Tag Archive | pink

Pinktober

005

Well, we’ve almost made it to the end of October which is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I’ve yet to write anything about my struggles, my journey or my on-going dance with cancer.  Perhaps today it’s time to update from a survivor who was diagnosed on New Year’s Eve of 2001.

I’ve spoken to many people, sharing my story when I thought it would help and connecting with them when I knew they needed someone to simply understand the devastation that we feel when life turns upside down.  I’ve been a Reach to Recovery Volunteer, helping those who want to find a new normal and who are looking for a way out of the labyrinth of grief which many times surrounds us when we are hit with a cancer diagnosis.  For everything changes in our lives when cancer hits.  Life, relationships and health all change and we suffer until we can find our equilibrium.  We grieve, we mourn and we endure what we previously thought unthinkable.  We can stagnate in that pool of darkness or we can reach out for the light.  As a survivor for so many years, I try to be an inspiration and to shine my heartlight so that others can find theirs and begin to move on in their lives.  I know it’s not easy, for I have been there, done that and still struggle with the aftermath of cancer.  It seems I am never fully out of its grasp as it rears its ugly head in my life from time to time as a pointed jab and a reminder that life is a gift and everyday we must be grateful for this moment in time.

With breast cancer in particular, we suffer the indignities of losing our outward signs of femininity (breasts, hair (chemo)) and many times our ovaries which help keep our feminine hormones going.  Sometimes we can even lose touch with ourselves as we struggle to come to grips with a body which many times in clothing looks good, but in our birthday suits, is riddled with train track-like scars and missing pieces.  It takes a strong woman to get up every morning and to continue to strive to be the best person she can be when her heart is breaking.  I admire those women who can be vulnerable and yet be strong, who can laugh, but still cry, who can feel even when her body is numbed by surgery or can remain peaceful while hearing careless comments from those who say they love them.

We all have a story to tell when it comes to surviving breast cancer.  Each of our personal stories is a bit different, but the fundamental grief and subsequent healing of body, mind and soul are similar.  Today’s post I dedicate to those friends and family who have gone before me, those who are presently enduring breast cancer and to those, like me, who are still here, somewhere in purgatory, never quite released from its icy grip, but still hopeful that it never quite fully returns.

Shine On!

xo

Pink Post Gratitude to Lisa Boncheck Adams

Every person has a story. So, too, does each chair.

IMG_7739There is comfort in routine.

Some people are superstitious. Sometimes they want the same chemo nurse, the same appointment time, the same chair. “If it is working don’t mess with it” applies to many things about treating cancer.

I am always thinking about continuity and the stories that objects tell. I’ve written twice about the tape measure my plastic surgeon used to measure me before surgery. I’ll post those pieces again this month.

Whenever I sit in a chair in a doctor’s office I think about all of the people who have sat in that chair before I have.

Each person has a story. So, too, does each chair. That chair is the starting point for this piece from 2011.

………………………….

“I think so too”

That chair you’re sitting in?
I’ve sat in it too.
In waiting rooms. Chemo rooms. Prep rooms. For tests. Surgeries. Procedures. Radiation. Inpatient. Outpatient. Emergency visits. Routine visits. Urgent visits. To see generalists. Specialists. Surgeons. Alone. With friends. With family members. As a new patient. Established patient. Good news. Bad news. I’ve left with new scars. Prescriptions. Appointments. Words of wisdom. Theories. Guesses. Opinions. Statistics. Charts. Plans. Tests. Words of assurance. More bloodwork. Nothing new. Nothing gained. Nothing but a bill.

That feeling you’re having?
I’ve had it too.
Shock. Disbelief. Denial. Grief. Anger. Frustration. Numbness. Sadness. Resignation. Confusion. Consternation. Curiosity. Determination. Dread. Anxiety. Guilt. Regret. Loss. Pain. Emptiness. Embarrassment. Shame. Loneliness.

That day you’re dreading?
I’ve dreaded it too.
The first time you speak the words, “I have cancer.” The first time you hear “Mommy has cancer.” Anniversary day. Chemo day. Surgery day. PET scan day. Decision day. Baldness day. The day the options run out.

Those reactions you’re getting?
I’ve had them too.
Stares. Questions. Pity. Blank looks. Insensitivity. Jaw-dropping comments. Tears. Avoidance.

