Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Sacred Ordinary

Listen to Sarah Morgann sing "When You Believe."

In this time of fear
when prayer so often proves in vain,
Hope seems like the summer birds
too swiftly flown away.

Yet now I'm standing here
my heart so full I can't explain,
Seeking faith and speaking words
I never thought I'd say.

There can be miracles when you believe
though Hope is frail, it's hard to kill.
Who knows what miracles you can achieve.
When you believe, somehow you will.
You will when you believe


The smell of sugar cookies baking.

When you ask your eldest son "Are you proud of your mama, turning lemons into lemonade" and he says "Mama, you turn shit into gold."

When you text your youngest son "I love you" while he's at a sleep over and he texts back "love you more."

Having an overdue heart to heart with someone you love, and though most of it is not what you wanted to hear, at least now, you know where you stand.

Helping plan a Napa Valley wedding with what is sure to be the most beautiful bride ever.

Two eagerly awaited twin girls, scheduled to be delivered by C-section on my Mom's b-day next Monday.

Two great handwritten cards received in the mail.  Like biting into something so so good it makes me giddy.

A dog who always has to give my port a kiss.

Even though you are wired from chemo meds, still awake at 5:30 a.m., you get to see the sun rise.

A text message from your favorite Kiss It Nurse, saying I make her day!  Girl, you make my day!

Loving something enough to let it go and being brave enough to finally do it. 

Bill Withers song "Lovely Day."

Discovering an alter ego in a red wig.

Stool softeners.

A new candle that smells like the beach.

Having a fellow cancer club member send you an email to tell you how much your blog made her feel better and laugh really hard.

Dry mouth mouthwash when you have a really really dry mouth.

Cheddar grits.

Going from no hair to three new looks.  The long one that looks most like my hair except I'm a brunette!  The perky, trendy Jennifer Aniston. The red Valerie Bertinelli as a spy.  Hair is good.

A cool bubble bath by candlelight when you are flushing and flashing.

When you are suffering from insomnia, and a late night text message arrives that says "love you deb deb."

When your chemo nurse sticks your port then says "You still with me girl?" and squeezes your hand.

Playing a song you wrote on the piano, and it says exactly what you wanted to say.

Living without nausea.

Despite your fear, you want to keep Mopsy.  Losing Flopsy is enough.

Pink beaded Candy's flip flops that make you look a little taller.

Taking a summer to read "Gone with the Wind" cause you don't want it to end.

4 weekly courses of Taxol under my belt.  8 more weeks to go till chemo graduation, then take this fricking meteor of a port outta my chest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Watching the doves drink and bathe in the backyard fountain, and their presence brings grace down from the sky and makes you feel as if everything is going to be ok.

Seeing how far you've come since your diagnosis, and feeling really proud of yourself.  Really proud.

This is my sacred ordinary.

This is my sacred life.

Somehow I will.

Friday, July 30, 2010

North, East, South and West

A few of the books I have read, and most specifically "The Betrayal Bond" by Patrick Carnes, have included this guided imagery exercise I thought might be helpful to you.  I am doing a lot of thinking about these, these days.

Get yourself in a quiet safe space.  Get out your favorite pen and your journal.  If you do not have a safe place, a great pen, and a journal, get on that, will you?  Come back when you're ready.

Write down "North." North is the direction of the winter winds.  Facing its challenges requires courage, endurance and resilience.  Ask your higher power and ask your quiet self, what are your challenges, where do you need to be strong, patient and resilient?  What do you need the courage to face in the direction of the winter winds?  Write it down.

Write down "East."  East is the direction of our glorious rising sun.  A new day.  A new beginning.  Genesis.  Ask your higher power and ask your quiet self, what do you need to start in your life and not put off any longer?  Write it down.

Write down "South." South is the direction of the summer sun and the direction of cultivation and growth.  Ask your higher power and ask your quiet self, what needs your attention?  What do you need to grow or heal?  Write it down.

Write down "West."  West is the direction of the setting sun and the direction of endings.  Ask your higher power and your quiet self, what do you need to bring to a close?  Is there someone you need to say goodbye to?  What have you been unwilling to end and you know it is time to end it.  Write it down.

Now gaze upward to the sky.  Look down and read over your list.  Read it out loud.  Let your soul take in what it must do.

Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what clearly lies at hand.  Thomas Carlye

I am working on mine.  I think it's a great exercise to do every six months.  First I am answering the questions.  My next step is to make a plan for how to take care of them.  Some are easy.  The "West" is really hard for me but I know, it's time.

"The glance of mercy." It's a Buddhist phrase, looking at others with acceptance and understanding.

I think first, you need to give yourself the glance of mercy.  If you can practice loving kindness and understanding and acceptance of yourself, the peace that comes out of that blooms into graceful compassion for others.

I am working on this.  The glance of mercy for writergirldreams.

At fifty-one, I am surprised to find it is still an integral part of my work for myself.

I don't know if it was the plan, but I surely know, this path I am on right now is the highest archaeology of self I have ever done.  Every day revealing my highest gifts and strengths, and taking me down to my knees to see my most vulnerable, fragile self.

You know when you are flying with your kids?  They give you the safety instructions and tell you in case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first, and then your kids.

This is the metaphor for my life right now.

Putting my mask on first.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Woman In Red

There are several great programs and classes offered by the American Cancer Society for cancer patients, survivors and their care givers.  I took advantage of one of them yesterday, a free wig for patients suffering from chemo hair loss.

At my local office, Kimberly showed me in to the small room with a vanity and mirrors and three large, floor to ceiling cupboards.  It was great to finally meet her.  Big hug girl!  She is the one who helped Husband get all the pins for the Mother's Day surprise.  She also mailed me several scarves I use all the time and the cute little hat her Mom crocheted for me. 

Kimberly opened door number one, several shelves of  blond wigs.  Door number two, all the brunettes. Door number three?  I will categorize as other?

I tried a couple of the blond ones, my usual color.  I look very washed out and jaundiced.  That is not the look I was going for.  One of the wigs I tried on was a short, curly platinum wig.  I saw my Mom in the mirror, looking right back at me.  Hello Mama.  Hello.

I am getting used to seeing myself as a brunette ever since getting the first wig.  It gives much better color to me right now.  I switched to try on what was behind door number two.  I tried one on that was very very short.  A cute cut that framed the nape of my neck.  I had never seen myself in short short hair.  I looked like Tinkerbell, in middle age, as a brunette.  Also, not the look I was going for.  It was very strange to have so much air space around my head and neck and face.  Too naked!  I tried different shades and lengths and then found one I liked that surprised me.

Thank you so much Kimberly and Brandy for all your help, and giving me the courage to choose, drum roll please,

a red wig.

Uh huh, yeah baby, a red wig.

I think I look like Valerie Bertinelli in it, well, pre-Jenny Craig chunky Valerie, not skinny Valerie.  The wig is very layered, shoulder length, dark brunette with highlights of strawberry blond and auburn and really accentuates my heart-shaped face.

I left there with it on, and lots of great brochures in hand.  Thank you again Ladies for all your support, encouragement, and hugs at the end.

I put my shades on.

I checked myself in the visor mirror when I got in the car.  Whoa, stop the presses, Valerie Bertinelli as a spy.  Or paid assassin.  In one of those made for TV movies.  Really, I'm not kidding.  That wig gives me a bit of a sinister, in charge, stiletto sexy look, and as if for sure, I am carrying a concealed weapon in my purse.  Really.  You should see me.

Me likey.

I think I need a name for her.  Any suggestions?

Did you notice my blog has passed the 2,000 mark for visits?  Claps for herself.

Hello Emily's Mama!  So great to talk to you.  Yes, I will be at the Relay for Life event on Saturday, August 7th.  She said I am considered a survivor and get a purple shirt and can walk the opening lap with all the other survivors.

Yeah, you're right honey, I survived hearing "You have cancer."  Now I want to be one of those survivors whose cancer is way way in the distant past.

One of the things the nutritionist said I really liked was they used to refer to it as "survivorship" but that still made it sound like you made it by a thread.  Now they are using "thrivership."  I like that.

Surviving is my baseline.

Thriving is my goal.

Anybody else addicted to Glee?  I am a recent convert, getting caught up on re-runs of Season One.  You see Rachel and Finn's version of Jordin Sparks' song "No Air?"  It's very Backstreet Boys the way it's arranged, but I loved it.  Listen to it.

I walk, I ran, I jump, I flew
Right off the ground to float to you
with no gravity to hold me down for real

Go Finn.

This chemo-induced menopause thing, some days it feels like the path to wisdom but you have to go through puberty again to get there.

