Tuesday, February 24, 2009

6 Month Exam

So, I had my 6 month mammogram a little over a week ago and everything checked out just fine. I finally feel like I can be called a cancer survivor. Getting screened is a little dramatic every 6 months – but things have certainly gone well so far. I am feeling quite well and gradually getting my strength back.

I was asked by a photographer the other day to be part of a photo series of cancer survivors that he is doing. I did a session last night week and these are some of the shots. It hasn’t been completely finalized, but he thinks that initially the series will hang in a gallery at the U of U Hospital. The photographer, Chad Hurst, is also a cancer survivor and wants to do a series of photos of survivors of all different kinds of cancer. I am very honored that he asked me.

I’m amazed that it has been almost a years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As I read through the posts on this blog – it seems like an eternity ago I was going through the tests, treatments, everything.

What an amazing year it has been. It has been a difficult year, but it has also been an amazingly great year. I have never felt so loved and blessed. And I have felt like everything has gone better than I could have possibly hoped for. I hope this feeling stays for a while.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It’s been a very long time since updating with any posts. The holidays came and brought with them a busy couple of months.

I was able to have my family at my house for Thanksgiving this year. My Dad, Stepmom and brother Kevin and his family came to my home and we had a great time and a really good meal. I had interesting baking night the night before and had to do every pie over. Other than this slight snafu – everything turned out really well – everything was delicious. After dinner – Kevin, Linda and I took the kids to the park with Atticus.

My Dad and Stepmom stayed a couple of more days and we were able to go to a concert at Temple Square that kicked-off the Christmas holiday. It was Andrea Paulsen’s singing group – The Sterling Singers. They were awesome!

I have had a couple of doctor’s appointments in the last month or so – just final check-ups to make sure I’m doing okay. I am! Everything looks good and now I will do just regular appointments every 6 months or so.

I am getting a full head of hair. I’ve decided that short hair is a lot harder to do every day than long hair. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m going to grow it out again or not. I keep telling them that I’ll let them know if a year or so – since that’s how long it’s going to be before I even get to that crossroad.

I’ve really enjoyed the holidays this year. I’ve enjoyed all of the time I’ve been able to spend celebrating with my friends and co-workers. It’s been a great holiday season.

This has been an interesting year. I’m glad it’s over – but feel that I have been very blessed and have learned a lot this year. I hope 2009 will bring a lot of happiness, health and hair.


Friday, November 21, 2008

November 21

Happy Birthday to me!

So – last week was my birthday. It was the end of a very interesting year – I must say. I was able to celebrate at a few different events with my lovely friends. Shawna cashed in a Sub-4-Santa dinner at Angie Vriens cabin the Saturday before. We had an amazing meal and some great conversating (thank you George Bush) by the fire afterward.

On my actual birthday – I took the day off and totally chilled at home. I didn’t get dressed or even bath. It was wonderful. I watched a BBC miniseries on DVD and hung-out with my muddy-pawed dog as it rained like the dickens outside.

The next night I went to dinner with some friends and the night after that – several of my friends met at one of my favorite restaurants – Red Iguana – to celebrate with me. Cute Joaquin from my ward played Happy Birthday on his trumpet. It was so fun. Thanks to everyone that helped me celebrate in any fashion.

I have an appointment with my Oncologist – Dr. Morgan – next week and an appointment with my Radiation Oncologist Dr. Sause the following week. After that – I may not have any appointments for a while. My skin has completely healed from my radiation appointments. I’m really doing well. My energy level seems to be getting better and I am really looking forward to the holidays.

As trying as this year has been, I am so grateful for how blessed I have been. I am so grateful for my family, friends, work, home, church, dog – you name it. I have certainly been able to get some new perspectives this year and I’m so grateful that things have gone as well as they have.

I saw the movie Twilight last night with Shawna. Remind me to never go to a mid-night show with screaming teenage girls again. I remember when they announced the release date for the movie shortly after my diagnosis. I wondered at the time if I would be around long enough to see it. I am not only around – but a cancer survivor that feels well enough to go to a midnight movie. How great is that?

The scarves, caps and hats are coming off in the next couple of weeks. I look a little Anne Heche from the Ellen years – but it will keep growing. That’s the great thing about hair.

My Dad and Meize and my brother Kevin’s family are coming to my house for Thanksgiving next week. It will be so nice to see them. As much as the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket the last few months – there is much to be thankful for. I pray the next year will bring everyone I know the happiness they desire and every possible blessing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

October 24

And so it ends! Thank the dear Lord!

I had my last radiation treatment this morning. I honestly can’t believe it. I’m done with the treatment part of this stupid breast cancer. Hallelujah!

I’m doing pretty well – but still have some areas that look pretty burned on my chest and under my arm from the radiation treatments and am, frankly, a little sore in all of the areas I had surgery. I also am still a little tired. But, from here on out I should get more energy and gradually feel better.

I have follow-up appointments with both of my Oncologists next month and will start hormone therapy – which will last for five years.

I have still been able to work and have taught my Gospel Doctrine class the last couple of weeks. I’m still not as social as years past, but am being able to make most of my commitments.

It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks. My, what a year it has been. I am so looking forward to this coming year without cancer or treatments – and with hair! What a bonus! I’m looking forward to continuing to learn from this experience and help others that are going through trials in their life. I have been so blessed and have had so much help during this trial and I want to pay it forward.

I have learned more about breast cancer than I ever imagined I would this past year. If any of you ever have questions or know someone that was just diagnosed and would like some information, don’t hesitate to ask. Also, remember to pray for those you know that are struggling or suffering – whatever their situation. Prayer is the answer! I promise you this. It not only blesses those that you pray for – but blesses those that are praying.

Thanks to everyone for your love and kindness during this trial. It will still go on for a while, but I am getting to the end of the road and the view from there is heavenly.


Friday, October 17, 2008

October 17

One more week of treatment and I’m done! Someone buy the fireworks. I’ll provide the diet coke.

The radiation treatments have been making me feel pretty tired the last couple of weeks. My friends and co-workers hate talking to me in the afternoons because all I do is yawn and then it makes them yawn. And, after going through my first 4 weeks of treatment with no skin issues – I developed a rash and am pretty red everywhere on my left side.

Yesterday – they marked me up and made a special template and my last 6 treatments – including today’s treatment – will only be to the area where the tumor was. The treatment takes 20 seconds. The rest of the area on my chest should start looking and feeling better in the next few days. My first 5 weeks of radiation treatments treated not only the tumor area – but under my arm and up to my collar bone on my left chest. My whole left side was pretty much getting treated.

May I just give a big shout-out for Aloe Vera. What an amazing thing. I got some of the good stuff at Whole Foods that is 99% aloe and keep it in the fridge. It is the only thing that seems to work on the rash and burn and makes it feel SO much better.

My eyelashes and eyebrows are back. In fact, my eyebrows are fuller than they have been in years – so there’s a bonus. I have told a few people that you can lose your hair and eyelashes and still look fairly decent. No eyebrows makes you look somewhat not human. You need eyebrows. I faked them till I had them. It was a necessity.

On a somewhat humorous note – I ran into Jason from my ward and his friend at TJ Maxx last weekend. I had on a knit winter cap because it was butt-cold that day. His friend later said to him that with my hat on – if he didn’t know better – he would say I looked like a chemo victim. Jason was like “Dude – she is a chemo victim! What rock have you been living under?” This totally made me laugh.

I have shaved my head a couple of times since my hair started coming back and am now in the home stretch. It seems to be coming in quite well. It is darker than before and there are some gray hairs here and there that are not pleasing me. Someone at church said they can’t wait to see what color my hair comes back in as. I told them that they won’t see that. As soon as my hair is long enough and can be in a decent sort of style – it’s getting dyed to whatever color fits my current pleasure. I’m not going to waste any time getting it to look the way I want it to look once I quit wearing the caps and scarves.

I have started teaching the Gospel Doctrine class in my ward again. It is nice to be teaching again. It is really good for me to do the studying and preparation. I get a lot more out of my reading and studying when I know I have to teach it on Sunday.

Work has been good. It has slowed-down a bit – which isn’t great – but we are hanging in there. I love my job and am so grateful to have it and keep working through everything that has been going on the last few months. It has saved me not only financially – but emotionally and mentally as well. Some may argue that there is no saving me mentally. I might have to agree with them.

I’ll be glad when the election is over. I’m sick of all of the negative back and forth and just want one of the guys to win and do a really good job for the next four years. We need someone to do a really good job.

I’m excited for the coming year. I’m excited to have hair again. I’m excited to feel and do things that I haven’t done much of for a while. I’m excited to get past the trials of this last year and put my energies in other areas besides myself and my cancer.

It’s weird. It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When I see the stuff you can buy and the reports in the news, it still seems like they are talking about someone else – not me. I think that I have not completely wound my head around everything that’s happened and everything I have been through. I feel that I have been so blessed through this trial that I haven’t been as worried or scared as many people can be. I have felt so confident that I am going to be cured that it hasn’t even seemed like there was a possibility it would be otherwise.

