RSS

Tag Archives: breast cancer warrior

The Rebellious Boob Chronicles: The Anatomy of a Selfie

 

My hair is gone.
My eyebrows and eyelashes are thinning.
My cheeks are puffy.
The toxins are breaking my skin out.
I’ve lost weight.
My feet are swollen.
Some days I look in the mirror and I scarcely recognize myself.
I see a cancer patient.
I dig deep.
I hear the inner voice.
I pray for grace.
I pray for joy.
I find strength.
And I remember.
I am Christy.
I am a fighter.
I will prevail.
I will be cancer free and I will be better than I was before I began this journey.
And I smile.

April 11, 2019

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Rebellious Boob Chronicles: Chemotherapy – Round 3 – Brutal but Effective

IMG_9828

Round three of chemotherapy was by far the harshest so far. After my treatment on Monday, I woke up with the beginnings of cold/allergies on Tuesday morning. I usually get one cold every 3 to 4 years at the most and never deal with allergies, yet this is the second cold I have had in a month. It lasted for two weeks (and the allergies are still lingering) and sucked the sap right out of me, ugh! Let me insert I also never take any over the counter cold medications but after drinking my apple cider vinegar/honey and lemon water for days to no avail, I resorted to some Alka-Seltzer plus severe cold (to no avail I might add). I missed another weekend of adventuring and I was nonetheless unhappy about that and I found myself feeling angry.

The second thing I dealt with was the mouth issue again. Thankfully using the Miracle Mouthwash at night before going to bed and the Biotene religiously throughout the day, although my mouth was raw, I was able to maintain enough where I did not get any sores. However, the metal taste was so prevalent this time and I spent two weeks not being able to eat anything. EVERYTHING I ate and drank, even water, tasted like metal, and I used plastic silverware! I survived on protein smoothies, jello and pudding for two weeks.

The little bit of food I was able to choke down stayed on my stomach for about 5 minutes and then it was the familiar mad dash to the bathroom, which I seldom won. I had some of the worst stomach cramps I have ever had in my life. I do believe I picked up a stomach virus for a couple of days upon the beloved back door trots side effect of chemotherapy. Yay me, right? Have you ever thrown up so much that you had nothing left in you and the dry heaves come? Well, I didn’t throw up but experienced the same effect on the other end of the spectrum. Hello fuzzy!  And that is all I will say about that. After a few days I found myself frustrated, exhausted, 12 pounds lighter and ‘hangry.’

For someone with my background, the state of being ‘hangry’ is something that I have never been able to quite understand. Why would people get mad when they are hungry? To me, food has never been a source of pleasure or satisfaction.  From the time I was 13 until I was 33, I struggled with anorexia and bulimia. I could go for days without eating but a morsel of food, and when I felt like I did overeat, I took measures to rid my body of what I looked at as my enemy ASAP. It became a lifestyle for me, a second nature so to speak. The only time I was conscious of eating right was throughout my pregnancies, but as soon as my babies were born, I fell right back into the mindset. After coming to terms with the struggle and making a lot of changes over the years, food became a source of maintenance for me. I rarely crave anything and seldom sit down and really enjoy what I am eating. I eat to be healthy (except after a big hike and then I may eat the heck out of a pizza or a big ole burger, fries and cheesecake or pie!) So for me to be hungry to the point that I was angry about it was an extreme. Nevertheless, I was angry.

I am thankful that the week I was in Fort Lauderdale for training, food finally began to taste good again! Every morning I ate the biggest Belgium waffle you have ever laid eyes on and enjoyed every minute of it. One of my fellow trainees even commented on how I seemed to enjoy my waffle each morning, lol. After I told her my dilemma, she completely understood and celebrated with me and my ability to eat. I believe when this season of my life is over, I will actually appreciate the ability to sit down and savor a good meal much more than I ever have.

I experienced nosebleeds for the first time ever in 49 years. I woke up several mornings with the inside of my nose hurting so bad I could hardly touch it. I assumed it was just from the drainage from the cold however, when I went to put some Aquaphor in it to ease the pain, I noticed I had sores all on the inside of my nose and it was blood raw. Ouch! Oh, and all the nose hairs you have in your nose…gone…without a trace.  I blew my nose carefully, 5 minutes later I had a nose bleed that did not won’t to stop. Can someone say angry??

