Tag Archive | Stage 3c

Cancer In Many Languages by Morgan (Leisha’s son)

breast cancer 30s thirties 30's stage iiic 3c mastectomy dogs kids family life

This is me with Kevin (our big dog), weenie (our little dog), and puppy (my nanna’s dog) pretending to play xbox with me ¬†ūüôā

This is Morgan, my mom’s son. ¬†Thank you for your comments and nice messages and likes on my last post.

My mom has been sick with infections for a while and is very tired & not feeling well so i thought i would write another post for her.

This time I thought I would write a post so you could see what the word cancer is in languages around the world. ¬†In English, it is CANCER. ¬†Cancer is “a malignant growth or tumor resulting from the division of abnormal cells.”

“Cancerous tumors are malignant, which means they can spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. In addition, as these tumors grow, some cancer cells can break off and travel to distant places in the body through the blood or the lymph system and form new tumors far from the original tumor.”

This is CANCER in other languages:

KANKER

KANCER

ōßŔĄō≥ōĪō∑ōßŔÜ
‘Ĺ‘Ķ’Ď‘≥‘Ķ’Ź‘Ľ’Ü

KHETS’ GETIN

X∆ŹR√á∆ŹNG
–†–ź–ö

RAK

ŗ¶ēŗßćŗ¶Įŗ¶ĺŗ¶®ŗßćŗ¶łŗ¶ĺŗ¶į
KyńĀnsńĀra

RAKA

CÀNCER

KAINSAR

ÁôĆÁóá

RAKOVINA

KRÆFT

KANKER

KANSER

KHANSA

 KANCERO
syöpä
őļőĪŌĀőļőĮőĹőŅŌā
kansè
◊°◊®◊ė◊ü
KRABBAMEIN
AILSE
CANCRO
ÁôĆ
GAN
žēĒ
AM
VńóŇĺys
KREFT
ō≥ōĪō∑ōßŔÜ
RAK
c√Ęncer
—Ä–į–ļ
c√°ncer
ŗĻāŗł£ŗłĄŗł°ŗłįŗĻÄŗł£ŗĻáŗłá
Rokh marńēng
KANZER
ung th∆į
CANSER
umdlavuza


¬†‚̧   ūüôā

There are more lanaguages and more words for cancer but i’m tired and my mom says i have to go to bed! But this should be enough to show you that cancer is such an important and major thing that there’s a word for it in every language. Every part of the world knows about cancer. It’s everywhere! Cancer doesn’t care who you are or where you live or what language you use. It’s a horrible disease!

Thank you for reading my mom’s blog and for supporting her. I know you mean a lot to her. I know she’ll be back and write again when she feels better. Shes been really tired but shes been on a lot of strong antibiotics for 6 or 7 wks now so i hope she’s better enough to write soon.

Thank you! Goodnight! from Morgan

‚̧ ¬† ¬† ūüôā ¬† ¬† ¬† ‚̧ ¬† ¬† ¬†ūüôā ¬† ¬† ¬†‚̧ ¬† ¬† ūüôā

Morgan

breast cancer thirties family 3c dog weiner weenie doxie dachshund 30s

Me, Mom, and Weenie Chillin’

 

Hi my name is Morgan my mom was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer when I was in kindergarten.  As you may know I wrote a post when I was 8. I am now 11 in fifth grade and she has had cancer for about 5 years.  When I look back it tells me my mom is STRONG.(of course I already thought that). She has fought this long and I will always love her in the present and the future.

THANK YOU, MORGAN

 

ūüôā ¬† ‚̧ ¬† ¬†ūüėČ ¬† ¬† ¬†‚̧ ¬† ¬†‚̧ ¬† ‚̧ ¬† ūüôā

**********************************************************************************

I’m Sorry… An Open Letter to My Followers

 

breast cancer thirties 30s 30's lymph node nodes axillary node dissection bilateral mastectomy illness port powerport needle anesthesia lymphedema

Hello Dear Readers,

I can’t believe it has been so long since my last post. ¬†I thought about writing to you. ¬†Every. Day. ¬†I began posts that I never finished. ¬†I had things to tell you. ¬†I took a notebook to my appointments and filled page after page with¬†thoughts meant for you over these long weeks¬†months (gasp!) apart. ¬†But I just couldn’t. ¬†Share them. ¬†Here.

It’s difficult for me to admit that things have been just plain crappy. ¬†I’ve had infection after infection (pneumonia, kidney, cellulitis). ¬†Super antibiotic after super antibiotic. ¬†And I have zero energy. ¬†Just getting out of bed each day has been such a struggle.

I’m beginning to think that if I don’t tell myself repeatedly on a morning that I don’t have a choice, I¬†may not be able¬†do it. ¬†I am no stranger to forcing my body and mind to push on when they are begging me to just rest. ¬†But pleading is being replaced more and more by screaming on the part of my exhausted body and mind. ¬†And sometimes I am met with absolute refusal. ¬†There are times during the day, or especially in the early to late evening, when I am just hit with insurmountable fatigue and I must stop, wherever I am, and lie down.

breast cancer thirties 30s 30's lymph node nodes axillary node dissection bilateral mastectomy illness port powerport needle anesthesia lymphedema

 

This was happening before I was diagnosed. ¬†In the months before I heard the words, “Everything we biopsied was malignant,” I was struck with fatigue like this. ¬†The kind of fatigue that stops you in your tracks. ¬†The kind of fatigue that lets you know that if you don’t find a place to lie down and sleep immediately, your body will find one for you, be it a bench or a chair or a carpet or a patch of grass. ¬†Your body doesn’t care about the where. ¬†It will drop you anywhere.

