You!

Pink Ink…

2008 Throwback picture! 3 generations...

2008 Throwback picture! 3 generations…

Happy New Year!

That’s right!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Sounds crazy huh?  Well it is my Mini Me’s birthday, and also the 1st day of school!   So in a lot of ways, it’s the beginning of a new year!  Time passes by so quickly.  So much has happened in a month, that I can’t possibly address it today.  It has been filled with a few good times, and LOTS of pain.  Pain I have only seen when I had my mastectomy and last summer when I had the crippling headaches.  But rather than go through all of that…today…I thought I would take a few minutes to honor my Mini Me.

In November of last year, I remember praying and crying and praying and crying that I would MAKE it to see my Mini Me’s 11th birthday.  You see, when it sinks in that you are terminal, at 1st you spend a bit of time wondering “when”.  After a while, after a bit of trial and error, I  learned to focus on the time that we have.  That we have NOW to spend together.  This year has definitely had it’s ups and downs, especially the last few weeks.  But for the most part, it has been as good as can be expected.

They've take out 3 liters s far!

They’ve taken out 3 liters so far!

I am constantly amazed by my daughter’s strength.  I know most parents think their kids are awesome, and I am no different.  But I am also honest.  Sometimes she makes me want to scream.  After all, she is a preteen!  Two weeks ago, she asked me,  AGAIN, why everything has to be about me, when we are planning something.  Big B grabbed my hand because he knew she was about to “catch a loss”.

Or she makes me laugh.  Example….Recently, I asked her why she thought I was writing the play.  Her answer?  TO BE ON TV!!!  Really?  TO. BE. ON. TV.

So imagine me sitting there explaining to her that I was doing it for HER.  So she would be proud of her mom when I was gone.  So she would know that I always fought, always wanted to educate.  So she could be proud of ME!  She turned to me and laughed.  “I thought it was so you could be on TV”.  WOW.

But then I balance that with her incredible strength while on a quick family getaway a few weeks ago.  It was shortly after my 3rd lung drain.  My meds were not working enough.  All I could do is lay there and cry.  My body was shaking from the pain.  I couldn’t speak through the pain.  I did manage to whisper to her NOT to tell Daddy.  He needed to rest!  (It was his vacay too, after all! )  Lil B and my mom sprung into action…into stealth mode.  Next thing I knew, I had more meds, ice packs, Lil B was wiping my nose.  Wet washcloth on my head.  Then she and mom climbed in bed with me and soothed me until I could finally fall asleep. (Side note! HATS OFF to my mother for allowing a 10 year old to take over and guide this process.  She is of the “you’re the child” generation” so I know this was tough!  Thanks mom) All the while, my dad and hubby were out front enjoying a cocktail and catching up!  A lot of kids would freak out in this situation.  Not my little one.  She even pushed my wheelchair through the airport. Head held high.  Gotta love her.

One of the better days of vacay. 3 Generations!

2013! One of the better days of vacay. 3 Generations!

After my play reading, I was surprised by how many audience members appreciated the “caregiver” scene, where characters acknowledge their caregivers.  Many came up to me and shared that they never thought of kids as caregivers until viewing the play.  Well today I salute my caregiver! My Mini me!

Baby girl, one day you will read this, and hopefully you will know how proud I am of you!  Proud to be your mom! Guided everyday by your strength, your laughter, your love.   I hope you will be proud of me, for everything I do is for you, and daddy.  I hope to be around for many more birthdays, many more 1st days of school.  What ever life brings us, know that I will always be with you, as you have been with me during this journey.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY LOVE!

Unfortunately, I can’t have a cocktail.  (damn meds…)  But today, I celebrate…YOU!

 

UPDATE: I sit with tears streaming down. Typing with one hand. Other hand not working.  I am unable to go to her birthday dinner.  I tried. I stood, I sat back down. No energy. Can’t breathe. Heart. Is. Broken. I saw the heartbreak in her eyes.  She rubbed MY tears.  Told ME to stop crying.  “It’s ok Mommy”. (But it’s not) I apologized through tears. I have never missed one.  She is OF me. Why today of all days?  Transfussion tomorrow…

I PRAY I can make it up to her next year.  Must sign off. #LifeInTheCancerLane

Get Healthy

Pink Ink…

Sitting in the office listening to QParker from old school group 112.  He made a song entitled “I’ll Wear Pink for You”.  Reminded me that I need to give a quick update.  Here is the quick and dirty.

Good news:

The chemo seems to be working.  It has cut the spots on my lungs in half.  Now we know they will always come back, (hence the “incurable” nature of my situation) but at least they are being kept at bay.  The chemo doesn’t wear me out the way the “Red Devil” did. That is a blessing.  I can still do most things.  So Lil B is happy to see me when she steps off the bus.  My hair hasn’t fallen out.  It HAS stopped growing and is VERY dry. But it is hanging on for dear life! Lol My eyebrows remain a little rough looking, and I can’t wax them.  But, again, a small price to pay.

The not so great news:

The chemo is KILLING my platelet count.  I mentioned that before.  Last week I was back in the hospital.  My count dropped to a scary 7,000.  Remember, it is supposed to be around 275k.  So something as simple as flossing my teeth could cause my gums to bleed and not be able to stop.  My blood has developed issues.  Once the easiest kind to match, it now takes a while, and the docs must watch for reactions.  Last week, two of my close friends were privy to one of these reactions.  While I don’t think the reaction scared them, I think they were definitely amused when the drugs they gave me made me totally incoherent!  (Hello, Demerol + IV benedryl) It was actually kind of funny.  In my mind I knew the words I was trying to say.  I tried really hard to get them out.  They sounded like….”klsdfhkjwefuyegpouh..efhvsdpepo”.  Complete nonsense!  Anyway, I was also put on a steroid that shot my blood pressure up into orbit. We are managing that.  This past Monday, I almost couldn’t get chemo b/c I was all jacked up.  But we pushed through.IMG_1108

Hopefully chemo will be done in 2 weeks.  I will lay for a CT scan, to see how much the spots have shrunk.  If all is good, I will have a break from chemo for a couple months!  That is EXACTLY what I want.  A chance to rehabilitate this body.

Despite the war being raged in my body, I am well.  Just VERY tired.  I have had to live in a bubble for a couple weeks. I cannot afford to get sick. But I managed to get out once or twice.  All three Bs are laughing and living.  I am definitely getting the “You don’t look sick” comments again. Don’t be fooled.  But we got this.

IMG_1124So again, thanks for all the love!  February is Heart Health Month.  Take a few minutes and check out http://www.pinkwellchick.com for my Heart Health adventure. You know I have to keep busy, so February is all about Heart Awareness.

Join me, as I…get healthy!

The Same

Pink Ink…

 
Well, I survived my 1st week of Chemo, so I thought I would give a quick update! It has been a crazy week of highs and lows. So buckle up!

 

Last Sunday, the night before chemo, I actually slept really well! I didn’t wake up until about 5am. My plan had been to wake up and WORK OUT before putting Lil B on the bus! Yeah, that didn’t happen. I rolled right back over to enjoy my last 90 minutes of…peace! What do they say? “The best of intentions!” Ha! There were no tears getting on the bus. We all had a sense of “been here before”. We told Lil B to keep her phone on, and sent her on her way! Then it was off to Mayo.

 
The quick and dirty is that I was SCARED TO DEATH of what my emotional reaction would be as I walked into the Chemo Suites. Well you know I believe in “cancerrealtalk”, so full disclosure. The Doc said I could take a Valium before hand. So I took a ½ pill and breezed in! No tears, just a little bit of apprehension. Big B was watching me close b/c he knew at any time I could crack! All the nurses recognized me, and begrudgingly welcomed me back. In fact, Nurse Michele was there the 1st time I had chemo LAST year! Bananas. After 3 attempts at getting in the IV, they called in a special IV nurse, and it worked. So we began. Of course I was nauseous, but thankfully, no actual vomit. Three hours later, I was on my way home.

 
The good news: Compared to last year, not nearly as much nausea! Only took Zophran 3 times this week! I have started to lose appetite and taste buds, but not too bad. I have exercised and eaten healthy all week! I have been able to enjoy my husband and daughter. I am certain this will change, but for now, that is GOOD news!

 

The bad news: I realized I have a bruised rib, hence the swelling and obnoxious pain that has kept me sleep sitting up for 3 nights! I bruised it in Vegas on a shower door…and no alcohol was involved!!!! HA! So I spent half the week on Vicodin at night, just to sleep. Also, if I lay or sit the wrong way, I break into racking coughs. Last night I had my 1st foot cramp in months. That comes from dehydration. I didn’t know I was dehydrated! I couldn’t walk or bend my toes! After an hour, 2 bottles of water, and many tears, I was able to go to sleep.

 
The worst news: One week ago, I felt GREAT! Healthy, full of energy. Now, once again, I feel that my body is not my own. Everything hurts. The feeling of health is fading fast from my memory. I wonder if I will ever know what that feels like again. I had my Port consult. I will have my port put back in, in a week. It will stay in…forever.

 
That’s my medical update.

 
I have been comforted this week, by all the people who continue to reach out to me. Thank you! To those in Charlotte, I hear you! I see your notes and texts! I feel the love across the miles! It is very humbling. I also heard from one of my Northwestern Sorority “Big Sisters”, with whom I had lost contact. When I read her card, silent tears fell. (That “1908” bond is something else.)

 
Tomorrow I have my 2nd round of chemo. I’m ready. Let’s get at it!

 

 

2011 Fashionetta

2011 Fashionetta

Finally, yesterday we went to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Fashionetta. It’s a Holiday Fashion show, and the largest attended black event in Phoenix. The place to be the 1st Saturday in Dec. Good times! Last year, I was bald and cold and keeping people at arms length so I wouldn’t get sick. This year, not so bald, but still keeping people at arms length so I wouldn’t get sick! But at least I was there again with my family. What a blessing!

 

 

2012 Fashionetta!

2012 Fashionetta! 1906-1908 1st Family!

So, it seems as much as things change, they stay…the same.

Stay tuned, AGAIN

Pink Ink…

Bra with message of Love from Link Sisters

Ok, you know what today is! It’s the 1st day of October, and the kickoff of Breast Cancer Awareness month!

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good after a very busy weekend. Lil B asked me, why I was so excited about this day. I had to stop a moment and think. I already talk about breast health. Why DOES today seem different? I think b/c it is one more milestone I have crossed. I made it to my 1st October after diagnosis. But more important, I get to spend the next month talking about breast cancer without feeling guilty! Without feeling like I am beating folks over the head with info. I have free reign for a month!

This next month is dedicated to all the men and women we have lost to breast cancer. It is dedicated to all my friends and family who supported me this last year. It is also dedicated to all the women who still have not gotten a mammogram, done a self exam, or continue to ignore their risk factors. This month I promise to share even more info, ask questions, share funny moments, and force you to “dig deep” with me. It will not always be pretty. But Life in the Cancer Lane never is!

Don’t forget to check out pinkwellchick.com

So buckle up, wear pink, and…, stay tuned, AGAIN!

Be about it

Pink Ink…

Brief break in the madness. As the song says…”Every day I’m hustlin’, hustlin'” Because clearly, I need a cure! HA!

Be about it!

A new journey

Pink ink…

Sur•vi•vor: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

Talk about a loaded word! When you think of the word “survivor”, what is the 1st thing that comes to mind? Because of the advocacy work I have done, to me it means a person who has battled cancer. The next step my mind takes, is to a person who has battled breast cancer. But obviously, it means different things to different people, and is not limiting, but instead, all encompassing.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, we were a few weeks away from October; Breast Cancer awareness month. Even though I was telling people I had breast cancer, I was not referring to myself as a “Survivor”. It just didn’t feel right. Then the Race for the Cure was upon us. I was to start treatment the next day. On the eve of the Race, as we did our last Race walk-through as a Board, I asked if I could wear a Survivor shirt. The response was a resounding YES! I was told I should “absolutely” wear a Survivor shirt! I was already a Survivor, they said. It still felt weird. The day of the Race, I proudly wore my shirt. But I watched from the edge of the crowd when the 1, 5, 10, and 20+ year Survivors paraded by. I asked myself “Do I really deserve to wear a Survivor shirt?”