Lord help these boys in my house.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stacking the Odds

I took a nutrition class at cancer camp.  The instructor was very informative, having been an oncology nutritionist for over twenty five years.  Thank you very much to The Wellness Community for all the great classes available to cancer patients, and specifically to Tinrin Chew, RD, CSO, the guest speaker, who works for Alta Bates and in private consultations.

I think you already know most of the common sense stuff about eating and living healthy.  Here is some of the latest and greatest info you might not know about, or is worth reminding you about.

Everybody has Lurking Cancer Cells; It's easier to Prevent than Cure
Every single one of us has cancer cells or mutated cells lurking in our bodies.  The nutritionist drew a very interesting graph where all these cancer cells were mixed in with the general population.  When the body is functioning at its best, these rogue cells are attacked and flushed out by your body's own defenses.  Most people who have been diagnosed have had something going wrong on a cellular level for 8-10 years prior to anything being recognized and diagnosed.  The point being, it takes cancer a long time to become "cancer" but once it has started, look out.  You may be in that window of things happening inside you, but you can seriously effect it with your diet.

That said, there are all kinds of reasons why cancer may have developed.  Environmental pollution or contamination of food.  Genetic predispositions.  Hormonal factors.

Stack the odds in your favor.  Read below.
 
Eat your Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower
Several recent studies have shown foods in the the broccoli family, including cauliflower and cabbage, are notorious cancer ass-kickers.  You should get at least 1/2 cup of one of these every single day.  If you have been diagnosed with cancer, up that to one cup per day.  Turns out the sulphur compounds in these veggies are cancer cell terminators.

The Importance of Good Fats and Omega 3's
Good fats.  You know these, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, flax oil, canola oil, fish oil.  One of the interesting things on the cancer horizon is deciphering why it's becoming so prevalent; is one of the leading contributors our ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3?  The cultures with the lowest incidence of cancer and other disease have a very high ratio of Omega 3 to very low of Omega 6.  This is some really important stuff.

Omega 6's, found in vegetable oil and soy oil and lots of our processed foods seriously affect your body's immunity and make the body more prone to inflammation, all of which make you more susceptible to disease.  Read up on Omega 6's and do what you can to reduce your intake of them.  You know the stuff, it's all in the center aisles of the grocery store and at your favorite fast food place, they put cheese and pickles on it.

Omega 3's on the other hand are not made in the body, but are essential to healthy, thriving cells, strong immunity and very low inflammation.  If you aren't eating salmon every day, supplements are great.  It's not how many grams you take, it's how high your fish oil supplements are in EPA and DHA.  Read the labels.  Buy the ones with the highest levels of EPA and DHA.

Many People Diagnosed with Cancer are Vitamin D Deficient  
Vitamin D is one of those really important things that a lot of us are very low in because of changes in our diet and limiting our exposure to the sun.  Interesting to note that many of the people diagnosed with cancer are Vitamin D deficient.  Keep it simple.  Take a Vitamin D3 supplement.  Or next time you have a physical, have your Vitamin D level tested.  Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D.

Top Cancer Fighting Foods 
Include these every single day in your regular diet for great health and turning your cells into cancer fighting machines.

avocados, beans and legumes, berries, broccoli family, carrots, fatty fish like salmon, flax seeds, garlic and onions, green tea, herbs and spices (like rosemary, turmeric, curry and oregano), nuts, olives, olive oil, orange juice, mushrooms (especially shitake), soy foods, tomatoes, whole grains, yogurt with active cultures, artichokes, prunes, apples, cherries.

Exercise
You knew this was going to be in there didn't you?  Besides all the reasons exercise is important, it really helps energize and turn on your lymphatic system, which is one of your body's main ways of flushing cancer cells down the toilet.  Move people.  30 minutes every day.  60 minutes if you are trying to achieve weight loss.  Are you listening writergirl?  yes dammit.  Aerobic exercise is not turning the cork in a bottle, and anaerobic exercise is not when you pull the cork out.  You listening?  yes dammit.

(Dammit Mikey)

Not that hard, right?

What do ya say?

Shall we give it a try?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Escape Velocity, Clenched Fists, Girl Spit, and Love

25,000 miles per hour.

That's how fast you'd have to go.

To break free.

Break free from the pull of the earth's gravitational pull.

How fast,

her former blond brain asks,

do you have to go,

to break free from cancer?

I think I need to lose some weight.  This body could definitely be leaner and lighter.

Mostly though, this brain, how do you get your thoughts lighter, all in the name of velocity?

Is hope light?

Is anger weight?

It is very difficult to maintain perspective when you are in cancer's gravitational pull, it requires so much of your attention and diligence.  You start measuring your life by the length of your treatment.  As if somehow your life has been suspended and won't resume again until treatment is over.  From these moccasins, this is how it is.

You can say all kinds of nice things to a person about looking ahead, staying hopeful, and this too shall pass, but I am here to tell you, when you are in the thick of it, it is so very hard to do.  Even when you are trying really hard.

I am trying every day to break free, to slowly shift what I can, and the only thing I can is how I think about what is happening to me.  I can't change so much of this, so much of this has already been planned for me.  Every day though, I try again to change how I think about it.

Break free.  Defy gravity, like in my favorite musical, Wicked.

Cancer takes a huge part of your attention and your day.  The only thing I can do is be very intentional and use clenched fists and girl spit when I have to, to take back as much as I possibly can for me.  Take it back.  Forcefully.

Take it back.

How does a person do this?  These are some of the things that work for me.

Walk.  Specifically in nature, preferably near water.  I'm not talkin about the high school track.  Get out on some path or trail where there are trees and birds and quiet, and water if you can.  Water is very good.  You put one foot in front of the other and you keep stepping.  It doesn't matter your pace; the longer the walk the better.  Get in nature.  Get quiet.  Focus on your breathing.  Move. 

Meditate.  Also, preferably in nature.  Find yourself some peaceful place.  There are a few places I go and still looking for new ones.  One of them is an old cemetery.  There are all kinds of statuary of angels and gothic crosses and I find a place to sit and I get quiet.  I get very quiet.  I meditate, which for me is focused breathing and trying to clear my head of all thoughts.  Every time you think, you just tell yourself "breathe."  You will find you can go longer and longer with wide open spaces in your brain.  Longer and longer.

Pray.  I say out loud "Help me.  Show me.  Forgive me.  Heal me.  Love me.  Guide me. Open me.  Soften me.  Strengthen me.  Hear me.  Hear me.  Hear me."  Then I say out loud all the names of whoever comes to mind, including my own.

Create.  Do something you are passionate about.  Something that makes your heart race and your spirit blossom and has a huge sense of urgency for you.  For me this is writing, words and songs.  Sitting down at my piano, or typing on a keyboard, is a sacred space for me. I am always pleased with myself there.

Help.  Help someone.  This can be as simple as being a force for good with as many people and animals as you can.  A smile.  A kind word.  It can be the smallest thing.  It can be the simplest thing.  It has helped me so much writing my blog and writing on some of the cancer message boards.  When someone writes back I have given them advice they used for chemo, or made them laugh, or they realized they aren't alone, WOW, I soar.

Forgive.  It requires so much energy to hold on to hurt and anger and disappointment.  Can you set yourself free?  Forgive.  For giving over to your higher power in order to set yourself free.

Love.  Oh listen to this, thank you mft, sent to me in a beautiful mermaid card bought at the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach.  I much rather would have been there with you, without cancer, but I'll take the card :)

Love, the Infinite

Love will be larger than all your lessons, longer than all your mistakes, sweeter than all the sad sorrows that life will mete out to you.  Love is what matters now; love is what will matter in the end. 

Daphne Rose Kingma

I re-commit myself to these things.  You are my witness.

These things that make me light,
so I can get enough velocity going
to defy gravity
and break free
from cancer's gravitational pull.

Walk.
Meditate.
Pray.
Create.
Help.
Forgive.
Love!

Defying Gravity

Something has changed within me

Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!


It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!

Killing cancer cells is the least of it.

Getting the gravity of it
out of your brain
is the tricky part.

Here goes...

 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reality Bites. Where's My Martini?

Husband nudged Robin and I out of the house today.  I've had the zometa flu for two days and Robin is just a homebody.  I really was not up to it.  I did not want to go out into the world after two days of no sleep, followed by two days of medicinal flu.  I put my clothes on.  and a wig.

We saw Toy Story 3.  Aw, there's the old gang!  Very good, just like Eli said.  I would like to protest though that they offed Bo Peep for Barbie.

Can you believe how long the previews are before a movie now, and all the commercials?

Anyway, we were watching the movie, I was thoroughly enjoying it, and then it occurred to me.  This is the first time in my life I've worn a wig to a movie.  I am wearing a wig watching a movie because I'm bald.

It's weird I tell you.  It's weird.

You would think three months in I'd have absorbed this by now.  It seeps in slowly, slowly, slowly, then startles you like the pop of a gun.

You ever been close when a gun goes off when there isn't supposed to be one there?  I have once.

Had just walked in to my local grocery store, the same one I'd been shopping in for years.  I paused to look at all the beautiful luscious strawberries displayed up front.  The produce section of my store is right near a branch office of a bank.  Just as I picked up a pint of strawberries, I heard a loud unfamiliar pop.  I glanced over at the florist counter thinking one of the mylar balloons had hit a light or something and exploded.  Then I realized the sound came from behind me.

I turned and saw a man with a gun holding up the bank.  He was in a hoody not more than 15 feet away, now facing my direction.  Then everything went into super slow mo, just like they say it does.

I froze and I could hear my own breath as if snorkeling.  Strawberries still in hand.  Do I turn from him?  Do I stand still?  Do I put the strawberries down?  Am I going to die today?

It's amazing how fast your brain can calculate.  There was a split second where I made an extremely difficult decision, to turn my back to him and slowly walk away.  I thought about crawling but I didn't want to be one of those people shot crawling away.  You know, that awful scene in the movie where somebody gets it at close range?  Bang.  I can't ever look.

I turned, waiting for another pop.

I started to walk.  Keep going, I told myself.  Still no pop.

I walked through the produce section, and it was surreal.  Here I was in this familiar place, everything as it had always been.  Look, there's the lemons and the apples and the grapefruits.  The avocado's and the tomatoes and the garlic.  Yup, there's the russets and the sweet potatoes and this is eerie.  Here I am in this place I've been hundreds of times, and everything is as it seems, except for the fact that a man with a gun has just shot a bank teller and my back is to him now.

This is how it is sometimes.

Everything is as it was, right?  Here's my house and my room and my bed.  My night stand still has my books and a candle, rocks, crystals and a purple blown glass heart arranged like a little shrine.

There is Campbell's tomato soup in the pantry in the kitchen, dog biscuits in a cookie jar on the butcher block island, and hummus in the fridge.

Everything is as it always was, right?  It all looks just as it was.

Everything except me.

I was bald with a wig on in a movie today.

I'm doing chemo.

I'm not working.

I've been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Holy crap.

I can't believe this is happening.

I keep thinking about that scene in Pirates of the Caribbean when Captain Barbossa says "You'd best start believing in ghost stories Miss Turner.  You're in one!"

She screams.

This is how it is sometimes.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday In Bed, Zometa Flu Part Two

Zometa flu.  What's a girl to do?  Why don't you do right, and make me a dry martini with vicodin stuffed olives?

Is that too much to ask for an achy achy bald lady?

Oh port, methinks thou dost torment me, a stone sunk in thine chest, tis tethered to thine heart.

Make it a double will you, and I'll stop the Shakespeare talk.

You ever read Mary Oliver?  You should.  Here, read some now.  Wait, make my martini first then read this out loud to me whilst I sippeth.

The Journey


One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

© Mary Oliver. Online Source

See writergirl.
See writergirl dream.
Dream writergirl Dream.
Now Run writergirl Run.
Save your life.

May I have the martini first?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Zometa Flu Blues

"If you are going through Hell, keep going."  Winston Churchill

Last Friday was my 3rd dose of Taxol.  Along with the additional drugs they put into my port to help me tolerate the allergic affects of the Taxol, I received a new drug that is given every six months called Zometa.

One of the side effects of chemo is bone weakness, and often when breast cancer decides to spread or metastasize to other parts of the body, it is common for it to go to the bones.  A study was done giving breast cancer patients an osteoporosis drug to help with the side effects of chemo, but an additional benefit was discovered.  The spread of breast cancer to the bones was greatly reduced.  The FDA has not officially approved osteoporosis drugs as part of breast cancer treatment, but they will pay for its bone strengthening benefits.

ScienceDaily (June 3, 2010) — The bone-strengthening drug zoledronic acid (Zometa) can help fight metastatic breast cancer when given before surgery, suggests research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.



When the drug was given along with chemotherapy for three months before breast cancer surgery, it reduced the number of women who had tumor cells in their bone marrow at the time of surgery.


Every day, tumors shed thousands of cells, which spread throughout the body and are referred to as disseminated tumor cells (DTCs). Breast cancer DTCs often lodge in bone marrow where bone growth factors help them survive.


Chemotherapy can increase bone turnover and bone growth factors, potentially exacerbating the problem of DTCs in the bone, which can resurface later to cause metastatic disease in cancer patients.


Bone marrow seems to be a DTC sanctuary, allowing them to adapt and disseminate to different organs, where they're a leading cause of death," says study leader Rebecca Aft, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery and a breast cancer specialist at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. "We believe that zoledronic acid inhibits the release of growth factors that help support the growth of DTCs."

Zoledronic acid is generally prescribed to reduce and delay bone complications due to multiple myeloma and bone metastases from solid tumors. Two recent studies showed that zoledronic acid improves disease-free survival when used along with estrogen-lowering therapy before breast cancer surgery. Estrogen-lowering therapy, like chemotherapy, potentially increases bone loss.

The researchers also found that of those patients who had no DTCs in their bone marrow at the start of the study, 87 percent remained negative after three months of combination treatment compared to 60 percent of those who received chemotherapy alone, a result that was statistically significant.

Zoledronic acid treatment with chemotherapy had additional benefits. Women in the combination group experienced significant gains in bone density after 12 months. This is helpful for breast cancer patients, who often develop osteoporosis as a side effect of chemotherapy and other breast cancer treatments.


The study also suggested that zoledronic acid may help fight certain types of breast tumors directly. Aft speculates that the drug may stop the tumor from making its own blood supply, modify the immune system in a way that makes it harder for tumor cells to survive or even cause the cancer cells to commit suicide.

Yeah baby, nothing I like to hear more than that, cancer cells committing suicide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Eff you back to hell bitch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When the flu-like symptoms hit this morning, it threw me; I had forgotten about the Zometa in my IV.

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking Zometa:

•Fever usually mild and short lived
•Flu-like symptoms; mild fever sometimes accompanied by malaise, chills, fatigue and flushing. Usually occurs with first treatment with Zometa only.  From chemocare.com

I have a very bad ache in all my joints:  at my thumb and that puffy piece of skin on your hand; my ankles; knees; elbows; all through my shoulders and in my back.  This evening I have a slightly elevated temperature of 99.6 I am keeping on eye on.  I finally had to take a vicodin tonight, which also means get out the laxatives and stool softener cause I sure don't want to go through the poop thing.  Don't forget, every time you have chemo, you have to take the stool softeners for a few days.

Thank goodness, I only have the Zometa every six months.  I'm not sure for how long.  I forgot to ask that.  I think it might be for some time.

I meet with my plastic surgeon, hello Duncle Dody, yes, your favorite girl!  I was very impressed with her website and of course my uncle's glowing recommendation of her.  I gave The Good Witch a list of other plastic surgeons on my plan for her to look over so I can see a couple of other people.

I talked to the lovely Good Witch about quite a few things on my mind.  I told her my first choice is to have my reconstruction at the same time as my primary surgery, and I'd like my plastic surgeon to recommend a surgeon.  I am really hoping I can do this.  I'd also like to do the tummy tuck.  Oh, I made an error naming this in an earlier post.  The TRAM flap is where they use the skin from the upper abdomen.  The DIEP, the one I want, is where they do the tummy tuck and use that skin to make new boobies.

Remember, my Duncle Dody said I will be like Pooh Bear, rubbing my boobies when I'm hungry and saying "I'm so rumbly in my tumbly."

During this time I have left on chemo, I am trying to educate myself and come up with all of my optimums.  It doesn't hurt to ask up front for what you want.  I know I will need to be very flexible.  That is one thing I have learned.  Nothing seems to go as you anticipated.  You have to be resilient and you can't plan too far ahead.  One day at a time.  It's really true.

Next week, I have a few things I am looking forward to.  I have a nutrition class with a top oncology dietitian, and an appointment at the Cancer Society for a free wig.  I am also heading back to swimming classes next week.  I need to start rebuilding my stamina.

Batman called tonight.  He is still on tour and the Blue Devils are in first place.  He has spent the weekend in Texas, with a show in Dallas on Thursday, Houston on Friday, and tonight in San Antonio.  He is very happy about having a free day tomorrow in San Antonio.  He hasn't done laundry in two weeks!  They will also get to hang out at the River Walk, which I have always heard is beautiful.

