Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Current mood: Emotionally Exhausted!
Well I survived another October and seeing PINK everywhere.
I am breast cancer survivor and I get the whole breast cancer awareness but everything does not need to be pink to get the message across.
I don't need pink measuring cups so every time I cook I am reminded of my cancer. OK who are we kidding I don't cook but that's not the point. I think we have gone way overboard with making everything pink.
Pink isn't pretty for me. Pink reminds me of a time in my life that I would rather forget. It brings me back to chemo and being sick and bald and losing a part of myself. That's not pretty!
I watched a movie last week on Lifetime called "Matters of Life and Dating". It came out last year but I was in the middle of my battle and wasn't ready to see movies about breast cancer. I started watching the movie and debated about changing the station but I'm glad I stuck with it. I swear the movie was written about me. It was scary. The movie is about a young woman who gets diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer and needs a mastectomy. She's single and it shows how she deals with dating after her surgery. It also shows the emotional roller coaster she rides. As I watched this movie, I cried and couldn't believe the similarities. Kudos to the writers of this movie. They really got it right.
I still can't believe next month is going to be the one year anniversary of my surgery. It's still hard to see myself in the mirror and I'm reminded every day of my scars when I put on my body lotion. The scars are fading but the emotions are still very raw.
I guess the point is that I don't need pink products to be reminded of breast cancer. I'm living with it every day.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Sunday August 24, 2008
Current mood: Sad to see another join the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer
Last week we all heard the devasting news that Christina Applegate had breast cancer. Not much information was released at that time. She did an interview with Robin Roberts, who is also a breast cancer survivor on ABC. I watched the clip from the interview and have read several articles about Christina's story.
I know it sounds weird, and I don't even know Christina, but I feel a bond with her. I can relate to her story and know how it feels to have to make that horrific decision....do I take a healthy breast to prevent the cancer from coming back.
I had a bi-lateral mastectomy back in November of 2007. Making that decision was a difficult one. I also was tested for the BRAC gene. See I have no family history. My Mom was adopted, so I didn't know at the time if Breast Cancer ran in our family. The results for the test took about 3-4 weeks. They were long, sleepless weeks! The good news is I tested negative for the gene. Thank God!
In the time that I was waiting for those results, I had made my decision. I was taking the healthy breast too. My cancer was very aggressive! My tumor was 6 cm. That's huge! They estimated that the tumor was probably growing in me for about 2 years. The way the tumor was growing there was no way for me to feel it until it got to this size. It was growing up and in me, away from the surface where you would be able to detect it with a self breast exam. My cancer was also ER/PR positive and HER2 positive. I remember Dr. L saying she was stumped with my results. She had never seen someone with all three positive. HER2 positive makes up only 25% of breast cancer cases. Lucky me. With the results in all being positive, it made my decision a no brainer. I knew I didn't want to be back in another 20+ years fighting breast cancer again. I wanted to be done with it!
It's weird cause when I told my friends and family about my decision, they were all relieved. They were glad I was taking an aggressive approach and said that is what they wanted me to do but didn't know how to tell me.
Sometimes people ask me, if I have any regrets. The answer is NO. Taking the healthy breast was in my mind the right thing to do.
I wish Christina all the best in her cancercrapness journey.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Current mood: Elated!
Well today was my last treatment. My emotions were all over the place today and still are as I write this.
Of course I'm thrilled that my treatment is over, but sad to have to say good-bye to my chemo nurse, Helen.
It has been a long journey with many highs and lows and even some low lows. But I survived! Wow, let me say that again, I survived!
As I got my final treatment today there was another woman in the room getting hers as well. We exchanged greetings and she visited with her husband and I did my usual, buried myself in my People magazine. A little later, another woman entered the room with a friend. She sat in the recliner next to me. We exchanged smiles and said hello. Her chemo nurse came over and explained everything to her. I knew by the conversation that it was her first treatment. As her chemo nurse started the IV, the woman began to cry. It brought tears to my eyes. I had been there, I knew how scary the first treatment can be. You could tell she was embarrassed. The other woman getting treatment reassured her that it was going be OK and to just let it out. I smiled and said the same thing to her. I even told her that I had cried the whole entire time, my first treatment.
My first treatment seems so long ago, June 25, 2007. What a day. First I had to have my port surgically implanted. That was fun. I had to be at the hospital for 6 am. After my surgery, they wheeled me down to the Cancer Center. I remember sitting in the waiting room, looking at all the sick people. Was I really one of them? When they called my name, I went into the treatment room. My Dad came with me to keep me company. I remember the nurse explaining everything to me. I could hear her words but nothing was registering, I was scared shitless. After she hooked everything up and had left I started flipping through some magazines. I was literally just flipping the pages. I had no idea what I was looking at, everything was cloudy from my tears. I cried the whole entire 2 hours that I was there. And that's not even the worst part. The worst part was that this little old lady sitting across from me getting her treatment stared at me the entire time. I couldn't believe it, I still to this day can't believe it. I'm not sure why she stared. Was it the fact that she had never seen a person scared and crying or was it the fact that I was younger? Whatever it was, I didn't appreciate it. When my treatment was over I remember making my next appointment in Avon, which is a satellite office. I was never returning to that hospital and cancer center ever again! I walked so fast out of there, my Dad could barely keep up. Across the street to the parking garage I headed.
When we got home, my Dad wanted to stay and make sure I was OK. My stomach was queasy so I ate some crackers. At the time I wasn't sure if I was hungry or if it was nausea. That is something I never really learned. The difference between hunger pains and nausea pain. I later learned that night, that is was nausea. It sucked! I couldn't even tell you the last time I threw up. YUK! Welcome to chemo.
