The words I can never find….

I find it hard to explain what it feels like from my point of view. What the world looks like now? How my heart is softer, my spirit changed, my mind ever so quick to wander and the gentleness that is life today. The most common question I am asked is, How are you doing?

In order to answer I must ask you, Do you want the truth, the half truth or do you want to hear what is easy to comprehend?

I could tell you I am well. Which is partial truth. My body is doing remarkably well. I am currently training for a half marathon, working out just as I was before my surgery with minor modifications to accommodate my chest. My summer has been filled up, as it typically is. I rest a lot during the week, leaving the weekends for adventuring. Most evenings I find myself at home cooking dinner, watching TV or reading a book. This is the me time all alone. I treasure this so very much. Just one week ago I was in Cabo San Lucas for the week with three of my best friends. We got a lot of sun, a lot of dancing in and a lot of poolside drinks.

As for the rest of the truth. I pour myself into work every day. Show up. Work hard and try my best to leave everything else at the door step. My spirit, forgets all that the past year has been. It often forgets how much has happened. I have learned that I fail miserably at granting grace onto myself. I am hard on myself … especially hard. Turns out that despite still recovering from cancer treatment and diagnosis I have set the bar even higher. I have learned that I expect myself to bounce back and then some. Not to mention I had full intentions to live life well but with great joy, yet I find this so hard to do.

What you do not want to hear is that my cancer story is a living part of my every day. Whether it be an explanation for my short hair cut, my still broken finger nails, and sudden tears. I am still in chemically induced menopause and long for the day that I have a normal menstrual cycle again. Monday I made the decision to no longer take Tamoxifen, for a variety of reasons but feel it is the best decision for me at this time. (will share more sometime).

But more than those things, the real truth is that my story written long ago, God always knew I would have cancer. He knew I would be broken. He knew I would have trouble recognizing the person on the other side of mirror. He knew that my years of body shaming and self image hatred would rear up again as I recovered from cancer. He knew I would start telling myself that I no longer wanted children to hopefully lessen the blow should I never be able to have them. He knew that I would inspire others, yet be brought to tears because I don’t actually believe that I am touching others hearts or that my story means something. He knew I would be lost in the post cancer world. He knew I would miss the comfort and the routine that was treatments, appointments and a schedule. He knew that in this very moment I would doubt whether “remission” was actually a thing or rather a fancy word that doctors use to say until your cancer returns. He knew this. I know because he has met me in each of these places in the last few months.

I appreciate your prayers, kind words, cards, and thoughts. I will try and write more. In just one month I will celebrate my “cancerversary day” or whatever you want to call it. The day I was diagnosed. I also have a few announcements, some things I will be participating in that I would love for you to join if you can!

Hope this finds you well today.

Love Kristina

See below a couple of pictures from Mexico.

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One year ago today, I received a phone call that would change the course of my life forever. I learned on this day one year ago that I carried the hereditary mutation BRCA-2. The breast cancer gene. (Information here).

As a result of my positive result my OBGYN advised that once a year I would have an MRI. The MRI was to be done each year to properly screen my breasts. Given my age at the time and the density of breasts in younger women a mammogram would not be the most comprehensive, so an MRI was ordered. What I never expected was that my very first MRI would uncover that I had breast cancer.

While this day last year was heart breaking to say the least. My mom and I felt confident that there must have been some reason I found out I had the gene. That it was all apart of a grand plan that I could not yet see.

I wrote on my blog this time last year learning about the gene here. I find this writing so interesting given the course of events that unfolded after finding out about the gene.

I wrote the words, “Take heart in the fact that God absolutely and unequivocally knows you better than you know yourself.”

I find those words so true today as I celebrate the news I received. The news that led to an early diagnosis. That led to me finding my breast cancer when it was small. What led to me being cancer free today.

While I am still struggling as I uncover the emotional storm that cancer has left me in, I am grateful still for today.  I am taking each moment as it comes, and spending a lot of time sleeping, by myself and reflecting. But, I am hanging in alright. This morning I rode my bike to the gym at 6am then had my favorite smoothie before riding to work. It is warm and sunny today. My heart is still mending, but I remain hopeful. I am grateful for people, colleagues I love, a counselor who I have been working with for two years, my family and trust in a God who knows me so much better than I know myself.

May this Friday find you well. Thanks for not giving up on me.

Love Kristina

Are you new here? Confused on my story? Where it begins, where it ends? Here is a little guide to help you find your way. I have highlighted a few of the posts that chronicle my journey. Hopefully a little easier to navigate:

Diagnosis – The Day

Mastectomy – Part 1 Surgery

Find out that I would need Chemotherapy – Find thanks in the news you did not want to hear

Chemotherapy Round 1 – He is Building a Palace

Post Chemo Round 1 Reflections – Chemo Silence

Hair Falling Out – He is really good

Chemotherapy Round 2 and Again Written Here– Missing the normal

Chemotherapy Round 3 – Bean Head

Chemotherapy Round 4 – Last Round

My thoughts on implants – What size will you be?

Expander to Implant Exchange Surgery – Let the healing begin

Still in Menopause – Pregnancy after Chemotherapy

Recovering and Healing – I am well

 

Some personal favorites:

Inviting People In

Sometimes you really do just have to show up (Surprising Stephanie in Guatemala for her wedding).

