Sunday, September 30, 2007


What a fun weekend. The Vikes lost, Notre Dame lost--but the Cubs win! We had a fabulous time at the game--the ballpark was amazing. Our seats were on the third baseline and were great. Jim got the tickets from a friend of ours in Ohio who is hunting buddies with the Reds' bullpen coach so we sat among friends/family of Reds' players--BUT, and this was the most incredible thing about the game, 80 percent of the stadium was filled with CUB fans, not Reds fans. I think these two women behind us were going out of their minds because it really ticked them off when the stadium was overtaken by screaming, crazed Cubs fans. I think Dan and Tyler, the kids' buddies, were amazed as this was their first Cubs game. We also had a nice dinner out with our friends, who have two daughters around our kids' ages--so the weekend was good. I am sleepy from a long car ride but otherwise doing ok.

Now, though, poor Andrew has a stomach thing going on. He was very ill this morning when we left the hotel but his stomach has quieted down now. He is missing football film study and is sleeping instead. He doesn't look very good but maybe it was just ballpark food that set him off. I just want him better for school--his schedule is too tough to even miss one day.

Kelly, I am so sorry to hear about your neighbor! I think he is in great hands with Dr. Messinger however. My sister and all of her nurse friends says he is the best in the area.

Also, in case you haven't heard my friend and colleague Jamie had a beautiful baby girl this weekend--Ava Christine. Ava had to be transferred to U of M for some heart complications and will require surgery soon. It sure puts my illness into perspective. Please say a prayer for both Ava and her mom and dad to get them through this ordeal. As Heather, Jamie's sister, and I discussed, life doesn't discriminate who gets the curveballs, but without family, friends and faith, life would be even more difficult. Ava is gorgeous and has lots of dark hair. U of M will take good care of her I am sure but prayers are always beneficial!

Still half time next week. I can't decide if I should be back full time. Although it has only been three weeks I think full time would be ok, although I do tire easily. Doesn't matter anyway--I could only talk my doctor into 1/2 days regardless. Another fill up Tuesday--I sort of want them to just fill the whole thing up to get it over with...but know it is impossible.

Staying strong and appreciating what I have--


Friday, September 28, 2007

A sunny day

Doing great today. Glad the weekend is here and we are going away. Yippee. However, we first need to beat the Huskies tonight at Portage Northern. I so want to win, just for Danny's sake. He hates losing more than anyone.

My filler boob is not big enough I have decided. Today I had to put extra tissue in there to make it not so noticeable. But perhaps as I "fill up" it will look better. I also heard from yet another teacher today whose cancer has moved to her lungs. She visited a Cancer Center in Illinois and is extremely upbeat and happy with her treatment there. But gosh darn it, HOW MANY OF US have to suffer through this? Again, though, her tumors are treatable. I may talk more extensively about her time at the Cancer Center to see if there is a chance I should go to get a second opinion. At least it is closer than MD Anderson in Texas, or Sloan Kettering in NYC.

Ear is better, but still aching. I am a nutcase, certifiably.

All I can say is GO VIKES---GO CUBS--and at least score Notre Dame.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Go Cubs Go!

Uuuuuuggghhg. My ear is killing me. I have decided to go to Dr. Tackett next week if it doesn't get better. I am so at a loss as to whom to go to--so I have decided Tackett can at least look in my ears and throat and then HE can decide if I need to see Ansari or maybe my ENT. I don't really have any other symptoms of a cold or anything--maybe a runny nose and mildly scratchy throat but... I just want it to be some virus or something, but knowing my signs are similar to salivary gland cancer I get so worried. I also JUST got off an antibiotic, so...And it isn't getting better and gosh darn it, it HURTS.

Other than that, my "being" is fine. School is such a great diversion--and I am glad I picked half days as sleeping in is making things easier. I am loving the smells of fall, and even the earlier sunset gets my family home earlier and I love being with them.

This Saturday we are going to Cincinnatti to watch the Cubs play the Reds. The kids are each taking a friend and we are staying in a hotel, meeting some friends of ours from Southern Ohio--so it will be a nice to not think about anything--except my stupid ear, probably. Do you know I have never had an true earache in my life?

Life is so uncertain. I appreciate being alive each and every day--but goodness, I would like a week without worry! I think I need some more happy drugs. : ) Not really. (well, maybe)

Time to go sit with my Jimmy and watch the Cubbies. He is a nervous wreck about the silly Cubs...

Love to you all--


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

If you have any problems, go to Suite 200.

I'm a different kind of tired after two days at work. It is a great tired and I can't wait to sleep good tonight. I am still having some insomnia issues in the middle of the night but I predict this will get better the more I work.

The first two days back at work were BUSY! Within 5 minutes of being back I suspended a kid for cussing at a teacher regarding his cell phone. Then, another student was having an AWFUL day and was aggravated with the other principals. Always the voice of sanity, I tried to calm her down with soft words, a nice smile, etc. She promptly told me to SHUT UP and walked herself right out the front door.

Welcome back!

I am so busy with just minor things that the days are flying...and here it is Tuesday afternoon already. This morning I had my first trip to Dr. Messinger--formerly known as Woody. I think I owe him a bit more respect so I will call him Dr. M now. He really is nice and has done a great job. The expander process took a total of about 10 minutes. I get there and put on the famous blue tissue vest and wait for the nurse and Dr. M. Nurse comes in and uses a little Geiger counter of sorts and scans my incision near Mr. Ski Slope. There is a little pendulum on it and it starts to swing right above the area of the slope that has the port in it. So she marks it with an X and gets out the needles, saline, and syringe. The needle in the syringe is HUGE so I have to remark--luckily, the thing ain't going in me, it's just used to get the saline into the syringe. Dr. M comes in and double checks the mark for the port and concurs that X marks the spot. Before I know it, he inserts this needle (that is still pretty darn big) and nurse hooks up the syringe and "fills me up."