I know he's six foot tall, with a six pack and size 13 shoe, but he is still my baby.  "I'm a grown ass man mama!"  Yes, yes, I know.  I miss him so much.  Especially right now.  Check out the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corp videos on Youtube or at the DCI.org website.  They are incredible.  My Batman is the tall handsome one.  Hee hee.  Don't forget, he's a snare player.  We are so proud of him.

They broadcast the live quarterfinals from Indianapolis in movie theaters around the country on Aug. 12.  Of course we are planning to go and watch, along with Baby Bear and a contingent of Batman's friends.  I can't wait.

In other ecstatically happy happy news, Midge got engaged!  I am so so happy and can't wait for next year's Fall wedding in the Napa Valley.

and my friend the Cowgirl, should be having her twins any day now.  The "G" girls!

Great happy news.  Sometimes you get so focused into this cancer thing, you forget that good things are still happening out there!

Check out this wonderful video on Youtube that my friend mft sent my way.  Its called something like "Free Hugs in Sordino, Italy."  It's just wonderful.

I would like to do it.  I am a great hugger.  I'll let you know where and when I will be giving out free hugs.

Hope you are having a great weekend.  Much love.  Thanks for listening.

Oh one more thing.  I told you about how my nephew Wolfie messaged me with an "I effing love you" message in honor of my using the "f" bomb lately.  I guess he told his Dad, my bro about it, and this morning, my brother Ronald messaged "Have an effing great day!"  I laughed my sore ass off.

I told my bro "I guess I am trying to find a balance between positive trusting spirit, healthy fighting anger and comforting healing raw humor."

Thank you to all the ladies at the Network of Strength message boards who have supported me during my angry phase, and sent glorious messages that they were in stitches regarding my blogs.  Thank you Ladies.

I have always loved Richard Pryor.  Now his genius is resonating with me and I think about him all the time; how he turned wicked trauma, pain and suffering into hilarious poignant comedy.

Thank you Richard,

from one honky honky who loves you.





wgd

Friday, July 23, 2010

Danger. Curves Ahead.

What is destined will reach you, even if it be underneath two mountains.
What is not destined, will not reach you, even if it be between your two lips!
- An Arabic proverb

Hello Flopsy.  Hello Mopsy.  My two mountains.  Underneath you I will find my destiny.

I started growing them in the 4th grade.  I'm not kidding, my 4th grade school picture, two little perky boobies under my sweater, and a fuzzy ribbon as a headband in my hair.  I was humiliated and adorable at the same time.

Any idea what it's like to have a full rack by 7th grade?  It ain't easy.  Let me tell you.  The boys are disgusting and the girls are spiteful.  All cause of these two I was blessed with.

I was thinner in my younger days, and I'm not saying I was Dolly Parton, but when you are 5'2," ok fine, maybe 5'1," and you have a rack like Pam Anderson except it's real, it's not easy finding a cheerleading uniform that fits the bottom half and the lower half.  I did my best.  And even harder to find a boy who will look you in the eye.

You try running the President's Physical Fitness test in the days before sports bra's.  With the bleachers full of the boys' P.E. class hooting and whistling like at a rodeo.

Most of my life, I've actually been quite modest revealing Flopsy and Mopsy.  Well, except for that one summer my Mom and I spent at the beach.  Mom was a musician and got the job of a lifetime the summer after my sophomore year.  She sang and played the organ, as fine a lounge act as there ever was in her 60's teased hair and black eyeliner.  She got a job in Ventura, California, right on the beach, in what used to be the Holiday Inn.  On the top floor of the hotel, was a small lounge called the Crow's Nest.  That's where Mom played all summer.  The big name guests, like Frank Sinatra Jr., played in the large club down the hall that had a rotating pedestal so guests would slowly spin, watching the show and great views out to the beach.

Mom and I lived in the hotel that summer.  Can you imagine?  15 years old, living in a hotel on the beach, Mom works every night, and room service is your dinner.  Take a moment, think about it.  Uh huh. 

I bought myself a bikini that summer.  Tie-dyed no less.  It was and still is the skimpiest thing I've ever bought in my life.  Now mind you, I had been extremely modest regarding my body.  That summer though, while in Rome...

I have to admit.  I was hot.  Flopsy and Mopsy were at their best then.  Hot, perky and bangin!  I had one of those tans where I was so golden brown, except for the outline of my bikini on a tidy white butt if a Coppertone puppy had pulled down the back of my suit.  Very sexy.

I learned to surf that summer, taught by a local boy.  He was a surfer with wavy, beach water dirty hair with highlights and his name was Cody.  Take a moment.  Think about it.  Uh huh.

You ever been to a real life grunion run, where the beach is lit by moonlight and bonfires and little luminescent fishies?  It is pure joy and chaos and beauty.

That was also the summer I took a dare and crossed a train bridge right as the train was coming and jumped into the water below.  It was the most daring, death defying thing I had ever done and remained that way,

till now.

I got felt up the first time during my sophomore year.  That's when I realized the power of my boobs.  Could make a boy cry just touching them.

Nothing compares to the woman power of nursing my baby boys.  There is nothing like it.  Holding your little baby in your arms, feeding him from your body, and he looks up and gives you an evil smile and takes a bite.  Sorry Batman.  Hope none of your friends are reading this.  And of course Robin, he couldn't decide if he liked the booby more or his two fingers, so he'd switch back and forth while nursing.  It was almost like he was puffing a cigarette after sucking down his milky martini.

Flopsy and Mopsy aren't as hot and banging as they used to be, well, I take that back, they've been pretty banged up lately.  I still think they are hot though.  They have lots of secrets they could tell and if I have let you get up close and personal with them, you are as close to my heart as you can get, literally and figuratively.

As a woman, this woman, it is very hard and sad and fills me with such grief to think about losing these girls, two old friends that know everything about me.  Everything.

I will do my best to do what I have to do.  But I ain't going cheerfully.

Many of the times I felt my most beautiful sensual woman self, Flopsy and Mopsy were right there leading the way.

I'm just going to do my best to enjoy them while I can.  Stuffing them into a bra and adjusting them so both headlights point in the same direction.  Nothing worse than two nipples cock-eyed, one looking up, the other down.

I'm going to wear every cami I have, every lacy bra, every little spaghetti strap undershirt, and every tank top I have to show my gratitude and celebrate these girls.

Save 2nd Base.  A great name for a breast cancer organization.

If you can't save em, love em while you can.

I got the whole summer and into Fall.

Think I could still find a tie-dyed bikini?

Kiss my grits.

Better yet, kiss my tits.  While you still can.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Snow White With Cancer Sentenced to Anger Management

You are awful quiet out there.  You've been kinda quiet since I started posting angry.  Maybe I am connecting dots that don't connect because my nature is to connect dots.  I don't blame you.  I might be a little scared myself of menopausal Scorpio with cancer.  Yikes.

My nephew Wolfie texted asking how am I?  Told him better physically but working through some anger stuff.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  Told him the "f" bomb has become a personal favorite lately.

He texts back "Well, I  f#*k$%g  LOVE you!"

Thank you honey.  Sheesh I have my nephew cursing like a sailor.

Ok I know tomorrow my doctor will say no how no way, but I feel another period coming on.  This thing just won't go down without a donkey kickin baby got back fight.  There is this other worldliness that comes over me, you ever feel it just prior to?  Just a little too weepy, just a little too quick to react, just a little too close to the edge, and ready to howl at the moon.

If I had lived during the Victorian era, I surely would have been diagnosed with "hysteria" and goodness knows what contraption would have been used to cure me.

Female hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today no longer recognized by modern medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe. Hysteria was widely discussed in the medical literature of the Victorian era. Women considered to be suffering from it exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and "a tendency to cause trouble.    From Wikipedia

Let's see, faintness?  Only watching Kevin Costner in Bull Durham and The Bodyguard.
Nervousness.  Check.
Insomnia.  Double Check.
Fluid Retention.  Are you effing kidding me?
Heaviness in abdomen?  Muffin top, check.
Muscle spasm?  Only my tongue muscle ready to unfurl and taser any stupid man.
Shortness of breath?  Refer to faintness.
Irritability?  If you say one more time I sound cranky or I hear one more tape of Mel Gibson, refer to muscle spasm.
Loss of appetite for food?  Only that which I have cooked.
Loss of appetite for sex?  No available candidates due to muscle spasm.

and a tendency to cause trouble?

OMFG.
Check.
Double Check.
Check Mate.
Game Over.
I win.

Any questions?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Embracing What Remains

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower
We will grieve not, but rather find
Strength in what remains behind.  Williams Wordsworth

So much of this life is about loss.  I hate that.  I really do.  I am one of those holder-on'ers.  I am one of the last of the holder-on'ers.  I don't know when this started for me, I do know I was very young.

