Monday, July 31, 2017

LIFE......with a new fear 😐


A cancer diagnosis and looking ahead to a year of treatments was so scary. But let me tell you what was almost as scary.....that day, a little more than a year ago, when I took my last herceptin infusion!

The end of a successful cancer treatment journey is such a celebration!  I praised God it was over and I was cured!  But what I wasn't prepared for was the new fear, a very real fear of recurrence. I realized I was on my own now. No more herceptin.  My port was gone.  I was no longer receiving any of those wonderful drugs to kill and/or prevent cancer cells. It was like freewheeling...hydroplaning....losing control.  It was totally up to my body to put the brakes on if a healthy cell tried to mutate into cancer.  That's a scary thought!  And it was evident that this new fear could consume me.

Dr. Chumsri is the absolute best! 
Last year with a diagnosis of osteopenia caused by the chemotherapy I knew resistance training and physical activity was important to build back my bones.  So that's what I did!  Our bodies survive on what we eat and drink.  So consuming nutritional foods and beverages became very important.....most of the time!  Everybody needs a glass of wine and chicken wings occasionally! And that leads me to my emotional health.....and fears.  Happiness, love, fun and quality of life are worth more than we give credit to stay healthy.

Last month as my scans and appointments approached I found myself preparing for the worst.  Even though I felt so good.....that fear was big.  But after all of the testing I got the good news and was jumping up and down cheering!  I decided that going forward I had to let my faith in God and faith in myself be stronger than my fear.

I worry......of course.  Do I let it consume me...absolutely not.  I live my life the fullest and healthiest that I can.  I try to make good decisions and I enjoy myself.  I love.  I pray.  I give thanks.  When I have aches and pains I sometimes have to fight the fear because I know........cancer can have a mind of it's own.  But I refuse to live in fear!  I choose to be brave and live life without fear.  


It's been an awesome year full of love and life!

Autumn Grace
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:27 NIV

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Two Years and Counting 💗💗

You've heard the saying - Time flies when you're having fun!  It's so hard to believe that two years ago this week I'd just had my second infusion of 16 chemo treatments for breast cancer. I was just getting started!  Sometimes now it all seems surreal but watching my memories from that time pop up on Facebook has brought back a lot of memories and emotions.  It makes me realize what all I endured but also makes me realize how far I've come... how healthy and happy I am now!

It wasn't easy but it was definitely worth the fight to live. I've been so blessed!  Let me fill in the blanks....I finished my radiation treatments November 2015. The great thing about radiation is the day after the last treatment, my body immediately began healing. The tender skin quickly felt better and everyday I had more energy. We moved back home which was amazing!  I continued my once every 3 week herceptin infusions until May 2016 and in June they took my port out!

I know now every single day, every single fear, every single tear I shed was worth it!  July 2016 we saw the perfect face of our Autumn Grace....the most beautiful granddaughter in the world! September 2016 we witnessed the gorgeous wedding of our Ashley and gained an awesome new son...Stephen. April 2017 marks a dream come true for our John.....the proud new owner of a beautiful mountain home!

I've said it so many times and still believe it to this day - GOD DOESN'T MAKE MISTAKES!  You've got to believe, He knows what He's doing!  I'm going to say it again - God doesn't make mistakes!  The past two years have been full of some of the lowest lows I've ever had but also some of the greatest blessings anybody could ask for.

I don't question God. I don't ask why. I don't ask what's next. I just thank Him everyday for my life.

"and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,"
Luke 1:47 NIV 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Finish Line is in Sight!


