Monday, October 31, 2011

Farewell, Pinktober

This was a special month for me in many ways. It was my first breast cancer awareness month as a survivor. I can't deny the fact that I shed quite a few tears in the last 31 days, but most were out of overwhelming happy emotions. I was so very touched by people's kindness this month, starting with the flowers from my two handsome nephews and Michael sporting his pink socksin my honor on the football field. That was the best way to kick off to BCA month in my opinion!

I was able to be blessed and see how truly generous and kind people can be. Between my walk and people just helping me out directly, I can honestly say there are amazing people in this world. They make challenges like this much easier. My angels and I raised over $8,000 for the American Cancer Society. The walk was one of the most exhilarating and moving experiences of my life. I cried, I laughed, I walked, surrounded by much love. It was a beautiful day on so many levels, not just weather-wise. The whole day did my soul good.

I also continued my treatments as scheduled and started the ball rolling on the radiation part of the process. I managed through the usual bizarre side effects. I even started writing a book. Yes, for those of you who have been encouraging it, I finally got started. It will take a while, but at least it's under way. (Get ready for the ride on the tour bus Mary C! First stop is at your house). I will admit, it's a challenge to do with chemo brain. I have a hard time remembering ideas if I don't write them down immediately, and of course, between work, chemo, a husband and an almost 3 year old, the ability to do so is limited.

While I can't get into the details, I also channeled my inner Erin Brockvich this month. It felt so amazing to be able to stand up for others who weren't able to do so themselves. I'm proud of that. I wish I could say more, but basically, I had a David and Goliath-type experience and was fortunate enough to be victorious.

At the end of the month, I look back feeling a bit celebratory, pink wig and all. I can say that this month made me a better person, made me stronger and more confident.

I pray that November is as blessed. I will start it by taking my last chemo and end it by having much to be thankful for. It doesn't get much better than that.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

General commentary

It's pretty surreal to me that in less than a week, I will be getting my last chemo infusion! I cannot believe how quickly the time has past. I can only hope and pray that I never experience anything like this again. I will say that I do think that cancer has made me stronger. I has given me a new confidence in what I can accomplish. I have endured a lot in these last 5 months to say the least, but I am still standing!

I am working on a special post for the day I get my last treatment (Wednesday, November 2). I think you all will enjoy it. I have been working on it for a while because it's a momentus occasion in my life and I want to get the words right for it. The end of a very challenging chapter in my life.

On another note today, I got my pink wig to wear for Halloween. It's just lovely! I figure why not have some fun with this, right?

I hope everyone is surviving in this crazy weather. We are lucky here, we have had mostly rain and wind all day, but I have heard crazy snow reports from across NJ/Pennsie. Stay safe!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Met with the Radiation Oncologist today.

Today's meeting with the radiation oncologist went well. He seems like a very decent person/practitioner. The week after Thanksgiving I will start 28 radiation sessions, 5 days a week. By all accounts, it will be much better than chemo. I cannot wait!

I plan on imagining that I am on an island with a fruity drink in my hand, soaking up the rays.

While I was waiting for my doctor, I met a woman in the waiting room. Today was her last day of treatment. She had a very similar medical plan to mine: double mastectomy, chemo, radiation. Her hair was starting to come back in! Woohooo! I took her presence as a sign that this will go well and in a blink of an eye, I will be there too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Celebrating a hero

Happy birthday Dad! In the past few months, wonderful people have called me a hero. I don't see it that way, but perhaps I just learned from the best. In emulating a hero, perhaps I have begun to resemble one. I didn't run into burning buildings to save lives for a living. I didn't carry others to safety. I just watched and learned that life is precious and worth fighting for from someone who lived that every day.

Perhaps being the daughter of a firefighter is what gives me courage in the face of fear. Perhaps I gained my strength from watching him. I know I got my work ethic and determination from him (just as him the mullygrubs story sometime). I learned the power of thinking positive from him. And I certainly learned the importance of family and faith.

So thanks, Pop for always living an example. Thank you for just being there, and letting me know how loved I am. You being you made me who I am. Hope you didn't get your keyboard too wet reading the post. You're the best, and I am blessed.

On another note, one week and a wake up until my last treatment! But who's counting?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

everyone gets weary

No matter who we are, everyone of us had our trials in life. And as strong as we strive to be, we all get weary now and then. Life is like that. We all hit different points that require strength, perserverance and faith. We push through as best as we can. No matter how hard we try, inevitably, we all get worn down sometimes. For me, I just get tired of being strong.

The main part of today was good. I was tired in the morning, had a wave of normalcy mid-day, and then got hit with the aches and fatigue like a ton of bricks this evening. It's such a strange feeling when it hits. Out of nowhere, I feel like I need to lay down that immediate second. So I did.

I know I am in the home stretch now. It has been 5 and a half months since my diagnosis. That seems unbelievable to me. It went by so very quickly. My last infusion is less than two weeks away. I know that this will all be behind me soon. I just wish that fact would make the present day more bearable. I guess in some ways, it does, but I'm just tired. It will be so wonderful to be done with this interesting chapter of my life. Just gotta keep going. One foot in front of the other.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I'm still me

Sometimes, I have to remind myself of that. My world has been turned upside down since May. We all know that. My physical appearance may be different. But I am still me. I may have some temporary limitations that get in my way right now, but I know they will go away. I know someday very soon, I will feel more like the old me again.

The truth is though, I never left. I do believe I held true to the lyric I typed months ago. They did cut into my skin, and my body, but they did not get a piece of my soul. In fact, I believe my soul has thrived, and blossomed in ways it would not have if I had not been put through trials.

I see now that cancer hasn't changed me much. It just enhanced me a bit I guess. I am open about my situation for the hope of helping someone else. Maybe my sense of humor is a bit more warped. But I still love nothing more than the things I did before. I still love snuggling with my child. Spending time with my family (even though I missed being with them today... It was for a good cause so that I can be there in the future). Laughing and living life with my husband. Sharing stories and smiles with my friends. Just feeling alive.

They say that they chemo drugs can affect the heart. And perhaps they did, but not in the way the clinical studies say. My heart wants to give, to love and to be me. My heart wants to help others. My heart wants to pump blood through my veins as I take in this beautiful, crazy life. I think that those feelings were there, but perhaps dormant until I was awakened by fear. Fear can be a great motivator to remind you to get out and live your life. I cannot wait until the limitations are gone and I can move freely without pain or fog, so I can enjoy life in a new way.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One more to go, Dean Martin, and a little more chemo brain fun

Completed Round 7 today! I am so blessed and grateful that my blood work has held up so nicely throughout treatment! I would like to personally thank the nerdy scientist that discovered neulasta and my boss for allowing me to work from home as I am certain that this combo has kept me healthy and made it possible for me to keep on my schedule without delays. Seems almost unbelievable to me that the end of this is so very close now. Less than two weeks away until I am stuck with a 22 gauge needle for hopefully the very last time.  Today's treatment was uneventful. I slept through most of it again. Damm benedryl infusion. I tried staying awake, but I got so tired I got that numb face feeling that is typically reserved for too much alcohol.

Walking out of the infusion suite today was, well, sweet! Knowing that I am almost done is just surreal to me. I finally feel like I am on the downward slope of the mountain. I talked to my doc today about next steps! That was so lovely to finally be at that point where that conversation was more than just mere speculation. The only thing that is disappointing is that they won't do any follow up scans until radiation is done. I want one now to tell me all is good. I'm not the most patient patient. Oh well.

