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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another Year Over...

And a new one just begun....

Farewell 2014!

I'm not sure why I felt so strongly about doing a post as we see 2014 end and 2015 begin. I'm really not.  For O and me, this year has just been, well... Nothing really excellent, but nothing really terrible either. In breastcancerland, that would translate to a most excellent year, actually. There was almost a major life change, which would have ticked off my biggest bucket list item, (another post for another time) but it wasn't meant to be.

This year was quite eventful though, with so many memorable moments.  We lost so many (too many) beloved entertainers, had heartbreaking airline disasters, and the whole Ebola thing. But we also saw the world dancing to "Happy" and the Ice Bucket Challenge sweep the interwebs, to name just a (tiny) few.

When I look back on my year, I guess I'm just grateful that my health situation remains "No Evidence of Disease" as far as the docs can tell. I have been NED for 5 1/2 years, and this is my 6th New Year's since being diagnosed. I am so grateful to still be here, apparently healthy. So my word of the year, as it has been the last 5, is still "grateful".

Not really doing any resolutions again this year. Maybe just be hopeful that we move closer and faster to the no one has to be part of that 30%.

Really, more than anything, I think I  just wanted to take a moment, before 2014 draws to a close, to say Thank You for reading and keeping up with us here. Thank you for caring.  Thank you for your continued support, words of encouragement, comments and conversation.

I have high hopes for 2015. Not just for myself, but for all who have had to live with or had their lives touched by cancer.

So, thanks again...and see you next year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

But I Still Love Technology...

I have a real love / hate relationship with technology.  There are so many things I love about it, like the invention of social media.  It really is a bridge across the miles for me.  Especially Video Conferencing things like Skype & FaceTime. Love love love that.  

As much as I love the things we can now see and do with Technology, like, not having to be chained to a desk eight hours a day to get work done, there are things I seriously dislike.  Among those....texting.  Well, I guess that's a love / hate thing too...I do like to send a quick text, when, back in the day, I would have had to pick up the phone, make a call and possibly lose 15 -30 minutes, when all I really need is a Yes or No answer to a question.  And I also enjoy texting over phone convo most times, depending on the person or timing.  But then, by using Text, we are missing out on HUMAN contact. I adore human contact. It's definitely on the decline.  I miss it.  

One thing that's more than a bit annoying (and yes, I have done this too, but have, in the last year or so, tried hard to not do this) is when people are actively texting with someone else, just type-type-typing away, and simultaneously attempting to have a conversation with you, like, right there in front of you. I'm not talking about a quick "Yes" or "No" text reply to someone. Or even responding to an urgent text...but at least say something like "Hang on, I need to reply to this really quick..."  I don't mind waiting. I really don't. (And if you catch me doing this, please say something, cause I don't want to be that person, ya know?)

A glaring downside of Technology is this: we are approaching a state of accepting "just good enough" over excellence in certain areas.  An example: video footage and video projects just (apparently) don't have to look good anymore.  Increasingly, so many people just simply can't tell the difference between a professional final product - one shot and edited by a passionate, talented producer, over amateur work. So "good enough" is winning out, and it's probably more to do with financial issues than desire for talent. And this is all I'm going to say on this topic.  That is a much bigger rant for another time.

I must admit though, Technology has  been especially helpful to me since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While I do appreciate having lived and very well remember a time before the internet and mobile phones, I am crazy-thankful to have had access to Technology and Social Media outlets during that devastating time in 2009.  Because of Technology and Social Media, I was able to reach out to others who have gone through breast cancer, ask questions, get advice, bounce ideas, and cry on their cyber shoulders.  I have "met" so many amazing people online, some I now consider to be among my closest and dearest friends. And not just breast cancer people. I believe we come across people and connect with some in the online world for a reason.  Pretty sure I may never meet these dear ones in person, but I am so thankful for every single one of them.  

And Technology in medicine. While there is still so far we have yet to go to find a cure for breast cancer and ALL cancer, I'm alive today because of one medication, Herceptin, that wasn't yet FDA approved as recently as even 20 years ago. I also benefited from newish techniques in locating the tumor, and in administering radiation, I'm told. And probably so many more areas that I'm not aware of. Oh, and more cancer vaccines are beginning to appear on the horizon, and better treatments through immunotherapy too. So YAY Technology! 

This blog.  Another positive I owe to Technology.  This blog started out as a way for me to market things I was selling online.  And it fell off after diagnosis.  Then I started a CarePage. And then moved all that content over to here.  I needed a way to keep family and friends apprised of my status as I went through surgeries, chemo, radiation, Herceptin, hair loss, hair growth, and just stuff. And now, it's a place for me to rant, vent, muse, and ramble...

Yeah, I'm rambling now....Anyway, love it or hate it, Technology keeps on moving, changing, evolving. 

I love it.  And I hate it. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I'm Super! Thanks For Asking!

How many times, when you ask someone how they're doing, do you really want to know how they are doing? Do you ask cause you really want to know, or is it just part of your greeting? And when people say they're doing fine/great/super, do you think they really are doing fine/great/super, or is their reply just an automatic response to a greeting?  

I used to do breast cancer so much differently.  In 2009, once I was able to stop crying and pull my shit together after getting the diagnosis, I had made up my mind that I was "tougher and WAY cooler than any stupid infiltrating ductal carcinoma", stage 3a.  And I put on my pink stuff and told any and everybody who would listen that I "HAD bc.  Past tense".  And that I have "already beaten it, cause my scans are clear!"

Oh how naive.  How naive and how unprepared I was.  

And for a couple of years, when someone would see me out and about, they would ask "How are you doing? How are you feeling?"  And regardless of how I was actually doing or feeling at the time, I would chirp "I'm GREAT! I'm kickin cancer's ass!" *Hug* "Thanks for asking! How are YOU?" And then sometimes the convo would go on about what was going on treatment wise, which I would riddle with jokes and sarcastic comments, sort of giving the finger to bc.  I tried to be as humorous as possible and appear to be the most courageous, bad ass, cancer ass kicker anyone had ever seen.  

*Insert eyeball roll here*

At least half of the time back then, if I had answered truthfully, I would have said that I was really terrified of the surgeries pending.  Or that I was totally upset that I'm bald.  And it wasn't until active treatment ended that it occurred to me that, bc people are never, ever really out of the woods. And I spent a good 2 years in a state of complete panic over the possibility of recurrence, or mets.  So during that time, if I had been honest, I would have expressed those thoughts, rather than "I'm great! *Insert # of years* cancer free (?!) and still kickin!"

*Insert eyeball roll here*

Why did I do this?

Because I didn't (still don't) think some people want to hear the horror story that is the new normal for a bc person.  And I'm pretty sure that if I had been 100% honest with everyone, all the time, some people would probably stop asking about how I am. Maybe even go the other way when they see me coming... 

I think it's because it makes people sad, or fearful when they hear someone with bc not doing the whole Pink *Rah Rah, I'm a Warrior! I Fight Like A Girl! I kick cancer's ass!*  stuff and then they just think that you're not doing it right.  You're supposed to be wearing a pink tutu and boa and shouting "C'mon cancer! Bring it on! I got this!"  

Whatever.  I can't do that shit anymore.  Haven't been able to in awhile.  

And here's another reason why...Honestly, some people don't know me well enough for me to have even wanted to be all full disclosure with them. But I no longer "chirp" the pink party line.  Just can't do it. 

So if I do say "I'm SUPER! Thanks for asking!", I actually mean it. 
"Don't you think I look cute in this hat?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Beautiful People

When a celebrity gets breast cancer....

Some celebs, who go through treatment in the public eye, make it look so easy... Which is easier to do with a team of stylists, perfect lighting, the money and the stuff that money can buy (personal trainers, chefs, etc)... Just wanted to put my thoughts about that out there.

I've been thinking about this topic for awhile.  Every time a celebrity gets bc, and then goes public about it, it brings lots of attention and opinion. I remember back when the whole Angelina Jolie thing broke.  I said my piece about it on my Facebook page and was totally flamed by other bc people, trying to educate me. Some didn't even appear to realize that I'm a bc person myself.  So it is with great trepidation that I dare to go there again...

But here I go.

This popped up in my news feed this week.

It's attached to an article from AARP.

For whatever reason, these two are now gonna teach us all lessons in beating cancer, and even curing or preventing it??  Really? They are now, not just singers, but also medical doctors?  

Looking at the above picture, I see their first couple of comments seem to contradict each other.... SC says "You don't say 'I did this, and that's why I got cancer'..." while ME says "This was of my own doing, and I take responsibility..." 

Well, which is it?

And this business of turning on or off your BRCA gene mutation....WHAT????? Genes can be turned on and off? Like a light switch? Or an organic veggie grinding smoothie machine? 

And making sure you remain in a Zen-state will keep cancer from cropping up or coming back? Really?

"And if "beating it" were as simple as only eating organic, consuming tons of kale and blueberries, chowing down on lentils while burning patchouli incense and singing "Kum Ba Yah" around a fire pit, then surely info on this would take bc treatment more that way, oncologists would prescribe it & proclaim the elusive cure has been found, and no more with the "slash / poison / burn" treatment.  Ya know?" ~LunaTechChick

And yes, early detection is essential, but it's not a cure. Yes, a mammogram can find cancer, but it can also find other, weirdo, non life threatening things in there, too...and the mammo itself isn't what saved your life, if you actually DO beat bc...which leads back to the whole 30% discussion...

