My Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence (A Poem)

Living Beyond Breast Cancer's Blog

EliseBourneBusbyThe fear of recurrence, or fear of cancer coming back, is one of the most common worries among people affected by breast cancer. Elise Bourne-Busby, EdD, wrote this poem about her own fear of recurrence in anticipation of our free January webinar on this topic.

The fear that cancer may invade my body again
Keeps recurring daily in my brain,
I must change my habits, if I want to stay healthy
Good health is not cheap, I must re-assign my money,
Good nutrition first, eat only the best
Fresh fruits and vegetables, get plenty of rest,
No candy and soda, drink water every day
I am what I eat, and for this I must pay,
My immune system is the core of my being
My body is designed to do the Self–Healing,
I must treat my body kindly, I must help the process
Exercise a little more, eat a little less,

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A moment in time

 

 

I can finally put all my hair up. I was so excited that I posted this pic on Instagram!

I can finally put all my hair up. I was so excited that I posted this pic on Instagram!

It’s been awhile since I last posted an update. I’m not trying to make this a detailed post on the past 3 months, but rather to post an entry that I wrote over a year ago. However, I do owe my friends and family at least a little progress update 🙂

My last surgery (exchange) was June 18, followed by almost 4-weeks off of work. They were fantastic. I spent every single day with Gianna making Summer memories. On August 14 I finally got the OK to resume ALL normal activities-jumping, running, picking up Gianna, lifting. I’m focusing on running and building my upper body strength. I was never one who could do 10 push-ups with ease and now I can barely do 2! I feel good and I’m grateful to be where I’m at right now.

So here’s the entry that I found. Reading it reminds me how much I was really going through. Going through cancer had so many emotional moments and circumstances from a chemo infusion and wearing a scarf for the first time to a sweet a card that my Mom brought me to lift my spirits.

It is just a moment in time.

My third dance with the devil.

The “red devil” that is. I never wanted to attend this prom anyway, but here I am. It’s a very long dance but you bet your sweet booty I’m all fitted up and glam for the occasion. Kim-if you’re reading this….you are so right. Chemo diva. 🙂 The red devil is nickname of the type of chemo that is being slowly administered in my body every 2 weeks. So if that tells ya a lot. I’m almost half-way done with my treatments…yeah! I gotta tell ya, I thought I would’ve been in a peachy mood that morning and instead I was so emotional and not wanting to even go. Sometimes kicking cancer’s ass kicks my ass! But I want to share how this day slowly got better as it went on. 1-My Mom drove me to my appointment and we had a nice talk. I cried, she cried, it was a good mini therapy session. Mom’s always make things better no matter what age you are. 2-Then, the person who took my blood and did the honors of putting the first hole in my chest for the day happened to be a good-looking guy who just happened to be Cuban. Although he didn’t look like it all. We talked and shared some common stories about people who talk Spanish in front of us thinking we have no clue what they are saying. Then we respond with something Spanish only too see pure embarrassment across their shamed face. Seriously, right now its the little things that I have to take and make them grande! 3-The physician couldn’t even feel the tumor so praise the Lord Jesus for that! I really like her and we seem to have pretty similar personalities. My Mom was with me so she got to speak to her and ask the questions she’s been wanting to ask since the beginning of this whole deal. She also calmed my Mom’s fears that me going in the grocery story is not the worse thing I can do. Yes, she totally tripped out on me b/c I had to run in and grab something. Seriously, I didn’t even handle the cart or basket. AND it was like 10 days after my last chemo session. 4-Justin brought Gianna up to the hospital to see me. He also thought it would be good for her to see other people like me (port, no hair…you get the pic). So me, Justin, Gianna and my Mom had a nice 20 min hanging out in the lobby. Gianna brought my “monkey” that Justin won me sometime around Valentine’s Day. 4-My BFF sat with me during the dance with the devil. The Infusion last about 2 1/2 hours but it seems like it went fast. Then we called our other BFF and had her on speaker phone so it was like we were all 3 there. To Mandy + Mel…..luv luv luv you. 5- I wore a scarf in public for the first time!!! The scarf I was sportin was picked out by mi madre at the store inside of the hospital. Thanks Mom! Today was a little less crummy than yesterday. But I was working from home, so it kept my mind pretty occupied. My Mom also came over to clean and gave me an uplifting card with a pic that I’ve never seen! Its my cousin Michael and I in TJ when we were like 4 or 5….how cute is this pic! Then in the evening was time for the shot to build up my white blood cells. When we got home dinner was brought to us by Ana + James. THANK YOU GUYS! It was yummy. I can’t even tell you how moved I am by my co-workers, but deserves its own post I can’t do it justice on this right now. That’s all I have my friends.

Cheers to kickin cancer’s ass one day at a time!

 

I was so excited to finally put all my hair up. I posted this pic on Instagram back in July.


This was taken on Father's Day. My God, I love this man.

This was taken on Father’s Day. My God, I love this man.

My sissy pantalones graduated from USF! So pround of her!

My sissy pantalones graduated from USF! So proud of her!

I HATE this disease! (and all the others)

My heart is so heavy right now. I just found out  that one of my pink sisters in Christ has a brain tumor. Most likely it isn’t a new cancer. It’s likely to be mets to the brain.  I met her through a FB group and she actually use to live in the bay area and is now residing in Colorado. Upon my diagnosis, she immediately reached out to me and gave me so much useful information and advice as I was going through my treatments. She had been NED for a few years after having a recurrence of breast cancer (stage IV/lung). She is defying the odds. I say IS because I really do believe that she will continue to defy the odds for years to come. Please say a prayer for her and her family. She is so positive, real and thoughtful-I can only hope to have half the grace is does.

This week I also found out that a high school friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago just found out that she has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I mean WTF??? AND not too long ago a fellow blogger that I follow, found out her breast cancer spread to her lungs. For those that don’t know. That is stage IV. Incurable-they say. This is some scary shizz people! There’s so much DISEASE in this world…it sickens me and hurts my heart at the same time.

Speaking of disease, have you ever heard of mitochondrial disease? Gianna and I attended a walk this morning to support a friend of mine’s daughter who has it.  She’s a co-worker of mine and since her daughter was born she searched for answers to her condition. Her daughter is the cutest & endearing little girl. To read more about mitochondrial Disease click here .

Here’s a few sentences from the website describing the disease:

Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body except red blood cells. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common.

The physical and neurological effects can vary greatly from case to case. It’s a disease that mainly affects children but more adults every day are being diagnosed. Today I learned that every 30 minutes a child is born who has this disease! That’s a BIG number.  You know when you hear things about creating “awareness” for a disease….well, this is one that I would like for all my fellow followers to be aware of. Please take 1 minute to at least read about the disease. If your heart follows….please take another 2 minutes to donate to Kelsie’s Team. The walk was this morning but donations are still being accepted.  The walk this morning was called the Energy for Life Walk-a-thon and the team is called Kelsie’s Krusaders. To find out more info and make a donation to Kelsie please click here.

Gianna and a friends daughter walking for Kelsie!

Gianna and a friend’s daughter walking for Kelsie!

kids at kelsies walk

We actually got all the kids together for one photo! Kelsie with some of her friends!

Kelsies walk collage Kelsies shirt

My 4 month follow-up is tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day I see my beloved oncologist for my first follow-up appointment. This is the appointment where she asks me how I’ve been doing for the last couple months, if I’ve had any pain, concerns, etc. etc. By following other bloggers I’ve come to see the anxiety that sets in the days leading up to this appointment. Lucky for me, I’ve been preoccupied with my daughter. Well, I shouldn’t say lucky for me because honestly, I hate seeing her sick. She’s been fighting an upper respiratory infection since Friday night. Did I mention that the weather here in Florida has been nothing short of gorgeous and she’s felt so ill that neither one of us have enjoyed it?? We’ve been monitoring her temp 24/7 and now she has a cough that makes me hurt just hearing it. So the anxiety leading up to this appointment has been replaced with taking care of Gianna and 3 doctor appointments. Once of these appointments was for me and my foobs. I got another 70cc’s and I think I may have reached my max or close to it. The tissue expanders are so hard and today my chest felt really tight and uncomfortable. I’ve missed 2 days of work already and will have to miss another 1/2 day for my appt tomorrow.