This happens about once or twice a day now. ¬†It’s usually after I’ve been up and out for appointments, etc. ¬†By the time the kids get home, have dinner, and I help with homework, it has already been creeping up on me. ¬†And then I just hit a wall and cannot do “it” anymore — whatever “it” may be. ¬†Not for another minute. ¬†And I go to the couch, drop down, and cannot move again. ¬†It takes a great deal of cajoling to get my body to take me upstairs for bed. ¬†Brushing my teeth seems an insurmountable task. ¬†I just need to crawl into bed after the exhausting trip up the stairs to my room, and fall asleep.

But it is happening earlier in the day, too. ¬†A few days ago, I went to an appointment in the morning and had to lie down in the car afterward and cancel my afternoon appointment. ¬†And when I finally made it home, I had to lie down and couldn’t move again until the kids came home and I convinced my body that it no longer had the luxury of resting time. ¬†But after dinner, I had to lie down again.

I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, but this is not normal for me. ¬†I can usually push, push, push, until everything is taken care of, everyone is in bed, the day is done. ¬†And then I will lay awake for hours, waiting for sleep to come. ¬†And it eventually will, but sometimes not until the birds are beginning to stir outside and I know that the faint early morning light will soon creep through my velvety merlot curtains. ¬†And just a few hours later, it will be time to get up with the kids and for the school routine to begin before I head out the door myself.

Well, that “normal” is long gone… ¬†This hasn’t been happening for months now. ¬†Now, when I hit that metaphorical wall, I will drift in and out of sleep. ¬†Sometimes just until the dead of night. ¬†Other times it is until the dawn begins to break. ¬†But I just can’t stay awake without a major effort.

I do wake frequently.

I was experiencing night sweats “before.” ¬†During the worst of the chemos. ¬†And then ever since my radical hysterectomy and salpingo-oopherectomy two years ago. ¬†But the hot flashes and night sweats that spiked when I had to have my my surgery¬†two years ago had begun to wane (well, somewhat, anyway — when I say “wane,” what I really mean is slip down to a more manageable number/degree, if there is such a thing) about a year ago.

And now… They’ve ramped up again with a vengeance and have become far more intense and overwhelming than what I had been accustomed to, even when they were at their worst. ¬†They have been even more overwhelming and exhausting in the past six months than they were in the first year without my ovaries. ¬†I am waking about three times a night now just completely drenched. ¬† So much so that I need to change whatever I’m wearing each time. ¬†And it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing. ¬†Flannel head-to-toe pajamas — drenched. ¬†A soft robe — drenched. ¬†A cozy sweatshirt and sweatpants — drenched. ¬†Yoga pants and a light top — drenched. ¬†A thin t-shirt and undies — drenched. ¬†Just the undies — drenched. ¬†It really doesn’t matter. ¬†I will often lay a blanket down in the bed to cover the soaked bedding and to give myself a fresh start for the night. ¬†And then I’ll do this maybe twice more per night after each soaking.

breast cancer thirties 30s 30's lymph node nodes axillary node dissection bilateral mastectomy illness port powerport needle anesthesia lymphedema

I’ve tried everything I can think of to curb the frequency or intensity of the night sweats, but nothing helps.

And then every day I find myself breaking out into cold sweats.  My face is dripping with sweat.  Drops of sweat roll down my legs and arms.  And then I find myself shivering and needing to change my clothes because I am so, so wet.

Sure, this happened before. ¬†To a degree. ¬†Surgical menopause at 35 will do that to you. ¬†Or at least that’s what it did to me. ¬†But this, this is so much worse. ¬†It doesn’t feel normal. ¬†So far from it.

It’s concerning and exhausting, to say the least. ¬†¬†I’m hoping (I think?) this increase in frequency and intensity might have something to do with the fevers I’ve been experiencing on a now regular basis over the past six months? ¬†But then, what is causing the fevers? ¬†Sure, I’ve had lots of infections. ¬†But I’ve been on antibiotics consistently, with breaks of only a couple of days, if at all, between. ¬†So it’s unclear as to whether the fevers are linked to the infections.

Sometimes I’m glad I’m too tired to expend the mental energy to think about it!

Well, this has become more of an explanation post than an apology letter. ¬†But I began intent upon focusing on the apology. ¬†Because I do owe you an apology. ¬†You’ve stood by me, reading, commenting, emailing, or sending messages in some other way. ¬†And I haven’t been the best with the communication. ¬†Okay, I’ve been downright shitty, really. ¬†But it is not because I haven’t thought of you.

It is not because I haven’t appreciated you.

It is not because I haven’t wanted to reach out to you.

It is just because.

I wish I could say or do better than this. ¬†But I will try my best to give you what I can, when I can. ¬†And I sincerely hope you’ll continue to reach out to me as you have been. ¬†Because it has meant so much to me.

Even when it doesn’t seem like it, I am listening. ¬†And I am grateful to know that you’ve thought of me, even if it is just a fleeting thought. ¬† Because sometimes that makes all the difference in the world…

Thank you…

p.s. ¬†Because you know I love to stick photos wherever I can, I’m adding a few pictures that illustrate (at least I think so!) the theme of The Daily Post‘s Weekly Photo Challenge topic for this week. ¬†This week’s challenge asks participants to show readers a “Room” or “Rooms.” ¬†Here are a couple of rooms other than the hospital and Cancer Center rooms above…

DSC01989

The rooms below are from a visit to “Give Kids the World” with my boys’ best friend and his family.

Give Kids The World

B has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and was granted his “wish” by the Make A Wish Foundation and “Give Kids the World” back when he and my twins were in pre-school.