After treatment, Mom and I went to dinner at a lovely restaurant across from the hospital (for those of you who know the story, it's the place where much of my family enjoyed a delightful 3 course meal while I was coming out of 8 hours of surgery). Anywho, I realized the music that was playing tonight was upbeat Dean Martin collection. It took me back to Gram and Grandpa's house over the years. If you at their house on a Sunday, your experience likely included pasta, meatballs, grated cheese, and at some point Dean Martin serenaded you. He was a mainstay that in my recollection was brought to us via 8-track, then cassette tape, then eventually cds, as Grandma got more modern. I felt like it was her way of telling me that she's here and is celebrating too that I am almost done. It was better than her biting me in the cemetery last time.

Now, before I wrap this up, I thought I would share a few more chemo brain incidents with you since I know several people found it amusing:

  • The other day, I popped into Hess Express while fueling up the van to grab a drink. For a moment, I forgot that I had to pay for said drink and caught myself almost walking out the door without paying. What? Cancer patients don't get freebies at convenience stores? Well, that's a bummer. 
  • Then one recent morning, I went to brush my teeth. Just as I was about to shove the tooth brush into my mouth, I saw Cookie Monster smiling at me. Ooops. That's not mine! 
  • A few days later, Steven and I were both brushing our teeth, when he started freaking out right after he put his toothbrush in his mouth. Apparently, he was none too fond of the grownup minty stuff instead of his usual toddler fruity flavored tooth paste. Ooops again! Sorry buddy!
  • Oh and attempting to do brain teasers and letter puzzles during infusion equals not the best way to win. The letters were swirling and kind of resembled numbers, so I decided to stop and nap instead.
  • And earlier this week, I got locked out of my work computer this week because I had to change my password and couldn't remember what I changed it to. So my IT guy reset it at something generic that I just struggle to remember. Every time I go to login, I screw it up. If you want to mess with a patient, change their login. 
Please continue the prayers. I still need them on this journey. Pray that I finish stronger than I started. Pray that the treatment was effective. Pray that some day soon, I officially hear the words "You are cancer-free" and get my remission date (pray extra hard on this one!). And pray for my family. They have gracefully endured more hell than anyone should have to endure.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

standing on the edge of 7

At this time tomorrow, I should be able to say "ONE MORE CHEMO!" Please keep me in your prayers as I go for round 7 tomorrow. Time is flying by so quickly now. I made my appointment to meet with my Radiation Oncologist next week. It's almost time for tanning!

The return to "normal" life is close now. I wonder if it ever will quite feel like it did before. I can't imagine that it will ever quite be the same as it was. I look at life through different lenses now. I would love to say that once I have my last infusion this all goes away, but deep down, I know it won't. It's now a part of me. It's not all of me, but it's a very large chunk at this moment. I suspect that percentage will change overtime, but the experience has permanently changed me.

What will I do with it? I'm not totally sure yet. I did see a quote today that resonated with me: "There isn't a single human being who hasn't had plenty to cry over. The trick is to make the laughs outweigh the tears". Right on! Life is enhanced by laughter and smiles. I cannot go back to taking life for granted. I cannot go back to just floating along. I need to spread some positive around. Whether that be by smiling more myself, finding ways to help others, teaching my son to be a good person who will have a positive impact on this world. I don't want to squander this experience. I have learned much in the past few months, and there are so many new ways that I can contribute. I think of Steve's shirt that simply says "Impact... Make one" I want to come out of this a better person than I would have if my life had not taken this unexpected detour!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Here is an interesting statistic I heard on the news today. 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of it! Lately, my blogs have been a bit egocentric focusing on me, the walk, my published pieces, etc. So I want to get back to the point of this month and all of the activity in case it's missed: BE AWARE!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, not Nicole Awareness month (although thank you for all the love and support! It is nice to hear from people who care...).  Therefore in the spirit of BCA, I want to focus today on just that. It was announced earlier today that Giuliana Rancic of celebrity gossip and reality tv fame was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She is 36 years old, and SAY IT WITH ME... "Had no family history"...

