Saturday, October 24, 2015

Forgot to show you my new hair color!!

Did NOT intend for it to be so red.  I was looking for dark brown, with copper overtones.  haHA!  Oh well.  Its going to grow out super fast.  Like my hairstylist said, "Its growing like a weed!!"

And she showed me how to use "hair paste" to tame the frizz and give it texture.   Oooooo.   Aaaaaaaah.  Another hair product to add to my cabinet.... :P

Survivorship, Day 1

I took my first Tamoxifen today.  Only 1,824 days (5 years) left!  hahaaaaaaaaa.   ha.

I was nervous about how it would make me feel.  I felt a little queasy and fuzzy headed for a little bit - however, it could've been because I went too long before eating some breakfast.  And after some coffee, my fuzzy headedness went away.  Don't know if it was related.  But, regardless, I welcome it with open arms, for it will ensure that I live many many years of awesome life.  My oncologist said the benefit of Tamoxifen is as great, if not greater, than chemotherapy.  Another weapon in my arsenal.

Yesterday was celebration of the end of radiation.  I consider this day:  Survivorship, Day 1.   And I'm dressing the part.  I bought some new workout clothes yesterday, to get me ready and excited for my more active lifestyle.  Nothing like new outfits to get you ready!  So I'm wearing new sweatpants today, not because I actually did anything active, but because:  Saturday.  ha.  But, hey, its a start.  I'm doing  Zumba after-school on Monday.  And I bought some new tennis shoes today.  I've known my last pair of tennis shoes longer than I've known my husband!  Yep.

In other news, the Royals won the American League Championship last night!   Woke up to all kinds of fun shares on the Facebook.

My favorites:

#boysinblue   #worldseriesbound2015   #takethecrown   #believe  #blueoctoberisthebest

Thursday, October 22, 2015

DONE! but "treatment" to be continued...

Finished my last radiation today!

And the view is great from up here!!!  I get to celebrate with a day off from work tomorrow!!  Well, you didn't ask, but I'll tell you:   I'm getting my hair did, and then I'll do some yoga, and then I'll take a nap, and then I'll read a book, and then I'll......... do some other really fun stuff I haven't decided yet!  :) :) :)  (and I'll watch the royals game somewhere in there too!)


I rang the bell.  It was really loud, oops!

Good quote, next to the bell. "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11"

Superman had flowers delivered to my treatment, because he is stuck at parent-teacher conferences tonight.  He is always the hit of the doctor's office!!! :)  Whatta guy! <3
And the technicians made me a "graduation certificate".  :)

Through the process of this radiation regimen, I've proven to myself that I CAN #workmyproperdutyday.  Six weeks of radiation everyday, and I didn't miss a single one.  Heck!  I wasn't even late for one (anybody who knows me realizes this is nothing short of a miracle!)  I'm fully capable of dropping my work and leaving.  Pick up where I left off tomorrow, after I've gone home and participated in gratitude, acceptance, and healing.  Do the good work on another day.  (There are still SOME things that I continue to do at home, bad teacher, bad, but its kept to a minimum...)

So I've decided to continue my "treatment".  Put down all the stressful things at 3:30 and leave.  My treatment options include:  Go do Zumba. Go walk my dog.  Go to the gym.  Do yoga.  Still thinking of that personal trainer thing.  And looking into fitbit type devices.  
One of my co-workers showed me hers today, and, yep, its pretty darn cool.  It'll motivate me to keep moving!
I committed myself to treatment of some sort for the last 8 months.  I can certainly continue my "treatment" forever.  Check.

Cheers to continued "Treatment"!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


One more.  One and done, people!

"Rocks in my path?  I keep them all.  With them I shall build my castle."  ~Nemo Nox

"Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny."  ~C.S. Lewis

"The deep sense that 'I am blessed' can help you overcome any obstacles in life." ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Two more!

To give you an idea of what my skin is doing, here's a gross picture.

Centralized right under my armpit is the yuckiest part.  The rest of it is not that bad.  In fact, this picture was taken over the weekend, and its already getting better.

My radiation oncologist prescribed me some burn cream too, which I'll start using tonight.  Again, totally in the normal range of reactions.  Its just uncomfortable at times.  Where my skin has peeled, there is healthy skin underneath, and that's a very good thing!  Can't tell you how thankful I am that my body bounces back as good as it does.  I have a new appreciation for the healing properties of the immune system, and the affect of a good night's sleep on the rejuvenating process.  Sleep is a top priority.  And I have to say, I only had one "break down" moment in the evening.  It was last week sometime.  Superman commented on how I wasn't going to stay up for just a few more minutes for the last inning of baseball, and I'm like "NOPE. Can't do it. *tears*."  And I went to bed.  And the Royals won without me, as they are often prone to doing in the last innings of any game.

