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Sunday, June 7, 2015

National Cancer Survivors Day!

In my very lame attempt to grab your attention again and return your interest in my blog, I am taking advantage of today to catch you up on the last... few months? Bear with me and I promise over the next couple of weeks I will make it worth your while.

Today is National Cancer Survivor's Day. I didn't even know that it was a 'thing' until last year when Derick and I stumbled across a celebration for cancer survivors in the Cancer Survivor park (which I also did not know was a 'thing') on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. I'm not even sure how I feel about celebrating it to be honest. I wonder if other survivors feel the same as me... as far as I'm concerned, EVERY DAY is cancer survivors day!! If I wake up in the morning and live another day, it's a day to celebrate!! So what's the deal with this day? I thought seriously about doing some research on the history, but I decided that my time is better spent updating all you before life gets nuts again. (did it ever stop??) I will celebrate even if I don't know how this day came to be tagged "National Cancer Survivor Day" because...why wouldn't I?? It's another day to live, another day to celebrate, and a day to recognize the MANY incredible people I know who have survived cancer. You know who you are and YOU ARE STRONG!!!! So there.

So then, what did we do to celebrate today?

This morning, Derick and I headed to Lawrence to cheer and support our friend, Adam and his fiance, Sarah, in the Legend Free State Triathlon. Adam has never done a triathlon before and chose a 1/2 Ironman distance for his first crack at it. He's a bit of a freak of to accomplish pretty much any athletic feat. It was a fantastic day with our incredible friends, Jim and Debbie, and the Adam/Sarah parental units. Amazing people and a super fun day filled with sightings of several good friends fighting the intense heat to get the job done. It is so inspirational to see so many people out working hard to take care of themselves and accomplish their goals. Men, women, young adults...all shapes and sizes. I miss the race scene and hope that next year holds some races for me.

Why not this year? Why not ANY year since the nasty cancer business?

I have no answer for that. I've been full of excuses and fear to push my body too hard. I'm getting soft and I'm over it. I'm giving myself the rest of this year to focus on family, work, and most importantly, the residual health issues that have been nagging me over the past couple of years and then it's ON! As far as these 'health issues', stay tuned. My docs aren't worried, but we've been running lots of tests to figure out what exactly is going on with this bod. I promise a new post over the next couple of weeks when we have some results.

In the meantime, hug a Cancer Survivor today.


Friday, October 3, 2014

California or BUST!!

When I originally typed this post with just a simple description and link to my fundraising page, I felt so lame!!!  When Derick and I signed up for the Tour de Pink, we had grand intentions to do amazing fundraisers and hit our goals with no problem. What we didn't plan for was buying a new home that needed a complete renovation, 3 acres of new yard to mow, Josh playing two sports through the summer (which we LOVED supporting both baseball and soccer!) and taking most of our evenings and weekends, work getting busier, and simply running out of time to schedule!!! So yes, the party at our new house is still being planned, the Walnut Grove bike rides and trail runs will still happen, but not in the next two weeks before we leave!!! We both hate asking for help, but we really need it. Tomorrow morning we ship our bikes to California and we leave 13 days from today. We are paying for this entire trip, including the bike shipping, out of pocket. All of the funds we raise are going directly to the YSC. So without further ado, here is the original lame post (and yes, we will soon be begging):

In two short weeks, Derick and I will start our 200 bike ride from Paso Robles to Point Mugu, CA in the Tour de Pink. We committed to raising $5000 for the Young Survival Coalition when we registered for the ride a few months ago. We are more than halfway there, but have $2000 that we will be donating if we don't hit our goal! We need your help! Please don't misunderstand... the money goes to an amazing organization that has been a constant source of support for me through my journey and for many other young women. If 100 people donate $20 or more, we will have no problem hitting our goal in the next two weeks. Please visit our page to learn more and to make a donation at:

Thank you so much for your support!!!


p.s. As I start to decorate my bike jersey with the names of all of the amazing young survivors that I have met through my journey, please let me know if you want me to add one for you!!!! In honor of or In memory... I've got a lot!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Resurrection

Resurrection: the concept of a living being coming back to life after death

So maybe this is a weird way to resurrect a cancer blog, but since my last post was in March 2012 (!!!) just after my first surgery, I think it is rather apropos.

In Platonic philosophy and other Greek philosophical thought, at death the soul was said to leave the inferior body behind. Let's just say that following that surgery, I DEFINITELY left that inferior body behind :-) There's a lot of catching up to do to make up for skipping more than 2 years of blog posts, but I don't have time tonight.

Today is a big day for me. Exactly 3 years ago today, I had a 'cyst' removed. One that reared its ugly head 5 days later and forced my surgeon to call me on a business trip to tell me that I had the big C. In the first few weeks I learned that the first 3 years of survivorship for a triple negative survivor are HUGE. The rates of recurrence drop dramatically at that point, pretty much making my odds of getting recurrent cancer about the same as most of you. I had a big day planned today but things didn't exactly turn out the way I planned. If there is a more appropriate way to 'celebrate' your Cancerversary, I couldn't tell you what it could possibly be.

My amazing hubby (I'll post on that later!!) and I had planned an early morning bike ride/training day for the Tour de Pink (don't worry, you'll hear more about that later too!) with our incredible friend Adam (aka Life Coach, Brother Adam, the man, the myth, the legend). We were going to ride from our new house (yes, yet another future topic!!) to Lawrence, KS, eat some breakfast and ride home. Maybe a 40 or 50 mile ride round trip. I was so excited that I could hardly sleep (the supermoon shining through our tent directly in my eyes didn't help either). Unfortunately, the supermoon brought a thunderstorm and foiled our plan to ride. I wasn't about to risk getting struck by lightning on my Cancerversary!! So we could have waited for the storm to clear, which it did a few hours later making way for a beautiful day.