My first 4 chemos were the hardest. The nausea was unbearable. I was on three different meds for it and still popped Ativan like it was going out of style. WOW! Looking back is scary.
Losing my hair was one of the hardest things. I really thought I was going to be OK with it until it happened. At first I could see my hair all around the house and on my pillows in the morning. But the worst was the day I was in the shower and washing my hair and seeing the water rise in the tub and not realizing at the time that it was my hair clogging the drain. I remember running my hand across the drain and scooping up what looked like a brillo pad of hair. I started crying, you know that cry where you can't catch your breath and you think you are going to hyperventilate, that was the cry. And of course facing the mirror as I got out of the shower was fun too. That moment is when it hit me. I had cancer.
Well here I am today, still here and with a new head of hair.
Today at the end of treatment as my IV pump beeped, I started to get a little teary eyed. As my chemo nurse headed toward me and started to take the IV out, she said the famous words she always says, "take a deep breath" as she pulls the needle out of my port. Today I told her, that was going to be the last time she was going to have to say that to me. We both laughed. She gave me a huge hug and I thanked her for making my day a little brighter on my days of chemo, when I usually was in a bad mood.
I'm glad to have this chapter in my life come to an end.
And I thank everyone for helping to support me through my Cancer Crapness Journey.
I love each and every one of you!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
After experiencing a general lack of energy, Murcer was diagnosed with a tumor on Christmas Eve 2006, undergoing surgery at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Pathology reports later revealed the tumor to be malignant.
After being diagnosed, Murcer commented in an upbeat spirit, thanking fans for their prayers and warm wishes -- many of which were delivered in the form of letters and e-mails directly to his hospital bed.
"My heart remains true to Yankees fans," Murcer said on Jan. 24. "I've always believed you're the very best in baseball. It's your steadfast spirit that keeps me feeling so optimistic."
Born May 20, 1946, in Oklahoma City, Okla., Murcer played in the Major Leagues for 17 seasons, including making four All-Star appearances with the Yankees.
He was the only Yankee to play with both Mickey Mantle and Don Mattingly, and was arguably the franchise's most popular player of the era immediately following Mantle's retirement after the 1968 season.
As history shows, Murcer could not match comparisons to the Hall of Famer's lofty credentials, but he assembled an admirable Major League career.
One of his best seasons came in 1971, when Murcer led the American League with a .427 on-base percentage and ranked second in the circuit with a career-high .331 batting average.
After struggling with adjustments to Shea Stadium, where the Yankees played in 1974 and 1975 while Yankee Stadium was being renovated, Murcer was traded to the Giants in 1975 for outfielder Bobby Bonds.
He would be dealt to the Cubs in 1977, only to return and finish his career with the Yankees from 1979 through 1983.
Munson and Murcer had been close friends. As the Yankees returned to New York from Munson's funeral service in Ohio, manager Billy Martin suggested that Murcer -- who had delivered a moving eulogy for the catcher -- sit out that evening's game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Murcer disagreed, telling Martin that something was telling him to play, and that he did not feel tired. Dedicating his performance to Munson, Murcer drove in all of New York's runs in a 5-4 victory, slugging a three-run homer and a game-winning two-run single.
Murcer was also just the fourth Yankee to hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats, joining Lou Gehrig, Johnny Blanchard and Mantle.
For most of the last 24 years, Murcer had worked as a Yankees broadcaster, winning three Emmy awards for live sports coverage.
Murcer worked as a radio color analyst from 1983-85 before moving to television as a commentator in 1987, and also served as the Yankees' assistant general manager in 1986.
He helped the baseball family immensely through his efforts as chairman of the Baseball Assistance Team, which raises funds for former players who have fallen on hard times. Murcer was also the president of the Oklahoma City 89ers Minor League baseball club in the mid-1980s.
Murcer is survived by his wife, Kay, and two children, Tori and Todd.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Current mood: Tickled Pink
The funniest thing happened to me yesterday at work. One of the team sports associates came up to me and said he saw me on tv. I'm thinking, What? It couldn't have been me. He told me I was bald and if it wasn't for my glasses he wouldn't have thought it was me. I laughed and said I did an interview for some students at South Windsor High back in October at a Breast Cancer Walk.
So I went on line and looked up Student News on the Fox 61 website and laughed when I found the clip.
It seems so long ago that I did that walk and look at me with NO HAIR. Too funny :)
Bald is Beautiful!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Current mood: Sad and Lonely
It's seems like all I do lately is cry. I could cry at the drop of a hat.
I think it all started last week when my brother Dean got married. It was an event in our families lives and my Mom wasn't there to share it.
Dean wanted me to light a Memory Candle for her as part of the wedding ceremony. It took all my strength to hold it together as I lit the candle. I miss her so much and I know she was there in spirit.
I know my brother misses her too. I know he would have wanted to dance with her and I know she would have wanted the same. My Mom and brother were extremely close, let's just say he was a Momma's boy. I had the honor of dancing with my brother and I chose the song "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts. I cried like a complete baby while we danced. He was on the verge of tears as well, so he started cracking jokes and eventually I calmed down and then we laughed. I'm sure my Mom was watching and was proud.
But sometimes I get mad, I want her here with me. I want her to see all my accomplishments and I wanted her to be there for Dean on his wedding day. I tried my best to keep it together for my brother. I needed to be strong. I guess that's the role of the older sibling, but sometimes that role can really SUCK!
I guess I'm just emotionally drained. I have a great deal on my plate right now. I'm in the process of relocating and starting a new job. I'm excited but scared too. It's a big move! I just wish my Mom was here to help me stay calm and reassure me that everything is going to be OK.
