Thursday, November 29, 2012


It is hard to imagine that a year ago my journey began.  Nov 28, I had my annual mammogram. Dec 1, went in for the diagnostic, ultrasound, and biopsy.  The diagnosis was confirmed Dec 7.

Where did 2012 go?
Better yet, where was I in 2012?

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It's Only Hair - Part 3

Check out the first installment of  It's Only Hair

This morning I was losing lots of hair so I decided to get it cut. I grabbed a scarf  on my way out the door and got in touch with Kristen, the cosmetology teacher, as soon as I got to school. I told her I had a "teachable moment" for her students and wondered if they would cut my hair. She was happy to do this for me and we arranged to get together at 1:00. When I got to my classroom I realized I didn't have a camera. So I called Jennifer, the journalism teacher to see if they had a camera and needed a story idea. Of course!

At 1:00 I arrived at the Tiger Salon and there was a student waiting with a typed list of questions and a camera. We chatted for a few minutes while they were getting ready for me. When I got in the chair I asked if we could brush my hair to see if it should be cut in a cute short style or cut really short (there is a difference). Lots of hair was come out. I reached up to check it myself and clumps kept appearing between my fingers. I cried. The teacher took the lead and consoled me. She then asked if I wanted to make the first cut myself, so I could be more in control. For some reason, I smiled and that was all it took. I made about 3 passes and then let the Allison take over.

This is before the cut

I cringed as I made the first buzz through my hair.
The journalism teacher held my hand. It's the first time I've ever
really talked to her. She was so nice.

Allison seemed like a pro with the clippers
I'm actually smiling at my new look!

Allison watched some You Tube Videos to prepare for
"this special client" and arranged the scarf perfectly.

I will always remember this day for many reasons. But more importantly, the students have experienced a life lesson.   I love my new look!

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Chemo Brain

Evidence of 'chemo brain' verified by researchers
By Loren Grush
Published November 27, 2012
  • 694940094001_1409784734001_640-brain.jpg
For many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, memory problems and a general mental haziness often plague them during and after treatment. The condition – known as‘chemo brain’ – has only been a reported phenomenon, without ever having been fully verified through scientific measures – until now.

Thanks to new research utilizing positron emission tomography combined with computed tomography (PET/CT), researchers have identified physiological evidence of chemo brain, proving it to be a very real medical condition.

According to the study’s lead researcher Rachel Lagos, all of the previous research that has been done on chemo brain has used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine changes in the brain during chemotherapy. However, this method only allows medical professionals to see changes in the brain’s appearance – which are usually very small.
By choosing to examine PET/CT brain imagining, Lagos said she was able to see how chemotherapy affects changes in brain function over time.

“With MR examination, we’re able to see structural change in the brain – areas that get broken down over time,” Lagos, a diagnostic radiology resident at the West University School of Medicine and West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, W.Va., told “But with PET/CT imaging, we’re able to see how the brain is using energy. So you get an earlier glimpse of areas of the brain which are being affected by chemo, as they’re starting to use less energy, and then eventually you would see the structural changes in MR examination."

PET/CT scanning is a type of nuclear medical imaging, which allows doctors to diagnose and understand the aggressiveness of certain kinds of cancers. People who are diagnosed with cancer regularly get PET/CT scans so that doctors can better exam other areas of the body where the cancer may have spread. One such area that is observed through PET/CT imaging is the brain.

To gather their findings, Lagos and her colleagues analyzed PET/CT scans of 128 breast cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy treatment under Lagos’ care. This helped her findings to come at a relatively cheaper price, because the PET/CT scans were already a part of her patients’ therapy; Lagos was simply reviewing the information from the scans to better understand changes in the brain’s metabolism.

The data from the imaging scans ultimately provided physiological proof to support chemo brain’s anecdotal history. Overall, key areas of the brain showed significant decreases in metabolism.

“We’re seeing changes of metabolism in areas of the brain that control problem solving, organizing daily events, sequencing, as well as long term memory,” Lagos said. “These seem to be the areas that chemo patients are complaining about. They have this haziness and can’t make plans or carry out simple tasks throughout their day. This corresponds to what we’re seeing in the research.”

While the data confirms chemo brain to be a real issue, the researchers also found the condition to be temporary – as the effected brain regions eventually regained their metabolism. Now armed with proof of chemo brain’s existence, Lagos hopes to expand her research to a national level, as well as prompt treatments to help those with the bizarre memory condition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of chemo brain can include anything from difficulty multitasking and learning new skills to trouble with recalling conversations and even recalling words. Lagos suggested that group therapy and help from peers can resolve some of these issues.

“Members of [the patient’s] family or support groups can give these patients lists of things to do when they wake up in the morning, that way they have the plan for the day,” Lagos said of one treatment option. “They don’t have to make the plan themselves. They have no problem doing the tasks, it’s making the list – they can’t get past that step.”

Along with more therapeutic treatments, Lagos envisions a potential pharmaceutical medication that can be developed to help treat chemo brain. While that scenario is a way off, Lagos hopes in the meantime cancer patients feel more assured that the symptoms they are experiencing have a verified medical explanation.

“There’s a tremendous need for more research in this area,” Lagos said. “The people who are experiencing this are experiencing something real.”
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's Only Hair - Part 2

So, this morning my hair started falling out! I know! Right?
Not all at once, just a few strands at a time.
When I got to school I looked up from my desk and saw this sign I have in my classroom:

I decided that I shouldn't be pouting about losing my hair. I'm lucky because it will grow back and be even more beautiful like Carol's. 