A lot of people ask me if I got scanned after surgery to see if there are any cancer cells left in my body. The answer is “no” and I pray that I will never have to get scanned again. They only scan me if I’m symptomatic. In other words, if I’m feeling pain somewhere in my body. I’ve started running again, which feels awesome and I’ll be signing up for my first race in May.  Please pray for a boring and uneventful appointment tomorrow, as that means that all is well and I can continue to work on getting my life back to normal.  My family has been a tremendous part in that journey and going through something like a cancer diagnosis is something that no one wants to go through alone. In one of my first posts I said something about better things on the other side of this…..and those “things” are slowly becoming visible.

I’d rather save all my bragging about my husband for my blog versus Facebook. I don’t think FB is the forum for that anyway and since this is somewhat like my diary he definitely deserves a few lines of recognition. We already had such a strong history and passionate relationship, but going through this has put us in a whole other category that I can’t even explain. I thank God everyday for bringing us together. As many of you out there can relate…..without our amazing husbands our journey would be just that much more difficult. I’m 31 and since I was 15 years old he’s been one of my best friends. It makes days like tomorrow a little easier to face when you know the strength of the man you have standing beside you.

Like I said, I pray for a boring and uneventful follow-up tomorrow and I’ll be sure to post about it by the weekend. Until then….prayers please!!!

Total slacker

Somehow I’ve managed to completely ignore the blog world during the last 2 months. I mean, I’ve already gone back to work, started & finished radiation, AND Christmas is coming to an end. There’s been so many stories, feelings and venting that I could’ve written about been during the last few weeks, but my desire to write was pretty much non-existent. So for now, the only thing that makes sense to write about is where I am in this whole C thing. Here it goes…..

Radiation during the last 5 weeks was OK. Nothing horrible but def not a day at the beach. My last treatment was exactly a week ago tomorrow. I managed to make it through the first 4 weeks with little to no physical discomfort or skin reactions. But exactly 2 days before my last treatment my skin started reacting to the radiation by peeling. And underneath wasn’t this smooth layer of new skin. It was raw, pink and getting worse as the days go on. I can’t really sleep on my right side and at night is when I have the  most discomfort. My ribs are sore on the radiated side and I hear this is suppose to last anywhere from 1-6 months. I’ve been pretty much lathering up with Aquaphor every couple of hours and depending on what I’m wearing I have to put these gauze like pads on my skin. Unfortunately, the worst area is right underneath my arm. It’s constantly being rubbed up against something whether its my own arm, bra or clothing. The worse was when I wore  a dress with a zipper on the side. UGH. The doctor said it gets worse before it gets better. I must still be in the worse part.

Tired. Fatigue. Sleepy. These are just some other adjective to describe how radiation has affected me. Yesterday (Christmas Eve) was probably one of the worse days where fatigue set in. First, I went to work, then rushed home to change for what would be the first stop of many throughout the day. We had Christmas Eve lunch at Justin’s Uncles house. As always, we had a good time and left  feeling happy and full. Then we went to my uncle’s house then his Mom’s house. Doing all this with radiation fatigue and a 4 yr old can be a bit challenging. I was sooooooooooooo tired by 6pm! We didn’t get home until 10pm and then we stayed up wrapping the “Santa” gifts and getting everything ready for Christmas morning.

Geez, this post sounds like a big bitch fest. I have to end it with saying this. I’ve never appreciated family time during the holidays as much as I have this year. It was nice to go through the holidays knowing that I was cancer free. Now, I just need to make sure it stays that way. That is a whole other post for another day. Just not today. So with that I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and pray for happiness and health to all my family and friends. Looking forward to a relaxing day tomorrow. Maybe I’ll stay in PJ’s all day. Maybe.

My parents, sister and I on Christmas Eve.

My parents, sister and I on Christmas Eve.

My little punkin on Christmas morning.

My little punkin on Christmas morning.

I was outside of Toys R Us at 6:45am to get a ticket for the Doc McStuffens Care Center. No this wasn’t on black Friday or the weekend after Thanksgiving. This was just a normal Sunday morning in December. Apparently this was one of the “hot” toys this season. The best thing is that I got it for only $59.99 since they price matched with Target.

