and the genes still don’t fit…

At least tomorrow I will be wearing underwear!

Bleh.

Tomorrow is the day I go in for an extraction. An extraction! It is what they call the out-patient surgery of removing the margins of an a-typical mole.

A-typical. A-typical mild this time. Last time was severe and they had to take a large section out to make sure the margins were clean. I am hoping not so much this time. Especially since it is on my right arm and I am right-handed.  I know it will be fine. I have been down this road before. I have had more difficult surgeries before.

A scar is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

So why am I a bit anxious about it? I have no idea.

I have the mutated BRCA2 gene. It was something we found out after the diagnosis. It means I am most likely to get breast cancer..duh. Also very likely to end up with ovarian cancer so out they went (welcome hot flashes) and susceptible to skin cancer.

That is how I ended up at the Dermatologist for a full body scan and mapping. Not a big deal. You stand there in your underwear and they take a bright light and look at every inch of your skin carefully calling out markings and quadrants. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t forgotten my underwear.

Tomorrow I will have my underwear on and a bra just to be safe.  Even my jeans if they fit.

 

What!?!?!

I am using every excuse in the book today to not workout. Headache, lack of oxygen, bloody boogers and awful, awful hot flashes. Cats on Instagram and making a butt load of coffee. No not a coffee enema! 
Oh the hot flashes!! Why are they back? I don’t get it. I am taking the meds faithfully. I know this because I have alarms set to remind me to take them no matter where I am. I have a timer on my computer at work that goes off and my cell phone has a daily alarm set too! I have to put everything on my calendar including this. Yet, I am back to having night sweats that last for at least fifteen minutes each time, and in the course of writing this very long running paragraph I have had two major hot flashes that my hair is dripping. YUCK!!!
I blame the headaches, boogers and lack of oxygen on the surrounding air quality. Our city is filled with smoke from the surrounding fires and it is playing havoc on everyone.
Yet the hot flashes….. I know it is a side effect from being shoved into menopause but I had them pretty well under control. At least manageable.  Why now? What in the last two weeks has changed that they are like this now?
Okay, I wasted enough time complaining that now I only have time for a shower and to get ready for work!!! HA HA HA HA HA my evil plan worked, no time for a workout now!!!!
and the excuses keep coming.. so easily distracted…..
I will get back on track. I will beat this hot flash monster. I will beat the lack of motivation. I will be a good example again. Right after another cup of coffee and a few more happy cat videos on Instagram. #goals

After all this time…

You would think that after all I have been through with diagnosis, cancer treatments and surgery I would not be at a loss of words when someone tells me about a cancer.

Well, I still have no words. What do you tell someone who’s aunt just finished her fight with breast cancer and was doing so well only to find out now she has a completely different cancer in her lungs.

You don’t.

You sit there dumbfounded and selfishly thankful that it hasn’t happened to you yet. You spit out words of how they have really made great strides with immunotherapy for lung cancer and not to give up hope. That she fought before she can fight again. Words I say knowing that I would probably not fight the next time.  Words that really bring no comfort to anyone. Words that make me feel like I am making it worse.

I just stopped talking. It is safer that way. I know this from my own experiences of people trying to comfort me with their words. I stop and hug. I cry with her. That has to be better than the words, it has to because that is all I truly can give.

After all this time..

I participated in a fundraiser event today for a woman hit by cancer. Her friend wanted to help with some of the out-of-pocket expenses. I was honored to be asked to come instruct a few songs. It has been soooo long. I am rusty. I practiced and practiced and practiced.

I should have practiced better words to share with her. Better words of encouragement. A better game face of how lucky I was in all of my treatments. How lucky I am to be on this end of it.

 

After all this time I still have so much to learn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a fitness instructor

Driving home the plan in my head:

Make dinner maybe a salad or scrambled eggs with veggies.

Make the pie for the bake sale tomorrow.

Practice songs for the Zumba fundraiser.

Water the yard.

REALITY:

Open a bottle of sparkling hard water, blood orange flavor

Proceed to eat handful after handful of those veggie fry stick things.

Take cool whip out of freezer to defrost.

