Lifelong friends

Friendship is an interesting thing. Throughout life, we meet people and connect with them on some level that leaves us wanting to know them better and see them more. Sometimes these connections turn into friendships that last a few months or maybe even a few years. Others may be instantaneous and last forever once the connection is made.  Sometimes, there are friendships that are lifelong.

My parents have been friends with a couple for, what seems like, ever. This couple had children at the same time as my parents and while my parents had 4 girls, their friends had 3 girls and a boy – all the same age as us.  My three sisters & I were each blessed with an instant best friend.

Throughout our childhood, we did everything together – softball, camping, cookouts, swimming lessons, girl scouts, sleepovers and everything in between. We had our fair share of fights but always made up.  My entire childhood is filled with incredible memories with them and adventures we went on together.

We have all taken different paths in our lives but no matter where life has taken us, we have remained in touch. This week, their entire family traveled to Florida for vacation. Joe, Jacob and I took the short drive to Orlando today to spend the afternoon with them. We sat by the pool on this gorgeous day, with the sun shining bright. We watched our own littles play together and splash in the pool. We shared stories about growing up and laughed hard at the life we have shared together. It was an amazing day and something I could have only hoped for when I was a child playing outside with them.

I am blessed to have an incredible group of lifelong friends by my side.  💚

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Sweet Saturday…

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Growing up, I loved Saturday because it was a day off from school that I was able to sleep in a little. I’d wake up and spend some time watching cartoons and eventually wander outside to play with the kids that lived on my street. It was always a fun, carefree day of the week.

Saturdays have changed over the years but they still share that same excitement from my younger years. Nowadays the morning is filled with snuggles, laughter and lots of playing. The days are open to adventure but in recent months, one thing remains the same.  No matter what the day brings, we wear green.

The Saturday green wearing began as a show of support, with family and friends all over the world joining in by wearing my favorite color. I love this and look forward to getting dressed in green every Saturday with my boys. The last two Saturdays I have been limited in my green attire because of the button up shirts I’ve been wearing while recovering. I’ve only been able to wear button ups due to my limited range of motion from surgery.

Today was an exciting Saturday to wear green.  Not only was I able to wear green as a way to remind myself that I am now a survivor, but I was also able to wear a shirt that wasn’t a button up. It took a little longer than usual to get dressed but it was a very rewarding moment for me!

I hope you all had a fabulous Saturday! What made your day special?

Drain free

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One of the best things about Thanksgiving is eating way more than your stomach would typically allow. We often do this despite knowing how uncomfortable we will be afterwards. Actually, some of us may do it with that intent in mind; thus feeling that discomfort like it’s a reward. I’m sure you know the feeling I’m referring to…your stomach so full that you think it might burst, pants unbuttoned or leggings stretched to the max.

This is the closest thing that I can think of to compare the tissue expansion to. I woke up from surgery filled with 150 cc of saline in each tissue expander (the equivalent of a small “A” cup) and today, my left side was expanded with an additional 140 cc. Surprisingly, although it is almost double in size to my right, it doesn’t appear significantly larger. I assume that’s because of the way the expander fills out.

The tissue expander has a metal piece on it, so the doctor uses a magnet to locate the piece of metal. That area is then cleaned and a needle is inserted into it to inject the saline.

The needle that is used to add the saline didn’t hurt since I am mostly numb still but I could feel the pressure from the additional saline in the expander almost immediately. I wanted to take as much as possible today though in the hopes of completing the overall expansion quickly (and hopefully feeling more comfortable sooner). I’ll go back once next week and twice the following week for additional saline. At that point, we’ll reassess where I’m at and whether or not additional expansion is necessary.

This is happening so quickly because I start radiation 4 weeks from today and need to be fully expanded in time for that. Since radiation will shrink the expander and the tissue surrounding it, I need to be over-expanded. It’s not painful, just uncomfortable from the additional pressure and a little awkward when moving my left arm. This is yet another step closer to being done – which makes this process exciting! The plastic surgeon also commented on how nicely my incisions are healing – yay!

OH!! And guess what else?!

I’m officially drain free!!! (Insert happy dance here.)

The last drain, connected to where my lymph nodes were on my left side, is officially gone. I’d like to say it’s a bittersweet departure but frankly, I am ecstatic! No more stripping the tubes, empting the drains, charting the output, sleeping sitting up, wearing an apron around – all done! Plus – I can now take a shower (well, this weekend I can). No more sponge baths for this lady!

And! See that picture of me up top? See that dark shadow around my head? Yup, that’s right – I have hair! And lots of it! I mean, I’m not going to go get it cut into a cute style or add any product just yet but it’s growing faster than I anticipated. The short buzzed style makes it appear as if I’m simply a trendsetter now. 😉 Happy Friday to that!!!

So tell me friends, why are you too blessed to complain today?

 

 

Today’s firsts

When my husband and I bought our house years ago, I was super excited for each holiday in it. Since it was our first home purchase, I wanted every holiday to be celebrated within our walls. We hosted each event and took pictures of every detail to create a scrapbook of our first year. When our son was born, this first year of excitement was amplified. Every holiday we decorated, did arts & crafts and celebrated that it was the first of many to come. Each milestone brought pictures and smiles (and books!) and traditions that we were determined to create for our little man. All of the firsts were filled with pure joy and lots of passion. Each day felt as though it brought new excitement.

Though it’s still early in the day, today has been a great day so far! After surgery, I wasn’t able to do much. Each day showed improvement but in general, the everyday tasks were not possible. Thankfully, I have an incredible husband and support system that has continued to help throughout this journey.

Today though…today was a day of firsts for me.

  • I woke up in my very own bed. I have spent the last 2 weeks sleeping in the recliner in our living room. My sweet husband has spent every night next to me on our couch, often with little man snuggled in next to him. But not last night! I am still sleeping at an angle and mostly upright but just being in our bed was wonderful. I was surrounded by a sea of pillows, my warm comforter and my husband by my side. I was even able to get up into it and out of it all on my own!
  • Morning snuggles. Little man woke up in the middle of the night and Joe brought him into bed with us. After waking up this morning, Jacob cuddled up next to me and snuggled into the nook under my right arm. I haven’t had those sweet morning snuggles in two weeks. My goodness, how I missed them.
  • I unloaded the dishwasher. Though this is a relatively mundane task and often something I dread when coming home from work or waking up in the morning, I did this with a smile today. It is the little things in life that bring the purest joy and today’s joy had to do with being able to handle my own dishes.
  • I made breakfast – not just for me but for Joe too! Despite growing up with Chef Dad, I am not an excellent cook. Sadly the knack doesn’t reside in me, save for a few recipes that I have mastered over time. Today though, I made breakfast that consisted of roasted potatoes, bacon and eggs. Simple? Yes. Easy? Usually. The first I’ve made food for myself since surgery and therefore super exciting? Yes!

These firsts may not be things that I ever expected to get excited about but today, they made me smile ear to ear. I am tired despite the early hour and will probably go nap soon but I will enjoy this moment of progress for just a little while.

Drains, drains, go away!

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For today’s update, I’m going to describe the drains a bit. This is your warning ahead of time, for anyone that may not be interested in hearing about that side of the recovery process (it’s slightly graphic).  :mrgreen:

After surgery, aside from the tissue expanders, I had 3 drains attached to me. One was on my right and 2 were on my left (one for the mastectomy and one for the lymph node removal).  These drains are attached to tubes that are inside of my body.  These tubes carry fluid and tissue out of my body and into the drains.  For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been carrying around these drains attached to my little tool belt. It may look like a fashion statement but it’s purposeful….you know, to carry my cell phone.  😉

Twice a day (3 times initially), Joe takes an alcoholic wipe and strips the tubes. He breaks up any tissue that is stuck in the tubes and moves along any fluid that is stuck in them.  Then he empties the drains into little measuring cups and writes down the amount of fluid in each cup and disposes of it.  Once the fluid is less than 30 cc for 24 hours, the drains can be removed. Every day I feel like a kid, anxious to see my output in the hopes of getting below that magic number.

It’s not that the drains are painful, they’re just awkward and a little itchy. I have to be careful everytime I move to be sure I don’t accidentally tug on one and pull it out or make it start to bleed.  There is 1 stitch holding each tube in place at my side and then a large piece of tape covering the opening. My skin is still recovering from chemo treatment so it is easily irritated by the tape.

So as you can imagine, I was very excited today to have not just 1 but 2 of the 3 drains removed! Yay!  The other one should be out by Friday.

It’s just another moment on this journey that I feel progress being made in my recovery and I can’t help but smile at that!  Plus, the surgical tape covering my incisions was removed today so I was able to see the full effect of the incisions from surgery. I am pleasantly surprised and have to agree with my breast care surgeon when she says the plastic surgeon does beautiful work!

Happy Monday friends!

Today’s thoughts

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When I first started this blog, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure how my posts would be received or if anyone would care to read what I had to say. I took the plunge anyway, knowing in my heart that it was something I needed to do. I have been pleasantly surprised by the continued positive response that I have received.

Today I noticed that my Facebook page has 250 followers. How cool is that?! This prompted me to look at the stats for my blog site and I was shocked to see them! Since starting this blog, I have had over 20,000 views and over 8,000 visitors – WHAT?! I never imagined that I would reach that many people or that so many of them would come back again to read what I have to say.

Though this journey was unexpected and has had its share of ups and downs, I am grateful for the experience and for what it has taught me along the way. I have grown in more ways than I can account for…as a person, as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, as a sister, as a woman, as a friend.

Life does not always go according to plan and as a self-proclaimed controller (eek!), I have learned that there are some things that need to be left to God and others that I need to embrace & fight with all that I have in me. Knowing that I am now cancer free is a reminder that I have done just that.

Though I do not know what the future holds, what I do know is that I am grateful for today. I gladly welcome each morning that I open my eyes and have the opportunity for a fresh start to a new day. I am grateful for my beautiful family and incredible friends, who have loved me unconditionally throughout this entire journey. And I am thankful for the new friendships that have formed along the way. From within my community and across the world, people have continued to support me and share their love and prayers for me and my family.

My heart is full. To all of the people that have followed my journey, whether from the very first day or just recently, I thank you.

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An accidental adventure

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In an effort to get out of the house today and away from the four walls of my living room, Joe & I spent a few hours at the beach. Little man was playing at daycare and it was a warm 60ish degrees here. I bundled up since I am constantly cold in between hot flashes and we drove to the jetties at our favorite local beach.

When we arrived, Joe started to setup our chairs and I went to find a bathroom. Typically there are porta-potties in this location but I think since the tide was just going out, they weren’t setup there yet. I started up a walkway that I have always seen but never explored. I asked a fisherman on the way up if there was a bathroom at the end and he advised that there was so I kept on.

Well, that was a rather long walk to the end! The walkway spread over the sand dunes and ended up next to the intracoastal waterway. You could see the local lighthouse in the distance the entire time.  There were multiple walkouts to see the water on the inland side, including lots of areas to picnic and bring pets. About a 10 minute walk later, which happens to be the most I’ve moved about since surgery, I found the end. It was a cute little park that even had free sand toys for the little ones to borrow.

On my way back, I decided to checkout the lookout tower that I had passed along the way. The view from up top was incredible. I could see the waves crashing on the beach and a dolphin jumping in the intracoastal, with the lighthouse in between.

I saw dozens of birds, collected a few beautiful shells and saw a few sea urchins on my walk.  I’ve been to the jetties dozens of times and never explored this area of the beach.  Though I was a little out of breath and tired by the time I returned to Joe, it was a fun accidental adventure!  I was able to relax on the beach while watching the waves afterwards. Such a wonderful way to spend the day with my husband.

I know I’ve said it before but the beach heals my body and soul. The salt water, the sound of the waves and the birds, the wind blowing lightly and the sun overhead…it’s exactly what I needed today.

Have you found yourself on an accidental adventure before?