Sunday, February 28, 2016

First: Rant. Second: Fun!

First:  Rant.  

As I approach my fifth (and second to last!) round of heavy chemo, I'm anxious.  Nervous.  Scared. This fourth round was tough; a lot tougher than I expected.  I knew that as my toxicity levels increase, my symptoms will increase; but I did not expect it to be THAT much worse than my third cycle.  In the scheme of things, it was not that awful; but what scares me is knowing that I have two more doses of that heavy stuff.  And that each one will most likely be worse.  I know I can handle it, I know I will get through it, but it is the going through it that scares me so much.  

I've also started feeling frustrated with it all.  Mostly the constant nausea (and occasional vomiting), mouth pain and sores (this time my throat got mega irritated also), ever-increasing fatigue (the intermittent insomnia helps, hah), body aches and pains, skin discolorations and rashes and splitting, nosebleeds (which thankfully are not painful, just more of a nuisance), and lately my fingernail tenderness has been really making me frustrated.  My nails are often just straight up painful...if I bump my nail or even just the finger, even the slightest bit, it sends shock-like pain through my entire hand.  I can't scratch an itch (which is probably a good thing, because I would probably shred my delicate skin lol!), open containers, and even writing and typing sometimes bother them.  If I do try to scratch my skin or use my nails, it feels as though they are lifting off of the nail bed...literally like they are about to pop right off!  Creepy!!!  And while I do think it is kind of cool how there are what I call "chemo-cycle lines" in my nails (like tree rings!), my pinky nails have started darkening.  For some reason, losing my nails freaks me out more than losing my hair or any of the other gross or annoying things.  I don't know why, maybe because I've never seen anyone who has lost a nail, but it's got to look creepy and just...WRONG!  LOL like what the heck does a freshly-uncovered nail bed look like?!  I could Google it, but I won't...I SHOULD remember from grad school, but my (and yes, this is my favorite excuse!) chemo brain isn't letting me recall many things! ;)  

Aside from the physical junk, I just feel so off...I just don't feel like myself.  I feel like I am disconnected from myself, like I'm just not me.  I'm so thankful my family, friends, and coworkers all still put up with me, because I feel like I'm a really crappy version of myself lately!  I know everyone is understanding, and hopefully none of them perceive me that way, but ugh I just want to feel like myself again!  I am so thankful that I will feel like myself relatively soon, and that I only have a few more weeks of this stuff.  

Second: FUN! :D 

But in the midst of all this crap, I've been fortunate to have had a lot of good times over the past few weeks!!!  I've gone out to lunch with friends and have done some shopping which is always fun, and gets me up and moving!  I've also got some cute new clothes to wear this spring and summer, and every girl loves having new clothes to look forward to wearing! :)  While part of me feels guilty that material things such as new clothes excite me, another part of me knows that I need to do everything I can right now (within reason, of course) to give myself all the motivation and excitement about the future that I can get!  

Last week I found out that I was chosen to be a Portrait of Hope for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program, which I'm super excited about!!!  Basically I get to share my story and talk about various things with the media and at Making Strides events and what not. I will find out more in the next few weeks, but I am so excited to share my story on a larger platform, and hopefully encourage and inspire many more people!  When Claire McCaskill announced her diagnosis last Monday, I was able to talk to Fox 4 about my story, and I had a BLAST talking with Abby Eden!  She is an absolute DOLL!  Click HERE for the link for the article and news clip if you want to see it!   

I also got to go talk to the Olathe East girl's basketball team, who raised enough money for more Healing Chairs!!!  They are an AWESOME group of girls, and I was so blessed meeting them!  

Surrounded by amazing women!!!

Talking to the girls, and my Italian blood is coming out!!!  LOL!  

Yesterday my mom hosted a little craft party, and some family and friends came over and we had a BLAST!!!  Oh my, so much food and fun and craftiness, I slept soooo good last night lol!!!  We made these super cute Easter wreaths (ok, well, I'm STILL working on mine...haha), and it was so nice to hang out and talk and laugh with everyone!!!  

 Work in progress!  

This little blue one still cracks me up, LOL!!!   

I also got to see Newsies Thursday night, which I HIGHLY recommend, it's awesome!!!  And thanks again Ashlea for taking me!!!  :D  So all in all, life is good...I'm so thankful to be alive, and enjoying this beautiful life that God has given me (and this beautiful weather as well!).  Thanks again for all your prayers, love, and's still what's keeping me going!!!  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Devotion Time Blues and a Makeup Review!

There are many authors I love, but one that I regularly thank God for is Lysa TerKerust.  The current Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study is on her book "Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl," and just like all of Lysa's books, I find myself wanting to highlight and remember virtually every single sentence.  The chapter I read today, "Devotion Time Blues," reminded me of why I need to make it a top priority to spend time with God each and every morning.