Near the end of the article, they say their bc was "a gift".  I know some others who feel that way too.  I am not one of those people.  I'm still so damn pissed off that it happened to me in the first place. And that's another rant for another time....

What's not shown on the the photo, but is talked about in the article is the fact that they both did use some tried and true MEDICAL TREATMENTS.  Surgery, ME did chemo.  THAT is what helped y'all "beat cancer".  If... two cents....celebrities' voices are powerful.  Their words and actions carry so much weight with their fans. I think they have a responsibility to be careful how they "do" their cancer when they do it in the public eye. It just bothers me when, a celebrity cancer person starts speaking publicly like they are some sort of medical professional, or are now the expert on cancer prevention/treatment/cure.  

Y'all are singers, actors, and entertainers.  Not medical doctors.  What works and is right for you is not necessarily right for someone else. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

And Every Day Is Halloween!

Goodbye Pinktober. Yet the pink crap hangs around. Sure the big displays on endcaps and in aisles will be packed away, but you can always find pink ribbon crap around in stores, all year long.  It makes a bit of a comeback in the spring also, for some reason. But I'm glad to see the end of the pink party. Buh-bye Pinktober!

I love Halloween. It's my favorite holiday. It's full of scary, spooky fun. But there is that "fear" that is part of my life, and I totally hate it. "The fear"....the bc fear. Fear of recurrence. Fear of metastasis. Fear of having to do it all over again, be bald, feel shitty, wonder if I'm gonna live through it. It sucks, but it's part of the "new normal" for most bc people. And sadly, so far, nothing from all that pink awareness has done anything to even begin to corrected that. 

Anyway... I appreciate (every day) that I am one who is so very fortunate that I can choose to not allow that effin fear be part of my day today. (So many are not. And no thanks to the pink awareness.) 

It's Halloween, I love it, and I'm going to enjoy it. 

And I'm going to try (harder) to make every day like Halloween...

Buh-bye Pinktober! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Just Beat It

Ok, time for a bit of a rant. (Again?) And maybe I'm just too sensitive, need a thicker skin...whatever. And this post has been in draft and rewrites since before I reached the end of all the cancer doctor appointments for this year. And I'm pretty sure a bit of what I'm bout to say will make me unpopular with some.  

I'm sure we're all seeing this, especially now that we're right in the middle of the pink craziness that is October....banners and pictures that state: "When breast cancer is detected early, the 5 year survival rate is 98%." This is starting to grind my very last damn nerve. That number...98%, includes so many people who will not survive bc.  This number is based on still being alive after 5 years.  So you catch it early, do treatment, survive 5 years, you are counted as a survivor.  If you get diagnosed with metastasis of your bc, even the day after your 5 year cancerversary, (or even in the middle) well, then, I guess you get counted again as part of the 30% of bc people who will get metastasis, even years and years later.  So now you're both a "survivor" and a stage 4 patient. Mine was not considered "early stage" by the way. 

So recently I've had more than one person tell me that I'm allowing "the fear" to ruin the rest of my cancer free life, every day, and that it's such a shame, since I've "already beat it".  (Obviously people are super weary of my bc talk this time of year.) Some expressed this opinion to me in a friendlier manner than some others did. But not all the people who know and care for me think this way...Or at least I don't thinks so... Maybe there are some who are keeping it to themselves if they feel this way about the way I'm handling my survivorship.... Well...if only there was a point where we can know for absolute sure that bc is done...not coming back, I wouldn't get so bent when people say that kind of thing to me. But, sadly, we aren't there yet.  And, although I've blogged this nine ways from hell to breakfast, it bears repeating....bc is an asshole... it's a kind of cancer where there is no amount of cancer free time that indicates "yer done". Ok? There's just not!! And it could come back, or worse, metastasize, at any time, regardless of the stage at initial diagnosis and regardless of treatment chosen. And it can come back as a totally different kind of bc than what you started with too, so there's that. Pretty much about 30% of people diagnosed will have stage 4 bc.  And it sucks. And this is where "the fear" comes in when dealing with oncology style of appointments.  

Now, I can confirm that, each year I'm better at managing this effin "fear".  Less and less of my time is consumed with bc issues now.  BUT, when faced with a mammo, or oncologist, or blood rears it's ugly head.  And from what I can tell from talking with others, it's completely normal and natural.  I allow myself to feel how I feel. 

And if "beating it" were as simple as only eating organic, consuming tons of kale and blueberries, chowing down on lentils while burning patchouli incense and singing "Kum Ba Yah" around a fire pit, then surely info on this would take bc treatment more that way, oncologists would prescribe it & proclaim the elusive cure has been found, and no more with the "slash / poison / burn" treatment.  Ya know?

