Tuesday, August 7, 2012

So True, Mr. Jobs

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." -- Steve Jobs

Monday, May 21, 2012

We're Good!

All is well!!!  Seriously, how inconsiderate of me.  I am so lucky that I have people who care and who want to kick my butt for not posting an update of my recovery.  Well, let the inconsiderateness continue.  I am far too tired to blog big, but know this.  My boobs look a world better, can you say cleavage?, I'm off the insane percocet and valium cocktail- wowza, my lipo bruises are huge and black but don't hurt much, and I'm down to just one sneaky cat nap a day while my kids watch PBS, drink chocolate milk and eat buttered popcorn on the couch.  

I see my new plastic surgeon for my second post surgery check up tomorrow (Tuesday) and it will just be Jenny-Jane and me at this appointment.  I'm really hoping I'm not scarring the kid for life here.  

I do have funny stories of what I remember, which is not much.  Could there have been some Jagermeister in that IV drip?  With my super wacky yet fabulous new doc, I would not be surprised.

Ok, I do promise more details, but please know that our family has been very well cared for and well fed.  THANK YOU to everyone who once again got us through another chapter in this wild adventure.   

with love,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Twas The Night Before...

It's the night before my re-reconstruction surgery and I'm pounding water like crazy before my midnight cut off.  Nick and I need to be at Scottsdale Healthcare North Hospital by 7am and surgery is at 8:45am. I am surprising NOT freaking out at all, yet.  It may happen tomorrow morning, but we'll see.  I always hate having my IV started, so that will cause a little anxiety in pre-op.  I'm looking forward to having the "Scottsdale" hospital experience compared to the St. Joe's central Phoenix experience which I've endured for both my kids C-sections and all this cancer crap.  I will miss buying tamales in the hallway while being wheeled into surgery.  Yes, that's a joke, but not far off.

I'm not sure yet if I will be spending the night at the hospital, so text Nick if you want to communicate with us.  He'll be all stressed out, far more than me, so distractions will be good for him.  We will post a blog update too, so stay tuned.  

Finally, a HUGE thanks to everyone who is on board to help with meals (tonight was amazing Monica!) and childcare (Diane is tucked safely into our guestroom).  The love and support keeps flowing our direction and we are eternally grateful.

Let's get it right this time fellas!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Boob Fairy

Today was my second meeting with my new plastic surgeon, it was actually my pre-op meeting.  What's that you say?  Why is there a new plastic surgeon in the picture and does pre-op mean that there is another operation in my future?  Oh, my, I have so much to tell.

I think this memorable quote may offer a few answers to those questions.  Me: "So Doc, my husband is more than a little apprehensive about another surgery..." Opening my gown, Doc says "Ohhhh yeah, you're all F'd (insert real word) up.  We gotta fix that." And that's what I'm gonna do, next Friday morning, May 11th.  Yay. Big Yay.

So here's the poop.  The reason for this second reconstruction surgery is to correct and adjust the results from my first recon surgery in September 2011.  It is very apparent that things are off kilter.  To be specific, one new breast is significantly lower and wider than the other, and the shape of both are super weird.  Like alien weird.  And the crazy thing is, I actually thought for a while that this is what reconstruction had to look like.  I'm glad to know now that things can be better, much better.

So I have called upon the self proclaimed Boob Fairy of Scottsdale to sprinkle his magic dust upon me.  And those are his words.  Yes, he is a bit of a nut, but that's actually a plus in my book.  I've done my research, and he's the best of the best.  Highly experienced and highly entertaining.  I like that.

And after today's appointment, Nick has total confidence in him too. Nick and BF (Boob Fairy) actually worked together years ago animating a highly publicized burned police officer tragedy, Officer Jason Schecterle.  BF was the reconstruction expert who performed miracles never imagined to save the Officer's life.  He's bitchin.  I've learned that he's become the "clean-up guy" for many of the other plastic surgeons in town.  Sign me up.

