a new beginning.

Happy Easter!

I apologize for not updating sooner.  The truth is, I ended up getting my drains out the Friday following my surgery (4 days post op) and I have been so busy being NORMAL that I haven’t had time to write.  I have been so amazed at how quickly my body bounced back from my exchange surgery.  I was sure that it might be harder on me given that it was my 3rd surgery in 6 months, but I have had no problems!  I mean… within 5 days I was cheering on the best team in the country… the UK WILDCATS… within 7 days I was back to work full-time, within 9 days I was back walking my neighborhood as usual, and within 2 weeks I was doing light (VERY LIGHT) yard work.

Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since my exchange surgery and I head back to see Dr. Noel on Friday.  As long as everything looks good, I will get clearance to start working out again.  I cannot believe I am saying this, but I CANNOT WAIT to go to the gym.  It has been so long since I felt good enough to get really good exercise.  I am hoping that this Friday will be the day!

I hope all of you all have had a blessed holiday.  I love Easter.  It is abosolutely my favorite holiday of the year.

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This year I was especially appreciative of the real meaning of the holiday.  I couldn’t help but reflect on how different my life is now than it was at this time last year.  Last April I was still very much consumed with grief over losing my sweet mom and I had developed terrible anxiety over developing cancer myself.  I had frequent panic attacks and my troubles were starting to really interfere with my relationships, my job, my daily functioning, and my health.  My fear over cancer is what eventually led me to get BRCA testing last July and when I got my positive diagnosis I felt consumed and more hopeless than ever.

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However, shortly after finding out I carried the gene, everything started falling into place for me.  I found amazing doctors, developed a great plan of action, and my friends and family rallied around me.  With every step I made toward mastectomy, the better I felt…. and once I had the surgery, I not only felt my anxiety dissipate, but I felt more peace toward losing my sweet mom.  Having surgery helped me finally turn 10 years of cancer paralyzation and grief into a story of hope and strength.

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Since my surgery, I have felt more full of life everyday. I know I have more surgeries in front of me and my health is not guaranteed, but I have learned through all of this that God is taking care of me and I can trust Him to work all things together for good.  He gave me doctors when I needed guidance and expertise, amazing friends when I needed family, healing when I was broken, and hope when all I’d felt was sadness.  He  took my own personal nightmare and turned it into a true blessing.

As I celebrate Easter today, I am so thankful for the resurrection.  For me, the Easter story is the ultimate story of hope and it is God’s promise to us that all things, even when they seem the worst, can turn out for the better… winter will turn into spring, night will turn into morning, tragedies can turn into triumphs, nightmares can turn into blessings, death can turn into life.

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I hope you all had a blessed holiday.

Jayne

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a surgery.

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Welp.  Here I am. I cannot believe I am actually writing my first post following my exchange surgery.  My expanders are officially a distant memory and I am spending my spring break recovering and getting used to my new, expander-free life.  I had looked forward to this surgery for so long… and now its over…it seems bizarre that I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Although everything turned out ok, the road leading up to my exchange surgery wasn’t quite as smooth as I had anticipated.  I spent all week last week preparing because I was originally scheduled to have surgery last Friday, March 28th.  However, the stomach flu had different plans for me.  I became extremely sick last Thursday and, when I called his office, Dr. Noel recommended that we postpone surgery until I felt better.  Obviously, that was the right thing to do, but at the time I was super disappointed.  I cried. Silly, I know…. but I was SOOOO ready to get rid of those expanders!!!.  So, I spent 4 days in bed and drank more water and Gatorade than any one person should in a lifetime. THANKFULLY I was better just in time to have surgery Monday morning.

So, with even more anticipation that normal, I woke up early Monday and got all ready for my operation.  Just like before my first surgery, I showered and washed with this special anti-bacterial soap that tingled like crazy.  Then, I curled my hair and put on mascara and lip gloss, even though they said not to wear makeup. =)   What can I say… I like to bend the rules a little bit.  Finally, it was 10:30am and my friend Sarah and Super Husband drove me over to the hospital.

