Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Breast Cancer Chronicles: The Best News!

Sorry it has been so long between posts. A lot of life has happened in the last four days. Really good life with lots of celebration!

Check out the video below for the details. Like, share, comment, subscribe, celebrate, whatever you wish.

Know that I am thankful to and for every, single one of you whether we have met IRL or only through this blog. Your support, kindness, and love have kept my #glovesup and those of my family, too.

I'm still getting the hang of this video thing, so please be kind.

A new post may even happen later tonight. We'll see. I am still really tired and relatively weak, but I am getting better every day.

Peace, love, and thanks!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Breast Cancer Chronicles ~ The Video Edition: Day One

This is new territory for me. Breast cancer, double mastectomy, bald head, chemotherapy, and now we add to that list Video Blogging. It does, however, seem like it may be a better option some days than writing a full post because fighting cancer can be exhausting.

I was holding the camera while I shot it because I am computer-challenged and too tired to figure it out tonight. This is raw video. I feel silly talking to a camera, I apparently look up A LOT when I'm trying to think. Maybe I need a script next time. We'll see. I just wanted to give it a shot and see how it worked.

Watch with those warnings in mind. Then please be kind if you choose to comment. If you have a suggestion for a phone stand to use during video, I'd seriously appreciate it. I mentioned this is new to me.

Enough stalling. I need sleep. Laugh. Smile. Giggle. Enjoy. Be kind.
And since I forgot to say it at the end of the post, #GlovesUp


Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Breast Cancer Chronicles: It's Me Again!

I'm back! At least for a little while...

First, thank you to everyone who has been supportive of me and my family through this first round of the battle with breast cancer. Your love, time, thoughts, prayers, energy, calls, texts, messages, tweets, cards, gifts, meals, and shoulders keep us going whenever things become too challenging or scary. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. I will say it again later because there will never be thanks enough.

One of my goals in dealing with this damn disease is to use my experience to take some of the fear out of cancer for the next person, or loved one of a person, who faces it. When we talk openly and honestly about things that scare us, the power that those things have begins to dissipate. If it were up to me, and frankly it should be, cancer wouldn't be able to scare or hurt any of us ever again.

As I have said before, I am lucky to have had the amazing doctors who have helped me through the first surgical part of this journey. Dr. Rock Star and his staff have been lovely, kind, gentle, and even entertaining throughout the "taking them off" part. Dr. Superwoman took the second half of the surgery, "putting them on" in the form of expanders to help my chest muscles learn how to work in their new place. The expanders kind of remind me of whoopee cushions, or empty beach balls. They go in flat and get filled every week with sterile saline until they are the size and shape that the actual implants will be. Pretty cool, right? But I am jumping way ahead. We'll come back to Dr. Superwoman and her terrific team in a little while. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I am still on meds, so I talk in circles sometimes. (Like that is anything new! I just have something on which to blame it now!)

The surgery was three weeks ago yesterday. and I may have to tell this in installments because so much has happened in the last twenty-two days.

Day One: Surgery
I knew that the scan they needed to do of my lymph nodes before the mastectomy involved an injection, what I didn't know until the day before my surgery was that the injectionS were to go in just below my nipples without anesthesia! I had never been in so much pain in my entire life. Until after the surgery. There was no way to prepare for that! If any part of it could be funny, it had to be the fact that the doctor who came in to give me the shots was the parent of a former student! I knew as soon as he introduced himself, and I told him how much I enjoyed teaching her. Then, midway through the injection, I remember wailing, "I was nice to W...! Why would you hurt me?" He apologized and just kept on sticking. Then I was left alone for twenty or thirty minutes so the stuff he injected could get where it needed to go to be detected.

Next was Pre-Op for loads of questions, weight, BP, and an IV. The nurse or tech trying to put in my IV was midway through her second try when a lovely doctor walked in and asked, "Amy?" Instantly I recognized her as the mother of yet another former student! She said, "K... told me you would be here today! I'm not your anesthesiologist, but I wanted to make sure you were okay." I was thrilled! Then she looked at the IV debacle happening in my right arm and said, "I got this. Thanks." Not only did she numb the area -What a concept!- but she put in a painless IV on the first try into an even tougher spot! Thanks, Dr. B! I still have a bruise from the one that was happening when she arrived. After huge thanks, an update on her kids, and a couple of hugs, she was on her way. Just a few minutes later, a former student popped in to check on me. Come to find out she is a tech at the hospital and wanted to give me a pre-op hug! Love you, KH! Again I was overwhelmed with thanks for this amazing life I live.

And then it was time.