She was in the midst of infertility battles, when her new fertility specialist told her he wanted her to be screened before he would treat her. (p.s. I wonder if there is a link between people who struggle with infertility and BC. hmm. I come up with a theory a day. But I digress). And sadly, she's now going into treatment for cancer instead of trying to have a child. It's likely early stage, and she expects to be fine, but none the less, it happened. And now she will go through even more hell than she already has.

So I say it again, if you think it can't happen to you, it can. If you think you are not at risk, you are. If you think it doesn't happen to people under the age of 40, it does. If you find something, do not wait for it to go away. If it's there in a few weeks time, it's likely not going anywhere, so why not get it checked.

Don't be embarassed or shy. If a car was coming at you, full speed ahead, would you stand there a politely smile? No, you'd jump out of the way. Don't be polite when it comes to your health either! If you find something, treat it with the same urgency as the car. Know your body. Yes, that means checking yourself out. If you are embarassed about it, check yourself in the shower when no one's around. No one will know, and they will be happy if you detect something early. Ask questions. Be assertive.

Here is a good guide on how to do an exam. There! I am taking away all your excuses...

They can do mammograms for diagnostic purposes under the age of 40. You don't have to wait if you think there is something to be concerned about! Just FYI.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My body is tired, but I am wearing a smile.

Today was a truly amazing day! It was full of surprises, love, and a whole lotta pink! God blessed us with perfect walking weather. It was comfortable and beautiful. I was so touched to see so many shirts with "Nicole's Angels" on the back. I was equally honored to wear one that said survivor on the back!

It was an emotional day for sure, but a good emotion. I cried a decent amount, but I was armed with my waterproof mascara. I had the most amazing team to walk with. I counted my blessings today, all 75 of the ones who were there or there in spirit. Thank you to all who walked, all who thought of us and all who donated! In the end, we raised more than $8,000 for the American Cancer Society! As my mom said afterwards, we took something awful and made it into something wonderful. I'm so very proud of that!

One of the other special parts of the day was when several long-term survivors randomly came to hug me and tell me that I would be ok. Particularly, a 17 year survivor came right on up to me to share that message. She told me to hang in there and never give up. I could not thank her enough. She gave me an extra boost of hope. So truly special.

I also was particularly excited to see the pink fire truck! I literally jumped up and down when I saw it was there. Being a firefighter's daughter and sister, there was an extra level of special to sign that. What added to the beauty of that was when my nieces and my brother inked there messages too. Beautiful, special, touching!

I have never shared pictures on the blog before, but today I will post a few. Check out my fierce team, me proudly rocking the words "Survivor", a special picture of me and Steve, and my awesome team captain and cousin Frankie and the cake she made me! 


Let me share with you an experience I had this morning. I had to load a few things into the van. I had already pulled the van out of the garage, so I had to go out to do it. When I stepped out into the crisp, chilly pre-dawn air, an old familiar feeling and then memory came over me.

For those of you who don't know, my grandparents were brave souls who often took long road trips during the summers with their grandchildren. Part of the experience was riding "Big Nick" style. My grandfather was a truck driver his whole life, and learned that if you are going to be traveling, the best time to start was before the sun came up. So many a morning, he would be drag us kids out of bed at an ungodly hour, and we would be leaving a hotel by 5 am and on the road to our next destination. As you might imagine, it was often chilly as we would pile into the car.

So this morning, when I walked out, I had a deja vu. I felt like I was walking out to the old Caddy in the parking lot with Grandma and Grandpa. So, I ask myself, perhaps are there are two more walkers on my team today? I believe so. And for those who put me down in the poll as the first to cry... You win!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tomorrow is the big day!

Tomorrow, Nicole's Angels will take to the walking path, 70 strong! I cannot wait for the big event. A giant, loud sea of pink!! Ah, how I wonder if ACS is ready for the likes of us. As of right now, we have raised over $6,800. So, So awesome. That money will help many a cancer patient. Thank you to all of those who are walking, those who planned on walking, but are being sidelined due to life happening and those who contributed! I am so proud of the team and what we are accomplishing. It really is an awesome feeling to be giving back.