I could sort of feel it and it just felt like fluid going in, not painful, just wierd. She put in 50 cc and may do 60 cc next week but wants to make sure I can tolerate that much stretching. She also said tomorrow might be a little worse but so far it has just felt strange and achy, but not really painful. Last night I made Jim feel Mr. Ski Slope because it really felt HARD and like it was stretching my skin so tight...he was aghast at how it felt and felt really sorry for was like this hard piece of something was fighting to get out of my skin. Now today, it is much more cushiony to touch from the saline...but it still feels tight from the inside. All in all, it was pretty painless but I can definitely tell there is something sloshing around in there.

One thing of interest was our trip to the ladie's restroom at the doctor's office before we headed home. My dear friend Betty, who has to be the kindest most sincere person I know, escorted me to this appointment--lucky her! Anyway, in the ladie's restroom there was an engraved sign on the back of the door to the restroom that read:

If you have any problems, go to the second floor, Suite 200.

That was it! So what the heck do you think that meant? Betty had pondered it earlier and for the life of us, we can't figure out what it meant. I thought I might visit to see what I could do about my frizzy hair...I think next time I will take Ginger and knowing her, she will go up to Suite 200 and solve the world's problems. We just thought that was a funny sign.

So. I heard from another ACC/breast person today--her name is Valerie and she lives in California. She is taking her time deciding what/when to do her mastectomy. She is also going to UC Davis for a second opinion. It is great to talk to her too as we compare what our doctors have told us. She and I were both diagnosed at the same time so I firmly believe there are more people out there and that this cancer is probably more prevalent than the literature professes. She is, like Kristina, so much calmer about the whole thing though than I am. I need to learn from them and not worry so much. I will continue to try to do this, I promise. But my ear still hurts but at least that pesky rash is long gone! (remember how freaked I was about that?)

Shout outs to Mike Isabell! It was great to hear from you! You know if you were still in Niles you would be hearing ALL about it anyway--and you would tell me NOT TO WORRY ABOUT THINGS I CAN'T CONTROL! Miss you Mike!

Ok. Going to go take a short kitty nap. Not too long or I will be up all night but 20 minutes will do a body good. Jim and I are walking Shade at night so that is good.

I am doing better today than I have in about a week. Thank goodness for good friends, a good job, and just nice people in my life. We all should take time to thank the heavens for that!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Two kids for sale.

I must admit that Saturday was a day of depression. I couldn't shake it and had nothing positive to say so I stayed away from the blog. I am sure you are all sick of hearing about my aches and pains--just as much as I am about worrying about them. I spent a lot of time thinking about getting a second opinion, and although I know the treatment Dr. Ansari has recommended is 100 percent correct, I DON'T feel comfortable that he knows enough about my specific tumor and what the make up of the tumor predicts in terms of aggressiveness, etc. I don't know where to find anyone who would know so that is troubling me a bit.

Today I feel a lot better and I am not sure why but I won't question it. Slept in, did laundry, colored in my coloring book from Sue Phillips, and listened to my kids fight. Jim went golfing for the first time in about 10 years, and I am thankful he did. He is the absolute BEST husband through all of this. He knows when I am being truly tired or when I am just being down in the dumps...he rubs my feet without me asking...he just is the best thing since sliced bread.

One thing I know for sure is I hate bras now. Even cottony sports bras are irritating. I had to take a Darvocet last night because of muscle aches in my shoulders. I slept good and hard and muscles are a bit better today but I am about ready to whip this bra off...I only wore one today because we went out to breakfast with Danny, Aida and the kids.

Tomorrow is work. Yippee! I am excited like it is the first day of school. I went Friday for the pep rally and ended up staying all day. (I took a two hour nap when I got home, however.) My replacement, Mike, has to be the nicest guy on earth. I guess he is staying on until I am back full time, which is October 8. Not sure what office he will use.. : ) And, bless his heart, he watered my plants much better than I ever have. I do have to call Betty as I am feeling quite guilty already about taking meals from my friends when I am back to work. It feels wierd to be working at school and my great friends, who have worked ALL DAY, are making me dinner and I am only working a half day! Now, mind you, my husband and children are fearful that the meals will stop and are rationalizing why they should continue...we have had the BEST food the past two weeks it has been amazing.

Homecoming was a success despite losing the game. The junior float was awesome! Poor Danny is depressed too, but my goodness we are such a better football team than we were last year. They have made such a great turn around. But Danny knows he is judged on wins and losses... Our St. Joe friends tell us we gave them a great game, and for them being ranked in state, we did quite well. Andrew was a bit down about his defensive efforts but has rebounded this weekend and is looking forward to next game vs. Portage Northern.

Kristina, thank you for your comments. You know what this is like. I am so hopeful, and very sure, your MRI will be fine. Are you having a chest x-ray at any time? When i hear from you I realize I am not alone in this...and I know I am not...but it makes me realize it will be okay. I really am so glad we have found eachother--although I am sure I haven't been much help to you since I am such a whiner. : )

URGGH. My kids are fighting and I want to scream. Life is normal, isn't it?


Thursday, September 20, 2007

I think things are better.

Last night was long night. I got up two or three times and read through literature about ACC/breast and tried to go back to bed with just the positives on my mind. Didn't sleep well at all but am doing ok now.

Had my appointment with Dr. Ansari today and unfortunately, he didn't have my pathology report from Bronson from the mastectomy so he didn't have much new to say. I told him what I remembered from the reports (negative nodes, 6.1 cm. tumor, clean margins) While we are meeting, Bronson is faxing the stuff so I know we are sort of killing time. He admits that the size of the tumor concerns him a bit but he is really skeptical about radiation and says he will need to call around to ask if others concur with his no radiation/no chemo opinion. (I told him based on what I knew he would find they SHOULD concur) I gave him the name of a pathologist reseacher at University of Virginia who is the "lead researcher" of ACC/breast in the country--not sure what he will do with it, but at least I offered it up. (I also plan to email the doctor--his email is on the UVA website so I figured what do I have to lose?) Dr. Ansari just kept reiterating that there is just so little known about this, so little data, etc. I asked AGAIN if he was convinced this was the primary site and he very assuredly says YES, so I am trying to get over my salivary gland/ear pain fears, but they still remain I must admit. He said he thinks treatment is finished for me, but again, he is going to call around. He said he would follow me very closely (I made him promise NOT to forget about me) and he did promise. He said follow up would just mainly be chest x-rays, blood tests, and mammos/MRI's unless someone tells him differently.

