Weekend Update

The last few days have been very interesting. Not bad. But not good either.

My new granddaughter, Kayla, is still in the womb. She is now about 4 days overdue. Mandy, as expected, more than ready to be delivered! We're all waiting, not-so-patiently, for Kayla's arrival. So that didn't happen.

My grandson, Judah, got sick while Ricky and Rosie were on vacation in California. They came home early and had to take him to the emergency room on Sunday because he was having trouble breathing. Highline Hospital transported him up to Children's in Seattle. Judah received several treatments to help his breathing throughout the day and they finally let them come home late Sunday night.

My sister, Janet, came down from Bellingham on Sunday and brought her juicer with her. She showed me how to juice vegetables and fruits for high nutritional value and antioxidant juices. My goal is to do that in order to help my healing process and to get as healthy as I possibly can. It was good seeing her, and it was a BIG help.

So Thursday, the day after surgery, was good. I had energy, only moderate pain as long as I didn't move my arm or get bumped. Friday was not so good. I don't know if more drugs were wearing off or what, but I hurt everywhere and had a hard time doing anything. I had hoped to work, but I just couldn't get myself going. So I didn't work at all.

My emotions still kinda go everywhere though they are stablizing. I do have a dilemma facing me though. The day before surgery, I had a job interview for a new position in another group (still under the same VP). They offerred me the job and wanted an answer right away. So the conundrum is do I take it (probably in a safer position should there be downsizing) but starting a new job means stress. I DO NOT want more stress at this juncture. That is one thing I'm reading about - minimize stress. It also is not in a system development area, it is for sustaining systems. I'm very passionate about my current project, even with all of its problems. So what do I do? Go for the safer job, or stick where I'm at? My current situation is 100% virtual so I work from home. The new job is probably only about 40% virtual. I would have to go in. My current group would really work with me through my plethora of dr. appointments; I'm sure the new one would but I would not have built up the relationships to carry me through some of my potential "cloudy" thinking days.

Ahh, what to do. I've been tossing it around; thinking, praying, talking to folks, and am still up in the air. I gave a tentative "yes", but left an out, which I might need.



It's Been One Week

One week has past since the awful diagnosis.

I had my lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy yesterday and I am happy to report that the preliminary lymph node biopsy came out clear. They send it out right in the middle of the surgery for pathologists to take a look so that the surgeon could remove more if needed, right then and there. There are additional tests they'll be doing on the node as well as the other tissue they removed. I won't have the results on that for about a week or so. From there they'll be able to tell me what stage of cancer I'm in: stages 1 to 4. I am calling on my friends and family to believe this is in stage 1. I believe we caught it early enough. The ongoing care for stage 1 is a much easier road to travel. I am also very glad I did not opt for a full mastectomy.

I made it home by around 2:30. We had to stop for a bite to eat since I hadn't been allowed to eat. I was starved. I spent the afternoon in bed of course. The hospital has a cancer care nurse who supplied James with a bag full of books, pamphlets, and two miniature pillows. I snorted when I saw them and said "what in the heck would I want with those!" Well within a few moments of settling down in bed, I realized exactly what they were for. I needed a tiny pillow to rest between my arm and my side so they wouldn't touch. Smart lady! I've had that little pillow with me ever since; tucked up under my arm, keeping my icy pouch company.

I've been getting flowers, beautiful cards, wonderful emails and notes on FB and this blog. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of friends and family. I am truly thankful for the outpouring. I can't imagine people having to go through the fearful journey alone. I can't imagine it particularly if someone were in the advanced stages where the treatments nearly kill you.

Today I will rest, read and paw through the material I got at the hospital. I haven't decided if I'll try to work tomorrow or not. I think it will largely depend on my pain levels and how tired I get. It is not a busy day, so I may be able to simply catch up on email and work on one small item I've got on my plate. Nothing strenuous of course. I promise!

Thank you everyone for your prayers and comfort.



Say "Bye Bye" to the Shock

The last 24 hours were better. I think the shock and fear are starting to settle down some. The fear is still there, but more like a stalker waiting in the shadows; annoying and troublesome and something I'm going to have to deal with more permanently at some point. The "restraining order" put out by dozens of people who are praying for me keeps that devilish fear away from my minute-by-minute thoughts.

Tomorrow looms large. My surgery is at 8:00 a.m., though I have to show up at 7:00 for some pre-tests, dye injections, and the like. I hope to be home around 2 or so. I most likely will sleep for the following 24 hours.

The analytical side of me sprang to life yesterday. I called the doctor and had him fax me my pathology report from the biopsy (about 10 days ago). Nearly everything was gobbledy gook to me except for the word cancer, so I hit the internet to find out what they all meant. There are Nottingham grades, Bloom-Richardsom scores, and mitonic rates, and more. Whew. I sure don't know anything yet. I most definitely have to get myself educated. I know I'm sure getting lots of information from family and friends on vitamin, mineral, herbal cures, books to read, websites, doctors, and the like. I hope to read through most of them, digest them, and make sound judgements and decisions on my health armed with all this information.

