Tag Archives: radiation

Loner

3 Aug

 

I recently saw a movie called ‘A Little Bit of Heaven’ starring Kate Hudson. It is available for rent or On Demand if you have cable television. WARNING!! SPOILER ALERT!! READ ON IF YOU DON’T CARE IF I TELL YOU HOW IT ENDS!!! Anyhow, it is about a woman whose life is going great; good friends, great career. All is well until she is diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and is told she either starts treatment right away or she dies. She begins treatment right away and about half way through the movie she finds out the treatment is not working…therefore…well, you can guess. What made this movie unique for me was that unlike other ‘cancer’ or ‘death/illness related’ movies, it was not really a bucket list movie. You know the ones…’I’m dying so I have to accomplish these things before I go’  movies. No, this movie has the main character completely focused on her relationships, strengthening them and even repairing them. It shares her feelings as well as her friends’ and parents feelings and struggles during an extrememly difficult time. The main character is a happy-go-lucky girl, always smiling and positive, but not really ever revealing the turmoil inside, kind of a loner. It reminded me so much of my own thoughts and feelings and it exposed to me what my family and friends may have felt over the past few years in my own struggle with cancer. I sobbed the whole time and at the end I could barely breathe because of how hard I was crying…I’m glad I was alone! I think the last time I cried that much watching a movie was when I saw ‘The Champ’ in the late 70’s. What kid wouldn’t cry watching a dad die?

So here’s the truth about me, some of you already know because I’ve written about it before, I am also a loner. Before cancer I was also happy-go-lucky, always smiling and positive (I still try to be), but…like the character in the movie, it has always been difficult for me to have deep, authentic relationships. Of course I’ve had many close friends over the years, but very few that I can say were deep. Deep relationships take a lot of time to develop and are vulnerable and difficult , a position I did not want to be in. Dont get me wrong,  I love to listen to people, hear their struggles, share their pain, but as for me sharing…not so much, and of course, to have an authentic relationship it needs to go both ways, right? Now, that was BEFORE cancer. Like the character in the movie, cancer opened my heart and it has not been able to close back up. I CRAVE relationships, honesty, authenticity, openness, etc. so much so that when I feel like a friendship is just riding the surface it drives me crazy. Well, there were things I did not agree with in the movie but overall I thought it was spot on. In the end, it’s not about your stuff or your accomplishments, it’s about people and relationships and ultimately love. So if you feel like crying and seeing a real tearjerker movie, this one’s for you.

Today I am wearing Aquaphor on my lips. Tragedy happened this week when I got hives on my lips from one of my newer lip products!! That’s right, I was allergic to a lipstick I bought but since I had purchased a couple lip balms too, it has taken the whole week to narrow down which one it was and I still have a few spots that are irritated. If my lips weren’t so big everyone would have seen the hives!  So, it’s been Vaseline or Aquaphor as my gloss for the past few days while my lips calm down. I LOVE Aquaphor. It is a great skin treatment for severely dry or chapped skin that you can use on lips, elbows, hands, and one of my favorite things to do is put some on my feet and then put socks on at night. In the morning your feet look like you just had a pedi! Cherish your friends and family, open your heart!

Nature vs. Nurture

8 Nov

I have had a crazy, stressful week this past week.  I eluded to a certain situation in my last blog and this week everything exploded and I was caught in the firestorm.  Everything revolved around a single person and their actions which finally caught up to them.  I’ve always wondered if bad choices really ever caught up to some people (because some seem to get away with a lot more than others), well now I know, sooner or later they do.  It was interesting watching everything unfold and because I’m always curious about people’s stories, I wondered what this person’s story was that made him who he was today.  It raises the question. ‘nature or nurture’?  Did God make us this way or did our environment create us into who we are today.  I say both.  One of my husband’s favorite phrases when he’s on a stubborn streak is, ” That’s how God made me and no one can change that.”  I believe that to an extent but I also believe that environment can soften and mold us.  I can only imagine the type of person he would’ve been had his parents not reigned him in. I believe we are all created with unique personalities and temperaments but I think our families, friends, and the environment we are raised in mold us too; and then of course, the different choices we make throughout our lifetime direct us one way or another.

People are funny and interesting and knowing people’s stories not only help you understand them more, but accept them and love them too.  I’m not saying that you have to accept their decisions or how they treat you, but it gives you a better handle on things in terms of ‘being the change’ for people (even if it means walking away).  I’m hoping this event may precipitate a change for the better but who knows.  I read a quote which says, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”-J. Baldwin.  I understand we need to face our challenges or challenging people head on whether change happens or not.  Maybe it’s just to plant the seed or to be a part of that ‘nurture’. We all have a voice and I’m so thankful after cancer that I still have mine.  We need to use it not only to spark change but to be a blessing to others.

This week I wear Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Color in Crimson.  It’s a rich, deep, wine-red, color and the newest to my ever expanding collection.  It’s great for the holidays and red is always that reminder to for me to live life to the fullest…wear it like you mean it!