Finally, the path report arrives and he reads it and says "I don't need to see you for 6 months." I was surprised and pleased and said I assume then that there is nothing alarming in the pathology report and he said "nope, 6 months will be fine." I did ask him what to do if I start getting scared about aches and pains and he said "you call me. I am your doctor." So I guess that is good news. So, March will bring scary times again. I am not afraid of the mammos believe it or not, just the chest x-ray. I also wish I knew for sure that my ear/salivary pain is just "residual" pain from my tumor 5 years ago--I know that it is likely--but it just doesn't seem to be getting better. I do know that I feel no mass, and no mass showed up on the PET/Ct so I guess I am ok? I also have this aching muscle in my left shoulder...SEE??? It will never end.

The good news is I lost 10 pounds and my blood pressure was very good for the first time in 4 years or so. I wonder if the cancer caused my blood pressure to go up--or if the weight loss was enough to drop it so much. Strange. Maybe my boobs weighing on my heart? : )

SO. Tissue expander is next on Tuesday. That will be interesting. One funny thing that I did today was when Dr. Ansari asked to see my surgery, I whipped out the reduced breast, forgetting that he had no interest in that side! Poor guy! I just showed it like I was showing my elbow or something. He did touch Mr. Ski Slope to feel the expander--he said later he said if we did radiation with an expander it would get really ugly so he is glad we don't need to do that. I guess I knew there was a chance the expander might have to come out but it was never really explained so thank goodness it doesn't!

This morning I had the pleasure of having coffee with the ladies of Niles at Brew Ha Ha's. What fun. And I had a very nice long chat with Deb T, who just gives me more courage by showing me that no matter what happens, life will go on and that obstacles are a part of everyone's life, not just poor ol' me. I can't tell you all the other secrets we all discussed as "what is said at Brew Ha Ha's STAYS at Brew Ha Ha's. : )


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

13 months after diagnosis. : (

Just when I feel good about things...

An ACC/breast website touted a man who had literature on ACC/breast that he gladly emails any one who asks. So of course I ask and he sent about 150 pages worth of documents--many of them old, but interesting. Nothing too surprising in them--very typical of the literature I have read but I am still sorting thru it all and printing, slowly but surely.

But then I see that he has sent a letter with this info, which I was glad about because I don't know who he is or why he has all this stuff. I was hoping he was a physician expert on ACC but it turns out he is the husband of a woman who had ACC/breast. She died 13 months after her diagnosis.

That scares me to death. He did say that most ACC/breast is very indolent (slow growing) but that his wife had the aggressive kind of ACC. He also urged anyone to get multiple opinions about the tumor.

Glad I am going to Ansari tomorrow. I did email him back and as nicely as I could asked him for her story...not sure if he will email me back. I am praying, so so selfishly, that she had mets even when she was diagnosed, etc. I just want to be different than she was.

Heavy heart tonight. But tomorrow is another day, I suppose.


Sponge boob.

I had a very full day yesterday...slave driver Nancy got me up at the crack of dawn (10:00) and we walked at Riverfront. The walk itself was fine, but when I got home I was so hot and sweaty...the shower was great...but I was tired! Then at noon Cindy came and got me for lunch. We went to Uptown Cafe--over by the new Martins near the mall--and had a fun lunch. The cafe was loud, but food was interesting and good. I recommend it if you are looking for something different.

Cindy, god lover her, had called around to help me find something to even out Mr. Ski Slope and Mr. Pizza Pocket. So we headed over to Alick's Home Medical Care (have you all seen the commercials? I expected that same lady to wait on me) When we go there, Cindy and I headed to the mastectomy bras and the chicken breast fake boobs and started looking around. We laughed and certainly weren't shy about what we were looking for. Cassandra, who I think is like a "fake boob guru," came to wait on us and I told her my situation, and as only a trained professional can do, she "quietly" moved us into an office so I wouldn't be so loud I am sure! : ) You know me...nothing embarrasses me anymore! So anyway, we decide I just need a "filler" so I try on a few different fillers (mine was just foam filled, covered in fabric) and settled on a size 7 --the only size 7 I have ever worn in my life. Cassandra told us about her sister who had two 11 pound boobs reduced so we shared notes on that. (no, my boobs did not weigh 11 pounds each!) So, I kept my new filler boob in and went to pay for it while Cindy used the restroom.

Since I had my filler boob in, Cassandra gives the clerk a number for my product and tells me good luck and off she goes. I am digging through my messy purse for my wallet when the clerk says:

"Ok, that is one camisole puff foam filler. That will be $197.34."

I freeze and stifle a gasp. "Really??? WOW." but I hand her my card, stunned at the expense. While she is swiping my card, I come to my senses and say "WHY in the world is that thing so much?"

Clerk says with a shrug, "Because it can be."

Stunned again, I say "Because we are so desparate for normalcy we will pay anything??"

Clerk agrees, and goes on to tell me there are even more expensive ones, yada yada.

I am still stunned and my mind is racing. We are talking about $1.00 worth of foam and maybe $5.00 worth of soft fabric covering this thing. Meanwhile, Cindy returns and I say

"Guess how much it was?"

She says, "Mmm. $2.00?"

"NOPE, $197.00!!!" I say.

"FOR A SPONGE???" she says and cracks up. She then says "I have shoulder pads at home you can have."

Luckily, the clerk says that we have her paranoid thinking about it, so she wants more info. So I pull the damned thing out of my bra and say "This is what it is." She calls Cassandra.

The thing really cost $12.00.

Can you believe I was going to pay it too? That is the worst part! I couldn't believe that it even crossed my mind to pay that. I just kept thinking "well, it is comfortable." Thank goodness Cindy was there to bring me to my senses! We laughed the whole way home of course.

But I do really like Ms. Filler as I call her. She nestles up in between Mr. Ski Slope and Mr. Pizza Pocket and does just fine.

SO today is Wednesday and I get to go to Dr. Nancy in Kalamazoo. She examines me and jostles Mr. Pizza Pocket a little--I think it fascinates her like it does me--and she mentions she is curious what my first visit with the plastic surgeon will bring. She thinks I am ready for injections 'cause everything looks good from her stand point. We talk a little about my future with her--she is going to do my clinical breast exams 6 months opposite of whatever Ansari orders so I will be having something done every six months, whether it is my MRI/Mammogram or a clinical exam. She also wonders Ansari's plans but indicates that it is possible he will do nothing--except watch me from now on. She agreed that this cancer is so rare she isn't sure what anyone would recommend. I appreciated her honesty but told her I wanted my doctors to have all the answers...she laughed and said there are not enough doctors in the world to have that.

She also agrees that I can go back to work half days starting next week. She said that sounds like a good plan but really wants me to stick to it. I also told her I could always call off if needed. So, I get to go back next week for the afternoons. I will also have to leave for doctors appointments but she is releasing me to full time on October 8th.

So that is my news. I am tired and can't wait to take this bra off--but am leaving it on as we expect John and Ginger to be home tonight. WAHOO! I can't wait to see them. Ginger has not seen me since surgery and I know will want all the details. Thank goodness she almost home.

Ansari tomorrow at 2:00. This is a scary thing for me in a way as I know he is now my "god" in terms of helping to keep this cancer from returning and getting me in a worse way. I hope he has done some research about it...and I intend to ask him if he has. I did have a man someone told me about on the internet email me about 9 articles about ACC/breast that I am printing as we speak. I haven't read them yet but plan to take them with me.

Will keep you posted tomorrow.

Life is returning to normal. I certainly think that is a good thing.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Will work for sanity. Got food covered.

Going nutso...too much time on my hands, too much alone time, too much internet. Went out to lunch with Betty today, ran some errands, and my family is almost home. Good.

I NEED to go back to work. My plan is to ask both Doctors this week if I can do 1/2 days next week, then go back full time the following week. Knowing I can take a day/morning off if I am tired for some reason. Who knows what this disease could bring in the future and it is crazy to be sitting at home while I could be at work, doing almost 100 percent of what I have done before. (I would guess that I won't be able to run down the hall, but with a good bra, who knows!): ) Plus, I am facing more surgery in about 3 months and I need to save my sick time. And, although NHS is running fine without me, it would be better if I were there, and I would be much better. So that is my plan. I also think I can now drive with no problems.

Kristina, my breath of clean air, thanks for posting. I agree that you need to get the chest x-ray or chest CT. I am going to ask my onco. to go over my most recent ones (I had two done in the last 12 months for a different reason) and although I do have one area that they have called a "granuloma" for 13 years or so, I want to know everything that is on there. I too hate the MRI's--I actually take Valium for mine and seem to do ok, but the sweating and laying flat on your face is not fun. But nothing is worse than waiting for results. Reason enough to take that Xanax!

Today the varsity baseball team sent me some hardy mums and in the flowers was a Save Second Base shirt--I know either Nancy or Annette did that so THANK YOU! When Betty picked me up for lunch I had my shirt on and she had her shirt on. At Varners a lady asked what it meant so we told her--she loved it. Betty, brave Betty, had the pink one on with the baseballs right above her boobs--and she wore it proudly! I give her credit and will be less afraid to wear mine. (I still don't have a fake boob yet so I don't want to call any more attention to Ski slope and Pizza Pocket just yet) Tomorrow I may go looking for new fake boob bras, along with the chicken breast rubber thing that serves as my boob.

My Joshie is home--yippee. So darn cute is he. Will post more later.

trying to stay sane...


Saturday, September 15, 2007

No offense intended.

I feel like I am among the living these days, which is such a good feeling. We went to a family birthday party today (Emerson is 1! Happy Birthday Emme!) and when we came home I really needed to lay down, but only needed about 10 minutes and now I am up again. So that is getting better. I even went to Walmart but when I came home that shower was calling me--and my pj's.

Went to the game last night with about 10 layers of clothes on. I used gauze to stuff the right side of my bra (I really needed a tissue during the windy game andt forgot about my secret stash!) and wore a few shirts and no one was the wiser. But honestly, today I have gone bra less as I don't really need one and it hurts sort of to wear one. When I got home from the game I was really sore--it felt like I had a really bad underwire bra on--so I took my Darvocet and went to bed. I have been having some really wierd muscle twitches during the night, which I notice as I fall asleep and last night Jim woke me up thinking something was wrong. I feel fine, but I have twitches all over my body about every 30 seconds. So today I googled "Darvocet side effects", and sure enough muscle twitching and sweating are two on the "less common" side effect...and as Josh says "uncommon" is my middle name... Needless to say, I am going to try strictly Tylenol from now on.

I had Jim check out my incisions--I have six of them if you count my sentinel node incision and the worst one is the one under the reduced breast, as it goes all the way under the breast area. Jim cringed when he saw it--he feels so bad about all this--but I assured him the pain isn't all that bad. Again, my tonsillectomy at 38 was WAY worse.

At the game I talked to quite a few people who have read my blog and I thank you for all of your kind comments. I forget that not just my women friends and women in general read this. But if you haven't figured it out yet, I am a pretty honest person and I hope I write nothing here that is offensive to anyone. I know I have some students reading this, and I hope your image of me as an adult in your life is not compromised. I probably should think twice about what I do write about this, as boobs are sort of taboo for "us school folk", but I just want to hope that my message might help someone--maybe not today, or tomorrow, but maybe ten years from now, when they are doing a breast exam and feel something that no one can see. I have also fully determined that breast cancer has nothing to do with the breast as any type of sexual object; instead it is about women and feeling like a whole person, even with a ski slope and a Pizza pocket on my chest! This is so not about anything obsence or bad--and I hope I am portraying that and not anything else. What I want to portray is courage, honesty, faith, love, friendship, and hope. (with a little of my hypochondriac self thrown in for humility!)

Another interesting thing about this surgery as I got to meet my stomach again. It ain't so pretty I must admit, but seeing it again was surprising, but it was rather nice not to have all that fat mess laying on top of it (my old boobs). Now Nancy B. is insisting on me walking for exercise so I must now live up to my promise to myself (and Lonnie, remember when I said I was going to be looking "hot" next summer when we start travel ball again?) and want to start the whole exercise, veggie, fruit, lean meat, etc. routine. Oh gosh, now that I have put it in print...I think I need a bowl of ice cream....

thanks pals--thanks for listening.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Mets, and I don't mean the New York kind.

I lived yesterday basically drug free and had a good day, although I think I got a little depressed, believe it or not. I am now in the UNKNOWN phase again of this cancer--before last Friday, I always knew the next step, but now I don't. So, sitting around the house alone was a bit too much time for me to think so my addiction prevailed--and--gasp--I spent too much time Googling. Of course there is not one link or site that I haven't already read about this cancer, so why I keep doing it I don't know--I guess to look for the good news, but invariably I read the bad news too--so on my mind now is METS. (metasticize) I just need another dose of Dr. Ansari so get me through that and that is next week so I am sure I will be ok. I just know that is the new thing to fear so of course, I do. (Kristina, if you are reading this, will you elaborate on what your doctors are telling you about the next step and the whole mets thing? I don't have your email at home or I would just email you...)

Let's talk about my Betty and my Kelly. As you know, Betty is my former boss but more importantly, my very good friend. She has set up all these wonderful meals up for us--which have helped us out tremendously. I can't imagine the organization of it! And then Kelly, who gets full credit for setting me up on this blog had this great idea to make me dream dinners to put in my freezer. So, last night they arrived in their Save Second Base t-shirts with weeks worth of food they had made that night for our freezer! We were so overwhelmed...and Kelly even gave me the shirt off her back. We are going to try to save that food for the next surgery...which I like to sort of forget about. I think is might be outpatient, but I do think I will have to miss another week of work so that will be a good time to use it. I think that will be about Thanksgiving/Early December so the timing will be perfect. Betty and Kelly, you two are so great and thank you for taking the time so do all that!

Wore a bra for the first time yesterday with a tight shirt over it. Just wanted to see what it looked like. The new boob looks really cute if I don't say so myself. The "udder" boob looks umm...well...let's just say I won't be wearing anything tight in the near future! I tried everything to get it to look natural--wash cloths, tissue, a sock, gauze, etc. but no doing. It does however look fine under loose fitting tops so I will be ok until the pumping up process is complete. And heck, I may not even wear a bra anyway. The other interesting "point" of the day is my nipple still works on the left boob! I wasn't sure that was going to happen since it sure looks sliced up. But it works, all perky and standing up straight. Of course the udder boob has no signs of a nipple and continues to look like a Pizza Pocket and a ski slope.

I am going to our varsity football game tonight. Go Vikes! I hope I can make it at least a half. If not, I will come home and listen on the radio.

I am actually going to put real clothes on right now. Pajamas still are the choice of the day, but I am thinking that wouldn't be good for the game.

Blessings to all of you!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm "udderly" thrilled.

Life is funny. Today was a tiring day, traveling the whole hour to Kalamazoo to see Dr. Nancy. I went smelling like someone who hadn't taken a shower in almost a week, and someone who had a bloody drain hanging out of her pajamas. And we even stopped at Olive Garden and ate lunch. No one was the wiser. But off I went.

And I came home with three boobs. Yes, you all thought I was coming home with just one, but alas, we were wrong. I have three! Let's start with the larger perky one. It looks like a bullseye with stitches all the way around the areola. Bruised, yellow, but oh so perky. That is the left side. Then we go to what I call the central boob. This is actually the area of the expander that is sort of sticky out like a shoulder blade. I saw that one coming as I could see it through the bandage. But then there is the third boob. I absolultely laughed out loud when I saw it. Even Dr. Nancy giggled when she touched it. What it is is a nice little crab meat rangoon-sized pocket of SKIN sewn in a nice little pouch that she had to save for the next phase of reconstruction. It's hanging just below my armpit. The funny thing is it is just hanging there, like it belongs or something! I told Nancy (Brawley) that it looked like I had three udders! We laughed so hard. She thought maybe I could rent out a booth at the Apple Festival to show off my udders--Jim said "naw, everyone has seen those before on cows and stuff". I think Shade had memories of puppyhood when she saw me.

But the drain came out, the incisions look fine, we reviewed the path report and it looked good. I do go back to Dr. Nancy in a week--she just wants to see how I am doing and I am to just keep looking for infections. I do have a drain hole that needs to be covered with a bandage as it will likely leak a bit but other than that, I am bra less and bandage free. I have taken my shower and feel great, albeit very tired and shaky.

Dr. Ansari will be the one to make the decision about radiation but Dr. Nancy believes it will be a no. With typical cancer, any tumor over 5 cm automatically gets radiaiton but in my case there is no data to prove that it would be effective. It will be interesting to see what he says. I may get a second opinion if he says yes, as it goes against all the literature that I have read. I want to keep radiation as an option if there is a recurrence near that area. Once you have radiation in one area, you can't ever have it there again.

I am still taking an antibiotic for the tissue expander (it's a foreign body in my body so you take an antibiotic for that) and have my Darvocet for pain if needed. Havne't needed any today. I want to get off that stuff as it makes me just a tad loopy, if you haven't noticed!

I want to go to the game Friday night but will probably sit in the press box. I will have to stuff my bra just like in junior high. (ah no, I am not wearing a bra and have never had to stuff my bra anyway) But I do want to go to the game.

Other than that, I think I need to rest. Love to all of you...the meals I have been getting have been wonderful --Jim is working his butt off keeping this family running and everything has helped so much.

More tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 and Beanie Babies

Today is 9/11. Six years ago was a day I promised I personally would never forget. I worried that our country would forget and we would continue on, not appreciating how lucky we are in the US. I still get weepy thinking about that day and thank the heavens I live here. Enough on that.

I was thinking about the day I was told I had "adenoid cystic carcinoma of the breast"--July 19--and all the things I have done since then. I watched countless baseball games, traveled to Maine via Boston, heard my son tell about his hole in one, took my dog to the vet, went camping, had dinner on the patio, did laundry, got my hair cut, worked with new teachers, helped a parent or know the drill. Normal, everyday life stuff.

That is all possible even if you have cancer. Prior to July 19 I wouldn't have predicted that I could handle such a diagnosis. I really thought I would curl up and stop living with such bad news. But it didn't happen. I hope that helps anyone else who might have to face something like this. As they say, if I can do, ANYONE CAN!

