please honour my friend by having some fun (by Laurie)

July 23, 2011

My friend Rebecca died this week. She was all of 37 years old (if I’ve done the math right) and she had metastatic breast cancer. She was also one of the funniest people in my online community. She was also generous, straigtforward and honest. My heart goes out to her friends and family – the people she loved, wrote about and who knew her best.

Rebecca left strict instructions that we were to shed no tears after her passing (I’m afraid I’ve let her down on that front but I’ve been doing my best) and that, instead of a funeral she wanted a celebration of her life. I’d love to join the party and to hear the stories that those closest to her would be bound to share. Because Rebecca took her fun seriously.

I won’t be able to attend the celebration (Rebecca lived in Cape Cod) but I would like to do something. And I need your help.

1. In the next week or so, please go out and do something fun. Do anything at all, as long as it makes you happy. If you need inspiration, Rebecca loved dogs (especially her pit bull, Diezel), cooking, eating out (her restaurant reviews were among my favourite blog posts), her scooter, her little car, road trips, NASCAR, kick boxing, books, funny movies and music. If none of these things appeal to you, please go out and do your own thing. If you like, bring someone with you to join in the fun.

2. Let me know. You can leave me a comment on this blog, at Not Just About Cancer or send me an email (laurie dot kingston at gmail dot com) or message me on Twitter (I’m @lauriek). Just a few words to let me know what fun thing you did in Rebecca’s memory. I’ll compile a list and make sure that it gets to her family.

That’s it. It already makes me feel happier, thinking that there will be a little more joy in the world this week. I think Rebecca would approve.

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now this could be fun (by laurie)

March 11, 2011

 

I’ve written before about the one major limitation of Herceptin – that it doesn’t cross the brain-blood barrier. A couple of years ago (after meeting several young women with metastasis that had spread to the brain), I underwent a brain MRI. To my very great relief, there was no evidence of trouble but I think I’ll will be requesting another before too long.

A few days ago, my friend Deanna posted a link to Breast Cancer? But Doctor…I Hate Pink and to Ann’s take on the news that Viagra may help Herceptin to (ahem) penetrate the blood-brain barrier and thus help reduce the size of brain tumours.

As Anne tells it:

“Herceptin, the wonder drug, has a flaw: it does not cross the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier was erected designed by nature to protect our brains from dangerous substances, such as bad viagra jokes, but what it means for cancer patients is that certain drugs can’t get through to kill swollen bad cells. Herceptin cannot treat HER2+ breast cancer that has engorged spread invaded the brain. Apparently, if you add a big large generous dose of Viagra to Herceptin, it adds enough thrust power to break through that blood-brain barrier and bathe the brain in its heaving healing properties.”

It’s seriously interesting news but go read Ann’s full post. It will make you laugh.

Cross-posted from Not Just About Cancer.


It Can Happen to You

February 8, 2011

My dog Sophie sat under the kitchen table for years, with great, unflagging optimism. I would marvel at her evergreen hopefulness, as she would lie belly-down on the hardwood floor, looking up with patient brown eyes at the underside of the table on which that night’s dinner lay. Years of evidence to the contrary, she would wait perfectly still for that magical moment when the pork chops would levitate from the table, hang in the air for a few seconds, then drop to the floor with a juicy thud. Sophie’s eyes said it all: “It could happen.”

Then one day, it did happen.

My mom had come to San Francisco and wanted to go shopping at Union Square. She put a pot roast in the oven, turned the heat to low, and said it would be fine for a couple hours. Long story short, we spent more time than planned downtown. When we got back to my flat on Cesar Chavez street, I ran up the stairs to try on my new shoes while Mom ran up to check on her pot roast, which by now had been roasting for six hours.

“I think it’ll be ok,” she said, placing her smoking, ruined dinner on the table. Sophie took her position underneath and waited.

