A Wonderfully Boring Health Update

Jun 14 - Nicole on windy ship deck blog

Check out my windblown hair!

I’m excited to be posting again after this site crashed December, 2013.  One day, most of the text and images from every post – there were hundreds – disappeared.

Not the end of the world, certainly, but upsetting to lose the cancer story I’d hoped might help someone else, and the art lessons and party ideas that have given me a creative outlet since I left advertising.

For my blogging friends, back up your posts! If you do lose content, try “wayback downloader.”  For $15, internet archives were scanned and I was sent a zip file with a lot of my content.  Many thanks to Joey and Brian for helping!

Health Update
I finished treatment for breast cancer (triple negative, Stage 2) in January 2013, and had what is likely my last reconstruction surgery in June, a year ago.  I still have tightness and nerve pain in my left shoulder and arm, and intermittent tingling in my fingers, but nothing that keeps me from doing what I want to.  I feel great!

Fitness-wise, I’m teaching Zumba® several times a week, and trying to strengthen the atrophied muscles in my chest, shoulders and arms.  Getting my body moving early on helped tremendously.  I thank Turning Point Breast Cancer Rehabilitation for that.

As for the possibility of recurrence, it’s always in the back of my mind, but not an active worry.

Triple negative survivors have the highest risk of recurrence in the first 3 years, and then, after 5 years, the risk lowers to being similar to those who have had hormone-positive cancer.  For me, those milestones will be January 2016 and 2018.

Research suggests that pathological response to treatment is key.  I had a complete response in my breast, ie no evidence of cancer after chemo, even before they removed the breast tissue during surgery.  But one lymph node still showed cancer – that’s the main reason radiation was recommended for me, while it may not be for other triple negative patients.

I get a check-up at Emory every 3 months, rotating between my medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and the head nurse at the survivorship clinic.  There are no scans or bloodwork if I tell them I’m feeling fine – just a physical exam.  They are, however, Johhny-on-the-spot when I report anything unusual.  So far, I’ve had ultrasounds and biopsies for what turned out to be post-surgery cysts, and a chest X-ray and MRI because of asthma symptoms, which was “radiation pneumonitis.”

Dr. O’Regan has said that she may present an update on the clinical trial I was part of during the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 12/14.  But it’s still ongoing with only about 20 participants, so it doesn’t sound like the standard chemo cocktail for triple negative will change any time soon.

Finally, I cannot thank our family, friends and neighbors enough for your support and encouragement.  You came through for us in a big way, and it made such a difference.

Going forward, my health posts will be few and far between.  I’m sending healing prayers to Kristi, Kristin and Stacey – all vibrant women still on the rollercoaster of treatment and surgeries – and to the tough, sweet, wonderful family of my cousin Kurt.

Much love,



2nd Grade Minions!

Yellow tempura paint, fat brushes
Black Sharpie marker
Silver Metallic Sharpie marker
Extra large wiggly eyes
Thick drawing paper
Silver & red washable metallic tempura paint (background)

To start, I had the kids place their wiggly eyes on the paper.  Then, we did a directed drawing lesson around the eyes.  A minion is really just a big bean shape.

Before adding paint, make sure to finish any detail with the Sharpie markers, including coloring in the goggles with Silver Metallic.  We painted the blue overalls and background first, as those paints were thinner and dried faster.  Last, the kids added yellow paint.  I took a chance and didn’t use washable, as the color isn’t as rich.

Feb 14 - Minions in the hallwayWe did these in February.  All lined up, they made a great Valentine for the kids’ teacher.  A couple of kids who finished first made the sign – complete with Minion duct tape as a border – and all of the kids signed it.
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