Thursday, May 28, 2015

Me, Myselfies, and I

“Have you seen Julie’s pictures on Facebook lately?”
“She takes way too many selfies!”
“Is she having a mid-life crisis?”
“I bet you there’s trouble at home!”
 “She must think she’s all that and a bag of chips!”

No, I’m NOT having a mid-life crisis.  And things are FINE at home.  And I DON’T think I’m “all that”, (well, maybe the bag of chips…). I’m fine. I haven’t gone off the deep end.  Not that I should have to explain myself, but maybe it will quiet some of the chatter. Even so, to quote my nemesis Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate,” and I know not everyone will appreciate what I have to say. Here goes anyway…

For most of my 44 years on earth I was a wallflower, happy to go unnoticed. When I got old enough to be self-conscious, I didn’t like getting my picture taken anymore (if I remember correctly, that was around 6th grade when I puffed up like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man – before that, I was quite the little ham). I didn’t mind flying under the radar.  I did dabble in dramatic theater in junior high where I played “Jack” in an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”.  I then moved on to musical theater of sorts at church and then singing solos… but that was the extent of my time in the spotlight.  Fast forward to my 42nd year…

Most of you have already heard the story, so I’ll keep it brief. I got breast cancer. I underwent about 7 months of chemo/surgery/radiation.  During that time a few things happened: 1.) I felt a little isolated, so I reached out via social media to share my journey, 2.) unsure of how chemo was going to affect my body, I started taking daily selfies to chronical my “change”, and 3.) I kicked cancer’s ass.  Social media made my world a whole lot smaller and I felt extremely loved and supported.  My “change” didn’t end up being much of a change on the outside (aside from going bald and having no eyebrows or eyelashes), but on the inside I was learning to be comfortable in the skin I was in by posting pics of my face EVERY SINGLE DAY for something like 150 days – talk about stepping out of your comfort zone… but that’s a whole other blog post! I quickly realized that people were watching! Oh, and the ass kicking part! Chemo shrunk the invader down to almost nothing, surgery cleaned things up so the twins got to stay together, and radiation made sure the area was all clear.  Then I was ready to make up for the time I had lost to cancer - “The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts...” (Joel 2:25).  Baby steps at first as I tried to figure out my new “normal” and then at full speed, making up “normal” as I went and pausing for a nap from time to time.

I had chosen the word “shine” as my post-cancer mantra. “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world… shine!” (Matthew 5:14). Whatever I did, even the smallest thing, I wanted to shine with everything God had done in me and through me. With that came more pictures and in 2015 I chose a new mantra, “joy”. With everything I had been through, how could I not find and choose joy? Not just that, I also wanted to share joy. To me, that meant living life to the fullest. Taking advantage of opportunities that came my way. Trying new things. Doing things that made me happy (naps included). Eating things that made me happy. Spending time with family AND friends… all the while posting more pictures.

My posts were never meant to brag or be showy. I’m sure there are some who got tired of seeing me and some who probably “unfriended” me.  Here’s the thing, I can’t go back to being a wallflower! It was my hope that I could make someone smile, share some joy, give some hope, make someone feel better about what they were going through, share faith, share fun, share friendship, share strength and courage, share love. That’s still what I hope for. God has been so good to me! Look deeper than the silly faces, the donuts, the mud covered body (if you don’t know, don’t ask), and see a girl who is thankful.  See a girl who loves life, her family and her friends.  See a girl who loves the Lord. See a girl that has chosen JOY. Don’t judge or jump to conclusions. If that’s just too hard to see or I’m too much for you, I understand… you can “unfriend” me. I won’t think any less of you. For those that stick around, thanks! I hope you enjoy the ride! And to all you wallflowers… it’s time to blossom!!

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Just got my hair done! Meet my Hair Guy, Trenton.

I never understood celebrating the day of your diagnosis (April 5, 2013).  I mean, why would you want to celebrate the day you found out you had an uninvited guest who had moved into your body and wanted to kill you? I figured you just celebrate being "cancer-free" and in my mind, that was the day of my surgery (October 17, 2013)... when they cut what was left of that dumb tumor out of me, thus creating Frankenboob.  If you wanna get crazy, you could celebrate the day you started treatment (May 1, 2013), or the day you finished treatment (January 3, 2014).  I'm all for having a party and maybe even getting presents, but people might start to get a bit annoyed!