I think we should take bets as to who sheds the first tear. Any guesses? Something tells me it's going to be an emotional day. Seeing 70 people with my name on their back is going to be amazing. Plus, I am certain many of the other teams will have some awesome survivors. I wonder who will be the first one to drop a tear and who will be the one to cry the most often throughout. We should have a pool.

Here is the link to our team page if anyone would like to join us or contribute last minute.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I can't believe it!

I am so amazed that people in the media are interested in my story. My blog "there are no tears on Hope Rd" was published in!

Check it out.... :-)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The amazing thing about this journey...

From the time I was diagnosed, one of my goals has been to have there be some positive come out of this horrible experience. I hate cancer, and as much as I wish it wasn't a part of my life, there is nothing I can do to change the fact that it happened to me. It's in my life now, so I have to make the best of it. That is one of the reasons that has inspired me to keep up with the blog (although admittedly, the other reason is that I find the writing incredibly therapeutic and a wonderful way to get my positive thinking cap on). 

As I have continued blogging, something wonderful happened, people started to notice, and it started giving comfort to others: a wonderful side effect to something that was originally intended as a mode of venting out my own experiences to clear my head. I am hearing from others who do not have this type of battle that I inspire them in their daily lives. I cannot tell you how amazing that is to me. Then, I hear from others in the "cancer club" how this has helped them, by either given them tips through their journey, validation of what they are feeling, or just hope to know they are not alone. And that is the true gem for me. If I can help others, and give them hope, then I am doing my job.

In an earlier post, I spoke about lighthouses and how they guide others to shore who are battling storms. That is still what I would love to be for people. Now, looking back, some truly awesome opportunities to do so have come my way. First there was the interview by the Cancer Support Community, which was a blessing as the group has been tremendously instrumental in my coping. Here is the link: Then comes word that Coping with Cancer Magazine is going to publish a story I wrote for them based on my one of my blog posts! Such a huge boost knowing that others in the club may find comfort in my words. Then there is the Readers' Digest contest I entered which is still going pretty well. If I am lucky, I will be published there. You can vote here for me every 24 hours via facebook. Here is the link to vote:  But yesterday was a topper of all of these, when I was interviewed by ABC News and posted as a top story in their health section. here is the link:

It's so unbelievable and exciting to think there are people out there who are touched by and are learning from my story. I have been blessed all along to have a wonderful group of family and friends who check my blog. I typically get anywhere from 80-120 readers in my world a day. Here's the awesome part: yesterday, thanks to the coverage, I received over 600 page hits! I have received comments from people who I haven't even met who are finding comfort in my words. That is a gift, a blessing! People are learning about this disease, and becoming more aware because of me. What a truly indescribable feeling...

One of the other survivors told me how brave it was of me to share this experience. I don't find it to be so, actually, I find that it gives me courage because it allows for feedback. I post what I am thinking and feeling and people have responded with such kindness and encouragement, how could I not? Please know that for every one who has commented, whether here or through facebook or a card in the mail, each comment is a blessing to me. A sign that I have touched someone's heart somewhere, perhaps gave them a chuckle, a smile or a tear. That is a gift. Sometimes, cancer makes you feel emotionally numb, but when something like this occurs, you feel alive, special, beautiful.

So here is my message one more time: Cancer can happen to young adults. It happens when you least expect it. Know your body, and ask questions. If something doesn't feel right, then talk to your doctor. Do not ignore it! And if God forbid, you do get a diagnosis, know that there is hope in treatment, and you can still get much joy out of life!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

oh and one more thing

Perhaps the best way to honor those you have lost is to let their legacy continue. So Grandma, while you were fiercely private about your diagnosis, I hope you don't mind that I am very open about mine. I hope that someone can learn from my experience or another member of the cancer club can realize they are not alone and gain some hope in their journey.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by a writer at ABC News about issues that affect young survivors. Here is the outcome! I'm proud of it and hope that it helps someone along the way.

