Tag Archives: funny cancer stories

Maturation


Yesterday was visiting day at my children’s camp. This is year number 4. I can tell you the difference between them this year and the years before was huge. Their whole demeanor was one of ease, and happiness and contentment. It was just so wonderful to be with them.

Frankly, in years past, In years past, I always enjoyed seeing them, but the day had a different feeling. The first hour was usually calming one of my kids down from the anxiety of us arriving. I mean talk about a bull in a china shop…We parents storm the camp much like they stormed the beach at Normandy all those years ago. We throw our stuff down, reserve our space for the day and then go charging to the bunks. (This does present a problem with twins, because my husband still haste part the car…but we work it out every year). I watch as parents push kids out of the way just so they can get to their won kids 1 or 2 seconds earlier than the next mom. I think Sasha Baron Cohen would have a field day using “visiting day” in one of his satires.

Anyway, even though visiting day was from 10-4…The 1st hour was getting the kids calm and the last 2 hours were spent calming them down for when we left… But this year my kids were totally different. More relaxed, more self assured, more, “go with the flow of the day”…and for the 1st time I have to say…Visiting Day wasn’t long enough. We talked and played and roamed around. It was just nice. and I thought why this could be?

Yes my children are getting older, and that is a big part of it. But I realized, they had “no worries” this year. As much of a relaxing summer it is for me, it is for my kids as well. Last year I had given Alissa’s bunk “THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT” bracelets.When I arrived this year many of the girls were still wearing them…which was lovely . Many told me how happy they were that all was okay now.

Later I ran into an old friend (really an old Boss…but he was a really good boss so I considered him both). And he new about my year last year, and asked me about the blog and about the foundation. I was touched that he knew all theta was going on. Throughout the day I ran into women who are parents of campers who asked about the blog and the foundation…and they were also followers…also very cool. Later the kids and I were sitting and talking. I mentioned how nice it was that people asked how I was doing…my son Matt said something that struck me to the core.

Mom we told everyone last year how hard you tried to make things seem okay…This year you are okay and things are easier…Their are other kids in camp who has someone in their family going through cancer now…and a few have come to us and asked questions. I tell them what you always told us…There are some bad days but mostly the days are really okay…and honestly, have family and friends who love me…makes everything sealable….

He said it in such a way that I was stunned at how grown-up he sounded. I was so proud to hear them talk about it this way…At the end of the day, the good-byes were tearless, but still warm and loving…They both were glad for the day, and look forward to coming home in 4 weeks. But are filled with happiness to stay at camp and “play” with their friends for 4 weeks. They are in a great place, and spend their days laughing and loving life…and this year not fearing what is going on with their Mommy.

Cancer is a disease that does more damage than you can imagine. Their are many, many great charities that are working hard to find a cure…It is the day to day issues that I chose to focus on though…the family, the kids and how it affects them is what made me want start this foundation. We can help each other get through it…Cancer is still a growing problem. My illness made my kids mature a little quicker than they might have (and trust me this is only in certain areas…I still can’t get hem to make a bed or clean a room). But all in all, Maturation is good.

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Filed under a day in the life, breast cancer blog, cancer - self esteem, cancer blog, Cancer Day to Day, cancer has a silver lining, Chemo Therapy, Facing Cancer with Humor, living beyond breast cancer, Mindy Grossman, strong women of westchester, the cancer made me do it

MORE OR LESS


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy

Carol
@funnycancermom

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

From Start to Finish!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Cancer — BEAT THAT!!!!

Enjoy Every Day and especially Today!

Carol

@funnycancermom

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

Past, Meet Present


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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy today

Carol
@funnycancermom

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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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Filed under a day in the life, a day in the life of a cancer patient, Andrew Ashikuri, breast cancer, Cancer Day to Day, Carol Abramson - Funny Cancer Mom, Humor, inspirational, motherhood, Uncategorized

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy today.

Carol
@funnycancermom

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JOY


I have not written in quite a few days, and that is because I have just been on a constant emotional roller coaster. I have dealt with happiness, sadness, angst, anger, nervousness, anxiety. In the end it all produced joy, but what a week to get through, OY! The kids have finished school and finals. (That alone has caused most of the ansgt, anxiety and anger. But that is such a big issue for my school district to face, and this is not the forum for it.) The kids had been picking at each other for 1 1/2 weeks already. It got so bad that they were fighting over who got to use the whipped creme on their chocolate chip waffles first (Homemeade waffles I might add). Even though I knew where all the emotions were coming from. It was driving me crazy. After they finished with finals they had three days to get mentally prepared for camp. Going for 7 weeks. And believe me they love it…but “leaving is the hardest part.”

