My white blood cell count didn’t do as I had hoped, it actually did the exact opposite. Yup, that’s right. It went down by .3. Like seriously? Why? Well, it’s probably a combination of things: stress, adjusting to a new chemotherapy drug and a cumulative effect of the treatments.
I’m not going to lie here and pout, even though sometimes I want to. instead I am going to look at the bright side of things and just keep swimming. My fairy tale ending is coming, I just need to hang on a little longer. (Nine more weeks to be exact.)
Remember- No one’s life is perfect. Even Cinderella had to scrub a few toilets before she became a princess. We just have to remember that the magic happens when we don’t give up. Bippity-Boppity-Boo.
Whatever you are going through, just hang on a little longer. God has a plan, let Him work His magic.
Have you guys seen that meme that’s been on Facebook lately? The one where it says something about this past week feeling like a year? Well, welcome to my life: COVID-19 social distancing, chemotherapy treatments and potty training.
At my last treatment day my white blood cells (part of my body’s immune system) dropped by more than 50%, which means my odds of fighting off any virus, infection or disease is greatly decreased. Perfect timing considering the situation with COVID-19. Not! No one, especially me, likes being the first person to react and leave work because of a snowstorm or in this case, COVID-19. Thankfully, I have friends and family that reminded me that my health is a priority right now and I should do whatever I need to do to protect myself. #toughlove
What does protecting myself mean? It means Tyler and I have had numerous conversations about what is best for our family. It means I’m doing as much as I can from home to help out at work. It means I’m staying hydrated and taking vitamins by the handfuls. It means I’m taking advantage of the COVID-19 deal from Crested River to keep up on my CBD/CBG tinctures. It means I pulled my kids out of daycare. It means I haven’t gone anywhere other than my chemotherapy treatments. It means my kids haven’t seen their friends. It means lots of time at home waiting.
All of these recent changes had me and my family searching for answers. What if I get COVID-19? How long is this going to last? What is the best thing we can do for our family? Is there something we don’t know?
As if we weren’t already under enough stress we thought it would be a good distraction to start potty training our little firecracker. Rowyn, is 23 months old and she showed all the signs of being ready to be potty trained. She would instantly tell me she needed to be changed, heck she would even bring me the diaper. She has gone on the potty a few times after expressing her need to go and has shown interest in others going to the bathroom.
Day One: It was a disaster. We went through 6 pairs of underwear and 6 pairs of pants. Rowyn would tell me she had to go potty, but refused to go. As soon as I left her off the potty, she would pause, look at me and say, “wet!” Yup, she just peed her pants right after I took her off the potty.
Who the heck said potty training girls was easier than boys?
Did I cry? Did I throw a temper tantrum? Did I have a glass of wine before 5 p.m.? Yes, yes I did. #toughlove
Day Two: Progress. Instead of going through 6 pairs of underwear and 6 pairs of pants, we only went through 2. That’s right, which means she used her potty chair more than she wet her pants! Did she fight me tooth and nail? Yes, yes she did. She told me when she had to go potty, but she yelled at me the whole time I made her sit. It was brutal.
Day Three: Progress. Ms. Rowyn only had one accident! We still went through 2 pairs of pants, but that’s because the sun was shining and we were all overdue for some fresh air and natural Vitamin D.
Day Four: I’m hoping and praying that things continue to get easier each day and soon Tyler and I can pop a bottle of bubbly to celebrate that we are officially done potty training!
Sonja Teclai once said, “Stress has the tendency to blind you from your blessings.” She was right. With everything going on this past weekend, I didn’t write in my journal- 5 things I’m grateful for and 10 dreams I made happen. This break in my usual routine probably explains why I feel like I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster.
Come to think of it, it also explains Samuel and his recent behavior. Mommy and Daddy have been doing a lot of talking about something that can make us really sick, mommy has done a lot of crying and he hasn’t seen any of his friends. My poor, sensitive little man is lacking routine. Thankfully, the bulk of the hard work required to potty train is done. Now we can get into a routine. I need the routine just as much as he does.
What’s my take-away here? Well, it’s to remember that even in times of stress we should still keep to our routine- practice gratitude, exercise, drink the stupid water, take the vitamins, do whatever it is that brings you joy and to stop dwelling on what you cannot control. Let Go and Let God, or to quote my husband, “it is, what it is,” my friend. Time to put on the big girl pants and tackle that shit. If it’s important to you, you will find the time. #toughlove
Today I am grateful for…
Extra time with my family
Chemotherapy treatments (even thought I don’t want to go)
What are you grateful for?
