Thank you Kaliada!

I must admit that there is nothing more wonderful than receiving a card or gift via snail mail. Especially when that gift is from a complete stranger, with a note full of gratitude and encouragement. Whoa, where did that come from! 😀 ❤

In the package I recently received was a beautiful rose quartz cuff bracelet from an incredibly talented and inspiring young woman named Kaliada, and a special note too. I must say however that this particular note in itself was a gift.

Not only did Kaliada gift me one of her beautiful designs, she also took the time to make me feel incredibly special by acknowledging all I’ve done with Gift With A Pink Ribbon, and what I’ve gone through in my journey. The acknowledgement alone is a gift in my book.

What makes this extra special is that she herself has experienced cancer first hand, and through her very own journey discovered her gift for creating beautiful pieces of jewelry.

I admire her dedication to empowering women to feel beautiful and confident after cancer, regardless of their emotional or physical scars, and I love that gives back by sharing her own journey.

I am  humbled to have received one of her  pieces, and will forever be reminded of her kindness, and her incredible journey each time I wear it.

Thank you Kaliada for your heartfelt gift! I can’t wait to see all of your future designs! 😀

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth ❤ 😀

P.S. If you are interested in viewing Kaliada’s designs, you may do so by  visiting www.kaliada.com. There is currently free shipping on all orders over $100 and, you can also save %20 percent by using code: LOVE at check out! 😀 (This offer is valid until February 13th, 2017)

Off she goes…

feb-package-1The happiness I feel each time I mail out a blanket, is just to hard to express with words.

Tonight I just finished fulfilling another request, and I can’t wait till it reaches our special recipient in CT, USA.

All I’ve accomplished through Gift With A Pink Ribbon is a result of my own personal journey with Breast Cancer, and it’s nights like these that make me so grateful for that journey.

Through it I learned to take what I could have easily viewed as a horrible life experience, and turn it into something greater than me. A tool which I could use to support others, like those before me who provided a place for me to find comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone.

I never once thought my voice could be heard across the USA, let alone the world, or that I could make such an impact, and meet so many incredible people along the way; But I am truly humbled by this experience.

I hope that I can inspire you to do the same.  Your voice is waiting to be heard by someone who will find comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone in their crazy cancer journey because lets face it, it can get pretty crazy…

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

 

2016 GWAPR Annual Fundraiser

I can’t believe that a week has already passed since our Gift With A Pink Ribbon Annual Fundraising event in Naples, FL on October 27th, 2016. Where does the time go?

It was such an exciting night! 😀

I had the opportunity to reunite with people that have been such a big part of my life growing up in Naples, and was also able to meet so many new faces. I can honestly say that I am still blown away by the turn out.

Gift With A Pink Ribbon was able to raise almost $2000 that evening, with the help of all of our Sponsors and Supporters. Wow! 😀

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I definitely had big dreams for GWAPR when I first started the organization, but I am truly humbled to see how many people have come together to support my mission.

The reality is that, GWAPR would not be what it is today without all of the help and support of family, friends, colleagues, our wonderful volunteers and generous sponsors.

I am eternally grateful to the time and dedication everyone has put into making this dream a reality, and I look forward to touching more lives as GWAPR continues to grow.

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 😀 ❤

 

Are you interested in making a donation or learning more about our cause? Click Here! 🙂

 

 

Decisions, Decisions…

Before I talk about what is currently happening, it’s important that I bring you  up to speed with what has occurred over the last month. I’ve provided a brief summary below for your reading pleasure. 😉

  • I was informed in February that my AST and ALT exam (commonly referred to as liver function test) returned with abnormally high readings. I was then asked to stop my medications temporarily, to give my liver time to recover from the side effects of the injections and oral medication I was taking.
  • I also had  a CT scan of the abdomen, full body PET scan and pelvic ultrasound. The recommended MRI I was scheduled for, had to be canceled because of the type of expanders I have had in place since the start of my breast reconstruction. Unfortunately, the MRI will have to wait until after my expanders have been removed.
  • In March, I received news that my AST and ALT bloodwork exam had returned within normal limits. Yay! 🙂
  • During this past month, I had also scheduled my surgery to have the expanders removed, and replaced with my final implants. I’m nervous, but at the same time excited to finally be changing out my expanders, for something I am told is far more comfortable.

As you can see, a lot has happened since my last post, which brings me to present day.

This past week I received a call from my doctors office and essentially, the recommendations based on all that has occurred, are as follows…

  1. Resume my Zoladex* injections, and begin taking the Tamoxifen* I had taken once before prior to my second journey with breast cancer.
  2. Have a hysterectomy*, and as a result, not have to have the injections administered every month.
  3. Not take anything at all, and assume the chance of recurrence.

…

So what are my thoughts on these options?

