Five Year Anniversary

Five years.  Today marks five years since my world turned upside down.  Five years since my perspective forever changed.  Five years since I heard the words, “you have cancer.”  

I will honestly never forget my physician calling me that April afternoon in 2017 and asking me if I was alone. Then he asked me to sit down.   Being both the daughter of an orthopaedic surgeon and the wife of an anesthesiologist, I knew this was the medical prelude to delivering bad news.  He gently proceeded to explain my diagnosis of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in the left breast as I sat obediently on my side porch all alone.  I distinctly remember hyper focusing on the word INVASIVE because it was so, well, invasive.  And to be paired with the word carcinoma didn’t afford me the privilege of being naïve about the battle I was about to face.  Soon after, my sister showed up and found me on the floor in my bathroom bawling my eyes out.  I could barely muster the words to tell her why I was sobbing on the cold tile floor.  To compound the devastation, I had spent the previous 4 years to my diagnosis being the wing man of my childhood best friend, Jennifer, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 (click here to read Jen’s journey).   I attended her doctor appointments, sat with her through chemo, babysat her young toddler, cried while holding her hand and even visited her future grave site with her where she proudly remarked, “look, I have a view of the water!”.  I was with her the days leading up to her death and the night before she passed away in 2016.  Watching her wither away, but also be at peace with where she was going was both heart wrenching and inspiring.  And now all of a sudden it was my turn.  

As you know, I have chronicled my entire breast cancer journey on this blog. But today, TODAY, I want to celebrate five years of being cancer free.  And even as I write those words, I feel tentative because do you ever really know?  If there’s one thing I learned from having cancer (which I’ve actually learned much, much more), it’s that we only have today.  Looking into the future can make us anxious, looking into the past can make us depressed.  My mantra throughout my breast cancer journey was “Make Every Day Count.”  I clung to those words because it was all I could control. And frankly, it was all I could tolerate given the magnitude of emotions I was experiencing.   A small chunk of time seemed much less daunting than the runaway train of wondering what was to come or reliving the trauma of losing a best friend.  Today.  I can handle today. 

I just had my five year check up with my oncologist and everything was great.  Vitals were on point and blood work looked good.  Walking into Baylor hospital always brings up a well of emotions for me no matter the reason for the visit. I see the same nurses, the same physicians and the same front desk personnel. To have professionals who have been on this journey alongside me for 10 years (since Jen’s diagnosis) feels comforting in an unexplainable way. Only they know what happened in those appointments, in that hallway and in the waiting room all those years. The tender moments, the horrific scan results, the laughter amidst the crying, etc. All of it on display for strangers who somehow became family. What an unexpected gift.

But there are scars – emotional and physical – that haunt me occasionally.   There’s not a day that goes by that I am not reminded of my journey.  It’s not crippling, but it’s ever present.  Mostly it’s feelings of gratitude for good health sprinkled with a dab of survivor’s guilt (which is very real, by the way).  Cancer is funny in that it teaches you so many valuable lessons, but still manages to send you to the principal’s office occasionally.   As a result, my perspective on life is greater.  My everyday experiences are richer.  My appreciation for the mundane is stronger.  And my resilience from adversity is unwavering.

Our youngest son will be a senior in high school next fall, and my two oldest boys are a freshman and sophomore in college, respectively.  I often think about how the past five years for them as high schoolers would have looked completely different if my treatment had not been successful.   Selfishly, I can’t even imagine missing their baseball or soccer games, their proms, senior parties and Sunday night family dinners.  But the fact that their worlds were not disrupted, and that God allowed me those years with them is the best gift of all.  Truly.  My family is everything to me and the thought of not being able to experience life alongside them is unfathomable.  As my boys get older, I’ve realized the tenderness of childhood.  I’ve realized that it’s fleeting.  And I’m unbelievably grateful my husband and I were forced to become acutely aware of how short life is so that we could make meaningful memories with our boys while they were young.  We’ll never get that time back, and I love that I can smile knowing we cherished each and every moment.  All thanks to cancer.    

So five years.  It feels both like a lifetime ago and like yesterday.  How does time do that?  I am a changed person.  And even though I had no choice in the matter, I am forever grateful.

So for now, I am signing off with a very full heart, a clean bill of health and a changed perspective on life. Glory be to God!



“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5

Is Tax Day a Holiday?

Hi friends!  It’s been 4 long months since I’ve updated you, which, considering this is a cancer blog, is a very good thing.  I keep meaning to update you after each of my doctor’s appointments, but LIFE.  Today marks 2 years since my breast cancer diagnosis, and I am happy to report I’m healthy and doing great.  Praise the LORD!

Before I tell you why I’m here, can we all stop and appreciate that after I wrote this in my last post:


…THIS showed up on my doorstep? 😂


How great are my friends?

Which brings me to the reason I am writing today.  My friend, Stephanie (aka my cancer buddy), called me on March 25th and asked if I’d watched the Today show that morning.  I let her know I hadn’t and questioned why she asked.  She proceeded to tell me about a story they aired about a link researchers have found between textured breast implants and Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma.  The professionals refer to it as BIA-ALCL (Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma).

Upon hearing this, I immediately began to wonder what type of implants I had.  

Common sense would tell you that if you have implants, you probably know what type they are.  But after polling a few friends, I realized 99% of us have no clue.  In fact, I remember being so happy to be cancer free at the time of my surgery that the doctor could have put stuffed animals in my chest and I wouldn’t have cared.  

For those not in the know, there are basically two types of implants: smooth or textured. These can either be filled with saline or silicone, and are either round or tear drop in shape.  In other words, it’s as straightforward as choosing the right shade of white paint for your walls and whether or not you are using an eggshell, satin or high gloss finish.

Upon having implant surgery, each patient is given 2 identification cards.


These cards, GET THIS, have serial numbers on the back for each ‘device’.  Apparently, patients are supposed to keep the cards so they know what type of implant they have in case problems arise.  I don’t know about you, but I can barely keep track of my car keys less, much less my serial numbers.  Holy cow.  By the grace of God, however, I found these in my desk drawer after talking to Stephanie.  I also found an old mother’s day card, some Christmas stamps, an iPod shuffle and a Carrabba’s gift card (pasta, anyone?).  

It might be time to clean out my drawers.

As it turns out, Natrelle is the name of the textured implants (made by Allergen) which are the ones in question.  And they are the ones I have.  Lucky me.  This DOES NOT mean I have lymphoma.  It only means I have a higher risk of developing it due to the type of implants I have.

Because of the correlation between the textured implants and lymphoma, the implants have just recently been banned in several European countries including France and the Netherlands.


And just last week Canada decided to suspend all sales.


In addition, experts in Australia met this week to determine if they would allow the implants, but stopped just short of a ban giving manufacturers Allergen and Mentor 10 days to supply new ‘evidence of safety’ regarding these devices.  The FDA also met at the end of March and is considering whether or not to ban the products or suspend sales.


The risk of women with textured implants developing BIA-ALCL is between 1 and 1000 and 1 and 30,000.  That’s not a risk I am willing to take.  As a result, I’ve decided to have my textured implants removed and will swap them out for smooth ones this Monday, April 15th.

Which means I will now be dreading Tax Day just like millions of other Americans.

I will also add it to my growing list of holidays on which my procedures and surgeries have taken place.  (If my iPhone calendar considers it a ‘holiday’, who am I to argue?)


I realize this may seem like an extreme measure to some, but after you’ve been through what I have, you are not willing to risk developing yet another type of cancer.   No matter how rare.  I hesitated sharing this because it is a very personal decision.  My intent is not to alarm anyone who has textured implants or to raise any unnecessary red flags.  Instead, I wish to inform those patients who have this type of implant and might be unaware of this news.  Also to raise awareness for those who have yet to choose their implants, and can discuss this issue with their physician when making a choice. Every patient has the right to know about this so that they can make an informed decision about how to proceed.  And what is right for one is not necessarily right for all.

Although this surgery is very unexpected, there IS good news.  It should be fairly straightforward with minimal downtime.  I will have 2 drains, but they should be out within a few days. In other words, I should be back to normal in no time!

As always, your prayers are SO appreciated.

As are your unicorn planters.

Thank you for continuing to love me and encourage me along this crazy ride!

Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count,


“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”  Psalm 136:1



“No Regerts”

Hi friends!  I’ve missed you!!  I hope this message finds you all enjoying your holidays thus far.  Is it just me or did anyone else LOVE Thanksgiving being so early this year?  I feel like we got a bonus week in which to work on Christmas cards, decorate the tree, make a dent in online shopping, or in my case procrastinate for 7 more days.  Either way, I am not hating it.  What I am hating, however, are all the emails advertising 20% off.  I love a good sale, but I find myself completely shutting down electronically because of the extraordinary amount of emails announcing discounts EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  And I’m afraid if I’m not careful, I might get sucked into buying something I absolutely do not need like a Bob Ross Board Game or a unicorn planter just because it’s on sale.


Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure the wisemen weren’t hung up on getting their Frankincense on sale.   They just brought the dang Frankincense.  (Which I guess meant the shipping was free.)


Anyway, many of you have sweetly followed my cancer journey and texted today because you remembered it was TATTOO time.  Thank you for being interested and for caring about me.  These events always feel so far away when I’m scheduling them, yet seem to surprise me when they actually arrive.

You’d think I’d have learned by now.

Anyway, today was the day of my highly anticipated 3D tattoo appointment, and it started out a little rough (or actually a lot rough).  I’ve been stressed lately, and any little thing has the potential to send me over the edge.  This morning, exactly that happened.  I don’t know if it was because I mixed up the lunches for my kids (God forbid) or because one of my boys hadn’t even bothered to look up from his screen to say good morning.   Either way, I snapped and the tears started to flow.  To the point where I wasn’t even thinking clearly.  I had a mini meltdown in my bathroom and was considering canceling the tattooing all together.  And quite frankly the day for that matter.  Thankfully, my friends and family knocked some sense into me and I somehow found myself in Stephanie’s car on the way to my appointment less than an hour later.

Can we take a moment and thank God for good friends & family?!  🙌🏻

Stephanie picked me up around 9:45 for a 10:30 appointment in North Plano.  I am so grateful to have a cancer buddy with which to walk through each stage.  Because we were diagnosed a mere 6 weeks apart in 2017, Stephanie and I have literally done everything cancer related together.  And tattoos were not going to be the exception.


We got to the office where we were met by Paul, one of Vinnie’s tattoo artists.  Paul explained the procedure and had me sign some paperwork.  I asked the normal questions like ‘Will it hurt?’, ‘Will I be lying down or sitting up?’ and ‘Do you ever make mistakes?’.  I had nightmares about the following scenarios in the days leading up to this appointment.



And even though in my case there is no verbiage, per se, I still imagined some awful potential outcomes should Paul make a mistake.

Once the paperwork was signed, we all made our way back to the small exam room in the doctor’s office where the tattooing would take place.  I was slightly disappointed because when one daydreams about getting a tattoo, typically the dream takes place in a hip tattoo parlor like you’d find in Deep Ellum.



In fact, there’s a certain cool factor associated with people that have tattoos.  And I didn’t appreciate that I was about to join the ranks of this club until last week when I had lunch with Amy, Angela & Jane to celebrate Angela’s birthday.  We were discussing tattoos and our waiter happened to overhear us.  I think he was slightly confused with our topic of conversation because somehow he had gotten the idea that we were lame old ladies (#partyhats #noalcohol #sharingoneplateoffajitas).


After announcing that he had 52 tattoos of his own and was about to give us advice on the process, he asked me, ‘Where on your body are you getting your tattoo?’.  I simply replied,  “I’d rather not say.”  And with that, we shut him down and Angela surmised the lame old ladies had redeemed their reputation at the birthday lunch. #don’tjudgeabookbyitspartyhat

So you can imagine, after my newfound edginess, how underwhelmed I was at the environment where my tattooing would take place.  It was literally a tiny doctor’s office with boxes of supplies in the corner, a biohazard waste disposal and a miniature sink.  I didn’t think to study the walls, but I’m pretty sure there were framed diagrams of human anatomy as well as some diplomas and awards of the physician who normally practiced there.  In other words, it did NOT look like this.


There was no swordfish.  No clay Jesus.  No celebrity candles.

But the kicker.  The REAL kicker was that there was Christmas music playing in the background.  I don’t know about you, but ‘Mary Did You Know’ wouldn’t be my first (or even my last) song choice for a playlist if I’m about to get inked (I can use cool terms like that because now I have two tattoos).

What Mary didn’t know is that getting a tattoo really hurts.

We joked about changing the station to heavy metal or something more fitting, but I guess we all just got used to it after a while and let the carols play.  It actually ended up being somewhat appropriate because Paul looks like he could be Santa’s first cousin.


And as much as I’d love to detail how everything went in that little room, in addition to showing before and after pics, I will spare you for now.  Let’s just say that I held (squeezed) Stephanie’s hand during the procedure and she cried happy tears for me when it was over (read: Santa delivered).  And for now we’ll go with “what happens in the exam room stays in the exam room”.

I was finished in a little under 2 hours, paid my bill (can I tell you what’s NOT 20% off?), and was handed a bag full of Neosporin and directions for after care.  Once we got to the elevators, my mom casually said, ‘Would you like to turn your bag around?’

IMG_1994.jpegStephanie and I hadn’t bothered to even look at the bag.  But Karen (eagle eye) revealed she might not be as comfortable with announcing to the world what I had just done as Steph and I were.


I will be returning tomorrow morning with Stephanie for her procedure, where we will repeat this process.  I am grateful we know what to expect, and I look forward to being on the sidelines instead of on the field this time.

Next steps for me will be a follow up with Dr. O’Shaughnessy in late February (My appt in October was fantastic with totally normal bloodwork – Thank you Jesus!).

Thank you so much for your continued prayers & texts today.  I could not get through this without your support & God’s grace.  Each day is a gift, and I am so grateful to be where I am on this journey.  I can truly say I have NO REGERTS.

Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count!


PS: I know I’ll get asked…no, that’s not diet coke in my cup.  I am still DC free and have been for over a year and a half!  🙂  Now THAT deserves a unicorn planter, right?

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”  2 Corinthians 4:15

Never Say Never

Hi friends!  Again, it’s been way too long (which, considering this is a cancer blog, that’s a GOOD THING).  I always know when it’s time to write a post, however, when I pause and think, ‘Did that really just happen?’.  This is one of those times.

A few days ago I received a text from my friend and fellow breast cancer survivor, Amy Smith.  She said that Vinnie the tattoo artist (remember him?) was going to be in town the first week in December to take care of the Dallas patients.  Vinnie is based in Maryland, and at one point Stephanie and I had discussed taking a girls trip (or in this case, I guess it would be a trip for the girls) to get our tattoos.  But now that Vinnie is coming to town, our trip will be much shorter and way less expensive.

To be honest, I haven’t really given much thought to the whole tattoo process after finishing up treatment.  I guess being normal was just too much fun.

But can we please talk about what’s NOT normal?  Seeing this in your inbox:IMG_0423.jpg

I don’t know what’s more disturbing.  The fact that ‘little vinnies’ is in all lowercase or that this title may actually have a double meaning (pardon even that pun – yikes, I can’t stop).  Right when I saw this, I had a flashback to 2017 and all things cancer.  I haven’t thought about tattoos since I happened to catch an episode of Bachelor in Paradise a month or so ago (please don’t judge).  Is everyone 30 and under now required to have a tattoo and I’m the last to know?

