Thursday, July 29, 2010


Someone recently referenced that Claritin commercial where everything looks a bit fuzzy and then the film is lifted and everything becomes clear. It reminds me of my little cancer journey. Everything became very clear - what was important and what was not. I can feel, on certain days, slipping back into the petty and unimportant. Hard habits are hard to break I guess. 40 years of worrying about silly things and concentrating on daily tasks wont go away easily. I feel like I am constantly trying to maintain that clarity of knowing what really matters. What came so easily for a short time will take much effort to hold on to. I must remember to not let life get in the way of living.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Somehow my eyelashes managed to survive chemotherapy but not the tape they used to close my eyes during surgery. Can I just say that eyelashes grow very, very slowly. Some day I will laugh at this right?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Growing up

This is our increasingly aging son eating his breakfast before heading off this morning for a week with friends on a vacation. I see a glimmer of things to come and I don't like it. I love having him in my little nest and it is hard to let him go. He will be heading off to Jr. High this year and I know that will bring the first taste of real freedom. The leash will have to get a bit longer. Even though he is only a head shorter than me and I can no longer pick him up he is still a little boy in my mind. I am resistant to see him turn into a man. I have had it easy the last few years. The kids are out of diapers and independent but still think I am smart and fun. I know I am heading into uncharted waters here soon and I hope we have prepared ourselves enough to weather the storm of teenage adolescence. Have fun on your trip my sweet little boy - er, I mean - have fun hangin' with your buddies. Yikes, I don't know how to do this!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I am very fortunate that everything turned out the way it did. I don't know if you would call it luck - I call it blessed - but in any case there is something I want to pass on.

I found the lump.

Not one of the mammograms I have been getting from the time I was 30. Not my ob/gyn during my yearly exam.

I found it.

I found it because believe it or not I was pretty good about doing self breast exams. The better you know your own body the more easily you will know when something is wrong. If you do monthly self breast exams you will know the difference between normal lumpy and bumpy tissue and something else that doesn't belong there. If you take the time, and it is only a little bit of time, you could save your life. You remember to pay your bills, fill up the car, wash your hair - make it one of those things. Put a reminder on your cell phone. Write it on the calendar. Anything to make you remember. To do this is free. You don't need to make an appointment or write a check. Sometimes the best diagnostic tool available is our own intuition and logical thought process.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Two weeks from my last picture. It doesn't look like much but if you compare it, the growth is significant. Also some random pics from this past week. Jack competed in a Junior lifeguards competition, we stopped by an ostrich farm and we saw some amazing flower fields. Have a great day!

Monday, July 19, 2010


You stand there waiting. Waiting to start. You hear them say "take your mark" and you prepare yourself. You see it ahead of you - big, solid, ominous. The sound rings in your ears and before you know it you are off. Running straight at this wall. Your feet taking you as fast as they will go towards what your mind thinks is certain pain. You must fight every urge to stop or go around - instead you leap. With all your might you jump - you fly. With any luck you clear the hurdle unscathed but there is a good chance a mark will be left. A nick here - a bruise there. And then you land. Your feet continue to move but you take inventory - any pain? Did I make it? Did I knock it down? Once you have the answer the hurdle is forgotten and you are on to the next. This time more confident. Comfortable in your stride. Convinced that this one will be easier. You are not afraid. Somewhere ahead of you, far beyond your gaze is the finish line.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Half way there!

I was online this morning and noticed how many incredibly wonderful charities are out there. I truly wish I had unlimited funds to contribute to all of the ones that touch my heart. For now I will concentrate one one - Susan G Komen. Why did I chose this charity this year (besides the obvious)? My dear friend Todd has been involved in this charity for several years and has both walked the 60 miles and crewed the "rest stops" along the way. He encouraged me to do the walk a couple of years ago and even though I had good intentions of doing it other things got in the way. I thought it would be too much work to organize child care and travel and subs for my classes etc... How ridiculous. He was almost brought to tears as he described the experience, the love, the stories he heard - and yet I still didn't go. I was also worried about raising the $2300 needed to participate. How could little ol' me raise that much money? Well, here I am 2 years later kicking myself. Better late than never?

I am not walking for me. I am walking in honor of my Mother who I think would have survived if she was given the options for treatment we have today. I am walking for my sisters in hope that more options are available if they are faced with breast cancer. I am walking for my daughter who I hope will never see breast cancer because it will be cured by the time she would be old enough to get it.

I am walking for the millions of women around the world who are faced with this every day. I am walking for their spouses, their children, their parents and their friends. These people are hurt, confused, frustrated and scared just as much as the women going through it. Isn't that almost everyone? Is there someone out there who hasn't been touched by breast cancer?

I am not walking for the experience - I have had the experience of a lifetime. I am walking for the cure.

I am almost half way there. Thank you to those of you who have donated. There is still plenty of time to donate if you feel the call - a little goes a long way. Together we can make a difference and beat this thing once and for all.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Today I saw Dr. Wonderful for a follow - up appointment and also my Oncologist who I will call Dr. Amazing. I enjoy Dr. Wonderful's company so much I am glad that we have become friends outside of breast cancer. I don't have another appointment scheduled with her and I think I will just see her professionally once a year so I will now have to find another way to enjoy her company. Lunch dates or shopping - I am not complaining.

I saw Dr. Amazing for the first time since my surgery and we both did the happy dance when he walked in the door. Both of us were smiling from ear to ear - happy with the results (I couldn't stop hugging him). He told me he couldn't be more pleased with how things turned out. In fact he said that the bit of cancer that had survived the chemo was really slow growing, beginning stage cancer that never would have responded to chemo and just needed to be cut out - and it was. For some reason I was holding my breath to hear it come out of his mouth. It is real now. It is OVER now. I stopped by the pharmacy to pick up Tamoxifen and will see Dr. Amazing one more time in 6 weeks just to make sure I am not having any strange side effects but my life is almost completely back to normal (new normal that is). One itty bitty surgery to go and I can get back to life.

