Friday, October 28, 2011

"Tonight" with SugarLand

So, remember how I won that contest "Win a Date with SugarLand"? Well, here is my update.....

We left Friday night and flew out to Atlanta. They paid for that. As we boarded the plane, we played switch-a-roo with another couple because Chris and I were sitting together, but with an aisle between us and another couple was split up, so we all traded seats so we could sit next to our spouse. There was a third guy in our row, and we started talking. He introduced himself as T-Bone from the show The Bone Collector. No Shit! We talked a lot the whole plane ride (about 2 hours) about everything. He had lost his mom to cancer last year, shortly after I was diagnosed. I told him about my concert win and how much SugarLand helped me through my journey. We talked about his new clothing line. The funniest line he said all night... "Every rednecks dream come clothes are available in over 30,000 Walmart stores". That was funny to me. His show is all about bow hunting and stuff that I know nothing about, but it was interesting. He said he could tell how excited I was and he didn't even know me. He is a super sweet guy. We talked about kids, he showed me pictures of him with different celebs, like Jeff Foxworthy, and he said he got to attend Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert's wedding. It was pretty fun. You can see his website here and check out his show on the Outdoor Channel if you have it. Their Texas special that they were shooting is airing this week, I think. Check out the website here to see a preview. I told him I had to get a picture with him before we left, and he said, he wanted one of us too. So, after we de-planed, we all took a pic together.

 The Houston Airport  and my seat neighbor, Travis T-Bone Turner

Then, we took a town car limo to the Four Seasons Hotel. We paid for the car, they paid for the hotel. It was a super nice hotel. We got in really late, so we didn't do anything. We walked around a little bit because my energy level was through the roof. I was so excited to see what was in store for us the next day. The hotel is in the middle of Georgia Tech's nightlife, so there were TONS of bars, but we didn't really feel like doing a bar/club scene. So, we went back to the hotel. I finally fell asleep about 2am or so. We had chocolate covered things waiting for us in our room.

Saturday morning, Chris woke me up about 11am to go eat. We ate some quick brunch and headed back to the hotel for a nap. While we were eating, I noticed a lot of pink stuff everywhere....turns out, the Susan G Komen 3-day walk for a Cure was in Atlanta that weekend. So, we got to see a lot of pink people walking around. I thought it was kinda cool that the breast cancer walk was there, right by our hotel, considering that the meaning behind my video that won was all about my breast cancer journey. So, we headed back to the hotel, took a nap, and I started to get ready for my night.

Lots of pictures of the beautiful hotel! 

We arrived at the arena at about 5pm and picked up our tickets, meet and greet and VIP stickers. We went in and met Whitney, our host for the night. She works closely with Sugarland and is a REALLY cool chic. We got to eat dinner with all the band and producers, videographer, etc.. the whole crew eats in the "catering room" and we were lucky enough to eat with them. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush weren't there though. But, Kristian came in while we were eating with Whitney and he looked at me and stopped, smiled and came over to give me a hug. Whitney said "this is our tonight contest winners" and he said "I KNOW WHO THEY ARE, I RECOGNIZED THEM FROM THE VIDEO". Oh.My.Gosh!!! He recognized me??? It was so awesome. It was very obvious when he saw me that he recognized me and didn't need the introduction. He gave me a hug and then shook Chris' hand and said something to the effect of "I loved your video and what you two have together". That was probably the hi-light of my evening. Dinner was delicious! I ate Dr Pepper ribs, grits, fried okra, boiled shrimp, and bread pudding. Kristian said the caterers were giving them one last "excellent" meal before the tour was over so they would be invited back next year. It was really REALLY good! Whitney joined us at our table, and we chatted the time away. She said she read my blog! Hi Whitney! We talked about cancer, our relationship, how we met, our kids, and I told her about Kaylee's solo she is doing and she said I could email her a link to the video once she competes and we get it on video and she would pass it along. We talked about football a little bit. She's a Houston Texans fan, but we still like her anyways. :-) I really loved Whitney...she was an excellent host, and fun to talk to. We had a blast with her!

 Yes, I made the shirt. A custom creation, one-of-a-kind SugarLand rhinestone shirt.
Our meet and Greet passes and VIP all access sticker
This radio station was the one giving out the posters, and I had to take a picture with them since they were all wearing Pink Ribbon shirts.

After dinner, we went back out to the arena lobby and enjoyed a beer before the meet and greet. When we got into the meet and greet, they announced that SugarLand doesn't want to spend time autographing items, and instead they want to actually meet us, so they gave everyone an autographed photo when they left. We also weren't allowed to take our own pictures, and instead Whitney took the pictures and uploaded them to their site for downloading or printing. It was a good picture. I was a bit surprised by the news, but if you think about it, most people want pictures on 3 different cameras, and then sign like a dozen things, so it makes sense. We got to be at the end of the line, but the line was so long, we really didn't get any extra time with them. :-( Kristian was again, super sweet, gave me a hug but Jennifer acted like she had no clue who I was. I was a tiny bit disappointed that she didn't recognize me like Kristian did, but she is a busy lady, and probably meets a lot of people, so oh well.
Anyways, the concert was great, but my camera died shortly after it started, so sorry I don't have too many pics. (lots of them are cell phone pictures, so pardon the crappiness of them) The radio stations there had posters printed for the song "Little Miss" and asked us to all hold them up during the song. The one I chose was "I'll be alright again, I'm OK". It's lyrics from the song, and the Little Miss Project was started about a year ago. You can read about it and watch the video here. Basically, we are all a different type of "Little Miss" and the song touches on a few and you choose which one you are. So, we held those up during the song, which was pretty cool. I got to sit the row behind Jennifer Nettle's mom. Atlanta is Jennifer's hometown, so her mom came to watch her perform. After the concert, the lady I was sitting next to, who works with her mom, introduced us and told her I was the Tonight Contest winner. She is a super sweet lady and Jennifer looks a lot like her momma. My favorite songs from the concert were Little Miss, Incredible Machine, Baby Girl, Stay, All We Are and of course, Tonight.....

