Fight like a girl

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Monday, October 5, 2015

I made it!

My calendar is full of X's.

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I finally made it through the 31 radiation treatments.  Honestly, the 6 or so weeks of treatment felt like forever.  I felt the lump in my breast back in Jan. / Feb. and this whole 2015 year has been a total blur.  Needless to say that this 2015 year has totally sucked! Starting out the year with Tim (my husband) having a stroke, at the age of 40, on January 27'th wasn't a great 'bring in the new year' event I expected.  So finding the lump was just a aggrivating find. I finally went into the gyn and had it checked out in April, then in May had testing.  Finally, here it is October 5'th and I can say that I did it!  I am now in remission!  I start Tamoxifen next week for five years.  I am claiming healing and don't intent for this to return.  I will not give any time to the thought!  

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 My youngest son rang the bell for me today.  He was so excited! We celebrated by eating out Mexican food.  

Thank you to all my friends and family for helping, supporting and praying for me during this journey!  I couldn't have done it without your prayers and support!  A new chapter of my life is opening, WITHOUT CANCER in it, and I'm ready!

The paper I am holding in the pic is a scripture, Romans 8:11 that says,  

"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead 

dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the 

dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through 

his Spirit who dwells in you."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Radiation Update

Only 2 more to go!  I'm so happy that I am almost done, however I am physically in pain at this point.  My breast is constantly itching, sore, inflamed, red, swollen and in pain.  I am continuing with the lotions, ointments, ect.  I even started using ice packs on it to cool it down.  The ice packs are the ones with gel in them.  The hospital gave me one after my diagnostic mammogram months ago.  I'm so glad I kept it!

I wanted to show you all what the machine looks like.  So here it is.

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There is a white sheet over the mold that they made for me to lie in for treatments.  This will put me in the same position every time. The mold it self is like a bean bag material and blue.  They place a clean white sheet down each time and then a clean white towel over my chest so only the area for radiation is exposed.  

The huge round thing overhead moves around the body.  It gets extremely close without touching me.  The white square area on the right on the machine and the screen looking square on the left get extremely close as well, but again, do not touch me.  The bed moves closer to the machine, then the technician puts me in place using controls. She is very precise on making sure everything is exact.  This makes me feel very safe.  ;)  The tech then leaves the room and lets me know when it will start using an intercom.  I have to be very still but allowed to breath normal.  The radiation itself doesn't last long.  Then the tech returns and moves the bed and machine back into this position so I can get up.  

Anyway, I wanted to share this with you.  The machine itself looks a bit scary, but once you get in there and settled, I just don't think about anything but getting it over with.  I just listen to the KLOVE radio station they play for me and when that BEAM ON light comes on, I say my prayer of protection and then it's over.  

My skin is starting to get deep red and peel already where they are doing the last 5 treatments (target area where my scar is).  The duration of the radiation seems to be double the length.  I'm not sure if this is correct, this is just how it seems.  The radiation beam is on for a much longer duration during these last treatments.  Long as in, 20 seconds instead of 10?  I would count, but I am concentrating on praying during that time.  My nipple area is still red, swollen and inflamed and the underarm area is starting to heal. Slowly but surely I am healing.

Only 2 more left!  Amen!  God is good ............. all the time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

8 Days of Radiation left ......

I only have 8 days left of Radiation therapy and I have to say that what I am going through was NOT expected.  This past week has really been hard..... a my testimony.  Although I still have STRONG faith, I have lost something.  I have lost my positive attitude.

Sunday in church I had a wonderful friend come back and pray with me (she is also our pastors wife).  She knew I was hurting. Although I couldn't hear her words during that prayer with all going on in church, I felt the holy spirit in her.  I poured my heart out to her telling her that I am just so tired of being positive all the time.  I told her how everyone was watching me and watching to see how I react to this cancer.  She assured me that they were watching, but they were watching to see my faithfullness, which I have never lost. She told me that it was ok to not be positive and it was ok to feel this way.  Just because I was not positive, didn't mean that I lost my faith.  She was (and is) so right!  I do have faith, more than anyone could ever know!  Honestly, at this point, my positive attitude has been trampled to death.

Before you read on, I want to apologize for the picture below.  It is graphic.  There is nothing wrong or sinful with showing this picture, I am covered.  I want you to know that I am not posting this for any other reason than to tell my cancer story.  So if you are offended, I do apologize.

So, I mentioned that I lost my positive attitude.  This is why.  

This is my 23'rd radiation treatment.

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I cannot express the pain, soreness, itchiness and discomfort of wearing clothes at this point.  The word 'sunburn' has a whole new meaning.  But unlike a sunburn, which feels better each day, a radiation burn gets worse after each treatment.  Not just because of the obvious - the getting burned over the current burn...... daily - but because of the powerful radiation rays that continue to burn you weeks after (so I'm told).  So even though I have only 8 treatments to go, I am told I will continue to have these symptoms and burns for a few extra weeks.  If it wasn't for my youngest son still living at home, I'd be topless all day in the house.  A nudist colony never looked so good!  Haha, only kidding!  If I don't make jokes and laugh, I will burst into tears.

The good news is that I only have 3 more treatments to the area that is pealing and raw (under the arm) and around the nipple (not shown of course).  The last 5 treatments will be to the scar area where the cancer was removed.  Those last 5 treatments are more directed to that area so I will have some relief.  I hope.  The dark spots in the picture is where the skin is drying out and dying, and will peal.  Underneath my breast (where the skin touches skin) is raw.  I try to place the 100% cotton T-shirt in there so there is no skin on top of skin.  That helps.  All day I am constantly (every few hours) putting some kind of ointment, aloe gel or lotion on the entire area.  This whole situation makes leaving the house just not worth it.  Just in case some of you are wondering why I've been a hermit.  ;)

For those just starting this radiation process, you MUST get the following things and have them.  

