a little c

because I refuse to give it a big one

Posts Tagged ‘good things’

There is a fine layer of dust all around me

Posted by wendy on 2011/12/10

It’s been a while since I updated here, and really–that’s so lax of me, because years from now, I’m going to look back on this blog and think…what happened to November? And…since I can barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday, chances are, November of 2011 will be a mystery to me unless I document it. 😉

So, without further ado, in November of 2011…

…I started a new job and I LOVE it. It still affords me the time to do my online social media gig, it’s bringing badly needed extra income into the household, and it gets me out of the house and into real, actual clothing every day. I was getting far too comfy in my jim jams, people. That had to stop.

Stoopit hair will NOT do what I want it to do!!! GRRR.

…I went home to Michigan and spent Thanksgiving with my family. I don’t even have words for how awesome that was. M flew over, and we road-tripped it up from Alabama to Michigan. Giving him a tour of the highways and interstates of my youth was so much fun. He met my Dad and my Grandma and he slipped right into my family like he’d been there all along. We left Saturday morning and on the way back stopped off to spend the day doing a bit of urbex with some really good friends of mine in Detroit. Many amazing and awesome images were made that day.

…I have watched in a bit of glee, but mostly horror as my hair continues to grow into cute little curly rings around my head. I remember people telling me that my hair would grow back curly and maaan, that made me all angsty and angry, because I have never wanted curly hair. And, I will admit now that when people said it to me, I thought “Nope. Not me. NOT MY HAIR.”. Because even after all this time, I am still firmly convinced that I can pretty much make my body do whatever I want it to do through sheer force of will. I wonder if I will ever learn that I cannot do that? I kind of hope I don’t. Stubborn optimism is not a bad trait to have, I think.

…I would like to say that I’ve been emotionally and physically preparing for my surgery next Tuesday. But, what I’ve really been doing is avoiding thinking about it.

…I have lost friends and gained friends. It all equals out in the end, and if I’ve learned nothing else this year, it is this: If it is toxic and/or makes me feel bad, I do not want it. Period.

…I have gained a very unwanted 10 pounds–I’m not going to the gym like I should, and the tamoxifen has a way of making me feel very, very lethargic. It’s frustrating, but I’m not going to freak out over it, because I know it’s a temporary way of being. I’ve started a new job, I’m taking drugs that make me tired, but, it’s only been a very short time, and I will figure out a way to work around it and get back where I’m used to being.

Time. I have like to think I have that now. It makes me smile.

Posted in "Not Cancer", Not Everything is about cancer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

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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Hey, those fancy movin’ pictures are nifty!

Posted by wendy on 2011/10/04

Seriously, I should have prepared something instead of trying to wing it.  It’s never pretty when I try to wing it.  🙂  But, hey, that’s me up there, being my usual awkward self, trying to thank people and rambling on about hats and hair instead.  I am blessed with the best friends in the world, the best family in the world–and hey–I am also bless with meeting the best total strangers in the world.  If you’re reading this now, just feel free to assume that YOU are awesome and move forward with your life secure in that knowledge.

It’s Day 4 of the Boobiethon and they’re going strong over there–there’s a tweeting contest happening right now that you should totally try to win, and of course, they need both boys and girls to donate pictures.  My dear friend Pete is auctioning off one of his gorgeous pictures for me, and I am beyond overwhelmed by all of this.  I feel like I keep repeating the same thing over and over–thank you, thank you.  But, it is sincere and it is from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you.  Thank you to everyone who’s donated, thank you to everyone who’s passed my site along.  I feel so completely undeserving of such amazing support, and I look forward to the day that I can pay it forward.

I am so lucky.  I am.  I can never say it enough.  Thank you.

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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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Lock your doors and hide your children!!

Posted by wendy on 2011/09/27

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES OMG!!!

I’m not going to hate on pink this October.  I know many women, many survivors and fighters dread October and I am so completely okay with anyone hating The Coming of the Pink, because I see the other side of the coin now.  I’ve had a foot in both worlds.

Please know, there are moments when I open my mailbox or try to buy a new spatula that I think I may cut some bitches over all the PINK in my life…but, I have to admit…the month of October, for all its merchandising and hype, is a really good opportunity to remind people to do self exams and schedule their mammograms.  I mean…how many of us found our lumps/were diagnosed around this time of year?  I don’t know any stats, but I’m willing to bet there are a great many women and men for whom October is The Month They Found Out.  I know it was for me.

That said, it’s once again time for the Boobiethon.  Why am I enraged  by one form of titillation, yet completely okay with another?  Oh, Dear Frantic Googler, I’m glad you asked.  I am a complex woman.  Full of mystery.  And caffeine.  And occasionally bacon.  My thoughts on the Boobiethon.  Let me show you them.

