Friday, December 24, 2010

Bell ringing ritual, and party with my kids

Chris went with me to my final chemo. December 23, 2010. We had a good day celebrating and afterwards, I got to ring the bell that symbolizes moving onto the next chapter. 

 I took a quick nap during my drip session. Apparently, My husband thought I looked so sweet sleeping that he decided to snap a picture. (the ring I am wearing was given to me by my little supporters, Evie and Lauren Nolan. They saw it and said "mommy, Mrs Tiffany needs this ring". Such sweet girls taking after their momma with their thoughtful hearts.
 That's me ringing the bell. Marking the end of this chapter and getting me one step closer to my final journey!!! We headed home and arrived to a mini party that my kids and my mommy threw together. They made posters, and blew up balloons for my arrival.
My yard
Front door
Kids greeting me inside showing their support

entry way
more of the entry way

my chain of treatments.
We add a new link every time I have a treatments.


Getting my kisses

Brayden's poster...go says butt
Grayson's poster....Love the backwards E
Kaylee's poster
I gave my mom a hard time about the poster she made.
Bless her heart, she thought it was a cheer...
I said she was calling me a ho.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hell yeah....16 baby!!!!!

Today is my very last chemo. #16 all together. So, I thought I'd post a little 16 tribute to myself, since I am a numbers freak.
1. Today I noticed that I needed to pluck my eyebrows. They are growing back quickly and when I color them in, they look funny because they are growing in all bushy.
2. Today I also had to put on mascara. My eyelashes are short and stubbly but they are thick and beautiful to me!!!!
3. No more steroids after today!!! I've been on steroids since July 29, and today is my last dose of them. Finally my appetite is going to subside and I wont be as hungry. YAY!!!
4. I will be starting off the new year a new woman. Chemo will be over with and I'll be feeling good by new years day.
5.I shaved my legs 6 days ago, and I already need to shave again. Even though this is quite a chore for me and I haven't missed it, the thought that I NEED to shave excites me.
6. I woke up this morning with bed head. This completely made my day. When I shaved my head, and then it thinned out almost all the way, I didn't have bed head. EVER. So to wake up with bed head is SUPER EXCITING!!!!
7. I will no longer have to eat off plastic silverware after next week. The metal taste in my mouth will subside in a few days.
8. My taste buds will go back to normal after about 2 weeks and I'll be able to enjoy regular foods and not be so limited as to what tastes good.
9. My clothes will start fitting better as my weight starts to drop off from the steroids. This is really exciting for me.
10. My face will not be as puffy anymore.
11. My glasses won't be tight on my face anymore as the facial swelling goes down.
12. I will have to start allowing more time to get ready since I will have to start actually fixing my hair soon.
13. No more fatigue!!! Hopefully. Fingers crossed
14. My nails will quit lifting and will actually start growing back onto the nail beds.
15. I am one step closer to my awesome tattoo to represent this journey.
16. I'm one step closer to great looking boobies with Dallas Cowboys stars tattooed on instead of nipples. Oh yes.... You read that right. But too bad only a few select people will get to see that.

I am also thankful today for the numerous people who have shared this journey with me. Watching my kids, giving them rides, bringing us delicious food, cleaning for me and Chris when we couldn't keep up or didn't have the energy to do it ourselves,and calling to check on us periodically. I'm also thankful for the financial support we've received from some. It has helped MORE THAN YOU KNOW!!! This is an expensive way to get my boobs, but in the end they will be a healthier pair. We obviously didn't plan or budget for this over the past year and it snuck up on us at a horrible time financially, so this blessing is so totally unexpected, and appreciated.

So, thank you for all sharing this journey with me. Even though I still have MONTHS of crap ahead of me, I think I'm through the worst part of it. I have reason to celebrate this Christmas and I will definitely be starting the new year off right!!!!


Monday, December 20, 2010

My only complaint so far....

I have not complained hardly at all during this whole ordeal. I'm fine with losing my hair, in fact, I've found some good points to it, and made a top ten list. But, the fingernails.....that part sucks!!!  They have basically lifted about half off my nail bed. Every single one of them. They are nasty, yellow and discolored, but I don't even care about the's the tenderness and pain that I complain about. This is pretty much the worst side effect I've had. No mouth sores, no sickness (except the one time from reflux) and I'm ok with losing hair.... and even though I have fatigue, it doesn't hurt...
Have you ever tried to clean with nails like this? I have and I hit them against the counter while I was wiping it, and it hurt sooo bad! I've hit them on shelves, I've raked them across my jeans, and I've almost ripped them off trying to open a drawer. I can't even hardly put Kaylee's hair in a ponytail. I did finally find one way that I can do it, where I loop my pinky finger through her pony tail holder and pull with my finger, not my fingernail. My toe nails are probably just as bad, but they stay painted so I haven't seen them. Grayson steps on them ALL THE TIME and it freaking hurts! I've cried from him doing it because it hurts so bad. I've kicked toys, and scraped them under a counter once too and talk about PAIN! I've resorted to toe socks (which I absolutely HATE, but I have to do something to keep my toes warm since I can only wear flip flops.)