One more note. My dear, sweet, amazing Liz. My angel and soul sister. I would not be here telling this great story if it were not for you. You guided me to all the right paths and held my hand the entire way. Thank you my friend!

Pay it forward

I heard someone say the other day "the words 'thank you' just are not enough for what I feel inside". This is exactly how I feel. I feel in debt to all of you - my family, friends, doctors, nurses and everyone who has prayed for me or encouraged me in some way and they don't even know me. How could I possibly re-pay all of you? I can't. I hope I will be there if you are in need and if you are ever faced with a challenge I will be right there with you but this may never happen. All I can do is promise that I will pay if forward every time there is an opportunity. Being on the receiving end of such grace and love has been an amazing experience but now it is time for me to be on the giving end. The scale is out of balance and I want it to start tipping the other way.

You are all in my daily prayers. You have shown me the power of prayer and you can count me in as someone who will be praying for you. I pray that you feel the love that I have felt. I pray that every moment of your life is filled with gratitude and growth and friendship. Thank you is not enough but your compassion will extend far beyond what you can see.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Physical Therapy?

Yesterday I had my first session of PT. Why you ask? Because they took out 14 lymph nodes from underneath my left arm and I need to re- train my body to drain lymphatic fluid to other lymph node. Because of that part of the surgery I also have limited mobility in my left arm.

The first 45 minutes were dedicated to teaching me how to do at home exercised to increase mobility and blood flow. Paaahhhllllleeeaaaasssseeee! Like I don't know how to do exercises - I was thinking to myself this is just going to be stupid. I was gravely mistaken. I was taken from tough chick who knows everything to whining, whimpering baby who doesn't have a clue. She kept saying "just a little more.." AHHHHHH!!!! It felt like my arm was made of wood and was going to snap at any moment.

The next hour and 20 minutes were dedicated to something completely different. I laid down and she turned the lights off and I proceeded to get the most wonderful gentle massage. She was manipulating the fluid in my body and directing it to new places but it just felt like heaven to me.

I left the building with more energy and feeling better than I had since before surgery. I guess the nasty painful part was well worth the massage at the end. I asked her if I really only needed 3 weeks of therapy - wouldn't 6 months be more beneficial? She humored me and said she would re-evaluate after 3 weeks.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Moment

The other night my niece, Myrah (who is here until next Monday) went to see the new Twilight movie with some friends of ours and that left our little family unit home. We were all sitting around the table and it occurred to me that this was the very first time all 4 of us had been alone since before my surgery - 3 weeks ago.

The kids had a bit of a melt down. There were tears and hugs. I think, and hope, that it was from relief. They hadn't had a chance to process all of that fear and anxiety from the day of surgery and the subsequent recovery they had to observe. When you are a child you think your parents are invincible. They are the strong ones who are suppose to take care of you. For them to see me move so slowly with tubes in me and bandages everywhere must have been extremely hard.

I hope their security in knowing that their parents will be there to help them and love them and be strong for them is returning. I know their world was rocked and mortality became a very real thing for them much earlier than for most children. I can not take that away - it will always be there - but I hope it gives them strength and a fierce love for life that will help carry them through. I hope it strengthened their faith which is just starting to materialize. I wish I could take everything I have learned in the last 6 months and transfer it into their minds - but I can't. It is not their time to learn those things yet. Instead I will keep them in a jar and give those treasured lessons to them the best that I can one at a time - hopefully right when they need it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pump up the volume...

pump up the volume, pump up the volume - dance! dance!

OK so I normally would not put this on my blog but it was just too surreal to not. I went in today for my first "expansion" and it was the funniest thing to be chatting with the surgeon as he is injecting saline into my chest and I can see it "grow" right before my eyes. How completely strange. I do feel much more normal now. You wouldn't know that I had double mastectomies 3 weeks ago - there is definitely more "shape" there.

Now if this darn hair would just grow. This is 8 weeks after my last chemo treatment. I am going to give you a weekly or by-monthly photo progress report. It doesn't feel like real hair yet - mostly like baby hair.

I asked my doc about exercising and it looks like I need to take it slow for awhile. I guess I will be doing the waltz for a bit before stepping into my hip hop shoes.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Happy Independence Day! What that word really means hit home for me on so many levels this year. How fortunate we all are.

I want to take this time to thank all of you for your kind words, cards, flowers, gifts, meals, hugs, prayers and thoughts. I am working on thank you cards but they are piling up with my company here and I will get to them - I promise. I just want you all to know that this recovery would never have been as easy as it has been without all of you. Again, you lifted me up and I sailed right through. You gave me faith, strength and love and that is more healing than anything else. I love you all!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn over the last few months is that nothing in this world is mine. My children do not belong to me - they are being loaned to me to take care of and nurture. My house, my things - they are all just items I am fortunate enough to get to use for awhile.

I have had a very hard time letting go of my classes. The ones I worked so incredibly hard to build and create. I have felt jealousy when I see that others have taken them over and are thriving. Zumba especially. My new little baby I dove in to teach less than a year ago with so much dedication and commitment. When I started there were only a few instructors on the central coast. Now there are many and the program is taking off like crazy. I wish I was a part of it but knowing that I think I inspired those who have taken my place gives me comfort. I know now, finally, that my job was to get the ball rolling and it is the job of others to keep it going. In order to share such a fun and beneficial program with as many people as possible the tree must grow many branches.

I hope I can take this lesson that I have learned and apply it to everything in my life. Life is not about owning or keeping - it is about sharing and giving.