I know you can see me Mom and I know you are all around me.....just know that I love and miss you very much.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Current mood: Proud to be Dean's sister
The first time I heard this song by Rascal Flatts, I knew it was the song I wanted to dance to with my brother at his wedding. The words are so powerful and so true. I wish him all the best in everything he does.
This past Saturday, my brother Dean got married. It was a beautiful wedding and he married a beautiful woman named Jennifer.
By Rascal Flatts
I hope the days come easy and moments pass slow
And each road leads you where you want to go
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you
And if one door opens to another door closed
I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile
But more than anything, more than anything
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there gettin’ where you're gettin’ to
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish
I hope you never look back, but ya never forget
All the ones who love you, and the place you left
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake
And always give more than you take.
But more than anything, yeah more than anything
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there gettin’ where you're gettin’ to
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish
I love you Dean!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Current mood: Outraged!
You are not going to believe this one. I am so outraged that I'm actually speechless. You have to read the following news story about a woman who got fired for shaving her head for charity.
Waitress loses job after shaving head for cancer charity
Ontario woman's father died of disease
A 36-year-old waitress at an Owen Sound, Ont., restaurant lost her job this week after she shaved her head to raise money for a cancer charity.
Stacey Fearnall said it was a 'pretty easy thing' to shave her head to raise money for cancer research, but was stunned when her boss fired her over it. (CBC)Stacey Fearnall raised more than $2,700 for the charity Cops for Cancer, a local fundraiser for cancer research.
Then the 36-year-old waitress at Nathaniels restaurant was laid off when she showed up for work earlier this week with her newly shorn look.
Up until a week ago, Fearnall had long red locks, but she said she made the decision to have her head shaved because she has a friend battling cancer and she lost her father to the disease.
"I felt like this was a pretty easy thing for me to do to raise money to help people," she told CBC News on Thursday.
She said she told her bosses what she was planning to do, but when she arrived at work at the restaurant practically bald, she said they sent her home and told her she wasn't welcome back.
"'We'll call it a layoff.' That's what he said," Fearnall said her boss told her. "'Spend the summer with your kids.' I call it losing my job."
Nathaniels owner and chef Dan Hilliard issued a statement late Thursday saying Fearnall did not advise him that she was planning to shave her head.
'I have worked for fine dining restaurants before and have never heard of someone with a bald head not being able to be a server. Does this mean that bald men shouldn't serve?'
"Mr. Hilliard had indicated that this is an employer-employee matter and such matters are not to be dealt with in the public," the statement said.
Her dismissal has already provoked an outcry from some in the community.
"You have to express yourself with your wallet," George Brechin said. "I won't be eating there in the future."
'It's not hurting anybody'
Rowena Pinto, spokeswoman for the Canadian Cancer Society, told CBC News her organization has never heard of something like this happening before in relation to any of its fundraising events.
"We want to underline that it's supporters like Stacey that enable us to carry out our mission," Pinto said.
Fearnall might have grounds to sue on the basis of gender discrimination, said Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Hall noted that bald men work at restaurants.
"If something were acceptable if done by a man but not by a woman, then there might be a basis for a complaint," she told CBC News.
Fearnall said she isn't sure if she wants to sue, but she doesn't think she did anything wrong.
"I think it's for a good cause," she said. "It's not hurting anybody and it doesn't affect my ability to work."
She said she is working at a new part-time job where her boss loves her new look and has offered her extra shifts.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Thursday, May 22,2008
Current mood: Excited!
I am so excited that David Cook won American Idol! The video is of him singing one his songs at the finale. It's called Dream Big. I think the song is very appropriate for him and where he is in his life.
But that message needs to be passed around and EVERYONE needs to Dream Big. We all need to chase our dreams. I learned that this past year after fighting cancer. Every day is precious and we have to embrace every opportunity and chase those dreams and make them reality!
My mom once gave me a saying and it's framed and sits on my end table in my living room. It reads:
The Voice of Adventure
There is a rawness and a wonder to life. Pursue it. Hunt for it. Sell out to get it. Don't listen to the whines of those who have settled for a second rate life and want you to do the same so they won't feel guilty. Your goal is not to live long; it's to live. Jesus says the options are clear. On one side there is the voice of safety. You can build a fire in the hearth, stay inside, and stay warm and dry and safe...Or you can hear the voice of adventure, God's Adventure. Instead of building a fire in your hearth, build a fire in your heart. Follow God's impulses. Adopt a child. Move overseas. Teach the class. Change careers. Run for office. Make a difference. Sure it isn't safe, but what is?
Right now I'm chasing my dream. Anyone who knows me, knows I love NYC and after fighting cancer last year I said, you know what?, I'm going to chase my dream! So I started applying for jobs in NYC and after June 4th (I go for a 2nd interview) my dream may be my reality. Keep your fingers crossed for me...
So Dream BIG! and chase your dream and make it your reality!
Lester's No-Hitter Inspires Cancer Survivors
Less Than Two Years After Lymphoma, Jon Lester Makes History
By AUDREY GRAYSONABC News Medical Unit May 21, 2008
When Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester took the mound for Monday night's game against the Kansas City Royals, 12-year-old Wil Vaillancourt of Marblehead, Mass., at first, could not be bothered to watch. Engrossed in his computer game, Vaillancourt only glanced at the television periodically to see the score.
Wil Vaillancourt, left, and Matthew Lowney, right, are two of the cancer survivors who were inspired by Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester's no-hitter on Monday.
