Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Final Thank you's - Party for Pottebaum

Thank you for your ca$h donations!

Scott and Ruth Schneider

Scott and Julie Schwickerath
John and Julianne Spatz
Pam Sloan
Nate and Jody Tate
Brad and Heather Traynor
Kathryn VanDerWerff
Shannon Wallace
Bill and Jayne Westering
Tom and Deanna Wolf

Steve, Olivia and I can't say thank you enough for your generosity and kindness.  We are putting all the money raised to suppliment my income until I go back to work and all my medical expenses. 

Party for Pottebaum - THANK YOU!

Thank you for your ca$h donations!

Jared and Kimberly Hollinger

Mark and Molly Hunter
Joe and Barb Jackson
Robert and Katherine Johnson
Fatima and Farhan Khan
Stephan and Michelle Lichter
Paul Ludacka (Northwestern Mutual)
Barb and Jim O'Brien
Joe and Nancy Pawlowski
Terry and Pam Penke
Marcy Rabe
Nolan and Emmy Reilly
Jeff and Kathi Scherzberg


Steve, Olivia and I can't say thank you enough for your generosity and kindness.  We are putting all the money raised to suppliment my income until I go back to work and all my medical expenses.

Party for Pottebaum / Thank you for your donation!

So many more thank you's I need to acknowledge.  Thank you so much for your generous cash donations!

Justin and Amanda Albright
John and Joan Allen
Diana Anderson
Pete and Kaye Bataillon
B.J. and Colleen Ballard
Ron and Jan Brown
Ardean and Julie Buller
Dave and Shannon Butler
Will and Jennifer Champion
Derek Clark and Gina DePaul
Rosy Conrad
Joe and Sharon Cooney
Tyler and Rachel Cotton
MJ Doll
Don and Darlene Frank
Emily Gardels and Nick
Allyn and Butch Harper
Tim and Traci Harrison
Kevin and Denise Havlovic

Steve, Olivia and I can't say thank you enough for your generosity and kindness.  We are putting all the money raised to suppliment my income until I go back to work and all my medical expenses.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm Done!!! (with treatments)

After 33 treatments of radiation I am finished with all my cancer treatments! My spirits have been up, then down and now they are back up.  I have learned that when going through cancer treatment I had to get rid of all the toxins in my life.  In my case, it was one person I was surrounding myself with on a daily basis.  I know that now more then ever in order to be a cancer survivor I need only positive people in my life.  It took only this one negative person to suck the life out of me and no joke I could feel the pain in my body.  To snap out of my funk I decided to re-read my blog to remember all the good things that have happened this year.  I learned from myself and from all of you that I should only focus on the positive things in life and to distance myself from all negativity moving forward. 

How wonderful this year has been!  You have been there with me and my family from the beginning and we are extremely blessed with your love, friendship, gifts and donations to help get us through.  Today, I started to tear up on my drive to my treatment because I got my strength to fight my long battle from all of you.  Your encouraging words and prayers has helped more then you will ever know.  I hope in 5, 10, 15 plus years I can say that I am cancer free!  Olivia and I made a wish at the water fall at Midwest Cancer Center that I and nana (my mom) will be cancer free forever.

Olivia getting ready to make a wish!

My mother had her surgery to have her ovaries taken out two weeks ago from today.  This was to prevent ovarian cancer in the future.  She is recovering well and she came out with me today for lunch to celebrate.  Thank you for all that you do mom!  Love you!

As for me...I will have follow up appointments and body scans on a monthly basis.  My final surgery to get my implants for my ta ta's will be in 2-3 months.  My right hand is slowly healing but my index and middle fingers are still numb.  The burns from radiation are visible and will get worse in the next week or two.  The good hair is coming back in and it is black!  My eyelashes and eyebrows are coming in and they are thick!

I want to do a few shout outs!

Steve and I went back to his home town of Remsen to celebrate his grandma's 100th birthday over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Her actual birthday was yesterday.  Happy Birthday Verena!

Congratulations to my cousin Leah and her husband Chad.  They had their baby girl Leona Lea on November 28th! 

