5 Years! No way!

My goodness I'm thinking this morning, I'm a 5 year survivor! Time sure does fly when you're having fun doesn't it? :) It was five year ago this month that I finished my radiation and had scans that showed all clear. It doesn't seem like it's been five years, I just don't know where the time goes. What I do know is that I'm a different person now than I was when I was first diagnosed and I sure hope changed for the better. So much has happened since I last sat down to post my thoughts, now I have had some thoughts mind you, I just didn't share them here! LOL During this time I have renewed my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and although I will never be 'perfect' I am forgiven, I am loved unconditionally, and I am and never will be ALONE! This has given me great comfort and it's my relationship with Him that gets me through each day. And even as I sit here cancer free, my heart is sad and my spirit are burdened for those who still fighting the battle, for those who have just learned they have a battle to fight and for those friends and family who have lost the battle in these last few years. Did I mention that I HATE CANCER!
It may seem crazy to you because I do hate cancer, but I can honestly say that having cancer was a blessing in desquise. It may not have been how I wanted to spend part of my life. Going through cancer treatment is no picnic no matter how you slice it, but the blessing on the other side for me has been beyond anything I could imagine. So there is hope and life beyond the chemo, radiation, surgery, and seemingly endless dr's visits. I know for some those times may be breif anf few but they are precious and when you have hope you have everything. I would like to share my hope with you and HIS name IS JESUS! No matter what you have to go through He will be right there with you to get you through even in the darkest hour. "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom." Isaiah 40:28 One day there will be no cancer! I'm praying for that day and for those that I know are still fighting or have just begun the fight. We are sisters and brothers and this is my prayer for you- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Giving Back

Wow it's been too long since I've written anything here and I thought I should at least put down a few words. I've been doing great, everything is clear and my blood work is good just still a bit low in iron. So I've been taking iron supplements and hopefully that will help. I'm scheduled to see my oncologist this month but just hoping and expecting good news.

Tomorrow night, June 11th is our Relay for Life here in Independence county AR. I started a team this year and named it PMA (positive mental attitude) after my good friend Len who has been so encouraging through my whole process. He's our honorary team captain and I know he will be with us in spirit tomorrow night as we walk for those who have won the fight and also in memory of those who haven't. It's a bit ironic that the Relay is on the 11th because it's just one day off my last chemo treatment last year. I walked in the survivors lap last year even though I was still in treatment, this year I will really feel like a survivor, for this year anyway! One year at a time right?

I've had survivors tell me that they had just as soon not have anything to do with cancer relays or anything because they want to forget all about their struggle. As for me, I NEVER WANT TO FORGET! I want to remember that life is precious and that this disease kills so many people every year and I won't stop giving back when I can and as much as I can until the word CANCER is just a memory in history which I hope will happen in my lifetime.

Tonight I am looking forward to walking the 'survivors lap' and for the luminary ceremony that will pay tribute to those who are still with us and for those whose memory we hold dear in our hearts. And I thank you God for another day to remember that you have given me another chance at this precious thing called LIFE!

One year past diagnosis

Today I went to see my GP DR to get my prescriptions refilled and just for a quick checkup. It has been a year since I saw him with my lumpy breast. After we chatted for a few minutes to catch up on all that has been going on with me in the past year he did the normal checkup stuff and wrote out my prescriptions. How different this visit was from the one last January.

By this time last January I had been diagnosed with BC and had an appointment with Dr. Hagans the breast cancer surgeon in Little Rock. My friends were all rallying around me to show their support and people were putting me on prayer list. Tina was telling me things she remembered about her trips to the doctors and chemo etc. and making me feel very positive and knew I had to keep a sense of humor throughout whatever the outcome.

Even though I do have quite a bit of energy, I still get tired easily and I get a little aggravated because I'm clear of cancer and all my treatments are over and I think everything should be normal. I have to keep reminding myself that it's okay if I'm not up to snuff still and that my body has been through hell and it just takes time. So it's okay if I go to bed early and on days that I'm off it's okay that I take a nap or just lie down to rest if I feel the need. Because when I listen to my body and do rest I get up feeling refreshed.

Next week I'll be going to see my chemo doctor and get the blood labs and all that. She told me that I would be coming to see her about every three months for a year or so and that my visits would gradually be not as frequent. So I guess here I am a year later and truly on the top end of my road to recovery. Now if I can just get through my birthday this year without getting too depressed everything will be okay.

I'll be sixty in a month. When I was thirty I cried for two weeks and at times I feel like crying now but when I get to thinking about the alternative and the last year of my life, I do feel more like celebrating than crying. I just have to keep telling myself that everyday until I have to start writing my age as 60 instead of 59. Maybe I should make little cards and hang them all around the house that says.....yipppeee I made it to 60.... life is beautiful... I survive breast cancer and thank God I'm gonna be 60!

A year after my diagnosis and I'm alive and well and thank you lord for allowing me another year!

Holiday Cheer and welcome the New Year!

Just the other day after someone mentioned it, I realized that we were heading into a new decade! I've been concentrating so much on just another new year and sixty years of being here on this planet for me that I didn't even conceive of the idea of another ten years. It certainly doesn't seem like ten years since all the world was waiting to see what would happen with the Y2K thing. All around the world on New Year's Ever celebrations like never before were going on and I watched them all day on the telly from our flat in Harlow, Essex, UK. The fireworks were beautiful, computers didn't crash, the world didn't go offline and all was well with the world.

One thing is for sure I never gave having breast cancer a second thought ten years ago. No one in my family had ever had it well not on my side of the family. The other side, my sister-in-law Jeanie's family is one of those families that has carried the breast cancer gene through several generations. Chemotherapy is not fun these days but back thirty years ago poor Jeanie was in bed for days after a treatment. With all her pain and illness she showed me what a positive attitude and faith can do.

Many years later her daughter, Tina would face the same challenge and with two active young sons and a full time job, she didn't have time to be sick. I'm not sure how many of the women in that family have had breast cancer but they have a saying "it's not if I have breast cancer, but when." These brave women are and have been my inspiration for years and so when I was diagnosed I knew that the only thing I could do was do what the "Tarkington" women do and be tough, strong, have faith and a positive attitude. That has been the 'key' to my recovery this year and so I would like to say a special thank you to those special ladies, you are wonderful and I love you.

Now on to the new year and new beginnings, my scans are all clear, my port is out and my energy level is almost back to 'normal' if there can ever be 'normal' after going through breast cancer. I'm looking forward to celebrating life on this earth for sixty years in February. I do have to admit that there have been some times during the holidays that I've been a little depressed because I am alone but those times haven't lasted long when I am reminded of my lovable family and my awesome friends, how could I be sad and lonely.

Christmas was great and I can almost breath the new year. I haven't made any resolutions because I always break them, but I do hope and pray for a healthier, happier new year for myself and for all my sistas who are fighting the battle, we are warriors and we can fight like girls!


Happy Thanksgiving

Well here it is only a few days left until Turkey Day! I can remember a few Thanksgivings that my family didn't eat turkey, we had tacos, chili, or catfish. It doesn't matter exactly what you have to eat on Thanksgiving does it, it's being thankful for having the food on the table but more importantly, having the family and friends at the table.

This year I do have so much for which to be thankful. Life, I can honestly say is what I am most thankful for this year. Not just mine but those of my family and friends that I hold so dear in my heart. There's nothing like a little thing called cancer that will wake us up and remind us how precious life is and that we are only here for a short lifetime regardless of how long we live. Let me tell you, the older you get the shorter your lifetime. So I'm very excited about this Thanksgiving and the holiday season and I certainly intend to enjoy everything! The family, the food, the singing, sharing laughs and making memories.

