Note: You will want to mute the music below prior to watching the videos.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

The past two days I have been trying to heal from my surgery. I have been REALLY sore - more than I expected. In fact, this surgery has been much more painful than my mastectomy. I do feel better today than I have the past two days. I came out of surgery wearing a very stylish bra that I am lucky enough to get to wear 24 hours a day for another week. Ugh. I will say that it is holding everything together very nicely.

This morning I got to see my new friends for the first time. I have to say I am very impressed. When I got home I was a little worried that I looked flat. Now that I have taken the guaze off, I can honestly say that I am pleased. My mom called me a couple of days ago advising me not to post any pics of my new friends on the blog. Don't worry mom, the thought of doing that had not even crossed my mind, although I know some of you out there are curious! I have to say the best part of it all is that my breast now feel like.......breast! No more cannon balls! I am looking forward to buying some new bras and some new clothes in the coming weeks!

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve. I had never really thought much about New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. However, this year really symbolizes a new beginning. 2009 will be a year to remember for different reasons! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The FINAL Chapter......Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009!!

Well, I finally made it. December 29Th.......a day that I have been anxiously waiting for. This morning I will have surgery to replace my tissue expanders with implants. For those of you who have been keeping up with my blog, you know that I have not been a fan of the tissue expanders. First of all, they are rock hard.....and I am not kidding! Second, they have made my newly formed breasts very uneven. The purpose of the tissue expanders is to stretch the skin and that is about it. So, for more than five months I have walked around with what feels like cannon balls on my chest, absolutely no cleavage, and two "breasts" that are somewhat disfigured. However, today is a new day! I'm not exactly sure how long the procedure will take, but my plastic surgeon will remove the expanders, clean out all the scar tissue, hopefully create some cleavage (can you believe they can do that?) and then slip in some nice silicone implants. In addition, he is also going to remove my port. This is almost as exciting as getting new boobs. My port represents the beginning of this journey. It was the first thing I had put in just a few weeks after my diagnosis. It was used at every chemo treatment. Today, I get to kiss it goodbye.

I am so happy to be able to close out 2008 by having this surgery before the New Year. 2008 was not a very good year for our family or for many of our friends. Yesterday morning at church, Pastor Curt gave a sermon on being thankful. He explained how we are to be thankful in all of our circumstances, not just those that go our way. I have not been perfect by any stretch of the imagination, however, I have tried my best to be thankful for what God has done for me. I often think of all the prayers he has answered and am amazed by His graciousness and mercy. Yesterday Ryan and I were talking how in the midst of all the grief, pain, uncertainty, and doubt, that God continued to pull us through and ultimately made things easy for us. Please don't think for a second that the past 6 months were a walk in the park. However, because of our relationship with God and all the people praying for us, we were able to make it through this journey with our heads held high and with an end in sight. Praise God!

December 29Th has always been a significant day in our house. Ryan and I were married 7 years ago today. We could NEVER have imagined what our 7Th year of marriage would bring. Nor, could we ever have imagined that on our 7Th wedding anniversary I would be getting implants. (Happy Anniversary Ryan!) In addition to our anniversary, our daughter Charley is 2 1/2 today. I was diagnosed two weeks before her second birthday. To think that she is 2 1/2 today is just another reminder of how quickly the past six months have gone by. I am looking forward to being the mother and wife I was before my diagnosis....only better!

In closing, I am going to paste an older post below. This was the post that I did the morning before I went to the hospital for my bilateral mastectomy on July 16Th. That was a hard day, but also the day I became cancer free. When I left the hospital two days later, I still had a four months of chemotherapy ahead of me. Tonight when I leave the hospital, I have life ahead of me. I hope those of you who have continued to follow this blog have found yourself inspired. I hope you have found encouragement in the midst of your own trials. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. ~ God Bless ~

Blog Entry: July 16Th 2008

Would you believe that I actually slept for about 4 hours last night? God was gracious in giving me at least that much sleep. I did wake up a little earlier than I had hoped, but now I am able to squeeze one more post in before heading to the hospital. This is it. Today God is taking this awful cancer from my body and I am faithful that I will never have to worry about cancer again. Thank you Lord.

Most of you know my husband Ryan, but for those of you who do not, let me tell you that he is the most compassionate and loving man I know. Yesterday, he sent me an email that really portrays who he is as a person. I wanted to share it with all of you so you would know the strength and encouragement that I am so very fortunate to have from Ryan. Here is the email that he sent me:

"Mel, you are more than a conqueror! You are guided by cannot lose....He battles for you! Be comforted, accept the peace He offers you through this journey...its yours for the taking.