Anyway, we're all (bc people) gonna have those anxious moments... please don't make the mistake of telling us to just be all super happy & positive 100% of the time cause we've "beat it".  

Only if and when I'm privileged enough to become much, much older and / or pass from something other than bc.... Then I've beaten it.

Just sayin...

Ok, end rant.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Breathe With Me....

So, I tried something a little different for this round of visits to all the doctors.  I didn't come on this blog, or even social media, all whining & lamenting ad nauseam for days and days about each and every single one of my appointments this time around.  No, rather, I blogged that they were looming ever closer a time or two, and left it at that.  But now that I've seen all the docs, and had the dreaded mammogram, I'm here to say that we lived through it...I'm still married...(LOL), and I'm still in the clear.  

NOW I can celebrate the gratitude for still being here, five years out.  And we do know, again, five years doesn't mean much for bc, but it's still pretty damn huge.  Especially for the kind of bc bs I had.

And, another something a little different. Although this last appointment yesterday with the always excellent Dr W was the last to officially "graduate" me to ANNUAL appointments, from six month appointments, my oncology team and I would still like for an oncology minded doctor to put his eyes (and hands) on me, at least every six months.  How can this work?  Well, Dr W said that he has no problem with a slingshot into in, I will not see him again until March, 2016.  Then it will be him annually in March, and Dr V / mammo annually in September.  

Ok, let's back up to the beginning.  It started with the mammogram.  I was a little extra nervous this time because, exactly one week prior, I noticed a firm, round, lump thingy in my chest, on the bc side, about an inch and a half below my collar bone.  And I just KNEW it was a bad lymph node.  Just knew it! So I asked the mammo tech to feel it.  She wasn't impressed with it at all.  And this diagnostic mammo was fine and I was told I can now move to "regular annual screening" mammos, if the ordering physician agrees.  

So the next day was the visit with the most excellent surgeon, the "ordering physician" Dr V. I put his hand on this newly found round thingy.  He wasn't impressed with it either.  I asked about having an ultrasound on it. He was happy to order it, but felt nothing was even going to show up. Said it may very well just plain simple be my body.  So I agreed....he IS the boss of this stuff anyway.... If it changes or grows at all, call and we'll check it out further. So that was that, and I decided to try not to worry with it anymore. 

Next up was the annual physical with Dr C.  He gets to be the "scary doctor" this time, cause he's in charge of running the blood work that the oncologist, Dr W, will look at to determine my future.  Had a nice visit.  I decided to have Dr C also put his hand on the little round lump thingy.  He totally dismissed it as a possible "nothing lump thing", like a "subcutaneous round cyst lump of nothing", or something along those lines.  So, at this point, I'm not concerning myself with it anymore.  Unless it gets bigger.  So I'm trying to stop touching it constantly.  Maybe just check it monthly, like I'm supposed to be checking my boobs.   And the blood work came in with perfect results, as usual. Oh, and O told me so. LOL! ;)

Anyway, back to yesterday's was probably the most lovely visit I've ever had with Dr W, second only the the very first visit we had with him way back in 2009.  And at the end he gave me the most nicest, sincere hug.  And I left floating out the door on Cloud 9. 

And then O took me out to the nearby Cheesecake Factory for a lovely lunch and my annual, celebratory, and very over priced Grey Goose Martini with Bleu Cheese Olive.  And it was Awesomeness.  (I know, I as I say, not as I do, y'all! LOL!)

And that wraps this year's tour of oncology appointments.  I'm in the clear, still dancin with NED for another year. 


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Why Don't We Get Drunk And...

Raise money for breast cancer research? Really?

Wow...I'm seeing some really stupid fundraising for this Pinktober, but this sucks on several levels.

First, studies have recently shown alcohol to be a risk factor in breast cancer.  So yeah, probably not the best idea in the world to sell alcohol to raise money for bc research.

And also the sexualization of bc..."X-Rated Flirtini"...There's nothing sexy about bc.

I received this in the mail last week.  Pretty sure that LBBC has no idea they are being associated with this. I sent it to them to ask.  Haven't heard back. 

UPDATE: October 16, 2014 I received the following email from Living Beyond Breast Cancer:

"Dear Kimberly,

Sorry for the delay in responding.  Our gala is this Saturday and your email got buried in the general email box. 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns with us regarding Houlihan’s October promotion that benefits LBBC.  We are aware of this partnership and agreed to it, but we did not see or approve the advertisements.

Please know that we take into account the opinions of the people we serve and very much appreciate your input.  We will take your opinion into consideration as we evaluate future partnerships. 

Again, thanks for writing.

