Update on Chemo Plan

So…I went to see Dr. O’Shaughnessy (oncologist) yesterday and learned all about my chemo regime.  She is recommending 4 treatments, 3 weeks apart (start date TBD).  And even though my head understands that this is very doable and not too intense, my heart hasn’t caught up yet.  There is something very scary about the word ‘chemo’.  As well there should be.  I’m basically about to fill my body with poison on purpose.   That just doesn’t seem right.   But what’s also not right is the potential that there could still be some rogue cells running around in my body that need to be killed.  I’ll take being uneasy, uncomfortable and emotional over allowing the bad guys to win.

My physician mentioned that there were a few factors that helped her decide on chemotherapy.  Apparently there is a link between melanoma and breast cancer, and wouldn’t you know I had a melanoma last year on my left arm (near my shoulder).  I say this not to scare those of you who have had melanoma.  There are probably thousands and thousands of people with melanoma that never develop breast cancer.  It’s just a piece of the puzzle that factored into her decision.  In addition, my surgical oncologist (Dr. Grant) believed that my margins were clear enough to leave the ‘top girls’ intact during my mastectomy.  When the path report came back, however, there were microscopic cells still in the nips (as you know if you’ve been following along).   Lastly, my Oncotype score as I mentioned yesterday, was in the grey zone of whether or not to do chemo.  Those three factors coupled with her ‘gut’ helped Dr. O arrive at her conclusion that chemo was the smartest treatment safeguard for me at this juncture.  I will still run everything by the folks at MD Anderson on July 12th, but I do agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

AND that no nips is good nips.

As I mentioned before, Kim is in town from Boston and we are trying to make the most of this crazy visit.  Typically when she comes to Dallas, we have lots of fun things planned with our collective 7 boys (please gasp), and we laugh the entire time.  This time, however, we have absolutely nothing planned, and we have still laughed the entire time.

Except when we are crying.

Kim and I met at Texas A&M (Whoop!  That’s for you, Leah) many moons ago and have basically talked on the phone every single day since.  She’s my rock and I would not ever want to do life without her.


Trevor and I have also won Kim over to the dark side of not supervising your children and she’s hooked.  So these guys have been banned to the outdoors for a few days while we sit in the air conditioning and analyze life.


Today, Kim and I spent the day together researching these things called “cold caps” to wear during chemo in hopes of preserving your hair.  Although this process is quite tedious, I’m going to give it a try.  It’s a bizarre undertaking of basically freezing a swim cap and then adding a helmet on top to secure it as closely to your scalp as possible.  All of this is done only on the day you have chemo, but you wear it before, during and after the treatment (read: hours upon hours).   And according to the picture on the front page of their website, you are able to run through a field of tall grass carrying an extra long scarf with your gorgeous thick hair flowing in the wind after you are finished with treatment.



I sent this pic to Ashley to tell her I was practicing for my upcoming cold cap days…


And she one upped me with this reply…


There’s a reason I can’t ever stay sad around here.

Thank you so very much for all of your care and concern along the way.  My love language must be encouragement because I am FILLED UP each time I read a comment, a text or a letter from you.  It’s life-giving in every sense of the word.

And thank you, mom & Casey, for getting Hudson ready to leave for 2 weeks at camp!  My distracted mind almost forgot he was going, so I appreciate you gathering the essentials today.  If it were left up to me, he would have missed the bus entirely or gotten on with only one pair of underwear.  I can’t decide which is worse.

In closing, the Lord continues to provide me daily with peace, comfort, and an overwhelming sense of love.  This does not erase the fact, however, that I don’t understand ANY PART OF THIS.  Or hate it.  Or have a broken heart.  But I trust in him enough to know that this is part of his plan.  And that above all, his plan is the very best plan.  Period.

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


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

PS: I’ve had several people ask me about my ‘carried’ necklace you see pictured above.  My precious friend, Sheaffer, sent that to me shortly after I was diagnosed and I think I haven’t taken it off since.  I received it the very day I had written in my blog about feeling ‘carried’ by all of your prayers.  THE VERY DAY.  Like, there’s no way she knew I was going to describe the way I felt that day.  #chills So thank you guys for carrying me, and thank you, Sheaffer, for the beautiful reminder each day that I am carried.  I bet my neighbor who confronted me about not using a leash wished I had ‘carried’ Dodger on my walk as well.  😉


One Shade of Grey

Well, I finally got the news I’ve been waiting for today (from my Oncotype test) and it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear.  In one of my last posts, I asked you all to pray for a score lower than 20 so that I wouldn’t have to do chemotherapy.  And you were so sweet to leave tons of comments like ‘Praying for under 20!’ and ‘Lord please let the score be less than 20!’.  As Dr. O’ Shaughnessy (oncologist) explained to me at my last visit, a score of 18 and below would mean no chemo.  And a score of 20 and above would indicate chemo.  I’ve always been slightly complicated, so I wasn’t too surprised when my score came back as this…


In hindsight, I should have been a little more specific on my prayer request.

