Thursday, September 30, 2010

3 years

First time I saw her in the NICU after she was born
First time holding her

Holding Breanna after they extubated her the first time.
1st hair cut...

The beauty of LIFE!  God is GOOD!!!
3 weeks after surgery.  We are going home!  She was 4 lbs 15 oz.
We just couldn't get enough of her.

6 months old.
Happy 1st birthday baby girl!

Mommy and her girl! 

Somebody's learned to walk 

And get into the cupboards. No, it wasn't me, Mom.

Getting ready to go back for her second surgery.

My first ponytail!
Walking in Kristen's high heels!

My first vacation!

Meeting Janna for the first time on my second birthday!

Happy 2nd birthday baby girl!

First game of backyard football with the BIG kids.
3rd hospital stay 
Just being Bre....

Summer fun at the lake.

I'm going to say that this picture was taken in the midst of her saying "HI-YA!" haha

Flower girl in Aunt B-Beth's wedding. 

My beautiful THREE year old!

Where has the time gone?!  You get bigger and more independent every single day.  You are so funny and smart, and I can't wait to see you grow.  You are loved so much!  Happy 3rd birthday baby girl!!! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Discomfort, Nausea, and many upcoming doctor appointments

First, let me start off by saying thank you to each and every one of my prayer warriors.  A big thanks to my parents, my sisters, grandma Dee, Evan, Laura and Susie, Amanda, Opal and Brock, Leah and Larry, and Mackenzie.  I know I had a few days that I wasn't very 'with' it, but your visits, cards, and flowers meant the world to me.  Thank you Aunt Phil, Renee, Mandie, April (and the people who walked with her) for walking in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure for me.  I know there were others that I am forgetting, and I'm sorry, but know I DO appreciate what you did.  I was moved to tears by the video of the almost 15,000 people who walked to support this cause.  And to the anonymous lady who came through my sisters check-out line and added my name to your wrist band the day of the walk after talking to her....thank you!  It's simple acts of kindness like that, that make this world a better place.

Today, I am Day 5 post-op.  Still very fatigued but overall feeling quite a bit better.  Yesterday I spent the majority of the day sleeping, and still had a lot of discomfort.  It's much more prominent on my left side...which is the side that contained multiple tumors and the cystic area close to my armpit where they had to also remove the skin.  I have more swelling and felling of tightness on that side.  I have the least amount of pain if I am up and moving around, or sitting propped up. In the sitting down/laying back process I have quite a bit of pain still.  I do have occasionally twinges of pain underneath the breast on that side, but they are around the area where the drain tubes come out of my chest, so that may have something to do with it.  I'm down to 1 pain pill every 6 hours, and think by tomorrow Tylenol will be sufficient.  Dr F did put in 360 cc in my expanders so I know a lot of the discomfort is the pressure on the pectoral muscles.  The good thing about that is that if he is able to do 60 at each fill, I will only need 5 fills.  Keeping my fingers crossed on that one!

3 out of 4 of my JP drains have more of a yellowish-orange colored liquid now...which is really good.  And 2 of them are only having minimal drainage.  I expect that these two will more than likely get removed by next week.  YAY!!!!  The other two will stay in about 3 weeks, Dr F said.

My biggest complaint is the I have a constant feeling of nausea.  I've never experienced this with any of my other surgeries, so I am not really sure what is causing it this time.

A BIG milestone this week....Kinsey is getting her braces off tomorrow!!!  I'm so excited for her!  She's excited about getting her retainer with Pixie Dust. lol

Thursday, I have my post-op appointment with Dr. F, and my post-op appointment with Dr Marcus Friday.  I must say, I was very blessed with two great surgeons.

In a week, I have an appointment to go over my final pathology reports and BRCA testing with Dr Mandal.  Hoping to hear, "NO CHEMO NEEDED!"  Above the mastectomy, the reconstruction greatest fear in all of this is needing chemo.  I'm still holding on to the hope that I won't.  Dr Marcus told Chris he's fairly certain they got it all so I'm taking that as a good sign.


