One year ago

One year ago today I was told my life would never be the same. Gosh, how  my life has changed so much in just a year. Yes, I was told I had breast cancer, but honestly, my life has changed for the better. I no longer take things for granted, I am slower to get angry and people/relationships mean so much more than they ever have. Don’t sweat the small stuff seriously takes on new meaning. Things are in different categories now. Best of all, I am a mother to a sweet, sweet baby girl. One of the greatest priveledges of life. I have no idea how I got thorough the past year but it doesn’t matter. I made it! WE made it! Now we just have to keep going… 

Ready to start a new year… Can’t wait to post a year from now and see where I/we are at. 

Cancer Hunger Games

The big question has become– so now what? I don’t have an answer. In fact, I feel like I don’t have a clue whats going on. My head is sometimes spinning. I feel more lost now than I have through this entire process. Its a very isolated feeling, lonely. The loss of control is so uneasy and the uncertainty ahead is just down right scary.  It feels like now I’m on some kind of survivor TV show, or better yet a ‘tribute’ from the Hunger Games. This must be how Katnis Everdeen felt when she was dropped into the middle of the area– a game of survival. Gotta figure out how to stay alive, to strategize every move, execute it perfectly– cause if I don’t, it will cost lives, my life. 

Many of you ask me “If I am excited its over”. Am I happy my treatment has ended? Yes, I’m happy. But over? Oh no, this will never be over. The victors return to their district, alone– the last survivors– but they have to live everyday with what happened in the arena. This is still the beginning– the beginning of ‘after’, fraught with all the aftereffects. I still have to go through surgical breast reconstruction, 5 -10 years of taking a pill everyday and a monthly injection that will decrease my chances of the cancer coming back– in essence shutting down my ovaries (putting them in pharmacological menopause). I’m now faced with having to deal with the effects of menopause. Even though he was a dude, I could see being a bit like Haymitch Abernathy, the victor turned mentor. Except instead of medicating with alcohol, my new pills will cause mood swings (like I am not already a bit nutz) hot flashes, sore bones and joint and worst of all– I could end up with a dry vagina! 

Yes I said it- cause I am just being real here. Beyond the fear of cancer returning (being sent back to the arena), what could be worse than a dry whoha?! I know you’ve seen those commercials about woman who have this problem. Its real and its now on my radar. A dry vagina is a very unhappy vagina. Nobody likes a sad vagina. Not to mention I am still recovering from 6 surgeries and what pregnancy and chemo did to my body. It may seem over to some but everyday I am reminded of my breast cancer and the impact it left on my life. Its almost as if, now I am realizing what I have gone through the past year, its all catching up to me. It shocks me to think about what happened. I am no longer in fight mode (I’m out of the arena) and realizing, shit, I had cancer. I had cancer and I pray to God that President Snow doesn’t leave me roses in my victor mansion, in the form of a dry vagina. Somehow, ‘shell-shocked’ isn’t quite the right word, nor PTSD. Its something else, something I’d imagine only the other victors feel, and I’ll wrestle it (but hopefully not with a dry vagina- because honestly, who likes to wrestle with a dry vagina?)!    

My hair’s journey

Choosing to dramatically change your hairstyle is one thing, but when the choice is made for you it’s a whole new ball game. Loosing my hair, being bald and growing it back has been a true journey.  A journey to the inner depths of my soul where I found what true beauty is. I am posting this video for all the other woman out there who will loose their hair due to cancer. It totally sucked loosing my hair and it’s been even more tedious growing it back. There are times I look in the mirror and don’t recognize my post partum, post chemo self. Then I remember I was wonderfully created. It is just hair, the inner core of me is still the same. Things on the outside may have changed, but me, Jodi, has done her best to remain the same person. Me with hair, me without hair or me with new hair;  I am still the same person I have been all along. Cancer may have gotten my hair but I didn’t get me.  Click hair to see the video of my hair’s journey through chemo.

