Monday, August 31, 2009

Round 2 Chemo - KO

Round 2 is complete and a success. I felt really good all day and I was even able to take a 2 hour nap this afternoon. After Round 1 last week, I was wide awake and could not even wind down through the night and I did not get tired until mid-Tuesday afternoon. Tonight, however, I am already feeling tired and ready for bed. So that is a relief. I like to sleep.

We are excited the chemo appears to be working. Dr. AJ reinforced with Dan today that he would not say the cluster is smaller, but "medically speaking" the cluster is less firm and more mobile. He said he was excited about that, especially after only one treatment.

I was also encouraged today because the attack of my immune system only occurs with the first 4 treatments. The other 12 chemo treatments attack the nerve system, so Dr. AJ anticipates I may experience numbness and tingling in my extremities with those 12. I was thrilled to think I only have to be extra cautious about getting sick for the next 6 weeks...sounds much easier than fighting it for 18 weeks! Do not worry about me getting plenty of sleep. As I mentioned before, I like to sleep!

I mistakenly told Fr. Allen at church this morning that I feel so lucky because I have felt so good thus far. I should have told him that I am standing proof of the Power of Prayer! I think he knows that, but I do completely appreciate the thoughts and prayers and the continuous support! This is Our Fight to Win!

I will go for my booster shot tomorrow after work and re-start all my prescription and non-prescription meds to prevent the nausea and bone pain. I should be ready for Friday Night Football!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Eve of Round 2

Just patiently waiting for Round 2 tomorrow, Monday, 10 AM. Today actually went fast for me. We spent the day at Mother's and she helped me finish the genetic questionnaire. I am going through a genetic pre-disposition testing because I am diagnosed at such a young age and a piece of it is the questionnaire. Mother, my Sister, and I started it last week and were cruising right through it...until...we came upon questions asking for Your Mother's Sisters and Brothers and Your Father's Sisters and Brothers and it also wanted the children of the Sisters and Brothers. I laughed out loud...they allowed for 4 Brothers and Sisters for each my Mother and my Father...My Father is one of 12 and My Mother is one of 14 and I have 50+ cousins on EACH side of the family. Needless to say, I made a phone call to the genetic counselor and asked for permission to send an electronic file because I was afraid I may get a hand cramp from all the writing. Thanks to Aunt Liz in the Schieber Family and Cousin Vicki and My Sister in the Henry Family for maintaining the Family Calendars...they were a lifesaver! We were able to compile the necessary information fairly quickly. As soon as I get the questionnaire sent in, I will be scheduled for some counseling and blood work to complete the genetic testing. The final result is supposed to help the doctors determine if the root cause of the Breast Cancer is Bad Genes or simply Bad Luck!

Thanks also to the LOYAL friend of my Sister's that posted the Fight Like A Girl song on my blog. So, turn up your volume! I AM SOOOOO EXCITED!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Huge Bulldog Football Win!

YES!YES!YES! A Huge Stanberry Bulldog Football Win tonight...55-6. The boys scored early and often and I enjoyed every minute of it. Bo and I were able to do the "touchdown signal" several times and we cheered a bunch for "Daddy". I am very honored with the PINK breast cancer ribbons on the football helmets (Thanks Coach Hilton). And Thanks Boys for wearing them in style! I was shocked to be the recipient of too much money the girls raised for their face painting efforts tonight! The students are very thoughtful and I am very PROUD to be a part of it all! Go Bulldogs! I continue to pray that I will successfully handle future chemo treatments and be healthy enough to attend the Friday Night Football games! I go for chemo treatment number 2 on Monday...2 weeks just flew by really fast!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Excited for a Normal Week

If you could see me, you would witness the twinkle in my eyes and the smile on my face. If you could hear me, you may cover your ears...I am shouting my excitement and joy to the heavens. I do not even feel like a young mother with breast cancer. I am truly blessed to feel so good and so healthy! Today is the first day of the most normal week scheduled since July 24, 2009! I ONLY had 1 doctor's appointment scheduled the entire week and it was today with Dr. AJ, Medical Oncologist. It was a consult follow-up to my first round of chemo last Monday. I am SO EXCITED! Dr. AJ indicated that 99% of chemo patients have a similar experience and reaction to every chemo treatment as they did to the first. This FIGHT is all mine! I was weak and very tired for 3 days after, but I had so much support and help to get my family through the week. And, most importantly, I was more than ready for Friday Night Stanberry Bulldog Football. YEAH!!! If I can handle every treatment in similar style, I will have a ton to be THANKFUL for...remember...Have You Thanked God Today?!? Now, I Thank Him several times a day!