Maybe it was all the moving around we did, and so, I carried things with me from place to place.  Maybe this is how you think you deal with loss, surrounding yourself with things and papers and replaying the past in your head.  With all of this around you, you give the appearance that nothing has been lost.  Everything is right here.  See, it's all right here.  Even inside here she says pointing to her bald head.

It is not easy making the shift from holding on to things and people in an effort to convince yourself there has been no loss, to letting go and finding strength in what remains.  This is not easy for a holder-on'er like me.

I think I have said this cancer thing is a full time job.  All kinds of phone calls and appointments.  All kinds of papers to keep track of regarding your care and pathology reports and insurance and bills.  Today I had a fair amount of "business" to attend to, in order to attend to the cancer.

I did some positive things though.  Made an appointment with a plastic surgeon.  Signed up for some free classes for cancer patients.  Sat in the yard, watched an orange-chested bird bathe in my fountain, and a little hummingbird drinking from my fuchsia.

Life is fragile and amazing isn't it, like that little hummingbird today.

I have always been a holder-on'er, like a pit bull, and kickin like a donkey to keep from letting anything go.  Hee haw.  Baby got back, like a donkey.

It is not easy learning to loosen your grip, open your hands, and see your life there, fragile and amazing and realize you are not at the reins.  There are no reins.

Well damn, how do you hold on?

Maybe you don't.  Maybe you just throw your arms in the air and squeal with terror and joy.

Maybe you take your open hands and clasp them together and say a prayer.

Lord, help me let go and let you, then teach me how to embrace what remains.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mother May I? Yes You May.

It is not something you learn overnight, giving yourself permission to get really angry.  It seems so wasteful and self-pitying and dramatic, but I am learning its place and value.  Especially when you are in a fight.  I feel guilty when I get angry; years of obedient nice girl training I guess.  Protecting others from my feelings and my power.  I am feeling guilty about this stage I am in, and my usual nature would be to hide this from you.  Play the brave soldier or just tell you about the happy Snow White things.  I am very good at the happy Snow White things.

One of the why's when I decided to write my blog, was to give a raw and candid look at facing and dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis and its treatment.  Come What May.  There are times when honoring that commitment to myself is very difficult.  I'd rather write about things that make you feel good or inspired or make you laugh, like when the butterfly landed on my head.  If I edited myself though, I would not be telling you this story as it is and I think something really valuable would be lost.  The truth.

It is challenging though, being so self-centered and self-focused when you aren't used to that.  I struggle with those moments when I sit down to write and I think "nobody wants to read about this anymore, nobody wants to hear this stuff anymore, especially not the bad stuff."  I have to take a deep breath and stop thinking about you and think once again about me, and so I write another post.

I am doing this for me.

I do appreciate those who have come along for the ride as my fan club.  I really do.  I know you are there.

It feels as if I am entering a solitary place now, like when Christ entered the desert.  I suppose I will be confronting my dark side and temptations there.  My weaknesses.  Taking account of myself.

Some days I view this whole cancer thing as random.  An aberration.  An environmental hazard.

Other days this cancer becomes a metaphor.  Was I placed on this specific journey?  Or is the journey random and only becomes the metaphor as I deal with it?

I guess I will never know the answers to any of that.  This has never stopped me from asking and seeking the answer.  This is not always a good thing.

Is it better to question and look for meaning?  Or better to accept and place no meaning?

I don't know.

I do know I feel happiest when I keep it simple.  Like this.

Today I had lunch with Baby Bear.  I was a few minutes early, and since the salon where Goldenwings works is very close, I popped in to say hi.  She did not recognize me when I first walked in, then saw it was me in my wig, and we squealed.  We talked a minute and held hands and she gave me a brush for my wig, and I felt happy.

I walked to meet Baby Bear, and waited for her at the tea room.  Our table for two was set and ready to go for tea service, and had a lovely pink rose still tight in bud on the table.  Baby Bear arrived.  I have missed her presence since Batman has been on tour.  We talked like girls, and drank a tea called "Blue Lady," a black tea with coconut, strawberry and kiwi.  It was delicious.  I like sugar and cream in my tea.  We shared a delicious lemon cheesecake for dessert.

You have a beautiful face Baby Bear, your eyes are exotic and sad and I enjoy your company.  Will you teach me how to put eyeliner on like you do?  I never learned that.  I'd like to.  Baby Bear said she will come over and we can watch the Twilight movies together.  I'd like that to. 

This is what I mean.  Keeping it simple.  Keeping it happy.  Creating your happiness.  Yeah sure, the cancer stuff was still there waiting for me, but for awhile I forgot about it.  I took a picture of Baby Bear and I; I had my wig on.  We looked happy.  We were.  For awhile I forgot about it.  Maybe there were things she forgot about too.

I suppose there are always things in life that make you angry and sad and anxious.  There will always be tragedies and challenges.  No one is without these. 

Can I find a way to savor and be grateful for the moments of contentment and peace whenever they present themselves?

This usually comes so easy to me.  So easy.  I suppose now though is when it really counts.  Now is when I put my money where my mouth is.

Do I really believe in grace?

Despite this serious challenge, can I still find a way to savor and be grateful for the moments of contentment and peace whenever they present themselves?

There is a place for crying out about the why why why of the bad that comes in life.

I would just like to sing louder about the good things than the crying I do about the bad, no matter how loud the bawling and cursing gets.

Kitty called me today, my chemo nurse.  Just checking on me, wondering if I'd had a better week.  Yup.  Physically much better.

Hello mentally not so much.

Mother May I?  Yes You May.  You must.

Today is another day I showed up and kept on writing and telling you the truth.

Every time I do that lately, it is a victory.

Thanks for being there with the light on, waiting for me.

Here's to singing louder than the crying and the cursing.  That is who I would like to be.

Amen.

   

Monday, July 19, 2010

Where's My Hollandaise?

"When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.” Mark Twain

One.
Two.
Three.
Four.

God damned cancer.

My day spent in anger was not satisfying at all.  It was like eggs Benedict with no hollandaise, that's a fucking egg McMuffin.

And I had no china rose bowl to hurl and smash into the fireplace, with Rhett Butler as my witness.

"Sir," she said, "you are no gentleman!"

"An apt observation," he answered airily.  "And, you, Miss, are no lady."

The angry lady has never worked for me.  I gave it a shot.  Nothing satisfying came from my being angry.

Anger will sometimes be my State of the Union, hopefully as an observation and not in its clenches.  You'd be a fool when you are dealing with something like this, not to get angry and sometimes you have to let it fly.

and then

you let it pass

cause it's no way to live.

I don't know how I'm going to handle all this shit still coming my way.

I don't know how I'm going to handle it.

I just know

I will.

Cause that's how I roll.

I've always been a cheerful person.  I've always been an optimist.  Laughing and being joyful comes easy to me.

This has thrown me for a loop.  I don't even know where to start with this shit.  I've been doing my best looking for joy and "the silver lining" despite it, but I'm sorry, cancer is not getting a pass from me.

Cancer fucking sucks.

So there you have it.

Now what?

Now you cry and you get pissed and you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you keep going because there is not a damn thing you can do when in your heart you still believe,

life is good

and I am blessed.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

There will be a lot more swearing involved though, you can bet your bottom dollar on it.

I have Mark Twain's permission and I have cancer, and cancer fucking sucks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lemonade 5 cents

I can always tell when its the weekend cause y'all get real quiet out there.  I hope it was a good one for you.  I don't have a sense anymore of the weekdays or the weekends.  I keep losing track of the days, except for Fridays.  I always know when its Friday.

Overall I had a much better response to this last chemo, number 2 of 12, than the first one.  My incision site looks blistered though.  I got stuck in some anger today about that and a few other things.  I am not happy with how that incision has not healed properly, and how it looks.  It's ugly.  My port site had some pain and itching and burning today.  I will talk to The Good Witch about all this when I see her on Friday.  I am thinking I will chose a plastic surgeon, and get some recommendations for a new surgeon to do my primary surgery.  I don't have the confidence in my original surgeon now.

This may be an unfair assessment and it may be a mood; I will talk to the Good Witch about it.  I think when you are faced with a mastectomy, you have to have a huge amount of trust and confidence in your surgeon.  Given the trouble I had with my port surgery which turned into 2 surgeries, and the continuing problem with my incision site, I don't have that now.  I realize this may be unfair, but it is what it is.  I think I need a new surgeon and I don't think I need to justify that but I am willing to listen to an opposing view.

I know I am feeling better now because grief is giving way to anger, and anger takes energy, doesn't it?  This is what is rising up in me.  U ready for this?  Maybe now I will scare you.