Two down......28 to go! I started radiation yesterday. Last week I was scanned and marked and evaluated so my "design" could be completed. Yesterday all I had to do was show up. I was shown where to change and leave my belongings, then I was led to the radiation room. There was this moment the technicians and I just stood there looking at each other. Elton John was playing on their radio. It was so cold in there. Time felt frozen. Eventually the technician said..."Are you ready? You're going to have to lay down."  I had such a mix of emotions. I was thrilled to make it this far in this journey but scared of the unknown. I knew I had to do this so I stretched out on the table in my previously made body mold (intended to keep you in the same position every time so the radiation doesn't zap anything it's not supposed to!)   The two technicians immediately began adjusting me and the machine lurking over me when I felt it start. I felt overwhelmed. I tried so hard to stop it but I could feel the tears welling up. Oh mercy stop....think of the beach or a glass of wine or anything else...but then I felt them running down my cheeks. The technicians were so sweet and understanding.  They asked did I need some time. One even got a tissue and dabbed my face (remember I'm stretched out on this hard table with both arms over my head). But I said let's do this. I promise I'll get myself together and be ok!  Well about 5 minutes later we were done!  Not embarrassing at all!  

Today I walked in with a smile!  I changed into that beautiful gown they provide, went to the radiation room, put my key on the counter and got on the table!  I was ready!

Five days a week for six weeks!  I can do this!
 Survivor Carnations

I had another "first" this weekend. I attended my first Breast Cancer fundraising and awareness event. We went to the Dragon Boat Festival in downtown Jacksonville, FL. Wow! There were three boats that raced with nothing but breast cancer survivors! The strength and passion in this event was moving. I just stood back and watched. To see such a large gathering of breast cancer survivors together and all receive pink carnations was emotional. But as they all moved towards the beautiful St. Johns River, some with teary eyes and some kissing their flower, they began one by one tossing them in the water. It was as if they were all tossing the bad memories away and moving on with their lives.  It's hard to explain the way it made me feel. I realized even though I'm not finished with treatments....I'm a survivor too!  All the proceeds went to a local organization called In the Pink - A Boutique for Women Living With Cancer.

22 Women Per Boat x 3 boats = 66 Breast Cancer Survivors!

Support Team Witherspoon
Saturday October 10, 2015 is the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k in Orange Park, FL. I want to see a world without breast cancer!  It should never be allowed to steal a year from another person's life like it has mine. Nobody should ever have to live with the fear of recurrence or watch someone they love suffer.  I can't do this alone but Team Witherspoon can make a difference. I need everyone to join the efforts of our team. If coming out to walk isn't an option, you can sponsor our team with a donation. Every little bit helps. Any amount can make a difference. 

Click here to join Team Witherspoon and/or make a donation to support our team.



Me and Max
As always, thank you all for your love and prayers.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Colossians 3:12 NIV


Saturday, September 12, 2015

WHAT ARE THE ODDS ?!?!

Imagine being on a journey. The train stops. You get off. Feeling pretty good and ready to face the world. The train full of people pulls out of the station. Then it happens. You hear the collision. The train crashes.  You can't see it but you close your eyes and in your head you see it all. 

Dr. Bagaria, my breast surgeon, called almost a week after my surgery. The pathology report was back and he was happy to report that the initial findings were correct. The chemo had killed all the cancer in my breast and lymph nodes. I was ready to cruise through radiation now because life is good!  He then told me that Dr. Robertson, my gynecologic oncology surgeon, would call with the fallopian tubes/ovaries report.  That threw up a flag. Why couldn't he just tell me everything was fine?  The next day I got the call. At first all I heard was "let me explain what we found".....then several long words followed by the word "carcinoma".  After that, everything he said sounded like the school teacher from the Peanuts cartoon.......wah wah wawah wah.  Then it all started in my head. The wreck. The pain and suffering of watching my Mom's two year fight with ovarian cancer. The fight against almost inevitable statistics. The long days and nights in the hospital. The prayers. Falling to my knees begging God to save her. But the wreck in my head only got worse. I saw the broken heart of my Dad.  Watching the love of his life for almost 50 years try so hard.  His heart attack.  His emergency open heart bypass surgery.  My Dad in ICU. My Mom in critical care.  A horrible crash.  

But then I heard Dr. Robertson say something I've never had a doctor tell me. "God is looking out for you!"  I quickly opened my eyes. 

