Saturday, October 27, 2012


Good Morning!

Had Chemo #10 yesterday!  Chemo went smooth as can be.  I arrived a little early, they got me back there and boy was it a crowded Friday.  They told me I could have my own room, but I have kind of liked to sit on the floor with other people lately.  I don't talk to anyone, but I feel like taking a room for such a short treatment is a little selfish.  Some of these people are there a lot longer and may need more time to rest and relax and I am sitting there logged in to work and talking to almost all the nurses these days about my boys and amaze them when I tell them I don't have to take any anti-nausea medicine, my hands and feet are not tingly, I have not lost my taste of smell and taste and I do not get short of breath doing things.  Yes this is all amazing stuff and I think I enjoy hearing this from them, it gives me the support I need for the week from them to look past these small side effects and keep going!

My blood levels are about the same.  Hemoglobin back to 8.7 from 8.6 and WBC , what am I talking about, they went from 2.3 to 2.7 so they are on the rise.  Still would have a lot to rise to get me to surgery if that were approaching and still have one more Carbo scheduled for next week which will probably knock them down one final time before surgery.

Speaking of surgery, This week is going to be information overload and I know will cause a lot of extra anxiety for me so I will need a lot of extra prayers!  Wednesday morning we meet with the Plastic surgeon.  I have not met him before, Dr. Fine out of Northwestern.  My understanding is he comes in after the removal of my breasts from the surgeon to do an hour or so of work to reconstruct as much as possible and put in what are called expander's.  The expander's will allow my skin to be stretched some so that when I get my implants, they will fit like a glove:)  Again, I only know from others and books I have read but it sounds like every so often I will see him to have saline pumped into my expander until I am the size I want to be so it seems like he and I will be getting extremely close since I have decided I should shoot for the starts and request double EE implants some day!  Totally kidding!  My plan is to go as natural as possible and just thank God that they can do things like this to still make me feel like a women after having so much taken away.  But like someone posted on my Facebook awhile back, "Heck yeah, these are fake, the real ones tried to kill me".  Plus who else gets a all paid night in the hospital and implants paid for?  Okay, don't answer that, because Most breast cancer patients do get this, but I'm trying to find the positive in getting fake boobs!  After this appointment Don and I will probably try to go to Gino's East and have some yummy pizza and process as much as possible.  Then we head home and the first time in the history of kids, I will be home for Trick or Treating!  YES!  I could always have requested off at work to leave early in years past but I never have.  I work with a lot of people who have kids and have always had others request and did it on a first come first basis, but always put them ahead of me and had I been working this day, I would have done the same thing because I know myself too well.  But I need and deserve this so this appointment being rescheduled for this day was meant to be!

Thursday will be a normal work day with just blood work at lunch time. Then Friday it is back to Northwestern to meet with Dr. Bethke who is the surgeon.  His appointment is at 8:30 in the morning so this will be an early morning.  I need my brain to work and I need to have as many questions out there that I can think of.  He has one shot to go in and remove this stupid cancer.  So this appointment will be difficult not only to pick his brain but also I know it will entail seeing a lot of pictures of mastectomies and this might actually raise more fear in me.  I have researched and act brave, but this surgery I know will have an emotional impact on me and seeing pictures and picturing myself waking up at a hospital and have lost some of my women hood, as easy as I say it will be to have that stupid tumor out, I know it will be emotional.  Plus he needs to get it all?  What do you give a Dr. to bribe them?  Anybody have any ideas?  That is the important part, he needs to get it all!  I was thinking I could find out his favorite treat and bring it to him the day of surgery?  I can't pay for a trip to the Caribbean for him right now, but ideas?  Or do I just bring 2 gorgeous pictures of my boys and threaten him?  Maybe that is the best bet! After this appointment we head to Naperville for a noon appointment with Dr. Hantel where I have a lot of questions as well and then a double treatment that day.

So a huge week approaching and my throat is closing just thinking about it.  Please pray that there is no negative in any of these appointments.  I need to hear we are moving forward with surgery and that is that.  I do need to ask the tough questions of what if it is in more lodes than originally thought or if they don't get it all so I know the next steps for that too, but more importantly, I need my next steps if they get it all and I go to radiation and my follow ups that will be required to keep me cancer free.  Again this is the only way, but this lump in my throat will not go away until I know and I may just ask one of these guys for some meds to get me through the four weeks between chemo and surgery.  Those weeks will be long and painful for me.  No treatment and my fears will be sinking in I'm sure.  Plus a breast MRI to get size will put into perspective the size of this stupid thing for real!  Right now we go by my feeling it daily and analyzing the size and Dr. Hantel feeling it every 3 weeks and always being happy with the results but following it up that some women you can't even find the tumor at this point.  So good mixed with bad news.....