Those side effects you dread?
I’ve dreaded them too.
Nausea. Vomiting. Pain. Broken bones. Weakened heart. Baldness. Hair loss. Everywhere. Unrelenting runny nose. Fatigue. Depression. Hot flashes. Insomnia. Night sweats. Migraines. Loss of appetite. Loss of libido. Loss of breasts. Phantom pain. Infection. Fluid accumulation. Bone pain. Neuropathy. Numbness. Joint pain. Taste changes. Weight gain. Weight loss. Mouth sores. Fevers. Anemia.

That embarrassment you’re feeling?
I’ve felt it too.
Buying a swimsuit. Getting a tight-fitting shirt stuck on my body in the dressing room. Having a child say “You don’t have any eyebrows, do you?” Asking the grocery line folks to “make the bags light, please.” Wearing a scarf. Day after day. Wondering about wearing a wig because it’s windy outside and it might not stay on. Holding on to the bannister for dear life. Passing out in public.

That fear you’re suppressing?
I’ve squelched it too.
Will this kill me? When? How bad is chemo going to be? How am I going to manage 3 kids and get through it? Will my cancer come back and take me away from my life? Will it make the quality of life I have left so bad I won’t want to be here anymore? Is this pain in my back a recurrence? Do I need to call a doctor? What is worse: the disease or the treatment?

That day you’re yearning for?
I’ve celebrated it too.
“Your counts are good” day. “Your x-ray is clear” day. “Now you can go longer between appointments” day. “See you in a year” day. First-sign-of-hair day. First-day-without-covering-your-head day. First taste of food day. First Monday chemo-isn’t-in-the-calendar day. Expanders-out, implants-in day. First walk-without-being-tired day. First game-of-catch-with-the-kids day. First day out for lunch with friends day. First haircut day. “Hey, I went a whole day without thinking about cancer” day. “Someone asked me how I’m doing, I said ‘fine’ and I meant it” day.

That hope you have?

I have it too:
More research. Easier access. Targeted therapy. Effective treatments. Better quality of life. More options. Longer life. Less toxicity. Fewer guesses.

Ultimately, someday, for my children or grandchildren perhaps: a cure.

Don’t you think that would be amazing?
I think so too.

** I am so moved by Lisa’s story and this post that I had to share ~ thanks for reading.  I think it makes no difference whether you are fighting breast cancer like we have or any other illness.  We can bond together to heal…that’s the most important piece of the puzzle.

Shine On!

xo

Pink Post ~ Breast Cancer Implant Pain

27632_

So it’s another Pink Post today ~ perhaps because I”m facing yet another surgery next month that I feel that this is pertinent today ~ or perhaps because I’ve been shopping for a bathing suit which is a challenge to most women, but to a woman who’s lost her breasts, it’s especially difficult.  Being pasty white due to the still winter season here makes the imperfections stand out in that lonely dressing room mirror ~ don’t you think?  I mean, even if you’re just a regular gal, it’s daunting to bathing suit shop at any time.

It is hard to accept the new normal when dealing with the physical changes that breast cancer brings to your life.  If you’ve had breast cancer,  you know that there are restrictions in the top area of a suit.  No underwire and sometimes we need a bit of oomph in that area ~ ok, who am I kidding, we always need a bit of oomph there!  If you’ve endured a mastectomy (single or bilateral), you may require prosthetics or perhaps you’ve had reconstruction or perhaps you’ve opted for neither.  Either way, if you’re bathing suit shopping, it’s a hassle.

I had implants ~ I endured surgeries for 2 sets of silicone ~ one in 2002 when the only option was the flat, round type which we jokingly referred to as stripper boobs and the second in 2007 which again were silicone, but these were billed as the fancy shmancy tear-drop shaped, gummie bear implants which were to give a girl that hershey kiss natural look!  Oh la la!

Well, bottom line for me was that my body disliked any implants and twisted them up inside of my breasts so that I endured terrible pain 24/7.  In fact, it wasn’t until 2012 when I had to have them removed because one ruptured and leaked that I realized the amount of pain that I’d accepted as my new normal.  But like the butterfly which transforms from the egg, to the caterpillar, to the pupa and finally to the beautiful butterfly ~ it’s how I feel about my breast cancer journey.  11 years ago, my breasts were removed to save my life ~ implants were used to make me look normal ~ and unfortunately, they twisted and turned inside me until one ruptured ~ and now I’ve transformed again ~ using my own skin and flesh to make real warm breasts from my own body ~ which won’t twist, rupture or be rejected!  It’s amazing to me now to be pretty much pain free without my implants.

