Friday, November 1, 2013

This is it!

Today is the day!  I am having my final surgery!
I enter this with mixed emotions.
Excited to be at this point, can't believe it is finally here,
scared to be having surgery again, hopeful that the
outcome will be what I want, blessed to have an
incredible and amazing plastic surgeon...Dr. Mark Jensen
and the most fabulous husband who has been there
every step of the way.

Through this journey I have had to remind myself
that "Things will work out".
I believe in my doctor, I have faith that my
Heavenly Father is watching over me and
has a plan for me and I have tried to be happy.
I have been strengthened and comforted by
the countless prayers on my behalf. 

Dr. Mark Jensen is such a caring doctor.
This week at his office he held a lunch in honor
of those patients who are fighting, surviving or
are a previvor of breast cancer.
It was a great experience to be around all those
incredible women.  

Today is the final step in the reconstruction process.
Nine weeks ago I had my first surgery.
Due to an amazing recovery I am
able to have this next surgery so soon.
This is called the expander exchange.
The expanders will be replaced with implants 
(no more foobies!),
Dr. Jensen will do some lipo so that the fat may be
used to help contour and fill where I no longer have tissue.
I will also be receiving a mastopexy (lift).
It is a total makeover.  I am anxious to
see the final results. Dr. Jensen is excited
for this surgery and the outcome.
Recovery should be much easier and shorter.
I have been reassured that the worst is over.
There is always a worry about infection, rejection
or some other complication, but Dr. Jensen feels
that all should go smoothly.

What a roller coaster ride of six months! 
Can't wait to see my final results.

Thank you everyone for all the love, support,
prayers, cards, flowers, and food.
I have such fabulous friends, family, neighbors
and ward members.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The Future Belongs to the Brave


  [breyv]  Show IPA adjective, brav·er, brav·est, noun, verb, braved, brav·ing.
possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.
making a fine appearance.
Archaic. excellent; fine; admirable.

This is a word I have heard a lot over the last 6 weeks.
There are so many that are brave in their battles.
Whether it be fighting cancer, preventing cancer or
watching/helping a loved one fight.
I want to help spread the word to
fight, prevent and be proactive.

Barb was 28 years old when she found a lump in her breast.
She was diagnosed in October 2011.
Barb and her husband Brig made this video in December,
 shortly after Barb began her first chemo treatment. 

I got very emotional watching this video.
What an amazing, brave woman!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

One Month

It has been one month since my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (PBM).
What a mouth full!  At times I still can't believe I had surgery.
My recovery seems to be going really well.
The doctors are very pleased with how well my body has recovered.
At times I feel like it has been forever since surgery and at 
other times it feels as if time has flown by.

Here is where I stand to date...
~I have good days and not so good days. Each day
I am feeling stronger.  Some days I have more pain
and discomfort than others.  I think that will
be the story as long as I have the expanders...
darn Foobies!

~I have pretty good arm mobility.  I am still
limited in my arms reaching straight up.
So, I can't wear anything that goes
over my head. Only zip up or button up.

~I take daily walks.  My speed and endurance
are increasing, which is fabulous!

~I can not clean the house for another
two weeks. Poor Scott and Alec
who have to do it.

~I no longer have to have the expanders filled.
That is a very good thing.  It is painful
to have them filled with saline.
They are hard as rocks.

~I am now healing and waiting for the next surgery.
November 1st I will have my exchange surgery.
Woo Hoo! I can't wait for these expanders
to be gone! 

~I can drive.  Although I have only driven
very short distances.

~Scars look amazing! Very minimal.

~Sneezing still hurts.

~I still sleep propped up in bed.
Can't lay flat or on my side...Ouch!

I really can't complain about my recovery.
My surgeons are pleased and surprised with my progress.
Now it is a trial of my patience.  Even though I feel
great I have to take it easy and lay low.
The body is not ready to be back at 100%.