NINETEEN.  Seriously?!  I believe that puts me in the GREYest of GREY areas.  However, with cancer, grey may as well be black.  Because who’s going to gamble with 1 point?  NOT ME.

I will meet with Dr. O’ Shaughnessy tomorrow morning to go over the details, but her nurse told me that due to my young age, Dr. O was going to recommend chemo.  I’m not gonna lie, the news hit me really hard.  Like cry for hours hard.  I mentioned this earlier, but cancer has a funny way of humbling you at every turn.  Just when you think you’re gaining momentum, you get knocked down again.  It’s maddening.

The good news is the Lord TRULY (and I mean in every sense of the word) has gone before me (Deuteronomy 31:8) and paved the way so beautifully with so many details even in times like this.  For instance, my best friend from Boston, Kim, had already planned on being in town this week and was with me ALL day to process.  Normally we spend an hour or two on the phone each morning analyzing life, but having the GIFT of processing together face to face was priceless.  Never mind that we took our SEVEN, yes SEVEN, boys to Jump Street during all of this, and that our processing took place at a picnic table in the party room.


Cause I can think of no better place than the party room at a trampoline park to cry it out about chemo.

Another way the Lord went before me was that I had the opportunity, through FRAMILY (friends who are like family), to connect with MD Anderson a few weeks ago and make an appointment for a second opinion.  It seemed like overkill at the time because my situation felt pretty simple in cancer terms.  But I was so grateful for the connection and felt the Lord prompting my heart to continue down that path.  A few days prior to making the appointment, I had a conversation with my friend, Kay, who is battling lymphoma like a BOSS.  She asked me if I was going to get a second opinion and I was a little speechless.  I told her that I ALWAYS recommend a second opinion to anyone with cancer, but oddly hadn’t even considered it for myself.  Thus, the reason for my follow through and for my upcoming summer vacation in Houston.  The Holy Spirit is good like that.

My thought in securing an appointment with MDA early on was that if my Oncotype score was low and chemo was not recommended, I would love to hear that twice.  But if the score was high and chemo was recommended, I wanted someone else to lay eyes on my case and concur.  I’m a bit paranoid because the list of those close to me who have been diagnosed with cancer is growing rapidly (more on that later).  All that said, I am beyond grateful that my appointment with MDA is scheduled for July 12th, which is only 2 weeks away.  They even called me today to let me know that all of my scans, labs, etc. had already arrived and my case file was 146 pages long.  I don’t know whether to be nervous or happy about that.  But I do know I’m thrilled that I’m not scrambling now to make that appointment, and feel confident that the Lord set all of that in motion before I even knew I needed it.

Emotionally, chemo is a tough pill to swallow.  I told my friend Alyson that because Jen didn’t have a double mastectomy, there haven’t been too many memories of her journey associated with my recent surgery and recovery.  But undergoing chemo will most assuredly usher in so many of those as I’ve sat in that treatment room with her at Baylor 1000 times.  But I keep reminding myself that the same God who orchestrated friends in town and MD Anderson appointments is the same God who will walk every step of the way with me down this unknown path.

In other news, I went in for my second inflation on Monday, the 26th, and it was so much better than the first.  Dr. Potter’s (plastic surgeon) office provides these beautiful thick waffle robes for their patients, so I just closed my eyes this time and pretended I was lying on a massage table by the beach instead of being blown up like a balloon for a five year old’s birthday party.  This is when I’m so thankful for such a vivid imagination.   The only negative from the appointment was that every where I looked that day I saw things like this:


And this:


Not kidding.

This is about the time in my post when I feel compelled to apologize to all of the sweet men who are following my journey.  I am so sorry, but I’ve always been a bit unfiltered.