So with this next surgery I'll be in the hospital for 24 hours (I hope, I do love an overnight stay) and then limited on my lifting for two weeks.  My sister Diane will spend the weekend with us, and then Nick's sister Wendy is coming back from North Carolina for the Sunday-Thursday shift.  Damn I love those girls.  And my mommy brigade has the meal calendar already filled to keep us all fat and happy.  Thank you, every one of you.

Oh, how could I forget?! Here's the added bonus to this new surgery. I get a little sneaky liposuction to fill in the areas around my new implants.  This new doc is a genius.  That's right, adios belly and muffin top!  Bring on bikini season!

I have a few other quick things to mention since I've been such a blog slacker:
1.  Last Friday was my Mom's 80th birthday and she celebrated with us here in Phoenix.  My sister Claudia was here from Portland and it was a perfect birthday week.  I love you Mom and pray I look as beautiful as you at 80.
2.  Two weekends ago I spend an unforgettable weekend on Coronado Island in the company of four grade school girlfriends from St. Eugene's in Fox Point, Wisconsin.  We reconnected on Facebook and will never drift apart again.  Beth, Molly, Molly and Julie, I adore you.
3.  April 20th was my two year survival anniversary.  There is NO WAY we could be holding up as well as we are if we didn't have the love and support from our huge family- friends and kin.  Thank you beyond expression.  We are so very lucky to know each and every one of you.  We are blessed.

It's my goal to post again before my surgery and then of course you can look forward to my drug induced late night rants as I recover. I've already filled my prescriptions for valium (my personal favorite) and vicodin in anticipation!  

Until next week,
with love,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

At The End of The Rainbow

Nowadays, it seems that it really takes something important to get me to sit down and write a blog post.  At least once a day something happens that I think "hey, that would make an interesting blog entry," but it rarely stays with me long enough to make the effort to write. I've come a long way from when every day I absolutely had to tell my story and get the words swirling in my head down on paper (actually on the screen).  Today, though, I do have some thoughts I want to share. 

I'm at a place mentally where I can honestly say that I see more good from my cancer diagnosis than bad.  I can say this now because I am feeling good and from what we can tell, my body is perfectly healthy.  It's altered and scarred, but healthy. I'm not sick and tired of being sick and tired, which if you ask any cancer patient, is one of the hardest hurtles to overcome.  

I'm at a place where I am completely in love with my life, my husband, my children, my every day routine. I'm the first one up every morning and the last one to bed every night in our household. I gently wake Fisher up every morning for kindergarten, make him a healthy breakfast and send him out the door with Nick (along with kisses for both boys) who drives him to school each day.  I spend my days with Jenny-Jane as we bop among the gym, the grocery store and preschool.  I plan and cook pretty great, if I may say so myself, homemade dinners and even get a chance to watch my Real Housewives or new favorite show Up All Night after tucking the kids into bed.  It's so simple but it's perfect. If you knew me just ten years ago, I'm certain you would never have guessed that this would be the life I now choose to live.

The things which I placed great importance on earlier in life don't even make a blip on the radar.  Travel, money, career and prestige have all gone by the wayside.  Do I think my diagnosis had a hand in this?  Absolutely.  Becoming a mother has also been a tremendous influence on my priorities.  So if you combine cancer and motherhood?  Yikes, that's a powerful formula.

So I've been thinking about all this, and then tonight, I received an email from Fisher's ultra-fabulous teacher, Mrs. Martin.  She says, "Fisher was asked today what he would like to find at the end of the rainbow.  He said without hesitation 'my mom' ".  This is my life's work and my ultimate reward.  My children know they are loved.  

I know I can't control the length of my life, but while I'm here, I am going to stand tall at the end of that rainbow with my arms around my family, which is exactly where I'm supposed to be.

with love and pot of gold,

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blondes Have More Fun

Yeah, I'm still here.  It's been two months you say?  Oh yes, I'm quite aware.  Can we just get past that little blip on the calendar and move on?  Thank you. 