Anyway, after I recovered from the email, I contacted Tasha, who was listed as the scheduling contact.  She then sent me another email which asked me to fill out all kinds of information and reply back.  Mind you, there was no attachment.  This was simply just a few questions in the body of the email.  Name, Phone Number, Date of Mastectomy, etc.  You get the gist.  I was rolling along just fine until I got to the very last question, or in this case the very last request.  Please read #8 for yourselves.


DYING.  I’m pretty sure I spit out whatever I was sipping on at the time.

We, as parents, have spent the majority of our sons’ teenage years lecturing them on the dangers of sending inappropriate pictures via any type of technology.  I’m pretty sure if you are a parent of a teenager you have uttered the words, ‘NEVER send a naked picture of yourself to ANYONE, EVER.’  Holla?!  We threaten the boys that if they do that, they will go to jail, never hold a steady job, never be able to run for office, etc.  And now THEIR MOM is the one sending inappropriate pictures in a casual email to a stranger.  NEVER SAY NEVER.  All of my internal organs were stressed, and everything in me said this is wrong.  Not to mention the demands to use natural lighting.  I’m a photographer, and do you know where the very best natural lighting is?  BY A WINDOW. 🤦🏼‍♀️

I’ll spare you the details, but I managed to follow directions and tried to remain professional about the whole exchange.  Then I forwarded the ORIGINAL email (without photos) to Stephanie, so she could sign up too.  Later that day, she called and we laughed about the ridiculous nature of that task.  She happened to mention the email address where she sent the pics and I FROZE.  I asked what she was talking about, as I had just replied to the little vinnies email with my ‘attachments’.   NO MA’AM.  There was a special private place in which to send the photos and I just didn’t read the email all the way to the end.  I AM SO SORRY, TASHA. #shecan’tunseethat

So in keeping with my tradition of major surgeries and procedures falling on or around special occasions, I’m getting tattooed December 4th.  Happy Anniversary mom & dad.

As if sending pics of myself wasn’t humiliating enough, I then had to wake up early this morning for a colonoscopy.  (I hesitate telling you all that because I really don’t like to brag about my life.)  This procedure was recommended by Dr. O’Shaughnessy at my 8 month appointment simply as a precaution.  When she scheduled this appointment, it felt so far away.  Then yesterday, when I realized I couldn’t eat all day and had to drink the nastiest drink known to man, September suddenly seemed to get here way too fast.



I remember when Katie Couric first started talking about colonoscopies many moons ago when she lost her husband to colon cancer.


What I don’t remember is her talking about the nasty drink.

Instead, you see joyful images like this of her encouraging folks to get a screening:


But what you don’t see is a pic of Jimmy Kimmel chugging his Moviprep the night before.

There’s a reason for that.

I have to give my husband props, however, because as I sat there last night complaining over and over and over again about THAT DRINK and repeating, ‘I’m never going to be able to finish this!!!!’, he kept encouraging me with every hour that passed.  Then, kind of under his breath, mentioned that he just did this and it was fine.  WHAT?  I literally DID NOT REMEMBER him doing this.  Why?  Because he fasted while putting in a full day’s work, drank that concoction when he got home within like 2 hours, stayed up all night, never complained, drove himself to his appointment, etc.  I quickly realized how I might be the most dramatic patient EVER in Bachelor history.🌹

These days, doctor’s offices are so tech savvy that I received a text from Dr. Katherine Little’s office (thank you, Meg, for the referral – loved her!) reminding me of my appointment.  And since I’ve already proven I’m a very wimpy patient, I enlisted the help of my mom to transport me to and from the procedure.  Here’s the exchange we had last night.FullSizeRender-21.jpg

I’m proud to say my mom arrived on time and was very responsible to get me where I needed to go.  My sister, Ashley, also joined us for a bit, because clearly I work better in a group.  And as we sat in the little holding room (which had a wind chill of approximately 15 degrees) waiting for results, Ashley mentioned she was COLD.  The nurse whipped around and draped her with a warm blanket without missing a beat.  My friends Amy and Angela call me the Sugar Queen (a nice person who has absolutely no problem being waited on), but after seeing Ash all snuggled up at MY appointment, I handed my crown over to her.  It felt like she earned it.

After we thawed, Dr. Little came in to report that my colon was perfectly healthy!  But the only thing I think I heard was that I don’t have to tap the Moviprep for 5 more years.  Hallelujah.

As far as everything else goes, I am feeling fantastic.  Thank you to everyone who continues to ask when they see me.  You guys know how to make a girl feel so loved.   I started working out again this summer, and have been humbled by how long it has taken to get my stamina back to where I was before cancer so rudely interrupted my life.  It started with daily hikes in Colorado and has morphed into workouts at Gold’s Gym & Camp Gladiator (shout out to Meredith & Laila!).  I’m not quite where I used to be, but I hope to be close by Christmas.


My hair is still creeping along, but getting longer by the day.  I was finally able to use an actual ponytail holder for the first time THIS WEEK in over a year!  It’s the little things.  Before now, I haven’t even had enough hair for the ponytail holder to stay in, but I’m happy to report it stayed all day and I was so happy to finally feel like a girl again!!!

B A B Y  S T E P S.

So…next up I have another follow up (which will be my 12 month f/u) October 29th with my oncologist.  It’s hard to believe that milestone is approaching, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Thank you all so much for continuing to follow my journey and for cheering me on in life.  My level of compassion for others has deepened significantly as a result of this experience, as has my relationship with God.  In the past, I feel like there have been many times in regards to other’s tough circumstances when I have said, I hope that NEVER happens to me or to my family.  I’m sure we’ve all felt that way.  You might have even felt that way about what I went through last year.  But through cancer, God has taught me so many lessons about myself and others.  He has deepened my understanding of just how big He really is.  He has given me patience I truly didn’t think was possible (especially with 3 teenagers in the house).  And He has given me the best gift of all: perspective.  Because of that, (and, well the totally inappropriate selfies),  I will try to never say never again.

Until next time, much love to you all & make every day count,


PS: Please schedule your mammograms & colonoscopies!!!!

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.  We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…” Colossians 1:9-11






Last Strand Standing

FRIENDS, I have missed you!!!!  It feels like an eternity since I have written a post, but I just went for my 8 month check up with my oncologist, Dr. O’Shaugnessy, and wanted to catch you up to speed.  I truly hope you are all doing well and are lying on a beach somewhere, hiking in the mountains, swimming in a pool or spending time with family and friends while having just celebrated our great nation!

We were down to just one child for the holiday (the older they get, the more they disappear), which meant that that one child got all of the water toys to himself.  (As well as my in-laws’ undivided attention.)  Well played, son.


Another move I greatly appreciated was one by my precious 5 year old little neighbor, Will.  He decided that all of our yards needed American flags in them, so a few days ago he decorated for us.  And it was all I could do to not belt out Lee Greenwood’s version of ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ when I saw his giant determination to finish, as well as his tiny little nod to patriotism.  IMG_1305.jpeg

There ain’t no doubt I love this land.

Before I launch into how my doctor’s appointment went, I want to share a few things that happened since we last ‘visited’.  If you remember correctly, my last post left off with me having just enjoyed some lake time with my friends and just gone to my 4 month check up back in February.  Life has moved at a fast clip since then!

My spring was mainly spent watching my sons play their respective sports.  We have a baseball player, a basketball player and a golfer, so needless to say, there is always a game or round to watch.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I was so happy to finally be able to participate again in real life like a normal person without a procedure or treatment looming.  Praise God for normalcy.  And for at least ONE indoor sport.

We took a break in March (called ‘spring break’, you may have heard of it) and went skiing with my sister, Ashley, and her family.  Because my middle son had baseball that week, I was only able to take my oldest and youngest.

