Learn more about our relay…

I apologize in advance if you follow both blogs…this will be a duplicate post.

I didn’t know much about the Relay For Life event and what it symbolizes before I joined. I just wanted to do something more because I’m sick of cancer.

When I read about it, I realized it’s actually pretty amazing and I wanted to share that here, as well as provide the link to the American Cancer Society so you can have the full story (click here).

Relays are anywhere from 6-24 hours in length. They are walked on a course or a track. At least one person from each team is always on the track, representing the ongoing fight against cancer. It starts with a survivor/fighter lap, then a caregiver lap, then the Relay begins. Teams have “campsites” around the track with activities, games, and refreshments that people can enjoy when they’re not walking. At sunset, the Luminarias are lit.

The above image is from the American Cancer Society website (link here). It’s a great, eye-opening visual of the event.

So, local peeps! I’d love it if you’d join us. So far, it’ll be me and Brad walking for 3 hours each, haha (our Relay is 6 hours). We’re going to have some fun stuff at our campsite so you’ll be entertained and well taken care of. It’ll be a great time for a great cause. Join us!!

Join More Than Ribbons (click here).

Conflicted

I’ve been lucky. I’m going into 2019 cancer-free. I have friends who are not as lucky. There are many people who aren’t as lucky. It’s just one of my motivations for joining the Relay For Life.

Around this time of year, we often think about resolutions. We think about what we want for ourselves in the new year, and what we don’t want.

I may sound like a kindergartner here, but it’s my blog so I really don’t care (point proven). And, for the record, kudos to kindergarteners for being transparent about their feelings. More people should do that and then maybe our world wouldn’t be so messed up and dishonest. Back to my stuff…

Things I tend to carry with me year to year are … wait for it … grudges. It’s not like I sit around festering about things, but when I see someone I have a grudge against, or hear their name, I’m always reminded of whatever they did to piss me off in the first place, and for that moment, I get pissed at them all over again. I’m not necessarily “present mad” at the person, but it reminds me of the “past mad,” and I do get a little “present mad.” This may seem petty, but it’s no joke! There’s someone who got on my shit list more than 10 years ago, and that “past mad” still makes me “present mad.” Granted, that person consistently does things to piss me off, so they’re forever renewing their spot on my list, but still… The same actually goes for when people hurt my feelings and make me sad. I never forget it.

So this year, with all the good I have going in my life, I’ve been speculating this. On one hand, I wonder if I need to remove these people from my life completely. Why keep people in my life who make me unhappy? On the other hand, I wonder if I should just let it all go. Can I just put all the grudges in little bubbles and let them float away? Or write them all down and set them on fire?? Ha. I wish I was kidding. It’s something that’s been heavy on my mind.

Either way, I want to go into 2019 without these burdens. I want to be the best me, and carrying old grudges (and making new ones) isn’t a productive use of my time. So what do I do?

There is no easy answer, but over the next few weeks I am going to try to let go of the things I can’t control. I’m always telling Brad to do that. When he’s upset about something someone did, I tell him he can’t control other people and their outcomes, so he shouldn’t let it bother him. He shouldn’t let someone else ruin his day in that way. I tell him to put it in a balloon and let it float away. Apparently, I don’t practice what I preach.

But I am going to try. I’m going to try to let go of my grudges. If for nothing else than to be a big “screw you” to any of those people who may have been enjoying getting a negative reaction from me. They’re either not going to get it, or they’ll get the opposite of what they’re looking for. Some people are just like that. They’re sour, rotten, and miserable in their own lives so they find ways to negatively affect someone else so that someone else feels as miserable as they do. Then they hide behind their confidences when they’re not really that confident at all. It’s a shame.

Anyway…I’ll be working on this cleansing of sorts. I’ll share whatever I choose to do and whether it works. I really want to go into 2019 with my mind being as healthy as my body.

And sleep…sleep would be great.

Looking for stories!

I mentioned in previous posts that I have a plan to do some fundraising activities for the Relay for Life (American Cancer Society) under the team name More Than Ribbons. Well, More Than Ribbons has a website and a blog (morethanribbons.org)! It’s a work in progress, but things are starting to get organized and I’m excited for what the future holds. 

Everyone knows my story and why I am supporting this cause, but I’m hoping other people may be willing to share their stories as well. So many people have been impacted by cancer…whether they are fighters, survivors, caregivers, or the loved one of a survivor, fighter, or someone who  lost their fight. I’m hoping to share those stories on the More Than Ribbons blog. 

If you’d like to contribute, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you, and the community should hear from you as well to help build awareness and show that we are all more than ribbons!

Feel free to email me at morethanribbons@gmail.com! 

Drain free!

Can you believe I was more excited to share the info about the Relay for Life than I was to share the news that I’m drain free?! Hopefully for the last time ever!

So Dr. H pulled the last drain on Monday. He also said everything looked great, and my follow up is scheduled for one month.

It’s kind of weird to not have to see a doctor next week. Whatever will I do??

Anyway, I’ve been working hard, brainstorming some fundraising ideas. I can’t wait to get started and make some things happen. I’m also in my last full week of school. Final exams are next week. My upcoming holiday break is exciting!!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Relay for Life

So I’ve decided to do a thing and join my local Relay for Life event which is organized by the American Cancer Society. I’m going to work on some fancy and cool fundraising ideas over the next 150 some odd days until the event, so stay tuned!

And, of course, if you’d like to join the team and walk the walk, please do! The more the merrier. My team name for this event is “More Than Ribbons” because we ARE more than ribbons. We are more than cancer. We are people. We’re people who have dealt with or are dealing with more BS than anyone should ever have to experience. Join the team here.

I will be working on and sharing some fun ways to contribute to my fundraising goals, but if you feel like making a straight donation today, I won’t fight you on it. You can make a donation here.

The Relay for Life also has an awesome and beautiful way for you to support fighters and caregivers, honor survivors, and remember those we’ve lost. For $10, you can purchase a luminaria and include a personal message. I plan on purchasing several for those I know who have been affected in one way or another. You can get yours here.

So, the walk itself is April 26th at 6:00pm at Cane Bay High School in Summerville. Join the team so I can see you there!

More info to come, but I ask you, on this Giving Tuesday, to consider making a donation or purchasing a Luminaria.

Also, you can check back on the static blog page for More Than Ribbons for updated information (click here) AND you can also see the amazing logo I designed for the team!

xoxo

A lot to be thankful for…

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you get stuffed, and I mean that in the best way. ❤

I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

First of all, I can take full advantage of the holidays because I don’t have to worry about the side effects of chemo leaving me feeling like garbage. I managed to skip a week of chemo at Thanksgiving so I could enjoy that holiday with my family, but later, my sick week fell right across the week of Christmas. It was lovely.

Of course, I’m also thankful that I’m healthy and cancer free. I’m no longer pissed at my body for getting cancer, but thankful that it kicked cancer’s ass and that I was healthy enough to undergo and recover from the surgeries necessary to make me better. Yes, I may still have one surgical drain left, but I can live with that. Key word: live.

I’m thankful for my family and friends. They’ve been really amazing and supportive throughout this experience and knowing I had that safety net made my mental health a lot better than it could have been.

Same with my medical team. I never felt like I had to worry, that’s some serious confidence right there. I’m thankful I could have that support.

While I’m thankful for a lot of other stuff, I feel like it’s important to add that I’m thankful for all the things I ever took for granted while being “normal.” You don’t know until you’re limited in some way how easy you once had it. So I guess I’m thankful for that perspective. I’m thankful I can brush off the petty little things that may have bothered me before and worry about the real stuff. You know? Because, quite honestly, there isn’t all that much “real stuff.”

Granted, this isn’t true for everyone and everything, but it sure makes me roll my eyes a lot more often. Ha. 

 

Still one drain…story of my life.

I had two drains removed yesterday, the ones in my chest, which is great because they were sore and itchy and nobody liked them. Ha. Seriously, though. I was so aware of those two. I kind of figured the belly one would stay, so I’m not surprised. I’m not even that annoyed about it, except this whole shower thing, but I’m about to bust out some plastic wrap so I can shower. Not even kidding. Shh, don’t tell.

I’ve had a BM since I last posted. I know that makes you as happy as it makes me. I’ve slowed down on my water drinking and I know that’s part of my problem, so I’ll pick that back up. Also, the anti-nausea meds can cause constipation and since I’m not taking oxycodone anymore, I’m not taking the anti-nausea meds anymore. I’m also getting a little annoyed that constipation isn’t coming up on the predictive text on my iPhone and I have to spell it out every time. It’s a long word, Apple, get with the program.

I’m working my way into my new food plan, and healthy eating is making me feel good. Yay! Should regulate some stuff as well. This time I’m doing something a little different, which I’ll talk about later, just to give it a try. So far I love it, and we’ll see if I have results. I also can’t wait to get this drain pulled so I can exercise, but for now it’s walking!!

That’s all the update I’ve got for today, so I’ll share more when I’ve got more. 💜

Nausea, constipation, gas, and insomnia, oh my!

I almost sound like a Pepto Bismal commercial. I’m still feeling pretty good. Still some soreness at my port site and on my ribs at the entry points for the drain tubes. I don’t have pain at my belly or chest incisions.

I’m backed up from the medications, which is incredibly frustrating. And, ironically, I take more medicine for the gas and constipation. Today, nothing seems to be working in that department though. It’s different from the last time because I was in the hospital for the days following the surgery and I didn’t have any bowel movements there, so I guess I’m not doing so bad in the grand scheme of things considering I have had a few BMs since this surgery, they’re just not as frequent as I’d like them to be, so I’m uncomfortable.

Also, just a note, I’ve had very little appetite today. I had a late lunch, ate some fruit, a cupcake, and that was it. I have been eating pretty regularly, but today was a blah day for food, which perhaps is related to the constipation.

Sleep is random. I was having insomnia before, and the only thing that seemed to help the last couple days were the pain meds and the muscle relaxer. But I didn’t take any of those during the day because I really didn’t feel like I needed them…which is good. I did take a pain pill around midnight because of the rib pain. It’s very uncomfortable, and I will be glad when those are pulled. I can’t even feel the one at my waist.

