Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stepping off the crazy train...

Okay, so I got the call from my doctor. While I very well could have real back problems, "We're pretty sure it has nothing to do with cancer. You're all clear, baby girl."

Yep, I was called baby girl. After a discussion of what my pain could be, I was referred to an internist. I haven't had a doctor that wasn't cancer related in a long time. I don't even know what they do :)

So long story short. I'm nuts. But fingers crossed, still cancer-free.


Fear is an ugly monster. It sits in your closet and waits until you are dressed and ready to go before it jumps out and scares the shit out of you. It's the little voice in the back of your head that you cover with fun or booze or love or activism. It's the fine line between being naive and proactive. If you've had cancer, fear is something you learn to live with every day. Some days are worse than others - the day of a check up, or getting your boobs smooshed in square holes. Some days you forget about fear altogether. But it's never gone. It just hides bakc in your closet behind your winter sweaters.

I am not one to revel in the fear. I'd rather do something ridiculous - use my fear as adreneline. There have been a few times where I have wrestled with fear and it won. And when fear wins, it leaves behind that girl you hate. The girl who's insecure, emotional, pathetic. The girl who worries too much and doesn't do enough. The girl who trades her grace for weakness.

God, I hate that girl.

In the past year and a half, there are a couple times where I've lost my battle with fear. One time was watching friends lose their fight. It made the reality of cancer - the fact that people actually die from this - crystalize in my mind. See I'm not really afraid of cancer coming back. In fact, I sort of beleive one day it will. And if it does, I'll deal with it. Stage IV cancer, however - scares the shit out of me. We can be politically corrrect and look to all the Elizabeth Edwards in the world, but the truth is, right now, stage IV cancer is not curable. It's treatable. Meaning it can buy you time. Hopefully that's enough time for people to figure out how to cure you. But right now, they can't. Stage IV means you don't live until you're 80. When I was diagnosed, I never thought about dying. It was only after digging myself deep into this disease, that the statistics became people. People who died.

So you become afraid. Afraid of getting the call when "we saw something unusual in your scan." Or feeling pain that just doesn't seem to go away.

I'm losing my fight with the fear monster as we speak. See, I've been having back pain for about a month. Now, it could be the fact I've been working out more lately. Unfortunately, the muscle pain is a whole different issue. But it's on my spine - like a bruise on my bone that hasn't gone away. It's bothering me enough that it wakes me up at night sometimes. It's bothered me enough that I moved up my annual PET scan because of it. I went in on Monday. And to be perfectly honest, I didn't get the best feeling from the scan. Little red flags... another tech coming in to look, the tech who tells me I "should call" my doctor. All in all, if I was nervous going in, I'm even more nervous waiting for results.

And I've gone to that dark place. The place I'm not sure I've ever been to. The fear monster squeezes all rational thought out of me. I've thought about living wills and who would get my stuff and what would I want at my funeral. I've thought about the children I may not have or leaving Alan alone. In essence, I've fallen off my rocker with fear. What if this bone pain is bone mets? Could I do it? Could I face it with the same "Strength" everyone tells me I have? I'm really not sure. And then of course, I tell myself not to be stupid. That I'm fine. Stop freaking out for nothing. Except we hear all the time to listen to our body. That we can tell if something's off. And my body is screaming at me. That same yell when I first found the lump.

So I'll sit by the phone. Hope for arthritis or a herniated disc or some other issue that can be solved. Hoping I'm nuts. Overreacting.

Here's to hope beating the shit out of fear.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Link to the Cancer Blog

I was featured the other day on the Cancer Blog....

Check it out here...

The Cancer Blog contains the latest news, stories and reserach on all sorts of cancer.

Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tag, you're it!!!

I’ve been tagged to participate in a meme … to share seven random facts about myself with all of you. I've seen it relate to breast cancer, but that's not my current mood, so these will be regarding just about anything....

1. When I was 18, I sold knives. Cutco, to be exact. I went into the homes of my parents' friends and cut pennies and leather. That job didn't last. But I still think Cutco knives are pretty damn great.

2. My first performing opportunity came in third grade, when i put on my jean skirt and my mother's patent leather heels and lip synched to "Let's Hear it for the Boy." The St. Thomas More talent show was never the same.

3. In high school, I was president of the National Honor Society. I was also on the math team, JETS and speeach team. I was not a huge nerd. I promise. I threw fantastic keggers.

4. Thanks to working on cruise ships, I've seen like 60 countries or so. My favorite place - Buenos Aires. Or Tahiti.

5. Sometimes, if I'm up too late after takng my Ambien (helps me sleep through hot flashes) I get a little "ambien drunk." It leads to conversations I don't remember, impulse online purchases and lots of laughs from my husband.

6. One day, I'd love to live on the water. I miss the ocean.

7. Okay, one breast cancer fact- my surgery scar is on the lower part of my breast, like 6 o'clock. It's a little half circle - leading my boob to look like a one-eyed smiley face.

Those are my facts … what are yours?

The rules:
If you are tagged, you need to start by posting 7 random facts about yourself on your blog. Then list these rules and tag 7 others people (figuratively, obviously). List their names on your blog with a link to get your readers there. Then comment for each of the tagged, letting them know they have been tagged. Get i

I tag these survivors:








Friday, August 03, 2007

Check under your couch cushions...

...Dig in your pockets, grab that jar of change sitting in your junk drawer/dresser/closet.

Open your hearts and your wallets people.

Here's a copy of the email I just sent out...

When I found my lump a little over a year ago, at the age of 28, I had no idea this was my future. I was told that it was probably nothing. That it’s “so very rare for women your age.” I was diagnosed on February 16, 2006. About a month later, a packet came in the mail for the 3-day. Last year, I walked the 3-day at the age of 29, only 5 weeks after my last radiation. I was bald, chubby, tired- but I did it. A couple of friends flew down to walk with me. It was hard and there were times when I wasn’t sure if I could do it… but I did. And I raised over 7,000 dollars. It was hard to see the remembrance tent, to see the t-shirts for those we had lost, to walk through the pain and the anger and the grief. But I did. And I met women who inspired me, who supported me and who laughed with me. I saw examples of how to live after the disease. I saw reasons to start your life after cancer, to find a new normal. I cemented relationships with close friends. I made new ones. I found a way to give back to a community that had given so much to me.

So that’s why I walk. Because for me, cancer took away so much, but little by little I’m getting it back. And I’m giving back. To show others that breast cancer can hit anyone. But at the same time, you find a way to live again. You have to. And that being a part of this new “club” has given me so much. My first 3-day was one of the most moving experiences of my life. And something I plan on doing for all the women who have blessed my life, shown me how to handle it with grace and given me reasons to celebrate. I will walk until we find a way to beat this. Because I have to.

In October of this year, I will be participating in my second Breast Cancer 3-Day. I'll walk 60 miles over the course of three days with thousands of other women and men. The net proceeds will support breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund.

I've set the personal goal to raise at least $10,000 in donations. Yep, you read that right. Ten grand. So I need your help. Would you please consider donating to this cause? Any little bit helps. Just
Follow this link to go to my personal fundraising webpage and donate online.


Thursday, August 02, 2007


One of the things that has kept me busy the last couple of months is my new involvement with Y-Me, a national breast cancer organization. Y-Me provides information and support for anyone affected by breast cancer. I am now an on-call and peer match counselor. What does that mean, you ask? It means that I volunteer from home, taking shifts on their 24 hour a day hotline. The hotline is only manned by survivors. For this, I went to Chicago to be trained for a weekend. I swear, I travel so much for breast cancer now, you'd think I was working for some consulting firm or something. Anyway, I've done some shadowing work on the hotline itself and I've answered a few specific calls where they match people up to survivors with similar characteristics. You guessed it. I get the young ones.

