Wow...what a year this has been! Exactly 365 days ago I recieved the call that the "little lump" that I was sure wasn't a big deal, was cancerous. It flipped my world upside down. Andrew and I right now are at a retreat for cancer patients called Harmony Hill. It's been an amazing time meeting some wonderful people who have walked this same path. It's also made me SO very grateful because while I am the youngest survivor here, my prognosis was/is so good compared with these other sweet people. It's been good for Andrew and I to take a couple days to really process the emotions we've dealt with and all I can just come back to is how incredibly thankful we are. We've also been able to talk about what we've learned and how we've changed. I think the biggest thing we've both said is that we don't take anything for granted. I think I'm a lot more confident in who I am now, knowing that this is my life - I only get one and I want to live it the way God intends me to! It's a wonderful lesson to learn, even if the process wasn't fun in the least. I haven't done very well updating this site, since everything was mostly on facebook, but I do want to run through the highlights of the year because I want to be able to look at this and see once again, what God has brought us through. On June 25th I had surgery. A lumpectomy to go in and remove whatever was left of the tumor that chemo hadn't killed. However, once the surgeon got in there she couldnt' see ANY sign of the tumor. (!!!) The worst part of the surgery was at the beginning where they essentially do a mammogram to find the clip that they placed during my initial biopsy. The nurses were having a horrible time finding it and had to basically attempt like 50 mammograms (any of you women know how awful they are!!). They were finally sort of able to get a picture and then inserted a wire in my breast for the surgeon to basically follow in. So the surgeon just tested a few lymph nodes to make sure the cancer wasn't in them, which it wasn't. Basically all clear! Yay! Surgery recovery went very well. I took two weeks off of work and rested (as much as I didn't want to!). The kids were so great and sweet. They love taking care of me. And it helps that they are both such big snugglers!! In September I had radiation. Every day for almost 5 weeks. Thankfully I qualified for the shorter program so I didn't have to do the full 6 weeks. It was very tedious going up to St. Vincent's every day, but it passed quickly. I did have some soreness under my arm and a "sunburn" but nothing too horrible. I've continued to get an infusion of one drug, Herceptin, every three weeks after chemo ended. My last treatment for that will be January 16th! So close! After that I'll have surgery to have my port removed, which should be fairly simple and hopefully a quick recovery. I've also started a pill that I'll take for 5 years called Tamoxifen. I'm told this can have side effects, including hot flashes (ugh!) but so far I haven't had any. So glad for that because hot flashes suck!!! It is strange how much this anniversary brought back to me all of the emotions I felt while we were waiting for the phone call. We knew there was a good chance it was cancer, but didn't have any idea how bad it was. So my mind immediately went worst-case. How bad is this? Is there treatment? How long will I be alive? Will I have to say goodbye to my kids when they're still babies? A tough reality to consider. When we finally got the call it was almost a relief, because for me the unknown is so much worse. I am just so thankful at the way my body has responded. I know that it's a direct result of all of the prayers and because of God's grace. My heart breaks for all of the people who's journeys have not gone as well as mine. Listening to sweet people here talking about how they are preparing to dies is such an eye-opener. Cancer sucks!!! It's horrific and claims so many lives way to early. How? Why? Why can't we figure out what is causing this?? It's so disheartening. None of us knows what will happen in the next years of our lives, but I can just pray that this is the last dance with cancer that I'll ever have. My journey still isn't over, and 'll do everything in my power to ensure my cancer doesn't return, but I'm just so thankful for where I'm at right now. God is so good. I have to again say THANK YOU to our parents, my sisters, my life group, my co-workers and my friends. You all have shown us a tangible love through meals, cards, flowers, calls, texts, gifts and hugs. I imagine the only thing worse than having cancer is watching your child go through it, so I have to give huge props to my parents. They have been amazing through this and were willing to do ANYTHING we needed. My sisters are the best. They have field marshalled everything for us and done so many things to make us feel loved. My co-workers are absolutely amazing, also and have stepped in to carry my share of the load when I wasn't able to. I'll forever be grateful to all of you!! This morning at one of our sessions at the retreat we're at, I heard a poem that ends with this: "May I have the courage today To live the life that I would love, To postpone my dream no longer But do at last what I came here for And waste my heart on fear no more" So happy New Year friends!! It's going to be a great year! No more wasting our hearts on fear. While our plans may have been drailed a bit and we don't know what the future holds, God is so good. We can ALWAYS trust that. Love you all and thank you for being you. (PS...sorry this is a jumbled mess. I'm writing in between sessions and my thoughts are all over the place!)
Last Friday I found out my genetic testing came back NORMAL, meaning I don't have any of the gene mutations associated with higher (much higher!) risks of cancer. Other types, as well as breast cancer reoccurance. This is great news!! I was waiting to get that back before making a decision on type of surgery to have. I wasn't concerned about the testing, because the chances of it coming back postive for anything was so low, but it was still a big relief when I found out. Definitely gave me and my family some peace of mind. [...]
Sorry it's taken me so long to update...it's been a long couple of weeks!
It definitely took me longer to bounce back after the last round of chemo. I was just so tired. The side effects have ranged from barely noticeable to very very painful this time. I've had some nausea, which is awful, but thankfully comes and goes...it's not constant.[...]
Lisa had her 3rd round of chemo yesterday and all I can say is she's amazing! Amanda and I got to keep her company and I enjoyed the sister time :). She also got a visit from Andrew and the kiddos in the afternoon. I think it was good for Audrey to see the place that mommy goes all day.[...]
I figured I should update you all, but I don't really have much to say. Honestly I'm feeling great! I've had a few side effects, but nothing as bad as the first round of chemo, and it's all really manageable. Some mouth sores, hearburn etc. I still have my "cramp attacks" every few days but not bad at all.[...]
I already knew that I have an amazing family, but this is just further proof! Every person in this picture means so much to me and I don't know what I'd do without them. They have done so much to make this journey easier for us and we will forever be grateful. I love you all!!!![...]