Category Archives: coping with breast cancer

MORE OR LESS


Wow! Here I am “2 weeks post cancer treatment”, and I feel like it never happened. Well MORE or LESS it is true. I remain firm with the belief that this is in my past, and I have a long future ahead of me. So I am “MORE or LESS” back to normal….or am I.

I find myself a little MORE skittish about things. My friends are being nice (but I bet it will begin to drive them a little crazy). I am LESS inclined to be a passenger in a car. I have become that person that uses the invisible brake on the passenger side floor. The invisible pedal that annoys the driver (this is my way of apologizing for being so annoying – I get it). For some reason I have become very nervous. I assume it is a control issue. I had no control in getting cancer…so I am looking I am naturally looking to take control of what I can. I would think this feeling will calm down in a little bit (I hope).

I find I am MORE likely to decline Dinner or “Evening Out” opportunities (mostly because I still seem to fall asleep before 9:00), and LESS likely to veer far from my children (something they are finding particularly annoying).

I am MORE introspective and philosophical (as my brother says), and LESS caring about my appearance. I definitely need to re evaluate this second part because, while their is so much MORE of me to love I would prefer the adoration be LESS Body mass related and MORE Personality related. Face if the MORE LBS.on the scale translates to LESS clothes that fit the body. And I am particularly fond of clothing, so I think it prudent to stay in a weight class that I can be comfortable in them.

I find I am MORE interested in getting my life organized, but have LESS focus to actually accomplish that task — at the moment. I can sit and try to go through a pile of papers and an hour later, still get nowhere…It is somewhat frustrating. The upside of this is that now I have at least been giving myself an A+ for the effort.

I think, I just want MORE of my old life back, and I am LESS willing to wait for it. I am trying to make it happen now. So bare with me a little bit. Because it is MORE likely than not, that I have changed, and LESS likely that I will be the same woman I was before.

So I hope that the new me is okay or even better — MORE or LESS!

Enjoy

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Filed under a day in the life of a cancer patient, Ashikari Breast Center, Birdies for Breast Cancer, breast cancer, cancer has a silver lining, Carol Abramson - Funny Cancer Mom, coping with breast cancer, Cristie Kerr Women's Health Center, Curvature Wines, inspirational, the cancer made me do it

How Do I Feel?


It is a seemingly mundane question for most — but not for me! For the last 6 months I would have a different answer for you every day of the week. But all related to my chemo therapy treatment. Today that is a different story, yet I still have so many different answers to that question.

As part of my regular “chemo” cycle, today is not a good day. I am tired and my mind is somewhat scattered. I just feel Blah. My energy is not high, and I don’t really feel like myself. It is not different than any other Wednesday after chemo though — and that is oddly comforting.

But at the same time, I am elated. I work under the assumption that I will never have to go through this again, and this is the last cycle of Blah that I will have to endure. So I have been whispering this notion to myself all day. I hear myself repeating “This is it, I am almost done; This is the last two days of this yuckiness” And that brings a smile to my face. And a lightness to my shoulders — which had begun to weigh heavy lately.

I also feel appreciative and appreciated for/by all those who have kept me going these last months. But honestly I also feel overwhelmed. I feel I need to tell everyone how thankful I am for what they have done for me…Yet I don’t know the appropriate way to do that. I want to make sure that you (and everyone) knows how deeply grateful I am.

But mostly I feel happy. Just to know that I am done and I can move on to the next chapter in my life. I want to get back to living with out skiddishness, to having a day with out worrying about what the next day will bring, and I am excited for spending many consecutive days unconcerned that my future is not full. Because while I never let on that these thoughts were in my head — They were…but today I finally feel like I can let those thoughts go — and hopefully I will never have to think of them again.

So the answer to the question is

TODAY I FEEL LIKE my life is coming back…FINALLY!

ENJOY TODAY

Carol

@funnycancermom

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WISH DAY, WALK DAY, WHADDA SAY — BIRTHDAY!!!


I have to say that yesterday, MY 50th BIRTHDAY, was perfect. It was the NYC Susan G. Komen Race/walk for the Cure – and it was perfect. The weather, the 31 of us that walked as a group and had a great time, the 25,000 that followed us (I felt like a celebrity with a stalker – cool), the cause in which we walked for, and the sense that I was surround by good friends and great feelings. I couldn’t have asked for a better party, and I want to make sure you all know how thankful I was that you were a part of this day…I posted this on Facebook, but I want to make sure you all see it!

Thank you all for your Birthday Wishes! I really want everyone to know that this goes down as one of the greatest birthdays EVER. I got to share the day with a great mix of people from different parts of my life — and frankly seeing them all together clarifies why I love each and everyone of you and how when blended together you get the perfect group of friends! Thank you to those who helped me reach a goal of almost $17,000 for a cause close to my heart (Since I don’t have breasts anymore LOL)! To those who weren’t with me today I believe you were there with me in spirit and that is as important! THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND, MY FAMILY, AND MY LIFE…and it is not the Cancer that made me write this….It is all of you!.

I will be blogging over the next two days about my emotions and today’s FINAL treatment YEAH!!!. But I believe that you all deserve my appreciation for you love and support!

So as I say above – Thank you to you all..

Because you are all a part of my success and making it through!!!

TRULY — ENJOY TODAY! IT IS MY BIRTHDAY WISH FOR YOU ALL!

CAROL

@funnycancermom

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Filed under a day in the life of a cancer patient, Ashikari Breast Center, Birdies for Breast Cancer, breast cancer, coping with breast cancer, Cristie Kerr Women's Health Center, Curvature Wines, Scott Abramson, Susan G. Komen NYC Race for the Cure September 18

From Start to Finish!