So, when we last spoke (two freaking months ago!), it was before Christmas and I was just about to embark on the last phase of my reconstruction.  Tattoos.  And yes, I am happy to say that I officially have my tats and my tits, or is that tits and tats.  Either way, I've got them.

Surprisingly, it didn't hurt.  I think mainly because I have absolutely no feeling in that area, and the tattoo/cosmetologist gal Michelle, used some sort of super numbing cream.  The best part of the whole experience was when Michelle pulled out some stencil ruler template of sorts that had all these different sized circles on it.  She asked, "so how large would you like your areola?"  I had no idea I'd get a choice!  How fun!  Now let me tell you that the circle sizes ranged from smallish normal sized circles to huge baloney sized circles!  I was like, "ummm... does anybody really choose the extra large ones?"  She said that about ten years ago, yes, big ones were all the rage.  Gag!  Anyhoo, I chose a reasonable size and she drew on my chest with a sharpie using that stencil and then tattoo'd away.  Oh, and I got to choose the color too.  Of course I chose hot pink, naturally.  Please know I'm kidding.

I will be going back to the plastic surgeon this Thursday for a little "touch up" on the tattoos to replace some color that sloughed off, but all in all, they look very natural.  I wish I had the huevos to publish a photo, but I don't.  Just believe me, all is good in the hood.

On another appearance note, I must mention that I am now a blonde again!  My dear friend and hairdresser of 17+ years spent four hours with me last Thursday in an effort to transform my very dark brown hair into very light highlighted tresses.  Since I was a highlighted blonde before the proverbial shit storm struck, I just wanted to go back from whence I came.  When we finally removed the 110 foils from my hair, she and I both cried.  It was like a homecoming.  I'm back!  These photos are NOT good, and as you can see, I took them myself, but at least they give you and idea of what I looked like before and after.


While I know this new blonde color is a work in progress, and it really does not look at all natural, I still feel better, more like me.

On a general health front, I want everyone to know that I'm truly doing amazing.  I feel great and have no physical indications that there are any problems anywhere in my body.  I see my oncologist for my regular 3-month check up on Friday and expect a completely clean bill of health.  

Before I close, I have a quick funny story about Fisher.  So last week he learned to ride a two-wheeler and has become obsessed with riding.  It's new, it's really fun and I can't blame him.  But get this, on Monday, I get three calls from the school nurse.  Fisher was complaining of a litany of ailments.  Of course I knew he was attempting to somehow, anyhow, get home to ride his bike.  The nurse says, "you'd better come and talk to him and see what the real deal is".  So I arrive at his sweet Catholic school and the nurse parades him into the front office wearing an eye patch!  Yes, a big white pirate of a bandage over his eye! This kid's got gumption.  He then explains how his eye would definitely feel much better if he could just go home and rest, and then (wait for it...) ride his bike.  As you might imagine, he returned to class, and I left the school giggling.  Tee hee, that kid is the greatest.

That's it for now.  More to come, but not too much more.  It's time to start winding down this Kiki adventure.  But not yet.  I'm still having fun.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blog Shmog

It's possible that you've noticed that I'm not blogging as often as I used to, and I'm feeling guilty about it.  While I love writing and I'm beyond honored that anyone wants to read what I write, I'm having difficulty finding the time to do my writing.  And yes, somehow I find the time to play Words with Friends every day, but my blog has not been taking priority.

Nick's Mom Virginia, who was just here with Rusty on a perfectly wonderful Thanksgiving visit, may have put it best.  She suggested that maybe I don't "need" to blog as much anymore.  I definitely used blogging as a form of therapy, an outlet of sorts, and now that I'm out of the immediate woods cancer-wise, I'm feeling healthier, body and soul.  Looks like I'm allowing myself to ease up on my blogging therapy, I think that's a good thing.  