"Life ain't always beautiful"

5 years ago today, the most beautiful cancer survivor in my world traded this world for heaven. I miss her like it was yesterday. She was my unconditional friend, my inspirational fighter, my grandmother. I never missed her more than I do now. I treasure every discussion we had, whether it was to gossip about the old bitties in her building, or to chat about my work. She was a fixture in my life. As her time started to fade, it scared me to watch her go. I couldn't imagine my world without her. I still can't imagine it sometimes.

We were very different people, but I do see some of her traits in me, especially now. I try so very much to rely on her legacy and the example she set. There are things in life that terrify you, but you can't let them stop you. Determination, a sense of humor and a brave face are necessary to battle a beast like cancer. I learned that by watching her fight for 15 or 20 years.

There was much living that happened from the time she was diagnosed until the time she was called back home. Grandchildren graduated from high school, college and grad school. Some of us got married. Great-grandchildren were born. Members of her family found their happiness. She continued to make the best macaroni soup. She even movedto a new home and started a new life for herself at the tender young age of 80. She became a biker chick at the age of 83. She colored Easter eggs until her last Easter. She still rolled her eyes when she heard the first few notes to "Grandma got run over by a Reindeer". When she was too weak in her last few days of life, she still enjoyed a beer.

She lived, she loved and she laughed.

There is a song by Gary Allen that always made me think of her and her battle, and these days, it makes me think of "our" battle: the one that she and I have in common, although we didn't have chance to share together.

 When you think of Gram, do what I do, remember her and smile.
No, life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride indeed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The loudest voice you hear is your own & ode to Steve!

That was the affirmation card that I got today at the Wellness Community (aka, the cancer support community. I am resisting the name change, because I like focusing on the wellness part better).

I find it interesting timing because I have been having a rough few days emotionally. Right before my last treatment, I was feeling great. Then the side effects did their thing, and I struggled. I know to expect these things, but I still have a hard time accepting it when going through it. Fears creep in, sadness happens. And I can't help but ask the proverbial "why me?" I know I have come up with reasons to justify it, and in many ways have accepted it, but it's challenging to look at the world and know that I am the one who drew that short straw, and to know I will never quite know exactly why.  I know there are people in this world who have it so much worse than me, but sometimes, I get tired of being strong, and I let it get the better of me.

So today, while sitting there in my comfy seat in the community, I got that card. I found it very interesting because I know that much of the waves of sadness are within my control. So I need to cut the crap. I only have two more rounds of this stuff. I can get through this. It's been a long road so far, but I am nearing the homestretch. I need to believe in myself that I am beating this. I need to believe that soon I will hear and own the words "cancer free".

I need to understand that while going through this has been the bain of my existence, it's going to open my heart to an even more beautiful future, one where the colors on the trees are more vibrant. I will see that the sky is a bit more blue. I have learned more about how to reign in my soul when it feels like it's running amok. I am a warrior, and I will win this war... never mind the battle, I'm taking the whole kit and kaboodle.

Enough about me. I want to talk about Steve. He is one unbelievable man! He's not perfect, but he's perfect for me. He's the man who used to tell me I was beautiful without makeup. Now he tells me I am beautiful without hair. He has been by my side in ways I could never have dreamed of. He's held my hand when I was in pain. He's made me laugh, and cried with me. He's made me feel special at times when I feel invisible. When the rest of the world is living their normal lives, he's right there front and center, never letting me feel alone. He doesn't get to forget about what I am going through, he lives it every day. He never makes me feel badly about bringing this unwanted guest into our home. I know it's hard on him, and I know he's tired, but he doesn't give up. He knows when he needs to step up with extra effort to cover mommy's shoes with our son. Does he get angry about cancer? Of course. But he never lets it stand in the way of living up to the vows we took 7 years ago. I know it's not easy, but that's what makes me so lucky. This is a horrible path we are walking, but I am grateful and blessed to have him walking it with me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Funny how it happens...

