Monday, February 28, 2011

Feels Like Old Times

After having such a nice break, I've got four appointments in as many days this week.  Feels like old times!

Today I went in for my physical therapy evaluation, which I was surprised how thorough it was.  I am impressed with my new physical therapist, he reminds of the actor Dean Cain.  Can't hurt.  He asked lots of questions and wanted to review all of my cancer stats including the type, and all of my treatment.  I told him my goals during therapy are to rebuild and regain strength and stamina, lose weight, and address the pain and discomfort I have because of the BLM.  We talked about all of that, and I was very happy when he also wanted to talk about my neuropathy and balance issues.

This lingering neuropathy in my right foot has continued to be a real concern, although I have been reassured many times that nerve repair is very slow and most likely this will resolve itself.  I hope it does, but I've also learned well enough after cancer to expect the unexpected.  If it doesn't get better, I need to find a way to live with a partially dead foot.

Dean, or so I will call him, was very empathetic and enthusiastic about all of my issues and made me feel like we would work together to find solutions for me.  One of the things that made me feel better is that he explained balance is something that can be developed and trained.  He's worked with many patients who had neuropathy issues and some who even lost toes, (yikes), and has helped them deal with the associated balance issues with great success.  I felt a whole lot better after hearing that.

His plan for me is twice a week sessions with him for the next two weeks, and then I will merge into the cancer wellness program that he is the lead physical therapist for.  In that program, which also meets twice a week, I will be doing physical therapy, exercise, and nutritional counseling.  I am excited about all of this, and feeling optimistic.

Dean said all things considered I am doing really well, look great, and have very good flexibility and range of motion in my affected arm.  I felt very good about him, he seems confident he will be able to help me.  I go back for my next appointment this Thursday.  He knows it is my goal to return to work in mid April, and thinks we can make a lot of progress between now and then.

While I was there today, my lymphedema therapist also popped in, and I will be seeing her for a short visit on Thursday as well.  She is going to check and measure both my arms and compare it to the measurements she took the first time she saw me during radiation.  I will always be at risk for lymphedema, and as I've mentioned before, it's something that can occur years after treatment.

Tomorrow I have the part two to my gynecology appointment.  I will be having a pelvic ultrasound of all my girly parts to determine what my baseline looks like.  This is because while I am on Tamoxifen I am at risk for the rare side effect of uterine or ovarian cancer, so they will be keeping an eye on any suspicious changes there.

The good news is my pap smear results came back normal, and as suspected, my vaginal culture came back confirming BV (good ol bacterial vaginosis).  I did complete the 7 nights of cream, but to tell you the truth, I still don't feel like Muffy is back to normal.  She's always been such a good girl, never had any problems with her, and I don't know if this upset in flora and fauna is due to chemo or Tamoxifen.  I will be going back to the gynecologist next week to discuss the pelvic ultrasound results and further discussions about what else we can do to get Muffy's groove back.

Wednesday I have my six week follow-up appointment with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Lotus.  It will be great to see her and all the radiation staff.  My skin continues to heal, and I think I'm ready for the pool again but will recheck with the doc.  One thing that did happen, I had a small mole on Flopsy that after radiation got really dark in color, and then seemed like it was shriveling up.  It scrubbed off in the shower!  I was actually happy about that, I didn't like how it looked, and planned on talking to the plastic surgeon about having it removed, but it fell off.  Is that ok?  Will find out.

The main thing I notice 6 weeks out from radiation is the developing tightness and numbness that is going farther down my arm, and more into my ribcage.  I will talk to Dr. Lotus about all of that and hope physical therapy will help.

Can you believe it's already March tomorrow?

It's almost Spring.

Aaahhh.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spiritual GPS

Arrange whatever pieces come your way.  Virginia Woolf

I am better at this now.  Arranging the pieces.   Accepting I cannot control the pieces that come to me, but every day getting better at the meaning and place I assign them in my life.

As I wake up from the dream, I see now that this cancer piece has presented me with an unexpected opportunity.

To awaken.
To build spiritual muscle.
To have all these angels and all this love arrive.
To learn how to lean into resilience.

How ironic.  How mysterious.  How divine.

In sickness, other things in me have shifted towards healing.
In darkness and fear, I discovered my strength and compassion.

I see now there was a long overdue journey for me to become the heroine of my story.

I will forgive God and the universe for all the dramatic license used to make this story good, to get my attention, and yours.

So now what?
 
A bend in the road is not the end of the road, as long as you make the turn.  Unknown

You see me?

Not sure what's next, but making the turn.

Making the turn baby.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"I Took Your Faith to Heart Today" Roo

In the end it comes down to choosing to be happy.

My friend Roo said that.  Hello Roo.  There there now.  You and the Cowboy filled a big space in my thoughts today; how despite everything and because of everything, you keep trying to return to happiness by simply choosing it.  You inspired a deeper level of purpose and presence in me today.

You got me thinking.  How do we measure a life?

I don't think it's a measure of time.  It's not how long we live.

It's how we show up for the party.
It's how much we love.
How much we are loved.

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars...  Jack Kerouac

The best fortune I ever got in a fortune cookie said this, and I kept it because I believe it:

Love can make a summer fly, or a night seem like a lifetime.


Lord hear my prayer tonight.  However many nights of love Roo and the Cowboy have, may they all seem like a lifetime.


Roo?


Do not underestimate the power and the blessing and the rare gem of being so very loved, by a man who responds to the fragility of his own life by getting new tires on all the vehicles.  Don't cry now Roo, anticipating loss.  Celebrate.  Celebrate gloriously you were given love like this in your life.


As for you Cowboy,


I bow to you,
and the way you love.
You burn like a roman candle.
Peace be with you.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Big D turns Fiddy Three

Husband had a birthday today.  This is the 35th one I've celebrated with him.  I used a sparkler as a candle on top of his birthday cake tonight; it seemed like a fabulous idea at the time.  I almost caught the house on fire, and had to run with the explosive firecracker cake out into the backyard in 40 degree weather, with three dogs close behind.  It was kind of like a birthday parade, except all were running.



This was all of us at Walt Disney World a few years ago.

Everything that is important to him,
everything that ever mattered,
is in this picture.

Everything he loves
and says
and is
and hopes for
and aspires to be,

he does for us.








This is him doing what he does best.

His proudest title?  Dad.




















As a couple, we have walked the halls of the Louvre.  Stood in front of the Mona Lisa.  We have seen Shakespeare performed in Stratford-upon-Avon, and devoured Indian food in downtown London.  We explored underground caverns in New Zealand, and stood on the shores of Milford Sound long before anybody ever shot a movie there.  In the Cook Islands, he won a dance contest against several Maori warriors.  In Paris, we laughed our asses off when we were served an unexpected humble fried egg on top of the entree in three consecutive meals in three different bistros.

For all that we have done and for all that is left for us to do,
these two have been our greatest adventure,

transforming us into a family.


