Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Maya's Bday, My Bday, Back to OR and Chemo Break!

Despite my health and not feeling good I have had several fun days...And some changes in my Chemo treatment Plan......

1st I still could not let Maya's 2nd Birthday go by without a cake and the traditional Happy Birthday too Maya Song! She sure knew we were singing to her this time and she was all smiles! This was the same day that I shaved my hair so it was definitely a day I will not forget.

My Chemo Day (which was my birthday) was postponed due to the infection I got with the tissue expander. Chemo was against me so I began to reject this foreign object in my body. My Plastic Surgeon decided to send me back to the Hospital this (Friday) to try and clean up the infection, sew me up and hopefully fight this before I start my 2nd round of Chemo. This decision was made instead of taking out the expander which I did not want to have to do. So I was able to feel somewhat good on my Birthday since I did not have to get treatment... It was bitter sweet because I get an extra week of feeling "normal" but this only prolongs treatment and I'm just counting down the months....I still had to meet with my oncologist to discuss how my 1st treatment went. He discussed my results of the breast tissue biopsy and I have been diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer! My heart just stopped... I started saying to myself... "how am I going to live through this?" So I just said my thoughts out loud to him... He began to tell me that the PET Scan that I had which looks at EVERYTHING in your body looked okay... I said only okay??? What do you mean?? He said no signs of cancer on the uterus, thyroid major organs that cancer can go to. I will need to continue to have other PET scans after treatments are done and carefully watch for any changes. I tell you this was worse than the actual Chemo it self! I was in a moment of an"outer body experience!" I then calmly said thank you for all you have done so far, got off the table and literally cried my eyes out all the way to the car!

How is it that just when I think I'm so strong... I'm Not?

These moments are scary! Hearing words from a doctor that is making decisions for your life FREAK ME out! I just feel like I want him to say... Everything is Great, No Cancer..... Bye.... Keep in touch.... But that's not the case for me... I still have the agony of a wait and see situation and I'm a little insecure about this!

I then drove home... talked to my best friend from Memphis. She called to wish me a Happy Birthday that gave me a "pick up" then I checked my email... Had 2 awesome friends that I've known for over 20 years wish me Happy Birthday which made my day, then had my good friend bring me flowers which lifted my spirits, then had my sister bring me a gift which I loved, then had another sweet friend bring me a cake & dinner!, then had another friend make me a desert! Need I complain any more?

I decided to just stop thinking of all the what ifs and enjoyed my day and tried to be happy!

Good thing the night before I got to go out with Mitch and 2 wonderful friends for dinner... What a way to let things go and just have some good laughs and enjoy each other... As I was sitting with my friends it was the 1st time I looked around and thought... I never really noticed peoples hair! I began to look around and then as I went to the bathroom and saw women "primping" I was missing a little of me! But It is What It is... I need to get over this! I had a great time with Erica & Scott. Friends that anyone would want to have... Seriously... Can't describe them... Just amazing people! They lifted me up that night and after we had some great talks the night ended and I was happy to spend my 1st Night Out (with no hair!) with 2 of my most favorite people. I love you guys!
My Friends & Family again I love you and will continue to think of you in my daily thoughts. I will be in touch after my recovery with sugery #3.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's Time....

This might be a little disgusting but again... I'm trying to remember each moment so sorry for the tasteless picture... This is day 2 of a sink full of dark hair! I just could not continue to pull out hair and see it on my shirts, pillow and everywhere else! So I called my brother Matthew today and said It's Time... Bring Your Clippers. So he did...

We were both kinda dreading the thought of cutting my hair so we visited for about 2 hours before I said to him okay lets go! He began to cut away with scissors 1st...

Here I am taking a break! My scalp is so sore to the touch that having the clippers touch my head felt like a cactus was pushing into my scalp and burning at the same time....BUT what is happening is EACH FOLLICLE is releasing and it's so tinder... Never did I think about the pain that loosing hair had. I mean ACTUAL pain hurts to the touch and just feels so not normal... Not like have a buzz cut. This chemo really changes everything!

Don't I look so Happy? I'm really full of mixed emotions! I feel relieved it's done but at the same time a part of who I am is gone. I loved having hair... It was a little bit of my identity... But it will grow back. (I keep telling myself)

Another view of my hair... Again. I had to have Matthew stop because it was so painful to cut!

This is what I will resort to... I feel a little safe this way... As if my hair is still there and I just came from working out! Sad Day... I have to admit. There are no positive thoughts this time because it is REALITY.... WED 2nd treatment hope I can do this!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Could not resist! I just had to make cookies with my kids! But now I'm paying the price!

Here is Maya who just demanded to wear a coat and hat in the house and it is not even cold during the days here in Arizona! She loves accessories!

The boys making cookies.... Drake licked more of the icing then putting it on the actual cookie!

The ending results! So glad it got done... It was really bothering me that my cookie making tradition was not taken place this year.

Sunday I started to feel pretty good so I got this great idea to make cookies with the kids... I had told them that we were not going to make cookies this year so when I told them to get out the "sprinkles" they were so excited.... 2 hours later this is what they made and I felt like at least 1 tradition was done this year... Since they have had to go to my friends or sisters houses the last few weeks I felt like I needed some good quality time with them....

Later that evening I started to feel a little ache. So I thought I over did it... Monday I still felt the same. By that evening I decided to take a shower to notice that the reconstructed breast with the tissue expander in it was red, hot to the touch and had streaks! I said this is not good! I decided to call my doctor and at 9:00 pm she told me to meet her at her office in 40 minutes! I was in shock! I've never been asked by a doctor to meet them "after hours" so Mitch and I got in the car (mom had Maya) (Leslie had the boys) and we went in to meet her... The 1st thing she said was..."your overdoing it!" I said to myself great here I go with lectures from everybody now.

For ME it is very hard not to do things for myself. I'm so independent that I just take almost everything on without complaining and "do it myself" well I'm paying the price. So she began to "take out" some of the saline that was leaking between my chest wall and the expander. 75 cc's later I was bandaged up as if I had left the hospital and was told to come back tomorrow to see her partner.... After meeting him today he was much more negative and said he was going to have to see me on Christmas Eve & on Christmas! Possible Major Infection= Expander being Removed= SURGERY!

I just can not go threw another surgery! I'm tired, worn out, sore and on top of that the expander would not be a loud back in for 6 months! This is not good.... So I pray I caught this early but time will tell... A culture was done so we will not know til next week... Some Christmas present for me! Fun Times! Fun Times!

Well....I'm still glad the chidren and I did what we did Sunday.... Memories are priceless!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Had A Visit To Get A Wig! What an Experience!

Not quite sure this will be for me.... Read on to get the full Scoop of my Wig Shopping Experience.
Donated Hat YA LIKE? not quite me but this was with one on the Wigs and Hats I got to bring home with me...

Here are the scarves, wig supplies and other things donated to me..

Wig #1 Longer Hair to be worn only with a hat!

Wig #2 (please excuse the PJ's I just don't care what I look like lately)

I had the chance to stop over at the National Cancer Society office which gives free donations of wigs, head wraps, bandannas, hats and lots of information pertaining to loosing your hair during chemotherapy.

This is going to happen anytime now and I have come to some realization with being so sick, nothing tasting good, sores in my mouth, fatigue, sleepless nights, and just plain old being in PAIN! That... my hair might not be so bad to loose seeing that it is one more thing LESS I have to do!

I try to work with this short hair cut but I have to say I'm not to keen on it... Anyway back to the National Cancer Society Story. I had to see my reconstruction surgeon 2 days ago to get another 50 cc's pumped into my chest wall/boob. (Man it hurts like HE-double hockey sticks!) So before my appointment I went over for a visit to see what kind of "free" stuff I could get. I was already at the hospital so I thought why not? This is what I got! With that being said...

I had kept my fingers crossed that I could find that "perfect wig" Hollywood Style maybe. A little between a Sarah Jessica Parker or Jennifer Lopez look! I told my brother Clay (while texting him of course that I was really serious!) Well it was Hilarious! The only wig that was even close to what I would consider wearing was totally BLOND and that I'm not! So I had to settle with what you are seeing above..... Notice the hat, and 2 different types of wigs.

Wig#1 You wear with hats so the top is actually just a band with hair hanging so it looks like you have long hair. To diffcult to use!

Wig #2 Is just a regular wig that I will need to get styled by someone to much hair! It just isn't me!

So be my guest if you want to send me a hat that you think looks more like "me" feel free! If I could I would be getting some sort of hat out of "LA or Bevery Hills" just to feel totaly hip! but.... I think I might just have to go Kojak style (right Clay?) but we will see!

I'm not at all making fun of the National Cancer Society Donations... It's a wonderful thing! I'm so grateful I had friends tell me about this program... Someday I'll be back at that office but on the "donating side of it not the "receiving"....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A RUN I didn't get to RUN!

Mitch taking Drake for his last day of school before break so I could watch Ethen run the Jingle Jog!

This is Ethen with the Santa Hat on getting ready to take off!

