Cancerversary #3

I realized as my third year of being a Cancer Survivor came up today, March 11th, that I had only posted once since last year. That is a good thing though…because I have had nothing significant to report on my cancer journey for the last year! ūüôā

That is not to say that I haven’t been paying attention to my health. I must have felt like I needed something “medical” to focus on because I decided to try a program to help my scoliosis. My back pain was getting progressively worse and I finally had enough. I’ve searched (unsuccessfully) for years for something to help scoliosis. My Aunt Marsha came across an article about the Schroth Method and I decided to look into it. So as if my life wasn’t busy enough, under the direction of a Scoliosis Systems Doctor, I added daily specific Schroth exercises (40-50 min.) and wearing a soft brace (SpineCor Brace) for 4 hours a day. It has been difficult to add this to my daily/weekly routine but it is already paying off! I will update more later but in just 3-1/2 months, my Lumbar Curve improved by 7 degrees and Thoracic Curve improved by 8 degrees! That is very significant especially for an adult. Also, my back pain is almost completely gone since starting this program. ¬†Yay!

It has overall been a busy but good year for our family: ¬†Diana’s U of O Graduation, Embry started Kindergarten, Holidays and fun activities together, a Girl’s Trip and lots of snow days (too many in my opinion). ¬†Just feeling blessed and grateful for another great year!

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Race for the Cure 2016

This morning I attended the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure with my friend and co-survivor, Heidi.  We had a great time celebrating 2 years as survivors and enjoyed the fun 5K brisk walk through downtown.

The best part was when a woman stopped us (in our survivor shirts) and because we looked “young” wanted to let us know that she was diagnosed at age 20. ¬†She is now 65 years old and looks amazing! ¬†It gave us both a lot of hope meeting a 45 year survivor!

It was a really well-run event for a great cause. ¬†We will definitely race (“walk”) again next year. ūüôā

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Cancerversary 2

I recently passed another milestone…Cancerversary #2! ¬†It has been 2 years since my diagnosis.

All of my check-ups over the last couple of months have been great (Oncologist, Breast Surgeon, Endocrinologist, Dermatologist, Internist). ¬†I’ve had some lymphodema in my neck (from the 20 lymph nodes that were removed during the thyroidectomy). ¬† But I worked with my Physical Therapist for several weeks and she taught me how to do the simple daily lymph drainage massage on my neck. ¬†Another task to add to my list but really not difficult. ¬†The only health issue I have had lately is that I caught a nasty virus from the kids that lasted 4 weeks! ¬†(Flu-like symptoms, horrible cough, hives, cold symptoms). ¬†It completely threw off my exercise routine of course but I’m finally getting back to that. ¬†All four of us were sick so I know it wasn’t a compromised immune system on my part. ¬†Before the virus hit though, I was feeling great.

In February, we were able to go to Maui and celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary!  On our anniversary, we went to the exact place where we were married and had dinner and enjoyed a beautiful sunset (photos attached).  It was so nice to have that time in Maui to relax and unwind.

I continue to be grateful for each day with my family and am blessed for the strength I do have. ¬†It’s always a little awkward to explain my wellness journey to new people I meet, but I stand by what I have said many times: ¬†I’m actually grateful for the “positives” that have come out of my cancer diagnoses. ¬†I’ve been happier in the last two years then I was the two years before my diagnosis. ¬†My relationship with my husband is better than ever, many of my OCD tendencies are gone, and I truly understand the messages of “stop and smell the roses” and “enjoy the moment”.

Someone recently asked me if the doctors gave me an idea of when or if either cancer will return. ¬†My doctors do not try to “guess” that and I don’t ask. ¬†I figure, “no one knows how long they will be on this earth”…hence the reason we should live in the present moment. ¬†The doctors do say however, they see no reason why I couldn’t expect to live a very long (even normal) life span.

I’m staying strong and remaining POSITIVE. ¬†I exercise regularly (when I’m not sick), eat cleanly, and try to get enough sleep and relax (a little hard to do with a 4 and 5 year old but I manage). ūüôā

I hope you all are well and enjoying Spring!

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Goodbye to a Wonderful 2015

I can easily say 2015 was a great year! ¬†Not only did I not have any surgeries or procedures in 2015, but we had a wonderful year as a family…just enjoying life together.

During the last three months of 2015, I had my bi-annual¬†check-ups, scans, and blood work. ¬†Everything came back great…still cancer-free! ¬†I did tweak my back at some point so was unable to do my normal¬†exercise routine for about 6 weeks. ¬†Thank goodness for a good Physical Therapist…my back and neck are decent for now and I’m getting back into my regular exercise.

During 2015, we had a couple camping trips, took the kids to Disneyland for the first time, took 2 small trips to Seattle, I got two Girl’s Trips (1 to Vegas and 1 to Arizona), I visited Kim in Virginia, and Jer went to Boston with his Mom. ¬†We had many days with fun events as well (I took Embry to The Little Mermaid Play and to her first¬†Nutcracker Ballet). ¬†Beckett started PreSchool in the Fall (just 2 half days a week) at the same school where Embry is now in Pre-K. ¬†Overall, we continued to keep the attitude of, “Seize the Day”. ¬†We are enjoying the kids at these ages and having lots of fun. ¬†We had a wonderful Christmas too!

I wish you all a Happy 2016 and hope this coming year is just as wonderful!DSC_0225 DSC_0284 DSC_0734 - Version 2 DSC_0786 DSC00672 DSC00690 DSC00697  IMG_0507 IMG_0683 IMG_0688december_0420-3

Self-Exam & Happy Fall

Happy October!  Happy Fall!

I just wanted to take the opportunity since it is October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) to remind everyone (women and at-risk-men) to do a self-exam! ¬†I found my breast cancer on my own and it was early…so it does help to do a self-exam!

Now on to a fun update…Happy Fall! ¬†I love Fall (pumpkin spice, changing leaves, cooler air, pumpkin patches, kids in cute costumes…). ¬†We took the kids to a Pumpkin Patch yesterday and they had a great time. ¬†Here are some¬†photos.

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Exercise & A Good “Normal”

I haven’t posted in awhile because life has been good. ¬†Health wise all my check-ups continue to come back great. ¬†And the side effects I was experiencing from my medications has improved. ¬†My calcium and iron levels still get low easily (causing “foggy memory”, tingling in my hands, and fatigue) but supplements help with that.

Several months ago¬†we joined a Gym. ¬†For the first time in my life…I am ENJOYING working out. ¬†I worked with a trainer once a week or every other week for the first few¬†months and that helped so much. ¬†I have worked up to exercising at least 5 days a week. ¬†With my scoliosis, I have always felt rather “weak”. ¬†To top that off, after a year of surgeries, I was pretty frail. ¬†My trainer was so awesome to help me build up slowly. ¬†As my workouts are getting more and more intense, I have to say I am pretty¬†proud of myself. ¬†I have worked past most of my “embarrassment” ¬†in a weight room and can see muscles building especially in my arms. ¬†After two c-sections only¬†15 months a part, progressive scoliosis, two cancers, and a year of surgeries – I am probably the strongest now I’ve been maybe in my life. ¬†And for that I am grateful!

We’ve had a lot of fun this year too. ¬†Disneyland, two camping Trips, and a quick Trip to Seattle. ¬†Overall, life is good. ¬†2015 has been a great year so far…I often say it’s “life as normal”…but I actually think it is better than my previous “normal”. ¬†Our jobs are good, exercise feels great, I worry less about small things and have more fun each day, and we are¬†really enjoying the kiddos (Ages 3 & 4 has been great)!

 

 

Cancerversary – 1 Year

March 11th…Unfortunately I won’t be able to forget that date. ¬†Today is my “cancerversary”. ¬†Apparently, according to the internet, that is an actual term now. ūüôā ¬†One year ago today I received the phone call with my first cancer diagnosis. ¬†In some ways, the year flew by…in others it was a long road. ¬†I spent this morning with my husband and kiddos; we went to a fun Jump House indoor play place for the kids, then to lunch. ¬†Just grateful for the calm we have in our lives right now.

I am doing well. ¬†Most of my scars are healed and for the most part I am back to normal. ¬†I think my only “complaints” are all the side effects from the drugs: sore joints every day (most likely from Tamoxifen), temperature inconsistencies (thyroid), extreme exhaustion, irritability, and a list of other things I just won’t go into. ¬†I’ve had several follow-ups recently (Thyroid Surgeon, Breast Surgeon, Plastic Surgeon, and Internal Med PCP), all appointments went well…everything looks good. ¬†Later this month I meet with my Oncologist and then my Endocrinologist next month.

The kids are doing well. ¬†Embry loves PreSchool and entertaining us with her many animated songs and dances. ¬†Beckett amazes us with his vocabulary and comprehension for not even being 3 years old yet. ¬†Unfortunately he has also given us some scares…3 head injuries in a two week time. ¬†1) Missed kicking a ball and well down backwards on aggregate concrete. 2) Fell off a playground structure face first 3) Slipped in a dry bathtub while playing and chipped his two front top teeth. ¬†Luckily, no ER visits…just a Dentist visit out of all that. ¬†The kids definitely keep life interesting and keep us always on the move!

On this 1 year cancerversary…I want to say “Thank You” again to everyone who sent cards, packages, gifts, messages, dropped off food, watched the kids, or just sent positive thoughts and prayers over the last year. ¬†Even though I didn’t have time to send Thank You cards to all of you…please know that I am so grateful for all of you and think of your kindness often. ¬†The last year was possible because of all your support!

Cancer Treatments DONE for Foreseeable Future

I hope you all had a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! ¬†I did not get around to sending out Christmas Cards but hope you will all give me a “pass” this year. ūüôā¬†We had a wonderful December and Christmas! ¬†It started with me finding out my voice returned so no surgery for February 2015. ¬†Next, I met with the Genetics team again and learned a little more about my CHEK-2 Gene Mutation. ¬†My specific mutation does NOT have an increased risk for Colon Cancer (Yay! ¬†Means I do not have to repeat a Colonoscopy every 2 years!). ¬†My risks are for breast, thyroid, kidney and skin (melanoma). ¬†My doctor will do a urinalysis every year to check for kidney cancer (just got checked and it was negative) and I will faithfully have my annual skin check (just recently cleared that). ¬†Also, this mutation means I do NOT have Cowden’s Syndrome. ¬†With this recent information, my geneticist and oncologist agree I do NOT have an increased risk for uterine cancer now. ¬†So, the hysterectomy planned for January 2015 is being cancelled.

So basically this means…I am DONE with surgeries and cancer treatments for the foreseeable future!! ¬†I will have follow-up appointments with my thyroid surgeon and breast surgeon every 6 months. ¬†Also will be seeing my Endocrinologist on a regular basis. ¬†I will continue to take tamoxifen once a day (to reduce estrogen which therefore reduces risk of recurrence breast cancer). ¬†And I will take a thyroid hormone replacement every day of course. ¬†Other than monitoring those medications and having annual and semiannual check-ups…I’m clear!! ¬†It was a crazy ride for 9 months but thankfully ¬†it appears I am done (aside from maintenance and monitoring). ¬†And I’m SO grateful that all of my outcomes (from surgeries, etc.) have been as good as is possible.

My strength is coming back (aside from some mild flu and colds that have been going around our house). ¬†I am working to get back on track with eating “clean” (little to no sugar and gluten) and exercising on a regular basis. ¬†Otherwise, we are ENJOYING life!

One place to visit that has been on my MUST VISIT¬†list for many years is Leavenworth, WA during December. ¬†It has been voted one of the “Most Christmas Towns in the US”. ¬†Earlier this month, we took the kids and drove the 5 hours to Leavenworth. ¬†We were able to break-up the drive for the kids and stay one night in Yakima to visit with family friends. ¬†Then on to Leavenworth. ¬†I have to say that this town during Christmas is….magical! ¬†It is a fully Bavarian town at the base of beautiful mountain scenery. ¬†The owners of our hotel were so hospitable (dressed in authentic Bavarian dress, spoke some German, and served us breakfast including German meats & Cheeses and Hot Pretzels). ¬†They loved the kids and brought them hot cocoa and treats. ¬†They loaned us sleds and Embry had a blast going down the sledding hill in the town square. ¬†We enjoyed the quaint shops, some good food, beautiful lights covering the whole town, seeing Santa, and taking a carriage ride. ¬†It was a wonderful trip!

We have had a relaxing Holiday Season (aside from the turmoil going on in this country against Police). ¬†It does affect Jeremy and me but we try to turn off the horribly-biased news and focus on enjoying each day that we are given. ¬†It has definitely increased our concern for the safety of his profession but as we have learned to do this past year…we have to focus on things we can control and finding the bright side of each day. ¬†We are excited for 2015 to be a great year! ¬†As always, thank you for your continued love, support, and prayers!

Leavenworth, WA (December 2014):

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From our family to yours…we hope you make¬†lots of¬†SUNSHINE in 2015!! ¬†Happy New Year!

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Proof that “There is Always Hope”

In late August when the Vocal Specialist told me that my paralyzed vocal nerve had about a 0% chance of regenerating on its own, I was prepared to have a vocal implant surgery in February 2015. ¬†I wasn’t excited about adding another surgery to my list but had accepted it.

On Friday I met with the Vocal Specialist for an exam. ¬†It was confirmed….my vocal nerve is no longer paralyzed!

I had noticed in the last 3 weeks that my voice sounded normal and I could sing on tune again. ¬†I tried not to get my hopes too high until my appointment. ¬†When the doctors told me on Friday that it had regenerated…I couldn’t stop smiling!!

Thank you for all that hoped and prayed for my voice to come back or for me to have less surgeries.  It is proof that even a predicted 0% chance still holds HOPE!

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Good News & More Good News

After the Radioactive Iodine (RAI) Treatment, I had a full body scan (head to toe) by the Nuclear Med Team.

GOOD NEWS:  There were no thyroid cancer cells anywhere in my body except a few in my central neck.  Some residual in my neck was to be expected.  I will be scanned again at 6 months and then a year if needed and the doctor expects that those few cells in my central neck will have died by then.

Shortly after my RAI treatment I got a call from the Genetics Team. ¬†They did find I have a mutation in my CHEK2 gene. ¬†This mutation gives me a 2 fold risk of breast cancer with additional risk of colon and thyroid cancers. ¬†Less common are risks for melanoma and ovarian. ¬†My Oncologist has not taken the Cowden’s Syndrome off my record yet but I’m hoping this mutation means I do not have Cowden’s (CHEK2 mutation would be the lesser of the two evils I guess). ¬†The good news is I’ve covered almost all of my bases before knowing I had this specific mutation (bilateral mastectomy, thyroidectomy, RAI, cleared annual dermatology check-up recently, and had already scheduled a colonoscopy).

MORE GOOD NEWS: ¬†The results of my colonoscopy today….everything looks normal…not even a single polyp! ¬†Yay! ¬†(I’m still feeling nauseas from the procedure today but otherwise doing well).

On another note: We had a cold but clear day after Halloween so we took the kids to Multnomah Falls for the first time.  They enjoyed seeing the waterfall up close!

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