IMG_9288.jpegMight I just say how much fun it was to have my nieces on the trip?!   Oh to travel with GIRLS.  Finally, we watched channels that didn’t end in ‘S-P-N’ and had real discussions around the table that consisted of more than just grunts.  It was glorious.  I was also so excited to ski again since I was restricted in December, so I headed out on day one with eyes wide open and optimism in my back pocket.  That ended abruptly, however, and I had to cut the day short due to a very swollen left leg.  Yes, the leg on which I had my skin cancer surgery back in January.  I concluded it probably wouldn’t be wise to continue, so I spent the remainder of my ski days off the mountain with my sister  (who really wanted a reason to quit skiing, I think.  So you’re welcome, Ashley).

Ski Trips = 2, Me = 0.IMG_9389.JPG

Another lovely thing happened that week.  During the first few days, my eyelashes started falling out again.  I think I had mentioned before that it might be a possibility for them to fall out twice (and in some cases 3-4 times) after chemo?  Well, round two hit hard and fast while on the mountain.  I googled this phenomenon because I was so perplexed, but apparently we all lose lashes here and there and they regrow.  However, normal people’s lashes are all on different cycles so they are never without lashes.  In other words, they don’t fall out all at once.  But since mine all fell out after chemo, they all grew back together as well.  Therefore, until their growth staggers again, I think this is what I’m in for.  🤦🏼‍♀️

In other hair news…when I got home from the ski trip, I started feeling like I was getting my sea legs back and continuing to ride the normal train.  I actually got my hair colored (my coarse, grey hair that was growing in needed some love), which was a crazy experience.  I have never felt so naked as I did when I took my hat off for my hair dresser to work his magic.   He deserves an academy award for not gasping out loud right there in the salon.  I mean y’all, I cannot even describe what pitiful shape my hair is in.  YES it’s growing back, and for that I am eternally grateful.  But all of the new growth is pushing out the last remaining long strands making it sort of a “last strand standing” situation.  My long hairs are so thin that even the tiniest of clips struggle with holding it together.  I think I was actually in a better place in February than I am now!!  But nonetheless, I have full confidence everything will be back as it should within a year or two!  So saddle up, patience, cause we have a ride to take.


Trying to carry on with life after cancer is unfamiliar but also so welcome.  But even life without cancer sometimes includes friends with cancer.  So here I am with some of my fellow ‘breasties’ at a lovely brunch in March.


There truly is strength in numbers, and each one of these precious ladies is prayed for every single morning by me.  Some are finished with treatment and some are still going strong.  HANG IN THERE, ladies!!

That same week (and according to my clothes, maybe that same day), My friend Meredith and I took a day trip to the Arise Africa offices (please tell me you know of my LOVE for Arise Africa and it’s mission.  If not, please ask me about it!!!!).  We got to play with Annie and again, in those tiny moments, I’m reminded that the world is a good place.


And I’m also reminded that fat thighs and wrists are totally acceptable and even adorable when you are younger than 5.

Later in March, my husband’s all time favorite college basketball team, the KU Jayhawks, played in the Final Four tournament in San Antonio.  Still riding the cancer mentality of ‘might as well’, we loaded up the fam and went the the game.  It did happen to fall on Easter weekend, which was a little strange.  Nothing says ‘Jesus is Risen’ like a trip to the Alamodome.

IMG_9564.jpegDid anyone notice how early we got to the game?

IMG_9567.jpgJust checking.  Anyway, Kansas unfortunately had a terrible (and that’s putting it kindly) showing.  They lost to Villanova 79-95 and never even had a chance.  But as they say,  you’ll never regret missing Easter with your family to attend a sporting event that makes your husband so emotional that he might be confused for a 15 year old girl. (What?  They don’t say that?).

My sweet friend, Melanie, thankfully understands being wrecked emotionally after a sporting event (she is an Aggie football fan, after all).  She was also friends with Trevor at Texas A&M even before I even met him.  So she ‘gets’ him.  And since we were in her hood, Mel hosted our crew for Easter brunch despite the Jayhawks devastating loss.  This made Easter feel a little more like Easter in my opinion.   Thank God for good friends and French Toast Casserole.


(Especially the French Toast Casserole.)

After our celebration with the Shankles, we made our way back home to enter the home stretch of the school year.  Unfortunately, normal wasn’t normal for long.  A few days after our road trip, I was in the shower washing my left arm (I washed my right one too, don’t worry) and felt a lump on the front part of my upper arm near my shoulder.  I probably wouldn’t have freaked out as much if it hadn’t been in this particular spot (who am I kidding, yes I would have).  But this spot is significant because this is where I had a melanoma removed 2 years ago.  (Is anyone else starting to get REALLY TIRED of my cancer?!  Because I am!!!  Breast ✅ Squamous Cell ✅ Melanoma ✅).  I made an appointment with my dermatologist to get the lump checked out.  And because apparently I don’t learn very quickly, I didn’t tell anyone, nor did I take anyone to my appointment with me.  Turns out that was a big mistake.  My dermatologist happened to be out that day, so her partner saw me in the exam room.  She read over my history (always a fun topic of conversation these days – I SO miss the days when I was able to answer ‘no’ to every single question on the intake form).  She immediately said we need to get a biopsy because of where the lump was located.  THEN SHE STARTED PREPPING FOR THE BIOPSY.  Right then and there.  Ummmmmm….no thank you.  I began to cry, as one does, while she put a big fat needle in my arm.

When I left that office, I think I may have been the most afraid I’ve been on this entire journey.  I had convinced myself that while my immune system was compromised due to chemo, the melanoma cells, just like high waisted jeans, decided this was their chance to make a comeback.  IMG_1339.jpg

While I was leaving my appointment, my sister Ashley called.  In an all too familiar scenario, I was in FULL ON tears.  She had no idea what was going on since I hadn’t even mentioned my new found lump.  She asked me to come over and we ended up going to see a movie in the middle of the morning to get my mind off of everything.  And that, my friends, is what sisters are for.  (They are also for sharing a large tub of buttered movie popcorn.  Hypothetically speaking.)

To make matters more complicated and emotional, the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, April 13th, was the following day.  And believe me, I was reminded in the oddest of places.


So instead of being able to celebrate that I was cancer free on that anniversary, I was now waiting on a phone call with the results of my biopsy.  Needless to say, there was no celebrating to be had.  I think I had finally reached the darkest place I had ever been.  There are no words to describe what one goes through on their cancer journey.  I literally felt like each time I stood up, I got knocked back down again.  I think of myself as a strong, healthy person, but slowly over time, all of these set backs were pushing the person that I’d known and identified with farther and farther into the distance.

Literally like Wilson on Cast Away.


I think God allows this stripping away of our strength, our health, our comfort, our {fill in the blank} in order for us to rely fully on Him.  I’m actually convinced of it.  Until we understand just how weak and helpless we are do we not fully grasp our need for a Savior.  (Is anyone else getting distracted by the Wilson gif above? Or is that just me?  Squirrel!).  Anyway, I went through a period at this point where it was almost too intense for me to be close to God.  I wasn’t mad, but I was disheartened maybe?  I had walked this road so intimately with Him and just couldn’t fathom why I kept getting knocked down again and again and again.  First, losing a close friend to breast cancer, next being diagnosed with breast cancer myself, next having to undergo chemo, next getting skin cancer because my immune system was down DUE to chemo, next finding a lump where my melanoma had originated, etc. etc. etc.  It all just felt like too much (and I feel so stupid saying that because I know friends going through much worse right now than anything I had to go through).  So I am not soliciting sympathy.  Please, hear me on that.  This is strictly me putting my full self out there so that those who may come after me understand that life and all of our experiences are a process.  A journey.  There are many turns, bumps, accidents, joys, thrills, fears along the way.  And ultimately, we have to get to a place where we quit viewing these obstacles as getting knocked down or piling on to our already heavy situations.  Thankfully, God has instead taught me how to view these obstacles as isolated challenges and even more opportunities to see Him do His thing.  2 Corinthians 12:9 says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  HE is the one who is strong.  Not me.  Not Wilson.


