Monday, May 31, 2010

Graduation 2010

I sometimes feel like certain people come into our lives for a reason. I have been feeling a little down and out, trying to make some decisions about surgeries and other treatments I have coming up. Haleigh had her graduation last Thursday night from Highland High School, we walked in about 10 minutes before it started and there were not too many seats available to sit in. We looked around at the thousands of people who were in attendance and knew we had better get a seat and get one fast or we would not be getting one. As I scanned the bleachers I asked a man 3 rows up if the seats behind him were taken, he turned around and asked and the people said no so we made our way to our seat. What a perfect view of the stage we had, the sun was piercing down on us, I had no idea that it was so hot outside (since I rarely stay outside) once the sun went down it was so beautiful and cool. The woman sitting next to me said "it's really hot isn't it?" I responded with a definite "Yes" she asked if I had cancer I confirmed and she asked what type of cancer I have "breast" I said. From looking at her I could tell she was wearing a wig, she was probably in her 70's. She looked at me and said "I have cancer too, I have ovarian cancer the worst of all cancers, I had chemo lost all my hair and was very sick then 18 months later it came back in my stomach so now I am going through chemo again" I looked at her and said "I am so sorry to hear that what is your prognosis?" she then said something to me that I really do believe is true she said "my prognosis is whatever God wants it to be, he is in charge and we can't change that, so I just live my life and take each day as if it is my last" She said that her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time she was diagnosed and her cancer came back also 18 months later in her ovaries, so they are both going through chemo together again. She was a lovely lady, seemed to be a concerned mother and supportive grandmother, she was a woman that people knew and loved and now she is in my life. We exchanged emails, she lives in Florida. She told me she would pray for me, I know she will and I for her along with all the other names of people I have come in contact with since I was diagnosed. How glad I am that of thousands of people I could of sat next to in those bleachers it was Caroline on that day at that moment who helped me to answer some questions to prayers that I thought were not being answered.
On the way home that night I asked Eric "do you believe people come into our lives or make an impression on our lives for a reason?" he said to me "what do you mean?" I told him about my new friend Caroline. We had a good conversation about how the Lord blesses us with people in our lives sometimes to help us make decisions about things we are unsure of, maybe they are put in our path to help us get answers to prayers. I will never forget Caroline, she made a lasting impression on me.
Watching my baby graduate from High School was kind of heart wrenching for me, we will never have another child in High School again. I feel like this senior year for her was a blur to me, how sad that she had to watch her mother go through VILLAIN treatments her last year of HS. I hope that will not be her memory of her senior year. She is a light in our lives, I could not of asked for a more supportive child and although she has been quiet about the VILLAIN that rages inside of her mother she is strong and obedient always making good decisions, that in itself made it so much easier to endure knowing I would not have to worry about her choosing bad friends or being tempted by things of the world. Every mother and father should experience a child like Haleigh.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What a Day !!!

