• 31Dec

     

    One of the chemo medicines is clear/white; the other is bright red.  When they administer the treatment, they alternate between the two “cocktails”.  I sat there staring mindlessly at the Christmas decorations in the cancer center thinking that my chemo was the perfect Christmas themed treatment:  red, white, red, white, red, white.  How sweet; seemed so “Martha Stewart” of them to make sure that your chemo is the appropriate color scheme for the season. 

     

    Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not having chemo at Halloween! 

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  • 29Dec

     

    I know there is an image you all have in your mind of a person during chemotherapy — frail, unable to eat, trying desperately to keep her weight at a healthy level.  Let me disavow you of that image.  It’s just like being pregnant … the only foods that appeal are low fiber foods chocked with simple carbohydrates like pizza, bagels, muffins and popsicles.  (and I wonder why I gained 70 lbs when pregnant with my daughter??!!)

    ·        High fiber complex carbohydrates?  not so much!

    ·        Steamed broccoli?  not so much!

    ·        Garden burgers?  not so much!

     

    Of course all your wonderful friends bring over your favorite treats — designer M&M’s, homemade brownies, gourmet english muffins and fresh baked breads.  Add to that the fact that you’re too light headed/dizzy to exercise and what do you get??  flabby woman with small perky (temporary) breasts, big love handles, and “muffin top” stomach.  No frail chemo girl here. 

     

    One sweet observation:  just like when I was pregnant, my husband has tried to match me pound for pound.  With every brownie and M&M I eat, he’s been nice enough to match that enthusiasm with baconators, pizza and triple cheeseburgers.  It must be love!

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  • 27Dec

     

    Usually in life, more is better.  When dealing with cancer, however, a low score is better (i.e. stage I is better than stage II).  It’s a little like golf in that regard. 

     

    But then it’s like a weird science experiment: a “positive” biopsy is really “negative”.  Testing “positive” for the BRCA genes is “negative”.

     

    If you’re not confused enough already, read on …..   Suddenly it’s not “in” to be “thin” … Being thin limits your surgical reconstruction options, (you’re not eligible for that nifty surgery where they make new breasts out of the tissue in your lower abs), and makes the port under your collar bone stick out for all the world to see!

     

    Is nothing sacred anymore???????????

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  • 24Dec

     

    I tried my new breasts out for size at work last week.  For my marketing friends, it wasn’t quite a focus group, because I didn’t really pull people together in a room (with M&M’s behind the one way mirror) to discuss them. Instead, I just plunged in to work, with fitted sweaters and tailored blazers to see the reaction. 

     

    First, the reaction from those not in my inner circle: 

    “how are you feeling?”  (they look down).  I say, “I’m fine; I’m getting stronger every day”.  what I mean to say, since they are no longer looking anywhere near my eyes, “they’re fine; they’re a little smaller, a little higher, but I feel like they are more in proportion to my frame; I think I’m going to like them this way.”

     

    Second, for close women friends, I model, I turn, I admit that I’m wearing my 14 year daughter’s bra and that I haven’t gone without underwire since Reagan was president”.  They encourage me; they tell me I look proportionate.  I’ve only had one “fill” with the plastic surgeon, which seems like a cop out, and I almost feel guilty for not going back 2 — 3 times more.  We sit and try to remember what, if any, were the benefits to a 46 year old woman having big breasts.  We talk about the thousands of dollars I used to spend in minimizer bras and infrastructure to go for a quick 40 minute run.  We remember all the black tie dresses I didn’t buy for the gala, because I couldn’t figure out how to wear those dresses without a bra.  We bemoan all the cute little yoga tops that I never got to wear.

     

    so, it’s decided… the filling is done.  I’m sticking with my new regular breasts.. leaving the super sized ones as just a distant memory.    

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  • 22Dec

     

    one of the chemo drugs (adreomycin) is bright red and they literally push it through your veins (vs. letting it drip slowly through the IV like they do with saline or other pain meds).  question to our readers:  what happens to your urine when bright red medicine mixes with the fluids in your body?  You guessed it, yet another pink breast cancer experience

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  • 21Dec

     

    think of all the new things I’ve discovered in the past few months:  perky new breasts, hair falling out from chemo, a wealth of prescription meds, etc. etc. etc.  I thought these things lived in a little walled off space in my life (AKA “the breast cancer chapter”), but I’m starting to realize it’s creeping into my every day thoughts…………

     

    For example, I’ve now realized that my reactions to everyday things have changed. 

     

    In the “old days”, if someone said, “I’m having  a bad hair day”,

    old me would say, “try the new hair serum from the John Frieda collection” 

    new me thinks, “cut it off; shave your head; wear a scarf”

     

    In the old days if someone said, “I hate the way I look in this button down shirt.  I hate how it pulls between the second and third button; my stupid breasts make everything look tight across the chest”

    old me would say, “here; try double sided tape.  it works great for me.  You barely see the pulling”

    new me thinks, “just cut your breasts off and start off with perky little implants.  You can wear button down shirts with no pulling and you’ll be able to wear sun dresses in the summer!”

