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.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

How Many Lives Does a Cat Have?

I'm wondering if I've used up all nine yet! 

I've had a few mishaps over my life, and yesterday as I was doing some routine house things (vacuuming, mopping, and washing windows) I was thinking about those times when I could not even imagine thinking about those things and how much I appreciate the ability to do it now, even if just a little bit now and then, and all the support I received during those times.

There was the time when I was 16 and I had begged my parents to see if I could get permission to ride the horse that was boarded in our pasture. Well, the owners approved and I would ride Lucky around the pasture from time to time. But it wasn't long after I got this privilege that one day Lucky decided s/he was hell bent on "going home", and I could not control her (I think it was a she) and she started bucking wildly. I can still vividly recall flying through the air up over her back and landing right on my tailbone. Needless to say, I could not move and lay there in the field moaning until one of my siblings found me and ran in to get my mother. They put me in the back of the station wagon laying down, as I could not move hardly at all and took me to the doctor. Why on earth we didn't go to the hospital, I'll never know. But the doctor did an X-ray, said I sprained my back and put me on Darvon. I was bedridden for about 3 weeks. The Darvon making me so nauseous and delirious that I barely ate and that made things even worse. I struggled for years with what I called a "weak back", being in pain sitting in the bleachers at high school football and basketball games. Things slowly progressed, but it took years. 

Then in my early 20's, already a mom of two littles, I was helping dear husband chop wood. He had me holding these 1.5-2" diameter long pieces of madrone wood. I was told not to let go as he chopped away with an ax to cut them down to wood-stove sized pieces. Needless to say, it stung my hands so bad with the vibration that I finally let go. Well, that piece of wood took a fly up and right into my nose. That was followed with a crushed nose into many pieces, and much pain. After waiting a bit for the swelling to subside, I had nose surgery to put things back into place. The worst part of which was when they pack your nose with gauze to hold everything tightly in place for healing and you must mouth-breath for the duration. Then the removal of the yards and yards of gauze was an interesting experience too.

Fast forward to the early 90's and I am parking at the usual park & ride lot at Hwy 116/121 intersection near the Carneros Deli to catch my commuter bus into San Francisco where I worked for a time. I would daily cross the street via the crosswalk from the parking area to the bus stop near the gas station. But this day, a tractor was crossing the street in the opposite direction I would cross, so timing was perfect for me to cross at the same time. I looked both directions and began to cross. As the tractor passed by my right shoulder going through the intersection, I heard the sound of an accelerating engine and looked up in time to see an SUV coming at me, apparently the driver had not seen me in the crosswalk as the tractor blocked their view. The rest is history, the SUV hit me on the right side as I put out my left arm/hand across my body as though to stop it or protect me. The impact threw me nearly 30 feet and I landed almost right in front of the line of fellow-commuters waiting for our bus. Not a good or pretty site. I was lucky to be alive.

In that accident I crushed several ribs, and my left wrist (the one I used to try to protect me), broke my collarbone, and had a concussion and dark bruising around my eyes. I had a hematoma the size of a cantaloupe on my right hip, and they thought I had broken my back. They later realized the fracture to a vertebrae, after making me a special back/torso frame to support me for healing, that it was an old injury -- probably from Lucky, the horse, throwing me many years earlier. From this accident, my left wrist had been shortened on one side and after wearing a cast and much physical therapy, I finally gained normal movement, but that took years. After much recovery time, the ribs and clavicle finally healed, and we tried liposuction on the huge thigh hematoma, but a large divot still remains there. I have good sized scars on my knees and elbows as it was described I sort of tumbled through the air and over the pavement, scraping knees and elbows as I tumbled.

Probably the worst part of the accident is the PTSD and vertigo that continued for years -- a fear of riding in a car, crossing the street, and much more. I even still have bouts of the vertigo from time to time.

But alas I recovered again. It was this injury I was especially thinking back on while washing windows yesterday, as I could not do much of anything with my arms and upper body for quite a long time after the motor vehicle accident, as it was called.

So now I come forward to 2011. There was no accident, but the first breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy and radiation certainly took its toll on my activity level. And now 6 years later I am dealing with it's return one year ago in March 2016, the metastases (Stage IV liver metastasized breast cancer) and the tailspin that sent me again into horrible nausea and fatigue for nearly a year.

But wait, I had to come back a day later and edit this post to add one other very important disability moment in my life (how could I ever forget), and that was the Congestive Heart Failure diagnosis in 2013, when my EF (heart ejection fraction) was down in the teens, where a normal range is 55-70%. All this thought to be caused by a chemo drug two years earlier (Adriamyacin), and genetic factors. I was being schooled for what was thought to be an unavoidable heart transplant, but this had to wait until I was 5-years cancer free. Luckily with loads of medications, and an ICD implanted into my heart to help pace irregularities and shock my heart in case of heart failure, about 12-18 months later I improved enough to escape any additional heroic surgeries. My EF is now up to 30%.

But today I am thankful for all that these situations have taught me, the love and support I have received along the way, especially from my husband, children, parents and siblings, through each of these scares, and most especially the fact that I am alive today. After all, I did awake this Sunday morning to a beautiful Spring day in Glen Ellen on Sonoma Mountain, where Mark and I call home.

As I have said and written many a time, I can only take it one step at a time, one day at a time... step by step, closer and closer.

Let's just hope I have experienced enough excitement of this kind for a lifetime. 

I think (and hope) I still have many more lives ahead of me.
AND, it's nice to have clean windows. 😊
~ ~ ~

Filling my life with love, laughter, family & friends!
~ Peace and Love ~

B  E  L  I  E  V  E


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