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?