What are the odds?  A normal mammogram but enlarged nodes.  That leads to treatable/curable breast cancer but during diagnostic testing they find my mucinous appendix.  And that leads to a breast surgeon with an interest in diseases of the appendix.  The discussion of removing my appendix during breast surgery leads to......"we're going to be in the abdomen so let's remove the ovaries." 

What are the odds?  What are the odds that removing my fallopian tubes and ovaries would lead to the discovery of serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma (STIC)? And what does this mean?

What we are learning is that most ovarian cancer starts in the distal end of the fallopian tube as STIC lesions.  This is the precursor of high grade serous ovarian carcinoma. Within 3-5 years this usually develops into full blown ovarian cancer. These lesions are very rarely found this early except in BRCA positive patients undergoing preventative surgery.  Ovarian cancer has very few symptoms until it has spread - when it's usually too late.  This explains the poor prognosis for most ovarian cancer patients.  These cells were microscopic and all contained within my right fallopian tube.  But the most important part is mine are gone. Totally removed. What are the odds? Is it crazy to say my breast cancer saved my life?  This all brings a new meaning to the saying....things happen for a reason. Never question. Never doubt. God is in control. 

I've experienced a whirlwind of emotions.  Some I can't even explain.  I know I've been blessed.  I'm counting my lucky stars.  But what about those still on the train? The feelings of responsibility to help them are overwhelming.  I've prayed many prayers of thanks to God. But I'm also praying for God to give me guidance. To point me in the right direction to help them. And I'm confident he will. 

"From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
Psalm 61:2 KJV




American Cancer Society





Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Surgery....✔️

The anticipation of surgery day, September 3, 2015 was almost torturous!  I'd never had surgery so I had no idea what to expect. But I was ready to take it on. I was ready to do whatever I needed to continue this journey to become cancer free.  I had several weeks after my last chemo to go home and spend time with family and friends, help out with the ALWS, and spend a little time resting at my Dad's before returning to Jacksonville for the next BIG step.



I had a lot of confidence in both surgeons but was still an absolute wreck.....until "Happy Hour" in the prep room!  
Oh mercy!  If I could remember any of it I think I should be embarrassed!  I've been told I was talking to everybody, telling jokes and making new Facebook friends! I even offered to make Pink Lemonade Martinis for everyone!


was having so much fun I almost forgot I was there for surgery! Anyways, they used laparoscopic surgery to  remove both ovaries, Fallopian tubes and my appendix. They also removed the tumor area from my breast with the help of the radioactive seed that had been placed. Now for the lymph nodes. As most of you know, I was very worried about that. So they used a dye to identify my sentinel lymph nodes and removed 4 of them. The pathologist checked them immediately and they were astonished to find no cancer. There was only scar tissue where the cancer had been! They will look at them closer to make sure the margins are clear but I'm sure it's gone!



Recovery is going well and I'm ready for the next step. Radiation Therapy. In the words of my friend Carol...cancer hi-jacked my life for a year and I'm ready to get it back!




“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV



Friday, August 14, 2015

GOOD NEWS!

want to share my good news!  I finished up all my chemo last week and had an MRI this week.  My MRI is showing no evidence of cancer....neither in my breast or my lymph nodes.  My doctors (and me!) are so pleased with the way I've responded to the treatments.  I met with the surgeon this week also and I'm thrilled with him.  He not only specializes in breast surgery but he also has been doing research and specialty work in diseases of the appendix.  I was placed with him before we knew I needed my appendix removed but I'm just convinced it's a God thing!  My surgery is scheduled for September 3.  I will have an infusion of herceptin a week before then.  And several days before surgery they will also plant a small radioactive seed in the center of where the tumor was to guide the surgeon where to remove tissue.  He will still remove 2 levels of lymph nodes under my arm but leave the third level.  Will be approximately 10-20 nodes.  I'm praying I don't have problems with lymphedema.   

Every Wednesday for the past 5 months I've had chemo.  So I celebrated this Wednesday with a 3 mile walk with Kay, my 80 year old neighbor and a 17 year breast cancer survivor!  She has been a blessing to me!  We walk a lot of mornings but this walk was special.

I feel like prayers are being answered every day and I'm getting so much closer to my cure and coming home!

Thank you all for the love and prayers!

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
Luke 1:37 KJV


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wear It Proudly

I will never forget the day in February 2015.  The day my doctor looked me straight in the eyes and said "it's breast cancer".  It didn't seem real but it was. She then handed me a folder of literature and a big Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Book.  I remember walking out into the waiting room....I was trying to hide the book. I was embarrassed.  I didn't want anybody to know I had breast cancer. Even to this day I'm not sure why. Maybe I thought I had done something wrong or I thought I was weak. Maybe I was just scared.

I realized just how far I've come the other day when I saw this little gem and knew I had to have it.

I realized I have a responsibility to help stop this disease and that awareness is important.  So I now wear it proudly.  I'm beating breast cancer and doing what I can to help find a cure.  I want people to know it.

Not only is awareness important but also funds for research.  I've set a goal to participate in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k in October.  More information to come about how you can help!

"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.” (Proverbs 3:21-22  NIV)

Home Sweet Home

A doctor's appointment...a couple hours of chemo...then a 6 hour drive home!  After 4 months of being away in a totally different world I can't tell you how good it felt to walk into my own cozy home! Our wonderful neighbors have kept everything outside looking great. And they greeted us with a delicious homemade BBQ dinner.  And then the kids started rolling in with their smiles and laughs and positive attitudes. Mercy I feel blessed! 

I spent Saturday hanging out with DeeDee followed by dinner with my Soul Sisters. I almost felt normal. Haha!  I was having so much fun I almost forgot I'm battling breast cancer! We met Charlie and Chelsea at our favorite Olive Garden Sunday for lunch. They had spent almost a week with us in Jacksonville last month and even hung out with me during a chemo treatment. But it was wonderful having my whole family together around the dinner table. Yes....I am blessed!

Then a quick Monday morning visit to the office followed by an awesome afternoon of lunch and catching up with my long time friend Karen.  

Heading back to Jacksonville wasn't easy.  Learning to deal with very little eyelashes and eyebrows has been tough.  Learning to manage the fatigue and still feel like I'm accomplishing something has been tough. Knowing  I still face 2 more chemo treatments, surgery and radiation is tough.  But I'm doing it!  This weekend was exhausting but wonderful!  And God has surrounded me with an awesome strong army helping me fight this battle. I'm not fighting alone!  And the best part is we're WINNING!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Life goes on....even with cancer.

What do you do when it feels like the world keeps turning and life goes on for everyone else but you? Sometimes it feels like my world has stopped.  How do I find a new purpose?  I was determined to stay positive and happy. I was determined to not let breast cancer define who I am.  But I've been thrown into a new world of life with cancer. And I'm slowly learning that doesn't mean I have to leave the old life behind....but instead I'm forced to add a new dimension. My love for music and books and HGTV are still there but I'm also learning about chemotherapy and cures.  Seems surreal at times but it is what it is.  And much thanks to John for my new Mumford & Sons albums!

I've successfully completed the first four cycles of Taxol, Herceptin and Perjeta. Only eight more to go!  Once a week I go get comfy, take the Benadryl and BOOM...wake up a few hours later and I'm done!  One step closer.

We started discussing surgery in more detail this week because after chemo that's coming up next. So what do I do.....another decision. Since I've responded extremely well thus far to the treatments and its reduced the cancer cells drastically, there is a possible option of a clinical trial that would mean not removing all the lymph nodes.  And not removing lymph nodes reduces the risk of  Lymphedema. Oh the things I'm learning!  It's a randomized trial which means I don't choose my option, a computer does. But I would know if they're removing them or using the new radiation option prior to surgery. Is it a gamble?  After more information and much prayer I hope I'll feel good about a decision.  But in the meantime, I'm open to opinions!
Maybe my world as I knew it stopped and I'm just rotating on a different axis for awhile. I'm sure God has a purpose with all of this and maybe my mission is to figure out what it is or maybe my mission is to learn to live with it and not question.  Some days I'm afraid and I start sinking but I'm thankful for the hand of God and my faith. 

