The girls are great! :)

Hi all!  Just wanted to let you know that I had my surgery a week ago tomorrow. The tin cans are gone!  All went exactly as planned, with no complications!  The recovery has been pretty easy!  Phew!  Praise God for that!

I had 1 day of post-surgery pain, but with the help of pain medications, I got through it with no problem.  After only a few more days, I was able to move from the heavy duty meds to only tylenol, and then after only another day or so, I was able to stop pain meds all together.

So now I just have to be careful to behave myself…no lifting, straining.  I even have to be careful not to hug too hard.  Haha!

All in all, I am overjoyed!  This was a huge step for us.  This surgery was the last big event in my treatment. Yes, I will have infusion treatments until August and medications for several years, and possibly some touch-up surgeries, but for the most part, we are done!

This was my welcome home after surgery! Imagine my sweet girlfriends Lori, Jody, Shawna and Margo running around my front yard decorating! Tears filled my eyes as I pulled up in my car to behold this sight!

Of course, I have reflections that I will look forward to sharing with you soon.  But for now, I just wanted you to know that all is well, and I am beyond grateful!

Thank you for your endless prayers and support!


Blessings Through the Raindrops

It is a beautiful time of transition! As we now head into the Spring, it warms my soul to behold the vibrant green grass and abundant, beautiful wild flowers, all well-nourished and striving to touch the sun.  Moving from a long season of drought, to seemingly endless months of dreary rain, and now emerging and thriving in warm days under beautiful blue umbrellas of sky, I feel like the dark days are nearly over and I rejoice in the hopeful, brighter days ahead.

Thankfully, I am also transitioning to a new season; moving away from endless doctor appointments and arduous treatments for me (AND MY FAMILY), placing our entire focus and energy into fighting and enduring, and proceeding to a new refreshed place, where I have the time and space to reflect and plan and dream.

Yes, I do still have surgery and treatments ahead of me, but compared to the way things were, our future pathways feel very manageable and hopeful.  We are all experiencing a newfound sense of freedom and joy.

Today, as I was walking around the Newport Beach Back Bay with my dear friend Margo (like we have so many, many times before), she and I were catching up and sharing our epiphanies (like we have so many, many times before!)

Actually, in the moment, the depth of my sharing didn’t seem all that inspiring.  It was actually Margo’s interpretation that moved my surface observations to the realm of being more thought provoking.

Here’s what happened:

Me: (Having just returned from working out with my trainer at the gym) “You know what I think is kind of amazing?  I have battled my weight for my entire adult life, always yearning to be healthy, lean and muscular (like our friend Donna Jones). I have tried and tried and tried to lose weight, but have continuously yo-yo’d back to the same old fluffy body I started with. Now, thanks to cancer (?), I actually am in the realm, for the first time, of realizing that dream! Yes, right now I am too lean (huh? How is that possible?), but if I keep on keepin’ on at the gym and with my new way of eating, I can realistically foresee a whole new, healthier, stronger me in my future!”

“And you know what else? For a long time, I’ve been wondering how to transition away from my endless hours of coloring my hair and moving to my natural, gray state.  How could I get there?  Biting the bullet and letting things grow out naturally or shaving my head just wasn’t an option. Now, thanks to cancer (?), that is no longer an issue. I REALLY like my pixie-short, gray hair!”

Then Margo moved our conversation from seemingly surface things to deeper observations worth pondering.

Margo: “You know what I THINK is amazing?  It’s that you are consistently able to see rich blessings even in cancer.”

I  haven’t stopped to think about it in this way, although I do agree that I have experienced blessings after blessings throughout the last year, in the midst of my battle. It may seem kind of “Polly-Anna” that this is my claim. But I assure you, there was nothing fictional, about it.  If you have about an hour or more, I can give you lists and lists of all the blessings we have experienced.  They just came to me, over and over again. These blessings beautifully carried us through an otherwise really dark time. They were a huge part of my recovery.

