Wrapping things up…

This year has been an interesting one to say the least. I went back to school to begin my studies in Communications with an emphasis on Public Relations, have stumbled across some interesting challenges (aka opportunities) in my career, adapted to several changes in my family dynamics, began working on rebranding my nonprofit, developed major back pain issues and learned that I shouldn’t have waited so long to seek medical attention because it could be cancer related, and well, as is the case for many, the list goes on. GWAPR- MRI ResultsBut before I move forward with my 2018 plans, let me clear the air on the big “C” word.

I underwent several tests but it was the bone scan that came back with the news that the cancer had not returned. Phew! A little recommendation to those of you that have had breast cancer, please don’t ignore back pain symptoms or write them off as “something I can get through” like I did. It could very well be a sign that the cancer has returned and is presenting itself in your spine. I didn’t know this myself, but I guess it’s all part of the learning process. Thankfully all I need at this point is a little more yoga in my life and to be making some better “back saving” choices (i.e. not wear heals all the time, etc.) and I’ll be “A” okay. 😉


So now what’s in store for 2018?

With the end of the year quickly approaching, and after starting a new read called The Diamond in Your Pocket: Discovering Your True Radiance (by Gangaji, Forward by Eckhart Tolle), my new focus for 2018 is to live more in the moment by truly acknowledging my state of being and health in every experience I have and/or create. I feel it is only then that I will expand my knowledge and tap into who I am at the core; building a greater appreciation for my courage, integrity and emotional flexibility, rather than taking it all for granted. I look forward to 2018 and the changes and opportunities that will come with it. Whatever your goals are for the new year, make 2018 the year in which you create the space for you to be and energetically feel greater than you could have ever imagined! That is my wish for you…

Happy New Year 2018!

Stay tuned…

Elizabeth 🙂 ❤

What are your plans for 2017?

We are almost 2 weeks into the new year, and I am still going through the motion of clearing out the closets, and writing my list of all of the things I’d like to accomplish this year. Can you relate?

Are you still jotting down your 2017 goals, or are you done and already checking some of them off? And if so, what kinds of things are you looking forward to accomplishing this year?

One of my top “to do’s” is getting back into a fitness routine. I have realized that my happiest moments are when I am physically engaging myself in an activity like running, yoga and biking just to name a few. Not only does it energize my soul, but it also provides me with mental clarity, and an opportunity to unwind after a long day.

I’d also like to get back into doing more arts and crafts. I feel like the possibilities become endless, each time I allow myself to explore my creative side.

And I am without a doubt excited about the growth that is to come with Gift With A Pink Ribbon. I’ve had such incredible support in the past few years, and I look forward to all that is to come.

So cheers, to accomplishing our goals, and adding new ones along the way! 😉

I hope that you are able to conquer them, and that they lead you down the path towards making your dreams come true.

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂

 

My letter of Thanks…

To those I have loved, hurt, made laugh, offended in some way, made cry, made sad, angered, disappointed, made proud, embarrassed, cared for, neglected and/or even taken for granted…. I thank you.

Thank you for forgiving and loving me unconditionally even though I had my faults, and helping me grow into a better person. Teaching me to forgive and love without holding grudges, just as you have done with me, and for allowing me to take care and assist you the way I knew best.

To those that have loved me, hurt me, made me laugh, offended me in some way, made me cry, made me sad, angered me, disappointed me, made me proud, embarrassed me, cared for me, neglected and/or even taken me for granted…. I also thank you.

I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to put into practice the choice I have to forgive, and to love unconditionally without holding grudges. And for my opportunity to practice allowing others to assist and care for me in the way they know best.

I thank those I have not yet met, that are reading this post right now, taking a moment in their busy day to read what I have put into words today.

I hope that on this Thanksgiving Day, everyone is able to find and express what they are most truly grateful for.

Tomorrow is never promised, but today can certainly be the day to make the most of this gift we call “the present”.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Plaza 😘💖🙏🏽

#feelingimmensegratitude #feelingblessed

 

And so the count down begins!

