Monday, December 30, 2013


So the past week has been pretty unadventurous. I started the third trimester of my pregnancy which compounds my tiring easily so each day Ellie and I take a nap together. I have also been trying to increase the range of motion in my left shoulder, which is very uncomfortable and paired with the aches and pains of being pregnant has made me a little cranky.
The most challenging thing for me right now is the waiting. I have no idea how chemo will effect me, as it effects everyone differently. Being a major planner it is frustrating not being able to make plans as I have no idea how I will be feeling; will I be achy, tired, nauseated??
Rather than sit and dwell on the things I cannot control, I'm trying to let go. Trying to be productive while I feel good, playing tea party and legos and princesses and enjoying this time with my family before school starts again and Sam is not home.  With that I "Let It Go"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

So for Christmas this year I got two great presents!

 #1- My drain came out! Let me just lay it was the worst part of surgery and has been the bane of my existence the last 10 days.  I wasn't scheduled to get it out until the 8th of January which would have been pure torture.

#2- I have my first Chemo treatment scheduled! On January 10th I will receive my first round of TAC Chemo. This means I will take a steroid the Thursday, Friday and Saturday to help prep my body. I will receive the three drugs (Taxotere, Adriamycin, and Cytoxan) through my port over the course of 3-4 hours at the hospital. I will then follow up for the next 7 days with a daily shot to boost my white blood count. I will have one treatment every three weeks with the hope of getting 2 for sure possibly 3 in before baby is here in March.

Thank you all for your continued love and support! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!
Sherif Ellie is watching out for you!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Attitude is Everything

So many of you have been asking/wondering about my extremely positive attitude.Years ago a very wise woman shared a quote with me on a retreat "The attitude you're using, is the attitude you're choosing" It has stuck with me for many years and when I am in a crappy mood I will often remind myself of this mantra.

Some of you have most likely heard of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's 5 Stages of Grief, and yes I journeyed through all 5.

Denial- When the Dr. first said that my biopsy was positive for cancer I remember thinking I didn't hear that right, but when he followed up with the "You will have surgery on the 13th" it was a little more real. The next two weeks were a bit of a blur with updating people, dr. appointments and lots and lots of research. When I got the call on the 12th for my check-in time, I was at Costco and broke down on the way to the car as it became very real that I had cancer and was going to have a mastectomy at 33.

Anger- My anger was never directed at a person, but more the situation and lack of control I had. Within minutes cancer had potentially stolen my time, my left breast, my immune system, the ability for me to breastfeed Baby Sager, and generally life as I knew it. This would make anyone angry, but I quickly decided that it could not steal my joy and passion for living my life. (see the acceptance part for how I reached that conclusion)

Bargaining- This was a fleeting moment as while doing research I quickly remembered all the times I had heard of a young child with cancer and had tried to bargain with God to spare Ellie and if anyone had to battle, it should be me. Now I don't know if this pleading has anything to do with my situation but it enabled me to be thankful that it was not Ellie, but me who would have to fight this.

Depression- So this lasted about 8 hours. On the Saturday after my diagnosis we were up at my in-laws to decorate (They live on Thoroughbred in Alta Loma). The family was treating me like I was crippled, I couldn't lift anything, couldn't climb the ladder, in essence, I couldn't help. So I went inside and had my pity party. I was tired from only having about 4 hours of sleep the night before and feeling sorry for myself for so many things. I wallowed in self pity and pretty much had a miserable time. And then....

Acceptance- After a full day of decorating (and it was almost time for the USC-UCLA game) the family came in and Ellie was covered in dirt from head to toe. I looked at her and realized that she had played so hard and had a wonderful day and I completely missed it by feeling sorry for myself. It was then I decided that I couldn't let cancer take anything else from me, especially anything meaningful. It was then I decided to put on my big girl panties and live my life and be as proactive as I could with my treatment plan. Even though I can't control the cancer, I can control how I deal with it. I also realized that my three-year-old needed me and I have to be her role-model for how to face adversity.
When we got home that night I told Sam that I was going to start a blog and post what was going on, on Facebook.

