Lots of UPDATES!

Lots of UPDATES:

Wow! I’m not even sure where to start…so many ups and down lately I can barely even think straight. I guess I will start back a few weeks ago. I had a routine Pet Scan and was nervous. This isn’t anything new, I just hate scans. You get so nervous before…then you wait…wait…and wait. It’s awful. My mom came to town to take my mind off of things and decided to do some running around before I had to get the girls from school…then the phone rang. It was my oncologists office. I was checking out at Dollar General and my mom was right behind me. I could feel her heart dropping as I just stood there almost frozen and nodding my head. I had a few tears in eyes and checked out quickly so I could get outside and finish the call. I whispered to my mom that they found a lesion on my liver. We sat in the parking lot crying our eyes out. I had exactly 7 minutes before I had to put on a brave face and get my girls from school. So, I called John…then my dad…then got my babies and headed home. I was told they found a small lesion on my liver and wanted a scan of just my liver the following day. So I did.

The next day the phone rang and it confirmed the same results. I had an appt to see my oncologist and we talked about the results and he said he was confident it was indeed cancer that had now spread to my liver. I couldn’t believe what was happening. How the hell was I back on this path yet again…why was this happening? I knew my type of cancer was very aggressive (triple negative) and if I were to have a reoccurrence it would most likely be liver, bones, lungs, etc. So, I get scanned quite frequently and blood work even more frequently…because things can make a turn for the worse in a short time. What was next… a scan of my brain to make sure it had not spread more. I felt like I could vomit at any moment….almost as if someone was holding my head under water and I just couldn’t get air and catch my breath. Thankfully the brain scan was good and I finally let a breath out.

Next I was told I needed to see a specialist in St. Louis at Siteman to further confirm what was going on. Mind you this is all happening the week before, and the week of Thanksgiving. More importantly it was right before a family vacation we had planned with the girls over a year before….ughh. So, I was in fast forward trying to get everything settled and in order as quickly as I could. I needed an MRI of just my liver at Siteman, and then go from there. I could get in for a consult about a week later. It is now Thanksgiving week. It felt like a million years had passed before my appt. A week of worrying…. and nerves… and crazy awful horrible thoughts of my cancer spreading…what would I tell my kids? I was in mourning. I mourned the loss of my health, my relationship with my kids and my husband, my dependency on friends and family for help…. I mourned the fact that my dreams of becoming a mother once more had vanished… that now just living was all I thrived for each day. It was hell. There is no way on Earth to sugar coat how I felt.

Fast forward to my appt in St. Louis. The DR was very nice and told me that he wanted an MRI done there, and read by their radiologists that just reads liver scans all day long. I felt like I was in good hands and I was getting great care. He asked if I wanted to know the results that day, which would be the day before Thanksgiving…2 days before we left the country with the kids for vacation. I said yes, I wanted to know. I go the following day and have the MRI. I imagine he is totally swamped with cases the day before a major Holiday. I called and his nurse said she’d call back. I tell my parents to keep an eye on the girls and I was going to go lay down and rest.

I was exhausted…in every single capacity… The dr’s nurse called a bit later and had some good news…but I still was unsure what was going on. She said the radiologist looked at the scan and didn’t see anything, so follow up with your oncologist. I just listened and didn’t ask questions…I just said thank you and hung up the phone. I was in shock. What did that even mean? Where did the spot they saw go? I have to be honest and say I wasn’t jumping for joy…I’m still not jumping for joy. I wasn’t given much information and in 48 hours I was boarding a plane for a family vacation where I would have zero phone access, zero texting access, and limited internet. I knew there was more to this story…but it was going to wait. It was family time, and we had waited way to long to let something like this stand in the way of our vacation we planned.

See, this vacation meant everything to us. We told our girls last year when I was sick that we would take them on their very first plane ride one day. That I would get better, get stronger, and John and I would plan something great. And we did. It was magical. I left every single worry I had here, and cleared my mind for this family trip. It was by far the very very best week of my life. I had everything I needed with me, and we just lived. We didn’t wear watches, we had no idea when it was time to eat… or time for bed. We laid on hammocks and stared at the moon and just lived in that moment. It was life changing. My heart was the fullest it has ever been. I know it’s hard to put the cell phones down… to step away from your computer…to remove that watch, and just live in the moment. It’s not easy, and we are so busy every single day that we just need to take time to stop. Just stop everything for even a few minutes and just be. I know that taking the kids part way around the world isn’t something we can do often….it took us a year to save to even go…but I learned so much that is worth more than all the money we spent. I think for us going to a place where phones and internet were not very accessible helped us disconnect so much easier. We have been on multiple trips with the girls. But I usually have my iphone nearby texting a friend or family member cute photos…and John is always just a phone call away from work being able to reach him. So, this was awesome! No phones, no time limits….no places to go. The trip was amazing and I truly enjoyed every bit of it.

Fast forward to now…. So far health wise all I know is my MRI in St Louis was clear and looked good. I have no idea why the scans here in Rolla showed something and the scan in St. Louis did not. I have not had a follow up appt. with my Oncologist yet, but my guess is I will have blood work and another scan in two months or so to check again and see if the liver spot is still showing up, and what my tumor marker is. (tumor marker is blood test given and sort of helps track if your cancer could be back. You don’t want to see any high spikes etc in this number. It went up a few points this time, but not much.) So, I am cautiously optimistic;) Once my next set of blood work and scans are done, I think we’ll have a more definite answer as to what is going on. If my tumor marker is unchanged and the scans are then clear I will then jump for joy! I pray that it was just a shadow of some sort it picked up, and nothing more.

So, I will finally wrap this up by saying Thank You. Thank you for all the outpouring of love, support, and prayers. I am truly thankful for every single one of them. I am trying my hardest to be as proactive as I possibly can when it comes to my breast cancer. I know that I cannot change what could inevitably happen, but I can try my hardest to be knowledgeable and continue with self exams and do all the things I am suppose to do to keep this beast away! I will pray, I will love, and I will teach my children that each day on Earth is indeed a Gift from God, and not another is promised.

Thank you again from the very bottom of my heart. All the prayers, and good thoughts, texts, emails, calls, visits, gifts, cards, voicemails and so on. To my friends and family who have stood by my side and held my hand through all of this… it has meant everything to me. I know with you all by my side I can do anything! So, truly thank you. Love, Jen

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PINKtober- “Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.”

PINKtober- “Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.”

Time for an update…or a statement of sorts. Awhile back my daughter Kaylee who is now 11+ years old said something to me that has stayed with me to this day. Her and her sister were having a petty argument of some kind. They both came running into my room and Kaylee is ready to state her case. She starts off by saying the following about her sister… “Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.” I couldn’t help but laugh:) When I think of Breast Cancer Awareness Month the same words come to mind. “Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.” Sure, she is pink and pretty…and when you make anything pink and adorable it’s cute right? Sadly, it’s not. For many who have battled this disease it sort of puts a big pink bow on cancer…and it can get old fast. A whole month is a lot of pink to take in. (oddly enough my birthday is smack in the middle of this month as well;) Don’t get me wrong, I have a new found love for pink. Since I was diagnosed last year I wear my breast cancer pins regularly, I have pink shoes…and even a tattoo of a tiny pink ribbon I see everyday in the mirror. But… I feel like those things are bought on my terms, and are things that have been given to me, or charities I know have been involved in their making. Not, a supermodel with a pink ribbon on her nipple in some ad. Or someone trying to sell an item for pure profit using a pink ribbon as some sort of gimmick.

I guess, I just ask that this month you take the time to see past the pretty pink ribbon that is slapped on most things…and see that this horrific disease is nothing but pure evil. It is hell, and I will be the first to say that.

Breast Cancer changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I never thought at 32 with a 4 & 9 year old at home I would have to fight like hell just to live another day. That the Gift of Life is just that…a Gift. Not a guarantee. That those women who I admired and who I fought with side by side would not “lose their battle,” but fought like hell until their bodies could take no more. They left this world as Warriors and nothing less than a title of Warrior would be fitting. But, with that…my heart was still breaking. For their families….for their kids…for their parents….and all who they left behind. The sadness that follows is unimaginable.

I can’t even find the words to express how this has changed me. Not only the physical, but the emotional. From my body, to my pain, to infertility, to not sleeping…to people starring…to a million other things. Most days I can keep it together….and others, something will trigger a thought in my head and it’s all I think about.

I wake up everyday and have an internal fight that races through my head. I am so eternally happy to be here and see my kids and my family and be present for all the joy that they give me, while at the same time washing off my now deformed body in the bath with tears streaming down my face….filled with sorrow. I look at myself and see two large scars where my breasts use to be, and I know in an instant breast cancer was the culprit. Being feminine was never really my thing…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want my breasts. I chose not to have reconstruction because what I lost that day, I cannot regain. I can’t have a surgeon work his magic and somehow make me look “normal” again. He can’t make me look like the “old me.” I have to learn to mourn that loss…and try to move on. This….this, is my new normal. Slowly, I am starting to realize that. I am now 33 years old and walk with my head down each time I get out of my car and use my Handicap pass. I see others looking at me, and wondering why in the world I would need it at my age. The short answer…breast cancer. The long complicated answer…Taxol, a chemo drug has a side effect that includes neuropathy..numbness in hands, fingers, legs, feet…and so on. To keep my life I was told chemo and a double mastectomy were needed. Sadly when chemo is given it has many many side effects. Some stay with you a short time, some a lifetime. But, at that point in the game, what choices do we have? None. We fight, and we push forward and we agree to anything they say will make this go away. So, now a year+ out from chemo I have almost no feeling from my knees to my feet in both legs. Even now, I write this at 4am in my bathtub….which is usually where you can find me. The one thing I can feel is temperature change. So, I take a lot of baths…. A LOT. When my legs are bad, like now when the seasons are changing I can take 12+ baths a day. It takes up a good portion of my day some days and is beyond frustrating, when I have so much I want to do. They ache and they are sore and I can’t move or walk or do much…so a long hot bath helps give them life for a bit, so I can try to get a little stuff done. Last year, just playing with my daughters I stumbled and broke my hand. It was chilly outside and after awhile I had almost no feeling anywhere in my legs, and tripped. I have tried different medications and therapies and so on to help this…but nothing has worked. So, I just do my best. Sleeping…and staying asleep when they are aching is a big problem.

I could write a book on the ways that Breast Cancer came into my life and screwed everything up. As I sit here from my bathtub…the house all quiet….I realize though I am doing my best. Everyday I wake up and God gives me a another chance at Life, I try to make the most of it. More than that, I try to remember those who fought this battle before me and are no longer here. What their loved ones would do for just another moment with them. So, even if I have to yell “quit bickering with your sister” from the bathtub… I realize that it’s the best I can do at this moment. I am here for them, I’m trying, and right now in my life that has to be enough.

So, I will wrap this up by saying just as my daughter did…

“Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.”

(Not Sophie, I’ll always be fooled by her cuteness:) lol

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time to remember that all cancers, including breast, are taking the lives of people you know and love everyday. All cancers need a cure….period.

I ask that every time you see a pink ribbon this month you look past the “cuteness” and see this disease for what it truly is. Do a breast self exam every single month, get mammograms yearly, go to the doctor immediately if you ever find something and get it checked out.

Please remember these statistics:

*About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

*In 2014, there were more than 2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.

*An estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,570 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. About 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in MEN in 2014.

*About 40,000 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2014 from breast cancer.

I will end this with some of my favorite quotes, and update photos of my family:) Love to all❤️

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Woot Woot! Found my username & password!

I have been trying to find my username & password to this blog for FOREVER! (it was defaulted in my app i use, then the app got deleted:(

I just figured it out. Apparently, I had used another email account I never use. Yeah for BLOGGING! woot woot!

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just a memory…

So, yesterday consisted of me trying to ignore the big pink elephant in the room. I knew it was the day I had my double mastectomy last year….but tried to not acknowledge it in any way. But…. as everyone knows the more you push something down, the more it just wants to boil back up. How do you remember something that was traumatic, without dwelling on the past? It was indeed probably one of the most significant days of my life. Yes, it revolves around cancer, and losing part of my body and femininity….but I can’t just forget it happened right?

I have to admit that this time last year I was almost entirely basing my actions on fear. I was scared. I didn’t know much about breast cancer, and what I did know…was that women die from it. After my surgery I did everything possible Not to look at myself and my scars…for weeks. This even included taking down the mirrors in the house & bathroom. I was just scared. My girls were just 4 & 9. So, I did what I thought would give me the best chance of living a long life….and that was to lose both breasts. I knew reconstruction was not something I was going to focus on right away. I was sick, and couldn’t care less about boobs at that point. I just wanted them gone…the cancer to be gone…and to move on from this.

As I sit here now a year later I think I am doing a pretty good job. I know it’s hard for some to understand why I would write or even give any acknowledgment to such an awful day…. but it is a part of me. I can’t close my eyes, open them, and have my breasts just reappear. Something happened… and the fact that I remember that day, or am a bit more emotional…is just part of it I think. I hope that they can understand that.

