Fight like a girl

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Radiation has started

It's been a little while since I blogged.  But all this treatment takes time.  Hurry up for this appt., then wait.  Hurry up for the next appt., then wait.  But I have finally started Radiation.  I will be taking on 31 treatments.  I have finished 5 treatments, only 26 to go!

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For those who have never had radiation, I wanted to share.  So here is a little about my radiation experience so far.  (I am not an expert, this is just MY experience through my breast cancer journey.)
I have about a one hour driving time. I am only in the cancer center for about 15 minutes. That includes dressing and undressing.  The radiation treatment itself only takes a few minutes. 

Once I get there, I have a dressing room I go to and get into a homemade (and donated) gown; top half only.  (It looks like a medical scrub top.)  I then place my things in a locker and go into this large room with the radiation machine.  I lie on the table in a special 'mold' that was made to fit the shape and size of my body.  I lie in this every time I go.  There is a triangle pillow placed under my knees, and I lift my arms up over my head.  The left side of my gown (the breast that had cancer removed) is pulled up and the technician makes sure that all my tattoos are lined up and the machine is lined perfectly.  I can't remember if I mentioned the tattoos in my earlier post.  They placed several dots (tattoos) around and on my breast to use as guides for the machine.  Anyway, they take x-rays while I am in position as well, almost every day.  There is no feeling during radiation.  I just see a little red light and I hear a sound.  Every time this happens, I pray, "Lord, please place your hand between my lung, heart and the radiation rays.  Please protect my body from the harm in these rays and let the radiation help the cancer that could be left behind."  Once the radiation is complete, the technician comes in and helps me up and I go back to the dressing room and get dressed.  I am then free to go home.  These ladies in the office are so nice.  They really make sure that I feel comfortable.  Every time I walk in the radiation room, they have KLOVE playing on the radio, they greet me by asking about my son who just started college or they ask about my other sons.  They are very personal and friendly.  They really give you a warm welcome.  They make the whole experience calming.

As far as the side effects go, I am only experiencing some sensitivity.  There is no discoloration as of yet.  I bought some Eucerin lotion and apply that after every treatment (when I get home).  Sometimes I apply it a few times during the afternoon.  So far, so good.  :0)

As some may have noticed, I got my hair cut.  When I thought I was going to have to do chemo., I started looking at pixie cuts.  When I found out I wasn't going to need chemo., I decided to go ahead and get the pixie cut anyway.  So I went for it and I love it!
 photo 11902314_10207106628254844_6414623995518869472_n.jpgSo if you are facing Radiation or any cancer treatment, find a positive blog and start reading.  I have researched and followed some cancer stories before I started my treatment, even before surgery, and they have really helped!   Hope my blog has inspired someone out there to keep fighting the fight!  

I'll be blogging more about radiation soon.   Have a great day and be blessed!

God is good ........... all the time!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Oncotype test results in!

My results are in and my percentages weren't as low as I was hoping for but they are good!  Amen!  

The percentage of the cancer coming back is 12-14% without chemo.   Some may think that is low, but I will explain.  That is 1.5 out of 10 chance of it coming back.  I already made my mind up that if my score came back over 10 that I would do chemo. to make sure it is gone and lower chances of recurrence.  However, my Oncologist also told me that if I do the chemo., my chances of recurrence would go down to 9-10%.  So the benefit of chemo. would only gain me 4%.  

To put it in another perspective, I have an 86% of no recurrence. That's a high number!  Woo Hoo!  With chemo., it's 90%. Not much difference.  So I have decided to pass on the chemo. and go forward with the Radiation therapy, then hormone therapy for five years.  I had a wise friend tell me that if this test comes back intermediate, which it did, that the Lord would guide me and give me peace with the right decision.  She is correct.  I am at peace without the chemo.  Putting that toxic med in my body with gaining only 4% benefit, is not worth all the side effects I would put my body through.  

Our minds are a powerful tool.  And if you want a tool to work and be sharp, it must be cared for.  I have been pretty positive through this whole process......because of the Lord, no doubt.  I have to keep that positive mind set to move on.  I can't go through my life wondering if  2018 will be the return of this dreadful disease.  Or will it be 2020?  Nope.  I can't go there.   I won't go there.  

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God told me that day on the swing that he had my back and I was going to be fine.  That's enough for me.

My 2015 - 2016 curriculum choices for 7'th grade are...............

drum roll please...................

Language Arts -  Word Roots, Easy Grammar & EIW (Excellence in Writing)

The Easy Grammar can be found on this link below.  Christian Book Distributors is a great place to find new homeschool curriculum at a great low price! 

History -  History of the World (aBeka)

Science -  Order & Reality (aBeka)

Math -  Life of Fred - Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology

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I haven't decided on an elective yet.  I am thinking sign language. Not sure how much we'll get done with soccer, and possibly karate.

This year was not easy for picking curriculum.  I'm happy with my choice for History and Language Arts however, Science was not easy because with my other two sons (who have graduated) I used Apologia. They were both good readers and like the independent work.  My youngest not so much.  He hates to read and if he had to read a lesson in one of those books, it would take him all day, fighting, kicking and screaming. ;)  But in his defense, he struggles with reading.  So just because Apologia is my favorite science and the best (in my opinion), why make his struggle knowing he will?  I used aBeka years ago and it was ok for the younger years.  So I thought I'd give the science a go at this age (7'th grade).  I can always change right?  ABeka does have reading, but it's an easier read and I can read with him.  

Math wasn't easy either.  We love MUS (MathUSee), however I wanted to try something a bit more fun for him.  I've read about Life of Fred and it had really good reviews.  I personally think it looks corny and immature, but let's face it, I'm not doing it.  My son is 12 and he may like it.  If not, we can go back to MUS knowing it works.  So I may do a review of Life of Fred this fall.  ;)

This is the first year of Word Roots.  I thought this would help with his reading.  Great reviews and looks very easy to understand so he can do it independently.  I wasn't sure where to start so I started from Book 1.  (If you ever question yourself about where to start and they don't offer help with this issue, start from the beginning..... good rule of thumb.) Easy Grammar I have used before.  Love this!  He can do a worksheet or two everyday and get what he needs.  I did see that there isn't any diagramming sentence lessons or practice though.  But I don't think this is an issue because we did cover some of that if younger grades.

So that is where I am at this point.  I do however change up in the middle of the year if needed.  One lesson I have learned is "don't make a child continue using something if it isn't working"!!!  Why torture the child?  If he/she isn't getting the concepts or learning anything, or you are just fighting with them too much during the lessons, it's not worth it so, ditch it (resell or give away).  We changed our math program three times in one year with my other son.  It paid off, we found one that worked and stuck with it from then on.  And just a hint, the more expensive doesn't mean the best!  Every child is different.  Sometimes the free online math programs work just fine. One online FREE math is Khan Academy.  

So good luck in choosing your curricula this year!  Don't sweat it, it's a trial and error.  There are so many choices out there one can get overwhelmed very easily!  What works for one family may not work for another.  Don't compare your children to other children in their grade or age group.  Children in the public school fall behind all the time because they don't get the one on one help they need.  (This isn't the teachers fault necessarily.)  So take a breath, involve your children in the curriculum picks and have fun!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Top 5 must have homeschool items

With this school year creeping up really fast I though I would start blogging about homeschooling again.   So here it goes.......

My Top 5 MUST HAVE homeschool items:
(they are not what you think)

#5   Storage (baskets, drawers, canister, etc.)

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You can never have too much storage.  If I have extra bins/baskets left over, I store them.  Through out the school year we accumulate things and I need a place for them.

#4   Flashcards

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Yep.  Flashcards.  Anything they need to memorize, put it on a flashcard.  I use index cards.  You can buy them in several different colors.  They are great on the go!

#3   Interactive Games

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My son has an HP and there are so many great learning games on there like Sudoku, hangman, etc.  Even the race car games, crossy roads game or the parking games are pretty cool.  I'm not a fan of 'busy work' for the kids.  This is a great alternative.  It helps with eye and hand coordination and great exercise for the brain.