My face broke out like I was a pubescent teenager and I started noticing some small sores on one of my elbows. I developed a pin size rash on most of my body and might I add it itched like a mother cracker! Bruises from hiking and climbing lasted for weeks, and a simple nick on my skin while cutting my toenail turned into an infection by the next morning. Other simple cuts on my finger and a scratch from a cat briar from hiking bled for two dang hours! WTH! My body just seemed to be falling apart more each day. Can someone else say angry???

One morning while getting ready for work, I noticed my eyelashes and eyebrows were thinning very noticeably and my left eyebrow has this bald spot that refuses to be filled in with an eyebrow pencil. Even though I lost 12 pounds, my face felt like it was puffed up like a blowfish and, at times, when I looked in the mirror, I scarcely recognized myself and I struggled to see Christy staring back at me. I found myself, yep you guessed it, angry! and yes, I cried a little.

There were more days than usual that I felt tired, struggling to get through my work days and evenings to the point that I didn’t think I had the energy to drive 6 minutes to get home.  When my friends and family would call, text or message me to encourage me and remind me that I was ‘one of the strongest women they knew”  I wanted to scream and cry because strong was the last thing I was feeling and I somehow felt like I was failing them all. For the first time through the process, I was not just pissed off, I was angry at all that my body was enduring from the side effects of the chemicals.

I would close my eyes at night and thank God that I had made it through another day and when morning rose, I would pray for sufficient grace to make it through the day and for new mercies to find me, and they always did.

One thing I have always been is real, open and honest and, well, the truth isn’t always pretty. In fact reality can be quite harsh at times but I have always found freedom and healing in authenticity no matter how raw it looks sometimes. When people ask me how my treatments are going, I tell them the truth – brutal but effective. Why do I say brutal? This process that is working to save my life also robs me of my dignity at times. It’s a little embarrassing at work when I have to tell my co-worker that works our front desk that I have to run home and change clothes. It robs me of my confidence at times when I look in the mirror and I see a stranger looking back at me. It robs me of my motherhood at times when my children have to take care of themselves when they are sick or when I am too tired to cook a simple meal. (Let me insert – they have been more than understanding and wonderful to help me and take care of me when I need it!) It robs me of my joy at times when my grand babies want to play and I don’t have the energy. Chemotherapy is brutal yet effective and the tumors are shrinking significantly already and for that I am very thankful!

So as I gear up for round 4 today, I will be 2/3’s of the way done with this process. Insert a big Woo flipping Hoo! I remind myself that this process is working to save my life. This process is going to give me many more years of love, adventure, joy and fulfillment. Although this process is brutal it is actually on my side and rooting for me. I prepare myself as I draw strength from the One who holds me in the palm of His hand. I take with me every prayer, positive thought, word of encouragement, phone call, message, card, text, support and love that is so generously being poured out to me by so many, I am beyond blessed! I clothe myself with a warrior spirit ready to fight this dragon called cancer that has invaded my body. I will fight with a vengeance and I WILL win and I WILL be cancer free! In my near future when I am standing on the mountain top again, I will not forget those moments when it felt like that very mountain was crushing me (thank you to a wonderful friend for those words!). I will be thankful and I will be better than I am at this moment.

It is time…Let’s do this! Round 4, here I come!

 

April 15, 2019

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 15, 2019 in breast cancer, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Rebellious Boob Chronicles: The Day I Cried for Me…

IMG_4718

Hearing the words that you have cancer is nothing short of devastating. No matter how much faith you have, no matter how strong you are, no matter how healthy and active you are, no matter how positive you are, no matter how much you have tried to prepare yourself for the worst, it is still quite unsettling to be faced with that worst. When I first felt that something wasn’t quite right with my body, I immediately began to pray. Hebrews 4:16 tells me to “come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain and mercy and grace in a time of need. So, boldly I went to the throne. Not only did I pray, but I petitioned my Lord, with many reasons, why I needed Him to fix whatever was wrong in my body. I know He listened intently like He always does, and somehow I know that because He is sovereign and He knows the end from the beginning, He grieved a little at the prognosis I was getting ready to face. All good fathers hurt when their children go through hardships. Nevertheless, because of His great love, He had prepared me for this journey in so many ways, and for that I am thankful!