Unfortunately, our Grandma (my mother-in-law's Mom) had a rough go of it last night and we opted to take our day to travel to visit her (and Mom too!) while we had the chance. This woman is amazing...92 years of spunk, sharp as a tack and still as sweet as pie. There is NO WAY that I would have missed this opportunity to hold her hand and kiss her cheek. She is an important part of my husband's life and for very good reason. It took one visit with her a couple of years ago to know that she is truly someone special. Of course we got to see Mom and some other family members too so it was a wonderful trip really. We did stop and have a delicious celebratory dinner on our way home, but since I still have some work to do for my upcoming workweek, it was quick, simple and delicious.

So, why so appropriate? Well, if getting a cancer diagnosis during a business trip with a busy summer full of activities on the calendar for everyone in the family doesn't throw you for a loop, a rained out bike ride and impromptu trip to see family certainly won't! I learned a valuable lesson 3 years ago... you really can't plan for the curveballs life throws your way. True happiness comes in weathering the storm, adjusting your sails and making the best of the days that are handed to you.

I got to have dinner with my husband, his Dad and two of my very best friends last night, I got to campfire with the A's (1-4!), eat s'mores, and have ridiculous bike races in our new huge backyard. I got to camp out under the Supermoon with my incredible husband, our furkids and our best bud in his tent across the yard. I had breakfast with two of my favorite guys, got to spend some very intimate moments with Mom and Grandma, meet some new family, hold Grandma's hand and my husband's hand all the way home. I ate fantastic Thai food. I am working on a project for my job that I love for a company that treats me very well. I am lucky. I am truly happy. I am alive today :-)


Monday, March 5, 2012

One test, two tests, Old breasts, new breasts

Annika made this for me to take to the hospital :) 
Whew! Two weeks have passed since surgery and so much has happened, yet not much has happened at all. It's amazing how oxycontin can make time pass so quickly. This post is long overdue and I realize after spending time with friends and family, I have been using terms that are familiar to me, but completely unfamiliar to many of you. It *might* explain the crickets and blank stares when I talk about my 'drains' or some of the time in recovery post-op. Hopefully this post will answer those questions and more and we can all proceed on the same page :)

First things first, I have to say THANK YOU to my amazing Mom who made another trip from upstate NY to be here for me for this surgery. I honestly can say that I really do not know how on earth I would have done this without her here. I love you, Mom!!  
Me and Mom patio dining at North on March 1...beautiful

Two weeks ago today, I headed into a life-changing surgery. I was prepared, physically and mentally but nervous just the same. I really don't like the idea of spending an entire day under anesthesia. As it turns out, the surgery itself took 7 hours but when you count pre-op prep and post op recovery, it was really an all day ordeal. I cannot express how thankful I am that my cocoon kept my mom company in the waiting room allllll day long and were there when I woke up in recovery. Thank you Adam, James, Debbie, and Jim (was anyone else there? If so, I don't know. I was OUT like a light). There is nothing I wouldn't do for any of you. I am so thankful for all of you!

So after spending more than a week on pain meds, you can imagine that some of the details are a little fuzzy, but there were some great anecdotes that came from surgery. Since you all know what the actual surgery entailed from the previous post (except Dr McGinniss did the prophylactic side before the damaged one), I will tell you what I remember so you can identify with some of my frustration. I know that some of you out there work for KU or are medical professionals so PLEASE understand that although I hit some rough patches, I am VERY pleased with KU and the majority of the staff who cared for me.    

I remember...

...Getting prepped for surgery by getting the sentinel node biopsy set up. That involved them wheeling me into this weird little room where a guy stuck a 32 gauge needle in my right nipple 4 times (wheee!) and injected a radioactive solution. That would allow Dr. M to locate the nodes that needed to be removed for testing during surgery. 

...sitting perfectly still so the anesthesiologist could give me a nerve block in my back which REALLY alleviated some of the recovery pain. So thankful I opted for that!   

...Going into surgery with Mom, Adam and James by my side, SO thankful that the guys made it there to support my Mom. Such peace of mind going under... speaking of which, I don't remember going under at all!! 

...waking up with two 'nurses' arguing by my bedside as I was crammed like a sardine into the recovery room PACKED with half conscious people on gurneys. Fun! I was very upset and one asked me why, I replied 'I feel like you don't know what you're doing and I'm frustrated! I want you to hurry up so I can go back in and finish surgery!' which one replied "Honey, you're already finished." Oh. 

...lying on that gurney in recovery feeling SO dehydrated and BEGGING for water. They were not allowed to give it to me until they got orders from a Doctor. There was a lady foot-to-foot with me in recovery who was slamming a Sprite and as much as I HATE soda, I would have done ANYTHING for a drink! So they gave me a miniature styrofoam cup with a few ice chips and a spoon even though I could barely move my arms. Grrrrrrrr...

...Mom and Adam coming into the recovery area for a VERY brief time until they kicked them out because it was too crowded. 

...getting moved to a private room in recovery...for FIVE hours because there wasn't a room available for me in the hospital. The most warm 5 hours of this experience... I was surrounded by warmth and love. Mom, Adam, James, Debbie, Jim... I love you all. I remember Adam (life coach) holding my hand every time I fell asleep and feeling really relaxed (must have been the drugs ;) ). I remember that my nurse's name was Debbie and I was PISSED because she was giving Debbie a bad name! She was MEAN!! She argued with me about exactly how much morphine I got and how frequently I could push the button. And she told me my dinner would be there in one took TWO HOURS!! All I ordered was fresh fruit... and I remember James going out to get me a smoothie and after consulting with Coleen, only finding fresh juice so he showed up with a beet juice something-or-another that looked good, tasted good but almost made post-surgery me hurl... Thanks for the effort James!!
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor  

...Adam joking that the call button was a karaoke machine >>> 

...Liz Wakeman (Chris W's sister) stopping by just as I was getting moved to my own room. What a nice surprise!! 

...Taking a very long gurney trip to the cardiac unit (I fell asleep for the trip) where I was upgraded to the nicest part of the hospital. Whew!! Home at last! Well...for two days anyway!

...Skyping my kids from my hospital bed to reassure them that I was OK!!

...waking up SO sore and meeting the resident who was not my favorite. She was wearing Shape Ups. I don't trust people who wear Shape Ups...especially medical professionals. If you wear them, please tell me...why?!  I remember her saying she'd be back after dinner and after checking my drains (*explaining drains soon), telling me that I would probably stay another night. I accepted that, only to have her come back that night and tell me that I should be going home but that because I didn't ask the nurse to wean me off the IV and get me on oral meds, that I had to stay one more night. Whaaaaa?? It's MY fault that I didn't direct my own care immediately after major surgery. Responsibility accepted...afterall, I DID go to medical school ( I didn't!!). She also reprimanded me for not eating enough protein (which no one told me to do) and that I needed to make it ANIMAL protein because it's better for healing (ok, vegan friends pipe in ;) ). Whew! Not my favorite person at all. She did end up apologizing the next day, but she won't earn back my respect. I even got a visit from the head nurse on the floor and I explained that the nursing staff was FANTASTIC. It was the resident alone who made me cry...yup. You read it here. She made me cry :'(

...the plastic surgery resident who was a nice looking young man with two male students coming into my room, opening my gown and flicking my nipples to see if I had feeling... awwwwwkward! They didn't even buy me a drink or dinner!!   

...visits from Larry L, James, Adam, Kelly, Erin, and Danny (Kelly having to text Erin to run because I was fighting to stay awake). I had been awake most of the day and it was mid-afternoon and I was crashing hard! They brought me the most beautiful flowers (thanks Kelly, Erin, Sam, John, and Mike!)...wait! Were you guys in recovery too?? Sheesh...I can't remember anything! Thanks to my friend Steve for bringing dinner from Cupini's and to Rick for making the drive from Lawrence to see me :)

...Adam and James loading up my stuff and taking Mom and me home on Wednesday morning. You are the best friends I could ask for. THANK YOU!!!!

...Rick taking the day off and coming over on Wednesday to cook lentil soup and make my house smell delicious. Sorry I couldn't stay awake and keep you company :( Or did I? LOL. I can't remember!! You are the BEST!! Love you!

...countless days of stripping drains and counting fluid. And here is what that means...

This is not a depiction of me. I have less hair and brown eyes.
*JP drains (Jackson Pratt drains): The original suction drain. The drain itself is inside the body. It is made of Teflon and has multiple drainage holes. The drain is connected to clear plastic tubing which is usually sutured to the skin at the point it leaves the skin. The tubing connects to a bulb reservoir. The bulb, when squeezed empty, applies constant suction to the drain and pulls the fluid out of the body. The drain is removed when the excess fluid has stopped draining from the body.

So what's next? Well, I have to have less than 30mls of fluid draining from each side for two consecutive days before they pull the drains. I am currently at 50ml on one side and 40ml on the other. I was told by the resident-I-don't-care-for (upon discharge) to get up and walk to help my healing. So I did. You don't tell a runner to go 'walk' unless you mean it. I walked 2 miles. Apparently what should have been communicated to me was to walk around the house, maybe to the mailbox. My plastic surgeon told me this at my follow up visit a week ago. Again, Grrrrrrr... I would have sat on my ass to get these drains out earlier if only someone would have told me! So with that said, Operation Sitonmyass went into full effect. Mom and I watched more movies this past week than I've seen since 2005 (slight exaggeration). Thank you to James and Steve for lending us a ton to choose from...and to Redbox for being so convenient :) 

Thanks to Dad, Mary and Tom (bahaha...Tori!) for the beautiful plant! Thanks to my Mom's Ellenburg, NY friends for the amazing Edible Arrangement and to the Keverns for the AMAZING dinner. Thanks to Amber for the beautiful sunflowers to brighten up my day :) Thanks to Erin for the yummy veggie soup. Thanks to Coleen for the vegan pastries from Mudpie that got me in trouble with the resident-I-don't-care-for (Bahahaha). Thanks to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, gifts, vibes, visits, meals, snacks, love and support. Thanks to Dr. McGinniss and Dr. Ponnuru for having their A game with them two weeks ago. I am so happy with what I see so far... I am so so thankful for all of you. 

But wait, there's more!! Like the results of pathology and what my future doctor visits look like... but I've got to go pick up my kiddos from school and my dad from the airport (Yay!!). 



Sunday, February 19, 2012

TMI: A story about boobs

In the sake of time and waiting for a video to post with my day ZERO post (ahem...James!!), I'm moving on to present day and getting everyone ready for tomorrow. Why tomorrow, you ask? On Monday, February 20...which may be President's Day to many of you... I will be having a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction with tissue expanders. To some that's plain english, to others, it may be Greek so here's the low down dirty scoop...

Directly from, here is the very technical definition of bilateral mastectomy:

 (by-LA-ter-ul mass-TECK-tum-ee)
Surgery that removes all of both breasts.
Whew! Thank goodness I looked that's so complicated! :) Here is a better description...
Mastectomy is removal of breast tissue to treat or prevent breast cancer. “Unilateral mastectomy” is the surgical removal of one breast. “Bilateral mastectomy” is the removal of both breasts. “Prophylactic mastectomy” refers to the removal of healthy breasts to reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy is the most effective means of reducing a woman’s risk; however, the benefits of such surgery depend on each woman’s individual risk. Because even the most experienced breast surgeon cannot remove all breast tissue, a small risk of developing breast cancer remains after prophylactic mastectomy. Although effective, some consider prophylactic mastectomy to be a drastic way to lower cancer risk. A woman’s decision to remove her healthy breasts is highly personal. 

