Love is..

A friend of mine posted a link on my page… which is totally worth viewing… tears literally fell from my eyes…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elana-miller-md/love-is-holy-shit-i-have-_b_4512572.html

I wanted to create my own “Love Is… ” I’m going to start from the beginning… bare with me…

Love is… this girl named Jennifer who so amazingly listened when I asked her if I could send her a photo of my breast, I really wanted to get an appt to see what these changes were in my breast… and she got me at 2:30 that day.

Love is… being in the ER, bawling my eyes out… because I was so worried… I actually had an upper respiratory infection… I was scared it had spread to my lungs… and the nurse asking me if someone could come and be with me…. I called my Mom.

Love is.. having a personal connection on my Facebook page to my family doctor.. and anytime I have a major concern, she’s there to help….

Love is… Finding out you have cancer and your husband who works 30+ minutes or more is there in 10 minutes to hold me and cry with me…

Love is… My entire family coming with me to my MRI appt to support me…

Love is… people who were complete strangers… becoming friends…

Love is… so many of my amazing brides… worried more about me than their wedding…. and so completely trusting in us….

Love is… Every little pain I feel, mentioning it…. and my family & friends listening and being empathetic… distinguishing what needs to be a concern and what doesn’t…. it really sucks worrying that every little thing can be something that could kill you….

Love is… a friend going with you to cut your hair off…. and donating her hair to Locks Of Love in your honor… and another friend having her long locks cut off and hand delivering it so you can have a wig made…

Love is… That one person, who makes it her personal mission to help our family…. Diane Esposito, even my best friend said… I’m so grateful for Diane, because there is no way I could help you like she has helped you….

Love is… An entire community of wedding professionals coming together to help me through this…

Love is.. My husband’s employer and the employees… giving us countless gift cards and certificates for dinners, etc… and for allowing my husband to be with me at my appts…

Love is… my stepdaughter making me feel so beautiful with such beautiful photos…

Love is… a good friend coming to sit with you at chemo… and bring you lunch…

Love is… Calls, texts and personal messages with offers to help me drive to chemo, stay with me at chemo…

Love is… My BFF coming from Nashville to be here to visit and be here for my fundraiser…. and come along to chemo…

Love is…every single day receiving a card or something in the mail to let me know that I’m being thought of…

Love is… My Mom making me meals that I can eat, coming to help me every day with Greyson, laundry… whatever she possibly can help me with…

Love is… My Dad not knowing how to handle this… seeing his little girl so sick…

Love is… A photog, I’ve never met… wanting to give me a day of glam… and telling me she’s got everything covered…

Love is… My boys bringing their friends over… and acting like nothing is different… despite not having hair

Love is… People telling me how beautiful I am without hair… even though I don’t feel very beautiful…

Love is… Sharon bringing me water every couple days to make sure I’m keeping my body alkaline… helping me shave my head…

Love is… My husband making sure I’m all set before he leaves for work… bringing Greyson downstairs and planting us until my Mom or someone can come…

Love is… Meals and desserts and amazing things being prepared and delivered so I don’t have to cook for my family…

Love is…. photographers offering their services for free so we can keep the proceeds….

Love is… relentless, amazing people surrounding me… making sure I feel not only loved but adored…. constantly….

Love is… feeling so amazingly blessed, despite having this horrible disease….

Love is… fighting for your life and changing everything about your life… so that you can be here for your family….

Love is… an amazing man who’s only heard of your story… creates a custom pair of shoes, spending countless hours to customize them for me….

Love is.. your friends coming to surprise you with those shoes… and a meal!

Love is… people donating countless things that I’m unaware of… but only told how generous…. so that people can help us during this journey…

Love is… my little boy rubbing my head and holding my face so sweetly and telling me I love you Mom….

Love is… being told I have an amazing job waiting for me whenever I’m ready…..

Love is… someone calling to tell me they are coming over to clean or have my house cleaned…

Love is… when your friend tells you she’s stopping over to see you for a minute… asks you for the keys to the studio and said you are not spending the last day before chemo cleaning your studio….

Love is… amazing…

I’m sure I missed a ton, I’ll probably think about it and add to this list….

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2 days til chemo…

2 days til my next chemo…. I think I’m more nervous this time to go… than the first time. It wasn’t even as bad as I thought it would be…. but, I’ve had all these wonky things happen…. and yesterday I was diagnosed with a UTI… my family doctor got me in immediately, she put me in a secluded room and treated me very aggressively… to make sure I can have my next treatment… She thought maybe the UTI is causing my puffy eyes….

These puffy eyes have me bewildered…. in the mornings when I wake up, the underneath pads of my eyes… literally look like I have blisters…. and the skin around them is so wrinkly…. I don’t know what it is and it’s bothering me. For me… it’s typically and indication that something is really wrong with my body… and I’m very sick. Duh…. But, something else. I pray it isn’t like this all of chemo. It just happened Saturday….I’m not rid of this infection so maybe that is it…

I’m sure guys read my blog, so I apologize…. these are just the facts of life…. The other thing, it could be… is I got my period…. which typically chemo halts your period… I got my period Friday… and it’s still lingering… My doctor said today it will probably be my last period… so maybe that’s part of it? I am honestly not sure. I hope Thursday before they start chemo that they do another blood culture….

Another thing that’s happening is I’ve had a pain in my leg blow the crease in my left knee and today I’m supposed to go in for ultrasound to make sure it’s not a blood clot. I sat at my desk all day working yesterday…. for a longer than usual period of time. I’m really feeling the pressure of this next chemo and hoped to have so much more done… I pray my clients understand…. :/ Anyway, I’m supposed to go for ultrasound… It’s probably nothing, but they told me that both cancer & chemo can cause blood clots….

So, 2 days til chemo…. I’m dreading feeling that low… I really am. I’m dreading looking sickly…. I’m really looking unwell, I feel… Everyone keeps telling me how great I look bald…. I’m just not feeling it. Since my hair has fallen out completely, people really look at me with pity. People I know and people I don’t know…. All hats other than cotton things bother my head… so yesterday, I just work my pink bandana…. Usually, if I’m wearing a hoodie… the hoodie goes up…. The cold on the back of my neck is the worst feeling…. besides my head so the hoodie really helps it all… I look like Joe Boxer… with really puffy eyes… lol

I’ve been drinking tons of Kangen water…. 

Doc office just called and said the ultrasound tech wants to see me right away… waiting for my Mom… then we’re off to the hospital…

 

Some New Things…

I’ve had some weird new side effects from the chemo… which apparently are common…. I’ve had really teary eyes and stuffy/runny nose…. It’s not at all attractive. My eyes are super puffy. It’s not my best look… My eyes are usually an indicator of when I’m really sick… I can only remember a few times in my life when I’ve had such puffy eyes like I do right now…. Before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism they were super puffy… and when I was 17 I had mono… and I had this look… I’ll be curious what my blood levels are on Thursday because something just doesn’t feel right, not quite sure what it is…. I hate it because besides my bald head…. now I have this and it’s really making me really down… I’ve been really tired again too… which is odd, because I had like a streak of days that I’ve been super ready and raring to go, maybe I overdid it…. I’ve been taking Claritin which does help some…. I can only work in limited amounts in front of the computer because it seems to aggravate it… Some of these side effects people say don’t go away after chemo stops…. Lord almighty… please…. I pray this goes away….

We’ve been invited to several functions coming up… and I think I’m going to stay tucked in…. not feeling my best these days… plus so many are getting the flu and I did not get the flu shot, so I really need to reduce my risk…. 

Other than that… not much new to report…

I have Pandora on this morning, trying to finish up a wedding… ❤

 

A Fun Girls Day…

It’s literally been such a LONG time that I’ve had a girls day…. literally, I can’t remember…. maybe last year when my BFF was here from Nashville…. it’s been wayyyy tooooo long!!!! So, today… my last chance before next week’s chemo… we decided to go accessory shopping… I got a pair of earrings, a hat and a shawl…. all in winter white… very cute!

We had a ton of fun and I thought I’d post some of the highlights…These are not in order…. But, we started the day at the Asian Market in Stallings… we were told to go there and check out the fresh fish… holy smokes! There were literally live frogs, live crabs, fish.. it was amazing to see… Can’t wait to take Greyson back!

 

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Then we went and did some shopping… had a blast at the Hallmark store… Diane bought me these charms to add to my bracelet that Bri bought me…. so adorable! Then we had a potato and some veggies at Texas Roadhouse… and some Starbucks….

We finished the day with a tour of Diane & Vinny’s beautiful office…

Perfect day!!! Much needed… ❤

My Worst Fears…

When I found out that I had breast cancer… my first fear was… dying. I didn’t know how bad. The first thing out of my mouth to my older boys…. was “I want to dance with you at your wedding and hold your babies”…. they both cried. It was terrible those days not knowing how bad it was….. I didn’t have health insurance, I had life insurance…. and the last thing I wanted was my family to pay off my debts after I am gone. I wanted them to enjoy life….. So, soon after my fears were put to rest. As long as this doesn’t spread and we keep it contained, which hopefully chemo will accomplish…. My prognosis is very good. I just have to go through a lot of sucky months to get there…. probably like 18 months of sucky, actually… :/

Soon after, I met with a lady with cancer who scared me a little bit… although she was being real and honest, she said “I’ve seen men leave their wives, I’ve seen them cheat and I’ve seen some really be there for their wives”…. So, I soon found myself detaching from Darrell… becoming really distant. One of my worst fears was him leaving me because he couldn’t handle this process….. Did I really think he would? No…. but that comment really stuck out in my mind. Soon after, we discussed and we talked about it…. and he has confirmed he is going to be nothing short of supportive, loving and amazing through this process…. Ironically, he really kind of digs my bald head….

The next fear you have is losing your hair…. I’ve always had longer hair… very few times in my life has my hair been short. And, I honestly have NEVER loved my hair short…. I did it for the change. But, didn’t really love it…. so the thought of being bald, really, really scared me…. If you’ve followed my blog… you know that I had long hair, my friends encouraged me to cut it… Diane treated me to a beautiful hair cut…. then this past Saturday, I shaved it off… and I realized, hey this really isn’t so bad….. well then these past few days, it was coming out in clumps and I was getting the patchy look…. The first photo is my hair coming out on the lint roller yesterday… but that really aggravated and hurt my head…. so we decided since my husband is a professional head shaver we’d go ahead and just let him take it off…. My head hurt yesterday… today it’s almost numb to the touch, it’s very strange…

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This is the progression of my look…. I will have long hair again some day!! ❤

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My husband is amazingly proud of me. It oozes from him….. he’s not ashamed and ironically, I think he kind of digs it in a weird way…. We went out to dinner as a family before I was shiny bald and I asked them if they wanted me to wear a wig. They didn’t…. My family has been amazingly supportive of me. ❤

My next biggest fear is my breasts…. After all this is said and done… chemo check, double mastectomy check, radiation check….. I have to wait for my skin and tissue to heal before I can have reconstruction. I’ve had boobs since I was 11, actually maybe 10. When I was a teenager my boobs were abnormally large in comparison to other girls my age… Eventually, my kids sucked the life out of them…. lol And, so one thing that I’m really looking forward to is new boobies… and they will have to take the skin from somewhere and I don’t have a lot of tummy fat…. so I’m thinking maybe they can take it from the backs of my legs, maybe both areas, I’m not sure…. we’ll know more about that soon when I meet with the reconstruction docs. BUT…. there’s a chance due to the damage that my body will reject the implants…. I’m still really young, I know it’s not the END Of the world… and I can handle being flat chested for 6 months…. but, I PRAY that my body will not reject the implants! It really is such a huge fear of mine…..

I’m honestly not even worried about dying anymore…. I don’t even think about it. I don’t even allow it to enter my mind….. I’m really trying to stay positive and remain focused on each little thing I have to accomplish….

On a side note, my best friend Tracey had her first mammogram yesterday… My aunt had hers, my Mom had hers…. and I’m PRAYING for No Call Backs!!!! I cannot tell you how many women have messaged me or told me…. I had my mammogram! That is amazing…. amazing… amazing!!!!!

I don’t know still how I missed mine… after they told me I was ok… after weeks of fidgeting with my boobs, I just stopped…. I stopped completely checking them. Oh how I wished I didn’t allow them to ease my mind so much…. These days… I can feel my arm pits throbbing…. I know for 100% my left sentinel is positive… but the throbbing under both makes me suspicious. We won’t know until surgery if they are both positive or how many nodes are positive…. even being upstaged to a 3-4 doesn’t really worry me anymore…. I have come to know so many amazing women who have lived YEARS…. staged as a 4. I’m grateful to have had this time to educate myself and know more. My doctor really didn’t even want to put a stage on me…. she said but honestly that could change after surgery and at this point, if you had surgery you could and probably will be upstaged… She said it doesn’t matter… the treatment is the same. So, let’s take one thing at a time….

Totally sidetracked….. lol Sorry!

My biggest fear initially was not being here for my children…. having to explain to him why Mommy is losing her hair, etc… For him truly…. was all of this shaving, cutting, etc…. Greyson is such an aware child…. and if you explain it to him, he totally accepts it. He’s really been my rock through this…. he rubs my head. When I cry… he asks me “Are you crying Mom… or No?”…. that’s his new thing, it’s the cutest… “Do you have a surprise for me… or No?”… He keeps me focused… He told me “Mom you look funny” last night…. I asked if I was still beautiful and he said “Yes…” He is truly a Dennis the Menace…. but I love him so much.

TGIF!!!!! 5 Days til the next chemo…. :/

Little things…

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I’m going to go backwards a bit…. but just want to talk a bit about the little things in life…. that mean SO much. This photo was taken yesterday by my daughter Bri while we were in the back seat… Greyson just randomly started touching my head…. it was so sweet. I posted it to Facebook and got so many likes and comments on it… It is pure emotion, love and adoration… What a sweetheart….

Then I wanted to talk a bit about my experience at Starbucks the other day…. I walked in, with my shaved head…. and went to use my $25 gift card that the Woods family bought…. and wanted to treat Bri to a coffee…. So I went to the counter and this man said… Ladies first…. and then he said “Nice haircut”…. it was very sweet…. So I order and I’m standing there, waiting in line….to get my drinks…. and he comes up to me and says…. “Those danishes are the best. I’d love to buy you one…. please let me buy it for you.”  He knew I was married, he commented about my husband…So, I let him…. I didn’t have the heart to tell him, I am not eating that kind of stuff…. so I let Brianna eat it… well neither of us really ate it…. but it was just a kind gesture…. so I asked him if I could take his picture…. I’m sure he totally took it the wrong way because he made a point to come back into Starbucks and give me his card…. lol This bald thing has been interesting!

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I am so glad that Brianna and I got those photos the other day… because today it’s exactly 2 weeks since chemo…. which means it’s 1 week til the next…. BOOO!!! But last night while washing my face…. I noticed my hairs were coming out…. I cried. I took the photo…. and cried some more…. I know it’s going to happen. I know it’s inevitable….. but it didn’t pain me any less to see it… I know that once I lose my hair and it appears my eyebrows for now….. that I will appear sick. Not that it really changes anything…. but, once people have the shiny head look…. and no brows, people know. Even now people look at me…. even when I wear a hat.. I know it probably seems silly…. but, although I’m trying to be strong, I’m trying to be brave….. it sucks. It really, really sucks. So I had my cry…. fell asleep and now I’ll blog.  I apologize for the toilet in the photo…

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And, then there’s something else I’d love to chat about…. 7 years ago today…. I was trolling on Match.com and this persistent guy…. messaged me.  He had an interest in photography… hey he couldn’t be so bad! He told me that he had just been to see his daughter and it was her wish that he’d meet someone….. Well he did. Darrell and I chatted on the phone for hours…. and we met the next day….. and the rest is history…. 🙂 Happy 7 crazy, unforgettable years…. babe! 🙂

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Enjoy your time with family & friends today…. Love & Hugs…

Happenings…

Yesterday I was so excited about my photos…. I forgot to post about some other things that happened….

Lady Di as we now lovingly call her…. Diane Esposito, my friend that has been helping me with my fundraiser…  she’s helped me through so much…. Well she’s just been bombarded with a lot of stuff on her plate…. besides me. So, she had an especially hard week… and it had drained her. So yesterday I used the excuse that my step daughter was in town and wanted to meet her…. which she really did…. BUT, Tillie and Marc Defang of Marc Defang New York really wanted to surprise her with HER VERY OWN personalized shoes… and since her husband Vinny is the Carolina Panther’s local DJ…. hers were themed Carolina Panthers… and oh my goodness… Marc did an amazing job…. Here are a few of the highlights of her new shoes…. Both Tillie & Diane have become such AMAZING friends to me…. I seriously love them both…. I was so glad I was well enough to be a part of this…. I’m so sorry for the set up Diane… I promise you can trust me…. ❤ Thank you Brianna from Briannastar Photography for taking these photos!!!

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As we were leaving, Tillie said… “You are just so happy… you’re glowing”…. then they asked me… “you sure you’re not pregnant?” No, No, NO!!! But…. I said… I am…. I am SO happy!!! How can I not be… 1. This has put everything into perspective…. just how important the REAL and true things are… my family, my friends…. it really has. 2. My marriage…. my husband has been truly amazing and makes me feel so loved and adored and he rubs my fuzzy head all the time….. 3. I’m surrounded by all these people who are constantly letting me know how much I’m loved…. in so many different ways…. So on the way home I told Brianna…. How can I NOT be happy? She said… yeah, I mean it really sucks…. but you really are blessed. I am….

So after that, Bri and I met my friend Sharon and her daughter Amber at Crossroads Grill for lunch… it was such a nice time. I am thoroughly enjoying something I haven’t had in a LONG, LONG time….. TIME. Time to take the time….. It feels so amazingly wonderful….. I’m so glad we made the time for lunch…

Then we went to Wal-Mart…. My brother and sister in law gave me a gift card and I went to Wal-Mart and used it on scarves and accessories…. ❤ We had so much fun…. BUT, the one thing I commented to Bri when walking through Wal-Mart…. “Everyone is looking at me”…. I’d commented on my Facebook the other day…. that I had been smiling at people… and the ones in wheelchairs that you wonder… why are they in wheelchairs… I made a special effort to smile at that lady and she smiled back and it was so heartwarming….. BUT, yesterday I felt so vulnerable. I walked in with my bald head…. and at times I forgot that I had it…. but other times people look at you and it was so uncomfortable and odd feeling. Vulnerable is the only word that I can think of….. I’m sure I’ll get used to it… my head will get balder….. and I will have no choice… But, it was different.

Then we rushed home to do my photos and the response… has been the most views on my blog so far…. I’m so humbled by that. The comments of support…. just WOW! My Mom said… don’t put them on your blog…. lol I don’t ALWAYS do what my Mamma says…. 🙂 I love you Mom!!! I hope and pray…. that other women will embrace cancer. Don’t allow it to force pity on yourself… Take your moments of strength and make those moments shining moments…. Those photos…. are exactly what I hope to do for other women when I am well….. I want women to feel empowered, I want to call it the Sunshine Project.... and really make those women feel beautiful. Embrace their chemo rash…. Yes, it’s all over my face and body and it’s NOT attractive….. and allow their skin to show…. Those will probably be the last photos of myself with my own breasts….. This spring, mine will be gone…. and I will be flat chested for months…. before I can even think about reconstruction….. I want women to feel beautiful… and I hope that my bravery will inspire them to be brave. I love you Brianna for doing this for me… and maybe you’ll come up with your own project…..

Yesterday was an amazing and emotional day!!! ❤