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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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Re-Tell Therapy


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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day and ENJOY!

Carol
@funnycancermom
and at
http://www.riverjournalonline.com

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I’ll Connect You Now!


I am definitely a tad more introspective these days. I believe it is a common occurrence during an illness. During quiet moments, I often sit and reflect on moments throughout my life. Moments that have had significance: Friends who have come and gone, friends that have left an impression, and those that still do. Family times of great joy and deep sadness, and the times I spend with my husband and children, moments of great joy, laughter and love. All of these moments are the connections that energize the fuse that keeps me moving forward every day.

Connections are key in today’s world. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is the phrase that comes to mind. And isn’t that the truth (except of course for Kevin Bacon, because for some reason everyone seems to be connected to him – you know Six Degrees and all). I look at my life, and those close to me really are connected to me in many ways. Here’s a few examples.

* A very close friend is 4 years younger than I am. She and I went to the same camp, Her Grandmother and my aunt lived in the same apartment building, and over the years we have found several other common friends and acquaintances. We were connected even before we met.

* Another close friend was brought up on the same block as my husband. She was in the same grade as his younger brother. Her husband and I are born on the same day at the same hospital (1 hour apart). Her Sister used to live on the same floor as my Aunt. And her sister-in-law’s 1st cousin is married to my second cousin. Totally Connected – by birth almost.

Connections happen for a reason. I have had friends come and go in life, and some I don’t give a second thought to, but some you feel the lose when the connection is broken. For example, I was 11 when my parents moved us from Riverdale to Westchester. It was a hard move for me. As a youngster, I wore big coke bottle glasses, I was tall, awkward, and not the greatest of students. I moved to a small school filled with pretty little girls and boys who weren’t the easiest to get to know. FRankly, this was as much because of my awkwardness, as it was due to their snobbery. Anyway after living there a year, a family bought the property next to us, built a home and moved in. Their were three children. Two girls (one a year older than me and one my age) and a boy. I was thrilled. The two girls and I become friends – all through jr. high and high school. We where never best friends, but there was a connection between us. We spent a lot of time at each others houses, and we were comfortable with each other’s parents and siblings ( a lot to say for my brother’s). All of this made our friendship an easy one to keep. I was friendly with both, but I probably had more in common with the older sister. It is the kind of friendship that was routed and real…you know, the kind that if you go several (20 years) with out speaking, you can pick up right were you left off.

And I realized that yesterday. The older sister and I worked in the same industry. She was always at a much higher level than I was. She was a children’s Talent Agent for film, television, broadway, and commercials. I worked with adults and only in commercials. After a short time at another agency, Beth helped get me a job at the company she was at. (connections!) Soon we worked together, we were roommates, and we shared a lot of the same friends. In this respect we may have been a little over connected. Beth and I are both strong personalities, so I am sure I probably said something stupid, or I interpreted something wrong. and as quickly as a fuse blows, the connection was lost.

That is until about 3 or 4 years ago. It was after hearing that their dad was ill. Hearing the news brought a flood of memories back to me. I immediately reached out to the family. LIke nothing every happened, they responded and a connection was once again established. We are not in constant contact, but any time any of us has reached out to the other, the other has always responded.

Yesterday, I had the chance to met her sister for breakfast. It was lovely to see her, and just catch up. She and her sister have grown up to be women I am glad to be connected to. They are independent, intelligent, beautiful and grounded. And of course I was intune enough as a child to see that with in them. With out them knowing, they made my life easier in my youth, fun as a young adult, and happy to know them again as I reach 50 (and beyond).

So with regards to the premise that “it’s not what you know, so much as who you know.” I say “What I know, is that Who I know – and always want to know -are people I share a connection with!”

