Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Death and Dying...okay, just "Death".

If you are healthy and ruminate about your death, it's creepy. If you have had cancer, it's kind of "okay". So, needless to say, I have ruminated quite a bit about my death, but more importantly--my funeral. The last hurrah, the party at the end, the accolades for being born. You get the picture, yes?

So, it goes like this: I die. After they are over the initial shock (or relief, take your pick) my friends and family post notice of my death on the various e-mail lists and websites I participate it. Comments and e-mails pour in by the dozens. It is actually overwhelming. My obituary requires extra payment it takes up so many columns. There is a HUGE (but tasteful) wreath on the front door of my store, and my adoring customers lay flowers and candles beneath a photo of me on a placard (probably without hair, so that passers-by will know what actually killed me). This goes on for weeks.

My husband has promised to not let me be buried, cremated, whatever (I haven't decided yet) naked from the waist down. Did you know that? I want underwear, pants and shoes. I shudder to think that one of the Mowells will see me naked. Nothing against them, it's just that I "know them." EEek. What shall I wear? All white is what comes to mind, but other than a white string bikini, I can't get specific. Wouldn't that be funny? Remind Todd should the time come.

My hair would have to either be done by my stylist, or if I didn't have hair, it would have to be my rock n'roll blonde wig. As for make-up, I don't wear much, and I sure as hell don't want to look like a hooker on the way out.

Flowers? Some, yes. However, I would rather you take your money and donate it to a BC support group, or buy yourself some Pearl Jam tickets. If you choose the second, you will thank me if only in your prayers.

I got the music part DOWN. Let's start it out with "Angel" by Jewel as people are walking in, looking at the lovely placard (love that word) of various photos of my life. During the service, invariably there would be talk about Cooper, which would be followed with "Godspeed" by The Dixie Chicks. It will break your heart. Blah, blah, blah--married, child, renaissance woman, Serendipity, friends, family, followed by a heart-felt video. Pat Dennis says some words about me (laughing ensues), Deanna speaks (but only two words, as she can't say more than "Krista was"), and Cooper reads a poem he wrote. Okay, that might be pushing it. Cooper plays a riff on the guitar. Better. On the way out, "ARC" by Ed Ved. You probably haven't heard it, but it will make sense if you do. I sob just hearing it now.

Would it be selfish to ask for a party afterwards? An open bar, smoking inside, DJ-led party?!? Would people actually go to that? Would they get trashed and talked about me? Would they say only good things? Would I care at that point? Knowing me, I would find a way to care.

Oh, I have thought more about what I would want my husband, child and family to know before I went. I guess planning this part would be the only "fun part" of dying. Well, there's Heaven, too, but you all aren't there yet.

Monday, September 15, 2008

No more "stuff" for you.

So (and I love to start my blogs off with "so", like I have been waiting all day to tell you this), I own a children's boutique. I used to get hit up at least once a week for a donation of some sort. For a church homecoming dinner, for a realtor function, for the high school's band and so on and so forth. For the longest time, I would just donate to anyone and anything because I felt bad if I didn't and I just wanted people to "like me" and the store. I thought that donating to the smaller organizations would bring in business, or least some gratitude from the person soliciting. After all, I was donating something of MINE to their little fundraiser. Uh, no. I cannot think of one church, school or other small-time event that has brought in one dollar of business. Sometimes not even a friggin thank-you note.

After about 4 years, I decided I had had enough of that crap! Donating to anything other than a well-run local charity is a waste of my time and money. I now only donate to one organization per quarter--The Joseph Sams School, Fayette Youth Protection Home, The ACS of Fayette County, plus a local golf tournament and I choose another once a year that I feel warrants it. I do it up right, and while I don't expect to make a ton of money from new customers I might garner from it, it doesn't really matter because I CHOSE THEM and feel that their causes are worthy.

I now have a sign on the front door that says, "No Soliciting of Any Kind AT ALL. Donations and Ads included." I understand that people need fundraisers for their organizations, but I am not King Midas and can't give you a $50 gift certificate or a $100 basket just because your kid's school needs a new microscope. My child goes to a small private school, so on top of tuition, I would like to help them out. I go to church when I can and therefore donate to MY church--I should not feel like I need to sponsor something at your church.

The worst solicitation is from people that I "know" and whom have never shopped in my store. Even worse than that, is people who I KNOW have shopped (a LOT) in other stores in Atlanta. Where do they get off? If you have had a baby in the last six years, and didn't buy your furniture from me, or at least a few outfits, do not ask me for a donation. I am not going to tell you that is why I am declining to donate, but it will be.

There, I feel better and a little bit self-absorbed. Much better.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is there a "Green Party" this year?

I have had it. Had it, had it, had it. My inbox is completely over-run with political crap and I can't take it anymore. Who really thinks that sending anti-so and so rhetoric is really going to sway my vote? I am so sick of hearing about how Obama might (or might not) be a Muslim and how McCain is too old. The truth is that neither of them will keep half of the promises they are making during the campaign process. Even if they could, they won't. Which is probably a good thing, because some of their ideas, morals, etc. make me want to vomit in my mouth (a little bit).

I, for one, am offended that people who have NO IDEA what political party I run with would send me the crap that they do! That's like sending a Jewish person a Christmas tree. For Christ's sake, people. I could not care less if McCain doesn't know how many houses he has, or what Michelle Obama wrote her senior thesis on. I am so sick of it.

Obama is an enigma to me. I just can't figure him out. I watched him speak at the DNC in 2004, and I told my husband that I thought he was a great speaker. I am a great speaker, but I don't think I can run the country successfully. Or at least do a better job than the cartoon character we have had for the last four years.

McCain seems stuffy, old school, and most likely to keep us all exactly where we are. I do not like Sarah Palin, so stop telling me how "great" it is that McCain selected a woman! I love it that some think that the Hillary supporters are going to vote for McCain because of Palin. What kind of sheep do they think those women are? Wonderful that she is the first woman governor of Alaska. Admirable that she believes in "abstinence-only" sex education (that one didn't work out so well for her, did it?). Great that she decided to not abort a baby with Down's Syndrome (Wow. A true hero, that one. To actually want the child you are carrying no matter what?!?). She might be a woman, but she is nowhere near the kind of women I respect, so let it go. Let. It. Go. Michelle Obama doesn't strike a chord with me, either, but Michelle Obama might not be president one day. Not that I'm saying that McCain is too old and might, well...you know.