So prayers is all I can ask from everyone during this time.  I do have some things planned with my head shaver friends to get my Christmas shopping completed and wrapped and Thanksgiving is in there....I love Thanksgiving and have a lot to be thankful for this year, but I will be more thankful that this year is coming to an end.  It started out wonderful with the arrival of Ryan, but I would have to say the bad has outweighed the good.  I love him to death and I know he lead me to discovering this tumor, but I have missed so much of his growing up.  He is cruising furniture for Gods sake.  When did he learn this?  It makes me want to rewind to watch everything he has done, but I never want to look back and that is sad because that means not looking back on a lot of his firsts!  Some day I hope I can.  The good news is he won't remember this bad time and someday we will have to tell him all about it.

Justin had a good week, but not without injury.  He was enjoying recess at school earlier this week and stood up under a bridge outside and bumped his head causing a screw or bolt of some sort to go into his head.  Yes, it went in his head.  The school nurse called and told me they had controlled the bleeding, but I needed to get there.  When I told her I was about 30 minutes away since I was up at work, she scared me more by saying I needed to send someone closer.  Good thing Whitney is at our house and is mother of the year!  She was able to load up Ryan and go get him to meet me at the Pediatrician office. If she weren't here, I am not sure what they would have done since no one would have been able to get there any quicker than I could have.  Oh well, the Dr. cleaned it up really nice and decided there was not a need for stitches.  Justin of course was worried because his Khaki's were covered in blood and so was his shirt.  He wasn't sure I could get it cleaned up, but I did!  He was also worried because Thursday was picture day. Good thing this was on the top of his head.  I think all of the blood was due to a head injury, but he is fine and we are thankful and remind him most little kids by this point have been to the Dr. several times for falling or need stitches, so he is good!

One story from treatment and then I'm off to get some door busters shopping while the roids are still kicking!  Yesterday I sat next to a women who looked about my age.  She had on a pink shirt so I will imagine she is a breast cancer fighter like me.  Because I spend so much time in there, I can tell sometimes based off of the drugs what they are fighting.  Well, she wasn't getting drugs she was getting blood.  So this made me realize she was probably there all morning and had some time to go.  I thought, I should strike up a conversation with her. She was alone and Don was parking the car.  Then I thought, no I'll just log in to work and glance at her a few times in case she wants to talk to me.  Eventually she fell asleep so I knew talking wasn't the right thing, she was wiped out.  Finally the nurse came to wake her up to tell her it was time to go.  She was trying to wake up and I stand up and was struggling so bad.  I hope it was just because she was awoken, but I am not sure.  Her poor voice was so weak and the nurse had to help her up.  It was almost to the point where I wanted to un-hook my stuff and go help the nurse get her out.  Then it clicked, I am a patient, I am probably just as sick as her or possibly more sick.  I feel good about this next comment, but I just don't get it.  How is it that I can walk in there and open my lap top and work and be unfazed by the chemo side effects?  How do I not need help walking out of there every week with treatments and a transfusion under my belt?  I go in and walk up and down 2 flights of stairs every Thursday and Friday.  For God sake I just discovered 2 weeks ago that there was closer parking for the cancer center.  Before that I was parking usually on the third floor and running in heels to the cancer center for testings.  I walk up and down 3 flights of stairs to get to my counselor's office each week.  Am I really a super hero and don't know it?  Have I blocked this out completely that I don't recognize the side effects?  If so, is that something good to do?  I don't know, and I am not wanting to compare myself to this poor girl who looks to be going through hell, but I did thank the good Lord for my strength and not taking that away from me through this ugly fight.  People tell me all the time, my mindset is perfect and I'm strong, but I always say yes I know but I have my moments of weakness far too often too, but this was a wake up call for me.  I'm an strong like bull!