Isn't she adorable?

I think I am going to have my first glass of wine in over 9 months and celebrate tonight with my husband Steve and daughter Olivia.  Cheers!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Party for Pottebaum - More Thank You's!

Stacy Nelson and Me
Crystal Crowley, Colin Hogan and Megan Misterek
I have known Colin and Megan since elementary school.
Kelly and Jeremy Robson
They just had twin boys in March...
doesn't Kelly look great?!
Kelly Robson and Gretchen Chace
I have known this ladies since Jr. High and we
are still great friends today!
Me, Crystal Crowley and Emily Gardels
Crystal and her husband donated food from their restaurant
HuHot Mongolian Grill and Crystal used her talents decorating the entire place!
One of my best friends Emily Gardels and her boyfriend Nick
flew in from Chicago.  Emily donated A LOT of
the auction items...she works at Macy's in Chicago
so she got some GOOD STUFF!

Gretchen and Jeff Chace...
They just had a baby Boy October 24!
Welcome to the world Jack Andrew =)
Megan Misterek and Mike Livesay
Me and Lori Armiger
 Thank you again for coming out to support us!  We are so fortunate to have such great friends!=)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Chemo Port is Out! / Update on my Mom

It has been a while since I last wrote but things in my life are changing and moving so quickly I haven't had a chance to write. I started radiation treatment on Tuesday, November 1st. Since then I have had radiation treatments Monday - Friday and I am now on #12 starting today. Once I am checked in and the radiation specialists (Emily, Brandon and Misti) have me in the correct (uncomfortable) position the actual treatment lasts a whole whopping 4 minutes! Piece of cake! I would take radiation over chemo any day! They place me on my back with my left arm up and around my head. My head is twisted to the right and up so the radiation can hit me at just the area they need to treat. I have a total of 33 treatments so my last treatment should be on December 19th or 20th depending if I get treatment the day after Thanksgiving.

We celebrated Halloween with my parents, my sister and her kids and lots of friends. This is the second year we went on a hay rack ride around the neighborhood while we went trick or treating. Olivia had so much fun...not just collecting candy but ringing door bells! She would get so upset if the "big kids" rang the door bell before she did so Steve we had to take her to houses by herself so she could ring the door bell on her own. One lady was so nice to go back in her house, shut the door and let Olivia re-ring her bell.

We also celebrated my mom's birthday on the 25th of October and my dad's birthday on November 12th. My mom is getting her last Ta Ta fill today! She is having her ovaries removed this month so her risk of ovarian cancer is 0%, if she left them in her chances of ovarian sky rocket to 87%. Other then that she is doing fantastic. My mom and I should have our final surgeries after the new year. My mom will go in January and I will go in March or April.

I got my chemo port removed in an out patient surgery yesterday. The procedure took an hour and I was awake and talking to Dr. Grange the entire time. Last night I had a some discomfort but nothing I can't handle. Over the course of 8 months I have experienced worse! My right hand is slowly healing and I am typing with it which is a first. I am working to rehabilitate my right hand to full function and meeting with a lymphedema specialist on my left arm to get full range of motion back. I have to do this in order to start working out like I use to...with weights. I have to take baby steps to get back to where I was and need to be extra careful so I don't get lymphedemia. For those of you who don't know what lymphedemia is a quick lesson. When I had my mastectomy the cancer spread to 27 out of 30 of my lymph nodes which are located under my arm.

Clear fluid that travels through your body's arteries, circulates through your tissues to cleanse them and keep them firm, and then drains away through the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes are the filters along the lymphatic system. Their job is to filter out and trap bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, and other unwanted substances, and to make sure they are safely eliminated from the body.

Also traveling through the arteries is fresh blood, which brings oxygen and other nutrients to all parts of the body—including your breasts. Used blood leaves the breasts through the veins and is pumped back to the heart and lungs to be refreshed. Lymph must also be refreshed and recycled. Lymph drains away from your breasts through the lymphatic system, which is made up of lymphatic channels and lymph nodes.