I heard from many of you today, received extra hugs because I needed them and again I counted my blessings.

At a meeting this evening my friends suggested that I try out the scarves before I need them. When I got home I decided to brush my hair to see what would happen. No surprise - it's still falling out.

So, I finally looked in the bag of scarves my sister brought over and watched some great You Tube videos on how to tie scarves.

I'm going to be fine!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Only Hair

Yesterday, Doc Esther asked me if I got my wig yet. I told her I wasn't going to wear one. I thought I should try to be like all the other club members, many who have told me that having no hair was liberating.
Thanksgiving - Day 6 after chemo.
Felt bad but hair looked good
It's been 11 days since my first chemo and I still have hair. I think it's getting thinner but I'm not finding clumps anywhere.

I have to be honest with you...the hair scares me the most.

I have been obsessed with my hair for my whole life. Just ask any hair stylist in Summit county who has had to deal with me. Ask my current stylist-former student- adopted daughter-Lora about that time I came to her Beauty school class for a cut and insisted on the "Diane Keaton" look from the movie Something's Gotta Give.  I would take several years worth of school photos to Lora, pleading with her, to make me look the way I use to. LOL.
My husband will tell you that for the 26 years he's known me I have never come home from a hair appointment without going straight upstairs to re-work the hair.

Soon, any day now, I won't have any hair. I'm afraid of how I will look. I won't even recognize myself.

My sister pulled off the scarf-look beautifully. And even without anything on her head she was confident. I would reach up and touch her smooth, perfectly round head, rubbing it like a Buddha belly. She bought fabric and I bought a new serger machine to make several scarves for her.

I found a bag by the front door after Thanksgiving, looked on top and saw the familiar fabric. She is passing them back to me to use.

I might chicken out and go get a wig. I'm just sayin...
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Monday, November 26, 2012

My Doc is a Rock Star

When Doc Esther stepped into my suite during my first chemo I picked up a little notebook and pen, handed it to her and said, "Can I have your autograph? You must be a rock star because when I mention your name everyone knows you!" She laughed and said, "that's a new one", as she scribbled her name.

Case in point: This morning I had an appointment with a doctor (about acid reflux) and when he asked who my other doctors were I opened my binder to the first page and said, "This is my team." He was impressed that I had an actual list and told me that Esther was the best. (more about that binder in another post).

This afternoon I had my 10 day checkup with Doc Esther and brought a list of questions (in that same little notebook she autographed).

  1. What about this lump on the arch of my foot? Doc - "Can you walk? We can't do any surgery on your foot while on chemo. Cute shoes, by the way."
  2. This rash on my chest? Doc - "That's a skin irritation because you have no immunity. Keep it clean."
  3. Will I be in pain like my sister, Carol? Doc - "Most chemos don't cause pain. If you ever need Neulasta then you may feel more achy"
  4. Should I stop getting my nails done? Doc - "No. They are fine and look nice."
  5. What about this taste in my mouth? Doc - "Try lemon drops."

See what I mean? My Doc Rocks!

The best news is that the auxiliary node under my arm decreased in size so chemo is working!

Bad white blood count is lower than it should be so I will be getting a shot of Neulasta 24 hours after the next chemo. (see above question #3)

They also scheduled the next two treatments for December 6th and 27th. I am going to get the "working woman's special" now. I will have chemo on Thursday's so I can potentially make it to work on Friday and then recover during the weekend. I saw this first hand with my sister so I know the drill.
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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Windex Theory

Photo by Rosina Huber
This evening, as I was trying to think of a brilliant new post, my son came to me complaining that we didn't have any Windex in the house. "How do you people clean glass around here?", he asked.  It reminded me of the Windex Theory that I share with my students when they are contemplating some big issues in their lives and need to see the big picture. Sometimes the window through which we view our lives becomes cloudy. We can get lost and distracted while trying to find our way. Then life throws us some Windex and provides an opportunities to wipe off portions of the window to get a better look at our future and what direction we should go. Naturally, you have to stop what you're doing and concentrate on the job of making things clear again.
I've just received a huge dose of Windex and I think it's exactly what I needed.  I've been trying to reinvent myself for years now, trying to figure out what I will be when I grow up. My window had become very mucked up with layers of disappointments and losses. 
But I'm already starting to see my future as a cancer survivor. I will be a stronger, more compassionate person, with a mission to help others through their own journey. This clearer view gives me peace of mind and something to look forward to.
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Friday, November 23, 2012

A Blur

OMG! I can't believe it's been a week since my first chemo! Seven days - a blur.

I started getting a cold the day after and I'm still coughing.  In addition to this cold I was nauseous and had to take meds that made me groggy. Today is the first day I haven't felt like barfing. Going to work on Monday was out of the question. I planned on going Tuesday and made several attempts - got a shower, rested. Got dressed - rested. Ate a bite of toast - rested. Got back into pj's - rested. Richard took me to work on Wednesday. I was there long enough to check the email and visit with my students and friend, Ellen. It was so good to get those hugs!

Wednesday evening my sister, Carol, and niece came over for a pajama party. We watched movies and ate junk food (phenergan helped keep it down).

We all awoke to the delicious aroma as Richard prepared his perfect turkey. There were plenty of hands to help get all of the remaining dishes ready for a Thanksgiving feast. I was tuckered out and had to nap while everyone enjoyed dessert. I have so much to be thankful for and it was wonderful having our family together.

