Thankful

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Thankful – that is my thought every day when I wake up now after 2 months since my surgery and 3  1/2 months since my diagnosis. Stupid cancer gives you a new perspective on life. You find out what is really important in life. The little things that bothered you before don’t matter so much anymore.  You find out who is really important to you and who was there for you when you needed them the most. Yes, I truly am thankful.

I still get bad days that involve crying as I’m still not through the painful reconstruction process. Sometimes I wish that I would have just stayed flat because breast reconstruction is painful – it’s not a “boob job” or breast augmentation at all. Sometimes I cry just because of everything I have been through or may have  to go through or the uneasiness of “being on edge” for the rest of my life. But then I think of how blessed I am to have made it and have a second chance at life.

As I said before I will tell anyone who will listen to me about my story in the hope that it may help someone else. Remember I was the 1 in 8 women without any risk factors who developed breast cancer.

I’m not overweight and never have been.

I exercise (not excessively – but I am very active)

I eat healthy for the most part (especially over the past 10 years  – since I found out high cholesterol runs on my side of the family)

I had my first child of 4 at the age of 28 (before 30 years old)

I breastfed ALL 4 kids for 1-2 years each. Go figure and I got lobular carcinoma ( starting in the milk ducts)

My oncologist told me I shouldn’t have gotten it, but I did.  He told me I got it because I was an American and a woman.

It is very important to keep a positive attitude throughout it all, but make no mistake — cancer is a fatal disease. The earlier many cancers are detected the better the prognosis and survival rate is. Again I’m thankful, especially to a woman that I never met and recently just learned of her story – Cindy Spinello.

There is  a facebook page called Caring for Cindy Spinello where it tells of her story. It was her and her husbands fight for the dense breast legislation law that was passed in November of 2013 that saved my life and many others. It was because of this law that I found out I had dense breasts and was sent for additional testing along with my mammogram. It was the ultrasound that picked up my stage 2 cancer that was hidden in the mammogram because of dense breast tissue.

Cindy fought hard, but didn’t make it – she passed away on April 8 and will be buried this Wednesday.  What a selfless soul to think of others with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis.

Yes, you find out what is important in your life.

Memories fade and scars heal but every day is a gift – don’t waste it!

A week full of appointments ahead

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Today is 1 month post op from my mastectomy. I certainly have felt better in the last week than before, but still have a way to go. I never thought that it would be so hard or take so long to feel somewhat normal. I can drive, but not for long distances or extensively.  I still use my opposite side of the surgery ( my right to close the car door). I can do light housework like washing dishes, putting dishes away in the dish washer, fold clothes and put smaller loads of clothes in the washer and dryer, but no vacuuming, heavy lifting etc. It’s really rather frustrating. I can do hand sewing and binding, but can’t handle loading quilts and use my long arm machine yet (in other words my source of income has become zero). Since I am self-employed I don’t have worker’s compensation or can’t use vacation or sick days to compensate for my lack of income – it just stops. That is also scary as we still have 2 in college and another in her Senior year of high school ( in other words  very expensive), plus a Freshman in high school.  We’ll get through it somehow.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon and the first of my “expansions”. For anyone not familiar with breast reconstruction – it’s painful. I still have to take Advil throughout the day and at night ( at least I’m off the Percocet). This is NOT,  I repeat NOT like breast augmentation where you aren’t happy with your breast size whether too big or small).  When you get that done it’s still major surgery, but you still have your breast. With breast reconstruction after a mastectomy you get a “foob” a fake boob. Your breast tissue with the vile invader is gone and in its place you are left with the skin and in my case my nipple and underneath is a tissue expander. It looks like a flat pancake with a port that they inject saline at the time of the surgery and then over a period of months you get expansions or more saline injected by the way of a built in port to expand it. So I get to pick how “big” I want to be. Needless to say I’m already bigger than my smaller other side, so that side will get “fixed” with an implant when I get my other surgery to get the permanent implants inserted,  probably in the late summer/ early fall.  So I get to go through the summer being lopsided – wonderful. But at least I’m alive and that is the key point.

My appointment on Wednesday is with my oncologist whom I finally get to meet and go over my Oncotype DX test results with. Here I find out what the future months hold and if chemo is part of that. I’m mentally gearing up for the real possibility of that just from what my nurse navigator told me from the surgical pathology report.  I’m not looking forward to that and all that it entails, plus all the side effects. However, if it cures my cancer and helps it so that it won’t recur , then I’ll suck it up and do it.

My doctor’s words the first day still are with me:

“I’m sorry you have to go through this.”

As I said before, unless you know someone really close to you that has gone through any type of cancer or you have to go through it yourself – you just don’t get it. I have had good days, plus bad days. I just want this to be over so that I can get back to normal. But now, now matter what,  I will have a new normal  ( whatever that is).

For today, I’m just taking it easy ( again), but feel guilty. If I try to do more than I should, I pay for it, but if I don’t do antyhing,  I feel like I should be doing something. I can’t win right now.  I still have one more Harry Potter movie to watch and then I will have to find something else. Last Friday afternoon, I literally sat in the recliner all afternoon and watched Netflix. It was beautiful out, but I hurt too much to even go for a walk that day , even with Advil in me).  I guess I deserve an afternoon like that occasionally.

People have been so nice and caring. I’m still getting cards, well wishes and thoughtful gifts from many. They are all so much appreciated, especially now that I’m still feeling a bit better, but still need the encouragement to get through this journey.

I’ll see what this week of appointments tell me and pray for the best but will accept whatever is ahead of me. Always count your blessings and never take anything for granted!

The surgery and first week post op

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“I made it.”  That’s the first thing I said to my husband after I was able to see him after my surgery last Monday. First thing I thought to myself when I woke up in recovery was “Thank you God for getting me through the surgery.” You learn to be very thankful for a lot of things when cancer comes into your life.

I have nothing but good things to say about the nurses, aides, doctors and staff at Lewisburg Evangelical Hospital. They went above and beyond in my care before, during and after the surgery. I’m so glad that I chose to go there.

I needed to be at the hospital for 6:30 AM on Monday, February 15th. It was in the same area where one day surgeries are performed, even though I was being kept overnight. It was quite the busy place. the nurse who got me ready was the same age as me. As she was going over everything, she said ,”Well you’re really healthy.”  Yep, I just have breast cancer. My blood pressure was actually on the low side (as usual). She told me if I was nervous, I was hiding it well. The IV nurse was wonderful and got it right the first time. I didn’t feel the IV the entire time I had it in. Once I was all ready, then David was allowed to come back with me in the pre-op area. The worse part was that my arm with the iv in was freezing. Thank goodness for heated blankets.

We got to see both Dr.  Turner who was doing the mastectomy and Dr. Bitterly who would then take over and do the reconstruction part before the surgery. David and I were wondering what the marker in the sterile package on the tray was for. We found out as they have to mark your breast to see where the natural lines fell and to make sure they were doing the correct side and procedure. After meeting with the anesthesiologist and nurse anestetist,  I was given sedation medication. I remember them putting the cap on my head and starting to wheel me out and that’s it. The next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery about 1:20 in the afternoon. So my surgery lasted 4 1/2 – 5 hours. That was a long time for David to wait. I’m glad he got to eat, read some magazines and get some sleep.

Once I was taken to my room, then I finally got to see David. It was the best thing to see him because I knew I would be OK then. After dozing off again ( pain meds through the IV especially Dilaudid are the bomb),  I got my first meal later that afternoon. It was the best clear liquid diet I ever had! The weather turned nasty that day with snow turning into ice later that day. But I was thrilled when my kids were able to come by later in the afternoon to see me. Nothing like family to lift  your spirits. I did kick everyone one out though including David after awhile, because I knew the roads were getting bad. Being a mom, I wouldn’t be able to fully rest until I knew everyone was safely home.

It was good that everyone left then, because it was time for me to try to go to the bathroom. A continuous IV drip will do that to you and it did every 2 hours throughout the night. I have to admit that was the most excruciating pain ever. And I had one good arm to help me up along with 2 nurses! God bless the gals who have to get double mastectomies. One side is bad enough!

I was fortunate to not have a roommate in the surgical wing  plus be on the end where it was super quiet. After watching a little TV, I went to turn it off to get some sleep before I would be woken up by needing to go to the bathroom or for vitals. I ended up leaving the TV on all night for noise as the only other noise I had was the IV pump running, the compression socks compressing and the clock ticking. It was that quiet in the hospital. The one nurse told me not to jinx it (I guess it’s not like that all the time there).

I had 2 drains which didn’t bother me at all, that needed to be emptied and measured at regular times. But the nurses there were wonderful as they combined times for the drains, vitals and other checks to coincide with my getting up to pee every 2 hours. I even slept through the antibiotic bag’s loud beep when it was empty after a wonderful dose of Dilaudid where I felt zero pain. The nurse just came in, changed my bag and left me sleep. She knew I would be awake in another hour or so to pee and did whatever else she needed to do the next time.

I do remember asking the nurse if I was going to get real food for breakfast in the morning.  I really didn’t care what it was as I was so hungry during the night.

I had to ask one of the aides before I turned off the TV for the first time to plug in my charger for my Iphone. I was on it so much with my family after they left that I wore the battery down. She laughed and understood completely. That was like my lifeline to them. I even shocked my sister and called her in the early evening to let her know I was doing OK.

Honestly, one night in the hospital was enough. By mid-day on Tuesday I was ready to come home. We ate lunch and were able to leave early in the afternoon and was home by 1:30. The local schools were all closed because of the ice early in the morning, so I was happy to see Elyse and Calista right away. However, the ride home was the worst ride ever. I felt every little bump in the road. It wasn’t David’s fault. I think it would have even have been that bad in a Lexus. I was so happy to get home.

I can honestly say the the first week home was the hardest week ever. It was  a surreal experience of sleeping, taking meds, going (and trying to go) to the bathroom, getting cleaned up, dressings changed and repeating through out the week. My oldest daughter Marissa helped with the dressings each night, Calista was my dry shampoo person, Elyse learned to wash dishes  more to her dismay. Brad was home the first night I came home but had to go back to school at Bloomsburg until the weekend. David was the everything else person and thankfully was able to stay home from work that first week with me. I thank God for my family who put up with me and helped me through the week and for the friends who sent meals everyday from Monday on for us and our family. You don’t know how much it was appreciated.

I’m going on the second week of post op and had my first return appointment. I got one of the drains removed already. It was nice to get out of the house even, if it was to go to the hospital. I’m still taking it very easy this week as I have to. I’m waiting on appointments with my doctor from Lewisburg and the oncologist from Geisinger to see what the next plan of attack in this journey is.

It’s times like this you find out who really care and matter in your life. Treasure those family and friends and don’t waste time on the others. Life is too short. I’m truly blessed.

 

 

Gearing up

 

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Everyone is gearing up for the Super Bowl, for Valentine’s Day, while I’m gearing up for the first step in this battle – my surgery. Pre-admisson  appointments are scheduled for February 8th with my surgery  February 15th. These last days before surgery will be nerve wracking. I’ve gotten caught up on my all business things (got my end of the year paperwork completed for taxes and FASFA). Thank goodness my husband is an accountant and takes care of all those things that I can’t do.  I’ve also gotten some other things accomplished around the house I’ve been putting off like decluttering.  I know people don’t want to think of it, but my will is drawn up and signed. I’ve actually been meaning to do that after my brother passed away from leukemia in December of 2014.  I just felt like I needed to have it done.  I’m more than ready for this surgery and what lies ahead.

Now it’s time for me to think of myself. I spent a lot of time thinking of others and putting everyone else first and that’s the way I do things because I care for my family and others. But now, it’s time for get selfish. I have to get through this and get better. So forgive me if I say no, if I don’t want to or can’t do something (even if it’s the smallest most trivial thing), if I don’t return that phone call, text message or email right away.

I remember the first words my doctor at Lewisburg said to me when sitting down to go over everything, “I’m sorry you have to go through this.” It doesn’t matter that it’s a highly curable cancer, that it’s in the early stages etc. I still have to go through it – the many appointments, all the lab work, tests and scans, the surgery, possibly chemo with the side effects, the recovery, the medications, the hope and praying that even when treatments are over, it’s not over ( recurrence will always have a spot in my mind), the what ifs. No, I won’t be the same person as before. Once cancer happens to you, it changes you forever.

I will surely somehow pay it forward in the future for others who have or will be going through this. But for now, I have to think of me. I may only have enough energy some days to do some stupid little thing such as take a shower. I look forward and will work hard  to the days when I’m back to how I was and even better before the stupid c word invaded my body.

Life is a gift, don’t waste it.

