Tag Archives: coping with cancer

Thank You Nannette Stueck


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stop writing and talk to me


Well I have been talking and talking…scratch that, I have been writing and writing to you for almost a year now.  Wow!  My posts have been read over 11,000 times…and that is pretty cool, as well.  But I thought it was time to put a voice to these words and let you know what I am up to…Luckily enough two unbelievably talented photographer/videographers were interested in my story – so they have created this to help me launch my new Charitable foundation (My Mission and vision is below).  Thank you all for being here with me!!!  You inspire me!

Blog Mission and Vision

Enjoy today!

Carol

Funnycancermom

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That’s Life!


I can’t tell you how happy I am that 2011 is over. I was ready to start fresh. Of course a new year can present with a whole new set of issues…but nothing we can’t handle…

I made some resolutions, like everyone; and I hope to be able to stick with some of them…I want to lose weight, and get in shape, and get a job, clean out my garage, get organized, and I want to enjoy myself, and just continue to be happy and healthy. These are my resolutions — not unusual..I will make an effort to achieve each and every one of them….but I don’t think I will beat myself up if I don’t…Okay maybe I will but That’s Life — and isn’t it grand!

My daughter came home from school yesterday, she has the stomach flu! It really put a crink in my plans for the week. I had a Doctor’s appointment, and a million errands I had to take care of, I wanted to work out, but nothin’ is more important than taking care of her. She is ‘sick’, but it’s the good kind of sick. Sick that goes away in a day or two…and That’s life. And isn’t it grand!

A week ago, I was cooking and I went to grab a dish out of my cabinets. It was on the top shelf of a cupboard by my stove. I grabbed it, but unfortunately didn’t have a good hold on it and it plummeted to the counter — actually on the cooktop stove to be exact. And ‘poof’ cracked 1/2 the stovetop. I beat myself up for a day, because I really was so annoyed with myself…but after a day or two I realized…things could be (and have been) worse, so I refocussed on how to get the problem fixed, and again I realized That’s life! And isn’t it grand!

Tomorrow my dear friend comes in to town for the weekend. Along with her is her daughter (who is my daughters best friend.) They don’t get to see each other often…2 times a year at best — Though FaceTime certainly makes that easier to deal with! We have family plans all weekend, but I have made sure they will at least spend as much time together as they can. Because plans’ don’t always work out..That’s Life, and yes, isn’t it grand!

Life is filled with ups and downs. We get what we want, sometimes, and sometimes we are left empty-handed. We achieve our goals and strive to fulfill our resolutions, and unfortunately, we are not always successful. We dream big and want the best; and along with those hopes we can be disappointed. But take it from me, That’s life, and yes it is grand!

Here is to a Grand New Year!

Enjoy Today!
Carol

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House Cleaning


Holidays are coming. Gifts are being wrapped, and I am making room for the new purchases. I am always surprised at how great it feels after I have finished a good purge. I feel accomplished, I feel organized, and ready to take on anything that comes.

The last few days I have done a different kind of house cleaning. Today I am going for my colonoscopy. So when I talk about cleaning out the house…I referring to my own inner house. An odd thing to write about, but let me assure you I wish I knew more about it before my first one (20 years ago). The preparation is key and really the trick to make this not so bad – and yes, like my chemo, can have some real upsides!

First of all — know your “prep” options. Some gastroenterologists still stick with the old fashioned “go-lightly drink” In my opinion absolutely fowl!!! Another drink is the Magnesium Citrate (just a medical term for YUCHY!) Now I am not saying these two methods aren’t affective,; cause they are! But they also take a toll on your whole body leaving drawn, tired, and generally feeling poorly.

About 10 years ago, I was introduced to a new method – “Visicol Pills” This was a huge improvement. They are horse pill size and you have to take a lot a short time (along with a gallon of water)…but I didn’t have to drink that nasty stuff. Then 3 years I was introduced the Miralax and Gatorade prep. It absolutely does the job, while simultaneously replenishing your electrolytes. You do not get that same draggy, yucky feeling.

Okay and here is the pitch to get your colonoscopy when you are supposed to — Early detection is the #1 defense against colon cancer. And if that doesn’t convince you here is the other reason (and my favorite one)….