I raised the question of cancer-survivorship etiquette to some of my girlfriends and my wonderful and brilliant friend (you know who you are) put it to me kind of like this...

Yes, you celebrate the day you were diagnosed; 
the day that your journey began.

It's the day my fight started.  The day I had to start completely trusting that God was in control of my life. It was the day that a strength I didn't know I had started to grow inside me. It was the first page in my story; a story that I didn't expect or choose or want, but a story that I'm so thankful for.

I learned so much from breast cancer.  I learned things about myself and what I was capable of.  I learned things about my faith and just how BIG my God is.  I learned things about my family and how amazing and strong they are.  I learned things about my friends and about letting people love me and about loving.  All lessons that I will treasure and all lessons that made that journey "worth it".

So.... I'm gonna celebrate my 2nd Cancerversary (apparently that's a thing)!!  It happens to fall on Easter Sunday this year so I probably won't be poppin' bottles just yet.  Instead, I'm going to spend some quiet time reflecting on everything that has happened in the last two years.  I've already started to shed a few tears of joy and thanksgiving so tomorrow should be a two-fisted kleenex kind of day.  Oh, but fear not!  There WILL be a party... soon.

Oh, and I wanted to tell you about a book I'm reading! I should have finished and reviewed it by now, but ya know... life.  Anyway, I started it while on Spring Break in Arizona and am so excited to go deeper into it!  It's called Life Unstuck: Finding Peace with Your Past, Purpose in Your Present, Passion for Your Future, by Pat Layton.

In Life Unstuck, Pat uses Psalm 139 as a guide to look into the areas of our lives where we are stuck and shows us a path to peace and freedom, the life God has planned for us.

"God wants us, His precious daughters, to be reminded and refreshed by the complete and unshakable knowledge of our redeemed life. He wants us completely restored from the things that keep us stuck in the past and He wants us set free to gleefully anticipate all He has planned for our future."

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to live life to the fullest... ready to live unstuck!  I'll keep ya posted!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

You're Loved No Matter What

I am a recovering perfectionist. I used to sit and obsess for hours about the things I needed to change or fix to make everything perfect. If I couldn't make it perfect, I didn't want to do it. I felt like anything I made or did was a reflection of me as a person and if it wasn't perfect, then people would view me as being imperfect. I would be liked or loved less. Eventually, I realized that not only was I making myself crazy, but I was making the people closest to me nuts too!

I had to start telling myself that my best was good enough. I was good enough. I didn't need to stress myself out trying to do more or be more. I also needed to give myself grace to make mistakes. It's in the mistakes and imperfections that I learn and grow. 

as believers we so often hesitate to embrace the freedom and grace God has given us. We're so afraid of making a mistake that we never take hold of all he has for us. We focus on being safe and staying on the straight and narrow so much that we miss out on doing what God truly wants-which is seeing us grow to all he created us to be.

I also needed to tell myself that I am loved just the way I am... no matter how messy or imperfect. Holley says,

There's only one thing in this world that even
better than "perfect," and that's knowing you're
perfectly loved. 
And you are. No matter what.

I wish that I could say I don't struggle with perfection anymore, but I can't. That fear crept up again just this last weekend. I'm just going to have to keep reminding myself that I'm human and I'm not supposed to be perfect. I'm going to make mistakes and messes, have successes and victories, and through it all I am still deeply loved.

"God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us so that we are free from worry on Judgement Day. Our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room for love in fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life-fear of death, fear of judgement, -is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love-love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first." 1 John 4:17-19 MSG

PS. If you've ever struggled with feeling like you need to be perfect, Holley's book will encourage you! You're Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect .

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Beauty of Grace

God loves me even though I’m not Wonder Woman.

Sometimes the hardest person for me to show grace to is me.  I see my faults and shortcomings and I am so hard on myself. I don’t measure up. I’m un-loveable.

When I was going through treatment for breast cancer I was given the nickname “Wonder Woman”. I happily embraced that alter-ego because I knew that I needed super hero strength to beat my disease.  When that battle was won, the name stuck.  It wasn't long before being “Wonder Woman” began to weigh on me.  Without an evil villain to fight (cancer), I was left to wrestle with my everyday struggles.  I’m not so wonder-full sometimes.  I’m afraid that people might see the messy person under the star-spangled costume.