The Waiting Game

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3 weeks today until my surgery. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have the date and be able to do some things that I didn’t think I would be able to if I had my surgery earlier.

We had a nice end of the year field hockey banquet last night. It was Elyse’s final banquet as she is a senior and will be attending Bucknell University in the fall to study Environmental Engineering – so proud of her! I’m glad I don’t have to find rides for a while for Calista’s weekly allergy shots at Geisinger on Tuesdays. I’m also grateful that I can take her for her final appointments to finally get her braces off on February 4.

I stopped accepting quilt tops to be quilted (just not in the right frame of mind for customer’s quilts – if I’m going to screw up a quilt, I’d rather it be mine now). So I have time to declutter and organize a bit (something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time). I have tons of clothes to donate!

It also give me the time to get out of federal jury duty – yep I got called up for March jury duty. My nurse navigator at Lewisburg joked with me when she returned my call, “Really, you don’t want to sit on jury duty while battling breast cancer?” Needless to say, my doctor wrote me a medical excuse to send in.

However, this waiting game is lousy. It gives me too much time to think and rethink things. It makes me think, “Maybe everything was a mistake or it will just go away on it’s own.” NOT. I know what I’m up against. It doesn’t matter that it’s a highly curable cancer, that it’s Stage 1 or that I’ll be fine. It’s still the fact that I have to go through everything. I was told I would have good days and bad days. PMS doesn’t help any either.

The huge storm over the weekend was long overdue. Of course, we were stuck in the house for the day, except for when David and I took Elyse’s jeep down to Turkey Hill to get gas for the snowblower (since we ran out) and to Sheetz to get some food. Besides those 2 stores, Elysburg was a ghost town. Even at 12:30 on a Saturday, which normally would be busy, the main roads were still snow covered and hardly passable. But it gave me time to get outside besides helping to clean off the cars. It was a good day to be lazy and lay around. However, laying around gives you too much time to think.

Fortunately, Sunday and today Monday is sunny which does wonders for the spirits. However, working home alone also gives me too much time to think again. I’m thankful for friends that I met with and talked too over the past few days. You don’t know how much a simple visit, phone call or text message means right now.

They say once you get cancer, it changes the way you live. I know it has already, just not exactly sure how. My family has always been first for me, that hasn’t changed. I know for sure once this is done, I will pay it forward somehow to others who have or will be going through this – just don’t know how yet.

I know one thing is for sure, little things don’t matter that much anymore, except for the little things with family and friends that care and matter.

Life is a gift – don’t waste it!

 

 

The Surgery Date

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February 15 – the day I am to have my surgery for my mastectomy and reconstruction. I found out on Monday after my appointment with the plastic surgeon. Michelle and Billie Jo who work together at the Breast Center in Lewisburg are incredible. They take care of arranging all the appointments for me, plus they are available anytime that I have a question.

The plastic surgeon we met with was very nice, very knowledgeable and very thorough. He went through all the different types of reconstruction with advantages/disadvantages of each one. The surgeon took into consideration what I wanted and we made a plan.

So now I have 4 weeks. I have time to catch up on some quilts that I’ve been meaning to do at the beginning of the year, I can finish up all my business paperwork for tax and college financial aid purposes, maybe even some time to do a few other quilt things that I’ve been meaning to do for myself. I can go and enjoy the field hockey banquet this Sunday for Elyse and Calista.  I can take Calista to finally get her braces off after almost 5 years at the beginning of February.  However, I stopped accepting quilt tops to be quilted until further notice. I don’t know how long after my surgery I’ll be out of commision with quilting. My machine doesn’t  run by itself and I need the use of both arms fully to do what I do. It will work out.

I’m happy to have the surgery date set as I want to get these stupid cancer cells out of my body ( thankfully the type of cancer I have is slow growing – remember my doctor said it was probably lurking in my body for 8-9 years before being detected). On the other side, I know I will grow more anxious as the date gets closer. Friends told me I will have good days and bad days, it’s all part of it.

I’m sharing my story  to help me and keep me sane through this. However, I want  to  help others  who may know someone else going through this or if  they ever have to go through it themselves. Remember 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. I didn’t have any risk factors.

I guess I better stock up on good movies, books and other things to keep me occupied while I recover at home. TV is lousy, especially during the day ( I never have it on while I’m home working). Again, I’ll figure it out.

