breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Ok. Fine. Yup.

How are you? How do you feel? You doing ok today?

Ok. Fine. Yup.

Quotes lying

Those are my standard answers. I consider myself an original ” I’m ok. I’m fine.” girl. I figure I can only answer “not good” or “not really” only so many times before I become annoying, even to me. Beyond that, though, I answer in the positive because I want to be ok…I want to be fine.

It goes back to my two-year-old “I do it!” attitude. I don’t want help (unless I want it), and I don’t want sympathy (unless I want it). I’m a contradictory soul. I don’t want to be perceived as weak. To me, weak means I can’t take care of my family, I can’t do my job, I can’t live my life the way I want to live my life.

I hate the phrase “battling cancer.” I really do because I hate the idea if cancer kills someone, we say he or she “lost” the battle with cancer. To me, the connotation is if a battle is lost, the question becomes a question of trying. I don’t think anyone battling cancer isn’t trying, even if they choose to stop treatment. They made a choice. Cancer treatment sucks.

I don’t want to “lose” the battle. I don’t want to be seen as weak. I don’t want pity.

I want to live. But, I also want to be fine…ok. I want to answer “yup” and mean it.

Today, if you ask me how I’m doing today, I’m going answer “ok…fine…yup.” But, I don’t mean it. Not even close.

I’m in pain today. A fair amount of it, truth be told. I don’t want to say I’m not ok or I don’t feel fine because I don’t want to be seen as weak. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be an annoyance. I don’t want to be an object of pity.

But, I’m not ok today. I’m not fine. I’m not doing ok.

I told A last night I was having a wuss night. I have a nasty radiation burn in the crease between my expander and rib cage. I have radiation blisters on the underside of my expander. It hurts. And, to make everything more fun, I fell yesterday and landed full force on my right knee. It immediately swelled and turned lovely shades of black, blue, and green. So, I told A I was in pain, tired of being in pain, and broke down into tears. This morning, I discovered a new blister on the underside of my expander, and for kicks and giggles, the skin in the crease is peeling and very painful. It’s a legit burn. It hurts. I know it could hurt more. This could be worse, and that’s the approach I’m taking today, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it DOES hurt and it IS painful.

Oh, and my knee is still swollen today, not as much, the bruising is livid, and going up and down stairs is awful.

I have seven treatments left after today (today is treatment 21). I know the radiation pain and burning is only going to get worse…probably significantly worse. I know the next two weeks are going to be awful. Or, that’s what I’m preparing myself for since I’m already burned.

I tried everything to stop it or lessen it. I’ve done pure aloe. I’ve used coconut oil. I’ve used Aquaphor. Maybe those have lessened it or helped it not be as bad, but it’s getting bad, and I don’t think there’s a way to stop what’s going to happen. Whatever happens, though, I do not want a break from treatment. I don’t want to stop. I’m so close to finishing (please, God) radiation. I can see the light at the end of this tunnel. I know it’s going to be painful and at some point, I’m going to break down into tears, sobs, and a pity party. I just don’t want to be told we have to take a break because of the way my skin is reacting.

I want to be ok…fine…yup. I want to be able to answer with those words and mean them.

But, I don’t mean them today. But, I’ll lie and say I am ok…fine…yup. For the most part, I’ll get away with it, too. A doesn’t let me get away with it. I can try that with him, but all it gets me is a glare and silence until I give him a real answer. Others let me get away with it, and I’m kind of glad they do because I feel guilty unloading on people who just innocently asked, “How are you?”

It’s just easier to answer “ok…fine…yup” and not burden them with my troubles.

breast cancer, family, life, Uncategorized

Relationship Status

Cancer is hard on relationships. It just is. Even the strongest relationships are tested with a cancer diagnosis. According to a study done in 2009, when a woman is diagnosed, the relationship is 7 times more likely to fall apart.

Seven. Times. More. Likely.

The study did note relationship length can make a difference. The longer the relationship, the less likely it was to result in divorce.

