Through Thick and Thin

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sara Bareilles, Cyndi Lauper, Hoda Kotb’s ‘Truly Brave’ Music Video | TODAY

Monday, November 3, 2014

Today I happened upon this beautiful piece.  We all know that October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I mean really, how can you miss it?  Pink is everywhere!  But did you know that it is also National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?  I happened upon this emotionally charged video made with the encouragement of breast cancer survivor Hoda Kotb and the talents of Sara Bareilles and Cyndi Lauper. It is their goal to raise awareness and funding for childhood cancers. Grab a tissue and sit a spell.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Another six month oncology follow-up is in the books! It began with the usual assessment of vital signs, review of medications, and a brief discussion about "minnie paws". Warning signs of  recurrent cancer and a thorough inspection of both breasts and surrounding lymph nodes was completed.  My nurse practitioner explained that because my cancer was DCIS stage zero there is only a rare chance that it would ever recur.  We did revisit my family history of breast, colon, and skin cancers and I made note of when my screening colonoscopy and MRI are due.

I remember one of my doctors briefly touching on the debate about DCIS when I was diagnosed. My own research at the time uncovered the controversy. Some argue that DCIS is merely an abnormal pathology result that indicates cell mutations or changes which are not yet malignant therefore not cancerous. Others label it a malignancy stage zero. My doctors had made it very clear they considered it a malignancy as did my pathology reports. My care team was worried it had spread due to the size indicated on my MRI and the fact that there were no abnormalities on the prior mammogram.  My cells had not only changed rapidly but had spread throughout the duct. They all  three, oncology, general surgeon, and plastic surgeon, suggested I opt for aggressive treatment by having both breasts removed. Chemotherapy was not suggested because there was no cancer detected in the biopsied lymph nodes. Surgery was considered my cure.

Because DCIS stage zero had just been addressed I decided now was a great time to inquire about the debate.  My NP explained that this institution follows the federal guidelines and standards for the treatment of DCIS which considers it a cancer.  Although many times DCIS does not spread outside the duct system it certainly can. She went on to explain that cancer is all about mutating cells and that DCIS, when biopsied, shows changing cells, therefore it is considered a cancer but stage zero. My biopsy was listed as a carcinoma with atypical hyperplasia /changing cells in nearly all parts of the surrounding tissues. I told her that my surgeon was quite concerned about the size of the area viewed on my mammogram as well as the measurements from my MRI.  He had let me know before surgery that metastases were very possible. Therefore I had absolutely no qualms with aggressive measures involving bilateral mastectomy. Besides, in my own mind I had always said if I was ever diagnosed I would not settle for a lumpectomy or single mastectomy. Aggressive treatment was the only treatment for me!

Upon leaving the exam room I was flooded with emotions. I felt immensely blessed to have a clean bill of health and hopefully a long life ahead. However the survivor guilt hit hard and I fought back  tears as I set up my next appointment. I scanned the waiting room and noted wigs and turbans, those with support systems present and those without. I headed to the restroom to compose myself and once out the door I sat in my car and prayed for those still on their journeys. I thanked God for getting me to the place I am today. Next I whispered one more prayer for a friend who was newly diagnosed and was in surgery at that very moment. It's amazing how a very positive appointment can end up making one feel completely drained!

As October winds down and the pink starts to fade please take a moment to review your health history.  Look up when your last physical occurred and take measures to schedule scans and testing that is appropriate for your age and gender.  We can never be too careful.  Early detection of all kinds saves lives!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

One week into Breast Cancer Awareness month and pink is everywhere!  I love how a simple color raises awareness in young and old alike. Today I am sharing a poem written by my teenage neighbor. Chase has graciously given me permission to post this work which he wrote about a year ago. Very sad but very touching.  Thank you Chase for allowing me to post this!

                                                              Breast Cancer

                                                                 Chase Snethen

                                                   As that pink ribbon lay upon her tomb,
                                                     everyone gathered to pray in gloom.
                                                      Once a woman so strong and free,
                                                         was so abruptly taken from me.

                                                   The tears they flowed down to my chin,
                                                    her once little buddy, I was her only kin.
                                                       This beautiful woman who I adore,
                                                was ripped from me with breast cancer , stage 4.

                                                   The news came to me through the phone,
                                                  from deep down inside I could feel a groan.
                                                      Her face was wet with all her tears,
                                                      as she came to realize all her fears.

                                                   This bad dream had now come to life,
                                                    as her husband had lost his lovely wife.
                                                   A poor young child now with no mother,
                                                      to them, there will never be another.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What a beautiful day to share a story about a young woman I met while on my journey.  Leanna and I were sitting in the office of our plastic surgeon, just the two of us.  She struck up conversation and we soon discovered we had both undergone reconstruction, but for completely different reasons. She spoke very frankly and educated me on women known as young "previvors". Our conversation came to an abrupt end as we were each called to exam rooms.  Upon leaving the office I heard someone call out "hey wait!'  I turned around and it was Leanna wanting to finish sharing her story.  Since then we have remained in contact via Facebook and she has graciously given me permission to share her story with all of you.

