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


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,