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.


Friday, December 27, 2013

A Wonderful Christmas with Family

It really was... finally I am feeling better and we had a wonderful Christmas with family. 

It's been hard to say that and really mean it. Because even though I've been feeling better, to say it just didn't seem right. "Better" is one thing, but still not feeling "good", is the true way to describe it. And it's been going on for two months now. To the point that I was almost afraid to say I was feeling better. It sounded as though I felt "good" and people would get all excited and tell me how happy they were for me. You see, it still wasn't good, and I just wondered when, or if it might ever be. It was getting very old and tiresome and wearing me down, ever so slowly. Mark could see it and worried so. But we kept plugging along. You know the phrase "snails pace". Well I think we finally can put that in perspective. AND it most definitely is not fun!!!

I think it was finally on December 23rd and 24th... "better" to the point I could almost eat more than a couple of bites at meal time, walk around the yard for nearly a mile and not feel like I would pass out (if I went slow enough). So, you see, it is all relative. 

So on Monday I made the trip into Santa Rosa for some fasting blood work and annual mammogram. The plan was to do it very early (the bloodwork piece), grab a bite to eat along the way, then run a couple last minute holiday errands before the mammogram, if I was still feeling up to it. That was not to be because at 9am I felt a nap coming on. And what is usually a doze of 15 minutes or so for me to feel refreshed, ended up being two whole hours. So by now I am starving and just have the time to get the labs done and the mammogram. So those were behind me and the anxiety of another mammogram set aside until the results come back any day now. These tests always cause anxiety, even though I am two full years past my treatment year of 2011. But I made it to Costco to pick up a few last minute things, and then home to collapse around 4pm. But the day wasn't over because we both had to enroll in new health plans by midnight, which we did -- just in the nick of time. Thank Goodness!

So, on with the good part of the story ~
     The Saturday before Christmas we hosted my siblings and a couple of cousins for our family gathering. It is always a nice day of just hanging out, sharing appetizers and nibbles, kids running in and out on a beautiful sun filled December Winter's Solstice day (unseasonably warm around here); with older cousins playing with the grandsons -- just a joy to see all around. I was feeling just "ok", and able to enjoy the day and nibble on a few of the tasty treats everyone contributed. (Food is not my focus these days, which is a good thing. How else could I be down 30 pounds. This part I am thankful for, most definitely). We exchange gifts with the kids at the end of the day, maybe some homemade jams or cookies between families. But really it is about the kids. And this year Kiana received a fun 1,000 piece puzzle that the older kids and adults dug into and solved within a few hours - Candy Wrappers. It became a challenge to let someone allow you to squeeze into a space at the table for a moment to play.  :-)

I even had a moment to read a story to the boys; a rare event these days with their levels of energy bursting at the seams.

The lights of my life, Gaige and Nico

Tuesday morning we started food prep for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with the girls and their families. I made persimmon pudding, and had made some Christmas cookies before Saturday's family gathering. My other responsibility was a new salad of brussel sprouts, kale, almonds, and crumbled gorgonzola, among other things. I think I need to invest in a mandalin for the slivering of the brussel sprouts if I am to do this one again. We did decide later that some citrus would have complimented everything; and I tried it with the left overs the following night and it really completed the dish -- next time! 

Alura and Stephan arrived early afternoon and my concentration shifted to fun time with adorable Nico. I don't get much time with him now that I'm not babysitting weekly, so it was wonderful to have him to myself for a couple of hours. We even made the walk to the mailbox and gathered road gravel in the little push firetruck on the way back up the hill, which almost felt easy with a two year in tow who "runs" (if you can call his little steps a run) back and forth looking at everything, sliding into the dirt from time to time, and collecting gravel as he roamed. By then, Mark and Stephan were elbow deep into spinach/chard/mushroom raviolis, from scratch, and a lovely chicken dish. Add in some Northern white beans and a sweet potato dish, and yum.

My walk to the mailbox.

Christmas Eve with my loves:
Chris, Gaige and Sarah
Alura, Nico and Stephan

And the boys were so cute after dinner helping Sarah to bring her last wrapped gifts out from the office to put under the tree. After a late night, Sarah and family headed down the hill for a good nights sleep, and Alura and family tucked into bed in our guest room. Everyone slept well and until after 8am on Christmas morning. Which gave Sarah, Chris, and Gaige time to get back up to Grammie and Grandpas for all the fun and festivities of opening the umpteen gifts that had collected under the tree over the last 24 hours. It is amazing what a Christmas with children will do. The girls seemed to have a lot of fun getting things for their nephews.

The boys were so cute helping Sarah to bring out her wrapped gifts.

We spend Christmas morning with snacks, left over persimmon pudding, Christmas cookies, etc. Then a big brunch is pulled together late morning. Grandpa couldn't wait to drag out the farm waffle iron this year. The last time the boys didn't really appreciate the shapes or the food. And probably next year they will appreciate it all even more. But we had a lovely breakfast, and I was even up to enjoying a couple of glasses of bubbly for the first time in a very long time. And I felt great all afternoon too!

After a wonderful morning, brunch, and watching the boys play with everything, the girls loaded all the booty up late afternoon and headed to their respective homes. We picked up the house and most of the dishes and collapsed for a few hours. Today is the day after Christmas and Mark has broken down all the boxes for recycling, and set up our new all-in-one printer/scanner in the office, and figured out the sound issues with the stereo/TV/DVD system -- he is a much happier boy now. And Polar Express is now playing as proof of his efforts. I've figured out my new ipad air & got it set up, after an exhausting walk to the mailbox. It was much easier walking there with Nico in tow, probably because he is so much fun to watch and interact with. And tomorrow we will make the trip into Costco to pick up our holiday cards that I mistakenly ordered through their regular service, no the 24 hour photo service, as I had thought. So they will be New Year's cards and hopefully get out this weekend.

My rock, my inspiration, the one I lean on who holds me up. He makes a good Santa too!

This was a Christmas of much thanks, and lots of hope. We are both so looking forward to the New Year and all that 2014 may bring to us, and to everyone.

Wishing you a Happy & Healthy New Year!

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
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