Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When you knock on death's door, ring the doorbell and run. He HATES that!

Yesterday was my FIVE year anniversary out from breast cancer! FIVE YEARS!! I can't believe it. I've said it over and over in my mind and it still sounds crazy! I still knock on wood everytime I say it. The medical world says "I'm cured" at the five year mark. I don't dare say such a thing. That would be like tempting the Cancer Gods. Don't want to go there (again).

The top five things I have learned from this journey:

1. Relationships really ARE what it is all about!
2. God really does hear and answer prayers!
3. Each day really is a gift!
4. I love and appreciate my husband and children more than I thought possible.
5. What doesn't kill you really does make you stronger!

I can't even begin to thank those people in my life who have helped me along the way. Friends, neighbors, family, church members, doctors, nurses, co-workers, and kind strangers. My life has forever changed. I will never be the same.

I have learned volumes about myself and those around me. I have learned I am married to the man of my dreams who has stuck by me through better and worse, richer and poorer, and through sickness and through health. I have learned what is important in a marriage. Commitment, a sense of humor, unconditional love, and a man who will hold your barf bowl and say you are still the woman of his dreams even when you are bald. Who could ask for a truer man?

I have learned my children grow way too fast to spend too much time sleeping! Enjoying the small things in life are more precious that anything money can buy. Being home with them instead of chasing my own dreams has panned out to be the best decision of my life.

I have learned I have made life long friends who will stick by through the thick and the thin. I am surrounded by amazing people with hearts of gold and great senses of humor.

I have learned empathy for those who suffer physically and emotionally and the importnace of serving them, especially when prompted to do so. I have learned over and over again that I am blessed with good parents and a loving family.

And finally, I have gained a greater understanding of the atonement, it's purpose, and why I need it. I have learned more deeply there is a loving Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ who loves me and wants me to be happy.

This post closes this chapter of my life...My Journey through Breast Cancer. Thank you for your faith, prayers and encouragement through what was at times the darkest days of my life.

Signing off...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hello There!

I wanted to write a little something tonight! I have been doing really well. Next month will be my 4 year marker out from Breast Cancer (knock on wood). I truely am grateful and amazed that I am here. I haven't written much about my job...but it is something that is so rewarding to me.

I work for my Oncology office as a Patient Advocate helping other cancer patients. I assist them in finding outside community resources and finacial assistance while going throought cancer treatment. I also help them with the psychosocial issues of having cancer. I have worked in the mental health field for 12+ years and have survived cancer. This position has been a great opportunity to combine both experiences and give back.

It is one of those jobs you look forward to going to each day. When I feel sorry for myself or am not feeling well...I go back to infusion and talk with the patients getting chemo. It helps me keep a perspective that is so easy to lose in self pity.

I have also been asked to help with the Idaho Falls Cancer Survivor Celebration Day which is also a Run/Walk to raise money for our foundation. We are planning some exciting things I think will benifit the cancer survivors in our own community! I also get to head up the Relay for Life for our office this year. There are so many great people I work with that go above and beyond to help people in their personal struggle with cancer. They are amazing to watch. They inspire me to do better.

I have learned so much and I enjoy helping others. To give back after recieving such compassion fills my soul. And the best part is I get to be home by 3 pm to get my girls off the school bus and make cookies and do homework. I am blessed, no doubt!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bye Bye Boobies...

What a summer this has been. I decided after three years of living in terror that I would have a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. I was hardly prepared for the change, let alone the pain and trauma I experienced. I am still not sure I can say "I'm glad I did it". But, I feel grateful that my risk of both a recurrence or another primary breast cancer has been significantly reduced! I think if I would have known before hand what difficult these surgeries have been...I know I wouldn't have done it. Maybe my ignorance was a blessing is disguise.

For most of my teenage and adult life I have needed a breast reduction. After treatment for breast cancer I also needed reconstruction to even out the size of my breasts. After much deliberation with my oncologist, my surgeon and my plastic surgeon...We came to the conclusion that If I was going to have reconstruction and a reduction....why not take out all the breast tissue and build from the ground up. I have truly been living in terror of getting caner again. Anyone who has had it can testify about the fear that lingers in the back of your mind and strikes at times with the greatest of force. The fear can be immobilizing.

Although I realize that by having bilateral mastectomies has not reduced my risk of a distant recurrence, I feel like I have done everything I can possible do. I also had a hysterectomy with ovaries this past February. By not having ovaries also reduces my risk of cancer. It has been a hard year on my body. I have one more surgery to remove the spacers and put in the final implants. I am dreading it...trying to block it off. But I know I've got to do it!
There are so many things I want to write about, but I need to get some sleep! Goodnight.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Remember the TV Adds 10 pounds!

Last week I was able to be part of an interview with the local news station regarding the new Snake River Cancer Alliance. The alliance is a non-profit group designed to assist cancer patients with needs not tradionally met by their health care providers.

Here is the online blurb about it:

Eye on Idaho
YouNewsTV™
Story Published: Oct 22, 2007 at 9:48 AM MST
Story Updated: Nov 13, 2007 at 8:08 AM MST
By Steve Cannon
Eye on Idaho, A half-hour program featuring subjects and people involved in the issues and activities of importance to Channel 3 viewers. Produced and Hosted by television veteran Steve Cannon. If you have a story idea for an Eye On Idaho segment, email
Steve Cannon

Sunday, November 18th - Cancer...a word that brings fear and anxiety to everyone. When you're diagnosed with this deadly disease, where can you turn for support? Join Steve as he welcomes members of the Snake River Cancer Alliance to Eye on Idaho. Learn more about this newly formed cancer support group and find out how you can help!ONLY on Channel 3 Eyewitness News-Watching Out for You!!

I think we were able to get the word out to people here in Easter Idaho about the importance of support for cancer patients and their loved ones. It feels good to be apart of something I feel so passionate about. I think a lot of good can be done and I am excited to have a small part in it.

Just remember...the TV adds 10 pounds :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Amazing Women

Tonight my heart is deeply saddened by the passing of a dear friend who helped me through my own journey through cancer. Lori Miller from Califorina died October 27nd from cancer. Lori was an amazing woman who inspired and encourged many with her openness and candor through her battle. My deepest condolences to her loving husband Cary in his time of such great loss and sorrow. Lori, you will be missed! http://toosexyformyhair.com/

My heart goes out to those battleing this wicked disease. My deepest sympathies reach to those who have lost loved ones to cancer. Wendi Bridges, at age 38 has also passed from this life at the young age of 38 after losing her battle with metitastic breast cancer. A woman I did not know personally, but shared very similar circumstances with.

As I reflect on these courageous woman I once again am reminded that each day truely is a gift. Each minute I spend with my beautiful girls and wonderful husband are just that...gifts. I want to make a difference and help those who are facing this disease. But, mostly I just want to live each day to the fullest and get from it the things I need to learn. Hopefully giving back.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Another Biopsy...Blaa

Hi Again, it has been a while since I last blogged. So much has happened....so much. My health is good, at least right this minute. I have had quite a summer though. I was in the ER a month ago with diverticulitis. Now I have to go in for a colonoscopy....bummer huh!

I also had to have another biopsy last week. This one was a surgical biopsy. Luckily my surgeon was able to do it in the office as an outpatient procedure! I went in for my scheduled mammogram and they found changes in my breast tissue. I knew something was wrong when they took too long reading the films. Then they came in and said they wanted to do an ultrasound. I tried not to freak out. They scheduled a needle biopsy. Then the day of the biopsy, my oncologist called and said the radiologist wanted to do a surgical biopsy instead of a needle one. It was upsetting and emotionally draining. I wish I could just "roll with it" a little better, but the fear takes over. It is all consuming. I did get the results back very quickly and they were all negative for cancer!! YEAH!!

A dear friend of mine said something that made me look at all this health crap in a little different light. She said, "Maybe God is blessing you by letting you look inside your body and not finding cancer". It has been a great relief to have to get so many scans and surgeries and have not have anything comeback abnormal. That really is a blessing!

I do believe all the chemo I had to do has caused havoc on my organs. Things just don't work the same. I am learning (slowly) to take better care of myself and treat my body like is should be treated. It has been a long, long process. I am facing these health changes with baby steps, instead of this all-or-nothing mentality. I am grateful I have the time to learn the lessons I haven't quiet gotten yet! I am still here learning.

Since it is October, which Breast Cancer Awareness Month...I want to put my plug in there, especially for those young women who might be concerned. I had yet another friend under age 40 diagnosed with breast cancer this past month. She had a similar story to mine in which she kept going to her doctor and was put off until it was too late. The cancer had spread to her lymph system and further treatment is now necessary. Ladies, you KNOW your bodies! If your doctors put you off and treat you like a "whiney woman"...find someone who will listen! Get to the bottom of it~

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

To Stress, Or Not To Stress...There Is No Question.

