My final reconstruction post

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Below is a picture of what I was left with after a bi-lateral mastectomy.  Initially I decided not to do reconstruction because my oncologist was saying I probably had a year to live.  I had no knowledge of metastatic breast cancer at that time.  A year passed and I realized there was no expiration date stamped on my head. That was when I decided to do reconstruction.  I didn’t mind being flat chested, but I wasn’t flat chested.  I had indentions on each side of my chest.  My clothes just didn’t fit right anymore.  The next picture shows me in a tank top. You can see the indention the best on the right side.  The third picture was taken during the expansion process.    When that was finished Dr. Swelstad ( his link is below) finished me off with implants.  I chose not to do nipples because I didn’t want another surgery and I didn’t want to have to wear a bra all the time.😁

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October the 17th was my birthday. I’ve almost lived 5 years with metastatic breast cancer! When my mama asked me what I wanted for my birthday I said maybe I should get nipples. So she bought me nipples for my birthday. No surgery, just tattoos. The pictures below are from the day they were done.  They really do look like nipples.  It’s funny, I was so excited when I saw the final result.  Dear Cancer, I got my nipples back.  Of course I’d rather have my own breasts and nipples but, it is what it is.

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Here’s a link to my plastic surgeon, Dr. Swelstad.  He’s in Grand Junction, Colorado.  If your in that area I highly recommend him!

Dr.Swelstad

My areola pigmentation (tattoo)  was done by Mia in Waynesville, North Carolina.  She also does hair, nails and permanent makeup.  I loved her!  Her link is below.

MIA Salon & Spa

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Time for an update and a Happy Dance!!

This has been a month full of scans for me.  PET Scan, hip x-rays and a brain MRI.  All of my results were stable with nothing new.

Time for a Happy Dance!!

Stable doesn’t mean cancer free. It doesn’t mean I feel great, or even good. It just means the cancer that has taken up residence in my body hasn’t grown. I have good days and I have bad. I live with a lot of pain. Still, I don’t let that stop me. If I want to do something, I do it. I may pay for it the next day, but it’s always worth it!

I feel so blessed.  I remember hearing I probably had a year to live over four years ago.  Believe me when I say I don’t take a minute for granted.  The past four years have been filled with new adventures, memories, milestones, family, friends and tons of love.  I’m a Glamma x2!! My Javiee is legal!!  I watched T.J. leave for his first day of high school last month!! (I cried!)  These are the things that keep me going.

Here’s something that touched my heart this week……

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This made me think of a very special person in my life.   When your down, feed the good, share a smile, spread some love, get up….get out…and make some memories!!

I love you guys!💕💕

What Living With Advanced Breast Cancer Looks Like…A Healthline Article

I was in Mexico when this Healthline article came out.  I was one of the women featured and I wanted to share it with you.  I especially loved what Mary Gooze had to say.  It mirrored what I said.  💕

Here’s  the link…..

http://www.healthline.com/health/breast-cancer/understanding-and-managing/this-is-what-looks-like

Thank you Healthline for continuing to represent the metastatic community.  I have lost so many friends to this disease.  We need to talk about it.  We need funding for research.  We want to live!💕💕💕

 

My hair after WBR

I’ve had so many people ask me about my hair after doing whole brain radiation.  Hair is so important to most people, it defines you.  I have always had a head full of blonde curly hair.  Those days are gone!  I started losing my hair the second week of WBR.  Instead of waiting for it to fall out I shaved my head.  About three months after WBR it started growing back.  I was so excited!!  About six months later I realized it wasn’t going to come back completely.  I had what I called a “nohawk”.  My hair grew in on the sides and on the back of my head but not on the top.  My oncology radiologist said the radiation skims the top of the head and it may not grow back there.  A year later and no hair is growing on top of my head.  This is what it looks like…….