Enough philosophizing. Last night my blessed little black lab was struggling with not being allowed in bed with us. She started by bringing me a dirty sock of Andrew's. She thinks it is her job to "retrieve" socks--she missed the chapter on ducks in Labarodor retriever school--so she always brings socks. So last night she brings me a sock. Didn't work--I won't let her on the bed. Then she brings me a PAIR of socks that she must have taken out of a laundry basket. That didn't work either, although she looked pretty sappy with them hanging out of her mouth. Finally, about two hours later I am up emptying my drain and just when I get back in bed she is standing there--mouth full. In her mouth, she has gently placed my Breast Cancer Beanie Baby bear with the pink ribbons. Gosh darn it! She looked so sweet, but I still told her no and got her to lay next to me. But when I woke up this morning she was curled up in a tight little ball on the very corner of the bed. She has been very good and seems to sense I am hurting. I am glad she is here keeping me company.

Going to Dr. Nancy tomorrow with Aunt Nancy (Brawley). I hope they take the drain out, although it seems to be putting out too much stuff. It has to be less than 30 CC of fluid in a 24 hour period and I still have more than that. But we shall see. It will be interesting trying to put real clothes on. My pajamas have been the fashion statement of the week! Hair still looks like a brushed out afro on crack but I still plan on having Jim give me the shampoo tonight. He did a very nice job last night. I call him"James" when he is my stylist! : )

Ginger will be home a week from Friday. That is good news for me--probably not so good for her--but at least we will laugh.

Time to lay down for awhile.


Monday, September 10, 2007


Unexpectedly, Dr. Nancy called this evening and said she got the pathology report and although there had been some residual ACC left near where the biopsy was, I now no longer have ANY cancer left! THE MARGINS WERE CLEAN!!!! My left breast biopsy was also clean. They even took out some lymph nodes near the old tumor and those were clean too-- I really feel cancer free! I could tell she was excited to call me--it really was the first good report I have had. The residual cancer was her fear in the first place--why she decided I needed the mastectomy--so it was definitely the right thing to do so that didn't surprise me. But nothing showed up anywhere else. Although we didn't talk about it, I am pretty sure that means no radiation either. I see her Wednesday at 1:00 to hopefully get my drain out and some new, clean bandages.

Going to be short tonight--just wanted to pass on the new news! Had a great dinner tonighwhat a relief for Jim who has to do just about everything now. I get tired easily but did manage to stay awake about 6 hours so far! : )

More tomorrow. Thank you all for your prayers!


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Feeling like a queen

So last night I feel more like a queen than I do someone who had a mastectomy and breast reduction. Evening starts with my sister, who went shopping with Jim, and came home and made pork chops with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, brussel sprouts (my request), and dinner rolls--plus she made chocolate chip cookies later! Then, while under the influence of some heavy duty Percocet, I get to sit on the couch and have a major foot massage with a variety of awesome smelling lotions and then a pedicure. (Sue's nursing license requires continuing ed training so she is trained in reflexology, which means she is a great massuese!) Around 9:00 p.m. I head to bed, and fall into the cleanest, softest, most beautiful bed I have ever slept in. I was asleep in minutes and only had to get up once (Jim had to hoist me up a bit) to empty my drains and take an antibiotic. It was so great to be home. ( Lonnie, I know how you were behind all this and can't tell you how good I are amazing and I can't wait to take a real bath with all the goodies! I'm even over being embarrassed about my messy house!)

Then today, Sue helped me wash my hair at the kitchen sink, which was also a moment of pure bliss--CLEAN HAIR! For some reason when I came out of surgery, and basically the whole time I was in the hospital, I never stopped sweating, so my hair was disgusting! I felt so good after the shampoo I went to Blueberry Hill for breakfast with Sue, Jim and the boys. I wore my pajama tops under a big denim shirt, Sue pinned up my grenade drain, and off we went. I ate my whole spinache omellette with damp hair and no make up, but you know what, I didn't care because I AM BEATING BREAST CANCER and there are other more important things to worry about. I am sure people thought I looked rough but I really didn't care.

Today I have tried getting off the Percocet because it makes me itch like crazy. Dr. Nancy also gave me some Darvocet, so I am taking two of those and it seems to be working. I tried one but kept getting what I call the bee sting kind of pain throughout the incision area of the mastectomy and that hurt like the dickens--still, the left side feels fine. Sue peeked at those scars and said they look great. The boob itself seems to lean a bit to the left but sits up way higher than the old one! : )

Drains are working well--I empty it about every three hours. I just have to make sure there are no plugs--so far so good. Sue trained me well so I think I know what I am doing. If not, I have lots of books to read.

One other thing I forgot to mention were my visitors at the hospital. It was so great to laugh with Nikki, Jenny, Jenny and Carrie. My parents thought you were all a hoot. And then, at the Football game, Jim ran into two of my best friends from high school that didn't know I had cancer. They came to see me that night at Bronson and we carried on like we were in high school. Teri and Sue, you guys look GREAT and it was fabulous to see you!!

Tomorrow the kids are off to school without me. I plan to sleep, read, and watch TV. Hopefully, I have had the worst pain behind me--if so, I will say this hasn't been all that bad.

Only one worry now and that is the pathology report that I should get Tuesday or Wednesday. I don't want there to be any signs of ACC anywhere. I want to move on and to get this boob pumped up. No more complications, please!!

You are all so fantastic. Thanks for being here for me.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Gone. (I bet you guessed that!)

I am now a small C on the left and what looks like a bony shoulder blade on the right. We are praying that I am cancer free!!!

I am home and happy to be. I think I went to heaven--which I will explain later. Got home abut 11:30 this morning. Everything went very well. Dr. Nancy was "aggressive" in what she took out, including a piece of my chest wall, so Dr. Woody had a really tight space to put in the expander. They did not doing any expanding yet for that reason and because they want to wait to see if I need radiation. : (

The left side (small,perky boob) hardly hurts at all. I swear to god he moved my nipple up four inches! Now the right side is still painful--mainly when I move--it feels like major muscle spasm and since I now have a total of 5 incisions, the whole chest area is a bit sensitive. I have one drain; it looks like a grenade hanging from my pajamas. It is there to siphon off all of the fluids that were in the other breast. I have to empy it four time a day--it seems gross at first (which it really is I guess) but it is easy to do. I do have to measure what comes out, plus clean the insertion point of the drain. The rest of me is covered by bandages.

