About Me...

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

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Want My Nickel Back!

Remember what I said about never having a dull moment around the Olachia household? Well, if it weren't for the curve balls thrown our way we wouldn't have any excitement to talk about! So last night the four of us were at home, relaxing after the big family turkey dinner. Life was good.

Then suddenly at 11:44 PM Micah came running in our bedroom, tears streaming down his face, crying. He was panicked, overwhelmed, afraid. The next words came out like a bolt of lightning: "Mom, I swallowed a nickel!" My response was: "You did what?" I called poison control like a crazy woman next. Their response was: "He did what!" Then I called Johnny. His response was : "He did what!" See the pattern here?


My poor baby was terrified. His tears kept coming and his words were like a knife through my heart," Mommy am I going to die?" That was it, I sank like a rock in a very deep river. Johnny was out at the store, so he was driving home like a mad man. He came though the door and started scanning the living room floor. He just couldn't believe our nine year old son could have actually swallowed a 5 cent piece.


Next I picked up the phone and called the doctor. It has been 7 years since I have had to call after hours, but if ever there was a reason this was it! The nurse chuckled, I couldn't blame her. I was talking about a 9 year old, not a 4 year old. I explained that he had tripped and in the process the nickel in his hand had ended up in the back of his throat and he had swallowed. Yes, it was crazy, nutty to be exact but the truth was I couldn't depict it any better than if it were in a movie. She told me not to let him eat or drink anything till the doctor called. Our food? It was left and forgotten about on the table till morning.


By the time the doctor called ( it really didn't take long at all) Micah had calmed down. Johnny was still out in the living room shaking his head, looking for the missing piece of change. He was on his hands and knees, pulling up furniture, all with a flash light in his hands. Comical to say the least. First thing out of the docs mouth was, you guessed it: "He did what!" Next Dr. B told me to have him sit still and give him some bread and water.( My mind raced as I saw Micah sitting in a jail cell, wearing black and white stripes while I handed him his bread and water.) He said to watch him and hope he didn't toss his cookies up.That would be a bad sign to say the least. His advice following was just to keep an eye on him through the night and bring him in for X-rays in the morning. So I got the kids down and returned to our room, passing Johnny on the way as he still searched in vain for the missing nickel. I just shook my head and went to bed.


We kept our word and took Micah into the office in the morning for his X-rays. After a bit I heard the doctor giggling. He called to us to come into the other room where Micah's X-rays were front and center. Sure enough there was the nickel, bright, round and stuck in his tummy. Poor Johnny just lowered and shook his head while laughing. So now we have to watch his stools. Yep you heard right. We have to stir through our nine year olds' BM's.( Found a hanger for the task. Yuck!) Gotta love it! The Doc said if we don't see the nickel pass, we will have to take him back for another X-ray. If it's still there you ask? Surgery, plain and simple. Lovely thought there. I just can't stop thinking about our trip to Philly over the holidays. If it is still sitting there pretty in his little tummy will the metal detectors go off? Can you just see that? --Bing, Bing. "Ma'am step away from the child". I can just imagine security, lights flashing, people running, my son on the floor at the bottom of the pile, guards shouting 'secure the child' and of course my hubby on top of the guards completing the pile. Joshua would be standing there mouth wide open on the floor in shock. I on the other hand would have my hands balled into fists running full speed ahead screaming "charge!" . We would all go to jail. Like I said, never a dull moment around these parts.


Life is full of these uncharted, unplanned, yet amazing moments when things you never thought possible happen. My life with Breast Cancer, my auto immune complications, diabetes have all been unplanned. But they have also been surprisingly helpful too. No, they haven't been fun or easy lessons, but they have given me a sense of humor, and a better sense of who I really am as both mother and wife. Without each crazy moment life offers us, where would we be? How could we appreciate the good times, or understand how the complicated twists and turns life throws our way could benefit us ? I am not just a breast cancer survivor, I am a mother, a wife and a living breathing open book for all to read. I live for these moments, these surprises that come wrapped up in the cracker jack box. Without the harsh, scary moments we could not completely enjoy the triumphs, the humor and the laughter of life's good times.
All I can say now is," Hey Micah, I want my nickel back!"
Christina

Thursday, November 27, 2008

ThanksGiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite time of year A time when family and friends all gather together around the table. Good food, laughter and remembrance, all these things embody what this time of year is about. We give thanks for each other, for the blessings God has bestowed upon us and for the sweet, sweet gift of life.


Thanksgiving 2006 was the hardest for me I think. We really had no family near us so to speak. The few relatives that were within a 10 mile radius, had buried their heads under ground. I remember seeing one of my cousins for the first time since I had lost my hair. My mom had basically bribed her to come see me. Disaster was written all over that operation. I just sat there holding back the tears as she and her mother sat as far away from me as possible. She couldn't even look at me. I was crushed. I left there feeling as if I were some kind of leper, repulsive and unloved. I know deep down this was not their intent, but it was the outcome of their actions. Still the damage was done. I was officially was outsider in my own family.


As Thanksgiving neared, I thought we would be alone, banished and forgotten. My heart was heavy and felt broken. Sadly I didn't even have the energy to pick them all up off the floor. We were outsiders in our own family. But then, as I was planning to cook for just the 6 of us, my uncle called. Such a sweet voice was his. My uncle Mike ( for whom Micah is named after), he had just come down from Dallas with his sweet wife, Brenda for the Komen walk.


As a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time with my Uncle Mike, and my Uncle Pat. They are my dad's little brothers. Kind, genuine, thoughtful and lovable are these Uncles of mine. As I sat there talking to my Uncle tears were streaming down my face. I missed him, I missed my family and I felt very alone. But here was my uncle, on the other end of the phone, asking my family and I to come to their home for Thanksgiving, to come spend this time of thanks with people who loved me, still needed me. I was speechless. I had already wrapped my mind around the idea of being alone yet here my uncle was snapping, tearing, pulling those vines of self pity off me!


