So THIS is what it's all about?

A strange gift indeed: My life beyond breast cancer...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year Intentions and "One Good Thing"


2017 is going to be a good year!

Say it is so and it will be!

"One Good Thing" is a concept where you write down something each day that goes well or is great about your day...I don't think I can maintain that level of commitment, so I am going to do this at least monthly. I am asking my friends to join me in doing this as well (please feel free to add your input in the comments when the 'One Good Thing' monthly post is up). We will do this all year and revisit them at the end of the year...or earlier if need be. This exercise should help us maintain focus on positivity and well-being.

New Year's Resolutions: I am not a big fan or a believer in creating resolutions which are unattainable or unreasonable. Several years ago, I read something suggesting one should resolve to 'say please and thank you more,' 'enjoy nature more,' 'make more home cooked meals...' and the like. The gist was to make it positive: what you WANT vs. what you do not want (i.e. no resolutions to 'stop smoking' because it is about NOT doing something instead of doing something in instead of that, the resolution would become, "I will be good/better to my body this year," or "I will improve the health of my lungs...") The intention set is positive and attainable even with small steps instead of setting yourself up for failure.

This being said, I have some resolutions for myself I will share:

In 2017, I would like to:
Learn more about the periodic table of elements and world geography (not just because it would help me at Trivia Night, but because I dig learning)...these are two areas I would like to brush up on some information!

Finish up some projects around my house! My house is in a fairly perpetual state of remodeling/updating, and I have let some sit for a while. I would like to see some of these projects completed this year. Primarily, the office/library should be completed, and the master bathroom shower deserves some attention! One thing for sure that "has" to be done is the darn roof...that is going to be replaced in March.
Travel; I would really like to make it to Oregon to see my friends Kev & Cheri (and their adorable munchkins). I would also like to continue traveling locally to see and learn more about the area I live in...

Some of my wonderful friends gathered with me tonight for dinner, and they shared some of their intentions for the upcoming year:

NL would like to:
Learn the Spanish language
Obtain employment after graduating with a Master's Degree

Complete a baby blanket project in progress
Adopt a more healthy lifestyle
Travel to Knoxville, Tennessee

SM would like to:
Learn more about their partner
Travel more
Help a particular friend
Visit Maine

IO would like to:

Learn about Ireland
Save money
Visit St. Augustine, Florida

CF would like to:

Learn to play the harmonica

TL would like to:
Learn the Spanish language
Locate an appropriate program with housing for a family member

Go to Ocala, Florida and go ziplining there
Purchase a new truck for their partner

KG would like to:
Create a piece of mosaic art

We send these intentions into the night and into the new year!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Long Strange Trip...a gift indeed

Three years ago today, I began feeling the effects of my first chemo "therapy." It takes very little for me to summon the corporeal memory...I recall that strange, thick fog and heat. Tonight, I ran with Trip for quite a distance (for us.) I was exquisitely aware of the beauty in our abilities and movement. Completely present in our moment--and grateful. A strange gift indeed...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fight Breast Cancer with G-BOMBS

Fight Breast Cancer with G-BOMBS

Great Article on foods that ramp up the immune system. Greens; Beans; Onions; Mushrooms; Berries and Seeds!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

homeless visitors...