I don't want to be on this path.
I don't want cancer.
I don't want a mastectomy.
Chemo sucks.
I miss my job.
I miss my hair.
Chemo sucks.
I want my summer back.
I don't want cancer as your second thought every time your single thought is of me.
I am pissed.
I don't want radiation.
I am angry I will need radiation and won't be able to get my reconstruction till probably months after my primary surgery.
I don't want Flopsy cut off my body.  Some of my fondest memories are of my boys nursing on Flopsy.  I don't know why they always seemed to prefer Flopsy but they did.
I don't want to stuff a fake blob into my bra to fill the cup.
I don't want to look at my body mutilated.
Even when my hair grows back, whenever that is, it will be short for a long time.
Was this random?  Is it part of a plan for me?
Am I being punished?

Damn, I'm not even a Catholic, not sure where that last one came from.

That solved nothing.  Anger is useless and circular isn't it?  Damn. 

So now what?

I don't know.

I don't know.

That's where I am.

Some days you just don't feel like turning lemons into lemonade.



   

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Moment of Silence

Tonight I'd like to ask everyone for a moment of silence in memory of the five flavors retired by Baskin Robbins.  Please bow your heads and place a spoon over your heart for:

French Vanilla
Caramel Praline Cheesecake
Campfire S'mores
Apple Pie a La Mode
Superfudge Truffle

That is just, sniffle sniffle, it's just, sniffle, so sad.  I hate change.  I hate that the only way to make space for new things to arrive, is to let old things go.  Damn I hate that.

May I have a moment to myself?



What a difference between last Saturday and today!  Hurrah!  I could not sleep last night, another night wide awake till after 4 a.m.  Woke up this morning feeling red faced, and my incision looked blistered.  Uh oh I thought.  The redness and flashing lasted most of the day, but never got any worse.  It did not go to my arms like last week, and by this evening I had started to cool down and felt pretty darn good for how little sleep I've gotten the last two nights.

It was a big difference.  I even cooked a 50's dinner tonight, right out of Ozzie and Harriet.  Meatloaf and real mashed potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli, a little steamed cabbage with butter, and a spinach salad with poppy seed dressing.  I almost forgot the mushroom gravy with a splash of Fess Parker Pinot.  Nothing like comfort food when you are feeling comforted by the change in weather!

I feel as if I have turned the proverbial corner, feeling so much better physically and mentally.  My lab numbers are showing signs of the chemo, some numbers that should be low are high, and numbers that should be high are low, but overall, what a difference without the nausea, dizziness, headaches, melancholy and three tequila floor.

It feels great, as if I am returning to some sense of my life.  I feel more like myself.

Looking back now, can I just say, that was terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  What a white knuckle rollercoaster of lows and lower.

Now I can really toss my pink cap into the air and hope I never ever in my life have to go through AC chemo again.

Ever.

Now where was I?

That's what it feels like.  Like I was sucked through some portal and into The Twilight Zone, and for weeks and weeks my life and my world became so small.  Small.  Small.  Smaller.

My house.  My room.  My bed.  Writing my blog.  Getting poked (and not the good kind).  Getting chemo.  Opening bottles of pills.  Feeling sick.  Feeling down.  Feeling really really tired.

My world became so very small and most of it was lived inside my head.

That's what happens when you feel sick, and tired, and sick and tired, you live inside your head.

I'm coming out now.  It feels great.

Peek a boo!

Here I am.

I wore my wig for about half hour today.  I looked awful cute, with my "hair" kind of pinned up and little wisps hanging down.  I got too hot though.  When you are bald and flashing and flushing everywhere, you can't stand anything on your head.  I do love my wig though.  Before putting it on, I brushed it and put some hot rollers in it.  Well not hot, just rolled it up cold.  Then I put the wig on with all the curlers in so I could feel at home, like I used to, like Frenchie.  I had a good laugh seeing myself in the mirror, wearing a wig rolled up with curlers on my bald head.

I think I looked like my fifteen year old self.

Sometimes I still kill myself, as in, make myself really laugh.

Do not underestimate the power of humor.

It can save your life while you are trying to save your life.

Also, do not underestimate the power of stool softeners while you are on chemo.

It can save your life while you are trying to save your life.

From Baskin Robbins headquarters:

We occasionally need to retire some flavors to the Deep Freeze to make room for our new creations.

Here's to stool softeners, a wig in curlers, feeling better, and the happy service of five flavors of ice cream going to the deep freeze to make room for something new and better.

Here's to looking ahead to something new and better, being grateful for what was, and God help me, brave enough to let it go to make room for a new creation.

Amen.

.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Go To Your Bosom

"Go to your bosom:  Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know."  William Shakespeare

Hello bosom.  Hello Flopsy.  Hello Mopsy.  Hello girls. 

Knock knock.

Whassup Heart?

It started out small, this little peaceful feeling returning in me.  I looked around.  Could not find nausea anywhere.  Checked the house. Checked the yard. Checked the closet and under the bed just to make sure.

I think it's safe to come out now.

The monster that was in this house and in this body and in this heart and cells and soul has given me a rest.

The monster is gone, and a a peaceful grateful joy that usually abides in me is coming around again.  Like a small little light that burned down so low, it is coming around again and getting stronger in me.

Whassup?

How you been while I was gone?  I hope ok.

Have I mentioned I say your names in prayer out loud too?  I do.

Sometimes the only thing that helped me feel better was saying your names out loud.  My family and friends, old ones and new ones, my coworkers and the people that take care of me, and the stranger angels that lovingly come to me.

I say your names out loud when the house is quiet and a candle burns on my night stand.  I say your names to lobby for you that the universe will be kind to you and put you on a gentle path.  Make your money and learn your lessons the easy way.  Not the hard way like writergirldreams.

Remember that pocket full of starlight I put in my pocket and saved it for a rainy day?

Sure came in handy.  A girl scout is always prepared.  I was a girl scout you know.

Thank God I stuffed the starlight that is me safely into my pocket while the monster visited me rainy day after rainy day.

I feel better now.  I am rising again.  I am getting my light back.

Had some glitches at chemo today.

Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, go sister

Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, go sister


He met Marmalade down in Old New Orleans
Struttin' her stuff on the street
She said, "Hello, hey Joe
You wanna give it a go?"

Gitchi gitchi ya ya da da
Gitchi gitchi ya ya here
Mocha chocolata, ya ya
Creole Lady Marmalade

Glitchi Glitchi ya ya da da
Gitchi Glitchi ya ya here
Mocha Taxol-lata, ya ya
Chemo Lady Marmalade

Menopausal Scorpio with cancer, Rising.  Wait, let me put my wig on and some lip gloss.  There that's better.

Chemo Lady Marmalade.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, glitches.

So remember that sunless sunburn last Saturday after the new chemo?  Remember the cold sores and the skin on fire and the port on fire too?

I told Kitty all about it today, and showed her my incision just below my port.  It's been 10 weeks and that damn thing still has not healed right.  It's just not right I tell you.

Kitty was concerned.  She called in some backup, another chemo nurse.  They concurred.  Needed to hold up chemo and talk to the Good Witch and make sure we could still proceed.  Good Witch was not in the office so Kitty texted her and we waited.

Hello Vonda girl.  So good to see you today.  Missed you.  Sorry I was such a pain in the ass when you were trying to take my blood pressure today, all talking and worked up.  Good for you shoving that thermometer in my mouth to shut my Tink ass up.  Lovingly of course.

Vonda don't take my crap.  She throws it right back at me.  Me likey.

So we waited.  Kitty was concerned.  She kept looking at my incision.  She just didn't like it.  It's been 10 weeks.  That damn thing should have healed by now.  It still should not be so ornery and tempermental.

I brought snacks today.  A banana.  When Batman was little he used to say "Banama?  Banama?" I also brought some almonds and those dark chocolate blueberries I told you about.  You get some yet?  You have to have snacks at chemo and drink lots of cool water.  This was my second time going by myself.  I think its good to stand on my own, but every now and then, this little debbie inside me gets scared and wants to sit in somebody's lap during chemo, and not that vinyl green chair.  I'm going to steal one of those chairs and burn it in my funeral pyre for chemo in the Fall.  I told you, look for the light in the sky, right next to the orange moon.  It's coming.

The Good Witch came back with The Word.  She had Kitty mix up my poison lifesaver a little differently, got me a couple new prescriptions and a slightly different plan for next week.  Also wants me to see the plastic surgeon to get that ball rolling.  Kitty said the plastic surgeon could look at my incision too.

It could be there is scar tissue from the first surgery under there wreaking havoc.  Who knows. I am just getting damn tired of it acting up.  I got the acting up covered.