Some day when my sons have sons, they will realize they hit the lotto with their Dad.
 When people ask me how many children I have, I say three.  A twenty year old, a thirteen year old, and of course my youngest, who turns fifty three today.

Husband?  In honor of your birthday, I have arranged for your favorite crooner of all time to sing for you.  No expense was spared honey.  I had to pull all kinds of strings, and call in all kinds of favors to make this happen  for you.


Happy Birthday Husband.

love Wife



Thursday, February 24, 2011

and they just keep coming

Sometimes I hesitate, to tell you the real deal.  To tell you what this day in, day out, living this thing is like.  Sometimes I hesitate and I think nobody wants to read this stuff.  Nobody wants to hear this stuff.  Not the people without cancer.  Not the newbies just diagnosed.  Not my family.  Not my Sisters light years ahead of me trying to move on.  Nobody wants to hear this stuff Debbie.

Sometimes my self doubt talks to me and wants me to shut up.

Can't you just talk about sumpthin nice?  Can't you just be funny?  Can't you just lighten up?  Can't you just be inspirational and make everything all nicey nice?  Can't you just lie if you have to?

Nobody wants to read this stuff.

There have been many times over these several months I thought enough is enough.

Why are you still talking about this shit?

Then I am blessed with something like this:

Well, I finally caught up on all your blogs and can I say that I have enjoyed all of them. Not what you're going through, but your writing has had me cry, laugh, sad, overwhelmed, smile, etc., etc.

Your writing is wonderful and I truly think you should turn your cancer blog into a book when you're done - seriously!!!! How many of us, when we've gotten those dreaded words, have wanted/needed somebody or something to turn to to help up understand more about this disease. And it's always best to talk to/read about someone who's been through it. And your blogs to me, were like reading a book that I hated to put down!!
There were times I could almost feel what you were feeling or visualize what you were doing - and that's what great authors do for their readers - draw them in.
*
I just read your post: "Trail of Crumbs" and I'm still crying. What you wrote really touched me. Thank you.
*
I sure enjoyed your blog today on faith. I really needed to read something like that since my faith today was that of a mustard seed.
*
You inspire me. Am going through a rough period right now, but have decided I am going to tackle it with humor and grace, like you do. *Anyone* can be a bitch in the face of adversity. That's easy. But to be able to find the laughter in there, even in the midst of such (often times) horrible processes is a gift. Thanks for sharing your gift with others.
*
hi wgd. i just read your post. it was one of the most beautiful and amazing things i have ever read. you have touched my heart in a way i cannot find the words to even explain to you. thank you for sharing these feelings and for being such a great friend to me.
*
Thank you for a most awesome comment, Sister. Exactly what I needed to hear. Whenever I stumble, it seems as if my friends and family gasp in horror. They love me dearly, but they are so afraid of the cancer. Not you. You fearlessly reach right in there, grab my hand, and pull me back to my feet again. You have no idea how much I appreciate you.
*
Writergirl,
You have made me laugh and cry and nod my head vigorously at what you have written. I will never forget finding your "goodbye letter" to your breasts. You said exactly what I was thinking, but could not (or would not) articulate for myself.
I count myself lucky to know you . . . even if its just through these posts. Thank you . . thank you for giving words to my hard, hard feelings.
I keep telling people in my posts that "you're not alone". The hardest part of this journey for me was going to bed at night and being alone with my thoughts and fears. I've reread some of your stuff at 1 in the morning or 4 in the morning on a really tough night.
You need to know that you make a difference. As much as I hate knowing that you're in the same battle I am with BC, I'm so very glad you're here.


These are just a few of the incredible emails and personal messages I've received since I started the blog.  When I think I've said all I can say, or you've heard all you want to hear, another precious newbie comes along, just diagnosed, to let me know she went back to the beginning, starting with my first post Mother's Day 2010.

Thank you Writergirldreams,
I read your entire blog last night. It made me both laugh and cry. The description of what a core biopsy is like was especially riveting!! You definitely have a gift with words. I have put you on my favorites list and I know your posts to questions on this site are great also.

I don't know how to explain to you how full my heart is from all the love that has come to me.  I was a sisterless Sister, and now I have Sisters all over the world.

I don't know how to explain to you the ache I feel every time a new one finds me.

and they just keep coming.

It makes me cry tonight, remembering what it felt like, knowing out there, somewhere today, some bunny else just got the news "You have breast cancer."

Many of us will make it.  Some of us won't.  I don't know what list I'm on.

Either way, I am one of them, they are part of me.

Pray for us.

Pray for a cure.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bitch Slap

Today I picked up Robin from school mid-morning to take him to his orthodontist appointment.  Uh huh, Robin has braces.  He was an adorable finger sucker, and finally quit the habit when he entered school.  I really should insure those fingers, for the thousands they have cost us, sending our orthodontist and his family to Hawaii at least twice I'm sure.

Robin was waiting for me in the middle school attendance office when I arrived.  As I signed him out, one of the ladies who works in the office sweetly said to me, are you ready for this, here it comes:

"Are you his Grandma?"

Like a cold hard bitch slap.

WHACK.

I felt my gut clench and wind up like Madea's fist, and then everything slowed down, and I was Madea, hurling some of her best comebacks at this clearly demented lady.


Brenda:   If I call the cops, they will be here in ten minutes.
Madea:   Good. Then that give me nine to beat the hell outta you.


Brenda:  I know Tae Kwan Do.
Madea:  And I know whoop your ass.

My wounded could not find a swimsuit just finished cancer treatment ego, took a deep breath then said out loud "That hurt.  That really hurt."  When she realized her awful faux pas, the equivalent of asking a chubby lady "So, when is the baby due?" she started to apologize profusely.  Her coworker tried to hide under the desk she was sitting at.



I didn't even look at her, I couldn't.  I just raised my hand in the universal gesture.


Talk to the hand.
Talk to the hand Lady.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Somewhere Between Dreaming and Awake

I am going through a phase of melancholy now, I'm sure some of it is hormonal.  Most of it I imagine, is working through what has happened to me and the treatment just finished.  It's weird how memories come to you, seemingly out of nowhere, unbidden.  I'm having a lot of that now, recalling specific moments of treatment with such clarity and as if they are still happening.

I was thinking about the times I received chemo and had lots of problems with the port in my chest.  The area around and on top of my port never healed right, so it never raised up like it should have.  The skin on top of a port is supposed to be very thin, and a topical numbing cream should have made the stick a breeze.  It never was for me.  The stick was always painful and traumatic, and took everything I had to breathe through.  Sometimes these thoughts come flying into my head, and I have to catch my breath and remind myself it's just a memory, I'm done.

I am not worried about this.  I know this is all part of my brain's debriefing itself, making sense of everything, accepting what has happened.