But midway through the televised game, when Lester appeared poised to pitch a no-hitter, Wil's father, Quin, mentioned nonchalantly, "You know, Jon Lester is a cancer survivor."
Wil was enraptured. But his reasons for pulling for Lester may have been even more personal than those of the thousands of fans that crowded Fenway Park that night.
Wil has leukemia. For him, watching Lester pitch his way into the history books was particularly inspiring.
"I was surprised that [Lester] did have cancer, seeing how good he was pitching," Wil said. "I was surprised how he could be doing that."
The 24-year-old Lester, who sat out the end of the 2006 season and returned to the team last year after completing treatment, held the Royals to no hits in a 7-0 win.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Current mood: Happy
The nicest thing happened to me today and I want to share it with everyone and hopefully this message will get passed along...
My message is simply....smile. A smile can go along way and for me it has. A complete stranger smiled at me today and it so made my day!
I went to NYC today and on the train ride home, while I was standing ready to exit the train as we approached Stamford, I noticed a man look at my necklace. He then looked up and as our eyes met he gave me a smile. Why is this a big deal? It's a big deal because I wear a breast cancer survivor necklace. His smile meant so much to me.
In the past people would stare at me and it used to PISS ME OFF! They would stare at my bald head and make me feel like crap. Even as my hair grew back, I still got stares. I'm happy to say today that I just look like I have a short hair cut and no longer look like a chemo patient.
Now if people wanted to stare and then smile at me, that would have been OK. But that never happened.
I guess my point is that a simple gesture such as smiling at someone can really make a difference...
So to the man on 3:38 pm train from NYC to Stamford, I say Thank You for making my day!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Today was Livestrong Day and it was the best day ever!
For one thing it was a beauuuutiful day. Sunny, not a cloud in the sky and there was a light breeze and the temperature was around 70. Can’t ask for anything better than that!
The other thing that made the day so wonderful was that I didn’t have any doctors appointments or didn’t need my "every 3 week" treatment. How sweet is that! A day to do NOTHING, that doesn’t happen very often for me and I took full advantage.
Current mood: content
Celebrate stupid cancer in style! Survivors, friends and family, please join us for our 2nd Annual signature 'stupid cancer happy hour' social networking event in NYC. Complemantary cocktails, drink specials, chemo dancing, DJ survivors, special guests, raffles and door prizes. Come one come all. Stupid cancer. Survivors rule!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Current mood: Excited!!
I am so excited! I got an invitation the other day in the mail from Hartford Hospital inviting their cancer patients, family and friends to a party called Celebrate Life. Now I have to admit I usually don't like going to these things but when I saw who was going to be the featured guest, I said, "I'm there!"
David M. Bailey is going to be the featured guest. He is a singer, songwriter and also a young adult cancer survivor like myself. I first heard his music on the i2y benefit cd. The first song on the cd is his called One More Day.
The words to this song are so powerful. Here they are:
Don't let the grass grow beneath your busy feet
Don't let the grass grow above you when you rest
You've got one more day to get to where you're going
One more day to give your very best
Don't let the clouds forever block your sunshine
Don't let the sunshine blind you on your way
You might have years of tears put behind you
But right now you've got one more day
One more day when you can hold your children
One more day you can hold your wife
One more day when you can watch the grass grow
One more day when you can live your life
Don't let the cynics tell you they know better
better yet, don't let them talk to you at all
You've got one more day to prove that they know nothing
One more day to find your private call
Don't let your loved ones ever doubt your passion
Don't let your passion ever start to fade
I know how it feels to be so frightened
But right now, you've got one more day
One more day, when you can hold your children.....
I love this song! This song and all the other one's on the i2y benefit cd are so powerful. What also makes this cd so awesome is that all the songs are performed by young adult cancer survivors or ones touched by cancer in their lives. You can check it out at the i2y website, www.i2y.com Cancer Survivors Rule!
If you are in the Hartford area and want to come to the event. The details are as follows:
Hartford Hospital Cancer Program's Annual Celebration of Life for patients, friends and family
Featured guest will be David M. Bailey. As a singer and songwriter David will entertain and move you with his stories and songs of growing up as the son of a missionary family in Beruit, his life in Europe and his ten year survival from a brain tumor that changed the purpose and course of his life. The Master of ceremonies will be Scot Haney, WFSB weather personality and host of Better Connecticut. Scot's mother Marlene, will offer her survival story along with anecdotes on raising Scot. Live entertainment provided by Screamin' Eagles Jazz Band from Pratt & Whitney. A light lunch will be provided. This event is free and is being held at the The Learning Corridor, which is directly across the street from Hartford Hospital. RSVP by Friday, May 23, 2008 at 860-545-1888 or 1-800-545-7664. Directions and parking info. will be provided when you RSVP.
I will so be there, and I hope you will be there too!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Current mood: Relieved
Well I just got my pathology report back yesterday from my colposcopy and everything came back benign. What a relief, for the lack of a better word! The doctor doesn’t know what caused my abnormal cells. They think it is probably caused by the chemo. Damn chemo!
I also had to have an ultrasound of my ovaries. Now that was quite an experience. Here I am sitting in the waiting room, full of women who are all happy and excited to have their ultrasounds. Of course they’re happy, they’re pregnant. And here I am scared shitless, praying there is nothing wrong with my ovaries and I'm not having a recurrence of my cancer.
The ultrasound was shall we say, invasive. I know I have mentioned this before, but I am so sick of being pocked and prodded. Well the results came back OK. My doctor did find an area on my left ovary that is a “spot” of interest. She’s not sure what it is, but she wants to do another ultrasound in two months, just to make sure that it doesn’t get any bigger.