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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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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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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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“IV” Treatment – Rockin’ The Roman Numeral Humor


Happy Cinco de Mayo, 2011

Well I think the Partridge Family sang it best…”Woke up this mornin feeling fine” .  Which is exciting considering I was expecting to be “less so”.    Anyway the treatment itself was not to bad or to long.  About 2 hrs from beginning to end.  The strangest sensation was when I was getting the Cyclophisphamide.  I felt like my nose, eyebrows and sinuses had fallen asleep and then started getting the pins and needles feeling.  It didn’t hurt, but boy was it strange.  Nothing like when some would inhale a white powdery substance in College — or so I am told!  But the sensation went away about 10 minutes after they were done administering the drug.  After that it was really quick, and off I went.  I felt a little odd the rest of the day, but I am no sure that wasn’t just a total let down from the adrenaline and fear that had been racing through my veins for the few days prior.  I will say I honestly didn’t sleep all night though — In college I used no-doze to stay awake when studying…who know that steroids were better.  The only good thing for me know is that I could have cleaned the kitchen all night (not to be confused with Eliza Doolittle’s I could hhave Danced ALl Night–her Dress & Tiara were much prettier than my pajama’s)

This morning I got up, got my kids ready for school, I went for a walk with my friends, did a little yoga (which is a new trend for me).got to do some really exciting new things…Well okay this part is a lie, I did the laundry, went food shopping, and straightened up a little (I mean a very little).  I somehow thought that with my illness came a little down time…Oh, if it were only that simple…The glamorous life of a stay at home mom just never ends…

While doing all of this exciting work, I got a phone call from my HMO.  When I picked up the phone I was ready from a fight, an argument about something but no, it was a nurse practitioner calling to check in and see how my treatments were going. I almost feel off my seat.  I was shocked how they knew I already started treatment.  Since it usually takes two to three months to get a check from them if I put in a claim.

I am told that the steroids they gave me yesterday are keeping my feeling stimulated…I am told they will only last for a few days, and then it is like a big let down.  This must be what Jose Conseco sees in them —  Actually I guess if I ever want to be a professional athlete I have to come clean….Yes, I have used steroids.  There I said it!

I hope tomorrow will be more of the same, but if not — only more fodder and fun for the blog…

Talk to you soon, and feel free to ask questions!  It is pretty obvious I think — I am an open book!

Carol

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Back Story



Finding out any bad news can be difficult. Finding out that you have cancer just sucks!  But life is funny – or so they say, so I have tried to treat each event with humor.  It is unfortunate that this is my second relationship with Cancer.  I was 20 when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease.  I was a Senior at Boston University, and for whatever reason I decided to finish out my Senior year, and be treated in Boston (away from family).  In those days Tufts treatment plan was Radiation (Liniac and Cobalt) and the removal of my spleen.  No Biggy – and for those on diets I lost 15 pounds.  I digress though.  About 20 years ago I became more familiar with the side affects of Cobalt Radiation (A type that is not used anymore).  Mitro Valve prolapse is one, colitis is two, under active thyroid is three, hair loss four, and…. wait for it….BREAST CANCER – I am 5 for 5.  And yet still find lots of many things to laugh about…so it is not all bad.  I have an absolutely fabulous husband (though I try to tell him that as little as possible — keeps him on his toes more!) and two fabulous kids that really make me laugh more than I make them laugh – though the competitive person that I am is always trying to one up them in that department!

So in October of 2010 my mom had found out that she had Mouth Cancer.  It was a 4 month blur between her surgery, her therapy and taking care of her and my dad (who has advanced Parkinson’s).  I know it sounds like such a sad sack life — but you misread this.  Would I wish that they were not sick — of course, but it has really brought my family together.  I am thrilled to have 2 brothers that really helped out.  Most siblings don’t have it where everyone does their par; but I was lucky, whether it was helping out with my Dad or just being there at the hospital with me and my mom.  They were great and I love them even more for it.

During her treatment I went in for my regular (though admittedly a few months late)  Mammogram and Sonogram/ultra-sound.  I get them at the same time (per Dr.’s since I was radiated to the chest area).  My appointment was at 9 a.m. and I went on with my day.  Oddly I checked my home answering machine, and heard the message from the Dr.’s office to call immediately.  This was February 14th – Valentine’s day 2011.  From that point my head once again began to spin Telling everyone first was more like ripping a band aid off a wound.  One mass email, quick and to the point.   This was the email I sent on March 14, 2011.   After this email, I allowed the fun to begin.

Hi:

Sometimes in life I feel a little like Debbie Downer, and I don’t mean to.  When we last spoke I was updating you about my Mom’s difficult bout with cancer and her surgery.  Miraculously she has rebounded in a magnificent way and that is so great.  She has been going through radiation treatment and only has 7 left.  Unfortunately with only 7 left I had to finally tell her news that I have been holding for the last 4 weeks.  On March 17th I will being having a Bi-lateral Mastectomy to combat Breast Cancer.  There is still hope that I will not need Chemo but probably will – which will start mid April.  
I remain positive and upbeat, and truly believe my outcome will be good.  Humor still remains my best defense…..I have been through this before (while younger and less savvy as I am now).  I know what I need to do, and I am willing to do it.  
I found it difficult calling you with this news because I really felt like lately I only deliver bad stuff.  But truly I am very positive about my prognosis. And I promise the next news I deliver will only be good. :-)
Love
Carol
Surgery went smoothly and without a hitch (well more on that later).  So I decided to send out another email.  This time I had to add my humorous take on the situation.  So on March 29th I wrote.
Well sometimes emails are bad news, but sometimes they are to update bad news to Good News, which is the goal of this email.  Before that I just want to again thank you for your caring thoughts and wishes.

I have begun to get some results back, and I am positive that the disease has not reached any lymph nodes.  Awesome!  Also we are pretty positive that the size of the tumor that had disease (not the size of the whole mass) was very small.  It is possible that the Mass size was larger do to biopsy swelling or other conditions.  
All great news.  My next step is to meet with medical oncologist’s to discuss the course of treatment (or not to treatment – as they said in the classics).  I still await the disease “personality”.  a set of tests that describe whether the disease is at a high risk or low risk to spread — as this info also ways in on the treatment type. 
But all in all good news, so today I celebrate…because I am drains free (or utters free as I call it)!  I will make my first attempt at driving — this is just fair warning for all to stay off the roads (well only if you are local because I can’t go far they say).  But once again I getting closer to again being the loving “wisecracking – yet oh so adorable’ friend’ I have always been – JUST PERKIER if you get my drift!.  And we can all go back to laughing it up…..
I love you all, and I am thrilled that you are a part of my life  — and that will continue for many, many, many, many, many………….!!!!!!!!
Love 
Carol
The the road was not as smooth as I had originally hoped, Some nodes no as clear as they should have been, it seemed where once chemo was out, it was now back on the table.  I didn’t want to tell everyone until I was definite.  On Monday May 2 I was definite, and asked to if they could also do another surgery on my Lymph Nodes.  I declined the surgery but agreed to start chemo quicker than I had hoped…so I wrote this email…
Hi:

I thought I would send out 1 email so everyone is up to date at the same time.
I start chemo therapy on Wednesday, May 4 at 9 a.m.  Yeah!!!!.  I am going to  try and go every three weeks (except when the kids are gone at camp — then to expedite the length of time, I will go every 2 weeks). If this works out I will be finished right around (or a little after) my Bday.They say the side affects are minimal.  Only a little nausea and vomiting, fatigue, hot flashes, and low immunities — so anyone with even the slightest cold, please stay away.:-) 
 Also I am not allowed to sit in the sun, so I will remain the whitest white person all summer long — yuck!!!!  Oh and another lucky thing, most people on this course of treatment gain 10 to 15 lbs — Yeah, how lucky am I.  So soon I will be moonlighting as the Goodyear Blimp.  I am told that working out, walking, being on the move is very important so you will all have to motivate me to keep moving…And I must, Must, MUST, drink a minimum of 2 liters of water a day — Double Yuck….
The saddest part of this all is NO ALCOHOL>>>>I think this may be my hardest task….No Wine, no nothin’ oy what am I going to do….
Love you all,
Signing off the Large, White, Sober, Whale
(formerly known as Ceeerol)

Today is my first treatment….Wish me luck!!!

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Filed under breast cancer, Cancer, Chemo Therapy, Facing Cancer with Humor, Health, Humor, motherhood, Positive Outlook Stories, support, Uncategorized