Tag Archives: Life Lessons
Okay, I am an up kind of person…and I usually see the positive in almost every situation. Today, however, I am taking a different approach…one, which I feel I have earned: It is the right to the bitch about the small stuff.
A few months ago, I had one of my final surgeries. While I was under anesthesia, I some how bit down hard on the intubation tube and cracked my front tooth. “It happens so infrequently”, the anesthesiologist told me, “but it does happen.” So straight from surgery my friend “SUPER NURSE AMY” drove me straight from surgery to the dentist. Dr. Lipari was so nice. He reviewed the mess my mouth was…(this was yet another bit of destruction the radiation from my early bout of cancer had caused…It really has been just the gift that keeps on giving isn’t it?). Anyway, he was as sweet as he could be…and let me know that I he could fix the tooth, but in all actuality I would probably need an implant. Yikes I thought, but had really put all that he said on hold…and went on with my day-to-day existence. That is until yesterday.
I have been on weight watchers for the last 6 weeks, and on Friday I was craving something crunchy. Trying to be good, I got an apple from the fridge, and took a bit. The moment I bit in, I knew I had done something wrong. I knew with this tooth, apples could only be eaten if I cut them into slices. No direct biting. Well it was to late. I felt that I had loosened the tooth. So I would call him on Monday so that I can go get it re-glued. I went on with my day, aware that it was loose, but it still was intact.
Anyway Last night we had dinner at Super Nurse Amy’s house. Amy and I got to enjoy the new H MART grocery store during the day, and then we all met up again for dinner. Our other friends Elaine and Joe were also with us. It was a great meal of Crunchy Noodles & Veggies, Panko Crusted Salmon, String Beans and Salad. YUM (just a little bragging about the food, even though I didn’t cook). After dinner we all sat around, and I was talking about my tooth being loose and how annoying it was. Then BAM! Mid sentence the entire tooth (post and all) fell out of my mouth. I couldn’t believe it. It was my front tooth…. so when I smiled you saw, nothing but air…I couldn’t have looked my back woods if I tried.
This morning Amy took me up to Dr. Lipari. He was so nice. He actually met me at his office on a Sunday Morning…. How many Dr.’s would do that. He has put the tooth back in, and re-affirment that an implant is needed….which I will deal with soon.
But after I came home, my friend Meredith asked how I was? And here is what I have to say to that question. (which I can’t really say but it is how I feel). Physically I am fine.
Emotionally though, I wish this kind of stuff would stop happening to me. I know that “this should be the worst that has happened to me” and it definitely isn’t the worst. But if you put it all together I have had enough of these “I could have been worse” situations. I don’t wish ill on anyone, but I could use a break from all of this. A span of “how lucky you are that this has happened to you vs. I am sorry this has happened to you.
I look at the luck my family has had with me getting all these things…I drastically lowers their odds of getting anything. In a family 1 out of 5 usually gets cancer (between me and my brothers I have covered their odds 2x).
I swear that this filling of being beaten down a little doesn’t last to long. But I thought you should know that even though I am up/positive 95% of the time. Even I have my down slides. And it is perfectly normal. For you Susie, going through the chemo and having the bad reactions, can make you mad…it is okay and all of those around you have to understand that you are allowed to have moments of anger or depression. You bounce back….
By the end of me writing this, I already feel better…. but I am okay that I was annoyed for the last 24 hrs.
And I guess that is what is important….It is okay to feel bad, or feel like it isn’t fair, or like you have had enough. But it is only okay to feel that way for a while…Then realize how lucky you are to be given the gift that you were given….Friends, Family, LIfe, and the time to enjoy them all….
I believe that honesty is the best policy. If you can’t admit to it, then you know it is wrong. Well I will admit it…Over the last year I got BIG. 30 lbs bigger than I was before Cancer. And it really sent me into a tizzy. I know how silly that sounds that my weight can phase me more than my health. But it can. I am the type of individual who cares about my appearance. Not in the “designer clothes” sense…just in my appearance. How that appearance is perceived.