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I don’t think it’s ever going to grow back on top.  I just keep shaving my head.  I honestly don’t mind being bald.  That’s the least of my worries!  95% of the time I walk around bald and happy to be alive!  I have beautiful wigs and  I wear them if I go somewhere special with my Javiee,   My favorite….

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Here’s a picture of my cousin Teressa and I.  If you see me out and about it’s usually like this…..bald.  I’ve embraced my baldness!

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That’s my hair story.  Thank you guys for all the love you send my way!  I love you all!!! Now get out and make some memories!

Brain MRI Results

I have to tell you I was anxious while waiting for these results.  I spent last summer doing brain radiation and I was really excited to get out and make some memories this summer! I’m so happy to say my MRI came back stable!  There’s nothing new!  Thank you all for your love, good vibes and prayers!  I feel so blessed to have you all in my life!💕

So what’s next for me?  Mexico!  I was going no matter what my results were.  I’m just happy they were good and I can go worry free!  My Javiee has worked day and night to make this trip possible.  I’m so ready to spend some quality time with him and meet his family!  It’s been a long time coming!

Get out and make some memories! 💕💕💕 I love you guys!

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Scan Results

There are a few impressive words on my scans this month.  My favorite is STABLE!  It says I have widespread bony metastases that show NO PROGRESSION since 02/06/17.  I’ll take it!

So where are my mets?

In my T3, T5, T6, T7, T11 and T12 vertebra.  There are multiple mets in my lumbar spine.  L3 is the worst and it hasn’t grown in the past three months.  There are multiple mets in my sacrum, iliac, pubic rami and my right femur.

Are they painful?

Yes.  Some more than others.  There is one on my spine that causes shooting pain if I move a particular way.  It’s close to a nerve.  I take hydrocodone and get on with life.

I also had brain mets and I have a brain MRI scheduled the first of June.  My last brain scan was clear.  I’m praying for the same result!

Remember the tumor in my lung?  Well, there is stable scarring in the left upper lobe.  No evidence of lung metastasis! Wow!

The pea sized knot in my neck seems to be my immune systems way of dealing with allergies. Good News! Gotta love it!

It’s always good to hear stable and nothing new!   What’s a girl to do?  I’m off to Mexico soon with my Javiee.  He’s working two jobs to pay for our trip (imagine not seeing your family for 11 years!).  Our tickets have been purchased and we’re going no matter what my brain MRI shows.  Time to make some memories!!    I love you guys!💕💕💕

 

Tracking My Rising Tumor Markers

I’ve lived with metastatic breast cancer for over four years now.  My CA-15-3 has always indicated when something was awry.  It was 22.8 in December 2015.  In June of 2016 it jumped to 169.8. For this reason we started checking my tumor markers monthly.  I’ll share from that point on below:

July 2016                  267.6   This is when we found brain mets.

August 2016            565.0

October 2016          694.0

November 2016     691.5

January 2017          167.0  This was after WBR/Cyber Knife.

February 2017        132.2

March 2017             159.2

April 2017                172.2

May 2017                  183.0

We weren’t concerned with the first rise.  It can happen for many reasons.  After two more months of higher numbers we decided it’s time to do scans.  I had a chest and abdomen CT Wednesday (results next week).  I also have a brain MRI scheduled for the first week in June.  It’s another wait and see!  I have to tell you I Feel Good!!  I go on that.  It may sound strange but I don’t even worry about results anymore.  I just get on with life until result day arrives.  Life has been good to me lately!  Wait until I share what I was blessed with this week (for those that don’t follow me on social media)!!!!!!!  That will be my next post. Until then I’m sending you all love!!!!💕💕

Get out and make some memories!!!!!!

 

Hello April!

I’m happy to say hello to a new month!  March was probably the craziest, busiest, most stressful and most rewarding month I’ve ever had!