With all of the humor I have about such a dreaded disease, however, there are times when my heart is literally broken.  And one such time happened almost 2 weeks ago on June 16th.  It was my dear friend, Stephanie’s, birthday.  Remember the beautiful birthday party I had the day before my mastectomy when my friends prayed for me?  Stephanie hosted that party.  She’s the beauty on the front row in BLUE right beside me:


(Catherine, Stephanie, Courtney, me & Casey; AKA “Five Blondes that Walked into a Plastic Surgeon’s Office”)

Stephanie is one of the first friends I met when I moved to Dallas in 2010, and I’ll never forget something she said after we got to know one another a few weeks later.  She and I were standing on the Hyer playground and she said, ‘I think you are my speed’ (referring to how we raise our kids and live our lives).  And if I didn’t say it out loud, I was thinking ‘well, if you are a sloth then I think we are good.’  And we have been slothing together ever since.


Stephanie found out on her birthday (while Casey and I just happened to be at her house with her) that she has breast cancer.  I’m sorry, but WHAT DID YOU SAY?!  How is it even possible that I have another close friend inducted into this club?  Thank the Lord Stephanie’s prognosis is good, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the memories of caring for a friend with cancer are all too vivid and painful.  Her diagnosis brought back a FLOOD of emotions, and I’m still perplexed that we are here.

I love my friend with all of my heart and am struggling to make sense of this.  But thankfully, we’ve already been able to laugh through tears and recognize the sweetness of traveling this road together.  Even if it is at a sloth’s pace.

I would appreciate your prayers for my appointment tomorrow, as well as my upcoming surgery on July 6th (removal of the nips – sorry again, men).  I will update tomorrow if I learn anything new about chemo, but for now I just ask (BEG) you to continue encouraging me with your sweet cards, calls, prayers, texts and visits.  They literally FEED MY SOUL.

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


PS: I was on a walk with my dog this morning and was confronted by a lady for not having Dodger on a leash.  Admittedly, I should have.  But I blurted out before thinking, ‘I’m sorry but I just had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer, and I cannot have my 55 pound Labradoodle pulling on me right now.’  She literally took 3 steps back and said, ‘I shouldn’t have said that.’  I assured her it was okay and that yes I should have my dog on a leash, but that I needed a little extra grace today.  To which she said, ‘of course.’  So to you, nice lady just trying to follow the rules, I sincerely apologize and I hope I didn’t send you into what Jen used to call a SHAME SPIRAL.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8


We Just Want to Pump, You Up!

Well, I’m elated inflated.  The first ‘expansion’ is over and wow, what a process.  My friend, Jenny, sent this today in honor of the occasion.


Today I went with Ashley, Jennifer and my mom to Dr. Potter’s office for an 11:15 appointment.   (And for all of those wondering…yes, Ashley drove and I’m so happy my büber driver is back.)


(Jennifer, mom, me & Ashley yesterday.  Today, humidity prevailed.)

First of all, let me just say that the entire process of breast reconstruction is SO BIZARRE.  The best way to explain what I had done today is for you to watch this 30 second G rated video. (You can thank my friend, Kim V, later.  HYSTERICAL)

Anyway,  we went to Dr. Potter’s office and ended up meeting some nice, new friends in the waiting room.  My sisters and I had just commented that it’s so weird to sit in a plastic surgeon’s waiting room (in Dallas of all places) and wonder what everyone is there for.  It is quite possibly the best people watching I’ve ever experienced.

And I’ve been to the mall in Killeen.

However, after meeting our new friends, whom I would have NEVER guessed were there because of cancer, I realized I can’t assume why anyone is sitting in that waiting room.  One of these girls had more energy than my sisters and I combined, and the other was so young and beautiful.  You really just never know what the people next to you are going through.  Jen used to always say Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate.  And today reminded me of that truth.

While we were waiting for our names to be called, our new friends ended up swapping beauty tips with us (remedies for hair growth, lash boost, etc).  And before you roll your eyes with judgement, these products take on a whole new meaning when touted by those who have lost their hair and eyelashes to chemo.  Later, Ashley told me they asked for my name so they could put me on their prayer list.  Someone please hand me the kleenex.  Now that I have theirs as well, I will do the same (‘Jennifer & Christie’ in case you have a list too).  I was so struck by how quickly I felt connected to these women if even for a brief moment.  Cancer is funny like that.  It acts as a magnet that forcibly pulls people together whose lives have been affected by it.