All that said, I am committed to this blog, and I will see it through. The exciting part is that seeing it through might mean that I can be done at the end of the year.  I should be able to finish my reconstruction, the tattoos, before year end.  That really is my final step in my cancer journey.  Of course I am still fearful of recurrence and will always have lingering terror over dying young and leaving my family motherless and lost, but life now is generally tranquil. Putting aside this blog is another step toward normalcy.

But I'm not done yet.  I know I left things hanging with my Fembot boobs, my weekend home to visit my Mom, and Virginia and Rusty's Thanksgiving visit.  Here's the very brief overview, and I apologize for not doing any of these subjects justice.  First, I made it through airport security with limited embarrassment, weird boobs and all. Upon returning home from Wisconsin, my plastic surgeon allowed me to ditch the Madonna boobs, thank God!  I even went shopping for pretty new bras.  I'm a 36 C!  Nipple wise, things are still a bit swollen, but I'm optimistic things will be in good shape a few weeks from now.  

My quick trip home to visit my Mom was truly fantastic.  I was able to see her perfectly appointed new home and feel a sense of relief that she is settling into her new life, sadly without my Dad.  My sisters Claudia and Diane were home too, which gave us an opportunity to be silly and do lots of giggling including our gut busting experiences with oddball airport employee Joseph W. in Milwaukee.  We even fit in a visit to the incredible Calatrava designed Milwaukee Art Museum.  Thank you Claudia, for this gift of this special trip home.

And our Thanksgiving weekend with Virginia and Rusty was fun and funny.  We share a peculiar sense of humor with these two, so weird and comical goings on are the norm.  An example?  A tiny two-inch baby doll joined us for Thanksgiving dinner.  You really don't need to hear more about this, truly.  The kids love their grandparents to pieces so the six of us really gel whether we are bobbing in the hot tub, out to dinner at Arribas or hiking the mountains around Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  We miss you G.G. and Rusty!

So we are caught up, right?  I will continue to blog on a weekly basis through the month of December, but I think it will be pretty brief as I am a Christmas machine and cannot avert much attention away from the ribbons and bows which I adore.  And after that?  We'll see where this goes.  It may be time for me to finally get to work on that Kick it Kiki book.  Not a bad idea for a New Year's resolution.

with love,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Channeling Madonna

I wish they looked this good.
I am a Fem-Bot. Not really this bad, but close.
Well, this definitely was not in the brochure.  As I sit in front of my computer, I am completely distracted by the extremely pointy plastic covers over my breasts, or shall I say new nipples.  It’s a complete joke and somewhat horrifying.  
Here’s what went down.  Just hours before my nipple reconstruction surgery on Monday, I called my nurse at the plastic surgeon’s office to ask her if I can expect any serious discomfort after the operation.  She said no, it’s fairly painless, but the nipple covers were kind of obnoxious.   Um... nipple what?  Seems my skilled yet detail sparing plastic surgeon neglected to tell me that after this reconstruction surgery, I’d be donning crazing protruding nipple protectors for a WEEK!  Holy shit.  
There is no clothing that hides them, except my puffy winter vest and/or a well placed scarf with double-sided tape to hold it in place.  If you think I’m overreacting, I’m not.  They are beyond ridiculous.  Have you see the Austen Powers movie where the Fem-Bots have guns pointing out of their bras?  That’s EXACTLY what I look like.

