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!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Elephant In The Room!

Below is the Houston Chronicle Article that I was interviewed for. Kim did a great job and I am thankful to have been included. The options a woman has today are amazing but without proper information it can be disastrous.

I know it is hard to believe that it has been 32 months since I lost my breast. It seems a world away actually. Life has moved on, and I have adjusted to living life as it is. The chemo is behind me, I have been in remission for 2 years and so it would seem the breast reconstruction would be also. Truth be told, I am still caught somewhere in the middle of that process all this time later. I have lived too long in this in between state. Not a uniboob so to speak but not quite a two wheeler either. When I started down this road I was not properly informed. I was thrown into the process and then left "as is" because of the mighty dollar in all honesty. I wasn't told that I would have to come back in 10 years to have my implant replaced, or that silicone was controversial. No one told me how painful it was going to be, but I dealt with the pain and kept going. So why am I so frustrated now? Well, what was suppose to be an easy fix has become an elephant in the room. This replacement breast of mine is becoming increasingly harder to deal with everyday.

Honestly I am just tired of looking at a large lump with no shape in the mirror. I am beyond ready to have it removed. But once again, the mighty dollar is the problem. If my surgeon at the time would have followed the plan set out initially I might be in a different place now. Unfortunately he was more concerned with the money to be made. By drawing out the process much longer than necessary he accumulated more cash from my insurance company.. Finally he canceled a major procedure to take in a cash paying patient ahead of my insurance based pay out. So when it came down to it in the end , as my insurance changed just a few months later, I was abandoned halfway through the reconstruction process.

As I continue to wrestle with this big elephant I am just not sure what to do. I have come to a crossroad right now while trying to make one of the biggest decisions yet. Do I save up, go forward after all this time and have the breast finished, removed or have a trans flap procedure? I just want this all to be done with so that I can put this part of my breast cancer to bed. It is time don't you think?

My husband loves me just as I am. My children have accepted the "new" mommy. What do I have to lose? Nothing really. So now it is up to me as to what I do from here. Dealing with this issue is not about feeling whole, not anymore anyway. When this all began I would have said yes I needed a breast to be whole and beautiful. I do not feel that way anymore. What I don't want is to is live the rest of my life in the middle of a process that should have been finished 18 months ago. Yes, it does bring me to tears. I do stand in the bathroom every morning and evening as I change looking at Dr. Frankenstein's creation. I lay in bed every night with the weight of my implant baring down on me. I live in spite of what I look and feel like everyday. Even when I want to hide myself away, I put on a brave face to the world wondering if I could have done things differently. I still have those moments, those insecure minutes when I fall apart. Life threw me a curve ball. I did not choose this path, no, it was chosen for me, I could have thrown in the towel, stomped off the field of life angry and resentful. But I didn't. Instead I chose to live my life bravely. So no, I am not resentful nor would I choose another path in life. I have embraced my new life, I just wish I had been better informed back when I was first beginning my journey.

So that brings me back to this: I have a choice to make. I also have some funds and a voice to raise. I guess I should have stopped the ball in the beginning. Sadly things moved way too fast and in the process I had no control over what was happening to my body. I wonder how many other women have faced the same? So whatever road I choose ahead it will be my decision. I will be in control this time. It may be painful, both physically and emotionally but whatever the outcome I will be ready for it this time.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Letting My Voice Be Heard...

I just wanted to share this with everyone as we go into the weekend. Below is a link to a recent article I was asked to write for http://www.fightpink.org/ and a second link to the fightpink.org monthly report. I am blessed to have been given this second chance at life and this crazy opportunity to share my story with others. Thank you all for blessing my life with your friendships...


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Life After Breast Cancer...

As a young woman I didn't think too much about breast cancer. I figured that I would deal with it when I was older. I had time to figure it all out later, right? Well later came much sooner than I expected. Twenty came, and so did 30 yet I was young, not nearly old enough to battle breast cancer. How wrong I was! So I was in shock when I felt a lump in my breast. I was in even more shock when at 32 years old I was heard the words breast cancer as my own personal diagnosis. Suddenly breast cancer was bidding for an up close and personal relationship with me.

Breast Cancer? Someone had to be kidding right? No, no one was pulling my leg. I was too young. I was not ready to succumb to life with breast cancer, not at 32 years old. I wasn't ready to have my breast removed and thrown in the waste basket along with my chest wall. I mean that is exactly what happened. No, I wasn't ready to have the plastic surgeon inject 100 plus cc's of saline into my expander twice a week. That was crazy, right? But it was "our" plan of action even though it was absolutely painful beyond any words that I can describe here. Chemo wasn't my plan either nor did I really relish the idea of having all my hair fall out. But that is what happened. That is where life took me.

