Friday, October 21, 2011

2 for the price of 1 today!

Today I have 2 wonderful guest bloggers. You know how sometimes emails disappear? Well that's what happened this week so I never posted Tuesdays guest blogger post. So today I have 2 treats for you.

First is Vicki with a special tote bag that she made for her Mother-in-law. She also shares her story of her own scare with this disease. Vicki doesn't have a blog so if you want to leave her a message just leave it on this post and I will forward it to her. I know she would love to hear from you.

The Second is Laura Lok of The Weekend Photo Warrior. She has a great way to remember to get your pair checked. You will not want to miss it! So make sure you read the second part of this post. And please check out her blog, she just completed a 5K run for the leukemia and lymphoma society.  The web sites for today are listed in Laura's post.

Breast Cancer Tote for my Mother-in-law

Hello everyone ~ Thanks for checking my project. I will say up front that I am sorry but the pattern is one I cannot give you. It was one a woman on a message board a few years back offered to those reading. She did not have a website either and you had to request via email.  I will suggest you use any other tote pattern from another person as hers turned out a good bag but wow, was there some very bad words coming from my sewing room while constructing this thing. LOL

Anyway, my MIL was diagnosed with breast cancer and because it is known to run in their family she decided she wanted to move ahead with what she considered would be the inevitable and had the mastectomy. She had a really hard time while undergoing the chemo and radiation treatments as most do. It was hard for everyone in the family of course and for me it was something that brought back some sad memories and huge concern for her as well. My mother died from cancer in 1982 when my son, her first grandchild was just 2 months old and then my father was lost to cancer as well about 8-9 yrs ago. Watching both my parents deal with the struggle of slowly dying from cancer really affected me although neither of them had breast cancer. It did help me know my MIL would need a lot of support from us but we were 4 hours away from them which was really hard. We drove to the hospital for her surgery to keep my Father-in-law company and so she could see her only child, my husband right after surgery to make her smile.
Before she finished all her treatments she found another large lump on her other breast which was obviously devastating since she’d been dealing with being so sick and losing her hair and that that goes with fighting breast cancer. The doctor wouldn’t do anything for her until she finished the last of her treatments as she was almost done and then needed to rebuild her system back up again before they could do any surgery because she was just too weak at that point.

Once she had built her system back up again she wanted to just go after it again and have the 2nd mastectomy.  This time though she saw the plastic surgeon prior to the surgery so that could be set up for her as well as she decided she wanted to have reconstructive surgery at the same time. The day came and I knew this time I wanted to make something for her to make her smile since we once again were going to be there for her surgery. I had been lucky enough to buy a Viking embroidery machine a few years before and had just seen a wonderful Dolly Mama Breast Cancer machine embroidery design from an awesome digitizer so I knew right away I had to buy that and use it on something for her. I decided I’d make her a super cute tote and use the design on it and fill it with goodies for her. During the weeks’ prior to us going anytime we were out shopping I’d buy anything cute that I saw which was pink. Then on my trip to buy my bath gel from Ulta Cosmetics, I saw the pink shower gels and a pink scrubby so I bought her those as well as some pink hand cream which matched the scent.  I packed that tote full of goodies including, of course lots of  Ghirardelli chocolate of all types but for sure the raspberry filled Ghirardelli chocolate bars. She loved the bag and all the goodies.

Every time we spoke for weeks and weeks she would tell me how much she loved her tote and how she was always having people stop her to ask where she got it. In fact, she told me while still in the hospital that she practically had to sleep with that thing because every nurse or lab person that came into her room threatened to steal it while she was sleeping and many asked if she could take orders from me to make more. Had that pattern been a lot better I may have considered that but I had already told her how many problems that gave me making it and that she can be proud she’s got an original one of a kind tote as I would NEVER make another of that pattern again in my life. Lol 

noooooooo. Not only did she get a fabulous one of a kind tote/purse BUT she got the bonus of that also being a one of a kind defective tote/purse as well. HA Then one day a few months later she admitted to me she’d ripped the top part open to fix the handles. OH DUH! HOW STUPID I WAS! Instead of placing each handle on its own side I had sewn them from one side to the other across from it and never gave it a second thought while doing it. I just knew something just wasn’t quite right. So now you can all laugh at that as you check out my pictures taken of the tote. It really did turn out beautifully, even with the slight defect which thankfully was easily fixed.

