LIVESTRONG:

And in June 2013 we are back in the revolving door of doctors, this time for my heart. So the focus has shifted, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.


LIVESTRONG: I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. WE WILL WIN!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well.

WARNING:
Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Is Cancer Just Bad Luck?

I'm finding the new reports of most cancer types being just bad luck very interesting. Often times I read about or hear others talk about how they "saved" their lives by changing their diet drastically, or changing their lifestyle, or began some new regime. The following article from John Hopkins talks about cancer often being the luck of the draw.

So let's not be so hard on ourselves, or others, by second guessing why or how they got cancer. One cannot judge what another should be doing to get healthy from, or prevent, cancer. Instead, we need to allow others to navigate their way through what is best for them, with the assistance of their highly educated doctors, and advice from loved ones. Until we walk in someone else's shoes...

John Hopkins - Cancer Due To Bad Luck

And while on the subject, this is a simple video discussing the importance of self breast exam and early detection.

Breast Cancer 101 ~ What to look for


Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.




Mammogram

I'm sitting here waiting for my annual Mammogram. My first one as a screening, rather than post-cancer diagnostic. It feels good to be four years out, but these tests always always cause me anxiety.

Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.



Friday, January 2, 2015

Cardiologist Appointment - CHECK!

Well our phone land lines have been down for a couple of days since that wind storm. Finally today we are back online with a temporary fix, so I could get back to this post I had started back then. It is much easier for me to do this kind of keyboarding from my desktop computer rather than the iPad or phone. So finally, here goes ~

A couple of days before New Years, we made our quarterly jaunt to Stanford Hospital & Clinics for a follow up appointment with Dr. Michael Fowler, my cardiologist. I'm usually less than excited about a 1pm appointment, because that can mean, as he is often running late (a good thing because he devotes as much time to each patient as they need -- me included), we will get into commute traffic through SF coming home and it will take twice as long as the ride down. Which it did! 1.5 hours to get there, 3 hours to get home. 

Happy couple on the way down, with a beautiful sky that opened up 
o gorgeous sunshine for the remainder of the day.
 


And the drive home was not especially fun with a broken out window just behind me in the passenger door of our pretty new truck. Thank you thugs at Stanford Mall when we stopped for a quick bite before my appointment. As we returned to the truck from that quick bite, I walked to my side and saw glass on the ground and running board, never thinking it was from our vehicle. As I looked up, I noticed the window was gone. 

 

At first it looked like nothing was disturbed or missing. Everything there was just as we left it 20-30 minutes earlier, we thought. It wasn't until later Mark remembered bringing his iPad mini, so went back out from the waiting room to double check. Nada! Lucky for us we had just installed the app to "Find & erase" a device remotely, just in case someone got past his passcode protection.  So as we sat in the waiting room, we took care of all this business.  Thankfully the truck wasn't harmed in any other way and we are so thankful it wasn't worse. It was definitely a bit of an inconvenience as I then needed to catch a cab to my appointment while Mark dealt with filing reports with the mall security company and then the police. And then there was the trip back and forth to the truck to check on it's contents while we waited for our turn with the cardiologist. 

And I need to add that while Chipotle seems to be a smart fast-food stop, when considering other options, I have changed my mind totally. We've been there a few times in the last couple of years, and I liked how you could order something more healthy, like the salad bowl, and see all the calorie contents overhead as you make those choices. But why oh why don't these companies consider other health issues, LIKE SODIUM. Fat is not the only evil. I believe that the lower fat choices are all being sabotaged with either salt or sugar. And sodium is my biggest evil of all. I fight with it every time I shop. There are some good choices out there, but they are few and far between. Just saying, Chipotle, clean up your act. A serving of tomato salsa alone, without any chicken or beans/rice, tortilla, etc., is 470 mg of sodium. A woman cannot live on salsa alone. Just saying. Check it out here on this link and see what I mean. I digress -- sorry for the rant.

But on to the news of my appointment with Dr. Fowler...

It was a very good appointment, considering. Vitals all good, weight good, body not retaining water. So the myriad of medications I continue to take are doing their job. Because, as the doc reminded us, just because I'm feeling good does not mean my heart is better. He does that each time, and each time it kind of gives Mark and I a reality check -- BIG TIME! The fact I had four or so echocardiograms within a six month period, and all showed a very low Ejection Fraction ranging from 12-18%, he says it is unlikely that my heart will improve greatly. Apparently I have about 8-9 years before I would then be bordering on being too old for a transplant. But he also confirmed that the echo is not everything, and the way I feel says so very much. So for now, we continue as is, and live each day to the fullest. I'll see him again late July and we will finally do another echo to see exactly what the old ticker is up to then. Who knows, miracles do happen, and maybe I will surprise them all. I can only think that way now, as it does no good to get down and feel sorry for myself. Especially when I know that others have far more difficult issues they are struggling with.

So we jumped in our truck (without a back side window) and headed our merry way up the Hwy and across the Golden Gate Bridge. At  40 degrees outside, it was a good thing we had a beach towel which Mark fixed over the window held tightly by the door jam. Thank you seat heater. Luckily there was no other damage to our truck. 

A stop Mary's Pizza for some yummy takeout pizza helped to lift our spirits. We will drive up to Sacramento in a couple of days to get the window replaced, and all will be good again here at Brookfarm.

If you are a praying person, please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers for continued health throughout the New Year and years to come.

Someone deposited an adorable moose in our midst ~ Maddie.



Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Love our Christmas Celebrations

Christmas has come and gone, and we survived some kind of intestinal bug. It took DH down pretty good for nearly a full week. Thankfully I only had to deal with it for a couple of days, and a much milder version. Regardless, it is never fun to be sick around Christmas. We were well for the actual holiday, though, so that is a positive note to it all.

