What. A. Day. Brace yourself for a long one folks. Its gonna take a while to document all of the many things that happened in this day. I literally never stopped from the time my feet hit the floor this morning. Ended the day with tears.....scared tears, happy tears, those kind of tears that come when you are so "incredibly touched" that you can't do anything but cry. This day was JAMMED packed full.....I said over and over...."I just can't WAIT to blog tonight!"...AND it wasn't JUST because I was getting to use my new apple keyboard and case that my sweet David and the kids got me for Mother's Day for use with the Ipad straight from the comfort of my recliner! :)
The world began turning a little before 6 this morning. I woke a little anxious to see the Doc and the answers I was hoping to get today. Got the kiddos up.....and ready for their day. Headed out for Little Rock about 7:30. I was hoping to get there a little early to check out the Women's Resource Center at Baptist. I'd been told it was a comforting place for Breast Cancer Patients.....and had many resources available for girls like me! :) My car can't exit at Shackleford headed toward Kanis.....without veering right at the Krispy Kreme. I have cancer dang it! I wanna donut!!! :) The "auto-pilot" took over and David and I indulged ourselves. Diet? What diet? Can't believe nearly every post for the last 6 months has been my quest for weight-loss....down 41 lbs....and I'm eating this garbage. And loving every bite! :)
D and I arrived early....knew it was going to be a lucky day when we found a parking spot right up front! SCORE! :) If you have ever tried to park at Baptist....you know my victory there. Since I'm not supposed to lift more than 10lbs, D grabbed my suitcase of a purse (which I'm sure weighs double that!), opens my door....and off we go. If I haven't adeuqately described how absolutely precious he is to me throughout all of this....than let me do so now. He caters to my EVERY need, before I can even think about doing it myself. I'm completely rotten now. Everytime I even shift in my chair....he is alert and asking, "What is it baby? What do you need?" Far cry from my home life for the past few years.....I'll just leave it at that. Not quite ready to write a book.
Anyway, we headed to the resource center....2nd floor. Funny how people in elevators size up anyone not in "scrubs" to see what they might be in the building for. I guess I notice because I do it too. Our hearts immediately bleed for those who have lost hair.....or in wheelchairs, obviously week from chemo. D and I just exchange knowing looks.....and I'm sure like he....I immediately send up a prayer for that stranger. I know their fears....and I'm experiencing and about to experience what is controlling their body. I also receive the "knowing" glances from strangers as well. While outwardly....I don't have "CANCER" written across my forehead.....its obvious from my "preteen physique" hehehehe and my lovely drains showing beneath my blouse, and the pillow I carry under my arm for comfort....that I've got a little battle going on.
We got there a few minutes before it opened, so D and I sat in the chairs outside. It was nice to just have a few moments alone with him. I have known a love like this before in my lifetime. I loved John very much.....and as the father of my children, I still love and respect him. But its been a long time since I've known this love again. Mutual love and total respect. I said once.....that I would love to be "adored". Every woman wants that. David adores me. And I have zero doubt about that. He is not just beside me in this fight. He is a step AHEAD of me. I don't know if I will ever be his "wife"...(If ya like it ya gotta put a ring on it......bwahahahahaha.....just couldn't RESIST! Im not used to all this MUSH!) ....but I do know that God has given me a life partner and best friend in David. This man is incredible. He loves me on my worst days.......therefore he deserves me on my best. He instills in my son the art of being a "gentleman" to all women.....including his mother and little sister (ha!).....and invests in my children daily. God bless David.
I know I'm rambling....but I'm reflecting on every moment of this day. It's been awesome. Never want to forget even a minute!!!
The sweet little lady got there to open the Center, and D and I entered. Actually....he found a chair INSIDE the center to plop into and hold my 20 lb purse.....:) and I browsed around. It was a room full of breast stuff.....but it was breast pumps and pillows and ANYTHING on earth you could possibly need or NOT need regarding nursing an infant. Lordy! I finally asked about things available for breast cancer patients. (Lord knows I'm WAY past birthin babies!) She smiled and led me to a room in the back. With wigs, bras, "falsies", books, pamphlets, etc. We took a minute to look at the wigs. Unless I wanna come out looking like Elvira in a black one....or 80 in a gray one....I was kinda outta luck today. She is placing an order and I am to check back. That was ok.....I am hoping to not need it for a bit....or EVER. But wanted to check out the place.
