Dee's Diary

My journey with breast cancer
A day by day diary
 
Jan 2009 – Thanks to my husband, David, I started doing regular breast self-exams after I found a lump in my breast several years ago. When I was doing a breast self-exam in January 2009, I noticed an unusual lump. This one felt different than the other lumps that I had in the past. The other lumps felt squishy. This one felt like a little rock or pebble. Every month, I’d have my husband feel my lumps as well. I had him feel this one, and he told me to make an appointment with my doctor. 
 

Feb 4, 2009 – I had my appointment with my ob/gyn. I was sure she’d say I had nothing to worry about. She felt the lump, and told me, “Yes, it does feel different.” She set me up for an ultrasound on my breast and my very first mammogram.

 

Feb 11, 2009 – I had the ultrasound and mammogram today. I had the mammogram first. Mammograms HAD to be invented by a man! (ha ha) If you’ve had one, you’d know what I was talking about. If you haven’t, just wait. It IS a JOY! When women tell you they squish your boobs like pancakes, they are NOT exaggerating! But, I figured, I was doing this for the “good” of my breasts (not knowing that they would really tick me off later in life!). After the mammogram, I had my ultrasound. That wasn’t so bad. Just a bunch of gook put on your breast and they take images of what is inside your breast. Just like they do with a baby…

 

Feb 12, 2009 – I got a call from the doctor. My lump (rock) looks “mysterious.” Now they want me to come in for a biopsy. That was a scary call, but thousands of women go through this, right? And, most of them end up ok. I’ll just do what I have to do.

 
Feb 12, 2009 to Feb 22, 2009 – Let’s just get this biopsy done! I’m tired of worrying about it! It’s probably nothing anyway! Stop being such a worry wart!
 
 
Feb 14, 2009 - Dave got me the movie, "Fireproof" for Valentine's Day! He is so thoughtful!

 

Feb 23, 2009 – Biopsy day! This is, in no way, FUN. I hate, yes, hate needles. I got to the doctor’s office (my husband in tow), and they informed me that I didn’t need ONE biopsy…….I needed 2! Yippee! No one told me that on the phone! So, I undressed, threw the scrub on over me, and revealed my boobs so they could poke them. First, the “bad lump” that I knew about. The doctor stuck a small needle into my skin to numb it, then she stuck another needle into my skin further down to numb the rest. I am not kidding when I say whatever was in that needle made my nipple sting! OUCH! I know, sissy. Did I tell you I hate needles? After THAT part of my breast was numb, they stuck the biopsy machine wand in there to get a sampling of the lump. They pushed and tugged and pulled. Then, it was over. On to the NEXT lump, my surprise lump. The procedure went the same way, but when they went in to the lump, it burst! Yeah, a cyst! That, apparently, was good news. At least I left the same way I came in…worrying about ONE lump!

 

Feb 24, 2009 – I got the call while I was at work the next day. The lady on the phone said, “we got your test results back. We found a 20 mm mass. It is cancer.” Cancer? What? Am I hearing this right? I am only 33 years old! This is not happening to me! I immediately freaked out on the phone. I Felt like I was going to hyperventilate. Cancer? The woman contacted a surgeon to have them call me so that we could get the ball rolling on what to do next. I had to close my office door and break down. I was scared and confused. Am I going to die? I have so much to live for…and so much planned. This isn’t fair! I finally calmed down a bit. My boss had walked in on me at the time. So, he was the first to find out. He got more than he bargained for. All he wanted to do was hand me a paycheck! He was very understanding and supportive though. The next person that found out was my husband. David immediately went into support mode. He calmed me down, told me it would be ok, and told me we’d do what we had to do to get through this. I needed that calm voice to get me through this heartbreaking news. He is my rock, and he started, right then, putting the pieces together for me. At that point, I got off of the phone with him and got my stuff together to go home, still visibly upset. I told a few more colleagues/friends what was going on, and received wonderful support. Two of my friends wanted to drive me home. They refused to take no for an answer. My good friend, Jennifer, said to me, “Reanna, you are not Super Woman. You can’t do everything all of the time. Let someone take care of you for a change. You’re going to need to learn how to do that.” She is a wise woman, but sometimes could use her own advice! When I finally got home, my husband had already called my mom and she was there waiting with him. I was ok at this point. Ok, maybe I wasn’t. I was really trying to be strong for everyone else. I didn’t want to break down. My hubby had also called my best friend, Melanie, to give her a heads up to what was going on, and he also called his family. He wanted everyone to be prepared. The rest of the evening was a blur. My father finally came over and we all went to dinner that night. We barely talked about the “evil” that was inside of me. Thank goodness, my husband was able to take off of work that night. He had already planned on it when he heard the news. He knows me. I needed him that night, crying on his chest. Finally, I went to sleep.

 
Feb 25, 2009 – I worked from home this day. I needed the time to regroup. I cried a lot. My husband was home, so once he got up from bed, I was able to spend time with him. We had to go get my images from the mammogram and ultrasound so that we could take them to my next appointment. Then, we went to eat at Qdoba…where I broke down again. Good grief, this crying thing was already getting old…but I just couldn’t help myself. I just couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. When we talked about it, my husband said, “God had a plan.” I was trying to understand what that plan was…but I may never know that. Was it to make me a stronger person? Was it to bring Dave and I even closer? Was it to bring my family closer? Was the reason for me to touch other people’s lives with my story? I was trying to accept the fact that this was happening, and deal with it. I started praying around this time. First, I felt guilty about praying. It’s like calling a “friend” when you need them…not when you are just thinking about them. I hadn’t regularly prayed for a while (except I did pray on occasion in bed for God to keep my husband safe during his job. He is a police officer and works overnight). But, I prayed, and prayed, and prayed….heck, I’m still praying. I pray for strength, for courage, for my LIFE, and for the well-being of everyone else that I care about.
 

Feb 26, 2009 – We had an appointment with a surgeon today. My husband, my mom and I went together. I needed all of the support and ears I could get. He told me the mass was invasive, which means the cancer was already out of the mass and into the breast tissue. It was also high grade cancer, which means it is faster moving. BUT, we were still waiting on the rest of the pathology reports to find out the TYPE of cancer and the stage that it is in. He laid the rest of it out for us. He said I would definitely need chemotherapy. He said there were 3 options, a lumpectomy (where they go in, remove the mass, and tissue around it), a mastectomy, or a bilateral mastectomy (you lose both breasts). He said it was completely up to me, but when he was personally asked, he suggested  bilateral mastectomy. Yes, it’s easy for a man to say. Ask him if he wants to lose his testicles! See what he has to say then! (Ha Ha) But, he had a good point, I thought. He said, “you are 33 years old, obviously there is something wrong with you getting breast cancer at such an early age, if you don’t want the fear of reoccurrence, this is what I would do.” At least, he said something like that. It was all a blur to me. The surgeon wanted to make sure I didn’t have more lumps in my breasts, so he set me up for an MRI for the next week. After that, he sent me (and my husband and mom) with a Norton Cancer Coordinator, who was a Godsend. She calmed us all, answered questions, walked us through what was happening in my body, gave me books, and hooked me up with the Young Survivors group. That day, I began talking to young breast cancer survivors. It was a relief to know there were people out there, my age, who I could talk to who had been through and understood what I was going through. Thank you God, for these people in my life (and Dave, and my family, and my friends). I am a lucky person to have the support that I have got.

 

Feb 27, 2009 – I went back to work today. I knew it would be an emotional day. As soon as I walked in, people started coming my way. I explained to a group what was going on, what I knew and didn’t know…and then, they prayed for me.

 

Sat, Feb 28, 2009 – I Cried in the shower and cried when I brushed and dried my hair. Then, I tried to forget and enjoy my day with my husband and friends. I was able to “not think about this evil growing inside of me” for a while, then, in front of my husband and friends, I cried at dinner. I felt a little better after that, and we had some fun. Talking, playing games, etc. Of course, we all had a few drinks, which helped a little…until things got serious. For the first time since I was diagnosed, Dave and I cried together. Our friends, Melanie and Kevin, supported us through it.

 

Sun, Mar 1, 2009 – I started accepting the fact that I had cancer. Now, is the time that I couldn’t accept that it would change everyone’s lives, not just my own. I hate the fact that people will have to take care of me. I feel helpless, out of control, I don’t want to be a burden to my husband, my family, and my friends. This is a terrible way. I know they don’t feel burdened, but I am just not one to ask for help. I talked to my husband about it. He was upset that I felt this way.

 

Mon, Mar 2, 2009 – This was the first day that I didn’t cry since I had been diagnosed. OK, I got tears in my eyes a couple of times, but I didn’t sob like other days.

 

Tues, Mar 3, 2009 – I had the breast MRI today. They put an IV in me to put dye in me. The room was really cool, and I had to lay on this thing and put my boobs in the middle of it. I was there quite a long time. The machine was really loud. They let you listen to music as it is going on, but all I could really hear was the machine.

 

Wed, Mar 4, 2009 – We are awaiting the biopsy results and MRI results. Meanwhile, Dave and I met with the breast reconstructionist. He was great. It’s the first time EVER -that I felt like I got my co-pay’s worth! We were at the office for 2 hours! The “breast man,” I’ll call him, explained the entire process to us, from beginning to end, whether we were getting the lumpectomy or the mastectomy. It was hands on too. He showed us what was going to go in me. He explained, that if we decided on a lumpectomy, if the surgeon had to take 20% or more of the breast, it would be hard to reconstruct. Also, with a lumpectomy, you’d likely have to have radiation, which would make the reconstruction even worse. Some women are happy with these results, but the doctor said he wasn’t. Then he explained what happened with a mastectomy. To keep a long appointment short, the surgeon “takes off” the breasts, then the reconstructionist takes it from there. Extenders would be put under my chest skin so that they could stretch the skin so that I could eventually have implants. I would have to go back in a week at a time to have them “pumped up.” The process would take 3 to 4 months, but if I was doing chemo, it could take longer. This doctor also swayed more towards a bilateral mastectomy because of my age, my history of lumps, and my family history of cancer. The recovery time for a double mastectomy would be 2 to 4 weeks, depending on your threshold to pain. Of course, my body would not be the same for quite a while. I would have to keep going in to get my breasts pumped up, then, eventually, I would have to go back in to get the breast implants (another surgery), then go back in again to get nipples constructed, oh yeah, then go back in again to the the tattoos. In the middle of all of this, I’ll have to get that chemo in. The doctor also told me to have a genetic test, because if I have a mutated gene, I could end up with ovarian, or another form of cancer. Another doctor’s appointment in my future…After my appointment though, I felt a little more relieved…Now I knew how this was going to work, and while it sounded like hell, at least there would be an end in sight. I was even a bit excited. I thought, if I go this route (a bilateral), I would have “breasts” for my June vacation. The expanders would still be in, but at least I’d have some bumps there. That way, I wouldn’t have to pack the fake breasts with me AND wigs…

 

Thurs, Mar. 5, 2009 – The days are getting easier, although I still don’t know which route to go. Mastectomy vs’ lumpectomy. I believe I will do the bilateral mastectomy – because I don’t want the fear of wondering if cancer will come in my other breast, and I don’t want to have a lumpectomy and have to go back a year later and do all of this all over again. If only I’d get the rest of the test results back from the biopsy, it could help with my decision. At the end of the day today, though, I did get the MRI results back. They didn’t see any more abnormalities in the breasts. That, finally, was GOOD news. Something we really needed to hear.

 

Fri, Mar 6, 2009 - I am really excited to see and hear that people are checking out my webpage. I hope that my words touch people's lives the way that writing this has. I am more thankful for life every day. There is no change in information today, though. The waiting game continues. Hopefully, I will get my last test results on Monday. In the meantime, I must go to bed. I have to get up early tomorrow for a 5K that I am running with my good friends.

 

Fri, Mar 6, 2009 (Take 2) - Guess what? I got up out of bed to plug my cell phone into the charger and saw 3 fortune cookies sitting there. I looked up and asked God for a good one. Here is what it said: "You are going to have a very comfortable old age." Thank you God.

 

Sat, Mar 7, 2009 - I ran with my buddies today - the 5K - first let of the Triple Crown. I signed up for all three races, not knowing what was in my future. I got teary eyed during the Star Spangled Banner. I feel a little selfish thinking that I may not get to run the rest of the races that I signed up for. There are more important fish to fry. We'll see though, maybe I'll be up to doing one or two of them at some point. I was just happy to be there this morning - on such a beautiful day with such wonderful friends. Dave and I talked a little before the run this morning, and it came to my realization that I haven't mentioned 2 very important people through all of this. PJ and Hannah, my step-children. We have told them about what is going on. PJ found out first, since she lives with us. She is 8 years old. She knew something was going on when she saw me upset. We sat her down and explained to her that I had breast cancer, and that things could get a little rough, that I may need some help around the house, and that I could lose my hair. She sat next to me, and hugged on me the rest of the night. The next day, I assured her things would be ok, that I wasn't going anywhere, and that I loved her. She's been asking little questions here and there, but we really need to get her prepared for what she is going to see. Norton gave us coloring books and workbooks to help. We plan to sit her down and go through them soon. We told Hannah, too. She doesn't live with us, and I know she's worried too. Dave called to tell her, and at first she just cried. Hannah has a big heart. She hung up with her dad, then called back later to ask some questions and talk to me. She wants to come out during her spring break. I told her we'd have to play that by ear since we didn't know how I would be at that time. So, that's what is going on with the girls. Then there's Dave. He has been my rock through this. I worry about him, and hope that he doesn't keep his feelings in because he's trying to be strong for me. I read one of my books and it said that often it is harder on the mate than it is on the patient because they feel helpless...they don't know what to do. Somehow, Dave always knows what to do, though. He can look at me and know when I need to be held, he can look at me and tell when I am just handling my "business." Lots of love goes out to my mom, too. She's had a rough time with all the cancer that has been in our family, taking care of everyone. I worry for her (and dad too), and find myself wanting to keep my chin up for them. 

 

Sun, Mar 8, 2009 – I had a rough day today. I was finally alone today, working a booth at the Home, Garden, & Remodeling Show and I started worrying. I started thinking, “what if I beat this breast cancer thing, but then it comes back, in the brain, in the stomach, or in the ovaries, or somewhere else?” I realize, I am scared to death. I try to stay positive and hope that everything is going to be ok, but, “what if?” I don’t want to die! I have too much to live for! I have too many plans. I’ve heard of many people surviving, living for years, or living out their lives after being diagnosed, but I’ve heard from others that have been through the worst…or heard of some that have died. I believe, you can talk to TOO many people, hear TOO many stories, and read TOO much information. It can really scare you. I find myself, in a way, wanting to talk about it so bad, then I find myself wanting to avoid the subject, hoping I won’t hear anything negative.

 

Mon, Mar 9, 2009 – I finally got my test results back. Good news and bad news. The good news is that the cancer is HER2neu Negative. That tells me that it is not the MOST aggressive cancer out there. The doc said that was good news. The bad news is the ER/PR is negative, which means that I can’t take a medicine to take care of those crazy hormones that could’ve caused this. They aren’t the problem. I’m just a “freak.” My cancer just “happened.” The doc says I will have to go through chemotherapy, but I was prepared for that. The mass measured 1.9 cm from my mammogram/ultrasound. It measured 3 cm from my MRI. The doc tells me it looks like I am an early Stage 2 cancer, which isn’t terrible either. But, he says, we still don’t know if the lymph nodes are affected, and we won’t know that until surgery. His opinion? He says I am a candidate for a lumpectomy, when asked AGAIN what he would do if he were me? He said he’d do a Bilateral Mastectomy. I know you all may say “it’s easy for him to say,” I said that at first too, but I value his opinion. He is a well known, highly recommended Doctor. He did tell me, however, that there is no scientific evidence to support one procedure over the other. He said with this popping up out of nowhere, my family history of cancer, the lumps I’ve found, and my age, that was his recommendation. Between his thoughts, my own, my husband’s thoughts, and my family, I’ve decided I will make the appointment for surgery in the morning. I am going to have the bilateral mastectomy.  Please, keep us in your thoughts and prayers. This has been a very difficult decision.

 

Tues, Mar 10, 2009 - OK. The date is set. I will undergo surgery for a bilateral mastectomy on March 23, 2009. I'm sure I will have many ups and downs prior to then. Hopefully more ups than downs. I am not sure how to look at this, but my birthday is March 29th. I will be 34 years old. I'll be at the end of my first week of recovery...so I can look at it as a "fresh start" to a new year, or I can be down and out about it. I'd prefer the fresh start. I had a birthday party planned! :( oh well, I guess we'll have to have a "cancer free" party when I feel better. Please keep my family and I in your thoughts and prayers. I am such a lucky person to have such wonderful family and friends, and support. This support means more to me than anyone could ever know. I count my blessings for all of you out there! Amen, and be safe! (and check your boobies)
 
Thurs, Mar 12, 2009 - Anxiety is kicking in. The date is set, and I am scared. I want to be SuperWoman again! I feel vulnerable. I don't want to break down or ask for help. I know my husband is concerned, as he asks me if everything is ok, and asks how I am feeling. I don't want to overwhelm everyone around me or bring them down. I know they are ok with my talking, but sometimes I just don't know what to say. Listen, I am not down in the dumps all of the time...I am just up and down. It's to be expected. I'll have some good moments today, and some bad moments today...so don't think "poor Reanna."  Ok, you can think it if you want to (pitty party for me tonight at 7:00 ha ha). Seriously, I am scared though. I've been "put under" once in my life -- for removal of my wisdom teeth. I'm scared of being "put under" (although I must admit, when I woke up after that one time, I sure felt GOOD! I was higher than a kite!). I need to get emotioinally ready for this. Learn how to feel comfortable with myself - especially when the surgery is over. I am so MAD at my boobs! (so is my husband) It's hard to even look at them without getting mad at them. Is this normal, I wonder? Hmmmmmmm.......
 