I am so grateful for all the prayers and service
 on my behalf. I feel so blessed and
 extremely fortunate.
Thank you everyone!

As always, KNOW your family history 
(ovarian and breast cancer),
EDUCATE yourself and be tested for BRCA.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

~2 weeks~

 ~Know your family history
~Get BRCA tested
~Knowledge is power
~There are options and we can choose what best suits us
~Be educated and AWARE

It feels great to be 2 weeks post op! Life right now
is based on little milestones.  Each day I feel better,
stronger, and more like myself.  I have learned so
much through this process.  I continue to read, study
and educate myself and family.  At some point Kenzie,
Jensen and Alec will undergo testing and it is my
job to be fully educated for them and myself.
It is scary, overwhelming and somewhat surreal when you know
you are positive for this gene, but how blessed we are to have
amazing medical advancements, doctors and options.

Two weeks was my magical milestone as I entered this.
At about day 11 I started to see major improvements each day.
~Day 7 - Saw Dr. Jensen (plastic surgeon)...tubes were removed
(he has never removed tubes at 1 week)
and my expander's were filled.  OUCH!  The filling of the
expander's felt like a semi truck was sitting on my chest.
It was hard to breath, everything felt as if it was being squeezed 
inward, I had the feeling that my chest was like bricks and
my ribs were hurting from the pressure.
It took about 2 days for things to calm down and each day got better.
Everything is measure in cc's...just like implants.
Expander's are much larger, harder and ridged than implants.
They are referred to as "FOOBIES".  hahaha!
~Day 8 - I was able to have my first shower.  AHHHH!
It felt so good.  I still needed Scott's help to shower,
dress and dry my hair.  Arm mobility was improving
each day.
~Day 10 - I showered myself!  This was a huge milestone for me.
It felt great to be able to do this.  However, my arms were still
limited and Scott had to help me shave and wash my underarms.
How great is he?!  He is the BEST!!
I started figuring out how to get in and out of the recliner myself.
Every little bit of independence felt awesome!
~Day 12 - I was now able to shower, shave, dry and dress myself.
I can also blow dry my hair.  Feels great!
Arms are getting much better...reaching straight up is the most
limited.  Walking each day and able to go a little further.
~Day 13 - Saw Dr. Tittensor (general surgeon) and
got a glowing post op review.  She was more than pleased
with my recovery and reconstruction.  It felt great to
have her so pleased and telling me that everything looks
amazing!  Yeah!!
Went to Costco and walked for about 15 minutes.
It was my first time out of the house and it felt great!
I was exhausted afterwards, but so happy.
~Day 14 - Another major milestone for me was being able to sleep
in our bed and I was able to do that at the 2 week mark.
Scott had to carefully pile some pillows so I could sleep on
an incline, but I made it through the whole night. YEAH!!

I feel stronger each day.  Working out hard before surgery helped immensely.
Reconstruction is coming along great.  It is uncomfortable and I can 
feel the edges of the expander's from time to time, but I remind
myself that this is only temporary.  "Foobies" are hard as rocks,
ridged and uncomfortable, but it is a small price to pay.
My cancer risk is now down to 3% chance.

I have comfort and peace.
Right now the goal is to be ready for implants by
the end of October. For now I continue to set little
goals for myself, work on my recovery and feel so 
blessed and grateful for all the help, meals, visits,
phone calls, texts, words of encouragement and for
an incredible husband and family who have been so
supportive and the best care givers a girl could ask for.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


This is my view from my home for a few weeks.  I am happy to report that I am on my way to recovery.  Here's a recap...

