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Friday, December 28, 2007


FINALLY! After 14 months of chemo and Herceptin I am finally done with treatment. I still have to meet with my oncologist next week and get the final exam. I am so glad to get that behind me. I will still have to have lab work done every 3 months for 2 years and then every 6 months just to make sure everything is staying the course.

I still have some major reconstruction hurdles to get over but I am so thrilled to not have to have drugs pumped into my system on a regular basis. I am excited to get the port taken out as well. I don't notice it any more but getting it removed is my way of saying I don't ever plan to need that thing again!!!!

It is a great way to end the year. I will be toasting to a new year and toasting to being done!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ups and downs

This last fill has had lingering pain. I am so glad it was the last one but I am not looking forward to waking up achy every morning until the first of March when my doctor gets back. I haven't been able to work out much but I am slowly starting back into my cardio at least. It is amazing how even running pulls at my chest muscles. But I need to be doing something with all the holiday sweets around. Damage control!!!!

On the up side, my last treatment is the day after Christmas. Then on the 2nd of January I will hopefully get the all clear from my doctor and then just have to follow up every 3 months. It will be bittersweet as having to go in every 3 weeks has been somewhat of a safety net for me. Something about being in "fighting mode" makes me feel safer. Of course I don't want to live that way forever. I need to try to get my life back to a new sense of normal. Finishing treatment at the end of 2007 is like giving me a clean slate for 2008.

I spent the end of 2006 and all of 2007 fighting and healing. In that 15 months I have had 4 surgeries so far, 2 MRIs, 4 MUGA scans, 1 CAT scan, 1 bone scan, 4 postoperative fills, about 30 infusions (chemo and Herceptin) and too many doctors appointments to look at what used to be my chest! 2007 was certainly a year about me but not the way I would have wanted. 2008 is my year to take back control. Finish losing the weight, finish the surgeries and move forward!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

So much for going smoothly

I had my last fill on Friday and it did a number on me. I am still very sore 3 days later. Thank goodness it was my last one. I was lucky that this was the only one that was painful. For some women every fill hurts.

On top of being uncomfortable I have found out that my plastic surgeon will be gone from 12/19 until 3/1. So I have to rush to have the exchange surgery before Christmas or wait around with these rocks in for 12 weeks. My schedule is crazy with the holidays so the only time I could try for was the 19th but the hospital is booked at this point. I am on the cancellation list. They are telling me the doc now might be back as soon as mid-February and I will be at the top of the listwhen he comes back. I guess this is better than nothing. I have to get my port removed in January and I was so hoping to get this all done at the same time. Of course it couldn't go that smoothly.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

OH! My story on the calendar

I forgot I said I would post the story that is on the calendar. Chemo brain!!!!

Jennifer Poole is a young mother of four who beat breast cancer. She is also a woman who struggled with weight gain, energy loss and depression from chemotherapy. Determined to get energy and strength back, Jennifer turned to Gold's Gym. Her workouts helped her focus on her main goal - to redefine herself not just as a cancer survivor, but as a woman ready to embrace life. She felt more fit and powerful every time she went to the gym. Defeating cancer may have been Jennifer's first victory, but becoming a strong, energetic woman again was her ultimate triumph.

Very nice write up!!!

December issue of Self and looking forward

On page 70 of Self's magazine's December issue you will find the pictures and story of the woman that won the Gold's Gym Challenge. She lost 5 pounds but also 9% body fat. So that means she must have lost about 15 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle. She looks very healthy. Megan was much more tone. I wasn't even near that tone but lost more weight and as much body fat. Jody and Patti didn't have as many votes but both either lost more weight or body fat and Jody was really tone!!! So who knows what they considered in their final decision.

My next goal is to show them that I deserve to win the next challenge and be in the calendar again next year. The local gym has a contest every January for 12 weeks and I plan on signing up so I can continue to reach my goal. I am not even half way to where I want to be!!!! I am planning my exchange surgery in January but it shouldn't throw me off for more than about 10 days and I can still work my legs etc.