I was unsure of the drive to Dallas. I felt depleted, and I was weary of the 6 hour drive ahead of us as I climbed into our vehicle that evening. We headed up to my Uncle and new aunt's home. We arrived late Wednesday night and were welcomed with open arms. More of my cousins were there and they hugged me tight. I felt so loved, so alive. I was happy to be around this family of mine. No one looked at me any differently than who I have always been. I was Christie, motor mouth, giggly and undeniably me! True I had no hair, no eyebrows or eye lashed. Yes I was missing a boob, but I was still me. My dear family knew me, loved me and embraced me for who I was not what I was.


That Thanksgiving was spent around a great big table with lots of wonderful food. We spent time talking, reminiscing and watching football. The boys were happier than I had seen them in a very long time. Joshua and Micah played outside with their cousin most of the day.We went to a movie, and you know what? No one was embarrassed to stand or sit by me in public. Life was wonderful that day. I was loved, we were loved and brought in to feel close to the family we were apart of.


Life has changed dramatically since then. My hair has grown back , as has my brows and lasheS. I have 1 and a half boobs now instead of just one. I look like me again, yet there are still some that cannot bear to be around me still. The very thought of my cancer still scares them, repels them and so they continue to avoid me. But I am not as weak as I was then either. I am stronger, more confident than I was before. But mostly, I am loved. I am apart of this family, the family Johnny and I have created and God has graciously given to us.


So as the sun rose this morning I began to gather my family, and the food I had prepared. This year we have but a short drive, as we are spending the day with extended family. Today, we celebrate and we give thanks. As I gather around the table today with Johnny, the boys, my parents and our wonderful extended family I am reminded of how precious life is. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, none of us know what the next day will bring. What we do have is the here and now. These precious, fleeting moments are gifts. So I give thanks today for all I have been given, cancer and all. I have my life, my family and I have today to spend with those I love.


So I say to all those I love and hold dear--- Happy Thanksgiving. I may not be able to sit down at your tables today, but I am with you in spirit. I hold each of you dear and I am thankful for the love I feel from all of you. Enjoy this day of thanksgiving, cherish the time you have with your loved ones and embrace the day as if it were your last!


Christina

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not Just My Story...

Life is a journey, it does not matter what path you are set on. Life can be joyous, and cruel. Along the path life can bring unexpected pleasures and loss. Grief can come from not just ahead but it can sneak up from behind. Low lying branches can snag your arm. pulling you downwards. the road before each of us can and will be rocky at times no doubt. Yet even in the midst of such pain, weariness and confusion life can offer us bits of strength and hope we never knew where there.

Many times in the midst of our fight with death, fear, illness, our children are overlooked. No we do not over look their care, needs or the love we give their precious souls. What is lost, overlooked sometimes is their might, their core of true inner strength. This is the lesson I was taught this last week.

As I came out of my IVIG treatment, waking after 15 hours of sleep, I realized my children had been kept from me. My heart broken as I saw clouded images of both Joshua and Micah asking to see me and being turned away. Tears filled my eyes and swept down my face. By no choice of my own my children had been denied their mother. I was broken as I wept right there in my own room. The one promise I have always made to my boys was broken: I have always given my word they would never be kept away from me. I have always made it clear to my doctors, nurses and care givers to allow my children close to my side. All that came crumbling down last week.

As I began filing away, throwing out and gluing the pieces of my heart back together I received an email. It was from Joshua's councilor at school. I clicked on it and began reading what I thought was much of the same.... Joshua said he was fine, private, keeping much of his thoughts to himself. But that wasn't the news, not all of it anyway. Yes, he was quiet and yes he did say he was fine. What I wasn't expecting was he was open to speaking to another child whose mother was facing cancer and chemo.

As I read on I learned how Joshua was eager to speak with this child who was having an incredibly difficult time with the mother was going through chemo. So my Joshua, my quiet boy willingly offered his experience up letting this other child know they weren't alone. As the two children sat there they both spoke about how they handled their mom's difficult times. they talked for a while about how they handled things at home and how it affects them at school. The counselor said that Joshua was incredibly helpful and full of good ideas on how to handle the day to day worries of this illness. Joshua spoke of my battle, how he dealt with it, how he still deals with the fear, and even encouraged this other child to have their mother read my blog! Joshua's counselor then said she was so proud of him and what a great and awesome leader he was.

I sat there, in front of my computer with tears filling my eyes so proud of my baby and in awe of Joshua's strength. My heart felt as if it would burst. Then as I pulled away from the screen I began to slowly realize Joshua's inner strength. I saw the depth of his endurance, the width of his understanding and the beauty of his compassion. All these attributes I have known he had but somehow hadn't seen as a whole before.

This Breast Cancer has been my battle, my beast to fight, to beat or has it? The truth is this isn't just my battle, it is also my husbands' and my childrens'. Through all the ups, downs, treatments, operations and everyday existence my children have walked with me. Every ditch, mile and sink hole I have climbed out of or gone through. my boys have too. Joshua and Micah have placed their faith and feet in every footstep I have made along the road. It has not just been my eyes to have the rose colored glasses break, but theirs as well.

I have often wondered all the whys of God's plan in all this. I have asked God many times about the nightmares, tears and sleepless nights my children have faced together. I have thought about the men my boys will one day become, what kind of husbands and fathers they will be. I have struggled with the emotional burdens they carry and the scares this will all leave behind in the wake of their lives. I have worried, tossed through many nights over what I will leave both boys in the end. Yet in this one email I could see God's grace. The insight and wisdom He has given my children. I was given a gimps into Joshua and Micah's unique ability to continue growing and thriving in spite of their own worst fears.

