Happy Homeowner!!!!

I’ll start first by saying I haven’t posted anything this week because I’ve been busy at work, which is nice to be at work! The week following my first chemo treatment was sucky. It felt like I had the flu or like being pregnant. Constant state of nausea and headaches, exhaustion and just plan blah feeling. And soooooooo emotional! Then I get to the one week after treatment mark and it’s like BAM! Someone flicked off the sick switch and feel like my normal self again. If it stays this way I can deal. It’s just so strange to feel like there is something foreign running through your system and then feel normal again. But I’m not complaining! Sidenote: If you notice me repeating anything in my posts please forgive me! It’s Chemo Brain!!! It’s horrible!!! lol

Ok, so on to what this post is all about. I FINALLY (after a long 11 months) own my first home!!!!!! And it was worth every ounce of the battle!!! To make a long story short, if possible, we have been trying for almost a year to purchase a bank owned foreclosure because it was such a great deal. Most of the problems were due to dealing with a third party company and communication barriers. But in the end, everyone involved worked really hard to make it all possible. I have to stop a moment and thank Jimmy Yancey for all of his hard work in making my dream come true! I wanted this house and he stopped at nothing to make it happen. So I’m plugging him right now. Need a lender for your home purchase or refi, I’ll give you his info! But seriously, I am grateful to have such a wonderful friend who was relentless in making the deal go through. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. No more stress! Well at least not for purchasing the home. Now I get to stress about all the demo/construction Chris is doing to the home and sticking to the budget! lol

Things are actually coming along great. We’ve made a ton of progress in one week and are focused on keeping it moving. Our hope is to be in there by the end of the year. Which I think is doable. All the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC are in progress. If you need any of those guys let me know. We have some seriously good companies working on our house. They show up everyday which is huge! I think Chris and I made a good decision on this house. He started his own construction business, Cameron Contracting, and is currently awaiting his MHIC license. Once he gets this which should come in about 2 weeks he’ll be ready to rock. I obtained my real estate license in May. I’ve recently signed up with Exit First Realty and will begin plugging myself here soon! ūüėČ Chris and I should have a great thing going if our plan works the way we hope. And it will because I’m accepting nothing but positivity these days!

Moral of my post today is that if you have persistence and you stay the course, good things do happen. Life is about networking. It’s about building a team that all works together to make things happen. Whether it’s in your work life or personal, having strong relationships is what matters. Each person in your life contributes to the total sum, whatever you want it to be. So surround yourself with positive, hardworking, let’s do this! type of people. It worked for me for my house, it’s working for my career, and it is most definelty working in my personal life as I show cancer who is boss! So thanks to all of you for being a part of this chapter in my life, and hopefully many more chapters to come!

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow ;)

Yesterday was the big hair cutting day at Amy of Denmark. First I was surprised by my mom, Heather and James. James came in the door with balloons for me saying SURPRISE! What a sweet sight. When we got to Amy’s I was pretty nervous. I know, it’s just hair, but its something about letting it go of it that gets me. I think it’s like cancer trying to take away your femininity. Which brings me to the reason we all went back to the wig shop in the first place. I was not letting cancer dictate when I was going to loose my hair. I was telling cancer whose the boss here. ME!

The girls brought wine and champagne to take the edge off and it was time to begin. Once Tina started cutting I was actually ok. I mean I’ve had short hair before so its not that crazy. Just different. So once all the pieces were cut, Tina brought over a wig to show me how they would fit and feel. I thought she was placing in one of my wigs since I knew they needed to be adjusted. But to my surprise it was the real hair wig I had tried on during our first trip that I fell in love with! At the exact same time my lovely friend Sarah Nees handed me an envelope. In it was a card that stated “it’s not the size of the girl in the fight, but the size of the fight in the girl……and the size of the group of people who love her. Your dream wig is yours, from all of us!” OMG are you serious??!! My heart just exploded as the tears overflowed. I mean, this wig cost $$$$$$ And all these people, some of whom I’ve never met and don’t even know, did this for me. There are no words to express how incredibly loved I felt at that moment. Not because of the wig or the money that was collected. But to know that I matter to all of theses people. That they all came together out of love for me and a strong dislike for this disease just is amazing. I’m still crying while typing this post!

I know that hair doesn’t make you beautiful. Your soul, your heart, that’s what matters. I hope that when I loose my hair I can walk with confidence and rock the all natural look. But to know that I have this amazing wig to boost my self esteem on a bad day means a great deal. For everyone that had a hand in this THANK YOU! You truly made this girls day! Oh and here is the ” new do”. I’m thinking maybe Tinkerbell for Halloween? Suggestions? ūüėČ


Exhaustion, nausea, and other lovely side effects

I’ve been going back and forth as to what to write on here over the last few days. But each time I have gone on the computer I’ve come up blank. Chemo brain really does exist! I walk into a room and go, What was I doing?¬† Only to remember I needed something out of the kitchen not the bedroom or the bedroom not the bathroom.¬† It’s like someone has control over the puppet strings!¬† I’ve been handling the nausea pretty well. The meds they give me to take “as needed” seem to do the job. But they cause some wicked heartburn! And as if I didn’t eat enough already, I’m constantly hungry due to the steroids. Which beats the alternative of being sick. I figure oh well if I gain weight over the next few months. It’s a small price to pay to be here and semi healthy ūüėČ Plus I have my lovely Kim at Crofton Bootcamp¬†ready to get me back into shape when all my treatment is over! I’ll never be happier to get my assed kicked! lol

Exhaustion is the big kicker for me. I walk around feeling like I am in a constant fog and time seems to move really slow. Maybe that’s because all the super chaos is over and now I only have appointments every two weeks. Glad to have the job I do and that they are so understanding. I figure if I can make it to work at least for a couple of hours everyday I’m doing alright.

The emotional side of everything has finally caught up to me too. I wake up and I cry, I get in the car to drive to work and I cry, I think about how screwed up it is to be almost 32 and instead of planning your birthday your discussing how you want to go about cutting off your hair. Some days I wake up and I just want to scream WHY GOD WHY ME!!??? Enough is enough!! I’m tired and I hurt and I don’t deserve this and why can’t I just have a normal life!!!??? But the answers never come so I sit in silence trying to figure out how to move forward. How do you get dealt such a shitty hand over and over again and get up and face the world?? You just do. Why? Because what other choice do you have. Fight. That’s what the little voice in my head says. Sometimes I argue back because I don’t want to fight. I want to wake up and it all to be over. No more treatments no more being sick. Just normal everyday life.

And this is just 5 days after treatment #1. Boy do I have my work cut out for me. I should probably throw in my disclaimer now.

WARNING: Bipolar chemo lady on the loose. Not responsible for any crazy outbursts over the next 16 weeks!!! lol

Day 1 Chemo

Labs, Oncologist, Chemo. That’s the order of appointments on treatment day. That’s all I really knew walking in today. Was anxious and a bit freaked out knowing I was about to be administered a bunch of meds I’ve never taken before. It’s a bit unsettling when you have no idea how it is going to effect you. All you have to go off is the laundry list of side effects to stare at wondering which 2 or 10 you might experience. So the build up can send you for a loop.

Ativan was the first premed they gave in my IV. That took the edge off! Then there were 3 different anti-nausea meds that took about 15-20 minutes each. All of this was pretty easy. Then came the old Red Devil.

Two big syringes full of the lovely Adriamycin. The nurse has to push the medicine into my IV over 15 minutes along with a bag of IV fluid. They also periodically pull back a bit to make sure there is blood so they know the IV is in the vein because if not, that could cause serious problems.

After the Red Devil is complete, here comes a bag of cytoxin. This is the final drug of the day and takes an hour. I enjoyed some words with friends, caught up on text messages and emails and then got ready to go home. All in all, the actual treatment day isn’t too bad.

Got home at 4 and relaxed on the couch. Which is where I have been since. Ate a couple small snacks and I have managed to drink 64 oz of water today! Go me! About 2 hours ago I started to get a little nauseated so I took 1 compazine pill and I feel much better. Time for me to eat again and then get some shut-eye.

I would like to thank everyone for all of the messages, emails, calls, cards, posts, of love, support, prayers and positive energy that I received throughout the day! You all carried me through and I am so grateful for each and every one of you! 1 down 7 to go! Xoxoxo

The Power Of A Childs Love

Last night Chris and I went to my parents house as my sister-in-law Heather and our nephew James had just come up from North Carolina. I really wanted to see them in case I don’t feel well over the next few days. Shortly after arriving and getting lots of hugs and listening to all his funny sayings and stories, James decided it was time for my birthday present. We were actually washing our hands because I had just explained to him how important it is to get rid of the germs and how it helps keep Aunt Ber from getting sick and him too.

