With All My Heart…

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I’ve never been known not to do something… and not give it everything that I have within me to give… Whether that’s being a mother, a photographer,  a wife, a daughter and a friend…. Once I decide that you are worthy of my heart, I give you my all…. I have decided to give myself the same worthiness…. for all of the above mentioned reasons…

When I found out I had cancer on November 14, 2013… my world literally felt like it would crumble in a million pieces. You do not know what to expect… You think of Cancer and you think of the very worst possible outcome. We discussed them actually…. There is this waiting period where you just don’t have the answers and your mind escapes you…. Once you have the answers you need to fight and cope with the news you were just devastated with it gives you the tools you need to fight… to regain perspective and to pull back those reigns and realize…. Ok, I can do this! 

I’m still very deep within my treatment… I’ve completed 5 out of 6 total Chemo treatments of TAC. It’s certainly not been easy…. but it’s not been horrific either… It’s tolerable. It’s like getting a really bad flu every few weeks… but you come out of it and you feel accomplished. You managed to get through another one and you have a reason to be proud. I still have quite a long road ahead of me…. I have a double mastectomy planned… I have 6 weeks of radiation ahead of me… and then quite a long recovery period before I can start rebuilding what I’ve painfully fought so hard to fight….

I’m the type of person that when I go into whatever project I’m doing… whatever life passion…. whatever, literally I have set in front of me…. I give it 125%. I’m not going to do something with half effort…. The same has gone for my health. When you read about breast cancer, the ways it spreads… etc… It can be very, very scary… I’ve scared myself quite a few times…. You learn of the bad outcomes but then you realize…. there are a heck of a lot more positive outcomes than the bad ones…. And you’ll hear it over and over and over and over….. Have a positive attitude… There are the people who are diagnosed with cancer and they instantly think they are given a life sentence… and then there are the people who take the information, empower themselves with knowledge and take every possible resource and use it to their advantage…. I would say that this is the route I have taken on this journey.

There are a million different things that people will come to you with to help you to fight this disease… and you need to find the ones that are doable for you…. and use those things. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs what I have done and I’ll outline briefly some of the things I have done in my daily diet to help me…. 1. Cut out sugar 2. Cut out red meat and pork 3. Drink alkaline water 4. Eat an alkaline diet… 5. Eat a gluten free diet (Cancer has been known to to thrive in a sugar fed body and an acidic body and by feeding it these things, which my diet was extremely rich in before… I’m preventing the cancer from growing and possibly even killing the cancer).

  • It’s so important to have a sense of humor and laugh at yourself…
  • Find blessings in the smallest of things…
  • Find out who your friends are…and cling to them because they will help you rise above all of this…
  • Regain perspective – the things that seemed so important before, suddenly…. are not important at all. (Don’t sweat the small things)
  • Enrich your relationships… take the time to say the things to the people you love, take the time to hug them….Do not hold back…
  • The changes your body will undergo are startling sometimes…. Some of the things I have experienced from chemo… besides the hair loss, extremely dry skin, watery eyes… rashes, wrinkles…. But, I’ve decided rather than to dwell on them…. I’ve decided to embrace them. I don’t hide my head unless it’s cold…. This is not something to be embarrassed of… it’s a part of my life right now and it’s a part that will eventually be in my past…
  • Look forward to our future…. Make a list of 10 things you want to do and make sure you can make them attainable… and do them… I created my living bucket list…. It really gives you something to look forward to….
  • And once I regain my strength…. EXERCISE!!!!

I have decided to love me, accept me with all my heart… just as I have done for the others in my life…. because it’s as important for me to be here for them… and I am fighting… so incredibly hard and will continue to fight this nasty disease…

They told me that my type of cancer may be affected by about 10% with chemo… and ultimately surgery and Tamoxifen would be the savior for the type of cancer I have….. I’m ER+/PR+/HER2- IDC, ILC – Stage 3A My tumor was once 6cm…. and I can still feel it, but it’s shrunk measurably… My oncologist is THRILLED at the result…. he’s giving all the praise and glory to chemo!

Not me…. Do I think chemo has helped… absolutely! But, I think that loving myself with all my heart and being so disciplined to do all the things above…. is ultimately as a package helping me succeed!

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Recovering…

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This chemo has been brutal on me with nausea…I’ve been flip flopping my meds to stay somewhat free of nausea… I’ve lost a total of 25lbs now… I will regain some before the next one, that’s typically how it goes… but today, I’m feeling exceptionally “light”… I eat and sometimes it helps, sometimes it makes it worse… so I’ve been trying to stay very hydrated with my alkaline water. I’ve been pretty sleepy as well from the meds… so I’ve just been taking time to recoup…

I’m in the home stretch… I know I can make it… just one more time of this…so not a lot of complaints, it is what it is…. This too shall pass! 🙂

I think other than the nausea, my body is adjusting to the side effects… the taste in my mouth is not as bad as usual…. and I feel like I’m up and around more than usual… My bestie sent me a card yesterday…. and she said something that I was proud of…. She said “I can’t even imagine how hard this has been on you and you’ve handled it all so well… So well, that I think sometimes people forget what a difficult, exhausting, horrible process this is! ” I really feel like for being on one of the hardest regimens of chemo… that I’ve handled it like a champ… That is something to be proud of… Now I can sail through surgery…. and regain my strength…. I certainly feel like I need to re-strengthen my body, I’ve lost core strength and simple things like opening cans are harder for me… all of those things will come back in time…. and hopefully I’ll be stronger than ever!

It’s a beautiful sun shiny day…. and I plan to sit in it for awhile, when my hubs comes home from golfing…. Missing him today… ❤ Enjoy your Sunday!

5th Chemo Down… 1 to go!!!

Today I tackled my 5th chemo… My friend Juliet took me and she hung out with me and brought me home today… I have ONE MORE TO GO!!!!!  Thank you Juliet for hanging with me all day!!! March 26th I will have completed chemo. My surgery is scheduled for April 17th…

I have had a lot of people ask me why I can’t continue photographing weddings… Due to the long hours and the repeated motion… and the weight of the cameras – that puts me at a risk of developing lymphedema. I have a friend who just had her bilateral mastectomy (both breasts) and she is already developing lymphedema. For 3 years, she told me I need to be extremely careful with lifting, repetitive motion, etc. Lympedema occurs when your lymph nodes are removed… I am not sure how many lymph nodes will be removed at this time… that will depend on a test that they will do while I’m going through my surgery. She said it’s a blue dye test… and if there is cancer present, it will show up… they continue to test the lymph nodes going in… and they take 3-4 more past the last cancerous one… so it’s entirely dependent on how many have cancer…. the more removed, the higher the risk. There are different degrees… but it can be debilitating… Here are some examples…

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There are varying degrees of what it can be like.. not everyone gets it, it’s dependent on the person…. but it can be debilitating and it can cause you to have pain and it can be disabling… My surgical oncologist is trying to prevent this at all costs…. Lymphedema does not go away once you have it, from my understanding….

The other thing that you can get is cording… and I’d like to thank Ann Marie from https://www.facebook.com/stupiddumbbreastcancer?ref=br_tf (Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer) for making us aware of another potential problem called Cording… Ann Marie has developed cording and will require physical therapy to help her heal from this… and this is Ann Marie’s photo of her arm that has developed cording…

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I’m extremely proud of myself and how far I’ve come… My doctor is extremely pleased with my result from chemo… he told us today that he did not expect that type of result from chemo with the type of breast cancer that I have…. and I contribute a lot of this success to MY DIET!!! My doctor is a cynic when it comes to this theory…. but I was talking to my best friend yesterday… The main causes of breast cancer are…

1. STRESS

2. DIET

3. LACK OF EXERCISE

I plan to dramatically change all of these things… my chance for occurrence is quite high in my opinion…. so I do plan to change all 3 of these things… I’ve got the diet down… I’m working on the stress… and I will be implementing exercise in full force when I’m done with chemo… I want to run… so if you feel tremors in Charlotte, you’ll know… Dawn started running 🙂

Love you all!