My son, Joshua, has proven in the midst of the battlefield, hope can be found and shared. My first born became the teacher and I the student last week. Joshua, in this act of bravery and compassion , taught me just how strong our children can be. I now see the full scope of the beasts' affect on our lives. Life has been tough. but it has not been all bad either. In Joshua's clarity I can see the full depth of his soul, and blinding brightness of his spirit. This is not just my story to tell anymore...it is his too.

Christina






Thursday, November 20, 2008

Recovery and Awards

Life has been crazy the last two days. I have not been up to my normal speed so I am sorry it has taken me this long to write this entry.

I just want to say I am humbled and blessed to be surrounded by so many dear and wonderful friends. I am still recovering from the IVIG on Tuesday. It was much rougher than I expected. My BP sky rocketed for one, then I developed a major headache, followed by fever, followed by throwing up. Finally the nurse knocked me out. That is really saying it lightly! I woke up close to 7 AM the next morning...15 hours later. No joke.

So I have been recovering the last couple of days. I am stilling running a low grade fever and I have eaten two meals since Tuesday, But I will say this in spite of it all: I can bend my fingers! Yes I said bend. I can almost make a fist. I am so excited. If this is just after one treatment, what will happen after two? Truth: I hate the process, but if the process will give me some of the pieces back of my life I feel have been taken, well, I am game. I look at it the same way I looked at chemo.

I hated every minute of it. It sucked to be plain honest. It was painful, terrible and devouring. But it saved my life. So the bottom line is this: I may not like all the turns I have to take. I may not like the meds, the treatments or even the doctors sometimes. But in the end if one of those options will give me just 5 more minutes with my children, I will swollen what ever poison handed to me.

Life is hard that way. I know. This new treatment scared my boys. They came home from school and I was laid out on my bed out cold, an IV running into my arm and the nurse would not let them come near me. They were terrified, scared, beyond fear. Last night both Joshua and Micah came to me, in tears. Micah asked if I was going to die. He said he was scared I was going to be taken from him. He slept in our bed glued to my side. Joshua, wiped his tears away hurriedly and asked if he needed to worry. What can you tell your babies at that point? I just held them, told them I loved them and that I have no plans to go anywhere, anytime soon.

Life... can be unbearable at times. But every minute you have with those who you love is beyond the burden we carry. How does the song go? " Life any always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride." Well, that is how I feel. A dear friend recently shared this with me: "But would you and I have had this chance to cross paths if it had not been so?" The answer is no. I would have never found such true friendship or such beautiful kindness as the kind I have found here in "J Land".You are each part of my family, part of who I am and who I am becoming. I love to read through your entries. They make me laugh, think, cry and hope. Each one blesses me in their own special way, so I want to thank Sugar (Her link is attached to the award) and Michelle (her link is attached to her award) for the Marie Antoinette awards they have passed on to me.

I am going to do this a little different since I have received two awards. You will see below what I mean. Sugar out it best when she gave her award out when she mentioned that there are way too many blogs to give this award to. I wish I could pass it on to everyone.

7. Dreamlight at: http://butterflydreamer-dreamlight.blogspot.com/

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14. Robin at: http://yellowbrickroadtwo.blogspot.com/
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Here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your journal - Real People - Real Blogs.
2. Place a link from the person, from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate at least 7 if you can.
4. Put the links of those on your journal.
5. Leave a message on their journal to let them know.
6. Put the award on your sidebar/journal.
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Please be sure to congratulate everyone and spend some time reading these blogs. I have chosen these because of their humor, truth in their journeys and insight into life. they may be simple or complex but they all have something to offer us. Every blog I follow I enjoy and come back time and time again. So please don't feel left out! I know many have already received this award so I chose to pass this on to those who had not had the honor yet.

Enjoy!

My love to all.

Christina

Monday, November 17, 2008

Life On the Merry-Go-Round


Well.... OK I am stumped. Not really sure where to begin, what to say or even really what to do with myself actually. Never a dull moment... that's me! I sometimes feel as if I have been living my life on a merry -go- round. You know the one on the playground we used to spin on as kids? Round and round we would go...



One minute we were perfectly still, ready for the twisting mayhem to begin. Then we were off and spinning out of control. Remember how we would laugh and scream and laugh some more? Remember how much fun it was? So where has all my sense of adventure gone?


As a little girl I had a real sense of imagination. I would build forts, fight off the enemy then have tea with the Queen. I would be a princess, a cowgirl and wonder woman all in one day. Today I would love to liken myself to a female Indiana Jones. You know? Dodging the bullet, swinging across the cliffs out running breast cancer and her consorts.


With that image in my mind today, I must reach as far back as possible. I need to call on my old friend, adventure. It's time to dust off my hat, pull my jacket back on and crack the whip! Fear... I do not know his name! This afternoon I need to do more than imagine a quick escape... whatever traps lay a head of me I must overcome.


That said, today I start my IVIG treatment. I am a bit nervous as I don't really know what to expect. I do know this is an infusion and it will last 4 hours. A nurse is coming out to the house to administer the treatment. She will monitor my blood pressure every 30 minutes. I will do this dance once a week for an indefinite amount of time. Cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, lymphedema they all seem to keep handing me off from one to the other. At times I feel as if I go from the tango to the pasa doble to the rumba.


Tiring isn't it? But trudge on I will. After all, I am a princess, a cowgirl, wonder woman, and Indiana, right? I can dance and I can sit with the Queen. I can defend the fort and capture the villains. I can out run a boulder and dance like a pro. Maybe it is time to get back on that merry-go-round. Adventure? Sure why not? Maybe a good dose of adventure is exactly what I need? Ready? Set. Cross your fingers. OK, let's go!!!