So anyway.  My skin.  Owie.  But its already getting better, and I'm still living the good life.

Currently eating pie, and watching baseball.  #thegoodlife


Sunday, October 18, 2015


Breast Cancer Awareness Month






Another thing that people choose to be upset about.

I've been thinking/composing this post in my head for about 3 weeks now.   I was all prepared to say something to the effect - "I know what I'm talking about.  I AM a breast cancer patient.  I WILL BE the authority on this subject.  Everybody else: shut your mouths, get over yourself, and just be supportive of people who would like to expand awareness of this cause."

Since then, only one thing remains, "Just be supportive of people who would like to expand the awareness of this cause."

I read an article where someone had the audacity to say that Susan G. Komen Foundation is the reason we haven't found a cure yet and the deaths of all future dead breast cancer patients lies on their shoulders.  Too which the sentiment "shut your mouths" immediately exploded in my brain.

However, I do understand the sentiment and the anger of this article, which was written by also a breast cancer patient, and yes, they deserve some validity and authority on the subject.  Because its important.  This is something that matters.  Its not frivolous diarrhea of the mouth.  It is the feelings and perception of real people affected directly by breast cancer.

So I invite you to become more aware of where research funds go.   Everybody sees that pink ribbon, and thinks, yes, breast cancer.  Find the cure!  Take my money!

Just because a product has a pink ribbon on it doesn't mean that money is going towards research for the cure.  Or early detection.  Or anything else.

My school recently did a PASSIONATELY PINK week.  Our nurse collected donations.  She informed us of the shocking statistic that Wyandotte County has the highest death rate in the country of breast cancer death.  Everybody in the school wore pink.  We did raffle tickets for prizes.  Took pictures to send in with our donation to the Susan G. Komen foundation.  And it was awesome.  And although, there are breast cancer survivors who do not like the "pink-washing", I am not one of those people.  Because I am a Thrivor, and its because of my experience with cancer that I am this way, and happier for it.

I've read statistics on where research money goes.  Most of it is towards early detection efforts, and the sharing of victorious stories (SUCH AS MYSELF), of women who beat it.  I did that.  I am a picture perfect representation of how far treatment for breast cancer has come.


But, breast cancer in the breast, does NOT KILL women (and men).  Its when it spreads to other parts of the body "Metastatic Stage IV" breast cancer that kills.  And the information I'm reading is that less than 2% of funds raised towards research goes to finding that cure.  Sometimes even early detection does not catch cancer before it metasizes. ( <--- probably not a word. )

So, perhaps, instead of blindly buying the pink-washed products, take the time to go online and find an organization that is using the money correctly.   Do the research.  I know I mentioned Susan G. Komen earlier in a negative way.  I'm not saying they aren't worthy.  I don't know.  I want to do my research too...


Four radiation treatments left!!!


And I just picked up my Tamoxifen medication, which I'll start this weekend.

Boy-o-boy, my skin is ready to be done.  Its peeling, very tender, and ominous-looking (the technicians assured me that it is reacting typically, and normally).  Anytime I raise my right arm, my armpit screeches "Wowie, Ouchie!"


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Changing habits

So I'm 2 weeks away from the end of radiation!!! (Oct 22)   Things have been going very well.  It wasn't until this week that my skin started to get really pink/red, but they tell me its holding up really well.  No oozing or anything, so that is a good sign.  I've been putting massive amounts of aloe on it several times a day, as directed.  The lady before me, who I made friends with in passing from waiting room encounters, finished up this week, and she was telling me that her skin was starting to peel, so I guess I can expect that in my near future.  And I have noticeably been getting more tired in the evenings.  Somewhere around 8:45pm, I feel KER-THUNK, and I just know I'm done for the day.  haha.   However, it could be also the head cold I'm currently fighting too.  Darn, head colds.  Every time the weather changes, there it is! #kidgerms

I also had an appointment with my oncologist this week.  I love to see her!  And all the staff at medical oncology.  They are so nice and excited whenever we come in.  Superman came with me to the appointment and they immediately comment on 1. my hair  2. how cute we look in our royals shirts together.  Superman left early to rush back to Topeka Jazz Workshop rehearsal, and one of the office ladies was like "You have such great support.  We talk about you and your husband all the time.  You are so lucky."  To which I reply, Han-Solo-Style, "I know."  Followed by big smile.  And I hear Ben Fold's "The luckiest" playing in my brain.  :)

My oncologist went ahead and sent in my prescription for Tamoxifan, which I will start taking immediately a day or two after I'm done, and listed through the expected side effects.

