Can you believe I’m 9 months old? Time flies! I’m speed crawling and pulling myself up on everything. I love hanging with my dog Maisey, she’s my best friend. I started a music with friends class and I LOVE it. Mommy got my ears pierced for me, I think I look adorable. Sadly, I still don’t have any teeth – so purees continue to be my jam. I’m starting to branch out a bit and expand my palate. I love spinach and potatoes AND lentils with rice (pureed, of course). I experiment with cantaloupe, strawberries, cucumbers, hummus, avocado and watermelon — but I don’t always like the feel of bits of food on my tongue. It gives me the shivers!
Now that I’m 8 months old, I can crawl like a champ. I’ve even started pulling myself up on things.
I still don’t have any teeth, so purees are my jam. I hate anything that isn’t pureed – it’s driving my mom nuts!
Morning snuggles and licks from Maisey!
Well, it’s been awhile since my last inspiration post. No time like the present!
On the eve of my final chemo, I wanted to share with you a note that was, and is particularly near and dear to my heart. It comes from Tracey S. Yes, the same Tracey who buzzed her hair off when I started chemo. As you will see, she gave me some amazing advice early on.
Whenever I feel exhausted from smiling, reassuring and comforting other people about my illness (yes, this actually happens WAY more often than I care to admit and, yes, it’s F’ing exhausting — just as an aside, if this blog teaches you nothing else, please learn that it is not cool to cry in front of your friend who has cancer b/c you feel so sad for her. I promise you, that is not helpful in the least. It’s happened to me a number of times and it does annoy me to have to comfort you. I have only so much energy and it’s got to be spent fighting this cancer, not holding your hand! OK the aside is done now!), beat down by insurance or stressed about the minutia — I hear Tracey in my head, telling me (with her southern drawl that I adore!) to live my life like nobody’s lookin’! So that’s what I try to do.
October 19, 2012:
Wow. Read your blog today and unexpectedly started sobbing like a baby when I got to the part about Sya. I think that is her name. Like body shaking sobs. Completely shocked myself as I tend to stand outside my body and be practical observer of all things. Including myself. I think we may be much the same in that way. I feel you all the way down here in TX and you are always on my mind. I almost died once when I was about your same age and I will tell you the story some day. Mine was different than yours as I was told immediately that I could die at any moment by every doctor and nurse I came across and this went on for a while. I even had an ICU nurse yell at me once because she didn’t think I was taking my impending death seriously enough and I thought fuck you, I can do whatever I want because I am about to die:) Everyone else around me (except my husband) fell apart and I spent my time trying to make everyone else feel better. It was a bit exhausting. So I think I feel a bit what you may be feeling. The shitty thing is that this is happening to you but also a good thing can come of it. I do what I want now without worrying about how “they” will feel about it. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean in things that won’t hurt other people, I get to decide what my life looks like. The other thing is I have no real fear of death anymore which allows me to really live. Like feeling complete and utter joy when simple things happen like the weather is great, the food is awesome, silly jokes that make you belly laugh and the gratefulness that I have my husband as my partner on this journey. It makes me happy that you will most likely feel the same way when it is all over:)
PS. I just cracked open a bottle of good red right now and am drinking with you!
Tracey, I thank you so very much for reaching out to me so many months ago, and for continuing to check in on me regularly. I hope that you know that this email helped define me during the past 8 months, and it will continue to for the rest of my life! I no longer fear dying, and that, alone has changed me (I hope in a good way!). I also feel alive in a different way than I ever have before. You helped me to see that life is worth living and that going through the motions isn’t good enough when you’ve gone through something like breast cancer. Thank you for opening the door to allow me to work through all of this heavy stuff without being scared. I love you! xoxox
It’s been awhile since I’ve done and inspiration post. The below came to me from a fellow Buffalonian and law school friend, Kim. I love knowing that we have girl power and that we all have each others backs, without question or hesitation, when life takes an unexpected turn:
October 17, 2012: Just read your latest post — you are an amazing, strong, smart, passionate woman and I know that whatever comes, you will take it on, battling a step at a time, charging on through to the other side. So much GOOD waits for you on the other side. I’ve been thinking of you every day, and sending prayers to the Universe.
I appreciate your posts, too, because I am learning so much — about this process, about IVF (something that, at this point, I am assuming will be part of my life). I will be right there with you as an “old mom”. Here’s to swapping new baby stories at our Duke Law 25th. Or, fuck it — our 30th!
Last month, my husband left me. Apparently marriage doesn’t suit him. I moved out of our house last weekend, and am trying to re-vision what my future might be, how it will look. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we never can know what’s going to come our way — good things or bad things. But, I have faith that life plays out to balance. Good things will come.
Kim, you are so strong and poised. I’m in awe of you. Thank you for reaching out, sharing your story and continuing to check in on me all these months later. Good things will come!
As I’ve mentioned countless times before, all of your messages — via in person, snail mail, phone, text, Facebook, IM etc, are doing wonders at keeping our spirits up! Thank you from the bottom of my heart — your notes fill me up and keep me going. Please keep ’em coming — it truly is my fuel.