#2   Internet

Internet is a must in my home when it comes to homeschool.  There are so many FREE printable worksheets and helps, it's unreal.  I also use a web site called
to put together my own homeschool planner.

#1   Sleep
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Yep, I said it....sleep.  
My children and I must have a good amount of sleep for a successful homeschool day!  The saying is true in our home that 'if Momma 'aint happy, no body's happy'.  I need my sleep and so do my children.  We are late sleepers compared to many. We don't get up until 8:30am, sometimes 9:00am.  We stay up later as well, but this works for our family.  Whether you are an early riser family or late sleeper, you need to make sure your family gets the correct amount of sleep even if it means taking a nap during the day!

Feel free to leave any comments on what your top 5 homeschool items are!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Oncologist visit post op surgery

So I made it!  Back to the Oncologist after surgery visit.  Things went well and learned something new.  I'm not out of the chemo. woods yet.  
I was cheery, and positive in my thinking that no chemo. would be needed but apparently cancerous tumors create genes while inside our bodies.  I say this next part half jokingly- Please don't judge me.  I knew nothing about cancer until I was diagnosed and I am FAR from any expert for sure!  But I really would like to know where in the world I was when this information was first told to me.  ????   Seriously.  Was I in lala land?  For those that have been in this situation (with cancer), there is so much information given to you at these appointments that it is nearly impossible to remember all of it. So somewhere along the line, my husband and myself, missed that memo about tumors creating genes.  

Anyway, as you know my BRCA1 & BRCA2 tests both came back negative.  So when the Oncologist was talking about 'genes', I associated that with the BRCA's.  After correcting me and explaining this to me, he goes on further to tell me that "we only get one chance at beating this cancer".  Um, ok.  I thought I was beating it.  But apparently these genes stay inside my body after the cancer is removed.  So here I am again, thinking I am out of the chemo. woods on my way to the radiation trail to open fields.  No, I'm not......not yet.

So he ordered something called an Oncotype test.  This test will determine how much the risk of recurrence of this breast cancer.  I read a brochure about this and I was very impressed that our technology has come this far.  (Again, please don't judge.  I really haven't lived on a deserted island somewhere.)  For more info. on this test, click the link below.

The Oncotype test will result in a score.  A low number would mean that chemo. wouldn't benefit due to a low recurrence.  A high number would mean that chemo. would benefit due to high recurrence percentage.  An intermediate would mean the doctor and I must decide if the side effects from the chemo. would out weigh the benefits.  Sigh.  

I am glad that my doctor ordered this test.  He wouldn't have ordered if I said NO chemo. for sure, but what good is going to a doctor if you don't take his advice or take advantage of this research and testing/technology?  I know sometimes doctors don't know what is best.  Trust me, I am one of those who don't go to a doctor or take medicine unless I absolutely need to!  I don't even like taking Tylenol for a headache for goodness sake. However, I DO believe that God gives these men and women wisdom to fight and help cancer patients.  I DO trust God in giving me a clear number from this test.  I DO trust that God will give me a clear treatment plan.  I DO believe that I will know EXACTLY how to go about fighting this terrible diagnosis and I DO trust that God will give MY doctor the wisdom he needs to suggest a treatment plan.  

One other thing is that due to my larger than calculated tumor size, I am now Stage IIa.  Go figure.

Though out this cancer process, I have heard several things such as:  'do natural things, not chemo.' or 'people get cancer because they have sinned'.  Yes, it's true..... I've heard it.  Some people are trying to help with suggestions of natural remedies while others are just spreading the lies from satan himself.  So take the good and throw away the bad.

I hope that blogging this information helps others who are going through this or those who are walking with a loved one through this.  I'm not fond of my cancer story being an open book but I feel the need to share. I have some pretty special ladies in my life who have shared with me and if it wasn't for them I would have never been prepared for all these steps and trials.  I believe God plants 'angels' in our lives to keep our spirits up, give us help, give us hope and to remember to trust in him.  

My next blog will probably be my treatment plan but I would really like to get back into my homeschool blogging with this new homeschool year creeping up so fast.  My middle son has now graduated homeschool and will be off to OVU in one month!  I only have one son (7'th grade) this next school year.  I am looking forward to our time together.