As we walked and talked, Margo theorized that the reason I have seen so many blessings is because I was open to them, as opposed to being closed off. She shared that, in her own life journey, she has been less apt to experience blessings, because she “didn’t want to, and therefore, couldn’t” see them.

Margo has traveled a journey that NO ONE would ever sign-up for.

You see, nearly 30 years ago, Margo and her husband Joe shared the blessed event of bringing their baby boy Andrew into this world. This was certainly a joyous occasion!  But their joy was soon and drastically disrupted, when they learned that their precious baby boy had a brain tumor.  His prognosis and life expectancy was bleak, to say the least.  This began a lifetime of life-saving cancer treatments and multiple surgeries that became their highest priority.

In the midst of their journey with Andrew, God gave Margo and Joe two more  beautiful children, Matt and Ali.  As a family, they loved each other well and cleaved together, united and focused on caring for Andrew, who outlived all the doctors’ expectations.

For more than 25 years, Andrew brought inexplicable joy and love to his family and to all who knew him.  Then sadly, a few years ago, Andrew lost his battle and passed from this earth to heaven.

As you can imagine, his loss has been nearly unbearable for his family.  For my friend Margo, every day has been a battle to carry on without Andrew here with us. I am in awe of my dear friend, who daily digs deep to seek God and carry on.  As he looks down from heaven, I know Andrew is so very proud of his brave mom.

As we walked and talked about the nature of blessings in our lives, Margo slowly began to recall memories she was happy to share with me:  Like the time that their family was visited by an “angel” at the entrance to Disneyland, who seemingly came out of nowhere to present them all free passes to the theme park, so they could all celebrate Andrew’s 25th birthday without the financial burden.  That was undeniably a blessing; a sweet reminder of the kindness of people around us.  Even strangers can bless us by meeting our needs in surprising ways.

As she talked, we cried. It was such a sweet moment.

I don’t think Margo realizes that she is more open to see her blessings than she thinks. Every day that we walk beside the bay, she glances at the ground and finds a heart-shaped pebble.  I never see them, but she ALWAYS DOES.  Early on, since Andrew’s passing, she has found hearts all around her, in objects that others might not otherwise see: in the clouds, in the sand, and among others, in pebbles along the roadside. She always collects them and brings them home with her, as they are a kiss from Andrew; a sweet reminder of his constant, everlasting love for her. Her hearts are among her blessings.

Maybe that’s all it takes; having a willing eagle eye, on high-alert to see the blessings at every turn in a sometimes rocky road.

If you are going through a difficult time in your life, I pray that your radar is on and your senses are heightened to see and experience the life-giving blessings along your way. They are there, waiting for you to find them.

New Surgery Date!

Hi all! I learned today that my new surgery date is two weeks from today, April 3rd.  I will check in at 11:00, have the surgery at 12:45 and probably be home by later afternoon! Hallelujah!

Praying I stay healthy until then! No flu, no cold, no fever!

After the surgery, I will have about a week at home for my initial recovery, and then for the next month take it easy-ish to allow for mending time.

That’s it for now!  Just wanted you to know 🙂

Surgery postponed.

Just a quickie update:  Yes, I was supposed to have my implant surgery today, but it has been postponed for now.

Last week, I came down with the flu and after 4 solid days of fever, I found myself in a weakened state.  Also, the burn wound which has been healed for quite a long time, opened up again last week.  So, my plastic surgeon suggested we wait.  I am completely fine with waiting.  I don’t want to rush the last step.  I can be patient until I am strong enough.

Also last week, I had my port removed.  Even though I still have 7 more Herceptin treatments, I’ve decided that I’d rather have the infusions intravenously rather than via the port, as I have been experiencing a lot of pain and stiffness which I believe has been due to the port.  So, my doctor reluctantly removed it last Thursday.  After the procedure, she confirmed that it was, in fact, pressing against my clavicle. Even though the incision site is sore as it heals, I can already tell that removing the port will ease the neck, shoulder, clavicle and back tightness and pain I have been struggling through.

I am feeling a LOT better today and I am hopeful that I will soon be able to schedule my next surgery (removing the expanders and replacing them with the implants.)