Every Year Ethen's school does a Jingle Jog the last day of school before Christmas Break. They get to Run 1.5 miles around the school & community with lots of supporters riding on golf carts and hearing the sounds of jingle bells in the air. I was real excited this year for it to come because I was going to run it with him.... Well as we all know that didn't happen. Ethen did not seem to mind one bit that I did not get to participate with him. So for that I was happy....but I began to have an interesting thought as I watched him start the run by himself amongst 100's of other participators and children.
A year ago I decided to begin running....I actually had to "learn" to run because I've never been a runner. This turned into a hobby for me to do for myself. And because of my running and the physical feelings I was having while running began to seem "not right" ... which
led me to the doctor's which

led me to the Mammogram tech which

led me to a surgeon which

led me to saving my LIFE!

On a side note:(I seriously had no indications of breast cancer. But as I began running ...wearing sports bras became uncomfortable and the doctor then reinforced that in his opinion this was not do to running or wearing a sports bra that was to tight.)
So as I watch Ethen run today... Tears went down my face with sunglasses on (of course so no one wondered why I'd be crying during a fun event for the school).... I watch my son run without me and I was okay with that because as I stood their with my body aching and in somewhat of pain that I'm still experiencing with post surgery....

I was happy that:

#1. I was able to get out of bed today and see him run the full 1.5 miles and cheer him on.

#2. Even though I was not in the actual event this time I felt like I have already made that 1.5 mile run towards getting well and being thankful for listing to that "small voice" that told me when something just wasn't right!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Sickness I Can Not Explain & Presents That Can't Be Bought!

The Tree is Done with fewer decorations and no gifts wrapped yet... But It's all good. The Children are the one's who are excited!

I've been sick before... I've watch my mom go threw some sickness. But the feeling I feel right now is unexplainable! I NOW know the feeling of being poisoned.... Not to complain to much BUT I had a rough 4 days. Food still does not sound good. My writing to me does not make much sense. I can not process very well but I'm on to recovery and that is all that counts! The shot that I get the day after Chemo is a killer! It is suppose to make my white blood counts go high so no infection will happen to me. My whole entire body aches from head to toe and my head I feels like blowing off!

Every year I Christmas Shop and gift buy for everyone I can because I love to! I really love too! Even if it is something small with a little note attached to it. I usually have all the gifts under the tree to give to others. This year is different with Medical expenses and everything else it just wont get done. Don't get me wrong I still want to give and will as much as I can but this year is different... Presents are not under the tree like the years past and I'm not up on making cookies with the kids and trying to buy that perfect gift! But what I do know is that once again... Family & Friends are all that matters!!! I have very little Patience with the children lately. I hurts still from the mastectomy and this will be a continue process so I seem to get a little agitated with them more & more. I'm trying so hard to be happy in front of them but they know Mommy isn't her self! If I did not have the family & friends to take care of them I'd be done!

So I think... in the end... even if fewer presents are under the tree this year..Does it matter? No... Because Life is a gift!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

To Sick To Write My Thoughts Just A Reminder...

My son Drake was taken care of while his mommy couldn't even get out of bed today. This is him at my friends house sleeping peacefully... But because of my dear friend Erica I was at peace all day long knowing he was fine.... thank you for all you have done and will do for me I truly appreciate you.....and I quote her message from her blog last night...."

"On Wednesday I had the privilege of accompanying my dear friend Elizabeth to her first chemotherapy treatment. As we were talking, the nurse was changing out bags of meds for Elizabeth as I mentioned something about Amy. The nurse heard us and asked,
"You know Amy?"
"Yeah, she's my sister-in-law."
"Are you kidding?"
"Nope. She's actually watching my daughter today so I can be here with Elizabeth. Do you happen to know Charlene?"
"Well, she's our good friend as well and she is watching my son so I can be here."
"Unbelievable. "
"It's been a crazy year that's for sure."
Here was a nurse who had witnessed and nursed all of these girls through their treatment. I just sat there for a minute and reflected on what a bizarre year it has been. Amy and Charlene are finishing up Herceptin and reconstructive surgeries while Elizabeth begins her journey and starts chemotherapy. Elizabeth and I cried as we talked about what are the chances of having 2 of my closest friends and my sister-in-law all being diagnosed with cancer in one year. I mean seriously. This path feels all too familiar for all of us. Scott has of course stepped up again as well. As I try and help where I can with a meal or having kids over to play, he looks the other way at the things that don't get done around the house or just does them for me. I think sadly each time this process starts again, it makes us both realize just how lucky we have been and puts things back into perspective again.
It may have seemed like just another day for Elizabeth and I on Wednesday. She was cute as ever and her new shorter hair looked spectacular (all curly so no one would confuse us...wink, wink), make up on, kicked back in our recliners, sipping our Dr. Pepper, discussing all sorts of hot topics, giggling and laughing like we were on some type of girls day out. But in reality, we were sitting in a room full of people who were all being pumped full of drugs to kill the cancer in their bodies. CANCER. This was no day at the spa. This was simply just two friends trying to make the best of an ugly situation one friend had found herself in. Recliners helped, caffeine helped, laughing definitely helped and a tear snuck in here and there brought us back to the reality of the real reason we were there. When I dropped her off at home, she was feeling a little tired, but by that night, she felt sick, achy and completely wiped out.
The cancer path is a well beaten one, the treatments are brutal, the medicines, the trips, the pain are all overwhelming but these girls continue to push on and show me what the true meaning of BRAVE is on a daily basis and remind me to be grateful for the small inconveniences, not trials, that I have in my life..........and for that my friends, I thank you for your stellar examples. "

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let's Roll....3 Things to do today...All completed!

Schedule tomorrow: Plastic Surgeon to Pump me up! 8AM
1ST CHEMO TREATMENT 9:45 HERE I GO!!!!!!! Kinda scared.....

Port installed today at Hospital: Done! This is so the chemo can be administered every 3 weeks with out messing up veins to much...

Here is the machine with me getting ready for the test... Nightly Night!
Here is the blood mixed with the radioactive stuff so I can get the testing done on the machine...

Muga Scan: DONE! This is where it tests my heart to make sure that my heart is up for getting chemo tomorrow... They draw the blood out of me... Spin it with radioactive stuff then insert it back in to me and put me into a machine... Don't you like the way I talk just like a doctor??? So professional! I'm also a little drugged with pain killers... Writing might be a little off!

Cancer Vixen Hand Wash thanks to my dear friend Melissa,This is what it says...
"So Every Vixen can feel smashing while kicking the cancer's butt!" Wild Berry Smell!!!!
Complements of Bath & Body Works....

I was advised by an experienced cancer survivor friend to get mints for the sores that will come in my mouth while the chemo is being administered.... Clorox cleanups for my chair to stay clean. (who knows what might be living in that!) (Thanks Amy!Love you for your great advice)

Medication ready for tomorrow bought and bagged up: DONE!

No Matter What It Is Still Christmas At The Cluff's House!

Of course I was not into this stuff considering....But my husband just starting pulling out the stuff and began to light the house! Ethen just had to put the star on... While Drake took the beads and ran around the house with them.... I patiently did not yell because I was trying to get into the spirit of Christmas!

Yesterday I came home to find this! This is the small tree in the Play Room.... We have a 14 foot tree in the Great Room that my dad and Mitch are finishing up for us... Ethen must get the love for decorating from Mitch and I.... We both share the hobby of decorating all over the house in ever room! We are not quite done but at least we started..... I was not up to it much but my kids need to still have a wonderful holiday... I have so much to be thankful for. Let me just list the types of friends and family that check on me near or far...

1. Text messages every minute of the day.(You sweet girls!)

2. Food brought in every other day.

3. Friends from High School emailing or calling me to see how I am. (I had not talked to them for 20 years and they still care) *** Michele H> & Kristin C>!!!

4. Old Friends sending me Chocolate covered fruit that I eat in 10 sec. (Thanks Dana)

5. Friends sending my tear jerking cards that make me want to kiss them!

6. Friends who pick up my children everyday drive them to school and bring them home.

7. Sisters who take my children all day and put up with the chaos

8. Friends who come over late at night and drop off Bath & Body Works treats (Thanks Melissa)

9. Brothers who call and say.... do you need anything today?

10.Friends who have challenges of their own and still drop everything to call and give great advice for my chemo treatment.

11. My Aunt & Uncle to call to see how I am every day!

12.A Mother who watchs Maya day & night so I do not have to pick her up so much without hurting.

13. Sister in law who calls and sends fruit and chocolate too! Keep it coming guys!

14. A dear Friend who takes my children's pictures every year & who sends me positive emails with beautiful flowers.

15. A friend from Memphis who calls daily to say hello even when I can not talk she still leaves me a message to say she loves me....
16. A brother who calls and sings on the phone to tell me how much he loves me. (He made the words up!)
17. My Husbands brother, wife, niece, her husband and little boy just showed up one night to see how I am and to tell me they are Praying for me... They do not live just around the block either! I love you guys too!

The list goes on and on and on..... To amazing for words!
What A Christmas Present to give to me!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Now you see it! Now you don't!

Now you see it! Bad Hair Day anyway... No makeup just not in the mood! I knew it was getting cut off so I did not even bother doing it today... So I look about how I feel... Tired, I can not process very well, I'm mentally drained and feel very hyper inside.... Tomorrow I get to get a port put into my chest for the chemo to go into easier. So one more thing to do...
Actually 3 more things to do:
1. Chest Xrays 7:00 am.
2. Muga Scan 7:30 am on Heart
3. Port put in report to hospital by 1:30pm... I guess no time for Christmas shopping ! Dang!

Sweet Ethen trying to make me laugh... This was a good bonding experience for us because he fully understands what is going to happen and he is so concern and always says "I hate chemo" your going to loose your hair!

I thought about donating the hair to the Pantine company but found out it could not be colored hair.... of course I have darkened my hair for years now!

Now you don't! I would say a full 12 inches got cut in a matter of 20 minutes... I still just kept on saying it will grow back!

This was hard! I grew my hair out just because I like putting it up in all different ways plus it was so easy to do on my lazy days! Here is my son Ethen who came to support me cutting my hair.This will make the transition easier for me and the kids! Hair is usually gone by 1st treatment. sigh......

No One Like My Aunt!

Before I had to have my surgery I was trying very hard to get things in order with my children, work and Mitch's job etc.... I kept saying I know I can do this! Really I was in denial. My mother had broken her leg 3 weeks prior so she was not going to be much help and so I had to rely on friends and family but it is not the same with little one's and messing up their schedule. So one night I got a call saying my aunt Joanne is flying out to take care of the kids so they can have as much stability as possible.... I had no words to even describe my feelings... The other thing is she and her husband is serving a Mission for the LDS church in Salt Lake City Utah so she was given special permission to leave her mission and take care of my family for 3 weeks. I want her to know that she is one of a kind. Funny, Beautiful, Loving, and a true Angel! Everyone who meets her loves her instantly! So Joanne your a Saint in my eyes... We Love You .... Yesterday was a sad day. She left us and I felt like I was going to start my next step by myself... But I know deep down I have more support than I'll ever be able to comprehend. Joanne you helped me heal in many ways than just physical!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Test # 1 PET SCAN & Chemo Next Week!

Here I am having the Actual PET SCAN!... I just closed my eyes and thought of my kids! Happy thoughts! Then after the procedure I was told that I could not hold my children until 7pm because of the radiation in me... So as I write I'm at my mothers house so they will not cry for me to hold them or hug them or get them a drink or get them something to eat.... This is so sad... I will get through this!
Don't I look Dazed & Confused? I'm so tired and just feel out of it... But I am sitting here getting dye injected into me so I could begin my test.

I had a PET Scan to look for any other tumors or if any signs of cancer is in the breast that was removed.... Funny thing is they let my mother come into the room where they injected the dye . I could not TALK for 1 hour! How does Elizabeth do that? I'm full of things to say! So my sweet mother read to me while I cuddled in a recliner. The words she read to me were about adversity. With adversity comes happiness! So this is my adversity and I will be waiting for my happiness soon! I love my sweet mother who is not well herself but still finds away to take care of me and my children...
PS> Chemo starts next Wednesday... Crap! This is a Drag!

I love my family....and Crispy Cream Donuts!

Yesterday I got scheduled with all the tests, scans, blood draws and treatment plans that will need to be done ASAP before Chemotherapy begins.... So my mother called a FAMILY meeting to get my sister, brother, dad and me together with husbands and wives to go over what kind of help I will be needing... So before I go into all my dreadful stuff I just wanted to include how cute my Nice and Nephews are... My brother came in with two boxes of Crispy Cream Donuts! How sweet is that? It just started off the night so fun... The kids were happy and so were we! They danced for us and sang songs which just brought tears to my eyes.....So after the show I made a list of all my doctor visits and where my kids will be each day... This way if I needed my brother, sister or parents at any time my family would know where to pick my children up in case of an emergency etc...I do not know if the Chemo will be the hardest part of my Challenge or the distance between me and the kids....I almost morn for them right now... I'm starting to see little changes in their behavior.... I know this will pass but what a hard thing to have to do! On a positive note I enjoyed 2 Crispy Creams with the kids and felt great eating every bite! What would happen if I had NO ONE to turn to? There are many people in the world who have no one! No one to bring them Crispy Cream in times of sadness and sorrow... I will have to say yesterday was sad because of the amount of information that was given to me I felt overwhelmed that I slept for 3 hours... But soon after that I had my girlfriends come over with "the plan" for meals, childcare and anything else I would need... I also was able to just pick up the phone call my best friend Kristen in Memphis and say I HATE CANCER!!! and then I felt better....With that said it could be a lot worse! So tomorrow I begin my scheduled tests.... Here I go!