After the concert, I met up with a new SugarFriend named Mandy. She had emailed me when the contest started via the SugarLand site. You have to sign up as a member (free) in order to submit your video, so the email is safe, and it's all contained, and not through your regular email inbox. So, Mandy was telling me how much she loved my video and how much it touched her. She also has some medical issues, (not cancer) and her husband has stood by her and helped her through it all these years. We started emailing back and forth, and finally became Facebook friends. She told me that she would be at the concert that night, since she lives in Atlanta, and that she had some gifts for me and the kids. So, she gave me the gifts, and offered to take us back to the hotel (saved cab fare) so we accepted her sweet invitation. The gifts were SPOT ON! She gave each of my kids a stuffed animal, which it turned out...Brayden got a cow and Grayson got a puppy. Grayson is always acting like a puppy, and Brayden sleeps with a stuffed cow, so the boys LOVED their gifts. Kaylee got a journal/diary book and a cute pen, along with a stuffed animal, and that girl loves to write in journals, so it was prefect for her too. My gift was a zebra memory book/photo album and a beautiful painting that her and her daughter Katie had painted of me. I knew it was me right away and I knew exactly which picture it was. She said that picture was the one that she loved the most from my Facebook page, and I have to admit, it was one of my favorites too. So, Mandy and I have so much in common, we hit it off right away. We talked the whole way back to the hotel, but I totally forgot to get a picture with her. :-( I guess that means we will have to meet up again.

So, after finally falling asleep Saturday night we got up Sunday morning and went and had Einsteins Bagels and coffee for breakfast before heading to the airport. I was so ready to see my babies. I missed them so much while I was gone! We got home Sunday, and I hugged them all night long while we watched the Dallas Cowboys kick ass!

So, concert was great, dinner was great, Whitney was great, and we had a good time! Thank you Sugarland for having this contest, and for picking me as a finalists! Thank you to everyone who voted and helped make one of my dreams come true. It was an unforgettable evening!

Enjoy the pictures below.....

Pictures from the concert, and all the Pink walkers that walked by our hotel Saturday and Sunday. Also, the bikers that cheered them on at one of the pitstops. I love the pink bra's on their bikes.



The gifts from Mandy
I hope you enjoyed reading all about my Incredible Night with the most Incredible Band ever!!!!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Attitude is everything!

I received this cute story last year, and I thought I'd share it on here since it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Enjoy.

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today.' So she did and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

'H-M-M,' she said, 'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today.' So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail.' So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. 'YAY!' she exclaimed. 'I don't have to fix my hair today!'

Attitude is everything.

I totally enjoyed not having to fix my hair. I loved the quick showers. Now, I thoroughly enjoy that I have enough hair to have Bed-Head and I can feel the wind blow through it. That's such a great feeling!!!

Check yourself! Save those Ta-Ta's



Monday, October 10, 2011

It's gonna be an AWESOME night!!!!

So, some of you know that I entered the Sugarland "tonight" contest a while back. We had to make a video showing what our perfect tonight would be like. So, it took me 16 hours to make this video. It was my first time ever making a video without just hitting record on the video camera. I spent an entire Saturday making this video. The winner of the contest would get to fly to Atlanta for their final tour stop in October, have a candlelight dinner and meet the band. I was pumped!!! The finalists were to be announced and then it was up to their fans to vote for the winner. Then, Sugarland had that awful catastrophe where their stage collapsed and they postponed the contest. I completely understood, and dismissed the thought from my head. I wasn't sure if they were going to go through with the contest still or not and my heart was aching for the people who didn't survive the stage collapse and those who were injured. The contest was far from my thoughts.

So, last week after I got back from Dallas, I went to work on Tuesday. After work, I checked my email and noticed a message from a fellow Sugarfriend saying she had voted for me.  I was like "voted?" So, sure enough I checked the website and they had announced the 16 finalists and I was one of them!!! But, I was about 200 votes behind the leader. I had some groundwork to cover. I blew up the news feeds on Facebook and Twitter. Several people also re-posted my link because my video touched them and they wanted me to win. Strangers were emailing me telling me they had voted for me. Sure enough, by Thursday, I had taken the lead in votes. The other girl in competition with me for the lead was right on my tail though. She really gave me a run for my money. Saturday morning, the vote count had gotten to 1K and froze. You couldn't see how many votes you had, and shortly after, the other girl reached 1K. I wasn't sure if the votes were still being counted on the other end or not. Well, apparently they were..... I WON!!!!! They announced the winner today on their website.  I was waiting all morning, and I kept hitting refresh on my phone. (my battery had already almost died by noon). Sure enough, I had a parent-teacher conference to go to at my son's school. When I got out of the conference, I checked the website again and saw the news!! I was still at the school though and couldn't scream. I sent Chris a text that said "pack your bags....we're going to Atlanta!!!" Then, all these emails started coming in from Twitter and YouTube from people commenting to me about my video. Man, the LOVE I felt was overwhelming! Sugarland's music is all about Love and many of their songs have helped me get through my journey this past year. Mostly, "Incredible Machine" because I felt that my body was truly an incredible machine during chemo. Also, the song "Stand Back Up" is one of my favorites. Some of the lines in the song go... (I'll hi-light my favorites)
Go ahead and take your best shot,

Let 'er rip, give it all you've got,
I'm laid out on the floor, but I've been here before,
I may stumble, yeah I might fall,
Only human aren't we all?
I might lose my way, but hear me when I say,

I will stand back up,
You'll know just the moment when I've had enough,
Sometimes I'm afraid, and I don't feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up,

I've been beaten up and bruised,
I've been kicked right off my shoes,
Been down on my knees more times than you'd believe,
When the darkness tries to get me,
There's a light that just won't let me,
It might take my pride, and my tears may fill my eyes,

