Friday, April 11, 2014

Best News Ever!

Well I guess I should lead with the big news. My cancer is gone!!!!! I received a call from my oncologist and her nurse yesterday saying that my pathology report was back and that there was "No Evidence of Disease" anywhere in any of my removed tissue. :) This means I'm cancer free!!!!! Apparently all the chemo worked beautifully and my cancer was gone before the time of surgery. It was the best news ever and really lifted my spirits :) Now I can just focus on recovery knowing that I have nothing to be scared of, this isn't spreading and I'm not going anywhere!!!

Surgery was on Monday April 7th.  I went in to Baylor Uptown at about 11:30 AM ready to go. My family was there to greet me which was awesome. I checked in and sat down with them as I waited for my name to be called to go in. I decided I should go to the bathroom first and when I went I saw a sign on the door that said "females- check with office staff before going to the restroom- may need a urine sample." So I went to the front desk and asked them if I could go to the restroom. They said that I did in fact need a sample and to go back to the prep area and use the restroom there. So I did. Then they took me to the patient room and told me to undress and put on my gown. I asked if I could go back out to the waiting room to see my family first since all I told them was that I was going to the restroom and then disappeared.  They said no, and that they would come back to see me. I felt like I was hijacked!!! I didn't even have my purse! LOL. But they were right, not long after I went into the room Kelly came back to sit with me and then not long after that the rest of the crew came back. My mom, LA (stepdad), Uncle Bill, Aunt Lisa, Chad, Laurie, Dad and Barbara (stepmom), Pammie, and of course Kelly were all there with me as we waited in the prep room. We said a prayer and had some laughs and my anxiety level was good. I was glad they could all be there with me to wait to be taken into surgery. We had to wait for my surgeon to finish her prior surgery and then when she was getting close to being finished the anesthesiologist would come back and get me started on the drugs. The first thing that they did in the waiting room was to put my IV in through my hand. It kind of hurt! It's still sore but that's the least of my worries now. :)After a while the Anesthesiologist and nurse came back and told my family that this was it, I was going back to surgery. On the way to the surgery room the anesthesiologist asked me a couple questions, and that's all I remember. I must have passed out during his line of questioning. The surgery then began around 1:30 and lasted about 4 hours. Dr. Knox took two hours and Dr. Potter (the plastic surgeon) took two hours. Each of them came out to update my family on the progress throughout the day and I am very appreciative of that. I do sort of remember waking up in recovery and Kelly was standing right there by me. He said the first things I said were "can I have some chap-stick and can you itch my right arm" Ha!! I've always loved chap stick. I was in recovery for about an hour and then was moved into my room at the hospital. I had some flowers already waiting for me in the room which was awesome. I had a few visitors that evening but mostly it was just Kelly with me by my side all night long. I can't even begin to explain how awesome he has been through this. I already knew he was an amazing person but I've just been so pleasantly surprised at how he's handled all of this and at what a good caretaker he is. It sucks that his fiancĂ© had to lose all of her hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and now her boobs.  Not to mention my demeanor hasn't been quite the same as it was when we fell in love. It's such a scary thing to go through, but he hasn't wavered or distanced himself for a second and I love him so much more for that. I truly can't wait to marry him!!! I made a promise to him that "I'll be cuter than I ever have been for the rest of my life after this!" Of course he says he doesn't care, but I do. :) He is just so awesome and I'm so thankful for him. The night of the surgery he sat right by my side and fed me jello and ice chips, and gave me lots of chap stick. :) I woke him up throughout the night when I needed things and he was always right there by my side.

The next day, I ate a breakfast of eggs and bacon, and saw a nurse just about every hour. Both surgeons came to check on me, looked at the incisions and said that everything was looking good. I had one little incident on Wednesday where I got  nauseous and poor kelly couldn't find a trash can or anything for me. I had to have the nurse change all my clothes. :)

I was told that I could go home whenever I was ready. I decided to stay through lunch time and then we left the hospital around 1:00. I have nothing but great things to say about all of my nurses and my experience at Baylor Uptown. They were so kind and thoughtful and caring and did a great job. They also kept my family very much in the loop and I know they really appreciated that.

Since I've been home, things started out a little rough. I spent all of Tuesday and Wednesday in bed, and couldn't keep any food down. I started to run a fever on Wednesday night. I was taking hydrocodine every four hours for the pain. It kept the pain away, but I guess it was making me sick. We called Dr. Knox's nurse yesterday to let her know what all was going on. She got mad at us! She said I should be up and doing things and not laying around. I needed to be doing my arm exercises and breathing exercises more and walking around the house, even going for walks outside or going out to run errands. That seemed a little extreme, but I've since been much more mobile and I've been feeling better. My fever was gone this morning and of course getting that amazing news yesterday helped my spirits and gave me strength. Now the cancer is gone and I just need my hair to get growing!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited to be done with the two hardest/biggest steps, chemo and surgery. I get to go to get my drains taken out on Monday morning at Dr Potter's office, which will be amazing. They are gross and I feel like I'm pregnant with all this extra baggage on my tummy. Kelly's gone back to work and it's a very busy week for the Stars. I've had some fun visitors and my mom has been right by my side since I came home! She is a great nurse. :) Thanks to you all for your love and support, for sending flowers, and for the  donations to my web page to help my pay for all of this stuff. It has been such a stress relief to know I don't have to come up with the thousands of dollars that  it takes to beat cancer. But I'm so glad to say that I've done it, I BEAT CANCER.... the rest of my life starts now!!

XOXO Julie

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's a go... and it's coming soon!

My apologies for not updating until now.. but my surgery plans have been a little wishy washy. But the big news is that surgery is a go for tomorrow. My platelet counts went way up when I got my blood drawn Wednesday. So that's great! But my white blood cell counts went down... they always seem to flip flop. Luckily there is a shot to boost the white blood cells, so I went in and got that on Friday and Saturday. Today, I went to a different clinic at Baylor that is open on Sundays for a CBC (complete blood count) so they could monitor all my counts and make sure we're good to go. They said I would get a phone call if there were any issues... and I didn't get a phone call so that must mean everything looks OK!

Surgery is set for tomorrow at Baylor Uptown. For all you Dallas friends, that's right next to the Rustic.  I'd like to think I could go there for a victory cocktail and some country music after surgery but I should probably wait a while. :) I check in at 11:30, and surgery is supposed to last four hours. The anesthesiologist just called and one of the things he said is that after surgery I will go to recovery for an hour and half.  So I'm guessing I'll be finished and awake by about 6:00, but who knows! I am not supposed to eat or drink anything after midnight tonight- so that's going to be tough! I drink so much water and they said I'm not even supposed to do that! Hopefully I can sleep in late and will not have to worry about it so much.

I've had a good day today, my last day with (these)  boobs. :)  I probably haven't fully taken advantage of this day though as I've worn a big sweatshirt and now a big T shirt all day.... So sexy!! Ha. But it's been a good day because I've been surrounded by my whole family all day long. My dad and stepmom drove in from Austin and my brother Chad and his girlfriend Laurie are here from Austin as well. They've actually been here all week, because they were planning on coming for the originally scheduled surgery last Monday and ended up staying all week to hang out with me. :) Same with my mom so we've spent all week together, and my stepdad came up from Austin yesterday, too. Oh, and my cousin Matt was who's like my little brother was with us today as well. :) We all went to my favorite mexican restaurant, Chuys, and then came over to my place to watch the Stars. The Stars blew the game after being up 2-0, so that wasn't cool! But we had fun watching. Kelly should be on a flight back from Florida now and I'm really looking forward to seeing him!!!