In the book, The Beauty of Grace by Dawn Camp, Angela Nazworth writes about our “mask and cape”.  We want to be strong and heroic, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and sometimes in putting on that persona we lose sight of who we really are, who’s we are.  Angela says it so well,

“I pretend that I am capable of handling anything that comes my way…all by my little self. And sometimes I get so wrapped up into the role I inhabit that I do not even respond to my own name when it’s whispered by Him.”

It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way, hiding behind my mask.  But here’s the good news, God loves me even though I’m not Wonder Woman. He gives me grace, forgives me and delights in me.  He doesn't expect me to be super-human.  He just expects me to be his.

If you need some encouragement today, check out The Beauty of Grace.  It’s filled with soul-stirring stories about purpose, surrender, trust, lessons, hope, encouragement, and more from some of today’s popular bloggers/writers.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Looks like I'm startin' something...

I’ve decided that I’m going to try (and post) a new recipe each week in 2015.  I’ll be sharing over on my other blog CUPCAKEDD .

Up first… Egg Strata Cups!

Hope you’ll stop by!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

J.O.Y. - 2015

I’m sure you’ve heard of people choosing a “word” at the start of each New Year. The word usually has something to do with what you hope for or want to be.  I had always wanted to pick a word, but would usually forget or decide the word I had chosen wasn’t good enough, or some other excuse. The same thing happens when I decide I’m going to start a journal, a diet, a cleaning/organizing plan…

A few months into 2013, I got my first word… BRAVE.  I had breast cancer.  I was going to need to be brave and hold onto my faith to get through it.  I soon learned that being brave had very little to do with what I could do, and had everything to do with what God could do.  God gave me unexpected strength.  He made me brave.

As 2014 rolled in, I was finishing my radiation treatments.  No more cancer!  My next word… SHINE.  I wanted to shine with the victory God had given me over breast cancer.  I wanted to shine with all that He had done in my life.  Matthew 5:14 in The Message says,

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world,”
                                                           and that’s just what I was going to do.

It’s hard to shine all the time.  I sometimes wondered if I was really shinning at all.  Did my flaws and mistakes and short-comings dim that light?  I realized again that my “word” had very little to do with me and had everything to do with what God was doing in me.  He shines.  He is working and moving in my life and that light can’t be put out.  It doesn’t matter what stupid things I do, He’ll shine through.  That’s another word… GRACE.

With 2015 waiting in the wings, it’s time to pick another “word”.  Several words have come up in recent months and definitely have meaning to me for this time in my life…. HOPE, FAITH, PEACE, LOVE, BEAUTIFUL.  I went to The Word (aka. The Bible) to help narrow it down and I found this passage (emphasis mine):

“Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haulnot the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into JOY, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”
                                                  -Colossians 1:9-12, MSG

OY.  God had given me strength to endure (be brave). He let me shine his God-colors to the world and much more.  You can be sure that all of that spills over into JOY.

Each day I want to choose JOY.  I want to remember everything God has done for me and look forward with joy to all that he has in store.

“when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”  James 1:2 NLT

And it’s not just about my joy.  I want to share joy and bring joy to the people around me.

“Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness                         
    they will sing with joy about your righteousness.”  Psalm 145:7 NLT

Bottom line, I want my life to point back to Christ.  I want it to be undeniable whose I am and where my JOY comes from. So in 2015, I’m all about the JOY and I’m wishing the same for you!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19 NIV)
We all have hard days. Sometimes just dealing with the everyday things in our lives can be difficult. It's often in those tough times that just asking for help feels like weakness or defeat. In the new devotional, " What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days", Holley Gerth shares 52 Psalms-based devotionals that remind us that we are not alone and not defeated when we feel like we're at the end of our rope.
Whatever your hard things are - disappointment, depression, stress, anxiety, hurt, loss, loneliness..., God had promised to be there, right alongside of us.  He'll give us joy.  He'll give us peace. He'll give us strength. He'll give us exactly what we need, when we need it.
"You serve a God who has the hairs on your head not only numbered but memorized. He knows the details of your life even better than you do. He never loses touch with your heart. And because of that, you can always have hope. Because even if you can’t see what God is doing, you can trust he is already acting on your behalf. Nothing is too difficult for him. No challenge is too big. No detail is too small."

Hey! I’m giving away a copy of Holley’s book!
You can enter to win it below!