We were fortunate to be able to return to “Give Kids the World” with B and his family recently. ¬†I am good friends with B’s mom. ¬†The boys and B’s brother and sister all get along so well. ¬†And we like B’s dad, too. ¬†So it was wonderful to have some special time with B and his whole family.

DSC01994

These are a few photos from a visit to a series of special rooms on the campus where each child leaves a shiny gold star containing his/her wish behind… ¬†The ceilings were covered with wishes. ¬†What a moving experience.

DSC02002

Okay, off to bed. ¬†Thanks so much for visiting. ¬†I hope life is being kind to you…

My warmest wishes…

 

Silence Isn’t Golden — and — Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside / Little Dog Inside Big Dog

cancer in my thirties breast cancer 30s 30's dog dogs

There have been times in my life when I have agreed with the title of that old song, “Silence is Golden,” by The Four Seasons. ¬†But my silence here has not proven to be one of those times. ¬†As the days following my last post crept to weeks and then to months, I couldn’t believe that so much time had passed. ¬†But I still felt powerless to do much about it.

Call it the result of unrelenting exhaustion. ¬†Call it the result of a muddled mixture of intense pain and a haziness induced by strong opioid painkillers. ¬†Call it an inability to balance new/worsening symptoms with life and its demands. ¬†Call it what you will, but whatever it was, I just wasn’t able to pull myself through “it” to find the energy and space to write to you.

I value our time together. ¬†I value our relationship. ¬†And I didn’t want to just pop in to do a quick, crappy post while I was in the midst of feeling as though I was caught in a tailspin.

YOU: ¬† ¬†“So, is it over? ¬†Are you better? ¬†Is this going to be a terrific post that was well worth the wait?”

ME: ¬† ¬† ¬†“No. ¬†No. ¬†And no.”

YOU: ¬† ¬†“Aw man, I was hoping for something riveting and inspiring.”

ME: ¬† ¬† ¬†“I’m sorry, this post will be neither. ¬†But I figured that if I waited any longer, the gap would just widen and it would be even more difficult to return. ¬†So I am here, for better or worse, with a crappy post just meant to let you know that I have missed you and that I do value our relationship — probably more than you’ll ever know.”

ME: ¬† ¬† ¬†“And, given the nature of some of the emails I’ve received from some of you, I felt that some of you might be wondering if I’d gotten much sicker and perhaps moved on to the great blue yonder. ¬†To be honest, I would wonder the same thing, especially because some of my “virtual” cancer friends (cancer bloggers or online breast cancer community friends) have disappeared in this way when they’ve died. ¬†Silence. ¬†Then, after a few days or weeks or so, a husband or best friend or mom will pop in to say, “Sorry, _______ died last month. ¬†I know she’d want you to know.”

YOU: ¬† ¬†“Well, I didn’t want to say it, but, um, yes, maybe “that” thought crossed my mind. ¬†This is a cancer blog, afterall!”

Okay, all kidding aside, I wanted/needed to say hello. ¬†I wanted you to know that you are still in my thoughts. ¬†I wanted to respond to the kind emails and messages I’ve received.

And I wanted to apologize for such a long silence.

Sure, I’ve felt crappy. ¬†Sure, I’m struggling to manage life and the boys and everything else while feeling so cruddy. ¬†But you’ve come to mean a lot to me and I owe you more than this silence. ¬†Plus, this is a cancer blog, so I should be blogging about feeling crappy and about the ins and outs and ups and downs of this whole experience.

I should.

I know I should.

But I wage this positive vs. negative battle with myself all the time. ¬†In my day-to-day life, I try to be positive and upbeat because this is what is expected of me. ¬†So it is difficult for me to give myself permission to be “Debbie-Downer” in my day-to-day. ¬†And sometimes that cup runneth over to my blog, too. ¬†If you’ve been reading all along you know that this doesn’t happen often — I usually don’t have much trouble “telling it like it is” and spreading some gloom here! — but it does happen sometimes.

I’ll try to elaborate a bit more on how life has been soon. ¬†But for now I wanted to end the silence. ¬†Close the gap. ¬†Get back on the horse.

And I wanted to thank you for sticking by me.

I’d also like to know how you are doing… ¬†During my silence I have not only been a bad blogger, but a lousy blog reader. ¬†But it isn’t because I haven’t thought of you. ¬†In fact, I enjoy reading your blogs far more than I enjoy creating posts for my own, so I’m certain I’ve missed you much more than you’ve missed me! ¬†So if you have a moment, please drop me a line / leave me a comment to let me know how you are — and I promise to pop over to visit your blog soon.

And I will be back soon to fill you in. ¬†Even if I just write crappy one paragraph posts. ¬†I’ll shoot for “quantity vs. quality” rather than the “neither” I’ve been giving you!

p.s. For old times’ sake, I’ll include a few photos that happen to be in line with The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. ¬†Okay, “on purpose” rather than “happen to be.” ¬†But you know how I like pictures! ¬†This week’s challenge topic? ¬†“Inside.” ¬†Participants are asked to photograph “something” inside “something else.” ¬†[There’s more to it than that, but I’ll give you the skinny version in case you are tired, too!]

You know how I love my dogs, so I’m giving you photographs of “Ginger Inside Kevin.” ¬†Or “Little Dog Inside Big Dog,” because I refer to them as “Big” and “Little.”