Friday, Mar 13, 2009 - I am so moved by the emails that I am receiving. Thank you so much for taking the time to write me. A wise woman told me to save the letters, emails, cards, ANYTHING I could through this to keep my spirits up. So, that is what I plan to do. I am going to start a book with all of the words I receive from you all, my readers. Thank you for your support! BTW, I have learned that my surgery will be at 3:30 pm on March 23rd at Norton. Wish me and my family well. WE will BEAT this! :)
 

Sunday, Mar 15, 2009 - I went camping this weekend with PJ. It was mother/daughter weekend with Brownies. We went hiking, made food, and my favorite part was when we made puppets together. She was very creative. We had to come up with a skit with another mother and child, and we did “how much is that puppy in the window?” I was happy to be able to share this with her, especially since I will be out of commission for a while. When we got home, I found out from Dave that one of his friend’s wives was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She is 28 years old. My heart immediately sunk for her. I know what she will be going through, and in some ways, my first week, the hardest one so far, all came back to me. I thought about how I felt when I was first told, the emotions I went through, all of the crying. I cried again today, for myself and for her. Dave and I talked for a while about my feelings and his. I’m learning that this is very difficult for him, but he is trying to stay strong for me. No crying, he says. No more, anyway, from him. He says he may shed a few tears when I am not looking, but he will probably cry more when this is “all over” out of relief. I can’t wait. Dave is getting through this with humor. It’s the best way he knows how. I could use some comic relief…it’s definitely not a bad thing. I have been nervous about losing my breasts, feeling “unwomanly,” losing my hair, things that he loves. He tells me he just wants me here…that is the most important. Our goal is to be “back to normal” by Christmas…so that we really have something to celebrate. I laughed (then cried) when Dave mentioned a “goal” though, I said, “I had goals.” I did, until the Lord threw me a curve ball called cancer. I am still trying to keep up with some of them, though, despite this crazy disease. Last week, I started my MBA. I got 100% for my first week. So, that is a step in the right direction.

 

Monday, March 16, 2009 - I have an UPDATE. My surgery is NOT going to be at Norton Downtown. It will be at the Norton Pavillion Hospital, 315 E. Broadway, Louisville, KY.

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - Last night, we had dinner with the my husband's friend (and wife who was just diagnosed with breast cancer). I sat, talking with her, wondering if the whole thing had hit her yet. I told her how I first felt when I was diagnosed...I could just be brushing my hair and the tears would come...and is it just me, or does everything I watch lately have some "cancer-related" thing in it!?!?! For goodness sakes, even on Ugly Betty someone is dying of freakin' cancer. But, we must remember, not all cancers are the same. Anyway, I hate to see this young girl (who's acutually 27, not 28, my husband put a year on her) go through this...just like I hate to see me go through it. She seems to be strong though. We are WOMAN. We be STRONG! :) We WILL get through this....one day at a time. Six more days until surgery - woo hoo! Let's get this party started!

 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 5 days and counting! I am back in positive mode. That doesn't mean I am not scared to death. Believe me, I am...but it's time. Let's get this done and start the healing process. We had dinner with mom and dad last night. Obviously, this is really affecting them. I am trying to help my mom stay positive too. For the most part, she has been, but I can see the tears in her eyes when she looks at me. I can't imagine being a mom and having to watch my child go through this. I know it is scary, and she wishes it was her instead of me. But, it happened to me for some reason, maybe it's because she's so strong, she can handle it. If she had it, I may have flipped out. My family is my world. I love them dearly. Let the countdown continue...

 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 (cont) - I feel compelled to write, right now. Especially after the conversation I had with my husband. I read a book today on cancer, and read about the type that I have. Part of the section talked about how the cancer, if it is invasive, can spread to other parts of your body through your bloodstream. OK, I knew that, but it was the first time I actually read it. It freaked me out. I have been trying to stay positive, been putting a smile on my face for everyone, I've been trying to protect everyone around me telling them, "I'm ok. Don't worry. It'll be fine. Be positive." THIS SUCKS! I have been trying to keep myself SO busy - so that I don't have to think about what is happening. I don't want to talk about it with my family - I'm afraid it will hurt them, or they may be tired of talking about it. Maybe if I ignore it, the feelings will go away?!?! Well, they don't. They are still there. I'm lying if I say I'm not scared. I am TERRIFIED! I have never had a surgery like this. I had a pre-admission testing on Monday and they told me what the day of surgery would be like, asked me lots of crazy questions, made me think a lot, and then they told me about the anesthesia. I had no idea they would put a breathing tube down my throat! The first thing that came to mind are the breathing tubes that help people stay alive. CONGRATS nurse, you just FREAKED me out! See, I've been trying to stay positive here, even in my diary, showing people, "I can do this. I am strong." I think I am strong, in a way. I'm sharing my story, aren't I? That is strong. But, my husband reminded me today, after our conversation, that I need to be real in my diary. If I don't share EXACTLY what I am going through, how will other people learn from it? Other people who may be going through the same thing as me, and wondering, "why aren't i that positive? what is wrong with me?" So, this is my story. TRY to stay positive. It's ok if you can't. You are human, and cancer is as scary as hell. Smile, laugh, be angry, CRY for goodness sakes. Be real to who you are...and remember, you are NOT alone. Lots of love to those who are dear. --- Dee

 

Friday, March 20, 2009 - Dave told me that his friend and his wife met with the oncologist. The doctor told her that she wouldn't be able to have kids for 5 years. She's young. That shouldn't be a problem for her. As long as everything works out okay. I really hope we don't hear the same thing. I'm hoping she was told that because hers is horomonal related. I know every cancer is different. I can't wait 5 years to have a baby though, Dave will be too old! (no offense, sweetie - but you'll be...OK, I won't say your age). :) I'm afraid I'll be too old too. I know, people have babies at all kinds of ages now, but I don't want any complications. I guess we'll see what the future holds. One day at a time. 3 days and counting til surgery.

 

Friday, March 20, 2009 (cont) - I just had the most wonderful lunch with an AMAZING person. Jana is the first Young Survivor I talked to. Today, she walked me through what I can expect on Monday, before and after surgery (reminding me that we are all different), we talked about life, what to expect during chemo, what to expect "after" cancer, we talked about our faith, we laughed, we cried. And, she made me this beautiful bracelet. I am so glad that she has come into my life. While I know that my family, friends, and husband are all wonderful support (and believe me, I couldn't do it without them), I am absolutely BLESSED that she has come into my life. She has given me insight, hope, and even a little more faith. Kudos to her for being the amazing person that she is. I know, she has helped many people along the way...and will help even more on her journey through life. I hope I can be as big of an inspiration to others as she has been to me. Dave, my love....PJ, Hannah, mom, dad, Rhonda, Melanie & Kevin, Holly, Jennifer C, Jennifer R, Stephanie, Donna...I can't tell you all how much you being here has meant to me. I'm sorry if I have missed anyone, because I know there are many that have stepped up and offered help and support...if I didn't have you all in my life, I'm not sure how I would handle this. I know I wouldn't be as strong as I am today. LOVE you all!

 

Sunday, March 22, 2009 - ONE day until surgery. Right now, I don't feel any anxiety, I'm not sad...I think I'm ready to get this show on the road. My boobs went out with a "bang" last night. ha ha I celebrated my "pre-surgery" birthday party with the best husband, family, and friends anyone in the world could ever ask for. I am SO BLESSED. I wanted the night to be a "happy" one, not a sad one. For the most part, it worked out like that. We all got sad on occassion. I guess it's hard to forget that I have cancer. Dave did something really special that I didn't know he was going to do. He made a speech after I opened gifts from family and friends. He pulled out this old brown, round, box that had an old bottle (1990) of wine in it. He told a special story about the wine, how it was given to him by a man when he was deployed (in the Marines). The man told him to open one day, for a special occassion. He never felt inclined to open that bottle of wine. He told everyone at that moment that he finally has a reason to open that wine, and he wants every person in the room to be there to celebrate when it happens. Of course, everyone was already in tears by then, even Dave. He told them that he wanted to open that bottle and share it with everyone after my last chemo treatment, when we are "cancer clear." I sure look forward to that day. Dave will never know how much that speech meant to me. God has given me such a gift in my husband, my family, and my friends. I was happy last night, and surrounded by the people I love. That is what life is all about. I guess I'm going to sign off now...If I feel inclined to write prior to surgery, I will. I'm afraid things may be such a whirlwind that I may not get to. If I don't, pray for us at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon. That is when the surgery will begin.

 

Monday, March 23, 2009 - OK, it is 7:50 am, I am up, and I want a glass of water SO BAD I can taste it! :( 7 hrs 40 minutes to go. Yesterday we went shopping for things that the "normal" person wouldn't think about...things that you need if you are going to get your breasts hacked off. Button down jammies, button down shirts...I won't be able to move my arms very well after surgery, so these will be easier to put on than shirts that go over the head. I had a time spending money on things that I wouldn't normally buy....if I weren't sick. As Dave and I were driving in the car, I realized I won't even be able to brush my own hair. I cried. I hate feeling helpless. Dave asked me, "why have a husband, then, if he can't help you through all of this?" One of my "last meals" was a lettuce wrap at PF Changs...yum. Then Dave fixed us steak and rice last night at 8:30. I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight. This is going to be a long day - for me and everyone else. I sure get crabby when I don't eat! I've been getting a lot of calls from family and friends...I appreciate all of the calls...and love everyone very much. I am so, so, so blessed. I didn't expect to write in my diary today, but I felt compared to share my story from yesterday and tell you how I am feeling.  I'm scared, but deep inside I know things will be ok. Please, God, give my family, my friends, and I the strength to get through us. God, watch over me when I am on the operating table. Be with the doctors. Don't let the cancer be in my lymph nodes. Be with me when I wake. Guide me along the path to recovery. Be with my family in the waiting room. Take care of them and ease their fears and pain. God, bring us together after the operation, and carry us through life, God. Help us be strong. Amen. I wil write again soon...

 

March 23, 2009... Ok I am not the writer Dee is but here we go. She is in the operating room now she went in at 5:00pm EST. Her spirits are good and she is ready to begin this journey. My heart aches for her. I know people say this often, but I would trade places with her in a second. You see she is one of the most giving, decent, loving, careing, honest people I know. I have made my mistakes in this life, Dee on the other hand has made very few and does not deserve this. I am unable to have my way, though, so I sit with a heart that aches for my wife. Pray for her now, we need clear lymph nodes!!!! We will know this evening.

 

March 23, 2009...It is 6:21pm EST. Thank you God. My wife has healthy lymph nodes!!!!!!! For the first time in a long time I feel like I can breathe. I cannot tell you how greatful I am to know she is safe. Safe from a slow painful death. She will live to push my old ass in a wheelchair. All jokes aside, Thank God, Thank God. I do not know if I want to cry or run 10 miles. I am so relieved. Soon the best part, we get to tell Dee she is likely cancer free and will out live me.

 

March 23, 2009....It is 8:55pm EST. Dee is in her room now it is under Smith-Hamblin. Norton Hospital, 200 East Chestnut Street. Floor 4-S Room 8. She did very well, and is sleeping now. It has been a long and blessed day. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, prayers and words of wisdom. We love you all.

 

March 23, 2009....

This is a reflection from a loving husband. I read my wife’s diary all the way through almost every day. When doing so I try to place myself in her shoes, could I have tackled this with the same bravery she has? I am not sure. I do not think anyone can really know how they will approach the possibility of death until approached personally. My Dee has been, and I can say unequivocally she is the bravest person I have ever met. I remember getting that phone call from her. She was crying, terrified and rightfully so. I took charge like any good husband would. The funny thing is Dee took that day to cry, get angry and feel sorry for herself, but just that day. Outside of a few breakdowns this perfect little fighter took care of me and everyone else in her life. I sit here in this hospital looking at her in amazement and if it is possible loving her even more. Thank you to everyone who has offered their prayers and support. Whether you know it or not I was leaning on all of you. I used all of you to get through this and stay strong for Dee. God, thank you for your gifts, for your reminders to live life to the fullest and for sparing my wife.

 

March 24, 2009 - I lay here, writing this, in my hospital bed. Thank you, God. I am in a bit of pain, but it's nothing I can't handle. In fact, FINDING OUT I had cancer was more painful. My chest feels really heavy...like there's a big weight on top of it. I'm stiff because I haven't been able to move. I'm not on a bunch of pain meds...but that is ok (although I was kind of looking forward to that morphine! ha ha) Soon, I plan to eat and get up out of bed. I look forward to that. I remember very little from last night. I don't remember the recovery room, I don't remember talking to doctors, and I don't remember asking Dave - 5 times - if my lymph nodes were clear. I was relieved to hear the answer...when I finally figured out what it was. You have no idea - the relief I feel. Oh my God...you just have no idea. Dave stayed with me all night...and my father just got here. I am going to sign off right now...but I will try to write again later. THANK you all SO MUCH for your support, love, and prayers. This is the beginning of the end of my journey...there will be many more stories to share - good and not so good. I hope you all will still read then. Lots of love to all of you! May I ask that all of you turn your prayers over to my friend who is meeting with the reconstructive surgeon today. I know how she must feel and my heart goes out to her.

 

March 24, 2009 (cont) - I got up this morning around 7:30 am, and felt good enough to get on the computer to tell my story. Around 10 am, my cathetor was removed. While that didn't really hurt, it did burn a bit. After that, the nurse got me up, and helped me bathe with a washcloth. That's when, for the first time, I saw my scars. My husband prepared me for it, which was good. I don't think anyone would ever be truly READY to see the scars...but, I allowed myself about 15 seconds to cry, I covered them up, then I went about my day. It's ok. They will get better, and I do mean BETTER! :) Most of the day was quiet. I had my wonderful husband by my side all day long (he will not leave!). He said they'd have to kick him out. My sweet dad showed up early today to hang out, too. Both of them took me for a walk after I bathed. My FIRST walk since surgery! I did great! Momma showed up after that, and around 11:00, I went for a walk with mom and dad. Mom couldn't stop smiling. I was glad to see her smile. The rest of the day was pretty quiet. We all hung out all day long. (Dad claimed he wasn't watching Jerry Springer...he was doing his real estate work) Visitors started coming around 3:30...and it was a whirlwind from there. I am amazed at all of the people that showed up. I was so excited, and felt so loved! Thank you to everyone who thought of me yesterday and stopped by!!! You all are so wonderful! My boss, Bruce stopped by and told me the story about my family the night of surgery. He was there that night, not that I knew that...I didn't know anything! But, he said he felt blessed to be there when they got the news that my lymph nodes were clear. He said it was like this big weight was lifted from the whole room, there were tears of joy, and there was laughter, happiness...He said he was driving home that night, he saw a small rainbow, and thought of me. Thank you, Bruce, and thank you to everyone for stopping by and taking care of me and my family. I got the news, too, right before the hospital that PJ's brownie troop is going to be bringing us dinners every other night. Speaking of PJ, our friend brought her to the hospital. I think some of her boogy men were released. She didn't even know I had surgery! She was surprised when we told her I did. I'm glad I was able to give her a hug and relax her a little. Overall...the day after surgery was a wonderful day. So much relief, so much happiness. My family and friends are my world.

March 25, 2009 - Well, it is 7:15 am, and I am sitting up in my hospital bed writing in my diary! Yay! I am a bit sore today, as I believe I pushed myself a little too hard yesterday. But, that is ok, because I really enjoyed the day. I am being released from the hospital today!!!!!!!  So, if anyone wants to visit, give Dave or I a call, or email us on this page. I think today though, we will take the day to rest - at home - when we get there. I will write more later...or tomorrow. I just wanted to let people know that I will be out of the hospital later this morning.