Christina


P.S. Please be sure to sign my guestbook!

Mending the Broken Pieces, My Conversation With God...

Christina---
God, are you there?


God----
Yes child.

Christina---
Have I disappointed you?

God ---
No, not at all child.

Christina---
Are you sure God?

God---
I am sure.




Christina---
Then why has this happened?
Why me?
Why my life and my family?
Why have You allowed this beast to drag me into her den?
To feast upon me, and scar me like she has?
Can't I just stay here, in the darkness... forever?
Can I choose to forget everything?
To just sleep.
To be rid of her scales?
God?
I am really tired.
I do not want to battle this merciless beast.
I do not! I do not! I do not want to!

God---
Christina...breathe.
Stop holding your breathe.
Go on, child just breathe .

Christina---
(Loud exhale)

God---
Ah, doesn't that feel better?
Wake up now.

Christina---
No, I don't want to.

God---
But it's time...
Open your eyes, Christina.

Christina---
I don't think so God.
No, I just don't think I am ready.

God---
Open your eyes Christina.

Christina---
Not yet.

God---
Christina...
Please open your eyes?

Christina---
I told You,
I'm not ready.

God---
Christina,...
Do You trust Me?

Christina---
But I'm scared.
I'm scared to see all I have lost.

God---
Lost?
What have you lost?

Christina---
My breast,
my life,
all that I have known.

God---
Child open your eyes.
See all you have been given.

Christina---
Been Given?
Are you kidding me?
How do You figure?
Haven't I just lost my breast?
What have I been given God?
Have You seen me lately?

God---
Yes, I have.

Christina---
What are you trying to tell me God?
Are You saying I am not deformed?
You don't see my uniboob?
Come on God...
do I really have to, spell it out,
let the -cat- out of- the- bag
here for You?
After all You did create me with two.
Let's do the math...
Two minus one equals...
One!!!!!!!
Don't You think something is just a bit , well, off here?

God---
I see you child.
I see your spirit.
I see your soul.
I can see all that you were.
I see all that you are.
And I see all that you will be.

Christina---
Will be?
Um...
No breast here God!
What can I be except a freak of nature?

God---
Need I remind you child ...
I am the One who created nature?
I see the woman you have become.
I see the mother you are.
I still see in you...
the child you once were.
I see My daughter...
I see her is standing in front of me, completely whole.

Christina---
You see me ... whole?

God---
Child, I see all these things.
Do you not know this already?

Christina---
But God...

God---
But what child?
Can you not see?
Have I not given you insight?
Look!
Open your eyes...
See all your life...
It is waiting for you.
All you need to do is ,
wake up and
open your eyes.

Christina---
How can I?
I just want to sleep.
Can't I just stay here in the darkness?

God---
No, child.
That is not My plan for you.

Now Wake Up!

Christina---
But my eyes are still closed.

God---
Then open your eyes Christina!
Wake up child.
Don't look back.
Don't look beside you.
Look only to the front of you.
See all the beauty,
the joy and
the hope yet to come.
After all this time,
my child...
don't you yet know?
It is I, holding your heart?

I AM always with you.
I have never left your side.

Christina---
But I'm afraid.

God---
I know.
Take My hand.

Christina---
I don't want to see the scar.

God---
What scar?
I don't see a scar child.

Christina---
You don't!
Are you sure, God?

God---
Yes child, I am very sure.
I only see you.
I give you this promise:
All your worries,
I will replace with Strength.
All your fears,
I will replace with Hope.
All your pain,
I will replace with Courage.

Child, I will not leave you!
I will not turn My back on you.
Child... wake up.
Open your eyes.
It is time.

Christina---
Just breathe?

God---
Yes.

Christina---
OK...
One.
Two.
Three.

Johnny---
Christina,
Are you OK?

Christina---
I will be.

Johnny---
Are you sure?

Christina---
Yep.
I have His promise.

Johnny---
Who?
What?
His promise?

Christina---
God said,

"He would mend all my broken pieces".

Johnny---
What?

Christina---
I just need to trust Him!







Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Crazy, Wonderful Mismatch


As a child my day dreams were filled full of fairy tales,--- princesses, castles, jousting, knights and riding off into the sunset. As a woman, my sights were a bit more realistic when I met my husband. Alright so Johnny isn't my knight in shining armor. Getting the man up on a horse would never quite happen. I think I would actually pay to see that happen!


The two of us are a crazy, wonderful mismatch. Johnny and I met and married in 6 months time. Most of our family and friends thought we would never last. Well, here we are 13 years later. True we have had our troubles, fought our battles, but we have always come out on top together. The bottom line is this: We absolutely love one another! We have known that from the first moment we met. I know what most people think, but for Johnny and I, the old taboo of finding love at first sight was a perfect fit.


Johnny was not just handsome, he was strikingly beautiful. His high cheek bones, brown eyes and cinnamon skin was more than my senses could process. Johnny was strong, quiet and so completely my polar opposite. Yet I was drawn to him. I saw the rest of my life in his eyes and I knew, he knew, we were each others match.


Johnny and I were both fairly young when our souls crossed each other's path. We were both searching for that "someone" to complete us. We found each other and never let go. No matter the trials, the hurts, the ups and downs, we have always come back to the one thing that holds us together, well make that two things.:We always come back to the Lord and our deep love for the other.