And I wish I had grasped it before this latest set back.  Because as biopsy results often go, I ended up having to wait the entire weekend before I heard back from my doctor.  I cried to a few more friends and just sat with the fact that I may be gearing up for another unwelcome adventure.  But PRAISE GOD the results revealed that this was just a lipoma.  A LIPOMA.  And according to the experts, I am just “unlucky” that it happened to form in that exact spot.  It will come as no surprise to you that I had that thing taken out so fast it would make your head spin.  Making that my 6th (but really, who’s counting) surgery in a year’s time.

And since we are on the topic,  I am not the only one in my family finished with surgery.  In May, my family was able to celebrate my dad’s retirement of 47 years as an orthopaedic surgeon.  I’m so very proud of him for always showing us the value of hard work, and for practicing with such compassion and integrity.  Congratulations, dad!

May your ‘approach’ no longer be associated with anterior hips, but instead your shot from the tee, may a ‘break’ no longer be associated with a bone, but instead the curve on a green, and may your ‘radius’ no longer be associated with your ‘ulna’ but instead with the distance between the center of your swing arc and your hands on the grip.

I love you more than words can say.


The retirement party was a great way to kick off the summer, and since then I’ve been reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, exercising, traveling a bit (that sounded really good but really it was for baseball tournaments in Norman, OK and Tomball, TX.  In the heat. On bleachers. So you can tuck your jealousy back in now.) #shoutouttocammieanddallastigersbaseball

SO…to wrap this thing up (FINALLY), my 8th month check up was fabulous.  For the first time since chemo, my blood work was completely normal.  Everything in the column (and there’s a LONG LONG column) was black with no red numbers – red indicates anything outside the range of normal.  I know that’s a small thing, but it was HUGE to me.  My sweet friend, Amy, was nice enough to accompany me to my appointment and we both appreciated those numbers more than you can imagine.  We also got to hug Jen’s nurse and doctor while at Baylor, making us feel a little closer to our girl.  For now, I will continue on the Tamoxifen for a few more years, then possibly have Lupron shots which will shut down my ovaries, eventually remove my ovaries and start on Aromatase inhibitors for a few more years.  Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

I know I sound like a broken record, but ladies please go get your 3D mammograms if you haven’t already.  In fact, I just had lunch with my sister, Jennifer, and our friend, Sheaffer, and somehow we even managed to discuss breast health.  Over waffles and omelettes.  So if we can touch on it (yikes, poor choice of words), so can you.


My next appointment is in October, so I’ll plan on checking back in then.  Thank you for your continued prayers – they are working!!!

Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count,


“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me…”  Psalm 28:7

Forever And Ever, Amen.

Since my last blog post, many things have happened both in this world and in my life.  All of these things make me desperately cling to the fact that I need a Savior.  Sometimes life just feels so hard!  I, like you, am deeply saddened by the recent school shooting in Parkland, FL.  To know that seventeen innocent lives were shed for no good reason shakes me to my core.  And yesterday, we lost arguably the most respected Christian evangelist in the world, Billy Graham.  On a group text with Jen’s friends & family, we talked about how she must have greeted Rev. Graham in heaven (with a booming, “BILLY!” through a loud megaphone).  I can’t even imagine the questions she had for him.  My bestie, Kim, lost her mother in late January and I got to be there for & with her (as she has been there for me).  And my dear friend, Amy (who has also been there every step of the way), had surgery this week and is doing great thank the Lord.  My niece and nephew lost their grandfather a few days ago, and will lay him to rest this Saturday.  We celebrated Jennifer’s 2nd heavenly birthday this week.  And on top of all of that, I am raising three teenage boys.  Dare I say again how much I need a Savior?

Thankfully, the hard times are usually counterbalanced by some good times.  And one of those was a quick lake trip with some friends in January.  I have to take a moment to brag on my friends because they know how to do a lake trip.  If it were up to me, I would literally bring some bagels and bottled water for food and beverage.  But not these girls.  THESE girls brought appetizers that looked like this:


How are these people friends with me?!  And then when we sat down for dinner, look what beautiful flowers appeared…



I guess opposites attract when it comes to friends because my centerpiece usually looks more like this…



Fancy or not, I love each and every one of these gals (the ones pictured and the ones not pictured) and am so thankful for the way my friends have loved me through cancer!!


Today, I went for my 4 month follow up to Dr. O’ Shaughnessey with my mom.  I didn’t expect to feel so many emotions walking into Baylor as it literally has been like a second home for the past few years.  But something today got me.  Memories of being there with Jen plus memories of me waiting for chemo and bloodwork flooded in.  I did what I could to keep my tears at bay, but it was difficult.  I would be happy if I NEVER had to walk in that place again.  Thankfully, however, my appointment went well and my bloodwork was good (despite them having to take it twice 😫 due to using the wrong vials…um, excuse me?!).


All I need to do now is keep taking my tamoxifen and come back in June.  Yes, that’s it.  I am so incredibly grateful.  Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for my continued good health.  It truly is something I do not take for granted! I did ask about some bone pain I was experiencing, some stiffness and a foggy brain, but apparently that is just par for the course with all that I’ve been through.  So basically I feel like an 80 year old without all of the wisdom.  It’s awesome.

Speaking of feeling “old”, my friend Stephanie and I have a running joke that every conversation we have these days feels a lot like playing a game of Pictionary (without the drawing board).  It’s a lot of “you know, the thing we did last year” or “I can’t think of the name of it but it sounds like…”.  Pathetic.  I started wondering if something was wrong with me, but the more I’m around my friends the more I realize we are ALL just suffering from “age”.  👵🏻


Age is a funny thing.  Lots of things can age.  Cheese can age.  Wine can age.  Even music can age.  Which reminds me of something that happened the other day.  Trevor’s taste in music is quite, how shall I put it, “old school”.   He is stuck in the 80’s & 90’s and makes no apologies for it.  In addition, he never gets tired of a song.  Like EVER.  The boys and I tease him that no one can kill a song quite like he can (and I think he takes it as a compliment).  Lastly, God bless, he is always about 2 years behind with “new” music.  He gets so excited to introduce a new song to us and doesn’t understand how we already know every single word.   Anyway, I seriously digress.

The other day I got in the passenger’s seat of his car and immediately changed the station.  Did anyone just cringe?  I realize there is some sort of unspoken rule that whomever drives the car gets to be the deejay, and me changing the station without asking permission was literally like breaking the law.  NO MATTER that a Billy Ray Cyrus song was playing (and it wasn’t even Achy Breaky Heart).

Yes, he sings songs other than just Achy Breaky Heart.  Who knew?

Since Trevor was trying to mark his musical territory, he quickly switched it back from my decade appropriate channel.  Then we both laughed because NO ONE, not even him, wanted to keep listening to Billy Ray.  But…STUBBORN.  Thankfully, after Billy Ray’s tune was over, Randy Travis came on the air.



And before we knew it, “I’m Gonna Love You Forever” was being sung by us both.  And out of all the times that I have sung this song, the line “Well, honey I don’t care, I ain’t in love with your hair.  And if it all fell out, well I’d love you anyway.” has never seemed so relevant.   In that moment,  I had to relent about my husband’s favorite station being PRIME COUNTRY.  And without getting too sappy, I am so thankful to have a husband that, when put to the actual test, loves me anyway.

As you know, my hair has been quite the issue throughout this journey.


If it were a teenage girl, it would be the drama queen of its grade.  I’ve been asked by several people, knowing what I know now, if I would do the cold cap again.  And to that question, I still have no answer.  My hair continues to fall out daily (which is still traumatic for me), but new growth is very evident at the same time.  So it’s confusing.  I never went fully bald (pro), but I also still feel the need to wear caps during this transition (con).  Essentially, I have just enough long hairs left to do my version of the combover.