Surgery started later than scheduled. My Dream Team of perfectionist surgeons had another case before mine, and they wanted to make sure everything was right. We were  happy to know how much it mattered to them to get the little things right. The complete operation lasted between four and five hours. Through the post-op haze I remember being almost unable to breathe from the pain I felt coming back into consciousness. Baby Sis tells me that all I got out was a barely audible, "," that made them all want to cry. I'm pretty sure I was crying. Loads, and loads, and loads of Dilaudid later, it still hurt like Hell, but I was able to rest a little. E stayed the night with me in the hospital so Mom could go home to get some sleep. He made sure I rested as comfortably as I could with with four drains sticking out of me, not an easy task. That night when I first tried to get out of bed to use the restroom, I remember being so thankful that my office is on the second floor, and that I have taken the stairs up and down several times each day for the last year. That made getting into and out of bed without using my hands or arms a possibility. I'm not sure I could have done that eighteen months ago. #glasshalffull

Who would have believed that a complete double mastectomy with reconstruction only merited a single night in the hospital? Not this Betty! But that is, in fact, the case. One night only. Getting out of the hospital should have been the easy part right? Not if you know my family! Mom, Dad, and Baby Sis were all there to help. Truth be told, I wasn't feeling particularly well as I made the switch from IV pain meds to pills. I thought I was just a little light-headed and figured it would pass, but probably should have said something. The wheelchair came, everyone took a bag and we were out the door. Suddenly we entered what I was sure was the Walking Dead hospital crossway, remember? You know, the one that was so bright, where they were going to get Beth back from the woman who held the hospital. Yes! That one! The image popped into my head and as it did I heard a crash behind me, followed by an expletive or two. I twisted around in my chair (bad plan after double mastectomy) to see Dad on the floor! The man has a pair of bright, shiny, new hips, so his fall was more than a little scary for all of us! He was fine, but mortified. I remember trying to ask if he was okay, as the nurse was explaining that she needed him to go to the ER to get checked out, and then everything went black. Yep! I passed right out in my chair! I had already been released from the hospital! This had to be a joke. Right? Next thing I knew they were wheeling me back into a room, Dad and Baby Sis had gone downstairs to fill out a report and agree not to sue, since he refused to go to the ER, while I lay in a freshly made hospital bed sobbing. It was, at the time, awful. The next day, it was hilarious! And it gets funnier by the day. I'm pretty sure we have more fun laughing at ourselves than just about anything else. We crack ourselves right up almost all of the time.

I'll end this post here, but stay tuned for new ones, shorter, and funnier, and filled with hope.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Take care of each other and be kind.



Peace from Post Op

Thursday, July 21, 2016

GUEST POST: Three weeks post-op

"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion..."
-Miss Truvy, Steel Magnolias

These past three weeks have been most stressful we can remember, and we are in for several more before it is all over and done...

This is Mom, SandiPaints, guest posting now.
Amy is and always will be the most positive person I have known, and with this attitude we have all laughed more then we have cried around this cancer bullsh!t, that is for sure.  I love her so much for helping us to help her get on the other side of this and on to the next step.

Next up we are on to chemo, which none of us likes the idea of, but it is the lesser of two evils so... Bring it on, Chemo! Our gloves are all up!

 We, in this family, have been so blessed and we are Thankful to everyone who has shown us so much love. The doctors, the nurses, the techs, the support staff everywhere we go who have been so wonderful, done so much, and just keep doing more...
The cards, letters, shirts, bracelets, foods, gifts, prayers, shoulders, and good thoughts have been more than we could have asked for, and we are so appreciative...Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Please keep the good thoughts coming as we head into the next phase of crushing this cancer. Chemo starts next Thursday. Amy (Betty) will post her own update soon.

Thank you all so much.  Take care of each other.

Gloves Up, y'all!


"Working hard" a while ago at Painting With a Twist.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Guest Post: Two Weeks Post Op

This is Amy's Dad.  Guest posting because she asked me to. Not sure Wy.

So Amy has been home for 2 weeks today. 2 weeks. And she continues to amaze. She is doing so well. Her last drain (of 4) "fell out" Sunday night. No more drains. She did a little Yoga last evening.
She must get her positive attitude from her Mother. It is serving her so well and we are so happy about it.

Going to have to have Chemo. Preventative. We'll know more later this week. Surgery seems to have "got it all." All of us feeling so blessed.

Since Jenn left, Sandi has stayed the night mostly to supervise pain meds, drains, etc. and has taken great care of our girl.  I've taken a few shifts as Night Nurse and Amy says I am progressing nicely.

So much thanks to so many people for all the food, gifts, positive thoughts, and prayers. You have been such a help to our bodies and our spirits. This is going much better than we ever thought. Thank you. Thank you.

Amy will write her own update soon.

Thank you for all of your love and support.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

GUEST POST: The Post-Op Update You've All Been Waiting For

Well, here we are. First of all, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jennifer, AKA "Baby Sis", "Monster's Mommy" or "Nifer". I am the little sister of our favorite Betty and I am visiting from Seattle to get in the way, ahem, I mean help with the recovery of my dearest sister.
So the surgery was three full days ago, and she got through it like a real champ! Both surgeons said she did amazingly well and the surgery went just as expected, no surprises. The cancer does NOT appear to have spread to the lymph nodes! Great news! Thank you, thank you!!
She will be meeting with a medical Oncologist on the 21st to discuss chemotherapy. Meanwhile, she is home and resting (un)comfortably. She is feeling all of the love and support from "Amy's Army" and she feels, in her exact words, Incredibly Grateful. The calls, texts, cards, deliveries, etc have been wonderful and we are all so, so thankful to have all of you out there pulling for her. It really does make hard times easier when we know that so much love and positive energy surrounds us.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You all know My Betty, she can't stay down long, so she will be back to share her words of wisdom soon. Until then, she will be resting, medicating, and building her strength back up so that she can return to being the Rock that you are used to seeing.
Keep those positive thoughts and prayers coming! Gloves up!!
#glovesup #breastcancer #gratitude #surviving #luckygirl