Thank you

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Hello, my name is Kaitlyn and I am Barb’s oldest daughter. On August 13 my mother passed away after 6 long years battling breast cancer. It was a peaceful passing but I will miss her until my dying day. I wanted to thank all of you for following her blog, for lifting her spirits and for accepting her for who she was. Every time she got a new reader or follower her eyes would light up and she’d giggle about how happy she was.

My mother was my rock, and my inspiration. I have never met such a strong and powerful woman and I miss her so much it’s like a hole in my chest. As a family, we are taking it day by day.

Please do us a favor and always be aware of your health. Laugh a lot and love everyone. Give your mother a hug if you can and tell her how much you love her. Smile. Drink. Eat good food.

Live. That, above all else must you do.

 

 

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Realizations

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Today is my husband’s birthday and it is also the day I get back my brain MRI results.  For so long I have been focused on how I feel, and how much pain I am or am not in, that it has been the focus of my day.  Last night Brian and I had a pretty large argument which made me realize how much stress he has been under throughout the past few months.  I mean, the past 5.5 years haven’t been a joy ride, but the past 6 months have been exceptionally hard when you add in my implant rupture and removal, the staph infection, my brain tumors, and my bronchitis.  Brian has a lot on his plate too.  Yes people can say I have much to deal with, but he has the same worries and fears, plus the added fear and stress of keeping our house running, paying all the bills, putting food on the table, making sure the kids aren’t fighting and are helping around the house, all while dealing with the fear of losing me.  I never realized all this until last night and it hit me hard. My family has been extremely strong and supportive throughout this whole ordeal and although I have been grateful for them, I haven’t always put myself in their shoes. I haven’t walked their walk or thought about what they are going through. I feel selfish and I realized how much I need to change.

I am nervous for today’s results. But, I have faith things will work out and I will be able to continue my fight, and give back to the cancer community by writing about my journey through this blog.  That has always been my priority in writing this: to teach, and to help others with breast cancer get information and support, and even some laughter. xo

 

Health Update

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I wanted to be open and honest with all of you, as I have been.  I do not know how much longer I can keep up with this blog.  Typing has become challenging with only one hand, and now that it shakes and is weak, typing is hard for me.

My health is declining.  I am still awaiting to have another MRI to see if the whole brain radiation worked or not.  The MRI should be within the next 2-3 weeks.  Part of me knows it didn’t work.  I have bad neuropathy in my toes which is only a side effect of the brain tumors;  My right eye is closed more than my left which it never was, and it hinders my vision when I am reading; my head feels full and heavy and I get sharp pains frequently in the areas that I know tumors are. I have a lot of weakness in my legs and walking is difficult.  My balance is off and my legs are shaky. My right arm has become even more  numb with a big increase of pins and needles in my hand and fingers.

I am unable to do much anymore.  My days are spent on the couch since I can no longer drive, and walking for any distance isn’t a reality. I am not telling you this for pity.  I tell you this because part of my journey when starting this blog last year, was to be honest about my life with breast cancer, and what I would be going through.

I don’t eat much anymore because I either have no appetite, or I am nauseated too much to eat.  The nausea meds don’t work anymore.  The fatigue is debilitating.  I fall asleep constantly and  feel tired all the time.  I feel like jelly inside, and dead.

Emotionally I have good days and bad days.  I’m afraid although my faith is keeping me strong.  My worries are for my three girls and my husband. I don’t want to leave them.  My youngest who is just 14, is especially sensitive and is constantly telling me to not leave her, and how she can’t lose me.  It kills me.  What do I say?  How do you answer that? I think she’s beginning to accept that I am not going to see 80, because the other night she asked me to always be with her even after I die. I told her I’d find a way to be with her always until she was an old lady and ready to come see me in heaven. Things like this leave me empty and in tears, but then I pray and I am comforted and my strength is renewed.

OK so there will be some changes on the blog I want to make everyone aware of.  I am no longer going to do book reviews other than possibly a book I read.  I may not post as much as it depends on the shaking in my hand. I will let you know as long as I can.

If the tumors have not responded to the radiation, there is nothing left to do.  I don’t know what the effects or what the progression will be. I have been told I could have seizures, strokes, confusion, loss of hearing, and loss of speach.  If I reach the point that I can no longer type or communicate,  My oldest daughter will keep you update on what is happening and will let you know when I pass.

I ask for your prayers.  I remain hopeful there will be a iracle and I go into remission for a long time. Thank you for your support and kind words. xo

New Season, New Theme

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With Spring in bloom and the warmer weather on the way I thought I’d change my blog to a more colorful, fun theme.  I love nature, and the last theme I had I loved, but it reminded me of autumn and the cold so onto warmer colors!

It’s going to be warm here today.  We painted our dining room a beautiful charcoal gray on top and there will be bright white panels and trim on bottom and all around.  It looks gorgeous and once this is finished, we only have a few more little things to finish inside and then things turn to out side. I will post a picture of the finished dining room when it is done. Until then, enjoy your week and find things to be thankful for! xo

Bright, Sunshiney Day!

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The weather here the past few days has been gorgeous, and I am slowly beginning to feel better.  I am going to focus on the strong moments and less on the weakness and fatigue as I move forward.

Good weather really affects my mood and attitude.  Does anyone else experience this?  Today is warm and sunny with temps getting into the 70’s tomorrow and Monday.  This type of weather makes me feel uplifted and hopeful.  I love the sun shining on my face and the feeling of warmth that radiates through my body. I love hearing the birds sing and seeing all the migratory breeds return to my bird feeder. I love the blossoms on my Cleveland Pear tree and Japanese cherry tree;  the pink blossoms on my heather bushes, and the heady scent of the purple hyacinth.  Next will be my ultimate favorite: The Lilac bushes. I have a huge purple lilac that grows on the side of my front porch.  I can sit there and breathe in the aroma while reading or just relaxing for hours.  Lilac is my favorite scent of all the spring flowers.  It evokes memories of my childhood that make me smile.  Growing up we had a large bush that had a cave under the branches where my sister and I would play.  My mom would cut flowers and we would give them to our teachers, and she would bring them inside and fill vases with them so we could enjoy the short lived season the most.

Spring’s newness is always filled with hope and promise.  Trees and plants that were dead for the past 6 months, resurrect to become beautiful living things.  We can learn from the seasons and celebrate our lives as the gifts they truly are.  I have learned much the past 5 and a half years and the most important thing is how precious each day is.  Live everyday as if it were your last.  I mean it.  Tell the people you love that you love them.  Smile at strangers; you may be the best part of their day and it cost you nothing. Notice the little things like the clouds, or how the sun reflects off something. Most importantly, thank God for all the good in your life. Laugh everyday.  Hug someone everyday. Eat your favorite sweet every week ( I’d say everyday if it’s a small piece of candy but if it’s cheesecake you’ll be in trouble!).

In conclusion, just get out there, take a deep breath and feel the sunshine on your face and smile. Life doesn’t get much better than that. XO

 

Good Friends Make All The Difference

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Today I had breakfast with a dear friend and her daughter, whom I am also friends with.  Friends come in all ages and although this woman is my mom’s age, over the past 10 years we have become friends. So over I went at 9 am, to a feast fit for 20 rather than 3, but Cheryl is an amazing cook, so I gladly ate some of everything.

Food aside, the best part was being out of the house and the conversation.  Since I am no longer able to drive, I have at times felt housebound.  Being sick for a few weeks didn’t help the situation, but now that I am better, I miss driving.  It was nice walking up the street to her house and feel the air on my face and hear the birds singing.  Cheryl told me all about her cruise to Italy, which she hated, and it was so healing to laugh, and be able to focus on something other than my fatigue and side effects.

Walking home, the sun was shining and it felt great to be out.  I had more energy, and felt my spirits lifted.  My mind was clearer, and it felt good to take in some nice big breaths of springtime air.  I realized that this is what I needed all along.  Cheryl, Danielle, and I made plans to restart our book club, play cards, and have movie nights in order to get me out more, as well as give Cheryl company which she loves.  I think this will help me so much because I cannot just stay cooped up in the house waiting to feel better.  I have to be more proactive in my recovery, and getting out more is just thing to do.

When you are going through cancer treatments it’s sometimes hard to gather the strength it physically and emotionally takes to get out and socialize.  The temporary way you look can make you want to hide, and fatigue can make you just want to sleep.  Remember that these are temporary side effects.  The fatigue will fade even though it may take some time.  Exercise such as going for a short walk, or doing some light housekeeping can actually help your energy level, and build stamina. Socializing and keeping in touch with friends is important.  Not only will your friends make you feel beautiful, they can make you laugh, and take your mind off your problems.  This is so important during treatment because its a reminder that you are still you, just stronger. XO

Pushing Through A Tough Week

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This week has not been fun at all. Still reeling from this chest cold that has kicked my ass has made me yearn for how I felt before.  I can honestly say I have never been this sick. You find a new respect for Oxygen when you cannot breathe. Every move I make or step I take leaves me winded and sucking for air.  Lung x-rays are clear, but Doctor hears wheezing. The Albuterol helps keep airways open, but the side effects of shaking, even in your legs, weakness, and racing pulse are not too fun. Then for a while I feel fine, but then the ,chest tightness moves in and I realize that not coughing for hours isn’t good because as soon as those airways are operational, the coughing jags start and the wheezing comes forward.  I cant even sleep because the weird sounds of the wheezing upon exhale, wake me up!

I think the hardest part of this  entire experience since the implant rupture in December, has been keeping my spirits up and my faith unwavering.  It’s been really hard for me to deal with the roller coaster of emotions and health problems all together.  I get bad news, then I get great news and just as I am feeling happy and safe, bam! I get hit with something bad again. It wears me down and then the mental stress makes my body weak immune wise which is likely how I got this damn chest cold.

I am now on a very strong antibiotic which is slowly working.  Each day I am a tiny bit better, but the weakness  in my legs is going to take a while to build back up. I will continue to push through this as I start my Herceptin and Perjeta for the cancer next Wednesday and want to be healthy enough to start treatment.

Pleases keep me in your prayers, positive thoughts, healing white light, whatever you believe in.  I could use all the good health vibes I can get!

Much love,

Barb xo

 

Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

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Recently I was approached by David Meredith to review his book and he kindly sent me a copy to read.  The Reflections of Queen Snow White was released a while back on Amazon, in the Kindle store, and has many reviews already as an established book.  Personally, I like to review new releases in order to get the word out about the book, in order to increase readership for the author.  Unless it is a rare find or classic that needs to be read.

The book focuses on Snow Whites life on the eve of her only daughter’s wedding.  Prince Charming has been dead for over a year and the Queen is in a state of deep depression, and cannot bring herself to be happy for her daughter or her kingdom.  In a fit of loneliness and despair, the Queen wanders through the castle to find somewhere to be alone.  She comes to a part of the castle, seldom used and climbs a staircase to an old storage room.  There she finds her cruel step mother’s magic mirror.

The mirror offers the queen the chance to find out why she has not been able to move forward after Charming’s death. But can she trust it? Will she have the strength to face her own demons and truths? Will she finally be able to find her “happy ever after” again?

The book, which is written for Young Adults, has a good story line, and held my interest.  Meredith is a good writer who uses rich, descriptive language to create his scenes.  It was a quick read, and I think best suited for 12-14 if the sexual references were removed.  Unfortunately, due to the sexual content I would put 14 as a minimum age for it but I do not think many  over the age of 16 would be interested in the story.  It has to appeal to the Disney crowd and that seems to be fading in many areas, and  my own daughters as well.

I would rate the book at 3 stars out 5 due to the limited group the book is suited for, and the quickness of the read.

SCAN RESULTS AND THE FUTURE!

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Sounds quite mystical doesn’t it?   Eh, it won’t be that exciting or prophetic sorry to say!  I met with my oncologist this morning for my scan results from Monday, and to get my treatment plan started for the cancer in my collar bone.

The scan showed the usual lymph node involvement in my collarbone, neck and trapezius muscle on the right side. There were a few tiny bone lesions in the collar bone as well.  It has never been in my bone, but they are so tiny and slow growing, chemo is not required at this time.  The Dr. was actually very pleased that the cancer was not anywhere else in my body other than where it is after being off all treatments since 12/14.  On next Wednesday, I will begin Herceptin and Perjeta since the cancer is still HER2+.  I will get an infusion of this combo, once very 3 weeks only and there are no side effects at all!  I have tolerated these well in the past so I am happy there.

To strengthen my bones from future fractures or breaks, every 6 weeks they will be adding a medicine to the Herceptin/Perjeta combo called Xgeva.  This will lengthen my session by an hour I think, but in the scheme of things, no biggie!  I also have to begin taking 2000iu of Vitamin D as well as calcium to build up my levels.

So that is it in a nut shell.  I am very pleased with the results, and with my treatment plan.  I truly am thankful to Jesus whom I just dumped this on and who gave me the strength and peace to deal with whatever results came in.  I know his plan is working and sometimes you just have to say you need help, and give it over to Him to take care of.

Thanks for all the love and support as usual.  I’ll be writing about 3-4 book reviews next so keep posted to see them!  Have a great weekend and a Happy Easter! XO

 

 

PET SCAN DAY

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For those of you who have run across this term on my blog, or have even wondered what it is, I thought I would explain the importance of this.  All cancer sells hold sugar in their bodies.  A PET scan uses a radioactive marker or dye, that is injected into your vein in a single dose shot.  The day before, they ask you to limit exercise and sugar content just so the natural sugars in your body don’t increase and give a false positive result.

Once the dye is injected, you are placed in a room to relax for 45 minutes.  The room has a dim light, a TV and magazines and they give you warm blankets and water. It’s kind of like a spa! They encourage you to take a nap, which isn’t tough for me.  After 45 minutes, they bring you back to the scan room which is similar to an MRI machine.  You lie prone on your back and they strap you in so feel secure on the table.  The table slides in and out, as the scan is typically taking hundreds of pictures from your nose to your mid-thigh.  These images are searching for lit up clusters or excess sugar . indicate where there are cancer tumors

For me, I already know that I have a large area of active cancer in my collar bone. They will be measuring the size of this mass as well as looking for any other areas the cancer may have gone.  For example, has it spread to my liver, my lungs, or my bone?  Or is it in a few places?  By knowing this, they can match the proper treatment and length of treatment to best destroy the cancer.

So, my hope today is that the cancer has stayed in the collarbone and brain and has not traveled anywhere else!  If you have any questions, are dealing with a cancer diagnosis yourself, or about a loved one, please contact me for links to where you can get help and information.  I am also always here to listen.  XO