I did finally bust out at the end of January and left my hat at home for the first time.  I was with Stephanie (we went to a joint doctor’s appointment at Dr. Potter’s office), and she was sweet to reassure me that no one would even know any different just by looking at me (that’s what friends are for, right Dionne Warwick?).  And since then, if the weather cooperates, I’ve been sporting my new look.


(Me & My sweet dad 2/3/18)

But at home, in the privacy of my bathroom, I look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I will ever truly feel like myself again.  There’s so much of this journey that strips away the familiar.  So much that changes you both inside and out.  And if your journey is long enough, I guess you are never the same again.  Don’t get me wrong.  That’s not all bad.  I have genuinely learned to give up control of almost everything in my life.  Once you are put in a situation that punctuates that fact, you tend to pay attention.  The Lord has really shown me that He’s boss, and in that I find the greatest peace and comfort.  Does it mean I don’t care about my hair?  NO.  Does it mean I enjoy having 3 huge scars on my left leg?  NO.  Does it mean I don’t consider if the cancer will return?  NO.  Does it mean I won’t lose people that I love?  NO.  But what it does mean is that I’ve been faced with the ultimate truth that this life is not ours to control.  Rather, this life is a gift.  And to truly get the most out of this amazing gift, we need to turn it back over to the Giver.  Even (especially) in the midst of our sadness or hard times.  He knows what’s best for us.  He loves us.  And He doesn’t make mistakes.  All we need to do is to surrender to Him.  And ironically enough, I have cancer to thank for that very important lesson.

Forever and Ever, Amen.

Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count,


Never Underestimate Pain

Well, crap.  That really hurt.  Like REALLY hurt.  I don’t know what I was expecting in the way of MOHS surgery on my leg (I’ve had it previously on my arm and shoulder), but it was NOTHING like I’d anticipated.  I don’t know if the pain was due to having surgery on 3 different spots on the same leg or the actual placement of the spots or what.  But something made it really bad.  There’s a scene in the movie ‘Hitch’ where Will Smith is standing with Eva Mendes in a museum on Ellis Island and she reacts very negatively to a sweet gesture he had planned.  After her outburst, he says, “I saw that going differently in my mind”.


You and me both, Will.  You and me both.

I spent the better part of the weekend in bed in excruciating pain, and can’t believe I never saw it coming.  The day of my procedure the nurse said, ‘We have a prescription for Tramadol for you’ and I completely dismissed it.  The cocky side of me explained to my mom on the car ride home that these people don’t know what I’m capable of pain-wise, and we’d be silly to get the prescription filled.  I mean, I’ve survived 4 surgeries and chemo in less than a year and I proudly didn’t take heavy drugs to get through all of that.

WRONG.  I could not have been more wrong.  I quickly learned you don’t DARE pain.

If you imagine having the largest bruise on your shin and having someone press down on it constantly and times that by 1000, you’d be scratching the surface of my pain.  It was downright miserable.   Here I was in bed again unable to even walk around my house without writhing in pain.  It was an all too familiar scenario for me and one I didn’t necessarily want to revisit.  There’s only so much HGTV and Netflix one can watch in a year and I believe I met my personal quota about 4 months ago.

Thankfully, Trevor sprung back into action as my nurse and got my pain under control.  I did eventually succumb to taking Tramadol (which subsequently led to me vomiting and also reminded me why I don’t do well with heavy pain meds in the first place).  But Tylenol and Advil were there to pick up the pieces Tramadol left behind and I am FINALLY feeling much better.

So is this the end?  I’m praying with all my might it is.  But for now I will rest in the fact that it is the end FOR NOW.  And that’s got me and Will Smith doing this…


Minus the jacket, belt buckle and high waisted jeans.

Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count,


“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18


Almost Squamous

Happy New Year to all of you, my faithful prayer warriors!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday filled with love and family.  I’m sitting here in my office freezing (by Texas standards) and contemplating the next few days.  It made me think about how you all have been so kind to follow my journey, and I wanted to thank you again for making sure I don’t walk this road alone.

Tomorrow, January 18th, I will be having MOHS surgery on my leg in 3 different spots where they found squamous cell carcinoma.  And even though this isn’t part of my breast cancer journey, per se, I do believe these spots surfaced because my chemo suppressed my ability to fight them off.  Therefore, in my convoluted way of connecting things, I still think of this as a nasty ‘side effect’.  I would appreciate your prayers for tomorrow’s procedure that they would get everything in the first or second try!

A lot of people have asked me how I feel now that this is ‘over’.  The best way for me to answer that question is to say that life after breast cancer has been really interesting.  I think it was providential that the end of my journey coincided with the end of the calendar year.  It allowed me to begin 2018 with a fresh perspective in so many areas of my life.   And because everyone else on the planet was celebrating the end of something in December and looking forward to a new beginning in January, it was if we were all doing it TOGETHER.  And I just love that.  I mean, who else gets to enjoy fireworks around the world and Ryan Seacrest at the end of their cancer journey?!  (Don’t even get me started on how old I felt not recognizing most of the talent on New Years Rockin’ Eve. My friends, Mel and Gulley, and I were texting back and forth on NYE and Gulley led with “I need to warn you that watching Seacrest is a slippery slope bc I don’t know half the people on there.  Which is why I turned on the Crown.”)  That about sums it up.

My family happened to be in Colorado over New Years, so we rang in 2018 surrounded by God’s AMAZING creation.


And because I was only 3 weeks out from surgery, my doctor advised I not hit the slopes (all you need to do is make the motion as if you are traversing the mountain with poles and you’ll understand why…#chestmuscles).  I didn’t really care, however, because what’s not to love about sending all of your people out each morning with full tummies while you then go sit in your pjs and catch up on Facebook the rest of the day?  IT. WAS. GLORIOUS.  I may never actually ski again.

And speaking of full tummies, it is a well known fact that I do not cook.  As in, we dine out or bring food in an OBSCENE amount.  Actually, one of my favorite stories regarding this happened a few years ago.  My youngest son, Hayes, had friends coming over just about every day that summer.  Because the friends typically went home around dinnertime, they would notice that I would be bringing food in from (insert restaurant here) each night.  One of them asked Hayes, “Do you get take out every night?” to which Hayes replied, “What’s take out?”  Holy humility.  My boy didn’t know it had a name because it’s called ‘dinner’ in our house.  Shameful.

Even though I do not cook, I do, however, bake.  And as proud as I was to be able to feed 6 guys biscuits, pancakes or cinnamon rolls each morning (two of our boys brought friends on the trip with us), I didn’t account for the difference in baking in high altitude.  Did you know that was such a thing?


I quite possibly made the saddest looking apres ski brownies you’ve ever seen one day.  (Apparently, adding flour to your mix is key for edibility’s sake.)  Thankfully, teenage boys don’t care how things look and they courageously and cautiously scraped the thin layer of chocolate out of the brownie pan anyway.  God bless them.  But after I figured out the flour component, my blueberry muffins disappeared as soon as they came out of the oven.  It was a culinary victory at 9,000 ft.

In short, however, we had an amazing vacation celebrating the end of 8 long months, and Trevor and I realized we might never travel without the boys’ friends again as everyone was on their best behavior for 6 days in a row.  #thesecrettoagoodfamilyvacation



Boys with their friends meeting up with more friends from home on the slopes

Back to how I feel (which is probably the most terrifying phrase I can utter to my husband at times)…I think the best way to describe it is fully content.  Not to undermine the sheer joy I have knowing I don’t have to undergo chemo in a day or two (because there’s so much of that!!!!), but I also have an uncanny reverence for this disease knowing it could resurface any time it wants to.  So instead of living in an emotional state of teetering between joy and fear or highs and lows, I have learned how to stay steady in the middle.  The Lord has shown me (and grown me!) in the past few months that trusting Him regardless of circumstance is the answer to contentment.  And unintentionally, I just described Philippians 4:11-13 which says,

“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty…”.