So, yes, this is highly personal, but as you all know by now, I am more than willing to share in the hopes that someone, somewhere can benefit from this and to help you all understand my decisions. I really don't have to have a mastectomy at all. The tumor was excised (removed) back in July when they thought it was a cyst. They didn't get clear margins (basically they know that there were still some cancer cells in the tissue surrounding the tumor) so they would need to go in and clean it up anyway. There are several studies showing that neoadjuvant therapy (chemo prior to surgery) in TNBC (triple negative breast cancer) patients nearly removed all cancer cells going into surgery. TNBC tends to respond better to chemo because the cells grow so rapidly. Anyway, they could totally do a 'lumpectomy' or clean up the excision and call it a day. But remember back to my explanation of TNBC forever ago? Well it tends to be more aggressive and more likely to recur than other types of cancer. In all of my visits with multiple docs, no one could really give me any numbers. I realize that removing both breasts seems extreme to some, but I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS AGAIN!!! I'm almost 40 years old and I could really use a new set of boobs anyway. My sister calls my current set my 'puny runner boobs' :) I full well realize that my new set isn't going to get me beads at Mardi Gras, but the reality is that to me, boobs are superficial. I hope the new ones are nice, but if they're not, I'll accept it as battle scars and carry on. Ask me about this again when I take off the bandages... maybe I'll change my tune. I'm not doing this to get my insurance company to pay for implants...or to increase a cup size...  I'm doing this so my kids have me around as they grow. And because I can. I get to make this decision. No one else, just me. And this is my decision. Bye, bye puny runner boobs...

The surgery is pretty complicated so here's how it's going down...

My breast surgeon (the taker offer) is Dr. Marilee McGinniss at KU. She is pretty amazing. As I started this blog post, I did some research on her and found out that she actually has her first degree in music and that she is a pianist. That actually gave me a sense of confidence in her abilities. She has an incredible bedside manner and I am looking forward to seeing her tomorrow morning. :) 

My plastic surgeon is Dr. Satish Ponnuru, also at KU. I was very skeptical when I was first referred to him simply because I had never heard of him and neither had anyone else that I asked. I felt like there were a lot of names thrown around and his wasn't one of them. Dr McGinniss says she loves working with him. After one visit, however, I feel really good about Dr. Ponnuru and I am also looking forward to seeing him tomorrow morning. Let's be honest, Dr. McGinniss has a big job (or little, depending how you look at it..hehe) ahead of her, but Dr. Ponnuru's work is what we'll really see at the end. He explained to me that Dr McGinniss is VERY good at her job so she takes a lot of tissue and leaves him with very thin skin to work with. It's a good thing for me and makes his job that much more important. I hope you have your game on, Dr. P!! :)

The first part of Dr. M's job tomorrow will be to set me up for a sentinel node biopsy.  This is typically a procedure done at the time of excision, but since my tumor was removed thinking it was a benign cyst, we had to wait until now to do it.

"Sentinel node biopsy is a surgical procedure used to determine if cancer has spread beyond a primary tumor into your lymphatic system. Sentinel node biopsy is used most commonly in evaluating breast cancer and melanoma.

The sentinel nodes are the first few lymph nodes into which a tumor drains. Sentinel node biopsy involves injecting a tracer material that helps the surgeon locate the sentinel nodes during surgery. The sentinel nodes are removed and analyzed in a laboratory. If the sentinel nodes are free of cancer, then cancer isn't likely to have spread and removing additional lymph nodes is unnecessary.
If, after sentinel node biopsy, evaluation of the sentinel nodes reveals cancer, then you'll likely need additional lymph nodes removed for your doctor to determine how far the cancer has spread." we don't know if the cancer spread beyond the duct and into the nodes. They will do the biopsy while I am under anesthesia to determine if there are any positive nodes. If there are, they will have to do an axillary dissection where they remove a significant number of nodes in my underarm. For the record, I am REAAAAAALLY hoping that there are no positive nodes. I have had 16 rounds of chemo working on that cancer and if it's still there, it is NOT good. 
Next, Dr. M will remove both breasts. One obviously is trying to kill me and the other has the potential. The right breast is the bad guy so that will be the first one to go. They will do the node biopsy at that time. The left one is being punished for the right one's behavior so it will also be removed in what is referred to as 'prophylactic' mastectomy. Yes, we've all heard the word 'prophylactic''s preventative, it does not mean they throw a condom on it. ;) 

Expansion process
My temporary breast implant, hard as rocks!
Once the girls are removed, Dr. P will get to work putting them back on. There's a procedure called TRAM flap surgery that involves liposuction from the belly to rebuild breasts but since I don't have enough belly fat, that is not an option. I appreciate all of you who so graciously offered to donate yours :) The option I chose is tissue expanders followed by silicone implants. During surgery, Dr. P will rebuild the breasts using Alloderm. He will then insert tissue expanders to stretch the skin over several weeks, months to accommodate the future implants.  After surgery, I will go in once a week to have a 'fill' until we get to the size I'm happy with...then we schedule surgery to get my silicone implants!  For those of you wondering how big they'll be, I guess you'll just have to wait and see! 
I know I've made this all sound so nice and simple, but in all reality, it's pretty much going to suck. The surgery will take a minimum of 6 hours and quite possibly quite a bit longer. I'm scheduled to be there at 6 with surgery starting at 7:30, but I've been prepped to do some waiting to get started. Since there is no live tracking (like in a good ultra! We should have planned with to get updates... darn!), you'll have to rely on Facebook updates from my Mom and my cocoon. They've let me know that they will visit with my family every hour to give them updates.  I will be in the hospital Monday night and probably Tuesday as well. If I come home Tuesday, it will be late afternoon/evening. So... this is the last blog post until this surgery is over. Now, I'm going to go run errands and spend the day with my Mom with a nice dinner out tonight. Thank you to each and every one of you for the well wishes, the support and the friendship. I love you all!!
Shelley aka "EE" 
*For your convenience, all colored words are links to get more information on my docs and Alloderm