On that dreadful day in January when I heard the news, I cried. I cried for my children, who I love more than life and the fact that I would have to tell them what was going on with me. I cried for the fear I would see in their eyes and the sadness that would grip their souls when they had to hear that their mom had cancer. I cried for the memories that would rush back in to their minds from the journey they had walked with their father just a few short years ago. I cried for the moments that they would lay awake and wonder why they had to endure so much in their lives at such young ages. I cried for the moments they would see their mom weak and hurting and not able to do for them like I always do. I cried for all the tears they would shed silently.  I cried for the sacrifices they would make to stand by me and support me and love me through every moment. I cried as I shared the news with them and proclaimed with courage and assurance that, when it was all said and done, and this journey was complete, that everything would be okay and I would be better than I was at this moment.

On that dreadful day in January when I heard the news, I cried. I cried for my grandchildren, so young and innocent who would have to watch their Momsy struggle with a disease called breast cancer that they would have no understanding of. I cried for the moments that they would want me to play and I would be too tired and would have to say no. I cried for the times they couldn’t come see me because they had a simple runny nose or a belly ache. I cried because at times, I wouldn’t be able to hug them and comfort them when they felt bad. I cried for the moments that I couldn’t kiss them because I would be toxic and full of chemicals. I cried at the confusion I would see in their eyes when they would look at me and I had no hair. I cried for the tears they would shed silently. I cried for the sacrifices they would make to stand by me and support me and love me through every moment. I cried as I would somehow have to share the news with them and proclaim with courage and assurance that when this was all said and done, and this journey was complete, that everything would be okay and Momsy would be better than I was at this moment.

On that dreadful day in January when I heard the news, I cried. I cried for my family who are so near and dear to my heart – my mom, sisters and brother, as I would have to share the news with them. I cried for the pain they would feel and the dread I would hear in their voice as no one wants to hear that their daughter or sister has breast cancer. I cried for my mom and the hurt that would fill her mother’s heart for her daughter as she was suffering. I cried for the moments that fear would grip my sisters heart as they wondered if the same prognosis could be theirs also. I cried for the moments they would all feel helpless in helping me. I cried for the tears they would shed silently. I cried for the sacrifices they would make to stand by me and support me and love me through every moment. I cried as I shared the news with them and proclaimed with courage and assurance that, when it was all said and done, and this journey was complete, that everything would be okay and I would be better than I was at this moment.

On that dreadful day in January when I heard the news, I cried. I cried for my David, my companion, my adventurer, my partner whom, because of his closeness to the situation would have to hear the confirmation that yes, our fears were correct and I had breast cancer. I cried for the moments that would be different because I wouldn’t quite be at my best. I cried for the patience, compassion and grace he would have to possess as he watched his girlfriend change in appearance and stature. I cried for the moments that I would need from him far more than I could give. I cried for the moments he would have to endure as I fell apart at the seams in front of him. I cried for the moments in his life that would change because he chose to be mine. I cried for the tears he would shed silently.  I cried for the sacrifices he would make over the next year to stand by my side and support me and love me through every moment. I cried as I shared with him the news and proclaimed with courage and assurance that when it was all said and done, and this journey was complete, that everything would be okay and I would be better than I was at this moment.

On that dreadful day in January when I heard the news, I cried. I cried for my friends who are precious to me and the deep sighs that would escape their souls as they heard that their friend had breast cancer. I cried for the moments they would hurt because I was hurting. I cried for the efforts they would make to go out of their way to provide for me and help me. I cried for the moments they would need me and I wouldn’t know it. I cried for the tears they would shed silently. I cried for the reality we were facing together and the sacrifices they would make to stand by me and support me and love me through every moment. I cried as I shared with them the news and proclaimed with courage and assurance that when it was all said and done, and this journey was complete, that everything would be okay and I would be better than I was at this moment.

On this dreadful day in January, when I heard the news, I cried for my employers and coworkers whom I have grown to adore, as I would have to share with them that I had breast cancer. I cried as I thought about telling them that this person who they had put their trust in to achieve and be successful would be challenged over the next year. I cried as I felt disappointment in my own heart that I would somehow let them down. I cried as I sat in front of them and vowed to continue to work with diligence for the program and position that I was so passionate about. I cried for the tears they would shed silently. I cried for the sacrifices they would make as they chose to stand by me and support me and love me through every moment. I cried as I shared with them the news and proclaimed with courage and assurance that when it was all said and done, and this journey was complete, that everything would be okay and I would be better than I was at this moment.

