Happy Anniversary 2015

Jess and I just wanted to post a quick message for everyone. One year we’ve been Mr. and Mrs. Leip! 

So many things I could say on a day like today. How lucky we are to have found each other. Some things I question. Some things I don’t. Many times I’ve said how lucky I am to have found Jess. While I wouldn’t call her perfect (way too much yelling), she is absolutely the most wonderful person, mother and wife I’ve ever known. Very rare combo to be sweet yet tough. Very rare.  She is my gift. 

We have taken two crazy lives and made it one family. Four kids, a dog, Cancer, work, we really have it all. I always get so excited talking about our next phase.

Life is good..feeling blessed!

vent + rant = vant

As I sit here drinking my Kombucha, which I drink daily but it has to be away from my husband because it literally makes him gag and throw up in his mouth, I am reflecting on the past year. Truth is, I live in two different worlds.  Cancer world and non-cancer world.  I get frustrated with both because the two worlds don’t really “mesh”.  For me, having terminal cancer is a full time job.  I used to have a “real” full time job (and part-time) and had no trouble combining everything and making it work, as it should be.  Cancer doesn’t really combine with anything.  As I have moved onto the maintenance part of my treatment and therapy, my hair is growing back, I can use my hands again and tie a shoe or button something, my skin has its color back, I don’t LOOK like a person that has Stage 4 terminal cancer.  I can walk up a set of stairs and not have to sit down half way because I am all winded, short of breath and have chest pain.  I am not taking my temperature every 20 minutes, every single day.  I am not fixated on my blood counts.  I weigh over 100 lbs.  I sleep at night.  I have all of my finger nails and toe nails ( I know, gross, that was worse than losing my hair).  I don’t feel like the walking dead anymore.  To be honest, I don’t feel like I have cancer every second of every day anymore.  This is where my two “worlds” don’t mesh.  Almost on a daily basis, I hear “I can’t believe how good you look” or “you don’t look like you have breast cancer” or “you don’t look like you are on chemo” or “you don’t look sick” the list goes on and on.  I also hear “judging by how you look, you must be done with treatment” or ” did you beat it yet?”

Breast Cancer is not one size fits all.  I have been fortunate enough to meet some extraordinary women (and a couple men) who have been diagnosed with breast cancer at all stages from 0-4.  Triple positive to triple negative and everything in between.  I belong to some wonderful support groups and advocacy groups for both breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer.  I have to be honest and say that before I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, I didn’t really know what it was.  Breast cancer was breast cancer.  Pink ribbons were pink ribbons and we all knew what they meant.  This goes back to the old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover”, you just can’t.  I may look one way but I have these effing cancer cells that have set up shop in my body and are looking to take it over.  EVERY.SINGLE.DAY  I hit a reset button on my strength-o-meter and live my life.

As much as it pains me to say this, I believe that being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer has made me a better person.  There is no longer a selfish or judgmental bone in my body. There are no more excuses. I love my life and I love the role model I have become and will continue to be for my children.  They are proud of me and I am so proud of them.

Early detection wasn’t going to save me.  I painfully know that now and I am perfectly okay with it now.

If I am struggling, I still go back to”The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief”.  These stages do not happen in any specific order, nor do they last as long as each other.  My definition of them is different than the next person, but they were/are absolutely necessary for me.

  • Denial and isolation
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Now, while I don’t have an expiration date yet, I do have a shorter lease on life than most.  I can no longer hear someone say “I might get hit by a bus, you never know” but I love hearing that I don’t look sick anymore (I’m sure my kids do too) so thank you for all the love and support and helping me get the strength every day to hit that reset button.

My step-daughter gave this to me.  Couldn't be more true.
My step-daughter gave this to me. Couldn’t be more true.

Scott’s Entry / March 2, 2015

Well folks, it’s been quite a while since I have posted. Life for everyone gets crazy and I feel pretty confident the world Jess and I live is even more so. 

I’m not so sure where to start. The kids I guess. Four of them. Hour doesn’t go by where I’m not thinking about what they are doing, what they need and what’s next for them. 

Izzy has been doing awesome in school. She is the beast. Youngest but so strong. So smart. She reminds me so much of her Mother. Looks like her Dad, but is absolutely Jess. Funny to watch them battle. Neither has ever lost a fight (or a starring contest). She loves her school, dance and loves when she gets to see Courtney and Justin. Got her ears pierced and didn’t bat an eye. Yup – that kid. 

Hannah is the family artist. Unbelievably talented. Definitely gets that from her Dad. She is so sweet and precious. Just like Jess. Absolutely beautiful and going to be a real problem for me when she gets older. No doubt about that. She led her Girl Scout troop in cookie sales. Kid is just the best. 

Courtney is almost 13. My little baby girl. A teenager. Jesus Christ. Where did the time go? She is so smart and absolutely Daddy’s little girl. I can’t wait to ruin some punks world in the next couple years. That should be fun. She is doing so well in school. Works so hard. Also becoming quite the hoop player. Playoffs start this weekend. Let’s go!!