One thing that has amazed me is the huge outpouring of support, encouragement and prayer from my friends. Some of them are people I haven't talked to in years (I guess I can thank Facebook for that. I have been able to re-connect to dozens and dozens of precious friends from years ago that are now standing with me.) That has turned out to be a big blessing. It has surprised me the ones that respond are many times not the ones I would have expected. It sure helps my heart feel warm. I most certainly do not feel alone.

My family has also really rallied around me. They all come close. I get LOTS of hugs, phone calls, and emails that are warm and full of offers of support. I still don't really know how to let them help yet, hopefully that will come. But I am beyond appreciative of the warmth and love they've extended. I feel very cushioned in their care. I have a great family.

Thank you everyone for being here with me. I love you all.


Roller Coasters

I've been on an emotional roller coaster: up one minute and down the next, then a huge curve with a spiral loop that turns one upside down. When you get done, you're nauseated and not sure you made the right choice to ride the thing. Unfortunately, I don't have the option of getting off this monstrosity. I'm locked in for a undetermined duration.

I'd been looking forward to church for a few days; thankful I could hear a positive message and get some good prayer warriors surrounding me in agreement. But when it came down to less than an hour to go, I got the butterflies again. My normal private self dreaded seeing people who might know and might ask questions that I was unprepared to answer. It was James' week for 3rd/4th grade Sunday School, so I knew I would be without my brick by my side. I struggled for a bit, but gritted my teeth, tucked my giant Bible under my arm (couldn't find my little one for the life of me) and headed out.

It didn't turn out so bad. I was alone for the first bit, but sat there, with seats saved for my son and his wife, and just took in my church family as the sanctuary transitioned from one service to the next. I listened to the recorded music and closed my eyes, one minute hoping no one would come and accost me, and wishing someone would the next. I'd then berate myself for wanting the attention one minute or berating myself for wanting to hide away in a cocoon of isolation. Very weird emotional swings going on. Seeing my little grandson, Judah, is very good. I forget everything and focus on his sweet little face. He's such a sweet boy. He had on his Seahawks jersey and was sporting a mohawk fashioned out of his white/blonde hair with lots of gel. His little dimpled grin scattered away the darkness within fractions of a second. Judah makes it easy to forget.

The message today was very poignant. It was about slaying the giants facing you. Good word. Afterwards I went forward to Tom and Tedeen Franz (they'd been told by my sister the day before) and they prayed for me. I also spotted one of my dearest friends on earth and knew I had to tell her before she heard 2nd or 3rd hand. That was an emotional time. All the time she was being kind and full of faith for me, she was weeping. I took her into my arms, assuring her that I wasn't kicking the bucket any time soon. She knows, I know, but it was still an emotional time. We prayed together and parted, yet joined together.

One minute I'm full of faith, the next I'm not. One second it's as if nothing has happened, and then I remember and I spiral down. I'll go grab my Bible or encouraging words from a friend and then step-by-step move up again to where I can be positive, alert, and upbeat.

So by the time James found me, wrapped in the arms of my friend, my small Bible in hand (someone had handed it to him - I'd left it from the week before), we all hugged and agreed to battle this together. That's exactly what I know I need to do. I need all of you, agreeing with me, that cancer will not be the end of me; not now, not five years from now, not 20 years from now. Cancer will NOT be my demise.


Here's the Scoop

So those of you following the last few days know I'm battling breast cancer. My number 1 suggestion to all women is to do your self examinations without fail! My cancer would not have been discovered had I not dogged a lump I felt from back in February. It didn't even show up on my March mammogram or ultrasound. We could all feel it, but it didn't show up as an anomoly for some reason. It kept bugging me though and I kept a tight watch on it. After a few months of feeling it get a little larger and then a day or two of it feeling tender, I finally called the doctor again and made an appointment.

My family practitioner said it did not act or feel like anything more suspicious than a calcium deposit or maybe a clogged duct but for my peace of mind, referred me to a surgeon who might be able to discern if it would be something I should just have excised. That doctor also felt it was probably nothing but offerred to just take it out so I wouldn't have to be bothered any further with the concern. He took it out; it was about the size of a pea. He then sent it over to pathology just as a precaution. Well, you all now know the story. It was cancer. Had it not bugged me, I would have waited until my next annual mammogram (Spring) and it would have had nearly another year to grow and dig its ugly roots into my system. I'd like to think God prodded me to be inpatient with this lump. I'm glad I listened.

So Wednesday, August 26th is the date they go in and take the rest out. I was given the choice of a full masectomy or a lumpectomy. I chose the latter. They'll get any remaining cancer and then some surrounding tissue for samples. They'll also biopsy some lymph nodes under my arm to make sure it hasn't spread into the lymph system. The results of this surgery will determine what stage I'm in and my follow on care. The follow on care could be more surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and who knows what all. I'll keep you posted. I have a LOT of homework to do in order to make informed decisions on how I want to handle this thing.

Really awesome news though: my daughter, Mandy, is due to have Kayla any time now. I'm very jazzed about welcoming my little grandaughter into the world. I can't wait! In the midst of this icky-ness comes a sweet little blessing full of life. Beautiful. Just what I need.


No Pity Please

Friday started out OK. On Thursday night I managed to sleep and was blissfully unaware of this cancer and its dastardly plan for over 7 hours. It was a great escape from thoughts and emotions. I had Friday off, save one meeting, but knew that one meeting was going to not work, so I handed it off to a co-worker. I took a leap into the unknown and told them. I hadn't thought I'd tell people; thought maybe I'd keep mum on this whole thing throughout. But after almost 24 hours of mulling it over, I've decided that is not a good idea. My natural instinct is to shut off, defend, be tough. I think that is part of my lesson in all this. I need to, and have needed to for years, learn how to let others support me and be there for me. I don't have to be strong 100% of the time. (Man that's tough to admit, gulp.)

I spent some time yesterday (Thursday) with a nurse at the hospital who had years of experience with cancer patients. She said one the best cathartic things I could do would be to write down my thoughts, feelings, experiences. Well, you know I love to write. So, maybe some of you will actually read this and walk through this with me. Maybe not though. I don't think my readership is that large. But I do know that the ones I know and count on as friends, do read it. You're the ones that really matter. So read on over these next few weeks. You're exactly who I want to share all this with. It is not the best writing style, it most certainly is not humorous, and it is pretty raw. You're seeing the real me here.

Those that I've told have been fabulous. "How can I help?" "What can I do?" "I'm here for you!" What does that mean? I don't know how to receive support. I don't know how to receive very well I'm afraid. I do know that I'm pretty scared. With the probability that we did catch this in the early stages, my treatment plan could be short and I'll soon be given the all clear. I'll then spend the next few years saying "I'm 2 years cancer-free!" "Three years..." and so on. But I'll be honest, there's always this cloud about the possibility of it coming back. That's where I'll really need to put my faith and trust in God. I've had several dear friends lost after a few years of being "clear" when it came back with a vengence. That scenario scares me.

I want to have faith. I want to receive support from you all. I just don't really know how at the moment. I do hope you will all be patient with me as I work through all this with God.

I appreciate my friends and family very much. I need you all.

P.S. For my first post on this click here


Learning to Lean

I don't even know what to say. My mind is all jumbled up with thousands of thoughts and emotions; I don't know where to start. I don't even know if I should start. But I'm going to. I've lived my life as a very independent person, and maybe this is God's test for me to learn how to lean on Him and others.

I learned on Thursday, August 20th, that I have the big C: cancer. Breast Cancer. It's time to get out my pink ribbon pin, pink Susan G. Komen scarf, pink Susan G Komen bag, the works. Fresh in my mind is my last two years of support for breast cancer with the 5K walk and also the 3-Day (volunteering, I most certainly didn't walk the 3 days). This cause has been important to me for several reasons: my mom (survivor), Linda Cobaugh (non-survivor), and Tina Teel (non-survivor). I know of several other women who have fought this battle and won. I too, will be a winner. Watch me.

But until I've won the battle with the cancer, I have to fight the emotional battle. Cancer is a scary word. My emotions have been all over the place. I dreaded my doctor appointment because two of them played phone tag with me all week and both wanted to see me in their offices. Not a good sign; so I was steeling myself for not-so-good news all week. However, when he finally sat me down and said the word, I wasn't sure what my response would be. Oh outwardly I was fine; calm, cool, collected, but my heart stopped, my stomach churned and I think I forgot to breathe. The first few sentences of the doctor's diagnoses were almost like he was in another room far away. It took a few moments for me to get my bearings and start to actually listen. I grabbed my phone, called James and put it on speaker so we both could hear what he was saying. By then my analytical mind took over and I was able to be rational, ask meaningful questions, and understand what he was saying. I did good I thought.

The next few hours were spent making more appointments, filling out pre-operative paperwork, getting oncologist names/numbers, x-rays, blood tests, EKG, and the like. We're going to hit this hard and fast. I'm going to kill this thing. I am a winner.

So, one moment I feel numb and the next I feel scared and ready to cry. I admit it. I feel like I need a good cry. I'm scared I'm going to do it in front of my kids, sister, or husband and they'll get all weird on me. But maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing. I don't know. I really don't know what to do with myself. I don't know how to handle my loved ones reaction to my situation. I don't like attention. But maybe I need it? Again, I don't know.

But, I'm going to beat this. I have an ace up my sleeve: the healing power of God. I believe He's not done with me yet. He doesn't want me sickly or terminal in any way. I am a winner. Watch me survive.

Eat that cancer.