Because I only have 3 lymph nodes left they are doing the job for 30. If the 3 that I have left fail then I will get Lymphedema in my arm. Fluid will fail to go out and through my body and sit in my left arm. If it sits to long then toxins build up and my arm would blow up like a balloon. I will never let it get to that point but if it did I would need to buy a compression sleeve to move the fluid back out.

I have also been working on my non-profit and went to pitch my idea to a marketing company. They thought it was such a great idea they think it could be a business and a non-profit. Because nutrition effects everyone I could help more than just cancer patients. So instead of writing this blog I have been brainstorming, writing and re-writing a business plan. They want to get investors to help me with my vision. This is not something I had in mind but definitely something that is lacking in Omaha and the United States. For some reason everything keeps falling in to place and has been so easy!

Another sign pointing me in this unplanned direction, my video equipment broke. I edited and burned my final video last week. I had one more planned for this coming week but the Apple store can't fix my computer. It is a sign to me that I need to focus 100% on my new idea! Before cancer, I would have been so upset, but now I feel I am being pushed in to a completely different direction for a reason. I feel as if I can help so many more people and will feel completely satisfied at the same time. Weird, since a year ago at this time I have it written in my journal for God to give me a clear path for my career. Before cancer I never would have gone this direction but now it makes sense.

Thank you again to all my friends and family for all your love and support! We are on the home stretch and we couldn't have gotten this far with out you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I am done with Chemo!!!!

I am happy to report after 5 months, 16 sessions and countless hours,  I finished my last chemotherapy session this afternoon at 4:40 p.m.!!! Yay! I have not been this excited in years. To know that the worst is over and I only have radiation and one more surgery left puts a HUGE smile on my face. Normally I need to take a nap after chemo (because the drugs they give me before the chemo knocks me out) but today I can't sleep. I want to celebrate! I could not have gotten through chemo without the love and support from all my family and friends. Chemo drivers...THANK YOU so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to take me to and from chemo. You know who you are!  My advice to anyone going through chemo:  If you are fortunate enough to have the love and support of friends and family ask them to be your chemo driver.  It was so hard to go out of the house after chemo sessions because of fatigue, nausea and the fear of getting sick.  Because I had a new chemo driver every week I got to see friends I hadn't seen in a while.  Instead of dreading chemo, I looked forward to it because I knew I would get to hang out with friends and family.  I do have to give a special shout out to three people:

Chemo Session #15- October 8, 2011
Deb Bothof took me to a few chemos and stopped by my house every week to see how I was doing.

Chemo Session #15 - October 8, 2011
Lyndsey Foster signed up for my second chemo session but came to 14 sessions!
There is one thing that I learned about Deb and Lyndsey...they are caretakers and all they wanted to do is take care of me.  I never expected them to go above and beyond but that is who they are as people, kind, loving and generous....angels sent,  to get me through chemo. =)  Love you both! 

Chemo Session #15 - October 8, 2011
My mom - Doesn't she look great?!
My mom has been there for me since day one of diagnosis. 
She watched the kids when I couldn't up until she was diagnosed with
cancer.  We talk on a daily basis and she is doing fantastic!
 Maybe our twins (aka: our ta ta's) will be born in the same month?
I will have 33 radiation treatments (Monday - Friday for 6 1/2 weeks) that will start on Halloween. The side effects do not compare to chemo so it will be a breeze! These past two weeks have been busy. I am working on a business plan for my non-profit organization.  "Auntie Em's Angels" will educate cancer patients on the importance of eating healthy and exercising during and after cancer treatment. I want to create awareness for everyone to prevent cancer. What you put in your body and how you take care of yourself can and will prevent cancer from starting in the first place.

I met with Tonee Gay, Executive Director with Midlands Community Foundation and we will be partners. They take care of the accounting and some of the marketing pieces and I can focus on fundraising and creating the programs that need to be in place. Hopefully I will have the website up in the next few weeks so you can see what we are doing! =)  My friend Lyndsey Foster is going to help develop some of the programs too!  I am looking forward to my new journey and hope to help as many people as I can! =)

Here are more pics from the past couple of weeks.