I sort explain it as a death of someone you loved. You miss that person, and that loss never goes away. Christmas and Thanksgiving you think about that person and how much you wished they were there with you. Just because they are gone, and the day they passed was incredibly sad…it doesn’t make you stop thinking about them.The day of their passing is a day that comes and goes each year and for a moment you still remember that. Do you not still remember their birthday each year, no matter how long ago? This is how I feel.

I will never forget the people I loved that have passed on….no matter how many tears I cry because I still miss them.

So, today is a new day. I can remember where I came from without obsessing over the details that were horrific. I am doing my best, and well that is just as good as it gets. I shed a few tears…I starred in the mirror at my scars for awhile, and now I am moving on. I’m never going to forget…and that’s okay. I just ask for compassion, love, and understanding, from those around me. If they have ever suffered a loss or heartache….of any kind…. they know it’s not easy. Times like this I think of my grandmother who passed years ago. I remember the day she passed, I remember her birthday each year, and at Christmas I know she won’t be visiting. No matter how many years have passed, it doesn’t make me miss her any less. I don’t sit and dwell on it…. but I do shed a tear or two when I think of her.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been supportive and understanding.💜❤💜❤

First photo was right before i left for surgery. I had Sophie take a picture with me. This was how we felt;) lol The next photo was taken 3 days later in the ICU when I started to feel better.

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1 year ago….

The time has come:
January 16, 2014

Exactly 1 year from the date that changed my life forever. I heard the 3 words that when put together in a sentence will indeed change everything. You.Have.Cancer.

I can close my eyes and it will take me back there. The tears…the sadness…the worry. But, a year later I live to tell the story. My body is changed, and I am changed… but I prayed to God that I live to raise my babies and be a mother, wife, daughter and friend….and I am. So, my prayers were answered. How can I not be the luckiest woman in the world?

Sophie is home sick today and although I may have wanted some time alone with my thoughts…the Lord knew I needed a distraction. He knew this day would be a hard one. I will snuggle her, I will hold her…. and I will thank the Heavens that I am here today for her.

I will never forget this day….ever.

But, I can move on from it.

This day does not define who I am as a person. And quite honestly I’m not sure I would even take it back now. I am a different person….a better person, than I was 1 year ago. I love with all my heart, and I give all I have to give each day…because I know tomorrow is not promised.

I will never give up when it comes to the fight against cancer. Almost 25,000 people have read this blog in the last year. If just one of them read my words and did a breast self exam….or had a mammogram…it was all worth it.

Thank you to my family and friends that stood by me and showed me the true meaning of LOVE. Today is a good day.

I couldn’t have asked for more💗

Photos:
The first photo was taken this day one year ago after I was diagnosed. I sat at the kitchen table with my mom (my kids didn’t know yet) and I told her to snap a photo…. I knew it would be a day I’d never forget. I hate the way I look in it… but I love how carefree my children look. The rest of the photos are just favorites💜

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NO CANCER!!

Just got the phone call that the lump was negative for cancer!!!!!

So excited!
Thank you for all the love & prayers!

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Lumpectomy Part II -Done

Another day…. another surgery;)

So, almost exactly 1 year to the date I had my 2nd lumpectomy to check for breast cancer. (Jan 10, 2013 & January 9, 2014) Lets hope this one has a different outcome;)

I was scared going in, but not nearly as scared as I thought I would be. Maybe because it felt like I had done this all before… and, it wasn’t “new” to me anymore. The kids have been off school because of snow all week, so I was actually happy they were home today so they could be with me:)

Surgery went well and I was released pretty quickly after recovery. The immediate feedback seemed pretty good, but we are waiting for the official pathology on Monday or so. Sadly when I was diagnosed last time the needle biopsy before the lumpectomy came back Negative for cancer. Then, after the lumpectomy we had a good feeling by the look, texture etc. of the lump and again…we were wrong. So, this time patience is a virtue;)

I am really trying my hardest to think good thoughts and stay upbeat about the results. I will worry when I need to, but not before.

Thank you to everyone for all the prayers. My family helped me so much today, and I am so lucky. And….all the emails, texts & messages from friends & family was amazing and uplifting. So, thank you💜💜💜

I will update as soon as I know more. Hugs & Kisses

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