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MORE THOUGHTS POST-KOMEN

On the MetroRail back to Hermann Park, I sat next to a group of nurses who worked for the doctor who gave me the news that I had breast cancer. I remembered how she told me that everything was going to be fine, that I was going to survive this, though I was crying and wondering, “why me?”

I told the nurse the short version of this story, and to tell Doctor N that she was right and that I was grateful for how she handled the most difficult and darkest diagnosis of my life.  

She and her fellow nurses cheered. They love their boss and she was forever a part of my breast cancer story.

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THE KOMEN WALK 2013

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Today, I walked my second full Komen for the Cure event in Houston with my co-workers and friends. The day started early, before dawn. Anyone who knows me knows I am dedicated to something to get up that early!

As a breast cancer survivor, the Komen Walk has a different meaning for me than others that participate in this event. Others walk for people they lost to breast cancer, to support the cause, or just to participate.  For me, the Komen Walk is a way to celebrate my cancer’s demise and the effort of rising up afterward and moving forward.

As the thousands gather at the starting line to walk, they are excited to get moving and tackle that 5K.  Some are somber as they remember those they’ve lost, the ones they are there to honor.  Today, I was reflective of how far I’ve come and the people I was there to represent (see above photo).

The walk was a bit more challenging for me than I thought it would be. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds, I am working out and I prepared by hydrating this morning and eating a power bar. I was ready. I do as much cardio in the pool each week. After completing the second mile, however, my legs were like jello and I was running out of steam.

Our pack of walkers had spread out and I was lagging behind, trying to keep a steady pace.  The sun was hot, and the temps were climbing into the 90’s.  Hydrating with such a small stomach is a new challenge.  I am grateful Dora and Glenda slowed down a bit and kept me going.

Along the route, I was greeted by several volunteers to cheer me on as well. I tried, as much as possible, to thank those volunteers for coming out and doing something so important. Encouragement is so needed during an event like this. Whenever the volunteers heard the words, “thank you,” they seemed to perk up a bit. They were out in the hot sun with us, too.

A lady ran up behind me and saw the sign I was wearing that said, “Beating cancer runs in my family.” She said she’d buried 7 family members from breast cancer and if she got it, she knew her fate. I started to ask her if she’d had the BRCA gene test but she jogged off, alone.  Another pair of ladies in front of me wore a photo from 2011’s walk with their friend JoJo, who died last summer. This is what breast cancer does. This is what breast cancer is.  Breast cancer robs people of loved ones and friends.

When I reached the Survivor’s Row, where they called my name and how long I’ve been a survivor, I was so grateful I’d made this journey again. After our group dispersed Reagan and I went to the Survivor’s Celebration so I could pick up my Survivor’s Flag and some swag.

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By the time I got home and soaked in a hot tub, I was exhausted! I am so grateful I had this experience again and it is truly different every time!

ImageThis is me after the race as we went to lunch. I am as tired as I look in this photo, but very happy with where my journey has brought me. I am a woman on a mission. Breast cancer didn’t defeat me, and every day I’m grateful and more determined to live life to its fullest!

Though this particular work event was not about me, I am so grateful to have had a team to walk with this year! Thank you MAN Diesel & Turbo for allowing this and for Alejandra Bohorquez for putting the team together!

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SUPPORT THE “LADIES!”

On October 5th, I will join a team of my co-workers, their family and friends in the Komen Walk/Race for the Cure.  As a breast cancer survivor, I am eager to walk the 5K and thrilled to have so many people I know participate. 

I work for MAN Diesel & Turbo, known around the world for making, servicing and repairing diesel engines of all sizes.  Our current slogan is “We are your MAN!” Our team slogan is, “We support the Ladies.” Very playful and tasteful. I cannot wait to wear the shirt!

As someone personally affected by breast cancer, raising awareness and funds for a cure is extremely important to me. I hope that you can find $5, $10, $15…$20 dollars in your pocket to donate. I know some people have philosophical differences with the Susan G Komen foundation.  I ask that you think of me, or my mother, or my grandmother, or my aunts and cousins who have had breast cancer – some winning the battle, others not.  I don’t wish the breast cancer journey on anyone. That is why the support of the race for the cure and breast cancer awareness is important regardless.  Just because a percentage goes to something you do not agree with, think of the percentage that does.

If you would like to donate, please visit our team page here:  http://rfch.convio.net/site/TR/Race/General?team_id=53242&pg=team&fr_id=1170.  I will update you after the race with the story and photos.

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DETOURS AND ORANGE BARRELS

Last week, during the waning days of Suckuary, I received a phone call from my OB/GYN. While I love Dr. E, whenever she calls me, it’s not always good news.

Very gently, Dr. E started to explain, in detail, the results of my ultrasound.  Turns out my uterus is 5.5. I have no idea what that means, but Dr. E explained that a uterus of 5 is not good so a 5.5 means surgery. She explained I am full of fibroids and then moved on to one of my ovaries and explained it was full of a lot of something, likely cysts.

Dr. E then said the word I have dreaded since I had breast cancer and started taking Tamoxifen – hysterectomy.  

While I’ve known for years now if I ever became a mother this child would likely not have my genes, hearing the word hysterectomy turned the blood in my veins ice cold.  A hysterectomy makes this my-gene-less child a reality. Final. Case noisily and painfully closed.

Let me interject here that I am totally fine with adoption and have had it on my mind for years. My niece and nephew are adopted and I love them and I’m grateful they are part of my family.

Adoption, however, became uber complicated the minute I leapt into my forties, remained unmarried and slammed into a breast cancer diagnosis.  Whenever I’ve contemplated adoption, I have envisioned riding a camel through an eye of a needle or finding a Camel cigarette in a haystack. Either way the journey to motherhood now appears painful, long and tedious.

Dr. E’s insistence that the surgery happen sooner rather than later didn’t help my spirits. I’ve been waiting to be approved for bariatric surgery. I have been waiting since August and have had to file an appeal because my sleep apnea number wasn’t high enough and I was TWO pounds underweight for an automatic approval. This situation illustrates what’s wrong with the insurance industry. 

I am a big believer in timing and that life unfolds as it should, so now, knowing I had to get a hysterectomy, I finally understood why I had to wait for weight loss surgery. Nevertheless, that did not stop me from contacting Vice Presidents and other people high up the food chain at the insurance company and telling them my story and asking them for help with my appeal. (By the way, if I don’t hear from you by Friday, we’re doing it all over again).

I’m having a hysterectomy as soon as next week. Not sure exactly when, but I’ll let you know. An oncologist will be present during surgery and will let Dr. E know whether cancer is present.  She doesn’t think it’s cancer, but with my history and Tamoxifen we have to be sure.  I have to get bloodwork done tomorrow and I’m sure time will fly faster than I want it to pass. Then I will be uterus-less and only have one remaining ovary and I will move on to the next phase of my life.  

My childless life.

While I’m sad that I will never carry a child, or even be granted the official title of Mother, God has reminded me of how many young people I’ve “mothered” and mentored and befriended. The word mother doesn’t include the word uterus and I still have a lot of years left to see how God is going to work everything out in this area of my life.

So many have expressed their sadness over, “no babies.” I appreciate it, but my life is not over because I have no child (and yes, there are moments I have to re-convince myself of this). I try not to think of what I don’t have in my life, I think about what I do have. I have many “children.” I have many friends.  I have a great family.

My life is very, very full, even if my uterus never was.  

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LIVE STRONG

Just a few short weeks ago, a co-worker rode 65 miles in the LiveStrong race in Austin.  I knew she was going to participate, what I didn’t know is that she race in my honor (and others). This young woman is a remarkable, loving, caring single mother and she is stronger than I think even she knows. She juggles motherhood, work, and college and still finds time to inspire and care for others. Thank you, Mack, for your kind and caring gesture. It means more than you know!