Merry Christmas to all my Mastectomy Solutions friends!

 I still can’t believe it’s almost Christmas.

Every day passes with lightening speed lately. Between sewing for all of you, taking a neighbor’s little boy to basketball practice (totally new for me as I never had children, lol…) and working on my church’s fellowship hall to get a small corner ready for a sewing program, I just didn’t notice how close the holiday was until friends were talking about our plans to visit that day. Oh my! It’s HERE!

Sometimes, I feel as if I’m living in some sort of alternate universe since my dear husband, Steve, passed last year. On that first holiday, I spent Christmas day pretty much bypassed by everyone. Those of you who are widows, know what I mean. But, when life gives you lemons, you make lemon-aid as best you can.

This year, I will be with a selection of other ladies who are also widows. We will make the best of it and keep moving forward. Yes, hankies will likely be involved, but there will also be lots of laughter and fellowship. We lift each other up!

Isn’t that what MastectomySolutions is all about? We were handed something we didn’t expect and never wanted, breast cancer with mastectomy. Being women, we know we can’t sit and dwell, nor can we continue to be uncomfortable in silence. We deal with it and try to move forward. We develop solutions of our own and share with each other, to reduce the discomfort mastectomy leaves us with.

If you are hurting this year, emotionally or physically, find a way to share with others going through the same thing. They will listen, you will listen, and you both will learn and grow. Sometimes just sitting with someone over a cup of coffee, can be the most beautiful thing, it can change your outlook. You are not alone, what you are going through is normal, and you will not only survive, you will thrive.

I love you all, dear friends! I feel honored to have met you, even if only online and email, it feels as if we have been friends all these years. Looking forward to another year of sharing, solving, and sewing. Merry Christmas!

I’m sewing again! is officially open once again…

(**Note:  I had thought this post below was published at the beginning of this year, but just now found that it was saved as a ‘draft’.  So, I’m publishing it today.  It’s now been a little over 13 months since my husband passed away, but everything else is about the same.**)

Well, it’s been close to 8 months since my husband passed away.  Christmas was tough.  Even tougher since one of my closest friends passed away unexpectedly in early December.  She’d called me DAILY since my husband passed away…   She was my ROCK!  Life had begun to move forward.  Then, she was gone.  GONE.  Her heart. Life is so very fragile.

Words cannot express how much I still miss my husband, and my friend.   You couldn’t write a more depressing story and have anyone believe it, right?  Sigh….. but you know what?  I’d already lost more than half a dozen other friends in the previous few months, and dealt with it, with her there to help.  At our ages, we lose a lot of people.

I’d planned and promised for months to officially get the website going again no later than January 1st, but I explained all the above so you’ll understand the delay.  I’ve actually already been sewing microbead forms for some of you during the months the announcement was still on the website that it was closed.  Many people had written in during the time it was first closed and I’d promised to email them to take their orders first before reopening publicly.  I did the best I could with that, but there were so many, and I’d do them in batches, waiting for responses before going on to the next batch, etc… I am sure I’ve missed people, please forgive me if it was you!

Anyway, life goes on, right?  I’ve got the sewing room humming again, and am here, officially, open again! FINALLY!  I’ll take orders as they come, and will sew each one and ship as soon as possible, just please realize that occasionally there may be several orders coming in close together and it may take me a few days longer than it used to take me to sew them previously.  My new philosophy?  It takes as long as it takes.

You see, life really has changed in more ways than one.  I’ve decided that life is too fragile and short to only sit in front of the sewing machine.  My gift to myself in recent months was that I made many new friends, went to a new church, volunteered at a food pantry, reconnected with work friends from long ago, and in short, just tried to make my life more joyful in whatever ways I could, rather than dwell on just sadness.

I’m happy to say that the friends I’ve made now are wonderful people.   I’m now living a life more open to adventure… and fun where I can find it.  I’ve met other widows in my church that like to go places with me.  We go to movies, library activities, plays, on day-trips, etc… and we help each other remember to smile.  I’ve renewed friendships with people I worked with for years and enjoyed outings with them as well.  Surviving after a loss will either break you, or propel you, and I guess I’ve had some of both.

It’s a new year, with new goals.  My first one was to officially reopen the website and get back to the sewing that gave meaning to my life.  All the breast cancer survivors out there are very dear to my heart.

Next, I’m also going to be decluttering more in my house, doing a few other crafts with friends, doing a little minor redecorating, and just basically lightening my load of stress along the way in whatever ways I can.  I’ll be here for you, just please have patience with me, friends, because on some days, the sewing machines will be turned off and I’ll be on some other adventure for a day.  Like I said, life is fragile, and short, you have to enjoy it NOW!

I will be back, just not right now…

I have needed to update my readers for awhile, but waited because every single day, I’d think my husband would recover, return home, and our normal life would resume. My website basically was closed these last months as far as answering emails or sewing for survivors. But, my husband never got to return home after a trip to the emergency room in early December.
He tried bravely for well over five hospitalized months to recover, and I was there with him averaging 12 hours a day, often more, for approximately 160 DAYS. He had many complications arise due to the Lymphoma originally caused by Humira injections taken for years for his Rheumatoid Arthritis. He miraculously survived each and every crisis that came along, until the end.
That, and the story of how he was additionally harmed by dozens of medical errors as well, would make quite a movie, but who would believe it. It was far beyond what anyone could possibly imagine. There were also specialists who did amazing jobs of caring for him and bringing him back to better health after each crisis, and I will forever be grateful for what they did, giving us more time together and hope. Two were brilliant women, one in particular should have a movie written just about HER. There aren’t enough words to do her justice.
The end result though is that just days after we reached our 40th wedding anniversary, while still in the hospital but having just made arrangements to bring him home, his dear heart gave out and he spent his last 3 days unconscious in ICU. He passed gently away on May 19th while I whispered ‘I love you’ in his ear over and over and held his hand. Half my own heart left me that moment.
I am not abandoning you, dear survivors, but after all these months without a break, I need a rest to recover. It’s hard to learn how to start life over, without your best friend there to hold your hand anymore, but I’ll do it with God’s help.
As you survivors know, living through breast cancer is tough, likely the toughest thing you’ve done… but after you have already done that, you begin to realize that you can probably survive almost anything you never thought you could. God willing, I am going to try to get through this next few days or weeks, and I’ll be back.

Why I’ve not been posting…

I am beyond tired, so please have patience with me for not having updated the website in so long.  My sewing room is closed, I can’t even remember what it is like to get up and sew everyday.  I pretty much sleep, go back and forth to the hospital, and eat when I can remember to.  So far, my husband has lost over a hundred pounds with his illness, and I’ve lost 25 in taking care of him. I’ll never complain about anyone being overweight again, it has probably saved both our lives, just having that weight to lose and still survive.

Our happy life was going along pretty well until last summer when he got overheated a few times at work and ended up with pneumonia.  About the time he recovered and was out of the hospital for that, it was found he had gallbladder problems, so that was removed.  He improved slightly, but soon again weakened and had to go to the emergency room.  Next morning, he sat up on the side of the bed and had an ulcer that broke open (likely due to Naproxen) and he lost most all his blood but was blessed to have a team of doctors who saved his life and that was repaired successfully.  Various problems were found during that time that had been overlooked, and he has been treated for each ever since, including a lymphoma (diagnosed Christmas morning) that was caused by Humira (for Rheumatoid arthritis), but it turned out to be easily treatable, thank goodness. Seems like medicines have almost killed him.

He recovers somewhat from each thing, and we begin to think it’s over, then something else happens. He is an incredibly strong, gentle, patient man, and continues to fight this.  Every day, I go to him and help him exercise to keep up his strength as he recovers from a UTI, while being told by doctors who do not know him, how he may never come back fully from this because he has lost so much muscle tone and strength during recovery.  Many more of their dire predictions came about because of faulty equipment at the hospital, so I have gained a ‘reputation’ as a complainer, but hey, if I didn’t, he would not have the right care.

Because of his age, doctors tend to make more dire predictions anyway, it’s as if once you are past a certain age, they truly think it’s not worth their effort.  This makes life MUCH harder to bear, because in both his mind and mine, he WILL recover, his body will heal, and he will come home.  How many times during our lives have we been told something by doctors that turned out to be wrong?  Dozens.  How many times have we seen God’s hand in healing?  More than we can count.

I stand by my husband and continue to fight for him as his advocate.  This means that until somehow he recovers enough to not need constant medical care, I likely will not be sewing for my website readers.

It’s sad that these things happen, and that along with recovery, we also have to fight hospitals and insurance rules, etc..  I have fought to get him into a hospital in a larger town that provides more specialists in fields that he needs care, so he can recover faster, but the hospitals seem to block me at every turn.

If I only had to help my husband, it would be difficult enough, but I also have to function under many other hats and spend a lot of time trying to find solutions.  It took me two days once to convince them that his heart wasn’t about to go out at any moment as they predicted, because the heart monitor alarmed constantly.  Finally got them to replace the lead set I’d found with the broken wire, and voila, suddenly his heart was fine.

