Finding Myself…

I think I’ve found my mid-chemo slump…. I’m finding blogging difficult, I’m finding myself feeling very cooped up and I’m feeling a bit lonely…. I keep telling myself what I have to look forward to…. my husband keeps telling me what I have to look forward to…. and I find myself down…

I have flourished for the past almost 5 years as a photographer… I never once questioned myself, I always drove myself to be better…. I see everyone in the wedding industry starting their seasons off with a bang, which is awesome!! And I’m feeling a little left behind…. I wished I could submerge myself in my photos…. and I honestly think one of the hardest things about finding out that I have cancer is losing my career…. and I know others have said, but… you never know what will happen, you might be fine…. My doctor sat and told me in front of witnesses that I will need to find a new career path. At the time, it felt like… OK, I can do that…. I can and it will be worth it…. and it will…

During this time I’ve really found out who my true friends are…. and for those people, I am so very thankful…. and those people have come to my aid, stood by my side and continue to stay by my side…. It’s so true that during times of trouble you will learn to rely on your friends…. but now I am finding myself pushing them away a bit…. as I retreat to this place within myself…. for fear I will not say the right thing or I will complain to much or I may seem like I’m dwelling too much on my cancer… I still have a long road ahead after all…. I may be half way through chemo, but I still have surger(ies) ahead… radiation… and I don’t want to seem as though I’m complaining….

I’ve had people reach out to me time and time again….. to tell me how much they enjoy my blog…. The reality of this is that it’s not easy and I will not always be up and bubbly…. I will find myself again, I will find my smile again and cry a little less…. until then…. please bare with me…. if my blogs seem a little less than sunshine…..

I’ve been doing a lot of research on my reconstruction because there are several different options out there….. I’ve been researching DIEP and TUG reconstruction and will most likely have TUG flap reconstruction where they take skin and muscle from your inner thighs because I don’t have enough stomach skin to take at this point…. and I pray, pray, pray I find a good surgeon…. because some of the outcomes I’ve seen have been less than beautiful and very Frankenstein looking…. I was curious to know the recovery time since surgery will be two different locations but I’m having a hard time finding anyone who’s had that type of surgery done…. so if anyone can recommend a site or support group, please let me know!

During the time of surgery/reconstruction I know that my doctor will have me see someone to help prepare me for the surgery and the realization of it…. especially since my reconstruction will most likely be many, many months off….. I don’t know that anyone can truly prepare themselves for it…

This will be my last blog over the weekend…. so I hope that everyone enjoys the Superbowl festivities this weekend!!!  I’m especially looking forward to this weekend as I’m finally feeling a bit better …. I promise as time passes, I will come out stronger and I will find myself….  ❤

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The Joys…

The joys of chemo….   Besides some of the usual side effects… hair loss, etc…. yayyyyyy meeee!!!!

1. Nausea… but not just any nausea – Mucositis –  painful inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract, usually as an adverse effect of chemotherapyand radiotherapy treatment for cancer. I am so glad I mentioned this in one of the groups… My doctor said I need to take Prilosec…

2. Constipation & Hemorrhoids – no explanation necessary – stool softeners, herbs… it’s ridiculous….

3. You lose your nose hairs…. so your snot just randomly falls out

4. Pain… from Nuelasta, it’s random… last time I thought I had a kidney infection… back pain, leg pain… just pain in general… it’s joyous!

5. Chemo Brain… stopping mid sentence when having a perfectly normal conversation and saying… “what was I saying again?” Walking into a room and not being able to remember why you went in there…. asking someone a question 5 times because you forgot you talked about it…

6. Balance… getting up and feeling like you are drunk because you need to catch your footing…

7. Fatigue… I require a lot of sleep…

8. Freezing ALL The time – If you come to my house, you will find me bundled, 2 shirts, 2 socks, hat and I will be under a blanket by the fireplace… This is probably partially due to the weight loss… but, it’s lovely… it’s part of the reason I cannot wait for warm weather! I’ve heard that it doesn’t get better even in summer, I’ll still be wrapped in a blanket

9. Chemo Rash… Day 10 after chemo….

10. Puffy Eyes Watery Eyes… Day 14 after chemo and lasts till next cycle…. repeat…

BUT!!!!! In all of this… I have not lost my eyelashes or eyebrows yet!!!!! Yay! LOL I will rejoice in the little things….

Winter can move right along…

It’s hard to believe January is almost over… but in a way I’m sooo happy that it is! Time is clipping right along… although many of my days feel the same… wake up… lounge… sleep… repeat…. I’m so happy that time is moving right along.  I don’t think there is another time when I’ve been so anxious for warm, spring weather! Today, we’re cooped up in the house because of our “winter blizzard”…. and it just has this chill and I stay freezing, so…. I seriously cannot wait for the warm weather to come!!  March 26th will be my last chemo…. and then I’ll have surgery in May…. I’m just so incredibly anxious to put cancer behind me…. to literally forget about cancer, how it’s affected my life…. and move right along with life. I cannot wait to have cancer behind me…. I cannot wait to find my new career path, to have a new focus…. and literally forget that cancer ever existed in my life.

Today we had an offer from one of our clients…. they are going to allow us to use their beach house in Myrtle Beach this summer. I cannot even tell you how exciting it is that we’ll have this opportunity…. We are beyond blessed… and the amazing offers we have received…. Thank you to the Lindsay family for this amazing offer!!!

I’m still struggling with nausea, it’s been really, really tough this round….. but, this time no major body aches….. so we’ll take what we can get! 🙂 

I hope everyone stays nice and toasty warm….

 

Little things…

I’m so excited… because after 2 months my stitches from my port have FINALLY fallen out! I thought I would look like Frankenstein forever! It’s the little things…

This round of chemo has brought intense nausea… but this morning I seem to be feeling a bit better…. thankfully! It’s strange how each time certain symptoms seem more prominent than others and the next time it will be different….

I’ve been trying to focus on what I have to look forward to coming up… after my best friend left on Sunday, I’ll be honest… I’ve been a little down… I’m half way through chemo, but… still a long road ahead… Praying that spring weather comes soon, so that I can maybe get outside and walk…. take Greyson to the park, etc… take some time to be a Mom… In May most likely I’ll be having my double mastectomy and I’ll be recovering from that… soon after , I’ll have to re-direct my career somehow… so I can look forward to what that might be… re-entering the workforce most likely….

I hope that maybe we can take some time as a family this summer and spend time together, I actually entered to hopefully be granted a vacation for cancer patients…. at one of the beaches in NC… that would be so amazing for our family!! 

Many people in my life have stepped forward… some I would have considered friends before…. now I most definitely consider close friends… it is so true that during times like this you find out who your friends are…. some have come and stayed and I know will never leave… some have really come forward and I never expected it…. I really look forward to cultivating those friendships and being the kind of friend in return that they have been to me….

It’s the little things… enjoy your Tuesday!

 

 

 

My Living Bucket List…

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Skydiving, Rocky Mountain Climbing…. Maybe at least one will come true…. 😉 Most of mine have to do with vacationing and traveling… because it’s what I feel we’ve missed out on most… time & family & friends… 

If anything I’ve learned from this journey is to focus on ONLY what is important… taking the little accomplishments and rejoicing over them…  Embrace the people who are there for you on every level.  Life is honestly too short not to be doing what you love or aspiring to try to do the things you hoped to achieve in your life. Photography was always at the top of that list for me…. however, having taken a step back…. I do realize it’s important to me in the grand scheme, it’s what has paid the bills, it’s what has fulfilled me…. but it’s also robbed me of a lot… mostly, TIME. I have no choice at this point but to step back and honestly I think that is the best thing that could have ever happened to our family. This is my living bucket list…

1. Move to the beach… with my entire family. Make a new beginning… 

2.  Go on a real honeymoon… many moons later…

3. Always keep close the people who love me… and spend as much time with them as I possibly can.

4. Learn how to ballroom dance… with my husband. 

5. Watch my children grow up to be successful, have babies and be happy. I want to be a Grandma half as good as my Mother.

6. Ride horses on the beach… in the water… any beach would be fine.. I am not at all picky… 

7. Go to Las Vegas and see Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in concert… & maybe catch a UFC fight for my husband… 

8. Go for a night of Karaoke with my whole family.. 

9.  Take a cross country vacation and see so many things I’ve missed in my life… 

10. Be healthy and fit, simplify our lives and live happy. Live an active lifestyle…. 

Half way done

Chemo was Thursday… and it is so encouraging to know that I’m half way done with chemo… Although it’s definitely had it’s rough moments… It’s not intolerable. My nausea this time has been a lot more intense than the previous times… It started at chemo which was different, it usually doesn’t hit until that evening… and it’s not subsided… 

When I met with my doctor he felt encouraged that my tumors may be responding to chemo, so that was most definitely encouraging… I’ll be having a follow up appointment before my next chemo with my surgical oncologist… 

It was nice having my best friend Tracey there with me at chemo… she said “well this is one thing I never expected us to do together”… we both laughed. Not at this point in life, anyway…. 

It’s been so nice having her here, she was supposed to leave today, but decided to stay another day… she said she couldn’t leave yet….I have really appreciated having her here…  We will be friends for 25 years, this upcoming May…. so hard to believe. Ours is a friendship that time can pass… and you can pick up the phone and it’s as nothing has changed, even though you may not have spoken in weeks… This week, she’s watched me cry…. hugged me, picked me up, reminded me who I am, helped keep my mind clear…. and has tried to help remove my burdens… I’m so grateful for her and I’m grateful to have this extra day to spend together…

I’m so grateful for all of the close friendships in my life, especially during one of the most difficult times in my life… I’ve made some new friends… strengthened friendships that were cultivating….I’m so incredibly grateful for these friends in my life. They have been my core throughout this… and I am so blessed for these people. I am so grateful for my NC bestie Tess… she is another constant, she lives right up the road and it’s so convenient…. when a chat is needed, she’s not far away…

Yesterday I received 2 beautiful bouquets from Carrie at The Flower Diva, plus a little breast cancer bracelet that is loaded with charms…. I was so surprised to receive them!! The timing could not have been better, Carrie and I really appreciate the gesture…. It means so much to me! Thank you…. 

Today will be a lazy day, hanging out watching movies… trying to stay warm…. while I recuperate… 

Thank you for all of you who have stood by my side and continue to read my blog…

Happy Saturday!

Update

I needed to step back for a little bit, I have not blogged or been on Facebook for more than a couple minutes at a time. I have breast cancer and I’m fighting probably one of the largest battles in my life. In fighting this battle… some people really stepped forward for me and our family… Every single day, I expressed gratefulness and love and support. We are leaving the wedding industry… so my motivation was nothing other than friendship. Anyone who knows me, my close friends and family… KNOW me and know I’m genuine, loving, grateful and not demanding….  I’ve mentioned more than on 1 occasion that I had a very close circle of friends and that I was not one to get involved in the industry.. I occasionally attended functions… Anyone in the industry that we’ve worked with knows that we are extremely giving of images, etc… I think it’s very unfair that anyone is making unfair assumptions based off of tiny bits of information and hearsay regarding any of the parties involved…  I was sad that the event cancelled…. I have expressed NOTHING else publicly out of respect for everyone… In order to handle this with grace. We have been extremely blessed and it’s unfortunate that the fundraiser had to come to and end, but we are still blessed… we are not walking away empty handed… quite opposite… it was said at the beginning… “even if it’s a couple thousand, it’s better than nothing”… We were just grateful for the help.

There is absolutely no question that many people have stepped forward to help, but in this venture… I did not have a say… other than at the very beginning, I was told I could make requests… but beyond that, I didn’t have a say. It was felt that it was in my best interests and in order to avoid drama to be off of the sub site created for helping our family…. In doing this, I was unaware of anything being said…

I wanted nothing other than the fundraiser to happen, my intent wasn’t as focused as the members about making money, as silly as that sounds…it was a fundraiser.  I was thrilled to have people there who love and care about me and I wasn’t really in the loop, so I was unaware of just about every aspect of the event.  I just really hoped to be able to be there and going through this time, where I have chemo rash, I’m bald and I have puffy eyes….. that I’d hopefully look pretty…After all of the drama of it ending… and the comments I was told were being told to some of the key members, comments in general…. it was at that point that I asked if it would stop… (at the point that the online auction was being talked about)…. This was not because we were upset that the fundraiser was cancelled, it is purely because some aspects of this have been a source of stress and due to that… I asked for it to stop… I need to focus on healing, not because I’m being selfish… but my survival depends on it.

To ALL of the members involved… we have expressed nothing but gratefulness. Darrell and I really have to focus on our family, keeping a level of calm in our household… We just really ask that every aspect of this be dropped, put behind us…. and let’s all please move on. Let’s stop making comments of judgement, when clearly there is no way for anyone to have all of the facts in this situation…

Again, to every single person who has helped or touched our family in some way…. for those genuine efforts, we cannot possibly express enough thankfulness… Please do not ever, ever question our gratefulness…. For the money raised, for the money invested… groceries… jewelry… we cannot possibly express enough thankfulness…

Although I’ve been thanked over and over and over for this blog…. part of me regrets having told anybody about my cancer… part of me wishes I’d fought this battle quietly… Everyone deals with cancer differently and every single one of my emotions is real, valid and totally acceptable. Fighting cancer is hard enough…. chemo makes me very sick for at least a week or so…. We need to pick our battles, if that makes sense… and my battle needs to be about fighting cancer… I have decided to continue writing my blog, but  I will be stepping back from Facebook… My blog is my therapy, may way to express myself…. so there will be no updates to Facebook… so if you are genuinely interested in reading it… please make sure you follow it so you are notified of a new update… (others can feel free to post my blog if they would like, I just will not be posting it to Facebook).

Tracey came with me to chemo today… all went well… the same symptoms as usual…  I had a meeting with my doctor and he is feeling some softening in the tumor. He did tell me last visit it was 6cm and this time he is feeling some changes… we won’t know until my next tests which will be further down the line… Today I’m officially 1/2 way through chemo… 

Tracey, her Mom Millie and I have been having a great time catching up… a lot of laughing and goodness for my soul… it’s been very therapeutic…

Much love…