But I'll stand back up,

I've weathered all these storms,
But I just turn them into wind, so I can fly,
What don't kill you makes you stronger,

So, go ahead and take your best shot,
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got,
You might win this round but you can't keep me down,
'Cause I'll stand back up,

And you'll know just the moment when I've had enough,
Sometimes I'm afraid and I don't feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up

So, even though the song wasn't written ABOUT cancer, I could totally relate those lines to my journey. There were days when I didn't want to get out of bed. There were days when I just wanted to cry all day. There were days that I would be depressed but I never wanted my kids to see me sick, sad or upset. I was just ready to be done with the whole process. But, seeing those smiles on my kids faces after school, and getting that hug and kiss from Chris every morning before he left for work and afternoon when he got home...that's what made me keep fighting! So, Kaylee decided this year she wanted to do a solo in dance.....and said "mommy, I want to do your Sugarland song and dedicate it to you". OH.MY.GOD! She has such a beautiful heart. Of course, solo's are expensive, but I couldn't say no to that!!!! (hence the reason I am working part-time) So, in February, she will be competing in 2 dance competitions with that song. She is such a beautiful, graceful dancer and I can't wait to see the final product. (I better remember to wear waterproof mascara because I know I'm gonna cry....or be a basketcase...whichever) I'll post the video here after she dances.

So, October 22 is the big day!!! I will be flying to Atlanta to wine, dine and hang out with Sugarland! I can't wait to see what all my night has in store for me! I don't think I'll be able to sleep well the next 13 days out of sheer excitement!!! Plus, I have to get work done...Ugh. It's gonna be hard to concentrate.

So, here is my video submission....

And here is my favorite.....a shout out on Twitter from Sugarland!!!!
As if THAT isn't cool enough!!!! I can hardly contain my excitement!!! I think I may need to go buy my lottery ticket tonight..... Then I gotta start working on my custom Sugarland Rhinestone shirt!!! Good thing I know how to do that....hehehe

Thank you from the bottom and top of my heart to all my friends (and the strangers) who posted my link, voted and helped me win this! I could NOT have done it without all of you!!! You guys ROCK!!! I love you all!!!!
So, stay tuned........

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Did ya miss me?

I know, slap my hand....I haven't posted in a while. I meant to, but my 3 kids are wearing me out, plus, I went back to work 2 days a week and then I work out with my trainer 3 days a week, and sleep when I can. My fatigue is still pretty bad these days. If I don't take a nap, I have ZERO energy by the time Chris gets off work...but if I do take a nap, I'm up till midnight and then tired the next day. I can't win. I'm just glad that he helps me out so much in the evenings that I can't take a nap.

So, here's what is new.....

Since my last post, Chris and I celebrated our 11 year anniversary. He booked us a weekend at the Granduca hotel in Houston. He arranged a babysitter, told me what to pack and when I would be leaving and coming back home. He made me an appointment at Facade with Corrine's staff makeup artist. It was so nice to get a change in makeup from what I normally do. Corrine and Chris apparently emailed each other back and forth and come to find out, she did it complimentary after seeing my blog. I didn't get to meet Corrine, but her staff was AMAZING!!! Then, we got in room massages and he made sure it was a massage therapist who specialized in lymphatic massage. Since I can't get my normal deep tissue massage that I love because it re-arranges the lymphatic system, it was very important that the person was trained in lymphatic techniques. We had a few awesome dinners. One was at our FAVORITE "special occasion" restaurant Masraff's. We got to meet the owner Tony on our last visit there. He is such a sweet man. This is the best restaurant we have ever been to! Seriously! The food is delicious, the wait staff is over the top, and the atmosphere is very romantic and modern. So, Chris scored major points with that weekend get-away. It was very nice to "escape" for the weekend.

I met my new plastic surgeon, Dr. Skoraki. I loved him!!! I really think I'll be happy with him. We don't have a game plan in place....we are waiting for my skin to heal from all the trauma this summer. He said he wasn't opposed to putting in another expander to stretch the skin back out before surgery, if he thought my skin could handle it. January is the next time I meet with him, so I get to take a break over the next few months. Plastic surgery probably won't be until April 2012.

I had another appointment with my regular surgeon. I hadn't seen her since my follow-up from my mastectomy. She had a baby and was on maternity leave for a few months so she missed all my drama with Dr G. During this visit, she found a small lump in my left (non-cancer) side. She booked me an ultrasound appt for the next day. She told me that she thought it felt like breast tissue, but since any kind of lump throws up a red flag, she sent me to have it checked out. I have felt this lump before, but it's not always something you can feel. It depends on how soft, or firm my breast tissue is during each part of the month that co-incides with my cycle. Sometimes I can feel it, sometimes I can't. Anyways, I had the ultrasound Thursday and everything looked normal. The radiologist could feel the lump, but when she scanned over it, she saw nothing but breast tissue. So, I got the "all-clear" but still...... this is why I want the other side removed! I refuse to live my life in fear of breast cancer returning, and every lump sends up a red flag. I get lumps all the time, so it's not like one can be dismissed as nothing....every single one has to be checked out. So, I think I won that argument.

That's about it for medical stuff. I think that catches me up for now. I'm a lop-sided mess. I hate having to wear a fake boob. It's so heavy and I'm limited to 3 bra's and a few camisole tops that are made to hold the prosthetic boob so it doesn't sit against your skin. So, I gotta stay on top of laundry. Working out with it is a pain in the ass. But, if I don't have it in, I look really funny!! So, I'll deal with it. I've never been so happy to take off my bra at night till now!!! My bra weighs about 5 pounds with the boob in it. I could seriously hurt someone if I swung it at them!!!

Well, I better head to bed. I have a busy day tomorrow.

Ta-Ta for now!!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

He loved me through it...

