Category Archives: breast cancer

Chest exercises after reconstruction

I’ve never been good at push-ups, but I could at least crank out 10 or so on my knees prior to my surgery. Most mornings I would wake up and do push-ups, crunches and other accidents.

After having a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, it is very difficult to do push-ups and other chest exercises. I would assume it’s because my implants are behind my chest muscles. I am continuing to push through the exercises and hopefully, it will get easier.

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Help our Relay for Life team!

This is my 5th year participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Two years ago I was the top fundraiser for our Relay and last year I was second, but I raised over $2500, which was a personal best for me.

I’m well on my way now, but sitting just over $400, so I need your help.

Right now, I have two options to enlist your help.

Option #1 – Go straight to my page and make a donation http://main.acsevents.org/goto/beamerjktx

Option #2 – Purchase some cute jewelry from Origami Owl and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to our team.  http://www.stephaniekusy.origamiowl.com/parties/JenniferKress198228/how-to-build.ashx
The online party is only open until Friday, February 28th at 11:59 pm, so get your order in today.

Thank you in advance.

Together we can Finish the Fight against Cancer!kress09_2825 (2)

Thankful

I know everyone on Facebook has been posting what they are thankful for everyday.  I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, but I figure I’ll post a few things I’m thankful for today. 

I’m thankful for my loving husband who has stood by my side during the past two years dealing with cancer and doctors and surgeries and my whining.  I’m sure I haven’t been easy to put up with especially since starting menopause this past summer.  As far as I know he has never complained, which I’m very grateful for. 

I’m thankful for my beautiful daughter who is wise beyond her years.  We have tried to keep her in the loop with surgeries and treatment because I felt so left out when my mom was diagnosed.  I think my family was trying to protect me, but in the end I feel that it hurt more because I didn’t know what was going on or how serious it was until she died.  I never wanted H to feel left out or unsure of what was going on. 

I’m thankful that I have a job that was very understanding.  They worked with me through everything and have been very supportive.  I would not have made it through all of this without them.

I’m thankful that I have the ability to vote and make my voice heard.  This year I became more active with the American Cancer Society and the Cancer Action Network to make sure our lawmakers know that we need more funding for cancer research.  Hopefully, in 7 years when H turns 18 and has to be tested for the BRCA gene, there will be more options.

I’m thankful for family and friends who prayed for me.

This past two years have been trying, but I’m thankful that they are now behind me. 1 biopsy, 1 cancer diagnosis, 4 surgeries and countless doctor visits.

NaBloPoMo is here

I’ve been debating whether or not to participate this year.  I have plenty of things to blog about, so finding a topic isn’t the problem.  It’s finding the time to actually sit down and do the writing. 

Here are some of the topics that I want to discuss, so I have them in one place and can come back when I think I don’t have anything to write about:

  • hysterectomy and oophorectomy
  • DisneyWorld
  • football dinners
  • football season
  • Rachel’s Challenge
  • my cancer journey

I will probably use Saturday and Sunday to just post a couple of pictures from the week or any that I like. 

We’ll see if I can get farther than last year.  🙂

Stuff I need to do

Maybe if I put them down, I will actually do them.

I have several blog topics in my head that I need to get written:

  • total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy surgery in June
  • Coaches Outreach weekend in June
  • Disney World Vacation in July
  • football season – upcoming

I need to start meal planning for our Monday night football dinners.  The boys have already requested spaghetti for the first week, so I need ideas and recipes for the other 9 weeks to feed 10-20 hungry football players. 🙂

I need to get into the garage and get rid of crap.  I need to set a date for a garage sale and follow through.  We have stuff that has been in boxes since our house was broken into in 2003.  I’m pretty sure I don’t need it anymore if I haven’t needed it since then.  We also have stuff in newer boxes from our move in 2010.  Haley has a ton of toys and clothes that just need to get out of my garage. 

I’m sure there is more stuff that I need to do, but at least this is a start.  Maybe I’ll get to work on those blog topics when I’m not busy at work.

April 16, 1992

That is the day that my life changed.  I never expected to be woken up that morning by my dad to tell me that my mom had died. 

I had just seen her the night before and I knew she wasn’t feeling well.  She had been having headaches and was told that the cancer had spread to her brain, but she was going to start radiation therapy.  She was going to be fine.  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to lose her when I was 12 years old. 

Every year I mark how many years it’s been on my calendar.  I usually change my facebook profile to the last picture that was taken of our family. 

This year is the 20th year without her and I didn’t even think about the date until today, April 17th.  How did I let the day go by and not even remember?  It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  I always remember.  Every year.  Yesterday wasn’t even a busy day.  We actually went straight home after work and school.  Unlike the rest of the days this week. 

I just don’t know how I forgot.

Uncertainty

I’m going to try to get back into blogging and I figured I would use some of the prompts from the NaBloPoMo March 2012 challenge.  I’m not necessarily going to blog everyday, but we’ll see what happens.

March 1st:  How do you feel about uncertainty? Is it exciting or scary?

I do not like uncertainty.  The not knowing what is going to happen is always a scary thing. I like to be in control and that includes knowing the path my life is going down.

I guess the whole cancer thing tried to cleanse me of that notion because I definitely never saw that one coming.  Oh, I knew that it was a possibility in the future, but never in my wildest dreams thought that at 31 I would be dealing with it or at 32 I would be facing a hysterectomy and oophorectomy to get rid of my ovarian cancer risk.  It bothers me that I don’t know what my life will be like after the surgery.  What menopause symptoms will I have?  Will the surgery cause other issues inside my body?

