Recovery- Part Two


This post is an update to my last post, read it here Recovery- Part One.

From August 13th-16th, 2016~

I woke up in my hospital room the next morning to a team of about a dozen plastic surgeon residents. Neither Jeff or I were expecting them at 6am, or that so many people could cram into one hospital room.

They surrounded me and without telling me what they were there for, quickly took down my gown and bandages. Next, they started to change my dressings (as I came to learn). Since I had previously been asleep and still processing the past 12 hours, I was in a bit of shock as to what was happening.

And oh boy, I made a big mistake… and looked down at what they were doing. I will spare you the gory details, but will say that what I saw was not me.

That could not be my body.

That was not where my breasts once stood proudly to honor both my femininity and ability to nourish my children.

I again went into a full panic-attack and could barely breath. Even writing this nearly a month and a half later, I tear up about that experience.

They finished as quickly as they started and left without saying much. Thankfully, my nurse came quickly to check on me and between her and Jeff’s attempts to distract and soothe me, I eventually calmed down. I was just in disbelief and felt totally numb. My nurse sweetly apologized for what had just happened, but I was too horrified to even acknowledge it.

The problem with my self-image wasn’t just that my breasts and expanders were absent, it’s that I was not whole. There were parts of me that were not put back together yet. Due to the advanced infection, my doctor had to walk a fine line between leaving enough skin and tissue to allow for future reconstruction and taking enough away to turn a corner on the infection. It was touch and go for a few days with the potential of going back under the knife to remove anymore tissue or skin.

To say I was a nervous wreck that first day in the hospital, is an understatement. I was so down and throwing myself a big ol’ pity party…but that’s not really my style. I even promised myself earlier in the summer that I would only focus on the positive. So, late in the day I started thinking; if I tried being positive instead of sad & negative, if I just put a smile on my face and eventually start laughing again, if I surround myself with love and fill my heart with joy, that I could will those fevers away.

And you know what, that positive mindset helped.

I still had fevers and signs of the infection. Yet, each day I felt stronger and stronger. I will never forget the triumphant wail that I gave when my temperature was “normal” for the first time in nearly two weeks. Then the second and the third “normal” reading came with high fives. There was a chance, an actual chance, that I was getting better! I felt the tides changing and I just wanted to keep swimming forward.

Clearly, a positive mindset isn’t the only thing that helped me get better- modern medicine and intelligent & caring people did their part. At the time, I just kept thinking about how thankful I was for my doctor, his staff, my wonderful nurses, friends that checked on me, extended family that visited me, my kids and parents (thank God for my parents-they just took our kids in and carried on life for them without any hesitation), and my Jeff.

Jeff stayed there by my side and only left the room to grab food, a coffee, or to visit my grandma-also in the same hospital just a few floors above me. We weren’t prepared for a four night/five day hospital stay. The poor guy had the same clothes on for those long days. He didn’t want to miss an update or even a vitals reading. He stayed and never wavered in his belief that I would get better and that we would make it through this together. Oh, how I love him more now than I ever thought I even could.

With my husband by my side and without a fever for 24 hours, I was released and went home on the 16th. After paying a very expensive parking fee, we made it home and got settled into a new, new normal. My home health care nurses started coming once a day, my doctor’s office, what felt like my whole community, and all my cheerleaders were there every step of the way.

Some people called me brave. Some said I was amazing. Someone even called me an inspiration. However, I didn’t feel any of those things. In fact, I felt like a fake, a coward.




Those are words I associate with strong women like my Mom, her mom-Doreen, my Dad’s mom-Jane, and all my friends that have battled breast cancer. Cancer fighters deserve those words, I was just trying to avoid it. These women are amazingly brave inspirations to many, but especially to me.

I say thank you when people say those things to me today and I find a tiny sliver of myself in those words now. But at the time, I just wanted to move forward.

So, I borrowed a phrase from one of my kids favorite movies and that has become my recovery motto- Just keep swimming.

I say it everyday. I say it when I get discouraged. I say it when people ask me how I am doing. I say it to my nurses. I hum it when I have to look down and change my bandages or apply my medicine to my wounds. That simple phrase keeps my positive mindset going. Humming it has become my personal soundtrack. I know it’s juvenile, but it works for me. It keeps me focusing on the future- the next step- and not the past.

