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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Contest Winner and Countdown to Chemo...

We have a winner in the first-ever "I had a Boob Once Contest!" Let me say that all the entries were wonderful and so very much appreciated.

I do have to give the first prize, however, to Amy Cooper Rodriguez (whoop whoop!),  not simply for the comic relief of Ellen's clip "Dennis Quaid Needs a Tailor".......but also for her sheer persistence in sending me things to smile about. Amy, may your life forever be enriched and blessed by Will Ferrel's portrayal of a serious seventies newscaster and philosopher. Email me your address.

As for the runner's up - coming in in second place is Janet P. for this video called Laughing Yoga, which made me spit out my coffee. Watch it, although not while you're drinking anything.

And in third place, we have Barbara for her true story (I love funny, true stories!)  called "The Lorax," which can be read in the comment sections here.

With that out of the way, let's get on to more serious matters, like chemo treatments, which begin this Thursday. Most people, when they hear this, want to know how I'm feeling. First of all - let me emphasize that the answer to this question moving forward will depend on when you ask me. Think of my dramatic shifts in emotions as something akin to a palette of the seven dwarfs. On any given day, I might be : Grumpy(Yep), Sleepy (for certain), Bashful (once the hair is gone), Dopey (chemo brain), Sneezy (if I get a cold), Happy (yes, I will be happy, hopefully, much of the time) and um...that's six. Oh, and Doc. Seven.  I thought I remember there being a Scaredy dwarf but a Google search proved me wrong. Folks at Disney, if you're listening: you need a Scaredy dwarf. I suggest replacing Doc, who serves no emotional purpose really for people with cancer, with Scaredy.

So, for the past 24 hours, I'd say I've been feeling a wee bit Scaredy, kind of like my friend Grover, here.

Fortunately, like Grover, part of me knows that what I'm scared of might not really turn out to be all that bad. Just like before surgery, when I imaged how awful it was going to be - I might wake up under anesthesia on the table but no one would hear my screams! Or my recovery would be agonizing!-  none of which turned out to be.

But the unknown is scary.

One of the seemingly dumber things I did on the afternoon I got the shocking news that the cancer cells had made it to my lymph nodes was to sit in a darkened bedroom with my laptop and read celebrity obituaries for 2012-13. Why? I  have no idea. Interestingly, this was not an upsetting experience - except in the use of the word "battle." Repeatedly, those that died were said to have "lost their battle" with cancer. The word "battle" pissed me off, as it sounded so harsh and bloody and tragic. The phrase also implied that those who died were, well, losers. They'd "lost."

I have no intention of fighting a battle. Some of you have said or written to me, "Kick cancer's ass." That's OK. I don't mind the idea of "kicking cancer's ass," but I plan to kick cancer's ass with loving kindness. I plan to go all Buddha-like on cancer's ass. So I've armed myself (no wait! see how easy it is to fall into the collective battle metaphor ?) I mean I'm readying myself with guided meditations and Pema Chodron's book When Things Fall Apart, in which she writes things like "Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news." And "The next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky." And, finally, "Every day, when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves am I going to practice peace, or am I going to go to war?"

So I'm going to try to practice peace. I'm going to practice trying to stay in the present moment. And to breathe.
And to attempt to stop predicting the future.
And to whistle a happy tune
And on my really bad days,  I will hide under my moldy green happy place blanket until I'm ready to come out.
This, my friends,will be the new me (minus the long ears and hopefully the enormous belly.)
Looking good, huh?  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The First ever I had a Boob Once Contest!

Really! I'm having a contest. Because that's what people do when they have cancer blogs.

I must begin by thanking everyone for their wonderful gifts and generosity over the last several weeks. Aside from people shopping for me, watching my crazy children and dropping off incredible meals and gluten free treats, I also received a very modern and funky header for my blog. This was a surprise gift from Lori, my talented artist/designer friend and aunt-in-law? (she's married to my husband's uncle; you figure it out).
I am lucky that Lori enjoys designing boob-like headers in her spare time.

About a week ago, I also received a thoughtful gift in the mail  from my friend Martha, which included the spiritual and life-affirming book, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, along with a copy of the "Unrated, Uncut and Uncalled For!" edition of Will Ferrel's Anchorman, the Legend of Ron Burgundy.Unfortunately, I already owned this movie, and while I know what you're probably thinking right now ("No one can own too many copies of Anchorman!"), I decided two was just too much for me. When I asked Martha if she wanted to return the DVD, she suggested I pay it forward. So that is what I'm doing.
With a contest.

But allow me to digress here a moment to more fully consider Anchorman, which in case you are not familiar with it, is a heartfelt and deeply moving portrait of a newscaster in the 1970's. If you are like me, you wonder almost daily why this film was never nominated for an Academy Award. I received my first copy of the movie this past Christmas (along with my very own Ron Burgundy stylin' t-shirt) after asking my husband to buy me a Will Ferrell collection for viewing during my recovery from surgery. What I had in mind was one of those three-in-a-box collections, but he ended up buying me a total of 11 (yep. count 'em. 11) Will Ferrell movies, including one that doesn't even have Will Ferrell in it: Dodgeball. 