Being today is a "chemo sunday" (even though it's saturday), I have not been having my best day. Feeling crappy, a little sad and overwhelmed, and just generally yucky. Then, a boost came. My interview has finally been posted on the Cancer Support Community's website. I am waiting to see when it pops up on Every Day Health's Newsletter.

Here is the link:

It's so very nice to see this online. I hope that my story encourages another patient to treat the whole self. The mind certainly does affect the physical. And cancer affects the mind. The best way to combat that is to get lots and lots of support and information. The Cancer Support Community is one great way to do that. I am blessed to have found it.

I hope you enjoy the story.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chemo brain....

In honor of chemo round 6, taxol round 2, I thought I would share with you one of the more entertaining side effects of chemo: CHEMO BRAIN. It is a real occurance, not just something I made up. Google it if you don't believe me.

Here are some of the entertaining things that chemo brain has done to me:
  • I came dangerously close to putting paprika in my oatmeal instead of cinnamon. blah!
  • I have put several non food items in the fridge only to find them later when looking for something else
  • Words constantly evade me when I am trying to talk, so now I just make stuff up
  • I drove to Holmdel last week convinced I had my purse with me. When I got there, I realized I didn't have it
  • I intended to microwave something for 30 seconds, and instead cooked it for 3 minutes... oops. that didn't taste so good
  • I have repeatedly booked multiple things for the same time and had no clue I was doing it because my brain has no concept of time or schedules right now
  • During a recent dinner, I was completely confused as to where the serving bowls, hot plates, and utensils were. Jami got a good chuckle out of watching me spin around the kitchen.
  • I was given a bag of shirts for the walk to deliver 12 hours before seeing the recipients... That bag is STILL in my dining room.
I don't mind chemo brain. I kind of find it funny.

Today's treatment went well. Poor Mom. She had to catch up on all of the celebrity gossip for the year while I was sleeping the day away in the chair. I am halfway through Taxol now and 75% of the way through chemo. I think I can, I think I can!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Taxol 2 tomorrow!

If all goes well, in 48 hours, I will have half of my Taxol infusions behind me! Tomorrow, they will take slowly too. They say if you are going to have a reaction, it will happen in the first two rounds. The first one went fine, so here's hoping that this one goes well to. I have to say, everyone told me I would like Taxol much better than AC, and they did not lie. The experience has just been so much different. I am so glad they do it that way. You get the worst over with first.

I am finally starting to feel more normal. I was able to exercise yesterday. I am sleeping better at night (most of the time anyway). I am able to eat normal foods again. It's so refreshing! Starting to feel better means I can start to do those things I need to do in order to get healthy and keep this disease far away.

Taxol has its own challenges of course (I mean, after all, it is still chemo), but it pales in comparison to AC. The good news is today is October 5 (Happy 75th birthday Aunt Bern!). One month from today, if all goes well, I will be in my ridiculous extremely tired day for the LAST TIME! Yippeeeeeeee!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sometimes, all you can do is laugh.

BC awareness month is upon us, which means a tidal wave of pink. Some of the pink we will see are really exciting and touching. For example, watching a group of 13 year olds dedicating an awesome football game to breast cancer support (including my awesome nephew Michael and their team sporting their pink socks and tape, as they kicked some Howell butt on Sunday!). Some pink can be inspiring, like seeing pictures of the sea of 13,000 people strong sporting pink for the Komen Race for the cure this past week, or the team of 50 that will be proudly wearing pink shirts that say "Nicole's Angels" on their backs in two weeks. For those who haven't heard of it, there is a pink fire truck that is signed by survivors that rolls around northern NJ that is pretty amazing. And of course, you will know my mini-van when you see it because it has my pink "fight like a girl" sticker on it.