As I get closer to the end, I find reason to look back at the journey. One that I feel is compelling, and I will tell you why: Aside from the fact that it spans 3 decades. It is the ultimate story of hope, family and laughter and beating the odds…TWICE. Recently I went to meet with a friend of a friend who was just starting her treatment (at the same place I get mine). She had a friend with her, and she asked me to tell her my story…So I did. The I realized, that I have never really told it all at once before. I have referred to it in my blogs, but never in a linear fashion. I realized, now that I am coming to the end…telling the story from start to finish is good. And of course next week I can write about the happy “movie” ending..

The back-story is short; in 1982, as a senior at BU, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease – stage 2A. In a span of 3 days (a week before thanksgiving break) I went from BU’s School infirmary to being scheduled for a Biopsy and tumor dissection (in Boston). After recouping at home in NY for 1 week, I returned to Boston to learn that I had cancer. After another surgery and an 8 day hospital stay, I had to decide on how to go forward with my treatment. While my diagnosis would have put most college careers on hold, I chose to finish out my year, and have my radiation treatments in Boston. My mom had enough on her plate; her mom was ill and my parents had just started a new business. Even though I didn’t have family with me in Boston…I knew if I left I would never return to college.

Granted I had no real support system in Boston (BU students were superficial group) and once word got out – I became less popular than a leper. Every day I left my dorm room at 6 a.m. and fought through the cold weather and elements of the “Combat Zone” to make it to treatment. Cobalt and Liniac radiation treatments 5 days a week for 4 weeks with 1 week break then another round of 4 weeks. I was Bald, stick thin, and nauseas for all of it! But I have no regrets, cause 29 years later I was still cancer free…and while I have encountered many of the known side affects to Cobalt Radiation (hypothyroidism, colitis, mitro-valve prolapse, infertility) I was still thankful….

Skip to October of 2010, after a few routine dental exams, my Mom was diagnosed with Squarmous Cell Carcinoma of the Right Hard Palette – Mouth Cancer. In December she under went a surgery that was very invasive and we were warned to “not expect too much.” After the partial removal of her jaw bone and the removal of her hard palette, she is doing UNBELIEVABLY WELL – her spirit and recuperative powers have stunned her Doctors…She truly is a real life wonder woman. We still had to face 30 days of radiation – but we had already faced the worst – so we were good to go.

January of 2011, we went to meet with my Mom’s future radiologist (another wonder woman) Dr. Randy Stevens. During this initial consult Dr. Stevens talked with my mom as a person, not a patient. She gave her in-depth information into the treatment, side affects, kinds of radiation used – at which time my mom offered up that we were familiar with radiation treatment and told her of my history…

After Dr. Stevens was done explaining everything to my mom (and we had asked all of our questions) Dr. Stevens turned her attention to me. She wanted to know how (and if) I follow up on my disease and if I know to watch for certain things due to the Cobalt Radiation I received. Years ago I learned that Cobalt radiation is no longer used because of all the awful side affects it causes – and that these side affects usually don’t show up for many years. I told I already had many side affects, and I am good about keeping up to date with all of my screenings. The only one I was behind on was my Mammogram and Ultra-sound. (They were originally scheduled for while my mom was in the hospital so I was running a few months behind.) Anyway she asked that I get that scheduled as quickly as possible, because you can never be to careful and, yes, Breast Cancer is also a side affect of Cobalt radiation.

My mom started her treatments in February and I scheduled my mammogram and ultra-sound. Valentine’s day I thought was a good day for that – or maybe not. My appointment was scheduled for 9 a.m. I was home by 10:30 and on the phone with a Dr. at 11 – telling me they found something suspicious on the ultra-sound. One week later I had a biopsy, and was notified within 24 hours that the lump was malignant.

With my mother in treatment (and caring for my father who has advanced parkinson’s. Once again, my mom had enough on her plate to deal with – So I kept my diagnosis to myself as long as possible; a month to be exact. I informed a few very close friends, and they were amazing. They went to appointments with me, helped me get everything scheduled and figured out a plane of action, so by the time I did tell my family – I would have everything all figured out.

In meeting with Doctors, I found out my lump was rather small – 1.6 mm. I was Her2 and ER positive (that is good), My Bracca tests were negative; and later I learned my Onca Types were low grey area range. This was the best way to get this disease. For most it would be – Lumpectomy, Radiation and done — But not so for me. Cobalt had robbed me of choices. After meeting with several specialists I learned that because of the Cobalt, radiation of any kind is off the table. Which means a Lumpectomy is off the table – which means…YES Mastectomy (and a double since I was so likely to get it in the other breast as well. And since I can’t do radiation – Chemo was the recommended course of treatment..

After telling my family – I knew I had to tell the rest of my friends – but I couldn’t bare telling the story over and over, so on May 3rd a blog was born. THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT (thecancermademedoit.com) documents my journey in a light-hearted and up beat manner. It highlights the good that has come out of all this…and yes there is enough good to write 32 posts so far. In this past year I have been swaddled with friendship, love and support from those close and those I didn’t even know and have been deeply touched by it. The cancer damaged my body…but the experience has healed my sole. And every day I count my blessings. I am so thankful for all that I do have – and yes even the cancer. For I believe that all of this has made me a better person…not a bitter one.

I am thankful to be alive, thankful to have an unbelievably supportive and loving husband, and thankful for the exceptional children we have (especially after the Doctors told me it would be extremely difficult to conceive). I met Scott in 1997, and he has always been my rock. Since October, he has been my constant cheerleader (and if you knew him you’d know he doesn’t exactly exude “perky” energy). He often finds ways to tell me how inspirational I am – to him, our kids and anyone who reads my blogs.

My twins are 11 now, and they, too, are just amazing. They have faced a lot in 11 years: Matthew was legally deaf until he was 4 1/2, which was almost fully corrected by simple surgery – and excluding some minor learning delays, he has rebounded at exponential proportions; At 7 they faced the death of their grandma (multiple myeloma); at 8 and 10 they dealt with the deaths of our best friends (and frankly 2nd parents to our kids) both to different forms of cancer; and then recently Matt and Alissa had to watch my mother and my friends suffer through their cancer surgeries and/or treatments, which were debilitating & harsh; they visit and watch their grandfather deteriorate from advanced Parkinson’s disease and, of course they see me on good days and bad ones. With all this, Alissa and Matthew have retained their positive and giving outlook on life. I often write blogs about how inspirational they have been to me through this whole ordeal. Scott, Matthew and Alissa have even motivated me to start a charitable foundation (THE CNCER MADE ME DO IT) that will raise money to be divided between 6 organizations: The Susan G. Komen Foundation, THANC, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, The Multiple Myeloma Foundation (MMRF), The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Birdies for Breast Cancer and The Ashikari Breast Center. My kids have rallied their friends to work on ideas for an event for their Mitzvah project. So you can see why I am thankful and why I consider myself blessed.

All this leads up to the kicker…As many of you know this Sunday (September 18th) I turn 50 years old. On that same day is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in NYC – it is the ultimate in birthday celebrations. To be surrounded by my friends, family and thousands who sharre my battle will the best gift I can ask for. I will walk proudly to raise money to find a cure once and for all. For me I get the added bonus of knowing that on SPETMENBER 19TH I will receive my FINAL chemo treatment. I will end my treatment with the way it began. Happy, upbeat, and willing to face any challenge the world throws at me.

So Cancer — BEAT THAT!!!!

Enjoy Every Day and especially Today!

Carol

@funnycancermom

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Filed under a day in the life of a cancer patient, Ashikari Breast Center, Birdies for Breast Cancer, breast cancer, cancer has a silver lining, Cancer Vixen, Carol Abramson - Funny Cancer Mom, coping with breast cancer, Cristie Kerr, Susan G. Komen NYC Race for the Cure September 18

A Gift With A Purpose!


This week I was introduced to a gentleman who represents a product with a “purpose”. It is a rare and unique concept – and done exquisitely…I might add. My husband, Scott has been an unbelievable advocate during my illness – and as an advocate to find sponsors for my Race for the Cure Walk Team. He has introduced me to Indy, the representative for Curvature Wines…and hearing the message behind this company has left me speechless…But my fingers still work, so I would like to tell you all about it. People that do good things and expect nothing in return deserve accolades greater than my blog, but it is a start!!!

Curvature Wine is a product of two kindred spirits meeting. Suzanne Pride Bryan, of the Pride family Vineyards in Sonoma County, and Cristie Kerr, Pro Golfer extraordinaire; as well as a lover of fine food and wine. Both women have lost family to cancer (Cristie losing an Aunt to Breast Cancer – and, luckily, her Mom has survived her bout with Breast Cancer). Together they have came up with a way to honor life while simultaneously helping to eliminate a disease that can indiscriminately take life away. Curvature Wines: They are exceptional my husband says. As one of NY’s “wine” guru’s he boasts about all the positive’s of this brand.

For me it is the purpose of the company that I so admire. One Hundred percent of profits is donated back to Breast Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Charities. How awesome is that to create such a high quality product and use the profit’s to find a cure for Breast Cancer. AWESOME. Honestly, it is like CHANEL or GUCCI creating a small line and giving 100% of the profits to charity.

I admit (full disclosure time) Scott’s store is the only store in the Tri-State area to carry it – but I am not talking about this to promote his store. I am talking about how awesome Cristie and Her Mom, Linda, and Suzanne are, and I don’t even know them. When Scott told Indy about me he (and Curvature Wines) jumped right on board to help me out, and to help me reach my fund-raising goal for the walk. Just so you know, between online and cash donations we are almost at $10,500.

Cristie’s philanthropic ventures are well known. Her Birdie’s for Breast Cancer organization has raised over $1.25 million. This money has gone to open the Cristie Kerr Women’s Health Clinic in Jersey City – 1t is the only comprehensive breast care facility in Hudson County to cater to “uninsured” women and men. To date they have helped over 1,600 patients. I hope to begin volunteering there when I finish treatments, and also give back. Another lesson of this Wine venture….giving back is curative and tasty!!

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to Cristie for her desire to give back!!!

Enjoy today
Carol
@funnycancermom

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The Flip Side


Call me crazy, but yesterday I was practically “school girl” giddy. On Friday, I was notified that my 7th chemo treatment (2nd to last treatment) would have to be postponed due to the impending Hurricane Irene. The thought sent me into a state of depression fro a few days. I have plans, I have a schedule, and I am un-accepting of that changing. All weekend long I concocted stories in my head; stories to make ensure that if appointments opened up for monday (or Tuesday) I would be the first to snag one. I thought of the child care angle (though my kids are almost 12 and I have friends her were on call), I thought about being will to sit all day and wait for an open chair, and, of course, I thought about all out begging…I have no shame — I want this done with.

Well in the end I had nothing to worry about. Dr. Mills called me 1st thing Monday and said she was there to come on over. I may have to wait for the protocol nurses, but they would definitely get my treatment in. HORRAY! So my friend Elaine drove me on up. Hurricane Irene had done damage, but it also made the office uncrowded. I was up in my treatment chair by 10:30. My nurse today was a different one than I was used to, but she did an exquisite job finding a vein and drawing my blood. I was back in my mom’s car by 12:30! And for what ever reason I was up and perky all day (and all night – Man steroids really do keep you hyped up). I got home and had some quality time with my husband before the kids go home from their friend’s houses. I relaxed for an hour or so, and then I sat on the tennis court watching my son play with my husband, My friend Wendy and her son Daniel. My Daughter and her friend rode bikes and jumped rope (which I tried but realized at 50 – I mean 49 – my jump is a little rusty).