I’ll be sure to keep you posted! Thank you for your prayers! Sending my love to you all!

Breaking my “silence.”

It has been a long time since I have sat down with my laptop and visited this blog, my faithful friend.  I don’t really know why, but I just haven’t been able to quiet myself and write.  Maybe I was just plain tired, or maybe, after 8 long months of the battle and so much time to think about my journey, I subconsciously want to look forward and move on, rather than remain in the cancer fighting mode.

Whatever is the reason, I am here today, and I am grateful. It would appear I’m nearing the end of the difficult days and we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

To bring you up to speed, after the dramatic return to the hospital in December, only a few weeks after my mastectomy, our focus was to overcome the challenging complications and hopefully get back on track with my healing/reconstruction. When I last wrote, my plastic surgeon was confident that by injecting the saline into the expanders that the pain would be lessened. As I last said, that was the case, thankfully! Since that time I have had 3 more expansion appointments and, as of last Friday, I have completed that step. As for the pain, I wish I could say it is all gone, however, unfortunately I am still struggling some. I don’t know whether my port is the culprit, or if these hard coconuts are the trouble, but my left side (arm, back, neck) is very sore and weak. I’m holding on to hope that when I have my next surgery in two weeks, when they swap out the expanders for the final implants, removing these weapons in exchange for my new girls will usher in a new season of pain-free normalcy.

After my surgery on March 13th, my only remaining treatment will include any final fine tuning with my plastic surgeon, Herceptin infusions every three weeks through June, and growing accustomed to and/or tweaking my 5-year medication to block Estrogen production (side effects bring bone pain akin to “growing pains” which I am all to familiar with having reached my full 5’9” height by age 12).

So, I’m sure you will agree that that sliver of light in the dark tunnel is growing bigger and brighter every day. I am beyond grateful! My hair is starting to grow back and I really love all my little hairs.

Happy Valentines Day – 2017

I am experiencing many “firsts” that I have missed so much over the last 8 months: Among many, I am strong enough to drive to LA by myself to visit my sister, and I have been able to go on my very first girls getaway (which is where I am right now with my best high school friend Teri!) My appetite is returning, as are my taste buds. I have begun working out 3X per week with a wonderful trainer, Andrew Taylor, who is very knowledgeable about how to carefully rehabilitate cancer patients, having trained his own mother back to health.

I have been able to begin resuming many of my daily activities. As long as I schedule in a little cat nap in the afternoons, my energy is pretty good! Bible study, meeting with my Prayer Posse, babysitting my great nieces, meeting friends for lunch, going to church on Sunday mornings, taking long walks by the back bay, cooking dinner for my sweetheart, taking in an evening movie, are all pure treasures to me. The list of seemingly simple pleasures is as long and it is rich. Honestly, until now, I didn’t appreciate these simple things to the degree that I do now.

Meet my “bestie” Teri! We go back 40+ years ❤
Fake it ’til you feel it!  7:30 am at the gym, 3 X per week!

Not long ago, when I was cleaning out some of my papers, I came upon a journal entry that I wrote last year, in January, 2016. It pained me to read what I wrote. In great anguish, I pondered what is “my purpose” now that my precious son and daughter were fully grown and launched. I struggled with the empty nest syndrome. I so cherished our younger years living together as a family and all the glorious twists and turns of raising children. When it was over, I quietly mourned inside. My grief was complicated by my own guilt: why in the world was I bemoaning the very thing Greg and I invested our every waking moment to accomplish? Our children did exactly what we raised them to do; move on to lead their own productive lives. How selfish was I to wish them to stay, when they had earned the right and the ability to fly?

For several years, I was pretty depressed and struggled with what would be my next passion, my reason for being? Clearly, in January 2016, I was stuck, not making much progress in celebrating this next season. In a way, I was drowning. I didn’t want to go down with the ship, but I certainly wasn’t rising above the waves.