I have decided to cancel my surgery in Seattle in February. It is much more invasive then just implants so I figure I will at least test drive the implants and see. If I later decide I don't like them or I have problems with them then I can look into Seattle again. There is also the money part of it. My insurance will pay for all of it since I have surpassed my annual out of pocket but it won't cover travel expenses. I will have to be there for 2 weeks and my mom or hubby would want to take turns being close by as well. That is a big expense for hotel, flight, rental car, food etc. The other is that I don't have much time left on the books at work. I have used as little as I could but the Seattle surgery would have me off work for at least 6 weeks and my disability doesn't kick in for at least 30 days after running out of sick leave. So not only would I have the added expenses of travel, but I would also be out at least one paycheck. Not an easy thing to do right after the holidays and with one child needing braces etc. I think part of it is that I just want get some closure. If I can get implants and lose the weight with the gym etc then I don't need the "tummy tissue" breast reconstruction. But that door will always be open a bit if I need to go through it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Calendar picture

Here it is... You can't really read the story at the bottom. I will have to type it in my next post. I would do it now but it is late and I spent too much time playing with possible Christmas pictures from our Disneyland trip.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fills, calendars and fears

I had my first fill this week. 100 ccs on each side. It wasn't too bad. Mainly just tender but not really painful. Hopefully it will continue that was for the next fills but I think it will get more painful as the skin and muscle are stretched more. Now that I am starting to feel normal again I have got a cold! If it isn't one thing it is another. sniff, sniff, sneeze, cough.

The Gold's Gym Calendar arrived this week. It is really nice but I am, of course, critical of myself. I have an intense look on my face so I think I look like a deer in the headlights. HA HA!!!! The write-up about me and getting back into shape after breast cancer was nicely done. I am March which thrills my daughter since that is her birth month, but I was hoping for October.

For a year now I have been posting and reading on the Young Survival Coalition message boards. Lately I have been focusing on reading about reconstruction and expander pain etc. Even with that focus it has been impossible to ignore the large number of women whose cancer has returned and/or spread. It is heartbreaking. I find myself torn - I want to be supportive of them and let them know I am thinking about them but part of me also wants to ignore it and stop going to the boards. One woman was on Tamoxifen like me and her cancer has returned to her liver, bones and possibly brain. Her doctor told her she probably shouldn't have been taking antidepressants at the same time as the Tamoxifen since recent studies have shown the antidepressants reduce the effectiveness of the Tamoxifen. What the heck??? More than half of us are on antidepressants just so we can cope with the treatment, losing our breasts and hair, and fighting for our lives. I will certainly be asking my oncologist about this at our appointment this week. I was already on the wrong meds for 5 months and now that I have the right ones they may not be working to their full potential.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Celebrating being a survivor

November 1st was one year since my surgery to remove the cancer from my body. So November 1st is considered my survivor date. My hubby sent me pink roses and Saturday night we went out to dinner. He is said it was more important to remember this date instead of the date of my diagnosis. He wants to remember when I became cancer free, not when I found out I had cancer. I can't argue with that logic!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I am still here - just moving slow

Surgery went well but it was a more difficult (painful) recovery than all my other surgeries. Partially because it was both sides at the same time and because they placed expanders between my chest muscles and filled them with 300 ccs each. OUCH!!!! I had to sleep in a recliner for the first 10 days and I still end up in there some nights because I can't get comfortable in my own bed.

Next week I will start fills. For those who don't know what all that entails, the expanders have a port in them and the doc will shoot in more saline. They can do anywhere from 50-100+ ccs at a time depending on how much pain the stretching creates. I just keep telling myself that this will be worth it and all over in a few months!

As for working out - none, nada!!! Now that I am two weeks out from surgery I can slowly starting walking the treadmill and bike a stationary bike. I can't do much else because I lack the energy and the doc says not to lift more than a jug of milk (no more than 10 pounds). Hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to do some basic weights even with the fills going on. Of course I won't be doing push-ups but I am not heartbroken over that!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Surgery tomorrow (again)

Tomorrow morning I start my reconstruction process. I am still undecided about how I want the final product - implants or tummy tissue - but I know I need to get the expanders in and get the process going. I am not really nervous about just more concerned about making sure I have everything I need etc since this is outpatient at a different hospital with a different doctor. So the routine I have become accustom to won't work for tomorrow.

Tonight I am trying to get the house somewhat clean and soak in the bath to relax for a bit. Hopefully this will be a quick recovery!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rough week

This week is the one year mark of my testing, biopsy and diagnosis. A year ago today I was driving home from work when the doctor called back and told me it was positive for cancer. I had been calling his office all day trying to get the results. I held it together until I got home and then waited for my husband to get home. Once I said it out loud to him I lost it. The whirlwind of tears, tests, research and doctors had begun. I would never be the same person again.

It is a rough day to remember but I am so thrilled to be sitting here a year later to recall it. I didn't really do anything to note the day other than a friend bought me coffee and I might have a drink later to "celebrate". Today was Passionately Pink for the Cure day at work and it was wonderful to see so many co-workers in pink and we raised almost $300. I also had a meeting at the hospital about a survivor panel I will be sitting on next weekend. So my day was again surrounded by reminders of breast cancer but they were positive reminders!

