Monday, May 23, 2011

My 21st Birthday was much worse...Chemotherapy will be a breeze!

Sunday May 15, 2011

Our good friends Michelle and Travis baptized their son Paxton!
Olivia had to get in the photo...she thinks Travis is her boyfriend.
The week before my first chemotherapy session I wanted life to be back to normal as possible.  Avery and Addison have their dance recital on June 4th but had rehearsals this week.  Don't they look so cute?

Addison and Avery with the Auntie Em special

Olivia wore her Dora ballerina outfit..she thinks she is going
to be in the dance recital bad she will have to wait 2 more years. :)

Here are all the little munchkins!
Thursday May 19, 2011
1:45 p.m.
Midwest Cancer Center
Me and Steve
Steve took me to my first chemo treatment.  We met with my nurse navigator Nicole and Dr. Thome.  Then I was introduced to my nurses Ethel and Darcy.  Loved Them! They explained everything that was going in to my body and what effects it will have on me.

I watched Oprah and ironically it was about a mother who passed away from breast cancer.  She made hundreds of video tapes for her daughter to watch over the course of her life.  Ethel started tearing up and said "This will not be you!"  Duh!  I know that!  =)  Ethel is such a sweetheart.

After my first treatment I stopped off on Lillian street to say hello to some friends.

Nicki and Brea!
Brea - Thank you for my new plant!  It is out on my deck blooming beautifully! =)

I was expecting to relive the day after my 21st birthday after my first chemo treatment.  If you were with me that night I had a fantastic time but when midnight hit, so did my head...directly on to the table.  My friends hauled me off to go back home to recover.  Let's just say the next four days after my 21st birthday SUCKED.  I was hugging the porcelain God (aka toilet)  and could barely lift my head.

I did not experience anything close to my 21st birthday after my first chemotherapy treatment.  A little nausea and fatigue.  I have definitely felt I will get through my chemo treatments.  Ironically, today is my Birthday and I feel much better then I did on my 21st birthday. The only things that are sitting well with me are yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, Chocolate Ensure, BLT's, frozen fruit sticks and apple juice.

Thank you to:

my husband Steve who took care of me and Olivia all weekend.  Steve has been there with me since the beginning and reminds me daily he will be there with me to the end.  Steve has been doing both our jobs and I have never once heard him complain.  It is extremely hard, but I try to model myself after Steve on a daily basis..he makes me want to be a better person.  I LOVE YOU MORE THEN WORDS CAN SAY! =)

my mother and father for helping out with the kids and my birthday present.  Mom, Thank you will never be enough for all the time you have generously donated to taking care of the kids.  Dad, Thank you for being the designated driver to and from events.  I LOVE YOU!!!

my aunt Patty for another generous cash donation...THANK YOU!

my mother and father-in-law for my birthday gift.

My God mother Linda and her husband Wendell Quist for the Carrabba's gift card.

Bruce and Betty Bode for the fabulous meals!  We all LOVED your spaghetti with meatballs.  It was so good our friend Travis joined us for dinner.

Dancing after dinner!

Kathi and Sabrina Scherzberg for the chicken casserole.  Steve loved it!  I didn't try it...only to save my stomach.  I had to stick to the Sierra Mist you brought.;)  It was nice meeting Sabrina. We need to get the girls together for a play date this summer.

Emily Gardels for the Pink Flamingo...(see below)

Ikaika is in Hawaii right now with Emily (Gardels) and her boyfriend Nick.
This is Ikaika the breast cancer flamingo. I found her in the dollar section at Target:) and thought it would be fun to send her around the country to different friends. I thought it would be something fun to do while Emily is going through treatment, so she knows we are all thinking about her! So, if Ikaika comes to you please take her out and do something fun with her. Take pictures, send them to Em or post them and then send Ikaika along to Emily's other friends and family. I chose the name Ikaika because it means Strength in Hawaiian. Love you EM!!!

How Fun!  Thanks Emily!  I can't wait to take Ikaika on a trip with me once I am done with my treatments.

Crystal - for bringing over chemo friendly food.  Love the rice with chicken broth. 

My aunt Patty and aunt Vicky for the lovely flowers

Ruth for the beautiful flowers for my birthday and my favorite cookies!

My aunt Linde and uncle Terry for the Barnes and Noble gift card and the chicken noodle soup. It is in the freezer ready for chemo #2.

Sasha for the adorable picture of me and my God daughter.

My cousin Leah, Chad and Charlie for the beautiful bracelet from the Chocolate Peacock.

Leah and I have celebrated our birthdays together since I was three years old.  Leah's birthday is May 22nd and mine is the 23rd.  Leah had a birthday party this weekend I had to miss.  Next year we will celebrate all night!  I would also like to congratulate Leah, Chad and Charlie as they will be adding to their family in November.  Yay!  Something else for me to look forward to!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Thank You's

I just can't get over how generous people are.  I have more thank you's!


Barb Panzer for the generous cash donation.

My Mother-in-law Annette who sent me a prayer shawl.

Pam Sloan for the generous cash donation.

My Aunt Vicky and Uncle Denny for the generous cash donation.

My friend Kelly who brought over dinner also gave me a pandora charm to add to my bracelet a flower.  I tried to take a picture but my camera doesn't do it any favors!  I have known Kelly since junior high, we lived together in college and now we live just blocks away from each other.  Thanks Kel!  I know you have a lot on your plate...I wish I could be there to help you out.

Natalie Timpone for the generous cash donation and all the arts and crafts for the kids!

Kim Waddelow for the adorable t-shirt.  I can't wait to wear it when I am sporting my new ta ta's! =)

Rebecca Pottebaum for my "e" necklace.

To the Edstrand's for the iTunes Gift cards.  It was great catching up with you Matt.  Thank you so much for taking time to stop by! =)

My neighbor Mia who is 10 years old asked her entire class to make cards and say prayers for me.  Thank you to the 3rd grade class at St. Stephens! Maggie, Jaden, Megan, Joslyn, Sophie, Abby, Charlie, Libby, Katie, Noah, Gino, Patrick, Isabella, Reegan, Grace, Laton, Megan, Blake, Kelly, Ethan, Blake, Jewel, Nate, Lexi, Nicholas, George and to Mia's brother Sam and sister Ava who also made me beautiful cards.  I have read them all and I LOVE them!  Mia thank you for asking for more prayers for me.  For a 10 year old you sure are smart and generous!  Prayers are the best gift you could ever give me and from kids is even better.  GOD LOVES CHILDREN so I am hoping he will listen to you!  THANK YOU! 

THANK YOU to Imagine and Explore Preschool!

Just when I thought I was winding down from writing my Thank You's I am surprised again by everyone's kindness!

Aimee & Sarah
My sister has her kids enrolled at Imagine and Explore Preschool so I am there everyday with Cullen, Avery and Addison.  Sarah Smith and Aimee Ward are the owners who are both sisters.  Aimee is Cullen and Avery's teacher this year and has been so supportive of me while going through breast cancer treatment.  Thank you for your notes and hugs!  =)  I have actually known Sarah since I was in the 8th grade.  I was interested in trying out for the freshman cheerleading squad at Millard North and Sarah a friend of my sister said she would help me practice. Sarah was a cheerleader on the varsity squad.  Sarah taught me all the jumps, kicks, chants, cheers and dances I needed to know for the tryouts.  She worked with me for an entire month and it paid off because I made the freshman cheerleading squad for Millard North. 

Before cheerleading I was extremely shy and quiet in middle school.  I had friends of course but I didn't go out of my way to meet new people very often.  Cheerleading boosted my confidence and broke me out of my shell.  Freshman year I was not afraid to talk to anyone and to this day I believe cheerleading has helped me tremendously with my communication skills and overall confidence in myself.  Thank you Sarah for teaching me the ropes. =)

Sarah and her sister Aimee have gone out of their way to help me.  I was brought to tears on Saturday and today when I opened up their generous gift.  They held a fundraiser at Imagine and Explore Preschool and delivered a box that was filled with generous donations and several gift cards to various restaurants from them, their staff and the families of Imagine and Explore.  THANK YOU to Sarah, Aimee, Kelly, Heather, Jennifer, Darcy, Scott & Nellica Seibert, Scott and Reynolds and all the families who were so kind to donate money for my medical expenses and gift cards to help with our meals.

To top it off I got another card today from Bunco for Boobies and there was a very large check made out in my name.  THANK YOU again to Sarah Smith, Aimee Ward, Evelyn, Becky, Sara M., Darcy, Carissa, Sarah L., Lia, Angie, Heather S., Megan T, Natalie L., Toby, Sarah F., Beth, Jill E., Katee, Kim, Lori, Char, Jaime & Jennifer L.  ( I did leave a few names out because I couldn't read them) Wow!  The kindness of strangers...I am speechless!  I hope when I am better I can come play with you.  THANK YOU so much!  You don't know how much your kindness and generosity is appreciated.

Monday, May 16, 2011

T-Minus 3 Days to Chemotherapy

I haven't updated my blog in a while because I was in a lot of pain last week.  This will give you an idea.
This time last week (Monday, May 9th) I am not going to lie absolutely SUCKED!  I took two pain pills instead of one Sunday night hoping to get some sleep.  My hand was driving me crazy with shooting pains up my index and middle finger.  I did get the much needed rest I needed but when I woke up on Monday for surgery I was nauseous and sick.  I almost called in sick for surgery. 

7:00 AM Monday, May 9, 2011

Steve drove me to the hospital and we almost had to pull over because I thought I was going to get sick in the car. Luckily, I held it in and saved Steve's car from a major cleaning.  This was surgery number 3 so I knew what to expect.  Check in at the front desk. Go and meet my nurse, urine sample, scrub down, put on gown, insert IV in foot AGAIN....OUCH!, get blood sample, talk with anesthesiologist who was so kind to get me something to help with my nausea.  Steve and I spoke with Dr. Grange who was putting in a new chemotherapy port under my collar bone.  The nurses wheeled me in to the surgery room and I was out sleeping....thanks to anesthesia. 

11:00 AM
I woke up from surgery.  The nurse gave me a blueberry muffin and water.  She check my blood pressure and heart.  Once I was cleared to go I was wheeled out to our car in a wheel chair. 

I rested most of the day and took my pain pills which made me so sleepy.  When I tried to eat it hurt so bad.  Every time I chewed I could feel my chemo port moving up and down which was extremely uncomfortable.  By Wednesday I was ready to call Dr. Grange to have the port removed and call off chemotherapy...I could feel the port rubbing against my collar bone.  I was extremely uncomfortable.

The next few days I would break down in tears because my hand hurt so bad.  Finally, on Friday my sister told me to get on the phone and call my doctor.  She said they had to have something to help with the pain.  I left a message for Dr. Grange who was in surgery.

I then headed over to Dr. Montag's office for my weekly fill.  This was my third fill for my ta ta's.  Erin, the physician's assistant was so kind to only fill my left side because my right side was hurting from my port.  The good news is my left side is now even with my right side.  So far I have 100 cc's in my Ta Ta's.  Only 225 cc's to go to get my B cup. 

I left Dr. Montag's office and headed over to Dr. Thome's office.  They needed to test my heart to see if it is strong enough to handle chemotherapy.  People have died during chemo because their heart gave out on them.  They did say this could cause damage to my heart but they will monitor it closely and will stop treatment if they see any changes to my heart.  They had to stick me with another IV in my right arm of all places, but it didn't hurt that bad.  They inserted some radioactive liquid into the IV which sent it straight to my heart.  The doctors wanted to see how much liquid was going in my heart and pumping out.  They said if my heart was not functioning well enough for chemo they will have to put it on hold, otherwise it will stop my heart and kill me.  So please pray my heart will be strong enough to handle chemotherapy and I can keep focus on the end result.  I just want to be strong enough to get through these next four months. 

