A Recap

Holy Moly! I am coming up on the ONE YEAR mark since my diagnosis. I don’t have much to say other than that I am completely humbled by my experience. I thank God for gifting me this new life- life after cancer. It’s because of my diagnosis that I live with a deeper sense of meaning, of value. There is more light, more laughter, more love. There are stronger bonds and relationships. There is gratitude.

Just recently I was able to share my story with a great group of women from New Ulm. One of my duties in this new life, my purpose, since my diagnosis- spread awareness, spread HOPE! It brought back so many emotions, so many feelings, that instead of keeping it to myself I thought I’d share it with you….

The RECAP:

I’m Sara, I am 32 years old. I am a farmer’s wife, a mother of 2 toddlers and a full time employee at the Sleepy Eye Medical Center. I love to run, workout and I am super competitive when it comes to any activity- fundraising, squatting, running, you name it, I’m up for the challenge.

With that said, this is where my story begins.

This time last year, I was participating in a push up challenge. It was tough, but I could do 20 push-ups nonstop without having to drop onto my knees! It was October 2nd and man, my pecs were sore, which meant I was trying to massage the tight muscles when I noticed a hard grape like lump in my right breast. I mentioned it to my husband, Tyler and he assumed it was a knot or something from doing so many push-ups. That same weekend, after a few cocktails, I also pointed it out to my girlfriends at our Tiny House adventure. They also thought it was probably from doing so many push-ups. (Side note, if you haven’t stayed in a tiny house with some girlfriends, I highly recommend it)

A month went by, and I was in the shower, when I noticed it hadn’t gone away. I asked my dermatologist to feel it, I asked all my friends to feel it, and then at my physical on November 4th, I pointed it out to my physician. He didn’t seem too concerned given my age, but asked me if I would like further testing. I opted for more diagnostics, which consisted of a mammogram. On November 6th, I was fortunate enough to have my cousin, Megan do my diagnostic mammogram. After my first picture, I could see it, the grape like lump that I could feel in my breast in bright white. She had to call the radiologist to see if they would like more images, they did. After obtaining more images, Megan had to call again and that’s when she told me I needed to have an ultrasound. She gave me a hug and told me it’s going to be ok.  

Before I even left work that day, I had an appointment to meet with Dr. Cori Jordan to go over my results of the mammogram. She was great and I will continue to consider her my captain during my journey, my advocate and my friend. I don’t know how she did it, but she called and stated that I was to have my ultrasound and biopsy done the same day. No questions about it, but I still had to WAIT.

That weekend, Tyler and I were headed to Washington State to visit some family who had recently moved out there.  On the flight Tyler and I were separated which left me to my own thoughts. The pilot stated that if you looked out the left side of the plane you could see Mount Rainier…. And that’s when it happened. I cried- at the beauty of that mountain, the fact that I am not in control and the feeling I felt knowing what my diagnosis would be.

It was November 11th that I had my Ultrasound guided biopsy… thank goodness they numb you up. If you would ask Tyler, he would tell you the needle they shoved into my breast was at least 12 inches long!  With my biopsy done, we had to sit tight and wait for the results.

On November 14th Tyler and I sat down with Doctor Jordan while she gave me my diagnosis, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  It was seriously such a blur, the only thing I could comprehend was that I had cancer and my husband was crying. Dr. Jordan commented on the tumor’s receptors, Nottingham score, and next steps which included an MRI to check my lymph nodes, I needed to consider what type of surgery, meeting with a genetic counselor and a plastic surgeon……. I was shaking, my husband was crying but Dr. Jordan and Krissy took care of us and all the details. We were passengers and they were the captains.

On November 18th, I had my breast MRI. This was also the day I met Andrea for the first time, she was filling out the ultrasound paperwork that I had completed a week earlier. We didn’t say hello, but for some odd reason, I remember seeing her and Jon sit across from Tyler and I while we waited to be called back. A breast MRI is not pleasant, I had to lie face down with my breast bone resting on some hard plastic. My arms were above my head and their contrast made me feel like I wet my pants! Seriously though, the ladies at NUMC were amazing. They put a pink ribbon on the door frame, helped me get as comfortable as possible and walked me through the entire process. I wish I could remember their names, because they deserve a shout out.

Within a couple of days, I got told I would need another ultrasound guided biopsy of my lymph node because it showed some thickening. That was done, according to my husband with a much smaller needle. After lots of prayer and manifestation, the biopsy results came back negative!

November 22nd, I met with my plastic surgeon and told her that I was still waiting the results from my genetic testing, but given my age that I had opted for a double mastectomy to give myself the best odds of never having to go through this again. Fun fact, breast feeding creates saggy boobs, which means you have a greater chance of saving your nipples. Thanks to my children, I still have my nipples!

