found: a good home for a fake boob

July 30, 2009

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I had an almost new prosthesis that I was seeking to re-home. This is what happened next:

Julia consulted other directors of Breast Cancer Action, who suggested that there might be a program to send prostheses to developing countries. She also called the social worker at the cancer centre who told her that Canadian Cancer Society takes donations (1745 Woodward Dr., Ottawa, ON K2C 0P9. 613-723-1744). I am so grateful to her for doing this.

Throws Like A Girl , who is part of our group at Mothers With Cancer, suggested that we need “a prosthesis relocation program.”

Imstell jumped in with the following:

“Maybe we [Mothers With Cancer] could just host a bulletin board where people could post their needs:

FREE TO GOOD HOME Single 36C teardrop prosthesis. Likes to travel. You pay shipping.

WANTED swimming prosthesis. Any size large enough to hide my belly.

These had me laughing out loud but I think we might actually get something like this going.

Finally, Christine told me that she has a friend who lives locally, who was in need of a new prosthesis. It turned out to be a perfect fit.

Thanks to all who commented here, via email and on Facebook. You made me laugh. And you made me feel good about the power of community.

Laurie also blogs at Not Just About Cancer.

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I Just Wanna Be OK

September 8, 2008

The only time I have ever cried during treatment was in the seconds before my mastectomies.  As they wheeled me into the operating room I shed a few last minute tears in fear and anticipation. 

Today was the second time.

I arrived at my radiation appointment at 2 pm today.  They had shown me where I needed to go and change and the waiting room where I wait.  When they showed me before, the room was empty.  This time it was full of women.  As I walked in you could hear the conversation pause.  All eyes were on the newbie.  And I was getting those sad looks as if to say….she is way to young for this.

Because I was the youthful one in the bunch and there were limited chairs I decided to sit on the floor.  One of the ladies was called in and came back quickly.  She was extremely happy because she only has three more treatments….which is great.  As the ladies peppered her with questions about her treatment she proceeded to show us the siren red rectangles on her chest from radiation.

I was horrified.  The newbie almost got up and walked out.  I had a few moments of “how can I sneak out of this room without detection” thoughts racing through my head.  Not only that but I would have two of those siren red rectangles on my chest.  I love to know what is ahead of me on this journey….but I don’t know why, but I wanted to cry right there on the spot.

When I got into the radiation room I had to lay on a hard board with my hands above my head for what seemed like forever while they took pictures to know exactly where they beams would hit.  Th painful problem was that I had my mastectomies only a month ago and my muscles do not stretch over my head that well.  Within minutes I had no blood circulation to my arms.  When I asked if I could take a break they told me they would have to start all over again.  After a while they did give me a break but as I started the next time it felt worse.  This time I could tell these extremely nice ladies were getting very frustrated with me.  They wanted to get this process over.  The computers had crashed in the cancer center earlier in the day and they were running behind. 

When they told me I had to hold that position and not move the flood burst.  I laid there with tears streaming down my face.  I could sense them hurrying around me but it still took forever.  AND they didn’t even finish.  I still have to go in tomorrow and finish the picture on the other side. 

As I drove home in tears I realized that the marks on my chest they drew on me come to the middle of my upper chest.  Which means the final shred of dignity is lost.  I was just warming up to my new figure and feeling OK with my new look and now I realize that any remotely v neck shirts will show my siren red sunburn.  Great.

So as I near my house this song comes on the radio.

http://su2c.standup2cancer.org/sutv/lift.php  (click on the picture of Ingred Michaelson)

And I am reminded that I made it through chemo.  I made it through the removal of both breast.  I made it through a cancer diagnosis.  I will always be broken.  But I am never alone.  I have a wonderful community of people around me.

Then I got home and I came in the door and three little munchkins yelled “mommy’s home” and raced to the door to greet me.

I just might go back to radiation tomorrow.


Community

August 31, 2008

We’ve been camping again this weekend.  We arrived yesterday afternoon.  Somehow between setting up and bedtime the ties under our pop-up trailer came undone.  Weather they weren’t secure when Jeremy set it up or one of the kiddos pulled on them.  Anyway….during the night my poor sleeping Elijah (19 months) rolled into the crack and fell right through to the ground.  I knew instantly what had happened when I heard him cry.  I started yelling “he fell out of the camper Jeremy!”  Jeremy half awake ran outside and got him.  He was so upset.  So was his mama.  We both cried.  We got him calmed down and he snuggled up next to me on the safe side the rest of the night. 

How horrible to be sleeping, warm and snug, then all of a sudden “bam,”  you wake up only to hit the hard rocky ground in the middle of the night.  What a rude awakening. 

This was a little how cancer was for me.  I was pretty safe and happy in my warm environment till one day “bam,” you have cancer.  I was just going about my business and then I rolled and fell plummeting into a downward spiral.  I woke dazed and confused.

When Elijah fell, we immediately examined him to make sure he was alright.  We turned the awful lights on and were immediately blinded.  He was crying his pitiful little cry.  Jeremy went to fill his bottle.  Jeremy wanted to turn the lights out but I wasn’t convinsed he was OK. 

I pulled him close to me and kissed, and kissed and kissed him.  I kept running my hand over his head to feel if he had any bumps that might be growing.  Even though I was terribly uncomfortable sleeping on my side with my post-mastectomy body I wouldn’t move because I didn’t want to let go of him.  I wanted him to know I was there.  We didn’t move the rest of the night.

When I took my own cancer fall I am happy to say I had a great community of support to help me.  I’m sure there were times when those I’m close to wanted so bad to hug me and hold me close and erase this misserable stuff that was happening to me.  When my world came crashing down I was in a daze and needed support.

If you are experiencing your own cancer fall right now I want to tell you right now is not the time to be shy.  Hopefully you have a community of support through your family, church or network of friends.  But if you don’t, I would encourage you to find a community that will travel this journey with you.  A church is a great place to start. 

My church family has called, written cards and brought meals.  Many people have offered help with childcare.  They also prayed over me and for me throughout this journey.  Any church you go to should respond in this way.  Call the pastor and explain the situation if you aren’t connected anywhere.  Even if you think religion is hog wash….you still need support. 

Cancer is a horrible diagnosis.  The initial shock is something that cannot really be explained if you haven’t experienced it.  But having a supportive network around you makes a world of difference.  It makes traveling this journey a little less painful.

By the way.  Elijah is just fine.  So am I.  You will be too.


BlogHer Recap

July 21, 2008

The answer to the question I posed in my last post on Toddler Planet is just as I had (not-so) secretly hoped. There is no one BlogHer. BlogHers — and women who blog — come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. BlogHers have different accents, different backgrounds, and different perspectives. BlogHers have different interests. Some of us are mommybloggers. Some of us are techbloggers. Some blog about personal finance, and some blog about infertility. Some blog their life and will sort it all out later. All approaches are valid, and that seems to be one of the core principles of the BlogHer community.

This weekend was at once better than and different from what I had imagined last year, after reading the recap posts. There was indeed a lot of hugging and squeeing, and oh-my-gosh did-you-see who-just-walked-by?, but there was also a great deal of serious networking. Of considered thought. Of asking, “How can we take this common interest a step further and grow together?”

Yesterday was one of the most powerful conference days I’ve ever experienced. I chose three sessions to attend that worked together amazingly well; the panelists and participants inspired me to be a better blogger, and to use my powers for good.

The very first session, “What We Believe: Beautiful Blogging and Positive Posting,” featured five lovely and talented bloggers who are making a difference in their communities and in the larger world, in many case just by the careful choice of words that they sending out into the world. Kyran Pittman reminded us that beautiful is not just about pretty, and that we can blog about difficult topics in a positive way. Krysten Heide, who writes Hope Revolution, spoke about the Hope Note project, and how she inspires women to reach out to others in their online or offline communities and encourage each other with words and notes. Jen from One Plus Two talked about the Just Posts, and enouraged us all to submit our favorite posts on social justice — or write one for the first time and submit it — to her this month, so that she can help expand their reach. Lucrecer Braxton talked about beauty and freedom through art, and the Art Slam initiative. Alyssa Royce gave us a preview of her new initiative, Just Cause It. Just Cause It is an amazing idea that I’ll be talking about more in the coming days. But it wasn’t just the speakers in this panel that blew me away. It was the audience. They were lively, interested, and engaged. They were polite to each other, but serious as they urged each other on to good works and beautifully composed essays. Chookoolonks reminded us all of Jen Lemen‘s works, and then inspired us with one of her own. When she sees a blogger rift happening in the blogs she reads, where one blogger gets upset with another, and unhappiness ensues, she makes a special effort to send good words and thankfulness out into the blogosphere, and asks her readers to join in the thankfulness. Several of us loved that idea, and I suspect we’ll be seeing more of that in the future. Another blogger made the point that words can be beautiful even if the situations are not pretty; that there is usefulness in writing about the difficult times too, particularly if there is a positive coming out of it. That leads us nicely into the next panel —

What we believe: Tools For Online Fundraising and Activism.
One of the things I learned this year is this: there are no little blogs. There is no such thing as “just” a personal blog. Every one of us has a unique perspective and an important set of talents. And her own sphere of influence. Beth Kantor, Her Bad Mother, and Donna Callejon gave wonderful talks about their approach to online advocacy and fundraising. From awareness-raising to writing for a cause to raising cold hard cash (Go Beth! $93k for Cambodian orphans this year!), these women have it going on, and they spent their time well, telling us how to do it too. Moderator Marnie Webb created a Wiki for this session, and the talks are posted there in their entirety — I highly recommend a thorough reading, or at least a listen to the podcast if you have interest in this topic.

The last regular session of the day was the panel that I participated in: “What We Believe: Blogging Communities as a Healing Force.” I’d like to cover this one in a little more detail tomorrow, but I have to say that I was so impressed with my fellow panelists’ honesty and dedication to painting the picture for us of their experience, no matter how difficult. The audience was friendly and respectful of our stories, and I really felt the love in the room. We dedicated the session to Andrea, PunkRockMommy, and Julia, who we lost this year, and who have left gaping holes in the mommyblogging and adoptionblog communities.

This morning’s unconference provided an opportunity for us to follow up on points from yesterday’s sessions and network on specific issues that will help us all to be better bloggers. We called the sessions that I went to “Using Our Powers For Good: Making a Difference On and Offline,” and “Group Blogging and Guest Posts.” I was totally blown away by the willingness of the participants to share best practices and to offer one another hope and help. You can bet that Laurie and I will be talking to them more as we (the 19 of us) set up Mothers With Cancer as a full resource site and safe haven for moms — and friends and family who come to support, help, and understand what life is like when mom gets cancer.

The other sessions were great (Mommyblogging as a Radical Act, anyone?), networking was popular, almost all the bloggers were really friendly and open, the parties were fantastic (oh, the parties.), and there was even good swag. But really, what I walked away from BlogHer08 with was invaluable — and I don’t mean the t-shirts, stuffed animals, USB drives, software, or even the DVD of me and Grover chatting on Sesame Street (but seriously? that was awesome). I walked away with a greater appreciation of what can be done with this medium we call blogging, and of the amazing diversity and reach of the 1000 women and men present.

If we put our hearts and minds together, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.

Crossposted on Toddler Planet and BlogHer.