I’m happy, I’ll take those results! I can handle another ultrasound in two months and another Pap test in four months. I guess this is the life of a cancer survivor…
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Current mood: sad
The picture to the left is my favorite of me and my Mom when I was a little girl.
Well next week is Mother’s Day and it seems everywhere I go now a days I see a display for Mother’s Day. You hear advertisements on the radio and see them on T.V….Don’t forget to get Mom that perfect gift for Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is supposed to be a joyous day, right? Spend the day with Mom and tell her how much she’s appreciated. But what do you do when Mom’s gone? That’s the case for me and for me I find Mother’s Day to be a sad day. I usually keep myself preoccupied and this year I’m scheduled to work. I just feel I’m way too young to be without my Mom.
This will be my 4th Mother’s Day without Mom. I guess it has gotten easier over time. The first year was the hardest. Celebrating every holiday without her SUCKED! And I always thought that I shouldn’t be having fun, like I was supposed to be in mourning.
My Mom and I have had a rocky relationship, for the lack of a better word. When I was little everyone tells me that my Mom doted on me and that I was her little girl. But as I grew up and as time went on, this would change. See my parents were divorced when I was only 4, so I have no recollection of them being together. My Mom remarried when I was 6 or 7 and then my world changed when I turned 10, that’s when my brother entered the world.
I remember our family always being happy and then somewhere it all changed. My Step-Dad tells me it all changed after my Nana died. She was my Mom’s Mom and they were extremely close. I think they were more like sisters than Mother and Daughter. After my Nana’s death is when my Mom started getting depressed and along with that came her drinking. I never picked up on it when I was little, but as I entered High School all my Mom and I did was fight. I always thought that there was something wrong with me. I actually asked my Step-Dad after she passed away if he thought I was an “evil” child. He quickly reassured me that I was not and that it was my Mom’s alcoholism that was the root of most of our fights. Now let’s not kid anyone, I’m sure I was a typical teenager and had my little “attitude” moments, but I now know that the alcoholism magnified the fights.
Instead of dwelling on my Mom’s death and her disease; I try and remember all the good times we had, because don’t get me wrong, we did share good times.
As I get older, it just seems to hurt more and more, not to have my Mom around. I wish she was her to see all my accomplishments and share in my happy moments and even be there for me when I was going through my rough times.
Last year when I was diagnosed with cancer, I always wondered how she would react to my diagnosis. Would that have made her stop drinking, would she have been there for me? I’m sure she would have been there for me, but would she have been there sober?
I guess for those of us who have lost our Mom’s tragically, we must not dwell on the hurt but celebrate the good memories. So that is what I am doing this Mother’s Day. Celebrating and remembering the good times with Mom.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love and miss you.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
We all know that Side Order of Life got cancelled, but did you know that it has won an award? The cast and crew found out about the award the very same day the show got cancelled. WOW! It once again brings up the question, did Lifetime Television make the right decision? Congrats! to Side Order of Life and your award. The Television Academy of Arts and Sciences Celebration presents Side Order of Life with the "Academy Honors" because of the way they aspired to uplift the human condition. The video will be played at the presentation of the award.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Current mood: tired
I think I finally get it! A while back I heard Matthew Zachary on the Stupid Cancer Show refer to cancer as the gift that keeps on giving.
Well today was my fun filled day at the doctor’s office. I had to go for a colposcopy. Sometimes being a girl SUCKS! See a colposcopy is a test that they do if they find abnormal cells in your PAP exam. Yes, lucky me. I thought I was going to die today. The pain from the biopsy was horrific. Now I’m not usually one to complain but OMG! WTF! So after the exam the doctor explained that I will need to make a follow up appointment in two weeks to go over the results and at that point I should also have an ultrasound of my ovaries, just to make sure everything is good there too.
Like that isn’t enough. I found out yesterday that I need to get another MUGA scan because my echocardiogram that I had done a few weeks ago came back with some alarming results. My oncologist put a phone call in to the cardiologist and he recommended a MUGA scan. Now my oncologist reassures me that it’s just precautionary. She feels that the echocardiogram was probably incorrect and all my other MUGA scans were normal so that is why they are recommending another MUGA scan. The MUGA scan takes a much more involved look at the heart.
I’m trying NOT to freak out, but I just wonder….
All those drugs from chemo pumped through my body. Did they do more harm than good....?
Current mood: At peace with myself
Being a Breast Cancer Survivor can be a difficult title to wear. Sometimes I feel very proud and other times I feel very ashamed.
The most difficult thing for me, is something I have to do daily. Taking a shower and looking at my scars is an emotional nightmare. I look at myself and wonder how am I ever going to share this with someone else. Being single and dating sucks all by itself but adding breast cancer can really suck!
I heard someone say once, that they look at their scars as battle wounds. WOW! What a great thing. I think that’s what I’m going to do….
I am a Cancer Warrior fighting my battle. And Yes! I have battle wounds.
Sure I may have two fake boobs and one major scar from hip to hip that goes across my stomach from the reconstruction. But NO!, they are not scars they are my battle wounds!
I call my port my life line. Sure I get poison through this port, but without it I wouldn’t be here, that’s what makes it my life line.
Life is what you make it and staying positive is key and sometimes putting a positive spin on a difficult situation is the way to go……
I am fighting the cancer war and sure I have battle wounds, but most importantly I am going to win! After all I am a survivor!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Current mood: Emotionally exhausted!
Reclaiming my life after chemo has been very difficult. See I still need to go for a drug called Herceptin every 3 weeks. It is given through an IV via my port.
I have my Herceptin treatment at the same facility I had my chemo, so I feel like I’m stepping back in time…..to a time I would rather forget.