But some of the pink is down right goofy. There are plenty of things to chuckle about out there, and I want to share with you some of what I have found.  I am proud to say I lost my boobs, not my sense of humor, so here goes. For example, Mattel had come out with a Breast Cancer Barbie. She's lovely sporting a fancy hairdo and a glamorous gown (pink of course). Of course the proceeds went to research, etc. which is great. Then some survivors countered with the "real" breast cancer barbie. She has a shaved head, comes with a tube top made of gauze, lymphadema wraps, a pathology report, an iv drip and a toilet bowl! Ah, now that is a real life depiction! Gotta love that survivor sense of humor.

I also thought it was necessary to have breast cancer pens that also claim to "help prevent check fraud." Yes, I have bought these pens, although I am still not certain how those two are linked. The irony is, they are made by Uniball. That made me wonder if they have pens to support testicular cancer too. I mean, it only seems appropriate. Or how about the pink ribbon beer pong table? Sometimes drinking games are just the way to go. Ignore the fact that excessive drinking can be linked to breast cancer. Or how about the fact that KFC had buckets of their original fried chicken (yes breasts of course) in their "buckets for the cure" campaign? There are so many issues with this, all I could do was chuckle! Then there is the very fancy pink ribbon cigarette holder that I found online. REALLY? Nothing says cancer support than a pretty mechanism to hold your tobacco.

Oh and ladies, don't leave home without your pink ribbon mace!

I also found a breast stress ball. Yes, one that you squish to help relieve tension. And then I found a bottle coozy that is supposed to be a pink ribbon t-shirt. Not too unusual until you realize that it's molded to look like it has boobs under the shirt. Lovely. People are creative, I will give them that!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I am well aware, thank you very much.

It's amazing what a difference a year makes. A year ago, I thought I was "aware" of breast cancer, but was blissfully unaware that it was growing inside of me. Breast Cancer Awareness back then meant seeing pink ribbons and pamphlets around, knowing that there were walks and runs going on, hearing commercials on the radio.  Little did I know what the coming year would bring.

We all know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This year, obviously, awareness has a new meaning for me. I understand it on a different level now. Pink is not just a color in my closet, it's a way of life. A year ago, I was not even remotely at risk in my mind. I felt sad for those who were, but I went about my life having no clue that it could ever happen to me, especially in my 30s. Now, I am practically a poster child.

Today, I thought about the limitations treatment has put on me. I thought about how I have half of the normal amount of weekends because I am too sick to enjoy every other one. It means there are parties I can't attend, and activities that I have to skip.  And it means that the ones that I do attend, I am attending with 75% presence because my energy level even on good weekends is substandard.

Then, I thought to myself, it's ok that I am missing my weekends now because it means I will be here for so many more weekends, years and events. As people have said to me, it's one year out of my life. Soon enough, my life will become my own again.  I will feel like me again

So as we start Breast Cancer Awareness month, please think of me. Ladies, if you have not done your proper screenings, whether that be self-exams, mammograms, etc. please do so. Gents, presumably, you have ladies in your life. Either remind them to get checked or lend them a helping hand. There is a fan-favorite t-shirt out there that says "save a life, grope your wife". There.... I said it. Hey, whatever works, right?

Keep yourself aware. Not just aware of the pink ribbons, but of the facts. Read the pamphlets. Do a google search. Talk to me or someone else. and NEVER assume that it cannot happen to you. It can. And being "paranoid" if you find something unusual could be all you need to save your life. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Here are some statistics for you (compiled from the Komen, ACS and Y-Me websites):
  • Breast cancer is the second most common diagnosis for women, to skin cancer
  • 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime
  • The estimated number of newly diagnosed women in the United States in 2011 is greater than 230,000
  • Between 5 and 10% of breast cancers occur under the age of 40 (aren't I lucky?)
  • 70% of breast cancer patients found the lump themselves
  • When found early, (stage 0 or 1) breast cancer has a 98% survival rate
Early detection is key!