Yesterday when I started the “prep” I weighed 7 pounds more than I do today…THATS 2 WEEKS ON WEIGHT WATCHERS!!!!!

So when it is time for you to get your intestinal house cleaned, remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel…or just know you are lighter at the end of the procedure. In my book, either way, a win win! Viva La Purge!

Enjoy today

Carol

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A River in Egypt!


This weekend, we had an unexpected and unprecedented October storm. It caused untold damage on houses and power lines. Hundred’s of thousands we’re without power. Mother Nature came to remind use of the kind of power she has. Driving down the streets you now see piles and piles of downed tree limbs. These help us remember what happened — and these signs of damage are hard to avoid. Sometimes the damage isn’t always so visible.

How is it really possible to avoid a brick wall when you are traveling straight for it at 90 miles an hour? Well. you can pretend it isn’t there…or at least that is what I do. Lately a heap of praise has been showered upon me…and please believe me I am truly humbled by it. Many have told me how brave I have been through this whole ordeal. And in spending sometime reflecting on my past six months, I wonder if my supposed brevity isn’t just a fancy form of denial.

Today I was asked if I remembered how I felt when I was in college — when I was diagnosed and how I felt being there without any family (and. yes, even friends). My answer, “I don’t remember. Face it I was a 20 year old college kids. I am sure I thought I was invincible – even if the Dr.’s showed concern. I guess i was just a dumb kid. Certain things I remember, like the day I lost my hair! But those memories are few and far between.” But this can’t be true, because every time the subject comes up all I want to do is move on to another subject.

Then I was asked how I felt about this last diagnosis, “now that it is in the past.” The answer is very similar (obviously not the part about being young). I don’t remember much. I remember how certain events surrounding my diagnosis and treatment made me feel, but nothing really, in depth, about the actual treatment and diagnosis itself. Again I can remember events related to certain days and treatments. For example, I can remember agonizing for a week on how to tell my friends. Poor Elaine got the good news first. I hated having to tell her first, for so many reasons, but I needed her help (not easy for me to admit). Then I told my parents. I remember how upset I was for my parents to have to hear the news, because they had already been through enough. I felt bad that I had to tell my brother’s — and made them be with me when I told my parents. I spent much time worrying about how everyone else would handle it, that I was able to avoid worrying about how I would handle this. And if I didn’t think about it, each day would just ‘happen’ and I wouldn’t have to face the “Hail storm” that I was living through. But it seems this unexpected winter storm has somehow unearthed some ground shaking feelings with in me – feelings I am having trouble avoiding.

Now that I am done, I am trying to get a handle on what I have just been through; and it is proving to be overwhelming at times. I can sometimes feel like my body and psyche has just been hit with an unexpected October Storm. I keep hearing that old saying…”You have to take the good with the bad.” Well I am here to state that I am pretty full up of bad, SO BRING ON THE GOOD.”

I am not turning to the dark side. No I am not becoming a Debbie Downer. Not me! But the truth is…even the strongest of us, and even those of us that are always there for others with a “stiff upper lip” can just accept what has happened. I just can’t avoid it anymore, because it takes to much energy avoiding the facts – I accept them and I’LL DEAL WITH THEM.

So Denial is, once again, a river in Egypt.

Enjoy the day!

Carol

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The Day of Atonement


In the Jewish tradition, the day of Atonement is one of the most holy days of the year. This is the day to admit to your wrong doings of the year, and apologizing for it will clean ones soul for the next year. Well I don’t have to tell you about the year I have had. And I think few would disagree with me when I say that I feel I have done my penance….But as I sit and ponder this past year, I feel that maybe in my haste, I may not have repented for some things that I have done. So I feel it is time for me to come clean….and tell the truth, and deal with the consequences of my actions.

As hard as I tried I couldn’t help myself. It all started when chemo started. I have often blamed the drugs for my straying off the path of righteousness. When I am alone in the morning I often regret my actions from the day before…But I can not seem to help myself. I try as hard as I can, and even today I have asked for; nee prayed for the will to make it right. It has been so difficult to come clean but even I know that I must, so here it goes.