Come this summer, A and I will be married for fourteen years. We dated seven years prior to marrying. We were engaged for a year and two months. All things said, we’ve been together nearly 21 years.

We have a good relationship. We’re best friends. We’re confidants. We make time to spend on us. We have a weekly date night. If I feel like going out, we go out. If I don’t, we have a date at home with popcorn and a movie. We make sure the other is ok, or as ok as we can be on this cancer coaster while raising two kids and working two demanding jobs. We communicate. We don’t let the other one get away with stoicism, which we’re both likely to do if we think it’ll protect the other. We recognize when the other needs time or space, but we don’t let that go on for too long. Sure, we argue occasionally. He’s Italian…a New York Italian. Loudness is a way of life in our house. But, we don’t go to sleep mad. We talk it out…even if that means we’re talking at 2 am and have to be up by 6 am. Our relationship, our marriage, is important. We make it a priority.

Nothing about maintaining a good relationship is easy, and when cancer is thrown in the mix? Ugh…He’s had to take on so much more because I can’t or don’t feel good…like our daughter’s dance classes. He or my mom take her to every single one, or have for the last three months. It’s something small, but it’s one more thing for him to handle.

Cancer can be a home wrecker. Cancer can be a life wrecker. It’s definitely changed my life, and sometimes, I do feel wrecked by it, but the one thing it will not do, if I have any say in it, is wreck my marriage. It can take away my health, my breasts, my hair, my well-being, my confidence…but, my marriage?

Nope…I’ll fight cancer tooth and nail for two things: the chance to see my children grow up and the chance to grow older with A.

breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Radiation Rectangle

Today marks my 18th radiation treatment. That means I have ten left. Ten more times where I get eleven doses of radiation. The radiation targets my supraclavicular lymph nodes, the lymph nodes and area under my arm, my chest wall, and the intramammary lymph node chain. Draw a line from my collarbone to my left armpit, down my left side to the middle of my rib cage, across the rib cage to my sternum, and up my sternum to my collarbone, and you have the rectangle of radiation.

My radiation therapists are really great people. There are three of them, and they do everything they can to make me comfortable and for the process to be quick. It’s not easy though. I get a CT everyday. I get an xray everyday. Then, when they’re satisfied everything is in the right place, they place this stretchy, solid gel like sheet on the side being radiated. It’s to increase the radiation going into the chest wall, the lymph nodes and area under my arm, and the intramammary chain. They don’t use it on the supraclavicular. I asked why and was told those nodes are closer to the surface.

Ok.

Consequently, the gel sheet thing increases the likelihood of radiation reactions. My radiation oncologist is watching my skin carefully. My skin under my arm is pink and turning red. The skin along my sternum has broken out into what looks like little spots of acne, but they’re really a radiation rash, according to Dr. D. It was the first radiation reaction I had…the rash popped up before my skin began changing colors. The skin underneath my tissue expander has turned a dark tan, and I noticed on Saturday, there is a blister forming there, which I was going to have Dr. D look at today because it freaked me out (shout out and thanks to my scumbag brain: WHAT IF THAT’S A SKIN MET?), but he was in a simulation and mapping session. Two of the radiation therapists looked at it and agreed they’re radiation blisters and said my skin is following a normal progression of damage. They told me to expect the skin under my arm to become very tender and sore over the next few days, to watch the blisters, and to wear shirts that will not cause more friction on my skin and to be aware of how I’m holding my left arm. They recommended I wear loose fitting cotton shirts.

UGH.

In many ways, radiation has been easier than chemo. I’m tired, but I’m no more tired than I was with chemo. I’m just over having to go every single week day. I’m not in pain (yet) like I experienced with chemo (the skin reactions…the muscle aches). But, still, it’s not fun. It’s exhausting, and it’s one more hill to climb on this stupid roller coaster.

