More love jars ready!

Although time consuming to make, I just LOVE seeing another bunch of Love Jars ready to go! These gave me something to focus on this week while I anxiously awaited the phone call to begin radiation. The plan is to start Monday or Tuesday of next week but I’ll know for sure tomorrow as they are finalizing my plan today.

Special thanks to my incredible friends for their help in making these Love Jars through time, support and supplies. Love you all!!  💗💚💗💚💗 Team Red Phoenix!

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Wednesday blessings

I have been fighting a cold / sinus infection for a while now and it started to get the best of me the last few days.  Thanks to some medicine and rest, I am finally starting to feel a little better.  I hate not feeling well!  Today, I am grateful for:

  1. The ability to rest and take it easy while recovering from this illness.  As antsy as I am to start radiation, I am relieved that I have not had to fight through a sinus infection during my first days of it.
  2. The incredible husband that I have.  He is such an incredible supporter, in more ways than I could ever list.
  3. My upcoming birthday.  I feel incredibly blessed that I am able to celebrate it and that I am cancer free for it.  This means so much to me.

Tell me, friends, what are you grateful for today?  I am sure there are a lot of things so let me hear it!

Easter blessings

Growing up, Easter was typically spent at my grandparents’ house. They would spend the days prior to the holiday preparing for dozens of grandkids to come participate in an egg hunt. Looking back, I realize that they must have bought hundreds of eggs for us kids, so that we could all find plenty. They owned a good amount of land and would hide the eggs all over it. All of us grandkids would gather after church and search for the eggs after we ate a big supper at noon. Our baskets would all be full of the bright colored eggs by mid-afternoon, when we would open them up and see what goodies we found. My grandparents were so good at hiding the eggs that we sometimes found one or two eggs in the weeks after the big event.

When I was a bit older, I was lucky enough to help them prepare for the hunt. I recall a large bag filled with tons of coins that would be used to fill the eggs. The amount in each egg varied and some of them were filled with sweet treats too. A few lucky kids would even find a one dollar bill in their egg. I have many wonderful memories of these events throughout my childhood.

In recent years, Joe & I have done different things to celebrate the holiday. Sometimes we would host dinner, sometimes we would go to his parents’ house and sometimes we would do something different. This year, we decided to start a new tradition for our little family of three. I bet you can guess what it involved…

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After Jacob woke up and found his basket filled with books, shirts and coin filled eggs, he ventured outside in search of eggs filled with grapes. This little man loves his grapes! Next, each coin was carefully placed in his piggy bank and each grape was plopped in his mouth or fed to one of us (a new favorite pastime of his). Then we packed a cooler and headed to (you guessed it!) the beach.

Our typical go-to spot was taken so we tried our hidden spot number two, which was also taken. Uh-oh. Spot number 3? Yup, taken. We thought for sure we were ahead of the crowds! Although not entirely prepared for our next go-to place, we found it was pretty deserted and set up there. It worked out perfectly; the rain that had been threatening all morning focused its energy around us and only landed a few cool drops on our heads.

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We spent the day fishing, collecting shells and playing in the sand. The tide was going out and Jacob had a blast running in and out of the shallow waves as they formed a little pool for him to play in. There were lots of birds for him to chase and the wind was strong enough to play ball with him. His giggles filled the air all day long. It was a warm day with a cool, humid breeze that only Florida can offer. It was relaxing and fun – a perfect combination for us. We ended the day snuggled up together, thankful for the blessings that Easter brought to us.

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Livin’ on a prayer…halfway there!

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The other day I was chatting with my friend and she asked me how many Herceptin treatments I had left. I responded that I didn’t know. She was surprised, expecting that I had a countdown going like I did with my 6 aggressive treatments. I explained that I hadn’t counted them because I felt like there were a ton and didn’t want to feel overwhelmed. She was understanding but offered that I might feel better with the countdown, like I did before.