If you've never watched Dodgeball, be warned: unless you like explaining awkward things to young children, do not watch this movie with young children . My boys happened to come into my bedroom one afternoon while I was  watching the film. Although I knew I should turn the movie off, it was only a few days post-surgery and I was  too tired to go through the hassle of lifting the remote off the night stand and pushing the STOP button. The boys happened to join me just in time for the scene in which the underdog team - led by Vince Vaughn- receives the wrong  uniforms last minute and is forced to wear them for the big game, as depicted below.

The boys stood on the bed, their heads cocked, stares blank.
"What kind of uniforms are those?" five-year-old J asked.
I struggled for an answer and then told him they were "like Batman's costume, except you know,  with less fabric." He appeared to accept this response, and began rooting for the team "in the superhero costumes."

You may be asking yourself right now, why the hell is she talking about any of this? This has nothing to do with cancer or a blog titled "I had a boob once!" On the contrary, it has everything to do with it. One of the other definitions of "boob" is a stupid person. And every one of the movies mentioned above, particularly Dodgeball and Anchorman, is, well, about individuals who are pretty stupid. So see how this brilliantly comes full circle?

As for my contest (if anyone is actually still reading this blog) here are the details: Make me laugh. Leave me a funny comment or steal something funny  (meaning you don't have to be the author of it) and share it with me on Facebook or Blogger. You can also share a quote about humor. Like this one: "A sense of humor can help you overlook the unattractive, tolerate the unpleasant, cope with the unexpected and smile through the unbearable." -Moshe Waldoks (never heard of him before but he sounds like my kind of rabbi...)

Whoever makes me laugh the hardest or inspires me the most gets the video (I'm  willing to mail it to anywhere in the world - in case this contest goes global, which I suspect it might).

Or if all this is too much work, you can even just say hi. It's possible you could still win.

Small print: Contest entries accepted until Midnight Friday. Don't all jump at once...

Friday, March 1, 2013

A few things I've learned thus far and want to share

A few months ago I wrote the word "Patience" on a yellow sticky note and posted it on my refrigerator. I can't recall why I wrote it - was it for my kids? My husband? Myself? It was well before i was all caught up in this cancer thing, but now, of course, the word  takes on much greater meaning (as does the groovy electric guitar magnet although I'm not sure why).

This past week I found out my cancer was worse than they first thought. I was under the impression that surgery would likely be all the treatment needed, but not so.The good news is that my cancer is very treatable; I am one of the lucky ones who is "triple positive," which is the best kind of breast cancer because they have the drugs to treat it. Those who know me and my somewhat morose nature understand that I've never been called" triple positive" or probably even just "positive" in my life, so this could also be considered a compliment.

Of course, it was not easy hearing this news, particularly in the awkward and awful  way it was delivered (I won't get into that here, as my new "triple positive" persona does not like to focus on the negative) but I will share a few things I have learned the past few weeks:

  •  Doctors  do not know everything; they are not super heroes. Perhaps I unconsciously believed this myth because my father is a retired physician. Growing up, the man could cure anything that ailed me with the right medicine, and our cabinets were stocked with various concoctions  While my father, now 84, continues to be one of my biggest heroes (he spit in the face of some Nazi youth as a kid - pretty cool, huh?),  he is only human. As are all the doctors who have treated me so far. Still, a couple I've come across could use a refresher course in compassion and clear communication, but I negatively digress...

  • The mind is a strange and powerful tool. I wholeheartedly believe that all the happy place preparation and trance work I did before surgery helped me recover so easily. On the contrary, while i was getting   some scans done this past Monday, I had David Soul's song (remember him? Hutch from Starsky and Hutch?) "Don't Give up on us Baby" stuck in my head. I have no idea why, but it added a level of torture to the experience that I was not expecting.

  • If you read my post on the whole blanket of luv thing, you probably won't be surprised to hear me say that I'm not really a big believer in angels and that sort of thing. However I am beginning to suspect that there really might be some little angel-like creatures here on earth, like the PERFECT friend who calls you at just the right moment--immediately after a horrible doctor's appointment, for instance (you know who you are if you are reading this). And then there's all the other little angel-like people who have come to my rescue thus far with their kind words and gluten-free treats and high carb, sodium-rich delicious dinners (we'll have to revisit this when I'm going through chemo but so far it's been great!).
  • Patience, as the note on my refrigerator continues to remind me, will very much be in order the next several months. I have already started to give up some things I was very much looking forward to - or as my triple positive persona would say, "postpone" some things I was looking forward to this spring and summer. I will just have to do them later. 
  • Finally: Benadryl and writing DO NOT mix. I tried to write this post earlier this week and got very frustrated because I could barely write a coherent sentence. Then I remembered I was taking Benadryl due to a rash I got from my antibiotic. So I thought I'd share this with you in case you are trying to write an essay or blog while on Benadryl. Then again, if you have successfully written an essay or blog while on Benadryl or other drugs, I'd love to hear about your experience and perhaps read it, so do share. I'm also wondering if any famous writers wrote anything while on Benadryl. Like Fitzgerald or Hemingway? I Googled "Hemingway and Benadryl" but did not come up with anything (although I found this interesting story about Hemingway's drinking habits - He did not like to drink while writing. It does not say anything about taking Benadryl while writing however). Then again, did Benadryl even exist then? If not I hope these writers didn't have allergies.