She asked me if I've started up my menstrual cycle yet.  NOPE.  Been wondering, and hoping my ovaries don't try to make up for lost time.  (RAWR!  How dare you put us to sleep like that!  Let's shed All The Things.)  At some point, they will come back, and probably irregularly for awhile.  She said when I become regular, I need to watch out for abnormal bleeding because that could be a sign of uterine/endometrial cancer, of which Tamoxifan has a SLIGHT risk for.  (One in ten thousand risk.  The benefits FAR FAR outweigh the risks.  She said she has never seen it happen in her career, but you gotta keep an eye on that.  Plus, my genetic testing was all negative too.)  She also said to watch out for blood clots in the legs, abnormal swelling and pain, because of the risk of clotting.  However, I'm at low risk for that because I've never had blood clotting issues before.  Hot flashes may continue, but will probably go away after my periods come back.  I've still been having them anyway from chemo/ovary shut down.  Not as often.  Thats a non-issue for me.  Especially with cooler weather coming up.  There's a misconception that Tamoxifan puts you into menopause.  She says, that is not true.  In fact, sometimes its used as a fertility drug.  haha! whoa!

We talked about frequency of future testing.  Mammograms every 6 months.  But because of my density, I will probably need to do MRI's too, because the mammograms may be unclear.  (UG.  MENTAL TORTURE.  1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-2-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-3-2....skip.....How many more minutes left?????!)

No plans for CAT scans or anything unless I experience new symptoms or have any concerns.  She said I'm at very low risk for reoccurrence and scheduling unnecessary tests would just put me through uncertainty, stress waiting for results, and unneeded radiation.  She said things that would cause concern is if I'm having pain in my hip I've never had before, or pulled a muscle, or a cough/cold that doesn't clear up on its own after 2 weeks, those are times that I should call and say something.  Its still unlikely to be cancer, but that's when they would think about, ok, maybe its time to schedule that CAT scan.

I mentioned that I have tight joints in my hips and shoulders after I've been sitting down.  She said its probably the after-effects of chemo and that I should keep moving and exercising and it will get better.  Chemo doesn't cause permanent damage to joints.

She did say she would refer me for a physical therapy session for my right arm, just to get information regarding lymphedema (of which I have low risk for because of my lower invasive lymph node removal).  She wants me to get fitted for sleeve, so I can wear it if I fly in an airplane or whatever, to prevent swelling.  Lymphedema, once it happens, is NOT curable.  So its important to prevent it from happening.

I had a few questions:
My tumor showed 50% estrogen and 50% progesterone receptors.  Tamoxifan treats estrogen.  What about progesterone?  She told me a medically complicated answer about cancer cells binding onto this or regulating and that estrogen related to progesterone mechanisms so it works for both, blah blah.  I didn't really understand it, but it sounded good and I feel comfortable that the other half of the problem is being treated too.

Other questions - I'm cleared to get a tattoo. (my little pink elephant!  I'm thinking sometime in February to commemorate my one year from diagnosis).  I'm not at risk of infection or bleeding or anything like that.  Doctor approved.

And I can color treat my hair whenever I'm ready.  Want to liven up my ash brown/grey weird hair. I'll be ready for another haircut really soon, so I think I'll just set up to get it colored at the same time. :)

I am admittedly overly obsessive about what I eat/drink now.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that.  I have successfully changed many things about my diet.  I'm not super strict about it.  Occasionally I do break my rules and eat/drink something that isn't the best choice, but what I'm happy about is that I have changed the habits.

The next thing I want to change is activity and exercise.  During the week, I am very active, on my feet all day long.  But on days I don't work, wholly cow, if I'm not careful, I could potentially, and history has proven, that I can sit on a couch for 48 hours straight.  This has got to change.
I'm excited about the teacher in my building that does Zumba classes in our cafeteria twice a week.  As soon as radiation is done, I will be participating in that.  And I, of course, keep doing my yoga.  But I need more.  I've casually been pondering the fit bit, or something like that, that tracks activity, steps, motivates, etc.  I've casually pondered a personal trainer too.  But that's a habit that has to change, for sure.  How much I move.  

Another habit I've changed...working too much.  Radiation has forced me to prioritize my work differently.  I have to drop everything and run at 2:55 to make it to my appointment.  So I prioritize, what has to be done at work, what can I do at home, is this item really that important, how can I do this more efficiently.  I have to say, I'm rocking it!  So when my schedule goes back to normal, I am very confident that I can stick to #workmyproperdutyday.  Heck, leaving at 3:30 will feel luxurious.  Look at all this extra time I have to get this done!!  And now its 3:30pm,  I can go participate in Acceptance, Gratitude, and Healing!

Whelp, that's all for today.  However, I have another blog post brewing.  On the subject of Pinktober.  Stay tuned....

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Surviving and Thriving

Words of wisdom I'd like to remember:


A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I 
hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything."

Remember to put the glass down.

(Courtesy of Jimmy Harmon)


3.   And I discovered a new restaurant/cafe/tea house place:
I had seen it before, driving past it several times, but assumed from the title that it was a furniture store or something.  Nope.  Health food cafe.  Very yummy.  Very healthy.  A new place for me to hang out and do work while consuming good hot beverages. :)

Acceptance.  Gratitude.  Healing.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Blew up my world

Two musicians blew up my world this week.

The Black Violin duo.  A few years ago, a student showed me a youtube video.  I latched onto the two musicians because, well, because they're black.  I'm always on the lookout for inspirational videos for my urban youth.   I liked their music alright, so when I heard they were going to be performing in Lawrence, I thought, I'm there!  I had no expectations, good or bad, going in and, WOW, they blew me away.

They spoke about their upbringing in an inner city school.  They raved about their h.s. orchestra teacher that made a difference for them and who helped them land a full ride to college.  They talked about how that teacher was a father figure to them, and even taught one of them how to drive.  They described their journey creating their own thing, outside of the box, bridging classical music with other popular styles.  They spoke on how they are often stereotyped based on their size, and skin color.

That resonated with me.  You can't judge a book by its cover.  Get to know what's going on with people, before you make a judgement.  This concept of breaking stereotypes embraces so many issues we are experiencing in our world today.

Its bigger than race.  I read and hear people that are upset about the Black Lives Matter movement.  They say, but All Lives Matter.  (I agree with that sentiment), but when somebody is supporting a Save the Whales campaign, I don't hear anyone complaining that all animals matter Save All The Animals.  Of course, all animals matter.  But perhaps the Whales need some attention, and some global awareness of the issue.  Breaking the stereotypes.

I just can't get enough of Black Violin and their message.  

And then, I realized one of my greatest professional fears.  What if I have a potential Black Violin duo in my music room, and I'm not serving them?  Whether it be, stifling their creativity because of my inflexible lesson plans....or turning them away because I'm nagging on their behavior...or not differentiating my lesson for someone who needs extra time and accommodation...or not creating enough of a challenge for those students ready to excel...or killing someone's enjoyment in my room because of a flippant comment made in the wrong tone of voice...or this....or that.......

I keep thinking of a particular tough class where the struggle is REALZ.  Crap hit the fan for some of my trouble-makers this week.  I had students crossing my door's threshold, literally, dragging themselves and audibly groaning at the start of another day in band.  It broke me.  How did this happen?

I came home from Black Violin's concert last night, in tears.  Don't get me wrong, I had a great time, and their show was worth every penny.  But my inner peace was completely destroyed.
Superman had to practically talk me off the ledge.  Telling me:
Your classroom isn't going to be like a movie.  You're not Mr. Holland.  You can't reach every kid.

Its not my first rodeo.  I know I'm not going to reach every kid.  But for some reason, I'm really really struggling.

But I have to turn back to my mantra - the reality of how I'm thriving.

Gratitude - Thankful for and remember the lessons that Black Violin taught me this week.
Acceptance - I can't do everything, I can't solve every problem, I can't save every kid.
Healing - Take care of myself first, and my students will ultimately benefit.

We owe this guy EVERYTHING!! Everyday in 2nd period, you made us push our limits and dream the impossible dream. You always told us that the violin could take us to places we never imagined and you were so right! You never stopped pushing us and because of you we received a free college education and have ultimately realized our true calling. It was our honor to have you and your family as our guests at our concert last night and we hope you enjoyed your well deserved #StandingOvation from 1,400 fans last night. Thank you for always believing in us! You truly helped us become the men we are today and you are one of the biggest reasons that we continue to break #Stereotypes. We are forever grateful to you Mr. Miles!!!  #ThankYou #ThankYou #ThankYou #DillardHighSchool #KU #Kansas #LiedCenter#JamesMiles #OrchestraTeacher