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:30-31 NIV)


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Face of God

What a month! A lot has happened but I'll try to catch up! Started out with my normal post AC chemo blood cell slump, leaving me tired and fatigued. Because that completed the AC treatments and  I was preparing to start the THP next they scheduled tests. The Pulmonary Function Test was...well lots of breathing. It wasn't bad until she pulled a set of steps out, started a ticker and said....one tick is up the next tick is down...3 minutes non stop. Believe me, after a minute I was looking for the face of God to rescue me. The chest X-ray was uneventful other than I obviously wasn't leaning in far enough so he told me to put my hands on my hips then lean in. If you know me you know that hands on the hips is a normal stance for me. Haha! The best part is that my new watch showed up in the X-ray!  I thought that was pretty funny.

The week continued with an echocardiogram which showed a healthy heart and then an MRI to determine how well the chemo has worked. It showed the lump was GONE and the lymph node greatly reduced.  THANK GOD!  That was extremely good news but I continued to feel bad.  I went in for fluids the Friday before Mother's Day which made me feel a little better along with a BIG surprise visit from John and Ashley that weekend. It was such a blessing having them here!  Nothing better than pancakes and sausage for breakfast on Mother's Day!

Even though I still didn't feel well, that Wednesday I spent 5 hours in the chemo lab receiving the new THP chemo which was supposed to be easier on my body.  But I felt horrible!  I started dropping weight and wasn't able to eat or drink.  Then I had a few days unable to get off the sofa, then the chills and  fever started. They sent me to the Mayo Clinic Hospital Emergency Department where they immediately admitted me and started massive antibiotics.  I spent 5 days in the hospital while they "looked" for the infection.  It was tortuous!  I begged every one to make me feel better. I begged God to make the fevers and chills stop. I begged the nurses to stop poking  needles in me. I was so ready to give up I was begging everyone I know for prayers. I couldn't breath. I couldn't stop coughing. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I couldn't walk. I couldn't tolerate it any longer when they finally came and said they found a bacterial infection in my lung. They said they were testing antibiotics to determine which one would kill it. Once they gave me the one that worked it was amazing how quickly I started feeling better! So after chest X-rays, lung scans, ultrasounds on my legs and heart, barium swallow test, being put on oxygen and receiving a unit of blood I finally started feeling human again.  I did feel blessed during the week when Ashley showed up, we were totally exhausted and she helped with questions for the doctors and homemade meals she brought to the hospital.

And then the night I came home from the hospital my BFF and Soul Sister DeeDee came and spent the weekend catching up with girl talk and helping me enjoy my new found appetite!  It was wonderful!  It was just what I needed. I've since had another two THP treatments with no problems. I've felt great and slowly gaining some strength.

This journey is long. And it's not easy. It's scary.... I look for the face of God everywhere. I see Him in the nurses and doctors, my family and friends, the other patients I see suffering and their families, my new neighbors and the stranger that holds the door and smiles.  It keeps me going. I know without doubt that God is surrounding me and them. I give thanks for every one because I feel all the prayers for me. I feel certain that one day I'll see this journey as a blessing rather than the struggle I feel now And I'm certain God is protecting me.  I thank everybody for the love and support and mostly the prayers. 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)


Friday, May 1, 2015

Farewell to the Red Devil !

Last week we got to take a little mini vacation to Alabama to visit with my Dad. It was heavenly! He cooked delicious homemade meals determined to fatten me back up!  And the next best part...sitting by the water on the pier!  We moved around some when I was young but having a cabin on the river made Fish River more like home....a constant place...spending weekends, vacations and holidays there. I spent countless hours during the days roaming up and down the river with my brothers swimming and fishing and playing a little croaker badminton (just use your imagination!).  And evenings enjoying family dinners of the "catch of the day" and playing Chinese checkers. Then falling asleep to the sounds of the crickets and frogs. So you can imagine after the extreme emotions of the past couple months the feelings I had when I sat down and felt the warm breeze on my face and smelled the familiar river air.  Tears just flowed. Happy tears. Refreshing. It was just what I needed to gather strength for my last encounter with the "Red Devil"!

But I did it....now I am done with the "Red Devil"!  Four cycles completed with minimal side effects and problems. I did develop a fever and cough which they treated with a wicked strong antibiotic. I am so grateful for my amazing doctors and nurses at Mayo Clinic. Next week involves testing to check my response and health (MRI, echo cardiogram, pulmonary testing) then on to the next phase. Twelve weekly cycles of low dose chemo with two targeted therapies. I'm ready for the cure!  I'm learning as with any goal to focus on the end but a day at a time. Enjoying the happy moments along the way and thanking God for them.

Much love and thanks to everyone for all the prayers and love I'm receiving every day.  I feel and appreciate it more than you can ever imagine.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalms 23:1-6 KJV)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

God loves us even when we're broken...

So on a good day and with John here visiting we decided to take a walk on the beach.  It was not too long before dark so it was cool and quiet on the beach.  It was so peaceful walking along enjoying God's beauty when this nice looking lady walked up to John and asked "Are y'all looking for shells?' It was obvious since I was down shifting through the sand but I'm sure I looked a little scary with my rubber gloves, ziploc bag, hand sanitizer and my wig flying around in the wind (note to self and others - don't EVER wear a wig on the beach!)  John replied "We are!"  She proceeded to bend down with her little canvas beach bag, pull out two empty wine bottles and then dump the prettiest shells out on the sand along with everything else in her bag and said "Get the ones you want, I live here so I can find more."  She then picked up a broken shell and handed it to me saying "Be sure to take this one.  It's broken but it's still beautiful and it reminds us that God still loves us even when we're broken."

This woman was totally tipsy but she was so sweet and so right! She proceeded to put her two empty bottles in her bag, along with a comment about how somebody had really made her mad, and wished us a nice evening.  She was so pleasant and such a blessing.  I had already started a vase of shells so I brought them back (I've turned into such a germaphobic and I sprayed them with Lysol) then added them to my collection.....even the broken ones.

Now the good news - our pride and joy...our gifts from God...our hope for the future...our children. The unconditional love we have for our children is like no other. Even when we don't like them we never stop loving them. This whole genetics thing hit me like a ton a bricks the night before we met with the Genetics Specialist to get the results. We hope to give our children only good things in life and to pass on only our "good" genes!  And I'm happy to say the BRCA1 & BRCA 2 tests came back negative.  That made everybody happy!

And in my appointment with my oncologist this week she informed me that I have responded positively to the chemo so far.  The lump has shrunk significantly (from approx. 1.5 cm to 0.5 cm) and the lymph node is significantly smaller. That was the encouragement I needed to go straight into Chemo Treatment #3.  Only one more of these to go.  All I can say is thank God for nausea medicines!  Next I start 12 weekly treatments of THP which is supposedly not as toxic or hard to handle.  All for the cure. 

I've been overwhelmed with loving prayers and support. Not only from my family and friends but from all the new people along this journey. I pray for the broken lady wandering on the beach but willing to share.  And as I've been reminded more than once...

"I  Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" 
Philippians 4:13



Friday, April 3, 2015

Onward, Christian Soldiers

Onward, Christian Soldiers.....This was my favorite hymn growing up in a small Episcopal church.  I remember as a kid singing it at the top of my lungs marching like a brave soldier around the tables in Sunday school. I'm pretty sure during my second chemo treatment this week that I saw little Christian soldiers, not the Red Devil, with red banners marching in to war.  Or possibly it was those steroids they pre-treat me with first to prepare for the hard stuff. For some reason it sends me into hysterical laughing....the kind that starts out as a snort but ends in a silent, trying to breathe laugh. Just ask my daughter Ashley, who watched in shock. Her reaction made me laugh harder. It's somewhat embarrassing....but much better than crying.  A Silver Lining.  The rest of the day wasn't very good and involved taking all three of my nausea medications. The last one knocked me out and I slept the rest of the night. Another Silver Lining.