These are some of the dreams I made happen today:
I am cancer free
I am an exceptional wife, mother and friend
I am a healthy and fit person
What about you, what dreams did you make happen today?
Sending you love, hugs and a friendly reminder to wash your hands,
I’m pretty jazzed about the name I’ve come up with for my last chemotherapy regimen. 12 Rounds of Taxol = The Dirty Dozen. I had my first round yesterday, which means I’ve only got 11 more to go! I just hope the rounds that follow go a little smoother.
I was about 5-10 minutes into my infusion when all of a sudden, I felt off. I had to sit up, my heart felt like it was working so hard to beat, my face was hot, my hands were tingly and I was chilled. I was honestly scared, but with some deep breathing and some amazing nurses coming to check on me, it subsided and I was able to finish my infusion. Scary, right?! Wait, there is more!
I think I mentioned before all the side effects that come with Taxol, but in case I didn’t here they are:
Arthralgia and Myalgia- muscle and joint pain
Peripheral neuropathy- numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
Low blood counts
Continued hair loss- Goodbye eyelashes and eyebrows
Discoloration of the nail beds
Edema- swelling of the feet or ankles
Fun right? Of course there is also the usual chemotherapy side effects like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea! But I don’t have any of those symptoms today. I am feeling good, but I’ve got this mentality… ACT THE WAY YOU WANT TO FEEL. I want to feel good, so I will feel good. I choose to manifest wellness.
Until I start feeling those side effects you’ll catch me doing what I love (besides being a wife, mom and friend) running, chasing goals and getting better at my practice. Today, I managed to run 2.5 miles! Not a marathon, but that’s ok. I felt so good afterwards, thank you runner’s high, that I thought why not push myself a little more. So for those of you familiar with yoga, you probably know that one of the most difficult poses is the Crow Pose, well it is for me at least. It’s been so long since I’ve done any yoga, but today, I thought why not! My form definitely isn’t what it used to be, but that’s ok.
“Did you make progress? Did you apply effort to learn and grow as it relates to what you want? It doesn’t matter how small; progress is all you’re after.” – Marie Forleo
I have goals and dreams that are still unmet and many of them have been put on hold, thanks cancer, but I’m still making progress. I’m still training. I’m still climbing. I’m one step closer to being an OVERCOMER.
For anyone who has been to RISE you will understand what I’m talking about and for those of you who haven’t… let me explain.
We all have days. Days where we need to hear a friend say, “MOVEMENT IS MOVEMENT, fast or slow, you are doing it!” Rachel Hollis talks about how we are our own worst critic. We let that little voice of negativity in our head run our lives and ruin our day. At RISE, Rachel told us to give the negative voice in our head a name, to picture what she looks like and imagine how she acts. I know. I know! You probably think this sounds weird, but honestly, it is so helpful.
The negative voice in my head is Barb, she isn’t outgoing, she isn’t fun, she doesn’t get along with anyone from my girl gang and she is just plain ol’ crotchety. She is one of those women that stands in the corner flipping out her hair as she is pointing out everyone’s flaws and failures, but yet, she herself has never tried anything to break away from the ordinary.
The take-away here is that when that voice starts to creep in, we are supposed to say, “Not today, ____”
So for those of you who know me, you know I love to run. There is no greater sense of freedom and well-being than when my shoes hit the pavement. However, with surgery and chemo, I’ve been pretty wiped, and the body de-conditions pretty fast! Just today, I was on the treadmill and was able to run 2 miles without stopping. It was a victory, but all I could hear was Barb, “you are a marathon runner, why are you so excited to run 2 miles? Pssh! Pathetic!” It took me a couple minutes, but I was able to say, “not today, Barb!”
I did it. Sure I’m not where I was 9 months ago, but that’s ok, life happens. Instead I chose to remind myself of the following:
Progress over Perfection
Talk to yourself like you would someone you love. – Brene Brown
I’m doing this for me, and only me (well, and the runner’s high)
Wait a minute. You’ve never heard of a runner’s high?! It’s a real thing, “runner’s high” refers to the feeling of pure elation, reduced stress, and a decreased ability to feel pain due to a flood of endorphins released by exercise (according to google.)
Did you notice that you don’t have to be a runner to feel this “runner’s” high? You can get it just from exercise- getting up and moving your body. Running may not be your jam, but whatever it is, (dancing, yoga, walking) just keep doing it, especially if it makes you feel good. Who cares what that negative inner voice is telling you, Pam, Joyce, Barb or whatever you named her. You do you. Do what you enjoy. Be thankful you have the ability to do what you enjoy and remember, MOVEMENT is MOVEMENT.