Sandy Martin
Vice President of Advancement

Living Beyond Breast Cancer
354 West Lancaster Avenue
Suite 224
Haverford, PA 19041"

Friday, October 10, 2014

It's Not Enough...

This may be a bit of a ramble.....

BRCA testing. I don't think I like the idea of making BRCA testing mandatory, as has been in the news recently.  And no, I haven't read every article or every word or every blog about it. It was mentioned to me in 2010, that I might want to consider it. I am the only person in my entire family to have a cancer of any kind, that I'm aware of.  And I thought about it.  Did some research.  Here's what I decided.  I'm not going to take the test. I don't want or need to know.  Why? Because, just because a person tests Positive for the BRCA gene, it's not a guarantee that they will get breast cancer.  And if a person tests Negative for the BRCA gene, it's not a guarantee that they WON'T get breast cancer.  And I do understand there are no guarantees in life. But me being me, a positive BRCA result is going to wreck the entire rest of my life, even more so than bc has already, and then I'll have to consider whether or not to have all kinds of other surgery to remove this or that. When there's no way to actually KNOW for sure what's going to happen. It's not very scientific, but it's how it is for me. And It's Not Enough.

"It's haunting you from inside now..." 

So I'm better off just being vigilant with trying to stay as healthy as I can, and see my oncology team as recommended and treat whatever may come up, just as I did in 2009 - 2010.  So no, I don't want it to become mandatory testing.  I rather like having a choice.  

It's Not Enough to get your annual mammogram.  I hope you'll click this link and read this article.  Perhaps the mammogram isn't the "life saver" so many celebrity breast cancer survivors & others tout it to be.  When they say "A mammogram saved my life" or "I got lucky, now I'll live to see...."  while still so early on in or after treatment. How can they even KNOW that? Metastases just plain ol fucking happens...regardless of stage of diagnosis, regardless of treatment chosen.  It just appears to be random. The fucker. I'm not so sure I'm ever going to get another mammogram. It's Not Enough. 

And apparently the people around a survivor will sometimes grow weary of hearing about the anxiety that can unnerve us breast cancer people, especially when a doctor's appointment is coming up. Although they mean well and encourage us to "be positive, be happy, get on with the rest of your life! It's over now!" It's Not Enough to have "apparently" beat it.  Let me refer you to the link above.  

It's Not Enough to slap a pink ribbon on something, or turn something pink.  It's just not. Because all this pink is not really helping anything.  There is no more need to push awareness about breast cancer.  All this pink merch is doing is making money for the merch makers. Sure, some donations are being made, but how much really? And to what organizations? When you get asked at the cash register if you'd like to "donate to breast cancer", ask the cashier to which organizations the funds will be donated. (Like my friend AM did.)  I dare ya. Rather, why not make a cash donation to Stand Up To Cancer, an excellent organization that is working hard to fight ALL cancer.

And again, I get both sides of this pink issue.  I know that some, yes, even some stage 4 folks, love this pink time of year and proudly wear the ribbon, not just in October, but all year long.  They are reminded of how far they've come and are reminded to be thankful, so some have told me.  And then there are so many others who are just put off by it.  It's a terrible reminder of the fear...the pain....the uncertainty....just all around badness. 

But the Pink Machine is in full effect, making most believe it's just one big pink party...that it's all "Yay survivors" and "Yay for boobies" or tatas, or second base....(I actually like to refer to mine as boobies..just sayin.) No regard for those who are really living with and in treatment for the rest of their forever.

I think I'm going to once again start sporting the pink ribbon myself...It DEFINITELY gets attention, definitely sparks conversation.  May be the perfect opportunity to share my own brand of "awareness".  

What IS Enough? 

Find the CAUSE! Find the CURE! Find out how to PREVENT it!

It's not Enough
Broken in two
It's not Enough
Speaking the truth

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Red And Yellow And Pink And Green....

...Purple and Orange and Blue....

Here's an idea....let's stop giving so much attention only to breast cancer.  How bout we focus on finding the cause, fund research and work to find cures for ALL cancers. 
Every Month. 
All Year.

Think Before You Pink.

My feelings on all this Pink in October have evolved quite a bit over the five years I've had to have the bc bs in my life. This year, my feelings on it are pretty much the same as they were last year. So here's a reblog of part of that post from Pretty In Pink.

Nope.  No it's not.  October. Here we go again.  Pink bc awareness month. Seems that every single year, my thoughts change on how I feel about all this pinkness.  Last year I was just kinda "meh" about it.

This year I'm just over the pink this & pink that.  No, I'm not one to get all militant about pink ribbons & pink everything in October.  But I'm starting to see that it's just not fair.  WHY all this attention on bc?  Isn't every single damn part of your body able to get some sort of cancer? Why all the bc focus?  And why pink?

