Inspiration Central

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?”

“Yes.”

“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:

Hey Andrea,

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!

Josh

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!

Josh's Energy Gel

Josh’s Energy Gel

Dr. Hong!!!!

Dr. Hong!!!!

PT Gang!

PT Gang!

Physical Therapy

I started physical therapy (PT) today. I put on a makeshift workout outfit (hilarious pic below) and off we went. When I got to the PT place, they actually gave me a special top to wear — it was sort of like a wrap dress top with roomy arm holes and with velcro at both shoulders — in case the therapist needed to get in there and look around? IDK!

So, anyway, I’m there and I’m feeling pretty damn proud of myself. I’ve been doing lots of stretching exercises and I’ve been pushing myself to get my arms higher than 90 degrees.  I figured I was really far along in my recovery and that they’d be super impressed with me. They weren’t — at all. lol

Most of the hour consisted of them massaging my stomach and armpits and shoulders.  The latter part was pretty uncomfortable since I am not even quite two weeks post op. But, boy did it help. They told me the point of massaging all the areas is to wake up my body and get it draining itself properly. Whatever the reason — it’s working!

They made me straighten my arms all the way up (Gaa!) against the wall and lean into the stretch. 30 seconds on each side and then repeat both sides. I swore a lot during that part — but the therapist didn’t seem to mind at all!

Next, we did some neck stretches –which felt AMAZE after all the prior pain! And we ended the session with some sort of electro-stimulating massage pads. They slapped two on my shoulders and two on my lower back and then I just laid down and got massaged (its sort of like the nail salon massage chair but WAAAAY better).

I can get used to this — and I’d better because they want to see me three times a week! Apparantely I am really tight (Shit — I truly thought I was going to impress the pants off of them! Oh well!)

I really like my PT person, her name is Julie Wong and she herself is a cancer survivor — so I feel a kinship with her — she really knows what I’m feeling and knows how hard she can/can’t push me. So I am all in!

The most surprising thing about PT is that it knocked me on my ass. I got home and slept for 2 1/2 hours! If I have to do this 3 times a week — looks like there will be a lot of sleeping going on in the Sieminski household!!!!

No, but on a serious note, if you are having a double mast you should FOR SURE do PT. My insurance happens to cover an unlimited number of sessions, which is great. I hear that some insurance companies only cover 6-8 sessions –so be it. Use all of those 6-8 sessions. You will be so thankful for it. I can tell that PT will be the key to my recovery (and pot will be the key to my surviving chemo — did anybody else see this week’s episode of Parenthood? I mean, can I get an amen on the pot front? Thank goodness I’ve already gotten my medical marijuana card!)

Alrighty, it’s dinner time over here so I have to run. tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Mybrother and sister-in-law land in a few hours — I can’t wait to see them. We are going to have some fun over the next few days! YAY!

What are you thankful for this year? I know I’m thankful for SO many things this year — but I’ll do a separate post on that later. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving to you all — gobble, gobble!

xoxo

Makeshift PT Outfit