It was me who ate the cookie from the cookie jar, yes me — couldn’t be you say — but on Tuesday I went for the ultimate in lie detector tests….WEIGHT WATCHERS, and they agree — It was me who stole all of the cookies, the cakes, and the ice creams from the cookie jar. And I am truly repenting for it – though I am telling you it was really tasty!

Enjoy today!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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The Flip Side


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

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

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

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

Today is 7 down 1 to go….

Hip Hip Horray!

and ENJOY today

Carol

@funnycancermom

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The Silver Lining


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

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

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

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

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

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

ENJOY TODAY!

Carol

@funnycancermom

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Birthday Wishes


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

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for all of your help.

I hope to see you on race day!.

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

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

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

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

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

With great love and respect for you all!

Carol
@funnycancermom

Enjoy today!

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Keeping Up Appearances


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muffin Tops to

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Roller Coasters


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy and stay on solid ground!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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HEAT


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And may cooler heads prevail.

Stay cool and enjoy

Carol

@funnycancermom

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KEEP IT MOVIN’


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

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

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

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

I’m back and happy to be so!

Enjoy the day!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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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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SUMMERTIME — HIP HIP HURRAY!


It is officially over. The school year that is. The last few weeks have been so overloaded with end of the year activities, studying with the kids for finals, packing the kids trunks for camp, and seeing family before the kids leave for summer camp. I haven’t had a moment to think what I am going to do all summer. No children to deal with for 7 weeks and one day. Trust me that one day is very important.

It wasn’t until the end of my first child free summer that I realized all of the benefits: Laundry being really high on the list. With 2 active kids I can do about 12 to 14 loads of laundry a week. Unbelievable, but true. But I don’t think I do 12 to 14 loads in 7 weeks – while they are gone.

During the school year I cook 3 meals (often 4 due to my picky eater) a day. During the summer my husband and I enjoy date nights out 3 to 4 nights a week. And I can catch up on all of the movies I want to see.

Don’t get me wrong I miss the kids. But I was a camper as a child, and it was one of my happiest experience. So I get excited that my children seem to love it as much as I do. Really, what’s not to love – it is a 24/7 playdate that lasts for 7 weeks; for them and for me. I get up each morning and write them a letter – retelling events of the day before in great detail. Mainly to add length to the letter. Otherwise the letter would say:

Hi: relaxed all day yesterday, will write tomorrow. love Mom

My ‘Alone’ time this summer will allow me to do a lot of things. I while try (but may not succeed) at completing half of my laundry list of things to do this summer. I am going to make a really strong effort. Probably stronger than I have in the past. (okay you caught me — I started this laundry list the 1st summer the kids went away. So far I have only done 2 things on the list) I am not organized and need real help in this are….I invite any suggestions from all of you….but my list includes cleaning out the garage, organizing my downstairs closet, cleaning out the kids closets, and re-organizing the kitchen cabinets. I know what your saying — “Carol, it is summertime…it’s time to come out of the closet.” But that is where the work needs to be done. Mainly because that is where I hide everything all year.

My alone time will also allow me to reflect on my circumstances. And not in a negative way. Since I was diagnosed, I have started this Blog — which thanks to you has over 3,200 hits! I have been interviewed for an article in the River Journal (a Westchester Monthly Magazine) that will come out on Thursday. (I can’t wait to see it!) And I was recently interviewed On Camera for a reality show about women with cancer, who are going through chemo. My friend Wendy was the person who told me about the show. While I am not sure that I am the “kind of contestant” they are looking for…It was a “really fun and cool experience.” And, I have some other positive things in the works as well…but this is for me to reveal in the future. As odd as it may sound…Life is good! The cancer and the treatment still suck, but they are here only temporary, and I believe these good things are just the beginning.

All of a sudden I feel like I am back at camp, where everyday, something fun is happening. And while most people don’t think cleaning out closets or cleaning out garages is fun…It is when you know realize about what other alternatives you can be facing. And, yes, every once in a while (actually, every 3 weeks in my porotocol) there will be a rainy day — we all know what follows summer rains — RAINBOWS. And the pot of gold at the end comes in September when I end treatment….And happily turn 50 (okay that is a lie – but go with it!) Because from that moment on I look forward and joyfully towards the next 30 (atleast!).

Enjoy today!

Carol
@funnycancermom

I hope you will check out my article thursday at http://www.riverjournalonline.com

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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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