Before we met Jennifer & Christie, I started tearing up in the waiting room.  I was distracted this past weekend with Father’s Day and my sweet dad’s 80th birthday, so this was the first time I’d really given this “fill up” any thought.  How does it work?  Does it hurt?  Why did they suggest I take a muscle relaxer?  Ashley is good at shutting down my tears and began searching YouTube for how the process works.  Once we saw the process, all of my fears were allayed and I felt much better.  Ash and YouTube for the win.

Once in the exam room, I asked how many times I would be getting inflations over the course of this reconstruction.  The PA said approximately 3-4 times.  Then she began the process.  She simply located the expander they placed during surgery with a special device.   Then she inserted a butterfly (tiny) needle which has a small tube connected to it.  Lastly, she injected a small amount of saline into the tube.  I started flinching when it got tight, and thankfully she said she would stop.  Then she repeated the same steps for the other side.  I was mesmerized by the entire experiment, and could not believe how quickly I went from 12 years old to Dolly Parton.


(The Growing Up Skipper Doll)

My sisters quickly asked if they could be next.

After all was said and done, the PA said ‘Well, maybe you’ll only need 1 or 2 more expansions instead of 3 or 4.’  I have no idea where she got that idea.


Upon leaving the office, the conversation went something like this:

Me: Well, that’s one down!  Jennifer: Or Two down!  Mom: Or Two Up!

And that’s why I love my family.  Especially when we aren’t wrinkly.

Now I’m back at home in bed resting in PJ’s awaiting my muscle relaxer to kick in.  I could not be more thrilled that the first of these inflations is over.  

Thank you for your prayers, texts and concern.  Please keep them coming.  I should receive my results from the Oncotype test this week (which will determine my likelihood of having chemo) and I will keep you posted on that as well.

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


PS: I purchased a heavy duty air pump for Trevor as a Father’s Day Gift to fill up our pool floats, bikes and gazillion basketballs.  NOT EVEN THINKING.  Something tells me in light of this whole process, he may be tempted to use it for purposes not included in the manual.IMG_4957.JPG.jpeg










Pending Warrior Status

The NBC hit show, ‘America Ninja Warrior‘ is all about conquering one difficult challenge at a time as contestants navigate an insanely rigorous obstacle course.  It always amazes me that after the participants do something like this…


they have to do something like this…


then this…


I don’t know about you, but I can think of about 1,000,000 other things I’d rather be doing.  Like this…


Or even this (minus the peacock blanket)…


The point being, it’s hard enough to get over one huge hurdle.  But then to realize there’s another one right in front of you, then another, then another, calls your endurance into question.  There’s a reason these people are called WARRIORS.  And probably not ONE of them owns a peacock blanket.

This long obstacle course full of challenge after challenge is a tad bit what the cancer process feels like.  You get through one surgery, then there’s another.  One appointment, then another.  And while I’m not at Warrior status just yet, I have a feeling I might qualify when all of this is said and done.

As mentioned in my previous post, Dr. Potter’s office called the other day to let me know that my nipplectomy (not an official term although it should be) was scheduled for July 6th.  I originally thought (hoped) it would be much sooner, but Dr. Potter’s timing wins.  And let’s face it, what would my journey be without marking special occasions and holidays with a biopsy, surgery or procedure?!  #happyeaster #happyanniversary #happybirthday #happy4thofjuly

Then Tuesday afternoon, my mom, Karen, and sister, Jennifer, took me to Dr. Grant’s office for a surgical follow up visit.  My mom drove us there, and the nicest thing I can say about that is she is not in jeopardy of getting pulled over for speeding anytime soon.  Ashley normally drives in these situations, but because she had to pick her kids up at the same time as my appointment, Karen took the wheel (where’s Jesus when you need him?).  It literally took us longer to navigate the parking garage than it did for me to have my actual appointment (I wish I was kidding).  My prayer is that Ashley’s kids don’t go anywhere else the entire summer so she can resume her role of being our “büber” driver (a coined term by the Berry girls thank you very much).

Dr. Grant was so encouraging and said everything was healing nicely (yay!!).  Also, he gave me some daily exercises to strengthen my muscles and to regain full range of motion.  Literally my appointment took 5 minutes max from start to finish.    I’m not sure Karen would would have even made it to the second level of the parking garage by then.  (In her defense, however, she can deliver groceries and walk my dog like a beast.  We all have our gifts.  I love you, mom.)

After my appointment, I was feeling so happy.  Even though every day has been very different in terms of recovering, that was a good day.  And I get really excited about the good days.