Ok, so don't ask me WHY on earth, of all the pictures I used for this video, YouTube decided to use THIS ONE as the cover shot? I would've prefered the bathing suit shot myself. That was when I was in the best shape of my life, but oh well.... Cancer sucks, and Cancer is UGLY and my husband is the best in the world for loving me no matter what I look like! So, I made a video tribute for him. When I heard this song, I cried like a baby. It's like she wrote it for me and Chris! (except she forgot that I was only 33 when I got diagnosed! haha)

Oh, and don't say I didn't forewarn husband, who has never cried in our 11 years of marriage ALMOST teared up watching this video..... so if you are emotionally sensitive....grab a kleenex box before pressing play.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Follow up to surgery

I went in for my follow up appt today. I got to see the P.A. Today and not Dr G so it was a pretty pleasant visit. She removed my drain tube, so at least I will get to enjoy our 11 year anniversary this weekend. Chris has booked us a weekend at a super nice and beautiful hotel in Houston. He has a few surprises in store for me and I'm glad I don't have to carry that stupid drain bulb and tube with me.

My stitches may come out next week. It depends on how it looks. If it is healed they will remove them, but since the skin is so damaged, they may need to stay in a little longer.

So, aside from that and my 2 oldest starting school (1st grade and 3rd grade) I have had a very nice relaxing week at home. I knocked a bunch of little things off my list. Stuff I could do one handed because I can't really use my right arm. They are afraid it may bust the stitches, so even though my arm functions, I can't use it. That's hard to remember when you feel so motivated to do something.

I'll post more after I get back from our get-away.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bedside "Un-Manner"

So, here is what went down since Monday.... Now, I will add as a disclosure, that I just got out of surgery 6 hours ago, so my anesthesia may still be lingering, so I'm not responsible if I sound loopy, or if I'm not making sense.  I'll have Chris proof read it when I'm done to make sure I didn't leave out random words.

I went in for Dr Garvey to check my stitches from my surgery 8/8 and see if they were ready to come out. I was a little ticked at him already because as I was in the PACU recovery room, he walked past my bed TWICE and never once popped his head in to check on me. I've never had a doctor do that to me. I know they don't always pop in on you when you're in outpatient recovery, because often times, they are in another surgery by the time you're awake. But, he walked past my bed twice and I was awake. NOTHING. I was also a little upset because of our conversation that took place at our last visit prior to that. Needless to say, he was a little on my bad side already and I was going to ask for a different surgeon after he took my stitches out. Our personalities just don't match. I think I mentioned that in my last post.

So, he decided to leave my stitches in another week because my incision had not completely healed yet, which means that I have to see him again. *eye roll* So, we get to talking and he repeated a few things that he told me at the last visit. But, here is the icing on the cake......(portions of our conversation from this Monday)

Dr G: "Yeah, it's (incision site) having a hard time healing up because your skin is just so charred from radiation. She (radiation oncologist) just burnt your skin so bad."
Me: "Yes, because SOMEONE (Dr Garvey) didn't deflate me ALL the way as requested by her, you left 300 cc's in the expander, saying it was ok, so she had to radiate me deeper to get through it."
Dr G: "Yeah, ok, so it's my can blame me, she can blame me, I can blame her, whatever. Bottom line is that your skin is destroyed"
(did he just say "whatever" to me???)

Dr G: "You need to compromise and lower your expectations!"
no response from me because what the heck does he possibly mean by that??? I think I've already compromised and lowered my expectations by dealing with Cancer! Cancer boobs are much different than "augmented" breasts, so I've already done both of those! I don't expect stripper boobs. I don't expect bikini boobs. I just want normal boobs that look good in clothes!

Dr G: "I never changed plans on you. I've said the same thing from the beginning."
Me: "No, I asked you if you'd have enough to do 2 decent size breasts with the TRAM flap and you said Yes. When I asked you if I should lose weight, you said yes. So I did, and now you are saying that my breasts are going to be triangular shaped and much smaller if I do both with the TRAM flap"
Dr G: "Ok, let me put it this way....(looks at me like I'm a dumbass and talks slower) if I take the flap and cut it in half, and use it for both breasts, they will be smaller because I'll be using 50/50 portions. If I only do one breast, I'd be using about 70% of it on one side. Does THAT make sense to you?"
Me: "I'm done!" and I hopped up off the table, threw my hands up in the air, grabbed my bra and shirt and started to get dressed.
Dr G: "Would you like me to get you in with a different doctor?"
Me: "YES!!!"
Dr G: "Ok, I will get you in with Dr Skoracki" and he left the room.

So, Tuesday, I spoke with the patient advocate and told her my story. She could not believe he said those things to me and spoke to me the way he did. She filed a copy in the advocacy file, and also with the director of Plastic surgery. I was supposed to go in to meet Dr Skoracki in the first week of September. She repeatedly apologized on MD Anderson's behalf. She said that is not the way they are trained to deal with things, and she just cannot believe it. You could tell she was stunned, and on my side. I'm so thankful they have a patient advocate!!!

Then, Wednesday, my incision started leaking. CRAP!!! See blog post below this one....

Thursday, I went in to see my PA, Marla, because I told them I didn't want to see Garvey and Skoracki is on vacation. It really sucks that all this happened while I am in the process of switching Drs. So, she tells me that she got a page about me that morning telling her what had happened. She spoke to Dr Garvey, and said that he felt awful about what happened Monday. She said he really doesn't like the way it happened, or things that were said, but she said she respected me for saying "I'm done" and walking away rather than saying something I regretted. She said He also respected me for that. She said she talked to him about describing my breasts as being triangular shaped, because they aren't gonna be triangular shaped. She doesn't know why he used that word to describe them. She said she is proud of me for standing up for myself because a lot of patients don't. They just put their tail in between their legs and say Ok. I told her "It's MY body and I'M in control of it...NOT HIM!!" She said it reminded her of a sibling argument because neither of us were backing down.