SONY DSC

Kevin is a Heinz 57 rescue who we brought to live with us after my dogsoulmate, Mattie, my mini schnauzer, died of cancer in 2009. ¬†Ginger was a “Christmas/chemo/mastectomy/more chemo/radiation/and still more treatment gift” my sister gave me after I’d had a bunch of chemo and my bilateral mastectomy, and then was then destined to go through more chemo and radiation and other treatments. ¬†My littlest sister, Laura, thought she would be a wonderful snuggler and that she’d make it easier to get through the difficult days, so she wrapped her up for Christmas… ¬†And what a wonderful gift she was/is.

Well, ever since Ginger/Little’s arrival, she has ruled the roost. ¬†Though significantly smaller than Kevin, she is definitely the alpha. ¬†From the very beginning, she would climb into or onto Kevin and he wouldn’t move a muscle. ¬†To this day, if she climbs into his curled up body, he stays in this position until she is ready to get up — mostly because she’ll bark at him if he moves an inch! ¬†And since they are coincidentally almost identically colored, it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. ¬†Most pictures of the two of them together look as though I’ve snapped a photo of Kevin with a small dog-like growth protruding from his neck or back.

A looong explanation for a few photos!:

breast cancer in thirties 30s 30's dog dogs ginger kevin

Can you find Ginger?

breast cancer thirties 30s 30's

breast cancer thirties 30s 30's dog dogs

Once in a while, Kevin builds up the nerve to *attempt* to knock Little off his chair. He is never successful…

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***Good night and thank you for visiting. ¬†Thank you for helping me through the dark days, even when you don’t know you are doing this…***

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Lone Jellyfish, Candy Apple Redhead, Happy Holidays, and a Weekly Photo Challenge

cancer in my thirties jelly jellyfish tank breast thirties 30s 30's bilateral mastectomy axillary lymph node dissection stage 3

In a tank full of jellyfish, we watched as this lone jelly moved gracefully away from the others

It has been far too long, but I am popping in to wish you all a very happy holiday season.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or warmest wishes for whatever holiday you might celebrate.

The boys and I celebrated a lovely (but exhausting!) Christmas together. ¬†They both made special cards and scoured the house and found items to wrap up and place under the tree. ¬†Picture that scene from one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. ¬†[If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. ¬†My sister and I loved it so much as kids that we watched it more times than I’d care to admit. ¬†As a result, we can recite the script verbatim, complete with accents and inflection, also something I only admit sparingly.] ¬†Aunt Edna arrives at Clark’s house with two gifts. ¬†One box is leaking and the other is meowing. ¬†Old Aunt Edna doesn’t have much money (and is a bit senile) but still wants to give gifts, so she has wrapped up jell-o and her cat.

Thankfully the boys did not giftwrap the dogs this year.  [Yes, they wrapped the little one up last year.  She did NOT like it.]  They gave me chocolates from the cupboard, one of my favorite winter scarves (which was a relief because I thought I had lost it, but it was under the tree the whole time!), and a few other special items they found.

breast cancer thirties 30s 30's thirties kids twins mom motherhood loss art show bird one daily post weekly photo challenge mastectomy

“One of these birds is not like the others”
The photo doesn’t do the vibrant red hue of this red-crested cardinal justice. What a beautiful bird! ¬†[What is a photo of birds doing in this post? ¬†Trust me, there is a reason. ¬†Read on…]

They gave their dad some things we were able to procure together, like a nice Columbia fleece and some of his favorite candy. ¬†They also made homemade ornaments with their photos on them and special cards to accompany their gifts. ¬†And they wrapped up a handheld showerhead we had gotten a few years ago for their bathroom. ¬†Their current cheap showerhead leaks so much that their is minimal water pressure when they shower. ¬†It takes them forever to rinse their hair. ¬†So we acquired the new one from our struggling kitchen and bath supply business. ¬†It’s lower quality than what we normally sell, so we decided to keep it for ourselves and figured it should solve the boys’ bathroom dilemma.

The only problem is that my husband hasn’t installed this unopened self-proclaimed “easy installation” faucet in the three years it has been sitting next to their bathroom door. ¬†You are probably wondering why I haven’t just done it myself. ¬†Believe me, the thought has crossed my mind a thousand times. ¬†But I can’t manage it because I can’t lift my arms over my head thanks to the bilateral mastectomy & axillary lymph node dissection surgeries. ¬†[Of course it would have helped to have continued my intense physical therapy sessions instead of failing to show up one day because I was too tired. ¬†In my defense, I did call them to tell them I would reschedule when I felt better. ¬†That was 2 years ago, though. ¬†Woops!]

The boys thought that if they wrapped up their new showerhead and some of the other home improvement items that have been gathering¬†dust, the jobs would get done. ¬† I even caught them wrapping the curtain rods from their bedroom windows! ¬†I had been really sick for months when we decided to remove the curtains, rods and their anchors so we could paint the boys’ room (ocean colors with freehand waves and plans for ocean creatures). ¬†I had just started the painting when I had to go in for biopsies on both breasts and lymph nodes. The biopsies confirmed the doctor’s cancer diagnosis 24 hours later, and the diagnosis and more biopsies and scans were immediately followed by my first lymph node and powerport implantation surgery and intense chemo until I was ready for the mastectomy and full-blown lymph node removal surgery 5 months later.

Needless to say, I could not reinstall the curtain rods because of the “not being able to raise my arms thing,” so the twins still have no curtains up in their room. ¬†Part of me thought, “good for them for wrapping up their curtain rods!” ¬†But they know their father all too well. ¬†They said they were sure they would have to wrap all of those things up again next year because (I’ll paraphrase, but it was something like this) “Dad doesn’t care about our curtains and showerhead and smoke alarm batteries and blah blah blah… because they are not the internet or a video game.”

breast cancer thirties 30s 30's thirties kids twins mom motherhood loss art show bird one daily post weekly photo challenge mastectomy

I know, I know. You are saying, “WTF, another bird? What does this picture have to do with the holidays?”

