LIVESTRONG:

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.

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.

*****************************************************************************************

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

 MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!



From me and my two sweet grandsons, Gaige and Nico,
sitting on our hearth in our jammies the day after Christmas.

There is so much to be grateful right now for me. I am in good health and somewhat active. My mammogram last month is clear of any concerns. My family is happy and healthy, especially these two adorable grandsons. Finances aren't the best, but somehow we struggle to get by from month to month. So 2013, BRING IT ON!

  L I F E   I S   G R E A T


And.... November mammogram is clear.  :-)


Feel free to leave a comment below. It would be just fabulous to know you have visited.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •




Monday, December 10, 2012

Don't Be A Chump


What more can I say. :-)

LIFE IS GOOD

Feel free to leave a comment below. It would be just fabulous to know you have visited.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •




Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cancer Buddies

Last week I had lunch at Cafe Citti with some "cancer buddies". Two are in the midst of a breast cancer recurrence, one from 12 yers ago, the other from about five years ago. One other is a newer breast cancer survivor, much like myself; having been diagnosed about one year after me. And the fifth friend is experiencing cancer via her husband's recent diagnosis and treatment.
While it may seem like this would be a dreary and gloomy lunch out, it was not. We give each other good support, reassurance, share ideas and resources, and of course news of new people facing cancer in our little community. But all in all it is about laughter, sharing stories and photos of kids and grandkids, comparing knitting and quilting projects, talking about the holidays, and just a fun girls afternoon out. And it does turn into an afternoon as we usually leave around noon and don't return until 4'ish.

So anyone else out there, don't be afraid to support other cancer buddies. We all share a common bond, and have a lot in common, although we may be very different.

I look forward to our next Cancer Buddy meet up in early January. But meanwhile, we stay in touch via phone, email, Facebook, and an occasional visit.

Huge hugs to you all.


LIFE IS GOOD

Feel free to leave a comment below. It would be just fabulous to know you have visited.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •



Friday, December 7, 2012

Anti Estrogen Therapy

What is Anti-Estrogen Therapy? It is what I am taking now and for a total of five years (one year down).
What is anti-estrogen therapy? It is an additional therapy used during treatment for women who are estrogen receptor positive. These receptors are on the surface of cancer cells and by turning them off, the cancer cells will not continue growing.

Watch as Dr. Harness explains what kind of patient will benefit the most from this therapy and the difference between Tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors. Let’s successfully fight breast cancer together!


LIFE IS GOOD

Feel free to leave a comment below. It would be just fabulous to know you have visited.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Another Year; Another Increase

So the mail arrives yesterday and I have an "Important Notice" from my insurance carrier, Blue Cross. Of course you wonder, when an envelope is stamped as such, is it really important? Or is this more "junk"?
I open the envelope, and tears flow... along with some expletives. Yes, come February 2013, they are increasing my premium another $150 PER MONTH. That's $1,800 more each and every year. At least until next Februaryn when it will most likely increase again. For those who may not remember or be following along, that brings my premium up to $950/month - JUST FOR ME. And, I have a very high deductible

And I begin to wonder. How can cancer not be affecting this decision for Anthem Blue Cross to increase my premium a second year in a row. Last year the increase was by $100 per month. This just has a hint of discrimination to me. Someone who has always paid her premiums, always had health insurance, and been reasonably healthy all my life, until cancer.

So, after an hour wait on hold with Blue Cross (1/2 hour holding to get someone to answer, another 1/2 hour to wait once I was transferred), I get a very nice and calming rep named Fleta. Fleta explains that there are other more affordable plans I would normally be eligible for, but with my pre-existing condition (cancer), there is no way underwriting would accept a change. So I must wait until 2014 and hang in there and be patient. This is when pre-existing conditions will no longer be considered for insurance and plan changes.

She did a wonderful job of explaining everything, and seemed very understanding, a cancer survivor herself; but explained that even in January 2014, things may not change quickly and I may need to be patient again. Because you see, the millions of uninsured will then be flooding the system as well. But the age bands will change somewhat then too, and that will be in my favor. So, although I was in tears again at the end of the call, she did help to calm me and help me to understand the situation.

