The Gang's All Here!

The Gang's All Here!

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Today is my cancerversary - exactly one year ago today I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. My, oh my, how time flies when you're having fun ;) In many ways it's hard to believe that it's already been a year but most of the time, I'm so annoyed to have spent a year of my life (not to mention how it's affected my family and friends) dealing with this mess. The good news (well, it's the best news, really) is that I'm still here! When I was first diagnosed we really weren't sure if I would make it through the treatments. Yes, that sounds dire and very negative, but truthfully, IBC typically doesn't have a great outcome. To say that I am lucky would be a gross underexaggeration. I am so, so, so very fortunate to have received the medical care that I needed (immediately) and amazing doctors who weren't afraid of a challenge. The fact that my body responded so well to treatment is most definitely an added bonus.

Many people have asked me how I've remained so positive along the way. While I am flattered to have presented myself that way, I'm also able to admit that I'm human. Of course I've had my bad days and still do. There are days when my worries about Kyle coming back have consumed my thoughts and I can't think about anything else. The mental battle of beating cancer has been so much more challenging for me than the physical battle. But, I'm happy to share a few things that have helped me along the way.

Don't be afraid to lean. This is applicable to any tough situation, cancer or not. Friends and family WANT to help, so let them. This was really hard for me, as I am an independent person who HATES to feel like a burden. I would so much rather be the helper than the helpee! But, it also felt so good to know that I could lean on family and friends when needed.

A day at a time. And, if we're being realistic, sometimes it was an hour at a time. When things are really tough, it really helps to just focus on getting through the day (or hour, however much you need to slow it down). Focus on today and don't stress too much about tomorrow, next week or next year. The truth is, no one knows what tomorrow will bring and worrying yourself sick about it doesn't help anything.

Be an overachiever. After overcoming the initial shock of my diagnosis (which took awhile), I decided that I would educate myself on everything there was to know about my cancer and breast cancer in general. Knowledge is power and I was (and still am) determined to be an active participant in my treatment.

Treat others as you want to be treated. I think this has been the most important aspect of my treatment. I have found that being positive, friendly and open to conversation has been a huge benefit to me. A smile and best foot forward attitude has taken me miles further than wallowing and being angry about having cancer. Nobody like a Debbie Downer, not even your doctors!

Believe in miracles. Don't be afraid to hope for the best possible outcome. Why shouldn't you? Fight hard and know that at the end of the day, you've done everything you can to win, so dust yourself off (add wine if needed!) and march forward. Be a part of your miracle.

To say that it's been a helluva year would be stating the obvious. My whole purpose in starting Craptastic Tuesday was the hope that maybe one person would stumble upon this blog and realize that she needs to get her butt to the doctor and get that rash checked. In reality, Craptastic Tuesday has been my sanity, my voice and my therapy. My sincerest thanks to all of you for reading and letting me share my journey with you.

Erin xoxoxox

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Tomorrow I have my PET scan. Anyone with cancer (past or present) can relate to scan day. It's a mix of dread and anticipation. This is huge, because we'll know if I'm still cancer free or if Kyle has returned. I'm optimistic that I'm cancer free, I feel great, better than I have since before I was pregnant with Simon. I'm hoping those odds will play in my favor. Ironically, I won't get the results tomorrow, so I'm only allowing myself a minor freak out. The PET scan is an easy test and I even get to nap for an hour while I wait for the radioactive materials (neat, huh?) to make their way through my body. So, fingers crossed everyone, it's been almost a year to the day since my original diagnosis and I'm hoping for good news this time around!

Next week I meet with my breast surgeon for a "social visit" as she calls them. In other words, a check-up. I'm excited about this visit because I really love my surgeon. She is such an amazing doctor and more importantly, a fantastic person. She calls my visits "social" because I no longer need mammograms (bonus for having no boobs, score!) and she's basically just checking my progress. I'll drink to that! I also have a bone scan next week to check out how my bones are fairing. Chemo drugs can do a serious number on bone density among other things, so we'll have a look at that. I've also been having some joint pain (likely due to the Herceptin and after effects of chemo) so the scan will see if anything is going on related to that.

So yes, if we're being completely honest, I'm stressed. It's unfortunately very common for breast cancer patients to have set backs and reoccurences, epsecially given the aggressive nature of my type of cancer. I'm hoping to not be one of them, but if I do have to continue on this journey, I'm ready. This time I know what to expect  and I'm confident I will knock Kyle right back down on his ass. I'm feeling so good these days and I'm just hopeful that means nothing but good news :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And, CUT!

Well, I did it. I CUT MY HAIR!! Huge milestone on this journey. It felt rather odd to have someone cutting my hair since it's been over a year since I've had a real hair cut. I really didn't have her do anything drastic, bascially just cut off the mullet part and trim around my ears. It almost looks like I planned to wear my hair short at this point. You know, it's interesting because I really thought that my hair was growing back in exactly the same as before (super straight, fine) but now that it's a little longer, it seems to be much thicker. It also seems to have a bit of wave to it. Fingers crossed that the wave and thickness continue! We will not discuss the color, which is dark brown (booooooring) with gray. How utterly exciting. Many people have asked me if this is my natural color. Honestly, I have no clue - I've been highlighting my hair since college so your guess is as good as mine!

At this point I have all of my scans scheduled- they'll be in the next couple of weeks. I'm also coming up on my one year Cancerversary- that is seriously hard to believe. I'm going to do something cool to celebrate, I'm just not sure what yet! One of my goals coming out of all of this mess has been to volunteer working with cancer patients. I really feel like this is an opportunity for me to make a difference and "pay it forward" so to speak. So, stay tuned, I hope to have more to update on that in the upcoming months.

I keep forgetting to mention this (where are all of my brain cells going?) but my parents gave me the most amazing birthday gift. As you know, my grandmother (my dad's mom) passed away this spring, several days before her 100th birthday (she was adamant about us not throwing her a party!). Anyway, I've said that I feel that's she's my guardian angel since on the day she passed away, I received my offical "cancer free" status from my surgeon. Well, my parents had a necklace made from not only that grandmother, but my mom, her mother and great grandmother's wedding bands. How cool is that?!?! I especially love it because it makes me feel connected to all of them. A very special good luck charm, I know I'll take all of the good luck I can find!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rain, Rain, Rain

It's raining. Again. It may be time to consider building an ark. Seriously, this weather is completely lame. I know, I know, I can't really complain since our winters are relatively mild down here, but the incessant rain could make even the sanest person crazy. We were so spoiled over the weekend with temps in the 70's and no rain. My bulbs have even started to come up - hopefully they will slooooow down, because we still need to get through at least another month!

In other news, I need a haircut. Yup, totally excited to say those words! My hair is bordering on unruly and it's trying to do this 80's mullet thing. That's obviously completely inappropriate and could very well land me on What Not to Wear. While I absolutely love that show, I think I would be mortified to be nominated - just wanted to make sure I put that in print. I'm not sure why I'm putting off getting my hair cut. the girl that used to cut my hair moved to Wyoming (so rude!) and I haven't needed a cut in so long that it didn't seem important. We all know that finding the right person for your hair is such a process. I have a few suggestions from friends, I just need to make the call...

Speaking of this lousy weather, I have a major case of spring fever. I get this way at the beginning of every new year. I am so ready for warmer, prettier weather. Luckily spring comes fairly early down here, but not soon enough. We have lots to look forward to this year, especially in the first half. You'll have to stay tuned, I refuse to reveal all of my exciting news in one post :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year, New Beginnings

Why, hello there! Happy 2013! My new year is off to an excellent start and I sincerely hope that yours is as well. Some close friends have shared some exceptionally exciting news with us that has really kicked off the new year in the right way- this is going to be a good one, I can just feel it!

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of my 30th birthday. Yay. Birthdays are not nearly as much fun as they used to be. I do have the unique honor of sharing my birthday with Stella - a very special bond with my girl! I cannot believe that she is 3, going on 16 but we won't go there today. We're in the midst of potty training hell (hopefully she'll be potty trained before she heads to college). What a frustrating time of life. That and she's now started having bad dreams. Stella is convinced that the squirrels are in her curtains (yeah, I have no idea where that came from either?!?!) and she's scared. She received a toy hairdryer for her birthday and she is (somewhat) convinced that it will protect her. Although, all bets are off at 2am. Steve and I are exhausted. Simon was kind enough to break my favorite vase yesterday. That child is in constant motion. That, and he's into way more trouble than Stella ever was. Lord help me!

With the new year comes a new part of my treatment. That would be no further treatment! Yes, only two Herceptin treatments left, it's so hard to believe. I have some scans coming up in the next month to see what my body has been up to (hopefully only good things!). In February, I'll meet with my oncologist to go over the scans. The current plan is: as long as I am still NED (no evidence of disease), I will just have scans every 3 months or so. Bascially, they will just be keeping a close eye on me, but no more meds! So, keep your fingers crossed for me that all is still as it should be. I'm feeling great, so that should count for something!

You know my birthday this year is funny, but sad at the same time. When I was first diagnosed and given the seriousness of the type of cancer I have, I wasn't sure I'd be celebrating this birthday. And yet, here I am and I feel amazing. I am so, so incredibly thankful for modern medicine and the advances being made with cancer research. Here's hoping that 2013 is a landmark year for wiping out cancer and beating the odds.