Saturday, June 10, 2017

March 8, 2017, A Special Day for Both of Us


June 10, 2017

current mood:  Blessed and Inspired


I believe people come into our lives for a reason.  Some stay for a while and others for a short time.  And even strangers come into our lives for a reason.

The selfie above is of a women who I met on a very special day.  It was a special day for her and for me.  It was March 8 of this year and it was my 10 year Cancerversary and I decided to go for a bike ride.  I was just getting back on my bike since my accident and I wanted to do my favorite trail, the Withlacoochee.

On my way back I always stop at the same picnic table at Croom Trail.  It's 5 miles from the car and always a great last resting stop.  That March day, Margaret and her husband decided to stop at that same picnic table.  They were riding 40 miles that day and stopped to eat their lunch.  We started chatting about the weather and what a beautiful day it was with the low humidity and perfect temperature for a bike ride.  She shared with me that it was her 80th birthday.  I was so amazed at how she was still riding her bike.  Wow!  What an inspiration!  We also shared our love of the Withlacoochee trail and she told me her and her husband were not originally from Florida.  After they retired they bought an RV and traveled across the Country looking for the best spot to retire.  They love the trail so much they settled along it, her in Florida.  How awesome is that?

We also chatted about the Van Fleet trail.  I had never been and she told me that it's a nice trail too but it's in the middle of no-where.  I have since checked out the trail and I have to admit every time I ride it I think of her and her husband.

I've seen them on the Withlachoochee trail several times since our meeting and I always acknowledge them with a smile and hello.  Today when I saw them we were biking in opposite directions.  I knew we'd pass again so I decided on the way back I was going to ask her for this selfie.

Sure enough I passed them and turned around and caught up with them.  I told her we had met back in March on her 80th birthday and she smiled and said what a great memory I had.  I told her what I hadn't shared with her that day was that it was my 10 year Cancerversary.  I didn't feel it was right to share that with her, since it was her happy, special day.  I also told her that she is my inspiration and I hope that when I'm 80, I'm still riding my bike too.  She was so thrilled and touched when I asked her for the selfie pic.  And then so sweet when she said she wished she had a pencil and paper to share her email address with me.  I told her not to worry I could put it in my phone.  She wanted to share the pic/story with her two daughters.

Thank you so much Margaret for touching my life and being a true inspiration.  Here's to many more miles and smile and hellos along our favorite trail, the Withlacoochee.



Monday, April 3, 2017

10 Years!



April 3, 2017

Current Mood:  Reminiscent


Well, March 8th marked my 10 year Cancerversary and I wanted to blog about it but wasn’t sure how I wanted to tackle it or how I wanted to share…

I could take the approach, how did Cancer change me? Or what have I accomplished since my D-Day? I guess I’m doing a little of both in this blog.

Sure it’s been 10 years since I heard those life changing words, “You’ve got cancer”, but I live with reminders every day. Yes, every day I have to take a shower and see my scars and look at what the cancer took from me. Yes, putting lotion on my body has gotten easier over the years and sure the scars have faded but they’re still there, a constant reminder of my past. I try so hard not to dwell on it but every now and then it still hurts.

So how has cancer changed me?
Well for one I definitely don’t judge people and by that I mean when I see someone. I hated when people would stare at me and my bald head. Or even better would stare at me when my hair was just growing back and probably thinking, wow that’s a short haircut she must be a lesbian. I think, no I know, cancer has changed me in how I look at my life and what I want to do and who I want in my life. I believe I’m a better person for meeting other cancer survivors and sharing our stories. I’ve made some amazing friends, who I call my Cancer Friends. They’re the ones that really get me. Sure my Family and Friends were there for me through my Cancer Crapness Journey but it’s my Cancer Friends who really understood cause they’ve walked my walk. I try to surround myself with positive people. I’m still single and I do know I’m not settling for being in a relationship where I’m not happy. Life is too short to not be happy. I’d rather be single and happy than in a relationship and miserable. Statistics say that cancer survivors have better marriage success than those without cancer. That makes total sense to me. Cancer survivors have been to hell and back and I know as much as I would love to be in a relationship and sure someday get married I need to make sure it’s the right person cause for me, it’s forever.

So what have I accomplished since my D-Day?
Well let’s see. I chased my dream and moved to NYC. I owned a co-op in Brooklyn and worked in Manhattan for the NBA. I traveled to London and Paris and did it by myself. Yes, that’s the adventurous side of me that comes from my Mom. I moved again this time to Florida to be closer to my Brother and see my Niece Kiersten grown up. I started traveling again on several cruises to the Caribbean. Some fun excursions were trekking through the rain forest and cave tubing in Belize. I loved Jamaica and taking a ride on the bobsled. And of course snorkeling in the Cayman Islands was amazing too just to name a few. I got my butt back in shape and took up cycling again. I rode my first century (100 miles) ride last year and just did another one a few weeks ago. Proving to myself and my body that cancer may have failed me once but it’s not getting me again!

As many of you know, I love Lance Armstrong. It has nothing to do with the cyclist; it has to do with his Livestrong foundation. There is a line in their manifesto that sticks with me every day. “Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.” Those words are so true!

So here’s to another 10 years of kicking cancer’s ass!


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Time For Reflection

October 4, 2016

Current mood:  Proud


As I head into my 10th year of Survivorship and enter the Pink Haze of October, once again it’s time for me to reflect… 

There are days it’s seems like just yesterday, I heard those life changing words, “You’ve Got Cancer”.  And other days it seems likes it’s been in my review mirror for a long time.
 
I try to live my life in a positive way and not to stress or sweat the small stuff.  I definitely NEVER complain about bad hair days anymore! 
 
And of course trying to stay healthy includes eating well and exercising.   Yes, I’ve been off course a few times and gained weight and then lost it and then gained again and now I’ve lost it again.  The difference this time is, I did it the right way.  No fad diets, no counting points, just eating healthy and finding something that I enjoy doing that counts as exercise, like biking.

I love to get up early and catch the sunrise either on my way to a trail or sometimes I’m already on the trail.  Biking is not only exercise and keeping me healthy psychically but I really believe it’s my therapy mentally as well. 
   