One thing I really have never understood is all this "Race for the Cure" stuff where you see ladies all decked in pink everything, complete with boas & tutus & tiaras.  I can't really understand how people appear to be all celebratory about bc awareness.  Believe me, the world is totally fuckin aware of bc. And before you come at me with the "they're celebrating survivors" stuff...I get that.  But at the same time, I kind of feel it's insensitive to those living with stage iv bc, & to the families of those taken by it.  Yes, when I first was diagnosed, I went to "Pink Out" things & did Relay for Life stuff...wore pink ribbons...but as I went through & continue to go through it, thoughts & feelings change, ya know? 

Now hear this: There is NOTHING Pretty In Pink about bc.  

So, September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month...where's their Teal Race? Or Leukemia's Orange Race?  And so on & so on....

But nooooo...let's just make a big ol fuckin party about bc.  Why?  Cause it's BOOBS? Everybody likes to look at boobies, right?

Well, I'm sorry that maybe you don't find a Pancreas as pretty as Boobies, but I sure would like to see even HALF the attention given to bc, shared with funding research for pancreatic cancer...or colon cancer, or....What, colons not cute enough for ya? 

Let's not forget that there are all kinds of fucked up cancers out there, ok? (Is there any other kind? I think not.)

...Please don't misunderstand me.  I don't have issues with those who like the pink ribbon. I am not offended by the pink ribbon. I'm VERY honored when someone tells me they participated in a Pink *this or that* thinking of me or in my honor.  Love love love that.  And thank you so so so much.   

Just think before you pink. Seriously, the majority of this pink ribbon branded merch only donates the tiniest portion to bc research, if anything at all....


Let's take back October for spooky Halloween fun, cooler temps, sweaters and any and everything NOT to do with bc. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Learn To Swim's one of those days....The ones where "the fear" rears it's ugly head more than the usual. Feel like I'm drowning in it sometimes.

Learn To Swim...

And there's gonna be lots of days like this in the coming weeks as my "Tour d'Oncologie" is looming ever closer on the calendar.  And I'm pretty fuckin sick of it.  *Pardon my French*

Ugh.  I dunno....and with all this newish controversy surrounding mammos....I considered (still?) just skipping it this time.
Fuck a mammogram.  *Pardonnez mon Fran├žais*
Mammo didn't even SEE my VERY palpable tumor.  But, since it is the last diagnostic, and marks the (useless milestone) five years out, I'll go ahead with the fucking mammo.

Learn To Swim...

And then the visit with Dr V (Surgeon).  And then a physical with Dr C. And then Dr W (Oncologist).  And then I can breathe again for another year.

Unless I get an ache.  Or a pain.  Or a pimple.

Learn To Swim
Learn To Swim
Learn To Swim...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Well I'm Hot Blooded....

Searing Hot August Sun
Ok, so here's the thing.  At the beginning of the year, I thought that the ladybits were waking up and that I was not gonna be all menopausal anymore.  


Never saw "Aunt Flo" again after January & the stupid ass Hot Flashes have returned with a vengeance! And it doesn't help that we're in the hottest part of the summer here in our region. And I can break into a full on hot flash at the drop of a hat.  Any exertion at all can & lately does bring it on.  Something as simple as fastening my necklace around my neck will result in me being suddenly covered in sweat & feel like smoke is coming out of my shirt.  

Know what else sucks about it?  Hair drying.  Yeah.  Nothin like trying to blow dry your very much loved long, long (again finally) hair and then have the hot flash come on and now your scalp is sweating and you keep blowing the hot ass dryer air at it.  And by the time all is said and done, the hair didn't turn out cause the scalp won't stop sweating and now, fully drenched in sweat, feel like I need another damn shower!!!


EFF YOU cANCER! And EFF YOU hot ass August!

End Rant. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

To Help Me To Remember...

Chemobrain. I haz it.  Still.  And I'm pretty damn sick of it! Five years out, and I'm still dealing with stupid chemobrain.

Oh sure, I can remember all kinds of things...way way back things.  Entire days and events that were great and fun and...well, memorable.  But will I remember that I have a load of laundry going that will need to make it to the dryer in the next few minutes? Not without a reminder note...a "Forget-Me-Not" if you will.  I have to leave myself sooooooo many notes.  For just about everything.  There's Post It Notes here, scratch paper notes there, phone alerts to remind me to do stuff....Never in my life have I had to leave myself so many notes to help me to remember stuff.  Like "unload laundry", "run dishwasher". 

I wonder how some of my other bc friends do it.  They have major, detail oriented and important jobs.  Are there little reminders on notes  and stickies all over their life too? 

Chemobrain is a real thing, believe it or not. 

And for some, it apparently lasts longer than for others.  And mine has actually improved a lot in the last couple of years.  But I just get aggravated with this forgetfulness that lingers. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

...Ain't Too Much Sadder Than...

It still doesn't seem real.  The loss of Robin Williams.  And to learn it was suicide.  I just can't imagine it.  What kind of pain and sadness he must have been living with??

I have no words.  Just sadness.  Although I never met the man, I did grow up with him in my life via the big and small screens.  And it does feel like losing a friend.  

Depression is a disease.  Just like alcoholism.  Like cancer.  I don't believe people choose to be depressed. Not at all.  And it makes me very angry to see these stupid fucking memes all over social media demanding people choose to not be depressed.  It's a chemical issue in the brain, OK????

This is TOTAL bullshit.

I'm just so so sad about this. A world without Robin Williams in it. How can this even be real?

Rest In Peace Robin Williams. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Oh My My...

Oh hell yes! You got to put on that party dress....

Today, July 23, I have been "cancer free" for exactly 5 years. I use this date because this was the day the last surgery was done and had clear margins, thus removing all the cancer...I've had a very tough time getting this blog thoughts and feelings are just all over the place today, so I'm just gonna ramble a bit...

I remember when I first started going through all this bc stuff, I thought, "gosh, if I make it to the five year mark, I'll finally be free of bc, be able to relax and finally get on with life!" Well...I know now that it just doesn't work that way.

For the first year, 
(after the surgeries and first chemo) I was totally fearless while in treatment.  I was "fighting" as they say.  But not really...was just showing up to stuff...surgeries, chemos, radiations...Herceptins....not gonna go off here on my thoughts about the language of bc...again...

And pretty much, right about the time "active treatment" ended, I started realizing that this magical Five Year Point, where bc is concerned, isn't as magical as it is for other types of cancer.  And that's when I became a total freak at each and every single doctor's appointment, mammogram...any medical anything at all.  And any little ache, pain, bump or bruise sent me reeling with such fear that the bc was back.  Every little thing was a "symptom".  Ok, I still get like that with stuff sometimes, but not quite as much. 

While I'm ever SO grateful for every second, every moment, day and year that I'm here, feel good, and appear to be cancer free, I'm never really free of bc.  I am getting much better at getting on with my life...not being preoccupied by bc every minute.  But as the next round of oncology visits loom ever closer on the calendar, I feel the anxiety bubbling closer and closer to the surface. 

Today I've just felt like I'm in a bit of a fog....overwhelmed with such big, big gratitude for so many people who helped me get here...O, friends, family, my totally top notch medical team - a fabulous surgeon -  the awesome Dr V, day surgery nurses, chemo nurses, oncologists Dr W and Dr L...thankful for advances in medical technology and the development of medications...specifically
Dr Dennis Slamon and the development of Herceptin...

I've said so many times that, although it appears that I've "survived" bc, I don't believe we ever fully, 100% recover mentally and emotionally from having gone through it. So, while I am so so so much better in every way than I was, even a year ago....I'm just not ready to put on that party least not right this minute...

Today I am just so happy to have reached this "milestone".  But, as in the four years past, we will reserve the "official" celebration for after we've made all the oncology doctor rounds in September and October, and we learn that NED is still our BFF.   We still have a bit of time to decide exactly how we wanna celebrate. =)

Yes..."five year survival" is huge...definitely cause for celebration.  And we will.  Just not today. 

Today has been all about gratitude.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Kids Are Alright

"Awwww, they're just like a couple of kids!"

This was said about O and me recently, as we stood around laughing and talking with a business owner and her assistant at the end of an appointment. And we were all like "Yeah, well, ha ha haaaa..." all four of us laughing together...

I'm pretty sure it was meant in positive way...right?

Yeah, we're goofy
Even though we are in our 40's, I guess we really are still, SO young at heart. Even in spite of having gone through several life experiences that could have made us so much older than our years. 

But no...we really are just a couple of 40-something kids. 

And we're alright with that. =) 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Do You Remember The Time...

Today.  Today marks five years since Michael Jackson passed away. Farrah Fawcett as well, but all you saw on TV was Michael Jackson. I remember this day well. Ok, not "well" but, rather, vividly. Because when I heard the news that the King Of Pop was dead, I was resting on the sofa, ice pack on my boob, really flipping the fuck out from having just had a biopsy.

It was the beginning of the shit hitting the fan in our life.

Although I do tend to Remember The Times through all the procedures and treatments, this particular one might have been forgotten...except for MJ. And Farrah.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Everything I've Been Through...

You Wouldn't Know....

"You don't LOOK like a bc survivor!"  Ummmm....Thank you?

Who the fuck says that to someone? Well, I AM, whether or not I look like it.  My left boob sure as hell looks like it survived bc.  

