Milestones

I’ve been struggling this month, facing the reality that my baby is no longer my baby.  I’ve been seeing all these milestones she is passing….and they are the last time any of my kids will pass them.  It’s making me all weepy and I feel like a crazy cry baby.  It’s so freaking hard to look at her and not see my youngest little baby girl.  She is now a sassy, smart, and too big for her own good kid.  On her way to kindergarten.  Ugh!!!!!!!

I posted recently about my struggle to be come a mom, and how blessed I am to have my three amazing daughters…….and that was the start of an emotional rollercoaster that I can’t seem to get off.  MY BABY ISN’T A BABY ANYMORE!!!!!  None of my girls are babies anymore….my oldest is starting act a lot older than I’m ready for her to be!  And even though I’m so happy to be in this stage where they don’t need me as much……I find myself asking……why don’t the need me as much?  I’m all over the place with this!  I know I’m not the only one…..but this is making me feel crazy!

I’m so happy for my baby as she graduated from preschool…..but I’m not so happy that she’s not really a baby anymore.  I know……just wait until high school graduation.  I have  a few years to go on that…..but if my blog is still up at that point…..you will get the same post about my teary eyed self with much older babies 🙂

Katie 🙂

Every Spring….

Every fall I find myself feeling the same way I did when I started chemo.  That nauseous feeling….just that general uneasiness that came with putting poison in your body.  Without fail….every fall…..I’ll have that feeling for a bit.  The same thing happens in the spring….but for a very different reason.  Every May I would find out I’m pregnant…..and morning sickness would come with it.  I have 3 beautiful daughters….so looking back it wasn’t so bad, but my 3 miracle daughters didn’t come easily….and the journey was also filled with heartbreak.  And it’s crazy….that I can actually show the timeline of my pregnancy journey with pictures from when I would go to relay for life.

I was given the go ahead to try for a family after my 5 year mark.  I wasn’t sure how it would go, there were no guarantees…..but we would try!  I had gone in to menopause during treatment, but seemed to come back to normal when it was done.

The first time I found out I was pregnant…..I can’t even describe the excitement we felt!  Like all our dreams were coming true and cancer hadn’t done anything to me!  We were beyond thrilled and even put together special ways to announce it to our families.  We were making plans, going over names, dreaming of the future.  It was just perfect.  But I should have known…..life had already shown me what happens when you think everything is perfect and nothing can go wrong.

I was extremely happy to tell my oncologist’s office….this was their victory too.  This was a big deal, and they were also so happy!  When I attended the Relay for Life that year…not only did I get to celebrate with all those people from the office, but hear my oncologist speak! He’s a brilliant man and he even made a little comment about me….of course didn’t mention my name….but it meant a lot.  The pic below is the moment I realized he was talking about me.

 

Sadly……that day…..I miscarried.  It was ironic that it happened that day…..and it was beyond devastating.  I figured I’d done something wrong….no matter what the books said…..I was sure I did this.  Why would something like that happen after all we had gone through?  It was so extremely unfair and heartbreaking.  I don’t know what our families did with the items we gave them to announce our good news….but thankfully I’ve never seen them again.  We actually tried again really soon, got pregnant, and miscarried again that same year.  Then I took time off.  It was so hard to prepare my heart for the possibility of losing another baby.

So we waited.  Until the year our first child would have been born.  Like I said….we never had any trouble getting pregnant.  It was keeping the pregnancy.  We found out that my progesterone was not staying high enough during the first trimester.  So they put me on a supplement.  A magic pill that “kept me pregnant”.  That’s how it felt, and let me tell you…..that is the only pill I’ve ever taken regularly and not missed a day.  It was hard to stop when they told me I was safe…..and I took them until they ran out.

So my third pregnancy….I was so scared to go to Relay.  It’s funny how you associate things or circumstances with what you have gone through.  The irrational part of my brain was sure that Relay was causing me to miscarry…..I KNOW THAT IS CRAZY!  But….you know how it is.  So yes….I was terrified and actually went to the bathroom every five seconds (it felt like) to make sure all was well.  This is us that year……along with my amazing oncologist and his also amazing wife…..the medical team that saved me and cheered me on!

 

And in February 2008 we welcomed our miracle baby to the world.  It was a journey that was so difficult, heartbreaking, devastating, and overwhelming.  I know that we are extremely blessed to have the outcome we did….not everyone is as fortunate.  img_2035

Getting to bring her to Relay the year she was born felt like a huge victory! Like laughing in the face of evil cancer……like….here she is.  We did it.  You didn’t steal this from me.  That survivor lap was the happiest one I’d taken since my first.