It is along the same lines as when I lost my hair. I gave off the appearance of being “sick”…and even though I had cancer, I never considered myself “sick”. I may be generalizing, but I believe women feel that Hair and Weight are also personality traits — I mean a bad hair day can alter your personality for the day. Now, due to the cancer, I won’t have bad hair days anymore. No, not because I don’t have hair…because I do. But because the way it grew in is so cute, that I am going to keep it short and silver…A friend called me a Silver Fox the other day, and I liked it. So that part of my appearance is in check.
So lets get back to the weighty issue at hand. Weight. I am not here to say that I am obese, but I am large for me. My bones ached constantly from the additional weight they are carrying; I would loose my breathe easily when walking up stairs or exerting myself at a rapid pace. And my internist and cardiologist confirmed it…(and to think I call these two my friends as well) — I suffered from DECONDITIONING. Over-weight and out-of-shape for us laymen! As he said in the movie NETWORK…”I was mad as hell and I wasn’t going to take it anymore.” So off to Weight Watchers I went. That was 6 weeks ago. I have had good days and bad days on the diet but this morning I got on my scale (not their’s yet cause I wear clothing there…Thank god!) But on my Scale I reached 169.9 Lbs. That is down 13 LBs. 13 is my new lucky number. I have been doing exercise and dieting and it is really making a difference.
I was so happy when I saw that I went right down stairs and had a donut…JUST KIDDING! But I thought about it! I have 17 Lbs to go before I hit my goal…which honestly was the heaviest I had been in 10 years, but right know that weight will be fine.
So I guess, after my anniversary from surgery was yesterday (if you remember, I had re-named my double Mastectomy day “Erin go Brahless Day”) I didn’t worry about my weight during treatment (MUCH), but it has weighed heavy on my mind (& body) since…So I see this as another step in my recovery…
I will soon “Tip the Scales of Time” in my favor….and once again will be as “light-hearted” about this issue as I was about my cancer.
Even my puns have gotten a little thin….
Well I have been talking and talking…scratch that, I have been writing and writing to you for almost a year now. Wow! My posts have been read over 11,000 times…and that is pretty cool, as well. But I thought it was time to put a voice to these words and let you know what I am up to…Luckily enough two unbelievably talented photographer/videographers were interested in my story – so they have created this to help me launch my new Charitable foundation (My Mission and vision is below). Thank you all for being here with me!!! You inspire me!
My friend Audrey called me today, to say hi and check in. During the conversation she asked me if I was going to write a book. I told her I had my reservations about doing so – and gave her a few reasons. She said it would be great if I could share my story with others, because she found it so inspiring. I am not bragging, but I have heard this before. But every time I hear it I have the same reaction. Discomfort, awkwardness, and utter confusion.
I assure you, I am neither humble, nor self-sacrificial… I just don’t get it! Inspirational, why? Admirable, really? I have had cancer…twice? Not so admirable, believe me! If I was given the option, I would wish to “not have a reason to write a blog!”.so not so inspirational. What I do have is the desire to make it easier for someone else, after me. That is a maternal thing I believe. Didn’t your mother always say “If I knew then what I know now…” (Yeah, I know I hated when she said it too); but she was right, and that is all I am trying to do. Give someone in the future a little hindsight into my past!
Some of my Dr.’s have had patients call me to talk, and some friends have passed along my blog to friends, or have asked me to speak with a friend or relative. I am an open book. I don’t do it for admiration, or for adulation…I do it because I know how scary it is. I know what it is like to be young and diagnosed…I know what it is like to be old (older) and diagnosed. I have had full body radiation, and chemotherapy. I have had internal and external organs removed, (and yet I still gain weight! Go figure). I have definitely earned my credentials as an expert patient!
So for right now, no book! I would be happier if no one needed to seek this kind of information, the “cures” are still a ways off. In the mean time, I am here…to give you advice, or just to listen, to tell you a funny story, or an embarrassing one (of which I have many). I am who I am – and that is all I want to be – for now anyway!
Enjoy the day!
I can’t tell you how happy I am that 2011 is over. I was ready to start fresh. Of course a new year can present with a whole new set of issues…but nothing we can’t handle…
I made some resolutions, like everyone; and I hope to be able to stick with some of them…I want to lose weight, and get in shape, and get a job, clean out my garage, get organized, and I want to enjoy myself, and just continue to be happy and healthy. These are my resolutions — not unusual..I will make an effort to achieve each and every one of them….but I don’t think I will beat myself up if I don’t…Okay maybe I will but That’s Life — and isn’t it grand!
