Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 29 - 4 Weeks

As we head into Good Friday and Easter, I thought I'd give a few updates:
  • The rest of my tape came off today and I'm told things are healing up quite nicely
  • My scar is pretty sweet
  • My arm is starting to gain noticeable strength, almost daily now
  • The shoots and shots of pain, the aches, and other fun things are also decreasing
  • Though it seems I'll be tight in my chest area for a while yet, it's better, not as uncomfortable
  • Mobility has taken a huge turn upward for the better :)
  • I'm approved for using a stationary bike and I'm excited to give that a try!
  • My memory seems to be a little slippery - especially when I try to recall things from those first few weeks :)  But hey, that's cool :)  I love drugs ;)
  • Energy is on the rise, but somehow, I still seem to need soooo much sleep and I still seem to have waves of energy and then realize the wave has passed ;)
  • People are still generously checking in, bringing me cards and/or flowers, etc.  There is no one more spoiled than me and I appreciate it so so much
  • I'm back at work, part-time - I'm blessed with an amazing boss and co-workers - they've been incredible to me
  • One of my most favorite things in this world is sleeping in my bed, and then waking up with my head against my great pillows and just deeply appreciating comfortable rest - man, I'm blessed
  • sister Mary comes home from her mission this Saturday!  That's enough to boost anyone's immune system :).  So grateful for her energy and love for our Savior.  So grateful for her example to me.
Happy Easter to you.  I'm grateful for Easter.  It is one of my absolute favorite holidays.  Without it there would be no Christmas and there would be no hope for life with Heavenly Father after this life is over.  It also has increased meaning for me this year as I remember that each of us who have ever lived and ever will live will be resurrected and have a perfect body someday because of the gift of Christ's resurrection.  We are so blessed.

Loves to each of you :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 19 - My Mother & Being Thankful

Updates :)
  - Stitches are out
  - Tape is off
  - Started the gradual expander element of reconstruction
  - Learned what I can and should not do with my little self
  - Doctors both say I'm healing really well

Special Update :)
  - During last week's cancer conference at the hospital, a panel of doctors, including two radiologists, examined my case. One of the radiologists even went back to his office and did a literature review to make sure he was giving us the most up-to-date and accurate information.  So nice.  Even though the area was wide and touched the skin, studies show that the risk for reoccurrence doesn't change if radiation is done with DCIS.  They even checked a most recent study at Harvard which supported this finding.  So... :) big smiles and a grateful heart, I don't need to do radiation.  What a blessing.  I feel there have been so many blessings, and today, after hearing this news, once I was home, I just cried.  I feel I've been extremely blessed during this experience, so blessed.

My angel mother did leave last Thursday, thank you for everyone who has checked to see how I'm doing.  Throughout this entire experience, mom has reminded me to be thankful.  "Thank the Lord for every good thing.  Thank Him for every hard thing, everything that's difficult, for the pain, for all the growth."  She has encouraged me to be thankful for everything, no matter what it is.  She has found incredible peace and happiness doing this.  I feel so much awe for who she is and feel grateful for her example of humility and gratitude.  I will be grateful every day of my life that she is my mother, and that I am her daughter.  Through this experience, I have leaned on her so much.  I, the independent one, has had to admit my need of others :), especially of her and my Heavenly Father, and I thank Him that He gave me this experience, the opportunity to spend this time with her.  She is an angel of peace.

As things geared up for her leaving, I started feeling anxious.  I felt like I'd just had a child or something ;) and was so emotional, not wanting her to leave.  She encouraged me to thank the Lord for the difficult feelings I felt.  We looked at having her stay longer, but we both prayed about it and felt good about her departure date.  We have some sweet memories of that last night she was here as I read to her from "The Continuous Atonement" by Brad Wilcox, and she made soups, drinks and Sauer Kraut for me :), all the while following along almost better than me to the book!  She's amazing.  When she left, it did feel quiet, I missed her terribly, and yet I knew it was okay.  I slept for a good while and then let myself feel the peace the Lord gave me as I took care of things around the house.  Since she left, my aunt and many others have been so so helpful in giving rides and helping me if I've needed anything.  I've had wonderful, thoughtful visitors, and even a sweet experience with the Sacrament being brought to me.  Where I felt unable to go forward without my mother, the Lord has picked me up and carried me.  He amazes me.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 12 - The Sun is Out

Have you ever listened to the rain at night and felt so comforted?  Something about that rain, the freshness, that sound of washing old things out and clearing the ground for new life really makes my life when I hear it :)  Day 8 and 9 were toughies, I felt I could hardly move.  It didn't make sense to me til I called the doctor and they said that sometimes with the removal of lymph nodes, even when only 3 are taken, as in my case, your arm and side can really feel it.  That was my experience and I felt wiped out.  I'm not sure why that happened after taking out the drains, but I'm actually so glad I felt that way because when the rain fell Friday night, it felt more like a friend than any rainfall I remember.

The next morning, it was fresh, sunny and my body seemed to work a bit better.  I could not help feeling so very grateful.  Sometimes we need a little pain and lack of mobility :) to help us appreciate how good we have it.  Since Saturday, I've been trying to pace myself better, and though I still need naps, and still have to take it pretty slow, my arm and side are getting a lot more manageable :)  A dear friend shared the following with me and with her permission I'm sharing it here because it is such a good reminder:

"It's important to take time to slow down and enjoy the journey.  I tend to fill up all my time and then it's easy to feel exhausted - physically and emotionally - which kind of takes the joy of of things.  Then I don't think straight, I'm more irritable, and I tend to make more mistakes or hurt myself.  I think it's not so much about the quantity of things I do, but more about the quality of who I am that matters most."

So good.  As an update, yes, healing is going well, and wait for it...I took a real shower on Saturday   Oh ya!  Mom helped me and it was so nice to be clean!  I had a real look, straight on, at the surgery site. It was my first time really seeing it, where as before I'd just look down at it when we were changing the dressings.  It looks great, it also looks different and a little funny, but mother reminded me to smile and remember how blessed I am, and she's so right.  This is my new life and though emotionally that has been tough at times, I feel the most difficult parts are behind me.  I am super blessed.

Mom and I were talking about his combined with my love of women and of people all over the glove - in some ways, she felt like this might be an invaluable experience so that I can better understand, even in some small ways, the many types of loss that so many women have and will go through.  They may be able to better trust me because of my experience.  Her thought rings true within me.  I feel grateful for the Lord's healing hand on me, my ability to feel aches and pains, and to hopefully use this experience to lift others on some future day, hopefully soon.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

One Week - Day 8

This post is only really for myself - I just can't believe it has been an entire week already.  So much healing has occurred, and yet, today, I spent most of the day in bed.  And that's okay, I hear.  It's impressive to me how much one little girl can sleep or rest or not do much of anything and still be tired and wear out quickly!  Funny.  But it's good for me, humbling, and reminds me of my mortality...and that last week at this time, I had a special experience and said hello to a new life :)

Again, thanks for everyone's love and support.  You've all been with me.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 7 - Pathology Report & the Drains

"All good news!"

Those were Dr. Loyd's comments as she shared the beautiful news of my pathology report this week. Before I continue, I'd like to say a word on faith and prayer - I truly believe that regardless of the outcome, all of our prayers have been heard and answered.  I've felt your faith lift me and help me do what I did not feel I could do on my own. Somehow, I have been given the gift of an amazing outcome and miraculous healing.  There are others with great prayers and faith who've had different outcomes, and I hope that I would and will be just as grateful and believing should a more difficult situation have been or become my path someday.

Pathology Report
* Lymph Nodes:  Confirmed clean!  All three that were biopsied and removed came back clean.  This means no chemo, and no spreading of cancer to other areas.  Still makes me a bit emotional.

* Top Region of Breast:  Clean also!  The surgery was a skin-sparing, nipple-sparing single mastectomy...and a few other words I don't remember, but this area had two strikes against it for me keeping it, but I just felt like it would be okay to at least try to keep as much of the outside as possible.  It is such a gift to be able to keep so much.

* Type:  All DCIS, none invasive, huge blessing.  From the MRI, the doctors had thought there was a good bit that might be invasive, so this was a great discovery for everyone, again a gift of no chemo.

* Size:  According to Dr. Loyd, because there was such a large amount and spread of the cell growth, from the skin to the chest wall, it looks like radiation will be recommended.  She is taking my case to a panel of doctors next week who will all examine it and determine what needs to be done.  If radiation is the recommendation, we'll look at our options and make the best choice possible.

