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.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Another Milestone -- 1 Year With ICD

Today marks my one year anniversary with my nearest and dearest "buddy", my ICD - Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. (Click on link to learn about this device).
A year ago I wrote about Procedure Day as I looked forward to the surgery to insert the ICD and then Feeling Liberated as I no longer depended on the LifeVest for shocking/defibrillating my heart should the urgent need arise.

It was a long and very slow road after surgery. I was pretty ill for 4 full months as my heart continued to struggle to keep fluid in check and I was constantly out of breath, tired, and had horrible indigestion. The good thing was it helped me to continue to drop weight for a total of 40 lbs lower from when the heart failure began. And even better was that finally in the Spring of 2014, after more medication changes and increases, I finally began to feel just "Ok". Within a few months, the preparations that were in the works for further surgery for either an LVAD or heart transplant stopped, and those were put on the back burner. But it wasn't until about April 2014 when I finally started to feel like a new woman with energy to get out and walk a few miles and enjoy my family and friends without the constant worry of what was around the corner. During this past year, I've had some scares with very rapid heart beats that my ICD has been able to pace and correct for me. I have not been shocked, thankfully; but my St. Jude ICD is there and ready should the need ever arise.

Today, I continue to get on with life enjoying my family and friends, camping, helping to care for our alpacas, working on my sewing and fiber projects, and snuggling with the three loves of my life, grandchildren Nico, Gaige, and Madeleine. My heart ejection fraction (EF) has not been tested since April, and at that time it was still in serious heart failure levels. But I feel good, and for now that is all that matters. The thought is that the EF has improved somewhat, and when the need arises to go through the expensive procedures again, we hope to get that good news.

So I am not out of the woods by any means, as those two before mentioned surgeries are still out there as future possibilities should the need arise. (Can't have heart transplant until 5 years cancer free, hence the LVAD option).   

But for the moment, this is what I prefer to concentrate on...

Sarah & Alura with the three grandchildren this past weekend, Gaige, Nico & Maddie

Gaige & Nico (each 3 yrs)

Alura with Madeleine (3 mos)

 Me and my sweetie on a recent camp trip

 Life is Good...

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

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Yes, the month is almost over! October is breast cancer awareness month, and I've been a bit torn about all the pink and all the hype. As another blogger I follow pretty closely does, I wonder if we are really doing all we can to find a cure, and save those with metastatic breast cancer. Early detection, mammograms, and self exam, do not seem to be really all that matters. But that seems to be what is promoted most of the time. 

I had mammograms every single year since I turned 30. Did that prevent me from getting breast cancer, infiltrating ductile carcinoma to be exact? No, I found my lump on my own, quite accidentally. I won't dwell on it all, but really, really want to see a cure for breast cancer. That seems to be the most important thing right now. I just don't see it being prevented. Just saying how I feel today, at this moment in time. 

Considering all this, and the fact that I feel really good these days and am not dwelling on cancer; I still think of it daily, and am involved in my own way. So before this month escapes, I do want to bring some attention to the topic. And the following three items are what I will share with you today.

First, if you know me, you know I am an avid fiber fanatic. Not the fiber you eat, but fiber from animals, such as alpacas, that you can spin with a spinning wheel, or knit or weave into beautiful garments and objects. Just check out my website, Facebook Site & Farm Page, or Ravelry site, and this becomes evident! One of the well-known knit designers, Cat Bordhi is supporting cancer in her efforts with her book, The Art of Felfs (felted footwear for families). Cat is donating 100% of the book’s and pattern’s income to the research lab of Dr. David Krag at the University of Vermont Medical School because she believes the cancer research he is doing will replace chemotherapy not that far in the future. As anyone knows who has been through chemotherapy, and especially me who has had heart issues most likely contributed to by chemo, this is most exciting research. Read all about Dr. David Krag, his research and past accomplishments, and Felfs, on the link above.

My second link is on the topic of Ovarian Cancer, a silent killer. Hopefully this short video will help to provide the basics you need to know and share cues that one should be aware of.

Lastly, A few days ago I received this email from Allison Kent of Lehigh University. Allison's message is self explanatory. I often get messages on the blog from someone promoting a product, etc. regarding breast cancer, and I thought this to be one worthy of sharing with my audience.

Dear Debbie,

My name is Allison Kent and I am a student at Lehigh University.  I am in a product development class and am in the process of reaching out to those familiar with breast cancer who may be able to take a few minutes to answer a quick survey for us.  My team is hoping to develop a product to help support and organize Jackson Pratt drains to help make recovery easier and less painful. Would you be willing to possibly take our quick survey, send it to your your friends or family, and possibly even post it to your blog? We are hoping to get as many responses from those familiar with the recovery process to make our product most useful and practical. 

Here is the link to our survey: Thank you for your help!

Allison Kent

So, these are my public service announcements for the moment. My best to you all, especially those recently diagnosed, or continuing to fight the fight against breast cancer, or any cancer. Please try to take it one day at a time. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other, and go at your own speed. God Bless...

 Life is Good...

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

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.