Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Cheer

Just a few words before the holidays and frenzy get here. Most people get caught up on the drama in their lives and don't focus on the true meaning of "Thanksgiving" and "Christmas". So, here is my little reminder of the real meaning and my experience and outlook on things.

Thanksgiving... to give thanks for the things and people in our lives. This year, I am so thankful for health and for good friends and family. I have an awesome husband who has been cooking and cleaning for us as much as he can, and I have awesome friends who have picked up the slack where needed. I have good friends who drive my children home from school, to dance class, and to church. I have friends who get me out of the house for a girls night here and there. My husband has friends who take him on trips to see his favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, play and who lend an ear or a helping hand to him when in need. These are all things we are thankful for, this year, this season, and at this point in our lives. What would I do without all these great people in my life? Where would I be if I hadn't given my boobies a quick rub that night they were tender? I am JUST NOW scheduled to go see my OB Dr, where they check for lumps and where they checked last December and found nothing.  That's how fast this thing grew... in 6 months. Where would I be in this journey if I hadn't caught it? It scares me to think about it, so I give thanks to GOD for how the events played out, even if I'm still in shock. I give thanks to GOD for bringing all these people, and new friends, in my life to share and embark on this journey WITH my side.

Christmas....Celebrating Jesus' birth. You can't spell Christmas without CHRIST. (and now I'm singing this Christian rap song, with that title, that we used to listen to growing up) As the holidays approach, I remember my favorite Christmas ever. I was 8 and my Dad had just lost his job about 2 weeks before Christmas. He was an IT data processor. Back then, computers were just now on the rise, so his job was not as in demand as it is now. We had nothing, and things were BAD. 7 kids, no money for Christmas, and no food except the staple items. I remember my parents sitting us down on Christmas eve and telling us that there was no money for presents, and no food for the Christmas dinner. We probably would have been just fine with beans and rice....again, but that gets old. We went to bed with the sadness of no Christmas presents, but also with the joy of having each other, and spending "quality family time" together. I'm sure my parents would have found a way to make something special...... but they didn't have to. When we woke up the next morning, on Christmas Day, our front porch and walk way were FILLED with presents, food, etc. Someone in the middle of the night had come and blessed us anonymously and filled a need. We were STUNNED, excited beyond belief and overjoyed! There were presents for each kid (all 7 of us!!) and turkeys, side dish items, and about 3 garbage bags full of toys, games, and clothes for all of us kids. We have no idea who left all of that on our porch. We assume it was someone from the church we used to attend, but we have no idea who.... even to this day. It taught us kids, even at that young age, that God will provide for us in times of need if we turn to him. My parents were religious tithers and always gave the first portion of their income to the church, no matter what. God took care of us, and showed us the TRUE meaning of Christmas, which my parents taught us all along, but that was reinforced that memorable day. Bless others, and you too will be blessed.

A lot of people have this concept backwards, and with the release of "pay it forward" and that whole concept, some people think "I have to get something out of this" or "I'll bless AFTER I have received my blessings"...paying it forward. It's a GREAT thing to do, and in fact, we in the Lynch household are always paying it forward, but, don't forget that you have to GIVE the blessings first in order to GET them; and pass them on and pay it forward. This is a lesson that we learn as children, but often forget as we become adults. I know my parents always used to DRILL in our heads "treat others how you want to be treated" and recite the scripture passage that went with it; Matthew 7:12 which says "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

My friend, Eva, who was arranging my calendar and trying to help me get rid of my "it's-easier-to-do-it-myself-rather-than-ask-for-help" attitude....told me "Tiffany, people out there want to bless you and if you don't let them, you are basically robbing them of their blessings they will receive" and this rang true with me. That's when I dropped my "super woman" attitude and graciously accepted whatever help was offered. I had totally forgotten about Matthew 7:12. It was my turn to receive the blessings that I had been handing out for years, but it was also someone elses turn to give the blessings in order to receive theirs. It's a big circle.....just like everything else in life.

