Friday, June 28, 2013

On The Road Again

The beautiful flowers, cards & duck I recieved.

That is an old country song that will sometimes pop into my head on my way back to work after having some time off work.  I have been on a very different road for the last month than my normal 100 mile per day commute.  I was really at peace and so thankful for the early diagnosis, but still much had to be done.  Before getting my surgery I had tests and decisions.  Dr. Sharon and Robin explained to me that as far as surgery went I had 2 choices, lumpectomy or mastectomy.  Dr. Sharon said the cancer was not close to any skin surface, so the skin sparing technic was available for me if I chose mastectomy.  Either way reconstruction was possible and covered by insurance.  Also, they expected the one small cancer to be completely removed either way.  If the lumpectomy was chosen, I would need to also have radiation.  Though that would be far easier to recover from, there were some downfalls.  For one, that the risk of cancer reoccurring would remain higher.  Also, radiation causes tissue and maybe even muscle damage which could limit the usefulness of my arm.  Lastly, it could damage the skin and interfere with future reconstruction.  That is actually what happened with my mom.  When she got cancer again, 18 years later, on the chest wall of her mastectomy side, they had to graph skin due to the damaged radiated skin.  I had an MRI to attempt to verify that there were no other spots.  It actually detected a different spot of concern also in my right breast, but it did clear the left.  I learned that dense breast tissue causes an independent increased risk of getting breast cancer in my life.  The average risk is currently 1 in 8 women.  Dense tissue also interferes with visibility and makes mamos less affective in detection.  Additionally, with my mom’s history of breast cancer twice and ovarian cancer (praise God for her early detections and survival) I had pretty much decided that a mastectomy was the wisest decision.  I also got the BRCA1 & BRAC2 genetic tests done.  I don’t know if my mom has those genes since she had not gotten that testing, but with her history it would not have been a surprise.  Those genes so drastically increase the cancer risk that I thought it likely that a double mastectomy would be wisest if they were positive.  I am so thankful those result were negative, even though my girls swore they would treat me like Angelina Jolie.  It would have been twice the pain and discomfort.  On top of that, there would have been concern for my girls and not knowing if they had the gene.  After the surgery, the final pathology showed the known DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), a benign spot and a LCIS (Lobular Carcinoma In Situ).  The LCIS is not really a cancer, but is a pre-cancer and an additional risk factor.  So, that confirms that the mastectomy was the best option.  The re-construction process was started by placing a temporary inflatable (with saline) implant at the time of the surgery.  It was partially filled and added to the pain and discomfort.  It has been 2 weeks now and I am still dealing with some discomfort, but most of the pain is now past.  The re-construction must be done that way because the trauma to the skin and reduced blood supply makes it too difficult for it to withstand the standard implant at the same time.  I would remain with increased risks of cancer occurring in the other breast, but there are now anti-estrogen drugs that I will likely take to prevent it.  I have been resting and doing very little for these 2 weeks.  Still some of the remaining pain, the Dr. said, was probably from overdoing it.  I don’t know how, I have done so little, but it is difficult to make myself do everything left handed.  My girls have been such a blessing, waiting on me hand and foot without any complaints.  I have the greatest most loving family.  My family in the Lord and friends have also been great.  The kind thoughts, prayers, cards and flowers have given encouragement and enjoyment.  I am starting to get impatient and bored, but remain thankful and happy.  This will soon pass and could have been far worse.  God’s riches blessings to all!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Dark Cloud with a Silver Lining

This is the beautiful handmade and handwritten card my surgeon gave me.

I had finally gone and gotten my annual mammogram, after neglecting setting the appointment for several months.  It wasn’t purposefully, though that is never looked forward to, life is just busy.  Then they called me back for a diagnostic mamo.  This was not a surprise, as in my case with dense breast tissue, visibility is worse and they have done that before.  So there was nothing to be alarmed about.  After the close up shot, the radiologist recommended a needle biopsy.  Of course that is not what you want to hear, but after speaking to some friends I was not too concerned about the procedure.  They use a machine with a screen, locate the spot and the machine knows right where to go get it.  Gotta love technology!  I got it on May 8th and it wasn’t that bad.  The biggest pain was in my neck and shoulder due to the awkward position.  I wasn’t really worried but began to think “What If”.  Being that I am 51 and my Mom was 51 when she got breast cancer it seemed more possible.  Then the May 9th Daily Bread reminded me not to worry, “If God is for us, who can be against us. - Rom 8:31”.  Finally I gave a ride to a friend from work and he told me about a lady at work that had been through breast cancer, in case I ended up needing to talk to anyone.  All of this and some prayer had me prepared to hear the news.  I had peace and was not worried.
I got the confirmation on Monday.  They told me that it was small and low grade, which was good to hear but still a little vague.  Robin, at work, told me all about her experience.  She has been a great help and support and very sweet.  I called her highly recommended surgeon, Dr. Ingrid Sharon, on Tuesday and got in on a cancellation the very next day.  She was happy to give me the news that my cancer was Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) which means it is contained and not spread at all.  It is slow growing and so small that it cannot have even gotten to the lymph nodes.  All that means it is Stage 0 and no need for chemo!  Honestly, I didn’t even know there was a Stage 0.  Dr. Sharon was so informative providing me a whole notebook of information.  She was also very compassionate.  She has a nurse assistant that sets up all my appointments and is always available for questions.  Dr. Sharon even turned out to be a Christian.  She told me that the radiologist did a good job reading the mamo as it was not real obvious.  Thankfully the new digital mamos give better pictures.  Also, that they caught it because I had classifications which made it visible and look suspect.  Not everyone forms the classifications and they do not mean it is cancer, but they are more concerned when many are close together.  I only had 3 specs but they were close together. 
I am just so overwhelmingly thankful.  So many things have worked out for me.  I know the Lord is looking out for me.  Even in my mistake of neglecting to do the mamo on time, God was so merciful to me.  It may well have been that it might not have been seen for another year, had I gone on time.  God has also helped my family to trust him and not worry.  All my family, church family and friends have been so supportive and kind.  The surgery will be a challenge, but I cannot be anything but thankful.  As my dear Aunt Suellen said “There is always someone that has it a lot worse off than I”.  I know of many that are in my prayers daily.  I appreciate any prayers for me, but hope you also pray for so many others who also need help and healing more desperately than I.  So, go get your digital mamos ladies, thank God for technology and praise God for his goodness, kindness and mercy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Gall and the Good

