My Husband’s Story

A lot of you have asked or wondered if my husband Jordan would ever be willing to share aspects of how my Breast cancer affected him and our family. He has always said that he would someday, but feared he wouldn’t be able to put his thoughts into words in the same way that I have. I think it was something he would have gotten to eventually, especially if something happened and I was not doing well, but we got bit of a nudge a few months back when Good Housekeeping contacted me. They were interested in interviewing Jordan and I for a story about young families facing breast cancer. We of course said yes as it has unintentionally become part of my mission to share the side of breast cancer that so many hide, but this was a great opportunity for Jordan to share a bit of his story as well. I will admit he was hesitant at first, and in his words he feared he may “screw it up”. I told him that It was his call, but I did have one stipulation….. If he agreed to the story, he had to be 100% open and honest with the journalist writing the story.

Here is the article that GH published a few weeks back. The writer we worked with did a great job of capturing Jordan’s thoughts and feelings and Jordan joined me by taking one giant step out of his comfort zone, as he was honest and open in discussing a some pretty difficult topics. The truth is he too has suffered and is still suffering through all of this with me, just in different ways. In some ways he is suffering on an even deeper level than I am because he has to helpless watch and react rather than feel things first hand. Breast cancer didn’t just happen to me. Breast cancer happened to everyone who loves me.

We would like to note that the headline is a little deceiving. Jordan did take a lot of the photos that are featured in the article, however Sam from Shutter Sam Photography deserves a great deal of the credit for beautifully capturing so many aspects of the past two years, including all the aspects of this journey that are so difficult for others to see.

See the Good Housekeeping article here:

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a44239/husband-documents-wifes-cancer-battle/

#MyPersonalPinkTime #GoodHousekeeping #ShutterSamPhotography

 

Post Cancer Treatment Scans

(a MRI scan from the past 6 months. It seems they have found a need to scan my abdomen my wrist, my Brian, and my spine, but not the most important)

As promised, I have addressed the silence and I am opening the door back up. Here is a little glimpse into what has been going on in my world. A few months ago I shared that I had reached the 2 year anniversary of the day I started chemo. Although it was a VERY busy day at work, I was taken back to that pivotal moment in my journey with breast cancer more times than I can count. I was hopeful to be on the other side of things, and very grateful to finally be getting a little bit of my pre-cancer life back. However if you have ever faced cancer you know that it doesn’t take much to rip each and every hopeful thought out of your mind and replace it with doubt, sadness, and fear. Shortly after posting on my cancerversary, I unintentionally ran my fingers across my breast area as I so often do without even giving it a second thought now. After having breast cancer you do not have to put a self breast exam reminder on your calendar as the thought crosses your mind every single day there after. But this time something was different, my fingers came to a screeching halt and stopped quickly at the edge of a lump I hadn’t yet felt. My world stopped. I could feel the heat or fiery burn of an anxiety-induced hot flash rushing up from my legs and arms and filling my body. All of a sudden, my mind started racing  and filled with fear. My very first thought was, my cancer is back, and then the cycle started. Everyone cancer patient faces the reality that their cancer could return at any moment, and move to other parts of the body. In a way, I have actually made peace with what I cannot control and I have whole-heartedly promised that if my cancer does come back, I will again fight with everything I have in me. However that peace is still not preparation for your worst fear unfolding in front of you.
For me, my life has just started to normalize as I am finally back to work, I am just now getting compliments on the hairstyle that I didn’t choose, and have even started wearing my converted head scarfs as neck scarfs again. I have gotten used to being the .1% in that if something can go wrong it typically does with me, but I have stayed hopeful that my treatments worked and my cancer is gone forever. Although my inner optimism was trying to take control, the lump felt hard, it didn’t really move much, and it did not hurt which I know are all symptoms of a malignant breast mass. To make matters worse, the lump was in the exact same location as the very lump I found two years ago. I looked for any rationale I could find for the lump, but my mind was already spiraling out of control. I thought about how awful the treatments were on my body the first time around and worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace I have been working at in my personal life, with my advocacy, and with my work schedule. I worried about the fact that if my cancer had returned there is an even grater chance that it has moved even further than the lymph nodes and how at this stage oncologists no longer entertain the word cure. In an instant my mind again shifted gears and halted as I realized that I still have not had the breast MRI that my oncologist has been ordering to confirm that my treatments worked in the first place because my insurance is denying me. I again saw the faces of 3 different Radiologists saying “ you really need to get an MRI, because that is the only way we will be able to see the chest wall to confirm that the treatments killed the cancer cells that were left after your bilateral mastectomy”. Did the chemo and the radiation treatments work? Did the fact that my chemotherapy regimen had to be dose reduced by 20% make the treatments ineffective? After all, I was only able to receive 80% of the cancer killing drugs that are known to kill my form of cancer. And the obvious thought of having positive margins after surgery push it over the edge. My greatest fears were already coming to life in my mind. The dose-reduced chemotherapy regimen was no match for the cancer that was left after my Mastectomy and it really had been growing in my body ever since. Have I really been walking around with cancer in my body all this time? My heart was racing and my mind was spinning out of control. I thought about the conversation that I had with my nurse a few weeks back in sharing a dream that I had where I realized that the people who make the biggest difference in the world, do so because they ultimately die trying. I remember the goosebumps running up my neck when I actually muttered the words, “Seay, what if I am meant to bring my cause to the forefront of people’s minds, but I am meant to loose my life in the process to serve as an example. I remembered that I told her I was at peace with what I could not control and I have already committed myself to a cause that choose me but, and at the same time I am not ready. I will never be ready. Before I knew it all I could focus on was the words that John and Cindy, two friends who were taken by cancer, said to me in their final days…. “I am not ready to die, there is still so much more I want to see and do”. That thought. That truth. That has been my biggest and greatest fear since I heard the dreadful words. Having no choice in the matter and knowing that you will be taken is a terrible thought.  Accepting that my greatest fear could someday become my reality has been the hardest aspect of healing through breast cancer.