I hate the sight of those recliners with patients sitting in them getting poisoned. I hate the sound of the IV pump. And worse of all I hate going to the bathroom and smelling all those chemicals leaving my body.
I’ve been back to work for about a month now and getting back into the groove of things has been very difficult, but that’s a whole different blog.
I just feel like after my Herceptin treatment, I’m free. I don’t have to go back for 3 weeks. I go back to “normal” and start to live my life. And then BAM! It’s time for another treatment. Now I’m right back to where I started, back to sights and smells that trigger memories of chemo….it sucks!
I just want to reclaim my life and move on past all my chemo and its memories…..
The time will come, I started my Herceptin journey on August 28, 2007 and I only need it for a year. I know you shouldn’t wish your life away but I wish August was here already.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Current mood: tired
OK, so I'm not the terminator, but today was my first day back to work.
I have to admit I was dreading my return back to work. For several reasons, one being I had to set my alarm clock. Ok, that's something I haven't done in long time.....haha.
No seriously, I am nervous about my return. I know everyone is going to be happy to see me and me of them, but you know sometimes there is that awkward moment.....when someone doesn't know what to say to you. That's when I think one of the burden's of being a cancer survivor kicks in....we as the survivor need to make that person feel comfortable. It's funny, some people will ask questions and other's won't and that's fine with me. Like everything else in life, everyone deals with things differently.
I have a new store manager as well. All this change at once is freaking me out! Not only do I have a new store manager but we have hired new associates since I've been gone. I just feel like even though I've been with the company for almost 10 years, I'm going to be the "newbie" today.
It's that same feeling I get every now and then....Even though I had cancer, the world continued and continued without me....
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Current mood: disbelief
One year ago today is the day my life changed forever. It was the day I found out that I had cancer.
It's weird cause sometimes I feel like it was just yesterday and other times it feels like it has been much much longer than a year.
I have to admit, I've had some highs and some lows and even some low lows. It's weird cause I remember reading survivor stories and everyone saying that even though they had cancer they wouldn't change a thing. I used to think to myself. What the hell "good" is going to come of cancer. I can honestly say, I now know.
I have met some fantastic new friends along my cancer journey, people who I now love. I call them my cancer friends. Without cancer, our paths would not have crossed.
I've become very active in an organization called i2y or I'm too Young for this. It's a great organization geared around helping the young adults. I met the founder of the organization at a cancer conference in New York City, his name is Matthew Zachary. I am happy to say, Matthew and I have become friends. I believe i2y got me through cancer. Heck, without Matthew this blog wouldn't exist. I love this organization for two main reasons. One I didn't feel like I fit into the "sisterhood" of breast cancer. Hell I was only 35 at the time and we all know the average age for a woman to get breast cancer is 20 to 25 years older than me. Plus with i2y you get to meet young adults with all types of cancer, NOT just breast cancer and for me, I needed that. I was sick of talking about boobs! The other thing I love about i2y is the social events they have. During chemo I actually went to one, which was called a "Stupid Cancer Happy Hour". It was basically a social gathering where young adults affected by cancer could just hang out and talk. At this event I met a woman named Cathy Bueti. She is the author of a book called Breastless in the City. It's her story about fighting breast cancer. She was so sweet, she sent me a copy of her book. We have soooo much in common besides the breast cancer, it's kinda scary....in a good way. She helped me so much with my cancer journey. She and I had similar surgeries and reconstruction and she was always there for me, to answer all my questions and share her words of wisdom.
I strongly believe that your cancer journey is what you make it......
Being strong and as Lance says "Livestrong" is the key!
Know that you are not alone, reach out and find a support group.
Happy One Year to Me! Yeah Me!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Current mood: gloomy
Well it was just a matter of time….
I had a meltdown! Things have been brewing with me for a while. It started on Monday when I saw Dr. S. He is my plastic surgeon and also the doctor that did my surgery for my damaged nerve. Let’s just say my visit wasn’t very uplifting. He basically told me that my elbow may not ever get totally straight. And to top it all off he told me that my swollen fingers may never get back to normal and the nerve sensation may not come back either. There is also a part of my wrist that is numb and he wasn’t positive about that either. Needless to say, I left his office frustrated, sad and angry! Why is this happening to me, haven’t I suffered enough with my cancer? I’ve lost so much in such a short period of time.
Now on Tuesday, I had to see my favorite doctor…..ha ha, Dr. N. She is my oncologist. I had to have my herceptin treatment and lucky for me she wanted to talk about me starting to take tamoxifin. I asked her why I needed to take the drug. I had a double mastectomy, so it’s not like I’m fighting to protect a healthy breast. She told me it was to protect the other cells in my body where the cancer might have spread. I told her my lymph nodes came back negative and she said that it didn’t matter because I had my chemo first and there was no way of knowing for sure if it had spread to the nodes. I told her I had this conversation with Dr. L and she assured me that if the nodes where involved that there would be scaring. Dr. N said this wasn’t true. She also reminded me about how aggressive my cancer was and that taking the tamoxifin would be best. She did tell me that it was ultimately my decision. I told her I would try it, but if the side effects get to be too much, I’m stopping it. Five years is a long time to suffer with side effects.
She did her exam and that is when I had my meltdown. As she examined my breasts, she asked me if I had made my decision about getting nipples and tattoos to complete my breasts. I told her I wasn’t sure yet. What a personal question I thought and then I lost it, the tears just started flowing. As she handed me some Kleenex, she asked if I was depressed. I told her no, I was just tired and frustrated with my hand complication. She said I had been through a lot and that was understandable and the fact that I have to still come here every 3 weeks for treatment doesn’t help. It just brings back the memories of chemo.