Johnny is the one man who has loved me unconditionally in my life. The one man who has seen past my insecurities in life and taken me not just into his bed, but into his life. Johnny has sacrificed many parts of who he is for me. When his family on the Reservation would not accept me or our children, drawing a line for him, making him choose us or them Johnny painfully walked away from his past. I cannot stress enough: It was painful! It is not an easy thing for anyone to do, but as an American Indian man this is even harder. There are 10 American Indian commandments. One of them is to show great respect for your fellow beings ( honor and respect your family). But they also state to do what you know is right, be truthful and honest at all times and take full responsibility for your actions. For Johnny this is a complete contradiction when it come to his family --- his mother, his wife and his children. In order to do what was right, to keep his family together, to be able to look his children in the eyes, he was forced to choose. The pain inside of him must be excruciating.


I can't imagine the turmoil inside his spirit over this. For over 7 years it has remained so. Micah was just 2 when this great divide occurred. Joshua barely remembers calling his grandmother "Apple" as his little self used to call her. It has pained me through the years because I can feel his pain just under the surface. The ripple affect hurts everyone involved. Johnny does *give assistance and kindness wherever needed, but how can he *look after the well-being of mind and body when his spirit has been torn in such a manner? Our boys, precious and kind, have but a glimpse of who they are, where they really descend from. For Johnny, sharing this part of his soul is terrifying. I do not understand why this had to be, but it is the reality of our here and now. I pray often for reconciliation for both Johnny our boy's sake.



When I look out over all the water under the bridge I see the current pulling us, forcing us down the river. Do I understand all the ripples, the waves pushing us up onto the shore ? No, not at all. But I do understand God has given us a boat to sail through times such as these( even if leaks spring up from time to time). In the wider picture this is yet another part of our struggle together. This life we have chiseled together has been tough and yet very beautiful. I love this man with all my being. Johnny is a very inward man, a closed door to many most of the time. Yet for all that, Johnny is a gracious , loyal man and a protective husband and father.


Johnny has been by my side all this time, holding my hand, carrying me when I could not continue on my own. No, he is not a man of many words, and true Johnny is not a man to exhibit his "feelings" for all to see. But when we are alone, just the two of us together, Johnny is my rock. When I am weak, Johnny is my strength. When I am afraid it is Johnny who is readily by my side. My husband has loved me through the good and the bad, some rich but mostly poor times, in sickness and in health. Johnny has loved me with two breasts and held me closer with just one breast. I love this man, my husband, and father of our children. We have taught one another so much. (I may have laughed as I taught him how to make eggs and grilled cheese, and he may roll his eyes trying to teach me to play poker). Still through out all the many ins and outs of our marriage I could not have lived without his gentle might, nor would I be able to survive without his inner strength shinning brightly on the path before us.


Johnny is a gentle warrior, and a good man. Our life together has not been easy to say the least, but it has been worth every step, worth every mile. We may never find gold at the end of the rainbow or out live my cancer. But in the end we will have lived a long life together worth the uneven, rocky path set before us. In the end, I believe sometimes it's the broken road that leads us right where we need to be... into each other's arms.


Christina


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wonder Woman, I Am Not!

As a little girl, I always wanted to be Wonder Woman. What little girl wouldn't want to twirl around transforming into her extraordinary alter ego? Like so many girls my age I dreamed about putting on this super heroes golden tiara and cuffs, red boots, snazzy one piece suit and of course her lasso of truth? The hours I would spend daydreaming, imagining and pretending to be this amazon princess...


My parents still love to tell the story of when I was two years old and how I convinced myself I was indeed Wonder Woman. I climbed up and onto their chest of drawers with a cape (made from a towel) tied around my neck. Apparently in the very early hours before the sun rose they awoke to catch a glimpse of my tiny body projecting off their dresser, flying over their heads and across the bed all while shouting " Wonder Woman!".


After all these years I guess it still comes down to my love of Wonder Woman. I am sure that it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me as 'Christina, Breast Cancer Warrior' also knows my heroine is still indeed Wonder Woman. Apart of the everyday working world she is Diana Prince, seemingly ordinary( wearing big bold glasses and her hair up) . As part of the Amazon beauties she is known as Princess Diana, a super heroine whose powers allows her to catch super villains and super villainesses ( all the while wearing high heeled boots and free flowing hair) .

There are times I still try and imagine myself as Wonder Woman. The scene that plays in my mind is between our heroine and Carlo Indrezzano. (It goes something like this. Carlo Indrezzano: YOU saved me? Wonder Woman: Yes. Carlo Indrezzano: Impossible. You're a woman! Wonder Woman: I have heard that once or twice before. ) But the truth is this: I am no super heroine. I have no theme music, no costume, or any twirling transformation which dissolves me from ordinary to extraordinary. I do not possess any kind of super powers, extraordinary beauty, or any such gadgets. I cannot twirl around and have perfect, beautiful put together cleavage. I do not possess a lasso of truth enabling me to force doctors and insurance companies to admit the truth to me. Nor do I own a pair of bracelets allowing me to deflect cancer bullets.


What I do have is Hope, Courage and Strength. I do hold faith in this power I have as a woman, as a mother and as a survivor. I do not believe my own Feminine Mystique been any less dampened because I have only half the cleavage as before. What I do have is the strength as a woman in both my family and my children . I have lost nothing and gained everything in letting go of my childhood fantasies. Instead of balancing an alter ego ultimately it is Hope and the legacy I leave behind for my children that guides me day to day as a woman.


As a little girl I could not have imagined my life would have taken so many detours. I could not have ever written a script any wilder than the one my life has been cast into. As a little girl I wanted to live on an island, far away. As a grown woman I know that no one can exist as an island unto themselves. As a little girl I wanted to be beautiful, flawless. Enduring my own battle scars I have learned outward beauty is merely skin deep. The real deal is always found just below the surface. As a child I dreamed of great strength, shouting to the villains, "Show's over boys". My childlike imagination was fearless in the face of danger. For all my hoping and dreaming as a child this may be the one characteristic of Wonder Woman I still hope to actually attain.


Bottom line: I do not need to fly around in an invisible plane or perform imaginary heroic feats of my childhood mind to survive this Beast. I do not need to wear a golden belt for strength. I simply need to hold my Faith a bit tighter. Nor do I need a costume to bring me Hope . Ultimately, the truth is much simpler as in place of Super Powers is something much stronger--- my family. No, Wonder Woman I am not. But Mother, Wife, and Survivor I am!


Christina







Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Letting Go...




My Joshua is 12 today.


I just have to stop,



and let it sink in....



Unbelievable.
Has time flown by so quickly?
Where did it all go?


Joshua was just 9 when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. He was in third grade. We had just moved into our first home. I had just thrown him an out of sight Dinosaur party. He was still so young, innocent and untouched by real fear and worry.

This year as Joshua turns 12 he has entered the 6Th grade. We have been in our home for 3 years and his party has no theme. For the most part Joshua is still innocent and young. But unlike before, worry and fear have taken up residence ---even if it is only seasonal.

Indeed, life has changed. For better, for worse? Both I would have to say for I do not believe you can have one with out the other. Life's little lessons have big punches don't they?

Joshua, my precious son, a boy becoming a man ,is kind, good natured, tender hearted and loyal. He has stood by my side through it all. Taken my hand when I least expected it, wiped away my tears and hugged me tight when I could not stand one more minute of this insanity. My boy is growing into a good man, tender and understanding, well rounded with strength I could have never given him on my own.

I am grateful, and yet somewhat sorrowful as I see him grow. I am loosing my boy no doubt. I worry I have not given him enough care, maybe too much grief and fear along the way. Yet, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know he is always aware of my unconditional love. I have to believe that when all is said and done Joshua will have that one gift to hold on to through all the years of his life.

Yes, my boy is no longer a child, not quite a man, but forever my child.

Time to let go...

Christina

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Roses, Chistina!!!

"When I was a child, ladies and gentleman, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times...I learned very early in life that: "Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain't got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend -- without a song." So I keep singing my song."”--- Elvis Presley




Life is full of unexpected surprises. Some good and some rotten. Wrapped up any way you want , life is a gift. Each and every day we are given to wake, each day we have to greet the sun and each day we have to hold our loved ones close is a precious gift. Pain, troubles, fear... sure they are all part of the day, but so is the love we share and the joy we hold. Those surprises, both good and bad are the prizes at the end of the day continually making this life worth living. Every morning I get up and face a new day is a reminder of how truly blessed and how very much alive I am! Sure, I have a ton of left over baggage from the previous day, but don't I still have this new day in front of me? A day full of possibilities and new adventures? Yes, and this morning after two brutal days I was reminded of those blessings.

Children have a way of shaking us right out of our self induced misery. They really do. My morning started off, well rather chaotic. I over slept, missed the alarm and didn't wake until I heard the neighbor boy knock on our front door at 5 till 7 this morning. Crazy does not begin to cover it!

I jumped up, threw the covers off and on top of both Johnny and poor Micah. I went scrambling out of the room and into the living room where Joshua was sound asleep. Of course he was, poor baby, I hadn't woken him up at 6:20 A.M. because I had slept through the alarm! Both Johnny and I were up and running. Normally Johnny isn't up till after 7 A.M. when he takes both Joshua and his friend to school.

Breakfast, no time Johnny said. Well as a mother that didn't even sink in. Breakfast was on the table lickity spilt. I was brushing Joshua's hair, grabbing his back pack. Johnny was digging through the clean laundry for clothes. I was a wreck. Then my eyes caught sight of Joshua's buddy. Bless his heart he was folding up the bedding for me. I hadn't asked but there he was. I was standing there in shock. This sweet boy was helping me out. I must have looked like a crazy women. The scene must have been nuts, but there he was just folding away.

Suddenly everything stopped for me. This was my first gift of the day. I was humbled and touched. Then as suddenly as it began the race to get out of the door slowed down. Zack just looked at me and said, " I just thought I would help you out Mrs. Olachia." I hugged him and thanked him. This was my first reminder... life is precious, slow down, enjoy the ride and for goodness sake Christina, stop and smell the roses!

Joshua finished his breakfast, brushed his teeth and saddled up his back pack. I hugged my boy and kissed him on the cheek and said goodbye. Then I turned my attention to Micah. Like clockwork Micah comes in our room at 11:30 P.M. and crawls into bed with us every night. Never fails with his sleep mask pushed up, rubbing his eyes Micah announces that he cannot sleep. Then he crawls over Johnny and the dog to sleep next to me. There he was sleeping like a baby all wrapped up in the cover on our bed as if he owned it. His morning would go a bit smoother as school for him starts an hour later.

I woke him up and had him out to the table for breakfast with out a fuss. No one was announcing there wasn't time this time around. Blessing number two. As Micah woke up, his excitement started to build. Today was 50's day at school marking the 50th day of school. Micah was dressing up like Elvis! Oh how he loves Elvis. In fact for his 8th birthday he had an Elvis party complete with an Elvis impersonator!

Talk about crazy fun!He finished breakfast and sat there expectantly. I pulled out the 5 different hair care products I needed to get his hair fixed in place. This is the thing about Micah's hair: It was fine and straight before my chemo ( Just like mine was). Now his hair is thick, curly and a mess ( Just like mine is). So tackling his hair and making a duck tail out of it was a project. Spray, defrizzer, mouse, gel ( tons of gel) and hair spray. Finally his hair was done. Next came the white T, the jeans ( rolled up a bit), the fake leather jacket, and the icing on the cake... gold glasses with side burns! He was ready and eager to play his role. Micah kissed me and then he was off and out the door. There was no stopping him.Talk about blessings, surprises and gifts! What a morning I have had and it is only 8:45 A.M. !

