Monday, February 26, 2007

Mon Feb 26th

Hey everyone, first of all let me say thanks to everyone for all their encouraging words over the weekend. I feel much more at ease about going "under the knife". I had a busy weekend which was nice way to get my mind off of things. Jon got home late Friday night so me and the kids went and had pizza with my girlfriend Abbey and her kids. Saturday Jon was busy working on the electrical in our basement with his buddy Seth and I went shopping with my mom in the morning and took Olivia swimming with my friend Courtnee and her boys in the afternoon. Courtnee and Seth's family stayed for dinner and my friend Lanie also stopped by to help set my mind at ease about surgery, something she is all to familiar with. Sunday we went to church and spent time with my parents. Jon and my dad were able to give me a blessing last night and I feel much better today and was able to sleep better last night. All and all very busy and very fun.
Today I was thinking more about going into surgery and having all that time sitting in the hospital and thought of a way I think everyone could help me. I was going to put a little book together with inspirational thoughts. I thought if everyone could think of their favorite inspirational quote, saying, song lyrics, scripture, pretty much anything that inspires you or helps you get through hard times and email it to me at I could print off the emails and have them to look through. Nothing super long so I will have time to get them all together. Sort of a way for all my friends, family, friends of friends, anyone who has followed my blog to be there for me during the not so fun time. If everyone could find a minute to email me that by tomorrow night that would be a tremendous help for me. I love you all very much and don't know what I would do without you. Thank you for everything and be back soon!!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Feb 23rd

"There's nothing like a left threatening illness to make you think about what's important. Even if you're not going to die anytime soon, the thought of the possibility of death is enough to get your mind to focus. You grab on to the things in your life that are a blessing and a privilege to be a part of, and you tend to let go of the things that aren't. Treatment sometimes makes it impossible to enjoy these things- but the hope is that treatment is only temporary."

This is out of a book I started to read a few days ago called The Victoria Secret Catalog never stops coming. Embarking on my mastectomy surgery I thought this might be an amusing read over the next few days. (Thanks Jennifer!) I read this last night and it helped me to relax my mind a bit.
It has been a pretty long week. Jon has been working out of town again and the kids have been pretty well behaved but I am a nervous wreak. I am getting ready for my surgery next Wednesday. I went to Herceptin on Wednesday afternoon and then went and registered Olivia for Kindergarten. I can't believe that she is already old enough to be going to Kindergarten. Yesterday I had my friend Shari offer to come over and help me out with the kids while I ran some errands and went to a doctor's appointment in the afternoon. It is so much easier to do errands without dragging 3 kids in and out of every place that should be a quick stop. I went to see Dr. Tsoi (pronounced Choy) yesterday afternoon. He is a plastic surgeon. I wanted to have a realistic idea of the outcome of my body after all this cancer business. He told me that because I was going to do radiation that the route of reconstruction relying on tissue expander's and an implant probably wasn't going to work for me. Radiation leaves the skin very UN-flexible and hard to work with. He explained that it fries all the blood vessels in the skin. He said that a better route for me to go was to do a TRAM surgery which would transplant tissue from my tummy or my back into my breast area to get the blood circulation back in that area and provide better insulation for an implant. Being that I have about zero extra skin or fat on my tummy he suggested that taking it from my back was a better plan. I was pretty depressed to hear this news. Not only would I have to deal with healing around my breast but also in the area where the tissue is transplanted. Not to mention the giant scars it would leave in both places. Also the fact that the skin is a different color in those areas than it is in your breast. He also used the analogy that reconstruction surgery using transplanted tissue is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Meaning I could have other complications in the area that tissue is taken from while trying to use those muscles that are no longer there. We watched a short video about reconstruction. (I love that all the women in these brochures and videos are at least 50) We also got to see pictures of other patients that have gone through the procedures. That was a treat. They are reconstructed so they look normal with clothes on, without is a different story. They look almost Frankenstein-ish. 2 different skin tones, scars everywhere. Women who were able to go the expander and implant route looked a million times better in my opinion. The goal is to appear normal over clothes but I just hadn't prepared myself enough I guess to look so different. I was so angry and depressed after leaving his office. I hate what cancer has done to me and what it is still going to be taking away from me! I guess you can't always have good days. I am still not having 2nd thoughts on doing the mastectomy, I just wish that I could face this part of my treatment thinking that I would still look OK in the end, maybe not great but not like Frankenstein. I am going to go and get a 2nd opinion after I start my radiation and they can see a little better what to expect with the skin damage from radiation. The one good news that I received was that I would only have to wait 6 months to start reconstruction (after radiation) and not a full year. Needless to say I am still feeling rather bummed and depressed today and now that much more nervous about my surgery that is only 5 days away. Leave me a comment and cheer me up!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sun Feb 18th

