Thursday, August 14, 2014

When life gives you lemons....

I cannot believe it has been over 2 YEARS since I posted last!  Where does the time go? Let me see what I can remember (haha) that has gone on in the last 2 years...

"Cancer" recap:
  • March 2012: The implant that "exposed" was removed mid March 2012 leaving me "one-boobed" for what turned out to be a year and a half. 
  • Aug 2012: Had my ovaries removed  (Oopherectomy) to reduce/remove high levels of estrogen in my body as a pre-menopausal woman. 
  • Aug/Sep 2012: Began massage therapy to try to loosen up regain any elasticity in my left breast/scar area for re-implantation.  
  • Sep 2012: visit with my plastic surgeon confirmed that he is not comfortable cutting the radiated skin on the left again.  Referred me to Dr. Chris Taylor (Victoria) who does the DIEP surgery with a short"er" wait list. 
  • Dec 2012: Dad, Keira and I took the ferry over to the Island to see Dr. Taylor who agreed I am a candidate for the DIEP surgery, an 8-10 hour procedure that takes the skin and fat from my belly and transplants it into my chest to make new boobies.  Wait time approx 6 months! Recovery time is up to one year!
  • Jan 2013: MRI on my spine to rule out mets as I was experiencing tingling/numbness in my hand
  • Feb 2013: MRI results "all clear"
  • July 4, 2013: Lost a good friend, Shonna, to breast cancer
  • Oct 1, 2013: DIEP surgery to have my tummy fat and skin transplanted to make me new boobies
  • March 4, 2014: Lost another wonderful person, Beth, to breast cancer
  • June 2, 2014: Lost another wonderful friend, Vanessa, to colorectal cancer
  • June 28, 2014: Lost another friend, Sylvia, to brain cancer
  • July 22, 2014: My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer (partial mastectomy today!)
..and on a happier note, a personal recap:
  • Keira started preschool in September 2013 (graduated in June 2014)
  • Keira started to fully potty train in October/November 2013
  • After Oct, 2013 surgery, my new "girls" are doing great - next step is tattooing
  • Keira's first school Christmas Concert (check it out
  • March 2014, first camping trip of the year to Golden Ears (brrrr)
  • Bit of a car accident in April 2014 - working it out with chiro and massage
  • I turned the BIG 4-0 on April 28, 2014
  • Oliver and I got engaged in Whistler on April 29, 2014
  • Fire at our shop on May 26, 2014
  • On May 27, 2014, I celebrated 4 years "cancer free" 
  • Many camping trips this season so far - Chehalis, Gold Creek, Birkenhead, Leighton Lake
  • July 20, 2014 - Keira turned 4 and Oliver and I celebrated 6 years together
  • Aidan has gone off to Europe for 3 weeks on August 6.  He will visit London, Cardiff, Paris, Offenberg, Berne, Interlaken, Milan, Florence, Venice, and Rome before he travels back home on August 28th. 
  • Tear down of the fire damaged building at our shop today
Needless to say, never a dull moment.  We work every day to keep positive, and remember that everyday with air in our lungs is a good one.  I try to remember all that I have been through and that is what makes me who I am today.  Yes, I am a little heavier than I want to be.  Yes, things are very hectic.  But, I am blessed to get to spend each and every day with my daughter and help her grow into the little lady she is becoming! 

I will try to write more - and tell more of a story rather than a point form update of all the life events we go through day in and day out.

Love Kelly

Friday, March 30, 2012

My first "bump" in the road

Long time no communicate!  So sorry I have been missing in action.  After I last wrote in October, I have been plugging along and very busy with my little one.

I had surgery in January to remove the expanders and replace with the implants.  That procedure went very well and I healed very well - or so I thought.  I began seeing a lymphedema specialist who noticed that the radiated (cancer) side of my chest was getting increasingly more red so I rushed off to see my plastic surgeon who was on a plane to Maui that night.  He warned me that there was a possibility that the radiated skin would not hold the implant- and it looked like this was the start of it.  He bandaged me up and instructed no heavy lifting or physical activity involving my upper body. 

