Fitness Friends Host a Chemo Party

Chemo PartyThis time last year I was going through my first rounds of aggressive chemo. Today, I am leaving you with a short excerpt from my journal, The Journey of My Jugs. My support system, otherwise known as my Fitness Friends, helped me through many milestones. This excerpt is about the party they hosted just days before my treatment began. Thank you Fitness Friends, and thank you to the rest of you for following my journey and supporting me along the way.


After I found out my chemo schedule, my Fitness Friends hosted a chemo party. A party for chemo may sound odd, trust me, it was a good thing. We gathered at 5:30 p.m. at Sarah’s house and talked and laughed. I enjoyed food that night like a hiker who had traversed a 14er with nothing more than a few dried fruits and nuts. I knew food may be an issue in the coming months, so I savored every bite.

The party took my buzzing mind off of the looming chemotherapy. My friend Kellie brought her five week old baby. I am not a baby person because I feel like I might break them. Their little heads bobble around and they make me nervous. Plus, they might poop, vomit or sneeze and that was out of my realm of comfort. However, the little bundle brought hope to that party. Her innocence and hope made me giddy. The baby was passed around like a bong at a frat house. Everyone wanted a little piece of the innocence and no one wanted to give her up to the next person. I sat in awe checking out the tiny little toes and toe nails. She was beautiful and perfect.

The food line started with me. I filled my plate and walked out to the patio. It was a gorgeous fall evening. Everyone had their chance to give life updates. We discussed vacations, jobs, childbirth and so many things. We laughed and laughed, and for the first time in a while, I was happy. I was happy to have another day on the planet with so many beautiful women by my side.

I wanted to remember to take advantage of those days. Savor each moment and learn to be grateful for everything. I have heard cancer changes your life. Cancer made me slow down and be grateful. My life was filled with so many things to be grateful for.


Have a beautiful day!


That’s One Stubborn Drain

Last week was my first post-chemo appointment with my oncologist. I am happy to report I am healthy and cancer-free. Below is an excerpt from my journal, The Journey of My Jugs. This piece illustrates the difficulty I had with my drain removal soon after surgery.


My days began to run into each other. I continued doing arm wall walking exercises and strolled through my neighborhood every day. My mom taught me how to empty my right drain before she left.  I did laundry and a few chores around the house. I took naps and made myself food, and I wondered how long Righty, my right drain, was going to stay with me.

By day 12 I was concerned, but I kept draining the fluid and asking for patience and healing from the universe. In my head, I apologized for telling the nurse I wanted to leave the right drain securely attached because of the excruciating pain I felt when the left one was removed. I felt like I had jinxed ole Righty.

Day 15 arrived. I was angry. I was still producing about 30 ml of fluid, and I needed to be below that for at least two straight days. The first drain did not come out without a fight. She thrashed and yelled and screamed and cried—oh, wait a minute…that was me. The eight inch cord that came out of my left breast was extremely painful to remove, and I wholeheartedly believe she scared the living shit out of Righty.

Righty was now hanging on for dear life. No matter what I told her, she didn’t want to come out. I promised I would take pain pills and a Valium for the removal, so it would be painless. She insisted on producing fluid and staying comfortably wrapped inside my chest cavity.


I’m looking forward to working with Editor, Allison Roe. She will be consulting with me as I piece together journal entries and begin writing a manuscript.


Road to Recovery

My road to recovery, and my battle against cancer started one year ago today. At this time last year, I was recovering from a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. When I woke up from my five hour surgery, I was surrounded by my husband, my parents, and my dear friend Katie. Katie, a nurse at the same hospital, pulled some strings to get me a large, private room at the end of a quiet hall so I could rest peacefully through the night.

Here’s a brief excerpt from my journal entries I affectionately call, The Journey of My Jugs.


Waking up from surgery was a blur. I remember opening my eyes to find my family sitting in a large private hospital room at the end of a hallway. The surgery lasted five hours, two more hours than they planned. While my plastic surgeon was finishing his handiwork, the pathology report came back from the lab with devastating news. There were trace amounts of cancer found in three lymph nodes. The lab insisted on removing more lymph nodes so they could be tested.

As I looked around my room, I reminded my mom of the three magic questions I wanted her to answer when I woke up from surgery. Was I alive or dead? Did they go straight to implants or did they use expanders? Did they find cancer in the lymph nodes? I was alive, and they were able to go straight to implants instead of having to go through the pain of expanders. (Expanders are temporary fluid sacks filled weekly so the skin can stretch slowly. Apparently, I had ample skin leftover to stuff and sew.) I was so happy to hear this news, but she had saved the worst news for last. The cancer was found in my lymph nodes. They removed several nodes; the surgeon wasn’t able to guess how many were taken. The news crushed my spirit for a moment. I couldn’t find any tears to go along with the disappointment, so I smiled and reminded myself to be grateful for another day on this planet. I am sure the anesthesia helped bring a smile to my face as well.


Thank you for stopping by and reading a part of my journey.


False Hope

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, so I’m sharing a few paragraphs from The Journey of My Jugs. The following excerpt takes place a few of weeks after I was diagnosed. There was a brief moment when we thought my cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, and I was given good news for a change.


Chapter 9: Good News

While I waited for the biopsy results, I tried to continue living a normal life. I tried to exercise and go to work and pretend my life was perfect. I received the phone call around 3 p.m. on a Friday. It was good news for a change; the first good news in four weeks. There were no traces of cancer in the lymph node they biopsied. I let out a sigh, smiled and started to cry—finally, some tears of joy.

That weekend, my thoughts were spiraling. I imagined the pain I would suffer after the double mastectomy. I realized the importance of having a grateful heart. I saw the importance of rest; working seven days a week wasn’t healthy. Most importantly, I realized I needed to start paying attention to my husband, who some days I wondered why he stayed with me.

I learned so many valuable lessons early in my journey. I learned to be grateful for the body I had because it could change in a heartbeat. I needed to stop criticizing my plump and dimpled rump, my short legs, my saggy boobs and my squishy tummy. Instead of criticizing her, I needed to love my beautiful body because it was merely housing my soul. I needed to spend more time creating a more beautiful soul.

A part of my body was about to be banished forever, and I wanted to hold on tight and tell her how sorry I was for treating her so poorly. But, it didn’t matter. She didn’t care. She was going to change whether I liked it or not.


Unfortunately, when I went in for surgery, cancer was found in my lymph nodes. I had 18 nodes removed at the time of surgery, which subsequently led to 25 radiation treatments. I am still undergoing physical therapy because of this.

A big thank you to all of you who continue to follow my journey and who continue to support me. You are all loved and appreciated more than you know.

Have a great week!


Finding Strength

The latest excerpt from my journal entries I affectionately call, The Journey of My Jugs, is an account of one of the many post-diagnosis appointments. When I received the dreaded diagnosis, I sat alone in the doctor’s office and promised myself I would have someone by my side for as many appointments as possible.


I went into the clinic at 11 a.m. I had to fast before this procedure, and I was completely parched by the time the appointment started. Adlai sat next to me, and I realized how important it was to have him there. I almost started bawling in the waiting room. Tears welled up in my eyes as they have done many times since I was diagnosed. I wondered if tear ducts dried up.  Maybe I have an overactive tear-maker. There was a large, wheezing woman who sat across from us. I wondered if she had to fast. I wondered if she was just as thirsty as I was.

The phlebotomist called my name and asked for my birthdate. She took me back to a small private room. The chair was so high my feet barely reached the floor. She started asking what the weather was like probably because she could sense my fear of needles. “3-2-1 little stick,” she said.

Little stick my ass. That hurt. How big was the needle? It was less of a pin prick and more like a burning gouge. Maybe my veins were upset too. My whole body felt ravaged, so I imagined my veins were affected too. Every fiber of my being was trying to hold it together, still trying to grasp the devastating news and the positive in all of this.

I walked out with a small, white, gauze bandage around the gouge. Adlai was sitting alone. The plump woman was gone. He noticed the tears running down my cheeks, so he played a cat video on Youtube. I stopped crying, and started giggling at the kitties doing silly stunts. I looked at him and smiled. “Thank you,” I said softly. “I love you.”

“We’re going to get through this. Be strong. I know you have it in you, but you have to be the one to find it,” he said.


Throughout my journey, he always had the right words, or the right cat videos to help ease some of the pain and the stress.

Does anyone else use cat videos for a laugh?

Breast Cancer Diagnosis: A Wave of Sadness

When I was diagnosed at age 42 with stage 3 breast cancer, I knew I wanted to write a book about the journey. I knew the writing process would be cathartic for me, and I wanted the end result to inspire others tackling breast cancer or adversity of any kind.

One in eight women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer in their lifetime, so another goal I have for this book is to bring more awareness to younger women. It’s so important to do your monthly breast exams and to make that appointment for your first mammogram when you turn 40.

Many of you may have followed me on my CaringBridge site for the weeks following my diagnosis. I mused about my double mastectomy, the strength and courage I was given from family and friends, shaving my head, and a few other milestones.

The next few paragraphs are from my first journal entries, moments after I received the dreaded breast cancer diagnosis.


There was still no fighting the tears and the ugly cry that had taken over me, so I called my husband Adlai, and I heard those famous words, we’ll get through this together. Another wave of sadness hit me. One deeper than anything I have ever felt. I haven’t been giving our relationship the time it deserved; instead I have been working full-time and picking up freelance writing jobs to grow my byline. My weekends were filled with writing assignments while my week nights were filled with teaching fitness classes or preparing for 5k and 10k races. I made my husband entertain himself. I felt like a terrible wife. Now, I was a terrible wife with cancer and a pity party was already in progress.

What would I say on my deathbed? I would tell him to find someone else, to remember me, but find someone else to love. I would tell him to find someone who will share a hunting experience with him, someone who loves to ride in boats that go really fast, someone who is a better wife than me.

I sobbed the entire way home. I felt like there was no hope for a new life after cancer even though my doctor was positive about my prognosis. My doctor drank from the glass that was half full, while I was drinking pulp at the bottom of a glass.


I hope you enjoyed this passage from The Journey of My Jugs. Be on the lookout for future posts that include more excerpts from my book. If you want to read more, please check out my CaringBridge site for longer passages.