When Kitty poked me today, she kind of massaged the port and tried to maneuver the skin from around the incision away from my port.  My port itself is much better, it has really popped up now, and you can really feel the topography of that Lego just under my skin.

The poke was much much better.  What a difference.

So today my pre-chemo cocktail had less dexamethasone (a corticosteroid) and less Benedryl.  I also got a prescription for Valtrex, an antiviral for the cold sores.  Kitty said I may still get the sunburn redness reaction to the Taxol but just keep an eye on it.  Call in over the weekend if I get a fever or start blistering or my palms start getting really red.  Damn.  I could be one of the Avengers.  Flame On Girl.

We will see if this works.  First thing I noticed when she plugged me in was it didn't hurt so much.  Thank you Jesus.  Second thing?  An immediate strange taste in my mouth.  Kitty was mentioning it right while I was having my wicked amuse-bouche before chemo.

"This might taste salty or some people say it tastes like the Dr.'s office, like alcohol."

Not exactly the martini I was hoping for; no gin and a splash of rubbing alcohol?  That's just wrong.

This chemo is weird man.  It's weird and it's hard.

Welcome to the Overkill Business.

Kitty said she knew several people who rejected treatment and tried a more holistic approach.  Most of those people aren't around anymore she said.  Yes its overkill, but its the best we have, she continued, and it works miracles.

Ok Kitty, I'm listening.

I should be the last person protesting overkill.  I think I am the Queen of Overkill.  Is recognizing it the first step?

Hello.  My name is writergirldreams and I am an overkill-aholic.

A few hours after chemo, I was all cranky, buzzed, and wired up.  I even snapped at my Robin.  Not like me.  Poor Husband coming home from work soon.

Mft texted me.  "How you doing?"

"Like Lorena Bobbit so staying away from the kitchen knives."

"Uh oh."

Then the best idea ever.

"There is no shame in popping a lorazepam."

Thank you honey.  I would rather sip a martini but will take a ride on  the "L" train to take the edge off this bitch.  I don't know why I didn't think of this the night before I have chemo.

I don't know if I told you, my insomnia on those nights goes NASCAR, and I usually can't fall asleep till 3 or 4 in the morning after traveling at extremely dangerous speeds in my former blond brain.  I will try a new plan next week.  Can you say "lorazepam?"  Open your mouth and swallow and feel the bitch soften.

I also got a prescription for the Dex in pill form, to take the night before chemo next week.  The Good Witch wants me to try this to help with the Taxol.  Ok Doc.

I will be a good girl.  I am listening.

Oh I saw my Safeway Lady today!  Hello B.  She got to see me in my new hair.  She loved it and gave me a big big hug.  You should see how adorable her hair is coming in after chemo.  Big Hug B.  When I hugged her, she smelled so good.

"What is that?" I said.

She whispered in my ear.

"Jellybeans."

LMAO.  B, if you are not up on the lingo, that means laughing my ass off. :)

So, the moral of the story here, another day in this life lived, go to your bosom and knock knock and ask your heart what it doth know.

My heart doth know that I am turning grit into pearls.  One layer at a time.  One day at a time.

At this rate with what I still have ahead, somebody thinks I need a strand.

Strand.  That made me think of Mark Strand.  One of my favorite poets.  Of all time.  Listen to this.

Eating Poetry

by Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.


The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.


Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

Ain't that fine?  In college Lit, I used to fantasize about kissing him with all that ink dripping from his mouth.

Wipe your chin baby.  Yeah, I'm talking to you, my reader.  You got poetry dripping from it.

and don't forget

to ask your heart what it doth know.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baby's Day Out, The Sequel

I have a new obsession.

It's my wig.

I want more wigs.  Lots of wigs.  Lots of styles.  Lots of colors.  Yummy.  Hair.  Real hair.  Synthetic Hair.  I don't care.

Give me liberty or give me HAIR!

Let me tell you though, when you've had a bald head for weeks, a head of hair is like having a vornado heater on your head that could keep a family of four warm over the winter.  This though, is the kind of suffering I am willing to endure for the cause.

As I was getting ready for my 2nd big day out, IN A ROW OMG, I did not put on my hair until I was ready to go.  I take that back.  I put my hair on a few times while getting ready, but got so hot, I had to take it off again.  It did not help that it was a very warm day.

I didn't care.

I was determined to wear my porn hair today.

I walked into the lab to get my blood drawn.  Cute lab girl looks up but does not recognize me until I speak.

"How do you like the hair?"

"OMG it's you, you look hot!!!!!!"

Honey, I'm on fire.  Literally and figuratively.

I drove over to Anne of Green Gables.  She noticed I was in a dress first.  Then she noticed the hair.

"Whoa, sexy, you look hot!"

The motion has been seconded.

We drove to our favorite restaurant for lunch, ok, my job, but still my favorite restaurant.  My Manager greeted us, I am sure at first he did not realize it was me.

"Whoa, look at you, I am diggin that 70's Farrah thing" he said before looking away very shyly!

Triple play.

I went into the kitchen to see my Chef.  This is a dangerous thing to walk into his kitchen during a slammed lunch hour, in your civies no less.

His first look at me, he snarled as if he was thinking "Who is this lady in my kitchen?"

His second look at me he softened as if he was thinking "Who is this hot lady in my kitchen?"

His third look he realized it was me.  I did not need to wonder what he was thinking. 

"Whoa you look HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You look great in dark hair!  Go darker!!!!!"

CRACK!  It's a GRAND SLAM folks, and there she goes, Writergirldreams running all the bases and making her way towards HOME.  The crowd roars.

I am hot as a brunette.  It has been confirmed by several partial sources.

Why in hell did I wait so long to become one?

I like my new hair.  I mean, the hair itself is similar to my old layered haircut.  It's the color.

I had no idea, this brunette thing.  Now this is what's funny, and listen very carefully Ladies.

I don't think its the brunette hair.

I think its the fact that I was a blond, now in a brunette wig.

One cannot underestimate the kinky factor of making the same old same old look new and exciting and mysterious.

It was another good day.  Two of em in a row.  Who'd a thunk a wig and a change in hair color could be such powerful medicine for me?

I never got the obsession with wigs some celebrities have.

I get it now.

There is something in me that was discovered when I put that brunette wig on.  An alter ego.

and it's darker.

Like going from milk chocolate to a dark rich decadent chocolate.

Do not ask a menopausal Scorpio with cancer to go darker

unless you are very very brave.

U scared yet?

(post script:

If it's Friday, it must be chemo, and I am not looking forward to it one damn bit, but I can't wait to see you tomorrow Vonda.  I miss you baby.  Kiss it.

Happy Birthday today MG.  hugs old friend.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shining, Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen

Guess what I did today?  She squeals like a teenager.

Go on, guess, notice anything different about me?

I got HAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair.
Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen.

Give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer hair
Here baby, there, momma, ev'rywhere, daddy, daddy.

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Hair, hair, hair. Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it, my hair.

I got some hair today.  Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Thank you GoldenWings, my wonderful friend/lovely hairdresser; we went to breakfast today and while we were out, she suggested let's go look at hair.

I tried so many wigs on, it was fun.  Short hair, long hair, golden hair, brunette hair, oh hair, hair, how I've missed you hair.

When I'd put each wig on, I'd have to walk around the place, like when you are trying on shoes and you have to walk around in them and look at them in several mirrors.  I had to test drive each wig, how did I look sitting down, standing, walking up to you, turning around?

Oh hair.

When I made my final decision after so much fun, a cry burst out of me.

"Oh oh" GoldenWings reached for me.  "What is it, what are you feeling?"

First of all, thank you for that GoldenWings.  You didn't try to fix it or make it go away or look away, you simply said "What are you feeling?"  May I just say that is one of the most honoring things you can say to another human being?  I will try it more often.

"I, I," I choked it out.

"I'm just so tired of people pitying me."  I was overcome.

"Now I can go out in the world and just blend in" I cried.  Ah.  Relief.

How ironic?  So much of this girl's life was getting noticed, not blending in, sparkling, and now,

what I wouldn't give to go out into the world and not have people look at me, with pity.

Now I can do it.

Cause I got hair.

Long brunette hair with a few blond highlights.  OMG.  I've been a golden blond my whole life with big big hair.  Look at me, long brunette hair.

I think I look sexy and interesting and you aren't sure what I might say or do next, but you know it will be good.  Ha!

When you are a blond, people have such reactions and opinions and impressions and ideas about blondes.  They have programmed reactions to you because of that hair.  Really, it's true.

I think a brunette stands on her own and makes her own impression.  I don't know if any of this is true, but it feels like it.

