Monday, October 18, 2010

Wanna Play House?

(What A Wonderful World) Click to is cute with the story.

What would we do without children? Today has not been the best of days, (Sarah goes in for her final reconstruction surgery tomorrow morning and there is normal anxiety and other feelings that remain undefineable) but...but...but....God does provide us with bright spots that make us smile and laugh.

Case in point....

Here you see two pictures of Sarah's 5 year old son, Derek, and his friend, Mary Francis. They are the best of friends and Derek had Mary Francis over to play today after school.

Sarah overheard Derek ask Mary Francis if she wanted to play house. Mary Francis said, "Yes, I will be Mrs. Robinson."

Derek said, "And, I will be Mr. Lofquist."

Mr. Lofquist was Davey's, Sarah's 7 year old son's, kindergarten teacher.

If only they could understand why Sarah left the room so she could laugh and call someone to share the funny story.

I got to be that person today and I thanked God for the bright spot he put in my day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Powerful Message From Sarah

(I Am But A Small Voice) Please click to play.

When you are finished reading this post, please play the song. Or, play it as you go. It doesn't matter. Just play it. Sarah has written a powerful message.

And, THIS is one of the many reasons I love my daughter!!!!!!

What is posted here is Sarah's response to an article she read in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I encouraged her to send this letter to the editor. If even one woman's life can be saved because of reading this, then it will be successful!

From here on what you read will be Sarah's words.


My friend Lynn (also a breast cancer survivor) told me about this article in the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens. This is a copy of the Letter to the Editor that I sent.



Dear Gayle,

In response to your article Testing, testing, in your October 2010 issue, I have some concerns. I realize the article was simply restating what has already been published, and was trying to show both sides of this issue. However, women’s lives are at stake.

Since you published this article, I would have appreciated having different quotes highlighted. For example: “In terms of cost, availability, and accuracy, mammography is among the best tools for detecting breast cancer.” And “…In both cases, the lifesaving benefits of screening outweigh any potential harms.”

And I have a question: You printed that the task force looked at the NUMBERS and concluded that mammograms deliver more minuses than pluses? Did I read that right?

So if 1903 of my 40-year-old friends and I went in for mammograms, and I was the only one that had cancer, the task force concluded that routine mammograms aren’t worth it? Not enough of a reason to screen us all? Saving my life is not reason enough to screen the rest?


Any cancer survivors?

Anyone who’s a co-survivor?

Anyone who has lost someone to cancer?

Probably not.

They looked at the NUMBERS? How about looking at the faces of the women whose lives have been saved because of routine mammograms and self breast exams? Don’t forget to look at the faces of their families, too. Especially their children. Because these are the faces who may have lost their lives, or loved ones, had they followed your guidelines.

Numbers? Really?

I was diagnosed when I was 41. Because of a routine mammogram. I had 2 small tumors in my right breast. They could not be felt. Even when the doctors knew where they were. I was diagnosed at Stage IA.

I did not have any risk factors. What if I had waited until I was 50? And then thought to myself, if I can wait until I’m 50, and I don’t have to go every year, I can wait until I’m 51.

Well now, I probably would have felt something by then. Hah! Except that you also discourage self breast exams. I wonder how advanced my cancer would have become if I had followed your guidelines? When would I have been diagnosed? And how?

I shudder to think about it.

The numbers just didn’t add up?

Let me give you MY numbers. 41. 2. 3. 6. 4. 1.I was 41 when I had that fateful routine mammogram.

They found 2 tumors.

I have 3 boys.

They were 6, 4 and 1 when I was diagnosed.

And those numbers add up to routine mammograms every year after 40 being WORTH IT.

For my children.

For my sister.

For my mother.

For my friends.

And Gayle, for you, too.

Please take this into consideration the next time you publish an article about breast cancer. Women read your magazine. We could use your help in advocating for our health.



Breast cancer survivor

Monday, October 11, 2010

It Makes You Think

(Gershwin's Lullaby) Click to play.

Sarah said something to me yesterday.

She said, "Oh, I keep forgetting to tell you something."

I said, "What?"

She said, "What day was I supposed to be born?" (She was born early on February 23)

I said, "You were supposed to be born on March 12."

She said, "March 12 was the day of my surgery! I was reborn on March 12!"

I smiled and said, "Yes, you were!"

You know, I think that is exactly what it felt like the the night of her surgery. I remember waiting in the family lounge the night of her bilateral mastectomy. I remember seeing Dr. Bretzke come toward us to tell us how surgery had gone, and whether or not they had gotten all the cancer out, and if the nodes were clear.

I remember Dr. Bretzke's words. We got everything. We took two nodes. Both were clear.

She might just as well have handed my newborn daughter to me.

March 12, 1968.

March 12, 2010.