On a funny note:  Breanna came in the bedroom a little bit ago, and says to me, "HEY, where's daddy?  Is daddy missing mom?  Did he go to the soccer game???"

I just thought that was so random. I just love the little random things she says.

My guess....Dora probably played in a soccer game today! lol

Monday, September 27, 2010


Hi guys,

I know a few of you check in often, and I'm sorry I've not been able to update sooner.  Chelsa, did a great job keeping everyone as informed as possible during the surgery time, but I've spent most of the past few days so groggy I couldn't even manage to update her.  Thanks again, Chelsa!  :)

The good news.


What we know so far...

Surgery took longer and was a little more complicated than they thought it was going to be.

The left breast looks and feels worse because they had to remove a section of skin close to my armpit because they couldn't get clear margins.

I developed the beginning stages of pneumonia while I was in the hospital and had to have six breathing treatments.  Hopefully, we are done dealing with that.

I lost quite a bit more blood than they anticipated during surgery, so on Friday I received 1 1/2 units.  I passed out walking from the bathroom Thursday evening.  Luckily, the nurse were already helping me and caught me.  I was told I was unresponsive for several minutes, they hooked me up to oxygen, checked my BP, blood sugar (apparently both my BP and BS were fluctuating during surgery).  The nurse said I was having difficulty breathing, and that my bladder released, so it put my care team in a bit of a panic.  The only thing I remember is hearing all these people yelling my name over and over, and trying to figure out how I had got to the bed.  When I finally managed to make myself say What?  The nurse asked me if I knew were I was.  I said at the hospital.  And she asked me why was I there?  I said because I just had surgery.  Apparently, those were good enough answers because she didn't ask me anymore after that.  Just put the oxygen back on my face.

On Friday, I only got half of the first transfusion because the vein blew during the transfusion.  It was already the second IV they had started (the first one stopped working during surgery from understanding).  It took 3 nurses and 7 sticks and digs later, but they finally got one going.  My poor arms have definitely seen better days.

Saturday, they just monitored me to see if my blood count would come back up, taught me how to drain my tubes (I have four!), did breathing treatments, and basically let me rest as much as possible.  They also DC'd my fentanyl pump, and I started taking oral meds to try and keep my pain under control.  There were a few rough hours in there when packing needed changed and drain tubes pulled on, that I thought I might have to let them put it back...but I didn't.

Sunday, Dr M came in and said my blood count was still really low, and asked if I wanted to stay another night.  I told him I preferred to go home, and he said, "He'd meet me in the middle.  He'd let me go home after I had two more transfusions...BUT if I started to feel the slightest bit dizzy that I promised I'd come back to be re-admitted."  And he made my family promise to watch me carefully over the next few days

I got done with my transfusions around 3, and got discharged around 3:30.  We had to go to CVS to pick up my scripts, and then we headed home.  I never realized just how bumpy the street is to get to our street.  lol

So far, no dizzy spells, but I did wake up a bit ago with a lot of crud in my eyes so I do believe I have a cold in them.  Evan helped me get a shower.  Which felt so amazing!!!  She washed and fixed my hair so that made me feel somewhat normal.

I'm extremely fatigued but am having a hard time sleeping because of the pain.  The left side is specifically more sore because of the extra trauma it endured during surgery.  It's hard to breathe....almost like I have on a sports bra that is about 3-4 sizes too small.

Dr M says he's hopeful that at about the 1 week mark I will feel considerably better..I hope he is right. Because it's been a pretty tough road so far.

Thank you for all the prayers, well wishes, visitors who stopped by, flowers, candles, food casseroles, etc.  And a HUGE thank you to Evan for coming down and keeping my household running 'normally'.  This whole time, I've been worried about the kids having a hard time with it, but because everything else was so normal, they did great with it.  I got several 'checking to see how you are feeling' text and phone calls from the kids while I was there, but overall, they were just fine.  I appreciate that more than you will ever know.

Thanks ahead of time to all the people who will be staying overnight with us, helping clean and get the kids ready for school this week and taking me and the girls to our doctor appointments.

I know this is going to be a lengthy recovery process, and I appreciate each and every one of you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Surgeon just came out. Said everything went well. Plastic surgeon is with her now finishing up. Thank for your prayers God is great!

Update 2

UPDATE 2:- I am reposting this from her dad's status. "They took Casondra back @ 1:00 just came out @ told us they r getting ready to start @ 2:10."

Sorry for the delay- facebook wouldn't let me on.

Update #1

Hi! This is Casondra's friend, Chelsa.  She has asked me to keep everyone updated today.  She just text me a little big ago and said she was getting ready to go get her IV... Her blood pressure is high (160's over 90's).  That's something specific you could be praying about for her now! Thanks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm so excited!

My day just got a little LOT better!

Deidre over at For Such a Time As This whose blog I adore had a giveaway of Mary Curtis Chapman's book Choosing to See, and she chose me as the winner!

If you have a few minutes, stop over and visit her.  I promise you won't get through one blog post without feeling inspired and rejuvenated in spirit.

Thanks again, Deidre!!!  :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Things I've Done

Awhile back ago, I posted a 'Bucket List' of things I want to accomplish in my life.  Then a blogger friend of mine posted a 'reverse' bucket list.  A list of all the things she has already done in her life instead of a list of things that one may never accomplish.

I thought this was a pretty neat idea, so here goes:

1.  I played on the very first little league girls softball team from Petersburg to ever win the State Championship.
2.  I became friends with the majority of the girls who are still my closest friends today while in Middle School.
3.  I traveled to England and Scotland with a great group of people and had the time of my life.
4.  I watched the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace.
5.  Visited West Minster Abbey.
6.  I tried Shepherd's Pie, and nearly vomited.
7.  I tutored special needs kids in an after-school program while I was in college and it was to-date one of the most rewarding jobs ever!
8.  I moved 11 times in 8 years, and I'm thankful to FINALLY be settled in a house that fits my family.
9.  I birthed one amazing, fiesta and sassy yet sweet little girl named Kinsey.
10.  I quit college after my third year to support her and I, and I'd do it over again in a heartbeat.  Being a mother is the best thing I've ever done in my life!
11.  Two years later, I birthed her soft spoken, easy going little sister, Ava.
12.  I moved to the outskirts of Indianapolis, and ran into a good friend from college at the Wal-Mart checkout...I believe God meant for us to be sisters.  A piece of my heart remains with her up north.
13.  I loved, lost, and then met and fell in love with Chris.  The last four years of my life have been one heck of a ride, and I'm thankful to have him with along for it.
14.  I birthed my 'miracle' child, Breanna, at 31 weeks gestation, and clung to my faith as I watched her little body fight that battle of its lifetime.
15.  I was married in one of my favorite places...the Riverwalk Park, by a childhood friend.  BEST.DAY.OF.MY.LIFE!!!
16.  That day, I became a step-mom to a funny, keeps me on my toes little man who I call Big A.  That day, I became a little more appreciative of all the things my own step-mom has did for me throughout the years, that so often went unnoticed or that I didn't thank her for because she wasn't my 'real' mom.  I may not have harvested in her womb, but I can see it when I look in her eyes that she loves me just the same.  And now, I truly understand how that's possible.
17.  I taught my children to read.
18.  I assisted as Chris patiently taught two of our little ones how to ride their bicycles with no training wheels.
19.  I've kissed boo-boo's, bandaged scrapes, and iced twisted ankles and smashed fingers.
20.  I've heard the sweetest words a mother could ever hear, "I love you, Mommy."
21.  I've photographed many backyard football games and cheered from the swing.
22.  I started this blog to keep family up-to-date on important appointments, and in the past few months it's turned into a source of therapy that has gotten me through some really rough days.
23.  Some amazing girls and I started a community blog to join together in worship and prayer...I had no idea how much it would touch me personally.
24.  I've become a stronger person because of where my life has been.
25. And most importantly, I've grown in my faith throughout the trials I've faced the past few years.