So how did the doc do it?  He actually used my own skin, cut a small round circle where a nipple should be and folded the skin into some kind of mound. I now have to protect these mounds with the aforementioned plastic guards until they can heal into what will look like new nipples.  Too much info?  Sorry.  At least I didn't mention that they are really scabby and gross looking now.  Oh, sorry again.
The good news is that the surgery was easy peasy and I have almost no pain from recovery.  Monday was foggy because of the anesthesia, but yesterday I felt perfectly normal, except for you know what.  I look like a freak!!  Plus I get to travel to Wisconsin on Thursday for the weekend with these pointy beauties.  At least my sisters and Mom will get a good laugh on my account.
So of course on my surgery day, Fisher once again tries to show me up.  In school Monday, he not only let the adorable teacher’s assistant pull out his loose tooth, he then had a collision in PE that resulted in a serious fat lip. Poor kid had to spend a couple hours in the school nurse's office because she could not get ahold of Nick nor me because we were in the surgery center.  He’s fine now and a dollar richer from the tooth fairy.
And a quick update on my latest speech I gave to the Midwestern University Alumni Leadership dinner.  It went great!  I felt very comfortable speaking and the audience was warm and receptive, at least no one left while I was talking, and that’s about all I can really hope for.  Do I want to do more of these?  I think so, but maybe it’s time to start making some money.  We’ll see.  
I probably won’t write again until I get back from Wisconsin on Sunday.  I see the doc on Tuesday to have my pointy things removed, and then Nick’s Mom Virginia and Stepdad Rusty arrive late Tuesday night for the holiday.  Yippee!!!  What fun to be able to see my family and Nick’s family in one week.  Our list of things to be thankful for is very, very long.
with love

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Nipple Fairy

I know better than to start writing a blog post at 10pm.  So I'm going to give you the brief skinny on what's going on around here so that I can get to bed at a decent hour and still have time to allow a dozen of my smarty-pants friends to kick my butt on Words with Friends (it's on-line Scrabble, silly).  

Tomorrow night (Thursday) I have yet another speaking engagement where I get to perform the "keynote speech".  Yikes, that always sounds so intimidating.  This time it's for the annual Midwestern University Alumni Leadership dinner here in Phoenix.  I'll be addressing doctors, physician assistants, pharmacists and other various healthcare professionals.  I have been asked to tell my story and provide my opinions of how I was cared for by the diverse medical community that I interacted with throughout my treatments. They really want to hear the good, bad and ugly of my experiences. What a good opportunity for me to tell my flashing story again!  Oh, it never seems to get old.  

Nick will be joining me again for support, sweet guy.  It's being held at Coup de Tartes, a fantastic restaurant in central Phoenix, so if nothing else, we'll get a great meal out of it.  I've been practicing my speech and I'm feeling pretty comfortable with it.  This time I'll be speaking for about twenty minutes and have a question and answer session after.  Wish me luck!

Then on Monday, I am scheduled for my nipple reconstruction!  Oh yeah, it's that time already.  I think I'll save the details of this procedure for a post on Sunday night. I've gotten many funny reactions from friends who know I'll be going in for this minor surgery.  For example, my postal carrier Sonny was wondering if I'll be having a nipple transplant, um... no.  No cadaver nipples for me. And my Kappa sorority girlfriend Jen asked if I'll be putting a pretty bra under my pillow for the nipple fairy.  Hmmm, I like the sound of that one.  

I promise to fill you in before I go under the knife Monday afternoon. Recovery is going to be easy this time.  It better be, I'm jumping on a plane next Thursday to visit my Mom and see her new home, yippee!!  Thank you sister Claudia for this amazing birthday gift.

Nighty night!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Wonderful Things

Trick or Treat!

A strangely cute combination

Maddie, Connor, Debbie join came all the way from Wisconsin for this!?
You thought I was kidding when I said monster truck?

Where on God's green Earth has the last week gone?  Seriously, it's been a non-stop, fun filled adventure.  First, let's address the photos.  Halloween was a blast. Yes, that is Jenny-Jane as the cutest Strawberry Shortcake central Phoenix has ever seen.  That hot pink wig was fantastic, and the strawberry purse? Too much. I think it was the extra freckles we added to her little cheeks that really sealed the deal. Fisher was an authentic "army man" which required three trips to the army surplus store on the way west side of town.  Who knew they had genuine fatigues for kids?  And that "shooter" is as obnoxious as it looks.  He loved it.  

The "Ostrich Fishin" photo is such a crack up.  Our visit with my friend Jenny's kids and sister Debbie culminated on Sunday with an hour long drive down the I-10 towards Tucson to the Ostrich (and deer, goat, donkey and lorikeet) Ranch, where we endured a dusty yet informative desert romp aboard the Picacho Peak Monster Truck.  Our driver mentioned that they had not gotten rain at the ranch in two years!  I believe it.

Aside from successfully ticking off all the Arizona tourist highlights on my agenda for this visiting crew, we also managed to spend a great deal of time just hanging out in the hot tub.  I have a feeling these special Wisconsin kids had a great mini-vacation and took home plenty off-the-wall stories from their fall break adventures with "Aunt Kritter and Uncle Nick" in Phoenix.  

I have to admit, that in my own mind, there was an unspoken reality that haunted me during their stay.  Here they were, two kids who lost their mom when they were just five and nine years old.  Could this be my kids someday?  I'm painfully aware that my disease is life threatening and that my family could face the same situation.  That's the heavy stuff.  It's always there, always lurking.  It's that radio on in the background that I can't turn off.  Sigh.  It's really hard.

So I try to fill my days with the wonderful things.  Strawberry Shortcakes, monster truck rides and orange and black striped Tammie Coe birthday cakes (thanks Nick!).  Strangely, living with a constant reminder of your mortality can be a blessing.  It's life in technicolor that my friend Krista told me about.  Too bad it often takes something as scary as cancer to for us to see it.

with a extra special hug to Maddie, Connor and Debbie back in Wisconsin,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Birthday Week

Let the fun begin!!  

I have always loved having a birthday right before Halloween.  When I was little, my parents threw great trick or treating parties for me every year, complete with my Dad's super spooky laugh and family room horror show of cold spaghetti brains and peeled grape eyeballs.  As I got older, I always allowed myself to have a bit more fun than probably legal around Halloween because heck, it was my birthday week too!  I think we are still recovering from the wild Halloween party Nick threw me about five years ago.  Photo below- that's me as a cop, Nick as Teen Wolf (oh yeah, really) and our friend Jen as Pamela Anderson.  And yes, we do look tall because we are standing on the coffee table.  We can throw a good party, no doubt about it.
My wild birthday, not so long ago.

So what is in store for my big birthday week this year?  It's decidedly more mellow, but infinitely more special.  This year, Debbie Reinhart Schleicher, my late best friend Jenny's big sister, is bringing Jenny's kids Maddie (age 13) and Connor (age 9) from Wisconsin to stay with us for a long, non-stop fun filled Arizona weekend.  I cannot wait to get these three under my roof.  It's time that Jenny's kids and my two little ones spend some real quality time together.  It is so important to Debbie and me that these kids really get to know and love one another. Jenny and I had always planned on raising our families together, and even if she can't be here, I will hold up my end of the bargain for both of us.  

So what do we have planned?  A costume parade at Jenny-Jane's preschool, a special candy shop excursion, a sunset desert hike, a day at a fabulous local resort, pumpkin carving, lots of hot tub time, a wild West night at Rawhide, a Halloween carnival at our club and maybe even a monster truck ride at the ostrich farm just south of Phoenix.  Oh yeah, that's just the beginning.  I'm crazy excited.  I cannot think of a better way to spend my birthday this year.  Thank you sweet Debbie, for bringing yourself and the kids to Phoenix.  I know Jenny will be overseeing every single, wonderful moment of our time together. 

And no, I do not have a costume this year.  Well, maybe I'll try on the cop get-up one more time just for fun, but not in front of the kids!

Happy birthday week to me (its the big 41),

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Your Man Reminder

My Boy Reminder
Fisher from the back seat of the car Saturday night on the way out to family dinner:  "Mom, did you know that whenever you see someone you know, you say 'Look at my boobs!'  Don't you know, those are your private parts!?"

