My new Norm…

That is what I have heard it called…my new norm. Meaning my life has changed drastically never to be the same again. I’m often asked how I feel. My usual response is..I feel good. For the most part I feel ok most days. I guess I have gotten used to feeling ‘my new norm.’ Which is tired, fatigued, and sometimes pain. I don’t have the energy that I used to have, I don’t have an appetite, I’m nausea’s everyday and have diarrhea daily, despite all the meds to help prevent it. I don’t have much pain. My back feels like it has a headache sometimes….just achy, guess it’s from all the tumors in the lungs . I try to remain positive and thank God for each day that I am able to wake up, breath, and go about my daily life. I still work full time. I do house chores and cook. I still throw parties and get together’s. Though now everything I do makes me tire easily. But I still do it. I try to live as normal as possible.

My life does consist of almost weekly doctor appts. Infusions, shots, scans, tests, Oncology, Cardiac, GYN, etc.. I live in a new world. The Cancer world. It is a world all it’s own that only people with cancer will understand. You are given an expiration date and you become very grateful for this sweet thing we call LIFE and the people in it. I get told all the time…. we are all going to die. Yes, that’s true. But it is very different when your actually told your going to die and your given a time frame. It changes things. All of a sudden that air you just breathed in seems sweeter, you just want to be around those you love all the time and not miss one single moment.

I try to live in the moment, cause for me…there really may not be a tomorrow. I know that can be said for all of us…but I’m at a little higher risk than most. lol

And of course…there are those that I run into who ask me if I have tried a dog dewormer because they know a friend of a friend of a friends friend who had cancer, took this $5 dewormer and was healed of their cancer. I’ve been asked if I have tried all kinds of alternative medicines..Marijuana, Frankincense, Apricot seeds (cyanide) which all of those I do, the apricot seeds not so much cause they make me vomit. When you have stage 4 and are terminal you figure…what have I got to lose? I don’t think I will try the dewormer though.

People mean well. And I have been lucky and blessed to have such good friends and family around me. I started going to a work out class last week. I used to work out and do Nia and Yoga before I was diagnosed. I’ve only recently been able to muster up enough energy to be able to return to Nia. Nia is a really fun and easy dance class and I have met some really nice people there. It provides the cardio and stretching that this ol body needs.

I do eat healthier, but of all things sugar is my weakness. And of course, that would be the worst thing you can eat when you have cancer, since cancer feeds on sugar. I’ve gotten a lot better and don’t eat as much sugar as I used to, but I still eat some on a daily basis.

I lost all my hair twice. Eyebrows and eyelashes too. This time my eyebrows and eyelashes are taking forever to grow back in and so is my hair. I’ve decided to just keep my hair short this time since if I have to do chemo again, I may lose it all over again. If I have to do chemo again it will be a more targeted chemo and won’t go to all of my cells. My doc says I may not lose my hair….but he has a patient who has done that treatment and she lost her hair again. :/ So I decided to just have fun with it while it’s short. I used to always have really long hair, down my back. I used to highlight it. I miss it. Now it’s short and black. People think I dye it because I don’t have but one or two grays. But it’s just good genes.

Really, despite my circumstances I feel that I have been blessed beyond measure.

Now the real fun begins!

Within weeks I had a double Mastectomy with reconstruction. I thought the worst was over. As I lay in the hospital bed coming out of anesthesia with family and friends all around me, my mom leans over with tears in her eyes and says…”Mija, (a term of endearment for Mexican daughters) I won’t be able to help take care of you as I have cancer too.” What????!!!! She picked THAT moment, when I’m coming out from being under to tell me this???? I was in shock! She went on…”I have uterine cancer and am having a total hysterectomy next week.” UGH! I couldn’t talk. All I could do was cry. Why was GOD doing this to us? My mom had surgery one week after I did. She had Stage 1 Uterine cancer. My sister who thank God is as healthy as an ox, went between me and our mom and helped take care of us as we recovered. Thank you my SISTA!!! I love you!!! A few weeks later as we were recovering and getting ready to start chemo together my mom gets a call from her oldest sister, my Aunt Maryanne, and was told that my aunt had stage 4 bladder cancer. So there it was…the 3 of us diagnosed with cancer. Both my mom and I chose the conventional treatment of surgery and chemo and had chemo at the same time, same days, but different locations. We lost our hair at the same time and both went through the grueling pains of chemo. My aunt on the other hand chose a different route and decided to do experimental drugs, no surgery and no chemo. Needless to say the cancer spread rapidly and the experimental treatment did not work and we lost her right before Mother’s Day in 2018. Rest in peace Aunt Maryanne. You will never be forgotten and you will always be loved.

Mom and I got through all of our surgeries, I had 7 within one year…port insertion, reconstruction, infections, etc… and we made it through chemo. Neither of us needed radiation. We were both in the clear with no evidence of disease. So in Dec 2017 I had my port taken out and so did my mom. We were both so happy that we had survived the grueling past year of treatments. Yayyyyyy for us!!! We made it!

