Category Archives: stay at home moms

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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THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE!


It seems that my daily schedule has been altered by my chemo treatments. My internal schedule that is. I used to wake up around 6:45 a.m. And get in bed around 11:00 p.m.. Now I find that I am usually fully awake by 5:45 a.m. And passed out by 9 p.m. At first this time shift was like any other “jet lag” scenario. It definitely took me a few days to get my “footing”. And I mean that literally as
well as figuratively. At 5:45 my house is pitch black; so the first few mornings I found myself stumbling around, constantly banging my toes against something or walking into some wall I couldn’t see. My house is definitely seems smaller in the dark, or I am just messier than I think (both very possible). Several mornings in a row I found myself standing in my closet trying to stifle my scream from the pain from stubbing my toe on a pair of shoes or the foot of the armoire, or just tripping over the clothes I left on the closet floor. After the pain subsides, I would make my way to the bathroom or downstairs. I was up like a pup!. Awake in an absolutely silent household. Frankly, not an experience I was used to.

What does someone do in the morning; Before the kids are up or my husband is awake – before the the general noise of daily life begins? I sat silently to ponder. And there it was again. Silence!. I wanted to scream with joy- but that would break it – the silence that is.

So, instead I thought I should figure a way to try and use the time wisely. I sit and think; think about what is, what was, and what can be! And realize “Wow I sound really profound at 6 a.m.!. Ok Obi wan!” I think, “what else could I be at 6 a.m.” I look around my living room, and think that I could go through that stack of papers sitting on the dining room table – or at least organize them. Nah! That’s quick work I can do that later. Oh, I could empty the dishwasher!. No way, the clanging of the plates would surely wake up the house. I could organize and pay the bills. Do I even need to say why that is a No!. Or I could just sit here with my feet up, stare about the room and write my thoughts down!. BINGO!. A perfect morning activity. This will get the mind flowing, and keep my body stationary in order to fully accept the affects of the caffeine entering it from that oversized morning cup of joe!. I can ruminate upon the day to come, and try to envision how I will fit in all the things I need to do; or how I can ignore them and do the things I want to do.

Wow, my head is spinning from all this thinking, maybe I should just go bed for a few hours? Let me think about that! It’s 7 a .m. Enough thinking! Now doing!

Enjoy the day! And make everyone count!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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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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Chemo Can Affect Your Memory…Ya Think!


Hi
The other morning I was scanning the NY Times on My IPAD. (I say that to sound groovy and technologically savvy – of which I am neither). But I came across an article that was titled “Chemo Brain can last for up to five years.” CRAP! Chemo Brain is very similar to pregnancy brain (boy we women just get all the fun stuff don’t we!). Anyway, it refers to your Short Term Memory…or really the lack there of. Now frankly, I get pregnancy brain, because we women spend 9 months trying to avoid focussing on the crippling pain of child birth. We do such a good job at that, That is until the delivering or 2nd or 3rd delivery that women are often heard screaming “why the hell did I let you get me pregnant again!” (usually the words sound much more venomous than that) But of course once that bundle of joy is in our arms — POOF! the memory of the pain is gone.

But the thought of Chemo Brain bothers me. I pride myself on my memory. I have always been able to store and recall facts, figures, phone numbers, names, and data in my head (with great detail). Even at work, though my desk was a mountain (and that is a true description) of papers, invoices, photos, fabric swatches, button samples, and other garment paraphernalia; I could recall exactly what strata the necessary document was in. Easy retrieval — co-workers would watch in awe — that there really was a system in place there! Though it was rumored that the pile was so big and old that Jimmy Hoffa’s body maybe at the bottom.

But to get back to the Chemo Brain I suffer at present, I must tell you about my day tuesday (it may have been Monday). Since I can’t tell you what I had for Breakfast this morning you’ll have to forgive the approximation on the days. Anyway, I realized I must get myself a book to carry around with me at all times, to write things down in. Otherwise the information will be lost forever. So this particular morning I knew I needed some food at the grocery store so I wrote my 8 items in my book, put my book in my handbag and got in my car to go to the store. Before I left my driveway I realized I didn’t have my phone, so I put the car in park and ran back into the house. As I entered my home the phone was ringing, so I answered it. My good friend and I chatted for about 10 minutes until the doorbell rang. The Fedex man needed me to sign for a package, which I did. Before he walked away he said :”You know your car is running.” Sh**! I totally forgot I was going somewhere. I said goodbye to my friend and got back in the car. I drove about 1,000 ft. and again said Sh**! I forgot my phone. So in reverse I went and got my phone, and back on the road again.

Finally, after 1 hour of me leaving, I arrived at the supermarket (which is only 5 minutes from my house). Just arriving inside the store gave me the most ridiculous sense of accomplishment. I felt a like Marlo Thomas on the corner of The NYC street throwing her hat in the air. I just wanted to scream to everyone “Look I made it to the Grocery Store all on my own….” Sad but true! Anywhoooo…my shopping experience was even more fun….

As I started walking down the aisle’s and throwing items in my cart, I wasn’t really paying attention to how full my cart was getting. Something clicked and I realized, “Wait I have a list.” So I turned to my cart to get the book out of my bag and, CRAP – no bag! Immediate panic set in. “Did someone steal my purse? Everything is in it! Oh wait, what is in it? My book is in it?” As I stood talking to myself Clarity emerged. My bag is in my car — I think!” I abandoned my cart and went to the car. The HALLELUJAH CHORUS WENT OFF IN MY HEAD! There was my bag in the car, and my list too! Yeah.

Back into the store I went, but wait – where did I leave my cart. After looking like a Peeping Tom hovering over carts to find mine, I gave up and went to get a new cart. Now I that I had my book with the list I was set to go and purchase only what I needed. We’ll except for these pretzel rolls. Thats all I got extra. Well that and those just baked Brownies in the bakery. Those were only extra items…oh yeah, and the Cookie Dough Ice Cream, and nothing else, except for the whipped cream! But I swear that was it! That and the 8 items on my list, and I was good to go! Ya, Right!

The cashier is swiping my items, looking at me wondering how I could consume so much junk food. I turned to get wallet out of my bag, and realized “Crap, I only took in my book with the list and left my bag in the car.! With a line behind, I had to sheepishly explain to the cashier that I have to run quickly to my car to get the wallet. I saw his and everyone else’s eyes roll at the idiot that I am! Luckily my car was one in one of the closest spots, which I pointed to as I told him I would be right back. I felt the Cashier give this look, I think he felt sorry for me. Like I was some little lost puppy! He nodded at me allowing me to run out to get my wallet. As I exited the store I understood the look. I had left my car on, and the door open. I just wanted to run back in and scream, “It’s not me really, it’s the chemo. I am usually much smarter and way more together than this!” But of course I didn’t. I got my bag (thankfully we live in a low crime area – or I give off that “mentally challenged aura”), and went back in to pay the bill. Embarrassed enough I apologized to everyone on the line, especially the nice lady behind me, who said, “Don’t worry, I understand. I know what it is like sweetie, I have been through pregnancy before also.”

And I thought “Wow! I look young enough to be pregnant? Cool” or “Do I look fat enough to be pregnant! CRAP!” And just like that the events of the last two hours were out of my head. POOF!

Carol
@Funnycancermom

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Call Me, or Don’t. You Decide!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speak to you soon.

Carol

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This Dog won’t hunt (or peck)!


May 9, 2011

Everyday becomes a learning process for me. Life on Chemo Therapy introduces me to new sites and smells and sensations. But do I want to learn these lessons? Since I was never much of a student in High School I am not always happy to be learning new things. At the moment, I am learning the difference between nausea and queasiness. The difference can be as small as the words “infer and imply” — basically non-existence. The sensation I have been feeling begged the question… Am I hungry? Am I Queasy? or Am I Nauseous? Well so far it is a learning process, and I am being graded on a bell curve. It reminds me of the adage “Starve a cold and Feed a Fever, or is it Feed a cold and starve a fever…” Which one makes you feel better faster, or does either work at all?

For Mothers Day we went to see my Mom and Dad. My Brother and Sister-in-law were in town so we got to see them as well. So as long as we were going for brunch, my husband, children, and decided to bring the food from one of our local favorites. As usual, I brought enough food to them so they cold later invite their building and entire town for leftovers (maybe even enough left over to feed the troops in Iraq). Anyway the spread was Bagels and lox, Lobster Salad, Smoked Salmon Salad, Whitefish Salad, Cream Cheeses, Brie Cheese, OJ, Coffee, Fresh Fruit, Seven Layer Cake, Ice Cream, and I could go on. (But just repeating all this food brings my stomach to the edge once again).

Anyway, I had been teetering between feeling queasy and okay for days. I was being cautious with what I ate because I just didn’t know what would sit well and what wouldn’t. By the time everything was out on the table and time to eat, I felt okay, and maybe even “hungry” I guess I couldn’t quit discern the difference between the two feelings. By the second half of my whole wheat everything bagel with cream cheese/scallion topped with Lox I realized I wasn’t hungry so much as nauseous. And that was it. This was the instant I learned the difference. This is why the nurses tell you when you feel this way, just eat a saltine. If I had done that I wouldn’t have spent the rest of my day regretting my lunch choice (in so many ways I regretted it!)

It is true, my mind is playing tricks on me, or the drugs are. I can’t even tell the difference between hungry and queasy. Let me just digress for a second though, can I highlight the ever so slight “health food quotient here” – I had a whole wheat everything bagel!” Anyone who knows me is aware of my favor for white flour products and coffee. But I am learning to appreciate the granola crunchy ways of water and ‘healthier foods’. NO wine, no alcohol, no yodels or ring dings — is this what Yule Gibbons felt like?

I am learning all of these new things. So I guess you can teach and old dog new tricks.

Good Night and Good Crunch!

Carol

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O’Hara Syndrome – Pro or Con…Discuss


May 8, 2011

I am innately independant I would say.  I started sleepaway camp at the age of 5,went to college at 17,  and after graduation I never lived home again.  I enjoyed being on my own.  Even my Senior year when I found out I had Hodgkins, I decided to stay in school and be treated up in Boston.  I don’t mean to imply that my parents wanted this kind of independence from their only girl (and youngest child).  I just never got the hang of asking for help.  Doing things for myself was just easier, and I usually was able to get the results I wanted.- and yes, with out having to utter the words “Thank You” to anyone else…Yes, Yes I hear you thinking “control freak much!”  But it is not totally that.  I do like to have control over things I can control. But, I think I just don’t want to add anymore to anyone else’s plate.  We all have enough to deal with.  so “DEPENDING ON THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS”  (AND FRIENDS OF COURSE) has been a tough pill to swallow.  I like being the go-to gal…the one everyone comes to for help…the one behind the camera…My brothers are the same.  Though I often complain about them (lovingly only), it is important to give them credit for exceptional acts (But you must limit this to 1 a decade, otherwise there is just no living with them).  As an example:

My Brother was working at Ralph Lauren back in 1982 – when I was a Senior at Boston University.  I was going through radiation treatment, and had to travel every morning at 6:30 a.m. from my dorm to Tufts Medical Center.  Not a bad trip, but the cold Boston winter made it pretty brutal.  My brother would call and say, “I have a meeting at Filene’s” or at “Jordan Marsh”  so when I am done do you want to have lunch.  I was thrilled.  Honestly, we sat and didn’t talk that much, but just having him there was great.  It wasn’t until a few years later that I found out that these were not my brother’s account’s and he had no such meetings….He would just fly up — his way of checking in on me without without damaging my own sense of independence.  I also think he didn’t want to admit he was concerned for me being there without any family member.

Aside from his visits, I had a hand full of people who were tremendously helpful.  I have lost touch with quite a few of them over the years, but  I am ever and always grateful to them.

This latest tug-of-war with cancer has illuminated the most wonderful sense of warmth and kindness that surrounds me.  “THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS” has genuinely touched my heart, has rendered me  awe-struck at the human spirit, has made me feel so humbled and honored by the out-pouring of support.   Irvington, NY is a small town, but we are big in spirit and heart — that is certainly what makes me proud to live here.

Even more important than that is in some of your posts I have been described as tall and skinny — and frankly, what more could I ask for.  Health can come and go, but weight is forever!!!!.  I have lost a few pounds, from the queasiness that I feel daily.  If Weight Watchers could only make a pill that brings this on, Diets would become obsolete.  I am not sure that this feeling will last until the next treatment (I certainly hope not),  but there is that silver lining part.  I maybe able to fit into my bathing suits by August.   Since I can’t sit in the sun either I will have a nice white pasty sheen to my skin– Somewhat reminiscent of Scarlet (of course that was before she was forced to work in the fields and birth a baby).

I do want to end today by wishing you all a happy Mother’s Day or just a happy day.  I hope you will try to find the fun in everything that happens, because sometimes those little moments can keep you laughing for and through many days to come….

Let’s talk again soon.

Carol

(funnycancermom)

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