What exactly does a bc survivor look like anyway?  Not all bc people do chemo, and take on the "look" of a cancer patient. (Assuming most associate the "look" with baldness or very short hair.) But I assure you, whatever a bc survivor is supposed to look like, I am one.**  
On my 45th Birthday 6/5/14

Throughout the treatment process, my look changed.  During the regrowth of my hair, I guess I must have "looked" like a bc survivor, cause no one ever said I didn't during that time.  

But the other day, someone actually said  to me..."You don't LOOK like a bc survivor!", and I was just kinda....well....flabbergasted beyond speech.  What are you trying to say a bc survivor looks like???

Think people. 

/ rant

** I kinda hate that term, "bc survivor", but I don't know what else say. I can't really say I've "survived" it, till I'm very, very old, if I am so fortunate.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Scar Tissue That I Wish You Saw

[Ok, here's a bit of a rambling, ranty musing...not much rhyme or reason here I don't think...]

Scars. Some scars you never see...and some emotional scars sometimes never heal. 

Oh sure, I could show you the big ol scar on what's left of my left boob, or the one under my arm from the removal of the lymph nodes...and sometimes you DO actually see the mediport scar.

But I guess what I wish people could understand is that once you've had this stupid ass never fully recover from it...mentally or emotionally.  Now, I'm not saying I'm all cancer, all the time.  Definitely not (anymore). But I do still have my moments.  Like any time something hurts...or doesn't feel quite right. Although I talk less and less about it with's always the back of my mind.  And how could it not be? The rest of my life is now filled with constant reminders.  Like, the reduced range of motion I have in my left arm now, the loss of strength in that same arm, the mild lymphedema...or having to put on a prosthesis to wear certain kinds of things...having to wear a compression garment to exercise or do other physical kinds of things, or when traveling by know, stuff like that.  

But after a certain point, most people expect that "You've won the battle & beat it" and "it's all over and done with now" so "let's get all back to normal now"...  But my normal is now a different kind of normal.  Even as I approach FIVE years out.  Which, seriously, means absolutely Jack-Shit in breastcancerland. Here's a FACT: 30% of people diagnosed with bc, regardless of the stage...yes even early stage, will develop distant metastasis.  And we don't know why. Maybe this is why my mind is now the way it is about all kinds of things.

My friend said something to me recently that got me to thinking.... Having had cancer (or going through a major or traumatic or life changing event) really does show you exactly who's who in your life. Who your friends are. Who your friends aren't. Who really cares/d about you. And who doesn't and/or never did. She is absolutely right. Realizing exactly who's who can be kind of scarring...

Also, when you learn of someone getting a mets diagnosis, or passing from it...scars.  Especially when that person had a similar diagnosis...or was diagnosed about the same time as you were. Very, very scarring.  

What's the worst unseen scar for me? The fact that our life is now divided into "BC" - Before Cancer and "AD" - After Diagnosis... 


Now, just because this post is a bit of a downer, please don't think I'm  going through life all sad or angry all the time and stuff.  Quite the contrary.   And yes, I do have bigger and bigger chunks of my day and life that bc is not even a part of.  This is just a post that's been in draft for probably a year and a half and I just wanted to put it on out there is all. And I'm still not happy with it, but really gotta get some of these "drafts" either published or just deleted.  Ya know?  


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Everybody Hurts...


And sometimes we have knee jerk reactions in response to that hurt.  And sometimes we regret it and correct it.  And sometimes, we don't. 

So it's been a tough week or so around here.  No, nothing to do with my bc, but it was enough to send me running totally away from the internet and online activities.  Most people who know me, know that I live way too far away from my family than I'd like. Like 1,000 miles.  And most people know how much I've loved technology and most especially Facebook and Skype for really helping to bridge those miles and make being so far away easier.  Well, sometimes not easier...sometimes it's bittersweet.

Anyway....just had a whole bunch of emotional stuff collide all within about a week - a big life change that was well under way that came to a screeching halt, loss of a family member and seeing how it affected my mother, missing my family, and pretty much just wishing we could make the impossible happen, plus some sad, sad things in the news, and I was just on major emotional overload. So I took to Facebook and declared I was going off the grid for a bit. Yeah. That lasted less than a week. For all the things I have been not so much loving about social media lately, there were many more things I missed about staying connected with so many people I care about and who care about me back. 

During those few days I avoided the internet (and even the news), I did enjoy not having my heart yanked from one emotion to another.  And I reflected on lots of things...especially as I approach those bc anniversaries that I continue to recognize, year after year. (Times FIVE this year, btw.) 
Do I look pensive? I am.

I'm feeling much, much better about most things.  But some things I'm not gonna feel better about until I can finally do something to change the things.

So hold on, hold on.......