Wow, what a long week! And it is about to start all over again. Jon was out of town in Salida all week and he is leaving again tomorrow to go to Shiprock Falls, New Mexico coming back this Friday. Monday and Tuesday were pretty uneventful and Wednesday I was able to go and help out in Olivia's preschool class. They did a valentine exchange and Olivia was pretty excited to be able to do show and tell. We had a good time together. It's a bummer I had to miss out on getting to help out during the first part of the year. I went in and did my Herceptin on Wednesday afternoon and they also started doing a blood draw to measure my tumor markers. From what the nurse said they measure protein levels in my blood and they are drawn on a regular basis. They will follow the trend in those levels and hopefully be able to determine if my body is forming other tumors elsewhere in the body. That is the general idea anyway. My mom was nice enough to have me and the kids over for dinner on Wednesday and gave me a little bit of a break from dealing with meal time alone. Let me just say I am so glad I am not a single mom with 3 kids. I don't know how people do that single parent thing. It is hard! Thursday I was able to meet up with a gal named Shari that has a daughter that attends the same preschool as Olivia that was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The kids played and we were able to visit. It was neat to be able to exchange experiences with her because she has already had her mastectomy and just started chemo. She was able to share surgery stuff with me and I was able to share chemo stories with her. It has been wonderful to meet so many amazing people because of this disease. (even though the circumstances are pretty crappy) I waited around Thursday afternoon for the cable guy, the infamous between 1pm and 5pm appointment time. What a joke. He finally called at 4:45 and said he was 2o min away. He ended up running into some problems and didn't end up leaving until 7:15. I did get my DVR at the end of all that mess though so that is exciting. I always seem to miss my shows or mess up the recording on the VCR. Friday it was incredibly windy and then started snowing in the late afternoon. I am so sick of this weather. It is depressing. Jon got home on Friday afternoon. We went to a church activity on Friday night. It was a valentine's activity just for adults and was fun to get to know some other couples in our ward. Saturday morning Jon's parents came and picked up Olivia. They took her up to Estes Park for the day and kept her overnight so Jon and I could get away for the evening. My parents watched the twins overnight for us. We went down to Denver for dinner with our friends Aislinn and Desi and also Vernon and Kira. We ate in Lower Downtown at an Italian restaurant called Maggiano's Little Italy. It was so delicious. It was a ton of fun to hang out with friends and just get away for a bit since I hadn't seen Jon all week. Here is a picture of the 6 of us at dinner.

After dinner we went to a dueling piano bar called sing sing. The piano players there are amazing and they can play pretty much anything you request. Aislinn and Kira put in a request to try and get me up on stage and have them play "I'm to Sexy" but instead the piano players asked me to come up there with a bunch of other people that had birthdays or anniversaries and do the Hokey Pokey in front of everyone. It was embarrassing but pretty funny.

Aislinn, Desi, Jon, and I also went dancing at Polly Esther's afterwards. They played 80's music and it was pretty funny to just hang out and be silly grooving to the 80's. The 4 of us stayed down in Denver overnight. It was a good way to take my mind off all the thoughts and stress of the week. We took some other pictures and I have some new pictures of the kids on my snapfish link.