Okay, one more story and then I'm going.  Last week we were at Kohls getting a winter coat for Ryan. Whitney was off looking at some other coats and I had Ryan on the floor putting a coat on him.  A women approached me with tears in her eyes and said "I just need to hug you" I didn't know what to say but I accept her hug and a kiss on the cheek.  I tell her I am almost done with chemo and I'm feeling good and then she tells me her husband is fighting stage 4 brain cancer.  She tells me all the places she has taken him to try to heal him.  She had 3-4 kids (I don't know, I was trying to let my eyes water but not break into tears).  So add this family from Kohl's to your prayers.  Here she is living hell every day with traveling everywhere for a cancer that will probably take her poor husband from her far to soon and she was concerned with helping me get Ryan in a coat.

With that, I leave you with some prayer requests, for the family above.  For my good pen pal that I have found through my cousin Amy who was diagnosed in September and just completed the first 4 rounds of the hardest drug I think in the world....A/C.  She is off to weekly treatments like me and I we are helping each other every step of our journey together.  So prayers for her.  Prayers for my sister in law Lauren and her family.  Her mother was diagnosed about a month ago.  The tumor is very small fortunately, but she will have her surgery this Thursday.  Prayers for her surgery and recovery to go smoothly and most of all for her and them to get the piece of mind that the tumor is gone and that it did not travel to any nodes and she will be DONE after Thursday!  And of course for us that we get the answers we need this week and I can control my anxiety.  Most of all shrink this damn thing so I can feel like I have that under my belt!!!

I will post an update with pictures from Halloween this week so stay tuned!

Lots of Love


Friday, October 19, 2012

# 9

Another Friday checked off!  Almost hate to see the day come to an end.  That means 1 more step closer to ending chemo.  I hope to never go back to it EVER, but you know why I say that!  This month being Breast Cancer Awareness month is good and bad.  I'm so sick of the commercials, but yet the articles being published are coming at just the right time.  They are touching on all of my fears recently and also showing young survivors!  Why is this happening to younger and younger women?  Next, why is this Triple Negative form being found more and more after a women gives birth and stops breast feeding?  I just came across a 3rd blog this past week of a women that was diagnosed the same as me.  She was a cancer research Doctor.  It is always diagnosed late and blamed on breast feeding complications at first by the OB.....I see a need for more research on this since it is not linked to hormones and also promoting for testing after a pregnancy and finally an OB taking their patient serious whether or not they are nursing.  I'm sick of hearing this. Hmmmm anyone with me?  

Some have heard, but Saturday started this next week with a bang!  Literally!  Don and Justin went out bowling for the afternoon and on their way home were involved in a car accident.  A guy going North (Don going south) lost control and spun over a median and Don couldn't stop in time, it was raining so I think this might have caused it.  Thank GOD no one was hurt.  Don and Justin were untouched and the guy in the other truck was taken to the hospital but released.  I think he hit his head on the windshield.  Very scary for all, but since no one was injured, I am letting it go.  Don was able to go work out a deal and get a new / used car today.  We went with a Hyundai Santa Fe.  We just took delivery of my work Porsche Panamera and turned in our SUV that was well on its way to SUV heaven and used what we made on that to pay off our  Saturn.  Doesn't that always happen to people?  So 2 new cars in our driveway in a month.  Not exactly what we had planned, but again, let it go!  Life is out of my control.  And I have to learn that.  We discussed in counseling yesterday.  I have to get used to that.  

Other than that little but big mishap, it was a good week.  I started out tired and a little emotional but again, see above.  Justin had a dentist appointment without any cavities and Ryan had his flu shot.  Whitney and Wendy helped out with those.  Thank God for both of them.  They have really allowed Don and I to stay at work as much as possible and do afternoon appointments rather than scheduling around or consuming an evening at the Dr. when I'm so tired!  Oh and shouldn't be sitting in a Pediatric office with low counts!  Speaking of, my counts dropped a little this week.  WBC went to 2.2 from 2.7 and hemoglobin went from 8.6 to 8.4.  This is normal after Carbo, which was last week.  I just hope they start to rise or don't lower more next week.  

Treatment took a little longer today. Started at 1:30 and I think the pharmacy was at lunch so I had to wait around.  They can't mix chemo until you are weighed so I get it, but it is a little annoying.  Whitney met me there for a nice break from little kids to take care of her big sister! Love that she did that for me.   We did talk and catch up without chasing Ryan around, which was probably nice a nice break for her.  She is my "Soldier" (new favorite song from Gavin DeGraw)  This song does not fit completely because it talks about others not being there while she is and that is far from the truth, but love the song and has a good message, but don't take that the wrong way, I have so many Soldiers that I am smiling thinking about it, Just another song to plug!  Maybe this song is old news, but I don't think so.  Soon it will be over played like "Home"!  

