a little c

because I refuse to give it a big one

Posts Tagged ‘change’


Posted by wendy on 2012/04/09

I knew when I got my port-a-cath removed last August that I wanted to do something special with it–I just wasn’t sure what.  I had loads of suggestions, but it wasn’t until M suggested we hike our way up Helvellyn over the Easter holiday that the plan coalesced in my head.  I would climb Helvellyn and bury my port at the summit.

Mind you, I’ve never actually climbed a mountain before, so let’s all imagine my shock (and awe) at how incredibly difficult this climb was for me.  Difficult–and completely terrifying–and oh hey, can you SEE the metaphor forming?  I mean, seriously, I had a little metaphor-shaped cloud hanging over me from around the 400 meter mark and beyond.  I mean, seriously.  Incredibly difficult on a physical level?  Check.  Painful?  Check.  Mortal fear?  Check.  Icy cold wind making my face numb?  Well, okay.  That bit was new.  😉

We hiked, we climbed–and once or twice, I scooted on my butt because I couldn’t figure out any other way to get from one rock to another–but, we made it to the summit, and I buried my port inside a cairn just north of the summit marker.

There are cairns all over Helvellyn.  All the way up and back down again.  It’s tradition for climbers to toss another rock on the cairns as they go by.   I think it’s a way of saying “I was here.”

It may come back.  It may be the thing that gets me in the end.  That is the reality we all live with.  But, now–here and now–I feel stronger and less afraid than ever.

I was here.

Me. Sitting on the cairn that now encases my chemo port. If you're ever at the summit--toss a rock on and think of me, will you?

There are more shots on my Facebook page, if you want a peek.

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Happy Cancerversary to me!

Posted by wendy on 2011/11/11

I STILL prefer wigs to my hair, which is curly like mad and drives me insane.

So, I feel like I should write something about today.  It’s pretty momentous.  It’s Veteran’s Day (Dear Veteran’s, Thank you for keeping me safe.  You guys are doing a bang-up job.).  It’s also 11/11/11 – the day of “ooooo”.  It’s also my cancerversary.  It’s also Day 3 of me being gainfully employed (ah, back to 2 jobs again–the way it’s intended).  Unfortunately I don’t particularly  FEEL like writing, so this is going to be more ‘update’ than ‘thoughtful blog post about my feelings’.

So, this time last year, I had cancer and was losing my job.  This year, I’m cancer-free and starting a new job (incidentally, my new job is literally in the same building as the old job–and, with many of the same people, as they hired a good many of us back).  My contract work is steady.  Those are good things.  I can see it’s going to take me a while to figure out how to balance all of it and still have a personal life–it feels like I’ve done nothing but work for the last 3 days.

I’m getting a da vinci in December.  I’m not particularly looking forward to more surgery, but I prefer a bit of pain now  to avoid a lot of pain later.  I’ve always been the girl who rips her band-aids off as quickly as possible.  Fast and painful trumps slow and painful every time.  ha.

I have been absent from this blog (badness!), I know–I’d like to say that I’m ‘concentrating on living!’, but really, I just spent most of October completely avoiding cancer-related stuff as much as I could.

I’d make a fine ostrich.

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Relief and Gratitude and a House Guest

Posted by wendy on 2011/10/09

I have a mouse.  He is freaking adorable, but he is not allowed to live in my house so the game of Catch or Kill is on.  I prefer “catch”, but if I have to resort to “kill”, I’ll do it, because mice aren’t very good house guests at all.  They use your good towels on their muddy feet, don’t put the little wrappy thing back on the bread, and put empty cartons back in the fridge.  I’m pretty ruthless about empty milk cartons.

I’ve spent the last week in a kind of frenzy of gratitude and excitement and fear.  The fabulous people who particpated in the boobiethon netted me $2,555.  You know,  the ‘thon has taken its fair share of flack over the years, because Komen was the main recipient (and for the boobies)–but, in case anyone ever tries to criticize them because the women who need it don’t benefit–send them to ME.  Send them here:   I am a breast cancer survivor and the Boobie-thon has just paid for the next 4+ months of my COBRA.  I don’t have the proper words to say how much this has meant to me.   I’ve tried thanking everyone who donated to me (I think I thanked a few of you twice–haha) and it feels like it was just this litany of “thank you, I’m overwhelmed, and OH MY GOSH!”.  hahaha.  If I babbled to you, I apologize.  I really was completely overwhelmed.  Thank you Mel for doing such a fantastic job as the organizer, and thank you Statia, for nominating me.  I love you guys so much.   I’d be remiss not to mention that Pete’s image  went up to $350, and my very good friend Jason is also auctioning off a shot for me (it ends Tuesday).  I have such amazing friends.  I really do.

Don't freak out--I was stopped at a red light when I snapped this.

There is a sense of relief that this little bit of attention is kind of over for me now, though.  I have to admit–I felt like HIDING a lot last week.  I have no idea how I suddenly became The Shy Girl, but oh maaan—I just felt so completely undeserving of all of the kindness directed my way.  I couldn’t look at my stats, because I’m so used to the 20 or so people who read this and when there’s suddenly 700 views on your blog…it’s scary to feel so opened up and vulnerable.  I’m not used to it.  🙂  Overwhelmed.

Physically, I’m doing really well.  The hot flashes haven’t gone away completely–but, they have subsided.   I think I had one yesterday.  Hurrah for Effexor!   My hair–much to my chagrin–is very curly.   DO NOT WANT.   Seriously, I actually had a moment yesterday in which I missed my wigs desperately.  I feel terribly ungrateful for disliking my hair, because–helloooo, at least I have hair, right?   WHINGING!  I should stop that.  I’m just super lazy and hate fixing my hair every day.  Seriously I do not get how short hair is easier.  Ponytails are easy.  Massive amounts of hair gel are not.

What a difference a week can make!!!  For reals, people–my biggest complaint about my life right at this second is that I have to fix my hair.  I’m going to stop and just enjoy that for a minute or two.

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The Tale of the Phantom Port

Posted by wendy on 2011/10/06

I noticed yesterday in the shower that I was still very carefully washing my neck and upper chest, so as not to touch the (skeeevy) chemo port that is no longer there.  Old habits die hard, don’t they?

It’s still a shock to me when I look at pictures of myself now and there isn’t a hard little round disc sticking out of my chest and I still occasionally feel a bit of a phantom pull in my throat where the port met my jugular vein.  I expect this will all fade eventually–I mean, I finally learned where my breasts are located on my body–for the longest time after my first surgery, I found myself trying to wash under breasts that were no longer there.  (Seriously.  It was super annoying.)  It stands to reason I’ll figure out my neck is OKAY TO TOUCH AGAIN eventually.

Why yes, I did make myself a shirt. Iron-on transfers, ftw!

Right now, the only real obstacle I face in the shower is shaving my right armpit–because the underside of my arm is numb (and will remain so–this is something that won’t go away since they removed all my lymph nodes on that side) and I haven’t gotten around to getting an electric razor yet, so cutting myself without realizing it remains a possibility.  I never realized how much one shaves just by feel.  The pressure of the razor against your skin is how you tell you’re doing it right and I can’t feel that anymore.  Frustrating, but not end-of-the-world stuff, so I can deal.

I’ve been pretty lucky so far with my arm.  Working out doesn’t bother it (I’m being very careful not to overdo it, as I know it’s a bit risky–but, I think the benefits outweigh the risks.  It cannot do me anything but good to build up the muscle in my arms.) and I’m hopeless when it comes to remembering not to carry my purse on my right shoulder, but it hasn’t affected anything.   I haven’t had to deal with any swelling or other signs of Lymphedema yet.  I have full range of motion with the arm as well.   Dr. Awesome (my surgeon) was unsurprised at my progress.  “You’re young, you’re healthy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do well.”.

I’m going to just take a moment and enjoy those  words.  Cause I really love it when my doctors talk about how ‘young’ I am.

Tomorrow is the very last day of the Boobie-thon, and I am just completely overwhelmed with gratitude over how generous people have been.  I’ve talked about ‘moments of grace‘ here before, and I want you all to know I’ve had more of those moments this week than I can count.  I feel like I keep repeating myself over and over, but it’s all I know to say or do.  Thank you.  Thank you.  ❤  One day, I’ll pay all of this forward.

This is the very last Boobie-thon ever, which is such a bittersweet thing to all of the women who’ve been involved over the years–but I think especially to Robyn, the founder, and Mel, who took over organizing the thon for Robyn a few years back, and I’m sure for my Hot Internet Wife, Statia, who was the reason the whole thing began.   These women have worked tirelessly for a cause they really believe in and I think they’re amazing.  There are a few really fun contests (win a Kindle Fire or a $30 Amazon card!)  running over there right now, and you still have time to enter, so head over if you like.  Now, shoo!

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Change is inevitable. And scary. But good.

Posted by wendy on 2011/10/02

Our lives can spin out of control so quickly–and when you’re first diagnosed with cancer, the whirlwind you find yourself in does not seem to stop–ever.  I told a friend today it’s like busting through a series of brick walls.  You get through one, and there is another one standing directly in your path.  It’s the nature of it.  I’ve got this…idea of a quote I’ve read somewhere about tempering steel–and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a blacksmith banging a sword against the wall in order to make it sharper, so maybe I’m mixing up analogies.  Hang on, while I hit google,  will you?  Go get something to drink–or, if you like, go on and hit the link to the Boobiethon and peruse around for a few minutes, and I’ll meet you back here in 2 minutes!  Okay, I’m back and I found it!

The fire of adversity will melt you like butter, or temper you like steel. The choice is yours.

YAY!  I really like that quote.  Of course, in the time that I ran around google to find that quote, I also found more really cool clown make-up ideas, a recap of last Thursday’s Project Runway, and a dreamy picture that my friend Emily posted on my wall of Dylan Moran and I kind of lost the thread of this  post.  I am easily distracted by shiny things.

Now and Then

THREADS!  Yes, I know where I was going with this.  I fought so hard against the idea that cancer would change me.  I liked me!  I didn’t want me to change, to be different–I didn’t want to lose my breasts, I didn’t want to lose my hair, I didn’t want to be anything other than the girl I saw in the mirror in November of 2010.  The thing is…we all change.  I mean, that’s what life IS.  Things happen to all of us, good and bad, and we hit the brick wall or get tossed into the fire and then we come out..different.  So, maybe the ‘change’ bit is out of our control–but we can control the outcome.  Having breast cancer changed me–I mean, literally–helloooo to the Now and Then next to this paragraph.

So..yeah.  I’m different.  And, I fought so hard against it, but once I decided to accept the reality of what had happened to me, suddenly….I was okay with the changes–physical and mental.  I’m stronger and wiser and there are days that I am steel and fire and seriously, brick walls need to STEP OFF.  um…lest I give the impression of being a Super Hero here , there are also days that getting out of bed and getting dressed to leave the house feels like an insurmountable task.  But, even the ‘bad’ days and moments are tinged with this sense of being grateful to be here to experience the highs and lows of being alive.

My Aunt Puppy told me I ‘have a glow’ about me now.   I told her it was the hot flashes.  😉

It’s Day 2 of the Boobiethon, and as I mentioned, I am the Bloggers Helping Bloggers recipient this year, and I am overwhelmed and completely out of ways to show how grateful I am to everyone who has donated this year.  I have alternated between fits of weeping and elation and introspection and I feel so humbled by the outpouring of help that’s been thrown my way.  I had $2.82 in my bank account on Friday–we were drowning and you guys have thrown us a lifeline.  So, thank you.  Thank you from me, thank you from my son, thank you from Pip and thank you from Emma.

Here I am again.  Grateful to be alive to experience something beyond any expectations that I had.

Thank you so much for that.

Thank you.

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Change is the New Normal

Posted by wendy on 2011/04/22

Chemo #7 went off without a hitch yesterday.  My blood count is the lowest it’s been yet, but apparently, my onc has discovered that my insurance company had already okay’d TWO Neulasta shots for me, and the pharmacy had sent over two, so I have one left–I’m getting it this morning!  *dances*  This should help shoot my blood count right back up where it should be and that will keep me on track for my May 5 finish date.  I haven’t mentioned here that my onc is pregnant, so I met with the doc who will be taking over her patients when she goes out on maternity leave yesterday–loved her, too.  She’s chatty, like me, and I think we broke the morning schedule with our bonding.  😉 It’s nice to know that when I go in for my follow-up visits, I will, yet again, be dealing with a doctor that I really LIKE.  Lucky girl, that’s me.

In addition to the most excellent Neulasta news, we also discussed the fact that I’m moving into the radiation phase, so she’s set up a preliminary appointment with a radiologist next Friday.  And, that’s when the fear hit me.

I am actually afraid to finish chemo.  I mean, don’t get me wrong–chemo SUCKS–but,  it has been my routine for the past few months, and I’m…used to it.  I know what to expect.  I get to sit in the same recliner (my lucky chair!) every week, I love my doctors, I love the nurses and the receptionist.  I love Buddy, the volunteer who brings me graham crackers and knows just how I take my coffee.   I like the atmosphere at the clinic, because it is upbeat and there are smiles everywhere you look–even on the patient’s faces.   Clearview is an excellent place to receive care, and while I know I’ll be back for check-ups, etc…I am about to move on.

I’m graduating Chemo 101 with flying colors, and now they’re moving me to a new clinic with new people and new doctors and I feel so apprehensive about that.  The intellectual part of me knows this is a bit silly–finishing chemo, starting radiation–this is all very good stuff.  I mean, the radiation is the end of my ‘to-do list’.  (wait–getting my port out is the end, but I doubt there will be much apprehension when that little bit comes up-ha.)  I’m all full of dread, though.

I know there is a bright side to this–my hair is going to start to grow back, my taste buds will return, the hot flashes will subside and go away, I’m one step closer to putting this behind me.  I know this.  Moving on is a good thing.  I know it.  But, knowing a thing intellectually and knowing it emotionally is not always an easy thing to do.   It’s a change–and there has been so. much. change. in my life the past 6 months, I should be used to it by now–Change is my new normal.  heh.  New docs, new offices, new procedures, a whole new set of unknowns that I will need to investigate and learn.

The Devil You Know over the Devil You Don’t, eh?

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