Thursday, October 1, 2015

No excuses!

My first blog post was 3 years ago today.  I can’t believe everything that has happened in the past 3 years. And today, a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.  I am sad for those who lost loved ones, for those who might never feel safe again because of what they experienced, to those who are impacted in any way.  In a world where so many things can happen to us that we have no control over I am taking this opportunity to urge you to make your annual appointments, mammogram appointments and get anything checked that you’ve been wondering about.  Take control of this one thing and make the appointment with your doctor that you know you need to make. 

In the past 2-3 months I’ve had a colonoscopy, dermatology exam, bone scan, seen my breast surgeon, oncologist, radiologist, dentist, OB/GYN, general doctor, orthopedic surgeon, had several PT appointments and probably a few other doctor appointments that I’m not remembering right now.  You don’t have an excuse to not make one appointment.  I’m not allowing you to have an excuse.

Micah’s Pediatrician passed away recently.  He was 46, a father to 6 kids, husband to a wife that loved him dearly, doctor to a ton of kids and someone that mothers (and probably fathers) could go to and get reassurance that they were doing a good job.  I can’t believe how much this impacted me and I only saw him a few times a year in his office.  He found out about 3 months before he died that he had a very rare cancer.  He’d had some symptoms but ignored them, probably because he was super busy.  His wife started a blog and wow, she have an amazing faith in God.  So did Dr Collins.

I took over a project at work for someone who was going on leave.  I wanted to ask why but didn’t dare because I actually have never met her in person so I had no clue what her leave could be for.  I happened to find out she was going on leave for breast cancer.  She’s 39 and a mother of 2.  It’s a perfect coincidence and I’ve been able to share my story and offer support to her.  I might never meet her in person, she lives in Boston!  I don’t even know what she looks like!  But we now have a bond because of cancer.

Life is weird and confusing and scary.  And great! Tonight Bobby was helping Micah with some flash cards for school.  Too cute!  Helena turns 18 in 8 days.  Wow!  She’s a senior and we’re talking about college.  My mom just got back from a long summer away from us.  This is her 4th night home, Micah spent the night at her house on her 2nd night home and will again on her 5th night home.  Court (my brother), Christine, Avery and Courtney are coming to visit for the first time since I’ve lived here.  I received good news at all of my doctor appointments (except maybe the orthopedic dr but that’s not life threatening so I’m counting it as ok).  We are living and enjoying our lives and dealing with the bumps in the road.  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Finale: noun fi·na·le \fə-ˈna-lē, fi-ˈnä-\ - The last part of something (such as a musical performance, play, etc.)

I looked at Kim and said “I can’t believe we are doing this!” and she replied “I know!!!”  We sounded like a bunch of giddy teenagers.

Back in Summer 2014 I agreed to be a part of this cancer survivor runway show.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into but figured I didn’t have anything to lose.  I mentioned the runway show in my blog a few times but still had no idea what all was involved.

Fast forward to March 24, 2015.  (I just got chills while I typed the date)  One of the most amazing nights of my life.  I know I won’t be able to explain the experience in a way that will make it clear how truly lucky I am to have been a part of this but I'll do my best. 

We met in February for our gifting party and to begin our weekly practices in preparation for the runway show.  OMG what a party this was.  I really had no idea what to expect but was in awe at all of the gifts we received from businesses in our community.  The estimated value of our gifts was somewhere around $2500 for EACH OF US.  After receiving our gifts and setting up appointments for our fittings we sat in a circle and each of us told our stories.  When it came to my story I had no idea what to say!  I had been listening so intently to each story, wanting to know more about the lives of each woman I was hearing from that I didn't get the chance to plan what I was going to say.  All I could do was speak from the heart. We all had something in common and at that moment became as close as though we’d known each other for years. 

Our practices consisted of learning to pose on the runway and for photos, learning to walk the runway and how to do turns and spins, learning the choreography for our show and getting our pictures taken individually and as a group (by Chandra who only snapped 2 pics of me and maybe 4 of the group and caught pictures that everyone likes!).  The practices also included a lot of girl talk!  These women really were becoming my close friends.  We all share something that is so unique and can support each other in a way that we didn’t even know we needed. 