Even more amazing to me is that I have breasts again…I’ve come full circle.  11 years later, my body is mangled, scarred and numb in many places, but I have breasts again ~ squishy, fleshy, warm breasts.  If you’ve been on the breast cancer journey, you’ll understand the mind-blowing significance of my statement and of the life changing moment to which I’m referring.  I have breasts, healthy breasts again.  This morning I feel that in my soul and in my body for the first time.  I feel like a butterfly.

There are strange things happening in my body which I find so interesting too.  I’m growing hair!  Yes, I know, it sounds strange to be excited for this fact, but it’s true.  I am excited because even my hair dresser thinks that my hair is growing back!  I lost all of my hair with chemotherapy and when it returned, it returned as 85% grey (so lovely at age 35) and very thin!  Not that I didn’t have fine hair when it fell out, but it came in even finer upon its return.  Lately though, my hair feels and looks thicker and I believe that it’s due to the fact that I no longer sport silicone implants.  Now I”m not saying this against them, I’m just telling you what’s going on with me.

I’ve endured 3 surgeries in the past year which were required to remove the leaking silicone implants and actually make breasts from my own body tissues.  It’s been grueling to say the least and at times, I wondered to myself if all of the pain and suffering that I endured in 2012 was worth it.

Well, I’m here to tell you that YES IT WAS!  For the first time in 11 years, I am trying on bathing suits without hard implants for breasts and it’s a glorious feeling!  For the first time in years, the body temperature of my breasts isn’t 5 degrees colder than the rest of my body!  Now when I hug others, I can actually feel them and there’s not 2 hard lumps between us.  It’s wonderful, it’s exciting and it’s almost like a rebirth!

To think that modern medicine has come so far as to be able to do this makes me weep with gratitude.  Now if we could just eradicate breast cancer in it’s entirety ~ that’s my wish ~ eradicate all cancers!  I still have another surgery for this year to continue this progression, but I can tell you one thing for sure ~ DON’T GIVE UP!   And Lands End has a bunch of mastectomy friendly suits!

Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Christina Ahn!

Big hugs!

Shine On!

xo

Miss America’s Mastectomy?

http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2013/01/11/16463704-miss-america-contestant-gets-hate-mail-over-mastectomy-plans?lite

Dear Miss District of Columbia,

You don’t know me, but when I saw the article on you yesterday, I just knew I had to write to you.  Please accept my deepest sympathies as I am so sad that you lost your mom, your grandmother and your great-aunt to breast cancer.  My heart goes out to you for the difficult decisions you have to contemplate at the tender age of 24 in order to reduce your risk of enduring breast cancer.  As an 11 year breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at age 34, I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this decision is for you.  My heart goes out to you.

Although my story is different from yours, I wanted to share in hopes of letting you know that there are those of us who understand.  My journey began with a lumpectomy.  Originally I had wanted a bilateral mastectomy instead of the lumpectomy, but my surgeon denied my request, citing his philosophy to save the breasts and keep them intact.   However, when the pathology results revealed there was further breast cancer invasion to the lymph nodes and outer margins, I was scheduled for a second surgery which was to remove only the cancerous breast.  And that’s when I started listening to myself ~ just like you are doing now!

I called my surgeon back and scheduled a double mastectomy even though nobody agreed with me, least of all my surgeon.  But I know me, and as I began listening to me, I  knew in my heart that it was ME who was going to inhabit my body, day in and night out and it was my comfort level which had to have first priority.  There were shady calcifications in the other breast which to me, would eventually lead to breast cancer again, so I wanted that out of the equation in my life!

It’s been a rocky road for me with the reconstructions, but I have never once regretted my decision to take both of my breasts and I can happily tell you that I feel that I am here because I really listened to myself.  I think our bodies know what we need to do and it is just a matter of our listening to our own bodies which helps to heal and not hinder our lives.

I am very proud of you for listening to yourself and to your body and for having the courage to stand up and speak about it.  Please don’t let anyone else’s opinion sway you because it is YOU who has to live in your body everyday and it will be your healing or your fight in the end and nobody else’s.   It is not easy to live without your breasts and it is a painful decision to make ~ however, I stand firmly beside you ~ for it is YOUR rightful decision to make and no one else’s.  Surely your mom, your grandmother and your great aunt proudly applaud your courage as do the rest of us.