This is the most important lesson I have learned and from time to time have had to be re-taught: Life is a blessing. Give or take, joy or sorrow, dark or blue skies... we are here for a purpose. Without one, we cannot have the other. Life is not perfect and so we have to hold on to the little things that make life bearable.

Yes, this has been a crazy few days for me and yes, I have grumbled and complained. We all have those moments. Without them we would not be human. But today, wrapped up in the crazy chaos of this morning I found hope again. I latched on to the blessings right in front of me, my family and those who lovingly surround my life. Without realizing it I started climbing back out of the pit I had fallen into.

I am blessed. Pain will come as will fear and frustration. The thing I have learned though in all this turmoil along my journey with the beast is that we all have to rest. Even the beast has to force herself back into the den every once and a while. We are warriors, journeymen and women, but rest is a vital part of living. Blessing work the same way my friends. We all need them and we are all blessed by them... we just have to be open to what we are given come rain or shine. We just have to open our eyes and see the gifts waiting for us to open.


Christina

Monday, November 10, 2008

Approval: DENIED.


Just a peak into my most recent go around with my ever caring, always preventative, in my corner insurance company. Mondays are grand aren't they? Really just what I needed on a dark, dull rainy day.

8:00 A.M.

Breast M.R.I. :

Diagnosis Code: Check.


Criteria:

Breast Cancer: Check.

Silicone Implant: Check.

Breast Pain: Check.

Painful Lump: Check.


Under Review: Check.

Review Complete: Check.

Approval Status: DENIED. (Does not meet criteria.)


Necessary Criteria:

Breast Falling Off: Not yet. ( but soon I imagine.)

STUPID PEOPLE: Check.

Say what? Did I hear you right sir? Big Mr. Insurance man, you did not just ask for an Amen? No, I think we need to talk and by talk I mean maybe what we need is a hallelujah come to Jesus meeting kind of talk! What does B-R-E-A-S-T C-A-N-C-E-R and the word C-O-M-P-L-I-C-AT-I-O-N-S mean to you? Keep my voice down... what about getting my dander up? Click.

Alright I might have over reacted, just a bit anyway. I know I should have been more gracious like the southern woman I am. True, I should have been understanding of all the money that they have paid out on me already this year. I know, I know, but how many times are we suppose to roll over and let the big buck kings step all over us? Yes, I most certainly feel like going to fist city ( as my Granny used to say) with a few of these higher archy types! They just don't get it. What are they waiting for? Ah, that is it, isn't it? They are waiting for me to give up and die. No more claims. End Game.

(Just a while back I had to deal with a medical debt collector. Do you want to know what her response to me was after I explained that I could not pay it all off right now? Are you ready for this? Don't say I didn't warn you! Her words: Well that isn't any of my problem lady.)

So where do I go from here? I really don't know. My husbands HR is on it. It will get resolved, but the time we are wasting is villainous to be sure. In the end it will be approved and I will have my M.R.I. But if this was serious? What if this was life or death? What if there was no time to waste? Can you imagine if this is just the M.R.I. what getting approval for the surgery is going to be like?

5:30 P.M.

Final Appeal: Approved.

Christina

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sign on the Dotted Line Please


So this week has been well one for the books. Crazy doesn't even begin to describe it. There are definitely times in my life when I feel as if I am a big gummed up ball of mess under the table just waiting for someone to come along and scrape me off! Seriously, that is how I feel right now. Put aside the normal crazy of my life... and you have absurd. But this week has just topped the charts and is seriously one for the books.

Flash back....Breast reconstruction was the way to go. I was all aboard that train. No problems, well that was what I was told, just sign on the dotted line.... Christina D. Olachia. Done. Well in my world of 20/20 I would say CRAZY was written all over that one but did I take note? Oh no, I just signed away, trusted what i was told and went along as typical happy go luck Christina. Why not, after all I had just had my boob whacked off. How could it get any worse? I had been living with an expander for 12 months, how bad could an breast implant be? Worse.


Life will resume a sense of normal Christina. You will feel whole, beautiful and have no real worries. So I took the dream hook, line and sinker. My life normal? Wrong, wrong, wrong! So I say to any woman about to consider this: be educated on all your options ladies! Don't follow the pied piper into a world of devastation and misery.

Back to the present reality... that said here is the recap of my week....

Problem #1.

My R.A. is kicking my butt. Getting better? No, not a chance. So now my next treatment option is something called IV IG treatment .WORDS TO CONSIDER here are:

1) Immunoglobulins
2) plasma
3) immunomodulator
4) overactive
5) immune system
6) annual cost
7) $50,000

Okie Dokie then.

Problem #2

My implant is not kicking my butt, no, nothing as bad as all that. I am just suffering from buyer remorse on this one. So I am just banging my head against the wall. The word concussion is written on this claim, maybe a self induced coma? Alrighty then this is the deal. I had a breast exam 3 days ago. Words to describe that would be: Painful, tender, agonizing. Nothing much to worry about right? Sure, no worries. Wrong... here we go again. Words to ponder here are:

1) Breast MRI
2) Ripple
3) Corrosion (through)
4) Skin
5) Hard Lump
6) Small Pocket
7) Leakage

Again, Okie Dokie then.