I was ornery and stressed out tonight. My girls were overtired and would not go to bed. It was like herding cats trying to get them inside. They were in their swimming suits (which they have worn daily all summer) with little chocolate covered faces from the cremecicles the neighbor offered them right before bed.

The whining and screaming seemed unbearable tonight. I told (more like demanded) my husband put them to bed...I was taking a shower. I even shaved my legs to make it last a little longer.

Of course, they were still awake and whining when I got out of the shower. I tried to be loving and patient. I laid by my youngest in attempts to get her to go to sleep. I even sang lullabies...didn't work. Finally, I got up and left. My six year old was screaming she was scared. I started screaming there was nothing to be scared of. Although I was thinking..."if you don't quit crying, it's me you had better be scared of".

I went to sit in the living room to read (my own little time out). My six year old came in and continued to cry about being scared. I saw the pleading in her eyes. Something inside me said..."hold her". It clicked inside me, "this time will pass and I will never get it back again". I told her to come and sit on my lap. I held her and told her I loved her. I told her I was proud of her and I was proud to be her Mom. I told her I was sorry for yelling at her. She said, "it's okay Mom, I love you too...and I am glad to be your favorite six year old ever". Something amazing happened. As I calmed down, she calmed down.

I rocked her to sleep and ran my fingers through her hair. I thought to myself how much I missed holding her. Why don't I get it? I have had cancer and I still don't get it. I can never go back and I will never have this moment again. Tears rolled down my face as I thought of all the things I let slide by without enjoying them as much as I could. Stressing over stupid stuff that really does not matter.

This life is limited, I could be gone tomorrow. Would my life really matter if my girls could only remember an ornery, yelling mom? I want them to remember a mom who rocks them to sleep and tells them how much they are loved. I had one of those "cancer reality checks" tonight. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The "Gall" of Some People

Here I am again recovering from surgery. I had my gallbladder removed a couple of weeks ago. Apparently I had chronic inflammation of my gallbladder and a gallstone the size of Texas. Okay, the size of a marble, but it felt like Texas! I am still on the mend, but doing much better! I keep getting these "old people diseases". I mean "come on already"!

A few weeks ago I called my oncology office and told them I was having pain on my right side, up under my ribs. They referred me to have my gallbladder ruled out as the problem. I went in for an ultrasound. The gallstone was very apparent. My Oncologist called with the results. He said "no wonder you've been in pain you have a 1.5 cm stone in there"..."you could have that huge rock set". It made me laugh.

I was incredibly relieved to hear it was JUST my gallbladder!! Especially since the pain was coming from the area of my liver. I was terrified it was the cancer gone to my liver. My husband tells everyone I am the only person he knows who was happy to get their gallbladder out!

I went to my surgeon Dr. Judy Jones. She is wonderful and very thorough! She had not seen me for about a year and still remembered minuet details about my health and body. Now that is a good doctor.

I do have to say, having surgery this time of year kind of freaked me out! This is the exact time I was diagnosed. I even had the same nurses. It was a little too reminiscent of two years ago! I fully expected a call from Dr. Jones with a bad pathology report...but it all came back clear for cancer!

I had my three month check up this week with my fab Dr. Shull. Things are still looking good and there doesn't seem to be a worry about anything particular at the moment (THANK GOODNESS).

My back pain has dissipated considerably! Apparently the gallbladder issue can cause a radiating pain to the back. Go figure~ I also went in for my post-op appointment and everything looked to be healing how it is suppose to. I was told to take it easier and rest...yeah, how do you do that with little kids?? I threw my baby a Strawberry Shortcake Birthday party for her 4th birthday. It went fabulous...thanks to my dear friend Carrie!!! She put it together before my surgery so I didn't have to worry about it! What a friend!

I have been enjoying my girls this summer. They are growing and changing at an incredible rate. I constantly reflect on the miracles in my life. I am grateful for each day I have with my family. Life is still difficult. I still have my trials, my temptations, and my hang-ups. But, I am still here to work on them…and that is what I am doing. Grateful to be here~

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I'm Famous


Okay...maybe not famous, famous...but I am in an awesome magazine article for breast cancer survivors! It's called Beyond: Live & Thrive After Breast Cancer. It is the Spring/Summer 2007 issue. You can find it at Walmart and other fine retailers :)


I'm in the first article called "Recording the Journey" (found on page 12). I'm in the paragraph under EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION...yes, that's me... Dana Hyer Whiting, the 33 year old mother who battled breast cancer! The article is about journaling and emotional healing. The article sites my blog (after all, that is how I was discovered:) and how I used it to get through cancer.

I was thrilled with the article and the message it gave. You will have to check it out if you get a chance. Feel free to cut it out, laminate it, and put it in a very safe place (ha ha). The magazine has some very interesting articles...but mine is the best!

I am doing well. My health appears to be stable at the moment! For that I am grateful! The other morning I was awake early, lying in bed. It was about 5 am and I could hear the birds chirping and I could smell the fresh spring air. I was cuddled next to my wonderful husband and I started crying. It hit again me how lucky I am to be alive! Statistics say I should probably be dead, but I'm not! At that moment I realized how truly blessed I am!

It really is the little things in life that matter. Watching your kid's facial expressions as they watch their favorite cartoon. Your cat cuddled up next to you purring. A good laugh with a girlfriend. An afternoon nap. A Diet Coke with lemon. A husband who cooks dinner when you're too tired. When your child gives you a kiss and says "you're the best Mom ever". Really, does it get better than that?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

So, She's a Miracle

This has been an interesting and emotional week. I went into my 3-month oncology appointment. I was somewhat nervous to go since I have been having some back pain that has not let up. Somewhere I was told if you are having symptoms, the rule of thumbs is 10 days, then you need to report them to your oncologist. Bone mets are a common form of metastasis’s...so needless to say the anxiety level was up just a tad.

I went in to my appointment. My wonderful Dr. Shull got "call up to serve his country" and is now in California for the next 90 days. He has a different doctor who joined his practice, and it was my first visit with him. My husband and I were waiting for this new doctor to come in and we could hear the nurse practitioner telling the doctor about my case and my cancer information. I could hear his reply, which was something like..."so it's a miracle she is here". Those words have echoed through my head all weekend. I truly do believe in miracles. I have felt very weepy and emotional today. It has made me reflect on that miracle.


I did have to go in for yet again another MRI on my spinal column and have the bone pain checked out. As much as I need to "know" what is going on and I feel so grateful for such measures they have to check for cancer growth...it is very stressful and terrifying. This "round" felt particularly scary and anxiety provoking. I also had my breast cancer tumor markers drawn.

I tried to put it out of my mind until my appointment to review the tests results on Monday. My gracious Nurse Practitioner who works with my Oncologist called me on Saturday afternoon. She said she was doing some dictating and came across my test results and the finding of my MRI. She reported they were all within normal limits and the scan showed no sign of metastasis.

I can't begin to tell you the emotional let down that happened. I was so grateful she had called and given me the results knowing how difficult it is to wait for something like that. I immediately started bawling and went and told my husband. I then got on my knees and thanked my Father in Heaven for giving me yet more time to raise my children and work at being a better person. My five year old had a difficult time that I was crying and happy at the same time. I tried to explain that Mommy was crying tears of joy and relief...happy tears. On and off al weekend I have been teary...and she'll say, "Mom, are those Happy Tears?"

I have reflected much about this journey I started nearly 2 years ago. I bore my testimony at church today about the power of healing and of miracles. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in healing. And I believe I have more to do on this earth, I need to raise my girls, I need to make my marriage even stronger, and I need to overcome many things that will make me stronger and wiser. For that time...I am grateful. After having had cancer, I do feel a sense of urgency to my life...not fear...just a sense of getting things done, telling people you love them, making things right, enjoying the small and simple day to day things. Getting organized.
Some days I like to just forget and live "normally"...but that really is no longer an option. I am changed. BUT…just for today…I DO NOT HAVE CANCER.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I'm Back to Blogging



It has been a very long time and I didn't think I would return to blogging...especially about my experiences with breast cancer and being a survivor. But, sometimes writing is the only way for me to "get it out of my head". I worry about this dread disease. It is overwhelming and depressing at times. Talking to others about my day to day fears and concerns is quit a conversation killer. Let's face it...who wants to hear about cancer all the time. There are days I can block it out and even long stretches of time where I try and live in the here and now. Then I am sucked back into the vortex of despair.