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Addressing The Silence And Moving Forward

Would you believe me if I told you that before cancer, I used to be the shyest most reserved person you had ever met, and I would have done anything to avoid talking about my own feelings, personal thoughts, or struggles?

2 years ago, Cancer was NOT even on my radar. In fact, Cancer was something that I thought happened to other people, not something that I thought would ever happen to me… Until it did.

As many of you know I found the lump myself, but not because I was doing a self breast exam. I found it because I had been experiencing really sharp shooting pains in my chest pains for at least 6 months. When the pain was bad I would push the palm of my hand up against my chest. That’s how I found the lump. I didn’t tell anyone about it for a few weeks, but my mind was filling with fear and all I could think about was the fact that cancer could take me from my family. After doing a lot of research I realized that I had to tell my husband….. and I had to make the call. I saw my OBGYN first. She said that based on my age alone most doctors would recommend watching it for 6 months, but she said she wasn’t going to take any chances with me because she had a family history of breast cancer. She sent me for a mammogram, an ultrasound and Biopsy right away to rule out cancer. After two mammograms, I was sent to have an ultrasound. My technician was about midway through the scan when she said she had to talk to the radiologist. She tried desperately to make it seem like a routine part of the process, but I was starting to see realize what was happening. She was gone for at least 20 minutes so I had a lot of time to let my mind wander but I was oddly no longer thinking all the scary cancer thoughts, instead my mind was racing with moments from my life that made me feel like that exact moment was all part of a bigger plan for me.

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Ending a Very Pink Month With a Trip To Camp