Thank you Fleta; I guess.


LIFE IS GOOD

Feel free to leave a comment below. It would be just fabulous to know you have visited.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Annual Mammogram -- CHECK!

Last week I went in for my annual bi-lateral mammogram. I am waiting for results but feel very positive and expect the "good" report to arrive any day. Besides, if there had been concern, I'm sure I would have received a call by now.

But while there, knitting in hand, waiting to be called back to the Mammogram department from the reception area, I heard the name "Claire" called. I did not see her face and did not recognize her from behind as she left the room. But when I entered the Mammogram waiting/changing area, sure enough I recognized that face. It was Claire Deiringer!

The Deiringer family lived just down the street from us when we grew up on Eighth Street East in Sonoma. They were another large Catholic family, with nine or so kids. Marsha was in my class, and Claire a year older. We've run into each other just a few times over the years, as they relocated to Santa Rosa while we were still going to St. Francis Solano school. Claire's mother is still alive in her 90's and they all just enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving at one of the other sister's home.

It was fun to run into Claire and chat a bit, as we sat their in our robes.

LIFE IS GOOD

Feel free to leave a comment below. It would be just fabulous to know you have visited.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Post Thanksgiving Thankfulness...

So much to be thankful for...


 The most amazing man in my life who loves me unconditionally, supports me in anything I set out for, cares for me when I'm ill, and works too darn hard around the farm.

Nico and Grandpa
 


 Two smart, beautiful daughters who have grown into amazing moms themselves.

Alura & Sarah


 The two most adorable grandsons in the world. (YES, I am biased).

L-R  Gaige (Sarah), Grammie (Me), & Nico (Alura)
 


 Two talented son-in-laws, who are fabulous dads as well.
  
Stephan with Nico                                                     Chris with Gaige.


And all my wonderful sisters and brothers, their spouses, and the amazing nieces and nephews they share with me and that I adore; as well as a community of friends and extended family that we cherish.

For all of you, I am very Thankful!

LIFE IS GOOD

Feel free to leave a comment below. It would be just fabulous to know you have visited.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Much Thanks

There is so much to be thankful for....

  • My health
  • The love and health of my husband, daughters, their hubbies, and sons.
  • A close knit family of 7 siblings and their spouses and children.
  • Return home of a dear friend from a long hospital stay and very frightening illness.
  • New and old friendships
  • Living on a bit of heaven here on Sonoma Mountain.
  • And so much more

And ... Thanksgiving day and dinner at my sister, Tina's, with most of the family and loads of nieces, nephews, and grandsons romping and playing around.

Wishing you and your loved ones a time to be Thankful,

AND A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING.
LIFE IS GOOD

Please take a moment to leave a comment below. It would be just fabulous to know you have visited.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Maxine saye, "Get Those Pumpkins in for a Mammogram"

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2012, I hope to post as frequently as possible this month. Heaven knows I am learning of new breast cancer diagnosis, or serious recurrences of breast cancer, often times metastasis, nearly weekly. Lets all do whatever we can to see that all women are aware of the breast cancer risks, and that research soon puts a stop to this life-changing, and often deadly, disease.


LIFE IS GOOD

And if you've made it this far, please leave a comment below. That would be just fabulous to know you are following along.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •





Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Breast Cancer videos

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2012, I hope to post as frequently as possible this month. Heaven knows I am learning of new breast cancer diagnosis, or serious recurrences of breast cancer, often times metastasis, nearly weekly. Lets all do whatever we can to see that all women are aware of the breast cancer risks, and that research soon puts a stop to this life-changing, and often deadly, disease.


Breast cancer awareness month is almost over!

Healthline recently finished compiling its list of the best breast cancer awareness videos of 2012. You can view the list at http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/best-videos-breast-cancer

I'm spreading awareness by sharing these amazing videos with you. And my previous blog post features Healthline's breast cancer apps.

Please share with as many as you can.


