Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, “There is a time for everything…a time to mourn and a time to dance.” It is finally time to DANCE.
First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you are able to hug the people you love the most this time of year. Obviously, this Thanksgiving means a lot to me as I feel like I have SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR. And not in a cliche type of way. Like a real GET DOWN ON MY KNEES and PRAISE GOD type of way. When I look back at the last 7 months, I can’t believe how much has happened and how much my life has changed. I’ve experienced emotions and challenges I never thought possible. But the Lord has sustained me. He promised to give me everything I need to get through each day (Philippians 4:19) and He has delivered on that promise. I pray that I CLING to that truth in the days, months and years ahead.
My last post left off in the middle of the World Series, which was so darn exciting. Our family couldn’t get enough so we traveled to Houston to catch game #4.
I know it’s hard to tell who we are rooting for, but (spoiler alert) it’s not the Astros. This night happened to be the ‘Stand Up 4 Cancer’ night so that was fairly sobering. At one point, the entire crowd stood holding a sign and pausing for a moment of silence (you can see the signs taped to the seats around us). To think of all the people who have been touched by this disease is a little overwhelming. I dare say each one of us has in some form or another. My prayer every morning before my feet hit the floor is for my long list of friends currently battling cancer. I even have a post it note on my bathroom mirror with each name to help remind me throughout the day to pray. I can’t say it enough how destructive and time consuming and exhausting this battle is. But I hope to be an encouragement to those continuing the fight (you know who you are and YOU ARE LOVED).
And if you happen to be walking alongside someone with cancer, my friend Melanie wrote a beautiful article about how to do it with grace, humility and most of all humor. Mel was good friends with my friend Jen, whom we lost fifteen months ago. I love how she captures Jen’s neon personality, which was larger than life itself. Click here to read the article.
(Me, Mel, Jen & Gulley)
Anyway (as I try to change the subject so I won’t cry), the World Series. Unfortunately, the Dodgers didn’t come home with the trophy, but they sure did have an exciting run. Congratulations to all you Astros fans out there! And here’s to next year, Dodger fans!
In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to see a specialist for my skin cancer who was trained in both MOHS surgery and PLASTIC surgery. This was super exciting to me, as I didn’t want my leg to end up looking like it had been chewed on by an alligator after they took out my 3 spots. In fact, my sweet friend Anne sent me these in case I had to cover up! #myfriendsaresothoughtful #bringingbackthe80’s
The physician was amazing and I decided right then to just to go ahead and book an appointment for surgery. If you remember, the surgical option was in place of me doing the chemo cream every day for 6 weeks. I don’t know if I was just tired of the thought of having to put that cream on every day or if I really was that impressed with the doctor, but this surgeon made me feel like he could make my leg look pretty normal after we were all done and I was good with that.
Good plan, right? WRONG.
My other plastic surgeon, (Surely that is a phrase only Joan Rivers used…how is this my reality?!), the one who is doing my breast reconstruction, just informed me that he did not want me to have the MOHS surgery 3 weeks before OR 3 weeks after my reconstruction. Hello?! Since my reconstruction is scheduled for December 6th, I had to cancel my MOHS surgery and am now back to square one on skin cancer. The good news is that my dermatologist is not worried about it spreading as it’s superficial. But I might have to reconsider the cream again as I’d like to be finished by the end of the year with all of this mess!!!
In other news…I had my final follow up with Dr. O’ Shaughnessy on Halloween (of COURSE it was on a holiday) and my blood work looked great. She said I was good to go for another 4 months and the only thing I needed to do was to start Tamoxifen. This is a drug that blocks estrogen receptors in my body, thus slowing down the growth and reproduction of breast cancer cells. The protocol is to take this drug every day for 5+ years (yes, you read that right) and the side effects mimic menopause. So you can imagine just how pumped I am about Tamoxifen. I was actually getting a pedicure the other day and picked up a People magazine to read (because I’m deep like that), which mentioned Tamoxifen. There was an article written about Harry Connick’s wife, former model Jill Goodacre’s battle with breast cancer. She said that she had experienced weight gain with Tamoxifen and even referred to it as ‘Tamoxifen Tummy’. Here’s Jill with her ‘Tamoxifen Tummy’:
Judging by this picture, I’m thinking a ‘Tamoxifen Tummy’ might actually be better than what I have going on now. So there’s that. If I wake up 5 years from now in a soft grey sweater and Harry Connick, Jr. by my side, I might even start selling Tamoxifen. (Just kidding, but I totally want to recreate this picture with Trevor some day.)
Anyway…here we are a little over 2 weeks away from my breast reconstruction surgery which is the FINAL PIECE of my breast cancer puzzle (Lord willing). For those who don’t know, reconstruction involves removing the expanders (or place holders) I have in now and trading them out for actual implants. Because the expanders are about as comfortable as carrying a backpack full of heavy rocks up at mountain, I’m a little giddy about bidding them adieu.
I am WAY past caring how anything looks or the size of my new chest (sorry, men). I just want to feel somewhat normal again and have the girls move right along with me.
Along this journey, I’ve had a few people ask the same two questions to me repeatedly. So here are my answers: Yes, I am still officially off of diet coke.
I haven’t had one since April and have only seriously craved one about twice in the past seven months. I consider that remarkable given my once very serious addiction. And secondly, my hair is still not wanting to budge very much. This is frustrating at times, but I’m trying to be patient. I never thought I would ever WANT to fix my hair instead of putting on a hat. But what I wouldn’t give to blow dry and style my very thin and stringy mane right now!!! And no disrespect to Justin Turner, the LA Dodger’s 3rd baseman, but take away the color and the beard and we might have the same hair situation going on underneath our caps.
The saving grace is that NONE of my hair is growing back yet, so I still don’t have to shave my legs or underarms. Because of that, I’ve actually become the fastest one at getting ready in my household full of boys. #ohtheirony #thebrightside
In all seriousness, I am so thankful to be at the end of this long road. As I think about closing this chapter, however, I am filled with so many conflicting emotions. I want to be ecstatic that this is almost over, however my past experience with cancer tells me that we can’t know that for sure. My friend, Jen, found out on December 6, 2014 that her cancer had metastasized. That was the same day we realized her story may not end favorably. I was with her that day in the ER. I heard the doctor utter the words, ‘it is back’. I cried with Jen, Scott, Gigi and Trevor right there in the ER. I spent the next year and a half by her side until the Lord called her home. Jen’s journey lasted longer than we’d anticipated, but ended more quickly than we’d hoped. We all miss her more than words can say. But what I realized the other day made me stop in my tracks. I realized that my cancer journey will most likely end on the EXACT DATE that we found out Jen’s cancer journey would continue. December 6th. And somehow I feel like that’s not a mistake. The coincidence is too great. I have a feeling Jen is looking down, smiling at me, and THRILLED that I will redeem that date. And instead of mourning this Dec. 6th, I pray we will all be dancing!
Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count,
PS: Thanks to Kim & Bob for the SWEETEST way to kick off the holidays! I can’t wait to see you all!