In other news, I start my last chemotherapy drug this week, Taxol. I will be receiving this drug weekly for 12 weeks and while it’s killing cancer cells, it’s also likely going to cause joint pain, numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, and some other awesome side effects.
Let the countdown to May 27th begin!
Lastly, as always, thank you! Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, good vibes, well wishes, food, donations, candy, coloring books, everything and EVERYTHING. We appreciate it all.
the practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.
the presence rather than the absence of a certain substance, condition, or feature.
Wow! I usually only think of positivity as a personal attribute, but when I look at both definitions it is all encompassing for me… and that sucks!
You know those depression commercials, where the person with depression is hiding behind a mask? Well, sometimes I feel that way. Although, I do usually spend most of my days spent genuinely being positive and upbeat, but I’m human too and it’s ok to feel, Meh. See this photo –> It’s on one of my Meh days and it’s probably the most flattering photo Tyler has taken of me while I’m crashed, down and out for the count. (Bless the hearts of those who have seen the “bum” photos of me!)
My 3rd round of Red Devil had me in bed Thursday afternoon through Sunday late morning. I had joint pain, a headache, nausea and fatigue. My diet consisted of celery with cheese, fresh carrots, popcorn, water, ginger ale, Compazine and my CBD + CBG oil from Crested River.
Those three days left me feeling not at all like myself. I was more emotional, easily agitated, and just sick of feeling like crap, but thanks to my friend Rachel Hollis and her list of Self-Love Affirmations, I was back on the right track:
I believe in myself
I am worthy
I am brave
I love my body for everything it has done for me
I love who I am becoming
I choose to be happy
I am strong
I will strop apologizing for things I can’t control
I am beautiful
I love myself
Really quick, I want to say for those of you suffering everyday with chronic pain or other debilitating illness, my heart goes out to you. You are the real heroes!
By Tuesday, I was finally feeling better and back to myself. So much that on some days you could find me on the treadmill getting my jog on! It felt so good, but one thing I’ve noticed is that most of my days depended on my positive mindset and the positive people that fill my life. A mindset is a belief that orients the way we handle situations- the way we sort out what is going on and what we should do. One last fact about mindsets is that there are seven of them: Everything Is Possible, Passion First, We Are Connected, 100% Accountable, Attitude of Gratitude, Live to Give, and The Time Is Now. What mindset did you choose today?
I am a firm believer that our mindset and our attitude is our choice. With that said, I always get nervous for chemotherapy, but I just have to remind myself that with every treatment I am one step closer to the top of my mountain. Yesterday I couldn’t have been more excited to kiss the Red Devil good-bye! I went into the day with an Attitude of Gratitude (I am so thankful for my Girl Gang) and The Time Is Now (I am an OVERCOMER!) With my friends by my side what was there for me to worry about? Sure, after every treatment I feel like shit, but that’s not how I felt yesterday, my friends brought and kept feeding the room with positive energy, bagels, mimosas sunglasses and kiss kazoos. I was on cloud nine! As my sister-in-law mentioned yesterday, “your friends are magical!” They most certainly are and I am so grateful that God has put them in my life.
Cancer sure does suck, but it makes the positive things in my life shine so much brighter. I am grateful for the good days, my girl gang, my husband, my family, the Wednesday chemotherapy group- Matt and Andrea, the prayer warriors and the way it has changed me as a person. So here I go, I’m going to say it. Thank you, Cancer.
Some days I really wonder, how did I get so lucky? Thank you all so much for your continued support, thoughts, prayers, food and well wishes. My family is so grateful!
If you are interested in helping out, there is a meal train plus website that was created. You can pick a day to bring a meal, buy gift cards or simply donate. Please do not feel obligated, prayers and good vibes are welcome too!
If you are wondering what’s next, it’s a float session at Calm Lake Floats and then it’s 12 weekly rounds of Taxol.
Mark your calendars… My last day of chemotherapy is May 27th!
Does anyone else have a week where they think to themselves, “gosh, can I please just catch a break?“
Round 2 of chemotherapy hit me differently or maybe it’s because I was more prepared for what was coming- minus the pounding headache. Instead of being miserable and enduring the punch of the Red Devil on my own I used the resources I had to be more comfortable. Thank you, compazine and Crested River- Philotimo for helping with the nausea, body aches, anxiety and brain fog.
So there I was, feeling fine with the exception of the regular fatigue when, WHAM! We caught the bug. No amount of Emergen-C was going to help me stay healthy when my white count dropped to 3.9 and everyone in the house was running a temp, coughing and using mommy as a tissue.
