Sunday, August 12, 2012


I've been unable to work much since my diagnosis with Invasive ductal carcinoma. Life has been consumed with Dr visits, testing, research, surgery, and complications. I've undergone a bilateral mastectomy July 12. I was hospitalized for 6 days on July 30 with a staph infection, was on IV antibiotics, and had the left side cleaned out in the OR and replacement tissue expander surgery a little over week ago. I remain on a heavy hitting antibiotic in which I must avoid certain foods or I can face death! This is a very difficult challenge since my diet is an already a restricted organic, whole foods, vegan diet. Physical therapy starts next week, and I also visit with 3 Dr's concerning diet and supplements. Add weekly therapy visits to help with my mental health. Cancer treatment is a full time job, but so is having a husband, a 7 month old, a 4 year old, 2 dogs, and a hamster. Thank God we have people in our lives to help us out.

People have come out of the woodwork to help us. One of them is Lori who makes these super cool necklaces, something for everyone. Some with profanity, some without. The proceeds go to us, so please buy one. We've already received donations from this, and it helps ease my mind when I do something like go grocery shopping. Thanks Lori and everyone who has purchased these cool pieces of jewelry so much.

If you like hair bows and bands for your little ones, please check out the "breast cancer awareness" bows from The profits from the "breast cancer awareness ribbons" also go towards us. Here are some pics.

A friend of ours who passed away recently, Linda Vogel, also was the first one to start a fundraiser for us. She's helped raise over $1000 for us. The necklaces are also beautiful, and you can buy them in sterling and real silver at Human Tribe The picture above is the real silver one. Linda was a beautiful person with huge heart who helped me while she was extremely ill. Her selflessness lives on.

For those of you who want to help with monetary donations, we are fundraising on a couple of sites. My husband began one at Give Forward, and paypal donations are always accepted via my website, Thanks everyone for helping us out. It's certainly taken a lot of stress away from me and helped me to focus on getting better rather then worrying about how we're going to pay the bills. Blessings to all.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I love, I love, I love... I love my family.

You can take the girl from Massachusetts, but you can't take the Massachusetts out of the girl. The pace of life for most people up there is extremely fast. Too fast. I've tried all of my life to relax, but I can hardly grasp the meaning of the word. I've traveled around a bit, but its mostly been business trips and not to relax. These days it's tough to catch my breath. I just want to get that good breath, but sometimes it takes awhile before I can get that satisfying, deep breath.

Last night I was worried that I wasn't going to have coverage for the day when my husband and mother and law were going to be at work. I freaked out a little bit, but all I had to do was make some phone calls, texts, and posts. Viola the help was arranged within a couple of hours. I stressed about it, but it's ok now in hindsight. That's the way I feel about this cancer. I don't want to worry that much, and I don't that much consciously anymore. However it manifests itself in anxiety attacks. I suppose that's what they are. Even after we took these pictures and I got to see them, I got that feeling and inability to breath.

Too often I hold on to things from the past. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I want to let go. Once with another woman named Tegan on New Years Eve, we made worry dolls from newspaper. Then we lit them on fire. When I put mine in the fireplace, there was a shrieking sound. I felt as if that was a sign that I had too many worries. They weren't all released then.

I believe in the mind/body connection. If the mind isn't well, then body will manifest disease. Of course diet, exercise, environment, and genes have an effect on well being too. There you have it. I must let go of the past and not worry about the future. It's so hard to teach old dogs new tricks. I can do this strict diet, but I still have a difficult time letting go. Perhaps I must do something symbolic again to move on.

These pictures make me so happy because my kids are what make me tick these days. Although the four year old is somewhat difficult when he's over tired or hungry. So I just try and keep him well rested and fed. My son turned 4 years old yesterday, and I was happy to tell him the day before that was his last day he would ever be 3. His birthday, 8/8/8 was one of the best days of my life; and I tell him that from time to time. The first time I told him, the look on his face was priceless. It was pure happiness. It was similar to his lit up face when I brought him his birthday whoopie pie last night with 5 candles in it. In case you don't know one of the very few old school superstitions I use is to put an extra candle in the cake for good luck. His smile beamed and was from ear to ear. Joslyn's birthday was another one of the best days of my life so far. I'll be happy to tell her that when she gets older and can understand it.

As I lay my eyes upon these pictures today, happiness overtook me. I love those kids. I feel beautiful. I haven't felt beautiful for quite some time now. Being pregnant and breast feeding life kind of becomes all about the kids. At least that is how I've known it. I eat, breath, cook, clean, and work to support my family. I lost myself in it. Now I'm taking care of myself. I wanted time for myself , and this is how it manifested itself. I urge you to always take care of number one first. Don't suppress it because if you want it that badly, then it will happen whether you like how it becomes reality or not.

Nothing is forever. In the past two months since the diagnosis, I've lost all the baby weight from both babies. I feel beautiful again. I don't even need anyone to tell me that, however it does feel good to hear it. Chemotherapy will most likely make my hair fall out (and hopefully in all of the wanted areas and NOT my head), but it won't make me lose my desire to live, and I will rock that bald head and wig when I feel like it. Sometimes I might be too weak so maybe you can help me out. I will feel beautiful again or even during. The hair will grow back. Life will go on.

I got a letter in the mail today from a 15 year survivor of breast cancer I first spoke with the night before my surgery. She was diagnosed at age 34. Her kids were about the same age or maybe I'm just getting confused with another woman because I'm connecting with many survivor's that I have so much in common with. Even things like dates are the same. It's uncanny. What struck a chord the most in her letter is "after you move through these initial stages you will arrive at a 'new normal'. The better you become at accepting the new normal, the more successful you will be as you cope. Right now, life and all its demands on you are felt very acutely. As you move out in your survivorship, you shall find yourself being returned to the mortal world little by little, until one day this will be just a distant memory."

Photos courtesy of John Ziomek/Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


As most of you know, I've been in the hospitalized all week. After days of agony at home, I went to the plastic surgeon's office with an infection Monday and was immediately admitted to Jefferson. They gave me IV antibiotics, aspirated and tested the fluid in that they collected from the area. It was a small colony of staph. I really thought that I 'd be done after that, but foreign objects in your body don't respond to antibiotics. I was determined to get it removed completely and be flat chested, but my surgeon wanted to make a decision based on what he saw when he went in there. On Thursday in the operating room they removed the tissue expander, washed out the area, and put another one in.

Boom! Right back to step one on the one side. The pain is back, the drain, the bleeding, the restrictions. I've been stuck so many times, and pumped with strong antibiotics that my veins have given out. They pushed the Iv's out, and then I'd have the IV flushed. Saline would flow into my arm, and it hurt like hell. This happened four times. I've been poked multiple times a day for blood tests. Every night at 12:30pm they check my blood to see if y blood type has changed. It's the law. What a dumb law. My blood type has always been O negative. It will never change because even if I had a blood transfusion, it can only be O negative.

I've run the gamut of emotions. I can only imagine that it's normal to feel this way going through this, but I'm certain some people wished I was acting stronger. Normally I'm not one to cry or blubbering cry or wailing, tearing, sobbing cry. I'm never been too needy. I've always been independent. Maybe they're scared too. They want the old Tegan back. The strong, confident, artistic, hard working, independent, feminist, Tegan back.

I loved being alone throughout my life. I've traveled in and out of the country alone, went to movies and dinners by myself. Had long road trips alone. Stayed in hotels by myself. I had fun doing all of thee things completely alone. I lived alone. Yet I never felt alone nor I cared. At least that I remembered. I was empowered. I was wild and crazy and lived life without any fear.

Things are different now. For once in my life I'm scared. Now I wish someone could hold my hand or be close to me throughout the entire process. I'm still here, but I need to be coddled and nurtured and hugged. That's why my kids are great. My son is so cuddly, and so is my daughter even though cuddling to her is pulling out my hair or grabbing my nose. When she sees me, she shakes her limbs, grunts, smiles, and flaps her arms. Now that's raw emotion. I could be asking too much fro the people around me. Maybe I should be stronger. Today I woke up feeling retty good because I get to go home. Possibly to a destroyed version of my house, but i get to go home.

Back to business. I'll have to be on an aggressive antibiotic for a month, which is very strong and scary. I have to avoid many foods containing tyramine and even antidepressants, which is scary because I was going to go on one because of my occaisional fragile mental state. Then once I get cleared by infectious disease Dr's, I have to go on another antibiotic for months down the road.

This has already effected the chemo start date of August 6, and will push it out another month. It's almost as if we're at step 1 again. Well actually step 3, because step 1 was diagnosis. Step 2 was staging via testing and sentinel node biopsy. Step 3 was the bilateral mastectomy. Step 4 would be chemo. I wish it were more black and white like that, and maybe once I can look back on all of this, the steps will be more distinguishable. Such is life though.

Everyone says take things "One Day at a Time". Well sometimes I have to break that up into hours or minutes. And sometimes it breaks it down to the seconds. Right now I'm counting downs the minutes until I can go home.