 

March 25 (cont) - Hello diary. I am at home now. I got home around 1:00 today. I am very sore. I no longer have that great novicane that was numbing my breasts. It is hard to move - my chest is tight. I'm trying to find ways to get comfortable in my home. Dave is waiting on me hand and foot. He's doing great...but all I want to do is jump up and help! This is so humbling and hard for me to deal with. We laid down for a nap today, and when I tried to get comfortable on the bed, I cried. I guess I will have my up and down moments. I can't wait to feel "normal" again. We have both been so tired. You don't get much rest at a hospital, and at least I had the bed...poor Dave had to sleep in a chair. He was a champ, though. We got home and laid down, and no sooner than our "lights" went out, someone knocked at the door. I had gotten a flower delivery. Dave came back to the bedroom with the flowers, got all situated again, got ready to go to sleep, then there was another knock at the door. Dave came back to the bedroom again, with more flowers, and I just had to laugh my butt off. Believe me, it hurt to laugh, but it felt good. After the second knock, he said, "is this a joke? Does someone have a camera on me?" It was very funny. Anyway, I'll write more tomorrow. I'm getting ready to eat dinner now...and then I plan to chill for the night. Thanks again to all that have been thinking about me, and thank you for the flowers....you all are amazing!

 

March 26, 2009 - OK. I feel as high as a kite. Seriously. I don't like this. I tried to wheen myself off of the pain pills, but it didn't work out so well. So, I'm taking them as I should. The pain isn't unbearable, but it's enough to keep you from moving (unless you are on the meds). Since I'm on the meds, I want to get up and do things. Dave keeps getting mad at me because I want to get up. God love him, he's trying to help, but I am driving him crazy. :) That's what I am here for, right? So, today has flown by...Dave has been taking care of me, he's been doing tons of laundry, cleaning, cooked breakfast this morning, etc. Last night was kind of hard. Dave bathed me. I cried. It was hard for me -- for him to take care of me like that. I know he doesn't mind it, but I would've never thought about "having" to be bathed at 33 years old (OK, 34 in one week!). It was humbling, but we both survived it. Today, I looked at my scars again, and I showed them to my mom for the first time. They don't look as bad as they first did. I was proud of mom, too, because she didn't cry. The scars really aren't THAT bad. And the good news is, they'll get BETTER!!! We also got some good news today. The genetic testing results came back. They were negative! yay! That means, at this point, I can keep my ovaries!!! Maybe there is another child in our future after all! We will see. Anyway, gotta run...all of these words look jumbled together...and I still have some school work to accomplish. (I got 100% in my 3rd week!!! yay!!)

 

March 28, 2009 - We had a big scare yesterday. Dave called the Dr. office to make an appointment and to get the final report on my cancer. He asked if the report had come in yet, and the nurse said "let me look, and then she said it came back positive." Dave freaked out, hung up the phone, and called mom. He had thought that the nurse meant that my lymph nodes were positive. He didn't know what to do, or how to tell me. I didn't know all of this was going on - he was in another room or outside. Of course, mom started calling some loved ones to let them know, too. As I'm sure everyone was in tears by then. That's when Dave thought about it a bit, and called the nurse back, just to make sure he heard right - before he told me. He asked more questions this time, and found out, yes, it was cancer but the lymph nodes were CLEAR! He felt major relief, obviously, and had to do damage control, calling mom...then mom had to call everyone again. At least that call was GOOD news. Poor things though. I don't know if Dave felt worse, or I did by the time he came out to tell me. He looked at me and just started crying, and held and hugged me. He told me the story. Tears of relief. Mom and dad came over with dinner last night and we hung out for a while. It was nice to visit with everyone. TODAY I actually feel a little better, too. I have cut back to 1 pain pill instead of 2...and so far, so good. I'm handling it. ONE day until my 34th bday! Lots of love to everyone!

 

March 29, 2009 - Happy 34th freakin' birthday to me! I'm glad I'm writing this now instead of a few hours ago. I'm telling you, I was not in a happy place. They said there would be good days and bad days...and today was just "one of those days." I had decided this morning, that this would be the day that I would stop taking my pain pills - because my pain wasn't "terrible." I started crying on Dave this morning, I guess just because it was my birthday and I was feeling like it wasn't. Dave got me in the shower and helped me bathe, and mom and dad, Rhonda, and Sammy came over to visit, eat, and open presents for my birthday. I felt nice and clean, and "put together" when everyone got here. I even felt ok - without my pain meds. Mom and dad gave me a wonderful birthday gift - a beautiful jewelery box that plays "Wind Beneath My Wings," a footprints necklace, a funny card that had a recording of them on it, and a nice, nice check to help us pay off our cruise we will be taking in June. Thank you. Of course, it all made me cry. :( sissy. Then Dave started with his gifts. First was a new address book that has "Dance as though no one is watching you, love as though you have never been hurt before, sing as though no one can hear you, live as though heaven is on earth." After that, he started handing me gift cards. One, for Starbucks. A few minutes later, one for Qdoba. He said there was a theme. I couldn't figure it out. The last one he gave me was a gift card for the Gap. He told me he got all of these gift cards for me so that my mom and I could go on a mother/daughter shopping trip...and buy new things for my new "body" and for our cruise, when we get to celebrate. I am really looking forward to this (the shopping trip and the cruise!) Dave is always so thoughtful when it comes to gifts. We all ate dinner after that and I opened Rhonda's "welcome home gifts." It was a lot of great stuff...soaps, lotions, sprays, candles...and comforting things. She also got me a new "Ducky!" That's a whole other story - but anyone who has known me for a long time has known that I've kept a crazy pink duck that she bought me 30 years ago! I slept with it through college! :) then, I pulled out a book - and of course - it made me cry again. "Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul." That's me, I am a survivor. I can say that with some relief (and tears) now. Anyway, I really enjoyed my time with my family, but I was going downhill...now, I think I know why. My clothes were tighter around me than usual...I felt like I was suffocating. I've been used to wearing very comfy, loose clothing. Also, I tried to quit my pain pills cold turkey. Dave said that could've caused me to be feeling down and lousy. He fed me one pain pill around 7:15...and I feel a lot better than I did. Again, the pain wasn't terrible...there is/was some pain, but I just felt tired - body and mind. I think he's right. You have to "wheen" your way off of these pills - not quit cold turkey. Just a thought for anyone that's going through something like this. Anyway, now is my time to chill out, eat some brownies, and I think I'll have a diet coke. Please keep the emails coming. I love hearing from all of you.

 

March 30, 2009 - About this time, one week ago, I was as high as a kite, and getting ready to go into surgery. The week, in a way, has flown by. I spent today aching a bit from not being on pain meds. My head hurts, my back hurts, my chest hurts, ugh! Tylenol just doesn't kick the pain. I went back to work today - working from home, online. It was nice to stay busy and try to keep my mind off of things...Nothing else to report today. Tomorrow I have my first Dr. appointment to follow up on my surgery. Looking forward to it.

 

March 31, 2009 - I had my doctor's appointment today. It's confirmed. I made the right decision. I am lucky I (and my family) decided on a bilateral mastectomy. When they pulled the cancerous lump out of my breast, about an inch in, they found another cancerous lump, smaller, about 2 inches in. Had we decided on a lumpectomy, they may not have found the 2nd lump, and we may have been going through this again, or worse off, what if it had killed me? This is such a scary thought. My other breast was very fibrocystic, and changing, which the doctor didn't like either. He said it doesn't necessarily mean that I could've gotten cancer in that breast, but I could have. So, in the end, despite all of the pain, the suffering, the time off of work, the tears, the loss of my breasts, this is the best decision we could have made. And, we heard it from the doctor today - the lymph nodes were benign - CLEAR! Next big dates - Tuesday, April 7th I meet with my reconstructionist (the best plastic surgeon EVER) and hopefully I get these dreaded drains out. Then, Thursday, April 9th I finally meet with my oncologist to find out when my chemo will start. I dread this, but in a way, I can't wait for it to begin so I can continue this windy road to my very special bottle of wine - to be shared with the love of my life - Dave, my special family, and wonderful friends.

 

April 2, 2009 - For the first time since my surgery, I have felt more like "myself" today than I have since then. I had a good day today...no bad chestaches, backaches, or headaches. I've been working from home all week and it didn't tire me today. I'm still going strong and it is 8:15 pm. My friend, Holly, came to visit today and it was nice to feel "normal." OK, maybe I'm not completely normal, but heck, I feel about as normal as I can with a couple of hacked off boobs and slits across my chest. I'm thanking God for my life today...Dave's smiling (and getting a little restless - I think he's ready to get back to work), PJ's smiling and having fun...Mom, dad, other family and friends are breathing a little easier now...THINGS are just a little more normal. I can't wait to get back into the swing of things...Chemo will get a bit in the way, I'm afraid, but we'll cross that bridge when it comes. I feel like this whole experience has brought my immediate family and my best of friends closer, I pray that as I get better this new experience in relationship doesn't diminish. I pray for quite the opposite, that they all grow closer because I love them so.

 

April 3, 2009 - I just looked down at my toes...and got tickled. I don't believe I've written in my diary that my wonderful husband, Dave, painted my toenails when I couldn't after my surgery. He was absolutely adorable sitting at the end of the couch, holding onto my feet, and painting my toenails RED. He even softened my cuticles and pushed them back. It sure is nice to have a husband that would do something like this for me. Anyway, today is a good day...I am happy...back aches a bit, but I can't complain. I love my life.

 

April 4, 2009 - I had a really good day today. Mom took me to the grocery this morning, since I still have my tubes in, it is hard to drive a stick shift, and she helped me get things off of the top shelves. Dave couldn't sleep well today, trying to get back to that overnight shift, so he got up early and we sat outside and enjoyed the weather. Rhonda, may aunt, also came to visit. It was a very nice day. I so much love spending time with my loved ones. Not a lot of pain, just the normal stuff today. Two more full days until these daggone drains come out........oh, i CAN'T wait!

 

April 5, 2009 - Those who told me I would have my ups and downs were right. Today, I woke up to a hard day. My back ached, my chest ached, and I just felt down in the dumps. Dave could see it when he got up this afternoon. I'm sitting here, writing this, still teary eyed. Physically, I'm feeling better than I did this morning. Maybe I slept wrong, maybe it is these stupid tubes, or maybe I just overdid it yesterday. Emotionally though, I am not doing as well today. Dave and I were talking on the couch today, and I realize I am so scared of chemo. I don't want to be sick and I don't want to lose my hair! I hear that many are sick from chemo for a few days, like it feels like you have the flu. I don't want to be stuck in bed after chemo! I've been stuck in this house too long after this surgery! And, my hair. I know it sounds vain, but I don't want to lose it. I worked so long to grow it! I don't want to be bald. I know I can buy wigs and scarves, etc. But it's just the thought. I hate thinking about it! Dave has been very supportive, even says he looks forward to it, but that is easy for him to say. It is easy for most men to say. I've lost part of my womanhood...and I'm getting ready to lose another part of it. For me, this is a very hard thing. I am trying to cope, and I know I will get through this. I am a strong person, with wonderful support. But, can I just say "this is not fair?" Why do I have to deal with this?!?!? I'm sad, I'm angry...maybe that is part of coping. Thank you for listening.

 

April 6, 2009 - OK people! I know you are reading! I'm getting lonely here. Drop me a line! my-future@reanna-dee-smith-hamblin.com. Thanks :) I'm working from home...so need to get back to work!!!

 

April 7, 2009 - Yeah!!! I got my drains out today! I was SOOOO happy I nearly cried at the Dr's office. You don't know what a relief it is to finally have these crazy things out of my body. They didn't really hurt coming out, just a little discomfort, but they really just felt funny when they came out. They left me with 2 holes in my sides that need to heal up. They should heal fairly quickly, although I had Dave take off the dressing for one of them and put on a bandaid and some juice started coming out of the hole. YUCK! I feel MOBILE now. I can MOVE! The doc also told me that he will be able to "inflate" me to the size that I want in 3 to 4 weeks...more quickly than we had first thought! If I start chemo before then, though, it will take longer. I'll find out more about that soon. Overall, a very good day. I feel like a new woman with these things out! On another note, I need to watch myself. I am starting to "get back into the grind" of things. I have a personal problem. I am a work-a-holic, a perfectionist, I always have to stay BUSY. I told everyone, and myself, that I hope the family stays close and we don't start taking things for granted. I have to watch myself to make sure I don't do that. I need to stop and "smell the roses." Not all of the time, but sometimes. I think there's a happy medium between how I used to be (110 miles per minute) to how I've had to be after surgery (10 miles per minute). I don't want to take granted of my time, my family, my friends. I want to spend those special moments with them and not let them fly by like they did today. I need to learn to step "outside" of myself sometimes...and let others in. I get so caught up in the daily life of work, school work, house work...that I don't stop and enjoy life how it should be enjoyed. This will be a good life lesson...and goal for me in the coming months. Oh, and by the way, our stupid dog now has a drain in her. I got rid of mine, and she got one! Poor thing snagged herself on something, ripped open the skin, had to have stitches, and a drain. Geez, if it isn't one thing...it is SOMETHING else!  

 

April 8, 2009 - I went back to work today! woo hoo! It was nice to get out of the house! I lasted until around 3 pm, then I went home. I didn't realize how much more I moved at work than I did when I was recovering from home, plus I have a 6-speed, so the driving takes a bit out of the old arm too. Needless to say though, it was nice to get back in touch with reality - a little. I received a nice, kind, big hearted welcome from my co-workers, too. Besides being tired and a bit sore at the end for the night, it was a good day.

 

April 9, 2009 - Today is the oncology appointment! Keep us in your thoughts and prayers! Hopefully we will get some good news. Wish us luck! Will write more about what we learn later today. :)

 

April 9, 2009 (take 2) - We were at the oncologist office for over 2 hours today. I guess the good news is I have a pretty good shot at surviving, with chemo. The bad news, for me, is that I have to go through 6 doses of chemo. They will each be 3 weeks apart, and it will last 4 and a half months. My treatments begin on April 24th. I had a few breakdowns during the appointment. Then my spirits got a little higher as we talked about getting some different wigs to change my style up a bit. Anyone who has known me in the past knows I love to change my hair. But, I sit here, crying again. I'm scared to death. I don't want to lose my hair, I don't want to feel the way chemo will make me feel, and I don't want to miss any more work. I have to say that this officially sucks. I think I dread this more than I did the surgery. I'm not sure why. One of my friends, a breast cancer survivor, said that losing her hair was the hardest part for her because it was then that she became the "victim." You can hide the fact that your breasts were taken away. It is harder to hide the fact that ALL of your hair is gone. I know that I will get through this with my faith, my family, and my friends by my side. I know I will. I am strong, I will be ok. Right now though, right now, I just feel like crying. I'm sure I will get past this too. Another step in Dee's journey with breast cancer. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as April 24th approaches...and past then. Keep the emails coming. I appreciate them.

 

April 11, 2009 - OK. I had a couple of really bad days there, dealing with the fact that I would definitely have to have chemo. I really don't know what I was thinking (that I MAY not have to have it). My head was in the clouds until I heard the news...then it went into the dirt. I was afraid to pull it out. I was on the borderline...almost depressed. My husband helped me pull my head out of the dirt though. He sat me down and we had a "talk." After some tears, I realized where I was headed...and I didn't like it there. My attitude has changed. I am going to be ok. I smiled - a lot - today. I got my hair cut. Dave and mom went with me. It's SHORT, but that's ok...it is a change and it is preparing me for what's to come. We also got a couple of wigs today. And, I must say, they are nice. They actually looked GOOD on me! They'll be kind of a pain in the rear, but at least they'll help me feel "normal" and "pretty." Dave tells me I'll be pretty bald though. He says he wants to oil me up and use me as a slip 'n slide when I lose my hair. Freak. :) I thought you all might get a kick out of that one! Next mission, some fun hats and funky scarves. And maybe ONE more wig...something different. I'm not sure what, yet. I think I am ready to get this done...so we can move on with our lives. I can't say I won't break down a few times, here and there, but I am ready.

 

April 14, 2009 - I am feeling a lot better about chemo treatment. I think I've crossed that "hump in the road" and am ready to get it started...and over with! I know my wonderful family and friends will be there to support me through all of this. I'm going in with the attitude that I will be sick, I will lose my hair, etc...so that I don't get "let down" through it. I'll expect the worst (but hope for the best). That way, if it turns out better than expected, I will be very, very happy! My husband made a very good point the other day. He said I could "fall into depression or I could say F U to cancer." I have chosen the profanity. :) I know I will have my hard times on occassion, but they will be followed by some very, very happy times. OOOOhhh how excited I am to take a break from chemo, come June, and go on a cruise with our bestest of friends! CHEMO will NOT stop me! CANCER didn't! :) 

 

April 15, 2009 - I went to the American Cancer Center today during lunch and got a free wig, hats, and scarves! They are WONDERFUL. What a great organization! I felt like a little kid in a candy shop. My friend, Jenni, went with me for "moral support." (to tell me if a wig really did look terrible on me!) :) Everyone needs a good, honest friend! Doing well today...not in a lot of pain, not too tired. It's a good day...and I get PUMPED UP tomorrow. My first session! wooo hooo!

 

April 16, 2009 - Two GREAT things today! I have hit puberty! HA! I was pumped up today, so my "womanhood" is starting to return. Yay me! It's a pretty neat procedure, as there is a magnet in the expander. They find that magnet, it has a port, and they stick a needle in and add the solution. I literally watched them grow! It wasn't painful, although the person doing it told me that I MAY have some spasms later today and my back may be sore due to muscles being stretched that aren't normally stretched. SECOND, I got an A in my first MBA class! Even with everything I was going through at the time! Yay me, again! I was doing homework on my laptop while I was in the hospital. I was DETERMINED! It paid off! Another good day...

