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!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Update


Good Afternoon!

Ok I will try not to make this long, but I wanted to give everyone an update on where I stand right now.

To begin, I will say that my heart broke today as I spoke with a woman who was there for us when we made our first step down this road of Breast Cancer. There she was beautiful and smiling and suddenly the realization hit me that she had breast cancer. I wanted to cry because I saw a beautiful, strong and determined woman before me and I hated the fact that TNBC had stalked her now too. But I will say that as I stood there talking with her my spirit was encouraged and my soul comforted as her strength radiated. I saw the warrior within her shine through and I stood in awe. She brought me HOPE, just as she had brought comfort to my family when TNBC first tried to over take us.

After hugging her goodbye, I set off into the orthopedic's office. My knee is messed up and so on Monday, July 7, 2008 I will have my 8th surgery in 29 months time. Oh well, if it will take care of the problem then so be it! After that I will go through Physical Therapy for both my knee and my back. I have a degenerative disk that is bulging and is possibly jagged. P.T. is the first and hopefully last option. I have been given 3 more prescriptions to add to my growing list, lol. But if they will work then what's a few more? My neurologist is also upping one of my meds in order to treat the nerve damage in my lower back as well.

I did see my oncologist on Wednesday. I really love her. She just puts you at ease. Part of my problem is that my oncologist during chemo did not document my charts very well. In fact my file says that they are "sketchy" as best, =. So my follow up care is a puzzle waiting to be put together basically. But I am still in remission and that counts for something! My immune system is broken to say the least but we are working on that. As for the lumps on my skull? They will be biopsied on July 25, 2008. A long wait I know, but the one thing I have learned in this journey is that nothing happens quickly. So wait I will!

I am waiting on two sets of blood work as we speak. I should have answers as to my calcium levels, anemia and liver functions by this Tuesday. As for my tumor markers and vitamin D, those should be back by next Friday. I see my new pulmonary doctor on Monday as well. My lungs have been slowly becoming a problem so my Rheumatoid Arthritis doctor is sending me to a specialist to try and get a handle on what is going on.

So that is where we are. Life is good. I am tired and my hands are functioning less and less, but I am still determined to type and to get about without drama. So just keep me in your continued prayers and I will be well. I love and appreciated each of you, though I know that I do not tell ya'll that enough! Love to all and know that I keep you close to my heart always.

Christina



Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Unlikely Gladiator

Since my battle with breast cancer began I have been called many things from 'Trooper' to 'Fighter' to 'Gladiator'. An unlikely gladiator at best I would say, but in looking back, I am truly humbled by the journey. I have lived and learned from this beast as I have watched others dear to me fall in their own battle. Living in the shadows can be menacing, but life in the mouth of the beast is harsher than her shadow. Stepping into the Cancer Arena can be terrifying as you meet your opponent and deafening as you adjust to the roaring spectators that surround you on all sides. You have been given no training for this chilling combat. Truthfully you have just been thrown into this battle as your feet struggle to hold the ground below them. Suddenly the realization hits you smack in the face that you may indeed be condemned to death if you can not find a way to out wit, out smart, out last and out fight this beast.

The darkness that has been clouding your view, fades as the beast rises, her claws drawn and teeth bared. Her shadow no longer in the distance, no, she is on the hunt and upon you. She is breathing down your neck ready to embrace in this mortal combat. Her master has set her lose within the corners of this arena with you as her prey. The crowd, some here have come to cheer you on while others have come solely as spectators for entertainment value of the fight. Many see you as weak, unable to fight and they have stood to their feet cheering the beast on. In that moment your head falls, and your heart quiets, and you rise, battle ready. Even though you have been disgraced by your loss of hair, and the new tattooed scar across your chest that burns, you advance with your head shielded and your sword drawn. You will not advertently give this beast the victory. No, you are not done yet and you will fight till the death if necessary!

Truly you were not born to live this life, to battle as a gladiator in such an arena as this, yet here you are.You have risen to the impossible and with each day you are one day closer to the final victory. In life and in death you are determined to bring the beast down. You have been dressed in armor and given a sword and a shield. The gate has been lifted again and again. You have been given no choice, you must fight to live or give into sudden death. So you fight, throwing yourself at your opponent wildly and bravely. Every time you enter the arena of the beast you feel your hope burn and your body weaken yet you choose to fight. As time passes your heart breaks as fellow warriors fall, and fall they do and yet you must still move forward. In the darkness of the shadows you rest gathering hope and determination, longing to be awarded victory and earn your freedom.


A Gladiator, maybe, unlikely for certain. Warrior yes, in spirit and in body for you have earned each and every battle scar. As you move into the arena daily you shout to your opponent' Bring it on' as you continue to gain the confidence you need to slay the beast. For now you have kept her at bay, circling her, charging at her, not quite slaying this beast as of yet. Her time will come though, even if the beast must fall with you. Her time will come, just as your time will come to wear the Laurel Wreath.


