Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

This year has been a roller coaster for us, it has been one of the longest, shortest and blurriest years of my life. But in all the shock, pain, needles and tests, there were some really wonderful bright spots this year. So, in no particular order...

  • Seeing my parents for roughly 3 months. Okay so it was to help my husband take care of me and my kids while I had chemo, but my children got close to there "Other" Grandma and Grandpa this year.
  • Laying down with my girls and them reaching up to rub my bald head, or pulling off my scarf revealing my shiny dome and then proceeding to have it covered with their kisses.
  • Having a co-worker at another site compliment me on my "fabulous" hair and me whipping it off and handing it to her and told her if she liked it she could have it (I found out at that moment she had no clue I had cancer, so I was lucky she didn't have a heart attack!)
  • Having my family's pictures taken one chilly Monday morning to document how beautiful life with cancer could be (thank you Emily).
  • Meeting the most brave and wonderful women I have ever had the privilege meeting in the chemo suite and continuing a friendship that helps me cope on so many levels (thank you Penny).
  • The countless hours of wonderful conversations with my chemo companions during the hours of infusion.
  • Having an online group of women (my Baby Mommas) that not only kept me going each week during chemo with cards, gifts, surprise visits and for them to come together with my family and friends for my first breast cancer walk. You women were so supportive and wonderful, words cannot describe how much you all mean to me and how I will never repay your kindness.
  • My in-laws who offered to help if needed (and we did) and are treating us to a week of warm weather and a bikini.
  • Who could forget being on the radio (98 Rock) and being given a meet and greet with New Kids On the Block. Finally meeting Jordan Knight (at one of the 3 NKOTB concerts I went to this year) Thank you SO much Meg!!
  • My husband, Chris, who laid with me when I ached, when I cried, when my hair fell out, forever telling me that I was beautiful and he loved me and who promised me that I would live through it and it would make us stronger (I did and it has).
  • Being able to party at my last chemo treatment and getting a tiara that I still will where today.
  • Getting my first clear mammogram back after my all of my treatments and finally feeling like I could finally exhale.

Thank you all to those that have read this blog and thought of my family and me on this journey. I know that this year was rough, but I have a suspicion that next year will be great... I mean hell it couldn't get much worse right!!! Hahahaha

I always loved this quote, but it never fit as well as it does now...

"May the best of your yesterdays, be the worst of your tomorrows"

Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just a Rash??!!

Yup, I finally got my biopsy results in and hold on to your boots everyone... It is just a rash (brought on by what the dermatologist feels is one of my medications). He suggests just stopping it (the medication)...

That is ingenious since he doesn't know which one is causing it... Should I stop taking the drug that is stopping the cancer from coming back. Or maybe the one that helps my bones so that my cancer doesn't metastasise in my bones... Or stop taking the one that allows me to take the other ones that save my life.... Hmmm... Decisions, decisions.

Well as of right now the antihistamine that he gave me has the rash almost gone, so I will continue to take that through into the new year, and then we will experiment on my medicines. Now if anyone can just let me know what I can do about my swollen boob, I would appreciate it!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Frankenstein Boob (Adult Content)

I had an appointment with my Oncologist and she was very distraught about the rash on my breast and back (in the exact locations of my radiation). So she wanted my dermatologist to do a skin biopsy on my left breast to find out what it was, a reaction to one of my medications, a simple rash, psoriasis or possible a recurrence of the breast cancer in nodule form. The last one freaked me out a bit, but she said that it would be a rare occurrence so I should be too worried.

What worried me is that if I'm not suppose to get blood taken or blood pressure in my left arm, how are you doing to do a breast biopsy? Well he did and that weekend my breast swelled up!

I believe I officially have (what my sister has coined as) a Frankenstein boob! Between the scarring, the stitch (for the biopsy) and the swelling, it is not attractive.

I saw my oncologist on Monday and she said she thinks it is cellulitis (an infection of the skin) and gave me an antibiotic to take for a week and let her know if it goes down after that. If not I might have to have a breast massage??!! done. Oh that just sounds awkward....

So here is a picture of my left breast (obviously bigger than my right) I like to call it my Franken-boob.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mommy's New Boo-Boo

Oh wow!!!

So I wanted to update you all on how my scar revision went.

It went GREAT!!!

Dr. Singh (yes I gave his last name) is great! He did have to use a lot of Lidocaine, but it was good and he was so nice and thorough. Chris was even aloud to stay in the room with me (as long as he sat down) hahaha.

Dr. Singh did 3 layers of stitches (2 for strength and a last layer for looks).

Even bruised, it looks pretty good.

I am trying to keep it covered, but I am pretty much painless and it is only 5 days later!
It went from this....
To this!! Yeah!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wow!! Another Thanksgiving done.