Then, 6 months later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the rest, as they say, is history. Within a matter of mere hours, I was shoved into a rocket ship and thrust into a miraculous journey that launched me from “I can’t find my purpose” to “Please, Lord, give me more time. Lord, please heal me and use me.”

I am forever changed. It feels cliche, almost unbelievable, to say that. Yet, I am a new person, thank the Lord. I do not look at my cancer journey as one that has a single purpose, like the mission I was presumably and pathetically searching for last January. Rather, I feel like I’m standing at the threshold of discovering my many purposes, and I’m excited for what lies ahead.

As I reread this post, I fear this all reads a bit “neat and tidy”…Girl gets cancer, girl gets healed from cancer, girl has a new lease on life. Let me assure you, things are far from tidy. Amidst my own day to day struggles, there have been many other difficult, heart-wrenching challenges presented to our family: Two other precious family members were suddenly diagnosed with diseases for which there are no known cures. Two of my friends who were fighting cancer, suddenly and tragically lost their battles and passed away. These and other hardships we have experienced may have left me with the feeling of: “Why Lord?” “I can’t bear anymore Lord!” But I discovered something about myself in the process of living through last year.

God gifted me with the gift of high competence. I have the ability to be very resourceful and logically/strategically solve problems. In the past, even though I have had a genuine faith for many years, I have sort of said “Thanks God, I’m super appreciative, but you can go ahead and step aside. I’m very competent and I’ll go ahead and solve this one on my own.” And, for many years, even though I didn’t recognize it, I functioned under the false illusion that I was managing things pretty well on my own. That being said, while I was high functioning, I didn’t have inner peace. Worse than that, I had low grade anxiety almost all the time.

In the last year, however, it feels as though God has allowed problems and challenges in my life, that have been so immense, so beyond my capacity to maneuver and fix, I have been left with no other choice but to surrender all to Him. I have been stripped bare.

While I might sound frustrated or at odds with this reality, actually, this truth has given me great peace. It has given me the sense of the proper, healthy order of things. It has released me from the burden/responsibility of fixing things for my loved ones. The result? I have healthier boundaries and I am intentional, present and concerned and free to be compassionate; I am available, but not vulnerable to the stress of fixing the unfixable. I will do what I can, but not expect more from myself than is helpful to anyone. The best thing I CAN do, is to be on my knees in prayer, bringing my burdens to the one who is always strong, when we are weak.

Thank you, Lord, for fighting our battles for us…

Isaiah 40:31
“But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

2 Chronicles 20:15-17
“This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory… Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

Deuteronomy 1:30 “The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you…

Well, this has been quite the long post. Thank you for making it to the end. I wonder, what battles are you going through in your own life?

“May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you. And be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up his countenance, the Lord make His face to shine upon you!” ~ Numbers 6:24-26

New Year’s News

Hi all! Happy 2017!  I’ve been dark for the last few weeks, and its high time I fill you in. (If you’re not one that enjoys a lot of detail, please feel free to stop reading here! I have a lot to report.)

The last time I wrote, I was about 2 weeks post-surgery.  Even though I was in quite a bit of pain, I thought that that pain was just par for the course. A few days after I posted, my recovery took a weird turn…one day I woke up and had significant swelling around my feet, ankles and  hips, not to mention a lot of pain on my right side. So we spoke with my doctor, and she requested that we go to ER to determine the cause of the swelling.

Did I have an issue with my heart?  Did I have a blod clot?  The ER doctors did all kinds of tests and ruled out all the serious concerns and deduced that I had something called 3rd spacing which occurs when too much fluid moves from the intravascular space (blood vessels) into the interstitial or “third” space-the nonfunctional area between cells which causes  potentially serious problems such as edema, reduced cardiac output, and hypotension.

With this information, I returned home and was told to continue to rest.  Then the next day, after having my drains removed, I spiked a fever of 102.5 and felt like there was crackling in my chest.  Concerned about the fever and the risk of contracting pneumonia, back to the hospital we went. This time, though, I was not released.  A team of wonderful doctors and nurses attended to me at Saddleback Hospital (great experience there in every way), and proceeded to do more tests, while giving me heavier pain meds and IV antibiotics.  It was discovered that I had somehow been infected with some kind of bacteria. I stayed in the hospital for IV treatment and observation and was discharged on December 23rd.