Christina

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Update





Hello everyone!

It has been a very rough few weeks for not just me but also for my family as we have waited in limbo for some kind of answer as to what these lumps on my skull are. But first I just wanted to thank all of you for your love and support, especially Mary and Indigo. I know I haven't been around as much lately, but I do read and treasure each email and comment. It has been these small tokens that has kept my spirits up. Thank you!


I am still lingering, trying to find my way through the dark, but we have found out a few answers regarding some of the other issues that have been affecting my body. Chemo saved my life without question and for that I am grateful beyond words, but it has also reeked havoc on the rest of my body, my rheumatoid arthritis being one of them.

As for the problems in my back, I have some really bad nerve damage , especially in the lower back from the chemo. It is not a surprise, I had just hoped to avoid it, lol. the other issues are my lungs, and since I am on an immune suppressant there is some real concern about how compromised they are. So I will see a specialist at the end of the month to evaluate what to do about them. My bones are a bit brittle due to the calcium overload and I am still fighting an Vitamin D and Iron deficiency. I am also seeing a neurologist and he is wonderful. He wants to try and avoid surgery on my back and that means no new meds, but just more of the ones I am on. But if it will keep me away from another surgery, you can count me in!

As for my skull? Well we are still in limbo. They cannot determine what they are. Some say it is nothing, just leave them alone, others say to just keep an eye on them and then finally another has said to do a biopsy. Which I think is the wisest thing to do. So I see my oncologist on Wednesday to get this thing lined up. I will be sure to let everyone know when and where, but I am sure it will be no big deal. In the mean while, just keep me and my family, especially the boys in your prayers? Love to all.

Christina


Friday, June 13, 2008

My Life As A Human Pinball




There are definitely those times in life that one could say that they feel like a living, barely breathing, spinning, hurling, pinging yes, out of control pinball inside the machine! A mouthful I know, but oh so true! When you have to let go and let someone else release that lever life can seem a bit out of control.

That's how I feel sometimes, especially when I have to make my way through what feels like a maze of medical goo. There always seems to be the traps that feel as if I have fallen into, then there are those high balling pings that send me back and forth and finally there is that one last shebang that loops me right out and into the pit. Cancer and the life you live after in both her shadow and in the scar she leaves behind upon your body seems to constantly pull you back and forth through the machine.

One doctor sees one thing and the other sees nothing. A test here and another there. I'm up one minute and down the next. Life is simply a tug of war between sanity and solitude. Once I have been sprung back into the game everyday feels as if I am navigating my way through a maze, inside of a human pinball machine. I seem to always have my sight on the way out and back into the world of sanity. But there is always that turn around, that sling shot right back into the insanity that sends my life spinning half hazardly out of my control again!

I hear the screams and see the bizarre mix of faces ahead of me. I seem to always be throwing my hands up in front of my face trying not to get too banged up along the way but then it happens. A curve or a sink hole and I am knocked out firmly on my fourth point of contact. Seriously as soon as I get back up and feel as if I am running smoothly I turn that corner and the shadow above me is waiting gleefully to draw back on her handle and slam me hard against the giant poisoned marked pinger and right into the curve of destruction. Yes, I can say with complete confidence that is how living in the wake of Cancer can feel at times. I want desperately to escape this game, and yet every time I think I am about to slip away into the land of peace and harmony I get slammed back into this pinball machine. There are times that I feel as if I have just made the highest player round and there is no where else to go but home. But then days like the one I have lived today seem to explode out of no where and send me reeling right back through the herky jerky spins again.

Uncertainty is full of fear and that is where I don't want to be yet that's where I seem to have landed this time.

Christina



Update

Good Morning!

Well, I have never felt as frustrated as right now! I am still waiting on reports. I do have some information to share but not all. My ultrasound was normal so that is really good. My bone scan showed a fracture in my foot, that is healing. I had no idea I had done that, and my knee cap is unstable so I am being sent to an orthopedic. The MRI of my spine showed nerve damage and degenerative deteration the SI joints, the T12 L 1, 2 and 5 and the S1 so I am being sent to a neurologist for that as well. As for the CT of the skull? Your guess is as good as mine! The X-ray shows a mass, and you can definitely feel that there are 2 lumps close in proximately of each other. But when I had my CT last week the facility had everything topsy turvy. First they wouldn't do the CT with contrast because I was a diabetic so they did one without contrast, then they called me back almost 8 hours later ( admited they had things wrong) even though I had eaten ( you're not suppose to eat or drink anything for 4 hours prior) and did the contrast. I was literally in and out in 15 minutes. They did put the markers on finally after I reminded them. So I have been waiting on results since last Friday. They were only suppose to take 48 hours. The problem is that the results they sent over show nothing. Well that is confusing because the doctors can feel the nodules and the X-ray showed they are there just not clear enough to decide what they are. So I am dazed and confused.

I also am being sent to a lung specialist because my lungs are showing signs of problems. So all in all it could be worse. This is manageable. I wish they could give me as answer about what is growing on top of my skull. But prayfully soon. Until then I will just have to keep smiling I suppose.

As soon as I have clear picture I will let everyone know.

Love,
C


Monday, June 2, 2008

Update


Hello Everyone!

Well, the last two weeks have been crazy. I saw a new doctor today that kinds left me with my mouth on the ground. He was very dismissive of me. He questioned everything my other doctors where doing, so I finally I just told him if he had a problem with my meds and what my 2 main doctors where doing that he needed to call them himself and not make me his middle man. Well, that put an end to that. then he told me the lumps on my head where nothing to worry about ( of course that wasn't his area of study). So I left shaking my head.

So the last 10 days I have had 3 appointments with my doctors, had 2 MRI's and a skull x-ray. As for this week I have another doctors appointment on Friday and a I have an ultrasound on Wednesday. I also have a nuclear bone scan and just today a CT was put on my plate. My numbers are all over the place so that is causing a few hiccups. Good news is that my brain MRI looked good, so at least we know that my brain is intact :) which is good, lol. I still have not heard back on my spine, hips and joints yet but I did hear back on the x-ray which is why I have being sent for an CT. It's funny how the doctors get really happy go lucky when the first test comes back good, but then how nervous they get when the next test comes back different.

So I have said all that to say this: The radiologist is concerned about the masses/lumps they see on my skull. But they cannot clearly make out what they are yet. So I am being sent for a CT to get a better look at them. I am not worried, but I am cautious. I will be sure to let everyone know how things go. I am willing to bet that I won't know anything until next week. Just keep things in prayer? Love to all.

Christina



Sunday, June 1, 2008

Monsters Under the Bed

The Monsters Under the Bed


Life is constantly changing. The tides are always turning and the sun never fails to rise nor to set. Life moves forward whether you are ready for it to or not. I have watched the last 2 years of my life carry on. Yes there have been those days that I have been dragged along quite literally with my feet kicking and my arms flailing. But non the less I have woken up to meet and greet a new day. So life's changes, the cycles change and the circle goes unbroken.

With all we have been through as a family we have lived out loud in spite of this beast breathing down our necks. We have made memories, rejoiced in the victories and held our hope close as we ran through the darkness of cancer. So these last two weeks have proven to be just another turn in the circle of life for us.

Over the last 20 months I have watched my boys grow as all children do. Yet, as a mother and a young breast cancer survivor, I have looked at them with double vision. I have seen what life should have been, could have been if this beast had skipped over us. But I have also seen what life has been since this beast attacked us. Mostly though, I have just lived in the moment with hope and courage in spite of the monsters that keep forming above our heads. I have watched my boys sport pink tops proudly, holding my hand walking closely next to their bald mother, and have seen their souls shine beautifully for all the world to see

What about their fear and uncertainty? How do they see this beast and how do they face the monsters that creep out from under the bed at night? I know that I have heard the whispers and seen the reaper stalk me with her sickle when the lights go out. So I wonder how do such small children learn to ignore the shadows that try and steal their hope away?

I have seen such strength and courage in my boys. I have learned to laugh and giggle right along side of them. My boys have taught me to be brave despite the fire breathing dragon an inch from my nose! So it was with both tears and pride I watched as my oldest graduated from 5th grade this week. I had tears falling down my face as he and his friends rounded the corned carrying signs and dancing as the parents, staff and the school clapped them out and onto 6th grade. My heart filled with joy as I thought of all he has been through. I have watched him struggle with my illness and watched his grades slip. And just as my heart has broken I have seen him pick himself up and pull himself right back up and together again. He has learned to fly and soared this last year. In my son I have seen such strength and courage within his soul. Instead of giving up and drifting with the current, he has ridden it all the way into the shore.

Again, I say life changes. The circle of life is ever moving yet always constant. We cannot change the course we are given, but we can learn to navigate through it with hope and tenacity. Truly just as I am learning this lesson we must all learn to live with purpose realizing our lives our given to us by Divine design. That's the gift that my children have give me... to live every moment even if it may be your last always determined to rise above the turbulence. Always ready to take a deep breath, shake off your fears and go. Because when all is said and done and life has completed it's course around the sun you will have to face the unknown. But if you have lived with hope and courage you can step off that last step with the knowledge that you have truly lived a life that will be remembered.


Christina