Wait. It gets better.
Not only were we all sick, but our water heater malfunctioned meaning we were without hot water AND we had water in our basement.
Like seriously? Come on!
You’ll be happy to know that after a week of Tamiflu, cough syrup, gallons of orange juice and a visit from our plumber we are back up and running. Praise, Jesus!
But wait, there is more. I have more to be thankful for. You know how I always talk about practicing gratitude, well, even after a crap week I was still able to find something to be thankful for:
The bug hit us all simultaneously so our sickness wasn’t drug out for weeks.
The water was a quick clean up and stayed in the old cellar
The water heater only required a small fix (something with a pressure switch)
The opportunity to wear my wig to visit the Himalayan Salt Room in Mankato to help strengthen my immune system
Are you having a tough day or maybe even a bad week? Well, instead of wiggin’ out, write down 5 things you are thankful for. You have your own mountain to climb, but if you just keep yodeling, I know you will overcome what you may be going through. You just gotta stay positive.
Now it’s time to prepare for another treatment. Just thinking about it makes me anxious, but I have to remind myself that the bad days are only temporary and with each treatment I’m one step closer to being an OVERCOMER. (Is it May yet?) On the bright side, another treatment means another day hanging with the amazing staff and volunteers at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute (NUMC), the hubby and my new chemo buddy, Andrea!
See, so much to be thankful for.
What are you thankful for?
Seriously, if you haven’t hopped on the CBG/CBD bandwagon, contact my cousin, Shawn Weber at Crested River. He is so knowledgeable in the health benefits that CBG/CBD have to offer. #GONATURAL #HEALING
What a beautiful journey! The path up my mountain has definitely been scenic and I can’t believe the wide range of beauty I have seen so far. The most beautiful part of this journey is all the love and support you have given to me and my family and we are so grateful. It’s your texts, prayers, good vibes, meals and everything in between that create a rainbow after a dreary day. (Wow, does that sound cheesy or what?!)
Today is one of those dreary days….
I can’t believe how much my hair started falling out after Round 2. I had hair everywhere, it was gross, but I’m still sad it’s gone. That’s right, it’s gone. Today was hair donation day. I’m sad, I’m teary-eyed just thinking about it, but thankfully there is a child with hair loss who is going to benefit from my donation. (I’m all about silver linings)
I was terrified of what Samuel would say when he saw me without hair, but the one who had a more difficult time was my sweet, Rowyn. She kept looking at me and asking where my hair was. How do you explain to a one and a half year old what cancer is and the side effects of chemotherapy? Que the water works….
I’m still processing, so hang tight, and maybe I’ll share more feelings or thoughts later, but for now… check out this brief video made by B. North Photography: #TeamSara
You guys, ROUND ONE is done and I’ve been enjoying my off week, but as I start planning (cause I’m a planner) for my next treatment on January 29th my stomach knots. I’m not looking forward to the nausea, fatigue, bone pain and the progression of hair loss, brittle nails and dry skin (just to name a few other side effects).
The Friday after my treatment was awful and I mean AWFUL! Thankfully I was able to re-read a text a dear friend sent to me. Be kind to and patient with yourself. Let yourself feel all the feels, to cry when you need to instead of holding it in, to rest when you just can’t keep going, it’s all going to part of the journey. I needed that reminder and after months of keeping it together, I allowed myself to feel all the feels.
When the waves are taking you under Hold on just a little bit longer He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger The pain ain’t gonna last forever And things can only get better Believe me This is gonna make you stronger
Sorry, Mandisa, things might get a little worse before they get better, but I love your enthusiasm and will continue to remind myself that this is making me a stronger, better version of myself. I will be an OVERCOMER.
Like I said, it’s my off week and I have never been more thankful for the days of feeling well. I did something I haven’t done since my surgery, something that makes me feel free and brings peace of mind. I RAN! OK, so it was more like a jog and it wasn’t for very long, but I did it and it felt so good!
I also had my first recheck with my oncologist. He had nothing but good things to say- my labs were stable, the side effects were to be expected and my attitude and outlook is something he wishes other had. He also had to remind me to not feel disheartened when my labs plummet and side effects progress, because that is likely to happen with this type of treatment. Sure it wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows, but I was on cloud nine!
Remember, when I said I’m a planner? I get anxious when I have to fly by the seat of my pants, but sometimes planning for the week ahead can alone cause anxiety. UGH! Here I was smiling and feeling fine then WHAM! I have another treatment, another 5-6 days of feeling like crap and my hair will start falling out soon. So naturally, I’m taking a few things into my own hands.
