Turn, Turn, Turn

Today is Janet’s birthday. I ‘ll celebrate her by carrying on her memory and life’s mission. She wanted more, much more, for folks living and dying of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

Just last week Paul and I were on a kinder open house tour – and I saw a lady with a beanie on. Clearly no hair underneath (this wasn’t for fashion or style – this was chemo). I made a point to join her tour group so that I could talk with her and let her know I’m in her tribe. I was ready to flash my freshly revised port scar and all! As I approached her from behind, she turned around and faced me, I was taken aback, it was my friend Julie (was it a badge of honor that I knew the cancer lady on the school tour? Ugh, I dunno, maybe?…probably not, I’ve lost all sense of perspective at this point).

Julie is living with metastatic disease. She’s my age (ish) and has a daughter Nora’s age. Her life is very different from mine, yet exactly the same. She’s a mom. She’s going on kindergarten tours. She’s trying to figure out the lottery system for her child — same as me. BUT, she has to do all this planning wondering how long she’ll be on this earth – will she be here to watch her child go to kinder? 1st? 2nd? 3rd? You get the point. I want to scream, kick and shout for her.

So then, we continue on with the tour. Paul and I trying to picture our kid(s) at the school, marveling at the dance studio and art room – but I couldn’t stop putting myself in Julie’s shoes. The pit in her stomach as she walked the halls wondering how long she’d get to see her child grow and learn.

It’s GD heart wrenching. I hate it. I hated stealing glances at her on the tour knowing exactly what she was thinking. I wanted to scream like both of my toddlers do every.single.day. THIS IS NOT FAIR. ITS NOT FAIR. SHE’S BEING CHEATED. HER FAMILY IS BEING ROBBED.

All I can say is stage 4 needs more. It’s not just a cute hashtag. Please please please do what you can. No matter how little, because it matters. If you’re able, donate HERE.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

 

IRL

 

You are exposed. And unconscious. And it must be difficult to trust. I honor you, Dear One.

My job is to help your surgeon take away the cancer. I get a bird’s eye view of the process. The surgery begins and I feel your warm skin through my gloves. I wonder what stories you already have and the ones that are yet to come.

We carefully remove your breast. It never gets easy to see or to do. You must know this. It never feels natural, it never feels cavalier. It feels sacred to me. Every. Single. Time.

Julie posted this amazing article from a nurse in the OR during a mastectomy. It feels appropriate to re-post in celebration of all of us who have undergone this trauma. Breast cancer is not the easy cancer. We are cut up, amputated, re-amputated, disfigured, chemo’d, radiated and on and on and on. Some of us die. Some of us live. Whatever the outcome, the disease is forever seared into us, our bodies and our loved ones.

It’s a really hard road to walk. I’m forever grateful for my community of amazing BAYS folks who hold me up (and who I try my very best to return the favor to). NONE of this is cosmetic. NONE of us elect to do this.

This article is a beautiful tribute to all of us who have had to chop or slice our boobs and/or breast tissue off and deal with the aftermath. I don’t want to speak for all of us, but my chest is forever changed, Not in a good way.

I’ll post more about my surgery and recovery in the coming days. I find it easier to talk about when I have some distance — so bear with me!

For all my new non-cancer friends, NOPE. Saying crap like “oh you’re so lucky, you got a boob job” or “you get a new new rack” is SUPER OFFENSIVE – please just bite your tongue and stick to “I’m holding space for you”  or “sending you love and light” or “I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, how can I support you?” – those are the most non offensive things you can say – BUT pah-lease don’t say shit about “how lucky I am to get boob job” (sic), for the love of christ. It’s super ignorant. So sad that 7 years in I’m still dealing with these IGNORANT comments. UGH. BLECH. BARF.

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10.11.18 – 6 years later.

6 years later. It seems long, but not distant. Does that make sense? The pain memory has faded, but the muscle memory holds it all. Strange, isn’t it?

6 years later and I find myself in another conference room. On this particular morning, I don’t receive a call from Dr. Huo (thank God!), instead, this conference room is where I busily work away at my new job as a People Partner at a cool company, working with, and supporting, really smart and motivated people. I feel really happy on this particular 10.11.

4 weeks ago I started a new chapter and went back to work. The adjustment hasn’t been that bad. Paul’s been a great support and has taken on a lot more kiddo duty so that I can ramp up. I really love working and I think I’m doing a good job keeping it all in perspective and maintaining balance in my life between the kids, the hubs and self care time. That said, I’m only 4 weeks in, so the train has plenty of time to come off the tracks!