In the Cancer Lane, you can find a million different answers to the question “When does a person become a Survivor”. Some say it’s ridiculous to say Survivor because there is in fact, no cure. Others say it’s at diagnosis, or when the tumor is removed. Public opinion leans towards people who have completed treatment, while advocates and doctors say at time of diagnosis. I know a couple women who refuse to use the word “Survivor”, and actively try to distance themselves from being called a “Survivor”. They have come up with all kinds of other words to describe themselves and their experience. (Over time, I have learned that they don’t have enough distance from their experience, and are in fact still “mad” with the fact that cancer interrupted their lives. This denial of a universal term is their way of coping) I have also read numerous blogs about when people feel they became survivors. There is never one answer. In fact, the only consistent thing is that a person becomes a Survivor when they choose to say they have “survived”.

Leaving the Vineyard, it all became clear to me.

I’ve been told many times how strong I have been this past year, how much I have been forced to endure, etc. This is true. When I recount my Life in the Cancer Lane to people, I am on occasion, shocked at the totality of it all. All week, Michele and I kept saying, “We made it!” Yes, we did! We made it through the storm, motivated by rejuvenation on the Vineyard! My last day on the Vineyard was capped by the news that Coping Magazine accepted my National Survivor’s Day picture entry! Joy!

So, as I boarded the ferry, it all hit me. Big B knew. He saw it brewing on my face. He hugged me and gave me my time. I sat on the trunk of my car, looked out at the fog rolling in over the ocean, and cried. I took the time to actually feel all that I had been through. I sat. I thought about the surgeries, many rounds of chemo, radiation, and all the missed activities. I thought about Big and Lil B, my family, and Michele, and all we had endured. I let myself feel the weight of this journey. So, I sat. I cried for 30 minutes. Despite the new headaches, I made it to the Vineyard! Most important, I had journeyed 10 months in the Cancer Lane.

I could not have scripted those 30 minutes of reflection had I tried. At one point, the fog was so thick; I couldn’t see the island behind me or the mainland in front of me. It was as if that moment was created just for me to…sit. So I allowed myself to think about my journey, to be in that space, and…survive.

It was only at that point that I opened my mind, heart and soul to the fact that I was indeed a Survivor!

Anything that comes at us now, will be…a new journey!

More to come

Pink ink…


Well we did it! We made it to the Inkwell! It’s been a long year. The thing that was always on the horizon was getting to the Inkwell. At my lowest point I said to Big B, “ If only I can get to the Vineyard.” When I was in the throws of chemo, Red Ink Michele sent me a photo book of our favorite pictures and places from the Vineyard. I pulled out that book whenever I started to feel “blue”. When I thought I was dying, just weeks ago, I told Big B, that I wanted my last trip to be to the Vineyard. I just wanted to see the Inkwell one more time.

Why the Vineyard? I have been going to the Vineyard for over 30 years. Lil B has traveled there 9 of her 10 years. It is a place where my family hits the “restart” button. Michele and I have been reconnecting at the Inkwell for at least 10 years. Thanks to my parents, it is a place that feels like a long warm hug. Thanks to my parents, and now Big B and Michele, it is a place that feels like (If I can be a bit dramatic!) unfettered love. We all just breathe, relax, and take time to…LIVE.

This was the first time that I have ever been to the Vineyard without my parents. I must say, it was bittersweet. When it was time to make our reservations last year, we all hesitated. Would we really make it to the Vineyard? Time came and went, and my folks chose not to come. A part of me was ok with that. It would be a time for the “3 Bs” to start our own tradition. But as time grew close for us to leave, I felt sad. When I got to the island, as the days passed, I realized that I missed the comfort of my parents presence. Given all that we had been through, I wish they had been there to hit “restart”. As we walked around the island, Lil B would point out the places she went with Poppi for donuts, or the fried clam place she went with Nana. Alas, like everything else this past year, it was a new experience, and a little painful.

There are so many stories to share. So many moments of reflection. And a few headaches. Yup, still have those! Michele and I thought about posting everyday. But in the end, we chose to just enjoy ourselves, and our families. To enjoy the new memories we were creating.

I made it to the Inkwell. I have hit “restart”.

So sit back. Over the next few days, as I reflect, there is sure to be…more to come!

Previous Older Entries