For a couple of months now, I have felt that it is of utmost importance to put on all my makeup every morning.  I think that if I feel good about how I look (less like a cancer patient, and more like the 32 year old fun-loving gal I am), then I will feel good about myself and my day will go smoothly.  While I do believe that it's important to feel good about ourselves, including how we look, it's even more important to remember how we look and feel inside.  I can paint on eyebrows, put mascara on my sparse eyelashes, highlight and contour and do whatever all else I want to try and look pretty; but if I do not feel pretty on the inside, then it doesn't matter if I'm bald or a beauty queen.  Or a bald beauty queen!  Spending time with God, and His word, every single morning is crucial to not only surviving the day, but enjoying it as well.  

***On a (very important) side note, I discovered an AMAZING eyebrow line, Anastasia Beverly Hills.  A patient recommended this last week, and I picked some brow powder up at Ulta last night and it is literally AMAZING (see pics down below!).  Definitely get this duo angle/spooley brush with it too (spooley is my new favorite word!).  This little thing should last years, I hardly used any of it and my brows looked fab!  I'm glad it was way easier than a pencil to apply and get a natural looking brow.

Some quotes from the chapter (these are my faves, I could have quoted the entire chapter!):

  • "Why is it so important to spend time with Jesus every day?  Because He will give us the exact instruction and comfort we need to handle all He sees coming our way - how to act and, even more challenging, how to react in every situation.  It is the perfect measure of His peace, packaged up just for us.  With great expectation, we can stick it in our pocket and carry it with us.  Instead of being slaves to our emotions and reacting based on our feelings, we can remain victoriously peaceful no matter what."  
  • "It seems like such an elementary thing to state that we should spend time with Jesus and read the Bible every day...but it's amazing how I'll sit down to do this and suddenly a million urgent action items flood my brain.  Suddenly it's so tempting to answer an email, throw in a load of laundry, write out a grocery list, and start getting my day in order.  However, if I fail to get my heart in order first, I am guaranteeing myself a misplaced attitude that day.  Hands down.  Without exception.  If I don't spend a time with Jesus, my reactions will be harsher, my perspectives a little more self-centered, my emotions a little more on edge, and my tongue a little less grace-filled."  
  • "Oh, how we underestimate the power made available to us when we spend time with God.  Our earthly eyes are so limited because they don't allow us to see what is happening in the heavenly realm.  A daily battle is being fought for our attention and our devotion.  Satan would love nothing more than to keep us separated from the power God gives us during our time with Him.  It's time to stop feeling guilty and ill-equipped and start embracing the incredible privilege to meet with Jesus every day."  
  • "There are many ways I can choose to react when things happen each day.  I can choose the way of 'It's my right to be frustrated.'  I can choose the way of 'Doesn't anyone listen to me around here?'  I can choose the way of ' Do you know how this makes me feel?'  Or, I can choose to let God teach me His way.  My way leads to all kinds of runaway feelings that pull me away from the truth and into an absolute pit of yuck.  His way leads to calmly finding a solution without all the anger and frustration.  His way leads to me being able to extend grace - the same grace I so desperately need myself.  And His way leads me to the truth."  
And now for more pictures!  :)  Have a blessed week ya'll!!!

Before brow magic (I found pink ribbon cider!!!)

After brow magic (aren't we cute?!)

This cookie is so cute and sparkly, I had to share!  And the plate was cool too!!!  The host of the part is a graphic designer, so everything looked cool! :D   

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Round #3, In Pictures :)

This blog is mostly pictures - yay for those who don't like to read!!!  (AKA my beloved boyfriend :)

This round was, again, different from the one before it!  Lots more nausea this time (still not horrible, thankfully), and my hands that had started cracking have started bleeding.  I've started sleeping with vinyl gloves on, over layers of lotion and vaseline!!!  Thanks Mom for the tip, it seems to be helping, yay! :D  

Last week left hand:

This week left hand (ouch!): 

But thankfully my nails still look awesome!!!

My BFF came out to hang at my last treatment (thank you Ashlea!!! :D ):

Ashlea also took me to the KU vs UK game last weekend, which was a BLAST!  We even went dancing afterwards, woot woot!!!  


It was LOUD and HOT but FUN!!!  This is the decibel meter!  

Of course, I had to go shopping for a cute KU shirt before the game: 

I could've passed for a player, right?!  I loved this jersey-shirt, but it was too scratchy :-/ 

A delicious meal, HOME MADE pasta, brought by a beautiful survivor friend!  

A pretty pattern on a chilly morning:  

A GORGEOUS looks like the sky is on fire!  Amazing!  

Coffee at my favorite coffee house with Dad!  

 A beautiful plant from a referral office, that led to meeting another beautiful survivor!  

A chicken and cheese meal my brother cooked for me, and I LOVE the face that came in the cheese!!!  LOL!   
He also had us over to his apartment and cooked amazing brussels sprouts!!!  With chicken :)  And we got to play with his and Sarah's adorable new cat Pippin!!!

A beautiful sunset!

My buddy, always full of snuggles when I get home from chemo!  

All in all, the past few weeks have been a blast!  I've also gotten to hang out with other friends (thank you Katie for FINALLY introducing me to The Goldbergs - HILARIOUS!) and my coworkers (yay margaritas!!!  Love you guys! :).  Round #4 is this coming Friday...bring it on!!!  Hope you all are having a blessed weekend :) <3