I found this place is funded through grants....via either the American Cancer Society or the Komen Foundation (not quite sure) and all of the resources are free to me. I left with a couple of soft "open front" bras with some "falsies" and several pamphlets and resource materials. All free of charge. God bless those who give and donate so these grants can exist. I left there feeling again overwhelmed at the simple kindess of others. Little did I know that was the beginnings of this day.
We arrived at Dr. Hagans office (another elevator ride to the 5th floor.....same emotions) a few mins before our scheduled 9:00 appt. D still sporting my purse.....and me being a dork with all the nervous energy. Deb was meeting us there.....and we expected her to come rolling in on 2 wheels at any minute! :) Tina (yes....she is my new friend there. I don't look at these ladies as "staff" I look at them as friends. They genuinely care....and it shows! They each greet me with gentle hugs and warm smiles.) calls us back and D heads in with me this time. Without missing a beat. Exam Room 1 is mine today.....and I began to get into the lovely paper gown. I'm a pro now. I know the drill. Deb appears within a minute or 2 just ahead of the Doc. He comes in.....immediately hugs Deb and I, shakes hands with D and we dive right in.
Everything is looking good. Healing nicely. He removed the sterio-strips (sp?)....so I can now shower! Yay! I get the pleasure of keeping my drains a bit longer. But they are still having quite a bit of output so rushing it can do more harm than good. Deb proceeds to tattle on me.....that I'm a "rock star"......and back to work. He is proud of me. Next time she says it....D says I need to break out into an "air guitar" solo.....But I think I'm more of a drummer! I was FASCINATED by Peter Criss of KISS in the 80's. Might be hard to do though, now, since I can't raise my arms. So air guitar it is. :) Okay....not really. I'm being a dork, but Deb is just one of biggest fans, and is SO exaggerating. I'm just me. Doing what needs to be done. Not half as strong as I wish I was. Nevertheless, I'm extremely blessed to have a cheerleader like her in my corner. Blessed....and honored.
We present Dr. Hagans with one of my "Prayers for Terri" bracelets. He put in on immediately. While I don't necessarily expect him to wear it the next time he scrubs in for surgery.....I do know that as my doctor, and a man of God, he is praying for me. I can assure you....I pray for him too.
I asked him point blank: "Am I considered "cancer free"? His answer....Yes ma'am! I am going to be honest. While those words make feel like break dancing in the lobby.....I have rode the cancer train before with my precious mother. I know you can hear the words. And still be defeated. It CAN rear its ugly head. So my fears haven't really changed upon hearing the words like I thought it would. BUT....its nice to begin a battle from the "Offensive" side and not the "Defensive". Plan is in motion. We discussed "Oncologist" options and decided that I would see Dr. Sneed.
Funny that Dr. Hagans immediately got my DEB on the phone setting up the appointment. And true to "Debbie speed" I have an appointment on Monday. Ball is rolling....I'll know then how much and how often I'm going to be having chemo treatments. He did say that since I'm "young and otherwise healthy" that I would probably be "hit hard" to make sure any possible "lingering" cells are struck and gone. Also, since my cancer is "estrogen negative", I'm not a candidate for oral pills. Its going to be the yucky kind. So let's do it! Monday....I'll have the final pieces to the plan. Dr. Hagans is very optimistic about my prognosis. I've got my "gloves" on to fight.....and My God, my "team" and I are ready for this.
I got dressed....D grabbed the purse (ha!) and we headed out. Deb was chatting away on the phone to get my appointment set up. And I checked out with sweet Brenda at the desk confirming my next appointment here (the 29th at 8:00 am....hopefully to say "bye bye" to the drains).....and also the appointment with Dr. Sneed on Monday. We were able to speak with his precious Barb and also gave she and Tina my prayer bracelet as well. These ladies are such a blessing to me. Whether they know it or not....they have so aided in this journey but their kindness and "real-ness" of this "FBC".
Time out for Glossary lesson: "FBC" Until now, that has stood in my mind for First Baptist Church. My church home and source of "sanctuary" for the kids and I. Don't kill me!.....but I stumbled upon the blog of another breast cancer fighter/survivor while on a "googling" quests. Anytime she refers to "breast cancer" throughout her blog for the past 3+ years....she calls it "FBC". Insert "F-bomb" where appropriate. :) While I'm not quite as crass as she is.....boy do I really agree!!! :))) Forgive me in advance is I refer to FBC from time to time!!
Anyway, Barb took time out of her busy day to catch up with us and give hugs and well wishes. She and Tina walked away dawning my bracelets and D and I ended up following Deb down about 3 or 4 hallways going through a couple of "Employees Only" doors until we reached the office of sweet Tiffany. Tiffany is the source of this ball rolling soooooo very quickly just 3 short weeks ago. Of course, she put on her new bracelet immediately and extended her geniune concern and well wishes too. This "FBC" has brought many many special people into my life that I will never forget....and if my memory serves me correctly....she was the first. God has placed these wonderful ladies into a career where they NEED to be. I'm certain I'm not getting "special treatment"......but the fact that I feel as if I am special....means the good Lord has his hand in everything they do there. Simply grateful.
We exchanged hugs....and headed out! Sambo has had some issues with his iPhone.....and we had an appointment with the Apple Store.....thank goodness it was still under warranty. Since we were to be in LR anyway....we headed that way to take care of that. Got that business handled, ran a couple of errands for D, grabbed a quick bite of lunch and then headed over to St. Vincent's. I was referred to their "New Outlook" center.....for resources as well. Wow. I was immediately greeted by this spunky little lady named Alisa that is definately a new friend, in every sense of the word! I was asked to complete a little bit of paperwork.....and took a seat on the comfy sofa next to a sweet....upcoming new friend as well.....lady named Carol.
The three of us.....and D quietly listening....immediately dove in to where I was in my fight. They were thrilled to me see me ...according to them.....getting around so well after only a week from such a horrible surgery. We each did a little "name dropping" of our doctor team....and they sang the praises of my choices in Doctors. Awesome to hear...although I'd have SURE corrected them had they hadn't sang their praises as well. Still....Its great that I've never heard a bad word about my "FBC Team".....haha. I immediately shared my "love-hate" relationship....mostly hate, of course.....with my drains. Carol began to tell me her story. She had made the choice to have her reconstruction at the same time as her double mastectomy, in order to have "one surgery"...."one recovery".....I recall my hopes for the same thing, and my disappointment to learn I wasn't a cadidate for that. Three surgeries later.....and two MONTHS of wearing drains (4....not two)....sweet Carol is facing another. Her body didn't heal properly. Her chemo was a horrible experience which effected her healing. Wow. That SO could have been my story.
Cancer is teaching me patience. I have a strong "alpha' personality. Always burning the candle at both ends and a "let's get this done already" kind of girl. I'm now learning to slow down and re-invent the wheel a little in how I have to face this "FBC". Carol shared with me how lucky I was to have such a conservative physician who, while it may be a longer process, has the best interest of my health first and foremost! Doesn't really matter to him what I "want" or "prefer".....bottom line....this is out of my hands. I am to be patient. He is fighting for ME. Not my "wants." How refreshing. I've take a tad of criticism (for lack of better words).....maybe more like a little bit of judgement from some.....about how I made the decision to have a double masectomy.....a bit aggressive considering I had clear scans....and even clear nodes (we found out after the fact.) Truth is, I never batted an eye. I made the decision many YEARS ago, after I watch the FFFFFFBC take the most God-serving, loving mother from me....that one sign of cancer.....the "girls" are gone. Take em!!!!
Yes, this was aggressive. But Dr. Hagans also forced me to take a conservative rather slow "aggresive" approach to this fight. And I'd do it again. Carol gave me more "reaffirmation" today that I've made the best choices.....the best choices for me. Please pray for my new friend Carol. She has "healing" battles to her cure that I cannot imagine. Bless her for touching me in a new way today.
Alisa led me....also to a "room in the back"......complete with a salon chair and mirrors.....and wigs wigs everywhere! She put pantyhose on my head (literally!) to mask my real hair....that she would inform me as lovingly and gently as possible....that probably two weeks to the DAY after my first treatment would begin to come out. Those are the facts. But that isn't today. Today...I was wearing pantyhose and trying on wigs. D was a sport.....we laughed and laughed. Can you imagine the wig with "dreadlocks"??? "Jamacian Terri"....:) I left with two. After my sweet Leah does her diva magic on some of the crazy bangs.....I think I'll be presentable. It was a fun afternoon.....my whole mood was awesome.
I left there with not one but TWO goody bags full of treats. Little handmade scarves, books, journal, cotton caps, a little pillow, a couple of wigs, etc. She told me of a support group at a church close-by that is made up of several women "like me"....close to my age and fighting the fight I am. I am checking into that one tomorrow. We headed to the front....D carrying a armload of stuff in addition to the "purse".....and Alisa stops at her litte bookshelf. Hands me a book entitled, "God, they say I have Cancer!". She said she could tell that I am experiencing a "Faith Based" fight and that is her personal gift to me. While I was touched by the book that I most certainly intend to read. But her words...."I can tell you are having a "FAITH BASED" fight".....hit me. Is there any OTHER kind of fight??? Last night, I chit chatted with Clay, from the First Baptist FBC......hehe, and he and I talked about how we can't imagine those who go through battles like this without Him. Friends, tell everyone you know about Jesus. His glory is so WORTH it!!!!
Sweet Alisa added another stop to this "getting to be a long day" day. She told me of a special little camisole that I just HAD to have. They have little kangaroo type pockets for these awful drains. I know anyone reading this....has the point! I hate the drains. But trying to hide them is next to impossible. Try using the restroom.....pulling down your pants and trying to keep them from A) dropping to the floor....or worse dropping into the toiliet! and B) they are heavy and any simple movement of them being that they are attached to me.....is painful. I try to tuck them into my pants....or hold them close to me. But I am constantly fighting with them. This little cami, has pockets on the inside that hold the drains! They also have a special little bra for more cotton"falsies". She said it may cost about $35 dollars or so....but I HAD to have one of those! The drains are killing me.
She sent me to Snell Prosthetics just down the road....so here we are on another mission to find this cami. We get there expecting a "store" but its more like a Doctor's office. I asked at the window and told them why I was there.....she insisted on dang near a complete medical history, complete with insurance info and said I needed to have a seat. I think we waited no less than 30-45 minutes. I was getting a tad cranky....had been a long day, and I was tired. I needed to get back to Benton to the kiddos, (although two simple texts and they were taken care of. My sweet Tammy and Marcia. They got 'em squared away without missing a beat!). Anyway, twice I re-interated to the folks "behind the glass"....that I just needed the "golden cami". Finally, I was led to a "pink" room. I mean, this roomed looked like it had been hosed down in Pepto-Bismol.....pink walls, pink cabinets, pink ceiling. Of course....it made me smile. I was immediately calm again. The Nurse Practioner's name is Beth. A soft-spoken lady with such a gentle nature.
Beth, my "another new friend", knew immediately of my needs. Fitted me with the "golden cami" and gave me some other tips for adding "physical" comfort to me while I'm forced to live with them. The cami SHOULD in fact be golden.....due to the price of it being over $70!! However, she is making sure it is covered under my insurance so I would have to pay only $11. Sold! I'll take two! :) She only had one small in stock, so I'll be picking up my second one next week when I go back to the doc. I know I'll be facing the drains again after reconstruction.....so the mission of the cami proved successful. FINALLY! :)
Poor David. We now had a car full of wigs, fake boobies, bras, and BOOKS about wigs, boobies, and bras. Not one complaint. Not one ounce of boredom. Nothing. He is my angel. Period.
We stopped by the ATT store to re-activate the new replacement phone for Sam. Done. You would think I was bringing him a new arm or something. He had to use a 3gs for two whole days! Mean mommy I am. He would be thrilled to have a brand new 4s via his warranty. We then headed on back to Benton for a couple more errands. Fred's pharmacy first....for a prescription. Then stopped by USA Drug looking for a particular guaze pad that I need. No luck at Fred's or USA. Only at Walgreens. Funny though, the lady who worked there and we asked for help.....is a recent survivor. We briefly exchanged stories. While I didn't catch her name, I prayed for her tonight. And will continue to do so. She was a joy! Seems like God placed survivors everywhere in my path today! Even the drug store!!!
We headed to Walgreens, to pick up my Syd, and finally home. Home brought me more cards with treats from wonderful precious friends. Syd tries to race everyone to the mailbox....hoping to be the one to announce to me, "Mom!! You got more cards today!" We love it. Cards from so many friends are not only uplifting to me...but to all of us. So incredibly overwhelmed at the outpouring of love.....and grateful. I share my faith with such an awesome community of believers!!!
Home less than an hour.....and off to the new complex for the Panther Game! I was a bit tired from the day. Had hoped to be able to rest a bit before but flat ran out of time. But so enjoyed watching my Sam play his first High School Game.....(Dang...he is growing up on me....what is the hurry already????) and visiting with my sweet friends. Pam was my chauffer there...and Deb hauled us home. Pam and I had a long overdue and much needed visit! I just love her! She describes our friendship is being able to act silly like we are 10 years old.....I'm sure there are people who would think we are "under the influence" of "mommy drinks"! But we are just silly friends who laugh laugh laugh everytime we are together! Tonight was no different. God knew what He was doing a few short years ago when he placed us into the "Cubs Family" and gave me Pam and her precious family! Love her!
I also received many smiles, hugs, well wishes, and chit-chats from many many precious friends. I was back in my element....complete with hollerin at my Sam for dropping a pass that was thrown right to him!! Ugggggg!!!! Trust me....he was just as bummed when he got home....but hey. Life happens. We all "drop the ball" sometimes. But just like in football....we can get up and dust ourself off and try try TRY again!
Deb delivered us home and my sweet friend Shannon and Chloe....Syd's other "Mom" and another BFF came bearing gifts. Chloe and Sydney are pretty much unseparable. We used to be neighbors until we had to move from Longhills, but the move didn't shake this friendship. Nor did two different school districts. Even the fact that they are Benton and Bryant!!! I tease that Shannon may fight me to claim Syd as a tax deduction since she is there so much! We love Chloe as our own. Never and ounce of drama with those girls. I can foresee a forever friendship there.
Unbeknownst to me, Shannon had lost her best friend to breast cancer a few years ago. I could tell that she was fighting back the tears as she brought me a little book entitled, "Stepping into the Ring....Fighting for Hope over Despair in the Battle Against Breast Cancer." Along with it are a little tiny pair of pink boxing gloves. She has a matching set hanging on her rearview mirror, alothough a bit faded from the sunshine and years. But a constant reminder of her friend Kim's battle with FBC! Sydney informed me that Chloe's youngest sister Kimberly, is named after Shannon's precious friend. "Kimbo" is a spunky little child and a bundle of energy and joy. I now add another another precious soul I'm fighting this battle for......Becca's Keri, Shannon's Kim, and my sweet mother. I've got quite a team going now......and my pink gloves are ON!!!!! And I will never forget Shannon and her Kim and the fight I have to continue....everytime I look at my gloves. God bless Shannon and her family. They mean so very much to us.
I am ending the day simply exhausted. And even with a few tears. Friends, Im really not that "strong". I have my God. I have my kiddos. I have more friends than I never knew I had. And to be honest....I've seen things in friends that have suprised me in different sorts of ways. This cancer has hurt me physically....but it has opened to my eyes to so much....good AND bad.....but in many ways, it has blessed us. Blessed us as a family. My strength at times comes from the people around me. It comes from things my momma taught me. It comes from meds! Goodness I'd be a basketcase.....Yes, I am on an anti-depressant! And yes, it gives me strength. But mostly, my strength comes from my God. I'm just me....with a powerful beacon of strength from Him. Cancer has taught me that, yes? Let it teach YOU that too.....no earthly problem is too big with Him as your source of strength. I'm not "special"......that promise is to all who believe in His grace and accept His glory.
I've learned that you can quickly turn a sympathetic "pity" stare into a geniune smile. All ya gotta do is let your faith shine! :)
Headin to bed....gonna be feeling this full day tomorrow. Before I go, please pray for my dear friend Janet, who lost her father. Also, keep my sweet Emme in your prayers for her surgery next week. And many other of my friends who have stresses and issues heavy on them right now. Prayers of comfort and blessings going up for all of you! Sorry for the long post.....but I never wanna forget the "fullness" of this day.....Blessings!