Wednesday - Checked in at the hospital at 11:00.  At 11:30 I was taken back to preop.  IV put in, hospital gown on, paperwork signed and we waited.  12:00 was scheduled surgery time.  Things were not running on time, but that turned out to be to my advantage.  At 1:30 I was wheeled into the OR.  Due to the lateness of everything Dr Jensen (plastic surgeon) was able to make it into the OR 20 minutes after surgery had started.  Which was fabulous! Both doctors were able to operate together and surgery was completed in 3 ish hours instead of the scheduled 5 hours.  
   Waking up was not fun.  I had the feeling as if an elephant was sitting on my chest.  So heavy and painful.  Pain meds were quickly given and pain was reduced.  Within an hour I was in my hospital room and trying to get my bearings on all that had happened.  Due to all the pain medication, that day and the next are still somewhat of a blur.  Scott and the nurse did try to get me walking that night and I could only make it a few steps before feeling like I was going to pass out.

Thursday - I awoke with a ravenous appetite.  Scott cracked up at what I ate all day...Ham and cheese omelet, toast, cheeseburger, fries, Italian Ice and more.  Crazy!  I felt pretty good.  Was able to go walking a couple of times, had a sponge bath, put on my own PJ's, brushed my teeth and had some visitors.
   I surprised everyone and was able to go home at 4:00.  That was exciting for me.  Little did I realize how medicated I truly was.  It felt good to get home.  

The weekend had plenty of ups and downs.  Friday I got sick from Percocet and found out that it was too strong for me.  Not fun!  Kenzie and Jensen washed my hair each day and that was quite the process.  Showering was tiring enough.  My recliner is set up in the family room, so at night I would text Scott when I needed to get up or take pain meds.  Neither of us got much sleep.   Last night (Monday), I finally slept all night.  It was glorious!  The weekend has been a roller coaster ride and I feel now that I have turned the corner on recovery.  

I am so appreciative for all the kind text's, phone calls, flowers, goodies and thoughtful gifts. Each of them have brightened my day and helped me stay strong.  Scott, Kenzie, Jensen and Alec have been AMAZING!  They have been there every step of the way.  I would not have made it through the weekend without them.  They kept me positive, helped me in and out of the recliner (yes, I can not even work the recliner), brought me whatever I'm craving, sat by me, watched my TV shows, helped me dress, shower and wash my hair and given me immense amount of support.  I am so very lucky!

Recovery has been a humbling experience.  I do not regret my decision for surgery.  The outcome is amazing and will only improve from here.  My doctors (Dr. Tittensor and Dr. Jensen) are the best!  It can only get better from here on out!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today is the day...

   The day has come.  It seems like we have been waiting for this day forever.  I have spent the last few weeks making lists, crossing things off the lists, enjoying my family and preparing mentally, physically and spiritually for this "BIG" day.  I feel prepared.

   I am so appreciative of all the prayers, fasting and temple attendance on my behalf.  I can say without a doubt that the calm, peaceful feeling I have and the strength I feel is a result.  I am at peace.  I was even able to sleep ALL NIGHT last night.  Amazing!!  I have had my share of a few anxiety attacks the last week, but they were short and fleeting.

   The house is stocked with food, freezer meals, and homemade cookies.  Laundry and ironing...done.  To do lists have been completed.  I purchased numerous "XL" button and zip up tops and bottoms to live in the next couple of weeks.  My parents brought over their recliner for me to live in while recovering.  Scott and Jensen are ready to wash and style my hair.  Apparently arm mobility is limited the first couple of weeks of recovery. So, I have tried to prepare for everything.

  Hospital bag is packed and ready...toiletries, new zip front sports bra (per Plastic Surgeons request), loose, new PJ's to wear home, slippers, socks (my feet freeze in hospitals), ipad loaded with books and TV shows from the DVR and of course a blow dryer for my hair.

   At noon today I turn everything over to my amazing team of doctors.  They are awesome! Dr. Jennifer Tittensor is my general surgeon and she is fabulous! Dr. Mark Jensen is my plastic surgeon and he is everything and more I could ask for or want.  I have complete confidence in my doctors.  They work together on a regular basis, they have performed this surgery numerous times before and I know they will do all that is necessary and best for me.