Treatments 1-18 have gone quickly. I just hope the next ten go just as quickly. I’m ready for this to be over. I’m ready to move on. And, yet, at the same time I’m terrified of it being over and of moving on. If this is keeping my cancer at bay, what if stopping makes it come back or lets it come back? That’s my fear.

And, I don’t know I’ll ever get over it.

breast cancer, life, teaching, Uncategorized

Wigless

I woke up a little late on Friday a week ago, and I decided I just didn’t care anymore what anyone thinks of my hair. So, I went to work without a wig or hat. I threw a wig in my bag, just in case I was uncomfortable.

When the bell rang for the kids to go to first period, one of my students came in as I stood writing on the white board with my back to him. He thought I was a sub until I turned around. He stared at me, I stared at him, and he shrugged. “No one cares what your head looks like, Mrs. V. We’re just glad you’re back,” he told me and wandered over to the coffee maker I keep in my room for us to use.

He read my mind. I was worried I looked silly and everyone would think I looked stupid. But, he was right. None of my students said a thing about it. I got a couple of strange looks, but no more than I get when I wear my black and blue or black and purple wigs to school.

It felt good to be wigless. I like my wigs, but I’m all about comfort right now, and sometimes, my wigs are uncomfortable. I get hot. My head itches. So, on that Friday, it felt good to be wigless at work, and I’ve gone wigless everyday since (at least to work).

The amusing part of my hair coming back is how much darker it is. It’s either black or really dark brown, and my eyebrows don’t match it. At all. I really figured someone would comment on my eyebrows, but no one did. They’re still falling out, so I sucked it up last week, went to MAC, and got an eyebrow lesson and powder. I bought a two-color palette with a medium brown and a dark brown. I’ve been using the medium, but I need to use the dark brown if I’m going wigless.

I don’t know if I’ll go wigless everyday now, but at least I feel like I can.

breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Why I Chose a Bilateral Mastectomy

An article appeared on the New York Times’ website on Monday called “No Regrets After Double Mastectomy, but Questions Remain.” Essentially, the article discusses why women choose a bilateral mastectomy over a lumpectomy when diagnosed with an early stage breast cancer in one breast knowing research shows there is no statistical difference in long term survivablity between a bilateral mastectomy and a lumpectomy with radiation.

So, women like me.

It is a deeply personal choice, and what’s good for one, is not good for another. I can only tell you why I chose what I chose and if I would make the choice again.

First of all, I chose a bilateral mastectomy because, while I understand the statistical outcome is the same for mastectomy versus lumpectomy with radiation, I needed the peace of mind knowing the cancerous breast was gone. Does it eliminate the chance of a local reoccurrence (the cancer returning to the same breast area)? No. There could be a chest wall reoccurrence or reoccurrence near the mastectomy site in what tiny little breast tissue is left. But, does it give me some small, measurable peace of mind knowing the breast that tried to kill me is gone? Yes, it does. But, I will never, NEVER, stop worrying about a reoccurence. In fact, I had a meltdown last week because there is a long lumpy feeling thing on one side of the left tissue expander. I had an appointment with my OBGYN the next day. She felt the area and reassured me it is fatty tissue. My breast surgeon, only a week beforehand, had warned me I could possibly start to feel lumps and bumps, but they were most likely fatty tissue or dead tissue. My OBGYN told me my surgical sites are still swollen and healing internally. That is why I feel a long lumpy thing there. But, she also told me if I keep feeling it or I get nervous, call her, call my surgeon, or call my oncologist and one of them would set up some testing to make sure. Since then, the long lumpy thing is less lumpy. It was an area of swelling. There’s a similar area on my right side. But, knowing all that did not stop the sinking feeling when my fingers touched an area on my left breast and found a lump like thing. I’m grateful I had an appointment with my OBGYN already scheduled and she could offer me a small bit of peace.

Also, I wonder, if I’d chosen a lumpectomy, would all the pieces of the tumor been removed? My tumor disintegrated into small bits. Those bits are the reason the ER+ cancer was found. They’re the reason I’m on tamoxifen. Would I have needed a mastectomy anyway once the sentinels tested positive?

