Category Archives: motherhood

I have my reasons!


My friend Audrey called me today, to say hi and check in. During the conversation she asked me if I was going to write a book. I told her I had my reservations about doing so – and gave her a few reasons. She said it would be great if I could share my story with others, because she found it so inspiring. I am not bragging, but I have heard this before. But every time I hear it I have the same reaction. Discomfort, awkwardness, and utter confusion.

I assure you, I am neither humble, nor self-sacrificial… I just don’t get it! Inspirational, why? Admirable, really? I have had cancer…twice? Not so admirable, believe me! If I was given the option, I would wish to “not have a reason to write a blog!”.so not so inspirational. What I do have is the desire to make it easier for someone else, after me. That is a maternal thing I believe. Didn’t your mother always say “If I knew then what I know now…” (Yeah, I know I hated when she said it too); but she was right, and that is all I am trying to do. Give someone in the future a little hindsight into my past!

Some of my Dr.’s have had patients call me to talk, and some friends have passed along my blog to friends, or have asked me to speak with a friend or relative. I am an open book. I don’t do it for admiration, or for adulation…I do it because I know how scary it is. I know what it is like to be young and diagnosed…I know what it is like to be old (older) and diagnosed. I have had full body radiation, and chemotherapy. I have had internal and external organs removed, (and yet I still gain weight! Go figure). I have definitely earned my credentials as an expert patient!

So for right now, no book! I would be happier if no one needed to seek this kind of information, the “cures” are still a ways off. In the mean time, I am here…to give you advice, or just to listen, to tell you a funny story, or an embarrassing one (of which I have many). I am who I am – and that is all I want to be – for now anyway!

Enjoy the day!

Carol

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Tomorrow


Since Saturday I have had a stomach bug, a colonoscopy, my son got the stomach bug and I lost my voice…and yet I am certain tomorrow will be a better day…

Come to think of it, my last five years have been pretty much like the last week, and I still believe that tomorrow will be bright…go figure! Today I realized that the holiday season hasn’t been particularly good to my family or friends over the past 5 years, and yet I still believe that tomorrow will be a better day….

I was talking with someone this morning and my friend Sharon came up. Sharon was a glowing, beautiful woman who was truly happiest outside in her garden, on a beautiful day, toiling the soil, playing with her dog, and chit chatting with her family, her husband (her true soul mate- Steven) her friends and our kids. She always said a perfect life would be owning a flower shop and bringing her dog to work everyday. Nothing ever really dampened her joyous, sparkling, warming and loving personality…That is until the cancer did almost 5 New Years Eve’s ago. Our circle was devastated – and my children even more so, for they had lost a true “angel” in their life. So with every ounce of strength I could muster for my children and my husband, for Sharon’s husband and children, I picked myself up and once again believed that tomorrow will be a better day….

Steven, a therapist, had truly lost his partner. I love my husband and I know some unbelievably wonderful couples — but these two were in a class of their own. They were truly each others better half. Steven’s sense of humor began to come back about 6 months after her death. Little drips and bits would emerge. My husband was overjoyed, because even though he has lots of friends, he had no one as close to him as Steven. Steven became the 5th member of our family. Not a meal was eaten without him seating in his seat next to my daughter. His daughter, Lauren, also got to join in in whenever she wanted. Once again, we were a happy crew. We were back to our regular crew dinners with Wendy and Doug and the boys…so light once again began stream through…that is until cancer took Steven Almost 3 January’s ago.

SHARON

STEVIE


And once again, I thought my children and my husband must believe that happiness is always possible (pretty much because I believe it to be true), so I strapped that smile on and went about the business of helping them get through it all. Laughter, happiness and joy had returned to my kids, and my husband (thought he still struggles with that from time to time). I would often wonder where I got this attitude from…and that would be my mother. She always believed in a brighter outcome. Especially in October of 2010 when she went to the dentist for, what she thought was and absess in her tooth. That day, a long one, yielded us with the diagnosis of Mouth Cancer. And on December 13th, 2010 she underwent surgery to remove a small portion of her jaw and right hard palate. But as luck with have it…having 2 people with positive attitudes is double the boost…and with nary a complaint or bad day we finished out another holiday season believing that tomorrow will be a better day…

All of you know my story…Since I was diagnosed on Valentines day 2012, I consider this year a good one. My Mom and myself enter the 2011 Holiday season healthy and happy. Happy because I refuse to think of it any other way. Steven and Sharon would be annoyed at me for being any other way. My children would not benefit from me being any other way, and my husband would not want me to be any other way.

I realized I started thinking about all of this stuff today because, as I nurse my voice back to health, I prepare to be a guest on Paul Fiener’s radio show tomorrow (12/9/2012 FROM 10 A.M. TO 10:30) on WVOX – 1460 on your AM dial (or streamed live on your computer at http://www.WVOX.com). And I realized what it is I wanted to talk about…because even though I was invited to talk about my blog and it’s future. …As we enter the Holiday season again, I just want everyone to know that TOMORROW WILL BE A BETTER DAY!!!

ENJOY AND LISTEN IF YOU CAN!

All the best,

Carol

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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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Lost In Translation!


As a child I was taught the 3 R’s – Readin’, Ritin’ and Rithmatic. Notice there is no E for english. After I left college, and entered the business world, I discovered that all of these subjects (as it were) have subsections. You know, like Business English, Retail Math, Legal Jargon, Scientific Math, Medical English….It all comes down to the fact that when it comes to words you have learned, you have to figure out which subsection the “appropriate” translation to use.

While I was in the garment business I learned that $2 plus $2 = $-5 (if you are the wholesaler) and +$10 if you are the retailer. I know it is very difficult to wrap your head around this equation — but it is absolutely true. Retail math just means ‘take a whole bunch of numbers and make sure the wholesaler pays the retailer more money than the retailer pays the wholesaler.’

Legal Jargon is another form of english, but with a lot of “here to fore’s”, “Forth with’s” and “parties” thrown in. That is just to confuse the party in first part from knowing what the party in the second part is talking about.

And then their is medical english — by which a simple problem becomes an “Itis or an “Osis.” Or a commercial for an acne drug that lists 87 side affects or conditions that could occur. I have gotten good at translating terms. Trying to translate these languages into other terms I understand got me thinking about other language subsections I have had to learn. Obviously there is a whole chemo language — “dose-dense” and CMF, and protocols, and the list can go on. But what about my day to day life. Do I need to translate things in my regular “mommy” life. And then I remembered the postcard I recently got from my son.

Camp is great and the kids are having a good time, but sometimes the counselors make them stop what they are doing and write a letter home. A silly concept, but one that is done at most camps. Matt is not always the best eater. He is pretty much a starch and sugar kind of kid; Though you would not know it from his 95 lb – 5’2′ frame. Anyway I figured eating would be a sporadic thing at camp. Matt also is not the best writer, so making him write a letter quickly you are not going to receive a literary masterpiece of any kind…as long as some english is involved, it is okay; because I have learned to translate his language as well.

Our 1st letter from Camp this year read:

Dear Parents, (showing his obvious attachment to us as individuals)
Camp is great. The food I can barly eat.

Love Matt

I was overjoyed…He tried Barley….of course not, he didn’t like the food. I get it….

Then I remembered his first letter last summer. One I must frame for later in life. summer at camp. It is where I realized Iam a gifted translater. This is, and will remain, my favorite letter from camp.

Dear Mom and Bad (yes he meant DAD):

I am here and the Wheater is God.

Love Matt.

I smiled because I thought what a great letter. Later that night, when my husband got home from work, I showed him the letter. I was so happy about it. He read it and then spent about 20 minutes just contemplating the meaning…he was trying to figure it out. What could he be talking about….REALLY? I thought it is a great note. Scott was just perplexed by my enjoyment of the letter. “What is he talking about?” he asked. REALLY?

It obvioulsy says “The weather is good.” So now I use the wheater is god! as a standard response to things — and yes it is an inside joke to me. But we now have a new subsection language to add to the list of all the others — and is called “Camp Language.” Which frankly I find funny and enjoyable and in the realm of things — not so scary.

Enjoy and I hope the Wheater is God by you!

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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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
http://www.riverjournalonline.com

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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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It’s My Treat! (Ment)


Me and my IV pole - I call him Henry

Today was treatment number 3! Yeah! I am almost halfway done. Wow where does the time go, it was just yesterday I wasn’t even scheduled for Chemo…Good Times! Good Times!..

Seriously though, I don’t think I have walked you through my treatments, and today is as good a day as any. I usually arrive at around 9 a.m. So far my friends Elaine, Meredith, Julie and my Mom have been my companions. I try to warn them before hand that they may see things that aren’t the happiest or easiest to take…But really the worst they have seen so far isn’t the patients, it is the fat hanging over the top of my jeans. And while you may not think that so bad — trust me I am often reduced to tears when seeing my own horror of blubber, so could you imagine how bad it is if it isn’t your own muffin top! Yikes.

I am usually greeted first by my nurse Nancy. She is a beautiful and funny woman. With a smile that really lights up any room. Her red hair and blue eyes make me believe that she has an Irish or Scottish background. The fact that she can sometimes speak with this sweet rhythmic Brogue – could also suggest that. But her humor always puts me immediately at ease. Even though it is her job to put me on a scale every time I am there. After the blood pressure and a few questions my Dr. comes in — Also a Nancy — coincidence…I think Not.

Dr. Nancy is a far more demure person by appearance; which is deceiving, because she too has a great sense of humor. She asks me questions about my last few weeks, does a few blood tests, answers any questions I have, re-states some rules (ones that I know but she so rightly knows I am ignoring), and sends me off for treatment. Like any regular Dr.’s appointment so far.

When I go upstairs to the treatment room, first you walk into a reception area to check in. It gives the nurses time to put in my cocktail order. And no I don’t mean my Cosmo. Though, wouldn’t that take the edge off. They mix up my drugs as I arrive, so everything is fresh. It is like a farmers market for chemicals in a way. Anyway, while we wait we get to watch this tropical fish tank. Filled with 3 fish and a big reef. Goldy – the big puffer fish, was being tortured today by a little blue “Dory” fish, and a Nemo. Meredith, Elaine and decided to speak (and use accents) that depict how we think the fish would sound (of course if they could talk) This activity kept us quite amused for the 10 minutes we waited. I even got a picture of Goldy, the bullied fish, and his attacker.

Goly (the big one) and the Bully

After our wait was over we entered the treatment room. I was lucky to secure the same spot. It is a corner chair with a lovely view of the Hudson River. The room itself, in decoration, temperature, and vibe, is cold. That is definitely something they should work on! Not that it needs to feel like a party room, but it should be a little warmer in feel anyway — more inviting. Cause frankly no one is coming there unless asked to —

After I sit, the nurse brings over my 1st infusion and pills to get me started. In all honesty, putting the IV in and taking it out is the worst part for me. It seems so trivial but it is these two acts that bother me the most. Luckily Henry, my IV pole, is with me every step of the way…even if I have to go to the bathroom. He can be a little smothering at times, never leaves me alone :). After the IV is in it is really a cake walk. I get chilly, but they supply me with heated blankets. I feel every home should be equipped with a blanket warmer — the moment a warm blanket is draped on me, I forget everything for a few moments! And that isn’t the chemo talking.

The first drip is just to hydrate me, and I will say that I feel a little lift from it. After about 1/2 hour they push in 2 different medicines into the IV. First the Methotrexate – which I don’t even notice. The second is Fluorouacil (or 5FU). The F.U. part is appropriate. While they push this into the IV I get the weirdest sensation – pins and needles in my nose, over my eyebrows and on top of my head. Kind of like a Wasabi headache. Then the final drug is a 30 minute drip. This is cyclophosphamide. Also rather inert as far as side affects go. Then the hydration continues for 30 more minutes and I am good to go.