I've had some funny and interesting things happen to me this week. At one point my hair (or lack of) was completely consuming my thoughts and difficult for me to get past, anymore I don't think about it too much. Yesterday I was looking in the mirror and thinking I needed a little color on my body, I know I can't lay in the sun (at least from the chest up) and I don't want to lay in the sun. I have some bronzing lotions that I use sometimes but they are so much maintenance, so I made up my mind that I was going to go get a spray tan, after all as women we all need a little "pick me up" once in awhile. The hot flashes are getting worse, the fatigue and insomnia is not any better maybe doing something for myself will help me feel a little better. First I needed to go grocery shopping, tomorrow is Sunday and I didn't have anything for dinner yet, so off to Walmart I went with my list in hand. On the way into the store I noticed this lady with a huge bouffant hair do thing going on.... on the top of her head, it took me back to the early 70's I remember my mom had hair like that, I immediately thought, how nice that she feels comfortable enough to go out into public. She then disappeared from my sight into the east entrance while I went into the west entrance. I was busy going up and down the aisles getting the ingredients I needed, I looked up as I was putting some diced green chilies in the cart to see the bouffant lady walking straight towards me, I had this feeling she was going to say something to me, yep sure enough hear she comes
Lady: "whoever does your hair does not do a very good job"
then she pulls out a business card and hands it to me
Lady: "Hear is the business card of the lady that does my hair"
I'm thinking seriously? She has got to be kidding me, uh no such luck she was totally serious.. I started to laugh then said
Me: "Um, I have cancer, I didn't cut my hair this way"
then in a very sarcastic voice, as if to say I was the one being rude she says
Lady: "OH...., WELL I Didn't KNOW"
and she walked off with her beehive hair do and her nose in the air.... very, very funny I could not stop laughing at the irony.
That's what I get for judging her hair in the parking lot, I would of never said anything to her but still I did think about her hair and wondered if she had been introduced to the 2000's. Who knows maybe that style is coming back, what do I know? I may have just passed on an incredible opportunity to have my hair done by the latest and most fashionable hairdresser. Styles of clothes are always coming in and out, maybe hair fashion is too.
I left Walmart thinking about getting my spray tan and hoping I would have enough energy after all I needed to do today. Haleigh called and asked me to get her SUBWAY on my way home, when I walked into SUBWAY the lady behind the counter was very exuberantly expressing how much she loved my hair
SUB GIRL: " OH MY GOODNESS, I love your hair"
ME: "Thank you, I appreciate you saying that"
SUB GIRL: "Are you attracted to females?"
at this point I'm thinking this is not going to end well for me I just know it...huge gulp and lump in the throat
ME: "Um, no not really"
SUB GIRL: "That's too bad, you would be a huge turn on at the club I go to, I was going to ask you to go with me tonight"
OK this girl is so excited and smiley I can't help but smile too, I'm just thinking Heavenly Father get me out of this and I promise I will never go in public again, well at least until my hair grows out. ha ha
ME: "Sorry" are you kidding me Monya? that's it? all you could say was sorry? Really at this point I just want to get in my car and get home.
SUB GIRL: "Here let me help you to your car, are you sure you won't reconsider going out tonight?"
I'm wondering does SUBWAY employees usually walk their customers to the car? WOW that was uncomfortable.
This is the 3rd time I have been "hit on" by a women since my hair loss. I guess I'm attractive to the females who like females.
Not sure I will take any comfort in that, but it has really been funny to come home and tell Eric about it. He got a good laugh out of it last night. I love that we have been blessed with the ability to laugh right now.
After this very eventful and entertaining day, I decided it was time for my spray tan. I was so nervous I have never done anything Like this before and I was afraid I would come out looking like a big PUMPKIN.... then I thought who cares it can't really get any worse, and besides I've decided since we never know what turn our lives will take I am going to take risks and do things I always wanted to do but was too afraid to try. I did it and I got some color, and I might even do it again someday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

19 years clean

Tonight I was in between classes at the gym, and woman who was in my 1st class came up to me and introduced herself as Kim. She said she wanted me to know she had been watching me the past few weeks and wanted to say something to me but was not sure what. She said "my heart goes out to you every time I see you, I am a breast cancer survivor too, and I had the same hairdo as you have" and we both laughed. I asked her how many years it has been ..... her response was "19 years" she had stage 1 ductile carcinoma and they caught it early. I love to hear those stories, I realize that my VILLAIN was far more advanced and aggressive but it gives me hope that I will be around for a long time.
I am not quite where I was endurance wise a year ago but I can actually feel my muscles getting stronger, exercise is incredibly therapeutic for me. There have been a few times during working out that I have broke down and cried, how can I ever explain to anyone how it feels to be alive and be able to do what I love? Those tears are tears of joy that only I can understand.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Life Goes On

For a couple of weeks now I have been experiencing HOT FLASHES, seriously? It's so annoying, at first I thought it was just because our house was warm and I needed to turn the air down, that's not it. I think I could be living in an Igloo in a snow storm and the flashes would still come. Doctor Northfelt said that the chemo sometimes throws women into menopause, or it kills your ovaries temporarily and makes your body think you are in menopause, then all of a sudden a few months down the road they start producing estrogen again. Chemo does some strange things to bodies, both of my big toes went black after I finished chemo, I was talking to some other women and they all said they experienced the same thing. Insomnia is another side effect to chemo and radiation, I have a hard time sleeping, well actually I have a hard time staying asleep my mind wonders. The skin around the 6 areas they radiated is so dry and red, also I am still experiencing fatigue and exhaustion. I'm not complaining I really just want to journal everything that is happening so I will never forget. Speaking of forgetting, I was in my spinning class the other day and realized that there is not a minute of the day that goes by that I don't think about the VILLAIN, I'm hoping that I never forget but that I will be able to function eventually without it consuming my every thought. It's a scary thing, probably one of the scariest health diagnosis a women could get. Until my diagnosis I never thought about the VILLAIN, I was more worried about Eric and his health, always thinking that I need to eat healthy and exercise so if something happens to him I will be here for my kids. I never, ever imagined the VILLAIN would be a part of my life. Now when I think about it, I think why not me? One in 8 women will receive the same diagnosis that I did. Life goes on, every life is important and the experiences we have in life is what makes us who we are.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last Day Of Radiation

