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Archive for August, 2013

I am frustrated. (Hmmm… I don’t think this is the first time I’ve started a blog entry with those words!) Ever since March 2012 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my dear friend Heather said “We are doing the Jimmy Fund Marathon Walk in your honor!” I’ve wanted to walk the full 26.2 miles. Last year I was still going through chemo, and hadn’t even begun radiation, so was only able to do the last five miles with the team. I said this was going to be my year!

Now it’s looking like it’s not. No worries, it’s not severe health related or anything truly bad like that, it’s just about listening and being smart. You see (maybe you should sit down, this is such a shock coming from me), I have a lot planned on September 8.

  • First there is the Jimmy Fund Boston Marathon Walk. I intended to walk the full 26.2 miles, beginning at 6:30 in the morning and guesstimating being done about 2 p.m.
  • Then it’s my cousin Rick’s wedding late that afternoon in Wrentham…
  • And as if that isn’t enough for one day, I need to then get to Logan for a 10:30 p.m. flight to Paris. (Yes, Paris – for work.)

At first it was like “great – you’ll be so tired, you’ll conk right out and sleep the whole plane ride!” Ah, but I can’t! We can’t forget the delightful lymphedema in my right arm! I was told that I will need to be up exercising it and walking around every hour of the flight – oh, because of the fear of blood clots, too, because of the tamoxifen. And this is also if my arm isn’t already swollen from the intense walk…

So my close friends and family have all chimed in. And there has not been one person who is in favor of my doing the whole 26.2. In fact, some have quite vehemently told me I will NOT be doing the full walk. (Note: when told I absolutely cannot do something, that usually makes me want to do it even more.) Arrrggghhhhh!!! Why does it all have to be on the same day???

But none of those dates and times are in my control. What is in my control is my body. And how much I put it through that day (and every other). Sometimes I forget I’m not superwoman. That I have limitations. (I know, this blog is full of shockers tonight, huh?) I honestly don’t want to be in pain or have an abnormally huge right arm for my Paris trip. I want to actually be in the work meetings I will be there for, not in a Paris hospital, simply because I was stubborn and insisted on doing it all.

So that’s that. I will only walk the half marathon: 13.1 miles. I’m trying to get over the feeling of letting people down by not walking the whole thing. I feel like I’m letting everyone down (not really sure who everyone is, but just everyone). The Jimmy Fund. Dana-Farber. Everyone who is donating to my walk. Myself. I know in my head that it’s not true; no one else feels that I’m letting them down. I will keep reminding myself that. And I will remember that, thanks to Dana-Farber and all the awesome doctors, researchers, nurses and everyone there, I am here and able to walk and raise money to help kick cancer!

And thank you to everyone who has sponsored me and my team – Team Inspire Boston – so far. I’m one-third of the way to my personal goal, and a quarter of the way to our team goal, all thanks to YOU! If you haven’t yet donated, please visit my personal donation page – even a few dollars – every cent counts and helps us conquer this horrid disease! Or even better: join us for the walk! Any distance is welcome! Go to Team Inspire Boston to sign up and enter code JF2013 for $5 off the registration fee. We’d so love to have you cross the finish line with us!

Oh, and speaking of Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund – it’s the annual telethon, which Nick and I were part of this year… and I guess in a way this year, too. I just saw this pop up in my Facebook Newsfeed from The Jimmy Fund:

jimmyfundtelethonCrazy to think that I looked like that one year ago. Boy, am I happy to have hair again! But if (literally) baring my head helped inspire someone to donate and help #KCancer, it was worth it!!!

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Nick told me that I am the most tense/stressed person he’s ever met. He’ll often come up behind me and knead my shoulder for a second and then just shake his head. So I made an attempt to de-stress a bit by taking a couple of days off last week, scheduling a massage and going to a couple of concerts with friends.

Well, I can’t say I really succeeded in completely de-stressing, as I worked through one of my days off (although it was nice doing it from the comfort of my home…), and while the massage was nice, I really didn’t feel very different (other than wanting a nap) after. But I did have a great realization while at the massage parlor. They had me fill out a bunch of forms, asking about all sorts of health-related issues, and when I got to the line that said “Numbness/tingling?” I froze. Oh my gosh. No. Really? I wiggled my toes. I touched each of my fingers to my thumbs. And then did it all over again. It’s gone!!!! I have complete feeling back in my fingers and toes!!!! I am so thankful to have another chemo side effect gone! That realization alone was worth the cost of the massage.

I did really relax at the concerts: Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, the Eli Young Band and Kacey Musgraves, on both Friday and Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. What’s better than tailgating, singing (screaming) and dancing with thousands of your closest friends? 😉 Incredible shows – the last two of the tour – and great company!