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Today marks 8 days before my reconstructive surgery, and while my expansion has taken much longer than I had originally anticipated, I couldn’t be happier with where I am today. My surgeon has been amazing throughout this process, and frequently reminded me to be patient, when what I wanted most was to be done with this phase in my journey.

 

Now that the day is just around the corner, I’m beginning to feel a bit anxious. Ironically enough, I don’t feel worried about the surgery at all. It certainly isn’t the first time for me, and I’m looking forward to feeling more comfortable with my new implants.

What I am feeling now however, subconsciously taps into a previous feeling. It’s a feeling of “loss”. The memory of having “lost” my natural breast a year ago is hijacking my brain, and is now reenacting that loss with the upcoming removal of my expanders. It’s an interesting observation, and I wonder if other women have or are experiencing this feeling of “loss” a second time around too.

IMG_6543
Keeping my body in motion until it’s time to recover…

 

Nevertheless, I feel extremely blessed to be here a year later, cancer free, and ready to move forward with my reconstruction. I plan to keep everyone posted with videos and posts so keep an eye out for my pre-op and post-op updates! 😉

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂

 

 

 

There are signs everywhere…

12238065_449477678577635_426028636529326597_oLong ago I read a quote by Melody Beattie that said…

“Remember the words you were told when this last adventure began, the words whispered quietly to your heart: Let the journey unfold. Let it be magical. The way has been prepared. People will be expecting you. Yes, you are being led.”

This resonated with me on so many levels. First, when I realized after being diagnosed with cancer that I wasn’t alone, and that those who came before me, had placed in my path an abundance of tools to help educate and guide me through the process.

I came back to this quote recently and the words, “let the journey unfold”, now made even more sense, when I took a leap of faith and started my nonprofit Gift With A Pink Ribbon, Inc. Everything I had gone through in my journey, and even in my new career, were tools to prepare me for my new venture.

Have you ever asked yourself, “why am I here” or “why am I going through this journey”?

I encourage you to “let the journey unfold”, by trusting the process and experiencing what may come of it. Sometimes the mere process of what you are going through, is preparation for something greater than you could have ever imagined. Embrace it, and with “the words whispered quietly to your heart”, manifest in your life what you are most passionate about.

 

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth ❤

 

You can find Melody Beattie’s, Journey to the Heart, on Amazon by clicking here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! 🙂

 

 

7 Month Treatment Update…

It’s hard to believe at times that it has been almost a year since having a double mastectomy. It’s also been close to 7 full months since I started my monthly Zoladex injections and daily Arimidex oral medication. Where does the time go?

While the journey hasn’t been all bad, I can safely say that I have spent more than 70% of the time struggling with the side effects. The most common side effects were swelling in my upper and lower extremities, major hot flashes, itching and changes of my skin, nausea, joint pain and most definitely mood swings.

I am now fully convinced that every woman going through menopause should be given her own superhero name! LOL 🙂

Lab results
My lab results from 1-22-16. On 7-16-15 my readings were…. AST-24, ALT-27 and LDH-130

It was about a week ago that I got the results of my lab work, which showed that my ALT and AST levels had increased significantly after being on Arimidex for only 6 months. On July 16, 2015, my ALT was at 27, AST at 24 and LDH at 130.

I’ve since stopped the medication while my Oncologist decides what alternate medication to place me on for my continued treatment, and was asked to have a CAT Scan of my abdomen.

 

This brings me to yesterday morning’s barium cocktail. I spent years handing out these bottles of barium to my patients, and it was only yesterday that I finally got a taste of what I was previously serving up.

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I will admit, the taste wasn’t horrible but, if I can make any one recommendation, it would be to chill the barium a bit before drinking it. It reduces the after taste significantly. (Please read storage temps prior to refrigerating, to avoid damaging the barium)

Other than that, the consistency and light flavoring tricks you into thinking you are drinking a smoothie so, bottoms up! 🙂

So what’s next you ask?

