Archive for August, 2011

One Change of Plans at a Time

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”  – Henry Ford

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” - Van Gogh

While shoving cucumbers down the gullet of my juicer, the phone rang.  This time it wasn’t a bill collector.  It was Dr. Smith’s office calling.  There has been a change of plans.  My reconstruction surgery needs to be pushed back two weeks.   

Apparently, my blood is exceptionally thin due to my pill popping obsession.  In other words, I am what the doctor calls a “bleeder”.  To avoid a crime scene, I need to stop popping Omega 3, flax seed, CoQ10, ginger, ginkgo biloba and garlic two weeks prior to my surgery.  These supplements thin your blood and can cause excessive bleeding.  Bleeding can leave a horrible hematoma, that’s a fancy word for a bruise, and cause complications increasing the risk of infection or necrosis.  I just learned this term necrosis.  It means death of the skin.  Not a good thing when attempting to rebuild my breast. 

Anyway, the point of my blog this week is to let you all know that I am scheduled for surgery next Tuesday, August 30th.  They are going to start putting my beautiful boobie back together.  The other point of this blog is to proudly share with you that I did not have a meltdown when first told the news, only three days before my surgery date, that I had to reschedule.  I actually took this abrupt change in my plans quite well.  Seems I am learning to shift gears without having a temper tantrum or meltdown.  Those polar bears are saved.  Well, at least from me.

In fact, it has been 15 days since my last meltdown. 

I think I am finally getting a hang of this cancer thing. 

It looks as if I have actually accepted the fact that healing is a long process.  It’s not like one day you have cancer, the next you don’t.  Healing takes time.  What is another two weeks added to this crazy year if it means a safer, healthier choice without complications?  I am in. 

It is promising to know that I am learning to let go, stay open, be flexible and take baby steps toward healing.  One teeny tiny little baby step at a time.  Baby steps are not always easy for me by the way.  Have you seen my legs?  All three miles of them?

Ok.  I admit it.  These are not my legs.  

So, when I am faced with an overwhelming undertaking, when I start freaking out because the plans have been changed, when I begin to melt because the mission ahead of me is too daunting, I will remember what John Steinback had to say:

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all that I can permit myself to contemplate.”

One day’s work at a time, one surgery at a time, one treatment at a time, one supplement at a time, one juice at a time, one workout at a time, one meltdown at a time and one change of plans at a time.

That’s one small step for Deanne, one giant leap for mankind.

 

Hear Me Roar

Friday, August 19th, 2011

 “A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming.”…Jane Fonda

Driving to yet another appointment for a dose of healing potion no. 18 (herceptin), I had the pedal to the metal, the music blasting and tears flowing while screaming at the top of my lungs.  Loud insufferable beyond the pale noises spewing from my inner most soul.   I know all of us have lost it at some point in our lives, screaming, yelling, and cussing at life while doing 80 down the freeway.  If not, please appease me.  My windows were rolled up but I’m sure the woman in the car next to me could hear my loud wails.  Maybe she just thought I was singing along to Adele, “I could have had it aaaaaaaalllllllll.” Tears are gonna faaaaaaalllllllll.”  “Rolling in the deeeeeeep.”   

Tears were falling all right.  Black streaks down my cheeks.  I was rolling in a deep dark sea of feeling hopelessly sorry for myself, full of regrets, angry at the world, and pissed-off that I had just spilled green goddess juice on my perfectly clean white shirt. 

Let’s face it.  I was having a bad day.  No one ever told me recovery from chemo would be so darn difficult.   It has been 80 days since my last treatment.  80 days around the world, headaches, body aches, weakness, nausea, anger, frustration and emotional meltdowns big enough to melt the Arctic and leave those poor polar bears without an iceberg to walk on.  

My doctor says it takes 3 to 4 months before the chemo will be out of my system.  I don’t believe her.  Not one bit. 

And to top it all off, I am officially in menopause, I still have 34 more herceptin treatments to go, (“little chemo’s” as I call them), two more surgeries, kids, family, bills, blah blah blah.  

