6 Month Check-Up

I had my 6 month post chemo check up with my oncologist earlier today. While I don’t have my tumor marker number back yet, all of my other blood work looks good!!!

During my physical exam, Garrett could tell that my body has started to tighten up a lot.  Everything on my upper body (and I mean *everything*) has been hurting me lately.  From my forearm muscles, to my shoulder muscles, armpits, chest, implants, ribs, sternum and spine — all of it’s sore and uncomfortable.  In general, my daily existence consists of constant, low grade, nagging pain.

G said I have a decent amount of scar tissue that’s developed and he can tell that my body just isn’t humming at the moment.  I wasn’t all too surprised to hear this — he just confirmed what I’ve been feeling.

Enter the game plan to turn all this pain around. Never in a million years did I think I’d be saying this. So, drum roll please…..

Thanks to Natalie’s (my nutritionist at Garrett’s office) urging, Paul and I have decided to go on a 6 week cleanse after the holidays. The tenets of the cleanse come from Dr. Mark Hyman and his ultrawellness philosophy. Natalie has been trying to get me to do this for 6 months. I was super resistant at first, but now that I’m as fat as I’ve ever been in my life — now that my body aches and I’m sluggish as all giddy up –I’m ready to give myself over to this.  I’m hoping it will change the way Paul and I eat forever, but we’ll see.

In the short-term, this is going to be very challenging for both of us. Announcing it on the blog will hold us accountable! I’ll chronicle our adventures for you once we start!

I’m looking forward to the day that we can look back and proudly proclaim that we pushed our bodies to do this cleanse. It’s really going to be a lot of mind over matter for me.  In a nutshell, here’s what you can’t consume for 6 weeks:

No sugar
No alcohol (gasp!)
No fried foods
No dairy (double gasp!)
No gluten
No caffeine
No peanuts or pistachios
No processed foods

So what CAN you eat? Well, lots of things — all the veggies and greens you can think of, tubers, lean (organic) protein, rice, quinoa, berries and nuts (besides the ones listed above).

We told Garrett that we plan to do the cleanse together in the new year. He was pretty psyched for us (though I think he felt a little sad that Paul has to do it with me in solidarity — at one point Garrett asked if bacon was allowed during the cleanse? lol. NOT HELPFUL FOR MY CAUSE G!).

Anyway — after my physical exam where he could tell I’m wound really tightly again, Garrett said that I really need to get serious about cardio. He encouraged me to start at 20 mins a day during the first 2 weeks on the cleanse, then increase to 30 for the second to weeks and 40 for the last 2 weeks. He’s hoping that I maintain the 40 from there on out.

In an effort to help me stay serious about all of this, he said he’d support me by paying for a weekly massage (through his foundation) with Lisa during the cleanse.  Mind you, this massage won’t be a “treat/special occasion” massage. It’ll be Lisa and I working to open up all my muscles and lymphatic system.

I mean — do I have the best oncologist in the world or what? Thank you Garrett, Natalie, Lisa and Paul. Here’s hoping 2014 will find me healthy, relaxed, pain-free and SKINNY 🙂

Meanwhile, Buffalo, NY look out. Paul and I are headed to you for Xmas and plan to eat the s**t out of you while we’re there. Becuase the cleanse starts after our trip 🙂 Pierogi city here we come! yay!

Dust off the Cobwebs

Hello friends. It’s been a long while since we last visited!  Sorry for the major hiatus.

Returning to work has been good. It’s been a pretty smooth transition, I have to say. I was extremely worried about going back — but am amazed at how respectful everybody has been about my part-time schedule.

I never, in a million years, thought I’d say this — but practicing law again has been, well, downright rewarding and fulfilling.  Utilizing that skill set and pushing myself intellectually – has been great.  It’s so funny how losing a year to cancer can make you re-evaluate everything.  It’s also funny to me how practicing law feels so right at this point in my life. I like the fact that it’s so structured and rule-based.  I take comfort in that — and, it doesn’t hurt that I was on the business side of Stella & Dot pre-cancer, and fundamentally understand how the company works/operates. So applying legal concepts to the business comes naturally to me.

The absolute hardest thing about going back to work has been the fact that I have to remind myself that it’s 2013.  I keep thinking it’s 2012 (from a business perspective as well) — but then need to remind myself that the past year has been a black hole for me — and that the company has grown a ton since I was last there.

Let me qualify that last statement, remembering what year it is, is not the absolute hardest thing about returning to work.  Rather, it’s the physical and mental endurance piece that’s been the hardest.  After three days (Mon-Wed) in the office, I literally need two days (Thur-Fri) to lay in bed and recover.  By Saturday I feel like myself again — but it’s dang rough on me.

This past week was particularly hard b/c we had company for Thanksgiving and we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 8 (and went to a friends holiday party and my niece’s Nutcracker ballet performance).  When I’m on the go non-stop and don’t have a couple days built in to relax, it all sort of goes to hell in a hand basket.

On Monday I was whining to Paul that I went back to work too early, and that I couldn’t possibly get through the work week.  Well, true to form, Paul was having none of it. He pushed my ass right out of bed and wouldn’t allow me to make excuses. So off to work I went, and it was difficult for me, but I muddled through (and made the wise decision to outsource a few projects to outside counsel).

Sadly, this week was no better for me. I’m coming off of a crazy Thanksgiving weekend, just finished a crazy three-day work week, and am now jumping into more craziness.  We had dinner with friends last night, a holiday party tomorrow night, a wedding in LA on Sunday, the Warner Brothers back lot tour Monday, and then back to work Tues-Thurs. Whoosh, I got tired just typing all of that!