I love your quote, ““I’ve been thinking how powerful that might be to have a Miss America say, ‘I might be Miss America but I’m still going to have surgery. I’m going to take control of my own life, my own health care,’ ” she said. “So I guess it’s up to what happens on Saturday night.”

May you continue to be a shining example of  light, of hope  and of taking control of your own life,

your own healthcare to the millions of women and men in the world!

Shine On Miss District of Columbia!

Long May You Reign!

xo

100 Posts ~ Gratitude Goal!

Thank You!

Today celebrates my 100th post on my blog and I want to begin by thanking all of my readers.  I started this blog to reach out to others, to inspire, to be of service and to spread the knowledge I’ve gained through my life experiences.  Using cards as my springboard, I’ve tried to bring an inspiring message to you with every post.

I’ve had a bit of time to think lately as I’ve been recuperating and I’ve come up with a goal that I am hoping you might want to participate in.  I’ve been talking a lot about gratitude these days and I’ve got a lot to be grateful for in my life…and I’ve a lot of people to be grateful for in my life.  I’ve written a ton of thank you notes recently as many people have come to the aid of my family and me by bringing dinner over, sending flowers, sending little gifts in the mail, sending prayer cards and even just sending ‘thinking of you’ cards which have brightened my every day.  Truly I am blessed.  I loved getting that unexpected card in the mail among the bills and junk mail.  My eyes lit up every time someone brought me an envelope with my name on it because to me, it was like a little piece of Heaven…you thought of me enough to pick out a card, write a heartfelt message, address, stamp and mail it to me so that I could have something special to open…how fantastic is that!

There are many books out now, like The Magic, which reiterate that we should be grateful, be cognizant of the blessings we have already and as you concentrate on those multitude of blessings that you already have, more come your way.  I agree with counting your blessings and living a life of gratitude.  I’ve kept a gratitude journal a la Oprah which has helped to keep my positivity in check…and has grown my blessings and miracles enormously.

But I’m finding that I want to do more, globally and reach out to others with that gratitude.  A smile, a polite thank you in our daily lives to those who show us kindnesses is one way to show gratitude, but what if we were to take it a step further and say it…say thank you with a card…a heartfelt message to someone to whom you are grateful?  Imagine the amazing benefits to you and to the recipient if you were to write a heartfelt message of gratitude to a friend and the priceless feelings it would give that person when they opened a special card from you saying thank you.

Maya Angelou wrote,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

My goal is to send a heartfelt card a day to someone whom I am grateful for ~ I’m going to do it for 30 days ~ a card a day.   I will post my journey each day so that you come along with me.  I’d love for you to join me as my goal is to get 100 people to send a card a day for 30 days.  Imagine what we could do by sending out love & gratitude  everyday for 30 days to 30 different people?  Imagine the impact it would make on our little world…of course, my mind races with what if’s…what if 1000 people did it for 30 days and so on…

If you’re interested in joining me, let me know…it’ll cost about $1 a day, you can do it from you computer and you may even change your life…what if we started a movement of gratitude?  A wave of gratitude which knows no bounds…

Join me on this journey…let’s change the world, one card at a time…

Thank you for reading my blog…I am grateful to all of you!

xo

Before the Miracle…

Don’t Leave Before the Miracle…

Stick around. It could be 2 days or 40 days

before change occurs in you. Everyone is different.

So I was telling you about my miracle and before I do go into my surgical retreat for about a week, I thought I’d stay on this topic of Miracles.  For me, everyday is miraculous and I am so grateful for all of the blessings that I’ve enjoyed in my life that I figure I can count everyday as a Miracle.

Beyond that, there’s a sense of incredulity that comes with having this series of serendipitous moments for the past few weeks and I find that instead of doubting how in the world they’ve manifested, I’ve not even had that thought ~ I’ve only gone with the flow and felt that momentum of joy that seems to come bubbling up inside of me every time  I stop to be thankful.  I feel like I have the magic touch inside of me and I only continue to wish myself and others well.  Not that I didn’t do that before, because I did!  But now it seems that as I bravely walk through my day, my day lines up before me as if someone rolled out the red carpet.