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Final Countdown

Holy crap. Tomorrow is my last day of chemo. Just like that...16 rounds of chemo in 5 and a half months, and it's over. I woke up early this morning like it was Christmas and I still have ONE more day to wait! I haven't been feeling so hot over the past week and somehow I woke up today with more energy and clarity than I've had in 6 months. I'm ready to get this countdown over and we still have several days to catch up on so here we go!!!

(In the sake of time, I will not be posting ALL of the videos (but a few!) so friend me on Facebook if you really want to see them!)

Number 8

Eight is the symbol of harmony and balance.

Eight symbolizes the ability to make decisions.

Eight symbolizes abundance and power.

Last Wednesday, Jan 18, a few notable things happened...

First things first, I had a consultation with my original surgeon, Dr Shook, to get a second opinion and referrals to some plastic surgeons outside of KU. It was a nice visit, great to catch up, but I realized that the second opinions were very stressful and more than what I can handle right now. None of the plastic surgeons could get me in for a consult within the next week and I decided that unless I didn't like Dr Ponnuru at KU, it's just a needless stressor that I don't need right now. Simple as that.

Then, I went to the airport to pick up Elena, a friend from high school who I have not seen in over 22 years. So you may be wondering why and how this visit occurred... Well, thank you Facebook for allowing me to reconnect with someone (several someones for that matter!) as an adult who shares a kindred spirit. Suffice it to say that who we were in high school in 1989 is certainly not who we are now. In fact, we both really needed this visit for so many reasons and I can't even begin to share them all. What I will say is that she helped me so much by being here and I have to believe that she went home with a happy heart too :) A mutual acquaintance from high school commented that she had no idea we were that close and we both had to laugh...I don't think WE even realized that we were that close until we caught back up long distance. And I can say that I've claimed a forever friend over this past week :) She is a beautiful person, both inside and out. Love you Laney!!! xoxo


7: Number seven is the number of
perfection, security, safety and rest.

Look who needs a circle scarf!!
It was great to have my second chemo date from Vermont! Lauren really set the bar high and Elena was happy to follow suit. We had a great visit over a Taxol cocktail and it really flew by! Before you knew it, it was over and we went to Eden Alley to have an impromptu lunch with Erin and Kelly.

Elena also accompanied me to my consult with Dr Ponnuru, plastic surgeon. I will spare all the details, but I can say that I am SO thankful to have had someone with me that could give me an opinion from a different perspective. I felt really great about Dr Ponnuru and after a glass of wine afterward, Laney helped me come to the decision that I'm sticking with him for my reconstruction. Whew! Decision made, what a relief!!! Feb 20, I OWN you!!! :)

After hanging out at a wine bar on the Plaza, of course I was starving! It was chemo day afterall... so we went to the Westside Local for dinner. It was so great to introduce Laney to my happy place :) and the brown sugar cheesecake with lingonberries and pumpkin seed brittle was a nice ending for such a wonderful day... insomnia was worse than ever and Elena sat on my bed with me ALL NIGHT LONG chatting like schoolgirls and feeling like a slumber party. It was a longgg night for sure but having company sure made it better! That said, insomnia and the post chemo 'roid rage sucks. Chris said it best...

Hey 7...Up Yours!!

Oh, and to Debbie, who loves me to every planet and back...the 7th planet from the sun is Uranus. I thought it only fitting to tell her 'I love you to Uranus and back'...hey, it was her idea!! :) Love you Debbie!! xoxo

Six: The symbolism behind number Six is legend. With Venus as its ruler, Six represents harmony, balance, sincerity, love, and truth. Six naturally reveals solutions for us in a calm, unfolding manner. We invoke the Six when we need delicate diplomacy when dealing with sensitive matters. The spiritual meaning of number Six also deals with enlightenment; specifically "lighting" our path in areas we require spiritual and mental balance. Sixes beckon us to administer compassion and consciously choose forgiveness in a situation.

Yeah, so six just kind of sucked. I was dragging all day because I was tired. I got a nice nap at acupuncture, but my contacts were dry from not sleeping and I'm sure I wasn't much fun!! We did manage to get Laney a circle scarf :) and have a nice day out, but it was not really that great of a day.  I spent all day trying to track Adam as he was pacing his friend Cath in the Brazil 135 race to no avail, only to find out a day later that she was running hard and finished 5th overall, 2nd female. Woohoo! Yay Cath and Adam! We did get to have dinner with the kiddos so Laney could meet them. And I finally got some rest :) 


So, Coco Chanel chose the number 5 for her iconic perfume because she was way into numerology and the number 5 was especially esteemed as signifying the pure embodiment of a thing, its spirit, its mystic meaning. 

Thanks Coleen!! :) Love you xoxo

Five: The spiritual meaning of number Five deals with travel, adventure, and motion. The spiritual meaning of Five draws our attention to the wonder of life, and beckons us to appreciate the perception of chaos all around us. Five has wild vibrations: primitive and erratic. When Five continues to pop up in your life be prepared for some action, like a trip. Remember, trips aren't all necessarily taken physically. Some of the best journey's are taken in the mind and spirit.

Holy crap! I just realized as I sorted through my posts and timeline that on day 5, Adam paced Cath to a 5th place finish in the Brazil 135!! oooooo....eerie!! And so cool!!

