When You Know There’s A Tomorrow…

I’ll be honest. When I found out I had cancer, I splurged on things I normally wouldn’t buy like my gorgeous and totally functional Kate Spade and Coach bags. Joe built a rock wall, sold his bikes and bought an even sweeter mountain bike. (Actually, as I’m typing this I’ve just justified those things.) But it was more than that. It was all the lattes, which I don’t normally drink. We ordered take out – a lot. We dined out – a lot. We planned trips. Awesome trips! I continued to pay for our sitter and housekeeping services even though I lost my job in November. Once December came and I found out that there was a possibility of having cancer, it was about survival. More than that, it was about trying to find some way to compensate for the joyless struggle of battling cancer while maintaining some sense of normalcy with a lot more fun. Simply put, I enjoyed retail therapy to ease the pain. This, of course, on top of the co-pays and deductibles.  It was best not to look. Just go.

I will be done treatment on January 31st. I can’t even tell you how excited I am about that. It feels right around the corner. What’s funny is that right around the corner is my next surgery. Yes, another surgery. Next Wednesday, November 2nd actually. I’ll be headed down to Sibley to meet my fabulous plastic surgeon, Dr. Anita Kulkharni. I will be having my expanders removed and my implants put in. I will finally be able to have soft breasts again instead of the rocks that I’m currently sporting. I won’t ever regain sensation in my breast. The nerves have all been damaged from the mastectomy. I still won’t have nipples. That’s another surgery. I will also be having abdominoplasty to address my severe diastasis recti. Yes, I’m having a tummy tuck. And that is awesome. But more importantly, sewing my abs back together will strengthen my core which will alleviate the severe back pain I’ve endured since having H. I will save several thousand dollars linking these two surgeries as insurance has no interest in paying for a tummy tuck even if it is really to fix an issue that affects my quality of life that exercise, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care, and rest were not able to fix? Is it my fault that I’m going to be looking awesome by summer? No, it is not. So boom…onto the card it goes.

So here we are. I’m having surgery next Wednesday and it is going to be a 4 – 6-week recovery process. At the end, I will look and feel better and will be on my way to feeling a little bit closer to my new self. This Halloween my costume is “Before”.

It is also Fatima, our sitter’s last day tomorrow. So surgery next Wednesday and no sitter. Luckily my parents have offered to have H next week and Hilary will be on call for the week after. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten but I’m certain it will be sorted out soon.

Which brings me to another new….we’ve had a lot of new(s) of late. Over the summer we learned that S has Aspergers in addition to his ADHD. His case is mild but we still struggle daily. We’ve decided not to tell him so that he can’t try to use it as a crutch. He’s begun weekly group therapy which he loves. Together the kids work on social skills and learn more about how to engage and interact with the world. As parents, we’re learning new skills to manage our day to day. And his school is really engaged in helping Sam thrive. It’s an exciting time. And we’re fortunate to finally be able to start putting all these pieces start to work together.

And then….we decided to sell our house. But Heather, your house is AMAZE-BALLS! I know, I know. The decision nearly killed us. But our kids (and S especially) need their own rooms. BUY OUR HOUSE. We are hoping it will be a short listing and we’ll be under contract soon because keeping the house tidy with three kids is for the birds! Where we’re going is up in the air because we confirmed that Joe can work anywhere. It’s an exciting time. And we’re ready for a new adventure.

So, this was a bit of a rambly post but so is life. We’ve got a lot of moving parts in our home these days. And some parts are good, some are bad, and some are just plain crazy. I’m learning patience, gaining strength and getting smarter about life each day. Now that I’m pretty confident there’s going to be a tomorrow, I’m ready to start dreaming of an amazing 2017. Just have to knock off a few items on the old to-do list.

Hang in there with me, folks.

Much love to you all and PLEASE VOTE!



So It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month…

It’s October 18th and I’m sitting in the infusion room receiving another infusion of Herceptin. This past year I have faced and accepted the possibility of death. I’ve imagined my children growing up strong and healthy without me. I’ve laid in a hospital bed for ten days of which four I don’t even remember. I’ve been loved. I’ve cried. A lot. I’ve gone through menopause. I’ve seen my body literally ripped apart, removed and reconstructed to resemble what once was there. I’ve thrown up. A lot. I’ve pooped myself. A lot. I’ve smiled. A lot. I’ve had a 100% response to chemo. I’ve imagined my children growing up strong and healthy with me. And every time I see the pink I cringe. I feel ashamed. I feel anger. But why?

Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with cultivating awareness. And there’s nothing wrong with ribbons. After all pink is just a color and ribbons are just ribbons, right? For breast cancer, it has become so much more than just a ribbon. It’s hair dryers, crackers and even snowplows coated in pink in the name of Breast Cancer. Remember when KFC had pink buckets of fried chicken?

In my opinion, pink has lost its effectiveness. It is a marketing tool to sell stuff and not save lives. Pink ribbons are too often used in an under-handed way to make consumers feel good about what they are buying and who they are buying from. In other words, pink ribbons boost profits and image for a corporation or organization at the same time.

I also feel that the pinkwashing of breast cancer attempts to make Breast Cancer feel softer, easier, and not that bad. It’s an adorable lady disease. First of all, men get breast cancer. And breast cancer is not soft, easier and fun.

We don’t need more awareness, we need more action. We need legislation. We need more support and accessibility for low-income patients. Rather than purchasing pretty pink products where the majority of the profits do not go to research, donate directly to organizations that help people deal with the devastating diagnosis of cancer. Or, come hang out me and hear about what it’s like to lose my breasts and live with the constant fear of it sneaking up and making me endure this nightmare again. If you want to reflect on breast cancer and it’s true toll, visit and give to the SCAR Project. That is the real face of breast cancer and survivorship. Survivorship is ugly, brutal, beautiful and joyous all at once, just like life.

Go have a pumpkin spice latte. That’s the best way to celebrate October.

Much love to you all.

Closer to Fine…

Recently, my bestie Meredith posted Closer to Fine as her weekly musical gift on the AndNoCasseroles Facebook group. I was in my car and put it on to have a listen since it had been a while.

“Closer To Fine”

I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
The best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it’s only life after all
Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it, I’m crawling on your shore.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

Check out this gem of the video!

I broke down as I listened to the words with my new perspective. People, there is so much I want to tell you about my experience with breast cancer but I’ve been so tired. I want to tell you about the brain fog and how I often feel like I’m outside my body when I’m having a conversation. My mouth moves faster than my brain and I can’t keep up. I want to tell you how it hurts so much when I hug my kids and they hit my port by accident. I want to tell you how I have no feeling in my “breasts” and how that makes me feel not entirely human. I want to tell you about the side effects of my HER2 drugs. How I need to be near a bathroom all the time and I’m really anxious when I’m not. How I am so physically exhausted from the infusions that even ten hours of sleep wouldn’t leave me feeling refreshed at all.
It’s easy to fall into a little despair pit, though. But I must remember that I am here. I am loved. And I can love. And that’s what the world needs. So I’m going to love on you guys so much in the hopes that we can make this crooked line a little more bearable and I hope you’ll do the same for others.
I will also work on being more patient and remember that I am a work in progress – currently in the midst of a renovation. One day in 2017 I will wake up and there will be no infusions, no surgeries and no doctor appointments in my calendar. And it is going to be so awesome!
I am closer to fine.
Love to you all.

#Thisisnotaboutyou (Part Two)

So I don’t really remember waking up from my mastectomy surgery. The first thing I remember is looking down at my bound chest with these little mounds. I had to keep them bound for a week until my first appointment my plastic surgeon. I also had four gross drains pinned to my compression bra. They looked like little grenades that filled up with blood and mucous from my surgery site. And I had to dump and measure the content throughout the day.

At my first appointment with Dr. Kulkharni, my plastic surgeon, I was thrilled to have two of my drains removed. My dear friend, Amy L., drove me to my appointments. When they remove your drains, they literally just pull the tubes out of your body. It doesn’t hurt but it is really bizarre to see these tubes just coming and coming and coming. They can sure fit a lot in there! This was also the first time I was able to see what had been hidden under my compression bra.



Week One


There it was. These oddly shaped things that were supposed to resemble breasts. Incisions halved what once were my breasts while holding the remaining skin together. I was actually surprised by my lack of concern of what I saw before me. The phrase “I am a work in progress” was something I had begun repeating to myself post chemo.

At the time of my mastectomy, my plastic surgeon was there to immediately begin reconstruction. That’s why when I came out of surgery I was not completely flat. She placed an expander in each breast and filled each with about 300cc of saline. Each week I would need to come to her office for a pump up of 100cc of saline.

At the second appointment, my other two drains were finally removed! They are the worst part! They are awkward and anything you wear looks bumpy and are just generally gross. Having all of my drains removed meant I was also allowed to drive again!