We had a quiet Christmas Eve. ¬†I worked on finishing Christmas cards between appointments. ¬†I’d been up until 3 or 4 a.m. for the few nights before, writing personal notes on the cards (and reapplying for health insurance). ¬†I mailed a stack each day for those 3 days. ¬†So when I was finished with my appointments at the hospital, my husband and the boys came to get me and it was a relief to stop at the post office to mail out the last stack of cards.

I was glad to be heading home after a long day. ¬†I was tired and had a lengthy to-do list that had to be finished before Christmas the next day. ¬†But my husband’s bad mood won out and when something set him off, he decided to punish us by parking the car and refusing to take us home or to relinquish the keys. ¬†We sat for over an hour like this. ¬†Luckily, I keep warm blankets in the car (it’s really a minivan) during the winter, so I gave the boys a couple each and they alternated reading and playing DS (handheld Nintendo games), while I worked on the Christmas cards that didn’t need to be mailed and finished my insurance paperwork. ¬†It was 17 degree F and snowing but I dared not challenge him too much because I’ve learned that it isn’t worth it when he is in one of these moods. ¬†And I honestly didn’t think he would keep it up for that long.

We sat until the kids and I couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom. ¬†So the boys and I got out of the car and walked to a nearby grocery store to use their restroom. ¬†When we got back in the car, the boys insisted that we go home. ¬†We were going to Christmas Eve Mass at 7:30 (which they were not looking forward to earlier in the day, but were now begging to go home for) and we were still 30 minutes from home and had to eat dinner and get ready to go. ¬†So he reluctantly drove us home.

We barely made it home to eat, and I didn’t have time to change out of my wet clothes (a byproduct of a day full of hot flashes — a gift from my hysterectomy) and then ended up getting to church late. ¬†For as often as we go to church (not often at all!), I don’t think we should walk in late. ¬†We hadn’t been in weeks and filing in while everyone was seated and the priest was watching us walk in the door was not a good way to return. ¬†But the service was nice. ¬†And we ran into my aunt and uncle (and my cousin and her boyfriend), so that was a good surprise.

Christmas was nice. ¬†I was up until about 4 writing long notes in books and special cards for the boys and helping Santa get things ready (he left notes for the boys and personalized their stockings, etc.). ¬†Comet even left a note and explained how he was sorry for leaving a bit of a mess on the front step — he left some chewed up carrots from the plate we left out for the reindeer and some droppings that looked a lot like raisins that had been soaked in warm water to plump them up. ¬†[Yep, reindeer poop. ¬†Since the kids had been questioning the Santa thing all of a sudden, the big guy had to step the proof of his existence up this year!]

And then the boys were up and ready for Christmas morning at 6:30. ¬†Thanks to the kindness of a family at church who “adopted” us, and to the generosity of the boys’ teachers and school, we had gifts to put under the tree. ¬†There were even gifts for me, including several giant packs of paper towel, toilet paper, Lysol wipes, and laundry detergent. ¬†Such amazing angels who knew exactly what we needed. ¬†Despite the events of the day before (and so many days before it), I couldn’t help but feel thankful for the good people in my life. ¬†Such a stark contrast to my marriage are the relationships I have with other people. ¬†Thank goodness, or I think I would have given up a long time ago.

We rounded out the day by going to my aunt and uncle’s to spend the afternoon with my family. ¬†We hardly ever get to see them, so it was good to be together. ¬†And then we moved on to Christmas dinner and dessert with my husband’s mom and dad. ¬†It was a busy day and we didn’t get home until late, but it was really nice. ¬†And I was glad we were able to have our own little Christmas in the morning and then have time for both sides of the family the rest of the day, so Christmas felt complete. ¬†And I know the boys enjoyed the time spent with family. ¬†They fell asleep on the way home, though they were up again at 6 a.m. to build their new Lego sets!

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Hmm, I was hoping to have this post serve double duty as a photo challenge post, but this week’s challenge topic is “Joy” and I think this post is just not joyful enough to qualify. ¬†So I will improvise. ¬† While I missed The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge for last week, I might as well show you the photos I would have designated for that post.

Titled “One,” the challenge asked that we show:

“photos that focus on one thing. ¬†Maybe you‚Äôve got a stark photo of a single tree silhouetted against the setting sun, or a lone sandpiper wandering the beach as waves crash. ¬†Perhaps you‚Äôve caught your mother sitting by herself in a moment of quiet contemplation. ¬†Maybe you saw a basket of wriggling puppies, and got a photo with a single fuzzy face in focus.”

So now you see why I have a photo of a lone jellyfish and two oddly placed bird photos here.  Thanks for bearing with me!

Here’s one more:

Easter cupcakes pink breast cancer thirties 30s 30's thirties kids twins mom motherhood loss art show bird one daily post weekly photo challenge mastectomy

And I promise to come back with the JOY photos from this week’s challenge. ¬†Full disclosure — I’ll tell you that I’m in a “Tell it like it is” frame of mind so I can’t promise that the text will be overtly joyful. ¬†But I can promise you honesty and I hope that’s good enough!

Until then, thank you for reading and for giving me an opportunity to share my thoughts, light and dark.

My warmest wishes and appreciation for you all…

p.s. ¬†If you would like to participate in The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge, just click here for a list of challenges or here for the¬†current challenge, “Joy.”

The Devil is in the Details…and my Bed

Snapped this photo of a piece at the school district art show.  Not sure if I agree with the sentiment, but the flames are fitting at least!