Popularity

2 Nov

 

I was never very popular in school.  I wasn’t the prettiest or the most witty, no, I was the super shy, quiet, smart girl that sat in the middle of class; not in the front, not in the back.  I was not really invited to any parties and never really had a date until my senior year.  The only time my shyness was banished was when I sang.  Music stirred my heart, and my emotions were always transported through my voice.  I was not really depressed about not being part of the popular crowd because I was kind to everyone and had many friends because of that.  The flip side to that is that I was (and still am somewhat) a people pleaser.  Now, I have three kids, one of which is a teenager who just recently asked me about popularity.  He is the starting quarterback for the football team but he asked why it feels like all the trouble makers seem to be the popular kids.  I tried to do the ‘don’t worry about it be kind to others and be confident in yourself’ talk, but I remember feeling the same way.  It is so hard.

Recently, I’ve had to deal with a situation at work where I had to stand up to something that disturbed the status quo.  It has been very difficult for me.  I haven’t slept that well, and I’ve lost weight from the stress.  I realized that in my quest to ‘go along with things’ or to be popular, I have lost my own opinion and ‘gumption’.  For me, wanting to be popular equates to wanting to be liked by everyone and with my work situation, there are definitely people that will not be pleased in the end.  It is virtually impossible to please everyone and to be liked by everyone.  I told my son that more important than being popular is knowing who you are and what you believe in.  Popularity changes with each second of the clock so it’s critical to be true to yourself and stand on the foundation that God made everyone unique. I stepped forward at work and said something ,and even though I’m stressed about the decision, I know it was the right thing to do.  It’s a risk to be yourself, not caring whether your opinion is well liked or not, but it’s important.  Don’t lose your voice just to be liked or popular.  We were all created for a unique purpose and if we try to be like someone else, we lose a little. 

Today I wear Lancome’ Color Design lipstick in Curtain Call.  It is a sheer deep raspberry which looks amazing on my medium skintone, it’s great for the season.  Not only is it a great color, it’s got a great name.  This is your curtain call.  Wouldn’t it be great to come out as you?

Ownership

27 Oct

This week I celebrated my birthday.  You all know how much I love birthdays.  This was my first birthday since 2008 that I did not have cancer, was preparing for treatment for cancer, or recovering from cancer surgery or radiation.  It was a little bittersweet for me because I had to be in Philadelphia for a work meeting.  Although I hated being away from my family, I had fun with people I had trained with before, but I also met a new lovely woman who I know I will continue to stay in touch with.  For this meeting, my roomate was a beautiful girl who was almost 20 years younger than me.  It was great and interesting to get to know her as well as my new friend who is almost 20 years older than me.  I loved listening to their stories and perpectives on life, work , family, etc., and what led them to make the decision which led them here. 

For this birthday, like every birthday, I looked back at my life and everything I’ve been through and also looked ahead with apprehension.  I am comfortable with the decisions I’ve made and the path I’ve taken.  There are many things we cannot control, you know, “life is 10% of  what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it” (Stephen Covey). We all decide which path we take in each situation, whether it’s which peanut butter to buy, which doctor to choose, which job, etc…what most people don’t want to do many times is take ownership on those decisions.  Sometimes we  blame the situation or end product of our own decision if it is not what we thought or planned.  Looking back, I have made many decisions that I thought I may have regretted but I look at where I am today and I’m content and feel very blessed.  I would not have chosen to have cancer, but I did choose to fight it and believe in a  positive outcome. Let’s own up to the decisions we’ve made and change our perspective a little, there’s no going back.

Today I wear Bobbi Brown lipstick in Chocolate.  It’s actually a soft , creamy medium brown which on me has a hint of a plummy undertone (probably my lips).  It’s great for fall and not as dark as it sounds or looks.  I chose it because it was my birthday and I love Chocolate (as well as the color).

Memories

4 Oct

This past week I went to dinner with a group of girls, well women, that I was in a sorority with in college.  It was a mini-reunion of sorts.  Most of them I hadn’t seen in twenty years.  Prior to attending I debated going of course.  I wondered what we would still have in common after all these years.  I wondered if we would be able to keep a conversation (of course we would, we’re women after all).   I even wondered if I  still looked good, young, etc to go (dumb, I know), I mean we’re ALL twenty years older.  Anyhow, I stopped wondering and stopped looking for excuses and went.  It was great, it actually felt the same as it did 20 years ago.  I wasn’t close to all of these women back in college (some were younger, some older), but we had things in common.  We all went to the same college, lived in the same house, knew the same stories, and had memories from that time we could all laugh about.  I was also able to see one of my roommates and closest friends, Anne.  I believe the last time I physically saw her was as a bridesmaid at my wedding almost 20 years ago.  She still lives far away, but the timing was right and she happened to be in town.  Most of us are married, most of us are moms, and more than likely, most of us struggle with similar things on a daily basis.  We shared lots of laughs and memories of old boyfriends and different events (some of which I don’t think I wanted to remember).  It was not time wasted.

