Five Weeks and Counting

I have finally started radiation. Dr. Deming is my radiation oncologist and he is very sweet. He is a very gentle man and always smiling.

When you first meet with the oncologist, they do the standard vitals and then set you up for a ‘mapping’ appointment. To me, mapping sounds like your mapping your travels. I wish I were going on a trip! This mapping is with a scan so they can mark where they want to do the radiation. For this mapping I stripped down to my waist, laid down on the gurney, put my hands up over my head and grabbed two posts, turned my head to my left and hold it there for what seemed like hours but was only 15 minutes or so. Oh did I mention my feet were bound so they wouldn’t move. Now this started to feel like a recent released movie that everyone was talking about. It actually was more like Fifty Shades of Red! The tech, of course was male, also gave me my first and only four tattoos. They are so tiny that I can’t pick them out. They’re the size of a dot, a pin poke. I have one on both sides of my chest and then two in the cleavage of my bosom.

It takes about 10 to 14 days for them to process my mapping and come up with a plan for radiation. I had my first radiation on March 9th. I have a great couple of gals that do the actual radiation-Cheryl and Drema. There’s another one that works on Mondays but she is not my favorite. I lay on the gurney with my knees supported by a wedge. I get into my Fifty Shades of Red position, and then using the sheet beneath me the girls tug and pull me into position. It reminds me of when you’re making a bed with someone and you say I have so many inches over here, what’s your side like… When they finally get me into position, they leave the room and the big machine takes over. If you hold your arms in a big circle that’s about the size of the machine that puts out my radiation. It starts on my left side (remember I have my head turned to the left so that’s all I see) and there are little bars inside a big window type thing that move back and forth in a pattern that is program just for me. It is there about a minute then it moves over me and is there another minute or two, then to my right side for another minute or two. I think it takes me longer to change then the actual treatment. Chris timed me the day he went with and it’s about ’15 to 17 minutes’ from the time I left the waiting room until I returned.

The only side effects I could experience are redness (like a sunburn) at the sight-(that’s right, my boob, folks) and fatigue. I am tired, but I don’t know if it is from the radiation or the driving back and forth and back and forth from Des Moines. It’s only been a week and I’m already tired of the drive/ride. I am hoping before I’m done, the landscape will be green and showing signs of SPRING!!

I have some wonderful people taking time out of their days to take little ole me. Shout out to Lora, Dana, Bob and Mary. You all rock!! And of course Chris. He has been my entertainment making me sing songs from Frozen. I’m about ready to let him go! I do love that brat (and I call him that with affection). I let him drive home from Netwon. He did an excellent job. There was no one behind him so he could go at a speed he was confortable with. My little boy is growing up.

Well time to head for Des Moines. Until next time–

My Interview with Ellen DeGeneres

Okay so maybe it wasn’t with Ellen, but the interviewer made me cry like Ellen would. We sat across from each other and she threw the questions at me. It sure felt like an interview.

I was asked what was the worst part of cancer. It made me stop and think for a moment. Was it the chemo? The nausea? The fatigue? What was the worst part?

The worst part for me was the thought of dying. Oh I know where I’m going- no doubt about it. I am okay with dying. An awesome person once told me that he was okay with dying- he was going to meet God. I have to agree with him. I can’t wait to meet God and walk those streets of gold.

I may be okay with dying, but there’s someone that would not be ready for me to go– Chris. I go back to the day when he learned of my diagnosis and told Jarl he could not lose his mama. What do you say to that? Yes he may be 21 but he is not like most 21 year olds. He is like a little boy trying to find his way in the world and I cannot die until he finds it. I plan to stick around as long as it takes.

Yes there were other times that were hard- after the initial diagnosis I would climb into bed and pull the blanket over my head and cry– for me. Why me? What’s going to happen? When I would get really tired, I had pity parties. There were hard times, but God saw me through them.

My friend then asked me what the best part of cancer was? SEE I told you it was like an interview. The best part of cancer? REALLY? Yes really. There can be something good come out of cancer. You have to really look for it, but it can be there.

God made Himself known to me in so many ways. The peace He gave me throughout my treatment is indescribable. He gave me the ability to laugh through it all. He brought friends into my life that I may never have known. The support all my friends showed me was from God. He showed me His love day after day after day. Even on days when I asked where He was, He was there, holding me, loving me.

I praise God for bringing me through cancer. I thank Him for using me through cancer and I hope I made Him proud as I tried to be the kind of soldier I was called to be.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

This is my 50th blog and I wanted it to be something special. What’s more special than a mom. Especially when it’s my mom.

Today (Feb 13th) she would have been 89. I cannot even imagaine her 89. What would she be like? Would she be a crazy cat lady? I really doubt it since I don’t think she was crazy about the cats we had growing up. Would she and Dad have traveled? I like to think she could have talked him into at least seeing this country. I know she and her sister Lillian would have done things together if Dad didn’t want to.

I also know she would have loved all her grandchildren and spoiled them. Laura and Tricia were really the only ones that knew her. Melissa was only two, Kim was a baby and Chris wasn’t even born yet. She also would have loved being a great grandma to Skylor, Lilly and Sophia.

I would have loved to have had her in the front row when Jarl and I got married. Would she have cried that her baby was FINALLY out of the nest? Or would she have laughed and said ‘she’s your problem now, Jarl”?

I wish she could have known Chris, her only grandson. Oh she would have loved him. I know she would have been his biggest fan and advocate for autism. She would have listened to him tell his stories over and over and sit with him to watch Thomas the Tank Engine over and over. She would have been his biggest cheerleader as he received his diploma.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She was an amazing woman. She couldn’t cook, but we somehow survived childhood eating her burnt to a crisp roasts. She loved working at the schools and took her job seriously. It made Mom sad when a student would come in smelling like cigarette smoke or mention they hadn’t had breakfast. She would be really sad to see how students are today.

I miss you more than words can say, Mom. Happy birthday! Have a glass of wine! Cheers!

Surgery and Beyond

It’s been one weeks and four days since my lumpectomy.  Grinnell Regional might have its issues,  but Mercy Hospital leaves a lot to be desired.  The pre-op and post-op rooms were very small, curtains for doors and no bathroom. The staff while very nice seemed to rush through directions and I felt we were rushed out.

Thankfully the surgery went as expected. I first had a ‘seed’ inserted. This was fun–not! I had a mammogram while sitting in a chair not unlike a chair at the barber’s! They were looking for the marker that had been placed in my breast at the time of my biopsy. My boob was squished for several minutes while the doctor placed what is called a seed in my breast. Then they took several pictures to be sure it was in the right place. Oh did I mention it was radioactive? A guy had to come in and scan the room before we could leave. WHAT?? I then was moved to another room where Dr. Beck pushed dye into the seed. This dye would travel to the affected lymph nodes. By doing this, Dr. Beck would only remove those nodes.

After surgery a band was placed around my chest. This band is more like a tube top with a heavy Velcro closure. It’s even pretty-purple with flowers. I might wear it this summer–;) I had to wear this until my first follow up appointment. I also had a drain that had to be emptied and the amount logged every 8 hours. My adoring husband did this without complaint.

I have always come out of anesthesia easily, but I felt it took longer than normal Even after they took me to post-op I was very sleepy. Jarl and I both took a little nap

Monday I had my follow up where Dr. Beck removed the drain YEA!! She also had the pathology report. She was very pleased with it. The chemo did an awesome job shrinking everything. The cluster of lymph nodes had been shrunk down to .8mm. Dr. Beck was reluctant to release me back to work but I convinced her to let me go back to work part time next week. My job is not that physical so I should be fine

I still have to wear the band or a bra 24 hours a day. I have found that the underwire in my bras runs right over my incision so I am going to have to buy a sports bra. TMI??

I have an appointment with the radiation doctor. I thought I’d be able to do that in Marshalltown, but unfortunately I have to go to Des Moines. I don’t know how often.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It has been a journey. One I wouldn’t choose to take, but God has been with me through it all. I give Him all the glory!


Jarl and I met with my surgeon on Wednesday. Dr. Beck is with Katzmann Breast Center in Des Moines. I really like her. I feel very comfortable with her and have faith in her to take care of me and get rid of this cancer.