Predictably, my family was right by my side.  My Greg, his mom and dad, and my mom and sisters were there around the clock. My Sarah flew in from San Francisco (thank you Jori Ann)  to be with me and Michael and Val dropped everything too. All of the kids had travel plans set and plane tickets purchased to travel to their Christmas vacation destinations (Michael and Val to Honduras, and Sarah to Park City) and were willing to forego their trips if needed.  Thankfully, being discharged on the 23rd allowed them to keep their plans for Christmas.

With my supply of heavy duty antibiotics and pain meds, I returned home on Christmas eve eve. I was so very grateful to be home. My big event of the day was to shower, dress and don one of my fabulous wigs and take a walk around the block with Greg.

img_2141I know it doesn’t sound like much, but being able to get through a shower and take the walk was no small feat and being able to be out of the hospital and home with my love was the best gift I could have asked for!

So in the weeks to come, I finished my antibiotic and was so grateful that the fever did not return. Also, in only about a week, I lost all of the 25+ pounds I gained as a result of the edema.  The pain, however, persisted and with each passing day, I searched for signs that I was getting better.

Then, last week, it was time for a few doctor appointments.  On Thursday, I saw my oncologist and received my next Herceptin infusion (thankfully, no side effects and no additional pain.)  On Friday, I saw my plastic surgeon for a check-up. In my mind, I thought there would be no way he would do my first saline expansion.  When he learned about my existing pain and also the fact that I was still nursing a burn I inflicted upon myself when I used a too-hot heating pad, I was quite sure he would hold off until I was feeling better. NOPE!  He had a different plan than I did.

He explained that it was important to begin the saline expansion and that by doing so, he could alleviate my pain. I was like a deer in headlights, dreading anything that could possibly cause more pain. But, when he explained why I was having the pain, it made sense why he was persisting in doing the expansion.  He told us that the expanders are anchored with a stitch on the bottom and on the sides and the air-filled expander is resting at the bottom, putting pressure on the bottom stitch, which is aggravating a nerve.  By filling the expander with some saline, he said, the pressure would be moved off  its current painful position.

I have great news! He was right!  Having the saline injection, new meds and directions on how to give myself physical therapy (aka boob massaging) I have FINALLY been relieved from most of the pain.  I feel like a new person.  I’m sleeping at night and have more relief during my days.

It has occurred me that if I had been like most women and had the surgery first, followed by the chemotherapy, it would have been very daunting. To get through this painful chapter and head into the unknown world of chemo, I would have been scared to say the least. Chemo was a walk in the park compared to the surgery. I am grateful that that is already behind me.

Obviously, I have had more than my fair share of time to think.  Let me give you a window into my inner world:

  • First off, I am very grateful that I believe I am turning the corner. Having relief from the pain has made me a new person.
  • I have a greater compassion for people who have chronic pain.  Living with constant pain is debilitating, to say the least.
  • Several people have called me a hero.  I am not a hero.  I just have a faithful God who has walked this journey with me and never forsook me for a second.  The real heroes are all of you who have lovingly, faithfully prayed for me, carried me and encouraged me when I just didn’t have it in me to push through.  The heroes are the doctors and the nurses who expertly treated me and helped me navigate a very difficult path. And last, but not least, the heroes are my loving husband, my kids, my moms and dad, my sisters and the rest of our family.  They’ve traveled this journey every step of the way with me and in many ways, I think this has been more difficult on them than it has been on me. 
  • I know that there are people out there who have understandable questions about why a loving God would allow this in my life.   In response, I love what Job said “We take the good days from God- why not also the bad days?”  Job 2:10  Job, who was a faithful man of God, went through trial after trial and He never lost his trust in God.  I hope my life can be characterized in that way. I don’t ask “why me?”  Rather, my focus is to trust that God has His purposes in all of this.  He didn’t cause this, but He allowed it and my greatest desire is to discover what are God’s purposes and to faithfully accomplish them, giving Him the glory. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   Also, I know that “I can do all things through Him that gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.  Perhaps you are reading this and are skeptical about the existence of God.  That reality is very sad to me. It is sad because I would hate to think that our lives here on earth are that meaningless, that everything is haphazard and chaotic. To me, that is the ultimate pain and suffering, to think that there is no sovereign plan for my life. I know I may sound “preachy” , but when you have cancer, you take more liberty in speaking the truth, because the stakes are higher, and time is more precious. It is my faith that has carried me through so far, and will continue to be my main source of strength going forward.  Romans 5:3-4 reminds us that “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character’ and character, hope.”  I have received the gift of hope.  I want that for you too.