We've been checking my temperature often. It's been hovering between normal and 100.3. The problem is that if it reaches 100.5 then I have to go to the emergency room because an infection is extremely dangerous for someone with decreased white blood cells. Last night, just as Katie and Richard were planning their Black Friday shopping spree, my temperature was 100.4. I took Tylenol, drank water and we checked every 15 minutes. Tommy and Katie finally decided to go shopping without Richard as he stayed home to take care of his patient.

It's been 98.6 all day!

I sure appreciate all the hugs received by mail, virtual and in person. I am so lucky to have so many people who love me. Here, I am sending one back to you! ((HUG))

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Herceptin #16

Guess what I forgot to do? Put numbing cream on my port! Geez, I did that one other time and swore that I would never forget to do that again!  Oh well .... chemo brain.  Nurse Karen is an expert and I dealt with it easily.  After the numerous tests and pokes this past year, what's a little pinch in the arm?

The parking lot was bare as the only ones in the building were the chemo nurses.  I felt bad that they didn't have the day after Thanksgiving off like most folks.  Bless them!

Today was my next-to-the-last-one Herceptin drip.  Yay!!

December 19 is my "annual" mammogram (NOT looking forward to this)
December 21 is my follow-up with the surgeon

Nurse wants me to follow up the Doc about the pain behind my knee and the pea-size bump I feel.  Plus, the intense pain in the lymph node sections in both my underarms/breast.  I will take care of that Monday.

Christie had a hard time Thanksgiving day.  When I spoke to her today, she said that she is feeling better.  Her nausea meds might need to be changed if it has taken this long to feel better. 

Isn't she pretty?!

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day

Me & Casey

Thanksgiving is a special day to thank our Lord for the blessings we have and for the relationships that are deep within our hearts.

Casey & Christie

I am so grateful for family.

Katie & Casey

 My niece is the youngest in our family unit.  She is a wonderful young lady and my only niece.

May our Lord Jesus Christ comfort you, guide you and bring you peace every day ~

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

T'was The Day Before Thanksgiving ....

I'm getting excited about Wednesday night!  We are having a pj and movie nite at Christie's.  We've picked out movies and bought junk food and Casey & I plan to invade their space tomorrow afternoon.  Once we get up the next day, we will help prepare the Thanksgiving meal :)

It seems our clan has decreased in size.  Two nephews live out of state and my youngest is MIA.  Life never stays the same.

I came across this photo from Christmas 2010.  Christie had made us matching aprons.  It is nostalgia from our family roots.

For awhile, we did have some family baking Christmas cookies.  Even though most of our traditions have changed, we do enjoy time together.

We had a lot of meals in this room!

This was 1993 or 1994 ~ I'm in my early 30's

I'm just happy to be spending time with Christie as she is getting through the "bad" days of her 1st chemo session.  She hasn't felt like writing in her blog, so please be patient.

I will be having my treatment the day after Thanksgiving.

Who would have thought all those years ago, what we would be facing now?

Since no one knows what tomorrow will bring, be sure you get those hugz in while you can ~

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Automated Breast Ultrasound System

My annual mammogram is scheduled for mid-December.  I cannot for the life of me think about how painful this is going to be.  Came across this video and article.  (There has to be a better way!)

Does anyone know about Automated Breast Ultrasound System?

Newsletter #239
Lee Euler, Editor
[Image] Cancer Defeated logo

Like Us on Facebook Web Version | Subscribe | Back Issues | Resource Center | Feedback
About Cancer Defeated!

The Beginning of the End for Mammography
and Other Invasive Treatments
By Mindy Tyson McHorse, Contributing Editor

Recent progress on the breast cancer front tells me we're moving closer to more effective, gentler cancer tests and treatments. It may even be the beginning of a movement away from radiation-heavy screening tests and invasive techniques like biopsies.

Here's the first round of good news: In September, the FDA officially approved use of ABUS — the Automated Breast Ultrasound System. What's that? If you're a woman you need to know, because it can DOUBLE your chance of finding breast cancer early. So keep reading. . .

Continued below. . .

FYI - Further research on your part is necessary to fully understand this technique.

We first told you about ABUS in Issue #198 of this newsletter, pointing out it's a lifesaver for women with dense breast tissue (that's about 40 percent of women in the U.S.).

Mammograms are useless for detecting tumors in dense tissue, and women with dense breast tissue are four to six times more likely to develop breast cancer. So the test is of little use to the women who need it most. Mammograms aren't even that useful for screening normal tissue, missing up to 15 percent of all cancerous lumps.

ABUS is important because it doubles the rate of early detection for women with dense breast tissue and triples the rate of detection for cancers smaller than 10 mm. And since early detection means a survival rate of 96%, ABUS just makes sense.

Now of course, the FDA only approved use of ABUS for women with dense breasts. And they haven't completely kicked mammograms to the curb. The first sentence of their official approval statement is that they support ABUS "in combination with a standard mammography." Even then, they say ABUS should be for women with dense breast tissues who've had a "negative" mammogram.

It's a little ridiculous because ABUS can screen tissue of any type. The best information we have indicates it's a better solution for almost any woman, because ABUS means no painful breast compression, no radiation exposure, and a more thorough exam than a mammogram.

Still, the FDA's new stance represents progress. It even gives me hope the FDA will someday sever its ties with the radiology industry. At least we can hope.

Just note that ABUS approval doesn't override the longstanding best way to find breast lumps: consistent breast exams from competent physicians. It's been proven that the more time a physician spends conducting the exam, the more thorough the results.

In fact, one study showed that OB/GYN physicians found fewer lumps when compared to family practitioners, internists, and other physicians who conduct longer exams (and by "long" I only mean 10-15 minutes).