So, this holiday season, I encourage you to make a conscious effort to bless someone else, and take it one step further....DO IT ANONYMOUSLY. Do we really need to pat ourselves on the back or let others know what we did for someone else? If so, then our priorities and reasons for blessings are still backwards because it's not others who will be rewarding those blessings you's GOD who will be rewarding us with blessings of our own, and He knows what you have done. We need to do it, just because we want to, because we are led to do so, and because I believe that's how He would want us to show His love and celebrate His birthday!

Give with no expectations. Receive with a happy heart.

It doesn't matter what you say about a person after they are gone....what matters is how you treat them while they are here. Always make sure your actions reflect your heart and you'll have no regrets.

Enjoy your holidays and drop your expectations of others, and instead keep an open mind, and have a forgiving heart.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Meeting with plastic surgeon

So, yesterday I had my meeting with a plastic surgeon. This one was outside of MD Anderson as I wanted to get a second opinion. I was basically told the same thing.....which fucking sucks! Sorry for the foul language, but I'm allowed.

Here is why it sucks. Before cancer, Chris and I had talked about me getting a breast lift and small implants to hold my lift in place. After three kids and weight loss about 5 times over a 10 yr period, my boobs were not pretty once I took off my bra.  I wanted to be able to wear a halter top, or something backless without having to wear a bra. I was gonna have a nice looking rack. I'm sure you all know someone who has had breast reconstructive surgery and they have a nice pair of tits, right? I know quite a few women with pretty, perky, beautiful boobies. A few of my best friends have beautiful ones....I've seen them. Well, now that stupid cancer has come, I am not going to have those same results.

I already had my bubble burst when they told me I could not have the skin sparing mastectomy, that I needed a total mastectomy on the right side. So, I accepted it and found the joy anyways. At least I'd be cancer free. So, the more people I talked to about the TRAM flap or the DIEP flap, which is the procedure that I would have to have done....the more they all recommended it. You get a tummy tuck with the procedure, which sounds even better....right? Well, I've seen numerous pictures, in Dr's offices and online and none of them are pretty without implants. Every breast reconstruction surgery photo that I saw that said "skin sparing with implants" was a beautiful rack. The ones that said "total mastectomy" or "tram flap" or "diep flap" are all ugly saggy boobs. So, it's really hard to find joy in this shit through tear filled eyes trying to find something...anything..... to hang on to.... to say "it's gonna be Ok, Tiffany...You'll have cancer free boobs.....even if they are ugly"

And to think, I was going to pay $8-$10 grand for my beautiful boobs before cancer. Now, I'll be paying about $17-$20 grand for ugly saggy boobs. It's just not fair. It sucks.

If you're curious about this procedure, google "TRAM flap".... or "DIEP flap" and look at the ugly pictures in front of you. Don't say I didn't warn you....

Way to steal my joy.....fucking Cancer!

Friday, November 12, 2010

FAC chemo #2 (halfway through this round)

Yesterday, I had a visit with my oncologist and FAC chemo #2. All in all, things went well. They switched my anti-nausea meds to Emend because my insurance company is silly about paying for Zofran. They only give me 21 pills for 25 days, and my chemo is 21 days apart, so they wouldn't fill it. So, he sent in for emend, which is WAY more expensive. HAHAHA. I love the way he works. We had a good laugh about that.

I asked about my hair falling out. He had mentioned that it would start falling out (what was left after Taxol) on day 10 and be completely out by day 17. Well, yesterday (day 22) I still have all my peach fuzz left. He was stumped. He doesn't see that often apparently. I even shaved it with a razor on October 29 for a costume party where Chris and I went as Mr. and Mrs. Clean and it grew back. I wear a wig too much, and I wanted to feel free and there aren't a whole lot of costumes for bald women. He thinks I have super follicle hair cells that might not be reacting to the chemo like normal people. So, I may not lose my hair completely. Time will tell. The tumor is still shrinking, I haven't had another scan yet, but I can physically feel it shrinking.

When he asked about my fatigue, I mentioned that I sleep about 9-10 hours at night, which is about double my normal amount, and I also take 2-3 hr naps most days when the kids let me. He said there is a fatigue clinic at MDA and is setting me up an appointment to see them. They can give me ADHD drugs like Adderol and/or Ritalen (sp). They can give me a little boost and make me feel not so tired.