I'm told that they should NOT fall off, and that they should grow back onto the nail bed as they grow out, but I still have one more treatment left, so its a waiting game. I was told to keep them short and clipped to avoid any accidents, so I do that, but they still hurt. They are tender, and hurt, but only when I touch the tops of them. It makes it really hard to do anything. Cook, clean, open cans, drawers, and jars...wear shoes, pull up a zipper, dig in pockets or bottom of purse, type on computer, pretty much....most of my daily activities.

Oh, and can you imagine if I were to get cleaning products under there???? BURN!!!!

Yeah....this part sucks.

One more chemo left!!!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fatigue and's a real thing, not just an excuse to be lazy!!!

I am currently meeting with a Dr for my fatigue caused by cancer. She said it is a proven valid condition, but that no one knows why or how it happens yet. They are still doing research on why some people are affected by it, and some people aren't. Two people can have identical cancer, and be going through identical treatments, and one will get fatigue and one will not. I don't know if it's the fact that I have 3 children under age 7 draining all my energy, or if my body is fighting so hard to beat the cancer and it takes everything I've got....but one thing is for sucks! I have a moderate to severe case of it and I am on medication (Ridalin equivalent) to try and combat the fatigue I feel. It helps some, but one thing the Dr told me is "SAVE YOUR ENERGY FOR WHAT IS IMPORTANT!" She really stressed that to me. She said if you have people willing to do things for you, let them, so that you can conserve your energy for your children and family time.

Now I would love to clean my house, cook dinner, run errands, and be a super mom, but the fact of the matter is.... I cannot do it right now. I know people admire my strength and my courage, but inside, it is a HARD battle. One I would not even wish on my worst enemy. I am not much of a complainer, and I REFUSE to throw myself a pity party. So, if you were to ONLY read my blog and not actually talk to me, or spend any time with might think I am stronger than I really am. People who actually spend time with me and talk to me can see that I am struggling.....physically and emotionally.

I struggle with the fact that my children have to do more on their own these days. At times, I feel guilty for sitting on the couch when there are things to be done. Truth be told, this is NOT my normal character. I am typically an "on-the-go" type of person. I rarely go anywhere anymore. Not by choice, but because I simply cannot muster up enough energy to go shower, get dressed and drive somewhere. Some days are better than others, obviously, and I can get stuff done. But, I never know which days I will have energy and which days I won't have even an ounce. I DO choose to conserve my energy for those hours when my children are home and need my help with homework, or want me to go outside and watch them ride their bikes. I conserve my energy for a quick trip to the grocery store. I conserve my energy for an hour of alone time with my husband sitting on the couch talking. Those are the things that are important to me.

Chris will often make me get out of the house with a friend. He will practically force me to go out some nights even if I don't want to. Granted, sitting on your ass at a girlfriends house doesn't expend hardly any energy at all, but at times, I still don't feel like I can do it. But he makes me go and I am thankful for that because I always feel refreshed and energized when I leave awesome company.

A typical day for me goes like this:
I wake up at 7:30, the kids have been dressed and fed already, and lunches made, thanks to my awesome husband. I brush my teeth and make my cup of coffee while the car is warming up. I drive the older 2 to school and return home with Grayson. (Kaylee even carries him out to the car for me, because she loves acting like his momma, and she will buckle him up) Grayson and I will lay on the couch for a little bit. He will do a puzzle, play with trains, or watch cartoons while I lay there. I muster up enough energy to make his lunch, or get him a snack if he needs it. But, it's a sandwich, or a nutri grain bar, or something easy. He lays down for a nap and I conserve enough energy to carry him up the stairs because it's important to him. When he lays down, I also lay down. I nap until he gets up. Then, we go back downstairs and lay on the couch again until it's time to go get the kids from school. We go get them and come back home. I help Kaylee and Brayden get their homework done, and I make sure they get a quick snack. Sometimes, people bring us dinner, and sometimes Chris cooks when he gets home. Often times, we re-heat something from the freezer or he makes grilled cheese sandwiches or macaroni for the kids. We eat dinner together as a family, and then it's bath and bed time for the kids. By this time, if I go upstairs, I stay upstairs because I simply don't have enough energy to go up and down the stairs any more for the day. If I don't go upstairs, the kids will all tell me goodnight and I'll take a quick nap while he is bathing them and putting them to bed. I spend an hour or so with him in peace and then I head to bed.

Now, some days, I have more energy and I actually get out and run a quick errand, or throw a load of clothes in the laundry, or run the vaccuum. I've even cooked a few times. Those days, and those small things make me feel accomplished. With Christmas lurking around the corner, I have a few more people to shop for before the kids are out of school. But, if I don't get out to do it, it's not a big deal.

I say all this to say: I am THANKFUL and so grateful for the people in my life who care enough to help. I have an AWESOME team of friends, (some of who I knew before all this, and some who I am getting to know now) who help by giving rides to my kids, cooking dinner for us, taking Grayson for a few hours so I can rest, cleaning or paying for a cleaning service, and even running an errand for me so I don't have to.

I have had people come help me out at my craft shows (I signed up for them last year and even though it's hard work, it provides a small amount of spendable cash for the holidays), I've had friends who call me and just get me out of the house for a quick coffee, or dinner, and I have friends who don't take no for an answer, and do things without me asking. I have not asked for any help, they have just done it. They are beautiful people and they all help in their own way. I am eternally thankful for those people. Those people show the true heart of Jesus and live as an example to others.

I've definitely seen people for their true self, and it's beautiful.

Until you go through something as life changing as this, you cannot fully understand what it is like to walk an inch in my shoes. It's horrible, but it happens. It happens to good people. It happens to people who don't deserve it. It simply happens.

I've also been chastized for "partying with the girls instead of cleaning my own house" and to that person, I have to say......
"Walk an inch in my shoes before you open your mouth and pass judgement on me. You have no idea what I go through on a daily basis. You have no idea how I feel. You have no idea how hard this is....because you don't really care to know. Leave my family alone and quit pretending like you care, because we all know you don't, and God sees your heart for what it really is. When you personally attack someone in my situation, you let everyone know how truly shallow and lonely you are.  I pity you, but I still love you and forgive you in spite of your negative words and actions."  May God bless you anyways.

Thank you again to all my "helpers" and "fairies" who have helped me out, without me asking. I adore each and every one of you. Without you, this battle would be a lot harder, and I wouldn't have as much strength.


New Surgery Update

Friday, I met with my surgeon again. I told her I wasn't comfortable with the TRAM flap procedure and asked more questions about WHY I couldn't have the tissue expanders and implants. I told her that I just was not comfortable with that surgery, with the HUGE scar left across your stomach from hip to hip, and with the "non-perki-ness" of the breasts made out of the stomach tissue. We talked for a bit and came up with these results:

1. RISK: Some people who are going through radiation can look sun burned, some will blister, and some people with tissue expanders can get an infection with the tissue expanders. If I happen to get an infection, they will have to remove them and we will be back at square one, plus it will delay my radiation a little bit because we'd have to stop radiation to have the surgery to remove them.

SOLUTION: Antibiotics can cure an infection, plus removing them will speed the process, so it's not life threatening. It's just a setback, and it may not even happen. I'd rather take the chance and have that option rather than just cutting off the whole boob and ONLY having the TRAM flap option. I've defied all odds so far, so chances are... I'll defy those odds too. I got a TON of prayer warriors on my side, so I'm thinking this is not even going to be an issue.

2. I would always regret it if we just went ahead and went with the TRAM flap and total mastectomy without giving the skin sparing mastectomy with tissue expanders and implants a chance. It's a 50/50 chance of infection, but it does not change my survival rate, my re-occurrence rate, or my overall outcome. The only risk is the possible infection. I'm willing to take that chance if it means better cosmetic results in the end.

So, they've switched my plastic surgeon to one who will do the tissue expanders and I meet with him before my surgery date. They scheduled my surgery for February 1st. There is still a chance that he could tell me I'm not a candidate for implants. Not every cancer patient has good enough skin after radiation, or depending on their type of cancer, tumor size, tissue affected, etc, it could make for bad results. So, once I meet with him, he will let me know if I am a candidate.

So, I am much better emotionally and more at peace with the new process.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One more to go!!!!!

Well, I am sitting here at the moment receiving my chemo drip. This is my second to last FAC chemo, and I am super excited about that. My last one should be scheduled for December 23. Dr Theriault, my oncologist, said today at our visit that my blood counts are VERY good and doesn't anticipate that we will have to delay the last chemo. That is bittersweet news for me. I'm excited to have it all done, but on the same note, that means that my Christmas eve and Christmas day are gonna be kind of rough. Typically, the first 5 days after chemo are my "weird tummy" feelings. I stay on top of my anti-nausea medicines, so I don't "get sick" but nothing tastes good (except a BBQ potato and a McRib sandwich from Mcdonalds) and I never know if what I am feeling is nausea, anxiety, hunger, or indigestion. It feels like all of them combined, so I don't ever know if I should eat or not. Then, after that subsides, I usually have about 2 days of reflux going on and I want to sleep a lot for the second week (days 10-14). Then, I finally have a normal week, my appetite subsides, and the sleepiness wears off, I just am lazy and non energetic the last 7 days of my 21 day cycle. So, Christmas day, I'll have a little energy, but I probably won't want to eat anything which sucks because our family tradition is too cook a Christmas dinner for our kids that day. (We do a typical Thanksgiving day type meal with fried turkey and all the fixings). I'm fairly certain that I also want want to cheat and steal any holiday cookies we will be baking. That's a good thing.....especially these days.