417894_10151477593018509_1210022181_n

We were blessed with 2 more daughters along the way, and even though our last was never part of our Relay life, (as we stopped attending), it was special to be able to bring our girls to the event and celebrate the entire journey and the way life has turned out.  I didn’t know if I would survive cancer.  I didn’t know if we could have kids.  I didn’t know if we would be able to have our own kids.

Everything we have gone through has shown us just how precious life is.  How blessed we are.  Every single day with these dorky crazy mini versions of us is just pure happiness!  We just celebrated Mother’s Day…..and admittedly I had to stop and cry when I typed that.  I’m so extremely blessed to be a mom….my girls are the most amazing and beautiful thing that I’ve ever had a part in creating…..and even though my journey to becoming a mom as so hard…..I can look back and say it was so worth it.

 

Katie 🙂

No Words….Just Tears…and Remembering

This is a post I’ve been thinking about since I started this blog.  I’ve started it, deleted it, started it again….and nothing ever sounds right.  And that is because the subject of this blog isn’t right…or fair…..and honestly just so heartbreaking.

Today is the 2 year anniversary of the day I lost my friend, mentor, and pink sister.  She was one of my heroes.  And I had something amazing written…..finally……and lost it all due to a computer glitch.  Maybe that was better…..to keep my words and just share what I was hoping to add.

I’m going to post the video we created for all the pink events.  This was the day I met Denise….and started a relationship, friendship, and partnership that I’m so extremely grateful for.

So here are my good memories of Denise…..even though today I will be reflecting on mostly the sadness…..I always want to remember the happiness.  She would want it that way.

Katie

 

Lymphedema Sucks

Anyone who’s had lymph nodes removed knows there is a chance you will develop lymphedema sometime in the future.  Not everyone does…but many do. I had 18 lymph nodes removed ,and 13 of them were positive for cancer. I’m not sure exactly when I noticed any changes, but it did happen to me.  The worst I remember was when I was pregnant with my first child….I remember just how swollen my arm and hand were.  I lovingly referred to it as my Popeye arm….it was awful.  You can see here just how bad it was….I felt like a monster.  Thankfully with the help of therapy, it got back down to a “normal” swollen state that I could live with.

img_2035

Over the years I’ve lived with my permanently swelled arm.  I’ve stretched out clothes, can’t wear most button up shirts (tight sleeves), can’t wear watches, and sadly….I can no longer wear my actual wedding ring.  I’ve resorted to buying various wedding rings at any location I can find and I wear them until they turn my finger green or fall apart.  It’s sad, but this is my life.

I don’t have many flare ups…..I have to take precautions with exercise, I shouldn’t be in hot tubs, and I should be wearing a sleeve to help prevent additional swelling.  That last one…..I’m not so good at.  Really bad at.  Like a toddler…..bad.

When I went through therapy I had to wrap it with all sorts of gauze and bandages every night at day.  It was HORRIBLE!!!  I hate feeling constricted and uncomfortable.  The sleeves make me feel that way too.  They get in my way….hold me back….irritate me.  I also really hate how medical they make me feel.  My insurance at the time covered some of a sleeve, but it was brown.  Medical sleeve brown.  Or beige.  It  doesn’t matter….I hated it, hated it being on, and hated being seen in it.  So I didn’t wear it.

Now…..I recently had shingles for the millionth time.  This particular time was really bad.  It usually hits my left arm and torso area that was affected by radiation and surgery.  The whole cancer area.  It was a terrible experience.  I had rash, fever, overdosed on ibuprofen….just a bad time.  It passed quicker than it does for most, which I’m truly thankful for, but I’m guessing this caused my latest flare up.  My arm got sooooooo swollen.  So did my hand.  Popeye was back 😦

My really amazing breast friend Jamie let me know she was in touch with LympheDivas….a wonderful company that offers sleeves, gauntlets, and gloves that are truly amazing looking!  Colorful designs, cool patterns, and special themes.  I’ve always loved them, but could never get my insurance to cover anything.  And honestly as time went on, I just gave up.  She was talking to them about blogging about their products.  She doesn’t have lymphedema….but she knows she is at risk and she needed something for an upcoming trip.  She mentioned to them that I do have active lymphedema and also have a trip coming up.  They contacted me and said they would do the same!  I was so excited….felt like I was shopping for prom looking at all the options!  We couldn’t wait to receive our special products….and even found out that we picked the same styles 😉

When they finally got here we did a little video!  She is used to doing them, I am not 🙂

I wore mine immediately! Every day….and of course it ticked me off, but I kept wearing it.  I got so many compliments on it from strangers….I actually didn’t feel so medical when I was out in public.  That was a HUGE thing for me….as open as I am about what I’ve gone through, I don’t like attracting attention because of it.

Last weekend we flew to Utah, as you saw on my previous post!  I was all geared up for it and fully prepared!  I wore my sleeve there and back, and even while I was there.

29497413_164262980945439_1266299324433497587_n

Now…..I’m a person who expects instant results and miracles.  They don’t usually happen, but I do expect them.  I can say that since I’ve worn my sleeve and glove I have noticed my arm size reducing.  That is exciting….even if not instant.  I’m happy to be able to wear this in public and feel ok about it, which helps me wear it more often.  The sleeve is so soft too…..but it still does it’s job.

Lymphedema sucks.  It really really sucks.  There is no way around it.  I know my case isn’t as severe as others…..but it’s really difficult and just another reminder of how much cancer has changed my life.  Look at this!  Even leaning on a counter for a bit shows how much fluid I have in my arm…..

It looks grotesque!!!!  And this is something I deal with daily.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to be treated and not ignore any signs of lymphedema.  No….I am not a doctor, but I am someone who regrets ignoring it all these years and just hoping nothing bad would happen.  I should have taken more precaution and been a whole lot more proactive with my condition.

And I really love LympheDivas!!!!  It was so hard to pick which design I got for my first set….and I know I will be getting more.  Here is a link to their site!  LympheDivas

Check them out…..and also make sure you check with your insurance to see about any kind of coverage.  And thank you LympheDivas!!!!  You made me feel ok about being in public with my stupid Popeye arm!

Katie 🙂

Update!!!  I want to share some information that was passed along to me to make it easier to get a sleeve!!!

First, on the topic of insurance. If you  are unsure about getting coverage for the garments, LympheDivas does work with two specialized DME boutiques that will check benefits/process insurance for our garments for anyone in the US.
Luna Medical: http://www.lunamedical.com/products/elastic/lymphedivas/

Second is that they have a budget option for our garments, they are called 2nds, and they are medically effective garments with slight aesthetic imperfections like misprints in the patterns. In the last month they have purchased a new printer and can now get more vibrant colors, so they took their entire inventory of existing garments and put them into 2nds, just because they have a slightly less vibrant color to what they currently offer. So, if there is any interest, this is a great time to look at those options because all the garments are 50% off retail price:  https://lymphedivas.com/discount-seconds-1/

Getting Back to What I Love

Almost 2 years ago I started a whole new adventure.  I left my job of 13 years and started working with Komen Michigan…..my dream of helping other people affected by breast cancer.  That job took up so much of my time, I had to put my other love on hold….taking pictures.  Photography has always been my outlet…..my escape.  I love waiting for, and capturing the perfect shot.  I love exploring and sharing beautiful images with other people.  I’ve always loved it and found it to be a way to handle life without drinking 😉

I tried so hard to keep up on family and wedding photography while spending all my nights and weekends traveling around the state like a mad woman.  I finally had to make the choice to put it all on hold for a bit…..possibly a while.  When I left Komen last year to be home more with my kids I figured I could step back in to it.  Crippling migraines and reality made me realize that time was still an issue, and I just couldn’t justify the time away or the time spent editing quite yet.

My jump back in has been very small.  I’ve had some very loyal people keep asking….but my confidence has been lacking.  My first major “job” was with the ever amazing Taylor Winnell…..her mom and I are great friends, and Taylor is going to be a famous country singer some day.  I’ve taken tons of pictures of her, even for her cd release a while ago.  I couldn’t resist getting back with her and the feeling I got was just what I needed.  She is beautiful and we get along so great…..it was amazing having that again!

This past weekend I had the AMAZING opportunity to take the wedding photos of my sister Amber.  Now…..Amber is my sister by heart…..but I love her to death and it was such an honor to be asked.  Amber is one of those people who is genuinely the nicest person you will ever meet.  She has a heart of gold and has become a huge part of our family.  My daughters love her, and they were asked to be flower girls 🙂  She moved to Utah for a job a while ago, so this is where she got married.  I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was, and getting the chance to take wedding photos there? Yes…..I felt like a kid in a candy store!

It was the push I needed….I felt so comfortable behind the lens again.  I will never put myself up there with the photographers I admire……but no matter what….this is what I LOVE to do.  Good or bad….it’s where my heart it.  This is also the reason for the “lens” in Rosy LENS Life 😉  A little pink, a little photo, and a lot about loving life.

Also…..a huge congratulations to the amazing Ben and Amber Toomer. They are beautiful together and I’m so excited to see what they do in life together!

 

BenAmber3

Katie 🙂

You Can….and So Can I

Why do we have so many people telling us we can’t do something?  Why are there so many negative people out there who seem hell-bent on stealing another person’s joy, dreams, and goals?  Jealousy?  Hate in their hearts?  I don’t know….but I’m so tired of it.

When I was told by a friend when I was younger that her parents thought I was immature because I laughed too much…..I kept laughing.

When I was told by a parent that I’d never amount to anything without them….well here I am.

When I heard whispers that I may not make it through chemo….I fought harder.

When people said I wouldn’t be able to work full-time and go through chemo treatments….I worked harder and not only passed probation, I excelled.

When I was told I shouldn’t try to have kids….I did and I have 3 beautiful daughters.

When I got my dream job and a person I trusted was behind me telling others I wouldn’t ever be successful…..I was.

And now I see so many people being told they can’t.  And it makes me angry.  Don’t let another person dictate what you do in life.  Keep going for it, don’t give up, and pursue your dreams.  This is your life, not their life.  If you give up on what you want, you will never know if you could have done it or not.  And if you give up, you are giving those people what they wanted….to see you fail.

Just a rant for a change….surround yourself with people who love and support you….and leave the others behind.  You don’t need them.  And is this a plug for praise….no….I have those people around me too and need support and reminders that I don’t need it either.

Katie 🙂

Birthday Breasties!

39 years ago my partner in crime, life, and all things breast cancer was born.  It took us years to truly find each other, even though our lives have been intertwined through it all.  Our dads grew up together…..and it’s always funny to me that I’m sure at some point her dad arrested mine….very likely happened…..and that is a story for some other blog.  We ended up in grade school together, somehow ended up working together at the same place for years.  For a long time that was it….just being in the same places at the same time, but never really interacting.  We knew each other, we were friendly…..but that was about it.  Until one day in 2012.

I remember it well….I had a newborn and was at my daughter’s preschool Christmas party.  I got a phone call from a number I wasn’t familiar with.  Something told me to answer it anyway.  It was Jamie…..and she was calling to tell me she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  And it shook me.  People were coming to me throughout the years about concerns they had, family members or friends who were possibly facing it, but this one really got to me.  And people knew that I was very open about hearing from anyone who had questions or concerns.  And she knew to call me…..and it started something that just cannot be stopped.  We grew closer as she fought, had ups and downs, and now is at my side in a battle to rid the world of this evil disease.

The way we are now makes me wonder how on earth we didn’t truly find each other earlier  We are both dorks….the weirdest people you’ll meet.  We are silly, crazy, and laugh at everything.  We both faced a horrible disease and used our experience to reach other people.  At that time in December 2012 she needed me…..but I didn’t realize I needed her too.  She’s challenged me to be the person I am now.  She has taken me WAY out of my comfort zone and I’m truly grateful for her influence in my life.

But it’s more than that…..we are true friends and sisters.  I don’t know how many times we talk in a day, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough times.  We get each other, understand what we are both going through in life after cancer.  Not many people understand it, and I’m so thankful I have someone in my life that does, that I can call a friend.

A breast friend.  Breastie.  BFF.  Pink sister.  We’ve said them all…..and on her birthday…..I’m just so thankful she’s here living life with me.  No matter what we do.  Crazy conversations,  roaming through stores, laughing on the phone, going to galas, supporting each other, and just being there.  I’m so freaking blessed.

And now I’m going to share something I never thought I would.  This is a true example of her pulling me out of my comfort zone.  She has no fear, and I’m getting there.  Everyone has seen her picture….the one with her painted chest.  Not many people know that I was there that day but my current job prevented me from sharing it.  And I also looked horrible….no matter what she says 😉  I was painted by the amazing Jenni Bush and my pictures were taken by the talented Olivia Kohler.  And the pic is small….baby steps…..but this is a glimpse of the shenanigans we get in to together. The other pictures are mostly selfies….and we take a lot.  One thing we learned together….we can’t have enough pictures together ❤

Happy Birthday my breastie bff Jamie!!!  I’m proud and honored to be your friend….and so very thankful to have you in my life 🙂

img_0601

Katie 🙂