Let’s take a closer look…

…

Option 1

My doctor suggested this option because she felt as though I may have had a recurrence of cancer, as a result of my not having had the Zoladex injections, while being treated with the Tamoxifen. This may be true, which in turn makes it something to consider. The medication has worked for so many of the women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and it could be a way for it to work for me too.

Option 2

This is one I have strongly considered however, my plastic surgeon is not willing to do two surgeries at once since I have had radiation treatment in the past. My risk of infection after the surgery would be much to high for him to even consider the option. Once again, I’m thankful for physicians that tend to play it safe, because I personally didn’t even consider this consequence, when suggesting a 2 in 1 surgery.

With this being the case, I will unfortunately have to wait a year or so for the hysterectomy, because it’s something I would have to plan around my work schedule. After some additional consideration, I think I’d also prefer to close one chapter in my journey, before opening another. Having a complete hysterectomy at this age, with no children, will have it’s own emotional challenges to cope with.

Option3

After realizing that the choice to not take any medications, does not resemble my white flag of surrendering, I began to reflect on my current way of life. The side effects of the injection, as well as what I have experienced with the Tamoxifen in the past, is more than I am currently willing to tolerate. This may be a bit selfish, but it’s been very difficult to deal with daily pain and inflammation, memory loss, severe hot flashes, emotional ups and downs, and to top it all off, a decreased libido at the age of 33!

I did after all experience a recurrence, even though my chances then were said to be slim to none, so why make myself miserable now for something that might not happen, or could still happen even with years of treatment?

And just for the record, I don’t blame my doctors for this recurrence. There truly is no way a physician can ever guarantee that cancer will not return when undergoing treatment, and it would be unfair for me to put that kind of pressure on such an individual. I ultimately consider myself blessed to have such wonderful doctors taking care of me. 🙂

So after what I hoped to be the shorter version of all that’s occurred, this is where I stand today; Confused and very uncertain of the “right” decision to make.

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The only thing I do know in this moement, is that my gut is telling me to live for today, and to for once stop thinking about the “what if”.

In other words, perhaps no meds for now,  followed by a hysterectomy in the future. At least this way, I can enjoy a better way of life for the time being and than later, decrease the chances of recurrence with the recommended hysterectomy.

That’s all for now, but until then…

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 😉

 

 

 

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to hear from you! Click Here to provide your feedback. 🙂

 

 

Helpful links

 

Information on Zoladex- http://www.drugs.com/zoladex.html

Information on Tamoxifen- http://www.drugs.com/tamoxifen.html

What is a hysterectomy?- http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments_and_procedures/hic_What_You_Need_to_Know_About_Hysterectomy

 

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. 🙂

 

 

The Honest Truth…

Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook by Judy C. Kneece I recommend this handbook to anyone currently going through their journey with Breast Cancer. It talks about everything from start to finish and is all very well explained. You can even take notes inside of it. :)
Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook by Judy C. Kneece
I recommend this handbook to anyone currently going through their journey with Breast Cancer. It talks about everything from start to finish and is all very well explained. You can even take notes inside of it. Very helpful during such a chaotic time.

Why do I blog?

A cancer diagnose will bring even the strongest individual down to their knees, regardless of the stage. It’s something we’ve all heard about but never really think will happen to us. The ugly truth however, is that it can happen and it changes your life in an instant.

After my cancer diagnoses, all I could think about was cancer. Before I knew it I was buried in articles and books, all relating to breast cancer.

I remember researching and stumbling across women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer but were far more advanced than I was. It made me feel blessed that I wasn’t as advanced, yet insignificant all at the same time. Like I was crying over spilled milk. Why couldn’t I find more women who were going through something similar and were willing to talk about it. I felt terrible talking about how I felt emotionally with someone that was worse off than I was. How dare I complain, right? Still, with that being said, I had a voice and needed to be heard. I had fears and needed to express them, but to who? Who would be able to understand how I felt and remind me that it was okay to feel that way?

This is why I wanted to take a moment and encourage you to please share your story. I never wish for anyone to feel the way I did, trapped and feeling guilty for being so sad. I promise you that you will be making a huge difference in someones life.

Breast Cancer Support Partner Handbook by Judy C Kneece I recommend this book to all the caregiver out there. You play such an important role in our journey and for that I thank you. <3 <3 <3
Breast Cancer Support Partner Handbook by Judy C Kneece
I recommend this book to all the caregiver out there. You play such an important role in our journey and for that I thank you.

This message goes out to the Caregivers too. Don’t think even for a moment that I have forgotten you.

You know first hand that caregivers need just as much love and understanding as the patient themselves do. Your insight might be just what other caretakers need to help get them passed a hurdle or two. Sharing your journey will also remind others that they aren’t alone. It will even help us, as the patient, better understand some of the struggles you go through.

I really hope that at this hour I’ve been able to really express just how important it is to share our experiences with one another. No story is to small, and no moment of sadness less worthy of a shoulder to cry on than another. This is why I blog…

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth ❤ ❤