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.


January 12, 2009
(cross posted and edited from Coffee and Chemo)
I was hoping that I would be lucky this time too.

Despite a few days of hair loss, most of my hair remained on my head during the past year or so of chemo. So, when my hair started falling out this time, I hoped that it would stop after a few days. (Never mind that my doctor said it would probably not fall out last time and that it probably would fall out this time — feelings are not rational)

It has already been two weeks, and every day I comb out more hair.

A few days ago, I posted here about losing my hair. Mary Beth Volpini, commented on the post:

I read a great saying a long time ago …
”If you don’t know what to do…don’t until you do.”

The simple truth of those words touched my inner soul.

I was not yet ready to say good-bye to my hair.

I was torn. Though I was not yet ready to “cut it all off,” I wanted to save part of my hair. I wanted to save my braid, which was getting thinner and thinner every day. I did not want to wait too long.

The other night, I watched several YouTube videos of women with cancer who shaved their heads.

Several mothers chose to involve their children in the shaving/cutting. I thought this was a great idea. When I first suggested it to my girls, they were appalled by the idea. I let it go. Not every good idea is good for every family.

Today, after swimming, I had to ask a friend to help remove all the hairs that fell off and stuck to my back. That was it. When she asked me “why don’t you cut it short?” I realized the time had come.

On our way home, I mentioned to A, who was the only child with me, that I wanted to cut off my braid tonight. We talked a bit about our feelings.

“It makes me sad,” A said sweetly, “I like your hair.”

“Me too,” I admitted.

We were quiet for a few moments. Then I asked her, “Would you like to help me cut it off?” Without hesitating, she answered “yes.”

When I got home, I told Y that I was going to cut off my braid and that A was going to help cut it. Then I asked her if she wanted to help cut it off too. To my surprise, she also answered yes right away.

I then asked MD, who answered just as quickly “I am not part of this.” We all laughed.

I told Moshe, who asked, surprised, “You want to do this now?”

I was hurrying to get ready for a simcha (celebration), but the timing was right.

“I want to do this now,” I answered, definitively.

I got our our barber shears and gave them to Y, who began cutting off my braid. Then, she passed them on to her sister. While A was cutting, Y came around to give me a hug. I felt surrounded by love and caring.

It took less than five minutes. I combed my fingers through what was left of my hair.

“It looks cute,” Y said. Then she noticed that the ends were not even. She took the shears, studied my face, and evened out the ends. “There,” she stated when she was finished. “You should put in some clips to hold the hair out of your face,” she added, and ran to get some for me.

And then it was done. I went to get dressed for the simcha.

“Nice haircut,” said one of my friends, later in the evening, noticing the short ends sticking out from under my scarf.

I smiled, and she realized why I cut it.

“Still,” she said, acknowledging the loss, “it looks good on you.”

Sieze the Moment! For in a Flash, it is Gone!

October 26, 2008

(cross posted from CoffeeandChemo)

Last year, all my kids were interested in meeting with my doctor, and asking him questions. I was happy, because I thought they might ask the doctor different questions than they ask me. Also, I thought that the more exposure they had to my cancer world, the less scary that world would be to them.

Despite my good intentions, we were just too busy. We did not find the time to meet with the doctor, until now.

Well, I guess I did not have to worry too much. My kids are not scared. They are bored.

I practically had to beg them to come to chemo with me. “It will be a chance for us to spend some time together…” I cajoled, “I’ll bring games… and treats….”

“No offense, mom,” began my son, placing his hand placatingly on my shoulder, “but we’d rather spend time with our friends.”

What happened to those little kids who used to cling to me?!?!

Who said I was ready for them to grow up??

“Don’t any of you have any questions for the doctor??” I asked, again, amazed at how quickly things change.

“I do,” said my youngest, meekly. I wasn’t sure if she was hesitating because she didn’t want to go against her brother and sister, or if she didn’t really have any questions, but didn’t want me to feel bad….

It turns out, she really did want to ask the doctor some questions.

“But I don’t want to spend all day there,” she added, lest I get the impression that she wanted to hang out with boring old me for the whole day….

I brought my kids, and my mom, to chemo, on the Sunday between Yom Kippur and Succot.

I persuaded my son to tag along, thinking that it would be good for my daughter, and, maybe, he might discover that he has a question, or two, after all. My eldest had school, so she was out of the picture.

The plan was for the kids to meet with the doctor, sometime in the a.m., and then head off to their friends’ homes by bus. (When did they get so independent??)

Unfortunately, I had misunderstood my doctor. Instead of being in my ward until “at least 11:00,” he was in a different ward until “at least 11:00.” At around noon, we camped out in the hallway, hoping to catch him. Eventually, he whizzed by. In passing, he called out “1:30, the earliest!”