I definitely get a little tired for a few hours, but the steroids that I took, when I first get in the chair, begin to kick in. They won’t wear off for a few days so I will skate along until then. I am presently packing my kids for sleep away camp, and that is way more torture than the Chemo. The packing that is, not the sending them to camp. The bags leave Saturday, so I need to get a move on. Frankly the steroids have me hyper enough that I may work through the night.

Timing is everything! And with only 5 times left to go, who knows what I can accomplish next time!

Talk to you soon

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Winning the Lottery!


I saw this commercial this morning and it reminded me of an email Scott and I got Sunday evening from the NY STate Lottery. It said that we had won a prize. An email I thought, could we must have won the big prize. All of a sudden my mind was a flutter with the possibilities. See I have a lottery subscription. Years ago I picked numbers and they are played weekly, and I pay for this service up front. This way I never have to remember to buy a ticket (and now that my memory is severely flaky, this is a good thing to have). Honestly, I very rarely win anything, so when I got the email I was a little skeptical. I know, if I do’t win, why do I play? Ya gotta be in it to win it!

I went on to the NY Lottery website and started seeing the numbers meant anything to me. My birthday, The kids birthday, Our anniversary, something. Nothing! Was it one of the quick pick numbers I picked. I began to search the house for where I put that piece of paper wit the numbers on it. That was an exercise in futility. I hid that paper 5 yrs ago. If I still have it it is lost in somewhere in the ordered chaos I call home! Scott and I started thinking about what we probably won. We probably won $5,000 or maybe even $10,000. Not the biggest prize, but maybe one of the these. It isn’t unheard of — my brother won $5,000 once, and we even know someone who won the Publishers Clearing House (they won it in the 80’s before we knew them). So maybe it is our turn.

Anyway, I couldn’t find the numbers, so scott and I were going to have to wait until the following morning. He called me when he got to work in the morning just to remind me to call (proof that my really isn’t at full capacity — cause Scott, on a good day, doesn’t have the memory that I used to have). I waited till 8:30 and called. I spoke to a lovely woman name Amy. I explained why I was calling, and gave her my full name and other identification, to verify who I was. She put me on hold for what seemed to be 5 minutes, but was just a few seconds.

“Mrs. Abramson” she said “I am happy to tell you that you have won $1.00, and that we will be crediting your account.” “1 Dollar”, I said “why would you notify me for $1?” “It is our new policy to notify subscription holders with any win at all.” What a let down, I thought. Now if I see an email from them I will think “Big whoop, I only won $1.”

Being rich must be fun. I am sure it has it’s down sides, but I can’t put my finger on what that would be. And of course then I thought…
I know that I say this in different ways through out all of my blogs, but I know I already won the lottery. Soon I will be “fully” healthy again, I have the greatest family and friends anyone could ever ask for or wish for, and all of you who follow my blog have been so supportive; and for that I am truly blessed. So that makes me a winner all the time — but their ain’t nothin’ wrong with cash either!

Below is the other new commercial from this company — admittedly I don’t really know what the product is, I jsut think the commercials are really funny about thinking your rich!” So I hope you all enjoy them — Good for a mid morning giggle.

Laugh a little with me today.

Carol
@funnycancermom

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I Want My MTV (or Cable TV)


Okay Bureaucracy frustrates me. I think even more so now than ever before. I mean no one likes empty, vapid answers, or talking to someone called Jim (whose name really isn’t Jim, and is probably answering the call from a room in India). Since May 12th, my Optimum Cable service has been unbelievably bad. And this is really a generous description of the service. Each TV screen freezes, and pixelates (Optimum’s word). Every time I call I have to go over the same exact story…again, and again, and again and again! It makes me want to rip the hair out of my head — oh wait, I don’t have any hair to do that with. Okay then I want to rip the hair out of the operator’s head…

Every operator tells me they must send a technician to my home. “Why?” I ask. “Because that is standard procedure.” says the Optimum operator. “Every time for the past 3 weeks I wait for a service man to come. He does, and then he tells me that the problem is outside the house and not inside the house. So do I really have to wait for the same serviceman to come back and tell me the same thing over again. Can’t you just send technicians to the outside of the house to fix the problem?” I say. (meanwhile thinking why can’t the guys that fix the inside lines, fix the outside lines as well?) “Yes, Ma’am!” Kevin the operator says (see now we are on a first name basis.) “We must follow protocol.” Kevin said. (I hoped Kevin was feeling my frustration — I could sense he was about to open up to me — give me his last name and a direct dial phone number. Then I would really believe I was getting somewhere and progress was being made). But, alas, first name, last initial and an operator ID number is all I got). The feeling of success had slipped through my fingers. I was just another customer, with the same old problem.

I was annoyed. This cable thing was becoming a real problem for me. Why? Well a few reasons. First, my husband was watching the NBA finals game 4…Dallas vs. Miami… My husband played college ball, and these games are like air to him. He needs to see them. (Mainly because he desperately wants to see Miami loose). So the pixilations on the screen is making him irritable and down right pissy. I can’t have that because, frankly, I get first dibs on being irritable and pissy.

The second reason is that I am packing my kids for camp; and the mind-numbly boring and mundane activity of labeling socks and underwear can only be lessened, somewhat, by watching HSN or Cake Boss on TV. And last but not least, I have called cable (and have had them here) 4 times already. If they don’t know how to fix it then don’t come — find someone that can fix it — what exactly do I pay the cable for? Especially since 2 or 3x a year they remove stations from their line up because cable feels the stations aren’t playing fair…oh Boo Hoo!

If I followed along that train of thought, I would walk around bitching and moaning that I have cancer; and wonder why the Dr.’s couldn’t just fix me the first time so I didn’t get it again. Or why the Dr.’s can’t just cure me with the first chemo treatment- instead of having to go 8 times. Why can’t they find something to cure the side affects from treatment instead having me call when a symptom arises. Why if my “situation” isn’t a “typical scenario”, do the Dr.’s feel in necessary to treat me “by the book”. No path of this disease for me has been by the book, and yet I am still going through the typical protocol! You don’t hear me bitchin’ do you?

Okay I get it, I guess I am bitchin’ a little, but I want my cable TV fixed already! I haver cancer damn it…I want something in return! Watching some housewives rip each other apart is the least (the very least) I deserve!

Enjoy!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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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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Let’s Get Wiggy With it!


and the Winner is

Today was wig day. For so many reasons, it was a day I was secretly dreading. I wasn’t about to let my fears stop me, but they have been churning for a few days. I feel good, I am not having any terrible side affects; the worst being 1 night — and the hair loss of course!

It is interesting to me, however, that I am not finding this as absolutely horrific as I did the first time I went through it. The first time was so emotionally brutal that I can not even express it in words. My eyes usually close tightly, just at the thought of re-living it. But why does it seem different this time around? This, too, I have been thinking about this for a few days. I believe the answer to be more complex than just a simple “because I have been through it before.” This is not to negate the fact that this is a significant part of the reason. I believe the other pieces come from the “circumstances” surrounding my first experience as opposed to my situation now.

In 1982 I was 20 years old, I was a Senior at a very “jappy” university (please excuse the stereotyping of my male and female clan members); but physical and social appearances were of the utmost importance there. Cancer, Hodgkins Desease, was certainly not as common amongst my peers then, as Breast Cancer seems to be today. Really, is there anyone that doesn’t know someone who has or had Breast Cancer? So at BU, I became an automatic outcast. Fear made many worry that they could “catch” what I had. Luckily, I had a friend Nanette Stueck (I have been trying to locate her, but can’t remember her married name) who didn’t care about my ailment at all. She welcomed me in to her apartment, and life with nary a second glance or concern. Over Christmas break when 90% of Massachusetts heads on vacation, I had to remain in Boston for treatments. My family in NY, Nannette invited me to stay with her. It was there I lost my hair! I awoke one morning freezing. I couldn’t figure out why I kept feeling a draft. As I lifted my head from the pillow, I realized all the hair from the back of my head remained on the pillow. Over powered by tears, I sat and wept. I remember Nannette being a real comfort, but frankly mostly I just remember the hair loss. So being alone, away from family, and being an outcast only added to the traumatic nature of this side affect.

Now, my circumstances are different. My hair is coming out at a slower rate than the first time. Still in clumps, but not my whole head. Once again, the back of my head is the first area to disappear; with the top/front just thinning so far. The pace at which it is falling out, makes it easier to adjust to the change. It was very jarring when it came out at once, so the “molting” affect is a little easier to take.

The biggest difference between this experience and the last one, is having family and friends around. If you have a good support system, I believe you can conquer anything (or atleast 99% of things). My family and my friends have been with me every step of the way this time. They have embraced me, they have been a part of my healing and treatment, and they have given me unconditional acceptance during bad days (and good ones), hair days and none.

Today, at my most vulnerable, 2 of the incredible women in my “central support team” joined me for this Wiggy adventure. Julie and Meredith helped me to keep the experience light (again a weight reference, OY!). At Bitz and Pieces, a wig store in Manhattan, we meet Edwin. He was soft and gentle during the initial few minutes of assessment. He was trying to suss out just “what kind of patrons we would be”! Had he only known, he may have had someone else work with us. I wanted to try on all the big wigs for fun. Politely, he got down to business. But quickly he felt our light heartedness, and he loosened up. We joked about never having to wash or blow dry my hair, and how much time that would save me; how I can’t cook with the wig on, or grill with it on, or be near a dryer — on account of the fact that I picked a synthetic wig and it would melt! So I can just give upon those chores altogether.

The whole appointment took an hour. During which time I was able to smile, laugh and, dare I say, enjoy what could be (and was before) a tearful and awful experience. Julie and Meredith encourged me to try on some “fantasy styles”, as well as variations of how my hair has always been styled. For fun, I tried on Red hair a little longer and “Cynthia Nixonish”, and a black haired “Mia Farrow”, a Strawberry and blond Highlighted “Joan Jett” number, and a Black “Uma Thurman/Pulp Fiction” piece. It was fun. While none of these made the final selection, I actually enjoyed the process.

Kill Bill Look


The Flippy Dippy Blond

I enjoyed my selection enough to leave the store wearing it! Off we went to meet Elaine for lunch, she is another superhero in my unbeatable group of incredible women friends. She agreed that I made a great selection. Yeah!

My children came home from school with friends. I had honestly forgotten that I was still wearing the wig. My daughter Alissa immediately noticed. “Oh my god Mom is that your new wig? Yes,” I said cautiously worried about her reaction. “It is awesome, you better cut your hair like that when it comes back.” And without a second thought she and her friend went off to do their homework!

This ‘Hairrowing” experience turned out to be “exhilHAIRating” instead. That is a true relief.

Talk to you soon

Carol
@funnycancermom

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The CANCER CARD!


Sometimes I feel life can get very profound. My viewpoint on things is different today, than it was 4 weeks ago, and even more different than it was 4 months ago. And I guess their maybe some validity to the concept that certain events in your life may just be the result the of hand you are dealt. So if that is the case, can I use the “Cancer Card” to my advantage?

I am not saying to use the Cancer Card for frivolous personal gain….or at least I haven’t perfected that thought yet. And I certainly don’t think the Card comes in levels – you know like regular, gold, platinum and Black Amex card. But, I am saying that there should be perks to go along with this unwanted disease. So I plan on making it my goal to perfect the proper etiquette/uses for this card.

Now I was thinking about all the really nice things people have done for my family and me for the last several weeks. I am truly appreciative and touched, and I don’t want to imply that I have used my illness as a rouse to get things done for me. This has a much bigger scope I think.

Let me use last night as an example. We went to a great BBQ at friends of ours. It was 5 couples with all the children. The weather was good, the food was great and the laughter was a plenty. At the next house (also friends) was another BBQ; some bi-partyson co-mingling followed. But just like that a gauntlet was tossed? The skirmish caused by none other than “DESSERT”. Which house had the better Viennese table? And not ‘Just desserts’, but my favorite desserts.

