Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Daisypath - Personal pictureDaisypath Anniversary tickers

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Happy Half Century 

  1. So, I turned 50. I went to see my grandma on my birthday. And I cried like a baby. I told her the truth about everything. That I'm scared they won't get all of the cancer. That I'm tired of going to treatment every single day. That it's just not fair. She agreed with everything I said, like she always has. She hugged me. She cried. She told me she loves me. It was all that I needed. 
  2. I also went to see my Mom on my birthday. I thought about how she might have felt 50 years ago when she gave birth to her first baby. I can relate to her more than I ever have, now that this vicious disease has attacked me too. Dang, but I miss her. 
I also got to see most of my grandbabies over my birthday weekend. Feeding Kendricks an ice cream cone was one of the cutest things ever. I love the ice cream on his nose :) 
It was Fathers Day on my birthday, and I got to see my Dad and all of my siblings except Ted. We don't do this often enough. 

We went to Wendover, and Ken bought me this necklace from a Native American selling jewelry at the rest stop on the Bonneville Salt Flats. It has significance for me because my people call themselves #tinastribe. You can see the rashes on my skin from the radiation. 
I grew up 90 miles from here, and I had never actually stepped onto the salt flats until now. It was crazy cool. Your feet get covered in salt as if you are on the beach getting covered in sand. 
It's not officially summer until I've had my first strawberry acai refresher from Starbucks. This one didn't even last long enough to get a good photo.
On Friday, all of my sisters and my niece Brooklyn surprised me and showed up at the hospital before my radiation treatment. They threw me a birthday party right there in the waiting room. I loved the cookies Tami made,, "Before" and "After" mastectomy cookies. Love it! 
I took Riken to my radiation appointment and everyone told me what a pretty little girl he is. Yeah, we get that a lot. He IS pretty. 
Tyler and Kieonah know me so well :) 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Don't Make Friends in the Cancer Center

One of the radiation techs really did say this to me on Monday.
I had seen a "new girl" last week at radiation, and on Monday she went into the waiting room to get some pamphlets while I was waiting. I did my whole bubbly, positive thing that I've been doing all along. I asked her what her name is, made small talk about radiation, and I said "It could be worse, right?" thinking that atleast we are in radiation, not chemo. She had all of her hair and looked fantastic. She looked me in the eye and said "I have Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. I am having radiation to reduce the size of my tumors so I can try and live a little bit longer but I know that this is what will kill me. I don't think it could get much worse." I cried. She cried. I hugged her. I couldn't feel the hug because I have fake breast expanders where my real boobs  used to be. 
The radiation tech, Brooke, came in to get me for my treatment and saw me crying with the new girl. When we got into the treatment room, Brooke said "Don't make friends in the cancer center, Tina". The implication was very clear. One or both us probably won't make it. We will DIE. Sooner than later. Because, you know, we have effen CANCER!!! Ugh. It's getting so REAL for me lately. Not sure why it took this long. Was I in denial? Just super optimistic? Just stupid? I don't know. But I do know that cancer sucks. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Simply Radiant

I will be having 28 rounds of radiation treatments. Today is Day #8. I couldn't do it without these people. Tami and Brooklyn come to Provo on Fridays and we eat in the hospital cafeteria. We laugh so hard. We call ourselves the #Core4. It helps. 
I also wear a different pair of novelty socks each day. 

8 days down. 28 to go. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Light at the end of Limbo

This is our life now. Doctor appointments so often that this seems like a fashion choice and Ken just plays on his phone. My sister is so amazing to check on me like every day and see how I am emotionally and physically, but for the most part, life has to go back to normal for everyone but me and Ken. We live this stupid cancer thing every day. Ugh. 
Radiation starts the day after tomorrow. Yay! 
His boss is being so cool. He said Ken can leave every day at 2:00 to take me to my appointments. I really just want to get these treatments done so that our lives can go back to normal too. 
We did have a little fun this week though. 

Last weekend was my niece Kylie's baby shower. It was so good to see my family, and Kylie is the cutest pregnant mom ever. 