Snapped this photo of a piece at the school district art show. Not sure if I agree with the sentiment, but the flames are fitting at least!

What’s that old saying, “The devil is in the details?” ¬†That phrase has cycled through my head many times in the past couple of weeks. ¬†Followed by silent conversations about how that’s not the devil’s only hangout.

The week or so before last was, to put it mildly, a week from hell.

The best way for me to explain what I mean is to just tell you what has been happening.

On Saturday, June 29, I asked my husband to come to bed at about 3:30 a.m. ¬†This is around the time when he normally decides go to bed. ¬†He is either on his tablet surfing the Internet or playing video games until the early morning hours. ¬†Every night. ¬†I honestly don’t mind the video games. ¬†I really don’t. ¬†But I don’t have the same feeling about the tablet. ¬†When you are repeatedly told that “this tablet and the Internet are my life,” it makes it hard to see it coming into your bed at 3:30 in the morning when you are not feeling well and would just like to get into bed with your husband at a normal time and feel like there isn’t something more important in there between you.

This night was no different.  Except that when he brought the tablet up and proceeded to get into bed with it, I asked him if we could just have one late night (early morning) without it.

A few seconds before, he had taken the clean socks that were sitting on the bed half folded and shoved them all onto the floor.

As I bent over to pick them up and put them in the basket, I made the “Can we just have one night without it?” comment.

A split second later, I was seeing stars.  He had taken his pillow, and with a significant amount of force, was swinging it back and forth at me, smacking me in the front and back of the head.  The force was enough to knock me down.

My ears were ringing and I was in shock as I stood back up.

He looked at me angrily as he climbed into bed, turned the tablet on and put his headphones on, cursing at me all the while.

I was shaking as I thought, “It’s now or never.” ¬†You see, I had decided a few days before that the next time he hurt me or one of the boys, I would get him out, come hell or high water.

I would have welcomed a flood that night.  But it was hell that came instead.

I have been asking him for as long as I can remember to leave when he flies off the handle. ¬†But he always refuses, stating that it is his” fucking house” and that he is not going anywhere. ¬† We bought the house together after both contributing financially because I had a pretty good job as well. ¬†I worked really hard and had been saving since I was a teenager. ¬†And in the past few years since he has been out of work and we have been running a small business together, it has probably been me who does the lion’s share of the work. ¬†And, honestly, ever since his job loss and my cancer diagnosis, we have been swirling in debt together. ¬†So even he, with his nasty comments, can’t convince me that the house is “his.”

Normally, I beg him to just let me stay in the house with the kids until I die, and to be left in peace with them. ¬† I tell him I will take care of the mortgage. ¬†And then he can have it when I’m gone. ¬†Of course I don’t know how much time this will be, but given the details of my diagnosis, I know it can’t be forever. ¬†So I think it sounds like a good deal for him. ¬†I pay the mortgage and take care of the kids. ¬†And then he gets it all in the end. ¬†And no one has to know about how he’s been treating us.

But he says he would never let this happen. ¬†That he’ll make sure I get nothing. ¬†And he will not leave the house. ¬†If anyone is to go, it will be me who has have to get out of his “fucking house.”

I know he feels he can wait me out and that he’ll get the house in the end anyway when I’m gone. ¬†And I think he believes that the sympathy would end for him if he were to walk out the door. ¬†He knows that no one would think he’s the doting and kind husband he has tried to lead them to believe if he were to leave and people were to know the truth about how he treats a wife who is not well and who has been through more surgeries and cancer treatments, complications and crap than I’d care to recount, even in a cancer blog. ¬†So he has never left before. ¬†Just created a path of destruction. ¬†And I kiss his behind the next day because I just want peace.

But this night I was bound and determined. ¬†I told him that I was done with being treated this way and with having the boys be treated this way. ¬†I said that given what I had been through to just simply stay on this earth, I shouldn’t have to endure so much stress, or to live with the knowledge that the person I married doesn’t think I’m worthy of his kindness. ¬†And that if he didn’t think I deserved at least this much, then he would do us all of a favor if he just left. ¬†I told him I wouldn’t tell anyone what he had done if he just left. ¬†And when nothing worked, I threatened would call the police if he didn’t leave. ¬†He told me to go ahead, not believing that I’d actually do it.

After a couple hours of pure hell, I decided that if I didn’t do it now, I never would. ¬†I told him that if he wasn’t willing to change his behavior, I had no choice but to call and I went for the phone.

He yelled, “If it shuts you the fuck up, I will go.” ¬†He grabbed a bunch of things, including the tablet, and said he was taking the better car and leaving our older minivan with the flat tire and a mountain of problems behind.

He had been swearing at me the entire time and telling me how I was a bad mother and how my kids were going to be ruined by me. ¬†He yelled all of the things that he knew would hurt me, along with plenty of “fucks.”

He said that I would get nothing, save for the ocean of debt we are swimming in.  He would take responsibility for none of it and would make sure I suffered.

And then he went outside to move the cars so he could get out of the driveway. ¬†When he came back in, I started to back down, afraid of what would come next. ¬†He continued to be nasty to me. ¬†So I said that this had started because I made a normal request for the tablet to not come into our bedroom for that night. ¬†And that, like every “night,” it wasn’t really night, but morning, when he was finally ready to get into bed with me.

He began to flip out all over again, shouting that he was the “fucking normal one” and that I had no right to ask him for that. ¬†He told me to “Shut the fuck up” and threw the minivan keys at me and stormed out.

It was 6:00 a.m. when he finally left.