So it’s 2:30 and I can’t sleep. I’m watching more Buffy the Vampire Slayer and listening to Brad snore and slowly going insane…

I’ll update after my post-op appointment with Dr H on Monday.

Final Surgery Recap

And now for a more comprehensive recap of my surgery.

I had it at the same hospital where I had my mastectomy, so I had high hopes. Nothing went wrong, but being an outpatient was a different experience. My pre-surgery nurse was nice, but had no personality and a perma-frown. I tried to get her to talk or smile, no luck. She did interact with me, but she just never smiled. She took my vitals, asked all the right questions, and hooked up my IV. Just very straight and to the point, unlike many of the other nurses and techs I’d come into contact with throughout this journey.

Next I met the anesthesiologist, surgical nurse, and Dr. H. Then the anesthesiology nurse came and gave me chill out drugs, and took me away…while I still had my glasses on and before I could say goodbye to Brad! I don’t remember much else after that. I do vaguely recall moving from one gurney to another in the OR, but that’s it.

I woke up in recovery with a very dry mouth. I was given an anti-nausea patch before the surgery and one of the side effects was dry mouth. It lasted quite some time and I drank my usual post-op cranberry juice and had some ice chips. I tried to eat some crackers so I could take the pain meds, but my mouth was too dry so I stuck with the ice chips.

The pain has been intermittent. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so it’s hard for me to judge exactly what it all feels like.

First off, no more port! So weird. It’s the smallest incision, but it’s the one I feel the most. That’s probably because I still had a lot of numbness in my chest and abdomen from the previous surgery.

unnamed

My boobs are smaller (yay!). I’ve gained weight since the previous surgery, and since abdominal fat grows faster than other fats, my boobs gained weight. Plus, my boobs were a little too big for my liking anyway, so I’m glad they are a bit smaller. And, of course, this surgery shaped them up a bit since the flaps were removed. Remember the pic of the softball looking stitches? They are gone!

My chest is a little sore, but what’s weird is the the tube from the drains is so close to the surface. It looks totally crazy.

unnamed (1)

The incisions on my breast are just straight lines from my nipple down to my chest on each side. Pretty simple and tame looking. Right now there are steri-strips over those incisions, so once those come off, I’ll share pics. Dr. H fixed about a 10 inch stretch of my abdominal incision where the scar tissue was a little gnarly from him having to reopen it so it would heal from the inside out. That looks neat and clean, but it is also covered steri-strips.

I have three drains, one on each side of my chest and one at my waist. The ones in my chest are not producing much, but the one in my waist is. Last night was 60 ccs, this morning was 30. Each side was less than 10 this morning. I am hoping all will be pulled at my appointment on Monday, but I’ll accept whatever I can get. I certainly don’t want fountain belly again. I did not get a surgical bra or one of those tank tops that hold the drains this time, so I’ve got a sash made out of gauze that the drains are hanging from. It’s quite awkward. Last time, the drains had clips I could clip to my shirt or pants, not this time.

My appetite is fine and I have a good level of energy. I am a bit constipated from all the drugs, so I’ve been taking some kind of fiber pill to help me use the bathroom. I can’t take a shower until the drains are removed, so that’s fun. It’s a good thing I have a shower sprayer with a hose so I can clean from the waist down and wash my hair. I’ll have to use a wash cloth everywhere else. (Insert eye roll here.) I guess there has been an increase in infection related to showering with drains, so Dr. H changed his aftercare instructions. I just want to be healthy, so I’ll do whatever they say!

Not much else to report at the moment, at least nothing I can think of. I’m off work until after Thanksgiving, at which point I hope to be feeling at or close to 100%. It’s hard working with kiddos when you’re not well or don’t have full range of motion. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to go out with Brad for a little bit and do some food shopping. I’m ready to dive back into our healthy eating plan, and I figured I’d use my week off next week to get readjusted to that, even though it is the week of Thanksgiving and it seems dumb to talk about healthy eating and Thanksgiving in the same sentence. But that’s the thing about the plan he and I are following. It’s OK to take a day off or to make mistakes. It’s not going to throw us into a downward spiral of shame. It’s just one day.

So yeah, I think I’ve included everything and if you want to know more, just ask! It’s quite possible that I’ve omitted something or glazed over something else in my medicated stupor over here. You all know I’m not shy, so ask away!

Surgery is over!

All my major cancer-related crap is over! Can I get a “hell yeah?!”

Hell yeah!

My surgery was this morning, everything went well. We went a little smaller on my chest since they were a little too big before. I’m happy with the way that turned out.

Dr. H recreated a nipple on the right side, so that’s both amazing and cool. He also did the wound closure at my abdominal incision, so that looks nice and neat.

I am a bit sore and still running off the hospital anesthesia. I took a Zofran for nausea. I can’t wait to eat real food. I had a shake when I woke up from my nap, it was good and full of nutrition! I think it was just what I needed at the time, chocolate with berries.

Anyway, I’m binging on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and patiently awaiting some pizza. I’ll post more about this experience when I’m less loopy.