Even though I was excited to have this surgery, I was a little more nervous going into this surgery than my last.  I know the first surgery was a much bigger deal and had a much longer recovery… but this surgery was different for me.  It marked the first major medical event in my life that I would go through without any family.  As most of you know, I am an only child and my mom passed away a couple of years ago.  Until about a year ago, my dad was my only family within about 500 miles.  Now,  my dad… well… he isn’t around anymore.  So, going into surgery alone made things feel pretty different for me this time around.

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I know I am 30 years old.  I know I have an amazingly sweet and capable husband.  I know God has blessed me with the most amazing friends on the planet.  However, there just isn’t anything that can take the place of knowing that a parent… someone who loves you more than anything… is waiting on YOU to come out of surgery.  For reasons I am still trying to figure out, this just wasn’t in the cards for me this time and knowing that made me much more anxious than I normally would have been as I headed over to the hospital.

Fortunately, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about things once I got to the hospital. As soon as I checked into the surgery waiting area, the nurses called me back to get ready.  I tell ya, that hospital always runs on time!  It’s so nice.  Once I changed into a hospital gown and verified my name and date of birth about a gazillion times, they finally let me have some company.

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Here I am with Super Husband.  He is so good.

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And, here I am with my friend Sarah…. Laura and her sweet mom were also there with me.    They were such good company and did a great job distracting me while I waited.  I am super bummed I didn’t get a picture with all of them.

Finally, Dr. Noel came to check in with me and do all his final markings.

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After we’d had a chance to talk (and Dr. Noel ASSURED me that I will someday be able to do push ups again), they gave me all kinds of medication, put me in a hair net, and I said goodbye to my people.

Before I knew it, I was back in what seemed like the same stark, white operating room thinking about the same beach that brought me peace during my last surgery.  The next thing I remember is waking up in recovery.

As I prepared for this surgery, I was told by lots of other women that this surgery was “a BREEZE” and “so much easier on your body” compared to the first surgery.  Well, let me tell you… if you are getting ready to have your exchange surgery and this is what you’ve heard… YOU HAVE HEARD CORRECTLY!!!  There is just no comparison to how you feel post mastectomy and post exchange.  When I woke up in recovery, I was in very little pain and was even able to walk and get myself dressed.  Even though it sounds weird, my chest actually felt better after surgery than it had before.  My poor chest muscles had been so sore and strained over those crazy expanders and I felt like I woke up to instant relief.  I stayed in recovery an hour or so and before I knew it, they were sending me home.  My surgery had started at 12:30pm and I was home by 5pm.  CRAZY.

The last few days since surgery have been a blur of company, percocet, naps, and Sex and the City reruns.   I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy doing absolutely nothing. Ha. Thank goodness my sweet friends have come over to see me so I don’t Pinterest myself to death.

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At this point, I am three days post exchange and the only medication I am taking is an antibiotic to prevent infection.  I am not hurting AT ALL from the surgery and haven’t needed to take any pain meds since yesterday morning.  I can’t drive and I’ve only taken a couple small trips outside the house, but for now that’s ok with me… especially since I have these back…

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THE DREADED, HORRIBLE DRAINS.

I am hoping that these beauties will be removed tomorrow during my follow-up appointment with Dr. Noel.  I know they are important for a healthy recovery… but I need them out for many reasons.  First, they are driving me crazy.  Second, the dang things hurt…. those tubes are sewn into your skin!!!! Last… and MOST important… I need to get rid of these things so I can cheer on my UK Wildcats when they play in the Final Four on Saturday!!!!!!  It’s hard to cheer when you have all these crazy bulbs hanging around and holding you down.  Say a little prayer for me…  TAKE. THEM. OUT.

I’ll keep you posted.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!

Jayne

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a silver lining.

images9Woah.  It really has been a while. Life sorta took off after my birthday and I’ve been staying super busy.  If you’d like to know what I’ve been up to the last few weeks, I can sum it up in just a few pictures….

