Friends – things continue to be gross. Frankly, in epic fashion.

Here’s the deal. I tried putting off writing this update under the umbrella of having nothing nice to say blah blah blah, but to be honest, I’m not so great at dealing with all of this, and I’m hoping for your positive vibes yet again (yes, I’m being greedy).

Let me back up just a moment and give you the low down so you know what the heck I’m even talking about. Last Wednesday, I had my bilateral mastectomy surgery.  The plan was to remove the 2 small tumors that had been identified by my biopsy , and check my lymph nodes to ensure this cancer craziness has remained in the breast only.  Guess what – sometimes things just don’t go your way, which I’ve been able to demonstrate repeatedly on this crazy  journey nearly every step of the way thus far.

When I woke from the surgery, the first question I asked Tom was about my lymph nodes. I was more than a little devastated when he had to tell me that the sentinel node had tested positive, and my surgeon had to remove additional nodes for testing.  I couldn’t even speak – just tears running down my cheeks – it was about the worst news I could imagine.  Except it wasn’t. (Cue dramatic music)

Friday morning as I was preparing to be discharged from the hospital, my wonderful breast surgeon, Dr. Bretzke, arrived in my room and let me know the pathology report was in a bit earlier than expected. She let me know that the 2 small tumors they thought I was dealing with in my right breast were actually 1 very large tumor measuring 10 cm, and that 2 of the 16 lymph nodes she removed had tested positive for cancer, so I was now being classified officially as stage 3A.  I could barely speak nor function. Even her quiet confidence didn’t soothe me – not one little bit.

Talk about kick you when you’re down (not my surgeon who did all she could to help me, I just mean the whole damned process) it’s pretty crummy to be doing your best to recover from major surgery only to learn that things are significantly more serious and life threatening than expected. Let’s face it – things were decidedly not going my way.

Dr. Bretzke then informed me that because of my standing as a stage 3 patient, I was automatically required to undergo a PET scan which is an imaging test to check for possible cancer invasion in other parts of my body. That lovely little test is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) and I won’t learn the results until sometime on Friday.

Here’s where you come in. Friends – I have had absolutely no luck thus far on this crazy cancer road, and to be honest, I could really stand a little good luck tomorrow.  Not lighting up that scan like a Christmas Tree would be kind of awesome, and I would certainly be grateful for that tomorrow.  Even so, what I’m learning is that I face a very long, difficult road ahead of chemo, radiation and hormone therapy and to be blunt – I’m in for the fight of my life.  This is so gross I can barely type it.  I hate this post, and I hate having to ask for your good vibes, prayers, well wishes, etc. once again.  I so wish I didn’t need them, but in fact, I do.  I need them a lot because I’m about as terrified as any human being can possibly be before sliding back and forth on that scanner tomorrow.

Ok – it wouldn’t be a red couch entry without some kind of positive spin, and believe me when I say it’s been a stretch this week. To be fair, I wasn’t trying to be a jerk about not updating everyone, but this has been a tough one for me to wrap my own head around, and truly, I kind of thought it might be easier to wait to post anything until I had the results of the scan.  But, I think I need to feel those good vibes from my amazing village (if you have any to spare – Lord knows I’ve been greedy lately) before this damned appointment tomorrow, and therefore I’m spilling it in hopes of any sort of positive news from this test.  Seriously, I just have to believe I’m due to have even a hint of hope – it would be kind of awesome at least.

People are unbelievably kind and know how to convey it in meaningful ways that make me realize I need to buff up my own skills. Truth – I’m an introvert by nature – often needing lots of alone time to process things, write, ponder, and make action plans.  Sometimes I get way overwhelmed by too many meetings and things, but this always goes in spurts for me and has to be about things I’m completely passionate about or I don’t do well.  Don’t get me wrong – I adore people, and appreciate the variety and depth of friendships/relationships I have accumulated throughout my funky, slightly left of center life, but I’m not what anyone would describe as a people person.  I never know what to say to people, I struggle to put into words anything that makes sense when crummy things happen to others, and I am not such a great friend to most people in my life because my children take up the majority of my time and energy,  and I don’t have much left over.  In short – I’m kind of an asshat in a multitude of ways, even though I wish I weren’t.  It’s a work in progress – I’m trying – but being a good friend is not a strength for me despite my genuine compassion for others.  All that said – while I clearly don’t deserve it, I have somehow collected some of the most amazing, compassionate, caring people in my life that are stepping up, showing support and compassion to me and our family, connecting me to people who know this journey, cooking meals, sending me cards and gifts, and just going above and beyond in general.  Tom and I are humbly in awe nearly every day – for a couple of so-so asshats, we have the coolest village on the planet, and no matter what this crappy scan says tomorrow, I hope that’s what I’m thinking about and remembering no matter how awful the news.

