October 31, 2011 by Julie
So not only does the wonderful BRCA 1 gene I possess mean that I get my chest butchered but I also have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Well you know what that means right? Yep…I get to have those removed too. When? I have no idea. Because losing your ovaries sucks worse than losing your breasts. Why? Because what 35 year old woman wants to go through menopause? Not this one!
But I must remember…….lose your breast + lose your ovaries = keep your life.
I keep stumbling around on the internet researching and looking for something helpful. I need to do more research about my situation and what I plan to do. I read an amazing story from another BRCA person…35. Her story was empowering and just what I needed to read. But then I just have this overwhelming nausea that I can’t shake. And I feel hot inside…and like my heart is going to pound out of my chest. I can’t imagine if today was the day for me to make that step. One of these days…not too far from now… it will be. Will I feel this way every time I think about it? Will I feel this scared every time? Thank goodness I pray…that’s about all that seems to calm me down.
Do not be afraid….Do not be afraid…Do not be afraid
Category The Journey | Tags: breast cancer,decisions | No Comments
October 29, 2011 by Julie
Category The Journey | Tags: quote | No Comments
October 29, 2011 by Julie
I took the Big Girl to the eye doctor’s office today. She failed her vision screening at the pediatrician’s office earlier this year so we took her to get her eye’s checked and sure enough she is just slightly near sighted. Nothing too bad but enough that it probably is a good idea to get her corrective lenses. She knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted dark plastic frames and she was so very excited. We tried on several pair and picked some super cute dark brown ones with a blue green color on the inside. Adorable! I can’t wait for her to get them next week. My little 8 year old…a milestone.
I remember the day I got my first pair of glasses. I can remember the day we picked them up and my mom handed them to me. I remember specifically being SHOCKED that you could see leaves on trees, read license plates and read billboards. I thought for sure my mother just had bionic vision and that someday when I got older my eyes would be able to see those type of things as well. It was a remarkable day in my life. I was 8 years old. I went from being the girl out in left field who couldn’t catch a ball to save her life to being the star of the softball field. I love looking at pictures now and seeing all the many different types of glasses I had over the years. And goodness gracious the year my mom either chose or let me get my lenses tinted ROSE…heaven help me they were awful. That was the same year I got an awful perm. I think my parents were working hard to make me the ugliest duckling of them all.
But today it wasn’t my girl and her new glasses that made me emotional. It was the fact that I got to say “We have a new insurance”. Why is that such a big deal? Because six and a half years ago my husband decided to embark on a new adventure and start his own company. He became an entrepreneur and with that came a lot of hard things. It is not an easy road…starting your own business. He has worked so many long hours. He has had so many sleepless nights. He is great at what he does though. He now has a successful company with seven employees and this month he was able to offer all his employees health benefits. I don’t think most people understand what that means or how that would even feel. It means we are legit. It means he’s doing things right. It means people are working for him and entrusting him with their family’s well being. I am so very proud of him. It was in that moment when the technician told me our glasses would just cost $25 that I just felt this overwhelming gratitude for how hard my man has worked. It means so many things beyond that too. It means that now I get to have my surgery. It means that I don’t have to worry as much about every little health issue since we no longer have catastrophic insurance. Such a simple thing…meant so very much today. Thank you my love.
Category The Journey | Tags: big girl,family,glasses,insurance | No Comments
October 29, 2011 by Julie
My father in law is very sick. He’s been sick as long as I have known him really. He had lymphoma and underwent chemo which killed his kidneys and his liver. He needs heart surgery which they won’t give him because he also needs a kidney and a liver. He won’t be getting any of those because he’s too sick. He does dialysis three days a week and he has a speech therapist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a nurse all coming to his home.
He’s never been a very affectionate man and never very expressive with his words but yesterday when we went to visit he called my name and said “thanks for coming to visit.” I have always known he loved me and was happy that I chose to marry his son. He called today after I sent a picture of the grandkids via email and said to me in his goodbye on the phone “I love you.” I think that was the first time I have ever had him say that to me.
I don’t know how much longer he is going to be around. I am grateful for all the time we have had with him. I am sad that he is not doing well. I am amazed that he has lived as long as he has. I am happy that he and my son have a connection beyond words. I will miss him when he is gone. He is a good man and it meant a lot for him to say “i love you” today. Sometimes short quick goodbyes are good because you don’t watch a person suffer for a long time but sometimes long drawn out goodbyes are good because you have the time to say everything you ever needed to say.
I love you too Grandaddy.
Category The Journey | Tags: family,grandaddy | No Comments
October 28, 2011 by Julie
My first appointment…with a breast surgeon in Atlanta. Mom is going with me. It makes me feel good to be in action…moving towards something. I went today and picked up my old mammogram films. I feel so grateful to have my family nearby…and have my mother with me for this journey. It’s time to do what needs to be done.
“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
I am almost 34. I feel so young to even be thinking about this sort of thing but at the closing ceremony, in pink, I saw so many women who looked to be my age. How in the world? It’s overwhelming…daunting to think about how many people are affected by this disease. I feel nauseous when I think about it. My grandmother was 38…so very close to my age. What if we didn’t have this research? What if I didn’t know or have access to surveillance testing. I am humbled. It reminds me that you have to live life everyday to the full. Do what you really want…be who you really want to be.
Category The Journey | Tags: 3day,breast cancer,surgeon | No Comments
October 27, 2011 by Julie
Last night was the first night that my husband and I got to talk about the 3day event. Such is life when you have three children…it takes a while to connect. I think it was actually good that I didn’t talk to him about it on Monday or Tuesday…it gave me a little more time to process the emotions. It was very hard to explain to someone who hasn’t seen the event before. We discussed my surgery plans and he was, of course, completely supportive. He’s planning on going with me to visit all the plastic surgeons. We also talked about walking the event together in 2013 after my surgery. That made me so extremely happy. I need him to see the event. I am so grateful to be married to him. He is not afraid and I know he will love me no matter what complication arises in surgery. I think this will be harder than he thinks to see me go through.
Category The Journey | Tags: 3day,breast cancer,mister,walking | No Comments
October 27, 2011 by Julie
Yesterday I printed off a list of all the plastic surgeons that are covered by my insurance. Six pages of names and addresses but I wasn’t really sure where to start. I posted on facebook but then after getting several questions from friends I removed the post. I don’t mind that everyone knows what is going on but I didn’t want to be overly dramatic and draw attention. One person did email me though and really took the time to reach out. Her husband is a ob/gyn here in town and her sister in law is a breast surgeon in Atlanta. She emailed her sister in law for me and got me several recommendations for surgeons. I now have a list of four…two men and two women. Tomorrow I’m calling to make appointments to meet with them.
There are moments every single day that I can hardly believe I’m doing this. It’s like a movie I’m watching but not really participating in. I am going to take my mom with me to meet surgeons. I think this will be a bit cathartic for her to go through with me. I need a bit of space though to separate my emotions from hers. I feel differently about my surgery than she did…we are such very different people. She wants to protect me so much and I have to find the line of letting her help me and making my own choices. I don’t doubt that she’ll support me wholeheartedly…no matter what I choose to do.
This is my journal…writing my questions, notes and thoughts about this journey.
Category The Journey | Tags: breast cancer,decisions,plastic surgeon | No Comments
October 27, 2011 by Julie
This weekend I participated in the Susan G Komen 3day for the cure. I am so grateful for this weekend in Atlanta. I feel like I went through a roller coaster of emotion. I loved every minute of freezing our tails off in the morning cold, sleeping between my snoring friends, driving in circles all over Atlanta and most of all exploring all the emotion inside of me that I try so often to ignore. I do believe I was exactly where I needed to be with the group of people I needed to be with.
Breast cancer has affected my family in so many ways but it hasn’t been as personal as it has been for many of the people I came in contact with during this 3day. In my mind it’s always felt “manageable” for some reason. To be there at the event really put some reality to it that I had not experienced before. I haven’t ever watched someone die from breast cancer. I haven’t ever had a friend diagnosed. My mom’s diagnosis didn’t even really seem “real” to me because it was after she had her breasts removed. On Friday my friend showed me the memorial tents and though they were moving….it didn’t really beckon me inside. I had fun encouraging walkers and just being with my team.
Saturday…was a big day. Something really hit me. I saw way too many buttons, signs, tshirts with people missing their mamas and I realized that could have been me. I felt so humbled and grateful for the gift of research and genetic testing and most of all for the voice inside my mother’s heart that led her to have her surgery before anything grew out of control in her body. Then my thoughts quickly went to my children and what I must do in order to ensure they aren’t wearing buttons with my picture. It was like my heart was being stepped on. I felt so heavy. I feel so sad that my mom knows I carry the gene. I don’t know how in the world I will feel when I find out someday if I have passed it along to my own children. How will I feel as they make decisions to deal with that diagnosis? What if they don’t choose what I think they should choose? What if they are afraid?
The rest of Saturday was me coming back to peace with what had been opened up in my heart. I had a moment of clarity on our walk back to camp when the sun was shining bright over the empty parking lot and I realized that my path is clear. I will do the hard things that I have to do to stay healthy. I will hold that moment in my heart for a very long time. It was a content feeling…just peace at being where I was.
Sunday was another great day…mixed with so much emotion and so many laughs. Our team had found their groove and we were so happy to be together. After working all morning we sat and ate our lunch quietly while we listened to the music. I could have sat there all day just in the presence of my new friends. It was perfect. We gave our crew captain a tshirt that we all signed. I don’t think any of us were able to express in a 10 word little blurb how grateful we were for him. For his dedication to the cause. For his vulnerability for sharing his story. I feel like I truly gained a friend for life this weekend. He was like an older brother to me…listening knowingly…understanding all the emotions that I was trying to put into words…happily watching me “get it”. I know there was so much going on in his heart that weekend. I don’t know him well enough to really understand but I will. He needed to come to Atlanta and we needed him to be there. He needed to see how what he was doing WAS and IS making a difference to people like me. We were right where we needed to be.
The final walk into holding was so much more than I expected it to be. It was the connection of the walkers and the crew realizing that we were there for each other in a way that noone else really understands. Inside where aching feet turned to dancing feet and the victory everyone felt for pushing themselves to the limit and beyond what they thought they were capable of. Looking around and seeing all the pink survivor shirts. Seeing women my age in pink…my age! Almost none of them know MY story. Almost none of them know that I will be there next year hopefully post surgery. Who else in that space was just like me? Who there was too afraid to be proactive and now wears pink or worse…isn’t there at all. They walked for me. They crewed for me. So that I can be brave. We walked in a line out to the closing ceremony and I was overcome with gratitude. Their eyes all saying “we know…you can do it”…knowing my team was there with me….in front of me and behind me not letting me run away. I am not alone.
Category The Journey | Tags: 3day,breast cancer,crew,decisions | 1 Comment