It all began when one of the guests at the other house was sitting with us and explaining the desserts he brought. He mentioned my favorite – a chocolate 7-layer cake with whipped cream- from the Riviera Bake Shop. It is like the original Devil Dog’s – YUM! So later in the evening, when desserts were being served, one of our guests mentioned he was heading over to the other house! I proudly screamed out. Get me a piece of the seven layer cake – if they give you a hassle just tell ’em it’s for the lady with cancer! Awesome, I thought- way to use card! Sadly, the gentleman came back empty handed. Deny the lady with Cancer you say…no, no! It was a momentary lapse, a misspoken word you might say. Because the other gentlemen had not purchased the chocolate 7 Layer cake, but instead, bought the Oreo cookie cake. But again life dealt well, because someone from our party had made RICE KRISPIE treats. I think you get the flavor of my culinary likes and dislikes.

Now there are other ways to use the card with and on friends as well. My friend Amy is helping me use the card in places I didn’t even know would accept it. She even uses it for me sometimes (when I am not around of course. She’s great at sharing!). Anyway, she came to picking me up for a Memorial Day shopping excursion to Kohl’s to get camp stuff for the kids. When my daughter and I went to get in her car, I noticed a man in the back seat of her mini van. “What? A gift for me I thought.” No, of course not, but it was her husband, Dan. (Like Amy, he is a hilarious and great human being). Did she bring him along to lift and carry perhaps? Also a ridiculous thought; but because I had cancer, she made him sit in the back of the van so we 2 women could chit chat in the front. I am sure all the extra legroom had nothing to do with it. Still, a fine use of the card I thought!

After retelling the story to my mother, I thought “can I use the cancer card with family though?” I know there will be times that I just don’t feel well enough to travel to family, as opposed to times I don’t feel LIKE traveling to family. I just want to say “I have cancer damn it, just come to me.” I love being with family; my brothers (that includes in-laws as well) and sister-in-laws make me laugh. The kids all get along, and I have a scrumptious new niece that thinks “I am all that” (I can read that in the goggly faces she makes at me…Even though my husband say’s it’s just gas-but he’s just jealous). And, my niece and I will look like twins when all my hair falls out.

Of course I was able to state lots of reasons why I should never use the card on my family, like:
• I would feel “bad” about lying. My mother always said “never tell someone your sick when your not- otherwise you will get sick!”. Okay well that boat has sailed.
• And because family is there to support you always, so you just can’t do that to them.

But a reason to use it would be if we have to drive somewhere (further than 10 minutes) because:
• I love to drive. Ever since I got my license at 17 (some mmm years a go), I use it as a time of relaxation; it is my zen state. Now I must confess this “zen” state is not how I am as a passenger – a source of much heated debate between my husband and I. Because damn it, I do believe in the righteous words of the bumper sticker gospel…. “if you can read this bumper sticker you are way to close.” So relinquishing the “power of the wheel” is very difficult for me.

Anyway, I am still perfecting the uses and the rewards programs of the card; but by the time I do, I think I will already be Cancer free – and my privileges will be revoked! So I guess it is all just a Win-Win or a Laugh Laugh! Now darnn it, somebody bring me some cake – I have cancer for Christ sake!

Sweet day to all!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Is It What we say or I how we Say it?


Friday Night I had my first bad night!. About 5 or 6 p.m it hit me. the drugs in my system really decided to show their strength. I had been cruising along all day relatively fine. And BAM! Out for the count. Even though it was 80 degrees outside, I sat shivering under 2 down blankets. I wore a fleece jacket, fleece pj’s, socks, and I still could not stop the shaking. It is the kind of trembling that is both painful and scary. Scott (my husband) did all the right things – mostly. He kept the kids away and settled, he made me tea, gave me aspirin, and mulled over the idea of calling the Dr. — An idea I was totally opposed to. I didn’t have a fever ( I know because I kept checking), and I knew deep down that this is just a Chemical reaction – nothing more. It was almost as if I could feel the chemicals kicking the butt’s of the cancer cells. And, In the moment, it seemed like a championship match! But boy was “I sick as a dog!” That is exactly how I described to my friends the next day. Which got me thinking. Why do we use animals and/or inanimate objects to express our feelings, thoughts and moods?

Why are dogs sick? I never see that — they are always happy and frolicking. Or they are playing with a stick or chasing their tales. What is sick about that. Almost daily, I go for walks with my friends, and a few have dogs. I adore them all, but one in particular holds a special place in my heart. She runs to me when she sees me, she seems to know that I am not 100% and likes to stand by my side often. Almost like a natural support system. What is better than that! It gives me a sense of what being a grandparent is like – all of the joy, none of the poop!

But this got me thinking about other expressions as well. I know some of my blogs seem weight obsessed — what can I say, I am. But, I don’t want to be Stick Thin, or Thin as a Rail! Because neither of those thinks have a shape, or anything! I don’t want to be healthy as a horse, neat as a pin. Though being rich like Midas wouldn’t heart! If I am going to be compared to an animal or an inanimate object — at least let the comparison make sense.

When it comes to my shape, I would like to be Shaped like a fiddle, or Girly like a Guitar (but not like a cello or bass). To stay with musical theme, why would I want to be be Fit as a fiddle? How does a fiddle fit and what is that about. Another favorite is when you are in great shape, you are fit and rock solid — “you are built like a Brick Sh**house…But does sh** really create the image of a rock solid structure. I know when I feel like “sh**” I definitely don’t feel to solid. If someone has put the effort into getting their body to look totally defined he/she deserves the appropriate platitude you know comparing his/her body to something impervious: Chiseled glass, let’s say, are well defined cake with sculpted chocolate Fondant!!!

Some other sayings bother me as well. The other night when I was ailing, and I refused to call the Dr, my husband intimated that I was Bull-headed! Is that like being pig-headed or” Stubborn as a mule”? And again I thought, was he trying to call me a “Dumb Ass”? Frankly, even in his frustration with me at the moment, I don’t think that is what he meant; but what horse’s pa-toot came up with the idea of using one of the most graceful, strong, and independent animals as a symbol of stupidity and inflexibility?

So the next time I feel particular set in my ways, instead of comparing me to an ass maybe someone could say “Wow your unpersuadable”; or If I am in a “skinny way” it would be nice if someone would say “wow, she is as skinny as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model” instead of be comparing me to a thin ,cold metal object (And to clarify this could never happen to me..my body type would not prompt this kind of comparison – especially after the 1/4 of Stew Leonard’s Sheet Cake my friends and I devoured the other day); and mostly, the next time I feel awful, instead of comparing me to a dog, you may want to compare me to another human feeling poorly like as a really bad college kid with a bad, bad hangover – cause at least then the underlying theme is that I look young enough to be in college — Only a win-win!!!

In the end, Cancer and all, I say, “I am who I am, cause who I am is as…………”

Just go out and enjoy today — cause it is as sun as —A sunny Day!!!

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Can I fit it all in to my schedule?


I must be crazy. But I have spent my day trying to work my plans around my chemo. Well really I have been trying to work my chemo around my plans. I have been toying with the idea of going every two weeks, so that I would finish earlier. But that will mess how I will feel at “visiting day” at camp. Then I am surprising my daughter with tickets to see Glee at the Nassau Colleseum; and the two week schedule will mess that up as well. But the every 3 weeks would mess up the end of camp, when the kids get home. Scott was thinking about taking a week off so we could do stuff with the kids. But if I am not feeling well — what is the point. I mean, who knew Cancer could just screw up my schedule so much!

Just the scheduling alone is giving me a headache. Certain days I know I shouldn’t be driving, and certain days I can drive but have to go to sleep early, certain days I feel totally fine, and certain days I just shouldn’t get out of bed. Yesterday was my 2nd Treatment. Again, the actual treatment wasn’t so bad. I felt al little “schva” all day, as my friends say. Today I have been okay…actually starving! The steroids are still in my body so they keep me up, and hungry. I do believe I could join that Coney Island Hot Dog eating on contest if I were constantly on steroids. But as the day wears on I am beginning to lose steam. The energy of the morning has begun fade. Not terrible, and tonight I have to sit and watch my son’s Baseball game, which is a pretty sedentary event. (Honestly, to me watching baseball is like watching grass grow). But if my son misses a play, or strikes out, or has lots of errors when he pitches — I kringe for him. My motherly instinct kicks in. I just want him to do well. So I find when he is up at bat I become a religious women. Under my breath I am begging “please don’t miss, lease don’t strike out.” You think I would have done that when I learned I may have Cancer. We mom’s have some warped sense of priorities don’t we. Not that I would change it at all. I would rather focus on my children than on me – anytime. That is why scheduling this illness has to be done right :).

My children have been funny with my illness. Unfortunately they have know a lot of people with cancer. Some who did not survive. It has made them very mature about dealing with it. As my hair has begun to fall out, they ask if they can come with me “to get the buzz cut!” Since I am with Matt every time he gets one — he felt it only fair. Their humor has also helped them. A few weeks ago, when I didn’t feel well, I was sitting out on our back deck. Matt and Alissa came to the screen door to check in on me; I told them because I didn’t feel great that Dad would be in charge of helping them with homework, and religious school homework, and tennis practice for that evening. Matt and Alissa looked at each other, smashed their hands and faces against the screen door and mouthed “HELP ME!” It brought laughter to us all; and it made me feel that it is okay to tell them when I have good moments and bad ones. They, too, were able to find the funny in the moment.

They both have their subconscious signals that tell me they are scared or upset to see me feeling ill. Matt tends to need to be near me…really he needs to be connected to me. He will just spontaneously come up and wrap his arms around me and literally put his check to mine for a few seconds. It is so unbelievably tender and sweet. I cherish it! Alissa is a warm and huggy child also, but her signals are different. She starts by asking me questions. “How are you feeling mommy?”, “Can I get you anything mommy?” “Are you okay mommy?” and then she always ends with a hug and an “I love you mommy”. She is very maternal. But the greatest part about all of this, once their moment of fear is over. It is right back to “Mommy can you do this for me, Mommy can you do that for me?, Mom, Alissa is annoying me, tell her to get out of my room.” And again, all is right with the world. And I am back to figuring out the plans for the next few days.

In terms of scheduling around my chemo, I have decided to do the therapy every 3 weeks. That way I always have about a week or a week and a half of feeling okay. So what that chemo will go past my 50th Birthday. I will get more cheek to cheek’s with my son and more “mommy I love you'”s from my daughter. (something that I hear happens less as girls get closer to the teen years).
I hope it will give me more to talk to all of you about! Root for the cubs tonight (my son’s team that is)

Have a great day!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Memories


I have so many vivid memories. Sometimes is is a simple whiff of something that triggers the rerun in my head. I am sometimes sitting and watching 2 people interact, and a memory comes flooding back…This often happens when I see obvious 1st or blind dates…My PAINFUL memories hit me as hard as some of those dates were to take…

Sometimes a flavor can bring back a meal or an event that centered around food (which is almost my whole life). For example, the other day we had chinese food for dinner. At the end, while reading the fortune cookies, a memory flashed in my head from when I was 16. I had just “enjoyed my first kiss” from a boy named Cliff Levy. I had been over the moon about it all day, and had mistakenly told my mother about it (who of course secretly told my father about it). When the fortune cookies came we read them out loud, as we always did. My brothers had some place to be so they were annoyingly in a hurry. We all read our fortunes except my Dad, he was like “Wait, this doesn’t make any sense. This must be for you Carol.” “Why what does it say?” I ask….”You will soon fall over a CLIFF!” he says with a huge smile ..”.MOM!.”, I yelled and ran out of the restaurant. It makes me smile know, but boy was I pissed then.

Sometimes when I watch my twins fight, I remember my brothers and I going at it. For similar “idiotic” reasons. But still, as they fight I find that I drift off to re live one of our beauties, that usually ended in me storming out of a room and my brothers calling me annoying or calling me a baby. How great were they! Memories are fun sometimes…They bring a smile to my face, most of the time. But there are the few that make me wince…Those are the ones I had hoped I would never have to visit again. Not in in my head and certainly not in real life…

Somehow this weekend I was not feeling great. I got a little cold that made me feel just generally YUCKY!!! And, even though it is spring, yesterday felt like a February. Alll day I was freeing. I was dressed for the weather. Sweatshirt, sweatpants, heavy socks, etc. At 1 point I looked down at the sweatshirt I was wearing (it was black) to notice a lot of blonde hair all over it. I went into the bathroom to take a look in the mirror, and thankfully all looked fine. With a sigh of relief, I brushed my fingers through my hair. There it was, a clump of my hair. It had begun, and the memories flooded back. These are memories I wanted to keep looked up forever. These memories are attached to some pretty strong emotions, ones that are attached to some pretty thick tears. Truthfully, having cancer at 20 is a blur…but the memory loosing my hair s the exact opposite; it is so precise and exact. Unfortunately I can re tell every moment of that day, as it happened. I think that is true for most chemo patients.

I know, Hair grows back, styles are ever changing, yet loosing it is probably the worst part of this whole thing. Truthfully the protocol I am on is only supposed to thin your hair, but I seem to be extreme on many side affects, so it appears that I may do more than just thin. I can’t explain what it is exactly about loosing my hair that makes it so brutal, but that is how I felt. My friend Meredith may have captured it. With my hair I can still walk around, and no one has to know that I am sick. But without hair it is like wearing a big Scarlet C!!! C for cancer, get it…see how I tied that all together there. Tricky eh!

Anyway, I have been thinking about it all day: I could react the same as before, or I can try and find another way to deal with loosing my hair. So I went online and typed in Bald Women of distinction….Okay, wrong approach. Have you seen Sinead O’Connor lately..OY!.not so hot. But then their is Demi Moore in GI Jane — but I don’t have her body, so that didn’t work. Cause that just makes me feel fat; oh and then there is Natalie Portman, but she was portraying a sick girl, so that really defeats the purpose. So why are there no “Cancer Survivor” role models. He wait Mark Burnett, there is your new reality series. “Survivor: Chemo Therapy” Who needs to travel to exotic islands to try and survive the elements.

And by the way, why is that when I loose the hair on my head, I never loose that annoying 1 hair on my chin. The one that is now as strong as steel wool? Riddle me that Batman! But back to the decision at hand, I have a nice shaped head, so I may be okay. But just in case, I have an appointment at Bitz and Pieces next week. I plan on trying on every possible hairstyle I ever wanted to have. From a Beehive to a mullet, From Lucille Ball to Rapunzel and every color of hair in the rainbow. Why not, let’s have some fun with it….This time I hope to do it my way! And not to be weight obsessed, but how much do you think hair weighs?

Remember what the rabbit said: Hair today, Gone tomorrow!!!

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I Compare Therefore I am


Do you ever find yourself using comparisons to clarify “your present situation” what ever it is. I compare, I justify, and then I decide. It is my version of the zen practice of “I think therefore I am”. And let’s face it — that is just a load of Hooey! I could think I am a size 4, and even starve myself from now until next tuesday, and I still wouldn’t be a size 4. Frankly I haven’t seen a single digit dress size since…Oh yeah that memory thing is kicking in again.

I do use comparison’s in every part of my life though. These days I do find myself comparing how different my days would be, if only I didn’t have Cancer. I mean prior to my surgery, my days consisted of cooking, cleaning, shopping (for food that is) picking up or dropping off dry cleaning, chauffering my kids between sporting events, school, orthodontist, tutor, and dance; and thne coming home making dinner for my husband, serve, clean-up help the kids with homework, and then sit down and have a glass of wine. Now, after the surgery and during treatment, I ONLY HAVE TO do the cooking, cleaning, shopping (for food that is) picking up or dropping off dry cleaning, chauffering my kids between sporting events, school, orthodontist, tutor, and dance; and thne coming home making dinner for my husband, serve, clean-up help the kids with homework. THANK GOODNESS I DON’T HAVE TO DRINK THE WINE ANYMORE!

But that is a general comparison. Sometimes I get more specific. Like, for example, the other morning, after getting my kids ready and off to school, I was meeting friends for our usual morning stroll (That is pretty much our pace)! I began to think about what mornings are like in other homes. Because in my home just getting the kids out the door should become an Olympic Sporting event; that’s because this seemingly benign daily activity usually leaves me, sweating, exhausted, tense, and ready to collapse after the kids finally leave the house.. My kids suffer from that chronic childhood disease called “I’m 11 and I don’t move FASTi-itis!” I think, nay, I compare, myself to the other mom’s I am meeting. They also have more than 1 child, yet I picture them as super women. Because by the time we meet (anywhere between 8:30i and 9) they have already cleaned the breakfast dishes, made the beds, and thrown a load of wash into the machine; while I, in that same short time, was lucky enough to walk into the bathroom and brush my teeth, and wipe the toothpaste of the corners of my mouth. I guess it’s all about setting expectations….maybe I set my bar a little to low, or is that all of my friends are just over achievers…

I also, unfairly, compare my husband to others. I often hear my friends speak of their husbands prowess in the kitchen…you know what I mean…they cook, and they do so every night…again, let’s keep the focus on food! Then a few of these men are also good at the “handyman” household duties. My husband…Not so much! I cook, and yes, I am good at the handyman kind of stuff, also. So again, I compare. But here I know I come out ahead…because for all of his deficiencies, my man is an exceptionally supportive husband for me and great Dad for the kids. But damn it! I still wish he could whip up a Rib Roast a jus and potatoes. Remember it is food that feeds the soul, and a way to women’s heart is through her stomach isn’t it!!

Many of you have emailed, or commented on my spirit, and drive, which I do believe helps me tremendously. My friends and family are really what keeps my spirits and my outlook up and alive. As I try to do in my blog, my friends also help me try to find the funny in all situations; and believe me they do. An example of this is a story told to me by one of my dearest friends. (hopefully she will not be mad at me for re-telling it.) In here story she found the funny….cause sometimes life is bland…but she made it not so bland by making it funny — And that is what is so inspirational to me!!! My friends can take the not so exciting and not so spectular, and make it fun, exciting and enjoyable…Anyway the story goes like this:

My friend has a cousin that lives in Colorado. Every so often her cousin sends out an email to her family just keeping everyone up to date with what is going on in her life. You see, this women is an a trained avalanche rescue worker, and trains her dogs also in Avalanche rescue techniques. The woman is part of a team that travels on these exciting, dangerous and unbelievable missions. Often recanting them in her emails. My friend, like myself, would read such an email with joy, respect and admiration for this woman. And, like myself, she would then briefly compare her cousins exciting life to that of our own, and subconsciously justify how we got where we are. (but honestly, not justification needed) But here is where my inspiration comes from…my friend thoughtfully, and carefully drafted and sent her response. With that simple sense of pride in how we spend our days she wrote “Well, you think that’s something? THIS WEEK TOMATOES ARE ON SALE AT STOP AND SHOP!”!”

What a great outlook.. I admit, even though I tell this story so much, I still laugh at my firends response!

At the end of day there are still the unanswered comparisons – the ones I think of every night…in the dark…before floating off to sleep…like – How will it be for me this time around? Is it easier or harder dealing with cancer when I am older? How is my life with cancer different now as opposed to when I was 20? I do know that when I was 20, I was to young and to stupid to realize I was dealing with a potentially fatal disease. At 20 I felt I was invincible! Today, I am not so young, I definitely don’t feel invincible, but what I am now is determined. Determined not to let this stupid f***ing disease bother me, determined to continue my active life of Laundry, Food Shopping, and Cleaning, and even more determined to find the humor in all things I do…Even things that don’t trend funny. We are who we are! And by comparison…I am still doin’ okay!
And frankly who really wants to compare it anyway!!!!

Have a great day…and just laugh!!!!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Can I optimize the terms of my Chemo Protocol? I don’t see why not!


So I have begun to think about my next treatment. It is only 1 week away. I know that in my first post I mentioned that I would like to speed up the treatments over the summer, while my kids are away. I think that is called optimization in today’s “business lingo”. So tomorrow when I go in for my pre treatment blood tests, I plan to sit with the Doctor and negotiate my terms for optimization of my chemo protocol.

Frankly I envision her either laughing at me so hard that she falls of her little round twirly stool, or she will just look at me wondering if I need a psych consult. Probably the later, since who in their right mind would think that Chemo Therapy protocols are negotiable. But if you think about it really, their is a small (ever so small) speck of rationale behind my thinking.

Years ago who would ever think that you could negotiate a better price for a classic Black Patent Chanel Handbag, or with a surgeon because you are willing to pay him in cash, or even negotiate with a college/university to pay less for your child’s tuition. These day’s I find that you can negotiate almost anything. Now it maybe a chemical reaction they are looking for with these drugs, but I still say PSSHAW! Well I really don’t, cause who really uses that word with a straight face. But you get my meaning, I hope. I have not been the typical patient yet. Not my disease, not the cause, not the outcome. Just ask my magnificent surgeon…Andrew Ashikari. Nothing about me has fit into the “book” of cancer’s, so why should my treatment?

Now not to boast, but I think I come from a family of “supremely gifted” negotiators; and I hope that I picked up a thing or two. Certainly my skills were somewhat stunted when I was younger. Being the youngest of 3 children (I have 2 older brothers), I learned the necessity of negotiating at a young age. My training started when I was 3. All I wanted to do was play with my brothers and their friends. While i did get to play with them, they still won the negotiations. They would give me like five minutes of play time as long as I would take the blame for some idiotic thing they were about to do. Like use crayons in catapults and shoot them against the newly painted white walls. My brother Andy, was truly the most gifted negotiator — and still is; he once traded me to his friend for a brand new baseball glove. It took my mother 4 hours to get my whereabouts out of him. After all it was an incredible glove!

As I got older, my skills still didn’t match up to my brothers.. Some how I spent a year doing the dishes every night (a chore that was supposed to be rotated), It wasn’t until after college, that my skills began to emerge. I had had a job as an assistant talent agent, at one of the largest commercial agencies of the time. Unfortunately, the 6 month Screen Actors Guild strike caused me to seek other employment for awhile. My idea was to be a Bartender – though I had no skills. I applied for several positions, obviously lying about my previous experience, and was offered 1. I had to trail an existing bartender for 2 shifts and then I was on my own. I told the bartender the truth about my experience, and negotiated my way in. “If you train me, I will give you all the tips from these two shifts plus my 1st solo shift. DEAL”, he said…and for the next 8 months I worked at 2 of the hottest bars on Columbus Avenue…Frankly making way more money than I ever did and having way more fun than I ever did.

But that all brings me back to My chemo negotiations, I have my sites set on being done with chemo by the end of August. I turn 50 in September, and I so want this behind me by then. The only way to do that is by going every two weeks, not every three weeks So if it is just a matter of getting extra tired, or queasy – so be it! I have no kids at home. Really it is my husband that will suffer the most. Our alone summers have been so romantic and enjoyable. Men, it is always about them and their needs isn’t it?

I guess there is always the chance that the reason I can’t do every two weeks is because of a chemical reaction, but since I haven’t had a normal reaction to anything else yet…why should my cells be any different. Anyway, I only hope my negotiations will

Practice Negotiations at the Wax Museum

work. But I guess if it doesn’t I can always try to send my brothers in to negotiate for me.

Talk to you all soon.

Carol
@funnycancermom

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