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snow.

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ice.

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snow and ice.

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cold.

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more snow and ice.

Like so many people this winter, Louisville has been overwhelmed with crazy amounts of snow compared to what we normally see in the winter.  So far, we have racked up 10 snow days and have had countless school delays.  Public schools are going to be in session until June 12 at this point. MAJOR. BOO.

Even though I’ve had time off because of the snow, it has actually made teaching more challenging and time-consuming.  I’ve spent a ridiculous number of snow days going to school anyway in hopes of trying to figure out how to combine and embed concepts within other lessons so I can make up for lost time.  At this point, state testing has not been moved, so I’m doing my best to not let my kids get behind even though we’ve lost so much instructional time.

Other than working on school stuff… and maybe watching a few episodes of Melrose Place on Netflix…. I’ve had a lot to celebrate the last few weeks!  First of all, I found out that one of my most favorite people… who shall remain anonymous… is PREGNANT!!!  I cannot wait to spoil that little baby with all kinds of cute things.

Second, I’ve had a couple of precious friends get married!!

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Ignore my crazy red eyes… not sure how to edit those silly things. Both weddings were beautiful and SO FUN.  Congrats to my gorgeous friends! Love you to pieces.

So, here I am, almost 5 months post mastectomy and life is fairly normal.   There are a couple small things related to my recovery that I’d like to mention in the event you are considering or recovering from surgery.

First of all, I have realized a HUGE perk (pun totally intended) of having a mastectomy with reconstruction.

NO BRA… EVER.

Have you ever stopped to think about the clothing options you would have if you didn’t have to worry about under garments on your top half?  I was never one to mind the feeling of a bra, but I definitely ruled out certain types of shirts and dresses when they were cut too low or slightly see through because I didn’t want to have to buy a new, special bra.  Well… NEVER AGAIN!  Not sure if you can tell, but the dress I wore to my sweet friend Jess’ wedding was black, see through lace and I didn’t have to worry about whether not my bra straps would be seen.  SUCH FREEDOM!

I couldn’t help but notice that Angelina Jolie… who is also BRCA+… is reaping the same benefit.  She wore a smoking hot dress to the Oscars… and I would bet a million dollars she isn’t wearing any type of bra underneath.

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I mean… that dress is see through.  No bra or crazy contraption holding everything up and in place.  She looks amazing.

You might be thinking that I care way too much about this. However.. it’s in the silver linings that you can find peace with difficult choices. Don’t judge.

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The second recovery update I wanted to share involves exercise.

Prior to surgery, I was pretty active.  I went to the gym 4-5 times a week to do cardio and lift weights.  Obviously, after surgery I had to slow down quite a bit.  For several weeks all I did was walk my neighborhood.  I could have gone back to the gym to walk on the treadmill or do other light cardio, but I just felt too weird and out of shape and was afraid I would hurt myself.  Then, once the snow craziness started, my outside walking plan went out the window and I was left feeling pretty much like an overstuffed sloth.

So, just after my birthday, I went to Target and made my first workout video purchase ever!

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Target didn’t have the best selection, so I ended up buying two Jillian Michaels videos.  I wasn’t real sure what the quality would be like, but for $10 I felt like it was work the risk.  As it would turn out, these videos have been PERFECT for me.  Both videos have leveled segments, which was a great help as I slowly worked toward building  up my strength and endurance.  I also really like that there are only a few chest exercises built into the workouts and they can be easily modified. This is absolutely necessary since my chest muscles are still super weak from being on top of my expanders.  Last… these videos are awesome because I CAN DO THEM AT HOME.  I hate going out in the cold, so I love that I don’t have to get all bundled up to drive to the gym.  Furthermore, I can wear whatever I want without worrying if I look “gym appropriate”.  Even though I don’t wear a bra on a regular basis, I have been wearing a loose sports bra as I work out… it just helps me feel a little more secure.  Sometimes I also wear a tank top that has a built-in bra inside.

