Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hysterectomy is Underway . . . Clock Watching

Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . counting the seconds, it is amazing how lost in and engulfed by your thoughts you can become in a mere matter of seconds. 

Two-hundred forty-three million, six-hundred forty-eight thousand seconds ago (or there abouts), our lives entered a completely new and terrifying chapter with the speaking of just four words—“Catherine, . . . you . . . have . . . cancer.”  Fast forward two-thousand eight-hundred and twenty days and now we stand at the precipice of the next chapter. 

Flabbergasting—for lack of any more encompassing or descriptive a term—is how I attempt to describe just how much life can change in 7 years, 8 months and 21 days.  There was chemotherapy, a blood test, some “thing” called “BRCA 2,” tornados on Mother’s day, a double mastectomy, reconstruction and radiation.  There were follow up surgeries, dozens of trips to Atlanta, hundreds of doctors’ appointments, blood clots, and a trip to the cardiac-ICU.  She (then I) moved to Pinnacle, then to an apartment, to Florida (the avenue), Ridge, and then Vista, lost one house and got “evicted” from another.  Seminoles and Canes learned science.  Soccer, football, swimming & cross-country was coached, a second Mercer stint began, travel was arranged, the pinkest of parties was planned, radio waves were promoted, and those living with muscular dystrophy were celebrated.  We lost a Vizsla, rescued (and lost) a Boston, and were gifted a German Shorthaired-Pointer.  I got on one knee, planning ensued, preparations were made, a few words were exchanged, some circles were swapped, and a beautiful wedding happened.


. . . Wait, what is that little doodle on the screen?!? . . .  We left home as a couple under cover of darkness.  In bright sunshine, we returned home as family. 

Here I sit in the 3rd Floor Waiting Room of Emory University Hospital, thinking about all of these things and the countless others that have happened since those four little words were spoken.  I think about all of the tears, all of the nail-biting, all of the hand-wringing, all the sleepless nights.  I recall all the prayers, all the hugs and kisses, all of the support given.  I am overcome by the flood of memories that have filled the last 243,648,000 or so seconds.

On this day I think back on how much importance I (and Catherine) placed on those 4 words . . . and yet, just how small they actually are and turned out to be.  I thought that those 4 words would define Catherine’s life—would define my life—until this day came, if not for the rest of our lives.  If there is one iota of inspiration, one piece of hope that the Lord has pressed upon me, that I can take comfort in today, and that I desire to share with others, it is this:

Those mountainous, monstrous, and mystifying moments that (understandably) seem insurmountable in life, regardless their actual dimensions or weight, are only nouns.  Regardless the descriptive adjectives we associate with those “moments,” they are ultimately and essentially that—moments.  Life goes on despite the indescribable significance of some of these moments, and the power these moments hold to direct and shape our lives are only as strong as we allow them to be. 

Catherine is back there right now, separated from me and all those that love her and care for her only by the distances that we define.  On the other side of this total hysterectomy, it is almost impossible not to fear the unknown and to limit the future by the moments in the now.  She we will be different.  I will be different.  We will be different.  But when we get home . . . normal.  A spotted dog will be wagging his tail so fast it makes his whole butt wiggle.  A beautiful gift from the Lord, with her bouncing curls and infectious energy, will still yell, “Mommy!  Daddy!” at the very sight of her parents.  And I can be comforted and excited by the fact that tomorrow is a new day and a countless quantity of those moments is just over the horizon.

You are now exiting my attempts at expounding prophetic wisdom. . . .

Thank you all for the continued prayers and support.  Updates to come.  Aplin—out.

— Brian       

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bright Lights at the Tunnel's End . . .

Just to update everyone, I am here in Atlanta and my surgery has been pushed to 11am. I am having a cut surgery rather than laparoscopic hysterectomy. I am assuming the recovery will be much like my C-section plus the side effects of menopause. I can’t have any hormones so I will be going through the changes cold turkey. The hospital stay is anywhere from 2-3 days if everything goes according to plan. After that I will be back home! My family will update everyone on Facebook and tag me in the posts. When I am feeling up to it I will blog!

Sorry this is a short post; I thought I wanted to write about my feelings but, to be honest, I took some medicine and I am feeling a little loopy! I promise I will write more after I am out and my thoughts don’t seem like I am at bar at 1am J  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Welcome back......

I have stared at this screen for days well months really, trying to figure out how and what to write. First, I am sorry for leaving everyone in the dust when I stopped blogging. I don't really have a reason why I stopped, just needed a break. I was looking back through all the stats and I have felt every prayer, liked, and click-throughs. Thank you blog family, near and far. I need you now more than ever.

 Brian and I have been very blessed over the 9 years we have been together. Everyone saw the engagement post, we got married November 21, 2009. It was beautiful, filled with all the people that we love and love us. “In sickness and in health” was shouted through tears and laughter! We danced the night away!

Life dramatically changed in 2013. I was at the doctor office getting blood work and a nurse told me to call Mom and Brian and have them come to the office. Turns out I was pregnant-I was about 15 weeks! We were all in COMPLETE shock!! Since I was diagnosed I was told there is a chance that I could never get pregnant. Also, Tamoxifen can delay a woman getting pregnant. I had been taking the medicine for about 5 years. While it was exciting, we were also scared. There had not been many other woman who got pregnant while taking Tamoxifen. I had an appointment with all kinds of neonatal doctors talking with us about how the baby could have a clef, holes in the heart, Down Syndrome, and even might not make it. I was scared to death, we were scared to death. I prayed that the Lord would take care of all 3 of us and we would love our miracle no matter what. I had every test a pregnant woman can have to monitor the growth and my health.

After 25 hours of labor (ohhhhh the laaaaaaabbbbbooooorrrrrr) I had an emergency C-Section and sometime after midnight on October 30, 2013 Annalee Lyndsie Aplin was born. She was perfect!

Here are some first pictures of Aplin Party of 3!

Hard to believe but in 2 weeks Annalee will be 2! She is growing up so fast and I hate to blink! She is such a fun-loving little girl. Her smile and laugh are contagious! She loves her family and her big dog, Trooper or Tooper as she calls him. Anything Madeline or Minnie Mouse we have to have and we don’t go anywhere without Bobbi the Bunny or her blankey. She is still attached to her “Gertie” the paci/cow at bedtime.
photo cred: Bonnie Iris Photography

Now to bring you up to date on my health. Brain and I have been trying to have another child since Annalee was about 10 months old. Nothing has happened. What has happened is my ovaries are getting mad and it’s now time from them to come out. My uterus has a couple of spots on it and I have been advised it is in my best interest to have a full hysterectomy. So on November 17th I am going in for surgery. People ask me how I am doing and I really don’t know. I am up and down, scared shitless, and lots to process.

I hope I will keep blogging as I prepare for my surgery since that seemed to help when I had cancer. I hope you will read the posts and pray with me and for my family. I really do find my strength in all of you.

Please pray for Brian-he will be getting ready to start “finals season” of law school. I know he is nervous of how he is going to mentally handle all of this. He is my backbone in life. I can’t type anymore about him because of the tears streaming down my face. I love him, I loved him first….

Please pray for my Mom and Dad-I will be recovering at their house for about 2 weeks. Sometimes it can get hectic will me being down and having to care for Annalee. My mom especially. She puts everything on hold for me and my sister. I pray she has the strength when I become weak. I love her more.

Please pray for my sister and her family as they try to help out when they can and keep up with their own lives. Sis is my logical mind, she tells it like it needs to be said. She is my protector.  

Please pray for my in-laws as they take care of Annalee the week of the surgery.

Please pray for my precious Annalee-she is not going to understand that Mommy can’t pick her up for 4 weeks or tend to her like I should. I have to think-if I do this now, then I can pick her up for the rest of her life. Also, please pray for her future. I don’t know what the future holds concerning siblings. I just don’t ever want her to be lonely in life.

Finally, please pray for me. When I went through cancer you really don’t think about the next step. You just do it. You just fight. This is different because I don’t feel sick, I am not sick. It is hard to wrap my mind of what is fixing to happen to me.

Well that’s all for now, but I promise I will keep writing…..

Check the Ta Ta’s

Monday, October 20, 2008

Want to help?


I have more t-shirts! The cost is $15 and $5 for packaging and shipping if needed. Please let me know if you like one. The money will be put in the "Cure Catherine" account at Wachovia Bank to be used for medical expenses. Thank you in advance for your support.
If you are interested in purchasing a t-shirt, contact me at curecatherine@gmail.com. Please include your name, address, phone number, number of t-shirts, and sizes.

Hello everyone!
I know I know, this is LONG overdue but as you can image this month I have been EXTREMELY busy! That is not a bad thing I am actually having too much fun. I hope I still have some readers out there and no one has giving up on me!
Where to begin? Well I have been out there busy telling my story to anyone and everyone who is willing to listen. At the beginning of October, I spoke at Auburn University to the Zeta Tau Alpha (Gamma Rho) that would my sis's amazing sorority. I first started out in the audience listening what the speakers had to say and to me it was blah blah blah etc. because all they were talking about was important it is to have your grandmother, mother, and aunts checked. I finally got tired of hearing "you should start self breast exams and age 40" I screamed at the top of my lungs I am 22 years old and I have breast cancer". Of course the speaker didn't hear me but an encouraging basketball player came over to me and said she wanted to hear my story not theirs. I told her I could not do it I was not part of the program she give me this look that only a 6'1 Auburn defense could give and that's all I needed. I ran to the Zeta that was in charge and Holley told her that she was an alumni and that was all that president needed to hear and next thing I knew I was standing in font of over 200 people telling my story. As looked into the crowd and notice that the text messaging had stop, the chit chat ceased, and all eyes and ears were on me. Talk about a moment, I knew that basketball player was my angel telling me to start making a difference.
My next big moment was speaking for Alpha Delta Pi and Komen for the Cure; Night out with Breast Cancer. I was the feature speaker and more nervous then Auburn. These were not only my friends but some of the girls out there were cruel to me when I first transfer in and I busted some of there bubbles. The event was opened to all Mercer Sorority's. I knew most of my girlfriends were there and as I was standing in the back I notice one KA, two KAs, three KAs, four. As tears came to my eyes I notice the whole Fraternity came to hear me speak. I kinda had that Sally Field moment, you know "they liked me, they really liked me!' The night ended great with a standing crowd as I exiting the stage again I felt the basketball player's push. I have spoken at little events around town and hoping to speak more places.

I have started radiation and my skin on my left side of my neck and down to my stomach is very tender. I literally bathe in Aloe Vera at night. I go everyday of the week at 2 hoping to finish this by the week before Thanksgiving. My chest looks like my niece got a hold of me with a pink marker with lines and dashes everywhere. I am wearing lots of Brian's old t-shirt because they are the only thing that does hurt me. Sorry if you see me around town and my fashion has changed. Because the radiation is longer then we thought I will not be getting my Christmas wish this year. I asked Santa for nipples and some liposuction, but Dr. Beegle said the skin will not be healed in time to have that surgery. Looks like nipples and liposuction for Valentine's day!
This past weekend I felt like my old self again. I went to KA Cowboy BALL at one of the brother's farm in Dahlongha. Cowboy ball is KA's fall camping trip. For most of you know Catherine does not camp but I made due. I told Brian, I will not sleep in a tent but that you could make me a bed in the back of the Jeep. And that is what he did. With a feather mattress, an egg crate, 2 sleeping bags, 2 blankets, a body pillow, and finally a thick comforter my bed was the warmest bed out there. We had a fire and everyone danced, drank, ate, and laughed. We told old stories to the freshman girls who thought they were sooo cool to be there. At one point I was by myself looking through the fire at everyone and tears came to my eyes because I thought this past February I would never see this again, only seeing this from up above.
This weekend we are walking and some are running in the Komen race. If you would like to come out let me know would love to have you join me!
Well I guess I talked your ear off all for now!
Check the Ta Ta's

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ants are Marching

We have been so busy lately that I need everyone to go to back to work just so I can rest! First off we are back in our home. Thank goodness! I hated that apartment, for those who visited me there knows what I am talking about. Whoever lived there before us was a chain smoker and maintenance could not get the smell out. On top that I am allergic to smoke to you can image how I felt. As everyone knows college football kick off, and I said from the get go that I was not going to let anything get in between my Auburn Football Season or as mom puts says, "its ball season people". I have gone to Auburn for the past 2 weekends and tailgated yes, in the heat and I felt like I was home. To me the greatest feeling in the world is to surrounded by the best family anyone could ask for and the land filled with orange and blue! My extended family comes from all over, GA, SC, and AL. I enjoyed seeing everyone in person and updating them on whats been going on. I have not made it in to the game yet simply because my back still hurts. I am hoping my back will be better for LSU or UGA.

Holley and Cookie came home with us last week and stayed to help me unpack and take me to my oncologist last Friday. That was the first time I had seen Dr. Jones since my surgery. She was very pleased of how I looked and the results of my pathology report. Here is what it said, I had 12 lymph nodes removed with cancer in 4 of them. In the others, I had some alternating cells (which could one day turn into cancer) but she said it was the report I could have received. because of the nodes I will have 6 weeks of radiation. I go next week to meet Dr. Simpson and view how it will be done. Dr. Jones said the left side of my chest will look like a treasure map. You can image that jokes Brian and my sister came up with to that comment! Dr. Beegle wants me to complete radiation before he finishes the reconstruction surgery. My left breast is healed great the right is still pretty pissed off. I was joking with one of friends from SC, Michelle, can you image a breast being pissed off!!! I am hoping it will realize that I had to do what was best for it!

Speaking of my chest do I have a funny story. Since all this rain we have been having because of the hurricanes we have had an ant problem. My dad makes an appointment for the bug man to come on Friday at 11 am. That morning Cookie woke me up and I jump in the shower to get ready for my Dr's. appointment now when I got out of the shower I was getting ready. Here's the scene: My bedroom door was closed, lights and T.V. on my bathroom door (which is inside my bedroom) was open. I had just put on my pants with no top or hair. I get this cell phone call from sis downstairs saying that the bug man was here, before she could finish her statement I had turned around to see this old big bug man just looking at my bare chest. I said yes, sis I know. I looked at him and said excuse just one second and shut my bathroom door. I could I do but just laugh. I had just flashed the bug man my nipple less, nasty looking chest. through the doors I could hear "Uh Uh I am just here to spray the ants, your dad called about the ants". I opened the doors to show him where the ants were and on top of that my blinds fell on my left arm cutting me and breaking several pictures and my 21st birthday wine glass ( I was a little upset). I screamed because of my scare of Lymphademia in the left arm. The bug man was now sweating from head to toe. Holley showed him where the ants were on the window and I am trying to call dad freaking out that the window crew did not install my blinds right and that my arm will become a balloon...my dad so calming says "accidents happens". That was not good enough for me! In the meantime, my paw-paw of a bug man yells at the top of the stairs that he was going to spray outside and he would put the checkout sheet on the counter, no need for a signature! Holley and I just laughed and said OK thank you! I am sure he had seen all he could see for day. I had notice he wore a nausea patch like I did with chemo and it was behind his ear...lets just say it was at his neck by the time he left! I called one of my best friend named Caroline (she is a nurse) freaking out about what to do with my arm she laughed at the problem and calmed me down and told me my arm was fine and that I was going to the Dr. in an hour. Dr. Jones said I was fine but she had never laughed so hard!

Point to story..if you are going to visit with me PLEASE CALL or KNOCK on my door, thanks.

Last week I also had the chance to finally meet Bruce Goddard. He wrote an article on me back in the spring and he wanted to follow-up and see how I was doing. We told funny stories and he told me of the people that really read this thing. Which I really had no idea just how many people read this thing. I enjoy reading his blogs and don't mind seeing myself on there.

Talk to you soon!

Check the Ta's Ta's

Friday, August 22, 2008


Hello everyone its really me this time. Its 4:22 am I can't sleep. That seems to be the problem lately I can not get comfortable enough to sleep....so I don't. First off, please let me say this with hurting anyone feelings but I created this blog for me to vent and write what I am feeling and to keep you guys posted. Please understand that my family and I really do have life's and cannot or have time to always update it. Also, there are just some days were I really do nothing but play on facebook! I really can't believe how many people read and keep up with me! Thanks to everyone for your support.

Now how am doing? Well I still the drains, I now down to 4 (came home with 6). They are a pain and I can't get comfortable in any position. I am extremely sore all over and sadly just ran out of pain meds. If I try to lay down I feel like everything is in my throat. I am just tried of being in pain and just want this all over. My right breast is mad that it got cut off and is still miss behaving. It likes to bleed and not heal fast enough. My left is healing great!

My hair slowing coming back and looks like I am going to have my mom's natural dark colored hair. I guess God wanted me to look like my dad before and my mom after! Brian say that's what the bottle is for! It happened, my eyebrows and eyelashes have fallen off, and lucky for me my aunt got the makeup and eyelashes to replace the real ones. Because of the stress I have the dark circles under my eyes. Mom and Brian say the weight is coming off, of course I can't see it but I did notice my face is coming down (thank goodness).

Today, Mom and I are heading to the Doctors for a check-up and hoping to get the drains out. To pass the time off I have literally looked at every wedding and bridesmaid's dress out there online! I have picked the dresses for the 12 girls and I think I have found mine! I know, I know, I said 12 bridesmaids don't pick..you had your wedding and this is mine. I can't image not having them by my side on that special day! So basically I have everything planned and its a year and half out. Nothing like being prepared!

While I was in the hospital we found out real fast that sis is expecting #2! Mom called her out when she was throwing up the morning after my surgery and didn't get there till half the day was gone! I was on so many drugs I kept trying to get the nurses to give her a test! Baby Stejskal is due to meet us April 5. Around its daddy birthday! So 2009 will be a big year for us.

Check the Ta's Ta's

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just Haven't Had Enough

Welcome once again to all, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, little children, dogs and cats; this is Brian coming to you once more from Northside Hospital with another update on our heroine, Catherine. Unfortunately, I must report that yesterday's initial plans for dismissal from the hospital have not gone exactly as planned. Since Catherine's surgery on Tuesday morning, some of her blood work has been slowly becoming more negative. She has been showing low blood pressure, a drop in her hemoglobin and iron counts, as well as having some swelling in her arms and around the reconstruction site (that's the breast area, not the house, which is in the process of reconstruction following the tornado and I believe is really started to cause all of our tolerance levels to swell).

Catherine's plastic surgeon, Dr. Philip Beegle, came in this morning for his regular rounds check-in, and due specifically to Catherine's low blood pressure and her fainting spell early yesterday afternoon, he has decided to give her a couple of units of blood through a transfusion. Now of course, given Catherine's squeamish nature toward blood and blood related accessories, this sat about as well with her as the gas prices do with a Hummer owner. She was intent on the blood transfusion coming from someone in the family, but after a bit of discussion with her about the timetable that would be required for someone in the family to have their blood drawn, tested and refined, as well as the fact that blood transfusion safety is far more advanced that it was in the past ("Catherine, you are not going to get cancer or AIDS from a blood transfusion; you've got a better chance of winning the lottery and you don't even play."). So Catherine is scheduled to be the proud new recipient of two units of blood. This will require about 6 hours, after which Catherine's vitals are expected to tremendously improve and we will know a bit more about her dismissal, but we sit in a kind of purgatory, hospital room limbo at this point, going on a day-to-day basis.

Last night, for dinner, Catherine and I had Milano's Pizza and Subs, which was absolutely delicious; she had ravioli Florentine and I had the carne lasagna, however, they still owe me her Greek salad and, though the potato skins were delicious, they would have been far more enjoyable had we received the honey mustard I requested, but I'm not bitter. Regardless, we will continue to press forward; I must return to Macon this evening for school tomorrow and the hotel will get a bit more money out of the family. We are all still trying to enjoy ourselves, and Catherine being Catherine continues to make me laugh both inside and out. The nursing staff at Northside has been fantastic and I would recommend them to anyone making a visit to a hospital in the Atlanta area.

Because this blog has been so amazing for Catherine and I, and the entire family, letting us express ourselves and truly letting us feel the love, support and prayers of so many of our friends and family, I would like to ask for some prayers for someone else in the family: Aunt Sharon's husband, JP Smith, has been having a truly rough time recently since their return from their summer vacation to Santa Belle. He had a hernia operation about a year ago, but since their return home, JP has spent a great deal of time in the hospital and had to be re-admitted on Friday because, since returning home, he has had to have exploratory surgery to check the repair work of the previous hernia operation, yet he has continued to be in pain and has not been able to hold down a any chow. If you could just stick his name in with your prayers on this Sunday, I know that he would feel the Lord's hand upon him and his health. This blog has really shown me the power of prayer first hand and I know that it is the greatest medical tool we have.

Hopefully, the blog will return to its original nature in the near future, chocked full of ridiculous antics from Catherine, myself and all our friends and families. We hope that you will stay tuned for more updates.

Check the TaTa's. If you don't want to take our word for it, ask Christina Applegate. This entry is outrageous in its own nature; I must stop typing now. Fiance, out.

The Fiance and Olympics Coverage Addict (Go U.S.A.!)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Elvis is in the Process of Leaving the Building

Hello again; this is Brian, the fiance, coming to you once again from the beautiful Northside Hospital in glorious Sandy Springs, Georgia. Just wanting to check in with everyone, giving you an update on our girl, Catherine, and her progression following Tuesday's surgery.

Catherine is currently scheduled for the latest possible check-out time this evening, just before midnight. She, unfortunately, has being doing everything that she possibly can to get out of these plans. Early this morning, while trying to take a shower with the assistance of a nurse tech, became light-headed in the heat of the shower while trying to sit down in the shower chair, and had to be helped back into a wheelchair, and then the bed. After this development, she became to run a temperature, started to feel nauseous, had to be taken down to radiology for a chest X-ray, and had a Battle-Royale type run-in with some of the nurses over her port. When the initial lab technician came in to take a blood sample from Catherine, Catherine "politely" told her to leave because she would only allow them to take blood from the port, which would need to be re-accessed. Then, the lab technician who accessed her port on Tuesday morning prior to the surgery came in to try and access the port, but unsuccessfully, and Catherine had just about had enough of the people in the scrub-uniforms for the day. Finally, two of the lab technicians were able to get the port accessed and the blood drawn so, as far as we know, we are still on schedule for tonight's departure from this hospital visit.

Well, Catherine is doing much better and, unless something major appears in the blood work or chest X-ray, we should be bringing Catherine on home this evening. She will need to return here, to Atlanta, around the middle of next week to have her drains removed, but it appears that everything is going as planned. Please keep reading the blog, leaving Catherine posts on here and Facebook, and continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers. I am starting to feel like she is like the female version of the bionic or 6-million dollar men, ya know, "We can rebuild her, we can make her better..."

Well, I think I am going to take Catherine for a lap around the floor; thanks for playing along with us so far, and please keep up those thoughts and prayers. We constantly feel so uplifted by them.

The TaTa's ... yeah, you need to check 'em. Don't forget. B, out.

The Fiance
Guest Blog Writer and the Source of Most of Catherine's Anger & Embarassment

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Continuing to do well!

Hello everyone! Sorry for no update yesterday.

Spoke with Brian, Catherine is continuing to do incredibly well. Yesterday she moved to a bigger room and walked from the old room to the new one. She also spent most of the day sitting in a chair and talking with visitors. Catherine also walked a couple of laps around the floor with family members. This is pretty incredible only one day out from serious surgery!

I will be heading up to ATL this evening to visit Catherine. I will update more tomorrow.

Today is Brian's first day back in the classroom, pray for him as he gets his new students and has to worry about both school and Catherine. He will be going back up with me tonight to visit.

Keep praying and check the Ta-tas!

Sarah Mac

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The kid is a fighter ladies and gents. . .

Hello Hello!

Part three in today's updates:

Catherine is feeling GREAT thanks to her good friends Morphine and Valium. Spoke to Brian and Ms. Pam and the report is that our girl is looking good and feeling good. In the words of the infamous Catherine Carswell (and her friend Valium), "I'm skinny Sarah MacConnell, I'm skinny. . .They gave me drugs." Oh she will hate this blog post. :) I mean it is called "The Funnier Side of Cancer."

Anyhow, she is doing quite well all things considering. She is able to get flowers at the hospital and loves visitors. She will be at the hospital for a while, not sure of a discharge date yet. Continue to check here for updates!

Catherine and family thank everybody for their prayers today! Keep them up throughout her recovery!

Sarah Mac
Guest Blogger
(soon to probably be ex Maid of Honor based on embarrassing blog postings. . . love ya Catherine!)