December 5th, I met with Dr. Jordan to discuss my surgery that was scheduled for December 13th, CANCER EXODUS day. Double Mastectomy, Tumor tracing, drainage tubes, restrictions, reconstruction, etc.

Fast forward to surgery day. We checked in, I got all gowned up and we started meeting with members of my team- anesthesia, my surgeons, nurses and some radiology staff who came in with a metal box with a hazard symbol on top, that’s right they injected me with something that destroyed Chernobyl, thankfully I don’t glow green and have a new third eye.

I woke up with 3 drainage tubes, an implant and an expander which meant they removed some lymph nodes due to concerns of cancer being present. Again, we wait. These drainage tubes were most uncomfortable- one in the armpit and one in each breast. Thankfully the one in my armpit got to come out a few days after surgery, but if I’m honest with you, I almost pulled it out on my own. Not intentionally. I sat down on my tube and all I can say is, “ouch!” As for my expander- it felt like a plastic milk jug was in my breast. It was hard, odd shaped and uncomfortable.

I was unable to raise my arms, I couldn’t pick up my children or give them big hugs, I relied on my husband to help me with my sponge baths and wash my hair…. We had some good laughs though. If only you could have seen my husband’s face when he wiped my armpit and got orange chunks. He said, and I quote, “I think you have something growing in there!” We laughed and laughed. Don’t worry, it was betadine and deodorant!

I had many follow up appointments, but my main takeaways from those appointments were this: I have a CHEK2 mutation which meant I was at greater risk of getting breast cancer a second time, I also had some scarring in my left breast tissue—I made the right choice to have a double mastectomy.  My tumor came back triple negative which meant I had to have chemotherapy, but the silver lining was that I didn’t need any radiation as my lymph nodes came back clear.

Chemotherapy came with it’s own education day and prep work- labs, echocardiogram, port placement, and chemotherapy drug review. Let me tell you this, when one of your chemo drugs is referred to as the Red Devil you get a little terrified.

January 15th. Day one of chemotherapy, was a one of a kind experience. The staff there are something else, there are truly some of the best nurses and volunteers I’ve ever met. Prior to receiving any chemo drugs, you get pre-medicated. Two medications for nausea and a steroid- which fun fact, if someone gives your steroid push to fast it makes your ahhm itch! I also want to add that it was also the day I met Matt- Lung Cancer. He sat to the left of me. He was receiving Taxol when he went completely unresponsive. (Yes, I also received Taxol and you better believe that I as afraid I would have the same type of reaction.) We still give him crap to this day and we would tell anyone and everyone not to sit in “that” chair because it was cursed or that if they were going to sit in it, they couldn’t pull a Matt.  My second round of chemo, I met Andrea (you’ll never guess where she chose to sit). This time we actually said hello and shared our stories- same kind of cancer, same genetic mutation, same chemotherapy regimen…. We were each other’s cancer twin. Matt and I had to joke around with her, not only because of her chair choice, but because of the steroid medication she was going to be receiving. We told her the itching lasts for days! I also received Taxol, but thankfully I didn’t pull a Matt. I only suffered from feeling like my heart was going to pump out of my chest and that I was going to pass out. Minor.

Chemotherapy came with a plethora of side effects some not as bad as the others like menopause- wahoo, no period (except look out hot flashes) or hair loss, which meant I didn’t need to shave anymore and getting ready for work in the morning was so easy since I had didn’t have hair to fuss with. Some of the worst side effects included nausea, fatigue, pain and low white count. After each Red Devil treatment I got a little bomb called Neulasta to help my body create white blood cells. I called it the bomb because well, the nurse applies it to your stomach. It ticks and then WAM! A needle to the gut!  Then 24 hours after it is applied it ticks again… slowly injecting your body with the medicine to stimulate your bone marrow to create new white blood cells. Which meant, I experienced excruciating bone pain. So bad it hurt to be touched. Those days were my darkest, but if you know me, I got right back up and kept moving. No sense in feeling sorry for myself, no sense in reminding myself how crappy I felt. I didn’t ever give myself the option to say, I give up. I manifested health and wellness, I moved my body, I prayed, I practiced gratitude, I stayed strong for my kids and my husband.

I learned so much during my cancer journey. Some things like:

  • I’m an enneagram type 7- which means, I’m optimistic, versatile, high spirited…let’s just say it explains a lot about me.
  • Cancer robs you of control over your life and body, but it also teaches us that we never really had control in the first place.
  • To my children’s dismay, my hair doesn’t grow as fast as a chia pet. Seriously after every shower, Samuel would ask me if my hair had grown.
  • You can meet some of your best friends during chemotherapy
  • Cancer changes a person and changes the types of relationships you have with others
  • Believe in God Moments- God speaks to us, we just need to listen. He was preparing me for my journey before I even found my lump.
  • Things like this happen for a reason. My reasons:
    • Spread awareness
    • Motivate
    • Inform others on the power of Mindset, Gratitude, we have to appreciate all the little things and the importance of believing in God

May 27th marked my last day of chemotherapy. I was so happy, but sad. I cried. I was fortunate to celebrate my “last day” while a couple of my friends will continue to show up week after week until their body no longer responds to chemo.  That’s why I am here today. Early detection is everything. Listen to your body and for goodness sake, DON’T FORGET TO DO YOUR MONTHLY SELF BREAST EXAM!