So I pulled out a calendar and counted out every three weeks until September.  In my head, there were at least 20 and I probably didn’t have enough wall space for all of that. To my surprise, I didn’t even have 10 left!  What?!  Ok, so I’ll be printing out new Red Phoenix symbols to start this countdown after all…  (how does she know me so well?!)

Today while Jacob and I were playing outside, I turned Pandora onto the Bon Jovi station. (My go-to station…well, aside from my 90s love songs station ;)) “Livin’ on a prayer” by Bon Jovi started playing and Jacob & I danced around the yard.  While yelling out the lyrics together, I found myself getting excited each time the chorus came on. “Whoaaaa, we’re halfway there!” As I picked up Jacob and spun him around, (Joe’s been practicing for the weddings we have this year!) I realized something.

We’re halfway there!  It’s been 8 months since diagnosis and I have 8 months until reconstruction. I’m halfway through it all! I mean, I know I’ll have recovery from reconstruction and eventually my port will need to be removed but the “big” phases of this journey are halfway done!  How exciting is that?!

I guess I should dance around outside more often.  :);)

Treatment day blessings

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On this treatment day, I am grateful for:

1. An afternoon appointment that allowed me a morning of play with little man before the post treatment fatigue.
2.  A break in the crazy rain storms to get some fresh air outside.
3.  Slight overcast skies and all this hair growth so neither of us need a hat today!

I am truly too blessed to complain. How about you?

What a weekend!

I learned from my wig purchases that in order to have certain cancer related purchases covered by insurance, I would need to purchase them through an in-network provider. There are only a handful of providers that are in-network for post-mastectomy supplies, with the closest one being 2 hours away. Saturday morning, we rose early and headed to the other side of Florida to go to one of these stores.

It was an interesting experience and only took about an hour. I was fitted for new bras and a silicone insert to even myself out. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall outcome, though the bras themselves aren’t anything exciting. It’s a little disappointing that the bras available for post-mastectomy surgery aren’t a closer match to what I would find in a department store, though they are quite comfortable. It may be a little challenging when dressing because of the bra styles but I’ll figure it out.

Though the visit ended up costing me some money out of pocket (apparently insurance only covers a certain amount of the bra cost and the consumer pays the difference), I am glad that I went and was able to get fitted properly. I also purchase a post-mastectomy bathing suit that can hold the implant. Now that it’s warming up in Florida, I hope to get good use from this purchase!

Yesterday we spent time celebrating my sweet friend from childhood at her bridal shower! It is always so nice to catch up and spend time with friends.

And today was my last left side expansion – YAY! Though we originally planned on an additional 60 cc, my plastic surgeon wanted to do 80 cc to ensure the skin is stretched enough that we can hopefully perform the less invasive surgery at the end of this year. This gives me a total of 670 cc in my left.

I’m more uncomfortable than the last expansion but it isn’t as painful as the last time that I did 90 cc. I can feel the muscles spasms and the increased pressure in my chest but thankfully that will get better each day until it is barely noticeable again. I’m glad we did the extra in the hopes that I don’t need the more extensive reconstruction surgery. I don’t have to see the plastic surgeon again for about 7 weeks – wahoo! It’ll be a nice break from the every-few-days appointments. Of course, they’ll be replaced with the every-single-day appointments of radiation soon but hopefully that’ll go quickly.

And last but certainly not least – I can lift again!!! I picked Jacob up the moment that he walked through the door. We spent the evening playing outside and reading books while I picked him up & snuggled him constantly in between. I’m extra sore from it but it was totally worth every single moment that I was able to hold him.

Happy Monday, everyone. I hope your weekend – and your day – was filled with happiness.

What if…

I read a post the other day that talked about helping others. It suggested an interesting opportunity to do so by giving up one day of your life, to add on to someone else’s.  I was thoroughly intrigued by this. The thought of having extra days with my family would be incredible and priceless, regardless of when my time comes.

I had originally read it on a blog by a fellow breast cancer warrior. The idea lingered in my mind for days, for many reasons.  I thought about the giving of days being a common thing, especially in the midst of a diagnosis such as cancer. It’s a captivating idea.