Eat a whole entire row of Oreo’s while dancing to your playlist.

Lick all the cool whip off your hands and spoon when done.

Now I lay here in bed drinking all the water to try and flush my dinner out of my system.

At least I got the yard watered.

 

Then there is this morning…….

There are mornings where I get up because I know that I can have a good cup of coffee if I do.

There are mornings when I get up because I have to. I have to water the yard. I have to do my workout. I have to do my homework. I have to go to work.

There are mornings, more of them lately where getting out of bed is difficult. Not because I am tired but because I physically struggle with it.

There are mornings where I overslept and have to rush around getting lunches made and shoes on, and out the door in record time.

There are mornings where I wake up from a dream that seemed so real that for a moment I am unaware of my surroundings.

Then there is this morning. This wonderful delicious morning that I am reminded that I have been fortunate enough to wake up one more time and be alive.

One more time for a good cup of coffee.

One more time to get the chance to take care of this yard we have earned One more chance to make myself stronger from a workout. One more chance to do homework that will make me a better, more confident and free person. One more chance to work hard at my job and be a good example to others.

One more time that even when it is hard to get out of bed I CAN GET OUT OF BED.

One more time that I can get ready in a pinch if I have to. I like being low maintenance.

One more time to understand my reality is beautiful. I have the husband who adores me, a son who hugs me and shares with me, a home that we own that makes me smile and never feels like work.

One more time to be thankful.. I am a fighter, survivor, mother, wife, sister, friend, neighbor, co-worker, dreamer.

This morning reminds me I have one more day of life that last year was questionable.

This morning reminds me that all things are possible but to focus on the points that really matter.

This morning is beautiful.

 

 

I had good intentions……

Last night I prepared my stuff. Roast is in the crock pot with a special ingredients for the bacon taste testing going on this afternoon. Coffee maker filled with water ready to go at a touch of a button. Workout clothes and shoes laid out on the bathroom floor for easy access.

My intention was this I was going to get up and have my own Sunrise aka SON rise service this morning while on a one mile wog. One mile of worship music. One mile of slight dark yet prospect of the morning sun coming. One mile of training for a seven mile race that will be here in three weeks. One mile to make myself feel like I had accomplished something. One mile.

The result: sitting here typing about going for a simple wog and how I have already talked myself out of it.

#1 it is still too cold. I went out yesterday afternoon because the sun was out and I was too cold

#2 things are blooming. I came home yesterday with a runny nose and itchy eyes. This morning I could barely get them open because they were sealed shut with all that allergy gooey buildup! Eww and ow!

#3 my knee is really not well. Seriously stairs are hard without using a support and going slow. Yesterday in my walk I noticed that any type of incline is hard on it.

#4 we are going to church today so having my own commune time isn’t really necessary.

#5 the coffee pot is full so I should really drink that and warm up first before attempting any outdoor activity

#6 the roast needed attending too. I had to take time to shred it and check the seasoning.

#7 I can’t find any of my knit hats to cover my ears.

I have really good intentions. I really do! I have terrible, terrible follow  through and as you can see will come up with any excuse to justify why I haven’t gotten out. Revenge will have to wait until I can figure out how to trick my mind into it too!

PS The picture I used was from our little tulip trip. It is a picture I took through the front window of the car because it was ‘too cold’ to go out and get a closer look. I think there is a sea otter in there somewhere..or maybe an eagle? This is my failure at lazy photo taking!  Ha ha

Happy Easter to you all! And to my friends on here who get out and run Kudos to you! Now send some of the stick- to- it- ness to me!!

 

 

 

 

 

What is love?………

My sister.

I don’t know where to begin so I will pick a random spot and go from there.

This is a picture of my sister. She is three years younger than me. She loves to remind me that she is younger. I am much shorter than her so many people believe me when I tell them that I am the younger one. That pisses her off to no end. Truth is it takes forever to even convince them she really is my sister.

I often describe us as the movie Twins with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito. She is the Schwarzeneggar character that ended up with ALL the good parts, and I am like the Devito character that ended up with all the left over awful stuff. That pisses her off to no end too. I think I like pissing her off. After all we are sisters, so it is a right of passage.