LIFE IS GOOD

And if you've made it this far, please leave a comment below. That would be just fabulous to know you are following along.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •





Sunday, October 28, 2012

Top 12 Apps for Breast Cancer Patients 2012

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2012, I hope to post as frequently as possible this month. Heaven knows I am learning of new breast cancer diagnosis, or serious recurrences of breast cancer, often times metastasis, nearly weekly. Lets all do whatever we can to see that all women are aware of the breast cancer risks, and that research soon puts a stop to this life-changing, and often deadly, disease.


Healthline does it again with their top 12 Apps for breast cancer patients of 2012.

According to BreastCancer.org, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetimes, and over a quarter of a million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. If you are battling breast cancer, these apps may just make the difference between “chemo brain” and calmness.

If you are a woman who would like to end breast cancer, consider downloading the handy apps that help you find screening sites, donate to breast cancer awareness efforts, remind you to perform a breast self-exam, or support friends or loved ones with this terrible cancer.


LIFE IS GOOD

And if you've made it this far, please leave a comment below. That would be just fabulous to know you are following along.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •





Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Parenthood

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2012, I hope to post as frequently as possible this month. Heaven knows I am learning of new breast cancer diagnosis, or serious recurrences of breast cancer, often times metastasis, nearly weekly. Lets all do whatever we can to see that all women are aware of the breast cancer risks, and that research soon puts a stop to this life-changing, and often deadly, disease.

I've been enjoying watching the show Parenthood since it's inception a year or two ago. Something about the crazy large family, and all their interactions, really entertains me. Maybe it resembles my own family somewhat.

And this year it has an eery similarity; one that makes Mark and I bit uncomfortable at times. You see, Kristina has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Kristina is considerably younger than me, as so many women are these days who get breast cancer, but I still compare myself to her and how she is reacting to everything. Initially I was so surprised that she waited so long to tell her family. Not just her children, but her in-laws, that she appears to be so close to. As a matter of fact, as I type this, I realize that she has no family of her own. At least none that the show is talking about. I mean, where is her own mother or siblings while she is going through this ordeal. But that is another topic, for another day.

But Kristina finally did tell her family, and her daughter who had just gone away to college, and everyone has rallied around her and are offering support in any way they can. You see, Kristina just had her surgery in last night's episode. But again, she returned home to tell her college-aged daughter that the surgery went well, the cancer is all gone, and she just has a few follow up appointments with her surgeon. When really, Kristina's breast surgery was very successful, BUT, the cancer was found in one lymph node, and the breast cancer was found to be Her2 Receptive, which is more aggressive and requires different treatment, such as chemotherapy. So I imagine Haddie will return to Cornell for school, as her parents want, and then will learn this news, and return home to help out the family. 

I know, you are saying, "It is just TV, Debbie". I guess I am just too transparent when it comes to these things. Why hide it, why hold back. Secrets really aren't healthy, and the family support system will rally around and help to fill in the gaps, especially if they know what is really going on. But then, my daughters are older, and were such a sense of huge help and support to me. I guess we are all different, and all react differently. That is what makes each one of us unique and special.

So hopefully Kristina will have a good outcome. Because the show is becoming hard for us both to watch. Although the preview on the episode for next week, where Kristina and Adam try a green smoothie, looks pretty hillarious. And... it brings back some pretty funny memories too.

So if you haven't tuned in to Parenthood on Tuesday nights yet, give it a try. It is pretty entertaining.

Meanwhile, I'm REALLY looking forward to a weekend getaway with my high school girlfriends this weekend. CAN'T WAIT!!!


LIFE IS GOOD

And if you've made it this far, please leave a comment below. That would be just fabulous to know you are following along.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •





Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Annual - Check

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2012, I hope to post as frequently as possible this month. Heaven knows I am learning of new breast cancer diagnosis, or serious recurrences of breast cancer, often times metastasis, nearly weekly. Lets all do whatever we can to see that all women are aware of the breast cancer risks, and that research soon puts a stop to this life-changing, and often deadly, disease.



Wow, one year since completing all treatment has passed, and today was a good day. I met with my Oncologist, Dr. Anderson, for my annual followup appointment. Something I was anxious to find out about ended up to be good news ~ that the Bone Density Scan results are within normal ranges. So chemo did not take too hard of a toll on my bone strength, nor has the aromatase inhibitor, Exemestane, that I've been taking for a year now. All systems seem to be "Go"!  :-)

We discussed the hip pain I'm still experiencing and he through out the option for me to switch, yet again, this time to Tamoxifen. The Tamoxifen has a slightly less rate of prevention against cancer recurrence, but has some other side effects that I don't like the sounds of -- like blood clots, other cancers, night sweats, to name a few. So I've decided to stay with the Exemestane for now and implement some other measures; such as physical therapy, yoga, heat, hot tub, massage, etc. We shall see. If I don't get some relief with these other measures, I can always change drugs.

So now it's on to my annual mammogram next month, which will be six months since the mammo on the left breast, the one previously with cancer. Then I'll follow up with Dr. Anderson in another six months. 

It feels good to reach these milestones and be able to check off another of "anything", days, months, years; whatever. As long as it is all good, I feel good, and I have my wonderful family and friends around me for continued support. As another breast cancer blogger recently commented at the end of an NPR piece she was interviewed for, someone who has a recurrence, a metastasis which is in-operable -- she encourages someone like me, someone who is in remission and is doing well, to get on with their lives, enjoy their health, and try not to worry about cancer. Live each day to the fullest, and enjoy what you have. So thank you, Ann, for that reminder. It certainly means so much more coming from you, who is doing just that, even though the outcome is so uncertain at this time.

And all this after returning from an alpaca show in Grass Valley this past weekend. It was a fun filled weekend with friends and adorable alpacas. And our lovely pacas brought home one first place blue ribbon, and two second place red ribbons.

So.....


LIFE IS GOOD

And if you've made it this far, please leave a comment below. That would be just fabulous to know you are following along.

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •








Thursday, October 18, 2012

Act With Love and Make Breast Cancer History this October

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2012, I hope to post nearly every day this month, as possible. Heaven knows I am learning of new breast cancer diagnosis, or serious recurrences of breast cancer, often times metastasis, nearly weekly. Lets all do whatever we can to see that all women are aware of the breast cancer risks, and that research soon puts a stop to this life-changing, and often deadly, disease.

Act With Love and Make Breast Cancer History this October

Looking for a cause to get behind this October? Naz Sykes, the executive director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, shares information about her organization's important new initiative and how you can get involved:

We are in the midst of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and flooded by a sea of pink products asking for our financial support. It's overwhelming and sometimes hard to navigate, and it can be hard to measure the impact our dollars will have on moving the needle closer to finding the right answers about a disease that continues to kill 108 women every day.

So, you might be wondering what the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is doing that is different, and why you should consider supporting us. Our mission is simple. We are working to understand what causes breast cancer and figure out ways to prevent it. We don't want the next generation of young women to ever hear the words, "You have breast cancer." We want to eliminate breast cancer from our vocabulary.

Yes, it's a lofty goal! Many might caution that our goal is too ambitious, but it's unacceptable to watch 280,000 women get diagnosed with breast cancer every year—a number that hasn't changed much since 2003. How are we going to accomplish our goal and the promise we have made to eradicate this disease once and for all?

