Saturday, September 29, 2012

One Last Hurrah

Chevy and I went to our last show of the season today. My mastectomy is scheduled for Tuesday, and then there is no riding for me for 6 weeks. It was awesome to have a lovely last show with my boy before having some down time. He is a very easy show horse! My biggest issue is probably making sure he doesn't get poop stains on his white socks. The weather was gorgeous and I had lots of company and help. 

April sent me a text around 8am that he had gotten several braids out over the night. I normally just braid them down the night before so that the morning of I only need to put them up. He had obviously rubbed them out because it was one whole section of his neck, not scattered through out. I had to re-do a few before I could finish them. I think they turned out better than last time, looking much more consistent. 
 He warmed up very easily just like last time. He has really settled in to his job and seems happy to do it. I ended up with more warm up time than I needed but we just spent some extra time walking. One I got him in the arena for my first test I got him jazzed up just a little too much! I practiced a couple of canter transitions and got after him for being late with one. Once we started our test he offered the canter a couple of times in our first trot circle, and jigged through our transition to the medium walk. Then we turned around and had a break in one of his canter circles. Overall I felt good about the test even with the minor bobbles. I think we definitely did a better drop portraying the "look of a desire to go forward"as our previous judge requested. 

I was disappointed to receive our score sheet with a 62.8 and a 6th place ribbon. I felt like our test was better than that but I really lost points for not using my corners well enough and making my circles too small. We got dinged the worst on some of our movements that had coefficients so that hurt us. We did get 5 scores of 7.5 so it wasn't a disaster by any means. 

For our second test my goal was to ride those corners and circles! I also really wanted to maintain his forwardness. Right from the start of my warm up he was ready to go. We spent a lot of time walking and a little bit of time actually working. Our test rode well and I focused on riding a step further into the corners than I really wanted to. I lost him through one corner and messed up one of our loops, he tried to trot in the very start of our free walk, and I didn't give him the best preparation for one of our canter to trot transitions.  We got 2 8's for going down the centerline, for our halt, salute so I was very pleased with that. Our final score was a 68.4% and 2nd place out of a class of 14. 

Video if anyone cares to watch it.   And of course some beautiful photos taken by Tarra.
I think he is looking so much more like a dressage horse!

A gorgeous photo April caught on her phone!
Beautiful canter photo
Blasting down the rail with his mom smiling away. He doesn't normally volunteer to "go" that much!
Halt, salute
Isn't he handsome?!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Better...

Chevy redeemed himself tonight with a much better ride than Sunday. I'm not jumping him this week as I am getting ready for our dressage show on Saturday. Once that's over Tarra gets to take over for the month of October. I bet she will have him whipped into shape in no time!

I was delighted to see Roz trot up the hill tonight towards his feed pan looking almost sound! I'm really excited to see if he gets even better being barefoot. Yah for a mostly sound old pony! I was a little bit worried that he was just going to fall apart when the shoes came off. If things continue as they are now, I will definitely ride him around the farm next summer and hopefully take him on a few beach rides too. My dad thinks it would be fun to go so we could easily take Roz and Chevy over there.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Frustration

Well my ride on Chevy did not go as planned today. He warmed up all right but the very fist fence I took him over he took off bucking after it. I just don't know what the problem is. I didn't ride him poorly to the fence or get left behind.  It's really hit or miss if he is going to be naughty. The last time I jumped him he was super quiet and didn't offer anything naughty. It would be so much easier to deal with if I could figure out what the actual problem is. He seems to like it well enough so I don't think that's the issue. Now it's back to the drawing board...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Be Kind

How can you not be happy seeing this face every night?!

Or when you go out to feed your other horse and he greets you like this!

I have had several people comment lately that I am handling my current situation very well. I honestly don't know how else to handle it. I spent a few days as a crying mess, but really that's not going to help anything. Yes, I am a little afraid about having surgery, recovering from it, and starting the rest of my treatment. Even more than that, I wonder if it will come back, and I will be fighting this battle again later on down the road. But I won't allow those fears to consume me. I know that God is watching over me and will give me the strength to make it through, one day at a time. Life becomes more precious when you really realize that it has no guarantees. I plan to live each day to the fullest, because you never know when it will be your last. 

I have also received so much love and support from my family, friends, co-workers, and church family. Most days I have extra facebook messages, cards in the mail when I get home, or someone just pausing an extra minute to ask me how I'm doing. If anything, this has just made me more aware of how I can impact other peoples lives as they go through hard times. Just reaching out and letting them know that you care. I recently came across this quote and it is so true! How many people do we come in contact with through out the day who are fighting a much worse battle than we are, and we don't even know it? 

"Be Kind; Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear; I will help you."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Negative x4

I finally got the results of the BRCA testing that was pending, it came back negative! The final negative result we are looking for his that there is no evidence of cancer in my lymph nodes. This will be determined when I have surgery on October 2nd. If that's the case then I have the total "best case scenario" for the situation. Praise God!

I gave Chevy Monday night off and when I went out to ride last night he had a swollen left front leg. I cleaned him up, cold hosed his leg for 10 minutes, and gave him a gram of bute. He was trotting sound on in and I think that he just knocked his leg on something. It definitely looked better tonight, although not perfect. I rode him lightly, cold hosed it for 5 minutes and gave him another gram of bute to help with the inflammation. Hopefully it will heal right up!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Plans

Chevy has had a busy week. Thursday night he got a break from the arena and we spent some time jumping. We just worked over a small cross rail but my goal was to work on my position and keeping a steady rhythm. Chevy was very quiet and jumped nicely. We put in a quick ride yesterday evening. Today, we met up with Mary and her horse Rheiny for a trail ride. Both horses were very good and it was nice to get them out on the trail. Chevy was his usual quiet self and was happy to follow along after Rheiny. After 2 hours of hill work, I'm sure he will sleep well tonight.

Chevy and I at the top of mountain
Chevy and Rheiny getting acquainted. 
I have surgery scheduled for October 2nd. This means that we will be able to go to the final dressage show of the year that I was really hoping to attend. It's on September 29th.  I'm really glad that I have continued to work Chevy, even though I was feeling like it's a bit pointless. We will be competing in Training level test 2 & 3 this time around. I think that we have made a lot of progress in the past month and it will be fun to see that come out in the show ring. 

In speaking with the plastic surgeon, he said I can start riding again 3-4 weeks after my surgery. I was pleasantly surprised with his answer, although he also said that I will be pretty sore from the surgery. At the very least, hopefully I can get on and start walking around with in the first month.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CLEAR

My CT results came back clear!!! Hopefully we will have even more news tomorrow, and maybe even a surgery date.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Another One Bites the Dust

My bone scan came back clear! Yah! We are still waiting on the CT results but will hopefully have those tomorrow, or Friday. This week is rapidly coming to a close and we should have all of our information by the end of the week, and hopefully a surgery date too! In some ways things seem to be moving really fast, and in other ways it feels very slow. I'm definitely ready to get this all taken care of and get on with life.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart..."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Forward

Chevy was as far away from the barn as possible today, when I got there. After hiking out to get him, we returned to the barn for a nice grooming session. He is getting really shiny and loves being groomed.
Sleeping before our ride

The theme for our rides as really been to get him responsive to my leg and moving freely forward with out being sulky. One of the comments from our dressage test was that it looked like I was working too hard, and I agree. I have been more insistent that he GO when I tell him to, not after I have asked 8 times.  He really tries to throw his body around as an evasion to actually going forward when asked. This is mostly going from walk to trot, and is a lot worse before he is warmed up. Once we establish forward, he is usually quite good. It has gotten progressively better since I got him so I really think that it's partially how lazy he is and partially him learning my expectations. We are going to keep working at it, but I think I will have a really forward horse before I know it! I was also able to get much better control over his right shoulder while cantering. He's getting more tuned in to my leg and my body so that I am better able to guide him from that. 

I recently read an article by Jimmy Wofford regarding nosebands. The article link is here. It talks about how many people use them without even considering riding there horse either in a different style of noseband or with out one. I decided to give Chevy a try with out the flash on Sunday. I really didn't notice a big difference, but today I felt like he was definitely happier. He got really foamy lips for the first time.
Look at those foamy lips!
He's such a good boy!
I had my CT and bone scan today. Both went well, and we should have results tomorrow. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Resources

Why are resources so scarce? It's frustrating to have lots of plans and not have the time or money to make then all happen. I'm ready to get on a regular lesson schedule but between work and the uncertainty about my surgery and recovery I'm not able to do much about that. I'm also really want to get a dressage saddle. I'm not convinced that my current saddle fits Chevy as well as I would like it to. It's not horrible by any means but I don't think it's ideal. That's on my list of things to work on, but it's not going to be in the next couple weeks.

Aside from feeling slightly frustrated that things are on hold, Chevy is doing great! He was fantastic again tonight. He's getting more forward thinking, and seems to be enjoying our work. I have him firmly on my left rein now but have been losing him on the right rein while cantering to the left. I finally got him to come off of my outside aids a few times while cantering and decided to call it quits there. He is becoming more ride able and much less prone to bucking/throwing a fit, when I correct him. I think next show season could be a really good one for us!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

An Engine

I finally found Chevy's engine tonight! I was slightly un-motivated to ride but figured I better do it anyway. Chevy was already in his night time paddock and nickered at me as I came to get him. He started out on the lazy side while I worked on two-point. I then dropped my stirrups a couple of holes and set to doing some serious flat work. I have just started asking for a little bit of leg yields from him. We did them both directions at the walk before I decided to try them at the trot. They are definitely rough but he is starting to get the idea. As we worked I could feel him getting more forward and confident about what I wanted. We worked more on his canter transitions which are still sticky. I also started moving him around more at the canter, flexing him in and out as we went. He thought it was really hard but soon settled in to a rhythm. By the end of the ride he was going better than I have ever had him! I'm looking forward to seeing how he does tomorrow.

We took our dogs to the beach today. They have never been before but it was a blast. Annie had fun chasing birds and checking out all of the good smells. She loves riding in the car so she thoroughly enjoyed out trip to and from the coast.

Checking out the beach
Annie and Paddi


Sweet Annie

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hanging Up His Shoes

Roz had his final pair of dancin' shoes pulled today. It's hard to believe. He seems to be doing well in his newly bare feet. I plan to keep a close eye on him but expect that he will be fine. It will be interesting to see how his lameness does with out the corrective shoeing that he has had for the last year. He is totally happy hanging out in the pasture, getting cookies and kisses every morning and evening. He has made friends with the ram and they will now share a hay pile together. I'm so glad that I am able to keep for the remainder of his years. He's been a fantastic horse for me and I love him.
Roz in 2003. I purchased him as a "project horse" with a couple of friends.
Almost 10 years later
Chevy was a good boy tonight. I spent more time focusing on my position and less on him. My stirrups are still short from Kelsey jumping him on Monday so I decided I would practice two point. I definitely need to get working on it! My balance up in two point is so much worse than I thought it was. I guess a couple years of mostly dressage work will do that to you. I'm planning to start working on it so that I can ride him better over fences. It's a good thing Chevy is a sweetheart and doesn't seem to mind me bouncing around up there! I really feel much more secure sitting in the saddle, ready for whatever my horse my throw at me. I need to start trusting him though, and I think if I do, he will return the favor. It's kind of a bummer to be trying to get back in to jumping shape but knowing that I will be having surgery soon. Hopefully whatever work I do now will stick with me while I'm not able to ride.

Breaking News

I just got the news. It's HER2 negative!!! Keep praying. One down four to go!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Elderly Woman

According to my oncologist, I have an "elderly woman's tumor." She started off quizzing me on family history and said that I have a very unusual case. Usually when a young woman gets breast cancer it's a more aggressive form than the kind I have. At this point we are still gathering more information about my cancer but she feels very confident that it is really treatable. One of the tests we have pending is HER2. HER2-positive breast cancer contains a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, which promotes the growth of cancer cells. If this test is positive I would have to have chemotherapy, with a drug called Herceptin. This is being done on the biopsy sample they have already taken and should be back any day. She doesn't expect it to be positive as normally estrogen sensitive cancer, like mine, is not also HER2 positive. We want it to be negative to decrease the chance that I will need chemotherapy. 

Additionally, since my cancer is estrogen sensitive, they would like to use hormone therapy to treat it. The good thing about this, is that it's a highly treatable kind of cancer and potentially would mean that I don't have to have any chemotherapy. But, I will have to be on for 5 years. It will cause temporary loss of ovarian function but within 2 years of being done they should resume functioning.  

She also recommended doing a BRCA test. I took this from the Mayo Clinic website. 

"The BRCA gene test is a blood test that uses DNA analysis to identify harmful changes (mutations) in either one of the two breast cancer susceptibility genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who have inherited mutations in these genes face a much higher risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer compared with the general population."

The hope is that this will also come back negative. If it's positive, my risk of ovarian cancer is 60%-90% as the genes are related. It would also increase my risk of the cancer re-occurring in the other breast. 

Aside from waiting for both of those tests, she wants me to have a CT and Bone Scan done. This will tell them if the cancer has spread to another part of my body. Again, hopefully these tests will be negative. 

The last negative test we are hoping for, is clean lymph nodes at the time of surgery. If they are clean then I should not have to have chemotherapy. If the cancer has made it to my lymph nodes chemotherapy may be required. Both doctors I met with today don't believe it has spread to my lymph nodes, although they can't be sure until the surgery. Everyone I have met with has checked my lymph nodes and they could also be seen on the mammogram and appear normal. 

Next we met with a second surgeon. He started our conversation with letting me know that there is nothing that I did to cause this cancer. They don't understand why I have but it's not my fault. There was some sort of Oncology rounds that happened today and my case was presented. Apparently I was the talk of the town this morning. I was known only as A.M. but of course he knew it was me. He explained the three surgical options available to me. 

  • 1) Lumpectomy with radiation
  • 2) Mastectomy for the tumor side only
  • 3) Bi-lateral mastectomy
He said that any of these options are fine, and that there is no "wrong" choice. Now the ball is in my court. I have decided against a lumpectomy as I do not want to have radiation therapy. Next up I need to schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon to get more information regarding reconstruction. I was able to schedule my CT and Bone scan for Tuesday.

In summary, there are 5 tests we need to come back negative to have the best possible scenario. 
  1. HER2
  2. BRCA
  3. CT Scan
  4. Bone Scan
  5. Lymph nodes at time of surgery
If all of these come back negative I will NOT need chemo. Please pray that this is the case.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 "Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Humpty Dumpty

One of the things I have been trying to avoid since my diagnosis was falling off my horse. But no worries, I came off of him tonight. I normally have very good sticking abilities but he just caught me by surprise. We were walking around the field with Tarra and Mystic when Chevy tripped right out from under me! I felt one hoof catch and I looked down to see his head disappearing towards the ground. Of course I fell off right on my head! My neck is a bit sore and so is one arm, but overall I'm just fine. The good news is that I'm not any more fragile today than I was last week. At least I've gotten my first fall off of him out of the way. It never fails you fall off when you aren't really doing anything.

My appointment today was very informative. My cancer is grade 2 and is average in terms of aggressiveness. The doctor spent a lot of time explaining stuff to us and discussing many different options. We have a meeting with another surgeon and the oncologist tomorrow. Then we have to make a lot of life changing decisions. Something super crazy the doctor told us is that this probably started 8-10 years ago! If it was 10 years ago I would have been 14.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lookin' Good

Chevy was a super good boy at his lesson today. Kelsey rides him very well, as I was sure she would. He jumped more confidently this time around. He got to see most of the same stuff as last time but they added in up and down banks. He jumped the up bank no problem but was not interested in jumping down. He did not want to go forward to it and was kicking out his right hind when he was tapped with the whip or kicked. He did finally give it a try and they did it a few more times after that to confirm that it wasn't going to eat him. Silly boy. He did a ditch just fine too. He is definitely more comfortable finding a distance from the canter but he got to do a lot of trot fences today to help him with that. He didn't do any of his naughty bucking stuff today so that was awesome! Hopefully by the time I get back on him to jump it will be all gone.

Hanging out before his lesson

"Umm....Mom? Why aren't you riding?"

Doesn't that look like a nice jumping pony?
He was sure he was being asked to jump off of a cliff! 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Encouragement

I have received such an outpouring of love and encouragement in the last few days. It's amazing sometimes how many people you are connected with, and you don't even realize it. Our trip to the beach yesterday really helped me relax. Today, our church family offered so much support and prayers on my behalf along with my wonderful extended family. You can really see how Christ intended the church to strengthen and support each other. I am so blessed with a wonderful support system. I even have a "food team" who is helping to figure out several cancer fighting foods that will help me defeat this. I know that God does hear the prayers of his people and I trust that he will take care of me during this difficult time. Prayers are being lifted up all of the world on my behalf. From Japan, to Korea, Texas to Oklahoma, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Colorado, Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and of course Oregon.

Galatians 6:2 "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the laws of Christ."

I was given a beautiful image of a tapestry from a friend. "If we look at it from the front, all we see is a beautiful image, but when we look at it from behind we see a tapestry of knots and weird colors and, well, pure mess. But it takes the backside of a tapestry to make the beautiful side possible."


Often times we don't understand why things are happening the way they are, but really we are so zoomed in to our own life and not to the bigger picture and the way we can impact others. I pray and trust that God will use this difficult time in my life to impact a lot of people. 

On a horsey note (which is really what this blog is about), Tarra jumped Chevy for me today. I warmed him up first, while she worked with Mystic bareback and bridle less. Once he was ready to go, we moved outside and I got a couple of fences set for them. Chevy refused the first cross rail a couple of times before Tarra asked him to just walk over, since it was so small. Once he got going he was just fine. The first time in to the panel (with flowers) he thought about going but in the end decided to stop. I was happy that he stopped nicely, and when asked to go the second time hopped right over. He also jumped over another fence with flowers, on the first try. He has been a bit skeptical of flowers in previous rides but I think that he is getting over them. He didn't do too much bucking, although he did try it a little bit. You could see him land and consider being naughty but for the most part he thought better of it. There was a gymnastic line that he was having trouble with and he took off on the other side a few time. He does not like "landing in a heap" as Kelsey would say.  It will be fun to see how he does cross country tomorrow with Kelsey riding him. 

And a big THANK YOU to Tarra for being willing to help me with Chevy in the coming months. I have had a few offers for horse help and I really appreciate it. From what I understand, Chevy has had several starts and stops in his training so I would hate to have to put him back out to pasture when we are really making good progress. Plus, I know that I am not going to be as strong when I come back so it would be much easier for both of us if he has continued to work. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Getaway

With the news I received yesterday I really wanted to just get away fro the day today. I talked with Tarra and she was up for a beach trip with the boys. We loaded up at 10am this morning and off we went. Rozzy Ridge got to go, possibly for the last time. He gets his dancin' shoes pulled this week and will "officially" be retired. Depending on how he handles being barefoot we may take him again next year. He is super good these days other than being really impatient with trailering. He hasn't been ridden in 6 weeks but acted like he was never out of work. We kept the work really lite; lots of walking with a small amount of trotting and cantering. He seemed so happy to be out there and it was really relaxing. I told Tarra I wished I could bottle that feeling up to us in the coming months. A couple of little girls stopped to pet the horses and we told them Roz would be a good one to pet. He sniffed and sniffed one of the girls. It was super cute! 

We ran in to the trainer we are taking jumping lessons from. She is willing to ride Chevy in my lessons until I am able/ready to be jumping again. That will be really nice as I hate to have his progress set back because I'm not up to riding. Our lesson is on Monday so that should be fun.

I love this horse!
Cuddles with my boy
Isn't he handsome? Not looking too bad for 20. :)
Cookies for the good boys.