My back has been hurting and I fear telling my oncologist next week at my three-month check up. I hate going through all the tests and terror of wondering..."is IT back"? My thoughts lately have been. WHY? WHY ME? Why did I feel like having children was so important and so right...when I may never get to raise them? If I got cancer again, chances are they won't even remember me. My influence may never remain with them. That is such a sad and depressing thought that crashes over me with such intensity.


I have a mental list of all the things I want to take care of should I meet an early demise. One of those things was getting my portraits done with my family. I have never had my picture taken with my beautiful girls...mostly because I have gained weight the past several years. I kept thinking..."when I lose the weight I will do it". Truth is...it doesn't matter what I look like...it matters I have something for my girls to remember me by. So we did it...and they turned out beautifully. They are a treasure to me. A daily reminder of how blessed I am.

Another change I have made is, I quit my job and I stay home with my girls full-time. It has been an adjustment, but I feel so lucky to be with them. I realized I might never get this time back with my kids. Nothing else matters. It was a leap of faith for me because of the decrease in income, but we have been blessed and my girls are doing so well. The other day I was asking my 5 year old what her favorite part of the day was. She said "it was when I got off the bus and I saw it was you picking me up Mom". That makes it all worth it right there.

Another change has happened. I have been facing the diet demon. My oncologist told me there is new research on my specific cancer that says by decreasing my fat intake to below 20% per day can actually decrease my chances of reoccurrence by almost 60%. It was like a brick hit me on the head. For the last month or so, I have been eating a very low-fat, healthy, balanced diet. I also exercise several times a week and I have lost eleven pounds to date. Last year, I wasn't physically or mentally to do what I needed to do to get my health back. But now, I am in a completely different frame of mind. I am motivated to increase my chances of living and fighting cancer...simply by what I put in my mouth. I also feel better. Amazing...Duh Dana!

My parents came and visited this week. It was so good to visit with them. They are such an inspiration to me and such amazing role models of stable, righteous people. They are wise and caring people. I love them to be around my children who don't get to see them much due to distance. It warms my heart when I see them interacting with my girls and loving them like I do. I am so grateful for them...for good family. For laughter.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's Been A While

Wow, it's been some time since I last wrote. We bought a new house and have been painting and moving. Exhausting, yet fulfilling. I feel so grateful to be a live. Last year at this time I had just went bald from chemotherapy and was sick as a dog. I feel grateful I am in a much different place. So grateful.

We went to Relay for Life last week and "cancer" seemed like a lifetime a go. Part of me wants to forget , the other knows..."Lest we forget". I know I can't forget, I can't let go. Such a turning point in my life, yet part of me wants to "get back to normal". I also know cancer could easily be back in my life tomorrow.

Somehow, I have managed to come to grips with my future and the uncertainty of it all. I think. We are suing the women's clinic that failed to diagnose me for over a year. We had our pre-litigation screening Monday. I thought I would be fine...until the attorney talked about my chance of reoccurrence. I started bawling...the fear and anger returned so quickly. I know going through this legal stuff will be hard. I am trying so desperately to "let go and let God". When I do, I feel peace and contentment. I realize now I cannot control the future. I just have to live the best I can.

My faith has increased. I will go on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Deon's Cakes

I had to post this...it was too funny. Deon was my chemo buddy who has become a dear friend for life. It was her one year on May 5th so my friend Carrie and I decided to make her a boob cake for her one year survial of breast cancer. This is what I got in the mail a couple days later...











She is such a hoot! When we went to take it to her, she wasn't there, so we "broke in" and left it with a card that said..."Let's give a cheer, it's been a year, you're one tough cookie, we're glad your here!"

Everything OkeeDokee

Wow, I haven't written for sometime! I tried a week or so ago and lost the entire port. Needless to say I didn't have the energy to rewrite it.

Life is good. Amazing isn't it! As for the scan results...ALL CLEAR!! I can't believe it! I feel so much relief...oh so much relief. I had an MRI and CT scan. The MRI was a bit nutty. It was a breast MRI so I had to lay on my stomach with "the girls" in two large cut outs... The tech actually said to me..."this might not be too fun for you, but it makes my job kinda fun". I would have thought sexual harassment had it not made me laugh. Not, to mention he didn't get to see anything except on his little screen.

Before the MRI, they gave me a Valium. I ZONKED out, I mean gone. If you have ever had an MRI, you'll know those suckers are loud as crap...Valium rocks! I came out of the MRI and the tech suggested I change in the bathroom instead of going all the way down the hallway to the other dressing room. At first, I thought it was odd and this guy was hitting on me until I looked in the mirror and saw smeared mascara all the way down my face, and a little drool. Can you imagine the looks I would have gotten as I shuffled my way across the hospital with smeared mascara down my face, drooling, in a hospital gown? I was grateful he stopped me.

The CT showed a spot on my lung that showed up last year, but hasn't grown. Which is good news. It also showed I have an ovarian cyst my oncologist wants checked since there is a link between breast and ovarian cancers. It didn't look like cancer, but wants it checked to be on the safe side. I'm sure he gave me a lot more information, but I didn't care. All I cared about was "no cancer detected".

I had been having a stomachache for a couple of weeks and mysteriously it went away the next day! I didn't realize how much the testing and thought of testing was stressing me out. You really have to psych yourself up to do the testing. It could come back as cancer and then you have to face treatment or death all over again. And this time around, I knew what I would be going through. It's a little like going through labor. The first time you have no idea what to expect...then after birthing a watermelon...you know the second time to be a little scared!!

When Dr. Shull told me the tests were negative, I felt this HUGE weight lifted from my shoulders (and back, and neck, and stomach...). To think I waited three months to have them... Truth is, I couldn't have handled it. I was too low. I would have had a TOTAL breakdown. But, now I feel so grateful, so relieved. I feel alive again! The lights are on and finally somebody IS home!

This Thursday, the 25th is my one-year! What a year to say the least! I made it and plan to go many, many more! Over Mother's day weekend we went to Salt Lake City to do the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure. It was AWESOME and so inspiring! I walked it. I thought for sure the guys on the little golf carts were going to have to stop and pick me up....but I made it with two blisters and all! I even counted a few bald women in the race...one was RUNNING it! I was amazed and inspired. When I was going through chemo, there were days I could barely walk to the bathroom!

At the mile and a half marker we looked back and saw a sea of people who hadn't even gotten to the starting line. There were over 14,000 people in the race! It was an amazing site! And to see the ladies in pink who had beaten this ugly disease, was even more inspiring. At the end they had a survivor’s ceremony and everybody clapped and cheered. It was emotional. It felt good to be ALIVE! It blew me away to see the people who were there to support me! I have amazing friends and family...I really do...amazing!

What a journey this has been...My Journey Through Breast Cancer. Would I go back? No. Would I change it? No. Something deep inside of me has been forever awakened. I have grown. I have met incredible people I would have never met. I have learned lessons I couldn't have learned any other way. I am grateful...so very, very grateful.

P.S. Cancer still sucks!

Monday, May 08, 2006

More Scans in the Plans

I went to the Oncologist today and he couldn't be for sure "it" (lump #2) hasn't grown or that it's just scar tissue. So, he wants me to get the MRI of my breasts done this week. He also referred me back to my breast surgeon. I will also be getting a full body CT scan which will check for metastasis in the rest of my body. I have had a gut ache for over a week now and I worry...well, let's just say I worry. I am praying it comes back negative and I can resume my life.

Weird enough, now that I am feeling much better and have come back into my "right" mind...I feel peaceful about this and feel like I can handle the results either way. A month ago, I couldn't cope with answering the phone. I am feeling so much better and I am grateful I am a live!

We are planning to buy a cute little house that is in our Ward (church group) in a newer neighborhood by people we already know and love. This sounds morbid, but after facing my own mortality...being in our own house and having my children settled in a house, schools, and church with people that know and love them brings me great peace. I feel peace knowing my children will be looked after by not only good family, but friends and church members...given "something" were to happen to me. Also leaving behind this blue rental house will be refreshing...there are many bad memories here of being sick. I am ready to move forward in my life.

My one year diagnosis date is coming up this month. May 25th! One year...I can hardly believe it! Reason to celebrate I think! My friend Deon's one year was on the 5th. So, my friend Carrie and I made her a boob cake and wrote a poem on it that said..."It's been a year, let's give a cheer, to one tough cookie...we're glad your here!" I'll have to attach the picture...it was so stink'n funny!

Again, thank you everyone for your love, support, and prayers!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Out of the Hole

I think I have finally managed to climb my way out of the dark hole of hell...also known as depression. What an awful experience! I didn't think I was going to make it out! But, here I am again!

