#200 - Not Totally Happy to End Blog
Remembering December 13, 2016
It's been 2 years since I rang that bell, ending radiation and months of treatment for breast cancer. I think it's time to end this blog with its 200 complaints... but I'm only partly happy about that.
I was pretty happy, when this photo was taken 2 years ago! I look pretty festive, in my shiny wig and bright green sweater. I loved that day, handing out hugs and thanks and candy canes!
December 15, 2017
A year later, I wore that green sweater again, at my daughter-in-law's graduation. Those were busy times, between my son's fall wedding and my daughter's spring wedding.
I rarely had a moment to remember that cancer was something I had ever experienced... except on those days when my crazy, curly, chemo hair acted up.
December 11, 2018
Recently, that sweater popped out again, when I went to volunteer with my senior groups. This photo shows just a few of the dear folks who have kept me smiling and laughing these past years.
That green sweater is a reminder that it's been 2 years since I dealt with cancer treatment. Since I first wore that sweater, I've put on a few pounds, added some wrinkles and I've lost most of my curls... but I'm pretty much the old me.
I've enjoyed griping and celebrating in this old blog. It's time to move on. Cheers to future healthy years!
#199 - Don't Like Time Flying By
It's October 2018!
How could it be October again? It's scary how fast time is going. It was a year ago, that I went to visit my favorite barber in Richmond, TX. I was so excited to show him how my hair had grown in.
Today, I went to visit A.D. again. He was as cheery and welcoming as he was last year. We both laughed together about when we met 2 years ago. I had come in with my prickly-patchy hair, days after completing my last chemo treatment. I had asked him to shave my head so I could start with a nice blank slate.
2 years ago A.D. didn't admit how nervous he was when I begged him to use the straight edge razor.
"When else will I ever get this chance?" I grinned. He did as I asked and it was the happiest, most positive day of my cancer phase. Being A.D.'s first woman client in his 50+ years of work, was a lot more fun than ringing the bell at the Oncologist's office.
So I hate to see time fly by so fast. But I am glad to know I've got almost 2 years down, taking Letrozole! Just 3 more years of that stupid hormone blocking drug, that lowers my chances of cancer recurrence.
Time is going fast. But I'm doing lots, to give myself more time and years to enjoy!
#198 - Don't Like Labs
Oncologist's Festive Office
Early in July I went in for my routine blood work. I chuckled with the staff about the silly Christmas tree, decorated in Fourth of July flags. We laughed and gabbed and I looked forward to getting my appointment scratched off my calendar.
But something was a little off with my lab results. "Probably nothing, but let's redo your labs in a couple weeks."
That made me grumpy.
Yesterday, I went in to re-do the blood work. It was the day after returning from a 15-day trip. I was grumpy.
I wasn't grumpy about needles and labs. I wasn't feeling post-vacation cranky either. I was missing my kids. Our trip had involved the move of my daughter and her husband to Portland, Oregon. In 8 months, both kids have gotten married and moved west. California and Oregon are wonderful places to visit, but there's a lot of adjusting for all of us!
Quiet in the Chemo Room
I may have been grouchy, but the staff was upbeat and chatty.
After I had my blood drawn, I was invited to sit in one of the loungy-chemo-chairs, while I waited on results. It felt odd. It's been 2 years since I sat in one of those chairs. I felt so out of place... too healthy to be in that room.
I noticed the wig stands, lining the windowsill. They looked a little creepy. Were they always there? I think I would remember that. I asked a nurse about them and she told me they were donated wigs and that so many people need them and appreciate the donations.
I thought about my old wig, hiding in my closet at home. Why do I still have that, when it could actually make someone happy? I don't need to keep it. If I'm unlucky enough to have to do this again, I deserve a new wig. That thought made me feel better. Then the nurse came out with my results. "Amazing labs!" She said, handing me a print out, with lots of numbers, that meant little to me. But I liked her good words and that made me happy.
The Best Thought
Being back at the office, was the reminder I needed. It was time to stop moping about the kids being out west.
I reminded myself that I wouldn't have been able to take a 15-day trip, 2 years ago. Instead of sulking, I thought about how good it was, spending time with Heidi and Jamie in Portland and later in Seattle, when Scott and Chali joined us. We just have too much fun to let distance become a huge issue. We have no plans for our next reunion, but it might be time to start planning.
#197 - Don't Like... ?????
What's Not to Like?
I can't find a title, because I'm feeling nothing negative!!