Ok I admit it, I feel like the chunky 51 year old Jennifer AnistonLMAO!  At myself.

I am happy.  Can you tell?

I can't explain it.  Ok I'll try.

Every place you go and every single person that sees you when you have a scarf on, they know you don't have hair.  They know something is really wrong.  People have been so kind and so loving to me, even strangers.  They can't help but pity you.  They do.  Come on, admit it, even you have pitied me.

Every time you look at me, and some of you can't even look at me, you see my cancer.  Every single time.

I see it too.  Every time I wrap another pastel scarf on my head, twist it and knot it and make sure its snug, I see my cancer.

Today, I got a break from seeing my cancer.  I just see a lady with hair.

I don't regret waiting this long to get hair.  I needed to see myself bald.  I needed to absorb myself bald.  I needed to find a way to love myself bald.

Been there.  Done that.  Now hand over the effing hair and nobody gets hurt!!!!!!!!!!!

Now there are moments, with this hair on my head, where I don't see my cancer.  Spaces of time, relief, where I don't see my cancer. 

I just see me.  As a brunette.  With straight hair.

Aw.  Look at me.  There I am.

Hello baby.  Look at you as a brunette.

Aw.

Hello Debbie.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You There? Can You Hear Me Now?

Hi.  You're awful quiet out there.  Very very quiet.  You ok?

See that's the thing about this damn cancer thing, you get so damn pre-occupied with all your stuff, nobody wants to tell you their stuff anymore cause they think its not important compared with what I am going through.  That is just wrong.

Now that I am feeling this fog lift, I am going to get out more so I can hear all about your problems. :)

It's difficult not to isolate yourself during something like this.  You know what though?  I think a lot of us are isolated.  We just don't connect with people in the same ways we used to.  I have resisted getting on Facebook.  I don't know, it just seems so drive-by to me.  It seems like people just become more and more voyeuristic and convince themselves they are connecting with other people.  Do I sound like a Facebook snob?

I think these social networks are the modern version of The Enquirer, but you know everybody.

I like the one on one.  I like talking to you over a meal, or sitting on your couch or at your kitchen table.  I like looking at your face when you are telling me about your stuff.  I like a cork coming out of a bottle as the punctuation to your sentence.  I like listening to you talk while you are stirring a martini.  tink tink tink the stirrer against the glass.  Oh how I miss that.

I think we have all gotten too isolated from each other and have lost the great pleasure of a good conversation or no conversation at all, just being quiet with someone, just being present.

I miss that.  I really do.

So let's all do something about it.  Tomorrow make a date with a friend you haven't seen in awhile.  Take a walk or go to breakfast or meet for coffee.  Connect with somebody.  Live.

Here's your other homework.  Write a letter.  A handwritten letter.  There is still nothing like it, getting a handwritten letter in the mail.  By the way, thank you Donna for the card and your thoughts in my mail box.  It was a great little card, listen to this, about angels.

I believe in angels--that they're always near, whispering encouragement, whenever clouds appear, protecting us from danger and showing us the way, performing little miracles within our lives each day...  Yes, I believe in angels, and I'm sure that you do, too, and I'm convinced that angels are watching over you.

You people are my angels.  Nothing like a card like that to remind you, and when someone writes you something, all in their cursive and puts stickers inside too.  Me likey stickers.  Thank you Donna, and my other angels who have sent cards to me.

Don't you just love people's handwriting?  I do.  So send a letter tomorrow, ok?  Or get a card and actually write a note in it, and then put it in the mail.  No it doesn't count to send a birthday card and just sign your name, love so and so.  I am talking a real honest to goodness letter.

Oh how delicious.  How delicious.  A letter in the mail.  You grab the stack, bills and crap and junk mail, and there it is, mixed in, a letter, a real letter!

You open it salivating, you unfold real paper, and there it is, someone's handwriting.

Oh how delicious.

Just do it.  Will you call somebody and make a date to have a real conversation in person, no phones, no TV, no nothin, just you sitting and listening and talking and laughing and crying if you need to.  and write a damn letter, will you?  A real letter.

Menopausal Scorpio with cancer.

U scared yet?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Road Ahead, See Me Bending?

I can't tell you what a difference it makes in your life when you aren't nauseated all the time.  It's as if your brain starts coming back into focus.  My energy level is still very low, but I can deal with feeling tired.  My brain feels like it is waking up from the nausea coma I was in.

I've spent a few weeks now just getting through the week; some days just getting through the day.  Now that my head is clearing, I'm ready to start thinking about the decisions ahead and doing my homework again.

As I've mentioned my chemo will continue through most of September.  One week of "T" down, eleven to go.

I will be scheduled for surgery in October.  October is usually one of my favorite months.  Married in October.  Both boys born in October.  Of course, Halloween.  Scary will not be so fun this year with Flopsy heading towards the guillotine.  In the breast cancer chat rooms I visit, many women have elected to have what's called a BLMBLM?  Sounds like a BLT gone bad.  Ok so BLM, bi-lateral mastectomy, they take them both.  I suppose this is something I will need to consider.

As you know, I'm not a fan of overkill, but many of the women who have been through this felt relieved after having both breasts taken, and better symmetry achieved after reconstruction.  The science does not necessarily support the decision to remove what is perceived as a healthy breast.  Mastectomy does not insure that cancer will not return.  I think it has to be a consideration though since the type of breast cancer I have, lobular, is more likely to occur in both breasts.

If I just have the mastectomy, they will reconstruct Mopsy to look as close to Flopsy as possible.  If I kept Mopsy, I'd still have one nipple and feeling in that breast.  The new and improved Stepford wife Flopsy will not have a nipple, a facsimile will be tattooed on, and as my surgeon said "It won't be a sex organ, it will just fill your bra cup."  Yikes.

It's time I start deciding on a plastic surgeon.  A few of those recommended are not on my health plan.  I've got my homework cut out for me.

Another decision for reconstruction is will I have implants put in, or have a surgery called a TRAM FLAP?  That sounds like some kind of tram incident that has to be taken before the City Council or something.  Not.  It's where they use tissue and muscle from your abdomen to fill up your new boobies.  The advantages?  A bonus tummy tuck and a natural feel to the new breast.  The disadvantages?  Two major surgeries instead of one, sometimes the fatty tummy tissue puckers and does not have the more "perfect" look of implants.  Some women have also experienced numbness in the abdomen.

Sheesh.  My big decisions use to be what to cook for dinner, you know like fusilli or penne?  Which tie should I wear to work tonight and which earrings match best?  Should I wear my hair in a ponytail or all the way up?  Sparkle barettes or no?  Should I include the automatic gratuity on a large guest check or do I feel lucky?  Diet coke?  Diet coke with lime?  Diet Coke with Splenda?

I'd been thinking about having a breast reduction for some time, even thought about a tummy tuck too.  On the other hand, I never realized how fond of my body I am.

I never thought I would say that.

I mean, come on, there's good reason why I named the girls Flopsy and Mopsy, but there is an honor and distinction in knowing these breasts fed two beautiful baby boys.  And my tummy, after two C-sections, I mean, the only good place for a muffin top is on top of a muffin.  I have stretch marks on my lower tummy and its poochy.  It's funny, I look at my body differently now and appreciate how it has served me.  This ain't the army though is it?

My imperfect body has the scars and badges I earned when I became a mother, the best thing that ever happened to me.  I never thought I would feel such attachment to these parts of me that are me.  I always thought if I had the money for plastic surgery, I'd do it.  Why not look better?  Feel better?  Have your clothes look better.  I haven't been able to wear a halter top since 7th grade.

I guess this feels different.  Maybe I can work on letting go of the feeling that what makes me "me" is not the stretch marks, or even Flopsy, and I will not lose me by losing them.  What makes me is me, somewhere deep inside here, talking to you right now.

I sure don't feel like me without my hair though.  I can't imagine not having Flopsy, or both girls?  Oh boy.  They almost have a spirit of their own.  I will have to write about that one of these posts.  Like my ode to my hair.  Yes, I will write an ode to my girls.

It is still very surreal though, I will tell you.  Sometimes I look at myself and it slaps me in the face. WHACK!

I have breast cancer.  I am undergoing chemotherapy.  I have no hair.  I will be having a mastectomy.

Weird.  Weird.  Could not have seen this one coming.  This happens to other people.  Not me.

I'm still me though.  I think.  Getting used to this new me and life story.

This IS my story now.  While I'm thinking about the logistics and the decisions ahead, I will just keep working on embracing whatever unfolds.  What else can I do?  What else can any of us do?  I think John Lennon said "Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans."

and of course Buffy Saint-Marie wrote "I was an oak, now I'm a willow, I can bend."

See me bending?

Bend baby bend.
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