God Bless!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pathology report is in .....

My nurse called today and the good news is ................... NO cancer found in ANY of the lymph nodes that they removed!  Also, NO cancer found in the margin where they removed the tumor!  That means no more surgery and possibly no chemo.! The not-so great news is that the tumor size was thought to be a 1.5 cm, but it was actually 2.1 cm.  That shoots me up to a T2 grade.  The T grades are:  T1 = 0.1 - 2.0   T2= 2.1 - 5cm.  So I am just a smidge into the T2 grade, in my opinion.  

I am really praying that the Oncologist, whom I see next week, doesn't leave the Chemo. decision up to me.  Who chooses to do Chemo right?  Well, I have been told by a very wise woman who has been through this that I need to do what they recommend.  I don't want that decision up to me.  Is that wrong?  I am not a good one to make decisions anyway.  I have a hard time and often second guess myself.  I am going to pray, of course, for wisdom from the Lord to help me in the decision making part.  Honestly, I don't think chemo. would be recommended with the BRCA 1 & BRCA 2 being negative, no cancer in the lymph nodes and no cancer in the margin or found anywhere else.   But the Oncologist takes all kinds of things into consideration such as: my age, % of recurrence, tumor grade, cancer stage, my health, etc.  So I'll know more next week but for now I will REJOICE!

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Surgery Day!

Surgery day is here and as you can see I'm all pumped up ready for surgery.  Ready for my 'on-hold life' to get back on track and this all behind me.  

My mom came with and of course my hubby.  Had our dear friends (pastor and his wife) come up to see me and another dear friend whom I've known for about 21 years.  I've had a lot of prayers on social media.......I am very blessed.

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Surgery went just fine.  The Lumpectomy (partial Mastectomy / breast conservation) & the Lymph Node removal (Axillary Lymph Node Dissection) went really good.  The hospital staff were awesome!  

Something that was a little different than the other surgeries (different hospitals) I've had was that they gave you the 'knock out' med in your IV before they wheeled me back to the OR.  If the past, I have been wheeled into the OR first, then given the med. The med worked very fast and I was out before I even made it into the hallway to the OR.  I like it that way.  I didn't have a chance to get worked up.  :)

Here I am back at home, same day.  Surprisingly a little sore but very little pain.  I was given some pain meds in my IV before I left the hospital and of course got the prescription pain med filled before coming home.   

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But one thing about me is that I HATE to take pain killers.  I was in an auto accident about 5 years ago and was on a popular pain med for 2 weeks.  I had extreme withdraw symptoms for 2 full days after cutting this med out.  I had the jerking, restless legs and arms, shaking, etc.  It was awful! So I don't take them unless I cannot bear the pain.  So even after the IV pain meds wore off, I just had to use Ibuprofen (occasional Tylenol) for the pain just for a few days.  AMEN!  Also, ice packs are my friend.  

The only main issue I have had since the surgery is constipation.  I've tried all kinds of over the counter things, but I found that the combination of Mira-lax, suppositories, and then one Correctol (female laxative) before bed finally got my system moving 3 days after surgery.

I have 2 different incision sites.  One where the doctor removed the cancerous tumor, the other where she removed the lymph nodes. Both are sore, but look very good!  They are clean, healthy with mild bruising around the sites.  

The hospital put me into a surgical bra to come home in. I left this on until I took a shower the 2'nd day home.  I also removed the bandage the 2'nd day after surgery when I took a shower (doctors instructions).  I have been wearing a stretchy bra called the 'genie bra'.  The pads can be removed for a very comfortable, relaxed fit.  For those that have to have this kind of surgery, this bra is very inexpensive at Dollar General.  They also have one that is not named the genie bra, but it is the same bra.  

So all in all the surgery went great.  I should know by the end of this week what pathology found from the tissue taken at surgery.  If more than 2 lymph nodes have cancer, then I'll have to have another surgery to remove the remaining lymph nodes, then have chemo.  If less than 2 (a few) have cancer, then I'll just have to have chemo. and radiation.  If NO cancer is found, then just radiation. No matter what the outcome is, I will be ready.  God still has my back.