So each week was further progress in my healing. Each week I would be pumped up with my 100cc and given valium to help ease the pain of my body having to make new skin as we created space for my new breasts. It hurt to be hugged. And the shape was awkward. They kept filling into my armpits and were pretty much flat across the front. On the upside, I haven’t worn a bra in weeks!

I’ve completed my saline fills and am happy with the estimated size I will be when I have my actual implants exchanged in November. But why share these photos? It’s not about you. It’s about sharing the unpretty side of what cancer has done to my body. It’s about normalizing it for other men and women who may someday find themselves in the same situation and it helps to know what to expect physically. Cancer sucks, ya’ll. But I will continue to be a work of progress. And for those of you who have to do this, I’m so sorry. But I promise you can do this. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Let others love you. You are simply a work in progress.

Much love to you all. I am so thankful to be able to share this journey with you.


#Thisisnotaboutyou (Part One)

“Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.”

Recently, a friend posted this fabulous article in the LA Times. I’ll wait why you go read it.

It has been 7 months since I was diagnosed. Yes, it’s a long time. And yes, I’m glad I’m done chemo. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And then coming in for a tie was my double breast mastectomy. Unless you’ve been in this situation, don’t compare it to any surgery you’ve ever heard of or had. It is not a gallstone or an appendix. This surgery makes childbirth look like a quick game of Candy Land. And I’ve had three babies.

It’s only been two weeks since my  bi-lateral mastectomy with auxiliary lymph node dissection on the right side. But before that I had to configure child care for three kids: age 20 months (today!) 5 and 7 for at least two weeks. I haven’t seen my daughter for two weeks and it makes me mad. Mad that this stupid cancer has taken away precious time with my family and that my summer is riddled with guilt that I have to rely on others to hold my babies. So before I get more ragey, I’ll get back to the day of surgery. (Insert Wayne World Memory Montage. – Damn it! YouTube is blocked in our house or I’d have included a link to a scene. Some people in our home have a YouTube problem that we needed to nip in the bud.)

Okay, so here’s the sunshine and puppies part! Joe and I arrived at the Suburban Hospital at 7am to sign in and head up for prep. We headed up to the 5th-floor waiting room and took a seat. Then this tiny little woman (after tripping and I felt bad) sat down and started eating a damn unripened peach. CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH! What the hell, lady?! First of all, that sound makes me want to cause physical harm to people. This is totally a thing because not only do I have Breast Cancer but I also suffer from misophonia . I blame my parents. Ask them about the Rice Police. Second, this is a room where people haven’t eaten or had anything to drink since the day before and there you sit all fancy with your loud annoying peach. RUDE! I really thought typing that out would make me feel better. It didn’t. I’m now just as annoyed as I was then. And if you were wondering, I did let her live.

Finally, I get called back and am barraged with a bunch of questions about my health and whether I’m in an abusive relationship or not. Fun times. Then Joe is allowed back to join me. I meet one of my nurses who takes me down to Radiation Lab without Joe so I can get my nuclear medicine injected by four needles into my right breast. FYI: You don’t need the lidocaine shots. If you do, you are a complete idiot because then you’ve endured 8 shots. It’s kind of neat that because it’s a radioactive tracer that “lights up” any areas of cancer inside the breast.” Basically, my breast becomes a human light bright on the operating table. Pretty cool. On the way down in the elevator,  the nurses and I got to talking about paint colors and I suggested the one nurse try Balboa Mist for her new home. It looks taupe on the website but it’s really more like warm gray and I LOVE it! The other nurse mentioned she loves Benjamin Moore Paint. As you can tell, it was a thrilling elevator ride.

Also, my nuclear medicine nurse was having lunch that day with her best friend who she hadn’t seen in 35 years since she left India. I hope they had a great time. She seemed pretty excited.

Then it was back to the holding pen for patients while we waited for the doctors to visit. First up the anesthesiologist – he seemed nice enough and in retrospect, he did an excellent job because I only just remember smiling and being lifted onto the operating table and then waking up in the recovery room.

Then came my Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Kulharni. I love her and highly recommend her. She came in and did some lovely, very difficult to remove artwork on my breasts. Even Joe commented that she looked like an artist working on her masterpiece. I think we both flattered by that. Well done, Joe!

Then came Dr. Wright, who I also love,  to ensure everything was all set. Each person who came into the room made me describe to them in my own words what type of surgery I was having. In hindsight, I should have been more creative in my description. This must be why I wasn’t allowed coffee.

Then we got the call from the operating room letting us know it was game time. I received a sedative and don’t really even remember rolling through the halls. I remember entering the room, being placed on the operating table and then out I went.

But then I woke up and the drugs were awesome!

That’s all for now. More soon!

Much love to you all.




Well, that was awkward…

For six months I’ve known that I would be losing my breast. Off and on I would stop and think about it but it was such a foreign concept that it has been difficult to really wrap my brain around it. I think I’ve been pretty cool about it. People ask how I’m doing and usually, my response is something along the lines of “I’m fine. I mean I’m getting new ones!” And for the most part, that was a completely honest response. After all, they are my breasts and not my legs. They never worked anyway. I couldn’t even use them to feed my babies. It was heartbreaking.

Even working through my decision to have a double mastectomy I felt rather unfazed by the fact that I would be losing my breasts. And one by my own personal choice at that.



Who knew these little guys could trigger so many of the feels? 


And then I went to Target today to pick up my medication that I will take after surgery. Valium and Percoset!? I should be a good time so please come visit. I digress…So I picked up my meds and headed to the makeup aisle to check out eyeshadow for my party this weekend. That’s where it happened. It was completely unexpected. There right in front of the L’Oreal section I began to sob. I couldn’t stop. I stood there as tears rolled down my face. I couldn’t move. I was embarrassed both by how public my tears were and how I allowed this enormous wave of sadness completely take me by surprise.

Is it normal to be sad about something like this? Of course. And I’ve been curious about how chill I’ve been about my impending surgery. That is, until today. So here I am standing with my little sack of feelings that I should probably do something with.  Until I’m ready I’m going to eat about half of the candy I bought for the pinata. That seems like the most rational thing to do.

Love to you all.

Should She Stay or Should She Go Now?

The last round of chemo was much like hitting the wall in a marathon. Your choice is to stop or push through and keep moving. I wanted to ignore all my side effects and pretend the end of chemo was in the infusion room. Instead, I spent time with my family and tried my best to keep ahead of my nausea meds. It’s really not fun to fall behind and suddenly find yourself looking for a decent place to let, for lack of a better term, let loose. Ewwww, I know, I know. Now you can’t stop thinking about it. Sorry.

Here. This will help distract you. These women are my heroes! Maryanne and Heather were my primary oncology nurses throughout Chemo. They are the nicest, smartest, most caring human beings on the planet. I love them. I’ve watched them care for patients with grace and courtesy. I’m glad I get to see them for a while longer for my HER2 treatments.


Now if my oncologist (the amazing Dr. Hendricks) were to say I needed a seventh round of chemo, I’m not sure I would have been able to do it. Obviously, I would try but damn it would be hard. Even Dr. Hendricks said there’s a reason there are only 6 treatments. The body just can’t handle the stress beyond the prescribed six rounds.

IMG_2136.JPGBut here I am! Today I had my first HER2 infusion without the chemo. I chose to take the bag of Benadryl since I have had that with each round of chemo. And who doesn’t love a little nap in the middle of the day? Well, usually my infusions are about 6 hours. Today it was only about 90 minutes and boy did that Benadryl knock me on my ass. I was a sleepy space cadet until about 6:30pm. I won’t be doing that anymore!

Before my HER2 treatment, Joe and I made a visit to my plastic surgeon, Dr. Kulkarni. She’s been super supportive, realistic and honest in how I approach my reconstruction. Which brings me to my decision to have a double mastectomy in two weeks rather than just my right breast.

This was not a decision I have made lightly. And tonight Joe and I sat and seriously made a list of pros and cons. I’ve been contemplating having a double mastectomy for a few months now but I really needed to make a decision. My decision for a double is mostly based on peace of mind. Recently a friend who just wrapped up treatment found a lump in her other breast which required a biopsy. I don’t want to spend a minute more wondering if breast cancer will make its return. I do not want to undergo more chemo. Of course, there are some benefits as well. Huge thanks to Laurie Brown Kindred for spending walking me through her experience with this process.

My recovery will not be any longer. My risk of infection only goes up to 10% from 5%. Both of my breasts will look the same after reconstruction. I won’t need to wear a bra. And I won’t have the worry that cancer will rear its ugly head in my left breast. This is not an adventure I’d like to do again. So, there it is. I’m having a double mastectomy in two weeks. Guess I better change my invitation to my Ta Ta for Now Party. I also kind of want to rename my breasts, Thelma and Louise.

So off into the sunset, they will go. Thanks for the Mammories, ladies.

Love you all!