Don’t get me wrong, there are moments that I get totally discouraged and wonder why this happened. I know that it is a combination of many things. But I also know that I can’t do anything about what happened except move forward, learn from it, inform others, and reach out to those around me to pay their kindness forward.

My story is not over, there are more chapters to write. As of today, I am scheduled to go back under on October 24th. My doctor and his team will attempt breast reconstruction surgery using expander implants. They also hope to revise my scars so that I look more like me when this is all over. The whole process is a minimum of three months, and then there could be more after that. I am not afraid of the risks. My hope is greater than any fear.

Today, hug your loved ones tighter. Thank your God or lucky stars that you are ALIVE. Don’t get stuck in your past or in your story. Just keep swimming FORWARD. Hum your soundtrack or shout it out when you need to really hear it. Stay POSITIVE and when you can’t, surround yourself with cheerleaders that won’t let you get down. HOPE for the best, PREPARE for the worst, but have NO FEAR.

Love, joy, and light to you all.

There are no happy accidents~


**I am not a doctor and my decision to proceed with major surgery took years to decide. Please don’t take my story as recommendations for yourself. If you are a BRCA Carrier please reach out to your physician today to make a plan. I share my story to help you think about your choices and ask questions about your options.

If you think you could be a BRCA Carrier, talk with your doctor. For more information, check out the non-profit organization- Bright Pink.**

You can check out my other writings on Full Time Mom. You can also follow me on Twitter at @barefoot79.




Recovery-Part One


Since my last post, a lot has happened… and I don’t even know where to start. So, please forgive me if this is long or scattered, but it is real. 100% real life, right here.

I entered  August optimistically. I was scared and nervous for my upcoming preventive mastectomy and breast reconstruction, but ultimately optimistic for the outcome that was being laid out in front of me.

I kissed my kids and mom goodbye before leaving for surgery on August third. Jeff and I jumped into the car and headed to the city. I was pretty quiet on the ride there and just reflected on my journey up to that point. I was telling myself that being BRCA+ was not a death sentence, but rather a lifeline. A lifeline to becoming an educated, proactive, and brave decision-maker. I was thinking how lucky I was to know my risks and to be able to hopefully mitigate them. I was thinking about my sweet friend who had the same procedure done the day before me. I was thinking of my amazing children. I was thinking that this was all going to work out, that God was on my side and that I would come out of this a-ok. I was thinking that I have the best and most supportive community. I was thinking of all my cheerleaders and caretakers.  I was thinking about how much I love my husband.  I felt like the luckiest girl during that car ride.

Surgery was uneventful and my in-hospital recovery was seemingly ok. I was released about 24 hours after surgery. I wasn’t feeling great, but I was ready to come home.

Arriving home was sweet. I got lots of hugs and kisses from my kids and they paid lots of attention to me. They would bring me things and sit with me while I recovered on the Lazy Boy. I felt better than I thought I would, but still pretty sore and needed to take extra time moving around.

Over the next few days, I was overwhelmed and grateful for friends and family that made dinners, bought us groceries, checked in on me, brought me flowers, sat and visited with me, and to my kids benefit…took them on some awesome adventures and outings. Thanks to my AH community, you are the best and treated us like family. Thank YOU!! We will never forget how you treated us.


At the same time as this wonderful support and love poured in, I was having a hard time. Any kind of physical exertion was challenging, even walking around my house. Let alone, walking up or down my block (which was encouraged by my doctors). I was having a hard time getting up and greeting guests and there were times it was hard just to talk. And then the fevers. They just wouldn’t go away.

After a few days chatting with concerned friends, 2 doctor follow-ups, personal nurse calls (thanks Robyn), and personal nurse visits (thanks Carly), we were advised to head to the ER to get checked out. They were concerned about my persistent fevers, sluggish feelings, and inability to walk around. At the same time, I had areas of skin that were “changing” not enough to run to the ER, but enough to take note that something was going on (we’ll get back to that soon).

It took us nearly two hours to get to the ER downtown. By the time I got there, my temperature was over 103, my heart rate was so high I required an EKG, my CBC blood work came back with my white cell blood counts over 20 (the normal range is under 10), I was taken for a chest x-ray to rule out a blood clot and pneumonia, and I was seriously scared.

I have only been this scared two other times in my life. Once was when I found out my mom had breast cancer and the other was when my brother and I got into a car accident with a semi-truck coming home from college, which happened to be the day after my grandfather died.