Anyways, after all of that, she said he was willing to do the surgery and recommending it because if I let if go over the weekend and wait for Dr Skoracki to return on Monday, it could be later in the week before he could do surgery and the risk of infection is so great now that I have a seroma. So, my choices were: Let Dr Garvey take my expander out......or wait for Skoracki out of hard-headedness and risk getting an infection.

I know when to let my hard-headedness go.....

But, before surgery this morning, I requested to speak to Dr Garvey before they took me back. He came in and looked at my incision, and we talked medical jargon for a bit. (He brought in a medical student with him who he is apparently mentoring) So, he said "Do you have any more questions"


Me: "any apologies?"
Dr G: "For....?"
Me: "talking to me like I was an idiot and saying   'does THAT make sense to you?' "
Dr G: "I'm sorry for the way things turned out between us."
Me: "well, your bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired because you walked right past my bed last surgery 2 times and never popped your head in and I was awake. If you don't change your bedside manner.....I pity your patients". (yeah, probably a little over the line...I know)
Dr G: placed his hand on my thigh where he was standing, in a manner to calm me. "look, let's not go there again. Let's just get this surgery done and get you all fixed up for Dr Skoracki. I need you to have trust in your Doctor for today"
Me: "Well, that's hard to do because I lost all respect and trust in you Monday when you spoke to me the way you did. I'm very nervous about you doing my surgery today, but I don't have another choice"
Dr G: "well, you do, but it's not one I recommend."
Me: "I I either risk getting an infection, or risk you doing my surgery"
Dr G: "OK, so, I take full responsibility for what happened between us. I'm very sorry. I'm sorry. I really am Sorry."
Me: "ok. Thank you. Please be careful and give me back to my husband and kids...OK?"
Dr G: "I will" (smile)

He shook my hand and Chris' hand and left the room.

Marla came back in (because she had come in halfway through our convo and started to cry (which I was crying too). She said more of the same stuff. He's probably in the OR hanging his head in shame, he's really upset that this happened. Then she tells me I really need to get a job as a patient advocate for patients who are too scared to stand up for themselves. HAHAHA. She said I would be really good at that because I'm very stubborn.....just like Dr G, which is why we butt heads.

So, it's not really that I'm stubborn....I just am a visual person. I need to know that if I use the TRAM flap and do both sides (which I am GOING to do, even if I have to switch Dr's outside of MDA) I need to know that I have another option, maybe put some implants behind the TRAM flap in a few years, maybe get some lipo or something from somewhere and have it injected in there....something. Tell me that I have other options if I'm not happy with the results.
I may be happy with them. But, I won't know until I see them.....because I'm a visual person!!! He never would answer those questions. I got "we'll cross that bridge when we get there". That's not an answer!!!

So, I'm out of surgery. All is good. I am concave and wrinkly. He used the same incision from a week ago, rather than using my mastectomy incision. He just made it a bit bigger and ruptured my expander and pulled it out, and then used some tool to basically burn the inside of my "pocket" to help it close together so it wouldn't collect fluid. Kind of like a cauterization? Then, he placed a drain tube to help drain all fluid from the pocket. I can't wear a prosthesis for a few weeks until it's fully healed. So, they told me to use batting, (light and fluffy) since now it's VERY noticeable that I'm lopsided.

Everything should still be in tact and OK to use for reconstruction. The expander did it's job, and saved the skin that was important. It shouldn't shrink down over the next few months while I heal.

Not sure when reconstruction is going to be now. I'll update more about that after I speak with Dr Skoracki.

I have to see Dr Garvey one more time this Thursday for a follow up. I'm not sure if he will be removing my stitches, or if they will stay in until I see Dr Skoracki. He will probably remove my drain tube Thursday, depending on my level of output.

They don't want me working out for a month....except walking. BOO!!!!

I think I've answered most of the questions that people had for me on Facebook. If I haven't, ask them below, and I'll do a Q&A post soon.

Thanks for your prayers! I really felt them today.

Love you guys!!!!

3 surgeries in 32 days?

I'm on my way to the hospital for yet another surgery. It seems that I developed a seroma from last weeks surgery so they have to remove my expander to avoid infection. A seroma is a fluid pocket that is more common after a mastectomy, but not as common in a "necrosis debridement" which is what I had last week when they closed up my hole, or chunk of missing skin. I noticed Wednesday morning that I was really sweaty in my armpit shortly after I started my workout. It was weird because I don't sweat from that arm since they removed all my lymph nodes. I was actually excited because that meant that everything was working correctly even though it's very rare. Well, later that day, I took off my sports bra and noticed it was wet, and so was my skin and my hand where I had just touched my skin. I looked at my incision and noticed something leaking out of it. It looked like a clear fluid but it had a slight tinge of yellow if you wiped it on something white.

I called the ER and they said it wasn't emergent but to come in first thing Thursday morning. I went in and saw the PA and she said it was a seroma and if it is coming out, that means bacteria can also go in through the same opening. So we have to get the expander out before infection sets in. It can set in quickly, and turn deadly quickly, so they put me on the surgery schedule for today. We are on our way down there now.

Please pray for me today. I don't have a lot of trust, faith or respect in this doctor, but the new plastic surgeon I am to see is on Vacation, so I have to let dipshit dr with no bedside manner operate on me. I have faith in God and I trust in God, so I know that he will keep me protected but I am very uptight and stressed about the surgery.

Chris will update my FB and twitter sidebar and I'll try to blog again as soon as I can. I have to tell you all about dipshit dr and what he did to make me switch Drs.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's new?

So, tomorrow, August 8th, marks the 3 year anniversary of Grayson's cranio surgery. It also will be a surgery date for me too. Yep, again.

I went in for a followup with my plastic surgeon, and he checked out the hole that I got in my skin a few months back. I don't think I ever got a chance to write about it on here because our summer was so busy. Anyways, I had gone in a few months back for him to check it out. He basically said it was a chunk of skin that fell off because it was damaged skin from radiation. He gave me some silvadene cream to put on it twice a day and said it was very common.


