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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Our Next Adventure

This week Dion and I went to the plastic surgeon to talk about boobs. We were there for about two and a half hours...there's a lot to talk about, size, accessories, when the fun will happen. Anyway, here's the scoop, the 411, all the dirty information.

I will be having my surgery on April 8th, a Friday. Really, what better way to end the week? It will be at 12:00 PM (I guess that means no lunch) and will take about 6 hours (I guess that means no dinner either. Well crap, you can't eat before, so I in general it means no meals for Sue on Friday. Have something good for me that day.). Now, keep in mind that I am not a doctor and I do not play one on TV either, so I will try to get all the right information out there, but don't quote me on it. Here it goes.

I will be using my own tissue instead of implants. That option went out the door when I did radiation, which is ok, but makes for a harder surgery. There are about 8 muscles we have in our belly. The ones that are called 6-packs are the ones they will be using. I have about a 1-pack, so the size I end up with will be interesting to say the least. They take those two muscles that run up and down, what I call my baby jello (fat), and the attached blood vessels and tunnel all of that up and under my skin in my abdomen to my chest. Then two incisions in my chest are cut and opened, and all of that fun stuff is pulled through to make new boobies. The incision from my tummy will be hip to hip, and you end up with almost like a tummy tuck type of thing. Drainage tubes, there will be plenty....4-6 of them, I think. I point this out because there is nothing I hate more than those dang drainage tubes. Pain, there will be an abundance of, but with the help of good drugs, I am hoping to keep that in control, or at least where I don't want to kill myself. The hospital stay will be anywhere from 4-7 days, recovery will be about 6 weeks. And now, the very sad part. My doctor would prefer that I go to his hospital instead of him coming here for the surgery. I will be about an hour and a half away from home, away from family, away from friends. I understand that it is for the better that I am there, but it is way out of my comfort zone. I know the staff here, I know the hospital, and really what helped me through the other surgeries was having friends and family close by, and now, well poop, I feel like I will be flying solo in the cities and that makes me sad. But, what do you do?

Anyway, I feel quite overwhelmed with all that has to be done before this last big step in my walk with cancer. From getting situated at work, to getting our house ready, to trying to figure out how we will do daycare for the girls, to figure out what Dion will do with work and trying to dealing with all of this. The poor guy leaves home at about 6:00 AM and gets home anywhere from 5:30-6:30 PM. So, does he work all day, drive an hour or so to the hospital to see me, sit with me for a bit, then drive another hour and a half to get home to take care of the girls and then start all over again? Grrrr....I have talked before about how, at least for me, that there is a lot of guilt that goes with having cancer, and this is a perfect example of that. I am frustrated, to say the least. I feel horrible for Dion, and he keeps telling me to not worry about it, but here I am worrying about it. Hmmm...any suggestions would be appreciated.

Ok, my dear dear husband is making us breakfast, so I have to go. I'll write more later. This too shall pass....this too shall pass.....this too shall pass.......

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Claire dictated where each hair tie should go...a future for her?

Friday, February 18, 2005


Claire was watching Shrek, and loving every minute of it!

Baby doll

My little girl is almost a one year old!

Hat fun for all!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Here is Kevyn Burger of 107.1 FM and I. She invited me to be a guest on her show to talk about my cancer story. I didn't even throw up once!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

You've got to accentuate the positive.....

As my one year cancerversary approaches, I find myself having a very broad spectrum of emotions. Disbelief that a whole year has passed, happiness that I am still around to see it, but there are also some not so nice feelings that have been creeping up in me. I've had a hard time figuring it out, since I really should be happy that things are going well, blah blah blah, but there is so much more to cancer than meets the eye. It's like an onion, if you will. Peel one layer, and there's 500 more to go through. Each layer is different. Some good, some bad. Anyway, so since I was feeling a little in the dumps, I decided to make my list of things that have been a positive experience since being diagnosed with cancer.

1. I have met some wonderful people...in the medical field along with people in the support groups on the internet that I go to.
2. I am so much more knowledgeable about cancers and their effects on people. It's not black and white in the least bit. In fact, I'd say it's mostly grey.
3. We've had so many vistitors in the past year....all of my family and friends are in it for the long haul.
4. Ok, don't judge me.....but when we get phone calls from people wanting money, I do have to admit that I play the cancer card. I explain that I was diagnosed with cancer and all of our money is going to that, which isn't a lie, but it gets them off my back. Except this one guy, what a turkey, he did one of these..."Ok, how about a smaller amount? $15.00? $10.00?"
5. When I meet my out of pocket expense, I don't have to worry about getting more medical bills, insurance covers the rest.
6. I am doing some things that I normally would be too nervous to do.
7. I have learned to take help from people when they offer.
8. I have learned that my husband is all that I ever thought he was, but so much more on levels I didn't think about because I didn't need to think about them. He is the bravest person I know.
9. I learned I can handle way more than I ever thought I could.
10. Every time I am in the hospital, I get that fabulous, wonderful, most delicious grape juice they have. I suppose I could go over there any time and get some from the cafeteria, but it's much better when someone brings it to you :)
11. I am more organized...you have to be when you get sick. You have to keep track of all the tests, parking fees and mileage for taxes, I would be lost without my calendar.

Ok, I am sure there are more, and maybe I will post later. But right now we have some friends that we haven't seen in over a year that are going to be visiting. I can hardly wait! Have a good one, and try to see the good in the bad. It helps sometimes.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


This is just a small portion of the park with the white paper bags. Some of mine are in the middle.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Encouragement

I have to share this story. For the past three years, Dion and I have done the Mississippi Shuffle 2 day cancer walk. This past summer was an emotional one. We set up tents, build bonfires, sit with friends, eat, walk, eat, and walk some more. The park that hosts this event is right on the river. The path that we walk on is a loop that is almost 2 miles. The path is lined with white paper bags with candles in them. They have either red (survivors) or black (victims) names on them. When we started this walk, never did we think we would see either of our names on a bag. Hopefully for me it's red writing here on out. Anyway, some bags have words of encouragement on them. I will never forget passing this bag over and over and over. It said "This too shall pass". There are days when I have to remind myself of this, and I do find comfort in those words. I hope you do too.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


ok, this is pre-kids, pre-cancer, pre-30.....

rico....la dee da dee da....suave

just a wee bit out of control

And we take a leap into, well, whatever year digital cameras came out

Woo hoo! My loving, loving husband bought me a digital camera. And now the fun begins. Ebay, here we come. We are going to sell sell sell...hopefully. Anyway, just had to share the good news, and boy oh boy, is it ever good news!

Saturday, February 05, 2005


My hair has finally grown back...kind of. Can you see the curls?

Pre-chemo hair



Friday, February 04, 2005

Memories

Here they are, broken down into different groups....

Grade school: I used to climb up this pine tree that bordered Gebhardt Rd. My hands would get sticky from the sap, it smelled like Christmas, I could see forever. I loved it. I could get so high up that if the wind blowed, the tree would rock back and forth.

High School: My favorite times in HS would be when my friends and I would just hang out. We went sledding down a hill so big, you were tired by the time you walked back up. We would have bonfires and listen to music, drive around town being, I have to admit, a little odd, and of course who could forget Twister? Really, a timeless game.

College: Never had four years gone by as fast as these. Here is where I met my husband, I lived with Brandy (my maid of honor) where way too many things happened to narrow it down (well, ok, I will say that one time we left the oven on for like 3 days without knowing it....what can I say? We didn't cook much.). Lots of parties I guess could go down in the record books. Do I dare talk about the time I couldn't make it inside to the bathroom to pee? Nope.

Pine Lake Camp: holy cow...here's another one that's way too hard to narrow down. I worked there for 5 years, that's a lot of memories. Let's see, teaching Tricia how to make those S Treats actually worth doing, going to the bowling alley after a long week to do some dancing, I once scared a camper from out the cabin window so bad he broke the bunk bed. How about Hamburger Days where we sumo wrestled, raced beds, and did the slide of ketchup? Then there's Wheelhouse and Scoopers, jumping from the bridge, and, my favorite, being on Support Staff.

Present Day (kind of): of course, my wedding, the birth's of my daughters, getting together with family, my Mayo second opinion, my last day of chemo/radiation, all the friends and family who have made the trip up here to see us this past year....what a blessing.

Ok, I have to stop for a bit, nature calls, and I probably should get some things done around here.....we'll see if that happens. Don't hold your breath.

I can't seem to stop

Wow! When I started this blog, I didn't seem to understand that I would get addicted to it. But, here I sit once again, girls napping (at the SAME time), dogs sleeping, feeling the urge to do and say more. Must be the English major in me.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite memories with you guys. Ok, so I guess it's more fun for me to take that walk down memory lane, but maybe it will trigger something with you, and make you feel all warm and fuzzy. We'll see.....