But there is one negative thing! I got the results of my biopsy today and all is NEGATIVE! Which is a good word with a biopsy!! I'm not going down that cancer road again!
I'm getting away from this computer and running downstairs to have a glass of wine with Don. I need to celebrate AND thank him! He has been patient and supportive with me, during this week of total grumpiness! Love this guy!
I had my biopsy Friday. It was strange to be back with the same radiologist from two years ago... getting another stupid biopsy.
On May 24, 2016, I remember having a stress headache and asking Dr. G's assistant to turn off the radio. I remember Dr. G being chatty and upbeat and reassuring, before he did the biopsy. But nothing could ease my worry. I remember feeling stunned at the bad news, when he called, 4 days later. I remember pacing and agonizing over telling the kids and how relieved I was, once we spoke on the phone. Calling the kids had been the hardest part of the whole cancer thing.
So I'm once again waiting for results. My husband of course knows, but there's no reason to share with anyone else. I want to be a hermit and stay busy at home, but there are 3 days ahead with a graduation party, a dinner with friends, my book club and volunteer work.
I go about my business and try not to dwell, but every time I manage to forget, I'm reminded. There are way too many cancer commercials on TV! My mail just delivered a complimentary CARE magazine and I don't want to look at a cancer magazine. My computer popped up with a sassy little ad announcing, "Cancer won't take a vacation this summer..."
I want to yell, "Leave me alone!"
I dread my social engagements, but I do a good job and stay pretty chipper. It doesn't feel fake. I know it does me good. But when I'm at home, it's clear that I have depleted my "good mood minutes". I'm grumpy and Poor Old Don has to put up with me. We try to talk summer plans, but I'm unenthused. Why plan, when I might be "doing cancer" this summer? When I head out to meet my book club, I'll have to have my phone handy and what if I get The Call???
I hate waiting, but it's still easier than 2 years ago. If my news is bad, I'll be mad. But I won't be as scared.
#195- Don't Like Those Phone Calls
I Used to Like May
May is a happy month. Spring and flowers, graduations and parties. Getting my cancer diagnosis 2 years ago, put a little damper on my May in 2016. But in May of 2017, I had my 6 month mammogram and ultrasound, after my treatments and all was good.
Now May is the month for my annual Well Woman Exam, Mammogram & Ultra Sound. How great that I only have to go once a year, like most women!!
On Tuesday, I got lost going to my imaging place. No one mentioned the office had moved. But I found it eventually and I was pleased! It's closer to home and it's a whole lot nicer. It was new and fresh, with better gowns, plus coffee and biscotti. And there was hardly a wait!
I didn't even mind the mammogram. The new Genius 3D machine was sleek and new and Cheryl made the whole thing painless. I remember her from 2 years ago, when I was a nervous mess, with concerns about a suspicious lump.
I went in for my ultrasound next. I laughed with Sam about the Zen-like atmosphere and how confused I was by the fancy gowns with 3 arm holes. I felt relaxed, because this is my second year. I know the routine.
But the pressure of the ultrasound tool hurt a little? Is that stupid little fluid cyst thing that came about after my lumpectomy, getting larger? Ouch.
The very next day, I went to see J., my nurse practitioner. I've had her doing my Well Woman exams for over 15 years. She is the very best and I feel comfortable gabbing about anything with her. She knew I'd done my imaging duties, but I felt an extra lift knowing that she was also doing a breast exam. She felt my cyst and didn't seem concerned. Yay! In two days I got those 2, dreaded annual tasks crossed off my list.
Two Hours Later
I got home from my exam and did a little jig before lunch. "Oh boy! Done for a year!" Then two hours later I got a call from the radiologist. Dr. G. said he saw some changes in my mammogram and ultrasound images. He recommended a biopsy. My heart sunk. Two years ago, Dr. G recommended a biopsy after viewing my results and it turned out to be cancer. I really hadn't prepared myself for the possibility. I don't go around fearing cancer.
So, I had celebrated too soon. I had assumed all was well, when I did my happy dance. Being told I needed a biopsy felt different this time. The weight of those words made my body slump, but I didn't have the same fear of the unknown. I went ahead and made my biopsy appointment for June 1 and I sulked. "I hate May." My high mood, suddenly went flat. I so do not want to do this all over again! But I'm a different person than 2 years ago. I felt more angry and irritated than weepy. Then I felt feisty. "If it's back, then I know how to do this. And if I have do all of it again, with chemo, then I'm getting a Pixie Cut, early on. Why mess with these chemo curls. I'll show them!