The only thing that makes me happy is my last chemotherapy session is on Steve's Birthday...September 29th.  I am hoping radiation and all my surgeries will be complete by Christmas!  God must have planned it this way because he knows my favorite holiday is Christmas.  I told Olivia and Steve we are going to get a real Christmas tree this year so we will have our fake one downstairs and a real one upstairs.  I can't wait for Christmas!

Dr. Grange finally called me back Friday night with some pain pills for my hand...they work!  THANK GOD!  I can finally sleep!

If anyone wants to take me to my chemotherapy I will need drivers.  You don't have to stay you can just drop me off and pick me up.  I will be having my treatments at the cancer center behind UpStream off 174th and Center. Below are the dates and tentative times.  All my treatments will be on Thursday.  You can email me at  There are a few dates left that I will need drivers.

May 19th - 1:45 pm - 5:45 pm - Steve
June 2nd - 2 pm - 5 or 6 pm?  Lyndsey Foster
June 16th - 2 pm -?  Gretchen Chace
June 30th - 2 pm - ? Emily Gardels

These sessions will be 1-2 hours and will be in the afternoon.  These are all on a Thursday afternoon and I will know the time when it gets closer.

July 14th - Crystal Crowley
July 21st - Crystal Crowley
July 28th - Team Bednar
August 4th - Ruth Schneider
August 11th - Emily Westering
August 18th - Deb Bothof/ Jessica Monestero
August 25th - Deb Bothof / Jessica Monestero
September 1st - Crystal Crowley
September 8th - Emmy Reilly
September 15th - Team Bednar
September 22nd - Laura Morrow
September 29th - I am requesting my husband Steve for this one.  It's his Birthday and my last treatment....I hope!

Dr. Grange told us tonight she is having my tissue retested for the HER2 receptor which means if I have this then my chemo will last a year!  UGH!  PLEASE pray I do not have the HER2 receptor.

Thank you to all my drivers...I can't wait to see you!  FYI if you are taking me starting June 16th and after you might not recognize me.  I could be a blonde, red head, my usual brunette or bald!  =)

Monday, May 2, 2011

A few more Thank you's!

 Sara Rogers and I have worked on a couple of weddings, she was the photographer and I was the videographer.  I enjoyed working with her so I asked her to shoot a family photo of Steve, Olivia and me.  I had every intention of paying her but at the end of the session she said it was her gift to me.  Sara thank you from the bottom of my heart ... these pictures will be cherished forever.  Here is the link to all our pictures and the ones below are some of my favorites.

Me and Sara

To help get me ready for the photoshoot were two of my best friends Crystal and Emily.  We went out for lunch, we got manicures, pedicures and they helped me pick outfits, shoes and accessories for this photoshoot.  I wanted to keep with the theme for breast cancer awareness so we all had on PINK.   Crystal and Emily also gave me a special gift.  A beautiful pandora bracelet.  Each of the charms has their own meaning.  (Best Friends, Hope, Love and Faith, Olivia's birth stone, Steve and my anniversary stone, the breast cancer symbol, inner strength and forever together)  I had Sara take a picture of the bracelet because my camera didn't do it any justice.

I have known Crystal and Emily since high school and they have both been my roommates in college.  I turn to these two when I need a shoulder to cry on, vent and most important have a good time.  Crystal and I have started the tradition of going to Chicago every year to visit Emily but since I can't go this year, Emily flew up the weekend before my surgery and plans to fly up again when I start my chemotherapy.  I can't describe what I am feeling in words because I get so emotional when I think of how generous you have both been to me.  Thank you so much for your friendship and please know that your kindness will never be forgotten. I will wear the bracelet until I am old and grey when my boobs will still be perky... and yours...will not. j/k!!!  =)


Crystal, me and Emily in Chicago in August 2010

Thank you for the beautiful bracelet

Me and my two loves...

Thank You Pt. 2

More Thank you's to:

Travis & Michelle Havlovic - Fantastic Sandwiches, Olivia and I ate the ice cream and we have yet to eat the cheese cake.

