An explanation...

Why Foob? I had a double mastectomy, and at the time, the plastic surgeon put "expanders" under the muscles in my chest. Every 2-3 weeks, they were filled with more saline, in preparation for my reconstructive surgery. They were very full and hard. Uncomfortable. One time, one of my sons gave me a hug and then said "Your foobs are hard!" Hee, hee, hee! My kids have this endearing habit of combining words. So, "Foobs" are fake boobs. Which I will still have, even after the reconstruction.

Foob Babe - that would be me!
"The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next." ~Mignon McLaughlin


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Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Year Anniversary!

It's been one year since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. One year ago, today, I heard those words: You have two kinds of breast cancer. I've been watching this anniversary approach for a few days now, and have been thinking back to one year ago. Little did I know, when I heard those words, what they would mean. I have a need to write about this year - it's almost like being underwater and not being able to breath. There's a certain panicked feeling. I'm not sure why. But, maybe if I review what I've been through this last year, I will feel more in control again. I'm not sure that even makes sense. Out of control - that's how I've felt for the last year. I've felt like every second since my diagnosis has gone flying by - there just hasn't been enough time to make the decisions that I made. You would think that when you've got to decide whether or not to have your chest cut off, the world would just stop and hold it's breath. But, no. It seems like the world speeds up. Everything comes too soon. You decide on something and it seems like that something happens the next second. You can't slow it down. It's funny how things speed up and then slow way down - hurry, hurry, hurry... bi-lateral mastectomy, chemo, reconstructive surgery. Then, you lose your hair and your nails and they take forever to grow back. Your health and strength is quickly drained away, and then takes forever to come back.

When you've gone through something so life-altering, you look back and think "No way - I did not just make it through that!" Seriously. I really don't know how I'm still here. Sane. Recovering.

How did I have the strength to...

Go through a random needle biopsy by myself? I nicknamed this kind of biopsy, "harpooning for cancer". That's exactly what is was. I remember lying there with tears streaming down my face, as the doctor jabbed another needle in yet another "random" place - without. numbing. medicine. It was all I could do, after one side of my chest was done, to turn over and hold still for the other side. It's one of the worst things that I've ever had to do. The pain was terrible. I will never do that again. Ever.

How did I have the strength to...

Have a bi-lateral mastectomy? I wasn't really strong. This decision almost killed me. I had to take full responsibility for it, and that wasn't easy. I remember lying on the operating table, starting to lose consciousness, and all of a sudden I just started panicking - crying uncontrollably. The nurse was kind and gave me a hug, and tried to calm me down. She asked me why I was crying - was I scared? Um... Yes! Mostly, scared of what I'd wake up to! Half of me.

How did I have the strength to...

Go through chemo? Think about it. I voluntarily walk into that room, sat down in a chair, and let them pump poison - real poison - into my body. I can't believe I didn't get up out of the chair and run screaming from the room. What gave me the strength to sit there? I remember being so scared - I've never been that scared before. It was fear of the unknown, I think. What would this poison do to my body? I knew it would kill the cancer, but what else would it do?

How did I have the strength to...

Make it through each night after that first chemo treatment? I rarely slept during those first three weeks. There are night demons that disturb your sleep when you've got poison running through your veins. When everything else in the house goes silent and sleeps, your brain doesn't. I remember waking up at different times during the night to tug on my hair - just to make sure it wasn't falling out yet. I would wander through the rooms in my house, thinking. And, during the dead of night, your thoughts are not pleasant ones, believe me.

How did I have the strength to...

Shave my head? That was almost worse than the mastectomy! Your hair is your identity. At least, it seems like it is after you've lost it. It's awful for a woman to be bald. It plays with her mind - kills her self esteem. And what about going out in public after you've shaved your head. I really can't believe I ever left the house.

How did I have the strength to...

Sit in the chair at the plastic surgeon's office and let him fill the expanders? I remember walking into the exam room and seeing those syringes filled with saline. I hate needles, and there I was, staring at 2 inch long needles attached to 6 inch long syringes, as big around as a cucumber! 60cc shot into each expanders, every 3 weeks. It was awful... really, it was awful.

How does one find the strength to go through anything hard in this life? Where does that strength come from? Well, I believe that every person has an inner strength - something that we pull from deep down inside of us when we have to. But, I also believe in the strength that God gives us. I know he walked by me through this whole last year, and, at times (probably more often than not), He carried me. I've felt his love and concern for me. I've felt His encouragement when I didn't think I could get out of bed, or get through the recovery after a surgery. I'm so grateful for the spirit of the Lord in my life. I would never have been able to get through this last year without that spirit leading and guiding me.

I think I'm a stronger person today, than I was one year ago. I was able to make it through a year of hell, and I'm still around to continue fighting. It's ok, too. I'm fine, and I'll continue to heal and regain strength. I look forward to one year from now. My goals? To be healthier than I was last year when I was diagnosed. To make exercise part of my daily routine. To learn everything I can about nutrition, so that I can take care of my body. To smile more - and to be truly happy with myself and my body.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Self Exam

Today's the day to do your breast self exam!