After this roller coaster year that my family has had, I thought it would be good for me to include some of the things I am thankful for (in no particular order...)

  • I am thankful for my health... That after this year's surgery, chemo, radiation and sickness, I am alive and (for the most part) healthy.

  • I am thankful for my children who loved me when I was sick, who loved me when I was bald, and who love me all the time and call me the "BEST MOMMY EVER!!"

  • I am so thankful to my husband who has taken such good care of me. Who is so wonderful with our kids and such a great father.

  • I am thankful that God saw fit to only let me see my breast cancer now, so that I was able to have my children and husband that I am so thankful for.

  • I am thankful to my family, who took time out of their lives this year to take care of me and my family, who put their entire lives a side to make sure that I could get through this.

  • I am thankful for all my friends who prayed for us, who sent me inspirational, loving and sometimes funny cards while I struggled.

  • I am thankful to my Baby Mammas who have blessed my life in so many ways and who found time during their busy lives to make sure that I know every week that I was not alone.

  • And I am just so thankful to be living... To be hear for everyone that needs me.

So please look at the people in your life and give them a hug and kiss from me. Be thankful that you have this day to have with them.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mommy's Boo-Boo

When I had my port in for my chemo, Natalie (my baby) use to rub the back of her head against it when she sat on my lap. Did it hurt? Yes!! But for some reason she would always do it. When the port was removed, I was left with a thick scar with two keloids that were bumpy. Definitely NOT attractive.

But the funny thing is now that the port is gone, Natalie will sit on my lap and pull open my shirt (just to reveal the scar) and touch it and say, "Mommy boo-boo?" "Yes, Mommy boo-boo," I would respond. Then she would do it again, and again, and again.... Needless to say, this could go on for a good half hour. But after she was done, she would put her head down on my chest, so her temple was on my scar and she would rub her head back and forth.

So what is she going to do when I get it removed?

It is the last part of the cancer that still hurts. My breast is healed, my lymph node incision is healed. Only my port scar looks unsightly and still hurts due to all the scar tissue. So tomorrow (the day before Thanksgiving) I am going to have the scar removed with a plastic surgeons. It is an outpatient procedure and it should be pretty quick. I am not looking forward to the pain of the initial lidocaine shots, but I am looking forward to not having my "boo-boo" anymore.

I wonder what Natalie will do when Mommy's boo-boo is gone? Do you think she will ever forget the scar, or look for it for years to come?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure - Part 2

October 18, 2009

"Breast Cancer is rain on a winter's night; closing in and freezing hope.As Race Day approached the chill of defeat could be felt in the steady rain.Would the dark and cold extinguish the flame that is the heart of our cause?Never! Because of you!Thirty-thousand people turned dark to light, cold to warm, and rain to tears of joy.You were the miracle of the morning.We will find a cure!" -from the Susan G. Komen website.
The Survivor Parade and walk...
We woke up at 5:00 am on Sunday October 17, 2009. After taking a shower and getting ready I woke up my best friend Daniella and my two girls (who were doing just fine sleeping in their beds). I put on my pink wig and went down stairs.

Me and Daniella (Dani)

I met up with some of the girls down stairs, three Baby Mommas came with me.
Meg and Mackenzie

Diana and Delaney and Heather A. and Grant
As we (my girls, Daniella, Baby Mommas and I) were getting ready to go outside we noticed not only was it rainy, but it had snowed as well. Yes honest to goodness friggin' SNOW!!! So the 10 of us started out 5 block journey to the walk.
We got there about 6:30am and found my Mother and Father in-law (Nickie and Joe) and two family friends (Kay and her daughter Kim). I was so touched that there were so many that braved the weather to come be with me for the survivor parade. We finally got out of the rain and into the survivor tent when it was time for the survivor parade.

I got in line with my double stroller (Aubrey and Natalie were bundled up and ready to do some waving). The parade of pink (and multi-colored coats) started and my family and friends were lining down the row to see me and witness my successful journey through cancer. As I saw my family and friends cheering for me, my girls waved and smiled. For me I think I was so worried about my girls, whether they were warm enough and not hitting anyone with my stroller that I really didn't think about my past year. But I also think that it is still a little to close to the surface to open that up.

After the short parade around race village, we all got together to take a survivor picture. At this point Nickie took the stroller so I could be in the picture and I could breathe. That was when I started to cry...

After the parade, we still had about an hour before the walk started so we (my group of 10) walked back to the hotel to have some warm breakfast, warm up and meet up with my other baby mommas before started our mile family walk.

Breakfast was great and I was so glad that my family had a chance to spend some time with my Baby Mommas. Then we all bundled back up and walked back to race village to start our walk. One of my friends came earlier and actually waited an hour for us to get our butts back down to the walk so she could walk with us
(thank you so much Heather for waiting).

It was a great (and long) walk and we even got a shout out for Team LJ from the announcer while we were walking.

Natalie all tuckered out after the walk...

Through the wind, rain, and snow we walked for a cure. We walked for friendship and we walked for me, my girls and for anyone else that will get breast cancer.

Team LJ's goal was to have 10 team members and raise $1000.00, with every one's help I had 22 members on my team and we raised $2045.00.

Thank you everyone who had donated to Team LJ, and /or walked with us that wonderfully emotional, cold Sunday morning!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure - Part 1

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I don’t really know how to start off my walk story…

Should I separate it between walk and play date?

Should I talk about my Baby Mommas then my family?

I guess I will start at the beginning and see where it takes me…

I registered a few months back for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Hunt Valley, MD. I decided to put my own team together, “Team LJ”. My goal was to have 10 team members and $1000.00 in donations. That was my goal… My team took on a life of its own and was one of the most inspirational experiences in my entire life. I cannot think of it right now with out my heart expanding out of my chest and tearing up.

I had invited all my Baby Momma’s to join me in my walk. I made into a play date for all of our almost-two year olds. To my great surprise, there was 8 that were going me make the trip (2 from Texas, 2 from New York, 1 from Chicago, 1 from Michigan, 1 from Minnesota and 1 from Virginia). I was so excited. 4 of these women I had met before (Bridget, Sharon, Heather A. and Meg had met up the year before for a play date). But Diana, Tammy, Ari, and Leanne I was going to meet for the first time (although we had been online talking for over 2 ½ years).

We were all going to meet up at the Embassy Suites in Hunt Valley on Saturday. Meg picked up Tammy and her daughter Lauren at Dulles airport and came to my house and had lunch before we left for the hotel. My oldest, Elizabeth ended up sick that morning so Chris (my husband) stayed home with her and I took my 4 year old and 1 year old the hour trip to the hotel. As I unpacked, my best friend Daniella came in (she was staying the night in my room so we could leave early the next day for the walk). Then I received a text from Meg that they were all coming down into my room. I opened the door to meet these wonderful women that gave me the support and strength during this battle. I smiled as I saw the women walk up to me with their children. I had seen pictures of all of them before and beautiful pictures of their children so it was really like meeting an old friend.

As I turned around to close the door, a little boy walked into my room. I got worried cause I didn’t want him to lose his mommy, but then another child walked in, and another. I recognized these children; these were the children of my other Baby Mommas. I looked up and saw 12 out of our 17 mommies standing out side my hotel room!!! Unbeknownst to me, they had all gotten together and decided that they wanted to be with me when we walked, be with me while we played and they took, cars, plains, trains from all over the United States to support me this weekend. I cried…

These were the women that had set up a support group for me; they had all taken a week during my chemo treatments to send me gifts, cards, their love and support. And these women were going to be walking beside me during the walk. To me there could be nothing more fitting than that.

But their surprise had not ended there…
Mary Carole (from Kentucky) came over to me and said that she had wished that she gotten my present finished while I was going to go through chemo, but now she was so happy that she could give it to me herself.

It was a beautiful Pink Ribbon quilt, and along the edge had handprints from our 17 babies. Natalie’s were in the center of the quilt and the pink ribbon. Each child had their name embroidered under their handprints. At first I thought they were all the same, but as I looked at them, they were all different sizes and Mary Carole told me that she had messaged my husband and he had gotten Natalie’s handprints traced and sent them to, like all the other mommies. So they were the real handprints of the babies. I accepted the quilt with the deepest gratitude and the snottiest nose.

Then Tammy stood up and said that they had all wanted to get “Team LJ” shirts and instead of buying them, they were all made and she had made Me, Natalie and Aubrey all shirts. The front said “Team LJ” with a pink ribbon and on the back was our name (mine said “LJ”) and our babies birth number (Natalie was #11). Everyone had a shirt, it was great!!

These women had worked none stop for me since I thought up the play date. We all went downstairs to enjoy the bar and the kids the hotel, and then headed up for some sleep before our early morning for the survivor parade the next morning.

It think I will stop here for this post and do the walk on the next post!!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Getting Ready for the Walk!!

This weekend, on Sunday (October 18, 2009) I am going to be joined by some very close family and friends to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for a cure in Baltimore, MD. I am so excited! I am the captain of Team LJ, so if any of you are there... Look for us, or if you would like to come join us you can register the morning of!

I am so excited cause not only are my family and friends from the area coming, but some HUGE supporters of me and my family are coming as well... You know them as the Baby Mommas!! Yes, there will be 9 Baby Mommas joining me in my walk! They are from all over the US and I cannot believe so many are flying/driving/training in for the walk! I am so touched that so many people (so far 22 in all) will be walking with me (on Team LJ) or have donated to support Breast Cancer awareness.

I will definitely have more to talk about once the weekend is over, but I just wanted to let everyone know how truly blessed I feel for having friends like you!!

Love to all, safe trip and will see some of you this weekend!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just an Update!

I know that it has been a few weeks since my last update and I apologize, but I am back to work and crazier than ever!

I had a Doctors appointment with Dr. K (my oncologist) on Monday. 3 Months since my last chemo treatment (crazy!!) She said that I look great. She loves my soft (short) hair. I told her that I haven't been sleeping (due to the Tamoxifen hot flashes), and she gave me two options. I could either take an anti-depressant (low-dose) or a high blood pressure pill. Both seem to counter-act the effects of hot flashes. I chose the anti-depressant (who couldn't use a happy pill right?) but honestly... I don't want to mess with my blood pressure. I asked if I could take a "Tamoxifen Vacation" (where I stop taking it for about a week and then start taking it again (to clear it out of my system). She said that I cannot afford to be without if for any length of time. With my cancer, the Tamoxifen is actually doing more to hold back the cancer then the chemo did (well hell, couldn't we have just put me on that and then I wouldn't have lost my hair!!??)

All in all a good appointment.

Update on me....
I am doing okay, I am catching everything my daughters have (Dr. K says a bad immune system due to chemo for at least a year). So I have a sinus infection, a cold, had pink eye on Tuesday and a weird rash all over my body (I think this is a reaction to the flu vaccine I had Monday). But other than that (hahaha) I am doing okay.

I am trying to feel like myself again. It is amazing how much of yourself you can loose when you have new titles... Wife, mother, employee, cancer patient, now survivor. Don't get me wrong I love all my titles (okay, I could have done with out the cancer patient title) but I wanted to do something that allowed me to be Laurie Jo again. So...

I started dance again. I have ballet class on Monday nights (Adult class) and it is fantastic!! My teacher, Melissa is really awesome! I am felling better (would even more if I could get rid of about 50 lbs), but I love it!! Once cheerleading and marching band is over in November, I am going to also go to a lyrical/jazz class on a different night. It is so wonderful for me to be getting back into this!!

Oh, and for those of you new to me? I started dance when I was 4, took until I was 13 (then moved to MD, where it was uber-expensive) then started back when I was 22 and danced until I was 28. I love it.

So that is what is going on with me.. I hope everyone is doing good and don't forget the Race for the Cure is in Baltimore on October 18!!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

My 6 Month Follow-Up

September 3, 2009

I met with my surgeon (Dr. A) for my 6 month follow-up today. I brought all my films with me. I they said that they needed the current mammogram films and the prior ones. I didn't know exactly what "prior" they wanted (the ones with the wires hanging out of my boob, or the one before the surgery), so I brought them all.

My appointment was at 9:15am. I sat there with only one other lady. I was called back pretty quick and sat in the room until Dr. A was finished looking at the films (I assume). She came in all smiles and told me that my films looked good. She did a full breast exam for both breasts and then said I looked wonderful and healing very nicely and she would see me in 6 more months.
At that time I would have a bi-lateral (both sides) MRI done and a left sided mammogram.
That was it. Easy - peasy.

Lets hope that that is how all my appointments will go for the rest of my life.
Oh, and my Mom wanted to me to take a picture of my hair growing back....

Me and all my glory...

It is really growing in nicely. Of course it is not as fast, full or curly as I had hoped, but it is coming in.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What Cancer Looks Like...

August 27, 2009

I got to spend a fantastic day with some fantastic ladies today.

I met Penny and Wanda in the chemo suite. They are such wonderful women, everything you expect from a cancer survivor (strong, vivacious, wonderful, kind and of course beautiful!)

Thursday was there last day of chemo and I wanted to celebrate it with them. It was truly a party!! Everyone brought in food for lunch, sandwiches, turkey roll ups, chips, pretzels, soda, deserts. I brought some white butterfly sugar cookies (homemade) with breast cancer ribbons on them.

The boas were out, the glasses were on and the disco music was playing!!

Three of us had already finished and showed up just to show our support and love!!
And as the music was playing (I believe "YMCA" or "Brickhouse) I teared up, and thought... This is the face of Breast Cancer. Not the sick, the lonely, or sad... It is friendship, support, prayers, love and beautiful baldness!!!!

So to the people who have supported all of us fighters, Thank you.

And to those that are just starting the fight? We might be the good, the bad, and the bald, but we are always the beautiful!!!