Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Welcome Karen

With mixed feelings, I welcome yet another ACC/breast sister to my blog. I met Karen on my rare cancer forum. I am so glad we have all found each other but it is with heavy heart that yet another woman, or anyone for that matter, has to deal with such a scary journey.

We MUST find a cure for cancer. I bet there is not one of you out there who has not been impacted by it at some level. Let's hope 2009 brings us closer to a cure.


Welcome Cyndi

I really have so much to do but must blog about Cyndi, who you can see posted a comment on my last post. She too is a newbie to ACC/breast. Can you believe it? I would say almost 10 people have been diagnosed during the duration of my journey. And that is all that I KNOW about. Wonder if they will ever not call it rare?

Cyndi, there are at least two other ACC'rs who read this blog. Stephanie, who was diagnosed about 6 months ago (right Steph?) and Kristina, who was my angel, who is about three years out now? Feel free to ask any question as Kristina had the lumpectomy, I had the mastectomy, and Stephanie had a bilateral. So we've got you covered in the procedure department. It is always interesting to see what others' doctors do as well.

My news for the day is I met with my PS, Dr. Messinger. My nipple really looks about perfect--still a few stitches here and there but they are disappearing daily. Both the doc and I wish the left breast was a perky as the right but it isn't too be. Luckily, all looks fine in a bra.

Also, Andrew's ACT score went up and puts him the range of what MSU wants. Doesn't mean he'll get in for sure as they compare him to all applicants, but at least he improved. He was happy it went up--still wants to take it again believe it or not--but doesn't seem to interested in MSU anymore. He has to meet with the Kalamazoo College coach soon--that could prove very interesting.

More later.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Rachel Ort Leazenby

I have just learned that a former student of mine, Rachel Ort Leazenby, was killed in a car accident Christmas Eve. I am just stunned. She was actually a Brandywine student, but took my Teaching Academy class at NHS. She married her high school sweetheart, Jon, who was also an NHS student and really great "kid." They were two perfect young adults with a wonderful world ahead of them. Rachel most recently was subbing at area schools and when I last saw her, which was about a month ago, she asked how I was doing--said she prayed for me often. Thank God for her faith--and Jon's too--as I know it will be the only thing to get him through this tragedy. Just an awful awful shame. She was always bubbly, full of energy, smiling and POSITIVE.

Just another reminder to live, laugh and love everyday.


I was right.

Hello friends--

Happy post-Christmas day. Jim just came back from errands and said the roads are terrible. Andrew is at basketball practice--eek. Hope he managed the icy roads. Speaking of Andrew, sitting on the table right now is a very thin letter from Michigan State Admissions office. I am guessing he did not get in as there is just one piece of paper in there. I am sure it is his ACT scores. I am glad this is is not his first choice for schools--but at least it would have been ANOTHER choice.

Christmas was nice. But I swear there is something about grandparents houses that produce HEAT. It is so hot at John and Ginger's that we actually had to have the door open and it was still steaming. Andrew thinks John keeps it hot so people won't stay long. They rarely use real heat--just their wood burning fireplace. Then my parents yesterday was like a major hot flash. Their apartment faces south and the sun was beating in--so we opened their sliding door too. I fnally said I had to go I was too hot.

Ok--I was right. Andrew just got home. They want a second score on his ACT. So, if he really wants to go there, he needs to have done better this last time. So, the waiting game continues. Times sure have changed--even 5 years ago Andrew could have gotten in with no problem. The counselors at NHS said Grand Valley was much more selective than Michigan State and he got in there....ah well, I must be having problems with rejection as Andrew doesn't even seem to care at the moment. As I said, it isn't his first choice--CMU is--and CMU gave him money maybe that is a sign? : )

Andrew said the roads are the worst he has ever been. He said they only had seven at practice.

Making a pot roast today. We had ham yesterday and it was yummy! Munched on ham sandwiches last night and my sister's Chex Mix concoction.

Hope everyone got what they wanted from Santa.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A productive day.