Next week is the beginning of my reconstruction process so I will be down for a few days. Then November 1st will be my one year as a survivor since that is the anniversary of my surgery that removed the cancer.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Welcome to the sea of Pink

Today begins Breast Cancer Awareness month. Be prepared to see pink everywhere. I think it is great that so many are doing so much to create awareness and raise money but be warned. If you want to buy something to support the cause make sure that it truly is. Companies that offer to donate $5 from a $200 item are not necessarily in it for the cause. Sure that $5 will add up if they sell alot of product but think of how much they are making off this deal simply by making it pink.

I admit I own a pink ice cream scoop and pink measuring cups among many other pink items but the ones I will always go out of my way for is Yoplait, Avon, Levis, Coldwater Creek, Ford, and obviously anything that gives to or is related to Komen for the Cure. There are others out there but these ones and a few others have been around long before it was trendy to "Be Pink" and support awareness. Check out to find out who is truly helping the cause. They go even further to point out that Ford gives a lot of money but continues to produce cars that make exhaust chemicals that are tied to breast cancer. Same for many of the make-up companies that continue to use cancer causing toxins in their products while giving to cancer research.

All that said, I am not sure that any press (or in this case pink) is bad press (pink) when it comes to creating awareness about breast cancer. I know October will be a difficult month for me. All the coverage of breast cancer and seeing pink everywhere will be a constant reminder of how much my life has changed. I was also diagnosed in October so the memories will be even stronger than normal as I approach my one year "cancerversary".

I read an ad on the back of a cancer survivor magazine that I just love! "Whoever said winning isn't everything as never had to fight cancer." Winning and doing the celebration dance in the zone is what it is all about!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ordering calendars

I got an email today from the PR firm telling me I could order additional Gold's Gym calendars for under $1 each. (I get a few free ones for myself and my family.) Anyway, I know a few people wanted to know how and where to get them so I can order them for you and ship them to you or you can get them at your area Gold's Gym. They should be out the second week of November but I need to get the order in to them sometime this week.Hopefully my picture and story will be on October! Seems logical but you never know!

Thanks everyone for your encouragement and support!!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Dinner with a few survivors while on my trip. We
compared hair length and curls in addition to our
cancer experiences and life now.

View of the Simi Valley Gold's Gym from the second floor cardio area.
You can see the Cardio Cinema sign in the back (behind the boxing ring). This is where you can watch movies in a theater setting while doing cardio. They were playing Tomb Raider while we were there.
Their outdoor swimming lanes. It was a beautiful day as you can see from the blue sky.

Back from the photo shoot

LA was a fast and fun trip. I flew in on Monday and that evening I went to dinner with two survivors from the online group I post on. We had a great time and it was so wonderful to meet them and compare notes.

Early the next morning the PR firm picked up 4 of us for the shoot. We spent most of the day at a newer Gold's Gym working out and watching each other's photo shoots. One gentleman had his photos done on a weight machine, another man on an elliptical machine, a woman teaching her fitness class and me on a spin bike. The calendar should be out in November., but I don't know how much it costs yet. I can't wait to see it and read the stories of all the other participants. I did feel a bit out of place during the shoot because I wasn't in as good a shape as the others but I still had a great time and everyone made me very comfortable.

Megan from the Gold's Gym challenge was there the day before me having her pictures taken playing volleyball on the beach. It would have been nice to meet her after "competing" against her in the challenge.

That night I went to dinner with the woman from Atlanta who lost 180 pounds and is now an instructor and personal trainer. What a great story! You can read about her at

I took several pictures so I will have to try to post those later.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Heading to LA

So my flight leaves for LA in a few hours. I am getting a bit nervous. I have been able to do some cardio 5 out of the last 7 days. I still can only do leg weights. I have ton a few very light arms weights but I can only do a few reps. I just have to keep telling myself that they want me in the Gold's Gym calendar because of my journey and the challenges I have faced head on. They are not looking for me to have six pack abs, and be tone and tan all over. That would be nice though. Maybe next year at this time when all the treatment and surgeries are behind me.

I am looking forward to a few days alone as well to do some soul searching about my reconstruction and some other projects I have going on. I am hoping to go to dinner with some survivors in LA as well tonight. That will be so much fun if we can get all coordinated!

I will take lots of pictures and post them when I return along with all the details!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Crazy, Sexy Cancer

Did you see this documentary the other night? I recorded it and watched it over the weekend. It was very interesting because it is about a woman with Stage IV cancer who is basically controlling it with diet and exercise. She hasn't been through chemo, never lost her hair etc but wakes up every day knowing she has 24 tumors inside her. She also interviewed 3 other women with different types of cancer - one was a women living with breast cancer for the last 10 years. All of these women were in their 30's or 40's.