On March 24, 2015 our lives were changed forever thank you to a few women who found it in their hearts to create an event to empower cancer survivors.  This was a top notch event!  As we were waiting to walk the runway in our first outfit, our formal dresses, we were nervous.  I looked at Kim and said “I can’t believe we are doing this!” and she replied “I know!!!”  We sounded like a bunch of giddy teenagers.  That was about as ‘out of control’ as I got.’  I walked on stage and the crowd was cheering for me!  WOW!  Everyone in that room was cheering for ME!!!  I don’t know how my friends and family got so lucky but they were smack dab at the end of the runway.  I walked towards them and could see them cheering and smiling.  Oh what a feeling!

All of a sudden I was changing into my second outfit, a contemporary outfit that I love!  And then it was time to walk onto the runway for a 2nd time.  This time Kim and I walked out together.  We rocked that runway and then we were changing into our third outfits and couldn’t believe the show was almost over!  Everything went by way too fast. We wanted to keep walking the runway!  The nerves were gone and we all had the biggest smiles on our faces!

Our third outfits were resort wear.  My outfit was pretty much a muumuu and a bikini top.  But it was better than that and I felt like a million bucks in it.  This was our final walk.  Everyone was still cheering!  Everyone cheered the entire time we walked the runway!  All 19 of us, Cancer Survivors/Mothers/Daughters/Wives/Friends, were on the runway together having the time of our lives!

This event was a monumental day in my life.  I didn’t even realize this until after the event but I couldn’t have planned it better.  Doctors, nurses, friends and family came to celebrate My Finale.  After pretty much being off work for 2 years, I plan to return to work in 1 week.  The Kemp family is about to find out what our new normal is and this finale was one I will never forget!

Susan and Lisa had an idea to empower cancer survivors and they sure have done this!

Our team!  Dawn, Eloise, Lane, Lisa, Celeste, Patrice and Susan.  We love them all!!!
My formal dress.  
Me in my muumuu

My favorite outfit, the contemporary outfit.

Some of my new friends!  Stacie, Kim and Allison
Kim, Diane and me
Me, Stacie and Lynell

Seats for my friends and family at the end of the runway

My 'head shot' but Candra.  

You Night NOLA Class of 2015
Helena, Cate and Me after the show
Another new friend Karen, after the show

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Feb 2015 update

If you ask me how I’m doing, I’ll tell you I’m doing really well.  Cancer-wise I’m good.  Hip, wrist and memory wise I could use some help!

Monday, my Oncologist gave me the thumbs up and said she’d see me in 3 months.  That’s fantastic!  Although I thought it was my 6-month checkup which reiterates to me that my memory is still not HERE. 
Three weeks ago I went in for my 6 month checkup with my OB/GYN, which I thought I needed because I had an abnormal pap awhile ago due to the chemo I was on (or some other drug, I’d have to look through my blog to get the details).  I signed in, waited a few minutes and the receptionist said I didn’t have an appointment.  I personally had the appointment entered in my phone calendar and my paper calendar that I carry around (a good way to double check myself, I thought).  But I wasn’t upset, we just scheduled an appointment for the following week.  When I went back last week, signed in and was called back to get my bp, weight, and a urine sample the nurse asked me why I was there.  Oh geez… here we go again I thought!  She looked through my chart and found that I’d already had 2 normal pap smears so I didn’t need to be there.  We scheduled my annual exam for August.  FYI  When I had an abnormal pap due to the medications I was on I needed to get checked every 6 months until I had two normal paps.

I was supposed to have Physical Therapy today because I had a hip Bursectomy done in January.  I have my 6-week post op visit with my surgeon on Wednesday (I think???) so this appointment was an evaluation before I see my surgeon.  My phone and paper calendars show the appointment was scheduled at 4pm.  Apparently the appointment was actually 2pm and I missed it.  I have so many checks and balances for my appointments, I don’t see how I can keep messing up!  I wonder if I have too many checks and balances…  Anyway, I’d been having pain in my right hip for a few years.  PT didn’t help my hip.  Time didn’t help. I guess the steroid shots helped, or at least that’s what my surgeons notes say.  The surgeon said to me “so the steroid shot helped.” I thought he was asking me so I answered and told him it didn’t.  He looked at me and said he wouldn’t have entered that note if I hadn’t told him that.  I laughed and said, “well then, I guess it did help.”   And then we talked about Chemo Brain. Whatever…  So on January 14th I had a right hip bursectomy.  I think it’s helped but I’m also still sore from the surgery so I guess I can’t say for sure.
I’m at 6 weeks post op from the hip bursectomy and am able to schedule a carpal tunnel release on my right hand.  I’m hoping to have this done in the next week or two.  The same orthopedic surgeon who did the hip surgery will perform the surgery.  When I told Micah’s pediatrician who performed the hip surgery he said, “Ooooh the surgeon to the athletes.”  I like that :) 

Which brings me to my family.  Micah turned 4 on January 25th. We had a party with his friends and he had a blast!  Bobby’s birthday was February 2nd and my mom watched Micah so we could spend the night in the French Quarter.  My moms birthday was January 17th but it kind of got skimmed over because of my surgery on the 15th.  She even had to pick up her own birthday cake but I think I paid J  Helena, my mom and I went shopping last weekend for Helena’s prom dress.  We found one and she looks beautiful in it!  Hard to believe we have a teenager, probably because she is nothing like I was at 17! 

Playing with Alex at Micah's bday party.
Micah is taller than 91% of 4 yr olds.
I know he gets that from me!!

Micah is 4!!!

Nana and Micah at a parade.
Garrett and Micah
Me and Renee
(my friend and Garrett's mom)

Endymion is one of our favorite parades.
This is to looking the left of us.

On the balcony
Looking to the right.

Johnny Giavotella and me. He just got traded to the Angels
which happens to be my favorite team.  Bobby took this picture.
  If I were single I  might've done my hair a little differently :)

Another Endymion party.
A homemade float for the kids!
On the float!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2, 2014

I have an appointment with Dr Jones in about 2 hours.  I’m expecting everything to be fine considering I had a good report from Dr Barnhill last week and met with Dr Sullivan yesterday.  Dr Jones is my breast surgeon who does the ultra sounds and biopsies and did my mastectomy in 2013.  Dr Barnhill is my Oncologist and Dr. Sullivan is my surgeon who does my reconstruction surgeries. 

I have surgery on Thursday, 12/4, with Dr Sullivan.  He’ll be doing my reconstruction/revision surgery and removing my port.  I am currently marked up with blue ink and was sent home with a blue Magic Marker to make sure a few marks don’t fade away before Thursday.  As usual, I am looking forward to this surgery and hospital stay.  Right now I’m scheduled to be in one night but I’ll see if I can push for an extra night since I might never be back.

While waiting for my pre-op appointments I ran into a very frightened, nervous woman.  She was diagnosed about 2 weeks ago and was meeting with Dr Sullivan for the first time.  I tried everything I could to help her feel comfortable knowing that she was in The Best hands at the Best Hospital she could be at.  Luckily, I know she’ll realize this someday. I just wish I could have helped her realize it now,  before  her surgery.
I’m so thankful I’ve been able to remain positive throughout my breast cancer journey and hope I can continue to be positive.  I continue to be thankful for my family and friends who have encouraged me and supported me.  Things happen for a reason and while we might not understand the reasons or the timing, God has a plan and I’m thankful for that.

I’ve heard from a few of you regarding the You Night event in March.  The tickets are still $100 and the organizers ask for money now so they can begin organizing the event.  They are not a big organization with accounts full of money so the ticket sales help get the event going.  I am so excited about this event!  Everyone is meeting this Thursday to watch video from the October event where we kicked off NOLA Fashion Week.  Since I won’t be able to attend (stuck in a hospital bed under lots of pain meds) some of the women plan to visit me in the hospital.  Just the thought of them wanting to come by is good enough for me.  I barely know these women but we all support each other in any way we can!

Please let me know ASAP if you’re interested in getting tickets now for $100.  Tickets will still be available for $125 through the night of the event.  Again, they ask for the models/cancer survivor to sell 10 advance tickets each so the organizers have a budget to work with.  The ticket sales go towards the event and empowering the model/survivors.  The tickets include food, drinks, runway show and party. Let me know if you have any questions. 

Here’s the link to more info about the New Orleans event!new-orleans-2015/c1y3t  The picture of me… well… I did send them others but oh well!  And remember, if you send me a check for $100 you don’t have to pay the extra handling fee.

My moms car belongs in Louisiana!

Taking care of business.

Bobby and me on our anniversary.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm going to be a runway model!

I just received the deadline for selling my 10 tickets to the fashion show that I'll be walking in as a Breast Cancer Survivor.  I haven't officially sold any tickets!  I know people want to go and I know how hard it is to fork out $100 right before Christmas for something that isn't happening for another 4 months.  
I mean, who knows where you'll be on March 24th, right? What about at the Board of Trade in New Orleans, celebrating your friends Triumphant Battle Against Breast Cancer! What about being with other friends and family at the Board of Trade in New Orleans celebrating your friends Two-Time-Triumphant Battle against Breast Cancer!!! 
Based on the smiles and excitement of the women who participated in the North Shore You Night event, this is  one amazing night. I'm so excited to be a part of it!
Tickets are $100 for a cocktail party from 5:30-10, including open bar, passed foods and desserts, raffle prizes and door prizes and a RUNWAY SHOW.  Corporate sponsorships are available also with packages ranging from $500-$20,000.
After December 4th the individual tickets go up to  $125. I'm trying to figure out away to purchase the tickets now and let you pay later so if you are interested please let me know ASAP. Or if you think your company would be interested in a sponsorship role let me know and I'll get you in touch with the right people.

I have my checkup with my Oncologist next week, a checkup with my Breast Surgeon the following week and my (hopefully) last surgery is December 4th.  They will be removing my port and doing some reconstruction to fix my left breast that was 'messed up' when I had the infection in July.  Please keep my in your thoughts and prayers.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

You Night New Orleans 2015

As I’ve mentioned before, I will be walking the runway at the You Night New Orleans 2015 on March 24th, 2015.  I am really excited about this opportunity!  The women who put this together have done a really great thing to empower cancer survivors. 

The event will be at the Board of Trade in downtown New Orleans.  It is a cocktail party with an open bar and passed food and desserts
Here is the link with the event info:!ticketsandsponsors/c1hbz

You can order tickets through eventbrite but there is a processing fee.  If you order through me (by giving me a check for $100 this month) there is no processing fee.  There are also corporate sponsorship packages if you’re interested.
The link for info is:!ticketsandsponsors/c1hbz

This is the event info page if you don’t want to click on the link:

October In Review

Practicing my pose at the Windsor Court
Wow, October was a crazy month!  Lots of fun times with family and friends.  And now, 4 days into November I have a cold or sinus infection, or something and I think it’s a sign that I did too much. That’s ok, I wouldn’t change a thing!
To catch you up on a few of the events listed in my last post:
On October 2nd I picked up a few copies of Inside New Orleans at the launch party at Saks 5th Ave.  I’m even in a few pictures!  
Magazine cover

Group shot

On October 16th I attended the NOLA 2015 You Night New Orleans Launch Party at Fulton Square.  This event was to introduce the 2015 New Orleans models for the March 24th, 2015 YOUNIGHT Fashion Show.  This event is going to be soooo cool!  We wear 3 outfits from local boutiques, get our hair and makeup done and have formal practices where we’ll become trained models.  I’ve been asked to sell 10 tickets (which is one table) for the event.  The tickets are $100 each, if ordered through me.  I’d love to sell more than 10 tickets and show New Orleans how a Pacific Northwest girl can rock this!!!  I’m going to do a separate post about this.
 On October 17th I picked up my friend Danielle at the airport and we ran home to get all fancied up for the Pink Gala at the Windsor Court Hotel.  I walked the runway at this event also, dressed in an expensive BCBG outfit.
Judy, me, Bobby and Danielle

my million dollar outfit
View from the patio

My friend Dawn and me

Dawn interviewed me for  If you haven't watched the video yet you should!  My story is the 3rd story on Epsiode 3.
The local Race for the Cure was on October 25th.  We were a little unorganized this year and I apologize to anyone looking for us at The Tree we meet at.  I couldn’t find it!  I promise to be more organized next year!
Today I am one month away from my (hopefully) final breast cancer related surgery.  Sometimes I forget that I had breast cancer.  For instance, when I fill out paper work and am asked about my health.  What do I say?  I guess it could give someone a good laugh if I say I’m in good health and then they find out the truth.  Or maybe I am in good health?  I don’t spend too much time thinking about this but sometimes I’m in shock of what I’ve gone through.
My Radiation Oncologist released me from his care although he assured me that he’s always available to me.  Besides, I have several other doctors I see on a regular basis so he’s confident I’m taking care of and doesn’t want to add another doctor appointment to my calendar.  This will be helpful when I go back to work!  My next appointment is with my Breast Surgeon on November 21st when I expect to hear him say it is good to see me and he’ll see me again in 3 months.