As we grew up we drove each other nuts in school and at home.  As we really grew up and became adults and wives and mothers we became closer and closer. We actually became friends.

I remember when I was moving and she came over to the house.  I had a whole box of empty hangers, Pampered Chef pans and other odds and ends I wanted her to have. Mostly I didn’t want to pack them. When she saw the box of hangers she started to cry. My moving away was becoming a reality. One she wasn’t ready for. It was also the first time I had doubts about leaving AZ. I missed her so much and we were in the same room.

She came to visit me once in WA a few months after we moved here. Mom came too. It was a lovely surprise that my husband kept from me. It was a very short trip. Over time it seemed like it would be the only trip.

After my diagnosis in Nov. 2015 I called her to tell her the news. She was in denial and told me she would believe it after I get my test results back. I told her three times that the tests have all come back. I had cancer. It took some talking but she finally realized all the tests have been done. I was telling the truth.

I recall one morning I was getting ready for work. I had this overwhelming depression settle on me like a blanket. I was never going to see my sister again. I was trying to open the closet door and it was stuck. I had to pull and pull and pull. I didn’t have the strength because this blanket of sudden depression was too heavy. I started to cry. It was the first time I had cried. I accidentally woke Keith up. He said it’s okay to cry it is really scary. I told him I wasn’t crying about the cancer. I was crying because I knew in my gut I would never see my sister again. Oh how thankful I am that my dreams were wrong!

As the whirlwind of scheduling took place for what was next, I kept her up to date. Mastectomy was on January 15th.

It turns out that it was a three-day weekend for her. She is a school teacher and Monday was Martin Luther King day, no school. She called to let Keith and I know she was flying out for the surgery. I was so excited!! Even if we only got to see each other for a short time I get to see my sister.

This picture is taken the day before my surgery. We are sitting in the waiting room of the plastic surgeon doing my reconstruction after the mastectomy. After this I had my friend Julie (you will learn more about her later) come and meet her. I sometimes see my sister in Julie. Then we went and had a lovely last meal downtown at a local restaurant that has history on display. You can even go into the middle of one of the old smoke stacks. I was thrilled to share this place with her. This moment with her.

The next day we had to be at the hospital early. When she was allowed she came into the hospital room and visited with me. While I was under the knife, 8 and 1/2 long hours she sat with Keith. They went out to breakfast together. They watched television in the waiting room together.  They lunched and “dinnered” together too. He needed someone there. My sister was there. Right where she needed to be.

When I was released from the hospital and home again she visited with me but felt like she wasn’t helpful. She was, she really was.

I have a little white board in my bedroom. She wrote the words ‘Today is’ on it for me. Every time I changed the date I smile.  I love seeing ‘Today is’ in her handwriting.

Blessed to have her as my sister. Blessed to have her as my friend. Blessed that she was right where she needed to be.

What is love? A sister…..that is love.

 

It’s my New Year’s Day…….

This is going to be a long one today….fair warning. But first I need another cup of coffee…

TODAY!! Happy New year to me today. I know it is January 15th. Let me explain….

Keep in mind today is my husband Keith’s birthday.

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY:  At this time one year ago today I was checked into the hospital for  my double mastectomy/reconstruction surgery. They also had to pull out a cluster of my lymph nodes since the cancer had spread there too. Eight and half hours later I was in the recovery room. Completely oblivious to my surroundings and forever physically and mentally scarred.

November 3rd 2015. That is when I got the phone call at work. My primary care doctor calling to tell me about the biopsy results. It was defiantly cancer. At first it was a stage 0, pretty much around the nipple area, a lumpectomy would easily take care of it. Many tests later and an MRI revealed that it was actually stage 2B and that I had the BRCA2 gene. I have now upgraded to a double mastectomy with reconstruction. The surgeon that I wanted and I spoke to for my initial consultation was now sick and could no longer follow through on my care. I was switched to a new surgeon I have never met, during Christmas holiday. This was challenging and scary. When I met her she told me that I had to have a sentinel lymph node surgery done at least a week before the mastectomy. Basically I was in the hospital for this surgery by the end of the week!! Yikes!  Caught us completely off guard.