Whiplash

Wow! What a day. Good news is what I was hoping for and good news is what I got. No radiation! I am done with beating up, I mean, treating my body to get rid of cancer. No more chemo, no more surgeries, even no radiation! Done and done!!! In a matter of minutes I went from fighting to survive to now just surviving. From here on in its all about maintenance to keep the cancer away.  
Yaaay! I guess I am excited. I’m cancer free right? Isn’t this what I have been waiting for? I should be wanting to jump up and down and have a party. Not so much. Great the cancer is gone but I feel like it left me high and dry and holding the bag. I don’t know what’s in the bag yet but it seems ugly. It’s crazy…. crazy to think about. Once again my head is left spinning and my heart filled with all sorts of emotions and feelings I just can’t make sense of. 
I feel like screaming, what the hell am I suppose to do now? Where do I go from here? I’m accustomed to living this crazy, stressed life. Remember the wild ride, with no one at the wheel? Its like life became all surgeries and life threatening situations, and a baby, no sleep, new parents and more surgeries and this and that…. And now BAM! I’m on the It’s A Small World ride at Disney and life is just suppose to be “awesome” and “normal” again. What is normal? How do we get back there? The word whiplash comes to mind.  

  

Crazy, Passionate, Love

Everyone says how well I have handled my situation, what a positive attitude I have, how strong I have been. Well the man behind the big green curtain running the show here has been Nate. He has been where I received my strength from, his positivity has kept me smiling and full of hope. His eyes looking at me the same as always even though my looks and my body resembles nothing like it used to be. Long hair, short hair, no hair doesn’t matter to him. Pre-pregnancy, pregnant and post baby body with now a scar across one side of my chest . He still reaches for me the same.  I look in the mirror and cringe but Nate still see’s me just as I was. Taking over 100 & 10% caring for Cora when all I could do is sleep and recover from surgery after surgery. Taking care of a new baby and a sick wife is no easy task.   Nate did it all. He is a rock, my rock ! My force not to be reckoned with. True, deep, passionate, love. 
I wish I could say that I wrote what is written below this. But, I can’t take the credit. When I was reading it, it was like I was reading my own words. It rang so close and is just what I wanted to write to Cora about her Daddy on this Valentine’s Day. It was taken from another blog called, Mom Life Now. 

To my dear Daughter, 

Many, many, many, years from now you will notice these things called boys. They will be nice looking and smell really good. These boys will talk words to you that speak of love and passion, of wanting you–all of you.
Their “sex” will be lacking.
Believe me, dear girl, I know what crazy hot lovemaking is made of. Until the boy can assure you of the following, it is not true passion.
If he can patiently wait for over three years. From pregnant to (not pregnant) to pregnant to nursing, with your hormones fierce, and desire often dead. “Please, just let me sleep. I am so tired.” will be your common response. Until he can love you still, choose you still, it is not true passion.
If He can call you beautiful when even your feet are swollen from baby belly.  Call you perfect after your belly hangs loose with skin and your eyes deep with bags. Until he can still call you these things, it is not true passion.
You may throw things at him, yell words of hate and shame as you feel the hormones and anxiety of post baby blues run deep. Until he can love you even deeper, piercing through the pain into your heart, it is not true passion.
He will go to work where there are other women, pretty women. Pretty women with no children and varicose free, high heeled legs. I know the way they toss their pretty little hair to and fro.

He will come home to you, your hair pulled back into the frizziest of buns (I had none) a baby on your hip, spit up down your arm. Until he can come home to you–you with no makeup–and express there is nothing as wonderful as seeing your face, it is not true passion.

You are touched by his love, and whisper tonight you will return the favor. Tonight there is a crying baby and a feverish toddler who just joined you in bed. Until he can laugh, fully laugh about this, it is not true passion.
Can a man like this exist? Yes, dear girl, and you call him your dad. He has shown me what true love is.
The hormones have faded. I am not pregnant. I am not nursing. My own passion has returned. Can I truly say “returned?” I really had no idea what passion was. So intense, so raw, I cannot put it fully into words.
I am not in love with just another man. I am in love with the father of my babies. The one who called me beautiful through nights of ugly, called me strong through days of weak, called me valuable through days of uncertainty. The one who waited patiently for me. 
This is love dear girl. This is passion. It is being one with he who is going to be there for you, till death do you part, regardless. It is something mystical and unexplainable. It is something crazy. It is crazy hot sex.
Wait dear girl. Wait for him. There is nothing so beautiful as finding your heart in his, the one who will wait for you–even after marriage.
  