God bless!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Easy Peasy Boobie Squeezy!

I had my “one-year after diagnosis” mammogram on May 16th (one-year, give or take a few weeks).  Piece of cake, although I will admit that I was a tiny bit anxious but I’m guessing that’s normal.  It helps that at the Patricia L Scheifly Breast Health Center, they give you your results right away… no sitting at home and waiting!

I was able to sneak a picture of my mammo-pics (shhh…. don’t tell anyone).  The images on the top are of my first mammo last year with the cancer.  On the bottom are images of my cancer-free “cupcakes” now.  You can see that Frankenboob is a bit smaller after we got that stupid cancer out, but she’s doing great!!  All clear is what we like to hear!

Don’t forget to check your “cupcakes”, girls!! XOXO

Sunday, May 11, 2014

One Year Later

This was me, May 1, 2013, at my very first chemo session.  One year later, I was able to go spend a fabulous, creative (cancer-free) weekend with some of my best girls – some of the same girls that helped get me through the last year!! Feeling so thankful and SO BLESSED!!

I went for my 3-month check up with Doc Onc on the 5th.  He said that everything looked good. Had labs drawn.  I was complaining about feeling fatigued, so he checked my thyroid and iron levels – everything is normal.  Just going to have to make sure that I am getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water, eating right (ugh), and exercise.  I go in on the 16th for my mammogram.  Piece of cake!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Coffee Break - Strong Enough to Face Giants?

Last month, I spoke at WACC’s Coffee Break and shared about my breast cancer journey.  Thanks to a tech-savvy friend, I have FINALLY figured out how to get the video up and running here on my blog! 
So pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfy, and listen to my story.  I hope that you’ll be blessed because it was a blessing to be able to share!

Hair Update

I forgot to share my “hair update” that I posted on Facebook.
I don’t have much of a style yet, but it’s growing!! (No, it wasn’t curly before.)  I actually used the blow dryer and a little hairspray - first time in 11-months!

It TOTALLY reminds me of my Grandma’s hair!

I’m still thinking of things in relation to “this time last year”… this time last year I was getting my alien port installed.  This time last year I was having my node biopsy….  I’m sure that will fade as time goes by.  Going to see Doc Onc in 2 weeks for my check-up and I’ll be having a mammogram soon too.  Not gonna lie, I’m a teeny bit nervous.  I’ll let ya know who it goes!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014



Wow. It was a year ago, April 5th, that I heard the words, "It's cancer". I know that in time, my biggest milestones won't be measured against my cancer journey, but right now I'm just so thankful that I'm sitting here full of the love I've received from friends and family, the strength that I've received from my Heavenly Father, and oh so grateful for victory over breast cancer. What a year!!


Friday, February 28, 2014


Life can get pretty prickly sometimes.  Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the thorns.  But John 33:16 says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” (AMP).
How AWESOME is that??!! You don’t have to stay stuck by your situations or circumstances! There is ONE who is mightier than anything you could face and He'll get you through it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Normal

Lately, my big question has been, “Now what?”.  Now that I am on the road to “normal”, what it that supposed to look like?  It can’t be the same as it was B.C. (before cancer).  My new normal should count for something, right?  And then I realized, God is stretching me. Calling me to go outside of the safe little bubble that home had become over the last year and share, in person – flesh and blood.  Share my testimony, my ideas, my talents… come out from behind the computer screen.

I had accepted an invitation to speak at Whittier Area Community Church on March 19th and in preparing for that, I started to panic. Every time I would sit down to write out what I was going to say, I’d start to cry.  I would cry because I am still overwhelmed at all that God has done for me and His faithfulness through my breast cancer journey.  I worried that I wouldn’t be able to speak in front of everyone, that I would just sit there and cry like a baby (with that ugly cry-face).  It’s going to be a train wreck.

Next, I was asked to teach an art “class” at Madam Palooza in Murieta on April 12th.  I’ve never taught an art class before.  I’ve never come up with an original project that I thought people would want to learn to make.  I accepted anyway.  I posted my class and quickly began to doubt. No one is going to want to take my class.  The other teachers have lots of people signed up for their classes already.  This is going to be an embarrassment.