I was able to go home to SLC, Utah to attend the Susan G. Koman Survivor's Luncheon with my Mom. It was awesome and very emotional for me. It was inspiring to meet all sorts of woman, from every walk of life who have fought this ugly, wicked disease...and are winning. They had all the survivor's stand up by time. They had all the newly diagnosed to one year stand up. So I stood, and the flood gates opened! I bawled through the entire ceremony. It was touching to get to the end and have a woman stand that was 42 years out. It is something I needed to see to feel like I could keep fighting and move on with my life. It was a cool experience.

A lady named Elise West who is a concert pianist and singer performed a song called "A Love that Knows No End". After she came up to me and said "I saw you at the survivor's ceremony and you touched my heart. I want you to have my these". She handed me three of her CDs. They are absolutely beautiful! I was touched at her generosity. People are good.

We are planning to "Race for the Cure" next weekend in SLC. I was surprised at how many people are doing this for me and the cause! I am touched. I almost didn't do it. But, I am...even if I have to crawl it!

Thank you to all of you who have offered your love and support through out this long difficult journey...I have needed you!

I have my three month check-up with my Oncologist tomorrow. I think I will finally agree to have the scan done. I haven't been emotionally ready to get "results"...but it's time. Wish me luck and a negative result!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ready to Write

Here I am ready to write a little. I have taken a hiatus this past month, unable to deal with a whole lot due to the mounting stress and other life factors that aren't in my favor these days. I tell you...when it rains, it pours!

I am still clawing my way up the dark pit of depression I find myself in. I'm not gaining much ground and wonder if I will ever get out. I have been working with a counselor concerning the depression and grief issues. I am constantly amazed how easily I cry and the despair and fear bubble right to the surface. Last week I actually locked myself in the bathroom and cried from the bottom of my guts. I feel hopeless and trapped.

As far as the cancer thing is concerned I am still "pretending" it's all-good. I don't have the strength to do more tests right now. I have decided to hold off on more surgery (mastectomies) and wait until the left breast can actually be reconstructed. I haven't sought out any more opinions. I have talked more with my oncologist and met with several women who have had mastectomies or scheduled to have one. I just can't bear the thought of more surgery and recovery right now...I just can't.

We did file suit for medical malpractice. When I was having the second biopsy performed, the tech said to the doctor something about the 2:00 position being prepped. Brent and I looked at each other and asked them about that. They explained the breast is marked like a clock and they would be doing the biopsy at the 2:00 position at the end of my original tumor bed. The medical records from the stupid nurse practitioner stated my original tumor (the bee bee sized one I first went in for) was located at 10:00 not 2:00. It was most definitely located at 2:00. She had written it down wrong, making it on the other side (the opposite) of my breast. No wonder the insurance malpractice experts said that couldn't have been the same lump that grew into my 10 cm tumor. I was so frustrated and upset. Now it will be my word against her bogus medical records. Just goes to show what incompetence I was dealing with.

I had lunch this week with a woman who has the BRCA1 gene and had bilateral mastectomies. I appreciated her honesty and willingness to talk to me about her battle with cancer (twice). It felt good to talk with someone who had lived out some of the same things I am facing. I still don't feel any closer to knowing what to do. As stupid and maybe as foolish as it sounds, I feel like I need to hold back a while and wait. I am still weighing things out.

I feel like I have lost my sense of humor. I have so much more to write...but I will have to continue later! Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Height Chart


Yet another reason for a mastectomy...

I have so much to write, but I just can't get myself to do it. This depression is eating me alive. It is a cancer of it's own. I am still trying to decide what to do about mastectomies.

I promise to write more later!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Results

I haven't written for a while... I just couldn't get myself to do it. I think I have officially crossed over to the dark side, as Yoda would say. I guess that sounds a little well...dark. Truth is, I have been struggling with the deepest, darkest depression I have faced yet. I have spiraled to a new all time low.

This weekend was awful. I think I had what some would coin a "nervous breakdown". I couldn't stop crying or cope with anything. My Mom (bless her heart) came up for the week to help with the girls and give me a break. Waiting for the biopsy results and then deciding what to do was far too much for me this time around. It was far too reminiscent of a year ago. I still haven't decided what to do.

As for the biopsy results, they were negative. They showed scar tissue and connective tissue...which I guess is basically scar tissue. There were no malignancy cells found, in fact, there was no breast tissue in the sampling what so ever. I was relieved...but then again, the first biopsy I had showed no malignancy and I was full of cancer.

I talked explicitly with my oncologist about what to do. He explained several options. We could watch it closely for growth or change with mammogram, etc. I could get a PET scan, which is a metabolic test, which lights up tumors in the body. However, it can also light up infection, inflammation, etc, and could show a false negative because I just had a 6-stick needle biopsy. Or they could do a MRI of the breast and look for a mass that way. Thing is, we already know there is a mass there, we just don't know if it's wise to trust the biopsy given my history of "misdiagnosis".

I am good friends with my doctor and his wife and I flat out asked him what he would recommend if it were his wife. He showed great difficulty answering, but said he would recommend a total mastectomy. I guess I was kind of floored by that response. Floored, but find of relieved. I don't have a problem with a mastectomy because of the great reconstruction they can do. The problem I worry about is the PAIN! I am still in pain from the lymph dissection and lumpectomy, not to mention the radiation...I worry about recovery. I just want to be recovered. I still fell like I haven't totally recovered from this whole damn thing and I don't want another setback. I know...real reasonable of me.

I CAN'T go through this "drama" and fear the rest of my life. My mental health can't handle it. Do I take a chance and watch it? Do I chance that it is cancer and letting it stay and grow in my body for months? The kind of cancer I had was very aggressive and do I take the chance of it metastasizing somewhere else in my body? Is a boob really worth that chance? Do I go through all the tests (which are also VERY expensive) and agonize over the results? Do I get a PET scan? If it comes out negative...fantastic. If it lights up just a little then we are obligated to figure out why. Do I get a total mastectomy and reconstruction? And if I get a mastectomy...do I do a double because they reconstruct them to look the same. So if I get surgery on the other side wouldn't it make sense to just get that one cleared out as well? Frankly, surgery makes the very most sense, but I just don't want to go through it and I don't want to deal with it. I just want to pretend I am just fine and move on. I am sick of cancer. I am sick of worrying about cancer. I am sick of freak'n CANCER! SICK, SICK, SICK!!! UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I can't handle this!

So there you go...in a nutshell. "Nut" being the key word here! And to those of you who have leant much love and support through cards,emails, and chocolate...thank you so very much. Your thoughtfulness has meant the world.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What a Day...

What a day. I went in to see Dr. Shull my oncologist this morning for a check-up. I had found another lump in the same breast I had cancer in before. So in I went. You know, there's a thin line out there between being concerned and vigilant about your health and becoming a hypochondriac. Hopefully I will find the middle. Dr. Shull did a breast exam and he said there is definitely a lump there. It was difficult to differentiate whether it was scar tissue or a new tumor growing. I hadn't felt it before and it started worrying me the last several weeks. I was just paranoid and didn't want to "deal" with it! Stupid I know. There are a lot of mixed emotions involved in this cancer crap.

Anyway, he told me what I didn't want to hear...and that was to get an ultrasound and a biopsy if the radiologist felt it was warranted. So off we went to the Imaging Center. Just plug'n away at that deductible! We filled the doctor and tech there out on what had happened the first go-round with the false negative biopsy and the whole "oh it can't be cancer"...oh just kidding it's stage three killer cancer". They were very concerned and did what I thought was a very thorough job with both the ultrasound and the 6 stick biopsy (which is freak'n tender tonight).

We were able to ask a lot of questions and our concerns were addressed. He explained cancer can grow around the scar tissue in a linear fashion concealing it's self since generally cancer grows in lumps or round like masses. He was concerned about that being a possibility. The lump/hardening is right above the top part of my breast scar. Hopefully it's all scar tissue and they will just have to watch it extra carefully for any change or growth. It was just all too reminiscent of this time last year. I started feeling the same. My breast starting hurting. I started feeling fatigue, and I was in the hospital getting these tests done. It was a dejavu I hated experiencing.

Anyway, I have so much more to write about, but it's midnight and I have got to go to be three hours ago! I'll write tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Here's How It Really Is

I received a lot of feedback from my last post. Thank you for your concern. Many have responded to me about not having to "put on a happy face" all the time. Let me assure you that is not the case. This whole thing has sucked, sucked, sucked. I am scared to death and I worry daily about getting cancer back and it taking over my body. In fact, I found another lump and I am going to the oncologist
Thursday. I am terrified. I cried the entire day yesterday and coped out and went to bed when my husband came home. I just couldn't cope anymore.