Tune Ups

With my surgery date slowly closing in, and the inability to do much physically with all these darn stitches in my chest, I have A LOT of time to think.  With thinking comes increased anxiety...but also the ability to turn that anxiety around by forcing myself to focus on positives.

I was relieved last week when Dr. F's nurse told me if all goes well, I can come home after only 1 day in the hospital.  I was dreading the THREE days they had pre-authorized with insurance.

I hate hospitals in general. They represent germs, non-well states of being, toxic medication, and intervention with the body – once that first cut is made, things are never the same in that area again.  They are a reminder of my many stays during my VERY complicated pregnancy with Breanna and her subsequent hospitalization and heart surgery.  

Hospitals also represent compassion, incredible people who have given their lives to helping others, and choice.

We all have the choice to get bitter or better. Physical symptoms just alert us to the fact that we need to make different choices about where we are at, how we want to proceed into the future, and most importantly, how we did things in the past.  Allowing the window for healing to open.

I've decided that since I am going to spend time in hospital in the near future, I need to change my attitude towards them. So instead of giving the ‘I hate hospitals’ thought too much energy, I'm changing the way I think/feel about hospitals.

I'm withdrawing my spirit and viewing them as car workshops. Some sections deal with investigation (radiology, neurology, x-ray), others with repairs (fixing, replacing, removing), and others with panel replacement (plastic surgery). I hope this helps me detach myself from the process my body has already went through and will continue to go through in the near future. My car has 2 flat tires and they need to be changed!

We all need tune-ups from time to time.

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem, almost too much to handle,
When 24 Hours in a day is not enough,
Remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class

And had some items in front of him.
When the class began, wordlessly,
He picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
And proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open Areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again
If the jar was full.. 

They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand

And poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced Two cups of coffee from under the table
And poured the entire contents Into the jar, effectively
Filling the Empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, As the laughter subsided,
'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.
The golf balls are the important things - God, family,
children, health, Friends, and Favorite passions –

Things that if everything else was lost

And only they remained, Your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter Like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else --
The small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' He continued,
'there is no room for The pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.
If you spend all your time And energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for The things that are
Important to you.


Pay attention to the things That are critical to your happiness.
Play With your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.
There will always be time
To clean the house and fix the disposal.

'Take care of the golf balls first --
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand
And inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.
'I'm glad you asked'.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.

T-minus 3 days - Constant learning/growing

As surgery is nearing I wanted to document what I've learned so far along this journey.

What I am getting/learning is:

  • to listen to myself - what is my body, heart, mind, high intention trying to tell me?
  • to take time for Casondra - When I am tired I rest. 
  • to change the negative phrases I used to have on repeat in my brain to positive ones - they can only help me! I start the day by being thankful for everything, next saying that 'This is going to be the best day ever!!', next setting my intention for how I would like to deal with myself, others and situations in the day. At first this felt weird but I soon got into it.
  • to laugh at things more and to see the light and positive side of everything. This take only about 5-10 mins.
  • to live in the moment - it is all I have.
  • to respect I do myself.
  • to love everyone I do myself.
  • to be grateful for everything before I try to start my list of moans. I have so much! I always start with 'Thank you that I am just alive....'
  • that I am am more that just my physical body. I have discovered where my authentic power lies: inside, my spirit!
  • to accept compassion. I have to understand what it is to receive compassion first before I can fully give it.
  • to stand in someone else's shoes and realise I am not not alone nor am I special.
  • a desire to want to help others in a similar situation or to play a part in helping people prevent breast cancer.
I hope you have the BEST DAY EVER today!!

Muffin Melts - the recipe in pictures

Lisa and Bryon came up Saturday for a visit, and we started discussing the recipe portion of my blog.  Apparently, it's a big hit in her office!  :)

Lisa, I'm working on the weekly menu today, so I'll post it for you tomorrow or Wednesday.