I am not alone in feeling this way.  Apparently it is quite common to feel like shit after chemo.  I did a bit of research and found a cancer support website that states: 

When your treatment is finished, you may feel it’s time to get back to normal. However, this can sometimes be one of the hardest times to cope with. Recovery times vary and no one can say for sure how long it should take to get over the treatment and its effects.  Many people find that they feel very low and emotional at this time, when they had expected to be able to put the cancer and the treatment behind them.” 

Low is an understatement. 

But today while sweating on the elliptical at LA Fitness, painted in huge letters across the wall, these words screamed out at me like words flashing brilliantly on a billboard:

Deanne, “Never let weakness convince you that you lack strength.”

OK, it didn’t say Deanne but it may as well have. How is it that I never noticed this before?   

Just because I feel weak today, does not mean I am weak.  So, I can’t remember what I did yesterday.  So what?  I have that unattractive floppy loose skin thing going on under my arms, reminds me of my Grandma, God bless her baggy skin soul.  So what?  I have pimples all over my forehead and behind my ears and on my chin, like a teenager in puberty.  So what?  My breasts are completely uneven, one trying to reach my belly button, the other my nose.  So what?  I have 13 eye lashes left.  So what?  My hair is growing back, grayer than ever and I kinda look like one of those tall thin African women you see in National Geographic (albeit beautiful I must admit.)  So what?  I am spending faster than Kevin can earn putting a huge hole in our wallets.  So what?  Thank you, by the way, Kevin.  A friend of mine told me that in Germany, chemo patients are offered a three month recovery retreat on an Island in the North Sea all expenses paid.  Is this true Alan?  Alan is a friend of mine undergoing Chemo in Germany right now.  If yes, I will hop on a plane tomorrow.  Anyway, back to my rant.  So what?  I am strong.  I am invincible.  I am woman.  Hear me Roar god dammit!  

I refuse to feel sorry for myself for one more f#$!@& minute.  Instead, I have empowered myself.  Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  Something we need to remind ourselves every day.  I worked out with Brad, my personal trainer, I guzzled my green goddess drink without spilling, I did my dry rub, ate a huge organic salad and took my supplements.  I am popping more pills than Charlie Sheen.  At least my pills are green and clean.  

Webster says recovery is the act or process of recovering, esp from sickness, a shock, or a setback; recuperation; restoration to a former or better condition; a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.  Key word here is process but I don’t care what Webster says, recovery is a bitch.  B-I-T-C-H in capital letters.   

And, according to the Us Marine Recruiting office, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”  Brilliant propaganda!  Nonetheless, that explains it, the tears, the meltdowns, the screaming.  Weakness out, strength in. 

I am strong.  I am invincible.  I am woman.  I am Deanne!

Hear me roar!

 

If you want an excellent trainer, call Brad at (602) 475-1973.  Tell him I sent you!

Love Your Guts

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

 

I can’t exactly explain it, but for some reason I can’t come up with a blog for this month.  I seem to have writer’s block a common phenomenon that happens to the best of writers.  Maybe it’s the chemo, maybe it’s the ridiculous time I spend on my current obsession with juicing or maybe it’s because the Moon is square to unruly Uranus, opposing warrior Mars while in conjunction with passionate Pluto resulting in some turbulent days.  Whatever the reason, my friend Clare had a sixth sense about my predicament and saved the day. 

Dear Deanne,

In an old Good Housekeeping Magazine in the marina library there was an article by Katie Couric about all the good advice she had received and one was from Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google.  It had so much in common with your approach that I thought you would love it.  Maybe if this week’s blog is taking a long time to write you could plonk this one in to tide you over:

“Find a way to say yes to things.  Say yes to invitations to a new country, say yes to meet new friends, say yes to learn something new.  Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse, and even your kids.  Even if it is a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means that you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference.  Yes lets you stand out in a crowd, be the optimist, see the glass full, be the one everyone comes to.  Yes is what keeps us all young”

Love your guts,

Clare

Thank you for taking care of me Clare.