Archive for November, 2012

As I sat down in my reconstructive surgeon’s waiting room at Brigham and Women’s this afternoon for the first time in months, I had this strange surge of emotion. My mind immediately jumped back to May when I was sitting in the very same seat, furiously texting with the guy I was seeing. I remember fighting back tears as I typed, so depressed because everyone else in the waiting room was holding the hand of a significant other except me – and part of me blamed him for not being there even though I didn’t even tell him I had the appointment that day. I knew that didn’t make sense, but not much made sense at that time.

Sitting there today, I thought of how far I’ve come. Today I breezed in there smiling, confidently bald (can I still call it that with the baby hair on my head?), rushing straight from work; in stark contrast to months ago when I slowly trudged down the hospital hall in sweats and no makeup, feeling like all the life had been sucked out of me – and unable to see beyond the devastating moment.

While I don’t love my current situation, I accept it. While I don’t like being bald, I can handle it. And while it would be great to have some incredible guy by my side, I would rather be alone than with the wrong one, or one who doesn’t want to be here.

I’ve even come to terms with radiation. Today was the first step: partially deflating my left breast so it doesn’t get in the way during radiation. I talked through things with Dr. H and he assured me that while this will be longer, it’s the right order and he will do everything he can when it’s his turn. I felt better when I left – although it’s hard getting used to one smooshy breast (like those squishy gel toys) and one that’s hard as a rock! February can’t come soon enough – that’s when I’ll visit Dr. H again and get reinflated. And hopefully I will be able to schedule the surgery then, too, depending how I did through radiation – which I am determined will go well.

For at least the moment, my overwhelmingly positive and determined attitude has returned. I started today practically giddy (I even warned several people). Why? Because today is Tuesday and for the first time in months, I got to go to work! (AKA – No more chemo!) And not only did I get to go to work, but I started the day welcoming people at New Hire Orientation, which I always find invigorating. So by the time I was back in my office, I was raring to go! If only I could bottle that feeling…

Giving Tuesday

I couldn’t let today go by without mentioning Giving Tuesday. Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this is a day to use your money to make a real difference. It doesn’t have to be today – I know, it is quite late – but can be any day of the year. In fact, I will once again be purchasing most of my Christmas gifts online here:

  • Dana-Farber – Our Giving Catalog is full of gifts that benefit adult and pediatric patients and advance Dana-Farber’s lifesaving mission. Gifts range from supporting clinical trials to stocking our toy closet.

After making your selection and donation, you can either send someone an e-card or print cards to give as gifts. I think people will appreciate it as much this year as they did last. I know it’s certainly more personal to me this year, and there’s no present I’d rather than this.

Read Full Post »

Last night I went to my (gulp) 20 year high school reunion. And I had an absolute blast. The only bad thing was that it wasn’t long enough and many of us couldn’t believe it when the bar was kicking us out because they wanted to close. Of course, Nicole (one of my closest school friends) and I ended up talking even longer in my car until we realized that we better both get on the road before we were too tired to drive. The whole thing wiped me out so much that I slept until 1:30 this afternoon and never got out of my pjs!

I spent much of the day (once I finally woke up) replaying some of last night’s conversations in my head. It was a lot like speed dating, in that there were so many people to talk to with that you mainly had fairly short, but hopefully meaningful, spurts of dialogue. Then something would happen to push you apart, and although you said you’d be back, the time flew by so fast, inevitably that was the end of the discussion. 10 years – which is when most of us were last together, at our last reunion – is just too long. Even with Facebook.

And then there were many that you never even got to connect with – again, because time ran out – and several more that weren’t able to be there at all. So many missed!

But then there were the gems of the night – the real food for thought…

  • about love – that if it’s right, it can last, even if you met in school. And if you haven’t found your love yet, make sure that you hold out for the right person, that he or she is out there, and until then, enjoy dating and ‘companionship.’
  • about life – know that you can start over whenever and wherever you want. It’s all up to you and only you can stop you.
  • about friendship – that it doesn’t matter how many years go by, there are some people you will always instantly click and feel comfortable with. And often they are the ones to introduce you to new people who are destined to become your new friends.
  • about people – that everyone has a story, if you’ll only listen.
  • about acceptance – that if you are honest, open and comfortable with yourself, they will appreciate and accept you for who you are.

Many people asked how I was doing, and others simply offered words of support – my favorite was the big, long bear hug and the whispered words of “you know what I’m saying, right?” I know – and thank you!

Read Full Post »

There are countless things to be thankful for every single day. And when bad things happen to you, it just gives more opportunity for the good things to shine through. While we should continually be saying ‘thank you,’ Thanksgiving provides us all the perfect platform. So here is just a very small sampling of the many, many things I am thankful for…

  • that I am here to be able to say thank you
  • early detection
  • my crazy, loving, unbelievable family here, in Florida (Tennessee), West Virginia, etc.
  • Nicholas George Tull Atwood – and that there is only one of him! 😉
  • friends – old and new, close and distant, who provide distractions (whether big like Nashville or small like WWF), make you laugh, let you cry, take you to Outback, join you at chemo or just wish they could
  • long walks and talks, planning sessions and Pinkberry
  • people who stick by your side, even when they are going through so much themselves and it’s not easy for them to do so
  • people who tell you what they think, even when they know it’s not what you want to hear
  • cards, e-mails, texts, facebook posts, calls just because
  • hand made cards and crafts by (and hugs from) children who love you and just want to help make you feel better – and do!
  • little boys who have pink birthday cakes
  • Dana-farber, the Jimmy Fund and Brigham and Women’s
  • doctors, nurses, researchers and all healthcare workers who not only treat you but care
  • organizations like the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, Bright Pink, Gloria Gemma and so many others that raise awareness and funds for research, and help people with cancer in countless ways including to feel better about themselves
  • that I live now, when cancer is not an automatic death sentence and treatments have come so far…
  • that side effects will fade, my hair will grow back and with a little effort when I get my energy back, I can lose the weight I’ve gained during treatment
  • Genzyme and the incredibly supportive people who work there
  • running friends who inspire and encourage me
  • music, movies and books you can escape into
  • Boston, the best city for practically everything – at least the best city for me, now – wouldn’t want to be anywhere else
  • Cape Cod, the ocean, the healing power of just being by the water
  • that I was born an optimist
  • that people love me even when I’m the Wicked Witch
  • that every day is a new opportunity to start over
  • all the people who have added me to their prayer lists around the world, and all the people who don’t know me but pray for me, send me positive vibes or simply wish me well

I could go on and on and on – I know I’m leaving so much out! – but we all have friends, family and turkey to get to, so I will leave it at that… Happy Thanksgiving, all, and thank YOU for caring about me and my family and reading this blog. What are you thankful for?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »