Scans, plans and The New Normal…

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated and I figured now is as good a time as any! First of all, my son got married! The wedding was STUNNING! It all came together beautifully… family, friends and it couldn’t have been more perfect, in my opinion. I felt beautiful and I’ll be honest, it’s been a really long time, since I’ve felt beautiful. Here is a pic with my honey… it was a great day!

And here are a couple photos of the beautiful bride and groom, taken by Michael Anderson Photography out of Concord, he did an amazing job!

So, now back to reality and life as we know is my NEW NORMAL… for months leading up to the wedding (since about October really) I’ve had pain under my left rib cage, I’ve treated it with ulcer meds and doubled up on ulcer meds and it comes back. But, with my high risk history, we decided to get it checked out. Additionally, I have been having a lot of uncomfortable times with my sternum and ribs… and my sternum is visible from my chest, it bows outward – so I was FINALLY after 3.5 years approved for a PET scan… which was a miracle! I’ve been denied I can’t tell you how many times… and it all came back clean! I was honestly shocked. I literally braced myself for the diagnosis…. I fully expected to be metastatic. Why do I have this pain? Also, pain in my thoracic spine since the beginning…. ? Apparently, for no reason. It’s just part of the new normal and I have no explanation. I’ve had repeated urinary tract infections… which I thought, maybe it was kidney… I wake up in the morning so sore on my right side I can’t stand it, I have to get up. I’ve been incredibly tired… sleeping on my days off sometimes 12-13 hours. Just pure exhaustion. My husband lets me sleep in and I literally could sleep and sleep…. so of course, I was worried. But, all clear! Which is incredible news!!!

So, I’m going to start having massage… both trading services (photography) and also using FSA through my local chiropractor’s office… hoping it will help. I’m going to focus on deep breathing and stretching and drinking more water… etc. I know I carry my stress in my upper back, I’m full of knots and tension… so massage and stretching is crucial.

I also have some thickening on the side of my left affected breast which I will have a punch biopsy of soon, but they assure me they think it’s normal…. it hurts… so I will update after the results come back. I was supposed to have it done yesterday but there was a mess up with scheduling and so I’ll go next week.

I have highly advanced breast cancer, so it’s imperative they don’t ignore my symptoms…. but what symptoms are real? What are phantom? What are worrisome? What are not? I just let them know and I feel like I’m a thorn in their backside, literally…. my family AND friends listen to me, sympathize with me… brace themselves with me, breath the sighs of relief with me…. and I can’t thank GOD enough for them. This is my new normal…. it’s very hard to relax, although I do try…. I feel like I just lie in wait for the next catastrophe to strike. But, so far I’ve dodged all the bullets…

And, then I have friends…. who’s symptoms are VERY real, who I watch fear for their lives and watch cancer deteriorate them in front of my eyes… some are just praying for a miracle and others have no more hope. Cancer is devastating, it robs families of mothers, it takes Dad’s away, it take babies…. and even pets – it makes their normal one of worry and fear…. yet they do it with grace and love. Cancer is so ruthless… and it’s just disparaging. I hate it!!!!

I know their fears are as real…. it’s not death that’s feared, it’s leaving behind the ones that will miss them…. it’s not fair. Who am I to complain… I have nothing to complain about. I’m here, I’m as healthy as I can possibly be, despite my aches and pains.

It’s made me really want to re-analyze my life, my priorities…. I ask myself daily, is this the life I envisioned? Is this the life I want to live? Am I benefiting myself and my health? I hate that work has to be such a huge part of my existence, to just make ends meet. I still miss my passion, but it’s unrealistic to make it my mainstay, I need benefits. So, I just do the best I can – my boss is an angel sent from heaven. She is so incredible to me, so comforting, so understanding… a true friend. She makes it worthwhile to leave my family…

I feel like I’ve missed SO much of Greyson’s life. Cancer, work, life…. and now I realize how fast time goes. My oldest son is MARRIED! How did this happen? I keep Greyson close, I’m a bit fanatical, I’ve been told I baby him too much… but, it goes SO fast. And, I feel like I’m missing SO much. To those who know us… Greyson has slept with us since he was born, it was easier to keep and eye on him and he’s never left. When he gets sick it’s been easier to keep an eye on him. He’s in school now and he wants to show his independence. I called home at 9pm after I was done with work yesterday and my husband told me this FUNNY (not funny) story… Greyson told him he was going to bed, he went in his room…. covered up and went to sleep. He had told me the day before he was going to do this… I just didn’t think he’d actually do it. Darrell told me and I just burst out…. I cried the whole way home. I think my life literally flashed before my eyes…. this is it… anyone of us who’ve raised kids, knows…. at some point, they just aren’t so interested in being around their parents. He is only 7.5 so I know he’s not going anywhere, but…. I just had a complete melt down. My baby…. is growing up. And, how did this happen? I feel like my life has been a BLUR…. of just trying to exist. Trying to make ends meet, trying to SURVIVE. There’s just not a whole lot I can do to change it…. so I make the best of it. I miss a lot of activities. I feel guilty if I miss work, because I should be making money…. there’s quotas to meet and I need a level of income my family can count on….. it’s just tough.

The bright side… Summer is around the corner. Greyson will be out of school for about 7 weeks, before he starts his new school… Union Academy. My boss will be giving me off 3 days in a row, which will be WONDERFUL and I plan to make the very best of it…. His new school, requires parent involvement and an allotment of hours must be donated to the school each month, which will allow me time to participate in his classroom. Greyson has recently been told he has a learning disability in reading. We suspect dyslexia. If this is the only thing he’s come away from his early existence in this world, it is ok. Now, I can be more involved. Which will be amazing.

The new normal… it’s not all fuzzy peaches and butterflies… on my facebook page today for It’s Me Sunshine… I posted an article about Sex after Cancer…. yea, that’s a whole ‘nother topic… lol

Til’ next time…. love you all who still read!

Life is an echo… you get what you give!

So after my little pity party I decided to do a little self reflection and I realized that I probably have been a bit absorbed with life, moving, work, etc… and I haven’t been making it a point to reach out to people or stay connected… so why would they come visit or even give me a second thought? You get what you give! So… in saying that… it’s my focus to be a better friend, better mom, better wife, better daughter…

Self reflection is huge… and often times we create expectations in our own minds… and that’s where life can get messy. Hey… life is busy. It’s hard to be everything to everyone. But, it’s not my intention to wallow in self pity… it’s my intention to come out of this a better version of who I was before! And, so… I will attend those coffee dates (I have one tomorrow)! I will make time! I will not just think about someone I will act upon it! A simple text, phone call, etc! A better me… 💗

I’m recovering well… I had a huge reaction to the dermabond! It’s my body revolting telling me… girl… enough is enough! I don’t think there is any adhesive I am not allergic to! So I’m almost 2 weeks out and still covered in rash! I tried to work on Benadryl and was walking around like a zombie! That was not effective! So, I’m trying to tough it out… Everything is healing fine! I read my surgery report and he lipo’d a whopping 180cc’s. That is like nothing! All those holes for 180cc’s?? So… I’m not Barbie! 😜 I’m definitely more symmetrical! My drain will come out Friday and my backside should fill in nicely. The conch is gone!

Love ya’ll 🙂




I’m SO done with surgery… Recovery update!

6 days post operation… and overall I’m feeling pretty good! I’m up and around, I seem to be healing well! Everything with surgery went well…. as to be expected! He did A LOT more than I anticipated! I had some areas of concave area in my chest that kept freaking me out because it looked so unnatural… and kept worrying me about recurrence. But, they felt it was just post surgery change. So… he fixed all that, my chest where my port scar is now all filled in… it’s been extremely sore, so he must have done a lot to that area… he re-cut the right cheek and the right breast completely, I’m much more uniform. And… regardless of the outcome, I’ve decided. This is it…. I am not ever doing this again! This was technically necessary… I could have lived with the outcome as I was… but, after cancer…. you want to find some semblance of your former self. I feel NOTHING even close to my former self. In some ways improved…. and in some ways, so scarred.

Which leads me to my next topic… I have never been a believer in tattoos. My husband has them, my kids have them…. I have just never felt the need… mostly due to my upbringing and religious beliefs. The way I look, in clothes… no one would EVER know what I’ve gone through. My appearance is different than before… my hair texture is different, it’s stick straight… where it was always very hearty and had a bit of a wave… my body shape is different for obvious reasons… I’ve tried to create a normal life as much as possible for myself… but, when I look in the mirror (and honestly I try to avoid this if at all possible)… I am reminded of what I’ve had to go through. It’s not pretty people…. it’s just not. It’s in my opinion horrendous… nothing looks the same on either side… it was a matter of trying to save any chance of a breast… It’s not beautiful. My husband says I’m beautiful…. no matter what. But, the lights are OFF. I appreciate his love for me… but I don’t feel beautiful. I carry myself with self confidence, I have self love… it’s not that I hate myself or anything like that…. but I don’t feel beautiful or sexy. So… I hope this does not offend anyone…. I am considering, tattoo’ing my breast area after this is all healed. I want to look in the mirror and admire myself and the way it looks…. it’s just a slap in the face reminder that breast cancer looms. I wasn’t going to have reconstructed nipples, I was going to get 3D tattoos, as it was… but, what’s the point in that? It’s still going to look ridiculous. I want to show you a few examples of how it can totally change someone’s appearance. These examples… are 10X better than my result… I wish mine looked this good.

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And in general… just making a scar that looks ugly into something beautiful… it becomes art. It makes you forget that the injury existed…


So, with this in mind… I would love to have someone look at my scars… and create me the most beautiful tattoo cover… I’d love to have a butterfly in it… with teal and some pink – I had always thought I’d put a breast cancer ribbon, but I don’t think I will… there again, another reminder – I want to forget about it… not be constantly reminded. Nothing that would ever show if I were wearing a bathing suit… just something for me to feel beautiful. Something for me to feel beautiful in front of my husband… ❤ I know I have a lot of talented friends and family… who could make it happen. If not, I plan to have some artist do this for me… and again, I hope this does not offend any of my friends. I hope you understand. It will be ONLY for me and my husband.

Yesterday, I was having the blues… normal after surgery blues… but I was also really sad, because… I felt totally forgotten. I do need to thank my friend Kay for coming to stay with me for those first couple days… she took care of me with her doTerra oils and I do feel my bruising is significantly less. I do have something going on from surgery and being intubated… she was using Cinnamon and Thyme on my lungs to help me cough it up and it did help, but I’m headed back to work Saturday and I’m still real raspy and coughing a lot, so my doctor did call me in another antibiotic – most likely also due to my lovely asthma – being intubated just aggravates my lungs. But, thank you… Kay. Everyone is busy…. I get it. But literally other than my son and his fiancé and Kay and Marina… I’ve had not one visitor and worse, very few texts and calls to check in. Like literally, I can count on one hand. It just made me so sad…. When I was first diagnosed, I had this overwhelming outpouring of love and support… which was amazing and wonderful and literally overwhelming and now…. it’s like I’m forgotten.

So, I wanted to touch on that for a minute… because it’s something I’ve been thinking about as well… with the recent deaths of some major stars… George Michael, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and many others….

What I do not understand about our society…. people are left to oblivion… they are not mentioned, they are not thought of….. they are in obscurity. Then, they die…. and all these people flock to show their love and support. But, wait… they’re dead. They no longer know you care… where were you while they were alive? I bet they were feeling lonely and forgotten… Is it for publicity that people flock to show their support? Maybe it’s purely guilt. But, why is it that when people are ALIVE AND WELL… that people don’t think to be with them? It’s only when they are knocking on deaths door or dead that people decide to show that they care. I feel like someone (maybe even me) needs to create a movement…. SUPPORT YOUR LOVED ONES WHILE THEY’RE LIVING, PEOPLE! At any point any one of us can die in a car accident, heart attack, stroke…. I’ve done everything in my physical power to be near to my parents, to support them, spend time with them… because in all honesty, sometimes I feel like they are ALL I have!!! They are the only ones I know will be here in a skinny minute to help me with anything I might need. My Mom is cleaning my drain day and night, I could do it myself…. but she does it, because she WANTS to! And someday, I pray I can do the same for her! Everyone is just so self consumed and busy with their lives. I’m not the world’s best friend… but when someone is sick, I try to reach out… do something nice, especially because I realize what a HUGE impact that made for me. It is my mission in 2017 to be a better friend, even to acquaintances that may need support. Even if it’s a simple Facebook message. It can mean everything to someone that is going through a down time. I have so many people I try to support already and I work crazy hours and I have a busy life too…. but, this is important to me. There is nothing worse than recovering… and feeling lonely or forgotten. I don’t say this to make my friends or family feel guilty…. but maybe it will help you to self reflect, sometimes people don’t even realize how consumed in their own lives they are… and they have every right to be… this is not a throwing of stones or singling anyone out…. this should just be a “you know what, you’re right…. I’m going to work on this too” kind of moment…. No one is perfect, ESPECIALLY me… I’m sensitive and I take things to heart, I over think, I am impatient, I’m stubborn at times… I could go on and on…. And… I’m strong and I sometimes give the impression that I don’t need anyone… and that could be the furthest thing from the truth. I need my family, I need my friends, I need to feel loved and cared about…. I don’t need much, either. I appreciate everything.

Cancer changes you in so many ways… it makes you really think differently than you did before and those going or having gone through it… get it. Some welcomed and some not so welcomed.

I’m going back to work Saturday… and I honestly cannot wait. I will ease myself into it. I’m going to work Saturday a shorter than normal day, Sunday is only 6 hours and I’ll have off Monday, work Tuesday and be off Wedesday and Thursday and then will be back to my regular schedule. Next Friday I should get my dressings off… and I’m hoping my drain can come out sooner, there is nothing worse than trying to lug around a drain while working. But, right now my input is still pretty great and I have a feeling they will want me to keep it while being on my feel all day Saturday and Sunday. Maybe Monday it can come out… I’m not going to push it, because I have learned the hard way…. seromas just cause problems…. it will come out when it’s ready! I adore my work family! Some are honestly truly family and others I consider amazing friends…. I love working there, I love my schedule, I adore my management team. It’s an amazing place to work and I can’t wait to be back at it! This sitting around thing does not suit me!!! 🙂 I was secretly happy that we had snow on Saturday because it didn’t put me too far behind…. I know they feel differently!

That’s all I have for today! Call your Momma’s and Daddy’s…. check on your kids and your friends!!! ❤

Saying Goodbye To My Conch Shell Butt – Surgery Tomorrow!


For the past year and 2 months I’ve had this lovely conch shell butt, that I’ve been disguising by wearing long shirts and sweaters. Anything that is clingy gets caught in that hole… pockets on jeans invert, etc… so it’s been a bit of an annoyance, but… I’m alive – so who can complain!? I’m not complaining… one bit. I’ve just dealt with it. So, for five months after my SGAP procedure where they took fat folds from my backside and created breasts from them… I had a hole that my mom packed for me on a daily basis, sometimes two times a day. At first it was the size of a nickel however the pocket (seroma) that pocketed fluid… was about the size of a jean pocket and initially gathered a lot of fluid. It would leak and was a literal pain in my backside. So… as it healed, it inverted and created this hole of sorts… it looks like a conch shell. So… tomorrow, that is being fixed… My doctor is going to re-open the entire scar which is the entire butt cheek wide… and fill it and fat graft from other areas. Then he is going to also lift and fix my breasts. Overall, they look pretty good other than the mismatched skin because apparently your backside doesn’t tan like your other skin. And… radiated skin is darker so it’s a stark contrast. I’ve learned to disguise it pretty good. The nice thing is, they do feel like normal boobs… they are a lot more natural than implants.

When my doctor did my last surgery in October of 2015, he was more concerned about making the flaps survive with the blood vessels and I knew there would need to be this 2nd phase of this surgery and in retrospect, I’m glad I’ve waited this long because things have healed a lot better over time. The hole is there but it’s less, if that makes sense. I’m SO looking forward to losing this part!

I’m going to tell my doctor tomorrow, that he needs to suck and suck because after all I’ve been through, with what seems like nearly every side effect that can happen…. I deserve to walk out looking like Barbie 🙂 But, reality is… I probably will have more even boobs and no conch. And, I’m ok with that. I’m 44. It’s all good.

I’ve had several people contacting me worried, they haven’t heard from me… No news is good news! I’ve been busy. I started back at Ashley in May and I’ve been busy with work and life in general. So much good stuff has happened! My son and his girlfriend were engaged in August! They are getting married this April 21 and I could not be more excited! They are absolutely perfect for each other and to say they are smitten, just doesn’t even scratch the surface. Love is a wonderful thing! I couldn’t have chosen a better pairing, if I could have hand picked someone for my son! I adore her! I’m extremely proud to call her my daughter in law. So, I’ve been able to pull some favors from my wedding industry friends to help their wedding day come together and it’s going to be amazing! And, with this surgery… hopefully I will also feel more of myself and I can feel proud of my appearance on their wedding day!


Also, we had planned to build a home on my parents land and we moved with them for a short time back in May… and we found out building would not be financially smart. The septic system would cost a lot of money. We manged to save and recuperate a bit financially and in September when we weren’t really looking our real estate agent sent us a listing that was PERFECT. It had an in law apartment completely separate for my parents and our brains were reeling with all the possibilities. It honestly didn’t need much but some paint and some updates… over time, it’s going to be perfect. Late November we moved… and we LOVE it! It’s absolutely beautiful! It’s going to be the perfect forever home for us all!

I have been having some pains in my sternum area which I was concerned with and of course wanted to have checked before this surgery. They really feel my anatomy has changed from all the surgery and costochondritis is something I will battle with. It’s just inflammation where the sternum and rib cartilage come together… They scanned me… and my doctor said it’s stable and improved. That area of concern back in March-May seems to be better! So, that was a major relief. Every time I scan… I worry. My mind escapes me and I go there. Worrying. I hate it. It’s just part of the whole process having had cancer.

I’m praying this recovery is easy and I actually heal how I should. No packing holes, no seromas, no infections! That’s my wish! I’m HOPING to be back to work in a week or so!

I have lots to look forward this year!! I’m so excited for all that is to come!! Thanks to all who still read! 🙂

Sclerotic Change – Giving it to God…

It’s been a little while… and there’s lots to put down in words.

2 months ago, I had scans and my doctor said that there was “sclerotic change” on my scans. It was different than previous scans. It affected my sternum and 1st rib. For nearly two months, I’ve been semi-concerned about it. It’s hard when you know something “could” be wrong that could change your life dramatically, and when you’ve been through all this before… it’s so worrisome. I’ve carried this burden myself, I’ve prayed about it – sure. I don’t know that I’ve completely given it to God.

In my research, when there is tumor… either the cancer eats at the bone or it builds up bone around it. Sclerotic means, builds up the bone around it. So, I’ve developed a hump on my breast bone on my sternum area.

2 months pass, lots going on so it was easy to semi-forget. I went to my oncologist on Monday and he said there was more than just “sclerotic change” – there was also an internal mammary node that was swollen. I was re-scanned on Friday. I really did my best to forget about it this past weekend… but, it’s hard to completely forget.

My doctor called me and said that the  “sclerotic change” has remained stable. He told me that it would be his suggestion to do a bone scan. I’ve decided to go back to Ashley… and so I’ll be without benefits for 2 months. I asked him if he felt I would be ok to wait that long. He felt that it’s fine to wait 10 weeks. He said “IF” it is cancer.. it’s not fast growing based upon the fact that it’s remained stable for the past two months… He said “I’m not going to lie and tell you that it’s not or it could not be cancer”….and then he said regardless.. the protocol will be no different, now or 10 weeks from now IF it were cancer.  It’s imperative that I make this change back to Ashley – I am just not happy at my current job. I left on good terms, so thankfully they are having me back.  I’ll have a completely different schedule and 3 weekdays off, so I’m so excited for this… it will be so important for me to have this time with Greyson. I’m loved and respected there and that is vital for my well being, as well. I know, I just can’t seem to figure out my work thing…. it’s VERY hard losing your business. This as close to “home” as I’ll get to photography. They are like family there…

Anyway, I prematurely expressed my concern for my health to my kids and I’m so ashamed of myself for doing this…  I HAVE to bear this burden of worry. I obviously do not realize, even though they act all strong and tough… how much they love me and I mean to them. I’m ok. I know that’s all that matters.

All this time… I’m just like lying in wait for it to happen… is this the time… is now the time?? Will it be the next set of scans??? I don’t think you can fathom how it feels, you just can’t…. it’s HORRIBLE. My doctor was extremely realistic with me about my chance of recurrence and it’s literally put a fear in me….. and I realize, I cannot bear this on my own. I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t. I have to give it to God. I have to trust in him…. no matter what that I’ll be ok… and no matter what, my kids will be ok. I have to do what is best for my well-being… I have to find joy and peace in the simplest of things. I have to let go of this fear… It will be easier said than done. Another 10 weeks of worry??? No! I won’t do it… I’m going to revel in the sunshine…. and enjoy summer. I’m so tired of worrying.

I had an amazing Anniversary weekend… my children showed me such love and I’m so incredibly blessed to have them in my life. So incredibly blessed.

We are making some huge changes… to make it a bit easier to recuperate and save some money to build a house. Let’s just say, we’re simplifying and the goal is to have a home that will incorporate a home for my parents, as well. I am so incredibly grateful to my parents…. my Mom rides these waves with me. I HAVE to be able to talk to someone while this is going on or I will go crazy…. and my Mom, I know she’s just as fearful as my children are. I cannot even imagine. But, they are all praying for me, with me… and fortunately, at this point… I’m going to revel in the fact that I can be blissfully unaware of cancer.

It’s so incredibly important that I remain stress free with a positive attitude… and I’ll be honest. Life has been anything BUT stress free. I am a huge believer that stress AND diet contribute. I’ve had my fair share of stresses… finances being primary. Cancer has wreaked havoc on our lives. Hopefully, it will all be on the upswing from here.



Beautiful life

My last posts have been extremely negative and I stretch the reason to being out of my control… I was given a drug I did not need and going off of it has been the best thing, I could’ve done for myself. I’m me again!  I’m so thankful…

This week has been a week of lots of positivity… And a lot of heartache. It really puts things in perspective for you, when you see someone’s life lost to cancer. I’ve watched Joey Feek’s battle. Such a beautiful person… But equally as beautiful was her husband Rory’s sentiments to his wife. I read the blog of his wife’s passing and you cannot help but bawl…. What a wonderful human being. I’m sure watching someone suffering from this disease, it makes you want what’s best for them.. Not necessarily what’s best for you… Keeping them with you. I’m going to include his blog… I warn you, it’s heart wrenching.. And beautiful at the same time.

a dream come true

I sat with a dear friend this week who lost her father and she’s trying to find her new way of normal. It’s such a battle… Those left behind. But, I’m so incredibly proud of her, because she’s doing it. Something she probably thought was imaginable… She’s managing to find her way. It still hurts and the thoughts pass through her mind and the tears fall… But, she’s finding reasons to smile and laugh. It’s a wonderful thing. I’m so proud of you Katie. We all know how hard this is for you… And so many of us are here for you. Trying to relate in some way, if nothing else… Just to hug you and hold your hand.

Another friend is battling stage 4 breast cancer that is causing her unbelievable pain, but she’s finding the positives in each day. Each day is a gift. It truly is. I’m resolving to find beauty in each and every thing and every day…. Life isn’t fair, things are thrown at each and every one of us.  We ALL have our struggles.

This fear of the disease I face is going to be ongoing…. But it’s out of my control. It’s so much easier to give it to God and allow him to battle  it for you…

Please, if you can… Say a few prayers… My follow up appointment is Monday.. To say I’ve been feeling my best, would not be the truth… I’ve had so many little things that have scared me and they turned out to be absolutely nothing. From a spot in my eye, to new spots in my breast, to pain in my spine and tailbone… Everything was normal. I pray this is the case, this follow up. And… If not, I will continue to fight!!! Just like everyone else faced with this disease!

I know so many people came to love Joey… Me included. Not knowing someone and falling in love with them, they way we did with her… It’s just beautiful. I will continue to pray for her family… Finding beauty in the things that she has touched in their beautiful life…




Chain Reaction…

I’ve had a handful of other survivors come forward to tell me… they have these same fears or thoughts… we just haven’t wanted to speak them.

My blog was my outlet and I’d given it up… like everything else. Ironically, I do feel so much better today! Just getting it down.. helps. Journaling… helps.  It’s getting the thoughts out of your head…. and letting them rest. Instead of allowing them to consume you….

My husband told me yesterday… you need to find something that you absolutely love, like he does with golf… that makes you forget every care you have! I already know what that is…. but, I just currently don’t have the means of that outlet. Someday, I will! Not photographing for a living…. photographing as my art, photographing beauty… being so excited you cannot wait to edit those photos and post them…. I lived for it! Did it consume me? It probably did… I did one of those Facebook things that analyzes your a weakness… for me it said I was a workaholic… lol I was. I’m not going to lie. That isn’t healthy either. I put all I had into my business… but it made us successful. I mourn it every day… but it’s like giving up sugar… you realize that it also probably made you sick, but you still love it and miss it…. Moderation is key, kind of thing….  So, for me… to do it as my business…. would have probably led me right back where I was. As a married couple, working together…. it had it’s stresses. I gave it up… working 10-12 hour days isn’t conducive for my current state of health… But, doing it for 2 hours, is…  I crave it…

My integrative oncologist said I need massage and healing touch and these outlets… that allow you to forget everything for a little while….. healing touch is a service they give. I did it once and it was amazing… Unfortunately, groceries are more important than massages.

With my job… currently, I’m an account executive for a logistics company where you go out and find business.  It’s not as easy as I had thought… At Ashley, I hit the ground running… I was instantly successful. But, the hours and weekends…. were killer. I’ve just learned that there is no utopia. I’ve got to embrace the positive things about my current job… the small victories… They give you a base salary and a vehicle…. and this is why. It’s NOT easy. But, it’s not enough either… so I feel this constant battle with myself to try and try and when it doesn’t happen instantly… it’s difficult. That’s why I said… it’s a living. I don’t LOVE it… it’s a job. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to find something that I absolutely love…. and so job hopping is just stupid. Stop…. and just try to embrace what positives this job brings. My manager is a really great guy. The upper management is a little difficult. Being by myself…. driving around all day, going into businesses where people are instantly busy when you walk in…. it’s a little bit of a downer. When you find someone who actually sees value in it… it’s awesome! I’ve experienced this in other aspects of my life, so I’m very used to it…

Someone posted something on FB, who I’m fairly certain reads my blog…. who cannot possibly understand… Maybe it wasn’t for me… but I related to it. I had given up Facebook for about a month, for this very reason… It causes arguments and frustration. We never had the ability to peek into someone’s life before and look at the highlight reel which makes everything look so glamorous. When you stop and talk to those people for a few minutes…. they are like.. eh, this sucks and that sucks…. yet… by Facebook, you’d think everything was honkey dorey… so you don’t even stop to bother to talk to them, because you think… they’re doing just fine. Not true…. I figured if someone wanted to talk to me… they know how to reach me. I’ve become slightly active on Facebook again…. and now I understand why I took the break. Politics and people’s opinions… which if they were standing before you face to face, they’d never have the “balls” to say it to your face. It’s cyber bullying, really… It’s stupid and pointless. Who needs this in their life!?

I’ve smiled through all the pain…. although the pain remains, I’ve buried it deep… Now, I’m putting it out there. I still smile through it… Thank God for my smile, it hides so much! I am so glad I’ve put it out there… because the ones that relate are coming forward… not posting things on Facebook hoping I get the point…. they are reaching out and saying… I feel this way too!!! I understand!!!

It’s not to say you sit around obsessing all day long…. you just have it there… lingering. A silent presence… that you’re afraid to vocalize.

Since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve watched probably 10-15 people die from this disease…. I wasn’t stage 0 or 1, I was stage 3. Even someone who was stage 2… and was diagnosed at the same time as me… died last week.

It’s not a fear of dying… believe me some days, I feel like…seriously, is this even worth it?! It’s not a fear of leaving my husband or my older children, they would miss me, but I know that they would be fine… older kids go about their daily lives as if I don’t exist anyway… they would be just fine.  There are honestly 2 reasons why I fight… Greyson and my Mom. A small child cannot possibly understand… and the missing me would be unbearable and I fear that. I fear leaving my mother and my husband to have to deal with that…. And, for a mother to lose a child….. I know it would kill her too…  That’s the God’s honest truth. Very amazing reasons to fight.

This blog…. is for me. It’s not for you to judge me. It’s real, it’s ugly, it’s beautiful, it’s brutally honest, it’s exposed, it’s my reality. I’ve decided to make it a blog… so that if others relate or want to peek in… that’s awesome. But, it’s truly for me. I asked you yesterday to love me through it… please just love me through it.

I’m feeling better today… it’s a good thing!



The real, the ugly

Today I visited my integrative oncologist… and she sat down and just shook her head. If any of you know her, she’s amazing. Dr. Bailey Dorton…  I hadn’t seen her since last August. I have been through A LOT since then… even I don’t realize how much until someone spells it out for me…

My integrative oncologist has the purpose of trying to keep me well, both mentally… spiritually and physically. Sadly, everything has taken a toll on me and I’ve just hit a very low point. I’ve withdrawn. I don’t talk to anyone, really… very little. Not even my friends. I’ve not blogged… and I’ve not wanted to because I don’t want to listen to me… much less make other people hear it… It’s ugly, it’s depressing and like I said.. it’s not a good place. But, she told me… I need to. I need to put it down. Unfortunately, all this BS is part of cancer. There are so many aspects that I haven’t discussed… all that I’ve gone through, has changed EVERYTHING about me at a supersonic pace.

My oncologist said it best… you now have the body of a 55 year old woman – they had to starve my body of ALL hormones and medications to make sure the hormones are gone. My body shape has changed… I have holes/divots that are visible in clothes.. before it was my boob that was missing, now its my butt. I don’t even know how to dress myself, anymore. My body is not like it was…

I feel like EVERYONE wants me to forget that cancer happened and as I’ve heard it so many times… BE HAPPY TO BE ALIVE… others weren’t so lucky. Great… now you’ve just made me feel guilty. Thanks…

Cancer stares me in the face, every single day… as a matter of fact, I don’t even WANT to look in the mirror.  I have divots and oozing holes… that need to be packed and I’ve been packing wounds for 9 months now… I’m OVER IT!!!!! And, I’m not done. All of this to get me back to what? A sense of normal….  I mourn who I was… my sexuality, my HEALTH, my thoughts, my body (although I was’t a super model… it wasn’t mangled), my hair, my eyelashes, my thin arms (thanks lymphedema), my teeth (the enamel just peeled right off during chemo and it’s made them weak), my passion – my work – my business – photography… I could go on and on…

I just read an article in the doctors office. Some may say… oh you’re so vain. It’s not vanity. It’s grief. It’s mourning. Only those that have been through it can understand.

My doctor had put me on a low dose of Celexa back in August… and since August, I have steadily gained weight. If you understood how I eat… there is NO reason I should gain weight. At all… Usually when I have surgery, I lose weight… and this past time, I actually gained. I went off Celexa about a week and a half ago…. and I’m slowly losing weight. Thank goodness.. maybe my clothes will start fitting and at least I’ll feel a bit better about that. Lookee there, a positive!!!! 🙂

I’m not moping around, pissed of a the world…. well, sometimes I am. But, for the majority of the time I’m not. I feel like I’m numb…just surviving. Not necessarily living… and what’s the point in that…  I just want to be carefree…. with less worries and less stress and I want to regain some sense of who I was….

My new job…. it’s a living. It’s Monday-Friday… no weekends, it gives me some flexibility. There is something to be said about that…. (yippee another positive)… but, I want what I had… or even better… I want to live my dream of empowering women IN MY SHOES!!!!!! Women who are down and frustrated, 2 years out from cancer…. back in the grind, life is overwhelming…. and stop for one day, get them all prettied up and make them feel beautiful… point out the highlights…. every woman has some sense of beauty, whether we’ve forgotten ourselves….

But how? It seems insurmountable… Life has just gotten in the way… debts, bills, barely making it…. I had to sell every stitch of my camera gear, to survive. Cancer impacts EVERYTHING. And people want me to shoot this or that… and I have to explain. It sucks!!!! I was an award winning photographer. Can’t even afford to keep my website up. It all seems lost….

Then, there’s my sense of peace… and the constant worry about my health… I understand why they wanted me to be on Celexa… or maybe I needed something more potent…. for God sakes I can’t even drink anymore….

Stage 4 HAUNTS ME. that 50/50 or 60/40 chance…. looms…”Oh jeez, I just ate chocolate with REAL sugar, oh jeez, I have a pain in my head…. oh no…. I am having dizzy spells… is it brain cancer, has it metastasized… HELLO GOOGLE…. yea, it says it could be cancer… but, I’ll go to sleep and tomorrow is another day.. if it still there in 2 weeks, I’ll tell me doctor. Oh, the pain went away, but now there’s a new pain…. ” It’s relentless…. I want to live. I want to be here for my kids.

TIME…. time is a luxury and maybe that’s what upsets me the most. I feel like I’m wasting time…

I know I speak for EVERY one of my cancer sisters… you try to go on with a new sense of normal… believe me, there is nothing more that we could wish for….. to forget it all ever happened. But, for us… that luxury is now GONE. It can come back… and for many it does and for many it takes their life.

I’m here, I’m alive…. I should be celebrating. It’s not that simple. Life gets in the way… the struggle is REAL.

I have unpublished blogs galore… but, I think I’ll publish this one. It’s the real, the ugly…. it’s my life, right now.

For those that still read… and keep up with me. I love you. To those that I’ve not really talked to much lately, know that I still love you so much…. I hope you understand and love me through this….




Be kind always…



Be kind always, because you never know what someone is going through…

So, I’m once again awaiting a biopsy. Because a simple rash… could be skin mets. And, I’m supposed to act like everything is ok…I debated whether to even discuss it… because lately, I feel so incredibly alone in my fight. I feel like I don’t dare talk about it. I feel like no one wants to hear it. They want me to be positive ALL the time. All the support, I once had… and I feel lonely. How is it possible? I think because I always seem to smile and act like everything is ok, people assume I am. My children included. Maybe, that’s a mistake on my part… I am ok for the most part… and I’ll try to pretend I’m ok… until I get the phone call with either great news or devastating news. I just never know when that time will be for for me. Even if I have cancer again, I will be ok. I will continue to live my life the best way I can, I will do whatever is necessary and I will paint on a smile and live with more changes to my incredibly unrecognizable self. Until, its my time. Whenever that may be.

I’ve refused to live in fear and I’ve thrown myself into prayer. I’ve resolved that if this disease takes my life, it’s because there is a purpose in it… Maybe there is a lesson in it….

I honestly want to not think about cancer anymore. I want to go on and live a normal life and blissfully pretend that cancer cannot affect me. Lately, I’ve allowed myself to fall off the wagon with my diet… I hear people say, diet doesn’t make any difference… some people live healthy lives and die anyway. Justification…. it’s ok to have this little bit of sugar… it’s ok to have a glass of wine. I’m too tired today to walk… And, it should be ok… but, what if it’s not? What if I’ve caused this myself?

Do I publish this or do I let this be just my thoughts… nobody wants to hear it Dawn, they are tired of hearing about it…. but these thoughts swim around in my head… and unless you’ve walked in the shoes of cancer, you could never understand. No amount of “you’ve got this” will help. I know I’ve probably said those words before to someone else… but those words suck. Because, no…. I don’t “got this”… I so don’t have this. I don’t have control over any of this…. I want to believe my diet is enough, I want to believe that the radiation was enough or the chemo was enough or all the carving that’s been done to my body, has been enough…. but, what if it’s not. And my doctor said…. “your cancer comes back”…. Is my time now? Or have I dodged another bullet?

Then, there’s my body… which I’m so unhappy with right now. I won’t even go into all of the issues I have…I used to have like a couple problem areas…. well, that list is mighty long now. Thank God above for clothing. And people say… just be happy you are alive. I should be right?! But, I don’t even recognize myself… I’ve lost 10 years of estrogen… plus the chemo… and I see things in myself…. and I remind myself, you should be happy to be alive and then I see a photo of myself from just a couple or few years ago… I could cry. I can only imagine what more chemo or treatments would do… Then I think, would I even want to go through all that, again? Could I do it? I don’t know. I don’t honestly know. I don’t think my teeth could take more chemo…

Some days, I just have a hard time smiling. And, feeling like your kid places more importance on anything and everything else, certainly doesn’t help matters. I just want to shake them sometimes when they are so absorbed in their phones or so busy to spend time with family… and I want to say… someday you will regret this!!! I’m sorry this has to even be a thought in your head…. but, you would think that cancer would maybe forced them to re-calculate their priorities. But, no…. they are self absorbed, young men… and I say they, but it’s really one more than the other. But, then again… they both can be that way. I know that cancer has affected my oldest son, deeply. He is so afraid to lose me, I know this. And, because of this, love me or anyone else… I feel like he distances himself…. but then sometimes, he’ll do something so incredibly sweet and thoughtful, which makes me know… he cares. Then there’s my middle one…. I don’t think if it stared him in the face, he’d get it. The day will come… they’ll get it. But, will it be too late? Greyson has seen more, been through more with me… and gets it more than any of them! He talks all the time about breast cancer and draws me ribbons. My fight is truly for him, because obviously my older boys would be just fine without me.

This probably comes across as very negative… tomorrow, I will wake up and smile… and pretend all is fine, until I have more information. I just seem to never catch a break and there always seems to be something I have to worry about… So far, like I’ve said.. I’ve dodged those bullets. Every single time I have a worry, I think about my job, will I be able to work, I’ll lose my hair, will they notice? Will I be too tired, how will we financially make it? Will we lose everything?

And, then I stop and pray… I pray so much. I literally pray more than I have ever prayed in my life and when I pray I get this warm feeling in my stomach…. No matter what, I know I’ll be ok. I just worry about everyone else. My Mom, Greyson, my older boys… although they seem so tough… my husband is probably the strongest of them all and would be just fine, but would it be hard for him parenting a grieving child? Think positive, people say… medidate, do yoga… I do all of these things, but there is no amount of positivity that can remove the worry of this beast.

I remind myself… be kind always, people are fighting battles no one knows anything about. Everyone, seems to be facing a battle of some sort.

It’s crunch time… I’ve enjoyed my time off…

A little update…

It’s been 7 weeks that I’ve been off work, although recuperating and still not fully healed… I’ve enjoyed it entirely. I’ve baked, taken care of my sick kiddo 24/7, my older kids who were sick, I delivered food to them in bed… I’ve spoiled my husband with a clean house, cooked meals, laundry done….it’s been wonderful. But, I’m ready … more than ready to get back in the saddle. I will begin working again soon! I forgot what having time feels like! It’s amazing and I’ve taken it for granted in the past…

For those of you that didn’t know, I had to say goodbye to my friends and family at Ashley Homestore in Pineville. I took a new position with ADL Delivery out of Florida… they needed a sales executive for NC/SC and I was the woman for the job. I start November 30th and I could not be more excited for this new chapter in my life! I will train in Florida…. so I’ll leave the 30th to begin my training.

During this 7 weeks, I’ve needed every bit of it to heal… I’m still not fully healed. I still have a dime size hole in my backside that we’re packing, that leaks  continuously, that I keep bandaged… I’ll get it checked on Friday to see what the verdict is…. I imagine he may try to sew it up…. I’m not quite sure.

I have a rare issue with my left foob…. 1st my rib keeps popping out, so Dr. Gotro and his fabulous massage therapist Danielle Helms in Indian Trail have been helping me with that…. 2nd… when they removed cartilage from my rib to attach the artery, it caused a nerve to be exposed, so whenever I laid back… or my side, or my other side…. it caused pain. Sleeping was impossible. For 6 weeks, I have not slept well…. scattered sleep, first because of my pain meds and then later, just purely because of pain…. My doctor gave me some muscle relaxers and I’ve been taking ibuprofen around the clock. It seems to be the only thing that helps…. Again, Dr. Gotro used a device that kind of did a jack hammer on this radiated, tissue and it did something….. I feel a good bit better… and just in time! I was really worried about beginning work and being in so much pain. I’d say…  I’m at least 75% better. It still hurts… but it’s tolerable. I think I honestly live with a level of pain that I don’t even recognize anymore.

My healing of my actual flaps are doing great… my right breast is amazing, it feels like a boob… it shakes like a boob…. when I have my nipples done… it will look real. I wish my doctor had told me to tan my backside however, because they are remarkably lighter and it looks stupid…. lol My left foob… it’s another story, it’s tight…. it’s higher than the right…. so they’ll actually lift my right breast on the 2nd phase of this…. to match the left. I’m happy with the size, they look great in a shirt… and I guess that’s the goal. I will never look normal naked. My backside looks great, I do have some indentations where they took the flaps… straight on it looks great… to the side you can tell a bit. I no longer have a bubble butt….  I don’t recognize my body anyway, so it doesn’t matter. I’m just happy to be here and be alive…

Mr. G had RSV and I ended up with a throat infection…. both of us on antibiotics… but both of us are starting to feel better now! Just in the nick of time…

Darrell will be a single father for 2 weeks, but thankfully…. they are flying me home on the weekends!

On a real positive note, I’ve been crafty and we now have two elderly neighbors on each side…. one is widowed.. his wife died of breast cancer 😦 And, the other side… they live with their daughter and they bring us chicken salad and things…. so while I’ve had this time, I did a pinterest project, when I made cookies, I didn’t want to just deliver them on a plate…. so I did this project 🙂 Same color ribbon because it’s my favorite…. I feel so crafty. I’m so not… but even I could do this!