Wednesday, April 1, 2009

a timeline of events

Just to help me remember!

Dec 06 regular checkup at local doctor, she finds a lump
Jan 07 go to TOPS in Kingwood for biopsy
Jan 29 07 Dr. Bruning tells me I have breast cancer
March 07 1st visit to MDAnderson, lots of tests
Apr 4 07 bone scan, ct scan, results following day
Apr 9 07 mastectomy w/expanders
Apr 25 07 reconstructive surgery/tummy tuck
May 29 07 1st dose of chemo
Nov 07 last round of chemo
Dec 20 07 no more chemo port!
Mar 19 08 1 year checkup... all is good!
Jun 18 08 implants to match the set
Jan 09 nipple reconstruction
Mar 09 tattoo

Saturday, October 25, 2008

follow ups from yesterday

Well today I met with Dr. Green and Dr. Kronowitz. I had to wait quite a while for Green. Apparently two patients either canceled or came in very late and it threw her schedule. She said the x ray and CT came back great! Also, she won't need to see me for another 6 we're doing good! She looks great...she has lost a LOT of weight.

Then off to Kronowitz's. Got taken to the back very quickly. Jennifer checked me out and said my symmetry was really good and that everything looked great! Asked again about n reconstruction and tattoo. I said, well, still just looking for the tattoo. She leaves, Brenda comes in and asks the same things... she said Kron will be there soon, change into the gown and know the drill....yeah, I know the drill! *rollseyes*

She leaves and I begin to undress to put the stuff on. I open the little plastic bag and notice that the ugly white string bikini panties are now black. Oh great! As if it weren't bad enough wearing the white ones in front of a man who is not my husband! grrrr So then I take them out and NO, it is NOT ugly black string is a sheer black THONG!!! I wanted to cry! I was completely offended! So I walk to the door where I know Brenda is standing on the other side writing in my chart.... Uh, do yall still have the ugly white panties? She says, not wearing the thong, huh? NO I'M NOT!! I don't think so! Had she not had them...i'd have stayed in my striped pair that I was wearing! So Praise God again, He gave me an escape and I got the ugly white things.

Looks like I don't have to come back for a while! yeah! So I get home and we talk about it some more and I change my mind about n reconstruction. If the appt comes through I will get it done right before Christmas so I can heal over Christmas break...and the tattoo will come at a later time. So, very happy here! :o)

Oct appt. xray and CT scans

Two days of appointments. The first day I will have a CT scan and Xrays of chest, plus bloodwork. Should be an easy day. :)

We get there early and get the blood work done first. Then off to get the chest x-ray done. That is just a couple of quick shots and you're finished. Then wait for the CT scan. You can't have eaten 3 hours prior to the scan. So I had an early breakfast to be ready for this properly. I sign in and get called back for assessment. I tell them I'd like an IV tech to do my IV for the iodine contrast part. I've had problems in the past..infiltrated once, too many "tries" on another visit and my veins just are small. She asked if they could give it one try before calling them in and I agreed. The nurse was great, got it in one try and it felt good.

When I got called to the back I was given a hospital shirt to change into. I changed and was ready for the CT. The tech takes me to the back and I lied down on the table. Arms overhead and feet off then end. She got the table in place and I looked up and saw some numbers. They were not too far off of what I THOUGHT was my weight! lol I laughed and said If that is my weight I'm gonna cry! :) She laughed and told me it was NOT my weight! Thank goodness!!

She sees a bit of blood coming from the IV (in the iv) and flushes it before beginning. I can always feel it and it kind of sensitive. She immediately says, OH, I'm going to have to start that off slow when we do the contrast so it won't burn.

She takes a couple of scans and comes into the room. Are you wearing a bra? I'm like, uh, .... I feel at my shoulder...yeah, I sure am! OOPS! So I unhook it there on the table and put it at the top of the table! lol whoopsie! (I'm sure insurance will get a big kick outta that!) So she does the scans again and comes back in for the iodine contrast.

Sure enough she starts it slow and then speeds it up and does the CT scans with the contrast. It was problems.