Today was productive. If you call swiping my little plastic card productive, then that was ME! Started out heading to the mall but remembered I had a birthday gift card for Kohl's so I headed there and was quite successful. But they didn't have the grill I wanted to get for Josh (I know, a dopey gift) so I had to get that elsewhere. Had a nice little trip to Target too. The only thing left to get is stocking stuffers and I may put Jim in charge of that...or, I might even be lazy and get the kids an extra $50 instead. Much of their stuffers end up all over the house. About the only thing they really like is beef jerky.

Tonight was a practice of sorts of Christmas Eve. Ginger decided to have all the kids over to make gingerbread houses. What fun was that! First to arrive was cousin Lizzie, who needs to act or something. She is so articulate and creative for her 3 1/2 years. The houses turned out so cute. Barb brought empty milk cartons from school and the kids each decorated their own after sugar gluing on graham crackers. Each little kid had a big kid helper so it was a group effort. Lizzie, who never gets candy, discovered candy for the first time and went to town. As always, Ginger out did herself making special memories for all of us. I think we all got stuck at some point in the front yard...it's icy under that fluffing snow. Jim and Andrew left early to go hit baseballs.

I cleaned the heck out of my kitchen yesterday. REALLY cleaned the fridge, to the point I was sore last night from bending all over the place. Don't you just love a clean fridge?

Still feeling worried about cancer but am trying not to think about it.

Today I also went to the eye doctor. If you need an eye doctor, I recommend Dr. Becraft here in Niles. What a nice man and ver knowledgable. He is the one that spotted my Horner's Syndrome right away years ago at an appointment for Josh, and picked it up again today. I don't need "real" glasses yet---just readers---but I did order a pair from them. I still have 20/20 at a distance so no need there yet.

One thing that you may end up noticing about me is that he told me to no longer use Visine like I have been. My right eye is redder than red first thing in the morning so for the past seven years I have been using Visine, which is really bad for your eyes on a regular basis. The Horner's Syndrome causes the redness/dryness so now I have to switch over to artificial tears, which will take a few weeks to correct the problem. So when you see One Red Eye Molly walking around you will know it is me. He said he wanted to try the over the counter stuff first before we get to the prescribed drugs. He did talk about the ACC, which can be found in the lacrimal gland, (in your eye) but my eyes all looked good.

So, that is it here. Nipple is looking fabulous by the way.



Monday, December 22, 2008


Another ACC sister is in her last lap of her cancer journey. Her lung mets are so extensive and all the surgeries that she has had can't keep up with the growing, numerous tumors. She was diagnosed in 2001 and then had the mets in 2004. They just keep growing.

So a second person I know through cyberspace is dying. This leaves me depressed. I want to believe that I have the best kind of cancer and it won't kill me. Then I realize it is CANCER not some fantasy journey I have been on these past two years.



Sunday, December 21, 2008

BRR. It's blizzard

My goal today was to not go outside and it is already 5:00 and I haven't! I see that the winter storm warning has changed to a blizzard warning so you know that makes me happy. But then I felt bad when I read my pal Debbie's blog and her hubby Brian has to drive to WISCONSIN in this mess. Ok, so I want my blizzard but not for poor Brian.

Pooh is still in southern Indiana. I won't even tell you how much money he makes in one day. But you would understand why he will willingly miss Christmas if power is still out for people. He calls daily...he and Jim are very close. Ginger has Zack and Zoe for the most part.

i haven't mentioned my aches and pains lately, but my focus now is on my neck/throat/ear area. It still hurts...what has it been, about a year? When I read ACC websites I freak as that type of pain is so symptomatic of ACC in the neck...

I have actually wrapped a few presents. Still not done with the nephews, but Jim is taking care of that. I also want to get the boys a few more things. We are buying Josh a countertop grill...we had an old George Foreman but Jim pitched it. It was too big and we want one that the plates can go in the dishwasher. The reason we are getting it for Josh is because he uses it all the time. He rarely eats what we eat so he often fixes himself a steak. (we get the cheapy ones from Hardings--he's not picky!) Speaking of steak, Andrew went to Ruth Christ with his girlfriend's family. I have never been there but he says it is amazing! Jim is hunting and Josh just went to Wings with some buddies. So it's me and my lovely black daughter, Shady Paige.