Here is what I WANT from the next president:

1. Stop sending us to wars in far off places while we have people who can't take their children (or themselves) to the ER because they don't have health insurance, veterans who are treated as baggage instead of heroes, children who go to bed hungry, senseless acts of violence, and diseases that will continue to kill us. When all that is taken care of, take over Holland for all I care.

2. Give us a more fair tax system. I own a small business, and I would be fine with increased sales tax and obliterating the wage tax. I love to shop--more money in my pocket, more shopping. I don't care if it costs more, I still want it!

3. Keep your laws off my body and out of people's bedrooms. The choice that I would make might not be what another would make, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't have that choice. I used to get threats from one certain religious group for my beliefs on ectopic pregnancy (life-threatening in all cases--look it up if you don't know what it is), and my decision to undergo IVF. I don't mean "you are going to hell" threats, either. Scary ones. That just shows you how a topic like this can go from "birth control" abuse to simply insane rhetoric. I have a LOT of "gay" friends, so enough said on that. Enough said, okay?

4. Make the world a better place for my child and his children. Stop raping what we do have, and come up with ways to extricate us from foreign oil dependence.

It would seem that most of that is in the Obama camp, but Obama doesn't have my vote. Want to know who I am voting for? Ask me in November, as I have no idea right now and might just take a long nap on that day. It would be idealistic to tell me that "every vote counts". However, I remember all too well the 2000 election. Dangling chad, anyone?

I am not going to vote for someone because you told me to, or not to. I am not going to vote for someone because my parents do. I might not even vote for the person my husband does. So, please STOP sending me candidate-bashing e-mails, videos and pleas for my vote. I will most likely vote for the other guy if you continue to do so.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This playing guitar isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Hrumph! So, I was totally expecting to just pick up the guitar (about a month ago) and be wailing by Thanksgiving. I have come to the sad conclusion that it ain't gonna happen by Thanksgiving. 2010. I don't have any plans to take it on the road at any point, I just want to be able to sit down and sing to myself accompanied.

I am learning to read music (again) and playing with tabs when I need some instant gratification. Me loves me some instant gratification. The reading music is going "okay". My 8-year old can read more notes than me, but I do better at switching from one note to the other. Take that, Cooper! Tabs can be fun, but when you aren't sure how a note should sound, you have no freakin' idea if you are playing it correctly or not. Throw in a hammer or the requirement of a capo and I want to throw the damn thing across the room.

I started out playing "Jeremy" with a tab, since it has such distinctive first notes. It sounded kind of like "Jeremy", but after looking around online, I found three other tabs for it that were nothing like what I was playing! WTF? I gave up on that one. Then onto "Trouble", which should have been easy enough. I even wrote my own tab, as it doesn't seem to exist anywhere. No comment, but suffice it to say that there is no Cat Stevens a la Ed Ved going on around here.

Then, I tried to play "Porch". Uh, no. Now, I am thinking it is going to be "Lukin" since it's basically just 5 or 6 notes played really fast. If you screw up, no one is really going to know. Look for a boot of it online and you will see what I mean.

I really have no business trying to learn an instrument at the age of 36, but I am going to keep at it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I have a lot to say, and some of it ain't pretty. Bear with me, and it will be a smooth ride. Blogs dated before today (September 9, 2008) have been "stolen" from my Caring Bridge and My Space profiles. Eat up!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Can music bring you back to life?

So, I went through all "that" last year. I thought that when it was over, I would bounce back to my normal mental state. It wasn't stellar to begin with, so I wasn't shooting very high...
Instead of feeling better about finishing treatment, I sunk into a months-long funk. Yes, I was thankful to a certain degree. I had a wonderful husband and an amazing son. Yes, I physically felt a little better. I was back working. But...I really felt so hopeless. I just knew that I was going to die anyway, so what was the point of anything? At times, I wanted to kill myself just to beat cancer to it. It sounds selfish (especially with having a family to live for), but it is impossible to wrap your mind around unless you have been there, and maybe not even then.

I have always been the kind of gal who wanted something and found a way to get it. I could not get "me" back, or a "better me", which is what I (and my family) needed. So, in order to get myself living again, I decided that 2008 would be the year of "living". I needed tangible things to look forward to. I needed little snippets of future time to assure myself I would be there. I was going to do things that I had always wanted to do, but just didn't for one reason or another...

1. See Pearl Jam live again.

In April, I sat with my lap top, refreshing the The Colonial Center's website, waiting for tickets to go on sale. The store called twice, but I refused to let anything distract my fingers from their task. I must have hit F5 about 50 times. I got 'em, and they were pretty good.

The month of April was busy, and May even more so. I started wondering if I could even take time out to travel to South Carolina. I wondered if I would have the stamina to actually enjoy the show. If you know me, I can be quite entertaining, but would I feel uncomfortable? I am not the kind of gal who will just sing and dance in public, with strangers no less.

I put my tickets up on ebay. I took them down. I put them back up. I took them down again. Todd made reservations at a hotel. I packed our bags. We got about 20 minutes outside of South Carolina, and I realized I had forgotten the tickets. Kudos to the staff at The Colonial Center--they reissued our tickets, and John would have handed me a Kleenex through the phone if he could have. Still, I was beginning to wonder if I should have left the tickets up on ebay...was it an omen of some freaky sort?

We missed most of KOL's set (due to the pull over summit on the forgotten tickets). As we were waiting for Pearl Jam to come out, I began to get anxious, but was starting to feel "something". Excitement was creeping in...looking forward to "that something" was creeping in...
It was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. I danced, I jumped, I pumped my fist in the air at the appropriate times. I screamed, "Hellooooo!!!", "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie", and "No More!!!". I drank my draft beer, and snuck a puff on a cig when Eddie lit up. I sang so loud that I could barely talk at the first encore (if you don't believe me, take a peek at Todd's video--I am the annoying one). I cried during "Alive", because I was.

