Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Since November is the month of "thanks", I've been thinking a lot about how much I have to be thankful for. Sometimes don't feel very thankful that I got friggin' breast cancer in the first place, but then I focus on all the blessings that God's given me over the last ninemonths...

The biggest two being that I have a healthy daughter and I BEAT cancer. 

So so so many of my prayer requests have been answered. My faith has been so strengthened during this time both in seeing my prayers answered and knowing that God takes care of us no matter what happens.
Before church one Sunday
My friends and family have been there for me every step of the way. And my parents have been so incredibly helpful with taking care of Elise and me whenever we needed it.
These are just a few of the awesome people who've supported me. Pic taken before the Race for the Cure.

I had 18 amazing milk donors give milk to Elise so that I could have her on 100% donor breast milk for the first 5 months of her life. And some are still donating!
Elise loves donor milk!
So many wonderful people have unexpectedly stepped up to help us. They've donated money to our paypal account for medical bills, helped babysit Elise, sent grocery gift cards for meals, and gave us tons of useful gifts for Elise. My amazing neighbors even donated the proceeds from the annual pub crawl they do to help pay for some of crazy expenses we've incurred this year. 
Right after they gave us the check. We were so touched!

The Bible says "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The last nine months have truly taught me to do this.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Done with Radiation!

Yesterday was my final day of radiation! Not only was it my last day of radiation, it was my last day of all cancer treatment. Forever.

It's hard to believe I've been in treatment for 8 months. It seems both shorter and longer. It's still kind of surreal.

I had 33 rounds of radiation. 27 to my whole breast, chest, and armpit. And the final 6 were to my mastectomy scar line. I'm happy to report that burns in my armpit are already getting better thanks to Aquaphor, Miaderm, and Silver Sulfadiazine cream. I'm starting to feel major fatigue and probably will for the next several weeks. But it's nothing I can't manage.

Elise came with me to my last day of radiation (she stayed in the waiting room with my Mom). We wore pink to celebrate!


Now I will have follow up appointments with all three of my oncologists (radiation, medical, and surgical) every 3-4 months. And in 6 months I can have my permanent reconstruction surgery (the implants I have now are temporary). TNBC is most likely to reoccur/metastasize within three years, so there will be lots of vigilance in watching me for a while.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Burn Baby Burn

I've now finished 27 of my 33 radiation treatments and I am burning. My whole left chest, breast, and armpit looks like they have the worst sunburn you can imagine. The most painful area is my armpit. It's so red it's almost purple. I'd post a picture but I don't want to scare people. Seriously. I put the rx creams and lotions on it constantly but I'm still burning. On Monday I'm going to talk to my radiation oncologist about how many more treatments my poor skin can tolerate. Please pray that I don't burned too bad.

Radiation is also zapping my energy. I cannot wait until it's over and I can spend some much-needed time resting and recovering.

I keep reminding myself that I'm close to the END. When I'm finished with radiation, I'm finished with cancer treatment. For good.

I see my medical oncologist and breast surgeon next week for my 3 month follow up. It's been almost 3 months since my surgery and NED declaration. I'll see them every 3-6 months for a while. I know these appointments are routine, but they still scare me. Please pray that I will have good appointments and no recurrence scares.

In happier news, Elise is a great joy and a distraction from the pain and anxiety of all of this. She really gets cuter every day. I'm just in love with this age. She's now 5 months! 
My heart

This weekend I'm leading the "A Bump and A Lump" team in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k. I'll post pictures and more about it next week! 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Radiation In Progress

I've now had 7 radiation treatments and so far it's been easy. The biggest pain is driving to La Jolla every day and getting childcare for Elise. But the treatments are quick and painless (so far). I'm already starting to experience some of the fatigue that can come along with radiation (or maybe I just have a 4 month old?).

My radiation countdown calendar -- photo take after radiation #3

They only radiate my left armpit and left chest. So they gave me four "prison tattoos" to mark the borders of the treatment area so that they radiate the same place every time.

Here is one of them...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Torture Expansion, I mean Tissue Expansion, is complete

I explained a little bit in prior posts about reconstruction after a mastectomy. But here's a quick recap... all of the breast tissue was removed during the surgery, then temporary implants were placed behind my pectoral muscles, and I'll get a final set of implants (still behind the pec muscles) in about six months.