I know the history of it (which is a bit of an amusing story involving my Hot Internet Wife and very good friend, Statia).  I’ve known Mel for years and she is just awesome—because, I do have excellent taste in friends, if I do say so myself.  So, yeah–I know the women running it.  They’re awesome, they’re caring and smart.  They’ve raised nearly $75k  in the past 9 years and I hope this year turns out to be a record-breaker.

How is this different from those stupid bra memes I hate?  Because the bra memes are  coy and confusing and make no sense or reference to cancer at all.  The boobiethon talks about breast cancer.  Why are we here?  Breast. Cancer.  No one is coy about it. Men are involved, men are submitting shots–because men are affected, too.  Are men looking at the pay-per-boobie page?  Well, sure.  So are women.  Is it titillating?  Yeah, it is.  I have no issues with titillation if it reminds someone to get their mammogram scheduled.  Most of us love boobies.  I love them.  I loved mine—until they tried to kill me.  THEN I CUT THEM UP. (okay, okay–my SURGEON does the cutting)  Harrumph.  Murderous boobies get the knife in my house.

I know these women and I know that they are more than just their breasts, just as they know that I am more than just mine.

I know that “save the boobies!” tends to be the October battle cry.  But, I also know that it’s too late for so many of us to save our boobies and we had to concentrate on saving ourselves.  I would love to see ‘Save the Women’, but then that excludes men, so maybe we should concentrate on saving the people.

I would like that.

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The Tragics

Posted by wendy on 2011/08/31

I can barely lift my arms as I type this post (new BodyPump release–ow ow ow), but I must update, cause cool stuff is happening this week!  I saw my radiologist yesterday, and she pronounced the boobage free of any signs of fibrosis or any other hinky stuff, so I don’t have to go back for SIX MONTHS.  Can we all say YES!! together?  Cause..YES!!   There was a cute moment when the receptionist asked me if I preferred morning  or afternoon and I was all “Um…next February?  I have no idea what I’m going to be doing next February–I don’t even have a 2012 calendar yet.  hee.”

Tragic!!! Although, not so tragic that I didn't bother to put on lipstick before taking my picture.

I actually have loads of appointments to make this week.  Tomorrow, I have my baseline PET scan, then I see my oncologist on Friday.  (The camera is down at OMI, so my PET scan has been put off til Tuesday. ) I have to set up an  appointment with my gynecologist and then set up my next mammogram and it feels like a LOT of doctor-type stuff is happening, but there is a bit of comfort in knowing that the majority of what I have ahead of me is really just routine stuff.  There is a small bit of fear attached to the routine stuff now (WHATIFITCOMESBACK??) …but, I’m not going to dwell on it or let it overtake me.

I had a wonderful time away, and while I am suffering from a tiny bit of jetlag and a very large case of The Tragics (which consists of a lot of sighing and laying around looking like someone stole the stripes out of my peppermints), I’m doing pretty well.  My zenfolio subscription expires tomorrow, and I will not be renewing, (because food comes before internet toys), so I will take this time to thank everyone who bought an image from me, or passed the link along so someone else could.  Seriously, you guys helped me  more than I can say.

There is so much wrong in my life right now that the enormity of it occasionally crushes me, but there is also so much in my life that is right and good and wonderful….and I really do believe the good outweighs the bad.  It nearly always has.

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You may get whiplash from this post, because there’s a plot twist in the middle. I’ll try not to give away the ending.

Posted by wendy on 2011/08/16

My hair is about to hit that awkward "over my ears" stage that I always used to hate. I love my awkward hair.

[Wendy note:  I wrote this on the plane ride over, but the shot to the left was taken a few minutes ago with my droid–please note that I have The Pink Eye or, as I see every ailment I have postcancer, “OHMYGODITSEYECANCER!!111!!!eleventy!!”  Actually, I think I just need to take a shower and rest my tired eyes a bit, but y’all know how dramatic I can be.]

I’m typing this as I fly 23,000 feet in the air above the fine state of Tennessee—at least I think we’re still over Tennessee—we haven’t been in the air that long.

There is a part of me that feels that it’s wrong to take a trip right now—so much of my life is in flux at the moment.  I liken myself to a juggler who has at least four or five balls in the air…and I’ve walked away from all of them, mid-juggle.  But, I know that those balls will still be mid-air when I land at Heathrow, and I also know there will be an extra pair of hands to advise me and help me figure out how to stop juggling them all and perhaps lay them in a nice orderly row at my feet.  I could use that.  He is good for me in so many ways.

