A Humorous Look at the Bright Side of Cancer...
And There Is One

Breast Cancer Awareness

October 25, 2016

Doctor Burnout

I think this was after my surgery.

In my last post, item #4 mentioned that I need to go to the eye doctor, but I just can’t bring myself to go: I have complete doctor burnout.

I’m in need of an optometrist for the fact that I am blind as a bat. I find myself reaching for the cheater reading glasses more and more.

However, I also need more than glasses.

I was born cross-eyed. When I was three, I underwent surgery to correct the problem. The surgeon told my parents at that time that I would need another surgery when I turned 18.

Age 18 passed with no surgery, age 28, age 38, age 48. Somewhere between 18 and 28, I consulted a doctor. About the only thing that stands out in that appointment is the fact that he (she?) told me I would be awake for the surgery. I hightailed it out of the office and never looked back. Awake? Kreebles.

When I started thinking about putting my big-girl panties on to conquer my fear of being awake during eye surgery to go consult another eye doctor—especially after two friends told me how happy they were with their lazy eye surgeries—I got diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer.

One to usually only go to a naturopath once or twice a year for a tuneup, suddenly I found myself going to an average of three doctor appointments per week: for everything from tests on my breast, bones, and brain, to nine heart tests performed because of the “Red Devil” regimen I was given.

My liver almost shut down, which caused a bunch of extra appointments.

Then, there have been all the surgeries I’ve had on my body: that eye surgery I mentioned earlier, three C-sections, the insertion of my port for chemotherapy, a mastectomy, the removal of my port, breast reconstruction. I feel like I’m going to be one big scar any day now.

Chemotherapy, surgeries, physical therapy and massage for my lymphedema… I think I’ve had enough appointments to last a lifetime.

When I get tired, you can see my eye wandering, like in this picture. September 4, 2016 – Bellingham Bay

The thought of going now to get a) reading glasses and b) surgery to correct my lazy eye? I just can’t do it. I know one of these days I will have no choice—because both problems are getting worse—but for now, I’m going to stay away from as many doctors as possible, hope my cancer doesn’t come back, and enjoy living my life to the fullest instead.

By |October 2016|Breast Cancer Awareness|

October 25, 2016

Breast Cancer Awareness #8

Table Rock in Boise, Idaho - September 2, 2016

Table Rock in Boise, Idaho – September 2, 2016

And once again, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Like I’ve said before, I don’t like how breast cancer seems to get the most attention out of all the cancers.

Maybe I’m just hypersensitive to all the pink ribbons everywhere, having gone through breast cancer myself.

Here is my list of reasons I’m very aware of breast cancer:

1. I’m still having a hard time reading any books to completion: I hope this doesn’t mean my chemo brain is permanent.

2. Last week alone, a friend told me about her friend that is “going through breast cancer.” Another young girl who sold me yoga pants told me her mother is dying from ovarian cancer and has “given up all hope.” I cried over both of these women I don’t even know.

3. Every October, I get mail from Nordstrom advertising the prostheses they sell.

4. I’ve needed to go to the eye doctor for years now, but I keep putting it off because of the doctor burnout I’m still experiencing from my cancer treatment seven years ago.

Crabbing in Bellingham Bay - September 4, 2016 - with Jonathan

Crabbing in Bellingham Bay – September 4, 2016 – with Jonathan

5. I’ve been vacationing like crazy this year because I keep thinking that “any day now,” the bomb is going to drop.

6. Any time I get a sore on my body that doesn’t want to heal, I’m worried that my cancer is back because poor wound healing is a symptom of cancer. I never used to be paranoid like that before I got my cancer.

7. I’m more conscious of maintaining and enriching my relationships with friends and family because I realize how precious life truly is, having faced death squarely in the eyeballs, so to speak.

8. Every time I pay bills, I’m thankful that we managed to hang on to our house in spite of the huge debt caused by our bills during my cancer treatment: our lawyer friend advised us to declare medical bankruptcy during those dark days, but we managed somehow, by the grace of God, to hang on to our house and pay every last medical bill.

9. Two weeks ago, I got a notice from my oncologist making an appointment for me this upcoming March. I guess he is worried cancer could come back to bite me in the butt.

10. My energy has never fully returned since my treatment, and in talking to other women that have gone through cancer, this is pretty common.

By |October 2016|Breast Cancer Awareness|

April 3, 2016

Seven Years & Counting

04-03-2016

April 3, 2016: Photo by Jonathan deHaan

And once again, it’s that time of year where I pause to commemorate the day I was diagnosed with Stage III “locally-advanced” breast cancer.

4/3/2009: Diagnosis

4/3/2010: Vacation to Gleneden, Oregon

4/3/2011: Got me

4/3/2012: Hiking in the rain

4/3/2013: Shopping and breakfast

4/3/2014: Trip to Redmond, Oregon

4/3/2015: Tree-planting

I still can’t believe it. It’s been seven years since that fateful day. Seven.

This morning, I went to church and played piano with the praise band. After the service was over, Jonathan gave me a bouquet of red alstroemeria. He’s a good boy.

Jonathan and Ken and I ate ham, mashed potatoes, and corn for lunch. Michael came over later to eat leftovers. Skyped with Adriana (who is in Australia) for an hour and didn’t get disconnected once.

Nothing earth-shattering today to celebrate yet another year added to my life, not even a Häagen-Dazs Rocky Road ice cream which is usually my go-to for any celebration. However, I did dance through the kitchen today at one point yelling, “Yippee-ki-yay!” at the top of my lungs.

 

 

By |April 2016|Breast Cancer Awareness|

November 2, 2015

Breast Cancer Awareness #7

August 2015

August 2015

Phew, October is over. I love fall and all, but get sick of the hot pink plastered all over and the endless commercials for breast cancer. There are so many other cancers out there; why does breast cancer get the most airtime? Here is my list for this year:

1.  I fret almost daily over what I should be eating because I do not want a recurrence. Doctors and health professionals can’t agree on the optimum diet and yet, I’m supposed to know what to do?

2. I try not to hyperventilate every time I have PMS pain in my left breast. “Is it PMS or did my cancer come back?”

3. I still cannot concentrate on reading very well because my brain feels like it’s been destroyed. I keep waiting for it to come back full-throttle, but after seven years, I’m not sure that it is going to.

4. I have continued my massage therapy because I’m a bit terrified of lymphedema—which can be permanent.

5. I am the most thankful person ever over a new kitchen—fulfilling part of my bucket list—because I thought it would never happen.

6. When I hear the news that someone I know (or don’t know) has been diagnosed with cancer, my stomach drops into my shoes.

7. I continue to buy Smartwool socks at $15-25 per pair because they make my sensitive-from-chemo feet just plain happy.

8. When friends ask me to go out and I’m up to my ears in housework and other responsibilities, I drop everything and go to that movie and/or dinner with them. Sure beats going to the chemo center like we used to.

9. I am more thankful for the little things: like we used to tell our kids when they were little and struggling through trying to come up with a prayer, we’d tell them, “If you can’t think of anything else, be thankful for the fireplace and your warm bed.”

10. I treasure pictures like this one, because I thought I’d be long dead before my kids got to this fun age.

By |November 2015|Breast Cancer Awareness|

April 3, 2015

Six Years & Counting

Planting nine quaking aspen trees with Ken (in the freezing cold).

April 3, 2015

Every year, I take pause to write a blog entry on the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. Here is what I have done to mark time in the past:

4/3/2009: Diagnosis and road trip to California

4/3/2010: Vacation in Gleneden, Oregon

4/3/2011: Got me

4/3/2012: Hiking in the rain

4/3/2013: Shopping and breakfast with a friend: bought a redbud tree

4/3/2014: Spring break in Redmond, Oregon, with Ken and the boys

I’ve been enjoying my new kitchen, playing in a (church) band, teaching piano lessons, gardening my fool head off, editing, writing, and speaking to others about cancer. Sounds like a good life to me.

Today, I hung around home, content just to be alive. I planted nine quaking aspen and eight vine maples in the yard with Ken. I plan on sitting and gazing at those aspens when they reach eighty feet tall and taking pictures of the vine maples as they change colors every fall.

By |April 2015|Breast Cancer Awareness|