This past weekend I did my first century ride, which is 100 miles.  I love the fact that I did it in the month of October AND I did it on October 2nd which is a key date for me in my cancer crapness journey.  October 2nd was my very last Herceptin treatment, ending my 17 month battle.   A battle of being scanned, poked, poisoned, cut and amputated.  Yes I consider my double mastectomy, amputated. 

So once again it’s October and I remind all my girlfriends to do their self breast exams, cause I’m living proof that Breast Cancer can strike the young. 
 
So just in case you can’t see me through the Pink Haze of October, I’m the Girl Standing Strong and flipping the bird to STUPID CANCER! 


Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Right Words to Say...

Saturday, December 5, 2015

current mood:  feeling helpless


You would think that as a Cancer Survivor I would know exactly what to say to someone who just told me they have cancer…

Not at all true!  I know “not” what to say or at least what I didn’t like people to say to me. 

So my My Favoritest Person in the Whole Wide World told me a few weeks ago that she has cancer.  The woman I have looked up to since I was a little girl is now part of the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer.

It all started when she called and wanted to know about the BRCA  gene test that I had taken back in 2007 and what the results were.  She asked some other questions too and that’s when I just had to ask, “Is everything OK?”  She told me she hadn’t told anyone yet, she wanted to wait for all her test results to come in but it looks like she has Breast Cancer.

My eyes welled up and I wanted to cry so bad but I knew she didn’t need to hear me cry so I held it together.  I needed to be strong for her.  We talked and I told her everything she needed to know about my pathology reports.   She could then share them with her oncologist. 

All I could think of was, how could this amazing woman who is so selfless and kind have cancer?

After our conversation, I got ready for work.  I found myself crying in the shower.  How could this be happening and why do I live so damn far away from home! 

The guilt of moving to Florida started setting in…

See when you move away from home, it’s hard, really hard when something bad happens back home and you can’t be there.

My Auntie Judy was there for me every step of my Cancercrapnees Journey and now I can’t be there for her!

Sure we can talk on the phone and we text, yes my cool Auntie Judy texts. 

I guess the only good thing about this is, at least I can help her with all those questions and fears that she has.

Will I get sick after chemo?  When will my hair fall out?  Etc.

So I’ve begun to pass on all my wisdom from my cancercrapness journey and she says it’s all been helpful.  Every time I talk to her, she seems to be in great spirits, but then again, she’s  always been my upbeat Auntie Judy.  Or is she doing what I think all cancer survivors do, at least I did, you stay up beat and positive and make sure that everyone else is comfortable.  You make conversations easy and crack the occasional joke to make people smile or to simply cut the tension in the room. 

So she’s had her port implanted and it’s a little different than mine was but I told her what to expect and she said I nailed it. 

She’s had her first chemo and once again I gave her tips and told her what to expect.  She said I once again nailed it and that what I said was helpful.

I’m coming home for an already planned trip next week and I can’t wait to see her.    I just want to hug her and tell her how much I love her! 

I’m hoping that I can find the right words to say to her…

You know the words that I should know?  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Am I ready for the Suvivorship Clinic?


Sunday, April 19, 2015

current mood: feeling left behind

So I went for my first one year checkup the other day. I have to admit I was a little more nervous than usual because, let’s face it, it had been a year and not the norm of 6 months. And of course the fear of having my blood drawn always scares me. What if they find something abnormal? What if my cancer is back? And then of course there is the fear of the blood draw itself, cause it usually takes lots of poking to finally find my vein. Yes, I’m one of those people who are crazy and say…Damn I miss my port! But Elio, who I have come to know and ask for, got it right the first try. I heart Elio!!!

So with my blood drawn, I head to Women’s Oncology. I wait my turn and like clockwork, they are running 45 minutes behind. Hell it’s only 9:15 am, how could they be that backed up? Don’t even get me started on that tangent...

So I get into the examining room and the usual questions are asked and of course I get to change into that fashionable gown, “opening in the front”. And again continue to wait...

Finally Beline walks in with her usual smile. She starts off the conversation with, “Oh my gosh, I love your hair"!  Now keep in mind I haven’t seen her in a year and I’m pretty impressed she even remembers my long hair. I’m getting side tracked, I know, but I just wanted to point out how Beline is more than just my Oncologist's Assistant. She is a rare find in the medical field, or at least along my journey. She actually cares and gets to know you on a personal level, not just a "cancer" level. So we chat and catch up over the past year. I tell her, that I have a new job. I thought she was going to fall off the chair she was so excited for me. She knows all about BCF and how much I loathed that place. I told her about my hip and how I went to the orthopedic and did physical therapy and finally got a shot to help with the pain. So she’s happy that I’m following her instructions from last visit. But now, here comes the usual lecture… Have you found a General Practitioner? And of course my answer is no. She once again lectures me on the importance of seeing someone regularly not just going to urgent care when I don’t feel well. And then of course gives me an example of why… If you had a general doctor who knew your medical history and you went to see them say twice in one year for bronchitis, they would know to look a little deeper knowing that one of my side effects of breast cancer is a possible recurrence in my lungs. Yes, it all makes sense to me. Find a Doctor that is invested in me and my health, I get it. But besides my cancer, I’m a pretty healthy person. Sure I get the occasional cold, but if it’s more serious, I can go to urgent care and be in and out instead of having to wait to make an appointment to see a general doctor. But don't get me wrong, I get Beline's point.

OK, so here comes the whole point of my blog… She tells me that now that I am a “Survivor”, which they consider anything 5 years after your last treatment. Now keep in mind, I am longer than that but when I moved down here, they wanted to keep an eye on me, since this isn’t where I had my original treatment. So now Beline starts talking about how I don’t have to come here to the Cancer Center anymore, I can go to what is called a Survivorship Clinic. OK? She explains that I would see a nurse practitioner and would still follow my post cancer treatment plan. Another words, if I needed a bone scan, they would schedule that for me, etc.

So here comes my fear. And I mean no disrespect to any nurse practitioners out there. But I feel once again that I’m being released into the unknown again. Here’s why I feel that way… When you are first diagnosed with cancer, you have this whole team around you. Breast Surgeon, Oncologist, Plastic Surgeon and Gynecologist. Sure little by little your team shrinks as your treatment ends but now I’m scared because I feel like I’m seeing someone that’s second string. What if they don’t pick up on something? I have to admit, I was scared when I started seeing Beline. Sure she’s not an Oncologist, but she’s higher than a nurse practitioner. Am I just hung up on the title? I don’t know. I feel like I’m being tossed to the second string team now and rolling the dice with my follow up care.

When does a cancer survivor feel safe?

 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sending Birthday Wishes to the Rainbow Bridge



Thursday, April 24, 2014

current mood:  still heartbroken


I can't believe it's been almost 9 months since my Maddy left me for her journey to the Rainbow Bridge. 

I can honestly say there is not a day that goes by that I don't miss her. 

Her 15th Birthday would be next month on May 7. 

I've decided to take that day off from work and in honor of her birthday do something that we did together.  I haven't completely decided what I would like to do but I have narrowed it down to either a walk and picnic in the park or a kayak ride down the Hillsborough River. 

I used to love to bring her to the many parks in NYC.  Whether is was Prospect Park by our place in Brooklyn, Riverside Park along the Hudson River or Central Park.  I would pack up her portable water bowl and pack a lunch and head to the park.  She loved people watching while I relaxed and caught up on my latest James Patterson novel. 



Central Park
Riverside Park





















And in her younger days she also loved to kayak with me back home in Connecticut.  She loved our kayaking adventures at the Lake House.  She just loved being with me and I loved being with her.


 
  
 
 
Maddy was truly the love of my life.  My little Fur Angel.  For more than 14 years she loved me unconditionally and I couldn't have asked for anything better than that. 
 
Sure I've gone through the motions or steps of grieving her loss but it doesn't make it any easier.  My apartment is still empty...I still look for her sleeping on the couch as I open my apartment door after a long day at work hoping to see her and having her greet me with her wagging tail. 
 
I say goodnight to her every night as I look at her urn on my nightstand but still hoping to feel her at the bottom of my bed as I get under the covers. 
 
She's left a void in my life that's for sure.  And even as I write this I'm looking through blurred eyes from the tears that are welling up.
 
I just hope my Maddy is happy at the Rainbow Bridge.   I can only hope that she has met the dogs and cats that belong to the owners in my Pet Loss Support Group. 
 
And I hope she misses me as much as I miss her...
 
Happy Birthday Maddy!
 
Love Mommy
 
 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tamoxifen Rage!

October 2, 2013

current mood:  frustrated


I only have one question, why is it that no one told me about Tamoxifen and the possible side affect of mood swings… 

Sure I was told by my Oncologist that Tamoxifen may cause hot flashes, weight gain, headaches and other “fun” stuff but she never mentioned mood swings. 

Well lately I have been out of control with Tamoxifen Rage.  You could look at me the wrong way and I could go off on you.  My poor boyfriend has taken the brunt of most of my rage.
The sad thing is, I know when I'm in my Tamoxifen Rage that what I’m doing and saying is wrong and hurtful but yet I can’t control myself.  It’s like I’m possessed by the Tamoxifen.
Well needless to say my Tamoxifen Rage caught up to me this past weekend.  Yes, once again I was possessed and said things that I’m not proud of. 
We (my boyfriend and I) talked and tried to figure out why I was so unhappy.  Everything kept coming back to the Tamoxifen.
So like everyone else that wants to know something we turned to the computer and "googled" tamoxifen and mood swings.  We found this amazing blog where a woman I swear was describing me to a tee.  She called it tamox-rage.  The inability to control what comes out of your mouth.  My boyfriend just gave me a look as we both knew that was me. 
She also talked about muscle and bone pain.  Funny, I have had achy hips since late March, early April.  Hmmmm, I started the tamoxifen in February.  As for the muscle pain, there are days it hurts just putting my body lotion on.  Hmmmm!
So I made the decision to stop taking the Tamoxifen for 1 month (with the blessing of my Oncologist) and see if “Happy Jill” returns and to see if my aches and pains go away as well. 
Would love to hear from my B/C Sister’s …have you taken tamoxifen and if so, did you have Tamoxifen Rage?

Friday, August 2, 2013

I've lost my one true constant in my life...


Friday, August 2, 2013

current mood:  lost and lonely



My thoughts are so scattered as I write this…
I think my friend Michelle summed it up pretty well in a message to me on FB.  Maddy has been the one true constant in my life for the past 14 years.  Those words are so powerful and so true.  I have been through so much in the past 14 years but the one thing that has always been there has been Maddy’s unconditional love.  Her wagging tail as she greets me at the door.  My apartment is so empty without her.  Her favorite spot on the couch is bare.  Her water bowl and food bowl are now up in my cupboard.  Her collar and leash still sit on my kitchen counter and will remain there until I’m ready…
Will I ever be ready?  Does this pain ever go away?  Will my tears ever stop flowing?
Making that tough decision, you know the one that no one wants to make was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. 
I held her in my arms like a baby, with her head to my chest.  I was  uncontrollably crying and she did what Maddy does best...she picked her head up and licked away my tears.  couldn't believe even at the end she was still trying to comfort me.  I strongly believe that was her way of letting me know that it was OK to say goodbye.
After she was gone I put her lifeless body on the table and wrapped her body with a towel, except her head.  I was still petting her.  I sat with her and just talked and told her how much I loved her.  I found myself not wanting to ever leave.  I felt like I was abandoning her.  I called my Dad and told him that.  He reassured me that I had done the right thing and that I wasn't abandoning her and that I needed to stay as long as I wanted.   I tried to leave three different times and each time, I went back and knelt down at her lying on the table.
 I did at one point take a picture of her paw.  I found myself caressing the pad of her paw.  I used to love to do that to her when she was lying on the couch, even though I knew it drove her crazy.   That was the only picture I took.  I've decided that her paw print is going to be my next tattoo.