In one short week – I will be able to confidently and officially say that I am a breast cancer survivor. I am grateful to God for blessing me to be diagnosed and treated so that I can say this. I am grateful to Him and Jesus Christ for blessing me so greatly through my trail. I am grateful for and to my doctors and techs that have taken such good care of me and treated me with great kindness. I am grateful to all of my friends and family for their support and prayers on my behalf.

I couldn’t have made it through this without all of you.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October 7

I have actually been feeling pretty well the last couple of weeks. My radiation treatments have not been making me as nauseated – a super-big plus – and my energy levels have been somewhat better as well. I’m not having any issues with my skin where I am getting treated and am now more than half way through my radiation treatments. I still get tired, but have been able to run around for my weekly errands and hosted a wedding shower for Andrea Rockwood from work last Tuesday and my annual Fall Conference Soiree this past weekend. I wasn’t going to have the annual party – but decided I could certainly handle it. It was so good to see everyone that came.

The last couple of weeks have been difficult ones for some friends and acquaintances. Betsy Berge, my friend Dave LeCheminant and York Powell at Sun Litho – all lost their Mothers to cancer. My heart truly goes out to them and I hope we all can keep them in our thoughts and prayers. It is so hard to lose your Mother – this I know.

I started a Tai Chi class. It’s through Community Education and meets once a week at East High. I am really enjoying it. It’s great for stretching, balance and strength. Our teacher is really nice and patient – which is good because it will take a long time to get any good at this.

I have had so many people so show much kindness and concern since I was diagnosed with cancer. I was not – however – shown any mercy today by the Motorcycle Cop that pulled me over just blocks from my house this morning as I was driving to my radiation treatment. I was apparently going about 10 miles over the speed limit. I may have been – but I certainly didn’t feel like I speeding or going any faster than the rest of the traffic. He asked me if there was a reason I was speeding and I pulled up my cap and showed him my bald head and told him I was trying to get to radiation treatment on time. He still gave me a ticket. Cancer cannot get you out of a speeding ticket. Yet another lesson learned.

I am going to teach my Gospel Doctrine class this Sunday. This will be the first time I will teach since getting in to my chemo treatments and asking for a reprieve. I am looking forward to it.

Thanks to everyone that is still praying for me. I am doing really well and know that I have been so blessed through this trial because of all of you.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

September 24

So, last Monday – September 15th – I started Radiation Treatments. I asked the techs again if it is possible for the treatments to make me feel nauseated. They said – no way! Well, guess what? Radiation Treatments make nauseated. I looked online and it said that although it is rare – it does sometimes happen. I spoke to my Radiation Oncologist last Friday and he said that it really doesn’t happen often – but it can happen and if I need something – he would be happy to get me a prescription. I am – of course – very dubious that anything would help me since nothing did during my chemo treatments.

Cathy – at Dr. Morgan’s office – said I could just be one of those barfy people that get nauseated for no good reason and nothing seems to help them. I think she was right. What the heck? I mean – it is RARE that someone gets nauseated from radiation for breast cancer. Do I really need to be part of that group? If I am going to be part of a RARE group – couldn’t it be that I am part of a rare group of women recovering from breast cancer that meet and marry a really handsome, nice millionaire?

It’s not nearly as bad as the nausea after the first week after chemo treatments – but it’s not fun either. I am just going to grin and bear it.

Other than this unpleasantness – I am actually doing quite well. I haven’t noticed too much of a decline in my energy yet. Last weekend I was able to go to the UMFA to see the Monet to Picasso exhibit – so glad I didn’t miss it – and a party at Darci Anderson’s home. She is currently in her parent’s home in Draper with the most awesome audio-visual room.

This week, I was able to go to book club last night and actually start Tai Chi classes at East High tonight. I hope I will do okay and will have enough energy to get through it.

My hair is starting to come in but it is coming in all weird. It’s really blonde and then has some darker patches. Cathy suggested I shave off the fuzz and it should come in better. I think I will do that in the next day or two. My eyelashes and eybrows are making a comeback as well. One of these days - I may feel like a normal person again.

As many of you know, our dear friend Betsy Berge lost her Mother last weekend. Please keep her and her family in your prayers. Also, our friend Sheree Fitzgerald Hastings is in the hospital after delivering her baby early and suffering from preeclampsia and HLLP syndrome. Her kidneys are not functioning and she is very ill. Her baby boy is doing well and gaining weight but is still in the hospital. Please keep them in your prayers as well.

I will hopefully be able to start teaching my Gospel Doctrine class again in the next few weeks. I think I could handle it. We’ll have to see.

Thanks again to all of you that continue to pray for me. I know it has made all of the difference for me.