Hello, Monday!

It’s a new week and I’m feeling the excitement of what’s to come. It’s going to be a crazy one filled with appointments, treatment, life and work but that’s ok! I’m excited to be here to tackle this gorgeous day and embrace what life sends my way.

Today’s blessings are:

1.  A full night of sleep. I was asleep by 930 and, despite a few kicks to the face in between, I had a great night of sleep!
2.  The crock pot. It’s working hard on dinner tonight so that we don’t have to stress when we arrive home!
3.  Grandparents. They are picking Jacob up after naptime today for some snuggles. They had a mini vacation and are missing Jacob…I love how much they love him, and vice versa!

What are your blessings today, friends?!

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Right side expansion day 1!

Today 120 cc were added to my right side expander for a total of 270 cc on that side (left had over 600 cc total).  It’s tight but not nearly as uncomfortable as I remember the left side being. That may change over the coming weeks but I’ll take the little discomfort as a good sign for now!

The expansion doesn’t have to be as rushed this time so instead of twice a week, I’ll be going once a week – yay! In a few weeks time, I’ll be expanded and on a break for a bit.  Wahoo!

It was nice to be greeted with the kindness of the plastic surgeon and his staff, as they are always so sweet. We joked about the radiation damage and the time that passed.  We discussed the reconstruction process and he is hopeful that depending on how my skin heals, I should be able to have a relatively “simple” swap out and have it in just 5 months time versus 6 months!

Time will tell but it’s a good day, my friends!

Mind over matter?

When I was a teenager, I volunteered with my church. I was a religious teacher to young kids and helped during mass.  Life was pretty busy, with school and my part time job too.  I was tired.  Or so I thought.

When chatting with my religious leader one day, I mentioned how tired I was at the time.  She looked at me and smiled. Her next statement to me was spoken slowly, deliberately and with love. She told me that she had once heard that we create more exhaustion for ourselves by thinking about how tired we are. We often wake up thinking about how little sleep we got or how many times we woke up or the daunting day ahead. It’s phrases like this that cause us to focus immediately on how tired we are versus waking up and simply beginning our day. Or waking up and telling ourselves that we are not, in fact, tired but alive and full of life.  Mind over matter, perhaps?

I thought about that a lot over the following weeks and implemented the thought each morning. While I noticed a difference, life happens and the morning thought became less frequent for me.  The message itself has always remained with me though and I find myself remembering that moment, sitting across the dark wooden desk from her, in her office on the second floor, the creaky chair underneath me and the smell that is distinctly church filling my nose.  The sweet smile on her face, the one that was genuine and kind and always reached her eyes.

I never thought I’d been so tired the first weeks of having a newborn. I never thought I’d been so tired the days after chemo. I never thought I’d been so tired the last few weeks of work, life and radiation.

Yesterday, and again today, are different.  I woke up feeling good. Was I tired? Yes. Did I enjoy an afternoon coffee? Sure did. But I didn’t feel the utter exhaustion of the last few weeks. I was told the fatigue would last a few weeks and I’m sure to some degree that it will. And I’m sure herceptin will wear me out like it normally does. But today I feel good. I feel slightly less tired. I feel slightly less fatigued, both in my body and my soul. I feel a little more free.

Perhaps it really is simply mind over matter.

And I’m done.

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Six weeks is a long time. A lot can happen in that time. They say it takes 3 weeks for a habit to form so imagine the changes that can happen in 6 weeks time.

The last six weeks for me have been filled with almost daily trips to radiation. At arrival, I say hello to the receptionist and head back to the women’s changing room. I grab a gown from the cabinet, remove my top and tie it around my neck and waist. It’s usually chilly so I sit as close to the oscillating heater as I can. Well, until a hot flash hits.  I wait for the technicians to come get me and chat with the ladies waiting beside me while catching up on our HGTV.  Sometimes the wait is quick and other times it can take a while.

Once called, I lay down on a hard table lined with a sheet, untie the top of my gown and remove my arms from it. My head fits into the pillow, turned to the right. My arms rest above my head in their spots on the pillow. The pillow is actually hard to hold me in place, not like a typical pillow.  A soft, triangular pillow is placed under my knees for comfort. If I’m cold, a warm blanket is placed on my legs and arms.

The technicians work their magic and ensure that I am placed perfectly for treatment. We chat and joke while they work.  The first 25 treatments were 5 sets each day plus films. The last 5 were each 1 25ish seconds of treatment. When ready, the technicians leave the room to watch me on cameras and work the machine.  The “Beam Ready” light clicks on then switches to the “Beam On” light and a buzzing sound can be heard while the radiation occurs.  Today, as usual, while the buzzing sound was heard in my ears, I silently counted the seconds that passed. When I hit 25, the buzzing stopped, the light switched off and the technicians returned.

Only this time, the light switched off for the last time and I wiped tears from my eyes.  There were big hugs from the technicians, a certificate of completion and I was done.  I quickly changed, walked out of the radiation center and returned to my car.  I’m done.  Radiation is over and I survived.

My skin should begin healing over the next week. Although it still looks rough in a few places, there is drastic improvement in the areas that haven’t been radiated since last Monday.  This part of the journey seemed so far away initially and now it’s over.

Here’s to new beginnings, the end of an era and to new growth.

Off we go!

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Anytime we travel, we always end up going to bed way too late the night before preparing and yet we wake up bright & early ready to get moving. The excitement immediately kicks in and caffeine is almost unnecessary because my mind starts working immediately to accomplish the last minute tasks and get out the door on time.

I was asked to come in early today for my final treatment because the machine will be down from 8am – 845am. I had the option to go after but I didn’t want to risk not having treatment if the machine needed more time. So today we are up extra early and starting our day before the sun has fully risen.  It is the end of this journey and the beginning of something great that is rising on the horizon.

Jacob wasn’t really feeling the excitement this morning but Joe & I are giddy with it. And thanks to my sweet friend, my necklace is on point for today! (That’s a saying, right?)  Oh, and the Phoenix Alex & Ani bracelet my husband spotted (the last in stock) and surprised me with!

Happy Wednesday, friends! What new journey are you starting?

My husband

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Last, but certainly not least, today’s third blessing is my husband.

My sweet husband and little man traveled with me this past weekend to upstate New York. Despite it being a mostly girl activity filled weekend, he came to help me, both physically and mentally. He traveled along without complaint through the sister giggles that often made no sense, the bridal shower prep panics and the last minute errands. He snuggled little man to bed each night, ran out to grab me an iced coffee and Jacob some milk when needed and woke up early to help me attack the days activities.

And yet, this is only a glimpse into what this man does for me and our family. On top of all of these activities and the ins & outs of life and work, this man cares for me. He ensures I take all of my medications, attends every single appointment (the radiation oncologist almost had to write a note to get him to stay home from daily radiation appointments!), bandages all of my radiation burns every day and checks on my water intake regularly.

He wears the hat of a nurse, a pharmacist, a cook, a caregiver, a best friend, a husband, a father and about a dozen other hats…and he does them all without complaint. Not once did he hesitate to jump into action and care for me in whatever form that it entailed throughout this journey. He has continued to be my safe haven, my voice of reason, my sounding board and my shoulder to cry on. He is my motivation to be better and do better. He is my reason for wanting the best of life.

He is the man who gives me strength and compassion and happiness and so much more.  He is the love of my life and the man of my dreams.

He completes me.