I’m not going to say I love the choice I made, but face it, I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. My choice to have a bilateral mastectomy was the only one I could handle.

The reason I chose to have both breasts removed is more complicated in my situation. I had a benign tumor in the right breast, for certain, but there was another tumor we did not know what it was because it did not appear on the mammograms or ultrasounds. It appeared only on the breast MRI. At that point, I knew, I wanted the right one removed as well. I couldn’t handle knowing there were tumors in the right breast, even though one tumor was benign and it was highly likely the unknown was benign. The right breast was normal according to the pathology, save the two fibroadenoma tumors. There were no changes in the right breast. I could have kept it.

I’m glad I didn’t. I know myself. It would have been a constant source of worry. I would have needed mammograms and ultrasounds on it every six months. I’m leery of medical tests now. They’re somewhat traumatic for me. There’s a lot of anxiety and fear in me when I have to go for any test now. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if I required almost constant monitoring of the right breast on the off chance it developed cancer, too. So, I’m glad I didn’t keep it. It was guilty by association.

In my heart of hearts, I knew I was going to opt for a bilateral mastectomy the moment I was told I had breast cancer. I know myself well enough to know if I had opted for the lumpectomy, I wouldn’t be able to cope with the monitoring. The testing. The fear. I’m scared now, but I know the fear would be much, much more if I had kept my breasts.

They were trying to kill me, after all, and still might.

My surgeon really prepared me for what would happen and what the after effects could be. I was prepared for the loss of sensation and feeling. I got lucky. I lost less feeling than I thought I would. There are places where my skin is numb, but again, the area is less than I expected.

I can feel hugs. The article mentioned how sometimes the loss of sensation means no longer feeling someone hugging you. I can’t imagine that. Hugs are one of the few things that really comfort me when I’m really upset. The only issue I have now with hugging is that hugs can be uncomfortable because my left side still hurts some and people forget. But, that’s about it. Also, I didn’t lose range of motion in my left arm. No part of it is frozen. From what I’ve read, I’m lucky I have as much feeling and sensation as I do and kept my range of motion. My only issue with it, right now, is stiffness. There are days, like today, where it is stiff. I saw Dr. D today and mentioned my arm was stiff. He told me to do some stretches.

What I was not, in anyway mentally or emotionally prepared for, was reconstruction, but again, my situation was different. I went into surgery expecting to wake up with a reconstructed chest using my own tissue. I woke up to a mostly flat chest reconstructed with tissue expanders because of the undetected cancer in my lymph nodes. My tissue expanders are fully inflated now. Size wise, I am the same as I was pre surgery. But, it’s still not what I expected or had prepared myself for, and while it’s not as hard to face or deal with anymore, it was rough. I needed time to adjust. I think I’ve done a good job of adjusting over the last month and a half since surgery. And now, as I stare true reconstruction surgery in the face this summer, I no longer know if I’m going to do the DIEP reconstruction. Right now, I’m leaning towards implants. It’s something I need to think about and really decide what I want to do. Today? I don’t want to do the extensive surgery and recovery required by the DIEP reconstruction. I might feel differently tomorrow. Who knows…

Ultimately, I ask myself this: would I makes the same choice again knowing the outcome of my bilateral mastectomy?

Yes. Absolutely.

It was the right choice for me. It was what my gut told me to do.

My gut was right.

breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Cancer Care and Politics

I rarely discuss politics with anyone outside my family and small group of friends because confrontations over politics are silly, my mind is made up on certain things, and frankly, I have better things to argue with people about than their political leanings, no matter how asinine I may find their politics. I’m not going to change their minds, and they aren’t going to change mine.

But, then I got cancer. And, it’s an election year. So, candidates are out there screaming about the things they’ll do.

Like overturn, get rid of, or gut the ACA (aka: obamacare).