I remember the day I got her.  It was 4th of July weekend 1999.  It was really supposed to be my Dad’s puppy but he had changed his mind about having two dogs.  I had just bought my house at the end of April and to be honest with you wasn't too keen on the idea of a new puppy and all the fun house-training that it entailed.  But my Dad convinced me and that’s where Maddy and I’s adventure began…
It’s funny cause when we went over my Aunt’s house to pick her up, she was the only puppy left so she was among 4 or 5 adult dogs and she didn't seem very playful.  I remember telling that to my Dad and boy did I jinx it.  Maddy was beyond playful once I got her home and her puppy years lasted well into her 4th year.  I think then she finally started to calm down.
I used to do and bring Maddy everywhere with me.  From rides in the car to vacations.  She has been on every mode of transportation…car, train, subway, boat and air plane.  It’s sad to say but sometimes I think she’s lived a better life than some children. 
Maddy has been with me through all of my life’s ups and downs.  All the joy and especially was there for the sorrow.  She licked my tears when my Mom passed away and then a few years later she licked the tears away again as my Grandmother passed away.  She loved me unconditionally and never judged me during my cancer treatment and never looked funny at me with my bald head.  As a matter of fact she liked my bald head and liked to lick it. 
She never complained when I chased my dream and moved to NYC.  She never questioned where the green grass went and why she had to do her business on the concrete jungle. 
I loved packing up a lunch, her portable water bowl and a blanket and heading to Central Park.  We could spend hours at the park and both of us would be content.  I would catch up on my reading and she would people watch and just be happy to see green grass. 
She loved visiting my Step-Dad at the Lake House.  She would kayak with me and loved to go in the water.  She also loved to chase the ducks.  No ducks were allowed on the beach in front of the house, not on Maddy’s watch.
Later on in life she was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease.  It took a toll on her body before we finally got her stabilized and diagnosed.  I learned to give her percorten shots every 23 days.  I would do anything for my Baby.  After all she was there for me through my cancer crapness, now it was time for me to be there for her.

It was tough watching her get older.  Her hearing had just recently starting getting really bad and she had some night blindness.  But it didn't matter to me.  If it meant our walks in the morning took a little longer, I simply adjusted my morning alarm.  If it meant putting more lights on in my apartment so she could see more easily than that’s what I did.
Maddy was a true blessing in my life.  I am privileged to have been the owner of such a sweet dog.
I will miss her every day of my life.
I will see again Maddy, at the Rainbow Bridge.    

Monday, May 20, 2013

Toughest Decision I've ever made....



May 20, 2013

current mood:  jealous
  

I was watching Dr. Oz the other day and he did a special on women who have the BRAC 1 gene.  Some women chose to take action and some are too scared to have the surgery. 

The reason why most of them were afraid to have the surgery was the fear of losing their femininity. 

I know first hand about that fear.  I still live with it every day.

I was tested for the BRAC 1 gene and even though I thankfully did not have the gene, I too opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy.  Taking the healthy breast was the hardest decision I've ever had to make.  But at the time it was a no brainer.  The cancer was VERY aggressive and in the words of my breast surgeon, it would only be a matter of time before it attacked my healthy breast.  I didn't want to go through chemo a second time and the reconstructive surgery I opted for, the DIEP Tram Flap can only be done once so for me the choice was made, take the healthy breast.

The fear of losing your femininity for me was so difficult because I was single at the time and my biggest fear was how the hell am I going to date after this.  Who is going to accept me for who am and love me for me and not the fact that I don't have real boobs.

I posted my current mood for this blog as jealous because I am so jealous of the new procedure that is now out there for women facing breast cancer.  The new nipple sparing procedure is so beyond amazing in helping to prevent that fear of losing your femininity.

I know for me the breast that was affected by the cancer would not be able to use this procedure because my nipple did test positive for cancer as well as the breast tissue.  But this new procedure could have been used when taking my healthy breast. 

It's amazing how much has changed in just the short 6 years since my diagnosis.

Thank you to all the amazing surgeons who are making this new procedure possible and helping my sisters feel a little bit better when they are faced to make their difficult decisions.

And thank you Brad for supporting Angelina in her difficult decision as well.

I love Brad Pitt's quote....

"Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie's choice, as well as many others like her, absolutely heroic," Brad Pitt said in a statement to London's Evening Standard. "I thank our medical team for their care and focus.

"All I want is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children," the actor continued. "This is a happy day for our family."

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Madeleine Maris AKA Maddy



Saturday, May 4, 2013

current mood:  reminiscent


I can’t believe my Baby is turning 14 this coming Tuesday.

Madeleine Maris…

I remember the day I brought her home, like it was yesterday. See Maddy wasn’t really supposed to be my dog, she was originally going to be my Dad’s second dog. Maddy is my Dad’s dog’s puppy. When he changed his mind about having two dogs, the idea of Maddy becoming mine was given to me. I have to admit I wasn't too keen in the beginning. I just bought my first house and wasn’t quite ready for a puppy. Yet, the more I saw her, the more I fell in love. So 4th of July weekend, 1999, I brought Maddy home.

I guess I should start off my explaining how I chose her name. Maddy was named after Madeleine Albright. For those of you who don’t know your history, she was the first woman Secretary of State. Maris is in honor of Roger Maris. The story behind that is…like I had mentioned earlier my Dad was supposed to keep her and his name for her would have been Maris and yes my Dad’s dog’s name was Micki (spelling for a girl) named after Mickey Mantle. Yes my Dad loves his NY Yankees.

It’s funny cause the day I went to pick her up, she was the only puppy left among 5 or 6 adult dogs and she didn’t seem very playful. I remember telling my Dad that and boy did I jinx myself. Maddy was more than playful in her “puppy” days. She was a handful until she was about 6.

Over the years I would bring Maddy anywhere and everywhere dogs were permitted. She was the adventurous Bichon Frise of the family. Yes, everyone in our family has a Bichon thanks to my Aunt Gloria who is the one that breeds them.

It’s sad to say but I do believe Maddy has a better life than some children out there.

She’s traveled with me on vacations. Yes she’s been on an airplane, a train, a boat and of course been in a car. She’s learned to change with my new adventures in life too. She went from having a BIG backyard in our house in CT to having to share a yard in our Condo in CT as well. She adapted pretty well to the move to NYC and quickly learned to “do” her business in the concrete jungle. And I haven’t heard her complain about her new apartment in Florida. I think she enjoys the mild winters.

We’ve been through A LOT together! She’s seen me at my highest highs and she’s been there at my lowest low’s , usually propped up on my chest licking my tears away. She was there for me when I lost both my Mom and Grandma. And she was there unconditionally through my cancer crapness journey. I always say that her sodium level must be through the roof from all the tears that she has licked away over the years.

There is nothing better than unconditional love from your dog. You can have the crappiest day and when you put that key in the door and open it and all you see is a dog wagging their tail, it’s makes everything OK.