Crystal Crowley - For lunch and dinner. Loved the chicken salad, pulled pork and dessert! Steve drank all the beer. ;)

Lynn, George, Caleb and Noah Nelson- Thanks for the visit and lunch and dinner. I will be sharing the meals with my sister's family this week....Steve can't wait for the dessert! It's amazing what you find out when you get to know your neighbors. Lynn is a cancer survivor! She had it as a child and was told she could never have children. God has blessed her and George with two gorgeous boys.

Betty and Bruce Bode - Thank you for the Beef stroganoff, cherry jello, green beans and brownies. I will need to get the recipe or Steve might be stopping by your house unexpectedly for dinner. Steve said it is now his new favorite.

My aunt Patty for sending us a generous cash donation

Ron and Jan Brown for send a generous cash donation

Lance and Jenny Howe for the gift card to Applebees

Melissa Gregory (a dear friend from high school, dance team and a college roommate) Thank you for my comfy robe, socks and pillow.

Pam Sloan for sending a generous cash donation

Rosy Conrad for the gift card to HyVee

Dave, Pam, Austin, Madison and Derek Pottebaum for the beautiful "surrounded by love" Willow Tree.

Emily Gardels for all the DVD movies. My favorites...Chick flicks and romantic comedies.

Colleen Ballard, Sara Smith and Beth Hazen Thank you for the pedicure and ice cream.

Kim and Mary McGee - Thank you for the cookies and candy! Mary just had surgery for thyroid cancer. Please keep her in your prayers. Kim and Mary are the parents of my sister's husband Dave.

Ben, Nicole, Kayln and Ryder Harrington - Thank you for the gift card to Target.

Pam and Tim Hoffman - Thank you for the angel light.

Deb and John Bothof - Thank you for the plant. I have it out at my sister's house. That way I know it won't die. (I do not have a green thumb =)

Thank You pt. 1

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thank you to my sister who drove and stayed with me for another unexpected surgery.  I had to go back to Midlands Hospital for surgery to remove my chemo port.  Dr. Grange came to the conclusion I would need a pediatric port because my arms are so small.  They are going to wait until I get all the feeling back in my fingers and my hand is completely functioning before they put in the pediatric port.  It will go back in my right arm.  For the anesthesia for surgery they had to put in an IV but they couldn't use my right arm, because it was already in pain and they couldn't use my left arm, because they took out almost all of my lymph nodes from my mastectomy the week before.  So they had to put the IV in my foot.  I am not going to hurt!  Of course I could not shower for two days after surgery...but at least it wasn't a week like the first surgery I had.  I stayed at my sister's because Steve travels for his job and he was going to be gone this week.  Thanks to my sister for taking on the additional duties of taking care of Olivia and me while Steve is out of town.  You are the best!

God bless my mother who is watching all the kids until I am recovered from surgery and the days I have chemotherapy and radiation.  Thank you to my dad for helping out by driving the kids to and from school.  You have helped me so much during these last few weeks.  Thank you will never be enough.

After my first surgery I received so many phone calls, texts and gifts.  It is so overwhelming as I am hearing from friends that I have lost touch with over the years and their generosity has sincerely touched my soul.  I get so emotional when I think the time and effort friends and family have put in.... all for little ol' me.

I have so many thank you's and I dedicate this blog post to all of you who have reached out to me with your kind words, cards, phone calls, flowers, gifts and meals.  There are so many I hope that I don't forget you.  I tried to write them all down post surgery.


My Aunt Linde and Uncle Terry for bringing over the first meal with beautiful flowers. 
Home made chicken noodle soup always hits the spot.

Joan and John Allen for our second meal.  Mexican, fruit and brownies

Jen and Matt Fehringer for the enchiladas, salad, muffins and cookies.

Katy Bode and Deanna Wolf- The Steak salad and soup were delicious!

Kathy Knickrehm Your Chicken and rice was wonderful

Kelly Robson - LOVED the fettuccine Alfredo the kids loved your Easter themed cupcakes.=)

Thank you to my sister-in-law Rebecca for the adorable necklace! 
Thank you for taking the time to make it.

Thank you to:

Mary Jo Ellis for the whole foods gift card.
Barb O'Brien for the gift card to Target.
Kay Bataillon and Barb Jackson for the gift card to Target.