the deepest, darkest parts of the vally, and the water was literally drowning me (after surgery when the pain was exruciating, when I honestly believed I would not physically make it through the last round of chemo, and this past week when I was honestly not sure if I was awake, asleep, or dead), HE WAS WITH ME.  And while I believe for and had hope, I didn't realize that hope IS ALIVE.  It is alive and well, and it is alive and MOVING in our lives.  I am so thankful that through all my struggles and darkest days, He remained with me.  Even when I didn't turn to Him, and when I've forgotten to thank Him, and when I've sinned again him, He is with us; LITERALLY with us, through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  

Again, what a gift.  

Also, at the same time (this was the most overwhelming emotional experience I've ever had; it actually topped the moment I received my cancer diagnosis.  In the moments after hearingmy diagnosis, I feared death.  Since that point, I've never really feared death [thanks Mom! :)], but as I've come to the end of the this "hard" treatment, I've been wondering how may "cancer free years" I will hasn't bothered me much, but it's been in the back of my mind), it hit me that this is the end of the tough stuff...IT'S ALL OVER AFTER TODAY!!!  

And He has been by my side the whole time, and I needn't have EVER feared death. He reminded me that he will be with me as I head, and throughout EVERYTHING else in life.  

Ok I have to go to treatment now, so I will end this here...I am still in tears, but they are tears of INCREDIBLY JOY.  I've never experienced such powerful JOY before, but I hope and pray that you all do.  It is beautiful, and I find myself changed yet again.  

THANK YOU again for reading.  God bless.  

Down in the valley, when waters rise
I'm still believing, hope is alive
All through the struggle and darkest day

I'll remember the empty grave

Monday, July 4, 2016

More than Fireworks


It seems that everything is a 
little sweeter once you've been affected by cancer.  
Letters and notes from friends are more meaningful, rainy days are still considered beautiful, and smiles from strangers are more powerful.  

In the same spirit, I am more thankful than ever today to celebrate Independence Day! 
Memorial Day was also more meaningful for me this year.  

I am so thankful to live in a country where we can pretty much do as we please; land of the free because of the brave; and I am super thankful for those who founded this country and for those who have served and fought to keep it.  Because of them I am free to do so many things that millions of others around the world cannot do.  
I am free to write and publicly share my thoughts, feeling, and opinions (I love that first amendment!).  I am free to work at a job I love, with people I adore, and spend time with family and friends.  I am free to seek and receive treatment for cancer and any other ailments.  I am free to worship God and openly express my love and gratitude for Jesus Christ, without fear of consequences.  Just as we find freedom in Jesus, we find freedom here in America; thank God for both of those!

Regardless of politics, opinions, and the upcoming election, I hope and pray that we all just celebrate this day for what it is, and remember how we got here.  Oh, and STAY SAFE!!!  God bless, and Happy 4th of July!!!  :)