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Effects of Radiation

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Somehow I’ve managed to completely ignore the blog world during the last 2 months. I mean, I’ve already gone back to work, started & finished radiation, AND Christmas is coming to an end. There’s been so many stories, feelings and venting that I could’ve written about been during the last few weeks, but my desire to write was pretty much non-existent. So for now, the only thing that makes sense to write about is where I am in this whole C thing. Here it goes…..

Effects of radiation – it’s not pretty

Radiation during the last 5 weeks was OK. It wasn’t horrible and it wasn’t pleasant . My last treatment was exactly a week ago tomorrow. I managed to make it through the first 4 weeks with little to no physical discomfort or skin reactions. But exactly 2 days before my last treatment my skin started reacting to the radiation by peeling. And underneath was raw, pink and getting worse as the days go on. I can’t really sleep on my right side and at night is when I have the most discomfort. My ribs are sore on the radiated side which I hear is suppose to last anywhere from 1-6 months. I’ve been pretty much lathering up with Aquaphor every couple of hours and depending on what I’m wearing I have to put these gauze like pads on my skin. Unfortunately, the worst area is right underneath my arm. It’s constantly being rubbed up against something whether its my own arm, bra or clothing. The worse was when I wore  a dress with a zipper on the side. UGH. The doctor said it gets worse before it gets better. This is definitely one of the worse effects of radiation that I’ve had to deal with.

Tired. Fatigue. Sleepy.

These are just some other adjective to describe how radiation has affected me. Yesterday (Christmas Eve) was probably one of the worse days where fatigue set in. First, I went to work, then rushed home to change for what would be the first stop of many throughout the day. We had Christmas Eve lunch at Justin’s Uncles house. As always, we had a good time and we left feeling happy and full. Then we went to my uncle’s house , then his Mom’s house. Doing all this with radiation fatigue and a 4 yr old can be a bit challenging. I was so tired by 6pm! We didn’t get home until 10pm and then we stayed up wrapping the “Santa” gifts and getting everything ready for Christmas morning.

Geez, this post isn’t that positive but I will end it with saying this – I’ve never appreciated family time during the holidays as much as I have this year. It was nice to go through the holidays knowing that I was cancer free. Now, I just need to make sure it stays that way. That is a whole other post for another day. Just not today. With that I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and pray for happiness and health to all my family and friends. Looking forward to a relaxing day tomorrow. Maybe I’ll stay in PJ’s all day. Maybe.

My parents, sister and I on Christmas Eve.

My parents, sister and I on Christmas Eve.

My little punkin on Christmas morning.

My little punkin on Christmas morning.

I was outside of Toys R Us at 6:45am to get a ticket for the Doc McStuffens Care Center. No this wasn’t on black Friday or the weekend after Thanksgiving. This was just a normal Sunday morning in December. Apparently this was one of the “hot” toys this season. The best thing is that I got it for only $59.99 since they price matched with Target.

December 26, 2013

Deb’s OR Flash Mob

I saw this video this morning on Facebook. Below is the article I copied/pasted. Such an awesome video!! Would’ve been fun to do before my surgery, but I can honestly say this was the last thing on my mind as my nerves where outta control!

Original article:

Facing a double mastectomy with grace takes courage. Facing one with courage and joy is extraordinary.

But that’s exactly what Deborah Cohan did yesterday right before she went into surgery to have her breasts removed. Cohan, an Ob/Gyn and mom of two, held a dance party with her medical team in the operating room of Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco.

This inspiring 6-minute-long video, posted on YouTube, shows Cohan busting some serious moves as she wiggles and twerks to Beyonce’s hit “Get Me Bodied.” Cohan requested that friends and family make videos of themselves dancing to Bey too so that she could watch them during her recovery. “I have visions of a healing video montage,” she wrote. “Nothing brings me greater joy than catalyzing others to dance, move, be in their bodies. Are you with me people?”

They were. You can check out videos of Deborah’s fans shaking their booties in solidarity on her CaringBridge page.

Deborah, we wish you a speedy recovery. And can we go clubbing with you when you’re all better?