We will Win This Fight! Thanks for your continued support and acts of kindness and generosity!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to Normal

Thanks to my Big Sis for stepping in and posting a note in my absence!

WOW! I was zapped! I have not had mono, but I am guessing that my symptoms this week would be similar. I lost the pep in my step. I was very weak. I did not even have the energy to change Bo's clothes after Dan dressed him in Super Hero Jammie shorts and a nice, striped polo shirt yesterday. Today, however, I feel like a million bucks...better than I did before chemo started. The Jamboree sealed the deal for really is FOOTBALL season and I could not be more excited! I need the distraction now more than ever. It will be so nice to live for Friday nights with the Stanberry Bulldogs and Saturdays with the Northwest Bearcats!

We did have our 1st day of 1st grade this week and Malia is, once again, in her element. She is meant to be a schoolgirl! Everything was ABSOLUTELY fantastic or ABSOLUTELY fun or something dramatic. Even Maggie is excited about school. She will go to pre-school playgroup in the spring semester, but on Tuesday, she had her backpack so full I thought the zipper would pop. She packed her own lunch (peanut butter sandwich, pudding cup, granola bar, and gum). And she had money in her wallet just in case they were selling monster cookies. Dan swears they are not his kids because they enjoy school so much!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hanging in there!

Hello all, This is Mary's sister again, just wanted to give you a quick update on Mary. She did have her first treatment on Monday, even though she got through it like a trooper, it has wiped her out! She seems pretty good just very tired. I know she will be updating her blog real soon just keep checking as she has a lot of things going on. She is VERY excited for the football scrimmage tomorrow night, so go BULLDOGS!! Thanks so much for checking on her and please Fr. Emil Kapaun heal Mary completely and KO that darn BEAST, AMEN!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Join us for some fun


----Benefit Golf Tournament----

4 Person Scramble
Stanberry Golf Course

September 20th, 2009
tee times: 8:00 am or 1:00 pm

$30 per person
Carts are available for an additional charge
Carts must be reserved at sign-up to ensure availability

Hole in one on hole four wins $10,000!!

BBQ Pork Lunch available 11:00am until ??
Free Will Donation

Door Prizes & Flag Prizes!!

To Register:
David Henry: 641-782-0852

All proceeds go to the Mary Collins Benefit Fund to assist
Mary’s fight against Breast Cancer
Donations can be sent to:
Theresa Schmitz
24709 Olympic Road
Ravenwood, MO 64479

This is Mary's sister, in case you haven't heard we are having a benefit golf tournament. Please come join us even if you don't want to golf there will be great food and lots of visiting. If you are going to turn a team in, please have tee shirt sizes of your team mates to turn in also! If you have any questions please e-mail me at or call 660-937-2338. Thanks so much for all the prayers and support you have given Mary, Dan, their kids and our family, we really appreciate it! Fr. Emil Kapaun please give Mary a full recovery and help her KO the beast, AMEN! Thanks again and hope to see you all the 20th.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Round 1 Chemo - KO

Round 1 of Chemo is complete. I know, I know, it really isn't complete until I start Round 2 and there is still a lot of unknowns about the next few days, but the chemo is in my system and doing it's job. I feel great! I am a woman that does not even take a daily vitamin and they sent me to WalMart for 3 prescriptions and 3 over-the-counter meds. Whatever it takes! I am In It to Win It!

I am on the ACT plan. I will receive the A & C once every 2 weeks for 4 treatments. I will get a Neulasta shot the day after each of the 4 treatments to boost my white cells. Then I will receive the T once a week for 12 treatments. Amidst all this, I get more anti-nausea meds than I ever knew existed. I already looked at the calendar and if all goes well, I will be more excited than ever for Christmas this year. Looks like the last treatment will be the Monday before or after Christmas. We will have a lot to be Merry about this year!