Last Tuesday I got my gallbladder removed.  I had discovered after a rare high fat intake day that the mild pain that I occasionally got was not so mild.  The pain killers didn't work so well and I was up again a 3AM for more.  An ultrasound revealed gall stones.  It wasn't urgent, but there was an opening, so I elected to get this over with.  The surgery was later in the day, so I wasn't quite ready to leave the same day as was the hope.  My Mom was with me all day and my girls came up in the evening after they got off work.  As the service in the hospital was slow, it was wonderful to have them there to wait on me.  I am so happy to still have my Mom with me since she has been through so much and survived cancer 3 times.  The girls helped me walk around the floor and we judged all the art in the hallway.  That and some special prayers saved me from enduring one of those many unpleasant procedures they do to you in the hospital.  I have no doubts about the love they all have for me, but there is special about seeing it acted out for me.  I got a great number of prayers, well wishes, calls, texts and cards.  Though I was up and down all night, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for the good procedure and the great care and compassion that I received.  How blessed and happy I am to have such family, friends and brothers & sisters in Christ!!!  One sweet sister brought me this beautify teapot of flowers and chocolates.  My girls have waited on me all week.  They are incredibly good, kind and fun.  The only problem was it hurt when they made me laugh.  My life is so much richer with them.  I am not too sore now, however my energy level is still pretty low.  I can't wait to get these tapes off at the Dr. tomorrow, they are itchy and annoying.  The stitches are supposed to dissolve.  In closing, I just want to say how grateful I am & a big thank you to all those people and my to Lord!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Awesome video by David Crowder Band.  We will miss you guys!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Butterfly Project Entry

This is a colored pencil drawing of the concept I submitted for the Butterfly Project. If accepted I will get a 3 ft aluminum butterfly to paint with this design and a stipend for materials. The finished piece would be displayed somewhere in Colorado Springs. At the end of the summer they are auctioned off and the proceeds benefit Art & Music in schools. I will find out next week. I'm not sure if I stand a chance, but it was fun to submit and a great cause.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Brightside in My Life

My oldest daughter Sarah just had a birthday. I am so thankful to God for the gift of her. She was born just in time to be my first Mother’s Day present. I am very proud of her and the person she has become. She loves the Lord and is seeking to grow in her faith. He has gifted her with wonderful creative talent. She has worked hard and has gotten an Associate’s Degree in Visual Communications and her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art with an emphasis in photography. She can find and capture beauty in places where we would never imagine. You have to see her work to understand. You can start by looking at her blog at thebrightsidestudio, then her website, Etsy shop and Flickr site. She loves to find, capture and enjoy simple pleasures. Sarah is an inspiration to me and an encouragement to appreciate life and many blessings. It is awesome how God makes each of us and what we can do for each other. I was reminded of the day she was born. We were in a nice birthing room with lots of big windows. It was a cloudy day. Just after she was born the sun came out and she squinted at the brightness. Her late Grandma Moore affectionately called her “My Sunshine”. Now isn’t it amazing how things turn out. I love her so much and pray that she will have many opportunities to use her talents.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Counting Blessings

I estimate this to be a great way to start a new year. Here is my list –

Jesus – My savior and lord. He is the lover of my soul, friend and constant help in times of need. I can’t imagine living without Him.
Mom & Dad – Always loving and caring for me, our family and many others. They have always been great examples of patience, love and commitment in their marriage.
Sarah – My oldest and college student. She loves Jesus and tries to live for Him. She inspires me to appreciate the beauty that God has given us and the special and unique abilities that he has given every person. She is a great cook and servant to our family.
Stephen – My only son. He has renewed his commitment to the Lord and is in pursuit of God’s will in his life. He has always had a kind heart. He enjoys good clean fun and making others happy.
Sandi – My youngest. She loves Jesus and has compassion for those in need, especially children. She is has a dramatic personality. She can tell a story in such a way that will keep you in stitches. She also has the greatest hugs.
Family – They are all unique and very special to me. They are a lot of fun to be around.
Friends – Over the years I have had many friends. I may not always get to see them often, but I know they would be there for me if I needed them.
Church – My brothers and sisters in Christ. There are many serving the Lord and each of us with their gifts and abilities. Though we all make our mistakes, it is wonderful to know their care and prayers. I have seen many dear people come and go over the last 28 years. It is good to know that if I never saw them again in this life, I would in our eternal lives.
Other – A great (but difficult) job that God has blessed me with enough brains to manage to do and not too much that I stay humble. My home, a beautiful state to live in, awesome Contemporary Christian music, great Christian radio programs, art (to see and create), games and good times with friends & family, great food, good health, etc., etc….

I hope that everyone has a long list like mine that they can make, even in difficult times. We all have times of trials, losses and hurts, but we can still find the good if we look. Like my Aunt Suellen always says “There is always someone worse off than me”, and she is getting ready to start Chemo again.

God Bless,