When we got back in the car I told Graland that I was just thanking and praising God while I was on the table. I wanted to tell the, could you start that off slow and then pick it up (I've been told by another tech to tell them this) but I couldn't bring myself to tell them how to do their job...even though it is my right to do so! Praise God for such a loving tech that God placed there just for me at the right time! She knew exactly what I needed and cared enough to give it to me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Couch25k in 9 weeks

I started a C25k in 9 weeks program! I've done two days of the 1st week so far. I found out about Couch to 5k in 9 weeks from my ladies board. It is a running program for people just starting out. By the end of 9 weeks you should be able to run 5k (3 miles) in 30 minutes.

It is set up in intervals. For instance, this week, week 1, does a 5 minute walk, then 60 sec run, 90 sec walk, 60 sec run, 90 sec walk and back and forth for 30 minutes. There is a musical cue (like a bell) that lets you know when to go from walking to running. You can download a podcast that has all the music on it. I downloaded one from Podrunner.

Day one went great, but I wasn't able to finish the last few minutes. It was so hot and humid, I finally sat in a neighbors yard and rested. I wasn't too smart doing it in the heat of the day. On day two, I ran at school in the gym. Did the whole podcast. One more run this week and WEEK 1 will be complete! (it is for 3x/week)

follow up visit at MDA

everything went well at the follow up visit. They were happy with how everything was healing. They put a medical tape on me during surgery that the nurse took off while I was there. Apparently I am allergic to the tape. When it came off...and she did it very slowly...oh gosh, it hurt SO MUCH!!! Underneath was just raw skin, red, with blisters all over. So below each "surgery site" was a whole new thing to heal. But it is fine now. I had to be real gentle with it for a while.

OK...cute story. We're in the waiting room and I go to the restroom. I come back and then Graland goes. While I'm wandering in the room, I come across a pen...well, of course I need to have it!! lol It's just laying there on the carpet. So I pick it up and guess what?! It is from Central Baptist Church here in Livingston!! It has their makingGODknown logo on it. So I claim it and clip it to my purse...and can't wait to tell Graland about my find!! :o)

Graland comes back and sits by me and before I have a chance to show him what a small world it is, he says, OH! You found my pen!! lol

Well, it WOULD have been a really neat story!! ha ha

Saturday, July 12, 2008

the surgery

wouldn't you know it, my body just isn't the same as most bodies! lol So to achieve the uniformity some additional incisions were made. This wasn't your run of the mill, put in an implant kind of surgery. It was more of a musical chairs and hope that everyone finally finds a seat. I won't be going into the details of the surgery here. But I will say that when I am looking down, it looks wonderful! I fill in my swim top. Will go to buy a sports bra today. They told me to wear a sports bra or a camisole with shelf bra. You can very well tell the surgery from the front...(no bra). On the outside though, with clothes, it looks super! The implants will need to settle into their pockets and they will eventually appear rounded and normal.

I was given the option of pain meds. Vicaden or Darvocet. I said No way to the really threw me for a loop the last time. She said the V works better for the pain, but yes, it does have it's side effects. The D is good too, not as strong as V, but better than V for side effects.

The D gives me fuzzy headaches and I'm not liking it too much. So now (Fri morning) I am not taking them. Thursday evening was my last pain pill. I was only taking them twice a day. I'm not in a lot of pain, just discomfort. Mostly the right side drain...not even the surgery! lol go figure!

It is Saturday morning now, a couple days from my pain meds and my head is back to normal. I continue to empty the two drains that I have from surgery. You empty and mark it on a chart to give to the plastic surgeon when you return for your visit. I know I have friends who have prayed for my pain and I really appreciate it!! I am feeling SOO much better now! God is so good!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Had surgery..on to recovery

July 7 4:30am and we're on the road. Check in is at 6:00 and surgery at 7:30. I wake and recall the memory verse from journaling: 2Cor 1:3-4 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

I really like that verse! And all morning He has given me the comfort that He promised to give! :D I go in and get to the holding area pretty quickly. I ALMOST called Donna just for laughs, but I didn't! lol Figured I'd let them do what they were supposed to be doing on me instead. I get on the gown, the long white knee high hose and footies and get in the bed.

Dr. Kee, the anesthesiologist comes in and gets my IV going...he is awesome!!! Barely a prick of the skin. We wait a little while longer and some techs come in and get some IV stuff going in me. They say it is time to go. Graland gives me a kiss and an I love you. The tech tells me the stuff will burn a little and OUCH! Yes, it did! Dr. Kee tells me to take deep breaths and it will help. Guess it did...that was the last I remember and when I woke, I was in recovery!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

chronos time

Today in Sunday School we learned about chronos time and kairos time. Chronos time is by the clock, waiting, hearing the ticking go by. Kairos is God moments, time when you know it is God who is speaking at that moment.