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Neither the sports bra or the tank are very tight… and I wouldn’t wear anything too tight without consulting your plastic surgeon.  I wouldn’t want anyone to constrict the area and cause themselves pain or complications.  Always, always, always, ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST!

I feel so much better now that I’ve been able to exercise again.  It’s just another way that my life has gotten closer to what I was used to prior to surgery.  I feel so much stronger… and I know I’m stronger because I can do some CRAZY things with my chest muscles that I was never able to do before.  I won’t get into the details… but it is definitely interesting… HA!

SPEAKING OF SURGERY…. My exchange surgery is in 23 days!!!  I cannot wait.

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For those of you wondering, this surgery will take place so the surgeon can remove my tissue expanders and replace them with impants.  This surgery will be much less complicated than my last… thank goodness.

Someone actually asked me last week… “Why are you having so many surgeries?  Isn’t this like a boob job?  Those aren’t normally this complicated, are they?”  Look, people… a double mastectomy with reconstruction is about as similar to a boob job as Michael Jackson is to Princess Diana.  I mean, the two have NOTHING in common.  Do you really think I would dedicate all this time, energy, and writing to a boob job!?!?  Geeze.  No.

So, since this surgery means closing the door on an extremely emotional and complicated situation, I am really looking forward to it!!!

Let’s hope there is no more snow between now and then… I want to recover in the midst of spring!!!!

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I’ll try to write more often.

Happy Tuesday.

Jayne

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a birthday.

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It’s official.  I’m 30 years old.  I spent the last two weeks before my birthday pretending it wasn’t actually going to happen.  Getting older seemed like a curse.  Then, thanks to one of my favorite coworkers,  I realized turning 30 is a huge privilege.  Not only do I get the chance to turn 30, but I get to do it with good health and tons of opportunities in my future. So, I reframed my thinking and, so far, It hasn’t been so bad.  Matter of fact, I have this feeling that it might be my best year yet!

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To celebrate the end of my third decade of life, Super Husband secretly arranged several surprises.  First, my brother-in-law, his girlfriend, and my sister-in-law all came to visit for the weekend.  Second, when I walked downstairs on Saturday morning, I found my Super Husband’s parents sitting in my living room!  They drove all the way to Kentucky to wish me a happy birthday and deliver my gifts (I have the best in-laws ever!!).  As if that weren’t enough… he also invited all my favorite people to come to our house for a party last Saturday night.  I really just had the best time… it was an entire weekend of fun and it was the best birthday I’ve ever had!

Here are some of my favs from the birthday celebration…

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There were a lot of people who came and didn’t find their way into a picture… boo.  I did, however, get a picture of Kimmie, Paige, and I cleaning up a giant glass of red wine that Super Husband spilled on my rug. Whoops. He almost set the house on fire too… he tripped while carrying the birthday cake with burning candles.  He was a mess!

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In case you are wondering… ALL of the wine came out of the rug.  I was shocked… and relieved.

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In addition to celebrating my birthday this week… I also spent a lot of time thinking about my sweet mom.  Yesterday she would have turned 67.  I always loved that our birthdays were so close together.  Made for some fun celebrations.

I know there are a lot of people out there who have lost their mom…. especially those of us who are BRCA carriers… seems like way too many of us have lost our moms too soon.  To be very honest, it sucks.

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I miss my mom everyday.  I have wished over and over that she was here to guide me through all this surgery stuff.  I think she’d be pleased with the choices I’ve made.  Even though she’s not here anymore, I feel myself wanting to have prophylactic surgery for her just as much as for myself.  It’s like it helps me right the wrong that she endured.

All to say, I’m pretty determined to make this my best year yet… for me… for her…  for my future kids. Only 61 more days until I can put this part of being BRCA+ behind me and move on to some bigger and better things!

Have a good week.

Jayne

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a celebration.

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That’s right… I am done!  No more fills for me!!! I could not be more excited!

