womanmirror

Image:  Torontosun.com

It is rare, if ever, that I have been happy with a photograph of myself. Especially after the Tamoxifen 10+ pounds I have gained (16 to be exact). I am thankful for all of the comments and compliments I do receive, though. Seeing my size transformation over the past few years and the flowing rolls at my waist gnaws at me, but overall I am happy with it! Hey, I’m alive and well. What more can I ask for?

When I see myself in the mirror, I don’t see the same individual who was there before my illness. And while friends and family tell me that what I see is not what they see; I have still felt like the lead in a Hans Christian Anderson story — you know the one about the duck.

Recently, I was introduced to a woman who has just been diagnosed. We have spoken several times over the last few weeks, and her story has touched me. She is further along mentally than I was, and her chemo regime will be more stringent than mine; but I believe she will be fine in the end. I think she sees that now, as well. Her voice today was much calmer and more positive – which was a relief. I was concerned that her fears could become an obstacle for her, and could cloud her capacity to gather the information she needed during our first conversation.

She told me of some good news that she had gotten. Awesome, I thought! Then she wanted to know about my weight gain. She had asked me this several times during our talks. I told her honestly that I have “packed on the pounds.” I know it sounds weird that I gained weight during chemo but I did…Anyway, I know that much of what I said was helpful, but she was still focused on the weight gain. So here is what I said. “If it is weight gain you want to focus on – you can. But focus on the fact that after you are done with all of your treatments and healthy again…you will have a new project…getting back in shape. Keep thinking about the future and what you need to do. Because no matter how you look at it…you are looking at your future – and that is a good thing. But when you have completed it all (the treatments I mean), don’t waste your time (like I have done) being unhappy with what you see in the mirror.

Because what you see is ALIVE AND WELL…and looking good in a photo or two will happen again!

 

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chalkboard

Image:  Cutemomentsphotography.com

A friend sent me the link for Blackboard Adventures, and I have to tell you I was delighted by her series. In this series, Anna imagines what newborn children may be dreaming of as they lay asleep. How cute is that? Seriously. She illustrates their dreams on a chalkboard located directly underneath the sleeping babes.

Her Facebook album description says it all:

“These are the adventures of a little guy on a blackboard. When we say “little”, we mean it: He was 5 days old in the one with the stork, and three months in the last one. How we did it? Simple! We just made the drawings with real chalk on a real blackboard, like we used to do in school. Then, we took the photos of the baby while sleeping on a soft and warm cloth on the blackboard, right in the middle of his own story. Even though our son looks like sleeping directly on the blackboard, he always had something soft underneath him.”

Check out her series on her web site at http://www.cutemomentsphotography.com/blackboardadventures.html . You will be smiling all day from these adorable pictures.

 They helped me have a Shining Moment day!

 

 

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walkingonsunshine

Image:  convio.cancer.ca

Walking on Sunshine

What better way to start the summer than by Walking on Sunshine? I mean, really. Just thinking about this song makes my toe tap and my tushie move, which is always a Shining Moment in my book. I hope that it does the same thing for you.

“Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves

I used to think maybe you love me, now baby I’m sure
And I just can’t wait till the day, when you knock on my door
Now every time I go for the mail box, gotta hold myself down
’cause I just can’t wait till you write me, you’re coming around I’m walking on sunshine (whoa oh)
I’m walking on sunshine (whoa oh)
I’m walking on sunshine (whoa oh)
And don’t it feel good (HEY!) Alright now
And don’t it feel good (HEY!) Alright now
All right now yeah! (HEY!)I used to think maybe you love me, I know that it’s true
And I don’t wanna spend all of my life just waiting for you (just waiting for you)
Now I don’t want you back for the weekend, not back for a day, no, no, no
Baby I just want you back and I want you to stay Walking on sunshine
Walking on sunshine I feel the love, I feel the love, I feel the love that’s really real
I feel the love, I feel the love, I feel the love that’s really real I’m on sunshine baby yeah
I’m on sunshine baby yeah I’m walking on sunshine whoa
I’m walking on sunshine whoa
I’m walking on sunshine whoa
And don’t it feel good hey alright now
And don’t it feel good hey alright now
And don’t it feel good hey alright now
And don’t it feel good hey alright now
I’m walking on sunshine
I’m walking on sunshine
I’m walking on sunshine
I’m walking on sunshine
I’m walking on sunshine

 

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womanreading

cisncancer.org

A pathology report is a medical document written by a pathologist, a doctor who specializes in interpreting laboratory tests and evaluating cells, tissues, and organs to diagnose disease. Although I love my doctors and truly relied on them during my diagnosis, I didn’t ask any questions about my pathology report. Big mistake! It’s always important to ask questions throughout your journey in the Pink Bubble.

To better understand what your pathology report means, consider asking your doctor the following questions:

  • What type of cancer have I been diagnosed with, and where did it start?
  • How large is the tumor?
  • Is the cancer invasive or noninvasive?
  • How fast are the cancer cells growing?
  • What is the grade of the cancer? What does this mean?
  • Has the whole cancer been removed, or is there evidence of cancerous cells at the edges of the sample?
  • Are there cancerous cells in the lymph or blood vessels?
  • What is the stage of the cancer? What does this mean?
  • Does the pathology report specify the tumor characteristics clearly, or should we get another pathologist’s opinion?
  • Do any tests need to be repeated on another sample or in another laboratory?

 

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For fast – acting relief, try slowing down. ~ Lily Tomlin

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Hope

hope

Image: Familylovehope.wordpress.com

Hope…What an incredible word. It is what holds us in anticipation, and it is what can spark our individual greatness from within. Hope is always looking forward at the possibilities, and cannot be held back in the past. You hope for the future, you look back at your past. Right?!

Cancer has taught me a lot about hope. Of course there is the obvious things to hope for during treatment. My hopes were: I hope I get better, I hope my treatments are not horrific, I hope I don’t get sick again, and finally, I hope that I not only get better…but I also hope that I don’t get bogged down by the ramifications of being afflicted twice.

Now, hope is what I wake up with every morning. Some of my hopes are whimsical and shallow. And that is okay. While it would be great if those hopes were achieved sometimes, I don’t hold my breath for those – rather, I enjoy the frivolity of the hoping. You know those thoughts…”I hope I can lose 30 pound by Friday,” or “I hope I can eat this gallon of ice cream and still fit into my jeans tomorrow,” and of course, I hope to have the chance to meet George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Brian Williams (I’m a news person at heart), because I am a huge fan of all three. These are delicious little nuggets that help me smile on days that aren’t always filled with smiles.

Then I have hopes that aren’t necessarily about me, but are about my family and friends. These are ones that really affect my emotions. I want, no I hope, for them way more than I hope for myself. My hopes for them are lofty and rich. I hope for them to get what they want, because I hope they will always be happy. And I hope all the time, I can take away any pain or sorrow my friends and family go through. But I can’t always do that. But I am aware that they also have their own frivolous hopes and I encourage them…I think these are what is meant by “Hope springs eternal…”

My friend’s daughter, for example, hopes to be an actress. Her hopes don’t have a pathway to achieve this, or a definite area in which she chooses to become a star…She just hopes for stardom…and I hope she becomes one as well. Though, she has no definitive pathway as to what type of “star” she wants to become…her hopes are lovely and endearing (and not unlike many teenage girls), and I hope to help her head that way (though honestly, I hope she finds another hope as she gets older).

Another friend’s son hopes for more simple things. New videogames, to be better at certain sports, and his biggest hope is that he never has to do homework again. But of course this last one is not going to happen. But he can always hope!!

My “aunt” hoped that she would be okay when she moved to an assisted-living facility. Well I was there this week, and know she will be okay. She has a brightness and lightness to her spirit, one which I haven’t seen in so long. Her melancholy is present, but is being trimmed with hope that her next stage in life will have joy and adventure.

So I guess I just hope all of those I love to get what they hope for. Because then I get what I hope for.

Who could hope for more!

 

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asparagustart

Image: Joythebaker

This recipe is zero effort and is pretty fancy schmancy! If you want to impress your peeps, this asparagus tart will definitely do the trick. Place 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed, on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Prick it all over with a fork, the sprinkle with 4 oz. shredded Gruyere and half a medium onion, thinly sliced.  Arrange 1 lb. asparagus on top and bake in a 400 degree oven until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.  Slice, serve, take a bow!

 

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thefaultinourstars

Image: Lipmag.com

It’s been a long time since I’ve been blown away by a book. Well, it was worth the wait. The Fault in Our Stars is the kind of book that you don’t want to put down…and think about first thing in the morning…and artfully arrange the next possible moment when you can come back to it.

A family friend’s teenage daughter recommended (basically insisted that I buy it) by saying, “It’s going to be the best book you’ve ever read, but don’t read it in public because you will cry – A LOT.” She was spot on.

I’ve been thinking about how to (accurately) describe it? Hmmm. Well, heart-wrenching, beautiful, genuine, moving, powerful, sarcastic, genius, witty, and transformative are all words that immediately come to mind when I think about this book. However, these descriptions seem so inadequate. Seriously. It’s that good.

One could argue that this is a cancer book. I would disagree. I see it as a love story about teenagers, Hazel and Augustus who happen to have cancer. I knew going into this book what to expect. One doesn’t read a book about teenagers with cancer expecting happily ever afters and picture perfect memories. Just sayin’…

Suffice it to say that I anticipated a strong emotional reaction and the need for my trusty hankie; however, I wasn’t prepared for the depth of my response. This book and its main characters, Hazel and Augustus will stay with me. Probably forever.

I’m not the only one who is nutty about it. The Fault in Our Stars has also been a:

  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller
  • #1 Indiebound bestseller

Ironically, it is this quote from the book that identifies exactly how I feel about it:

“Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

Beautiful.

 

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womanminerals

Image: Blog.hoyespharmacy.com

Could taking vitamins be key in helping postmenopausal women survive breast cancer?

Another reason to take your vitamins — they could help you beat breast cancer.

In an observational study, researchers found that postmenopausal patients who regularly took multivitamins with minerals had a 30 percent lower rate of death than those who didn’t take advantage of supplements. The Women’s Health Initiative Clinical Trials and the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study found the results.

The most recent results were based on more than 7,700 women involved in a larger study of 161,608 participants. It was focused on women who started taking vitamins after their diagnosis.

“We don’t know the full effect,” said Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, lead author of the study and professor emerita at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. “We only had 321 that started taking the vitamins after the diagnosis. So, we don’t have the data basis to change the treatment [recommendations].”

“It’s clear we need a lot more studying on this,” said Wassertheil-Smoller. “There are a lot of unknowns about this, and there should be a lot more research on it in the mainstream.”

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If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. ~ Eckhart Tolle

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