The Gang's All Here!

The Gang's All Here!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Prego vs Chemo

I was trying to explain to someone the other day how I'm really feeling. I've said it before, but the closest I've come to feeling this way was when I was pregnant. Is that weird? Probably, but it's all I've come up with. The two experiences aren't all that different (just hear me out!) when you really sit down and think about it. Battling cancer (at least for me and my treatment plan) will take the better part of a year. Pregnancy is about 10 months, give or take. In each case, your body is completely at the mercy of someone else. Obviously being pregnant means you get the added bonus of a baby after suffering nine + months of insanity. Of course, beating cancer and being alive is a pretty good perk too :)

In both situations, controlling the symptoms is key. Many of my friends who have been pregnant will tell you that they felt great, no complaints. I would even slide myself into this category, until I hit 28 weeks. Even if you feel wonderful during your pregnancy, at some point it starts to kick your ass. Being pregnant with Stella I had some serious complications that I had no control over. I feel like that compensated me when I had a super easy delivery with her - 3 hours start to finish (you can hate me, it's ok). I more than paid for that with Simon and 28+ hours in delivery. It's interesting because I didn't have any morning sickness with Simon, in fact, I was ravenous. Perhaps that's why I gained 400 pounds, I'm not sure. With Stella, I wasn't sick, but the nausea would creep up when I least expected it. I became a big fan of lemon drops with her! Also when pregnant with Stella I defintely had the strange pregnancy cravings. A few of my favorites included anything pumpkin (weird, right?), cantelope (which by the way I had NEVER eaten before being pregnant with her!) and Fritos. Diet of champions! With Simon I didn't have any particular cravings, I just wanted to eat everything in site. Good times, really :) Chemo has been somewhat similar for me. My appetite is good (too good, in my opinion) and I definitely have things that I crave. What are they? Talk about random, this week I can't get enough peanut butter or sauteed spinach (not together, even I have my limits). I told Steve last night that I could eat suateed spinach all day long and he just sort of looked at me. I don't blame him, I think that's a weird thing to crave too... According to the research out there, many people lose thier taste for food on chemo. Not me! So far, so good. The only other thing I REALLY might cause a ruckus over is a Frozen Coke (Slurpee for those of you up north!). I'm trying to talk myself out of it as we speak. Gosh talk about satisfying!

The hardest part of my pregnancies (other than being huge and uncomfortable) was the exhaustion. It's hard to really describe until you've been there, but it sucks. Like, I'm not sure I can go up the stairs because I may not make it I'm so tired. That's about how I feel now on chemo. I'm hoping that it's a good sign, the cancer cells are dying off and my body's working overtime to compensate. Some days are better than others, but I'm willing to admit that after round 4, chemo is taking a toll. The good news is that I only have two rounds left and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope I'm awake when I get there :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When Irish Chicks Are Fighting

Good morning! I'm happy to be back to feeling like myself after the 4th round of chemo. I'm not sick, just completely exhausted and a little fuzzy in the brain. Oh chemo brain, what a joke!  Monday after chemo seems to be my worst day and then it's back to feeling like my (mostly crazy) self. It's a really strange feeling/ sensation to describe, but I guess you could compare it to being hungover mixed with not sleeping for three days and throw in a little frustration just for good measure. That would about sum it up I think. Round 4 at the chemo lounge was somewhat uneventful. Kate was there and we set up camp, chatted and basically just hung out. There was a new patient in the chemo lounge who had a reaction to her chemo drugs. It was a little unnerving, but the staff was very quick to respond and handled the situation excellently, in my opinion. The patient was great, even able to laugh once she was feeling better!

I met with my oncologist on Friday and she continues to be floored and thrilled with my progress. Apparently the chemo seems to be doing it's job as she said everything has cleared up (skin wise). We've scheduled my follow-up appointment with the breast surgeon for May 2, a red letter day on my calendar. I am looking forward to seeing what Kyle is up to and to also map out my plan for surgery later this summer.

