Friday, October 25, 2013

heavy weight

I wrote this blog post a few months ago, and quickly took it down. I wasn't ready to share this at that point. However over time, I've become more and more certain of my decision, and having met women who are willing to share things like this, become less afraid of what may come....
The main reason I took it down was twofold. On one side I didn't want to hear judgmental comments (and TRUST me, you look into the subject, and you will hear plenty of people voicing their ignorant thoughts). And second, and I say this kindly, but I don't want to be flooded with advice. Advice like, raise your ph levels, lower your ph levels, don't eat corn, don't live in a house that's been treated with fire-retardant wood (seriously) do this, don't do that....while I do believe most advice comes from a good heart the truth is it can be obnoxious and ill-timed. Also, with something like this on the line, I really don't plan on taking advice that someone found in an interesting article over what my doctor is telling me. Maybe that's ignorant in their opinion, but it's my life.

So, kind of a weighty subject today..and kind of a controversial one to some people. I've decided to have genetic testing done to see if I carry the brca mutation (basically, the breast cancer gene). Cancer in my family strikes young, and hard...I've lost two aunts in the past six years (who both got breast cancer in their early 40's), had an uncle get diagnosed with breast cancer, and recently learned that I had a 2nd cousin who passed away at 40 from ovarian cancer. I went and spoke with a counselor two or three years back, but at that point, I wasn't ready to contemplate it on any serious level. I figured I'd just take extra precautions by watching myself more carefully, and assume that my chances of cancer were very high. Anyways, I think that now that I am done having babies, and the rest of my life is ahead of me, the future and it's risks seem so much more real to me.

I didn't think making this decision would feel like anything, but man, it does. It feels scary! All of a sudden my future won't be nearly as hypothetical. I'll either be able to able to breathe a sigh of relief that me and my children are safe (obviously, I'll still have all the "normal" risks a person faces), or I'll have to make some life changing choices.Basically, the reason for this is that if I have the gene, I have a lifetime chance of 85% of getting breast cancer, and 20% for ovarian. Not great numbers. My only "real" choice will be preventative double mastectomy and oophorectomy (removal of ovaries). At this point (ask me again if I get bad news, haha) I've decided that worse case scenario, that is exactly what I will have done. I would rather not have to live (or quite frankly, die) with "what if..." later on. Also, we have military insurance, and as much as people like to complain about it, if I'm deemed a high enough risk, they'll pay for everything. Surgery, reconstruction, and medical leave for Joel. I guess I don't really have to explain why that's so big, but to just have that opportunity is far, far more than most people have. It's an incredible blessing, and one that we might not always have. Finally, I have the support of my husband. I know he doesn't really know what the full scope of surgery/recovery will be like (I know I don't know either), but I know not every man would support something that drastic. That will put my chances down to something very low (like 1-2%). The only other option is taking Tamoxifen for five years, and that still leaves me at 65%.

Clearly I'm getting ahead of myself, I haven't had the test done and it will probably be several months until I get them. I have a 50/50 chance of good or bad news, but I think planning & researching has helped calm me, even if it makes it slightly more frightening since it makes the whole situation more "real." Since making the choice, I've spoken with a geneticist, and I'm supposed to have twice yearly clinical breast exams, and an MRI and mammogram done once a year.  So far, I've had the mammogram, which wasn't bad. Maybe a little awkward, but if you've gone through childbirth, you've been in much more "awkward" situations, haha! The worst part for me was that I forgot to shave and your not supposed to wear deodorant, so I felt kinda icky.

This past week has really reminded me that I am making the right choice. Two days ago was the second anniversary of the passing of my aunt from breast cancer. Three days ago, my cousin (this aunts daughter) found out she has the mutation. Please keep my family in your prayers. There has been a lot of suffering the last few years. I was so hoping that the cancer would stop in my generation, but so far three of my four cousins who have been tested have the gene, so the cycle continues.

I'm going to leave you all with a link. Never before have I ever seen something that describes cancer so clearly through in particular reminds me so much of my aunt. It is extremely moving, so if your sensitive just be aware, because it definitely made me cry...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gifts That Give

I'm on my annual hunt for Christmas gifts! Lately, I've been trying to find gifts that are not only beautiful and thoughtful, but ones that support a good cause. I'm a Walmart/Target/bargain shopper, but it feels a million times better knowing that the money we're spending is actually helping an individual rather than a corporation. So. Today's Gifts That Give is from:

International Sanctuary

To get the info yourself, you can click >>here but basically everything is done by a survivor from human trafficking...from the product being handmade (they're paid 100% above fair wage) down to the person putting the item in a box and shipping it to you. Not only do they help women and children in India, but also people who were rescued in America as well. So, so awesome!!

Here are a few of my favorites!
Key Grey Necklace ($20)


Vintage Rose Blue Necklace ($35)

Sunset Pearl Necklace ($25)

Infinity Silver Bracelet ($20)

Aztec Brass Earrings ($20)

Metallic Mix Coasters ($12) and these Ring of Fire Coasters ($12)

Pretty, huh!? Be sure to check out International Sanctuary and tell me which piece is your favorite!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

respect, babies

Oh man, I have a new found respect for babies & kids in general. Ear infections are no joke. No wonder the poor things are so miserable. I'm miserable. I've even spent a good deal of yesterday and today crying, so no wonder they do so much of that. I almost started crying at the doctors office today cause she spent so long talking about my symptoms when all I wanted was a prescription... Along with the ear infection, I've got a massive migraine. I've had small migraines before, but nothing like this. C-section aside, this is easily the most pain I've ever been in. For the first time, I understand how people o.d. on pain pills. I've got enough sense and understanding of biology not to do that, but I was tempted to take a handful of tylenol. I even called Joel and asked him to come home early from work today, which is the first time I've ever done that. I'm also pretty disappointed cause all the migraine pills I came home with really just take the edge off, and only for a little while. :/

Anyways. Whiny, whiny. Besides whine about my life on my blog, a few highlights from today:

I've turned to my ultimate comfort food-a baked potato with a little too much butter and salt, and way too much pepper.
And bought two new owl hats for Allie since I couldn't decide on just one...

(how could I resist!? I got Owen the bottom right one and it's so cute)
Stopped at Walmart on the way home from the doctor so the kids could pick out a lunchable as a reward for being so good (Owen and Allie were truly amazing-their best behavior ever. A  gift from God right there). I joined in on the fun. :P

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

finding peace

Over a month since my last post! I guess nothing new has really happened-just the busyness of life. Actually, that's not entirely true. The last three months have kind of been rough ones, and on one side it felt like a sham to come post here about how great life is going-look at us! we're such a happy apple-picking family!- but on the other, it's hard to open up about our struggles-especially the kinds that aren't major-the kinds we hide from everyone besides our family. I've recently discovered that Christians far too often put on a perfect front, and I've been trying to be more honest. I feel like God has been working on my heart a lot this past month.

I told you all a while ago that I had been feeling pretty awful physically wise (mostly in July). I don't know about you, but grumpy me is not the kindest me (ask anyone who's known me while pregnant, haha!). I felt a lot of impatience, frustration, and even anger about...I don't know, it felt like about everything! The thing is, sin is sin, and I haven't ever seen an exception clause in the Bible that excuses you when you have a headache. The other thing about sin is that the more you practice it, the more it becomes a part of who you are. So even once I started to feel better,  I was still acting out in impatience far far too much. It seemed like any little thing would put me in a bad mood..I was yelling at everybody, and the kids were hearing "hurry up" about twenty times a day. I don't know why it is that sometimes we treat the people we love the most, the worst. :/ 

And then all the following happened in the space of a week or two...I've been in two different Bible studies, and one week the chapter asked what "home" meant to us. My definition was peace and security. I felt pretty convicted that my home was currently not a place of peace! In fact, lately my definition of life was chaos. At the other study, they were talking about patience, and how impatience stems from thinking that what we're doing (or want to be doing) is more important than anything else. We were sitting at dinner one night, and Joel mentioned some things that to me pointed exactly to the fact that he was feeling the un-peace of life. There were other things sprinkled throughout, but when Sam came home with the Bible verse to memorize: God is not a God of disorder but of peace. I actually laughed when I saw that! It's like, okay God! I hear you!!

The other side of the chaos is that lately I've had a lot of side projects going on. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but in my case I was choosing these projects over things like laundry and housework. You can guess what the results of that were! Not only does having a messy house feel chaotic, but it also makes me grumpy, so it was a compounding situation. Last of all, I've had a prayer on my heart for the past five years. Sort of a "if it's Your will God, I'm ready" kind of thing. I've always felt that my answer was "not now" but I felt very strongly that when I prayed about it a little while back I was getting a no. And not a "no" because God has other plans, but a no because our family couldn't handle it because of choices I was making. That hurt!

God is good though. He has helped me sort out my priorities and get me back on a track that I should be on. The first day of working on myself, I decided to write down every single thing that made me feel frustrated, how I felt, how I acted, and what the reality of the situation was. Doing that has made reacting in impatience and frustration a much more conscience act rather than just a reaction. It also helped me find triggers-like being rushed in the mornings.  Now everyone gets up earlier than before, so there is plenty of time. Extra projects have taken a sideline, which has given me more time to get things done. There have been other things going on as well, but these have been the big ones. So! That is where September went!
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