Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Friday December 17th I go back in for another PET scan.

The last PET scan I had showed some "numbers" around the surgery sites and my oncologist suspected it was from inflammation from radiation and was still healing. I have to admit, I have been anxious about the results of the upcoming scan. I won't know those results until after Christmas. I am ready to be declared free from this disease!

However, I keep reminding myself that God is in control. It was not a fun experience to go through, but I would not take it back. I developed a closer relationship with Him through it all and for that it was worth it. Not that I want to do it again mind you, but I know that if I had to, He would be there right beside me all the way.

On another note, some of you have asked me about my hair, how long it is, etc. See below for a picture that I took while at my office. It's getting long. And it's still curly, so it's super easy to take care of. The downside to this "do" is that I look like Albert Einstein when I wake up in the morning!!

It has been a year in October since my last chemo treatment and my hair began coming back in again about 6-8 weeks after that treatment So this is just about a years worth of growth....from scratch! My oncologist says it takes about 2 years before it goes back to it's "normal" state. That is the way it was before treatments. I haven't been to a hair dresser in over a year and a half. Think of all the money I've saved!! ha! I am open to suggestions for when that time comes!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stop the Madness!!!

Is it just me, or has the increase in breast cancer rose, not just breast cancer, all cancers for that matter. It seems like I hear about new cases of cancer on a weekly basis. I know my ears are sensitive to the topic, having gone through and still going through a breast cancer journey, but c'mon already, stop the madness!!

Please take a moment to pray for those on my prayer list to the right.

Although there are more survivors today due to improvements in medicines and earlier detections, cancer is a serious and deadly disease. For the fortunate, at best it's a good solid year of doctors, surgeries, tests and treatments, and that is just for starters. This is an ugly disease that needs to be stopped.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I had a check up with my Oncologist last Monday Oct. 11th and before I left we set up my next PET scan for December 17th at Hillcrest Hospital. The last PET scan in June had low result numbers which my doctor attributed to inflammation from radiation. It had only been five months from the time of my last radiation treatment until that PET scan. (No numbers is the goal). I wasn't happy about seeing numbers but tried to rest in the fact that the doctor thought it was from radiation still.

I have been experiencing discomfort on my right side for quite some time now. Under my right arm is tender to the point of feeling sore, often. The doctor said as nerves heal they can sometimes cause pain. I have to admit, I have allowed myself to entertain the thought that there might be more cancer, and at those times I fear. It doesn’t even matter what I fear, just the fact that I fear means I’ve gotten my eyes off of God and on my circumstances. Cancer or no cancer, I have to take God at His word. I either believe Him or I don’t. I choose to believe Him.

Father God, you know my innermost thoughts. You know all my doubts and fears. I lay my burden of fear at your feet and entrust my future to your care. You have promised to watch over me now and forever. Psalms 121: 7-8 says “The Lord will protect you and keep you safe from all dangers. The Lord will protect you now and always wherever you go.” (CEV). Help me to rest in You, Lord. To trust in Your power and Your promises.

Jeremiah 29:11 once again speaks to me when it says “I will bless you with a future filled with hope – a future of success, not of suffering.” (CEV) . Father you tell us that all things work together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purposes. We may not understand why we are going through these trials as we travel them, but I will trust that You are using these times to produce good fruit in my life and the lives of those walking this path with me. I am thankful that I can rest secure in the fact that You are faithful.

I thank You for Your healing and for giving me the peace that passes all human understanding. That peace will guard my heart and mind from the attacks of the one who tries to destroy me. I praise you for blessing me and my family with your overflowing goodness. Amen.


Thank you to everyone who donated to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Fund! Because of those who so generously donated, I exceeded my personal fundraising goal. We also exceeded our team goal!!

I cannot express properly what your support means to me. I have been touched by your generosity.

Thank you.

L-R Connie, Heather, Me, Jenn, Dave and Bill. Missing is Bobbi and Vicci

Friday, August 20, 2010

Race for the Cure

I will be joining the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure walk this Sept. 11th in Cleveland. I am excited to be a part of something so big to help find a cure for cancer. I signed up at the prompting of my friend Connie and formed a group called Pretty in Pink. (see the right bar). I received my "Survivor" t-shirt in the mail this week along with information regarding the day's activities and time schedules. Dave received his "Man Up" t-shirt in the mail as well and his instructions about where to meet other men in the Man Cave at Wolstein Center. I am excited that he will be joining me in this walk.