Me and Anne

I read a quote which said, ‘ Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.’ The Wonder Years  The simple line that struck me was, ‘the things you are.’  Our memories, our past make us who we are today; we can’t erase or forget them.  Having cancer and going on that roller-coaster ride of emotions and memories I would rather forget has made me the person I am right this minute.  I am more self-aware and more selfish with my time, but I am also, stronger and braver.  As much as I want to move forward and forget the past few years, I realize that it’s the past that has given me this current strength.  We cannot live in the past and we also cannot base our lives on the memory of how we used to be.  We grow and mold ourselves daily based on our experiences and new memories.  Use your memories, both good and bad, to help you become wiser and stronger.

Today I wear Mally High Shine Liquid Lipstick in Blossom-a beautiful mauvey/plum because everyday, we blossom into someone new.

Next…

21 Sep

OK, I admit it, I’ve been neglecting the rest of my body (from the neck down, that is).  For the past four years I have been back and forth to the hospital because of the cancer that keeps coming back to my neck, add in all the mood swings and craziness, well, my neck has been my sole focus for a long time.  What’s worse is that when cancer cells were found again last June, I got mad at the rest of my body.  I stopped exercising, I ate more junk food and candy, I drank a little more, etc…I thought to myself that if my body wasn’t going to cooperate, well, I’ll do what I want.

Since my recent ultrasound showed no tumors and now that my body is totally out of shape and feels like jello, I’m done.  I will be nicer to my body while I reacquaint myself with everything outside of my neck.  I am starting with a mammogram.  I am officially two years late on getting my baseline reading so today, my ‘girls’ will get special treatment and recognition.  I pray that they have no special ‘friends’ that have been hanging around with them.  I am also going to start exercising again, not just my body, but also my vocal cords.  I have allowed my cords to get tight and now, I definitely cannot sing and after a full day of talking, I end my days with a sore throat.

As fall in Michigan starts and the leaves begin changing colors, I will make peace with the rest of me.  We are given one life and one body and there are very few things we can control.  Despite the invasion of my neck, I can and should continue giving the rest of me my best (and you should too).  Treat your body well and once again, since it is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month and thyroid cancer is one of the top cancer’s on the rise, check your neck!

Today I wear Nars-Fire Down Below (a matte blood red), because my body below my neck is screaming for attention!

Encouragement

8 Sep

Have you ever been on the corkscrew roller coaster?  Well, that’s me, my emotions; not just easy twists and turns but jerky-whiplash-causing sudden turns.  I know I used the roller coaster analogy already, but this time I’m not talking just about the extreme up and down, I’m talking about the uncontrollable twists and turns…the corkscrew.  I do love a good roller coaster.  I finally had my follow up ultrasound this week to check if any of the cancer cells found on my PET scan last June had developed into visible tumors in my neck.  After the radiation techs did the initial test, they left to call the physician in.  As I laid there I thought about every possible case scenario (of course the worst is what I thought of first).  I thought of things like, what if there is tumor, a fourth surgery is extremely risky, radiation is out of the question, who do I call first, what should I tell my new boss, what if I cry in front of my doctor (which I hate doing), what if I’m not strong enough to hear the results?…I had to stop myself, my thoughts alone were making me cry.  I took a deep breath and tried to empty my mind.  When the doctor came in, he said ‘hello’ and said he’s always happy and sad to see me.  He said he loves seeing me because I’m a good patient, but he’s always sad because most of the time he’s the one that tells me there’s tumors in my neck again. Anyhow, he looked at my results and said, there’s nothing there, NOTHING!  For a moment I felt blank, not happy, not sad, but blank.  I think I didn’t believe him so I asked what he meant and he just said, there are no tumors and hopefully we won’t need to meet again for awhile.  WOW, big sharp turn.  I left there not completely believing it, it was and still is that hesitant joy that cancer patients feel.  My endocrinologist called me shortly afterward and said “Congratulations,”  followed by…”We’re still going to watch closely, let’s wait 4 months until the next scan.”  OK, so I buy another 4 months…I’ll take it.

I have to say, what is so awesome about this journey is the outpouring of support.  Now with the book, this blog, and my book’s fan page on Facebook, I not only get support from friends and family, but I receive encouraging words from complete strangers.  It overwhelms me that in our supposedly uncaring, selfish society there are so many rays of light!  I have made my journey public, but think about those who suffer in private.  We all want love and support.  Think about the people God has placed around you every single day and the power of an encouraging word.  I went through the McDonald’s drive thru and the girl’s voice was so pleasant that when I pulled up, I told her she had one of the nicest voices in a drive-thru I ever heard and that she was doing a great job.  I drove off with her beaming.  Thank you to all those who reached out to me but also consider those around you.  One word of encouragement can change a person’s face, demeanor, day, and even outlook.  For me, I will try to be more consistent about it because I know I need it and everyone has something going on.  Give it a shot and of course, wear that red lipstick!

My lipstick for this week is Kat Von D Lipstick in Hellbent, a rich red with a more blue base.  I chose it for the name because I am hellbent on kicking cancer!

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