Yesterday a letter arrived from Michigan State University addressed to James Andrew Brawley. I got all excited as the letter was thick, so I hoped it had housing info in it--if it was an acceptance letter. Well, it ended up being a survey for Michigan fishermen! Andrew was disappointed too. Maybe they are waiting for his ACT retakes? Andrew thinks he will need to take the ACT again, does not feel well about the last retake.

Jim marinated some venison steak this morning and we will be having Venison Fajitas for dinner. I sent him to the store to get ingredients for a pot roast, potato soup, and goulash for dinner this week. I cook all the time when I am on break...makes up for the rest of the year.

Josh has his sports physical tomorrow, which means we have to get up. That is good though. I don't want to slee.p my break away.

I am giving Pillars a break right now and feel so guilty about it. But I ordered a new Nora Roberts book from a used seller and started it and like it. I am also half way through New Moon, in the Twilight series.

TTFN. Happy blizzarding!!!!


Friday, December 19, 2008

An early vacation!

Well, I got my snow day today! WOOHOO!

I did not work yesterday; I was/am so very sore from falling and also had my appointment with Dr. Nancy in Kalamazoo. She is sooo great. I trust her so much. When she examines your breasts, she shuts her eyes. It is sort of funny but it helps her concentrate on what she is feeling. She also said my nipple looks fantastic! She was going on and on about it and was saying that the PS's have come so far in their craft when it comes to reconstruction. She said Dr. M especially takes pride in his work. She also said that it would sink in a little, which was a pleasant surprise. Nothing suspicious in the exam. She was a bit upset that Memorial didn't have my orders for the right MRI last September--told me next time to just tell them to call her office. But she also said that having the clear MRI on the left breast was really important.

On the sad side, a women on my ACC/breast list serv is getting close to passing away from numerous mets. She was first diagnosed in 1993 and ten years later thought she had arthritis in her back and hips and it turned out to be mets to the spine and iliac joint. That was a year ago. Now she has numerous lung mets--which makes my chest hurt just thinking about it. Her husband says they are just hoping she makes it through Christmas. FRICKING CANCER!!!

Today we made our traditional snow day trip to Olive Garden. Josh and Andrew take full advantage of the Olive Garden theme "we treat you like family"by fighting the entire time we are there. I wanted to take a breadstick and shove 'em in my ears. Then we went to the mall and I bought myself three new tops and two Yankee Candles. The kids both wanted puzzles of all things, so I let them pick out one each. Neither have much to open on Christmas so that will help. Josh is using his Christmas present right now...snowboarding at Swiss Valley for the evening. Andrew is playing ping pong with his buddy Dan who is home from college.

We had to cancel our family Christmas for tomorrow because Pooh, who works for AEP, had to go to mid-southern Indiana to help with this ice storm. We were going to celebrate with Jim's parents and brothers tomorrow but now are postponing it. Also, poor great grandma Brawley fell and broke a bone in her neck and will not be able to join us for the extended Brawley Christmas on Christmas Eve. Santa is coming at 5:00 and after we open gifts and eat I think the whole crew is going to go see her in the nursing home. She's in a lot of pain and is pretty doped up. Bill, Robyn and Lizzie will be here from California which is always fun. Lizzie is amazingly smart.

This year the family has adopted a family from Cass. Matt B knows them and I guess their house recently burned down. They have three kids. We do this instead of exchanging gifts for the adults. The kids still draw names. This year we have Talon and Chase, which is really easy. Both are the cutest little boys! While I love all my nieces and nephews I have this crazy attachment to Talon that started his first summer in the UP...I am addicted to that little boy.

Still loving my washer and dryer.

Did I tell you Jim and I are going to make a prime rib this holiday break? We have made one before but over cooked it, so want to try to do it again. Also looking to make some really good and new to us side dishes. If you have any suggestions, please suggest away!