The plastic surgeon I met way back in November but at that time I was only going to get a lumpectomy so I really didn’t pay much attention to what she told me about reconstruction. Suddenly I am having surgeries one week apart. I am having a double mastectomy and reconstruction and I find out the day before that I have to take shots for a week in my belly! Nope. I did not sign up for that. Neither did my husband. He had to give them to me because there was no way I was going to do it for myself. NEEDLES…a big fat NOPE.

Those first couple of weeks were a drugged blur. I remember Keith sleeping on a cot at the end of our bed, listening to my every move, making sure that I would not be in any pain and ready to help me up if I had to go to the bathroom. I remember how proud of me he was when I got home from the hospital and walked up the stairs normally. One foot , one step at a time. I remember him changing out my whiteboard with the dates so that when I was awake I would know what day it was and how much time had passed. I remember him making my coffee for me and bringing me oatmeal. He hated stripping my drains almost as much if not more than giving me the shots. He drove me to every appointment and even to have my hair washed at the beauty school. I don’t know how he did it but he did everything, all the time, just for me.

Six weeks passed and I had been released to go back to work. At this time people thought I was out on vacation and sick leave. I had only shared with a few family and friends. My inner circle, my support team and of course this blog. My breasts by now were the same size as they were before the surgery so outside of being tired no one knew what I had been through.

Then I found out that I should do chemotherapy to kill what ever rogue cells that may have escaped. Also to lower my chances of recurrence. Now I had to go public because the side effects of chemotherapy are hard to hide and I planned on working as much as possible through all of it. Chemotherapy started on my son’s birthday in March. Ironic. Hmm.

Had a consultation with the genetic counselor suggesting I have my ovaries removed. Had those removed in July, the same day that Keith was to fly out to AZ for his class reunion. He changed his plans. I don’t think I could have managed without him.

My final surgery, the exchange surgery ended up being in October. I missed out on my friends Halloween party. First time in four years. Keith missed work for a week and they were busy. He had to play catch up all year because of me.

As things are getting ‘back to normal’ ha! as if it will ever be normal again….I have learned this:

  • My husband loves me more than I ever thought he did, or could.
  • I love him more now than I ever had
  • our relationship is better, even better than when we first started
  • I had no idea it could get better or stronger or healthier
  • I have amazing friends and family in my life
  • I had no idea menopause was so terrible
  • I am not the same person I was before and I never will be again
  • I need people. I need Keith. I need my son Richard. I need my family. I need to focus on the future, on strength, on kindness to others, on love.

Keith and I decided that we want to be healthier together. Eat out less, exercise more, make better food and beverage choices. You know..blah blah blah. We also decided that we would start on New Year’s Day. Not January 1st but OUR New Year’s day. January 15th. That is our new year. Yes his birthday, but our first new year.

Okay, the watching what we eat will actually commence tomorrow because today we celebrate with a party!! My friend is hosting a ‘Renee Kicked cancer’s ass and we are celebrating one year cancer free’ party!! I know a mouthful. Just take a deep breath before you say it… Then breathe in again afterwards.

I don’t think this blog post came out in any way shape or form as I intended. It is what it is. Long. Heartfelt. Truth. Snippets. Healing.

PS: I have signed up for two runs this year so far and I am totally back in revenge mode!! So keep checking in on me… Take that cancer!!

ONE YEAR AGO!!!!!! 

 

 

 

When you leave the frozen gelato in the organic peanut butter aisle….

My son is coming over for breakfast tomorrow. I am planning on making a German pancake with bacon, apple sausage and cider Mimosas. I walked next door to the natural food market to get the bacon and sausage. The meat is organic and nitrate free and from local farms. I walked by the freezer and saw that they had the gelato my husband loves on sale, so I grabbed a pint. I also needed more raw almond butter for my protein shakes. I put every thing down so I can fill my cup up with the freshly ground almonds. Hop over to the register and head on home. A few hours later I am frantically looking for the gelato! I can’t remember if I put it in the fridge or the cabinet instead of the freezer. Turns out I left it on the shelf by the almond butter machine. Hope they found it before it melted all over the floor.