Since my diagnosis, there have been moments of absolute, sublime grace for me. I would not trade those moments for anything and I like to look back at how far I’ve come since I found that nasty little lump.  I wrote about my first mammogram the other day—but I just discussed the technical aspects of it.  What I didn’t mention is the way I felt sitting in the waiting room in my clean white robe listening to the other women chatting casually about their bouts with breast cancer.  I was seething with resentment and rage at the time.  I hated sitting there with those lovely women, listening to them discuss PET Scans and mammograms.  Mastectomies vs. lumpectomies.  I did not want to be a member of the cancer club.  I still remember that anger I felt towards them for being so casual about the entire thing.  What I did not know at the time was that those beautiful, wonderful women were giving me a glimpse into what acceptance and grace can do for you.  It took me a while to accept that I had cancer, it took me even longer to reach the point of…see, I want to say that I am grateful, but I don’t think that is quite the word I’m looking for.  Well, occasionally, I am grateful.  Not for cancer.  I mean, seriously—cancer can suck it.  But, I am grateful for the clarity I have gained this year.   I am grateful for the old relationships that have strengthened and for the new relationships that I have found.  For all the hardship in the past year, there has also been some amazing and wonderful things that have come from this ordeal.  I am grateful to wake up to wiggly, happy dogs.  I am grateful to see my son become more and more the man I hoped he would be.  I am grateful to be alive and sitting on this  airplane, winging my way to one of the most amazing, generous, loving (and oh, hey sexy!) men I’ve ever known.  I am grateful for my life–even the hard and nasty bits.  I am grateful to be alive.

Twist.

I am going to rant a little.  Well, I am going to rant a lot.   I’ve complained about this before on FB, but I have yet to mention it here and really ‘here’ is where I get to talk about stuff that bugs me at length.  Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am no fan of forwarded emails, and copy/paste FB statuses.  So, when the two are combined—an email forward that tells me to copy and paste something into my FB status?  Urggggh.  And, lastly, an email forward that tells me to copy and paste something into my FB status with regards to cancer?  Flames on the side of my face, people.   I mean, really.  Really.   [By the way, if you loooove facebook status memes and email forwards…you should probably stop reading now.  Go here and do a bit of light reading.  It’ll do you some good. –xo]

Here is the thing.  Just because I have had cancer, it does not make it okay to send me the ‘cancer’ forwards.  In fact, I’m going to take this one step further and say that because I have had cancer, perhaps, you should NEVER, EVER send me a cancer-related email forward again.  I hate, HATE, the “put the color of your bra as your status, but don’t tell any males what it means” or that really stupid one that tells you to mysteriously tell us where you like to put your purse. How does this raise awareness, exactly?  No, really.  Someone needs to explain that to me.  And, the Someone who tries to explain this to me should probably make sure they aren’t within my Smack Proximity.  Because it really does make my hand all itchy.  Cancer is not cute and cancer is not coy.  Teasing the boys with sexual innuendo on FB about our [Super Secret and Sexy!! Girl’s Only!!] Cancer is not ‘raising awareness’.  You wanna flirt with all the boys?  By all means, flirt with all the boys—but don’t pretend you’re raising ‘awareness for breast cancer’ when you’re doing it.  The only damn thing you’re raising  is my ire.

We raise awareness with discussion.  With action.  (For instance–Breast Cancer isn’t “Girls Only!”–boys get it, too.)  We raise awareness with….oh,  for Pete’s sake—aren’t we all pretty well aware of cancer?  I’m not so much about raising awareness as I am about finding a cure or prodding my loved ones to get checked, because I know very few people who have not been impacted by cancer personally or through a family member or friend.  And, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know what cancer is.   I mean, is there one person out there who’s read “Blue” or “I like it on the floor by the stairs” in someone’s status only to say “Oh my GOD YOUR PURSE! I HAD NO IDEA THERE WAS A THING CALLED CANCER!!  I’m so glad you’re wearing a blue bra today!  I feel so aware. Where’s the donation button?!  I gotta call my doctor and schedule a mammogram RIGHT NOW!!!”??

Not that I’mma tell you not to jump on the meme train.  If that’s your thing, by all means…jump away.  But, expecting ME is jump on the meme train just because I’ve had cancer is rude.

So stop sending me that crap.  I mean it.  Stoppit.

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Adrenaline Junkies

Posted by wendy on 2011/05/18

I should be gearing up for chemo tomorrow–it feels crazy that I’m not.  There is a part of me that cannot believe that bit is over.  I’ve got a fine layer of fuzz on my head right now, and while I realize that it will take a while for it to grow back–I know that it will grow back and I will once again recognize the girl in the mirror.

I’m having a blast in England so far.  Today is my last day alone because M comes back home tonight (he’s been off on a business trip the last few days) and I will be so glad to see that man!  It’s been good practice for me–wandering around by myself, but it’s very odd to be here in his flat without him next to me.

We did a bit of urbex around St. Crispin’s Asylum last week–the grounds are amazing and they’re turning them into condos, so I’m very glad I got to see and photograph the “before”.  There is a fence around the grounds, so getting in involves a bit of slipping through and under, but once in–it’s just a wonderland of decay and remnants of a forgotten era.  Sadly, we’d only been inside around an hour when the security guard came round and escorted us off–I’d really love for a video of our capture, though, because I was perched high on a second floor window ledge (M had rigged up a plank to get us across) like some large frightened American bird–M was completely cool and affable towards the guard, who was actually very nice (if somewhat sternly disapproving) about the whole thing.

On the way home, we discussed the adrenaline rush we both got–from both being in such a fantastically eerie spot and–let’s face it–getting caught and tossed out.  I’m a little afraid we liked that too much.  What if we turn into one of those couples who are constantly looking for the next rush?  What’s next?  Parachuting out of a plane?  Bungee jumping?!  eeek.  I kind of hope not.  I like my feet on the ground.  Well, I can occasionally be persuaded to step onto a ledge.  It’s the jump that I’ve always had difficulty with.

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If life gives you lemons, make sure you’ve got some vodka in the freezer, because lemonade without vodka is boring.

Posted by wendy on 2011/03/30

Occasionally, I like to look on the bright side of my situation.  So, today, I am going to make some hard lemonade and share it with you.

I have  discovered an unending wellspring of support and love in both likely and unlikely places.   People I’ve never met have knitted me hats, sent me little gifts and cards to cheer me up–I’ve had countless emails offering support and well-wishes from so many people–it’s humbling and overwhelming and nearly impossible to articulate how appreciative I am and how much of my strength has come  from this knowledge.

Along those lines..I’ve met the most amazing women since this happened. Women who’ve been through it, women who are going through it–they make me laugh and think and they give me hope.  I really love that.  Granted, I have no doubt we’d all much rather  be able to bond over our love of shoes/scrapbooking/stamp collections/whatever, but just the same, I’m glad to have found them.

I no longer have to shop in expensive specialty shops for bras.  That first trip into Victoria’s Secret to buy a cute little padded bra (courtesy of my fabulous friend, Brenda, who immediately sent me a gift certificate when she found out about my diagnosis and pending surgery)?  Well, that was super fun.  And, then–a huge revelation for me was finding a Calvin Klein bra for $6.99 in TJ Maxx.  INSANE, people.  I used to pay $60 for my bras on a good sale day.  I love that I can walk into Target and pull a cute little 36C off the rack for $10.

And, clothes!  ooo..I’ve discovered that my inner fashionista is actually coming out to play more and more.  When you don’t have any hair, you’ve gotta work everything else just a wee bit more, I think.  And, there is the added bonus that my wig is already styled, so the usual half-hour/hour I used to spend on my hair  before going out has been cut to pretty much nothing.  I’ve always been pretty firmly against showing up at Walmart or the grocery store in your sweats (Seriously–M makes fun of me because he says I dress up for doctor’s appointments like I’m going on a date–he’s not entirely wrong, although I’m less likely to wear my super sexy lacy bras to see my oncologist. I like her a lot, but not *that* much), but I’ve discovered I pay even more attention now.  I’ve become very detail-oriented with jewelry, shoes, bags.  I like exploring this side of me.

Tank Girl! Fake cigarette (cause smoking is bad--mkay?), fake gun, fake mohawk--but GENUINE bald head! A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I tell you! Well. Hopefully, just the once.

I’ve also found this experience to be a validation of the lifestyle changes I made last year.  2010, aka The Year of Getting Fit, was an important year for me.  Had I not lost weight, I may not have found the lump in my breast.   All those months of daily workouts and getting in shape were instrumental in my ability to  heal quickly from my surgeries, and I firmly believe that it’s made chemo much easier for me than it otherwise would have been.

Artistically, it’s been fun to play around with my shiny bald head.  One does not get the opportunity to bedazzle one’s head very often, I think.  There are days I cannot face a camera, but the times that I have felt well enough to do it, I’ve been pretty pleased with the results–and since I am freakishly into documenting stuff, I think it will be nice to have something to look back on and smile about.

So, you know–good things have come from this.  I try to keep that in mind when I start to feel dark.

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