BUSY LIFE…and loving it


What a summer I have enjoyed.   With my kids in camp, and not a Dr.’s appointment scheduled…Well except for a yearly Gyno appointment, I had an “worry free and health issue free summer.”  I know that is how most people enjoy life, but for the past three summers, as many of you know, either I, or a family member, has undergone one sort of cancer treatment or another.  And this summer…that was not the case…Now, this is not to say that I don’t have friends being faced with this awful disease and treatment, because that would not be true.  And this is alos not to say that I don’t think about what they are going through, or ways I can help them get through it.  I have, however, enjoyed a summer of appointments, and errands, and meetings, and tastings, and dinners out, and visiting friends, and visiting family, and planning for the kids 13th, and…well just all things I have not been able to do for the last 3 years.  All things that are just part of LIFE….and boy was I thrilled to do them all.

With that being said, with my new found freedom, I gave up on the blog for a spell.  And honestly my schedule for the next 3 weeks doesn’t let up much, so my blog may lay dormant until the beginning of October (or maybe even November).  But fear not, I will return and with new inisght into just about everything.  Even though the title remains The Cancer Made Me Do It, I will begin to tackle all different “life” issues, from the same humorous (yet sometimes cynical) perspective.

My summer has also presented a new emotional turmoil.  My Mom and Dad, who I have written of often, are moving to Florida just after Halloween.  This move will give them a new and improved lifestyle.  I am so thrilled for the opportunity my brother and sister-in-law have helped to create; but I can’t help but feel sad about loosing my constant, and loving lunch mate.  Of course, now I have a reason to go to Florida (one other than Disneyworld).  I am thankful to Facetime, Skype and all of these other technological marvels because that will make it a little easier.

So while I am busy with so many things…helping to pack them up and move them just adds more to my schedule.  But, again, a busy life is better than no life at all…

So I bid you good-bye for a few weeks.  And wish you all well…

I will be back.

Enjoy today

Carol

@funnycancermom

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JOY


I have not written in quite a few days, and that is because I have just been on a constant emotional roller coaster. I have dealt with happiness, sadness, angst, anger, nervousness, anxiety. In the end it all produced joy, but what a week to get through, OY! The kids have finished school and finals. (That alone has caused most of the ansgt, anxiety and anger. But that is such a big issue for my school district to face, and this is not the forum for it.) The kids had been picking at each other for 1 1/2 weeks already. It got so bad that they were fighting over who got to use the whipped creme on their chocolate chip waffles first (Homemeade waffles I might add). Even though I knew where all the emotions were coming from. It was driving me crazy. After they finished with finals they had three days to get mentally prepared for camp. Going for 7 weeks. And believe me they love it…but “leaving is the hardest part.”

The kids and I talked over the emotions. We talked about why leaving is hard. And, of course, we had to talk about why it is extra hard this year. Thursday night, as the kids got into bed I went into each room to sit and to talk with them. First Lissy. She told me she was a little scared about leaving me and what “if my summer was filled with me being sick.” How could she have fun if I am not well. (Okay, is she not the sweetest – when she wants to be, that is. Anyone who has a preteen understands that). Anyway, I explained to her that since I am already three treatments in and I still felt pretty good, that I am not expected (or hope) not to react much differently with the next few treatments. And as the end of treatment isn’t until September – which may be when I get the most tired- You will be home to help make me feel better. (and maybe clean your own room for a change — one could only wish). With the thought that she would be home to help, and that she believed “nothing will change” she was settled enough to drift off to sleep.

Then into Matt’s room. He is harder to calm. He is a wonderfully sensitive kid, but can let his emotions run wild sometimes. After talking to him, he also was worried. When he gets emotional, his worries and fears can go the extreme. I understand that; but the great thing about his emotions is that he can pick up on humor as easily as he can pickup on sadness, and well humor is My specialty! So with him I talked about what I would do everyday, and how I would do things to take care of myself. Things that will make me feel better and keep me strong. I promised him I would eat out every night for dinner – to insure I eat well; I promised I would walk the malls shopping every day – to keep my physical strength up; and if I was over exerting myself or tiring myself out, I would either go out to visit my brother at the beach in the Hampton’s, or just sit by the community pool – which ever would insure optimal relaxation. I told him he shouldn’t worry, I have every intention of pampering myself this summer, even if taht meant weekly massages, manicure’s and pedicures. I was determined! (My husband will be quivering when he reads this passage). And after I joked about my plans with Matt, he also seemed calm enough to drift to sleep.

Friday was a mostly quiet day until bedtime. Again Matt was weepy, but only slightly. Scott was able to soothe his nerves. Lissy was way more stoic. She was a little more stoic. As she gets closer to leaving she begins to get quiet and hold everything in. She is like my husband in that manner. She keeps it all inside. I wish she wouldn’t, and I wish Scott wouldn’t for that matter. But I will always continue working on getting her to talk about things. (Scott not so much – he is who he is) But with all that she was staill able to sleep.

Saturday morning we were off to the buses without an issue. We were there a little early; next year we will get there a little later. Matt got a little upset but much less than I anticipated and off they went. Alissa basically knocked me over to get on the bus with her friend; Matt wanted that one additional hug from my Husband for reassurance, and off he went. That is when the sadness started. “I mean really? MATT wanted the last hug from Scott? Really?” I thought I was the favorite parent!” But I will get over that too!

I know they will have a great time, and I know they love camp; so after the buses were gone and after a little sadness, and after a little tear was shed – came JOY. Party at my house I joked! But I did feel joyous! The feeling of Joy came from knowing that my children love me, from knowing how much I me love them, and them knowing I love them; and mostly knowing that they have learned that “leaving is not always a bad thing – and that I don’t plan on leaving in a bad way ANY TIME SOON!”

HAve a great day and enJOY!

Carol
@funnycancermom
or
http://www.riverjournalonline

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Life Lessons, revisited!


The Hat that sparked it all!


In January of 1983, I was walking down Commonwealth Avenue on the way to class. It was brutally cold. I was wearing my Navy peacoat, and on my head was, a Black fisherman’s cap. Not the most attractive look – actually quite mannish – But it was a cold morning, and just couldn’t deal with wearing my wig. So I made a choice. In the appearance conscious world of Boston University — I went Au Natrual! Not such a common look in the 19880’s. Prior to my illness, my choice of friends was not the socially conscious type. They were the “appearance conscious types”…and I am ashamed to admit that I was no better. It wasn’t until I had lost 20 lb. and my hair, that I realized how shallow and lame my viewpoint was.