As a cancer patient, that terrifies me. The ACA made it where health insurance companies cannot:

  • drop someone for a catastrophic diagnosis (like cancer)
  • refuse coverage due to a pre existing condition (like cancer)
  • enforce lifetime spending caps or lifetime limits on coverage expenditures (cancer care is expensive)
  • implement annual spending limits and refuse to cover treatments due to spending limits (cancer treatments are expensive)
  • deny coverage for clinical trial participation (I’m alive because of 2 drugs approved thanks to clinical trials)

Don’t believe me? Read the American Society of Clinical Ocologists‘ 2016 report on Cancer Care in America, page 26. In fact, I encourage you to read the entirety of the report.

I firmly believe two things: the ACA has saved thousands, if not millions, of lives thanks to access to healthcare, and the ACA saved my life because my health insurance had lifetime maximum and pre existing condition limits. It may have had annual limits. I don’t know. This is the first time, in the sixteen years I’ve had health insurance, where I’ve met my out of pocket deductible for anything other than pregnancy. Consequently, I never paid much attention to the limitations. Up until the end of 2015, I’d been extremely healthy.

image
From someecards…no infringement intended

My chemo treatments cost a little over $2300 per treatment. I had six treatments. That’s nearly $14,000. I’m still on one treatment drug. It costs about $400 per infusion according to my insurer. By the time I finish that treatment, it will cost a little under $10,000. I don’t know how much radiation is. I haven’t received a bill or EOB for it yet, but I have for the mapping and simulation. (UPDATE: I received my EOB for all radiation treatments. It was for $111,900. Yes, you read that right.) Without my health insurance, the mapping and simulation alone would have cost me a little under $2000. I’m not sure how much my monthly tamoxifen is because I’ve met my out of pocket maximum on prescriptions for this year, which I’ve never, in 16 years of having my own health insurance, done. I’m going to be on tamoxifen or one of its counterparts for a looooooong time, God willing, so I imagine it’ll be in the thousands if I live long enough to hear my doctor say I can stop taking it. The bill for my bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction phase 1, pathology testing, and hospital stay for two days? Nearly $80,000. I don’t know what my health insurance company’s cancer coverage was like before the ACA. I didn’t have cancer pre-ACA. I don’t know what the company practices were like. I just know I’m expensive, yet lucky because the ACA has provisions to ensure I don’t lose my insurance and my treatments are covered.

I firmly agree health insurance is expensive. Health care costs are insane. I also firmly believe access to health care is a right. Everyone should have access. Is the ACA perfect? Of course not! But, it’s a start.

And, as someone with cancer who hopes to be a cancer survivor, I’m terrified what will happen if the ACA goes away. Will I lose my insurance? Will I lose my protections? Maybe. And the thought is enough to terrify me. You want the ACA gone? What will replace it? The hope companies do the right thing? Please. Congress had to pass a law so companies would cover reconstruction after mastectomies. Seriously. It’s the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA).

More than 11 million signed up for health insurance through the marketplaces in 2016. How do I know that? A quick Google search. I know the ACA is not perfect, but I also know without some sort of protection, millions of people, are in danger of losing health coverage, and for someone like me, who has a catastrophic illness, if no protections existed, I could be at risk, too.

Honestly? I never thought too much about all this before my diagnosis. Now, I think about it a lot. When I see friends on FB posting about politics, about the ACA, I wonder…do they think about what people like me might lose? I pay a lot for health insurance. I’ve paid a lot for health insurance during the sixteen years I’ve worked full time since I graduated from college. I’ve paid hoping I never needed it, and until this year, I rarely needed my insurance. Now, I do. I deserve protections from being dropped, from procedures not being covered, from my lifesaving medications being covered. I didn’t ask for breast cancer. No one asks to get sick. No one wants cancer. But, we all want to have doctors and treatment options helping us survive and maybe beat this monster if we’re ever so lucky to hear those terrible words “You have cancer.” I never thought I’d be on this roller coaster, yet, here I am. How many others out there think like I did? That’ll never be me…there’s no family history. I’m too young.