I flew to Vegas and filmed a television show (and signed a confidentuality agreement). So there are no details about the show that I can share with you. Sorry!  I would love to because I think it’s going to be amazing! You guys will just have to wait.  It was a fantastatic experience and I met the most wonderful people while doing this project.  My Javiee bought me a new wig for the filming and there was a professional makeup artist there so I felt beautiful…..here’s a picture!

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I have to include a picture with my Vegas partner in crime, Marilyn.  Ok, so no real crimes were committed, but we had a fabulous time together!  Thank you Marilyn for taking this journey with me!

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Two days before I left for Vegas my husband was on a plane to Mexico.  This was the stressful part of my month.  I share my family and my life with cancer with you all.  There are somethings that I haven’t shared with many people.  One of these things is that my sweet Javiee was illegal.  I mean walked across the desert for 6 days illegal.  He told me before we even started dating.  Honestly, I didn’t care.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  I also knew it would be worth it.  It’s been eleven years and I wouldn’t trade a minute of our time together for the biggest house or the fanciest car on the block. He has loved me during the good times and held me up during the bad.  He has worked so hard to help T.J. become the confident young man that he is now.  He is a grandpa to Jax and will always be there for Kori and Kristen.  We are all blessed to have him in our lives.

Sending him to Mexico for his immigration appointment was so stressful.  If denied he was facing a ten year bar from returning. Talk about nerve wracking!  He was approved and is home now ( the process took four years). He’s legal, has a social security number and a drivers license.  Talk about life changing.  Freedom (don’t take yours for granted)!  I have watched my Javiee be taken advantage of SO many times because he was illegal.  That won’t happen anymore.  Now is his time to get what he deserves and I’m so happy for him! And us!

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Here’s the sad part.  If I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer he would have never been approved.  He was approved because of a hardship waiver.  I know most people think you can apply and go through a process and become legal if your married to a citizen.  It doesn’t work that way if your here from Mexico illegally.  Now if your a citizen and want a Russian bride you can just go apply for a K-1 Visa and that’s that.  Ridiculous if you ask me.

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Here’s one of the first pictures that Javiee, T.J and I had taken together.  Javiee has always been there for us and I can’t imagine life without him.  We are so blessed to have him home!💕💕

The month ended with a baby shower, a week with our precious little Jaxon, a new car (new to us) and an all day wrestling tournament with T.J.

A few pictures from the baby shower.  Kori and Emily will be having a little girl soon!

imagePictures from our week with Jax.  He is the sweetest. I love spending time with him and I love hearing him say glamma!

imageHere’s a picture from the wrestling tournament.  It was T.J.’s first time wrestling Greco Roman and freestyle.  He came home happy with two third place medals.

I have to thank two beautiful souls before I end this post Linda and Windy.  Remember I told you my doctor wanted me to stop driving our 5 speed because it was aggravating the pain in my hip and spine.  We had planned on buying a new car when Javiee came back from Mexico and went back to work.  The immigration process took what money we had saved so we decided to wait until we could save money for a decent used car.  Having a car payment is not a good thing when you have cancer because you never know what medicines or treatments won’t be covered by your insurance the next month.  I lost the last new car we had because I had to pay for my first surgery and was out of work.  I thought it was better to just keep driving the 5 speed for a while.  Well, thanks to Linda and Windy I’m no longer driving that 5 speed.  They gave us a car this week.  How do you say thank you to such a kind gesture?  They are special ladies and we are so thankful to them.  We love you Linda and Windy!  I wish I had a picture of them to share!

What a month, right?  Six months ago I was doing WBR and a new chemo.  I was so sick.  It was the first time I had ever felt like it may be the end of my life here.  I remember a consult with my doctor about changing my meds.  My mom was there and she knew how sick I was.  She asked me if I really wanted to start a new medication and add more to what I was already dealing with.  I would do anything for more time/memories with my family.  I did start the new treatment regimen and I’m so glad I did.  One new medicine can change so much.  Look at the month I’ve had!  I would have missed this!  Donating to research is so important to those of us living with Metastatic Breast Cancer.  Please support Metavivor.  100% of your donation will go to research.