I quickly learned that I was no longer welcome in my group of friends. It was a chilling lesson, like the winter Boston weather. As I walked to class that morning, walking towards me were two friends (I say loosely). R.F. and J.L. lived in Shelton Hall (Snob Central), just a few doors down from my dorm. So as I was heading towards the Management building, they were heading back towards their dorm room. I had already begun to feel the chill from my supposed friends, but this was the final freeze out. As they got within 5 ft I gave them a meek “hi”, smile, and wave. They turned to each other and R.F. said “Don’t look, thats the girl that’s dying.” I stopped dead in my tracks (no pun intended). I couldn’t believe it. Not only was I an outcast, but now I didn’t even get a name…just “That Girl”! And I was dying; which was certainly news to me! Well, it was an emotional day, but it taught me a lesson quick, and is a huge part of what drives me to always be positive. I believe my positive and hopeful outlook has a direct affect on how others treat me; and how I am able to stay positive day to day. I hoped I would never experience anything like that again. But I wasn’t so lucky.

I have been wearing hats a lot. I have this crunchy, straw cowboy that I love; which, honestly, my daughter hates it on me. But it is a mothers job to embarrass her child from time to time. Anyway, the other day I had to run an around in Scarsdale Village (a very affluent town and shopping area), and I chose to wear the hat (my daughter was not with me). It was lunchtime – a time when the town 1s flooded with high schoolers (decked out in their designer and school labels). As a group of 5 kids walked towards me (3 girls and 2 boys), one of the boys said to they others “Who does she think she is in that yokum hat, I would cringe if that was my mom.” And they all laughed. I stopped dead in my tracks…I had been here before. But the difference is who I am today versus who I was years ago! Slowly I turned…

The kids were standing on line outside of a popular deli. Their were plenty of kids around them, so I thought this is a good time for a teaching moment. I confronted the kids, and proudly said:

I am sorry, was your comment supposed to make me feel bad about myself? I think it had the opposite affect!” As I removed my hat, an audible gasp was heard from the girls. “You have you just insulted a women going through chemo therapy. Did insulting me make you feel like a big man, or better about yourself. Is it only my looks that caused you to try make me feel small about myself? Do you do that to kids in school that aren’t as good looking or as cool as you think you are? How do you feel about yourself now? Not so cool are ya? Maybe next time you will think about this before you pick on someone else!”

And with that I walked away. I was able to over hear 2 of the girls calling the boy a jerk, as they ran towards me to apologize. I believe (or I hope) at least they got the message. Like any good superhero I wanted to proudly put my hands on my hips and say “I think my job here is done!” But even for me that would just be to cheaky.

I do believe, that this is part of the reason I have started this blog…Even now, during my treatment, I believe being a cancer patient and survivor I have learned and grown so much as an individual. I am positive about that! In the end I am BETTER NOT BITTER. And rockin a groovy hat!

Hat’s off or today!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Call Me, or Don’t. You Decide!


Today I got to go for a walk with a women I know who is cancer and treatment free for over a year. She was diagnosed with a different kind of cancer, more severe, but her prognosis and outlook are outstanding. While talking and walking (a skill I am exceptionally gifted at – really the talking part, but anyway) I realized that many of us that have gone through one of these treatments or another, come out on the other side with a clarity about what is important and what isn’t. I thought today I would talk about this part of having cancer. Not so much the clarity of life part, but the clarity of what annoys me part.

I know that those of you who have not been in this situation (which I hope that you never will be) may feel awkward as to how to call someone who has been diagnosed, or what to say to them when you see him/her. Of course there is no real handbook on what to say, or how to say anything. Could you imagine Barnes and Nobles carrying book that says “Cancer Etiquette for Dummies” or “Chicken Soup for the ones that want to say the right thing to a cancer patient.” Not a best seller. And, Yes, of course everyone is different and everyone wants to hear different things, but somethings I have found to be universally true. And by universally, I am referring only to the people I have asked.

I would like to start by saying how much I appreciate the thoughts and wishes, and I know your meaning is only with the best intention. Your are trying to soothe or comfort — and I know it! Frankly, sometimes you are so off the mark though; so I thought I would have a little fun pointing out some Cancer Etiquette Faux Pas. This isn’t like Donald Trump trying to teach President Obama a lesson in Birth Right etiquette…because where would anyone get the idea that Donald Trump has any idea of what etiquette is…you know if he can’t have his named stamped on it it doesn’t exist! Oh excuse me I went of on a tangent there, but I am back now!

Ok back to our topic, what to say and what not to say and how to say it! Let me give you an example of what not to do. I got a call from someone the night before my surgery. The first no no is that she called me from a her speakerphone in her car; her windows must have been open, because I couldn’t even hear her say who it was. I explained that I we had a very bad connection. You’d think she would the say she will call later, or close her window, or do something to better enhance the “conversation ability factor” but noooooooo, she kept right on talking. Did she not really want to call, but felt she should? Anyway, her conversation consisted of her telling me how much it sucked that I had cancer, Again! How terrible she felt! How crushed she was when she heard the news! And then the phone cut out. I figured she would call right back — NEVER HEARD FROM HER AGAIN!!!!! So let’s put this out to all of you, where do you think she may have gone wrong with this conversation…Anyone? Ok here is a hint — the entire conversation pretty much failed the etiquette test, the soothing test, and the comforting test. A Triple negative — a really bad thing in Breast Cancer results by the way.

Was it just a call for affect, or was she just so uncomfortable that she did this purposefully so she didn’t have to talk to me or hear from me at all. My advice to all of you. If you don’t want to call DON’T — insincerity and bullsh** comes through in the first 5 seconds. Remember Seinfeld’s bit on taking and holding a reservation. “Just because you take a reservation doesn’t mean you know how to hold the reservation.” Same principle, just because you called to be comforting doesn’t mean that you should have called and it definitely doesn’t mean that your words were comforting. Is it really that you think hearing you say how much my diagnosis sucks, will sink in that much more? As if to say, “up until this point I was fine with getting cancer for the 2nd time, but now that so and so told me it sucks I should really rethink my position.” I call it a given that you feel my diagnosis sucks!

Another common statement I have gotten was when the caller tells me “Oh my goodness, when I heard the news I had such a hard time dealing with it!” Again, really — do you possibly think that when I got the news I just shrugged and said “oh well” then moved on. No one wants or seeks out bad news,but now i don’t only have to deal with my own cancer, but I have to feel bad for upsetting you as well! Just sayin’ I got enough on my plate, I don’t need your stuff also.

Other favorites include friends who call once and then don’t call again for two months. And then when they call they automatically let me know how much they have rearranged in there schedule to find the time to call. or they say, “I am so sorry I haven’t called, my life has just been so crazy these days.” My life isn’t crazy at all people. I got all the time in the world. I’ve just been just with an ice cold IV pumping lethal chemicals into my veins and enjoying. Really? And aside from the queasiness and feeling like crap I have all the time in the world to just sit around; so feel bad that the “my life is crazy right now” statement doesn’t sound like a load of sh**! Honestly, I understand that you can’t call every day or week or even month, but don’t blame it on a busy life. I get it, we all find it hard to find time and that is okay. I understand busy lives. But maybe after you upload the pictures of you sitting around watching your kids baseball game to facebook, you can make a quick call to say hi!