The way I felt afterwards is something I just can't put into words that will make sense to anyone else. It might sound silly to anyone who hasn't been in that dark place, but I came back from whereever I had been for the last year, or maybe even longer than that. I realized that there was more life out there, I could enjoy it, and with gusto, energy, and giddiness. The "moment" I had been waiting for (and needed) had arrived.

So, if you giggle at me when I tell you that I read "this or that" on the pit, or I bought a poster from a new friend (who I have never actually met), or I am desperately trying to find good seats to the Chicago 2 Eddie Vedder solo concert...just know that a part of my heart healed in Columbia. I will carry that night with me for the next half of my life. I don't know "why" or "how", but it's really beside the point.

So, thanks to Eddie, Matt, Stone, Jeff, Mike and Boom. Something you did brought me out of my cancer funk, and I don't plan on going back in. Now on to 2...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Current mood: pissed off

So it seems that I only blog when I am a) really, really happy or b) pissed off. This one falls into the b) category.

There is an article out this week (although not the first along the same lines) refuting the need for monthly breast self-exams. Basically, the article states that the "survival" rates weren't any better for women who did BSEs, and that BSEs could lead to "needless" biopsies (that might damage women's (already fragile?) minds and well-being).

BULLSHIT alert! At age 34, I found my cancerous lump while doing a BSE. I do not have a strong family history of breast cancer. Therefore, I would not have been eligible for a mammogram for another six years, if even then. I was so far out from my next GYN appointment that it wasn't even scheduled yet. I was diagnosed with IDC, Stage 1 (no lymph nodes involved, but 4 removed for a SNB).

Let me break this down for you...would you want to wait another 9 months (or even one week) to know if you had BC? Would you rather be a Stage 1 or a Stage 3 (or 4)? Well, technically you don't get to choose any of it, but I hope you get my point. No matter what anyone says, when they are diagnosed with BC, one of the first things they do after being staged, is to look up the survival rates for that stage. Survival rates are done by percentages by stage for a period of 5 to 10 years. None of us are statistics, but seeing a 90% survival rate vs. a 20% survival rate is scary as hell. Okay, it's all scary, but once again--I am just trying to make a point here.

Your treatment is determined by your stage, so how can it be possible for it not to be better to find it earlier?!? WTF?!? Look up "lymphedema" if you want another reason why finding it early is preferable, even if treatment is successful. I could still end up dying from BC, but the odds are on my side (for now).

Most of you lovely ladies (and men) will not be diagnosed with BC. I pray "none". However, please do not buy into the hype that doing a BSE isn't necessary, or even advisory. The women I have spoken to "personally" who have had BC and are in agreement with the article, did NOT find their cancer via a BSE. I wonder if they are upset that they didn't find their lump themselves and maybe earlier*...

If you do find a "lump" and it warrants a biopsy...I am a little biased having had BC, but the biopsy was a walk in the friggin' park compared to the rest of it. The biopsy was scary, yes. It hurt, yes. However, it hurt less than a pap smear. I was sore about 5 days later, but I got over it. Would you rather have an early biopsy (or even 5) that came back benign or a later biopsy that came back with different results?

It pisses me off that some of my friends and family may read this article, and stop "knowing thyselves". It pisses me off that a 24-year old in Boise, Idaho may read it and end up with a late-stage BC. Yes, 24-year olds get BC. There are 18-year olds with BC. ARGHHH!!! So, please...

Take 5 minutes each month to touch yourself (do it more, if that's your thang). You don't have to get a shower chart, and follow it step by step. Figure out what works for you, and just know what your breasts should feel like. If you aren't sure, schedule a visit with your GYN and have him/her do an exam, and then you do one. Ask questions--this person has seen your hoo-ha, so don't be embarrassed!

If you find something, get it checked. If you don't, drink a cocktail and think of me. "One for my homies..."

*this should in NO WAY be taken in the context of me thinking that women who did not do BSEs are in any way responsible for the stage of their BC

Monday, May 5, 2008

Don’t ask me... Current mood: Sarcastic

Okay, if you know me, you know that I tend to have a "bit" of dry humor. So, if you have asked me the following, don't get your feelings hurt. If you don't "know" me, I really am very sweet (noise like a baby blowing raspberries). Just take it for what it is--funny stuff.
If you know that I had cancer, please don't ask me:

"Are you in remission?" The first answer is, "I have no idea what that really is." The second answer is, "There is no remission for breast cancer." With some cancers, you get to five years and they say you are in "remission", they even may say (gasp!) that you are "cured." However, breast cancer is a sneaky little fucker and can come back at any time--2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, etc. No one ever dies from breast cancer in the breast. It's the distant spots that scare the crap out of me.

"Did they get it all?" The answer I want to give (and might just start to people I know well enough) is "No, they just took out a little bit and left the rest in there to see what it would do. We are just taking our chances." I usually just laugh and avoid a 30-minute instructional conversation about lumpectomy, clear margins, etc. I don't have time for that anymore. (At this point, if I were telling this to my husband, I would add, "I don't know how much time I do have." It's a joke, laugh.)

"Are you done with chemo?" Well, let's see. My hair is past my ears, I am not bloated (face, ass, you name it), and I am probably out drinking (with the question asker). I know that it is just "something" to say, as so many people are just curious and caring and want to acknowledge that I had it and they were worried. I am just a smartass--can't help it.

Don't ask me if I am still "planning on having more children." I, in turn, promise to not ask you about your propensity for drinking before noon. In case you (reading this blog) are wondering...Your damn skippy I am. I plan on doing exactly what I was doing/going to do before I found the "lump". Otherwise, what was the point of my sucky 2007?!? If you assume that pregnancy gave me cancer, you are assuming that Cooper gave me cancer, and I will promptly kick your ass.

You can ask me:
"How are you feeling?" That is always good, and shows that you really care about my "here and now". If I say, "Great", "Fine", "Super" or anything like that, PLEASE DO NOT say, "Really?" with that crazy-looking head tilt (a la Princess Diana). If you do, I might tell you what the tamoxifen is doing to me, and some of it ain't pretty.

I don't really have a quote for this one, but it is fine to ask me if I have any treatments (of any kind, just don't be stupid and ask about the chemo) left, what they are, how long they take, do they suck? Etc.?

This may seem really snarky and bitchy. I don't mean it to be. However, I do think that all cancer "survivors" (which you pretty much get to be the day after you find the damn stuff) should have the right to be snark and bitchy if they feel like it. You take poison 6 times in a row and see if you aren't a little on the cranky side when it comes to it!

So, don't be offended. I do love you, and do appreciate you caring and wondering. Actually, I really just write these blogs for me, as I do like to hear myself "talk". Plus, it runs in the family, so I cannot be entirely to blame.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Giving Back--FCHS Pature Party Current mood: notalgic

Okay, so Saturday night was the (soon to be) fabled FCHS Alumni Pasture Party. It was a blast! If you didn't go, you should have and missed out on one hell of a shindig! If you did, I hope you had a great time and donated what you could to the three local organizations. If you did, or couldn't, please do it soon or when you can!

All this stems from me being a little bummed hearing what the donation totals were, if my sources are correct. The pasture party was more like a wedding reception, put together by a lot of helping hands, but initially organized and paid for by one of the kindest men that I know! Sure, it was supposed to be a GREAT party, but the at the heart of it is helping out organizations in our community. Organizations directed at the welfare and for the benefit of children--my children, your children, everyone's children.

We should all take a good look at ourselves to see what we are doing in our community--what will our legacies be? So, if you didn't donate (or couldn't) think about doing so now. Even if you don't live in this community, send something in. It can only make you feel good.

Thursday, March 20, 2008 PART DEUX

Mitch Fatel is one funny MO-FO! Current mood: schitzo

I saw Mitch Fatel in Chattanooga last weekend. He is damn funny. When I was going through chemo last year, my husband brought me some of the funniest comedy CDs, and Mitch's (Super Retardo) was the best!

Not to mention that Mitch is a total sweetheart. He gave me a tank top (Love My Muffin) and signed my CD "Krista, Nice Boobs!". OH, did I forget to metion that he autographed my "scar", too? Nothing too racy, just funny. I had a few "cocktails" that evening, so I might be making this up, but I think he said "Oh, there's is already a little line to sign on". If he didn't, it's still funny and he should have said it. I have photos of Mitch and I, but they are on my husband's cell phone, are a bit fuzzy, and I have NO idea how to get them here. I do, however, have one of the "autograph". Check out my pictures...

So, love to Mitch and if you haven't seen him live, stalk him and do so! BTW, Cannon (who opened) is awesome, too!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I am going to die. Current mood: betrayed

Catchy, isn’t it? This is what goes through my mind, as a breast cancer survivor’, about (oh, I don’t know) 20 times a day. Sure, it’s a fleeting thought, but still such a pain in the ass. Everyone thinks that once you are done with treatment (although I have four more Herceptins to go), you are safe and never have to worry about it again. Even better are those that think you get some sort of prize for being Stage 1. Like I was "lucky" to have any stage of it. There is no prize for Stage 1 breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a trickly little bugger. It can hide for months or years, and then rear it’s ugly little head and bite you. I function, and function quite well, but I wonder if I will always be contemplating each little pain, twitch and tickle. I have heard from other "survivors" that it dwindles as time goes by. However, I am impatient. Everyone thought I had such a positive outlook during chemo--no, I just can’t sit on my butt for 10 days and enjoy it. Good-ness, I am bitter.

I have begun saying, "I didn’t hate having cancer. I hate "having had" cancer." So, before you tell me how lucky I was, with any other regard than to having a wonderful family, friends, and business...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Getting off the Beast... Current mood: anxious

So...I had my last chemo 6 days ago. I am so "done" with it, but at the same time--it freaks me out to not have it working it's magic every three weeks. I think that anyone who has been diagnosed (especially) at an early age, worries that it will come back at some point. We have longer for it to come back, eh?

I don't want to live my life like that. I want to go back and erase it. Not a posibility, but we females are great at the art of denial, so I think I just might be able to swing it. Well, with the help of some meds.

I also wonder why I should be so blessed to survive this. I have known wonderful, sweet people who haven't. I have my flaws, and can't help but think that I am so much more flawed than they were. One thing I am trying to reconcile is that it (cancer) doesn't pick and choose.

Wednesday, September 7, 2007

Riding the Beast... Current mood: bitchy

Let's say your 34 years old, reading a book and decide to do a BSE (because you can't remember if you did one that month and while reading seems a good a time as any)...

What's the worst that can happen? Well, damned if you don't find a "lump", which turns out to be early stage breast cancer. Damn, that's a bummer way to start off a blog, eh?

If you are young (under 35, to be exact), they are pretty much going to advise you to do it all--slash, poison and burn. So, if you have the balls (or nips in this case), you go for it all. Slash is lumpectomy, poison is chemo (the beast) and burn is radiation. Two down, one to go.

It sucks ass, but you get to see 1, what you look like with no hair, and 2, what you look like with a faux-hawk. Bonus! Chemo is totally not for p*&&$s, but you do it and get on with life. Ten days of hell for ten years doesn't seem like a bad deal to me. However, you get to the point where you realize that you are actually letting someone poison you, with your permission no less.

If I'm feeling freaky this week, I'll post a scar photo--it's absolutely gorgeous.

So, here's the deal on cancer--someone has to get it. I have never asked "why me?", although I will admit I have asked, "why not someone else?". I am so going to hell. I think it's okay to wish it on someone else, not anyone specific of course. It's only natural to want SOME WAY to get out of it. You bargain, you plead, you beg. It doesn't just go away...

Ride the chemo beast if you have to, it probably won't kill you AND it will make you stronger.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Okay, so I am REALLY bad about updating this. However, since I finished chemo and have been feeling (almost) like myself again, I have spoken to and/or seen all of you! So, you really know how I am doing, yes?

I have a little pixie cut sans bangs. You do not realize how much a little bang can do for you until you don't have it! I think that once they are little longer, I won't feel like a chemo patient anymore. I had my hair (and eyebrows) colored copper red last week, and it is a BIG improvement over the mousey blonde/ash color that must be God-given. I did wear my red JCC wig to the Baron's Ball on Saturday night, which was a blast. Thanks to Debbie for the awesome video and to Pat for the "pannni".

Radiation sucks. I hate it worse than chemo. I am actually more worried about the side effects from radiation than I was about the side effects from chemo. Look them up, you would be, too. I most likely will not go the full cycle. Not because I don't think it is a valid treatment, but because I hate it, and think it is bullshit that I am being told I should do it. Once again on the QOL issue. I have to live with me after all of this, not anyone else. I have had three treatments, and they want me to have 30. That is every day for six weeks. Yes, I said every day and it is in Newnan. How in the hell am I supposed to work, be a parent and a wife, and do that shit? Sorry--I am not in a good mood tonight.

I did get weighed today, and I am down to 120 (from 135 after all of the steriods). I haven't been trying to loose weight, but I have 5 more to go to get back to where I was. Funny--my clothes don't seem to fit any better yet. Huh?

On a lighter front--some psycho is trying to pull me into a lawsuit that doesn't involve me. This could get very ugly. I don't think she realizes that I was a bitch before all of this, and my stubbornness and lack of acceptance of BS tolerance is lower than ever. She can kiss my lily-white. I could say more, but until I know the BC is really, really gone, I don't want to mess up my chances of seeing the pearly gates...

I do love all of you, though.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Okay--I am going to go on a little rant here...I have been reading on a website for young women with breast cancer for months! I was browsing around there tonight, and read their "official" position on doing a BSE. Well, it seems that they (and a few published medical sites) feel that BSEs don't "save lives". Now, they are talking about the traditional "do it this way, do it that way, do it this day of each month", but it reads just wrong! I don't do it at any particular time, but I did (and do) it often.

If I had not been "feeling myself up", which sounds more fun than "self breast exam", I WOULD NOT HAVE FOUND THE CANCER. Well, sure it would have been found:

-When I got around to going to the GYN again
-When it popped out of my chest
-When my lymph nodes under my arms were swollen like grapes
-When my eyes turned yellow from liver metastais
I would have found it.

The "official" position is to "know" your breasts. I'm sorry--doesn't that mean checking them? I am pissed the "f" off about this, only because if women read this, they will just assume going to the doctor once a year is going to catch anything. I should have been scheduled to go for an exam in late April--when I found the tumor, I had not scheduled anything. Would you want to wait 30 days, 2 weeks, 1 week, or 1 day to find what I did? Hell to the no, you wouldn't.

They also go on to give the traditional risk factors--family history, no children before age 30, no breastfeeding, blah, blah, blah. About 75% of all women with breast cancer have NO FAMILY HISTORY. If you don't have a family history, you aren't offered a mammogram before age 40 (which they also list as a way of detecting, duh). They also say that BSEs don't save lives (published Korean reports, or something). How can that be true, especially in my case (at least for now)?!? Oooo, I am not going to be able to sleep tonight.

I know many of you aren't doing BSEs even now, but please--schedule an appointment with your GYN, have him/her feel them up, you do the same while he/she is there, and do it at home often. My cancer might come back, it might not. However, being diagnosed at Stage 1 is better than 2, 3, or 4. Remember, there is no Stage 5 (Sopranos reference there, get it?).

Good love and good night.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Not too much to report...I had Herceptin by itself on Thursday. Other than (very quickly) asking for Ativan, it was uneventful. I have been working my tail off, trying to make up for lost time on all of the projects in the store. I guess life goes on, eh?

I go Friday for my radiation consultation. It is usually 5 days a week for 7 weeks. Yes, you read me right. Not sure how that is going to pan out. It is in Newnan, and you all know how I am about driving. How much Xanax do you think I can take (and drive) before it's illegal? They didn't say anything about the Tamoxifen (hormone pill), but I am sure it's coming...

The Cattle Baron's Ball is in November, and it should be a blast! If you can make it all, we are having a mini-shindig beforehand here at the house. Whoo-hoo! Just another excuse to have a cocktail...

I am already planning the birthday party for next May when all of this (hopefull and wistfully) is over!!!

Love to you all, and goodnight.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Well, I went to the oncologist's today, expecting to just get Herceptin, but ended up doing Herceptin and Carboplatin. No Taxotere--since that seemed to be the culprit for the nasty neuropathy and it was the drug that necessitated the use of steroids. It took about 3 hours or so...I had an Emend and Ativan via infusion (to go along with the Ativan I had already taken), so I was feeling "loopy" all afternoon. We were able to go to Serendipity for an hour or so to do some light work--it looks good in there, and it is going to look awesome when we finish!!!

I think I felt queasy, but it was most likely from the Ativan and not the Herceptin or Carboplatin. I came home, took a little nap, had a light dinner, and am now writing to you! We shall see how the next few days go.So, I did get a 6th round, albeit only 85% of my protocol, but I am officially DONE with chemo!!!

BTW, I went commando (w/o a wig or hat) at work yesterday, and no one blinked an eye. They must think I am just a risk taker or a very edgy kind of gal!

I go back on Day 10 for bloodwork (the last time I have to go back on Day 10) and then (three weeks from today) for Herceptin by itself. I will know then when to start Tamoxifen and schedule radiation.

Anyone out there want to carry a baby (or babies) for me? Just kidding for now!!! I am bound and determined to do it myself.

Much love!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Apparently, if you begin to loose the feeling in your feet and hands, and you see little green men when you take steroids, you get a hall pass on a round of chemo! Now let's just hope that the feeling comes back, and I don't have the psychosis anymore!

I will still be having my Herceptin (alone) on September 7, and will get that every three weeks (just like chemo) until next May. I think if I didn't have the Herceptin to do, the 6th round would still be on. The HER2 part of my tumor was the aggressive part, and the Herceptin targets specifically that. Herceptin is one of the new cancer drugs--it isn't chemo, but it targets the HER2 cancers. HER2 used to be (pretty much) a death sentence, but now it has a targeted therapy, so that's good! HER2- cancers are less aggressive, but all they have is chemo or Tamoxifen (which I will also begin for ER+).

I am relieved to be done. Todd said that I had done 4 more than he thought I would. :) If they had said that the neuropathy and SP weren't enough to cancel the last round, I would (of course), do it. Honestly though, I am SO GLAD there was no balking or trying to talk me otherwise. Unless Dr. Bender comes in on September 7 and says I have do it, chemo is going to be a distant memory in about 5.8 seconds.

Sunday, August 26 (I think, who knows?), 2007

Okay, I will know more on Tuesday night, but I think I am done. With chemo. Done. No more--not one more. I am not saying, "not ever", cuz you never know these things...

The neuropathy didn't seem to decrease with the reduced dosage of Taxotere, and it is spreading to my hands. Not good. Especially since I am attached to this lap-top like it's a key lime martini.

I figured out what was going on with the steroids. It is called "steriod psychosis". So, it wasn't just my hidden psycho rearing it's ugly head. There is really nothing that can be done about it--you have to have the steriods to have the chemo (unless you want an allergic reaction to kill you), and the only thing they can give you go combat the SP is heavy--lithium and the like. There is NO way I am going on lithium for one cycle of chemo. The problem with SP is that you CANNOT control your thoughts. I seriously (and no one freak out here) had to make myself stop thinking about committing suicide. Not because I wanted to kill myself, but because I couldn't stop myself from thinking about it. Sorry if that is confusing. I might be still experiencing a loss of words from the treatment.

So, when I go in for my blood work on Tuesday, I am going to ask them about not doing #6. If they balk at all, #6 might still be on, but if they agree, my life is KICK ASS. I found an article tonight, regarding a woman with severe side effects from chemo who felt that she could not do the last 2 (or 3, I can't remember). The article said that the first treatments are the most important with BC (not sure why, I will ask), and that getting through what she had was an accomplishment.

Therefore, I am not going to look at this like I am wussing out. I think I got through 5 really disgusting, ugly chemo treatments and now want to make sure I don't end up with lasting things that impair my quality of life. Todd and I were always concerned about the lasting effects, and being concerned from the get-go makes it easier to look at the situation now.

Chemo is supposed to be hard. It is supposed to suck. But nowadays, you are not supposed to just "accept" being impaired from it forever. Isn't the point of chemo to make your life longer, better, and happier? Well, I guess happier is "not dead" and better is "not dead", too.
Let's not get into the whole Heaven thing--I need to be here now, and there later. Muuuuch later.

Tuesday, August (WHAT?!?), 2007

So far, so good. My Mom is here with me (she brought Cooper back from the lake on Sunday), so I am not alone and she is NOT driving me craz-ier. She will be glad to hear it, I am sure.
Cooper is loving being back at school, especially since he gets to stay in after-care to play. A tired, cranky Mommy is not his first choice in the afternoons.

I am staying on the Ativan to keep me calm, and other than a hellacious reflux situation, I am hanging in there. I can't say for sure how the rest of the week will go, but I am not saying, "NO" to #6 yet. My hair seems to fall out in little blankets of snow here and there, but not today. I was kind of liking my little faux-haux. I did notice something kind of cool--the longest hairs on my head have alternating colors (dark, blonde, dark, blonde, dark, blonde, dark). It seems to be changing with each treatment. You know how they say you can see rings on a person's fingernails when they have been poisoned with arsenic? It's the same thing.

The texture is still the same--fine. It was getting on my nerves to hear people say, "Oh, maybe you will have curly hair now." #1, I don't think I ever lamented for curly hair, and #2, who the "f" would do chemo thinking that there is any kind of vanity bonus involved? LOL It's okay if you have mentioned to me that it might happen, it's others who think there is some PLUS side to what it does other than run down cancer cells.

I am stressed about the store--sales are about 30% down when I am not there (overall), and it is not the girl's fault. We just don't sell furniture or (especially) custom linens when I am gone, and those are big ticket items. Todd wants me to calm down and think like this will be over in 4 weeks, but he doesn't realize or remember that I have 7 weeks of radiation (5 days a week) after that, and then to finish the year with Herceptin every three weeks on my same Friday (it is only a 90-minute infusion), but combined with the tiredness of the radiation, I will probably still have to take off work! UGH. This is pissing me off. I am finally in the best location for the store, it is starting to look great, I have tons of new customers who actually BUY the clothes I stock, and this BS comes along to de-pimp my ride.

Okay, that's enough. Love you all.

P.S. If I don't call, or return calls, just understand that I am having a hard time collecting my thoughts and remembering what you might have just said to me!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Other than being in a generally pissy mood tonight, I am good. However, this is Day 1, and I always feel pretty good. Deanna came over and babysat me while Todd went to Paul Carroll's visitation/funeral. So sad...

We are also praying tonight for Ryan Lewis and his family (Carolyn, wife of Brian Jones is Ryan's aunt). He is such a precious little boy, and I hope my steroid and Ativan high keep me up a little late so that Deanna can text me on his progress.

I am also thankful that Kelly Dennis' mother, Kathleen is doing so much better. There are little miracles everywhere and these two families are very deserving of them...

Things like this keep what I am going through in perspective. Although I have felt like it during my "mentally challenged" days, I am not going to injure myself. Everyone has tragedies in their lives. From childhood to old age, we will suffer in one way or another.

However, that doesn't mean I am not pissy. I say that I only have three weeks to do on the chemo front, but it's really another 3 weeks and 10 days. It takes me 10 days to feel somewhat normal after a treatment. I am not looking at the glass half full, I am preparing myself to not be too optimistic on the recovery of chemo!!!

In case you are also wondering, I wanted to answer the most frequent questions I have been asked, and you are more than welcome to use them to answer questions anyone else might ask you about me.

1. I heard I/Krista/your friend/Todd's wife/Serendipity's owner/Cooper's Mom is "sick": I have never been "sick"--not from the cancer and not from the chemo. I found the lump myself during a regular monthly exam. I had a lumpectomy, not mastectomy (for all of those people who stare at my boobies when we talk) and SNB. It was not causing my boob to stick out more. The worst I have had with the chemo is swollen lymph nodes, skin irritations, some bathroom trips, acid reflux (no whole or chunked tomatoes, please) and neuropathy in my feet. I have not vomited, shook, or had to be hospitalized. My blood counts have been really good, and I only take a Neulasta injection after each chemo to protect me from infection. The lump was removed with clear margins (microscopically) and there was nothing in the lymph nodes, nor on the CT scan. I was lucky in all areas. It was Stage One, and you can consider that the Silver Medal in the Breast Cancer Olympics.

2. Although all of my hair has not fallen out, it has significantly thinned. While I had fine hair before, I had a lot of it, and you can see scalp most definitely. I hope it doesn't all go, as my little faux hawk looks cute when I fix it. I have lost 50-60% of my eyelashes, and some of my eyebrows. There are little eyelashes already growing in.

3. I am not, will not, and can't sell or close Serendipity Baby & Co. It has continued to run pretty smoothly, except for the occassional stinky customer, which we get rid of as fast as we can! LOL I meet with custom clients the Monday-Wednesday after I get back and have everything in the work shop by the following Thursday (before my next chemo round)

4. What's after this? I will continue to receive Herceptin (look it up) infusions every three weeks until May 25, 2007. This is not chemo, it is a monoclail (spelling is probaby so wrong there) antibody. They will want me to start radiation several weeks after I finish chemo, but I have to speak with the RAOD about some concerns I have. I will let you know. They also want me to take Tamoxifen for either two years (stop and have a baby) then back on for 3 more years, or a full 5 years. That is also an ongoing topic of discussion with me, and I will let you know! There really isn't any other follow- up, except for mammograms every 6 months, which I will have. I am also going to request a breast MRI, and follow-up CT scan after I finish Herceptin.
Cooper started back to school on Monday, and he is still at Rising Star Montessori. He loves it there, and they love him!

I am going to try to upload some new photos tonight. We shall see.

If I am cohearant over the weekend, I will update you. Thanks for checking in--having an intelligent conversation gets a bit rough for me in the next few days.

Also, shop at Serendipity Baby & Co.!!! Just kidding, thought I needed some shameless self-promotion! I crack myself the F up sometimes

Monday, June 23, 2007

Okay. I am really bad about updating this, but when you only have 11 days a month to feel normal, you use that time to the fullest extent with "living"!

After my third treatment, Todd, Cooper & I spent the weekend at Pat & Kelly's cabin (it's not a cabin, it's a friggin' nice house) with Butch & Connie. All of their childrens were there, and Cooper had a blast. I pretty much just sat (and ate-a LOT), but it was better than just sitting at home. Connie cooked for us all weekend, and I am not sure what I am going to do without a personal chef after this next treatment...

It took me a full 9 days after treatments 1 and 2 to feel normal again. For number 3, I was feeling pretty good by Wednesday. A full 5 days earlier. Cooper's birthday party was on the 14th, and I felt great! My Daddy (Jackson) and stepmother (Phoebe) came in on Wednesday and stayed until Sunday. It was wonderful to see them and to get to spend time with them. It was even better for Cooper to have that opportunity. We hadn't seen them in almost 2 years, and it was just like he had seen them a week before!

This Friday (July 27) is treatment 4. I am really dreading it's after-effects. I DO NOT convalesce very well, especially when I have a child to take care of and a store to get back to!!! I think I make myself a little crazy fighting it. Craz-ier.

So, I am more than halfway done. In 6 weeks and 4 days, I hope to never have to do this again. To be honest, I have my doubts, but I refuse to prattle on about it here. Except for this, and keep it a secret: I really don't have a positive attitude. I am truly pissed off that I have to do this at all. I am pissed off that I have to worry about my son living without me. I am pissed off that I had a sore throat for two days and was sure it was another cancer. There, that's all I am going to rage about for now.

On the lasting side effect front, I have been having pretty intense neuropathy (tingling, some numbness) in my feet, which could either a) change my dosage or b) end chemo early. I haven't spoken with Dr. Bender about it yet, but the PA made a comment indicating same/or.
My hair goes through cycles: it falls out, it grows, it falls out, it grows. I have 4 really cool wigs, which are not irritating enough to not wear them. I haven't shaved my legs in almost two weeks and have nothing but a bit of fuzz.

I still have 17 of the 19 pounds I have put on, and none of my pants fit me. I refuse to buy more, so it's skirts and dresses most days. The bonus is that I don't have a wrinkle one on my face...
My feet and cuticles look like crap. Oh, wait. My feet and cuticles always look like crap, so I can't play the chemo card on that one.

Thanks for signing the guestbook. It means a lot to me to just see your names there. If I gave you this site addy, it's because you mean something to me. It's a short list, I assure you.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

This doesn't feel like the first weekend after chemo--not worse, not better, just different. I am tired, but can't tell if that is chemo or medication, or even mentally related.

However, my hair is falling like snow. Well, not snow. It is pretty damn dark. Who know what color it really is? I haven't seen that since I was 15 and first used Sun-In at Deanna's pool. Neither of us looked really good after that experience. We "expressed" shades of orange and gold...

Debbie, from The Memory Cottage portrait studio (who has always taken Cooper's pictures and displays in the store) went with us. She is just awesome, and has a fabulous idea about this whole experience of mine. More later..

I picked up the DVD of the pictures from the party. Both that I shared it with laughed and cried. It is that good. Debbie is awesome x2. More on this later, too...

Well, it's late and I need to try to sleep. Please sign the guestbook if you visit so that I feel very, very, very loved right now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Worked again today. The store has been doing awesome, which must be God's way of cutting me some slack during all of this. I haven't had too much sympathetic overload from customers who "know"--just a general interest and well wishes, which I can handle. You all know how I hate to be fawned over when something is really wrong. I only want attention when I am being melodramatic!

I am getting a bit nervous about Friday. Honestly, I am terrified that this time will be TOTALLY different and much worse (in some unforeseen Wes Craven kind of way). We shall see...

I also have to say that even though I took the iniative and had my head shaved, it still sucks that it is starting to come out. Some very little part of me was hoping that maybe I would be an anomoly and bypass that part. Par for the course, and not a damn thing I can do about it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Still feeling awesome. I worked today and will be going in until Friday, for round 2. On a light note, my hair has started coming out. Well, I have to give it a little tug, but it's coming out nonetheless.

Todd and I went out Saturday night, and a good time was had by all.

The worst thing that happened to me was taking the time to watch the season finale of The Sopranos. WTF?!? Like millions of other people, I thought the satellite had gone out, and I started raising hell. No, that was the end. If anyone can get me David Chase's home address, I would like to send him a hate letter.

Saturday, June 2, 2007 PART DEUX

If this doesn't update this time, I am just going to say "f**k it" and move on. I have tried four times to save about 10 paragraphs and my patience is wearing thin.

Okay, so here is how it broke down:
Friday: surreal, no side effects but a panic attack that made me nauseous (a pro-something took care of that)
Saturday: surreal, a bit "disconnected"; went shopping and by Patti's house
Sunday: disconnected; went shopping (do you see a pattern here?)
Monday: disconnected, tired, some bone pain (from the Neulasta)
Tuesday: IN HELL. I literally felt like I was coming out of my skin. I called Todd and told him to come home before I hung myself from a tree in the back yard. We realized it was me coming down from the steriods that was making me crazy...crazier as it may be. The nurse said that they would change the steroid protocol next time to dose me down.
Wednesday: Better, but still a little freaked out from yesterday.
Thursday: I would have sworn I had the flu--sore throat, achiness, headache. I told Laurie Ann that I didn't think I could do this 5 more times. The nurse told me to treat it like I would a cold/flu, so I did. I felt better by that afternoon.
Friday: Good.
Saturday: Better. Feel hung over.
Sunday: Even better. Still feel slightly hung over. Did we go out with Pat & Kelly on Friday night and I just don't remember?!?
Monday: I felt completely normal. Completely normal. I went for my Day 10 blood test (to make sure my blood counts were good), and they were all within normal range, except that I am a bit anemic. I have been anemic on and off for as long as I can remember, so no biggie. She mentioned "passing out", but I chose to ignore that part. Don't want to throw myself into a panic attack about possibly passing out and then pass out.

The rest of the week was AWESOME. I felt like I had never had chemo at all.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

That SUCKED ASS. Today is Day 9 after my first treatment, and I am just feeling semi-normal. I woke up with a shit-eating grin on my face this morning--it felt like waking up after having a horrible flu for a week, and knowing it was getting better. Even still, I am not back "on".
I have been telling friends that I am in awe of the fact that I signed a piece of paper giving permission to be poisoned. That is just basically it, you know? I don't understand how someone could NOT know their spouse is trying to poison them. It is not like anything any of you (I hope) will ever experience. How could it not be apparent that there is something just wrong going on?!? That Lynn Turner must have been a really, really, really bad cook to begin with.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Okay, so Friday was Day 1, Treatment 1, 5 more to go. We were late, as usual, but it was the last day of school and we both wanted to be able to drop Cooper off!

We got there about 8:20 and were in the infusion room around 8:40. I started with 1 or 2 saline drips, then on to Herceptin. I think I had an infusion of Emend (or something similar for nausea) and Benadryl. I also had 2 Tylenol. During the Herceptin (90 minutes), we met with Dr. Bender. He is pretty cool, but I don't think he gets that I am doing this for two reasons: 1, to live, and 2, to have another child. Maybe more on this later, maybe not.

After the Herceptin was done, and I had eaten a full breakfast (during the infusion, no less) I started Taxotere. This is the drug that requires steriod premedication, and which kind of freaked me out therefore. About 10 minutes into it, I think I had a panic attack. We had to stop for a few minutes, as the symptoms of a Taxotere (Taxol derivitive) are pretty much the same as a PA. An infusion of Ativan, and I was good to go again. I had lunch (steriod hunger rage was kicking in), and after Taxotere was Carboplatin. I didn't feel anything really with any of them. I got a shot of Neulasta and I was out the door. This "out the door" began at 8:20 a.m., and ended at 2:20 p.m. It won't take this long each time--the Herceptin and Taxotere are infused at half the rate the first time to see how it goes.

All in all, the first treatment wasn't horrible. I hope I am not kicking myself in the ass by saying that. Meaning that all the rest could be the total nightmare I had envisioned!!! We shall see.
Friday I just felt "out of it", more surreal than anything. My mind was racing, but my body felt liked it weighed 200 lbs. I ate like a horse, and tried to walk the cul-de-sac. I made it to Mikki's mailbox and had to sit on the curb. Anna came by to "babysit" me while Todd ran a few errands. I did have a beer, but it wasn't all that relaxing.

Saturday I had a ton more energy, and got about 10 loads of laundry done, as well as hanging artwork, doing dishes, and (once again) eating like a horse. I think I am getting the steriod "moon face", but Todd disagrees. He says I look "beautiful". Ah-hmmm. Bo, Holly, and George brought us a mountain of food from Honeybaked Ham, but I was crashed out the entire time they were here. Jon and Eric came over that night, bringing WARM CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES, which I had been craving. Is this how "Terrell" always felt? You have to get that reference to understand that joke, and I am not about to go explaining it to you if you don't!

More update on the weekend later...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tomorrow I turn 35. What does that really mean? For me, having had breast cancer, it means that 6 weeks from discovery to my birthday put me in a higher risk category. Really--the difference in percentages for recurrence without chemo was 13%. I am going to be pissed off if I wake up tomorrow without a hot flash or something. Does the body really know the difference in 6 weeks, or in a birth day? I think it is totally BS, but chemo starts on Friday and I am done rationalizing.

I am not sure how I feel about Friday. I go from denial (I will be fine, no problems), to panicking (am I going to vomit for a straight week?), to being scared (what if IT kills me, and not the cancer coming back), to just not thinking about it at all (I just had a nasty little old woman customer come in the store, and yes--I called her a name after she left).

Todd and I have to be there at 8:15 a.m., and should be done by 12:15 or so. Is it horrible that I am already thinking I am going to be jonesing for a smoke during the entire thing? Really--I am hoping that all of this makes ciggies taste horrible to me and I can quit for good. Don't place your bets, folks.