Told them in class that I was sitting in chronos time...waiting for tomorrow to be here! The long weekend has really done a twist on me. I was out on Thursday (from school) and then there was Fri, Sat, and Sun. Well, I woke up Sat morning and the first thing that went through my head was, YES! This time tomorrow I'll already be in surgery and this will be behind me! Then I thought, OH!!! No, today's Saturday!! Gosh, this weekend has really been something! lol

So, spending time packing, writing, writing, writing, to get through this chronos time! :) We'll leave about 4:30am I suppose to get there by my 6am checkin. Surgery is at 7:30. Keep me in your prayers!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

got a myspace

It's computer related so I don't know WHY it took me so long to do it, but I got a MySpace account. I have had so much stinkin' fun working on that thing. I love, love, love the background. Mostly it's just been adding music, videos..learning what is what. Anyway, here it is.. Jo's MySpace

Thursday, July 3, 2008

2nd ps visit before surgery

I never understood...Kronowitz has my chest area (both sides) all marked up with Sharpie pen....a 'go-by' if you will, of the surgery on Monday. Ok...that's fine, no biggie. Then, they give you some antibacterial liquid soap for that area to cut down on infection, etc. But don't wash off the markings! lol I've drawn and re-drawn! lol Can't move...I'll perspire and wash it off! Can't exercise like I'd like to... Can't take a walk with Graland.... Can't wait for them to get it all wiped off of me! lol I'd like to sweat again AND take a standing shower! lol

Second visit. Since my last visit, I have decided to go ahead and get an implant on both sides. It would be nice to fill out my bra or swimsuit. I've never filled out ANYTHING before. I want to get this done and get it behind me, and do it during ONE surgery. Just looking at a B cup here..nothing fancy! I called earlier and they said it would be no problem. Well, when I got there, they found out the order time had passed (or something like that). So Brenda was running around phoning reps. By the time my appointment ended they had two reps who were going to hand deliver the implants Monday morning before the surgery. wow. Good news! I have not had that sharp pain in my abdomen! It has gone on for a year and now it is gone. So good!! I will not have to have the incision opened again. Praise God!

Monday, June 30, 2008

being transparent

OK...I'm at journaling class and we are going around the class introducing ourselves. We all pretty much know each other, but there are some that you don't know. It gets to me and I introduce myself..Jo, husband, children, teach, etc. Next... Then the leader says and She is a breast cancer survivor. Yes, I say. Next.

I go home and talk with a friend from class about it. Why does she do that? I want to put it behind me. Friend says, You can''s your witness. And I must agree!! It IS my witness to how God carried me through such a hard year. I absolutely could not have done it alone.

Fast forward...we get a new person in class. So we all introduce ourselves. It gets to me and everyone is just a grinning, cause just last week I told them all how I was offended weeks ago when the leader had 'finished' my intro. So YES...Jo, husband, kids, teach AND I'm a BC Survivor REAL LOUD!!! They all clapped and laughed. It was a great thing and I felt real good saying it!

Then they wanted real transparency so I told them the surgery was gonna be a little more than what I had said earlier and explained it all to them. You just hafta have a good humor with it all. Looking forward to my 'new me.'

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

1st ps visit

Here is the beginning of a "matching set". We knew from the very beginning that I'd have more surgery to complete the final outcome. With the first surgery, the mastectomy, you are reconstructed very nicely..Barbie style. It looks very nice. That's all well and good, except your good other side is still 42 years old and has nursed 4 babies!! lol So there is not a match there at all. Apparently many years ago this was fought in insurance, but they realize now that women HAVE to get the good side revised to match to be "altogether" again. So we discussed this and talked about an implant on the good side and lift to match the other. The only downfall was that I am so small chested! They really didn't have any implants my size! lol Then suggested I get the reconstructed side a little bigger to be able to get in an implant on the good side. I was like, NO!! I'm tired of surgeries! So they've ordered me a small saline implant for the right side and we'll be ready to go for surgery July 7. I'll have to come in for a pre-op with Kronowitz and the anesthesiologist. Another thing that has bothered me is a place in my abdominal area. A sharp pain there that comes from out of the blue. He is looking at reopening that incision to find out what is going on there. He will also do some liposuction on the reconstructed side to make a cleaner fold below the breast.

Friday, June 6, 2008

new haircut & guitar

I am loving this short hair!! I got another cut recently, colored, and highlighted. I was afraid of what it was going to cost and after I got to the register, I could tell WHY I was so afraid!! yikes! BUT, it looks great and I'm learning how to fix it so it looks very nice.

Well, got an electric guitar for my birthday!!! It was an Epiphone...from the local pawn shop. Used it a few days (had a 7 day return policy) and then picked up my cheapy Walmart acoustic and just couldn't stand it. We returned the Epiphone and the fellow who SOLD us the thing says, Yeah, it's got a bent neck on it...that could keep the sound from being just right! grrrr Thanks a lot for selling it to us! So, feeling real good about the return! lol

So we went to Houston and found one that is beautiful! It is a Takamine G Series... electric/acoustic. So I can plug in when I want or just go without. It's got a wonderful sound. I've gotten to take it to youth meetings and join in the band playing. It has been a dream come true to be able to do that. Learn the guitar and then to play with others. God is good!!!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Relay for Life

This was my first real Relay. It started with a meal given for survivors and their caregivers. The meal was great and we sat with one of my students from several years ago whose grandma also had breast cancer years ago. I also got a purple Survivors shirt.

At the appointed time the survivors & their families gathered at the archway. You went through the arch I guess as a way of saying "i've been through it!" lol But first the emcee (Officer Drake) had opening comments. Unfortunately the speaker system was BAD and you couldn't hear him at all. They had given him quite a bit to say, then the anthems, then some speakers. The people around us were getting was something I haven't really seen before! "Let us walk!" "Finish!" Bless his heart, I felt really bad for him. He did let up one speaker, but when it came for the second and they caused such an outroar, that he said we'd start the walk. And so we did.

It was the most moving experience. As you went around the track, all these people were just clapping for you! And you'd see so many people you know from town from one thing or the other.. church or school, etc. They played songs like "the Rocky Theme" or "I Will Survive" or "the Chariots of Fire song". It was so cool! At one point we just threw our arms up as winners.

I did stay the whole night...till 7 the next morning. We caught Mardi Gras beads, sang with the karaoke, participated in the audience for an Ellen show. We learned to dance the Superman song and just had a really good time! Didn't win a darn thing though...and there was coolest Relay bookbag!! lol Every time they call for anyone who was walking at that time, we'd all run to the track like we were walking!

I hope to be more involved in it next year and am contemplating different Relay fund raisers like I did this year. Can't wait to be there again in 2009.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

outted myself - Kids Relay for Life

This week was Relay for Life. Our school also has a Kids Relay for Life where the kids make banners and walked down to the track, make a lap, and come back. It is a big event for us. That Monday, as we talked about what Relay was and where the money that we were raising goes, I talked about chemo, cancer, etc. One girl wanted to know how you got it, so I talked about bad cells...and that there were many kinds of cancer. They asked what do you do for cancer? I talked about chemo and what it does to the cancer and that that's why some people lose their hair. We talked about their family members who have or have had cancer. I told them You know, most people who have cancer.... (and they replied Die.) I said, No..they just don't hear about hear about they people who have died. I told them they would be surprised to know how many people actually had it and they didn't know about it. At this point one of my little girls says, "Like you!". I smile and said That's right. The group just looks at me WHAT?! I smiled and said Yeah, I had it last year. But I had the kind of cancer that you could have surgery to take it out. And after that I had chemo. Remember Meet the Teacher Night? I had on a wig! WHAT? NO WAY! yep. And when I came back with the haircut after Christmas? My hair was finally that long again and I wanted to wear it like that. WHAT?! I told them it was neat to be able to look online and find any kind of hairdo that I wanted...any color, any style, any length. I asked them to think about it: did I ever come to school moping or crying? No. Did I ever say Oh, I think I'm going to die? No. I asked several things that let them know you can have cancer and still be OK!! Functional! Play frisbee! Be Normal! They asked why I hadn't told them sooner...why did I wait until the end of school? I said...cause we just now had Relay for Life. :o) So we made our Relay banner...and put our handprints on it. Those who had family members or friends who had dies we remembered. And those who were still with us, we honored. I told them if they didn't know anyone, to put my name down. It was a great walk and I think much more meaningful to them with them knowing.