So, right under my arm pit (in the famous butt crack I've spoken about) I had a small chunk of skin fall off. Don't worry, I won't post pics because it looks really gross. It started off about the size of a pencil eraser. Well, 2 months later, after the cream, it is now the size of a large pea. It's white underneath, but, originally, he said that it was just new skin trying to grow. Well, now that it has gotten bigger, he says we have to close it up.....ASAP. It's basically an open wound in a spot that is very hard to cover. So, he is going to do an outpatient "debridement" surgery. Basically, cut out the hole and sew my skin back together.

So, I'm kinda pissed that at first he said it was nothing, and now it's "lets do surgery right away". But, I was going on vacation with the family, so he scheduled it for the day after we got back. I asked him how common it was because he told me in the beginning it was very common to have this happen.....he said "it's common" and then I asked how many of his patients have had this and his answer....."NONE".

WHAT???? Real common huh?

But wait....there's more.....

Then he goes on to tell me that if I opt to have the second breast removed, he won't have enough to do a large enough breast on both sides with the TRAM flap procedure and they will be somewhat triangular in shape. He said I'll get a better aesthetic result if I just get a lift on the left side and the TRAM flap on the right side. Then, he said that because of the gall bladder surgery, he has to delay my reconstruction surgery. (I went in for my followup with my gall bladder surgeon a few days later and he said that it shouldn't delay anything because it's almost completely healed and it's only been 2 weeks). So, originally, Dr Garvey told me to lose all my weight before reconstruction surgery or it could make my breasts uneven, because your breasts will do the same thing that your stomach did in weight loss. (IE: get bigger, or smaller, depending on if you gain or lose weight) I've only lost 10 lbs so far, and gone down 1 pant size. I'm thinking he is now changing plans because he is realizing that I was right when I told him that if I lose all my weight, he won't have enough to work with. But, he had assured me that he would, despite me telling him that, and he said "We will cross that bridge when we get there". GGGRRRR He really pissed me off that day! He basically led me on for 6 months telling me that he would be able to reconstruct both breasts using the TRAM flap, and now he is changing plans.

He says that he doesn't recommend removing the other breast because the odds that it would get breast cancer are slim. (Yeah, and so were the odds that I would originally get breast cancer because it wasn't genetic, and I didn't have any contributing factors. I also did everything that was supposed to reduce your odds.....have 3 kids, breast feed, eat healthy, etc) He also said that there was a chance of the healthy one getting infected if I remove it, and therefore, I would be left with no breast, so I need to decide which I would rather have. (I kind of feel like he is trying to cover his ass in case it does get infected so he can say 'I told you so') Then he said the only thing he can guarantee is that they won't match. He said no one matches before cancer, and no one matches afterwards. So, I am going to push for a removal of the other one with an implant on that side, and the TRAM flap on the other side. I'm not a plastic surgeon, but it makes sense to me that it would work....and if they aren't gonna match anyways.....then who cares? As long as they look decent in a bra and tee shirt, I am good with that. I just don't want to be running downtown in a panic every time I feel a lump on the other side. I have a long life ahead of me and I don't want to live it in fear. He said that with all my screening, even if it DID come on the other side, we could catch it early enough. (although, this stage 3 golf ball size lump showed up in less than 6 months from my prior OB exam, so if I am scheduled for 6 month scans and eventually 1 year scans, how can he guarantee that he can catch it any earlier? It obviously is very aggressive when it attacks)

So, I am going to spend the next few months going around and getting other opinions. I might possibly switch surgeons, and might possibly not be with MDA. I just want both breasts gone so I can live with less worry, and have a somewhat decent size and decent looking rack. I have broad shoulders and my ribcage sticks out pretty far, so I can't have anything smaller than a full C or small D cup or I'd look roley poley. Hence, why God made me with the size I have now.....

So, tomorrow, keep me in your prayers, since I am loosing faith in this plastic surgeon, that he can close up this hole without any complications. I go in at 11am and Chris will update my Facebook and Twitter when he hears something.

Thanks for all your prayers during this CRAZY adventure I've been on!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

An quick update

So, Friday night I started to have some stomach pain. I was in a lot of pain through the night. I've had it once before and I thought it was gas. Well, Saturday and Sunday the pain was still there but was subsiding some and coming and going. I had a feeling I needed to get it checked out. So, we headed to the ER late Sunday.

As I lay here in my triage room, they just informed me that my gallbladder was inflamed and had a slight infection from a gallstone that got hung up. (this explains quite a bit of issues I've had for a while). So, they will be removing my gallbladder in a matter of a few hours.

One more organ marked off my list!! At this rate, I'll be skinny in no time as there will be nothing left. Why do we have all these organs that we actually don't need anyways??

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

One Year Later....

One year ago today was the phone call that changed my life. When Dr. Norton called to confirm pathology reports and said "the biopsy results are in....It's cancer."

I remember crying almost all day. Being in that state of shock, not knowing how bad it is, not knowing if you're going to live or die. Chris had come home from work as soon as I called him. Our life as we knew it was forever changed. But, not for the bad.....

Once the initial shock wore off, and I got further testing done and got the "staging" done, my outlook changed. Yes, I was stage 3 (ironically, the new Mustang is a stage 3.....) and they wouldn't give me my "odds" or "percentages", but my life was in MY hands. I found an awesome quote that really helped me;

"If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell." ~ Lance Armstrong

I could choose to give up, or I could fight like Hell! I decided, as always, that I was in charge of my body! Then, I gave that responsibility over to God. He was in control now! I knew there was a reason for this journey, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was.