The hubby and I have decided that we need to get our eating back under control. I can’t lose weight, he wants to. So the plan is to eat cereal for dinner. Doing the dishes tonight I realized that we either have too many spoons and bowls or not enough.

Went to the gym twice this week! Got on the treadmill, or as Paula from Never A Dull Bling calls it the ‘dreadmill’ I actually enjoy the treadmill. I got on and started with a walking pace. Several times I bumped it up and jogged! That was huge for me. Tonight I went back to the gym with the same intention. Turned out much better than I thought. I actually ran for half the time on it. Feeling pretty good from that and since I was the ONLY one at the gym I also used the ‘machines’ for some arm and leg strength workout. I am sure I will be super sore on Monday but for a Saturday I am feeling pretty proud of myself.

My heart is hurting for some friends. My friend Paula lost her mother this week. My friend Janice is going to lose her mother shortly. I find that I struggle with dealing with other people’s struggles now. Not that I don’t care and worry and pray for them. I just find that I have a harder time remembering to. I don’t think that is quite right either. I have a hard time getting my brain to wake up and be a thoughtful person.

I messaged a fitness friend of mine that I met via Facebook. I guess friend is a strong word. I found her on YouTube doing Zumba dances that I would learn and use in my classes. then I started stalking her on Facebook, joined her workout group online. She always chats with me like she wants to be my friend. She is a Beach Body Coach so she is trying to get me to sell stuff for her but I think we have connected on a higher level than that. I messaged her about goal setting and new ideas and such. My message to her was just as convoluted as this paragraph trying to explain it.

My hair is another weird phase again. It is finally longer over my ears so I have less wing action going on but have more wild hairs. I am still unsure what I am going to do with it but I have heard that I have two more phases before it is really my hair. So I wait and close my eyes and wear hats often.

Home from my workout, dishes are done and now enjoying a classic movie ‘Woman  of the Year’ If only I could find that drive and passion with a little more compassion and sensitivity than Tess.

 

 

 

Confessions of an out of shape fitness instructor.

 

I have a belly. I have a big belly. I have large and in charge thighs too.Even when I was down to 128 pounds I still had thighs. The thighs rule my closet. The thighs determine what pants/skirt/dress I can wear. The belly determines what shirt/pants I wear.

Funny thing is I am a licensed fitness instructor. Does this mean I am fit? NO. Should it? Probably. Does this mean I have figured out how to eat right? NO. Does it mean I have the tools and knowledge to eat correctly? YES. Do the thighs and belly stop me from moving forward? NO. Does that mean when I get on the scale I don’t cry when I see the number? NO. Does it mean that I know better than to get on the scale? YES.

Tonight I did my Cancercize with Renee B video and wore a crop top. A CROP TOP!! What the hell am I thinking? My belly kept popping out all over the place. I referred to it as my Big Bertha Belly.

Truth is my belly was starting to conform, behave actually. All because I was watching what I eat. What?!?! a fitness instructor admitting that eating right works better and faster than exercise. Sigh, yes it is true BUT you have to keep moving so your body keeps up with the weight loss and you don’t look like a baggy sack of stretchy skin. Besides, working out and moving helps your energy levels and mental stability. Food can’t always do that for you. Bleh it is all about balance. But I digress, we are talking about the belly and thighs….

I often wonder if I am actually doing more harm than good when I do these online workouts with my body shape. My energy levels and strength are lower than I am willing to admit. It is harder to workout and my ten minute Cancercize videos are all I get in on most days. Do I have the right to call myself a fitness instructor with how I look today?

I do you know. I studied and passed the national exams. I went to the training classes and put my time in. I AM a fitness instructor. I AM not perfect. I AM not in the best of shape. I AM trying. I AM a work in progress. I AM what most people are. I do have the right to teach classes and be online and have a Work it Out fitness group. I am real. I am honest. I have bulges. I have low energy. I struggle with a hard workout. I modify all the time. I have food struggles and issues. I have thighs.

Anyway here are some old pictures of me. Hope my friends don’t mind that I shared these. But you can see my thighs and belly in all of them.

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