I am pretty nervous about my surgery. I have been taking Ambien at night to try and sleep and not lay awake thinking about it. I still feel that having the mastectomy is the right choice for me and have felt that personal revelation from Heavenly Father. I feel at peace with this when I pray about it. I know the lord is watching over me and I have faith that I am doing the right thing, but I am still scared to live the reality of going through with it. I am scared to look different, to deal with the pain, to deal with multiple reconstructive surgeries, pretty much scared of ever aspect of it. My husband used a good analogy earlier when we had our home teachers over and were discussing it. He said that faith is like walking into a dark cave and having a candle in your hand and only being able to see the small part of the cave directly in front of you. I have to take my faith (my candle) and put my trust in that and know that while I only see the light directly in front of me, the lord is able to see everything. Even though I am scared to go through with it I have to put my trust in the lord and know that he will be there every step of the way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Feb 11th

So amidst my stressful last few days I have neglected to remind everyone of buddy check 9 day. It has come and gone but still sending out the monthly reminder telling everyone it is time to do your monthly self breast exam!
I went in to see my oncologist on Friday. I am so confused right now. She asked if my surgeon was surprised at my MRI results seeing as how they cannot detect anything signs of cancer any longer. I told her that yes he was but that I had still decided to go ahead with the mastectomy. She was very surprised and just said, "You are, but why??" When I explained my worries about getting breast cancer again later she said that if I was going to have one based on that theory that I should go ahead and do a double mastectomy because I had just as much of a risk of getting it on the left side as the right. I hadn't really thought about it that way, but it makes perfect sense. She said that I could always do the lumpectomy now and then have a mastectomy surgery after 5 years. In her way of thinking, over the next 5 years I have a much greater risk of the cancer that I already have coming back in a far away place in my body, most likely my lungs or liver, and not my breast. Not having a 2nd breast cancer develop. In my mind I am thinking that since it is not able to be found currently in my breast and it is gone, why would it come back somewhere else? And even after the next 5 years, I am in a higher risk group of getting a 2nd breast cancer. Since I am hoping to live longer than 5 years I would rather just have the mastectomy now and not be thinking about having it in 5 years when I am healthy. Just get it over with now. She also said that since I would have to wait to do reconstruction for 1 year that I could always have the left mastectomy done when I go in for reconstruction so they could just place the tissue expanders in at the same time of surgery on that side. I am still thinking about doing that. I am just confused because the surgeon and the oncologist both said either choice was okay and then it seemed she was disappointed that I chose the mastectomy. She just said, I don't think you realize what your getting yourself into with reconstruction after radiation. It is a long, hard, and painful road to do reconstruction and you are never going to look the same again. She did leave saying that again, I needed to choose the right thing for me and what she may choose for her might be different then what I would choose for me in the same circumstances. I liked it better when they just said, this is what you have to do. I know it is going to be a long road still after surgery but I would rather just do it now and get it over with then wait 10 or how ever many years down the road and get breast cancer again. It isn't like they know what caused all this in the first place so I can't really avoid whatever it is that caused it all. If I have already had it once, who's to say I won't get it again. No thanks! I will take my chances of not having "nice breasts" then not being around for my kids or even grandkids. So I have still made up my mind to go ahead with the mastectomy despite all the ups and downs of the week. Now I just have to wait the 2 and a 1/2 weeks for the big day. How exactly do you carry on without being totally nervous and stressed about that?? I guess a lot of Ambien, huh? Jon will be working out of town in Salida again this coming week and then somewhere in New Mexico the following week so he will be here the week I have surgery. Hopefully my kids will be on their best behavior for me for the next little bit. I can hope at least :-)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thurs Feb 8th

Yesterday my hair started falling out again, the peach fuzz more like. It usually starts falling out right before I go in again for treatment so it was right on time. At least from now on I know I will get to get everything I grow from this point on, right? I also have another big canker sore between my gums and cheek. Ouch, but not as bad as the one on the tip of my tongue.
I talked to the surgeon Dr. Chiavetta today. He also told me that I could do either surgery and that since my case was very unique that he would feel comfortable with either treatment for me. Since I am so young and my tumor was so large to start out with, he said they don't have a lot of scientific evidence that one option is any better than the other. In my way of thinking I am still going with the aggressive treatment so I can look back and have no regrets if I do have breast cancer again later in life. I am going to have a simple mastectomy done on the right side. I will have surgery on the 28th of February have have to stay overnight at Poudre Valley Hospital. I will go in to radiology that morning and they will inject a radioactive substance into the previous tumor site that will help them identify the sentinel lymph node. Then at noon I will go ahead with the surgery. The surgeon said that I will have a drain in the surgical site for about 2 weeks to drain off fluid that collects in that area. I don't have any set limitations, he said that I was allowed to do anything that felt comfortable and not to really expect to be lifting for about a week. I will have a small incision under my arm where the lymph nodes will be removed and then a horizontal incision across my breast. I have fasted and prayed about this decision and feel like it is the right one for me, but at the same point it hasn't made it any easier to accept. The thought of it all is much easier that the reality of having the discussion with the surgeon and setting a date.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tues Feb 6th