It’s sad to say but Maddy has been my longest relationship. She’s seen all of the guys I’ve dated over the years and yet she’s never judged me. Well she did mention a few that she didn’t like…

As my Baby gets older, I’ve had to make some adjustments myself. Yes, we go for our morning walks at a slower pace. I now have to turn the light on in the hallway on our way to bed because she has night blindness. And I have learned to speak a little louder when calling her.

Don’t worry Maddy, Mommy is going to take care of you unconditionally just like you have for the past 14 years.

Happy 14th Birthday Maddy!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reflecting on my 6 year Cancerversary




Monday, February 4, 2013

Current mood:  reflective


This Friday, March 8, 2013 will be my 6 year cancerversary.

It feels like just yesterday, I was sitting in Dr. Lee's office going over my plan of attack. Remove the lump and 12 weeks of radiation. I walked out of her office like no big deal.  I can handle this, just a minor speed bump in my life. Then as the weeks went by and more tests happened and with my surgery results everything would change. The cancer had spread and now I needed a mastectomy and 8 rounds of chemo.

I remember her words, they are forever etched in my memory.   She told me there are 3 kinds of people when it comes to fighting cancer. One will walk out of the Dr's office in denial and stay there and do nothing. One will leave the Dr's office have a melt down and then fight as hell to survive. One will leave the Dr's office and fight like hell and then have their melt down. Which was I? I was the third. I left Dr. Lee's office that Saturday morning full of fight. I was going to attack this cancer and show it who was boss.

I did so much research on Breast Cancer, you could say I'm an expert. To this day I can recite my pathology report, the size of my tumor, the grade of my cancer and all the drugs that were pumped through my body. The sad thing is I'm not really sure I ever did have that melt down. Don't get me wrong I had minor melt downs along the way. I did my fair share of crying!

One thing I did do for sure was reflect on my 35 years and decided that it was time for a change. Cancer did teach me to chase my dreams, which led me to moving to NYC. I love NYC and had always wanted to work and live there. I thrive on the hustle and bustle! I loved the 3 years I lived there.

As my 6 year approaches, I'm starting to reflect again on my life and the things that make me happy and the unfortunate things that do not. Maybe it's time for a change again...

The thing in my life that makes me the happiest is being an Auntie to my amazing 2 year old Niece Kiersten. I am beyond thankful that I kicked cancer's ass and I'm able to watch this little girl grow up. We just recently had our first sleepover at my apartment. We had so much fun! There is nothing better than the sound of Auntie Jill coming from her mouth as she screeches to greet me with a hug when I go over for a visit. As I always tell her, she is Auntie's Favorite!

Also as my 6 year approaches, it's time to reflect on the negative in my life and how I'm going to change it. What frustrates me and what exactly can I do to change that...

It's sad to say but sometimes we have negative people in our lives and I know for me it may be time to close a few chapters or doors and leave room for some new and hopefully exciting doors to open.

Life is way too short to live with people that frustrate you or simply don't bring out the best in you. It's difficult but sometimes necessary to say good bye. I do believe that people come and go in our lives and everyone that we meet has a purpose in our lives. Some stay for a short period and other stay for years.

Continuing to live my life with NO REGRETS!....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tamoxifen has my head spinning

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Current mood:  Scared


So yesterday was my 6 month Oncology Checkup.  I loathe my 6 month checkups.  Not at that fact that I have to see the Dr. but at the fact that I have to step back in time and relive my cancer all over again. 

Yesterday was particularly fun in the fact that I had to once again have a conversation about taking Tamoxifen....

My cancer was ER/PR+ and Her2+.  I took precautions against the Her2+ part of my cancer and took a drug called Herceptin every 3 weeks for a year via an IV.  I did not experience any side affects with this drug.   As for the ER/PR+ part of my cancer, I was told I should take a drug called Tamoxifen for 5 years.  It would help to prevent my breast cancer from coming back.

Now keep in mind, I had a bi-lateral mastectomy so I felt like I was pretty safe in the fact that my breast cancer wouldn't return considering I didn't have breast tissue anymore.  Of course the Dr is going to say....we can't guarantee that we got ALL the cancer cells, there maybe one or two left behind.  Nothing in life is a guarantee, right?  That's what I was thinking....

After many heated discussions with my Oncologist back home in CT, she eventually wore me down and I started taking the tamoxifen.  The hot flashes were unbearable.  I took it for almost 2 years and then said....NO MORE! 

Well, here I am in Florida 5+ years later having that same heated discussion with my new Oncologist.  She's so concerned about how aggressive my cancer was she asked me if I was willing to have my ovaries removed.  Apparently the Estrogen that my body is still producing is like a ticking time bomb for me.  I have to admit, I was completely caught off guard by the question.  I once again brought up the fact that I had a bi-lateral mastectomy and didn't understand why I needed to take a drug to help prevent the breast cancer from returning since I had no breasts.  My Oncologists response was that she was concerned that we really don't know if the cancer spread past my lymph nodes and that tamoxifen also prevents metastatic breast cancer. 

Now she had my attention! 

Metastatic Breast Cancer is every Breast Cancer Survivor's worst nightmare and words you never want to hear.

We also discussed how tamoxifen is now showing better results in women that take it for 10 years instead of the initial 5 year recommendation.  I remember hearing about that on the news a while back.  I quickly said to her, you want me to take it for 10 years and her response to me was....I just want you to start taking it and we will determine for how long later. 

So I left the the Cancer Center with tears in my eyes and 2 prescriptions in my hand.  One for tamoxifen and one to prevent hot flashes.  The question was...was I going to get them filled and if I did, was I going to start taking them.

I did get them filled and...

After doing research on the "hot flash" med, which is also a drug used for depression and anxiety.  I decided to wait and see if I would have the same reaction to the tamoxifen as I did 5+ years ago.  I hate taking drugs, if I really don't need them and the warning on the label was pretty scary....call Dr if you experience depression, sadness or fear.  Really?  I think I'll wait and see if the hot flashes come first.

And after staring at the little white pill called tamoxifen this morning for what seemed to be forever (5 minutes) I picked it up and put in my mouth and swallowed some orange juice.

Day 1 is over!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Respect ?


 
 
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
 
Current mood: Still inspired
 
 
By this point, I think everyone has watched the Oprah Interview and has their opinion on Lance Armstrong.   I as many others also watched it.  It may surprise many but I do still respect him.  But let me clarify myself.  I do not respect him as an athlete however I am a young adult cancer survivor and I do still respect him for all that he has done for the young adult cancer community.  His Livestrong Foundation helped me get through some of my darkest days in my cancercrapness journey.
 
When I first read the Livestrong Manifesto, there was one line that especially stuck out to me.  And I still believe it's true today.....Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
 
LIVESTRONG MANIFESTO...
We believe in life.
Your life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is LIVESTRONG.

We kick in the moment you're diagnosed.
We help you accept the tears. Acknowledge the rage.
We believe in your right to live without pain.
We believe in information. Not pity.
And in straight, open talk about cancer.
With husbands, wives and partners. With kids, friends and neighbors. Your healthcare team. And the people you live with, work with, cry and laugh with.
This is no time to pull punches.
You're in the fight of your life.

We're about the hard stuff.
Like finding the nerve to ask for a second opinion.
And a third, or a fourth, if that's what it takes.
We're about preventing cancer. Finding it early. Getting smart about clinical trials.
And if it comes to it, being in control of how your life ends.
It's your life. You will have it your way.

We're about the practical stuff.
Planning for surviving. Banking your sperm. Preserving your fertility. Organizing your finances. Dealing with hospitals, specialists, insurance companies and employers.
It's knowing your rights.
It's your life.
Take no prisoners.

We're about the fight.
We're your advocate before policymakers. Your champion within the healthcare system. Your sponsor in the research labs.
And we know the fight never ends.
Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
This is LIVESTRONG.
Founded and inspired by Lance Armstrong, one of the toughest cancer survivors on the planet.


Lance says his most humbling moment was when he had to step down from his Livestrong Foundation. 

For me the most important question Oprah asked him was....What do you say to the millions of people who are wearing your yellow bracelets?  To the millions, who believed?....

80 Million Livestrong Bracelets were sold...$500 Million Dollars raised for Cancer Awareness.

I was one of those 80 Million who bought and wore a Livestrong Bracelet.

I wore my Livestrong Bracelet through 15 hours of cancer surgery and reconstruction.  I still have that bracelet today! 

Lance's response was...he was sorry.

I do believe that Lance is sorry for hurting the people who supported him through the Livestrong Foundation, however I don't buy the fact that he is sorry for doping.  I think he is sorry he got caught.

Thank you Lance for helping me through some of my darkest days, I wish you all the best in your darkest days...

LIVESTRONG!
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful for my Friends




Thursday, November 29, 2012
Current Mood:  Thankful 
 
Well there is only one more day left in November and as I reflect on all the things I am thankful for and there are so many,  I have to stop and pause at my Friends.
For me the month of November is not only the month that holds my absolute favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.   But it also holds a day that would change me forever.  November 22, 2007 I had a bi-lateral mastectomy.  Well this November I had yet another surgery.  No this one was not cancer related.  Thank God! 
After my cancercrapness journey, I always try to see the good in things.  For example, I was having surgery and yes I would be out of work for a few weeks but on a positive note, I was able to travel back home to see my family and friends in CT.  I got to spend some time home for my favorite holiday.  What more could this girl ask for?
While I was home, I got to see some of my friends.  This is kinda where this blog is going.  Friends…
I love my Friends and I especially love my BFF Danielle.  I love the fact that we can respect each other’s busy lives and not get upset with each other if we don’t speak for a while.  The best is when we can talk and pick up right where we left off even if it has been a week or sometimes longer.  Of course texting is always around too. 
So you know I had to meet up with Danielle and raise a little hell on one my nights home.  I also met up with another good friend Darrin and his new girlfriend, Mary.
It’s been a while since I’ve had that much fun just laughing and catching up.  
I’m grateful for that night and most grateful for my Friends.
I’m grateful to Darrin for just a few weeks ago at my pre-op Dr’s appt. I had a minor panic attack.  I thought I would be OK to go to that appt. by myself but as soon as I got in there and starting answering questions and then the blood draw and with all the smells of the hospital, everything was beginning to get to me.  It all just brought back November 22 all over again.  Darrin just happened to be texting me as I was there and then when he found out where I was he continued to text and try and calm me down.  3000+ miles away and yet a good friend can be there for you.  Gotta love technology!  Thanks Darrin for keeping this girl under somewhat control….LOL.  I heart you!
And of course there is nothing better than hanging out with your BFF.  And even if there are 3000+ miles between us, nothing can break that bond.  I love you BFF, Sister and KW (only Danielle will get KW) Muah!
And of course I have so many other friends out there as well.  I have my Cancer Friends that continue to support me through Facebook.  My Friends back in CT that I miss dearly.  My Friends that are scattered around the Country.  And of course my new Friends down here in Florida.
I love you all! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Damaged Goods...

Tuesday, August 29, 2012

Current mood:  Unsure


Not really sure how to start off this blog other than just write what’s on my mind. The truth is I haven’t had much success in dating lately and I keep asking myself what is wrong with me? Is it me? Or am I attracting the wrong guys? What exactly is the problem?

After some soul searching, I think I’ve found the answer and yes it has to do with me. I think physically I’m ready to be out there dating again but mentally maybe I’m still that scared B/C Survivor who isn’t ready to share quite everything. And by everything I mean intimacy.

I guess the bottom line is, I feel like damaged goods and I’m not sure how to fix that, or if it is even fixable.

A part of me hates my body, I mean hates my body!  Every morning I get out of the shower and put my body lotion on and I am quickly reminded that I’m not whole. A part of me was amputated. I know most people think of amputees as missing an arm or a leg but I had a double mastectomy and yes I feel like an amputee. Sure I’ve had reconstruction and may look whole to the outside world with my clothes on, but the truth is I have two fake boobs.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful to be here and to be alive and I am damn proud to call myself a SURVIVOR!

I just feel like I’ve paid my dues and now it’s time to be happy, right? I want to feel pretty and of course every girl wants to feel sexy. So then how do I get that feeling back? How do I get past this? Do I need more time?

