Inspiring video

December 14, 2008

Just when I needed a little boost, I read about this video over at one of my favorite book blogs. From the author Kelly Corrigan’s website, the above video is a beautiful tribute to women, strength and enduring friendships. Kelly’s memoir, The Middle Place, is being released in paperback next week. You can read a description of her memoir from Publishers Weekly below:

Newspaper columnist Corrigan was a happily married mother of two young daughters when she discovered a cancerous lump in her breast. She was still undergoing treatment when she learned that her beloved father, who’d already survived prostate cancer, now had bladder cancer. Corrigan’s story could have been unbearably depressing had she not made it clear from the start that she came from sturdy stock. Growing up, she loved hearing her father boom out his morning HELLO WORLD dialogue with the universe, so his kids would feel like the world wasn’t just a safe place but was even rooting for you. As Corrigan reports on her cancer treatment—the chemo, the surgery, the radiation—she weaves in the story of how it felt growing up in a big, suburban Philadelphia family with her larger-than-life father and her steady-loving mother and brothers. She tells how she met her husband, how she gave birth to her daughters. All these stories lead up to where she is now, in that middle place, being someone’s child, but also having children of her own. Those learning to accept their own adulthood might find strength—and humor—in Corrigan’s feisty memoir.

I think this book sounds like a really great read and I plan to purchase a copy for myself for Christmas (who says you can’t buy yourself a Christmas present anyway)?


December 13, 2008

jeal·ous –adjective

1. feeling resentment against someone because of that person’s rivalry, success, or advantages (often fol. by of): He was jealous of his rich brother.

I live in a town in one of the most expensive counties in the country. Even though my house isn’t small, in comparison to the McMansions surrounding me, it is teeny-tiny. More often than I would like to admit, I am jealous of what other people have – big center island kitchens, master bathrooms, built in pools. One or two days of brooding about their beautiful custom fire pit in the backyard or luxury car and I get over it. I know what is important in life and don’t need a big house to make me feel better.

This is what I always though being jealous was like. This is, until my mother died. Sure, that little green monster of envy would flair up after having to explain to my six year old for the twentieth time why we don’t have a dedicated “play room” in our house, but NEVER in my life have I really known what the word means until now.

Since my mom died in June, every time someone talks about their mom, even in the most casual of references, I feel a pang in my heart. When I go shopping and see a women walking through the store with her mom next to her, I miss mine. When I read a book that describes a relationship between a daughter and her mother, I feel sad. Last night my daughter cried. I am not sure what brought it on, but all of a sudden she cried big tears over missing her grandmother. Just thinking about her pain made me sad, angry and yes, jealous. Why do other children still have their grandmas to play with, to sleep over their houses, to talk to? Why does my six year old have to know this pain? Why does she now have to have the word cancer in her vocabulary?  

Just four years ago, at Christmastime, someone took a picture of my grandmother, my mother, myself and my daughter. Four generations of women. Now there are only two of us left. Yeah, I’m jealous all right.

A hat

December 12, 2008

Before you read my post about the hat you see below in the picture of me, I wanted to introduce myself as one of the new Mom writers here at Mothers With Cancer. I have a history of breast cancer in my family, including my own mother who was a thirteen year survivor of the disease, so I wasn’t all that surprised when I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in September of this year. I’ve had two surgeries and have a stage 2 breast cancer with 1 lymph node involved. I will be beginning chemo (AC/T) after Thanksgiving. I’ve been blogging for years, most recently writing book reviews at my blog Stephanie’s Written Word. I have two daughter’s (a biological 6 year old and a 2 year old adopted from China). Thanks for having me!  – Stephanie


hat 004OK, I’m not what you would call a “hat” person. Unlike those svelte models sporting cute winter hats on the pages of an L.L. Bean catalog, hats tend to make me look strange. I just can’t seem to pull off the look. And yet, I spent the bulk of my weekend knitting up myself a couple of hats.

When I first found out that I had breast cancer, I told my husband that if I lost my hair I would NOT be wearing a wig. It kind of flew out of my mouth without much thought behind it. Over the last few weeks I’ve had the time, mostly while knitting, to think about why I felt so adamant about not wearing a wig. When faced with a disease that can change the way we physically look, I understand why many people opt to wear a wig. My Mom, when she was diagnosed thirteen years ago with breast cancer, purchased a wig even before losing her hair. I remember that she wore her wig most of the time and I think it gave her a sense of normalcy that she needed. But there was another reason she wore that wig. My Mom was very secretive about her disease and didn’t let many people know about her cancer. I suppose breast cancer wasn’t as prevalent in the news as it is in 2008 and maybe she was afraid of the social stigma of having cancer. This always makes me a little sad, since I really didn’t understand at the time why it was such a big secret.

Even though I don’t usually like to be the center of attention, I am also not embarrased by the fact that I have breast cancer. I don’t want it to be a secret. I want other women to know that a routine mammogram has saved my life. I am not afraid of my disease and even though I probably won’t really like the way I look when I put on my home-made knitted hat in the morning, at least I’ll be being true to myself. This is why I won’t be wearing a wig if I have chemothereapy. If you’ve been through this before, what made you decide whether or not to wear a wig?

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 where I write book reviews. I also write over at C is not for Cookie