Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Tiny Weekend Treat

I can't have too many shades of lipstick. 

Especially since I'm scheduled to start chemotherapy sessions for my early stage breast cancer in a few days. 

That's what was in my thought bubble yesterday, while I sat down in Dulcinea Power Plant Mall with N and my in-laws. I had planned on this as soon as I found out that we were going to the mall Saturday afternoon. I had also never seen the place where my friend, Sol of Digital Traincase has all her stuff. 

The take-home paper bag

And the mini-haul :) 
Addis Ababa on the left and my default NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream shade, San Paulo

P300 a pop for something that lasts soooooooooo long. 
My last tube of San Paolo is still alive and I bought it no less than 6 months ago.

I'm having a really relaxed and lazy Sunday so far. Hope you all are too!

Friday, October 19, 2012

I'll Have a College Student in 2 Years!

I found myself in Shangri-la Mall today, totally unplanned, thanks to the really horrible Friday traffic situation in the Ortigas Area. I met up with one of my best friends for breakfast and intended to go home after. But when I saw how bad the traffic was, I decided to save on time and gasoline (well, diesel) because the kids were to be picked up at noon and it was shortly before 11am when my BFF and I parted ways. 

I went around and did my errands then I remembered that Sabine wanted a new set of colored pencils, so I went to National Bookstore. After I grabbed what I needed, I still had lots of time to kill so I went around, hoping to find a good book that I could take to my chemo sessions (yup, starting next week Tuesday). I spotted a table filled with these

College Entrance Exam reviewers! Aaaack!!! I suddenly felt a pinch in my pusong mamon because it dawned on me that I would have to buy these next year. Anissa is now 16 years old and a High School Junior. We'll be busy going to colleges and universities next year for entrance exams. Where did the time go? Seriously, I can still remember when I first held her in my arms and my OB screamed, "Oh my God, kaya naman pala hindi pwedeng normal delivery, she's huge!" SIGH!!! 

I need to start looking into Review Centers as well. Wow. This is too much to fathom right now. Time out muna boo hoo hoo!!! Don't grow up so fast, Baby 1 :( 

Too bad Lolo's no longer around to see his original baby go off into the real world. 

Zara's Organic Shirts

I've always loved them! I've already collected a few, especially of the boat necked striped ones with the  3/4 sleeves. They're so useful and so easy to wear. I pair them with anything ... shorts, jeans, a mini skirt, even dress pants sometimes. So worth the not-so-hefty price tag (price of the boat necked striped shirts is around P995.00). 

This is the shirt I'm talking about. Zara always has this style on their racks.

Photo credit : Google Images

Recently, I got these short-sleeved, v-neck versions from someone I would like to call my Fairy Godmother hee hee! In other words, they're you're regular tees. The plain one comes in many other colours. Unfortunately, I choose to wear only black, white, grey, as I'm still mourning my Dad's death. The other colors are really pretty though! 

I like that the material looks so breathable and presko.  The cut on the neck of this one is a bit low but I don't think it will be too revealing, just right. I can't wait to wear them. 

Would you believe both shirts cost only P1,100? Great deal, Zara! 

TGIF, everyone!!! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grace Anatomy - my new blog

Since the weekend, I've been busy with my other blog ... the one where I decided to migrate all my breast cancer-related entries. I met and was interviewed by Cathy Babao last Friday, Oct 12 for her column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. 

She was the one who urged me to start a new blog, which is focused on my journey with breast cancer. I really considered doing this earlier on, but I was too lazy to think about it. She convinced me that it was the wise thing to do, if I really wanted to speak to a specific group of people. 

And so ... 

Grace Anatomy was born! 

Please take the time to see my medical updates and see how God continues to bless me with His grace as I move forward and travel in the direction He has pointed me to. 

I'll continue to maintain this site for all my usual stories :)

Hope you're all well!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saizen is love

The first time I went to Saizen was in 2009. I probably stayed there for more than an hour, scouring through aisle after aisle and shelf after shelf. I have a habit of wanting to see every single thing displayed in a store that I really, really like. I do the same in bookstores and drug stores.