That was too late. My kids were already anxious to be on their way to their friends’. My charm had clearly reached its limit. I stalled them, but… at 1:30, they left, agitated, late to their friends, and without having met the doctor. I asked my mom to accompany the kids to the bus stop.

Of course, as soon as they left, the doctor whizzed back. “OK, let’s go…” he beckoned.

I quickly called my mom. “Did they leave yet?”

It was not so easy to get the kids to come back. They had not even entered the elevator, but they were already “out the door” emotionally. My son was especially agitated at being called back. I promised that I would make it alright, not knowing how I would do that…. I did not have the time to help him calm down. My daughter was pretty upset as well, but she was the one with the questions…

I wondered if I had done the right thing.

My son waited outside the door, while I went in, with my daughter and my mom. We sat down, leaving the door open, so my son could hear, and be a part of things, even if he wasn’t in the room. My daughter was sitting solemnly, not exactly pouting, but not her usual, charming self.

My doctor, on the other hand, was exceptionally charming. Boy, did he work his magic. Within seconds, he put my daughter at ease. The moment I saw her flash a smile, I knew that I had done the right thing.

“So,” invited my doctor, “I understand you have a question for me.”

And then she asked, so sweetly, and so quietly, “What are the chances that there will be a miracle?”

Silence. Anticipation, and a child’s innocent hope, dangling in the air.

“What kind of miracle?” prompted my doctor.

“A miracle,” she explained, “that the cancer will go away.”

Again, silence.

I wondered, how would he answer that?

Then my doctor leaned forward, clasped his hands together, and answered carefully, “Well, every year, and every month, and every day, there are scientists and doctors who are working on, and discovering, new drugs. For example, the medication that is working so well on your mother did not exist three years ago. So, I think that it is… reasonable… to expect a miracle.”

He paused; then asked cautiously, “How do you think your mother is doing?”

“OK,” she answered, sweetly, quiet once again. She looked up at me for reassurance, then continued, “she’s tired a lot.”

“And how do you feel?” He asked.

“OK,” she answered.

“That’s good,” responded my doctor, “because you mother is doing well. So you should be able to do what every normal kid your age does.”

“That’s what I want!” She agreed, enthusiastically.

“That’s the key,” my doctor said, turning towards me.

“What?” I asked, not quite getting it.

“They just want to be normal kids…. That’s why,” he dropped his voice and motioned to the door, “he is out there. And that’s what she…” he smiled at my daughter, “is telling you in here.”

And that was that.

A had gotten her answer, and more.

I went outside, and told my son that he and my daughter could run to the bus by themselves, without their grandmother, since she would just slow them down.

I did not have to say it twice.

In a blink, the kids were off, racing down the hall.

friend as client or client as friend

September 18, 2008

The bell rang and I just thought it was my nanny forgetting her keys again, but no. There before my eyes was a dear friend that I had not seen in months. Later that same week my girlfriend I call Roomie called and had a watershed moment. Not a moment could be found after that, about wanting to get on the first plane to the states, because I missed my room-mate so dearly.

Just when I was feeling lonely because my silly little car had a flat tire and I did not have the strength to turn a lug nut. I waited out side my door for the road service person. While the gentleman fixed my flat tire, along strolls my Irish friend with a big hug and a how are you.  I retort: Fine, what are you doing in my neck of the woods today? She said:Didn’t you remember you have physical therapy. I said yes I just don’t know who is going to show up. She and I had a good laugh, because it was her. She is officially my new physical therapist. She said there was something great about having a friend as a client or was it client as a friend. Either way it was a win win situation for both of us.

I thanked the AAA road service gentleman, and we were on our way to have a good catch up chat  during the treatment and knowing that she gets paid to visit and I have a constant time to see her weekly. It’s a perfect situation. I am so happy I could burst!

Stick to your goals!

September 10, 2008

Do not alter your ambitions to match the ambitions of others. Stick to your goals! Well that was my Horror-scope today, and as I screen through what other mom bloggers are writing about, I ponder if my blog is interesting enough or down right stale.

I hear the school children play baseball in the park below my house and I stop for more than a few moments and enjoy the sounds of cheering children, cheering for their classmates and fellow team members. Then I am really drawn in as if it is the world series, I found myself cheering.

Then it struck me…

This is my goal. Not only do I want to blog about breast cancer, but I also want to cheer for the other players- IE. researcher, docs and specialists and I want to be drawn in enough to find myself cheering for each and every individual on the field of cancer… people like  the children below in the park.

So I am taking the plunge and agreed to read the contract for Trusera. I hope to start cheering /blogging as soon as possible. For those who have be following this process, thanks for your input. I will look out for all the pitfalls that are suggested.