My daughter came home from school yesterday, she has the stomach flu! It really put a crink in my plans for the week. I had a Doctor’s appointment, and a million errands I had to take care of, I wanted to work out, but nothin’ is more important than taking care of her. She is ‘sick’, but it’s the good kind of sick. Sick that goes away in a day or two…and That’s life. And isn’t it grand!
A week ago, I was cooking and I went to grab a dish out of my cabinets. It was on the top shelf of a cupboard by my stove. I grabbed it, but unfortunately didn’t have a good hold on it and it plummeted to the counter — actually on the cooktop stove to be exact. And ‘poof’ cracked 1/2 the stovetop. I beat myself up for a day, because I really was so annoyed with myself…but after a day or two I realized…things could be (and have been) worse, so I refocussed on how to get the problem fixed, and again I realized That’s life! And isn’t it grand!
Tomorrow my dear friend comes in to town for the weekend. Along with her is her daughter (who is my daughters best friend.) They don’t get to see each other often…2 times a year at best — Though FaceTime certainly makes that easier to deal with! We have family plans all weekend, but I have made sure they will at least spend as much time together as they can. Because plans’ don’t always work out..That’s Life, and yes, isn’t it grand!
Life is filled with ups and downs. We get what we want, sometimes, and sometimes we are left empty-handed. We achieve our goals and strive to fulfill our resolutions, and unfortunately, we are not always successful. We dream big and want the best; and along with those hopes we can be disappointed. But take it from me, That’s life, and yes it is grand!
Here is to a Grand New Year!
I remember the saying “TIME FLIES WHEN YOUR HAVING A GOOD TIME.” I must amend that, because this year has not really been that fun, yet it has flown by.
Last week was my final Surgery; and today my bandages were removed and I am, at last, unencumbered. I am amazed at the speed in which 9 months has past. Yes, it was 9 months ago I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer: During that time I have endured 1 major operation and this past one, 6 months of Chemo Therapy, Hair Loss (even though it wasn’t expected with my chemo protocol), Weight Gain and broken tooth (well that is story I could sink my teeth into). But guess what, I am still Thankful.
I wake up most mornings happy that it is another day. But today I am struck by the fact that it is the holiday season. This is the time that we reflect back on what has happened in the past, and fix what is wrong or focus on what is right in our life. So today I thought I would share some of my reflections with you.
I am thankful for this blog that I created. It has given me a platform to talk and joke about the seemingly non humorous things going on in my life.
Daily I wake up and am Thankful for my dear friends — I am referring to you all as WE JAM. An acronym for your initials. You were there with me through out it all. You laughed with me and you let me cry on your shoulder. When I needed to be propped up you were my support beams. YOU WERE AND ARE MY ROCK(S)!
Since I can’t wish away the disease, I am thankful that I found it as early as I did. I am thankful my friends introduced me to a Doctor who, I believe, made the difference in how my future unfolded. He was (and is for future patients) a blessing.
And as of this morning, I am thankful that I am truly, completely, and totally DONE!!!! While I still have a few more weeks of healing…I have finished the last procedure regarding this disease. (I am facing my colonscopy in December – but that is because I am 50 and not because I HAD cancer – who new age would be a good excuse for something.)
These months haven’t been all uplifting. Their have been events that have altered my immediate world. Getting Breast Cancer has altered the way I look at things. I am not as lenient towards everything, and I am no longer willing to just sit idly by. If I feel I am being treated unfairly or treated harshly I will not stay quiet. I have faced cancer twice, and if I have been able to stand up to that — so, you better believe I am going to stand up to anyone or anything that tries to make me feel that I am undeserving.
So tomorrow I wake up, the day before the holiday season officially starts, chin up, as the chemo over, newly coiffed, CANCER FREE CAROL….who thinks the last year just flew by like the blink of an eye. AND I AM THANKFUL IT DID!!!!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!
ENJOY AND BE THANKFUL
I know that I have not written in a week or two. I admit that I am a little defensive about it as well. I have grown to love writing. Which is somewhat of a shock — and any of you that know me from high school will agree. See I was not the student (actually I was a student with Dyslexia), and anything to do with Reading and Writing usually sent me into a seemingly never-ending state of frustration and misery. Honestly, I don’t really think I learned how to read and write until 6th grade. But what I lacked in reading and writing ability — I certainly made up or with my ability to emote.