So today I go and see my therapist Nancy. And yes once again I cry. She asked me, like she always asks when I see her, how are you doing? I told her about Dr. S’s visit and I thought it was negative and how I have to go back to work next week and before you know it, I’m crying. Here comes the Kleenex again. I tell her my fears about starting work and not being able to come to therapy as often. She quickly reassures me that even if I only come once a week, I will be able to have positive results. She thinks that I can get my elbow to be 100% and she said the nerves are still healing and they heal very slowly and to be patient.
I’m not really sure why I’ve been so emotional this week. Maybe things have been building up. I start work next week and I know I have some reservations about that. I have a new boss and I know that’s not going to be easy. My old boss knew everything; he was there from the beginning of my diagnosis. Speaking of which, I can’t believe it is going to be a whole year since my D day. This Saturday, March 8, will mark the day my life changed forever. Maybe it’s all too much all at once. I just hope the rest of my week goes better. I don’t have anything planned for tomorrow. Friday I have to have a heart scan. These are always fun. This will be my third one. I had a pre chemo and post chemo heart scan and now I need another one for my 6 month herceptin check up. These things always freak me out. You certainly don’t want to mess around with the heart.
Well here’s to better days ahead…..and NO MORE MELTDOWNS!
Monday, January 28, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2007
Current Mood: Disbelief
Say it isn't true! Today seemed to be like a page out of history...
It all started over the summer when I found a lump on Maddy's leg. I had so much on my plate at the time. I was going through chemo and had my good days and bad days. Of course the first thing I thought of was NO, she can't have a tumor too. It better not be cancer! I can't deal with losing my best friend. This is the dog that has been with me through all the rough times. Losing my Mom. Losing my Grandma. She's been with me through my cancer crapness. This dog has licked away so many tears her sodium level must be through the roof. I decided to just keep an eye on the tumor to make sure it didn't get any bigger. I have to admit, I forgot about it. I checked it the other day and I think it has gotten bigger. Instead of panicking, I decided to make the call to the vet. I love Dr. F., he is so good with Maddy and you can tell he is a real animal lover and I think Maddy likes him too. He checked Maddy out and then looked at her leg. This is when the story begins to sound all too familar.
Dr. F. told me that the tumor felt soft and moveable and that was a good sign, meaning he didn't think it was cancer. Hmmmm sounds like what my gynecologist told me when she felt my lump/tumor. Dr. F. took a sample and looked at it under the microscope. He told me there were fatty cells, which was a good sign. He said he was concerned about the location of the tumor and the fact that it was growing. He wanted to operate soon before the tumor got any bigger, so he would have plenty of margins. Hmmmmm sound familar, Dr. L. needed to get clean margins when she operated on me. It was all getting to be too much, I could feel my mind leaving the room. It quickly came back when I heard the word cancer. Dr. F. said he would remove the tumor and run tests to see if in fact it was cancer but he really believes it is just a cyst. Hmmmmm heard that before.
I'm trying to stay positive. Maddy's operation is scheduled for Wednesday, February 20. It's a good thing she doesn't understand what is happening cause I wouldn't want her to have those sleepless nights.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
I think that is what is happening with breast cancer. I’ve been fighting this disease since March 8, 2007 and let me tell you there is nothing pretty about breast cancer.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for breast cancer awareness, but I think the pink is some how camouflaging the ugly truth. There are many different stages of breast cancer and YES! women are still dying from this disease! Sure over the years there have been great strides in breast cancer research and like any cancer early detection is key to survival.
I think many people just think breast cancer is finding a lump and having it removed. Sure, that is the best case scenario but not always the case. And that is what I’m talking about when I say the pink ribbon is camouflaging the truth.
It wasn’t the case for me and many women that I’ve met along my cancer crapness journey.
Breast cancer can be devastating for a woman. Many women, like myself need a mastectomy.
This can be very traumatic and I just feel like people don’t get it!
I had a bi-lateral mastectomy on November 21, 2007 and for me this was a BIG deal! I lost part of myself that day. To me it was like having a body part amputated. Sure it’s not an arm or leg or something everyone is going to see but it is still a part of my body. Sure I had reconstructive surgery, but that doesn’t lesson the fact that my body will NEVER be the same.
I guess all I’m asking is that people look past the pretty pink ribbon and realize that breast can be and still is a very ugly disease.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Current mood: peaceful
A couple a weeks ago one of my friends, Cathy wrote a blog about her Grandma. It touched me so much that I’ve decided to do the same. My Grandma passed away on January 9, 2006. Instead of being sad, I've decided to remember all the good times we shared. This past year for me has been a rough one and I wished my Grandma was there to make everything OK, the way she always seemed to make things.
Looking back can be so much fun and yet painful at the same time…..
When God calls one we love away…to dwell with Him on high…the question we the living ask…is simply the word why…for we who love can surely give…reasons by the score…reasons they were needed…it’s all been said before…and yet, when God makes a request of us…we must answer His call…we’re only here for a short time…the great as well as small…He knows the burden each must bear…when He sends us great grief…but for those who believe in Him…will come greater relief…so when He takes a love away…and we must start with tears…He leaves with us the memory…of happy golden years…so it is we who must go on…because God deems we must…the whole wide world is in His hands…and in Him we must trust.
Copyright 1971, Gen. Fea. Corp.
I found this clipping in my Grandma’s bible. My Aunt had brought her bible to the hospital and I remember going to a quiet place down the hall from my Grandma’s hospital room and reading it and crying. As much as it hurt and still hurts today, this message is so true.