I carried on and on March 4th, I was knocked down hard with the chills and fever.  I was extremely sick and it turns out that the skin had opened up and the implant was now exposed.  My amazing plastic surgeon answered an email from me while on vacation in Maui to tell me that this is what he feared would happen, and it is now contaminated and needs to come out.  He got back from vacation on March 12th and I was in surgery on March 19th (again).   I am recovering now - but we are set back now about 6 months as we cannot begin any further reconstruction until this one heals.  I am also going to have to have skin grafting (alloderm) to repair the left side before we can even consider reinserting the implant.  Good times! 

Other than that, I saw my oncologist for my first follow up visit after chemo.  We are waiting on the results of my CT scan to rule out any metastasis because of the abdominal/ovarian pain I have been experiencing for a while now. We had a long talk and both agree that, in my case, an oopherectomy is a good thing to do.  My cancer was fed by estrogen so as long as I am pre menopausal and producing as much estrogen as I am, its not a great situation for possible reoccurence. This means I will have my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed - and with this means no more babies :( - and I will go into menopause literally overnight.  Those are some hard consequences to digest so I am crossing my T's and dotting my I's by talking to all the specialists and cancer doctors in this field to get all my options on the table. Again, good times!

On a more positive note - Keira is now 20 months and she is walking and talking up a storm.  She is just a doll and I am amazed by how intelligent and funny and creative she is every day.  We sing and we read and we laugh.  I couldn't think of a better way to spend my days than being an influence on my daughter's development.

Oliver and the business' are doing well.  We had a crazy January when the snow hit and Oliver worked 80+ hours over 5 days with almost no sleep.  He is a machine that man.  We got some great customer contracts this season - but unfortunately we didn't get that big snow fall we were hearing was on it's way.  We recently had our Kubota Front End Loader stolen, but thanks to the power of technology and word of mouth, and some good simaritan, the Langley RCMP received a tip of it's whereabouts not 24 hours after it was taken, and it is back in our possession and in the same condition it was when it "walked" away.  We are looking forward to spring and the sunny weather to help take things to a new level!

We are heading in to Burnaby today to wish a very good man a happy retirement from BCAA.  Looking forward to seeing all my BCAA family!

What's next for me? First and foremost, living, laughing and appreciating all that I have each and every day. In addition, plastic surgeon hopes to remove all stitches by next week.  Appt with a second oncologist on Apr 12 to discuss the oopherectomy further (second opinion).  Two surgeries to follow in the next few months. Physiotherapy to regain movement in my left arm. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hello from Maple Ridge

Wow, it's been over 2 months since I wrote last.  Where does the time go?

Since August, I have finally completed "chemo".  My last herceptin treatment, bloodwork, and oncology appointment was September 21st.  A whole flood of feelings and emotions has come along with finishing treatment.  It's like you go into "fight" mode when you are diagnosed with a disease like cancer, and you work your way through the treatment because you know it is taking care of business.  And one day, the treatment and the regular check ups stop, and it is pretty scary!  I am continuing with my naturopath treatments and daily dose of tamoxifen, but I am in a weird transition place.  I can't shake the thought that every ache or pain I feel could be cancer.  My next oncologist appointment is February 21st - and I'm hoping he will do some more scans/tests to put my mind at rest, even though I know the worries and paranoia will fade as time moves on.

My great friend Shelley recommended a perfect book - Picking Up the Pieces - and it is like someone climbed into my brain and wrote a book about this phase.  It is helping a lot, along with my Young Women's Cancerchat group that I attend online every week, and regular visits to the counsellor.  Someone once told me, "the climb down the mountain can be harder than the climb up!"  They weren't kidding.

I got word back from the genetic testing and it was not the best news, but not bad news either.  The results could have come back that I carry a mutated version of the BRCA1/BRCA2 gene(s), that I don't carry a mutated version, or there is a variable (meaning something in my genes they have never seen before).  Naturally, my results came back as a variable meaning they can't tell me if this variable is a genetic mutuation or not - and that leaves the results inconclusive at this time.  A confirmed genetic mutuation would mean that my daughter and my sister are likely carriers and have a greater chance of getting breast cancer (50%), and my chances of getting ovarian cancer increase dramatically.  Both Kim and Keira could be tested for the gene if my results came back positive - but since they didn't come back positive or negative, neither can be tested further. we wait and see if other genetic findings come up with the same variable as me so they can do further research and eventually, maybe they can confirm or deny the findings.

An ultrasound has determined there are non cancerous cysts on my ovaries.  In light of the inconclusive results that may or may not make my chances of ovarian cancer a higher risk, and these cysts, the decision now is whether or not I should have a hysterectomy/oovarectomy is on the table. This, of course, is a very permanent decision so I am going to contact the Cancer Agency in 6 months to determine if there has been any more research and maybe confirm or deny my results. 

I completed my last expansion last week.  This has been quite a long, drawn out, and painful process.  I started back in May and am just finishing now.  I never knew how incredibly painful this was going to be so I am quite glad to see this part of the journey come to a close.  After tomorrow, I wait for a few months to allow the skin and muscles to stretch and then my next appointment for surgery is January 9, 2012.  My Mom will come and stay with us after my surgery to help with my little munchkin!

..and on that much sunnier topic - Keira is now 15 months old.  Her red hair is coming in now, and she is babbling all the time, and saying quite a few words and sounds.  She starting walking last week so now she is non stop.  She is a very smart little girl - and her favourite word is "Oreoreo" (as she chases our cat, Oreo, down the hall).  We took her swimming to the Leisure Centre this past week and she loved the water. She also had her first visit to the ER as she fell and hit her eye on the fireplace hearth.  Does every kid have to do that?  Anyways, she was fine, no stitches or glue required (but Mom was a bit worse for wear!)

Me and my amazing team, "Kelly's Klique", walked the 5k CIBC Run for the Cure on Octber 2nd.  Thanks to all my walkers, and to those who donated to cancer research on my team's behalf, we raised about $1800.  It was very touching and the venue in Abbotsford was small and kind of intimate (compared to the Vancouver walk). We will, however, be back in Vancouver for the 2013 walk so keep October in mind!

Things are going well with our business - both Mullen Bros Landscaping & Snow Removal, and our newest venture - Albion Flats Landscape Supply.  We took over a Landscape Supply storefront property here in Maple Ridge and things have been running full tilt since then.  We are looking forward to a dry Fall for the Landscape Supply store, and a cold and snowy winter for Mullen Bros.   I never thought I'd ever WISH for snow but I am...sorry everyone!

Anyways, hope you are all well!
Love Kelly, Keira, Oliver & Aidan


Getting into everything...

Cruisin' at the pumpkin patch yesterday

Aidan, Keira and Mommy in the corn maze

Declan, Liam & Aidan

Aunty Kimberley

Keira and Daddy hand and hand in the pumpkin patch

Add caption

You should see the other guy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What a Weekend!

Hello to you all!  So sorry I haven't been writing much in my blog these days.  Things have ramped up in the busy department in the last few months.

An update since the end of June entry - 

I'll get the "c" stuff out of the way first - still going every 3 weeks still for herceptin treatment, and was going weekly to the plastic surgeon for expansions (reconstruction process), but it was getting really painful so we are taking some time away to let my skin and muscles stretch and heal.  I'll be back at the process in the beginning of September and then will have to let the skin and muscles heal some more before my next surgery which will probably be in November/December.  Not looking forward to another surgery, and the challenges of having a very mobile toddler, but we will make it.  

I'm also waiting to hear back from the genetic testing I've had done to determine if there may be a need for another surgery.  The genetic testing will outline if I have the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 (breast cancer) genes, and if I do my chances of getting ovarian cancer increase to 50% so it would be recommended that I have my ovaries removed if not a complete hysterectomy.  The chances of me having the gene are slim as we have no immediate family history of breast cancer and because of my age - but if I do have the gene the chances of my sister and Keira having it increase too so it is a bit of a stress waiting for that, but keeping positive. On the other hand, if I don't have the gene we may never know why I got cancer in the first place - and I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's just "luck of the draw".  I really can't call it bad luck because I have learned so much about myself in the past year - and I have met some AMAZING people along the way.  

I've been very tired but it's a combination of past and current treatments, training for my walk, and my little one.  Someday I will have some down time to rest - but not today :)

Now on to the rest of life -

Keira turned one and we had a big celebration at our house with all our friends and family.  There was a crazy amount of very generous people here to celebrate the little one's special day - and yes, she was very spoiled.  She is still not walking, but she can get from A to B pretty quickly with that crawl of hers. She gets in to just about everything, as we would expect of a curious 1 year old little girl.  She has been to music class and gym class and we see that she loves to dance.  She has this cute little shake shake that she does with her hips when the music is on - maybe we have a dance star on our hands :)

Oliver, the kids, and I have been camping at Golden Ears and Derby Reach so far this year.  This week Keira and I are off to Cultus Lake with my mom, sister, and my nephews, and Oliver and Aidan are off to Burkenhead. We hope to get another family camp in before the "summer" is over!

I am happy to say I just completed my 60k walk at the Weekend to End Women's Cancers this past weekend.  Not gonna was TOUGH but me, my friend Lisa and her hubby Barry, along with about 1000 other amazing people did the journey together.  We walked the beautiful streets of Vancouver and I'm a little sore and stiff today - but it's nothing I can't handle!  Keira and I did get interviewed and photographed for the 24 Hour Vancouver newspaper, and we were happy to see our smiling faces in today's issue.

Take a look -

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Plugging along

I always knew how fast time goes, but having a little one almost turning one - it sure makes it feel like the days and weeks just whiz by.  

Since I wrote last, we continue to be as busy as ever. I have been working through recovering from radiation - and started the reconstruction expansion process earlier this month. 
I have to say that this phase of the journey is definately taking the most toll on me. Not only is the expansion process very painful - I am tired, and I am now starting to allow myself to feel some of the emotions that come along with dealing with what we have been dealing with for the past year.  Sometimes I stop and think about it all, and am amazed at how much we have contended with in such a short period of time.  It is incredible, actually!  I'm also very mindful of the fact that in a few months time, "active" treatment and regular doctors visits will stop - and that is bitter sweet.  Going to the many appointments I go to makes me feel like we are still kicking any cancer out of my body - and the idea of stopping that is quite a lot to get my head around.  At the same time, I won't miss all the poking and prodding that goes along with the various appointments.  I just try to take things one day at a time, and am thankful for an incredible support system at both the Maple Ridge and Abbotsford Hospital - along with my good friends and family.

We had a great fundraiser on June 4th raising about $1600 - and add to that the $1600 in donations I have received on my website directly, together we have raised over $3000 towards breast cancer research.  I have split the money up between the Weekend to End Women's Cancers, and "Kelly's Klique" Run for the Cure - and as of today, Team Kelly's Klique has 8 registered members, and is #4 in the ranking for online donations! 

Our business is booming - and Oliver is doing a great job managing that.  I am so very proud of him.  If only we had more consistent weather, and more money - but we keep plugging along.  Rome wasn't built in a day.

And little miss Keira - weighing in now at 21lbs, getting longer/taller every day - and moving around like there is no tomorrow.  She will be walking in no time at all.  She climbs up on everything, and walks around using the couch and coffee table to help her along.  She is quite a ham, actually.  She has 5 teeth through, and other than one major diaper rash incident, she has been in great spirits.  I didn't even realize she had so many teeth through because she didn't really fuss about it.  She is such a good girl - and we are thankful for her every minute of the day. 

We are celebrating Keira's first birthday with a party and BBQ on Saturday, July 16th at our home (10891 249th St, Maple Ridge) so please feel free to come out for the day.  Party starts at 2pm and goes throughout the evening - we'll have hamburgers and hotdogs, salads, cake, pop and chips. If you want something else to bbq or drink, feel free to bring it along.  RSVP by July 10th if you can make it out.

Aidan is out of school next week - and we have some camping plans in the near future :)  Let's all hope and pray for some consistently warm weather - I don't know about you but having the heat on in June seems so incredibly wrong!! 

What's next?  Weekly visits to Abby Hospital for expansion for likely the next month; weekly visits to the naturopath; every 3 weeks to Maple Ridge Hospital to see the oncologist and get Herceptin treatment until October; training (if you call it that) at least 2 times a week for the 60k walk in August and the 5k walk in October; Keira's first birthday on July 20th!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Finally...some down time!'s been a long time since I sat down and wrote in my blog! 

May 4th was my last day of radiation, and I can honestly say this leg of my journey took the most energy out of me.  We have had a lot to contend with over the last 6 weeks, but we have made it through and are ready for a little downtime.  I am so very grateful for my friends and family for helping us through - we couldn't have done it without them.

Me getting ready for a radiation treatment

My radiation team of nurses - such amazing, kind women!
Now, I wait for the treated area to heal and meet with the plastic surgeon in the next few weeks to start the reconstruction process.  That involves a weekly visit to Abby Hospital to get saline injections.  The process takes about 4-6 weeks, and then about 3 months after my last injection, I go in for surgery again.  In the meantime, I will start tamoxifen, an oral pill that I will take for 5 years that interferes with the activity of estrogen in my body and helps reduce the risk of reoccurence.  I go for herceptin treatment this coming week, and will be asking my oncologist to get me booked for some tests and scans to make sure things are still "all clear". 

