Thursday, January 28, 2010


I have felt the warmth of your company, and the grace of your kind thoughts throughout this blog. Thank you for your comments and friendship. They will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Go On

The next 500 words you read in this blog, give or take a few, will mark the end of my career as a cancer blogger. All in all, that’s a really good thing because it means I have run out of things to say about life with cancer. It has stopped being a disruption in my life.

Some people ask me if I am in remission and, what the heck…I say yes. My doctors haven’t exactly used those words. But that is mainly because it has sort of fallen out of fashion to say the word remission in the world of oncology. It’s too gloomy. It suggests an eventual return, does it not? So you might hear the acronym NED instead, which means No Evidence of Disease. You say tomato; I say… as long as I don’t have to have chemo, I’m happy!

I am aware that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) has been found in some cancer survivors. That probably explains why I struggle with guilt when I hear about other people who have actually lost their life to the disease. But fortunately, that’s the extent of the emotional side effects that I have been left to deal with.

Looking back on my initial diagnosis and the hours that followed, I’m struck by how certain I was that I was going to die, how desperately I did not want to leave my children, and how overwhelmed I was at the thought of someone having to sort through that pile of papers on my desk that never seemed to go away, after I died. The first two thoughts demanded every tear my tear ducts could produce, the last one…well that was just weird, but so very very me.

Now I find myself consumed in a crossword or sudoku puzzle every chance I get in a desperate attempt to eradicate “chemo brain” or what some call the “chemo fog”. I actually drove my car to the Safety/IM station for an inspection not too long ago, just to realize as I pulled into the bay that the car that needed the service was still in my garage at home and that I had driven the wrong car down. But my favorite story comes from a young musician/chemo patient in New York who got a flat tire late one very, very cold winter’s night. He got out of the car and managed to jack up his car and put the spare tire on without freezing his fingers off or getting mugged, just to realize as he was one foot back into the vehicle that he had changed a perfectly good tire and the flat one was still sitting on the wheel!

So, everything is going to be all right. I won’t blame myself for the tumor, but I will eat less sugar and more vegetables. I’ll take a hundred bad hair days over a “no-hair” day, any day and I will find a six-letter word for "laugh" before the night is through. My blog will go on...but have very little to do with cancer, if anything at all. Cheers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Plastic Surgery

Let’s face it; there are just some parts of your body you don’t want to discuss with anyone, not even your doctor. We get embarrassed. However, cancer is no respecter of organs. Therefore we find that as age marches on, we must submit to awkward medical procedures and conversations once in a while, in order to prolong our stay as mortals.

Let’s all be mature, shall we? Well, that’s easier said than done for me. I am 40 years old yet I still crack up like a fifth grader when I hear the word “fart”. Just typing it made me laugh. So perhaps that explains why I’ve found it difficult to have breast cancer. I feel awkward talking about breasts, especially my own.

So imagine, immature little me having to delve head first into the world of plastic surgery. Imagine me at my first appointment with my plastic surgeon as he explained the reconstruction process. I felt like I was investigating some sort of cult, incredulous to learn what they were putting in the punch that everyone was drinking.

No way was I going to write about this in my blog. Too weird and way too personal. But then I kept seeing this beautiful young girl in my head, sitting at her computer, contemplating cosmetic surgery. Could anyone out there be more starved for the truth than today’s youth? Could anyone be more vulnerable to our cult of beauty?

So it is with “her” in mind that I swallow my pride and put my giggles away. For you, my little sister, I share my honest thoughts: Yes, your dress may fit a little better, but just as the novelty of buying that dress wore off, so will the novelty of your new profile in it. You’ll be just as happy or miserable as you were as an A cup now that you’re a D. I once lived in a Parade of Homes home, now I live in a duplex. My surroundings have changed, but in the morning, I still wake up with the same me that I used to put to bed at night in my old mansion. Happiness and success comes from the soul, not the shrink-wrap.

As fabulous a job as plastic surgeons have done over the years to improve their ability to mimic nature, there’s still no fooling anyone. Not anyone. Fake is fake. If you can live with it, fine. Many do. I do. But if you had a choice, would you rip the trees out of your yard and replace them with silk ones from the super mart? Silk plants are great. I love ‘em. But silk plants don’t give me oxygen. They don’t grow. They don’t need me.
They don’t interact with their environment, overcome adversity, follow the sun, or do anything dynamic and memorable like real foliage does. Fake is fake.

Finally, let me just say…it hurts. It really, really hurts. Each of us gets to choose every day how much suffering we will introduce to the world. The less suffering we inflict upon each other, the better. The less suffering we inflict upon ourselves, the best.

So little sister, this is my opinion. Not my judgment. I condemn no one for choices that come from a heart that has never beat in my chest. To the rest of my readers, I hope I didn’t offend anyone and I hope you never let “body embarrassment” stop you from doing the right thing, from having a colonoscopy to saying excuse me. (pardon me while I giggle)