Where was all of this coming from?  Worry?  Doubt?  Fear?  Insecurity?  God had given me victory over those things before – BIG TIME, so why wouldn’t He now?  It was not an accident that I was asked to speak and teach.  It wasn’t a mistake either.  I’m supposed to get out there.  I may cry, but I’m sharing God’s glory while I do.  I may only have one or two people sign up for my class, but I’m going to make it the best class for those two people.  This is my time to shine, to “be a light and bring out the God-colors in the world,” (Matthew 5:14-16).  It’s time to be bold and be brave.  Maybe that’s exactly what my new normal looks like.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Radiation Re-Cap and Stuff

Last week of radiation and I realized that I haven't updated my blog since I started! So, I'm just gonna add some of my posts from Facebook to get everything caught up!
December 6th
Early zap session the morning so I have go have a weekend with my girls!!!! Woo-hoo!! Have a great one, y'all!!!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center

December 9th
Anyone else movin' S.L.O.W. this morning? Maybe getting zapped this AM will recharge my battery... a girl can hope anyway!! Happy Monday!!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.
Got a GREAT report from my radiation oncologist today!! He said that my skin is reacting to the radiation "way better than average" and that I am doing GREAT!! 18 sessions down and 17 more to go!! Over half-way done!!!!!!!
December 10 (From Jesus Calling)
 Make Me the focal point of your search for security. In your private thoughts, you are still trying to order your world so that it is predictable and feels safe. Not only is this an impossible goal, but it is also counterproductive to spiritual growth. When your private world feels unsteady and you grip My hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on Me.
 Instead of yea...rning for a problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence. In the darkness of adversity, you are able to see more clearly the radiance of My Face. Accept the value of problems in this life, considering them pure joy. Remember that you have an eternity of trouble-free living awaiting you in heaven.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
—Isaiah 41:10
 Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
—Psalm 139:10
 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.
—James 1:2

December 12th
Computers were down this morning when I got here, but it looks like they got them up and running!! I'm just gonna hang out and wait to get zapped! Happy Thursday!!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.
Still waiting, but my favorite zapper, Andrei, brought me a warm blanket to wrap up in while I wait.
They should really consider serving coffee and donuts here at radiation. Just sayin'......

December 16th
23rd radiation blast - DONE! 12 more to go. Starting to feel a little more fatigued than before, but nothing I can't handle and NOTHING like chemo fatigue!! Doc Y said that my skin looks so good that once I've recovered, you probably won't even be able to tell that I've had radiation. I like the sound of that!!

I met a sweet little lady this morning. She was there for her first session. I spoke with her daughter while she waited. They were both very nervous and the daughter cried a little. It felt good to be able to share with them and reassure them that the hard stuff was behind them. Looking forward to seeing her again tomorrow.

December 17th
Got to hug a super sweet lady today as she went in for her LAST zap! The joy in her smile was awesome!! Blessed to have been there!!

December 18th
Not the most convenient time of year for radiation fatigue to start setting in. Having a little trouble focusing on tasks and finishing them. The house is a mess. Need to get a few more decorations out of the garage. Shopping isn't done. Wanted to start doing some baking... Better add a few naps to that list. Oh well, I've still got a few more days to get things done!
And God was all, "Silly girl! Didn't I tell you that I'd give you what you need? Didn't we agree that you'd leave everything up to me? I haven't let you down yet, have I?"
And I was like, "I'm a dork and sometimes I need a little reminder. Thank you, loving and faithful Father."
December 20th
So, probably an over-share, but this is what I have seen every picture day (once a week) at radiation. At first I referred to it as "Frankenboob making shadow puppets" and then I started calling it "watching the sunrise" because as the panel would come up, it really was like watching the sun come up over the mountains! Just another one of my crazy observations!

Radiation Update: For the last 28 sessions, I've had full-breast radiation. They've been shooting photons into Frankenboob and into my armpit and lymph nodes from 3 different angles (photons go deeper into my body/tissue). One more session like that to go. Then probably on Tuesday, we'll start what they call "blast". I'll get zapped with photons from the back that are targeted at some more lymph nodes. They will also blast me with electrons (they only go just under the surface) that zero in on my incision site. This is to make sure that no microscopic villains got left behind when they were removing the bad stuff. We'll do it that way till Jan. 3rd. Sooooooo close to being DONE!!!!

