Hello Hospital…

So… I’m admitted into the hospital and I honestly don’t know how long I’ll be here… The communication here is not the greatest – quite a contrast from CMC Main… Thursday night, Darrell and I went to dinner… we had a very busy weekend ahead and some good friends had given us a gift card…. so we decided to have a date! Earlier that day, I was at radiation and talked to my doctor… about my nagging headache… He asked me what I do to relax… and told me to maybe get some more relaxation in… So before we went to dinner, I went for an extra long walk…. I felt fine! After dinner Thursday… I had a bit of a tummy ache when I went to bed… but felt ok… Around 1am… I woke up with this excruciating pain…. I couldn’t lay on my back, my sides… nothing would help me feel comfortable. I tried to sleep…. I had woken up Darrell and he said it was probably from radiation… try to get some rest. I tried… I took a shower and ran it on the back of my neck… which is where the pain was radiating… in my back and up my neck… I just wasn’t going away… I’ve been to the ER a few times now for this feeling that something is in my right lung… and it’s been nothing, but… I told Darrell…. I have an extremely HIGH pain tolerance… and there was something wrong… I was going to drive myself to the ER… and I did. And I’m glad I did… After I was here, the pain was so bad… I was literally rocking back and forth in pain…. They had sent me for another CT scan… (I just had one last week Wednesday)… I honestly didn’t think it was anything… I thought I had a bulged disk or something… It felt like nerve pain… I begged for pain medicine… and the Dr. finally came in and said, “how about some Morphine? You do have a PE”… which is Pulmonary Embolism… a blood clot in the lung…. She said we’re going to admit you and need to get you on some blood thinners…. so they’ve given me Lovenox shots every 12 hours and managed my pain…

They’ve given me an ultrasound in my legs…. to make sure I didn’t have any other blood clots…. My radiation oncologist called yesterday to find out why I missed my appointment… My nurse was supposed to contact them… and I said “they didn’t’ tell you?” He was up here in a matter of minutes…. He said that headache that you’ve had… he said now I wonder? And… any time you have any symptoms in the future, I’m going to want to scan you… ” So.. he arranged to have them come get me to take me down to have radiation yesterday….

I emailed my surgical oncologist last night…. to let her know I was in the hospital for PE… She replied

“Hi Dawn,
I’m so sorry.  How large was the PE? I hope it was on the smaller side as the prior CT scans didn’t see it.

On the flip side, we finally have a reason for your pulmonary symptoms.  Yes you will be on heparin until they bridge you to oral Coumadin or Lovenox shots for six months. That will be up to Dr.Brouse. I’m sure he will get in touch with you soon.

Yes, Tamoxifen is out. The others are iffy as they all have a chance of blood clots and PE.

Talking about that surgery is not a bad idea if you are done having children, understanding that you will go into menopause much sooner :(.

I hope that you are a little relieved, if that is possible, that cancer is not the reason for your symptoms. I am.

As always, you did the right thing by reaching out and being persistent.

Good job.

Let me know what Dr.Brouse says.


We know our own bodies… We need to listen to our bodies…

I mentioned to her that I’d be willing to have a total hysterectomy so that my body would stop making so much estrogen and progesterone… Which is what the Tamoxifen is for… to prevent those hormones from being made… but a side effect is blood clots… So I will no longer be able to take any form of those meds… So, I might end up having surgery…

The problem is… my risk of cancer recurrence is 50% without this medicine… so I’ll need to do whatever I have to… to prevent a recurrence… With Tamoxifen the accumulated risk was 30%…. Menopause it is… most likely. It will be worth it… to be here.

I’m praying that all the other changes I’ve made… plus radiation will keep this cancer away!!! My radiation oncologist was insistent that I did not miss yesterday…. to make sure we zap any cells!!!

Another bump in the road… at least I know there is a reason for my Pulmonary symptoms and like Dr. H said… we know it’s not cancer…. and we caught it in time…. I’m still here to talk about it…. Life is good!

However my headache is back above my eyebrow…. and I have told the nurse…. so let’s pray I have nothing else going on!!!