My husband spoke with the claims adjuster with the malpractice insurance yesterday and they aren't willing to settle this out of court. I was so angry. So very, very angry. We have hired two top attorneys in our area who specialize in medical malpractice who agreed a month ago to take our case given they won't settle. They believe we have a strong case...which we do. The insurance company stated they don't believe the first lump I found (and sought care for) and the tumor were of the same. Can you freaking believe that! It was in the same place, same quadrant of the breast. EVEN if it wasn't (which it WAS)...follow up treatment which is standard of care, and a mammogram would have found the aggressively growing tumor. What a slap in the face.

What makes me so angry is the fact that when I kept going to the doctors saying something was wrong and they wouldn't listen to me...I felt crazy. They even referred me to a psychiatrist for the "depression"...which was fatigue, idiots! So when they called yesterday and said that same thing, I was so overwhelmingly angry...it made me feel "unheard" and "unvalidated" all over again. I was told to go home and run my sore breast (full of stage three breast cancer) under hot water incase it was mastitis. Mastitis my ass...I hadn't nursed in over a freaking year! Had I not gone to another doctor…I would be DYING or already gone.

I am not sure how to deal with all this anger and grief. I am doing everything I know how, everything I teach everyone else as a mental health worker. But, when it's yourself it's different. I know I just have to deal with this and go through it, but it's painful. Emotions are painful.

I will write more about my appointment with my oncologist on Thursday. I've been afraid people will think I am just being a paranoid hypochondriac. I decided I don't care. I can't worry everyday that this lump is nothing, especially when the symptoms feel the same as the first go around. I also worry about the money and having to pay yet more medical bills. My husband put it in perspective that my life is more important than money...and I need to address my health. I still worry about the money, but I will go, even if I have to get yet another $2,000 cat scan.

I feel so hopeless right now. I feel alone. The ironic part of all of this is how hopeless I feel and yet how terrified I feel of having cancer again. My children are really the ones who are getting the shaft. They don't get a "whole" Mom. I do the best I can, but I feel limited and preoccupied. That makes me so sad.... because I love them so very much. Brent too. He is a great husband, so caring and loving. For that I am incredibly lucky.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Hopeless

Tonight I am feeling so hopeless. I have been in a dark hole for over a month now and I can't seem to climb out of it. I feel like I am scratching at the sides and keep slipping down further and further.

I am worrying about dying from this damn cancer. My husband has been working on my case regarding the "failure to diagnose" against the women's clinic. He told me after MUCH prodding the actual statistics of reoccurrence I can expect due to "their" failure to treat when I first went in, compared to what it is now. IF they would have treated me when I first went in there was roughly a 12% chance of a reoccurrence. Now it is 47%. 47%. 47%. A Freak'n 47% chance I will have to go through that hell all over again. A 47% chance it will get me next time. That really scares me. Had I realized this, I may have strongly reconsidered having the double mastectomy regardless.

I feel like giving up. I feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. Why be healthy? Why do everything I can...there is almost a 50% chance it will just come back and consume my body. Glass half empty huh. I just don't have the energy to be positive and fight. Everyone tells me to "be positive", "keep fighting", "it will be alright"...I know it's all meant well...but, as the wise words of a fifty's song once said..."it's my party and I can cry if I want to".

I know this is morbid and dark but I love the song by "Three Doors Down", Here With Out You Baby. And should I meet an early demise I want my husband to sing it at my funeral.

Here With Out You Baby
Three Doors Down

A Hundred days have made me older,
Since the last time I saw your pretty face.
A thousand lives have made me colder
And I don’t think I can look at this the same.
But all the miles that separate
Disappeared now when I’m dream’n of your face.

I’m here without you baba,
But you’re still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby,
And I dream about you all the time.

I’m here without you baby
But you’re still with me in dreams
And tonight it’s only you and me.

The miles just keep roll’n
As the people lead their way to say hello.
I’ve heard this life is overrated,
But I hope that it gets better as we go.

I’m here without you baba,
But you’re still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby,
And I dream about you all the time.

I’m here without you baby
You’re still with me when I dream
And tonight it’s only you and me.

Everything I know, and everywhere I go.
It gets hard, but it won’t take away my love.
And when the last one falls.
When it’s all said and done.
It’s get hard!
But, it won’t take away my love.

I’m here without you baby,
But you’re still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby,
And I dream about you all the time.
I’m here without you baby
You’re still with me when I dream
And tonight it’s only you and me.

And the Oscar for Leading Actress in a Dramatic Series goes to Dana Hyer Whiting in "Crazy with Cancer". Applause...........eye roll

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Neuropathy Nuisance and The Senate

Man, I just have to complain a little about this darn neuropathy in my arms and hands. It has REALLY been bothering me the past few weeks. My hands get stabbing pains, fall asleep easily (pins and needles), and I can't grasp things very well. This weekend I went to Boise with a girlfriend. I ordered a steak at dinner and I had the most difficult time cutting it. My friend kept asking me if I needed her to cut it for me...I did, but I was too stubborn to let her. It was really frustrating and frankly...embarassing. My oncologist tells me the neuropathy can be permanent which feels so disheartening. So far, I swear it has gotten worse. I have difficulty with my feet as well. They cramp very easily if I move my toes. Talk about Charlie-horse city. They also get the pins and needles and hurt. They feel weird in my shoes. Hard to explain. Anyway, I feel a little better getting that out. :)

This weekend I mentioned I went to Boise. We went to testify to the Idaho Senate Committee in hopes of getting the statute of limitations abolished on childhood sexual abuse. My girlfriend is a victim of abuse and has gotten involved in this legislation. I was very proud of all the work she has done in hopes of getting this law changed. I had never been to a Senate Committee hearing. It was very interesting and I felt proud to be there. There were so many people there in favor of passing the bill (and no one in opposition), that they only had one man testify. The Committee voted unanimously in favor! We didn't end up having to testify even though we were ready to go. My speech was from my perspective as a Mental Health Worker and witnessing the effects of abuse my clients have experienced. The effects are devastating and long lasting. By abolishing the statues, victims will be able to report when they are READY!!

Life has been so busy lately. I have continued to feel incredibly tired and worn out. I am not taking care of myself like I need to. I feel great guilt about that and struggle daily with doing the things I need to in order to achieve optimum health. Yes, this includes losing the weight I swore I would get off. I am stuck on the scale and have done nothing to continue on my road of weight loss. One would think CANCER would propel me to GET IN GEAR. Yet, it is so difficult and the poor habits I have developed in this lifetime continue to have their choke hold on me. I feel weak in this battle...Fighting cancer had little choices...fight or die. Eating right and exercising is a daily series of choices... and I continue to make poor ones.

Tonight, I will pray for the strength to move forward, to be better, to overcome.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cancer Alliance

I have been so busy these days...I don't have time for a stink'n head cold. I have been dying all weekend, but I didn't exactly take care of myself. Now I'm paying for it.

Friday night a bunch of ladies I work with got together and did an all night scrapbook party. It was very theraputic to say the least. There's nothing like a bunch of friends talking about all the things that are stressing us out and laughing about it. Problem is I didn't get home until 5 am. Then I had a breakfast appointment to go over stuff for the Cancer Alliance at 8 am. Then I had family coming up for the weekend for my nephews missionary homecoming. Then to top it of I think I am getting a sinus infection and earache. Regaurdless, I had a great weekend. But, I really need to sleep.

We are really starting to pull some things to gether for the Cancer Alliance. It's exciting and hopefully it will be helpful to cancer patients. So if you of someone you know have ideas we can incorperate...please let me know! I would LOVE to hear from you! What things were really helpful while you or a loved one was in treatment. What things could be inproved or added to treatment? We are looking for ways to ease patient burdens and educate clients on their particular cancer.

I live in Idaho and there is a problem getting people from the rural areas the treatment they need. We want to advocate for the patients and provide them with information in the communities they are in.

Anyway, I am exhaused...off to be I go. I enjoy hearing from those of you out there who are going on this journey. If you have questions, I will answer them as honestly as I can. That reminds me after I had my first baby and nobody warned me acurately what it would REALLY be like to give birth. I was mad at every women I knew who could have filled me in...and didn't tell me the truth. I wouldn't want to scare anyone, but I feel like if you are armed with the truth...you can make better informed decisions!

Good-night!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More Mammograms for Me

Well it's official...I am 33 years old. Times flies. I had a good birthday, a lot to celebrate. For one, being a live. I got my baseline mammogram done the day after my birthday. I figured it would help me remember when I needed to get one if I planned it on my b-day. Not like I really need reminding on this one.

