Kicking Off Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Oh fall… How I love you. Crisp air, pumpkin spice everything, football, etc. These are some of my favorite things about October.

This year however, my priorities have changed. The number one thing I am looking forward to this year is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’m beginning what a lot of my fellow breasties have already been participating in, which is Feel it on the First. What this means is the 1st of every month you take 10 minutes out of your day and give yourself a Breast exam. If you notice ANYTHING that you feel is weird or seems off, contact your doctor immediately. Here is a picture on how to give yourself the exam.

If anyone has any questions about the exam message me below.

Also I want to reach out to you all about the upcoming Making Strides of Nashville walk I’ll be participating in on November 3rd. If you are in Nashville or want to make a trip down, please join my team! I’ll list the link below. If you aren’t in town but would like to donate you can do that at the link as well. I’m so excited to be participating in this walk. All proceeds go to American Cancer Society.

Link for joining my team or donating is Tatatocancer team

Ok on another note… I had my Breast implant surgery with lipo/fat transfer from my stomach and love handles to my breast. You guys. I could cry just looking at how much Dr Unger (shoutout) took off of my tummy. I had gained a lot of weight from the chemo and steroids and was honestly pretty miserable. He’s done an amazing job and it’s still in the healing process. Here’s a picture I took last night. I mean there is barely any bruising! He’s amazing you guys! Recovery has went pretty well. A little sore when I try to use my stomach muscles. But nothing unbearable.

I go back to see Dr Unger for my post op tomorrow so I’ll let y’all know what the next steps are.

I will be beginning 5 weeks of radiation in November. Then will be done and closing this chapter! Bring on 2019!!!!

Now for a couple of questions you guys had for me.

What has been the worst part about going through this??

Honestly the worst part is seeing the look of concern on my loved ones faces. Knowing they hurt because they can’t do anything to make this just go away. I love them all so much. And now that I’m nearing the end of this I am seeing those smiles come back on their faces. πŸ’œ

How do you support a friend who is having a mastectomy but doesn’t want to talk about it?

Give them their space. I’m a weird one. I decided in the beginning to be an open book about what I’m going through. But honestly it’s a really hard thing. You are losing a part of your body. Even with the amazing reconstruction it will never be the same. Give her time to let it all sink in. Let her know you are there when she’s ready to talk. The unknown is scary. Everyone deals with it differently.

What’s your favorite candle smell?

Omg anything fall or Christmas. Like give me all the pumpkin, apple, Christmas tree smells.

Have you been able to connect to other young cancer survivors?

I’ve found the most amazing group of Breast cancer survivors. All in our early 30’s. All live in Nashville. And all have amazing men behind us to support us. Here is a picture of these amazing women and men.

No words can describe the friendship we have with each other.

So there is my quick update!

In conclusion…

Check yourself on the 1st.

Donate or come join my team tatatocancer https://mobileacs.org/2Oz5fVk

Until next time…

I Said Tata to Cancer

Hey y’all! Long time no blog post! I had so many random appointments that I wanted to get through them all before giving my next update.

Last Wednesday was my final chemo. I was so happy to bang that gong. I had been staring at it since my first treatment on April 25th. It felt surreal to be able to finally hit it and say I’m done with chemo.

I also felt a little sad in a weird way. The oncology nurses have been so special to me. It was hard saying bye to them. Good news is I’ll still be in that building every 3 months for check ups, so I’ll just have to pop over and say hi to them! It takes a special person to be an oncology nurse.

The next day I had my first meeting with my radiation oncologist. I loved her! She ran through with me what to expect, and told me I’ll be having 5 weeks of radiation. This won’t begin until November due to me having my implant surgery this month. I’ll need time to heal before they begin radiation. It was a great meeting and I know I’m in good hands with her and her team.

Then came the weekend. I spent a lot of time last weekend trying to focus on being happy. I saw this quote on Pinterest and it is exactly the way I was feeling. It’s so easy to get in your head and worry about the next thing. Sometimes you need to just chill out and breathe.

Thankfully we had my uncle’s surprise 70th birthday party. Family is everything. I had such a great time with them. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my weekend than with my sweet family. It was good for my soul.

Monday I went for my pre op appointment with my plastic surgeon. On September 28th I will be switching these tissue expanders over to implants. Yay!!! Also my awesome doctor is going to be doing lipo to transfer fat from my stomach to my breast to make them look more natural with the implants. Free lipo! Momma needs it. Chemo has not been kind to my waistline. So I’m super excited for my surgery. And if you are in Nashville and need an awesome plastic surgeon, Dr Unger is your guy.

Now we get to my appointments today. I had a CT scan this morning. Scanxiety set in guys. I had one before chemo and it was clear, but it’s still nerve wracking. My “what ifs” set in. “What if they missed something the first time?” “What if something grew over these last 4 months?” I mean I’m the queen of what if’s.