These weeks will go fast, but I  have to stop at times and think about how lucky I truly am. Lucky that this was detected very early. Others are not as lucky.

 

 

 

The Plan

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I now have a plan of attack after having my MRI and meeting with my doctor. Now to face this  wicked thing called cancer head on!!

I had to be at Lewisburg Evangelical at 6:45 on Wednesday, January 13th. The roads were horrendous from the snow squalls that came through the night before. It was the first time I finally got to test our Madza SUV in the bad weather. It passed with flying colors. Of course, you should have seen my husband David and Brad at 11 o’clock the previous night trying to move David’s little sports car, the Subaru BRZ out from  behind my vehicle parked in the garage. Yea, his car isn’t good at all in the snow/ice. Leave it to the woman to suggest moving Elyses’s 4 wheel drive jeep out from the other side of the driveway and moving the BRZ to her spot instead of trying to get it all the way out of the driveway. Anyone who knows our house, knows our driveway is not at all steep, but it doesn’t take much snow/ice to make it hard to get out of sometimes. I have to keep my sense of humor now and looking back on this , I  crack up laughing. “Brad!! It’s sliding!! Woah,  don’t smash it into the wall, I’m trading the damn thing in next week!”

Well, I finally got the MRI that was scheduled for 7AM done – at 1:30 in the afternoon. They had issues with the machine and needed to call in the engineer to fix it – which he did. I joked again that day sitting in Bucknell’s Barnes & Noble bookstore trying to waste more time, that if we won the powerball jackpot that night, I would buy Lewisburg another MRI machine. The tech told us that she would keep in touch with us about the MRI problem, so she pulled the IV from my arm and we left. David & I enjoyed breakfast in the hospital’s dining room first, then we went shopping. We hit Walmart and every antique place in Lewisburg looking for a certain piece of furniture David needed for his office. We finally found what he needed in the last place. Then we went to hang out at the Starbucks at Bucknell’s bookstore after buying some t-shirts. We’re proud to represent Elyse’s future school!

I apologize to the lady whom I was curt with there. I went back  up to the counter because David’s frappuccino had absolutely no flavor. As I was patiently waiting, while the lady in front of me paid for something with all pennies, nickels and dimes and then proceeded to chit -chat about something that didn’t seem important at all with the 2 young girls working,  I lost my patience. The girl asked me if something was wrong with my drink and I asked her if there was a syrup they put into it, because it tasted like ice without any flavor. She immediately said she would remake it. But the lady in front of me said, “Sorry, I’m just having a problem here.” I’m thinking “Lady, tell me about problems today.”But I didn’t say anything, thanked the girl for remaking the drink and went to sit with David.

It wasn’t the way I wanted to spend time with my husband (who wasn’t able to go to work at all that day), but it was necessary.

I was just calling my doctor around 1:15 when I got a beep on my phone for another call. Yes, it was the tech from MRI saying  the MRI machine was fixed and I could come and that the doctor’s office would accommodate my later then regularly scheduled 1:30 appointment. So finally, around 1:30 and another round of IV pokes I got the MRI.

It wasn’t quite as bad as I thought, very loud and noisy ( even with the country music I asked them to play). But as they were pulling me out of the tube, the one girl said to me, “It’s not the most comfortable thing to go through, you can tell a man designed it.” For anyone not aware of a breast MRI, you have to lay face down on a padded surface that your breasts can hang down. Yep, definitely a man’s design. Thankfully, it wasn’t too long – about 20 minutes.

David and I headed right over to the breast center for my appointment with Dr. Turner. He checked my biopsy site for infection and all was well there.  Then we sat in the conference room along with Michelle from the Breast Center. The first thing my doctor said to me was , “I’m sorry you have to go through this.” Then he proceeded and went over EVERYTHING. He went over the entire pathology report and explained everything, plus all the options, treatments etc. Again,  there was so much information to absorb. It made me feel for anyone who don’t have close people to help them and support them through this.

I have  Stage 1 invasive lobular carcinoma – the second most common type of breast cancer. Invasive means the cancer has invaded or spread to surrounding breast tissues. Lobular means it started in the milk-producing lobules which empty out into the ducts that carry the milk to the nipple. Carcinoma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues that cover internal organs.