My very preggo stylist Micki is the BEST! EVER!
I also introduced Laney to my BFF, Free State brewery and my girls at Headmasters in Lawrence where I got my first post chemo haircut!!!! Ok, haircut might be a slight exaggeration...but I got at least ONE hair cut! :) Micki, Wende, girls ROCK!!

Yay for good friends, haircuts and circle scarves! :)
40 looks so good on you, Laney!
And realizing that it's Kansas City restaurant week, Laney's last night in town AND that I'd be in my final round of chemo on her 40th birthday we went out for dinner at The Drop with James and toasted good friends, looking fab at 40 and my final round of chemo. Woohoo!!

**Bonus points for anyone who got the Number five is alive reference...yes, Short Circuit (circa 1986)


On day 4, I woke up at 4, brought Elena to the airport, said a sad goodbye and went home to sleep a bit. I picked up the kiddos and spent the day just enjoying their company. I have come to realize that the Sunday after my Thursday chemo is when the crash starts. I start feeling like I have the flu and that I want to curl up and die. Ok, maybe that's a bit extreme, but I am completely zapped and it gets worse before it gets better. So I got a lot of nice well wishes, but happily shut the door on number four :)

*side note: Happy Birthday to Eric, my amazing Colorado contingent. Thirty FOUR?! Jeez the coincidence! :) 


3!!!!! It is The Triad, being the number of the whole as it contains the beginning, a middle and an end.

The power of three is universal and is the tripartide nature of the world as heaven, earth, and waters. It is human as body, soul and spirit. It is the beginning, middle and end. Three is a complete cycle unto itself. It is past, present, future.

I woke up on day 3, brought the kids to school and crawled back in bed feeling like I had been hit by a mack truck. Knowing I had dinner plans at 5:30 with three of the most amazing girls alive, I planned on wallowing in self pity for several hours at least. Just like the Monday before, I felt like I had the flu but I know now that it's just what it feels like to hit the chemo wall.  I really felt bad. Then I saw this Facebook post from my sister in Hawaii:

'To help my sister Shelley Duprey Flones count down day #3, I was going to run 3 miles. But I love her twice as much as that, so I decided on 6. But then thought a another prime number would be more appropriate so I made it 7! Shelley, you were my inspiration today (as well as the pain in my ass through the last mile) because I didn't want to annoy you on such an important week. ;) I believe because you believe in me and I believe in you. You've got this!!! ALMOST DONE!'

To give some background info... I obviously come from a family of runners. Karen started running last year and might even still tell you that she's not a 'runner'. She didn't like it at all at first and loving it certainly doesn't come easily to her. Why does she do it? Well, you'll have to ask her, but I think she may do it because she cares about her health and she cares about me. This isn't the first time she's told me that I inspired her, but she may not realize how much her running inspires me. To know that she has the drive and determination to fight through SEVEN miles on my worst day, brings me to tears. Seven miles isn't easy for ANYONE, not even distance runners. And she did it. Just to not annoy me. Haha! In 40 years, I'm sure I've annoyed my sister more than you can ever imagine. I'm two years younger and like a hyper puppy. I'd be annoyed by me too!! And yet, as I was curled up in bed, fighting back tears, she was fighting through SEVEN pavement miles (ugh!) because we believe in each other. Wow. I love you, Karen. And you are my FSFN :) Ask William what that means...he might know! xoxo And I can't wait to come to Hawaii and run with you!!! You might be pushing me the last few miles!!


2: Those who resonate with number Two are honest, trustworthy. These people are also very talented with plenty of wonderful ideas. So much so that they sometimes fall into distraction because they are often moving in (no irony here) two directions at the same time. They are usually philosophical by nature, and are the people you go to when seeking sincere advice.

TWO Friends <3

TWOsday was a crazier day than most of you realize. First, I went to court to get rid of TWO speeding tickets thanks to my amazing friend James. Then I spent TWO hours with James at Dolce drinking coffee, eating scones and discussing life and relationships. Then I went to lunch to get rid of another tumor that I was not aware that I had. I haven't really discussed my personal (dating) life much on my blog. Ok, I really haven't discussed it at all. Some things are sacred and I don't want to change that...but to understand my 'fight' maybe you should all know what I've dealt with and why I'm so thankful for the really good people in my life. I have an ex-boyfriend. Ok, not just one, but one in particular. We broke up a long time ago but I had idealized the 'relationship' we had and quite honestly, I idealized him. I emailed him when I was diagnosed simply because he saw that stupid tumor and I thought it was only fair. He tried to be 'part of my team' but I explained to him that I wasn't really looking for more friends and watching him date other women (with hair-haha) would be really tough for me. That if he wasn't wanting to be my partner through it, then he should go away and not be so selfish. So he did. Whew! Right? Well, he continued to 'check in' through the fall. I decided to respond selectively, fearing the knowledge that he had moved on while I was battling the big C. Well, this is already taking longer than I planned so let me just say that he chose lunch YESTERDAY* (after not seeing each other since August and me accepting the invite with trepidation) to nonchalantly tell me that he started seeing someone in the fall. Yes, he did exactly what I asked him NOT to do... oh, not the dating part. I suppose that was inevitable. He SEEMS to be a good catch, I guess. But the part about telling me!!! WHY would you choose the middle of a girl's chemo to let her know that you've moved on and you're seeing someone new??? Just GO AWAY!! If you ever find yourself in this situation people, please just GO AWAY!! Oh, unless you are selfish, self-centered and a complete A-hole!! So, not only am I in the last week of my chemo, battling cancer, sporting a weird fuzzy hairdo, and preparing myself to lose my breasts in less than a month, my ex-boyfriend decided that it was appropriate to add insult to injury on my TWOsday. Thank you for that. I have no need for retaliation. I am the lucky one. I just excised a tumor and didn't even need anesthesia. And for the rest of you who deserve my friendship, I appreciate you that much more :) And for the man who eventually earns the right to be my life partner, you can thank him later... :) I will talk more about dating through cancer because I do have some insight to share, but for now, I am thankful to be eradicating more than one cancer this week :)

*note: he did claim to have sent me an email (that I never got) in December to tell me...because that's better right? Sending your ex an email over the holidays while she's battling cancer to get her blessing on a new relationship?? WHO does that???? :)

So... now that I've said too much, I am having a GREAT day ONE!!! One day until chemo is OVER!!! Yessssssss!!


I have recently been compared to an excited puppy (I don't pee on the floors!) so I thought this was more than appropriate...thanks Chris!! Love it! :)

There are so many catchy ways to sum this up but the reality is this...One more day. ONE!! TOMORROW marks the end of a VERY long road. I still have cancer. Tomorrow, I will still have cancer. I will have cancer until I have a mastectomy on February 20, but I will be done with the poison in my veins. I will be done with chemo. Tomorrow. Sorry to be so redundant. I am trying to get my arms around it!! Thank you to EVERYONE who joined this countdown with me. Please join me again TOMORROW when the number is ZERO!!!!   

Words cannot express my thanks to all of you for lifting me up and holding me tight through this horribly painful final round of chemo. U2 said it best...'One love, we get to share it...' I love you all and I'm happy to share it :) 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Cloud Nine in Single Digits

'Oh, there's so much I can do with this countdown... cloud nine, 'single' digits... I've been waiting for this for a long time and somehow the words don't do it justice. BUT I'm still going to try :)

I have been feeling under the weather since the high of last week's chemo wore off and to be completely honest, just didn't feel much like blogging. You will thank me because I can promise a much more uplifting blog than if I had attempted this over the past couple days. :) Although I have had amazing people (just read on and you'll see) helping me count down and showing me the love, I can pin the change of heart on one simple statement from this morning...

'Cloud NINE!!! I love you Shelley! xoxoxoxox' 

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who refers to Saturday Night Live's character Debbie Downer when I'm feeling down. I have decided that I am going to make a concerted effort to find a new reference. I've never had a friend named 'Debbie' before, but now that I do, she is the FURTHEST thing from a downer that I've ever known! That statement above is from my friend Debbie. What's crazy is that she sends me stuff like that ALL the time! And she means it!! Thank you Debbie Upper for that warm thought this morning. I love YOU!!! xoxo Now I can blog this countdown with enthusiasm in true Shelley form :) ...

THIRTEEN! Erin thinks I'm stronger than these guys?! Wow! Thanks Erin :)

I'm going to take you back to 13 first because I left you hanging on day 13 last time and it was a SPECTACULAR day!! It brings me full circle to the time in July that I had just gotten the results from the PET scan back showing all clear. What did I do? I ran Coleen's Sweaty Ass run! Soooo...on Friday the 13th, I've got 13 days and 2 rounds of chemo left, what did I do?? I ran Coleen's Frozen Fat Ass run!! As purveyor of the granola for the local running community, it was my duty and obligation to feed the 100+ runners as they froze their asses off running a 3 mile loop from 8pm until 6am Friday night. I also really needed the run, the friendship, the warmth that hanging out with some of my favorite people brings.  So going into the night, I was so amped up that you almost had to peel me off the ceiling. I had no expectations for mileage whatsoever. I knew I'd run until I was done, knowing that my immune system was seriously compromised after having had my 14th round of chemo the previous day. I checked in after one loop, feeling fantastic and knowing that I had at least 3 more miles under my belt.  
Checking in after mile 3

I have to add that although we have had an unseasonably warm winter with temps in the 50's and 60's on a regular basis, we finally got some freezing weather for this run. Thank goodness, too, because with 3 water crossings in 3 miles, it could have been WAY colder running than it was!

On the second loop, I started getting a terrible stomach cramp (and I am blaming this completely on Adam since he is in Brazil and cannot defend himself). I have a new respect for him now, though. He fed me one of his 'famous' bean burritos for lunch that he eats before, DURING, and after ultras. I thought I was going to die so after 6 miles, I called it. How that guy eats those and still performs in a 100 mile race is now even more of a mystery to me! Anyway, I spent the next several hours feeding runners, giggling uncontrollably with a bunch of slap happy friends. Since the run started at 8pm, we were able to count down to 12 at midnight!!  I got a text from Eric at 12 minutes until 12 that read:

"I know this is 12 minutes early but it is getting late and I hope to run a dozen miles tomorrow. 12 can be a pretty nominal unit. After all, that is how they package eggs, pencils, pens, roses, and donuts. But 12 is better than that. It is the amount of months in a year, hours in every morning and days until chemo is done, done, done!" Hell yeah!!!
So that set us off on another laughing fit. Chris was as loopy as I've ever seen him and had all the girls in tears. We're now on the lookout for a pair of Lauren's metallic leggings in silver for him to wear at Silver Rush 50mi. And is it 12 or 21? Ask Erin...she's always got the answers!

And I had a Romper Room flashback from the 70's...please forgive my chemo brain in case I forget someone, but I had my little magic mirror out and soaked in all the fabulous people...