As Mom muscled through the hard crust of what now looked like a hockey puck, the entire “roast” flew off the serving platter. Sophie sprang. In what seemed like a slow motion slam dunk, she caught the “roast” in her jaws before it even hit the floor.

Victory comes to dogs who wait. Not often, but it is a possibility.

Which, finally, leads me to a point. And that point is that you can go through a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and reconstruction and still find love. I know because it happened to me.

I had a very supportive boyfriend through it all. He waited for two years for the glorious outcome of my reconstruction. But unlike Sophie’s prize pot roast, the outcome wasn’t so good, so he split. “What a dog,” my friends exclaimed. Not so. I got a lot out of that relationship, and it slowly and painfully led me to my current one.

I won’t detail all the bad Match.com dates that came between the two. That’s for another post. What I will detail is that during that time I waited with great hope and optimism for that one man who would see beyond my physical and emotional scars and see something else. Fear, sometimes. Resilience, maybe. Unflagging optimism, for sure.

That relentless optimism and a wholesome faith in my God, led me to my man. A list of adjectives cannot begin to describe his goodness, but I can’t resist: Bighearted, honest, compassionate, generous, patient, understanding, forgiving, funny, uncomplicated, complicated, deep, basic, true. We got engaged in Kauai on January 12. He just wags my tail.

For all you girls out there wondering how you’re gonna find love after cancer, remember this: It does happen. And it can happen to you.


What do I have in common with Crystal Gayle?

August 25, 2010

I’ve made a decision about my hair.  Alright, I made it a long time ago, but I’m just now coming clean with you.  The day Jeremy shaved my head was the day I knew, when and if it came back, I would grow it forever, and I mean forever.  I’m working on a two-year bob right now.  I’m a secret wanna be Crystal Gayle.  Not the “I never trim the ends” wanna be, but the ridiculously, past my hipperoo’s, wanna be.  When I’m thinking with a clear head, which is very rarely these days, and I look at a picture of Crystal with her uber long hair I think “who in heaven’s name told her that looks good?”  It has to be some really warped reason I’m sure…..like maybe she was one of those kids that didn’t grow hair till they were 10 and she vowed when it came in she would never cut it.  Or maybe they couldn’t afford bath towels when she was growing up so her hair was an easy remedy to a perplexing problem.  I dunno. 

 But somewhere in my warped post-chemo, “I can’t escape cancer” brain of mine, I think.

a.  I really want hair.  I missed it so much when it was gone I want it and I want LOTS of it.  I want to feel it on my shoulders, tie it in knots like lady gaga, and let my girls learn to french braid on it. 

 b.  If I were being totally honest, I’m probably waiting for the day they tell me I need chemo again… but THIS time I will be ready.  It’ll be so long I’ll be able to make my own wig, or maybe glue it back on my head if a wig costs too much.  I’ll be the ultimate comb-over, but I don’t care because it will be MY HAIR! Let me say it again because it sounds so good to type it…..MY HAIR.  I even like to type MY EYEBROWS, but that’s a whole nother post about someone with a wicked uni-brow and I’m not going to take it that far.  (At least I don’t think I will.  Oh that’s right, my eyebrows don’t meet in the middle, so scratch that idea.)

 c.  And the final reason is because when you’ve lost 2 items of “sexy” as a woman, the hair is a logical place to turn.  Especially when 2 items of sexy will never really return, they can try for you but they will ultimately never ever return…..and we’re not talking “complaining after nursing they won’t return,” we’re talking never again will you feel. anything. period. return.  But the hair most likely will return, and this is good.

 And so Crystal Gayle, tonight I’m not raising a glass of wine to you (although you might think I’ve been drinking with my ludicrous ramblings) because that might mess with my hormones and I don’t want cancer to come back, but I do have my feet up with a bowl of popcorn and a diet pepsi, and so here’s to you and your hair. 

I love hair.