Such a good, funny, recycled (not homeless) life... When I go to the dog park, or even take the boys for walks, I don't feel the need to get dressed up. In fact, my friend Sandi's husband says I look a bit like a homeless person when I am out with my dogs. This point I cannot argue, but I have to say I would look like a well-fed homeless person... A little over a month ago, I decided to get an adult tricycle. Why? I exercise nightly, and the boys each get a decent 2-3 mile walk just about every night. For some variety, I felt the bike would be a good thing for the boys and me. Hell, the walking is tearing up my knees...and if I was feeling lazy, they could just pull me, right? Oh, and why a TRIKE as opposed to a BIKE? Well, my balance is fine, but add in anxious Mr. Sarge, and I could just see myself splayed out in the road, half-dead, from some accident caused by a bunny rabbit. This clearly would be a better way to die than some deaths; however, I am not quite ready. Another thing you should know about adult tricycles. These are not the huge-front-wheeled contraptions from the early 1900s you may be picturing. There is quite a market for these things in Florida. Yes, they are often used by older folks. The seats are called saddles...they are oversized and quite comfy. My saddle holds my entire ass, and this is no easy feat (ask my pants.) Also, homeless Florida folks seem to like trikes, as they have nifty baskets on the back. Apparently, the large baskets are perfect for collecting cans to haul to the recyclers. Indeed, it is not unusual to see well-worn humans riding well-ridden tricycles up and down residential streets on recycleable-collection days. I found my tricycle on Craigslist. It was $80, was owned by a very small old Cuban man, and it needed tires, tubes, brakes, etc. Of COURSE I bought it! After trying my mad (and non-existent) bicycle repair/maintenance skills, I took it to a real and locally-owned bike shop (ABC Bicycles in St. Pete). They took my poor, sad looking trike and dressed her up with new tires, tubes, handlebar grips, brake lines...fixed the brakes...Mind you, she still is a wee bit sad looking--even with the awesome LED lights I got for her (required by law, thank you.) Her former owner added an oversized metal basket to the sticks out too far in the back, as it was clearly not originally intended to be a trike basket. It fits and it works though...I figured if I wore out the dogs, I could easily have one of them ride in the back in the basket. This basket has been spray-painted white; however, this was done many moons ago. The rust has about 30% coverage. Additionally, someone spray painted the handlebar assembly a solid, flat black. This does not match the rest of the bike. The rest of the bike is blue and silver steel. Oh! And there are 3 different wheels...and since it would have taken a two-week wait to get all matching tires, she has meaty, off-road tires on the back and a smoother "road" tire on the front. My trike has ghetto character. After the time and money I have spent on this thing...yes, I could have had a brand new, shiny trike...and most people who know me well will tell you I prefer character over common (or even downright "new.") Tonight, Trip and I ventured out for our evening trike ride and run. I donned my faded tie-dye t-shirt, cut off grey sweatpant shorts and brown tennis shoes. My friend Michelle is working weekend nights at Busch Gardens, so we've been visiting her dog Luna--who may be feeling somewhat lonely while her hu-mom is working. I parked the trike out in front of Michelle's garage door and decided to take Luna for a walk with Trip. So, we walked around for a while...until both of the dogs started sniffing more than walking. On our way back to the house, I noticed a large truck parked in the street, just blocking Michelle's driveway. I thought, hmmmm...what a jerk for parking there. Then I realized there was someone in that thar pickup. He was holding up his phone until he noticed me walking up toward the driveway with the dogs. I smiled when I noticed a human in the large truck, and said, "Hello there!" He responded, "That's my sister's dog," as if not quite sure how to deciper his current situation. I realized this was Michelle's brother (whose name I always forget), so I identified myself as Tory and told him I was visiting Luna since Michelle was at Busch. He said he had just gotten off work and was checking on his sister's place...he then asked if that was my bike in the driveway. I claimed it. He then cautiously told me he thought it might belong to a homeless person, and that he was wondering why there was a homeless person at his sister's house. I just laughed...and looked down at myself and laughed some more.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Catch up time; closing out 2010...profound changes

Wow, so someone pointed out to me that I had not updated my blog since August (gasp!) I think it was during August (my birthday month), that I began to detatch myself somewhat from the identity of "breast cancer patient/survivor." I had my first test results...they were negative for signs of cancer, and I was nearing the end of over a year of treatment. Honestly, I remember just trying to forget about cancer and all I had been through because of it. I wanted to be "normal" again (whatever the hell that is exactly). The funny thing is, major illness or extreme life events change you good ways, bad ways, whatever--however you allow them to alter you they do. I am forever a different person because of what I have experienced. I hope, and I believe, I am a better person.

September and October were strange months for me. I was dealing with the fact that I was to begin shifting "roles." Soon, I would no longer be "on treatment;" someone who went to the Cancer doc to get meds (Herceptin) injected every 3 weeks. Normally, the loss of a role causes some sort of grieving. How strange that I struggled to determine how to cope. My last treatment, in mid-October, was without fanfare. I think that if I were to do it over, I would choose to make it more of a "big deal." I did celebrate with friends later on, but I think that it was a bigger transition than I let it be outwardly. I think it would have helped me ease into the "survivor role" a bit better than the way I chose to handle it at the time. Nonetheless, I stumbled into the survivor role with all of the gusto and might that I have put into most other life situations/events. I even signed up for the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure. I participated as a survivor in early October with my friend Karina. My sister, Becky, was there to cheer us on.

My thoughts on the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure: I was stunned and overwhelmed--both horribly sad and encouraged that people were participating in such numbers. I fought tears and enjoyed goosebumps during most of the event. There were thousands of people! I wore my bright fuschia shirt that said "Survivor." I HATED seeing all of the little handmade signs people wore saying they were participating "In Memory of..." The man with the two small children who walked in memory of his wife, the childrens' mother; I almost could not walk any more. Karina, my friend who walked with me, may not realize that if she was not there I would have just sat down in the road and cried. I participated "In Celebration of" ME (I wrote ME on the sign.) There were others who did the same for themselves. I had to stop looking for "In Celebration of" signs...I saw too many "In Memory of" signs. Thinking back now, I can feel the overwhelming emotions I felt that morning. Oddly, I will have to think hard about whether or not I can devote the mental and emotional energy to participate in an event like that again. I more than likely will participate again, but I know there is a toll associated with it.