To the Little One on her Bike 

Pressing Play

My Bike and Trailer

Showing up without permission 

Kara + Amy – Honoring two breast cancer friends and hero’s of mine. What they taught me about Jesus and fear.

It should be me – Special Mothers Day Post

Dad – Special Fathers Day Post

 

You may of course contact me via email if you want, if you have specific questions and or need anything at all. Thanks for reading and visiting.

 

Today my parents celebrate 35 years of Marriage.

As their daughter it has been both and honor and a joy to watch them do life together, do life so well and walk together despite even the most trying of times. The picture below we took the afternoon after meeting with my oncologist for the first time. I had just been diagnosed twenty four hours before this picture. I have never been more proud to be their daughter than I have been this past year.

My parents are not ordinary, they are not like everyone else, they are Bob and Glo, Scherm and Grover, Poops and Grammie, and the best titles of all my Mom and Dad. Ever since I can remember my parents have had this way of dancing through life with one another, each playing a special part in the dance, knowing when to lead, when to interject, when to change things up, when to slow things down, but always dancing together. They do that so very well. My dad was the masculine, leader, father, husband in our house and my mom, the kind, compassionate, caring, giver. While they are two unique individuals, they chose 35 years ago that one was better with the other at their side. They also learned that doing life with someone else while often more difficult in the end brings about a multitude of blessings and memories. Together they moved to four states in just the first few years of marriage, had two children, have since built four homes, traveled the world (literally) and yet still would rather be at home with us (Josh, Brittany, Brady and I) more than anyplace else. In the past year not only did my parents endure the heartache of my cancer diagnosis, we grieved the passing of my grandmother and then they celebrated their first grandchild. While the year with all of its excitement would be reason to fear, cry and simply give up, it has been as I am sure they would say also one of the most precious years to date.

As a child, I always remember hearing my dad whistle as we came up for breath during a swim race. For every stroke he made sure we knew to keep pushing and keep going. My mom was there when we got out of the pool, towel ready, and if she was not, we knew she was in the back keeping score so we would run back to tell her how we did. (always behind the scenes, giving of her time). From school events, to dance competitions, Brittany and I never needed for much of anything. We were loved and cared for. We never doubted that and we still never do.

As I have gotten older I continue to be amazed at the two people they are. But more than that I am so proud to have them as my parents. Proud that they continue to chose one another, chose adventure, choose love and most of all chose life over and over again. I love you both and thank you for this past year. For being at my bedside, for crying when the doctors said my cancer was gone, for celebrating in Houston with me, for making certain I knew you were only just a short plane flight away. You do parenting so well and from your brown eyed, spiky haired, cancer survivor, stubborn, colorado adventurer youngest daughter I am so so grateful.

Love Bean Head.

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Taken right after my first Oncologist doctors appointment.

Bachelorette Party 238

An oldie but a goodie.

Last week. Last Thursday I met with the hospital social worker to discuss what happens now that the cancer is gone. What does living beyond cancer look like?

I will be honest I did not want to meet with her. I didn’t want to cry and I knew I would.

But it turns out meeting with her was exactly what I needed to do….

In my hour and half meeting I shared my fears, my frustrations, my heartbreak and not only did she listen, she let me know that everything I felt was normal. The biggest one, “I wish the cancer would just come back already, so I don’t have to live in fear of that day coming”

Those words I am certain are very hard to read but if I am completely honesty this is how I feel. I know this is my mind preparing for the worst, a defense mechanism. But in a strange way I feel that it is only a matter of time before my cancer will return for a second time. And rather live in fear of that day, I wish the day would just come. Maybe it is that so many around me are not doing well in their cancer journeys, or that I have heard of quite a few women like myself (BRCA 2 positive) that have had their cancer return someplace else. Or maybe its that life doing cancer became comfortable, and I rested in others strength and now I feel so very alone. Again honesty if you wanted to know.

I am nervous for tomorrow. For many reasons but one big reason is a small place on my right side. On one hand I think it is just my implant/scar tissue however on the other I am afraid it is something more. This is my current reality, living always in fear that the cancer will have showed up someplace else. Today, a day like many others I have waves of emotions that nearly knock me off my feat, leaving me paralyzed in fear, overwhelmed with it all. Tomorrow I must meet with my plastic surgeon to talk yet again about the thing I do not want to talk about… my scars and nipple reconstruction. If you are wondering, I have not decided what to do. I have learned that this is because I have not yet accepted the new breasts I have been given.  I feel like so many people feel that by putting a fake nipple on my “fake breast” it will make it seem real, and perhaps even bring feeling back. But I know this not to be true.

So alas I don’t want to talk about it. Yes they might be perfectly round and not move at all when I exercise, and sure, I do not have to wear a bra, but not having feeling leaves me feeling like I am walking around with a foreign body part on my chest.

“And they are strangers — spongy, cold mounds that feel neither pain nor pleasure, that refuse to budge an inch even when I’m running, that don’t quite look — or act — like normal breasts. Instead, they act a lot like the silicone sandbags, except I can’t take these off at the end of the day when my chest starts to ache. Welcome to my post-cancer body.” – The Emotional Aftermath of Cancer

So tomorrow is a big day and I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I have read this verse over and over again “Come to me all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

I am tired, discouraged and scared for tomorrow, but remain hopeful. Even still I have so very much to be grateful for.

But on a good note I captured the below picture in Frisco over the holiday weekend. It was beautiful.

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