And the last and most important is a statement that I know is truly well meaning, just no well implemented. “What can I do for you?” Don’t ask me, because I am a martyr and will say nothing. Tell me what you are doing. “I am bringing dinner Thursday, or I am picking up your dry cleaning Friday, or for the next month you have full use of my housekeeper to do your laundry, cooking, cleaning, driving your kids around. Now that would be awesome!!! So put that in your books as a great gift!!!!

Seriously though, I appreciate and love all of the well wishes. You don’t have to call and talk about the cancer. Frankly, that is why I have the blog, so I don’t have to talk about it 24/7. Call me about the weather, or American Idol, or the Royal Wedding (because yes, I am obsessed wit the Royals) Or just call to say hi! And no matter when it is or how long it has been since I last heard from you doesn’t matter. I am just glad to hear from you.

Speak to you soon.

Carol

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I think I get it!


To Israel and back, to camp and back, all in 10 days. The woes of a weary traveler. Well not really, just woes of a mother of teenagers I guess. But it was a quick test to see what (and if) I learned anything in Israel.

Wednesday morning we arrived home from our amazing and transformative trip. I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone…Especially my husband. Yes, Lori I went food shopping and prepared a glorious dinner and got myself dressed and everything. He was due to arrive home at 6:30, the kids were due to call from camp at 6:45 and the rest was up to us! I knew my husband was on the 5:40 train, and at 5:42 the phone rang…The Dr. at camp let me know that “While everything is going to be ok, my daughter has sustained a pretty sever concussion. They are observing her for an hour or so before she is sent of to the hospital for a CT scan. The Dr. goes over everything with me and I take copious notes so I know what I am talking about when my husband comes home.

My mind begins to race. That glorious dinner – out the window (metaphorically). My warm and happy to be home greeting from my husband….much less so! My thoughts begin to spin…”Really!” I think…”Couldn’t I at least get one day to re acclimate?” “Really, I get it that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…but Cancer twice, and a plethora of other things…AREN’T I STRONG ENOUGH?” I even thought with all that is going on in Israel right now, Ya had to pick on my little daughter too.?” All of this raced through my head. As it would have in the past….But then the miraculous happened….And Lori, this is major for me….

The phone rings at 6:15 and it is my Son Matt…Whose voice got so deep I didn’t even recognize it…And I said, Oh, you are calling so early, Dad isn’t even home yet…Will they let you call again? “No” I was happy to talk to him, and he had seen Alissa so he filled me in on how she was doing…but I felt terrible that Scott wouldn’t get a chance to talk to him. And the negative comes racing back through my mind.

I stopped and thought, Wow Thank God I was home, when this happened, and not in Israel. Thank God I am here to be able to take care of the details, and not my Husband (who is good, but I am still better at it). And thank God she is going to be okay…

And then Scott walks through the doors, and whoosh it is all gone again…”Hi Honey, I missed you….and I am sorry this s not going to be the welcome home you planned but…The camp called….And there went the evening…

Thursday we kept close touch with the camp, and there was little improvement…Friday, their was no word, so I was feeling uplifted. Off to the grocery store to get food for a nice dinner. I bought my Shabbat Candles, and picked up some fresh flowers…All set. When I got home I began to put everything away, and the phone rang Da DA Dum…Yes it was camp. The Dr. feels that it is hard for her to get the proper rest she needs to heal. So they feel it would be best if we came and got her for a few days (or a week). Really? The questions again began to swirl….She and her age group are supposed to be going to the west coast in a week, (what about that trip…and I am praying every day that she can go…all additional prayers welcome)…She had just sent a letter home that she tried out for all the sports teams and made them (and if you know Alissa that is HUGE- sports she is not). That is how this happened by the way, she was playing soccer against Camp Startlight – and got an elbow to the right forehead.

Anyway, I like any good mother, without a second thought, hopped in the car (leaving the food on the counter I might add) and drove 3 hours to get her. She got teary as we drove out of camp, slept most of the ride home. She has some time to be home, no TV, No Phone, No internet, and No reading (this one doesn’t upset her at all). But, and here Lori, is what brought it all home.

I walked into her room this morning, and watched her as she slept, and thought “THANK GOD, you are home safe with me and you will be okay…I am thankful that I can and did drive up to get you…because I see and believe that everything will be ok! Family is my center of being… Oh yeah I also prayed she should heal quickly so she can get back to camp! 🙂

Transform and Grow, Lori…I get it!

Enjoy today

Carol
@funnycancermom

#JWRP

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While it is over — It is just a beginning!


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The trip of a lifetime has come to an end. We came to Israel 9 days ago as aquaintancs and left as sisters. The last day was more alt saying good-bye and wrapping up the lessons of the week, which was fine. The final dinner…skits by each city and scenery proved to be touching, sad, and funny…Saying good bye was such sweet sorrow….Some of you I will see ‘morrow!

Of to Tel-aviv a group went. Some went on their own, a few went with the “extension (something that JWRP and GoINSPIRE really need think about — and maybe revamp). Tel-aviv was the polar opposite of Jerusalem. Modern, and filled with the hustle bustle of a metropolitan city….sprinkled with a little “jersey boardwalk vibe!” We Seqwayed around, visited the Blind exhibit at the Children’s Museum, walked around The Tel-avi port and had dinner. We had hoped to make to Old Jaffa but “travel Warnings” prevented us.

It was a small taste of what the Israeli’s live with daily. While at dinner the siren’s sounded, and by the time we headed toward the shelters the all clear was sounded. And life don’t skip a beat. The beaches were filled the roller bladders were back…as were the people walking. It is not a way to live….My days in Israel were filled with wonderful moments….The ending will be put in a place that will not mar any of that.

ISRAEL, should be a must on everyones’ bucket list….Oh and by the way in the land of the Israeli Salad and healthy eating…I still managed to gain 5 lbs….

Enjoy today…Live life…Dream big…love fully!!!!

That is what I take away…and I am so happy about it.

Carol

@funnycancermom

#JWRP

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No Words! Israel Day 7.


A day filled with Heartache, Gratitude and Thankful after our 3 activities today!

First was:

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YAD VASHEM! I believe that is enough said..

Next we brought gifts to the Soldiers. eWe told them how grateful we were for their efforts keeping us all secure and safe. They were 18 and 19…looking at them I realize they are not that much older than my children…A little surreal!

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Last was a visit to a home for Disadvantage children. Here though we saw happiness. These children have been saved from terrible home lives, and brought to this wonderful facility where they are cared for and loved….

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All in all a special day of emotions…

Enjoy today
Carol

@funnycancermom

#JWRP

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The Tailor Motel Tem Zoyle? Israel Day 5 & 6


Ok let me start by admitting that prior to this trip I have never been to a Shabbat Dinner…Or a Shabbat anything for that matter… oh wait I did go to Friday night Services the night before my kids B’nei Mitzvah… But that covers it for my 52 years.  So let me say that Shabbat in Jerusalem, in the Old City, is probably the most super charged version of Shabbat there is!  It is probably on a whole new level.

Our morning sessions ended around 1.  And that gave us a few hours break before the big. Event.  While we shopped we made notice of the crowded vendors.  Everyone gathering whatever. They needed. Because this city Shuts down after sunset!  And stays shut until a. The following sundown.

At 6:00 we were back at the Aish building getting ready for our evening.  It started with. A concert.  Onto the stage walked a Satmar in full garb (Black long coat, Black fur hat).  My initial response…Oy klezmer music…but then Rabbi Yom Tov  starts rocking out to “Carry on my wayward son”.  Then a little Crosby, Stills Nash and Young….and he was AWESOME.  A funny side note:  a group of young South African Aish Students were sitting behind us. As Rabbi Yom Tov started to sing Kansas’ Carry on my wayward son…one young man said to the other “Thank G-d for Guitar Hero. Otherwise I would never have known this song.” Ah, youth! Any Rabbi Yom Tov was just awesome…he sang Shabbat and Rock songs for an Hour…and got us ready to Take in Shabbat! You should all google Him – I don’t think my words will describe him well enough…he certainly is not the Tailor Motel Tem Zoyle… he is the Rocker Yom Tov!

Then we (all 200 hundred of us) headed to the Kotel to Dance and Sing in Shabbat. Our spirit was infectious. So much so that. The Birthright and Tallit groups joined in with our group. Not visa versa. see kids your mom’s are groovy! It was joyous and infectious and delicious!

Saturday morning was really on the top of my mornings. mainly because we were able to sleep in. The day was filled with lectures. Lori Palatnik spoke Jewish Values…frankly she said many wonderful and interesting things… But one of my favorites was “If a reason you had children is for “what they can do for you…you might as well get an English Butler…it will be cheaper”. Her talks are always laced with humor…truth but still funny. And then she introduced Rabbi Gabriel Friedman who talked to us 2x during the day… One about Shabbat and what is all about….and the other more focused on how Judaism can play a role in your life. Anyway talk about a funny guy. Take Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, and jimmy Fallon…mix them up…through on a suit and pais’….and you have him. His lectures were jammed packed and truly engaging.

After we were invited into homes for Shabbat lunch…then Shabbat dinner was in the home of Pamela and Aba Claman…so many world leaders of all types have been hosted by them. They are truly givers. They give of themselves to make the world better and frankly this Elizabeth Taylor looking women and Harrison Ford looking man are truly givers and inspirational.

The evening ended with a Havdallah service on their spectacular villa rooftop…overlooking the old city..a breathtaking view to end a. Glorious day!

What more is there to say except I hope you all had a good Shabbat. And if not, there is always next week!

Enjoy today!
Carol

If you get the chance google the Rabbi’s and see what I am talking about.

@funnycancermom
#JWRP

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A Bat Mitzvah, a Camel ride – and so much more Israel Day 4


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Last night I was totally exhausted.  After a raw and emotional day we ended it with a real spiritual and amazing event.  I, along with 11 of my “Rockland” group sisters got Bat Mitzvahed. We have our city leaders Chaya, LEah and Betty to thank for that.  It was moving and heartfelt!  And truly connected us – even more so that we already felt….Last night was also the first time I got a more than 3 hours of sleep and that was my Bat Mitzvah gift to myself.

Today, was really the opposite of yesterday in some ways.  It was filled with real laughter and joy, and learning, and laughing again.  Culminating in a Drum Circle under a tent!  Okay I moved so quickly through today –  sorry, let me backtrack.  At 7 a.m. we boarded the buses and headed to the south to do some Camel Riding…Really we were a bunch of school girls laughing, and screaming at the experience.

After receiving out camel-riding permits, we board the bus for some good old fashion mountain climbing.  To the top of Masada we went (Truthfully it wsa close to 100 Degrees so we actually took the cable car)  but even walking on top was hot.  But seeing this place really was impressive.  This is a place with true significance to the Israelie’s and to Jews.  Pondering the question of how the Jews died on this Temple Mount?

After Masada it was time for some good old fashion Mud Slinging…Well Dead Sea Mud that is.  We went to the Dead Sea and floated around with mud covering us.  The water was warmer than warm, salty and  envigerating.  Though getting cleaned up after that was  not easy task.

We then met all the other groups for dinner.  An Israeli Bar-B-Que – Delicious by the way – and it all ended with us dancing and singing and just really enjoying each other.  THis entire trip is a blessing and I have all of my sister’s on the trip and our leaders and the JWRP to thank for it….Transforming and growing….Yes I am!

Enjoy Today!

Carol

@funnycancermom

#JWRP

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Emotions Run High! Israel Day 3




Today was a day of Raw emotion.  Today we got the chance to visit the Aish Building.  A magnificent structure perched just above the Kotel (The Western Wall).  We started the day listening to Lori describe different kind of personalities…And Lori… I am pretty sure that I am a Bracha TOV..

I must admit that I thought I would not be as into all of these lectures (before I came on the trip)…But I have hung on every word so far..After our morning meeting, we were given an  opportunity to meet women who have made the decision to move to Israel  and raise their families here.  The explained their reasons and told us about their lives and how “content they are”  It was a lovely morning.

But after lunch is when I felt like I peeled off all of my outer layers and exposed my raw emotions .  And it came up on me without any warning.  We walked from Aish to the Kotel.  I had a bag of notes to stick into the cracks…which were already dripping with notes.  But luckily I found some spaces to place them.  Then I placed my hand on the wall, and thought.  Thought about my Dad, about my sister-in-law, about friends and family….and from deep down, the tears began to fall.  They were not sad tears…The were tears of enlightenment!  Not Shiedel and long skirt forever type of enlightenment…But “Wow” I really do feel connected to somehting….kind of enlightenment.  And it was awesome.

After we went and toured the old city.  A place that has seen destruction and  rejuvenation, disaster and delight…And for a moment I felt the glory of being in israel.  It was a day of nonstop events.  The Tunnel Tour was unbelievabel.  As was our Tour Guide ETON.  He was interesting and passionate…and kept us interested.  Which let me tell you was hard.  WE have been going for nearly 72 hours on a very little amount of sleep.  The emotions of being there  filled me with such joy, such saddness, such elation and such wonder.  I felt many things there.  I felt  my Dad, Steven and Sharon, and most of all something I never felt before — a new connection, an additional connection…I will cherish every minute of it

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Happy Wife, Happy Life – Israel Day 2


For all of you that know me, “a lack of words is not something I have ever suffered from. Frankly, I once had a larynx issue and went to a specialist. After observing my vocal chords he had this to say. “Well you have nodes, and they can be caused by 2 things…the first is you talk to much….” At that point I said “Stop right there…no need to go further – that is true!” So when at the end of my second I realized I don’t know if I had the words to describe what I am feeling and what I am experiencing, but because I am a talker…I will give it a whirl!

Today was a totally enthralling day! And I don’t even think that that does it justice. After a few hours of much needed sleep, we awoke, had breakfast, and went to our first morning meeting! We started by listening to Lori Palatnik talk about marriage. She regaled us with stories that explained ( and joked) about the importance the marriage relationship played in the “jewish religion,” What can I say — who knew! But certainly has given me plenty of food for thought…Let me just say…I will be wearing more lipstick in the future…Lori, My husband says thank you; and he doesn’t even know why yet!

