Archive for October, 2011

I am Durwood

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

 

In Loving Memory Andrew Ferrell 1974-2011

I had a bit of an existential crisis this past week.  My very foundation was shook with the death of a friend, Andrew Ferrell.  Drew, one of my biggest cheerleaders (without the skirt), was diagnosed with testicular germ cell cancer about the same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  He lost his battle.

Or did he?  As Lance Armstrong said about Steve Jobs recently, “Steve, like every football coach who ever lived, didn’t lose his battle, he just ran out of time.”

We all run out of time at one point or another.  That is life.

And, death.

But, can we defy the fates?  I admit I have been trying.  I guess I watched too many Bewitched episodes growing up.  I always wanted to be Samantha, a beautiful immortal witch that could clean her house, jet off to Paris and walk thru doors with a twitch of her nose.  Who would want to be Darrin, or Durwood as his mother in-law called him, a mere measly mortal who has to use the door knob to get thru doors?

I came face to face with my own mortality this week with Drew’s death and I realized that I am scared shitless.  I am desperately trying to control my circumstances and somehow trick the fates.  I guzzle 32 ounces of green juice daily, work out at the gym, partake in dry rubs and daikon leaf baths, eat whole grains and huge organic salads and take my Omega 3’s and Vitamin D, so my cancer will not come back.  It is a full time job and it is exhausting!

And to top it off, I am worried that I am so busy juicing, I am forgetting to live life fully.    

Just the other night Casey’s band, “Mother Function” performed at a huge “Not Quinceanera Party”.  It was a meeting of Mexican Catholics and Irish Catholics. So you can imagine Guinness and Tequila flowing generously.  There was a group of 40 something year olds in the kitchen doing tequila shots.  Typically, I would be the first one to partake.  Not this time.  There are studies that show a connection between alcohol and breast cancer. 

Mother Function Rocking Out

Why do I do this day after day?  Why do I drink gallons of green stuff, spend exorbitant amounts of mula on supplements and believe alcohol is Satan? 

So I don’t die.  Fear of death does this to a person.

A problem arises however when the fear of death keeps you from living.  Like Adi Da Samraj says in his book, “Easy Death”, “You will live in either one of two ways. One is the usual round of obsession, fear, and seeking — in which the egoic self is the actor and the meaning of the drama. The other is the way of unlimited intelligence, love, freedom, spontaneity, and infinite happiness.”

Shakespeare understood this dilemma as well in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” 

The answer to this question is easy but walking the talk is a bit more difficult. 

But, no matter how difficult, I cannot live my life in fear.  The constant job of juicing, “because if I don’t I may die”, is a very heavy burden to live with.    

So, it is time for me to let go of fear, relinquish control and start living again.  Instead of juicing, because if I don’t I may die, I will juice because it makes me feel good.  Instead of running every day because it is proven to increase our life span, I will exercise because it is my happy drug.  I will do dry rubs because it makes my skin soft.  I will take my vitamin D because I am low in vitamin D.  I will take Daikon leaf baths because………well maybe this one can go.  And, I will limit tequila shots because it makes me feel like shit the next day.  Key word here, limit. 

Letting go, having some fun and enjoying life is just as important as my green goddess juice.  Actually, I am coming to the conclusion that it is more important.  As Shelby, Julia Roberts’ character in Steel Magnolias said, “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

Drew died way too young but I am certain he had thirty minutes of wonderful. 

I will miss Drew’s inspirational words, like “You rawk Deanne” as I am getting ready for a second reconstruction surgery scheduled for this Tuesday.   But, I know in my heart he will be cheering me on from above!  Maybe even in a cute little skirt.  I bet you can wear anything you want up there.

As for my own mortality, I am working on accepting this fact.  Whether I like it or not, I am Durwood,  along with the other 7 billion people on this planet, a mere mortal, relying on my own wits, family and friends to help me get through doors.    

So, to be or not to be, I choose to “be” god dam it!

Me Choosing to Be

Hand in Hand

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

 “Who ever walked behind anyone to freedom? If we can’t go hand in hand, I don’t want to go.”…Hazel Scott 

I owe you all an apology.  I have been so busy writing blogs for other blogs that I have neglected my own.  However, it has paid off.  A piece I wrote about breast cancer was chosen to be the featured article for the October edition of Esteem Yourself Magazine, www.esteemyourself.com.  Thank you Esteem Yourself. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  It is funny we need an entire month to remind people to be aware of the highest leading cause of cancer and second leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States, but we do. 