After my CT appointment, I met with my oncologist for the results. Thank you Jesus, they were clear! God is good.

After that amazing news was delivered, we began discussing what’s next. For the next 2 years I will be having blood tests and meeting with my oncologist every 3 months. After that I’ll go every 6 months for 3 years. I also will stay on the Lupron shot for 2 years. This will be a shot I get every 3 months to suppress my ovaries (TMI I know). Since my cancer fed on hormones they want to do everything possible to limit my body’s hormones. Thank goodness I froze my eggs back in March. πŸ™ŒπŸ» I also will begin a drug called Tamoxifen after I finish my radiation.

I’m not going to lie to y’all, I’ve had a lot of anxiety thinking about my chance of reoccurrence. I was stage 3a and was node positive. Right now I am clear of cancer, but I know it could come back one day. I just pray that it is gone for good and I’m putting my anxiety and fears in God’s hands.

That’s it for the the update. Information overload right? I want to thank everyone who has said prayers for me. They have worked you guys! My heart is happy. This weekend I am celebrating “no more chemo” with my friends. A few of them who have gone through chemo for breast cancer themselves will be there. I can’t wait to be surrounded by people I love who have gotten me through this dark time.

Now for the questions answered part…

I asked on instagram if anyone had questions for me. Here is what I got…

Read any good books lately?

Oh yes! I’m currently reading “The Ex” by Alafair Burke I’m loving it so far. I still say if you haven’t read “Behind Closed Doors” by B. A. Paris, you are missing out. The best book I’ve read all year. And I’ve read a lot of books this year!

You’re always so brave, when was the last time you were scared in this process?

Today. I was scared today. I was scared yesterday. I may look and seem brave but every single day I have a moment that I get a little scared or nervous. And that is ok. As long as I don’t dwell on it, and let that moment pass, then it’s ok.

What are your favorite fall things to do?

Omg. I love all things fall. Basic white girl in the houseeee πŸ™ŒπŸ». My favorite is fall candles. Oh and football. And pumpkins. And pumpkin spice lattes. And… ok everything fall. I love everything fall.

What are your side effects from taxol? Is it true that it is easier than AC?

Everyone is different, but I can say for me, Taxol was a breeze. I had zero side effects with Taxol. I did ice my hands and feet which I believe saved me from neuropathy which is the most major side effect of Taxol.

Will you wear a short hair do once it grows out?

At some point yes. I have my wig attached now but it’s not attached in the back. This has allowed me to see my hair growth and y’all… it’s growing!!! I think I’ll have a pixie hair do by Thanksgiving.

Favorite shoes or store?

Vince Camuto hands down has the best shoes.

Ok that is it. The other questions had to do with things I’ve already mentioned in this post above.

Always feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.

Until next time….

Questions Answered Part 2

Happy Thursday! We have almost made it to the weekend! Hope everyone has had a great week.

Two weekends ago Ray and I went to Vegas and had such a great time! It is nice to get away and feel semi normal for a bit.

Then we got home and he went straight to chemo with me. Here he is looking super happy as usual. πŸ˜‚

After that we pretty much had a restful weekend.

Yesterday my mom took me to chemo number 13 of 16. I’m getting SO close to closing this chapter.

Ok enough about me. Back to why I’m writing this post. πŸ™‚ I asked yesterday on instagram for any questions that you would like me to answer on my next blog. Y’all were awesome! I got so many questions. I’m going to try to answer them all.

Ok here we go…

Were you able to work during treatment?

I have been able to work almost the whole time with exception to chemo days. During my last two of my first regimen, I did miss a couple days of work because of extreme fatigue. With the one I’m on now I have only missed treatment days. Shoutout to my job for being awesome and understanding. I can’t thank them enough.

When are you and Ray getting married?

I got this one a lot. Let’s just say it better be soon. πŸ˜‚

What do you do for stress management?

Scream. Hahaha jk jk. I actually just found this app called #selfcare and I’m really liking it.

Would you be willing to do a makeup tutorial?

Oh lord. Ummm it would probably be the funniest, most disorganized, tutorial ever.

What is something friends can do for a friend going through treatment?

Pray! It’s the best thing you can do. Also bake for them. Some chemo regimens are super hard on your tastebuds. My first one was. I lived off of bread basically. And I had wonderful family make me some amazing food.

What suprises you most about how people treat you after diagnosis?

My friends and family have been amazing. Some of the people you never would had thought would be there for you show up. It’s amazing. You definitely find out a lot about your friends and family. I’m so grateful.

Most encouraging thing someone has said to you since your diagnosis?

This too shall pass. Take it one day at a time. Simple words but I say them to myself every day.

How do you stay so strong?

I’m not always strong. I actually broke down yesterday. I started thinking about my chance of reoccurrence and just broke down. I am not always so positive. I have bad days. But most days I’m strong and happy. I just put my faith in God. He knows what He is doing. I’m just along for the ride.

How has your relationship with Ray changed since diagnosis?

We are stronger than I could have ever imagined. I’m so thankful he has not only stuck by my side but has gone above and beyond to keep me happy. I mean he literally has to scoop my cats litter everyday y’all. And he doesn’t complain! He deserves a medal just for that. Haha!

What do you wear for makeup?

I’ll post the links below.

Foundation Laura Mercier

Concealer Smashbox

Contour pallet Smashbox

Setting Powder Laura Mercier

Brow pencil Anastasia brow wiz

Brow builder Sephora

Eyeshadow Urban Decay

Blush NARS

Mascara Tarte

Eyeliner well I wear Hard Candy but I think they have discontinued it. 😩

Shimmer. Y’all. This stuff is AMAZING Laura Gellar in Gilded Honey

How do you stay inspired and keep up with your blog?

I’ve been slacking lately!! But trying to get better. Y’all are my inspiration πŸ€—.

Where did you get your hair? I forgot and want to tell a friend.

HPI they are THE best!!!!

With your hair growing back do you have trouble styling it?

I am sure I will have trouble. Right now I still have my wig glued on soooo no trouble styling the real hair yet.

Do you have loss of appetite while doing chemo?

I wish! Breast cancer chemo is one of the only ones you actually gain weight on. Lucky me!!! No loss of appetite that’s for sure.

Do you take vitamins? If so which ones?

I have to be careful about what I’m taking during chemo. I take B complex, probiotic, and vitamin D.

Are you going to have a big party to celebrate your last chemo?

I’m thinking about it! No set plans yet.

What brand are your eyelashes?

Ardell Demi Wispies Lashes

Ok I got most of the questions answered. This was fun! Send me more and I’ll keep a list and answer them on my next post.

As always, thank you guys for following this crazy journey I’m on. Love you all!

Until next time…

Questions Answered Part I

Hi there!

I’ve received a lot of questions about all different kinds of topics lately. I wanted to share a post and answer some of the ones I have received multiple times. Sooo here ya go…

Is there something you drink prior to chemo that helps you with recovery?

Yes!!! Water, water, and more water. Seriously. My friend gave me excellent advice before I began chemo. She said starting 3 days before infusion, drink at least 60 oz of water and 40 oz of Gatorade a day. I strive for this every day. Now that I’m on the easier chemo I don’t drink the Gatorade, but I drink double the water now. I think it’s really helped me do well. The water I choose is always one with electrolytes. My favorite is Essentia .

Why do you ice your hands?

Great question! I actually ice both my hands and my feet during my Taxol chemo. With certain types of chemo like Taxol there is an increased risk of neuropathy. There have been studies done that show icing can help prolong or eliminate the risk of neuropathy when icing. I will be on number 7 of 12 Taxol this week and so far no neuropathy! I definitely think it helps. I start icing 15 minutes before my infusion begins, and continue during the infusion, and 10 min after the infusion is over. The gloves I use are Elasto-gel Hypothermia Mitts . For the socks I use NatraCure Cold Therapy Socks. It’s good to get a least a couple pairs of both because you will need to change them a few times during treatment.

With the type of chemo that you are and have been on, does it reduce your ability to get pregnant? Just wondering if they recommended freezing eggs before chemo?

Ok, so this is a topic I was going to keep private. After much thought I’ve decided to share in hopes it helps someone out there going through this dreadful journey.

After surgery, but before Chemotherapy I did freeze my eggs. After speaking with my oncologist, and her being so supportive of the idea, I decided that if nothing else freezing my eggs would be my “insurance policy” just in case the chemo makes it hard or impossible to become pregnant naturally. I have to admit it was quite an exciting process. I was able to get 23 eggs frozen! So I will have many chances of having children. I did not want cancer to take that from me. I’m so thankful my oncologist was so supportive of my decision.

You’re skin is glowing! What do you use to make it look so great?

First of all thank you!!! I think a big part of it is drinking a ton of water. Also I’ve been pretty much overdosing on collagen. My favorite is Vital Proteins Collagen . Amy totally got me hooked on their Matcha Collagen as well. I’m also currently obsessed with Biossance SQUALANE Oil . It leaves my face feeling super smooth and refreshed.

Have you lost your eyebrows?

Have I ever?! Lawd. If there is one thing I love more than hair, it’s eyebrows. So this has been rough y’all. But thank God for makeup. Honestly no one can even tell after I fix my makeup in the morning, that they are barely there. I use Anastasia Brow Wiz in soft brown to line them and make little “hairs”. Then I take Sephora Brow Builder to fill in the rest.