November 8, 2013

Back to work after double mastectomy

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Wow….what a week! I’m not sure where to even start with this post. This girl gets to put on her big girl pants and go back to work! I think I’m more mentally ready than I am physically. A double mastectomy is no walk in the park when it comes to recovery.  However, I’m excited to go back to work for many reasons. One being that we have some exciting things going on and I can’t wait to get back in the middle of it all! When you’re in marketing, no day is the same, so I have no idea what I’ll be walking into.

My plan for going back to work

I have been taking small naps throughout the day since my surgery. Obviously, there will be no napping for me once I go back to work.  I’ll only be working part-time tomorrow and Friday but I’m sure I’ll be exhausted come 8pm. The first couple weeks back will be hard but with a flexible schedule, I think the transition will be much easier. It will be weird going back to work after my double mastectomy, but it’s all in my head.  On a good note, I’m looking forward to our Friday night as we will be going to a little carnival here in Brandon called  November Fest. I’m such a dork but I truly am looking forward to it. Both Justin and I are nerdy like that. We may love it more than Gianna. But whats not to love? Family time, memories, rides, fun houses, beer, elephant ears….need I say more??

Other happenings

Now to the not so fun parts. Gianna got an infection again this past Monday (same one for the second time). She’s doing much better and it has cleared up tremendously thanks to antibiotics and some cream that I can’t even pronounce. Staph infections are no joke and this is the second one she’s had in the last two months. We also have a very close family member that was admitted into ICU last night. If you don’t mind please keep her in your prayers. It’s very serious but also lovely to see family come together for the ones they love.  Radiation starts next week. On to the next lap in the marathon.

Did I mention I got my port removed Tuesday???? I’m so happy! It was really noticeable on me and Florida weather calls for tank tops- even in the October & November months!

Sweet dreams-this girl has a career to go on with tomorrow!

Obviously I'm the only one who took Halloween seriously in this pic! haha!

Obviously I’m the only one who took Halloween seriously in this pic! haha!

November 7, 2013

Even better news than we thought.

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On Tuesday I had my post-op appointment and received what I consider to be the best news we’ve received since this whole cancer thing became a part of my life. Chemo killed everything. There was NOTHING left of it and it has been 100% confirmed that cancer was never in my lymph nodes. So the 7mm of cancer that the doctor saw during surgery turned out to be NOTHING but part of my tissue.  Let me say that again, in a different way. They said I’m CANCER FREE AND THAT IS A FACT. A truer fact than it was last week.  Living in the present has never been a  thing that comes natural to me, so I had to ask how this all relates to my future and long-term prognosis. His exact words were,   “It has everything to do with it”. My prognosis is excellent and although there is no guarantee that the little son of a bitch will never return, we damn sure killed every bad cell that was in my body.  We’ll proceed with some insurance that comes in the form of radiating beams. That starts in less than a month.

Aside from having the most horrible sleep I’ve ever had-I’m doing ok after surgery. I can’t drive so I’m kinda at the mercy of others but with two drains, (I had 4 but the doc removed 2 of them on Tuesday) going out isn’t at the top of my priority list right now. And going from a DD to a whatever I am now is kinda nice. Justin said I look like an A/B-cup. Hopefully I can get one more fill before I start radiation.

I really appreciate all the emails, text messages, FB messages, flowers and cards from everyone. Hugs and kisses to all of you! XOXO

October 17, 2013

Days Leading Up to Double Mastectomy Surgery

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It’s day 5 after my double mastectomy and I must say I feel pretty darn good. I am on some good pain meds and I know that has a lot to do with it-Lol! I wanted to document how I felt the day leading up to my surgery. But first, I have to write about the Sunday before. It was a great start to my surgery week.

Sunday morning I went to church. I went by myself because Gianna wanted to sleep in with Daddy.   I know what some of you are thinking—I can’t believe he didn’t go with her! Especially, right before surgery. Listen, I grew up with my Mom going to church on most Sundays without my Dad. For me, its normal. Would I love for him to go- absolutely! In time, I believe he will make his way to that 3rd to the last pew in the center isle and join me.