Before I give you the lovely details of my doctor’s appointment, I wanted to share a couple of things with you.  Ever since I started this blog, the anchor has become a really important symbol for me.  It reminds me of my journey and how proud I am of the choices I’ve made along the way.  Anyway,  the last couple of months I have found some super cute anchor products I wanted to show you.

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This is the sweetest little gold bracelet and I have totally fallen in love with it.  I found it on ebay for an excellent price and I bought several.  I kept one for myself and gave others to some of the amazing women who’ve supported me throughout this whole ordeal.  This happens to be the bracelet that belongs to my sister-in-law (Krissy… by the way… your wrist looks great on camera… hehe). Cute, huh????

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I also received this sweet navy blue sweater for Christmas from Super Husband’s mama.  She knows how to pick out a great gift!!  I know my eyes look crazy tired in this picture… this was taken just after a long day with third graders and a doctor’s appointment, so don’t judge!  Ha! I just love things with stories and meanings behind them.  Love.  This. Sweater.

So… enough about anchors and on to the good stuff!! I am a little late in writing this post…. had a lot going on this weekend.  I had wanted to write sooner, but my friend Jess is getting married soon and my best friend and I threw her a bridal shower this morning.  Since the shower was at my house, I spent most of the weekend cleaning and getting all my decorations ready.  I couldn’t quite find the time to type.  However, the shower is over now, it went well, and here I am!

Here’s the update on what you can expect 3 months (OMG, 3 months!!!) post surgery.

I had a routine expansion appointment with my plastic surgeon last Friday.  I was anxious to see my plastic surgeon because it had been over a month since my last appointment. To my surprise, it ended up being a very productive appointment!

First, I was able to get some information about some soreness that I’d been experiencing.  I mean, let’s be honest, these expanders aren’t fabulous and a little soreness is normal.  However, the last couple of weeks I’d noticed a little extra soreness and, actually, the shape of my right side had changed a little bit.  As it would turn out, my expanders have actually rotated under my skin!  It’s not a huge rotation, but the ports used for my expansions are now located on the sides of my body as opposed to the top.  I guess that would explain a little extra soreness and the change in shape.  My plastic surgeon didn’t seem alarmed and he explained that it wouldn’t have an effect on my final results, so I’m not worried…. but it is interesting to know that something like can happen.

Second, as I already mentioned, I had my final expansion during the appointment.  Yippeeeee!  My expanders  are done being filled and they finished with 400ccs of saline.  I have been pretty fortunate… I haven’t had a lot of discomfort during my expansions.  Usually, just sore for a day or two afterward. However, each of those little expansions has sure added up to quite a lot!  I feel like I am walking around with giant boulders on my chest.  My expanders are much bigger now than I would like my implants to be….  I have been reassured though… my final result will seem smaller because the saline implants will be slightly smaller, have a smaller diameter, and sit slightly lower on my chest.  I sure am hoping!!  I’m feeling rather large and in charge these days!  Ha!

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And last, during my appointment I was able to schedule my exchange surgery!!  March 28th.  I am counting down the days!  I cannot wait to have this surgery and move on from all of this!  My plastic surgeon said the upcoming surgery will take about an hour and will have a much easier recovery than the first surgery.  He also told me that I would come up with 2 drains afterward. BOO.  Major BOO.  However, he said it would only be for 5 days, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. Not sure if I will stay over night in the hospital or come home?  I probably need to look into that.

Now that it’s over, I am really surprised at how well everything went.  The expansion process wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d imagined (I read some horrific stuff and had pretty terrible expectations).  I know I didn’t make it through alone… I owe a lot of my strength to an amazing network of friends and family members who have checked on me and helped me through and through.  I just don’t know how I would have done it without them.

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I also know that I have been extremely blessed to have had excellent care, fabulous doctors, and a recovery without any complications.  Everything really came together.  Such an answer to prayer.

So, the countdown is on… 74 days until my exchange!!  I cannot wait!!!

Until then… keep me in your thoughts.  I turn 30 this Saturday.  YIKES.

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I’m definitely not a cheese… so I’ll go with this for now.

Have a good week.

