Friday, April 25, 2014

Take a Breath

Life has gotten crazy busy!  I know it will slow down soon enough, but I'm actually enjoying the chaos while it lasts.  You would not have heard me say that a year ago.  I would have been overwhelmed by the thought of so many appointments, meetings and friends.  This is a new normal now.  I've become one of those busy people that is always doing something.  And I love it!

I love spending time with my friends, old and new.  I love getting out of the house every day, even if it's for a medical test.  And I especially love getting my hands dirty in the yard.

This week my neighbors helped me big time with a garden in my back yard.  They built garden boxes and filled with dirt.  Then I got seeds, plants and fruit trees and got it all in the ground.  Then another neighbor set up a sprinkler system for the garden.  I swear I live in the best neighborhood.  And I'm excited to start growing my own fruits and vegetables!

Then I went to dinner with my good friend Brenda last night.  As soon as we walked in to the restaurant, I recognized my friend Crystal who works at the cancer center.  And then, while we were eating, a familiar face came over to the table.  It was Joyce, one of the nurses that helped me when I was first diagnosed with cancer and was getting my chemo port put in.  She paid for our dinner!  I am constantly floored by the generosity and kindness I see on a daily basis.

My new shirt from my friend Cherry.
It says, "I make cancer look sexy!"
Here I make cancer look tired because I was up
too early and not allowed to have coffee before the test.  
So, back to the busy talk.... this morning, I got up before dawn to head to Spartanburg for my MRA.  It's like an MRI, but looks at veins and blood vessels.  This test replaced the CT scan the plastic surgeon needed before surgery.  We went with the MRA to avoid more radiation exposure.  It amazes me how far technology has come.

These are the abdominal blood vessels that will be used
to re-establish blood supply to my new breast during my upcoming surgery

These are my guts....because it's awesome

And I thought this was cool.  They use your palm to identify patients.
I asked her about my love life, but she said the machine doesn't read THAT well.

After getting lost in the armpit of Spartanburg for thirty minutes, I finally made my way back to the other side of town to do my special Echocardiogram that looks at strains.  I asked what the strain test was, and basically, the way I understood it was, there are band-like fibers that surround the heart.  When the heart contracts, the bands twist and squeeze.  The test looks at the function of those bands.  As far as the actual function of my heart, all seems to be well, and the Herceptin doesn't seem to be causing any toxicity.  That's fantastic news!  It must have just been a temporary spell of Tachycardia a couple weeks ago.   Here's a video of my heart beating.  You can see all four chambers of the heart.

Next week continues with more appointments as I prepare for my upcoming surgery.  I meet with the Oncologist on Monday, the breast surgeon on Tuesday,  the plastic surgeon and hospital pre-op on Wednesday, and I have my monthly dose of Herceptin on Friday.   Add Eliah's IEP meeting for school and my dad and stepmom arriving Friday, you would think that's enough for one week.... but it's not.

There's one more thing I'm super excited about.  When I first found the lumps in my breast and armpit, I contacted Susan G Komen Foundation for help in getting tested.  A woman named Robin Aiken was able to help me and get all the information I needed.   I couldn't have done it without her help.

Well, to get to my point, she has been following my blog and my cancer journey since I was diagnosed.  And she contacted me a couple weeks ago with a request.  The 20th Anniversary Susan G Komen Race for the Cure is coming up in September, and Robin asked if I would be a part of their marketing campaign this year.  I am so honored to be asked to join other survivors in talking about their journey.

So next week, in between all the medical appointments, we'll be doing a professional photo shoot and video interview.  They'll even be asking about my journey and my blogging experience.  So my hope is that word spreads and others can use my blog, whether they need it for guidance, inspiration, or just entertainment.  And to top it off, I'll have my own Race for the Cure team!!  I'll need lots of people on my team (minimum 20), so plan on signing up as soon as I get the team page set up on Facebook.  

Reconstruction surgery happens in eleven days!!  Things have been getting better and better, and this next step will hopefully be the icing on one very delicious boob cake.  

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