Checkmate

One would think this would be one of my easiest post to write. I don’t even know where to begin. They don’t use the term “cancer free” anymore since there is no guarantee, but what I was told, I will take it. Immediately afterwards I took my mother in law and my parents straight to my favorite local watering hole, South Side Tavern! I needed a drink to celebrate and calm the emotional up-rising inside of me.

I was told today that I am FREE AND CLEAR from ALL DISEASE. I sit here tears streaming and reflect back on the last year.  I cant even believe what has happened. I miraculously had a baby, went through 4 months of chemo while pregnant, 6 surgeries, lost a boob (well worth it) and probably some things that my brain has chosen to forget about. Everything, Everything I have done has lead up to this moment,  this paramount moment. It was almost feeling like this was impossible to achieve… which is probably why I am feeling like such an emotional mess right now. My emotions are all over the board making it really hard to put them into words on paper (or computer screen). Once I can gather all my thoughts up, organize them, I will write more. For now lets just bask in the words of FREE AND CLEAR OF ALL DISEASE!

faith family hope

 

 

Crazy car

“Its a good thing you had the mastectomy” is just want I wanted to hear from my cancer surgeon after I spent endless weeks upon days. Deliberating over and over again if indeed I needed to execute my right breast for the good of my body and my family. After hearing those words I was proud and so happy I did the right thing. I had a gut feeling, something wasn’t right here and turned out to be true…it wasn’t. But then in next breath, my smile quickly went away and I realized “Oh crap, what did you find?”  It is also the last thing I wanted to hear. He we go on the crazy car ride. You know the ride where the car goes all over the place, where you hold on for dear life, you try and get off but it keeps on going and going.  Hold on tight people, here we go.

It was somewhat of a quick phone call and one that left me baffled. I was told that there were two more tumors found in my breast and NO ONE knew about them. SURPRISE!!! I think to myself are you frickin kidding me? More cancer, what?!?! You would think my next question would have been to the tune of where did it come from, why didn’t anyone know about it. But I was a few pain pills deep and  just so excited my breast was taken for good reason, I hung up the phone. I heard all I wanted to hear at the time.

Since, these new findings have really shaken me. It puts this cancer in a whole new kind of category for me. I once was confident that when I am done with treatment I will be done with this cancer. But now, not so much, breast cancer is sneaky, its a sly little devil that lingers in the shadows. Hiding waiting to destroy. It is trying its hardest to stay inside and do it’s shifty work in the dark. I don’t feel safe any more. I feel like I no longer have a hold on this. My control (if you really have any control with breast cancer) has been taken away. My crazy car is off the track with no driver.

The mastectomy to me seemed radical. But something, someone (God) kept telling me over and over again….get rid of it. I knew something wasn’t right and it wasn’t. I can’t even believe what they found. Imagine if I went ahead with another re-excision,(re-excision meaning- take more tissue from the breast, not removing the whole thing, leaving breast tissue behind) these two new cancer areas would have never been removed. They would have been left behind to slowly poison, possibly spread and potentially kill me. I would have finished treatment thinking all is well and BAM!!!  Only to show up on mammogram 6 months from now a new cancer and start this whole thing over again from square one again. Those thoughts are terrifying. To do this all over again… I, I just couldn’t.

Tomorrow I will gather with my team of doctors to talk about whats next. Where do we stand. Does anything change or am I good since I removed the entire breast and ALL the cancer. I have yet to hear the words “Cancer Free” although are you really ever free from cancer? Tomorrow hopefully the wheel of my crazy car will be taken and I will be back on a track, back in control.

To end on a better note, tonight I got to rock my sweet Coraline to sleep. I have tried before but usually ended in pain and Cora taken by Nate to finish the job. Not tonight. It felt good. I am getting better.

boob scarf