Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I'm staring at two weeks. Two weeks until my next mastectomy. Two weeks until I do this all over again. The surgery, the pain, the drains, the removal, the healing. Why am I doing this? Voluntarily? UGH.....

I stand in front of the mirror and I look at myself trying to see if there is a way around having this surgery again. If there is a way around removing both of my breasts that will have implants with skin covering them. A way to wrap my head around the fact that I had cancer. And lost both of my breasts. Due to my own choices. Not that I chose to have cancer. But that I chose to have my breasts removed. Both of them. Who does that?

And then I remind myself. People who want the chatter in their head to stop make this decision. People who want to increase their chances of living make this decision
. People who realize intellectually that breasts are not what makes a person. Even if emotionally they feel they are being judged.

This is not an easy decision. I'm imposing on a ton of people to have a mastectomy this time. Last time it was my parents. Who are medically not in a place to care for me this time. So it is left to our sitter. My husband. My sister. My friends. People who have their own busy lives but are willing to take a moment out to help me. I am humbled all over again. I am inconvienencing my patients who will have to go a month without guidance. I feel horrible about that. I will feel every stumbling block they feel and take responsibility for them. Who leaves their patients for a MONTH?  Sigh...... And my children. Who's summer will be filled with other people taking them to camp, swimming, to dance class, to the cabin.....when it should be me. It should be ME.

But in the middle of the wallowing in self pity, I am reminded that I asked to walk in Grace. That I asked for this journey to make an impact on others. That I asked for this testimony to lean on God and to trust His weaving. So, I am trying to do that. To lean back. To let go. To accept the fact that my real breasts tried to kill me and yet I could make decisions to save myself. So that with God's will, I could watch my children grow, marry, and have kids of their own. That I could hold my baby niece and tell her amazing stories from her Dad's youth. Every time I see an elderly woman, I pray that one day, that will be me.

So for two more weeks I'll waddle around in thoughts that won't leave my head. Looking at my mismatched breasts that feel cold to the touch. And I'll remind myself I'm still one of the lucky ones. I'm a survivor.

Monday, June 9, 2014

You Never Know.......

Who goes on vacation and ends up on the local news? This family!! Some of the crazy hair brained schemes of our lives have never gotten us so much attention. But this one act of last minute decision making (Thanks, Dave, for pushing us all to go!) got us much more than we bargained for.

We go to South Dakota because my Dad is a history buff. He loves Custer, the battles, the Indians, the forts, anything that is related to that time period, he is so into it. I've bought him so many books through the years, we could have our own library. This is my Dad's thing. And through him, ours. Every 4-5 years we have been going to South Dakota with my parents. As young children, and now as adults. Most people go to the beach. We climb mountains. Most people lay in the sand. We bring home huge granite rocks. It's just how it has always been.

In 2005 we did our first Volkswalk up Crazy Horse Monument. On a few days of the year you can walk through the woods and up the monument to the flung out arm. It's a 10K. Mostly uphill. That first time, it was so cold, we had to buy sweatshirts before we started! With Kadin by our side, my dad, brother, husband, and I walked up to the top and took in the breathtaking view. In 2010 we took Cullen as well. This year we were going to take Liam, Elliana, my brother's wife and their baby. But due to the cold weather and the rain, the girls stayed home with Johnna who was gracious enough to remain behind so the babies weren't exposed to the horrible weather.

Who wants to climb a mountain in 45 degree weather? In the rain? No one. But Dave said we came all this way to do it for my Dad, so we headed out.

See, my Dad couldn't be here this time. With surgery on his carotid artery less than 2 weeks past, he was not able to come. So we walked for him. This time, my sister, her son, Dave, all three of our boys, my brother, and I did the walk. A first for Lisa, Jacob, and Liam. Did I mention it was cold? And RAINING?? And this is a hike through the woods and up a mountain? We are crazy!

At the first checkpoint there was a guy with a camera. Just a guy. With a tripod and a camera. Now, I admit, I've been to Disney wayyyy too much. I thought this guy was snapping pictures of people to commemorate their walk. So we get our checkpoint cards signed and I move over to see if he will take our picture. A family photo! How awesome! So, he does it. And then I realize......he is not there to take pictures!! We walk up to him and he is actually an anchorman from a TV station in Rapid City. He is there to film the Volkswalk and to look for a human interest story. We become his story.

He asks if he can follow us up the monument and we say YES! So now we are a group of nine. We learn his name is David Johnson. He's been in Rapid City for 3 months. He would like to do International News. He lived in California. He has a small apartment and likes the warmer weather over the cold we are in. We are here to tell our story but we are blessed more by this man who came into our lives unaware. He films us through the walk, the mud, the other people, and we chat.

We tell him about our hard year. My beast cancer. My brothers shattered arm. My mom's hospitalization and near death episode. My dad's surgery and struggles since......how we are all here. Smiling, laughing, joking, and helping each other up this huge monument for our Dad. Dave chats with David about all kinds of things. We have a new sibling and he is really nice. :)

At the top, we face time with Mom and Dad. Because of the rain, the arm is not filled with people so we can wander around as we want. Showing Dad the view, letting him see if more cracks have come upon the face of Crazy Horse in the past 4 years. Letting them talk with their grandsons. It was the next best thing to having them with us. To see his face and to tell him, we did it. For you.

It was the yuckiest of days. One where you would rather stay in the cabin. But thanks to my husband's foresight, we braved the elements and had one of the best days ever. You never know when a day that seems so dismal will be one of your biggest blessings.