Thursday, February 03, 2005


When my hair started to fall out from chemo, I had my head shaved, and had the hair cutter add a special message for Dion

Bright is what Claire's name means, and Hope is what Nadia's name means.

No, you are not seeing things.....

I know, I know, but what's a person to do? Leave it to me to get the kind of cancer that has PINK ribbons. I have never owned as much pink in my life, then I do now. And dare I even tell you that I have gotten a PINK ribbon tattoo?!? Pink pink pink pink....if you know me, you know how I feel about this pastel color that now adorns my car, my home, my paper, my pens, my clothes, my keys, one of my Precious Moments, my wrists, my leg (that's where the tat is), and I am sure other places that I have forgotten. So, I had Dion take a picture of my tat, and we all agree that he should keep his day job. Photographer, he is not. I will post this one until I can get a different picture developed. Pink. Humph. Update: new picture is posted....woo hoo!

My Timeline of Cancer in 2004

March 5th: moved into our new home
March 11th: went to ob doctor for my ultrasound, mentioned I found a lump.
March 12th: had my 1st mammogram and an ultrasound of my left breast
March 16th: biopsy
March 17: told I had cancer
March 18th: induced
March 19th: had Nadia
March 31st: first mastectomy
April 15th: bone scan and CT scan
April 20th: port put in for chemo
April 26th: first chemo
July 1st: last chemo
Sept 2nd: PET scan
Sept 3rd: CT scan
Sept 7th: cancer mets to nodes and lungs
Sept 16th: second opinion at Mayo appointments
Sept 17th: node biopsy, came back negative
Sept 30th: port removal
Oct 6th: first radiation
Nov 9th: last radiation
Nov 12th: found a lump on the other breast....turned out to be a cyst
Nov 16th: second mastectomy
Dec 21st: PET and CT scans again.....all clear!

Now I patiently wait for my new boobs and tummy tuck. Wait wait wait wait wait...that's all us cancer people seem to do, and it sucks.

is this too small?

Dion, Claire, Nadia, & I in July 2004

Nadia

Oh this little girl of mine! She was born on March 19th, 2004, two days after being told I had breast cancer. She was almost 4 weeks early, and weighed 8 pds 1 oz. They thought she would have been 11 or 12 pounds if I went full term. This poor child had to adjust to different people caring for her from the start. She's got a wonderful smile, beautiful eyes, and is my smallest lifesaver.

Claire

My oldest little trouble-maker. Claire was born on Sept 26th 2002, weighing in at 9pds 15oz. Huge! Painful! I should have known from the delievery that she would be a challenge as a child. But, it's worth it to see the spark in her eyes, the no fear attitude (except for bugs), her energy, her sense of humor. She's a handful, but I love every minute of it (well, almost every minute. Some terrible 2 moments are not so fun).

My love, my hero, my caregiver, my friend

We first met way back when in 1993 at Carthage College. I couldn't for the life of me remember his name...I knew it was different, I knew I had a little to drink that night, I knew he was quiet, but damn! What was his name?!? It was a small school, and we saw each other more and more around campus. We became close friends. We ate Nachos and watched re-runs of Chips together. We went for walks, we bummed smokes from each other, he held the garbage can for me after a night of drinking. And all the while, we were just friends. No dating, no kissing, no nothing. Just being. The summer came and we both ened up dating other people. To make a long story short, 2 weeks before graduation (yes, 4 years later), he asked me, "Have you ever thought about there being an us?". I was floored. Of course I had, but I said "what?" anyway...I'm mean. A year later we were married, Sept 26th 1998, On Dec 5th 2001 I had a miscarriage, on Sept 26th 2002, Claire was born, on March 17th 2004 I was diagnosed with breast cancer (8 months pregnant), and on March 19th 2004, Nadia was born. A long way from our nacho eating, Chips watching days.

This man I married, he did all the right things through my labor and deliveries, he stood by me as I made the decision to have a double mastectomy, he carried my cath bag after my surgeries, he changed dressings, held on to my drainage tubes when I got dressed (yes, basically he has carried all of my bodily fluids for me), cried with me, laughed with me, loved me. I'm not sure if the guys I had dated in the past would have done what he has done for me. He has been my lifesaver, and I love him more than anything.