Jayne

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a wish.

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Wow.  Long time, no write.  I’ve had a lot going on since my last post and I figured New Year’s Eve was a good time to catch up.  Sometimes when a lot happens, it takes me a while to process things before I can put the events into words.  Guess it took me a while this time.

After my last post, I was preparing to have my wisdom teeth removed.  In case you weren’t aware, I had them taken out because of an infection.  According to my doctors, the infection in my tooth put my expanders at risk for infection as well.  So, I had a quick consultation with an oral surgeon and we scheduled my surgery for the following Friday, December  13.

Here I am just after my surgery… on lots of drugs and totally unaware of what was happening.

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I should have known better than to schedule a surgery on Friday the 13th.  The surgery itself was fine, but the recovery was HORRIBLE.  I always thought I had a fairly high pain tolerance…. I’ve had several other surgeries, torn ligaments, and broken bones….but this wisdom tooth removal? It was the most horribly, painful experience of my life.  It was even worse than the pain from my mastectomy.

Here is a picture of me 5 days post surgery…  at this point the swelling had started to recede and I was just bruised.

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I had planned to be back at work the Monday following surgery.  As it would turn out, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t go back for several days.  I wasn’t sure what was taking me so long to heal.  Prior to surgery, I had spoken with several people who said having their teeth removed was a breeze.  Finally, I decided to call the surgeon’s office and they explained that my teeth had been cut out  of my gums and extensive amounts of jaw bone had to be removed so the surgeon could get to the root of the teeth.  Nice, huh?  It would have been GREAT if the surgeon had told me this BEFORE my surgery so I could have planned better care for myself and my classroom at school.  The surgeon’s office that I dealt with, Kentuckiana Oral Surgery,  was really less than fabulous.  A host of other things went wrong and I definitely would not recommend using them.

One of the reasons I was so upset about my delayed healing was that it kept me from spending my favorite week of school with my sweet class.  I love the week before Christmas break.  There is so much healing and magic that can happen when you surround yourself with kids at Christmas.  Their excitement and innocence is so contagious.

Fortunately, I was able to make it back to school for the last couple of days before break.  It was a good thing, because I had big plans for my class.  Every year my friends and family donate toys, hygiene items, and snacks and “Santa” delivers them to my class on the last day before break.  I was so glad I didn’t have to miss it this year.  They are always so surprised.

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I always set this up while my kids are in the special area class so they are shocked when they come back in the room.  I cover their desks with their stockings and such, but I also cover the desks with glitter and little jingle bells to add a little Santa touch.  I also leave a candy trail from the door to the desks and cover their desks with Christmas chocolates. Santa always leaves a note and I always open one of the classroom windows. The kids ALWAYS notice and think Santa came in through the window. =)

Playing Santa for my class has become a yearly tradition for me and my class.  My mom actually helped coordinate Santa’s first visit to my first class 5 years ago.  She drew upon all the things she did for me as a kid and was the brain behind all the extra Santa touches like the candy trail, note, and glitter.  She loved displaying all the gifts under the Christmas tree in my classroom. She also loved helping all the kids put their toys together and the kids LOVED hanging all over her and giving her tons of hugs. Santa’s visit to my classroom is my favorite event of the year because I know how much the kids love it.  I also love it because it helps me carry on the the Christmas traditions that my mom started with me as a child.

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I was especially thankful for the opportunity to have fun with my kids this year because I’d been pretty upset about my Aunt Cindy who lives in Atlanta.  Just this August, she and I had a fabulous day together at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

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My Aunt Cindy and Uncle Ben live pretty far away from me, but they have always kept in touch.  Through the years, we made visits to see them and they have always shown up for every milestone event in my life… weddings, bridal showers, graduations, and funerals.  They even took time away from their kids and grandkids to spend Christmas in Kentucky right after my mom died.

During our drive to the botanical gardens that day, she and I talked a lot about my upcoming mastectomy.  I told her how nervous I was and how I wished my mom could be here to help me after my surgery.  She was so supportive and insisted on coming up to Louisville to be with me in case I needed her.  I was so thankful that she was going to come up and be with me.