When I went to got the mammogram, I wasn't thinking about getting the results. Usually I get my self psyched up to get test results, be it good or bad. I didn't stop to think I could actually get a bad result on the scan. When the tech said "I'll be right back, I need to let the radiologist read these". My stomach dropped. I didn't think about it. I started to freak a little and had to calm myself down. Thank heavens the results where CLEAR!! No problems detected. They said the scar tissue looked good and I was healing well. I felt such relief, such peace and calm.

I wish I felt like myself. I am still struggling to get back to status quo. My body doesn't feel right. I have felt weak and wobbly this week. My neuropathy from the Taxol is really bothering me and my hands feel weak and achy. Maybe it's worse from the cold. I'm not sure what to think. I still get tired and get worn down easily. I am not feeling very optimistic these days. I feel ornery and want to be left alone. I wish some days I could crawl in a hole and never come out. I feel more reclusive now than I did going through treatment. I want my life back. I want to feel normal, healthy, energetic...

My thoughts have been preoccupied with the case we filed with the women's center's malpractice insurance. They are in the process of gathering my medical records. I have several of my providers call to confirm that I do want my records released. I was impressed they are following HIPPA guidelines so closely. I want my family to be taken care of does something happen to me in the future. As a cancer survivor, "those" thoughts are always there. Thoughts of the future...will I be here? Will my family be okay?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Speak Up, Be Heard

Thursday was one of my last treatment check-ups with my radiation oncologist. Of course I have to go back to my regular oncologist every three months for two years. However, this was my last "re-check" after treatment from all of my cancer team doctors! My doc said things looked good and didn't see anything unusual! I really didn't have a lot of questions because I had just met with my surgeon. I did talk to him about the stabbing pain I was having in my breast. He told me that was very typical in about 10% of BC survivors and could last for up to a year. I was concerned because it was the same pain I had when my tumor was growing. He did reassure me I would be watched very closely and I needed to note anything unusual and be aware of any changes.

If there is one message I could get out there...it would "to be your own best advocate"! Doctors have amazing technology...thank goodness. However, we depend on them to take care of us. And they depend on us to let them know what's going on. A lot of the time we expect them to "know" and to "treat"...and they don't without our prompting! If you feel something is wrong...don't just "shut up" because they say nothing is there...speak up, be heard!

I am slowly gaining momentum. I still feel tired and run down, but my energy increases daily. I still get run down quickly and I still feel weak. Today, I feel like I might be getting the flu. I have stabbing pain in my extremities, like I did when I was on Taxol. It freaks me out and it hurts! I don't know if it's a side effect from the chemo that I will have forever or what!

My husband said yesterday "isn't it weird to think you have an oncologist". I had to agree on the weirdness factor. All this seems like a dream sometimes, that is until I look in the mirror and my short, crazy hair! I wonder if I'll ever get back to "normal"...especially my brain and my cognition. I joke with my oncologist about it. He says it wasn't there to begin with (I really can't argue too much on that one)...but my brain power has definitly decreased.

Anyway, today I had a milestone happen. We put our baby, who is two and a half in a big girl bed and put the crib away! She was so excited and proud of herself. It's nice to move forward, but it kinda tugged at my heart strings. My baby is growing up. I don't know that we'll have more...or that we can have more. Or that I can handle one more! I just checked on her and she is snug as a bug...what an angel!

Well, I suppose there is much more I could write about, but as usual I am exhaused! I will write more soon. I have received some feedback and emails from people who live here in Idaho Falls who are having problems with BC or other cancer issues and are wondering about doctors, etc. I would love to talk to anyone who is going through this "journey". I am
here and you are not alone!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My curly hair is back

I am here...mostly in body...my mind is elsewhere! I have been busy and struggling to get my butt back into shape these days! I haven't made it to the gym today because my little one is sick with the croup. I plan to go tonight after my hubby gets home. I may not workout very long or hard...but I am working out!!

A friend of mine and I decided to email each other our food and exercise journals everyday. It really has made a difference on my food choices knowing someone else is going to analyze them. It has motivated me to get back on the wagon and move to the back! It really helps to have a "diet buddy".

Another dear friend of mine who has lost a lot of weight has really motivated me to keep my eye on the goal. She says she feels better than she has in years! I just need to remind myself to focus on the future outcome. It's frustrating when you don't see a change in the scale, even when I feel better and my clothes fit better! I have to remind myself it took years to put this "fat suit" on...it's going to take a while to take it off.

On another topic...my hair is getting so "long", I need a HAIRCUT!!! It is starting to curl and is sticking out all over the place. It needs some serious help! But, let me tell you, I am glad to have HAIR! I'm just not so sure what to do with it!

I am finally feeling well enough this past week I am starting to tackle some projects around the house I have ignored, oh, the past 9 months. I have felt so miserable and tired through all this cancer business. When we feel good we take that for granted. I will never take health and energy for granted again! When I have energy I feel like a million bucks! Now I wish I could focus my mushy mind!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Final Countdown

Today I went to my final check-up with my fabulous surgeon Dr. Judy Jones. She is fantastic. She did a breast exam (really who hasn't in this little town) and didn't find anything suspicious!! She wanted me to go
ahead and schedule a baseline mammogram next month after the swelling had gone down from the radiation. The baseline mammogram is so the doctors can monitor for any changes in the breast to watch for a reoccurrence. I was glad to hear that. I am the type of person that wants to follow my healthcare very vigilantly. It actually helps me to relax to have the tests done and know there aren't any tumors lurking out there.

Dr. Jones' recommendations today were to continue to lose the weight and she was adamant I exercise 3-4 a week aerobically. She wants me to start off easy with walking for 20 minutes and slowly working up to a full workout. That I can do. I just read an article tonight-about exercise and its effects on women's health that have had breast cancer. It was a motivating article. She also recommended an antioxidant called Selenium with my daily vitamins and an Aspirin everyday as part of my medication regiment.

I felt very motivated to take better care of my body when I left her office. I felt I could follow her recommendations and take care of my health and myself. She really is a fantastic surgeon. If it weren't for her persistence, I may not be here!

Another thing I wanted to write about was this past weekend my stepdaughter who goes to school in Rigby had her school principal die from breast cancer. She was staying with us this weekend and her stepsister called to tell Faith the news. I was looking at the caller ID and asked Faith why her sister had called her. She said, "Because Mrs. Powell died yesterday". I felt sick. Mrs. Powell went through treatment last year for Breast CA and was doing very well. She was there for back to school night in September and had hair. Apparently it came back and she went down hill quickly. My heart goes out to her family and her students who loved her. I asked Faith if it scared her. She said yes and I told her it scared me to. I wish I could have told her not to worry and everything would be okay, but I couldn't...I just couldn't. I was scared to death.

I went in my bedroom and locked the door and bawled. Brent, who wasn't home at the time came home and asked me what was wrong. I told him I knew about Mrs. Powell and expressed my terror that, that could happen to me too. I had him give me a blessing of comfort. It's scary.

I made him talk to Faith about it and process some of those feelings with her. I just knew she needed to talk about it, but I couldn't do it. Brent is a good dad! Faith's mom is also a social worker and I hope they can talk more about it. Her mom has been very supportive through all of this...which had makes my relationship with Faith a lot easier. Infact, a few months ago, her Mom did a fundraiser for me to help us with medical bills and Christmas. Pretty amazing huh!

Anyway, I am tired as sin tonight...so off to bed I go

Friday, January 13, 2006

Demand Letter

I have some well...satisfying news. Last week my husband, who is attorney, sent a demand letter to the clinic who failed to diagnose me for over a year with stage three breast cancer. They actually called him back within a WEEK. The clinic reported they had received the letter and held a meeting with everyone involved to discuss my case.

First off, they told my husband they were sorry for all I had gone through! The man told my husband the primary practitioner who failed to treat me properly was in tears at the meeting. They also reported their practices on breast exams/screening have dramatically changed for the better. Everyone complaining of a lump will automatically be sent for a mammogram. I was sooooo pleased to hear this! I have feared for other women who may have been in my shoes going to this same clinic and being brushed off...only to have it be too late.

The man from the clinic asked my husband basically what we wanted. Brent told them what we expected. He told Brent the letter had been forwarded to their malpractice insurance carrier. We have no desire to go to court...but we WILL if needs be~ The lack of care was horrible!!

