Saturday, December 31, 2011


Christmas this year was kind of a bust for us....both of our kids were sick. I think total in 24 hours we had 7 throw-ups! However, the kids got spoiled rotten, and so did we. It was great seeing family, but it was a LONG day. Because of this we did not get ONE SINGLE PICTURE!!!! What is wrong with us? I guess some adorable pics of my family with Santa will have to do....enjoy!


I had my mammogram done on the 29th. The results look FABULOUS! The only cancerous calcifications they could see were in the lump! Now onto the MRI which is scheduled for the 5th. Here's to hoping the results for that come back just as good!

The evening of the 29th I also had a non-hormonal IUD placed for birth control. IT WAS TERRIBLE! My cervix and uterus were not happy about the invasion and I had significant cramps. So bad to the point where I nearly lost the contents of my stomach. It was an awful night. Poor Trav got a little overwhelmed because of the "preview of what's to come". I feel so bad. I wish it didn't have to be this way....

Last night I had such a great opportunity to talk/email with two amazing girls who have been where I am right now. One was 26 at the time of her diagnosis and the other was 32. It was unbelieveably helpful. I am so grateful to these women who have been willing to share their experiences with me. I've learned so much.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Support System

I am so grateful for my family, my friends, and all those who surround me with their love. On Christmas, I was reminded how lucky I am. In 1997, my uncle, aunt, and one cousin were killed in a tragic car accident. Because of this, my 2 surviving cousins were placed in the care of my aunt's brother and his wife. They were then "adopted" into our family by default. As I told Danny about my diagnosis he simply stated, "BreeAnn, you have an amazing support system here. There isn't a day go by that I don't consider myself lucky to have been adopted into this family. They are amazing and they are here for you and will support you every step of the way." As tears pooled in his eyes, the Spirit filled my being. I am truly blessed. Not only am I blessed with this amazing family both immediate and extended, but also with my husband's family, my work family, my ward family, and my dear friends. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your offers of support, for your hugs, and for being there for me. I love you all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Baby Steps

Well, things are going along, I guess, as can be expected. Each day or every couple of days I seem to deal with something new. It is like my mind grasps different little aspects of this diagnosis to mourn or deal with at a time. Monday night and Tuesday night it was simply accepting the fact that I have cancer. Then I did okay until Wednesday night. I watched a video (below) that a friend posted on my facebook cancer update her sister did for Logan Regional. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last year at the age of 31.

I guess I was ready to mourn the side effects of chemo, because as I watched that video it hit me....the pictures of her completely bald, no eyelashes, no eyebrows, NO HAIR. I listened as she described her diagnosis and her treatment. Some feelings I myself have already felt, some feelings I'm sure are yet to come. I wept again.......mourning these very stupid trivial things that mean so much to me. I never realized how much of who I am (to me at least) is my hair, how much of my self-confidence is built in how I look. For some reason I didn't realize that during chemo you even lose your eyelashes. So, now not only do I lose my hair, but I lose the ability to doll up my eyes, my winning feature, with mascara....which in my opinion I look TERRIBLE without mascara! I know you all will tell me that I still look beautiful, and I hope by the time it happens I can believe you all. So stupid these things that I cried about all night on Wednesday are, but right then (and honestly still now), they were important to me and I mourned them. I began mourning the treatment process that night. I truly became scared of chemo and it's side effects. Another hurdle, another road block, another thing that will become a stepping stone in my life, a stepping stone to a better, stronger, cancer-free me.

Thursday morning I began dealing with another lurking deamon inside me. I met with one of my managers at work. We had a good talk. I expressed my worries of being a burden to them with my here and there schedule, with my frequent doctor appointments..... he chastized me for saying such a thing, but it it's true. I work with some amazing people who would bend over backwards for me. They are a second family to me literally. I know they will overwork themselves trying to pick up my slack. I'm worried about being a burden there despite their insistence otherwise. I'm worried about them, they all have their own issues they are dealing with right now. The last thing they need is me sick, unable to take my share of the load, unable to help pick up their slack. I'm afraid of being a burden at work, but I'm grateful for them.

At work on Thursday, I also received questions from many about my doctors, where I was going to to get treatment, etc. This got me to thinking. Did I want a second opinion? Should I go to SLC to the Huntsman Cancer Institute for services? Or should I check out McKay Dee?