My Grandma passed away only 19 days after turning 90 years old. The picture above is of her at her 90th birthday party. I’ve dealt with death before but losing my Grandma was the hardest. I’ve never watched someone die before. My Grandma went into the hospital after suffering a mild heart attack. After about a week, the doctor’s were ready to send her home. That unfortunately would not be the case. My Grandma suffered a stroke on the day she was to go home. The doctors told us she would not recover and my Dad and his siblings had to make that awful decision, but it was my Grandma's wishes....
I remember spending as much time as I could at the hospital with the rest of my family. It was a difficult time for everyone. Anyone that has gone through this will understand when I say, I just wanted it to be over. I just wanted God to take her and not suffer anymore, even though the doctors had told us she was not in pain.
I remember having plans to go out with my friends to a hockey game. We had made these plans over a month ago. They were retiring some jersey numbers of some of our old NHL hockey team, The Whalers. I had told my Dad that I had mixed emotions about going. I didn’t want to leave the hospital and I felt as though I shouldn’t be out having fun with my friends. He told me that Grandma would want me to go and she knew how much I loved my Ron Francis and my Whalers. I decided to go.
Before I left for the game, I asked for some alone time with Grandma. After everyone had left the room, I went to my Grandma’s side and just started talking to her. She was so heavily medicated that I really didn’t know if she could hear me. I thanked her for all the wonderful talks we had and for everything she had done for me over the years. As I sat there holding her hand and crying, she turned her head and looked up at me, and a tear rolled down her cheek. She also squeezed my hand. I knew right then and there she heard my words. I knew at that moment that it was OK to go to the hockey game. My Grandma passed away a few days later but it was OK, because we had said our good-byes.
I have so many wonderful memories of her….
I remember when I was little; I would see my Dad on Saturdays. My parents divorced when I was only 5 so I don’t even have any memories of them together. But I do remember going over my Grandparents house every Saturday.
I remember when I would get to their house, I would have to find Grandpa and give him a kiss. Over time this became a game. Where is Grandpa? Is he in his garden? My Grandpa was Italian and his garden was his pride and joy. Was he in the screen house resting? Was he in the basement working? Among many things my Grandpa was a shoemaker, was he fixing a pair of shoes? Or could he be in the den watching TV or should I say watching bowling. That was something my Grandparents did together on a regular basis, they bowled. They belong to a senior league and I’m not bragging when I say they were both great bowlers. The trophies in the living room speak for themselves. No matter where my Grandpa was I would find him and give him a kiss and then I was off to spend time with Grandma. I always knew exactly where to find her, the kitchen.
My Grandma was the best cook ever! Every Saturday she would make us homemade pizza. Occasionally she would mix it up with “macaroni”, or as most people call it pasta. I would always get to pick what kind I wanted. I always picked the ziti or penne and Grandma would say the short ones were her favorite too.
After lunch, my Dad and Grandpa would go into the den and watch TV and my Grandma and I would talk in the kitchen as she washed the dishes. We talked about everything over the years. I would talk to her about my little brother and how it was to be a big sister and not an only child anymore. My Mom got remarried when I was 6 or 7 and my brother came along when I was 10. We would talk about school and eventually boys. As I got older I can remember talking to her about “Dallas”, the TV show. We would talk about last week’s episode and try and figure out what was going to happen next week. Oh yeh, who shot J.R.?
Once the dishes were done, the cards would come out. We could play cards for hours. When I was little, our game was “four kings in a corner”. I loved that game. As the years went on, I would graduate to playing “rummy” or “setback”, but four kings in a corner will always be my favorite. As we played cards we would also snack on something. Some of my favorite memories are making chocolate milk with nestle quick or eating chocolate pudding with whipped cream. I always loved the thick skin that formed on top of the pudding. And then of course there was Grandma’s most famous line….there’s always room for Jell-O. It’s funny cause even today at family gatherings we still say that.
Sometimes if the weather was nice, we would go for a walk. The park was only a few blocks away. We would play on the swings. And even sometimes we would walk to “Friendly’s” and get an ice cream cone. I loved our afternoon walks. I remember once we walked to a Russian Bizarre. My Grandma was Russian and I remember walking around and looking at all the memorabilia.
As I got older and after my Grandpa passed away, my Grandma eventually sold the family house and moved into a condo. I was very fortunate; she lived right down the street from me. Sometimes I would go over her house after work for dinner, and we would just talk. I remember once I decided to take an Italian language course, and she would help me with my homework.
One of my fondest memories was when she and I spent all afternoon making a family tree. First we did my Grandpa’s side and then we did her side. I loved talking and making the trees together. As we added a new person, she would tell me a story about them.
I also loved to talk to her about New York City and where she used to live and work before moving to Hartford. She used to tell me stories about her apartment in Brooklyn. She lived by Greenwood Cemetery and she used to tell me that she would bring the stroller through the cemetery and she loved to read the street signs, Angel’s Way and Heaven's Lane etc.
My Dad and I eventually went to Brooklyn to see if we could find her old apartment. We did and let me tell you it was the coolest thing ever. I was standing in front of the building and my Grandma was on my cell phone describing everything to me as I stared at it. Then she told me to stand in the middle of the street and tell her what I saw. It was a good thing the street wasn’t busy and so I did. It was so cool; in the distance you could see the Statue of Liberty. I had goose bumps through out our phone conversation. It was like she was there with me. Later my Dad and I took the subway to Avenue P to see where my Grandpa used to work as a shoe maker. We would find the building, but it had been turned into a party supply shop.
I could go on and on with the memories......such fond memories......
And even though this past year has been a difficult one I know I have a special Angel looking down on me…..I love you Grandma.