     

    In the old days if someone said, “I’m feeling so anxious and unsettled”

    old me would say, “try working out, or why don’t you go to yoga with me; it’s a great way to unwind and relieve stress”

    new me thinks, “try adivan.  it’s my favorite of all my anti anxiety prescriptions”

     

    In the old days, if someone said “I get a little nauseous on long car trips”

    old me would say, “try sitting in the front seat; don’t read, and look straight ahead”

    new me thinks, “try compozine; if that doesn’t work, get a scrip for zofran”

     

    In the old days, if someone said, “my skin looks so blah”

    old me would say, “try drinking lots of water and don’t forget to moisturize”

    new me thinks, “try the dex; the steroids really give you a nice glow”.

     

    NOTE TO SELF:  NEW ME IS A LITTLE FREAKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 19Dec

     

    My blog is visually boring; I’m told blogs need to be visually interesting and mine is a visual BORE!  I’ve tried without luck to make it more visually vibrant, but I’m failing miserably.  I just realized cancer is visually boring.  Does anyone have any good cancer clip art?  Talk about a niche business — cancer clip art for breast cancer bloggers!

    Please comment below with links to any good cancer clip art……….

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  • 12Dec

     

    Over the past month since my surgery, wonderful women have been bringing us these delicious 4 course dinners complete with home-made soup, beautiful grilled salmon/steak, gourmet salads, French bread, and hot brownies.  Not only do I feel guilty that all these women are slaving in the kitchen to bring us delicious food, but I feel even more guilty about the odd accumulation of high end Tupperware we’ve been gathering in our house.  These women don’t bring dinner in flimsy aluminum trays or cheap disposable Glad containers; they bring the super high end expensive containers like we used to have in the 70’s. 

     

    What is the protocol here?  Drive all over town stopping at multimillion dollar homes delivering plastic containers?  sell them on EBay to offset all the money we lost in the stock market this year?  cut holes in the top and use them for tzedukah containers for my daughter’s Sunday school class? 

     

    Alas, I’ll do what seems to make the most sense … I’ll fill them with M&M’s! 

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  • 11Dec

    Actually, I love hearing the voices of other women.  Today’s comes from “manager mom”……

    My mother was diagnosed at 49. Stage III. Single mastectomy, followed by a course of chemotherapy. The chemo took so much out of her that she declined the recommended course of radiation, even though she was told that it would improve her survival odds by up to 20%.

    “I already feel like I’ve died,” she said. “I just can’t take one more treatment.”

    She did, however, go for reconstruction – trans flap. It was still a relatively new reconstructive technique back at that time.

    That was thirteen (cancer-free) years ago.

    My aunt (her sister) was diagnosed at  53. Same side; but she decided to double down get both lopped of at the same time.  She tolerated the chemotherapy a little better and decided to go for the radiation.  She also decided to go for implants, and kick it up a cup size for good measure.

    That was five (cancer-free) years ago.

    My other aunt (her other sister) had a surgical biopsy at 55.  Because neither my mother or her sister were speaking with her, I’m not really sure what happened. I know that she’s alive, living in North Carolina, vigorously ignoring the rest of her family.

    When I told my mother that I was going to get the genetic test for the BRCA -1 and -2 genes, she got angry. She couldn’t understand why I wanted to know; how I felt that if I knew, I would at least be able to make some choices. If it was positive, I could take preventative measures. If it was negative, I would still have to be vigilant, but at least I could hold out hope that my fate wasn’t predestined.

    My test came back negative. For this round, I seemed to have gotten a good roll of the genetic dice. I knew I still had to be vigilant, but I thought I might be a bit more optimistic. Not when, but if.

    And then, in this, my 38th year, I had my annual mammogram and ultrasound on a Friday.  I always do it around my birthday, which is either the best or shittiest present I could possibly give myself, depending on your point of view.

    The mammogram looked good. But during the ultrasound the technician spent a long time on my right side. The side that had plagued all of the women the generation ahead of me. The doctor came in for a second look, staring intently at the screen as she ground the wand into my armpit.

    “I don’t like the way that lymph node looks,” she said. “It looks very dense.”

    The fine needle aspiration was scheduled for Monday.

    For three days I waited in a state of barely submerged panic. I’d just been laid off, and between the biopsy and the results, I had a final interview for a new job. During the whole interview, I couldn’t shake a little voice in my head that kept saying things like, none of the things you’re saying right now matter because even if you get this job, you’ll have to turn it down so that you can get YOUR mastectomy and YOUR chemotherapy  

    On Friday, I got two calls. Yes to the job. No to the cancer.

    I have gone mostly back to my state of blissful hopefulness, but whatever peace I got from the genetic test is gone.

    I just hope my when doesn’t come for a long, long time

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  • 07Dec

     

    As you know from previous blog entries, I’ve started to realize that the word “breast” exists everywhere (abreast, double breasted suits, suddenly every child is breast fed).  This affliction has spread;  I recently notice everything is shaped like breasts.  I’m not joking … put 2 Hershey’s kisses side by side on your desk and you tell me what you see…………………………

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