Therefore but by the grace of God go you if you think that way because I thought that way, too. I saw women with breast cancer and smugly thought, “That won’t be me.” Oh, sweet summer child…if I only knew then when I was smug what I know now.

If this ever happens to you or someone you love, worrying your health insurance will drop you or your needs won’t be covered is the last worry anyone should have. The ACA gave us protections from companies that exist to make money.

I’m not looking for a political debate or to start a firestorm. I know I’m lucky to have insurance that’s covered everything they’ve covered and been compassionate every time I’ve had to deal with them. They’ve only balked at one test, and even it was covered after a twenty minute phone call from an insurance specialist at the imaging center. I wonder, though, what will happen if the protection I related at the beginning go away.

And, that’s enough to scare me. Deeply. Hence, I will not vote for a candidate who screams about repealing the ACA.

breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Crash

image
Meme created with memegenerator. No infringement intended.  

I made it through my first full week back at work and a full week of radiation. I even went out with some of my friends last night. I lasted until 8:30 pm last night. Then, I had to leave and come home where I crashed from exhaustion. I loved every minute of being with my friends. I loved every minute of being back at work. But, it’s been an exhausting week. Absolutely exhausting.

I slept until our cats woke me up after 9 am this morning, and I really haven’t done anything but lounge in bed. I’m still tired. My sinuses still aren’t playing nicely. My skin itches from radiation. I texted my mom earlier and told her I’m pretty pathetic today. She sent my dad to me with lunch since A took the kids out for the day.

My doctors tell me I’m overdoing. My family tells me I’m overdoing. My friends tell me I’m overdoing. The little voice in the back of my head tells me I’m overdoing. Yet…I keep going until I hit the wall. Like last night. As soon as I walked in the door, I crashed. I just crashed.

I know why I’m going full speed ahead. I want my life normal again. I want to appear like I’m healthy and cancer-free and can do everything I did before cancer, chemo, surgery, radiation. I don’t want to be Cancer Girl anymore. I know it’s stupid. I know I’m doing too much. I know I need to slow down a little. I know I need to rest more. I know I’m not completely recovered. I know I’m still undergoing cancer treatment. I know my stamina isn’t there. Yet, I still go full speed ahead, which seems like a recipe for disaster unless I stop and take some time for myself…like lounging in bed all day today.

Rest. Repair. Recover.

And, start all over on Monday.

breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Helping Heart

My left arm hurts today. I saw Dr. B, my obgyn, yesterday, and she commented that my surgical sites are still swollen and healing. Then, she reminded me that just because I feel mostly normal, albeit fatigued, and healed on the outside, it doesn’t mean my left side is 100% normal or that I’m completely healed on the inside. She told me she feels like I’m overdoing and overusing my left side. This afternoon, I believe her.

Right now, my saving grace is the purple, soft, and fuzzy heart pillow a friend gave me after surgery. imageI used it for weeks after surgery, and I’m using it again. Not only does it help and support my arm on a day like today when it’s sore, but it helps keep my skin from touching.

I’ve had 10 radiation treatments as of today. The skin under my left arm and along my left side and underneath the left tissue expander has started darkening and burning. I have a small blister in already. I douse myself in pure aloe vera after treatment. I use Aquaphor on the treatment areas. Sometimes, I use coconut oil on the treatment areas at night before I go to bed. I’m not completely miserable yet, but I feel like it’s coming.

I’m trying to wear very comfortable shirts to work. If it isn’t soft or easy to wear, it’s not happening. Today, I wore a cotton tshirt with a cardigan. I couldn’t imagine trying to wear anything else today. Tomorrow is a spirit day, so I can wear a school shirt and jeans. Most of my school shirts are cotton tshirts. I can handle that!