New baby!!!! Ken's daughter Jenny had a sweet little baby boy named Cooper James and he is already known as CJ. He fell asleep on my chest! I had been so worried about that. 
I  planted flowers in pots for the porch. Last year, I was in the trailer in Richfield all summer, and Ken wasn't exactly the most dedicated flower hydrator. lol. 
It was the Scandinavian festival here in Ephraim. We always go over on Fridays and have lunch. It gets too crowded and crazy on Saturday, so the locals hit the booths on Friday. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Limbo Land

I'm living in limbo land. I know I need radiation but no chemotherapy. YAY for the no chemo part. But I don't know exactly WHEN I'll start radiation. 
And I get feeling better each day, which is super nice. 
But once radiation starts, I will get feeling super yucky again. I will go every day Monday-Friday for 5 1/2 weeks. 28 rounds of radiation. If you google it, you only see the very worst pictures of radiation burns and permanent skin damage. But what choice do you have, really? I had a grade 1 tumor with a teeny tiny little bit of cancer in the sentinel node that was removed. So maybe that was all the cancer that I had. And maybe it wasn't. So radiation. I had a test called a Mammaprint which is supposed to tell you how mean your tumor was. If it was a mean tumor, that was growing rapidly and likely to have moved beyond the lymph nodes, I would have needed chemo. But my Mammaprint came back as "low risk" so I just do radiation. Sometime. When my temporary expanders are full enough for eventual reconstruction. The drains are out, but the doctor acted like it was too soon to take them out. I was getting less than 25 ccs of fluid out of each drain each day, and that is when they take them out. But she seemed hesitant to do it. She warned me that the temporary breasts may fill up with fluid and I would need to call the surgeon  immediately if that seemed to be happening so he can use an ultrasound and manually drain the breasts. So like every time I feel a tiny bit weird, I think my breasts are full of fluid because my drains came out too early, I'm going to get some massive infection and the incisions will open up like an earthquake. I definitely went back to work too soon. I went back two weeks after my double mastectomy, with the drains still in place. I had staff meeting, a really tough court case, and I was supposed to do a supervised visit with the mom of the really tough court case. Fortunately, Val came through and did the supervised visit for me, so I was able to go home after court. I've had a lot of doctor appointments, so I'm not back full-time, but that first day was rough. Today was great. I wasn't tired, I got a lot done. I've found that if I drink lots of water each day, walk as much as I can, and force myself to stop for breaks and lunch, I do pretty well. Pre-cancer, I worked 12 hour days and never stopped for lunch. I lived on caffeine. I never socialized with my colleagues. Now I sit with them in the breakroom and eat a healthy lunch. It's good for my psyche and my body. 
 The best part of having cancer is that you get to see how much people really love you. I've had so many visitors since all of this started. These pictures barely put a dent in it. I love my people so much <3 p="">

Saturday, May 05, 2018

The Real Face of Cancer

 I make a huge effort to be positive about this whole cancer thing. One, I believe it will aid my recovery immensely if I go at it with a hopeful, determined outlook. Two, my family needs me to be positive. They love me. They are worried enough without me acting scared that I'm going to die. 
 But he knows that some days are harder than others. Some days I am scared that I am going to die. 
 And EVERY day includes emptying these bloody drains (pun intended) with the occasional clot or clump of tissue. 
 My daughter and my sister get glimpses of how I really feel sometimes too. 
And #tinastribe just makes it all better on the days when it isn't super easy. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Tina’s Tribe

I had a double mastectomy on April 25 at American Fork Hospital by Dr Jennifer Tittensor. Dr Mark Jensen placed expanders at the same time to prepare for breast reconstruction surgery which will take place in a few months. A sentinel node biopsy showed no cancer cells in the lymph nodes, but we won't be out of the woods until final test results come in next week. Hopes and prayers that radiation and chemotherapy will not be part of my treatment needs. 
My family was AMAZING!!!! We were told that only two adults and absolutely no children could be in the waiting room during my surgery, so my husband Ken planned to be there, and my daughter Ashli would join him after she dropped her two little boys off with their other grandma. When I got to the hospital, however, I had a whole tribe waiting for me. All dressed in matching t-shirts, holding flowers that they each handed to me. My mom had seven children when she died at age 39 of breast cancer. My dad never remarried. All of my siblings but one were there at the hospital, and my sweet dad was at the head of the line. All of my children, their spouses, all of my grandchildren. Those who couldn't attend in person posted pictures on facebook of them wearing pink for me the day of my surgery. I am so blessed to have this amazing family. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Week Before Surgery

