Reflections ~ Biopsy Results: Gratitude Journal #9

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This past week has been very emotional! I spent most of it waiting for my biopsy results. I was in good shape for the most part, until Wednesday came. I felt anxiety creeping in as I began to think about how these results were going to change my life. I waited for the Nurse Practitioner to call me with the results and the morning whirled by and my anxiety began rising. The office’s lunch period quickly came and went and I decided to call if I hadn’t heard from her by 2:00pm.

Finally, the call I’d waited for six days finally came. I was so nervous as I answered the telephone. My stomach was in knots as I thought about the possibilities that were before me. Benign or Cancerous? Radiation or Chemo and a Full Hysterectomy, or just a Full Hysterectomy. I gasped for air as she began explaining the results of my biopsy. She stated that what looked like fibroid tissue was in fact endometrial tissue growing deep with in the uterine wall. The baffling thing is there was no blood source attached to the growth, but the great thing about the mass was it was COMPLETELY BENIGN!

BENIGN. Yes, it was benign! I was transferred to the scheduler to get my Hysterectomy date, and we confirmed May 10th. I will stay over at the hospital for one night and then I will be released to go home and all of this ordeal will be OVER!!!!

I spent Wednesday night celebrating my results! I called friends, sent text messages and took pictures to remember this moment. I needed to remember THIS moment! I needed to remember how I was feeling at the moment I heard that the mass within me was benign. I will always remember this moment and I am so grateful that I have had a wonderful medical team that always listens to me and advocates for my best health.

I am so grateful for my family and friends for their support. I am especially grateful that this entire process will soon be a part of my past.

I do not have uterine cancer — whew it feels great to be able to say that! But I have to acknowledge the thousands of women that are diagnosed with uterine cancer and cervical cancer because my heart pours out to you. The mental anguish that one suffers through the discovery process is unbelievable. My prayers are with you and your families!

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Reflections ~ On My Surgery Day

The morning started early at six a.m. yet everyone lagged along in an effort not to get ready. Perhaps it was dread of the day before us, anxiety or just fear but gloom definitely filled the air of my home.

Traffic to the hospital was horrendous, maybe this is GOD’s way of telling me to go back home. I pull out my cell phone and click on Twitter. I catch up on reading a few posts: @JuliaRobers1 (Firing My Pediatrician), reading about the exclusion of @JessBWatson daughter from the Soccer Team and I checked in with @addyeb about her vacation. My anxiety is starting to rise and my fear is I won’t make it on-time for my registration check-in.

***

My Mom left me at patient drop off and I made a mad dash up to the third floor for my Hysteroscopy. I’m feeling afraid and anxious as I enter the elevator and arrive at my floor. I find the registration desk and I see the clock.

I MADE IT WITH ONE MINUTE TO SPARE!

At the desk a nurse named Kathline was there and in the background softly playing I heard I HEAR THE SOUND OF VICTORY (one of my previous Song Of The Week posts). GOD is a comforter and healer I tell you. I know I’m gonna be just fine!

***

I’m all checked and dressed in my Bairpaws Hospital Gown that has a heater attachment – how cool is this! Pre-op Nurse Neila begins verify my name, birthdate, type of surgery that I having today and we go over my consent forms prior to me signing them. My Mom has joined me now and I tell her that she has been nominated and will be honored as Mother of the Year by a local sorority. She is surprised and thrilled at the same time, she deserves this honor and I am so proud of her!

My surgical nurse named Joseph comes into my room and introduces himself. He verifies my identification, goes over my consent forms and tells me we are going to walk over to the ambulatory surgery wing. I say goodbye to my Mom and I head over to the ambulatory surgery waiting room and my Mom goes over to the Surgical Waiting Room.

Once I arrive at my surgical prep pod, I meet my anesthesiologist, surgical intern, the ultrasound radiologist and of course my gynecologist to briefly discuss my surgery, answer questions, and get the party started in the operating room. I wait another two minutes or so and Joseph (my surgical nurse) walks me into the OR.

***

The room is freezing, green tiles are on the walls, the overhead lights are extremely bright and a there is a hole in the middle of the table and I am told to place my bottom above the hole so that when the table is lifted and my legs are raised the surgical team will have access to my “womanly parts.” I hop on the table and get into position. My teeth begin to chatter and Joseph hooks up the heater attachment to my Bairpaws gown and cover me with blankets. The anesthesiologist inserts my IV and we talk a little as the medicine kicks in, I am pleasantly surprised to find out that my anesthesiologist, gynecologist, and general practitioner/primary care physician were interns together at The University California San Francisco (UCSF), and that they all currently have surgical privileges at California Pacific Medical Center, which is where I am having surgery. I relax and quit fighting my drowsiness knowing that I am in excellent hands!

***

I wake and find my gynecologist standing over me giving me the thumbs up sign. I am still drowsy and in the recovery room. She proceeds to tell me lots of information about the surgery that she tells me that it is okay if I do not remember but there is one thing she wants me to know, “It appears to be a fibroid embedded deep in the ablated wall of the uterus. The mass is hard and cancer cells tend to be soft. We have to wait for the official biopsy results, but it appears not to be cancerous.” She again offers me her thumbs up and I smile and cry and offer her my thumbs up and I ask her to call my husband and tell my Mom who is waiting.

***

I have a wave of cramping come on and Jane, the Recovery Room Nurse administers additional pain medication. I begin to get drowsy again and I stay in the recovery room for another hour and a half before moving to my post-op room where my Mom is waiting for me. I am cognizant of where I am and my Mom re-explains what the doctor said. I remember it all too well and I smile! I start reading text messages and sending responses and I let my oldest son, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and “sisters” know that I am out of surgery.

***

I am home now. I have minor pain and a slight headache from the anethesia wearing off. One of the women from my Bible Study group supplied us with dinner, and I was pleasantly surprised when Waiters.com delivered Pasta Pomodoro for my family. My family is glad that I am home and celebrating my successful surgery and the preliminary news that it appears that I do not have cancer.

I still have to wait for my official results but I feel a great sense of relief knowing that half the battle is done. I have my follow-up post-op appointment on April 3rd and I have schedule my surgery date for my hysterectomy. I will keep you updated. Thank you so much for your prayers, thoughts, concerns and love! I truly appreciate each and everyone of you!

Love,
Sammie

Gratitude Journal #8 ~ What Lies Ahead of Me

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I am grateful for the week behind me and the week ahead of me.

Last week was a busy, busy week! I had many appointments, not just medical appointments, too many in fact. I went to the my Gynocologist, my surgeon, and to get my labs done. I lost 3 pounds since my unsuccessful biopsy on last week (March 7, 2012) and I am scheduled for my Hysteroscopy on March 22, 2012. I met with my bible study group for encouragement and I found myself feeling a little self-centered and pitiful, my anxiety was rising but they pepped me right on up and reminded me that I have so many other things to focus on and my goal should be to help others even during this time! So with last week’s appointments behind me I am starting this week with with a renew focus on being positive while providing a bit of cancer education.

So this week I am booked solid with yet more pre-op appointments. Today was blood work, tomorrow will be my primary care physician and then a pregnancy test in order to get signed off for surgery on Thursday. After that I will have approximately one week of waiting to find out if I have uterine cancer. It still seems surreal, but I am grateful that I am insured. I am grateful for the outpouring of love from my friends. I am grateful that GOD strengthens me daily to complete the tasks at hand. I am grateful that these cells have been detected early and I am so grateful that I know how to fight for my life!

I am grateful that I am in the hands of good doctors, I am loved, and I will get through this challenge just as I have done with all the other challenges in my life. I will be stronger, wiser and I will survive!

Reflections ~ Waiting to Find Out If I Have Uterine Cancer

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Today is March 7th and my long-awaited biopsy date is here. I am sitting in the hallway of the Medical Building. I am patiently impatiently waiting to get this show on the road.

Yesterday my doctor’s office called me at 6:30am to see if I could have my biopsy done, but I had no one to drive me back from the appointment so I declined and stayed with my original appointment. So here I am today, sitting, calmly waiting, anticipating the results of this biopsy that hasn’t even been taken yet.

My husband’s full with nervous energy. He is carrying so much weight on his shoulders. He is the sole bread-winner of our family at this time, the guy who tries not to wear his emotions on his sleeves. He has failed today. His focus is non-existent as he tries to mask his fears. His energy is bound up tight and ready to explode. I don’t need or want to be nervous now. I have been really good at keeping my anxiety at bay through this process and I’d like to keep it that way.

***

My oldest son came and stay and visit with me and we talked about how excited he is to start at his new college in the Fall. We got his tax paperwork together and he left for his appointment to get his taxes done.

I went by my youngest daughter’s school to pick up her report card. She is doing well in her classes, in fact she made the honor roll with a 3.33 GPA. We have managed to keep her and her other brother unaware of this current health scare, but today she really wanted leave school with us. She begged to come with me to the doctor ~ in her little mind she knows something is not right. I decided not to burden her with extra stress unless the results come back positive. She and her brother will be allowed to enjoy their childhood as much as they can for as long as they can and if this result is negative then the less they know about the process the better.

***

It’s 3:29pm now and I am waiting in the office now. All checked in and ready to rock and roll! The ladies in waiting are gone from the couches and they smiled politely as they lovingly pat their bellies after their OB/GYN check ups. But I sit here reflecting on the many times that I was excited to walk into this office, yet today I sit here dreading the music, the magazines and the cheerful staff. The pregnant bellies remind me of happier times, times before my body revolted against me.

My name was just called, so I am now in the outpatient medical suite. My blood pressure is 114/70 and I’ve lost 6 pounds since my doctor told me that she thought I might have uterine cancer on Valentine’s Day, believe me I didn’t see that coming! It must be stress weight loss because I have certainly been eating a little naughtier than usual.

The walls are thin here or either the ultrasound machine in the next room is against the wall. I can hear a baby’s heartbeat and I begin to calm down and then I remember I am over 40 and there will be no more babies for me! I have had my time and I have had my kids. It’s time for the next phase in my life. I hope that this phase will begin as a non-cancerous pre-menopausal phrase. Based on the results of this biopsy, I will either have a full hysterectomy if these cells are cancerous or I will have a partial hysterectomy if these cells are not cancerous. Either way, I am entering the post child-bearing phase of my life and I have to be okay with that.

My doctor greets me and goes over my 3D ultrasound results from the hospital, which identifies a large area of abnormal cells in the uterine wall. She goes and tell me that since I have had an ablation previously scar tissue may prohibit her from getting a clear biopsy today and if that is the case I would need to reschedule and be checked into the hospital for a Hysteroscopy.

“WTF,” I think to myself.

So I sit on the table and get two shots in my cervix and a rod to dilate my cervix.  She adjusts the rod which is supposed to help my cervix dilate and no luck.  She gently (gently according to her my cervix begs to differ) readjusts the rod and again no luck.  She smiles at me after this 10 minute adventure and pats my leg and she tells me that I will have to go to the hospital to have the Diagnostic Hysteroscopy to be done and I will be put under general anesthesia.

FML!

Her assistant comes in to re-check my blood pressure while I lay half-naked on the table with tears flowing uncontrollably now as I ponder yet more waiting to determine if the beast known as cancer is back. My blood pressure is 124/76. I am fine to get dressed and go home. I’m sent home with Motrin for cramping and pain.

My doctor says I will be contacted within the week to schedule my appointment for my outpatient Diagnostic Hysteroscopy.  I leave the Medical Building in complete frustration and I begin to laugh through my tears as I think about all of the things that are at my fingertips.

I reflect on how we live in an instant society. We make choices on a daily basis so that we do not have to wait to satisfy our desire for information. Patience has truly been lost within me and waiting is unbearable. In an instant I can have the latest music, breaking news, iBooks, the internet.  I can have it all after a few quick key stokes on my computer or iPhone but yet I have to fucking wait for 2-3 more weeks to find out what the hell is wrong with me!  Yet for me, at least for the next few weeks the waiting continues.

FUCK CANCER!

Post Script: I know that some people will view this post as too much information, but I am writing these posts to encourage others to make sure that they stay on top of their health and hopefully this will help inform others about this type of cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, I am at risk to other types of cancer. Seven years ago I had a uterine ablation done to treat fibroids, so effectively I have no uterine wall for abnormal cells to adhere to, but I currently have a mass of abnormal cells in my uterus ~ go figure huh? I think this post script brings you up to date if you wish to follow along with my story.


The NEW Things I Like About Me ~ Just Be Enough

On Valentine’s Day I made a point to send love to myself! I compiled a list of things that I love about me the day before Valentine’s day and scheduled a post. Well here it is just two short weeks later and Just Be Enough asked us to come up with a new list of tThings I Like About Me

I am going to confess something, I really thought that I was gonna be stumped. But the past week and a half has certainly given me plenty to add to my list!

The list that I am revealing now is full of breaking news that has pushed me in ways that a year ago were unimaginable for me. My PTSD and Anxiety are under control and I am ready for the world.

1. I am funny! ~ On Valentine’s Day while the world was exchanging cards flowers and chocolates, I received the news that my doctor suspects that I may have uterine cancer because of the formation of cells in my uterus. My response included a hearty laugh and then I said, “Then let’s cut that shit out! I don’t need it anyway.” See, I’ve been here and done this before with cancer and I’m gonna laugh until I have to cry!

2. I do not crumble (or at least not for long). ~ I keep my head in the game regardless of my task. So I called and scheduled the two appointments my doctor recommended: the first was for a 3D Ultrasound and the second was for a biopsy.

3. I am quick to respond. ~ I set up my 3D Ultrasound and had it the very next day and my biopsy is scheduled for March 7th. I informed my husband, family and my bible study group that the monster known as cancer was trying to rear its ugly head again and I let them know I AM PLANNING TO BEAT ITS BUTT!

4. I am determined! ~ I will fight with every fiber of my being to beat this thing and I will not give cancer any of my negative attention. Cancer has already stolen a family member (Rich) and online friend (Susan) from me in 2012 and I am determined that I will not be next!

5. I am more than cancer ~ Cancer does not define who I am and if it is back it will not define who I will become. I am a wife, mother, friend, advocate for special needs families and cancer recovery and I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH!

What are your things? What do you love about you?

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20 Things I’ve Done In My Life ~ Gratitude Journal

GRATITUDE JOURNAL ENTRY #1 for 2012

I have had a great forty+ years of living and I’ve done some pretty awesome things. There are tons more I’d love to do, but this is not a bad list of my top twenty life highlights for my gratitude journal!

1. Married to a wonderful man.

2. Completed my Masters Degree just before I turned 40 years old.

3. Became a Certified Meeting Planner.

4. Gave birth to amazing children.

5. Became a Soccer Mom.

6. Traveled to: Paris, France.

7. Went Parasailing in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.

8. Sang a solo in front of 3000 at a conference.

9. Walked in a 5k race.

10. I was told by my favorite author, Mr. E. Lynn Harris (R.I.P.) “You have the name of an author!”

11. Danced the night away until I had blisters on my feet.

12. Saved someone’s life by performing CPR.

13. Rescued two children out of a burning apartment.

14. Raised $300,000 to renovate a preschool.

15. Voluntarily read through the entire bible.

16. Had an article published in a magazine.

17. Breast Cancer Survivor.

18. Rape Survivor.

19. Written a book on helping children who suffer from the impact of trauma that is currently being edited for publishing in the Summer of 2012.

20. Made the decision to take back my life and get healthy!

Beyond the Shock (Breast Cancer Informational Video)

Finding out that you or a loved one has cancer is life-altering!  Anger, confusion, shock, denial and hopelessness are common feelings after receiving a diagnosis.  Most of these feeling are the result of being faced with the unknown.  Questions rapidly come to mind like:  Am I going to die?  What should I do next?  What kind of treatments are there?  What type of treatment will be best for me?  Well, there are all types of answers to these questions that can be found in the attached video called Beyond The Shock.

“Beyond The Shock is a global online educational resource that includes easy-to-understand informational videos, stories from breast cancer survivors, and a community Q&A.”  Please take a moment to watch and share with a friend or loved one.

http://www.beyondtheshock.com/

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Not only does October 1st begins Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it also begins a season of hope for cancer research and hope for a cure. I could go on and on about the importance of taking care of yourself and doing monthly self-examinations of your breast but I am going to leave you with this thought, the breast you squeeze can actually save your life! Take time to have your annual breast Mammogram after the ago of forty or younger if your Mother or Grandmother died of Breast Cancer. Yes, it’s temporarily uncomfortable but as uncomfortable as fighting for life against cancer.

This month I will be posting reflections about cancer, lots of facts about cancer and providing resources for cancer survivors. I promise it’s not a time to sulk, it’s a time to come together and celebrate cancer survivors and create opportunities to love and support those currently in the fight for there lives!

I think we all agrees that CANCER SUCKS but together we can help KICK CANCERS ASS! Join me, tell friends, show up in pink on Fridays at your office and show everyone that you are on a mission to SAVE THE TA-TA’S!!!

Love,
Sammie
XOXO

September (A Cancer Reflection)

I woke up anticipating Fall today. The air is crisp. Leaves are beginning to change on the trees on my front and back yards. My children are in already in school. Soccer season has started and here I sit in the waiting room of the Breast Cancer Center waiting for my Mom to complete a test and second mammogram.

I’d like to say this was an abnormal day but it’s not! I’ve spent way to many days sitting in a waiting room just like this one for both myself and my Mom.

Yesterday was my best friend Belle’s birthday and it also marked the one year anniversary of my Mom’s breast cancer surgery. I didn’t celebrate either occasion with an outing. I just felt the need to write and tell both Belle and my Mom exactly what they meant to me. As I wrote notes to each of them and completed an article for a deadline, I just kept hearing Earth Wind and Fire singing “Ba de ya, say you do remember.”

Well I did remember! I remembered that some of the best and worst times of my life took place in September. I remembered that I survived those times and I remembered the love that surrounded me, and my Mom and Belle.

Soon I was singing and remembering: my first true love, Sunday dinners, hope, sweet stolen kisses, high school basketball games, Cal football games, high school dances, FAITH, weddings, mimosas, children born and children lost, courage, music loud and strong like laughter in my soul, the kindness of strangers, FAMILY (birth family and extended family), healing, FAITH, leaves turning, the new school year, new uniforms and clothes for school, FAITH, seasons changing, love changing and life changing!

“Do you remember the 21st night of September?” Pick a year, any year but remember the beginning of Fall and all of it’s splendor. Remember there is a season for everything under heaven. Cherish it! Honor it! Embrace it! Live it! Love it! There is a time for all of us and a reason for each of us to be here on earth and our existence matters. We are more than our enemies negative thoughts. We are more that our daily successes. We were created for a reason and our purpose in life is as specific as each leaf that falls from a tree before fall turns it’s supple branches and brilliant foliage to brittle barren winter twigs.

Well, my Mom is done with her appointment and it looks like we will be coming here more often to suffer, fight and heal. She just scheduled her ultrasound guided biopsy to remove the mass in her right breast and determine its stage of cancer. We will come back here on October 6th.

But for now we will reflect and sing through our September and remember just how much CANCER SUCKS!!!!!

“Do you remember… dancing in September … never was a cloudy day…”

15 Ways to help a Friend or Loved One with Cancer

On November 25, 2009, the day before Thanksgiving I began my fight with Cancer. It seems like a lifetime ago when I was told that the mass that was removed from my breast was cancer. I was 41 years old and I had just gotten the hang of living life in my 40’s. It was shocking to say the least. I was fortunate that it was non-invasive and I required minimal treatment. But I was flabbergasted ten-months later when my Mom was diagnosed with invasive Breast Cancer at the age of 68.

I was determined that my Mom wouldn’t have to deal with the same uneasiness from friends that I had dealt with. It is something about telling friends and family that you have cancer that make everyone uncomfortable. There are long pauses, followed by looks that remind you of when your puppy died when you were a child. There are friends that you normally chat with for hours that are at a loss of words. There are long days filled with medical terms and lots of blah, blah, blah spoken by doctors, radiologists, oncologists, technologists, nurses, etc. that you won’t remember. But I remembered this experience all too well, like it was yesterday and I decided to provide the support that I was given and to also be the support that I WAS NOT GIVEN to my Mom.