Deb’s OR Flash Mob

I saw this video this morning on Facebook. Below is the article I copied/pasted. Such an awesome video!! Would’ve been fun to do before my surgery, but I can honestly say this was the last thing on my mind as my nerves where outta control!

Original article:

Facing a double mastectomy with grace takes courage. Facing one with courage and joy is extraordinary.

But that’s exactly what Deborah Cohan did yesterday right before she went into surgery to have her breasts removed. Cohan, an Ob/Gyn and mom of two, held a dance party with her medical team in the operating room of Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco.

This inspiring 6-minute-long video, posted on YouTube, shows Cohan busting some serious moves as she wiggles and twerks to Beyonce’s hit “Get Me Bodied.” Cohan requested that friends and family make videos of themselves dancing to Bey too so that she could watch them during her recovery. “I have visions of a healing video montage,” she wrote. “Nothing brings me greater joy than catalyzing others to dance, move, be in their bodies. Are you with me people?”

They were. You can check out videos of Deborah’s fans shaking their booties in solidarity on her CaringBridge page.

Deborah, we wish you a speedy recovery. And can we go clubbing with you when you’re all better?

Back to the Grind!

Wow….what a week! I’m not sure where to even start with this post. Tomorrow this girl gets to put on her big girl pants and go back to work! I think I’m more mentally ready than I am physically. I’m excited to go back for many reasons. One being that we have some exciting things going on and I can’t wait to get back in the middle of it all! When you’re in marketing no day is the same, so I have no idea what I’ll be walking into.  Physically, I still get tired after an eventful day. During my leave from surgery naps have snuck their way into my day! There will obviously be no napping for me once I go back to work. Although I’ll only be working part-time tomorrow and Friday I’m sure I’ll be exhausted come 8pm. I am looking forward to our Friday night as we will be going to a little carnival here in Brandon called the November Fest. I’m such a dork but I truly am looking forward to it. Both Justin and I are nerdy like that. We may love it even more than Gianna. But whats not to love? Family time, memories, rides, fun houses, beer, elephant ears….need I say more??

What else this week? Now to the not so fun parts. On Monday Gianna got an infection again (same one for the second time). She’s doing much better and its cleared up tremendously thanks to antibiotics and some cream that I can’t even pronounce. Staph infections are no joke and this is the second one she’s had in the last two months. We also have a very close family member that was admitted into ICU last night. If you don’t mind please keep her in your prayers. It’s very serious but also lovely to see family come together for the ones they love.

I start radiation next week. On to the next lap in the marathon. Did I mention I got my port removed Tuesday????? I’m so happy b/c it really stuck out on me bad and Florida weather calls for tank tops even in the October & November months!

Sweet dreams-this girl has a career to go on with tomorrow!

Obviously I'm the only one who took Halloween seriously in this pic! haha!

Obviously I’m the only one who took Halloween seriously in this pic! haha!

Even better news than we thought.

Best.news.ever.

On Tuesday I had my post op appt and received what I consider to be the best news we’ve received since this whole C thing became a part of my life. Chemo killed the MFer. There was NOTHING left of it and it has been 100% confirmed that cancer was never in my lymph nodes. So the 7mm of cancer that the doctor saw during surgery turned out to be NOTHING but part of my tissue.  Let me say that again, in a different way. I AM CANCER FREE AND THAT IS A FACT. A truer fact than it was last week.  Living in the present has never been a  thing that comes natural to me, so I had to ask how this all relates to my future and long-term prognosis. His exact words were, “ It has everything to do with it”. My prognosis is excellent and although there is no guarantee that the little son of a bitch will never return, we damn sure killed every bad cell that was in my body.  We’ll proceed with some insurance that comes in the form of radiating beams. That starts in less than a month.

Aside from having the most shittiest sleep I’ve ever had-I’m doing ok after surgery. I can’t drive so I’m kinda at the mercy of others but with two drains, (I had 4 but the doc removed 2 of them on Tuesday) going out isn’t at the top of my priority list right now. And going from a DD to a whatever I am now is kinda nice. Justin said I look like an A/B-cup. Hopefully I can get one more fill before I start radiation.

I really appreciate all the emails, text messages, FB messages, flowers and cards from everyone. Hugs and kisses to all of you! XOXO

The days leading up to surgery

Its day 5 after my surgery and I must say I feel pretty darn good. I am on some good pain meds and I know that has a lot to do with it-Lol! I wanted to document how I felt the day leading up to my surgery. But first, I have to write about the Sunday before. It was a great start to my surgery week.

Sunday morning I went to church. I went by myself because Gianna wanted to sleep in with Daddy.   I know what some of you are thinking—I can’t believe he didn’t go with her! Especially, right before surgery. Listen, I grew up with my Mom going to church most Sundays without my Dad. For me, its normal. Would I love for him to go- absolutely! In time, I believe he will make his way to that 3rd to the last pew in the center isle.

Thankfully my Mom and I go to the same church so I knew she’d be there. I sang my heart out to one of my favorite songs, Going Through the Motions by Matthew West. If you haven’t heard it I urge you to look it up-it applies to us all. After church we all went to my parents house for some yummy Spanish food. My Mom loves to cook for her fam & it definitely comes through in the food. By the time we got home from my parents it was around 4. My two BFFs were coming over to spend some QT with me before my surgery. Amanda brought Kendal with her so Gianna was happy to have some company too. Jose Cuervo also made a visit, but I didn’t really entertain him much. We talked, ate, chilled, laughed and before leaving Melissa wanted to say a prayer. I didn’t even think about doing that with all of us and I’m so glad we did b/c I think it was such an awesome, powerful moment. Melissa led the prayer as we all stood in a circle in the middle of my kitchen holding hands. It was me, Chanty, Kendal, Gianna, Melissa and Amanda. Justin’s not much into prayer (I do believe he will be saved one day) but half-way through the prayer he came over and held mine and Gianna’s hand. After “amen” we all hugged each other and cried. I can’t explain it but what I do know is that God gave me the most amazing friends.

 The day before surgery 10/8/13

The day before my surgery (Tuesday)  started like every other day. I dropped Gianna off at school and headed to work. The plan was for me to work 1/2 a day and then pick up Gia from school early to spend the afternoon together. She was so excited for our mommy/daughter time. I knew I wouldn’t be carrying any big pumpkins soon so I wanted to take her to the pumpkin patch so she can pick out her big pumpkin before things got a little strange for this 4 year old.

Before even making it inside her classroom she was out of her chair telling her friends, “My Mommy is here and I’m going to the pumpkin patch!”. Gianna had been telling her classmates  and teacher all day that we were going to the pumpkin patch! Mrs. Ferguson said that she told everyone that Mommy was picking her up early. That seriously made me feel awesome!

At the pumpkin patch she picked out her big pumpkin plus 6 little ones. Afterwards, we went for ice cream at Menchies. She LOVES that place! I didn’t talk to her about what the days ahead were going to be like. That’s not what this time was about. I wanted to make her day and some memories that she would always remember-I mean, how many kids get out of school to go pick out pumpkins and eat ice cream! I don’t really remember much of that evening at home though-I know that’s pretty weird.

On Wednesday (surgery day), we arrived at Moffitt at 7:45am…..15 minutes late. Are you surprised?!  The first thing they did was inject me with blue dye. One reason is so the surgeon can see what lymph nodes to take out. Even though my MRI showed no cancer cells there could still be microscopic cancer cells left behind. The surgeon took out 1-2 lymph nodes from each side-they appeared clear of cancer but, we won’t know for sure until I get the pathology report.

After they injected the dye there was nothing left to do but wait. Before going into surgery, my Mom and my best friends Mom Barbara came to see me. We talked a little bit about the stress that Amanda and I put them through during high school. Lets just say we were far from angels. Before going back-we held hands and said one last prayer. Barbara prayed out loud which is a HUGE thing for her. I’m so happy that she did it under these circumstances. Barbie-thank you for being there for my Mom….you are a beautiful person. I know where Manda gets her big heart from.

That’s pretty much all I wanted to document if not for you, for me. I know 10 years from now I won’t remember all the details in this chapter. Some are good some are bad. But these are the pages I want to leave highlighted