Wow, two weeks off. How wonderful is that?


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Monday night walking into Andrew's basketball game, with Andrew, I fell on slippery ice and banged up my right knee and scraped my hands. Andrew did a nice job of not laughing (he did snicker) and although I was sore, nothing was too hurt but my pride. Then today I was walking out to my car at school and said hello to a boy walking in and BOOM, down goes Brawley. This collapse was much worse...no blood, but both knees are already black and blue and I definitely did something to my wrists and left arm. WOW. What a bozo I am. As I sit and type this, I am stiffening up like crazy. The poor boy who witnessed it didn't know what to do...I just told him not to tell anyone (I was kidding--trying to lighten the mood) I went to my meeting in Kalamazoo soaking wet and now my pants have little sidewalk salt rings all over them! Just add that to another embarrassing moment in the life of Molly.

I see Dr. Nancy tomorrow. This is my breast exam that I will have every 6 months. Nellie New Nipple is looking snazzy--she really does look fine now. She just doesn't match my other one. Tina Tattoo is pretty faded but overall, Boobie looks pretty good!

Still need to do some Christmas shopping. SOME is an understatement. I need to do almost ALL of my Christmas shopping. I got my mom the same thing I always get her--flowers of the month--but this year I went with flowering plants. She loves getting a delivery each month. Got my dad the proverbial sweater. I give up trying to get him anything creative.

Andrew has a concert tonight. We are all very tired. Keeping an eye on the potential storm for Friday. : )


Sunday, December 14, 2008


Ok, so today it looks better. My gauze stuff keeps falling off and it doesn't bother me so I guess I am healing well. Still some blood around the incision (about the size of a dime) and those lovely stitches are sticking out, but overall it does sort of look like a nipple! As I said, nipples aren't really attractive anyway, but when I look in the mirror, it does sort of look like the other one. And that is the whole reason I did this....that glance in the mirror. And guess who thinks it looks fine? Yup, always supportive Jimmy.

Angie--Apples to Apples is a board game where you get seven red cards with terms on them, and then the dealer turns over a green card, and those with the red cards try to pick the red card that best represents the term on the green card. It is simple but really for tweeners and up...not for little kids, although in the UP, third grade Conner played and did really well. We just explained what some words meant. But it is fun and funny!

I can not tell you how liberating our new washer and dryer are. I didn't realize how crappy my previous appliances were until now. My laundry time is cut in half I would say. Aida should hire me for a commercial at Whirlpool. Jim and I have decided it is definitely the deal of the century.

Brandywine tomorrow night for the boy's basketball team. After the first game, both Jim and I felt like we should forfeit the season and just start baseball--that's how bad the team played. But the second game, despite still losing, the team looked much better--just not tons of talent.

Not much else to report. Did FINALLY get some ornaments on the tree.

Still looking for that blizzard!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

A blob of chewed gum

It's even uglier today. Looks like a hideous glob of chewed gum sitting on a mound. But then when you look at any nipple, they aren't exactly attractive either. My poor Pj's--cancer surgery has resulted in many ruined tops! I didn't think I would bleed much but sure enough, I did. I am still really tired from it all I think. Just tired period of is ALL.

Had our Freund family Christmas tonight. That is Ginger's side of the family. It was very fun. We do the whole get a gift, steal a gift thing. I came home with nothing. Jim and I gave our gifts away. The kids got a pair of Niles football sweats and a Sports Illustrated trivia game. They weren't even there which is the sad part! Andrew left to go hang with his girlfriend and Josh had had plans to ski for weeks now. Jim has just left to go pick him up. Andrew and Kait just went out to dinner. We also played Apples to Apples at the party==that was funny. I refereed rather than played.

The box or ornaments is now upstairs sitting in front of the tree. That is a start.

Love to you all--going to find some clean pajamas and might just go to bed to read. Finally getting into the depths of Pillars of the Earth--this is taking me forever, but I really really like it.