But lumps smaller than 1 cm across are tough for physicians to feel, no matter how long the exam lasts. That's why the ABUS news is important. Plus, it takes a physician about five seconds to examine a woman's breasts and tell her if the tissue is dense. And if that's the case, an ABUS test is crucial.
The mechanical palpation that "reads" tumors
Another technique to keep your eye on: Elastography. It's used by ultrasound technicians to spot malignant tumors. That translates into fewer biopsies, because it means you're dealing with fewer false positives.

This is good news. Biopsies are invasive, cost as much as $1,000, and getting back results can take as long as two weeks. Worse, the pathway through the skin created by the needle makes it potentially easier for diseased cells to spread.

Elastography avoids all that. It's one step up from traditional ultrasound because it actually takes two ultrasound images and combines them. The first image uses basic ultrasound techniques to penetrate the body with sound waves. The result is a fuzzy image (called a sonogram) of what's inside your body.

Step two is where the ultrasound technician takes what's called a compression image. If a breast tumor is suspected, the tech pushes slightly on the breast with the ultrasound emitter. This compresses the breast tissue while sound waves go through it. Because healthy breast tissue and benign tumors are more elastic, or softer, than malignancies, they'll depress easily. Malignant tumors don't depress at all. They can be anywhere from five to 100 times stiffer than a benign growth.

It's the equivalent of a mechanical "palpation," providing information on the flexibility of a tumor.

Once the two images are combined, the resulting two-part computer-generated picture tells us a lot more than a basic sonogram.

But here's where it gets interesting — in 2006, an elastography study correctly differentiated between benign and malignant tumors with nearly a 100 percent success rate.

On top of that, doctors can read the results right away instead of making you wait weeks to learn whether a tumor is cancerous or not. The cost is only $100 or $200 per procedure and doesn't require a pricey follow-up visit. And given that it's non-invasive ... there's not really a good reason not to use it.

Elastography also shows incredible promise for diagnosing prostate cancer and a few other diseases, like cirrhosis of the liver (a disease where the liver hardens).
Cryogenics kill cancer cells
Elastography isn't the only way to avoid biopsies. IceCure Medical, a company in Israel, is now marketing what it calls "IceSense3" to kill breast cancer tumors.

The procedure is like a nearly non-invasive biopsy. It uses ultrasound imaging to guide a hollow, extremely thin needle into a tumor. Liquid nitrogen is then used to inject radically cold temperatures through the needle to destroy the tumor.

The method only works on tumors that are detected early, but if you pass that hurdle it has several other advantages. It requires just a local anesthetic and can be done in 10-15 minutes. More importantly, it doesn't leave women disfigured and with insanely large hospital bills.

It remains to be seen whether this method can prevent widespread metastases, since there's always the risk a cancer has spread by the time it's visible on a scan. But it's better than a lot of the procedures out there.
Cancer recovery now in reach
It's enough to make future breast cancer regimens look appealing: Easy tumor detection with ABUS. Clarification on whether a tumor is benign or cancerous through elastography. And then non-invasive cryogenic treatment on the tumors with cancer cells.

My advice? Ask about these treatments. Push for them. Demand them. The FDA is cumbersome in getting anything done, but who knows? Maybe the ABUS opinion is a sign that this beast of an organization will someday get on board with the future of cancer treatment.

Like Us on Facebook
Kindest regards,

Lee Euler, Publisher

"FDA approves first breast ultrasound imaging system for dense breast tissue." FDA News Release, Sept. 18, 2012.

"IceSense3™ System Overview." IceSense3 Cryoablation Procedure.

"New Breakthrough in Breast Screening Overcomes Major Shortcoming of Mammograms." Cancer Defeated Newsletter, June 24, 2012.

"Simple procedure destroys breast cancer tumors." Dr. Robert J. Rowen's Second Opinion Health Alert. October 19, 2012.

The Truth About Breast Health and Breast Cancer, Prescription for Healing, by Charles B. Simone, MD. December 2002. Excerpt via DrSimone10.16.12 newsletter. "Will elastography replace biopsies for confirming a cancer diagnosis?" by Julia Layton, Discover Fit & Health.

Health Disclaimer: The information provided above is not intended as personal medical advice or instructions. You should not take any action affecting your health without consulting a qualified health professional. The authors and publishers of the information above are not doctors or health-caregivers. The authors and publishers believe the information to be accurate but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. There is some risk associated with ANY cancer treatment, and the reader should not act on the information above unless he or she is willing to assume the full risk.

We're an online cancer bookstore offering Outsmart Your Cancer, Cancer Step Outside the Box, Stop Cancer Before It Starts, Natural Cancer Remedies that Work, Adios-Cancer, Cancer Breakthrough USA, Missing Ingredient For Good Health, German Cancer Breakthrough, How to Cure Almost Any Cancer for $5.15 a Day and Keep Your Gallbladder!

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Lexington, VA 24450

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

All Kinds of Celebration!

Sunday Celebration! 

Our church celebrated 13 years today.  It was wonderful seeing how much each of the "original" congregation meant to the pastor and his family.  We could tell how happy they all were today.  Matt and I have only been going there since the summer.  They have been very loving to us. Casey had the opportunity to join us for fellowship and a celebration luncheon afterwards.  Glad she got to meet folks and see where we are now.

We got home about 2:00 and I laid down for a "quick" nap.  While napping, Matt and Casey began clean up in the basement.  They worked hard for 3 hours and now there is just a small amount for me to decide what to do with.  I've been in this house for almost 20 years and, boy, can stuff pile up.  We've had a disgusting mold problem on the corner of the basement walls, but needed to weed out all the stuff downstairs to treat the walls.  Mold isn't good for anyone, let alone someone going thru treatment and having weakened immune system.  I really appreciate all the help since she has arrived!  All the piles of papers in my office have been wittled down as well. My file cabinets have been archived. 