Justin completed his first Book It Month at school so after treatment I picked him up and ordered his free pizza and stopped to pick up Madagascar 3 while we waited for the pizza.  So our evening was nice together watching his movie and just relaxing.  He is still loving Kindergarten and is really catching on to the site words!  So cool to watch him learn!  Wendy is going to go this week to help his teacher with some testing.  This is great because she will get to use her principal skills and spy on Justin! Ryan is crawling and has found out he can go from the laying position to sitting on his own this week, He was also caught by Whitney standing up against the couch while she turned around for just a few seconds!  His teeth that I talked about right after I was diagnosed decided to break the skin so you can kind of believe me now that he was and is getting teeth!  Oh and the race is on between he and I.  His hair started growing so quickly all of a sudden, but guess what?!  So did mine!  I have sprouts coming back!  I know it will take awhile before the wig will come off, but 2 weeks ago I asked Don and Whitney to look and they both I think just said they saw it, but didn't.  Now I look like an old man that is balding!  Still super thin and sparse, but it is coming back and taking out the garbage a week or so ago, I felt the wind in it!  So the race is on to see who needs a hair cut first!

Well, it is time to catch up on the DVR and fall asleep!  Roiding it again tonight so may be an early morning for me.  Just to let you know what I did at 2 this morning when I got up was clean out the refrigerator.  How fun does that sound?  It was nice!  It needed it, we cooked up a storm this past week and it was garbage day!

Good night to all and enjoy another weekend!  Prayers appreciated.  No more mishaps for us.  We need a good trouble free worry free week!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

8 down 4 to go---OH NO!

Good Morning,

Early morning in the Naughton house!  Ryan is not sleeping well these days!  Maybe he assumes I'm up roiding and should keep me company.  What he doesn't understand is this roid time is one of my favorite parts of the week that I look forward to.  I love my kids to death, but to be awake and choose what Amber wants to do is kind of fun!  

This week caught up with me.  Jess was in all weekend and with my girlfriends that came Saturday, I didn't get a lot of extra rest.  This is nobody's fault but my own, but I knew if I laid down they would talk about me:)  So I tried to hang out the best I could.  On Sunday after the walk I did get a nap in and as sisters we just vegged all day.  Monday morning I woke up with every intention to go to work.  I took my nice long shower and while in the shower realized my muscles ached like an older women from the walk.  So I did the quick calculation of what time I would have left if I stayed home.  I know I know, with everything going on, is one day off going to hurt?  And the answer was no!  So I decided to get out of the shower and find the most comfortable lounge wear possible and came downstairs to surprise Jess (my older sister) who had been up with Ryan that I was going to stay home.  I took 2 naps that day and that was when it hit me that staying home to regain my energy and laugh with my sisters what just what I needed.  Justin didn't have Kindergarten, but at 10 decided he wanted to go to day care to see his friends so he was off to play for the day so we only had 1 little one roaming (when I say roaming, I mean it) the house with us!  The rest of my week was smooth.  I felt a tad tired but really refreshed.

Thursday was blood work and they actually called which scared me because I missed the call.  But the message was my hemoglobin has risen to 9 (last week 8) and my WBC are still just hanging at 2.7, but both were good for me to get my double drugs yesterday Carbo and Taxol.  Funny story about blood work....So I will remind you on treatment day I wear a turban, yoga pants and a hooded sweat shirt.  There is no need to dress up when you sit in a recliner and are getting poisoned.  But Thursdays for my blood work I am going on my lunch. So I have my wig on and am dressed in work attire.  Well I had to get a new wig and it came in the mail on Wednesday so Thursday was my first day breaking it in.  It is the same exact wig, but of course just like going to a hair dresser for a hair cut, usually it is a tad different.  My new one is a tad longer than the last and the bangs need broken in so they go to the side like I like to wear them.  I think the cut on my new wigs bangs are a little shorter so they are getting in my face more.  So I was a little nervous about this at work on Thursday because like I told the girl that I got the wig from, I wanted the exact same so no one would notice.  She is wonderful and has a great shop in California called "Lemonade Locks".  I was referred to her from her wonderful aunt and family friend Diana!  I could not thank you enough.  This wig is a hit and I get tons of compliments!  If you know someone in need, I would definitely recommend her, especially if you are in the CA area!!! So back to my story, one of my favorite nurses was doing my blood work and she said "I love your hair" so I think she has noticed the new wig so my response was "yeah, it was time for a hair cut".  She looked at me with such confusion that I realized she has never seen me without a wig since I usually don't see her on Thursday when I'm dressed.  So I decide to play some more.  "My bangs are a little shorter than usual, but they grow so fast, in no time they will be back to where I like them".  HA!  again, still confusion. She finally said, you were a turban on Fridays so I assume that is a wig.  I then came clean and told her it was and explained new so I felt it similar to getting a cut and having to fix your hair.  Okay, maybe not that funny, but it was to me!  