So while washing our hands I told him to sing happy birthday twice and that’s how long it takes to make the germs go away. He said it’s not my birthday and then said something else really fast which I didn’t understand and ran out of the bathroom. When I came back to the kitchen he was grinning from ear to ear and had a present for me all wrapped up. “But it isn’t my birthday yet” I said. James said open it. So I did. Watching the excitement on his face was priceless. I unwrapped the present to find James’ original daddy doll. He recently got a new larger one and thought “I will give this to aunt Ber and it will make her happy and she will give me a hug” My God I love this little boy.

For those that don’t know what a daddy doll is let me tell you. When Justin was deployed to Iraq and James was just an infant heather had this stuffed doll made with Justin’s full picture on it. He carries it with him everywhere. So while Justin has been in Afghanistan Heather had a new one made for him. So now I have my little brother with me to make me happy and give me strength. The power of a child’s love is amazing. One day I’ll explain to him just how incredible is moment was for me. I have the best Godson/nephew ever.

I’m sure the nurses will love when I walk in for chemo with my turtle, my dog, and my brother doll! Speaking of which, I gotta go eat! Hospital bound in 30 minutes!

Genetic Test Results

Just received a phone call from the Genetic Counselor. My blood test results came back and I tested negative for the BRCA1¬†& BRCA2¬†gene mutation! It’s great news to know that it doesn’t appear to be hereditary. They did tell me to keep in contact with my doctors in the future to see if any new genetic tests become available. There is always a possibility that it could be something they haven’t discovered or are able to test for yet. So the down side of being BRCA1¬†& BRCA2 negative is that there are still no answers as to why I developed breast cancer. It could very well be they will never know. It could also be environmental. Which is what I suspected in the beginning mostly because I don’t really have a family history that would indicate cancer. Maybe it’s time for a serious look at what exactly I am eating. It sure can’t hurt to eat healthier!

Support Sisters

My Support Sisters, are my go to girls. They have been with me in full support from the word Cancer, making this chapter in my life a bit more bearable. Each of them is special to me for what they bring to our friendship. Some of them I have known my whole life, others more recently but each of them is amazing. They got together to make sure wig shopping wasn’t overwhelming for me and also decided that going out with all of us sporting wigs would be a riot. With my wig now purchased it was time to hit the town. We had dinner at Joss on Main street in Annapolis where we were probably an interesting site to see. I recall someone asking what the big occasion was and one of the girls responded, Our girl was diagnosed with breast cancer so we are celebrating her fight.¬† I know that one must have thrown him for a loop.¬† Who in their right mind celebrate’s breast cancer???¬† Oh these crazies do!!! lol

Some of the girls had some wild hair colors and a few others were just outrageous styles. It was nothing short of fun to be able to laugh with these lovely ladies and watch as new friendships were made between some girls who had just met for the first time. I realized in that moment at dinner how incredible it is to be me! I know I said it before in a previous post but I’ll say it again. THANK YOU CANCER!!!! Thank you for coming into my life. I know that sounds crazy but it is the truth. I know these friendships I have are important but without cancer, I most likely would have continued through life not realizing just how great friendships are. It’s silly really. You nurture the relationship with your significant other, but we always expect our friends to always be there. And for the most part they will be. But if we make those extra efforts to see our friends a little more or let those who are important to us know just how important they are, you could really watch a friendship bloom on so many other levels. Even after the loss of my son, I thought I got it. I realized just how precious life was and knew then that I needed to try harder to see the people I love more often. Somehow you slowly get back into your routine and before you know it, you haven’t changed at all. I watched this documentary on Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens and in it he was talking about his life during¬†the time when he was in jail¬†accused of murder¬†and how it changed his life. He had money, fame, fortune but he was missing something. The night that he was arrested and laying there in a cell he said he heard God say to him, “Can You Hear Me Now?” And that’s when he knew he had to take these things he had been blessed with and give back and help others. I feel like someone has been trying to show me the things that truly matter but I just haven’t been really listening. Well, I hear you know, I promise! So many things in life are trivial and they are not what truly matter. But friends and family, THAT’S what matters. At the end of the day, those are the people who will love you no matter what. And I am blessed with amazing girlfriends, brothers from other mothers, and Family. Thank you a thousand times to my “Support Sisters” for a lovely evening out on the town! For the girls that couldn’t be there, I know you where in spirit!

The Red Devil

Yesterday was our Chemotherapy Teaching Day at the infusion center. I learned a lot about what my treatment will consist of. It’s AC followed by T. First 4 rounds of chemo are AC with Nuelasta. The A is for Adriamycin (or Doxorubicin hyrdochloride) more commonly known as “The Red Devil” because it is a red liquid that comes in a tube and is super toxic.¬† Put it this way, if it drips on you or out of your IV,which I surely hope the nurse gets correctly in my vein, it can scare the hell out of your skin.¬† Oooo please sign me up!¬† It belongs to the general group of chemotherapy drugs known as anthracycline antibiotics. This chemo drug stops the growth of cancer cells causing the cells to die. Cancer cells grow quickly, so do the cells for hair and nail growth as well, hense the side effect of hair loss. Common side effects are decreased white blood cell and platelet count, loss of appetite, hair loss, nausea, and vomiting. Sounds fun right?

Then there is C which is for Cytoxan or Cyclophosphamide which belongs to a general group of chemo drugs known as alkylating agents. It has the same effect on cancer cells as Adriamycin. The side effects are decreased white blood cells, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, sores in mouth, diarrhea, stopping of menstrual periods in women, and tiredness.

Now while I am getting these drugs I also get pre-meds that consist of decadron (dexamethasone) a steriod used to combat nausea (and make me gain 10 lbs, Kim Allafi-I will be in Crofton Bootcamp when this is over!), Ativan for any anxiety if needed, and some other drug also for nausea that is slipping my mind right now. After I get these two drugs on Chemo day, I go back the next morning for a shot of Neulasta. This shot helps to boost my bone marrow to make more white blood cells to aid my immune system. I only have to get this shot after the AC regimen portion of chemo (first 4 cycles).

The last 4 cycles of chemo consist of T for Taxol. Taxol is in the general group of chemo drugs known as taxanes. It is a mitotic inhibitor as it stops cell division resulting in cell death. Common side effects are the same as above also numbness and tingling in hands and or feet and muscle and bone aches for 3 days after treatment. Good news is I won’t endure the nausea with this part of treatment so they tell me. The nurse I was with today is a breast cancer survivor and endured the same treatment as me only hers was for a longer duration. So I’m feeling confident taking her word for it. Chemo starts next Friday the 12th. I know I will loose my hair so I’ve made a plan to go back to Amy’s of Denmark and have my hair cut before that happens. The nurse says it will most likely begin at the start of my second treatment. I figured I would dictate when I am going to loose my hair and not cancer. I don’t particularly like being told what to do. Take that cancer!

Chemo sure sounds scary. But aren’t the possible side effects of any drugs always scary? I’m trying to enter this phase of my journey as positive as possible. I know staying that way will be hard, but it’s mandatory for me to get through this with a smile. (please remind me I said this when that smile starts to fade)For now til chemo day I am just going to try and enjoy my time as much as possible. Feels strange not having any doctors appointments to go to for the next 10 days.

Wigging Out!

I have to say I am truly blessed with an amazing family and friends. My friends got together and thought it would be fun to go do some wig shopping together. I welcomed the idea as I see it as a great way to bond with my friends and be a little silly in an otherwise serious situation. Cancer. Always trying to take the fun out of everything. Well I’ve decided NO WAY am I letting it take my sense of humor.

Our trip to Amy of Denmark in Wheaton, MD was nothing short of a blast! The girls made it memorable and outrageous, trying on wigs themselves. What a welcomed change to just let go and enjoy myself. The staff of Amy’s was just outstanding. They made us all feel right at home. They jumped right in and started bringing me different wigs while the girls looked around for some of their own to try on. They even took pictures of all of us together. I know when I have some down days I’ll look at those pictures and smile. Cancer really does suck. But there are little moments like these that occur in this journey when I want to say “Thanks Cancer”. Thank you for bringing me closer to these ladies in my life. Thanks for reminding me of what’s really important. I might not be looking forward to this journey but I’m here and it must take place. What I am looking forward to is the relationships that will be forged as a result of this horrible disease. Cancer, you might be able to take my hair but you can not take my faith and you can not take all the love and support that surrounds me. In fact, the only thing that you can be sure of is that you ARE responsible for making those aspects of my life better. So thanks!

How’s that for positivity!

Wigging Out at Amy's

Wigging Out at Amy’s of Denmark