So we'll see. Biopsy tomorrow, then the waiting on results period. I'll wait to click "post" until I'm ready. This is not something I'm sharing with the world just yet.
#194 - Don't Like Friend Worries
It's May Again
Two years ago my cancer worries started. I did all my treatments, fretted about my hair re-growth and then I was finished.
I was done thinking about myself. Recently, it seems like all my worries have turned towards friends.
It was over years ago when my friend, "A" suddenly faced cancer. I couldn't imagine what that would be like. Then suddenly I was the anxious one, facing the unknowns of breast cancer. A's pep-talks and honesty-chats, were a welcome relief. Now A is facing cancer, again. I think of her daily and wish she hadn't moved so far away.
"C" was once a neighbor who shared my taste in movies, humor, politics, books and more. Since moving 10 years ago, we've never lost touch, thanks to technology. She supported me throughout my bad months and celebrated with me in person, when I had a short crop of hair. Now, C is finishing up her own radiation treatments for breast cancer. I stressed along with her, when she was awaiting results. No chemo for C, but she and I share that same label now. We've had cancer and that never changes.
Recently my neighbor of 20 years, had a scare. "L" has had biopsies before, but this one was different. While she was waiting on her results, I stewed along with her. I thought about how she was there for her own mother, when she lost her battle. I thought about how L was at my door 2 years ago, after I told her of my diagnosis. She offered support, advice and positive distraction over those months... even fashion advice, when it was time for wig purchasing.
Durning those agonizing days after L's biopsy, I wasn't much help. L was keeping herself distracted by packing her house to move. I fretted that her diagnosis would be positive. How does one face a move, with cancer? How could I help her? She would soon be out of casserole-delivery-range!
When I got word that all was clear for L, I felt almost as relieved as if it had been my own news. She was giddy and so was I. But there was a moment when L grew serious and admitted that this was an odd celebration to share. She paused from her exuberance to realize that I hadn't been able to experience her same joy, when my positive results came in. I was touched that she could look beyond her own relief and acknowledge our different reactions. "That's true." I thought to myself, amazed at how I hadn't even thought of that on my own.
I'm sad that so many are dealing with cancer scares these days. I'm sad that A, C, L and I share things in common like biopsies, radiation and chemo. I liked it better when we just had books in common... back when we were in our book club, drinking wine and gabbing. I'm sad that I've had to watch each of these friends move away, but I'm so incredibly grateful to live in 2018. There are amazing ways to diagnose and treat this horrible cancer thing, if and when we get it. But there are also amazing ways to stay connected like never before. We've come a long way since staying in touch meant, letter writing and expensive long distance phone calls!
#193 - Don't Like Excuses
Actually I like good excuses. They come in handy. 2 years ago I had the cancer excuse, when I felt like. I don't think I ever really abused that. But it was nice to suddenly have an excuse to stay home and read. Mostly, it was a good excuse to take a look at my life and routines, friends and "work" and to decide what's important. We shouldn't need excuses for that.
I've been growing hair back over a year. It was kind of nice having an excuse for my bad hair days. I also had a great excuse for trying out new hair-dos. I never would have been bold enough to choose a pixie cut. It just suddenly appeared.
Now my curls are straightening. I won't be able to blame all my bad hair days on chemo curls forever. Yes, I'm already sort of missing the curls that drove me nuts. My hair still misbehaves terribly, but I don't spend any time on it, either. I love being able to just let it dry in the air... in whatever way it chooses.
I often wonder how much cancer has aged me. I recently laughed with the henna artist who decorated my hand at an Indian Hindu wedding. I was hoping she could cover my veins and age spots.
My knees and toes feel a little arthritic, too. I assumed all this recent stiffness was due to old age. I noticed the symptoms a year ago when I turned 60. My oncologist suggested I stop Letrozol, (my hormone blocking med) for a month, since joint pain is a possible side effect. Nothing changed and I was a tiny bit relieved to just go ahead and take the meds for 4 more years. I don't want to be tempted to stop the drug that lowers my chances of cancer recurrence. I guess I'll just act like an old person and finish my morning run, with a wincing, slow-motion stoop to get the newspaper off the sidewalk.
What Has Changed?
Has cancer changed me? Do I need an excuse for extra wrinkles or achy joints?
It's been almost 2 years since Don and I posed with our kids. The photo was taken a couple weeks before diagnosis. Not that much has changed besides my hair... and Scott's.
The few changes have been good ones, like both kids being married. All 6 of are healthy and happy and I know not to take that for granted.