Then not long after she’d gone through all that I woke one morning with my left breast twice its size. That was during the time there was this story going around all the message boards about how this super fast growing breast cancer was horrible and killing anyone that got it. Of course, I totally freaked out as I ran across this on some message board not long after waking up like that. I went to my doctor asap and then she thought possibly it was an infected gland and put me on antibiotics for a few weeks. Of course, this did nothing but make me stressed even more thinking that was a long time to wait before checking into it further. The meds didn’t work so she sent me to have a mammogram. They did that and she requested mine NE stat so they would read it right then and there to be sure they had gotten good shots and could give me a diagnosis that day. I waited while they read the slides and then the nurse came back and said they wanted a few more shots …………on the other side. WHAT? It seems they found a small lump on the other breast as well. Ugh. After they were done, they had my husband come back to the meeting room to meet me there and we were told I had to get those biopsied so we got rushed across the hallway to the surgeon’s office where my surgery was scheduled. After the surgery I was told it would be a few days and then I’d find out the results. That was a long wait and then what I got was them telling me that one side was not cancer but they then told me the pathologists there weren’t able to both agree on the other one, so they had to send my biopsy for that one off to the Mayo Clinic and that I’d have to wait TWO WEEKS more. I was totally freaked out because of all the history of those around me and watching them deal with cancer of any sort so that’s all I could think of…well that and the fact that the surgeon I had been given must have the nickname Edward Scissorhands because the scars he left after telling me they’d only be about 1 inch at the most in reality turned out to be over 7 inches long on both sides and crooked too. L I am still SO not happy about that but hey, I’m no swimsuit model so I guess I can live with that considering the alternative.

I need to stop yacking and just let you know that I did finally get the all clear back from the Mayo Clinic 2nd opinion. I just know it’s a very scary thing to even get to the point I was much less to be told you have breast cancer. I can’t imagine that and give everyone that has been told and had to deal with that a lot of credit. It surely is not an easy thing to go through.


PS ~ anyone thinking of doing something similar to mine. MY MIL said the best thing in that tote we’d given her (aside from the chocolate of course) was that shower gel. She’d never used any before but also didn’t realize the length of time she’d be banned from taking a shower or bath after her surgeries. She said all she was allowed to do was a sink wash as best as you can type cleaning and that pretty smelling shower gel was wonderful. She said it was easy to use and smelled so wonderful which helped put her in a good mood even if she felt dirty not being able to do more washing that to use the sink. So if you do something like this, put some of that in and maybe stitch up some washcloths like you’d make for babies with one side cotton and flannel on the other side, or even some minky type fabric so it’s smooth and softer than a regular washcloth or scrubby.

Now its Laura's turn to share with you an adorable way to remember to get your pair checked.

Have you checked that pair lately??
As part of breast cancer awareness month I just wanted to remind you. The above business card or ATC card was made by me many years ago it fits in your wallet and serves as a reminder every time you open it up. I made a couple hundred of them at that time and passed them out at gatherings and to all my rubber stamping friends and family. On the back it says "October is Breast cancer awareness month early detection boots survival chances. Please do the one thing you can do for early detection. Check that pair. Keep this as a reminder or pass it on to a friend"
The card was made using a pear stamp that was stamped twice in yellow and then a checkered mask template went over it and sponged green on the parts that showed in yellow. Finally added lettering one letter at a time. Trimmed and mounted on some green card stock.
I know we all have a story and mine is no different. I have had several friends and family that have had breast cancer and most are still living due to early detection and advances in breast cancer treatment. And remember not all lumps are bad. As a young adult around 22 I was showering and felt something. Scared, young and far from home with only my husband near I took my findings to my doctor.  After a series of x-rays and ultrasounds and one needle aspiration it was determined I had a lump attached to my left breast bone. At this time they didn't believe it was cancerous but couldn't get enough from the needle aspiration to make a determination. I was scheduled for surgery, a lumpectomy.  They removed the lump which felt like a pea to me and was thought to be about the size of a nickle originally but was actually the size of a 50 cent piece.
The news was good for me, the biopsy came back clean and I have not had a re-occurrence and I am now 46. But it could have been much worse.  What if I ignored it? Or never did that exam and what if it had been malignant. I might not be here today enjoying my family and my life. Life is precious and it is not selfish to take care of yourself so that you are around to enjoy life and your loved ones get to enjoy you for as long as possible.
Remember the earlier a lump is caught the better the chance for survival.  Checking yourself in the shower is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this. If you don't know how to do a proper exam here is some information on how to do breast exams : - this has a very "appealing" video and made me giggle
You can also go on YouTube and there are several that will show you.

Lastly you can always ask your nurse or doctor.  They will be happy to share how to do this with you.

Wow what great projects Vicki and Laura had to share with us!
Have you made your appointment to get your pair checked? I go today for my mammogram. Early detection is important.


  1. Great work Vicki and Laura.
    Vicki, you know, I wouldn't have noticed that 'special feature' if you hadn't pointed it out!
    Laura - those cards are fantastic! If I had more time before our awareness event next week, I would whip something similar up. Maybe next year. :)

  2. great post vicki was fun guest posting.

  3. I would like to appreciate you the way you have shared the post with us. It is really hard to find the quality post, but you have done this job nicely man.Appointment Cards

  4. Having lost my precious mom to breast cancer, I never forget to check. Thanks both of you for sharing!


What do you think? I'd love to hear from you :)