There’s also uncertainty when your husband is a coach.  Athletic Directors and Head Coaches change jobs every few years and with that change comes the uncertainty of whether or not you are asked to move with them. If you choose to stay is the new A/D going to let you stay in your current coaching positions and teaching assignments.  It’s always up in the air.

I like for my life to be neat and orderly and to know what’s going to happen tomorrow.  I know life doesn’t happen that way, but I just have to learn how to roll with the punches and be ready for the uncertainty and learn how to deal with it.

2011 in Review

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Had surgery (3 actually).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t think I made any resolutions last year.  If I did it was to lose weight and I think I stayed pretty constant throughout the year.  I have set a goal to lose weight this year.  We are doing the Biggest Loser at work again for 5 months and hopefully, I lose at least a pound a week and I will be happy with that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My boss and his wife had a baby.  They have been trying for several years and were working on adopting when she got pregnant.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

None

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Patience

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 10 – Lumpectomy
June 7 – Bilateral Mastectomy with tissue expanders
November 1 – Exchange surgery to remove tissue expanders and replace with saline implants
December 29 – Plastic surgeon told me that I didn’t need to see him anymore unless I had any problems.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Surviving the year.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not keeping better control of our finances.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Unfortunately, yes. Breast cancer and testing positive for the BRCA2 gene which resulted in the other surgeries.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Jason for sticking beside me through all of it.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

There are some people who will remain nameless that caused me to check my head at their behavior.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Doctor’s appointments and surgeries.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I can’t say that there was too much to be excited about this year.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Martina McBride’s – I’m Gonna Love You Through It

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier. this time last year I was scheduling my lumpectomy to remove my cancer.
b) thinner or fatter? about the same
c) richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stayed out of doctor’s offices

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

We stayed home.  Christmas Eve we went to church and then to my Dad’s for our annual Christmas Eve get-together.  Christmas morning H woke us up at 4 am and then again at 6 am to open presents.  We went back to bed until it was time to get ready for church and then we went to Jason’s dad’s house for lunch after church.  Then we went home and played with the Xbox Kinect. 

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

More in love with my husband for standing by my side.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

I loved the Voice and that introduced me to Adam Levine and Moves Like Jagger.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No

25. What was the best book you read?

I read many books this past year.  I read all of John Locke’s Donovan Creed series. I read Water for Elephants and then was pleasantly surprised that the movie didn’t deviate from the book. I can’t remember when I read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, but I’m pretty sure that was this year, too.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Adele.  Now I know what I was missing.

27. What did you want and get?

Not having to do chemo and/or radiation.

28. What did you want and not get?

a fun vacation

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

I can’t say that I had a favorite.  I enjoyed the Smurfs with Haley and I watched Midnight in Paris last week. Nothing else jumps out at me as my favorite.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 31 and I was sick with the flu.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not having to deal with this whole cancer crap.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Very casual – jeans and t-shirts with my flip flops.

33. What kept you sane?

Jason and my friends.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

None

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

I tried to avoid political issues this year.

36. Who did you miss?

My mom – I think this year would have been a lot easier with her here.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

The wonderful nurses at my surgeons’ offices.  I need to remember to pick up a gift card for one of them.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

This verse stuck with me all year – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 
Even though these definitely wouldn’t have been my plans for the year, but by going through it now, I do have a future.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

When you’re weak, I’ll be strong
When you let go, I’ll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear that I’ll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can’t take one more breath
Just take my hand, together we can do this
I’m gonna love you through it.

No more drains

I had my follow up with my plastic surgeon this morning and thankfully, he removed both of my drains.  He is very happy with the way everything looks.

I can drive now, but I still can’t return to work.  I can’t exercise. I can’t lift anything more than 10 pounds.  I can’t lift my arms over my head.  But I can take a shower without having to worry about those stinkin’ drains getting in the way!

I see him again on Monday to have my stitches removed and then I can go back to work.

I have to wear a supportive bra 24/7.  Right now I’m wearing a post-surgical bra that they gave me at the hospital.  After my shower tonight, I will try on some of my other bras to find the most comfortable ones and to figure out if I really am the same size. 🙂

Now I will enjoy the rest of my week at home.

P.S. I did work for about an hour today from home and it was more comfortable than being at the office.

A strange place to be

Yesterday was a long day.  I was determined to go to the football game last night and I regretted it afterwards.  I did sit in the pressbox with the coaches to avoid the chilly weather, but I wasn’t comfortable.  I’m used to yelling and jumping up and down at games and I was confined to my chair.  I couldn’t risk pulling my drains or stitches out, so I was stuck there.

Haley was on the sidelines with the football trainers and I think she enjoyed it.  The first half she stayed by the bench, so she wasn’t in the way, but during the second half I saw her following the trainers around and helping with water.  She will be a great student trainer when she gets to high school.

Today, Haley has a soccer game in Harlingen, which is about a 2 hour drive from here.  There’s no way I could have driven her and I don’t even think I could sit in the car for 2 hours to get to the game and then back home again, so my father-in-law graciously agreed to take her down there.  It’s very unusual for me to not be at her game and to not be doing something else.  I missed quite a few games in the spring, but it was all because of work.  I’m trying to relax and take it easy, but truthfully, I would rather be on my way to the game.