December 21st (From Jesus Calling)
My plan for your life is unfolding before you. Sometimes the road you are traveling seems blocked, or it opens up so painfully slowly that you must hold yourself back. Then, when time is right, the way before you suddenly clears—through no effort of your own. What you have longed for and worked for I present to you freely, as pure gift. You feel awed by the ease with which I operate i...n the world, and you glimpse My Power and My Glory.
Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly. As you persevere along the path I have prepared for you, depending on My strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles—and you will. Miracles are not always visible to the naked eye, but those who live by faith can see them clearly. Living by faith, rather than sight, enables you to see My Glory.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
—Psalm 63:2
We live by faith, not by sight.
—2 Corinthians 5:7
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
—John 11:40

December 23rd
Gettin' it done folks, gettin' it done!!! Got to pray with my little friend this morning. If you think of it, please say a prayer for her too, she is weak and in a lot of pain, but we know that God is good!!! Happy Monday! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.

December 24th
'Twas the day before Christmas and I'm getting zapped!!! Thank you for your prayers! My little friend looked great today! Slow down and be blessed!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.

My nurses just LOVE me! They gave me a Christmas present.... orders to have labs drawn!! I think I'll wait til after Christmas to open that one!! Gee, thanks ladies!!
So.......... I might be having a bad hair day. Woo-hoo!!!! Finally!!!!!
December 25th
Feeling overwhelmed with gratitude as I sit here in the quiet of Christmas morning and reflect on the last year. God has been SO GOOD and I am so thankful for all of the love and support that has been showered upon me and my family. Thank you ALL for that gift!! We are truly blessed by YOU!!  
December 28th
It's 7:52 on this last Saturday morning of 2013, and I'm still sitting snuggled under the covers in my warm bed. I am thankful for two days off from radiation before hitting the home stretch of my last four treatments. I'm thankful for this quiet time to sit and reflect on the last year (and oh, what a year!), and to look forward to the new year. God's got something big in store, I just know it. ...I can feel it deep in my heart, way down in my core. Everything I've faced in 2013 wasn't for nothing. It was to prepare me for the amazing adventure ahead. I don't know what that is going to look like or even what that means, but I'm ready! I don't want to miss a single thing, a single moment, a single blessing, a single opportunity. Eyes wide open. Heart wide open. Arms wide open.
December 30th
Last Monday morning zap!!! Wow!! Time flies! Please pray for my little friend, she's experiencing terrible back pain and anxiety again and hasn't been able to sleep. I told her we'd be praying for her! Have a great day, y'all!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


So much to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving,
from my family to yours!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I started radiation this week.  Just wanted to post a little bit about my initial experience and thoughts.
On Nov. 1st, I had to go get "mapped out" for radiation. That basically means that they made a 3-D model of my boobs so they could "program" my radiation.  They laid me down, made marks on my chest with a red sharpie, put tape with a metal wire in it over the marks (and over my incision), ran me through a CAT scan, took pictures of my "girls" (I hope that wasn't his personal camera), and then gave me three dot tattoos (one on the outside of each cupcake, and one on my chest right between the girls).  Then it was up to Dr. K (my radiation oncologist) to make up a gameplan.
I went back in this last Monday (11/12), for a final test run.  This time they laid me down on the actual contraption where I would be getting the radiation.  There were more sharpie marks and graffiti added to my chest.  They used laser levels to line me up on the machine properly.  There I was, arms stretched out above my head, with green and red lasers criss-crossing my chest.  It looked like something from Mission Impossible and I half expected Tom Cruise to repel down from the ceiling over me - which would have REALLY upset me since I DO NOT like Mr. Cruise!  They ceiling by the way, has a beautiful mural of a lake surrounded by pine trees and snow covered mountains in the background.  It's nice, but the image makes you even colder while lying there exposed.  I would prefer a beach scene.  At least then I could pretend that I'm just there tanning!
So, once everything was lined up, they started taking x-rays of my chest (one can never have too many pictures)!  It's hard to explain, but Frankenboob was actually making shadow puppets during the process. I had to fight back the giggles - moving while on the treatment table is frowned upon.  I really do wish I could have gotten pictures of that though.  One more tattoo was added to Frankenboob and then I was all set to start treatment the next day.  Gotta admit, I was getting pretty nervous!
Now that I have my first session done, I can tell you that it wasn't bad!  It was painless and pretty quick.  The actual radiation part only took about 10 minutes. It took almost that long to get me on the table and everything lined up.  I was sure that after 35 of these zap-sessions, Frankenboob would glow in the dark but my mother in-law informs me that it will more than likely "sizzle" instead of glow (she's been through it, so she knows).  I was hoping for some kind of super power or fun party trick to come out of it, but I guess not.  It will be pretty unnerving if I start to detect the smell of bacon during treatment!
I've been told that I will probably experience fatigue towards the middle to end of my "therapy".  My skin will be sensitive one that side of my chest, back, underarm, side, shoulder and neck.  It could get a bit like a bad sunburn.  No deodorant or shaving that pit (yikes!! That could get ugly and I have to lay there with my arms above my head!?! Luckily, my head is turned slightly in the opposite direction!).  No perfume in that area.  Sensitive skin soap.  Pat the area dry.  No necklaces.  Lots of lotion (udder cream). They'd also like me to leave Frankenboob unbound as much a possible.  It's all about being kind and gentle to my skin during this process.  I'm sure it will all become part of my normal routine soon enough.
There you have it.  That's radiation so far.  #2 of 35 this afternoon. It's basically 5 zap-sessions a week for 7-weeks.  My last one is on January 2nd.  I'm kinda bummed because I was hoping to be done by New Year's, but holiday scheduling messed up that plan.  Oh well, onward!

Dr. T

I had my final surgical follow-up appointment with Dr. T on Nov.7th.
He gave me the "all clear" and was once again excited about how I've responded
to treatment and enthusiastic about my progress!  I'm pretty excited too!!
Thanks, Dr. T!! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween!

So, I went over to Disneyland for a Halloween lunch with my pal, Angie.  I REALLY missed going to have the caprese sandwich at the Jolly Holiday Bakery CafĂ© while I was on chemo (the whole couldn't have "raw" food at a restaurant thing was rough)!  Anyway.... there we were enjoying a delicious lunch and watching people walk by in there Halloween costumes.  It was great!!  When we were finished with lunch,we decided to walk over to another part of the park and pick up some pumpkin beignets (oh yum!).  On our way there, we passed one of those places that does caricature portraits.  I had seen one of Frankenstein and thought that it would be fun to have one of myself as the Bride of Frankenstein (being that I call my now cancer-free boob, Frankenboob - I know, I'm strange).  So, as we came around the corner, there they were, Frankenstein and his Bride! I knew that I had to do it!

I sat down in the chair as directed by Richard, the artist.  He was studying my profile and asked if I could move my hair back so he could get a better view of my forehead.  I offered to just take my hair off.  He was a bit startled but I could also tell he was curious.  I pulled off my wig and he commented on how much easier it was going to be now that he could REALLY see ME.  There I sat, dome exposed as he began to sketch.  As I sat there, I slowly realized that people were starting to stop and look – at me and at my portrait.  Then I started to panic.  What had I done??!!! I had taken my wig off in the middle of Disneyland!! That was not something I had planned on doing when I got up this morning, but it was definitely happening!
Posing for my portrait (a re-enactment with my wig on)!
After I had been sitting there for awhile, a woman who I had noticed had been watching my "show", came and stood in front of me. She leaned down, smiled and said, "My mom used to have to wear a wig and she would complain about how itchy and uncomfortable it was," and as she spoke, she placed a small Disneyland bag in my lap.  "So, this is for you," she said with tears starting to fill her eyes, "because you look like you're a real fighter." Then she quickly turned and walked away.  I was near speechless!  I reached into the bag and pulled out a sweet, pink, sparkly Mickey Mouse pin!  A stranger, who didn't know me from Eve, stopped to buy a gift for and encourage me. Overwhelmed, now with tears in my eyes.
A special gift.
After that, I didn't much care that I was sitting there "exposed".  Somehow, that word had taken on a new meaning.  Maybe I hadn't been "exposed" at all.  Perhaps it was God's power and love and grace that has been working in me - healing me, changing me, giving me "fight", that had been exposed. I don't know, but I do know that I was just thankful for once again experiencing God's love in an unexpected place, through an unexpected person.  What a blessing!

Me as The Bride of Frankenstein
So, this is my portrait.  I'm not sure how much she actually looks like me, but Richard was definitely proud of his work!  Oh, and I also ran into my sweet friend, Tanya and her family while I was at Disneyland.  Yet another new blessing in my life!  I'm telling you people, God IS good!