The following morning, I got a call from Dr. Potter’s office telling me that my first ‘inflation’ (my term, not theirs) needed to be scheduled.  FOR NEXT MONDAY.  As in the day after #fathersday.  What?!  I thought I was in the clear at least until my nip surgery.  Ugh.  And even though this is a super minor ‘thing’ and a necessary part of the process, this is how it felt…


Without the range of motion.

Anyhow, when I texted Trevor to tell him about Monday’s inflation appointment, he replied with this:


And that’s why I tell people I have 4 boys, not 3.

Dr. Potter’s nurse told what to expect in terms of pain or side effects after the first expansion (I believe this is actually the technical term).  She said to take Alleve and possibly a muscle relaxer as these often times cause muscle spasms.  Totally not pumped about that (pardon the reverse pun).  She also mentioned to plan on not driving myself.  (Insert your own Karen joke here).

So, just when I thought the only thing I had to concentrate on was not injuring myself while pulling a gallon of milk from the fridge (let me just say OUCH), I’m presented with another hurdle.  But I feel completely confident that with all of your continued support, encouragement and prayers, this ninja is ready!!

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


“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:14



Top 10 Things I’ve Learned So Far

Thank you so much for all of your kind words and continued prayers.  I draw strength from every single comment, and am grateful you take the time to show how much you care.  It means SO VERY MUCH.

I spoke with Dr. Potter’s (plastic surgeon) office today and finally have a date for my next surgery.  July 6th.  I originally thought the surgery would be within a week or two after my last appointment, but I was wrong.  Again.  I’m learning (slowly) to let go of plans, which is a killer for this type A gal.  Plans are my thing.  I have a secret love affair with spreadsheets, schedules & organizing.  So for me to not be able to plan is like telling a child they can’t have ice cream while standing in line at Baskin Robbins.  It’s downright CRUEL.

The other day, however, I ran across this and thought it was a beautiful reminder of who is actually in control of my schedule.


Everyday when I wake up, I pray for God to reveal what it is he is working on in my life (I’ve had a lot of extra time lately).  Surely if I’m going to endure a struggle like this, there’s a lesson (or ten) in it.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, my friend Bryce sent me a link to an article written by John Piper entitled, ‘Don’t Waste Your Cancer’.  I highly recommend it.  Not only for those going through cancer, but for anyone who is going through a difficult time or will go through a difficult time.  (Ummmm, so basically ALL OF US.)  The article is a good reminder that we have a choice of what to do with the hardships in our life: basically sulk or shine (my words).  And since then, my prayer has become to not waste my cancer.  Oh, and to shine like the Texas sun in the middle of August.

I have learned so much over the past two months.  I thought I would share my top ten lessons (thus far) here so that I won’t forget them down the road. But also, so that I can pass along the wisdom I’ve gained hopefully without you having to walk the same road as I am walking.

  1. Let Go.  Of plans, of schedules, of control.  I have such a false sense of being in control of my life, and each day I’m a little more embarrassed of the illusion I’ve had for so long.
  2. Nothing is certain in this life.  I’m beginning to understand how arrogant it is for me to presume things.  Even a tomorrow.  The people who say the phrase ‘Lord willing’ are starting to seem like the wisest souls on earth.
  3. Focus on the big picture.  All of the little details I fret about pale in comparison to God’s plan.  Having a disease in my body with a reputation for killing people is no small thing.  Life is worth fighting for; getting my kid into a certain class/camp/college is not.  Someone remind me of this in 3 years please.
  4. Relationships matter.  We have lived in several different cities throughout our marriage and I have friends from each city who are cancer survivors and have reached out to me (I’m looking at you Haley B., Kim V. & Laura B).  Couple that with the gazillion friends from my childhood, college and my adult life who have also served as angels in this process, and you realize how much relationships matter.  God weaves our lives together so beautifully and investing in people is paramount.  You never know when you will need one another down the road.
  5. Be patient.  Slow down, get quiet and listen to God.  I’ve heard his voice so much louder lately – in part because I’ve been forced to be still, and in part because I’m desperate to know how to navigate these waters.  It makes me wonder what I’ve missed all these years.  These noisy years.
  6. Be present.  Soak up those brief moments when teenagers want to talk – even if it’s not convenient.  Soon I won’t have mine around to keep me up until midnight (because apparently they don’t come alive until that God forsaken hour).  Enjoy them while you can – no matter the hour.
  7. Make a difference.  My TEST is my testimony.  What God gives me (good or bad) is my platform to share his goodness and grace.  I pray that I use my story for his glory.  (Is it weird that I just heard that as a rap in my head? Where’s RUN-D.M.C. when I need them?)
  8. Ask more of my kids.  I’ve realized how much I do for my kids because right now (post surgery) I can’t do anything for my kids.  LITERALLY.  Who knew they could actually do the dishes, set their alarms, bathe the dog and do their own laundry?  (Hudson just read this over my shoulder and groaned.  I may never go back to doing laundry ever again.)
  9. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.  I have definitely taken for granted how comfortable I am in life (mentally, spiritually & physically).  Cancer has shoved me out of my comfort zone (mentally, spiritually & physically) and I’m learning to not be afraid of being uncomfortable.  It’s okay to think differently, shift my mindset, squirm a bit.  No one ever died from simply being uncomfortable.
  10. Find the beauty in the ugly.  Cancer is ugly, but there is so much beauty to be found along the way.  I’m learning how to focus on the gifts that accompany the curse. Like friends who take my dog to the vet, friends who pick up my child for 6am daily workouts, friends who take my kids to camp, friends who bring me smart waters, teas and my favorite snacks, friends who feed my family with delicious meals, friends who call and text just when I need it, family who goes to appointments with me, family who takes my kids to the dentist, family who brings me groceries, family who encourages me to do just a little bit more than the day before, etc.  Someone stop me as I feel a spreadsheet coming on.  You know who you are and I love each of you dearly.