I Love you guys!  Thank you for sharing my life with me.  I know there will be the random person that comes across my blog with opinions about immigration and such.  It’s fine, your comments are welcome.  One thing that cancer has changed in me is that I don’t mind criticism.  I don’t need approval.  Think about your life.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be free, not to worry about what everyone else thinks.  Life is short do what makes you happy and make those memories!!!  Sending love to you all!

New Scan Results

My latest scans showed progression to my ribs, spine and pelvis while I was on Ibrance.  I have multiple new pelvic and femoral lesions.  My spine has many new lesions (T5, T7, T8 and T12).  The good news is there was no new growth in my organs and the tumor in my lung is 2 cm smaller. My tumor markers are also still dropping.  I’m at 132 now!😀

I have a lot of pain in my hip.  My oncologist was concerned and thought I may need a pin in my hip. He referred me to an  orthopaedic oncologist, Dr.Gajewski, I loved him!  He’s a great addition to my team.  After x-rays and an exam he said no pin!  The pain is muscle and nerve pain from my spine.  I aggravate it by driving a five speed.  I guess it’s time to get another car.  He also said yoga will help.  Time to start a yoga class!

As of February 8th I have lived with metastatic breast cancer for 4 years.  Though I’m sure I had it years before I was diagnosed.  I find it sad that I was told I didn’t need a mammogram until I was 40.  I can’t help thinking at 35 I would have caught it before it spread.  It is what it is.  I’m thankful for the past four years.  Even during treatment, my days have been filled with memories.  I’ve had more time with my family.  I’ve watched T.J. grow into a young man.  So many special people have come into my life the past four years.  I am so grateful.  Let’s not forget….I became a glamma!  I’m so in love with little Jaxon.  He is perfect.  In May I will be a glamma again!  To a precious little girl.  I hope she looks just like me!!😂

Living with metastatic breast cancer isn’t easy, but I’m living!  That’s all that really matters. Get out and make some memories!  I love you all!💕💕

 

Look at my new wig my sweet Javiee bought me.  I love it!  My hair is beginning to come back on the sides.  The top is still bald.  I call it a nohawk.

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Tumor Markers

There are a lot of different opinions when it comes to tumor markers.  My first oncologist tracked my markers and believed that they gave her an idea of how my treatments were working.  My new oncologist doesn’t worry about them as much.  I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones that can follow tumor markers.  When taxol failed my tumor makers rose.  We changed treatment and they dropped.  The same goes with Femara.  I went to Ibrance and my tumor markers climbed to 694 (CA 15-3) and 410 (CA 27-29).  My markers have never been so high!  We changed my treatment to Afinitor and they dropped.  I’m at 189 now.   That’s still not a good number.  I want to see it under 30 again.  For now I’m grateful to see such a big drop!

I’m scheduled for a new bone and pet scan the first week in February.  I have a lot of pain in my lower spine and my neck.  I know there was progression when I was on Ibrance.  The question is how much.  Back to waiting!

Until then I’ll keep taking my pain meds and enjoy some time with my Javiee (he’s off for a few weeks!). T.J. is keeping me busy with wrestling matches.  I walk into a match with no energy and leave as the cheering mom.  He’s doing really well.  I won’t miss a match even if I have to drive an hour to get there.  I’m just so thankful to be here to see him participate.  There’s no way I would miss one!

Ok, one more story to share!  My favorite Christmas song is The Christmas Shoes.  I play it every Christmas.  This year for Christmas Kori gave me Christmas shoes and had the song playing when I opened them.  I cried and cried.  It was a special Christmas full of special gifts but this one made my heart smile.  I know this song will always make Kori think of me.  Memories, the only thing that will outlive us!  Get out and make some!  I love you guys!!💕💕

 

I have to include a picture from Christmas!

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