However, just before I left to come back to Kentucky, Aunt Cindy started feeling bad and went to the doctor.  I was staying my last night at her house when preliminary scans came back and showed abnormalities in her chest.  That night, I could tell things were not going to be good.  After having been through all the scans and tests with my mom so many times, I could feel that the news was bad.  I left the following day and got news a couple of days later that my Aunt Cindy had advanced lung cancer.

She fought a courageous battle.  She faced chemo, radiation, and several complications and never complained.  She maintained a positive attitude.  She even continued to call and text me about my surgery and recovery in the midst of dealing far more difficult circumstances.

Her short battle with lung cancer ended yesterday.  She passed away at her house after her cancer treatment was discontinued two weeks ago.   I am so shocked at how quickly the cancer took over.  It wasn’t even 4 months ago that she seemed fine.

My Aunt Cindy was full of love and her generous spirit touched too many people to count.  In addition to being a wonderful aunt, she was a sister, a wife, a mother, and grandmother.  She loved life and spending it with her loved ones.  She will surely be missed.

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Hoping 2014 brings my family more love and less pain and sadness.

Wishing you the same.

Jayne

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a snow day.

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Well… I made it through a big week!

As for my main accomplishment… I survived my first week back to school!   The week actually went very well.  My coworkers were extremely nice Monday morning and I was glad to see them. My kids seemed happy to see me and we fell back into our classroom routine easily.  Contrary to what I had anticipated, I didn’t get crazy exhausted as I took on my old work schedule.  As a matter of fact, I actually felt like I had more energy than before my surgery.  Maybe it’s because I had time to rest while I was at home.  Maybe it’s because I had a break from the pressure surrounding the Common Core-Testing craze.  However, I’d like to think that some of my energy came from the weight that lifted off my shoulders the day I had my mastectomy.  I’ve mentioned before that I used to have horrible anxiety about developing breast cancer.  I feel a gazillion times lighter knowing breast cancer is not my destiny.  I have to believe that I felt so good last week because I was not wasting precious energy on senseless, powerless worry anymore.  Now my brain can fully focus on what needs to be done to help my sweet kiddos.

As I brag about how easy it was for me to make it through the week, I have to be honest…  We only had four days of school.  I woke up Friday morning to find out that there was no school. School was cancelled because of “snow”.  I was slightly shocked because when I looked out my window Friday morning,  this is what I saw:

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I didn’t quite understand why school had been cancelled.  However, as a teacher, I don’t question snow days.  I appreciate the break! So, I climbed back in bed and fell back into my post-surgery morning routine: coffee and Pinterest to the sound of the Today Show in the background.   Little did I know, my snow day was going to be very busy!

It all started when I was pinteresting and ran across some fabulous news about BRCA awareness.

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Decoding Annie Parker is a movie that tells the story of how Mary Claire King, a geneticist, and Annie Parker, a breast cancer patient, work together to discover and unravel the BRCA gene mutation and its effect on families.  I heard about this movie throughout the last year.  There were showings around the country over the summer and this fall, but I was never able to make it to one. Well, as I scoured Pinterest pins about the movie Friday morning, I read that Entertainment One purchased the rights to the movie last week.  As I understand it, the movie will be coming to theaters everywhere this summer!

I was super excited to read the announcement about Decoding Annie Parker.   I really want to see the movie and now I will have the chance.  The movie will also provide the general public a great opportunity to learn more about BRCA mutations.

Here’s the link to the preview if you’re interested:

I was so excited after I read about the movie on Friday morning that I texted my sweet friend Katie Pass, who is also BRCA2+, to tell her the news.  After we texted about the movie, she realized that I had the day off.  She asked me to join her and another BRCA+ woman for lunch at a local restaurant, The Feed Bag.  Of course, I jumped at the chance to meet another woman with experiences similar to mine.  So, I put Hoda and Kathy Lee on hold and got dressed so I could brave the “snow” and meet the girls for lunch.