My sister added to her family!
Meet Lulu, isn't she cute?
She is a maltese / yorkie

Komen Walk - with my nieces and nephews
Cullen, Avery, Sully and Addison

My sister Angie with the kids

My general surgeon was there...Dr.Grange
I was suppose to be at a breakfast the day before for cancer survivors
I missed it and Dr. Grange informed me that I won $150 Gift Certificate
to a clothing boutique...but I had to be present to win....=(
Darn it!  I shouldn't have slept in!

My friend Sasha ran while I walked around the venue.
Sasha runs for her Aunt every year who passed away from breast cancer 2 years ago.

Vala's Pumpkin patch
Paxton and Olivia

Me, Olivia and Steve

Travis, Paxton, Olivia and Michelle

Thank you to my Aunt Vicki for the new cup and nail polish!

Thank you to the nurses of Midlands Cancer Center!

MY LAST CHEMO SESSION - #16 is my new favorite number!
Lyndsey, me, Deb and Steve

Thank you to my husband Steve for taking care of me and Olivia, you do such a great job and I could not get through this without you.

Thank you to all our friends and family for your love and support - We are truly blessed!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Chemo 13 & 14 / Thank you Party for Pottebaum

Update on my mom
My mom has been doing very well since her surgery on September 7th.  She got her drains taken out last week which allowed her to take a shower!  She said she was so excited she takes a long one everyday now.  =)  She still has stitches so she can't raise her arms very high, lift heavy objects or drive.  We are hoping the stitches will come out in 2-3 weeks.  She had her second fill for her ta ta's this week.  When this is all said and done we will have two sets of twins in the family for the new year!  My mom and I will both have B cups.  I am excited because I will have bigger ta ta's and my mom is excited because she will have smaller ta ta's!  It is a win win for both us!

She met with Dr. Thome this week and she will not need chemotherapy or radiation but is having an ultrasound on her ovaries.  Because she has a mutation and given her age the chances of getting ovarian cancer are extremely high, 87%!  So the next step for my mom is to have her ovaries removed in the next couple of months.

As for me I have 2 more chemo treatments to go!  Yay!

Last week's treatment (#13) a friend of mine that I met in college took me to my chemo treatment.  Laura Morrow and I enjoyed a couple of spring breaks together in Cancun and Myrtle Beach.  We spent a lot of time together in college and still get together to hang out and catch up.  Ironically, Laura is an accountant and had some very helpful suggestions on getting my Auntie Em's Angels charity launched. 

Me and Laura
Thank you for taking me to chemo, your advice and for the Eileen's cookies!  They were delicious!

My friend Lyndsey stopped out as well and we all had a brainstorming session for Auntie Em's Angels. We narrowed our focus to just helping cancer patients and different ways Auntie Em's Angels could make an impact in their life.  Thank you for your suggestions and input! =) 

I met with a long time friend of mine Alex Wolf who is an attorney at Koley Jessen.  He pointed me in the right direction to help set up Auntie Em's Angels as a non-profit.  I am still brainstorming and hope to have a clear mission statement in the next couple of weeks.  I am praying to have a few corporate sponsors as I have narrowed it down to educating the public on proper nutrition and exercise to prevent cancer, for cancer patients going through treatment and staying healthy after treatment.  My goal is to have everything planned, non-profit paper work complete, sponsers, fundraising events planned and Angels signed up to host birthday parties by the New Year! 

Chemo #14 -- September 29 - Steve my husband took me to my treatment.  It was his birthday so we had a mini celebration with all the nurses and cancer patients that were also getting their chemo treatments.  My friend Lyndsey asked her mother-in-law to bake a cake and was it was delicious!  Cinnamon swirl...YUMMY!  Thank you Karen for making it and thank you Lyndsey for delivering, cutting and serving!  If you need a baker I will post Karen's information if you need a cake for your next birthday party.

The nurses gave Steve this stylish hat and sang
happy birthday to him. Thank you to the nurses
of Midwest Cancer Center for making his birthday
so special.

I think we put a dent in it! 

Thank you to my husband Steve who has been there every step of the way.  He has been so supportive and has taken such good care of me and Olivia.  I could not get through this without him. 
I love you more then words can say...