Usually by 5 or 6 I am ready to crawl into bed for the night but I was positively giddy. So the evening continued with a great impromptu dinner out with my friend Amy and her family. We sat outside on a gorgeous night, on the water, watching the sunset. I was feeling fine and famished (as usual). Was this feeling of jubilation from the breathtaking setting, maaaybe; was it because I had 7 done and only one left – Poooossibly; Was it because The support, love and warmth that has surrounded me through out this entire ordeal has lifted me to a higher plain of being…Ok really? But that sounded poetic didn’t. 🙂 But I do think that I have found a great combination of things to get me through all of this and change my life for the better. Since my 1st treatment on May 4, I realize I having a great support system – family, friends, and community; I believe that having a positive outlook on your time in treatment as well as what you hope to achieve after treatment is a must; that getting my priorities in line and keeping things in perspective can be hard but can be life changing; learning when it is time to stand up for yourself…and not back down has helped me find (and push away) the right Dr’s and have allowed me to ignore the negative influences during this period in my life; but most important of all.. I have learned to laugh at life and enjoy what is thrown at me…because after all this was only a short bump in what I hope to be a really long and full life. Full of love, laughter, family and friendship — and, yes, even some tears and sadness. With out one you can’t understand the other.

So here I am on the flip-side of my May 4th f=post titled 1 down 7 to go…

Today is 7 down 1 to go….

Hip Hip Horray!

and ENJOY today

Carol

@funnycancermom

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The Silver Lining


What does it say about me that even though we are having a Hurricane in NY and just had an Earthquake — things are pretty good with me? Is that one of those HMMMM moments. I am thrilled that the kids are home. We have been spending a lot of time as a family — which I know will not happen as much once the craziness of “school” and “activities” start in two weeks. I have been taking advantage of every moment. Admittedly a little bribing needs to be done because unfortunately Matt has some of the same characteristics as Scott. (For example, today I took him clothes shopping – since he grew 3 inches at camp and his long pants are now board shorts on him. You would think I was taking him into a torture chamber. The moment we walk into the store – the eyes start rolling and e is already ready to leave. Oy!) The kicker is, after a few minutes he was totally into i — trying on pants and shirts, and putting outfits together. I was impressed. Later, when I said “see that isn’t so bad” He responded “it was torture.” Oh well, I still had fun.

My daughter (who could shop for a living) got her braces this week. The braces have made her a little uncomfortable, so she is staying a little closer to me than usual. I have to say that braces today are way different than when we wore them — you know back in when electricity was invented. Now there are only a few bands around the teeth, and colored rubber bands (that you can switch ever 6 weeks) – it makes me briefly jealous of the experience. Though lets face it — no matter what I wouldn’t want braces on again.

In the evenings, Scott and the kids have been playing tennis while I cook dinner. I know how June Cleaverish that sounds, but I love watching them from the kitchen window as I cook. I started playing tennis last year, but my surgery has put that on hold for a while. Seeing them play gives me the impetus to get back to playing once I am done with treatment.

The Hurricane threatens our plans for the weekend, but it will also give us more family time. Even if it becomes game night, or all of us squeezing together on the couch to watch a movie — I am looking forward to it. I know that the weather has put a kibosh on some of my friends vacation plans and I am truly sorry for them…But I am not upset about the impending storm. I know where my parents will be; I know my brother has landed safely in florida; and most of my friends are will either be home from vacation and/or haven’t left yet. So that takes most of the worrying out of it!

Next week I have chemo again and I am back to being reliant on others to help me care for my family….So, I say “bring on the rain” cause I have a family weekend coming up and it may be one of the last for a while….

Stay Dry and Stay Safe…and keep an eye out for the eye of the storm…But most importantly,

ENJOY TODAY!

Carol

@funnycancermom

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Birthday Wishes


Many of you already know that I am turning 50 on September 18th. so I sent out this email to my entire contact list.

Dear Friend,

I am not trying to be pushy, but I really would love you to be a part of a very significant day in my life. On September 18, 2011 I turn 50; and on September 19th I will get my final chemo therapy treatment that will hopefully irradicate any left over signs/cells/remnants of breast cancer that may have still been left in my body after surgery.

The walk is important because it brings together other Survivors, Family members, and/or friends that have been affected by this disease. And as one community, we walk/run together to put an end to it!!!

I know that I have emailed already, but if you are walking with me I need to know as soon as Monday August 29th…for I am having T-shirts made for our team, and that is the deadline. To do that you MUST sign up online through http://www.komennyc.com, and search for the race page for team THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT. Their is a sign up charge and then you start getting donations by emailing it to all of your friends. If you have any questions please feel free to email me and I can walk you through it.

If you can’t make it to the walk, I hope you will support one of your friends that is walking, or support me by going to my race page and donating. I am shamelessly asking you to donate — make it a Birthday gift to me if you must….

Please log on and join or donate as soon as you can. And if you become a team member — start fundraising as soon as you can.

Thank you for all of your help.

I hope to see you on race day!.

Click here to visit my personal page.
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
http://www.komennyc.org/site/TR?px=1268984&pg=personal&fr_id=1230&et=UBxXw1GoP9jiqbtUmSY95g..&s_tafId=61036

Click here to view the team page for The Cancer Made Me do It
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
http://www.komennyc.org/site/TR?team_id=44251&pg=team&fr_id=1230&et=aAKRY2N-Uax1JxOfVi0J1A..&s_tafId=61036

If you no longer wish to receive email messages sent from your friends on behalf of this organization, please click here or paste this URL into your browser: http://www.komennyc.org/site/TellFriendOpt?action=optout&toe=31c8fd68afe0f5ca6b25114ec2935f95

The response has been unbelievably heart warming. Even those who can’t make the race have found ways to be a part of my team. My friend Kathy (who owns Katherine Winters Salon) is cutting for the cure. On September 9th she is donating her profits to my team. So if anyone wants a haircut – aside from the fact that she is AWESOME at what she does – she is a woman with a gold heart.

You have heard the expression “it takes a village” I live in a great one. Wow what a great feeling — This is going to be the best birthday ever….And you all helped make it great. I am forever grateful and I thank you all. You are the ones who are awesome and who have inspired me…

With great love and respect for you all!

Carol
@funnycancermom

Enjoy today!