Friday, December 12, 2008

A witch's wart with hair

My new nipple is the most hideous thing I have ever seen. When Dr. M said look at your new nipple I had to crack up at it...it looks like the end of a tied balloon...sitting there on top of tattoo with little hairs (stitches) poking out all over the place. It was so funny and ugly looking. He quickly gauzed it up so i don't have to look at it again until Sunday when I can take a shower. it took about an hour--didn't hurt but my whole body was like jelly when I was finished from the stress of trying to be still. Glad it is over. Have to go back in two weeks.

One interesting thing that happened was that we were discussing my reconstruction process and the nurse, who was new, asked me about my diagnosis. We talked about the rarity of it and I said that I thought that going through the cancer was "good for me', meaning that reconstruction was therapeutic, etc. Dr. M said "I am glad this has been good for you, because you have been very good for me." I am very happy about that because as you all know, my goal is to help people understand this RARE cancer and maybe help others. I'm not sure what he exactly meant but either way, I am glad.

We got our new washer and dryer today. I keep standing down there watching it. We got the DUETs from Whirlpool and since they were show washers, we got them well...almost free for the most part. I am actually looking forward to doing laundry tomorrow.

Andrew got into Central Michigan and is also the recipient of their Elite Scholars scholarship, which is a renewable $3000 scholarship as long as he maintains good grades. He was excited about that as we were. Still haven't heard from those darn Spartans in East Lansing! Tomorrow he is re-taking the ACT so we have to get up early.

Still no ornaments on our tree. We have the Freund side of the family Christmas tomorrow. Still need to buy 4 $20 gifts for that. I really want to get the Chia head for the fun of it.

Again, nipple is U-G-L -Y


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A bit grinchy, I am

Bah humbug. I can not get into the Christmas spirit. My tree is up with the lights on but I still have not put the ornaments on yet. I have a pre-lit tree and only one strand of lights worked. So instead of trying to fix them, I went to Wally World and bought 5 new strands and wallah, it looks great! : ) No one else seems to mind. We were talking at work about how the older the kids get the less they care about things like decorating the tree. I've done no shopping--well, we got Josh his snowboarding clothes already--which he is already wearing--and that is it. UGH. Last year, I was all about Christmas. Now, I just can't get as excited. Maybe it is because work continues to be so stressful--not necessarily bad stress--but just a lot of work.

New nipple comes Friday. Not even thinking about it really. I also see Dr. Kalinowski next week for a breast exam. Then March for scary scary tests.

On the good news, my friend at work, whose tumor might have grown a bit last scan, has since learned that the tumor is shrinking now. Isn't that awesome! I am so happy for her. What a gift she has been given...we celebrate three months of reprieve between tests.

We are getting a new front door. Much to our dismay, we didn't realize our 1898 built house needs a non-standard door, tripling the price! Not what we were hoping for. But we really need the new door, plus a new storm door. Our front door is super tall. Who knew? : )

Do I even need to tell you how awesome WICKED was? If you have not seen it, it is worth it if you like musicals. I really would love to take Josh and Jim in to see it. It was very funny too and I loved how it connected the dots with Wizard of Oz.

Still no word from Michigan State or CMU for Andrew. At least State's website tells us the status--I think I really need to call CMU. We need to do some college visits soon.

We are all still coughing around here. It's nice I don't think CANCER all the time but it still weighs on you.

I want a snow day. Or better yet, a blizzard. I know I am nuts but significant snow lowers my blood pressure. Really. I really think it does.

Mucho love to you all. Check in if all is well. Sorry for lack of blogging. I will be sure to write lots over break.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fast words for you.

Last year I was all about UP pictures. Didn't take any this year. It was the year of puking and small bucks but was also fun. Everyone got the coughs and then the stomach flu for a few...Josh is still hacking up his lungs and Andrew is starting. So far, I am avoiding it. I did get my flu shot so I am happy about that.

Tomorrow is Wicked. Kids are excited. I sure hope we are ready!

Three more women joined the ACC/breast site. It's been about one a week this past month. CRAZY.

Gotta run. My kids are driving me nutso!!!!!!