My goal of this blog is to help educate people about cancer, because lets face it most of us know that it sucks, we know that it is bad, but other than that we really don't know about it. We hear stories about things that will help prevent cancer and things that can cause cancer but really and truly cancer doesn't care about any of that. This video offers a great visual of cancer cells at their finest.
I also have a vast support system, and while I don't mind sharing the same information repeatedly, it is way easier to type it once and share it so that everyone gets the same info.

Friday, December 20, 2013


I had my follow-up appointment with the surgeon yesterday and got the full pathology of my tumor.
Here's what we learned
    - The surgeon got all the tumor :) (with good margins!)
    - The tumor measured 5.2 cm and was classified as a invasive ductal carcinoma
    - Of the 12 lymph nodes he took by the tumor 9 came back positive.
    - Of the 6 lymph nodes he took based on feel (if they were enlarged he took them out) all 6 came back positive
    - Because 15/18 came back positive I will be going through radiation after chemo.
    - Based on the size of the tumor and the lymph node involvement, they have staged me at stage 3
    - I can shower!!!!! Hurray!!!!!
    - I have to have my drain in for another 2 weeks :(

I also had an appointment with my new OB which went really well. Everything looks good and baby is measuring just as s/he should. I got my glucose test out of the way as well as my blood draw for the genetic testing.

I see my oncologist again on the 24th to decide when I will start Chemo.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Meg vs Cancer-Round 1

On December 13th, 2013 I went in to Kaiser, Fontana for a Left Modified Radical Mastectomy and a right port-a-cath placement (I had to say that several times to various people checking that I was the right person getting the right procedure). As we walked into the area where I needed to check-in my surgeon was there and let me know that they were running ahead of schedule.
I checked in, was processed and then seen to pre-op where they gave me a lovely purple paper gown to wear. A short time later I was introduced to Tiana, who would be Baby Sager's nurse for the entire procedure as well as 4-hours post surgery.
Because of baby Sager I did not get the traditional sedative that they give in pre-op to make sure you are asleep before you are wheeled into surgery, so I got a behind-the-scenes look at the OR and got to say hello to all my nurses. My surgery officially started at 1:13 ( lucky number)
My surgery was slated to take 90 minutes but the tumor was partially covered by a muscle so the Dr. had to snip the muscle to get the tumor and then sew me back up, also my veins are small so the port-a-cath placement took a little longer than anticipated. So when all was said and done my surgery took closer to 2 hours. Baby Sager did great, and was very excited when I got to eat around 7:00pm.
I was finally able to see my family at around 6:00 when I was moved to a room in the new hospital and was FINALLY able to drink some water, I was soooo thirsty! Due to low census, they cleared the wing I was on, so I was moved to a bigger room on the top floor for the night. My nurse, Karen, was amazing and I did my best to sleep which was made difficult with having to get up to pee about a million times.
Around 11 am the Dr. gave the OK for me to be discharged which meant actually leaving the hospital around 12:45 and getting home a little after 1. My Mom brought us lunch and my MIL brought Ellie and Princess home. Ellie's comment was "woah! that's a big booboo Mama!"  We were able to snuggle on my right side. I had a pretty mellow evening with some friends coming over to watch "White Christmas" with me and then had a really good nights sleep. Tylenol has been a great help in managing my pain and discomfort, the on-Q pump is also helping keep the surgery area numb.
I have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon on Thursday when I will hopefully get the pathology on the tumor and the results of my nodes.
Thank you all again for all of the wonderful cards, notes, messages and calls. Your support has helped me more than you could ever know!!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Waiting Game

So today was my last day at work for a while. I had students I have never seen before coming into my room to say goodbye and give me a hug. My awesome co-workers all wore pink in support and sent me off in style with loads of books, gift cards and lots of love, prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery.
I had one appointment yesterday- my pre-op which was basically a yep you're having surgery on Friday and signing the consent for a left modified radical mastectomy and a right port-cath placement.

I had two appointments today (making it 9 appointments in 12 days).
The first was with a high-risk OB Dr. who was great at ensuring me that baby was going to be just fine and that he would be monitoring baby's growth on a monthly basis through ultrasound. This will be in addition to my regular OB appointments, for which I was able to get a new Dr. :)
My second appointment was with my surgeon to go over any other questions I had about surgery.
Now I just wait...
     Tomorrow will be a trip to Nordstrom's to be fitted for my prosthetic bra, a trip to my district office to get all my disability paperwork figured out, an appointment to get my haircut and taking Ellie to the dentist.
     Thursday will be last minute errand running and waiting for the phone call to tell me what time I need to check in for surgery. Until then, I have some amazing pictures of Baby S to stare seems we will have a thumb-sucker with this one...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Battle Plan

So after a variety of appointments today my course of treatment is set!
On December 13th I will be undergoing a modified radical mastectomy of my left breast. This means that they will go in and take out my lymph-nodes and breast tissue but leave the muscles intact. My recovery time is expected to be 2-3 weeks during which time I will have two drains and will have a 5 lbs lifting limit. They will install a pump which will administer some numbing meds to keep me comfortable for the first few days and I will be able to take some pain meds. As part of the surgery they will also be putting in a port-a-cath that will be used during chemo. Depending on the time my surgery is scheduled for (I will find out on Thursday 12/12) I will either go home the same day or the next morning.
I will have several follow up appointments but the most notable will be my appointment on 12/24 with the oncologist. At that time he will look at my incision and determine when we will start chemo. I will undergo 6 rounds of TAC (Taxotere (docetaxel), Adriamycin (doxorubicin), and cyclophosphamide) which will be given to me every 3 weeks for a total of 6 doses. This means I will have 1-2 treatments before baby is born and then have the remaining 4-5 after baby is here. After that we will discuss radiation treatment.
I have a consult with a high risk OB on Tuesday to see if he will take my case.
My last appointment of the day was with genetics. This meeting was very informative. We found out that the BRCA 1&2 mutations express themselves on different chromosomes. I have the testing kit and the next time I go in for blood work will have them take the extra vials for the testing. (I was already poked once today and didn't feel like getting poked again). Once we get those results we will decide if I will take further action or not.
Feel free to comment, email or message me with any questions.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Support Systems

I have been completely overwhelmed with the amount of support and encouragement we've received the last few days! It is because of my many families that I have been able to remain upbeat and somewhat calm about the whole situation.
My Family- from aunts, uncles, and cousins both near and far I've had loads of offers for meals, babysitting and even to come stay with me and help change bandages! My Hamilton family has always been strong in the face of adversity and Sam's family (Sagers and Tidswells) has been the same, so getting us all together is a force to be reckoned with.
My Friend Family- The outpouring from our friends has been amazing! When Sam and I got married his friends and my friends became our friends which has lead to an abundance of love and people checking in on us. So many of you have become a part of our family, to the point of Ellie calling you aunt and uncle. We love and appreciate each and everyone of you and feel honored to call you our friends.
My Serrano Family- I feel like I've grown up with so many of you (I suppose technically I have seeing as I first subbed at Serrano almost 10 years ago!) Knowing that I can go to any of you for anything at any time is invaluable. Few people honestly love going to work each day, but I have to say as crazy as teaching can be, knowing that I work with the most amazing, kind, generous and authentic people makes those tough days so much easier. I love the fact that even though some of you have moved to other school sites or retired, you are still considered a part of our Serrano family.
My AVID Family- So four days after my diagnoses, I went down to La Quinta (with my Amazing Serrano AVID Team) for the AVID Site Team Conference for two days. All of the wonderful people I have met through being an AVID Coordinator the last few years were quick to offer any kind of support and help they could.
My Thirty-One Family- These girls are amazing! I have seen several of you out and about this week and it has only reaffirmed my decision to stick with selling Thirty-One. I know you all have my back and will help me in whatever ways you can.