Both days I was handed my beautiful daughter.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Sarah was taken unaware. It was like the feelings came in the dark of night when she wasn't looking. Feelings do that sometimes.

She, all of a sudden, realized she is going to have surgery this month. Real surgery. Put under..all the way

It isn't like she didn't know that was going to happen. "It" has been on the calendar for some time now. She knew "it" was going to happen.

"It" is her final reconstruction surgery. "It" is the final step in this cancer journey we have been on, give or take Tamoxifen and blood draws for the next five years. "It," as she writes about it in her CaringBridge site, will make her as good as she is going to get. And, "it" will not be a return to her old body.

She didn't know she would feel like she does. She didn't know she would miss her old breasts. She didn't know she would miss her real breasts. Eight months ago the removal of them also removed the cancer. She didn't give it a second thought. She said, "Take them off!"

She didn't look back. She would not make any other decision if she could do it again. She did it because she has children. She did it because she wanted to live, whatever it took.

She just didn't see her feelings about "it" coming. She was taken unaware. They came while she was busy living her life.

Thank you God!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A Nice Day For A Drive

Sarah, Davey and Derek wanted me to meet them out at the cemetary in Chaska where my mom and Briana are buried. Davey calls the cemetary the land of blessings.

They called me about 3:15 today.

I was having a quiet day, relaxing in my chair. I wasn't sure I wanted to change the pace of my day, but while Sarah was talking to me on her cell phone, the boys kept saying....

"What's she saying....what's she saying?"

Sarah told them I would be coming. She knew I was going to do it. She said to me, "I knew you would say yes eventually."

I could hear them in the background....


So, off I went.

It was a beautiful day for a drive. I thought it would be nice to see Sarah and the boys. I thought how nice it was to be wanted by these important people in my life.

And, I thought......."I GET to do this. I GET to see my daughter. I GET to see Sarah. Sarah is alive. I GET to do this!

But, the story isn't over yet.

Sarah called me as we were both on our way. She said she couldn't find a way to get there. The roads were flooded and, without going a long way out of her way, it wasn't going to happen easily.
Davey, who is 7, asked her...."Mom, are you lost?"

Sarah said, "No, I am not lost. I know where I am, but I don't know how to get where I am going."

Davey said, "Mom, that is the very definition of lost!"

We both turned around and went back home with smiles on our faces.

It was a nice day for a drive.....and a smile.

Friday, October 01, 2010

18.68 - It Mattered

(Dante's Prayer) Click to play.

We got good news today! Sarah got the results of her blood draw from last Friday. The important result we needed to get was what is called the "cancer or tumor marker."

This marker will be checked every three months for two years. Anything below 37 is acceptable.

Sarah's marker was 18.68!!


Below is what Sarah wrote on her CaringBridge site today.


Friday, October 1, 2010 11:37 AM, CDT

So, I had my blood drawn last Friday so they could check my "cancer marker". Wouldn't get the results til Monday or Tuesday.

My mom asked me about it, but I kept forgetting. I figured they'd mail it.

And if it was high (not what you want), they would just recheck it in a month, so there was no RUSH to get the results.

I kept forgetting.

Finally I called today and left a message for Dr. Zander's nurse to call me with the results.

They .....

Are ......


Well below the "line of demarkation" (my term). Turns out it did matter to me. When I got the results, I wanted to cry from relief. Huh. My mom just laughed and said, "I love you".

Let's do this.


Judy here again.

You know.....just thinking about the expression, "mind over matter...."

I don't care who you are, when there is something that matters and you are in the "waiting zone," there isn't enough "mind" to talk your body out of its feelings...out of what matters. At least, that is true for me.

When I try and do that my body just talks back to me in the form of upset stomach, neck pain, shoulder pain, eating when I am not hungry, interrupted sleep....something like that.

Nobody says........"Whats the mind?"

They say....."What's the matter?"

It's ok to have things matter and it is ok to say what matters to you. If you can say it you can do something about it even if it means all you can do is wait.

At least, you have made the conscious decision to wait and not talked yourself out of knowing that something matters. I am sooooooooooo not good at talking myself out of my feelings.

Better to accept what you can't change and do something about the things you can change.

It really does mean living consciously. I love that! It might sound funny, but I like being in my life. I love having feelings. I love knowing things matter. If nothing mattered, I wouldn't have to feel. What a loss that would be.

Today wouldn't have been a Praise The Lord day if we hadn't felt the depth of the fear.

I think I could write more, but I have no idea what I would write. I am only experiencing something that, for the moment, is wordless.

I think that means it is pretty deep....primal.....feelings before words were a little baby doesn't have words, but they have feelings, as they experience their world.

Sarah's cancer marker was good. It mattered.

My body knows it mattered and my mind is at a loss.

That's ok.