Our approach is all about research and, specifically, research on women—all kinds of women: women with a history of breast cancer and women without breast cancer. It's hard to believe healthy women play a key role in research, but they do, and it's important for them to get involved. Many times when we hear about breast cancer research, we assume the research involves only women with breast cancer. What we need is both: women with and without breast cancer. We need all women over the age of 18 and of every ethnicity to commit themselves to our two signature call to action programs:
  • The Health of Women Study, is an online study that will collect health information from you over time through specific, themed questionnaires that you will receive every couple of months. We will ask you questions about your diet and exercise, family history, occupation, reproductive health and much more. The more data we can collect from you over time, and the more people we have in our database, the more powerful our data will be to uncover possible trends and new risk factors for breast cancer. This is an international study, so sign up at www.healthofwomenstudy.org today! All your information is kept in a secure database, so your privacy is protected. And don't forget to get your friends and family members to sign up as well. We will share the findings, and you also have an opportunity to propose ideas for future questionnaires. So, if you have specific research ideas or concerns, we want to hear from you!
  • The Army of Women, with 370,000 strong women (and a few good men), is a database of individuals with and without a history of breast cancer who have signed up because they are interested in learning more and participating in studies focused on the cause and prevention of breast cancer. Signing up is simple, and once you agree to be in our database, you will start getting e-mails about various studies looking for participants. You can decide which studies, if any, you want to participate in by donating your data, blood sample or time. This is a great way to educate yourself about what the research community is focusing on when it comes to solving the mysteries of breast cancer. And, of course, we are 370,000 strong because each member is dedicated to recruiting friends and family members to participate. The success of the Army of Women depends on you! To learn more and sign up, visit www.armyofwomen.org.
And finally, we can't do our innovative work into the cause and prevention of breast cancer without generous financial support from the public. If you are ready to take part in a different kind of movement—a movement focused on research and ending breast cancer—I encourage you to make a donation. A $25 donation goes a long way for us, so visit www.dslrf.org and contribute today.

This October, join and commit yourself to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and act with Love. By investing your dollars, yourself and your friends, you are making breast cancer history!

This guest blog post was written by Naz Sykes, executive director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.


LIFE IS GOOD

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •






Tuesday, October 16, 2012

One Down, Four to Go


In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2012, I hope to post every day this month. Heaven knows I am learning of new breast cancer diagnosis, or serious recurrences of breast cancer, often times metastasis, nearly weekly. Lets all do whatever we can to see that all women are aware of the breast cancer risks, and that research soon puts a stop to this life-changing, and often deadly, disease.


Today was Bone Density Scan day. It's been one full year since my last scan and one full year since I've been on the Aromatase Inhibitor -- the daily pill to help keep the estrogen receptive breast cancer at bay. I'll take this pill for five years total.... So.... one down, four to go. THAT SURE FEELS GOOD!

Of course I won't know the results of the scan until I see my Oncologist next Tuesday, but I'm glad I took this step. I still need to get in for PT to see if that will help with the hip and leg pain, and am thinking next week will be a good time to get that started as well. Then, before you know it, it will be time for my annual mammogram. My how these dates all seem to be backed up, one after the other.

But all is good, I feel great, grandsons are growing like weeds and are the loves of my life. As a matter of fact, Gaige and I had our first solo over-nighter on Saturday night. And we both survived. Actually, it went quite well.

Grammie time with Nico.....

Bathtime -- 

All boy; cords, sticks and rocks --

Fun in the park --


Grammies first overnighter (with Gaige)... 

Morning walk in wine country --

Fun in our wonderful plaza park --  



 Look what they gave me at the bagel shop... a teether bagel 
(And I loved it)


And by lowering my wine intake to "just special occasions" and getting out for long walks a couple of times a week with those babes in strollers, I continue to slowly lose weight and tone up. I'm down a pants size, and even the smaller size is starting to fit looser too. 

So.....             LIFE IS GOOD

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •






Saturday, October 13, 2012

Smoothies

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2012, I hope to post every day this month. Heaven knows I am learning of new breast cancer diagnosis, or serious recurrences of breast cancer, often times metastasis, nearly weekly. Lets all do whatever we can to see that all women are aware of the breast cancer risks, and that research soon puts a stop to this life-changing, and often deadly, disease.

Okay, so I was playing around with grandsons and missed a few days.  :-)


Do you have a favorite smoothie drink you love?

Nutritionist and author Kim Synder shares supercharged drinks on Dr. Oz's Website. These smoothies are sure to make your hair shinier and your skin more radiant! They are easy to digest, making the anti-aging benefits just a few sips away!


There is a glowing green smoothie for radiant skin, a chia seed shake for lustrous hair, and more. So get out the blender and try one of these yummy smoothies today. If your mornings are like mine, then having a glass of delicious goodness to slurp down as your moving around the house in the morning and getting going, sure seems to keep me on task.


Enjoy!




LIFE IS GOOD

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •