Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Make Every Day Count!"

"Make Every Day Count!"

Life Lesson Via Christina Applegate:

Actor Christina Applegate, who underwent a double mastectomy in 2008 at the age of 36 says her health scare has shifted her priorities completely. "[There's] this need and this desire to make every single day count," she says. "I used to say... 'Don't sweat the small stuff -- not even the big stuff.' At the end of the day, none of it matters but your own joy, your own spiritual journey that you go on, God, your loved ones, your friends, your animals. These are the things you've got to cherish and love and embrace."

Days after her diagnosis, Christina says she reached out to family and friends, including Melissa Etheridge, a Grammy winner and breast cancer survivor. Melissa shared the lessons she learned during the fight for her own life. "The first thing she said to me is: 'Christina, this is a blessing that's happened to you in your life. Right now, you get to start over, and right now you get to change everything -- the way that you deal with things in life, the way that you react to things. Fear can hurt you. Stress can hurt you. This is the time that you have this opportunity to change the way you eat... everything you do,'" Christina says.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Making My Mess My Message


I saw Dr. David Euhus last week and got my dingaling drain removed! That thing didn't hurt - but it sure was pain in the you-know-what! It was a necessary evil as I was healing but I will never say I miss my "Dingaling"!

Dr. Euhus explained my pathology report. I am Grade 3 (because of the mammoth 8 cm size of my mass) and Stage 2b. He has set me up with radiologist, Dr. Ann Spangler on September 8. I have an appointment with oncologist, Dr. Barbara Haley, on September 13. Dr. Haley also set me up with an appointment on September 13 with Dr. Siobhan Kehoe, gynocologist, since I haven't had a pap smear since I got on Medicaid and my family doctor refused to accept Medicare. He wrote me a "Dear John" letter! No family doctor in Arlington, Texas, would accept Medicare. Yes - I called them all! I felt fortunate to get in with an internist who would accept Medicaire and my secondary insurance, Aetna TRS-Care. But.....internists don't do pap smears, breast exams, or windows! Luckily, Dr. Sharon (that's me) was persistent and aggressive to discover and convice the internist and Healthstone Imaging (who said my mammogram was "normal") to realize I, in fact, had a massive breast tumor that needed immediate medical attention.

So, I'm free for about a week to not have to go to Dallas to see a doctor on my UTSW team. Anyone want to do lunch? Movies? Just call! Girls just wanna' have fun!!!


Robin Roberts, Good Morning America anchor was upfront with her cancer diagnosis and treatment. She wanted to share what she had learned with other BC patients, using a saying her mother had always told her - "Make your mess your message." That's one purpose of my blog - to share the message of the BC journey to instill awareness and understanding to those who might be affected by it in one way or another - whether themselves, their friends, their wives, their mothers, their sisters, their daughters, their aunts, their neices, their grandmothers, etc. Robin goes on to say, "I will not play the 'cancer card.' I will not use cancer as an excuse for not achieving the goals I have set for myself. Cancer forced me out of my comfort zone. But as I stated previously, there is no comfort zone. Life comes at us in ways we can't predict or control. I know that now more than ever. I am focusing on the solution, not the problem. I don't dwell on the fact that I have cancer. I spend my energy and resources on conquering this disease."  Me, too, Robin, me, too!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pathology Report

I was surprised to get a phone call just now from Dr. Euhus, my breast surgeon. He asked if anyone had called me last week with the results of my pathology report, which they had not. Anyway, he said the tumor was 8 cm and that he would classify the 3 lymph nodes as "negative" - which is a good thing. Meaning they don't have to go in and take anymore lymph nodes. Relief!! He said that 2 of the lymph nodes had "isolated cells" in them, but he would still consider them "negative".

He said he would see me Friday to check out my healing from the surgery and removed the drain.

He asked when I see Dr. Haley, the oncologist. I told him it was September 13 and he said that should be ample time for the surgery to heal and to begin chemotherapy. He said she may want to conduct additional tests before she begins treatment - MRI, etc. I'm just hoping that I'm not feeling any chemotherapy sickness on Sept. 30 & Oct. 1 so I can enjoy my 50th Grand Prairie High School Reunion! Go Gophers!

Next Doctor Appointment

I have my first post-op appointment with Dr. Euhus this Friday, August 26, at 1:15 PM at UTSW. He sees you after 2 weeks the nurse said. I hope he had a good time hiking in Wyoming last week - I'm sure a very deserved vacation! He will take out my annoying drain I nicknamed "Dingaling" - thank you very much! He will also give me the results of the pathology report. Dun, dun, dun, dun...DUN! He told my daughter he thought the lymph nodes looked okay, but couldn't say for sure until he gets the actual pathology report. Just keep praying the results are good!

I am feeling great and getting BORED! However, Pinterest.com is my new plaything and addiction. I have boards for recipes, travel, crafts, books, gardening, etc. Love that site! If you haven't tried it, you MUST!

I ordered an iPod nano to fill with all my favorite music. Woohoo! I'll be rockin' during my chemotherapy visits! Music is so good for the soul!!!

Thanks for all the sweet cards, prayers, emails, phone calls, flowers, food, and love that are getting me through this!

Friday, August 19, 2011

People Lovin' Me Through It!

Thanks, Martina McBride! Thanks to all my friends and family for lovin' me through it! My mission in life will be to love others through it.

Martina McBride - I'm Gonna Love You Through It

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I came home from daughter Monica's house today.  It is great to have all the creature comforts of my own home.  Lizzie is also very happy to be home!  Life is good!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

5 Days Post Surgery & Doing GREAT!

I haven't been able to blog because my laptop is home and Monica has been using hers to teach her online classes.  So I'm playing catch up this afternoon.

I have had 2 great nights and days - hooray!  I am over the nausea and feeling no pain!  Shoulders and back ache a little from the sleep position I have to assume so I bought a new heating pad this afternoon.  That should do the trick along with ibuprofen.

Just went to hair salon & got hair chopped off to a pixie cut!  Less hair to mess with now & less hair to fall out next month.  Monica said it looks like Jamie Leigh Curtis' hairdo - you know, the Activia commercial lady - ha!  Then we went school supply shopping for Ella - I needed to get the walking execise in.  We went to Office Max and Wal-Mart and still couldn't find everything on her list!  Where in the world do you find white construction paper and a 13" pencil box? 

I cooked great northern beans today for our family dinner and am making cornbread - plus sliced tomatoes and sliced purple onion.  I feel so good and cooking is good off the couch exercise.  : )

I plan to go home tomorrow.  I'm ready for the comforts of my bed and recliner!  It has ben great staying with Monica and Brion and the girls, but I'm ready to have access to all my things! And you can take just so much Disney channel! We are just unsure as to when I can drive. I don't know if I have to wait until the drain comes out or what.  I guess I'll call the nurse tomorrow and ask.  We will go by the grocery store on the way home so I can stock up on healthy food items and not need to get out.

I am anxious to get with friends and make all I can out of the next month before I start with the oncologist.  What is it they say, "Make hay while the sun shines!"  Well, alright!

Lizzie has not left my side since I got home, by the way!  She is such a sweet doggie!

Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes!  Just keep praying that the pathology report comes back okay.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

1st Post Surgery Post

Well, it's been a rough few past days.  I'll catch the blogger world up by copying and pasting emails my daughters sent out to an email list of friends right after my surgery:

First Update:
Mom will be going back in a few minutes.  She is prepped and ready!  We are praying that her lymph nodes won't have any cancer in them so she won't have to have them removed. Her recovery will take longer if they have to take those out.   
She is meeting with the anesthesiologist right now. 
Thanks, Monica
Second Update:
Hi everyone,
Mom is out of surgery.  She will be in recovery for an hour before I can see her.  It took about three hours.  The mastectomy went well.  They removed three lymph nodes and so far they don't look like cancer.  Dr. doesn't trust that because lobular cancer is tricky.  He wants to wait until they come back from the lab so we will know for sure.  Mom's port was put in and it is working fine. :) I can't tell you how she looks or feels yet because I won't see her until about 3:30 PM. I will let you know then.
I know mom appreciates all of your prayers, hugs, and support!!!  Y'all are great friends.
Love, Monica
Third Update:
Mom is staying another night. She is off narcotics and is taking motrin. The doctors are hoping that will make her stop throwing up. She is worn out and can't take calls, emails, or texts. She will connect with you guys and be back on her blog next week. She loves you and can feel your virtual hugs. Keep them coming!! Sis number two is taking over with the shift tonight and sis number three is taking her home tomorrow. Good thing she had three daughters!!! ;)
I will get sis number three Michele to give you an update tomorrow. 
Fourth Update:

Hi everyone,
 I'm on my laptop now and I am so thankful because it is so easier to type on this than my iPhone. I was looking at my sent messages, and I don't know if you all got all of my updates.  I will blame my iPhone and fat fingers for messing that up. :)
 She made it to the room and was doing well. She was in good spirits and had everyone laughing. Then it was time to eat...
 Mom got very sick and started throwing up.  She was unable to eat after that.  She is suffering from insomnia and they gave her a shot of something to help her sleep.  It had the opposite effect on her.  She only slept from 4:00-5:45 AM. 
 She forgot to tell the doctors she takes Nexium for reflux and she hasn't had any for a few weeks.  The reflux took control and made her even more sick.
 Her back hurt too! I felt so bad for her. Her chest didn't hurt at all...it was everything else.
 Well, this morning the doctor came to visit and wants her to still go home after lunch.  He ordered her some Nexium and wants her to eat breakfast in a chair.  He wants her to walk around.  She is just so dizzy she is having trouble with all of that.  She can't wait until the morphine drip is finished because she wants the IV out.
She just got sick again so we are holding off on breakfast.  I will let you know how she's doing later and when she's going home.
Thanks, Monica
Fifth Update:
Mom is staying another night. She is off narcotics and is taking motrin. The doctors are hoping that will make her stop throwing up. She is worn out and can't take calls, emails, or texts. She will connect with you guys and be back on her blog next week. She loves you and can feel your virtual hugs. Keep them coming!! Sis number two is taking over with the shift tonight and sis number three is taking her home tomorrow. Good thing she had three daughters!!! ;)
I will get sis number three Michele to give you an update tomorrow. 

Sixth Update:

What a difference a day makes! Mom is off all narcotics and is feeling great! She looks great, too! She slept well last night...finally! I know she's back to herself because she just ordered a cheese pizza for lunch and was talking about Casey Anthony earlier. :-)
We are waiting for the doctor to come in and discharge her. She's getting anxious and is ready to go home!
Thank you for all the prayers and well wishes! They are working! God is great!

TODAY - August 15, 2011:
I made it home to daughter Monica's house yesterday and got all set up in her guest bedroom.  All went well until night time!  My chest felt like it had been hit by a truck and my back and neck were aching from how I was having to position myself in bed.  I know....whine, whine, whine!!!  BUT - it has been a good day!  No pain meds except Motrin, had a good nap, went to my house to collect a few forgotten items, and watched a lot of Disney with the girls!  : )

This has not been a piece of cake - but this too, shall pass!

Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes!  I'm looking forward to going home and driving and..............

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2 mOrE DaYs!

A little less than two days left until surgery.  This has been like getting ready for a trip, packing to move, and getting ready for company all rolled into one!  I haven't figured out if it wears you out or gets your mind off of it - probably both!

Yesterday I had a wonderful lunch with girlfriends I've been friends with most of my life - some of us that went on to college together and pledged the same sorority.  It was so good to reminisce and laugh.  Love you girls!!!!!