 

April 20, 2009 - It's been 4 weeks since my surgery. I can't believe it has been this long! Time sure flies, and I have come a long way in healing. I had a great weekend...Mom, Rhonda, PJ and I went shopping for hats and scarves and for a few odds and ends for the cruise we're taking with our friends. It was a good, LONG day of shopping! Saturday night, I hung out with my good friend, Holly. I really enjoyed her company. We talked and talked and talked. I am truly blessed with the friends that I have. Sunday, Dave and I hung out for the day...I love to hang out with him. It doesn't have to be anything special (although he DID take me to Qdoba for lunch)...i just enjoy spending time with him. We get along so, so well. Two big things this week...I get "pumped up" again on Wednesday! WOO HOO! At least I have something to look forward to! On Friday, I have my first chemo treatment. While I have some anxiety, (oh yes I do) I am ready to get this started (so that it will end). I think I have accepted the fact that I will lose my hair. I have a few really cute wigs. The thing I don't like is the unknown. I don't know when I'll be sick, exactly the day that I will lose my hair (usually 10 - 14 days after the first treatment), I don't know if I'll like to eat....etc. I can't plan anything...and I like to PLAN! Ohhhh, I hope I don't feel bad for long! We have David Cook tickets (thanks to Dave's friend who I cannot wait to meet that night)! I'm looking forward to getting this daggone chemo and kicking its BUTT! I will live life as well as I can around it! :) (breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out)

 

April 22, 2009 - I got "pumped up" again today! Woooo Hooooo! Except this time I convinced them to put me up a little more than last time. Let me tell you ladies, if you have to go through this, take your time! Holy cow, the girls ache right now. I haven't had any pain from expansion, in fact they have felt better...but right now, YOUCH! Can you say lots and lots of ibuprofen? Well, at least it's a good pain...like the pain you get after a long hard run or working out. Two days til chemo...and counting. Yuck. Dave is having med problems now, too. I won't get into the details, as I am not sure he wants me to share (and quite frankly I still don't think anyone really knows what's going on with him), but keep him in your thoughts and prayers too. Good Lord, we are both so sick and tired of Doctor offices, hospitals, and tests (no offense, docs). Back on the cancer note, a family member of mine found a poem on the internet on cancer, and I wanted to share it with you all as well. So, I'll close with it and say, please write. I LOVE hearing from everyone. :) Here is the poem:

 

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO

CANCER IS SO LIMITED

IT CANNOT CRIPPLE LOVE

IT CANNOT SHATTER HOPE

IT CANNOT CORRODE FAITH

IT CANNOT DESTROY PEACE

IT CANNOT KILL FRIENDSHIP

IT CANNOT SUPPRESS MEMORIES

IT CANNOT SILENCE COURAGE

IT CANNOT INVADE THE SOUL

IT CANNOT STEAL ETERNAL LIFE

IT CANNOT CONQUER THE SPIRIT

 
April 23, 2009 - One day to go before I start chemo. I am so anxious about it. I'm not sure if I want to smile - because the day is almost here and that means it is on the road to being over - or cry - because I am scared to death of the unexpected. I guess I'll be doing a little bit of both. After all, we are on the downhill of this bump in the road...on our way to recovery. Slowly, but surely, we will get there! Lots of love to you all!

 

April 24, 2009 - Today is the day. No tears yet. I don't think I will cry...I think I am ready to start the chemo. I'll write throughout the day to let everyone know how things are going. I'll even try to explain the process a little. Keep us in your prayers...and you'll hear from me soon. OK, I am back. It is 3:43 and the "bad bag" of chemo is going through me now. Besides my first vein not working well, and getting stuck twice, it hasn't been bad. Just sitting back, working for work on-line, and that's about it. The stick hurts, as it is a needle, and needles SUCK! But, I've been through a lot worse I guess. I need to not be such a big sissy over these silly little needles and catheters. Anyway, not bad at this point. I'll write soon to let you know how chemo takes it toll. Believe me, you'll be hearing a lot from me! Thanks to all who read my diary. It means the world to me. I hope I can help some people along the way with this, too.

 

April 24, 2009 (cont) - It is 5:51 and I feel a little "out of it" right now. Tired, light-headed, a little quesy (sp?) but I've felt quesy all day. We'll see how the night goes!

 

April 27, 2009 - I haven't met much that kicks my butt, but this time, I think I met my match. Chemo is not a pretty thing. Of course, maybe part of it is my negative attitude towards the poison that has gone inside my body. My first night with the treatment wasn't bad, the second day came, and I got a little weaker. I started feeling nauseaus, couldn't get rid of the headache, the heartburn, the diarrhea...and the tiredness. I have been so, so tired. I slept most of the day Sunday and much of the day today. I am not used to feeling this way...out of control, needy, angry, tired. I am in a bad mood, I want this to be over, and don't look forward to 5 more treatments. No one can understand what this is like unless they go through it, and it sucks. Now, maybe I have had my worst part...hopefully it's an uphill battle from here. I sure hope so, because I don't want to live like this for the next 4 and a half months. I want to have a somewhat normal life. Maybe I will. I am just scared, I guess. I worry about bringing myself down and/or bringing those down around me...but it has been so hard to get out of this tired feeling I have had the last couple of days. Is this what "the flu" is like? I have never had the flu to compare. I just want everything to be ok! I want to be DEE again! No more crying, no more being scared, no tiredness...OK, I know. Pitty party. I need to stop. I know I need to stop. The nurse said I could get "chemo brain." I think I have it. It is hard to concentrate, it is hard to get the words out sometimes. It is very hard to explain. I hope this feeling goes away soon. I feel high - but it is not a good high. I feel in "la-la land," a way I don't like to feel. Hopefully the week will get better, day by day. At least now I know what to expect after chemo. At least that is a positive thing I can say at this time. Thanks to my love Dave, my family, and my friends for helping to see me through this. I am okay.

 

April 30, 2009 - I am finally starting to feel like myself again - nearly one week after chemo. I'm not sure how much of the pain I have left right now is due to the stupid bladder infection I got from the chemo - than from the actual chemo itself. But, this pain, right now, I can deal with. What I had a hard time dealing with was the fatigue I had. Those who know me know, I can't sit still. Those who know me know, nothing can stop me. Chemo did, and I even let it get my spirits down some, too. Damn the chemo. At least the "boogy man" is out of the bag though. Now I know what to expect. At least, hopefully I know what to expect. There is still the unknown (as the nurses say, each chemo session could affect you differently). I'll stick with the "boogy man is out." While I'm thinking about it, let me apologize to all of those who called and I didn't answer, text and I didn't answer...I was in a very foul mood after chemo...and didn't want to talk to anybody. I love all of you for loving me. Oh, and my Dave...thanks for putting up with my foul moods and for taking care of me. Mom and dad - you do more than you know too. Anyway, today at work, I did an interview for FOX41 on the PINK OUT at Churchill Downs on Oaks Day. I was so happy to do the interview, as I want to be an advocate for this! I want young women to realize this CAN HAPPEN to them. Kudos to Stephan Johnson for giving me that opportunity. I hope it made at least ONE young woman think. Even if it is just one person, at least it helped in some way. Dave and I are currently preparing for the "next phase." The loss of my hair. The nurses say it will probably happen 10 - 14 days after the first treatment. That would put me Mon, May 4 - Thurs, May 7th. Dave says he wants to give me a mohawk first. We'll see how that works out. :) Maybe we'll take pics and post them! We'll see...

 

May 4, 2009 - It's day 10 after chemo. Another mark in the books. The nurse said I would likely lose my hair day 10 - 14. So far, so good. However, I don't know that I'm really going to mind it. Yes, I know it is going to be shocking, yes, I may cry...but I won't cry over the fact that I don't have to fix my short FREAKIN hair anymore. I don't like this short hair thing. (I posted a new picture at the top of this page) I very much dislike having to style my hair EVERY day. It was so much easier with long hair - pulling it back, etc. It's so much WORK! It'll be a relief to throw on a scarf, wig, or ballcap! :) I've had a hard time with my weight. I freaked out over it last night. I have gained weight INSTEAD of losing it while on chemo. Go figure. The nurse said that could happen. I swear, I have been eating everything in sight. BUT - wise people tell me that weight doesn't just come overnight - that being STRESSED OUT over the last several months can do it to you - therefore gorging on the food for comfort. Dave tells me I'm beautiful all of the time. He doesn't have a problem with it. But, I do. So, I am officially on my diet. No worries, I'll still eat healthy stuff but I am cutting back on how much and WHAT I eat. I emptied our cabinet of chocolate last night. I'm sharing it with people at work. Dave and I are going to try to take more walks (especially when I feel up to it), since I can't run comfortably with all of this "stuff" going on (and the doc doesn't like it). I know, the weight thing seems so small compared to what I am going through - Cancer - if there's anything to cry about, that is it, not my weight. But, I can't help it. Imagine being a woman, getting cancer, losing your breasts, gaining weight, losing your hair...How much does that completely and TOTALLY suck? A lot, believe me. BUT - my attitude is a lot better today. I will deal with it HEAD ON and, CONQUER all! :) Have I said how much I love my hubby lately? Dave, thank you for putting up with me through my craziness about my weight, and thank you for continuing to tell me I am beautiful. (men - if you don't tell your wive's this - you should! you never know what life can bring) Dave, we'll fight the stress we have - together. We can beat this. We are so strong - TOGETHER.

 

May 6, 2009 - OK, this is not going to be a very "titilating" (sp?) entry, but I had to put an entry in on this. These sores in my mouth SUCK! They freaking hurt. Of course, another "side effect" of chemo. What the heck else does it cause?!? Chemo Sucks! (that could be a t-shirt, or a hat!) Oh, also, I didn't report that on Monday, May 4th, I had my bloodwork done. This is supposed to be my "low time" when I am most suseptible to infection. My white blood cell counts were 200. The doc wanted them to be 1000 (and that is low). So, needless to say, mine was VERY low. The doc told me I was "not allowed" to go to the David Cook concert. :( Another bump in the road that cancer has caused. (did I mention that chemo SUCKS) I was really looking forward to the concert, going with the hubby, and meeting his good buddy and his wife. :( so bummed. But, "tis life," I guess...at least for the next 4 months. Just call me "bubble girl." If my white blood cells continue to do this, the doc is going to put me on a medication to help it. Apparently the chemo is doing what it needs to do though...killing EVERYTHING! (chemo SUCKS) (tshirt)!

 

May 7, 2009 - OK - we did it. Dave shaved my head tonight. I think he had entirely too much fun doing it though! :) I'll post pictures after this entry. We decided to do it out on the front porch after we continued to run our hands through my hair and chunks of it kept coming out. At first, when he asked if I wanted him to shave it, no matter how prepared I thought I was, I got choked up and a little teary eyed. It lasted about 10 seconds. After that, I was ok. We cut a piece of hair to keep for my scrapbook, then he made a short mohawk (I wanted a tall one but he said it was too crooked), then he shaved it all off. (can I say, my head is rather cold right now) I went to look at myself in the mirror afterwards...and laughed! It was very strange seeing myself without hair. Not sad, just strange. Dave says my head is beautiful. (I think it does something for him) I didn't cry over it. I was ok. Dave, PJ, and I even went out to Subway tonight - bald head and all. I didn't cover it, and I was ok with it. Yeah, when I saw all of the people in Subway I thought, "well, it sure is crowded," but we walked in and I was ok. No one treated me differently. The girl behind the counter noticed "I didn't have hair anymore," but other than that, it was fine. I was fine. After that, we went to mom and dad's house to show them. THEN I watched Gray's Anatomy tonight. Izzy has cancer. She got married tonight on the show - and after the wedding - in the hospital bed - her husband takes out her barrett and her hair starts to fall out from the chemo. She started crying. So I cried a little with her. Not really because I was sad, I'm really not, but it hit me. It is shocking, and it is your "womanhood." I felt for her "character" on TV. It felt good to cry - just a little - for the great words during the "ceremony" and for her "loss." (can't wait to see the 2 hour finale next week!) Anyway, I'm posting the pics of my bare head below. I figured, I might as well share this experience with everyone. I said I wanted to be open, and how much more open can I be? So, here they are.


 

 
 May 11, 2009 - What do you all think of the mohawk? I was thinking about getting a tshirt that says "kickin' cancer's butt" with that picture on it! :) It could be funny for the Race for the Cure. I thought about even seeing if I could get a caracture of it done for a tshirt. We will see. Right now, things are going well here. I am ok with my hair (or lack there of). :) I usually wear my wigs during the day and take them off around the house. They can be a bit warm and uncomfortable. When they are off my head gets cold, though. Brrrr....I am very excited about all of my wigs and plan to wear different wigs each day until I ran out of wigs so that people can see what I have. Thanks to the American Cancer Society and Norton Resource Center for giving me a free wig a piece and I bought the others from The Wig Shoppe (they are great if you need wigs) and from JJ's Wig Shop downtown on 4th Street. That store has some fun, cheaper wigs (they still look nice). I just started to post my wigs on this website. It is a subpage of this one. Look at the bottom of the page and click on "My Wig Page." Or, just click on this link: http://sites.google.com/a/reanna-dee-smith-hamblin.com/www/Home/dee-s-diary/my-wig-page. When I get them all posted I'm going to ask everyone to vote on their favorite wig. I cannot wait to see what people think! :) Now, I am counting the days down to my next chemo (yuck!). Chemo Sucks! I think I have written that before. At least I'll know a little more about what to expect and what to do and not to do this time. Maybe I'll do better with it. Ohhhhhh - I can only hope! Friday, May 15th is the big day. Woo hoo! Stay posted for more pics!
 
May 13, 2009 - I just need to say how proud I am of my step-daughter, Phoenix (P.J.). She has handled my cancer remarkably well. She is such a brave little girl. She is 8 years old. At first, when Dave and I told her about the cancer, I knew she was scared. She cuddled me more than usual. She wouldn't leave our sides at first. But, then she started asking questions. We prepared her for the chemo treatment and hair loss that we would encounter. The day I shaved my head, she said "cool." She helped by taking pictures while daddy shaved my head. That night, we went to Subway - the three of us - and my bald head - and she didn't have a care in the world about it. It didn't embarrass her. She was ok with it. She doesn't look at me any differently, and she loves watching me put on my wigs to see which one I will wear next. God love her. She even pats my bare head at night as I kiss her to go to sleep. She is such a good little girl, and I am absolutely blessed to have her in my life. One day, I hope she reads this and realizes how important she is (and has been) in my life.
 
May 14, 2009 - I got expanded again yesterday. My crazy body only took 50cc's this time, last time it was 120cc's. Good thing I didn't get too much, though, because it hurt again this time! Not as bad as last, but I still had a sore enough back and chest that I could barely sleep last night. Oh well, at least the pain is for something good! :) I have my 2nd chemo treatment tomorrow. :( That, I am not happy about. I really hope that it doesn't stop me in my tracks like the last treatment, but I need to be prepared if it does. Dave is trying to get prepared, too. It is also hard on him. I have to drink 3 liters of water today, 3 liters tomorrow, and 3 liters the next day to try to avoid a bladder infection this time around. Sure hope it works! I'll write from the chemo chair tomorrow! Stay tuned!
 
 
May 18, 2009 - I had chemo on Friday, May 15th and am just now writing. I got sick earlier this time, but not AS sick, which is good. I still didn't feel like talking to anyone...lots of fatigue, belly pains, but so far, no bladder infection! Hopefully that will last. I am trying to get over "chemo brain" right now. I am just trying to take it easy right now, as not to push myself too much and wear myself out. Today, I am working from home. I've been blessed to have Dave around to wait on me. He was off of work again during my chemo. It sure does help. I hate that all I do is sleep when we actually have FREE time together. I have been longing for free time with him and this is how we get it. At least we will have the cruise. I guess it is 2 chemo's down...and 4 to go. Still, if you ask me, 4 too many...but I've gotta do what I've gotta do. I cannot WAIT until it is over! 
 
May 18, 2009 (cont.) - It is near the end of my day. Why do I feel like crying? I am really not sad, I don't feel terrible, although I am a bit tired. I just feel all choked up for some reason. I have felt this way a couple of times in the past couple of days. I talked to Dave about it some last night. Sometimes I have those "why me" moments. Sometimes this is so difficult to swallow...thinking that I, me, Reanna Dee, I have been fighting cancer - at 34 years old! How does that seem fair, really? I must realize God has a plan, but sometimes it is so hard to accept. Some minutes I feel so strong, and others I feel so weak. Sometimes I just don't know which moment is going to come next. Dave tried to help me put some things in perspective last night. We are 2 chemo's down...and now we have a wonderful cruise to look forward to. Our personal time together, without cancer, without chemo. Just time to enjoy - together. It is something we really need. I so look forward to our special time together. Bald head and all!
 