I, along with our entire family, are backing you up 100%!!

Thank you for what you are doing about this breast cancer...THANK YOU!!! I can't wait to see the look on Charley's face one of these days when she realizes how much her Mommy loves her!!! That will be a great day!

Stay strong, there are many people who are relying on you right now. As for Charley and I, no worries, no drama.....just know we love you and will be by your side for every moment of this! We look forward to NOON tomorrow....cancer free."

Lord, thank you for Ryan. Thank you for giving me such a loving husband who stands firm in his faith and sees the goodness you are bringing to our family through this unfortunate circumstance. We know that this is all a part of your perfect plan for my life. Lord, be with me this morning. Take every ounce of this cancer from my body. I pray that the cancer would still be contained to the breast. Be with Dr. Cavagnol and Dr. Geter as you use them to heal me and make me whole. Be their hands and comfort them as they work on me. Bring me strength and healing Lord. Let this be a day of celebration as you heal me from cancer. Allow peace to overcome fear and perseverance to overcome doubts. God you are so good. I love you. Continue to use me to further you kingdom. Amen.

Time to be CANCER FREE!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I cannot believe that Christmas is only two days away. I have to admit that Christmas caught me totally off guard this year. The past six months have been crazy, to say the least, and I just wasn't prepared like I should have been. I spent last weekend Christmas shopping, frantically shopping at Walmart yesterday for my baking ingredients, and I will spend all day today making a load of cookies. As crazy as shopping was this past weekend, it was a wonderful feeling to look around at all the hustle and bustle and to be a part of it. In years past, I would have NEVER gone out the weekend before Christmas to do my shopping. However, it didn't bother me this year. I loved knowing that I was alive and healthy and so happy that I could be a part of all the holiday frenzy. I am looking forward to the coming days and spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family. We all have so much to be thankful for this year!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Waiting Patiently

Two weeks from today I will have surgery to replace my extremely uncomfortable expanders with nice, soft, silicone implants. Tomorrow will mark 5 months since my bilateral mastectomy. That is so hard to believe. That same day I had my expanders put in and have been uncomfortable since. I can't tell you how much I am looking foward to getting them removed. December 29th will be the final chapter of this journey. I will continue to see Dr. Ellis throughout 2009. Although some days are harder than others, I am believing that I have forever been healed from cancer. I continue to pray everyday that God would show me how to use what I have been through to touch the lives of others. I will continue to listen and wait patiently. I know God will open that door when He is ready.

Now that I am feeling better and moving on with my life, I am trying to make the necessary choices to ensure a future without cancer. However, eating right and exercising (or just finding the time to do so) does not always come easy for me. I would appreciate your prayers in regards to this matter. I want nothing more than to take the life and body that God has so graciously blessed me with a second time, and honor and glorify Him. Doing this requires me to be less selfish with my time and more obedient in what He wants for my life. I want to do EVERYTHING I know how to live the rest of my life cancer FREE! Happy Holidays and God Bless!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Living a "Normal" Life

Hello Everyone! Last night as I was scrolling through different blogs, I realized that I had not updated mine since my last chemo treatment! This made me realize two things: 1) My life the past two weeks has resumed to almost the way it was before I was diagnosed with cancer. Since my last treatment, I have felt better and better each day. 2)Not updating the blog means that I have been spending less time on the computer and more time with Charley and Ryan, out and about. What a wonderful thing! I would normally be gearing up for another treatment this week and not having to plan a trip to St. Louis is a little odd, but I'm not complaining.

Ryan did have to give me the Neulasta shot last time and that has contributed to some bone pain, particularly in my lower back. I still have tremendous pain there occasionally. I know it is a side effect of the Taxol and that the Neulasta only magnifies that pain. The pain is getting better with each day and if this is the only lasting side effect, I am blessed!

I would ask for those of you reading this to pray for my friend, Mary, in New York. As many of you know, we were diagnosed at about the same time, and have undergone our surgeries and treatments at the same time. We met through my blog and have been great companions for each other through all of this. Mary is having her reconstruction surgery tomorrow along with a hysterectomy and her ovaries removed. Please pray that she would have a quick and speedy recovery and that the surgery would go smoothly.

I hope you are all having a blessed December!