Things with our business are coming along nicely, despite the unpredictable and unreliable weather patterns.  We are specializing in laying sod, and Oliver and his crew do a fantastic job!  We'll be laughing when we finally get some long stretches of dry weather.

And last but certainly not least, our sweet little Keira is growing like a weed.  She officially crawled on May 11th, which ironically is the one year anniversary of my diagnosis so that was really special!  She is very determined and strong, and gets into most everything now!  She is a very independent little thing - and so low maintenance.  She still has only 2 teeth, but she is sure thinning out and getting longer.  We just love every minute with her - she is just the best!

Go Canucks Go!!

...and Go Bruins Go!!

My First Easter!

Can't wait to find Easter eggs with my brother next year!

Hello cheeks!

Hanging with the girls - Aunty Lo and Aunty Lilly

Keeping Mommy company at her last radiation appointment - she's kickin' it!

What are you doing June 4th? As most of you know, we are planning a fundraiser on June 4th at the Cat & Fiddle Sports Bar & Restaurant in Port Coquitlam.  We hope to see all of you there to enjoy dinner and a drink with proceeds going towards my fundraising goal of $2,000 by August for the Weekend to End Women's Cancers 60km walk.  Tickets are $12 and you can contact me by email ( or phone (604.477.2595) for more info or to purchase tickets.  If you cannot make it, but you wish to donate, visit my personal page at

What's next? Still going to the naturopath weekly and the hospital for herceptin every 3 weeks until at least October.  Reconstruction and tamoxifin start early next month.  Big weekend walk in August, and surgery after that... Things are coming along!

Hope everyone is doing well and looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the fundraiser!!

Love Kelly, Oliver, Keira and Aidan xo

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

10 down, 18 more to go!

Well, it's been a few weeks since I started radiation, and it is going as good as can be expected. The first session was pretty emotional as I was not sure what to expect - will it hurt? what is this radiation and what damage will it do to me? and of course, damn cancer! Once I got through that one, and the second one, I started to feel a bit more at ease. Now, when I go in I know the drill - lie down in the body mould, line up my chest with the coordinates from the oncologist - 3 blasts of radiation to my underarm area, 2 blasts to the right side of my left chest, and 2 blasts straight on my left chest and done. In total, I am in the room about 15 minutes - but with the commute from Maple Ridge to Abbotsford, it is about a 2 hour journey every week day until May 4th. Good times!

This week was a bit rough as I had my herceptin treatment at the hospital as well - and I still see the naturopath for treatment once a week so getting in to all those appointments has been a juggling act. All in all, I am feeling pretty good. Glad to have enough hair to finally keep me warm and do away with the hats. I am so excited to pass them on to the women in the cancer agencies who need them. It makes me so happy to give away the hats that kept me warm and feeling normal throughout that time in my journey.

Me & my girl!!

Oliver has been working the business when the weather is good - and he has been doing a fantastic job for his customers! I am really proud of how hard he works, and the pride he takes in his jobs. I love his determination and we are very excited at where things could go with this!

..and now on to our little girl. She is now 8.5 months old, has 2, maybe 3 teeth coming in on the bottom and is rolling over and really trying hard to crawl. It won't be long before she is moving around on her hands and knees - but for now she rolls from one side of the living room to the other to get to where she wants to be. She is a little ham, and is the love of our lives! She takes centre stage where ever we take her - especially to the cancer agency. Something about kids and animals that just make anyone smile so we are glad we can give a piece of our joy to those who need a pick-me-up.

My first St. Paddys Day!

Playing sure makes a girl sleepy!
What's next? continue herceptin and naturopath injections (until Oct); finish radiation; continue with the reconstruction process (next surgery in August/September); start taking tamoxifen (an oral drug I must take for at least the next 5 years designed to prevent the original breast cancer from returning and also helps prevent the development of new breast cancers). Getting that much closer to the finish line!

And last but not least, I am $600 towards my $2,000 goal for the 60km Walk to End Women's Cancers so please visit my personal page and make a donation. Let's find a cure for this thing before Keira grows boobies :)

Take care and keep healthy!