May 20, 2009 - I feel so, so much better than the first round of chemo. I am back to myself - pretty much - already. I just tire out a wee bit earlier than normal. :) All is good. I hope they are all like this now...just a couple of days of rest and I'll be golden after each one. And one extra day for chemo brain. That stuff really makes you out of it! I want to send out a personal "thank you" to Christy Lampe-Combs. She created a great mohawk pic of me, for me! Check it out at the top of this page. I had mentioned I wanted to turn it into a tshirt! THANK YOU! :) Lots of love to everyone else for reading my diary, and for keeping up with me. I, myself, and Dave couldn't make it without all of your love, thoughts and prayers. God, we are so lucky! 
 
May 21, 2009 - When you have (or had) cancer, does it make your bad days that much worse? Or, is it just me? Maybe I was just feeling sorry for myself today (I was doing so well yesterday). Or, maybe I was just tired...I haven't slept very well the last few days (go figure, you sleep like crazy after chemo, then you can't sleep at all after that). I was very busy today at work, I felt like the day couldn't slow down, I had a bad attitude, and I wore myself down. Tonight, I cried for really no reason (we all have bad days) and then I went to Dairy Queen at about 9 pm for a blizzard. Oh yeah a fat blasting, million calorie, blizzard. Something I've tried so hard NOT to do. I have lost 6 pounds since my first chemo - because I WANTED to, I am trying to diet to lose a few pounds...and what do I do? I have a bad day and go for a BLIZZARD! Mom and dad didn't help matters - they drove PJ and I there. They should've just told me NO, but how could they talk me out of a blizzard after such a hard day? Of course, I was busted. Dave called (while he was at work) when we were IN THE DRIVE-THRU of DQ. Don't worry, I had planned to tell him I went - just not how late I went. I was going to tell him I "broke down." Of course, he reminded me that I reminded him that I "wanted to lose weight and BLIZZARDS weren't going to help." Oh yeah, and by the way, neither would that peanut butter and chocolate you had the other night to soothe your sweet cravings. Oh...I'm on a kick now. I'm going to finish my blizzard and go to bed. I get on the scale tomorrow when I have my blood tests. We'll see if I gained some of my weight back. Please holy scale, be good to me. I guess in the end, you could say I have much bigger "fish to fry," after all, I had cancer...what's a few pounds? But, I've got to get in a bathing suit for a kick-arse cruise in a couple of weeks. I need to be "bald and beautiful." :)
 
 
May 27, 2009 - It has been a while since I have written...so I want everyone to know that I am feeling GREAT! I am getting a bit of soreness in my mouth from those silly sores that chemo causes. Hopefully I can head them off before they get bad. :) I guess I'm just prone to them. I take everything I can NOT to get them. But anyway, I really have nothing to complain about. This chemo round was MUCH easier than the 1st one. Hopefully they'll all be easier through the next 4. Right now though, I am just looking forward to a few more weeks WITHOUT chemo. And, next week, we leave for our CRUISE! We cannot WAIT! Oh by the way...just saw the previous posting. I didn't gain weight. OK - I gained .2 pounds (it had to be the blizzard) ha ha.
 
June 2, 2009 - It has been a little while since I have written. I got "pumped up" today! wooo hooo! I am feeling good so far. No pain from that. Hopefully there won't be much. Sometimes my back and chest are sore. Chemo isn't affecting me much now...and I am so happy not to have to have chemo for a while. You know, no matter how much you say that you will slow down "after cancer," when life seems to be "back to normal," you are running 100 miles per hour again. At least I am. I need to learn to slow down...and hopefully I'll use our vacation to do so! We leave late tomorrow night with our wonderful friends, Melanie and Kevin. We are SOOO looking forward to our cruise! We NEED it! I am trying to decide what to do with my bald head when we are on the cruise. I know there will be times when I won't want to wear my wigs during the hot days...so I decided that I may want to either have a Henna tattoo all over the top and back of my head - some nice artwork - or a big 'ol happy face on the back of my head to make people laugh! :) we will see! I'll keep you posted...and we'll be sure to take some pictures of whatever we decide to do! 
 
June 16, 2009 - Wow, it has been a while since I have written! We are back from our absolutely WONDERFUL cruise. We shipped out on Royal Caribbean on June 4th and didn't get home until June 13th. We had a blast with our bestest of friends, Kevin and Melanie. We went to St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Dominican and we had 5 lovely days at sea. It was exactly what we needed. We had a great snorkeling trip in St. Thomas (with a few too many Rum Runners), we did a flight line 500 feet high, 2000 feet long, over the ocean in Haiti, and we did plenty of shopping. It was nice to get away from "reality" for a while, although I'd be lying if I said that I never thought about "what would happend when I returned." I'm staying positive though, as I have my 3rd chemo treatment this coming Thursday...and after that I will be HALF WAY DONE! :) Yay! It's going to be nice to put all of this behind us...and around the New Year, we're going to have a big bash to celebrate! I can't wait! :) I always like to have a reason to gather friends and family! Oh, and today I have another appointment for my "pump ups..." We'll see what the doc says. I may have to stop where I am. We will see. Anywho - I will write more later. I just wanted to update everyone and let you know, we are still out here....and refreshed! :)  
  
 
 
June 18, 2009 - Well, I have been anticipating it. I have another chemo treatment today. Round 3, here I come. Obviously, I am not looking forward to it, but at least after this treatment, I will be half-way done with chemo. YAY. This is definitely a PLUS! We'll see how this round goes...I'll keep you posted!
 
June 22, 2009 - I am back at work today after my third round of chemo. The worst part of it, I believe, is over...but I had kind of a rough weekend. I was very, very tired this time, and sick to my stomach. These expanders are killing me, too. My back hurts, my chest hurts. I can't wait to get them out. That'll be at least 6 to 8 weeks after my last chemo. I had the weekend to reflect on everything that has been going on, as Dave is out of town in California. I have missed him. He always knows what to do and say. Mom and dad have been great trying to take care of me during my chemo lapse and chemo brain. Poor things. They worry. I know it has to be hard seeing someone you love go through this. I have wanted to cry a few times this weekend. I'm not sure why. I felt myself asking "why" again, as my eyelashes start to disappear...one by one. But, then I try to bring myself back to earth and realize - only 3 more rounds. We are half-way through! That is something positive to hold on to! I (we) have made it this far...just 3 lousy chemos to go! Shoot. I sit here typing this and want to cry! Is it sadness I feel? Am I just tired? Or is a bit of relief that I am half way through this nasty treatment? Maybe it is a little bit of all of it. Lots of love to all who continue to read my diary. Thank you for sharing my story with me.
 
June 23, 2009 - I just thought about something and have to share. I hate to be egotistical, but I am very proud. I received 100% in my 2nd MBA course. Yes, 100%. I have a 4.0 so far. I am in my 3rd class now...Business Law. I'm sure the "best of the best" grades won't come all of the time, but I am very happy that I've been able to keep up so well, especially with everything else that has been going on! In the meantime, Dave is back home with Hannah in tow. She'll be staying with us for 3 and a half weeks. She's beautiful as always. I haven't gotten to spend a lot of time with her yet, as they got home at nearly 2 am in the morning and today I had to work. The brief time I did see her though, she seemed comfortable with my bald head. I worried about that. She asked me a lot of questions about what I had been going through (this morning when I was getting ready for work). She's figuring it all out. The goal is to make her as comfortable with it as PJ has been, and PJ is as comfortable with it as I have been. It's all in how you portray it to your children, I believe. Hannah will be able to accept it, just as PJ has. They are both beautiful, understanding, loving children. I am happy, and lucky to have them in my life!
 
June 26, 2009 - No matter how much you try to keep a positive attitude and a smile on your face, being tired always has a way of catching up with you. This has been a trying week for reasons that I cannot explain at this time. I will eventually, just not right now. Don't worry. I am fine. I haven't gotten a lot of sleep lately. My back aches, my chest aches, my arm aches (I've had problems with my arm for years and was in the process of trying to find out what it was - carpal tunnel, a pinched nerve - when I was diagnosed so that was put on hold). I cannot get comfortable when I am trying to sleep because of the aches - I believe mainly caused from these stupid, stupid expanders. I know, they are what are helping me feel like a woman again (at least I have boobs), but they really are a pain in the arse! If I didn't like my reconstruction doctor so much, I'd kick him in the arse for putting them in me! HA HA At least I have found a way to laugh - finally - this morning. I had a hard time on my way to work. I cried most of the way here. No, I wasn't upset to come to work. I love what I do. I guess everything has just been building up for the week and I had to release it all. And, when I get tired, it gets much, much worse. The crazy thunderstorms didn't help my sleep pattern last night either. I also don't do very well when I don't see my husband for long periods at a time. He is usually my scapegoat. My humorist. The one that keeps me up when I go a little blue. Since he was out of town for 4 days, things have been crazy at home, and he went back to work (he leaves for work - and I get home), I just haven't spent any time with him. I can't imagine going through this experience without him by my side. I wonder, if I didn't have him by my side would I have been as strong as I've been? My friends and family aren't "chop liver," but it is your spouse that spends most of the time caring for you. Family and friends tell me I'm an inspiration. Days like this, I don't feel like an inspiration. I guess I need to stop being so hard on myself, though. I am in a Business Law class for my MBA now. You may remember, the first class I received an A in, the second I received 100% in. Now, I am in this class and I turned in my first paper last weekend - during chemo brain. Apparently what I did wasn't right. I had to do it over and lost partial credit on it. It tore me up! I let it eat at me, and eat at me. I didn't like the fact that I didn't get a perfect score - like the last several papers I had turned in - in my HR course. Am I trying to be a perfectionist that just isn't perfect? Is this a complex that many people have? It is trying. Anyway...I need to wrap this up, as I have to get to work. I needed to write this entry this morning to ease my mind. It has helped. It's amazing how just writing your feelings down can really make things - tolerable. It is a good medicine.
 
July 2, 2009 - I'd be lying if I said this was getting easier. It's not. I think I had a little too much fun over the weekend, actually trying to live life. I played pool volleyball and I have been paying for it ever since. I am in pain across the right side of my chest, into my right side, and that pain shoots into my back. Guess I can't play volleyball in the pool. While I am ok sitting up right now, trying to sleep is just not tolerable. I tried my pain meds, sleeping pills, none of it helps. I am up every hour tossing and turning in bed. I ache. I can't even "toss and turn." I have to push my way up in bed to where I am sitting straight up then turn over and lay back down very gently. I can't lay any way for very long until it hurts too much and I have to move. I am very groggy today since I took the sleeping pill last night...that didn't help. I guess I will try the recliner tonight. Maybe I can sleep there. I am finally over all of my chemo "side effects," I think, from this last round. However, the effects of this treatment lasted longer than the first 2. I hope it is not a sign of what is to come. I am very emotional right now...for all of these reasons and others I cannot explain right now. I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired...and I know it is wearing on Dave too. Don't get me wrong. We are doing fine, but we are both very tired of going through all of this and cannot wait until it is over. It can really take a toll on you and those around you. I really, really do try to stay positive. It's not as difficult when you aren't feeling the pain. Maybe this past week has just been a little set-back...and it will pass. Although, before I know it, there will be chemo again (Friday, July 10th). I guess I need to look forward to whatever I can look forward to because the next one is on its way...but at least after it, there will be 2 left. I can't wait to get the chemo done and these damn expanders - OUT! 
 
July 10, 2009 - Chemo day. YUCK. I hope this one goes better than my last one did...We will see. At least this time my hubby will be home and Hannah will be here to keep me company. Not that all of the other company I got last time with chop liver...I just like my hubby to be around and extremely miss him when he's not. Well, by now, many of you know that someone very close to me has been diagnosed with cancer. It is something I have been trying to talk about in previous posts, without mentioning it because I couldn't at the time. I am not going to go into the details of who and what they have. That is not for me to discuss. But, I have to tell you, it breaks my heart to see this happening. I don't want to see this person go through the feelings that I have gone through, and the pain that I have gone through. Don't get me wrong, this is a strong person, and I know this person can handle anything the world, God, sends her way...but it is going to be a rough road. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. Now I know how people felt around me, the ones who I thought, "why can't they just say something? They are supposed to be my friend." I too, don't know what to say. I am at a loss for words, worrying about the next outcome of tests, but wanting to show my strength and good attitude for this person...beause the only way to get through something like this, the bad C word, cancer, is to be STRONG, to be POSITIVE, to use HUMOR, to be surrounded by LOVE, and to have FAITH. God is testing us right now, this family. We have to be strong. This person and I are reading "The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For?" It really makes you put things into perspective...really makes you think about things. Hopefully it'll help me understand why things like this happen to such good people. I am a bit angry over all of this...but trying to let that anger go. There's no sense in being angry...as I'm learning, "it is what it is." We are here for a greater purpose. I am trying to learn what my purpose is.
 
July 17, 2009 - Wow! I cannot believe it has been a whole week since I have written in my diary. As you know, I had another chemo treatment on the 10th. It hit me pretty hard again. I slept for days, and had an unusual reaction this time around. A couple of times I nearly passed out! One time I was in the shower, I got dizzy, started seeing black and speckles of light, and jumped out of the shower really fast before I passed out. I thought maybe I just had the water too hot. Right after that, I decided I'd just go back to sleep. Later, I started to feel better, I was standing and talking to my mom, then "checked out." I wasn't there. All of a sudden I got really dizzy and Dave said my lips turned blue and my face turned pale white. It was a really strange, scary feeling that I haven't had before. I haven't had any more spells like this, but I plan to ask the nurses about it today when I get my blood checked. One week after every chemo treatment I have to be poked again to make sure my blood counts are where they need to be. Boy, will I be happy when all of this poking is over! Needles suck! So, now it is bittersweet...I have 2 more chemo's to go. I don't know if I want to be happy or cry! I guess it is best to stay on the positive side and realize, hell, I've already been through 4...what is 2 more? Let's get these "bad boys" knocked out! :) I seriously cannot wait. What a relief it will be for me...and for my family. It makes me want to cry - right now - just thinking about the relief it will bring all of us. Although someone else close to me will probably be starting treatments soon...I'll be happy to be able to be strong enough to help this person through hers though. This person will need all of the support they can get....along with the significant other. On another note, I am getting ready to try to put a team together for the RACE FOR THE CURE, October 10th, 2009 in downtown Louisville. If you are interested in walking with my team, please let me know. I would love my family and friends to be there. It is going to be such an inspirational and emotional day! I cannot wait for this! I'll be setting up a team page, as soon as I can come up with a team name. There is a registration fee, and/or you can make donations to the team. We will have team shirts, donated by Print Tex, USA. I want to thank them so much for their support. And, one last note. I've heard a song on the radio a couple of times and gotten all "teary eyed" when I heard it play on my way to work. The words inspire me, and remind me of my Dave. The love we share is so, so grand. I heard the song again this morning and decided, "I have to know what the name of this song is and get the lyrics to it." So, I want to share it with you. I only hope that all of you find the kind of love and support that Dave and I have found in eachother. The song is "Amazed" by Lonestar. 
 
"Amazed"
Every time our eyes meet
This feeling inside me
Is almost more than I can take
Baby when you touch me
I can feel how much you love me
And it just blows me away
I've never been this close to anyone or anything
I can hear your thoughts
I can see your dreams

I don't know how you do what you do
I'm so in love with you, it just keeps getting better
I wanna spend the rest of my life with you by my side
Forever and ever
Every little thing that you do
Baby I'm amazed by you

The smell of your skin
The taste of your kiss
The way you whisper in the dark
Your hair all around me, baby you surround me
You touch every place in my heart
Oh, it feels like the first time every time
I wanna spend the whole night in your eyes

I don't know how you do what you do
I'm so in love with you, it just keeps getting better
I wanna spend the rest of my life with you by my side
Forever and ever
Every little thing that you do
Baby I'm amazed by you

Every little thing that you do
I'm so in love with you
It just keeps getting better
I wanna spend the rest of my life with you by my side
Forever and ever
Every little thing that you do
Oh, every little thing that you do
Baby I'm amazed by you

 
 
July 24, 2009 - My RACE FOR THE CURE team name has finally been chosen! YAY! To view my personal page for the event, go to http://www.komenlouisville.org/site/TR?pg=personal&fr_id=1030&px=1038541. If you would like to walk with my team, (and get a really cool team t-shirt), or if you would just like to make a donation, let me know. I would love to have my family and special friends join in on this day. Without all of you (and my wonderful husband) this fight would not have been near as easy as it has been. Get more information on Team Double Dee at the website above. I hope you can join us!
 
July 27, 2009 - MAKING STRIDES, American Cancer Society walk. I just want you to know that if you can't participate in the Race for the Cure with me, I am also creating a team for the Making Strides event on October 25th. This will probably be a smaller team, as I had already committed to doing the Race for the Cure and making that my main event, but I still plan to participate in this one because it means so much to me. I will raise what I can for the event, and be happy to walk, in support of it. My personal page is http://makingstrides.acsevents.org/site/TR/MakingStridesAgainstBreastCancer/MSABCFY10National?px=12307753&pg=personal&fr_id=19714. If you'd like to walk in the event, please let me know...of if you'd like to make a donation, I would be very happy to accept it. Please, don't feel the need to donate to both. I am not trying to hit everyone up for money two times over. I am just happy to invite people to share in the days with me. Time is special. If you are already participating in the Race for the Cure with TEAM DOUBLE DEE, and would like to walk in this event as well, we'll wear the same Team t-shirts, courtesy PrintTex USA. Thank you all!  PS - I'm feeling good today....next chemo coming up on Thursday! Hey - and if you are reading this, don't forget to email me once in a while! I'm starting to get lonely here! :)
 
July 28, 2009 - Well, my 5th chemo is just 2 days away. I can't help but feel a bit irritated that it is already time for another one, however, I am glad that they are almost over. They are right about it zapping your energy, as I have been feeling pretty tired lately. I guess not trying to go 110 mph per minute would help. But, those who know me, know how I am. I just wear out a lot more quickly. I often wonder if others feel this way, or if I'm just a wimp sometimes. I hate feeling tired and having to sit around. I want to go, Go, GO! I guess we'll see how this one goes...I'll keep you posted on how I'm feeling. After this one....then just one more to go! I'll be dancing my way to that one! :)
 
July 30, 2009 - I cried on my way to work today. Not for me. Chemo day is nothing new for me, just another bittersweet event that will soon end. I cried for my aunt who has her first chemo treatment today. I feel terrible. I tried to talk to her this morning, and got upset. I just wanted to put positive thoughts in her...and couldn't help but cry becuase I hate to see her go through this. I wanted to be there next to her side, holding her hand, telling her it was going to be okay - no worries. She has her fiance and her sister (my mom) there, who are soooo much more than capable of taking care of her. They have both teen absolutely wonderful. I just wish that I could do more for her. I wish I could take it all away. While the cancers are different, and I would never compare mine to hers, now I know how people that love me felt and do feel seeing me go through what I've gone through. I think it is easier having the cancer I have than it is seeing someone you love go through it. God is really testing my strength! Well, I'd better wrap this up and get to work. Chemo is coming later this afternoon.
 
August 3, 2009 - I've had a rough ride this time around. It seems the chemo took a little longer to hit me...but when it hit, it sure hit. Yesterday I had another dizzy spell, I was sick to my stomach all day, and that's when I wasn't sleeping. I woke up in the middle of the night nauseaus again, and with a killer headache...that's because I had a temp of 102. I had to go to the hospital today for fluids and blood cultures. My temp went down...but by 1:30 this afternoon, it was back up to near 102 again. We're waiting to find out if there's any infection or anything. They said the blood culture takes 24 hours. They are hoping it is just a fluke, but why the heck won't this temp go away? As if chemo isn't bad enough...ya know? This sucks. Period. Will update when I know more. 
 
August 4, 2009 - 4:08 pm....and I think I am out of my chemo funk! I don't have a temp anymore, I don't feel like I have chemo brain, I don't feel sick to my stomach, and I have finally felt like bathing! ha ha I still don't know what the temp was all about...I never got the update from the docs. Maybe it was just a fluke. Now, I can look forward to only 1 more chemo to go! As Dave said, next time, we'll be ready...with the thermometer, the Ibuprofen, and the Tylenol to tackle the temp if it comes again. Of course, not one chemo has really been the same for me. We'll see what the next one holds. In the meantime, except for another dang "stick" to check my blood count, I can feel good and not have to think chemo until August 20th! The last one! AMEN! I wanted to share that I received a really nice email today from a person whom I don't know...who shared their story with me. One month after I had my surgery, she had breast cancer surgery. She mentioned she "wondered if life would ever be normal" again. I think that we have to decide, ourselves, if life is going to be normal. Sure, we may have our scares, but we can't live "cancer," and worry about it recurring constantly. Eventually, the chemo will be over, our eyelashes and hair will grow back, and we may have new boobs (depending on what each of us choose). Except for the regular visits to the doctor's office to check on our progress, life can be pretty much "back to normal." Barring anything terrible happening. Which I hate to even consider. At this point, I choose my "back to normal" life...which I hope is not so normal because I hope that out of all of this I have learned a lesson...and I can stick to it. That my normal ol life before cancer wasn't as fulfilled and appreciated as much as it is today. While I hate cancer, I appreciate the world it has opened my mind up to. It's one that I can appreciate a whole lot more. Including spending more time with my family and friends and having more faith. Those are the most important things, as my new "friend," whom I do not know, has mentioned.
 
August 4, 2009, 9:01 pm - Well crap. It's back. Temp of 101.5. Something HAS to be going on...calling the doc tomorrow morning...
 
August 5, 2009 - Well, well, well...I called my doc's office this morning and they said "stay home and monitor your progress..." take this, this, this and this for all of these symptoms and take ibuprofen or tylenol for a temp if it comes back...and if you get a temp again, call us. I waited ALL day, I felt better, I worked from home...all was good and I thought, OK, maybe I am over this. And GUESS WHAT? 9:15 pm - I caught my temp at 99.9 degrees. Oh yeah. Here we go again. I have taken Tylenol tonight so once again, I'm sure the meds will bring it down. Then, it's another call to the doc in the morning. Boy, will I be glad when this is over!
 
August 6, 2009 - Good news, I think! It seems that my temp hasn't shown its ugly face tonight! Maybe the high temps are over! YAY! No more sweating the bed up! :) However, I did have to go back to the doc today to check in, get poked again, and show the rash that showed up on my side a few days ago...which started to get a bit painful to the touch today. It appears...drum roll please! It is SHINGLES! I tell you, if it isn't one thing, it sure is another! Doc said we caught it early though, so hopefully the antibiotics will kick in quick and take care of things before it gets too bad. She asked me if it was itchy. Of course, it wasn't when I was in, but now...oh now...it's hard not to think about it not itching. It's not terrible, and the pain isn't terrible...but you just know it is there. It's like that little itch in the back of your throat...you always know it's there. I can deal with it though...as long as I don't have to be poked again until my next chemo...let the countdown begin! August 20th, here we come! Then, we are DONE!
 
August 6, 2009 (cont.) - Before I sign off tonight, I just wanted to take the time to send out a heart felt "thank you" for the genuine support I have gotten over the past several months. I am so lucky to have my husband Dave in my life to help me through this, and my mother and father by my side. My step-daughters PJ and Hannah who have been so understanding and helpful...And the close friends and few family members who have really been by my side. I love you all so much. Second, I was in awe when I checked my Facebook page after I wrote "fighting a temp again, chemo, chemo go away." I was absolutely amazed to see the response I received from friends who supported me, encouraged me to stay strong, and those who sent me love and hugs. I really do feel like such a blessed person to have people think enough to post a note to me...in hopes of my feeling better. It's things like this, and the true love that I have in my life that keeps me strong!
 
August 14, 2009 - I really meant to write in my diary yesterday, as I looked at the clock at about 1:40 pm and thought, "one week from right now I will be in the chemo chair for the last time!" It is so bittersweet. I cannot wait to get it over. Yet, I am a bit scared to go in, as this last chemo was really hard on me and my body. But, I am ready. I want this over with! I don't know if I'll walk in smiling...or crying from relief. Either way, it will be a joyous day, and I am hoping it doesn't hit me too quick that night, as I'd like to have a drink or two to celebrate. I don't care if I'm sitting on my couch drinking a Miller Lite! :) As I get to celebrate, though, my aunt gets her second round of chemo. It is hard to celebrate when I know she is going through it. She is on my mind all of the time. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. She is an amazing person, and those of us who have her in our life are blessed. It's amazing how sickness brings a family closer, that I already thought was close. It makes you sad that you missed some things, but happy that you still have the chance to share others. If I could give any advice tonight, it would be stop what you are doing. Take time to cuddle your husband or wife on the couch and tell them you love them, every single day. Leave notes for them when you can. Give your child a big hug and tell them you love them. Tell your mother how much you adore her and how thankful you are that she has been there for you all of these years. Tell your father thank you for watching out for you all of those years, and thank him even when he "didn't want to let go." Thank your close family member who has had an open ear for so long and listened to you complain or be upset about situations you've let yourself get in to. And, tell your best friends how much you love and appreciate them. For, you couldn't make it through life without all of these people...or, maybe you could, but life wouldn't be so grand.
 
August 19, 2009 - I had my last PUMP UP today! Yippee - one more thing down. I have my surgery date for my new boobs, too. October 14th. They tell me it is a procedure that will last part of the day, then I will be able to go home. I was glad to hear that. They said I'd probably feel some pain and discomfort for a while, especially with the fat-graphting (sp?). I'm so glad to have a "light at the end of that tunnel." Of course, tomorrow will be a bittersweet day. It is my last chemo. Dave and I are a bit nervous on what to expect. He and I are hoping the last one was just a fluke and that this one won't be worse. I guess we will see. At least, even if I'm sick for a week, it will be over! Dave and I are so excited for that, and ready for our lives to really begin again. Cancer has put some things on hold...has changed things in our home. I'm not saying it is always down or up...it's just there. The reminder - my baldness - my tiredness - my aching back and chest. His worries of trying to take care of me. It can become difficult. Then, we have an 8 year old around and you have to wonder how it all affects her. She doesn't really act like it does...but sometimes you have to wonder. I talk to her about it on occassion. She's a strong little girl. Anyway, Dave and I are tired...we are ready for it to be over. The chemos, the fatigue, the baldness, the aches and pains, the lack of working out...it'll be nice to get life "back to normal," if there is a normal! Will write again soon...
 
August 21, 2009 - Let the side effects begin! I am already starting to feel some side effects from yesterday LAST chemo treatment. I'm feeling groggy, a little "chemo brained," and I am starting to smell chemo. It seems to have hit a bit earlier this time. I hope that is good news and it will end sooner. We will have to wait and see. I'm just so glad the last one is FINISHED! The girls at Louisville Oncology were so sweet yesterday. They threw me a little "party" for my last round. They came in the room with confetti and bubbles and a nice little chocolate lava cake. It was a nice surprise to a bittersweet day. I haven't cried yet - from relief. I don't know if I will. We'll see how I feel AFTER the side effects are over. Then maybe I'll need to sit down and let out a big sigh of relief and tears. Or maybe I'll just party. Who knows! I have blood work next week, then my next big doctor appt. is my expander surgery October 14th. That's when I can REALLY breathe a sigh of relief...and it will all be over! For the most part, at least. Of course, I will be following up regularly with the doc - every 3 months at first - to make sure I am cancer free. What a relief.
 
August 23, 2009 - I am sitting here, trying to write a paper for my MBA class, but I just can't get out of my chemo fog. I am happy this is all it is, though. So far this time, all I have felt is fatigue, fog, and a bit sick to my stomach. It's kind of like a really bad hangover. Your body feels tired and heavy, your tummy feels sour, you have a slight headache...nothing you can't get over...and it could be a lot worse. Hopefully, this is the worst it will get. I keep waiting for the boogy man to come out and show his face. Is this it? I'm waiting. It's 3 days out right now as I write. I'll keep you posted.
 
August 27, 2009 - Well, I think this is it. I think I am finally over the hump! Yeah, I am still a little tired, but I think I can finally say "this is it." It is over! No more chemo's! I'm slowly but surely starting to feel like me again. Well, as best I can. I still get worn out walking up a flight of steps. I'd better get my butt in gear though, because I plan to start walking 4 or 5 miles at a time beginning next week. Dave and I are going to do it together to get back in shape and to shed a few "chemo and cancer pounds" that we have put on! :) I am so excited to get back into the swing of things. I want our lives back! I sit here writing this, wanting to cry. Realizing, slowly but surely, we can get our lives back on track...and it will be better than it has been yet. We have a new respect for life, we want to live it, and we are ready. I'm still waiting to sit down and have a great big cry. A cry for relief. It's not like me NOT to cry out of happiness, fear, sadness...I am an emotional person. I am not afraid to admit it. When that day comes, I will welcome it.
 
NOW ---- I AM RAISING MONEY IN THE FIGHT AGAINST BREAST CANCER!!! AND, IF YOU DONATE JUST $5 YOU CAN GET ONE OF THESE COOL BRACELETS! MY TALENTED FRIEND AND CO-WORKER, CYNTHIA MULLIKEN IS DONATING HER TIME TO MAKE THESE BRACELETS FOR THIS GREAT CAUSE!
 
 
To get one of these bracelets, make a minimum $5 donation to my Race for the Cure team, Team Double Dee. Go to my personal page at:
http://www.komenlouisville.org/site/TR?pg=personal&fr_id=1030&px=1038541 or make a donation to my American Cancer Society Making Strides team at: http://makingstrides.acsevents.org/site/TR/MakingStridesAgainstBreastCancer/MSABCFY10National?px=12307753&pg=personal&fr_id=19714. Be sure to email me on this website or at rsmith-hamblin@louisville.bbb.org to let me know you made a donation and want one of the bracelets. If you would like more bracelets, let me know. You can order them through me, from Cynthia for a minimal cost. :) Thanks!
 
August 30, 2009 - Well, I spoke too soon. I thought I was over the hump, and today I am lying on the couch with a fever, a headache, coughing up green, a sore throat, and I'm just plain worn out. I am upset. I was so excited to get back to normal life...I was ready for it all to be over and thought that Dave and I would get to start our excercising on Monday...now I am on antibiotics for days because of an infection. When does this crap end? This has gotten me a little down. Don't worry. I'll get better. I always pull through it...but this sucks. Do you feel sorry for me yet? I cannot sleep and I have gotten myself engrossed in entirely too many Lifetime movies. Oh, just let me tell you...a man fakes his death so that he can marry another woman, another man is obsessed with a girl and she doesn't want him so he eventually throws himself off a cliff then haunts her, oh yeah, and then there's the obsessed mom who doesn't want to let her daughter go...so she slices her wrist and tries to kill her daughter's dog because she's not at home and out with a man! I tell you, it's been a long afternoon! I really did try to sleep, but I couldn't....and I was just so engrossed in these terrible acting movies! Anyway...time to rest. I have to get better and get back to all of those Lifetime movies.
 
September 3, 2009 - OK. Anyone who is going through chemo needs to know that yes, you CAN get sick by going out to work a booth at the KY State Fair. It is ripe for germs. Unfortunately, I am too hard headed and decided to go out to work out booth anyway, despite my low white blood cell count. I ended up with an upper respiratory infection, several days of a high fever, and now I just continue to cough my head off. A co-worker came into my office and handed me a bunch of cough drops and hard candy. You think he was trying to tell me something? Anyway, don't think you can't get sick with those low counts...it can still happend. Mine just decided to happen after my very last chemo. A way to give me a good "punch" as I said "goodbye to chemo." Well, I'll show you, it said! I'm getting better day by day...but I am going to be happy when the cough is gone and I can get out and "begin life."
 
September 11, 2009 - Things are going well here. I am feeling better and am learning to get back into the routine of things. I've been very busy with work...school...and life. I am counting down the days to my next surgery - can't wait! I'm ready to get these expanders OUT! I won't know what to do with myself! We are headed to Florida soon - to enjoy ourselves - and see my aunt and soon to be uncle - get married. Can't wait...and so, so, so happy for them. I love them so much! OK - signing off - just wanted to give a quick update.
 
September 25, 2009 - Wow, it has been a while since I have written! I guess, in this case, no news is good news! I am feeling better, day by day. I am getting my energy back (slowly but surely...I couldn't run a mile yet if I had to), my hair is starting to grow back, and I have my life back in many ways. We just got back from Florida to see my aunt get married. I am so happy for Rhonda and Sammy. What a beautiful wedding! I am so proud of them and so happy for them. They have a journey ahead of them that is unsure, and for that, I look up to them for their strength and courage. They are so lucky to have each other. I feel lucky to have been at their wedding, and I know Dave and PJ did too. PJ held the rings for them. It was so sweet. What a wonderful day for Rhonda and Sammy, and we are so thankful to have been a part of it. We love them both - tremendously!
 
Congrats to Rhonda and Sammy!
 
September 27, 2009 - I had kind of an emotional day today. I really haven't had an emotional day since I had my last chemo. It has kind of surprised me...but today, I did. I get tired of looking in the mirror and seeing no eyebrows, chunky eyelashes, very little hair, chemo weight, discolored skin, and disformed boobs. I try to look past it most days, and say, "soon enough, I will be ME again." Most of the time, I can get past it. Today though, I was looking at some pictures, and realized, I looked like a cancer patient. Many of the pictures were from our cruise, the vacation to get us away from all of the cancer and chemo. But, it was always "right there." You could see it all over my face. Don't get me wrong, it was nice to get away...but it was still there. I really hope that next year we can afford to have a nice vacation chemo and cancer free. Dave and I need that time. I looked at these pictures and just cried today. Dave looked at me like I was crazy...then gave me a big hug and reminded me that everything gets better from here. I thought about it all for most of the day today. I listed to music and cried. I am really not sure why I have been crying (and want to cry now). Maybe it is the fact that I am so extremely tired of feeling and looking like a cancer patient. Maybe it is the tiredness and shortness of breath I get when I do very little and wonder, when will I be able to really be active again? Maybe it is the fact that I hate how uncomfortable these stupid expanders are (at least they come out soon). Maybe it's the fact that I feel so unlike a woman it makes me sad. I cannot wait to feel like I "look like" a woman again. My husband can say whatever he wants - and yes - it comforts me...but I need to feel like I look like a woman and it is hard to feel that way when you don't have any hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and disformed boobs. I have been doing ok with this - or at least just accepting it. I guess I am just having an emotional day. I know that the hardest part of this journey is over...and it is all uphill from here. I get the expanders out and will feel more comfortable in 2 and a half weeks, my hair is growing slowly but surely, and my eyebrows are coming back in - a little at a time...right now it is blonde hairs that are coming in their place (sure with that was the fact with the hair on my head - then I wouldn't have to dye it!). I know eventually I will feel like a "woman" again. It was just a difficult day. Maybe I needed it. I have been keeping the feelings in - looking at myself in the mirror, wishing that I could be normal again. I hadn't really shared that with my husband...until today. Until I sat there, looking at the pictures of our trip, then crying. I took him by surprise, but it was helpful to let it out and for him to be there when I did it. I don't know what I would do without him!
 
October 5, 2009 - I'm doing much better than I was on my previous entry. I did my first "business interview" without my wig today. It was an interview with WHAS11. It felt good to let "Dee" out. I questioned it at first, not sure if I was ready. I am ok running around without my wig, but was a little afraid to do a "business interview" with it off. I wanted to look "professional." But, this is me. Plus, I cannot express enough how TIRED I am of wigs! I will wear them from time to time...but I am just about OVER them! I just got a very special delivery, too. A beautiful bouquet of flowers from mom and dad. The card said, "You are so beautiful. We love you. Mom and Dad." Thanks a lot for making me all teary eyed at work you two. :) Sometimes I just can't help crying when I am happy, I guess. I absolutely love the flowers, though. A nice way to brighten a day - that has been very busy! I'm counting down the days to the walk. The Race for the Cure is this coming Saturday. We are still accepting donations for "Team Double Dee." You can find the link to my page in a previous entry (not long ago). Out of over 320 teams, we were 10th on the fundraising list. We were just kicked off the list today...but we are close! Lots of love to all! :)
 
October 7, 2009 - Here is a link to our story on whas11! http://www.whas11.com/video/whas11video-index.html?nvid=405001
 
October 11, 2009 - The Race for the Cure was yesterday, and wow! It is amazing how much support there is for breast cancer survivors. I felt so overwhelmed yesterday, and blessed. The crowd was amazing, cheering, rattling their shakers, the chants, the smiles, the massive array of pink - all for breast cancer survivors and awareness. I, myself, was blessed with "Team Double Dee." About 50 of us walked the family walk. I want each and every one of those people who walked with me yesterday to know how deeply blessed I felt to have them by my side. I got home yesterday after the walk and I cried over the overwhelming support that I had yesterday from my family and friends. I know life gets busy, and I appreciate you all being by my side. I also very much appreciate those who didn't get to walk with us, but they helped round up donations. You all are also amazing to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Lots of love to you all!!! 
 
 
 
 
 
October 13, 2009 - Just one day until surgery! Woo Hoo! I get these daggone expanders out and the silicones and fat in! I absolutelly cannot wait! I cannot tell you enough how terrible these expanders have been! My sleep has gotten worse and worse as I toss and turn and toss and turn in bed. There is an end in sight! I haven't had a concern at all over this surgery. I am excited over it, not afraid of any pain, it couldn't be anything like I've been through. Dave asked me if I was nervous. I said "no," and then I asked him how he felt. And, he really put something into perspective for me, this morning. That is why I just HAD to write. He said "no, I'm not nervous. It is not like last time where I had to sit and worry...wondering if the cancer had spread to your lymph nodes, if it was all in your body..." What kind of hell must my family have been going through when I was laying on that operating table? While it was obviously difficult on me, I cannot imagine the pain they were feeling, waiting and wondering, what if? Then, the relief they received when God smiled down upon them, sent the doctor out and he said "the lymph nodes are clear." Dave doesn't know how what he said really "struck me" this morning. It brought me back all the way to the beginning. Not from sadness and fear...but from relief...knowing we are nearing the end of the road of this journey. Yes, cancer will always be a part of me. I will have my normal check-ups, and be nervous until I hear "all clear," but...I am slowly creeping up the road, climbing the mountain...Dee is almost back.
 
October 15, 2009 - I had my surgery yesterday! Woo Hoo! Got rid of those nasty expanders, and had my silicone breasts put in and some fat grafting done to fill in some spots. I must say, everyone was right...I am pretty sore today, but nothing I can't handle. It's a relief to have the day over. Now I just need to heal. I have to tell you, when I registered yesterday morning, I had a flashback. It upset me at first. Dave could see it in my eyes. I thought about when I had been in the hospital for a much worse surgery, scared to death, all of us not knowing what the doctors might find. I snapped out of it. Then I had a little cry when my family wasn't looking. (actually, it was after the nurse told me she was going to put the IV in my hand instead of my arm. I had always had them put in my arm - i've never had one in my hand - I didn't know what to expect and I think that was the last straw!) Anyway...that is over, and I'm on the "road to recovery" with my new boobs. Thanks Dr. Thornton!!!!!! You are the best!
 
October 17, 2009 - The pain really isn't that bad. The first and second days, it hurt to stand up and sit down especially for long periods at a time...and my sides hurt from the surgery, but it wasn't pain that I couldn't live with. I took pain pills for the first night and part of the next day, and then I was off of them. Don't get me wrong. The soreness isn't the most pleasant thing in the world, but definitely tolerable. The doctor removed my expanders and put in silicone breast implants. Then, he took fat out of my thighs (like Lipo) and filled in the spots where he needed to fill in. It was an interesting process. (Bonus! I lost fat from my thighs!) :) hee hee Anyway, the worst thing about this whole procedure is having to wear spanx for 2 weeks! Yuck! Men, you have not a clue! These things are terrible. I challenge any one of you to try them on for just a day! They are supposed to make a woman look thinner...but I have to wear them to keep the "fat in place" after it being sucked out of my thighs. OK, yuck. TMI!
 
October 29, 2009 - It has been a while since I have written! I start to feel bad that I haven't written in my journal, then I feel that I really need to, then I wonder if anyone is even reading it. It doesn't really matter, as it is just as much for me (if not more) than it is for anyone else who is reading it. Although I love to hear from people who are...(hint, hint). Anyway, I have been trying to get used to my "new boobs." It has been 2 weeks and 1 day since my surgery (to get the expanders out and the silicones in). It was not a rough procedure at all. It has taken me a while. First, all you can see are the scars...they have a certain glue on them and they really stand out. Sometimes it is hard to look past them to see what is underneath. After that, I started wondering, "are they big enough?" I mean, come on, if you are going to go through the hell that I went through, you'd better get what you want at the end, right!?!?!? It is very strange going from those expanders that are hard, that sit up in your face, that look HUGE, to the nice soft silicones. (although I haven't slept this good in ages!) You look down, and they just don't POP OUT like they did in the expanders. So, they looked kind of small to me...however, I have had a "come to Jesus" as they would say. They are not small. In fact, they are pretty daggone large. I won't get into details because I can see the men blushing, but let's just say I tried to put my old C bra on the other night and it just wouldn't go over them. My doc (whom I see today)....who is the best reconstructive surgeon in the world...not just because of his work, but because of his heart, told me that you just don't get that "cleavage" on top with the implants like you are used to with the expanders....but he said there are things we can do. I'll learn what those things are soon. And, I'll be sure to tell him I was not smoking crack when I mentioned they may not be big enough, before. Enough "boob" talk though (it seems to be all that is on my mind these days!). Soon enough, I will be going for my blood test. It is in mid-November. I am nervous. All signs point to an "all clear..." however, until you hear "all clear" it is a bit nerve wrecking. It is all I want to hear so that I can move on with my life....(for the most part, anyway!) PS - the hair is starting to COME BACK! I have a little over a Quarter inch!
 
 
 
 November 4, 2009 - My husband and I had a talk last night. While cancer can be very stressful on a marriage, I think "post cancer" can be even more stressful. It is the "getting back to your life" that can be so difficult. You both want it, but how do you "let go" of cancer? My husband is ready to "let go." He is convinced that I am cancer free. I don't see why I am not cancer free, but I have to have the "proof." I need that blood test to know that I am. After all, 9 months ago, I would have never thought I could have gotten cancer. He is tired of being tired, tired of the fight, tired of the "c" work, and tired of pink. I can't blame him. It has been all we have known for the past 9 months...and it has been trying. I am tired of it all too. I can't be upset with him for how he feels, because I feel the same way. I won't be upset because he helped me through all of the trying times...the times that no one else knows about...some of the times that I didn't share in this diary...the times where he held me and told me it was going to be ok. But, there has been enough crying over cancer. There has been enough long weekends sick on the couch. We want our LIVES back! We have always been very social people...having parties at our house, hanging out with friends and family, going out, doing things...but the last 9 months, we have done much of nothing. We both MISS doing things. We MISS having wicked Disco Parties at our house! :) I want to "graduate" from cancer, and I am trying to figure out exactly HOW to do that. I have new boobs, my hair is growing back, my energy level goes up more and more...things are looking up. I have not graduated to giving my wigs away yet...hopefully I will be able to do that in the near future. And, it is hard to not look in the mirror every day and see "cancer." I don't have any freakin' hair! However, these are all things that i can accept, and move on with. But the question still lies.....how do you "graduate" from cancer. Inquiring minds want to know.
 
November 11, 2009 - I got quite a note from one of my friends about "cancer." I met her when my jouney began. She is with the group, Young Survivor's in Louisville...a group for women with breast cancer under the age of 40. I am not stating her name, because I am not sure she wants her name "out there," but I will say she has been an inspiration to me, and I'm sure many, with her wonderful smiles and positive attitude. I wanted to share with you what she wrote to me...because it made a lot of sense.
 
"In answer to your question--not that I have the answers, please know that!!--but in my life how it has played out.....I don't know if you ever fully graduate from having cancer. It does become a part of who you are---for each experience we have makes us who we are. So we would not be the person we are at this moment if not for our cancer journey. I have found however, that you live this new normal--post-cancer--life. One that you go about some days where cancer never enters your mind and other days where you can hardly breathe because the fear of recurrence is so strong. Days where you are overwhelmed at God's goodness in your life and other days where satan has a foothold on all your thoughts and you wonder if you will ever feel like your "old self". But everyday you are more than thankful for your life, the people in it, and the Lord for every single blessing He has so graciously given you."

So...maybe you don't "graduate" from cancer...you had it, it is part of your journey. However, you can CHOOSE how to live your life. Yeah, it is scary. But, you can choose how you want to spend the rest of your life...being thankful that you have it and living each day to the fullest, or you can be frightened all of the time, think about it on a daily basis, and be down and out. We choose the latter. We want to live our lives...and have even more fun than we did "pre-cancer." It is time to start living again!
 
November 12, 2009 - I had my blood test today...a little anxious, but sure it is ok. I should get my results tomorrow. I will keep you all posted. Also, I just realized I had not posted pics of my Team Double Dee shirt and my favorite doc! Here are some fun pics to share...
 
 
 
  
 
November 13, 2009 - I just got my blood test results! I am ALL CLEAR....CANCER FREE!!!!!!! I tell you, I am so RELIEVED that I cannot stop crying! There is a part of me that knew things would be ok...but I'm telling you, the relief doesn't come until you hear those words...ALL CLEAR. I am a human waterfall...as all I can do is cry over the relief. My God, we have been blessed! Thank you to ALL of you for your prayers, love, and support!
 
November 22, 2009 - I took Dave to the hospital last week for a colonoscopy. Everything turned out ok, but I have to admit, I really, really hate hospitals now. Seeing him lying in that hospital bed brought tears to my eyes. It brought some anxiety to me. Part of me was reminded of being in the hospital for my surgeries, but the other part of me was anxious seeing him in a hospital bed. I can't imagine seeng him in a hospital bed for something as serious as cancer or a heart attack or something. I know that must have been so hard on him through my surgeries. He was so strong through all of it. Everything else is going well...working hard, going strong, and the hair is coming back. Lots of love to all!
 
November 25, 2009 - This Thanksgiving has an extra special meaning this year. I am so thankful for my family, my friends...and LIFE. Thank you God for these blessings this Thanksgiving day. Please bless all of those around us...who we love. And special blessings to Rhonda and Sammy. God, please watch over them this Thanksgiving day. Lots of love to all...
 
December 8, 2009 - I have another surgery scheduled for December 23rd. Yeah, I know, 2 days before Christmas...but I want this OVER!!!! I will get some "imperfections" fixed, more fat sucked, and a couple of other little "womanly" things that I don't have to make me feel "whole" again. I look forward to getting past the surgery and having a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!
 
December 21, 2009 - Wow, it has been a while since I have written! Just a couple of days until my LAST surgery! Woo Hoo! I am so excited! I just learned today that I am going through MENOPAUSE! Oh yes, these seriously are HOT FLASHES! Yuck! This can happen to women who have gone through chemo...and it is a waiting game now on whether it will go away or whether I'll continue to go through it. I'm headed back on "the pill" to see if we can kick start my body. We will see! In the meantime, Christmas is quickly approaching, and I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am definitely looking at this holiday season in a new light. Take a step back, and take a look at your family and friends. Now, be thankful for them, treasure them, and spend the holidays loving them. You won't be disappointed! Lots of love to you all!
 
Also, here is some important information I wanted to share for those going through treatment, or for those who know someone who is going through treatment:
 
If you know any woman currently undergoing Chemo, please pass
the word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE
housecleaning - 1 time per month for 4 months while she is in treatment.

All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning for a Reason will have a participating maid service in her zip code area arrange for the service. 
http://www.cleaningforareason.org/

Please pass this information on to bless a woman going through Breast Cancer treatment. This organization serves the entire USA and currently has 547 partners to help these women. It's our job to pass the word and let them know that there are people out there that care. Be a blessing to someone and pass this information along.
 
January 3, 2010 - Happy New Year!!!!!!! I had my last surgery the week of Christmas. I am doing very well. I had fat grafting done, (sucked out of my legs and put into my new breasts) and my nipples were made. Woo Hoo! They are very strange to get used to. They looked like gigantic cones. The first few days I had to wear foam blocks on my breasts to keep the nipples separated from anything touching them. The things we have to do to feel like a woman again! YUCK! But the surgery wasn't a big deal. I find only waking up from it sucks. I still get sick - no matter what they do! I was so doped up this time that it took me 2 hours to wake up from surgery and I slept the rest of the day and all night. On another note, Christmas was great with my family. Dave got me a new diamond necklace so that I can take the "cancer necklace" off of my neck and place it somewhere for safe keeping. I have worn that necklace (it is a Lord's coin) since before my surgery in March, 2009). While it is important, it is very much a reminder of what we have been through the past year, and it is time to move on. We promised ourselves that when the new year came. New Year's eve was also nice with our friends. And Dave and I were very relieved when the clock struck midnight. Boy, were we looking forward to the new year! It will be one to celebrate! I plan to not worry so much, enjoy family and friends more, and have a whole heck of a lot more fun! I am going to also get this run down body back in shape! I have done nothing but sit on my butt all year......and it is time to do something about it! In fact, yesterday, I ran for the first time in a year. I got out in 13 degree weather and ran a half mile...walked a bit...then ran another half mile. I know it is not much, but it is a start...and I am excited about it. I am hoping to get into a boot camp or get a personal trainer and get my butt kicked. I'd like to lose 10 to 15 pounds. Also, my body started going through menopause. Oh yes, my blood counts are way out of wack with that. I started having hot flashes, couldn't sleep at night, etc. I was put back on "the pill" and given some estrogen...It's been around 3 weeks...and I feel like I am already starting to improve. My body is feeling a bit more "normal." So....that is the last few weeks in a nutshell. WORLD, it's on!
 
January 16, 2010 - OK, so I hate the boy cut. I swear, I cannot WAIT til my hair grows out. Dave calls it the "mon-chi-chi" phase of hair. (although he says I still look beautiful) God love him! WE joined a gym...finally got the motivation to do so. We have done nothing but sit on our butts all year due to the big "C." We have both gained weight from it, and both need to lose, gain strength, etc. I have been working out for the past 4 days now. Yay, me. We met with a personal trainer today. We are both so very excited. Getting moving again really makes me feel good. I was a bit scared to do it...not knowing what my body could take. We both have a long road ahead of us...but we can do it. We can reach our goals. And, while it will be hard work, we'll have fun along the way. I am just ecxited to get life a little more "back to normal" than it has been in the past year. Oh yeah, and, in a week I'll be half way through with my MBA! Yay! In 6 weeks, Dave will be FINISHED with his. Another hurdle...and it has almost been jumped! Life is getting better! :)
 
January 27, 2010 - Well, I was obsessed about cancer...now I'm obsessed about losing my cancer weight. All I did was sit, sit, sit through my cancer...I ate through it...and had steroids...and I GAINED WEIGHT. No, I'm not obese or anything, but I am not comfortable with the weight that I am with. If there's anything that I can recommed for those going throuh this it's GET OUT THERE. When you are feeling good, walk, run, excercise...do whatever you can (and what your doctors will allow, of course). I need to lose 10 to 15 pounds and I'm finding it difficult to do. OK, yes, I started working out just 2 weeks ago...and I started really counting my calories a week ago...but still. Can't you just give me something satisfying as I skip some of my favorite meals and desserts? Just a little hint of hope that I am on my way? Is it the menopause that messed me up? I swear, I feel like I am getting BIGGER rather than SMALLER. It is downright ridiculous.
 
