Too Moody For This

June 4, 2011

Last night my 12-year-old daughter got in trouble with her father and he just barely raised his voice at her.  Her response to this was to look at him and say, do not yell at me.  I wasn’t sure if my husband’s head was going to explode or not…it was touch and go there for a while.  My reaction, on the other hand, was to cry.  This has been happening more and more often lately.  I went to the grocery store and my husband told me I bought the wrong kind of cheese – I could feel my chin quivering and the tears forming in my eyes.

I’m turning 42 this month.  I know what menopause feels like, because I had the honor of going through it when I went through chemo.  Not only is it my birthday this month, but it’s also my 2 year cancer free anniversary – which means it’s been two years since I’ve had a hot flash or a major mood swing.  So, ok, I’m going through menopause, right?  Am I just starting menopause at the ripe old age of 42?  Is this a carry over from chemo?  Is it cancer?  Is it cancer? Is it cancer?  I get so tired of thinking that. 

 I see my oncologist every 4 months now.  It’s been 5 months since my last appointment.  Putting off going to the doctor doesn’t change what the outcome is going to be.  Intellectually I know this.  When they found the lump in my breast, they told me to trust them, because it was probably nothing.  Boy, were they wrong that time.  If I hear that again this time, I think my head will explode.


Those three little words. by throwslikeagirl

July 24, 2010

“You’re no fun.”

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest child said this to me, followed closely by, “You never do anything anymore.”,  not realizing at all how that cuts.   Some of you are probably thinking, “Big deal, Nicole.  Kids say stuff like this all the time ”

But it is.  The last three summers I haven’t been any fun.  Surgery/Chemo.  Surgery/infection.  Surgery.  And in this case she wasn’t referring to some parental comment like “Our sofa is not a jungle gym, please sit down.” (Which she has heard on occasion.)  She was sad because she couldn’t go somewhere due to my inability to drive post surgery.

When I was first diagnosed, I worried about how she would cope with all the weirdness of having a mom with cancer.  At first, I thought she’d be afraid.  But she wasn’t.  I thought she might be clingy.  But again, she was her usual gregarious self.  She would talk to anybody and everybody about my cancer.  (I’m sure she gets that from me.)  There is no playground conversation stopper quite like, “Hi there!  Did you know my mom has one boob?”  (And no, I’m not  exaggerating.  She actually said that.)

So then I worry that my children have become intolerant of my medical issues.  The boy still cuts me some slack, but man, the girl is giving me a hard time.   “Do I have to do all your jobs for you?”  Let me tell you how well that one went over.  😛  Thankfully, my mama friends say that their 7 year olds are the same way, which makes me feel better.  I’m hoping to chalk it up to my horse blinder theory in which kids (and some adults, heh) can really only see the world as it relates to themselves with little regard to the bigger picture.  One of our job as parents and educators is to help our children learn the empathy skills that enable them to see the world outside of themselves.

I don’t want you to get the idea that the girl is nasty all the time.  She’s not and is generally very helpful.  I think it’s just those well-timed zings that she doesn’t truly understand that prey upon my fears as a parent. 

Am I no fun?  Has cancer made me a bad mama?

Of course not.

But I think it’s time for empathy training boot camp.  🙂

Crossposted to Throws Like A Girl

Chemotherapy Induced Time Travel

March 29, 2009

(crossposted from Coffee and Chemo)

My son and I were sitting down for an afternoon snack together.

Suddenly, I had a major hot flash!

I explained that my drug induced menopause caused it. I then elaborated that women usually go through menopause around age 50.

“You mean,” my son asked, with a twinkle in his eye, “you went forward in time?!”

Why is that funny?

March 17, 2009

(cross posted, and edited a bit, from Coffee and Chemo)

On our way home tonight, tired and giddy, my kids and I were laughing about the whole cancer thing. (I know it sounds strange but, trust me, it was funny)

“What is a support group?” asked my youngest daughter.

My eldest daughter jumped in and answered that my support group is “for women with cancer.”

“Not just any old cancer,” I pointed out.

“OK, women with breast cancer,” my eldest corrected herself.

“Not necessarily breast cancer,” I corrected her this time, “women with metastasis.”

“What’s metastasis?” my youngest asked, still confused.

Here, my son jumped in “cancer that is not going away.”

It might sound like a heavy conversation, but it was really quite lighthearted.

I mentioned that, earlier in the day, my sister mercilessly referred to my group as “poor, sick people who sit around talking about cancer.” my eldest, my son, and I burst out laughing.

“Why is that funny?” my youngest asked, even more confused.

“It’s not,” I answered, after a brief pause…. “which is why it is so funny!”

And we burst out laughing some more.

Clusterfook update

February 27, 2009

Please go read an update on our dear friend and contributor, Lisa, from Clusterfook.  She has brightened our days here and spoken truth about cancer.  Most of all, she has spoken love of her children, and worked to help them have good memories of this time and lessons that they will take with them forever.

Lisa, we love you.  Go in peace.

Edited to add: Lisa’s gone.

The 20-Year-Plan

February 5, 2009
(cross posted from Coffee and Chemo)
Something has been bothering me for a while now.
A few weeks ago (or maybe it was a few months ago), during one of my meetings with my oncologist to discuss switching to Taxol, I casually asked if this change is going to “interfere with my 20-year-plan.”
My doctor immediately became serious.  “Who gave you that number?” he queried, adding “I did not give you that number.”
“I know,” I responded, reassuringly.
I completely made up that number.  It is a random number, representing my intention to live with this cancer-thing for a long time. 
But then, I got worried.
“Why,” I challenged, joking, “is it too short?”  Then, I added, verbalized my fear, “Or is it too long?” 

But my oncologist would not play that game.

“I do not do numbers,” he declared, quite seriously, “You know that.”

I do.  But the Pandora’s Box was open.  Perhaps I was just living in my own little fantasy world.

So, today, I got up my courage and asked, “Am I deluding myself?”

Now, though this conversation has been plaguing me for months, it was not immediately obvious to my oncologist that I was referring to his comment about my 20-year-plan.  So, I reminded him of our conversation and, a little bolder now, repeated my question.  “Am I deluding myself?”

“It’s a bit of a long shot,” began my oncologist. (ouch)  I imagine my face fell a bit. “I am not telling you something you do not know;” he continued, leaning forward in his chair, eyes locked on mine, “you are familiar with the statistics.  But you also know that I do not make predictions.” (yeah, I know)

He cited a patient of his who has been living with metastatic breast cancer for 23 years. (He did not give me any details, of course)

“It is reasonable,” he continued, a bit softer, “to plan for the future.”

And, though it is unusual for him to give his opinion about what I should do, he added, “I think it is right to live your life that way.”

I wish I could remember exactly what else he said, because he gave me a rare compliment about how I am handling living with cancer exceptionally well.  It was really nice.

Then he asked me if I knew I had 18 months left to live, would I do anything different?

I said I would get things in order.  To which he responded, quite sternly, “you should do that anyway, and it has nothing to do with cancer.” 

Then he continued, “my guess is that if you knew that you had only a year and a half left to live, you would accelerate your lifestyle, not slow it down.”

I conceded that his assessment was accurate.  But still, I persisted. “I talk with my children about the future, even about the long-term future.”

I wanted him to understand that it was important to me not to be deluding myself, and also not to be deluding my family.

He got it. 

“Planning for the future is the best thing you can do for both you and your children.” 

He wanted to make sure that I got it too.

I got it.

Update: Lisa

January 24, 2009

Our friend Lisa from Clusterfook has decided that it’s time to stop treatment. She has returned home and begun hospice care.

Stop by and give her a little love if you can.