I will be having a lumpectomy on January 26th at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. It will be an outpatient surgery and I should be off work 2 to 4 weeks. A lumpectomy is less invasive than a mastectomy. Dr Beck will go in and remove all the tissue that was surrounding the tumor along with any involved lymph nodes. I am comfortable with this decision although I know there are risks that the cancer could come back. Several weeks after surgery I will begin radiation which will be every day for several weeks. (they told me but I forgot…)

Dr. Beck requested a MRI of my breast which I could have done at Mercy Hospital. (I keep re-reading what I wrote and I keep saying “we” where I should put ‘I’. Jarl may not be going through it, but he is with me all the way! :) Would you believe that I could not have the MRI because my butt wouldn’t fit in the tube?? I have had many MRI’s and never had that problem. I know I have a big arse but I’m sure there are others out there much bigger than me. How embarassing. Of course the tech had to be a skinny minny. I hate her. Anyway- she called Dr Beck who said to have a mammorgram. They could take me right away. Now, we are at the very east end of the hospital. We had to walk clear to the west end of the building, took a left and walked clear to the south end of the building, take another left and walk clear to the end of the building. Do you see where I’m going with this? We could have walked outside and gotten there quicker. Due to having just gotten over having chemo and being sick I had a hard time breathing and walking. I was so glad to get it over with and head home.

I had hoped I would feel more normal by now, but I was kicked down by strep throat and possibly the flu. I don’t think I have ever felt so sick than I did last week. The coughing was horrible. I am finally on the mend from that but still very tired.

I feel the end is in sight! It has been quite the journey. Not one I would do again but God has been with me along with alot of prayer warriors. There is a reason for this… I may not know it this side of Heaven, but I know it’s all in God’s plan.

I’m So Glad God Never Takes A Break

I read that on a Facebook post and it has never been more true for me as this year. God has been with me each and every step since my diagnosis of breast cancer. I know he’s always with me but I have felt his presence constantly this year. He was with me when I had that very first mammogram. He was with me when the radiologist (who I still haven’t forgotten) told me ‘it doesn’t look good” and “I hope I’m wrong’. He was with me when I got the call that changed my life. God held me when I cried myself to sleep. He was with Jarl and me when we told Chris. God never took a break as I went through 16 rounds of chemo.

I have never felt alone or even scared. I know this is all in God’s plan for me and the peace I feel is indescribable.

God has put people in my life that pray for me, encourage me, and even just let me cry on their shoulder. Yes, I cry, but my tears are usually because I am overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed by His love. Overwhelmed that He could love me with all my sin.

I am also overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I have received. Overwhelmed that people I don’t even know are praying for me. It never ceases to amaze me when people send a card or tell me they’re praying for me. I am not alone in this fight because God never takes a break.

Ding Dong Chemo Done!!!

YES, YES, YES!!! Yesterday was my last day of chemo. I thought it would be just another day of chemo. It was far from just another chemo day. It turned out to be a great day– well as much as a chemo day can be.
I met with Dr. Heddinger at 9:00. I tried to let him down easy that we wouldn’t see each other anymore, but he wasn’t falling for it. He just can’t let it go. We’ll be seeing each other again at the end of February.
Did I mention that Chris went with us. I was hoping he would sit me with through chemo, but after having to wait so long when I was in with Dr. H., he was ready to go. He can talk my ears off so, that was fine. I had my laptop and the TV. AND I was in for the surprise of the day when two of my besties walked into the chemo suite with balloons. Martha and Connie were there to help me celebrate my last day. I have known Connie for several years as I was her assistant and in the last couple years I’ve gotten to know Martha. They are both sweethearts and have been two of my biggest supporters this year. Connie works in a different bay now but she never fails to either email or text me. Martha works in my bay and not a day goes by that I don’t get a big hug from her. They were able to spend about 45 minutes with me. A big thank you to their managers for letting them spend time with me on a Monday!!!
The balloons were awesome! One was a mylar with Tigger saying ‘Congratulations You Did it!’ The other was huge, yellow, and a big smile on it. We all though it was so cute. I told them I would have to come up with a name for it as that’s what I do. I said I should do a combo of their names. Cortha? No. Blowling? NO! One of them came up with Marnie and it stuck! I have had so much fun with Marnie. Yesterday we shared secrets, she kissed me on the cheek, played Hide and Seek and then she watched me sleep– creepy. There’s pictures on Facebook of our adventures. I have a new bestie to be on my team!!
Jarl took me to West Side Diner for lunch and I got my West Side Burger– Yum. I went home and took a nap, played with Marnie and then last night we went to Pagliai’s thanks to some wonderful neighbors and Jarl’s co-worker T-Bone, who gave us gift certificates. All in all it turned out to be a great way to end chemo.
Our next step is to see the surgeon on January 14th. We will decide what procedure I will need and go from there.
2015 is GOING to be a better year!! Happy New Year’s to all my readers and my supporters! I love you all!!