Justin is off and running at Catholic Memorial. Been a crazy year for my man, but he is doing great and working hard. AAU hoops should be starting soon so it’s back to the lab and working on his spring season.  School is going well for him, SAT prep and all that fun stuff. Before we know it, he will be in college. Unreal how time flies. 

My Jess is well…she is my Jess. Pain and pain and yet finds a way to be living what appears to be a normal life. Church with the kids, meals made, house clean, keeping the husband in check. Quite a load she carries. 

I’m in awe of her. Always have been. She still remains a sweet, wonderful woman who I thank God every day for coming into my life.

I am feeling nostalgic tonight.  In 3 days, Jess and I celebrate one year as husband and wife. One year. Twelve months. So many ups and downs. Cancer scans. Huge. Smiles. Fights. Kids. Drama. Work. Life. It’s just an amazing time. Friggen tornado we are inside, no doubt about that. But so much to be thankful for. A future we are staring together. A house. That’s next. A mortgage. More debt. A place to call our own. I can’t wait. 

Oh and by the since my last post, Jess had two surgeries and another set of scans. All went so well. I hated the surgery. Sitting, waiting and praying all would go well. Same with her scans. All looks good. A daily battle for sure but so far so good. Stress baby. Another day in the Leip house. 

It would not be a proper blog update without mentioning the event that Jess and I attended. Black tie affair. Ellie Fund. Their annual Red Carpet Gala. And guess who was their guest of honor? Ya. Jessica Lee Leip. They came to our house and videotaped an interview. It was so well done. So tasteful, yet so emotional. So real. Being in front of tons of people or a camera isn’t my Jess’ cup of tea. And she just nailed it. Per usual with this chick. Her friends, nurses and even one of her oncologists got to attend. It was truly an amazing event. If you don’t know the Elie Fund, google it. Donate to it and if you know folks who can use some emotional and financial help when dealing with this monster, let them know!

I think that’s the uodate for now. Feeling more blessed than ever. Wife, kids, my life. I know I don’t deserve it. I know they are the gift I’ve been given and thank God for every day. Looking forward to the warm weather. Trips to Florida and Tahiti planned. 2015 is our year. 

Loves to everyone. 

Scott!!

Scott and I had the honor of attending and being honored and The Ellie Funds Red Carpet Gala. What an amazing organization and group of people. Words just don’t do it justice. What The Ellie Fund does for women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer is nothing short of amazing. Just amazing. I was so honored to be in a position (physically and emotionally) to represent what amazing work the organization does.  BIDMC is also raising money in my honor for The Ellie Fund by matching donations in my honor to provide critical care needs to patients and families that are newly diagnosed. I will give back to the Breast Cancer circuit and community for as long as I live. For as long as I live. I will never be able to give back everything (physically and emotionally) that was given to me when I was newly diagnosed with Breast Cancer but I will use whatever super powers I have inside of me to give what I can. Breast Cancer sucks but the right support can make a world a difference is someone’s life who is faced with a Cancer diagnosis.

Please click on this link. It’s as real as it gets. 

 

http://vimeo.com/120181535

This is a very real video interview that Scott and I had the pleasure of being a part of to show our love and support for The Ellie Fund. If you’ve never heard of them, now you have.

Some of my friends got the opportunity to attend the event and BIDMC also surprised me by inviting my treating oncologists, chemo nurses, surgeons and social worker! Very cool. Here are a few snapshots from the night!

Scans, chemo and tests. 

So, this has been a busy month. Two weeks after my surgery, I had my full set of scans…brain, bones, chest, abdomen. I (we) are happy to report that everything is stable. I do have axillary lymphnodes that are lighting up on both sides but not big enough to warrant any change in my treatment. So, I will continue the medication I’m on right now every three weeks until my next scans or/if anything changes. My blood counts are also looking good 🙂 

Stable is great and I will take that for as long as I can.  While there is no cure for me, stability gives me hope.  So….stable=great! 

I was concerned that there was going to be an issue accessing my port, post surgery. My doctors assured me that there would be no issue but of course I was nervous that the catheter inside my chest was tweaked and there would be no blood return. But, I have the best doctors, surgeons and chemo nurses so my chemo last week went without a hitch and my port works perfect. 

Surgery 

Surgery was on February 2. In a blizzard, of course. My awesome surgeons kept my surgery at 3 hours so I was able to go home that day! It’s almost a blur at this point, but I spent an entire week sitting on the couch. Literally. I had 5 incisions from my boobs to my belly and I was afraid to lie down flat because (I was afraid) I would not be able to get up with out splitting open an incision. So I slept in a sitting position for an entire week. Scott stayed on top of my pain meds so the pain was under control and that is partly why it seems like a blur. I’m happy to report, at this point, I’ve had several follow ups and everything looks good and my surgeries were successful. Keep in mind, these surgeries aren’t prolonging my life, they are making living with what I have to live with, easier in the long run. Less places for Cancer to go and also less estrogen for the Cancer to feed off since I have estrogen receptor positive Breast cancer. I also was able to get off of one of the drugs that was shutting off my ovaries because now they are gone! Surgeries=successful! This is one post that I won’t be posting pictures with because this is a family show 🙂