I woke the next morning feeling pretty good and was greeted with a surprise...handfuls of hair!  But I was shortly greeted with a more pleasant surprise. My good friend and Soul Sister Melissa was coming through town and with a pair of kitchen shears gave me a beautiful new short hair cut!  My second big cut in a month. My sweet neighbor Jackie had already cut it short once which prepared me.  One more Silver Lining. I still have hair...well a little bit!

There are so many Silver Linings in every aspect of life if you look for them. Let me explain. My life long friend Tammy, who I've known since three years old and love dearly was diagnosed last year with breast cancer. And she received a beautifully written and illustrated book from a survivor friend of hers.  Tammy has successfully completed her treatments now and has passed this book on to me. I couldn't put it down. Written by a breast cancer survivor, who happens to be a hospice nurse/social worker, who experienced every horrible side effect possible of this journey but chose to find The Silver Lining in everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING!  Such a blessing full of ideas and tips and encouragement. And the author's close friend photographer has filled the book with beautiful photographs. Definitely a Silver Lining for me!
A Supportive & Insightful  Guide to Breast Cancer

And help me celebrate with my good friend Carol who after today has one more week of radiation! She too has given me an unbelievable amount of support and encouragement. Let's pray for her as she prepares to start her life again....cancer free!  Such a Silver Lining!  

Much love to all my family, beautiful Soul Sisters and friends and all of those sending prayers, encouragement and love our way. I feel it in my heart and thank God for you all every day. You are my Silver Linings! 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I still have hair...

Day 14 of chemo and I still have hair!  That has become our joke. It's really interesting the different perceptions of the whole cancer and chemo experience. But the outpouring of love and support have overwhelmed me and I appreciate it more than you can imagine. And I've never felt God's love and protection more than I do now. That love and prayer is carrying me. And that's what gives me the strength and ability to laugh through this rather than sitting around crying all day.


I'm not very far down the trail in this journey but looking back I've come a long way. I've experienced more in this short time than even I can believe. Laying on that ultrasound table February 12, 2015 with the Radiologist and the ultrasound technician looking down at me with the saddest of faces, as if they were peering into my casket, evoked an intense fear like I've never felt before and can't even begin to explain.  But fast forward to today March 31 - and btw I still have hair today - I've had more tests and procedures than I can count - multiple blood tests, every type of mammogram possible, multiple ultrasounds, biopsies, MRI, CT/PET scans with and without contrast - and yes I got in that big tube without freaking out and yes I had an allergic reaction to the contrast!  I've had a Power Port implanted, with very few tears thanks to the morphine. And with the help of lidocaine it's been accessed more than once without tears.  Which moves us forward to ALL the drugs I've taken. I've probably had more drugs in the past month and a half than I've taken cumulative in my entire life - all important in their own way but the biggest and baddest being The Red Devil chemo.  But I've embraced chemo and I thank God for it because it's part of my cure.

Not to mention the decisions are overwhelming!  A few important ones being who and where for treatment - I chose Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic for my treatment team; whether to complete genetic testing ((BRCA1 & BRCA2) - which after an hour and a half with a genetics specialist I chose to do; and lastly - what kind of wig to get!  For those of you who have never shopped for a wig....well that could be a blog post of its own.  But I chose a pretty wavy short blonde wig so even though I still have my hair today, tomorrow is a new day. 

Tomorrow I have another date with The Red Devil and I pray my body accepts and responds as well as our first encounter.  And again I thank everyone for your gracious love and prayers.  I love you all and pray for y'all every day.  As my son said "You have so many people behind you with this, more than you may even know."

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV)


Saturday, March 28, 2015

IDC HER2neu+


One in eight...look at your circle of friends. Who will it be?  Breast cancer doesn't have a schedule. Breast cancer doesn't care what your plans are. One day it's just there. And your life changes in an instant. You will never be the same again. 

It's time to find the cure.



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