March 12, 2010 - Nearly one year later and I will be done with all of the surgeries and procedures! Today, I had my "tattoos" (aereolus) put on. It was an interesting process as Cathy mixed up the colors and worked to get the color right. If you have even gotten a tattoo, that is what it felt like. However, I only felt certain spots since I don't have all of the feeling back yet. I will have to wear dressings for 5 days and they will scab and heal over a couple of weeks. I cannot wait until they are all finished. I am excited to see the final product, and I am excited for it all to "be over." At least this part of it. In the meantime, it has bee a while since I last wrote. Life goes on pretty normally. You get back to the same old routine. However, the days still go by as I look in the mirror and wish my hair would grow six inches overnight...or I wish that my eyes and eyebrows didn't still look like cancer. It is hard sometimes when you look in the mirror, as you are reminded of it. Maybe it's the post-cancer blues. However, the gloomy and cold weather has not helped! I have also been watching what I eat and working out again. I am down 9.5 pounds! yeah! Just a bit more to go! Things are coming around...it just takes time...and sometimes I am just impatient.
 
April 2, 2010 - March 23rd marked my one-year, cancer free anniversary. My husband said it was a day to celebrate, but I said it was a bittersweet day. He is right, but so was I. At least, that is how I feel. Bittersweet because that is the day that I will always remember that I lost part of myself - my breasts. I have the scars to prove it. However, that is also the day that the doctors took the evil out of me...cancer. So to me, that is bittersweet, and also reason to celebrate. The day went very slow...as my "cancer day" was all I could think about. I wondered if anyone else was thinking about it too. As things seemed so busy...we were in Reno, NV with a bunch of family, everyone having a very good time, but I wondered, did anyone think about that day? The hell that I went through...the hell Dave went through...and the reason we should be celebrating life at that very moment. In fact, I wondered if Dave had even thought of "our day." Then he surprised me, at the dinner table. We were at a sushi restaurant and the waitress came up with a big fruit dessert saying "congratulations." Dave announced to the table that it was my, "our" one-year, cancer free. He had been thinking about it, just like I had been. Of course, I cried. I believe he got teary eyed too, but he won't admit it. It is still difficult sometimes to talk about the cancer...the past year. I am an emotional person, so it makes it that much harder! I don't know why it is so difficult to talk about it...I continue to wonder if it will ever get easier to think about and talk about. My co-workers helped me celebrate my birthday (March 29th) with a cake at work. I tried to tell them that last year, at that time, I was enjoying my 34th birthday, one week after surgery, on the couch, trying to wheen my way off of pain pills. I was miserable. I tried to tell them that I was happy my 34th was over, and welcomed number 35...but I could barely tell them how I felt. Today I tried to read a letter to my husband. It was a recommendation letter that my boss wrote for me. The end of the letter mentioned my battle with cancer, he mentioned inspirational and successful. I couldn't read it without getting choked up. Was I really inspriational? Sometimes I felt like I needed inspiration. As some days, it was just hard to get off of the couch. Dave usually kicked me in the ass when I got that way though. He was my inspiration. My one-year anniversary has come and gone. My family and friends threw my a wonderful 35th birthday at Wick's pizza for me...one I very much enjoyed. Much better than 34...and I am looking to many, many more birthdays...cancer free. I look forward to the next birthday, as I don't really want to get older, but it is closer I get to the chances of never having cancer again. I look forward to my hair growing out...my scars disappearing...and I look forward to it being easier to talk about MY emotions with cancer.  Today, though, I need to enjoy life. I need to enjoy seeing my hair actually grow, I need to realize that scars do heal, I need to realize that it is ok to be emotional because that is me. Life is coming back around. It will never be the same...but maybe it can be better. I am a lucky woman. I have life on my side...and a wonderful family and friends to share it with.   
 
 
Pics below:
Top: Lake Tahoe - Hannah,
Daddy, Dee, and PJ
Bottom: Dave and Dee at Dee's
35th birthday party
 
                              
May 11, 2010 - I had another surgery a few weeks ago, but all is well. It was just to touch up a few things that needed to be done. Otherwise, all is good. I have another blood test on May 27th, to be sure that I am "cancer free." I'm sure that will be fine. Today, I am dealing with more heartbreak as I watch my aunt suffer from cancer. She is my "bestest aunt" as I always called her, and one of the best friends I will have ever had. She was diagnosed with lung cancer last June, and has been a fighter every step of the way. I see her suffer today, though, and wonder why cancer has to be so bad, why it happens, and realize how I was blessed to "only" go through what I went through. I have felt pain for her, some guilt that mine was so "easy," anger because I feel she does not deserve to go through this pain. I sit here and write this today because I feel that I need to get these feelings out - in writing. It is hard to express the pain that you feel for someone you love - seeing them go through something so terrible. Today I am not sure what to do, I am not sure what to say...but I know I need to be there. I sit and wish CANCER would get the hell out of our family's lives...leave her here for many years to come and leave us all alone. I've seen the shirts that are made, in fact, a friend of mine sent me a nice coffee cup that had the exact words that I'd like to share here, F*@K cancer! Sorry, it is how I feel. Shame on this nasty disease!
 
July 11, 2010 - Don't worry. There is life after cancer...despite the hair not growing back as quickly as you want to...and every time I have a blood test, I still worry, "what if it is back?" That is a tense moment that will probably never get any better. I don't ever want to have to go through it all again. That's why I took the more aggresive approach at attacking this monster, cancer. Anyway, it has been a while since I have written, and I felt compelled to say, "there is life after cancer." Your routine DOES become routine again. However, don't let it get too routine. Sit back and enjoy the life you are able to have, and share it with others. That is one big lesson we should learn from this nasty disease. Enjoy what you have, while you have it. You never know when God is going to take you. Hopefully it will be later, rather than sooner for me. Hopefully it will be that way for you, too. Stop. Sit back. Smell the roses. And, kick cancer's ass! Bless you all.

 

July 28, 2010 – My aunt lost her battle against lung cancer. May God be with her.

 

July 29, 2010 - THANK YOU to YUM! Brands for supporting breast cancer research with your PINK BUCKET campaign!!! I was extremely BAFFLED when I heard there were some people against this great cause. I was informed of the protest against YUM! Brands’ campaign from a Courier Journal reporter. The reporter approached me after finding my breast cancer diary online. I was happy to share my side; that I thought what YUM! was doing was great for the community, and for breast cancer research. The article in the CJ didn’t misquote me, however, it did not tell my whole story, either. The reporter shared that I was proud to have my name on the bucket, but told readers that I did not eat any of the fried chicken. That’s true. The campaign was short, and I was on a low-calorie diet to lose my CHEMO WEIGHT! However, when the CJ reporter interviewed me, I told her I was no longer on my diet, as I had “fell of the wagon” during vacation. The reporter told readers that I only ate whole wheat, fruits, and vegetables..oh my! After reading the article, I was hoping no one saw me in the Taco Bell Drive through on the same day! In the article, the reporter shared bits and pieces of what I had to say…to help fit the agenda they wanted…an article against YUM! The reporter seemed quite discouraged when she asked me if I had changed my lifestyle since I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. My answer, was no (that didn’t make the article either, go figure). I told her, “I am still going to drink my Diet Coke in the morning, and eat my chocolate.” I told her anything could have caused my cancer, my genes, the food I eat, the air I breathe, or the home I live in. I told her, “I was going to continue to do the things I enjoyed.” That will include eating fried chicken from KFC from time-to-time (However, I prefer Taco Bell). I have learned a valuable lesson from this experience…that perhaps I should be slow to share my words. After all, its business to them, it’s personal for me. I want to take the time, again, to THANK YUM! Brands for their great donation to breast cancer research, to thank them for their PINK BUCKET campaign, and to thank them for including my name on the bucket. I also appreciate my neighbor for affording me the honor of helping to get my name on the bucket.

 

August 10, 2010 – Well, we had a pretty good scare over the weekend. OK, I was more scared than Dave. He kept his cool. I found a lump right above my breast. A little hard lump that felt a lot like the one I found when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I cannot tell you how scared I was when I found it. I was sitting by a bonfire in our backyard with friends on Saturday night, August 7th, when I felt it. My friend looked at me and asked what was going on…I just said something like “oh, it’s probably nothing.” But, I could not stop thinking about it. I didn’t say anything to Dave that night. It was a nice night, and I didn’t want to ruin the vibe. We needed a nice night, after the death of my aunt, and all of the cancer in our lives. I was secretly hoping that it would just “go away” by morning. I woke up in the morning though, and it was still there, but it ached. I cried. Every negative feeling that could go through me did. I was afraid of the “C” word. I did not want to go through this again, and I did not want to put my family through the pain – the same pain we have been going through for the past year – between myself and my aunt. I was lucky, and blessed to be where I am today. My aunt lost that fight. I have sometimes felt guilty that I got through it and she was so sick. It was so hard to see her suffer. Worse than it was to see myself suffer. No one should have to go through such pain…and that is what went through my head when I found the lump. My God, am I going to die at an early age? Why do we go to such a negative place so quickly? I wonder, is it just me? Is this normal? My doctors told me I would have scares…well, this was one. First thing Monday morning I called my cancer doctor, Dr. Seeger, and I got right in. A bit of relief, as she told me, “she really didn’t think it was anything to worry about…just a fatty (something or another – I cannot remember what she called it – docs terms).” But, the docs set up an Ultrasound, just in case. During the Ultrasound, another doc found several cysts that had popped up, not just the one that I had felt. While she said “she was not that concerned, that it was probably (fatty something or another…or OILY CYSTS)” she wanted to do a biopsy just in case…so later, the needle came…again. These were the same steps I went through the first time around, and it was like a nightmare…following all of the steps like before. She said I would get the results in 2 – 3 days. Luckily though, Leesa Mattingly, my breast health navigator, with Norton, was able to help. She is a Godsend to all breast cancer patients going through Norton. We got the results in 24 hours. ALL CLEAR. I think she was almost as thrilled as I was! So, it was just a scare, but they still want me to get an MRI, just in case. But, all looks good right now. I kick myself for going straight to the negative…but I was scared to death, and I guess I am just human. Luckily Dave can put up with me too, as he continues to try to stay positive, and tell me “I believe, with all my heart, you are going to be ok.” He is my sanity when I need it. Happy Anniversary to us, by the way, 3 years strong. Love to you all. Thank you for reading. I like sharing my story, it helps me cope. xoxo

March 24, 2011 - It's been many, many months since I have written in my "cancer journal." I have something to admit now. I just looked at it for the first time in all of these months...and looked back to the day of my surgery...and it put me in laughter, and then in tears. First, the laughter...because, I actually MISSED my "anniversary date." It was March 23rd that I had the surgery...not March 24th. It's funny how you put those things out of your mind (maybe it's not as important anymore?). I am not sure. I have thought about it all week...waiting for this day, to realize, just moments ago, this day has already passed! HA HA. Then, I looked at my entries the day of my surgery --- MARCH 23rd, 2009. The words my husband wrote as I was in surgery brought me to tears. They were good tears...but I cannot imagine how he must have felt that day, as I was on the operating table. He wished it had been him...not me. I cannot imagine being as brave as he was to hold me up through this trying time. To me, that is a hero. Being on the operating table was easy. Scary, but easy. This is just one of his entries that day:

"March 23, 2009....

This is a reflection from a loving husband. I read my wife’s diary all the way through almost every day. When doing so I try to place myself in her shoes, could I have tackled this with the same bravery she has? I am not sure. I do not think anyone can really know how they will approach the possibility of death until approached personally. My Dee has been, and I can say unequivocally she is the bravest person I have ever met. I remember getting that phone call from her. She was crying, terrified and rightfully so. I took charge like any good husband would. The funny thing is Dee took that day to cry, get angry and feel sorry for herself, but just that day. Outside of a few breakdowns this perfect little fighter took care of me and everyone else in her life. I sit here in this hospital looking at her in amazement and if it is possible loving her even more. Thank you to everyone who has offered their prayers and support. Whether you know it or not I was leaning on all of you. I used all of you to get through this and stay strong for Dee. God, thank you for your gifts, for your reminders to live life to the fullest and for sparing my wife."

Today, Dave and I are more in love and stronger than we were before cancer. (I could not have imagined we could have been more and love and stronger). We are a great team, every day. And, we are both counting our blessings today (and yesterday) that we are cancer free. We thank all of our loving family and friends whom have supported us along the way. Mom, dad, Donna, Vince, little PJ and Hannah...the rest of our family and friends...and my Rhonda, who is not here now, but is watching over us. Much love to you all.


March 2014 - This month, on March 23, 2014, I celebrated my "5 years all clear." I say this with much emotion, and relief. I don't know if one's fear of cancer coming back will ever go away...but I do know that it has gotten easier, and this milestone makes it easier than the days before. I thank my husband, friends, and family for celebrating with me.

A note from my husband on my Facebook page:

In February of 2009 at approximately 11:00pm, my wife and I were watching television. Little did I know that at that very moment, when all was quiet and the day was about over, my wife would utter life changing words. While rubbing a smal...l area on her right breast, she said “Dave, feel this”. Now, I must admit that for the briefest of moments I though I was about to get lucky. The fact is, she found a small pebble size lump and wanted me to feel it. I think it is worth noting that Dee and I had made it a point to do partner breast exams on a monthly basis. I must also admit that those exams were an avenue for my play at some luck in bed. When I felt the lump, it was ridged, small, and very new. My heart sank, fear set in and I tried not to show any emotion. I told Dee, “get an appointment ASAP and do not take no for an answer”. I could see the worry begin to show in her eyes. The next morning our worries had settled a little, as pragmatic thinking began to set in. I mean really, what are the odds that she would have, dare I say the word, at age 34. Life moves quickly and a few weeks later we were waiting for the results of a "simple" biopsy. 
 
This is the part I have difficulty writing. The lab that received the results did not wait for my wife to surround herself with loved ones; they simply called her at work and told her she had cancer. She called me at work with all the bravery she could muster and said, well quite frankly I do not remember what she said, just know it was horrible. As a man, I want to fix, but I cannot fix this. I hear her crying and I want to hurt someone, but there is no one to blame. With a few deep swallows, I tell her to go to a trusted friend at work (thank you Jenny) and have her drive you home. I tell Dee I will meet her there. I cannot speak for Dee, but I can tell you that all the horrifying thoughts one can imagine were going through my head as I drove home. I do not remember the drive.
Five years ago today, March 23, 2009, I sat in a hospital room at approximately 11:00pm still praying that I might get lucky. This time, I was asking God for the life of my wife. I sat awake listening to her shallow breathing, the gurgling in her throat and worrying whether I would ever see her smile again. You see, I also knew that once she was awake, she would have to look in the mirror. All I saw was beauty, but I worried what she would see.
I am married to a fighter and today March 23, 2014 we celebrate her five-year anniversary. According to current knowledge, a triple negative, stage two cancer of the breast, if cancer free after five years of removal, is nearly 100% guaranteed not to return. Today, Dee and I celebrate that special mark and she has a smile that melts hearts. Now, and from this day forward, every night at 11:00pm just before lights out, I am the luckiest man alive. I have her next to me. 
 
For all of our family and friends who walked with us over the last five years, please accept my deepest gratitude for your guidance, prayers, love, patience and needed comfort.

Dave


Celebrating 5 years cancer free! March 2014.
Thanks to my good friends, Amber and Alyssa for these special celebration gifts!



Calendar girl! Mrs. December - thanks to Fillies for a Cure!

May 4, 2016 - I received an email today, saying I needed to update my payment information for this website. Every time I do this, I often wonder, should I keep the site. I quickly realize, I do not ever want to lose it, as it is a reflection of who I am and what I (and my family) have been through. So, as I updated my information today, I felt compelled to write. Part of it may be because we are watching a show right now, called "Parenthood," in which one of the characters is fighting breast cancer. My husband and I have had quite a few emotions. Seeing things like this brings back all the we went through...and it is a lot of painful memories. But, we have found peace too, as we know, for real, that there is life after cancer.  Hey, and now I am so far along that I qualify for life insurance! Now, that is something to celebrate! Last, we are celebrating another big announcement...I was just named to be the next President/CEO of the BBB here in Louisville. I take over when our President/CEO retires. It is official September 1, 2016.  God has blessed us in many ways.







  

   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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