They are also setting up my appointment with the plastics department so that I can meet with them before my Mastectomy and everyone will be on the same page before surgery. I've talked to a few people who have had my type of surgery, or close to it, and they have set my mind at ease a little bit. I've learned that the more stomach fat you have, the more likely they will only pull from there, which means I get my tummy tuck AND new perky boobs out of this. So, I'm busy plumping up in the meantime.  :-)  I'll use that as my excuse. hehehe

 You can really see my face plumping up in these pictures. It's normal with chemotherapy, but I've just noticed it recently as my glasses are getting tighter. I had to go get them adjusted today.

They have puzzles everywhere at MDA, but only on the tables in the waiting rooms, and I got tired of never completing a puzzle, so I took along my iPad (thank you Shawn!) and downloaded an app where you can put together a puzzle. So, I took a picture of me working on a puzzle during chemo.

As for side effects, I'm feeling OK. Nausea is under control, I'm just exhausted. I feel like it takes every ounce of energy to get out of bed in the morning to take the kids to school. I'm ready to go back to bed as soon as I drop them off. Unfortunately, I have a VERY active 2 yr old to deal with. He likes to climb all over me as though I'm a human jungle gym. So, unless someone takes him for the day, or for a few hours, I don't get in much of a nap.
Cleaning doesn't get done much, though I do try to get some stuff done here and there as I get bouts of energy. I eat sandwiches and soup, things that are easy to make and don't require a lot of time or energy. I'm thankful that I only have 2 more treatments left of chemo, and then I'm done with this part, which I think is the worst part. I'm also thankful for the cleaning fairies and the meal fairies and anyone who has taken Grayson for a while so I can rest. Without those people, my journey would be WAY more hectic and stressful. I am also very lucky to have such an AWESOME husband who picks up the slack on my chores, and takes over the kids at 5pm and sends me to my room to rest. Without all these people, I truly would be a mess! Thank you to EVERYONE who has helped out giving rides, cooking, cleaning, and childcare. You guys all ROCK!! I love my Team Tiffany!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Take off your bra

How many of you have been told by your mother that you need to wear a bra as much as possible to keep your breasts from sagging?

A study has revealed that a causative factor for breast cancer that can increase your risk of getting the disease by 100 times: Wearing a bra for more than 12 hours a day. Sydney Ross Singer (an applied medical anthropologist) and his wife, Soma Grismaijer (a scientific assistant) interviewed more than 2000 women with breast cancer and 2000 women without breast cancer and concluded the following information:

1. A woman who wears a bra 24 hours a day is 113 times MORE likely to get breast cancer than a woman who wears a bra less than 12 hours a day. (that statistical link is stronger than the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer)

2. A woman who NEVER wears a bra is 21 times less likely to get breast cancer than a woman in general population.

"Needless to say, the medical establishment hasn't embraced this theory because it goes away from the current chemical and genetic model, ignoring the simple mechanical fact of what clothing constriction can do to the body." Singer says.

"Bras and other tight clothing can impede the flow of the lymph fluid out of the breast, thus, wearing a bra might contribute to the development of breast cancer as a result of cutting off lymphatic drainage so that toxic chemicals are trapped in the breast."

Singer also says to "avoid bras with underwires and other stiff, breast shaping components, as well as push up bras. The bra should not leave marks or dents on your skin. If it does, it's too tight."

"Women need to realize that wearing a bra is a cultural phenomenon...not a natural one."

So, my do you keep your breasts from sagging without wearing bra? Implants! Yep, implants can move your breast tissue closer to the surface and make lumps more recognizable with self exams. I'm not saying you have to go bigger....just keep them your size if you are happy with them. Bigger implants are harder for mammograms to pick up lumps, and might be a bit more painful being squished, but normal size is totally fine. (My surgeon actually gave me this piece of information)

In conclusion, implants and not wearing a bra can save your life!!! It's scientifically proven, so tell your husband that you need to save your life and get them.

( * ) ( * )