My poor husband… has to manage 2 very large weddings that we had planned this weekend…. We have a 12 hour Persian wedding and a 10 hour Greek wedding on Sunday…. He has had SO much on his plate… finances, weddings, worry about me… In times of need, people really come forward and help… I must thank a very dear friend that has been seriously an angel to me during my cancer journey… Juliet Harless… I met Juliet during this journey and Juliet has truly been an amazing friend to me… emotionally supporting me and this weekend… they are stepping in for me at these weddings… I cannot thank them enough…. Also, tomorrow… many thanks to Whitney Gray for helping us out and helping shoot…

The timing of this could not be worse… not one but 2 weddings where the brides so desperately wanted me to attend…. I’m SO sorry!!! I hope that you’ll understand, if I was not attached to this place… I would be there for you….

Hugs & Love… (D and I hanging out yesterday at the hospital)


Time Warp…

Cancer really takes so much from you…. it takes your hair, it takes your eyebrows, now my eyelashes, truly your entire sense of vanity at some point, you’re seriously like…. what in the hell does it really matter anymore….. it took my fat (I’m not complaining there) but it did leave me with some sagging skin (I will complain about that) 😉    But, holy smokes…. it also takes your time. Going through chemo…. feels like you’re on a slow moving train and people are passing by in front of you quickly…. I thought, awesome… I’ll have this time to just recoup and get better…. It honestly went by so fast… Then surgery, boy that was a whirlwind…. and with wedding season thrown in the mix of it all…. Now, it’s time for radiation too… and I feel literally like I’m in a time warp. May is almost over! How in the heck did that happen????

I realllllly want to enjoy this summer! We went to the pool Monday and I had to stay in the shade…. 😦 I’m going to be covered in burns all summer…. so shade and floppy hats it is… I’m really trying to not be pissy and moany about all the things that have changed about my life…. But, please, just let time go a little more slowly…. that’s ALL I ask…. I’d really love to have a summer… despite the fact that a good portion of it will be spent in a hospital!

One of my favorite artists is Toby Keith…. I thought, awesome… one of the things I will treat myself to this summer is…. A Toby Keith Concert!!!! Went to look at the schedule… He’s NOT coming to Charlotte? Since when doesn’t he come to Charlotte??? Country Comes To Town!!!! Boo…. Toby, I haven’t made all your concerts when you have come to town… but I will REALLY miss you this year! I will be seeing Rascal Flatts, however… with my bestie… and I’m extremely excited about that!

One thing I realllllly have wanted to talk about is my BFF…. she’s in the picture I’m going to include in this blog post…. When she came to visit in January, she talked about how great it would be if she could move here to be with me during this time. I never thought it could possibly happen… They had to sell their house (which they wanted to anyway)… find jobs and move here. It’s happening. I can’t even believe what a spoiled girl I am….. her best friend and her family leaves Nashville to come to live closer to me to be nearer to me during this journey that I’m almost finished with….. I do feel a lot guilty about that. I feel like it’s an awful big sacrifice to do that…. for ME!? I’m honestly so very blessed…. Literally, it’s a week away…. and they will be here… PINCH ME!!!! Like I said… PLEASE let this summer go slowly…. so I can just soak it all up…. Unfortunately, Tracey…. it won’t be spent on rafts soaking up the rays…… with Jim Beam and Diet Cokes in our hand…. BOOOOOOO!  Water for me and I’ll watch you soak under the umbrella….. ❤ It’s time together… I’ll take it! ❤ I miss my buddy Eddie too…. he’s in this photo! Good times… good friends! Our time is not promised…. enjoy it! All of it!!! Even time spent under the umbrelly! 🙂



It’s Radiation Day!

I’m all marked and ready to go! At 1:30 every day starting today I will have radiation until July….. From what I understand it can flare Lymphedema… it can cause a plethora of other things… but I’m trying to just completely avoid the thought of any of that…. and focus on what it’s doing, hopefully eradicating any residual cancer cells that may be floating around in there…. They say that radiation can make you very tired… some people it can make them nauseous… I don’t know how I’ll react yet. But, as long as the effects don’t come on until after this next weekend we are good…. We have two VERY long weddings this weekend… that I need to be a part of!

As it turns out, at weddings… I’ve been doing way more than I should or that I’m supposed to… and my arm hurts deep inside…  but, I just wear my sleeve and hope it helps! I find that when I’m there… I can’t help myself… I feel like my little Jack Russell dog…. looking out the window at squirrels… when it comes to weddings…. I just can’t help myself, that camera is just drawn to my hand… I’m not listening to my doctor…. but we have just a few more weddings to complete…

More than anything, radiation is just a pain because I have to go every single day…. and I have to go when I don’t have Greyson and that ends up being smack dab in the middle of the day…. so my brides, I pray I will not get off track with your edits….. I’m trying my very hardest to manage all this…..

Someone asked me what the machine looks like… it looks just like this….. That little arm comes over you and you have to lay perfectly still while it send radiation beams into you…. For me they are being extra cautious because they are trying to avoid damaging my heart….



This will hopefully be over very soon…. I’ve heard that at this point, emotionally, physically….. exhaustion sets in… breakdowns occur…  But…. I plan to win this race! Pressing on….


Tamoxifen – Oncology Visit, Etc…

f4dd133d2cef8f682930dc7f45790966Today I met with my oncologist… He wanted to me to start Tamoxifen shortly after surgery and thus my visit today… It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a month since surgery… He told me from the very beginning that Tamoxifen would be my biggest ally with the type of cancer I have… The invasive lobular carcinoma is a tricky beast….

So when Dr. Brouse came in to visit with me today, he asked me…. how are you? “Frustrated I bet” he said… I said, yes… I was very shocked there was so much cancer that remained… He said “it was really surprising considering that the breast really reacted well to chemo”…. What he meant by that was… my breast had developed a large dimple… or crease from the nipple back to the armpit and the nipple was pulling inward towards the armpit…. that had bounced back somewhat or so it seemed…

After chemo… I could still feel the hardened tissue…. but they told me it may be scar tissue. Hope for the best, right? I did!!! When they saw my NORMAL MRI…. everyone was excited, including me… but elusive that was, for sure. 8cm of Lobular cancer, plus 7 of 12 nodes were cancerous….

I told him, I don’t trust these tests… he said he can understand why! There’s good reason, they’ve failed me more than once now! I asked him how long he thinks the lobular cancer has been there… he said, I bet 3 years…. I had a mammogram in 2012 and early 2013…. both did not detect the cancer. The LARGE amount of cancer….

With the amount of cancer and the nodes affected…. he said my recurrence rate without Tamoxifen is about 50%… with Tamoxifen it’s about 30%… I asked him point blank… Ladies my age, with similar status on Tamoxifen… have you seen recurrence? He said “we’re being brutally honest and that answer is yes and I don’t mean to scare you, but it does” and then he said “Unfortunately with Lobular cancer, it comes back, it’s the nature of the cancer”… On the plus side, he said “it’s a slow growing cancer so it’s not life altering right away if it does reoccur..  ” But.. by the time it shows it’s face… it’s usually progressed right along…

That being said… I’ve had this continual problem with my lung, since right after diagnosis…. I had a CT scan then, I had one during chemo for the same area that was bothering me…. and now… it’s back with a vengeance. I haven’t mentioned it, because you know… we cancer patients, we think everything is cancer…. There have been times when I do not feel it, but when I do feel it… it’s always in the very same area…. He said “Do I think it’s in your lung? No… Could it go to your lung? Yes” So, he’s ordered me another CT scan which I’ll have next week. He said… it could be something in the rib wall or the chest wall…. that is bothering me when I breathe deeply…. but we will pray that it’s not. My problem is… now I do not trust the tests. If it was a problem that came and went, if it moved locations…. but it doesn’t. Do I feel consoled that he said he doesn’t think it is in my lung? Not really…. I don’t trust these tests and the lobular cancer is a sneaky, sneaky cancer… it does not like to show it’s face. Although the doctors tell me it would in different locations…. I’ve done my own research.

So, what to do? I’m just going to be proactive with my own health… I’m going to get even stricter with myself… and eat a stricter diet of juicing cancer fighting vegetables… I’m going to eat a diet of raw foods and cancer fighting fruits and eat very little meats… and if I do, it will be wild caught fish or seafood or occasionally lamb…

Today at the doctor, although I told him… I’m ecstatic to be at this weight, it concerns me that I’ve lost almost another 10lbs since my surgery… very, very unusual for me… Could it be my diet? I hope so!!!!! I really do…

So, I’ll start Tamoxifen… he claims the benefits outweigh greatly the risks of it causing uterine cancer and blood clots…. and I’ll pray HARD that I have no side effects… I asked him, if I’m going to blow up like a blowfish from the Tamoxifen and he claims that the placebo patients gained as much as the Tamoxifen patients… I could afford to gain a few pounds, though… I HATE the idea of taking it… I really do… But, I’m honestly scared to death not to…. I trust that my body will heal itself, but I don’t know if I trust it 100%… without help.



Soooo tired lately….

I’ve been unable to stay awake lately after 8:30-9… and sleeping til 7am+…. My husband thinks I may be anemic because I’ve given up red meat….. which is entirely possible. So I will be headed to vitamin shoppe today to find something to supplement my iron. I eat tons of spinach and that is full of iron…. but apparently the iron you get from red meat is entirely different.

I found this amazing link yesterday for those who are considering clean eating and don’t have menu ideas and need it spelled out…. http://bzfd.it/1jAOGol

I found this sheet to use for myself as well…. I can’t eat soy because my cancer is hormone fed and soy creates estrogen…. but the others, are great sources…. I’ve been eating walnuts and almonds a lot lately, actually…. but these aren’t on these lists…. So this morning I think I’ll have some quinoa for breakfast…. 🙂

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Cure Diva

I just had to tell you my exciting news…. I had a shoot about a month or so ago with LunahZon Photography (www.lunahzon.com) – Makeup by Erin Ashley Makeup…It was an empowerment shoot…. Anyway, I was asked to be a guest blogger on Cure Diva (www.curediva.com) it’s an amazing website full of information and just about any product you can imagine you’d need if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer… Anyway, they are using my photo on their homepage… It’s one of 4 different photos that slides through…. So incredibly humbling and neat!!!!

Wo… wo… wo… worry…..


Why do I let myself worry?

Every single cancer patient can relate…. It’s hard not to worry. It’s hard not to let your mind go there…. and worry about every little pain, worry about being here for your family or your kids…. It’s next to impossible to not worry to some degree…. I’m the biggest worrier I think God ever created. I have worried about things that will never happen….

This worry is very real, however… and unfortunately it is the reality of anyone who’s had cancer.

But, there comes a time… when you have to give it to God. Throw your burdens on him….

I had a visit with a friend yesterday who’s being treated for Stage 4 breast cancer. They’ve given her a time stamp and she is not focusing on those numbers. She amazes me… she’s out there worshiping and doing everything in her power to “walk with God”… We change our diets, we change our lifestyle, we undergo all these treatments….. and we rely on him….. I can’t imagine being in her shoes…. but she is truly the most positive, amazing person I’ve met…. and she IS going to beat this thing and she IS going to be that amazing one at the end of that tail….

I have stage 3 breast cancer and we discussed this yesterday… With Lobular cancer  it’s very sneaky and not detectable at times… So I have to trust that everything that I am doing…. to prevent a recurrence… is putting me in remission. And 5 years from now… I’ll have beaten those odds as well….

I have to trust that the doctors will do everything in their power to protect my heart and my lungs from radiation….

And… put everything in his hands…

My surgeon highly recommends relaxation and meditation…. lymphatic massages and relaxation. I’ve been trying each day to spend at least 10 minutes on Calm.com… it really does help a lot. And… prayer. It helps so incredibly much.

When we worry it robs us of today’s peace…. Give it to God… we can only control what we can physically control… diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation, limiting stress…..

I need to heed my own advice…. ❤


Losing weight isn’t all that great….

I think my whole entire life I would have done some crazy things to be at the weight I am now and suffice to say, I never even came close… Maybe if I was 20 at this weight, it would be ok…. But being almost 42 and at this weight…. isn’t so great! I’m not complaining… in clothes it’s ok… Thank goodness for Yoga Pants!

Let’s say… I’ve always had an ample behind…. My body is strange… From my waist up, I have NO fat. NONE. Like you can’t pinch any fat…. And then there is the bottom half… I’m you’re typical hourglass figure… Or I was. I have lost my butt…. I didn’t think that was possible…

Today in the dressing room, I was mortified….. I caught a glimpse of myself…. and this is what I saw…..


I’m not talking the little one…. the big one…. I’m like a Grandma back there who needs to grow into her skin…..

There is a reason when you’re older that you should have some weight on you…..

Dr. Clavin is talking about taking skin from back there….. oh my gee…. I don’t know if I want that on my boobs… :O

He is awfully talented however, maybe he can fix it all….. it’s a hot mess!

Diet & Yoga/Exercise…

heart shape by various vegetables and fruits

Anyone who’s kept up with my “journey” knows that as soon as I found out that I had cancer, I immediately made some changes….

I was a photographer (I am a photographer)… but I was extremely busy… and one of the ways I enjoyed life was…  cocktails…. I enjoyed my indulgences… let’s just say! I immediately cut that out…. and this weekend I found some VERY interesting information regarding the statistics about how alcohol influences your risk of breast cancer…. Here is a VERY interesting link regarding those findings….. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/080112p48.shtml

Next, I cut out all table sugars but kept stevia, agave nectar, honey and 100% natural maple syrup in my diet at that time…. I ate gluten free… and I eliminated beef and pork… I drank alkaline water, etc…

I was so confident in my diet that it was helping my progress with chemo…. until I received my pathology report after my mastectomy…. I was not very happy with how much cancer was left.

So, I’ve implemented some more changes…. I’ve now eliminated almost all natural sugars as well… other than on very rare occasions… I will have stevia… and fortunately Lily’s makes chocolate that is sweetened with stevia and for anyone who knows me….. I need my chocolate and now I can still have it. So this is my little treat… and I’ll have a few bars each day! Additionally…. I’ve been juicing. I went garage saling with my Mom on Saturday morning. I needed 2 things… clothes for Greyson and a Juicer… and I scored both! A juicer never used for $10 and an entire wardrobe of guess, Ralph Lauren and Nike clothing for $50 and when I say an entire wardrobe… I mean…. his drawers are fulll!!!! It was a productive day…. Anyway, I’ve been juicing at least for breakfast each day….. I was not one to eat breakfast… but I’ve been losing quite a bit of weight lately… so I thought maybe those extra calories would help…. As of right now, from when I was diagnosed… I’ve lost about 27lbs… It did help some… I didn’t lose today and I was up .1 of a lb…. Also, I wouldn’t say I’m a vegetarian…. because I do love meat and I do miss steaks and burgers…. but I eat very small amounts of meat…. I mean… a few bites…. Usually if we go out to eat, I’ll eat a salad and maybe a side of veggies and a sweet potato… or some french fries (on occasion)…. I will not TOUCH McDonalds, not even if I’m starving….. I won’t even eat their salads…. In a pinch, I’ll go to Taco Bell and eat their Pinto’s and Cheese…

I wanted to implement Yoga… and messaged my Surgeon and she quickly told me… No Yoga… It uses the arms… and my arm is already developing lymphedema… It’s  a mild case at this point, but I do wear a compression sleeve… and unless you measure my arms from before til now… you wouldn’t know because my arms are pretty thin…. but, on the underneath… where you’d normally get the flab… my left arm has flab and swelling to the elbow and my right arm does not. So, my exercise will be walking…. I’m considering walking in the mornings with Greyson…. because it seems nights never allow enough time to walk….

Also, she said I should meditate… A friend recommended a site… Calm.com and it allows you to take 2, 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes to just relax…. it’s very therapeutic…. I recommend it!





Yesterday I had my first “fill” to my expanders… while awake. I took a pain pill before I left just in case… but it really wasn’t  as painful as I expected. When he inserted the needle I felt a couple second zinger and then when he pulled it out… you could feel it. I haven’t been brave enough to post my personal photos on my blog… but I’m extremely pleased with how my “foobs”  are looking. I told my plastic surgeon that I wanted to be bigger than I was… He said maybe 1 or 2 more fills depending on my preference… I think they look great, even now…. I want to be proportionate to my body… so we’ll see how the next fill goes!

I wanted to show a few photos I found to explain what expanders are….This is similar to the photo he showed me in his office…. it shows the different between the expander and the implant…

Today, I’m not really sore at all…. I feel a tiny bit stretched, but that is to be expected… I’m really happy with my recovery so far…. But, I have a long way to go with the reconstruction process…


Dr. Clavin more than humored me to get this photo… I told him he would be on my blog and I promised to send it to him so that he could see…  Dr. Clavin I appreciate very much what you have done for me… fighting for me to get me these objects that sort of resemble boobs…. but they honestly have made me feel so much better about myself. I honestly cannot imagine how I’d have felt coming out of surgery to a flat or concave chest… I tried to prepare myself, but I don’t honestly think there is a way to prepare yourself. I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw when they looked at my chest…. and I have told you that I’ve researched A LOT…. and I’m so happy with the job you have done so far on me…. Thank you! And, thank you for this photo… 🙂