We started off all the fun with our annual family holiday gathering. This is where most of my siblings come over for a day of nibbles and holiday cheer. As usual, my dear sweet sister and her family from Montana were greatly missed. A younger brother had a bug and wasn't able to join us either. But between our daughters and their families, including the three most adorable grandchildren I know (wink, wink), four of my siblings and their families, two cousins and spouses, and Gaigey's other Nana, auntie, uncle, and cousin, it was a full house and loads of fun. Everyone pitches in and brings appetizer type plates for us to graze on throughout the afternoon. Then of course there is some gift sharing, lots of visiting, playing outside on what was a nice sunny December Saturday, and just lots of fun times.

Then our girls and families join us Christmas Eve for a wonderful Cioppino dinner and overnighter. We are blessed that they still stay over and we can experience the magic of Christmas morning with them and their three little ones. I imagine that won't last for too many more years as they will most likely want to be in their own home for Santa to visit. Time will tell. Two 3-yr old boys in the house made for quite the active household. But I think everyone slept reasonably well. It was such fun to see the boys interact and play. They are so different, yet alike. It is such fun to see these two cousins getting to know each other and learning to share and play together. It can be such a challenge for a child who is learning all about and exerting their independence. But I think everyone had a good time together.

So now we have the house back to ourselves and are looking forward to a New Year.

I hope you enjoy a few snapshots from our holiday fun.

Alura and Madeleine Mae, our newest member of the family (nearly 5 months)


Nico & Maddie


Auntie Sarah reading to Nico & Maddie

Gaige getting Maddie to smile & laugh.


                               Cousin Denise & I
 

                                                                     Bob & Christine





And New Year's Eve, my sweetie of 42 years (our romance began on New Year's Eve) enjoyed a late lunch at one of our favorites - Rosso Pizzeria, then a movie (Wild), and home by 7:30pm. I think this should be a New Year's Eve tradition. I mean, one can start a new tradition at 42 years into a relationship, can't they?






2015 ~ We welcome you with open arms. 

Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How is ICD Data Captured?

Very interesting explanation of an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator). Although mine is a St. Jude Model, rather than Medtronic. It shows how the ICD is monitored and tracked by a doctor and the device manufacturer.

But did you know that patients do not have access to this information, except when seeing their cardiologist once a quarter or so. And then the copy of the report is many pages and difficult to decipher by the lay person/patient. And usually any important information has happened weeks or months earlier. Sure would be nice to have this accessible to the patient on an ongoing basis, perhaps through a secure website. Just saying!!!


Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Demystifying Ejection Fraction

You hear me talk about EF (Ejection Fraction) frequently. Basically, it is the key factor in my heart failure. This article takes a very simple approach to explain exactly what EF is and how it is measured. 

Based on my echocardiogram of January, my EF is still at 18%, which is considered severe heart failure. And based on my recent cardiologist appointment of a couple of days ago, although I am feeling pretty darn good these days, my ICD still records some series of weeks during each quarter when I am in "heart failure". I believe this means that is when my heart has trouble doing its job, even with the help of all the meds I am on and the ICD that will do pacing if needed (before shocking for heart failure). So while I often feel pretty good these days, it is a reminder that I need to stay vigilant with my low sodium diet, keep active, and stay healthy. Every day is a gift and I cannot forget that it is often very fragile, and we cannot be too careless with it -- even when that means simple, tiny steps that can mean life and death.

I hope you find this article. useful.

With each heartbeat, the heart contracts (or squeezes) and relaxes. Every contraction pushes blood out of the two pumping chambers (ventricles). When when heart relaxes, the ventricles refill with blood. The ejection fraction (EF) refers to the amount, or percentage, of blood that is pumped (or ejected) out of the ventricles with each contraction. This percentage, or EF number, helps your health care provider determine if you have heart failure or other types of heart disease.
Ejection Fraction
A normal heart pumps just over half the heart's volume of blood with each beat – a normal EF is 50 to 75 percent.
Here is a link to the full website:

http://www.hrsonline.org/Patient-Resources/The-Normal-Heart/Ejection-Fraction#axzz3HbLWrz18

Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

Monday, November 10, 2014

YSC Tour de Pink, West Coast

Last month, Mark and I were invited to participate in the 2014 Tour de Pink West Coast (TdP), put on by Young Survivor Coalition (YSC) It was an honor and a privilege to be part of the Cadence Sports staff team working this event.

2014 Tour de Pink West Coast was held October 17 - 18. The ride went from Paso Robles, CA to Point Mugu, CA. The three-day ride took an inspirational journey along the coast and through California's wine country. TdP is a rolling community, inspiring those who ride and work the event, and supporting young women. Riders choose to ride all three days (200 miles) or for one day.

Young Survivor Coalition (YSC) is a global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful.

YSC was founded in 1998 by three young women who were under the age of 35 when diagnosed. They were discouraged by the lack of resources available and the under-representation of young women in breast cancer research. Today, YSC is the go-to organization for young women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.


Here are some of our photos from the Staff side of the event.

Pizza night the evening we arrive and before all the fun began.

Some of the schwag that went into the goody bags for the riders.

First day ... and they're off.

Getting ready for afternoon check-in of riders.

Boston Strong

Friends & family greet riders in Solvang 


Greeting Dad at the finish line

Final day ends on the beautiful beach of Point Mugu

My new friend, and rider, Debbie, and her friends.


Here are some images from the event organizers.

Sure hope I have the energy to participate again next year. The event was very rewarding, but involved long, tiring days of all staff members. I pulled it off this year, but maybe once was enough. Time will tell.


 Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.