The temporary implants are called "tissue expanders" because they start small and are slowly filled with saline via a port over several weeks to stretch out the pectoral muscles to hold a final implant later.

For you visual learners, here is what that looks like... 
From John's Hopkins

So for the past several weeks I've been seeing my plastic surgeon for "expansions" or "fills" of my tissue expanders. We had to complete all my fills pretty quickly because no more fills can occur during or after radiation.

Remember how I said the tissue expanders are behind the pectoral muscles? Yeah, so that means the tissue expansion process hurts like b*tch. Like seriously, I thought I had a high pain tolerance until this. For several days after each expansion any movement I make that engages my pectoral muscles hurts like crazy. Just when I'd start to feel almost better, I'd get another expansion.

This week I had my final fill, and I'm so glad to be done because this one hurt the most. It's been three days since the fill and it still hurts to take a deep breath. Oh and my back hurts a lot too because those muscles are trying compensate for the strain on the pecs. Wonderful.

This would all be manageable, but I have a 16 pound baby to pick up and carry around! It's not that I can't pick her up, it's just that each time I do I feel a lot of pain. She's so cute though, it makes up for it.
Hi Elise!
Sorry if this was a whiny post, but I'm just sick of being in pain, and I'm sick of people saying "at least you get a free boob job." Believe me, if boob jobs were this painful, no one would get them.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

160 Days

For 160 days I had cancer.

Actually, I now know that I probably had cancer for less days than that. But for 160 days I believed I had cancer. I was diagnosed on March 1 and got the news of the complete pathological response on August 8.

160 days is 40 days x 4. In the Bible a 40-something time period (days/years) is a period of testing or trial that ends with a period of restoration or renewal. For Noah it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights, the Israelites wandered 40 years, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, and Jesus was seen on the earth for 40 days after His crucifixion.

I'm not saying I'm Jesus or Moses. But it's pretty awesome to think about how the biggest trial/testing of my life lasted 40 days, 4 times over. God has been faithful and now I should be in the time of renewal and restoration.

I wish I could say that I'm now 100% resting with the peace of God that I'm cancer free. But I can't. It's hard to switch my mind from being a warrior to a survivor when I was a warrior for 160 days and now only a survivor for 30 days.

My 160 day trial built my faith more than I could have ever imagined. I trust God with my life and I trust Him with my death. I know my friends and prayer partners have seen their faith built up by how amazingly God answered so many of our prayers, both little and big. It's truly incredible to see.

But despite the faith and trust that I've built, I still get scared. I don't think I'd be human if I didn't. Every little ache or pain brings up a fear that it could be metastasis. So far each pain has come and gone, but I live in fear that one won't.

So if you think of me, will you please say a prayer for me? One prayer that I'll remember that God is faithful, that I am a survivor, and I don't have to worry. And a second prayer for my continued health; That I've kicked cancer's butt once and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Radiate Me

Despite my amazing pathology report from surgery and the great job the chemo did in kicking the cancer's butt, I'm still going to be doing radiation.

So, why radiation if there are likely no living cancer cells left?

Because there still could be a few rouge cancer cells left around the chest wall or lymph node areas that surgery didn't find and chemo didn't kill. So radiation is the final weapon in our arsenal to kill any potential cells left. Also, I did have at least one positive lymph node before chemo which often means radiation is often recommended in that case. And because I'm young and have triple negative breast cancer which is known to be aggressive, all three of my oncologists recommend not skipping radiation, so I'm doing it.

I'll have 6 weeks of radiation starting in early October. I'll go every day, Monday through Friday to have my left breast area and lymph node area around it radiated. The actual radiation takes less than 10 minutes each day; the annoying part is going every day.

The radiation is only to one area of my body, so usually the side effects are minimal. There is some burning to the skin (like a bad sunburn) and some people experience a lot of fatigue. But it's nowhere close to as bad as chemo in terms of side effects.

Sometimes radiation can cause problems for breast reconstruction. So I'm definitely praying that doesn't happen. But if it does, I'll deal with it. I'm less concerned with having perfect breasts than I am at being able to live to see Elise grow up.