Now, I know.....
I see myself totally different now. I am strong. I am beautiful because of what's on the inside of me. I am less shy and more talkative. I am an awesome friend. But most importantly, I am many. I used to just think God, my family, my husband, and my kids were the only ones who "truly" loved me. I have seen some love the past year, that's for sure! I had an awesome group of friends who banned together to help me out when I needed it. I had an awesome group of girls who took me out once a week to take my mind off of things. I had friends come in to clean or pay for a cleaning service when I was tired and run down. I had friends who made me laugh. I had friends who brought me coffee, or scheduled a lunch date to keep me occupied. I had friends who drove me to my chemo appointments and kept me company during my drippings. I had friends who drove my kids to their activities, kept them for sleepovers, and had play dates with them so I could rest. I had friends cook hot meals for us and some who brought frozen meals. I had friends who watched Grayson for me during radiation when I had to go every day. I had friends flooding the heavens with prayers for me.....and I never asked for a single thing. They just did it, because they love me. They wouldn't let me say "no".

Yep, I am loved.

Of course, the journey has also brought to light some ugliness, but...again, I have changed. I am a fighter. I removed that negativity from my life and from my family and felt so RELIEVED! Before, I would have caved and felt guilty, somewhat at fault, but knowing that I didn't need that negative energy in my life was so refreshing! I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders, and I never looked back.

I learned that there are more important things in life and I don't sweat the small stuff.

I learned that I can say "no" and not feel guilty about it.

I learned that I love to write, and I'm told I'm pretty inspiring, although I still have a hard time seeing that trait in myself.

I learned that there are "Good friends" and there are "Good-time friends" and I love them all the same.

I learned that people aren't always who you expect them to be.

I learned that there are some people with a really compassionate soul, and there are some without.

I learned that the body is a wonderful thing, and has the ability to heal itself, against all odds.

I learned that when you are vulnerable, with no hair, you have the ability to see people for who they really are, and look past the outer layer of beauty, and inside their soul. People are more transparent than they would like to think they are.

I learned that I can rock a bald head with the best of them.

I learned that my body is just a container for my soul.

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. " ~Eleanor Roosevelt

That's just what I decided to do....look fear in the face and WIN. I gained strength, courage and confidence!

So, today, on my 1 year Survivor birthday, I am celebrating! I am celebrating with my family, I am celebrating with my friends, and I am celebrating LIFE!

My gift to myself....personalized license plates....

And this sign, made by my friend Tiffanie. She makes custom tin signs, and this is the quote I picked that best represented my journey! "Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death"

I thought I would end this post with a special thank you to the special people in my no particular order...
Christopher- my awesome husband, lover, best friend, and the most caring, compassionate man I've ever met. You have been my rock through this journey, and I am so thankful that God brought us together 11 years ago. You are my Ace of Hearts in this poker hand I was dealt. I fought for you, I fought with you by my side, and I fought because of you. I wish everyone was as blessed as I am to have a husband like you. I love what our marriage has become, and I love every part of you, every single day.

My 3 kids, Kaylee (my Ace of Diamonds), Brayden (my Ace of Spades), and Grayson, (my Ace of Clubs) for making me laugh every day and for giving me a reason to fight. I love each of you more and more every day, and you make me so proud! I am so thankful that you have been able to talk about this ugly battle and show your true feelings about it. You saw your Mommy at her worst, and you were always there to make me smile and lift me back up.

God- (my King High in this poker hand I was dealt) my strength, the ultimate healer, and the Almighty.

My Family- Mom, Dad, Jimmy, Karan, Shawn, Kay, Kristy, Steve, Alyssa, Dolly, Luke, Chris and Shawna, and all my beautiful nieces and nephews- thank you for believing in me, supporting me, encouraging me, helping with our kids, feeding us, taking me to appointments, and for all the monetary help you've given us. A Special thank you to Shawn, who decided to revamp one of his companies and donate 50% of the profit to breast cancer research and patient care, and for all of your beautiful pictures you and Kay took during my journey.

My twin cousin Teresa- thank you for coming to Texas to take care of me, my house, my kids, and Chris during my surgery. I loved every minute that you were here, and I wish you would've stayed longer....or for good. I miss you.

My awesome friends- Merci, Renee, Stefanie, Sarah, Crystal, Joyce, Krissy, Mary, Cassandra, Diana, Megin, Lisa, Stephanie, Eva, Shannon, Maria Eugenia, Sarah, Sandra, Crystal, Lisa, Stephanie, Angela, Ann, Becky, Becca, Tiffany, Tiffany, Sandi, Chandel, Dianna, Tarah, Tiffany, Heather, Helen, Jennifer, Kellie, Denise, Kelley, Kristin, Lori, Candy, Tammy, Whitney, Rebecca, Tammie, Molly, and anyone else I may have forgotten- thank you for driving me to appointments, cooking meals for us, cleaning our house, getting me out of the house, taking my kids to places, bringing them home from school, keeping them during my surgery, for giving me massages, pedicures, photo shoots, family haircuts, and watching our kids, for my lunch dates and coffee dates to get me out of the house, for running errands for me, and for the monetary help you gave us. But most importantly, thank you for all of your encouragement, kind uplifting words, and for all the laughs.

My husbands Awesome workplace: Wyman Gordon- thank you so much for all the support you've given to Chris. Financial support, the time off work for my appointments, the ability to let him work from home when needed, and for promoting him and seeing how truly awesome he really is.

To all my friends/family who don't live that close or work full-time, but supported me in spirit, with prayers, emails, and/or monetary donations; Amber, Jodie, Vivian, all my BBC "JuneBug" friends, my BBC "pregnancy & fertility friends", Wendy, Amy, Kelly, Cathy, Bubba, Juanita, Christine, Rodney, Amy, Chuck and Melissa S, Bobby and Mary S, Dana-Susan, Dawna, Chris, Debbie, Heather, Amy, Mary, Anne, Colleen, Deane, Jennifer, Kelsea, Kevin, Linda, Kim, Lesa, Margie, Stacia, Mercy, Michelle, Jesse, Jessa, Rebecca, Sara, Shawna, Stacy, Stephanie, Gina, Molly, Rachel, JoAnn, Alese, Rhonda, and Becky.
Finally- to my "new PINK big sisters" I've met on this journey- you've been such an inspiration to me and helped calm some of my anxiety, and told me how "normal" I am. I am so grateful that we got to meet and share this journey together. Faith, Hope and Joy are just "happy" words to some people, but to us, it means something totally different! I'm so thankful for Moni, Deana, Helen and Mary who gave me such awesome advice and in turn I get to pass it on to my "PINK li'l sisters" Stephanie, Melanie, and whoever else God sends my way.
I hope I got everyone covered. I still have lingering Chemo brain sometimes.
Again, thank you for following and supporting my journey, inspiring me, praying for me, keeping me writing, and keeping my spirits lifted.
Go check your boobies.......