It takes A LOT of planning, you know!  lol

Anyways,  one recipe she wanted pictures of was the Muffin Melts.  I have posted the recipe before sans pictures.  So, when I made them for breakfast this morning, I took the step-by-step pictures for her....and all of you!

I'm not forgetting about all my other 'followers'.

The exact ingredients to make 6 muffins (12 since you technically use each side of the muffin for one) is on the previous post I posted.

When I cook I only use my measuring utensils the first time I make a new recipe...after that I take away and add things to tweak it to my own liking.

General rule of thumb:  Boil one egg for each half of an English Muffin

Cool and peel hard boiled eggs

Turn your broiler on...and let preheat!

Dice up eggs

In a small mixing bowl combine diced eggs, Worcestershire, mayo, and these three *key* ingredients....

You MUST use Dijon Mustard, and you MUST add in both Garlic and Onion Powder or you shouldn't even bother with making this recipe!

I'm not kidding!

They are KEY ingredients!!!

Cook up some bacon slices.  I use the pre-cooked bacon you can buy and heat up for 1 minute.  I crumbles really well.

Add the bacon and some shredded cheese to your mixture and stir.

If you taste it right taste very similar to a deviled egg, and you might be tempted to eat it as is right then and there.

Top your muffin halves with egg mixture.

I wrap my baking sheet with aluminum foil because I tend to drop egg and cheese, and it makes for an easier clean up!

Top with a little more shredded cheese.

Boil for 3-4 minutes. Until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.


This is one of those foods that falls in my 'Comfort Food' category.

They are the perfect start to any morning.

And if you are an 'egg white' only kind of person, these are still F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S made with egg whites only!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

He IS in Control

At church we are doing a series called  FEAR NOT

As does most often the case, the sermon hit home.

It was titled Power Over the Physical.

Darrell read Luke 8:40-56.  If you are unfamiliar with the story, it's about a woman who had been bleeding for TWELVE years.  She touched Jesus' robe and was instantly healed.  Then Jairus's child passed and Jesus brought her back from the dead.

Psalm 34:18 says The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit.

With surgery getting near, I've been feeling particularly stressed.  I hate feeling like I am burdening people, and knowing that over the next several months I am going to need help isn't sitting well with me.

I needed to be reminded today that this is out of my control and that I just need to put all my trust in Him.  I may not understand this, but He does!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  

Proverbs 3:5-6

Faith is not in the belief that He will do what we think is right immediately, but that He will do what is right ULTIMATELY!

Mom and I went up front and Darrell and the congregation prayed for my surgery this week.  It's amazing how strongly you feel His presence when that many people pull together and pray.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

All is Restored in the Land of Chaos

I previously wrote this week that I have been avoiding housework like the plague.

When I would ask them if they straightened up their rooms this week, I'd get ALMOST!  KIND OF for answers. Is it the way Mommy likes it clean? NOT EXACTLY!   At least they were being honest but, I knew it was bound to be bad.

The decision to not add to my stress level by venturing up there nearly gave me a heart-attack when I visited the Land of Chaos this morning...a.k.a... the upstairs of my children's bedrooms and bathroom.

I kept trying to convince myself I was having a nightmare.

But sadly enough this is really what I saw....

And of course, as I am taking pictures Miss Ava is making a mad dash from Breanna's room to hide the toys she just stole from her.

This room has actually been like this for a WEEK, because this is how Big A left it last Sunday!

If you look closely enough you might see the toothpaste smeared all over the top of the cabinet.  I really don't understand why my kids find smearing toothpaste so fun.

I was sucked into the abyss of the Land of Chaos right then and there.

I feared no return.

Surprisingly enough, and with only ONE melt-down (not on my behalf) the girls and I managed to turn it around.

Sheets got washed and beds even got made!  

YES!!! There is a missing drawer front on Ava's bed.  During the whole two months M occupied this room, it managed to get broken.  

Oh yes, I even tackled this messy room!

Now that is how Mommy likes it done!