Although a lot of the show didn't mirror my cancer experiences it did hit home about the fear and hidden strength that comes with cancer. One woman had to leave her child for two months while she underwent a stem cell transplant. It doesn't matter what kind of cancer it is, it will forever change you. I think we all learn something about ourselves when we are fighting for our lives. It might be realizing that you are stronger than you ever thought you could be, or realizing just how blessed you are with supportive family or friends, or realizing that when it comes to living a fulfilling life that extra ten pounds or any other flaw you see in the mirror does not define your happiness. These are hard lessons to learn and a hard way to learn them.

On a side note, there was a section in the documentary called BC (Before Cancer). I was surprised by that since I had the dream and the posting about BC and AD before the show aired on the 28th. I must have a sixth sense! :-)

Monday, September 3, 2007

What a difference a year makes

Last year at this time I was stressing about turning 35. I never worried about turning 30 but something about being 35 made me feel older than I wanted to be. There were things I had wanted to accomplish before turning 35 that I hadn't done yet. Now I am about to turn 36 and I am a 10 month breast cancer survivor. Things have definitely changed. I am happy to be able to get older and celebrate another birthday. I am sure I will still complain from time to time about being older but I am thankful that I am here to celebrate those wrinkles!

A year ago I was trying to save up money to have laser hair removal done at least on my eyebrows. Once again, a year later I have a different view. I would still like it done at some point but right now I am sort of enjoying having to pluck my eyebrows and shave my legs again!

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bittersweet Morning

Today my youngest started school. She was so excited. I was excited for her but also sad because it means our Baby Girl is growing up. So we now have one in elementary, two in junior high, and one that just started high school! That is 3 different back to school nights! UGH!

While wiping away tears as I walked away from my daughter's classroom this morning I took a moment to thank God for helping me be there on her first day. I am not talking about being off work for surgery recovery on her first day, I am talking about His divine intervention that enabled me to find my cancer before it had spread, for the strength He has given me to fight the cancer and survive the treatment, and the numerous other blessings He has given to me (supporters, experiences, etc) throughout my journey.

A year ago I never would have thought there was a possibility that I wouldn't be there for her first day of school. Although I will want to continue to take my life in baby steps and enjoy every memory we create, I also am planning ahead to be here to see my grandkids first day of school!!! Cancer cannot and will not keep me from creating these precious memories!!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shape and texture

I knew I needed to do something with this mass of thick, curly hair so decided to give it over to my good friend/hair dresser to help me out. I couldn't bring myself to say I needed it "cut" and "thinned out" so we settled on the terms of "shaping and texturing" my hair into a more managable style. After being without hair for four month and then not having enough hair to style outside of a "buzz cut", it was strange to think of getting it cut and actually having style. It is still pretty short so we couldn't do much with it but the back had been growing faster then the top so Brenda evened it out. The back seems to be even curlier now!! I know the chemo curls won't last forever and I won't complain because at least I have hair now!!! Hopefullly the "shaping" will get it to grow even faster now. Fingers crossed!

Friday, August 24, 2007

BC and AD

When referring to a date in history you will see BC (before Christ) or AD (after Death). I have decided this initials have taken on new meaning for me.

BC is now "Before Cancer" as in my hubby and I went to Mexico 2 years before I got cancer.

AD is now "After Diagnosis" as in I am in now 10 months after diagnosis.

Not the way I want to reference my dates but cancer has impacted me so much over the last year that is it hard to not reference it that way.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Getting soft

Well I am trying to stretch at least my legs several times a day. Working my stomach is a bit more difficult since it can pull on my surgical area if I try sit-ups. I am doing what little I can to stretch with my arms as well. All thi isn't enough. I am getting "soft". I can see that I am already losing some tone and it is very frustrating. I know I can't push myself but I am hoping to find something to help me hold on to what I have already achieved.

My eating has been pretty good. We have received some premade meals from folks so I just watch my portions on those and then hope to stick to my menu plan the rest of the time.

Yesterday I met with my doc. She said I can drive but I can't go back to work yet. I still wear out too fast and still have some discomfort and the drain. Tomorrow I meet with the plastic surgeon so hopefully we can starting scheduling the next steps in this process.

I also set up an appointment with my hair dresser. I don't have alot of hair but it needs some shape and then we are going to play around with styling it. I am hoping we can come up with something cute. These days it is so thick and curly that there isn't much that can be done with it.

I am still trying to coordinate with Gold's Gym about travel dates for the calendar. My treatment and surgery times make it more difficult.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A week later

It has been a week since surgery and I am moving around more but still tiring out fairly fast. Today my mom helped me out by taking the boys and I school clothes shopping. One more task for school done. Tonight we will go get some of the supplies (paper, pens, etc) while we are out refilling my meds. Tomorrow night we meet with the kindergarten teacher. We are almost ready to go!!! Soccer games also start this weekend so things are getting busy!

The fair is in town and I have always gone to it to at least people watch, have a corndog and churros, and just walk around. This year we won't be doing that for two reasons. One is the obvious that I just had surgery so I can't be out walking around in the heat and risking the crowds bumping into me. Second is that we went to Disneyland a month ago so we don't want to spend money on the fair after all the glory of Disneyland and California Adventure. I will miss my churros though! :-)

I am trying to keep my eating healthy since I am not working out. I am trying to walk a bit everyday and stretching out what limbs I can for exercise. Hopefully I won't have lost too much tone or gained any weight before doing the Gold's Gym calendar in 3 weeks!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Getting antsy already

I am starting to wean off the pain meds but I am still sore. I want off this couch but I am still tired. I can't drive anywhere yet so I am still just hanging out at home. I am trying to get caught up on movies and magazines while I am home but I will admit that I have been checking my work email several times a day as well. Two of the boys are home too and it doesn't take much for me to get annoyed with them.

More than anything I am starting to feel antsy about school starting in a week. We still have alot of things to get coordinated next week (kids doc appointsment, school supply shopping, meeting with he kindergarten teacher, starting soccer practices, etc) inbetween my post op appointment, my herceptin treatment and my appointment with the plastic surgeon. I just don't feel as organized or as in control when I am sitting at home on the couch instead of in front of my calendar etc. I know I will spend the weekend making To Do lists and meeting with the kids to make sure everyone is ready to go for school. At least it will help me feel productive.

I was going to go for a short walk today but my back was really hurting me. I will try to do something tonight but it might be tomorrow before I feel up to walking much. Getting out of the house will be nice too except it has been really hot here. Several friends came by to visit today and brought me a latte. It was great to be able to visit with them for awhile and get the scoop on what is going on in the outside world.

Well I promised my little girl that she could do my make-up so I better getting going and get "pampered".

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Home and resting

I am home from the hospital and doing well. I am still on pain killers but I feel better than I did after the last surgery. Of course this time the surgery was less involved. I am plenty tired and sore though. The pathology came back and it was cancer free! Tomorrow I plan to start walking on the treadmill in small doses. They also gave me some home exercises to do with my arm that will help with recovery but not over do it.

This is the beginning of a long process for reconstruction but it will be worth it!

Thanks to Jodi and Megan (from the challenge) for your thoughts and support!

Time to rest.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Surgery tomorrow

Early tomorrow I will be going in to have my other breast removed. I have had a few scares with it already and I don't want to do through this again if I can avoid it. It is just easier to have them both gone and get new ones. It will be a long drawn out process but it will be worth it. I have already talked with my trainer about what exercises/stretches I can do while at home on the couch for 2 weeks. Hopefully I will be able to walk in small amounts after just a few days. It will be awhile (at least 6 weeks) before I can really start lifting mroe than 10 pounds weights with my arms.

Did I mention that I was interviewed by another TV channel on Sunday. It was an ABC station doing to local tie in with the Good Morning America host who has breast cancer as well. They even talked about me being an inspiration for the Gold's Gym challenge. I am thrilled to inspire but I hope I can create awareness as well.

Better get some sleep. I have a long day tomorrow (of course I will be sleeping through most of it!)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Interesting opportunity

I have been asked to appear in the 2008 Gold's Gym Calendar that shows people's before and after pictures and their bio. I am flattered that they think I would be great for this and that my story is inspiring. I have to admit that I am concerned about the fact that I am not even close to buff! I am still quite far from my goals so I am worried I will look out of place in the calendar. The other thing is that I have surgeries coming up so I am not sure how I will feel etc. I know I won't be able to wear tank-tops or swimming suits for the photo shoot. I have until Monday to decide and I will want to talk with the people to address my concerns before I commit to it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Welcome to the new blog

I have never been someone who would take the time to blog or build my own web pages etc. After blogging for the Gold's Gym Body Makeover Challenge I have decided to try to keep the blog going here. Plus you can comment now!

I will continue to focus on my fitness challenges but I will also blog about my health challenges and surgeries, my challenges with trying to be a mom to 4 kids, a wife, a supervisor, and more while trying to put my health and well-being first.

Thanks for joining me on this wild ride!!!