Friday, September 2, 2011

Bye-Bye Drain

I was finally able to have the drain pulled after three weeks.  Let's clarify...that's three weeks with no shower!  I was a little apprehensive about them pulling it, but I have to say it really wasn't bad.  I didn't even make a peep!  My ego was bruised though, when they said they scheduled me at lunch time so there wouldn't be any other patients there in case I screamed.  I just let that slide.  The following day I was intent on getting the house straightened up.  Not actual cleaning mind you, just putting things away and changing out some of the summer decor.  By yesterday evening though, I was afraid I had overdone it.  After taking my much sought after shower and getting in my pajamas, I literally fell into bed.  I'm also dealing with itching all over my body, swollen feet and pain in my hands and feet.  While lying there in bed, I started to cry.  I don't allow myself to cry very often, but sometimes I just have to release all of the pent up feelings and emotions.  I had caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and it was kind of like when a woman looks at herself for the first time after giving birth.  I looked like I had been through a rough time.  Well, I realized, I have.  And I have a lot to be thankful for...a lumpectomy instead of the planned mastectomy, surviving cancer, and love and support like I have never known.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Post Op

The surgery went very well and recovery has been a breeze compared to chemo.  A lumpectomy was done and a total of thirty lymph nodes were removed. Although my use of the arm is limited right now,  I have total confidence that I will regain complete use of my arm.  The pathology results showed no cancer in either the breast or lymph nodes!  Amazing!!  The doctor said that finding no cancer,  really ups my chance of the cancer not returning!  Luckily, Bianca was able to come and be my 'right arm' for the week.  A lot of 'food for thought' moments have happened recently.  I think when life slows down, we are more able to take a look at the little things that so often go unnoticed.  For example... on my first outing (lunch out at a restaurant), we just happened to bump into some of the teachers and students from my school.  I had really been missing them, but knew 'Meet the Teacher' would have been way too much for me.  On another outing to a dress shop, a sales lady mentioned to me that she was also a 'member of the club' when she noticed my drain.  I thought I was going to start bawling.  She then proceeded to share with me her scars and experiences.  Before we knew it, two sales ladies, another customer and myself were all sharing about our breast cancer experiences.  Four out the five women in the room were bc survivors!  (Sort of an impromtu bc support meeting.)  On our way home from that, we stopped at a recently opened New Orleans themed restaurant that had advertised live Dixieland Jazz on Sundays.  Of course I had to make some requests and talk with the musicians.  It brought back some memories of times with my mom(a professional musician).  Today, Bianca called to say flowers would be delivered from a friend of hers in DC who wanted to brighten my day.  The flowers had a gigantic 'breast cancer pink' lily in the middle of the arrangement.  I started crying upon seeing it.  I was really moved that someone who doesn't even know me would think to send flowers.  I have started trying to support others going through cancer and actually felt like an oldtimer in the chemo room this week.  While I no longer receive true chemo, I am continuing to get a drug that keeps my cancer from returning.  Radiation will start in another few weeks.  In the meantime, I am doing my best to appreciate life and reach out to others when the opportunities arise.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Answers to Prayer and Life's Lessons

Sorry it has been so long since I last posted, but I was bedridden over the summer.  I couldn't stand for longer than two seconds without intense pain. My son had to bring me in to the doctor on a wheelchair to discuss whether or not to continue chemo.  My doctor and I elected to not have the sixth and final chemo treatment due to my poor condition and the fact that the tumor has been gone since after the third treatment  My insurance is now covering at 100%!  What a relief!!  When I met with the surgeon, she said since my tumor is gone, I can have a lumpectomy!!  I started crying I was so overjoyed!! That was an answer to a prayer I didn't even think I could pray!   The surgeon is  also going to leave some of the lymph nodes so that I should be able to continue being able to play the violin and piano without any problems with my arm!  There have also been some other big answers to prayer in other areas of my life as well!  I will say that you really never know what you can do until you are put in the position.  I think we find strength we didn't realize we had.  Having cancer really changes your life and I don't just mean in a negative way.  I have already learned so many things about myself and the way I think about things.  It puts a new perspective on what's really important.  I also appreciate things more.  I always knew music was a part of my life, but when the use of my arm was in question, I got really worried.  I never expected to have to give up that part of my life, in order to have my life!  Obviously, saving my life is at the top of the ladder, but I didn't think I might have to give up the use of my arm to accomplish that.  I now have a greater appreciation for the people and relationships in my life.  I could never thank everyone who has been there for me enough!  It also has me thinking that I have that same opportunity to minister to others.  As far as my health, I realize that I can no longer take that for granted.  Regular checkups, testing, proper nutrition and everyday exercise will now be a part of my life.  Basically, everything is tested and turned upside down when you get  a major health challenge.  Surgery is  next week (August 9).  I'll try to post again after that.

Mission Pink: Answers to Prayer and Life's Lessons

Mission Pink: Answers to Prayer and Life's Lessons: "Sorry it has been so long since I last posted, but I was bedridden over the summer. I couldn't stand for longer than two seconds without in..."

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Momma

I went out for ice cream tonight and had a wonderful flashback memory to one of the things that makes my mom so great. There are a thousand big reason, like being strong and inspiring(it's true, she inspires me every single day with how upbeat she is when she feels like shit), but it was a really small reason tonight why I remembered why she is so awesome.

When she would take my brother and I to the beach during the summer we would stop and get doughnuts at those Dunkin/Baskin Robbins combo places for breakfast on the way and she would always let me get ice cream for breakfast.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who does that!?

The one thing that has been helpful to get through the week after chemo treatments is a home nurse who gives my mom an IV of hydration and nausea medicine.

The nurse who was coming was awful. To the point that one weekend she went away for the weekend, didn't arrange for someone to cover her, and then pretended she didn't know who my mom was when the nurses office called to inquire about it. That weekend by Sunday afternoon when a nurse finally came to cover my mom passed out in bed while he was washing his hands, then started throwing up all over the place by the time he brought her back to. Whereas normally the help of the nurse and the IV those things would be under control.

I finally convinced her that she needed to call and request someone new.

Well I met said new lady while I was home and that bitch started talking to my mom about hospice, saying that was where most of her patients go. My mom answered that in fact she was not one of those patients that she is actually one of the ones who will be getting better. And the nurse did not back peddle of reaffirm that sentiment, she just shrugged her fing shoulders. WHO DOES THAT?

THEN she turned the conversation to lecturing my mom about how she may be short on home visits and about how those may be running out, or have already run out but she could help her find out till Tuesday. Great lady put her into a panic about if the help she needs will be able to continue.

What happened to the days of medical help who care about you getting better and being kind? Do I need to hire a candy stripper to get some kindness up in this joint? Or at least someone who shows up when they are supposed to and doesn't suggest you consider end of life care.

Vent over....well at least until I feel the "WTF" rage again about that lady.

Like a library book...

This post is long overdue and I have no excuse other than that my dog ate my post. Or that there has just been so much happening that it was hard to sit down and put pen to paper...or in this case fingers to keys.

So prior to the last two chemo treatments the doctor made the same two statements.

1. He thinks the cancer part of the tumor is gone, and what remains is just scar tissue left from having multiple biopisies.

2. My mom is brave and amazing because she has endured symptoms far longer than any patient he had ever cared for. That her symptoms were so bad and more people had opted out to surgery for less.

I went home over the 4th of July weekend to care for her after her chemo treatment and spent the whole weekend in bed hanging out with her with the exception of Saturday night which also included a trip to the hospital.

During the day her urine began to include blood which is unusual for her given the kind of cancer she has, and by evening it was accompanied by a sharp pain in her side that even the Valium refused to help. Right as my friend Kelly walked through the door to visit us I was packing her up to take her to the ER and I just looked at her and said don't you go anywhere, so she followed along(bless her heart, but she comes from good genes since her momma is the wonderful lady who has been a pillar for my mom). We were very blessed that when we got there the room was completely empty so we were ushered right back and actually were back on our way home about three hours later because it turned out to be a kidney stone that she passed before we even made it to the hospital. Thank God that is all it was.

The week that followed included severe symptoms to the point that she could not get out of bed by Thursday a week later, and by Friday she was so upset about the state of her condition she insisted on visiting the doctor. I am so glad she did because she was reaching an unhealthy state that I had not seen her in no matter how bad it had gotten. She and the doctor decided that it was best to be done with chemo treatments, seeing as there was only one left and the doctor said it was not medically necessary. So that leaves us at waiting for her to build up some strength(which she gets more of each day) so that she can visit the surgeon to determine how the next step will play out.


Today on Washingtonian Magazines website I saw an article called When a Breast Cancer Surgeon's Mother Undergoes a Double Mastectomy.  

It is a lengthy title but the article drew my attention, and nine pages later my heart was in it. 

The questions she is asking has been on my heart since this all began, what will I do. 

How will I prevent myself from ending up fighting for my life. 

It is a serious question that has now entered my life, and I don't know what I would do. Live my life knowing I could have to deal with this at any moment, or take a preemptive strike and drastically remove them. At this point I don't know that I will find out if I carry the gene because my moms insurance will not pay for the test.

What would you do? I'd like to think that my faith in God is strong enough that I could go not knowing and just be diligent in medical maintenance and trust that God has a plan for my life and what is meant to be will happen.

But on the other hand, should I ever want to have children, do I want them their poor little hearts to have to endure seeing their mother going through chemo treatments and having to have the fear of the unknown future. If you can reduce your chances down to 10% percent chance of getting breast cancer just by having them taken off(granted only if you carry the gene) do you do it?

How do you ever make a choice like that.



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh make me over.

In the beginning of all of this my friend Rachel offered for my mom to come over to the mall and have a makeover done to lift here spirits. At the time she wasn't really up to it, but last weekend my mom was feeling a little down so Rachel agreed to have her come on down.

Rachel is probably the sweetest person you will ever meet. Literally EVER. She was just what my mom needed, and from what I hear she left looking and feeling fabulous.

My mother to me is so beautiful, and she has taught me to be a lady and to dress properly and to take care with my hair and make up, so I love that someone was kind enough to take the time to make her feel special.

On a side note, apparently she keeps forgetting to put her wig on. She'll walk the dog, go through the drive through, and most recently went to the bank without it. I am glad it doesn't bother her, but she has been cracking me up over it. She told me yesterday she couldn't remember if she wore it to the bank, but that she didn't care, people were just going to need to get over it.

Oh and by the way, I am on the phone with her as I am writing this and she is STILL talking about how good Rachel was at showing her how to draw on eyebrows(since she has now lost both brows and lashes). I swear we have been talking about eyebrows for 15 minutes already...


National Race for the Cure

Over 40,000 people showed up yesterday for the National Race for the cure. Each participant had to pay at least 40 dollars to participate, and at that price per person and multiply that by 40,000 people and that is 1,600,000 dollars raised not including any money that individuals raised or companies that matched fund raising.

I walked/ran with two of my friends, my roommate Carrie and my friend from work Nika, which I appreciated so much. It is a commitment to get up that early on a Saturday to be squished into a small area with a large group of people, and it just shows how wonderful people are to do things to support my family.

There were women in wheelchairs being pushed by their family members, which made my heart smile. It was hard just getting on the metro to go there because the train was packed full of people going to the race, it was all I could do not to cry.

I kept thinking the whole way that one day it would be my mom and I walking together, but she'll be wearing a pink survivor t-shirt because this will all finally be passed us and we will be walking to celebrate her victory and for the hope that there will be a future that does not involve the pain and agony of breast cancer.

I am so thankful to all of my wonderful friends and family who donated when they didn't even have to. Friends of mine who have never even met my mom willing gave in support of me because they know the struggle I have being away from her now. So thank you, because it means the world to us.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shopping for a Cure

There are so many things you can participate in to help raise money for research for a cure, and Vera Bradly does a great job with this! They have a foundation, but on top of that they release new patterns that are pink(because lets face it, that is the miss go pink...ok enough of my cheese) and a portion of the sale of that item will go to research.

My favorites have been

(big surprise there being the republican that I am)

And currently you can purchase:

According to their site Vera Bradley has donated over 3 million dollars to breast cancer research.

Bored Much?

Saturday, May 21, 2011


My Race for the Cure team is finally started! I am participating on a team with ladies from the other Loft stores in the area as part of the Loft Cares foundation.

Please donate to the team, our race is June 4, 2011 in Washington, DC and is actually the National Race for the Cure. To donate to myself, you can click here! 

I would also like to start mentioning someone else who is doing great things to bring awareness to the cause, my cousin Christia! She is being VERY brave and participating in the 3 Day for the Cure in Tampa this October! She has a minimum goal she has to meet so please consider helping her out sometime in the next few months for her race in October! You can donate to Christia here

New Haircut

All I can say is my mom is the bravest person in the entire world; she shaved her head AND she is letting me post pictures of it on the internet.

The look on her face just about kills me in the first one, but wait till you see her in her wig because I swear it looks JUST like her real hair!
Still as lovely as ever!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What's shakin.

A proper update is necessary, but this time I have a good excuse. I got a job so life has been a little busy tying up loose ends all week so that I can start next week.
The trip home for Easter was nice, but it was also shadowed by stress. The day before I came home we encountered a rather unfortunate situation, an unpleasant feeling that had been developing with her oncologist came to a point where the relationship needed to be discontinued. There isn’t a need to get into the details, but in the end we didn’t feel like she was getting the care she needed.
Luckily while she was in the hospital a different doctor from the same practice took care of her and she really felt like she connected with him. Sill three weeks or so after having her first experience with him she still will tell everyone about how he came in and put his hand on her arm and called her by name saying “Lisa how are you feeling? What can I do to make you feel better?”
The best part of the whole thing is that she calls him McDreamy because apparently he is of the attractive status of one of my favorite TV doctors. But the real kicker that sealed the deal for us was that he is from the same town in Georgia as part of our family.
The second treatment was given last Thursday and it was rough, but this doctor is committed to doing everything he can to see her through this and keep her on the trial drug.
He gave us the best news we have heard since all of this began, the tumor has already shrunk from 5.5 in size originally and has shrunk to 3.5 since the first full treatment! This is the only time that I think shrinkage is ever a good thing. I can’t even hardly process this new, it is just THAT good! Did I mention it is no longer in the lymph nodes either!
The week since chemo has been trying, but nowhere near to the extent that it was before; only one IV treatment to get through the week.
The hair situation is becoming tricky. Her head hurts and is sensitive where it is falling out, and falling out it is. To the point where we have had the first appearance of a scarf this week as well as an upcoming performance by my dad’s clippers this weekend.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Unspoken Bond

I'm already starting to realize that there is an unspoken bond between cancer patients.  Obviously we don't have to explain,  but we do share our stories.  Maybe it's like veterans, just of  private battles and another war.  Yesterday, I was in the chemo room getting some IVs.  Before going back, one woman in the waiting room asked how I was doing as she could see that I was dealing with some of the unmentionable side effects.  Another one of my cohorts, exclaimed "Hey Beautiful!".  I hadn't even noticed her sitting there.  She is on her second tour of duty.  Once back in the chair, another women who had seen me waiting earlier said she hoped I would feel better.  She I found out, has stage 4 bc and yet was worried about me.  Upon leaving, yet another patient wanted to give me a ride home as I waited for my friend.  She said, "We have to stick together you know".  Support beyond belief.   And so I salute,  the veterans.

Life Goes On

And it should.  It's just that the challenges in all areas of life don't stop.  They just don't pull back, because there has been a bc diagnosis.  After a  couple of sleepless nights and some answers to prayer, we are once again back on track.  There were  some bright spots too though.  One of the funnier happenings was when the girls were home for Easter and I thought I spotted some cellulite on the back of my leg.  I quickly declared that I could deal with the cancer, but cellulite too!  Come on!  To make me feel better, they quickly chimed in showing me their cellutite and strech marks.  After losing 14 lbs, there really isn't much firm flesh let alone muscle tone left.  Another day after getting out of the shower, I attempted to do some leg lifts while laying in bed.  Cellulite and saging flesh!  Oh well, I guess there will be more time for that later on.  It just makes me realize that routine tasks that we all too often complain about, like grocery shopping and exercise, are really a privilege.  On a more serious note, I have unfortunately had two severe reactions to the drugs.  After my next treatment, I will have home health care bringing daily IVs.  We just can't give in to this thing.   And remember, I'm not a fighter. I am however determined and willing to perservere.  I am giving it my all... I have too.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Whatever it takes.

While I was home the goal was to do whatever it takes to make her feel better and just relax and enjoy herself.

This included pedicures and manicures....

But it also included some unwanted loss. 

A couple of years ago when someone else very close to me battled cancer I offered to her that I would cut my hair and donate it to locks of love. Anyone who knows me, knows that my long hair has been my thing, it's my look. Well solidarity won over and this was the result...

My lovely roommate also joined me in haircuts. She is my support who listens to me while I am stuck in Virginia always on the phone getting updates from everyone and pacing because nobody else is taking care of her the way I would, so she said she couldn't let me do it alone. We both took off about 6 inches.

I would have done more, or shaved right with her, but one I had to fight with my mom to do it anyways, but also it is my family's private burden, and anything more drastic and I'd have to explain to everyone where it came from, and that is only something I want to share when I feel comfortable with it.

The funny thing is that I know have the "Lisa Haircut".

Happy Easter

It will take me a feel days to get caught up from the days that I was gone, but I promise I will because a lot has happened since then that simply must be shared. I will warn you now, some of it might be a little bit ugly, but some of it is amazing.

We had a lovely Easter dinner together as a family, and just tried to enjoy the little bit of time that we got together for the weekend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Today I stumbled upon this Blog, Family "Bonding" Time and I couldn't help but read for an hour. This couple is amazing both going through serious bouts with cancer together while fighting to be there for their 18 month old daughter. The wife has breast cancer too so some of the things she is going through are similar to my mom and she is pretty much right on the same time frame as my mom.

Their blog spoke to me because of one specific part:

Don't get me wrong.  If I had the choice for Nathan and I NOT to have cancer, I would take it.  In a heartbeat, I would take it for Sadie's sake, for our parents and for all those people who love us and worry about us.   We didn't choose our diagnoses,  but we do choose to be in a state of gratitude.  There is too much love and healing coming our way not to feel blessed.    

I have said these same type things all along, is that while this situation is horrible, we have been SO blessed by the love and support of our little community. So, thank you. 

Florida or Bust

Just a fair warning, I am Florida bound tomorrow evening as of 5 pm! This may or may not reflect in the amount of posting I do, but there will be a full update when I get back, and since I'll be there to encourage her maybe my mom will muster it up to post.

I am thrilled to be going home to spend some time with her and try and lift her spirits and I have a few surprises up my sleeve and there will be plenty of pictures.

Monday, April 18, 2011

We're Outta There

I suppose when you face something that you know you need to anticipate many difficult days with, you try and celebrate the milestones no matter how big or small.

Today we are shouting for joy over the fact the she is now OUT OF THE HOSPITAL!

We don't know what will happen in the days to come, or the next time she has to receive a chemo treatment, but those are not what is important to focus on at this moment. What is VERY important is that she is no longer dependent on being in the hospital, so we are going to focus on this moment.

The Florida count down is 3 days and some odd hours, and I have a flippin cough STILL left over from that bout with the flu a month ago. Which is awful not because I sound disgusting to be around(although the annoyingness of sounding like I have the plague is a factor) but because I really can't be around her with this. I don't feel sick, but it is important to be very careful with germs so my first stop on my tour de Orlando will be the doctors office and possibly to get a doctors mask to cover my cough.

We may be spending the whole week at the house, but all I'm sayin is it is better than spending the week at the hospital!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

From the moment we learned of her diagnosis the first steps was to figure out a game plan for how life was going to continue in our house and who would help her. The most obvious choice was my brother, Omeed.

We all knew it would come with challenges, he is twenty, a college student, and busy with his life of friends and being young and has never had to have responsibilities of this nature.

However, despite all of that he is one of the most compassionate people I know. There have been plenty of times when I have been hurting and in his attempts to comfort me I could tell he was taking on part of my pain. Sure it may come off awkward because he doesn't know what to say, but he listens and he cares. He is so loving that every time I have spoken to him since I have moved to Washington he insists on telling me he loves me before he'll hang up. Yes even in front of his friends.

So yes he is loving and compassionate, but lets not forget the challenges we already discussed. Twenty. College kid. Life with friends.Without the details lets just say it was a rocky start.

I am here today though to tell you that the kid who I knew was full of compassion really is. He has been there this week rushing from school and work to home all hours of the day to care for her.

This week he has cleaned up puke without being asked. Been her cheerleader to make her drink to the point that he said he was holding the cup up to her lips to make her drink. He has driven to appointments. Made phone calls to everyone she has ever known. And spent most of his Friday night in her hospital room.

Through all the things he has done in his life to this point or will ever do again, not a single thing would make me more proud that the devotion he is now showing to her.


8 Days Later...

Eight days after getting her first full chemo treatment on April 7 my mom is now in the hospital. About two and a half days after the treatment she became very ill saying that her body was just heavy and achy, then came the nausea, then came the vomiting a few days after that.  Which is really where the problem came in, because she became severely dehydrated so after begging to go to the doctor because her body hurt they hooked her up to an IV and she felt better for a little bit until the vomit set back in.
Thursday evening after a quick call to the on-call doctor by Mrs. B informed us that this really is not normal, because at first we contributed it to being the first treatment(the actual first time she was hooked up to a chemo drug it was Herceptin only, which is known for not having as strong of side effects as the other parts of her "cocktail") however as the days went by it was clear this was not normal. Every time she even had a sip of water she would complain of cramps in her stomach.
Yesterday morning after an early trip to the doctor they admitted her to the hospital to keep her and monitor her. We have not gotten a clear answer as to WHY it has been this bad, because the one thing that has been made to us clear to us is that it SHOULDN'T be like this. In the afternoon they moved her to a more permanent room, but we have no idea for how long.
From the pieces we have been able to put together(because I guess maybe for liabilities purposes the doctor can't say as much) is that they were trying to treat it aggressively and she perhaps received too much. 
It is hard not to be able to be there to take care of her, but my Aunt Sheila drove up for the weekend to help since she was admitted, Omeed is there with her, and in just a few more days I'll be there too.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Speak of the Devil

Having JUST made a post about Susan G Komen, imagine my surprise when I get to work today and find that it is their lobby day on the hill. Once they made their way to our office I sat in on the meeting with them

Most of what we talked about I knew, however they had a couple of extra things to say that made my day!

1. The breast cancer stamp was started in 1998 and has raised over 71 million dollars for research. It is up for re-authorization and it is SUCH an easy way to raise money it should continue to do so!
2. A large part of their research funding is going towards creating a breast cancer vaccine. How amazing is that? It hasn't made it past rats, however none of the rats developed tumors whereas those without the vaccine did. It would be given to women in their 40's who are no longer nursing and are beginning to be more susceptible due to age. It still has a long road ahead of it but I think that it is fabulous that it has made it to this point. Article on the Subject

3. The average 5 year survival life expectancy when the organization was founded 30 years ago was 70%, now it is 98%.

4. And as another encouragement to everyone to participate in the Race for the Cure, all proceeds from the local races go right back into the local communities to support education and early detection services. The 3 Day for the Cure funds the national organization- all are important. BUT if those funds remain local in part, then it could be one of your friends who needs to use those community services.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Race for the Cure

This June I will be running in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure. I have done it before, but right after all of this started I knew I wanted to do it again and make it an annual event.
I have been trying to focus for awhile on making lifestyle changes to be healthier; you know eating better and working out more. So my goal is to run, but the goal is just to cross the finish line, so I encourage all of you to join, fund raise, and crawl across the finish line!
The race is a 5K, which is only just over 3 miles, easily comparable to a marathon shopping trip(well the way we shop anyways). In other words it's not that far!
As far as fund raising goes, ask each of your friends or coworkers if they could spare just a couple of dollars, just one skipped coffee from Starbucks is a five dollar donation and even if it's just 10 people who give, well that is fifty dollars!
I happen to be doing the MS Walk in DC this weekend and I have been amazed by how gracious my friends have been when donating when all I asked for was 5 dollars from each! (For those of you reading...again THANK YOU!) I received a donation from my cousin last night and it led to her letting me know that she planned on walking for my mom in the race in Tampa this fall. This touched my heart and I knew it would touch my moms as well. Today she had been having a horrible day(her and food are not exactly friends right now, however she has become BEST buddies with the nausea medicine!) When I called to check on her I mentioned that my cousin would be participating in the race this fall and I'll tell you out of the entire 20 minute conversation we had it was the only time I heard a glimpse of hope or happiness out of her.
I'll be walking for my mom, but she is not the only one who deserves to be walked for. Everyone has a connection to someone and if we don't make efforts to support organizations that donate to research it could be one of us who is healthy today that is finding out tomorrow it's our turn to fight.


Race for the Cure

Savannah, GA     Saturday, April 16, 2011
Atlanta, GA     Saturday, May 07, 2011 
Washington DC, DC     Saturday, June 04, 2011St. Petersburg, FL     Saturday, October 01, 2011
Jacksonville, FL     Saturday, October 22, 2011
Miami, FL     Saturday, October 15, 2011
Macon, GA     Saturday, October 15, 2011   

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Recent News

This past Wednesday my Aunt Phyllis made the trip down from Georgia to help my mom get through the first week of full on chemo treatments, which she received on Thursday. Being her friendly self she made friends with the people in the waiting room, and a couple who have both had, and the husband currently has cancer they offered their support to check on my mom and already called later that day. Again with the massive amounts of generosity from everyone even strangers in their case.
She seemed to be okay for the first two days, just normal tired. Friday she got her booster shot, and then Saturday she had to get a brain scan done. She has been complaining of headaches at a severe level of pain so the doctor said she didn't expect anything to be found but she had to take the necessary steps because she was feeling them enough to mention it.
Then Saturday evening hit and when I called she said she felt like she had the flu, meaning the symptoms had finally hit.
Sadly my aunt left this morning, but she was so helpful while she was there, picking up, cleaning, running errands, all the things my mom no longer has time or energy for.
Unfortunately the rest of the day didn't go very well, between our morning phone call and our evening update apparently a break down occurred.
I was out driving to run errands while we were chatting, and while she sounded like she felt better than she had all day, she admitted to her rough day, and it killed me. One thing I can say for my mom is that since day one she has had nothing but positive things to say, and wouldn't ever admit for a second that she might let this get the better of her, but apparently that resolve just wasn't as strong.
Every night I not only pray for God to heel her, but to  let her know how strong she is, and today she just wasn't feeling it. It just seemed easier to give into the pain she was feeling and wallow in the uncertainty of how on earth she was gonna make it until July feeling like this.
A few weeks ago we happened to find out that our next door neighbor also had breast cancer a few years ago, and today she had perfect timing calling at the exact time my mom was needing a friendly face to tell her she'll make it through. She found comfort in the fact that she is right next door and said she would come over any time day or night for any reason at all. Again with that reoccurring theme of generosity from all corners of the world.
And in better news only ELEVEN days till I'll be back in Florida to administer cheer and happiness even if only for a few days.


A Hairy Situation

Everyone knows when they see a woman with a bald head it means she has cancer, it is like a billboard that says "I have cancer." Which is distressing because who wants everyone to know that business? However on the other hand it says "I am fighting hard and I want anyone and everyone to know it."
Everyone has a different approach. Bald is beautiful. Wig. Scarfs. I guess you could compare it to the personal preference each person has for what kind of shampoo they use.
We got a wig(well okay she got a wig) however I haven't seen it yet since it has been since the last time I saw her. The American Cancer Society was nice enough to give her one, because I don't know when the last time yall when wig shopping was but those puppies are not cheap unless of course you are looking for the "I just climbed off my pole" look.

When this first started one of the doctors told us that the best place in town to go was Ritzy Rags, the local drag store. Makes sense after hearing it because, well who else would want to look as good and believable in their wig as a woman? Well a drag queen of course. They were so nice there and they looked SO much like her real hair and they offered plenty of discounts, and I feel like we both left feeling better. (Well and to be honest I felt like I might want a wig too because who wouldn't want to have perfect hair every day of their life for the low cost of 300 dollars?!)
The other thing I have been doing is buying scarfs like crazy, any time I see one that looks pretty or bright I pick it up which has started quite the collection!
Every day of my life my mom has done her hair. She gets that blow dryer out and does her bangs and she makes the same movements to do her hair, it never changes. I have always kidded her that she needs to change up her look and update it, not that it is out of date, just something other than the lovingly termed "Lisa cut" which I remember her having for at least the 25 years I have been alive.

Not being there on a daily basis I have been having a hard time coping with the fact that sometime in the near future I am gonna take a trip home and she is not gonna look like her. No auburn hair, with bangs, cut to the chin and flipped under. It's either not gonna look like that, or not be there at all. And for her sake I just don't wanna cry, because I know it has got to be hard enough to lose your hair, something that women really identify themselves by. Not to mention the fact that you're losing your hair because your other womanly feature(ya know the boobies) are waging war on your body.
It is all hard to grasp when you've spend your life priding yourself on being a lovely lady, and I think she is the loveliest of all ladies.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Save the Tatas

Our family obviously supports breast cancer research, because that research lead to a trial that is now helping my mom.
One of my favorites is Save the tatas! Lets face it, it is mainly because they have a fabulous slogan and who doesn't want to wear a t-shirt that says tatas on it? (I own one. It is a tank top that says fabulous tatas.)

Every 50,000 dollars worth of donations they raise supports a researcher for an entire year, research that makes a difference every single day in survival rates.

Save the tatas

A lesson learned.

The one biggest lesson I have learned from this whole adventure is the generosity that everyone has blessed us with. Over and over again I feel truly blessed that we have a life with so many loving family members and friends.

The part that truly touches my heart is that those who have no need or obligation to give have given more than I could have ever expected. To see how many people care about my mom, even those who may not know her hardly at all, want to give.

They give gifts to make her comfortable, gifts to distract her, gift cards to help with groceries, or money to help with doctors visits. More than anything else they give their time through endless phone calls, assistance with going to doctors appointments or the grocery store, helping to clean up the house or yard, anything she could possibly need. It warms my heart and makes me feel better than anything else has, and it is because it makes me feel better about being far away.

Thank you everyone for your endless generosity, it is humbling to remember in the midst of such a difficult time for our family how truly bless we are with amazing people in our lives.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Humble Pie

I've never been Barbie, but I have always enjoyed putting my package together.  I learned from my mom at an early age how to pull it together with clothing, accessories and makeup.  I was graced with blemish free skin, a slight build, dark brown hair and blue eyes.  I don't think I'm vain , but I have always taken pride in looking my best.  I guess you could say that I took my looks for granted.  Well, on day 4 of the golden pills, my niece said, " I don't know how to tell you, but your face doesn't look quite right!"  I immediately ran to the mirror to take a look and discovered my entire face, neck and chest were covered in red unsightly bumps.  For two days, I chose not to wear makeup so as to not agrevate the condition and started taking allergy meds as per the dr.  Jump ahead two days, I found myself trying to get it together for a date.  If I thought dating in my 40s was a challenge, just imagine adding in being a chemo patient.  I walk extra slow to steady myself, will only wear flats and  my roots were showing.  Humbling to say the least.  I found myself feeling guilty about still being concerned with my looks.  Obviously, my priorities and perspective have changed, but is it wrong for me to still want to look my best?  I still want to be desirable and attractive.  My niece did a stellar job on my makeup and styled my hair like Marilyn Monroe.  We pulled together an outfit in a relaxed casual style with coordinating jewelry, purse and shoes.  I may be a bc patient, but I still can retain a feeling of beauty and grace.   

The River of Tears

I could feel a weekness coming on...As I was waiting to be called back into the chemo room, I felt a weekness in my brave front.  My bc facade was cracking.  I was trying desparately inside to toughen up, but as my name was called and my niece gave me a hug goodbye, the flood gates opened.  I felt like a kid going off to camp with my pillow, blanket and tote bag.  I didn't want to continue, but the nurses gave me a tissue and lead me back to the chair.  I briefly scanned the room only to notice I was the only patient under 75 years of age in the room.  I couldn't believe I had let myself  be so weak and vulnerable.  In the presence of veterans, I was showing weekness.  I think it was an emotional release... in retrospect it had to happen.  I realized that this bc thing is really happening and I can't just click my heels three times and go home.  Whenever my daughter and I go out and I don't feel that I want to be wherever it is, I just exclaim "Toto, I want to go home".  This time I had to continue down the ominous yellow brick road.  I could see the veterans looking at me and I could feel the strength they were sending me.  Although they couldn't just get up and hug me, their eyes were saying, we've travelled this road and we are with you...  it's going to be OK.  The truth is, I didn't even feel the port being accessed.  When the nurse announced that the golden pills were being brought to me, my emotions changed from fear and sadness to total elation.  The bc wall was patched and I am now continuing down the yellow brick road. 

Monday, March 21, 2011


First of all, sorry for the delay in an update. Both our bloggers have been a little under the weather, myself with the flu and my mom with side affects.

This past Thursday, Saint Patrick's Day, she started chemo. It was not the full chemo, only the herceptin. It was a starter does to ease her into it, kinda like the training bra of chemo.

We got GREAT news that we had been waiting to find out, which was what branch of the clinical trial she would be participating in.The three options were
1- Basic standard of care.
2- Standard care plus chemo pills.
3- Standard care, plus trial chemo, plus chemo pills
With the aggressive type of tumor she has, the clinical trial is trying to prove that the extra treatments work better in preventing the cancer from coming back, so needless to say we were super excited to learn that she would be in that branch! However it means we are now knee deep in symptoms and apparently having an allergic reaction. But we are pressing through!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Poster Child

My mom asked me at one point why I thought this was God's plan for her, and we both agreed that it was so that she could be an example to others.

A friend of mine from work messaged me online and wanted to know how I was doing and what was new in my life, and since we have been close I did tell her about the recent developments in my family's life. She expressed her sentiments of how sorry she was and that she wanted to be supportive in any way we needed.

Then there was a pause where she didn't respond. I didn't think much of it because we were supposed to be working in our respective offices.

 I hate to admit it, but she'll be the first to tell you, my mom hates anything medical. There were a thousand things she would rather do in her life before doing voluntary testing, so it was in fact by the grace of God that she found her tumor at all. She is now what she likes to refer to as "the mammogram poster child" and is advocating that every person she ever meets takes every possible step to ensure that they are active in preventive health measures.

I am happy to report she has reached her first victim :)

My friend finally returned to our conversation and said that she had just called her mom to tell her to schedule a check up as soon as possible, hearing about my mom was the second time in the past few weeks she had heard of someone discovering they had breast cancer, and the other was as young as she and I are.

It is so important to get tested and to be aware of your family health history, and most people(ourselves probably included in that) assume that it will not happen to them(or hope that their denial with put it off long enough) but the earlier they catch it the better. I am not exactly looking forward to a life full of mammograms, but seeing that I now have a family history I will be following doctors suggestions and urge you to as well!



I have never before in my life seen such networking, as I have experienced firsthand in the past three weeks.  Due to prayer and the perserverance of my radiologist, I had testing, a diognosis, and had met with both the breast cancer surgeon and oncologist, all in the very first week!  I have never seen such a call and such dedication to one's work...the call to save lives.  Within the circle of women I know, it was no different.  People putting me on prayer lists and putting the names and phone numbers of other survivors in my hands.  Offers of food and transportation have flooded in.  If ever there was a doubt that I was loved and cared for... I have never felt so loved!   My good friend of over 20 years was right beside me as we were given the news.  She even did as I asked and called my daughter to give her the news (albeit a glass of wine in her hand was required first).  I now have what is called a buddy.  My buddy was handpicked by my surgeon to help navigate me through this journey.  Although she is about to start radiation herself, she has already offered to drive me home from my chemo treatments.  So even in the midst of turmoil and strife,  one is still lending help and support.  To all of these women,  I say thank you!


The Mission

     A mission is something you choose to accept.  There is the alternative I suppose, but not in my book.  I am gearing up for the ride of my life...literally.  Some may say this would involve fighting.  That is a word I shy away from.  I have always been more of a lover.  Determined is probably more how I feel.  I can be very competitive (I dare you to a game of Scrabble, cards or to outplay me on a  Bluegrass lick).  I usually try to be a Positive Polly.  My daughter has warned that there will be no Negative Nellies along on this ride.  My first career choice in life came at about the age of four.  I wanted and still want to be a cowgirl.  I wouldn't go anywhere without my boots (except church...I didn't even dare ask!).  I still want to take up horseback riding.  And as my brother Fulton once told me, sister, you're going to have to buck up.  So long for now...see you on the trail.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Problems With Clinicals

We are lucky enough that my mom has the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial, it is great news because it means her chemo schedule will allow her a better work and recovery schedule. Also out of the three options of chemo medicines to get, two are in the final stages of being approved for mass use, and are proven to be strong in stopping the return of the tumor as the HER-2 tumors can be aggressive in returning.
 But apparently it means you have to get a second biopsy, most would think that means that it would go the same way the first one needed for diagnoses, however as we found out today it is much worse than the first one. The doctor said that the biggest downfall she finds to clinical trials  is that having to have any follow up biopsies, and unfortunately she has to have two to participate in the clinical trial.
But I'm gonna choose to focus on the positive, this is gonna help her and it could be better than the treatment she was going to get. As crazy as it sounds, my mom believes in what she calls "the universe" and what she means by it is if you are positive and you see things the way you want them to happen they will happen. Well I see her being in remission and being a survivor and I'm positive that the clinical trial will help bring her there.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Can You Do?

There are times in your life where you just do not know which words to begin with to explain the current state of your life or how you feel about something.My name is Bianca, and normally I do not ever lack for words. My mom's name is Lisa, and she doesn't usually lack for words either, she is just more selective about what she says.

Two weeks ago we received news that rocks the lives of 1 in 7 women every year, my mom has breast cancer.

Where do you go from that? How do you help your lovely mother who has become your best friend(well you know once we got out of the horrible teenage phase) move forward down the most difficult path she has taken yet from exactly 845 miles away from where she lives in sunny Florida?

Well apparently you take a week off, fly home, get a crash course in breast cancer, clean said mothers house, buy a fabulous tatas tshirt, and start a blog. 

Which is where I am now, starting a blog because it keeps us connected, and because we were/are a little clueless. It was a harsh brush with reality when our family found out that a PET scan has nothing to do with determining which dog would best compliment the rather spoiled jack russell terrior we already have.

(For the record: a PET scan is a method of viewing the inside of your body through x-ray but also involves digesting neon liquid to make your insides more visible. Our dog thinks he is the only dog worth having, so he was glad to hear that we were not undergoing interviews to bring a new dog into the house.)

Nobody ever wants to find out that their parent has cancer, but when it happens you just adjust and find a way to do everything you can to help them fight like hell. It kills me that I can't be closer to do more, but my life right now has me away from home, so if writing about it makes any of us feel better then I will record our journey. What else can you do?