My side effects from chemo are minimal.  I am tired more then usual and now the knuckles on my hands are red and cracked.  Dr. Thome said this will go away once I stop chemo as it is a common side effect.  Thank goodness I only have two more treatments I can't stand to look at them for much longer!  I have ONE eye lash on my left eye and no eyelashes on my right eye.  I am holding on to the one eyelash as long as I can and hoping my other lashes can catch up to it once I am finished with chemo.  My hair is starting to grow back and I am happy to report it is the same dark brown that I had before. I have one more fill for my ta ta's before I start radiation and I LOVE them so far!  I officially for the first time in my life have ta ta's you can physically see!  Radiation should start around November 1st and treatments are everyday for 5 weeks.  Once that is complete I wait a month and have my final surgery in January.  This will be to take out the expanders in my chest and have them replaced with implants.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I am running towards it!  Thank you again to all our family and friends for all your love and support!

More pics from Party for Pottebaum!   Thank you for coming out to support us!

Lori Armiger, Laura Morrow and their friend.
Lori started a fun event in Linclon called
Giving Spirits.  Become their friend on Facebook!

Jody and Nate Tate
Shannon Schiltz  and Sara Thompson
I have known Sara since kindergarten...ironically she is
now a kindergarten teacher.  She brought her friend
Shannon to the event.  Thank you!

Sherri Harnisch, Leah Buller, Emily Wilson
Leah is my cousin and she went to high school with Sherri
and was in the same sorority as Emily. 

Sherri Harnish, Leah Buller, Kirstin Ricketts, Tammy Braasch
Emily Wilson, Me, Nelly Sagehorn
I also met these lovely ladies through my cousin Leah.
Congrats to Leah, Kirstin and Nelly!  They are all
expecting babies this year!
Brent Sagehorn, Chad Buller, Adam Braasch

Pat Ricketts and Chad Buller
Megan Dannelly and Kendra Hayne
I went to high school with Kendra and met her friend Megan.
I also found out we all live in the same neighborhood!
Hopefully we can get together soon! =)
Nicki and Neal McMahon
Nicki and I met in high school and she recently moved back
to the Omaha area.  She owns Big Frog T-Shirts located
next to the HyVee on 180th and Q.  They were one of the
sponsors for the event!  Thank you so much!

Erica and Patrick Sullivan
Erica and I were on dance team together.  She was so kind to
drive in from Lincoln for the event!  Thank you! =)

Thanks again for all your love and support! xoxo

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Introducing Auntie Em's Angels

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My friends Lyndsey and Jerid Foster had a birthday party for their daughter Alexa.

This is Alexa

Five years ago, when Jerid and Lyndsey had their first daughter Haili, (December 1, 2005) they didn't want to have too many unnecessary gifts with her birthday being so close to Christmas. To celebrate her birthday they had her friends donate to the charity of their choice and she received gifts from just family. Jerid and Lyndsey's second daughter Alexa was born September 15, 2008. For Alexa's first two birthdays they chose the charity Susan G. Komen because Jerid's aunt had been diagnosed with breast cancer and lost her battle December 13, 2007.

They were so kind to choose me this year to help pay for my medical expenses. Alexa raised $575.00 and was so excited to call and tell me over the phone. It felt like I was touched by an angel. I decided in that moment I was going to pay it forward and match children, teens and adults to host birthday parties with patients who need help paying their medical bills.

Thank you to all the friends and family who donated and to Jerid, Lyndsey, Haili and Alexa Foster! You inspired me to start Auntie Em's Angels whose birthday is the same as Alexa's, September 15, 2011. Alexa is my first angel to start my new mission in life which I predict will be a success.

CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE!  It is a work in progress but I hope to have it looking pretty in a few months...hopefully before the new year!

Jerid's mom makes beautiful and yummy cakes!

Jerid and Alexa

Lyndsey and Alexa

Alexa with her sister Haili

This is the doll I gave her...ironically named Emily =)
Happy 3rd Birthday Alexa!
You truly are an Angel =)