Thursday night I met with my counselor for the first time.  Very nice lady and I think we will do well together.  The first appointment she learned about me, my situation, my family, my support group (she was impressed everyone), my fears, anger, what makes me happy.  She has decided that I should start weekly so I have a standing Thursday evening appointment for now.  I may share some from our talks, but I have decided this is my place to share with her and unless I am comfortable, this will be one of my only private outlets that I have these days so I don't mind if you ask if I'm going, but unless I share, assume things are going well.  

Friday well, I did great with my anxiety until right before my appointment.  It was meeting with the Dr. day.  Dr. Hantel was on vacation so I was meeting with one of his women colleague's who concentrates in breast cancer.  My mind started wondering and I felt like I was being set up.  What if Dr. Hantel told her he can't fix me, can you go in and give me your opinion....I knew this wasn't right, Doctors do take days off right?  Plus, Dr. Hantel is pretty much a straight shooter, I think he would just say his intentions whether I wanted to hear it or not, but this is what my mind does.  It can't be positive all the time.  The new Dr. was great.  She didn't do a breast exam so I have no idea where I am as far as shrinkage.  I do know from self exam, but I am not a good judge and am too hard on myself because I feel it several times a day.  Her thoughts on not doing one was she has never felt it before so she isn't a good judge.  I agreed with that.  I did decide it was not a good appointment for Dr. Hantel to miss because I should only see him 1 more time before surgery and my questions were mounting.  Who is responsible for me after surgery, up until surgery.  What do I need to do to prepare for surgery, what is after surgery and expected of me on follow ups.  Will they communicate with Northwestern, who should contact who.  So while she was able to answer the questions, they were answered "If you were my patient".  I know there follow up is probably pretty standard so I expect what she said will be accurate for me, but she sensed my anxiety I think.  She got me.  She explained that it is normal to be scared for treatment to be coming to an end.  This brought me to tears.  I hate crying there.  But I am so damn scared of not getting chemo.  I went from hating it to loving it.  It helps that it is not hard on me (knock on wood) and that I can manage my day to day, but I long for Friday to get more drugs.  Although it is poison, I need it.  Sick feeling, but she understood that.  So it was nice to get that on the table.  She then told me the dreaded....I knew I wasn't done with this, she explained that I will need a CT, MRI and Bone scan (If I were her patient) before surgery.  I have been waiting and was afraid to ask.  This is the worst 24-48 hours of my life waiting for those results.  But they need to get accurate size for the surgery and to measure just how well and not from touch the tumor has shrunk before surgery.  Also to check that it is still contained.  I am scared to death!  Part of me wants it done now and the other part just wants to wait.  She was going to call Dr. Hantel to get his recommendation.  I don't know what say I will get in it.  But I HATE this thought!  So this caused extra anxiety and thoughts during treatment that I couldn't really concentrate and get through without crying yesterday.  It is a fear like I can not explain and such a sense of relief if the results are in your favor, but what if??  So prayers can be started for this because whether they say next week or 4 weeks from now, it is going to be on my mind and there is only way....I need to hear it has shrunk this much and it is contained!  