November and December were very difficult months for me emotionally. I struggled hard to stop thinking about everything that had happened the year before. Not that everything I was thinking about was 'bad,' but I played into the "anniversary" thoughts and was swimming in some dark feelings I suppose I needed to work through. And now, "all fixed up," I felt I was left dealing with the aftermath (this new role) without much guidance, or any idea for that matter, on how to be a cancer survivor. Ultimately, I realized that was up to me to decide. Is that who I am or a piece of who I am? How important to me is it to have that as part of my identity? Should I do something more with this experience? Would someone please write a guide on how to act now? In fact, I'd like a guideline on that and how to treat other people who have been through such experiences. Not that I am good at following guidelines or anything, but some idea would be helpful. Frankly, I was a bit lost. I am not so sure I have completely gotten past that stage either.

Closing out 2010: I am profoundly altered: more intense and passionate about life (humanity, love, friendships, relationships in general, feeling...) I think I have learned to focus more on what is really important.

And I still analyze things far too deeply!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My First Post-Treatment PET Scan---I am free from cancer!

Well, yesterday, I received the results of my first post-treatment PET Scan. After doing my best to not worry all weekend (the scan was last week, on Thursday), I started to freak out sometime around noon on Monday. I have had ongoing issues with getting the Dr. to call me whenever test results come in, and I was not about to let this one slide.

I kept calling...10AM, no results yet; 12:00 PM, will have Dr. call me ASAP; 1:30 PM, the Dr. will call me (then I cried and begged...I told them that they just do not call me back, I really did cry) I was having a panic attack at this point (no fun, considering I was at work!!!)

Then, Nellie (Dr. Wright's assistant) called me. NO CANCER detected in my bones, liver, lungs, brain, chest...etc.!!!  Then, I cried in relief.

My thyroid lit up the test again (and NO, I am not going to let them tinker with that again--we will just assume it is fine); and the Sinus Infection I have been dealing with showed up (they do want me to follow up with an ENT (Ear Nose Throat) Specialist to have my sinuses checked out (not for cancer, but for abcesses, etc.)


So grateful and relieved!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wow, it has been a while!

Wow! I just realized how long it has been since I have written...
I met with my doc this morning...I had not seen Dr. Wright in a few months, as he has been in a different location on Thursdays (I've met with his assistant, Nellie in his absence). He told me he was sruprised I looked so well...ah, he always makes me feel good!
I am happy that I have lost more weight since my last visit three weeks ago...a few more pounds off. Seems like the weight is coming off so slowly. Oh well, I am doing as much as I can, eating better and exercising. Ugh, ready for my pre-chemo pants to fit again!!!
So, Dr. Wright and I discussed quite a few things:
Protein Marker Results: Doc said this is kind of like testing for smoke from a possible fire. There was no smoke detected in the last test...Yay! Today, they drew blood to test more directly for "fire..." the results will be back in a day or so.
PET Scan: will be in mid-June. He is looking at the research I provided him re: the Whole Body MRI research (found that MRI may be just as good at detecting cancer tumours as PET/CT Scans without subjecting the recipient to the radiation of a PET Scan.) I am still a bit leery from the MRI issue I had with the Breast Scans back in August of last year--I feel like it missed much of the cancer/what was going on...we will see how I feel about this moving forward. Maybe I would insist the results be read by more than one person...
Swelling on the right side of my chest: Dr. Wright looked at the swelling and indicated he did not feel like I needed to follow up with Dr. Cox.
Recent Research discussion:
1) Baby Aspirin: I told him I have been taking 81 mg/day based on the recent research showing that there was some reduction in cancer recurrence rates by taking it. He gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up and said that the research showed that taking it 5 days a week instead of 7 was shown to be more beneficial. Strange...okay, so I will take it Monday through Friday. Hmmm... this seems to have something to do with reducing the amount of inflammation in the body as a whole. Can't hurt I suppose.
2) Inositol/IP-6: he has no issues with my taking this...there is some research being done on this.
3) Sulforaphane (Broccoli Extract): I gave him the synopsis of the research and he said I could take it with no problem. I think I will order some from the Internet, as I have had some difficulty finding it in my local stores. Strange that more health-food stores do not carry this...there is so much research that has been done on the health benefits of Broccoli on a number of types of cancer. Some recent research shows that sulforaphane may shrink cancer cells or eradicate them.'s Broccoli. I can't eat enough of it, so if it comes in pill form, what the hey?

Basically, the doc is fine with my taking supplements and vitamins. Good deal!

So, I did get my Herceptin treatment today. It really does make me feel a bit funky afterward. Hm...oh well, that is what naps are for!