To the world I put on a brave face, but I did cry inside. I mourned and grieved over this change of events in my life. There were days that I felt I wasn't strong enough, brave enough to face the outside world. But I did and I did it everyday. I wasn't trying to pull anyone out of their comfort zone when I finally stood up to cancer. No, I learned to live with my new face to the world. Sure I didn't bother to put makeup on after my brows and lashes fell out. I gave up the wig and incorporated bandannas into my daily fashion. I was living with breast cancer. It was a statement to the beast. I was taking my life back! Honestly I found my strength in living out loud. After all I was still among the living even if I looked the walking dead. As time went on I adjusted to having one breast and no hair. Somewhere along the journey I found my true self and I grabbed hold of it as tight as I could. Life after breast cancer was just that... life. I lived and I am still living. In the days since I met this beast I have embraced my trials. No it hasn't been easy. But the truth is it is harder to fear the enemy than it is to dance with her.

True, I live with a new reflection in the mirror. Everyone's battle is different. But we are all SURVIVORS! I am survivor and I have found myself in a place where I don't fear the physical side of the beast anymore.Whether I liked it or not, life has changed. Breast cancer not only tore my life into pieces, it left me standing with the broom! So what did I do about that? Well, I dropped that broom for one! Threw it across the room and left it there. I ripped off the wig and shouted a war cry as loud as I could muster. Then I knelt down and took a good look at what was left of my life. To my surprise most of me was still there, scattered around the floor of my heart, but there all the same. I was Christina, a fighter, a pink warrior. I was not going to give in or give up! So gently, over time I have gathered up all those broken pieces. I found my voice, and accepted the new woman I had become and then I began the process of putting my life back together.

I won't say it been easy, it hasn't, that is for sure. Breast cancer is a BIG thorn in the side ,but life is still beautiful. There is so much life after breast cancer to be lived. Sure it may not be the same life I had before or the one I had hoped for. But it is my life, and my fight! I am not chained to this disease nor am I overcome by it. I live as a free woman. I am living life everyday, a day more than I had yesterday. The beast may stare me down, she may raise her claws to my chest, but breast cancer will never have me! I say... live free or die trying!


Monday, October 13, 2008

One Step At A Time...

If you want to Listen to the Slide Show Music, pause the Music Player Below.

On Saying Goodbye...

As AOL begins to close down it's bloggs, my heart is heavy. I am saddened by this turn in events because I feel as if I am losing part of my family. A vital and truly the strongest part of who I am and have become. Without you my dear family in J Land, I would have given up writing and never come back to it. But with your love, encouragement, inspiration and gentle nudges I have found my true voice.

I love each and everyone of you. When I first starTed posting I truly never meant for anything I had to say to be public. By mistake my journal ended up public and thank God it did! Without that little mistake I would have never met Kim. In her strength, I found my own. I miss her everyday. But I know she is still with us as I feel her vitality and hunger for life burn inside my own heart everyday.

I am conflicted as what to do with my journal. I am still a bit torn and so I ask this of all of dear family here in J Land... Would it be easier to stay in touch with all of you if I move things over to Blogger? If so then I will do just that. The very thought of losing any of you breaks my heart.

On a last note I will say that you can keep up with me through email and through
www.fightpink.org . A great woman named Stacey has started this organization and I hope to continue to be involved with her by writing for this site time to time.

Take care my dear ones. I love you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Living Without A Breast

Breast Cancer changes everything. Breast Cancer changes your life, your body and your idea of what is important and what is not. After living 1 year without a breast and another with an implant I can tell you that your choices become complicated. Go forward and complete the transformation or just let it all go? Live without a breast, have what was started removed or just be comfortable in the body that breast cancer has left you with?

Honestly it is not an easy decision. I thought it was when I first lost my breast. At 32 I surely didn't want to live without what God gave me, what made me womanly and what I thought made me beautiful. But after living through the removal of my breast and simply living without hair in a world that measures you by both, I think that I am ok with just one breast. It feels like an eternity since I first started the process of breast reconstruction. Today I am living with a partially reconstructed breast. Money and insurance have been two of my top problems so I have been living with no shape and no nipple. Talk about putting life and vanity into perspective! But then living without hair does that for you too.