Without getting into all the other medical lingo, I do have a lot of positives going for me. I think the biggest relief is the 98% survival rate for my type of cancer, with treatment. I also asked the doctor if this happened since my last mammogram/ultrasound in December 2014 ( both of which were normal). He told me no, it was probably lurking for 8-9 years before the tumor(s) could be seen and/or felt. Remember I didn’t feel anything! It’s a scary thought when you think about it.

So, now there is a plan.

I will have to have a mastectomy for the left breast. The right one is fine – If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Unfortunately , a lumpectomy is not in my best interest. I have 2 tumors spaced too far apart and one being too close to the nipple, that they would have to remove too much breast tissue to keep the normal appearance. So, a mastectomy it is, with reconstruction at the same time (which I’m a candidate for). It’s a heck of a way to get a boob job.

Sorry, I’m trying to keep my sense of humor through this. I know that this is a terrible disease and there are many who are just struggling to survive and don’t care how they look. When it comes down to it, I will do anything to get the cancer out of my body. I want to survive. I don’t care if it’s through surgery, radiation, chemo,  treatment drugs  or whatever. I have too much to live for. I want to see my kids graduate not only from high school, but college, get jobs, get married, have their own kids. I want to enjoy time with David and be able to do some traveling. I want to spend time with my doggies, my family and friends.

It is truly amazing the people that have been in touch with me already through text messages, Facebook (yes, it can be a good thing!), emails, phone calls etc. There are people that I knew, ones that I really didn’t know well and then ones from nowhere to support not only me, but my family. I know this is tough for them also.

Now that I’m over the shock of the diagnosis and have the plan, I can face this head on and win!! I know I will have good days and bad ones, but one thing is for sure – I am lucky and blessed beyond anything that I could have imagined!

 

 

 

 

Making time for cancer

 

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Time – there is never enough of time. We have to find time to work, to cook, to clean our house, to exercise, to chauffeur children around, to make things for that bake sale.

Now I have to find time to battle cancer.

I was called  yesterday for the time for my MRI (6:30 AM tomorrow morning) and the doctor’s appointment at 1:30. The girl apologized and said she hoped the times would work for me. I told her that I would make it work. I couldn’t say ,”No, this week or month is too busy, can we schedule it for another time? ”

I watched my oldest brother battle a rare, aggressive form of leukemia in 2014 that ultimately led to his death at the end of 2014. If left me with the daunting task of settling his very complicated estate for months at the beginning of last year. He was retired, but spent the time traveling 8 hours away to one of the best cancer centers in Ohio. His life and death really put time into perspective and how short life is.

This past summer I was blessed to be able to travel to Europe with Elyse and a wonderful bunch of other people from the area for 2 1/2 weeks. We toured the Medditterean coast and 4 countries (Italy, France, Spain and Portugal). Although I missed the rest of my family terribly, it was a great experience and quite a eye opener.

Europeans concept of time is much different than ours. Whereas , Americans gobble our meals down while on our cell phones, they actually enjoy their meals and the company with them. In Spain, many businesses shut down in the mid- late afternoon for siesta to reopen later in the evening. They close up and go home! Of course they drive like maniacs and smoke like fiends, but there are some things we can learn from the European culture.

I spend my time working from home  which has both it’s advantages and disadvantages. When I tell people what I do,  I usually have to elaborate on it. I take people’s unfinished quilt tops that they bring me along with the backing fabric and quilt it into a quilt for them.  I load it onto my quilt frame and using my long arm machine ( which is basically a large sewing machine), I quilt the layers together with a hand guided design to make it into the actual quilt. Occasionally,  I finish the entire quilt with the binding ( the outer edge), but most people do it themselves.

I do not make quilts ( except for the occasional t-shirt quilt) because most people would not pay me the price to make one. Also,  if I’m going to make any quilts, they would be for myself or my family. I do not sew clothes of any kind, do alterations etc. I have a seamstress friend who lives in Elysburg that I refer people to for that.

Now I have to find the time to fight this cancer while also still working some. For one, it helps with the bills ( I have  multiple children in college ) and while I’m blessed to have a husband with a good job, one income right now isn’t enough. When I don’t quilt, I don’t make money. But I know it will work out.

I think as today wears on, so will my anxiety about tomorrow. It’s rough not knowing exactly what is ahead, bu then I want to know so that we can get going on whatever treatment lies ahead.