Do you remember my new's years resolution ?!!!

We are treating ourselves to a little bit of shopping and Panera's tomorrow :)

May your days be filled with overflowing JOY ~
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Saturday, November 17, 2012


How can so many different emotions exist in me at one time?  Well, it feels like all at once, but it is more like one right after the other and around again full circle.

I've been putting some overtime in order to take off early today.  Two reasons: Christie's 1st chemo and Casey's arrival at the airport. 
Sort of like "bitter-sweet"

Sis's appointment was 1:00 and I was able to take off work at that time and arrived at the clinic as the party was getting started.  I wasn't going to miss it come hell or high water.  I will let her tell you the names of her chemo and such.  We got some great news from the scans ... no cancer in the liver! no cancer in her spine! If there is any cancer anywhere else, this cocktail is going to get it.  Actually, Doc said that the tumor should shrink considerably by her follow up appointment in 10 days!

Doc is throwing the book at her and that is the best statement anyone can say.  To be there right with you, not giving up, being knowledgeable in oncology and making the best treatment decisions available.

I sure do hate the fact that she has to go through this at all.  I also know that Jesus is holding her hand right now. 

and so am I

The plan was to stop in at the clinic and then run home to pick up hubby and make it to the airport by Casey's 3:34 arrival time.  Well, Matt took care of doing that while I stayed a little longer to be able to hear the doctor and ask questions. SO glad I did!  Casey is very understanding (thank you!) 

I've been jumping up and down all week in anticipation of her coming home for Thanksgiving. Been missing her to pieces!  This is the "sweet" part :)

What a day! I have 10 days off before returning to work and I plan to use them as wisely as possible!

May you have a joyful weekend!!

Isn't she sweet?!

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Pole Dancing

Today was my first chemo treatment. We got home around 4:30 and I don't feel bad at all - yet. The anti-nausea meds make me walk and talk like I've had a beer or two (I'm such a light-weight) and the red chemo drug turned my pee orange!
Before chemo treatment
At noon I slathered Lidocaine on the port site and Richard put plastic wrap around my arm so it wouldn't rub off. Then we went to the drug store in search of the perfect thermometer. I have to take my temperature every evening at 8:00 pm. If it ever reaches 100.5 I have to call Dr. Rehmus.
We arrived at our appointment and were taken to the suite where they administer chemo. As I was getting settled in the lounge chair my sister, Carol, walked in! It was so good having her there to help me through this first time.
I had many staff visitors; the pharmacist, the dietitian, my doctor, and my neighbor (she works there). My nurses, Karen and Regina were so nice and caring. I will always be in good hands.
All hooked up and ready to go.
Carol showed me how to pole dance. HaHa!
That's when I pushed the IV stand to the restroom, juggling the cords and tubes, trying not to trip over my two left feet!
I will have to take anti-nausea medication for three days. It will knock me out so I wanted to let you know about today before I slept.
Thank you for all of your hugs, thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement. I feel the love!
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Little Inspiration

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Let's Get This Party Started

I got the call! I will start my first chemo on Friday, November 16th at 1:00 pm. I will have more details tomorrow. All of my labs, scans, and tests have come back clean. The pathology report found that it's HER2-negative, which is a good thing. The plan is that I will have 4 cycles (3 weeks apart) of one drug, then 4 cycles of another. Then surgery in the spring, followed by radiation.

Photo by Bent Objects
I am still trying to wrap my head around this! It's only been 15 days. I know I can do this. I'm one tough cookie but sometimes feel like I'm falling to pieces. My sister Carol has been here for me, giving me strength and courage. She says I need to walk through the fear and get to the other side.

I've noticed that those required hugs I get each day actually pat most of the crumbs back into place and help me hold myself together.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012


There seems to be some backlash against "pink".  I understand fully about awareness versus a cure.  I get it.  I want a cure!

A few days ago, I was in a crowded room and saw a pink hat bedazzled and worn by a kindred spirit. When I finally reached her, she looked at me and I just pointed to my pink ribbon lapel pin. "Blessings to you my sister. I know what you are going through." She smiled with sadness in her eyes.

We are part of a sisterhood.  Not a community that any of us elected, but a community nonetheless.  For me, it is a way to feel not-so-alone in battling this awful disease. I wonder if that is what others may feel in the rainbow of colors ~

Now, this sisterhood hits right in my own family.  Christie's first chemo is scheduled for Nov 16. Please pray for comfort and peace as she begins her own journey into the pink abyss.

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Hurry Up and Wait

It seems like I've been doing a lot of this during the past 14 days. Making it to appointments, filling out paper work, waiting. Changing into a gown, shaped like a sheet with holes in it for arms; waiting. Waiting while they set up, waiting while they perform the tests, waiting to be released. Then waiting for results, waiting for that phone call, waiting on the edge of my seat. But I'm okay with waiting because I know that the medical staff is part of team-Christie, working on my behalf, to develop the best plan of action to conquer this cancer.
I had the Echo on Monday morning and the liver MRI Tuesday. I want to start the chemo right away and hope I get that call today.
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Comparing Our Girls

Christie & Carol bc (before cancer)
My sister, Carol,  stopped by after work the day of my biopsy. I was still in shock and really scared. She has been through this journey herself and will finish chemo in mid-December. We sat on the couch going over the events and  I asked if she wanted to see my wounds. Now, we hadn't seen each other's chests since 1965 so this was an odd moment. But I lifted my shirt, tugged on my Genie Bra and proved to myself that this was not a dream (nightmare!). She winced at the sight of band-aids and bruises crisscrossing my breast. She said that after radiation my breast will be smaller than the other. "Do you want to see?", she offered. She lifted her shirt and Genie Bra to reveal her breasts and sure enough one was smaller. It was like we were looking in a mirror because our wounds were right across from each other (my left, her right), and in the same location. But more importantly, she could see how far she has come, from being bruised and battered. And I could see were I will be when my treatment is over, healed and healthy once more.
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Visitors are Welcome

Visitors are ALWAYS welcome!  Saturday, we had a nice surprise when our cousin, Debbie, came into town to visit.  I was to wake up early to make it to the high school craft show to hang out with Christie.  I made it from the bed to the couch. My darling husband whispered .... wake up, you don't want to regret not going, you can sleep afterwards .... and about 12:30, I finally sat up.  I sent a text to Christie to see if she was still roaming the halls and she said "I'm walking around with Debbie"

Well, I got ready as fast as my ravaged body could move and we had a delightful day! 

Christie removed her bandages from the port and has some bruising.  She has been battling a nasty metallic taste in her mouth, so food has been yucky.  Debbie is a nurse and it was good to just talk to her. Even though she is not in the field of oncology, she is knowledgeable about so many things. 

We ended the day at Marie's restaurant for a great meal and then hugs afterwards as she made the hour trip back home.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Our hearts were certainly lifted and look forward to getting together again :)


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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Euphuisms for Breasts

So, our baby sister in the Carolina's sent this message, lol:

Angel Cakes, Bazookas, Bazooms, Beacons, Beanbags, Bebops, Betty Boops,
Big Boppers, Bikini Stuffers, Billibongs, Blinkers, Bombers, Bombshells,
Bon Bons, Bongos, Bonkers, Boobers, Boobies, Boobs, Boops, Bops, Bosom,
Boulders, Bouncers, Bra Buddies, Bra Stuffers, Breasts, Bronskis, Bubbas,
Bubbies, Buds, Bulbs, Bulges, Bullets, Bumpers, Bumps, Bust, Busters,
Busties, Butterballs, Buttons, Caboodles, Cams, Cannon Balls, Cantaloupes,
Carumbas, Cha-chas, Charlies, Chihuahuas, Chimichongas, Chiquitas,
Coconuts, Congas, Corkers, Cream Pies, Creamers, Cuhuangas, Cupcakes,
Curves, Dingers, Dinghies, Dingos, Dirigibles, Doorknobs, Doozers,
Doozies, Double-Whammies, Dueling Banjos, Dumplings, Dunes, Ear Muffs,
Eclairs, Eggplants, Enchiladas, Flapjacks, Flappers, Flesh Bulbs, Flesh
Mellons Floaters, Fog Lights, Fried Eggs, Fun Bags, Gagas, Garbos,
Gazingas, Gazongas, Glands, Globes, Globlets, Gob Stoppers, Gongas,
Goombas, Grapefruits, Grillwork, Guavas, Gum Drops, Hand Warmers,
Handsets, Head Lamps, Headers, Headlights, Headphones, Headsets,
Hefties, Heifers, Hemispheres, Hills, Hindenburgs, Honeydews, Honkers,
Hood-Ornaments, Hoohas, Hooters, Hot Cakes, Hottentots, Howitzers,
Hubcaps, Huffies, Humdingers, Hush Puppies, ICBMS, Jawbreakers,
Jemimas, Jibs, Jobbers, Jugs, Jukes, Jumbos, Kabukis, Kalamazoos,
Kazongas, Kazoos, Knobbers, Knockers, Kongas, Kumquats, Lactoids, Lip
Fodder, LLamas, Loaves, LobLollies, Love Mellons, Love Muffins, LuLus,
Macaroons, Mammaries, Mammies, Mams, Mangos, Marangos, Maraschinos,
Marimbas, Marshmallows, Mau Maus, Mausers, Meat Loaves, Meatballs,
Melons, Milk Cans, Milk Fountains, Milk Shakes, Mmbos, Molehills,
Mommas, Mondos, Montain Peaks, Montezumas, Moo Moos, Mother Lodes,
Mounds, Muchachas, Muffins, Mulligans, Mushmellons, Nancies, Nectarines,
Niblets, Nibs, Nippers, Nippies, Nippleoons, Nippleos, Nips, Nodes,
Nodules, Noogies, Nose Cones, Oboes, Oompas, Orbs Apples, Ottomans
Balboas, Padding Balloons, Pagodas Bangers, Pair Bangles, Palookas
Bassoons, Papayas Baubles, Parabolas Bazongas, Paw Patties, Peaches,
Peakers, Peaks, Pears, Pects, Peepers, Pillows, Pips, Plums,
Pointer-Sisters, Points, Pokers, Polygons, Pompoms, Pontoons, Potatoes,
PT Boats, Pumpkins, Rangoons, Rib Cushions, Rib Balloons, Rivets,
Roundies, Sandbags, Satellites, Scones, Scoops, Set, Shakers, Shebas,
Shermans, Shimmies, Silos, Skin Sacks, Skooners, Smoothies, Snuggle
Pups, Spark Plugs, Specials, Spheres, Spongecakes, Spuds, Stacks,
Stuffing Casabas, Sugar Plums, Sweater Meat, Sweater Puffs, Sweet Rolls,
Tahitis, Tamales, Tartugas, Tatas, Tattlers, Teats, Tetons, Thangs,
Thingumajigs, Tidbits, Titbits, Tits, Titskis, Titters Domes, Titties
Doodads, Tom-Toms, Tomatoes, Tooters, Torpedoes, Tortillas, Totos Dugs,
Twangers, Tweakers, Tweeters, Twin Peaks, Twofers, Tympanies, U-Boats,
Umlauts, Wahwahs, Waldos, Warheads, Watermelons, Floats, Whoppers,
Windjammers, Wobblers, Wongas, Woofers, Yabbos, Yams, Yayas, Zeppelins,
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Feel Your Best at Working During Chemo


These strategies will help you keep up with your job demands during chemo treatment.