Here is my list of 15 ways to help a friend or loved one with cancer and my special way to say I love you and I am thinking about you Susan @whymommy:

  1. Give them lots of gentle HUGS and LOVE! Needless to say, this is a scary time for everyone. Hugs and extra expressions of love go a long way.
  2. Listen as your friend shares the news and be available to listen to them. Sometimes they need to just talk about things other than cancer and other times they might just need to vent. Don’t make them feel like they have to make you feel comfortable. Remember that they are sick and they shouldn’t really have to but on a good face for you. They might be losing hair or weight and feel uncomfortable keep the focus on them getting well, not how they look.
  3. Offer to take them to their initial appointments and take notes for them. Doctor’s speak so quickly and can be so matter of fact. Cancer patients can be hyperviligant or completely overwhelmed by all of the information that they are given. It’s good to have a note taker – someone who writes everything. Spouses can be overwhelmed too.
  4. Plan a Let’s Kick Cancers Butt Gathering. Include her whole support team. Ask what she needs. Sign up to cook meals. Sign up to take care of pets (walking and bathing them).
  5. Create a Cancer Bag. Fill it with: gloves, a decorated binder, a plastic bag full of writing pens, a micro tape-recorder to record their thoughts or what doctor’s tell them, a couple of her favorite magazines, and a business card holder (a neat place for all of the cards they will get: the oncologist, nurse, interns, patient care representatives, financial representatives, support group leaders, etc.)
  6. Offer to take their children out for a fun activity. Children need to have fun! Mom & Dad and even Grandparents are focused on fighting cancer. Frankly, they are often just worn out. Include your friends children in an activity with your family. Take them to the mall for a treat or a movie to to get them away from the house. Take them to one of their soccer, baseball or basketball games when Mom can’t be there. Cheer them on, reassure them that they are loved and talk to them about their concerns.
  7. Prepare meals for them and their family. ASK — what are their favorites. Prepare the items in disposable pans or come over and serve it to them and wash the dishes and clean the kitchen for them after they are done. It’s just one more thing that they don’t have to worry about during this time.
  8. Help keep business affairs in order. Children’s Field Trip Notices, recurring bills, medical receipts and paperwork.
  9. Go with them to their Chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Some people go as little as 3x’s a week to 7x’s a week. Offer to take them and sit with them if you can. They would love the company and it will take their mind off of their treatment for a little while.
  10. Chip in with some friends and pay to have their house cleaned professionally. Lurking germs can wreck havoc on a compromised immune system. Sometimes the simplest things get overlooked when everyone is focused on a cancer patients recovery.
  11. Put together a Memory Book. Include pictures and mementos of their spouses, children, friends, activities, places she loves. This can be assembled by a professional organization like http://www.bellflowerbooks.com (@bellflowerbooks), who is so graciously creating books for the JustBeEnough Campaign (@JustBeEnough) visit http://www.justbeenough.com, or at My Publisher visit http://www.mypublisher.com
  12. Plan a Ladies Night. Rent her favorite movies, bring out the healthy snacks, nail polish, and photographs, old music and have a BLAST!.
  13. Offer to dictate or help write letters to her family and friends. You might just be there to support her but she will appreciate it!
  14. Plan a Cancer Walk or Fundraiser specifically for your friend. Did you know that 1/3 of people who file for bancruptcy because of uncovered medical cost for life threatening illnesses? You will be amazed at how many fundraisers and donations go to help research or a national organization but never reach your local area. See the ideas below:
  • Walk-a-thon ask people to sponsor you per lap or a flat donation.
  • A Prayer Breakfast at Church ask people to donate $10 per person to benefit the family directly for expenses not covered by their insurance.
  • Plan a gathering at a local restaurant. Ask the restaurant to give 15% of the nights receipts to the family. Create coupons and contact EVERYONE you can think of and tell them to eat in or order to go. Email coupons to your co-workers, church members, friends and ask them to forward the email.

15. Host a VICTORY PARTY! Include anyone and everyone! Make it a potluck and CELEBRATE KICKING CANCER’S BUTT!