That night I also had a good friend from PT school offer for me to talk to her husband. He is currently doing his residency in plastic surgery and performs mastectomies, lumpectomies, and breast reconstructions after such surgeries. I called Shaun and discussed all the options with him in depth. It was great to have a second opinion from someone that I trust, someone who is really up to date in all the latest research. I learned some information I had not yet learned and I confirmed much of what my surgeon has already discussed with me. I cannot thank you Erin and Shaun enough for your help and knowledge. It means the world to me. It has helped tremendously. I feel more educated because of you and better able to make these decisions I am faced with.

So, after all of this on Thursday, needless to say I hit a state of being hugely OVERWHELMED. I had so many decisions to make.....Where do I get treatment? Do I want a second opinion? Where do I get the second opinion? How long will it take to get an appointment with another surgeon/oncologist? Will it delay treatment? How many opinions is too many opinions? Do I want a mastectomy or a lumpectomy? If I choose a mastectomy, who would be the plastic surgeon to reconstruct my breast? Would I want a second opinion on that? And it went on from there. It was so much going on in my brain. I have all these things I need to decide--big decisions, life altering decisions. Then, a wise woman (aka Mom), reminded me to take things one baby step at a time. Right now all I need to worry about is surgery. How do I feel about my current choice of surgeon? Excellent, especially after talking to Shaun. Lumpectomy versus mastectomy? Still need the mammogram and MRI test results to decide this. And well, I can start looking into plastic surgeons should those be needed. As for the rest of the decisions, I still have lots of time and I will have the guidance of the spirit when the time for these decisions comes. Baby steps.

This morning, as I was playing with my babies, tears came to my eyes again. How are my babies going to handle all of this? Will they recognize their mamma without hair? Will they tolerate all the babysitters, transitions, and time away from us? Will I be able to play with them without setting off a bout of lymphadema? Will I be able to snuggle them after my surgery, or will it hurt too bad? Will I be able to snuggle them with my chemo port in? Will they feel deprived of my love as I deal with everything from sickness, to fatigue, to times of depression? Will I be a good Mom through all of this? And then there is Trav....he will have a big burden: caring for the kids, caring for me, school, testing with fire departments, not to mention all the emotional stress. Can he handle it all without breaking? Can I be enough of a support system for him? I don't know the answers to these questions. The unknown breaks my heart a little. What I do know is I have a Savior and Heavenly Father who love me. They love my family. They make up the difference in my life and they will watch over us. It will be okay.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


When I saw the words invasive and in situ ductal carcinoma on my biopsy report I was shocked, scared, and heart broken. It hit me....I have breast cancer. And then I wept.....

I'll start at the beginning. Back in September I noticed a lump in my breast when I was pumping, but I was still pumping so I just figured it was related to my milk or a small clogged milk duct. I monitored it, but it didn't change. In October I officially started weaning and the lump size still didn't change. At the beginning of December, after not pumping for over a month, the lump was still there so I called my OB office to ask if I needed to get it checked out. A visit was scheduled for a breast exam where I was told that the lump was round and moveable which was a good sign, but that they wanted to get it checked out further just to be safe. I was sent for an ultrasound. On the ultrasound they found what appeared to be a solid mass with smooth edges that measured about 2 cm x 1.5cm. The ultrasonographer told me it was likely something called a fibroadenoma that was harmless and very common after pregnancy.

I followed up with the surgeon the next week where he looked over the ultrasound report, did another breast exam including palpating my lymph nodes under my armpit, and told me that he agreed with the was likely a fibroadenoma, but because it appeared solid so he recommended getting a biopsy just to cover our bases.

So, on Friday the 16th I had the biopsy done and the tissue samples were sent to the pathologist. I was told the results should be back in 48-72 hours. On Monday night I had a message from the surgeon stating he was sorry that he missed me as he was heading out of the office and that he would call me first thing Tuesday morning. I knew the results were back, so I hopped on My Health (which is a website Intermountain hospital has for patients to be able to access their medical records) and with Trav by my side we read the report.

Tuesday morning I talked with the doctor (who was unaware I had access to the results and was a little angry with me for looking it up...oops! He wanted to be the one to tell me I had cancer) and we scheduled an appointment for later that afternoon. We spent 1 1/2 hours with him discussing what happens next. He was amazing! He explained my treatment options and we made a basic plan.

So, the next steps are a mammogram on the 29th and an MRI shortly there after. These are to screen for additional cancer in my breasts to make sure there isn't more that we don't know about yet. The results of those tests will help us know if we should do a lumpectomy only or if I will need to have a mastectomy. Right now we think we'll just have to do the lumpectomy, but we will see. My lump appeared to be noncancerous in the beginning too, so I'm not ruling anything out quite yet. We are thinking the surgery will be sometime the first week of January. They then take the cancer and officially stage it. Right now it looks like a Stage 2 cancer, but we will know for sure after the surgery. The next step will be meeting with the oncologist. I have lots of questions for him. Then I'll start chemo. Once the chemo is done I will probably need radiation too. That is pretty much all we know right now.

I'll keep you updated as more info comes along. We have a private facebook group that will have regular updates. Let me know if you want to be invited. I am actually doing great today (the last two days have been rough though). I'm definitely shaken emotionally and there are ups and downs with the tears. I know I'm going to be okay. It is curable. That is what matters....there is still hope. It is going to be a journey and I only hope I can endure it with dignity. I'm afraid of chemo, of losing my hair, of being sick, of reproductive issues afterwards. I hate telling people and watching others be uncomfortable around me. I'm still me and right now I feel great physically--I just have this darn lump. I don't mind talking about it as long as you are okay if I tear up depending on the day. It is going to be journey.....thanks for being willing to come along with me.

Thanks to all of you! I love you so much. I feel your prayers literally--they have given me so much strength and comfort these last few days. Your support is overwhelming. I promise we will use you when we need you. The worst is yet to come, and, so is the best.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Allreds!

I'm terrible, but I decided to go digital for our Christmas card this year. I just didn't have time to print and address cards to send, so at least I'm doing something right? Enjoy!

The Happenings of the Allred Family in 2011

Trav is a jack-of-all trades this year--literally. He completed fire school, worked at his Real Estate, was able to join the staff at Bridgerland Applied Technology College teaching CPR and EMT classes, and just recently joined the State of Utah Bureau of EMS test team. He did all of this while embracing the roll of stay-at-home daddy to our two spirited twins. He is one of the best cooks in the world and keeps our house in order with all of his organizational skills and lists! In January he is returning to school at Utah State University to complete the last few pre-requisite classes required for paramedic school (which he hopes to begin in the Fall 2012 at Weber State). He will be testing with several fire agencies this Spring and hopes that soon he will have a job as a career firefighter and EMS personnel.

I have been holding down the fort working at Logan Regional Hospital as a Physical Therapist in their Pediatric and Women's Health/Spine departments. I love my job. Don't tell, Trav. but I really think he has the harder job of the two of us. The hardest part of my day is saying good-bye to my little ones, but absence does make the heart grow fonder (as does not changing poopy bums, staying up all night, and breaking up the head-butting/biting fights). I'm loving being a Mommy, but wonder where all my time went. I really need to scrapbook, exercise, and sew! Maybe next year..... One of my biggest accomplishments for the year is that I actually made it pumping milk for the twins for ONE WHOLE YEAR! Sorry if that makes anyone uncomfortable, but anyone who has pumped realizes what a big feat it is.

Tayson, more commonly known as Bubba, is turning into quite the mischievous little man. He will test the limits every chance he gets and will even get into quite the predicament every now and again. He is VERY social and loves his sissy, so much that "Sissy" was his first recognizable word. He is such a funny boy with tons of personality. He loves to eat and that is about the only time he is holding still, unless he is asleep (which by the way he HATES to do). His preferred weapon in a fight would be a swift head butt, and he has a killer bottom lip when it comes to a pouty face. He will win over your heart in an instance and we LOVE him to pieces.

Brielle is still just a tiny little girl weighing in at just over 14lbs. She has many nicknames including Little Miss, Ells Bells, Princess, and the one her brother has chosen...Sissy. She is a little more cautious than her brother when it comes to, well,, motor development, other people. She LOVES to read books and play with stuffed animals. She is more the observant type and often appears deep in thought. She can stand her own against her brother choosing to use her sharp teeth. She is either a Daddy's Girl or a Mommy's Girl depending on the day. Brielle got glasses earlier this year to help prevent her eyes from crossing and they seem to be working well. She will likely have to wear them all her life. We love this little girl!

We hope this season finds you all well.

Much love.....

The Allreds