Previvors are women who are found to carry genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer who decide to prevent female cancers by taking aggressive measures such as removing all their female organs. By doing this they do not have to become survivors of female cancers, they "previve." Leanna refers to PBM-prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. She also refers to her new "foobs" or fake boobs! The term seroma refers to a collection of fluid under the skin that often develops after surgery.  Please take a moment to read her story to learn more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 17, 2014

Are you kidding me??? June first since my last post???  Well there is a reason for issue after computer issue and finally biting the bullet for a new hard drive. All is well now! Planning to keep this post a catch up one.

Summer has come and gone. We survived graduation, moving two kiddos to college, and the beginning of "empty nesting". There has been a few camping weekends as well as some great family time with more forthcoming.  The summer weather has been incredibly cool and very wet.  In fact there have been days I thought I was going to melt down if I didn't see the sun soon. After such a long winter we ALL need to see the sun and it's been very elusive.

In between times Brody has joined the University of Indianapolis football team as a walk on, #93!!! As a Freshman he won't play at all. (I think they have 7 kickers). He is perfectly great with that and enjoys the work outs, team bonding, and study tables. Fortunately he loves the structure and it keeps him very busy. He will not travel to any away games but will dress for home ones. As long as he is happy so are we! Go Greyhounds!!! So far he has adjusted very well to college life, living in a confined space (at home his room was huge, the largest in the hose), and seems to have made tons of new friends already. The fact that he has had no major adjustment issues has made our transition to an empty nest easier. Molly dog however periodically circles the kid's rooms just making sure they have not sneaked back in without her knowledge. :(

Kinsey is all settled into a campus apartment with her same roomie and one new one. All is well in their world.  Kinsey has started volunteering at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. She life guarded all summer, has plenty of babysitting experience, and hopes to practice art therapy focusing in the area of pediatrics. Of course Riley is the perfect fit for her! She has only spent one Friday with the children so far and was placed in the neuro/ transplant unit. Needless to say the tubes and wires she saw coming from everywhere on these children left a lasting impression. She LOVED it and can't wait to go back this Friday. Riley has a great art therapy program so this should be an excellent stepping stone.

As for me and Brad, well it's been different. My dad kept me busy from March through August with constant heart problems. Knock on wood I think we have him regulated and he is doing great. It has been wonderful not having every minute of every day planned and there have been times we have looked at one another and said "What on Earth are we going to do today?"  I have been a Pinterest recipe making fool. We have enjoyed some of the niece's and nephew's activities and have more on our calendar. Weekends are still super busy which is fine.  Our 25th wedding anniversary is coming up as well as my 30th class reunion and Brad's parent's 50th wedding anniversary so things will pick up I'm sure.

My health has been just fine. Brad had a couple episodes that really concerned me. Since he has a history of TIA,( transient ischemic attack, better known as a mini stroke), off to the doctor he went. He has undergone enough testing he should glow quite well for some time. All has been normal so we are most grateful for that!!!

As the autumn leaves begin to turn and the chill is in the air may you enjoy some quality time with family and friends, with campfires, football, and comfort food.  I will catch up soon with some helpful information to pass along. In the meantime Go Hounds!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June 1, 2014

Commencement 2014!  The time simply flew by and our baby is officially considered a college Freshman. Brody entered this world two weeks early at a whopping 8 pounds 6 ounces. He was an excellent baby from the start cooing tons in the hospital and smiling early on. His infectious smile made many a stranger comment on his personality. Now he is our almost 6 foot handsome fella who has had quite the successful high school career. He has won plenty of athletic awards, has graduated with an academic honors diploma, and was awarded cords for being in the National Honor Society as well as the Spanish National Honor Society. On Senior awards night he made us even prouder by bringing home multiple scholarships!  We couldn't be prouder!!! Brody plans to attend the University of Indianapolis along side his sister and study kinesiology and then apply for entrance into the physical therapy program. Congrats Brody on all your hard work and accomplishments!  We love you lots!!!



May 12, 2014

Just a bit behind here.  After my general surgeon follow ups were my oncology 6 month visit on April 22nd and then my plastic surgeon one year follow up on May 12th.  Oncology was all good, just keep doing what I am doing and return in 6 months. My plastic surgeon was able to see the settling the left breast has done since surgery. I had called and let them know I had a sunken area months ago. That area remains near the top and it's pretty obvious that the implant has shifted downward. He lifted it a bit manually to show how if he surgically lifted it it would help fill in that sunken area somewhat. No thanks, I'm done with surgeries for awhile. It isn't noticeable in my clothing so I see no need to fix it.  I suggested that we wait until my three year MRI to check the implants. If he sees any issues then maybe we can go in and make that adjustment. I have not the time, the money, nor the desire to undergo another surgical procedure. However I do very much appreciate that he is a perfectionist and wants to make sure all his patients are completely satisfied. He did take photos at this stage to have on record.