Thank you all so much for the love and prayers..... I can feel the prayers and they're giving me so much strength and positivity. There's no way I could do this alone and I'm so blessed and happy to be surrounded by so many amazing people in my life. I'm pretty nervous, and now that I've talked to the anesthesiologist it seems even more real.... but I know I am in good hands with all of my doctors and I know that most importantly of all, I'll be in God's hands and I'll be safe and sound there. I'll have my mom guest blog tomorrow with an update for everybody, but just know I'm in good spirits and excited to get this show on the road and to be one step closer to getting back to my normal life.

Keep loving on your hair and have a great week everyone! I have three more hours to eat so I guess it's time for my leftover quesadillas. :)  XOXO

Julie


Monday, March 31, 2014

On second thought....

On second thought... I'm quite glad that I wasn't cut open today! :0 I had a very nice day and enjoyed being healthy and conscious! It was funny, I kept thinking all day long, "I could be knocked out on a surgery table right now but instead I'm watching Ranger baseball at work!" or "I could be getting my boobs cut off right now but instead I'm in spin class!" It was a funny day.  I'm going to take advantage of the next week and enjoy being healthy and try to work out every single day. As long as I'm feeling up to it of course. I'm very sad about not being able to exercise for a few weeks after the surgery as it is often my favorite part of the day and of course I'm trying to get in great shape for that big day on June 21st! Also, when I'm alone and at home with nothing going on is when I get down about all of this... one of the best things for my mental state has been to keep on going to work, going out with my friends, going to Stars games and practices, and of course working out. I'm not going to be able to do any of those things for a while so I feel like it will be harder not to get down in the dumps. But hopefully I can avoid that! I'll get my blood drawn again in two days and will find out if my platelets have gone up. If they have then we will go forward with the surgery on April 7th. Fingers crossed! As of now, if I have surgery on April 7th and start radiation four weeks after, then I won't be finished until June 13th. My wedding is June 21st. So it's cutting it close already, and if my surgery is pushed back again I could be in trouble! Hoping for the best. I will keep y'all updated. Keep loving on your hair please, I miss mine every second and have had some random cries about it lately to be honest.  Oh, and GO STARS... our team has 8 regular season games left and they're one point out of the playoffs.... Kelly's on the road all week as they play 4 games in 6 days! Cranberry and I will be watching and cheering. Have a great week, everyone! I'll update on Wednesday. XOXO

Friday, March 28, 2014

Change of plans.... again!

Just wanted to give everybody an update that my surgery was pushed back a week. It will no longer be this Monday, it will be on April 7th. I went for a blood draw on Tuesday and my platelets were so low they wanted to be safe and push the surgery back instead of waiting to see if they go up. If my platelets are too low, my blood is really thin and I'd bleed too much during surgery and also won't heal as quickly. Neither of those things sound good! So I know they are making the right decision. But I was pretty bummed as I was all ready to go, had my schedule cleared, family had plans to come in town, etc. I want to keep this "journey" moving forward!  I went back yesterday and checked again, and they had gone DOWN, so now my fingers are crossed that they'll start going up a lot very soon! My next  check is on Wednesday. I thought I was finished with #plateletprayers but apparently my body just has still not recovered from the chemo drugs. So #plateletprayers are back on!! In the meantime... I'm going to try and make the most of it and enjoy my extra week before surgery!! Thanks so much for all the love and support and I'll keep everyone updated. :)

XO

Julie

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The waiting game

So my last chemo was a go! I have been done with chemo for a week now and it feels great. I mean.. I don't feel much different but it feels great to be done with that first (long) step! I think it was a total of 5 and a half months.  Now I am just in waiting mode... letting my body recover from the chemo and waiting for my blood counts to get back up before surgery which will be coming up very soon on Monday, March 31st. Rangers opening day! It'll be a far cry from eating hot dogs and drinking beer at the ballpark this year!

I'm really nervous for surgery. I know I will be OK and I just keep telling myself that they do these surgeries all the time. It's only my second surgery ever and my first was to put the chemo port in back in October. I've basically cleared my schedule for the month of April as I've heard the recovery takes quite a while. Kelly's hoping to get that Tuesday's road game off so he can be there with me for the surgery. It will be his first game off in about five years! Then he'll hopefully go to meet the team on the road. Of course, that week is one of the Stars longest trips of the season.... typical! But my mom is coming up to take care of my for a couple weeks and that will be nice. If anybody has any good movies or TV show recommendations, send them my way!! :) On the bright side, I bet Cranberry will be happy to have me to snuggle with for a month :)

I'll have my expanders put in at the time of surgery. I've heard that they are rather uncomfortable, especially when they fill them with fluid each week. I'll have drains basically hanging off of me for at least a week after the surgery. Fun, huh? Having the drains in will limit me to staying home that whole time. I'm already grossed out by the drains and I haven't even met them yet. Ugh.

I will find out the results from the pathology lab at an appointment with my oncologist on April 10th. They'll tell me if all the cancer is gone or if they still found some hanging around after they did the mastectomy. I FEEL like it's all gone. But who knows! I really really really hope so! If not, my doctor said they would most likely give me a pill to take every day of radiation. (Which is..... every day.) She said they have pretty much given me all the chemo drugs that they can give me besides this pill. But let's hope we don't have to worry about that! Prayers for a good report on April 10th!

My hair is starting to grow back.... which is nice since I only just finished chemo! It is about half an inch long and looks like it's growing back darker. Not cool, hair! I was hoping it would grow back the color it first grew in when I was a baby, really blonde! But no such luck. I'm still going to wear my "system" for a long time, until I feel comfortable going without it. And then I will hopefully get extensions once the hair is long enough. I actually went and met with an extension lady yesterday to see how soon I could get them. She said she could technically do them before my wedding but that she honestly thought my "system" looked better and was a better option. She couldn't believe how good it looked! That's what most people say when they see it and find out that it's not my hair. So I guess it looks pretty good to outsiders, which is good, but I still think about how much I miss my hair every single second of every single day. I'm really sad to be getting married without my hair. But I am really happy to be getting married, and that's what matters! Funny how my thoughts always come back to the hair.... it's just the very worst part!

I have definitely had my fair share of "why me" moments lately and it's still been tough. A lot of time has passed but I'm still in disbelief that this is my life. It's just so surreal. But I know I'm lucky to be doing as well as I am so far and I know things like this happen to people all of the time, and it doesn't make sense to them either. For example, I saw a story about a lady who lost her leg at the Boston Marathon and was starting to dance again. Now THAT's a big time "why me" situation! It's just not fair! We all need to just be so thankful for each and every day that we are here on this earth, live life to the fullest and especially, please be so thankful if you are happy and healthy! I hope to be back in that category soon. I've got the happy part down at least. :) This surgery is just the next step for me to get back to the healthy part.  I'll give another update after the surgery... maybe I'll have a guest writer blog to let you all know how everything goes! Until next time....... keep loving on your hair!!!

XOXO
Julie


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

ONE.MORE.

TOMORROW IS MY LAST CHEMO!!! HOPEFULLY EVER!!!

I'm very excited to be almost done with the first stage of my treatment! It hasn't been horrible for me, but I'm ready to be one step closer to the end of this journey. Tomorrow I will get my blood drawn at 9AM and as long as my counts are good- which they should be- then I will get my last treatment. It is just going to be one drug, taxol and it should only take about an hour. It's also my mom's birthday so she'll be on hand and then we will have lots of celebrating to do tomorrow night!

I will say that I have been so happy with all of my treatment and the wonderful doctors and nurses that I have met at Baylor Hospital. I will miss them! I'll see my Oncologist one last time a week from tomorrow to check my blood counts one more time and see how everything is looking before surgery. Surgery is set for March 31st. I'm pretty nervous about it and not looking forward to being stuck in bed for 2-3 weeks after. Especially during the most exciting part of the hockey season and when the weather is turning pretty!! But gotta do what you gotta do I guess, and hopefully it won't be too terrible.

I've felt really good lately and been really busy with work. I've had some great opportunities come up to do some more pre and post game reporting for the Stars games in addition to producing and reporting for my show, Stars Insider.  Besides when I am at the hospital, I almost forget sometimes that I have the C word (I'm tired of saying it) and it has been great! I just want my normal life to go on and so far I've been able to do everything I'd normally be doing. (Just doing it all without my real hair which again has been the WORST part and really the only terrible part so far.)

So..... so far so good, and I'll give another update after my last chemo treatment!! Thank you for the continued love and prayers!! XO

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Chemo Countdown has begun

I officially have 5 more weeks of chemo left... that's 37 days..... or 888 hours.. but who's counting???

Last Monday my platelet counts were still not high enough to receive the scheduled taxol/carboplatin treatment. I met with my doctor after having my blood drawn and she said that since my body did not seem to be recovering well from the carboplatin we would try and change up my infusion schedule. Instead of telling me to just try again in a week, we came up with a new plan. I will now be receiving chemo treatments weekly until I am finished instead of every three weeks. Every Wednesday will be chemo day. Happy hump day to me! :) I will get taxol on a weekly basis, (as it is often given when it is the only drug) and they will try to "sneak" in carboplatin when they can. Hopefully that will mean carboplatin every other week if it is given to me in smaller doses. This way my body won't get hit so hard all at once with the drug but I will still be getting it and I'll hopefully still see the same results. (Remember... carboplatin is specifically good for triple negative breast cancer patients WITH the BRCA1 gene receiving chemo BEFORE surgery. So specifically.... ME!) The best case scenario is still for all of the cancer to be gone before my surgery. However, I won't know how well the chemo worked either way until after the surgery since they have to examine my tissue under the microscope. At this point, all we know is what the doctor can feel manually and it seems that things have been feeling better, but she says it's hard to tell for sure. My last report was "significantly more subtle" signs of the tumor. To me it feels like it's almost gone. But that's me :) She said that sometimes it can still feel like the tumor is there or has not shrunk all the way, but then when they examine the tissue during surgery they find that it is only scar tissue that had been felt and the cancer is gone. That's what I'm hoping for!

So-if all goes as planned, and it should since we have a new and improved plan,  March 12th will be my last chemo treatment. Also my mom's birthday. Happy Birthday, mom!!!!! :) I am SO ready to be done. Chemo has been OK for me but I'm more than ready to let my hair start growing back. I've recently lost my eyebrows and eyelashes and I'm not gonna lie, it has been pretty miserable. The past few weeks have definitely been the hardest. I've tried to keep a positive outlook but I definitely have had my fair share of random cries lately. Not looking like myself has been really hard- it's a constant reminder every day that I'm "sick" and fighting a huge battle, when all I want is to be living my normal life that I had before. I've told myself that for the rest of my life- if I have my health and hair and eyelashes and eyebrows.... I won't complain about a thing. And I mean that!!!

In happier news- it's the NHL's Olympic Break and I'm very excited for a couple weeks off with Kelly. He's been working like crazy ever since I was diagnosed right when the season started. We are in Austin now to see my family and do some wedding things.. then on Friday, (Valentine's Day!) Kelly, Isaac (Kel's son), and I will go to  DISNEY WORLD!! I'm so excited to spend some time with both my boys in the happiest place on earth. I could use some mickey mouse and a happy ten year old "future stepson" in my life right now. :) Isaac is a true joy and a blessing to me and I just love him so much!! He's definitely a huge "bonus" that I will get in marrying Kelly..... and thanks to him I get to do fun kid things now like going to Disneyworld!  :)

Prayers are appreciated for this 5 weeks to fly by, for the chemo to WORK and for my hair to start to GROW!! Happy Valentine's Day to all!

XOXOXO

Julie