About Me...

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In a nut shell : I'm a wife, a full time working mom, a teacher, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a decade long breast cancer survivor, and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Wrecker

Well, my friends what to say? I came home Sunday after vacationing with my family to find another message from my oncologist. The news? Not too bad, but not great either. Mostly it is something to chew on and hopefully in the end spit out. But the truth is, right now that she is very concerned. After listening, and listening again, then having Johnny listen to the message, I spoke with the office yesterday, as she is out of the country and my liver function numbers are through the roof. My calcium is up and my Vitamin D is down so I go back in for more blood work today.(They added another Bone Mineral Density test on my spine and hips today) Based on those results, I will either be cleared or I will have to undergo more testing, scans and possible biopsy. The other issue is my brain scan. I am having a MRI with sedation and contrast tomorrow. This is due to some of the problems with speech, coordination and memory loss that I am having. All together, I am good with it but the thing about all this testing is that it stirs the pot up bringing up all those deep, dark fears that have been lying on the bottom for a while. My greatest fear? Leaving my two precious boys motherless. They are my greatest blessings in this life.

So I say, what are those of us teetering on the edge of life and death to do? Are we to spend what precious time we have left no matter how long or short as victims, spinning out of control with self pity, stomping around as if we have no life left in us to live? No! Simply put, life is full of unexpected back roads, sharp twists and turns, sudden stops and painful pot holes.Sure we can fight it all we want. Take short cuts wind our way through the backups, honk our horns for all to hear, fuss all we can about the long waits, and how much time it is costing us. But what about the time we lose while we are complaining? What about the time we give up without a thought about it? What about those precious moments we give up every minute we grip about ourturned up side down lives?

True life is not all we THINK it should be on most days. Sure we thought we would have more money, a bigger house, health and more security by this time in our lives. But the truth is, there is no greater security than uncertainty. It is always there, steady and true, always waiting to throw you a curve ball. But isn't that the sweetness of life? The not knowing, the unexpected and the complete surprise that turns out to be blessing when all is said and done?

Of course landing in a pot hole and nearly missing a tree going 55 mph is not my idea of fun. No one is exactly pleased with the idea. But the real truth is this: Once you have pulled yourself out of the drivers seat, surveyed the damage, yelled and screamed at the yourself for a bit, stomped around like a crazy person and smacked your vehicle for a good while you finally hand over the dented structure to the wrecker. Sure it is not one of your better, jump up and down, shout hallelujah kind of moments, but the you finally begin to let the situation sink in. You are alive to tell the tale and you are here, and still able to move, to breath and to speak. You suddenly take inventory of all that is truly precious to you, your faith blossoms and thankfulness finally takes hold.

That is what this cancer pot hole of life has done for me. In all, I have found not only my voice, but that my faith in my Maker is stronger and that though tested, my hope is never wavering. No, I was not happy in the least bit about being towed in to the oncologists office, having an overhaul done on my engine and body work done on my frame. I may not have all the same parts as I did before, and true I may not look the same or feel the same, but all together I am whole with or without my breast. My desire, my strongest hope when all this is said and done is that I am a better person for all the twists, turns, stops and yes, even pot holes.

True, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. We do not know our time or the place and yes we all know our lives can all be gone in a heart beat. The sadder fact is that most may know this, but still do not choose to live as if they were dying. So my challenge to each of you is this: Live life! Embrace all that it offers, all that it takes away and all the possibilities it yet holds. Forget all the squabbles, the silly little things that keep you a part from those that love you. Live life in spite of all it's hardships. Love those that have hurt you and embrace those that stand with you. Look deep within yourself and you will find this kind of WILL, the will to believe and to hold on to your faith. Truly, they are the pieces that will make you stronger for
the course, enabling you to survive the sudden stops and give you hope through all of life's pit stops.


Ah, my dear friends, take hold of your family, your loved ones, and your friends despite your deference's. Do not live your life in the shadows of what could have been. Let it go and embrace the life you have been give and all those that hold you close. Let go of the hurt from those whom have injured you, and live your life, every moment of it as if it were your last! Remember this my dear friends, life is fleeting, live, love and hold close these moments.

Love to all...
Faith, Hope, Strength and Courage,

Christina







Friday, July 13, 2007

Humor

My Adventures as a Uniboober!

My story is not so unique, but it is still one worth telling I guess. Yes, it is a bit of a crazy tale, full of insane nonsense, but isn't humor the key to life's insanity? So without any more ado here is the tale of one crazed, hear me roar, I am still alive and kicking, proud to be a uniboob woman.


I am absolutely a self declared, uniboober. Oh yes, I wear that title with a smirk across my face. I can honestly say that there have been those days along the way that I have felt like Captain Jack Sparrow aboard the Black Pearl. Alright, with the exception that I have would take the name of 'Captain Christina Breast-Less' and sail aboard the 'Pink Pearl' navigating the seas of Chaos and Uncertainty. Adventure you say? Where is the adventure in being Breast-Less? Well, then do I have a tale to tell you my friend.


Ah, I have ventured many a day through storms cast upon my life through the years. Though the truth be told I would rather find myself on a long sandy beach, with my boots off, lying in a hammock with a coconut full of rum in my hand. Yep, I am a pirate of sorts I suppose. Can't you just see me standing there at the wheel, a shaved head of course, with a pink leather hat, and a black bandana underneath it's brim? Yes, I can see myself aboard The Pink Pearl, making haste with a crew of survivors. All of us uniboobers, breast-less and marked women alike together sailing the oceans of this world in search of a cure. 'Tis true we are a group of swashbuckling, yo ho, high sea sailing, pink wearing of the female sort of course band of Cure Runners. Living life aboard this ship we proudly wear our bandanas displaying our bald heads and raising up our jolly roger complete with a pink ribbon. We are young and old alike, beautiful and strong, fearless and yet still fearful as we sail these seas of death and despair. Indeed, I have cast my lot with this crew in search of life beyond this so called curse. We have thrown all of our hope into life and the living of it. Our sails, a rose color in defiance of this beast that chases after us needing pain to feed upon seeking only to pull us down in to the depths of despair right along with it.


True, I have sailed making port at the unlikeliest of places. I have made my way to such exotic lands as cytoxan, adriamycian and taxotere. Lost a breast along the way, hence the name, 'Christina Breast-Less'. Or shall I say, Captain Christina Breast-Less to you mate? I have made my way through the uncharted shores of a tortuous land called Hyst-er-ec-tomy. Aye matey, a land so terrible that the surrounding natives themselves will not make port. They know the deep dark secrets of this place and keep as far away as they can. Certainly they are no dummies, knowing the untimely fates of those who dare to go a shore face.


Ah, I have sold my youth and had my soul nearly consumed by this unknown heading that has taken all aboard unto life giving waters' end. Aye, casting us on to the shores of a land unknown to most as it calls only to those this dark, forsaken Isle wishes to hold captive within its boarders. Marooned here without a map and upon these shores far from all ye have known and have loved, your soul is shaken. Slowly the insane becomes a part of your every breath as you find yourself lost and wandering its sands. The fear of spending the rest of your days here is overwhelming as you begin embracing the insanely, crazy, yet oddly humorous new life you have been so suddenly handed here. There are definitely those moments when ye feel quite at home within your own loopiness. Then there are also those days when you really wonder when Captain Obviously Gone Mad will come to collect your mind for you.


Yet as my story goes, I am not alone in this misery. As this tale is one of hope and not of despair my crew and those that have loved me did indeed set a course through the black seas to find and rescue me. Navigating through darkness and despair upon a foreign ship, my loved ones came for me. Mission bound they boarded the Pink Pearl once again and sailed me away from those lonely shores pulling me from the sands of cancer's kiss of death. As for the unsightly, temperamental Pirates of Chemotherapy? You know the ones who seek to consume all that lives within you? Well, they tried with all their might to strip me of my life and to leave their mark upon my soul. In the end, I body may have been marked, but I have lived to tell the tale. So now, I sail aboard the Pink Pearl in search of a CURE with my crew of Pink Ribbon wearing, compression toting, breast-less, cancer fighting pirates. Together we are as one. As for 'Old Davy Jones? Well, he may have our names burned upon his black list and indeed we may all wear his black spot upon our chests, but we will not go down without a fight!


This beast may have chased us, hunted us down unsatisfied to merely consume a part of us. This beast with all its might wishes to consume all of us, every part of who we are, what we were, and any life that we may hope to have. Yes, this beast comes for us upon calm waters, seeking us out, ready to take The Pink Pearl down to the black cold murky depths. Ah yes, this beastie friend of mine comes to do the devil's bidding but Hope is stronger than deaths' claws. True it may try to consume my body and soul, but it has not nor will it ever take my spirit with it.


'Tis true I ask myself now, how many seas have I sailed, traveling upon, before I found this hope? So many dreams did I forsake living among the insanity of my own fears. Then finally I climbed aboard this ship of survivors and I gave way to the life I thought was fading away and fell to my knees. Who, I thought would light the way, ferry my soul across the waters and into the great beyond? I had lost hope and was lost in a sea of despair fearful of being forgotten. I had been broken, taken apart piece by piece until I stepped aboard this mighty ship.


For days I was tossed upon the waves. But just when I thought all was lost and as I felt my body yielding to the depths my cries were heard, rising up from the waters that sought to drown my soul. Quite unexpectedly I was pulled back to HOPE, and to life. Suddenly the seas around me were calm even while the rains fell. There aboard this ship with pink sails, I found myself among the living again. As my body began to heal my spirit once again emerged. In time I let go of the fear within me that I been carrying, fearful of the black spot upon my body and this death mark that sought to destroy me. Here among those that surround my life seeking to fight the beast while standing up facing the deep bellows of death I am at home and never forgotten.
So here at this stories end and in the telling of this adventure of mine I can say I have found myself among strong women wielding swords cast of strength and hope. Even Davy Jones' locker cannot hold HOPE captive. As we all have taken our turns charging at the beast, toward its jagged teeth and into its mouth we have not been lost. True, the battle with this beast may have taken a part of us with it, and even taken our ship down to the depths many a day but have we not always reemerged tried and true?


