Welcome, Princess Hedgehog!

December 12, 2008

Welcome to our newest writers, Princess Hedgehog and Stephanie!   Read on for an introduction to these amazing women, and come back to check out their posts!

Princess Hedgehog, “Hedgie”

Hedgie is not really a princess, although she wouldn’t mind hanging out in an enchanted forest. After being diagnosed with stage IIa breast cancer in 2006 at the tender age of 45, this Midwestern transplant to Northern California underwent the “standard of care” as they say: bilateral mastectomy (although only one breast had a tumor), chemo (A/C, Taxol, Taxotere), radiation and Tamoxifen. A year after starting chemo she bowed to pressure from her Agent of Doom (aka oncologist) and had an oophorectomy, which is medspeak for having one’s ovaries yanked. The following month she switched from Tamoxifen to Aromasin and lasted 26 days before realizing that she was losing her mind on the drug. Arimidex was also poorly tolerated and Hedgie bailed on all hormonal therapies. She hopes her efforts with acupuncture, diet and exercise will do as much if not more than the AIs to hold recurrence at bay.

A few months after finishing radiation, Hedgie was accepted into the Commonweal Cancer Help Project , a week-long retreat in Bolinas, CA. There she met and was transformed by incredible travelers on the cancer road, some who provided guidance for the body and spirit and some, friendship for the journey.

A former book editor, Hedgie also worked as a newsletter editor for a university before accepting a full-time motherhood gig. A 6-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl occupy her time and heart, sharing space with a busy husband and too many pets to list. The children provided Hedgie with her nickname when her hair began to come back following chemo; she resembled their favorite character from the Jan Brett stories. Because their mother took the Time of No Hairto play with dramatic, long wigs, the entire family gave the different looks personalities and names (Serena worked for the CIA). Thus, Princess Hedgehog was born.

Hedgie hopes to find her way back to the writing world. She blogs here and at Princess Hedgehog Chronicles.

My name is Stephanie and I am a thirty-five year old stay at home mother of two young daughters. I’ve been married to my husband Joe for ten years and live in New Jersey. My oldest daughter Leah is six years old and in first grade. My youngest, Maya, is two and was adopted from China in 2007 at the age of 9 months.
My mother was a breast cancer survivor for thirteen years. I have three cousins who have had breast cancer. I’ve been having yearly mammograms since I was thirty. In July 2008, just two weeks after my mother died of a Leukemia-like cancer, a small lump was found in my left breast at a routine mammogram. After having spent many months visiting my mother at a leading cancer hospital in NYC, I now have found myself a patient at the same facility. In September 2008 I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy, then a separate surgery to remove my remaining lymph nodes. I had one lymph node involved and have stage II breast cancer. I will be starting chemotherapy AC/T treatments in December 2008 that will last four months. I plan on having a bi-lateral mastectomy in the spring of 2009.
I have been blogging for years (first writing about my adoption journey, then highlighting some of my craft projects on-line). For the last two years I’ve been blogging at Stephanie’s Written Word www.thewrittenword.wordpress.com where I write book reviews. I also write over at C is not for Cookie www.4cookie.wordpress.com.

Life is (Almost) a Dog Park

December 6, 2008

I used to think life was a playground. You know, there were bullies in pinstripes and ball hogs in pumps. In a corner would be the fair play buddies, the sunshine sisters smiling in all weather, the go go guys running their sweat-dripping games. No more. Now I really believe life should be a dog park.

We spend 6 or 7 hours a week at a nearby dog park with Puppy Face, “we” being me, son and daughter and Puppy Face being the year old Roscoe, half German Short Hair Pointer and half French Bulldog. People watching has nothing on dog watching. The subtleties of the canine social gathering is an intricate weave: the give and take, nip and bump, bark and growl, tug and push. Roscoe is a regular in the 4-6 pm bunch. He’s the happy guy, a runner who delights in being the fastest. He’s sleek and beautiful to watch when he races against another sprinter, or glances over his shoulder to see the pack chasing him. A pitbull owner described Roscoe as an undercover bulldog, since he looks mostly pointer but will growl when his boundaries are being encroached. Confident, not arrogant. He never tires and rarely wants to head home. I scoop his 40 pound body up and walk him out, with him riding my hip and mouthing his squishy ball like a pacifier.

The dog park has all kinds. Jake is the shepherd mix who has been known to start fights. He’s come a long way, I heard, thanks to the work his owner devoted to him. Roscoe outran Jake’s nips and learned quickly to neutralize his aggressive body language; a week ago I saw Roscoe try to get Jake to play tug. Duke, a 70 pound Rottie a few months younger than Roscoe, is one of his best friends. They greet each other with face licks. Before Roscoe developed a great affection for the squishy ball (he carries it continuously at the park) he used to play tug with Duke. A piece of rope would work, and often Roscoe would be the one to offer an end to Duke. Despite their mismatched sizes, Roscoe held his own; he’s 40 pounds of solid bulldog MUSCLE. The complete delight of two dogs testing their strength against each other compels humans to stand still, watch and smile.

Yesterday a new bloodhound showed up. Lucy is a referee. Whenever another dog became a little too pushy or crossed some canine line in the sand she would let loose with a string of deep baying reprimands. Lucy approached the offending dog while talking, loudly; even Jake backed down with a slightly irritated look on his face. Lucy was either irreproachable in her reasoning or simply too annoying to argue with on the matter.

Honesty is a common language in the dog park. A dog might not like another dog; they will communicate that in various ways, in varying degrees, and if they can’t avoid each other or resolve the problem they’ll escalate it until it is resolved. Few dogs carry around hurt feelings or nurse grudges for long. Not at the dog park. Take me to the dog park. 

Will the other dogs play with me, I wonder?

Cross-posted to Princess Hedgehog Chronicles.

Welcome, new writers!

November 16, 2008

We have a happy event here today — we’re welcoming two new writers to the Mothers With Cancer site.  Please join me in welcoming Fran, from Kicked by an Angel, and Hedgie, from Princess Hedgehog Chronicles.  Here’s a little bit about each of these new authors.


I am a 45 year old mother of 3 kids; 14, 12 and 9 year olds. This year I was diagnosed with stage 2,er/pr positive, her2/neu positive breast cancer. In the last 8 months I have had a mastectomy,lymph node removal surgery, port-placement surgery, 4 rounds of Adriamycin/Cytoxin chemotherapy, 3 rounds of Taxol, and 6 rounds of Herceptin and have begun my 5 year stint with Tamoxifen. I was in the midst of trying to write a memoir when this dilemma hit, changing the focus of my writing considerably, but also giving me a new thread to tie it all together with. My biggest challenge has been how the treatment is affecting my ability to run and train for triathalons which was a big part of my life before diagnosis. I also blog at francesbarrie or kicked by an angel.


Princess Hedgehog lives in an enchanted forest created by my children. The year she came to life was the year my existence was tempered by the firestorm of a breast cancer diagnosis. Hedgie wanders through the forest we both inhabit, giving me a voice and perhaps, a way back into the world of published words. Essays, short stories, journal entries all cohabit peacefully here in Hedgie’s Kingdom. Since you have found your way here, please stay awhile and offer a comment or two. The writing muses are in need of discourse! Love, Hedgie

Want to be our next new writer?  The only catch is — ya gotta be a member of the club.  A mom with cancer.  (Email me if you are and you’d like to be considered….)