Once I start radiation I'll do another post about what it's like and how it's going. You can read more about radiation and watch a video about it here if this topic interests you. I know radiation isn't portrayed in the movies/TV shows for cancer treatment like chemo is, so most people have no idea what it is.

What radiation looks like. That's not me.

Once I finish radiation I'm DONE with all cancer treatments. It will be so amazing to finally be done! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Surgery, recovery, surgery

I realized I never posted about how the actual surgery went besides being declared cancer free! So I'll post about that and how recovery is going now.

My actual surgery was great. I had the dream team of my breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, anesthesiologist (who's a great friend of the family), and nurses. One of my nurses was actually a good friend of mine's mom! They all did a phenomenal job. They told my family that my surgery was routine and textbook. 

Then I recovered in Scripps hospital for 2 nights. The nurses there were super sweet and took great care of me. Since then I've been recovering at home and my parents house near mine. It's hard because my arms are super immobile and I just feel uncomfortable a lot. I can't do anything for Elise since I'm not allowed to lift anything over 10 lbs for 4 weeks. So Jon and my parents have been doing a great job keeping her happy and healthy. 

All was going pretty well until this Wednesday when I had a hematoma (broken blood vessel) pop up out of nowhere on my upper left chest. I went straight to my plastic surgeon's office and he decided it needed surgery. So later that day I was back in the OR under anesthesia (our awesome anesthesiologist friend did it again). After 30 mins they found the bleeder, fixed it, and I was back in recovery. Now I'm feeling ok minus a lot of soreness on my left side and the stupid surgical drain that I have on that side still (my right drain is out!). 

And since everyone asks me about reconstruction, so here is the deal... When you have a mastectomy you have zero breast tissue left, so they can't just put an implant on your chest like a boob job since there is nothing to hold it. So during my mastectomy the plastic surgeon put expanders behind my chest muscles. Now over several weeks he will slowly fill those expanders until I start radiation. Then several months after radiation he will replace the expanders with silicon in another surgery. So it's a long process. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I'm a Survivor

Today, I received the amazing news that I am cancer free!

In fact, I was cancer free before surgery because I had a what's called a "complete response" to chemotherapy. The chemo killed all the cancer in my breast and lymph node. Not one cell remained! We are just ecstatic. 

My surgeon called it a medical miracle. I called it a giant answer to prayer. This is exactly what I prayed for again and again over the last 5 months. And many, many others prayed for that as well. Thank you prayer warriors. God is faithful.

My surgeon removed 4 lymph nodes. 1 showed evidence of "dead cancer" (i.e. scar tissue) and the other 3 showed no cancer at all. This is another huge answer to prayer because I didn't want to have many lymph nodes removed because that puts you at more risk of lymphadema.

The original breast tumor was just scar tissue. Amazing! I could not be happier. 

So, no more "bump" because we have Elise and no more "lump" because the lump was killed by chemo and then chopped off. I guess I should change my blog name! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Surgery Tomorrow

Early tomorrow morning I head into surgery for my double mastectomy.

I have such mixed emotions as I head into surgery. I'm relieved the day is finally here and I can be one big step closer to beating this cancer. I'm nervous about the pain and the limitations during my recovery. I'm hopeful that the pathology report will show little to no cancer left. And I'm scared to death the pathology report will show that 5 months of chemo didn't really work and I'm basically out of options.

Obviously I so appreciate your prayers for a great surgery tomorrow. But I really covet your prayers for August 8 when I get the pathology report. It just has to show that the chemo worked and that very little cancer is left. I just keep praying and praying it will be good and God will show his glory through me beating this cancer. But even if the pathology report is bad, I vow to keep fighting. I won't let that crush my spirit or my resolve.

Also, just a quick update on my last post. Elise's kidney ultrasound was good. It showed a very minor issue with her right kidney that will very likely resolve as she grows. We just have to do a follow up x-ray next month to give us the info we need to find the best course of action to prevent future UTIs. Most importantly our pediatrician assured us that Elise is going to be just fine no matter what. Thank you for the prayers for her.

"My shirt says I'm a sweetheart but I'm a tough cookie like my mom!"