I realize this list is neither earth shattering nor profound.  These are all things I’m pretty sure we’ve heard before or are written somewhere in books like this:


However, they have never meant as much to me as they do now.  It’s like when someone gives you advice about being a parent before you have kids, then you actually have kids and everything they said suddenly makes sense.  Everything is now making sense. A LOT of sense.

I have a follow up appointment with Dr. Grant (surgical oncologist) tomorrow afternoon, then should be finished with appointments for a few weeks until I get my Oncotype score  (the proliferation index) back.  Please continue to pray for me to be at peace with the results of that test.  If they are good, you might just find me eating a polar pizza from Baskin Robbins (thanks Deanna) while creating a spreadsheet with ‘It’s Tricky‘ or ‘My Adidas‘ (Chris & Jonathan please tell me you still have that karaoke cassette tape) playing in the background.

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


PS: Just for the record, my husband is WAY hotter than Ryan Reynolds.  😉

“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”  Proverbs 4:13


Slumber Party, Anyone?

Today was a banner day.  I have finally turned the corner and am feeling somewhat like a human being.  And it feels AMAZING.  I had a much harder time dealing with the side effects of surgery (I’ll spare you the details) than I had anticipated, so today was a huge gift.  Thank you so much for all of your prayers, as I truly do feel them.

In the last 17 days, I can count on ONE HAND the times I’ve gotten out of my pajamas (and maybe even my bed).  And before you make the mistake of thinking that sounds like a VACATION, let me assure you it was anything but.  Yes, my epic slumber party might have been filled with multiple viewings of ‘The Proposal’ and ‘Friends’ reruns, however it was also filled with extreme pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, sleeping ONLY on my back, headaches, burning chest, sleeplessness, achy muscles, etc.

And all of that is something even Ryan Reynolds can’t fix.


On second thought…

But today. TODAY.  I got up, took a bath, got dressed and even put on mascara.  I didn’t even recognize myself.  This is what my kids and dog did when I walked in the kitchen.


Then Trevor called and asked if I wanted to have lunch before my first appointment with the oncologist, Dr. O’ Shaughnessy, today at 3:30pm. (You might remember I’ve already seen the surgical oncologist, Dr. Grant, and the plastic surgeon, Dr. Potter prior to this, but this my first visit with the oncologist. Confused yet?  Me too.)  I surprised myself and everyone else when I said YES to lunch.

Trevor and I took our youngest son, Hayes, to eat and I couldn’t believe how great it felt to be out among real people.  When you’ve been participating in a perpetual slumber party for the past few weeks, it feels so foreign to be in the land of the living.  I didn’t even miss Rachel, Phoebe or Monica.


After lunch, we came home and met my sisters, Jennifer and Ashley, and my mom to go to my appointment.  Unfortunately, my dad is still sick with a horrible cough, so he didn’t join us.  We left for Baylor and arrived a WEE BIT EARLY for my appointment.  I can’t help that I married a man that gets us to the airport 4 hours before take off…just in case.  I started feeling a little shaky (emotionally) when we got out of the car and headed to the 4th floor of the very familiar Sammons building.  I cannot count the times over the past few years that I’ve pulled into that circle drive with Jen. (But I can promise you it’s more than the times I’ve washed my hair lately.)  Seriously, though, there was an odd comfort in knowing my way around, but also a real sadness in arriving without my friend to the same place that treated her so well for so long.