Honestly, I have been frustrated, in pain and saddened like so many others who have endured this breast cancer journey and I wanted to tell my story so that others know that it’s only a matter of time before your Miracle arrives.  Mine took awhile, but I am so blessed, so grateful that is has come, that all time has ceased to be important.

What is important is what has always been important to me…Love and my loving family.

We’ve all heard concentrate on the good and it grows…

So concentrate on Miracles…no need to plan how or when they will arrive…

Miracles arrive and that’s all you need to know.

Don’t Leave Before Your Miracle…

It’s coming!

xo

Versatile Blogger Award ~ Thank you!!

I am so honored to be given The Versatile Blogger Award!  Please join me as I smile and lift a champagne flute to toast to all of you in thanks for reading my blog and for even thinking of me (especially you Jo!)  And, so…playing by the rules like a good girl, I will…

If you accept the Versatile Blogger award, it is requested that you:

1.  Thank the rockstar who nominated you and post a link to their blog in your post.

2.  Tell 7 random things about yourself.

3.  Nominate 7 other fabulously versatile bloggers.

For Jo ~ my MoJo ROCKSTAR!  I am so excited to tell you about Momentum of Joy who nominated me.  Jo, you are so kind and caring…I just love the posts that you have written and I love your comments as well.  I feel like we are kindred writers who enjoy what we do!  Your posts make me feel like we are friends simply gabbing about life over coffee!  You inspire me and I love your truthfulness and the manner in which you write.  Thank you for your nomination and for thinking of me.  I am truly grateful and humbled.

Find your Mojo on Twitter @MoJoy98 and enjoy her incredible blog posts at http://momentumofjoy.wordpress.com

7 Hmmms about ME:

1.  I’ve started and stopped writing 3 books so far.  It seems like I excel at randomly writing blog posts instead of keeping focused on one train of events at a time!

2.  I love being a connector of people ~ it’s my passion, my job and I’m my own boss!   I love my life!

3.  I have experienced that feeling of KNOWING so much lately and I am humbled & blessed to feel that I am vibrating on such a positive path, surrounded by angels.

4.  I am so bad with directions that I could get lost in a paper bag!  Ha!

5.  I used to live in Spain ~ I feel like it’s my second home.

6.  We have 2 cats because I believe in the healing power of ‘fur therapy!’

7.  I am blessed with my amazing family, my friends and loved ones…and I am so truly grateful to have my blog read by all of you.   Thank you for taking time out of your busy days to read my posts!

7 SUPERB BLOGGERS

1.  http://autismmommy.wordpress.com ~ The first blog I ever started following 2 years ago, written by my childhood friend who continues to inspire me and so many others with her determination, her wisdom, her life and her beautiful family.   Thank you for always striving for more in every way…your momentum is moving mountains!

2. http://positivelifetransitions.wordpress.com ~ You give me sound advice, enthusiastic support and a vast array of connections which make my life richer.  I love that we’ve reconnected!

3. http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com  ~ My favorite place of inspiration for adding adventures to my Bucket List!  Life is to be LIVED ~ and the Bucket List is always being refilled here!  Contests included!

4. http://goalhabits.com/~ Your daily quote is something I look forward to every  day.  I like that I can click on any of your many categories and enjoy quotes for whatever theme I choose!

5. http://www.feelgoodtribe.com/ ~ Everyday is something new and different to spice up my health!  Such a great variety of feel good, eat better and all around enjoy life!  Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

6.  http://lifecarrots.wordpress.com/ ~ A great blog to follow, thoughtful quotes delivered almost daily to your inbox and an uplifting book series on the horizon!  Short stories ~ positive outcomes ~ from real people!

7. http://perksofcancer.wordpress.com/ and  http://mainelyhopeful.wordpress.com/ ~ Journeys through breast cancer ~ we’ve connected through BC in remarkable ways!  Yet another ‘perk of cancer’ as we remain ‘mainely hopeful’ to continue to survive, to inspire and to carry on!

I hope you enjoy my  bloggers above and check them out!  What a wonderful opportunity to learn new things, to expand our knowledge and experiences and best of all ~ to CONNECT!

Please enjoy connecting with me via my blog misifusa.wordpress.com

facebook  The Presents of Presence

Twitter @Misifusa1

www.sendoutcards.com/126830

xo