   A HUGE Thank You to family, friends, and my doctors.  I love each and every one of you.  I am ready to move this journey forward and start the recovery and reconstruction process.

   Lots of love, gratitude and thanks!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


                  this is the story of my journey with BRCA testing, results and my ongoing journey

  Almost 2 years ago my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 39.  Due to her young age and the type of cancer, the surgeon requested to have all extended family members participate in genetic cancer testing.  About a year and a half ago my father got tested and found out that he was BRCA 2 positive, as was my cousin and her sister.  Due to my father's positive results I needed to be tested.  I had a 50/50 chance of being positive.

  With the relocation to Utah I was not in a place to deal with the testing and results, until May of this year.  Angelina Jolie had already made public her testing, surgeries and feelings. It was a "HOT"topic of the moment.  On May 28th I went to the surgeon for my BRCA test. I was nervous, had a lot of questions, but ultimately I was pretty confident that I would test positive and wanted to know what my options were.  

  BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 is a gene mutation that produces a hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome for affected family members.  Testing positive also puts you at risk for prostate,  cervical, uterine, pancreatic, stomach, gallbladder, colon, bile duct and melanoma cancers.

  In July, I received the news that I was positive for the BRCA 2 deleterious mutation.  The surgeon explained to me that I had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer before I was 70. It was no longer a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN. 

  The good news is I had options.  It was up to Scott and I to decide what option we wanted to choose.  1st option: I could have screening every 6 months consisting of MRI's and mammograms and take tamoxifen (cancer drug). This option felt like I would be waiting for the cancer.  2nd option: Undergo a Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy and reconstruction. With this surgery I would go from an 87% chance of getting breast cancer to a 97-99% chance of not getting breast cancer. 

  So many things to consider...
I was still fairly young.
My kids were young and I wanted to see them grow, marry and have kids.
I would be a nervous wreck every 6 months doing testing.
Could I emotionally and physically handle such an aggressive surgery, recovery and reconstruction?
What were Scott's thoughts and feelings?
I needed to discuss this with Kenzie and Jensen.

  Emotions ran high for awhile. I couldn't talk about it without breaking in tears. It occupied my mind constantly. There was definitely an "elephant" in the room.  Through much discussion, pondering and prayer, We came to a decision as a family.  I am immensely grateful for a faithful, strong and courageous family.  This is truly a family journey and I couldn't do any of it without them.

  When Scott and I went to the appointment with the general surgeon we had made up our minds which option we would choose.  On  August 28th I will be having a Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy with reconstruction.  This will be my first of two surgeries. Hopefully in 2-3 months I will have had my second surgery and be completely on the road to recovery.

  For me, this surgery is what gives me peace of mind.  I feel at peace about this.  I know there is a long, hard road ahead, but I am willing to sacrifice so that I can have a leg up on this horrible cancer.  I am starting to feel anxious and nervous about the upcoming surgery, but who wouldn't? 

  I can't help but be reminded about some of my "mottos" from year's past...
We Can
Hard Things!

It Will
All Work Out!

  This has been a tender mercy in our lives.  We have felt blessed through out this whole process.  

-12.5 % (1 out of 8) American women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in their lifetime; as women age this percentage will increase.
 The risk is higher for women who:
-Are carriers of the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 deleterious mutations genes
-Have strong immediate family history of breast cancer
-Breast tissue density is high
-Personal history of breast cancer

Prophylactic Mastectomy:
-Surgical removal of one or both breasts
-For women who are at high risk to prevent or reduce the risk of breast cancer
-Current data suggests that preventive mastectomy may significantly reduce (by about 90%) the chance of developing breast cancer in moderate and high risk women.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Officially a Teenager!

Oh, Man I LOVE this boy!!!

I can't believe that today he is turning 13!!
He completes our family.
It is fun to have a boy and all that comes with him.
From wearing his sisters cap at BYU graduation.