Has this post been long enough for you?  Sorry, but not sorry.  So much to share…now we’re all caught up. Better days are ahead!  After all, I am cancer free and on the mend!! I think it’s amazing that alongside of all the difficult trials our family has had, there have been many moments of joy, laughter and gratefulness…those are also gifts that can only come from God, considering the struggle that could have easily consumed all of our time and energy.

My wish for you in 2017 is that as you have your own times of struggle in the future, you will also experience inexplicable moments of joy that are your own smiles from our loving God.

Recovering from surgery

Hi all!  I will keep this short, but thought it was about time to let you know that I am doing fine.  Today is 11 days since the surgery, which all went very well.  Both the mastectomy and the reconstruction surgeries were pretty straightforward.  They took less time than my surgeons anticipated and without any complications.

There is quite a bit of pain that I’m fighting through, but with my excellent husband/nurse at my side at all times, I know we’ll get through this too!   I can’t tell you how glad I am that this surgery was the end of treatment, rather than the first part, preceding chemo.  It would be really hard to rally for chemo after the surgery, so I am very grateful.

Merry Christmas to you all!  I received the greatest gift I could have ever imagined…complete health is right around the corner!!

Sending you grateful hugs, lots of love and wishing you huge blessings for you and yours!!

I am cancer free!

I got the call today from my surgeon!  I have the best possible news to report!   The pathology report is back  and my lymph nodes are clear, therefore the cancer did not spread, and there is no evidence of cancer in either breast.  I can officially say “I AM CANCER FREE!”

I’ve been home from the hospital since Saturday, the day after the surgery.  I’m fighting through the pain, thanks to my great TLC from my hubby and family, great medication and a LOT of prayer, and I’m going to make it through just fine.

For now, I am only resting, taking short walks and getting strong enough for my post-op appointments on Friday.  There will be many more discussions about my next steps in getting healed, but for now, wanted to pause and celebrate that the CANCER IS GONE!!  I feel like a walking miracle!

I’ll report more news when I have it.  For now, just know how thankful I am we have all made it through together!! So grateful for Team Boo-Bee!! 👻🐝

Thank you God!! Thank you!!

Love love love you all!!


My sisters, Mom and me right before surgery!

Leaving Saddleback Hospital the day after the surgery.

Surgery day is almost here.

The day is almost here.  We’ve known about it for months and now it is here…Surgery is tomorrow. Keepin’ it real, I am fighting hard to keep a cool head and believe that I will be one of the “lucky” ones who gets through it all, without complications and difficulty.  A couple of days ago, I was pretty nervous.  But I have received the benefit of a LOT of prayer, reassuring visits with several loved ones, fun outings to distract me and a calming appointment with the in-house therapist who teams with my doctors.  This morning, I am happy to report that I am feeling much better.

Ok, I confess that I woke up at 4:00 am this morning, which is not my norm.  So there are definitely rumblings of what lies ahead.  I’ve never been very good at coping with the unknown. If I look back through my lifetime, the anticipation of things to come has always been much worse than the actual experience itself.  However, thankfully, God’s word always brings me back to a place of peace and calm.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

“Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you.” Genesis 26:24

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

“It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

There are so many, many more scriptures that help in our times of need, but these are just a few to meditate upon to get through this.