As my twins have become tweens, I am reminded (constantly) that all teenagers and young adults are passionate about their beliefs and feelings. And that these beliefs stated about everything and anything: From how much one hates vegatables to how much she loves the male lead in the new movie “FOOTLOOSE.” As with my childhood, if they are was happy they exude was a kind of euphoria, and if they are sad they would sob about how it is the worst day ever. As a child with a disability, I gave my emotions everything (as do my kids). It was my release or my way of telling everyone how I was doing. After years of tutors, and just trying to catch up, I think I finally did. And now, as you all read, I use my words to emote; well not totally true, my kids say I am still a yeller at times – but that is just motherhood I think. Who wouldn’t yell when the kids decide to take their new clothes roll and crumple them into a ball. Then shove them in their closets because “it saves room and I can fit more stuff in there…like my football and basketball!…REALLY! OOPS, sorry their I go emoting again.
Back to my original point, family and friends have asked “why are you not writing anymore”….and I am still writing – it was just a 1 1/2 week hiatus. In that time I was asked to broaden my scope a little, and write an article for a local paper. I know I sound a little defensive about my writing, and that is because I am. I am not sure how you will all feel about it now, that I am “cancer free”. Up until know I have been able to relate everything back to my experience with cancer and chemo. Which I still want to do; but I also want to talk about other things now. Frankly, some of these things are brought on by the fact that I am a 2x cancer survivor – but some of these things are just part of everyday normal life. And my quandry relates to the fact that the blog is titled “The Cancer Made Me Do It” and that I am the @Funnycancermom. So can I talk about anything I want to? Can I be just a funny mom who had cancer- twice? Well we will see, cause the blog will go on!
If you still continue to like it it is because I am good at expressing myself…but if you don’t just remember….THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT!
I don’t know if it is just me, but I have begun to notice an onslaught of “cancer articles” or press about amazing “cancer stories” lately. Last weeks NY Times Style section highlighted a woman and her fight against breast cancer. A few weeks ago the NY Times magazine cover was about a the woman who wrote “Crazy, Sexy, Cancer.” A few months ago, the NY Times also had an on cancer “etiquette” (What to say and what not to say to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer). I think the focus is both wonderful and disturbing on several levels.
This increase in public awareness is wonderful because it brings constant attention to a disease that, I believe, will one day have a cure – and not just for one kind of cancer but for all kinds. I mean who doesn’t know someone who hasn’t had, or has some “strain”. It is just a little scary to think how large a grasp this disease has on the world. And with October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, there have been a glut of publicity from various News outlets. I believe keeping a constant focus on raising funds for cancer research is hugely important, but I worry, a little, that all of this press may dull the “enormity” of the situation. I feel many of begun to say. “It’s too much already.” And because the focus of most of the publicity is about “celebrities or well connected individuals” – many just seem to ignore it. It seems that the press has forgotten about the “commoners”: The ones who are out there fighting the fight everyday; you know those that don’t have insurance, or don’t have help, or don’t staff to bring them to and from treatments. You know, “We The People” – not them – the “famous”!
I have written about “me and we” for the last several months. And I am glad to say that my message (about me and we the people) seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to what’s hot in “cancer talk” versus what’s not! In May I wrote about “cancer etiquette” (1 month prior to the NY times article piece; and 2 weeks ago I wrote about the Rivertowns response to Breast Cancer Awareness Month…www.riverjournalonline.com/villages/irvington/2047-whats-all-the-pink-about) – while the NY Times article came out today about NY’s response to Breast Cancer Awareness month. I have to say that I would have hoped that the national and international press would focus more on the “lesser known individual stories.” Stories like the ones that The Enterprise and The River Journal have highlighted. The local hereos and fighters. Because everyday is a struggle for them, and yet these people never stop believing in the positive and the hope. They do it all with out staff or without pomp and circumstance. They are also ahead of the curve, because they are and experiencing what everyone else is reading about.
So like our heroes in the armed services, these other everyday “we the people” should be congratulated and commended for keeping up the fight and forging ahead, facing adversity with a smile and doing something to help make the world safer…a place where the only cancer around is that of the Astrological Sign. That is what the press should be writing about- and I hope this blog is ahead of the curve again….let all the other press follow along….
In the Jewish tradition, the day of Atonement is one of the most holy days of the year. This is the day to admit to your wrong doings of the year, and apologizing for it will clean ones soul for the next year. Well I don’t have to tell you about the year I have had. And I think few would disagree with me when I say that I feel I have done my penance….But as I sit and ponder this past year, I feel that maybe in my haste, I may not have repented for some things that I have done. So I feel it is time for me to come clean….and tell the truth, and deal with the consequences of my actions.
As hard as I tried I couldn’t help myself. It all started when chemo started. I have often blamed the drugs for my straying off the path of righteousness. When I am alone in the morning I often regret my actions from the day before…But I can not seem to help myself. I try as hard as I can, and even today I have asked for; nee prayed for the will to make it right. It has been so difficult to come clean but even I know that I must, so here it goes.
It was me who ate the cookie from the cookie jar, yes me — couldn’t be you say — but on Tuesday I went for the ultimate in lie detector tests….WEIGHT WATCHERS, and they agree — It was me who stole all of the cookies, the cakes, and the ice creams from the cookie jar. And I am truly repenting for it – though I am telling you it was really tasty!
Thursday was one of those days that keeps you wondering about for a long time – especially if you have girls. My daughter and I were sitting around enjoying an afternoon together. She got a text and began to respond feverishly. “Is everything okay?” I asked. “MOOOOMMM!” she responded with the roll of her eyes and the genuflecting of her head, and I quickly realized that my daughter was gone and another child had taken her place. To all you Mom’s of girls out there, when did SYBIL become the characteristics of a “teenage” girl? I am amazed at the speed of which this transformation happens – it is truly supernatural.
Now I have seen bits and pieces of this coming for a while; and Yes, my friends have warned me of this plague…but REALLY, she just turned 12 on Wednesday…couldn’t I get a little break – you know like a week!. I guess I can see the omnipotent’s point. I mean I am cancer free, my hair seems to be growing back, my husband is still being especially nice, my primetime shows are back from summer hiatus – but REALLY couldn’t he pick a different kind of “hurdle to jump over next – something a little easier?
My daughter really is one of the sweetest girls you will ever meet, so when she flips to the Dark side, it really is shocking. So I have begun to formulate responses that could possibly bring my daughter back quicker. If only I could pull my hair out, but I barely have any yet to do that to. I could I just break down and beg for her to return – but nay I say – that can only show weakness. I could ignore it, but face it – where is the fun in that. I mean if I have to last through this time in her life, I might as well have a little fun – right? So that leaves me with my plan of action…Embarrassment. I think if the girl I birthed decides to switch into someone I am not familiar with, maybe I can make it so this other persona doesn’t want to appear anymore.
Today I plan to try it out. If SYBIL appears, I am going to hold her hand, and ask her to “skip to the loo” with me, and I am going to text her every minute to impart on her that most meaningful words of the TEXT world “I:)”. Maybe even wear short shorts and a tank top (Well I think that is just universally cruel so probably not that). And in the end I believe she will be annoyed enough that to make my daughter respond to me and not her evil other self…I hope!
And BTW (i just learned this means by the way) the text that started it all was from a friend who screamed ….”HEY” in a text – I mean the nerve of her friend to write that!!!
Smile and enjoy todya…
I think I will
It is a seemingly mundane question for most — but not for me! For the last 6 months I would have a different answer for you every day of the week. But all related to my chemo therapy treatment. Today that is a different story, yet I still have so many different answers to that question.
As part of my regular “chemo” cycle, today is not a good day. I am tired and my mind is somewhat scattered. I just feel Blah. My energy is not high, and I don’t really feel like myself. It is not different than any other Wednesday after chemo though — and that is oddly comforting.
But at the same time, I am elated. I work under the assumption that I will never have to go through this again, and this is the last cycle of Blah that I will have to endure. So I have been whispering this notion to myself all day. I hear myself repeating “This is it, I am almost done; This is the last two days of this yuckiness” And that brings a smile to my face. And a lightness to my shoulders — which had begun to weigh heavy lately.