I also know to appreciate every moment we're together, whether we're traveling together or just on the phone talking.
No Excuses Needed
After pondering over excuses, I decided my aching joints (which really aren't that bad) were a good excuse for using some of my sweet scented, pampering gifts.
I soaked in the tub and I realized... I don't need an excuse for this.
Lounging is Good
Tub soaks and rocking chairs and lounging in general, is plain good for you. Especially, if it leads to some kind of good thought.
While soaking, I thought about the ridiculous noun, excuse. It's a negative word, associated with blame. I've decided to use that word as little as possible. If I just swap it out with the word motivation, it takes away the blaming tone. Nobody is blaming me for having a bad hair day. I need no excuse. My cancer was a motivation for change, not an excuse to change.
Ahhh. I feel much better now. If only I had a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a rocking chair. No one needs an excuse of old age or cancer, to enjoy that scene!
#192 - Don't Like Mug Shots
Time to Renew
It's time to renew my passport, which means getting a new photo.
Just over a year ago I had to renew my driver's license. Chemo was over, but I was still wearing a wig, when they snapped my photo for that new i.d. Rats. 10 years with a wig license.
Today I cringed when I got my passport pic taken at CVS. Why didn't I put on the darn wig? I just left the house without really looking at myself. That is some ugly hair and I can hardly blame it on chemo at this point.
My chemo curls are wilting. This is a dreadful look. So now I have a wig license and a wilted chemo curl passport!
But... I'm healthy and I can travel. Yay.
#191 - Don't Like Wasting Time
I thought I had learned something about priorities during my cancer. I learned not to sweat the small stuff... and all that. But lately I've wasted time ranting over a lot of stupid things. And with a wedding in 2 weeks, my focus should be elsewhere.
Returning a Valentine
I thought this silly Hallmark card (which included a record) would be a dandy surprise. The day after V-Day, I went back to the store and said "I need to return this card." I complained that the 13-dollar purchase played poorly on both sides. "No, I don't have the receipt." I explained. "It didn't occur to me that I'd be returning a Valentine card." No luck there.
Two weeks later I was still bugged by this "45" that couldn't be played and I called Hallmark. The woman I spoke to handed me over to the woman above her. I had to explain what a record was and I still don't think she understood. She offered me a $5.00 gift card, but I told her that wouldn't do. My complaint was sent to corporate. Oh my.
Mother of the Bride... in Red
I ordered a dress from Neiman Marcus, online. It was a lovely $400. dress, marked down to less than $100. It was a classy, mother of the bride dress in soft gray. It was the last one and it was my size. 10 days later this sexy red thing in the wrong size arrived. The back was cut low and the nice little hole in front made a statement. I called NM and they were sorry. The dress I had ordered was gone.
I complained enough that they offered to let me keep the red dress, with an extra 10 percent off. That was ridiculous. I returned the dress and shopped elsewhere.
Driving to California a couple weeks ago, was not a waste of time. Don and I were helping our son and daughter-in-law with their move to Sacramento. But when we returned 10 days later we had to face our usual mail issues. Vacation Hold, never ever works for us!
We thought our held mail had been delivered, but began to wonder if we'd gotten it all. After a week, I went to the post office to check. The man at the special door gave me a box of mail with our yellow card on top. I pointed to the card, "This says it was supposed to be delivered a week ago." "Well," he shrugged. "We've got a temporary carrier in your area. You know anyone who wants a job?" When I got home I went through the mail and discovered 5 Sports Illustrated magazines and numerous pieces of mail that belonged to other homes and businesses. I returned to the post office to complain. I got very little satisfaction out of that.
I needed to complain and I'm done.
Now I'll just sigh about the rainbow we saw in California and the snow covered mountains we flew over...
Mostly, I'm going to think about what's ahead in 2 weeks! I'm going to remind myself to be grateful for my good health, knowing that I will be able to enjoy every minute of Heidi and Jamie's special day!!
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast CANCER and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. This time it was the invasion of COVID and it affected every person. I ranted for a year, until I got my COVID vaccine in March 2021.
CORONARY Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was my hubby Don, who was dealing with a worry that started with the letter "C".
Coronavirus and Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease! All are evil, but none can totally get me down... if I vent! I usually end up feeling a little more positive at the end of each post!
Navigating This Mess!
The most recent post is at the top, from coronary posts in 2022, back to cancer posts in 2016.
To find past posts, look below the "Archives" section, to find "Categories".