One word of advice…. Good News…

Read this book!


Whether you had cancer or currently have cancer, stage I, II, III, IV or given a time stamp… read this book! Whether someone in your family has had cancer….

I am going to be taking a little hiatus from writing my blog until my surgery…. so I can give an accurate description of what’s happened to me…. but as of right now it appears to be good news! I will be the poster child of changing your diet to help cure cancer….

From the beginning of this…. before reading this book…as soon as I was diagnosed, I changed the following things about my lifestyle and diet…. I stopped drinking alcohol, diet sodas, reduced my sugar intake dramatically, stopped eating red meat, pork, wheat and stuck to gluten free products… as well as drinking alkaline water… and sticking to a largely alkaline diet… I eat a lot of veggies and fruits….

After reading this book I’ll be implementing some more changes, such as reducing dairy, eating only range free and antibiotic free meats and eggs…adding some supplements, etc…  and once I’m well enough to exercise I will be walking and hopefully running eventually as well….

It’s seeming to be good news folks… real good news. We won’t know for sure until after pathology…. but I cannot tell you how hopeful this makes me and how I will be preaching to change your diets!!!

Your body is your tool… you immune system is your tool… so many things we do on a daily basis, so many contributors…. bring our immunity down…. The biggest of these contributors being stress….

We need to change our lifestyles!!! It’s so important!

I have a ton of appointments and follow ups over the next weeks til my surgery… so I’m going to write when I have time… maybe not daily!




I’m writing this tonight… because chemo is bright and early in the morning….

I had the best day today…I had great visits with my parents…. twice! I had a great lunch with a new friend…. to celebrate my last chemo! I had a phone conversation with my BFF who lives in Nashville…. I came home to a surprise in my mailbox from my NC bestie….Had a great dinner and watched a movie with my family….  I reconnected with an old friend and neighbor a couple nights ago…. and I reconnected with one of my very first childhood friends today, such a wonderful surprise…. Tomorrow I have a dear friend taking me to chemo and another appointment this week…. another dear friend will be visiting while I’m there… AND two of Greyson’s NICU nurses will be coming to see me tomorrow while at chemo…. I have friends who helps with my house from time to time and friends who deliver me water and I have friends who I leave the key for and have a nice meal waiting for me after chemo…. you all know who you are… This past weekish has been really great…. I really appreciate everything!

My heart is soooo full of love! Today during my lunch conversation…. this friend reminded me that nothing is by chance… Things happen for a reason. Good and bad. I am sooo grateful for the dear ones in my life who’ve come into my life and remained by my side…. New friends, old friends…. Thank you all for helping me get through this. Love you all! Thank you truly from the bottom of my heart, every single person who has helped me in some way… no matter how little… Even if it was just a post on my Facebook wall or a text message… Just knowing I’m being thought of in some small way…. means so much to me!


Tomorrow’s my LAST chemo!!!!

I’m dreading but also cannot wait for tomorrow…. just wanting to put all of this behind me! And, I’m praying for no more chemo in my future! EVER.AGAIN. I’ve heard of so many people lately… way too many people…. who’s lives are being taken from this disease…. others are fighting and others have their cancer recurring… I hate cancer!


As I was carrying Greyson down the stairs this morning, I couldn’t help but think…. carrying him will be a thing of the past. Not that he’s not old enough to walk…. but, in the mornings we have this routine… when he wakes up, he wraps his arms and legs around me and we go downstairs…. these moments of being close are fleeting and so I cherish all those moments I get. Since he was newly home…. he’s slept in the crook of my right arm…. and sometimes he still will…. that will not happen anymore… These things run through my mind…. I’m sure there will be many more…. but then I think….. I’ll be here with him ❤

Things I’m looking forward to…. HAIR! My skin returning to normal… (I may need botox), having all my eyebrows and all my eyelashes back…. I will not miss not having to shave.. that has been really nice… 😉 I hope my forgetter gets better… chemo brain has been a trip! No more watery and puffy eyes…. No eye twitch….. I’m looking forward to regaining my strength, exercising…..

Yesterday, Greyson got a GREAT… fantastic report on his eyes…. he’s doing even better than the last time…. I haven’t noticed any crossing lately!


Upcoming week & random thoughts

I have a very busy week this week! It’s good…. it keeps me on my toes!!

Today… I’m taking Greyson for his eye exam at Charlotte Ear Nose & Throat…. we still don’t know for sure if G will require another surgery… so far at all his eye exams he’s been doing great! Hopefully he’ll get the same type of report today….

Tomorrow I’m having lunch with a friend… Wednesday is chemo! Boo!!!! Thursday I have my diagnostic mammogram to prep for surgery…. Friday I have my MRI to prep for surgery… Busy, busy week…

I saw this quote this morning…. so profound! Thank you Chemo/Cancer headgear “Lids of Love” on Facebook 🙂


As I think about my journey…. this crazy, bumpy, frustrating, amazing, eye opening journey…. I think about all of the things that have happened to me since I’ve found out that I have cancer…. With the bad… came amazing new friends, friends that have stood by my side and supported me in ways I never imagined.  I have a select group of quality people who surround me and I’m continually strengthened, encouraged, lifted up and loved by these people. I’m so grateful for their love and support!!!!

This past weekend we had a wedding… I picked up the camera and shot some…. and I realized this very well may be the last wedding I’ll photograph for a long time… seriously makes me sad…

3 weeks, 2 days and 22 hours until I will hopefully be CANCER FREE! I’m praying the the chemo has done what they hoped for…. They aren’t too worried about the boobies…. they want the lymph nodes to be free of cancer so hopefully I won’t need so many removed…. Lately, I can feel the rough edges of the breast tumor again, it had shrunk remarkably before… and Dr. H did tell me that sometimes your body can get accustomed to chemo…. it appears that may be the case. Hopefully, the lymph nodes are behaving!

Happy Monday to everyone! I hope it’s a great week… Thank you for reading my blog!

I won a prize!

I had my pre-op appointment with my plastic surgeon today, Dr. Clavin…. today he told me a little about his experience practicing in both New York and Los Angeles before coming here to Charlotte…  He’s very up to date on the newest procedures, etc… and usually when you have radiation, which most likely I will need – a lot of old school doctors would not give you expanders … he feels very comfortable giving ex-panders despite the radiation! I liked him before… but now…. I really like him….

My health has always been the most important so I would have taken any news given, but I’m not even going to lie and say that I wasn’t dreading being flat chested…. This way, at the time of my mastectomy I will get the expanders right away…. they will be filled over a period of a month before my radiation will begin…. There is a chance that I will have infection, there is a chance that they may not “take” and they may have to be removed… BUT… I’m willing to take those chances. I feel like I’ve done pretty well with everything. Honestly my risk is no bigger than someone elses!

He compliments me every time I go in… last time he commented on my rock hard abs… today he commented on my defined peck muscles…. I just told him – I honestly don’t know where I come from…. My body type is like neither of my parents… however, I’m very similar to my aunts on my Dad’s side. My Mom was with me and I said… I only WISH I got her long legs….

My options for reconstruction are still the same… some type of flap procedure where the skin is taken from my body… they will do a CT scan to determine the best areas with the best blood vessels… but, he is not ruling out implants at this time… I will not be eligible for complete reconstruction until after my body has healed from radiation… Radiation is 6 weeks…. which will land me in July, most likely and then it’s 6-9 months for the skin to heal before I can have reconstruction…. Below is a photo… that shows what and expander is… and how it’s filled…  In any event…. I’m thrilled…. I definitely feel like I won a prize today!


Missing My Art…

With spring in the air and everyone around me beginning their seasons, including us…. I find myself having with drawls, absolutely missing photography as my art. I’ve done 2 shoots since the beginning of the year…. I did a boudoir in January because she’d pre-paid me and I did a bridal shoot in the past couple of weeks…. This weekend we have a wedding that Darrell with be shooting with our 2nd…. and I will be there as a support system, but I will not be shooting.

I feel like I’ve lost my right arm… I feel like I’ve lost a piece of myself…. For the past years photography has been the majority of our income, my passion…. we grew something that was meant to be just a way for me to make enough money to stay home with my son to… something amazing…. and I’m really, really mourning it.

My husband feels like photography and the stress of weddings, the stress of the business side…( not the art side )….he feels that it’s contributed to my condition. Stress is a major contributor. I get it.

This morning I watched the most amazing video of a couple shooting an engaged couple…. I absolutely could cry at the thought of not being able to do this anymore….

My health, my life is more important….. BUT…. today…. right now….. I’m mourning.  I’m still VERY lost about my direction…. Do I get a full time job? Will I be happy with that? How can I re-invent myself as a photographer…. without doing wedding photography? Without working such long days and risking my arms developing lymphedema… I thought about doing boudoir because I absolutely love it…. I just don’t see how it’s possible….

I’m an artist…. I create beautiful things. That is what I do…. how can I NOT do that?

I just don’t know…. I keep hoping it will become clear.


Stick A Needle In It…

Lately, I’ve had A LOT of women telling me their doctor says…. you have cysts…. I don’t believe it!!!! Doctors will hate me… but obviously not everything that looks like a cyst… is a cyst… in 7 months time…. I had a 6cm tumor!

It's Me Sunshine...

I pray that my story…. will encourage every single woman who is 30 and above… to ask their doctor for a mammogram… 30 is the new 40 in my opinion for breast cancer… obviously it does not discriminate… I see 17 & 18 year old girls on these message boards who have it… 😦

Every person who’s looked at me… assures me… what I have now was not there in April. I am not convinced. They said it was cysts…Maybe if it was a completely different location, the opposite side… but this is the EXACT same location as last April…  Well… and what they saw yesterday they thought was a cyst too…. and it wasn’t. But it did look like a cyst on ultrasound. It may come back benign… and if so… FABULOUS… but I told them yesterday… one breast or two, it doesn’t matter… because these are coming off…

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1 month til surgery…

86ae64c71dc7dc74ac2f2d0f8adfa57cIt’s hard to believe… I have one month exactly until my bilateral mastectomy… My friend asked me yesterday if I’m nervous… I’m not “yet”… I haven’t thought about the realization of the surgery… at this point, nothing seems like it would be harder than chemo… but I’m sure it will be very hard in it’s own ways! I don’t know if I’m emotionally prepared for what is to come… Although, after chemo…. there’s not much left anyway…. so I don’t know that I’ll really miss em’ all that much! 

Friday I go for another visit with my plastic surgeon and I will find out if he’s going to give me tissue ex-panders at the time of my surgery…. I’m PRAYING he does… because that means that I won’t be flat chested for the next 9 months or so… He said he’d rapid fill them so that they’d be ready by the time I start radiation which will probably about 1 month after my surgery… He will also discuss the options that my surgical oncologist and his colleagues have come up for me…. A game plan… Where they’ll take the fat from. He did tell me that they’ll need to do a  CT scan to determine where I have fat on my body… Can you even imagine? Never in my life…. would I have thought they’d have to SEARCH for enough fat… lol Implants may be my only option, but on radiated skin they have a pretty high failure rate… 50/50 I believe… But, it appears that they are trying to do a DIEP flap type of surgery…. and although the recovery would be tough…. Hey, I’ve paid my time going through this and I’d like to have the body of my dreams after all this…. My tummy is pretty flat, so that really isn’t an option but below my butt… on the top of my thigh seemed to be a pretty good option for them….. The recovery for that will be BRUTAL, I won’t be able to sit and my front will be sore… so, although in theory it sounds good… the recovery will probably be pretty tough…. so we will see what they come up with… 

Most of all, I’m going to be so happy to be cancer free… hopefully! I hope they get clear margins! I hope that the chemo will have done it’s job with the lymph nodes…. and maybe I won’t need so many removed…. HOWEVER, I told my doctor…. remove whatever you have to because I DO NOT ever want to have to go through this again! I’ll baby my arms if I have to…. I’ll be careful not to bring on lymphedema as much as I can…. 

This time has gone really fast for me… I’ve managed to not go completely stir crazy… and the warm weather is coming…. Most of all, I’m so thankful to be done with chemo…. I cannot wait for HAIR!!!!! I cannot wait to see how it grows back, blonde, black, white, curly, straight…. My fingernails have been pretty sensitive lately… one of the side effects of taxotere (chemo) is that your fingernails can fall off…. well, they’ve been pretty sensitive lately. PRAYING that doesn’t happen…  Although I’ve lost some brows and lashes, they’re thin….. they’re not gone! PRAYING they don’t come out after chemo… that often happens too! I think that’s just a mean trick! lol

Thank you to those who still read…. ❤ I can’t wait to have my after chemo party… I’ve been talking to the girls who’ve remained by my side…. (ya’ll know who you are… shout out!) we’re talking maybe we’ll have a girls night out, instead…. that will be so much fun! Mom and I have a little mini beach trip planned… thanks to Mike Albert and his fundraiser he did a few weeks ago… the winner of the beach vacation turned it back in… so Mom and I are going to have a little break away before my surgery, but after my last chemo… It’s just a few days… but just enough to recharge our batteries! 🙂 

I found this online…. pretty awesome! I may need these! 


Strangers & What Chemo Feels Like

Over the past couple days…. I’ve been out gallivanting…. The weather has been nice… and I’ve been housebound for so long…. I’ve been enjoying some time away from home…. ❤

The other night I was at Walmart…. and this guy in the check out line said…. “So how are you doing?” and then he quickly said… “I wonder when I’m going to get into trouble for saying that…” and I politely smiled and said… “I’m getting there… ” and he mentioned his mother had cancer and how hard it was on her… You know, I’d rather people say something… than say nothing. But, that’s probably me…. instead of looking at me cross eyed or doing a double take…. just ask!! I thought it was really kind of him… he was genuinely concerned…

Yesterday I was at one of my favorite stores… Hobby Lobby…. and an older lady stopped me and said… “Are you in treatment?” and then she said “I’m just finishing treatment” and I looked at her a little strange because she had all her hair….. I said “did you do chemo?” and she explained that she passed on chemo…. This was her 3rd occurrence of cancer… She’d had uterine, melanoma and now breast cancer… She said I’m in my 70’s and cancer doesn’t scare me anymore… “do you ever feel that way?” I honestly didn’t know how to respond to her…. because honestly, I’m just 41…. it does scare the crap out of me actually…. If I were 70 something and had seen my children grow and knew they’d be fine without me.. maybe it wouldn’t be scary…. She opted for no chemo…. all 3 times she had cancer. She was Stage II and did her mastectomy and opted for radiation only….. So… she hugged me… and asked for my first name and asked if she could pray for me…. Of course!!! I just think it’s amazing…. and I’m sure when I’m on the other side of this…. if I see someone wearing a scarf or a hat…. I’m sure I’ll be the person genuinely concerned and hugging a total stranger….. ❤

My friend Kelley posted this link last night on Facebook and I just thought it was so interesting…. to hear someone else’s description of What Chemo Really Feels Like…. and I related so incredibly much….

So he mentions some things….. that I didn’t have… like hiccups… but there are other things that I get from chemo….. and there are things he experiences that I’m so incredibly in tune with! First he talks about how he dreads chemo…. I start talking about it days and days before…. Crap, I’m a week away from chemo… I’m 3 days away from chemo…. Chemo is tomorrow….. It really, really weighs heavily on your mind…. The dread is ridiculous… It’s like you know you’re taking a sucker punch and you’re just waiting for it…. He mentions that it doesn’t matter how many you have left…. For me, it does matter…. I have ONE MORE LEFT!!!!! I know I can make it…. end is in sight…. I still dread it though and it seems like they get a little better on some accounts and a little worse on others….

He talks about the saline taste…. OMG, I can relate…. as soon as they flush my port I can taste it…. My Claritin tastes like it too… and I can taste it just thinking about it…. it’s so gross…

He talks about the nausea…. the burning, disgusting nausea…. but, how he describes it…. Nothing helps but you have to eat and then you feel worse… The first 5 or so days, I barely eat a thing… just enough…. but nothing sounds good, nothing tastes good…. around the week point…. you start inhaling everything in sight, but you still feel sick… That burning nausea just doesn’t go away! It’s just there….. but I think you just get used to it… By about 2 weeks I will start feeling somewhat normal…. and then it’s time to do it again….

I have other things that happen to me that he doesn’t talk about…. I try to drink a lot of water, but it’s not helping and my skin…. my poor skin…. on my face, I have wrinkles by my mouth that I’ve never seen before in my life. My hubs says it’s because I’ve lost so much weight…. but you can move my skin and it stays there…. I was looking at photos of myself from just a couple years ago…. and I feel like chemo has aged me 15 years… All I can do is PRAY it returns to normal when this crap is out of my body….. There is something to be said about FAT because it plumps your wrinkles…. I may seriously need botox…

Around the 8th day….. I wake up with what feels like a head cold…. my nose is stuffy, it runs…. and runs and runs…..and I have no nose hairs, so it just runs out… GROSS!  My eyes get extremely puffy… the entire eye underneath, the lids…. all of the eye…. and they water all the time. Around the 10th day… I get a chemo rash… although it seems the longer I have chemo in my body… the less rash I get…. but it’s usually on my face…. little tiny blisters… Around this time I also get mouth sores…. like all the taste buds in your mouth are sticking out of your tongue….. nothing tastes good, fruit actually stings…. I get other mouth sores too… but sometimes it goes into my throat and feels like I have a sore throat…. they give you a disgusting mouthwash to help…

And then you see people and say…. you’re doing so good!!!!! And I agree… because some people do not get out of bed with the course of chemo I’m taking…. My chemo nurse asked me how I do with it because she has a friend that is doing it and she said… “she doesn’t leave her bed”…. I said it before… I think my body is actually adjusting and getting used to chemo…. and I think everyone around me is adjusting to it as well.… Sometimes my family forgets…… and expects me to do everything I usually do…. My best friend said I’ve made it look easy…. I agree, I have….. I have a really high pain tolerance and I’ve decided that life needs to be lived… chemo or no chemo…. but in doing that… I’ve created a new bar for myself…. and now it’s somewhat expected of me to be “normal”…. sometimes I’m just NOT normal…. and feel like absolute crap.

My husband is getting annoyed with my chemo brain…. I forget if I’ve told him things…. I can’t finish my thoughts or think of words sometimes…..I start to say something and I stop….. It’s actually nice to hear that I am not the only one who experiences this….

My surgery is ONE month away…. ONE month. End is in sight… I cannot wait for all of this to be over…




I’ve talked a lot about my friends…. and how my friends have rallied by my side… What I’d love to talk about today is FAMILY….

Almost 12 years ago… I moved to North Carolina from Wisconsin and left a lot of family in Wisconsin. My father is one of 13 children…. My Mom is one of 5 children…. So needless to say… I have A LOT of family. I haven’t seen much of my family for many, many years…. This past year I was able to see some of them while we visited…. Facebook is amazing because it’s allowed me to re-connect with many of my cousins, aunts and uncles….. It’s a way of staying in touch and connected without physically having to be there…. My Mom’s side of the family is a bit more contained…. it’s easier to keep track of who’s who….. My father’s side of the family on the other hand….. it’s like a spider web of people procreating and growing and I sadly don’t even know all of my family anymore!!!! I’ve always said… I have dozens and dozens of cousins…..

While growing up, my cousins were truly my friends…. we always hung out together…. our family gatherings were large and loud! A  lot of beer drinking and singing….. It was a lot like a Hank Williams “Family Tradition”… as a matter of fact that was the family anthem…. and it was sung loud and proud at every gathering….. Gosh, I miss it! A lot of great memories…..

Growing up, I’d sing… alongside my Dad and my uncles…. and now cousins…. Singing and good ol’ country music runs deep within our blood….. And rednecks don’t only reside in the south…. 🙂 It’s a truly amazing family dynamic!

What’s amazing to me…. is despite years and distance (Wisconsin, Arkansas, North Carolina & Alabama)…. my family came together in a way for me that I just honestly never expected….  I’m going to TRY so hard to make it up to Wisconsin this year, so I can hug each and every one of you personally…..Thank you so much!

There are a lot of boys and less girls in my Dad’s family… but the girls stick together like glue…. I’ve mentioned my Aunt Patty before…. she suffered a few years ago from the exact same type of breast cancer that I have…. and she has been such an amazing source of support for me during this time…. When you have had cancer… it’s amazing – the bond you share…

I just want you all to know just how much I love you all and I miss you terribly…. and can’t wait to see you all very soon!

My Mom’s family is a lot more quaint… My grandmother is still alive is is 94 years old… and as sharp as a tack! I was able to see her last summer.. She calls my Mom all the time to check on me to see how I’m doing….. There are 5 kids total… Several of my aunts and cousins and I are able to keep touch on Facebook which is so amazing…. It’s amazing the older I’ve gotten, my personality, loyalty, etc…. comes from my Dad’s side of the family… but my appearance, etc…. is so much like my Mom’s side of the family….. I love you all so much and so appreciate all the love and support and encouragement…. it means so much to me!

I’ve talked some about my Mom & Dad…. watching me go through cancer… has been one of the hardest things for them to watch….. I’ve always been a pretty resilient kid…. Ahhh, I still am!!! 🙂 My Dad is a strong man who fixes…. and this is something he cannot fix… and I know it’s hard for him. My Mom… is nurturing and amazing…. truly a kind, amazing person…. I know that they are so proud of me… watching me battle this! I look forward to the day…. when it will be me taking care of them!!!

I have two brothers…. Dean and Dan…. I know this is killing them as well….. My brother Dean said, it’s just too hard to watch sometimes….. I totally get it….. Even though I have cancer…. I still can’t believe it. I’m going through chemo…. I’m going through all of this… but I still can’t believe it’s real…. I say it ALL the time!!! Both of my brothers…. were off doing their teenage things…. when I was growing up…. fast cars and girls…. 🙂 There is an 8 an 10 year difference between us…. so hanging out with the sis’ was not exactly their ideal idea of a way to spend the day….. ❤ But… we had our moments…. our very special moments and memories and a bond…. that is amazing. Again… I thank Facebook for a way to peek into their lives… see their kids grow… and feel a part of the family….  And…. I’ll talk about my kids in another post…. this is getting way too long….. ❤ ❤

It’s so important to reflect upon your family, tell them how much you love them… OFTEN. Our days are not promised….