Last night I was surprised with flowers again by a very sweet guy who took me out to dinner.  I've got to quit eating like this!

This day started with me taking Lizzie, my 7 year old maltese to the groomers.  The groomer gave her "Pretty in Pink" bows!  She'll be going with me to my daughter's house after the mastectomy during my initial recouperation.

After I got Lizzie groomed I went to the library and checked out 2 books to read while lying around after the mastectomy - "The Secret Life of Bees" and "Breast Cancer - The Complete Guide".  Wonder which one will be better reading?  ; )

Next I went to get a shellac manicure and a shellac pedicure in Pink Pop color!  This shellac stuff is supposed to last 2-4 weeks, so this way I won't be painting my fingernails in the car on the way to the hospital or in the recovery room.  I can tell you every red light in Arlington that is long enough for me to paint one entire hand of nails!

I thought the day at Serenity Spa would be relaxing and take my mind off the troubles of the world.  NOT!  Let me tell you, the poor little nail tech needed me MUCH more than I needed him.  He kept sighing and turning the little fan on himself.  He looked at me and said, "Do you have trouble sleeping?"  I thought he must have been reading my mind.  "A little as of lately", I anxiously replied.  He says, "I haven't slept in five days!"  He also said that he has Type 2 Diabetes and that he takes meds for that.  I asked him if maybe the meds had the side of effect of keeping him awake.  He said he was going to look that up online.  He also told me his doctor was very uncaring - didn't listen to him and stood away across the room from him whenever he went to see him.  I suggested maybe he find a better doctor and he said he  didn't have insurance.  He points to several areas on his head that are painful when he touches them!  Man, I'm really feeling blue about now!  THEN, he told me he was very depressed.  He asked me if I was ever depressed and if I took anything for it.  He is getting a little personal here.  I shared with him what I could about talking to his pharmacist and perhaps finding a more caring doctor (his doctor is also Vietnamese).  I hope I cheered him up a little.  He took my hand and closed his eyes like he was praying right before I left his chair.  I am worried about him.

Tonight?  Date night at TGI Fridays - woohoo!  Tomorrow?  Go to hospital for pre-admittance stuff, pack bag for hospital, pack bag for stay at daughter's home,  buy groceries to have on hand at daughter's of my favorite things, pack up dog with crate & go to spend night at daughter's house in anticipation of leaving at 5:00 AM Thursday morning to get the tests done before the surgery at 11:00 AM.

I'll probably do a blog update tomorrow to chronicle the pre-admittance procedures, then may turn my blog over to my daughters for the post surgery report.  We'll just see how it goes.....

Saturday, August 6, 2011


From "Streams in the Desert":

Sometimes God causes severe winds of trials to blow upon His children to develop their gifts. Just as a torch burns more brightly when waved back and forth, and just as a juniper plant smells sweetest when thrown into the flames, so our richest qualities often arise under the strong winds of suffering and adversity.  Bruised hearts often emit the fragrance that God loves to smell. - L.B. Cowman


Remember the old song,
"Just me and my shadow, strolling down the avenue.
Just me and my shadow, all alone and feeling blue."


THIS is how I feel when I wake up in the middle of the night and am wired!  I will go to My Chart tomorrow at the UTSWMC and finally report this - and they say the appropriate medical team caregiver will respond appropriately.  Just took a 2:30 AM Zanax, so I'll go back to bed in a few minutes.  Once I get asleep either I wake up needing to go to the bathroom or a weird, crazy nightmare wakes me up and leaves me shaking in my boots!

I'm not crying, I just have something in me eye...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dr. Haley, Aug. 5

I met for the first time today with my oncologist, Dr. Haley, at UTSWMC.  I really like her and have all the confidence in the world in her.  I will meet with her about 3 weeks after my mastectomy, Sept. 6 in fact, to discuss the types of chemo, radiation, & hormone therapies my pathology reports from the surgery indicate I need.  (Thanks, friend, Carolyn, for going along as support again!)

Smart phone notes taken my genius daughter Michele, and emailed to me by the time I got home:

Needs post op path reports before determining chemo treatment.

This type of cancer is conducive to someone who has been on hormone replacement therapy a long time.

Her tumor very estrogen & progestin strong. 21% (over 10% considered high). Her2 negative. Tumor has probably been there a long time.

Adjuvant therapy.  Adjuvant treatment is a cancer treatment (chemotherapy, or biological therapy) that is offered after a surgical procedure in order to improve the outcome of patients at high risk of relapse. After surgery, adjuvant treatment is given to target leftover disease that cannot be seen with the eye or in scans

Long term therapy because of the estrogen reducing agent.

Will see her about 3 weeks post op. Will go over path reports at that time.

Will anchor mom in with gynecologist here.

Suggested Mom get set up with mychart to communicate with nurses and doctors.

Let me end by saying I am super impressed with UTSW.  They all work in conjuction with one another and treat the patient with the utmost respect , kindness and efficiency.  So glad I'm there!  In fact, all my doctors will be there in the future so they can coordinate all aspects of my health from all medical fields.

"I've Got a Feeling!"

Oh, man, I hope Zale Lipshy Hospital is this much fun!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Be(ing) Strong!

Things are falling into place and I feel so fortunate to have my God, my family, and my friends giving me so much support and peace on this breast cancer journey - a trip I never wanted to take - but who does, right?

Ordered a new cute platinum swingy bob wig yesterday from Maggie's over by the Dallas Arboretum.  Thanks friend, Janet, for taking me over there!  Had fun with you at lunch, too, and "vase shopping" afterwards.  *wink*

I'm looking forward to seeing "Crazy Stupid Love" at the movies today!  I could so use a chick flick!  I'm also now reading "Water for Elephants".  "Secret Life of Bees" is next on my list.  I have a stack of books awaiting me - some I need to read first before their library due date!  I also have ordered the recommended books of choice on breast cancer from Amazon.com - some of them looking at the experience from a more comical side.  I'm learning not to read too many scary things online about BC.  You know they call a person that thinks they have every disease is called a hypochondriac, well, I've learned a person who over-googles their actual health issues is called a "googlechondriac" - ha!

I MUST share yesterday's "Streams in the Desert" devotional with you:

Be men of courage; be strong (1 Corinthians 16:130

Never pray for an easier life - pray to be a stronger person!  Never pray for tasks equal to your power - pray for power equal to your tasks.  Then doing your work will be no miracle - you will be the miracle. - Phillips Brooks

We must remember that Christ will not lead us to greatness through an easy or self-indulgent life.  An easy life does not lift us up but only takes us down.  Heaven is always above us, and we must continually be looking toward it.

Some people always avoid things that are costly, or things that require self-denial, self-restraint, and self-sacrifice.  Yet it is hard work and difficulties that ultimately lead us to greatness, for greatness is not found by walking the moss-covered path laid out for us through the meadow. It is found by being sent to carve out our own path with our own hands.

Be Strong!
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift,
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift.
Shun not the struggle; face it.
It's God's gift.

Be Strong!
Say not the days are evil - Who's to blame?
Or fold your hands, as in defeat - O shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely,
In God's name.

Be Strong!
It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long,
Faint not, fight on!
     Tomorrow comes the song.
- Maltbie D. Babcock

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Picture Says a Thousand Words!

How to lift a gal's spirits?  Three dozen roses - beautiful white, red, and yellow!
Thank you, to a very sweet man who said he wanted me to have roses in every room.  How thoughtful and endearing is that?  Made my day!  Made my week!  And the big hug wasn't bad, either!  : )
Thank you again, Dennis!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Surgery Date Set!

I have an appointment with Dr. Haley, my oncologist, at UTSWMC on this Friday at 1:00 PM to discuss radiation and chemotherapy. 