I do not know if I have put this out there, but the form of breast cancer I have is called Triple Negative.  It is a non-hormonal form.  Only 20% of young women are diagnosed with this form and of that 15% are African American.  Some that I know that were diagnosed with this form are Robbin Roberts and the late Elizabeth Edwards.  My Dr. and the little research I have done had explained to me my first 2 years after diagnoses are critical.  This is a highly aggressive form and can come back with little to know warning.  After 2 years, I am considered in the "safety zone" up to 5 years and then I am back to being like everyone else.  So this is where my fear stems from.  Unlike a hormone induced breast cancer, there are no known drugs that can be plugged in after treatment to keep the cancer away.  They are doing studies, but NOTHING as we speak.  Hence why diet and exercise HAVE to play a key role in this and my need for chemo.  Chemo is the only thing out there that fights this form currently.  Scary right?  I try to say it is just a name and whether it was a hormonal form or not, I have to fight the same way!  So that is what I try to do, but I hope this better explains my fears of what ifs when I finish up and why I think I have an addiction to poison! 

I'm still reading this wonderful book "I wore lipstick to my Mastectomy".  Anyone that has gone through cancer I think would enjoy.  She was 27 when diagnosed and she has touched on many of my fears so I have highlighted them and will try to go back to them when I have a bad day.  One that I will share is my fear of what if it comes back or if God forbid Gods plan is for me to leave this Earth before I am ready.  Her mother's girlfriend shared with her:
" She explains that since my life now has such a possible ending, it is a wake-up call          that I am mortal, which most people are able to deny.  Most people stay in jobs they hate, marriages that they are miserable, and just postpone joy because they think they have so much time left  to figure it all out.  Her friends advise does not make sense at first, but she is very smart and spiritual and when I start to think about it more I do start to realize that the potential of life is freaking me out.  If this is all there is, my one shot, I need to get it all in fast, no waiting."  I have read this over and over and it is so true.  While I remind myself breast cancer is not a death sentence, it could be, so what am I waiting for.  Get out there and enjoy.  

My aunt Rose Ann has been a weekly e-mail writer to me as well.  She like Geralyn Lucas's mothers friend is very spiritual as well.  She shared with me some hic-ups in her and her husband Brian's life that they have encountered.  Some of the more recent ones, I knew about, but there was one 20 years ago that I think I would have been too young to know.  She explained too that you do get through the days.  This reminded me 20 years ago they were living with the same fears of what if Brian (my uncle) doesn't make it through this bump in the road.  But I look at them and think, wow, I didn't even know about this!  And he is still with us! This put the thought in my mind, I can't wait to be 20-30 years out and have someone approach me and say "Hey, I just heard you fought breast cancer when you were 33" and I can say "why yes I did, it was so long ago, but here was my story".  Next time I see Brian and Rose Ann, I want to know all about what happened 20 years ago.  Even though they have moved on with life and have continued to be a happily married couple that both recently retired and are just living life together, I hope they will share this story with me and more details of how they coped with the days and years and when they were able to put the nightmare behind them enough to move on.  You can't sit in a black hole of what ifs.  I have to live for today.  No one knows their destination!  It is easier said than done, but both of the book and the e-mail came at just the right time.  

So plan one when I am off of house arrest (chemo, surgery and radiation) I am taking my family to Disney.  We have never been and while Justin is a great age, pre-cancer, I thought, I can surely push this off a couple more years so that both boys enjoy it. Well, we are not doing that.  We are going to go to Disney as soon as we know I am able to enjoy it to its fullest.  Spring or summer.  I can't wait to see Justin's smile when we get there and this is what I will focus on for now.  Oh I have several other plans up my sleeve, none involve getting tattoos or sky diving or anything too crazy.  I just want to enjoy my family!

Well, Ryan is roaming and Justin is now awake.  We have soccer and a family event planned later today that I can not speak of because it involves Christmas.  Tomorrow will be just rest and relaxation.  Probably a run to the grocery store but that is it!

Enjoy your weekend and as always, thank you for your prayers and support!

Love to all!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Making Strides

Just a shout out to all that came out this morning and walked with me and my family for the Making Strides against Breast Cancer 5K.  I am truly amazed at my support system!  I know you are all out there supporting and praying for me and my family, but to see all of your faces so early this cold morning just gave me the boost I need to keep going!  I will never be able to thank you guys enough.  I had everyone from college friends, family, high school friends, co-workers and Justin and Ryan's day care teachers there to show support!  

Yesterday was spent with my sisters.  Later in the afternoon my girlfriends aka the head shavers showed up.  We all sat around and laughed and had a great visit.  Oh and ate Pizza King pizza, brought from Hoopeston.  Around 8 last night, the girls decided to head to Walgreens to get some last minute things for the walk this morning.  I stayed back and was snoozing on the couch by the time they returned.  Yes, the steroids wore off and I was exhausted!