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Whew this has been a pretty crazy month this far. Although I didn’t really think it was possible, my world got a little more pink over the past few weeks. I can tell you right out of the gate, I was pushed completely out of my comfort zone at every pass in being asked to speak at several local breast cancer events in West Michigan. Each request came with a certain level of anxiety. You know; the sweaty hands, knot in your stomach kind of anxiety, but I took a deep breath and said sure, with a nervous but big smile on my face like I promised I would. I cannot help but think back to my very first Chemo which happens to be the day I connected with my now very dear friend Liz. She had been following my blog and had just started volunteering with the American Cancer Society, so she stopped into my very first chemo to introduce herself…. And we just connected instantly as we share quite similar passions and goals in raising awareness for a cause that is near and dear to our hearts. Liz was about 2 years out from her breast cancer diagnosis on the day I met her, yet there she was volunteering to help women just like her facing the hardest battles of their lives, and she was still recovering from and dealing with the after affects of her own battle. We shared story’s, our inspirations, and our aspirations in those few short hours. Where I was comfortably stepping out of my comfort zones from behind a computer screen, Liz was stepping out of hers in the public eye, as she was jumping onto a leadership committee with ACS, and she had already begun sharing her story publicly at ACS events and at her Daughters Sorority at Hope College. I remember telling Liz that I had made a promise that I would say “yes” when I wanted to run, if it meant that I was stepping out of my comfort zone in a way that helped women in my shoes, but I was very quick to state that public speaking would be where I drew the line. I have always hated being the center of attention and the idea of standing up in front of a large Crowd to speak has always terrified me! I can still picture her face as she the looked at me, smiled, and said you will be surprised at what you will do after something like this. Looking back I think she knew, or at least she saw the very same spark of crazy in my eyes as she did her own, because she was absolutely correct! I did make the promise that I would accept each challenge and step out of my comfort zone for the greater good from the day I was diagnosed. What might be somewhat surprising is that it’s harder for me to openly and publicity share my story, than it is to bare my scars and deepest inner thoughts, fears, and emotions, in photos and blog posts. I got my toes wet by sharing my story at Farm to Table Harvest Event for Revive and Thrive and of course sharing my story with the Bee Brave community following the Bee Brave 5K, however I stepped it up a notch by doing 3 news interviews for both breast cancer events and my own campaign, being featured in the Spectrum Health Ad campaign that launched this month in the forms of Outdoor boards, online, print, digital ads, and the biggest step…. Being honored as the keynote speaker at this year’s Wine and Wig Gala put on By ACS, Komen, Gilda’s, and Van Andel Institute and speaking as part of an expert panel at Spectrum Health’s Candid Conversations event with my medical team in front of 1200 people.

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screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-11-25-15-pmThe Wine and Wig event, by far had me the most panicked as I wrote at least 6 different takes on my story and in the end felt very ill prepared. But it that moment things clicked into place a calmness came over me before I even got up the the podium. I think I realized what an honor it was to have been given such an amazing platform to share not only my story but my mission with some pretty big players in the breast cancer community, and the response was quite beautiful. There were a lot of tears which was really not my goal, but it means a lot that my story was able to touch people on a level that brought even the strong men in the room to tears and compelled them to approach me afterwards. It was quite an amazing night that almost culminated all that I have been through and all that I am hoping to achieve. And you know what? I surprised myself. I really struggled with the first few events that I spoke at this month, and I did panic a bit inside with each and every speech, however I have also learned so much about myself and grown in ways that are hard to explain which is something I did not anticipate. Above all, I again feel like I am right where I need to be, and I am doing exactly what I was meant to do. A few weeks ago my nerves were getting the best of me as I told my husband that public speaking just is NOT for me, but oddly I don’t regret any of it and I think I would do it all again. Plus I believe it was the very best lead in to what I have in store next… A camp for young cancer survivors.

This camp is a once and a lifetime adventure camp for young cancer survivors in Maui, that my dear friend Jessica lined up for me. (Love you dear) The camp is fully funded by The Athletes for Cancer Foundation and The Cassie Hines Shoes Cancer Foundation out of Washington, Michigan sponsored all of my travel expenses. We found out about the camp a few months ago, but I didn’t actually get off the waiting list until early Oct. With all the craziness this month, it has not even hit me that I am actually leaving for Hawaii in less 10 hours. However as I… very last minute plan the week for my family, and start the packing process, I am getting pretty excited to get away from my reality and feel the sun on my skin again. The camp is called Camp Koru, and it’s geared to empower young cancer survivors to take their lives back after cancer by jumping out of their comfort zones and conquering challenges like surfing, and stand up paddling in Hawaii, which sounds quite amazing to me!

I really cannot express how excited I am I am for this camp. I know it will push me out of my comfort zone a little more, but in a good way as I have not yet conquered my fear of group sharing. However I know that it will be life-changing to meet others my age who understand all of the challenges, fears, and emotions, that come from from being diagnosed with cancer as a young adult. I will be off the grid for most of the week, but expect a full report when I return.

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False Expectations and Survivorship

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One year ago today I finished my radiation treatments.
For 9 months I had been counting down to this very day, the day that I would walk out of Lemmon Holton Cancer Pavilion knowing my hardest treatments were complete and my cancer was behind me. I thought this day was going bring a since of accomplishment, joy and relief, but boy did I have another thing coming.

One year ago today may have marked the end of my intense chemo and radiation treatments, however it also marked the first day of my survivorship or what I like to call my “now what” phase. Which just happens to be longest and by far the hardest phase of my cancer journey. I walked out those doors feeling anxious, fearful, and worried and all of a sudden the weight of the world was on was again on my shoulders, but now in ways that I had never felt before. For 9 months I knew exactly what I had to do to fight my cancer. I saw my oncologist every 3 weeks, my Chemo Nurse, and my Oncology Nurse practitioner regularly, and I saw my infusion nurse nearly everyday. I was being monitored very closely and if anything came up, it was addressed on the spot. As my Oncologist hugged me and said I’ll see you in 3 months, I put on my best smile, but it was hard to fight back the tears that were filling my eyes. There were no tests, no scans, nothing to confirm that the treatments had worked, nothing to assure me that the positive cancer margin that I had left after my bilateral mastectomy were now gone, and nothing to comfort this fear. We were just trusting the science behind chemo and radiation therapy alone and hoping for the best. At this point both my oncologist and my oncology nurse told me that I needed to pay very very close attention to my body and call them right away if anything new was happening because they would get me in, in a moments notice. They said I needed to become the hypochondriac that they were trying so hard to help me become over the course of my treatments, but now I couldn’t help but feel it was all on me. What if I missed something? What if I misinterpreted a sign or most importantly what if there were no signs at all? My mind was racing with fears and concerns. Did my treatments work, did the fact that they deceased my recommended chemo regimen by 25% (because my body couldn’t handle it) decrease the effectiveness of my treatments, what if going through IVF and putting a very high dose of hormones back into my body was a bad idea, was I ever going to feel like me again? As my mind filled with fear and doubt, my anxiety was going through the roof and an internal battle began in my mind. After all I was supposed to be happy, I was supposed to feel better, I was supposed to be putting the bad, the hard, and the scary behind me and I was above all, I was supposed to be getting my life back. In the beginning you are prepared for everything that is about to happen to you and you are told, it is going to be a hard year, but you assume things will get better when that “bad year” comes to a close and the worst of it is over. Unfortunately despite what those on the outside think, this is not what happens as a cancer patient finishes treatments.

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Initially it seems like a lot of physical work, or it did for me. My body was and is just plain beaten down after chemo/radiation treatments and surgeries. I didn’t have the energy to do anything and even walking across the room made me faint, weak, and winded. I struggled and still struggle to lift my left arm above my head because of auxiliary web cording from my mastectomy surgery, and to top it off I was now starting a 10-15 year hormone therapy regime that would cause severe and debilitating bone and joint pain, as well as osteopenia, which is the early on-set of Osteoporosis; when your bones begin to deteriorate because your body is being stripped of all hormones. I was now facing another year of surgeries including several reconstructive surgeries and the surgery that would forever take my ability to bare the second child I was planning for  before my life was turned upside down. The after effects of being medically forced into menopause were also starting to become more then I expected them to be. The headaches, the night sweats, the hot flashes, the pain, and the biggest challenge of losing all closeness and intimacy with my husband at the age of 33 bothered me more and more every day. That’s when it hit me. Nothing about me was the same and it never would be again, despite what everyone around me thought. When I stood in front of the Mirror I did not see Tammy, or even any glimmer of the Tammy I had always been. Rather, I saw someone who had been broken, someone frail, defeated, and most of all someone full of pain, sadness, and fear. It wasn’t just what happened externally in loosing all of the body parts that made me feel like a women and filling my once young looking body with scars because that part I had excepted, or even the weight gain or loss of elasticity in my skin due to the medically induced menopause that were the biggest changes; the biggest changes happened within me and that is something you can only see by looking beyond my smile. I could no longer relate to normal daily conversations with family and friends because cancer became my everything. I could no longer think about the future with delight and anticipation because instead I wondered if I would even be here to see the milestones that my daughter would achieve. I really had lost the ability have fun, the ability to just be “me”, or even the ability to just live life. But the hardest part still to this day, is knowing that the awful “c” word would always be lurking in my world. That no matter what do, no matter how I eat, and no matter how I live, my cancer could always come back and take me from my family.

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If dealing with all of this isn’t enough, I had to add on the hardest aspect of all. I now had to figure out how to navigate through all of this and still put on a smile on my face because to the outside world I was expected to feel better, to be happy, and to be me again. I was supposed to be picking up the pieces of my former life and moving forward with a me that I didn’t know yet. Everywhere I went, I heard “oh my gosh you look so great”. “You must be feeling so much better now that your treatments are done”. Every time I heard this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how wrong that statement was, I couldn’t help but think of how much cancer has taken from me, and how much it is still impacting my life and my mind.

Over the past year I have began to work through all of this, but it has not been an easy process and I cannot say that this process or this work will ever be complete as it too seems to be a very long journey in itself. I would say that my relationships have changed in both good ways and not so good ways. I do feel that in some ways cancer has brought me closer to some and even strengthened some bonds, however I am realizing that I am somewhat withdrawn from even those who used to be closest to me, because what I am going through mentally and emotionally post cancer is something that someone who hasn’t been through cancer themselves could never understand, which creates a certain level of isolation in itself. Every pain, cough, or change in my blood work triggers a fear that my cancer is back and every time I look back on photos from the past year and a half I am reminded of the time that I was not able to be the mommy I wanted to be for Corryn. I do my best to then remind myself that I was doing what I had to do, to ensure I will be here to see her grow into a beautiful women, but the truth is my cancer could still come back. I received a comment that drives home what we young cancer patients already know to be true. When you are diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 40, your cancer is different then if you are diagnosed over the age of 55. It is stronger, more aggressive, faster growing, and it is far more likely to return and metastasize in our bodies. A women commented on my page by saying that she was in a group of young cancer patients 12 years ago and not one of those young women are alive today. This thought haunts me and sadly it always will.

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But on the positive side, I have also learned more about myself over the past year, then I have over my entire lifetime and I truly do believe that I didn’t become the person I was meant to be, until cancer brought me to my knees. With all of the sadness, fear, and anxiety I am learning to accept and even embrace the new me and most of the time, I even  like the new me better. I have always been a very optimistic and positive minded person and I have tried to approach my new life with cancer in the same way. With each day, I make a little more progress, and I am learning that even on the days that take me a few steps backwards, there is always something that can be learned from those steps. For me, it took letting go of what I cannot control and accepting that my cancer could return and take me from my family, before I could actually put that fear aside long enough to live in the moment again and actually smile from my soul. There are still days that this fear does consume me, but on those days I try to listen to my dear friend Vicki and have compassion for myself, and most of all, I try to allow myself to feel what I am feeling for as long as I need, and then I dust myself off and put my game face back on. Looking back I am still not sure I would take any of my cancer journey back, because of all of the life lessons and self-growth it has brought my way, however, if I could make those who don’t love or appreciate their own lives, see just how lucky they are or even just take away some of the fears that lurk in my own mind I would jump at the chance. With that being said, if I could offer any bit of advice to someone in my shoes; it would be to keep your heart and your mind open through your entire journey. Don’t fixate on getting the life you had back, but rather open yourself up to seeing the life you were meant to lead. Don’t worry about the day you will be taken, but rather try to live in the moment today. And above all if your new life with cancer has you feeling sad, fearful, or anxious in ways that others around you could never understand, give yourself that day to feel it. You… We have earned those days, and we need those days in order to get back to the good days. If I could offer any words of advice to a spouse or caretaker or even a friend on the outside, I would tell you to remember that just because we cancer warriors are starting to look healthy on the outside with budding hair and eyebrows it doesn’t mean that we are even a little bit ok on the inside or even that we are “better” at all. Cancer is not something you get through and move on from. It is something that we did not choose but happened anyway, and worst of all it is something that will linger over us causing fear of the unknown, long-term pain, and even some level of sadness and loss for the rest of our lives.

