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!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Yes Cancer Sucks!

This is a bit of a re -post but it sums up how I feel right now as I am looking ahead at having 2 surgeries in the coming months to correct what the last surgery did to my body...

Is it a bit indulgent to say breast cancer, is honestly the best teacher this woman has ever had?

When all this first began, it was like being sucked up into a vacuum. It was just pure chaos. Crazy does not even begin to cover it. There was no way to see the forest for the trees frankly. The words, "breast cancer," seemed surreal. It was just an elaborate hoax being played on me because there was no way I had cancer. But the truth was, I did.

Suddenly all my fears were front and center demanding all my attention. Up until that moment, I had just been coasting through life. Yes, I needed to take better care of myself. Yes, I really should have dug myself out of the mommy hood trap, but I was content with life just the way it was. I had no real concerns about the future or how I looked to others. I was good to go in a T-shirt, jeans and a pony tail. I didn't take time to have my nails done, or have my hair cut. Lingerie was a thing of the past and just a fantasy of my husbands wild imagination. I always figured that I would have time for all of those things eventually. I always told myself, later, next week, maybe next month. But later never came. We had somehow bypassed tomorrow and landed in a time warp.

Now, oddly enough I take time for the littlest of things. The simple things mean more to me than anything else. Sitting at the table helping my boys do their homework, actually cooking a meal or simply being able to sit through a baseball game without feeling the need to hurl is a triumph worth celebrating. I would say before my cancer, I had yet to fully understand my purpose in this life. I had gone to college, married and become a mother. I felt I was a good mother, not too bad of a wife and a decent friend. I was just traveling down the road of life with no cares. I had purpose and a reason to live but little did I know just how lacking I was in all those areas. Insecurity reigned in my world and I had no real idea it had such a tight hold on me. Then the cancer came and suddenly I was thrust into a whole new world of existence.

In my journey I have found insecurity swings two ways. Either it can cause you to hide yourself in a muddle keeping to the shadows afraid to come out of your shell or it can cause you to throw yourself into the business of always being on top and having to be in control of everything, all the time. The problem is that you can't hide from your own shadow any more than you can keep your nose in every book, all day long. Before cancer, I wanted to please everyone, all the time. So what cancer has taught me is I can't be all things to everyone all the time. But, in giving up those insecurities I can be a good mom, a loving wife and I can keep my friends closer to my heart than ever before. I can be grateful for each and every blessing in my life and I can fight like a girl without feeling puny. I can wear pink and be proud and I can be bald and still feel beautiful.

Again I say I did not fully understand my purpose in life before the "C" word walked into my life and punched me in the gut. Now I can say all this time later and almost 36 years after my birth, I understand my purpose. This breast cancer has changed me. It has pruned and grown me in ways I could never have imagined and it has opened my eyes to my own potential. I am ready to listen and to let my voice be heard. Some may not like what I have to say, but then no one likes hearing that cancer sucks but the truth is it does. So there, I have said it. Cancer sucks, but it also solidifies and carries your soul to a new, beautiful and peaceful state of being if you just let her teach you along the journey!

Cancer is not pretty nor is it easy.Cancer is not just something that you "get over." Long after your diagnosis, once you are done with the initial process, "it" stays with you. Not in a "feel sorry for me" kind of way, but in an empowering kind of way. Suddenly you have looked death straight in the eyes and lived to tell about it. You know what real freedom is and understand it's price. No, you haven't exactly bounced back completely, maybe you never will. But you have defined yourself and your place in this life. Yes, your body has aged by years in the time since your chemotherapy started, but you don't have to give into it. Yes, you still have to work twice as hard to keep up, but the point is you do keep up. You have learned to live in spite of life. As soon as your nails stop falling off, you get that manicure you always put off. As soon as you have hair, you start to "fix it" and yes you start pulling a "look" together. That's what cancer does for you. It strengthen you, encourages your true self to shine through. Your needs are very different now, but you have learned different is not necessarily a bad thing.

Bottom line? Cancer is a teacher if you will let her be. Cancer gives you sacred space you did not allow yourself before. Cancer gives you today, and not just the constant idling promise of "Tomorrow" but TODAY. Cancer is a wake up call to begin living life and in the end becomes a faithful friend always reminding you of just how blessed you really are to be alive!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Port Problems

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up on my new port a cath. Some of you may know that for the last 3 weeks I have been experiencing trouble with it. I have had a lot of swelling, bruising and pain. Not to mention I came out of surgery with a brand new cough. The three weeks in a row my nurse could not access it no matter how hard she tried.

I saw the surgeon on Wednesday afternoon. He flushed it but did not heparin lock it. Again, that night my port site began to swell and I was in pain again. Then on Friday my nurse came to the house and was able to flush it somewhat and attempted to heparin lock it. Things did not go so well. I was in extreme pain and by the evening my port site had swelled to the size of a lemon. Johnny took me to the ER the next day where the associate foe foed me, and sent me home.