On that dreadful day in January, when I heard the news, I cried. I cried for everyone that I loved and the changes that would come.  I cried for the sacrifices they would make to stand by me and support me and love me through every moment. I cried each time I shared the news and proclaimed with courage and assurance that when it was all said and done, and this journey was complete, that everything would be okay and I would be better than I was at this moment.

But one day while driving across the mountain, oh on this day, I cried for me. Finally I allowed the tears to fall for me as I faced the news that I had breast cancer. I cried for the sacrifices that I would make as I would walk through each moment of this journey. I cried for the moments that I wouldn’t feel like myself and my strength would wax and wane. I cried for each time I would feel myself struggling and hurting, having no control over what was happening due to the chemicals that were working for me and against me. I cried for the moments that I would look in the mirror and see the weakness in my own eyes and the changes in my appearance. I cried for the moments that I just wouldn’t feel like doing what I wanted to and I would have to surrender and rest. I cried for my body and how hard it had already fought and would have to fight to see me through this battle. I cried for the parts of me that I would inevitably lose. I cried for those moments when I couldn’t take care of my children as I always had for 23 years. I cried for the changes that would take place in me, knowing that I would never be the same again. I cried as I embraced the news that I had breast cancer and I prayed for courage and assurance that when this was all said and done, and this journey was complete, that everything would be okay and that I would be better, much better, than I was at this moment.

So on this day, I cried and I cried for me.

March 3, 2019.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 14, 2019 in breast cancer, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Rebellious Boob Chronicles: When God Makes Your Coffee…

174810503476a4b27c48a122375e1707

Do you ever have this sneaking suspicion that something just isn’t right? You hear your intuition talking to you and you try your best to acknowledge it and ignore it all at the same time? Last spring through the fall (2018), there were moments I just did not feel like myself. Times, especially on the trail, that I would feel fatigued more so than I thought I should with no reasonable explanation. With having several diabetics in my family, I too have struggled some with regulating my sugar over the past few years so I would just always reason it out as being that, and perhaps some moments that was truly what was going on. However, there was this deeper gnawing in my gut that would throw these ridiculous thoughts into my head. I would shake them off and think…what the heck Christy? I would pray, rebuke (yes, I was raised charismatic! Lol), and go about my business. Then, around July or August, I started noticing a lump in my right breast changing. In 2015 I had a mammogram come back questionable, went for a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound and thankfully the diagnosis was just density. It was a scary moment, scary enough to make me cautious and I kept my mammograms up from that point on, even when I didn’t have health insurance. (Kuddos to a grant at your local health department. Check it out!) Always, it showed up, always it came back as density. In November of 2018, I made yet another regular mammogram appointment, went, received the same diagnosis and was scheduled for yet another diagnostic mammogram and ultra sound for January 3, 2019. This time seemed a little different than the last, the concerns a little more pressing, more care taking during the examination and I somehow knew that a biopsy was on the menu. Now I am a faith filled woman who believes in praying about everything, I had already been talking to God about the possible outcomes and reasoning with him why having something wrong with me would not work at this stage in my life.  My biggest concern, my fear, my pleas…My children, Lord, please don’t make them walk this road again. My children lost their dad to colon cancer in 2011 and needless to say it has been a very tragic and painful road for them. Please Lord, not for my sake, but for theirs, let everything be okay.

I shared the news of the upcoming biopsy with a few close friends to have them pray for my outcome. One of my girlfriends, you know the kind that have been intertwined into your being and became an essential part of your life?  She agreed to go with me to the biopsy, just in case, for comfort and support. And thus it was scheduled, January 10, 2019. I got up that morning standing somewhere between confidence, faith and agitation. I really didn’t have time for all this. I opened my phone to Facebook and my memory from January 10, 2018 stared me in the face: “Dear Christy, when I choose not to move the mountain, then what?” Lamentations 3:21-25. (FYI: My Dear Christy series is a whole other blog!)  I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks. I had been fervently praying for God to move the mountain I anticipated in the distance, and it was at that moment I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, inevitably, me and my children were going to be facing a mountain not of our choosing. Emotion consumed me and I let out a huge sigh. I admit I was a little pissed off at that fact that my children would again have to walk a difficult journey that they had no control over. I was fearful of what the news would do to their precious hearts. My mind full of anguish over the terror that would be piercing to their souls when I had to tell them the news that their mother had cancer. I’m a fairly persistent woman so again I pleaded with my Lord, please; do not make them walk this journey.  Please. Not this mountain, Lord. I said nothing to my children and settled within myself that I wouldn’t say anything until I had something in concrete to tell them.