A = Adriamycin
C = Cytoxan
T = Taxol

Thank You for Supporting My Fight Against Breast Cancer!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Strengthened for My Task On Earth

The first line of the closing song at mass this morning was "God's Blessing Sends Us Forth, Strengthened for Our Task On Earth"! Exactly the message I was looking for today. I am so Blessed! I continue to seek the strength I need! My strength is a piece of each of you...thanks so much for your support! My Strength comes from My Reasons...Malia, Maggie, & Bo...and don't forget Dan the Man! Hugs & Kisses!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fighting All Directions

WHEW!!! Big Sigh! I was polishing my gloves and continuing my fight against breast cancer and quickly realized I could "put up my dukes" and fight in several directions at once. Wednesday morning, my sister took Bo to the doctor for us (afraid he had ear infection) and my brother Bull took me to my echo cardiogram. Bull loves the back roads and just so happened my van broke down "in the middle of nowhere"...Bull still thinks he knew where we were. I was thanking God that Bull was with me and I was not by myself! He had it all under control and took care of all my needs in an affordable style. Needless to say, it was an entertaining ride home and the memories will last a lifetime. Fast Forward to Thursday...My Sister was very worried about Bo's breathing throughout the day. I received a call from Dan on my way home from work and he said, "I have Bo in the ER. Go on home and we will meet you at home." He should know better than to tell a mother to go home when her Baby is in the ER. I turned around and a few hours later, Bo was admitted to St. Francis Hospital in Maryville. The final diagnosis was croup. We spent lots of hours under the tent, had lots of breathing treatments and IV antibiotics and fluids. We finally made it home earlier this evening. I called the girls this morning to check on them and I barely recognized Malia's voice when she answered the phone. She and Maggie both have a terrible head cold, so our doctor was willing to treat them as well. Tonight we had our only little pharmacy distribution center right here at home.

I did receive the call from Dr. AJ today that I was waiting for. The HER2 is negative and chemo is set for Monday, August 17th. However, I am not sure if we will be able to start chemo or not because I have poison ivy and a rash from the surgical tape. I was starting to panic and realized I simply need to continue my prayers and when it starts, it starts...and I will be READY!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Port Is In

The port is in. I am not sure how my follower Sue was able to go shopping because all I want to do is sleep. I am getting plenty of rest today (maybe catching up a little from the last couple weeks). On my way to the hospital I received a couple text messages and a phone call from special people in my life and Dan asked what they wanted. I simply said they were checking in before the port procedure even though they were sending birthday wishes as well. Dr. Faris came by first thing and said, "Happy Birthday!" Dan said, "Well, #@%!" The nurses loved it...Dr. Faris remembered my birthday and Dan forgot! The surgical crew sang Happy Birthday to me, brought me a piece of cake, and gave me a pink, glass rose. Dan has a little extra on his mind these days. He started football practice yesterday in the midst of all this chaos. He is confident in the group of young men he has this year. Thanks to his coaching staff for their flexibility and willingness to help him (us) out! I am looking for some WINS in the ring and Dan is expecting them on the gridiron. I will continue to be the #1 Stanberry Bulldog Football Fan! Go Bulldogs!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Received News before Tuesday

Not often do we receive news before expected, but I received a phone call from the Medical Oncologist, Dr AJ, in St. Joseph, today. Dr. Silva had called him with the results of the lymph node biopsy. I wanted results and I wanted a plan and I wanted to fight, but when I heard Dr. AJ say the results were positive (cancer is in my lymph nodes) was a right hook and maybe even a combo with an upper cut. It really was the news that I was convinced I would receive after 3 physicians shared their strong intuitions with me, but it still hurts! Dr. AJ is energized because the news gives him an opportunity to put a plan in place and he quickly coordinated a busy week of chemo preparation for me. I met with the General Surgeon in Maryville today and had all my pre-op "stuff" completed. I will get my port (for chemo) tomorrow, Tuesday, in Maryville. I have an echo cardiogram in St. Joseph on Wednesday. Dr. AJ is awaiting the HER2 results from the lymph node biopsy (Sorry...I cannot tell you in my terms what HER2 is, but do know that it is a critical piece of the puzzle to identify the appropriate chemo drug) and we will hopefully have those results by the end of this week. If everything falls into place this week, I will have my first chemo treatment on Monday, August 17th, in Maryville, under the supervision of Dr. AJ.

My mother posted a comment about Fr. Kapaun and we will be praying to him and asking for his healing powers. We are proud to have a Conception Seminary graduate considered for sainthood.

Also, please say an extra prayer for a special friend of mine. She had a mammogram after hearing my results and she is heading back for an additional ultrasound tomorrow.