Next we were off to the mystical city of Tsfat. It is where the study of Kaballah was started. We had the opportunity to visit a synagogue and shopping,. But the most moving part of the day came from a visit that surprised me! We got the chance to visit the Tsfat MIkvah! Who would have known how moving this could be! They explained away what and why a mikkvah is so important, and that was great. But it was when we got a demonstration from Susan that I felt the importance. She did her schpiel and then we were all supposed to say a prayer and pray for renewal…I prayed for my sister-in-law (Robin) , I prayed for happiness for everyone I know and I just prayed for the ability to take some of this into my heart! And the most shocking reaction…after I prayed I cried…I believe it was sheer joy of connecting to the moment, but what ever it was…I was touched.

After that it was time to enjoy and laugh. Off to Kafer Bloom and kayaking… Our boat (Vicki, Chaya and I) laughed and sang songs, and just had an absolute blast….Mixing the spiritual with the physical was great…it was truly a whole body experience. (one we will definitely be feeling tomorrow)

The evening ended at the ADIR Winery. We sat with people we didn’t know, to force use to meet others. This was a lovely idea. I met people from Boston, Indianapolis, Columbus, Norfolk, Rochester and New Jersey. We shared stories about what got us here!

At the end of the day I was all to aware that the message her is..”We women, we have the power to help change our lives and maybe (if lucky) even our world….Simply by trying to create a “greater home life” I for one am willing to give it a try!

Enjoy Today!

Carol

@funnycancermom
#Jewih Women’sRenaissance Program

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It Can Rain On Sunny Days! Israel Day 1


aToday was a day filled with unimaginable beauty, history, delicacies, bonding and Sorrow. But in the end 200 MOm’s stood arm in arm singing and feeling for the three Mom’s who today learned the worst news. But we stood together, and acknowledged that together we stand and hopefully together we can affect change. Change as Lori Palatnik said will raise us up and make us better…and don’t we all want that!

Today began (well that is taking poetic license) with a trip to the Mediterreanean Sea, were we got the chance to “put our toes in the water!” The setting amidst ancient ruins of aqueducts, teased us with blue waters and white sand beaches. After this “baptism” if you will…we reboarded our bus and headed to Zichron Jaacov. A truly quaint little “artsy town, and restaurants to brilliantly introduce our stomach to the Israeli cuisine… Nili’s was a sweet little lunch spot where we sat en mass, enjoyed, laughed and bonded. Ten hours on a plan and 4 on a bus certainly brings people together!

Then we were off to the hotel in Tiberias. A beautiful little town edged on the Galilee…and faced with the Golan Heights. Here we met up with all of the other cities, and the leaders for an opening night presentation and then To DECKS for Dinner. Our Leader and Founder of JWRP, Lori Palatnik dazzled us with her welcome speech…She spoke of the need for women to “raise the bar”! To be better, happier — And she meant it….She was dynamic and funny…and I for one was truly drawn in by what she had to say.

DECKS was an incredible setting a large outside restaurant on the Galilee…we ate and enjoyed and hoped to dance and celebrate…As dinner drew to an end phones began to beep…CNN had just reported that the bodies of the 3 boys who disappeared a month had been found. Unfortunately they were not found alive…Tears swept through the restaurants. Israel is a small country, and frankly these three children belonged to everyone. As a group we joined together – arm in arm and began to sing songs – and pray for the boys souls and Our deep sorrow for their families….

It was a moving tribute – and one so obviously heartfelt. It really illustrated that this tour, this group, these leaders are really really making an effort (1 women’s or men’s group at a time) to make this world a better place. And I for one am all for that!!

Enjoy the day.
Carol
@funnycancermom

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Little things — Big Meanings


I can’t even describe my excitement.  I leave in less than 38 hours….Frankly, I haven’t been able to spend much time savoring my impending departure because my children leave for camp in the morning.  So I have been busy getting them ready!  But after they leave tomorrow I will begin the countdown.

As I began to pack I came across my little bag of wishes — Notes people have given me touring to the Wall, and find a home for them so that they can permeate into the essence, mysticism and the magic that everyone says they feel after partaking in this ritual.  Even I sat down and wrote some notes….I wrote notes about (and to) my husband and kids,  I wrote to my dad, I wrote about my brothers, and brothers-in-law, sister-in-laws, relatives, friends, MY MOM, I even wrote to my mother-in-law.  But Mostly I wrote to the Man Upstairs himself….I wrote wishes and asked questions, and generally asked for a better world for our children and their children….

I even asked HIM to watch out for my husband while I am gone.  He is Mr. Independent and thrilled I am on this journey but, I think deep down…he will miss me…and wish the house wasn’t so quiet!!!  I know it isn’t for that long!  So all my friends who feel like checking in on him…Be my guest.  🙂  

Everyone, and I mean everyone, tells me this will be an experience that I will never forget…and one that I will want to repeat over and over….I am ready for that..

To the women who are coming on this journey with me….Hold on!  I am expecting the ride of a lifetime….

See you Sunday!

Carol

@funnycancermom

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A Blessing on your head. Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov!


I feel like a girl about to meet her celebrity crush>  Every day I wake up thinking of what is to come…and in just 20 days!  Friday evening I went to temple to receive a blessing for my upcoming trip.  It was a “family service” filled with children of all ages.  The little kindergarten and first graders were an absolute delight.  Their eyes bright and filled with hope of a future they can’t even imagine (Thought they are sure it is filled with candy and goodies).  Then, they called those traveling to Israel.  That was the college students leaving the next day along with Vicky (my friend and roommate on the trip) and I.  I must say, I was overjoyed to be in the company of these “young ins”.   To think we are about to embark on the same journey!  We maybe not the same…but you know what I am saying.

 

Anyway, the blessing was short and the Rabbi explained the purpose of it…and shockingly, I felt touched by it…It has just added to my feeling that I am about to walk the same path as so many before me…and absorb the lessons each footstep left behind….To say I am eager would be an understatement.  

 

To top the weekend off, Sunday we got the chance to meet the entire group (from this area that is – their will be about 200 of us total).  And we watched a  video about Israel, and talked with other women who have been so many times before.  

 

I am on the edge of my seat!

 

I can’t wait to share it alap with you!

 

Enjoy today,

 

Carol

@funnycancermom

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What A Journey…a quick look back…and a preview of whats to come!


Wow, what can I say, the last year has been filled to the brim. I have experienced good and bad, Joy and sorrow, positive and negative events, love and disinterest….and I still wake up every morning believing it will be a great day. Ok not always…but mostly.

Last summer we a new addition join our household….Nelly, the Tibetan Terrier. She has brought such joy and craziness – but no complaints. I never owned a dog before…It really is life changing.

I have been luckier than some, I am still show no signs of a relapse…I have again lost dear friends to this brutal terrorist called “cancer”. So every day I count my blessings, while simultaneously feeling a twinge of “survivors guilt.” All natural I am told. My journey’s brought me to a new mindset. One that teaches me that I must take every opportunity to enjoy life that I can. Don’t just say you want to do something..Do it! And This summer I am doing just that!

In September I applied to join 200 women from all over to take a journey of a life time. I will be going on a trip to Israel. A place I have always wanted to visit. I was not brought up in an observant home, yet since I was a child I have heard that this trip is transformative…and I am told that the majesty of this trip is not felt just by Jews. Israel is the HOLY maternity ward to Christianity, and Islam (I think…don’t quote me on that one).

This trip is meant to give us a connection to Israel first and foremost. To teach us our history, and explain some of our customs. Generally to really get in touch with our roots.

Anyway, like my journey through chemo, I thought I would share my experiences with you. I leave in a months time, so you will be hearing from me sporadically before then…

Just know that while The Cancer Made Me Do the last blog…I will continue under the same name… Cause you gotta know that The Cancer had something to do with this also.

I will find the humor, the laughs, the the touching, the spiritual moments…and share them with you all!

As Carol Ann said in Poltergiest….
IIIIIIII”M BAAAAAAAAACK
So sit back. relax, and enjoy the Blog!

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Angelina Jolie


Angelina Jolie has brought Breast Cancer to the fore front.   Oh wait, it already was in the fore front of “cancers”.  What I meant to say is that she has brought Double Mastectomy’s to the fore front of Cancer treatments.  Oh wait they were already the primary part of treatment for most aggressive Breast Cancers.  I guess that is the Catch 22 of Celebrity….It seems she’s been  given credit for what thousands and thousands of others have done before her.  And I am not even sure she wants any of it.

She seems to have shed light on a subject that already has spotlights on it…The media has called her for her heroic, and Brave and many other adjectives that don’t really capture the true essence of what she has done….and that is, that she has made LIVING HER PRIORITY!!!! And that is to be commended.   What she has done, and I what applaud her for, is how she did all of this, and how she has chosen to tell the world.  After the fact. And her explanation was brief, and reasonable, and SMART!

Ms. Jolie was presented with “Life Choices”; the facts about her future and how they can (and probably would) affect her quality of life down the road.  Then she intelligently, thoughtfully and prudently decided to have a surgery that can be very traumatic for a women.  especially one so stunning and waist deep in the “appearance business”.  I am not belittling her decision in any way!  Having been there, done that…I am glad that she is showing the world that this procedure is not an end to “womanhood”, but quite the opposite.  It is a call to arms, against a disease that tries to rob us of that same feminine exuberance which fuels our desire to remain the force of nature we have become.  And for that Angie…I thank you…

I think back to a few years ago…Different from Ms. Jolie, I didn’t have a the same decision to make as she did, well not completely.  I could have had a single mastectomy…But the odds that I would be back for the second where, frankly, to great (40-60%)…So I threw caution to the wind and went for the full treatment.  Many I have spoken were to worried to do both.  Amongst those that I know, I am saddened to say a larger % have had to go back to remove the second breast as well.  I know that is not exciting news to hear…But I will say that many of those women wished they had done the dDouble the first time around.

We survivors are all “Beautiful women”…just  like Angelina Jolie, and with this surgery she had, we will certainly be keeping “abreast” of her situation for a lot longer…

Angie, I wish you all the best!

Enjoy Today

Carol

Funnycancermom

 

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ASKED AND ANSWERED, AND NOT A WORD SPOKEN


dad at busch gardens

Sometimes firsts are good.  The first time you ride a bike, the first time you eat ice cream, the first kiss, the first kid (just kidding both of my kids are terrific).  Firsts are meant to be moments that you will always remember.  But honestly, some firsts you just want to forget.

This is what I am feeling today.  Tomorrow is my father’s birthday.  He came so close to making it to 85.  His death in October was surrounded by such craziness, that I am not sure anytime was really given for grieving.  I mean we mourned, but so much went on in just a few short days of his death that all of those extra emotions kind of got lost in the hubbub.

At the end of September we planned moving my parents to Florida.  Nov. 5 was picked.  Flights were booked, movers were scheduled…and the packing was able to begin.  The process was physically daunting, but even more so emotionally.  My Father was already beginning his final decline (though we weren’t as steep his decline was).  I am sure he was able to register what was happening, and I believe it caused him to withdraw into himself even more.  Many have said he didn’t want to go to Florida…Maybe they were right!  He died on Oct. 21, and the moment the “Shiva” ended, we were hit with Hurricane Sandy; which didn’t even stop the packing and moving process.  Nov. 5 we were on that plan, and off to start a new chapter in my Mom’s life.

My mom and I were speaking earlier.  We speak both talk him all the time, and today my mom said, “but he doesn’t answer.”  Which made me realize something.  He certainly does answer.  He has allowed you to Segway into this new, exciting and privileged chapter of you life, without the heartache of feeling guilty (and you don’t have anything to feel guilty about).  This is his parting gift to you, the woman he loved for over 60 years.  Be happy and enjoy he says…without ever uttering a word.  You and the children deserve it!!!!

So I guess this first birthday with out you dad is also a memory…Know that I wish you here with us…But every day you are thought of fondly, and cherished even more….

 

Happy Birthday Dad….

Enjoy!

Carol

@afunnycancermom

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HOPE


Hope…What an incredible word.  It is what holds us in anticipation, and it is what can spark your individual greatness from within.  It is always looking forward at the possibilities, and cannot be held back in the past.  You hope for the future, you look back at your past.

 

Cancer has taught me a lot about hope.  Of course there is the obvious things to hope for.  I hope I get better, I hope my treatments are not “horrific”, I hope I make it long enough to see my children grow up (that was a big one this second time around), I hope I don’t get sick again, and finally, I hope that I not only get better…but I also hope that I don’t get bogged down by the ramifications of being “afflicted twice”.

 

Hope is what I wake up with every morning.  Some of my hopes are whimsical and shallow.  And that is okay.  While it would be great if those hopes were achieved sometimes, I don’t hold my breath for those. – rather, I enjoy the frivolity of the hoping.  You know those thoughts…”I hope I can lose 30 pound by Friday”, or “I hope I can eat this gallon of ice cream and still fit into my jeans tomorrow”, and of course, I hope to have the chance to meet Hugh Lurie, Hugh Jackman and Zac brown, because I am a huge fan.  These are delicious little nuggets that help me smile on days that aren’t always filled with smiles.

 

Then I have hopes that aren’t necessarily about me, but are about my family.  These are ones that really affect my emotions.  Because these are things I hope for my children, my Husband, my brothers and sister-n-laws, my nieces and cousins, my friends.  I want, no I hope, for them way more than I hope for myself.  My hopes for them are lofty and rich. I hope for them to get what they want, because I hope they will always be happy.  I know that it is important not to always get what you want, but I am a mother first.  And I hope, all the time, I can take away any pain or sorrow my children go through.  But I can’t always do that.  But I am aware that my children also have there own frivioulous hopes…And I encourage them…I think these are what is meant by “Hope springs eternal”…

 

My daughter, for example, hopes to be a star.  Her hopes don’t have a pathway to achieve this, or a definite area in which she chooses to become a star…She just hopes for stardom…and I hope she becomes one as well.  Though, she has no definitive pathway as to what type of “star” she wants to become…her hopes are lovely and endearing (and not unlike many teenage girls), and I hope to help her head that way (though honestly, I hope she finds another hope as she gets older).

 

My son hopes for more simple things.  New videogames, to be better at certain sports, and his biggest hope is that he never has to do homework again.  But of course this last one is not gonna happen.  But he can always Hope.

 

My mother, well I think she hoped that she would be okay when she moved away.  Well we were there this week, and boy she is okay.  She has a brightness and lightness to her spirit.  One which I haven’t seen in so long.  Her melancholy is present, but is being trimmed with hope that her next stage in life will have joy and adventure.

 

So I guess I just hope all of those I love to get what they hope for.  Because then I get what I hope for.  Who could hope for more!

Enjoy Today.

 

Carol

 

Funnycancermom

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Who’s In Charge Here?


Recently, my kids and I were talking about the show “The Biggest Loser”.  There was a commercial clip on showing Jillian screaming at one of the contestants.  I said, “wow she seems so mean, how can that be motivating.”  I was sure my children would agree with me (since they are forever telling me I’m a yeller, and it definitely isn’t motivating for them).    But, yet again, my kids surprised me.  My daughter said, “Mom what she is doing is changing their lives.  She is helping them get better for their kids and that is a good thing….you just yell about homework and stuff.  Totally different!”  Matt said, “having to answer to someone all the time is good for you when you are trying to change something about yourself.”  And while I wanted to tell them that cleaning their room or doing homework, or even being true to yourself are also good ways to change something about yourself…But I thought better of it!

 

It did get me thinking, however, is being accountable for our own actions and being true to ourselves the same thing?.  For example, I was on Facebook the other day….just roaming through to see what people (“friends”) have posted…I like to go on a few times a week and check-in.  There are always the same 3 “friends” that post 20x times a day.  No exaggeration…If I were being true to myself, I would send them a message saying, “99% of the stuff you say is absolute drivel.  Why do I need to hear that your dog is tired, or you were tired after taking her for a walk, or that I should be Happy because it is Sunday, Bitches!” Really, what is the purpose of that?   But, I am accountable for these words, and I realize they seem harsh and uncalled for (though true).

 

These Facebook dwellers live their private life in this public venue but instead of being angry at them, I should feel more sympathetic towards them…I guess it is a modern day depiction of Shakespeare’s soliloquy in Macbeth…

 

…Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

 

Accountability is something I struggle with.  I believe it has a much-needed place in our daily lives, but often gets over looked.  Should we be true to our self or accountable to others?  Are they mutually exclusive?  In being true to myself as of late, I realize that I need to be more accountable to others for things.  Which brings me to my latest project. And back to The Biggest Loser for a second.  Since being sick, I have struggled with my weight.  And weekly I became more and more unhappy with the fact that as disgusted with my weight problems as I am, I have no one to blame but myself.  I have avoided the gym, I had given up on “healthy eating”, and I had found every possible excuse to let myself get this way.   I need to be accountable for that if not to myself then to someone I believe can help me.  So I have joined a group of 28 others on this journey.  I officially start Monday, but I am getting myself ready this week.  For the next 8 weeks, I have to answer to 7 other team members’ about what I eat, and how many times I work out, and how hard I work out and yes, even what I weigh.  I need to prove weekly that I am committed to this and to the team.  There are 4 teams pitted against each other, and I need to pull my weight (metaphorically and physically). …And while this is not the televised version, the benefits can only make me feel like a star.

 

So I have chosen to use my accountability for Good instead of Evil…Personal growth instead of Public ridicule…I will keep you all filled in.  And while my blog may appear on Facebook….My weight never will!

 

Go team Black….

 

Enjoy today

 

Carol

@funnycancermom

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Thank You Nannette Stueck – The Follow Up


IMG_2078Well after I wrote my November 30th blog about Nanneette Stueck, I received over 100 public and private comments on potential ways to find her. I listened to several comments and tracked a series of addresses to Maine.  I sent off a few letters hoping that at least one of the addresses I got would be hers.  But as you see from above, all of my letters were returned …NOT DELIVERABLE AS ADDRESSED.  It seemed to be a dead end.  I wondered if I was going about this the wrong way…But in the end, odd as this may be, it was her that found me.

 On December 17th I got a note posted to my LinkedIn account from Nannette, that simply said she was trying to find me and gave me her email.  I was thrilled.  The next day I got this…(I have taken out the personal details).

 

Oh finally, No, my cousin forwarded your blog Sunday.  I have been attempting to contact you since. Here’s some of the mail I’ve been trying to send you. I tried to post to your blog but it said something about needing moderation and now is gone,  linked in must have worked, I tried  Carol@fXXXXXXXXXX but that didn’t work

Carol –

Last night after watching / helping my daughter XXXXXXX decorate our tree I launched my email, The usual advertisements to be deleted, a note from my sister to call my mom in the face of Friday’s tragedy in Newton, and a note from my cousin Eileen in Pasadena, CA.

She stumbled upon your blog and found your note to me, and she forwarded it, in case you hadn’t found me.  She said she was later night, should have been asleep internet searching….I should probably ask what brought her to a cancer blog….

You are the first person I think of when someone says, “IF you know someone who has been affected by cancer,” but of course I had no idea how many new ways it would touch you in the 28 years since I’d seen you last.

I remember our quick and easy friendship and our talks, I remember our brief rooming while you continued your treatments at Tufts.  I remember too, the odd way people reacted to your cancer and I remember your strength.  I also remember how when you had beaten Hodgkins and graduated that you broke down and cried to me on the phone so scared about the future, and I was in such awe of it, like after all the bravery, why now??  Why is she so scared now, and so brave in the thick of it.  I have cautioned everyone I have known since when they have struggled with cancers, mostly breast and said be careful – watch your thoughts, be ready for the crash, and call me if you need to talk.

I, to date, have avoided the cancers personally as well as with immediate family members.  Great girlfriends and neighbors have had lumpectomies and mastectomies, all very brave and beautiful survivors! But, you were my first….and so you remain the first thought.

Great to find you and I’d love to stay in touch!!!

Love, Nannette

And even greater gift was that she was relatively local over the holidays, and we got to meet for breakfast.  I got the chance to meet part of her family.  They are as warm as Nannette.  And if I didn’t say it to you that day Nannette, you look great…and happy.  I have done nothing but talk about re connecting with you.  I know I owe you an email,.  I have been so busy telling and re telling everyone about that I don’t  didn’t even email to say what a great breakfast it was, and I look forward to many more meetings.

I realized I got a few details wrong, Like Nannette went to Simmons not Northeastern, but we figured why I thought that….But all in all our memories coincided.

What a great Holiday Gift it was to reconnect….It was a real great feeling finding you and thanking you.  I believe it completed  closure on that time in my life.  And gives me the chance to create a friendship with someone I know has a great heart!!!

New Resolution #1.

*Be grateful and always say say thank you to those you feel deserve it!

CHECK

 

ENJOY TODAY!

 

Carol

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Thank You Nannette Stueck


Over Thanksgiving weekend, my children, my husband and I were talking about sleepovers.  My son asked if I liked them and/or if I was ever scared to sleep somewhere else.  It was seemingly innocuous question.  Yet it caused the flash of a memory that I hadn’t thought about in a longtime.  It was almost movie like.   The memory was so vivid, and the emotions it conjured were so real.  So real I wanted to tell the kids all about it.  This is what I told them…

There was one time that I was afraid from being away from home.  As you know, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease when I was a senior in College. I was operated on around mid-December, and Christmas break was coming up.  It wasn’t easy or quick, but I made the decision to stay in Boston, and have the treatments there.  Away from my family.  The dorms would be closed for the holiday, so I needed to find a place to live for the month.  I guess I could have stayed in a hotel, but I didn’t want to be totally alone.  There was this other college senior I worked with at Copperfield’s.  Her name was Nannette Stueck, and we worked together at a bar between B.U. campus and Northeastern (where she went).  She and her boyfriend (now husband) Scott all worked together, and we had become somewhat friendly.  When I told her what was going on, she immediately offered me a place to stay for the month.  Her roommates would be going home for the break, and she didn’t want me to be alone for the holidays.  A single selfless act…

I was touched by her invitation, and moved in the next day, because two days later I was to start treatment.  I woke up at 5 a.m. and travelled via Trolley, then train to get to the hospital.  It was bitter cold, and dark, but I went.  After about 2 weeks, I began to feel the side effects of treatment.  Initially, food became tasteless. Everything I ate scratched my tongue and throat.  It was like swallowing extra course sandpaper.  Nannette decided to spend a day trying to cook different things that I could eat.  She made puddings, and jello’s and just a whole bunch of stuff.  It was unbelievably sweet.

A week later, I woke up because I felt a draft on my neck.  It was about 4 in the morning.  I got up and checked the window, but it was closed.  I checked the door to my rom, but it too was closed.  I couldn’t figure out what it was, but it was almost time to get up anyway, so     I went to switch on the light to the room.  It was then that I realized why I felt the draft, and I began to weep.  There, on the pillow, was a thick clump of my hair.  I couldn’t imagine that it would fall out like this.  But there it was Nanette must have heard me crying.  She came into my room and sat with me.  Told me you could hardly tell.  I knew she was lying, but she said it in a way that made us both laugh.

Nannette Stueck was my hero then.  She made me laugh and forget what I was going through!   Most people thought my decision to stay in Boston to get treatments was odd, at best.  But I knew I would never have gone back to finish my degree if I left.  I needed to continue, to go on as though nothing was wrong.  Because the alternative was that everything would stop.  My college career, and my life…And Nannette got that.  She saw I was right to do it, and made that month okay…Fun even!

It has been years since Nannette and I were in contact.  With Facebook, I have hoped that I would find her over the years.  I try.  I put her name in, but nothing comes up.  So Nannette Stueck of Ridgefield, Ct who is married to Scott from Sudbury, Mass (maybe Swampscott…I don’t exactly remember where in Ma. Scott was from.  Though I do remember the gorgeous church you got married in).  Because of you, I put every effort out to help others; whether I know them or not.  It is a truly fulfilling feeling to help others.  I thank you for introducing that to me!

Nannette, I hope you are well and happy!  I would love to find you, but understand that I may not.   I want you to know that I tell my kids about your kindness all the time!  I hope to one day say THANK YOU in person!  Your selfless act o kindness changed me forever.

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My Dad


 

3/8/1928 – 10/21/2012

 

Please let me begin by saying that my mother, brothers and I thank you all for being here today to celebrate the life of our Dad, Herbert Grossman. My brother, Neil, being reticent to speak in these situations, has agreed to let me speak on his behalf. Our Dad was a multi-faceted man: And facet is such a befitting word to describe him, because it connotes a precious stone . And that is just what he was. A jewel; a diamond amongst lesser stones.

Our Dad was a man with a modest and tumultuous upbringing. Yet he forged an upward path early on. He started in the garment center by accident, but he was lucky in that he had a real passion for what he did. He found success and achievement within his first year. From that point on he would strive to create the best product possible…No exceptions and no short cuts. Believe it or not this was his greatest strength and also his biggest weakness. He truly was an industry legend.

He believed that as much as you got, you must always remember that you had to give back. Tzedaka is what they call it. There are many memories of Dad reaching into his pocket to give a dollar to someone in need, and often also stopping and having a conversation with the person. It was our Dad’s way of saying, “I am here to help if you need.” He was generous to a fault…it was even Scott’s and my wedding, when (after a few cocktails) he began to tip the entire wait staff who where wearing Tuxedo’s. (Which was a long list…because it was a black tie affair.) Thankfully our friend David followed him around to re-collect his generosity.

Another facet of our Dad was his incredible sense of humor. He was dry and quick witted. His jokes had us rolling, but mostly because he was laughing so hard by the time he came to the punch line. We couldn’t help but laugh along. We aren’t really sure if the jokes were as funny as we think they are. But we certainly remember the laughing. Another facet was how he loved spending time with his grandchildren. His pride and utter joy was always apparent when he spoke of them, played with them, or showed pictures of them to friends and acquaintances…he would just beam. Jane and Elysabeth were blessed with many good “grandpa years”. He never missed a birthday party. He loved to scoop them up in his muscular “boxer like” arms and chepper them on the face. Both of you would coo with glee. Sam, Will, Matt and Alissa didn’t have as many years with Dad at full strength, but the love and joy he had being with you 4 was no less. All of you were the truly joyful part of his life. You were a big part of that dazzling smile, and definitely what caused his inner glow.

There was one facet that sparkled brighter than any of the others. The brightest spark he gave off was the one that illuminated the love he had for our Mom/his wife of 56 years. She truly was his world. He even hired my mom to work for him back in the 80’s. For 30 years they would wake up next to each other, go to work together, spent all day at the office together, had dinner together, and came home; just to do the same thing over again the next day. They were true partners, soul mates…. in life, in love, in every way possible. Their love was special…it was epic.

Our father was a man of great convictions. Right or wrong, he was never indifferent. He did things his own way. And that held true to his death. He made it strong to his Matthew and Alissa’s B’nai Mitzvah. Being ever present in a room surrounded by his family and cherished friends. It was almost like he had orchestrated his own going away party. And in the end, he wanted just to go off quietly, and rest…which he did. Not a complaint.

Dad we love you truly, we will miss the twinkle in your eye and the mischief in your heart…. we know you are peaceful and at rest. Something you haven’t been able to do for many years. We feel your love, and we hope you feel ours. Rest well Pops (as Neil liked to call him)…We Love you,

 

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Filed under a day in the life, Funny Cancer Mom, herbert grossman