#mypersonalpinktime #oneyearpastradiationmilestone #cancersucks

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Sign My Petition

Breast Cancer Happens Under 50:
Help Me Fight For Early Detection In Younger Women

Forgotten Fighters | Tammy Myers from Tammy Myers on Vimeo. Click here to sign the petition.

It’s official. The Forgotten Fighters campaign is live. Please take a moment to watch the video, sigh the petition and share this link with everyone you know.

Breast Cancer Happens under the age of 50. In fact women in their 20’s and 30’s are being diagnosed with breast cancer every day. The harsh reality is that Breast cancer is not limited to those who have a family history, high body weight, lower activity level, consume more alcohol, or smoke. It can attack any woman, young or old, at any age. This overlooked group—younger women in their 20’s and 30’s—are typically diagnosed with much more aggressive and further advanced forms of breast cancer. It is astonishing that the U.S. Government does not recommend screening young women. Even more, it suggests that younger woman should not even preform self-breast exams. This entirely contradicts the long-held suggestion that early detection saves lives.

If it’s large enough to be felt, it already may be too late When a tumor is found during an annual screening—mammogram or ultrasound—it’s often caught long before it has grown to a size that can be felt. Unfortunately, women under the age of 50, especially those under 40, must rely on themselves to find a lump. We must show the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force that although we may be the smallest categories of women diagnosed with breast cancer, we still represent lives that could be saved. In the absence of Government-guided support, young women need to be our own breast advocates. We need to forget about the guidelines and get to know our bodies, check ourselves often, and push our medical team to do the same.

Please join us in the fight to change the recommendation to a much earlier age and give younger women a fighting chance against breast cancer. Don’t just do it for us, do it for all the daughters, mothers, and wife’s who will be diagnosed.

Please take a few moments to watch the video below, like the forgotten fighters Facebook page, sign the petition, and of course help me make this grassroots campaign go viral, by passing this message along to everyone you know.
A very special thanks to Rhino media, Shutter Sam Photography, I do Signs, White dress events, Modern Day Floral, Sip Organic Juice Bar, Adrienne and Meghan from Pure Salon, Anything Goes Catering, The Cakabakery, The Event Loft, Hourborfront Banquet Hall, Wasserman’s flowers, White Dress Events, Grand Finale Desserts and Pastries, and to Ron Kellow who helped me string all of this content together. I am so thankful that you trusted in my crazy ideas, and jumped on board to donate time and services, to help me turn my crazy little vision into a reality. I truly could not have done any of this without all of you.

Now let’s make some waves! Click here to sign the petition.

In order to truly make waves we must show support with signatures.

You can also check out the webpage at forgottenfighters.org

#Forgottenfighers #Mypersonalpinktimeprojects #reversetherecommendation

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Lung Update: The Good, The Bad, and Even The Sad.

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It has been a little over a week since I was released from the hospital for the second time and I am once again perplexing my entire medical team…. or as my nurses point out, keeping all of my specialists on their toes. I will be honest, It has been a really hard few weeks as I recover from my chest tube procedure and extended stays in the hospital and both the emotional and physical pain that comes with that. I have been doing all that I can physically stand to do to distract myself from the fact that I have again been reminded that I am that .1% and as always I fall into the rare category with everything. As hard as it is for me, I have I to admit that I have had some of my lowest points since the very day I was diagnosed these past few weeks and, I actually took my positive and hopeful hat off and just felt, sad, frustrated, and even mad that I am still going through what I am going through 17 months after my diagnosis. I had prepared my mind and my body to face a year of sickness and pain in prepped both my mind and my body for the hardest battle of my life, however that was all with the expectation that after those very horrible and trying 12 months of treatment and surgeries, I would again regain my life or at least feel better, not worse.

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However, here we are a year and a half later and I am still being wheeled off to unplanned surgeries, and sitting in the infusion chairs far more then I would like to admit. As this point, my mind is sharp, my determination is strong, and I am ready to jump back into life, however my body is fighting me a bit on how soon this transition can and will happen. My team is again reminding me that my journey with breast cancer specifically is not the norm and I shouldn’t compare or beat myself because I have had to face many obstacles that do not arise in most or any other cases.. I have heard this from the beginning, and I have taken it in stride because to me, my journey is all I have ever known. With each curve ball I have been thrown, I have held my head high and forged through with an optimistic smile. I really never have looked up to the sky and asked why me which until this past week. I have faced every single sad, scary and frustrating day with true and real optimism and I have always believed that everything that has and is happening to me, was part of a greater and bigger plan for me in the long run a test of sorts that would take me where I was meant to be, but for whatever reason these past two surgeries and past 3 hospital stays have gotten me pretty down. I am not sure if it is because I am again trying to come to terms with the fact that it seems that no matter what, my path always comes with scares and complications or if it is just all catching up to me, but after a week and a half in the hospital, I had, just plain had enough. I wanted to go home. Ok, really I wanted to run out of the hospital and run away from everything that my life has become. I just wanted to disappear and pretend none of this was happening and although I know my medical team at Butterworth had a good reason to wanting to keep me admitted there was no stopping me. I just had to get out of that hospital and breathe, because in my mind I was literally going a little crazy.

For the first time, ever I got angry that I have been dealt a crummy hand and I felt sorry for myself. My husband was nervous to take me out of the hospital without full approval of the doctors, however I think he could see what was happening inside of me and he knew that I really just needed to break away. Within in seconds of being in the car, I started to cry. As we drove to get my prescriptions, I said, “I’m sorry. I know you didn’t want me to go, but I had to get out of there. I just cannot take it anymore.” I was struggling to keep up with all of the amazingly inspirational texts, cards, and posts, and I realized that I really just needed to “tap out” of the reality of my life and pretend that I wasn’t “Tammy the cancer patient.” Jordan could tell I was a mess, and I’m not sure he knew what to do. He reminded me that I needed to cut myself a break because it has been a crumby few weeks, as I watched quietly out the window, but it wasn’t helping. Everyone I saw seemed to represent something I no longer have in being out and about enjoying life. That alone seemed to fuel my frustration even more as they reminded me of how much I am still loosing in this battle. With the flip of a switch I was crying again.

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Take Me Out To The Ballpark

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Ok so I will be honest, I am still pretty disconnected from…. Um everything, and I am very much still working my way back from the craziest few weeks that I have had in a very very very long time. Truth is I have had so so many things to write about and just not enough time, or really enough energy to make it all happen with what’s been happening with me physically. So let’s just say there are A LOT of half-written posts in the works.

In some ways this has been the hardest few weeks since my diagnosis, even harder then my intense treatment days, but I will admit that before the last few weeks of classic “Tammy” medical mayhem, some good things actually did happen too, and although there has been a lot of emotion and a lot of pain, there has also been pretty great moments with some very special people in my life as well. So look for me to flood the feed here in the next few weeks with full updates on all fronts, starting with an update from today’s appointments with the Pulmonologist and how I am currently. (Probably tomorrow as I sit in the infusion chair)

But for now I will share this little bit of Awesomeness with the disclaimer that I know that I probably should not have done this given that, I oh… Just got out of the hospital two days ago, and I am very much still struggling with the recovery pain of having a chest tube placed in addition to some inflamed and possibly, but hopefully not infected lungs…. But as some of you know I’m a little crazy, so I took a LOT of pain meds, put my big Jackie-O style glasses on to hide those pain pills and we rushed from my appointments directly to the ballpark for the Pink Out Whitecaps baseball game that I vowed not to miss. And…. I actually threw out one of the first pitches. I will say it didn’t even make it to the plate, well maybe with a bounce, and it did hurt like hell…. because my chest tube was actually placed behind my shoulder blade and muscles were effected so I’m paying for it now big time, but it was so worth it. The truth is, either way I would be feeling the pain now right? At least this way I got a fun experience in there too. The very really truth is that Sometimes you just have to say…. Screw it! I’m not going to let life or better yet my own life circumstances hold me back today! And celebrate the fact that despite one hell of a hard, uphill cancer journey thus far, I am still a Survivor… (Or as I prefer to say, I am a Cancer warrior) Am I right? Plus it made my day to hear my sweet girl Yelling “Good job Mommy! You threw the ball SOOOO far!” From the side lines.

A huge thanks to the West Michigan Komen Association for giving us the gift of this night out as a family at the ballpark to celebrate our “pinkness”, a very big thank you to my husband Jordan for biting his tongue and letting me break the rules of rest and recovery to yet again push myself just a little too far, but this time for a little fun, (As this was my positive way of standing up with him and saying “F*ck Cancer without wearing his awesome shirt) and lastly thank you to my brother Scott, his girlfriend Amanda, and my nephew Connor for making the trip across the state to share this fun “pink”. night with Jordan, Corryn, and I.

Here are a few photos of Pinkness at the BallPark. Now I have to rest before day of appointments.

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‪#‎mypersonalpinktime‬ ‪#‎susangkomen‬ ‪#‎WestMichiganWhiteCaps‬ ‪#‎f‬*ckcancer ‪#‎pinkout‬

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Update on Tammy’s Condition

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Hey Guys, it’s Jordan again.
Here’s an update on Tam.

We are now at Butterworth Hospital downtown. After giving Tammy A LOT of medications to get her pain under control and running several tests last night they found out that Tammy has inflammation in her lungs called radiation pneumonitis. I guess this can be pretty painful. They gave her some pretty heavy doses of a steroid last night for this but needed her to be seen by a thoracic surgeon on this which they didn’t have staffed at Blodgett, so we were sent by ambulance to Spectrum Butterworth, which we didn’t really feel was needed. However I guess it is protocol.

They also said that she has subcutaneous emphysema which is when some of the air leaks out of the chest tube and gets stuck between the muscles. For her it is in between the muscles behind her shoulder and in her left side under her arm. This too is really painful and can move around a bit from the incision/lung site so this could explain a lot of what Tam is experiencing in her chest as well. In addition we were told that they saw some apical scaring on the lung and that there was still a small pneumothorax present after the chest tube was removed in addition to a UTI because of being repeatedly straight-cathed last week after the surgery. They are hoping that the small pneumothorax and the subcutaneous emphysema heals on it’s own in time and she is receiving high strength IV meds for the UTI. We are being told that some of this is common (finally) and can be happen with chest tubes, so they are hoping it resolves itself. We just really need to get the inflammation and the painful subcutaneous emphysema take care of.

As of now, we are still waiting to see a Thoracic Surgeon. Tammy is still in a lot of pain, but she doesn’t want to take all the meds they are suggesting because she want’s to be with it when the Doctor comes in so she is again smiling and making the best of spending a few more days in the hospital but off the record she is pretty funny on the meds. At this point we are being told we will be here until at least tomorrow, but we are hoping to get home as soon as we can. We are both missing a little girl who has been hanging with her Grandma’s for the past week.

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Officially Discharged

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Officially being discharged from Butterworth after 4 days of post-surgical care. From what I understand, the procedure to place the drainage tube in my lung, went well. The location of the hole made the procedure tricky because of some main arteries located in that area, but they were able to go in through my back to place the tube instead, and the hole is expected to heal over the next few weeks. They were able to get the trapped air and what looked to be a lot of blood out of my lung and my lung did re-inflate in the affected areas, so they were able to remove the tube late last night. OUCH!
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I don’t actually remember much of the past few days because the IV meds kind of kept me in a fog……. Which I am thankful for, because now that the IV meds are wearing off, I am realizing how right my nurses were in warning me that this would be a very very painful process. Wowers! I won’t lie, I have been through A LOT of painful surgeries, but this one, is right up there on the pain scale. Either way, it way more then I prepared myself for, and I was bummed to hear that it will hurt like this for a good few weeks.

While admitted I did have a few visitors, including one who came with flowers in hand and happened to be from Spectrum Heath’s Marketing department, but mostly, I spent 4 days in bed; resting, healing, relaxing, and sleeping, which if you know me at all, you know that none of these actions happen often. So you know I’m on the right track. I will see my surgeon in a few weeks for repeat CT scans and chest X-rays to see if surgery was a full success, but for now I’ll be on the couch hoping to feel more like myself soon!!!!

‪#‎Surgerystinks‬!
‪#‎mypersonalpinktime‬
‪#‎Cancerstinks‬!

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