In my case, I would substitute:

‘I know what it is to be sick and to have lost someone so dear to me and I know what it is to be healthy again and to celebrate life.’  

The past year and 1/2 has certainly taken me on an emotional ride.  I have seen the Lord in death and I have seen the Lord in life. He is ALWAYS there. How comforting to know our Savior never leaves our side!  So I’m left to trust.  I’m left to surrender to him regardless if I understand (good or bad) what is happening around me.  I’m left to combat fear with faith.  I’m left to depend on Him when I feel weak and depend on Him even more when I feel strong.  I’m left to resolve conflicts I have in relationships, I’m left to show love to those in need.  I’m left to tell the WORLD about the one who loves them unconditionally.  What a privilege.

So how do I feel?  Better than I have in a long long time.

My next step is to have a follow up appointment with my oncologist, Dr. O’Shaughnessy in late February.  It’s hard to believe, but that marks four months after completion of treatment for me.  Will someone please tell my hair?

Seriously, though, my hair IS growing back albeit grey and coarse.  And I might have way more in common with Billy Ray Cyrus’ mullet than I ever thought possible.  (I am TOTALLY business on front and party on back at this juncture.)


It may take awhile for the ‘business’ to catch up with the ‘party’, but I’m trying to be patient and praying one day soon I can ditch my baseball cap!  In other hair news, my eyebrows are back (those grow in FAST), and my eyelashes are just barely peeking over my lid.  SO CLOSE.  I’ve heard eyelashes fall out twice after treatment, but I’m on my knees praying that’s a nasty rumor.  Once is plenty for me.  I’ve tried taking pictures along the way to track the progression of my hair, brows & lashes for you guys, but I end up getting sad and deleting them.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it that things are finally moving in the right direction despite my current 90’s hairdo.

So as I head into tomorrow, I want to say thank you for praying with and for me.  And thank you for being such a great companion on this trip.  Please continue to pray for all of those battling cancer, as unfortunately the list grows each day.  I have so many dear friends facing dire circumstances with their loved ones right now, and my heart is literally broken for them.  This disease doesn’t care who it hurts.  And it is not considerate of caregivers.  So if you know someone battling or someone caring for a patient, please mail a card, give a hug or send a text.  Encouragement was the fuel to my fight, and I drew so much strength from all of your kind words over the past year.

And one last thing: PLEASE, ladies, PLEASE get your 3D mammograms if you haven’t already!!!  If for any other reason, you don’t want to be responsible for bringing mullets back.

Much love to you all & make every day count,



All I Want For Christmas…

Awhile back, when my doctor scheduled my reconstruction surgery date for December 6th, one of my very funny friends (who shall remain anonymous) said, “Now you can say ‘All I want for Christmas is my two front teet.'”  First of all, no one has EVER accused my friends of being vanilla. Secondly, the rule of ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’ applies in this case.  But here I am now – with Christmas around the corner – and I finally do have my two new front teet.  And while I may not shout my friend’s poignant phrase from the rooftops, it really is all I want for Christmas.  Because to me that means I’m cancer free and (Lord willing) finished with this crazy journey that is breast cancer.  Thank you Lord Jesus.

Not to be outdone by my friends, my husband brought home these from the store a few days after surgery.


I’m not sure if the Tom Thumb worker just thought it would be funny to package grapefruit in such a way, or if someone really is that oblivious.  Either way, I want to meet the person who thought this was a good idea and slid it past the produce manager.

With all these jokesters around it’s sometimes difficult to remember that I actually just had surgery.  Thankfully, my most recent surgery (reconstruction) was the easiest one by far.  I can’t determine if it’s just because I’ve done this so many times now, or if it really was that simple.  I’m thinking it’s the latter.  My sister and I didn’t even have to think twice about what to wear in pre-op.  #weareprosnow






Seriously, though, I was literally up and around the day after surgery as if not much had even happened.  Yes, I was sore.  Yes, I was bandaged up. Yes, I had two drains (you read that right – TWO MORE DRAINS – shoot me now).  But the pain was so minimal and really the only inconvenience was having to sleep on my back again for a few nights.  (Luckily, I remembered how to do this from my post mastectomy days.)  It was like deja vu all over again without all of the pain and discomfort.

Another deja vu moment happened when I took off the bandages this time around.  I kept telling my friends I didn’t want to take them off because what was underneath was there to stay and I feared I may be disappointed.  Before now, I knew that I would undergo a series of surgeries, therefore nothing was permanent.  But NOW I knew that I was about to cross the finish line and there was no restarting the race.  Thankfully, my plastic surgeon is a miracle worker in the truest sense of the word.  Without getting too weird (too late, you say?!), everything looked as if it’s always been there.  I marvel at modern medicine and want to break down and cry when I think about how these surgeons can create something so natural & feminine that cancer wanted to ultimately destroy.

Stephanie and I were in Dr. Potter’s office for my check up a few days after surgery (he is also Stephanie’s surgeon), and I told him how grateful I was for this gift.  There are no amount of words that describe feeling “normal” again after having something so horrendous happen to your body.  Steph and I agreed that Dr. P got a little verklempt when we were thanking him.  Either that, or he had tears of joy that this dynamic duo wouldn’t be visiting his office every other week in tandem.  Regardless, I like to think his compassion matches his talent and he was truly touched by our gratitude.

Most of my days since surgery have been spent getting ready for Christmas, helping my boys study for finals (they tell me I’m only good at coming up with funny acronyms, though – beyond that they enlist the help of their dad), and watching my kids play sports.  I’ve said this before, but I will never take for granted being able to sit in the bleachers and have my ONLY care be if my kid has good sportsmanship.  What a gift.  (It also helps tremendously if you get to sit through approximately 6 basketball games with a friend by your side, however).


Ahhhh my kids.  A lot of you have asked how they have dealt with this whole cancer thing.  Truthfully, I don’t know how to answer that.  They are boys.  And with boys, sometimes all you get is an extra pat on the shoulder or one less complaint about carrying in the groceries.  I often think of my friends with girls during these times, and imagine adorable homemade cards or decorated houses in celebration of the finale.  Not that I want or need these things, but big events like this highlight the chasm between the sexes if you will.  The tradeoff is zero drama and a quiet house, though, which I have grown to love and appreciate through the years.  Unfortunately for boys and girls alike who are directly affected by this disease, the word ‘cancer’ is all too common.  It’s inadvertently woven through the fabric of conversation and becomes as normal as words like ‘school’ or ‘lunch’.  They hear it in the car, on the phone, over dinner, etc.  In fact, Stephanie caught her kindergartner singing in the car the other day, ‘You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Cancer…”  Yep, that about sums it up.

I will say, however, that my boys have witnessed the kindness of strangers and the love of friends in SPADES this year.  They have also seen Trevor and me depending on the Lord like we never have before.  And I know in my heart of hearts they will be better for it.  That, plus they now have no qualms about talking about the female anatomy.  In fact, do you know what kind of bees get scared often?  BOO BEES (courtesy of a certain Kraus boy).  In all seriousness, though, I have noticed that all three boys have been extra kind and loving since my last surgery.  It’s as if they now feel confident enough that I’m going to be okay so they are free to love again.  And there’s no better feeling that that.


My next doctor’s appointments are in January, where I will have follow ups with Dr. Grant and Dr. Potter.  I will also finally have the skin cancer removed from my leg on January 18th. Hopefully after that, I won’t see the inside of a doctor’s office for quite some time!

In closing, I want to say that while I am beyond thrilled to have all of this behind me, my heart aches for those still fighting this dreaded disease.  Not surprisingly, I have grown close to many undergoing treatments during my same timeframe.  It’s hard to explain, but you become part of a little club while in battle.  There is a certain tenderness towards your fellow soldiers, and a camaraderie that is second to none.  After my surgery, I almost felt like I walked out on the club.  And yes, in this case, that’s something to celebrate.  But I’m forever changed, and I want my fellow cancer fighters to know that I will continue to fight with and for you until we are ALL out of this club!  (Ladies, I feel compelled to encourage you to go get a 3D mammogram if you haven’t already.  We need more stories with good endings!!!)

This Christmas will be a very special one for our family, as you can imagine.  But I pray that it is a special one for your family as well.  The very best gift of all is the opportunity to have a personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Don’t wait until something challenging in your life happens before you take advantage of this one.  Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!  I hope you get all YOU ever wanted…I know I did. 😉

Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count,


PS: A HUGE thank you to the Sewall family for carting Hayes around AGAIN. I couldn’t do this without you!  And to my sweet Bible study girls…I love you more than words and appreciate all of the delicious meals.  And lastly, thank you to my sweet front porch friends who gift me often as well as the thoughtful friends who have sent me little surprises in the mail.  I AM SO GRATEFUL.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. “  Isaiah 9:6

“Cancer is Good for the Closets”

That is what my friend Stephanie texted me yesterday as I was in FULL OUT NESTING mode.  I literally felt like the Tasmanian Devil as I cleaned out closets and threw away almost everything that was underfoot.  I had more energy than I’ve had in 6 months and could not stop.  I didn’t really think about why I was doing it, but after Stephanie texted, I realized that I was desperately trying to get everything in order before everything was seriously OUT of order starting tomorrow with my upcoming reconstructive surgery.

If you remember, Stephanie is my friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after I was.  Until now, I have done everything first and been able to coach her through the procedures, surgeries and appointments.  But because Stephanie didn’t have to do chemotherapy, she was able to finish her reconstruction process first.  She just had her final reconstructive surgery a week and a half ago (this involves removing the expanders and putting in implants).  Therefore, she recognized my crazy house cleaning because she, herself, had filled up 8 trash bags in her own home the day before she went under the knife.  So you know the saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it”?  I would improve upon that by adding, “If you really want something done, ask a woman whose about to undergo breast reconstruction”.


(Stephanie and I today  – NOT AT THE SPA.  Just at a joint doctor’s appointment – not kidding – with our plastic surgeon.  #welovetheirwafflerobes)

As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t wish cancer on ANYONE.  But having a buddy to go through this with has been indescribable.  And in Jennifer’s absence, it was so sweet of the Lord to give me Stephanie who truly understands this journey so I don’t feel so alone.

Since my last post, I have several updates.  Specifically as it relates to HAIR.  Praise God and Hallelujah – my hair is slowly starting to grow back!  I honestly thought I would be the one calling the lawyer hotline on that commercial that says, “If you or someone you love has suffered permanent hair loss due to the chemo drug Taxotere, please call 1-800-IAM-BALD.”  I could not be more excited about this development.  And even though that means shaving my legs again, I WILL TAKE IT.

The one (gazillionth) thing I have learned is that I cannot compare my road to anyone else’s.  When I asked a few cancer friends about how long it took for their hair to start growing back, their answers varied from one day to two weeks post treatment.  Well, here I am at 8 weeks and mine is literally just now growing back.  EIGHT WEEKS.  Thank goodness for a book my sweet friend, Lezley, gave me called ‘The Silver Lining.”


This beautiful book was written by a breast cancer survivor, who also happens to be a nurse.  She was the ONLY one that mentioned it took her about 8 weeks to finally start seeing sprouts.  I held out hope SPECIFICALLY because of her.

I know people mean well, but unless they physically document their cancer journey (i.e. WRITE IT DOWN), I’m learning their recollection of events can be a little fuzzy at best.  Similar to childbirth or the first year of your baby’s life (sure, your baby recited the alphabet at 3 months), we might not should rely on our memories past the age of 35.  Just sayin’.

So for all of you out there reaching and searching for answers to compare to your own story, take everything with a grain of salt.  God made each of us so unique (Psalm 139:14), and what is one person’s experience may not be another’s.  It takes lots of patience to learn this lesson but I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

In a similar vein, a lot of people had told me they lost their eyelashes and eyebrows approximately 4 weeks after chemo.



Wouldn’t you know I got all cocky after 4 weeks and thought I had finally beat SOMETHING?  Well, two Sundays ago, my eyelashes and eyebrows began to fall out.  Not even kidding.  And let’s just say that before my hair showed promise and my eyelashes were simultaneously hitting the floor, there may have been lots of tears.  I think I’ve explained before that this process feels like someone is slowly stripping away your femininity.  It’s so bizarre.  To not have my chest, my hair or my eyelashes makes me feel like I’m pulling the opposite of a Bruce Jenner.  So I’m trying to tap into that patience thing again and realize this is a marathon and not a sprint (even though back in the day Bruce could have totally conquered either).


And because of the skin cancer debacle, I learned that my surgeon is ultra picky about increasing the risk of infection around surgery (so thankful for this – I’m not complaining).  As a result, I grew a little concerned about a horrendous cough I had a few days ago.  This cough had lasted for over a week and wasn’t letting up.  I tried to forget about it, but my mom and my friend Casey asked if I should let my plastic surgeon know about it.  Hesitantly, I called to see if the cough might be a concern with my upcoming surgery.  Unfortunately, it was a big concern.  They wanted me to go for a chest x-ray to make sure I didn’t have an infection.  I got a little teary because anytime you go for a scan or an x-ray, a part of you gets nervous that they may find cancer somewhere else (in this case, my lungs).  It’s part of the curse.  Trevor was quick to allay my fears, however, and the chest x-ray was clear!  The funny part was I had made plans with my friend Kathy for lunch that day.  She lives in LoveJoy so this had been planned awhile back and I was really looking forward to seeing her.  We were all excited to go try a new restaurant in town, but I had to text her and see if she could meet me at the ER instead.  You know you have a good friend when…


Lastly, with the upcoming surgery tomorrow, one question remains:  To Nip or Not to Nip? (Why yes, I went there.)  Dr. Potter, my amazing plastic surgeon, is so gifted and is able to create an actual nip using my own skin.  Y’all.  These things look real.  It’s truly incredible.  I really hadn’t even considered doing this until Stephanie endorsed the process.  Once I saw what they looked like, I realized it made the ‘girls’ seem real.  Like ACTUAL girls.  Not like I’ve-had-breast-cancer-and-this-is-what-I’m-left-with girls.  It’s totally the difference between the winners bracket and consolation bracket.  Anyway, I’ve spent the better part of a week polling my girlfriends about whether or not to nip.  The consensus is a resounding nip nip hooray.  Cons include I will now need undergarments as the nips aren’t operable (read non retractable).  But pros, as my friend Angela noted, are that I’ll always be ready for Mardi Gras.  So there’s that.  On a more serious note, however, I am really giddy about feeling like a female again.


I want to thank you all again for taking this journey with me.  It helps so much to have your encouragement, support and prayers.  Your love for our family is so evident in all you do and I wish so badly I could express my gratitude in words.  As for tomorrow’s surgery, I would appreciate your continued prayers.  I go in at 6:30am and the surgery is scheduled for 8:30am.  It is a day surgery, so if all goes well I should be in my pjs and my own bed by early afternoon.  The recovery from this procedure is not nearly as difficult as the one from the mastectomy.  THANK THE LORD.

In closing, I wanted to wrap up with the sweetest card & thoughtful gift I received from Kim.  She says it better than I ever could…



2017 has been a tough year for our family, but I love the reminder to remember all of the LOVE we have received instead of all of the pain.  Thank you, friend, for the gift of perspective.  I love you and all of our boys!


Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count,


PS: When Jen was alive, we started a tradition of decorating gingerbread houses with Amy’s kids, my kids and Lincoln.  Last weekend, we were able to get together and churn out some incredible houses if I do say so myself.  I would venture to say that the closets in these houses may need some cleaning out, however.