The kids and I talked over the emotions. We talked about why leaving is hard. And, of course, we had to talk about why it is extra hard this year. Thursday night, as the kids got into bed I went into each room to sit and to talk with them. First Lissy. She told me she was a little scared about leaving me and what “if my summer was filled with me being sick.” How could she have fun if I am not well. (Okay, is she not the sweetest – when she wants to be, that is. Anyone who has a preteen understands that). Anyway, I explained to her that since I am already three treatments in and I still felt pretty good, that I am not expected (or hope) not to react much differently with the next few treatments. And as the end of treatment isn’t until September – which may be when I get the most tired- You will be home to help make me feel better. (and maybe clean your own room for a change — one could only wish). With the thought that she would be home to help, and that she believed “nothing will change” she was settled enough to drift off to sleep.

Then into Matt’s room. He is harder to calm. He is a wonderfully sensitive kid, but can let his emotions run wild sometimes. After talking to him, he also was worried. When he gets emotional, his worries and fears can go the extreme. I understand that; but the great thing about his emotions is that he can pick up on humor as easily as he can pickup on sadness, and well humor is My specialty! So with him I talked about what I would do everyday, and how I would do things to take care of myself. Things that will make me feel better and keep me strong. I promised him I would eat out every night for dinner – to insure I eat well; I promised I would walk the malls shopping every day – to keep my physical strength up; and if I was over exerting myself or tiring myself out, I would either go out to visit my brother at the beach in the Hampton’s, or just sit by the community pool – which ever would insure optimal relaxation. I told him he shouldn’t worry, I have every intention of pampering myself this summer, even if taht meant weekly massages, manicure’s and pedicures. I was determined! (My husband will be quivering when he reads this passage). And after I joked about my plans with Matt, he also seemed calm enough to drift to sleep.

Friday was a mostly quiet day until bedtime. Again Matt was weepy, but only slightly. Scott was able to soothe his nerves. Lissy was way more stoic. She was a little more stoic. As she gets closer to leaving she begins to get quiet and hold everything in. She is like my husband in that manner. She keeps it all inside. I wish she wouldn’t, and I wish Scott wouldn’t for that matter. But I will always continue working on getting her to talk about things. (Scott not so much – he is who he is) But with all that she was staill able to sleep.

Saturday morning we were off to the buses without an issue. We were there a little early; next year we will get there a little later. Matt got a little upset but much less than I anticipated and off they went. Alissa basically knocked me over to get on the bus with her friend; Matt wanted that one additional hug from my Husband for reassurance, and off he went. That is when the sadness started. “I mean really? MATT wanted the last hug from Scott? Really?” I thought I was the favorite parent!” But I will get over that too!

I know they will have a great time, and I know they love camp; so after the buses were gone and after a little sadness, and after a little tear was shed – came JOY. Party at my house I joked! But I did feel joyous! The feeling of Joy came from knowing that my children love me, from knowing how much I me love them, and them knowing I love them; and mostly knowing that they have learned that “leaving is not always a bad thing – and that I don’t plan on leaving in a bad way ANY TIME SOON!”

HAve a great day and enJOY!

Carol
@funnycancermom
or
http://www.riverjournalonline

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Filed under a day in the life of a cancer patient, Ashikuri Breast Center, breast cancer, Cancer Day to Day, Carol Abramson - Funny Cancer Mom, Chemo Therapy, coping with breast cancer, Facing Cancer with Humor, Funny Cancer Mom, inspirational, motherhood, Scott Abramson, support, the cancer made me do it, the power of friendship

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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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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Filed under Andrew Ashikari, Andrew Ashikuri, Ashikari Breast Center, Ashikuri Breast Center, breast cancer, Cancer, Cancer Day to Day, Cancer Vixen, Chemo Therapy, coping with breast cancer, Facing Cancer with Humor, Health, Humor, inspirational, motherhood, Positive Outlook Stories, Race for the Cure, stay at home moms, support, Susan J Komen Foundation, the cancer made me do it, Think Pink, ThinkPink, women's health

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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Filed under breast cancer, Cancer, Chemo Therapy, coping with breast cancer, Facing Cancer with Humor, Health, Humor, inspirational, motherhood, Positive Outlook Stories, stay at home moms, support, the cancer made me do it, Uncategorized, women's health

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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Filed under breast cancer, Cancer, Chemo Therapy, coping with breast cancer, Facing Cancer with Humor, Health, Humor, inspirational, motherhood, Positive Outlook Stories, stay at home moms, support, the cancer made me do it, Uncategorized, women's health