In any event, I know from my WordPress stats, that most of you really enjoy seeing pictures. So let me indulge ya’ll (read the slideshow captions).

xoxo,
A

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11.12.13

Today marks my return to work at Stella & Dot as their Corporate Counsel. It’s like the first day of school!

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I’ve come a long way baby

One year ago today, I underwent my bi-lateral mastectomy (aka had my boobs chopped off).

365 days ago my husband, family and I drove to the Menlo Park Surgical Center in the dark hours of the morning. I checked in around 6:30am.  After filling out the requisite paperwork and meeting with my entire surgical team –we all buckled our seat belts for this crazy ride!

As I reflect back on this past year, I don’t really recall all of the pain and emotion (and trust me, there was LOTS of both — just ask my husband!).  Instead, I hear all of your voices and I see all of your emails and texts telling me how strong and courageous I am.  At the time, I thought to myself “What a silly thing to say. I’m no more strong or courageous than the next girl. Indeed, if the shoe were on the other foot, I guarantee you, you would also make the same choices as I without reservation. Because those are the choices you need to make in order to live.  It’s not really hard or courageous to decide to live. You just do what it takes — end of story.”

Now — I feel differently.  I no longer think it’s a silly thing to say to someone. Because gosh darn it — I AM GD STRONG.  I dealt with surgery and reconstruction. I endured 6 months of chemo. I lost all of my hair. I made it through chemo leaking into my body by mistake. I gritted my teeth for a mid-chemo port placement. I navigated that same port becoming infected and being removed a few weeks later. I logged lots of hours in ER’s and hospitals.  But in the end, I kicked cancer to the curb and I think I’m pretty frickin’ awesome for doing it!

So, thank you to each and every one of you who encouraged me along the way.  Especially Paul — I wouldn’t have made it without his endless love and support (I’m not always a peach to deal with — shocking, I know…).  I’m proud of us for making it through and I hope our story serves as a lighthouse in the storm for others who are newly embarking on their journey.

Today I walk

Tomorrow I figure out how to style my hair.

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One Year Later

I think I’ve finally found my words.

One year after this life changing thing happened to me, I thought I’d re-read my blog from beginning to end in order to fully appreciate and respect the journey that I’ve just completed. But I decided not to do that.  Instead Paul and I went to see Gravity in 3D Imax last night. That’s just how we roll over here!

I have a draft blog post sitting in my account, that I may or may not ever publish for ya’ll. It gets into the nitty-gritty about how I feel from second to second nowadays. But, when I re-read it, I felt it was too negative. Too real. I want to make a conscious decision to be more positive. I can be honest and frank in this blog — for sure. But this weekend is too monumental for me to be negative. So perhaps I’ll post that one some other day. For now — the below is the reality that I want to live:

This morning we went to the Ferry Building farmer’s market and walked around and had a scrumptious breakfast. After that, Paul went to play 18 and left me to rest at home. In his absence I decided it was best to HTB (only my S&D girlz will really get that one!) and watch our wedding video (rehearsal  dinner speeches, Indian wedding and Catholic wedding). As I write this, I’m reminded that our families and our friends love us so much. And support us as a couple through and through.

Watching all of the men in my family carry me down the aisle in the dholi made tears stream down my face. Listening to Paul’s cousins do poignant readings at our catholic ceremony gave me the chills.  It was truly a great reminder of what I still HAVE.

When I watch our faces and hear our voices during that amazing weekend of events, never did we think we’d have had the year we just had. Never. But, we are strong, as individuals, and, as a couple. Sure, we fight (we’re a normal couple) — but we love even more. Our wedding videos are a testament to our love for one another and I couldn’t have chosen a better activity to do to honor my cancerversary. In the three or more hours or so of footage we have — all I see is fierce love. On our part as well as from our family and friends.

I’d rather re-focus on the love and positive things in my life. I’d rather reflect on what I have, as opposed to what I’ve lost. I choose the rose-colored glasses dude. Because this shit is my life. I’m ready to start living it again. Fully. F YOU CANCER.

I’m reclaiming my life. Well, at least the new-normal.

Thank you to every single one of you who supported us during this crazy time. I can’t possibly name all of you — but you know who you are. Please know you made a difference and we appreciate every single small gesture, email, text, meal, phone call, gift, hug, etc. THANK YOU.

Now to the next phase — live life…..

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My! What nice skin you have

Sorry its been awhile since my last post. Paul and I are still on the east coast enjoying ourselves. It’s been a whirlwind trip filled with family, fun, babies, food, IPO’s and southern hospitality.

I had to take a minute out of our vacation to blog about my latest post-chemo observation…

It’s official, people who meet me today have no idea I had cancer and went through chemo. Nope. Perfect strangers just give me a once over, take in my crazy-town hair, and smile and say “wow, you have such great skin!”

You see, it’s the only polite thing they can think to say in light of my currently-very-pudgy-frame-and-beyond-tragic-hair/fro.

My chemo curls are like a rats nest atop my head. Remember I used semi-permanent hair color a few weeks ago? Well that’s washing out and, sadly, my gray hair looks brassy blonde — almost gold. It is so fugly! Oh! And my skin isn’t looking good at all. The east coast heat, humidity and bugs are doing a number on my delicate San Francisco skin!

I guess at the end of the day, I prefer the kind lies of a stranger than the cold hard truth. It’s just those first few seconds when I watch their eyes take me in and try to figure out what to say next that are sad! Oh well, it is what it is. I’ll go eat my blues away–diet starts AFTER vacation ends!!

PS – for the full effect, you have to read the title of this post like you’re reading Little Red Riding Hood.

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