There are some well meaning people who after something like this, any traumatic life event, just want you to shake it off and move on.  Move forward.  Let it go.  As much as they think they are looking out for you, it's really about them feeling better.  They are ready to move on, because they can.  This happened to them, second hand.

I am working through this, and will do it in my own time, in my own way.  I don't feel stuck, even though my brain is replaying a lot of what has happened.

I remember in the weeks and months after my Mom died, the night of her death was like a movie I could not stop playing in my head.  It was awful.  I know my brain was working hard to accept the reality of her sudden death.  It took time, but over time, my brain came to accept that she really was gone.  I no longer reached for the phone to call her.  I no longer thought if I went to a certain place, I might find her there.

That's how this feels to me.  My brain is trying to make sense of the nonsensical, believe what sometimes still seems inconceivable.  My brain and my spirit are building a bridge, brick by brick.  On one side is everything I believed about my life and my health and my longevity and the familiarity of my old body.  On the other side is the reality of my cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment, my altered body, my altered self.

I admit to you, I'm feeling a little lost right now, and mostly aware of the pieces, not the end result.  Still having trouble envisioning it, but I know I am building it.

Don't worry.

To see what few have seen, you must go where few have gone.  Buddha

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.  Anonymous

I am somewhere between these two, finding my way.

There is a little plaque I have, bought it when I was a teenager and have always had it on my desk or nightstand or bookshelf through the years.



What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

What lies within me is a quiet persistent faith of what will come from this, even though right now, all I can see are all these bricks.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mirror Mirror, You are Not The Boss of Me

For those of you who have been faithfully following my story since my diagnosis last spring, you will probably remember this post.  It was late September.  I had just finished chemo.  My bilateral mastectomy AND BREAST RECONSTRUCTION were scheduled for the end of October, when the equivalent of the Titanic hitting the iceberg happened to me.  Or so I thought at the time.  Here's the post.
 
Fortune Teller


It was a dark and stormy night.

Why do I feel as though this passage in my life is turning into a bad novel? The worst case of fiction ever.

Can't I just have one thing I want? (She whimpers.) Can't I just have one thing, in this thing I did not ask for, go the way I WANT IT TO GO? Damn.


Get ready for the anti-serenity prayer, prayed by God's favorite donkey girl. Hey. No laughing. I'm gonna rant now and whine like a baby and stomp my feet. And spit.


I'm too mentally exhausted to recount how the plot thickened today, but let me put it to you like this. Ever ride Space Mountain at Disneyland? Rockin rollercoaster, right turn, right turn, right turn, right turn,


THEN BAM, FREAKIN SHARP LEFT TURN YOU WERE NOT EXPECTING AND YOUR WHOLE BODY, WHICH HAS BEEN LEANING INTO THOSE RIGHT TURNS, IS VIOLENTLY THROWN LEFT AND YOU SCREAM BABY SCREAM.


Let me put it to you like this. It's like a damn roux now, headed towards gumbo or jambalaya and I ORDERED SOL MEUNIERE.


Deep breath.


Are you ready for this?


True North had a scare with the twins yesterday. Everything is fine except HER DOCTOR thinks she is overdoing it, and wants her to drastically reduce her work week and surgical schedule. Especially the surgeries over five hours on her "Babies Onboard" feet.


What does that mean for our heroine?


Another twist of twisted, gosh how much more of this, fate.


Am I tied down to the railroad tracks and just don't realize it? Take a look at me. Is there a sign on my back that says "kick me?"


If I'd like True North as my plastic surgeon, I will have to wait till after her return from maternity leave to have my reconstruction. February. Oh no, wait, it gets better. After being radiated, I have to wait six months before reconstruction. That really makes it June. Kinda makes the whole who-tee-do dance I've been who-tee-stewing about regarding plastic surgeons moot.


Let's review. A breast cancer diagnosis. Five months of chemo. Double mastectomy. Five and a half weeks radiation.


Iced with months and months with no boobies and dragging this thing well into 2011?


Deep breath. Blow it out like a dragon. Scorch.
Let the record show that in addition to all she is, Da Good Witch is a fortune teller.
Somebody, get my Fay Ray outfit and cue the JAWS music please.
Shit.


Well you all know how the story went, and I've been living for four months now with the scooped out, deflated, flattened and partially radiated version of my former fat bunnies, Flopsy and Mopsy.  At this point, and I'm sure from all points forward until I do get my reconstruction, they don't behave much, as in, I can't wear a bra or really anything resembling one.  I usually don't wear anything underneath my shirt, but occasionally on special occasions I will try to lift them up a bit and will wear a tube top sports bra.

Today I went with Husband to Kohl's, early birthday present for him, some new shoes.  My Husband takes more time shopping and making a selection than a seventeen year old schoolgirl shopping for her prom dress.  (Yes, 6C, I'm also talking to you.)  Actually I get a kick out of it, it's kinda cute, like having a GBF, gay boy friend.  It's a good thing Husband is usually a few days behind on reading my blog, and going out of town on business mid week.  He's really going to complain about that one.  Anyway, I knew he'd be occupied shopping for some time.  I wandered off, bravely deciding to try on swimsuits as my skin is just about ready to enter the pool again.

"Oh hell no" I'm sure all the ladies in the dressing rooms next to me heard me say in my most disgusted voice as I tried on the first suit.

"Good luck with that" as the second suit shimmied on and was ripped off.

"In your dreams" was number three.

I never made it to number four.  Heavy sigh.  I stood in very bad light, panties only, and took a good hard look at myself in the full size dressing room mirror.

When did I get so short, and so fat, and so so

boobless?

I was thinking tonight about how absolutely devastated I was that I'd have to undergo surgery for my cancer, and not wake up with my new boobs.  I was devastated.  It was something I had to work through, and it was not easy, adjusting to life without two of my personal favorites, my boobs and my hair.

I have evolved now.  I feel differently about myself.  I'm not saying that what I see in the mirror I am happy with.  In fact, I'm very unhappy with it, but more like when you were hoping for mint chocolate chip ice cream but all they have is chocolate chip.

What I see in the mirror is not the sum of me.  Not even remotely.

In fact, even though I could have my reconstruction in just a few months, the truth is,

I'm not ready.

After all the hurtin and healing I've been through and still going through, I am not ready to sign up for the next big can of whoop ass, even though I will get boobs and a flat tummy out of it.

I'm not ready.

I don't know when I will be.

I'll let you know.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Flopsy Sleeps, and A Wizard Who Will Serve

I am five weeks out from completing radiation treatment, and understand now why most plastic surgeons want you to wait at least six months prior to reconstructing a radiated breast.

The growing difference between Flopsy and Mopsy in both appearance and architecture is substantial.

Mopsy is getting more and more relaxed, and the scar underneath her is smoothing out.  Flopsy is as lumpy, thick and swollen as ever, and the numbness on that side of my chest and under my arm is pronounced.  It is a strange feeling, the numbness.  It's like having something attached to your body that feels foreign and as if you could remove it.  It does not feel like a part of the whole, it feels completely other.