Will the right guy come around and make me feel special and take the damaged goods label off of me?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wow! It's been 5 years since I've been poisoned


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

current mood:  Thankful


So I was on my bike ride this morning.  I do some of my best “thinking” on my rides.  Today I was thinking that my 5 year Anniversary is coming up.  The Anniversary of my first chemo treatment is June 25, 2007.  A day I will never forget. 
I remember having to be at the hospital at 6 am.  I was scheduled to have surgery at 7 am to implant my port.  See I’m one of those lucky people who you cannot find a vein on.  I had my brave face on but deep down I was so scared.
I remember the male nurse calming me down and telling me, more like reassuring me that he would find my vein on the first try.  And I’ll be damned, he did.  Kudos to him!
So off to surgery I went.  I was never 100% under which was kinda freaky.  I could hear the Dr and Nurses talking.  After Surgery and a little recovery time, I was wheeled down to the Cancer Center part of the Hospital. I hated being wheeled down there.  I felt for the first time that I was sick.  That I couldn’t walk on my own.  It totally sucked!  There I would receive my first round of eight chemo treatments.  Sixteen weeks of the “unknown”.   Sixteen weeks of nausea, pain and lots of tears!
After signing in and waiting a short while in the large waiting room full of other patients waiting to get poisoned, they called my name.  They took my blood to check my blood counts.  I would soon learn that it was all about my white blood cell count and keeping that one up high. 
I was then moved to a treatment  room,  where I was there with four other patients.  My Chemo Nurse Helen was off that day so I was getting treated my another  Nurse who was explaining everything to me as she did it.  I could see her lips moving but couldn’t hear her.  My mind and thoughts were elsewhere.  I didn’t want the poison.  I didn’t want to be there.  I hated my body for failing me and putting me there.  She told me the total time would be about 2 hours.  I sent my Dad back to the waiting room, there was no reason for him to stay with me and the treatment room was very small and there wasn’t really enough room for him. 
After the nurse set up my IV and the drip of the chemo pump started, a sound that I would quickly hate!  The chemo pump, a machine where you actually hear the poison being pumped into you.  As the nurse walked away my tears would start flowing.  I cried the entire 2 hours.  I sat there aimlessly flipping through the magazines that I had brought.  I had no idea what I was looking at. 
I do know that there was an elderly woman getting treatment in the chair across from me and she stared at me the whole entire time.  I hated her and I still hate her today.  Her face is embedded in my mind.  I could pick her out of a line up in a heartbeat that’s how much she hurt me.  How dare she stare at me!  Had she never seen someone scared before?
When my treatment was done, the nurse gave me a list of things to be aware of….  If I got a fever, if I threw up etc., I was to call the Dr immediately.
I quickly made my next appointment to be poisoned and found my Dad in the waiting room.  I was in such a hurry he could barely keep up.  I was out of there and across the street headed for the parking garage.  I needed to get away from the smells and sounds of the poison and that awful woman staring at me.
I would get home and rest the rest of the day.  I was so afraid to eat.  I didn’t know what to eat.  I had a stomach ache but didn’t know if I was hungry or if it was nausea.  That is one thing I never learned, the difference between nausea and hunger.   So I ate some saltines and drank some juice hoping to keep it down.  All was going well, until a little after 9 pm when I ran for the bathroom.  I hadn’t thrown up in years.  Welcome to chemo.
 I called the Dr and left a message with the answering service.  The Dr quickly called me back and asked if I had a fever.  I did not, which was a good thing.  She called in a prescription for me for a drug called Ativan.  Ativan would become my new best friend.  I popped Ativan like they were tic tacs.  The nausea would get worse and eventually I would be put on two other meds for nausea.  Ahhhh, Chemo!
It was a long sixteen weeks to say the least.  My first four rounds looking back now were a breeze compared to my last four.  My first four were not painful except for the Neulasta shot which I got on Thursday after Chemo.  This shot was very painful.  Not the shot itself but the affects of the shot.  See it’s a shot that stimulates your bone marrow to produce more white blood cells.  The affects would hit me like clock work on Saturday afternoon around 1 pm.  It was so painful that I could not sleep in my own bed.  I had to sleep on the couch positioned a certain way as to not have my neck and shoulders and back be touched.  Those were the areas that hurt the most.  The pain would last four days.
My last four  treatments were painful not only because of the Neulasta shot but also due to the chemo itself.  It was double whammy and yes I finally asked for some drugs.  I needed those narcotics to get by those eight  weeks. 
I am happy to say I survived those sixteen weeks and I’m happy to have them behind me...

Happy 5 year Cancerversary!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Finally! The truth is coming out about that Pink Ribbon



Saturday, February 4, 2012

current mood: Elated!


Please watch the above video.

I am so Freakin' happy! Finally people are catching on and seeing what's really behind that pink ribbon.

I know I've blogged about this before and always said there is NOTHING pretty about Breast Cancer so why do we dress it up with a pink ribbon?

As a Breast Cancer Survivor, I hate October and the pink haze that hangs over the month. Everything pink!

Pink products kill me and I remember telling my friends and family a long time ago, please do not buy me something pink. For example why would I want a pink toaster. So that every morning as I toast my morning bagel, I can be reminded of my Breast Cancer. Really? Like taking a shower every morning and seeing my mastectomy scars isn't enough.

There is nothing pretty about Breast Cancer and hiding the ugly truth behind that ribbon is just wrong.

Someone please tell me what was so pretty about my battle? The chemo and throwing up and the pain and the bald head and the weight gain. Oh, that's so pretty. The mastectomy scars and having a part of me amputated. Oh, that's so pretty too. The psychological scars and feeling like I'm not whole anymore or how is someone ever going to be attracted to me and want me. Oh, that's pretty as well.

Give me a Freakin' Break!

The truth is that Breast Cancer is UGLY and YES women are STILL DIEING from it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Finding Love after Breast Cancer







Tuesday, January, 24, 2012

Current Mood: Lovestruck


So, I'm throwing this question out there to all my cancer survivor friends? After all the cancercrapness that we've gone through do you now look at love and relationships differently.


I guess I'm asking this because it seemed so hard in the beginning. I know I had to be happy with myself first and had to learn and accept my scars and new body. And I knew I couldn't share this anyone until I was OK with it myself.

Going out on those first few dates was scary! But I also knew what I wanted and what I didn't want. And I knew for sure, that I was not settling! Life is way too short to not be happy and to just settle.

I remember hearing in a cancer seminar for singles, that the success rate in marriage in survivors in much higher than ones that have not experienced this. I think that kinda makes sense. I think we at look at things differently. I know I do.


My biggest fear after my diagnosis was, is a guy ever going to want to be with me again. I felt like damaged goods. Who would want to date the girl with two fake boobs and a ton of scars?