The more I wrapped it around my head though, the more I realized that the idea wasn’t for me. I have learned to treasure every day that I am gifted now. I want everyone else to love their days just as much.  The idea of taking a day away from someone else, a day that they could spend with their loved ones, even if it was gifted to me, just doesn’t seem right.  The day is yours and it is yours for a reason. Make it count.

But what if you could prolong your life? What if there was a way, a proven way, to ensure that you lived a long, healthy life?  It would take dedication, unwavering commitment, no “down” days and yet, it would be easy. It would be a change to your routine, your normal, your day-to-day. But it would work, as long as you stay committed. 

All you have to do is begin.  Would you?

Friday blessings

Last night, I went to bed dreading today’s treatment. Even though it’s the easier part of what I’ve been through, it’s the hassle of going out there, getting hooked up, heading home and being exhausted with stomach issues for the next few days. I said it to Joe a few times and he replied by asking if I was ok. And I am, ok. I’m just tired of the back and forth and the never-ending doctor’s appointments. I know it’ll ease over time, hopefully mid-year, and I’ll probably wish they were seeing me more regularly. But right now, the appointments fill my weeks and it’s relatively exhausting.

Little man went to bed in his room last night and early this morning, his cries brought him into our bed to snuggle until the alarm went off. I drifted off to sleep with little man hugging my husband since we try not to let him snuggle me at night because of the numbness and pain in my chest.

This morning, my brain registered little touches on my face as I awoke from sleep. Somewhere between dream and wakefulness, I heard a like “muah” over and over again that corresponded with these soft touches. I opened my eyes to a huge smile on my sweet boy’s face as he was coming in for another kiss. I was blessed with waking up to his adorable smooches on this sunny Friday morning. I’m not sure there are many things in this world that are sweeter than that.

My three blessings today:

  1. Waking up to little man’s smooches!
  2. My incredible husband, who continues to stay strong for me, making me coffee and bringing our son to daycare every morning.
  3. Treatment & expansion day. Although I am not looking forward to treatment today, and I’m seriously dreading expansion, I am grateful for the medical treatment that I am able to receive so that I can live a long and healthy life.

What are you blessed with today?

What drives you?

When I was pregnant with my son, I was often asked what I thought he would be when he grew up. This is a valid question and something that I have asked friends before.  I never knew how to answer this question because as much as I dreamed about my little man, I had no idea what path his life would take. I simply hoped that Joe & would instill enough values and self confidence that he could follow his dreams.

One of the ways that children learn though, is by example. So the example I am setting for my tot is to follow my dreams. Right now, that dream is to not be defined by breast cancer. Yes, it has become a part of my life that will never fully leave me or my family. Yes, it is a battle I will fight for the rest of my life, taking steps to ensure it doesn’t come back. But it doesn’t define who I am or what I believe. And that is what drives me.  It will take baby steps, but every step is on the path forward.

What drives you to follow your dreams?

A month of recovery

It’s hard to believe that just a month ago, I had surgery that officially declared me cancer free. It has been a crazy month, filled with just about every emotion possible. The last few days have been hard but today I feel good and for that I am grateful.

Aside from the physical healing that I’m working on (and struggling with because of the limitations), this has been a month of emotional healing as well.  There is only so much that can be done to prepare mentally for a surgery like this. This leaves a lot of the emotional journey to be dealt with post-surgery, which can be intimidating.  You know, fear of the unknown and all that jazz.

While I know that I still have a way to go both physically and emotionally, I can honestly say that I feel good with where I am at right now. It’s not always easy and there are a lot of ups and downs but every day I am reminded of how blessed I am.  Every day is a blessing in itself.  And though none of us know what the future holds, I find peace in knowing that I am enjoying the life that I have.

A month of recovery down and a lifetime of  experiences still waiting for me. I’d say that’s a good day.

Today’s blessings:
1. Less pain and discomfort, allowing me to move around better.
2. Time spent outside with the family, getting me out of the house for a little while.
3. Hair growth! I have about half an inch already and I’m only 2 months post chemo – yay!