After Thanksgiving I'll be ready to turn my Christmas lights on. I worked last weekend on getting them up and it wasn't too big a mess or there weren't too many lights that didn't work. I'm so glad that I have the energy to get them up and ready. I just love everything about Christmas. But I can tell you I won't be one of those wild crazy shoppers on Black Friday. I'll be eating leftovers at my mom's, I'm crazy but not that crazy LOL and I'll be getting ready to have my port removed on Monday the 30th.

I'll really be glad to get the port out. I'm praying, hoping and thinking positive that I will never need one again and I just don't want to spend a year or two going every month to have it flushed. It would seem to me that I was always having some kind of treatment. So getting the port out and having clear scans by the end of the year will be like the best Christmas present I could have. Of course if anyone has loads of money that they don't need and want to send me on a two week vacation to some tropical island, that would be a great gift as well! :) Really though, I'm just so thankful and happy to be sitting here writing this blog and sharing my thoughts.

Have a wonderful Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy, no matter what's on the table!

The Calm After The Storm

It has been awhile since my last post and I have to admit, I've just been lazy and not quite sure what to write. I finished my radiation and my burns have healed, I'm beginning to feel more energetic and I'll have a mammogram at the end of the month.
The only real side effect of the Femera seems to be night sweats at least so far that's all I've noticed.

It doesn't seem like 10 months since I started this journey but it was exactly 10 months ago today that I was diagnosed and of course my life hasn't and never will be the same. After the mammogram I'll see Dr. Hagans, the breast surgeon again. Normally I would dread a mammogram and it's not that I'm looking forward to it, I'm just looking forward to hearing that everything is clear, at least that what I'm hoping and praying for.

I still have my infusion port but my cancer doctor has given me clearance to have it removed before the first of the year. Normally she likes to keep them in a year or two but they have to be flushed every month and that does get expensive. We're thinking positive and hoping I never need another one. Dr. Hagans who also placed my port said on my last visit that it was a little loose anyway. So when I see him the first of November we'll set a date to take that sucker outta there. In December I'll have my six month scans as well.

Isn't it amazing that 2010 is right around the corner? Before we know it the holidays will be here and we'll be making busy making plans. I'm looking forward to having hair again for Christmas...I'll be singing all I want for Christmas is a full head of hair, instead of my two front teeth. LOL No matter what the rest of the year brings, I'm thankful to be finished with all my treatments and to feel better, but I'll never take life for granted again!

And it burns burns burns, that radiation burns!

Since my last post I've had 14 more radiation treatments. Today I had the last one to the overall breast and underarm area and tomorrow I will have either 8 or 10 what they call "booster" treatments to the tumor area on my breast. So I am near the end of my treatments and can now say that yes radiation treatment burns.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that my under arm was feeling more sensitive than normal, you know after lymph node removal you have that numb sensitive feeling. Then last week I noticed that my breast and under arm was starting to get a little red and by the weekend feeling a even more tender. Since I didn't know what to use on it I just used the Udderly Smooth cream and that seemed to soothe it pretty much. That is until Monday morning when I woke up with this aching hot raw skin under my arm.

When I went Monday to have my treatment the doctor looked at it and said yes that looks pretty painful but said I would be getting relief from that area when my booster treatments started in two days. The radiation techs wrote down the name of a cream, Lidocane plus extra strength, and said a lot of people use it and say it's very good. It does seem to soothe and make it feel better but knowing that the radiation is still working in my body makes me wonder just how much worse this burn is going to get before it heals.

I've never really been badly sunburned in my life so I can't even relate to that; however, I've seen some pretty bad sunburns before. I guess it wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't under my arm right in the bend and of course where skin rubs skin. I keep telling myself though that this will heal, I only have a few more treatments to go and then it will all be over and in a couple months I'll be good as new.

Never will I ever say, I'll be back to normal because after cancer your life is never back to normal. There are cancer free months or years but how can you ever be the same after going through everything that goes with cancer treatment? It changes you not only physically but mentally as well. So I'll just say that I can look forward to not being in treatment and getting my hair back, my strength back and not having to plan my life around my cancer treatments.

Life is good even when we have to suffer and go through pain, there is hope and healing in the end.
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