Well, looks like he's paying a little more attention than I originally thought.  That's a good reminder for me to try to be a little more stealth in the future, but please, still feel free to look at them.

My Man Reminder
Now this is something to write home about!  A dear friend of our family and former employee of Nick at Kitchen Sink Studios, Marc Cattapan, created a truly fantastic and potentially life-saving app for your iPhone or iPad.  The app is called Your Man Reminder and it's a tool to remind women to perform their monthly self breast exams, brilliant!  And get this, you get to choose the studly man who pops up every month to do the reminding.  Not a bad deal!  If only he could come over and perform that exam for you.. now that would be an app!!

And something very special is printed in the Credits section of this app.  It says "This app was developed by Marc Cattapan and is dedicated to his friend Kristin Hower, who writes the blog Kick it Kiki." I tear up every time I see it.  Thank you sweet Marc, I am truly honored.

Please download it and pass it along to your friends, it's free, click here for Your Man Reminder on your iPhone or iPad.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Planets Align

Up until now, I hadn't taken either of the kids to any of my doctor's appointments.  That's quite a feat considering the countless exams and procedures I have endured. We never really gave our kiddos the actual skinny on my condition so keeping them away was to protect them from hearing things that might scare them and to keep the peace in my medical waiting rooms.  Now that I see my doctors less frequently and my visits are much more upbeat, I figured it would be ok to take Jenny-Jane along to my second post surgery follow-up appointment with my plastic surgeon.  I knew it was going to be a quick in and out where he surveys my new boobs and sends me on my way.  I was also hoping that by bringing in the cute little lady, the office staff might see it in their hearts to forgive my flashing incident from several weeks ago.

Sometimes the planets align and Jenny-Jane behaves exactly as I hoped she would.  This was one of those days.  Tuesday she charmed the pants off the plastic surgeon's office staff and even gave my doc a big "Mooo-shaaa-raaa-fffaaa!!" when he entered the exam room.  (That's his name by the way, so it was a good thing to say.)  She complimented me my on my "pink vest", the half-gown that opens to the front, that I wear when being examined and sweetly answered the doctor's questions about her own little pink outfit.  It was one of those experiences where it could have all gone horribly wrong, but it didn't.  I'm learning to trust myself and my kids a bit more, both very good things.  

What I also learned at this appointment is that I will be scheduled for my next surgery in mid-November.  This is when my doctor will create nipples for me.  I know, it sounds soooo very weird, but that's what happens next.  It will be a quick half hour procedure, under anesthesia, with little recovery time.  I'm still not exactly sure how he does this, but once I find out, I promise not to spare any details.  And then in December, I get to see the office tattoo artist who will tattoo the rest so it looks natural. How crazy is all this?  Who knew that this is what breast cancer mastectomy patients endure?  Aren't you glad you know me so I can tell you all this strange stuff?  

So that's where we stand right now. I see my oncologist next week for my 3-month check up and I'm expecting him to say that I'm still doing great.  I'm truly feeling strong and healthy and optimistic.  It's been a while since I could say that.  All's good.

with love on a full moon in October,

Friday, October 7, 2011


I have to just blurt it out... MRA results came back clear, all is good in the hood!  Huge sigh of relief, huge.  I am so sorry it took so long to get this information posted.  Believe me, I would have loved to announce it sooner, but I did not get the call from my doctor's office until 3:30pm this afternoon.  My MRA was Monday morning, what the what?  I was about to march into the neurosurgeon's office and look at the films myself. Hell, I would have flashed my new boobs again if it would have helped. It took a total of five panicked phone calls to finally get the results.  I was not going to wait through the weekend not knowing.  They are very lucky they finally called today.

