Saturday, May 28, 2011

Big week

This has been a big week around here.
First I got to come home from the hospital - which is awesome.
Then I got my drains out on Wednesday which helped a great deal with pain/pulling/etc.
Thursday Eric's mom left to return home. And yes, all greatly miss her and I have no idea bow we would have even survived until now without her here to help! I was also able to (finally) take a shower which felt super amazing! Thursday I was also able to drop down to a less powerful pain medicine. Which is good because they all wanted me off the old medicine ASAP.
And Friday, we received the pathology report from the doctor.

It's more or less said what we expected. And yet somehow getting it in writing seemed, well, I don't know - strange, sad, relieving, good, weird, etc, etc.

Anyway, the big news from it is I am stage 3 cancer. We knew it was at least stage 2, and I had hoped it would stay stage 2, but alas, 3 it is. The tumor was just over 10 cm. My understanding (which is still pretty limited) is that this is pretty large. They pulled 7 lymph nodes out. We had guessed that at least one had cancer in it. However 5 tested positive for cancer. This is the part that shocked me the most.

This isn't much different than what we thought, other than more lymph nodes involved. Treatment will be mostly what we thought it would be - chemo and radiation. I was secretly hoping the lymph nodes would end up being clear and so radiation would be taken off the table, but i knew that was pretty wishful thinking.

Anyway, it's been a big week, but overall a good week. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Human Again ...

I love the movie Beauty and the Beast. Belle is my favorite character and the several times we've been to Disney, I get my picture taken with her. I think at first it was her love of reading that drew me in. Anyway, in the movie is a song Human Again (you can see it here if you aren't familiar with it )

Anyway, today that is how I feel. Like I'll be human again and back to my old self sooner rather than later. Which may seem strange, especially after yesterday's post. I know, I know. But yesterday afternoon they removed my drains (which by the way does NOT feel just like pulling a baindaid off thank you very much). And oh my goodness. What a difference that has made.

Granted it's not like someone waved a magic wand and now everything is back to normal. But things are so much better. So much so we are dropping down to a less powerful pain medicine tonight (please cross your fingers it works). My arm movement is still limited. I still am not allowed to lift more than 5 pounds - though honestly 5 pounds seems like too much to me at this point. I have a DVD of arm exercises to start working on now. And a visit with a physical therapist soon.

But today, even though it's technically gloomy and rainy outside, I can feel the sun behind the clouds. I know it's there, waiting to shine down. It doesn't seem so far away and hidden anymore. And what a wonderful feeling that is to me right now.

In other news, my baby sister graduates from high school today. I'm so amazingly proud of her. She is truly amazing, even though she doesn't always believe that. And it's killing me that I'm not able to go to her graduation, but I'm there in spirit and just wanted to brag to all of you about how awesome she is!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Hello everyone.

First, let me thank you so very much for all the meals, love, support, just all of it that we have received! I am just blown away and so grateful for all of it. Getting through all of this would be so much morer difficult without all of you.

I know I've been pretty quiet. I don't mean to be. But when they told me I'd have limited arm movement/strength after surgery I just didn't quite get it. I mean mentally I understood, I just grasp just what that means. Aft getting home Sunday we realized I couldn't even open my laptop. So Eric opened it up and we thought we'd leave it like that. Until we realized I couldn't sit down in the chair with the laptop desk in front of it and I couldn't move the laptop desk. Right now I'm using the iPad - but still when I'm tired or very sore after doing hard work (by hard work I mean trying to feed myself. Or lift a full glass of water) even the iPad is too heavy too lift.

I don't mean to complain. I also don't mean to scare anyone who may stumble upon this as they are preparing to under go mastectomy surgery. But it's where *I'm* at right now in this moment. I don't have a high tolerance for pain. I'm also learning I don't have a high tolerance for pain medicines. Which isn't necessarily the best combo at this time.

However, every day gets a little bit easier. Every day I can do a little bit more. And while some days a little bit just doesn't seem like enough or seem to take me as far as I want to go, it's forward progress. And really, what kore could I ask for right now? Okay, I admit, I just wish I could knit for a little bit. And I miss hugging the kids. I can't lie, that one is killing me inside. And evreyday my 5 year old tells me he hopes I feel better soon so he can give me a big hug. And it just makes me want to cry (which trust me, I've been doing plenty of) and saying screw the pain, and just come give me the biggest hug that you've ever given in your life. But instead we hold hands. I give him a kiss. He kisses my forehead. And it tides us over for now.

And soon we'll be hugging again. And really, it's a small price to pay to get rid of this flipping cancer. Because in the end we'll have so many more years to hug. And even though some days I have to remind myself of that more than others, I know we'll get through this. I'm not giving up. Cancer will NOT win. It picked the wrong person to mess with. It had no clue how powerful a fight that we all would put up. Because really, you are all fighting along side with me. Every comment, every prayer, every good thought, every (virtual) hug, every bit of kindness you all shower upon me. It helps. You are all here with me, fighting along side. And I'll never forget that. So thank you all so very much.

*I apologize for any typos/errors. I'm not used to typing on this thing. And also, I'm on some powerful pain killers, so I hope this makes even an ounce of sense.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Big milestone reached

Brandie is home.  She got in about 3pm and is already back resting.  She is mobile enough to get herself up from bed (with the help of half a dozen pillows behind her), that was a major concern.  We saw the comments, looks like we'll be ok without needing to rent a hospital bed.

She'll still have another adult here in the house with her all the time for at least the next couple of days.  So it won't just be her and our kids.  After that, for those of you who are local and wanted to stop by, come on over !

I'm not sure Brandie intended for her mom and I to hijack her blog as we did, but it worked well.  Now that I've shared the good news, I think this will be my last posting here.  Hopefully soon Brandie will have it back to it's regularly scheduled programming :)


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday's happenings

Hello everyone !

I'm keeping this simple today.  Things are looking good here.  Brandie had noticeable improvments in everything.  There is rumor she may be released to home tomorrow...

Now if only I was ready at home.  As stairs are out of the question for her, it looks like Brandie will be sleeping in the dining room for a bit.  Going to borrow the twin bed from one of our kids (they don't know this yet).  From there I plan to fashion a couple of privacy sheets around the room.  Now I just need to find a place for our dining room table?  I'm thinking it might not like being put in our back yard.  This could get interesting.

Good night all.  Thanks for the well wishes, seems to be working great.  It just took some time to gain traction.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday night update

Today was mother in law day.  Brandie says she was an excellent care taker.  I was home with the kids and have the overnight shift.

Today was another day of ups and downs.  Still fighting with some low blood pressure.  They thought the medicine could be causing the low blood pressure so she was pulled off the morphine and put on something similar to vicodin.  Brandie says the new pain meds do not relieve pain as well as the old.  Hard to disagree, I think morphine is the top of the food chain when it comes to pain relief :)

On the positive, Brandie's mobility is on the up.  She was up and walking the hallway for a bit today.  Movement is getting better.  We went through e-mails again today.  I also brought her all the cards and letters that have shown up during the past few days.  Thank you again everyone!

Speaking of things showing up.  A very large box arrived at our house today.  Thank you September 02' Mom's.  The box showed up right while I was finishing up lunch with the kids.  They went at that box like a pinata, I took pictures of it all.  I'm sure Brandie will share them at some later point.  The water guns were particularly popular.  (It was 78 and sunny here today!)

In other random thoughts, Brandie has discovered she likes gingerale (a lot). 

Having moments of feeling awesome, then moments of extreme tired send her back to bed and sleeping for hours.  She says this has all taken her by surprise.  She really thought recovery would just happen and that she'd be home sooner.  In this mindset she is comparing things to child birth, her only other previous reasons to be at a hospital.

Ok, that is all for tonight.

Getting Better Day by Day

Greetings all, Brandies momma here with the latest.

I spent the night with Brandie. She slept extremely well! Even the nurses were very considerate and didn't wake her if she was sleeping when they came in.