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Past, Meet Present


I live in a town that I never visited as a child. Even though it was very close to the town I grew up in. So I found it strange that when I moved here, I have met many people who I knew from different parts of my past. The first time I would run into a person that I knew, the memories came flooding back. I would stand talking to the individual while simultaneously visualizing the last time I saw him/her, the last place I was when I saw him/her, and the circumstances surrounding me at the time I last saw him/her. Now that doesn’t happen the next time we would run into each other, but that first encounter always opened the floodgates.

Tuesday, Scott and I decided to take the kids to Boston for a few days. Through a friend we had gotten Boston Red Sox tickets. Somehow my son has become a Boston fan — though I am not sure how that happened. Anyway, after I got the tickets, we thought we would go and spend a few days there. Seeing the game, walking around Fanuel Hall, seeing the Aquarium, going on the Duck tour…the fun touristy things…which where not the usual things I did when I went to BU. The kids were thrilled – especially when I told them about Anna’s fired Dough. Anna’s fried dough was a Kiosk at Fanuel Hall (back in the 70’s and 80’s) that served fried dough with powdered sugar. REALLY WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THAT! I loved them so. I remember that during my Senior Year, when I had to go to the Hospital for Blood Tests or weekly check-ups, I would swing by and treat myself to one. It was my way of rewarding myself for being a cancer patient; and frankly being 5’10 and only weighing 126 lbs,I figured I could use the weight gain. I am ashamed to admit that my present day “cancer body” is a little jealous of my past “cancer body”. But eating what you want whenever you want to — doesn’t Suck — just sayin’.

Anyway, Tuesday morning we packed up the car and off we went. The kids were in the back enjoying a movie, Scott was in the passenger seat enjoying a snoozy and I was driving and listening to my country tunes. We had been driving for about 2 hours when we hit the Mass. Pike and out of nowhere, I began to cry uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop myself. Thankfully my kids were wearing headphones. My head was spinning with thoughts. I realized I hadn’t been back to Boston since college. I left in 1983 – Cancer Free! And yet here I am returning No longer Cancer free. It was as if I was meeting an old friend and the memories came flooding back. At first I couldn’t figure out what brought the tears on and then I saw a Billboard like sign (one that I had seen a few miles back when the crying started). It was the sign for Tufts Medical Center – the place I was treated, the place I went every day for 60 days. A place that I credit for saving my life, and for also bringing me back full circle.

I regained my composure in a few moments, but it was a real watershed moment. When we got to the Hotel I told Scott all about it, and he sweetly told me I should have woken him up. But this was one of those private moments I needed to face and deal with on my own. These were emotions hidden so deep, that they even shocked me as they appeared. I needed to face my past, by concentrating on my present. So I put the past away and looked in my rear view mirror to see my present and future still enjoying their movie in the back seat; I deal with my life the only way I know how…I enjoy what I have — and that what I have is a life filled with people I love.

I am positive about one thing though, the next time I come back to Boston, my memory will not be about cancer, but rather about the great 3 days we had as a family, and the amazing Red Sox Triple Play we saw at Fenway.

I know where I have been and I know where I am going…and I hope that my future leaves all of my cancer memories in the past.

Enjoy today

Carol
@funnycancermom

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LIVING OUT LOUD


A friend once used the expression “Living Out Loud” and I really felt it such an amazing phrase to explain how our children socialize these days — between facebook, twitter, myspace, etc; that I have sort of adopted this expression, and use it to describe how I want to (or don’t want to) live my life — and hopefully teach the same lesson to my children. We are a society that seeks approval or connection by blurting out our must mundane and routine activities to a computer or mobile device. This inanimate object then distributes that information to a plethora of people. (and yesterday I found out that if you are a Snooki – you are talking to about 1.2 million people – EGADS) I admit that my blog is definitely a product of a “living out loud” world; I do hope I don’t ever get to the point of telling you all when I need to get up to use the bathroom. And while my intentions are to “emote” they are also to reach others that face what I face and have turned inward (others who find it easier “living in silence” which I don’t think is any better). I hope to show these individuals that even something bad can be can have a shiny lining – admittedly maybe not a silver one – but shiny non the less. So when is it that we have become unable to adjust the volume of our lives? Can it there be a happy medium between out loud and silent?

Yesterday I had lunch with 2 friends and we talk about just that. As our children are about to come home from camp we talked about what we want our kids to do “differently” this year. And how we want to package that bundle of expectations we, as parents, have for them. I got to thinking about the way my parents dealt with setting expectations. Oh now I remember, the set them and stuck to them, and they were non-negotiable. And I knew it. I am not trying to say that I didn’t try to avoid doing what I should, or get away with doing something I shouldn’t (because I did – and often). And though I constantly screamed “your so unfair — all the other parents let their kids do this, or let their kids go here, or whatever the situation was” — truth be told their standing firm, their unflappable stance undoubtably drew the line between right and wrong/fair and unfair and was a security net for me. Since it seems to be true that hindsight is 20/20, I am able to see the wisdom of their approach. I think I learned to see things from both sides and understand that sometimes the less popular answer is still the right answer. It is true, I want my children to love me, and to like me — but I think my parents perspective has taught me that I have to be okay with the fact that they may not always do both at the same time — especially not in the teen years. But when they get older they will do both equally — and I will let them know how great that is — silently and out loud.

So, tomorrow my children come back home — and I plan to read them my summer blogs.. I hope that they will not find them to preachy or to sermony…but just me telling my stories out loud to those that want to listen! I hope they will see how I am able to laugh at even my own “schtick” – cause we all got some. And, yes I want them to know that Cancer is not a joke. But if you set your expectations for the experience, well you can be surprised at what happens. Face it–what good would it do to scream “I HAVE CANCER DAMN IT” Everyone has their own problems — I know because it’s written all over Facebook.”

I just think (or I hope) that if I set the right volume for my life these days — my family can be proud of my what I am doing, accepting of my openness, and most importantly, able to hear my voice and maybe even learn something from it!

Have a great day and Enjoy!

Carol A.

@funnycancermom

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FRIENDS, FRIENDS, FRIENDS



On Monday I go for treatment number 6. Which means I only have 2 left after this one. I can’t believe it. My friend Amy is taking me — she actually took a day off from work to do that. I can’t tell you how lovely that is. My friends have been so great. I know I have talked about how much they have done for me through this and when my mom was sick…let’s face it — they have just always been there. My mom is my rock and always will be, but I am blessed to have so much more.

Last night I had dinner with 5 AMAZING HUMAN BEINGS (yes one is my husband). These other 4 are undefinable by words; the problem is that the word “Friends” doesn’t do them justice – they are more than that — they are heroes to me. (So maybe I should call them my Frioes or my Heriends) Anyway, they are part of a core group of individuals who I feel pump the life into me – even when they are not around me. We can laugh and talk about anything. We can share every part of our lives with each other and know that their is “unconditional support, understanding, empathy, joy, laughter, and/or silliness…what ever is needed – (whether Emily Post thinks it is apprpriate or not)!” The feeling of security that brings is unmatched. And it helps me to get through every part of this “glitch” in my life.

Friends are a celebrated part of life. Think of all the incredible songs that are devoted to them.

James Taylor YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND
Andrew Gold — THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND
Bill Withers LEAN ON ME
Dionne Warwick THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR
Bette Middler THE WINGS BENEATH MY WINGS
Bette Middler YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE FRIENDS
The Pretenders I’LL STAND BY YOU

And these are just to name a few.

Often I find myself wondering “How the hell have I gotten so lucky as to have such amazing people in my life.” Cancer has tried to beat me down twice — and I haven’t allowed it. Not that there is ever a good time to get cancer, but each time I have gotten it, it has has been during times when either my body and/or my spirit were pretty low. And still the disease has not gotten the better of me — Why? I am neither rich, nor powerful (by “americana standards”). I am neither famous, nor infamous (by any standards). I realized that the power I have is an unshakeable and amazing support system.

And as I laughed, and eat and enjoyed last night, I realized that life doesn’t get any better than this…Cancer or not I am blessed with what I got…So “Cancer” BEAT THAT!

Enjoy Today!
Carol

@funnycancermom

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Keeping Up Appearances


It is not that I am heavy, but for me I am 20 Lbs. heavier than I was 2 years ago. And I have gained quite a bit of my weight during chemo. Over the last 30 yrs I have made goal weight on Weight Watchers 5 times. (So YES that means I have gained a lot of weight 6 times). With each weight gain, I set a weight loss goal – which honestly gets higher each go around. But I do reach goal, so I have become a “Life time” member at Weight Watchers (an achievement you seek as a WW member). Of course the goal is to reach it once and never have to do it again. The over achiever that I am seeks to to collect Life time achievement award for reach “Lifetime membership status” the most; right now I have reached it enough times to secure status for my Granddaughters daughters generation. I am not sure this is the intended purpose for the philosophy of “paying it forward” — but I have never followed the norm.

See why I am so upset is the Dr.’s told me I would gain weight; so I in all honesty I could have tailored my food intake to offset it. But ever since chemo started I have enjoyed a new fascination for sweets. I haven’t met a pint of “Half Baked” Ice Cream that wasn’t specifically earmarked for me. It is like those grocery stores know that I am coming and steer me right for that pint with my name on it. We really it has Ben and Jerry’s name on it but that is just a matter of semantics — “Ben and Jerry’s” and Carol sound very similar.

The problem is, the next morning (after I have consumed the entire pint myself) I stand in my closet getting dressed to go out and face the world with a smile; my objective being to show everyone that this “life with Cancer” can’t bring me down — Keep up the appearance that life is good. And frankly, until I pull up or on those jean shorts or leggings life really is okay.

Now I like a good muffin top toasted for breakfast – but when I am standing staring at the worlds largest human muffin top in my mirror…I lose my smile almost instantaneously — and the largest sigh of disgust escapes my subconscious and is heard through out the house.

And my poor husband has to put up with my moaning for the next 20 minutes. I run around screaming “on my goodness how can I let myself go like this; how can I not control myself; this is disgusting how can you want to be seen with me!” The horror on his face is obvious! Immediately I think he is also horrified by my weight gain — but I know that is not true. The real horror is from not knowing how to answer any of these statements I have just thrown at him. He is trying to dodge the bullet — you know the “Honey do I look fat in this dress” bullet. Only for Scott I am holding an automatic rifle — the bullets just keep coming and he doesn’t know how to answer any one of them. And let’s face it — anything he says will be wrong, and he knows it. It is a true no win situation. Honestly, I give him points for even trying.

After going through every bit of clothing I finally settle on an a line dress that covers everything up. I walk downstairs and my husband puts his arms around me and tells me I look beautiful. Okay he really is a keeper. And then I try to reflect on my mornings anxiety attack. I mean I really do feel fine most of the time, and I am heading into the home stretch of chemo. I know the treatments are cumulative so it is going (and has gotten) a little harder to be “UP” all the time. But I it does make me feel better to ‘put on a happy face’; and I think it has helped me all along.

So I will continue to “keep up the appearance” of always being happy — but know that pretty much every morning I go through this routine. And, luckily for Scott weekday mornings he off to work way before this process starts — it is only weekends he has to deal.

And know that soon I will be once again heading off to my Weight Watcher meetings to yet again seek the “lifetime Member Status”. But that’s life — and honestly, I am happy to be living it!

Muffin Tops to

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Roller Coasters


Ever since I was a child, I have always hated roller coasters. The unsettling up and down motion, the side to side jostling. All motions happening simultaneously – which makes me feel totally and utterly out of control. Needless to say, this is a feeling I am not comfortable with.

But if you ever wanted to know what having cancer is like — this is the closest thing. You are never balanced, or on sure footing. One day is good and the next day, well, not so good. Equilibrium becomes a thing of the past.

When I did the double dosing and got so sick I have been silently concerned that I have really destroyed some vital functions – my liver….who knew this could possibly be a side affect. I am a side affect individual…I get side affects listed – after that is how I got Breast cancer. It was a side affect of the radiation treatment I had when I had cancer earlier in life. So I should have paid more attention to the other side affects.

After the double dosing they did some blood tests to reveal that my functions were not what they should be, but hoped it was a temporary glitch — (which I still believe it probably is). So to double check they had me do follow up tests. Which I did yesterday. The good news is that a lot of the tests came back in the normal range, but a few still seem to be off. So I must head back today for a shot of a drup called Nupagin. It will help boost my immune system. It seems my white blood cell counts are very low so I am at risk of infection.

All in all not terrible, but still I feel I am being thrown up and down and side to side — just like roller coasters and I hate it. But there is an up side – at least I don’t want to throw up! So that is a positive!

In case you don’t know, I have decided to start a foundation titled THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT1 (Gee I wonder where I got the idea for the name?) Which will be a fundraising organization with the purpose of raising and redistributing funds to 6 charities. It is a venture of love and a project that keeps me grounded. Having a sense of purpose keeps me “stable” and my equilibrium in tact – which is in great contrast to all this other stuff.

I will being talking about this much more in the future.

Enjoy and stay on solid ground!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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HEAT


We have had record temperatures for the las few days, and it got me to think about the heat.

We have heard about heat indexes and actual heat versus “feels Like” heat, heat stroke, heat related illnesses, record heat, and scorching heat…

Heat is funny because when you have it (or rather to much of it) it you want it less, and when you don’t have it you want it more.

During the winter you seek the heat while simultaneously wishing summer would arrive quick.

During a summer heat wave you wish the heat would break, while simultaneously wishing for the cooler temps of a beautiful fall day.

If you are a Pitcher all you want to do is bring the heat, and strike the batter out.

And if you are a Miami resident the Heat can be a blessing and a curse – depending on whether you are talking climate or sports.

If you are a criminal you have to avoid the Heat;

And if you want to stand up for a mistake that you may have made you have to take the heat!

If you in back, neck, or knee pain you seek a pad of heat,

and to bring life back to a frozen Lasagna you need to re-Heat.

People who live in Arizona don’t mind it because they say it is “dry-heat”

But my treatments haven’t been so nice lately, and I feel like I am running a dead heat to beat the side affects, and not always winning. The fevers and chill this week weren’t the greatest, but just like all good things – even a heat wave, it comes to an end, and this morning I woke up felling like myself again!

So like most of us I am staying inside — I am just trying to beat the heat.

And may cooler heads prevail.

Stay cool and enjoy

Carol

@funnycancermom

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KEEP IT MOVIN’


Please forgive my absence for the last several days. The duties of motherhood superseded my life as a cancer patient. And frankly it was a great diversion; especially after the awful week I had prior due to the double dosing. And as I had said, I did that so I could be full strength when my family was back together in August. Right reasons, wrong decision, and we are moving on.

Having to go and do for the kids this week was great. Visiting day was yesterday, and I wanted to get all the things they wanted (or really I wanted to bring them) – so, it gave me a reason to get back on task. So I decided it was time to get my schedule back to the way it used to be. Back before “Chemo” was part of my daily life. So Monday morning I went back to Pilates. It used to be part of my weekly routine. It was awesome. Being stretched and pulled in ways you don’t really think are “anatomically” possible has true restorative powers: Even if my muscle’s seem to wobble for a few days after. That one act of ambition, lead to many more. I walked on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Friday; and even went back for another pilates session on Friday.

All that excercise had “steroid like powers”. After a week of feeling good and exercising I truly felt energized. Friday I basically left my house at 8:30 and didn’t get home until 6. Then friday night I went out for dinner with friends. And I still had energy. Saturday morning Scott and I got up at 5:30 (yes a.m.) drove 2 1/2 hrs to camp; where we spent the day doing activities with the kids (I admit I watched a lot more than I participated), and in the afternoon all 4 of us went swimming in the lake. And just as a side note, for me it is a lot easier to be seen in a bathing suit in front of people I don’t know, cause I won’t see them till next year and they may not remember that I was the white whale in the cheetah print (sublety is my speicatly) bathing suit in the water. After we said our good bye’s we drove home changed and went out to a party. And I still feel like I had energy. I can honestly say, I am a little tired today, but I think after a few days of running like I had — even a “non-chemo using” 49 year old adult would be tired.

So it got me to thinking – maybe exercise is good for the mind as well as the body! HMMMMMMM! It is a concept, and one I will take under advisement. It is not that I want to be rash and exercise every day — but this can truly be the start of something great — and maybe even take off some of this chemo weight. I just want to lose a pound, OK, maybe eight. Oy did that additional drug cause a glitch in my mind — I seem to want to rhyme. Oh, I will worry about that another time.

I’m back and happy to be so!

Enjoy the day!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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The wish you want can be the one you don’t!


This week I learned that “Getting what you want” is not the same as “Wanting what you get.” I was so hard pressed to move up this one treatment to a two week “dose-dense” treatment, I never really thought it all through. I wanted to move them closer together for a few reasons.

First, my husband is taking a week off when the kids arrive home from camp. I was thinking that if I had chemo that week, it wouldn’t be much fun for the family. I think that it would be nice to have everyone home and happy and energetic..so that we could be a “normal family” for a week.

Secondly, I thought it would be sad for the kids to get off the bus, and wee me the next day all yucky from chemo. MY intentions were all solid.

And the final (and, yes, selfish reason) was that it would move up my FINAL treatment to the day after my 50th Birthday. What a great Birthday gift for me it would be.

Now that I have done it, I am not certain I really thought all of this through. It will be great to be all together the first week, but the week after I have chemo and no back up. The kids are not in school, and many friends will be away – so they will spend the week inside and bored. They will get to see me “sick” first hand. Not that they haven’t seen me up until this point, but this is just 24/7 of me not great…and I didn’t want that. I have enjoyed “Supermom” status up until now. I am working on a solution this problem though.

Moving up the chemo 1 week also overlaps with my husbands birthday. And while that may seem okay, he really has been so great that I think he deserves a night to celebrate him and all he has done for me. But I kind of messed that up as well. He isn’t upset about it, I am.

And lastly, and the biggest issue I face today (and the last 2 days) is this course of treatment has really made me feel pretty weak and gross. I have gone through this whole thing feeling relatively okay, and because of a desire to finish “a little” earlier — I have lost a little of my “swagger” so to speak.

None of this is awful, or debilitating, but I am definitely not myself. I am neither happy nor sad; I am not bubbly or blue; and I am not spunky nor sick…I am feel achy and abnormal. I am just BLAH! Not a word I would ever really describe myself as. I am sure that I will bounce back in a day or two…but, admittedly, I wish I would have just left well enough alone.

During this whole time I have never wished for not “being sick”…because I am and what would the point be. I have not regretted the decisions or the path I have taken with my illness. And I most certainly don’t take any of the moments with friends and family for granted. I cherish each and every one. This illness has motivated me in ways I could not have ever imagined…and I am so thankful for that. So I got a little greedy in a way. I wanted my chemo and my wine too — and I have learned that I can’t “always” have both – just because I want to. So I will not up my treatment again. This is a one shot deal, and I have learned much from it.

So I guess the old saying is true “Be careful what you wish for. Because it just may come true – but not the way you think!”

Enjoy today.

Carol
@funnycancermom

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HALF


Half off is a great sale!

Half baked cookies are awesome, because they are fresh and gooey!

The Better Half — Well that would be me of course!

Half Moon — and awesome view on a clear night!

Half a mind — well yes that describes me now!

Half the time — Finishing anything quicker than it should is usually great!

Half a pound — If I gained it — it is still better than gaining a full pound, and if I lost it I never want it back!

Half and Half — The best of both worlds in coffee, and In England (pronounce olf and olf) an awesome drink — 1/2 Beer and 1/2 Lemonade….Tastes great less filling so to speak!

HalfDozen – So many ways 6 is great. 6 Oysters, 6 pack of abs, 6 one way – Half a dozen the other.

So many ways to spin it, but tomorrow I go for treatment number 4 — which means I am HALF WAY TO THE FINISH LINE!. Half way home, Half way done! The next best thing to being done!

And I am not half hearted about this News — I am overjoyed. And that is not the halfof it!

enjoy today!
Happy July 4th to all!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Re-Tell Therapy


As is obvious from my posts, I AM A TALKER. A trait that can sometimes (okay often) drive my family crazy. I like to talk out and talk about all situations, because the more I talk about it, the more alternate viewpoints become clearer. I admit that I can over talk about an event as well, but that is me…”take it or leave it”. I also talk the situations over with my friends — re-tell the story if you will. Now, some people re-tell situations to “correct the spin” on it: you know to try to improve upon the “why I am right” scenario. That is not to say they are lying, it is just that they have their own belief’s on why a “situation” played out the way it did. I re-tell situations so that I can learn from them. And yes, there are times that I still feel that my answer (reaction) was the correct one; but not without exhausting every other perspective. My friends are very helpful with this. I use them as a sounding board. I tell them what happened; or what I saw; or my opinion of an interaction between to other individuals. In return, they give me wise and unbiased opinions as to whether I responded correctly, or I read the situation correctly, or even if I should (or shouldn’t) have intervened. And when I do this, I find that even my friends varied viewpoints, I get a greater understanding of the events that occurred, why I ‘read” the events a certain way, and if my response was handled correctly or not. So by re-telling an event, I get the whole picture…and from that I am able to make my next move.

In fairness to my husband, I admit that this procedure can cause me to misread or over analyze things (only sometimes). It happens less than he is willing to admit. But it does happen. As an example, this is my children’s 3rd summer at sleep away camp. As many know, camps post pictures nightly so you can get a brief glimpse of your child’s day. The first summer, another mother told me how to “analyze the pictures”. Absolutely an absurd thing to do, by the way…but, of course, the idea was in my head — every once in a while I would succumb to the idea. Ridiculous suggestions like; if “she/he is in the middle of the group shot they are happy – and if they are on the outside they are not.” “If she/he has their arm around someone, but the other doesn’t have their arm around him or her it is a forced picture.” ABSOLUTE BOLOGNA!!!! And I listened to it – the first summer anyway. But when the kids came home I showed them some of the pictures, and asked what was going on…the kids painted much different scenario’s. Proof that this idea of analyzing doesn’t work.

Even knowing that this analyzing pictures is wrong, this week I found myself doing it again. But this time my fears/analyzing are based strictly on my own neuroses. My children have handled my illness with the grace and maturity of well adjusted adults — not 11 year old kids. And I am so very proud of them. The fact that they have dealt with so much “death and illness” in their short lives consistently brings tears to my eyes. But on the reverse side, they have learned so much from it all; and these experiences have helped to shape their tremendously warm hearted , sensitive, and wonderful personalities. So there has been a positive outcome to it as well. But I worry that their strong shell may crack, so when I don’t see them in pictures, or in the groups my thoughts begin to shoot off in tangents. And then I begin to use my re-tell therapy strategies to come back to center.

First I tell my husband my thoughts. And like any good husband he just tells me, “I am being crazy.” I love that about men — right to the heart of the matter they are. Then my friends – who each tell me in their own ways. “that I am probably just a little over sensitive this year — and make lite-hearted jokes that the kids have left camp for a much needed vacation. One even suggested they are not in the pictures, because they are the new camp photographer. By the time I have re-told the story for the 5th time (yes that includes my husband), I realize how ridiculous I sound…and I am back to realizing that these pictures are just a snippet of their day — and to just enjoy seeing them.

Ok well now that I am done with that re-tell therapy….maybe I should try the other Retail Therapy. Shopping is good for the “sole” they say — shoes anyone?

Have a great day and ENJOY!

Carol
@funnycancermom
and at
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