Chat before IV prep
A chat before the needle 🙂

 

Well… I arrived early to my 9am appointment and after going through my financial obligations, was escorted to a holding room, where I eventually changed out of my clothes and into more of those top designer hospital gowns I’ve previously sported.

Moments later, a kind gentleman nurse came in to prep my IV for the intravenous contrast that was needed for my CAT Scan. I thank god and all of my angels that watch over me for his skilled hand, as I barely felt the needle stick.

 

IV prep

 

After my IV was prepped, the technician performing my CAT Scan escorted me to the room where my exam would be performed.

 

It didn’t take long at all, thanks to advances in technology. Other than inhaling and holding my breath a few times, there really wasn’t much to it.

 

There is one tiny little detail I’d like to share in the event you have never had one of these tests done before. Once the iodine is administered through your IV during the last part of your scan, you may feel this rush of heat enter your body followed by this terrible sensation of having urinated on yourself. Please know that this feeling is normal. It has happened to me both times I’ve had a Cat Scan done and the feeling lasts for about a minute or so until it starts to fade away.

You may even get a funny taste in your mouth which is also normal. It happens to me even when they flush my IV with saline. Just make sure you drink plenty of water after your test to flush the iodine out of your system. 😉

While I anticipate my results will be just fine, I will know for sure sometime early this week, and will hopefully then find out what new medication I will be taking to continue my treatments.

Until then, I wish you all a Happy Sunday and lots of good health. 😉 ❤

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂

 P.S. Do you have suggestions of medications you’ve tried or want to share your experience? Please email me at elizabethplaza@giftwithapinkribbon.com. I’d love to hear about your experience and/or any recommendations you may have. 🙂

 

 

Why do we do this to ourselves?

I can’t deny that today was a tough run. In fact, it was more like a long walk with some running in between.

Once again, I found myself spending most of my time reflecting on how well I use to run, and beating myself up for not being able to run in the same way after so much time out of the running world. 

I don’t know why I do it to myself really. Each and every time I start from the beginning, I tell myself that I won’t compare my new accomplishments to what once was, yet after a few days of running, my mind always wanders back to those memories. In fact, it usually occurs when the going gets tough, like today, go figure. 

The same thing happened to me when I started working on my yoga teacher training certification just a few months back. All I could do was focus on the many things I thought I couldn’t do, and never once did I imagine I could accomplish all the things I have so far. 

Why do we do this to ourselves?

More importantly, “why do I do this to myself?” I can always manage to find the silver lining for others, but what about remembering to be kinder towards myself? About being genuinely happy with going out and being active, even if that means walking some of the way. This has always been a challenge for me, even through my journey with breast cancer.

 Nevertheless, what started today as a run ultimately ended up being a reminder. My goal for 2016 is not about “running 1000 miles”. It’s about getting out there and just doing what I can, even if that means walking the distance.

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂 ❤

A Survivors taste of the world…

If there is anything I’ve desired most in life, other then helping others, it’s been to travel the world. Earlier this year we had booked our tickets for Paris, my dream destination, but after being diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time and undergoing surgery, I had to postpone my trip.

As the year went by and I underwent one treatment after another, we realized that if we didn’t reschedule our trip prior to the years end, we would forfeit the money we had invested earlier in the year so, we booked our trip to Madrid, Spain for the Thanksgiving holiday.

12314110_453026501556086_5682738134371543505_nI couldn’t have been happier with the destination we chose. Madrid and Toledo, the two main towns we visited, were amazing. The architecture was breath taking, as was the history behind the structures and landmarks that surrounded me.

IMG_3908Of course, the food was also delicious. Especially theIMG_3909 typical Churros and Chocolate that I had at least once a day while there. 🙂

This trip inspired me once again to fulfill that desire to walk the last 100km of el Camino de Santiago de Compostela in the year 2016. It’s an experience of a life time and I feel I am finally ready to take on not just the challenge, but also humbly accept and appreciate what that journey has to offer me. I returned refreshed and in love with life, feeling no boundaries existed, even those I built in my mind, moving me into the next stage of my life…

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂 ❤