Well, it’s been a minute since I last posted. May always seems to be a crazy busy month especially when you have school-aged children. Wrapping up the school year, awards banquets, dance recitals, Mother’s Day, sporting events. Just a lot of stuff going on. THANKFULLY I have been feeling great and felt like going and doing absolutely as much as I could.
I had my port removed on April 23rd. I admit I had mixed emotions about taking it out (one reason why I’d delayed it as long as I did). The port was such a blessing over the past year. No arm sticks for blood work, chemo, meds, etc. I was definitely spoiled by having such easy access. I hated to give that up…….BUT…..having TRIUMPHED over my cancer meant that I wasn’t in need of weekly appointments, labs, etc, so I truly didn’t NEED the port any longer. I guess in some ways, it was a sort of security blanket for me. I just liked knowing it was there……JUST IN CASE. The removal was quick and painless……and the incision healed up in no time and left a small scar. Crazy as this sounds – I’m a little proud of my “war wound”. When I run my hand over my chest, and I feel that small “bump”….it’s a great reminder of this entire ordeal. These “temporary lumps” were just that……TEMPORARY…..and it’s time to move on. But it’s nice having a reminder of where I was and just how far I’ve come.
One year ago today I had my first surgery to remove the mass. I guess some dates will ALWAYS be easy to remember. Last year at this time I was recovering from my surgery and getting ready to head back home. Oh, what a year it has been. Even so……I would not trade the blessings and lessons of this past year for anything. “Cancer definitely TEACHES more than it TAKES” (this quote was stolen from my friend and fellow-warrior Melissa)!!
I’m having weekly physical therapy for my breast lymphedema. Not sure how long that will go on…..the therapist has told me that once I’m done with PT, I will probably have to wear a special bra to help keep the lymphedema away. Whatever it takes, right? The lymphedema has caused some loss of range of motion in my left arm. I started noticing difficulties when trying to take off my shirt that I just couldn’t raise that left arm as high as I needed to.
I had my one-year follow-up with my surgeon a few weeks ago and had my first mammogram since I completed all my chemo and radiation. My surgeon was pleased with how my incision had healed, pleased with the way I tolerated all my treatments……and I got an ALL-CLEAR from my mammogram. PRAISE THE LORD! I will return to follow-up with her again in six months! Hooray!
Earlier this month, I had the privilege of speaking at our local Relay For Life Kick-Off Meeting. Yeah – I’ve told my story here non-stop……but this was the first time I’d stood before an audience and shared my cancer story. It was actually pretty awesome! If you’ve followed my blog – you know that I’m not often at a loss for words. I always have plenty to say! As I was preparing my speech for that night – I kept thinking of things I wanted to share and then I’d think “oh goodness, I wonder if this is going to be tooooo long”??? But the audience was gracious and allowed me to talk as long as I wanted to and I am very honored that they asked me to speak at their 2018 Kick-Off. I met some new friends and was inspired by their fights as well. Many of them are YEARS out from their diagnosis and they were such an inspiration to me! Last week, I shared at church that I shared a little bit about my cancer in my speech……but I chose to spend most of my time sharing the many ways God blessed me and my family through this experience. I told them that I felt like I had been given a perfect platform to share with others just how God showed up and carried me through the past year.
Since my last post, I’ve also learned of several other folks who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and a few others diagnosed with other types of cancer. One actually had surgery yesterday and is coming home today…….and the other will be having surgery soon. Holy smokes…….it truly seems to be an epidemic! I just can’t even………
When will this madness stop?? I believe you would be hard-pressed to find ANYONE who has not been affected by cancer either directly or indirectly. That’s the thing about cancer…..one person is diagnosed with the “disease”, but the effects truly trickle down to everyone in their family and everyone that loves them in one way or another.
Our dog, Bella, lost a toenail a few weeks ago. It bled a bit after she lost it, but everything seemed okay. Several days later, we noticed her constantly licking that foot. We thought perhaps it might be infected, and tried to doctor on it ourselves. Eventually, a small “growth” appeared on her toe. We took her to the vet and after examining her, the vet told us that she had a cancerous growth on her toe and she wanted to remove that toe ASAP. Poor Bella. It was the outer toe on her right front foot. I asked the vet if she would be able to walk/run, etc after removing it and she said absolutely – she would probably not miss a beat. My son, Hunter, was in the exam room with us when the vet gave us the news. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t totally “surprised” by her diagnosis because I’d done a little research online and I was afraid it may be cancer…….but my heart immediately ached for Hunter. I thought goodness gracious – he spent last year supporting a mom who was fighting cancer and now his faithful companion, Bella was being diagnosed with cancer. Right after the doctor told us the news, Hunter spoke up and said “mama……you gave Bella the cancer”! He and I just started laughing like crazy. I don’t think the vet or the vet tech really knew how to take our warped sense of humor! They amputated Bella’s toe, stitched it up and we brought her home later that day. She was not herself for several days……she’d never been sedated or anything before….but she quickly returned to her old self. Yes, she had to wear the “cone of shame” for 2 weeks and she was NOT a fan. She was up and walking on her foot the very next day and has not missed a beat since.
So Hunter is wrapping up his 9th grade year of school. I’m still in denial. He’s 6’3″ tall now……but he’s still my BABY. God truly blessed us with this kid. He has been such a huge help and inspiration to me over this past year. I’m so thankful for him. He stretched himself this year academically…….he worked his butt off and he saw some amazing results. His first AP class ever……and Mrs. Oakley told us at open house that her class would be like a college class…..and she held true to her word. He learned the value of putting your time in…….daily……and reaping the rewards. How are we down to only 3 years left before college???
I have been wanting to renovate my kitchen for several years but never pulled the trigger. My mom told me last summer while I was at home recovering from surgery that I needed a “project” – something to keep me busy. She said “why don’t you start thinking about your kitchen reno – you’ve got lots of time to think about ideas, colors, designs, etc”. So I took her advice. I contacted the designer and told her that I was just in the early stages of planning – and that there was NO WAY I could take on a project like this while going through chemo and radiation – so AT BEST it would be 2018 before we could start. We got some ideas together, and came up with a game plan. About a month ago, I called to tell them that I was ready…….it was finally time to get this thing in motion. I spent several weeks getting things packed up and out of the cabinets. Whoever knew you had so much STUFF??? Sooooo they started on the reno this week. Monday was demo day! My house is a complete disaster – but that’s okay. I’m super excited to finally have this come to fruition. And none of this would have been possible without ALL the input and ideas from Kelly, Trestney and Sue. These girls have been nothing short of spectacular!
I’ve been doing well all things considered……but I did start having some pretty severe joint pain over the past week. My hands/fingers/elbows/ankles and especially my hips were hurting like crazy…….and I really hadn’t done anything any different. After a few days, I sent a note to my oncologist and she indicated it could either be post-chemotherapy rheumatism or due to hormonal changes since starting on Tamoxifen. I dunnot what’s causing it – but golly gee, when I try to walk, I feel like I’m 100 years old. The doctors recommended using ice, a heating pad and even herbal supplements like Tumeric, black pepper, etc. I’m going to give those a shot and see if it helps. I’ve talked to several other folks who are taking Tamoxifen as well and they’ve indicated they have endured or are enduring similar symptoms. Goodness! Praying that this, too, shall pass.
So how are you enjoying the holiday weekend? No plans here. It will be a very relaxing, low-key holiday for us……and we are all okay with that. With one more week of school left……we’re all ready for a little break. I pray that you enjoy your long weekend, however you choose to spend it. Be sure to take some time this weekend and reflect and remember those folks (both MEN and WOMEN) who gave EVERYTHING they had while serving……fighting for the very freedoms you and I are enjoying today.
Philippians 3:13-14 The Message (MSG)
Focused on the Goal
12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
and in honor of Memorial Day
Romans 13:7 New International Version (NIV)
7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.