Breast Cancer Survivor’s Beach Day Oath

August 2, 2010

(by clergygirl)

1.  I will go to the beach and not let insecurity keep me from enjoying the sunny days of summer.

2.  I will not COVET my neighbors breasts, even the saggy ones.

3.  I will let people imagine how I got my funky tan lines.  

4.  I will make-believe that the blue dots on my chest from radiation actually do look like freckles.

5.  I will not keep hiking up my bathing suit top and sneaking peeks at my chest to make sure my scars aren’t showing.

6.  I will not care if my chest is super flat, it makes me look thin.

7.  I will find a nice bathing suit with a lining I can cut a hole in for the prosthetics instead of buying those expensive bathing suits where they cut the hole for you, Because breast cancer is expensive enough.

8.  I will live by today’s research and wear SPF approved by EWG if I’m out in the middle of the day for more than a half-hour, but if it’s less than that I won’t wear any to get my dose of VITAMIN D, which is supposed to keep cancer away. 

9.  I will try to keep up with current research just in case rule 8 changes.

10.  I will imagine people are looking at me because “I”M HOT,” and not for any other insecurity I have about my body or my chest.


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


It’s All About The Boobs – A Trilogy

June 6, 2010

 

Written by Jennifer Thompson

Over at my personal blog, Jenster’s Musings, I’m doing a series of posts called “It’s All About The Boobs”. At first I didn’t think it was necessarily appropriate to Mothers With Cancer, I guess because it’s not about living with cancer. But the more I thought about it, I decided this series IS appropriate. Two of the three experiences wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been a BC survivor and the third experience would have meant something completely different to me. So I’ve decided to post the trilogy here, too.


For most of April and the first week of May I was lied to left and right. Todd lied to me, my friends lied to me, my kids lied to me… and I didn’t know. It’s a little scary how easily these people, people who supposedly care about me, could tell me falsehood after falsehood with a perfectly straight face. Let me give you a small sampling of the bevy of deceptions perpetrated against me.

Early April:

Katie

Katie: I need a tropical recipe for school for extra credit.

Me: How about Hawaiian Chicken? It’s easy and yummy.

Katie: Okay.

Late April:

Laura

Laura: Do you think Katie would want to babysit for us on the 7th?

Me: Probably. We have a surprise birthday party to go to, but I’m sure she would sit for you.

Laura: Great.

Me: So what are you going to do?

Laura: Bill and I are going on a date.

Me: Good for you!

Friday, May 7:

Taylor

Taylor: I’m going to Nick’s.

Me: Are you going to come to Mark’s party?

Taylor: Yeah. We’ll probably swing by at some point.

Todd

Todd: Katie just called and said there’s a leak under the sink at Bill and Laura’s.

Me: Oh, no.

Todd: She said it’s not bad. We’ll just stop on our way to Mark’s party and you can come in and see Laura’s new tile.

Me: Alright. I’ve been wanting to see it…

It went down like this: I walked up to the front door with Todd so I could “see Laura’s new tile while he checked under the sink.” When the door opened up there were all these people on the stairs and in the hall yelling “Surprise!” Turns out Todd had spearheaded a surprise party for me with some of our neighbors to celebrate five years of being cancer free. Mark’s wife, Amy, was in on it, too. She happened to be throwing a surprise 40th birthday party for him on the same night and even told him he was going to my surprise party.

They got me good! I had absolutely no inkling of their diabolical plan – the bunch of consummate fibbers. They had a luau for me, hence the Hawaiian Chicken recipe Katie wrangled out of me. Todd played the guitar while Katie sang “Grace” by Saving Jane – one of my favorite songs she sings. After that Taylor played his guitar some while we all sat around, eating and laughing and just having a good time. But the fun didn’t stop there. Oh, no it didn’t. There was also a cake. A boob cake.

(I blocked out the nipples ala Girls Gone Wild commercials so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of my virtuous readers. Or reader. Whatever.)

And that’, mi amigas, is Part I. Stay tuned for Part II.