This kind of scared was different though. I could hear through my muffled cries and the thin ER curtains that whatever was happening to me was serious. The look on my husband’s face was one that I don’t want to see again. He was holding it together for me, but I could see it in his eyes.

This was bad, really bad.

My plastic surgeon came right away and took one look at me and confirmed that this was a bad infection that hadn’t presented itself in a physical form until that very day. Remember that skin changing thing that happened? That was the source of the infection. A bacteria that was doing major damage to my living breast tissue and skin. I was heading right to the OR. The plan was to save my implants if possible, but I was advised that might not be the outcome. I was for sure going to be losing the areas of skin and tissue that the bacteria latched onto. Since it was basically eating my flesh and there was no saving it at that point.

To say the least, I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. How could this happen? Why? Why me? Why now? The what if’s of surgery don’t happen in real life! How could this have been prevented? Was there some bacteria left in the OR at the first surgery that lent itself to this outcome?

A million more thoughts raced through my mind. And the tears just kept coming. There was no stopping them. I was in full-on panic attack mode. My fears and anxieties all rose up and there was nothing I could do to stop them. After some “help” from the anesthesiologist, I was able to calm down so that they could take me to the OR. I don’t know what they gave me, but boy did it calm me down. Jeff gave me a quick kiss goodbye and I was off in a twilight state heading to an unknown future version of myself.

When I came to, after surgery, I was numb-both physically and mentally. My hands flew straight to my chest. I knew within a millisecond that my implants were gone. I was silent. I moved to stage 2 recovery and eventually got wheeled to my room.

Waiting in my room was Jeff and a surprise guest, my uncle Kurt from California! I was grateful for their comedic relief and distraction from reality. We chatted and laughed and then said goodnight. My uncle left. I eventually fell asleep and so did Jeff.

The next morning brought new challenges and more tears. However, looking back now I can say that at the time I was panicking, my doctor wasn’t. He knew what to do. He knew how to save my skin and surrounding tissues that weren’t impacted by the bacteria. He had only seen a case as bad as mine three other times. Those three other women taught him how to treat me. I am sorry for their experiences, but grateful that their hardships brought knowledge to my scenario. And created a trusting bond between doctor and patient.

I am fully aware that what happened to me will help another woman in the future as well. For that, I am grateful. Maybe my difficult recovery will raise a red flag and change how recovery is monitored. Maybe different questions will be asked to patients that bring up persistent fevers and sluggish feelings. Maybe my story will be able to help somebody you know that has to go through this someday.

We are all connected and we never know how our lives interconnect. I have to believe that there is goodness in the darkness. I have to believe that there is a positive impact here. And I have to believe that maybe, just maybe, my horrible experience will bring light and hope to somebody else’s recovery from this type of surgery.

There are no happy accidents~


**I am not a doctor and my decision to proceed with major surgery took years to decide. Please don’t take my story as recommendations for yourself. If you are a BRCA Carrier please reach out to your physician today to make a plan. I share my story to help you think about your choices and ask questions about your options.

If you think you could be a BRCA Carrier, talk with your doctor. For more information, check out the non-profit organization- Bright Pink.**

You can also check out my other writings on Full Time Mom


Unprepared is Prepared: Surgery Update


If you have been following along with my summer posts, you know that I have undergone several steps in the process of taking preventative measures to reduce my breast and ovarian cancer risks.

I found out I was a BRCA 2 carrier after my second child was born and took nearly the last decade to discover as much as possible related to my gene predispositions. With the time it took me to finally be happy with the research available to me and then making surgery plans with my doctors, you’d think I was prepared for this next one-a double mastectomy with reconstruction.

Ha! Nope! Not really!

I am mentally prepared. I feel strong in mind and clear headed that these choices I’ve made are what is necessary. And I know that my surgical team is the best I could ever ask for. We feel confident that they will do outstanding work with great results.

However, as I started to actually think about being “prepared” I realized that I don’t know as much about this next step as I thought I did. My husband and I have a great understanding of the “what” and the “how” of what’s to come, but we don’t really have a good handle on the aftermath of it all. Everybody’s experiences are different and reading different women’s journeys are both helpful and frightening at the same time.