So this is what he said.  "Your aneurysm has not grown or changed, so plan on a follow up MRA in three years."  Nice!  So I remind him that I'm a Stage 3 breast cancer patient and what I really want to know about is any evidence of tumors in my brain.  "Oh" he says, "Right. Well, we really should have done an MRI along with the MRA to really get a better look for tumors."  Come again??  "But" he says, "if there was anything significant, we would be able to see it with the MRA."  Aargh!  Was I not clear? Deep breath. So, let's just take it at face value and say all is fine.  Which is wonderful and perfect news. Next time we will be doing both MRI and MRA, oh yes we will.

I feel a little ashamed to be boasting about my great test results, especially today.  Today my sorority sister Stacey Walker, who lives in the state of Washington, underwent brain surgery to remove two of five breast cancer tumors that metastasized to her brain. One was small, one the size of a golf ball.  Her surgery was successful and last we heard, she is recovering in ICU tonight.  Stacey and her husband have three young children.  I cannot allow myself to even think of how Stacey said goodbye to her children this morning as she left the house for this surgery.  

Stacey is the ultimate survivor.  When she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer two years ago, she was given an 8-10 month prognosis. While she has crushed that original prognosis time frame, I know she must have lived every moment with it looming in her heart and mind.  Stacey's reality is my scariest nightmare. It seems almost ironic that my MRA results hung in the balance this week while Stacey prepared for this incredible surgery.  While I want to celebrate my good news, I cannot forget for one moment, what Stacey and her family are enduring.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me and my test results this week.  I ask that you now share your prayers with the Walker family.  As my Mom said to me when I asked how she and my Dad raised five children, "You focus on the one who needs you the most at that moment."  It's not my turn right now.

To follow Stacey's journey, read her husband's blog at www.caringbridge.org/visit/staceywalker


Monday, October 3, 2011

Wait For The Sigh

What you lookin' at?
Here they are! I mean, here I am! Nick snapped this picture of me as I was heading out to a play with the kiddos on Sunday afternoon.  As I said before, my new shape looks pretty decent with clothes on, and I'm still optimistic that clothes off will look more natural as things have time to settle.  

Just for the record, besides the whole boobs thing, it still freaks me out that I'm a short haired brunette.  I mean, nothing sucked worse than being bald, and I don't dislike this new short dark do, but it's definitely weird.  In my head, I'm still a gal with long highlighted blond hair.  I swear, I'm still surprised at my reflection every time I look in the mirror.  Will I keep it short and dark?  Probably not, but it's been kind of fun to have this alter ego.  

So this morning I finally had that overdue MRI (actually MRA, but same same).  As you may recall, the docs found a small 2mm aneurysm in my brain in the Circle of Willis area (don't ask me) the day I cracked my face open when I passed out in our bathroom while I was going through chemo in June 2010.  That whole last sentence seems like a joke- was that me?  Anyhoo, I now have to get annual MRA's to make sure that aneurysm isn't growing.  As long as it stays the same size, we can ignore it.  Fine with me.

What I am most scared of is finding out that I could possibly have breast cancer tumors in my brain.  Breast cancer definitely likes to metastasize to the brain, the cruel disease that it is.  I begged the technician today to take a quick peek at the scan and tell me secretly if there were any tumors.  As you can probably guess, I was heartily denied.  I've got to wait 2-3 days for the doctors to review the films and get back to me.  Seriously?  Agony.  

Sweet Nick was not able to go to the hospital with me this morning because he was heading to Santa Monica for the day to meet with clients.  So he covertly texted every family member he had in his phone to ask them to contact me with encouragement.  I know he's worried too, but pretends not to be, just to help keep me sane.  

I of course will update my blog with the results as soon as I get the all clear from my doctor later this week.  I truly think everything is just fine, but I would like to be able to remove this one worry off my very full plate.  If you hear a sigh of relief coming from central Phoenix later this week, you'll know it was me.

With love on a Monday night as it finally begins to cool off in the desert,