How I’m Moving Lately

If you remember, how you’re moving is one of Kris Carr’s pillar’s of good health.   I know this can be an area of everyone’s lives that is difficult to find the time to do.  For me, I’m 10 years in on the exercise thing so it is second nature to me now.   Moving comes as natural as breathing.    Last year after complications with my reconstruction surgery after breast cancer, I developed “frozen shoulder” and movement was taken away from me for about 6 weeks.   It was the most painful time in my whole life and I will never take my health for granted ever again.

If you’re interested in my shoulder recover, I made a YouTube video.  Click here to see my progress from March 9-today.  I am getting there!  Woohoo!

But anyway, I do get it.  Moving can be so challenging.  Before I started running, I was right there with many of you.  Finding the time to exercise is HARD.

Let me slip down memory lane and reminisce on my movement trek and offer some hints and tips to help get you moving.

Back in 2009, right about the time I made my first Facebook post, my hubby got us a treadmill.  I can remember one of my first posts was commenting on how I had run for 3 days that particular week and was hopeful that I could keep it up.  What happened next changed the course of history for me.  My friends and family began liking my posts and encouraging me to keep it up.  Before long, I would post my weekly treadmill intentions and I swear, it was Facebook that helped me stay accountable.  After I posted what I was hoping to do, there was no way in heck that I’d let my friends and family know that I didn’t make it during any particular week.  I can remember jogging for 1 minute and then walking for 3 minutes and being thrilled about my progress.  I remember picking out a mailbox on my street and jogging from one mailbox to the other and then walking to the next mailbox.  Over and over and over again.

My niece commented on one of my posts and said, “Hey Aunt Missy, we should train and run a marathon.”  Now remember, she made this suggestion to me when I was still struggling to jog from mailbox to mailbox.  She had this book, The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, and wanted me to order it and start training with her.  The crazy thing was I agreed and was immediately psyched to run a marathon.

That was the beginning.

I can’t imagine anyone really wanting to read all these old posts but if you are interested, check out my Race Recap Page and you can see what occupied most of my life for the last 10 years.

20200501_222745

What can I say?  I was hooked.  I drank the Kool-aid and dove in hook line and sinker into the running scene.  I loved every single thing about it!  My hubby (who was already a life long runner} and I ran so many races together over those years, I can’t even keep track of them all.  And come to think of it, that Races page isn’t even up to date.  I know there are some races I haven’t written a recap on.  Whenever it was time for vacation, our first thought after we decided on where we were going, was to see if we could find a race to run there.

Right about this time my sis had lost a lot of weight on a vegetarian diet and was encouraging me to give it a try.   When I started dabbling in the plant based movement, many of the healthy eating blogs I started to follow, were runners too.  If they weren’t runners, they were doing Cross-fit, or yoga, or they were tri-athletes or doing some sort of wonderful movement.

Here are the top reasons I have been able to make moving a habit:

  1. Facebook accountability
  2. Making friends and having an accountability partner – I loved running or working out in the mornings but I also loved sleeping in.  By having a friend I was going to meet, it helped get me out the door.
  3. Having a race on the calendar to train for.  Don’t like running in the cold?  Plan an pay for a Spring marathon.  That will keep you going and on track all through the holidays!  You’ll learn to love the cold.  Don’t like running in the heat?  Plan a fall marathon.  That will keep you running all summer long.Spring marathon
  4. Excel is your friend.   Back in 2009 I actually was just learning Excel for my job.  I know it had been around forever at that time but I had never needed it until then.  Once I learned Excel, I created so many running spreadsheets it was crazy.  I had them color coded and would print them out and check things off every day.  I got a lot of joy checking things off.  If I put down that I was going to cross train on M-W-F and run on T-Thur-Sat and then rest on Sunday, I wouldn’t let a week go by without being able to check those blocks off.  Kinda the same thing as the Facebook posts.  I loved having my spreadsheets to motivate me.
  5. Put your alarm clock a few steps away from your bed so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
  6. Pack your workout bag and your lunch the night before.
  7. Have your workout clothes set out already.
  8. Just the knowledge that sitting all day may be harder on you than smoking is enough to get me out the door.
  9. For every hour you run, you may gain up to 7 hours to your life!    I know this is debatable but you can’t deny movement is so very healthy!
  10. Grant yourself grace and modify when you need to!

 

I’m still running and I did enjoy The Donna Marathon (the national marathon to finish breast cancer) this past February.  (I’ll write a race recap soon I promise!)  It was fantabulous!

DonnaThe gang

However, with Covid-19, my other spring half marathon was canceled and all my running groups were closed.  I’m still going to do the half when they have it later this month but I’m going to walk it with Ron and we are going to do it virtually.

What I’ve been doing lately is LIIFT4 from Beachbody on Demand.  I LOVE it!  I have to modify a lot but I’m giving it my all and it really is helping my shoulder.

And you know I have a tracker!  Check it out!

LIIFT4How are you moving lately?

I pray you find some time to move someway during this difficult time in our world.

Much love and well wishes!

Melissa

 

 

PMA all the Way

So you guys know I’m crazy about Kris Carr now.  Well she has these guided meditations and I tried out a sample during lunch this week.

Speaking of lunch, I had my normal salad and I ate it outside.  I really am trying hard to take my full hour and also get outside for some vitamin D.   Another thing I am doing is after lunch, I take my shoes off and get my bare feet in the dirt and grass.  It is called grounding.

66326656_10214652963102830_6539566824646770688_o

This is when I put my earbuds in and listed to Kris’s sample meditation.  I loved it!  And this is what I got out of it.

Ever since the very beginning of my cancer trek, I have wanted to get a double mastectomy and not just the single.  This is a very common decision that many women make even if, like me, they have one breast that is disease free.  It is so common now that insurance companies are denying this request and are not covering removing a disease free breast as there is no medical reason to do this.  However, my insurance company will cover this.  I do meet 2 of the very long list of criteria.  (You only have to meet 1 and I meet 2)

  • I have very dense breasts that make it very hard for mammograms to detect breast cancer.
  • I also have one first cousin that had breast cancer before the age of 50.

I wanted a bilateral mastectomy (DMX) and no reconstruction.  I even joined the Flat and Fabulous Facebook page to gain support from others that have chosen this route.  Here were my reasons:

  • I wanted to never have to worry about mammograms or MRIs again.
  • I didn’t want to go through more invasive surgeries.
  • I didn’t want something foreign inside me. (implants)
  • I didn’t want to have to worry about replacing implants after 10 years.
  • I thought it would be great to run and hike without a bra.

However, my hubby was very against this.  He felt like I was “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”  It hurt me that it mattered to him.  I wanted him to be so in love with me that he only worried about my life and not what I would look like.

During meditation, I realized that Ron was in the denial phase when I first started talking about a DMX.  Ron loves me unconditionally and I know this.  This trek is not just one that I will go through.  Ron is going to be right there with me all the way.  I’m sure he is scared as well.  Finances, time off work, the logistics of getting the surgery done away from home, all of these have to be just as taxing on him as they are on me.

I have let go of these negative feelings that I felt in the beginning.  It is so critical that I harbor no negative emotions at all.  As my BFF says, PMA all the way!  (Positive Mental Attitude)

pma

So here are my new reasons for going with only a unilateral mastectomy and DIEP reconstruction:

  • I don’t plan for cancer to return anywhere in my body after surgery so there is no reason to take a healthy breast.
  • The surgery will be easier for me to recover from as I’ll have full use of my right arm.
  • Since I’m keeping the healthy breast, I’ll need some balance and symmetry.  With DIEP I will have a permanent and natural reconstruction.

After this first mediation session, I visited with an old high school friend that is battling cancer.   She confirmed that care givers go through many different stages of acceptance.  Then last night I texted with another high school friend who is a 14 year survivor of breast cancer.  She stressed that our thoughts and keeping them positive are the key to getting through this trek.  In fact that was her only piece of advice she wanted to share with me at this point.

I’m not perfect and I have many moments of worry that continue to plague me.  As I go forward this week, I’m going PMA all the way!

I pray this for you as well!

 

 

The Mayo Clinic

After the MRI on June 12th and while we were waiting on the genetic testing, my husband and sister were encouraging me to get a 2nd opinion.  Actually, my sister who had just went through her own cancer scare last year, kept really encouraging me to call the Mayo Clinic.  She had gone to Mayo in Rochester, MN for a cutting edge throat cancer surgery and had phenomenal success.  She lives near Charlotte, NC and was shocked to learn that Mayo was in network with her insurance company.  Click here to read about her trek.    And while you are on her blog, search around.  She has a few more updates hidden among all her travels.