Never again do I want to hear “I don’t have the time.” When something like this happens, you prioritize what is really important – health, family, friends, love.

 

 

 

The weekend after diagnosis before MRI

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I’m still recovering from the biopsy done this past Tuesday and the diagnosis this past Friday. It’s been a rough weekend.  At least I’m not sore anymore, just very bruised with lovely shades of yellow  & green appearing.

It looks like my breast has been through war, but it hasn’t even started yet.

Mentally, I’m OK , for now.  I’ve been very blessed with having SO many people ( both ones that I know ,  ones that I  haven’t connected with in a while and ones that I don’t know) offering me well wishes, prayers and thoughts. I’ve been given phone numbers to call or text anytime, plus meeting to “talk”.

Something like this really shows you the people in your life who matter and care about not only you, but your family.

A friend of mine gave me some advice and said don’t stop living and enjoy your family.  So this past weekend I did,  from going prom dress shopping for my senior  daughter to just enjoying dinners  and Star Wars movies at home with my family.

Tomorrow or Tuesday I will go for my MRI.  It will tell if the cancer spread to my lymph nodes, plus other things that are needed to plan my treatment.  I feel things will be moving fairly quickly . I’m ready.  At least I get to cancel my appointments for my scheduled colonoscopy  and ovarian cysts for now! I think this  a bit more of a priority right now – I’ll reschedule them for another time.

I think I’m just more in shock  than anything, because except for being female and having dense breasts, I didn’t have any risk factors. I’m not over weight, don’t smoke, exercise ( not as much as I like, but I do), started with periods at age 14, breastfeed 4 kids from 1-2 years, had my first child at age 28, no known family history etc. etc.

When they say it can happen to anyone,  it sure is true!

I still remember looking at my ultrasound with the doctor who performed the biopsy before the procedure and was in shock at the masses ( one was fairly large and the other smaller). I kept saying ” I never felt anything, even after they told me”  I dread to think of what would have happened without the ultrasound to find this.  As I said my mammogram done the same day was NORMAL.

I know I’ll have good days and bad ones. The MRI won’t be a good day – hope they play country music for me!

I’m just so grateful that this was caught early. I know with  the support from my family and friends, I’ll beat this!

 

The day my life changed

 

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I’m not a writer, never have been. But I’ll feel better and hopefully help someone along the way by writing about my experiences dealing with something I never thought I would have to.

After Christmas 2015, I went for my yearly mammogram and ultrasound ( I started getting ultrasounds along with my mammogram in 2014 after I was told I have dense breasts.) Mammograms can miss cancers. They were right!

I got the first call  from the Breast Center on December 30th while shopping with my youngest daughter for her 15th birthday. I was told I would have to get a repeat ultrasound for some areas of concern on my left side.

That was scheduled for Monday, January 4th. The report was immediately read by a doctor and I was told I needed to get a biopsy done. I scheduled that for the next day January 5th.

After the week of resting, recovering, waiting, crying and trying to be reassured that everything would be ok,  I got the call on Friday. I elected to get a phone call rather than wait until my 1 week follow-up appointment on the 12th.

Friday, January 8th  at 4:30 in the afternoon I got the call from the Thrya M. Humprey’s Center for Breast Health.

” Is this Roseann? This is Billie Joe from the Breast Center.”

There was a little bit of chit-chat and then she paused.

“It’s cancer.”

I immediately began to break down and called for my husband, David. Billie Joe then spend close to a half hour on the speaker phone with us explaining everything. There was so much information that I couldn’t absorb it all. But I do remember key things:

It’s early Stage 1 cancer with a lot of positives going for me ( if you can call this positive).

It’s  a very treatable cancer  with a high success/survival rate.

That’s good because I have lots to live for.

I will know more after my MRI early next week (which I’m dreading because I’m claustrophobic) and my appointment with my doctor and medical oncologist. However, for certain surgery (whether it’s a lumpectomy or mastectomy) is certain, along with followup treatments and medications in the immediate future.

“We’re here to help you and get you through this.”

I know that they will.

I’m thankful to the PA who started sending me for ultrasounds in 2014. Without them, this probably would have grown to the point that it would have been difficult to treat without a good outcome.

I’m thankful to God for allowing this to be caught early.

I’m thankful for my family who are my world and the friends that have already reached out to me.