I was told once in ICU that his mind was gone and he’d never be able to communicate again, while his eyes were wildly trying to tell me not to listen to them!  Took days to get a nurse to clean the mucus blocking his throat, and afterward he recited the alphabet and then started counting, to show he was QUITE able to think and communicate. I have learned since how to do many jobs the nurses are supposed to do, because he shouldn’t have to wait for basic care.

They refused to hook up his CPAP that I’d brought once he was off the ventilator in those first days, so that time, for two days, he lay there saying ‘help me’ over and over…FINALLY got them to let me hook it up, and he dropped right off to sleep, exhausted, and was much recovered when he woke up a full 24 hours later.

Took weeks and weeks to get them to understand their pain medications were something he was having a bad reaction to and get it changed.  He simply is not able to tolerate certain meds that they consider common, he reacts the opposite to them than most do.

I could literally write a book on things that could actually have killed him if he didn’t have an aware advocate nearby.

Just have two messages I want to leave you with….one is to thank you for your patience, I will eventually be sewing again somehow.  The other is to say that you should never leave a family member alone too long at a hospital, and never just accept what you are told if you have reason to believe it isn’t so, doctors are not perfect, they only ‘practice’ their profession.  There are really good ones, and ones that are…less than compassionate.  Same with nurses, there are ANGELS, and there are some who need to go find other jobs. You will quickly learn the difference during a long stay.  I now know what days I can leave on errands and what days I can’t even go eat lunch.

Please, please, pray for my husband’s recovery and for me to keep strong.  God is in control, we are just doing the best that we can, day by day, moment by moment.  I love you all… and I know many of you are experiencing your own nightmares with hospitalizations and illnesses that feel as if they go on forever.  Feel free to tell about your situations, and any solutions you found.  Perhaps there will be messages that can help others as well.

Found one, and thanks!

Remember my recent post about looking for an iPad that could download and save some online classes for me? I think I had a few hundred people looking, lol… but everyone can stop now. Just found a great deal on one after someone sent me a link and have bought it. Should be working with my classes within the next couple of weeks if I can figure the thing out, lol…. (I’m very confident with Android, so this will be a whole new thing to learn, but I’m sure it’ll be fun. Well, after I stop beating my head against the wall and muttering , “Why, oh why, is technology not EASIER!”) Ha! 🙂

There’s a sale afoot!

Just noticed an email from Genie, there’s a sale on all their summer colors (15 colors!) for $9 each!  WITH FREE SHIPPING, too!   I have so many colors already that I may not order this time, but it’s an awesome deal and these work great for those of us with mastectomy who wear microbead breast forms, and especially well for those of us whose regular bras ride up because there’s NO problem of that with a Genie cami-shaper.  They are made with a ‘pocket’ built in, to hold the triangle shape modesty pads that they come with, and I’ve always been able to push my own size XL microbead breast forms inside them without having to cut the pocket’s opening any larger.  I still urge people to get at least one or two sizes larger than you think you need because in your true size they are very snug, as in ‘being hugged by a python’ snug, and that could cause swelling in your arm where lymph nodes were removed.  My own size should be L, or maybe XL, but I get 2X and love it!  Because of worries about lymphedema issues when we wear too-tight items, I’d never wear one for shaping, but even the ones I get a couple sizes larger still do shape up my tummy a bit.  Be aware that often a LOT of people order during their sales so sometimes it takes weeks and weeks for them to get to everyone, and occasionally they make a color mistake.  I recently ordered the ‘hula blue’ and got a green instead, so I emailed them about it and they sent another one to me for free…and…you guessed it…it was green again, sigh…..  BUT, I’d say that about 98% of the time, they’d get a five star review from me.  For savings like this and free shipping, an occasional color mistake or long shipping time is still worth it.  If you want any though, look at their website fast because they are already running out of some color/size combinations, sigh…  If you don’t know where their website is, it’s at this link:

Genie sale!

Hi Folks!  I try to let everyone know when there’s something usable for mastectomy at a good price.  Since I’m signed up for emails from the Genie bra site, today looks like a winner!  Their Milana Wireless Lace Cami Bra is on sale, any 3 for $29.95 with free shipping if you use the code LOVE10 at checkout. I’ve not tried the Milana bra myself, but for those of you who don’t want to try the Genie Cami-shaper like I prefer, because you want something more like a regular bra, you might like this one.  It has lace across the top so it can also work as a cami worn under scooped necklines, and also has the pockets in it where you put modesty pads.   If you’re wearing microbead breast forms, the Milana should likely work.

With the long Cami-Shapers that go all the way down to the hips, I always order them in at least one size larger than I’d normally wear so that the top won’t be so tight because after mastectomy, we don’t want to run the risk of lymphedema and any body shapers can press too much unless you use a larger size.  I’d imagine that the bras are probably the same, so be sure to give yourself some comfort as you do not need that extreme tightness once you’re dealing with mastectomy forms anyway.

My email said that the sale is only good for 3 days, so check it out soon while there’s LOTS of colors and sizes hopefully still in stock.  (Beautiful colors, by the way!)  Remember to use the code so you get the lower price and free shipping, too… you will probably see the lower price in the next window after you click on any of the bras pictured on the link below.  In case you’re wondering, I don’t get ANYTHING from Genie for posting about these…I’ve just bought their products online and found them to be way better in quality and price than almost anything else that’s really made for mastectomy.  To go to the website, here’s the address:!+Buy+3+Bras+Save+%2415.+Euro-Style+Bra+by+Genie!

Slight increase in price for microbead breast forms….

Well folks, it’s that time of year again, when we add up receipts and figure costs of manufacturing something, and discover that when we weren’t looking, prices went up!

This year, I had noticed that once I added more sizes of microbead forms, particularly larger ones, and more customizations that could be added so that people with single side mastectomy or implant problems could also be served, suddenly I was ordering a LOT more microbeads than usual.  In the medium range sizes, I can make several from a bag, but in the larger sizes, I can only make one or two orders sometimes, so… that also meant that fabric didn’t go as far, so I was ordering up to 50% more, and..well… way it goes.

When making these starts cutting into my own budget, I have to make some changes, so this time, it’s $4 per pair for the increase.  It should have gone into effect on January 1st, but I’ve been running behind with everything while being stuck either in bed or a wheelchair while recovering from some ankle injuries.  Seriously, you’d have fallen over laughing to watch me sometimes, lol…but where there’s a will, there’s a way!  Propped my feet up and went right on sewing.  :^)

Are you wondering why a few microbeads more or less make a difference?  Well, it doesn’t actually START there.  It starts with things like having to keep 3 sizes of shipping bags in stock to accommodate the increase in sizes, plus triple the bubble wrap, plus a LOT of printer ink for the shipping labels, higher internet costs, two sewing machine repair/upgrades, finding better thread that costs 60% more but doesn’t jam machines, extra fabric for the additional layers in the customizations for the stretchy-back forms, keeping stocked with the really GOOD fabric that wears well, switching to a better type of lining, paying for upgrading the website to make it easier to read for all the thousands of mobile users that are now logging on (sometimes reading on their phones while having chemo…), the PayPal costs to process credit payments and…then… there’s the microbeads that went up in price and don’t go on sale as often.  To top it all off, many who use UPS to ship to me, increased their shipping to cover their increased costs.  So…yeah… is it any wonder that I don’t realize how great the cost of doing this is until once a year after all the receipts are tallied?  lol… Yep, knew you’d understand.  :^)

Normally, I try to absorb the extra costs for as long as possible, but this past fall, we had a little money problem ourselves.  Wait’ll you hear THIS craziness!  After getting insurance to help with putting a new roof, as well as some help from family, we went to a local company we trusted to ask for recommendations for roofers.  To make a long story short, the counter-guy was part of a team of ‘less than talented or honest roofers’, who proceeded to take us for almost $8,000, and left us a roof barely attached.  It was a metal roof, with very few screws, NO mastic sealing anywhere, no vapor barrier, and on the back half of the house, they didn’t even put on the insulation we’d been charged for, they just tacked on little strips around the edges so we’d THINK it was up there, so… rain sounded like a steel drum, sigh…

They didn’t even use the right kind of screw guns, so they put the screws in either crooked or totally missing the strips they were screwing to, or put them in so tightly that they broke the rubber washers on the screws, so they leaked.  It was AWFUL…. leaky, unsafe, not to even begin to describe how terrible it looked from the ground.  We had to remove it within days, or risk the entire thing blowing off and harming someone.  Thank God we did, because when we went to lift off the boards they’d nailed down to screw the roofing panels to, we found they lifted off easily by hand because because of the wrong type nails being used.  One hard wind, and our roof would have been lifted completely off, landing on who knows who in our neighborhood.

We had to start over and  buy all new materials AGAIN since they’d damaged the previous ones so badly.  Essentially, we had to put on two complete roofs within weeks.  Thankfully, a nephew experienced in roofing had mercy on us and painstakingly removed and repaired the damage the bogus roofers did, then installed a BEAUTIFUL strong roof that should last 75 years.  He did it alone, single handed, in between his own family life and work, having to take a couple months to repair the damage the four or five bad guys did in a week.  And STILL, he totally put on a new beautiful long lasting roof.

Though it was the most expensive few months of our lives, and we’ll never financially recover from it, we try to see the good that came from it.  We ended up with a far better and more beautiful roof than we ever could have had if we’d hired a good local company to come repair and replace it all, because our nephew wanted us to have something extra good to help us get over having such a horribly devastating thing happen.  We got to know and appreciate him a lot more fully as he frequently stayed with us for a week or two at a time to get the work finished before winter rains could come.  My husband and I grew to totally adore that young man and we miss him when he’s not here…trying our best to convince he and his wonderful family to move here permanently, and we look forward to every visit.

The bad part is that now, after having to replace the roof twice like that, we can’t afford to completely repair the interior ceiling areas left damaged and can’t afford to replace the flooring.  We’d planned to take up the carpet and put down hard flooring in case we got to the point of needing wheelchairs again.  And…wait for it…DURING all this with the roof?  I acquired wounds to both ankles from crawling through my best friend’s window when she locked herself out of the house, and the doc said my ankles wouldn’t heal unless I stayed in bed with elevated feet and used the wheelchair when getting around.  You can’t make this stuff up, folks, lol… when life happens, it HAPPENS!  Sure could have used those hard floors while in the wheelchair.  I’m hoping to be out of this wheelchair for good soon, as I’m considerably improved and can maybe see the end of weekly visits to the wound center within another month or two.

We’ll repair the damage to those ceilings a little at a time, maybe even eventually get to replace the carpets with hard flooring a room at a time as we can afford it, and someday things will get done, but…well… going to have to use all our own money toward that from month to month as we live on a fixed income.  That keeps me from having extra money to take up the slack when making microbead forms for my non-sewing website readers, no matter how much I love doing it.  And all that, my dear readers, is why I’ve increased the cost of making the microbead breast forms for you by four dollars a pair.    Kinda seems cheap, now, doesn’t it?  lol… I guess it’s all in knowing ‘the rest of the story’.  :^)

A rare sighting, but a must-have for mastectomy survivors!

OK girls…I know, I know, it doesn’t take much to get me all excited about potential mastectomy clothing, but just today at Walmart I saw a rack of stretch lace long sleeved tops (made like snug tee shirts) for about $9.99 and thoroughly meant to go back and buy one for myself but forgot, silly me!  Why on earth would I WANT a see-through lace tee-shirt, you may well ask?  WELL, good question.

A few years back when investigating ways for us with mastectomy scars to still wear garments with deeper necklines and armholes, I saw long sleeved stretch lace tops on a mastectomy site, made to wear under everything from daytime garments to very dressy evening wear.  They were quite expensive, but an awesome idea, and would let us wear almost anything we did before mastectomy without showing off our scars or the hollow area in our upper chest wall above our breast forms.  Yes, you can see a bit of skin through the airy stretch lace, but it camouflages the little scars and such, and the lace sleeves even make lymphedema less noticeable in an arm.

Now get this….the ones I saw  today looked almost EXACTLY like the expensive version! Normally, just the lace yardage would cost triple the price, so these are a steal.  I only saw them in black, but there may be more colors.  They would be awesome under ANYTHING, even swimsuits (worn either under or over).  So, if you have been driving yourself bonkers trying to find a dress for some special occasion and found them ALL too revealing, grab your keys and fly off to Wally-World quickly before the stretch lace tops are all gone!  If your store doesn’t have them, keep checking, as I’ve found that not all stores have the same items at the same time. But please… be a peach & leave one in size XL for me, OK?  Thanks!

Happy New Year to all of my friends! The 2014/2015 update:

Sending best wishes for a Happy New Year to all of my MastectomySolutions friends! May we all have a safe and healthy 2015. Love and hugs to everyone!  Remember, every year brings us both happiness and heartache, but we can choose to remember the good parts and work on making the difficulties better. Life is pretty much what we make of it once we get beyond the parts we have no control over. Let’s take control.

I choose to look forward with joy to the new year, surely it’ll be better than the past one, lol…  Those of you who correspond regularly, know that I’ve been sidelined for a few months in a wheelchair and/or bed-rest (nothing terrible, just some annoying minor ankle problems that required a lot of resting and elevating the ol’ tootsies to heal) but I’ve kept the website going and hope to see it grow with more info this coming year.  I’m still sewing almost daily, making microbead breast forms for everyone possible, just at a slightly slower speed,.. occasionally taking from 2 days up to a week before yours is sewn and shipped.  You’re in my prayers, and I’d appreciate being in yours, that I can be up and walking regularly within another few weeks.  You won’t believe the plans I have for the website this year, but it would go much faster if I were in the upright and locked position, lol…  That’s it for 2014, tomorrow morning is 2015, let’s get going!