Brandie was a little light headed when she first got up this morning. She ate a good breakfast, a bowl of cheerios and fruit cocktail. After that she was pretty active. She actually pulled herself up without my help, is pretty much going to the ladies room on her own with very little help and she brushed her teeth on her own, and she stood the entire time!!! She was feeling so good about her accomplishments she asked me to get her pajama pants, and yes with a little help from me she got them on. She is more amazing than she'll ever know!

After all of that she had me bring her the I-Pad and she checked her e-mail, blog comments and twits (or are they tweets? heck I don't know it's all Greek to me!) She is still experiencing quite a bit of pain and can't raise her arms up so, I brushed her hair for her. Then it was time to rest again. She could not believe how wiped she felt after all her great accomplishments.

 Her Doctor stopped in last night and said everything looks good and he was very proud of her for getting up and walking to bathroom so, Some time today they are going to get her walking in the hall way.

Brandie truly appreciates all the prayers, good thoughts and love all of you are sending her way. They are a great help to her and keep her going forward. So, please keep them coming.

Thank you all very much for all the love your giving my baby girl. She is absolutely a great gift that God blessed me with!

Big hugs to all of you.
Love, Momma

Thursday, May 19, 2011

First 24 hours done, only up from here!

Hello Everyone!

We spent a bit of time talking online about some of our troubles today.  Those who follow facebook and twitter posts got a couple of updates that focused on pain and post surgery items.  While it's true that Brandie is dealing with a great deal of pain right now, she is making forward progress in many areas.

I wanted to write a few lines here talking about the good items.  She did get some great rest this morning.  For about 10 minutes after she woke from sleep she sounded and looked almost like a normal person (on bedrest).  I did manage to talk her into some food today.  Against numerous protests early on about her getting 'sick' we worked our way through some soup and applesauce.

Another great thing we did was read all of the messages you've sent in.  Nearly 100 posts, e-mails, tweets, etc were read to her.  Some nearly brought her to tears (the good kind of course).  I was reading names and alias's that I've never heard of, and Brandie would be saying ever so softly next to me... that's the person who sent me this, or they are the ones who I met at here, etc.  Yes many from family and friends, but plenty from people whom I've never met, but I cannot thank enough for all their support.  Your messages have helped carry her through these hard times and for that our entire family is grateful.  All of this before noon.

Shortly after noon we found out the hard way how much pain she would be in if she wasn't on the pain killers.  She had gone about 3 hours little to no injection from her IV.  It struck pretty fast, a sharp pain that was difficult to work through, that covered all across her chest area.  Making it painful to even take a breath.  It took about 45 minutes to get that under control.  That was the low part of our day.

We worked through it, although there again it was really Brandie who pulled through that mess.  She dosed up heavily on pain killers and from mid-pm until almost 7pm she pretty much slept.  She ate more food for dinner.  Although still far from what any of us would call a meal, I call it progress.  She even is standing up for a couple of minutes without feeling like she's about to pass out.  Although walking has been limited to about 3-4 steps before needing to lay down again.  Still, for 24 hours after major surgery, I also call this a win and will take the progress.

Her struggles right now are best described as finding balance.  She wants to get off the pain meds but her body is not there yet.  She wants to be up and about, here again, her body is not ready.  She wants to engage in simple activities, from watching tv, knitting, even talking, but her body is not ready.  We will get there!  Let us go to bed knowing that rest is good and tomorrow will be a better day for Brandie.  Thank you everyone.

After Surgery

Greetings all you blogger pals, Brandies mom here to update you!

Brandie says thank you for all your prayers, good thoughts, love and support.

Well surgery is done and Brandie is a real trooper! She is still quite groggy and very sore. She arrived to her room at about 7:20 this evening. It was killer pain when they moved her into her bed. I couldn't help myself, I cried right along with her!

The nurse gave her the little remote to push when she needs pain medication. The nurse said "you can push it every 6 minutes". Brandie pushed that button immediately! About 2 minutes later she says "has 6 minutes passed yet?" I feel so bad for her!!!  She can push that button every 2 seconds, however, the medicine will only dispence after the 6 minutes are up.

Brandie is resting better now. She comes in and out of sleep. She is talking really slow. She keeps telling me and the nurse she feels funny. I told her it's because she keeps pushing that button!! Her blood pressure has been getting a little low and then it gets better, so, they are keeping her on the oxygen overnite.

She can't use her arms to well because they are really sore from the surgery. Yep, you guessed it she is fretting over how in the world shewill be able brush her hair and brush her teeth. Blog Gamit! She worries way too much!!!

Brandie is sleeping really well right now. She is acually snoring! I am happy because she needs lots of rest.

Oh, and I must say her husband is absolutely wonderful. He is so attentive. Today before her surgery she had a headache and he stood there and rubbed her temples to help her feel better.

Well thats all for now. Will update later!
With love,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Operation Update

Other then starting a couple hours later then expected things went well today.  Surgery finished up around 5pm.  She did great, I will have more updates later, headed back to the hospital now.  (-DH)

Thank you!

Well today is the big day. In just a few hours we'll be heading over to the hospital in the first step to kicking cancer's @ss!! =)

Anyway, before I go, I just want to thank you all so very much. All the lovely comments, prayers, thoughts, stories shared, hugs - all of it. I am holding it all in my heart and I know it will help me get through everything I need to get through!!

I am hoping that someone (my husband or my mom) will be able to get on in the next 24 hours to leave some sort of update for everyone.

For now, xoxoxo to all of you. And thank you ever so much!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday!

So today is my birthday.
We mostly celebrated yesterday - and we had a great day! First we did some bowling. Then we took the kids to see Gnomio and Juliet.


My mom made (the most delicious ever) baked spaghetti for my birthday dinner. Her, my dad and two sisters came over. I got the BEST gift ever (okay, everyone just being here to love me was the best, but you know!)


Here's a bit of a close-up


We really did have such a great day!

(a picture taken by my 5 year old - so cute!)

And 32 - I'm ready to jump in, feet first. So beware! I'm here and ready to go! =)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

How we got here ...

So a lot of you have asked me how I was diagnosed. I will tell you it's not an incredibly exciting story. However, the story is amazing in that it (or at least feels to me) was a complete fluke that we found it.

So April 1 I had my yearly exam. I was going to a new doctor - my old doctor's office closed down. Granted, I haven't had a yearly in about 3 years. And I'm usually better about going, but the doctor's office closed, I had young kids, it was hard to get out, and I wasn't sure how to find a new doctor. But a good friend recommended one to me, so off I went.

Now, I should also mention (for those that are unaware) my mom had breast cancer when she was 30 (I was 10 so I have very vague memories of it). I have ALWAYS put that down on health history forms. Dr. S (the new doctor) was the first one to ask me about it though. {Now, I'm going to give my other doctor's the benefit of the doubt because mostly I saw them through pregnancy and also I'm assuming most of them probably thought my mom was older and it wasn't a concern for now.}  Anyway, Dr. S and I talked about it and when she found out my mom had been 30, she kind of wasn't sure quite how to advise me. Generally, you are supposed to get your first mammogram (if you haven't already had one) when you are one year younger than your mom was when she had cancer. But I'm already 31 so we missed that.

The doctor kind of hemmed and hawed - 30 isn't a common age for breast cancer. She had done my physical exam and had no concerns. She was however, worried about exposing me to the mammogram at my current age if we didn't have to. So she decided to send me to a specialist to get her opinion on when to start mammograms for me given the history.

So a little over a week later (April 11), I'm in Dr. A's office (a breast specialist) - remember to get a second opinion on when and how often to get mammograms from this point forward. We get into the room and she tells me there are calculators to calculate your risk, but they don't even go down to 31, one starts at 34. And even with my mom's history, at 34 my chance of breast cancer is on 0.02% so it's probably not a big concern.

And then we start the physical part of the exam. And she's asking me questions. And some more questions. And noticing things. That's about the time I thought, um, things are getting kind of serious here. Then she does a quick ultrasound on me. And at that point she says I need to go for a mammogram "now." {Literally the order said when to be performed and she wrote "now"}.

I had a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound that same week on Thursday (April 14). Diagnostic means I had it done at the hospital and a doctor read it right then and there and went over the results. So that day I was informed there was a little concern and a biopsy was in order, but not to worry because it usually turns out to be nothing and if it weren't for my mom's history, the hospital doctor wouldn't even recommend a biopsy for me. They would simply want me to follow up in 6 months to see if anything changed.

One week later - April 21 - I had a stereotactic biopsy performed. And it was the following Tuesday (April 26) the results were in that showed cancer.

I won't lie. It moved so fast. 26 days between the first doctor's appointment and cancer diagnosis. Just 26 days. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that. And I keep thinking I had no idea. My gynecologist had no idea. What if she hadn't sent me to the specialist? What if they would have said, oh let's not biopsy, let's wait 6 months and see? What if? What if? What if? I could drive myself crazy with the what if's so I'm trying to not go there.

Instead, I consider myself amazingly lucky that we caught when we did. That I have a diagnosis. That we didn't wait. That my gyn wanted a second opinion. Because really? I am lucky we found it when we did.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Softball ...

Well, we were supposed to have a busy softball week this week, but rain kept us from most of our games.
However, Miss M did have her first game of the season Tuesday! And it was so great!


My little girl has so very much grown up over the course of the last year! There is such a difference between last year and this year.


It's one of my favorite parts of being a mom - watching the kids grow and learn. I don't ever need my kids to be the best of the best - really we are playing sports to have fun and learn to be part of the team and to pass the time! But I can't lie - seeing practice pay off and hard work show - that's just awesome. {Both girls participated in softball classes over the winter!}


And my Little M (okay, so she's not really little, she's really tall, but she's little to me!} is having a GREAT season too. Daddy is her coach this year and so that is definitely a plus. And the team gets along so well and they all have fun together!


I know this is going to be a great season for her. As long as the rain stops interfering with the games that is! =)

Monday, May 09, 2011

The elephant in the room ...

Or maybe it's just the elephant in my mind, either way, I need to get this out.

Sometimes you might ask me a question and I seem hesitant to answer or like I just don't want to tell you. The thing is, it's not you - I promise. But, well, here - lean in a bit - it's just that this cancer is well, um, ::lowers voice to a whisper:: it's in my breast!

I know, I know. You're thinking something along the lines of "Duh. That's why it's called breast cancer you genius."

You may be also thinking something like we are not 10 year old children learning about puberty for the first time too. And yet, some days, I kind of feel that way. Because, lately, I've been talking a lot about my breasts - or as my 8 year old like to say (over and over by the way) my boobs. And sometimes it can feel a bit awkward for me.

I'm sure it's all in my head but I can't help but thinking there are a lot of people thinking about my boobs out there. Okay, you are all probably really thinking about me and how I'm doing. But in my head you are thinking about my boobs. And I can't help but wish I had gotten, oh, I don't know - thumb cancer. Or big toe cancer. Because it just feels less awkward that way.

But alas, here we are. I have breast cancer. And so my breasts we might talk about occasionally. But sometimes, when I turn into that 10 year old who is still giggling in embarrassment over learning the correct names of body parts I might hold back or seem hesitant or whatever. But don't worry - it's not you. It's me. I suppose at the heart of it, it's still me coming to terms with what is happening within my own body - and more specifically what is going on inside my breasts.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Update ...

All the test results came in, and so I e-mailed out an update last night. I'm sure I've (accidentally) missed some people so I decided to just copy the e-mail over here for anyone checking!

Dear Friends and Family,

First of all, let me begin by thanking each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart - the e-mails, tweets, cards, phone calls - have all just been so wonderful and mean so much to me. I wish I could call each one of you personally to thank you, but for now, I hope this will do.  So thank you very much.

This week we got all the test results in that we were waiting for. The big take away for me in all of this is that the tests showed I am so lucky that we found it when we did. Based on the second biopsy and MRI results, we are pretty confident that the cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes on the right side. This can't be absolutely confirmed until surgery, but it would be surprising at this point for the surgery to show other results. The biggest surprise from the MRI is that the left side, which we previously thought was clear, actually has precancer forming.