Thankfully my Mom and I go to the same church so I knew she’d be there. I sang my heart out to one of my favorite songs, Going Through the Motions by Matthew West. You are missing out if you haven’t heard this song. After church we all went to my parents house for some yummy Spanish food. My Mom loves to cook and it definitely comes through in the food. By the time we got home from my parents it was around 4. My two BFFs were coming over to spend some QT with me before my surgery. Amanda brought Kendal with her so Gianna was happy to have some company too. Jose Cuervo also made a visit, but I didn’t really entertain him much. We talked, ate, chilled, laughed and before leaving Melissa wanted to say a prayer. I didn’t even think about doing that with all of us and I’m so glad we did because it was such an awesome, powerful moment. Melissa led the prayer as we all stood in a circle in the middle of my kitchen holding hands. It was me, Chanty, Kendal, Gianna, Melissa and Amanda. Justin’s not much into prayer (I do believe he will be saved one day) but half-way through the prayer he came over and held mine and Gianna’s hand. After “amen” we all hugged each other and cried. I can’t explain it but what I do know is that God gave me the most amazing friends.

 The day before surgery 10/8/13

The day before my surgery (Tuesday)  started like every other day. I dropped Gianna off at school and headed to work. The plan was for me to work until 12pm, pick up Gia from school and just spend the afternoon together. She was so excited for our mommy/daughter time. I knew I wouldn’t be carrying any big pumpkins soon so I wanted to take her to the pumpkin patch so she can pick out her pumpkin before things got a little strange for this 4 year old.

Before even making it inside her classroom she was out of her chair telling her friends, “My Mommy is here and I’m going to the pumpkin patch!”. Gianna had been telling her classmates  and teacher all day that we were going to the pumpkin patch! Mrs. Ferguson said that she told everyone that Mommy was picking her up early. That seriously made me feel awesome!

At the pumpkin patch she picked out her big pumpkin plus 6 little ones. Afterwards, we went for ice cream at Menchies. She LOVES that place! I didn’t talk to her about what the days ahead were going to be like. That’s not what this time was about. I wanted to make her day and some memories that she would always remember-I mean, how many kids get out of school to go pick out pumpkins and eat ice cream! I don’t really remember much of that evening at home though-I know that’s pretty weird.

On Wednesday (surgery day), we arrived at Moffitt at 7:45am…..15 minutes late. Are you surprised?!  The first thing they did was inject me with blue dye. One reason is so the surgeon can see what lymph nodes to take out. Even though my MRI showed no cancer cells there could still be microscopic cancer cells left behind. The surgeon took out 1-2 lymph nodes from each side-they appeared clear of cancer but, we won’t know for sure until I get the pathology report.

After they injected the dye there was nothing left to do but wait. Before going into surgery, my Mom and my best friends Mom Barbara came to see me. We talked a little bit about the stress that Amanda and I put them through during high school. Lets just say we were far from angels. Before going back-we held hands and said one last prayer. Barbara prayed out loud which is a HUGE thing for her. I’m so happy that she did it under these circumstances. Barbie-thank you for being there for my Mom….you are a beautiful person. I know where Manda gets her big heart from.

How to prepare for a double masectomey

  1. Pick up your kids and hold them often. It will be awhile before you are allowed to lift anything above 5-10lbs
  2. Make sure you have sports bras that clip in the front. I suggest getting at least 5.
  3. Get small pillows to support your arms while you lay in bed. These are especially helpful when you sleep. I think long  small throw pillows worked best. You can tuck them under your arm and you will find it brings some major relief to the area.
  4. On the ride home, have a big pillow against your chest. Trust me when I tell you that you feel every single bump on the road.
  5. Ask for help! This is a hard one for many of us. Just say, “ok” when your friends or family offer to help you.
  6. Buy some sassy button up pajamas to wear home. I promise that it will lift your spirits during what is already a very difficult time.
  7. Keep everything that you will need at home below shoulder level. You won’t be able to lift your arms very high for a few days.
  8. Get some comfy socks or slippers to wear around the hospital
  9. Mediate, pray, sing, walk – do something that brings you peace and feeds your soul
  10. Take a deep breath and remember that there is a huge army of woman that have been exactly where you are at. You CAN and WILL get through it.
October 13, 2013