So my friends, I raise my coconut cup to you, and to you and to you too. I give to you, hope and inspiration. I pray that as you sail upon the seas of life that Hope brings to your soul fullness of life, love, laughter and all it's precious treasures. As for me? I again will set sail aboard The Pink Pearl with hope behind her sails, and defiance in my bones.


Christina AKA "Breast-Less"


Monday, July 9, 2007

Emotions

Spinning In Emotions

As Monday morning came and went last week giving way to the afternoon I was still awe stricken, amazed and completely given in to my emotions. This is a good thing to be openly honest. My heart is still overflowing and absolutely filled with the unconditional love and unyielding support of my wonderful, dear and kindest friends.


As I walked through the door of two of my closest friends home on the Saturday night of my birthday, I jumped back at first and then melted into tears. There without my knowing were 18 (not including myself, Johnny and our boys) of our friends waiting to surprise me for my birthday. I was completely taken back by the love, the thought and the generosity that abounded in that room as I walked in.


Looking all around me I had a hard time taking all of it in. I stood there, in shock with tears falling from my eyes in my friend Kathy's' kitchen. I was quite taken back by the preparation. There was food of all kinds, a cake, even Tinker Bell decorations but most importantly there were my wonderful friends that have stood by me through my entire journey. As the kids surrounded me, hugging me reinforcing not only their love but the love of their parents as well I knew I was in the company of true friends.These few moments were beyond beautiful and will stay with me forever.


This journey of mine has taken many different paths, had many, many ups and downs yet there has always been those who have stayed steady. Those whom have held my hand when the going got tough and those whom have laughed at the insanely insane right along with me. Without these friends, and family I would have been lost, abandoned and completely alone without hope long ago. So I say to all of you now, all of those who have loved me, supported me and yes even at times carried me, THANK YOU!


I love each and every one of you, both far and near, some in emails and others here in J Land. Each of your beautiful souls has played a part in my journey. I have never ever really been forsaken for I have had each one of you by my side. Without you I would have lost this fight long ago. To those of you, no to all of you, who still walk this journey with me, I am forever in your debt.


Continued Strength in the Journey My Family and Friends...


Christina




Thursday, July 5, 2007

Are We Done Yet?


Hello my dear friends here in J Land.

Well, where to begin? First, I need to let ya'll know that I am finally feeling like a human being after my hysterectomy. I am not on hormones, so the hot flashes are fun, but over all I am well. Second, I had my physical therapy evaluation and I have started the wondrous torture of physical therapy massage, lol. I had hoped to breeze through it, get the sleeve and go. You know, get in, get out of there, no looking back kind of thing, right? Oh how wrong I was! LOL. But honestly when do things ever work out the way our minds see it? Never!

Bottom line is that I obviously do have lymphedema, and I will need to wear the sleeve a little more often than I really want or thought I would have to. (For the time being, I need to wear it 24/7) But when did anything ever go as planned? Exactly what I was thinking too! So what's one more thing added to my plate, right? I will need PT twice a week for the next 4-6 weeks and then they will do a reevaluation.

Part of the problem is that I am also lacking range of motion on my left side. Of course this is no surprise knowing that I am missing muscle on that side due to the mastectomy. I am not one to ever want to stop but I really need to now I think. I guess I have just been so busy living with it these last 17 months that I hadn't stopped to realize how extensive the damage really was, not to mention that my doctors were not listening to me either. The problem with having diabetes and cancer is that the doctors tend to use it as a crutch for everything else. Like my nerve damage. My problems kept being blamed on my diabetes even though my endocrinologist kept saying no. I have been diabetic for 26 years and I am in good control and have no long term problems from my diabetes either. True my blood sugars ran a bit high during chemo, but over all they were not out of control. Somehow I just ended up falling through the cracks.

So in the scheme of things I went without treatment until now. I knew it was bothersome, but I had just relied on my right side so much to compensate for the loss that I was used to just managing it on my own. So this will be good for me. In the end hopefully the PT will help me regain a good fluid motion with my left side and get a grip on the lymphedema as well.

So now I get to go shopping for my sleeve. Yes, I said shopping. Whew Who! Yippee I Yea! Who knew there were choices involved? LOL :). Apparently there are two shops here in town that sell these sleeves and they come in different colors and prints. Yea! So I get to go shopping for a sleeve and look like a 'lymphadiva' when it is all said and done, lol.

Just one more piece to putting me back together again I suppose. What does the old nursery rhyme say 'All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Humpty Dumpy back together again'? Well, they were living in the wrong century baby! LOL. By the time they are all done with me, I will be a whole new woman!

Love to all,
Christina