Two months later I started with a nasty cough that would not go away. I felt like I was hacking a lung. I went to the doctor and was put on antibiotics, steroids, and cough medicine and was told I had bronchitis. I also started having a pain in my upper back. Well the cough never went away, I went to the Chiropractor for the back pain, that never went away. So after about 4 months of having a cough that wouldn’t go away, and back pain that was getting worse, my Oncologist decided to do some scans. On July 3rd, 2017, right before my huge 4th of July party, the doctor called us in and I was told that the cancer had returned and spread to both my lungs and sternum. I had more than 30 plus tumors in each lung. There it was. Again. My hair had just grown back and now I was getting ready to lose it all over again. So much fun!!!! I underwent a second round of chemo and radiation to the sternum. Needless to say that 6 months after having the port taken out, I had to have it put back in.

I now was stage 4 and terminal. I was put on every three week maintenance infusions of antibody drugs plus a monthly hormone shot. Scans and Echocardiograms every 3 months. I was given a new expiration date..an unreliable one… of 2 months to 8 years at most. F*&^%$ that! The doc said they could only try to keep the cancer stable with drugs but I would never go into ‘remission’. They would just prolong my life with drugs till my body gives out or the cancer eats me alive. So there it is. This is where I’m at today. I just finished another round of radiation for a new spot that was found on a scan on my left shoulder. Yep, cancer is still spreading. And I’m still fighting. Never gonna give in or give up. And do I feel sick now? Sometimes. But for the most part I feel OK. I still work, have a supervisor who works with me on a flexible schedule. I’m lucky I get to work from home. I’m a Pediatric nurse, for over 20 years now, and I work with a huge insurance company. I’m blessed. I have a wonderful husband who has been my rock through all of this and a wonderful supportive family. I am truly blessed. Did I mention…Fun?? lol

Caught up in a whirlwind

Next came the whirlwind of Doctor visits…Biopsies to stage the cancer, visits with a General Surgeon who would remove both breasts, Plastic surgeon who would reconstruct what I once had. Meeting my new Oncologist who would become my new best friend. My head was spinning! It all was happening too fast! I felt like I never had time to really grasp what was going on. After all was said and done I found out that I had a really aggressive form of breast cancer that was hard to treat. And they gave me an expiration date of 5 years at the most. WHAT????? Do you know how fast 5 years goes??? I remember I held up my right hand in front of the doctor and spoke..”I rebuke that in the name of Jesus!” He laughed and said “whatever it takes.”

Once we knew all the details of what I had it was time to tell the family. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. I called my mom and my sister, and my brothers, and my mom and sister came right over… Just to be with me. Then we called all of our 7 kids..one by one…It was heartbreaking. Listening to the astonishment and disbelief and the tears. (crying now. reliving these moments all over again is really hard. But I have been asked by so many to write my story… so for all of you..here it is.)

News travel fast with social media and such and I started getting phone calls from family that I hadn’t talked to in years! It was kind of like winning the lottery..people were coming out of the woodwork to talk to me. Funny thing was…I still didn’t feel sick.

So I went to the Doctor…

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

On good ‘ol Sept. 8th 2016 I was diagnosed with stage 2A ER+ Her 2+ Grade 3 Infiltrating, (invasive), Ductal Carcinoma — AKA…Breast Cancer. My world changed in the beat of a heart. I had gone for my annual mammogram at 51 years of age, no breast cancer ran in my family, so I was never too worried. But when they pressed the plates down on my left breast and blood squirted out all over I knew something was wrong. The look on the technician’s face was priceless. I could tell this had never happened to her before. She quickly excused herself to go “talk to the Doctor” and left me there with blood all over my gown and handed me tissues to clean up. My worst fear had come true-my boob had ‘popped’ under the pressure of those plates!

I was called into the Radiologists office and they showed me the masses within my left breast. There were two. Things started to move fast. They called my OB/GYN on the spot and told him, and a biopsy was scheduled before I even left the office. I remember sitting there thinking…this is not how they show it in the movies, F Hollywood and their Lifetime stories! My husband should’ve been there with me and the doctor should’ve given us the news together. But nope! On the drive home my OB/GYN called me. It was after hours and he called me personally, so I knew it was serious. He told me it didn’t look good. And it wasn’t.

So now come the tears, anger, denial, the why’s and how’s, and the woe is me!

It couldn’t be true. Breast cancer didn’t run in my family. I didn’t feel sick, I felt fine. I had no pain. No drainage. Felt no lumps. HOW??!!! Why is this happening to me?? Why was God letting this happen to me??? My youngest daughter was a Senior in high school, and I had to see her graduate and be there for her! How would I tell my husband and my kids? My family?? My Boss and work?? Ohhhh how I remember that day! The day the sky actually fell down on me. I went home, sat outside on the swing with my husband and we both just cried. He was strong for the both of us and offered encouraging words…but nothing could console me.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! I’m Laura. I am living with Metastatic Breast Cancer. I am not letting this disease stop me from living my best life! I am a wife, mother of 7, and grandmother of 10! Please join me on my breast cancer journey. I hope it helps some of you that have this disease know that it is not hopeless. Life is worth the fight!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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