I can hear my friends telling/yelling at me now. Jill, if he is the right one, he will accept you for you and love you for you not your body and scars. I guess at the time I thought that was true.


I am happy to say that there are some sweet guys still out there that have said those very same words to me. Words, that I think every Breast Cancer Survivor needs and loves to hear.


I am happy to say that I have found one of those sweet guys.


Thank you Joe for accepting me for who I am and for helping me to see a future again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another Sister loses her battle

















Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Current mood: sad, yet inspired


I just came across this article on my yahoo news and had to do some more research. Kudos to Eva Ekvall for sharing and showing the world the ugly truth about breast cancer. For sharing her images. I know I've blogged about this before and how much I hate society for thinking breast cancer is just a simple pink ribbon we put on everything. No one ever talks about the real truth, the ugly ugly truth!

It's not about walking around in a pink haze in October. It's about getting the word out there and in my case and my cause getting the word out there to the young women. Don't think breast cancer doesn't affect women in their 20's and 30's cause it does and unfortunately the younger you are the more aggressive the cancer.

We need to show the "ugly" images of breast cancer. It's not all pretty pink ribbons, it's bald heads and weight gain from chemo and scars from mastectomies and chemo ports. And in my case another lovely scar on my arm from my surgery complication.

My thoughts and prayers are with Eva's family. What a courgeous woman and I look forward to reading your book.

Former Miss Venezuela dies of breast cancer at 28
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP)

Former Miss Venezuela Eva Ekvall, whose struggle with breast cancer was closely followed by Venezuelans, has died at age 28.

Her family said Ekvall died Saturday at a hospital in Houston.

Ekvall was crowned Miss Venezuela at age 17 in 2000, and the following year she was third runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant in Puerto Rico. She went on to work as a model, actress and television news anchor.

She also authored a book, "Fuera de Foco" ("Out of Focus"), about her struggle with cancer, which included images by Venezuelan photographer Roberto Mata.

She told the newspaper El Nacional in an interview last year after the book was published that "I needed to send the message of the need for cancer prevention."

On the cover was a portrait in which she appeared with makeup and her head shaved. The book also included images of her while going through chemotherapy.

"I hate to see photos in which I come out ugly," Ekvall told El Nacional. "But you know what? Nobody ever said cancer is pretty or that I should look like Miss Venezuela when I have cancer."

At the time, she was hopeful of overcoming cancer and wanted to write more.

Ekvall's family said in a statement Sunday that her remains were being cremated in Houston on Monday and that a service is to be held in Venezuela once her remains are returned to the country.

Ekvall said in a 2007 interview published in Venezuelan news media that although her mother is Jamaican and her father is American of Swedish and Hungarian descent, "I feel more Venezuelan than anybody."

She was married to radio producer John Fabio Bermudez and had a 2-year-old daughter.

In her book, Ekvall had described her joy at the birth of her daughter saying "that happiness, although (the daughter) may not know it or understand it, keeps me alive today."

The book included emails that she wrote to friends providing updates on her treatment and thanking them for their support, as well as short essays by relatives and friends reflecting on her ordeal.

Her father, Eric Ekvall, recalled in the book that his mother, also named Eva, had died of the same type of cancer at age 39.

"Those who know Eva know she doesn't give up," he said of his daughter. "She fights for what she wants."

Her death brought an outpouring of condolences from Venezuelans, including from some prominent artists and politicians who praised her in messages on Twitter.

One drawing posted online depicted her as an angel with white wings and a pink ribbon on her chest.

Ekvall's husband posted a photo on Twitter Sunday showing a close-up of his hand holding hers, resting on a bed, with the words "Always together ... I love you wife."


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I will come back a better woman!



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Current mood: Thankful


I just read this article on Guiliana Rancic and had to share it.

As a B/C survivor and one who had to make that same life changing decision, my hat is off to her for sharing her personal journey.

And yes Giuliana, you will come out a better woman! I know I have come out stronger than ever.

Your breasts don't define who you are!

Giuliana Rancic Getting Double Mastectomy:
"I Will Come Back a Better Woman"
Mon., Dec. 5, 2011 5:05 AM PST by Marcus Errico

Giuliana Rancic, who announced she was battling breast cancer in October, has decided to undergo a double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction. But in typical Giuliana style, she is turning her personal struggle into a positive message.

In exclusive comments to E! News and on Today this morning, Giuliana says she has three big reasons for going public.

"First, I would like to take the stigma away. 'Mastectomy' the word seemed so scary to me at first. After doing research and seeing the advancements, the surgery has come a long way from 20 years ago. The results can be incredible.

"Not only can it save your life, but you can come out feeling healthier and with a positive self-image.

"Second, I want to encourage everyone to be proactive with their health and get checked out."

And there's another, more personal reason.

"When I went public with my breast cancer diagnosis six weeks ago, the overwhelming outpouring of love, prayers and support really helped me heal faster. I want to make sure to thank everyone and give them an update for being so kind and loving and supportive."

Giuliana says that she opted for the procedure after careful deliberation and in consultation with a handpicked team of experts, "including top doctors, radiologists, women who've had mastectomies and women who've opted for alternative treatments, like lumpectomies, radiation and anti-estrogen therapy.

"It was not an easy decision but it was the best decision for me." she says.

Appearing by her side on Today was husband Bill Rancic, who has been steadfast in his support.

"Bill's been incredible," says Giuliana. "One of my first thoughts I had when I started considering the mastectomy was, 'What am I going to look like?' And then, 'What will my husband think?'

"But Bill told me, 'I don't care about the physical results. I just want you around for another 50 years. I need you healthy. I need you as my wife. I need you as a mother to our kids.'"

The surgery is set to take place next week. But Giuliana is anticipating a quick convalescence.

"I hope for a full recovery by New Year's Eve. We're planning to be in Times Square!" she says.

"2012 is our year," adds Bill. "We're going to ring in the New Year happy and healthy."

First they have to get through the next few weeks.

"Am I scared? Yes. Scared of the unknown. Scared of the pain," Giuliana confesses. "But I'm not scared of what I'll be like. I'll have scars, but I like scars. Scars are beautiful because they tell a story.

"I'll be able to say that I survived something major and it's made me stronger. I will be a better woman for it."