We got off the elevator on the 4th floor and I was completely overwhelmed with emotion.  Like RIGHT THERE in that space where all of the elevators meet.  It took my breath away to look at the double glass doors ahead knowing it was actually me that was about to check in as the patient.  Trevor reached out and held me for a minute until I regained composure.  Then I walked in to the waiting room and saw the most beautiful familiar face of Michelle, the woman who is a constant behind the desk.  She looked puzzled to see me, so I explained why I was there in a very unsteady voice.  She kept reassuring me that, ‘honey, we are going to do this and it’s going to be okay’.  She then got up from behind the desk and walked all the way around for a huge bear hug.  Well, how can a girl stay dry after that?!  She whispered in my ear that ‘God is good and He is strong.  He’s got this.’.  And in that moment, I began to understand why the Lord had led me back to Baylor.  As my friend Angela pointed out, Jennifer had forged so many relationships there and I was now the benefactor of her relational investment.  How Great Thou Art.  Seriously.

I filled out a mountain of paperwork as my family and I dreamed up ways to streamline that dreadful process.  If only Mr. Wonderful, Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban would have been there.  Finally I was called back for my appointment.  Trevor and I weren’t 5 steps in before I spotted Jennifer’s former nurse, Christina.  She came over and we just gave each other that look.  The one that says ‘I’m so happy to see you but I cannot even believe we are here’.  We hugged and caught up while my poor nurse was trying to ask me all kinds of questions and take my blood pressure.  Our timing was way off but we couldn’t help ourselves.  Christina even came into the exam room while the nurse was doing her intake.  And if that wasn’t enough, another sweet nurse, Elena, came in the room and said hello as well.  It was like a little party and I had not even changed into my gown yet.  While we were mid sentence, there was a knock at the door.  And then entered Dr. O’ Shaughnessy.  She was so cute about asking if she was missing something as everyone was so jovial and familiar.  Christina explained the connection with Jen and Dr. Osborne (Jen’s oncologist), and I will never forget the way Dr. O’ Shaughnessy looked at me after that.  She had such sincere compassion in her eyes.  (She was familiar with Jen’s case as they all work together in the same practice and share case studies with one another.)  I knew right then that God had answered ALL of our prayers for me to find just the right team of doctors for my journey.

After a quick physical examination, my family came in and we all got to hear the wonderful news.  Dr. O (which is what I’ll call her for now although it’s weird because we also called Jen’s doctor, Dr. Osborne, ‘Dr. O’;  that, and the fact that I feel very insecure every single time I type ‘Shaughnessy’ for fear of misspelling it) sat beside me and went through my full pathology report after surgery.  She said over and over again how ‘favorable’ my report was and that she feels like it’s the best of the worst.  Can I get an AMEN?!  Then Elena (who is now MY nurse!) came in and reiterated the same great news.  PRAISE THE LORD.  The next step is to send off tissue samples to a lab in California for something called an Oncotype.  An Oncotype is a proliferation score that tells us how quickly the cells are multiplying. If this score comes back at an 18 or under, I will simply start an estrogen blocker medication, Tamoxifen, and take that for up to 5 years.  If the score is higher than 20, I will do chemo but only for 4 times (she called it chemo ‘light’ relative to all the other chemos).  Then I will be done barring any recurrence.  DONE.  Cheers to that!


Trevor may or may not have teared up after hearing the fantastic news.  Why?  Because cancer is all around us.  And receiving even one smidgen of positive news can bring you to tears.  One of my very best childhood friends, Susan, just recently found out her husband Patrick has stage 4 glioblastoma (brain cancer).  And one of Trevor’s childhood best friends, Brandon, found out his wife Kay has stage 4 non hodgkins lymphoma. Another precious family I grew up with at church is coming up on the first anniversary of their daughter, Laura’s, death from breast cancer this Sunday.  And of course, there’s Jen.

I realize Trevor and I aren’t unique in being touched by this horrible disease.  I’m sure you all have stories that have broken your heart as well.   But there is a beauty in sharing stories.  A strength in numbers if you will.  And to receive good news seems much much sweeter in light of all that surrounds us.  Your arms feel as if they are literally wrapping around and squeezing the word gratitude.  Yet simultaneously there is a deep tenderness for those who may not have good news, or may not have the ending they desired.  It’s the epitome of experiencing the emotional gamut.  That’s why Trevor teared up.  He gets it, and so do I.