Friday, October 25, 2013

All Clear!!


Praise the Lord, THEY GOT IT ALL!!!! No more cancer in my cupcake!! We knew that I had responded well to chemo, but it was WAY better than we thought!! The tumor had shrunk down to a measly 1mm!!! My margins are clear (meaning no cancer cells were found at the outer edge of the tissue that was removed)! Dr. T was VERY happy with the results and I can't wait to see Doc Onc on the 4th to "celebrate" with him!! Bring on the radiation!!!
PS. I got a quick peek at Frankenboob's "scar". It wasn't too bad - one spot looked a bit chunky. Should look better by next week.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


When I started this journey, this day seemed so far away. Hard to believe it's already here!
In the changing room at the Breast Health Center.
No make-up was a pre-op requirement, yikes!
 I checked into the surgery ward at 6am on Thursday, October 17th.  They led me to my little cubby, made sure everything was in order, then put me in a van and took me to the Breast Health Center.  There I had an ultrasound assisted wire-localization or needle-localization.  It only hurt a little during the first couple lidocaine injections; after that, I didn't feel a thing.  The radiologist used an ultrasound as a guide and insert two very thin wires into the breast in the area of my cancer.  They did this so my surgeon could use the wires as a guide to find and remove the tumor.  A blue dye was also injected into the area to locate the tissue to be removed.  Just in case that wasn't enough, the radiologist also put a big X-Men "X" on my boob to mark the spot! (Of course I had to have a picture!  No one had ever asked to have a picture taken - leave it to me!) Then, I went for a quick mammogram - yet another picture.  After that, my two sweet nurses rode back over to surgery with me and left me with hugs and well wishes.
It was time to change into my Bair-Paws gown (it hooks up to a hose that blows warm air into your gown to keep you snug as a bug), and wait for my surgeon, Dr. Thompson (Dr. T).  When he finally arrived, we discussed the game plan, he initialed my boob, and shortly after that they wheeled me into the OR.
So pretty!
Now honestly, I was only awake in the OR for a few minutes so it is through second-hand information (what Dr. T told my Hubs while I was knocked out) that I can tell you what happened next.  Here goes....
Dr. T "went in" and removed what was left of the tumor and some surrounding tissue as guided by the wires and blue dye. He then sent it pathology.  They x-rayed it and suggested that he remove just a bit more to be "safe".  So, that's what he did.  Then he stitched me back up.  At some point during my "nap" he also removed my alien port.  Next thing I know, I'm in recovery - groggy, with the shivers and a dry, sore throat.  I stayed there for a bit and the nurse gave me some kind of injection for the shivers (side effect of the gas they gave me), fed me ice chips, took my vitals, and put this fun band around my right wrist (don't know why, but it made me laugh).

I finally got wheeled back to my original cubby and waited for the Hubs and to be released.  Of course, they wanted me to eat something and "void" before they would let me go.  No prob!  Bring on the chicken noodle soup, crackers, and cranberry juice!!  I took care of business, got dressed and was on my way home!!!

There was very little pain.  The incision from my port hurt way more than Frankenboob.  "Frank" was all bandaged up, so I had no idea what was waiting for me under all the gauze.  At that point, I wasn't really sure if I wanted to know what was under there.  Sleep, sleep, and more sleep followed.
The morning after.
It's been almost a week since surgery and I'm doing pretty well.  There has been very little pain at all.  I took the bandages of but there is still tape over everything so it's hard to see any gore.  That will most likely be revealed tomorrow at my post-op visit.  I'm hoping that my pathology report will be back by then too. Can't wait to hear the words, "We got it all!".  Oh, the cultures from my labs before surgery revealed some kind of infection, so I've been on heavy duty antibiotics all week.  Looking forward to being done with those - they make me nauseous (something chemo didn't even do!).

On a side note (that term is both funny and ironic to me right now), I know it's too early to really tell and things will be changing over the next few months, but Dr. T was NOT kidding when he warned that my "headlights wouldn't be even".  Frankenboob is higher than her twin and has a wandering eye - looks to the right.  Oh well, I'm just glad she's still here and has her "eye"!

Well, that's about it.  Thanks again for all the prayers, support, flowers, and gifts!  Can't tell you how much you all mean to me!!  Up next: RADIATION!!