Luckily, sister Sue is here and is doing this all for me. A nurse in the family is great. She also has made dinner and is taking care of the dog. (Jim and the boys went to a family birthday party)

Now let me tell you about my little piece of heaven. I have the VERY VERY best friends I have to say. I came home today to a clean house--and I don't mean a "picked up and swept" house but a CLEAN house. My windows were all washed, the curtains were all washed, every nook and cranny is dust and dog hair free, all the carpets were clean, and get this--I have all new bedroom linens, new king size pillows, a pillow that allows me to sit up in bed, the softest throw you could ever have. Plus, there are baskets of soaps, lotions, creams in my bedroom and kitchen. And then today I had three bouquets of flowers delivered so I am surrounded by nothing by beauty and cleanliness! A little birdie told me Lois and Lonnie are to thank--girl, you think of everything!!!!!!! What a perfect way to come home. It was so the icing on the cake, as I
already felt good about everything...this just made me feel even better. (When Jim got home from our victory over Kalamazoo Central (WHAHOO!) he saw the bed and so wanted to get into it after a long, long day of surgery, hospitals, and high school football. But, and this is just the sweetest thing, he didn't get in it as he couldn't do it without me there.) I love that man more than words can say.

I am still a bit sleepy so I am going to keep things short for now. I am so blessed to know all of you and to simply just be here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Going, going...

Ok--getting VERY emotional right now. Just left the jayvee football game and want to cry. (we are winning which is really great tho') But I just know I won't be there for awhile and I will miss the kids so much. I do look forward to sleeping in however. Just need to look for the bright side, right?

Dr. Tackett's visit went very well. He remarked that I have the wierdest history--said I have had the two rarest things around. We talked a lot about all the cancer stuff and with all my OTHER doctors I won't have to see him for awhile unless I am sick--he will just call in my refills of my synthroid, etc. When we were all done talking he asked me if I had any questions and I told him of my issue last week--I was very direct. (it is amazing when you have cancer nothing much keeps me from holding back) He was just dying to defend his practice, I could tell, and just basically blamed it on the fact that I was not an established patient. He told me that they set aside time for sick established patients, etc. He said it would NEVER happen again, and if it did, I was to let him know. I told him I understood WHY it happened now, and just needed to know that in the future I would not be turned away. He promised me and I believed him. So, it ended really well. He also concurred that my rash was eczema--and told me if I just ran fast enough, the surgeons would never notice it anyway. : ) Again, I felt much better and feel he took me very seriously. He also said that now that he knows me, it helps him measure the seriousness of MY issues. He said I would be a priority.

PHeww. That was a heavy sigh. I need to pack a few things--I am taking my two magic wands with me and my beanie baby breast cancer bear, plus my healing "stone"...I think I should be all set. Plus my pink boob binder.

Surgery starts at 7:30 a.m. with a 6:00 a.m check in. Jim and I are leaving at 4:30 a.m. ( I sure hope my kids get up!) I hope to be in my room by 2:00 p.m.--but my sis says the hospital is full right now... but they do try to get people home for the weekend. Bronson has all single rooms so at least I know I can recover with just my own issues and not some other ill person's. That is a relief in itself. But right now, I might end up in a janitor's closet or something, hanging out with a mop.

Ok--much to do and much to drink. I am going to drink non-stop until midnight.

It is finally here. When you hear from me again, I plan on being cancer free.

Love to you all,


Show and Tell.

I may do two blogs today as I predict as the day goes on I will have a few anxious moments. Plus, later I will have gone to Dr. Tackett and I will be able to report to you all if I will STILL be going to Dr. Tackett after today. I am much calmer about the appointment fiasco last week but still will address what his policies are.

I am really feeling ok, but leaving school today was a bit hard so I just up and left without saying goodbye to too many people. Jim K. tells me they are now going to try to find someone to fill in for me--which is fine, as I know a fourth administrator can only help, but for the most part no one knows what I do and I won't be there to help them figure it out. But it is fine and I totally understand why they are doing it--and anyone can process discipline referrals. Luckily, I got most things done early so it shouldn't be too hard. But I am coming back ASAP that is for sure!

Today I did show and tell with some friends in the bathroom. I know women are always curious about things so we did a showing of the biopsy scars--both the lump and the sentinel node scars. I just want people to KNOW about this stuff so it isn't so scary to us. I think women are more worrisome anyway and dispelling the fears can only help. I will also show my mastectomy scars later--I never want anyone to be scared if this happens to them. (well, I want people to be less scared at least)

Bronson called and they want me to report to Outpatient Surgery instead of Inpatient Surgery tomorrow. Surprised me for a second but I am guessing they only have one desked manned that early in the morning.

More later.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Counting down and feeling good.

You know how I said Tracee would NOT call me unless I needed to see a cardiologist? Well, she lied. She called me today around lunch time and said that anesthesiology has cleared me for surgery--she called only to put my mind at ease. (I panicked when my secretary said she was on the line) So, anyway, that is good news. If I had the energy I would have pursued what the problem with the EKG was but right now, it isn't a priority.

I also, again, told her about my thumbprint rash and she said she would discuss it with Dr. Nancy and call me back. It really is a lot better but still there in its hickey/bruise like-self. Tracee did not seem to be worried at all. I told her I see Dr. Tackett tomorrow and he too can assess it and call if he thinks it is anything to worry about. Because the rash is better, my mind is a bit better. (Trust me, if it wasn't above a cancer ridden boob I would never obsess like I am. This obsession makes some people call me a hypochondriac, but since I've NEVER had it before, AND it is on a cancerous breast, I feel entitled to obsess a bit)

But dang, now it sure looks like Friday is coming!!! Eeek. Be careful what you wish for, right? Nope, I know this is the part of the battle that HAS to happen for the war to start to end so I am preparing as much as possible. Everything I have read about the mastectomy sounds fairly easy with the exception of the drains hanging off of me, but the expander process sounds a bit more painful. Some liken the pain to a charley horse and say that "narcotics" are needed for the first few days, and then ibuprofen or Tylenol after that. My neck surgery, while not really painful per se, wasn't all that fun because I was soooo uncomfortable and weak. That surgery was over 4 hours and Friday's is about 3. Don't know too much about the reduced breast issues either. Regardless, I just keep hoping this surgery will be better. But like I said, I am hopeful the cancer will be gone gone gone and I can start moving on!