So, this morning I started to think of everything I didn’t know. My head was spinning. Here is just a tiny sampling of my inner-worries…Will I be able to raise my arms? Will I be able to get dressed? How will I wash my hair? Will I want to sleep in my bed or in a recliner? Will my drains be able to stay hidden? How can I keep my kids calm? How will I get up the stairs? Ugghhh, the car ride will be bumpy…how do I get home comfortably? When will I want to see people? How long will it take until I feel better? Who is going to keep my house clean? Will Jeff remember to register for the kid’s classes? Will he pay the bills? When will I be able to get back to work and my volunteer responsibilities?

The inner-dialogue kept going until I had to shut it off. You see, this panic-stricken inner voice was not mine. It was not the voice that I used when talking to my kids or friends and family about what’s coming. And really, a lot of my concerns surround the function of my house and the people in it…not even me! So, it was no use to talk to myself like that.

Plus, I have vowed to myself to go into this with a positive attitude and so far, I have been able to keep it. And I think that might be why I haven’t had a total freak-out or panic attack about the fact that my boobs are turning into “foobs” (fake boobs) tomorrow. But, the combination of that inner-voice paired with the reality of surgery being tomorrow… set me up for a mini-freak out… in an unsuspecting place.

The Walgreens Photo Department.

Why Walgreens you ask? I am not sure, but I do know one thing. The woman behind the photo counter was the reason why it was in her department.

I will summarize.

I needed to run a few errands. One of them was to print my kids school pictures in order to send them in a card for my grandparent’s 70th wedding anniversary. Yes… 70 years!! (Sidenote: do you know that celebrating 70 years of marriage is so rare that there isn’t a card available for it!) Well, I went to print the pictures and brought in the copyright notice, but then found out I needed to supply a photocopy of the copyright. It was in that moment that I just lost it. The sheer thought of having to leave to go make a copy before getting the pictures that I needed in order to send my grandparents card threw me into a panic. I just didn’t know how I was going to get that done and still make time to have fun with my kids on our last day together before surgery.

I just started crying.


Thankfully, the woman that was working there came right to me and kindly asked me what was wrong and if I was going to be okay. I did tell her that I was having surgery the next day and just a little stressed from it all. Without hesitation, she told me God was going to watch over me and make sure that I was alright. She then went on to tell me that she herself was a cancer survivor and had just returned to work after suffering a heart attack a week ago! Let me repeat… a week ago!! Something in the way she spoke and the care in her eyes helped to calm me down. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment. Yes, it was embarrassing, but I don’t even care. I know that I was meant to hear her story and that God spoke to me through her. And after that moment, all of my worries, fears, and doubts literally went away.

I left Walgreens and hopped back in the car and my mom and my three kids went about the rest of our day. We ran another errand, I made that copy, and we went to their favorite lunch spot- The Choo Choo in the next town over. It is the quirkiest and best place to grab a cheeseburger delivered on a model train! They have the best angel food cupcakes and I normally say no when my kids ask for them, but you know what…today I said yes. It was fun to be the yes mom instead of the no mom for a change. The five of us enjoyed our cupcakes and left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

The moral of my long story (thanks for hanging in there with me) is that being unprepared is actually being prepared. There is no way that I can be prepared for all of the “what if’s” about to come my families way. However, I can be prepared in knowing that I am not expected to have all the answers and that we will figure this out as we go along. I am also prepared with the best community army to check in on me, bring me meals, and supply my kids with endless fun. I am so appreciative of each and every one of you. My family and I couldn’t navigate this journey without you.

TRUST your journey. Whatever road you are traveling, know that you’ve got the keys and hands on the steering wheel. It’s just road bumps that you have to drive over. LISTEN to your inner-voice, but realize when it’s too panicked to make sound choices…then hit mute! And remember that most struggles are just TEMPORARY. This moment will pass in my life and in yours. Thank goodness I will be able to look back at this day and laugh at myself. Having a positive attitude and being able to laugh has continued to save me through this whole process.

I know it was okay for me to panic today and that such a small trigger made it happen, but I am so glad that it was 1) away from my kids 2)in a place that promotes wellness and 3) with the right employee at the right time.

There are no happy accidents~


**I am not a doctor and my decision to proceed with major surgery took years to decide. Please don’t take my story as recommendations for yourself. If you are a BRCA Carrier please reach out to your physician today to make a plan. 