I’m looking at more surgery. Soon-ish. Yay.  😦   When I saw Dr. B yesterday, we talked about the ER+ cancer and the need to do an oophorectomy. She’s recommending I do a hysterectomy with an oophorectomy, and I’m leaning towards taking her recommendation. I’m going to talk it over with Dr. O when I see her again in May. I’m seeing her every nine week now instead of every three. It’s a little disconcerting to not have her checking me over every three weeks. No matter what I do, an oophorectomy or a hysterectomy with oophorectomy, it’s going to be when school is out. I also need to talk to Dr. L about it to see if it affects his ability to do the DIEP reconstruction, which is also scheduled for this summer. Dr. L’s goal is for the surgery to happen before August. I don’t want to delay the reconstruction. The recovery is more extensive. I don’t want to miss school next school year because of surgery. I know my health comes first, but I love my job and my administration. I want to be at work.

I wish none of this was a part of my life. I told Dr. B I feel like I’m never going to be done with treatment, and I feel like the fact it was in my lymph nodes makes it a death sentence. Then, I told her how tired I’ve been, and she told me if I’d get a good night’s sleep, I might feel differently, and my diagnosis is not a death sentence. I know she’s right, but sleeping doesn’t come easy lately, and my brain goes into overdrive.

I’m working on things. Maybe tonight will be restful. Maybe I won’t toss and turn tonight. Maybe my arm will stop aching.

That would be nice.

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These greeting cards are awesome…

Here’s a simple truth: saying the right thing to someone going through a difficult time, a debilitating illness, or a loss is REALLY hard. We don’t know what to say. So, we either get lucky and say the right thing, or we say the wrong thing and deal with the fallout.

There have been times on the coaster where people, including some I love dearly and am related to by blood or marriage, have said reeeaaaaallllly wrong things to me. Others, got lucky and said the right things. One of my closest friends said the best thing, “This sucks. This all sucks. This is crap. I want to punch your cancer. I’m bringing you dinner.” 😂

Even people who know me really well struggle sometimes with the right thing to say. Yesterday, while poking around the Internet, I stumbled upon Emily McDowell’s online studio*full of greeting cards that say things I wish I’d sent to people or that they’d sent to me.

Y’all. Seriously. Go check her cards out. Give the empathy*cards a look and laugh. If you have a snarky, sarcastic sense of humor like me, it’s worth it!

*These are not affiliate links or sponsored links. No one asked me to write this post or post site links. I found the site, I liked the site, the cards made me laugh, and I wanted to share.

breast cancer, life, teaching, Uncategorized

Back to Reality

I went back to work today. I loved the return of some normalcy. I loved being back with my coworkers and my students. I loved the discussions we had about the argument essay of the AP exam. It was a good day.

Now, here’s what I learned returning to work post-surgery:

  1. My left arm is NOT accustomed to doing everything I needed it to do today. When I got to radiation this afternoon and had to put my left arm out and bent at an angle, it hurt. It felt like stretching a muscle just to the point of painful. It ached the entire time I was at radiation.
  2. Sleeping well is a must because post-surgery fatigue isn’t gone. Lucky, our new kitten, slept with us last night and woke me up at 4:30 am. I didn’t fall asleep until after midnight. I tossed and turned until 1:30. So, I slept about three hours. I made it through the day pretty well, but right now, I’m exhausted. I’m pretty sure I could go to sleep right now and sleep until 5:30 tomorrow morning with no problem.
  3. I work at an awesome place. From the students who were genuinely glad to see me, the coworkers who came to see me and to welcome me back, the administrators who asked me to tell them if I needed anything other than for someone to watch out and make sure I didn’t overdo, being back today reminded me how lucky I am to work where I work. Their support has meant so much to me throughout this crazy roller coaster.

I did something for me this morning. I hauled my lazy tail out of bed at 5:30 and walked. It was a beautiful morning…just a little bite to the air. As much as I would have liked another 30 minutes to sleep, I know today went easier because I went to work relaxed. I don’t know if I can do this every morning, but I’m going to try.

It made returning to reality easier.