I finished radiation, it was so hard to say good-bye to the staff in the radiation department. I have never met people who are more compassionate and kind, what a wonderful experience it has been to know that 5 days a week for 6 weeks I knew I was going to be greeted by people who genuinely care and understand. This staff treated me more like a friend than a patient, I loved them all.
There is something not right about radiation though, I'm not quite sure how it works, meaning that when I go into the room and they get me all situated they leave the room and shut the huge metal door so they don't get radiated... huh? how can that be good for your body? kinda weird how it works. I'm sure if they had a special light to check the levels of radiation in your body mine would like up like a christmas tree. At Mayo they call us the GLOW club... seriously??
My skin is so sunburned, well actually radiation burned ha ha.... I thought I would make it through without getting burned... what was I thinking? Under my arm where the lymph nodes were radiated feels like I have a 2nd degree burn and my breast is also burned and swollen. The last 2 weeks it has gotten worse, the swelling is weird ... when I put my arm down I can feel my breast on my arm..... ladies if you have no boobs and you thought you wanted melons .... you don't, I'm still not sure why Heidi Montag would want to change her cute body, I heard her say on a 20/20 episode that she wants to now go from a F cup to a G cup..... ewww that makes me sick .... I don't think any of us realize how much we take for granted.
On the last day of radiation Patients are encouraged to ring the bell so everyone knows it is your last day, and I did, I rang is loud and long.
Ringing The Bell

Saying Goodbye was Hard I will miss them

Ready For Radiation

Radiation/Oncology Building

Mayo Clinic Scottsdale Campus
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ditch the Hats

I remember saying once (long before I knew I had the VILLAIN) "I would never wear a wig if I ever got cancer" After my diagnosis knowing that soon chemo would start and I would lose my hair, I talked with Eric about it. He really wanted me to get a wig, so off to the wig store I went (after all the insurance company was paying for it) This is the conversation between Eric and I
Eric: " I really think you should get a wig"
Me: "No way, why?"
Eric: " well I think it would be fun to have a brunette or redhead for a wife, and think about how much fun we could have walking through the mall or at a restaurant, someone sees me with a redhead or brunette, instantly text messages you to let you know I am cheating on you"
Me: "ha ha, OK as fun as that sounds, 1st off I don't think brunettes or redheads are better than blonde's , and 2ND off if someone we knew saw you with another woman I doubt that their first inclination would be to text me, but I'm glad you think you could get caught so easily"
Eric: "I'm just kidding, you are the love of my life"
Me:"good answer, but I am not wearing a wig"

I did end up getting a wig $700.00 later, (totally covered by insurance) it has hung on a Styrofoam head in my room for 9 months now. It's kinda scary when you walk in the room and see it. Oh well, maybe someday I will put it on and wear it for Eric, however it is the same color of my original hair, so nothing exciting.
So I finally ditched the hats, I have to admit it was a little bit harder than I thought it would be. I think if I hear one more person say "at least you have the perfect shaped head" I'm going to throw up. I know, everyone know I look weird and funny right now but it's getting so hot and the hats make my head sweat. Going out in public without the protection of my hats is hard....but I'm getting used to all the stares I get ha ha
I know I'm scary looking to little children, it's kinda funny to see their reactions, they are staring so hard they run into things, and then I've heard a few say to their parents "mom, why is that lady bald?" a lot of adults pass me in the store with slight glances trying to act like nothing is wrong or different, as if to say "if I don't look at her then she doesn't exist" ha ha HELLO
I do exist and I do have feelings ..... I love the people who smile at me and say "you look beautiful" it means they recognize that I'm going through treatment. When people who come up and hug me and tell me they have been through it or someone they know has been through it I love it. It's comforting to me to have people ask what type of VILLAIN I have or how long I have been in treatment, it shows that they care and that they see me. My favorite is a lady who walked up to me and said
"did you do your hair like that on purpose?" I was so shocked I said back to her "why, does this shirt make me look bald?"
(I had on a relay for life shirt) ha ha all I can do is laugh, it is funny you know it is, its ok to laugh. I make fun of myself all the time, maybe its my way of coping but it does help.
I'm sad to say goodbye to all of my hats, but happy about the prospect of new hair and a new life. These pictures are for me to remember the hats that gave me some comfort on the days when I needed it to go out in public, my friend made all the rosettes for me I had so many to choose from everyday thanks Amy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Anti Cancer