You may have noticed the picture of me I posted with my sister-in-laws Missy and Beth. They are particpating in the Atlanta 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer - how awesome is that!?!?! We have an official team and t-shirts, it's awesome! I can't tell you how proud or humbled I am to have such an amazing, fantastic family, both the Hinman and Riley sides. They are all truly inspiring and I'm so gosh darn happy to be able to brag about them! If you have a chance, check out our team site:

One last shout out and that goes to Steve. I am seriously the luckiest girl in the world to be married to such an incredible man. He ran daddy day care on Friday (all survived with flying colors!) while I was at treatment and helped things run smoothly over the weekend. I can admit that he folds sheets much neater than I do! After a long day of work yesterday he came home and made the most delicious home made chicken parmesean dinner. I know, I know, rock star!! Gosh, I love him :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ding Ding, Round 4!

Tomorrow is my 4th round of chemo. It's hard to believe we're more than halfway through at this point. I just wanted to say how very much we appreciate all of the love and support we've received throughout this process. I haven't been able to put down in words how much it means, because it's so big, all consuming, really. Going to the mailbox each afternoon and finding little surprises and cards. I love hearing from all of you. It's like each of you are here with me, even if just for a few minutes. You're all with me in spirit in the chemo lounge. I have a cancer box (I'm not really sure what else to call it) that I put all of the cards and letters in that I've gotten. On days when I need a little pick me up, I read through the mountain of cards and letters and they make me smile. The coolest part of it all for me is that it takes me back to all different time periods of my life and I love that. It makes me realize just how grateful I am to have met and spent time with so many fantastic, wonderful and inspiring people. I am one lucky girl!

I'll admit I'm a little nervous for tomorrow because it's time to get the ball rolling again. I've enjoyed this "quiet" period where all I've had to do is beat up on Kyle with chemo. Tomorrow I meet with my oncologist not only to see how I'm doing, but to schedule some follow-ups to see what Kyle is really up to. I know with all my heart that there's absolutely no use in worrying about the things I cannot change, but it's tough to actually follow through. So, onward and upward (or something like that) tomorrow. Let's knock Kyle out!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Minivan Mania

It's a rainy day here in Atlanta. I'm actually enjoying it as we've rarely had any rainy days since 2012 started. I've managed to get some things done and even caught up on Grey's. One of things I've been working on is researching cars. Well, that's sort of true. I don't really need to research because I know what I want. I actually love my current car, a Toyota 4-Runner and I've had it for 7 years. It's been a fantastic car and held up extremely well in my accident 4 years ago (that's a story for another day). So, why change now? It's not a desperate situation by any means, but I would like a little more room.

As you can imagine, Steve has his opinion on what the next "family" vehicle should be. Obviously, so do I. I will admit (there is a really good chance that "very stubborn" is the operative word here) that I am somewhat opinionated when it comes to what I drive. I am an SUV girl and have been for a very long time. I'm not looking for that to change. Just like I was never a girly girl growing up and hated to wear dresses (much to my mother's chagrin). However, for the record, I have completely changed my tune on dresses because when it's 100 degrees and 2,000% humidty in Georgia, a sundress is the ONLY way to go. Anyway, Steve said the word (and continues to say it, mostly because he thinks it's hilarious) that makes my skin crawl and stomach churn. He said the word: minivan. People, I would rather die then drive one of those things, Swaggerwagon or not. Nothing and no one is ever going to convince me that minivans are "cool". To my friends who drive them, please don't be offended. I respect your choice and would never argue that minivans aren't practical, because they are. They were designed with the modern mom and family in mind. I'm not hating on anyone who drives a minivan, they're just not for me. To humor Steve, I went along with him to a dealership to look at a minivan. I'm pretty sure that I hurt the salesman's feelings when I told him indeed I did not want to test drive it. But look at all it does, all of the amazing functions! All very true, but not in my wheelhouse. We have two kids, not 5!

So, as you can imagine, the car "discussion" (read: battle royal) has been interesting. I'm not sure Steve and I will ever see eye to eye on this topic. He wants to know what it is about minivans that makes me so crazy. I'd like to say that it's because I feel like I'm cut off all the time by minivans but I'm not certain that's a true statement. There are bad drivers everywhere in all types of vehicles and we have more than enough to go around here in Atlanta. Why woudn't I want to make my life easier, more convenient? A minivan could do that for me. But as I mentioned above, I'm stubborn (I'm Irish, it's a born-in trait) and I'm hell-bent on proving that I can exist without changing my lifestyle. So, yes, I would like to upgrade to a larger SUV. That alone should label me as insane with gas prices at $9.00 a gallon. But, if given the choice between a minivan or keeping my SUV? I guess I'll drive my SUV until the wheels fall off :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Land of Unfinished Projects

We had a great weekend! The weather has been absolutely beautiful and we managed to spend most of our time outside. Lots of tasks completed and many more begun. I often joke (sort of) with Steve that we live in the land of unfinished projects. It seems for every project completed, 5 more appear. Steve and I also have different definitions of "what needs improvement". As you can imagine, it makes for some "lively" discussions 'round the old dinner table. I'm not sure if it's is (we are by no means perfect in any form of the word) or just basic differences (read: brainwaves) between men and women. For example, in my mind (which is, of course, perfectly rational and organized, HA!) we REALLY need to replace all of the vanity tops and fixtures in our bathrooms. Our house was built in '85, the middle of the '80's brassapolooza extravaganza. If I never see another brass fixture, it will be too soon... Not to mention that in our master bath, the fixtures are so worn out, I'm waiting for them to just fall off (that would make for an interesting morning). Yes, we knew this stuff would need to be replaced when we bought the house 5 years ago, but then, so did the roof, and both HVAC systems, I could go on for hours. The truth is, we've done a ton of work to this house (and we're certainly happy with what we've done) but I swear, it's a constant battle.

Anyway, back to the bathrooms. For every project that I have, Steve does too. In his mind, (the male, I need a new power tool to complete this project, let's make another trip to Home Depot mind) while the bathrooms are important, re-weather stripping the windows or installing shelves in the garage is possibly more important. I completely understand what he means, but REALLY? Our bathroom is borderline "caution tape" material. Is our bathroom functional? Well, yes, but come on ladies, you know what I'm getting at here. It's UGLY and OLD! I crave NEW and BRIGHT! This is where looking at Pottery Barn's catalog gets me in trouble. I want their bathroom(s), right down to the linens, which is why I think Steve has started hiding the catalog... Obviously we're not on a Pottery Barn kind of budget right now, but a girl can dream, right? I went outside to shake the money tree but the damn thing just laughed at me!

I should also mention that my wonderful husband is the original DIY, weekend warrior when it comes to home improvement. I sometimes (often) give him a hard time about "living in the land of unfinished projects" but the truth is, he loves it! While shopping and reading are fun and relaxing for me, Steve loves starting a project and making his weekly trip to the Depot. While there are times that after tripping over buckets of lord knows what and slipping in drywall dust I want to strangle him with a power cord, I have to admit that Steve is quite good at the projects he takes on. He really seems to enjoy researching (which makes my eyes water just thinking about it) and working out the problems that inevidently come up on a project. I would rather stab a pencil through my own eye than do that. Maybe that's why we work so well together. I'm the planner, he's the follow-thru, get it done type. I know it certainly makes for some interesting days and evenings since our projects are rarely finished before 11pm on Sunday in this house. And really HGTV, you need to stop making home improvement projects seem like they should only take 30 minutes...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tales From the Laundry Room

Why oh WHY is it that everytime I sit down to update this blog, one of my children, furry or otherwise has to scream, cry, bark, etc??? It is seriously the most frustrating thing ever. It's a wonder anything I write even makes sense because it literally takes me forever to write one post due to running up and down the stairs. Naptime in my house is a joke...

Anyway, it's been an interesting week. We had a lovely visit from an unwelcome stomach bug Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Talk about family bonding, ugh. The good news is that it was really quick and we're all feeling much better. I panicked at first, thinking it was the chemo getting to me. However, thirty minutes after I got sick, Stella did, so mystery solved there. Not that I ever want my children to be sick, but in this case, I was somewhat relieved to know it was a bug and not some whacked out, delayed reaction to chemo.

Between being on vacation and illness, we have approximately 500 loads of laundry to fold and put away. Laundry is my nemesis. How does one ever keep up? Just when I think we've gotten a hold on things, BAM, 4 more loads appear! On the rare day that it is all put away and I can see bare floor and chairs, I think, gosh, I love how organized I feel! I vow to myself that I will never let things get "THIS" bad again. And, sure enough, one week later, my vow is in the toilet and I can't get to the washer due to the laundry piled up. **sigh**

Speaking of vacations, I've had a nice little vacation from the chemo lounge. I normally get Herceptin every week, but since we were out of town last week, I was given a 3 week dose of Herceptin with my chemo. I wish I could do this all the time!! So, tomorrow I am free! What to do with this extra day of freedom? Oh right, laundry...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Beachin'