Well no one can ever say that I live a dull life. Seriously in between all this new information I am living life as wonder woman, lol. ( I have some great ideas on that topic!) Never slowing down is my motto! Let's see what this week includes: Joshua's birthday. ( cake, gift, paintball, dinner) Micah's school musical ( costume, dress rehearsal, 3 performances), wrapping up a fundraising party ( at my house) for Komen, 2 doctor appointments, did I say that? No I meant 3, 1 MRI, some blood work, a 24 hour collection (checking my kidneys because I have too much protein spilling), homework ( times 2 boys), house recovery ( lol, due to Hurricane Joshua/ Micah), school fundraiser ( cookie dough pickup), 50th day of school dress up ( Micah wants to be Elvis) and that's just the things I can actually remember, lol.

Getting back on track... So back to being the gum under the table. There are seriously those time ( I think we all have them) when I feel chewed up, completely devoid of any more use and discarded. That is how my body feels right now. I emphasize body, because my mind and spirit are well. I am just spent and I am tired physically. I do not want to have to deal with breast problems anymore. I am done with the complications. I want to be able to put all this to bed ( Maybe that is just wishful thinking). But I keep being pulled back into the bully- a- breast arena. So is this is the game? If this is what I have to do, well, then I want the chance to wear the gloves and knock this beast out for once! I want to be the one to do the scraping and discarding. Is that too much to ask for?

I am done with playing around, nodding my head up and down and basically being the pawn. I want to take control of this game and finally come out ahead. Am I wrong for feeling this way? Am I being selfish, whinny, and too pushy? I don't know, maybe I am. I just want a change in the odds. Maybe for just once to be able to stop and breath...just for a minute anyway. I am not trying to complain and act like a brat, really I am not. I just want to be able to just be a mom, and to be able to be the wife I set out to be...someday anyway.

I am seriously afraid that I am leaving my children fear, uncertainty. Where has their childhood gone? I can tell you where it has gone... to CANCER, that's where! Do you think they will remember more than this beast's grip in their lives once they have left their boyhood's behind them? I sure hope so. I really do.

I guess I am having a pity party here. Sorry, about that. I just need to get this out so that I can break out of this shell, this frozen state I have woken up to this morning. I guess I am just tired.

X Christina
..........................

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Living Life One Breast At A Time


OK, so living life one breasted isn't any woman's first choice, but it can be the best choice. I am not just talking from experience, I am living from it as well.

As I sit here, my computer in front of me, I can look around my house and see evidence of cancers hand. I can see the pain, the fear, the hope and yes even the life that breast cancer has given to me. Was I happy that breast cancer decided to mark me as one of her victims? No, absolutely not. But, I was the one who decided not to be her victim as both time and my life went on in the aftermath.

Breast Cancer. What comes to mind when you here those two words? Loss,pain, breasts, mastectomy, chemo, radiation, fear, worry, possible death, hair loss, change, breast reconstruction, implants? Well all those come to my mind and a few more at least. Breast cancer is about change for the most part. She can cause all kinds of turmoil, yet she can also bring your life together, give you purpose, understanding and a new lease on life. I know because I have lived in her wake.

Living life in spite of the fear can be well, scary. How can it not be? How do women marked by this beast not worry? How do we get up every morning and be the moms, the wives and the women we need to be? Well, we have hope, yes, but we also have strength and determination. Still even with those attributes, it takes effort and a desire to actually live life in full view of the beast's den.

But isn't life is about choices? We all make them everyday. In fact we can't get through the day without coming to at least one cross road. So living life in breast cancer's shadow is basically the same. But the difference is this: Do you make the decision to live with one breast or two? Seriously do you get a license for a unicycle or a two wheeler? Choices can be easy or they can keep you at a stand still for a while. For some this may sound like a no brainer, but honestly it isn't as simple as that. Deciding to go through breast reconstruction is big. Deciding not to go through it is big. But deciding to go through the process and then undo the process must seem crazy. For me it is all tied together.

Women who endure breast cancer need to be well informed, educated on all the pros and cons. You would think that living with today's advancements information would not just be readily available but also eagerly given. Sadly, that isn't always the case and so "crazy" comes into the picture. I don't begrudge anyone for stepping back and stamping crazy all over my forehead. It is natural I guess. The thing is this, life just isn't that simple. We all go through valleys in life, we all deal with hurt, confusion, uncertainty. We all deal until we have to choose. Then it happens! It's like a big bang over our heads, a bright light out of nowhere. Suddenly we have our moment of clarity in spite of all the crazy chaos surrounding us.

That is what has finally happened to me. The light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel. The truth that was not so readily supplied to me in the beginning has turned up the volume in my life. I feel informed, ready to make a decision and live with it. The lingering affects of my cancer have become clear, it is time to move out of the fast lane and into the slower lane of life. No, I will not say that I am not scared because the truth is that I am terrified. I am getting ready to make the biggest decision yet. I am about to basically put myself back through another mastectomy. I am choosing, willingly to live through breast cancer's physical and emotional rape of my body, mind and spirit a second time. Yes, I am about to open up old scars and endure the emotional pain of losing a breast again. So you may be right.... Crazy would describe my condition!

So OK I am completely off my rocker, nuts, absolutely crazy?There is no doubt about that I am certain. Yet I am oddly comforted by the fact that I have already lived through this process once... I know I can live through it again! So tomorrow I will make the call, set the appointment and start the ball or should I say breast rolling. I am not thrilled, but I know this is the right things to do. This is absolutely not an easy decision, but it is what I have to do. How many times in life do we have to turn away from our vanity, from what we want life to be and do what's right? All the time if we are going to be really truthful here. We do it for our children, our husbands, our wives. We turn our own desires away to give way for those that we love on a daily basis. Everyday we have to set our own wants, desires and feeling aside to do what is at times painfully the right thing to do. This is no different.

Living life one breast at a time is not a new concept, it is a reality for so many women. If they can do it, then so can I! Life as a one boob wonder, sure why not?

Christina