Those came out last minute this evening.  It's so great to have them out - didn't realize how much I'd like that!  Dr. Self did such a great job taking them out.  I wish I could show you all, on a biological and anatomical level, how everything is looking...but of course, this is a bit more personal an area than say, my hand, so I won't be doing that, but seriously, the Lord is healing this area so beautifully.  There is no way to sing His praises enough.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Update as Day 4 Comes to a Close

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so very much for the incredible love you've showed me.  Just typing that brings tears to my eyes as this 4th day finishes.  I've been so in awe of the outpouring and incredible showering of love, prayers, and amazing support.  There are no words for how grateful I feel.

These past few days feel like a blur.

Wednesday evening, my bishopric gave me a blessing with mom, megs, and the relief society presidency present.  Though I'd felt great peace and calm earlier in the week, I again felt overwhelmed and under-prepared for the road I was about to take.  As the bishopric started the blessing, so did the calm, peaceful feelings I needed.  That night, as we got everything ready, I felt very taken care of, very supported, and I felt courage to take that road again, to alter my journey in the best way possible, guided by the best navigators (doctors) possible.

Thursday began in an almost dreamy, surreal way for me, at 4:15am.  Ben had spent several nights writing me a piano piece, and somehow I knew instinctively to check my email where I read his description and listened to his piece.  I felt the presence of additional family with me, as we headed to the hospital.  The next few hours happened so fast.  Favorite moments include me doing push-ups :) in the patient registration area while 5 hospital staff worked to get me registered on their new computer system, pastoral care praying with us, chilling and laughing with mom, megs, and Tim while we waited for the next nurse to assist us.  A special moment came in radiology after the nuclear injection when I lay there by myself, looking up into my reflection in the ceiling above me, my chest open, and praying to the Lord, thanking Him for the beautiful gift of having that left side for 33 years, for all that it blessed me with, and feeling from Him that it was okay to say thank you and goodbye.  Looking up at her and doing so, I felt so deeply an appreciation and gratitude for my body in a way I don't know that I've ever felt.

In pre-op there were hugs from everyone and good luck wishes, great positive, energetic vibes from my doctors (Dr. Loyd, Dr. Self, and Dr. Chun), I was marked up so that the procedure would occur properly, then some anesthesia, and I was out.  Next thing I knew, it was just like everyone has said, I was in recovery.  A beautiful, sweet paster came and prayed with me at the perfect time, right as I was missing my family, in pain before the morphine took affect.  She breathed with me and was so encouraging.  Dr. Self came in and told me the words that I will always remember, that my lymph nodes looked clean, most likely no chemo, no radiation.  How am I so blessed?

Visitors came throughout that day and the next bringing so much sunshine to lighten my room.  Mom helped me with the washroom, Tim, megs, and mom coordinated with everyone who wanted to know how I was doing, and they kept track of the information I needed to know.  I couldn't have been more taken care of.  The nurses, nurses aids, and hospital staff were amazing to me.  My bedroom now is a garden full of flowers.  Thank you to everyone!!  I feel so spoiled!  Day 2 was my birthday, and felt like such a great day, a beautiful day.  I was most likely clear of cancer and moving in a new direction.  I even ate a piece of chocolate birthday cake! So good :)

It's not possible to express how grateful I am for the experience of the past few days, the first two days were uniquely special to me.  It felt like I was being carried by angels.  The Lord's presence, assistance, and strength felt so tangible, I pray I never forget that, never stop thanking Him.  The outpouring of love from all of you was more beautiful than I will ever be able to express.  You lifted me, and brought me the sun.  As I move forward, it's obvious to me that pacing myself is critical for real healing to occur...just like everyone keeps telling me :).  I felt pretty weak for parts of yesterday and a good part of today, but it's okay.  That helps me appreciate times like tonight when my energy increased.

Mom keeps serving amazing meals, and megs is the best little nurse to me, remembering when I need to take things and emptying my drains.  Tomorrow, we'll hear the pathology report and will know for certain about the nodes and the other part of my anatomy for which we're waiting to hear.  I feel grateful, how can I feel anything but in awe of the Lord and His matchless power in my life?  He holds me in His hand, His angels fill my room, and I am protected, taken care of.  He is the source of any strength in me, and I pray I will lift my eyes to Him in sincere gratitude, no matter what bends lie in the road before me.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11: 28-30