In closing:

My life continues to be a journey and it’s a journey I intend to live it to the fullest. I will take the time off, I will give all the snuggles, I will read all the books and play all the games, I will slow down, I will spend time with friends and family, I will continue to spread awareness and hope.

I will be forever grateful.

Thank you to my family, my friends, my nurses and surgeons, my radiologist and sonographers, my pathologists, oncologist and technicians. Thank you, B the Light for the HOPE Getaway (Rainbow Mountain coming soon!) Thank you, New Ulm Cross Fit for the great workout in my honor. Thank you, EVERYONE for the meals and donations, the thoughts, the prayers and well wishes.

Lastly, for our friends and family that continue their battle with cancer. Let us pray,

healing prayer for cancer patients

Stitches

I am at home recovering from my last reconstruction surgery and I’d be lying if I told you it’s been going great. I don’t know what it is, but when I am in pain, I get down in the dumps, but reading and writing seem to help me out of the slump… so here it goes.

Do you have a friend that seems accident prone- needing stitches or a cast on an annual basis? If you don’t, I’d gladly fill that void for you.

As a child, I never broke a bone or required stitches… I was honestly jealous of the kids that got the cool battle wounds from a tubing accident or a wipe out on roller blades. I thought they were hard core. A bad-ass.

Now I’m 32, and I have so many scars from battle wounds. Well, honestly, only some are battle wounds- my foot: melanoma, my breasts: breast cancer, c-sections: motherhood. Yup, bad ass status achieved. You can call me, Stitches.

I actually came up with that nickname after I had a lump removed from the back of my neck, which yes, required more stitches. (Life is too short to take so seriously all the time.) Don’t worry folks, it was benign.

I do have other scars, some are just not visible to the naked eye:

When we received my breast cancer diagnosis, I opted for genetic counseling and testing because I do not know my “dad’s” family history. While we were waiting for the genetic testing results, my mom found my “dad”. Long story short, he didn’t want any contact with me… It’s fine. It’s totally fine. #REJECTED. More stitches. Sure his rejection will probably always subconsciously bother me and perhaps it explains some other feelings but it also gave me a closer relationship with my mother and gave me so many memories with my grandma and grandpa.

All of the stitches I have- internally and externally are making me into a masterpiece. I am uniquely and beautifully made. All of the stitches are a memory. A reminder. I am a bad-ass. I can do anything. I am strong. I am a warrior. I have so much to be grateful for.

Each and every diagnosis and suture has led me to new experiences, new friendships and a new outlook. In darkness there is light, it’s within us, we just need to be brave and find it.

Love and Hugs,

Sara

Now What?

I could go on and on about how much I hate what is going on in the world right now, but all I’ll say is this: I don’t care who is right and who is wrong, God created us all equal. He created us to be kind to one another. He created us to do good. It is ok to stand firm for what you believe in, but please, do it in the best interest of others- respect their beliefs and opinions, but above all, treat others the way you want to be treated.

Maybe, instead of focusing on what divides everyone we could focus on what brings everyone together. Where focus goes, energy flows. We all want a cure for cancer, we all want world peace, we all want clean oceans and a healthy planet. We all want our rights reserved- life, liberty and justice. What are we going to do about it?

As excited as I am to call myself a survivor… an OVERCOMER, I am also saddened. Some of my friends that started chemotherapy before me are still there, receiving their treatments… and they will be there until the end. Sadly, some of them are already starting to dwindle away…. and it breaks my heart.

With that said, like I’ve said before, I feel like my diagnosis was given to me for a reason and that reason is to support and help others on their journey, whatever it may be: health and wellness or cancer. I have a new perspective on life and as an Enneagram Type 7, I am beyond ready for this next chapter in my life. It’s time to start making connections, reaching out to others and using my past experiences and knowledge to help others.

Type 7: We have named this personality type The Enthusiast because Sevens are enthusiastic about almost everything that catches their attention. They approach life with curiosity, optimism, and a sense of adventure, like “kids in a candy store” who look at the world in wide-eyed, rapt anticipation of all the good things they are about to experience. They are bold and vivacious, pursuing what they want in life with a cheerful determination. -The Enneagram Institute

I don’t have a cure for cancer, I’m not a saint and I’m far from perfect, but this, besides plogging, is what I can do to make the world a little better place. I ask you to reflect on what is important to a world united and how you can make a positive impact.

We all have something special that only we can offer the world and our community.

  • Do Good.
  • Be Kind.
  • Make A Positive Impact

Stay tuned for more details as I start this new chapter of my life and we begin planning our trip to Peru courtesy of the B the Light Foundation.

Choose Happy

I’m going to start with, “Sorry, Not Sorry.” My previous blog post was titled “Happy Dance” and man, oh, man was I so happy. Well, truth is that I may have celebrated a little prematurely. Last week my labs dipped down and I don’t know what changed. I was so frustrated. Not only that but the menopause crap was coming in HOT, (ha! get it, hot?) Seriously folks, menopause is not fun and I will have the luxury to go through it twice. Once now, with chemotherapy and then again when I become of age… anyone else jealous? If you were curious what other symptoms come with menopause here is the list that I’ve been experiencing. Trust me, it’s a great list:

  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Hot flashes.
  • Chills.
  • Night sweats.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Mood changes.
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism.

Anyhow, like I said, last week my labs dropped and I was so disappointed, frustrated and just plain old annoyed. So what did I do? I had a mini pity party for myself. Sorry, Not Sorry! So dumb. I let Barb do most of the talking last week and it was awful. I didn’t work out, I didn’t drink near as much water, and I hardly slept. It’s ok to have bad days, so long as we use them to remind ourselves that the days that may not seem so good aren’t so bad, or makes the good days even better. What matters is how you go forward.

Thankfully I had the girl gang (aka the Wolf Pack) that got me out of the house and a trip to Duluth over the weekend to occupy my mind. I also made my children wear shirts that said, choose joy. I wanted the reminder that I am responsible for my happiness. I CHOOSE HAPPY!

Today, I went into my 11th round of Taxol with a better feeling. I was putting the right foot forward and reminding the universe that:

  • I am an overcomer
  • I am healthy and insanely fit
  • I am cancer free

Obviously, I’m not there yet, but I will be. Those are three of the ten dreams I write down everyday in my Start Today Journal. So with my intentions set, I will act the way I want to feel. I am manifesting wellness. I will get back on the horse and drink the stupid water, move my body for 30 days and take ALL of my supplements. Why? BECAUSE IT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER. So why did I not make it a daily priority or get lackadaisical? Well, because friends, I was bummed out! If you didn’t know this, I am not perfect. I too struggle with the roller coaster I am on- life. It happens, we have no control, we just have to remember that God has bigger plans for us. He wants us to learn from our experiences. God doesn’t give us what we can handle. He helps us handle what we have been given.

Besides being grateful for my Wolf Pack, I am also so thankful for my dear friend, Andrea. We are always touching base with each other to see how the other is doing. We have sooo much in common. Same type of cancer, same amount and gender of children, same marriage situation (married to farmers) and same craving for laughter and friendship. Much of our conversations are about the kids, our sanity during quarantine and our symptoms, but specifically our gas. (Hold tight, you are about to get a laugh of a lifetime, at least I did when I read her message she just sent me.)

Our flowers from B the Light

So, it’s like Andrea even knew that I am a lover of random, fun facts. Here we go. Get ready to laugh. Andrea and I have been sooooo gassy. Not only are we gassy, but our smell is something special. It’s the amazing Taxol Toots. Ok, so fun fact, like most mammals, blue whales fart. Unlike most mammals, their fart bubbles are so big that you could fit an entire horse in them. There, that’s a thing. Now you know. That’s what she sent me. If you were in our shoes and knew all the things we have shared about our bad gas you would be rolling on the floor laughing. No matter your age, you can always laugh about a fart, a toot or better yet, the trots. Oh Andrea, I am so grateful for you.

So with refocused mindset, here is to a new week, with new adventures and positive attitudes.

Shout out to my amazing support group! Ashlee Suker, Michaela Sheesley, Sarah Wenisch, my family, my friends… my Wolf Pack. You are so amazing and I am going to say it again, I am so grateful for you all every. single. day.

Tomorrow’s gratitude list:

  • Flowers from B the Light
  • New friends (We had two new people join us today. “Scared” and “Nervous” were their descriptions when I asked how they were doing. I may have found an area I want to play a bigger part of. When I am done with my cancer journey, how can I help others with theirs? God always has a plan. Let Go and Let God)
  • GIFYs
  • Mindset refocusing and Perspective changes
  • Quiet nights
  • 1 TREATMENT LEFT!!!!!!!

Love and Air Hugs!

Sara

Happy Dance

You guys, I am so stinking excited! Almost all of my labs are back in normal range. YES, even my white blood cell count! Is it the fact that my body is listening to my subconscious (you are almost done)? Is my body simply just getting stronger? Is it my immunity green juice? Is it my supplements? Is it the prayers and good vibes? I think it’s a combination of all of it, so I owe a thank you to you, the prayer warriors and those sending the positive vibes <3. THANK YOU!

ARMPIT HAIR!!!!!!!

Not only are my laboratory tests more normal, but I am also growing hair… on my head, my legs, my pits and nether region. All in time for beach season 🙂 Seriously, who knew I’d be so excited to start shaving again?

So many things to be grateful for today and everyday- friendships, family, lab tests, B the Light– making my dream a reality, conferences, hair and I am almost done climbing this mountain! Can you believe it? I only have 3 Taxol treatments left before I can call myself an OVERCOMER, a SURVIVOR!

This past weekend, I attended the RISExLIVE conference presented by the Hollis Company with some amazing speakers: Rachel and Dave Hollis, Brit Barron, Ed Mylett, John C. Maxwell, Eric Thomas, Jen Hatmaker and Donald Miller.

John C. Maxwell mentioned that life isn’t perfect, we sometimes have to take the detours and that’s OK. We just need to remember that when we are given lemons, we CAN make lemonade.

Donald Miller compared life to a story, are you the victim, the villain, the hero or the guide? It’s ok to play the victim for a short while, but you should never play the villain. True leaders want to be the guide in our story, but you can’t become the guide without courage to play the hero.

Dave talked about confidence and identity and how it all starts with understanding the “if/then” relationship with our personal values. Are we limiting ourselves because of the beliefs we have that question our ability to fully live into our identity?

Ed Mylett reminded us that EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR YOU, NOT TO YOU! We just need to re-frame the story we are telling ourselves. The quality of our life = The quality of our emotions.

Brit Barron talked about moving through fear to find courage and that it’s ok to have certainty about a dream in an uncertain time.. She reminded us that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., almost didn’t include the “I have a dream…” to his speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Someone behind him whispered, “tell them about your dream.”

Eric Thomas reminded us that we need to continue with enthusiasm and patience. “Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision.” I CAN. I WILL. I MUST.

Jen Hatmaker shared her thoughts on being a courageous parent. Brave moms, raise brave kids. She also reminded us that we shouldn’t be worrying about whether or not we are doing it right, the fact that we are worried about it means we are doing just fine.

Rachel talked about mindset, perspective, resilience, consistency, habits and leadership. We were built on the shoulders of giants. We are warriors- we train every day so we are strong enough to take on battles. We expect to get our butt’s kicked. We learn from our previous battles and learn to strengthen our weaknesses. Those are the keys to resilience and becoming a good leader.

MIND BLOWN….RIGHT?!?! I could go on and on and on. The reason I’m sharing this with you is because it’s this right here…. it’s practicing self development that makes me the person I am today. In my last blog I told you that God had me preparing myself for this cancer journey all along. God pointed me in the direction of self development and I became obsessed- how can I be a better version of myself? It was through conferences, books, supporting great causes (like B the Light) and my diagnosis that I found my answers. Like Ed Mylett said, “Life is happening for you, not to you.”

Pay it forward. Have courage. Go into battle. Learn. Have a positive mindset. Support others. Give when you can. Practice gratitude. Move your body-change your mind. Strive to become the guide, the leader…. and so much more.

Thank you God, for pointing me in this direction to give me the strength and courage to climb this mountain called cancer.

Thank you all, for your support, prayers and kind words to keep me fueled and full of fire. I couldn’t do it without you. It is with your help that in just 3 weeks, I will be an OVERCOMER!

Love and Hugs to each and everyone of you.

Sara

Dreams Do Come True

Grandma Larsen was always willing to help those in need- food, money, gas, you name it. I may not have the means to give as much as she could, but I do aspire to show my support whenever I can, whether its supporting a small business, attending an event or buying a t-shirt.

What if the shoe was on the other foot?

In 2018, I was on the Sleepy Eye Medical Center gala planning committee to raise funds for our 3D Mammography software. My job is all about enhancing the patient experience and after hearing about the anxiety a patient went through when they heard, “additional imaging is required,” I was ready to do my part to help plan the event so that SEMC could provide start of the art imaging services for breast cancer detection.

In October 2019, to support a great cause and a dear friend, I attended the B the Light Gala. It was a phenomenal event held “to give hope to breast cancer survivors.” I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room when we heard the story of Aunt B., and learned why this foundation means so much to Amber, also a breast cancer survivor.

The Cancer Tumor

Well, you guessed it and if you’ve been following my blog, the shoe has been on the other foot since November of 2019, when my family and I received the diagnosis of breast cancer. (Now that I’m typing this all out for you, I’m realizing it was meant to be. God was preparing me for this breast cancer journey all along.)

Ok, long story short, I have been following B the Light on Facebook since attending their gala and when I saw they were taking applications for their HOPE Getaways, I knew I had to apply. Part of the application process was to write an essay of 500 words or less. Here is my essay:

Hello, my name is Sara Schultz. I am a daughter, wife, mother, friend, co-worker, goal getter and breast cancer warrior. I was diagnosed on November 14th with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma at the age of 31. At that point in time, I felt robbed. My life as I knew it was about to change- how would my children, Samuel (3) and Rowyn (1) cope?  Will my husband still think I’m beautiful? What about all of my hopes and dreams?

Thankfully, I had an amazing doctor to guide me in times when I needed her most. I may have only sent her a few short texts, but she was always quick to respond. One day I told her I felt like I had been robbed- I spent most of my time worrying, stressing and waiting. I wasn’t doing things I enjoyed anymore, like running or training for an upcoming triathlon, marathon or climb (remember, I told you I’m a goal getter.)  Dr. Jordan responded to me with this, “Cancer robs you of control over your life and body. But it also teaches us that we never really had control in the first place. It’s humbling and empowering at the same time.”

It was at that point in time that I decided that breast cancer wasn’t going to control my life, it was going to transform me into a better version of myself, and it has.

Sure, I put much of my dreams on hold, like climbing Rainbow Mountain, but right now I’m climbing a different mountain, cancer. Cancer definitely sucks, but it makes the positive things in my life shine so much brighter. Thank you, cancer. There is a saying, good things come to those who wait, and in this case, I think it does. Had I taken the trip to Rainbow Mountain before my diagnosis it would have just been something to cross off my bucket list, now it would mean so much more. It would mean I am an overcomer.

I can imagine myself there, on top of Rainbow Mountain, I have tears streaming down my face as I take in the unbelievable beauty that this mountain has to hold. I am completely still, calm and overflowing with gratitude.

Receiving a HOPE Getaway Award would mean so much to me. My husband and I actually looked into flying to Peru and embarking on a 1 to 3 day hike up Rainbow Mountain, sadly it just didn’t fit our budget. Now we joke about it and say, “if it wasn’t for this diagnosis we could have climbed Rainbow Mountain twice!” Climbing Rainbow Mountain will continue to be a dream of mine, but with your help and generous consideration you could make my dream a reality. I could be an overcomer.

If you are curious as to whether or not I was awarded the opportunity to climb Rainbow Mountain, check out this amazing video made by Amber from B the Light.

My dream is coming true and I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity!

Folks, God has a plan for all of us, we just need to remember: Let go and Let God. He was preparing me for this diagnosis the whole time: attend Rise, practice self development, raise funds for 3D mammography and support a friend with a great cause.

Now in closing, I ask you to do the same. Help a friend, buy a shirt, make a donation.

Another Year Older

The start of the pout.

For those of you who know our daughter, Rowyn, you know she is the best pouter. She exaggerates all the characteristics of a pout. She stops what she is doing, stares at you and frowns. She puts her head down (unless there is a table near by, then she rests her head on her arm) so her cheeks sag forward and then she will check to see if you are looking at her. If you are looking or not she will “hmmph” with a big shoulder slump to make sure she has your attention.

Anyhow, I may have just figured out where Rowyn may have learned to pout so well. You guys, I’m 32 years old, “hmmph”.

But… I am 32 years old!! This past year was rough, but it was also amazing:

  • I ran a marathon
  • We went to Seattle to visit Zac and Christa
  • I traveled to Texas with Mikayla to attend RISE
  • I had a Tiny House adventure with some girlfriends
  • We went to the Atwater Threshing Show with the family
  • I drank wine at Chanksa Winery with some of the Larsen crew
  • We sent Samuel off to preschool
  • We transitioned Rowyn into a big girl bed and successfully potty trained her.
  • I attended the B The Light Gala
  • I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
  • I had a double mastectomy.
  • Our marriage and family bonds grew stronger

Not only did all that happen, but I also grew- developmentally and spiritually. Definitely a year to remember.

I was telling my dear friend, Andrea that cancer definitely sucks, but it brought us together and that it is really turning me into a better person- I live with more intention, I have goals and dreams, and I am definitely more grateful. Oddly, 1- Thank you, Cancer. Obviously 2- Thank you, God for preparing me for this diagnosis by guiding me to grow. I don’t know where I would have been had I not learned about courage, being my true self, the importance of prayer, empowerment, friendships, gratitude and wellness: physical, social, mental and spiritual. All things I learned and started practicing after I read Rachel Hollis, Brene Brown and other authors of self development books.

Last year when I turned 31 I had 4 goals for the year:

  1. Enjoy the little things
  2. Stress less about the messes or things I cannot change
  3. Be present
  4. Start each day being grateful for what I have

Upon review and some reflection I’d say I did pretty darn good. I spent more time practicing self-development and growth which helped me reach some of those goals. Sure I still stressed about things I couldn’t change, but honestly, who wouldn’t have stressed after hearing they have breast cancer? Thankfully my surgeon gave me a different perspective on it and I was able to grow and learn from my diagnosis too.

Now for my 32nd trip around the sun I have new goals:

  1. Start each day with Gratitude and Meditation- prayer, goal orientation and self development
  2. Celebrate all the wins, big and small
  3. Be an exceptional wife, mother and friend
  4. Embrace all chaos and choose joy
  5. Finish chemotherapy and officially become an OVERCOMER (only 5 rounds of Taxol left!)
  6. Gain new perspectives and live intentionally.

Here’s to a year of continued growth, development, overcoming and goal crushing!

Mindset

To change our reality and heal our bodies the secret ingredient lies in making up our mind to do so. We have the ability to fully recover and change our external circumstances exactly like those patients who are told they would never walk again yet do so, sport stars who suffer from irreversible injuries yet fully recover, or those who have suffered a life-threatening cancer and a few months later it is no where to be found. They understand the secret is having a powerful intention, believing they have the power to change their circumstances, loads of determination and the will to create what they want in life. -Inc.

I am firm believer in the power of mindset. I mean look at the placebo effect. Our minds have power, we just need to use it to our advantage.

My mindset, my attitude and my perseverance are what keep me going. Yes, I am ready to be done with chemotherapy and put this whole cancer nightmare behind me, but this diagnosis really has turned me into a better version of myself. I know I say that a lot, but I mean it. I am more grateful, more persistent, more positive, more faith-filled… just to list a few.

I posted on Facebook and Instagram recently that so many of the experts talk about excuses, the power of habits and mindset. It is so important that we start each day with the right attitude. I start my day with gratitude and writing down my goals. This is what starts the snowball effect. I write down everyday that I am an exceptional wife-mom-friend. I write down everyday that I am insanely fit. I write down everyday that I climbed Rainbow Mountain. I write down everyday that I am Cancer FREE! These goals are something I need to work toward everyday. So, if I want to be an exceptional wife-mom-friend, I need to show up 100%. If I want to be cancer free, I need to keep pushing forward with my chemotherapy and my quarterly skin checks. If I want to be insanely fit- I need to move my body everyday. Yes, even on treatment days. Have I climbed Rainbow Mountain- NOT YET, but I WILL… I mean, come on, I’m an OVERCOMER!

If you can’t tell in my writing tone, I am happy. My labs did something they haven’t done in four weeks. They went up! My White Blood Cells went up to 3.3! My Hemoglobin went up to 12.1! WHAT? HOW? Well, besides your prayers, adding some additional supplements, drinking 80 ounces of water and moving my body for 30 minutes I also focused on my mindset. That my friends made the difference. I am choosing to feel well, I am manifesting wellness. Therefore, I will be well.

PLUS…. I’m half done with the Dirty Dozen!

Sara, how can you talk about your mindset, when just last week you shared that you cried. Yes, last week I cried, but you know what, I’m human too. We can’t be 100% all the time, we can try, but to get back to where you want to be, you need to acknowledge your feelings, emotions, your frustrations. Crying is a great coping mechanism. It’s an emotional release that can be beneficial to your mental health. I acknowledged my feelings, I let it all out and in doing so I felt better and could refocus on my mindset.

I encourage you to take a step back and focus on your mindset. What do you want out of life? How do you want to face life? I promise you, if you start focusing on your mindset you will see an improvement in your attitude and your outlook on life.

Before I leave you, I have a huge favor to ask. There is a sweet little boy, Lennon, who was recently diagnosed with B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He also has an unfavorable gene mutation called KMT2A and the leukemia is in his brain and spinal fluid. He has a long road ahead of him and his family could really use your help, if you have a spare dollar, I ask that you please consider helping this sweet boy and his family during this time: Lennon’s GoFundMe

Love and Hugs,

Sara

Toots and Giggles

Good morning, my friends!

It’s been a week since I talked to you last, so I felt you deserved an update. I’m going to keep it short and sweet.

I completed my 5th round of Taxol, aka the Dirty Dozen. Only 7 left! Thank goodness, because my mental psyche is ready for a break. I’m feeling fine with the exception of feeling tired, subconsciously dealing with anxiety and loneliness, and extra tootiness. I’ve been drinking 80 ounces of water, moving my body for 30 minutes, taking all my supplements and practicing gratitude… EVERYDAY. I was hoping that everything I was doing was going to help improve my counts, but my white blood cell count dropped again, along with my hemoglobin and platelet count. Not only was I upset about my counts, but I am missing my friends, my family, seeing people smile and giving hugs.

Yesterday I broke down and cried. Thank you mom, for calling and allowing me cry. Thank you mamma Schultz, for taking the kiddos so I could rest.

Not only did I rest, but I did what helps me mentally get back on track: I moved my body for 30 minutes, I read a chapter in my book written by John C. Maxwell, took a bath and reviewed my Joy List. (If you need help with your Joy List, visit Quibi, download their free 90 day trial and watch Rachel Hollis explain Joy and Happiness. Be sure to do the homework at the end: Make a Joy List, Make a Gratitude List, etc.)

Ok, now get ready to giggle.

When I started chemo, my friend, Christa asked me if I noticed being more gassy and if I did, did my toots smell different. With my Red Devil regimen, I didn’t notice anything, but low and behold, Taxol has done it. I kid you not. Fridays after treatment, I start developing stomach aches and gas, lookout! Thankfully, Samuel and Rowyn think it’s funny that mommy has the toots. What is it with kids and tooting? Dad on the other hand always says, “girls don’t toot!” This might be too much information, but the toots, smell like chemo. What does chemo smell like? Well, it has it’s own odor and I honestly don’t know how to describe it other than I think it smells like chemo- a mixture of hospital and medication.

So, if you have seen me out for a walk on Fridays and I occasionally look more light on my feet, I probably just tooted he-he!

On a serious note, I just want to ask, what are you doing do take care of yourself during this time of the Stay at Home Order? If you need someone just to listen, I’m here. If you need someone to make you giggle, I am here. If you need someone to give you some healthy ideas, I am here. Hang in there, we can do this!

Take care my friends,

Sara

xoxo

I’ll Show You Mine, If….

It was about a week ago when my dear friend, Andrea texted me, “Can I see your boobs?” I immediately, said “sure! I’ll even let you feel them!”

To you that might sound outrageous, but if you were in our shoes, it’s totally the norm. I don’t see Andrea every day, nor do we talk to each other every day, but we have a bond that connects us and makes us a good pair. Thank you, Cancer for bringing her into my life. Andrea is on a different journey than me. She is having chemotherapy first and then her mastectomy. So I totally understand where she is coming from with all of the questions, because I had the same ones. What is the process, what will they look like, will I still have my nipple, what about feeling….so many questions!? Thankfully, I had Chiloe, Sarah and Dr. Jordan to go to with all of my questions, but now it’s my turn to pay it forward and help another breast cancer warrior. So yes, I showed Andrea my breasts today and yes, I did allow her to feel them. (John’s face was priceless!)

This is going to sound crazy to you too, but I look forward to my treatment days! (I only have 8 left!) I miss my friends and my work family like crazy, but on Wednesdays I get to see an amazing group of nurses and other cancer patients- my other friends. It has been so fun getting to know each and every one of them and it is so nice to have face to face interactions with other people, even though we have to wear masks.

Just finished a 5k

Anyhow, I feel like I can’t write a blog post without mentioning COVID-19 and how much it has impacted my life. My white count dropped again today, thankfully only by .1, but it still means I need to make sure me and my family are limiting any unnecessary exposure… and now with confirmed cases in Brown County it means we really need to be even more careful. Besides limiting our contact, I am trying to work from home, be an exceptional wife and mother, take time for myself and mental health, and be present and patient. It’s a short but tough list some days.

With potty training behind us, we are now able to find our new routine, our rhythm. It wasn’t only bothering my children, but it was also bothering me. It was stressing me out. How am I supposed to get any work done and still be a present parent? Well, I decided to get myself a new routine: I wake up earlier to get a couple hours of work in, I work during quiet time and then again after the kids are in bed. Once the kids are up I work on my gratitude list and spend 40 minutes getting my workout in. As for the kids: they have breakfast, play time with daddy, walk or ride to get the mail, play outside, lunch, quiet time, play time, snack, learning time, supper time, snuggle time, bed. They are happier and I am happier.

On a quick note, thank you Ashlee, we now have a family gratitude list to fill out on a daily basis! Hopefully that means Rowyn will now leave my Start Today Journal alone, although I do appreciate her enthusiasm for wanting to be like mommy. (It is so important to instill those good habits in our children- move your body, practice daily gratitude and much, much more.) A couple things I’ve been thankful for lately: I am so grateful for our extra time together as a family <3. (Even though they take turns tormenting each other. Even though the require me to be on my toes at all times. Even though they have temper tantrums. Even though they wear me out.) I am grateful for the reminder from my children that they don’t require anything expensive or extravagant to bring them joy- it’s the attention and extra time spent together.

With that said, Tyler is getting ready to get in the field and the kiddos could not be more excited. I’m not sure who likes farming more… Rowyn, Samuel or Tyler? Rowyn is all about being outside exploring and looking at farm equipment. Samuel can name almost every piece of equipment and what it is for and well Tyler, he’s our specialist! He gets to answer all the questions, “… right daddy?” “…What is that daddy?” “Can I get a ride?” It makes my heart so happy to watch the kids with Tyler. We are definitely a farming family and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Well my friends, I’m going to leave you with a few takeaways:

  1. Pay it forward when you can
  2. Keep a routine
  3. Practice gratitude
  4. Be patient
  5. Embrace the chaos
  6. Stay in touch, but ensure social distancing
  7. Prayers are appreciated for my friends down in the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute (NUMC) and for my sister-in-law, Ashlee.

Love and hugs,

Sara

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