I don't frequent Robinson's Galleria so I was happy when I found out that Saizen is also in the newly-opened Robinson's Magnolia Mall in Aurora Boulevard. While killing time earlier tonight, I went straight in with N and Sabine. I don't know why but I think that their merchandise is way better than Galleria's.

N grabbed a few things he needed for his current DIY project (something to do with fixing the paint on our 2nd car's hood), Sabine grabbed a huge notebook and writing materials (not surprised, she has a fetish for these) and I went home with these

Very Little House on the Prairie! 
For those of you who don't belong to my generation, let me rephrase that 

... very Cath Kidston! :D

I would've gotten more of the floral zippered kits, because I saw at least 3 more different sizes. The ones I chose are good for small gadgets, a few cosmetics, maybe a thin sanitary pad and a small pack of tissue paper. The notebook and the pens, well ... the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. My girls get their love for writing materials and paper from no other than yours truly. I don't need a notebook, but this one just really screamed out to me. I'm pretty sure though that Anissa will want to have it for herself. 

I like that Saizen doesn't ask you if you want to buy a non-plastic, woven eco bag. It's not an option, they really don't use plastic bags anymore. Kudos!!! 

Those of you like me who have a long list of names on their Christmas list, consider Saizen when you go shopping for gifts. I guarantee that you'll find a lot of potential in the stuff you'll see. 

I hope to go back real soon! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pink Nails on a Slow Day

Since Sabine was home today, she naturally wanted to do stuff with me. At first, she wanted to be a teacher --- again. So I played along and answered one "quiz" and that was it. Too bad it didn't occur to me to take a photo of her. She always dresses up when she role plays. As a teacher, she was wearing a floral blazer, printed tee and tutu skirt plus my 5-inch Aldo nude stilettos. Haha. So cute!

After that, I thought of doing our nails next. I haven't tried using the OPI Pink of Hearts set that was given to me recently. This is OPI's Breast Cancer Awareness Collection for 2012. I first did Sabine's nails

I swear I didn't teach her to do this haha. It's monkey see, monkey do obviously!

Then it was my turn. I love how super easy it was to apply both. I needed just one coat of each. The colors are also very forgiving, you don't really need to clean up much after you apply them. I did my nails in the afternoon and my toes right before dinner time. :) 

Tadaaaaaa! Our mother-daughter Breast Cancer Awareness Month nails. 
Shiny, shimmery, splendid!!! How I wish Anissa had stayed at home, too. I'll do this with her this weekend. 

And speaking of splendid, my 6-year old Sabine always manages to look bonggabelles even when we're not going anywhere special. We decided to make a random visit to my SIL this afternoon and this is what she put together as outfit

So fasyon!
Taken in Serenitea where we made a quick stop for milk tea and their famous chicken chops.

It's almost the weekend, folks. Two more sleeps!

A Tantrum at 6am

Sabine rarely throws a tantrum. I guess she woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I was surprised to hear her crying loudly so I went inside the girls' room to check. There she was, sprawled on the floor, tears running down her face. It's PE day and she was already wearing her t-shirt and jogging pants but refused to put on her rubber shoes. According to her, they were tight. They're newly-bought but she already wore them to school yesterday and didn't complain. So I knew this was nothing more than an early morning tantrum. I tried to exercise some patience because this doesn't happen all the time. To cut a long story short, here's what happened ... 

I solved the problem by telling her she's not going to school. Naturally and as expected, an even bigger tantrum ensued. She loves going to school. But we've been working on getting the girls to school on time and it wouldn't have helped if she went to school tardy again today. 

After around 15 minutes of crying non-stop (actually, bawling is more like it), she finally settled down and agreed to eat breakfast. I asked the helper to bring breakfast upstairs and allowed her to watch Disney Junior as she ate. 

