What started as IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) in 2011, then turned into CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) in 2013, probably partially caused by chemotherapy along with a genetic pre-disposition. Here we are now in March 2016 and I am newly diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the left breast and liver (LMBC - liver metastasized breast cancer).

So the focus has shifted yet again, 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 helpful information and strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.

I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. I WILL SURVIVE!

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. And if you are now cancer free of breast cancer, do everything you can to insist that your doctors follow up with an occasional PET Scan and labs for tumor markers.

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.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

So Much To Be Thankful For

It is June 1st and raining here again today in my beautiful part of the world. But rain is okay... it gives us some down time from most outside chores and slows life down a bit; or at least it should. I think we could all take a moment to slow down a bit. I know I have been forced to slow down over these last five months, and it has been a struggle at times. But I do believe I have learned a lot from it.

Besides, in the bigger picture, who cares if it is raining on June 1st. For one, we don't have to worry about watering our flowers or newly planted vegetables. Then there is some new green luscious growth for the alpacas to nibble on. And everything is green, clean, and so fresh smelling. I know, I know, I'm sounding a bit Pollyanna at the moment, you say. Well, I'm feeling that way too. Or at least I am trying to.

You see, I've been in this big old quandary about upcoming surgery and the choices I may have when all is said and done. Yes, I've been feeling sorry for myself, a bit depressed (which is not normal for me), and just all out confused. Not only about the surgery options; but, where is my life going right now? Am I being the best I can? Is there something more, something different?  (I guess I shouldn't have watched the Master Classic piece about Oprah's life on OWN the otehr day). I suppose these are not very different thoughts than most of us have from time to time, especially at my age. But after/during breast cancer...

So Sunday night, after a fun day hosting my spinning gals (so good to finally feel up to having some company), we qued into the National Memorial Day Celebration broadcast. At first there was lovely music with wonderful artists like BB King. But then it turned depressing, but REAL. Actors would portray a real story of a soldier, and the injuries and devastation they endured. Of a mother who lost a son to war. So many sad, but very real stories. Mark and I paused for a moment as to whether we would continue to watch the program and then both agreed it was something we needed to watch -- it was touching, honest stories of those who have gone to war to defend our country and protect each and every one of us. As I watched this program, I came to the realization that my journey seemed so very trivial in comparison. Yet it is very real for me and my family. But still, so small, so inconsequential. After all, I'm talking about loosing a breast, or just part of one. That is nothing compared to losing a limb, serious brain damage, losing a child, a spouse ... a life. What was I so worked up about in choosing options for my surgery. 

Yes, these are important choices for ME. But things are starting to fall into perspective. I had gone over and over in my head the appointment with the plastic surgeon. The appointment suggested to me by my surgeon so I would have all the knowledge needed to make the right decision to me. when the time came. You see, they can do so much now right during the initial surgery. 

I remember the plastic surgeon first stating that I was having a mastectomy. Apparently he did not have the whole story on me. I corrected him, and then he went on to talk about plastic surgery options as if they are my only options. He drew on my left breast (where the tumor is) showing how he would cut around my nipple and move the nipple up. Then the skin and tissue under the nipple would swing around and fill in the area where the tumor would be removed. I did not reflect  my feelings to him on my face, but inside, in my mind I was saying, "Holy Jesus... move my nipple up! Just hold on a minute, doc!" He told me how then later I could choose a second operation to have my right breast reduced to match the left, but not until after radiation and time for the size of the breast to settle in.

I know, I know. This may be TMI for some of you. But it is real life breast cancer. Sorry!! It is my life right now. 

So then the plastic surgeon moves onto the right breast. And he draws more and describes what he would do for the left breast should a mastectomy be the recommended option. Both of these options all include breast reconstruction details. When we get home, I leave the drawings for a couple of days so I have a good memory of what we discussed. At that time I try to wash all this off, and it is hard to remove. 

Well, I'm well past that appointment, even though it was only a week ago. And I am much further into my online research, and studying Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book and all her details on types of breast cancer surgeries and radiation. I've also talked with some people who have first hand experience with this too.  And of course Alura has been a huge help, and even consulted one of her surgeons for input too. This has all been so very helpful. And I am really thankful that my surgeon is out of town this week, as this gives me the luxury time to do all this research, thinking and soul searching. I haven't made any definitive decisions yet, but I feel I will be ready to make my decision once I get the word as to whether a lumpectomy is possible. 

So I thank you all for your love and care, understanding, and especially your listening to me these last few weeks. I know it must be hard to hear over and over again, especially for my close family members. Just know that it is a process, and I'm feeling positive now about the process and well equipped to make that final decision here soon when the time is ready.

Oh, and it may have helped that I had a lovely distraction yesterday of being invited to go with Sarah and Chris to her ultrasound appointment. And, they have given me permission to spread the news -- IT'S A BOY! Their baby is to arrive late October, just two months after Alura and Stephan's squirt arrives, but the sex of their baby will be a surprise. As I said.... SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR.


Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!
Sonoma Relay for Life Team (8/6/11) ~  Debbie's Blasting Crew.

1 comment:

  1. I pray that if faced with the degree of medical challenges you are experiencing I would exhibit similar courage, grace, and spiritual beliefs. You are an inspiration my friend, thank you for showing us the way!


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