In all seriousness though, things are good, really good. Life seems to have reset itself. This will never be something that I forget, that I don’t think about often. In fact, I continue to take cancer booty calls from PAMF on a regular basis. But, it’s sort of become woven into my fabric. My close friend circle is filled with so many BAYS pals. The lines are all blurred and I love that. I love it. It’s who I am now, and I kinda dig the new me.

This is what 6 years later looks like for me – a full head of hair – lots of chaos – never a perfect family photo – and most importantly, crazy fun with Paul, the kiddos and Maisey, Maise…..

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STATS:
6 years
1 amazing hubs
1 amazing Maisey dog (whose namesake is now pretty well known – Maisey Hirono)
2 beautiful, amazing kiddos
1 amazing new job!…..

 

Gender Reveal

Paul and I wanted to do something special to remember the exact moment we learned whether we were having a baby boy or girl.

So we made a gender reveal video. Hope it brings a smile to your face.

For those of you unfamiliar with gender reveals — we asked our doctor to leave us a voicemail with the gender. I then drove to the bakery and they listened to the message and the baker filled the cupcakes accordingly.  Very hipster/yuppy, I realize. But we didn’t think we’d ever get pregnant so we’re fully embracing all the cheesy stuff along the way!

Oh Baby!

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Well, after a long 4.5 year fertility battle, with a bout of cancer thrown in for giggles, I’m so thrilled to let you all know that I’M PREGNANT!

Baby girl Sieminski is expected to arrive on January 3, 2015!

As a long time infertile, I wasn’t sure this day would ever come. I have to pinch myself every day to be sure I’m not dreaming. Paul and I are beyond happy and excited. We feel like the “pause” button on our lives has finally been un-clicked.  We’re no longer in a giant holding pattern! Woo hoo!

In other news, Maisey is quite excited about this latest development (she just has a funny way of showing it!):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cancer Booty Call

Uh huh. You read that right. The Cancer Booty Call. It really exists.

When I was first diagnosed, so many friends and family rallied around me, did their own research and scoured their social networks.  Many of you sent me private notes offering to introduce me to your mother, aunt, co-worker, or a friend similarly situated to me.  I read and re-read all of your offers and had to decide for myself if I wanted to reach out to a total stranger to talk about what was about to happen to me.

In the end, I took two of you up on your offers (thank you Bess and Katie). I ultimately decided that the people you were going to introduce me to were not really “strangers”, rather, they were just like me — and they’d already weathered the storm — so why not take their advice? They must’ve done something right, right?!!!

I placed those outgoing calls and am ever grateful I did.  Being able to talk to somebody who’d “been there, done that” helped give me perspective. Helped me to understand what was about to  happen. Helped me mentally prepare. Helped me realize that I will live and life will go on. They were living proof of that.

At this point, I’ve been on the receiving end of many a cancer booty call from you and/or your friends, moms, aunts, sisters, coworkers and college friends.  It saddens me to think how many of these calls I’ve had with you and your loved ones — cancer is just so stupid… and mean… and everywhere.  But, nothing makes me feel better, as a person and as a survivor, than to help your loved ones as they begin their own cancer battle.

It makes me happy to think that I am now the person that weathered the storm — someone out there weighs the pros and cons of talking to me, a quasi-stranger, and decides to go for it. I know it’s not an easy decision, or one that’s arrived at without much consideration. Just know that those of us on the receiving end of this particular booty call are flattered and happy to help in any way we can.

PS. My check-up with Garrett went well. My white blood cell count was elevated so I had to behave myself on our cross country flight to Andrew and Katherine’s wedding (and at the wedding itself). I don’t have my tumor marker results yet, so nothing to report on that front. Other than that, we talked a lot about the fact that my left implant (cancer and sentinel node removal side) pocket is stretching and my implant is sort of floating out toward my arm pit — leaving rippling and ribs exposed around my fake cleavage. I’ll have to talk to my plastic surgeon and physical therapist in greater detail about this as it’s not G’s forte. In the meantime, I’ve started wearing sports bras to try and keep the damn thing from drifting any further out of the pocket.

It’s that time again

I go to see Garrett for my three month check-up today. It seems like a lifetime ago that I sat in his office after having backslid a lot in my recovery.

Since that time in December, I’ve really gotten my act together. Completed the Mark Hyman 6 week cleanse (and continue to live by most of the tenets of the cleanse). Lost 14 pounds.  Rebuilt my stamina and endurance at the gym.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a ways to go. For example, I’m currently clocking an 18 minute mile. lol. But that’s a hell of a lot better than before. And my heart doesn’t race anymore. So I’m winning in my book!

Hopefully my tumor markers will come back in range and I’ll continue with this new, wonderful life of NED.