This morning came quickly.  I don't know why, but I woke up in the middle of the night freezing and decided at that point to reset my alarm so I could enjoy a longer warmer shower before the walk.  I think it was the anticipation of how cold it was supposed to be this morning for the walk.  I woke up at 5:30 and took a 1/2 hour shower.  When I came downstairs I realized that our thermostat downstairs is set for night time.  Poor Meg and Lisa froze all night long!  Sorry girls, my coldness I was feeling was probably sympathy pains.  Hotel Naughton will not disappoint for your next visit!  I promise!

The walk was wonderful!  The weather was perfect, it was chilly, but it was not freezing out.  I made it too!  I am weak these days, but I only cheated a tad bit!  I feel accomplished and again, just seeing my support system will keep me pushing through.  Thank you to all and I can't wait to do this again next year!  

Ryan stayed in this morning and was watched by Lucy and Brian.  We were afraid it would be too cold for him!

Justin and I with our tired eyes, but determined to walk this 5K together!

Justin writing my name and listing me as a survivor of 4 months for the wall
Placing my car on the wall of survivors--Anywhere from 10 days to 18 years was what we saw listed today!

Look at my group of supporters!  WOW!!!

Friday, October 5, 2012


Friday night again!  Hello steroids.  As much as I want the sleep, I feel so productive in the middle of the night when I'm all "roided up"!  This morning started even earlier than last week.  1:45, I forced myself to stay in bed until 2:30.  Just read some of a book on my iPhone (Why I wore lipstick to my mastectomy).  About a 27 year old that had breast cancer.  I am not too far into it, but so far I share some very similar feelings as her so I think this book will be right up my alley.  I haven't read really since Ryan was born and have another book I need to get to next that is borrowed so I'm trying to spend more time reading and if I'm not going to sleep when everyone else does, what perfect timing!  Then I ventured downstairs and had to shut the blinds because being downstairs at that hour kind of creeps me out.  Worked for awhile and next thing I knew, it was 5 and Ryan was up.  I fed and cuddled with him and rocked him back to sleep, which worked until I laid him back down.  I came back down to do some things and watched him on the video monitor.  He was cracking me up!  Just talking to himself and trying to crawl in his crib.  So I decided to get him up and play a little.  Not a good habit for 5 am, but hey, he is my baby and I'll do what I want with him!

The weeks of just Taxol, I try to make my appointments for 1:00 so I can work 1/2 day and then chemo in the afternoon.  These weeks I don't have to see the Dr. and because I have been doing the blood work the day before, it seems pretty quick.  My blood work today was good.  My hemoglobin was 8.7 (last week 8.2) Anything over 8 is okay and my WBC stayed he exact same 2.4 I think.  Anyways, my nurse told me that I was all in the safety zone and this was the first week they haven't had to get the green light from Dr. Hantel to start my chemo.  So that is good right?!  Also I do not think I have mentioned (if I have forgive me, chemo brain going on) that I have a personal relationship with the receptionist now at the cancer center.  Sometimes I walk in a tad late for my blood work on Thursdays.  Recently it seems busy and I have to wait in line and always give myself a hard time because it is just blood work so I feel like they could punish me and make me sit and wait for being late.  But the receptionist the past couple of weeks waves me down in the back of the line and says "I've got you Amber".  Although it is so sweet of her, I don't like the idea that I have this type of service at the cancer center.  I mean a 5 star restaurant, that would be great to have that service, but not there.....But I do appreciate her because I feel like me being late is flying under the radar because I do think this would be the place that puts you at the back of the line to teach you a lesson. 

What I have done this week: It has been a good week.  I am fine with my levels, but I really thought they would be higher because I was staying up later and really had some extra energy.  We didn't do anything special, but I just felt good.  I did have some extra anxiety creep up on me that caught me a little off guard.  It kind of started last week, but I was able to shake it, but this week, it has haunted me at night and I think I'll put it out there:

As I am nearing the final countdown of chemo and the surgery is approaching, I have had a couple fears.  1.  Right now I worry, but don't worry about the cancer spreading or coming back, this is because I feel with all of the weekly poison I am receiving, how could it right?  But what happens when I am not getting a weekly fix of poison?  I hate it, but I feel like it is helping me so what helps when I'm done? Again, this is scary for anyone at any age, but I am 33, I have a long time to have this creeping around. I know over time, it would probably fade, but I know my personality, I worry somewhat more than normal (somewhat probably being a little too nice) before this so I don't think I will shake it as easily as some.  I am diagnosing myself with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  2.  Surgery and the timing.  Right now we are looking at the beginning of December if everything stays on time.  This could make ringing in the New Year a GREAT year with just radiation left to go through, but there is that fear that I don't get clean margins with surgery and the New Year won't get to start a new chapter of living cancer free for the first time.  I just want 2013 to be back on track with us!!!  