She kept pressing me to just see if Mayo was in network for me.  Well since my hubby also wanted me to get that 2nd opinion, I figured the least I could do was to call them.  Mayo has a Breast Center in Jacksonville, FL and that’s only about 6.5 hours away from our home in Clayton, NC.  I called them on June 19th and our insurance was also in network!  I couldn’t believe it!  I was on cloud nine.  At first they gave me an appointment of July 22nd and I happily agreed.  However, after many friends praying for me and me praying like crazy, the schedulers called me back the very next morning and had an appointment for me on June 27th!  That was only one week and one day from the day that I called them!

I was a little worried about the logistics of making all this happen but my hubby and sister kept telling me not to worry about that so I’ve pushed all those thoughts away.  We are only going to be out the gas and lodging and hopefully that won’t be too bad.  My sister is the Airbnb queen so I know we are going to be in good hands.

Speaking of logistics and organization, my good friend Desiree, just happens to live in Jacksonville and she is going through breast cancer at this very same time.  She has been a world of support to me!  One of the first things she recommended to me was this book.  Now that I’ve read it cover to cover and watched the dvd thanks to my other rock star cancer survivor friend, Connie, I can also recommend everything from Kris Carr.  Go check out her website!   But back to logistics.  In the book, Kris recommends you setting up your cancer trek as a business.  I’m the CEO of “Save My A$$ Unlimited.”  I’ve elected my hubby Ron as chief record keeper and CFO.  He’s in charge of all the insurance stuff and bills.  My sister Rosa, is in charge of all travel.  My sister Tammy, is in charge of all things recovery and humor.  Tammy lives in Missouri and even if she can’t be with me during my entire recovery, she’s still in charge of making sure someone has my back.

Here Rosa and I are at an outside healing meditation area at Mayo.

65181137_10214560738757778_3257437702777208832_n

On my first appointment at Mayo, I could tell right away that things were really going to be different.  My Raleigh doctor was very experienced (over 34 years as a breast surgeon) and she was kind.  My only beef with her was that she wouldn’t give me her recommendation.  Heck, I’m a newbie in all of this and she just kept saying that we could try a lumpectomy and see if we can get clean edges.  But then at the same time, she said a mastectomy would bring the same survival rate.  I needed her expert guidance and she kept side stepping my every question.

My first doctor at Mayo didn’t hesitate at all to tell me her personal opinion.   She said without a doubt, she recommenced a full left mastectomy.   The comment that really hit home to me was when she also said that they could biopsy the satellite nodules that the MRI had reveled but that even if the biopsy came back negative, she would not believe it.  These areas of enhancement are in a straight line leading from the main tumor heading straight to my nipple.  I’m a layman and it really seems logical to me that anything at all showing up on the left side had to go!

Oh and by the way, my DO, also recommended a full left mastectomy.  He was the doc that I’ve been going to to help me with nutrition and whole body care as it trek through cancer.

So there you had it.  2 docs so far telling me the same thing.

On the 2nd day at Mayo, I met with the breast surgeon.  This guy walks in and I immediately think of a video gamer.  I thought to myself, that even if he doesn’t have a lot of years of experience, I think his hands are going to be quite nimble.  Then I learned that his mother was a breast cancer survivor and that is where his passion came from.  He as well didn’t hesitate at all and told me left mastectomy with no nipple sparing was my best choice.  It felt great to have 3 doctors telling me their honest opinion.

That was it for day 1 and 2 at Mayo but then they called me back and I had to go back on July 5th to meet with the plastic surgeon, the oncologist, and the radiation oncologist. These appointments all went great too.  Everyone is very hopeful that I won’t have to have chemo or radiation but because of those darn satellite nodules, there is a chance I may have to.  Bad part is, I won’t know until about 2-3 days after surgery.  And because of that, I can’t do immediate reconstruction.

My favorite appointment on this second Mayo trip was with the plastic surgeon.  We went over all the choices and again, I looked to the expert and asked for his honest opinion.  Should I go with implants or should I trip DIEP.  A DIEP procedure uses fat and capillaries from your tummy to reconstruct your breast.

He didn’t hesitate either.  He said that I was an excellent candidate for DIEP.  I was young (Yay!  I felt great to be called young at 54).  I was a non-smoker.  I was healthy.  And, I had enough fat and skin in my abdominal area.  (Yay for belly fat!)  Actually this is the only good thing that will ever come from my belly fat.  You have probably heard that carrying your weight around your tummy is the worst place health wise to carry your weight.  You know the apple shape is so much worse than the pear shape figure.  It is actually so very true.  My cancer feeds on estrogen and your body can make its own estrogen from belly fat.

So that is our plan.  He’s going to put in some tissue expanders right after the breast surgeon completes the mastectomy.  I’ll have to go back once a week for 3 weeks to get the expander slowly filled until the left reaches the correct size.  Then we can proceed with the DIEP.  Only slow down is going to be if I have to have chemo or radiation.  We can’t start with the DIEP until 3 months after the last day of radiation.  I am praying so hard for no chemo or radiation!!!

I got the call today with my surgery date.  It is going to be on August 2nd with an August 1st pre-op appointment.  These next 3 weeks can’t pass quickly enough!

Thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts.  With God, I’ve got this!

xxoo,

Melissa

 

My Trek through Cancer

How do you like my new title?  I really couldn’t stand the “My Cancer Journey.”  It seemed depressing and sick to me.   I’m not sick!  And, I’m not depressed.  Heck, I’m already calling myself a cancer survivor instead of a cancer patient and I haven’t had anything other than tests and consultations.    So, since I love hiking, I decided on my trek through cancer.  Trekking through is is exactly how I am viewing this.  Even though cancer may be with me for the rest of my life even if it is only in my thoughts, I’m hoping to finish this through hike and make the most out of it as I go.

Let me pick back up from June 21st until today.

I decided to get the uber expensive genetic testing done to help me decide if I want to remove the disease free breast while we’re at it.  There are a lot of very rare cancers in our family and I didn’t really realize it until I had them all down on paper.  My sister lost an eye to the very rare ocular melanoma last year.  She also had HPV16 throat cancer.  I have a nephew that had melanoma at age 25.  An aunt that died of the very rare bile duct cancer.  And I have one first cousin that had breast cancer at age 47.   We have some other precancerous issues running in the family as well as some non-melanoma skin cancers.  With all those, the genetics counselor opted to run the full panel of cancer testing and not just the test for breast cancer genes.  They asked for a rush on the test and I got the results back on July 2nd.

Drum Roll!

I’m negative in all areas!  There are no variants in my genes that are known to increase the cancer risk for any cancers.  Woot!  Woot!  This was a huge relief not so much for me but for my 2 daughters.  They of course could still be positive but I am hopeful that since I am negative, it will mean they may not have to worry about breast or any other cancers as long as they take steps to stay healthy.

That brings me to the question of what caused my cancer.  Let’s face it.  I bet at least for the last 10 years since I have been running and trying to eat healthy, I have been one of the healthiest people you would ever meet?  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’ve had my on again off again vegan/vegetarian episodes over the last 10 years and have had my share of fast food and meats on occasion.  Sometimes, even the vegan foods I’d choose were really junk food vegan choices.  Hello Beyond Burgers and Newman O’s!

I don’t think it was the occasion bad food choices though.  No one knows for sure and I’m really trying not to focus on the why.  But if I had to bet, I believe it was the hormone replacement therapy that I was on for the last 3 years.  When I hit menopause, I got hot flashes like crazy.  I was handling it okay at first but then I started to get some other symptoms and I hope this isn’t too much information so this is warning.  Stop reading now if you don’t want to hear about female issues.

 

STOP!

 

I also got vaginal dryness and started having painful sex.  Bam!  I told you to stop reading.  LOL!

Anyway, my mother took HRT for years and years with no problems and even though I had heard about the risks, I figured I was so healthy anyway, I could take the chance.  I started Prempro almost 3 years to the day prior to my May 21st fateful mammogram.  If you Google Prempro, you’ll find that most cancers after Prempro show up 2.5-3 years after starting the medication.  The dimple or dent as I call it, appeared months and months prior to May 21.  I don’t know for sure when I first noticed the dent.  I know if was less than a year ago.  It was probably about 9 months or so ago.   When I talked to my primary care physician about this she of course said no one could know for sure.  One thing that she said was that many of her patients that were on Prempro would get angry with her when she wouldn’t renew their prescriptions without getting their annual mammograms.  Hmmm.  Wonder why getting a mammogram is the determining factor in whether or not she would renew their prescription?  Doesn’t add up to me.  Needless to say.  I am not taking Prempro any longer!

Another culprit may have been the very very strong antiperspirants that I used ALL MY LIFE.  Many will say this is an old wives tale but no one can dispute the increasing numbers of breast cancers that are in the upper outer quadrants of the breast. (exactly where my main tumor is)  I again had heard of the risk of using these strong aluminum based antiperspirants but I thought I was healthy enough in all other areas that I could cancel out any negatives from the aluminum.  I have switched to Tom’s all natural deodorant now and love it!  I have to apply more often but I think it is healthier.

Speaking of changes since May 21, here’s my list!

  1. Praying and keeping God in first place!  One of my good friends that is also a cancer survivor sent me her list of favorite verses.  This is one of my favorites!
  2. No more Prempro
  3. Completely vegan
  4. No aluminum based antiperspirants
  5. I’m juicing now.  I’m shooting for 64 ounces of fruit and vegetable juices per day.  Some days I only get 32 ounces or so and I have missed a few days but not many.  My go to ingredients are celery, beets, beet greens, apple, carrot, ginger, turmeric, and garlic.  All of these are super noninflammatory agents.
  6. Trying to get plenty of sleep.  I get 8 hours most nights now with only an occasional 7 hours.  In the past, sometimes I’d exist on 6 hours for days on end.  Sleep is critical!  I don’t have my cell phone charging on my night table any longer.  It is in the Living Room now.  I try to make our bedroom as dark as possible and I even wear a silk eye mask.  I keep the sound machine running for the first hour and I also take melatonin.  I don’t have any trouble going to sleep but the melatonin is helping to let me sleep through the 3:30am hot flashes that are now back with a vengeance.
  7. I stopped going to Burn Boot Camp and my Running Speed Class.  BBC and Speed were intense workouts and I am trying to let all my spare energy go to my immune system so it can fight like crazy to keep this cancer from growing or spreading any more.
  8. I am working out though.  Just on a less intense schedule.  I still run on Wednesdays mornings but on this run, we always keep it at a slow conversational pace.  I am also rebounding and have a trampoline in my bedroom. Click on the link to see the benefits of rebounding.  It is also great for your lymph nodes.
  9. I’m using my essential oils for relaxation and cleaning more and more now.  You should have seen all the toxic cleaners, makeups, and perfumes I finally got the nerve to actually throw away now.
  10. I’m seeing a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine now and he had even prescribed Frankincense for me.  I just paid for it today and it should be coming to me early next week.  His directions are to take 2 drops under my tongue morning and evening.  I’ve already talked to my sister and another cancer survivor who has been prescribed this special blend of Frankincense and I know it is going to really take some getting used to for me to be able to get it down.  Here is my doc if you are interested.  He is amazing!
  11. My DO tweaked my vegan diet.  He spent over an hour on a conference call with me on nutrition alone.  Now for at least for 4 weeks, I am not only vegan, I am gluten free, soy free, and oat free.  Gluten causes inflammation and he wants to keep that down all we can.  My diet is so simple now.  I have quinoa and blueberries in the morning, a huge salad with beans at lunch, and then a potato with broccoli at dinner.  That with all the juices I have is about all I can eat!
  12. One other crazy thing my DO has me doing is taking a  TBSP of EVOO with 10 drops of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.   It isn’t bad at all and is supposed to protect my gall bladder with all the changes in my diet.
  13. This one is a suggestion from my neighbor.  Her brother-in-law has stage 4 lung cancer and he is doing this and his tumors are shrinking!  I ran it past my DO and he said okay so I’m going with it.  Hey why not?!!!   It is one tsp of black strap molasses with 1/3 tsp of sodium bicarbonate.  (aluminum free)
  14. I’m practicing peace and meditation and am trying to keep all negative thoughts away.  Picture this.  Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts.  Make sure they are positive!
  15. I’ve also tried Essiac Tea.  One breast cancer survivor that I listed to swears by this.  I’m out now but I will get again.  In the meantime I’m drinking matcha green tea.  No more caffeine for me.
  16. Not using any plastics and not using the microwave!

There are probably more but this post is so long already and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.  So sorry.  I’ll end now and I promise, tomorrow I’ll post an update with more details of my surgery choices.

Much love and happiness.  Now go out there and be at peace.  Eat your veggies and love one another!  Ditch the aluminum, save the world one straw at a time, and Check for the Dimple.

xxoo,

Melissa

 

 

 

 

Why Me?

For the record, I have never once asked this.  My question was more like, “Why not me?”

On May 21st of this year, just before we were getting started with my routine mammogram, I casually mentioned to the technician that I had a dent in my left boob.  I had noticed it earlier in the year and had felt around for a lump.  I didn’t feel anything.  My hubby noticed it too but we both thought it was just part of aging.  We didn’t know.  But the technician did.  She immediately asked me if she could call my primary care physician to request approval to do a diagnostic mammogram instead of the normal screening one.  It didn’t take but a few minutes and she was back with the approval and took a zillion images.  Then she said she needed the ultrasound tech to check things out.  A few minutes later, I was laying on a table and an ultrasound tech was rubbing jelly all over my left boob.  She even checked my armpit and said she was checking my lymph nodes.

I was doing well through all of this and wasn’t freaking out at all.  I knew my boobs were very dense and I honestly didn’t think anything about all the fuss.  However, when the radiologist came in to talk to me about a 1” mass that had showed up that wasn’t there the previous year, I started getting worried.  As he was leaving the room, I asked him how my lymph nodes looked and he quickly said they looked fine.

What they didn’t tell me that day that I now know because I have the reports.  My mass was “highly suspicious for breast cancer.”

The next day, I found this article.

You see, the dent was being caused by the tumor pulling the skin.  I was getting really worried.

I went back in for a biopsy two days later on May 23rd.  I was thrilled that they could work me in so quickly for the biopsy but I wasn’t prepared for it.  I’ve heard from many people since this and some women do just fine during the biopsy. However, a very good friend of mine admitted that the biopsy part was the most painful in all of her breast cancer journey.  It hurt!  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  They take this long needle and first put in the numbing medicine.  Then they go back in there and grab a few samples of the tumor and pull them out.  You hear popping noises and that part was scary for me but manageable.  Everything was fine until they were all finished and I set up.  I blacked out immediately!  I scared the technician so much.  It was only for a second and since I used to be a big fainter back in my late teens and early 20s, I knew exactly what was happening.  The worst thing was I got nauseated.  I asked for help and the tech was running around everywhere trying to find me a barf bag.  Luckily, my stomach settled down and I didn’t end up vomiting.  They gave me some Ginger Ale and crackers and after about an hour, I was good to drive myself home.  Looking back, I don’t think I fainted because of the pain or the medicine or anything.  I think it was due to stress.

Next came the big wait for the results.  May 23rd was a Thursday and the normal turnaround time was 3-5 days.   My only problem here was that the Memorial Day weekend was coming upon us and I knew it would probably be Tuesday before I could hear anything.  We were headed out on vacation and it really did help to get my mind off everything.   I’ll be honest though.  Form May 21 on, breast cancer was the first thing I would think about when my eyes would open in the morning and the last thing I would think about before finally falling to sleep.  I tried to work that Friday after the biopsy and I did get a little work done but I kept catching myself on Dr. Google.  This was a big no no and I knew it but I couldn’t help it.  I tried to not think about it while we were on vacation and I was successful most of the time.

On Tuesday, May 28th, the radiologist called me with the results.  She was all cheerful, asking me about my wound at the biopsy site and how it was healing and for a split second I thought everything was okay.  Then she let me know it was cancer.  Women I have spoken to since did not get there results over the phone.  I’m not sure why my radiology center handles it this way.   I hated getting the news this way but then again, I didn’t want to wait any longer.  Within seconds after hanging up with the radiologist, a Patient Navigator called me to set up an appointment with a breast surgeon.   She kept apologizing for saying that the first available appointment wasn’t until June 10th because my surgeon was going to be out of the office.  I was still on vacation and since I was in shock, I happily agreed to June 10th.  If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have waited so long.  It was only 1 week after I got back from vacation but the waiting has been the very hardest of all.

June 10th finally came and I leaned that my breast cancer as Estrogen + Progesterone + and Her2 -.  My doc said if you get breast cancer, you want those markers to be just what mine were.  My clinical pathology at this point was Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  The tumor measured 2cm on the ultrasound.  The surgeon was nice and very qualified but I didn’t like that she wouldn’t give me her opinion of what to do.  My choices were lumpectomy and see if we get clear edges, radiation and the 5 year pill to block the estrogen or a mastectomy and the 5 year pill.  The only thing the surgeon did recommend for certainty was that I get an MRI.  Since my boobs are dense, she wanted the MRI to make sure nothing else was hiding in there.  A good friend had suggested I get an MRI so I was thrilled.  Or so I thought.  The MRI meant more waiting.

The MRI was June 12.  Since I fainted during the biopsy, I was on high alert for the MRI.  I wasn’t worried about the claustrophobic nature of the test.  I was worried that I might get nauseated again and have to stop the procedure.  I know, I know.  I am a baby!  I stress at the drop of a hat.  Luckily, the MRI went very well.  I think it lasted about a half hour.  I was very cold and they did put a warm blanket on me that helped a lot.  I did start to shiver a little and I was so scared that it would mess up the test.  For the MRI, you get an IV and then you lay down on your tummy and let your boobs hang out through this little attachment.  It is very loud and you hear all kinds of knocking and banging noises.  I chose to wear headphones and they played relaxing music.  I really surprised myself with how well I did.

June 12th was a Wednesday and they said I should hear back in 2-3 days.  I was going crazy by the end of the day on Friday and I still hadn’t heard anything.  My patient navigator told me my surgeon was out on Fridays but she was sure she would call me on Monday.  I decided to call the radiology center.   I don’t think they should have done this but they let me know that they faxed the surgeon the report earlier that day and offered to email it to me.  I let them.  I really shouldn’t have allowed them to do this.  When I got the report late that Friday afternoon, I was panicked!  The MRI measured the tumor to be a little over 5cm with other satellite areas of concern within the left breast.   I don’t think I slept a wink on Friday night even with the good news the MRI showed. (no evidence of disease in the right breast, lymph nodes, liver, or sternum)

I’ve been an on again off again vegetarian/vegan since 2009.  But on that fateful May 21st day of the first tests, I promised God that no matter what, I would be vegan for the rest of my life.  I first got interested in vegetarianism and being vegan for health reasons.  I really do believe we aren’t meant to eat so much of the factory farmed meat in the United States.  Then through the years, I stated being drawn to being vegan for the ethical reasons.  It breaks my heart how animals suffer.  I’m fine with occasional fishing and even hunting to an extent.  I know that many animals just don’t have many natural predators anymore.    I have a problem if you don’t use what you shoot for food.  If it’s just for sport, count me out.

I’ve actually been juicing since we got back from vacation.  I try to drink 64 ounces of fresh juice a day.

64297041_10214438197533825_2462200992976863232_o

Well, I was heading out to Food Lion on Saturday the day after I got the MRI results to get some carrots.  I purposely left my phone in the house.  Sometimes, I think we are tied to our phones and I wanted a break.  My hubby came running out to me as I was driving out the driveway holding my phone.  He just thought I had forgotten it and wanted me to be safe.    People, my grocery store is all of 3 miles away from our home.  However, I took it from him and thanked him as cheerfully as I could.  This was a God thing for sure because, just as I got to Food Lion, my breast surgeon called me.

She caught me off guard calling me on a Saturday but I was so thrilled.  She said she was on call that weekend and had noticed my MRI fax on her machine.  She let me know of the increased size and also the satellite nodules.  She just wouldn’t give me her recommendations.  All she kept saying was that it was my choice.  I could still try the lumpectomy but she warned me that my breast would be very disfigured.  Or I could go straight to the mastectomy.  We decided at that point to move up my genetic testing so I could make a better decision.

I really wanted to know if I’m carrying that breast cancer gene so I could decide if I should just go ahead and get a double mastectomy.  That test was set for June 21st.

So there you go.  May 21 to June 21.  That’s the first 30 days of my cancer journey.  I actually really dislike describing this as “my cancer journey”.  I’ve got to think of another way to describe this $hit!  If you have any ideas, please share!

This post is so long already so I’ll stop now and pick back up tomorrow.

Stay tuned….