God is the reason for our joy and the comforter of our pain.  He walks every step of the road with us and never ever leaves us.  If there is one message I could convey throughout this journey, I pray it is that.  I heard a quote one time that I have to rehearse in my head about 3 times before I ever recite it.  But it is worth it.  “Don’t wait until God is all you have to realize he is all you need.”  Truer words were never spoken.  Enjoy your good health if you are blessed with it.  Love your people well every single day.  And never take for granted your ability to run even the simplest of errands without asking for help (did I mention I cannot drive yet?!).  It is truly a privilege and a gift.

I love you all and appreciate you following along with me.  Oh, and I assure you the next time I have a slumber party devoid of headaches and nausea (but full of Ryan Reynolds), you are all invited.

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


PS: Trevor took a picture of my sisters, mom and I in the exam room that I planned on including in this post.  But on the way home, Ashley looked at it and said, ‘Gosh we are really wrinkly.’  To which I replied, ‘I know, that lighting was HARSH.’  And she said, ‘I meant our clothes.’  So next time we will try to iron our faces shirts so I can show off my support team.


Down the Drain(s)!

So so excited!!  My two remaining drains were removed today, and I feel a lot more like a human and a lot less like an octopus.  It’s fabulous.  Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to endure the pain and get rid of those crazy things.  And thank you, friends, for praying for me this week when I was in so much pain.  Your prayers are honestly the only thing getting me through each day.

With drains, you basically need something with pockets that holds them close to your body so they don’t pull (so fun, right?).  My friend, Aly, (whom I’ve deemed my cancer angel) gave me a tool belt apron, albeit a lot more stylish, when this journey began.


I didn’t understand the significance at first, but after wearing it EVERY DAY for 10 days, it eventually sunk in.  And because I’m infamous for not cooking,  Trevor made the comment that this was the first time in 19 years of marriage he’s ever seen me in an apron.  I hope he took a picture because that’s also the last time he will ever see me in an apron.  #hopehedoesn’tstarve

And as if getting the drains removed wasn’t good enough, I also got my pathology report back this week and it was great news.  Praise the Lord!!!! There were no cancerous cells on my right side (the unaffected side) and only microscopic cells on my left side towards the top (or to be more frank, the “nip”).

If that made you nervous, I’d advise you to stop reading now.  With all of my doctor’s visits, I’ve become unashamedly comfortable discussing private parts with strangers.  

Awhile back, I talked about how overwhelmed I was on my first visit to the plastic surgeon’s office with all of the reconstruction options available.  Most of those options had to do with whether or not you removed the nip (while I have no shame, I simply cannot bring myself to type the entire word) during the mastectomy.  Ideally, you would keep everything you could, but only if it did not jeopardize your health.  Dr. Grant was willing to try and spare the nip during my mastectomy, but once the path report came back and indicated cancerous cells were still present, he said we need to go ahead and get everything out.  I wholeheartedly concur.

While I’m a little sad, the great news is that plastic surgeons can do amazing things these days to recreate what God gave us in the first place.  It’s truly mind blowing.  They can actually tattoo 3D nips which look pretty real.  Ashley, my mom and I laughed today because Dr. Potter’s nurse told us of a genius tattoo artist named ‘Vinny’ that travels around the country doing this.  Apparently his mother had breast cancer and he became passionate about turning something bad into something beautiful.  Who doesn’t love that?  Vinny frequently comes to Dallas, so I could make an appointment with him if I choose.  And as sweet as that backstory is, I’m not gonna lie that this is what came to mind when I heard about Vinny…


I sure hope I’m wrong.  I really don’t want to end up with a fire breathing dragon or a pegasus across my chest.

I inquired to the nurse about whether or not I should remove the opposite nip (since it wasn’t medically warranted) and she said the funniest thing:  “If you do just one side, we can make them look like sisters.  If you do both sides, we can make them look like twins.”  Twins it is.

So…I will be having another surgery in the next week or so to remove the rest of the cancerous cells and then I can boldly say I’m cancer free!

There are three things in life I thought I’d never have – implants, tattoos and twins.  I guess God has a clever way of surprising us, because if all goes according to planned, I’ll have all three before Christmas.

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


“Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”  Psalm 150:2,6