So, as for the chemo and side effects, I'm still doing very well. No major complaints. Not that I am much of a complainer anyways, but the only real side effects I have are not painful, just annoying. I've lost my eyelashes completely and I only have about 4-5 hairs in my eyebrow line. I busted out the "temporary tattoo eyebrows" and the false lashes this week. I only wear them when I go out somewhere major. Dr appointments, errands and social gatherings are lash less. It's too much work unless it's really worth it. But, I feel like I "look" sick now that I have lost those, especially if I don't have makeup on. Of course, the hair on my head is GROWING...go figure. It's thinned out, but it's about a half inch long already and I razor shaved my head for Halloween, so it's grown that much in just over a month, while most people lose their hair completely around that time.  My fingernails are discolored to a pale yellow color, and they have lifted about half way on my nail bed. It looks like a pocket of air under there. It doesn't hurt, I just can't do a lot of things because they could fall off. No more ponytails in Kaylee's hair, no more opening coke cans, no more untying knots, and no more tearing ketchup or condiment packets.

I signed up for a craft show last year when I did the show, so I decided to go ahead and participate this year so that I didn't lose my spot for the next year. So, this weekend and next weekend, I will be at the FFA Christmas market on Telge Rd. I've been trying to get bows and rhinestone shirts made, but since I've been so tired, it hasn't happened. Good thing I make most of my stuff on the spot. Of course, my wonderful husband is going with me to help, and I've had a few friends offer as well. Since it's 2 days after chemo, I shouldn't be feeling all that great. The next weekend is my "tired weekend" and "not supposed to be in large crowds" weekend. All this, just to not lose my spot for next year when I'm back in full force. Plus, I feel like I've modified  my workload and given up quite a bit with the business lately, and I miss it. I'm bored. So, crazy as I am....come out and see me and make it worth my while and get some of your Christmas shopping done also. Great vendors and unique items for that "hard to buy for" person. Chris will be with me making shirts and doing things that I cannot do......He's such an awesome hubby. How many men would come to a craft show for 2 days and make rhinestone shirts??? MINE, because he loves me....
It is the Cy-Fair FFA Country Christmas Craft Show, this Saturday and Sunday (12/4 and 12/5) from 10-5 each day. It's at the Ag arena on Telge Road by 290 fwy.
Email me if you would like a flier emailed to you.

So, one more chemo treatment to go! Then I'm through the hardest part. After that, removal surgery and healing, followed by 6 long weeks of radiation EVERY day, and then once my skin heals from radiation, I can start on the reconstruction process. So, if you're wondering how much longer I have......probably another 9-12 months before I'm completely done.

Prayer requests or needs for us this week, for those who have asked:
  • Pray for continued good results from the chemo. Mild side effects, and blood counts to make them say "WOW".
  • Pray for my meeting with my current surgeon (tomorrow morning) where we will discuss if the total mastectomy she wants to do is 100% ABSOLUTELY the only way to go. (see prior post for more info on that one) I really do not feel at peace with that procedure so I'm going to try and convince them to do it my way, or give me statistical facts to this being the ONLY way we can go in my case. So, this means you might want to pray for the surgeon....for me to have mercy on her and not want to make her crawl under a bush and hide. (She's a good surgeon, don't get me wrong, I just don't want the procedure done her way and I think that's stepping on toes)
  • Pray for my husband and his position and possible advancement at work. We need a raise, he needs a promotion, and there are some things opening up.
  • Pray for a wonderful holiday season for everyone. Happy safe travels, and loving, giving hearts.
  • Dinners, or pre-cut fresh fruits so the kids can get their own snacks while I am napping.
  • An occasional person to take Grayson, my sweet 2 yr old while I nap for a few hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • An occasional sweeper, mopper, and duster fairy for my house since I didn't qualify for the Cleaning for a Reason program. Chris manages to get the dishes done and gets the counters wiped off daily, but toilets, bathrooms and laundry get done on weekends usually. He doesn't have time to get to the floors too often except the daily sweeping of all the kids crumbs under their chairs.
I have an online calendar set up that Eva, my PA, is arranging. If you'd like to join and sign up to help, please email me and I'll send you the link because it's a private site.

So, that's about it! Chemo is done and I'm heading home to sleep the day away.