I also feel appreciative and appreciated for/by all those who have kept me going these last months. But honestly I also feel overwhelmed. I feel I need to tell everyone how thankful I am for what they have done for me…Yet I don’t know the appropriate way to do that. I want to make sure that you (and everyone) knows how deeply grateful I am.
But mostly I feel happy. Just to know that I am done and I can move on to the next chapter in my life. I want to get back to living with out skiddishness, to having a day with out worrying about what the next day will bring, and I am excited for spending many consecutive days unconcerned that my future is not full. Because while I never let on that these thoughts were in my head — They were…but today I finally feel like I can let those thoughts go — and hopefully I will never have to think of them again.
So the answer to the question is
TODAY I FEEL LIKE my life is coming back…FINALLY!
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!
Yesterday was a day of great events. All were successful (both as a fundraising effort and a as a a “personal appearance”). During the day my friend Kathy had a day devoted to The race for the Cure. Her version was “A cut for the cure.”. She cut hair, and put pink feathers in kids hair, and every $ that came in that day went directly to charity. Awesome idea. I was so thankful for her creating a way to help me in my fund raising efforts for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Honestly, my husband and I thought she would raise about $1,000….Well how about she more than doubled that! AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME! She is a special lady and it was a really special day. At the end of the day she new I had someplace to be and she suggested that I wear my wig. I hadn’t done that yet…and frankly I was a little scared. I really didn’t kno how people would react (or if it really looked okay).
I always wanted to go to a movie premier where you walk the Red Carpet…and everyone is telling you “great you look”. It has always been one of my fantasies. Well last night I got the smallest, most miniscule taste of it and it was quite scrumptious.
Deep down I was happy to wear the wig. Frankly, I have become a little sick of wearing a baseball cap all the time. I look in the mirror and see the cap and it just screams back ‘YOUR BALD’. And though I am not done with treatments yet (8 days and counting)…my psyche is done! It reminds me of my last few weeks of pregnancy. By that time I was so ready to get these kids out of me, that I would actually hope for an early labor. I was cooked, backed, D…O…N…E…Done! Well the baseball cap phase is giving me that same feeling. I think that I will never wear a hat again after this (well I hope I won’t).
But anyway, last night was the “The Wig” premier — and no that is not a movie. So I arrived at my friends with my wig and my “Madonna” sunglasses. (She and I actually have the same exact pair). And,boy did my friends make me feel like a celebrity. Friends are great that way. Here I was, at this wonderful party my friend threw (it was her husband’s 45th birthday) and I felt like a star entering a room. The guests were all having fun, the food was great, the atmosphere was festive…I really couldn’t ask for a better place to “present the wig”.
Many didn’t know it was a wig at first (or didn’t let on). But my close friends knew — and what I saw in their faces was a true sense that the wig “fit” me well. By that I don’t just mean it fit my skull. It really fit my personality, my sense of style, and it was a compliment to me “upbeat” demeanor. I was really happy. Even though I left the party early – from sheer exhaustion, it was a really exhilarating night. One I will remember for awhile!
From Beginning to end yesterday was amazing…and to all I thank you…
As I said earlier…8 days and counting!!!!
This week I was introduced to a gentleman who represents a product with a “purpose”. It is a rare and unique concept – and done exquisitely…I might add. My husband, Scott has been an unbelievable advocate during my illness – and as an advocate to find sponsors for my Race for the Cure Walk Team. He has introduced me to Indy, the representative for Curvature Wines…and hearing the message behind this company has left me speechless…But my fingers still work, so I would like to tell you all about it. People that do good things and expect nothing in return deserve accolades greater than my blog, but it is a start!!!
Curvature Wine is a product of two kindred spirits meeting. Suzanne Pride Bryan, of the Pride family Vineyards in Sonoma County, and Cristie Kerr, Pro Golfer extraordinaire; as well as a lover of fine food and wine. Both women have lost family to cancer (Cristie losing an Aunt to Breast Cancer – and, luckily, her Mom has survived her bout with Breast Cancer). Together they have came up with a way to honor life while simultaneously helping to eliminate a disease that can indiscriminately take life away. Curvature Wines: They are exceptional my husband says. As one of NY’s “wine” guru’s he boasts about all the positive’s of this brand.
For me it is the purpose of the company that I so admire. One Hundred percent of profits is donated back to Breast Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Charities. How awesome is that to create such a high quality product and use the profit’s to find a cure for Breast Cancer. AWESOME. Honestly, it is like CHANEL or GUCCI creating a small line and giving 100% of the profits to charity.
I admit (full disclosure time) Scott’s store is the only store in the Tri-State area to carry it – but I am not talking about this to promote his store. I am talking about how awesome Cristie and Her Mom, Linda, and Suzanne are, and I don’t even know them. When Scott told Indy about me he (and Curvature Wines) jumped right on board to help me out, and to help me reach my fund-raising goal for the walk. Just so you know, between online and cash donations we are almost at $10,500.
Cristie’s philanthropic ventures are well known. Her Birdie’s for Breast Cancer organization has raised over $1.25 million. This money has gone to open the Cristie Kerr Women’s Health Clinic in Jersey City – 1t is the only comprehensive breast care facility in Hudson County to cater to “uninsured” women and men. To date they have helped over 1,600 patients. I hope to begin volunteering there when I finish treatments, and also give back. Another lesson of this Wine venture….giving back is curative and tasty!!
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to Cristie for her desire to give back!!!
Call me crazy, but yesterday I was practically “school girl” giddy. On Friday, I was notified that my 7th chemo treatment (2nd to last treatment) would have to be postponed due to the impending Hurricane Irene. The thought sent me into a state of depression fro a few days. I have plans, I have a schedule, and I am un-accepting of that changing. All weekend long I concocted stories in my head; stories to make ensure that if appointments opened up for monday (or Tuesday) I would be the first to snag one. I thought of the child care angle (though my kids are almost 12 and I have friends her were on call), I thought about being will to sit all day and wait for an open chair, and, of course, I thought about all out begging…I have no shame — I want this done with.
Well in the end I had nothing to worry about. Dr. Mills called me 1st thing Monday and said she was there to come on over. I may have to wait for the protocol nurses, but they would definitely get my treatment in. HORRAY! So my friend Elaine drove me on up. Hurricane Irene had done damage, but it also made the office uncrowded. I was up in my treatment chair by 10:30. My nurse today was a different one than I was used to, but she did an exquisite job finding a vein and drawing my blood. I was back in my mom’s car by 12:30! And for what ever reason I was up and perky all day (and all night – Man steroids really do keep you hyped up). I got home and had some quality time with my husband before the kids go home from their friend’s houses. I relaxed for an hour or so, and then I sat on the tennis court watching my son play with my husband, My friend Wendy and her son Daniel. My Daughter and her friend rode bikes and jumped rope (which I tried but realized at 50 – I mean 49 – my jump is a little rusty).
Usually by 5 or 6 I am ready to crawl into bed for the night but I was positively giddy. So the evening continued with a great impromptu dinner out with my friend Amy and her family. We sat outside on a gorgeous night, on the water, watching the sunset. I was feeling fine and famished (as usual). Was this feeling of jubilation from the breathtaking setting, maaaybe; was it because I had 7 done and only one left – Poooossibly; Was it because The support, love and warmth that has surrounded me through out this entire ordeal has lifted me to a higher plain of being…Ok really? But that sounded poetic didn’t. 🙂 But I do think that I have found a great combination of things to get me through all of this and change my life for the better. Since my 1st treatment on May 4, I realize I having a great support system – family, friends, and community; I believe that having a positive outlook on your time in treatment as well as what you hope to achieve after treatment is a must; that getting my priorities in line and keeping things in perspective can be hard but can be life changing; learning when it is time to stand up for yourself…and not back down has helped me find (and push away) the right Dr’s and have allowed me to ignore the negative influences during this period in my life; but most important of all.. I have learned to laugh at life and enjoy what is thrown at me…because after all this was only a short bump in what I hope to be a really long and full life. Full of love, laughter, family and friendship — and, yes, even some tears and sadness. With out one you can’t understand the other.
So here I am on the flip-side of my May 4th f=post titled 1 down 7 to go…
Today is 7 down 1 to go….
Hip Hip Horray!
and ENJOY today
What does it say about me that even though we are having a Hurricane in NY and just had an Earthquake — things are pretty good with me? Is that one of those HMMMM moments. I am thrilled that the kids are home. We have been spending a lot of time as a family — which I know will not happen as much once the craziness of “school” and “activities” start in two weeks. I have been taking advantage of every moment. Admittedly a little bribing needs to be done because unfortunately Matt has some of the same characteristics as Scott. (For example, today I took him clothes shopping – since he grew 3 inches at camp and his long pants are now board shorts on him. You would think I was taking him into a torture chamber. The moment we walk into the store – the eyes start rolling and e is already ready to leave. Oy!) The kicker is, after a few minutes he was totally into i — trying on pants and shirts, and putting outfits together. I was impressed. Later, when I said “see that isn’t so bad” He responded “it was torture.” Oh well, I still had fun.
My daughter (who could shop for a living) got her braces this week. The braces have made her a little uncomfortable, so she is staying a little closer to me than usual. I have to say that braces today are way different than when we wore them — you know back in when electricity was invented. Now there are only a few bands around the teeth, and colored rubber bands (that you can switch ever 6 weeks) – it makes me briefly jealous of the experience. Though lets face it — no matter what I wouldn’t want braces on again.
In the evenings, Scott and the kids have been playing tennis while I cook dinner. I know how June Cleaverish that sounds, but I love watching them from the kitchen window as I cook. I started playing tennis last year, but my surgery has put that on hold for a while. Seeing them play gives me the impetus to get back to playing once I am done with treatment.
The Hurricane threatens our plans for the weekend, but it will also give us more family time. Even if it becomes game night, or all of us squeezing together on the couch to watch a movie — I am looking forward to it. I know that the weather has put a kibosh on some of my friends vacation plans and I am truly sorry for them…But I am not upset about the impending storm. I know where my parents will be; I know my brother has landed safely in florida; and most of my friends are will either be home from vacation and/or haven’t left yet. So that takes most of the worrying out of it!
Next week I have chemo again and I am back to being reliant on others to help me care for my family….So, I say “bring on the rain” cause I have a family weekend coming up and it may be one of the last for a while….
Stay Dry and Stay Safe…and keep an eye out for the eye of the storm…But most importantly,
Many of you already know that I am turning 50 on September 18th. so I sent out this email to my entire contact list.
I am not trying to be pushy, but I really would love you to be a part of a very significant day in my life. On September 18, 2011 I turn 50; and on September 19th I will get my final chemo therapy treatment that will hopefully irradicate any left over signs/cells/remnants of breast cancer that may have still been left in my body after surgery.
The walk is important because it brings together other Survivors, Family members, and/or friends that have been affected by this disease. And as one community, we walk/run together to put an end to it!!!
I know that I have emailed already, but if you are walking with me I need to know as soon as Monday August 29th…for I am having T-shirts made for our team, and that is the deadline. To do that you MUST sign up online through http://www.komennyc.com, and search for the race page for team THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT. Their is a sign up charge and then you start getting donations by emailing it to all of your friends. If you have any questions please feel free to email me and I can walk you through it.
If you can’t make it to the walk, I hope you will support one of your friends that is walking, or support me by going to my race page and donating. I am shamelessly asking you to donate — make it a Birthday gift to me if you must….
Please log on and join or donate as soon as you can. And if you become a team member — start fundraising as soon as you can.
Thank you for all of your help.
I hope to see you on race day!.
Click here to visit my personal page.
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
Click here to view the team page for The Cancer Made Me do It
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
If you no longer wish to receive email messages sent from your friends on behalf of this organization, please click here or paste this URL into your browser: http://www.komennyc.org/site/TellFriendOpt?action=optout&toe=31c8fd68afe0f5ca6b25114ec2935f95
The response has been unbelievably heart warming. Even those who can’t make the race have found ways to be a part of my team. My friend Kathy (who owns Katherine Winters Salon) is cutting for the cure. On September 9th she is donating her profits to my team. So if anyone wants a haircut – aside from the fact that she is AWESOME at what she does – she is a woman with a gold heart.
You have heard the expression “it takes a village” I live in a great one. Wow what a great feeling — This is going to be the best birthday ever….And you all helped make it great. I am forever grateful and I thank you all. You are the ones who are awesome and who have inspired me…
With great love and respect for you all!