I had an appointment with Dr. Northfelt (my oncologist) he walked in and rubbed the top of my head, I looked up at him and he had a huge smile on his face then said "looks good, I like the new hair"
He wanted to see me this week and explain about the next step in my treatments. It's hormone therapy, estrogen treatment. Since he is not sure if I am pre-menopausal or post menopausal it is hard to determine how to proceed. He said sometimes chemo therapy will put a woman into menopause, kill the ovaries. He is running some blood tests to check, it's some type of genetics testing, completely different than the genetics testing I had when I was 1st diagnosed. We will know in 10 days. I asked him when he is going to tell me I am VILLAIN free.... unfortunately, he said for Breast Cancer patients doctors cannot tell a patient that they are VILLAIN free, he said he would feel good about telling me that when I am seeing him in his office in 30 years. He explained to me that when I had my mastectomy it would be nice for doctors to be able to say the VILLAIN is gone since they removed my breasts, however if that were the case then he would of not ordered for me to have chemo and radiation, he said I would never put you through that if I truly thought the VILLAIN was gone from your body.
I believe I'm VILLAIN free but he will not say it. I came home and did some research on-line about remission and breast cancer, everything I found says Dr. Northfelt is right, I may have some cancer cells in my body that will show up later, but until and if that happens I am going to live a healthy happy life, not being restricted to constantly thinking about the VILLAIN.
Before he left the room he gave me a big hug and told me to keep fighting. He gave me the name of a book that he thinks I should read, I ordered it on Amazon today. It's written by a doctors who has had cancer twice. I'm excited to read it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Weekend

WOW it's been awhile since I've blogged, my Internet has not allowed me to get on ..... So here is the update: Eric, Haleigh and I left on Friday after my radiation appointment to visit with Kaitlyn and Brian in Utah. Their house is so cute and totally reflects her personality. On Saturday morning we went to the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City where the Susan G. Koman VILLAIN walk started and ended. The entire Wright family including spouses walked, with the exception of one of Brian's sisters Tori. Jamie Patterson, Kelsie Webster, Emily Brinton and Willi Nixon all walked with us too. There were over 20,000 people walking/running. I am not quite up to running yet but I was proud of myself for being able to walk the entire 5k. It was an overwhelming sight to look up the road and witness a sea of white and pink VILLAIN shirts. I loved being able to catch up with all of those girls, you know get the scoop on who's dating who and all, they are all so cute and I love them for supporting such a great cause. I also really enjoyed talking with Brian's family, they are such a great family, always supportive and kind. When the race ended they had all the survivors (who were wearing PINK) parade in together and stand on the steps for a tribute and picture. It was amazing to look around and see pink shirts surrounding me, knowing each one of these women have a story, they each are part of this world I live in. They truly do understand and the tears are real as they run down our cheeks.
I was searching the crowd for Eric, my eyes connected with his, he was crying, this was touching him in a different way then it touched me. The world that he lives in as a care-giver is a different world than even I understand, and those around him could understand his tears because as I looked out in the crowd many were crying, they were shedding tears not only for someone they know who has survived the VILLAIN but for themselves having been the one who desperately stood by watching their loved one go through pain that they cannot fix. It hit me that Eric is a fixer, he wants me to be happy and always has wanted to protect me and fix what is wrong .... this VILLAIN he could not fix, how hard that must be on him.
What a great couple of days we had with Kaitlyn, Brian and his family. We got on a flight early Sunday morning so we could talk to Blake on Mother's Day. It was so nice to hear his voice and know he is doing well and enjoying his mission. I think he was happy to talk to us too. The language is really coming along for him and he likes his companion a lot. I told him to not worry about me I am doing so good and the Lord is truly blessing us because of his service. This was such a good weekend for me, thank you to all my children who make me want to be a better person, who constantly surprise me with their strength and unconditional love. I Love You!!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

B-is for Brady B-Strong

One of the positive things that has come out of my diagnosis with the VILLAIN is the opportunity to meet some of the strongest, bravest people I know. Every time I go to the MAYO, the grocery store or MALL I am blessed to meet people who will forever stay in my prayers and in my heart. Last week, at a pizza shop in Tempe, Eric and I met a man who I have been thinking about everyday since. He noticed that we had a relay for life sticker in our car and that I was bald, he approached Eric and asked about my VILLAIN, as he and Eric talked I was in the distance and could tell they were talking about me. The man introduced himself and immediately started to cry, I hugged him and he told me of his 2 year old son who was diagnosed with a rare VILLAIN at age 3 months. He told me that Brady is the youngest to ever be diagnosed and what a struggle it has been as a parent to watch his child go through the agony he has had to endure over the past 2 years. Brady has been put under over 80 times in his short life. He has a breathing tube through his nose, he does not know what it is like to run outside and play, he will never be able to do the normal things in life that we all take for granted. My heart ached for this man, both Eric and I got emotional and cried as he spoke. It's a lot easier to handle when adults are diagnosed, a child that young does not understand what is happening to them, for Brady this is his life, he has never known anything different. The man took a bracelet off his arm and gave it to me, it said on it B-is for Brady B-Strong!!
Thinking about Brady this week, made me think about the Savior and the agony and suffering he went through in the Garden of Gethsemane. His Father had to watch HIS son go through the worse pain any person has ever had to endure, and Heavenly Father could of taken it all away and stopped it at any time but he didn't because it was all part of the plan. I'm sure that the FATHER suffered along with HIS son knowing the pain he was going through.
As we go through our trials I'm sure that Heavenly Father looks down on us all and wants to take away the pain, he feels our anguish, and he has the power to take it all away but he doesn't because this too is part of his plan. How we endure, who we become through our trials is all part of HIS plan.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Curing Cancer, Dancer by Dancer

Through the last 4 weeks of radiation one of the thoughts that has kept me from going crazy is that I knew Kaitlyn was coming to visit this weekend. Haleigh had her final dance recital at Highland High on Thursday and Friday night and Kaitlyn wanted to be here for it. When I picked up Kaitlyn from the airport she got in the front seat then suddenly the back door opened and it was Brian, they surprised us all with him coming. What a wonderful end to a long week. We had the most relaxing weekend, I'm sad now that they're gone. I miss Kaitlyn and Brian so much and look forward to the day when they will move back to Arizona.
Friday night not only was I on cloud nine having Kaitlyn and Brian in town I was happily surprised when I went to the school dance recital. Haleigh is a senior this year and is also the President of One Image (the dance team) at Highland. She has been working so hard on the recital, we had no idea exactly what she was working on until we got settled in our seats and the program began. The theme this year was Curing Cancer, Dancer by Dancer. Haleigh wanted us to be surprised, so she didn't tell us anything about the recital. It was such an emotional night for both Eric and I. Haleigh dedicated one of her dances to me and called it Monya's Song she danced to the song that is playing on my blog . She told me later that she hand picked all the girls that danced with her and that she knew I loved all those girls, she knew they would dance like it was their last dance, and they did it was beautiful. Eric and I were touched by her spirit, this is her senior year and she has had to deal with her mom having the VILLAIN the entire year, never complaining. I could tell that this journey of ours has really effected her. This is what she wrote in the program as a dedication to me:

This dance is dedicated to my mom who was diagnosed last year with breast cancer. She is the strongest person I've ever met and I look up to her so much. Thank you for being the best mom in the world, I love you.

It was overwhelming to see her with such courage and strength as she cried while she danced. She is not a huge emotional person, in fact I have seen her be so quiet during the last year, I have been worried that she was not processing anything that was happening. I was wrong she was, she just wanted to be strong for me. It's amazing to me the love families can have for each other, the support my children give to one another. I thought it was so sweet for Kaitlyn and Brian to fly down from Utah just to see Haleigh dance one last time. Kayla, Jeremy and Recker were there, my good friend Jenny her daughter and husband Ashley and Scott Petty and Jamie Patterson all sat with us supporting Hales, the only thing better would of been to have Blake there too. I truly am blessed to have wonderful children, not perfect but wonderful, I am also blessed to have friends who are beautiful inside and out and who support me through the good and bad I love you and you know who you are, thank you!!!