Fast forward to January 18, sitting in the doctor’s office with my soul sister again by my side. The diagnosis: invasive ductal carcinoma in my right breast. Two places, Stage 1 and 2. I scheduled an appointment with the surgeon and left the office in a fog, trying to figure out how I could get through this diagnosis perhaps without even having to tell my children. I just knew when I went to the surgeon that she would tell me that I would need a simple surgery to remove the lumps and all would be well. ROFLOL right?  I‘m so ambitious.

On January 22, a normal Tuesday evening, I asked all my children to join me for dinner at our house as I had to share the news with them. The next year of our lives would involve months of chemotherapy, surgery, more protein chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery.  My heart broke as I saw the look in their eyes and heard the gasps escape from deep within. They were devastated and they had every right to be. Why Lord? Not why me? Hundreds of women a day hear the same news, if not worse, but my question was, why them Lord? Why again?  What on earth do you have for them to do that requires all of this suffering and growth at such an early age?  I know this journey will be different from the last one, but why, Lord? My heartfelt prayer was simply God give them grace, peace and strength for this journey. Make your presence known to us Lord. We have to know that you are with us every step of this way Lord. We have to.

Over the next several days, we talked, we cried, we talked more, laughed a little, cried more and prayed much. As the moments passed, I sensed a peace that passes understanding envelope us all. Sunday evening rolled around before my first treatment and I was busy trying to get everything prepared for the next morning. Bag packed with goodies and things to occupy the time, clothes picked and laid out, snacks, water, and oh, before I lay down, let me get my coffee pot ready so that I can just hit the button in the morning when I am ready to brew. No need to turn on the timer, I will just have it ready and it will be one less thing I have to focus on. The clock flashing 12:00 am.  Prayers. Goodnight.

Morning rose and so did I, like a warrior, ready to face what was before me. I showered, dressed and prayed fervently again for God to make his presence known to us today in a mighty way. I was collecting my things and remembered my coffee, time to turn it on! I walked into the kitchen and to my surprise there in my coffee pot sat a freshly brewed pot of coffee. It was finishing up its last drip as I flipped on the light. I was a little puzzled as how this had happened. I distinctly remembered NOT turning on the timer to set it, so I looked again at the clock and it was flashing 12:00 am as it had been doing the night before. No one had been up in my house yet, no one had been stirring except for me and God.
God? Did you make my coffee for me?   Did you really turn my pot on for me and make my coffee?

The same God who spoke the worlds into existence, and separated the day from the night. The same God who holds the stars in their place and calls them all by name. The same God who formed the mountains and measured out the seas. The same God who stores the treasuries of the snow and releases them in due season. The same God who gave his son for a ransom so that I could know Him by name. That  very same God had showed up in my quaint little kitchen on a rainy Monday morning in February and turned my coffee pot on. True story! Yes, yes He did! The same God who had walked with us so far in this journey of life is the same God who was saying to me loud and clear, I am here, I am with you, and I am going to take care of you.

I know there are a lot of unknowns that I will be facing over the next year. Lots of ups, downs, surprises, irritations. After making it through my first post-chemo week I have made new discoveries about my body that wish to never have became acquainted with.  I have been dished a rude awakening to just how unbiased chemotherapy is, it doesn’t matter how tough you are, chemo doesn’t care! Did I mention I am a little pissed off about the whole thing and what subjecting myself to chemical warfare is going to do to this rock star body I have worked hard to have? (insert a little laughter – a merry heart does good like a medicine). To even say that I am excited about this journey in the physical sense is absurd. No, I am far from excited. Yet in a few short hours, days and weeks, I have been showered with so many blessings, covered in abundant fervent prayers, received overwhelming support and love and have made connections with women that will be forever set in stone. Do I have a feeling this is going to be one of the worst times of my life? Heck yes!  However I face it head on, with courage and know that it will also be a season coupled with one of the best times of my life.  When the God of all creation cares enough about me and my children to show up and make my coffee for me, what other grand things is he going to do through this journey? This is my story, stay tuned….

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 17, 2019 in breast cancer, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,