In other news, I recently came across this picture of me from my senior year in high school (check out those eyebrows!)

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I’m guessing that if I didn’t get chemo curls, my hair would be approaching that length by now. But alas, I got the curls — and am embracing them!

Happy Easter to you!

Happy Easter to you!

 

 

 

My Legacy

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything of substance.  I’ve not had much to say these days — so I went back into my archives and found this draft post — from October 21, 2013.  I’ve not edited it at all. I figured it was best to just post it — grammar/spelling warts and all. So here goes………….
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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my legacy.

Legacy is defined as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past”.

For me, as you most of you know, at this point, it’s very unlikely that I’ll have my own biological children. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve struggled with infertility and then cancer struck. After aggressive chemo nuked my entire body, including my ovaries, there’s little possibility that I can use my own eggs for a pregnancy. Hell, I’m still technically in menopause and have no clue if I’ll ever get my period back (TMI? Don’t read this blog then!).

But, all of that said, I still think about my legacy.  When Paul and I were picking our egg donor, her family health history was very important to us. We looked for red flags, like cancer, heart disease, metal instability etc. Obviously, you don’t WANT any of that if you can avoid it. Thankfully, our donor and her family, on paper, lacked those “bad” traits. Though I’m no dummy, that shit can hit her family tomorrow. I’m living proof of that.

Now, that the dust has settled with my own treatment, I realize that my own family will have to grapple with my diagnosis as it relates to themselves and their own families.  My thoughts immediately go to my brother Bob’s daughters.  Will my darling nieces have to get the BRCA gene test? Since I was BRCA negative, will that test and it’s results even be meaningful if they do have it? Will Bob and Sarah worry every day about their daughters’ susceptibility to cancer given that their paternal aunt got it?

I also think about my maternal cousins; but I’m less worried about them as they’re grown women who can make sound decisions for themselves. What about my first cousins’ children? I realize that’s a bit far removed, but I still think about it.

Finally, we all know that breast cancer doesn’t only impact women – men can get it too. For some reason, I feel cavalier on this front. I feel sure that no men in my family will be impacted. But that’s probably stupid of me. So to my brothers and my male cousins — FEEL YOUR BOOBIES. Sorry, it is what it is.

Ugh. I’ve been so busy thinking about me and getting through this ordeal. I didn’t stop to think what sort of reality and worry my DX may have wrought on my family and extended family.

My only hope is that this starts and ends with me. That my body simply went haywire and that’s the end of it.

Geez, reality does bite.

Comfortably Numb Indeed

One of the joys of my new post bi-lateral mastectomy body, is that I have very limited feeling/sensation in my chest.

What, exactly, does that mean, you might be wondering. Well, when I hug you, I can feel pressure on my chest, but I’m not sure how much is too much — so I just hug away, blissfully unaware that I’m making you uncomfortable.  I can feel a seat  belt pulled across my chest. But I can’t, for the most part, feel my clothes on top of my foobs.

That last one is the kicker.  I was out running errands earlier today and was wearing a silk blouse:

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Cute egh? Not so much. Unbeknownst to me, the top button of my blouse came undone — in the middle of Trader Joes — and I didn’t feel it — so it was unbuttoned for a LONG time.  Free show everybody.

When one of your senses is taken away, your others are heightened — or at least that’s what I’m told.  Here’s hoping my sense of reading other peoples faces and reactions to my half nude body in the produce section becomes finely tuned very soon….

Up the Academy

The newest Sieminski family member misbehaved big time on Monday — so we shipped her off to doggy boot camp.  Maisey’s displaying a little bit of dog and people aggression — sadly for me, I’m the person she chose to get aggressive with 😦  Not ones to ever F around, we sought help immediately.

Maisey will be living with our fabulous dog trainers Biggs & Twiggs Dog Rehabilitation and Training for two weeks. Antoine and Valerie will work with her on manners, obedience, leash walking and socialization with other dogs. It’s been 5 days since she left the house, and Valerie sends us nightly update texts with pictures and videos. Maisey’s catching on quickly, but still has more to learn.

On a serious note, Maisey is a big, strong puppy.  When she got aggressive with me, it was scary, I’m not gonna lie. Post-mastectomy, I just don’t have the upper body strength to show dominance over this baby beast. But Valerie and Antoine are the best of the best.  They said she’s just a cute, puppy who’s been spoiled up until now. She’s never been disciplined and just needs to know what the boundaries are.  Thankfully, they both believe she is fully trainable and that this issue can be overcome.

So, for now, our crazy Maisey is in reform school. I miss her adorable face…..
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