As Friday nears I am sad about not being at school. Today was absolutely so busy and perfect for me to help solve issues and work with kids. I also so enjoy seeing my kids. Josh walked up to get some paper for his math teacher (his uncle of course) and it just made my day seeing his shaggy haired, toothpick body coming up the hall. Andrew is still Andrew and visits me for money. : )

Get this--our little school store is selling cookies with pink M&M's and giving all the proceeds to the American Cancer Society in my honor! THAT is why I tell my story to everyone...such good stuff can come from this if we let it. I have a cookie in my honor. That is just too fun. I also wear my little pink breast cancer band every day now--I feel like it protects me in some way.

All in all, today was a great day, although a hectic one. I took a few moments today to think about why I am not scared out of my mind about all this and came up with the answer that I am just lucky to have such great people in my life. From people I work with, to friends, to my dog, and my family, I am just lucky.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Not much to report.

I will go with the no news is good news theory right now, but I am still not off the hook with the whole EKG thing yet. Tracee did call from Dr. Nancy's office abut 11:30 a.m. and said they did locate an EKG from back in the day (1998? Don't even remember that one) and she was sending all the reports to the anesthesiologists to review...and if they have concerns they will call her. Otherwise, if I don't hear from her I am to assume things are a go for Friday. She also told me that "I don't change surgery dates" so even if there is an issue, she would have it taken care of by Friday--in other words, I would get cardiac clearance either Wednesday or Thursday. (I would guess if I am about to have a major cardiac infarction or some deep vein thrombosis of the major heart valve (I made those things up) they would not go ahead with it) Tracee said she didn't think anything was a big deal based on what she knew, but I doubt she can read EKG's...anyway...who knows. What I do know is she hasn't called after this a.m. so I will take that as a positive.

Mr. Hicky Rash is better again today, but towards the end of the day when I was a hot, sweaty, frizzy principal it did start to redden up a bit and itch. I cheated and put more cream on it when I got home and will do so again tonight after my shower. But for the most part, it does look better. It certainly isn't anything that I, with my University of Google medical degree, would stop surgery over. I just don't like how it comes and goes...but I guess eczema can do that, as well as mean ol' know the mind game that I like to play.

School was a success from all stand points today. Josh was a bit grouchy about "YOUR school is sooooo hot!!!" and about teachers whose syllabusses (what he said) are so negative...but that Spanish, Graphic Arts, and oh yeh, Gym will be great. He thought lunch was ok too. Andrew says all his classes "are not all that scary" and he seems happier than happier for some reason. He is working on his binders as we speak, without me telling him to... Says he has a chance to play some downs this Friday so maybe that is what is making him happy? Or maybe it is a girl? Who knows? Maybe it is pre-calculus? I am sure that is it : )

Is it strange that I am actually looking forward to Friday? When I had my neck tumor out in 2001 I cried the whole way up to U of M. Wonder if I will be that way early Friday morning? Jim and I have to leave at 4:30 a.m. to ensure we are there at 6:00 a.m. Ok, now with my excitement, watch us have to cancel. But then maybe I can see Andrew play. Ok, mind is being dumb again.

I need to tell my hubby what I want from DQ. It is a family tradition that we have DQ the first day of school.

All of you have a GREAT night--will update you all tomorrow.

3 days and counting. Prayers are flying even more now!


Monday, September 3, 2007

It is a school night. How sad is that?

Rash is still there, but was getting much better but suffered a minor setback last night for some reason. It looks a lot like a hickey right now. It was getting paler but is redder today, but not "raw" looking like it was. Tired of thinking about it.

I did not have a heart attack this weekend so I am praying my EKG comparison turns out ok. I am guessing I will hear from Tracee tomorrow while at work. I am prepared to pick up and leave to go to a cardiologist if needed. Sister-in-law Pam works with cardiologists so I am hoping I can get same day service. : )Really haven't thought much about this aspect, which is rather ironic on the balance scale: HEART vs. hickey rash?? Silly me. Numerous people have told me that this happens often, but as Josh put it "uncommon" is my middle name so watch it be something that has to be dealt with. But as Vikki says, it is better to find out about it rather than having a damned heart attack! She is so right.

Your comments have made me laugh, hope, and laugh again. Many of you have asked who SHERYL is. We have decided it is Sheryl Crow, the well known singer. She is a breast cancer survivor too, ya know. Sheryl Crow has permission to use the F word whenever she wants.

Camping was the best...lots of laughs and good food...good, crazy friends. The kids, although getting older, still seemed like they had a great time. Jim and I took Shade for many walks and enjoyed eachother's company. Made the traditional roasted marshmallows and brown bears. Sad to have to put the camper away but fall is in the air.

Congrats to the Vikings, who won 33-7 Friday night. I had a feeling they would win because nothing could have made my day WORSE than a loss. Andrew is permitted to play this coming Friday--not sure if he will but he had paid his pennance at least. Just so glad the kids won. I know Danny is thrilled and everyone felt so good about it.

Still planning on keeping my already scheduled appointment with Dr. Tackett this Thursday. I want another opinion of the rash if it isn't gone, plus I need to have prescriptions filled, but the last thing we will talk about is office procedure and what I can expect as a patient. Most likely, I will be looking for a new doctor unless he can convince me it was just a bulldog receptionist and not the norm. Thanks for all of your suggestions for doctors. I originally picked Tackett as he was in Niles, but I now know why locals go out of town--for better service! Two local doctors have let me down. Not good.

Feeling like the surgery IS going to happen Friday. I haven't allowed myself any thoughts of it this whole weekend--just worried on the rash believe it or not. I will re-read my mastectomy chapters just to remind myself about what will happen.

School starts in less than 12 hours. Are we ready????

Get a good night's sleep and eat a good breakfast....