Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hello Gorgeous!!


This is what happened to me on Friday....

Cancer survivor surprised with makeover

Over $600 donated to do makeover

Updated: Saturday, 17 Jul 2010, 3:17 PM EDT

Published : Friday, 16 Jul 2010, 9:55 PM EDT

Tiffanie Dismore

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - A woman shopping for a wedding present got a gift of her own Friday afternoon. 34-year-old cancer survivor Melissa Culver-Pekny was at the Tippecanoe Mall when family and friends surprised her with a makeover.

Culver-Pekny was in shock when friends and family rushed toward her at J.C. Penny, surprising her with a makeover. The makeover was courtesy of Hello Gorgeous! , a nonprofit organization that provides free makeovers for women with cancer. Needless to say, Culver-Pekny was speechless.

"Unbelievable. After this whole last year. It's unbelievable," she said after the surprise.

Culver-Pekny was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer just over a year ago and, as it is for all cancer patients, hasn't been an easy road.

"I've had 10 rounds of chemotherapy and then I had my surgery in January and then radiation," she said.

Now friends and family wanted her to be treated like a queen. The lucky lady was whisked away to this Hello Gorgeous! mobile day-spa right outside the mall to get pampered and made over.

"Facial, that was amazing! They did my make-up and taught me how to do my make-up. Barnyard cuts in Chalmers did my hair. They colored it and cut it right there on the bus," Culver-Pekny said, explaining some of pampering she received.

Friends and family gathered outside the RV, waiting to see the makeover. Culver-Pekny called them her support system.

"Helping me through the fears and the sadness and losing my hair and the sickness and everything," Culver-Pekny said, describing her families and friends.

The big moment arrived and as the doors of the RV opened, the crowd yelled 'hello gorgeous!'.

"Gorgeous! I feel absolutely gorgeous!" Culver-Pekny said after her makeover.

"This gives her an extra lift to know that someone cares enough to help her in this year of hardships," Culver-Pekny's mom Donella Carter said after seeing her daughter for the first time after the makeover.

Hello Gorgeous! founder Kim Becker and creative director Trisha Greenlee usually do the makeovers in South Bend, but are on a six week road trip doing makeovers for cancer survivors across the state.

"To make it to where they might even forget that they have cancer for a few hours. They are so empowering. They are just so inspiring," Greenlee explained.

Over $600 worth of clothing, jewelry, make-up and time was donated for the makeover. Culver-Pekny also received a free dinner with all her friends and family afterward her makeover.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Counselor and Coincidence

I meet with the counselor on Monday and loved her. She looked at me and said, “You are so young!” I looked at her and said, “You are just a girl too!” Then she asked me, “How old are you?’. I told her and I said, “How old are you?” She is thirty six just a year older than me. After that exchange, we talked about the last year and the feelings of guilt and sadness I am having. She even talked to me about Jesus with and my faith. We are going to continue to meet for a while.
Yesterday I got a phone call from a woman who was diagnosed with cancer last August. She got my name through the Community Cancer Network. The lady and I talked about our journeys and at the end of the conversation we decided to meet someday for lunch. She told me her last name so that we could connect on face book. When I heard her last name I realized I had prayed for her when she was initially diagnosed. I explained to her that a co-worker of mine attends her church and had told me all about her last August. How crazy is that?

Five Doctor Appointments Two Days

Todd and I went to Indy last week and meet with several docs. The first visit was with a reconstruction doctor. It was explained to me that because of the type of treatment I have had I only have two options for reconstruction. Option one the doc takes your back muscles and flip it around to make your new breast. It is a four to five hour surgery then three to four days of recovery in hospital and then four to five week recovery at home. Option two DIEP the doc takes your stomach skin and fat (giving you a tummy tuck in the process) and literally sews it on to your chest using microsurgery. This surgery is an eight hour process, then five days in the hospital and six weeks of recovery at home. Then a few months later after swelling goes down you get your real one fixed to match your new one. Plus later you get a nipple put on. He was really nice and Todd and I appreciated his honesty. We have a long time to think about it because I can’t even start the process til January. Right now I think I may wait for a while because I want to be able to play with my kids.

The second stop was my mammogram on my left breast. I was really nervous about this. The Doc came and told me it was good. Thank goodness. The third stop was with Doc Kennedy. She did a physical exam and also explained to me about the importance of watching and doing a self exam on my right side. The last person we meet with was a nurse for a survivor meeting. The nurse talked to Todd and me about how to handle the different feelings and symptoms I was having from the chemo and radiation. She gave us all of my medical records for the last year and a book on what to do now that I am almost done with treatment book.

I felt relieved after talking with her because one of the issues I have had is a problem with word recall and short term memory. I literally will be having a conversation and will stop saying something because I can’t remember the word I want to say. But I am not crazy!!! It is normal for this to happen…which makes me feel so much better.

The next day I meet with my oncologist and had a treatment. This is the first time I felt unlucky in my room placement; I got stuck with an older women who was sleeping so well she was snoring!!!! It was so loud I started laughing and she still did not wake up. Oncologist said things are going well. She hooked me up with a counselor to help me deal with my issues of fear and sadness.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shout Out

Today I put on a necklace that someone gave me a while ago it says SURVIVOR....

On this day one year ago the doctor came into the room and said, "yeah, it's cancer!". I looked at my mom and said, "o.k., what do we do next? It will be o.k.".  This year has been a journey of ups and downs. I have constantly been amazed at how much love, support and prayers I have received from love ones, friends and complete strangers. 

So in honor of this day I want to SHOUT OUT to some people who have been there.  This is just a partial list...

The FAM...all of you to dads and moms, kids, the best husband in the world, sistas, brothers, nieces and nephews and cousins. I can't thank you for everything you did....the list would be to long.

The Medical Staff and Dr. K at Clarian Cancer Care...the attention and love I feel when I go there is unbelievable. I don't even want to put names down because I know I will forget one of you...From the moment I walked in I have felt that each one of you truely cares. Plus you put up with my crazy stories, my loud mouth, and my laughing especially when another truely special cancer patient and her daughter are there.

The Medical Staff and Dr. Kennedy at Clarian North Breast Care...you amazing...the complete package and have helped the husband and I so much.

The Co-workers (Health Dept, APC, Building, Mits)...God Bless you all...for putting up with my illness, my chemo crabbies and lack of energy. Taking on part of my job and for continually listening to my crazy stories and the FAKE ONE Saga.

The Brookston Federated Church and neighbors...you are amazing the love you have wrapped around my family is amazing. The food was delicious which is probably why I gain 25 pounds on chemo.  I can not forget the night that our family of four received a meal that consisted of a whole ham, a huge pan of potatoes, corn, salad, homemade rolls, and dessert.  Or the meal that the Wood's family brought that couldn't even fit on our table.

Melissa's Crusaders....All of you who have showed your love by wearing the shirt around and spreading the word about IBC.

The Strangers...All of those people who I have never meet that have sent cards and prayed like crazy... Eula especially...I can't wait to meet you.

CHAOS...thanks for shaving my head and doing the same with your hair.  Your moms were amazing in allowing their boys to look just like their youth group leader.

Thank you all. My journey is not over but this past year has been easier because of all of you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Show and Tell

O.k. I am a dork.  I have had this fake one (fo) for about a month and half.  I have been having fun showing it off. I am amazed about how many people actually want to see it.  I showed it off at work the other day.  Then at the family reunion after several people left. I took it out so the relatives could see it.  Then I was at a party the other day and I got it out.  I also went to the back room at church and showed it to some of the ladies who have had my back this past year. The following are some of the things I have heard during show and tell:
1. I can't believe how big it is.
2. It feels so real.
3. How funny is the nipple?

I wonder if I am too open with the whole thing...but then I feel I am educating women about this process. I wish I had been able to talk to a women about what they went through...hopefully this will make it easier for someone else along the way.  Someone told me that you have to deal with it so choose how you are going to cope...I choose to be an open book.

I am...

TIRED!!! I have been so tired the last few weeks. Some days I don't want to get out of bed.  It is like I have a personal struggle with myself some days about getting out of bed.  I know in my heart I need to get up and exercise or at least do something. But it is very hard for me. One doctor thinks I am depressed, another doc thinks I am doing great. Most support groups for women with breast cancer in this area are women who were diagnosed in their sixties. I am not going through the same things as a sixty year old.  Hard for them to understand what it is like to raise a family and go through treatment.