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Elise's First ER Trip

On Sunday Elise had her first trip to the ER. And while it was a scary and totally exhausting, all turned out to be fine.

I first noticed on Sunday morning that she was super fussy and by mid-day she was inconsolable. I took her temperature and it was 101. I called the nurse line for UCSD Pediatrics and they told me to head to the Children's Hospital ER.

Luckily they got us right in and took Elise's blood and urine. She did NOT like either of those one bit. Then we waited and started to worry that she could be really sick with something terrible. Of course the ER doctor asked me about the pregnancy (normal?) and I had to tell her I had chemo while pregnant. I hate repeating my sad, crazy story.

After they took her blood via the little IV in her hand. She looks so sad.

After a couple of hours, we got the results back and it turned out Elise had a urinary track infection. Poor baby! They gave her IV antibiotics and let us go once her fever was under 100.4. Now we just had to give her antibiotics for 10 days to make sure the infection is 100% gone.

Of course this all happened when both Jon and my parents were out of town, so I was alone, scared, and exhausted. Luckily, our dear family friends, Bill and Kay, came to the ER when I told them the news and Kay even stayed the night at my house with us after Elise was discharged to help out. So sweet.

So I survived Elise's first health scare. While we were in the hospital I just prayed and prayed that it would be nothing serious and easily treatable. And, thank God, it was.  We can only have one of us in the hospital at a time!

The antibiotics worked right away, and she's back to her usual happy self.

The only follow-up we have to do is a kidney and bladder ultrasound tomorrow to make sure there is nothing obviously wrong with her kidneys or bladder that caused the UTI, but very often UTIs just happen to little girls from bacteria. Nevertheless, please send up some prayers for us tomorrow that the ultrasound shows nothing bad. It's hard for me to trust a "routine" test since the last time I had one of those I found out I had cancer.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Surgery Preparation

Today I had my pre-op appointment for my double mastectomy with my plastic surgeon. Note: I never thought I'd use the phrase, "my plastic surgeon" in my life. They went over all the dos and don'ts for before and after surgery.

Basically it sounds like the worst part of the recovery will be the first ~1 week or so when I'm in a lot of pain and then I'm just going to be more uncomfortable than in a ton of pain. Oh annd I'm not allowed allowed to lift anything over 10 lbs for 4 weeks. Which means my Mom, Dad, and Husband will be doing a lot of Elise duty for the month of August.

I've also stocked on my post-op items that I've heard were helpful from other survivors.

A wedge pillow for sleeping

Breast surgery comfort pillows for sitting and resting my arms

Drain holding pockets for the surgical drains (yuck)

A bunch of front button-up sleep and casual shirts

And finally, I'm doing a few fun things to enjoy my last days before surgery.

Unfortunately, our 5-year wedding anniversary is right after my surgery. So before surgery Jonathan and I are doing a little getaway to a resort in Indian Wells, CA without Elise to celebrate our marriage.

Also, I'm doing a fun girls night out party at a local brewery that I'm calling "Ta Ta to my Ta-Tas."  More details about it later.

Surgery is August 6th. If you're a prayer warrior please send up some prayers for me that day and the days around it. I've listed some specific prayer requests here. God hears our prayers.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Last Chemo!

Last Wednesday I completed my last round of Taxol chemo which was the last of my eight chemo treatments!

Elise came with me and even wore a pink ribbon in support. 
We're done!

It feels so great to be done with chemo. There's obviously the nagging feeling of "what if I need more chemo after surgery? Or more chemo if the cancer comes back?" But I'm pushing those feelings away and celebrating that I'm done withe chemo and the odds that are I'll be done with it forever!

I have to say, that despite the few days of aches from Taxol I felt amazingly well while on chemo. I had imagined it would be awful, but I did remarkably well with minimal side effects. I attribute that to my great medical team, good nutrition, and most importantly everyone's prayers.

So now I'm done with chemo! On to surgery and then radiation. It's basically half-time in this cancer-butt-kicking game.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

30th Birthday, Cancer Surviorship, and Last Chemo Tomorrow

This post is a bunch of random updates...

I recently celebrated my 30th birthday. Although it wasn't exactly how I would have envisioned my 30th birthday a year ago, I will say that I felt really blessed to have my husband, daughter, parents, and friends by my side to celebrate. I also have to thank those of you who prayed that I'd feel well for it. I actually felt amazingly good for my birthday weekend and got to enjoy beer tasting, a romantic dinner out with Jonathan, and a fabulous brunch with friends. I know that feeling so good was God's blessing for me on that weekend.
30th Birthday beer tasting at Ballast Point

Near our house in San Diego is amazing park called, "Cancer Survivors Park." I love to go there and feel inspired to beat cancer. Recently Jonathan, Elise, and I walked over there and took a few pictures.
I will be a survivor!

There are these inspirational plaques everywhere. These are my favorites...

Tomorrow I have my last chemo! I go back and forth between wanting to celebrate and not wanting to be over-confident that this will be my last chemo because there's always that chance the cancer could return. However, I've decided that the odds are strongly in my favor that this will be my last chemo, so we are going to celebrate it! Please pray that if there are any little cancer cells left in me that this final chemo knocks them out. And of course, please pray that this will really be my last chemo ever! As always, I'll let you know how it goes. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

2nd to Last Taxol and the 4th of July

On Wednesday I had my second to last Taxol chemo. And this should be (if all goes according to plan), my second to last chemo ever!
On my way to chemo, wearing my Fighting Fancy tank top.

The muscle aches started to set in last night and I will probably stick around for the next 3-4 days. Taxol sucks for me because I like to be active and it really makes me want to sit around and not do anything strenuous. Even walking up our stairs in our three story house can suck at times. Luckily I'm usually back to normal a week afterwards doing walks, hikes, and yoga. Will you please pray that aches don't get to too bad this time because tomorrow is my birthday and I really want to be feeling as good as I can be for it.

Speaking of holidays, yesterday was the 4th of July.

I loved hanging out with this little firecracker... 

But I also felt sad because 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays and I hated being "sick" for it. I'm just sick of being sick. I'm starting to reach the point where I just want my life back and I still have months of dealing with cancer ahead of me even in the best case scenario. Then there's the occasionally-nagging thought that I might only have a few birthdays or 4th Julys left. Sorry if that sounds depressing, but I think any person with cancer would be lying if they said those thoughts didn't cross their mind from time to time.

OK, on to positive thoughts... In just 12 days I'll be DONE with chemo. And I'm one major step closer to beating cancer!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Surgery Scheduled & Prayers Requested

Last week we met with my surgical oncologist and scheduled my surgery. 

I'll be having a double mastectomy on August 6.

(Hey, if it's good enough for Angelia Jolie, it's good enough for me! Kidding.)

During the mastectomy my surgeon will remove all of the breast tissue from both breasts as well as few lymph nodes from my left arm pit (where they know there were cancerous cells at one point). A pathologist will then analyze all of that tissue to find out how much cancer remains. My big big prayer is that zero live cancer cells will be found when they do the pathology report after the mastectomy. I'd appreciate any prayers you can give me for that as well.

I'm not that scared about the surgery itself. I know it's the best choice I can make to increase the odds that I'll be here for Jonathan and Elise for a long time. I know I'm tough and can handle the pain. But I am a little scared to get those pathology results. If there is no remaining cancer my prognosis is very good. If there is a lot of cancer left, my prognosis is pretty bad. So the results of this surgery really is the "moment of truth" after months of treatment. It will also determine what scans and treatment I should do next.

Also because they have to remove some of my lymph nodes, I'm at increased risk for lymphedema (permanent arm swelling). So, please pray that my surgeon will not have to remove many lymph nodes and that I will not get lymphedema.

As far as "looks" go... I'll be doing temporary breast reconstruction at the time of surgery and then a permanent reconstruction about 8 months later. I have a wonderful plastic surgeon who assures me I can have "great" results when all is said and done. But please don't call this a "free boob job" -- unlike a boob job, reconstruction after mastectomy requires two lengthy surgeries as well expanding the pectoral muscle over several procedures so the implant has someplace to go. Basically it's painful, lengthy, and not that fun. Oh yeah, and I had to have cancer to get it.

So there you go. Surgery is in six weeks. Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

75% done with Chemo!

Today I had my second of four Taxol chemos. This means I'm 75% done with chemo overall! I plan on being completely cured and never having to do chemo again, but obviously I appreciate your prayers for the same.

Here is my Dad, who was chemo buddy today, with Elise before we left. Note my Dad's awesome Race for the Cure shirt. Elise stayed home but wore pink in support of me. :)

I love my support team

The Taxol infusion took a long time but was easy. They give me steroids to take the night before so I didn't sleep much last night which was probably the worst part. After the last Taxol I was really achy in the back and legs for a few days, so I'm anticipating that side effect again. But other than that, my Taxol side effect were not too bad.

Speaking of side effects, check out my hair growth. I have stubble! I was off chemo for 6 weeks to deliver Elise, so my hair started to grow back. But now that I've been back on Taxol for 2 weeks I expect it to start falling out again this weekend. Womp womp. On a positive note, now I know what I'll look like in 13 weeks.

Navy recruit?
I have some more medical updates about next steps in treatment, but I'll save those for a later post and leave you with some adorable pictures of Elise (the real reason you come to this blog!).

Passed out in the carseat
In her bunny chair that she loves
Just hanging out with Dad

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Elise's Birth Story

I wanted to write Elise’s birth story up so that: 1) We’d have it and I wouldn’t forget all the details 2) I could share it with any “birth story” junkies out there. So, sorry this is a bit long.

I’ve always rolled my eyes a little bit when I hear people say that “God was in details”, but for Elise’s birth He really was. I just keep thinking about how great everything went and I know it God’s blessing around us and Elise. Thank you if you were one of the hundreds of people praying for us. We know that God hears our prayers.

OK, here’s the story…

A few days before Elise was born I had a ton of conversations with my OB and Oncologist about the pros and cons of inducing. Basically my oncologist was worried about me off chemo for too long.  Finally we came to the conclusion that at almost 39 weeks Elise was big enough and her lungs were mature enough to be induced.  My OB warned me that the induction could take a while, especially for a first-time mom, but that was a risk I was willing to take. So we chose Thursday, May 30th as our induction date. 

The morning of the induction we called the hospital to make sure they were ready for us (they were), we took a final picture of me pregnant, grabbed out bags, and headed to Panera for a last meal (since you can’t eat during an induction). 
38w5d - final preggo picture
We arrived at the hospital 9:00 AM and checked into our large corner birthing room. We met our sweet Nurse, Eva (who is also a believer). Then they took my blood and hooked me up the fetal monitors and IV. They sent my blood to the lab to make sure I was well enough to be induced. The OB on duty checked my cervix and it was high and closed. No cm dilated.  Bummer. The good news was that Elise’s head was way down in my pelvis. So after the blood work cleared at 11:00 AM the OB started me on drug to dilate my cervix called misoprostol. She said she’d come back to check me at 3:00 PM. She warned us that it could be a long induction since my cervix was so closed. 
Elise, you are getting evicted.

So then we waited. Played games on the iPads, read magazines, etc. I started to feel some minor contractions but nothing bad. We texted my parents to give them the update and they decided they’d come to the hospital at around 4:00 PM to see me and take Jonathan to dinner.

The OB came back at 3:30 PM and checked  my cervix. 2 cm dilated. Progress! She decided I could entering real labor here based on contractions and decided to not give me more Misoprostol or start Pitocin. That maybe my body would just do it on my own. My parents arrived a little while later as I was starting to have more contractions really low. We still figured real labor was hours away, so my Dad and Jon left for dinner around 4:30 PM and my Mom stayed to keep me company.

At around 5:00 PM my contractions started to get really close together and by 5:30 I was begging for pain relief. But I wasn’t sure how dilated I was so I didn’t want to get the epidural too soon.  They checked and I was 4 cm. I felt good about getting the epidural then. By 6:00 PM my epidural was placed I started to feel better. Then I started to feel worse, way worse. Terrible low stabbing pains (contractions), one after the other. I kept saying “this shouldn’t be how I feel on an epidural, should it?”
In pain but still smiling

Unfortunately right around 6:30 PM there was shift change a new anesthesiologist came in. He felt like maybe the epidural was placed wrong and wanted to re-do it. Thank goodness my Mom said “no” to that idea and had him load it up with more meds, because there probably would not have been enough time to remove and place a new epidural before I had to push. They also checked my cervix and I was already 7cm dilated (whoa!),  which was why I was in desperate need of more drugs. The anesthesiologist also gave me another pain drug in the IV (more on that later) to work quickly since I was in such pain (major cuss words and almost crying at this point).

Finally after more drugs in the epidural I was feeling great. My cervix got checked again and I was 8 cm and entering transition. My Mom started desperately calling my Dad and Jon telling them “get back here! She’s gonna start pushing soon!!” They’d been having a three-course Thai dinner.

Jon got back to the hospital at 7:00 PM and it was basically time to start pushing. Because the anesthesiologist gave me that drug in my IV they were worried Elise would come out lethargic from it since it takes two hours to wear off. So the whole pediatrics team was called to the room to make sure she’d be ok.  Since my hospital UCSD is teaching hospital, an intern, a resident, and Dr. were put in place in deliver Elise. My parents went out the waiting room and it was just Jon and I with all the Drs and nurses. 

I was finally fully numb from the waist-down thanks to the glorious, now-working epidural when I started to push a little bit after 7:00 PM. My amniotic fluid had still not broken and Drs were all worried about it bursting on them, so they had full plastics masks on. Hilarious. (side note: I guess a baby being born in their amniotic sack is rare very good luck in many cultures). I pushed for about 40 minutes while they monitored Elise’s heart rate. It dropped pretty low a few times but not enough to warrant concern. I couldn’t feel anything, so I kept asking the Drs “am I doing this right?” They assured me I was. They could see Elise’s full head of hair. Which was wonderful to hear because we felt assured that my placenta did it’s job and shielded her from all of the chemo drugs.

Finally on a contraction my water broke and did not make the giant mess that was predicted, and on the next push Elise was out! Elise cried immediately and it was the best sound I’ve heard in my life. They placed on her on my chest while Jon cut the cord.

Pure joy

Then they had the pediatrics team take her and do a quick exam to make sure she was fine from that drug I got. She was 100% fine and active. She scored a 9 and a 9 on her APGARs. Amazing score for any baby, let alone one who went through chemo, was induced, and got a little too much pain drugs. She weighed 7 lbs, 14 oz and was 20.5 inches long. Perfect size.


The doctors then placed her back on chest for skin-to-skin love and for me to feed to her a bottle of breast milk from the San Jose Milk Bank. My parents also came back into the room to meet Elise.
The Grandparents

The doctors all could not believe how quickly I dilated and how short of a time I pushed for. Basically the entire process from getting the first misoprostol drug for dilation to Elise being born was just under 9 hours. Heck, Jon almost missed the pushing because I dilated so much in just a few hours.
Family of 3

I said how God was in the details and here is what I mean…  I prayed so hard and had many others praying for short delivery, healthy baby, and no c-section. I got all of those about as perfectly as possible. The fact my Mom just arrived to be there with me during the worst pain and to be coach was ideal. How the epidural debacle ended just fine. I loved how Elise stayed in her fluid the whole time – it made feel like “protection” was around her for the entire process. I only had a very minor tear from delivery, so I could resume chemo quickly. But most importantly Elise was healthy and was able to go home with us 36 hours after being born.

Heading home

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chemo #5/Taxol #1 - Complete!

On Wednesday I started my latest round of chemo. I'm now getting a new chemo drug, called Taxol, which is different than chemo drugs I got before Elise was born. I'll do three more rounds of Taxol over the next seven weeks.

Here I am at my appointment.  
Fight On!
Yes, I know I just I had a baby, but don't act so shocked that I'm back in chemo already. The whole reason we induced early was so I could get back to chemo faster and fight this cancer so Elise has a Mom for decades to come. I wish my fight ended with Elise being born but we're really just in the 4th inning or so in beating this cancer (see treatment plan).

In case you're wondering, this is what a Taxol infusion looks like:
Drip, drip, drip

Taxol is supposed to be pretty effective for TNBC, so my big prayer is that I have complete response to it and there is no cancer left when I have my surgery in August.

I'm still working on Elise's birth story, so stay tuned for that. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Elise is here!

Our daughter, Elise Victoria, arrived on May 30 just before 8:00 PM.

She scored a 9 on her APGAR and is a healthy, normal, perfect baby. I cannot stop thanking God that she's here and healthy.

She weighed 7 lbs 14 oz, and was 20.5 inches long.

Just moments after birth

Elise means consecrated to God and Victoria means victory. 

Many more pictures and a birth story will be coming to this blog soon. But basically I had the most ideal induction ever. God was in every detail. Another huge answer to prayer.
Heading home. You can see her full head of HAIR. Way more hair than me right now. :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Baby Update and Belly/Boob Casting

We had our 38 week ultrasound this morning and everything looked good. She's around the 62nd percentile and weighs 7.5 lbs. Praise God for a growing and active baby!

I also met with my oncologist this week and she seemed surprised that I've made it this far in the pregnancy and expressed a bit of concern about me delaying chemo too much further (I can't go back on the next chemo drug until I'm not pregnant). So I'll be having some in-depth conversations with my OB next week about potentially inducing labor around 39 weeks. (note: I know inducing labor early is a hot button topic for some folks, but unless you've been pregnant with breast cancer or you have an MD in Obstetrics/Oncology, I really don't want to hear you're opinion on the topic. kthankyou!).

Switching gears a bit ...

This week I also got to do something really fun and special, which was to have to my boobs and belly cast by Keep A Breast.

In progress
Final product
It's really special because I'll never had this body again. I'll be losing my "bump" to gain a baby very shortly, and I'm not sure if I'll ever be pregnant again. And I'm almost certainly getting a double mastectomy (with reconstruction) this Summer, so I'll have different boobs after that.

I'm trying to think of what to have painted on the cast to make it a true piece of art (artist, I am not). There are some really cool ideas out there. Suggestions wanted!

Finally, thank you to everyone who bought something via the Pampered Chef Fundraiser. Ya'll are amazing! If you are still wanting to help us out in some way, you can check out the the "How to Help" tab on this site. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Life Lately

Just a little update on my life since I've not posted in a while...

I'm actually feeling really good three weeks post-chemo. If I still had my hair, I wouldn't even remember that I'd gone through 4 rounds of chemo already. I thank God all the time that I've felt this good during treatment and can enjoy my life with my friends and family.
Out to dinner with friends last weekend

I'm almost 37 weeks pregnant, which means I'm almost full term! I never imagined we'd make it this far. Now I'm just praying and praying baby girl stays healthy and comes out when she feels ready sometime in the next couple of weeks. We have another growth ultrasound next week that I am excited and anxious for. I think she's still growing well because I feel a lot bigger.
This was actually at 35w, I'm bigger now I think

I've been walking a lot for both my health and because I hear that can make babies "drop" and get ready to be born. I do 1.5-3 miles a day depending on how I feel. Last weekend I did a 5k walk for Miracle Babies with a couple of other beautiful moms-to-be. So fun!
Due in August, due in June, due that day!

I celebrated my first Mother's Day as a Mom (to be). We celebrated by having a giant brunch on top of Symphony Towers at the University Club with my parents. It was amazing! Jonathan gave me me the sweetest card that made me cry. I pray this is the first of many many Mother's Days that we get to spend as a family.
The view
Parents to be
Me and my Mom

I'm finishing up my last week of work before maternity leave this week. My company has been so great letting me work part time from home during chemo. My plan is to return to work in the fall after I have surgery for the cancer (which unfortunately means a longer leave than just maternity leave). In the fall I may try to work while doing radiation since I hear that's doable. It's so crazy to think about being away from work for ~5 months. I never taken a break from work or school this long in my life. Strange.

As my big pre-baby project, I've been trying to complete all my digital scrapbooks from prior years before we have an onslaught of baby pictures to albumize. I make my layouts in Photoshop Elements and then get the books printed by Blurb. It's fun but takes a long time. My goal is to finish 2011-2012 by the time the baby arrives and I'm half-way through 2011. You can preview my 2010 book that I just finished here. I love looking at my parents pictures from before I was born and I hope that someday my daughter will like having these books too (she can see how FUN we used to be!).

That's about it for life lately! I'll post updates later next week after the oncologist checkup appointment and growth ultrasound. Thank you for all of your continued prayers for health for me and our little one! I know God is hears them.