We had a great trip to the beach and a fun Easter with the kids! Steve's parents recently moved from Pennsylvania to Georgetown, South Carolina. The new house is less than a mile from the beach, so heading to their house is always lots of fun! Our family is growing by leaps and bounds, with the addition of two new babies in the past six months. Altogether we are now 13, enough for our own football team, plus reserves.
Going to the beach becomes a completely different experience with kids. It's so much work! Gone are the days of lounging in the sun with a beer and absolutely nothing to do. Now, it takes an hour of prep work to even get out the door. There's bathing suits to find, towels that have mysteriously vanished, gallons of sunscreen to apply and oh yeah, getting two toddlers and two infants to cooperate. Aughhhhh! Once we arrive at the beach, it's literally a game of one on one with each kid. We found ourselves regularly counting to 4 every few minutes. The good news is that Stella and Jules had an absolute blast at the beach and Ellie and Simon seemed to enjoy the new experience.
We had one cold, rainy day at the beach so we took Stella and Jules to see The Lorax. After a wild goose chase to get to the movies, the girls loved it along with the popcorn. In fact, the popcorn may have been the highlight for them! I'm so glad that my kids are so close in age to their cousins, it makes for so many fun memories. One of our other favorite activities to do when visiting the beach is gator hunting (not literally... we just take the golf cart for a drive and look for alligators). The South Carolina coast is full of gators, from small to HUGE! The girls love to point them out along the way. We also saw lots of turtles and heron on this trip.
The weekend wouldn't have been complete without an Easter egg hunt. I love this particular Easter egg hunt (it's held at the clubhouse) because it's a truly southern event. What's a southern event? It's a seesucker, sunglasses, cardigan wearing, khaki pants sporting, "Sunday best" degree of fantasticness. One of the many things I dearly love about living in the south (I'm not being sarcastic, I really do love southern charm). It was a perfectly clear morning, not a cloud in the sky. Watching all of the kids running around (fully decked out, of course) collecting Easter eggs was so much fun. We wrapped up the afternoon having a cocktail on the beach (and chasing after the kids...but at least with a cocktail it's more entertaining!).
All in all, a wonderful trip and a very happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Yes! As of Friday, I am halfway through my chemo treatments, wahoo! I am so glad that things are rolling right along. I met with my oncologists' PA on Friday, she's great and I enjoyed chatting with her. I was thinking that I would be having another PET scan soon to see what Kyle was up to, but I won't have to do that until I am finished with chemo (yay!). My next step will be to meet with the breast surgeon after my 4th round of chemo (coming up) and check on Kyle via mammogram, ultrasound, and MRI. So, look out buddy, GAME ON! I am really hoping for good news, my rash is gone and I haven't had any other issues to speak of. Of course, I am also trying to prepare myself for what I am referring to as "realistic" news in that things are maybe not quite as good as we had hoped. However, there is absolutely NO POINT on dwelling on something that is completely out of my control at this stage. Right now I have no reason not to think that I am quite soundly kicking Kyle's ass and reclaiming my life. So...fingers, toes, eyes crossed etc.

Friday's chemo was good, I had a chance to hang out with Kate for most of the morning. We spent time shopping online for cute headwear (yay for iPads!) and chatted about our experience with cancer so far. I have to say it's nice to have someone going through this that's close to my age. My treatment facility is wonderful and I adore the staff but I am on the very young side compared to most of the patients. That in itself can be very intimidating because some of the older patients are very, very ill. Most of the time I can see the positive of it all, but watching patients in different stages of their battle with cancer is eye opening and overwhelming. I've had the chance to do a lot of observation since I've been diagnosed with IBC. What impacts me most? Probably seeing the various support systems that patients have in place. None of us could do this alone, one doesn't work without the other. I am humbled as I watch the eldery couples sit hand in hand, treatment after treatment, neither willing to give up what life has offered or taken from them. I am so grateful every single day for the chances I've been given and now, this opportunity to reflect upon the things that matter the most to me.

It's going to be a short blog week for me! We're headed to the Hinman Family Compound on the coast in South Carolina for Easter. Oh yes, the beach :) Sun, sand, ocean, family, perhaps a "little" wine to add in that extra kick for relaxation. In fact, I'm supposed to be packing right now... Hopefully the car trip won't be too insane (is it ever not with kids?!?!) and I won't forget to pack half of what we need. I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter and beautiful weather!