Saturday, February 1st is going to be a day to again, feel all the feels. I’ve invited our immediate family to come and join me for HAIR DONATION DAY! We are going to celebrate the fact that my hair will be used for a child with hair loss. It’s going to fall out so someone might as well get use out of it, right?! I’m excited– I am in control. I’m nervous-what are Samuel and Rowyn going to say, will Tyler still think I’m beautiful, how will I feel about myself? I’m sad– that part of my femininity will be gone.
Sorry, not sorry. This probably isn’t as chipper as my usually blogs, but I want to be transparent with you. As my friends, you get all of me, not just the happy, goal-getter side, you get the sad and anxious side too.
Now to finish like I always intend to, with gratitude. I want to again say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive for me and my family as we continue the journey up this mountain. Your smiles, texts, prayers, thoughts, hugs, cards, good vibes, meals and everything in between has been greatly appreciated!
Yesterday was a whirlwind, but I do have a take away.
What’s a person without their accessories?
When this whole process started the only accessories I would wear included necklaces and earrings and the occasional clutch. Nothing fancy unless it was for a special event.
Now my accessories include: an implant and expander, a port, a pink reminder sleeve and soon wigs, hats and scarves. (I just hope I can pull all of them off like my sister-in-law Ashlee . Seriously, I’ve never seen anyone wear accessories better!) Thankfully I ditched the 3 drainage tubes after surgery or I’d feel like Olivia Octavius from Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse.
I’m all about silver linings and here are just a few: I’m one step closer to being an OVERCOMER. I am one step closer to saying so long, Breast Cancer.
Even though I feel like so much of me is gone, I’m still here. I’m still Sara and there is one accessory that will remain the same, one that I never considered an accessory. My Smile.
If any of you remember from my previous blog- Act The Way You Want To Feel... Application creates transformation. Studies show that artificially inducing a smile can prompt happier emotions. Now I just want to build on that…Sharing a smile is the easiest way to brighten someone’s day. So keep smiling and keep sharing your gift to others 🙂
Wow, what a year! 2019 was a roller coaster year: Melanoma – Jamaica – Grandma’s Marathon – Larsen Bean Bag Tournament – Tiny House Adventure – Washington – Breast Cancer. There are so many other wonderful things that happened and for those moments of joy I am so grateful. Now it’s time to turn the page and begin the new year, a new chapter.
2020 begins with bang- I am officially a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and I received another map for my journey to overcoming breast cancer.
My final pathology result came in on the cancer tumor. The original biopsy showed that it was 18% estrogen positive (anything less than 10% is considered negative) but the entire tumor was tested and the estrogen came back as 5%– meaning it is considered negative. I am a triple negative (estrogen, progesterone and HER2), which means I will undergo roughly 20 weeks of Chemo.
As I am already 4 weeks post surgery, my oncologist would like to get things started ASAP:
Thursday, January 9th- Review with my surgeon regarding restrictions from the double mastectomy and the procedure for port placement.
A quick note on the expander: it feels like I have an 8 ball or milk jug in my right breast- it’s Hard, Heavy and Uncomfortable.
Friday, January 10th-
10a.m.- Chemotherapy Education
12p.m.- SDS- port placement
Monday, January 13th- I get to go back to work!!
Wednesday, January 15th- FIRST DAY OF CHEMOTHERAPY
I don’t want this to sound glum, but ugh! Life before my diagnosis was so wonderful. Of course there were a few hiccups, but whose life is perfect? I realize now, looking back, I took so much for granted. I’ll give you just one example, my hair. I have literally tried almost every hair style and color– I would always say, “it’s only hair.” Well, now it isn’t only hair. IT’S MY HAIR and I won’t have any of it left!
Besides climbing that damn mountain, I have been working on myself and how I can become a better person, appreciate what I have been given and live my life to the fullest. Here are some of the golden nuggets I’ve picked up along the way (thank you Rachel and Dave Hollis, Trent Shelton, Mel Robbins, Holly Wagner and Lysas Terkeurst):
Embrace the chaos and choose joy
If it isn’t a hell yes, it’s a hell no
Protect your peace
Attitude is everything
We were not created to solve all of life’s problems on our own
Again, I want to say thank you to everyone for your continued support, prayers, well wishes and good vibes. I appreciate the check-in’s, the surprise visit (Melissa Schneider), the giggles, the meals and EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING. It is with your support that I can become an OVERCOMER.