By Rita Ross

A cancer diagnosis may upend your life, but working through your treatment can help you maintain a semblance of normalcy. Balancing a career and chemotherapy can be difficult; fortunately, the workplace is more accommodating than ever. In a recent survey, 85% of employers allowed breast cancer patients to reduce their work hours and 79% okayed a flexible schedule, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans in Brookfield, WI. As a result, about 80% of patients work through their treatment, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Try these strategies for battling common problems at work and keeping up with the demands of your job:

Time it right
To minimize the impact of treatment side effects on your job performance, schedule chemo sessions for late in the day or book them for Fridays, right before the weekend.

Fight fatigue with food
Fatigue is one of the most common side effects, so ask your boss about taking short breaks during the day—even 10 minutes can boost your energy—and eat a nutritious snack if your appetite allows. Munch on a protein bar or a tablespoon of peanut butter on a whole-wheat cracker, plus a small glass of skim milk.

Fight fatigue in other ways
A short walk can also give you an energy boost. Another strategy is to take three slow, deep breaths whenever your energy sags.

Cope with nausea
Consider temporarily relocating to a workstation near a rest room in case you need to slip out now and then.

Stay sharp
If chemotherapy or radiation interferes with concentration, schedule your toughest work duties for the morning or whenever you feel especially sharp.
Published October 2012
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Christie's Prep

This morning, Christie went to her Chemo Class.  Even though we are not quite sure what her cocktail will be, it was a time to receive all kinds of information, including terminology.  She came with me and my husband for my chemo class.  I know that since Richard (her husband) hasn't experienced this part of the process, it will be beneficial for him.

After that, she received her "port".  When I talked to her this afternoon, she was laying on the couch resting.  My power injectable port experience was horrible.  And remember, she also received her flu and pneumonia shot yesterday. 

I would imagine that she is not feeling 100%

She talked about two meetings she was scheduled to go to this evening.  Well, doc said to keep life's schedules at a normal pace as much as possible.  It does help [me] to put both feet on the floor each morning I get up.  Purpose.

The MRI on her liver has to be done at the main hospital and the next available appointment is Dec 5. We are checking into other options.

She has to contact her family doctor to get further testing done on her stomach issues.  Hopefully, there is nothing to deal with, but we need to alleviate any other fears of the "unknown".

Well, Christie is still dealing with the news and I can remember how surreal at this time of my journey.  I am praying that people continue to hug her and encourage her. 

Oh! How important that is!

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Introduction to Breast Cancer

Learning that you have breast cancer can, quite literally, stop you in your tracks. You may feel frozen in time, replaying over and over again in your mind the moment your doctor told you the news. It's normal to feel a wide range of emotions—fear, shock, depression, anger and even guilt.

Slow down, take a moment and breathe. The emotions you are feeling are completely understandable. And if you are feeling nothing, that's OK, too. Oftentimes, when a woman hears the diagnosis "breast cancer," she goes temporarily numb.

Take comfort, though, in knowing that, as of 2010, there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. Experts report that the death rate from breast cancer has been decreasing since 1991, due to public awareness, earlier detection and advances in treatment.

The truth is, there is nothing fair about breast cancer. But you can find plenty of help and reasons for hope. Turn to your family and friends. Choose a healthcare team you trust. Prepare for a battle and be strong.

Health Monitor

Learn more Introduction to Breast Cancer

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Blog Your Way to Better Health | Health Monitor

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's All About Christie

Ok, now to collect all my thoughts and my notes.  (I'm a horrible note-taker)

Christie is going to be fine

She has a tough road ahead, but she is also a tough cookie, just like her sister.

They are waiting for the HER2/neu test results (hopefully before the week is out). This will identify which type of treatments will be needed. HER2/neu protein is found on some types of cancer cells. This test shows whether the tissue either has too much HER2/neu protein or too many copies of its gene. If the breast tumor has too much HER2/neu, then targeted therapy may be a treatment option. This can include chemotherapy with drugs thru a vein or by tablet form. (My Herceptin is targeted therapy.)  We know the hormone receptor test is positive.

We will know the full name once all the tests have come in and which cocktails she will be taking.
Clues about the nature of a tumor come from how abnormal its cells look and what percentage of them is dividing. These and other factors are summed up as a grade of 1, 2 or 3. The higher the grade, the more aggressive the tumor. Cancers are also classified by stage -- a measure of how extensive the disease is. The system often used is called TNM, for Tumor (size), Nodes (cancer present or not) and Metastasis (cancer spread to distant organs). A number is assigned to each category. Once the TNM categories are determined, this info is combined with the grade to create an overall stage, from 0 for noninvasive to IV for the most invasive.

T = (tumor size) = 2
N = Nodes (cancer present or not) = 1
M = Metastasis (cancer spread to distant organs) = 0
Stage 2 B
Part of the waiting we had to endure was getting clarification on lesions that were found on her spine and on her liver.  Doc said the spine was clear! The liver was inconclusive and she feels that it will prove clear as well.  First, another scan to be sure. Double-check the stomach area as well.
Red blood count was good
Cyst on the spleen
Chemo Class
MRI - stomach and liver
Implant port
Plan - chemo first, see how much the tumor shrinks to be able to determine if surgery will be lumpectomy or mastectomy. From this, the type of surgery will determine if radiation will be part of the treatment.
Today, they gave her a flu shot and pneumonia shot.  She met the social worker, Denise, who helps coordinate insurance, billing, and find resources such as nutritionists, etc. She received her scripts for the nauseous meds, handicap sign, wig, and work orders (above).
When things "settle down" a bit, both of us have to get Oncotype DX test.
Doc's recommended homework: Living will
Doc's recommended reading:
Yes, siree, she is a FIGHTER!
I saw this smile today!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Spiritual Reality Check

Nothing happens in your life that is beyond God's control.

When you go through a hard time, God is never caught off guard. The truth is He wants to use it to take you to a new level in your relationship with Him. That's when your challenge becomes a "test" that can actually strengthen your faith and trust in God. So resist the urge to panic and instead praise God for the good thing He's doing in your life while He's bringing you through the storm.

Remember what the Word says:

He who began a good work in you will continue...developing...and perfecting and bringing it to a full completion in you. Phil 1:6

The fact that God is doing a "work" in you is actually an encouraging thing. It's all about having the right perspective and trusting Him.

Remember, you are not going under, you are going through!

by: Joyce Meyer

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Waiting is a pain in the butt!

Today's oncology appointment with Christie has been post-poned until Wednesday at 3:00.  Doc had a death in the family.  As much as we understand, it is difficult to wait.

Christie has another MRI today and then I guess we will wait.

My opinion is that Doc Esther has 5 other colleagues in her office and if it was "urgent" enough, she would have set Christie up with one of them. 

As with anything, the fear of the unknown is what can mess with your mind.

We can't let it.

Christie / Heather / Carol

Remember, you are never alone. Jesus is sitting right next to you.
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Not again!

The last few days have been shocking.  My sister has been such an angel during my illness, taking such good care of me and always lending a hand or a shoulder.  How did the tide suddenly turn?

Her annual mammogram came out fine the beginning of the year.  She started to notice changes and even went to her doctor who had the balls to say that she was having sympathy pains for her sister (me).

I'd like to kick him in the balls and tell him that is just sympathy pains for the jerks in this world.

Ladies, we are here to remind you, when you notice changes in your body, don't take no for an answer!  She didn't.

Christie's biopsy was Thursday, Nov 1.  From there, they sent her to Dr. Partin, the same surgeon I had.  Since the biopsy wasn't back yet, they discussed some of the details. 

They received more news the next day.  They were called to come in to see Dr. Partin at 11:00. After numerous tests that lasted most of the day (test, wait, go to another lab, test, wait and repeat).  At about 5:30, I received a text that they were heading home. Oh! Such a long and exhausting day!

Still not much news to report except that she has told her children, mom, dad, youngest sister and she is notifying those in her life's circle.  That is a very good thing! It is so VERY important to have people support you with love and prayers and a lending hand.

I hope Christie at least writes down her journey.  It is good therapy.  And, if she decides to publicize it, then she will get even more prayers and encouragement.  She did give me permission to share her journey with mine.

We are entwined as sisters and just living in the moment.

Lord, I don't want to live in fear. Help me remember to always bring my concerns to You in prayer so that Your peace that passes all understanding will permanently reside in my heart. I draw my strength from You and I refuse to be afraid of illness. I refuse to be afraid of death itself.

I Corinthians 15:
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,[j] this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.[k]
55 O death, where is your victory?     O death, where is your sting?[l]


It was beautiful to have my new church family pray for my sister today.  My pastor gave me a prayer cloth annointed with oil.  I will take it to her tomorrow when we meet with Dr Esther (my oncologist). I hope to take notes and be a support for her. 

Lord, I come to You today and pray for healing and wholeness for my sister. I ask that sickness and infirmity will have no place or power in her life. I pray for protection against any disease coming into her body and trust that You will place Your hand upon her body and heal her.  I ask that you give her strength and comfort to endure the treatments that will rid the cancer cells from her body.  I pray for a miracle that the tumor shrinks to absolutely nothing remaining and that the doctors will see for themselves just what a miracle can be!  Use this situation to Your glory, God, and let Your light shine upon everyone who watches! Amen and Amen!

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Herceptin #15

Update #15 not #9 (chemo brain)

Today was my 15th Herceptin drip.  Targetting those HER2 proteins! Zap ~
I have 2 more to go!

Day after Thanksgiving and 2 days after my sister's birthday in December. 

I asked Nurse Karen what happens next?  I don't see the oncologist until January.  She said that I will receive a phone call to set up an "overview" appointment.  They will review everything that has occurred since the beginning of my journey.  I will still need tests here and there. And still need checkups with my oncologist.  Still monitoring the "5 year pill".

So, still not quite over

I couldn't have done it without the encouraging words and prayers received from so many people in my life.  Even people I don't even know.  It's that positive energy that has gotten me through some of the rough times and bad days.

It's natural to think about death while going through something so intense as cancer.  It's crazy even to say those words .... "I have cancer".  You HAVE to go through it to get to the OTHER side.  Hopefully, in one piece.  Much wiser, much more humble, full of grace and compassion for others.

The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1
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