I confess, I am a worrier.  Have been since I was a little girl…I used to carry the affectionate (?) nickname of “worry wart.”  Never much liked that title, but true is true. So, I fight hard against that tendency of expecting the worst.  That battle between my ears doesn’t help me one bit and causes a lot of stress, which can play havoc internally.

But with God caring for me, I have remained strong and optimistic through this whole ordeal.  It certainly doesn’t come naturally to me, but all the prayers expressed by all of you have helped me immensely. Thank you! I claim victory in the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philipians 4:7.

One of my hopes in writing these blog posts is that I might be able to offer very real encouragement to all of you.  If I can get through this trial, then YOU CAN GET THROUGH YOURS TOO.  Be of good cheer, we do not journey this life alone.

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

If you are a believer, then you already know the blessing of a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have not yet met Him, I encourage you to give Him a chance.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Not knowing “why” this journey with cancer was allowed in my life, I can only imagine its purpose (or purposes.)  I am humbled and grateful to think that my road can somehow benefit others.  What greater calling is there, than to be a witness for Christ.  He is good.  Please don’t miss out on the greatest gift you could ever receive!

This post did not go the direction I thought it would when I sat down to write it…it’s better  than I imagined.  Thank you for sharing in my inner world.  May God bless you in ways that are beyond your imagination!

Now for a few details to keep you “in the know”:

My surgery tomorrow is at 1:00.  First my surgeon, Dr. Curcio, will perform the bilateral mastectomy (that means both girls are coming off). I’m sad to lose them, but my therapist helped me work through this reality.  She said that my breasts gave life to my children, and now the removal of them will give me life.

(Tears are streaming down my cheeks…time for a little humor to ease the pain!)

Can’t wait to post that one on FB someday, haha!! Not yet, though.  Too soon.  After my “big reveal” and some healing time has passed, I’ll dust this one off for a good laugh.

Back to the details…as part of the mastectomy, my doc will remove at least  3 lymph nodes that are closest to the location of the original tumors and send those off to the lab for biopsy.  In a week, we will receive the results of the biopsy.  We are VERY optimistic that the lymph nodes will be clear.  They were clear a few days before I began chemo, as per my pet scan, so we are very hopeful that there will be no metastasis. When my surgeon is done, after about 3 hours, then my plastic surgeon will commence his work of beginning reconstruction. He will place expanders to stretch my tissue in preparation for the implants, coming in a few months.  He will either place the expanders above the muscle (if my skin tissue is thick enough) or below the muscle (if the skin is too thin).  He will make that decision “on the fly.”  If the expanders are above the muscle, the recovery is much easier.  I am going to trust that either way, with God’s healing hand and a lot of pain killers, I’ll get through it with flying colors.

I should be back home on Saturday and the next step after surgery will be rest and recuperation in my “lazy boy.”  Have to sleep on my back for about a month, so thank you to my sister Marcia for lending me her recliner!

Then on December 9th, when I go in for my post-op and I learn the results of the biopsy, we will have a clearer picture of what’s next.  If I have to have radiation, because of any remaining concerning remnants (I pray that’s not the case), then my plastic surgeon will have to quickly fill my expanders, once a week until we arrive at the best size. Radiation makes skin brittle, so we would have to be done with “expanding” before radiation would commence. If I do not require radiation, then filling the expanders can take place more gradually, which will mean much less pain and distress. (You know what I’m voting for!!) Then, ultimately, after all these steps are completed, I will have another surgery in a few months when doc will remove the expanders and place the implants.  Watch out world, Sandy will be slender, have hair and a new set of girls. I’m so looking forward to this happy ending!

You can see that we don’t have a lot of final answers yet. We will know more soon enough and I will be sure to report what we know.  For now, if you would like to pray for us, we are hoping for a smooth surgery, without complication, and the best possible results.

“May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.” Numbers 6:24-25

So long for now.  I love you with all my heart!  We’ll be in touch soon!