Hugs & Kisses! The Fight Is On!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Walk

Unfortunately, I have had an avenue to participate in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. My cousin and her husband rallied together after the loss of 8 month old Baby Morgan to form Morgan's Team. They are active contributors and even were the Chairpersons for the Gentry County Relay for the Stanberry rotation. Their dedication to the Relay and the Search for a Cure is an absolute inspiration! Reluctantly, I attended the Relay for the first time a few years ago...thinking I really had nothing to offer. The opening ceremony was the Survivor Lap and I was a proud, emotional wreck as I witnessed my sister complete that lap in the sea of purple. Some of us joined in on the next lap with her and the other survivors for the caregiver lap. For the next 12 hours, we had a team member on the track, completing THE WALK portion of the Relay. A representative from the American Cancer Society explained the symbolism of THE WALK at several intervals throughout the night. I cannot explain what that first year of THE WALK did for me, but I was hooked! I soon realized...for me, it's not what I can do for THE WALK, but what THE WALK does for me.

This past year, there were very few team members able to stay all night and complete THE WALK. I was thrilled that my little cousin offerred to stay...she'll never understand the motivation she provided me. But I can guarantee you, I would have done it by myself...that is how much it means to me! Every year, I felt it was the only opportunity I had to even begin to understand the battle my sister had survived and the only possibility I would ever get to remotely experience the emotional roller coaster of those who have lost loved ones to cancer. For me, it was my only hope to connect and to remind me to constantly Thank God for all the people committed to make a difference.

I recently talked to my cousin that lost her baby to cancer and shared with her that I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would truly experience the fight myself! I tried to explain to her how THE WALK changed my life forever because it was the symbol of what my loved ones had experienced and I thought it was the closest I would ever get. She kindly sent these words to me and I wish to share them with you...

The Relay begins when the sun is setting. This symbolizes the time that the person has been diagnosed with cancer. The crowd of people represents the strong support structure the survivor needs.
The day is getting darker, and this represents the cancer patient's state of mind as they endure the emotions of being a cancer patient.
As the evening goes on, it gets colder and darker, just as the emotions of the cancer patient. Around 1 or 2 am represents the time when the cancer patient starts treatments. They become exhausted, some sick, not wanting to go on, and possibly wanting to give up. Participants in Relay feel much the same way while walking during these hours. They cannot stop or give up, just as the cancer patient cannot stop or give up.
Around 4 or 5 am symbolizes the completion of treatment for the cancer patient. Once again they are tired, but they know they will make it.
The sun rising represents the end of treatment for the cancer patient. They see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that life will go on. The morning light brings on a new day, full of life and excitement for the cancer patient. Participants feel the brightness of the morning and know the end of the Relay is close at hand.

A reason I walk...............

I Walked a Track
I walked around a track today....
I walked to help a disease go away.

I walked because there is a need.
I walked that bodies could be freed.

I walked to give a small child hope...
I walked to help someone cope.

I walked for a husband or a wife.
I walked to give someone life.

I walked with my head held high...
I walked for that one about to die.

I walked excitedly not demure.
I walked to help find a cure.

I walked for everyone to see....
I walked for you....I walked for me.

We will continue to walk.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Patience is a Virtue

Today was THE day...I anticipated all the test results would be back and the plan would be put into action today. However, the test results were inconclusive or the best way I understand is the results did not confirm Dr. Silva's intuition! Let me share that Dr. Silva is thrilled the cancer does not exist in my organs nor bones. In his mind, his initial plan has not changed...chemo before any type of surgery. However, the current results do not warrant chemo and he still has concerns with lymph nodes in the left arm pit. Today, I had a ultrasound guided core biopsy of the lymph nodes in the left arm pit. We should get the results by Tuesday (hopefully) next week. As an analyst, I am very familiar with flowcharting and even though I hesitate to create flowcharts, I understand the philosophy and purpose. In my mind, we are near the beginning of the flowchart at a Decision Making point...a HUGE Decision Making point. I believe that Dr. Silva is taking the appropriate precautions to ensure he makes the right decision in my best interest. The decision will be chemo vs. mastectomy. I will continue to pray, pray, pray!

I Love to Be a Mom

Kids can do wonders and provide great distractions. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful, healthy family. My baby boy is a Mama's Boy and I love every minute of it! My girls made cards for me! My 3 year old drew a fire breathing dragon...the art work reminds me of her imagination when we are cloud watching and finding images in the clouds. My 6 year old made me the biggest card I have ever received. The message reads...Dear Mom, I hope you survive cancer. I hope your hair gros bac. I hope they get that thing out of your boob. I Love you to the moon and back.

What more can I say? The cards and the message are priceless. I am so thankful to be a Mom and be surrounded by my "babies".

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fight Like A Girl...

My Big Sister sent this song to me today at the request of my brother-in-law's cousin with a note that she will pray for me when she hears this song...Fight Like A Girl. The lyrics are below.