Sometimes when I have my left arm up against my side, it's so freaky weird, the numbness under my upper inner arm, meeting the numbness on my outer rib cage.  It's gotten worse, like it was after surgery.  It's strange to have such a large area of your body feel dead.  This is with only seven lymph nodes removed; two during my initial biopsy, and five more during my BLM.   I can't imagine what kind of problems I'd be having right now if my surgeon had taken more lymph nodes.  I know Sisters who have had twenty or more taken out under one armpit.

You may have read an article recently from the NY Times, that was widely circulated, on all of the re-thinking regarding lymph node removal as part of breast cancer treatment.  Click here in case you missed it.

I am extremely thankful that my surgeon, The Wizard, was conservative in his removal of my lymph nodes, only doing what is called a partial axillary dissection.  He could have removed many more, given my left sentinel nodes were positive for cancer and I had a large 5cm tumor in my breast.  He explained before my surgery that he did not feel the gains of removing too many nodes was worth the quality of life issues that I could be faced with as a result.  Namely, lymphedema, or swelling of the arm and even chest area because of the buildup of lymph fluid.

There are even greater risks for lymphedema for women who have had several nodes removed and then been radiated.  In some cases, it is not uncommon for the damage to reveal itself years after the completion of treatment.  I am still at risk for this.

I am grateful, especially given this new thinking on lymph node removal, that my surgeon felt he did not need to be too zealous removing too many, and that radiating them would take care of any remaining cancer cells.

I am resuming lymphedema therapy this week, although I have not been diagnosed with it.  The area under my arm and in my rib cage is really tightening up, all of which can be expected, but is uncomfortable and could lead to lymphedema.  At some point, I will need to get a compression sleeve and glove for my left arm and hand.  It is recommended that from here on out I do not fly without them.

I am so grateful I had a progressive surgeon who did what he thought was best for me, not just in removing my cancer, but doing his best to preserve my quality of life after cancer treatment.

This is the stuff nobody ever really explains to you when you are first diagnosed, and as you make decisions regarding treatment along the way.

It's not just about surviving your cancer.

It's also about surviving treatment and constantly weighing benefits to risks, in an environment that is constantly changing and highly debated.

Along with looking over my shoulder praying I don't have a recurrence, I live each day now with the reality of this body after treatment.  Some days I look at my left hand, checking that my wedding ring and thumb ring are still there.  Yup.  Still me.  Check.

Sometimes I'm not so sure.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Menopausal Platinum Effects on Physics

I got my phone repaired.


Batman suggested a cellular phone repair place he had heard of, and they might be able to help me.  I took it there, and the guy fixed it by replacing the digitizer, basically the touch screen, and he backed up all my stuff for me.


I was so so happy about that.  So happy.  Checked back through all my photos and such, all still there.  Like this one from one of my walks.




I have known for years there is a crazy gorilla roaming my neighborhood.  This is my only proof.


Since my diagnosis, I used my phone like a scrapbook.  I felt like I got something back, the comfort of my familiar returned to me.


I hated my new phone.  I hated the newness of it.  The new ring tones.  The new message alerts.  I hated it.  I just wanted my stupid old phone back with all the traces of the old me inside it.


I'm not sure how to describe the phase I am in right now.  I feel like a stranger in my own life.  Like I was kidnapped and have been away from you a long long time.


I've come home now.  Nothing is the same for me.  I guess that's why the phone thing seemed so important.


I guess this is what they talk about when they say you have to find your "new normal" after cancer.


I know there is a great metaphor for the banana in the gutter.  Maybe it doesn't mean anything.


This is part of the work I do now.


Sifting and separating meaning from randomness, and trying not to assign meaning to what was random and vice versa.


When you've had the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath you, it's easy to start interpreting everything as something.


Some things you will never understand.  You just have to let them go.  Shake it off.   Walk away.  Keep moving.


That's where I am now.


Somewhere between my perception of old normal and my perception of new normal.


The reality is there is no difference between the two, just a continuum of the same.
That's physics baby.
Can I find a balance between accepting the impermanence of the universe,
while believing that perception does influence reality?


That's a whole lotta thinking for this former blond bomb now platinum brain.


All a that while I keep an eye out for that gorilla, 


and my invitation to the royal wedding.


I got a crown coming my way, look here if you don't believe me.   Told you I'm a princess.


Friday, February 18, 2011

and the winner is...One World One Heart 2011

I can't say enough what an incredible thing the One World One Heart blogging event has been!  What fun!  I still have so many more blogs to get to, and so many thank you's for all those who came to mine and left me love and candy comments and wishes and prayers.

Thank you so very very much.

and now, let's get to the fun stuff.  My winner, out of 153 that left comments, was selected at random by random.org (thank you Bloggers, never knew about this).

The winner of my little giveaway of courage and hope, is,



oh, and by the way, just so there is no confusion, I didn't make any of this stuff.  I just liked it.  I'm crafty, but not that crafty.  I'm a writer!

Where were we?

And the winner is

Gale Varland.

Congratulations Gale, I will be contacting you!

Thank you so much to all the Bloggers who came here to visit, and left the world and pieces of your heart on my doorstep.

Thank you!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Heart On My Sleeve

These last few weeks since finishing treatment, it felt like I was in a bubble, protected, as I quietly focused on getting my bearings, reviewing/purging/filing memories, and doing what I can to assist my body as it works hard to repair what cancer treatment damaged.

The real world has intervened this week.  It's been an emotional one, with life's paradoxes and contradictions and affirmations and blessings rushing in together, like invited and unwanted guests at a party.

Love has come to me from strangers, and eluded me from some I love most, grand news and devastating news came hand in hand, and tonight I am feeling emotional and overwhelmed and selfish.

A simple thing happened this evening, when I went to purchase a new cell phone because of recent problems with mine.  They were not able to download all the various things I had stored on my old phone.  My address book was saved, but all the photos and videos and audio recordings I made this last year are stuck inside the old phone and cannot be accessed.    Photos I took of family and pets, walks and angels.  Recordings made of songs not completely written but already loved.  Videos of my precious boys doing their thing.  Many self portraits taken throughout treatment.

As I drove home, I was worked up, unlike me, and I felt puzzled as my tears were mixed with anger and frustration.  It was like losing a favorite irreplaceable photo album; I can see some of the pictures in my head and can't get to them now.

What was stored on that phone could not account for the utter grief I felt over it.  I've been thinking about it and this is what I came up with.  There is a huge undercurrent of loss in my life right now, as I continue to process what has happened, what I will never get back, and that tragedy and grief did not arrive and then go with my cancer diagnosis.  Good continues to happen.  Bad continues to happen.  That is the nature of this life.  and it ain't all about me.

Absolute suffering.  Absolute joy.  Holding on.  Letting go.
Destruction.  Reinvention.  Regret.  Redemption.
Open.  Closed.  Embraced.  Alone.  Punished.  Forgiven.

I guess the phone thing opened a door to all of that tonight.

Sometimes the most fragile child in me
takes my woman's heart
and places it on my sleeve,
hoping somebody will see,
come and rescue us,
tell us,
me and her,
there there now,
everything will be ok.

Lie to her.

It won't work on me.  Too grown up.

Good luck with that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lush

After complimenting my friend M1 on her hysterical and witty writing, she humbly and graciously wrote this back to me:

You are Joan Baez. I'm Johnny Rotten.
You are a fine Cabernet. I'm more of a slurpee.
You are Mother Earth. I am enfants terribles.

You kill me Lady, and who doesn't love a slurpee?

M1 thanked me for inspiring her to greet adversity with humor and grace, and I wrote this back to her:

As far as the humor and the grace, that is my cover. I am pissed, scared shitless, miss my fat boobies, menopausal, and heading towards bipolar or maybe postal, I don't know. Honey, if I wasn't laughing, I'd be crying 24/7 366 and it's just no fun and my mascara runs and I hate how I look doing the ugly cry.

You got me to thinking tonight M1, about the Cabernet thing, and how I view my life now.

Anybody who loves a rich earthy bold red knows that luscious bountiful fruit comes from gnarly old vines.

I think that is what this season of adversity and weathering has done to me.

I'm all twisted and knotty and gnarly now, but look at all this fruit.

Look at all this rich elegant fruit.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Little by Little

I release anything and everything that no longer serves my unfolding good.

That quote is from a calendar page I kept and pinned to my bulletin board.

I'm starting the housecleaning with souvenirs from Cancer Camp.




Today, I decorated the purple sage in my yard with some of my Cancer Center wrist bands, used to ID me during radiation.   They bounced and bobbed when a breeze blew, animating the bush, and it made me smile seeing them this way.

Then I fed them into the shredder, one by one, each signifying a treatment completed and me letting it go.

Then I made stacks on my bed of:

papers I need to keep in my breast cancer medical file;
papers I can shred now; and
breast cancer treatment books I will donate.

I have a few pieces of clothing that have the "pink ribbon" on them.
I'm donating those too.  I don't want them anymore.

About the only remnants of Cancer Camp I'm going to keep are all the cards from you.  I keep those in a ribboned stack, and read through some of them again today.

Little by little I am letting go of the indications that represent cancer treatment.

I still don't know how to answer when someone asks me "Are you cancer free now?"  Or "Are you in remission?"

I don't know.

All I know is I am changed, and still evolving, all of which I hope moves me towards becoming or remaining cancer free.

Cancer did not leave me where it found me.

I did all that,

and I ain't done yet.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

One word frees us from all the weight and pain of life:
that word is Love.
Sophocles

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Now What?

When I was talking to my Duncle Dody on the phone yesterday, he mentioned something I had written in my blog he thought might be misunderstood by my readers, implying I am "out of the woods."  He couldn't remember exactly where it was, so I looked around for it.

I think this might be it Duncle, from my recent post giving a state of the union of where I am after treatment.

Now that I'm not on the front line, I've got time to think about each battle.
Sometimes the recall is so strong, I have to remind myself it's over.
I really am home from Cancer Camp.

Let me clarify if I need to.
The battle I refer to was cancer treatment.  That is what is over for me.
 
The WAR continues and will for the rest of my life.
 
From here on out, my medical care will always be driven by my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
For the rest of my life, I will be closely monitored in case the cancer returns.
From a clinical standpoint due to lymph node involvement, it is very likely that breast cancer cells were sent to other parts of my body. 
 
I think I've quoted in the blog before that every 69 seconds, somewhere in the world, another woman will die of breast cancer.
 
Did you know though that heart attacks kill 6 times as many American women as breast cancer?
 
As I continue processing and letting go of the challenges and rigors of treatment and moving towards my "new normal," my focus clearly has to be whatever I can do to manage my risk for both of these.
 
This is where my attention and blog will shift towards.
 
Risk Management.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Crouched In Eagerness

...all things are crouched in eagerness to become something else...
Mary Ellen Pitts


You were born with potential
You were born with goodness and trust
You were born with ideals and dreams
You were born with greatness
You were born with wings
You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings
Learn to use them, and fly.
Rumi


You believe in angels?

I do.

Did you know that belief in angels is found in Christianity, Judaism and Islam?

Angels were created by God, spiritual beings who act in service to God, as messengers and channels between earth and heaven, the physical and metaphysical world.

Angels often come to us as guardians, and act as messengers in matters of great spiritual importance.

I have always had a fascination with angels, and seek them.  I love the angel statuary found in historic cemeteries, and I'm blessed to have one that dates back to the 1800's a couple of miles from my house.  It is a beautiful peaceful haunting place, and I go there for inspiration.




She is my favorite angel.





Since childhood, I have tried to get still enough so I could hear the angels, the whispers meant for me.

In these weeks after treatment, as the chaos continues to settle, I feel myself relaxing and getting spiritually quiet.  I have a sense that angels are all around me, gently guiding in a new direction.


Sh-h-h.
There there now precious one.
Leave your old self behind.
That life was not meant for you.
That life was preparation for the one you will live now.
Don't cry.
Don't look back.
Don't be afraid.

Rejoice.

Your tender woundedness has opened you,
and lead you to find wings that were waiting for you.

Soar, and know this -

You were the one you were waiting for.

Help your Sisters find their wings.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Unexpected Angel

I was in my head too much today, feeling a little pouty tonight, a little sorry for myself, a little overwhelmed.

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.  Poor poor breast cancer me.

Sometimes, just when you need it most,
an unexpected Angel comes to remind you
that life is precious and fleeting and fragile and good,
that one more day is always a gift,
that tomorrow may be too late to tell someone how very much you love them,
and if you want a garden, then plant something.

Thank you Jake.

Thank you sweetie.

I heard you tonight.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

5 months, 4 months, 1 month

My Sister Tmack and I exchanged some emails today; she is still in chemo on the Taxol portion of the party.  She was asking me some questions about how long it took for my hair to get to its current short spiky length, and how my radiated skin was healing at this point.  Thanks Tmack for the questions, and the inspiration to write about where my body is at this point.

Five Months Out from Chemo, This is What It Looks Like
I am five months out from finishing five months of chemo.  My hair has come in fairly thick, and is about an inch and a half long.  My old hair was very long, thick, curly, and dirty blond with gold highlights.  My new chemo hair is very straight all through the crown, and the rest of it has some curl coming in.  It feels very soft, like baby hair.  It doesn't really respond to styling or brushing yet, so I put a little gel in my hands and finger it as best I can to make it look like something.  There is a fair amount of "platinum" all on top, not so much on the sides and back.

My fingernails are incredible.  Very long and rock hard.

The skin on my hands and face, which were both extremely dry during and after chemo, has gotten considerably better and I don't have to constantly moisturize throughout the day.  My color is good in my face again, I'm peachy and rosy, nothing like the marble white I looked like through chemo.

I continue to have neuropathy as a leftover from Taxol, primarily in my right foot.  The left foot is awake, and only occasionally joins in, a slight numbing on toes three, four and five.  On my right foot, toes three and four are still completely asleep, although toe number two wakes up for long stretches of time before going back to bed again.  The pad of my right foot is still very numb, especially close to the base of sleeping toes.  When I walk for long periods of time, the whole top third of my right foot falls completely asleep, and the ache moves up into my shin.

My balance at this point is still a real concern to me.  I realized a day ago it's not just about my right foot.  If I tilt my head back, like when you swig a soda, I almost completely lose my balance.  I have to be careful with that one, almost falling back a few times taking a drink from my water bottle.  Now I know to hold on to something, or not tilt back as far as I normally would have.

Four Months Out from BLM
Hard to believe I've been without Flopsy and Mopsy for four months now.  I occasionally wear a Bandini by Hanes, a tube top loose fitting bra, or a sports bra.  I can't wear one for long though, I am still fairly tender where my drains used to be.

Let's talk about Mopsy first, who was not radiated.  Mopsy looks almost like a normal breast, except for the fact that she is deflated, needs to be ironed, and is only about one inch thick.  The skin color has returned to normal, very peachy, and my nipple looks great and is all rosy.  The scar under Mopsy is a very narrow cranberry line, about 4 inches long.  The scar feels like a very small rope, more like twine.  Most of the discomfort on the front right of my chest is gone, and the right shoulder is really loosening up.

The upper back and neck numbness and pain I was having is very slowly resolving.  My right arm, which frequently felt swollen and very tight, is also getting better.  I think I reported to you that the CT scan of my chest and neck was fine and showed no blockage.  Nobody seems to have an answer why my right arm is having trouble, but speculate it was related to scarring from my ports and my PICC.  It feels like it's getting better, but I'm still not able to wear the jewelry I used to wear on my right hand.

On my left side, where six lymph nodes were removed (5/6 positive for cancer then), the tightness under my arm is much better, but still there.  I continue to do stretching exercises to loosen that up.  My scar where my lymph nodes were removed is losing its color and is much softer, and about 2 1/2 inches now.  Some of the feeling is returning on the inside upper arm, but is still completely numb in a large area of my left arm pit.  My left arm so far has not had any swelling, and I have still been able to wear my wedding ring and thumb ring with no problem.

One more thing.  Although both my nipples "work" in that they get erect, they are numb to the touch.

One Month Out from Radiation
After being radiated, Flopsy's appearance is substantially different than Mopsy's.  Flopsy has shrunk, probably about 20%, and is much tighter, thicker and lumpy.  The skin still has all kinds of discoloration to it, but no longer oozes or stings.  The colors vary from a rosy sunburn to tan, although as I told Tmack, the tan is not bronzy.  It is more gray in color and ugly.  I am a little worried about what the skin will look like when Flopsy is filled like a Twinkie.  Flopsy's nipple still looks agitated, and the pores on that breast are larger and fairly noticeable.  I am still peeling on top of Flopsy and underneath along the scar.  That scar is tighter, harder, redder and not healing as well as the one under Mopsy, which was not radiated.

I had a few small moles on Flopsy, and in the area of my neck where I was radiated.  They are all substantially darker.  I notice that my radiated skin still cannot tolerate hot water.

In General
I am sleeping like a rock star, after all those months of insomnia.  I sometimes nap during the day, but not as often since I sleep through the night now, and often sleep in.  I am getting substantially more sleep than I did all through treatment, and it feels great.  I feel my stamina is returning, not in any big way but slow incremental progress.

I have discovered now that I am on Tamoxifen, that caffeine, even one cup of coffee or black tea, gives me a hot flash.  Damn.  I've been feeling a little more weepy lately, I don't know if that is hormonal, or just post treatment let down.

Now that I'm not on the front line, I've got time to think about each battle.

Sometimes the recall is so strong, I have to remind myself it's over.

I really am home from Cancer Camp.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yo Ho Yo Ho

I will warn you, the faint of heart, or if this is one of the occasional visits to my blog by Son number one or two.  You may not want to read this one about Mommy.

I had my gynecology visit today, couple different reasons, get my pap smear, routine check under the hood, and just make sure everything's ok down under.

Muffy aka va-jayjay just hasn't felt all sugar and spice and everything nice since chemo.  Nothing huge.  Not like a yeast infection or a bladder infection.  Just a little sumpthin sumpthin, a little giddy missing out of my giddy-up.

So I bravely did my duty today, saddled up, feet in the stirrups, and held on to the pillow under my head in case the horsey bucked.  Wasn't so bad.  Hell, not with what I've been through.

Turns out Muffy indeed does have a little cold, so to speak.  Ever heard of bacterial vaginosis?  Not to be confused with delusion halitosis.  Hey, you try finding something that rhymes with vaginosis!  Anyway, bacterial vaginosis is the most common of vaginal infections, caused by an overgrowth of bacteria normally residing in the vagina.  Too many cheerleaders at the party.  I guess it can be common during and after chemo, when blood counts of the good bacteria get low.

Let me break it down for you.  After the flora and the fauna in my lovely muffy meadow were NAPALMED, the pirates looted the place.

In order to restore my treasure, I was given a prescription antibiotic cream to use nightly at bedtime for seven nights.  The wonder cream inhibits bacterial growth and returns peace to the kingdom.

So there you have it.

Just one more damn reason added to the million and three reasons not to get breast cancer.

One million and four.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jumpin Jack Flash

Well, it's official, I am having a daily hot flash.

Oh boy, isn't this fun?

So far, hot flash lift off always starts the same for me.

I feel my cheeks get very hot.
Not those cheeks silly, these, up here!
My cheeks on my face get hot, and ring around the rosy red.
The heat moves down into my neck area and upper chest, and my forehead perspires.

It lasts about twenty minutes, till all systems cool down.  I knew not having a period anymore was too good to be true.  There's always gotta be a catch.

Wanna know what helps put out this girl's fire?

It's my new favorite.  Flavored coconut water.  Uh huh.  Its good.  100% natural coconut water with pureed fruit flavors, like acai and pomegranate.

Very refreshing and full of potassium.

I'm thinkin, if this tropical heat wave really gets out of control, my back up plan will be a Vitacoco Cosmo, shaken, and poured into a frosted martini glass.  Acai, pomegranate and vodka.  See, antioxidants can be fun!

All I need is the little pink umbrella.

Nah.

No more pink.

How bout purple?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Yes

Other than taking my daily Tamoxifen pill, I am done with treatment.

"How many times is she going to say that?" you ask.