You will need:
Eucerin lotion (moist)
Aloe vera 100% (NO other additives like alcohol, etc.)
Triple Anti-biotic cream with pain reliever

All of these can be found without a prescription at the local store or pharmacy.

Everyone reacts differently and not everyone may have the same amount of treatments.  I had 31 treatments ordered due to my Oncotype score which was 22 and may have to do with the fact I declined chemo.  Your Radiology Oncologist will discuss the number of treatments with you.  You have every right to discuss this number (and ask why) with them.  Please don't feel like you cannot ask questions.  Even the WHY question.  You have every right to know all you can about what kind of treatments and how many.

Yesterday I spoke with my Radiology Oncologist and told her what was going on with my skin.  She told me that if I started experiencing any oozing, she would let me have a few days rest from the treatments.  They do add these on at the end, so you don't get out of them, just postpone them.  I only have one small / tiny blister forming so I am pressing on.

I am not looking for sympathy.  Like I mentioned above, a testimony must have a test and boy, am I being tested!  I could not have gone through all this without my prayer warriors!  You know who they are.  ;)  I have some amazing family and friends who really pray for me daily.  Thank you!  I needed them and STILL need them!

I do still have my strong faith.  My God has blessed me!  I did not have to go through chemo. and this cancer was caught early.  I am very blessed.  I have almost beat this cancer!   Next Friday (if all goes as planned) I will be ringing that bell and I will be that OVERCOMER that God claimed me to be!

Friday, September 18, 2015

21 Radiation treatments down, 10 more to go.

So I only have 10 more radiation treatments to go.  I wanted to keep you updated on what is going on and how I'm feeling.

I am exhausted.  One of the side effects is being tired.  Well, week three came and I felt it.  I can come home after radiation and take a nap and still feel like I haven't slept in days.  Mentally, I'm not tired.  It's my body.  I am also experiencing radiation burn.  It's like a bad sunburn.  

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(I'm going to be graphic here for a minute because this blog is for information and connection for those who are going through this or know someone who is so they can understand what they are going through.)  The area having radiation is itchy, very sore, red and swollen.  Of course this is over then entire breast and a small portion below the breast.  My nipple is VERY sensitive, sore, swollen, red and getting to the point where wearing a bra is very uncomfortable.   Thank God for stretchy tanks and cotton T-shirts. This picture actually looks really good than it does in person.  It seems to get worse as the day progresses.  Since today is Friday, I have 2 days of rest from radiation before Monday comes again.  By Monday, it'll be feeling a little better, then I get to start all over.  :(   Nothing I can't handle though.  But some days it does take it's toll on me; like today. Today was the first day I was extremely tired while driving. I have one hour drive to the radiation treatment center daily.  So I'm in the car 2 + hours, when the radiation only takes 10 minutes.  I've had several people offer to take me, I may take them up on that offer.  My hubby is off on Monday & Tuesdays right now so he takes me on those days, which is nice. 

Ok, back to the radiation experience.....every time that radiation beam starts and that red light comes on, I pray...  

"Lord, please place your hand between my lung, heart, skin and the radiation beams.  Protect my organs and skin.  Please don't allow blistering or breaking open.  Thank you Lord Jesus for healing me and protecting me".

My daily routine is as follows: 
When I get up, after my coffee of course, I shower to get all the lotions off my breast for radiation.  (I use a natural / pure soap with no dyes or scents.)  I cannot put deodorant or anything on before my radiation.  I eat a light breakfast.  I don't drink much due to the drive I have.  I don't want to have to stop to go pee.  ;)  Then after radiation is finished, while still in the dressing room, I put deodorant on and put a thick layer of Eucerin lotion over the radiation area.  (For the radiation, I must wear a top, kind of like a scrub top, so I have to undress from the waist up.)  When I get home I make a plant based protein shake (meal replacement) called PHOOD.  It has gluten free, soy free, no animal products, no dairy, etc.  It has 18 grams of protein in it with < 1 gram of sugar.  I add almond milk, a banana or fruit to it.  I also add a teaspoon of local raw honey with 2 teaspoons of flax seeds and some ice to get it cold.  

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I buy this on Amazon.  (Note:  I am not getting paid for advertising this.  I am just sharing what I am taking during my breast cancer treatment and experience.)  I also take 4000 iu of VD3, 500 ml of VitC & 5000 mcg of Biotin, all orally.

It is important that you do let your Radiology Oncologist know what you are taking, if anything.  Some medications effect radiation.

After I drink that, I try to rest for a few hours.  I also try to drink lots of water in the afternoon and evening since I don't get much down in the mornings.  I know my body, and I will start getting headaches if I get dehydrated.  I usually drink a water bottle on my way home from my treatment.

When people ask me how I am holding up or how I am doing, I don't like to complain.  There are so many people with ports in their chests going through chemo. right now, those who have a later stage of cancer than I, and some that are in worse shape.  So I feel guilty about complaining really.  I am blessed.  God has blessed me by healing my body.  He is still healing and he is still my protector. 

I hope this blog has helped you or someone else in some way.  I am getting closer to the end of my journey. 

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Only 10 more treatments to go!  Amen!  

God is good, yes, all the time.

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!