If you think you could be a BRCA Carrier, talk with your doctor. For more information, check out the non-profit organization- Bright Pink.**

You can also check out my other writings on Full Time Mom

Thank You Just Isn’t Enough

nha_ thank you title

When I decided to share my journey regarding my BRCA decisions, I didn’t really think about the impact it would have on others or on my personal life. I just wanted to put it out there as my own type of therapy.

The night before surgery I was about 60% sure that we had made the right decision about reducing my breast cancer risks…but by the time I was in the room and meeting with my doctors I was 100% certain that it was the right call. All of my fears and anxieties just slipped away and that’s when I knew that I was mentally tough and mentally ready for what was to come.

A lot of people messaged me that day and the days following surgery that I was brave and an inspiration. I appreciated and admired their thoughts. I also felt blessed and empowered to live in a vast and bustling metropolis which gave me the power to choose my path with the most talented doctors guided by science and God’s hand. The prayer chains and positive thoughts that went out to support the doctors at Northwestern, my family, and myself have been felt over and over again.

I felt so lifted up in positive thoughts that the day after surgery I got up and headed to my kids swimming lessons-partially to show them that I was ok and also to prove to myself that life was going to be ok and back to normal soon. A few friends were surprised to see me there and to be honest, I was too. After all, it was only 15 hours post-surgery! But I told them that I could either A) be at home sitting by myself or B) sit at swimming lessons, soaking up the sun, and watching my kids. I chose the latter, even though it wasn’t easy.

In the days that followed, I realized that with the support of your family, friends, and community you really can get through anything. I had always believed those words to be true, but I had never personally needed them during my adult-life. Until now!

I never expected anyone to pay attention to my little blog (again, it’s therapy- but thank you for reading and following it) and I really didn’t expect the amount of community support that came with it. People checked in on me, made our little family dinner, dropped off milk, offered my kids fun days, and sent me messages via Facebook, texts, and phone calls. I even got a handful of beautiful cards from friends and family; near and far. Friends and neighbors dropped off surprise flowers, homemade cookies and breads, mochas, and even prosecco. I loved the sweet intentions that went with each one, but more importantly I appreciated the time that people took to even think of us during their busy days, let alone to drop something off.

From the bottom of my heart (and the four others in my home), thank you. Even though it doesn’t seem like enough.

nha blog image_ endless happiness

I wasn’t sure how the recovery would go from that surgery. I thought it was going to be a lot tougher and more painful than it was. Now, pain is relative to each person and I know my threshold is high, and I’m not saying it was easy since there were definitely rough moments and painful times. However, my reality was far more manageable than what my imagination created.

Thankfully, I was able to keep myself relatively pain free with Tylenol and a nifty little integrated pain-pack that gave a steady dose of a nerve blocking pain reliever directly to my surgery sites. (I hope I get something like that again in August!) I was bruised, sore, and moving slowly (driving in the car was the worst part, especially over bumps) but I had to keep moving. Staying positive and moving each day was my goal.

Even though I was mentally prepared before surgery took place, my body has not cooperated and has taken a lot longer to recover than I expected. That’s hard to digest knowing that in just ten more days I will get my mostly healed incisions reopened for the next surgery. As of right now, I still have some incision sites healing and have some slight bruising, numbness, and pain…but I’ll take it.

Knowing that I have made this decision for my family and our future makes the pain bearable. The love and kindness shared from my community made things easier, too. I know I needed help and didn’t want to burden anyone with that. But everybody needs help, everybody needs their community, everybody needs everybody. We lift each other up, we make each other stronger, we multiply the love when we are together. I couldn’t have made it through the last month without the love from my village and tribe.

When faced with challenge, be strong and prove to yourself that you can overcome. Ask for help (that was the hardest part for me). Don’t think for one second that you are a burden to others. If you are a parent, then show your kids you can get through tough times so that they know they’ll be able to get through them as well. Even on the darkest days, there is still light. Grab it, even if it’s just a glimmer. That light is your hope.

HOPE will never let you down, but sitting idle and letting the darkness consume you will. Don’t let dark days and thoughts alter your spirit. You are STRONG. You are BRAVE. You are a part of me and I am a part of you. Together, as a community, we stick together and raise each other up. We help, without the need for an IOU. We say THANK YOU with a gracious heart, even when it just isn’t enough.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

My family and I are eternally grateful for your love, support, and kindness. We will pay it forward.

There are no happy accidents~


Personal Choices- My BRCA-2 Update

nha blog_ personal choices

Today is surgery day. I am feeling pretty anxious, but empowered all at the same time. I had one good meltdown the other day and an ugly cry followed that… you know the kind I am talking about! Most days have been pretty good leading up to this day, but some have been a little rocky. I did read that it’s completely normal to feel a little moody and have mixed emotions leading up to the surgery. So phew, I am normal!

The outpouring of support from friends and family has been very encouraging and has helped me get through the ugliness of my emotional roller coaster. Everyone is so sweet and they all offer to help. Most days, I don’t know how to tell them to help. I don’t think we’ll need meals prepared, but who knows…maybe we will! I don’t think that I’ll need rides or tips to the grocery store since my hubby can handle most of that. However, what I do think I’ll need is check-ins, invitations for my kids to join your kids for the next few days, and maybe a Starbucks skinny mocha…just kidding! Not really, but sort of! Oh and some laughs along with some good boob jokes!!

If you haven’t been following of if you are new to @No Happy Accidents then let me give you a quick update. In 2008 I was told that I am a BRCA-2 carrier, which means that I have a gene mutation which significantly increases my risk of breast, ovarian, and a few other cancers. Most doctors recommend the removal of ovaries and a preventative double mastectomy with reconstruction of the breasts. However, we were told to finish having children and then wait a few more years before scheduling any of the major surgeries.

Since that time, we completed our family with the addition of our third child. I regularly had mammograms and breast MRI’s along with ovarian ultrasounds. I was on target to start preventive surgical care in the next few years when a tiny tumor appeared in my last breast MRI. Lucky for me, it was benign and not an issue. However, it caused me to speed up my decision making and start looking at a calendar.

I ended up scheduling a delayed ovarian removal salpingectomy this past April. Everything with that surgery went smoothly, except for my kids. They had a hard time adjusting to my limitations during my recovery. My oldest was nearly beside herself with worry and fairly major anxiety. My other two kids were understanding and helpful after a few days. Needless to say, scheduling this new round of surgeries brought on mixed emotions in my house.

However, we’re doing it…because these breasts are ticking-time-boobs and they need to go! As nervous as I feel right now, it’s nothing compared to what I could feel if I ended up with a breast cancer diagnosis because I procrastinated when I could have done something.

nha blog My Boobs Tried to Kill me

TMI ALERT: So, today is Surgery #1- The medical term is Mammoplasty, but what they are really doing is saving my nipples and “optimizing” my current breast tissue for the second surgery. Surgery #2- Nipple Sparring Double Mastectomy with Reconstruction is set for a month from now. They will remove the tissue from the same incision site and then I will start the process of expanders unless my first surgery yields “best case scenario” results and I can go directly to breast implants. If that doesn’t happen, then Surgery #3 will come in a few months when the surgeon exchanges my expanders for implants.

Implants. Try telling your kids what is happening without really telling them because a) they won’t really understand and b) how do you explain the removal of tissue and the addition of implants!?!?

I went with discreet, limited information for my youngest two kids and full-on honesty for my oldest. I don’t know if my strategy will benefit everyone the way I hope, but I will keep you posted! I know that I’ll need a lot of help from them especially after the second surgery, but this one will be pretty painful, too and I need them to know they can be independent while I recover a bit. I am blessed that my husband was able to take time off of work to be home with us. I am very thankful for that.

My team of Plastic Surgeons and Surgical Oncologists are top notch. They are award winning in their field and I feel very confident that my procedures will go as planned, so that doesn’t have me worried.

What has me concerned is the aftermath of the surgeries. What will I feel like? How long will it take until I feel like myself? How long will it be until I can __________________ (fill in the blank)? How will my kids react to me? Will they want to be with me or stay away? How will I feel when I look in the mirror? When will this new body and all of its scars feel normal?

I know that these are questions that are not unique to my circumstances, but they are still valid and relevant to me, right now… in this moment. My husband and I know that these tough decisions were the right decisions, but I am sure that we’ll deal with the aftermath of them for a long while. Hopefully not for too long, but either way time will heal my physical and emotional wounds. I will not let my BRCA-2 gene mutation define me. I am more than my boobs. And I will not wait for cancer to come knocking on my door.

So if you are the praying type, can you say a few words to your God for me? Can you be a little extra nice to me and my family for a few weeks? Can you please ignore any whining I might incur and then slap me out of it? Can you please give me some grace if I miss a deadline, an email, or a text? Will you look out for my family and be my village?

I am choosing to go into this laughing and from the mindset of DETERMINATION and EMPOWERMENT. I am choosing HOPE, not fear; and I am pushing my anxieties aside.

Until next time!

There are no happy accidents~



**I am not a doctor and my decision to proceed with major surgery took years to decide. Please don’t take my story as recommendations for yourself. If you are a BRCA Carrier please reach out to your physician today to make a plan.

If you think you could be a BRCA Carrier, talk with your doctor. For more information, check out the non-profit organization- Bright Pink.**

You can also check out my other writings on Full Time Mom

Love YOUR Summer!

loveyoursummer blog title-2

My kids have not even been out of school a full week yet and they are already bored, fighting, and expecting big plans daily.

There was a time when I wanted to schedule “fun” things for them everyday or at least a few times a week. Then last year we made an End of Summer Bucket List. The Bucket List was awesome! It was a fun way for everyone to get a “say” in what we were doing. I am going to have to pull that out again in August, for sure!

This year, I have a very different summer shaping up. I feel like this is a transitional summer.

My big kids are able to ride to friends houses and make their own plans and my younger daughter gets to be 5 and enjoy all that it means to be that age. Plus, we are in the middle of some home renovations so I am at the mercy of contractors, plumbers, and the like when it comes to when I can be home and when I cannot.

Personally, I am in the midst of a… let’s just call it a health transformation. Thanks to a team of incredible doctors and their vetted interests in my “previvor” health I am finally taking the necessary steps to secure my future health. It won’t be easy, but nothing hard and life-changing ever should be.

Instead of getting mad and upset that the summer I wish my family could have just isn’t happening… I am going to LOVE the summer we do have. We are so blessed as a family. My family is alive. They are healthy. Those two things are all that really matter.

In the wake of senseless American tragedies and violence in Chicago, it is so clear that love and goodness is what my family needs to focus on, not on what we are missing out on this summer. All families that lost a loved one this week will have to live with those losses for the rest of their lives. While the men and women of Orlando will miss out on the lives they should have finished. There was so much they could have accomplished, so much good that they could have shared with our world.

In their honor and the honor of all others that lose their chance to share goodness and love with the world, I am focusing on the good in my life and enjoying whatever that looks like for my family. No pity party over here for spilled milk, missed summer camp sign-ups, my two surgeries that my kids aren’t expecting yet, rainy days (or too hot days), scars, drains, or trips to the doctors for my tata’s. Nope, not gonna happen! We are alive and we are going to live each day that way.

We have our favorite family vacation on the books for July and some smaller, day trips planned as well. Other than that, my kids aren’t signed up for much and I’m okay with that. At first, I was sad for my kids that they’d miss out on a few of their favorite things like VBS at church and summer sports camps, but it turns out that they don’t mind missing them.

We have had such a great week with the things we have done, the places we’ve gone, and the people we’ve chosen to be with… that the future of summer is looking okay.

Sure, they whine and complain, they bicker, they get bored, but isn’t that the point!?!? Don’t they need to figure it out and learn to manage their time on their own and just play?

They should be PLAYING all summer long. And yes, playing comes with disappointment and disagreements, but it also comes with loads of laughs, smiles, and some of the best days ever! They don’t need me to direct their activities, plan their days, or coordinate sibling cooperation. They need people skills. They need to learn to fend for themselves. If I do it for them, they will have NO skills to handle it on their own when I am not there.

This might not be the summer I planned, but you’ll be damn sure that I am going to make sure that it’s the best one we’ve ever had, because I am not going to stand for complaining and pity parties.

I am going to stand for LOVE. We are going to PLAY. We are going to bicker, play a ton, be disappointed, create art, have bad days, eat special treats, laugh a ton, make mistakes, catch fish, learn about each other, play with friends, and more…but we are ALIVE and that’s why we can have the balance of the good with the bad.

marley quote blog

I adore this quote by Bob Marley, “Love the life you live. Live the life you love.” It is my life mantra, and rings truer this week than ever before. I hope and pray that it inspires my children to live. To live without regret or fear of being themselves. To love without prejudice or judgement. And to live in a world that is safe, equal, and proud of all members who reside on this planet. I don’t know who they will be when they grow up, but I do know that they will be filled with as much goodness as humanly possible.


There are no happy accidents~


50% Mom- An Ugly Lesson From One Touch

nha-50% Mom

If you are like me, you are probably busy. I mean really busy.

I look at my list of responsibilities and the calendar and try to see what I can say “no” to, but there just isn’t anything to skip. It’s not as though we haven’t tried…it just seems to be the reality of married life with three kids, a dog, and a house undergoing some renovations. Throw in springtime and it gets downright insane! Plus, everyone in my house has a busy schedule; from dance (x3 classes), gymnastics, travel soccer, before and after school clubs, Girl Scouts, music lessons (x 2 kids), a husband that works and coaches soccer, to my own responsibilities with work at three jobs and volunteering for the PTA, my church, and my children’s school.. we are wiped! Not to mention trying to balance it all and still make healthy meals, keep our house cleaned up, and not go totally crazy!! I have to believe that I am not the only one feeling like this!

Right?!?!?            (Please tell me I’m not the only one!)

During an extremely challenging week our household was a hot mess. Everyone was busy, emotional, and needed extra attention. Plus we had our regular “life” duties and all of the above activities. Everybody needed a break, but we kept trucking on. During a hectic afternoon, I was getting an after school snack ready for my three kiddos and answering an email on my phone. Since busy for me looks a lot like me being on my computer or phone, my kids associate my phone with me being too busy for them. Which of course is not the case, but having access immediately to emails and job related activities in a very virtual world, means that I can be efficient and multi-task. But my oldest set me straight on this crazy day. While I was getting the snack to the table I was also looking at my phone. She was trying to get my attention, by talking to me. I gave the typical “yeah” and “oh, that sounds nice” responses, but it wasn’t what she needed. She needed my attention, and my multi-tasking version of paying attention was not cutting it.

You know how I knew?

She touched my arm.

No words were shared.

In that single, skin to skin touch, I knew. I knew she needed me, her mom.

I put down the phone and told her I was sorry. I asked her to tell me the story again.

She hugged me and told me it was ok, but it wasn’t ok and that got me thinking. It wasn’t ok that I only gave her half of my attention. What else have I missed while “multi-tasking”? What other conversations have I only participated in 50%? Am I only a 50% mom during these moments? What example am I setting for my children by being busy?

nha-50% Mom

I wonder, because when I am busy “working” it is always in their interest; it’s for their school, their activities, or to provide them with what they need. Or at least I think it’s for them. I know that I love all of my jobs and volunteer roles for different reasons, independently of each other, but in combination with one other I know that it’s too much. There are days, when I ask myself why I spread myself so thin with so many jobs and responsibilities with very little “me” time. Sometimes I think it’s to feel important or to be needed and validated for my efforts. But right then, with that touch, I felt validated, felt needed, and I knew I was important to her. And that was better than any work I could have done.

I am still working on letting go of my insistent need to be or feel busy, but I am also giving myself some GRACE here and saying thank you. THANK YOU to my oldest daughter for reminding me of what is most important to me. My family. They are the most important, with my own sanity a close second!


As a mom (well as a human being), I am a work in progress. I believe that we all are. I take snippets of what I have learned from all the other mothers and fathers around me to shape me into a better mom. I have learned the most from my parents, but my biggest lessons have been from my children. They are the best teachers because their personalities and unique needs really show me what they need. Everything is a teachable moment, even for us as parents. Hard lessons from our children can hurt, but they make us better. If we pay attention and listen, they make us into who they need us to be.

These precious days are coming and going so swiftly, that soon they’ll be over and I don’t want to regret anything. I don’t want to regret working, when I could have been playing. That email can wait. The text can wait. The work can wait- while these precious ones are still little. Take time with them now so that they know they can count on us later. Listen to the small stuff because soon it will be big stuff.  And the big stuff will need our full attention.

LIVE your life, but LOVE the way you live it. If you need to make an “edit” then do it. Don’t wait until you regret that you didn’t, by then it’s too late. BE the parent your child needs you to be, today. Give yourself GRACE for your mistakes, but also share that grace with others who need a little bit themselves. We are all a work in progress, just doing the best we can. THANK the lessons that are revealed in your life and try to retire the word BUSY. If you have to be busy with anything, be so BUSY LOVING that nothing else matters.

There are no happy accidents~


nohappyaccidents best we can