I keep finding things, signs of being in cancer treatment, and tonight I give myself permission to let go of these now.

In my car in one of the little cubbies, is a bundle of my admission bracelets to radiation.

Next to my bed is my zippered and pink, bag of tricks.  Inside are several unfinished bottles of  prescriptions, primarily nausea meds for during chemo, and pain meds for after my surgery.  There are a few other items in there, a thermometer, stool softener, laxatives, acid reducer, and preparation H.  There is also a solid honey lotion bar used when my hands and cuticles were especially dry from chemo, and many times when very nauseated, I was comforted by deep breaths of the sweet scent.

Under my bathroom sink is a prescription mouth rinse when I was having lots of blistering and problems with my gums and tongue during chemo.  There are also some plastic syringes fill with sterile saline that chemo nurse Kitty gave me to rinse my eyes when they were very itchy and reacting to Taxol.

My chemo bible, Chemo Companion Care Guide, is still part of the stack of books on my nightstand, as well as a large ribboned bundle of treasured cards and letters sent to me during treatment.

My assortment of aloe socks and gloves, received as care package gifts from a few kind friends, are in a basket next to my bed.  I used them often, moisturizing hands and feet that were dry and cracking from five months of chemo.

Many of the songs on my nano Ipod were songs I downloaded during treatment.  When I listen to them now, I am instantly transported to sleepless weekends coming down from steroids to counter the allergic effects of chemo.  Most of the time, as much as I loved these songs, when I hear one now, I have to skip past it.  This song, in particular, still makes me cry, a reminder of the self I left behind.

The physical remnants of my cancer treatment can be shed, as more and more of the metaphorical ones fall out of my pockets and from my blond brain.

When thou passest through the waters, I [will be] with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.  Isaiah 43:2

I walked through the rivers and through the fire.
I am out the other side now, crawling away from the rubble.
There there now, the Voice says to me.  Unzip your life jacket.  Put down the fire extinguisher.
Do not make that wreckage a shrine or your home.

Use it.
To tell the story of what you learned.
Use it.
To choose how you will live.
Use it.
Not so it defines you, but so your reply becomes the defining moment when you said yes to your life.

You dear reader are my witness.   Yes.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Just Deb

The longer you work in the Napa Valley in the restaurant business, almost anywhere you go you cross the path of someone you used to work with.

That happened to me today, "up Valley" as we say, when Husband and I were with Midge and 6C, doing a tasting menu where their reception will be held late this summer.

Tending bar was an old friend of mine; I first worked with him eleven years ago, and when that place closed unexpectedly, he got me a new job.

"Darlin?" in his thick Texas accent I heard him say on the phone one morning.  We had worked together about two years at that point.  "I've got good news and I got bad news, which one you want first?"

Gulp.

"I guess the bad news" I said closing my eyes.

"Well, the bad news is you ain't got a job, the place closed."

Before I could squeak he said "The good news is I got you a new job."

So we worked together again.  He's one of the best and most cantankerous bartenders I ever worked with, and always looked out for me.  I hadn't seen him in several years, and then, there he was today.

As I approached his bar, he looked at me, and I could see he did not know me.  He looked again as I moved closer to hug him.  Then I saw it on his face.  The recognition of an old friend.  The surprise and shock regarding my appearance

I think it's one of the challenges when you are still fresh out of treatment, and you haven't seen someone in awhile.  You have to tell the story again, the one you'd like to forget.

He hugged me tight, and it still surprises me what hugs feel like now without Flopsy and Mopsy.  When I hug a woman, I feel the contour of her breasts against my flat chest.  When I hug a man, our chests are flush.  It's weird and foreign.

"Darlin, it is so good to see you, where you been, and you ok?"

Then comes the part where I have to explain I had breast cancer, just finished treatment, and blah blah blah.

Today was a good day.  Planning for Midge's wedding, and seeing her so happy.  A Super Bowl party at my boss' house, and spending time with co-workers I hadn't seen since before my surgery.

Tonight though I keep thinking about my old friend, when I saw him today, and he saw this me, and when my co-workers saw me too.

Their thoughts and worry scroll across their foreheads in red letters like one of those digital marquee signs.

Deb.  Cancer.  Deb.  Cancer.  Deb.  Cancer.  Deb.  Cancer.  Deb.  Cancer.

I miss the days when it was just Deb.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Quilt of Essentials

I am clearly in the next phase of this cancer gig.  It is not only a factual reality I have completed treatment, it is palpable to me now.

Three weeks out from radiation and completing nine months of treatment, I feel like Dorothy, opening the door after she's landed in Oz.

Cancer treatment is grueling, gravity defying, courageous work.  It requires endurance and patience, like running a marathon, pushing your body and spirit to its ultimate limits.

This phase feels like I'm doing lots and lots of math, in between periods of great rest.

My brain is working overtime to review and process and accept what has happened, my body is working hard to heal the collateral damage of treatment, and I am seeking sleep, meditation and quiet more than ever.

I am healing in a body I don't recognize, yet with spirit that is blooming content.  I feel as if I've waken from a deep sleep or crawled out of the rabbit hole.  I am making my way home from some other worldly place, The Kingdom of Lost Breasts.  I am getting my bearings, not everything once familiar seems familiar now.  My life was deconstructed, and the thousand little pieces are overflowing from my pockets and scattered at my feet.

I'm looking at each one, and throwing out more than I've kept.

Puzzles have too many pieces.  Puzzles are too much work.  I am sorting through my life and choosing to leave behind with my cancer many things I used to think I could not live without.

I'm done with puzzles, and all the hysteria and frustration and obsession once spent looking for, keeping track of, and maintaining all those pieces.  And still feeling empty.  And still searching for meaning.

I am quietly and contently stitching a life and home now that is more like this simple beautiful quilt, lovingly made by a local guild and received my last day of treatment.




I'm ready to let go of anything and everything that keeps me from these.

Friday, February 4, 2011

What They Missed

It's been great fun this week at our global bloggers party, and I've been surprised and enjoyed the influx of visitors to my blog.  Even more I've enjoyed the inspiration found when I explored other bloggers interests, passions and obsessions.

You may or may not know there is a bit of irony that I write a blog, and recently made a Facebook page for it.  I have always been a fairly private person, and I've been quietly anti-Facebook until now.  It seemed rather voyeuristic to me, and like reading gossip magazines, except you know all the people.  I doubted its ability to create, renew or enhance real connection.  If the fizzy vitamin C drink could jokingly be called crack for Christians, I saw Facebook as their acceptable pornography.

Even with my blog, I realize how naive I've been.  Thinking this was something between you and me, talking to you each night, speaking from my heart, and sometimes from my misery, dealing with this cancer thing.  It all seemed so small and somehow intimate to me, and it touched me when you would write that the things I said or shared then changed or shifted something in you, or made you get your mammogram.