If I have to be totally honest with you — you all get see the best side of me. I only sit down to blog when I’m feeling well, good and happy. I obviously have my shitty days where I’m in a lot of pain that is indescribable unless you’ve been there. So, I don’t want anyone out there to think cancer is a breeze. Nah, I just blog when all is good and try to keep it positive, because having a bad attitude won’t get me anywhere (though Paul has seen plenty of my bad; nee, sad, hurt, exasperated side late, late at night — those are the witching hours for me. Things get really tough and my body gets really tight overnight — which is no fun at all).
So I have two fun stories for you today, the first is from PT and the second is a story from a colleague and friend.
The first story took place at PT today. I met a woman who was lucky enough to dodge not only the chemo bullet but also the Tamoxofin bullet (WTF? lucky duck!). I found myself feeling a little bit angry toward her (in a sort of — ‘you didn’t really have cancer then lady’ sort of way. How fucked up is that, I ask you?) — then I quickly got myself under control!
She said a few things that made me really, really proud. When we started talking she asked how far along I was. I replied “I’m 4 weeks post op and just had my second spacer fill yesterday.” Then I was ushered off to start doing weight lifting (which is a HUGE graduation up from resistance bands, BTW — they already moved me to 2 pound weights! yippie!) OK, so back to the story, when asked if I could lie on my stomach to work with the weights, I said “No way — I can barely lie on my side with these spacers, no way can I be on my stomach.”
My new friend overheard this conversation and interjected, “I hate to tell you, but it will be that way the entire time you have spacers in.” Little did I know that she’d already had her permanent implants put in and didn’t have to suffer through chemo with spacers in the entire time — like I will have to — we are talking 4 to 6 months, thanks for rubbing it in lady! So, again, I got a little bit mad at her when I found all this information out. But, compassion kicked in very quickly because she is having some complications with her permanent implants which cannot be fun.
Again, I digress, sorry. OK, point of the story was — a few minutes later, she looked at me and said:
“Wait — you are only 4 weeks post op of a double mastectomy?”
“Holy crap — I rented a barca lounger (sp? you would think someone who grew up in Buffalo would know how to spell barca lounger, but amazingly, I do not!) and lived in that thing for literally months after my surgery. I cannot believe all that you are able to do so quickly and only 4 weeks out, wow.”
YAY ANDREA! And, hate to admit it, YAY mom and dad and Paul for pushing me in those early days (I was very skeptical of them when they made me go for a daily walk, I am not going to lie to you!). YAY PAMF for telling me to get my ass into PT two weeks post-op — not every practice encourages that. And, last but not least, YAY Dr. Hong for also pushing me and assuring me that I can’t possibly break anything — so it was OK to be as active as humanly possible!
The inspiration/revelation point here for me is that I think I really am doing well! Despite the pain and constant ache-y reminders that I have cancer — I think I just may come out of this after all! YIPPY!
PS — I got a picture with Dr. Hong and my PT gang to share with you all! I’ll attach them at the very bottom of this post.
The second story comes from a colleague and friend, Josh Roberts. Josh and I both work for Stella & Dot Home Office. He works in the UK and is essentially my counterpart across the pond (though he wears many more hats than I do!). So we worked fairly closely before I went out on leave. Greatest thing about Josh is that I told him I did a semester abroad in London and that I fell in love with Digestive Biscuits during that time — so after that, he’d always send me and my team some DB’s. He’d either do it in person when he came to the US for a work trip or force others who went to the UK from the San Bruno Home Office to bring them home to us (lol) — he even got our SVP of Ops to ferry us some biscuits and gummies! hahahaha! Awesome! Thank you Josh & Tom!
A week or so ago I got the following Facebook message and picture (see pics below) from Josh and it literally brought me to tears. I asked his permission to re-print it on my blog and he said yes. So here goes:
How are you doing? I’ve been thinking of you… and reading your awesome blog. So glad that you’re making good progress and they managed to catch it early.
I’m currently in Cozumel, Mexico ready to race Ironman Cozumel tomorrow. In case you didn’t know – an Ironman race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run (yeah, crazy I know)… I wanted to share one of my race tactics with you since you feature in it…
The 26.2 marathon at the end is always where I need to dig deep and think of some positive and happy thoughts – and this race I decided to write down a few things that will make me smile no matter how painful the run feels, and stick them to my energy gels which I will have on my fuel belt, taking one every 25 mins for the 3.5-4 hrs that I will be running.
I think I’m going to save yours until mile 18 – which is always a tough point.
Keep kicking cancer’s ass and get better soon! Should be in San Bruno early 2013, so we should catch up!
I mean? For real? Are there any words after a message like that? And that is only ONE example of the amazingly generous, kind and loving things people have reached out and said to me. If you would like to read about Josh’s Ironman experience, check out his blog write-up at: http://www.triathloneurope.com/index.php/eng/Blog/Josh-Roberts/Ironman-Cozumel-2012
Also, I’ve included below pictures of Dr. Hong and I, the PT gang and I and Josh’s energy gel pack. Enjoy peeps! I don’t know why some of the pics are HUGE and others aren’t — I’ll have to talk to husband about that and get the WordPress team on it stat! lol!