Face Tattoos and Other Such Nonsense

A couple of weeks ago.  I got a face tattoo.  Well, two actually.  While I normally have a very, VERY high tolerance for pain, this particular session was nearly intolerable.  I think I cried tears of pain the whole time.

Why would I get a face tattoo?  Well, because I no longer had any eyebrows to speak of.  I was spending a very long time drawing them on every morning.  If I happened to sweat at all during the day, or if I had my hat or scarf touch my brow line?  FORGET IT!  Then I had to draw them on again!

The procedure in full probably took 45 minutes to an hour, and it all had to be approved by my oncologist first, but for the first time in a very, very long time, my reflection in the morning doesn’t look as horrifying.  I have eyebrows again!  Well, kind of.

I seem to spend a lot of time looking in  the mirror closely for signs of hair growth.  I no longer have the fine blond hair that used to protect my face.  My nose drips CONSTANTLY for lack of hair in my nasal passage.  I haven’t had to shave my armpits for a few months….  my leg hair though has stuck around, but I’ve only shaved twice since C.

I’m feeling better and better everyday.  I seem to be gaining energy and I feel pretty great.  With that, I’ve begun to “nest” as I prepare for surgery and the holidays.  I wish I could fast-forward to reconstruction….  I’m worried about what it’ll be like to be completely without breasts.  I’ve begun to look at images of other women that have gone through the same procedure so that I can prepare myself for what I’ll see.  The scars are big and daunting.  The recovery seems overwhelming.  However, NOTHING can be worse than the path already accomplished.  Chemotherapy feels like a distant memory.

Tomorrow is another beginning.  The beginning of a week that I DON’T HAVE CANCER.  The beginning of a new journey.  This journey I am a new person.  One with brighter eyes and a larger heart.

Tomorrow will be great!  I can feel it.

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Giving All the Thanks

There is a whole lot for me to be thankful for this year.

I went for a walk with my sister-in-law today. We walked through my nearby childhood neighborhoods and chatted a lot about who used to live where and what they are doing now. It was normal. It was perfect. It was everything I’ve wanted.

We (I) didn’t talk too much about C. We didn’t have to. It came up a little and she graciously listened to me, but we were able to walk without the Elephant dominating my thoughts.

Today was the first time I’ve seen Grandma and my fabulous aunt since diagnosis. We shed some tears and hugged a lot. My mom took a moment before the meal for blessings and spoke of the great things my brother and his wife are doing to the farm, and also to speak of my recent results. I’ve never felt so LOVED in my life.

Today I am so thankful. I’m thankful for the people I have supporting me. My friends who sent something special in the mail at the absolute perfect time, my neighbors who continue to show unwavering love and help, my kids who have witnessed one of the most awful things possible, my parents who have been with me every single step of the way, my family near and far who love me and cheer me on, my work family, my community, my church and my husband.

I’ve never been more thankful in my whole life.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. You have touched my life in ways I can never thank you enough for.

Results Are In

Well, they were in as of 4:00 on Friday, but I didn’t have access to them until today.  It’s been 4 very long, very difficult days of wonder.  Four sleepless nights.  Four days where I checked my online medical chart to see if someone made a mistake and maybe accidentally posted my results.  Four of the longest days of my life.

Brad met me at Coborn Cancer Center.  He was there before I actually was (which NEVER happens).  Our appointment was running late (oh. my. GOSH.  TELL ME MY RESULTS ALREADY!!!).

My oncologist came in with my treatment coordinator.  I never know if that’s good news or bad news.  He took a minute to update himself on my case (UGGGHHHH… RESULTS!  PLEASE?!).  I really couldn’t hear him talking as he wasn’t yet to the point where I was at, which was GETTING MY RESULTS!

We got the best news possible.  No lymph dissection needed.  I have “no metabolic activity” in my right breast or my lymph nodes.

Mastectomy is still scheduled for December 15.  Right radical, left simple mastectomy.  Pathology might still come back with cancer in my lymph nodes after surgery, but I’m also having radiation for 5-6 weeks, so that should take care of any remnants of breast cancer in my lymph nodes.

In the beginning of all of this, we were told I had a chest semi-full of cancer.  Some of it was near my chest wall, dangerously close to my lungs.  We weren’t sure at all how this would end up.  We still don’t, but what I know today is that I am a fighter.  I am surviving.  I am winning.  I have SO many warriors on my side.  I have an entire 2nd grade classroom cheering me on.

In this moment, I have everything.  Except cancer.

Vows

Tuesday is the big day.  The day I find out what happens next.  If my surgery will be more radical than currently planned, or if I’ll need additional treatments.  It’ll be the day where I realize my fate as it’ll become, and where we go from here.  Is this actually curable?  Will I meet my maker soon?

These last few months, I have become a different person.  I find myself paying more attention to the things that matter and trying to pay less attention to the things that don’t.  It makes me wish I  lived closer to family.

For the first time in months, I don’t have to plan for chemo on Tuesday.  I don’t have to ask for a ride, I don’t have to plan for work and I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to feel next weekend.  We haven’t made plans for a long time.  If we have, they are always tentative.

There is a very real situation that is being the caretaker of a loved one.  Brad has been forced to take on the role of Mom, Dad, Nurse and all things that they entail.  His job has been compounded with watching his wife lose herself and planning for my potential long term, well, whatever.  I am so grateful for this man.  He has weathered this storm with unwavering love.  He has watched my hair fall out and listened to me cry for days.  He has been there in good and bad, sickness and in health.  He is my person.

Facts

I can’t believe that the worst if this is all over. Every morning, I wake up to a better day than the previous.

Tomorrow? Another appointment. The next day? PET appointment. Next week? A couple more.

Tonight I have peace of mind knowing that chemotherapy is over. My hair will grow back. Miraculously, my breasts (kinda) will too.

Life is still so very good.

I will make every single day count.

My loves ❤️

This is what makes me happy. All of my babies under one roof.

Kayla hitched a ride for the weekend to surprise her sister for her birthday (actually because she knew her mom was NEEDING to see her).

Ailee had an incredibly successful party with fifteen (OMG. FIFTEEN!) attendants. All of her friends were so generous and kind with manners aplenty. I felt the love from all the moms (and Ellie). It was awesome (so thankful for Manda!).

When you have (had?!) cancer and you live in Foley, the moms gather around and give FIERCE love. My heart is full and my body feels good.

Cheers! May this weeks appointments be successful!

The last time

This is the day that I learn to rely on the people around me for help.  

I cannot wait for this day to be over.  There really aren’t words to explain the pain and fatigue that I feel.  It’s like my insides are melting or burning or something.  Whatever it is, I’m hoping it doesn’t linger into tomorrow.  This hurts. 

All I am banking on is that this is it.  This is the last time I’ll feel this way.  

Today is the day that I’ll have as a memory. I’ll remember sitting in my bed, crying to myself and feeling hopeful for what is to come.  

Saturday is Ailee’s birthday.  Sunday is her party.  I am so thankful that I’m here to celebrate and that she will be surrounded by more family and other littles.  

Tomorrow is a brand new day.

Suddenly, I’m Alllll Done!

Tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day that I’m done with chemotherapy.  Hopefully forever!  

I never thought I’d be here.  In this spot.  I didn’t plan for this.  I planned for success.  In my education, in my career and in my parenting.  Now?  I plan for the feeling to return to my feet and toes.  For my HAIR to grow back.  For the 5-10 that I gained during treatment for cancer to fall off easily so I don’t have to buy new clothes. To be able to sleep again.  For the hot flashes to go away.  For reconstruction to come quickly.  For my PET scan to show great results.  For Christmas to be as wonderful as it has been.  For radiation to be easy.  For continued strength…

I’ve managed to work full time with minimal interruption through all of my treatments so far.  Due mainly to the support of my co-workers near and far who have been patient and kind with abundant hugs, prayers and love.  There are days I’ve wanted badly to be in my bed alone, but really, what good would that do?  

I read other breast cancer stories that have been much more difficult than mine.  I can’t imagine how this journey could have been had I had any other complications.  So far, I don’t have much at all to complain about.  

Lefse with Ailee
Continuing family tradition

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Sweater Weather

I wish I could hibernate through these next 6 months.  I’m not ready for snowy roads and blustery weather.  The anxiety that I have during every second driving (or riding) during these months is enough to drive me bananas. The upside?  Big, bulky sweaters!  Fuzzy knitted hats!  More layers to hide the side effects of chemo.  I’ll take it!

Tonight, after snuggling and reading to A, I started to sing to her.  Some of the classics.  Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baby Mine, Somewhere Over the Rainbow…. but the one that gets me Every. Single. Time?  You Are My Sunshine.  Half-way through the song I look over and A is wiping her eyes.  Then I’m wiping my eyes.  Then we are both full-on crying.  After a bit, she starts to say things like:  “No matter what you look like Mom, I love you.”  And “I’ll always remember this Mom.”  And “When I’m a mom I hope I don’t have cancer.”  She is so kind and loving.  I tell her all these things and squeeze her extra tight, knowing that tonight was one of those regular nights that is a memory for me.  I sure hope it will be for her.

It’s times like these where I feel as though I am in limbo for what the future brings.  I have so many questions with no answers.  What will I do if I find out my time is limited?  What if I only have a few years left?  What if the end is even sooner than that?  Have I taught my daughters enough to be good parents if they choose to?  Have I been a good example for my son in what he sees in our marriage?  How many more times will I see that friend?  Can I count it on one hand?  Two?  Did I instill the love of music into the littles like I have with my Kayla-Belle?  Will my doctors be forthcoming and TELL ME my time is limited?  Do they do that?  DO I HAVE TO ASK?  I’m afraid to, but I want to.

Tuesday is the final chemotherapy session in my treatment plan.  I have a PET scan approximately a week after chemo is over to find out if I’ll have to have a lymph node dissection when I have my mastectomy. Until then, I’m going to celebrate getting through this first phase.  To think that just over three months ago, I had no idea that this shit was living in my body multiplying without a care.  In three months my life has completely changed.  Forever.

Here’s hoping Tuesday’s cocktail kills all the remaining multiplying cells.