I started the training for this right when all hell was breaking loose with my friends and I've only recently gotten all the technical stuff so I can begin from home. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about all this. I mean, talking to the woman who was stage 4 hit home. Or what about the woman who's afraid she won't have children? In the end, though, it's the people who end their call with, "Thank you. You've made this easier." If only for a day, I made a difference. And while you know I'm not really down with that cheesy shit, it feels good.

Plus, I have to say, the idea of volunteering and helping others, while grabbing a drink from the fridge and sitting in my pajamas is pretty great.

So, have you been affected by breast cancer? Do you need someone to talk to? Bitch, vent, ask questions? Give Y-Me a call.

Who knows? Maybe I'll be on the other end.


Who here hasn't been lured into some activity with the free t-shirt? It's up there with free pizza or "punch and pie." Much better than the key chain or "soda koozie." I think I have 3 credit cards due to this very ploy. You'd think the free t-shirt would lose its charm once you're old enough to legally enter the bar you've been going to for 3 years, but no. If it weren't for those t-shirts, what would you
a. work out in,
b. mow the lawn or
c. sleep in?

When I was younger, I had tons of t-shirts from high school activities. Student groups, sports, various community theater productions. I earned my t-shirts through sweat and watching 16 year olds make out in the hallway during "play practice." By the time I was ready to leave my parent's nest, I had amassed a ridiculous quantity of these pre-shrunk cotton wonders. In fact, my mother made me a queen sized quilt of my teen glory.

Ahh, college. The land of visa shirts and discover bottle openers. My high school shirts were replaced with numerous sorority shirts. Alpha Chi Omega shirts for dances and philanthropies and rush. T-shirts supporting our pledges, our football team, our intermural sports teams. (I myself was a three sport intermural player... I digress.) Then there were t-shirts of quotes when I was on the Student Funding Board (yes, I was a student government dork, too.) Or perhaps you'd like a zippered hoodie from "Guys and Dolls?" I always had something to wear when watching Dawson's Creek in the TV room or listening to Ace of Base while studying.

About a year after college, I worked on cruise ships. Alas! Another source for free shirts! I crossed the equator and kissed the fish, little kids tie-dyed ones for me, we launched a new ship, I promoted t-shirts that changed color in the sun. Slowly but surely, as my college shirts got faded, ripped, painted on or otherwise nasty, I had an MS Amsterdam shirt to take their place in my drawer.

So here I am, out of school, off ships - in the "real world." Just as my ship shirts were yellowing and I could no longer justify wearing the "AXO pledge class is GRR-RR-EAT!" shirt, another beacon of free clothing entered my life. Just when I was telling my husband, "What the hell will I do... I'm running out of t-shirts. Am I actually going to have to go to Old Navy and BUY one?" Just when I thought I would have to actually purchase said items, the t-shirt gods shined their light upon me.

I got breast cancer.

My drawer is now full of shirts from walking, racing, living. I have an abundance of pink. Shirts that tell me to "feel my boobies" or "get involved." Survivor Shirts. Remembrance shirts. In the course of a year, I think I've gotten like ten shirts.

Thank God. My Fall Fest 1999 t-shirt was getting lonely.

Sure, some of these "Free t-shirts" were actually free. Some were a "gift" for my participation. But a free survivor t-shirt? Free?

It only cost me thousands of dollars, half my boob and my dignity. Sure, I'll take two. Do you have them in extra large? What if they shrink?

Can never have enough t-shirts.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Shark Week

Okay, after watching
all together too much
Discovery Channel Shark Week,
I've come to a conclusion:

While living with cancer and dying from cancer are horrible, scary, shitty things, it could be worse:

I could be eaten alive by sharks.

Seriously, way worse.

Or bears. Bears effing freak me out.

I know I've been a little MIA. It's been a combination of being very very busy with some super exciting things, as well as "taking a little break." But I'm back.
To be continued...