To watching him play Lacrosse in freezing Utah temps.

Being the cool guy on the golf course.

And watching countless basketball games.

Alec is a blessing to our family.
I can't imagine what our life or family would
be like without him.

1. Always gives me hugs and tells me he loves me.
2. Loves to hang out with friends.
3. Enjoys reading a good book.
4. Great student.
5. Hilarious/sarcastic sense of humor.
6. Adores his sisters and spending time with them.
7. LOVES Lacrosse
8. Sour candy is his favorite.
9. Always asks for pasta on his birthday.
10. In 'N Out is a close second.
11. Can't get enough of his iphone or music
12. Is an amazing example
13. Loves to play jokes on people

Alec is a great young man!
He has always been my little shadow and buddy...
don't ever stop!

Alec,  you were always a fun, smart and nice little boy.
You have become a remarkable Young man!
We LOVE you and are so proud of you.

Lots of Love,
Mom and Dad

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy 18th!


So hard to believe that 18 years have flown by.
Jensen has brought so much life, fun, and humor
into our family and lives.

Jensen was such a tiny baby when she was born.
Kenzie adored her baby sister right away.
The girls have always been lucky to
have one another.

What I love about Jensen:
1. Her determination
2. Strong Values
3. Love of dance
4. Academic Achievements
5. Sense of Humor
6. Friend to everyone
7. Loyal
8. Intense love of Fashion
9. Her ability to laugh at herself
10. How she can remember facts or tidbits
11. Movie quotes
12. She can lighten a mood
13. Love for the gospel
14. Selfless
15. Loves to cook and bake
16. Will share with all
17. Positive outlook
18. Amazing blue eyes

I am blessed to be Jensen's mom.
Jensen has always accomplished whatever she
has set out to do.  She lets nothing stand in her
way.  As a young dancer, she would set her
sights on a role and would work 100% +
to accomplish it. I have always
admired that about her.

Our family is so lucky!
Jensen, I am so proud of you!
You are a beautiful, smart,
and gifted young woman.

Happy, Happy Birthday!
Lots of Love,
Mom and Dad

Friday, April 5, 2013


Happy Birthday!

Twenty years ago today I delivered my first baby.
The sweetest baby girl ever.
Mackenzie is a joy and a blessing in our lives.

1. She is loving
2. Loves to read
3. Hard worker
4. Caring
5. Observant
6. LOVES children and they love her
7. Strong testimony
8. So Smart
9. Pitches in when anything needs done
10. The best Big Sister
11. Loyal
12. Holds on to her convictions
13. Love her sarcasm
14. Amazing Teacher
15. Tender heart
16. Loves the gospel
17. Beautiful
18. Great eye for photography
19.  Great baker
20. Loves to watch movies

I am so lucky to be Mackenzie's mom!
Mackenzie is an amazing daughter and woman.
I am proud of her and all of her accomplishments.

Happy 20th Birthday Mackenzie!
We LOVE you!
Mom and Dad

Thursday, January 24, 2013


The last couple of years my "word" for the year
has centered around doing hard things and
all will work out.
With the commuting and relocation behind us
I decided it was time to to truly

This year I will focus and work hard on
being happy...with the little things, the big hurdles,
my family, accomplishments, the gospel, the amazing
YW and women I get to serve with, the beauty that
surrounds me and most importantly with

This quote is perfect for me to remember.
Life has worked out, and now it is time
to embrace life, and be happy.

I am blessed beyond measure.
I am thankful for all that I have been given and
continue to receive.
2013 will be a great year 
full of much happiness!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

23 years!

Happy Anniversary!

23 years ago on a snowy day in Boise, Idaho.
Scott and I were married for time and all eternity.
We have moved 14 times in the last 23 years.
Had numerous jobs.
And produced this lovely family.

Happy Anniversary Scott!
I love you!
You are my best friend, a fabulous father and 
a great provider.

Here's to many more years!