Also, we had a MVP celebration at Heartland today and honored ONE superstar employee. It was the first MVP reception for our new President and CEO and he shared a few words that hit very close to home for me and will stick with me forever. I will not quote him, but he indicated that ONE person cannot run a hospital (or fight breast cancer in my case) because it takes a team...a team with superstars. We are continuing to build our team of superstars and I would wager us against anybody or anything. Hey Team, Let's Go...Fight...Win!

Fight Like A Girl Lyrics...
Little girl alone on the playground
Tired of gettin' teased and gettin' pushed around
Wishin' she was invisible
To them
She ran home cryin
'"Why do they hate me?"
And Mama wiped the tears and said
"Baby, you're brave and you're beautiful.
So, hold your head high.
Don't ever let 'em define
The light in your eyes.
Love yourself, give them Hell.
You can take on this world.
You just stand and be strong
And then fight
Like a girl."
At 31 she was wheelin' and dealin'
Kept on hittin' that same glass ceilin'
She was never gonna be one of the boys, no
She coulda gave up on her ambition
And spent the rest of her life just wishin'
Instead she listened to her mama's voice sayin'
"Hold your head high.
Don't ever let 'em define
The light in your eyes.
Love yourself, give them Hell.
You can take on this world.
You just stand and be strong
And then fight
Like a girl.
"Oh, with style and grace
Kick ass and take names
Ten years of climbin' that ladder
Oh, but money and power don't matter
When the doctor said "the cancer spread"
She holds on tight to her husband and babies
And says "this is just another test God gave me.
And I know just how to handle this
"I'll hold my head high
I'll never let this define
The light in my eyes
Love myself, give it Hell
I'll take on this world
If I stand and be strong
No, I'll never give up
I will conquer with love
And I'll fight like
Like a girl

Monday, August 3, 2009

I smell VICTORY today!

I was scheduled for a pre-op physical (prior to the procedure to place the chemo port) today with my PCP. He made my day by sharing the results of all the tests on Friday. I had a MRI, 3 CTs and a Bone Scan. All the test results contained no specific evidence of metastatic disease. In my terms, the cancer exists only in the left breast and has not yet invaded my lymph nodes, bones, nor any other organ in my system! Can you hear me?!? I am shouting shouts of joy and praising our God! Thanks for the prayers! Keep them coming!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thank You with Hugs & Kisses

Big Sigh...Where to Start?!? I cannot begin to express in words the overwhelming emotion of gratitude I have! I have experienced so many acts of kindness, heartfelt gestures, words of encouragement, prayers, and hugs & kisses. To each of you I simply say, "Thank You, Your Rewards will be Great!" This fight is not mine to win alone, but WE will do this together. The end result may not be a KO, but I am determined to win by decision. With my support structure, I am prepared to fight to the very last bell...through every round. The boxing gloves in the picture are MINE. My oldest niece, Cyndi, gave them to me with the inspirational message...ARE YOU READY TO FIGHT? Fortunately, I have lots of motivation to answer, "Damn Right, I am!" I took a picture of my 3 adorable children with me to share with Dr. Silva and staff to help them understand just how serious and competitive I am. I told them, "This is my motivation!" as I shared the picture. Dan immediately realized he was not in the picture, but as you all know, Dan and I are meant to grow old together. We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this year and plan to celebrate many more together! I also have my mother, my rock! She led this family through my Big Sister's battle with cancer and several other trials along the way and her faith never faltered. Not sure she was prepared to lead the way again for her baby girl, but she did not hesitate. She gave me a relic from Padre Pio, the saint who cured hundreds from cancer. She visited his shrine in Italy on a previous trip. I also have my Big Sister! She has shown me the way with her toughness and persistence and proudly wears the purple survivor shirt during the annual Relay for Life walks, which my daughters call "Sashy's Walk". I have my guardian angel in heaven, my Daddy, looking over me and guiding me every step of the way. I have the strength from my brothers that I can always depend on in any time of need. I also have my own health. I struggle to remember a time that I have felt better. And I have all of, nieces, nephews, friends, parish members, co-workers. We will WIN this fight together!

We have witnessed the Power of Prayer in my family and community and with my friends. And I will be Proud to be added to the list!

I had a couple reminders that my prayers were not complete as of late. A marquee in St. Joseph contains the message, "Have You Thanked God Today?" And the opening song in daily mass last Thursday was Now Thank We All Our God. Dan and I both admitted that we were behind a few days, but I can promise you that I have caught up. I do have too much to be thankful for...Life is Good, the Fight is On!