I already texted the class adviser about letting us know if she needs to do make-up work for missing school today. I don't think her absence will create a huge dent on her class standing because her 1st term grades were all good. 

After a difficult day yesterday, I prayed for a much better one today. I think it already is, because this little one will be keeping me company the whole time. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What A Day!

There are good days and there are bad days.

When people asked me how I was doing right after Daddy passed away, this is what I would always reply. It's true. Some days were a breeze and I would go through them as if I were not in mourning. Other days were a struggle to get through ... sometimes, it's difficult as early as the time I get up, until the time I'm ready to crash into bed. 

It's still the same for me today, close to 5 months since Daddy left us and now with another trial to deal with. I don't really like saying the "C " word. When I want to be funny and I want the mood to be light, I refer to those awful cells as the Chaka cells :D

Anyhoo ... today was one of those not-so-good days. I felt weighed down. Before anyone starts to think "wow, sayang naman! super positive ka na nga tapos ... " teka muna! *blows whistle* This is not because I've changed my mind about being positive and all feel-good despite being diagnosed with (early stage --- yes, sorry, I need to include this all the time because I want people to realize what a blessing it is to be told your cancer is in its early stage) breast cancer. I've not taken a different route and gone over the deep end, wallowing in self-pity and thinking the worst. There is really no room for that in my life at the moment. You can rest assured that any time I feel negativity creeping in, I'll do my best to stop it dead in its tracks. My breast surgeon has told me more than once that it's a super positive and upbeat attitude that will see anyone through any kind of illness. I absolutely believe she is right.

When it rains, it pours. That's really the best way to describe what today was like. Without being too specific, let's just say I literally felt like I needed someone to throw me a 

Yes, a lifesaver. I wish I could say I needed a piece of candy (ang corny ko), but I really had to be saved from drowning in worries. At one point, I stopped ... said a prayer and apologized to God for crying and worrying about things. I knew it wasn't what He wanted me to do but I had to keep it real as well. Bottling it all up was not the healthy choice. I just had to let it all out. 

Thank God for friends and the group chat feature on the iPhone, I had a venue to air out all my frustrations and receive encouraging words. It just helps a lot when you know you have someone (or a group) who can just listen to you and understand what you're going through, especially because they have gone through the same thing themselves.

In between sobs and stressful moments, I whispered prayers and called out to the heavens for help. I couldn't understand what was happening and why it was all happening at once, but I never questioned. I simply shouted for help so I/we could cope. 

It's never easy trying to be strong around the children, so I'm really glad that Sabine busied herself with stuff when she got home from school. She hardly noticed that something was bothering me. But when Anissa came home around dinner time, it became a challenge to put up a brave front. I keep forgetting that she's all of 16 years old and I can't really pretend around her anymore. She's old enough to know when something's off. So guess what, I did something I had never done since all these trials came. 

This is something unthinkable under normal circumstances, because a parent's instinct is to always shield her/his child from a truth that is painful and bothersome to deal with. But I don't know what prompted me to do the opposite tonight, after years and years of protecting her. I think it was God behind all of this because even if I cried and made her cry as a result, we got to talk seriously about many things. The death of the grandfather who was so dear to her and who treated her like royalty, how much we all miss him and how life is really not the same without him,  the fact that Mommy is fighting breast cancer (the good way), her prayer life, how God works mysteriously, what having faith in God brings you in return and many more. At some point, Sabine who is always a pakialamera, asked if she could join our little chat and shared with us what she prays for everytime she goes to the chapel in school. What started out as a really emotional encounter ended up doing us all a lot of good. Too bad N wasn't there, he was busy working on something downstairs. 

Right now, I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Who does? But I found this prayer and this will be my message for God tonight

I am very glad, Dear Lord that my bedtime has arrived. God, this has been such a difficult day for me to get through. My mind and body are so tired. It truly seems as though one problem after another has occurred today. But I was able to keep going, thanks to Your loving help. I need to rest now and to forget how trying this day has been for me. Do please bless me with a good night's sleep and when morning comes, let me feel refreshed and renewed. I pray that You will answer my prayer by making tomorrow a much better day for me.. I love You... Goodnight, Dear Lord.

If there's one thing I learned about today, it's that difficult days happen. I'm not special, I'm not an exception. We all go through them every now and then. We can only pray that when we have to go through tough situations and are overwhelmed by them, that the Lord takes us through it and we emerge stronger and wiser because of the lessons we take away from it. I have so many from today. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

All I Want For Christmas Is ... this time I'm serious

You know how when people ask you what you want for Christmas and you say

"Oh nothing really ... basta my kids get what they want, I'm okay."? 

In my case, I always mean it when I say it. But there's always that thought bubble which contains something like ... 

"But you know, it wouldn't be a bad idea if someone gave me new shoes or that new purse I saw recently, or maybe even a new watch ... " 

Admit it! LOL.

Serioulsy this year, my answer will be this

I don't want anything material for Christmas. 
And I don't have anything in my thought bubble at all. 

Nothing material, nothing tangible. Nothing I can hold or touch. Nothing of the sort for myself.

I have been through a lot this year so far. Celebrating Christmas this year is not even about me anymore. Well, it's been that way since I became a Mom. But that's even going to be more like it this year, mainly because it will be our first Christmas without Daddy. So to answer the age-old question ... here is my Christmas list for this really unforgettable year : 

I wish ... 

... that I can go through my chemotherapy sessions without much hassle (that's 18 weeks beginning on October 23rd, 2 weeks from now)

... that the Lord continues to bless my family with strength to deal with the last leg of my journey with breast cancer (yes, I am claiming chemo treatments as the last leg!)

... that I will continue to enjoy receiving the Lord's grace, which I badly need to be able to deal with spending Christmas and New Year without Daddy, and while doing chemo at that. Do I smell a challenge coming? 

... for my Mom (most especially) to be gifted with a very deep kind of understanding and acceptance of my Dad's passing, especially when the holidays are here

... for my kids to still be able to enjoy the holidays despite the circumstances, missing their Lolo and knowing that Mommy's journey is not over

And finally ...

After coming face to face with this awful illness, which blind sided all of us, I really really wish for everyone in my family to continue to be healthy. N, my kids, my Mom, my brother. Everyone in my immediate environment. Going through something like this is really no walk in the park. I would never ever wish it on anyone, not even on someone I totally dislike. 

So basically, I'm going to ignore Santa Claus this year because I don't really need him for myself. My kids, on the other hand, will continue to adore him haha. 

All my requests will be sent up to heaven through prayers and with the help of my number one fan up there, my Dad. I trust and I believe that they will all be given to me! 

Nic's Gourmet Desserts

I've seen them at the Rockwell/Power Plant Baker's Dozen a few times but don't remember trying anything out. That's 'cause I usually go to my "old reliables" there. 

A couple of Sundays ago though, Mom and I together with Sabine, were on our way to church when we drove by their shop/restaurant along A. Mabini in San Juan. It was the first time I saw it, despite living just a few minutes away. Intrigued, we made a mental note and said we would drop by after mass. We needed dessert for that evening's family dinner at home anyway.

Couldn't take a photo of the facade because I would have to cross the street for that and Mom wouldn't have allowed me just yet. 

The place is cozy but spacious, does that make sense? :) The dessert bar in the middle allows customers to eat there and at the same time, sample their best sellers. Yes, they have tiny slices of each of them, for you to try before deciding which one/s you want to take home or eat while you're there. Really helpful idea, if you ask me. 

The walls are covered with their merchandise, it's very difficult to go home empty-handed!

Dips and Sauces

Their breads and packed bars

But if you think their walls are packed, look at their chillers! It took us so long to choose which ones we wanted to try out. Not good, not good. Haha. 

Everything is made so friendly and convenient. You can even take your time while trying out their dips, with their wheat chips. 

This little girl enjoyed this part so much. I'm always so amazed that my kids' taste in food has always been adventurous. 

We went home an hour later (or maybe more?) with lotsa goodies to try out. None of them disappointed. I would've written specifically about each but they were gone before I could sit down to write. If you live in the area or frequent it, you might want to drop by yourself.

Nic's Gourmet Desserts
172 A. Mabini St. Bgy. Addition Hills, San Juan 
715-5831 708 3277

P.S. Almost forgot to mention, they serve simple meals, too. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Healing - too good not to share

 It's Sunday, which means I'm going to church today. I can't wait because there are people I haven't seen since my surgeries whom I need to thank profusely. They prayed so hard for me and have reassured N of their continued prayers. I'm seeing them for the first time and I want to express my gratitude personally. Looking forward to it! 

As I travel down the road to recovery, I am constantly exposed and introduced to people who cheer me on and encourage me to move forward. These people, I truly believe, are God-sent. They are brought to me for a reason, by no less than the Lord, who planned everything. I've always believed that every little thing happens for a reason and that there are no accidents in life. 

Take this, for instance ... 

I opened my Twitter account as always and one of the first tweets I saw was Cathy Babao-Guballa's. It had a link to her column on The Philippine Daily Inquirer today. The title was enough to catch my attention. Immediately, I knew I had to go to the link to read what was in it. 

Here it is, if you're interested in finding out why I got so piqued by it. 

My favorite part is this : 

Always, it is in His perfect time that we become healed, and only the scars of battle remain as a constant reminder of the struggle we went through and how His grace never leaves us where He first finds us. 

It's Sunday. It's the perfect time for me to thank the Lord for being present in my life now more than ever, for blessing me with so much grace to handle all the difficulties I've been going through since Daddy died, for blessing my family with the same grace, strength, peace and courage. 

He probably wanted to remind me, by way of Cathy's column, that although there are times I feel sad, alone and worried, He is never too far away. 

I am blessed and I just need to remember it all the time!

Have a blessed Sunday, everyone! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

For The Sake of My Daughters

While it's not confirmed that my daughters have the "gene", I'm still committed to learning more about breast cancer and what people are doing to help improve survival rates, provide options for treatments and what not. My daughters won't have to deal with this issue for many years but I want them to be properly informed. I can only ensure they know enough by arming myself with enough information.

I came across this article on the Huffington Post today which talks about the latest (2012) findings on breast cancer. It's a really interesting read which can help those who are pre-disposed to the disease by way of family history. 

Please follow this link to get to the article and spend some time reading it. It's really insightful.

On another note ... it's Sabine's report card day today. First time since she entered the big school! Normally, it's tough waking her up early on weekends but look!

She was so excited to leave for school this morning with her Dada. Unfortunately, my lower back decided to throw a friggin' tantrum today. It's been taking most of the crap as a result of my surgeries. If it could only speak, it would've thrown a lot of cuss words my way by now. 

It's the weekend, everyone! Time to relax, forget about work and just enjoy being with family!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns

Breast Cancer is the most common type of cancer that hits women. As such, people all over the world support causes to find a cure, raise funds for those who are in need (for surgeries and treatments), or simply to remember and honour those who were not so fortunate to have survived it. 

This is one of the reasons I don't feel too bad about getting it. I know that each year, new studies are done. If this continues, doctors will always find new options for patients. It will only get easier as the years go by! 

Since my diagnosis, I've received so many gifts. A couple of them are from friends who are into nail polish. I've received two sets of BC Awareness collections from different brands. I came across this today on Facebook ... 

To tell you honestly, I was never a huge fan of the color pink. These shades look so tempting though, and the names that were coined for each make it even more difficult to resist getting them. Yes, I can really, really relate! Plus, Essie is really my favorite brand of all. I became a fan of Essie in the early 2000's, when it was newly-introduced here. 

Their slogan hits home, too.  I can't go through this experience alone. The fact that I'm surrounded by a lot of people who care about me have made this journey so much easier for me to be on. 

And look at this ... in observance of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Another brand I like has its own campaign

Sigh! So much eye candy!

I waaaaaaant!

Pretty Cupcakes

Every now and then, I come across little things that remind me of my lack of creative talent and make me feel so ignorant about using my hands to make things. 

Today, it's these cupcakes that look too beautiful to eat! 

I've never ever seen anything like them. They look so perfect for afternoon tea. They look like they came straight out of Martha Stewart's kitchen.

KitchenAid cupcakes? How creative!

I've seen this done on cakes many times. But designer purses on cupcakes? Looks complicated!

This entire display is for staring, not eating. Haha!

As nail art. So cute! 

Ombre style, too? 

I like this because it looks and sounds so good.
Toffee Crunch Cupcake w/ Caramel Frosting. Are you craving now? 

What kind of icing is best? Icing, to me, is all the same. I love it regardless of shape, form or color.

And finally ... this is so true for a cupcake monster like yours truly

Thank God It's Friday! God bless us all.

All photos are from Pinterest

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Cancer Calendar

I've been able to document everything so far, but here are the dates gathered in one entry : 

August 13, 2012

In the morning, I discovered the lump in my left breast 
In the afternoon, I was at my OB-Gyne's clinic to have her look at the lump

August 14, 2012

I met Dr. Aldine Basa, Breast Surgeon, for the first time upon my OB's reco
She ordered a breast ultrasound for the next day

August 15, 2012

Underwent a breast ultrasound at the Breast Clinic of The Medical City

August 16, 2012

Reading of breast ultrasound c/o Dr. Basa (highly suspicious of malignancy)
Further testing recommended
Core Needle Biopsy scheduled for the next day

August 17, 2012

Core Needle Biopsy Procedure at the Breast Clinic of The Medical City

Then this is where it got REALLY challenging. August 17 was a Friday. The weekend that followed was a very long one --- 4 days. Work resumed on Wednesday, August 22, but Dr. Basa's clinic at TMC was on August 23! We waited that long to know the results of the biopsy!

August 23, 2012 - the day my life changed

Reading of core needle biopsy result c/o Dr. Basa
Verdict : "it's not good..." Lump is malignant, positive of cancer
I was told that I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and it looks like it's at stage 2.

At this point, Dr Basa gave me all my options, told me that I would have to undergo a mastectomy of the left breast because a lumpectomy would only deform the breast severely. I was also presented with the option of having reconstructive breast surgery c/o Dr. Catherine (Yen) Asedillo. N and I were given 2 weeks to explore, research, decide.

August 24, 2012

We went to the UST Hospital, to Dr. Renato Reyes, Surgeon, for a 2nd opinion. He gave us so much hope by telling me that my lymph nodes were uncompromised (no cancer cells have crawled to the immediate area in the armpit). He also was more specific about the staging --- 2a, early stage. Yes! Although the diagnosis was purely clinical at this point, it definitely made me more positive than ever.

(Fast forward to) September 12, 2012

The day of the surgeries in TMC
I chose to have a Skin Sparing Mastectomy, Reconstructive Breast Surgery (Tram Flap), Sentinel Nodes Dissection and Frozen Section Biopsy. My doctors also discovered during the procedure that I had hernia from my pregnancies so they repaired it. I went through so much and was out and under general anaesthesia for more than 8 hours.

September 17, 2012

I was discharged from the hospital and was back home by dinner time.

And again ... fast forward to today, October 4, 2012

Still in recovery but recovering so well! Waiting to heal completely before my 6 cycles of chemotherapy treatments start on the week of October 22.

As you will notice, I didn't waste time since I discovered my lump on August 13. I hate to say it but I've been to Medical City more often than I would like. But I want to get this over with, I need to get well. The chemo sessions will end this very challenging chapter.

I can't wait!

P.S. I asked my doctor (because I wanted to hear it from an expert's mouth) if I can officially say that the cancer is out and she said that since there was no metastasis discovered during surgery and the lump was successfully extracted, the answer is YES :) :) :)