The kids are hanging in there. I’m sharing bits and pieces at a time as not to overwhelm them.  They know I face a long course of treatment, and I’ve shared with them we are going to need the support of our family and friends in order to make this summer work at all.  I can’t even go there right now because the thought of how this is going to affect my offspring is just too much to bear at the moment, and needs to be a different post.  But I’m sad.  Yes, I will spin this positive, and they will learn great life lessons and we will find our way together as we’ve done so many times before with other crazy stuff, but I’m just sad, angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed about it at the moment.  It’s so gross.

Yet, my physical recovery is going better than I expected. I feel quite strong most of the time, and am healing nicely.  I’m not out and about yet, but by next week, I hope to start getting back into the swing of things a bit more.  All of this makes the kids feel confident and our house not so off for them. They continue bickering about who gets the biggest piece of something sweet or who hid the Doritos remain constants.  Frankly, it makes me smile.

So, that’s the scoop. I’m grateful for all the love and support you’ve shown to me and our family over this past month, and humbly ask for your support as I face “the scan” tomorrow.  If you are willing to cross your fingers and toes – I’d appreciate that as well. If you see fit to knock on a few extra pieces of wood – all the better!

It’s a beautiful, sun filled day today. My friend Sarah came to sit on the deck with me and laugh and share stories and let me be sad.  Let’s take some of this vitamin D and turn it into some good news tomorrow – shall we?  If I’m going to get any, this would be a great time to start with the positive stuff.

Last, thank you, wherever you are, and however we are connected – I appreciate you. This process is scary and overwhelming and unbelievably gut wrenching, but despite me being a little too hippie-esque, I believe in the good of people, and have been able to see the very best of what so many people have inside them and consider that a true gift.  I believe that can trump cancer – at least I hope so . . .

26 thoughts on “I Need You! Conquering the Grossness

  1. Good Vibes coming your way!! Hang in there! There are many people supporting you!! The Pet Scan was easy to do compared to the MRI. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family. YOU HAVE GOT THIS! I KNOW YOU WILL DO GREAT!!!!


  2. You’ve got the prayers coming from all of us over here. I believe in successful cancer journeys. I’ve watched my mom hit a stage 4 can come back cancer free each time. Success stores happen all the time. And I can see that you have already hit that dirty “C-word” roller coaster already. It seems like dealing with the set backs just make the journey all that much harder to cope and deal with. I’m glad your “village” is pulling together. Sometimes the silver lining in all of this mess is the C-word often brings out the best in humanity. Every act of kindness and prayer is always felt and to say they are appreciated is an understatement. So I’m lifting you up in prayer hun, because I believe they are as powerful as any kind of treatment out there and when they work together with your docs plan…wonderful things start to happen.


  3. Hey, Cam, YOU CAN DO THIS!!! Amazing doctors, amazing nurses, nutritionists, social workers will be by your side every day. And, that’s not counting your incredible families. Would it be okay with you if Steve and I place you on the Lake Crystal Methodist Church prayer list? We need EVERYONE to be by your side. Take care, keep confident, be strong! Sending lots of love and prayers!!!!!


  4. No catastophes Kammy, take good and bad news one piece of information at a time. Whatever happens, happens and ypu’re going to be fine, more or less. You always are, why change now? Yes, its a big pain putting up with the images lighting up, but I like tne Christmas tree anlogy, unscrew a few bulbs. Accept help, dont be too strong when ypu need a hand.


    1. Dr. T – you always have the perfect thing to say and can make me smile. Thank you for always being there for us through thick & thin. Challenge doesn’t scare me but I’d love some good news tomorrow!