Get into the habit once a month. It could save your life!

Breast cancer sucks. You DON'T want to find out how much.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I love this picture of me and my sister, walking at the Relay For Life cancer walk last week...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A New Breast Cancer Blog

This morning I received an email from a friend of a friend who is going through her second round of breast cancer. She is a motivational speaker and has a wonderful blog As I visited the blog and read through some of her posts, I was, once again, reminded of all of the incredible women I know. I'm so glad she emailed me. What a blessing it will be in my life to have this blog to read. The thing that stands out about Lynn's blog is that it is a motivational blog - it really is! It seems no matter what Lynn is going through, she makes sure to end her post with something motivational for the reader. I know that this breast cancer blog (mine) is much more a reality blog (not that hers isn't), and I can see now that I should start to put more helpful, supportive comments into my posts. Not only will that probably help my readers more, but it will give me those much needed happy thoughts.

I'll try harder to be more uplifting in my posts from now on. Thanks Lynn!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I'm humbled...

This is a post I apparently forgot to post after my last surgery (I blame the pain pills!) - I just found the rough draft. It's an important post, so here it is...

Once again I'm reminded of all the incredible people who love me. Our ladies church group arranged for dinners for 3 nights after my surgery - this puts us up to around 50+ meals they've provided us since I was diagnosed 1 year ago. I've received 2 or 3 cards in the mail this week - friends just checking up on me, making sure I know they are praying for me and love me. I'm always humbled when things like this happen to me. If there's one thing I've learned during this whole last year, it's the meaning of love, charity, and service. Every one of the people who have served me holds a special place in my heart. There have been friends and neighbors who have told me that they regret not doing more - that all they've done is pray for me. Believe me, I know the power of prayer. Praying for my welfare is a HUGE thing. I'm really, really, very grateful.

Would I have learned about charity and service any other way? Possibly. But, nothing drives home those wonderful concepts like a whole group of people taking care of you.

I'm humbled. I'm grateful. Thank you. I love you all.

Wake Up!!

Wow. The nerves that have been damaged across my chest - making my chest numb - have started to WAKE UP! Man, I had NO idea how blessed I am to have a numb chest until this started yesterday. It comes and goes. It feels like little knives stabbing me in random places. Can you imagine how I would feel if my chest wasn't mostly numb? I'd probably be hooked on painkillers by this time. Yeah. Wonder if it will ever go away? I hope so. It wears me out, dealing with pain like this. By the end of the day I just want to go to sleepy land, where little stabbing knives can't touch me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sorry about the last 3 posts

I'm trying to get my new blog button and signature set up. I'm just checking to see if the signature worked. No more stupid, pointless posts - I promise!

My New Blog Signature

My Cancer Blog Button...

I'm a HealthBlogger for Wellsphere...

I was just asked to be HealthBlogger for the Breast Cancer Community at Wellsphere. They will be taking some of my posts from this blog and sharing them there. I'm happy that I'll be able to maybe help someone with their breast cancer journey. They get over 4 million visitors every month, so hopefully more people will be able to read my blog and get help. My number one goal when I started this blog was to get the word out about breast cancer. Since then, it's become an important part of my healing. I'm not sure how successful I've been at helping women learn about breast cancer so far, but if even one woman becomes more aware because of me, then I'll be happy.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Relay For Life Cancer Walk 2009

Last night my family participated in the Relay For Life Cancer Walk here in Syracuse Utah. This is the 3rd time we've done this, but my first time as a cancer survivor. This is somewhat of a family reunion for us - many of my cousins where there with their families, my aunts and uncles, and my parents. We started going to this walk after my cousin, Wendy, was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago. This year, Wendy and I walked, along with my mom (who has skin cancer), and two of my cousins (who have cervical cancer). 5 survivors!!! Here are some of the pictures from last night...

My mom, my sister, and me at the starting line.

Wendy gives her sister Tina a high-five!

An emotional moment - it's been a LONG year for me.

Our care givers met us halfway around the survivors' lap - there is my sister and my dad (who met my mom)

The banner I made - 'The Beauty Remains' was our team name.

Five survivors - Cousins, Jen and Sara, my mom Barbara, me, and cousin, Wendy - we meet up with our team to take a lap around the track.

Our team walking the lap after the survivors lap - look at everyone who came out to support us!

My sons are walking behind me.

At 10:00 pm, we decorate and then light luminaries - for the survivors and those who have died from cancer. Here are the luminaries for me, Wendy, my grandpa, and the son of some good friends of my parents.

This was kind of a personal victory for me. I'm so thankful my family was there to share it with me (my husband and son, Michael, didn't make it for the survivors laps, but came a little later). Cancer SUCKS!