It's been a LONG week. We saw the breast surgeon on Tuesday(who introduced herself as "Jennifer" btw, immediately putting me at ease) and scheduled a double mastectomy for April 25. I had an MRI on Friday. Ok THAT is pretty much one of the most unpleasant experiences ever. I'm super proud of myself for holding still and simply making it through. Apparently it could have been worse, though. For a breast MRI, you lie on your stomach and literally scoop your breasts down into these two holes. Your head is lying on a pillow like the ones on a massage table. And the similarities to a massage table end there. But, going into the tube facedown apparently causes less claustrophobic panic than going in face up. So there's that.  
All the bells and whistles are still there, though. And by that I mean super loud bursts of all sorts of different sounds, from knocking to banging to clanging. 
 Ken has been AMAZING this week. He's been there for everything. Tuesday, he took me to Build-a-Bear and we built a pink bear named BooBoo with Ken's voice recorded saying "I love you baby". We bought button-top pajamas, soft socks and slippers for the hospital. He took me to lunch at Tucanos. He tries to assure me that I will still be me without the 42 DD's that I've had for the last 20 years. 
But I still worry that my grandbabies will never sleep as comfortably on Nana's chest as Staten did today. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Diagnosis Day

They said the results of the biopsy would take 3-4 business days, putting at us at like April 10. So, when the phone call came on April 6, the day after the biospy, I knew. I was even prepared for it. Dr Bastian had told Ashli and Ken the truth at the biopsy. He told them he couldn't say for sure without the official biopsy result, but he thought it looked like a stage 1 cancerous lesion. 
So I was ready for the news. Yet, I wasn't ready for the news. I was tending Staten that day. Ken was at work. It was just me and the little man when the call came. And he had that little smile that Staten always has. He's always going to be a look-on-the-bright-side kind of guy :) 
Geri actually gave me the news herself. Dr Frischknecht wasn't in that day and she knew I'd want to know that day, a Friday, rather than wait all weekend. She was right. I was glad she called. She cried and told me she loves me, that's it's Stage 1 and the prognosis is really good. I cried for a while. And I've cried some since then, but mostly, it's OK. Mostly, it's easy to stay positive. I have a great team surrounding me, lots of support. 


Girls like us are supposed to get a mammogram every year. Mom died of breast cancer at age 39. So why they make you wait until age 40 to get yearly mammos makes no sense to me. But, anyway... age 40, 41, 42... mammograms. At 48, I got a great new job, I was crazy busy and didn't get my mammogram done. So I made sure not to miss it this year. March 26, 2018. Age 49. This was followed by a form letter stating that my mammogram was abnormal. I've had abnormal mammograms before, but this just felt different from the minute I opened the envelope. I needed an ultrasound guided biopsy which I had on April 5. Because there is absolutely no sense in needless worrying, I only told Ken and Ashli that I was having the biopsy. And they were there for it. 
Yeah, it was pretty much the scariest thing I've ever done. 
But this guy was there for me. I couldn't look at the computer screen, or the biopsy gun, or anything but Ken. He said "You have pretty blue eyes" just before Ashli took this picture. 
And he just made it better. 
The biopsy was nothing like I expected it would be. You hear "needle biopsy" and you think it's no big deal,  right? But the needle is actually one needle inside of another needle, all inside of a loud gun. Sort of like an ear piercing gun, I guess is the best way to describe it. Dr Bastian numbed it up before the procedure, but yeah, it was still pretty unpleasant. The inside needle draws tissue out and pulls it up into the sheath created by the outside needle. He drops the sample in a cup and does it again. Like 6 times, I think.  
The biopsy site looked pretty awful for a few days there. But I'm pretty sure this will seem like nothing in the weeks ahead! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

I'm Joining the Pink Hat Society

It happened. I have breast cancer. And, yeah, I chose this picture because of the cleavage. I'm planning on a double mastectomy. I see the surgeon on Tuesday. Her name is Dr TITTENSOR!! I am not joking. A breast surgeon whose name sounds like sore tits. I've been prepared for this possibility for 31 years, since breast cancer stole my mom. Yet, I am completely unprepared at the same time. 

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Dear Puerto Rico: 
It is NOT your fault that the budget is "out of whack". 
It is not even the FAULT of Hurricane Maria that the budget is "out of whack". 
It is life. We are family. We should take care of each other, no matter the cost. No matter if you live in Florida or on island surrounded by water, big water, ocean  water. I'm glad your death toll wasn't in the thousands like Katrina, but every one of your 17 lost lives matter. 
WHEN? When will America be great again? 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

 I'll never forget the first time I went to Vegas. I was 20-something. I couldn't get over the fact that waterfalls turned into volcanoes every 15 minutes. I went to Vegas atleast once a year after that. Took my kids to see Aaron Carter in concert and Tyler slept through the whole noisy show. I'm addicted to Pepsi because they served it at the Knights of the Roundtable Show at the Excalibur. Magician Lance Burton gave a shout-out to Zack on his 8th birthday.  I saw "Phantom of the Opera" for the first time in Vegas. Spent my honeymoon there just 6 years ago. Finally ate at Wahlburgers when they opened one in Vegas last year. I love that city. I've been going to Vegas even more than once a year since my kids moved to Hurricane, less than two hours from Vegas. In fact, I was just there last month, buying school clothes for my grandson Riken to begin pre-school. I had a life-changing experience in Vegas that day when I bought myself a sleeveless shirt to wear in the 112-degree heat. 
So the news of the massacre that occurred two days ago in Las Vegas left me in shock. 
9/11 was tough. It stole the innocence of American children. I worried about the world my children were living in. But they were still little. I felt that I had some control over keeping them safe in 2001. 
In 2017, my children are adults. If they wanted to go to a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas, I might not even know they were there until they posted a picture on facebook. They don't tell me where they are every day of their lives anymore. 
So they could have been there.
 And they could have been killed.
 And I couldn't have protected them. 
And I feel helpless in making the world a better place for my grandchildren. 
America is not great again. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Outside > Inside

Sometimes I'm kind of embarrassed that it took me until I was nearly 50 years old to finally start thinking outside of the box. I was talking to my life coach about this the other day, and she said that's it not that unusual when you consider that I didn't get my college degree until I was in my 40's and just barely started my first "career" job 5 months ago. In many ways, I'm thinking like a 20-something because I'm living like a 20-something. I sort of skipped those years in my emotional and intellectual development because the minute someone opened the ring box when I was 20,  I jumped into the life box. Culturally, I did exactly what was expected of me, and it didn't seem weird at all to stop developing personally so I could be a mom and help three little people develop. Now it's my time. And I'm changing so much. I hardly even recognize myself anymore. Not only do I NOT have to inspect photos before I allow anyone to post them on social media, I'm the one posting some of the worst photos of myself because the grandbabies look cute in them. It's not about how I look in them. I put my swimsuit on and get in the pool with everyone else. I don't like WEAR the cover-up thing right up to the edge of the pool, slide the bottom half of my body into the water before removing the cover-up completely. I toss it on a chair and walk over to the pool just like everyone else. No, I haven't lost weight. I don't suddenly LOVE my body so much that I want everyone to see it. It's just that I've ACCEPTED my body. I'm at peace with it. I've spent SO much time worrying about it. I'm trying to eat healthier so I can be healthier. What a concept. Not because I want to look better in a swimsuit. I monitor my blood pressure, take really important steps to manage the stress in my life (of which there is a lot in this social work career!) and have started saying "NO" to all of the things that took up too much time of my time for the past 40+ years. I don't fit in any box anymore. Not physically or figuratively. It was too restrictive and I couldn't ever see more than that teeny patch of sky. I was always promised that some day I would see the entire world, not just that little patch. Well, I decided I want to see the entire world NOW, not someday. I want to go swimming NOW, not "when I lose weight".  I want to go on vacations NOW, not "when I can afford it". I want to enjoy my weekends with Ken without having to worry about something else taking up my time. Yeah, I really, really like it out here.