The good news is this is all very manageable. And we now have a treatment plan in place. Surgery will be taking place in the next few weeks. We are still waiting for a concrete date - we have to coordinate the OR, my surgeon, and the plastic surgeon. (Thankfully, the offices are talking to each other because I can't even imagine how I would try to organize all of that!!) During the surgery I will be getting a bilateral mastectomy. A few weeks afters surgery I will begin chemotherapy treatments. And then radiation to follow. During this time I will also begin taking both herceptin and tamoxifen. I will be on the herceptin for a year and tamoxifen for five years. Basically because of what they know about my cancer, I am able to utilize every treatment available for breast cancer. While that feels overwhelming, again it makes me very lucky and helps decrease chance of recurrence.

Anyway, for now the doctor's appointments are done and we won't know anything else until after surgery. As an aside, I don't want to bombard everyone with lots of e-mails so I am trying to regularly update my blog, which you can feel free to read at any time over at . I will point out trying to update are the key words there! =)

Thank you very much for the prayers and good thoughts. It really does mean so very much to me!

Me =)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


They say that waiting for test results is hard to do-ooo.
Now I know, I know that it's true-oo ....

So, I guess it's a good thing I know how to pass the time between that waiting. I've managed to do a bit of knitting. I know it doesn't look like much yet, but they will look prettier soon!


Speaking of knitting, look at the gorgeous yarn I received in the mail


I have some ideas of what it might eventually become but I'm not sure yet! It's so gorgeous and soft and lovely though. I can't wait to start knitting with it. A few weeks ago I also got some pretty sock yarn in the mail (all of this yarn has been gifts from lots of loving friends!). So I have to knit up some pretty socks to wear too! And well, knitting isn't such a bad way to pass the time.

Aside from that, the kids schedules are keeping me busy! There's school work to do, games to play, art to make, music and sports to drive too! {And yes, I know some of you have been wondering, but we do plan to continue homeschooling at this time. It's part of trying to keep the kids lives as consistent as possible and not completely turning their world upside down. Might it become challenging at some points? Sure. But that's the beauty of homeschooling - we can move at the pace we need to move at for us.}

And of course, the internet keeps me busy - so many wonderful e-mails for me to read each day and I'm trying to respond to them as I can! And well, I probably shouldn't admit this, but um, I've recently fallen in love with all the Real Housewives shows. I know, I know! But they are fun to watch and just tune out my reality for a while!

So we are waiting. But at least it's not pacing and praying for the phone to ring right. this. very. minute. And hopefully, the wait will soon be over! But in the meantime, I'll keep knitting, being mom, being wife, being daughter, and watching reality tv ;-)

Monday, May 02, 2011

In other news ....

Although I can accurately report that the topic of cancer has seemed to take over our home, only one thing has been talked about more: t-ball and softball!

Yep, it's ball season in our house and this year we are extra busy as both girls are playing softball and Mister Man is finally old enough to join t-ball. Now, this boy has grown up watching his sisters play. He was probably 4 months old when he attended his first practice/game. And he has been wanting to play himself for quite some time.

So, finally, last week, Mister Man had his first game!

If you can't tell he was beyond excited and couldn't wait to play!


Hitting is one of his favorite things to do, although he also likes to play at the pitchers spot!


I love watching the little kids play t-ball. All in the ready position. How they all like to run towards the ball almost regardless of where on the field it lands. It's so fun!


This picture, however, this is my favorite. Mister Man was playing first base. He clearly missed learning about how to play first base. While he was never ready to catch the ball, here he is telling the child on first base when it's time for him to run to second base! It was so cute and so funny!


We have a great team this year - all the parents are laid back and just really want the kids to have fun and learn the game. We aren't really keeping track of score. It's a great first year of team t-ball for him.

The girls right now are still practicing and preparing for those first games! Miss Em is extra happy this year because daddy is her coach. I can't wait for their first games - which I believe are next week! =)