So while I’m probably still the most tense person Nick knows, at least I am one more step further away from the chemo cancer world…

 

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For some reason I find it funny that on the same day that Dana-Farber published my blog on Dating and Cancer 101, I went to the House of Blues to see Pat Benatar sing Love is a Battlefield. Yes, I’m a child of the 80s and much of what I learned about love was through lyrics.

We are strong
No one can tell us we’re wrong
Searching our hearts for so long
Both of us knowing
Love is a battlefield

And, as anyone who reads this blog regularly or knows me at all knows, I love music. There’s a constant soundtrack to my life and Love is a Battlefield is definitely one that has been a recurring theme!

Back to the blog for Dana-Farber. I would do anything for that place – and to help others going through the nightmare that was my last year. So when Robbin asked if I’d be interested in writing on this topic, I said sure, why not? No, it’s not easy admitting you were lonely and, well, maybe not quite desperate, but desperate for some attention. And some reassurance that you’re not just still attractive, but actually datable.  But if sharing that vulnerability with others helps even just one woman going through treatment know she’s not alone in what she’s feeling and fearing, it’s worth it. So I wrote it and it debuted on Dana Farber’s blog and Facebook page today.

What’s also kind of funny is that while the experience I wrote about for the blog took place a year ago, I’m in a similar place now. The only real difference is I have some real hair back – which is a very big thing, I must say. And I’m not going through treatment, so definitely look and feel healthier. And with all that comes more self-confidence, which is really everything.  Every day I get another inch further away from the cancer patient label and back to my prefered regular girl designation. But as far as dating goes, it’s not that different cancer or no cancer. Either way, love is a battlefield…

With my friends Gail and Abby at the Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo concert at The House of Blues in Boston.

With my friends Gail and Abby at the Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo concert at The House of Blues in Boston.

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The other night I was at a family party, laughing and eating and chatting away with everyone, when another guest arrived. She walked slowly, tentatively as if it hurt to move. She wore a heavy coat even though it’s August because she gets chilled so easily. And her face was pale, with sunken eyes. I heard one of her relatives whispering about her having just taken a Compazine to try to calm the nausea. 

A feeling of nausea suddenly rushed over me – it brought me right back to one year ago. Getting poked repeatedly to try to find a decent vein for the IV before we gave up and had the port put in. Feeling sick on the way to the hospital just because I knew what was coming. Sitting in the big comfy infusion chair, wrapped in heated blankets. Trying to smile and laugh as my family and friends tried to distract me and keep my spirits up, as the poison rushed through my veins. Feeling loopy on the ride home – and then sick for days.

I am so lucky. That was a short period in time for me – and every day it gets buried further in my past and becomes a smaller percentage of my overall life. This woman – as so many others – is not so lucky. It’s too late, they explained to me after she left. They’ve done all they can but it’s spread so much there’s nothing else they can do, except try to keep her comfortable. My heart ached for her and her family. And my mind raced, repeatedly thanking God for letting me find that lump when I did, and for being able to stop the cancer in its tracks.

I am scared all the time. I, like many survivors I know, see Tamoxifen as my wonder drug. As long as I’m on it, it will ward off the recurrence. I should be safe. But what then? There is no telling. A lot can happen in a few years – particularly in research and development. Maybe by then they will be able to not only detect earlier, but prevent – and cure. So I have hope.

It all takes money, though. This is why I’m doing the Jimmy Fund Boston Marathon Walk on Sunday, September 8. I want to do everything I can to stop this monster of a disease. Please join our team – Team Inspire Boston – and walk with us, or sponsor me. You can walk 3 miles, 5 miles, 13.1 miles or the full marathon: 26.2 miles. No matter what you decide – to walk or sponsor us (and no amount is too small – every cent counts!) – you will be helping to kick cancer and helping people like me (and maybe you) live a longer, happier life. Thank you.

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Wandering the North End tonight, we discovered that a Pinkberry – my favorite yogurt place – just opened on Hanover St., diagonal from Mike’s Pastry. Not being able to resist, we joined the line.

When it was my turn, I asked to try cherry, since it’s one flavor I haven’t sampled. As I tasted it, the girl behind the counter kept looking and smiling at me. ‘I just love your curls,’ she finally said. That, of course, caused a huge stupid grin to appear on my face. ‘Thank you so much!’ I exclaimed.

My perma-grin lasted as we got our treats and headed out the door. I turned to Chris and asked, ‘Do you think she knows I had cancer? That she knows I was bald and this is new hair and she’s just being nice?’

‘No,’ he assured me. ‘How could she tell? She just likes your hair. It’s beautiful. No one can tell.’

And that just made my night. Maybe my week. So the next time you see a stranger – or someone you know, doesn’t matter – and you like their hair or their shoes or their dog or their super polite children, tell them. Smile and say it. I bet you’ll make their day.

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