My surgery for the single mastectomy (!) is scheduled for Thursday, August 11, at 11:00 AM at Zale Lipshy in Dallas.  (I think that is good luck because I had a daughter born at 11:11 and we are both always looking at the clock and it is 11:11!  I have to arrive at the hospital at 6:00 AM to check in.  I will get my lympho injections at 7:00 AM with the blue dye to test out the old lymph glands.

I have to go to the same hospital on Wednesday at 1:30 PM (2nd floor) for my pre-surgery gesting. 

I cannot have ibuprofen or aspirin 5 days before the surgery...Tylenol is okay.

I will turn all my mountains into roads.  (Isiah 49:11)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dr. Shopping Done!

My daughter, Michele, and I loved the course of action Dr. Euhus at UTSWMC wants me to follow.  He is the man!  It is quite a big change from the first two opinions, also!  Here are Michele's notes copied & pasted from her Evo to my Evo:  My own words are in italiacs.  You won't believe the new course of treatment I am embarking upon! 

Dr. Euhus:

Does not recommend genetic testing. Less than 1% chance of it being inherited.

Only 6% chance of it going to other breast in 20 years.

Does not recommend bilateral masectomy. (Oh My Goodness!)

Conservative option would be to do unilateral masectomy. Reconstruction only after chemo & radiation ( because radiation would scar reconstruction begun too early). Would use belly flap for reconstruction.  (Tummy tuck here I come!)

Remove left breast. Sentinal node biopsy. If positive, then remove all lymph nodes. Put in port. These types of tumors don't respond well to chemo, but will do anyway. Then radiation. Wait 4-6 months and then discuss reconstruction.

"Her 2" bio marker is borderline. Waiting on fish test to come back. If comes back positive, then will want to do chemo first to shrink tumor. Unlikely it will come back positive, though.

Medical oncology appt this week before surgery.

Surgery could be scheduled this Thursday or next Tuesday.

Thanks, sweet daughter Michele for taking me to the doctor and for taking notes and being there for support.

Thanks good friend, Carolyn for meeting me there and helping decide on procedures and future team doctors - and for getting me into this facility in the first place!!!!!

Michele, Caitlyn, & I went to El Gabacho & celebrated.  I bought Caitlyn a cute top on sell at Groovy's and bought myself an antique looking wire basket with handles to carry around all the books I am reading!

Life is good!

Wouldn't You Just Know!

Those of you that know me, know I am a romantic at heart.  68 years young and looking for Mr. Right to be my loving companion in my "twilight years".  Well, heck, wouldn't you just know I just got the sweetest email from a cute guy my age from Match.com!  I am very picky and rarely ever respond to "winks" or even "emails" from gentlemen on that sight.  This one sounded good, but I had to tell him I am temporarily "off the market" with all this breast cancer stuff ahead of me.  And if ever I needed a spouse or serious boyfriend the time would have been now.  But, I have my friends, family, daughters, and God!  So all the romantic stuff can wait!

Today I see Dr. Euhus at UTSW.  I am very excited about his state of the art facility and breast cancer treatment reputation.  I will blog about this later this evening, or feel free to call me if I do not get around to doing this computing tonight.  Grandddaughter Caitlyn is going to spend the night with me and we'll probably go eat at El Gabacho and do a little girlie shopping.

I love all of you and I love my Heavenly Father.  (In times like these you miss your parents - who sat with me for hours after a serious car wreck and back surgery in 1985.  I awoke in the hospital after the care flight and all the MRIs and my parents were sitting at the foot of my bed.  My daddy was crying because he said I looked "dead".  I had on full make up because I had been on my way to a Mavericks game with friends when the wreck occured.  I had on a new expensive outfit and wouldn't let the nurse cut the skirt off of me.  I made her slip the stitches up the side seam - but she went up the wrong side without the zipper and button hole.  I said, "Go ahead and gut through the waist band because my mother is an excellent seamstress."  And she did fix that favorite outfit like new and I wore for a few years afterwards.  An 18 wheeler ran a stop sign.  It was bad.)