To the rest of you reading, if we have never met, most likely you are part of one of my support system member's support system. Thank you for being there for them.

As we embark on this journey together, please know that I appreciate and value each and everyone of you and though I may lag behind on replying to e-mails, texts or voicemails, or even get behind on updating the Blog, I know that you are there, thinking of us and wishing us the best.

Monday, December 2, 2013

On the Road to Clarity

So we (Baby S and I) had our first appointment at Kaiser Fontana today. We met with the RN in the Breast Care Clinic to go over a ton of information, I brought my entourage which included both my parents, my mother-in-law and Sam (my hubby). It was a good thing I had so many extra sets of ears because I sure got a lot of information.
We know that I have Adenocarcinoma and it is Triple-negative. It will respond best to Chemo, my tumor is about 4.2 cm. (smaller than I originally thought). Staging is not an option right now because it requires radiation which is off limits as long as Baby Sager is in residence.
I found out about wigs, reconstruction, the port-catheter, support groups, disability, recovery, protheses, and got lots and lots of reading materials. Plus the nurse we met with is going to work on finding me a new OB who is interested/willing to take on my case, so I don't have to fire my old OB, she'll do it for me :)
I also now have an oncology appointment on Friday as well as a genetics appointment. The first is where will we find out exactly what course of treatment we will go down, the second I will find out if I carry the BRCA mutation or not (Angelina Jolie doesn't seem as crazy to me now).
The one thing that was clearer than anything today was what amazing co-workers I have! When I got to work today someone had copied my motto, laminated them and put them in all teacher's boxes. One thing I know I will not have to worry about is my students while I am out (Baby and I don't need any extra germs...and as most of us know middle schooler's don't have the best hygiene habits) as my fabulous Serrano team will ensure they are in good hands.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


The beginning of October, I noticed a small lump in my left breast that was tender to the touch, it was the same spot where I had mastitis while nursing Ellie three years ago, so thought it was related to that. I mentioned it to my OB at my October appointment anyway and he said he would order an ultrasound. After the appointment I got a call from the radiology department that my Dr. had put in for a mammogram and they don't do mammograms on pregnant women. So, they canceled the order and requested that he put in another, which he did...for another mammogram...I was finally able to get an ultrasound appointment on Tuesday, November 26th. After the ultrasound the Dr. who saw me ordered a biopsy of both the lump and the lymph nodes as well as a mammogram. Let me just say it is cruel enough to smash a pregnant woman's sensitive boobs for a mammogram but it is even worse to slice them and then do it.
I had been told that I would hear in about a week from a surgeon to go over my results... I got a call on Wednesday, asking if I could come in on Friday. Sam and I left Ellie with the grandparents and went to my appointment, thinking it was something related to the mastitis in 2010. When the surgeon came in he very calmly stated that the biopsy came back positive for cancer, in both the lump and the lymph node.  Sam and I looked at each other in shock, the Dr. then continued to outline the plan... As of right now I have two options for the surgery scheduled on the 13th of December
1) Have a modified radical mastectomy and insert a port-catheter for chemo
2) Just insert the port-catheter
All the research I have done says that 1 in every 1,000 pregnant women get cancer and that most Dr's will only ever see 1 maybe 2 cases in their entire career. So I have done lots of research and am prepared with case studies and journal articles if necessary. We still have not set an official course of treatment but from all the research Sam and I have done- which if you know us you know it has been extensive in the short time we have had- there are certain chemo drugs that will be safe for baby, I have already found a support group on Facebook with mama's who are pregnant and undergoing cancer treatments.
I have appointments scheduled for
- Breast Care Clinic Monday 12/2
- Pre-Op Monday 12/9
- Q & A with my surgeon 12/10
- Surgery 12/13
I will still be scheduling an appointment with Oncology sometime before the 13th.
Here are the things that we know as of right now
- I have triple-negative breast cancer which means that hormone therapy is not an option
- We will do everything possible to carry Baby Sager full term (at least 37 weeks)
- I have an amazing support system!
- This is going to be my motto