What I truly wanted was for the clinic to recognize their treatment was terribly lacking and the practitioners needed to be better supervised by the doctors!! Not only was treatment horribly lacking...the information I was given about breast cancer was WAY OFF TRACK! That scares me the worst! If I were to been diagnosed the FIRST time I went in with a beebe sized lump all this horrible, painful, and scary treatment could have been bi-passed BEFORE I reached stage three cancer with metastasis to the lymph nodes! I also now have a larger chance of reoccurrence (not that I plan on that...).

This sounds a little bitter. Truthfully I am happy they called and acknowledged a problem. They didn't take responsibility, I am certain due to impending litigation. But, I am happy a meeting was held and procedure was discussed. Maybe someone else can be saved from going down this awful road. Maybe too the medical staff will take a little more time to get to know their patients and provide quality care without cattle calling them through.

Anyway, I am feeling good...tired...but good. I am still waiting for the fatigue to lift. I have been getting a newsletter called the Cancer Crusade. In it it had this affirmation I would like to share:

Dear God,
I've been awfully hard on myself lately,
blaming myself for mistakes real and imagined,
and convincing myself that
they are the reasons I have cancer.
Please help me get past this.
Help me in my resolve to
build new healthy habits,
to forgive myself for my
old unhealthy ones,
and to live joyously in the moment
every moment for all the rest of my days.
Amen
I still struggle (and probably always will) with taking good care of my body. I do feel great guilt for this. I am still going to Weight Watchers and I will start back to the gym next week. I haven't lost anymore weight...just holding. I've got to hit it hard this week though. I have had a difficult time getting back on the wagon since the holidays. I CAN do it!!

Monday, January 09, 2006

No Title Available Due to Mush Brain

I can't even think of a title for this current blog...how sad is that! I am "as usual" tired with a very mushy brain. I am having a difficult time keeping a focused train of thought and forming an intelligible sentence these days. I still blame it on "chemo brain"...but I had a client say to me today "you can't use that crutch forever Dana". Ha Ha like heck I can't! I can if I want to...it sounds better than just being plan old loopy!

Work was "crazy" today as usual. Most of you know I am a mental health worker. I love what I do and I find the people I work with fascinating. Truly, I never have a dull day! I have been doing this work almost 10 years now and I find that every day something new comes up I haven't dealt with before. You know you're slipping a little when you have clients recommend a "vacation" at the state hospital for a few weeks. You know if I could sleep and they would do everything for me...I might just look into that! :)

My life is starting to get back into my true blue routine I had before I got sick. I am starting to get things back in order and organized. I made it to the library and have been reading interesting books that are NOT about cancer. CONFESSION: out of the eleven books I checked out three were about cancer. Not bad I think. I will read those last.

Life is starting to look a little more optimistic, even though life in Idaho Falls in January is a little bleak and depressing! I am starting to look forward to things like getting more involved in the new cancer foundation. I have also had a couple of local women email me with questions about breast cancer which I am more than happy to answer. Life always looks less scary when there is someone to talk to who has been down the road.

I am making more friends and contacts in this small community. It feels good to feel included and involved. As tired as I feel, it actually feels good to be busy and not focus on the fatigue. That too shall pass!! It better pass!!

Speaking of...off to bed I go. Did I mention I only gained a pound over the holidays! One freak'n pound! I was thrilled! I did a little happy dance at the scale. I think the Weight Watchers lady thought I had fallen off my rocker. So any who, back on the wagon I go. Losing weight is so hard! I really hate it...but I have got to do it! I will NOT be the stupid cancer patient who doesn't get it. By me staying fat is like a lung cancer patient smoking through their tracheotomy. My chances of reoccurrence go up the heavier I am. No thank YOU! I have had several people compliment me on the lose so far...you just wait until I am 50 pounds lighter and smoke'n :)

I am also starting back to the gym this month. I might be crawling on the treadmill 2 miles per hour...but I'll be move'n! I am woman...hear me roar!

Good Night!!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Late Night Blogging is good for the Soul

I haven't written much this week. I have been insanely busy and tired on top of that. By the looks of the clock, this entry isn't going to contain great words of wisdom...but maybe some gibberish about my life.

I have been more tired this week that I was the ENTIRE time through radiation. Which is REALLY tired! I feel like a zombie waiting for life to restart! I have so much to do and some much I want to achieve, but my body isn't cooperating with me. I am trying to have patience with myself, but I am harder on my self that anyone else! Brent and I have bickered a lot this weekend. I think we need a vacation away from kids and cancer. What I wouldn't do for a few days all to myself with no responsibility and be able to do anything I wanted without worrying about my family. I don't dare even dream about it because I can't fathom the fact that it could actually happen. I went to the Library and checked out 11 books. I intent to read every single one of them...but I will feel great guilt for doing so. Sleeping and reading...at least it's not drinking and elicit affairs right!

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Survival Movie

I just wanted everyone to have a chance to see the video clip...it's awesome and very touching. I bawled like a baby through the entire thing...because it truly hit home. Follow the link: www.thesurvivormovie.com

I also found a quote on their webpage that I adored:

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
--Eleanor Roosevelt
Pretty powerful huh!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My New Year's Resolutions

I have a lot of resolutions I want to make this year. Some I am already working on, others I have yet to tackle! Here we go...

PHYSICAL:

  • NOT get cancer again :)

  • Finish losing the weight. Back to Weight Watchers this week and I am starting back at the gym. Honestly, after having no energy and being sick for soooo long...I can't wait to get exercising again!!

  • Continue to eat healthier and more balanced. Although this continues to be a huge challenge to me ( I am a stress/emotional eater/boredom/habitual ...blaa blaa blaa overeater). As I have said before, I refuse to be the stupid cancer patient that "didn't get it" and continue to neglect my health!!

SPIRITUAL:

  • I truly want to be a better person. I want to serve others and reach out to others. I have been "served" so much this past year, I want to give back. I see the importance of this now more than ever after being the recipient for so long!

  • I want to be a better mother/step-mom. I get so impatient and into the day to day "putting out fires" I forget to enjoy my girls. They really are so precious and fun. I worry about things that are beyond my control and I don't cherish them the way I want to. One of my biggest fears about cancer is not living to raise my girls. I have been given a second opportunity to that. My goal is to give it my all...and that includes not yelling so much!

  • Be a better wife. I have a great husband. My relationship with him is so important, yet I don't give it the attention it needs. Now that I am feeling better...this has to become a top priority! Love ya babe

  • I am LDS and I want to be a better Mormon woman. To be more detailed, I want to refine myself, polish off the rough patches. Okay, I know that's going to take some serious time...good thing I'm not terminal :)

  • Quit my damn swearing. That was my last one! Seriously, I am getting better but I have got to let this one go! Part of the polishing!

MENTAL:

  • To read more. I know this sounds weird, but my brain feels like mush and my comprehension is seriously lacking. They call it chemo brain...but come on seriously it's been three months. I need to do things to improve my concentration. Oh, I'm sorry I lost my focus for a sec. ....

  • To get reorganized. I am usually very organized, but I haven't had the strength or time to be so. I want to get it "pulled back together" and put my house/life back in order and organize my self and time more efficiently! I guess that includes cleaning out the hall closet this week :(

EMOTIONAL:

  • Try not to worry so much and have greater faith that "things" will be "okay". I am a huge worrier and emotionally it gets the best of me. I resolve to take it down a notch this year and CHILL OUT!

Okay, so this is a start. I have a lot of things I want/need to improve, but this is where I will start! Those of you who know me are shaking their heads in agreement!

I appreciate your love and support, I truly do! Happy New Year!!

Good Riddance

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Good Riddance 2005...possibly the most unlucky, worst year of my life. Although I have learned and grown this year...I am glad to see it go! Here's to a better year!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

MRI

Today was a stressful day. I had a check-up with my fabulous oncologist Christian T. Shull today. I told him I had been having headaches consistently for about three weeks. The kind that are always there and sometimes they are terrible and sometimes they subside but linger and never really go away. Well, I mentioned this to him and he said..."I know what you're thinking and let's just get an MRI and rule out any problems so we don't worry about it". I am SO glad he would do that...but I also FREAKED out.

I started thinking and preparing for the very worst. It was amazing to me the range of emotion I felt and how quickly that fear came back. I laid in the MRI and cried. I broke down to my husband and cried. He tried to reassure me it was nothing and the scan wouldn't show anything. But...let me tell you, when you have been told over and over you don't have cancer...then one day they call and say "opps...you really do have cancer, and it's a REALLY bad, aggressive kind"...trust becomes an issue. I told him that wasn't reassuring and not to say that to me anymore. I wanted to believe it was nothing, but the reality that it very easily could be, was just as real!!

May 25th (diagnosis day) echoed in my mind and all those same emotions and fears came into play. I kept picturing them calling and saying..."we found a tumor, it has spread to your brain, there's nothing we can do." It felt hopeless, scary, and overwhelming. I felt trapped and feared the worst...not being able to raise my children.

We discussed the chances of reoccurrence and metastasis. Not my favorite subjects. I am the type of person who has to know where I stand in all areas of my life...including cancer. Although, knowing all the facts sometimes depletes my sense of hope and faith.

Anyway, by the time I left the MRI and drove to my sisters to get my girls...my fantastic doctor called with the results showing no signs of tumors/cancer. Halleluiah! I pleaded with the Lord again today to spare my life once more so I can raise these girls. I made a promise to be a more patient and loving mother and a better person. I know my prayers were answered once again. Again, my reality is put back into perspective. It's amazing how quickly priorities get out of alignment and then smacked back into line.

A day that started off bad and ended good. Tonight my niece came over and we stayed up and played games. We always laugh and have a good time. I went to dinner with my sisters and I felt comfort. Thank goodness for family and friends. I cry for those who have to go through this alone...it shouldn't happen. Everyone should have a shoulder to cry on.

I plan on 2006 being the BEST year yet! This year sucked and it can only get better!! That's what I'm planning on and what I intend to have happen. I will life to the fullest and enjoy it more.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Great Holiday Letdown

Does anyone experience what I call the let down after the holidays? For weeks we run around like mad trying to get some much accomplished only to find the little extras we bust ourselves over really don't make that much difference. I am so wrung out tonight. My husband and I are arguing over "marraige stuff" and everything else that has the misforture of popping into the sad discussion.

We had an okay Christmas...still glad to be a live. It was wonderful to watch the girls open their presents and enjoy themselves. That's always good to experience as a parent. But, on the other hand...family really makes me reflect. I miss spending time around MY family whom i know loves me and my children. I worry my children will miss being around my parents. We are very involved in talking to one another and interested in each other. On the other hand, spending time with the in-laws was not as enjoyable and enlightening and it makes me miss my family and friends even more who live out of state. Actually I'm the one living out of state. I confrontd my husband at looking at this for a change and considering a move south...which he says he will consider but NEVER does. Maybe I'll move myself. A change would be nice! Some issues I guess will always be there.

I am so emotinal tonight. I am tired and I am getting sick...which leads me to my next statement...I am Sick of being Sick and Tired! I am done with this S@#$T. I want to move on but I'm not sure how to maybe I need some therapy to process this overload of emotions that keep taking over my brain.I don't thonk I am making much sence. I better get to bed.

To all of you who told me to take it easy or I would over do it and get sick...well you were right. Are you happy? I feel like crap and I am near to not functioning. What a week this will be.

Good night...blaa blaa blaa

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Best Present EVER!


I am DONE...DONE I tell ya! I finished radiation today and I am so damn excited I can hardly stand it! I can't believe this day finally came and went! WOW...I am DONE!! I am through with being a cancer patient! DONE!! This is the BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!!

I am so tired tonight (being that it's 1:30 am) but I had SO much to do today getting ready for Christmas. I think I may have wrote this in my last entry, but everyone keeps telling me to take it easy and rest...but this Christmas I am glad to be a live and I will not take it easy!! I am here...hear me roar!! True, I am running on adrenaline, caffeine, and sugar (I know, not a good combo for the cancer patient)...but this week I do NOT care! My kids got gypped this year and I am going to make this a fantastic Christmas...and dammit...I'm a live!!

I took my cancer team each a little gift. I got a big bag of lifesaver candies and tied a note to it that said "Merry Christmas to my Wonderful LifeSavers". I wrote "thanks to you I am here this year".

After radiation today they gave me a graduation certificate! It was totally funny. They gave me a hope bracelet and a hospital mug (which are most coveted). The graduation certificate had everyone on the staff's signature and well wishes...I loved it.

I had some weird mixed emotions today. I was thrilled to be done, but I was very emotional. Not sad to leave, just emotional that I had finally finished the treatments and the hard part of this is OVER. It has consumed my life for seven LONG months and now my life is taking a different turn. I am ready to move on. I want to be the helper now, I want to help others. So many have been there for me, now I am ready to be there for someone else. I am ready to be a full-time Mommy again and be there physically and emotionally/mentally to my beautiful children. I am ready to reconnect with my amazing husband and focus on something other than CANCER!!! I will say though I will never forget and I will never stop advocating for this cause...it is so important to get the word out and be there for people still going through it!!

My wonderful friend and former chemo buddy Deon, gave me the most beautiful painting of the Lord crossing the raging ocean with this saying written on it:

"When the billows of Change encompass me,
When it's surges dash furiously,
And the foam thereof is nigh unto overwhelming,
Thy power will sustain me:
I will smile at the rage of the tempest,
And ride fearlessly and triumphantly
Across the boisterous ocean of circumstance".
Eliza R. Snow

Isn't that beautiful! I loved it and hung it right by my door so I can read it everyday before I leave. I truly have learned a valuable lesson about life and change. I also found out I'm not as a big of chicken as I thought I was :) Bring it on!

One more thing then off to sleep city. My adorable husband surprised me with an early Christmas present...a KITTY!! I was so incredibly excited and thrilled beyond words! He is so cute! We named him Fritz. He's solid gray with a white belly. I'm in Love!!
Well...off I go! Goodnight and sleep tight! I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!! I also added the latest portraits of my girls. They weren't very balanced...but aren't they angels!!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Exhausted...Big Surprize

I am so exhausted tonight! I have so much to do and my house is a mess. I have laundry to do and a floor to vacuum! I have Christmas cards to send and neighbor gifts to deliver...am I insane? I didn't make candy and goodies this year. I just couldn't muster up the strength! Not to mention if I make it, I eat it, which is not conjunctive to the weight loss plan! (almost 16 lbs so far, 55 to go)!

I worked today and I am glad this day is almost over. It is really snowing outside and the roads are terrible. I usually hate the snow (don't ask me why I live in Idaho) but this year it feels cozy to me. Maybe it's that I am learning to enjoy the little things in life. I am grateful to be here this Christmas…I very easily could have not been. The girls are curled up watching Whinny the Pooh. I plan to join them once I am done here and plug in the Christmas lights and relax! Screw laundry...if my husband needs clothes for tomorrow I'll give him fair warning he has none. As for dinner, it will have to be leftovers!

I am counting down the days until radiation is OVER!! Four more to go!!! I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can. Today I scheduled my after radiation check-ups with my oncologist and surgeon. That felt really good. Really, Really good!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I Miss My Mind the Most

Wow, I have been terrible at writing the past several weeks. I need to get better. You know the saying..."out of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most". Well, that rings a little true these days! Then you add the holidays on top of that and you have a complete psychotic woman on the loose! Never the less here I am!

This is my VERY LAST week of radiation! I am so excited I can hardly stand it! I really didn't think I would make it! I hated it! This week they start what is called the "boost" treatments. They have been radiating from my collarbone down to under my breast, and from my cleavage to my backside. It is so red and irritated. Last week it started blistering quit a bit and peeling off. I still feel like I am nursing a newborn. If I get bumped...I about jump out of my skin.

This week however, they will only radiate my original tumor site (which is called a boost). Which granted is still a large area...but it's not my entire left side! The doctor said the skin that isn't being radiated would start to heal. The boost is concentrated on the surgical area to assure eradication of any cancer cells left in that area, which has the highest likelihood of reoccurrence. In that case...radiate away!!

The fatigue is something else! I am so tired!!!!! It has been somewhat of an accumulative process. If I have one minute of down time I am either sleeping of staring blankly at the wall. I have been terrible at keeping in touch...sorry. I feel like a wet washrag! However, I appreciate the love and support of those around me! You keep my spirits high!

Hopefully, my journey through breast cancer is coming to an end! I never thought I would make it. I try and keep positive by not dwelling on the chances I may have of reoccurrence. I will cross those bridges when/if I get there. I tell my husband if I can go through chemo and be on T.V. bald...I can do anything!!

As I reflect back the past six months, my heart is full of gratitude for both my life and for the phenomenal people in my life. Had it not been for cancer, I may have never met some of the amazing people I have. I heard a saying once that goes something like this..."the deeper the sorrow and pain cut into the soul, the more room there is to fill it up with joy". That is how I feel about this experience. It has been the fight of my life so far...but what I found was great joy. So many lessons learned. How lucky I am!

About Me

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Idaho Falls, Idaho, United States
I am a 36 year old woman, married to a great guy, and together we have three beautiful daughters. I am a three and a half year breast cancer survivor. This past year I have become active in the cause of helping those who are batteling cancer!