On another note, my eyelashes are barely hanging on as well. I’m so cute y’all. πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ I have found the BEST fake lashes ever. I may never go back to natural again after wearing these. They are Ardell Wispies Lashes . They are super light. You can’t even tell you are wearing them. πŸ™ŒπŸ»

Those were just a few of the questions I have received. I’d continue on but Housewives of OC is about to come on. #priorities

Keep the questions coming! I love to help out in any way possible.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Until next time…

Counting Down

Hi y’all! So I’ve been missing in action for a bit on here. I’ve been feeling SO good that I decided to take some time and enjoy feeling well.

I’ve been catching back up with my friends. During the first couple months my energy was pretty low so I pretty much stayed at home when I wasn’t at work. So I have had a lot of catching up to do.

This week I will be going in for my 10th treatment. Time is flying! This new regimen is SO much better than the first one I was on (the red devil).

To be honest I don’t really feel like I’m on chemo most of the time. I’ve been lucky not to have any side effects so far with Taxol (the chemo I’m on).

I will say my eyelashes and my eyebrows are starting to fade. While this is hard, it’s nothing that makeup can’t fix.

This brings me to why I’m writing this. I’ve had quite a few people reach out to me asking some really good questions regarding getting through chemo. Some questions about how to feel good and some about how to look good. Both are equally important to me so I’d love to post a blog with some advice for you guys that are going through this tough journey.

Respond below with any questions you may have. If you’d rather it be private you can email me at Laura.birdwell@yahoo.com .

Until next time, here’s some pictures of what I’ve been up to these last couple weeks. πŸ™‚

My Happy Place

This year has been a tough one. So I decided that it was time to grab my man and run off to the beach. Aka my happy place.

There is something about the ocean, and the breeze by the ocean, that really does soothe your soul.

I’m getting close to being half way through my chemo treatment. It’s been easier on me than I thought. I’m so grateful for the amazing oncology nurses and doctors I’ve been blessed with. Even with my good fortune I still needed a place to clear my head. I’m happy to say after my trip, I feel rejuvenated. I’m ready to take this bad boy on again.

Today I took Ray to my treatment. I think it is really easy to forget to look around at the people by your side, and realize how lucky you are. Today I realized I’m a very lucky lady. Love you Ray!

So far taxol (the chemo I’m on now) has been good to me. I feel semi normal. I’m able to work every day, other than treatment days. I really can’t think of any side effects. I have had to learn to rest when your body needs it. I wasn’t good at that at first.

Basically I just wanted to say that when you need a trip to your happy place, book that trip. Life is short. Be happy.

Look Good, Feel Good

Happy Monday!

I have been getting this question a lot lately and thought it was time I answered it. The question is “how do you still have hair?”. Well it’s time I spill the beans. I decided to shave my head after the first treatment. It was not falling out yet, I personally wanted to be the one in control. I couldn’t stand the thought of waking up with hair on my pillow.

Anyone who knows me knows that I was a hair freak. I barely let my friend/hairdresser cut my long hair. It was most definitely the hardest part of this journey. I was lucky enough to take my friend Allie with me when I had it shaved. She set across from me with the biggest smile on her face. Love you Allie. Will never forget the strength you gave me that day. I don’t think I could have done it without you.

That same day I had a wig, that was made for me, glued on. So I walked out with what looked like my hair. It was amazing!

I want anyone that is going through chemo to know about this option. It has been life changing. I totally respect anyone that can go through this without wearing a wig. I just know me, and I know that when I look in the mirror, I want to look like I feel good. I really think it’s the reason I’ve had the strength to go through this.

So yes I’ve been wearing a glued on wig for the last couple months. And I LOVE it! You can shower in it and curl it just like your own hair. I had it made for me by a wonderful company called HPI in Nashville. You guys they are amazing! Click on the link above to take you to their website.

Here are a few pictures of mine.

You can even get it colored. I added some highlights in mine.

Anyone who needs any tips on styling a wig you can send me a message and I can help you out. I have a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

So there ya go. Cat’s out of the bag.

Also some questions I’ve asked my oncologist and she’s approved are regarding spray tanning and Botox. Yes she may have laughed. And may have said she’s never had anyone ask about spray tans. But I mean again I want to look good so I can feel good. Both were approved! So get your wrinkle free tan on ladies. You deserve it. πŸ™‚

I found a lot of good information in this book called Pretty Sick: The Beauty Guide for Women with Cancer . It gives all kinds of tips regarding everything from nails to wig tips to fashion advice.

Ok y’all probably think I’m crazy right? Like why am I focused on this when I’m fighting for my life? Well because like I said if you look good you feel good. And I am feeling great!

Wednesday I will start my first round of weekly taxol chemo. I’ll update y’all when I’m through.

Until then…