This post was not meant to be negative and I would say 20 hours of my day, I don't let these fears in, but they always manage to do so.  So I have talked to a social worker yesterday at the cancer center and she has referred me to a counselor.  I just think talking to an outsider who doesn't know me might have some ideas and ways to clear my head.  The social worker agreed with the post traumatic stress syndrome and said this is usually a normal time during treatment to have these fears and although didn't know I was struggling, but was happy that I recognized this and requested this information.  She also thought going back to yoga and meditation was important.  So I have reached out to Liz and I'm getting back on track this week with that as well.  I miss it, but have just felt so good and neglected my sessions and shouldn't.  So back on track this week with that and hopefully talking to someone.  

Sister Jess arrived safely and has a birthday today.  My grade school / high school friends Lisa and Megan (aka the head shavers) are coming up tomorrow afternoon and will spend the night to do the walk on Sunday.  I have tons of walkers coming on Sunday and am so thankful and at a loss for all of the support.  I think close to 40 and that doesn't include the donations from others that are unable to attend.  This will hopefully be a yearly walk for us and I would like to do a team next year, but I learned about it too late for this year and wasn't sure of the interest, but once again I have been overwhelmed with the support and love and realized doing a team this year would have been easy to reach a goal.  Oh well, lesson learned and there is always next year!

I will leave tonight with some things that I have decided are more important to me these days:
1.  The change in the leaves - They are beautiful all of the colors.  Fall has always been a favorite, but they are sticking out more than ever these days.
2.  My rides to and from work - It does help that I took the plunge and got back into my work car program and am driving a beautiful 2013 midnight blue Porsche Panamera. (I will take pictures soon) But I have used the car ride to just listen to music (not Air Supply Lisa), Just a little of everything.  The words to music stick out and I seem to find a way to tie it to my situation.
3.  Belly laughs from my boys.  This has always been a favorite, but to see Justin get Ryan to laugh and the baby laugh being so contagious that Justin belly laughs and the next thing I know I am, Don is and Whitney is.  Priceless.
4.  Hot showers!  I still am getting some pretty crazy hot flashes especially at night.  I start out freezing cold because of my bald head, so I start with a night cap (please don't try to picture this because it is not the nicest of things but it is soft and keeps my head warm) but usually by midnight I have tossed it on the floor because of a hot flash.  But without skipping a beat, 20 minutes before my alarm goes off, I wake up freezing and I'm too lazy to reach down to pick up my cap so I wrap myself in the blanket like a burrito and usually dream of a hot shower.  So when the alarm goes off, I'm quick to get up these days and since I don't have to spend the extra time on drying my hair, I spend that time standing in the warm shower.  I'm sure any bald person can attest, warm water on a bald head is AWESOME!

Goodnight!  I'm well past my bed time after my all nighter and someone around here is probably going to put me to bed soon if I don't go on my own.

Thank you for the continued prayers and support, keep them coming!

Love to all!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Making Strides Walk and T-Shirts

Really quick update so I can leave for work!  If anyone is interested, my family and I are doing the Making Strides walk on Sunday.  I have attached the link if you are interested.  I know I put it out there last week, but wanted to share it again.  The event we are participating in is the Joliet Speedway location.  You can sign up before or the day of.  If you do plan to come, please let me know so we can meet up and walk together.  So far I think I have about 20 walkers!  YAY!!

Also, Lisa has out done herself again and has designed another breast cancer support shirt.  For all of you that bought before, my family and I appreciate it so much and it is so fun to see people in their shirts.  Thank you for sharing.  Don and I have been managing just fine thanks to awesome insurance and have decided any funds received will be put in an account for now just in case something comes up, but when we are done with this nightmare, we will donate it to a good cause if we haven't needed to use it.  So the T-shirts to me are about the wonderful support system that I have. So here is the link for that as well.

Have a good day!  Blood work at noon and then chemo #7 tomorrow!!