My girlfriend Alyssa just emailed me about this new Josh Groban song, You are loved. What a feel good song. So I decided to put it on my blog to share with everyone. I am doing well this week and think I will be able to go to Olivia's preschool class and parent help for the FIRST time this year. I am so excited. It is a bummer that I have had to miss out on that time with her. The rest of my week is full of Dr. appointments. My annual tomorrow (yipee), surgeon on Thurs, and the Onc on Friday. I get to have my monthly massage on Thursday also though so that will be awesome. Also all the new season's shows start this week LOST and Survivor, I am both addicted too. We have had two days that have reached over the 40 degree mark and the snow is finally starting to melt~ a little. My neighbor down the street emailed me this about the weather this morning and I thought it was comical:

60 above zero: Floridians turn on the heat. People in Colorado plant gardens.
50 above zero: Californians shiver uncontrollably. People in Denver sunbathe.
40 above zero: Italian & English cars won't start. People in Colorado drive with the windows down.
32 above zero: Distilled water freezes. The water in Golden gets thicker.
20 above zero: Floridians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats. People in Colorado throw on a flannel shirt.
15 above zero: New York landlords finally turn up the heat. People in Colorado have the last cookout before it gets cold. Zero: People in Miami all die. Denverites close the windows.
10 below zero: Californians fly away to Mexico. People in Colorado get out their winter coats.
25 below zero: Hollywood disintegrates. The Girl Scouts in Colorado are selling cookies door to door.
40 below zero: Washington DC runs out of hot air. People in Colorado let the dogs sleep indoors. 100 below zero: Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. Denverites get upset because they can't start the Mini-Van.
460 below zero: ALL atomic motion s tops (absolute zero on the Kelvin scale.) People in Colorado start saying..."Cold 'nuff fer ya?"
500 below zero: Hell freezes over. Denver public schools will open 2 hours late.

I also wanted to pass on an email I received about the new breast cancer stamp:

THE STAMP Please read the following story and follow the instructions at the end! Thank You . Like most elementary schools, it was typical to have a parade of students in and out of the health clinic throughout the day. We dispensed ice for bumps and bruises, Band-Aids for cuts, and liberal doses of sympathy and hugs. As principal, my office was right next door to the clinic, so I often dropped in to lend a hand and help out with the hugs. I knew that for some kids, mine might be the only one they got all day.One morning I was putting a Band-Aid on a little girl's scraped knee. Her blond hair was matted, and I noticed that she was shivering in her thin little sleeveless blouse. I found her a warm sweatshirt and helped her pull it on. "Thanks for taking care of me," she whispered as she climbed into my lap and snuggled up against me. It wasn't long after that when I ran across an unfamiliar lump under my arm. Cancer, an aggressively spreading kind, had already invaded thirteen of my lymph nodes. I pondered whether or not to tell the students about my diagnosis. The word breast seemed so hard to say out loud to them, and the word cancer seemed so frightening.When it became evident that the children were going to find out one way or another, either the straight scoop from me or possibly a garbled version from someone else, I decided to tell them myself. It wasn't easy to get the words out, but the empathy and concern I saw in their faces as I explained it to them told me I had made the right decision. When I gave them a chance to ask questions, they mostly wanted to know how they could help. I told them that what I would like best would be their letters, pictures and prayers. I stood by the gym door as the children solemnly filed out. My little blond friend darted out of line and threw herself into my arms. Then she stepped back to look up into my face. "Don't be afraid, Dr. Perry," she said earnestly, "I know you'll be back because now it's our turn to take care of you." No one could have ever done a better job. The kids sent me off to my first chemotherapy session with a hilarious book of nausea remedies that they had written. A video of every class in the school singing get-well songs accompanied me to the next chemotherapy appointment. By the third visit, the nurses were waiting at the door to find out what I would bring next. It was a delicate music box that played "I Will Always Love You." Even when I went into isolation at the hospital for a bone marrow transplant, the letters and pictures kept coming until they covered every wall of my room. Then the kids traced their hands onto colored paper, cut them out and glued them together to make a freestanding rainbow of helping hands. "I feel like I've stepped into Disneyland every time I walk into this room," my doctor laughed. That was even before the six-foot apple blossom tree arrived adorned with messages written on paper apples from the students and teachers. What healing comfort I found in being surrounded by these tokens of their caring. At long last I was well enough to return to work. As I headed up the road to the school, I was suddenly overcome by doubts. What if the kids have forgotten all about me? I wondered, What if they don't want a skinny bald principal? What if. I caught sight of the school marquee as I rounded the bend. "Welcome Back, Dr. Perry," it read. As I drew closer, everywhere I looked were pink ribbons - ribbons in the windows, tied on the doorknobs, even up in the trees. The children and staff wore pink ribbons, too. My blond buddy was first in line to greet me. "You're back, Dr. Perry, you're back!" she called. "See, I told you we'd take care of you!" As I hugged her tight, in the back of my mind I faintly heard my music box playing . . . "I will always love you."
We need those of you who are great at forwarding on information with your e-mail network. Please read and pass this on. It would be wonderful if 2007 were the year a cure for breast cancer was found!!!! This is one email you should be glad to pass on. The notion that we could raise $35 million by buying a book of stamps is powerful! As you may be aware, the US Postal Service recently released its new "Fund the Cure" stamp to help fund breast cancer research. The stamp was designed by Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland. It is important that we take a stand against this disease that affects so many of our Mothers, Sisters and Friends. Instead of the normal 37 cents for a stamp, this one costs 40 cents The additional 3 cents will go to breast cancer research A "normal" book costs $7.40. This one is only $8.00. It takes a few minutes in line at the Post Office and means so much. If all stamps are sold, it will raise an additional $35,000,000 for this vital research. Just as important as the money is our support. What a statement it would make if the stamp outsold the lottery this week. What a statement it would make that we care. I urge you to do two things TODAY: 1. Go out and purchase some of these stamps. 2. E-mail your friends to do the same. Many of us know women and their families whose lives are turned upside-down by breast cancer. It takes so little to do so much in this drive. We can all afford the $0.60. Please help & pass it on.

Hope everyone is having a good day!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday Feb 2nd

Hi there and hello all. It's kinda exciting to say I really don't have much to report this week. I have been feeling better and better every day this week and that is always nice. Not quite back to feeling 100% but I will take 85% any day lately. Jon was working near town this week (Boulder) during the day which has been nice to have him home at night. We went out to the Carousel Dinner theatre last Saturday night for Jon's birthday and saw The Music Man. It was a fun show to watch and we had a pretty good time.
I went to Herceptin on Wednesday which only takes about an hour so that is a nice switch. I also found out that the results from my MRI are great. They didn't even find any traces of anything on my right side. I will now be waiting to speak to my surgeon on the 8th about what kind of surgery I am going to have. I am still leaning towards doing a mastectomy on the right side just because I am young and would be so mad at myself if I did get it again and hadn't been aggressive in trying to get rid of it the first time around. I never want to have to go through this again, and I want to do everything in my power to make sure that I don't.
Jon is working on plumbing in the basement tonight and is going to try and get the framing all done this weekend. A little at a time I suppose. It will be nice when we have it finished and have the space for this kids to spread out. The twins room is a nightmare by the time the two cribs are stuffed in there, a dresser, and all their toys there is barley any room to walk around. We went to my nephew's first birthday party this evening. We had pizza for dinner and so far one of my nephews has gotten sick and Olivia has been sick twice since eating. That darn cheese pizza. The twins wouldn't even eat it. I was mad at the time but am now thanking my lucky stars that I don't have 3 kiddos throwing up. Nothing else too exciting to report.