My mother had been staying with us for a few days at that point because she was in transition from her own divorce. ¬†She heard everything from the next room (and from upstairs when we went downstairs), so when he left, she came to see if I was alright. ¬†She said that she had wanted to call the police and had her cell phone in her hand the whole time. ¬†She said she didn’t because she knew I would be upset if she did because she knows how I have tried to protect him over the 20 years I was with him and how I never thought I deserved the kindness plenty of observers over the years said I did. ¬†I always stood by and protected him and his image. ¬†And she knew that I wouldn’t have the heart to turn him over to the police that morning. ¬†But she was appalled by the things she heard him yelling when our boys were just down the short hallway asleep (for part of the time, anyway).

I was sobbing.  And I never sob.

It felt horrible.  I felt horrible.

I was physically sick and just riddled with the fear of what his retaliation would be.  It was awful.  Almost as horrible as learning that I had cancer.

I will add more as I can. ¬†Or maybe not? ¬†I don’t know how much more I can bear. ¬†I gave in and he is back in the house. ¬†He vacillated between intimidating me and promising things would be so much better. ¬†In the end, I couldn’t take the fear of what would come next any longer — I was physically ill — vomiting and shaking — and just felt so completely broken. ¬†Plus I felt that I could give him one more chance. ¬†I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt and despite everything, I wouldn’t have felt right about not giving him another chance when he made it sound like he was sorry and would change. ¬†I have always been loyal to a fault. ¬†[I still see the doctor who told me I was too young for breast cancer and whose office wouldn’t see me the next year when I’d lost my health insurance and was so sick because the cancer had now engulfed my breast.] ¬† I felt like I had to give him another chance, despite what my gut was telling me.

It took a great deal of wrestling for me to share this or anything like it here, but I think telling you is the right decision.

Thank you all for reading and for helping me get through this without even knowing that you were…

National No Bra Day & Breast Cancer Awareness Month — OR — Please Put that Pink Can of Soup Down & Put Your Bra Back On!

My “Where I’ve Been” post is still forthcoming, but in the meantime, I realize that I missed the opportunity to post on “National No Bra Day.”

I am reposting an article I wrote back on the unofficial No Bra Day during Pinktober (October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month). ¬†The “official” fake holiday was actually yesterday, July 9th.

I see that you left a number of lovely comments on my M.I.A. post. ¬†I will respond, but wanted to say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart in the meantime. ¬†I am also looking forward to catching up with your blogs and all I have missed in the past couple of weeks.

My warmest thoughts & thanks are with you all…

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Peter Griffin / Family Guy "What Grinds My Gears" Episode

Peter Griffin / Family Guy “What Grinds My Gears” Episode

I am not a ranter by any means and I have been pretty quiet about “Pinktober” and what has come to be known as “Pinkwashing” in breast cancer circles, but seeing October 13th advertised as “National No Bra Day” and as a “fun” way to support people with breast cancer has pushed me over the edge.

Are you kidding me? ¬†How on earth could a day where girls and women are encouraged to walk around with their nipples poking through their shirts be “supportive” for women who are living with or who have died from breast cancer, or who have managed to ‘complete’ the arduous treatments and disfiguring surgeries required to put them into remission?

I think the answer is simple.  It is not.

Like so many women–and men–who have faced this disease, I have lost my breasts to cancer. ¬†Though I had a terrific surgeon, it was a physically and emotionally disfiguring surgery.

The cancer had gone so deep and was so extensive on my left side that it was at first inoperable.  Even after months of chemo, my surgeon took as much tissue and skin as possible and went deep into my axilla (underarm area).  The cancer had metastasized to my lymph nodes and had invaded them to such a degree that they broke open to allow the cancer cells to go beyond the walls of the nodes.  Because of how invasive the surgery was and of how much nerve damage, etc. resulted, it was not only extremely painful then, but continues to be a source of pain and phantom sensations that affect my entire upper torso even today.

I required over a year of physical therapy just to be able to raise my arms again and I still don’t have full function or range of motion. ¬†And, because of pain, swelling, conspicuous compression sleeves and gloves, I am constantly reminded of the lymphedema that resulted from the surgery and loss of my lymph nodes. ¬†Oh, and the life-threatening infections that forced a couple of hospitalizations and four months of massive doses of antibiotics this summer (almost 2 years after my original surgery), are also a little reminder of some of the things that the bilateral mastectomy and lymph node surgeries have left me with. ¬†And there is so much more…

no-bra-day-july-9th-630x417

So the thought of seeing bra-less women flaunting two body parts that I have lost to cancer — more than I already see this on a regular day — does not feel all that supportive. ¬†In fact, it feels quite the opposite.

I consider myself to be an open-minded person. ¬†I do my best not to judge others or their beliefs and ideals. ¬†I have a pretty good sense of humor and am usually the first to poke fun at myself. ¬†And I make light of breast cancer and my struggles, treatments and their side effects, lack of breasts, fear of death, etc. fairly frequently. ¬†It is how I cope. ¬†But, given what I have been through, I think I have earned the right to joke and make light of how this terrible disease has affected me. ¬†But if you haven’t been there or taken care of someone who has been there, then you should think twice before you publicize a day that jokes about putting the first body parts we usually lose to this disease “out there” on display even more conspicuously and then labeling it as an activity that helps our ’cause’.

We live in a society that makes a huge hoopla about breast cancer while at the very same time trivializing the seriousness of the disease.  How can we be so contradictory?

While I am beyond thrilled that breast cancer is no longer a taboo issue and that people are talking about it, the commercialism has gotten out of hand.  There is nothing pink and rosy about breast cancer, yet it has been pink-washed to death.  It is a serious disease that kills.

And while I do think we need more awareness and education (about metastatic disease, about how young women CAN develop breast cancer, about how women (young and old) DO die from this disease, about the importance of research, etc.), I don’t think we need the kind of awareness that buying a jar of salsa with a pink ribbon on it brings. ¬†While I hardly ever see “awareness” products addressing the topics above, I can’t go anywhere without seeing pink products. ¬†Heck, I just have to look out of my front window to see giant pink garbage totes. ¬†Pink-Cart---cut

The stores are filled with pink as companies try to make a buck off breast cancer. ¬†If you look carefully at these products, you’ll find that some of them don’t even donate a cent to breast cancer awareness, support, research, etc. ¬†And oftentimes those that do make a very minimal donation–and not always to organizations/programs where the money is well spent.

What is most unfortunate is that well-meaning people are willing to buy pink products, even pay a little extra, because they think they are helping to do something to “cure” breast cancer or to provide “hope” to breast cancer patients. ¬†Why is this sad? ¬†Because those dollars spent on pink flowers, pink shirts, or a pink box of crackers or spaghetti sauce could be going to research, our only real “hope” of beating this horrible disease.

So please put your bra back on, put down those pink garbage bags (unless you really like pink that much!), that pink “awareness” pepper spray keychain, and that pink breast cancer “awareness” vibrator and dildo (yes, I’m blushing and yes, these are real things that their merchandisers say will “help you raise breast cancer awareness” — though they are shipped discretely in plain, unmarked boxes so no one knows what you purchased) and send a few dollars to an organization that devotes their fundraising dollars to research. ¬†You just have to do a bit of homework or read the labels on those pink items to see where your money is actually going. ¬†Or, if you don’t like homework, here are a couple of great ones:

StandUp2Cancer.org: Our mission is to fund collaborative, translational cancer research to bring treatments from the bench to the bedside faster, and save lives now.  Since Stand Up To Cancer was founded in May 2008, we have granted $161 Million Dollars to ten Dream Teams of scientists and researchers, one international translational research team and 26 high-risk, high-reward Innovative Research Grants.  100% of public funds go directly into research grants. A portion of the funds that are raised from major donations and third-party fundraising go towards administrative expenses and overhead.

Metavivor.org:  From support groups to funding vital research, our programs sustain the power of hope.  Passionately committed patients ourselves, we rally public attention to the urgent needs of the metastatic breast cancer (MBC) community, help patients find strength through support and purpose, and make EVERY dollar count as we work with researchers to regain longevity with quality of life.

…or consider a group that helps actual cancer patients and their families cope with their illness. ¬†For example:

CancerIsAJerk.org¬† —¬†This is a charity my dear friend jme set up to help families touched by cancer. ¬†You can make a financial donation¬†¬†or¬† if you’d like to have a tangible something to wear to show your support, you can purchase a ‚ÄúCancer Is a Jerk‚ÄĚ t-shirts with all proceeds going to help actual families touched by cancer. ¬†You can also contact jme through the charity if you‚Äôd like to sell shirts as a fundraiser with all proceeds going to benefit cancer family applicants in general¬†OR¬†designate a specific family of your choosing.

And don’t underestimate the value of local organizations. ¬†My local Breast Cancer Coalition is a perfect example. ¬†The Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester‘s mission is to make the eradication of breast cancer a priority through education and advocacy; to empower women and men to participate fully in decisions relating to breast cancer; to provide support to those coping with a breast cancer diagnosis; and to focus research into the causes, prevention, treatment and cure of breast cancer.

Also local for me is The Karen Carson Crane Foundation. ¬†Founded by Karen’s siblings after she died of breast cancer, the mission of the Karen Carson Crane Foundation (“the KCC Foundation”) is to provide support and financial assistance for individuals affected by breast cancer; to encourage breast cancer patients to have the strength, courage and passion to overcome their disease; to support local organizations that assist breast cancer patients; and to donate a portion of its fundraising dollars to organizations that research and promote alternative cancer treatment methods.¬†¬†

There are many other great organizations and groups out there — these are just a few.

And if you can’t help with a financial donation, consider volunteering your time or talents. ¬†Perhaps to local cancer patients — bringing a meal or knitting a chemo cap or scarf, or sending a cozy blanket are examples of ways to show your support. ¬† I remember when a small box of craft supplies was left on my doorstep when I was first going through chemo — what a gift that was — my kids loved it and it kept them occupied for a little while when I was really ill! ¬†Or consider volunteering at a local cancer center or for a local American Cancer Society chapter. ¬†There are many ways to show your support that don’t require $$.

And, of course, don’t forget to go for your regular mammograms and to feel your breasts when you can (and report any changes to your doctor) because doing these things IS important. ¬†It — what I can loosely call a self-breast exam (but really just washing myself in the shower) — is how I found my own lumps, about 17 years before I was due for my first mammogram (according to the recommended screening age back in 2009). ¬†If I had ignored my lumps and waited for that first screening mammogram, I can safely say I would have been long dead! ¬†So please pay attention to your body and your breasts. ¬†While the vast majority of lumps are benign, I still believe it’s always best to bring your breast changes to the attention of your doctor. ¬†Thanks for reading…

I will leave you with a picture that I think is my best advertisement for National No Bra Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

lymph nodes

5 Days Post Bilateral Mastectomy and Complete Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (ALND)

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Side note: ¬†The ACTUAL National No Bra Day is July 9th annually. ¬†Someone had the great idea to do a braless day during October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month — to support “the cause.” ¬†Adding insult to injury, the day they chose — October 13th — is actually the one day out of the whole year designated for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness. ¬†Sadly, I’ve seen far more No Bra Day awareness advertising circulating around the web than I have Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day info.

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