We are walking one mile in downtown Cleveland to raise funds to help research a cure for breast cancer, the disease that affects one in every 8 women. And the kicker is...the greatest risk factors for breast cancer are being female and growing older. Breast cancer knows no boundary, be it age, gender, socio-economic status or geographic location. And yes, it even affects men. Somebody has to stop this, and I plan to help out.

Please help me raise funds for a cure. As you know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2009, and although I am through the worst of the treatments, I am dealing with drug therapy, side affects and after affects, as well as doctors appointments, blood checks and PET scans for the next 5 years.

I don't like asking anyone for money, but this is important to me. I am asking for everyone to donate just $10.00 USD. If I could get at least 20 people to donate $10.00 each, that is $200.00 towards research. $10.00 doesn't sound like much and shouldn't be a burden for one person to donate, but with thousands of people raising funds at $10.00 each from 20 people from 22 counties in the NE Ohio area ...that is HUGE!

Just click on the link on the right of this page to donate safely and securely. If you are donating a larger amount, please read the FAQ's regarding receipts for tax exemptions. You can donate to my personal fundraising efforts, or someone on my team, or just the team in general, it all goes towards cancer research and it is all greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Joni Eareckson Tada

Please join me in prayer for Joni Eareckson Tada. If you are unfamiliar with Joni and her ministry visit to take in what this woman, who became a quadriplegic at the young age of 17, is doing to serve God. She has an amazing testimony of how God has taught her to bless others even in the midst of her own struggles.

Recently, Joni was diagnosed with breast cancer and begins chemotherapy this week. On top of the daily trials of being a quadriplegic, she will now have to cope with the side affects of chemotherapy. Also pray for her husband Ken, and the other dedicated friends of hers who will be assisting her during this time.

Our God reigns!

Monday, June 14, 2010

PET Scan results

I met with Dr. Coffman Thursday June 19th for a routine follow up exam and to gather results from my PET scan. My PET scan test came back with some activity around my clips and lymph nodes where they removed the other nodes (Clips were used in place of sutures at the surgery site). Dr. Coffman says he is not alarmed by my numbers. He said cancer numbers would throw up 8.X to 15.X and my numbers were 2.5. He believed these figures could just be inflammation still from radiation.

With that said, we will follow up with another PET scan in 6 months (Dec time frame). I see Dr. Coffman again in 4 months (Oct) for a routine follow up and at that time we will schedule the next test.

I apologize for the short update, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around having any numbers at all. I truly expected to hear.."Everything looks great!" after having a clean mammogram. I know I shouldn't be concerned, I know God is still in control.

I believe Lord, help my unbelief.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Results for Mammogram

I had my mammogram Wednesday June 2nd and received a letter the very next day that they were pleased to tell me that the results were clean!! I don't have to have another mammogram for another whole year!! I was shakily confident that it would come back clean, but it sure was good to see it in writing. Thank you God!

Stay tuned. PET scan results coming soon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Test Day

I just wanted to update ya'll that Wednesday June 2nd is test day. I start out the day at Hillcrest Hospital with an injection of radioactive material and about 45 minutes later will be scanned to see if there is any cancer. I am praying the PET scan will be clean.

Then at 2:45 I travel to Beachwood Breast Center for my first mammogram since surgery last May. To say I'm not looking forward to this is an understatement.

Then at 3:45 I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Levy, the surgeon who removed my cancer.

Certainly a busy day.

I'll post results once I have them. I appreciate your prayers, not only for good results, but to calm my nerves.

Please click on the link below to give a free mammogram. It's free to you, just a click of your mouse.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Port-a- Party

July 9, 2009 was the day I got my medi-port surgically implanted under my skin in order for my chemo medications to be administered to me in a safe way. This device was a purple triangular shaped medi-port (called a Power Port) that showed through my skin and rose above my chest by about ½ an inch. I was asked by the nurses and a few other people who opted to see it, if I was bruised because the purple color showed through my skin.

At best, the port was uncomfortable and on bad days there was soreness and shooting pains surrounding it. My seat belt ran right across it, and I never ceased to bump it with a something I was carrying. I began avoiding hugs for fear of pain from the port digging into my chest by a well meaning loved one. Trying to sleep was another story. And to say it was unattractive is a mild statement. I had to carefully select clothing to wear so that my port was not visible to anyone. The thought of someone seeing my port by accident crossed my mind as I would dress. Occasionally I would envision the look of horror or disgust on their faces as they caught a glimpse of it. If I was having second thoughts about a particular blouse or sweater, that “look” would make me change every time.

I had been trying to get the nurses at the cancer center to arrange for me to get my port out for awhile. Each time I approached the subject with the nurses, they would tell me the doctor would want me to keep it in for at least a year. When I asked the doctor when I could get it out he said “Anytime you want!” So again, I would approach the nurses telling them “he said” and I would get mumbles or “the doctor will need to write a work order up for that” and yet they never did get back to me after their declaration that they would “have to talk to the doctor about it”. Finally on my visit on February 18th, I pinned the doctor down and said, “When can I get this out?” once again he said “Whenever you want”. I replied. “I want!” He then began to back stroke pointing out what I went through to get it put in, yada, yada. So I asked him if there was a reason to keep the port in and he just shook his head no and started writing up a work order.

I realize why they all wanted me to keep the port in.. in case of a recurrence. However, I refuse to live with the when or “what ifs”. Matthew 6:34 says "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." And Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 12:22 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." So, I choose not to live in fear and worry about if cancer will return. Instead, I want to move forward in life and that did not include having a port sticking off my chest for another year “just in case”. February 25th I went to Cleveland Clinic’s main campus to have my port removed.

Dave, Jenn and I arrived at the hospital the morning of the 25th. I was a little anxious, but was looking more forward to having the port removed than being afraid of the procedure. Jenny made the wise suggestion to put Lydocaine on my arm for the IV insertion. And with the courage of Lydocaine on my arm, I was only a little anxious when it came time for the big stick. The Lydocaine worked famously! Shortly after the IV was inserted, the nurse and I walked into the surgery room together. She had me lay down on a narrow table then she, and some other nurses, began bustling around the operating room. One nurse brought over an x-ray machine and took an x-ray of my chest and neck where the port was. It was really neat to see the port and the catheter threaded up through my veins in my neck and back down again. After taking the x-ray a nurse begin to scrub down the area surrounding my port with some sort of dark solution.

The doctor had met with us before going into surgery to discuss the procedure with us and the risks involved. The biggest risk was the catheter breaking while removing it and introducing air into my bloodstream. Dr. Gill came into the surgery room shortly after the nurses finished prepping and draping me and had the nurses then give me something to make me groggy. They injected my IV with something, and then continued preparing things to begin surgery. Someone began numbing me, saying “You’re going to feel a stick…and burn”. At one point I reached up to scratch my face and a nurse peeked around the drape and told me to not move. I looked at her and smiled. She said “Oh my, there you are with your eyes wide open!” Then I heard, “we’re giving you something to make you comfortable”. I slept after that awaking later to feeling tugging and burning. I spoke out loud that I felt it and I think I startled everyone in the room. The doctor said to the nurses, “give her more” then he began telling me “you’re going to feel a stick…then burn” as he began numbing me more. Later I began to wake up as they were finishing up the procedure. They injected me with an antibiotic and immediately I began to itch. I asked the nurse if it was ok to scratch now and she said yes, so I started scratching my face, then my head, then my neck….argh! I was very itchy! The nurse noticed right away that I was breaking out in hives, so they informed me they were going to give me Benadryl to combat the allergic reaction I was having.

I don’t remember anything more in the surgery room and woke up in the recovery room where a nurse immediately offered me something to eat. With a ham sandwich in hand, I took a bite and remembered it tasted good. I woke up a little later with the sandwich still in my hand and laying on my chest. Dave and Jenn had come in at one point to see me, but I was still so out of it that they left again. Apparently, the nurses told them about the allergic reaction and how the medicine would make me sleep for awhile longer. They were also going to keep me for a couple of more hours to monitor me for anymore reactions.

I am free from the port and very happy I had it removed. I pray I never have to have one again, but even if I do, I would remove it again immediately. I have a thick pink scar where the port once was and it is still tender, but I can now wear most of my clothes again without fear of grossing someone out. My cousin Robin suggested we have a port removal party…would that be a port-a-party?

My hair is coming back in dark and curly, albeit still thin, but I thank God daily that I have hair and ask him to give me the wisdom to be able to work with what I have. It’s been a month now since I wore a hat, scarf or a wig and everyone who sees me is thrilled to see my hair again. Thank you all for continuing to keep me in your prayers. Sam. 7:28 O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Done is Good!

I started my radiation therapy on December 21, 2009 and received daily treatments, except for the weekends, for 6 ½ weeks, totaling 31 treatments. My last treatment was administered on Wednesday, February 3, 2010. The first 23 treatments were delivered to my upper right chest stretching from the center of my sternum to under my arm, then from about 4 inches below my collar bone to about 4 inches above the bottom of my ribs. The last 8 treatments, referred to as a boost, were delivered centered over my scar and a surrounding area of about 6 inches in diameter. Every Tuesday I would get an X-ray taken to make sure the swelling wasn't going to interfere with the position the doctor had chosen, and the therapists would measure me with calipers. Every Wednesday I met with Dr. C and the oncology nurse, Connie, so they could look at my skin to make sure it was still “intact”, always asking me if I had any questions and re-assuring me I was doing great. “Keep doing what you’re doing” Connie would say.

When I first started radiation treatments, my skin was slightly pink and slightly irritated everyday when I would go home. I would apply lotion over the treated area being careful not to rub off the ever present ink markings the therapists made. By the next morning the pink would have disappeared although the irritation never did. However the discomfort was not bad. The hardest part about the first 3 weeks was trying to maintain the ink they marked me with from Monday to Monday. I questioned myself why they tattooed me if they were just going to mark me up every week.

About halfway through my 6 ½ weeks the pink turned to red and the color no longer disappeared. The irritation became very uncomfortable and a constant soreness crept in. At the same time I noticed myself starting to drag. About halfway through the day I would feel the need for a good nap and getting up in the mornings to go to work became much harder.

The last 2 ½ weeks my skin was unquestionably red, tight, itchy, and sore and started to take on a plastic feel. My skin started to peel in some places that peeling should just never occur, and my underarm was a constant source of irritation. It doesn’t help that I am right handed and I was being radiated on my right side. Every movement I made would cause my skin to stretch, or cause my arm to rub tender skin. By this time I would wake up tired and remain tired throughout the day. Often times I was ready to go to bed by 8:00 at night. Nurse Connie gave me gel pads to apply to the areas that offended me the worst; however these were hard to keep on under my arm where the constant movement would make the pads buckle and itch my skin even worse.

My last treatment was bittersweet. I was glad it was over, but I had come to look forward to seeing the technicians I saw everyday. The “girls” gave me an Award of Achievement and ½ dozen carnations with baby’s breath and fern on my last day. I also got a hug from each one. Connie, my nurse, said more than once that I had come through radiation treatment with phenomenal results. She had told me that she expected me to have a rough go of radiation as I had just come from chemotherapy and I am fair skinned. She asked me more than once what cream I was using as my skin held up so well. I shared with her the new cream my cousin Ron had suggested. Thanks Ronnie, it really did help. BTW, it was SBS-40 OTC hand cream. I didn't start to experience fatigue until the last couple of weeks and even then it was tolerable to still work everyday and function somewhat normally.

I was told by many people to celebrate my last treatment. I took Thursday and Friday off to get some much needed rest. Celebration took energy I just didn't have. However, My dad and sister sent me a giant card signed by family and friends down south, as well as a gorgeous pink crystal necklace with the design name of “Celebration”. How appropriate! Thanks Daddy and Laurie. Jenny made me a Pineapple upside down cake done the old fashioned way, in an iron skillet. Yum! Dave took Jenny and me out to dinner at Thyme, The Restaurant, in Medina to celebrate being done with the major treatments. That was a treat. Can I just say, between the Pear and Parsnip Soup and the Crème’ Brule’, and not failing to mention the Spinach and Mushroom gnocchi, it’s now one of my favorite restaurants in Medina! Try it if you live anywhere close by.

Even though my treatments are over, I still have residual affects that I need to deal with. My skin is peeling, but healing, and for now I am still a bit tired. But, like my friend Chris says “Done is good!”

I go back to the cancer center Feb 18th for a port flush and an appointment with Dr. Coffman, my oncologist. I expect at that point he will talk about starting me on the drug Tamoxifen and possibly some follow up tests. I intend to pin down a commitment to arrange to get my port out. It has served its purpose and now it’s time to have it removed.

Looking back, I should have told Connie the nurse, that it was prayer that sustained me so well through radiation. Where have I heard before that I breezed through treatment? Was that chemo? Yes, and was that radiation? Yes. Thank you to all who have been praying for me. I am a living testimony of the power of prayer. I thank God that He keeps meeting me where I am and providing for me there.