Breast reconstruction. Well for some it is the ticket. I thought it was for me too. But now, I am not sure. I am tired of living with a lump that just sits on my chest as if it is squeezing the air right out of me. I have no natural breast tissue left, so yes it hurts and no it does not move. I can feel my implant every waking moment. It just sits there, unmovable without any feeling. After all my nerves were removed, all my tissue and every part of the breast that I lived with since my first training bra is gone. Yes, I lost my breast to this beast, but in doing so I saved my life. I saved what time I have had since then, time I might not have had with my children, with my husband, my parents, family and with those friends that share this life with me . I did it to live, and live I have. Every minute I have had since that day in February 2006 has been a reality only because I gave up my breast. So yes life truly changes in the wake of breast cancer.

Is it easy? No, it is one of the hardest, toughest and most painful decisions a woman can make.Life changes for not just you but for everyone close to you. Life changed for my husband and how he saw me physically. How he touched me, laid next to me and yes even how he saw me. Yet he loved me , needed me and has stayed by my side very step of this journey. He is comfortable with my body, and with my life as a uniboober. But life also changed for my children. My breast was not just a sexual component for my husband but a source of life and a symbol of motherhood to my boys. My youngest was completely devastated when I lost my breast. He wanted mommy's soft breast back again to lay against. Yet now all this time later, with an implant in place, both my boys are comfortable with mommy having just one breast to face the world with. My life changed in more ways than I could even begin to describe here, but mostly I have had to come to terms with not just losing my breast but living without it.

Yes reconstructive surgery is a wonderful thing and for some it is life changing in a positive light. But for me it has not been. I am not comfortable with this foreign silicone residing inside of my chest wall. I have lost my breast and I am ok with that. I am not ashamed of it, nor am I afraid of living without one anymore. True it has taken me a long time to get here and yes it has been a long road up to this point. But I am ready to consider removing this implant and moving forward without what was already taken from me. I am and will always be a woman. I will still be attractive and I will still be Christina. My husband will still love me and my children will still see me as beautiful.

True this beast will always lurk in the shadows, but living without my breast will not change the scars I live with. I have come to terms with those scars, both internally and externally. Life changes, but life is worth the changes if you can be free to live without the beasts chains around your body!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Open Rebllion!

October is here and that means Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So what does that mean to you? Do you put on your pink and think happy thoughts? Do you cry when you watch the ads or turn away tired of the hoopla?

Well, I can say I have seen and heard many different responses over the last 2 and a half years. Some have been inspired while others have been annoyed. But first I would say that before February 2006 I would have just thought to myself that I had time to think about the Cause. All that changed for me when at 32 years old I was diagnosed with TN Breast Cancer. Who would have thought? I sure hadn't. But the truth is this... Breast Cancer knows no boundaries. This disease attacks when you are least expecting it. Breast Cancer is not just a once a year thing, a nice cause wrapped up in a pretty pink ribbon. No, it is a beast, with large pointed teeth and sharp claws!

I wear my pink ribbons and think pink all through the year. But I know that the pretty symbol is just that, a pretty symbol. But Breast Cancer is more than that. The ribbon that represents our cause is just a way to get the world thinking about how deep this beast really goes. How terribly it can rip open your life and your body. Breast Cancer is a nightmare for all affected by it. Think about this: one in eight women will be diagnosed. That means one in eight families will be touched by the burden of the beast. More than One in eight children will have to walk down the many dark roads of this journey and fear the loss of their mothers. Think about all the husbands, mothers, sisters, brothers... now do you get the picture?

That's why I walk. I don't walk to make myself feel better, to raise a bit of money and then walk away. I don't walk because I feel obligated, although I do enjoy the idea of taking something back from the beast's lair. No I walk to fight, to throw a punch in the beasts face and to beat it back! I walk with my children because to do so means that I am still alive, still holding their hands. I walk with my husband beside me and my friends around me because to do so means that I am not just a memory but a living breathing part of their lives still!

Yes I wear pink but honestly I do not just sport my cute pretty pink ribbon just to say look at me. No I wear my pink ribbon proudly on my chest along with a skull and crossbones instead to express the true grasp of what Breast cancer is and can do. I stand in defiance, totally rebellious against this beasts attack! I am a survivor, a fighter and I will not go down without a knock down, drag out, hit him hard fight! Death is absolute in life for you can not have life without it. But I will not stand by idly and let this disease take my soul from me.

So again I ask, what does Breast Cancer Awareness month mean to you? Is it just a pretty pink ribbon all tied up in nice ideas? Or is it a time to run toward the monster, swords in hand and charge at this beast that threatens to devour us all? As for myself? I choose to be a part of the rebellion! I choose to wear my pink ribbon , but I also choose to wear it with my skull and crossbones! I will not give my life away, instead I will fight by my children's sides, and my husband's side, by your side and by my friends side! This year why not choose to fight this beast for the 11 months that follow October!