I see Coleen, Gary, Erin, Roo, Debbie, Julie, Deb, Stu, Jim, Larry, Chris W, Claire, Wael, Brian B, Larry L, Erica, Indi, Katie, Lauren, Sarah, Amy, Nicole, Brian L, Karen, Bobbi, Micah, Shannon, Chris N, Kevin...I see Beck, Rhonda, Jauqui, Ashley (hotties), Matty and Ashley,  Justin D, Justin and Sarah, Steve and Patsy (yay!), Jeff T, Adam M, Kyle A...I see Honey Badger. Yeah, you heard me. I cuddled up to honey badger because he's a badass...  and although there was no Do-Bee, it was a great night for all :)
Honey badger and me. <3

Once I woke up after a few hours of post run sleep, I re-read an email sent to me by one of my college roommates, Karen. We were math majors together, but where I long ago lost my math skills, she now teaches them :) :

Twelve is a sublime number, a number that has a perfect number of divisors, and the sum of its divisors is also a perfect number. Since there is a subset of 12's proper divisors that add up to 12 (all of them but with 4 excluded), 12 is a semiperfect number.
Semiperfect! Almost perfect!!
You're almost there. You've got this!!!

I snagged the kids from cp's and we went to Union Station/Crown Center to watch the Lego Robotics competition and (unbeknownst to us upon arrival) the Legoland Master Model Builder competition! It was one of the best days I've had with the kiddos. What an amazing way to celebrate a dozen days left until the last round of chemo! Better than semi-perfect, it was really a perfect day :)

11 days to go!! 
It may come as a huge shock to you, but 2011 was not my best year. I watched one of my closest friends battle breast cancer, was diagnosed with and battled breast cancer, and if that wasn't enough, right before Christmas, my beautiful 25 year old cousin, Katrina had a debilitating stroke. HOWEVER, there were some awesome things that happened too... Kelly beat the big C in 2011 (I'm on my way in 2012, and Katrina is now in rehab and made peanut butter cookies this morning) :), my little sister Lauren became Mrs. Mike Weber in June, Josh started kindergarten in August, I had a GREAT year with my new company, my amazing friend Andy won the Bronze medal in the World Championship 100k in Wischoten, Netherlands, I made some incredible new friends and built stronger friendships with some that I already had. I learned who I can trust in the face of adversity and how to let go of those who need letting go. 2012 will be better but 2011 was full of lessons that will make it even better! So let's countdown 11!!

Gotta love my high school friend Aaron who found the #1 song when we were in 11th grade. Oh yeah, a little Bobby Brown, My Prerogative...  How incredibly apropos... :) Erin added the Sesame Street throwback #11, but Chris hit the nail on the head with some Spinal Tap this time... Most amps go up to ten but this is one louder... If we need that extra push over the cliff, we just go to ELEVEN! I'm pretty sure my internal amp goes to eleven :)

Kelly's awesome cousin, Shanda started counting down with me in numerology...

In numerology, number eleven is considered as a master number. The reason is this number carries as a vibrational frequency of balance. Number Eleven signifies invention, refinement, fulfillment, vision and congruency in a person. In astrology, the number eleven is considered as a magical number that strikes a balance of emotion, thoughts and spirits. 

And of course Eric came through with words to bring me to tears (again!) and reminded me that in 2011, we met for the first time in Colorado while crewing our mutual friend through a grueling 100 miler. The race wasn't what resonated with either of us though. It was the friendships, the small conversations that gave us all the strength to power through the tough times that we were experiencing. He gave me one of the greatest compliments that I have ever gotten so I'd like to share it with you. He said:  

"if anyone could flat out will themselves to overcome an obstacle it would be you.  The strength you portrayed in the face of uncertainly was so, so impressive."

Thank you, Eric. I am so glad that 2011 happened too :) 

Not to go unnoticed, my Aunt Joanne who lives in Knoxville, Tennesssee decided to join in on the fun and has started counting down with the 12 days of Christmas...I love it!!  'Eleven Pipers Piping!'

A Perfect 10!!
 10: Positively, a change in fortune for the better, either monetarily or otherwise. A new step forward on the path of tomorrow. Your destiny. Luck. Old knowledge, especially esoteric or religious, from books. Old souls. Good ventures with those signs in mind. Being in the right place at the right time to grasp opportunities. ~Shanda

The last round number until we get to the roundest and best number of all :) ~Eric

Thanks Chris :) Shawty is a 10ft Fabolous :) 

I felt like complete crap on day 10. There is no way to candy coat this. I had flu-like symptoms with a sore throat and body aches. I know the difference now, though. This is just what it feels like when your immune system is weakened and you have lingering chemo effects. I felt like lying in bed and never getting up. Thankfully, I have two amazing kids who demanded my attention and got me out of bed for a good part of the day. It was 70 degrees in January (in the midwest-REALLY??) and we barely went outside. I just needed a day of resting and taking care of my body. Annika made empanadas for lunch (no joke!) in the cupcake maker Aunt Lauren gave her for Christmas and she made her famous Rachel Ray kids recipe for More-Peas-If-You-Please for dinner. I am the luckiest Mommy alive and thankful for two helpful and snuggly kiddos :) And since day 10 sucked so bad, I'm happy to move on to Cloud Nine!!

10 Lords a Leaping! ~Aunt Joanne


For those of you who are exhausted by a tangential conversation with me, you'll be happy to know that I am now bringing it back around to number 9!! :) It's only noon on day #9 so I've got all day to make today AWESOME! I won't be running today because I can tell my body needs rest, but I will be spending the day doing something awesome, of course. And all because Debbie said Cloud Nine :) and Elena said '9- that's it- just 9:) ♥'  Oh and because Erin sent me the best video yet...

I love the Barenaked Ladies :) And yes, feel free to apply that to all areas of my life. In case it was in question, I am as straight as an arrow, but I do love being one of the barenaked ladies :)

'9 Ladies Dancing' their happy dance for me! ~Aunt Joanne :)

And yes, we are now in SINGLE digits!!!! Single. 9 days until chemo is over. Done. And tomorrow, one of my high school friends is flying in from Vermont to count from 8 to 5 with me!! Yay!! 

Thank you all for keeping my spirits up during this countdown. It's exciting and fun, but the 14 rounds of chemo are starting to hit me a little harder each time. I need you more than you realize :)