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Replacement.....

Chris' truck was stolen on the 13th of June. They found it on June 22. It had some body damage and they took everything out of it. So, they went ahead and totalled it and he began his search for his mustang. He has been DYING for a Mustang Shelby GT 500 for about 6 years now. It was one of those things that we talked about doing when the kids were older. We were going to keep his truck and get the Mustang as a weekend, cruising, date car. Why??? Because it only holds 4 people and we are a family of FIVE! But, we talked about it and the only other thing he would want is a truck. Well, trucks are REALLY hard to find used in good condition, so we would have probably had to buy a new one. We didn't get very much from insurance because it was a 12 year old truck that was stolen. So, a truck the way he wants them runs about $50,000 brand new. He didn't want a new Mustang because they changed the body style in 2010 (I think) and he says the back tail-lights look like they are smiling at you. So, a used Mustang was WAY more affordable than a new truck. Besides, we have the Suburban as our family car, so the Mustang would just be a date car, drive to work car, and if he went somewhere with only 1 or 2 kids.

I was freaking out about having a second car note. We have only had one car note since before I quit working to be a stay-at-home-mom, 6 years ago. The truck has been paid off since then. Well, as God always has our backs.....Chris got a promotion at work about a month ago. He is now the manager of the 35K press at his company. So, we were looking forward to using the extra income every month to re-plenish our savings account, which has become VERY empty with all of our medical expenses. But, God had other plans and at least he got the promotion before his truck got stolen. His raise was almost the same amount as what the new car note is. Thank you Jesus!!!

So, as we are discussing what to get, if the Mustang was going to be practical, and how we would handle certain drop-off and pick-up situations with the kids, I was, at first, really hesitant of him getting a 4 seater. But, he does deserve his dream car, right? He's been SO absolutely wonderful during this past year especially. I mean, he's great all the time, but this year, he has definitely won the "Husband of the Year" award. How can I say no??? He is the one who works for our income, AND....he has had that truck since before we met. I've had 3 cars in that time because we decided that since I primarily tote the kids around, I need the newer, most dependable car. So, I got on board with his Mustang search.

He found one he LOVED and it was a GREAT price. We were going to drive to San Antonio last Saturday to pick it up. Well, the dealership there sold the car the day before we were supposed to leave. Chris was PISSED!!!!! It was the only Black one we could find within 200 miles and he had his heart set on a black Shelby GT 500. We had told the dealership we were coming to pick it up Saturday, and they said they tried to call us when the other guy (who flew in from California to buy it) showed up. Well, the idiot sales guy (Abel) called Chris' work number 3 times after 5 o'clock, and didn't call our cell phones. I called last Friday and gave the used car manager a piece of my mind. He said "I would've held the car for you if we had just talked to you and you said you were for sure going to buy it. Abel said he called all 3 numbers we had for you"........"I DID TELL YOU WE WERE FOR SURE, AND HE DIDN'T CALL ALL 3 NUMBERS....HE CALLED THE SAME NUMBER 3 TIMES!!!!" I told him my 8 year old could call people better than the idiot who called the same number THREE times.... Told him how bad that reflected on his dealership and that we would NEVER do business with them again. All he did was apologize over and over. Really, what else could he do? You can't just produce a used mustang in black that quickly. But, at least I felt better after chewing his ass out.

So, we began the search all over again. Chris found one he liked at a local dealership (Texas Auto Online) in dark smoke grey. He called about it, and in talking to our salesman, Don Staples, he mentioned that they had just gotten in a Roush Mustang in black. He texted pictures to us and we fell in love with it. I actually like it better than the Shelby because it has shinier wheels, (typical girl response, right?) and it had a lot of modifications done on it. For all you people like me who don't know the difference between a Roush and a Shelby, here is what I've learned.... Shelby is produced by Caroll Shelby exclusively for Ford Mustangs. Jack Roush is a different motor maker who takes a GT and drops his engine in it, signs it, and adds a bunch of other stuff. This one is a Stage 3, which means something with Roush engines that means it costs more money, but to me, stage 3 is my original stage of cancer I was diagnosed with, so it was almost as if this was our "sign" that it was our car. The Roush vs the Shelby is a long time running argument. Each one says they are better, and whichever one you have is the one you argue is better. It's kind of like the argument between a Droid and an iPhone. (iPhone kicks the Droid's ass in my opinion...because I have an iPhone)

I read somewhere that they only produce 100 Roush Mustangs per year. Not sure exactly, but that's what I read somewhere. Anyways, it's really pretty, it's really fast, and he LOVES it. I think he looks super HOTT and SEXY driving it.

So, last Friday, we went and bought the 2007 Roush Mustang GT and drove it home. Don was awesome, we got a great price, and we were in and out of the dealership in about an hour, because they did almost everything over the phone for us. We even worked out the price before we got down there, since we would be getting there so late, and I wanted them to hold it for me so he wouldn't lose another Mustang to someone else.

So, if anyone is ever in the market for a Used higher end car, that is definitely the dealership I would recommend! Go see Don Staples! He Rocks!

Here are some pictures:

There is the car....the replacement. Now I have to find me a trailer to haul my booth setup around in for my craft shows. We always used the truck and my Suburban for that. Gosh, so many memories in the truck.... We will have to make new ones in the Mustang now.