  5. I will continue to pray for you and your family, Kammy, and I will be thinking of you tomorrow. Try to take it one day at a time. It sounds like you have an excellent health team to take care of you and they will do everything possible to get you through this. Jim and I are here for you. May you and your family be surrounded by love to boost you up through this difficult time in your life.


  6. The Bender family has the knocking on wood down pat. (David’s little joke on the dog–he is constantly knocking so the dog will think someone is at the door and will bark.) so instead of discouraging him–he has callouses on his knuckles–everyone one of those knocks tonight and tomorrow will be for you and an unlit PET scan. instead of knocking for the dog, we’ll be knocking for the PET! So now you have your dose of weird humor as well.


  7. May all that is to be, be known only when you have everything you need to deal with it! Kammy, you have already done so much for everybody! Keep asking for everything that you feel you need! My hope for you, is that you can stay in the exact “right nows” that lie ahead. Hindsight being 20-20, I can tell you, with some exact firsthand experience from a son/brother perspective, that all of it is going to be super awesome in ways that we won’t know until it happens! Super awesome! From our humanness lens it hurts like hell and can be super scary! From another perspective, the one we all cling to (willingly, unwillingly, knowingly, unknowingly), is the one that knows best, provides for us all the best, ultimately makes the best sense and affords the greatest comforts is right here and already working overtime! My situation with my mom and her breast cancer could not be any other way for all kinds of logical reasons. None of us would have ever picked the path the was laid out for us! Acceptance has proven to be a good way to go. Love has expanded so many times that I’ve learned it is limitless! And, we all need all of this to live our lives, right now! Embrace the current event. Give love and receive love! Keep Calm and Scan On! Love, John


  8. We are praying for you Kammy and holding you all in our thoughts. You are going to get through this scan tomorrow and continue on your road to recovery! You are super strong and brave and awesome🙂


  9. Kammy — we’re in this together, baby. My PET is next Tuesday. I’ll try giving you a call tomorrow but getting together sometime soon would be even better! Thinking and praying for you and holding you close to my heart. I wish I could give you a hug and draw all the fear out of you. Pretend I’m doing it anyway — it will be a cyber hug! I understand all the strong emotions you are feeling!


  10. Hi Kammy, I just recently started reading your red couch entries…I think my sister Lisa had responded to one of them~~
    I’m Praying for you & “The Family”– Praying for the Peace that passes all understanding ! May God wrap His Loving arms around you & give you strength every moment of every day !!! Blessings, Kristy (Yahnke) Vaubel


  11. Oh, Kammy – I have been thinking of you and your family often. Please know that we are sending you all of our best energy. And we will pray. And pray hard. We will keep you and your family close in our minds and hearts. Sending a big hug to you.


  12. Hi Kammy, praying for you extra today and have added you to a prayer chain at church. You are so loved, through every bit of this journey.


  13. Hello-

    I am a friend of Lauren’s and want you to know you and your family are in my thoughts an prayers. Sending healing vibes your way.
    All my best wishes,


  14. Hello Kam. Thank you for the post. Please, please do not apologize for asking for our prayers and positive vibes and anything else you need. Focus on what you need to and don’t worry about the rest! We have your back. You are surrounded by people who love you because of you. Just take that love and hold it. I told CP recently I remember the first time I walked across campus with you and realized I had never met anyone like you and had no frame of reference to draw from. Know that you’ve changed my life and I will fight like hell right along side you every step of this bullshit journey you have to take. Love you bunches.


    1. Love ya, Laur – you made my freshman year of college infinitely more of a learning experience! I will need your help – this will be no easy road, but I’m filled with gratitude for our wonderful friendship and for your willingness to continue a friendship after Norman saw your ass


  15. Kammy, I do not know why you think you have to have “at least some positive spin” to write about… It’s OK to be totally scared and vulnerable. If I were in your shoes, I’d gone psycho, yelling at anyone in sight and hating everything. Ugly situation can turn anyone into a ball of mess, but you know what? We love you anyway! I live in Prior Lake now but I drive Joey to MAC in Eagan everyday, so let me know if I can help you in any way anytime. I can pick up magazine, grocery, anything you need and just drop it off. Seriously, let me know if I can be of any help to make your day a little easier.


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