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Living With Cancer

Living With Cancer

I became  inspired to write this since many people have asked me questions about my experience with breast cancer. I thought it would be a good idea to openly share what it has been like for me. I must admit, in the beginning I was a little naïve about the path set before me. I underestimated what this journey would cost. Let me be transparent in saying that the past 2 months have been some of the greatest but most challenging months of my life. I’ll speak on both later. Clearly finding out that I might have cancer did not make me feel like I won the lotto or some golden pot of rainbows.  As one could imagine, I felt the complete opposite. It’s almost like I felt betrayed by my own body. Once everything was confirmed I then had 101 questions racing through my mind. For example, “Why me? Has it spread somewhere else in my body? What stage am I? What does that even mean? How will this affect my husband? How will I tell my kids? What about my family? What will other people think? Can I still have a normal life? How sick am I going to get? Will my hair fall out?” these are just to name a few. There’s nothing more surreal than having to look mortality in the face. It’s jarring because you don’t see life the same and never will.

I’m the kind of girl that always tries to see the cup half full, but even for me, this was a huge pill to swallow. My emotions ranged from shock to devastation. I am now approaching my third chemo treatment. Even now, there are still times that I can’t believe that I have cancer! The side effects from chemo alone are enough to drive someone crazy. I have experienced nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, migraines, tingling in my hands and scalp, hair loss, dry mouth, light sensitivity, and fatigue. I have to take countless medications to try to stop the side effects, but each medication comes with its own list of side effects as well lol. While all this is taking place in the background I still had to worry about work, medical leave, figuring out insurance, and managing a household with kids. I’m doing this while trying to recover from my last treatment so that I can become strong enough to face this beast called chemo again.

Now, let’s look at the bright side. What gets me through is confirmation that my chemo is actually working! The oncologist has confirmed that my lump has decreased in size! I have also been able to connect with so many new people and organizations. God has allowed me to cross paths with people that I know will now be in my life forever. I’ve also learned just how loved my family and I are. We have received so many messages, prayers, cards, stylish breast cancer socks, breast cancer jewelry, inspiration boxes, chemo snacks, food, household items, gifts for the kids, and gift cards. The list could go on. My co- workers even set up a weekly “meals on wheels” for our family. Seeing the way the others have extended themselves to bless us has honestly humbled me. It makes myself and my family very appreciative to see how cherished we are.

My husband created an online care calendar that he named, “The Healed Family” (clever right?). With this app our close loved ones can go on line and help us with certain things that we have a need for. A few examples would be taking me to a doctor’s appointment or picking up the kids from daycare. Let me just pause right here and say that a care calendar is a brilliant idea. I’m realizing that a lot of people want to help us, but may not know how. So I’ve found it best to just be vocal about what my family’s needs are.  Now our loved ones do not have to question what we need or wonder what a priority is for us.

Speaking of my husband earlier, I have learned what TRUE unconditional love looks like in its purest form. From sitting on the floor letting me cry on his lap, to numerous appointments, to reminding me to take my various medications, to taking care of the kids, to running last minute errands, to shaving my hair after  it started falling out in clumps…. I mean the amount of stress and sacrifice is insane. It makes me conscious that cancer does not just affect me, but my entire family. If you have a spouse or caretakers remember that this is hard for them too. They need an outlet from time to time.  I don’t even know how I would handle things if the shoe were on the other foot. He does it so effortlessly and never lets me think the worse. He has been beyond supportive, prayerful, and positive since the very first day I even noticed there was a lump. I am forever grateful to him. In spite of this mountain before us our marriage is actually stronger than it’s ever been!

Spiritually I have learned to focus on God and to trust him with my entire life…. Literally! On my weak days he is my strength, when I am sick from side effects He allows my body to heal, and somehow even through the midst of turmoil and chaos I can still feel the warm embrace of his peace, love, and hope! Through this ordeal God has shown me what is really important in life. I am interested to see how our relationship will continue to grow and where this faith walk will take me.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. I can remember when my mom would make us read and recite this scripture from an early age. Seeing how much I rely on it now makes things come back full circle. It reminds me that hope combined with faith makes you unstoppable.

I’m realizing more and more that life with cancer is a daily journey. Feelings change, my body is changing, my life has changed, let’s just say EVERYTHING has changed lol! Yes, there are some days that knock me down and I feel like cancer won the battle, but I know it won’t win the war! Falling down will always be a part of life, but getting back up is how you win! Every time I make it through a long day or a dark night I feel like I’ve earned another diamond to add to the tiara that represents my journey. Somehow I muster the strength to get back up again, put my tiara back on, and continue to walk in faith while protecting my hope!

Until next time….. Ciao Bella!

Micky

Overcoming Obstacles: Turn Your Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones

Overcoming Obstacles: Turn Your Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones

This topic was on my heart today. Obviously, my current challenge is overcoming my battle with breast cancer. I am confident that the victory is already mine, but I am sensitive to the fact that there are others in the world trying to overcome obstacles as well. No matter how great or how small the problem may seem you already have the strength within you to overcome it! I am going to give you three sure fire ways to increase your faith and realize the power within! 1.) Prayer and Meditation This is a great way to quiet the outside noise around you and connect with your inner thoughts and emotions. As a working wife and mom I barely have time to myself. Some days it feels there are not enough hours in the day. This is why it is so important to make time for you! There is no way you can be good for anyone else if you are run down and burned out. You must have goals and be self-assured of what direction you are headed in! The only way to accomplish this is to find quiet time and pray and ask for direction. Even if you can only afford 10 minutes a day; it will be worth it. Try it and see! You will feel much more confident and centered! 2.) Speak into your life I started achieving this years ago. I decided that anything I wanted to see come into fruition that I would start to speak life into it. Meaning everyday whatever goal I wanted to accomplish for my home, job, marriage, or family that I would express it verbally….. OUT LOUD. I promised myself that I would not stop speaking whatever it was until I saw it manifested in my life. I did this when I spoke over my job, my marriage, when we bought our first home, and even when I wanted to get pregnant with our sweet baby girl! These are just a few of many examples. Realizing that you have the power to speak change into your life is a powerful tool to manifest your dreams! 3.) Don’t Settle for Less! Adversity comes to build character and strength. If things do not work out exactly as planned know that it’s not the end. When faced with a road block there is always a detour, but you must keep going! I want you to realize that you deserve to have everything you want in life. Watch the company you keep. Surround yourself with supportive people who appreciate you and want to see you succeed. Create healthy relationships and boundaries for yourself. Rid yourself of any toxic behaviors. This could include poor eating habits, making excuse, minimizing your value, and a biggie….not realizing your true potential. You, my friend, are worth far more than any rubies or diamonds. Know your worth! Only you can take responsibility of your life. It is up to you to make a decision to get up every day and walk in the realness of hope and the authenticity of faith! Trust me if a girl like me can do it knowing what she’s up against then I believe you can too. How do I know this? I know, because there is no one on this earth like you! You possess an individual God given uniqueness that can’t be bought, compared, or compete with anyone else. That’s the awesome part of it all. Only you can fulfill what you were born to do! I want you to take charge of your mind today. From this point forward refuse to entertain any negative thoughts including fear! Remember you attract what you believe! Until next time…. Ciao Bella, Micky

BONE SCAN CT SCAN and MRI’s, OH MY!!!!!!

BONE SCAN CT SCAN and MRI’s, OH MY!!!!!!

I was diagnosed with breast cancer via confirmed biopsy results. It was at this time my doctor decided it would be best to have additional tests to make sure the cancer had not spread anywhere else. This is when she ordered at CT scan, a Bone Scan, and a MRI. Even though I work in the medical field, I have never had to undergo any of these tests personally. The thought of all these huge machines and little ole me became nerve wracking! Prior to the tests I had some anxiety. Once the tests were over I thought, “I did it!” and “This wasn’t as bad as I thought!” After conquering my fears I thought it would be helpful to go over a few pointers. My hopes are to help someone else out there that is experiencing testing anxiety. Let’s get started! BONE SCAN: A nuclear imaging test that is helpful in determining if cancer has spread to the bone. The test uses a radioactive substance called a tracer that is absorbed by the bones. Cancer can be indicated by how much tracer shows up on the images. I was injected with a tracer called Tc99m MDP (Technetium 99m- methyl diphosphonate). It was given to me intravenously. Be prepared to get an IV (intravenous therapy). I was told the wait could be anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours depending on the circumstance. My wait was about 3 hours. The test itself took about 30-40 minutes. MRI: This stands for “Magnetic Resonance Imaging.” This is a straightforward test that provides detailed images of the organs inside the body. A strong Magnetic field is used to create pictures of your body’s tissues and organs. I was injected via IV with a contrast that helps the images show up better. There is a radiographer available in a room close to you while the test is going on. The MRI machine is very loud so be sure to request headphones or music if your treatment center has them available. Also, be cautious if you are claustrophobic. You will be positioned inside the machine face down. There is not a lot of space. Be sure to signal the radiographer if you start to feel uncomfortable. I was given a button to push in case I needed assistance. The test can last anywhere from 15-45 minutes. My MRI lasted approximately 45 minutes. Also make sure to notify your hospital if you have any implanted medical devices that contain metal prior to you appointment as they could potentially interfere with you test results. CT SCAN: Also known as “Computerized Axial or Computed Tomography Imaging.” This particular test has the ability to show abnormities in the body such as tumors or irregular blood vessels. The machine takes multiple X- ray images from different angles and uses a computer to create cross sectional pictures. CT scans provide much more detailed information then regular X rays. I was given a beverage called READI- CAT 2 (Barium Sulfate Oral Suspension) to drink an hour prior to my Scan. It comes in a smoothie like form and it is “berry” flavored. You’re not to drink it cold. The purpose of the drink was to coat the lining of my stomach. I was also given another contrast intravenously. This contrast was different then the MRI contrast. It makes you feel warm all over as it enters your body. Once the contrast reaches your pelvis/abdomen area you may feel a sensation like you are urinating on yourself (trust me you’re not really “peeing” on yourself. It just feels that way!). The scan itself takes less than 30 seconds. It was the shortest of the 3 tests! All of the tests were painless (minus the IV’s). My advice to you is to relax and think of these as another step in your journey to becoming breast cancer free! These tests will give your doctors and care team more information on how to treat your cancer and possibly what stage you are. Don’t have anxiety because although it may seem like a lot happening at once you can totally get through it! Just for the record, all my scans came back cancer free, thank God! I have a video on this same topic in which I talk about my experience in great detail. Check it out when you have time. Please, share your story or any other tips you may have on test taking in the comments below. Until next time! For additional information on these tests you can visit www.cancercenter.com Ciao Bella! Micky