I've enjoyed all the new visitors to my blog, very satisfying receiving comments from some who spent time reading some of my posts, and wrote things that were thoughtful, kind and relevant.  There have been just as many visitors who didn't read anything at all, only interested in the give away, as if the point of  One World One Heart is to win prizes.  That cracks me up!  Those visitors leave comments on blogs as if buying a raffle ticket for a cake walk, the more you buy the greater your chances of winning that cake!

All of this made me revisit why I decided to write this blog, and what I hoped the take aways would be for my reader.

It was really simple to me.

I thought there might be the distinct possibility I might die a whole lot sooner than I planned.  What was I going to do about it?

The idea of the blog and then the blog itself became my reply.  My Duncle Dody and I had an email discussion about it awhile ago when he offered feedback and direction regarding my blog and one of my posts.  I later copied my reply to him and have been adding to it, saving it as a draft for a post I'd write "What's this blog about anyway?" 

I have received some great feedback from so many people, I love reading them all. It is also fascinating who makes up my readership. It is fairly evenly divided between a few camps - family and friends who just want to stay updated on what is happening with me, folks who are coming to get educated on breast cancer and the realities of treatment, fellow cancer Sisters who are in the thick of it and either ahead of me in treatment and lighting a path for me, or newbies who I am lighting a path for. There is also a very large camp who don't come for the stuff about cancer. They come for the honesty of a person just trying to live a life and grow and enlighten and connect with a higher power. There is also my "secret fan club," readers who read every day for months and months and then reveal themselves to me.



Everybody has their claim on what they think my blog is about or should be about.


I LOVE THAT.


There are those who love the teaching about cancer blogs. There are others who are adamant that my best blogs are the ones where I talk about being a woman or being a mother or my attempts to excavate my deepest self. I love that the range of opinions on this is huge! Predominantly though, my posts that have had the most hits are the ones that are extremely personal, involve personal growth or spirituality and a map to finding the sacred ordinary in your life.


When I first decided to write the blog, it was mostly about dealing with cancer. For me now, this blog ain't about cancer anymore. Cancer is a supporting role.


Anybody can write a blog about the facts regarding treatment, advocacy and survival.


I am writing from the heart and sharing my Debbie story. I am doing it for me, as a way of talking myself through this, mothering myself through this, and the beauty of that transparency is that the observers of this very personal journey all have their own idea about what the best takeaways are. I love that.


The gift I most hope to pass on through my blog is how to find the sacred in the ordinary, seeing things with new eyes in your life, and being present and grateful even while facing life's most difficult challenges. To emphasize the importance and satisfaction of connecting with a higher power, and more deeply connecting with the people you love.   Just as important, disconnecting and freeing yourself from what does not serve all that is loving and empowering in your life.  Embracing your life while breaking emotional chains.

And let me not forget my deepest intention, that this blog be a love letter to my boys, about who I was, and none of it was better or more important or could ever stop me from always and forever being their Mom.

I still think, with all the things I've written on this blog and many I'm proud of, this will always be the best paragraph I ever wrote.  With whatever I have accomplished and however I have failed and whatever is still out there for me, there is no greater thing I will ever do in this life than have, and love, and teach these boys.  No greater thing.

For all those of you, scampering around on a scavenger hunt, this is what you missed, the real take away from this blog called the sacred ordinary, by writergirldreams.

Oh, one more thing I wanted this blog to hit out of the park.  Sure, early detection and awareness is very important regarding breast cancer, but ask any one of us who've had it, and we'll all tell you the same.

Early detection is no substitute for a cure.

We want a cure.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

That Was Some Party!

A huge thank you to Lisa Swifka and her blog, The Whimsical Bohemian, for being the hostess with the mostest, and throwing one hell of a party for bloggers all over the world.  And it ain't over yet!

Wow.  Is it possible to have a hangover when you haven't had a drink????  That was some progressive party, going from blog to blog, till the wee wee hours for me, and I still have lots more to drop in on!!!!

It was incredible, all the wonderful blogs I travelled to, and so many bloggers stopped in to say hello to me.  It's been just grand.  If you haven't checked it out, it's not too late.  The last time I checked, there were over 750 blogs in attendance at Lisa's cyber party.  I am number 708.  I highly recommend you check them out and dive into the world of blogging.  It is great fun.  You may find some favorites!

One World One Heart 2011

Thank you Lisa so very much for the opportunity to discover and meet bloggers from all over the globe, and give exposure to my blog and it's message.  Thank you Lisa.

my best to you, wgd

Click here to read all about Lisa

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One World One Heart 2011

 Logo2011small


A Whimsical Bohemian, One World One Heart Blog Event

Hello, thank you for coming to my breast cancer blog, the sacred ordinary.  Would you like a cup of tea, while I tell you a story about me?


Once upon a time, in a land so far away from here, there was a princess with golden locks, a song in her heart, and a pen in her hand.  She ruled over a candlelit kingdom of lost boys and lost puppies, cooking over the burning fire of a crockpot, and finding enchantment in a garden full of fairies and gnomes, hummingbirds and butterflies, and two doves coo cooing while bay breezes chimed chimes.


She had no magical powers, but believed she did, for most of her life whispered the prayer "Let No Bad Happen" and thought it so, not realizing it was mostly because when she looked for Good, she always found it.


A plague fell upon her, she saw it, appearing as a black hole in a starry sky.  There were thousands like her.


Much was asked of her to battle the plague.  Give up your magical thinking, give up your golden locks, give up the comfort of your routines and rituals, and surrender your body to potions and poisons that will kill the plague, unless they kill you first.


When you have done all these, she was told, then you must go to the Kingdom of Lost Breasts.   You will travel there alone, except for the help of a Wizard.  You must leave your breasts alongside millions of others, bravely surrendered by the Sacred Order of the Sisterhood of Cancerous Breasts.


When you return from that place, we will cast more magic upon you, until you glow like a firefly, every night for twenty nights plus eight.


The princess did all that was asked of her, met every challenge in the abyss of her fear, with the help of legions of Angels that had arrived, knowing she could not do this on her own.


Every night, her empty pockets were refilled with starlight.


She waits now, for passage to the Kingdom where she will leave behind accessories, and walk away with her life, still believing Good is found everywhere, and mostly in a heart that loves.


Please comment below with your email address, because in keeping with the One World One Heart tradition, a randomly selected prize winner will be announced on my blog February 17th.  Anyone is eligible for the prize, you just need to visit and comment!

from me to you
Enjoy your day tripping through blogs from all over the world.  Enter here...  If you are looking for me, I am #708!  Thank you so much for visiting mine.

Blessings upon you, writergirldreams

UPDATE 2/9/11:  My goodness gracious, so many blogs, so little time!  I am slowly making my way through all the blogs that came to visit here, and they just keep coming!  I think I need to give away more prizes!  Oh and by the way,

GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM!  Promise? 
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