Week three began this week. So yesterday my nurse came again and had trouble with the port. She was concerned I had developed a clot and upon calling the docs office the worry began to seep in finally. So I was sent to the hospital for a special test where they shot contrast directly into the port. Well, they did find something alright.

The doc there came out and was as sweet as ever. Told me I wasn't going to like what he found. For starters he feels there was probably a clot at some point but it has broken up on its own, a good thing. Great so what is the bad news? The port has to come out! Yep you heard me right. See I am not crazy like the doc tried to make me feel. What is wrong is there is a perforation in the line. A what? This is what has been causing all the pain. The ivig, the heparin and the saline has been leaking into the tissue. It was plain as day on the screen in front of me. Well there was the reason they could flush it some what, get a blood return, but also why it wasn't working. Been there since surgery is my best guess. So why hasn't anyone found it? Well because they were too busy trying to act like nothing was wrong. Maybe the fact that I came out of surgery black and blue and swollen should have been the first clue! Maybe the fact that I have had one of these before and had none of these issues was another clue something was not right? I don't know , just brain storming here.

So here I wait. Stone wall in front of me. Once he knew it wasn't a blood clot causing the problem, he was un reachable and has been ever since. After the results were in yesterday I was told the doc was back in surgery .Later the hospital called me and told me to call his office first thing in the morning. So here I am waiting again. I called this morning because no one picked up a phone to fill me in. You would think they would right? Nope but I have just heard from one of the office staff, not the doc, not the nurse but a receptionist because they can't dial out at the other office today. So I have been told that my port can wait and given no info on the whys or even asked to come in to be seen. this is sad and nuts at the same time. So here I am with a broken port and no one wants to take responsibility or even talk to me about what is happening to my body! Crazy, sad and quite frankly immature! Sorry if I seem flustered.
So once again, the adventure continues....

So here is the update:
My mom stepped in this afternoon and finally got someone over there to speak with me. I still have yet to speak with the doc himself, but will do so soon. Bless my mom's heart she talked to the RN herself and explained how I was still sitting in the dark almost 24 hours later. The nurse was kind when she spoke to me and faxed over a release and letter explaining my port could not be accessed due to a faulty device. ( We plan to get away for a few days. I really, really need it after all this.) So I guess that is how it is being explained. I really don't think there is a way to know for sure. I am just glad to know I am not a crazy, whinny , over dramatic woman! They know now, I know now and once life is somewhat sane the device will come out.
For three weeks I have been living with a hole in my line and it has been painful. Hopefully my shoulder and chest will start to heal and I will be back to my old self soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

On the Back Roads of Life

Sometimes life takes a turn not on your road map. I can attest to it, over, and over, and over again. At first you set out on what seems to be a beautiful country road. It's a nice quiet ride through the countryside, life seems tranquil and bursting with life. But then you hit your first bumpty, bump, bump and you begin bouncing all over the place while you try controlling your vehicle through a dusty, bumpy off the map road.

Before you know what has actually happened you have taken not one, not two but countless detours as you continue twisting and turning down and through this off beat road. When the day started out you would never have expected to be here, down this road right?

So by the time you have stopped on the side of the road and changed out an old tire or two, refilled the gas tank and changed the oil you are completely spent. Once you have gotten back in the vehicle and on the road you stop... breath and start your engine and push the gas pedal down as hard as you can. Good you are moving and your old road map in the glove compartment? Well it has finally been thrown out the window and you have decided to trust your gut.

I have to say I thought I was done with all this hullabaloo. After all the breast cancer in and outs I wanted to be done with all this off the map road business but life doesn't work that way does it? Life is not about easy paths, light rains and gentle winds is it? No it is not! Life is about struggle, pain, and the ability to endure all she throws at you.

I have spent most of the last 3 years fighting cancer. Five years ago I would never have imagined myself saying " I am a breast cancer survivor". It just wasn't on my life map, no way , no how. But it was, and it is... but I am still fighting it, everyday. I will continue to do so as each day goes by because life is worth the journey.

Am I tired? Am I am sore and worn out? YES I AM! But, here is that word again... but... I am still standing. Yep I sure am, even if I am leaning against the passengers side of this life vehicle, I am still standing.

I am struggling right now with my new port-a-cath. It isn't what I wanted, especially for a second time, nor is it not going as well as I had hoped. This road is going to be a bit bumpy. My body has not responded quite as I would have liked it to. The truth is I am going to have to wipe away a few tears and learn to roll with a new punch or two.

Life is full of bumpy roads and sometimes we have to throw our hands up in the air and give up, give in and just scream at the steering wheel. But that's OK because if we didn't take a wrong turn or two from time to time on the back roads of life how else would we ever find those wide open green patches of untouched beauty?