Of course, I am aware of it every day.  There are reminders everywhere.  Like when I take a shower and see my scars and deformed breast.  I am reminded when I try on five different outfits, searching for the one that makes me look somewhat less lopsided.  I am reminded when I try to lift something heavy but my breast screams out in pain.  I am reminded when I attempt to shave my right armpit without cutting myself because I have no feeling there anymore.  I am reminded when I smell those “In and Out” burgers but can’t have one.  I am reminded when I see my hair brush sitting in my drawer, clean.  I am reminded when my daughter asks me to read to her but I can’t because I can’t see the fine print through my herceptin eyes.  I am reminded when my feet tingle and cramp from chemo induced neuropathy.  I am reminded when my debit card won’t go through because we just spent our last dime paying bills insurance won’t cover.  I am reminded when I write this blog.  I am reminded when I see a woman with her long hair and real boobs.

No, I don’t need Breast Cancer Awareness month, a pink ribbon, a save the Ta Ta’s t-shirt, or an “I Love Boobies” bracelet to remind me of breast cancer.  But, I am truly thankful for them and all the people that wear them proudly. 

Casey, my 16 year old son told me the other day as he was getting dressed-up in his suit for a quinceañera, “Mom, I still have my ‘I Love Boobies’ bracelet on.  I’m never going to take it off.  NEVER!”   

Casey with friends at OCHSA!

Check out Casey’s left wrist.   Love that kid!

I am also thankful for organizations like National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM).  They come up with all kinds of gimmicks and schemes to remind all of you beautiful women out there to get your Ta Ta’s to the doctor for an annual mammography.  I know it sucks but it is said that one third of the cancer deaths today could have been avoided due to early detection.  So please, please, please go get your mammograms my dear girlfriends.  If you are one of the many women that don’t, I know who you are by the way, I was one of them, then at least make sure you do a self-exam.  That is how I found mine.  I was playing with my booby one evening and “voila” there it was, a lump at 6 o’clock.  So, go ahead, play with yourself, or even more fun, have your sexy man do it!  It could save your life.  It saved mine. 

Over 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, me included.  40,000 of these women will die, me not included.  And that is only in the United States alone.  Breast cancer knows no boundaries.  This last year, nearly 1.5 million women (and men) were told “you have breast cancer.”  So, NBCAM has gone global.  Events have popped up all over the world to help increase awareness and raise money such as Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure, Ride to Empower and Global Illumination.  Check this out, more than a dozen famous landmarks around the world light up in pink as a reminder for early detection. 

Since most of us don’t have a landmark to light up in our backyard, there are other ways to get involved.  My cousin Patricia is training for the Susan G. Komen 3 day walk.  Yesterday she walked 17 miles in prep for the 60 miles in three days she is about to endure in November in San Diego.  Each participant is expected to raise $2,300, walk 20 miles per day and camp out each evening with fellow walkers in a tent city.  Thank you, Patricia.  If you want to do it again next year cousin, when I am done with my meds and surgery, I will walk right along your side, hand in hand. 

 

She’s pretty hot, huh!

I may not be able to walk 60 miles quite yet but I can sing.  So, in honor of breast cancer awareness month, our band, Daisy Chain is performing at “Cocktails for the Cure”.  It started out as a girl’s night out and has turned into an annual local event, raising over $30,000 in the last few years. 

We have been practicing ‘til blisters form on top of blisters.  If you are in town, please come by, have a drink or three, and come shake your booty to Joan Jett, KT Tunstall, Blondie, Prince, Talking Heads and the Go Go’s.  All the proceeds go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  You can register at www.cocktails4thecure.com or make a small donation if you can’t make it.

It is astounding how a simple girls night out can turn into an empowering, awe-inspiring, meaningful evening to raise money, awareness and support for people like me faced with such a scary life threatening disease.  When people come together for a common cause amazing things happen.  Even big burly football players are wearing pink cleats.  Wow! 

Whether you light up the Eiffel Tower, walk 60 miles in three days, attend a local fundraiser or wear an “I Love Boobies” bracelet, it is a reminder that there are people out there with huge hearts and deep pocket books thank god, that will do everything in their power to stop this disease from continuing to take our beloved moms, grandmothers, aunts (and yes uncles), daughters and friends!

I may not need a reminder to be aware of breast cancer, but I need all of you to remind me that there is hope.  I need to be reminded that there are people out there that care.  I need to be reminded that there are organizations raising money and doctors and scientists working towards a cure.  I need to be reminded that there is love and support in the world.  I need to be reminded that I am not alone. 

Hand in hand.