A successful fundraiser!!

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My friend Mike Albert from Charlotte Video Ventures/Charlotte Range Masters along with Elite Training Academy and Lynn Ellison Bovidge, put together an amazing fundraiser that was right up their alley… Mike is former SWAT team from Pittsburgh and to say the least he is highly trained in firearms…They had a lot of people come out and support this event, it was extremely successful… every pun intended… they definitely hit their target!! It was a lot of fun! So many great vendors came out to support… I am so thankful to all of these people who supported me and participated…. It was so nice to meet several people that I’ve come to know… and I was so happy to see several of the industry friends who came out, as well… Thank you.

I felt great yesterday… despite my typical runny nose and watery eyes…. I was excited to attend! It was a gorgeous day outside… and I was shocked when I pulled in and the cars were pouring in…. When I went inside I knew maybe 10 people total…. the rest were complete strangers. Amazing…

Pizza, soda, water, candy, chips and cupcakes were served. It was simple and no fuss, no muss…. Perfect. They made T-shirts that people could order and I was so excited when I checked my Facebook yesterday and my cousin and his wife were wearing the T-Shirts… back home in Wisconsin! So neat!!!

Thank you sooooo very much to Mike Albert, his wife… Lynn Ellison Bovidge, the staff and vendors – thank you to my friends and brides and grooms (past and future) who came out to support me yesterday! One of my brides Mom’s won one of the door prizes… and one of my future grooms won THREE prizes!!!!

They asked me if I wanted to shoot… heck, why not…. I did amazingly well! Every single shot except the first one before I was prepped on how to handle a gun was…. ON TARGET! 🙂 I was quite proud of myself! It was a lot of fun…

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Thank you to all of the people who spread the word for this event… I hope you realize just how truly grateful I am for the amazing show of love and support!!!! I am moving forward and focusing on exactly what I need to focus on…. staying positive, staying stress free and fighting this disease. I have good days and bad days…. I don’t photograph the bad days, so what you see are most likely the great days!! Yesterday was not just a great day, but an amazing day. I’m truly so thankful and humbled by the love and support and I truly, truly mean that!!!

Many thanks to:

Donation of Services

Elite Training Academy – 2811 Chamber Dr, Monroe, NC 280110 – Charlotte Range Masters – www.elitetrainingacademync.com/

Chris Bollinger – Bollinger Images – http://bollingerimages.com/

Rick Hyburg – Audio To Go –  http://atgdj.com/

Dayna Robidoux – Carolina Cake Artistry – http://www.carolinacakeartistry.com/

Hungry Howies Pizza – Indian Trail – http://www.hungryhowies.com/store/hungry-howies-623

Donation of Prizes

Juliet Harless – Juliet Photography – http://www.julietphotography.com/

Gotcha Studios – Frank Ramos – http://www.gotcha-studios.com/

Rose Sunkten – Rose Sunkten Art – https://www.facebook.com/RoseSuntken

Serenity Hair Spa- https://www.serenityhairspa16131.com

Take Aim Training – http://takeaimtrainingrange.wildapricot.org/

Charlotte Motor Speedway – www.charlottemotorspeedway.com

Comedy Zone – http://www.cltcomedyzone.com/

Ken Thomas Photography – http://www.kenthomasphotography.com/

Firethorne Country Club – http://www.firethornecountryclub.com/

Bello Trove  Hand Crafted Candles & Soaps – http://www.bellotrove.com

Charlotte Checkers – http://www.gocheckers.com/

Stevens Mill Photography – http://www.stevenmillsphotography.com/

Queen City K9 – http://www.qck9.com

Ellet Brothers – www.Ellett.com

Gander Mountain Monroe – http://www.gandermountain.com/

510 Expert Tattoos – www.510experttattoo.com/

Thank you so much for all of those who love me, know me and are supporting me through one of the hardest times in my life. You all make it so much easier for me! I’m so grateful for you all! Wednesday I have chemo…. after that I have ONE MORE LEFT!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to celebrate the completion of chemo!!!

Much LOVE!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