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When I arrived at Lunch, Katie and her friends were already there.  Mindy, the sweet woman in the brown vest, and her son’s girlfriend, Vanessa, quickly welcomed me to the table.  I sat down and we all immediately started talking about our BRCA experiences. There is such a crazy bond between women who have the BRCA mutation in common. Something about bond makes you feel like it’s totally acceptable to spill your guts to someone who is basically a complete stranger. Ha!

I told Mindy and Vanessa all about losing my mom and how hard its been to go through my mastectomy without family around.  Katie shared about her amazing progress.  Mindy shared her  BRCA story.  She is BRCA1+ and has been through several surgeries related to her genetic diagnosis.  I don’t want to broadcast her business, but let me tell you…  Mindy is AMAZING.  She has lived through some pretty horrific experiences because of this stupid gene mutation.  She is a true fighter… and real BRCA hero.  I greatly appreciated her willingness to share her story.  I know a lot more about how to proceed and what to expect from my next surgeries.  I continue to be in awe of all the Louisville women who have come forward and offered support to me.

After we finished our lunch and bonding session, I got ready to go to Dr. Noel’s office for my 6th expansion.  I REALLY didn’t want to go.  “They” already feel so big and after each expansion I have become even more sore.  However, I knew I had to go.  The sweet appointment lady at Dr. Noel’s office called me Friday morning and explained that I needed to come in that afternoon.  Dr. Noel had told her that I should be expanded before my wisdom teeth are removed next week.  So, I left St. Matthews and made the familiar trek to 4001 Kresge Way.

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As expected, I was expanded 30 more ccs during my appointment.  Apparently, even though I am close to the size I want to be, my expanders need to be filled with additional saline so the final results following my exchange surgery look more natural.  It’s very hard to trust someone else with all this.  I know Dr. Noel is doing the right thing (obviously… he’s been practicing for a trillion years and I’ve talked to tons of  more-than-satisfied patients), but when I look at the expanders… oh man… they are just really working my nerves.  I’m ready for them to be gone.  I have one more expansion in January.  Then, I wait for my exchange surgery.  It can’t be soon enough.

When I was done with my appointment, I headed down the elevator and quickly discovered why school had been cancelled for the day.

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That would be ice covering the trees.  While I was in Dr. Noel’s office, Mother Nature had decided to show me why we’d had a snow day.  The ice was pretty worrisome… I mean… I’m a bad driver in the sunshine with dry pavement.  Trying to drive home in all the ice wasn’t exactly ideal for me.

By the time I made it home from the doctor’s office, it looked like this:

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And within just a few minutes… it looked like this:

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Now, I  lived in Illinois for many years… I know that doesn’t look like much snow compared to what others see regularly.  But, remember… there is ice under there! It was not good.  I almost had to call Super Husband to come get me on the drive home.  Good thing I didn’t.  It took him two hours two drive home from the south side of town because the roads were so hairy.

After I got home, I was pretty sore from the expansion.  I decided the best idea was to drown my soreness in some Tylenol, hot chocolate, and carmel corn.  Even though I took some medicine, I was still pretty sore.  The pain is definitely manageable though.  It certainly wasn’t enough to keep me from wanting cheeseburger pizza from BJ’s at Oxmoor Mall for supper!  We headed out a few hours later, into the snowy madness, to have dinner with my fellow pea-in-a-pod, Laura, and her husband.   We were pretty much the only people outside in all of Louisville. Ha!  The things you will do for a cheeseburger pizza…

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We made it to the mall and had a super tasty supper.  Then, we headed back into the cold and went home. I pretty much crashed as soon as I walked in the door.

I woke up this morning to cleared roads and quite a lot of soreness across my chest.  I’m hoping the soreness will dissipate before my next expansion.  I hadn’t really felt long-lasting soreness with these expanders until yesterday.  Let the countdown to my exchange surgery begin.

Enjoy the snow.

Jayne

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